tg's H/C Alphabet
All stories contain some amount of hurt/comfort. Not all contain sneezing.
A- Allergy- Angel/Collins as declared by silverelf
B- Brothers- Bill & Charlie as declared by Rosa _la_mysterieuse
C- Chicken Soup- Don as declared by tinadp
D- Denial- Hornblower & Bush as declared by girlwithtulips
E- Exhaustion- Ro & Dan as declared by lilyfrost
F- Fever- Legolas (L/G) as declared by ladykorana
G- Galu- Thranduil and a very young/small Legolas as declared by deerda
H- Honor- undecided right now as declared by Meg smokeycat_430
I- Indecision- Claire/Charlie as declared by symphonyflute
J- Jetlag- Wolverine/Nightcrawler as declared by silverelf
K- Kite- Remus/Sirius as declared by Vignette kiss_me_caustic
L- Lonely- Tatsumi/Watari or Tatsumi/Tsuzuki as declared by f_butterfly
M- Midnight- Cedric/Oliver as declared by Vignette kiss_me_caustic
N- Naughty- Percy/Oliver as declared by brigidmn
O- Oblique- Willow/Spike as declared by katleaf
P- Pain- Obi/Qui as declared by A
Q- Quiet- Legolas/Elrohir as declared by katleaf
R- Rain- Sirius/Remus as declared by tinadp
S- Sleep- Legolas/Aragorn as declared by deerda
T- Torn- Daniel as declared by tma
U- Understanding- James/Lily as declared by A
V- Veritaserum- Snape/Dumbledore as declared by a4o
W- Whipped- Nagi as declared by sirenprincess
X- Xebec- Horatio/Archie as declared by tma
Y- Yearning- Legolas (L/G) as declared by ladykorana
Z- Zealous- Snape/Filch as decided by me (no characters specified by Anonymous)
* * * * *
Title: A is for Allergy
“I believe so,” Collins answered, his voice extra deep and breathy. His jaw dropped open further and he breathed into a handkerchief he brought up in front of his face. His breaths increased in strength, in speed, and he pitched forward again. “huhh-CHOO! huhhSHOO!”
“Bless you, Honey,” said Angel, keeping his distance, despite an urge to go to him.
Collins smothered a hearty blow of his nose into the hanky and looked up, blinking tears out of his itching eyes. “It's snffsnff just my allergies.” He tried to sound reassuring, but kept his distance, despite an urge to go to him.
“You have allergies…” Angel said, understanding. The sneezes had certainly come on too strong and too suddenly to have been a cold. Thank God for allergies.
“hehhhShooo! ehhhhCHOO! H'CHOO!” The sneezes rocked Tom back and then forward again. “huhhh-Shoo!” And they were so hard and fast he could barely get a word in edgewise any more.
Perhaps not something to be so thankful for. “What is it?” asked Angel, worriedly. He raised an arm, sniffing himself. “I don't think I'm wearing a new scent.”
Collins shook his head, his nose buried in his handkerchief. “hahhChoo!” He raised a hand and pointed to the flower tucked into Angel's breast pocket, and then across the room at the small bunch of flowers on the beaten-up dresser which doubled as Angel's changing station.
“The flowers, Baby?” he headed over, sniffing the small bunch. The tiny little violet flowers did have a pungent scent. A present from Mimi, who'd had them slipped into her unmentionables along with some bills the previous night at the club, Angel still felt it was no loss when the window was thrown open and the flowers were tossed out onto the fire escape.
“huhh-CHOO! hahhCHOO! Hah-hahh-SHOO!” Collins sat down on the end of the bed, hunched over, waiting for the attack to pass.
When Angel sat down next to Collins, she was hitching up her stockings and wearing the wig with the notably fake flower. “I'm sorry. I didn't know…” Stroking the back of Collin's head, she eased his cheek onto her shoulder.
Shoulder pads made it nice and comfortable, and Collins smiled and sniffled. “I know. It's all right. Hah-ihCHOO! It's only allergies. Only a few-hah- a few sneezes. Hahh-CHOO!”
“A few cute sneezes.” Fingers gently caressed Collins' cheek and eyes looked upon him fondly.
“Cute? Snffsnff! Really?” He rubbed a finger at his nose. “Want to get those flowers back, then?”
“Absolutely not!” Angel laughed, pushing Collins back onto the bed. Angel turned and gracefully fell beside him, face down with one leg kicked up in the air. Collins rubbed his nose, his dark eyes blinking. They itched, but he did not rub them. Angel tenderly kissed the corner of one eye, just as Collins sniffed again. “I'll just enjoy it while it lasts.”
“Heh,” Collins chuckled, an oncoming sneeze forcing his eyes closed again. “huhh-CHOOO! hahh-SHOO! HAH-SHOO!” He shook violently with each, rubbing his nose into his handkerchief.
Angel kissed his cheek gently and nuzzled. “Bless you. Are you *sure* you're okay, Honey?”
Collins turned on his side and wrapped his arm around Angel, pulling her closer. “What do you think, Love?” He still had a way to go before he hit a thousand kisses, but a few now in reassurance were a few well spent.
* * * * *
Title: B is for Brothers
Fandom: Harry Potter
It was difficult to be sick. It was also usually difficult to be the oldest sibling in the Weasley family. He always went out of his way to look after the others. When Ginny had chicken pox, Bill had flown home to help out. When Percy became Head Boy at Hogwarts, Bill had sent a gift and flooed in to talk with Percy for over an hour. When the twins had opened their store, he had helped with all the moving. He loved his family and his place within it, but they took a lot of his time and energy.
Moving back to England from Egypt had come with a barrage of ups and downs. Working with the Order was worth settling for a desk job and leaving friends behind. Even when nightly patrols in the cold and the rain turned a little sniffle in his nose into a terrible head cold.
Bill tried to hide it at work- not too difficult considering Goblins paid more attention to money than their employees. Bill tried to hide it from his parents- much more difficult considering Arthur and Molly's overprotective natures. Bill tried to hide it from the Order- impossible considering Dumbledore.
And so Bill found himself heading home in the middle of the day. He started out the day by planning to stop by the chemist on the way home; he had very little in the way of necessities in his apartment. But after he started losing his voice from all the coughing, he decided to skip that stop. So he planned on scraping together bits of leftovers to make something edible. But, halfway from home, he decided even that was too much effort and that he could settle for just a hot shower before bed. When he was at the end of his street, however, he was willing to give up the shower as well in favor of sleep. Anything else took far too much effort and energy, which he definitely did not have.
He rubbed his nose into his shoulder as he came up the walk and got out his keys. It was ticklish and irritating, just like his throat, and he just wanted to get inside where he could relax and let himself go. But once he'd opened the door, he was faced with a scene he hadn't expected.
“Charlie? What are you doing here?” he asked, his voice weak and squeaky. Just saying those few words made him wince and cough a few times.
Charlie set the clicker down to turn off the tele and stood to face Bill. “You're not the only one who's allowed to be the concerned, helpful brother.” He walked over and immediately felt Bill's forehead. “You sound just dreadful.”
Bill nodded, closing his eyes to the touch. He was sure he wasn't feverish, but the hand against his forehead felt nice just the same. “I feel dreadful,” he said, coughing again. “'Scuse me,” he whispered, which was about all he could do now.
“I heard you weren't feeling well but you sound worse than I was expecting.” He grabbed Bill's arm and risked sounding just like his mother. “Straight to bed with you.”
“Just what I'd been planning,” said Bill, letting his younger brother pull him down the hallway to the bedroom. When they got there, Bill stopped short in surprise. His warmest pair of pajamas were set out on top of the bed, upon which several extra blankets had already been piled. The top of the nightstand was covered by tissue boxes, a thermos of water, a thermometer in its case, and a bag of cough drops. There was also something the size of a small box that was blasting out hot, moist steam.
“I got in this morning and thought I might get things ready for you,” Charlie explained, setting Bill down on the bed and waiting while the man changed. “Hopefully I haven't forgotten anything. I'm used to taking care of hurt animals and sick dragons. They're a little more difficult than people but it's largely the same.”
Bill pulled his pajama top on and reached back to free his ponytail where it had been trapped against his neck and under the shirt collar. “Looks to me like you got everything,” Bill said, inspecting the assembled sick-accessories. “Impressive.”
“This is only half of it,” Charlie went on. “I made some soup and a few helpings of that extra-spicy Romanian dish you like. And I stocked your fridge with the necessities- it was pitiful before, Bill, just catsup and cheese and beer. I also swung by the library and took out a few new books for you to read while you're in bed. And…” he gestured to the bed. “Go on, get in.”
Bill obeyed, swinging his legs up and shuffling himself under the covers. His feet met with something incredibly warm, but far from hot. His toes wiggled in his socks and he pressed his feet against it, feeling warmth rush through his whole body.
“A warming pad. We use them in the nests of baby dragons who don't have mothers and can't be fostered because we're on location or what not. They're charmed to stay warm for days.” He stroked Bill's head gently. “Do you like it?”
Bill sighed happily. “You're the best brother ever,” he whispered, quickly breaking into thick coughs. And when he reached for the water, Charlie was already pouring a cupful for him. When Bill sat up to drink, Charlie plumped Bill's pillows to help him stay more upright. And when Bill lay back again, he stroked Bill's head again. “Seriously,” he said, half-squeaking instead of whispering. “You're not going anywhere, right?”
Charlie stopped stroking and, instead, punched Bill in the shoulder. “And you're supposed to be the smartest of us!” he laughed. “Yes, I came all the way from Romania to cook you soup and wash your sheets and split as soon as you fell asleep. Stupid Bill! Of course I'm not going anywhere.”
Bill coughed but smiled blushingly. He accepted a book from Charlie and eyed it curiously.
Charlie explained. “I borrowed a few by wizards and witches, too, but I know how much you love those muggle mysteries Father got you into.”
Still coughing, Bill made sure to give his brother a grateful albeit quiet 'thank you' as soon as he could. If Charlie was even half as good with magical creatures as he was with people, Bill had no trouble understanding why he was held in so high regard at his job.
Furthermore, when Charlie jumped up onto the bed and sat beside him, putting a hand on Bill's shoulder and letting Bill rest half of the book against his thigh so it was at a proper reading angle, Bill could not imagine anyone else he would have wanted there, taking care of him. This reminded him of when they were growing up in The Burrow, looking after each other when Mum and Dad were busy with their younger siblings.
Bill sniffled and glanced past Charlie to the tissue box. He had barely moved a hand off the book when Charlie reached over instead and got a tissue for him. Bill blew his nose, then coughed into it a few times. Then, when he went to toss it aside, Charlie took it from him and threw it away for him in order to give Bill nothing to worry about.
As the eldest Weasley sibling, Bill really hadn't expected this sort of attention or caring. And though he certainly hadn't expected Charlie to come all this way and do so much for him like this, he had to admit he was exceedingly glad that Charlie was there now to make it easier for him to be sick.
* * * * *
Title: C is for Chicken Soup
Don emerged from the bathroom and immediately his attention was drawn across the room to where his brother suddenly was. Charlie was half-sitting on the edge of a desk, one leg still straight and the other bent and partially resting on the desk. His arms were crossed over his chest and he cocked his head when he saw Don.
Don headed over, rubbing at his nose on the way so that he looked and sounded presentable. “Hey, Charlie. What are you doing here? Did someone call you to consult on a case?”
Shaking his head, “No, they called me about you.” He reached down and picked up the square tissue box, eyeing it, then he looked at Don over the tissue which came up through the top. “They tell me you're sick and won't go home.”
“I have a case to work. I can't just let that go because I have a little head cold,” explained Don reasonably. Then he reached for the tissue in the box and folded it over his nose. “YihhShoo! IhhhChoo!”
“Gesundheit. Actually, I've told you have more than a little head cold and that your team's working the investigation fine. They say you should go home.” Don helped himself to two more from the box.
“Look, Charlie, I appreciate the concern but I'll be all right.”
Charlie shrugged. “You really should go home.”
Don laughed. He hardly ever went home, and though he had to admit his bed did seem pretty attractive right now, it could wait a little while. “What do you know about it? You're a mathematician, not a doctor.” He rubbed at his nose, sniffing. He wasn't going to let his little brother talk him into taking a sick day when there was work to be done and he really wasn't all *that* sick.
Charlie gave him a look and withheld the tissues just as Don reached for another.
Sniffling, Don rubbed the back of his hand against his nose. “Maybe after dinner,” he finally conceded. “It's meatloaf night tonight, right?” Tonight was one of their family dinners, even though it wasn't always exclusively family; Amita was supposed to be coming to this one tonight.
“Not for you,” Charlie replied. “When you're done at work, you should go home.” Don tried to object, but Charlie got up and handed the tissue box over. “I don't want to see you at the house. Go home to your place, take some medicine, and get some rest, okay? You're no good to these guys sick.”
Don nodded. “See you later, Char.”
Charlie headed out with a pat to Don's arm.
Don cautiously peeked into the kitchen and saw Charlie at the stove, cooking. Charlie glanced back over his shoulder, not looking the least bit surprised to see Don. Don looked around, expecting to see dinner preparations, but apart from a pot on the stove, there was no evidence that it was nearly seven o'clock on a family dinner night.
“We ate at six,” Charlie said, reading his brother's mind. “You were supposed to be at your apartment sleeping by now so we didn't wait for you.”
“Yeah,” Don nodded. “I know, but… yihhh… ihhhChuhh! yihhChoo!” Don dug out a tissue; he had stocked his pockets with them earlier. “I remembered I don't have much food in the place and I thought being around family might make me feel better. Clearly I underestimated you all.” He sunk into one of the chairs at the kitchen table and blew his nose repeatedly.
He heard some noise of clinking dishes and footsteps coming towards him. Don opened his eyes when he felt a hand on his back to find a bowl on the table in front of him. “What's this?”
“Can't you tell? It's chicken soup,” Charlie said, retrieving a spoon and setting it down next to the bowl. “Eat up before it gets cold.”
“Wait, you made this for me?” he asked, blinking down at it. He could barely see the broth for all the noodles, pieces of carrots and celery, and the large chunks of chicken. Stem rose visibly from it and he cupped a hand to the bowl to enjoy its warmth. “You were going to bring a thermos of it over to me?”
Charlie shook his head. “I made it because I knew you were going to stop by even though I told you specifically not to. Since when do you listen to me about anything other than math?”
Laughing, Don picked up the spoon. “Since now.” He said, digging in before it got cold.
* * * * *
Title: D is for Denial
Fandom: Horatio Hornblower, movieverse- set during Loyalty (slightly AU)
Pairing: Horatio/Maria, Horatio/Bush
*The ship will be fine. The ship will be fine. The ship will be fine.* If Horatio repeated it to himself, he might just begin to believe it. Not wanting his men to see him in this state, he headed belowdecks to his cabin. The chair scraped along the wooden floor as he dragged it back and collapsed into it in one. With elbows on his table, hands against his forehead, and fingers in his hair, he sighed deeply.
