This comes from the 64 Damn Prompts on LiveJournal (by rashaka). I will, most likely, be working through all 64, because I can't bear to leave such a lovely thing unfinished. I will also include the song that helped me write it/find inspiration/that I thought fit the mood.
P.S.~ Oh noes! It's drabbles gone mad!
(…Ignore that, I'm sleep deprived.)
P.P.S ~ This drabble was killing me, just wouldn't get written—and then this song came on, and before I knew it I had ten pages. Take Me Home Tonight is one of my top 5 favorite songs ever, and it just…fit so perfectly. That's where the lyrics at the end come from, if you were curious. I don't own them, and I most certainly can't sing like Eddie.
Prompt 24: Fight/Flight
Music: Take Me Home Tonight, by Eddie Money
Collin hadn't meant for it to turn out this way.
There had, before, always been a clear line. People fell into four categories for him: friend, enemy, ally, stranger. So what was he to do when a falling star shattered everything he thought he understood about the world?
First the star was a stranger, mentioned only in Lord Adrien's reports as part of a group of opponents with the ability to take on any form. Then he was an enemy—un ennemi, intruder, invader. Then Lord Randall defected, along with Lords Absolon and Tomas, and labels had reversed. His former lord had been the enemy, and the ennemi boy with hair the color of a particularly dark red rose had become an ally. He fought with them, all through the White War, the kingdom darkest days. He invaded the enemy stronghold, much as he had once invaded the their kingdom, and Absolon had fallen. So had Randall.
Collin still didn't know quite how to feel about that. The man had been his lord for as long as he had been alive. Collin had worshiped him. Yes, he was sad. But there was also a little bit of anger there, that he hadn't been the one to strike the final blow.
After all, the man was a traitor. He had betrayed the entirety of the kingdom. And, more importantly, he had betrayed Collin, who had thought—despite their differences in station—that they were friends.
And now, Chance was here.
In the Winterlands.
A fellow soldier.
Collin wanted desperately, desperately, to call the younger man a friend.
But he knew it wasn't that simple anymore.
For a man, Chance was unusually beautiful. He was slender, not overly tall, and had deceptively delicate features. Most of the time, no one could tell, because that face was filled with fire and passion and fury and life. But sometimes, when everything was quiet and the world was still, Collin would see Chance at rest, his face relaxed and peaceful, and it would hurt in the way that looking at beautiful things always did. It was a gentle ache, sweet and good, acknowledging how precious something was. And Collin admitted it, if only to himself. Chance was precious to him, more so than anyone else. Even Randall. Even his sister.
And Chance would never, ever look at him.
He was always quiet. Chance was learning that it was like a defensive wall, that silence. Collin used it to keep everyone out. And behind the barrier, his eyes grew darker and darker, until the summer-sky blue was nearly black. Not that anyone else looked at the blond Captain of the Guard closely enough to notice. He was just a figurehead, someone stuck into the position of authority in Randall's old lands because of a shortage of personnel, never to be trusted with too much authority after what had happened with his lord.
Chance was never quite sure what drew him to Collin. Maybe it was the silence, which had caught his eye amid all of the Winterlands' endless whirl, the rush of motion that was both mad and maddening. Collin was like a steady rock standing against the tide, stationary and immovable but slowly worn down by the relentless beating. That alone made Chance want to go to him, prop him up, give him a shoulder to lean on and a safe haven to retreat to when he needed it.
He didn't bother to analyze his feelings too deeply, but even from skimming just the surface, he knew that Collin mattered. The why was irrelevant. He just did, and that was enough for Chance.
He made the first move, and it was easy—surprisingly easy—to do.
During one of the nights that Lucien, Alexandre, Etienne, and Troy—his fellow shapeshifters, drafted in the war against the Winterlands by Lord Absolon and then defectors in the kingdom's favor—dragged him out to watch them drink themselves into a stupor, he happened to see Collin sitting far back in the corner. Unlike the other loud, obnoxious soldiers in the place—of whom Chance's unasked-for companions were the loudest and most obnoxious—he wasn't drinking, just staring out the dark window.
Chance considered a dozen excuses to go over and join him, but rejected them all in favor of doing what came naturally. He got up, ordered a pot of tea and two cups from the harried bartender, and carried the tray over to Collin's table.
"Do you mind if I sit here?" he asked.
Collin looked up at him in surprise, and then managed a half-smile. His deep blue eyes lightened just a little bit. "Chance. Shouldn't you be…ah…" His gaze flickered to Chance's group, and then back as he trailed off.
Chance shook his head, sitting sideways in his chair and leaning back against the wall so that he could see the rest of the bar. "No. They just wanted me here to make sure that Natalie and Madeline don't pull any tricks on them while they're drunk off their collective ass. Apparently, last time they did this, the girls convinced them to go skinny-dipping in Lord Adrien's pond and then stole their clothes."
Collin chuckled, though it sounded a touch reluctant—as if he did find it funny, but laughing about it was too hard. "I see. That would certainly make me rethink ever getting drunk again. I'm surprised they made it out alive."
Chance poured tea for them both. "Do you ever? Get drunk, I mean." He nodded at the single glass that sat in front of Collin, still half-full of wine.
The other's smile was so melancholy it hurt to see. "Not anymore. At first, I thought…but it just numbs things for a short while, and makes them harder to bear afterwards. It wasn't worth it. I just come here because…" He accepted the cup that Chance offered him with a nod of thanks. "Well, the nights are too long, sometimes."
