Thomas/Harry. R. ~1700 words. UST. Set after Blood Rites.
Harry woke to the uncommon event of someone crawling into his bed.
Harry woke to the uncommon event of someone crawling into his bed.
In the time it took him to huff a breath, smack a hand to his face and grunt out a few noises he fully intended to be words, he realised it was no divine nymph slinking under his covers, but Thomas unceremoniously flopping beside him to steal his pillow.
“It’s almost three,” Thomas said, and Harry managed to crack one eye open just long enough to see him tuck his arms behind his head and cross his ankles. “Are you getting up today?”
“Out late,” Harry mumbled, tugging at his trapped blankets. His sorry excuse for a bed wasn’t meant for more than 75% of an average grown man, let alone two topping out around six feet.
Thomas’s voice took on a sly note. “I know.”
“That’s your own fault.”
Harry grunted, ready and willing to admit that was completely true, and stubbornly prepared to summon up the sweet sucking blackness of the really good dead-to-the-world sleep he’d been enjoying. It hovered tantalisingly within reach when a solid elbow to his side snatched it away like a sheet of newspaper snapped up by a tornado. With half of his face smushed into the mattress, his curses sounded more like Mouse’s curious snuffling.
“I want pancakes,” Thomas said.
Harry pointed in the approximate direction of the door. “IHOP’s thataway.”
“And a warm shower.”
That one Harry couldn’t help with so much. Being stuck with piping water in from the Arctic wasn’t his idea.
“I’ve been wondering about that one. Why don’t you use magic?”
Harry lifted a finger, said, “Ice cube,” then lifted his bandaged hand and added, “Charcoal.”
“You might want to look into the concept of ‘middle ground’ one day. Or maybe even ‘half-assed’. There are times when it might not actually kill you.”
Heaving a truly mighty sigh, Harry rolled over, taking up as much space as he could. One of Thomas’s legs slid off the bed. “All right. I’m awake. You can stop being the irritating older brother any time now.”
“You’re not awake until you’re on your feet, and even then, it’s hit and miss.” Thomas gave his thigh a brotherly pat. “Up and at ‘em.”
Sheer force of will alone kept Harry from whining like a puppy kicked out into the rain. All he wanted to do was sleep, and maybe if he could squeeze it in, mope a bit between naps. The case he’d snagged yesterday hadn’t turned out to be the tiptoe through the tulips it should’ve been. And his hand hurt, which he figured more than anything was the result of the three-foot thick chunk of wall that had decided to fall on it.
To be fair, the wall had fallen on the rest of him, too, and there were a few ribs that weren’t very happy about it, but his hand was one vocal little son of a bitch.
So, Harry did the only thing he really could do. He grunted.
Thomas heaved himself up off the bed. “You really are a wimp, Harry,” he said, and went out to the kitchen nook to make as much noise as inhumanly possible rounding up a few painkillers and a glass of water. He held the pills just out of reach above Harry’s head. “Up, before your limbs atrophy.”
Grumbling, Harry struggled to sit up, the thick quilts that kept him toasty warm in the darkest winter nights weighing half an ounce shy of two tons as he pushed them down and settled his back against the wall.
“You look like shit,” Thomas said, dropping the pills into his outstretched hand while eyeballing the black and blue checkerboard the left side of his chest had become.
“Thanks,” Harry muttered, draining the glass. He tongued the inside of his teeth, still thirsty, and wondered if he could get away with sending Nursemaid Thomas out for a refill.
“No, I’m serious.” Bending low, Thomas prodded gently at his side with cool fingertips. It felt like screwdrivers digging into his ribs. “That feels like a fracture.”
“Hey, I’m in here, I know when it’s a fracture.” Another gentle prod sent Harry’s breath hissing out from between clenched teeth. “And that’s a fracture. Maybe you should quit jabbing and get something to wrap it with.”
Thomas’s gaze flickered quickly upwards. After a short moment of silence, he said, “Sure.”
Harry tilted his head back and closed his eyes. He would’ve done it last night, but it hadn’t seemed so important at the time, and not nearly as appealing a concept as crawling into his bed to die in relative peace. It wasn’t even that somebody had tried to squish him for being a meddling detective; he’d just been in the right place at a very wrong time. Taken out by a piece of shoddy architecture was not high on his list of ways to go.
Thomas came back with a few thick rolls of stretchy white bandages and sat on the edge of the bed, nudging Harry’s arms out of the way so he could get down to business. “How is it you haven’t managed to fall apart yet?”
“Good ol’ fashioned obstinacy. There’s a reason the Beetle’s still kicking.” Harry winced as Thomas checked the bandage and pulled it a little tighter. “Ow.”