First there had been suspicion regarding working with, and practically for, a Frenchman. Then an incident with several of the officers and two of the cattle took some sorting out. The fact that the ship had nearly burned thanks to carelessness and he'd had to order one of his own flogged had been bad enough, but just now one of the ropes in the rigging of the main sail had snapped. The whole mission seemed doomed, somehow, and he had a very bad feeling about it as they proceeded onward. Horatio knew by now that there were always problems. But, as the captain, he had to know about and deal with every one of them.
If only he could do so without the monstrous pain in his head. *I am not falling ill. I am not falling ill. I am not falling ill* Perhaps, if he told himself that enough times, he might actually begin to believe it. *I am not falling ill. I am not falling ill.* And perhaps not. He coughed several times, light but raspy. He did not care much for the sound of them.
They had first presented themselves the day of the Hotspur's departure. He had been careful not to let any of the men hear the coughs, stifling them or muffling the sound in his scarf or his arm as the occasion called for it. But, despite his efforts, Ms. Maria Mason had noticed them. And, when asked, he merely called up an ex use of exhaustion. He felt certain she did not believe him entirely on that point.
She inquired about his health twice more during their discussion, and nearly went as far as to feel his forehead with her hand, an action Horatio would have dreaded. If not for the sound of a foghorn being tested at the end of the docks, startling them both, she surely would have begun fussing over him. And he could not think of anything more awkward or uncomfortable.
Horatio had bid her farewell and quickly turned around, the present of gloves in hand. He had been fighting a maddening tickle in his throat all through the somewhat awkward goodbye and was actually relieved to go back to the comfort of his ship, away from her gaze.
There was a knock on the door to his cabin and Horatio raised his head. After clearing his throat, he called out, “Yes?”
It was First Lieutenant Bush, who had knocked because it was required of him in his position though Horatio had told him several times now that it was not necessary. Bush had a plate in hand. “As Styles is…” He cleared his throat as well. “I thought I would bring you your dinner.” He moved smoothly and quietly, carefully setting the plate down on the table in front of Horatio and then sitting down in the chair across from Horatio.
Horatio stared down at it. From the state of it, it was clear who had not prepared it. “Thank you,” he said, genuinely appreciating the gesture. “But I find I have no appetite.” Tired, yes, but not hungry. “Would you eat it for me? I would hate for it to go to waste and the last thing I need to worry about is rationing.” He slid it across the table to Bush who neither immediately ate nor picked it back up.
Instead, he folded his arms on the table and leaned forward. “Horatio…” he began.
Taking them by surprise, Horatio coughed. *Not ill. Not ill. Not ill. Not ill.* He made no attempt at hiding the cough as it continued, though he did turn his head and cup a handkerchief to his face to spare Bush having to watch. *Not ill.*
“Horatio, are you ill?”
With a strange, comfortable sort of ease, Horatio found himself admitting that he was with a definite nod.
“Must I even ask if you will see the doctor about this?”
Looking down at his lap, Horatio shook his head. But when he raised his eyes, he saw that Bush was smiling.
“I will let everyone know you are not to be disturbed on pain of death.” Horatio laughed as Bush rose and walked around the table to him. “And I will see you to bed for the evening.” Horatio knew it would do no good to object, especially as Bush had hold of his arm and was already walking him over.
Horatio climbed into his hammock. Its gentle rocking was a soothing familiarity. Even more soothing was the hand he suddenly felt upon his forehead, applying pressure just where it ached. Horatio tried not to notice how easily he invited such intimacy from William when the thought of it from Maria made him uneasy. But he had always been more at home here at sea and among men. That did not necessarily mean anything. *I do not fancy William. I do not fancy William. I do not—*
“Worry not,” Bush interrupted Horatio's thoughts. “I will look after your ship for you.”
Horatio felt his heart leap in his chest. There was no thought more comforting than knowing the ship was in such capable, caring hands. “My thanks to you, Sir,” he said with a grateful sigh and another cough.
When Bush removed his hand from forehead, he patted the top of Horatio's head a few times, almost stroking. Horatio felt his eyes closing at once. Feeling reassured, Horatio allowed himself to relax fully and drift off to sleep with just a little more self-assurance. *Even if I do fancy William, it does not need to interfere with my duties. I will still be a good captain. I will still be a good captain… * For the first time that night, denial had turned into a realistic expectation.
* * * * *
Title: E is for Exhaustion
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Elladan stared right down the smooth shaft of the arrow as he cocked it in his bow. His twin leaned forward, mouth-to-ear, whispering with a bit of a tune, “I am a better shot than you.” Dan grinned knowingly and fired.
His aim was true. The arrow sliced through the air and, though Ro's arrow had hit the very center of the target, Dan's split it down the middle. “Are you truly?” Elladan asked with amusement.
Elrohir reached for his bow and pulled out another arrow. Determined to prove himself, he aimed and released, splitting the arrow at the center of the target as well.
The twins looked at the display, then look at each other. Even as ever. Their skills at horseback riding had been flawless and identical. Their craftsmanship brought equal amounts of praise. Clearly archery was not the proper forum for besting each other either.
And this is how they ended up rolling around on the ground together, attempting to pin the other down and failing admirably at that task. The moment Ro thought he had Dan, Dan would flip them over. His hands held down on Ro's shoulders but underestimated his twin's legs, which threw him off balance and caused them to roll over again.
Before they realized it, the wrestling actually took them down a gradual slope to the riverbed. And, as Dan slithered out from beneath Ro's grasp yet again, they both set their sights on the river. It seemed fairly obvious that neither target practice nor wrestling would define the difference between the two young-at-heart sons of Elrond.
But, perhaps, a good swim might. “First one to the Willow,” Elladan declared, stripping off his tunic and slipping off his boots.
“Swimming against the current,” Elrohir agreed, taking off all clothes except for a bright white pair of shorts.
They stood side-by-side on the pebbly bank, toes being lapped by the rapids. On a three count, they both took deep breaths and dove into river the as one. Legs kicked hard, bent arms stroked, and heads bobbed up for breaths and back under again. Slowly but steadily the twins made their way up the river and to the other side of the river. The old willow tree stood with several roots in the water, awaiting a touch from one of the wet, dark-haired elves.
Both worked hard, though already a bit tired from the archery and the wrestling, determined to prove himself and win against his twin brother. They fought through the cold water and fast waves. The task was difficult, but not entirely impossible. It took them both far longer than they'd anticipated, but they made it through the river to the tree.
Two hands reached out to touch the trunk at precisely the same instant. And they emerged from the water together, panting. Thoroughly exhausted, both flopped down on the riverbank on their backs, now fighting to catch their breath. Water dripped off them onto the pebbles and stones, and the sun shone down through the trees to help dry them.
The competition had been admirable, but the result was still undetermined. Racking his brain, Ro decided on another proposal. “A race? First one… back to our bedroom?”
His chest rising a falling with quick, shallow breaths, Dan still managed to nod. “Ready…” Both tensed up. “Set…” They readied themselves to jump up. “Go!”
Neither moved a muscle. Once Dan realize his brother was not moving either, he closed his eyes. “Exhausted,” he muttered, thinking over the intense afternoon.
“First one to fall asleep?” Elrohir asked, already well on his way.
Yawning, Elladan managed, “I may actually have you beat there.” He rolled over to his right, into his brother's side. Elrohir yawned as well and rested his head against Dan's, realizing, as he drifted off, that there was no way to determine now who had gone first.
* * * * *
Title: F is for Fever
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
No matter what else had transpired during the day— no matter how rotten the events had been or how many wonderful things had happened— Gimli always looked forward to his quiet evenings with Legolas the most. It was a true mark of their affection for one another. Gimli allowed Legolas the quiet needed to read and reflect and Legolas allowed Gimli to smoke his pipe indoors at this time of day only. More importantly, Gimli had grown to like the peace and quiet and Legolas had grown to like the smell of Gimli's pipe.
Tonight, however, the room was not quiet for even a minute's time and Legolas could smell absolutely nothing.
“hahhhh… hahhh-Shihhhh!” Legolas sneezed, falling forward so that his nose met the handkerchief he had raised in front of his face.
“Bl…” Gimli's blessing died away when he raised his eyes and looked upon the elf. Twitching ears and nostrils told him another sneeze was imminent.
“hihh-hehh-ehhhhh-K'Chihhh!” he sneezed again. Then he delicately rubbed at his visibly sore nose and sniffled.
“Bless,” Gimli said finally, knowing the elf did not expect it after every sneeze. In fact, Legolas had admonished Gimli numerous times already for fussing over him, but Gimli did not want to forget the niceties completely. He watched Legolas shift a little in his seat on the sofa and then pluck at his shirt with distaste. “What is the matter? Apart from the fact that you have not had the occasion to turn a page in near to an hour.”
With a bit of emotion in his expression, showing how extreme he felt his situation was, he explained, “I'm hot.”
Grinning, “Of course you are, my lovely elf.”
Legolas smiled slightly. “Yes, but I feel especially hot just now.”
Gimli nodded with a sympathetic expression. As rare as it was for an elf to catch cold, it was even rarer for one to have a fever. But if the first was possible, certainly the second was as well. But no matter how rare, it was still cause for Gimli's worry to increase. As much as he enjoyed these evenings, sitting with Legolas in front of the fire before bed, Gimli was starting to believe sitting fireside was doing Legolas no good. It would be far better to skip straight to the bed part.
“ehhh-Chuhhhh! hihChihhh! Hih-hih-” Legolas sighed as the third stuck and frustration took hold, though Legolas did not show it.
Gimli left his armchair and moved to the sofa. He felt Legolas' forehead with the back of his hand, but only as a formality. “Gimli…” Legolas sighed. “You are fussing again.”
“I am not,” Gimli insisted. He fingered the ends of Legolas' thick, long-sleeved shirt. “You would fault me now for wanting to see my elf with his shirt off?”
Legolas relaxed and allowed Gimli to pull the shirt off and set it aside. Gimli kissed Legolas' forehead. “Still hot. Well, off with your tunic then.”
“Gim—” Legolas began to protest, but Gimli was already tugging it over Legolas' head and the blond hair settled back down on pale, bare shoulders.
Another kiss tested temperature, though Gimli knew the change would not be so sudden. Legolas was indeed burning with heat. Gimli could feel it, even before his hand or his lips actually made contact with skin.
“ihhhh…ehhhh…” The elf needed to sneeze again, and harsh rubs at his nose with the handkerchief made no difference. “hih-IHTChhhhh!”
“Galu, Legolas.” One boot was slipped off, and then the other, and Legolas' feet at least were cooler, but not cool enough. So off came Legolas' belt. Another kiss allowed Gimli to untie Legolas' leggings and tug at them. Understanding, Legolas pushed himself up so that Gimli could slide them off.
Feeling as comfortable nude as clothed in front of Gimli, in their home together, Legolas snuggled into Gimli only because he was growing fond of the series of lovely kisses and touches. He did not want Gimli to stop completely, suddenly. He smiled outright when he found Gimli was standing for him. “You appear to be hot as well.”
Nodding, Gimli rose from the sofa and took Legolas in his arms. He carried the elf to bed.
Legolas sniffled and rested his cheek against Gimli's shoulder as he was taken down the hall to the bedroom. “My cold might be heavy, but it is in my head, not my feet,” Legolas said.
“I carry you to bed most nights. Should I do otherwise just because you are sick? Thought you did not want me fussing over you.”
Legolas was laid upon the bed, but Gimli left him for a moment. He returned and climbed up onto the bed. Legolas was stretched out on the sheets, looking just as hot as he felt. Hair was spread out on the pillows to free his neck and back of it and there was a dampness to his forehead even before Gimli applied a cool cloth.
Legolas shivered at that, and Gimli chuckled, pulling a blanket up to cover the elf. Legolas frowned at it and pressed his hand to his forehead, holding the cloth in place as he sat up halfway. He pushed down the covers and looked to Gimli for warmth instead. The dwarf obliged, easing Legolas back down then snuggling close.
Putting an arm around the dwarf to hug him close, Legolas sighed. Legolas used his free hand to press the cloth to his forehead and looking momentarily uncomfortable again. “I will do it,” Gimli said, reaching up and flipping the wet cloth so the cooler side was against the hot skin. Legolas sighed again, happily. “I thought you did not want me fussing,” he said with a smile and a kiss to Legolas' neck.
Legolas tried to hide his smile, and failed. He ran his hand down Gimli's chest and found his pocket, withdrawing a handkerchief Gimli had been holding just in case. “hihh-hihh-K'Schhhh! Sniff! My favorite part of day is lying here in bed with you,” he said thoughtfully, closing his eyes.
“Good, for I will be staying here all night and day until your fever breaks.”
Legolas did not try to hide his smile at that.
* * * * *
Title: G is for Galu
Fandom: Lord of the Rings (waaaaay pre-The Hobbit)
As if it were not humiliating enough for King Thranduil Oropherion to find himself with a cold, he was devastated to realize his young son had caught it from him. This was part understandable, considering the two had been alone with each other for days now on the cold journey from Rivendell. But that did not make it easier to contend with.
Thranduil glanced down at Legolas, riding his own horse. The young elfling had a good seat and excellent form for one his age. Though his skill was somewhat affected by a barrage of symptoms that he freely displayed, unlike his father. As such, their progress was slower than it should have been. And though Thranduil longed to be back in the comforts of his home, he did not want to seem as though he were rushing them. Legolas seemed miserable enough as it was.
Legolas snapped forward in his seat with a sneeze, followed directly by plenty of coughing. Thranduil silently cleared his own throat before speaking. “Galu.”
Legolas rubbed the handkerchief his father had given him at his nose and looked up curiously. “Adar?” He had never heard the word before, and did not understand its use. “Pardon?”
Thranduil nearly smiled, as he remembered that this was Legolas' first cold. “It is a blessing, said whenever another elf sneezes.”
“Ah,” Legolas said with a nod. “Thank you.”
They rode onward, sitting elegantly in their saddles through the bumps and bounces of horseback riding over somewhat rocky terrain. While Legolas looked about as the scenery passed them by, Thranduil's sights were directed straight ahead only. The land was alive, ever-changing, but the changes were too gradual to bother noticing, and he knew the trip so well for all his years. All his energy was invested, instead, upon staying alert to possibly dangers and upon resisting the urges of his cold. As aware as he was of every tree they passed and of every bird stirring the leaves of a tree, he was aware of his malady working against him. He frequently, silently, cleared his throat and inhaled slowly but strongly through his nose as much as he could when it ran. He clenched his teeth tightly and held his breath when compelled to cough or, worse still, sneeze. For as loathe as he was to have anyone know he was sick, he was even more concerned about his son perceiving him to be in a weakened state. And so he even went as far as to muffle an occasional escaped cough into his arm or to pinch the bridge of his nose when he felt a most powerful sneezing coming on.
