No-one here but me. And the spam comments in Russian that I've still to get around to deleting. And the large group of angry, newly homeless tarantulas I've just chased out. No doubt they'll be setting up home on my windowsill.
So why am I back after 5+ years? Well...A certain very-talented fic writer, the inimitable avaaricious, asked me to post a birthday fic I wrote for her a year ago, for the now-complete webcomic Friendly Hostility. "Springtime" is what TV Tropes (a site that has devoured at least half of my immortal soul by now) would deem a Fix Fic - and frankly, I'm okay with that. The canon sequel tends to leave me depressed.
So, in honour of Av, I present: Springtime.
Fandom: Friendly Hostility
Rating: Er...call it a 12/PG-13, just to be safe
Warnings: More sap than can be found in the Botanical Gardens. Have your dentist handy.
Description: The kitchen's trying to kill them, the garden's full of unidentified plant life, and the bedroom is far too cold. But everything is perfect, none the less.
The first thing that strikes Collin Sri’Vastra on this particularly pleasant February morning (and his day off), is the noticeable absence of Fox.
Grumpily, he opens one eye to try and discover the reason for this anomaly. It has only been a few weeks since he’d woken up to discover that the usual morning tangle of arms and legs had been resumed – as opposed to the worrying trend of last year, when he’d woken up with his teeth grinding, his face to the wall, and scrunched up into a hostile touch-me-and-die bundle of simmering, nameless resentment. He didn’t much care to remember the sight that followed immediately upon turning over to exit the bed; Fox’s skinny back, projecting a sense of confused and saddened hurt. He cared even less to remember the vicious, largely one-sided fights of this time last year, of his flirtations with a man that had seemed just what he’d needed and a corporation that had offered him everything he thought he’d wanted, at the price of a man that he’d all but decided to abandon anyway…
A lot can change in a year.
Laundry-guy is currently being held at some prison, following an incident that involved feds and a botched hit. Collin had found out months after the fact, having finally had the washing machine repaired after a harrowing one-to-one session with the meanest marriage counsellor in the western hemisphere – mean, but clever.
“So you’re telling me that all the problems in the relationship are caused by your partner’s thoughtlessness while you’re making eyes at some guy you do laundry with? Don’t make me laugh. If you’ve got any balls at all, either get the damn appliance fixed and avoid guys who make a point of hitting on other folks’ boyfriends, or tell your partner to his face that he’s been ditched in favour of dirty t-shirts and Persil Colour Care.”
Her harsh, mocking voice was not what he’d wanted to hear at the time – at any time – but it had done its job. His one small consolation was finding out, once he and Fox
had shakily reopened normal communication channels, that she had been equally merciless to the brunet. Relief had been replaced with anger in defence of his mate and best friend, and he’d really let her have it in their next counselling session, jumping to Fox’s aid and feeling very macho and pleased with himself…until he’d noticed that the counsellor’s eyes were laughing at him, she looked insufferably smug, and Fox was gazing at him with nothing short of adoration.
She was a successful bitch, and one that he owed a great debt of gratitude to. But she was still a bitch, and firmly on Collin’s list of “people first against the wall when the revolution comes.” He’d make sure her death was swift and merciful, though.
Two months later, with the relationship back on steadier footing and Fox writing short stories (of all things) that actually managed to turn a dollar or two, Collin had handed in his resignation at Creed, citing that he was planning on moving from the area. He’d brushed aside offers of transferral, ignored pointed remarks aimed in his direction, and all but sprinted out the door at the end of the month.
For a few months, it had been him and Fox against the world once more, hunting for a new apartment and a new start. It would be another two months, after a new house, taking a job in local politics and Fox’s acceptance into a considerably-less-risky-than-The-Daily-W
Life was good once again. Or at least, it would be, once he located Fox.
Collin throws off the covers of his electric blanket, only to realise that this is a serious miscalculation and the room is freezing for no apparent reason…no apparent reason that is, until he solves both mysteries at once and locates Fox, shirtless and hanging half-out of the window. A cold breeze curls into the room, smelling of something indistinguishable but pleasant.
The smell may be nice enough, but the temperature definitely isn’t, and it makes his words sleepily sharp.
“Fox, if you freeze your nipples off, I refuse to take anything out of our house restoration fund for the cosmetic surgery to reattach them.”
“Good morning to you too, light of my life,” the taller man answers without even turning around. “Sleep well?”
“I did, right up until the point my insane lover decided to murder me through hypothermia.”
Fox does turn then, with that glorious, slow smile, and Collin is so swept away that it takes him a moment to realise that it’s the word “lover” that prompted it. Fox is so bloody thrilled to be here, with Collin, that little things seem to make him bubble over with joy. He extends his arms for a hug, and Collin obligingly wanders into the embrace zone.
“I meant what I said about the surgery, by the way,” he informs Fox, muttering against his bare chest. “We really need a decent kitchen.”
“We have a toaster. And also a grill.”
“Meaning our diet currently consists of heated bread and bacon. Oh, and beer. Fun as that is, Fox, I’ve got no intention of dying from malnutrition in my thirties.”