“Is that how you got this one, too?” Thomas asked, his fingers hovering over the dark mottle near Harry’s temple. “Beating your head against a brick wall?”
Harry sniggered, and the laughter bubbling up deep in the back of his throat burst free in a wheezing puff, his bruised and battered willpower no match for the light dusting of irony on top of the flat you-really-should-listen-to-me-little-brother-Harry look Thomas levelled at him. He ended up listing dangerously to one side, clutching at his ribs, and didn’t notice the tight grip on his arms until Thomas’s voice slunk through his rattling breaths.
“Careful,” Thomas warned.
“Sorry, I’m not laughing at you,” Harry said, brushing tears away. His whole chest ached now, not just the battered half. “If you’d had the night I did–” He realised then how still Thomas had gone, how his skin had cooled, paled to a flawless white. “You’re kidding me,” Harry said, the tail end of what should’ve been another laugh clogged up his throat like a soggy cotton ball. He was beat up, sure, and tired, but not so weak as to set off the dinner bell.
Bright sliver speckles shone through the dark grey of Thomas’s eyes, spreading like spilled mercury. He blinked once, slowly, as his mouth hitched up at one corner. “A little,” he said. “I had to get your attention somehow, didn’t I? You’re going to bust another rib.”
While Harry appreciated the humour, this was a new and unprecedented knowledge of the word ‘awkward’. He held up both hands, palms out. The heavy weight of Thomas’s gaze was uncomfortable enough to experience from the sidelines, and in no way ever did Harry need a front row seat. “Very effective. You can let go now.”
Thomas’s thumb grazed the soft skin of his inner elbow, a touch light enough that if he forgot the tingle in its wake, he could probably manage to write off as nothing at all. But ignoring the fact that his brother was a lust-hungry vampire while being watched in the exact same way he sized up a thick, juicy, flame-grilled hunk of beef before the first bite was not in his show-stopping array of skills.
“It’s only been a few months since you were still hers, Harry,” Thomas said, his voice warm, touchable. A pulse of something definitely not fear shot through Harry’s chest, but unlike his brief brush with Inari, his hormones didn’t launch directly into an x-rated cha-cha. They were definitely up and taking notice, though, giving Thomas the eye like they weren’t too sure about the idea but what the hell, they’d give it a shot.
“Uh,” Harry said, shoring up his longstanding position as the universe’s absolute pillar of intelligence.
The backs of Thomas’s knuckles grazed Harry’s shoulder. “I shouldn’t be able to touch you like this.”
Harry looked down. His skin was the pale shade of a man who didn’t take a single step outside without a trusty leather duster. It looked wrong next to Thomas’s, marred by more than old scars. Both of Thomas’s hands skidded down, soft fingertips finding the many cuts and minor bruises he had racked up last night and smoothing restlessly over them, as if they could be erased through touch alone.
Thomas ducked down a little, catching Harry’s gaze when it flickered back up and smiling a little as he leaned in, his lips parted on a word that turned to a sharp hiss. He snatched his hands back, teeth bared in a snarl that flipped to wide-eyed disbelief and then an expression of carefully cultivated self-depreciation.
Harry slumped back, frowning hard, trying to wrap his brain around the last thirty seconds of what was an admittedly a brain-warping life, and the magic eight ball said chances were good it wasn’t going to change any time soon. “Did you just–”
“My fault,” Thomas cut in, gingerly flexing his hands. The flats were slightly pinked, like from a steam burn. “I know better than to play doctor.”
“You tried to nibble on me.”
Thomas winced. “Learning curve?”
“You’re my brother.”
Thomas’s jaw worked, and then he said, calm and even and as if Harry had woken up just that little bit extra crazy, “I wasn’t going to jump you, Harry, Christ. Give me some credit.”
Crossing his arms and summoning up as ferocious a glare as he could manage considering he was half-naked and propped up in bed, Harry aimed it straight at Thomas’s singed palms. “Caught red-handed in the cookie jar.”
Thomas just looked at him.
“Disregard that metaphor. I am not a cookie jar.”
“I’m hungry,” Thomas said, still in that infinitely reasonable tone. “You’re injured and prone to whining, wishing for somebody to come along and make it better. It’s not my fault you’re so desperate for attention.”
After a long futile moment spent chewing on ways to flip that around to make his life sound less pathetic, Harry said, “So we’ll stamp it a minor slip-up, call it a day.”
With a small, grateful smile, Thomas said, “Pancakes?”
“Hey, you woke me up. Go forth and mix.”