“Ada, *why* is it customary to bless someone after a sneeze?” Legolas asked so suddenly that Thranduil nearly gave up a sneeze to surprise.
As it was, he had to pinch his nose for nearly one full, torturous minute before he felt able to reply. “Elves rarely fall ill. But it is said that such illness lies within Middle Earth, not with the Valar. Many go as far as to relate it to mortality itself, though it is unusual for an elf to suffer anything even remotely that serious. The blessing is to remind us of where we are from and who we are meant to be.”
“Ah,” Legolas said again with understanding. Then he snapped forward again with another sneeze. He scrubbed his nose with the back of his hand and then drew his blonde hair back from his face with a sweep of his hand. He looked up expectantly to see his father nod towards him.
“Galu, iôn nin.” Legolas beamed and nodded back.
They rode quietly, apart from audible sniffles from the younger elf. Thranduil played out the possibilities of their return in his mind. He greatly desired a rest and knew some herbal tea he should have; Lord Elrond was not the only elf in Middle Earth with some skill in healing. It was, in fact, impossible to live so long with occasional suffering and not pick up something on the subject. But he knew he would be needed immediately in his throne room to discuss matters which had arisen over the last few days, whether they be resolved or unresolved.
Another small, weak, freely-given sneeze rent the silence and Thranduil did a quick assessment of his son's condition: no worse but certainly no better. “Galu,” he said. Above his responsibilities to himself and above his ruling of Mirkwood, came his concern for his son. He would see Legolas into his bedroom in the underground palace, and would tuck him into bed, had he a choice over his actions. And, as king, he could fathom no reason that he could not make such a decision.
Another sneeze struck, but this time from Thranduil. He had pinched his nose and held his breath. He had even closed his eyes tightly to the urges. But nothing at all had helped this time. And he knew it was not always possible to be helped; such was the nature of a cold. Nonetheless, he hated himself for letting the sneeze out, even though it was half restrained and followed only by a single sniffle.
Legolas looked up, the same young, curious expression on his face as he had had when Thranduil had spoken the unknown word. “Was that a sneeze?” he asked, cocking his head.
Thranduil disliked lying more than he disliked looking ill. “It was, in fact.”
“Then Galu,” Legolas said cheerfully, as though the blessing alone could offer the sort of healing and comfort need.
Though, in a way, perhaps it did. Legolas could understand his current misery first-hand, and yet offered the word with tones of innocent cheerfulness and caring. It made him smile slightly, pleasantly. He looked down at Legolas and gave another nod. “Thank you.”
* * * * *
Title: H is for Honor
Fandom: Highlander (set during Season 3 episode The Samurai)
Rating: PG for violence only
As a Scottish Highlander, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod had always thought he knew a thing or two about honor. He knew the shame which came from disgracing one's family, and he knew the joy of fighting for the right to live. It was funny that it took being shipwrecked on the other side of the world to show him there were more ways to be honorable than he had ever thought. Duncan only wished that it hadn't meant losing a teacher and friend in the process.
He knew they would come for him anyway. He knew from the moment it was done, that it was not enough. The Shogun had indeed been generous to Hideo Koto, letting the man keep his honor and that of his family by way of a ritual suicide rather than a murder. Despite the law of the land, Hideo had taken Duncan in, saved him, and treated him, a barbarian, as though he had honor. Duncan had saved Hideo's life once, but understood enough about honor now to make a promise, stand by him, and help him to die. However, once the deed was done, there was nothing to stop the Shogun's men from killing Duncan anyway.
Duncan did not know exactly what they would do to find him, but if these men were anything like the English soldiers had been after Culloden, Duncan knew the wood and paper houses would burn and Mya was in grave danger. And, whatever happened to him, he would not see that happen.
He heard the heavy-footed horses and the jangling armor. Lifting his head, he brushed tears out of his eyes, having found them there only after Hideo lay dead on the floor, for he had tried to be strong and honorable before. Duncan's hand closed over the Katana's beautifully-carved dragon hilt. With a deep breath, he rose to his feet and walked outside to meet his enemies.
He saw them dismount as they approached, a blur of reds and golds with the sun glinting off them. They were not many. Apparently, they had underestimated him because he was a barbarian. Surely he would be no match for four well-trained Samurai warriors.
He smelled death as he began, the mortals charging at him and fighting a losing battle. Duncan had skills honed for as long as they had been alive. He knew western fighting moves and, thanks to Hideo, he also knew eastern ones. Duncan could anticipate, and he did not shy away from the weapons the way most men did. He fought back and fought hard.
He tasted blood in his mouth and could not tell at first who it belonged to. Two men lay dead at his feet and a third fell as he coughed, realizing it was his own blood and that there was a wound in his stomach. The fourth came up to him to his left, sword raised high. The need to keel over and curl his body around the wound was strong, but his will was stronger. He raised his new sword to block the attack. The blades met with a sharp clang that Duncan knew would have broken his claymore in two easily. Then Duncan threw the sword off and quickly pulled back and came down for a swift cut. Unfortunately, the man had chosen to thrust and their proximity was such that Duncan could not both attack and block. As the Katana sliced through the man's neck, the man's sword pierced Duncan's chest. Duncan felt it in his heart but tried to stand upright in the glory of winning the small battle just long enough for the final warrior to fall. Then Duncan collapsed. His body tensed and then relaxed as not only consciousness but life itself left him. He died.
He felt a tremendous, stabbing pain in his chest and opened his eyes to see the sword still sticking out of his belly. Wincing and grunting a bit, Duncan sat back up and pulled it out. It was not unusual to feel winded after coming back, especially as injured as he had been. But it was unusual to die alone and come back to an audience.
Mya stared at him, wide-eyed. Duncan struggled to both recompose himself and explain. “Do not try ta understand, Mya,” he said, trying to make his words clear through his thick Scottish burr. “Just know that now I carry with me the spirit of Hideo Koto and all the Kotos. On my honor, from this time on, your family will be my responsibility.” He saw blood on her kimono but also saw the golden spyglass tucked beneath the ribbon at her waist. He knew that, whatever she felt for him, she would stay true to her family and believe his words. “I must go. I'll nay dishonor ye further.” He struggled to his feet, his deadly wounds already healed. He turned away to start down the road, thinking he had glimpsed her beauty for the last time.
“Wait!” she called to him.
Startled, Duncan froze in place for a moment before turning back around to face her. “Aye?” Now that her father was gone, she did not have to respect his wishes. Duncan half expected her to slap him or even pick up a sword and run him through again. He was only guessing that once he had left the Shogun would not send more men to kill Mya.
Instead, she showed him a kind smile. “You have a long journey ahead of you. I would be honored if you would take some food and a horse.”
Even more startled, Duncan merely nodded dumbly. She went quickly to gather some food, leaving him alone with the dead around him. And, in his hand, was a sword that had already served him well. It had slain his enemies and it had restored his honor in full. It was only fitting that his new friend, this Katana, had seen its first action in his hands when helping to kill a friend. Somehow, he knew it would serve him so well because of this and he hoped one day to be able to use it to fulfill his other debt of honor.
* * * * *
Title: I if for Indecision
Fandom: LOST (I've NO idea when this takes place- you choose)
Claire didn't like to use the word 'stuck' in reference to her situation with the baby, no matter how perfect it was. It was true she had flirted with the idea of terminating the unplanned pregnancy. She had issued the father ultimatums, and she had spent nearly every waking second trying to decide what to do about it. She had tried to give him over to a couple, but had been unable to sign the papers. And now, thanks to the plane crash, she had no choice but to have the baby and keep him. She was stuck with it.
But ever since the crash, she had not been as apprehensive as before. She had been genuinely terrified when the baby had stopped kicking and moving, and likewise incredibly relieved when it seemed the baby was all right. This was *her* baby, whether she was all right with it or not. She only hoped she would figure out what that meant. But she was pretty sure it wasn't a coincidence that she was on Oceanic flight 815.
She heard a groan behind her. Taking her eyes off her diary, she lifted her head and pressed the side of her hand to her forehead, shading her eyes as she looked in the direction of the sun and the forest. Charlie was limping along the path, supported by Hurley on one side and using a makeshift spear to support himself on the other side. Claire put her book down and pushed off of the ground with a great effort to rise to her feet. “What happened?” she asked.
Charlie looked pleadingly at Hurley, around winces every time he tried to put even a little bit of pressure on his left leg. Hurley coughed and cleared his throat. “Let's just say Charlie isn't going to be winning any trophies for excellence in boar hunting any time soon.”
“Ohhh,” Claire nodded and tried not to laugh, though she was not successful in hiding a smile. She wasn't in a position to help him over, but he seemed glad for the moral support as she walked beside him. They guided him over to one of the rocks, against which he slid down to the sandy ground.
“I'll go get Jack,” Hurley offered. Charlie shook his head, but both Hurley and Claire seemed insistent.
Alone with Claire for a moment, “I think I just twisted it in the fall. Maybe sprained it.”
“The fall?” she asked, amused again.
He shrugged, clearly not eager to relate the circumstances. But he was more than happy when she dragged a log over and gently helped him prop his leg up on it. “Thanks,” he said, closing his eyes for a moment as he let the pain subside. She sat down next to him, unconsciously placing her hand on her belly as the baby kicked again. “You know, I should write you a lullaby.”
“Me?” she asked with a laugh.
“Well, you and the baby. To thank you, you know?” He grinned as she handed a water bottle to him. “You're going to make a really good mother, Claire.”
“You really think so?” She rubbed both hands over her belly now. Charlie reached over to do the same, but he stopped short, wincing as he moved a little too much for his leg to handle. She eased his pain with a kiss on his cheek
But she felt the baby kick at that moment and pulled away. If her ending up here and accepting her situation wasn't a coincidence, maybe meeting Charlie wasn't either. But that also meant she had to start putting more thought into what the fortune teller had told her… and she couldn't ignore the warnings about someone else being involved in the baby's life.
Seeing Jack on his way over, Charlie sat up a little and winced yet again. Claire sat back and watched, wondering how someone like Charlie could possibly be a danger…
* * * * *
Title: J is for Jetlag
“Sir-what rhythms?” Logan mumbled into the sweat-damp pillow.
“Circadian rhyzums,” Kurt replied. “Und yours are all confused.” He teleported across the room to the windows and pulled the cord which parted the curtains. It was a beautiful day out— bright and sunny, without a cloud in the sky. But Logan's body told him it was supposed to be the middle of the night. Squinting, Logan groaned and swore, the exact words muffled into the pillow, but Kurt got the general idea. “Ze sunlight is good for you,” Kurt explained. “It vill help.”
“Help?” Logan rolled onto his side, wrapping an arm around his middle. “Don't think anything will help, Elf.” He groaned as though he were dying.
Kurt laughed lightly, the sound covered by a gentle BAMF! as he 'ported back to the bed and Logan's side. The larger man winced as the bed rocked and then went still again. “I know you cannot remember being sick, but jetlag is much tamer zan most illnesses.”
“Fine,” Logan said, not sounding as though he believed Kurt about that. It was clear he felt just as miserable as he looked, if not more. “Then make it go away.”
“I'm afraid zat vill take time,” Kurt said. “Luckily, ve have some time.” He reached down and patted Logan's forehead, his touch furry and soothing. “You'll feel better soon.”
Storm was out now, doing some reconnaissance on the area and the two mutants they'd been sent to track down. With a sari and veil, she certainly fit in on the crowded streets of New Deli better than Logan would, and Kurt never really fit in well anywhere public. Word from an operative had said the two mutants were up to something. But since there had been no word for a week and no further leads on their specific powers, Professor X had decided to dispatch a team in the X-Jet. Capable of flying around the globe without refueling, the three of them had gone non-stop and landed just a short while ago. Storm seemed a little disoriented at first, but got over it in a few hours. Nightcrawler, to whom the motions of traveling were second nature, had no problems at all. But Wolverine, who was supposed to have an iron-clad stomach, an unbeatable immune system, and an incredible healing ability, had not fared so well.
Ever since they'd landed, almost twelve hours ago, he had been fighting severe jetlag. They had arrived in the dark, so their landing would not be seen, and had checked into a large hotel where even they could be easily missed. While he'd been exhausted because of the flight, Logan had felt far too ill to fall asleep when the other two slept to match local timing. He'd rolled around in bed, holding his head in his hands or doubling over as nausea hit. Now that it was the middle of the day, he felt even more tired but Kurt told him he should not sleep until it started getting dark. So all he could do now was lie there on the hotel bed feeling miserable.
“You need to drink somesing more,” Kurt said. They had at least a day or two before they needed to take action, but Logan would take a week to recover at this rate. One day for every hour of the time change was fairly standard. Kurt's job for the day, which he would have done anyway, was to help Logan recover more quickly. And that meant keeping Logan cool and hydrated, not easy to do as Logan was not the best patient.
“Cold ale,” he muttered, smacking his lips as he envisioned it.
“I do not sink so,” Kurt said, smiling with amusement.
“Fine. Vodka then.”
“Water,” Kurt insisted, getting up. Alcohol was the last thing he needed right now. Kurt took out a bottle from the mini-fridge and poured it into one of the hotel glasses, which would make it easier for him to drink. He had earlier tried to get Wolverine to sit up, but the man would not move more than to roll on his side or his stomach. This time, he was on his stomach and he lifted his head enough to take a few sips as Kurt lifted the glass to his lips. A few sips turned into a few gulps then, with a dry cough, he declared he was done. Kurt petted his forehead. “Feeling any better?” he asked.
Logan hung his head. “Don't like this,” he said, sighing in the heat and exhaustion.
“Course not.” Kurt couldn't blame him. “But I can sink of somesing you might like.” Tightly, Kurt grabbed handfuls of Logan's damp shirt. Then he teleported with it off the bed. Logan lifted his head, looking around to see where Kurt had gone.
But, a second later, Kurt was back, kneeling on the bed but sitting on the backs of Logan's thighs. And a second after that, something cool and wet touched Logan's back. He jumped in surprise, then relaxed as what he recognized as a cool cloth slid up and down his back. With it came Kurt's hand, rubbing, massaging.
Logan gave another groan, this one of pleasure. His tense body relaxed.
“Like zis, Ja?” Kurt's tail gently stroked Logan's right side, then his left. His hands squeezed Logan's shoulders, then kneaded the muscles on the upper back.
Logan sighed and nodded.