Fox’s chuckle is a soothing rumble against his cheek, and he leans into it.
“Guess you win. Does that mean we’re gonna have to go look at refrigerators today?”
“Yes, it does. As we agreed last night.”
“You could’ve had me agree to jump outta window last night, and I wouldn’t’ve noticed,” Fox positively purrs. “Didn’t know you were that flexible.”
“Age does not wither nor custom stale my infinite variety,” Collin paraphrases smugly, from some book he’s read but can’t remember at the moment. “And I’m gonna shove you out of that window if you don’t close it in ten seconds.”
“Make it a minute,” Fox murmurs into his hair. He looks up and out of the glass, at the tree-lined streets below. Collin can hear Fox’s lungs expand as he breathes deeply. “Smell that?”
“The fact that you badly need a shower? Hell yeah,” the blond can’t resist teasing, prompting a mock-scowl from his partner.
“C’mon Boss. I meant the wind.” Another deep breath. “It’s spring.”
Collin finally obliges, letting the cold air strike and swirl around him. He manages to place the smell this time – it’s earth, earth that’s been rained on, threaded through with an odd floral scent – odd, because no flowers worth mentioning have made their appearance known.
“It’s not spring yet,” he points out, looking up at Fox, who’s closed his eyes and tilted his head upwards. He’d beginning to look like his namesake animal, nose tilted up to catch a scent, fur ruffled by the breeze.
“Yeah it is…”
“Fox, February 24th does not constitute “spring.” It constitutes “winter finally deciding to sod off elsewhere.”
“An’ that’s spring,” Fox maintains with a canine smile.
Collin gives up. The argument is pointless, but reassuring, and he can’t deny that the wind flowing through the window carries the promise of better things to come.
Like Fox’s birthday, which he has big plans for. Fox’s 25th had been an almost miserable occasion for…various reasons, and Collin is determined that this year will more than make up for that.
Fox is still talking.
“We’ve even got a garden this year, Boss. Couldn’t hurt to stick some pretty flowers in it.”
Fox is undeniably Padma’s son, but is becoming increasingly like his mother too as he grows older. He’ll be baking cookies next, and Collin places a private bet with himself that by the end of the year, they will have at least one rose bush in the disaster zone that currently passes itself off as a garden.
On a more practical level though…”Fox, could we please make sure that the wiring in the living room isn’t going to fry us before we start thinking about flowers and water features? The thought of hacking through those brambles gives me nightmares.”
To be honest, the brambles are no more intimidating than the rest of their new home. The only serviceable parts of the building are their bedroom and bathroom, where the previous owner had made a token effort at restoration before placing her house on the market. The other rooms are bare and broken, and it’s no surprise they got the place so cheap, since no-one else had wanted it for well over year, an eyesore on an otherwise classy neighbourhood. Yet the battered building just felt right, had welcomed them from the instant they’d stepped through the creaking front door. It looked neglected, and damaged, and in badly in need of love, but its generous size and solid foundations promised a great reward anyone who was prepared to pay it time and attention. Fox had commented that it must have been lonely for years, with an owner who only used it as a place to crash between travels. Collin had snorted and pointed out that houses didn’t talk, and that Fox’s instant fondness for the place probably had more to do with its name – “The Fennix” – than any real merit.
And yet he’d found himself happily signing the deed to the place anyway.
“Oh, electrician’s coming next Tuesday. Forgot to say,” Fox informs him with an apologetic grin. “And no, I haven’t mentioned it to dad.”
Collin smiles at the thought of his in-laws, at the joy and relief of their faces when he and Fox last visited, holding hands and trying to make sure that their more private acts of reconciliation were not heard through the walls. He suspects they failed miserably, judging by Nefertari’s more knowing looks.
“Since you haven’t signed the house up for experimental science, you are forgiven for your fuckin’ godawful memory. As long as you’re the one who stays in to wait for the electrician.”
“Thank you, oh Magnanimous One,” Fox laughs. Collin grins a response, and follows Fox’s gaze. On closer inspection he can see why Fox is thinking of spring and flowers - outside, the few trees that hold themselves above the ground-level chaos of their front yard are offering white buds.
Fox sighs, and Collin realises that his other half can think of a thousand nicer things to do on this (spring) February day than look at fridges, but he’s given his word and won’t protest. One long brown hand reaches up to close the window, only to have Collin catch its wrist and stop him.
“Wait.” He tugs on Fox’s arm, drawing him back towards the bed. “I’m used to the cold now.” He sits down on the mattress, pulling Fox over him.
“Make you a deal. We go look at refrigerators like we agreed, so we can make sure we don’t starve to death before the rest of this batshit-insane house is finished. Then we can go to the park, look at flowers, whatever you like. But first…”
And “but first” requires no further elaboration.
As to this journal's fate...I don't know yet. More fic? More musing with the benefit of five more years' experience? Reviews? Talking to myself? All of the above? Answers on a postcard - I don't know myself. Yet.
Except for those spam comments. Those are GOING.
*arms herself with a broom*