Leaning forward, Kurt placed a kiss on the back of Logan's neck and nuzzled into the dark brown hair. Then he sat back up, wrung the washcloth over Logan's back, then wiped the pool of cool water around. “See? Should always listen to your elf when he says you'll feel better.” Seeing Logan smile, Kurt couldn't help but hope the wolverine's jetlag might last a little longer than a few days.
* * * * *
Title: K is for Kite
Fandom: Harry Potter, Marauder's era
“It's a blustery sort of day, isn't it?” asked Remus Lupin, channeling Winnie the Pooh. Despite this fact, he and Sirius still sat out on the Quidditch stands long after practice was over. “Makes me want a nice hot chocolate.” Remus shivered as his current feelings contrasted with the idea.
“You cold?” Sirius asked the obvious and did not wait for the answer before wrapping his arm around Remus and pulling him over on the bleacher. There were leaves all over and several were pushed off the bleacher. He rubbed his hand up and down Remus' far arm. Remus snuggled into his side and sniffled lightly. “Hmm,” Sirius said with a smirk. “It looks like this cold wind also makes you sniffle quite a lot. Got a hanky with you, Love?”
Remus shook his head and rubbed the cuff of his sleeve at his nose. “The house elves lost my last one. Or maybe they stole it to be used as a blanket, who knows? Sniff!”
“Well, I know you need one. Do you want to go inside?” Sirius swayed slightly, pulling Remus along with him. “Come on, I'd be happy to give you a piggyback ride across the ground… I know how much you like those.”
Remus shook his head again and snuggled closer. The Autumn wind blew straight at him now, stinging his cheeks and threatening to tip the hood of his cloak back. Sirius' was already down and the wind whipped his short hair about. It made his cheeks and ears turn a rosy red. But Sirius seemed to feed off it, taking deep breaths of the cool, refreshing wind so that it filled him and made him strong. And, most importantly, it gave Remus reason to snuggle close to Sirius.
“This wind makes me sniff-sniff want to go fly a kite,” Remus said dreamily, but with a chuckle.
Sirius laughed as well. “Well it seems you're out of luck there. But, yes, it would be a great day for that.” He looked up at the sky where fluffy white clouds moved quickly.
“Actually…” Remus picked up one of the leaves on the bleacher next to him. He twirled the stem between his fingers, watching the maroon and gold leaf spin. Then he pulled out his wand and tapped the leaf. “Tetherendia!” Thin strings shot out from the leaf, attached to the middle, the sides, and the end. Remus grabbed hold of them all and tossed it into the air.
The wind caught it and tossed it around, but it stayed securely connected to Remus by way of the strings. “Sniff! What do you think?”
Sirius stared up at it in awe. “Remus, you are so silly… and so bloody clever. I love it!”
“I read about it in a book,” Remus explained, unable to take full credit for the brilliance. “Sniff! Sniff! I never had a real kite when growing up so I made these sometimes. Sniiifff! The best part about them is that, if the string breaks, it's no great loss.” He waved his hand around, gesturing to all the leaves the trees had shed. “An sniff-sniff an endless supply.”
Sniffling more frequently, Remus decided he needed to rub his nose, so he handed it over to Sirius. Then he wiped his other cuff beneath his nose. He sniffed hard, almost wishing he'd taken Sirius up on that offer to go inside. But Sirius laughed as he watched the kite and hugged Remus closer.
It soared and swooped gracefully, naturally. It tried to pull free, and the tugs ran right down through the strings into Sirius' hand. He felt as though he were flying along with the leaf kite. “When we get out of Hogwarts, I really am going to buy that motorbike I've had my eye on. And I really am going to work out that charm to make it fly.”
“Now who's the silly one?” Remus asked, his voice muffled as he had his sleeve in front of his face and his cuff to his nose.
“I'll take you up on it,” Sirius promised, tightening his hold around Remus affectionately. “Just imagine it, riding behind me on it, the wind in our hair.”
Remus shivered and pressed his cheek into Sirius' shoulder. “Just promise me we won't go riding when it's raining or it's freezing cold out? Assuming you buy it in the first place, that is.”
“I promise. And just you wait, I'll do it,” Sirius said. He let one string go, and the leaf kite jerked around in the wind awkwardly.
“Sniff! Sniiifff!” Remus alternated sleeves, attempting to find a dry enough spot to rub his nose into.
Sirius smiled as he let a second string go, then allowed the rest to slip from his hand. The leaf did a happy summersault in the air and flew upwards, where Sirius lost it in the path of the sun. Then he swung his arm over, right in front of Remus' face. “Go on,” he coaxed.
Blushing, Remus rubbed his nose into Sirius' cuff. “See?” Remus said. “Sniff! SNIFF! I don't need a hanky.”
Sirius laughed. “No, you just need a Sirius.” He kissed Remus, then reclaimed both his arms and rose. He headed down the stands two at a time, heading back towards the castle.
He heard Remus follow and, when he reached the bottom, he felt Remus jump onto his back. “Let me fly with you,” Remus whispered into Sirius' ear as he wrapped his arms tightly around Sirius. He nudged the hood to pull it back up over Sirius' head, ensuring that he feel a little warmer on their trip back.
Sirius reached back, making sure Remus was secure. “Welcome aboard Padfoot airlines,” Sirius pleasantly. “With service to the Seventh Year's Bedroom in the Gryffindor Dormitory by way of the Kitchens where hot chocolate will be available to all passengers.”
“Now who's the clever one?” Remus whispered, kissing the back of Sirius' head with an audible kissing sound because Sirius would most likely be unable to feel it through the cloak.
Sirius laughed and leaned forward into the wind. He spread his arms and broke into a quick jog.
* * * * *
Title: L is for Lonely
Fandom: Yami No Matsuei
Pairing: Tatsumi/Tsuzuki?, Tatsumi/Watari?
The numbers slowly blurred on the page before Tatsumi. They grew so fuzzy he could not make them out until he lifted his head, rubbed thumb and forefinger at his eyes beneath the glasses, and then gave the figures a fresh look. Seeing them clearly, however, did not necessarily mean they made sense.
A piece of paper slid on top of the mess of papers he had spread out upon his desk. He only had to glance at it to know whose reimbursement sheet it was. And the once glance was enough to make his already throbbing head hurt all the more. “He spent *this much* on one meal?” Tatsumi groaned, looking up at Hisoka, hoping against hope that the figures might be slightly exaggerated. Though, if they were, it wasn't a very nice joke.
Hisoka looked apologetic, his eyes big. “Tsuzuki's just been so spirited since…” Hisoka didn't like to talk about it because of the emotions evoked on both sides, but sometimes he would dance around the subject when talking with Tatsumi. “I didn't have the heart to remind him he shouldn't be ordering thirds.”
“Thirds,” Tatsumi sighed. He took off his glasses and set them on his desk. With his elbows on the desk and his head hung, he rubbed his both hands at his eyes, tiredly. Then he took a deep breath in through his nose and let it out through his mouth. He lifted his head, looking up at Hisoka again. “It's all right. I understand. I'll work something out with the budget.”
Hisoka broke into a wide smile.
“Now go,” Tatsumi said, making a motion to shoo him away. He looked into Hisoka's eyes as he said quietly, “Tsuzuki will be waiting for you.”
Hisoka nodded in understanding and left.
Tatsumi gave him a ten-count to be sure he was gone, before hanging his head again and burying his face in his hands. He scrubbed at his face at first, but then just sat with his face covered, thankful the peace and quiet the darkness brought. Thankful, but not exactly pleased.
Seeing Hisoka so happy brought out a whole host of emotions. The guilt alone was almost paralyzing. As desperate as Tatsumi was to see Tsuzuki with someone who could make him happy, he wished he could be that person. Instead, he had paperwork to keep him company. Mounds and mounds of paperwork. It was always so much easier to lose himself in the paperwork and distract himself by micromanaging every single line item. He could obsess over the numbers enough to forget that he could be of no help to Tsuzuki… and forget that no one was there to be of any help to him.
Of late, however, he had been unusually lax some of his duties at the Shokan Division. And, apparently, people were beginning to notice. “Tatsumi?”
He lifted his head, looking up to see the smiling face of Watari, with 003 hovering over his shoulder.
“I came to find out about that purchase order you said you'd send out last week. I really need those new microscope lenses. I need them for inspecting the samples we found in what remained of Muraki's laboratory.”
Tatsumi groaned to himself as he swept the papers on the top to a stack on the side, looking under them as though he expected to see the purchase order beneath with the word 'SUBMITTED' stamped across the top. But he had no such luck, in part because he had absolutely no memory of writing the order or even Watari's request. This wasn't like him at all. “I'm sorry,” Tatsumi said, maintaining eye-contact with his papers. He could not work out how new lenses would fit into the budget which was already so far into the red he feared they would never get out again. But if it had to do with Muraki, it would have to be purchased. That took priority.
Tatsumi sighed again. “I'm so sorry… I can't seem to find… I'll write another one up immediate—” he stopped as he felt a hand on his shoulder and breath on his cheek. He turned his head towards the warmth and found a gentle pair of lips upon his own, kissing so softly that he felt no reluctance to return it in the same way. As he did, he felt just a little of his stress melting away.
“You've had a lot on your mind lately,” Watari said once he'd pulled back from the kiss. “And you've been working so hard.” He straightened Tatsumi's askew tie, refolded his dress shirt collar and readjusted his brown suit jacket to sit neatly on the man once more. “If you don't get some rest soon, you'll get ill and be no good to any of us.”
Tatsumi sighed as the man's hand ran up and down his back. “I know you have a lot to do, but how about we go get some Italian food?” He held up both hands in front of him, shaking them. “No pressure.”
The thought of spending money unnecessarily was not precisely comforting, but he could hardly deny the smiling man with his sparkling eyes and soft, flowing blond hair. Tatsumi was not the only one in the division who could be convincing. “All right,” he said finally, pushing back from the desk and waiting for the rolling chair to glide to a halt. “All right. But I get to pick the restaurant.”
“Oh certainly! I'd be honored.” Watari bent his elbow and presented it. Tatsumi paused, debating, then slipped his arm through.
* * * * *
Title: M is for Midnight
Fandom: Harry Potter, PoA
Impatient and worried, Cedric shifted his weight from one foot to the other and back again. Hidden in the shadows against the darkest portion of the astronomy tower wall, Cedric tried to estimate the time. He wished he could see out the window so that he might get a sense of the time by the position of the stars and the moon. But he refused to show himself, just in case a professor or a ghost were to come by or look up at the window and see him. Instead, he hid back and tried to remain invisible.
This was easier said than done. He had succeeded in being out of sight but he could still be heard and, at the moment, there was quite a lot going on with him for people to hear. “huhh-chumphhhh! Snff!”
Luckily, Cedric had a perfectly good yellow and black striped scarf to muffle the sounds his wretched head cold caused. Sniffles and coughs had only been the start of it. The sneezes were the hardest part to manage- strong and unpredictable. He tried pinching his nose between thumb and forefinger, his breaths warm against his hand. But only about half the time did that work to hold back the sneezes. The rest of the time he just had to hope no one was there to hear.
He looked forward to being able to leave the tower and head down to the Hufflepuff rooms where he could cough and sneeze freely and be as loud as he needed to be. But even the most annoying head cold in the world could not keep him from this important visit with Oliver.
Their first meeting of this kind had occurred completely by accident after a Hufflepuff verses Slytherin match. It had been so enjoyable, such a release of all the tension Cedric had been feeling all day. They had talked about Quidditch all the way through the kissing and the lovemaking. But the next time they met up there was less talking about sport, and the same with the time after that. It was still a tradition that they would meet up at midnight after every game, whether they played or not, but they didn't need to make any excuses about why any longer.
This midnight rendezvous was all about the sex.
Cedric was now sure that it must be past Midnight by now. And still no Oliver. Not that Cedric was too surprised. After all, this had to end sometime and Oliver probably had better things to do tonight now that he had finally one the Quidditch cup.
“Sniff! Sniff!” He knew he really should be going, as well. “ehhh-Chumphh! hehhhChmmph!” He should be in bed, nursing his cold, not up on the cold astronomy tower, sniffling madly and smothering his sneezes into an already-damp scarf. “hehhh-ehhh…”
Hearing footsteps on the stairway, Cedric pinched his nose again. His nose was still tickly but the sneeze was kept in check until… “Oliver?” Cedric heaved a great sigh of relief, and by then the sneeze had indeed gone. The handsome face of burly Oliver Wood appeared from the darkness of the doorway to the tower. Cedric found he was smiling at the image. “I thought you might not be coming,” Cedric admitted. “It's getting late.”
“It's still five minutes away from midnight,” Oliver replied. “So I'm early, if anything. But why wouldn't I show up?” He walked over to Cedric, who suddenly looked shy.
Shrugging, “I just thought you might be too busy celebrating with the Gryffindors.”
Oliver gave him a sly smile. “Want to celebrate with you now.” He stepped closer and put his hands on Cedric's hips. He leaned forward and placed a kiss on Cedric's cheek.
Cedric blinked confusedly. “This must be the happiest day of your life… so why is it you're not incredibly ecstatic right now?” Oliver should have been bouncing off the walls, but his kiss had been conservative.
There was a pause, during which Oliver looked torn and thoughtful. Then he sighed. “Aye… well… I'm a bit sore. My back is… and I pulled a muscle during the game and it smarts something awful.”
“Why didn't you go to Madam Pomfrey about it?” asked Cedric concernedly.
“Why didn't you go when you came down sick?” Oliver replied in kind.
Incredulously, “How did you know?”
Oliver's hands rubbed gently against Cedric's hips, and he moved closer, their fronts just barely brushing. “D'you think I haven't learned a thing or two about ye in all the time we've been having these midnight meetings?”
Cedric smiled and leaned into a wonderful kiss. They took advantage of their seclusion, at the top of a long stair in the middle of the night, by taking their time to enjoy the experience. The kiss was slow and lovely, intense and— “I'm sorry!” Cedric pulled back, alarm in his expression. He gathered one end of his scarf and covered the lower half of his face with it. “ehhh-HShphh! hehhChumph! Ah…” He sighed, shaking his head. “So sorry. Sniff! This is a rotten cold. Sniff-sniff!”
Oliver looked concerned and he gently stroked the side of Cedric's face. “That's okay. Maybe we should just skip the kissing tonight?”
Cedric nodded eagerly at once. His hands pulled at Oliver's robes and he pressed his body hard against Oliver's, rubbing, grinding. He wanted to touch those lovely cup-winning muscles and feel the strong chest against his own.
But he must have touched the wrong spot a tad too hard because Oliver winced and drew a sharp breath.
“Sorry!” Cedric apologized and pulled back again. He looked down, concerned. “Oliver… what muscle did you pull?”
Oliver rubbed the back of his neck and embarrassingly mumbled something.
Cedric was far too kind to laugh, but he had to contain his amusement about the situation. “Perhaps we should skip *that* part tonight, as well?”
“What a pair we are!” Oliver agreed with a nod and a laugh. He threw his head back and looked up at the sky. The moon overhead was nearly full and it glowed brightly down upon them. It reflected in Oliver's eyes and he leaned back against the wall which enclosed the top of the tower, ensuring students did not fall.
Cedric stood where he was, rubbing his nose and watching Oliver. He was not sure what there was to say now. Without the sex… They could go back to talking about Quidditch, but surely there was more they could say to each other than that. But what?
“Ced… do you ever think about the future? Do you think about what you want to do after Hogwarts?”
Well, that was something. “Not very often. But I still have loads of time. Why?”
Oliver shrugged and looked down. Down at his feet, and then down over the side of the tower towards the roof of the castle and below that to the grassy ground. “I guess I'm worried I might not make it professionally. What am I good for, if not Quidditch?”
Cedric certainly wasn't going to answer 'sex', because there was something more important going on. Cedric could only think of one thing that would make Oliver thing like this, especially after such a spectacular win. “Let me see your back.”
Oliver turned and let Cedric pull up his robes and shirt. There were several quaffle-sized bruises on his back and one larger one, clearly made by a beater's bat. The bruises were a terrible mix of blues and purples and browns and when he pulled the clothing back into place, Oliver winced again.
Cedric understood the older boy was worried about the sort of fleeting careers most Quidditch players had. One serious injury and that was the end for them. “Sniff! You wouldn't really let fear of uncertainty keep you from playing, would you?” Cedric asked. He scrubbed at his nose with the back of his hand, but the intensity of the tickle in his nose told him not to bother. He turned away from Oliver buried his face in his scarf again. “h'Mmmphh! Huhh-Chmph! Sniff! Excuse me.”
Digging a handkerchief out of his pocket, Oliver offered it over, and Cedric took it gladly. He blew his nose. “Thank you. Sniff! Really, Oliver, what are you going on about? You're a smashing good keeper.”
Oliver beamed. “I know.”
Laughing, “And you're humble, too!”
Oliver punched his arm, laughing as well. Then he pulled Cedric close again with a sigh. “I know we're not going to… tonight, but can we stay up here just a little longer together? It's only a few minutes past midnight. Will you be all right?”
Cedric nodded, his face screwing up again. He quickly lifted Oliver's handkerchief to his face. “hahh-Chuhhhh!”
He was grateful when Oliver held him warmly. He thanked Oliver by massaging his shoulders, careful not to hurt him. And Oliver was careful to give him plenty of room whenever he needed to sneeze. Cedric was more than happy to stay that way as long as Oliver wanted, not missing the sex for a moment.
* * * * *
Title: N for Naughty
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Oliver/Percy (or is that Percy/Oliver?)
Oliver supposed he shouldn't have been surprised. After a year of sharing his bed with the man, Percy Weasley was as kind and considerate a lover as always. And while gentle was not always predictable, it was in Percy's case. Even when Percy seemed to be trying to get dirty, he still came off as simple and logical and almost unemotional.
It wasn't as though Oliver were displeased with their sex life… he got more than enough danger and excitement on the Quidditch Pitch. But every so often, he might have liked something a little different. Something a little spirited. Something a little rough. He'd given up finding creative and subtle ways to ask for it by now.
Oliver coughed, moving to the side and burying his face into a pillow. His shoulders shook and a warm, gentle hand patted his back until the fit passed him by. Percy, who was lying beneath Oliver's body with his legs in the air, reached up. Brown hair was swept from Oliver's face and a kiss struck his cheek. “Try to use a tissue next time, okay?” Percy requested.
Oliver nodded, sniffling and clearing his throat. “Aye. Sorry, Perce.”
The hand on his back rubbed comfortingly, then two found his shoulders and rubbed. “Do you really feel up to this?” he asked concernedly. “If you're too ill…” The bug Oliver had picked up the previous day consisted of mainly a sore throat and a horrendous cough. And, though unpleasant, it did nothing to curb his sex drive.
Stopping was the last thing Oliver wanted. Shaking his head ardently, “Please let's keep going.”
So they did. Percy had already slicked himself and now he turned his attention, and the lube, on Oliver. He squeezed the small stream of lubricant out over Oliver's cock, hard and generous. Percy's fingers ran around the sensitive head and Oliver gave a pleased gasp, even though he had known the touch would be coming.
The sharp breath scratched his throat, however, and he needed to cough again. He held the first few in, mouth closed and cheeks filling, as he reached over to the nightstand for the tissue box. He nearly knocked Percy's glasses off in the process, but managed to retrieve two tissues and clutch them to his face. He shook again with coughs, which made Percy cease his actions as he waited for Oliver to finish. When done, Oliver balled up the tissue and dropped it onto the bed beside them.
Percy shuddered at the image. “I moved the trashcan to the bedside for a reason, Olly.”
“Sorry,” Oliver repeated, stretching his arm out to the side and dropping the tissues into bin. “Forgot.”
Percy took hold of Oliver's balls and gave a very light squeeze. “If you forget again, I might have to do something to help you remember.”
Oliver was instantly intrigued by the possibility. Whether it was a promise or a threat, it might be worth finding out what Percy had in mind. He didn't need to cough again. But after all their time together, Oliver knew how to push Percy's buttons.
Oliver reached out for the glass of ice water on the nightstand, accompanying the tissue box and Percy's glasses. He took a few liberal gulps and then put the glass back on the wooden, polished nightstand… avoiding the coaster completely. Oliver knew Percy was watching him and could feel Percy tense up as he saw the action.
Percy quickly propped himself up and leaned over, swooping in and moving the glass to its home with a frustrated sigh. When he looked up at Oliver, he saw a playful, expectant smile, and so he gave a smile as well. “Naughty boy,” Percy said with a chuckle. “You're asking for it, aren't you?” Percy wiggled out from beneath him.
“Aye. I suppose I am at that. What're you going to do to me?”
Oliver suddenly found himself behind rolled onto his side. Out of the corner of his eye he saw that Percy had pulled his wand out. If there was anything Percy was good at, it was wandwork, and Oliver started to feel a little worried. That feeling did not abate as Percy uttered a spell which bound Oliver's hands together behind his back.
Percy raised his wand again, presumably to give a good swish and flick, but instead used it to strike Oliver's rear straight-on. Oliver gave a start and winced, but then settled back down with a grin. Now *this* was more like it. “Now who's being… naughty?” Oliver managed to choke out. Unable to cover his mouth, with his hands as they were, he coughed freely. Unsympathetic, Percy struck again with a good smack that came just short of actually doing damage.
Of course, at this rate and even with healing spells, Oliver wasn't going to be able to sit down properly for a day. But he was already out of commission due to his cough so he did not think twice about it as the third and forth blows hit. Sensations raced through him there, and mingled with other feelings when Percy reached down and took his cock in hand for him. “You like this, don't you?” Percy asked, smiling.
When Oliver nodded, Percy smacked him again. “Naughty, naughty! You're not supposed to be enjoying this…” Oliver whimpered. “Yet,” Percy added. And he began moving his hand up and down the shaft.
Oliver moaned and coughed, but mostly moaned. Percy quickened his pace on both ends, making Oliver jerk and buck, beg and ache for more. And Percy was strangely relentless, stopping only when Oliver lost himself in the pleasure and came with a groan that must surely have been heard through the walls of their flat.
Somehow, however, Oliver couldn't seem to care about the noise. He slumped forward with a sigh and turned his head, nuzzling into Percy's chest with affection and gratitude.
“Next time, Olly,” Percy said, kissing the top of Oliver's head. “Just ask if you want it a little naughty. There's no need to destroy my nightstand in the process.”
Oliver chuckled into Percy's chest and nodded. “That was just a *little* naughty?” he asked.
Percy shrugged and polished his wand with his sleeve. “Well, it's only a little nightstand.”
* * * * *
Title: O is for Oblique
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The door was cracked open, so Willow put her palm to it and pushed it open just a little bit more. The sliver of light from the hallway fell upon the bed and she saw Dawn sleeping soundly in bed. Willow had been feeling uneasy all night, as if sensing something were wrong. Even a long, hot shower hadn't lifted the feeling. But after calling Buffy's cell, Xander's apartment, and checking on Dawn, she just chalked her feeling up to normal middle-of-the-night-in-Sunnydale vibes and decided to go to sleep early.
So she headed down the hallway towards her bedroom. Already in long-sleeved, fuzzy pink and lavender pajamas, there was nothing left for her to do but to run a comb through her hair a few times and then jump under the covers. Once she was snuggled up with the blankets and pillows she was sure she would feel much better.
Willow did not bother switching on the light in the bedroom, opting instead to let the moonlight lead her in and to her dresser. She studied herself in the mirror as she combed her hair for a few minutes. Nothing looked out of the ordinary as far as she was concerned, either. She set the comb down and turned, intending to climb into bed. But, when she turned, she was startled to find Spike standing on the far side of her bedroom.
Startled, she practically jumped a mile and she did let out a bit of a shriek, though not loud enough to wake Dawn. With her hand pressed to her racing heart, she took a deep breath and sighed. “You really surprised me,” she said, stating the obvious.
“I didn't mean to.” His voice was deep and dark, almost menacing. It chilled her.
With curiosity and apprehension in her voice, “What are you doing here?” Could it be that he was evil again? Could it be that he had come to attack her? Of course, now he was supposed to be good. Now Spike had a soul. Of course, the fact that he had a soul didn't mean he wasn't evil. She knew better than most that people could be evil just as easily with a soul as without one.
But when Spike did not answer her question, Willow began to grow worried. She did not want to use magic to hurt someone— anyone— again, but she would if it meant defending herself and protecting her friends. “Spike? Why are you here?”
More silence. Silence that made her tense up.
“If you won't tell me…” She was unsure about finishing her threat. But her hand moved along her dresser to find the small crucifix thereupon. Her hand closed around it and she felt powerful. She heard him move, clothes rustling, and her eyes strained in the darkness to see him, but he still stood in the shadows. The only thing that let her know he was still there was the sound of deep, heavy breaths. Wait… breaths? “Spike?”
“I can't tell you what's wrong,” Spike finally answered.
“What?” This was all becoming very strange. “You show up in my bedroom in the middle of the night, practically scare me to death, and then you can't even say why you're here? Why can't you?”
More silence. It filled up a full minute and started on the next while Willow tried to figure out what to say. But it was broken with a soft, wet-sounding “H'Ttchhhh!”
“What was that?” She knew perfectly well what it sounded like… but how could it have been that? Vampires didn't—
“hutChihhh!” This time it sounded stronger and it certainly looked stronger, as it threw Spike forward and out of the shadows. He was bent over at the waist, both hands up over his nose and mouth and his eyes closed. “hihTChihhh!”
Willow thought it safe to conclude now that Spike was not there to attack her. Assuming that vampire sneezes weren't like crocodile tears, she put down the crucifix and moved towards him. The outstanding question was, however, what were vampire sneezes about? “Allergic to something?” she asked, trying to recall what sort of reaction vampires had to garlic. She was certain she'd never seen one sneezing from it, though.
Spike shook his head. “I feel warm.”
Willow moved closer, noticing the blanket around his shoulders and the pink flush around his nose. She extended her hand and pressed the back of it to his forehead. “You *are* warm. Why are you warm?”
Shaking his head, “I don't know.” He sniffed hard. “That's why I came to you. You've got to fix me.”
“Cast a spell or make a potion or *something*. Hah!” He gasped audibly and held it for a moment. “hihhChihh!” Spike scrubbed at his nose. “Fix me!” he pleaded, sniffling and swaying unsteadily.
Willow shook her head. “But I haven't the vaguest idea what's wrong. We should call Giles. Or wait for Buffy at least—”
Spike's eyes grew wide. “Not Buffy. I don't want her to see me like this. Bad enough that she's seen me…” He ducked his head, the emotional scars from his soul still fresh to him. “Don't want her to see me. Don't want Li'l Bit to see me, either.”
But he didn't mind if she saw. Or, at least, he minded but was willing to forgo the embarrassment if it meant she could help. And he was counting on her to help. But she had no idea what to do.
“hihhT'Chuhh! ihhhChuhh!” He cupped one hand to his nose and mouth and the other to his forehead. “hihhhCHIHhh!” He forward, looking like he might tip right over with another strong sneeze.
Alarmed, Willow reached out and grabbed his arm. “You need to lie down.” She thought of how far away Xander's place was as she watched him sniffle and rub his nose. She tried to remind himself that his pale complexion was normal, but he looked so tired and helpless. “You need to lie down now,” she said, turning away from moral conduct and sound thinking as she turned down the covers of her bed. “You'd better get in.”
“You getting in with me, Red?” he asked hopefully, acting especially chilly. He curled up under the covers as Willow tucked them around him.
She shook her head before she could speak. “I'm going downstairs to find some books and some herbs.”
“To fix me? hihh-Chihh!”
She cracked a smile. “To get rid of your… cold,” she replied. “There's a difference. I really wouldn't know where to begin to fix everything else.” This made Spike smile back, amazingly enough, a sure sign that he was feverish. However, more amazing was that Willow was fighting the idea of studying while sitting in bed… just so that she could keep an eye on him, of course, to get a better idea of what might be wrong.
* * * * *
Title: P is for Pain
Fandom: Star Wars pre-TPM
Qui-Gon had been given plenty of time to contemplate the word 'torture'. His captors were clearly experts on the subject and were going through it slowly in order to prolong the pain and suffering involved.
In vain, he pulled again at his restraints. But the cuffs around his wrists were skin-tight as they strung him up on chains, arms spread wide so one hand could not possibly reach the other. The ones around his ankles were gravity restraints which weighted him down and kept him from kicking but allowed a little more freedom of movement, swinging back and forth. Nearly all his clothes had been stripped off, and a ballgag in his mouth made it impossible to say anything specific, and he refused to yell unintelligibly and give the torturers that satisfaction.
The torturers both wore the uniforms of the nation at war with the nation which had requested Jedi aid. They both also wore black masks which hid everything except for their eyes and their mouths which were almost always in the form of sick grins.
“I think it's time for another little question and answer session,” one of them said from across the cold, practically bare room as he surveyed a tabletop of instruments. He selected a poker and eagerly set it down in front of the hearth, the end amidst the dancing flames of the fire.
Qui-Gon gathered his strength and once again strained against his restraints. And, once again, he could not get free. He tried calling upon the Force to release him. He stared unblinkingly at one of his wristcuffs, trying to get it to open. He even tried calling out to Obi-Wan through their bond. But the room had clearly been fitted with Force dampeners. And his efforts were useless.
When the poker was red hot, one of the men pulled it out. The sound of iron slowly sliding against stone made Qui-Gon shiver violently. And violently was how the men had struck so far.
“Where is the entrance to their underground base?” one asked for the hundredth time.
There was no answer. There could not be, no matter how much pain was inflicted. The Jedi had not been privy to such information.
That did not stop the torturers. The poker smacked hard against bare ass and Qui-Gon winced. Purposefully, the cool portion had been used, but Qui-Gon knew that would not be the case for very long. The man would want to strike while the iron was…
Another smack. “The security codes! We know you have them in that head somewhere. Don't make us force them out of you.” Yet another smack, this time warmer and harder.
Qui-Gon bit hard into the gag and closed his eyes. Again, there was no response. Qui-Gon tried to occupy his thoughts with plans of what would happen when this was all over. He pictured holding Obi-Wan in his arms and lying down on a large, comfortable bed. He would stroke Obi-Wan's head, his palm grazing over the soft, short hair. And he would hug the man so tightly and never let go again. In his mind, he detailed the kiss he wanted so desperately to give his padawan and tried to recall how it felt when Obi-Wan nuzzled him affectionately.
The torturer swung his arm back and struck again, deliberately leaving the hot poker against sensitive skin for a second. There was a stifled cry and tears pricking behind eyes as the pain was endured and the intelligence was withheld.
“Enough!” the other torturer yelled, stepping away from the wall, arms crossed over his chest. “Direct questions are getting us nowhere. Time to ease it out of him. Exhaust him enough and take him past the point of caring.” The man's hands went to his bright blue belt and slowly undid the buttons there.
A final smack, and a shudder in reaction. Cheeks were bright red, and now sported several poker-shaped marks.
Qui-Gon desperately tried to reach out again to the Force. The other Jedi, led by Master Windu, surely had to be closing in on their location by now and it could not happen soon enough. He was not sure how much more of this he could take. Physical pain was one thing but this… He gathered all his strength and pulled again, his wrists practically raw as he tried to wrench them free.
The man was pulling himself out and trousers were sliding down to the floor. Qui-Gon was sobbing and screaming inwardly. As the man began, Qui-Gon tried not to let his emotions show, but he could imagine nothing worse. Nauseous and horrified, Qui-Gon was not sure he could hold out through this.
But if Obi-Wan could bear this pain, Qui-Gon would have to bear watching, helplessly, from across the room.
* * * * *
Title: Q if for Quiet
Fandom: Lord of the Rings pre-FotR
Elrohir peered around the corner. The coast was clear. He was careful to make no sound as he slowly walked down the corridor. The chamber Legolas had been given during his stay at Rivendell was only a few paces away now. With any luck, he should be able to reach it and duck inside without anyone seeing.
“Elrohir!” Elrohir winced, looking up to see his foster brother heading down the hallway towards him. “I have been meaning to speak with you about—”
“Hush!” Elrohir said, clamping a hand over the man's mouth. “Estel, this is really not a good time,” he whispered. His eyes betrayed them as they flicked to Legolas' door and back again.
A smile spread upon Estel's face. “Ohhhh. I see.” He patted Elrohir's arm and nodded towards the door. “I'll leave—” He covered his own mouth, realizing he'd said that much too loudly. “Sorry. I'll leave you to him then.” He turned and headed down the hallway.
Elrohir paused a moment, then called after him in a very loud whisper. “Estel!” Estel glanced back over his shoulder. “You will not tell Ada?”
Estel shook his head and pressed his index finger to his lips to signal he would stay quiet about it.
Relieved, Elrohir again headed for the door. But he had a strange feeling came over him and suddenly realized there were footsteps behind him. Bracing himself, for he thought he knew who it was, he turned to see his twin.
Elladan had with him a tray, upon which was a cup and a bowl of soup. Cheerfully, “I thought Legolas might like a bit of soup.”
Elrohir was nervous, listening for any sound within to indicate Dan had made too much noise, but all was quiet.
“Were you going in as well, Ro?”
Nodding, Elrohir rubbed the back of his neck. It was no secret that he and Legolas had something of a relationship, but no one would be especially happy know he was bothering Legolas when the blond elf was feeling so sick. “Yes,” he replied, then quickly changed his mind. “Actually, no. I meant that I was just now leaving. He is sleeping. And we should be quiet,” he whispered.
“Oh,” Elladan said thoughtfully, lowering his voice to the softest of whispers just in case. “I would not want to disturb him, then.” He set the tray on the wall across from the door to Legolas' room.
Elrohir had no choice but to leave with his twin, and double-back as soon as he had given Elladan the slip. He hushed a few elves in the corridor and pretended to be interested in one of the tapestries on the wall until he was alone again. Then he swiftly picked up the tray and headed into Legolas' room.
Legolas lay in bed with the covers up to his neck. His eyes were closed and he looked calmer and more peaceful than Elrohir had ever seen him look. Step by step, he moved slowly, loath to wake Legolas now. He set the tray down on the nightstand and hovered a moment, equally loath to leave Legolas so soon.
But Elrohir jumped in surprise when Legolas suddenly opened his eyes and looked up. “I was wonderig whed you would visit,” he said, his voice strained and heavy with congestion. He sniffled a few times, but a few times only.
“It took me a while to slip away. My ada has been here so often with tea, I thought I would never have a chance.” Elrohir sat down on the edge of the bed and patted Legolas through the covers. Then he gestured to the tray. “Are you hungry? I brought you soup.”
Legolas smiled and nodded, struggling to sit up. Elrohir helped, plumping the pillows and then setting the tray on Legolas' lap. Legolas was still smiling as he took the first few bites. He sighed with satisfaction at the taste. “Rebide be to thadk Elladad the dext tibe I see hib.”
“How did you know?” Elrohir laughed, moving a little closer.
Legolas noticed and moved the blankets so that the raven-haired elf could slide under the covers with him. “Thought you could get ode by be?” he asked, putting the soup aside again. “I had better teach you a lessod…” Legolas coughed as he slid down, under the covers.
“Legolas,” Elrohir said, shaking his head. “You do not need to… Legolas?” The reply was another cough, muffled by the blankets. Elrohir had to admit Legolas did sound better now than he had several nights ago, sitting at the supper table, coughing and sniffling into his napkin. And though Legolas was clearly still sick, he was quite improved now as his hot mouth and sniffly nose found Elrohir's crotch. “Oh, Legolas!” Elrohir exclaimed in pleasure.
Legolas pulled back the covers, looking up at Elrohir. “Quiet,” he whispered. “Would not want anyone to hear.” He ducked back beneath the covers and Elrohir bit his tongue through a deep, happy sigh.
* * * * *
Title: R is for Rain
Fandom: Harry Potter, Marauders post-Hogwarts
The next raindrop hit Remus on his cheek this time. Remus silently swore at it. With everything else going on, the weather was now fitting the mood.
Remus shivered into Sirius' back, but the leather jacket was of little warmth to anyone but its wearer. Even over the rumble of the motorcycle engine and the roar of the wind in his ears, he heard Sirius sniffle. This was madness. But that was nothing new as far as Sirius was concerned. “Sirius…”
“It's only a little rain,” Sirius said. “Just ignore it.”
Remus closed his eyes to the night and to the world passing by below him. Ignore it. Good advice, except that's what he'd been doing already for months now. Ignoring how Sirius always insisted on traveling way too high now that he'd worked out the flying spells for his motorcycle. Ignoring how Sirius had stopped talking to him about daily exploits. Ignoring how reckless Sirius could be sometimes. Ignoring the fact that Sirius was gone more than ever before on tasks for the Aurors or for the order and unable to tell Remus about where he'd been or what he'd been doing.
But there were some thing he could not ignore. His arms, wrapped tightly around Sirius' waist, tightened. “You're just getting over a cold. It's already freezing up here and I don't want us staying if it's raining.” Flying spells were one thing, but Sirius had never yet managed to handle the bike in the air during heavy rainstorms.
“Moony,” sighed Sirius.
Remus would have none of it. “Take us down, Padfoot. Right this minute.”
“You worry too much about me,” Sirius scoffed. But he sniffed again in a way that let Remus know he was holding back a sneeze.
Leaning forward, pressing his lips to Sirius' ear, “Someone has to.”
Sirius was silent. Remus felt a raindrop on his forehead, and another on his cheek. Silently he willed Sirius to respond properly just once. Just for him. If Sirius didn't… Remus didn't want to think about what that would mean.
Sirius coughed a few times, then the motorcycle dipped down a few feet and Remus felt his stomach sink further than that. He let out a silent sigh when he realized Sirius was taking them down.
Ignoring the nagging feeling in the pit of his stomach that told him something was wrong, Remus sighed gratefully. They were only a few minutes from home and further than that from the understanding they needed to reach, but at least there was still a little trust left between them.
As the rain came down upon them more heavily, Remus tried to ignore the weather entirely and tried to just concentrate on the man in front of him on the bike. He heard Sirius sneeze again, and sniffle through a few coughs. “When we get home, this worrywart's going to dry you off and put you right to bed,” he told Sirius.
He could tell by the sound of Sirius' voice that the man was grinning. “Then thank Merlin for the rain,” he replied.
Remus returned the smile, snuggling into Sirius' back again, equally grateful.
* * * * *
Title: S is for Sleep
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Legolas rolled over onto his other side with a sigh. He closed his eyes, waiting patiently for something which did not come. So he rolled onto his back. “Estel?” he whispered. When there was no response, Legolas propped himself up on his elbows and looked over at the man sleeping in bed beside him. Aragorn was in a deep sleep, his breaths slow and steady. Legolas tried to match them, but that made him feel light-headed. So he sat up against the pillows and the exquisitely-carved headboard. “Estel?” he tried again, but Aragorn did not stir. “Ranger?” Still nothing. Legolas rubbed at his nose and then, more loudly, “Aragorn?”
The man came awake at once with a start. He had only to glance at one of the windows to see that it was still night. And he had only to look to Legolas to understand why he was wake in the middle of the night. “What's amiss?” he asked, blinking at Legolas and then rubbing his tired eyes.
“I am sorry. Did I wake you?” the elf asked, trying to sound innocent. Normally he would have felt terrible about depriving the man of sleep, but Aragorn *had* given instructions for Legolas to wake him if something were wrong. “I cannot sleep,” Legolas declared. “Elves simply do not need as much sleep. I have had my two hours and cannot force myself to enjoy more. Yet I know I must because you said I should.”
Aragorn nodded. “Nothing will help your head cold as much as sleep will.”
Legolas sighed. “Then I am beyond helping.” He coughed into his sleeve and rubbed his finger alongside his nose. A few pitiful sniffles met Aragorn's ears.
Aragorn reached up and pushed Legolas flat back on the bed. “Nothing is beyond you. I will help you get to sleep.” His sensibilities as a healer had kicked in, as had his caring for the elf he was fortunate enough to share his bed with.
Having expected that answer but looking grateful just the same, “Tell me, what is it men customarily do to fall asleep?”
“Well,” Aragorn thought, wishing he weren't so tired and could do a better job in that department. “I suppose… counting dragons is a common method.”
“Counting dragons?” Legolas repeated with confusion. “But there aren't any dragons around here.” He looked around the room, as though expecting a whole heard to appear before his eyes.
Aragorn laughed. “No, you imagine them. Imagine dragons flying over a village.”
“Why would I want to imagine such a thing? Would a terrible image like that not keep me awake instead of put me to sleep?”
On his way to a sigh, Aragorn instead gave a powerfully strong yawn. He thought longingly of sleep, but shook it off. “All right, let us try something else.” Aragorn looked down at Legolas, lying on his back. “Close your eyes,” he instructed. “Now, starting all the way down in your toes, I want you to tighten your muscles and then relax them. First your toes… then your ankles… work your way up… your lower legs… tightening and relaxing… your upper legs…” he proceeded to walk Legolas through it. “And now that you're up to your face, one last time, tensing and relaxing. Until you're so relaxed… you fall… right… to sleep…”
He looked at the elf carefully. Legolas' chest rose and fell so slowly and his eyes were still closed. Silent and nearly motionless, Legolas finally looked at peace. Aragorn sighed with relief.
Then Legolas opened his eyes. “And then?” he asked, sounding not the least bit sleepy.
Aragorn groaned and buried his face in his pillow. The thick feather pillow felt so comfortable below his head, and he longed to fall back to sleep now. But his obligation to Legolas was too strong, and the sound of sniffles and coughs made his heart go out to his suffering lover. He lifted his head and sighed. “All right. I have something else we might try. Lord Elrond taught me an herbal mixture that can help induce sleep. I will sneak down to the kitchens and brew some.”
Aragorn pulled himself up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. He sat there a moment as another violent yawn took hold of him. He covered his mouth with one hand and rubbed his other hand up and down his thigh. Then he slapped his own cheek and shook his head, trying to shake off the urge to sleep. He could do this. He stood, forcing his eyes to be wide as he looked down at Legolas. “I will not be ten minutes,” he promised. Coughing, Legolas only nodded in acknowledgement. Aragorn picked up his robe on the way out of his chamber and had it on a few steps down the dimly-lit corridor.
As it turned out, it took exactly nine minutes from beginning to end. He was forced to go down to the storeroom for one herb that was not kept in the kitchen, and he had to light several lamps around the kitchen to give him enough light to measure ingredients by. But it reached a boil in no time and he poured a generous helping of it into a goblet. He neglected clean-up, feeling badly about that decision as he headed back to his room. But sleep was what was important here and now, and he could apologize in the morning for the mess.
“Legolas?” he called upon his return. He closed the door to his chambers behind him and it took a few long moments for his eyes adjusted to the darkness. “Prince Greenleaf?” he inquired, when his first prompt went unanswered. But what his eyes finally saw was the elf, lying on his stomach, fast asleep.
Aragorn sighed. He was now fully awake and the morning was still quite far away. There was only one thing then to be done. Aragorn dropped his robe and, rather than crawl over the bed to his side, he walked all the way around the bed. Aragorn climbed up onto the bed as carefully as he possibly could, fearing too much movement might wake Legolas. And, though the movement did register with the elf, the only result was that Legolas began snoring, lightly, through a stuffed-up nose. Aragorn rolled his eyes at the noise which was sure to help keep him even wider awake.
Aragorn tucked himself into bed beside Legolas, then gulped down most of the drink he had prepared. He closed his eyes, curling his toes then relaxing them. “One dragon… two dragons… three dragons… four dragons…”
* * * * *
Title: T is for Torn
Fandom: Stargate SG-1, beginning of Season 7
Jack looked across the table to see Daniel nodding off. He could not blame the man, really, as they'd been up for nearly two days now and Daniel wasn't used to this sort of thing yet. But that didn't mean Jack could let him sleep just now. They were seated at a celebration on a world they'd just made first contact with. There were hopes of negotiations between the two peoples and though the civilization was somewhat primitive, preliminary soil samples had shown an abundance of naqahdah.
“Daniel!” Jack whispered across the table, not wanting the sleeping archeologist to be spotted. If he'd learned anything from Daniel over the years, it was that falling asleep during a ceremony held in your honor was a very bad idea. “Daniel!” he whispered again. Then he aimed a kick under the table with one more whisper, “Spacemonkey!”
Daniel sat up at once, blinking. He met Jack's gaze with an apologetic look but didn't have a chance to apologize until they were back on Earth in the locker room.
“I am sorry,” Daniel said, rubbing his eyes and then rubbing his nose. “I guess I wasn't as ready to jump back into things as I thought I was.”
“You're just tired,” Jack said, stripping off his shirt and only then realizing he should probably turn his back to Daniel while changing. “It's great to have you back on the team, and I wouldn't let you gate out if I didn't think you were ready.” He laughed. “Funny thing about it is, though, usually it's the other way around. You're usually the one watching me to make sure I don't step on any toes.”
Daniel nodded, sitting down on the bench in-between the two rows of lockers and staring at the group. “I've remembered a lot… including a lot of things I wish I'd forgotten. But little things like my relationships with you all… it doesn't feel second nature to me yet—” He broke off, his breath hitching. “h'Chihhh! h'Choo!” He rubbed at his nose with a groan. “I'm on allergy medicine. What's wrong with me?”
Jack had noticed this about Daniel. “It happens when you travel. Back when you first joined SG-1 you used to sneeze all the time from all the gate travel. But once you got used to it that went away.”
“How long was… hah… was that?” Daniel asked, searching his pockets for a tissue. “hahhChuhhh!”
Shrugging, “A few months, maybe.”
“Months?” Daniel rolled his eyes. “That's something I didn't actually want to know.” He rubbed his thumb and forefinger at the bridge of his nose and between his eyes. “There's a lot I'm not sure I want to know. But I also really want to remember who I was,” he said.
Jack pulled on a T-shirt that didn't smell like P5X-M94 and sat down next to Daniel to offer moral support.
“There are also a lot of things that don't add up, Jack. Like why I didn't try harder to save Sha're…”
“You did everything you could, Daniel.”
“Or why my memory was erased but I'm able to recover it…”
“I'm sure Oma was just trying to help you out. One of those 'a reed bent in the wind might not stay bent' types of deals.”
“Or the fact that my apartment's so bare.”
Jack was surprised by this one, and it took him a few moments to get over it. “Bare?”
Daniel looked up, nodding. “I mean, it's got lots of things I remember… and I know you all thought I wasn't coming back. But… I only have a few changes of clothes in the closet and dresser and I didn't even have a toothbrush.”
Jack sighed and stood up. He ran his hand through his hair. Ever since Daniel had deascended… unascended… whatever it was called… he'd been trying to decide when to talk to Daniel about them. Half of him had hoped Daniel would remember on his own, but Daniel had said himself that the relationship part was the part slowest to come back to him. And while he wanted to go back to where they'd been before, he didn't want to shock Daniel. After all, Daniel had remembered his wife almost right away but had had the most trouble remembering Jack's name. That had to mean something.
And now that Daniel seemed to be slowly getting back into things… he really didn't want to make it even more difficult… on either of them.
“huh-Chihh!” Daniel had given up on trying to find a tissue by now and scrubbed his nose into the back of his hand.
Jack sighed and turned, rooting around in his locker until he found a mini-box of tissues he always kept on hand for Daniel. He tossed the box over and Daniel fumbled the catch but set it on his lap as he pulled one out. “Thanks, Jack,” he said, rubbing at his nose. He looked at the box on his lap for a moment, then picked it up and looked at it more closely. “I remember…” he said thoughtfully. Jack held his breath. “I remember you sending me a box through the Stargate.”
This was true, and Jack nodded. This was the perfect time to say something, but Jack couldn't…
“And you called me Spacemonkey today.”
Jack nodded again. He replied but still held back, wanting to say more but not daring to. “One of the first nicknames I had for you.”
Daniel looked pensive, still staring at the tissue box. Finally, “I remember the others.”
Eager, but trying not to look it, Jack waited. “You do?”
It was Daniel's turn to nod. “You could have just told me at the start we were lovers, Jack.” He smiled, looking up at the man. “Would have saved us both a lot of anxiety. I've been worried about how attracted I was to you.”
“You mean this wasn't one of those things you didn't want to remember?” Jack asked cautiously.
Daniel laughed. “Of course not. Just drive me to your place so I can see the rest of my things, okay?” He turned his head, breath hitching again. “h'chishh! Sniff!” He rubbed his nose again with another laugh. “And for the sake of less traveling, maybe I can spend the night?”
Jack grinned, glad to know Daniel was ready to jump back into this. He wrapped his arms around Daniel and pulled him into a hug, patting Daniel's back. It was good to have Daniel back. It was good to feel whole again.
* * * * *
Title: U is for Understanding
Fandom: Harry Potter, Marauder's era post-Hogwarts
Groggy and a little chilly from waking up to a dark, empty room, James hugged his arms to his chest. Wanting very much to know what was going on and where everyone was, he pulled himself out of bed. He scrubbed his hand over his face, then rubbed his fingers against his chin and the five o'clock shadow that was enough to make him think it was probably nearly eight o'clock.
He heard some faint talking as he headed out of the room. “A is for apple and just one a day keeps the doctor away,” he heard Lily say. Apparently it was storytime; he should have guessed. More softly and as an aside, Lily noted, “Wish your daddy had remembered that.”
James rolled his eyes and rubbed his nose. It was tickling like mad. By the light of a nightlight, he ducked into the bathroom and grabbed the roll of toilet tissue, blowing a few times… then a few times more. He sat down on the toilet as one hand dropped his discard in the trash bin and the other tore off a few more squares. His nose was nearly as bad when he left the bathroom but he was more curious than sniffly.
He trudged down the hallway towards the dim light and the noise, clearing his throat and sniffling. He paused just outside the doorway, peering in and listening. Lily sat in the wooden rocking chair with a book in hand and Harry sitting squarely on her lap. The only light on in the room was a small lamp on the changing table, which gave off a gentle, soothing glow.
Lily continued to read. “K is for kite, up up high in the sky. Hold *tight* to the string as you watch it fly.” At the last sentence, she hugged Harry tightly and the young boy giggled in her arms. He yawned as she went on. “L is for love, so warm and so true. Just like the love your daddy and I have for you.” She poked him on the nose and he giggled again.
She smiled and looked up on her way to turn the page, catching sight of James in the doorway. Her smile stayed as James mouthed 'I love you.' She narrowed her eyes playfully and his mouth quickly formed the words 'I'm sorry.'
They both saw little Harry yawn again and Lily decided to end storytime a little early. She stood, hugging him to her for a minute, bouncing up and down a little, whispering something James did not catch. Then she laid Harry down in his crib and draped a blanket over his legs. She leaned over and brushed the dark, unruly bangs back just long enough to place a kiss on Harry's bare forehead. Then she straightened up, raised and locked the side of the crib, and touched the mobile over the bed.
Harry looked up as the charmed mobile came to life with any one of a dozen lullabies beginning and a small, silver orb in the center glowing. Around it circled four very familiar shapes: a wolf, a rat, a dog, and a stag. Harry's eyes lost their focus after a few moments and eyelids closed. Within moments, he had drifted off to sleep.
Lily switched off the lamp but let the mobile continue with the tiny moon glowing down on Harry and the shadows of the four animals circling the walls of his room protectively.
She silently crossed the room and took James' arm, steering him out. Finding her to be unbelievably warm, he leaned into her. “I doe you've had a hard week, add I did bromise to helb you out with Harry todight… I'b so sorry.” All the talking made his stuffy nose buzz and tickle. He rubbed at it. “I wadted to, I really did. But thed I fell asleeb…”
“It's all right,” Lily said, slipping her arm around his waist and hugging him. “I understand, James. Your week has been just as hard as mine and that cold you caught from the lads certainly doesn't help. I'm glad you finally managed to get a little sleep. Are you feeling any better?” she asked, stifling a yawn of her own.
“A little better,” James admitted. “But I could use sub bore,” he said hopefully.
Halfway down the hallway towards the bedroom, they stopped and she squared off in front of him. She looked into his brown eyes for a moment, then slid both her arms around his waist, pulling him to her. “You want me to put you to bed?” she asked knowingly. He sniffled and nodded. She went up on her toes to kiss his forehead, nuzzling his black bangs away. Then she took his hand and led him back to their bedroom.
* * * * *
Title: V is for Veritaserum
Fandom: Harry Potter, Marauders post-Hogwarts
Deciding that facing the world outside the potions supply closet was something he simply could not do right now, Snape pressed his back against the wall and slid down to the floor. He wrapped his arms around his bent legs and rested his cheek against his knees. He was tired but refused to sleep for the horrible images of what he had seen racing through his mind.
Snape was not sure how long after that the door opened, but he lifted his head and looked up to the see the headmaster. Neither man smiled, but their eyes met and they nodded in greeting.
Snape cleared his throat. “I finished the Veritaserum you requested.” He gestured to the small black bottles which sat on the shelf immediately to his right. He had placed them there while putting away the remainder of the ingredients earlier.
Dumbledore walked over and put his hand on Snape's head. Fingers gently stroked the greasy black hair. “What happened, Severus?”
Shaking his head emphatically, Snape closed his eyes and buried his face in his knees again.
“Very well,” Dumbledore said, his hand sliding down onto Severus' shoulder and squeezing. “But at least come with me. You're exhausted, Dear Boy. You've been awake for days. You need sleep.”
Severus looked up, his face stricken. He was sure he must look worse than usual if Dumbledore could tell so much so easily. “I…” He searched for some excuse, any excuse. “I don't have a bed here any more.” Surely the Headmaster would let him stay there on the floor a little longer rather than go to the hospital wing to sleep as though he were a kid with a cold.
“I could hardly sleep tonight,” Dumbledore said. “You may have my bed.” He took firm hold of Severus' upper arm and helped the man to his feet. Dumbledore pocketed the bottles of strong, truth-telling potion and walked Severus upstairs.
Severus sat down on the edge of the headmaster's bed, his fingers brushing against the soft purple blanket. Then his hand instinctively reached up and rubbed his forearm where the mark was. There was a dull pain there, constantly reminding him of its presence and his part in all that had been going on. The images came flooding back now and he closed his eyes again, wishing them away. But they were almost all he could think about, apart from a few fleeting remembrances of the way his father had treated him. The terror, the abuse… Snape had joined the Death Eaters for the power, but now he was just as bad.
Hearing Dumbledore's throat clear, Snape looked up to see the older man standing before him with a steaming mug in hand. “Tea?” Severus asked, hoping at least there would be enough sugar to make it palatable.
Dumbledore shook his head as he sat down beside the man. “Hot chocolate.” Snape was reluctant to take it, but Dumbledore was unmoving.
It wasn't until Snape had taken it and had a few sips that he started feeling better. Not just warmer, but more relaxed and comfortable with where he was.
“What happened?” Dumbledore asked again, stroking the back of Snape's head all the way down to his neck.
“Too much,” Snape whispered, staring down into the cup. He was not even sure where to start, but it slipped out somehow. And once it started, he could not stop it. As he told about the Death Eaters' exploits and drank the cocoa, he leaned into Dumbledore's side. The warmth was a new sort of reassuring, as was the arm tight around his shoulder.
It wasn't until he'd finished drinking that he realized there were tears prickling the backs of his eyes. And it wasn't until that moment that understanding came over him. He pulled away, eyes wide. “You would use my own potion on me!”
“Certainly not!” replied Dumbledore, reaching out and taking Snape in his arms. “As a skilled Legilimens I have no need to use such extreme measures on you to get to the truth, Severus. Nor would I wish to waste your quality potion.”
Snape shook as he held in his emotions again. Dumbledore took the cup from him and set it aside. Then he eased Snape down and pulled covers up. A gentle kiss on Snape's forehead made the younger man's breath hitch. And another on his lips made him break down. “Shhhhhhh.” Severus turned his face halfway into the pillows and Dumbledore reached down, pulling strands of hair back from Snape's face. “It is all right, My Dear Boy. I'll not lie and say things will be perfect but now that you've told me the truth, I will do everything in my power to keep you safe.”
Sniffling, Snape looked up at Dumbledore, believing the man like he had never believed anyone before. Not his father, not Lucius Malfoy, and not Voldemort. “Will you stay the night?” he asked unashamedly, reaching out for Dumbledore's hand. The request was simple, but meant much more. Dumbledore gave his hand over willingly, along with another kiss of promise.
* * * * *
Title: W is for Whipped
Fandom: Weiß Kreuz, after Gluhen but nothing to do with Side B
Pairing: Nagi/… it'd almost be easier to list the pairings *not* represented in this drabble
Nagi walks slowly and stiffly as the pain shoots through his whole body. If not for Omi at his side, supporting him, he might never have been able to move at all. Omi guides him to their bed and carefully deposits the man face-down.
Gentle hands strip off the tattered and blood-soaked remains of clothing, without a care to the welfare of the bed linens. It would not be the first set they have ruined. The wounds are fresh and Nagi's back had borne the brunt of it. It is torn up with large, open cuts that go right from one side to the other.
Omi quickly retrieves supplies, then begins to clean the man up. Out of habit, bandages and disinfectant are never too far out of reach. Out of habit, Nagi does not wince at the stinging pain as alcohol touches his back and cloths wipe up the excess blood. He neither gasps nor cries out. In fact, he does not register any touch at all until Omi's hand gently touches his cheek. Then he rolls his eyes when Omi is not looking.
“It is all right. Your pain will pass soon,” Omi says comfortingly.
Nagi does not need the reassurance; he knows about such wounds. It is not as though this is the first time he has ever been whipped.
His first time, back when he'd been a part of Schwartz, had started out as a punishment. Bent over Crawdord's knees as the older man took a belt to him, Nagi had been taught a lesson about his proper place on the team. But more than one thing had been learned and once it became understood that Nagi actually liked it… Well, there was nothing more erotic than a lover who could see into the future to the result of each touch, each lick, each action. Or one who could read your mind to know exactly what you wanted. Or one who knew so intimately how to inflict the most perfect pains that made one's mind clear of all worries.
Nagi misses that now. Now stimulating and overpowering roughness is replaced by gentle caresses and comforting touches. Where has Omi's fire gone?
Nagi is not the only one in the room who has been beaten. Omi had been softened after years of sitting behind a desk and giving orders instead of fighting for himself. After years of watching the friends he cared about being hurt or killed. After years of fighting against a darkness that would never end, no matter how much he did or how hard he worked.
“Don't worry,” Omi reassures him. “We'll get whoever did this to you.”
“There's no need,” Nagi answers.
“Of course there is! Was it your mark? He's a dead man. I'll call C—”
Nagi shakes his head. “No,” he says flatly. “There's no need. I already killed him.” It had taken mere moments for him fix his gaze on a heavy cabinet and will it across the concrete floor, smashing the man up against a wall. It was not satisfying but a more dramatic death than simply levitating the man's gun off the ground and having it fire.
Omi pulls back, a look of shock mingled with confusion on his face. There are tears behind his eyes. “Why would you let him do this to you?”
If Nagi cannot not rationalize his need for it to himself, he has no chance of explaining to Omi. Besides, when all was said and done, it hadn't been what he'd hoped.
Omi drops the question, having learned to mind his own business about some things. But he continues his ministrations and Nagi knows it's because he has his own hopes that Nagi will eventually feel as though he has a place here. As the sharp stings of cleaning continue, Nagi closes his eyes and hopes for the same.
* * * * *
Title: X is for Xebec
Fandom: Horatio Hornblower
Pairing: Sort of Archie/Horatio
Horatio pinched his nose between his thumb and forefinger, fighting the urge to lapse into a fit of sneezes which would surely prevent him from keeping watch properly. He heard sound and sensed motion behind him, and looked over his shoulder to see Archie climbing up into the crow's nest, a canteen hanging from his mouth by the strap.
“My cold inhibits me a bit, but I promise my eyesight is fine,” Horatio said, staring Archie down as he guessed the purpose for the man's presence there.
Archie avoided a direct answer. “Brought you something,” Archie said, once his mouth was clear.
Horatio was just about to explain he that he had water of his own, but then he noticed the way Archie took a swig out of the canteen and knew it was rum. “The King, God Bless Him,” Horatio said with a bit of relief as he took the canteen and gulped down a good bit of it. “Thank you, Archie.”
Archie nodded back and put a hand on Horatio's shoulder. “It won't help cure your ills completely, but it should make you feel better until you are off duty tonight and can get some rest. How goes the watch?”
Horatio rubbed the side of his hand beneath his nose. “Better than my cold, that is for sure. I have not seen…”
Archie, who had been staring off into the distance in one direction, now turned his sights on Horatio. The man's eyes were shut tightly and his breath was hitching silently but visibly. “hitChew! Sniff!” It just about doubled him over, but there were more on the way. “hit-Chooo! Sniff! hih-Choo! Sniff!”
“God bless you,” Archie said, as soon as he was certain no more were to come. Sometimes it was difficult to tell with Horatio, but this last one looked like the last, with Horatio straightening back up and rubbing more at his nose.
“Thank you.” Horatio took another gulp. “As I was saying, the waters have been… quiet…”
Archie prepared himself to hear another volley of sneezes, but they did not come. Instead, he felt a hand on his back and a fist grabbed his uniform hastily.
“Archie? Have you any notion as to what exactly *that* is?” He pointed out in one direction. It was dusk, but not yet dark, and something could be seen approaching quickly. It looked like a frigate, and yet not quite like a frigate. It had a strange-looking hull and a more pronounced overhanging bow and stern than most small ships had. Smaller most likely meant fewer canons.
Archie reached over and slipped the spyglass off of Horatio's belt, using it to peer out towards the south. It was fuzzy for a moment until he turned the neck, and then he saw a ship come into focus. It was a small vessel with three masts. “She presents with no colors,” he said, handing the spyglass over to Horatio, who used it to look as well.
Then Horatio turned away and coughed into the back of his hand.
“I will inform the captain immediately,” Archie offered. He glanced towards the alert bell, thinking of the standard protocol which called for him to ring it.
“From its speed, it appears to be a xebec, a corsair ship,” Horatio said.
“Pirates? In these waters?” Archie said, taking the spyglass back and taking another look, even though the ship was much closer now.
“Privateers,” Horatio corrected. “Less ruthless in open waters but certainly not a friend.” He turned to Archie, who could see in his eyes that his mind was instinctively going through all the possibilities as though they were his decisions to make. He could also see Horatio teetering on the edge of another sneeze. “hih-h'Choo! Sniff! Sniff!” And he was glad that tonight the decision-making did not rest on Horatio's shoulders.
“Stay here,” Archie said, slapping his back. As Archie began to climb down, Horatio rang the bell. And after clearing his throat, he called out that there was a ship off the starboard bow.
He leaned on the rail of the crow's nest, coughing, as he heard the orders that made the ship ready for action. And he continued to call out as the ship's proximity changed. It really was one of the fastest he'd ever seen. It's maneuverability was exceptional as well, and it seemed to ride the water high, as though it could do just as well in shallow water as in deep.
The English were good at hand-to-hand combat, but Horatio advised against it. From his view from the top, he could see the ship practically swarming with bodies. It was a ship full of people whose sole purpose was to fight and take what they could. And Horatio could not allow a raid on the Indy. He quickly did the maths. “Outnumbered ten-to-one!” he shouted down with what little voice he had left, and Mathews saw that the word got to the captain.
Then Horatio held on tightly as the ship came about swiftly, presenting its most dangerous side to the other ship. He swayed, unsteady on his feet. He wished he were down below decks at his post with the canons, but he knew he did not have the voice for it tonight so there was no better place for him. He simply preyed the other ship, out gunned, did not have luck on its side and would not strike the mast as there was not time enough to climb down anyway.
The firefight was short and sweet as the disabled xebec used oars and caught the wind as well to make its hasty escape.
“Well, how was that for a spot of excitement?” Archie inquired, climbing back up into the crow's nest. “The Captain did not wish to pursue it further. But we lost no hands and they learned better than to mess with the Indefatigable!” Archie sounded winded and looked battle-weary, with disheveled hair and a tear in his uniform. His smile met Horatio's. “How are you?” he asked.
Horatio chuckled. Everyone else had done the hard work this time, though he had had a part in it as well. He did not like to think about what might have happened if he had not seen the ship when he did. “Sniff! I… hit-Choo! hihChew! Sniff! I could use more rum,” he said hopefully.
“God bless you.” Shaking his head, “You will have to settle for my company, I'm afraid.” He pulled a handkerchief out of his sleeve and, instead of wiping smudges from his cheek or sweat from his brow, he handed it to Horatio.
Horatio dabbed at his nose. “Even better.” He slipped an arm around Archie's waist and leaned into him for the warmth and support. His eyes wanted to close, and even though he could keep them open until the next bell, he was glad to have Archie's eyes helping him on the watch.
* * * * *
Title: Y is for Yearning
Fandom: Lord of the Rings, post-ROTK
One discussion. One short and unemotional discussion was all they had had on the subject, and that had taken place several moons ago. During the discussion, Legolas had fervently assured Gimli that this was where he most wanted to be. They had traveled the length and breadth of Middle Earth to find a spot that suited them both. They had built their house there and had made it a home. And they had spent their years loving each other and honoring their similarities and differences.
Lately, however, there was one difference that left an unsettling feeling within Gimli. It had come upon the elf so gradually he hadn't noticed it. In truth, it had probably been part of the elf ever since that day when Legolas had first glimpsed the sea and first heard the seagulls cry out to him. But only recently had it begun frequently interfering with Legolas.
It was a yearning. One Gimli could not understand, and one Gimli did not favor. It drew his elf away from him in mind and spirit. So even when the elf was lying beside him, Legolas was still not completely with him. Legolas went through his day as usual, waking with the dawn, eating his meals, and sleeping at night. But he spent more and more time out on the porch, sitting on the stairs and staring off towards the west. He knew what lay in that direction, many leagues beyond their woods, and he could feel himself reaching out to it. But he acted as though nothing at all had changed for him, and would not entertain another discussion on the subject.
As Legolas grew distant, Gimli grew pained and conflicted. While he wanted Legolas to stay with him in Middle Earth, the elf he saw before him was no longer fully the Legolas he had come to know and love. Legolas felt the sea-longing more strongly than anything else, it seemed. And Gimli felt guilty for his desire to keep the elf here, though he would not confess them to Legolas— another reason they had not revisited the discussion.
Naturally, Gimli became detached as well. He secretly hoped things might change for the better. But as the seasons changed, his hopes were becoming as sparse as the leaves on the trees. He likewise went through the motions of the day, not giving Legolas any reason to suspect something was bothering him, and not giving Legolas any reason to be displeased with him and want to leave.
So when Gimli caught his first cold of the season, he did his best to keep it under wraps. The last thing Legolas wanted, Gimli was sure, was a reminder of the sort of mortality that surrounded him here. Luckily, he did not have to work too hard to hide his ailment. He spent most of his time down in his workshop, and Legolas spent most of the day on the porch. During meals, Gimli ducked into the kitchen when he needed to sneeze or to cough. He muffled the sounds into his sleeve in the evenings and into his pillow at night.
On the third day of his head cold, he felt too tired to venture down into his chilly workshop. Instead, he dragged a pillow and several blankets from the bedroom to the sitting room. After starting a roaring fire in the hearth, he curled up on the floor on his makeshift bed. As he drifted off to sleep, he couldn't help but imagine Legolas might discover him and lie down beside him. He remembered past colds when Legolas would hold him and keep him warm, when Legolas would ease his discomfort with kisses, and when Legolas would not stray from his side for more than a minute. But Legolas did not come to him. Gimli gave up hope and fell asleep.
Gimli woke to a dry throat and pressure which made his nose throb. He barely sat up before sneezes struck, which he quickly directed into the crook of his arm. When the small fit passed, he decided to stay awake and he wondered how long he'd been asleep. Shades were drawn over the windows, but it did not look as though it were bright and sunny out. And if Legolas was making dinner Gimli's nose was far past the point of being able to smell anything.
Wrapping one of the blankets around his shoulders to guard against the potentially cool evening air, Gimli headed to the door. He was not surprised to find that Legolas was there, sitting on the stairs. He was surprised, however, by how very cold it was outside. He knew it did not bother the elf, but it did bother him, even with the blanket. He shivered and his nose began to ran and tickle. Before he could stop it, he sneezed suddenly, loudly, freely. And though he covered his nose a second later, the damage had been done.
“Galu,” came the instinctive reply. Then, as though the sneeze or the reply or both had snapped him out of a daze, Legolas suddenly straightened up. He turned, looking over his shoulder at the dwarf. Recognition flickered in his eyes as he studied Gimli. “How long?” he asked.
“A few days only,” Gimli replied simply, slightly startled to see Legolas getting up and moving towards him all of a sudden.
Legolas pressed a hand against Gimli's forehead to gauge fever while his other arm wrapped around Gimli and pulled him close. Taller but not wider, Legolas nonetheless tried to use his body to protect Gimli from the cold evening air. “It is far warmer inside. I will make you some tea and honey and then we can curl up in bed under the blankets together. Would you like that?”
Gimli pulled back, looked up at Legolas incredulously. “Would *you* like that?”
Legolas, showing a refreshing sort of tenderness, melted further at the words. “Oh, Gimli.” With two fingers against Gimli's chin, he lifted the dwarf's head upwards and placed a kiss on his lips. The kiss was deep and passionate in a way Gimli had not been kissed in ages. There was a flicker of the old Legolas back in the kiss, and Gimli's hope to have that Legolas again was renewed in full. “Of course I would be with you, well or unwell. You are my heart, Gimli.” He looked down at the dwarf, cocking his head to the side as he studied Gimli's expression further. “Perhaps I do not tell you that often enough?”
Gimli fell into Legolas' chest, seeking not only the elf's warmth but the steady heartbeat and the familiar touch. Both of Legolas' arms wrapped around him now in a tight, reassuring hug. “You are telling me now,” Gimli answered, his words muffled in Legolas' chest.
Legolas stroked Gimli's head several times, his fingers petting the brown hair with its streaks of gray. Then he guided Gimli inside, closing the door behind him without so much as a glance back.
* * * * *
Title: Z is for Zealous
Fandom: Harry Potter
Warnings: Apart from the pairing, there's also some chan/underage sex
“And what about the Gryffindors?” Snape asked, his fingers walking along the soft, hairy arse cheeks, digging in to make his hold firm. The thrusts were rough and the follow-through was short. But they were familiar and they were something more than his right hand.
“Those Weasley twins,” Filch began between grunts. “I confiscated—”
“Not them!” Snape said, teeth clenched. He forced Argus' arse forward, guiding him in harder and deeper. It broke Filch's rhythm, and both men winced at the pause that followed. Then Filch started again and Snape made a point not to interfere further. “Tell me about Potter and his group.”
Filch gave a grin as crooked as his teeth. “That takes us back, don't it?” Severus Snape closed his eyes at the memory.
This had started, all those years ago, as a source of information-gathering. He would have done just about anything to gain the upper-hand where James Potter and crew were concerned. But information wasn't the only thing he got out of their encounters.
Filch was always somewhat animated when talking about things like punishments for rule breakers and the heroic sorts of catches and confiscations he made. But Snape had never seen the man so lively as when he had the skinny kid with the greasy hair slammed up against the mops in the broom closet. Robes hitched up. Legs in the air. The scent of cleaning solution overpowering that of their spunk.
Filch had so much energy, so much zeal, and it was clear how much he liked Snape. For once, Snape felt what it was like to be appreciated for more than just some superbly-brewed potions. As though it were a euphoria potion, Snape would drink in the older man's eagerness and enjoyment, and he would bask in his own pleasure, though he wouldn't let that show. It wouldn't do to let Filch know he actually liked it.
Snape would sometimes glance over at Filch, at the staff table after Slytherin lost the House Cup *again* or across the stands when Gryffindor won at Quidditch. That worn face and cold eyes would be looking back at him. And later they would be staring down at him as Snape was spread eagle on top of Filch's desk. It was enough to make any pain of his go away for a little while at least.
Snape was certain that Filch must have figured out by now that these sessions weren't about intel, that that was merely a excuse to loosen Filch's belt buckle and justify the unconventional situation. And he must surely have known that it was no coincidence that this particular fucking took place only hours after Snape lost his Order of Merlin and Sirius Black had escaped. But Snape had always been one for preserving pretenses and he knew Filch wasn't exactly the brightest candle in the chandelier. “Come on, Filch… haven't got all… ah… all day…” Snape snapped, opening his eyes once more. “What-what about them?”
“Well… it's probably nothing… but I thought I saw Potter and Granger… sneaking across the main hall… same time Malfoy… same…” Winded, practically wheezing around his words, Filch's words trailed off.
“Yes,” Snape sighed. “Y-yes!” It *was* probably nothing, but Finch was shooting and Snape wasn't commenting about the observation. The sneer was gone and the uncharacteristic smile on his face showed he didn't care a thing about Potter anymore.