Chance nodded in understanding, cradling the mug between his palms. "For me, too. I guess I'm still used to getting up at all hours for reconnaissance missions, like I used to do in the war. Here, unless I have patrol or one of the lords calls our group to duty, the dark seems endless." Offhandedly, he offered, "You know, if you ever can't sleep, my door is always open. It would be nice to have someone to talk to in the middle of the night."
Collin paused, about to take a sip, and then looked at the other soldier. For a moment, Chance thought he was going to refuse, but then his head dipped ever so slightly. "Thank you, La Rue. I believe I just might take you up on that." Quickly, as though to avoid Chance's eyes, he turned to gaze out the window again, changing the subject. "The sky is beautiful tonight, isn't it? I used to sit out on the battlements whenever it was clear like this, and just watch the stars until I fell asleep."
There were too many lines in his face, Chance thought. Too many cares and worries placed on his shoulders far too soon. Coming to a quick decision, he set his now-cool tea down and stood. "Then let's go. My quarters isn't far away, and I live on the top floor, so no one can complain if we sit on the roof."
Collin looked startled, turning to blink at him. "I…" For a long moment, he couldn't seem to find the words. Then, after a few seconds of struggle, he gave in and bowed his head. "All right. But…the others…"
Chance cast a glance at his friends, and then raised an eyebrow. "They dragged me along without permission. I never promised I'd watch them. And besides, at this point, I think they deserve whatever's coming to them. "
The blond chuckled again, but this time it was free and open, not suppressed or tinged with sadness. "Yes. I rather think the barman agrees with you, too."
Chance looked at the heavyset man, who appeared to be pleading with Alexandre not to dance on the tables, and laughed.
Collin smiled, and they walked out side by side.
They spent the night together, looking at the stars in silence or talking in low voices. It was the same the next night, only they fell asleep halfway through and woke up with the dawn, stiff and chilled, but content. The night after that, Chance brought blankets up with them, which made Collin smile again, and they slept side by side under the sickle-shaped moon.
Collin wasn't quite certain what was happening, but he thought it was good. Chance was looking at him, talking to him, smiling with him. He hadn't thought that anything could make Chance more beautiful. That first smile proved him wrong. When the other soldier smiled, he was breathtaking.
Their stargazing quickly became a nightly ritual, and it led to other things. Eating breakfast together was a natural progression, since they woke together every morning. Soon after, they started to eat lunch together, on the hill overlooking Lord Adrien's lake. And then it was dinner, either in one of their homes or out in the Winterlands, where the two of them together grew to be a frequent sight. They were an odd pair—one fierce and loud, the other quiet and subdued—but they complemented each other perfectly, and their friends were happy for them—happy that Collin was finally smiling and laughing again, when they had thought he never would after Randall's betrayal, and happy that Chance was finally content in the Winterlands, when they had not thought he could be.
And then there was the kiss.
Collin was never quite sure who initiated it, but he really, really couldn't care less, because there, sitting on Chance's roof in the pale glow of false dawn, Chance was kissing him, their tongues tangling together, breaths mixing, fingers intertwining. And it was heat, and good, and great, and absolutely goddamned incredible, and Collin never wanted it to stop. Neither did Chance, apparently, because as soon as they had surfaced in order to breathe they were kissing again, fierce collisions and gentle meetings and curious explorations that drove both of them halfway to madness as everything they had been feeling for months now all came pouring out at once.
"Hell," Chance whispered when the need for air was finally too pressing to ignore. He drew back and let his forehead drop against Collin's, pupils blown wide, beautiful face almost too close for Collin to bear. Then his lips—soft, full, coral, delicious—quirked in the bare shadow of a full-fledged grin, and he let out a long breath that was scented with the red wine they had both been drinking—lightly, of course, because Collin had paperwork in the morning and Chance was on patrol, and they were both good soldiers above all else.
With that, Collin knew that there was not a single part of him that did not love Chance La Rue's everything.
And, reflecting back at him from the depths of Chance's green-gold eyes, the same emotion made his heart rise up in his chest, overwhelming the sudden rush of horrified fight/flight flight/fight getaway-run-move-pushhimoff-thiscan'tbehappening that made his stomach take a screaming, suicidal leap towards the vicinity of his toes.
"La Rue?" he managed after a moment, and hated that it sounds so breathless and uncertain, like an untried young girl facing her crush for the first time.
Chance shook his head, smile growing by hair's breadths as he pulled back and looked at Collin as though the Captain was everything and anything and all he could want and hope-future-brightness-Iloveyou all wrapped into one.
"I think we can move past last names," he said, and there was very real, utterly tangible amusement in his voice. "I try to be on a first-name basis with everyone who gets their tongue halfway down my throat."
Collin couldn't help but smile at that, because he already knew that Chance had never done this before, never been in a real relationship—and it had been a long time for Collin, too. Far too long, though he was glad he had waited, if this was what was in his future.
"Chance," he agrees softly.
"Collin," Chance echoed gently, and Collin couldn't keep from kissing him again.
It was almost absurd how easy it was for them to slip together, Chance thought, watching the sunrise over the walls of the town. Even after four months together, they were still all but unable to sleep a night through, and usually ended up on the roof again, pressed together like some kind of human Gordian Knot, legs tangled, arms intertwined, heads resting on whatever convenient pillow-like areas were available on the other's body.
They were also the resident odd couple, but Chance couldn't bring himself to mind—and he doubted, stringently, that they could ever be any weirder than Adrien and Lucien. Just thinking about that gave him the shivers. But he was able to ignore the strange looks, the odd glances whenever they were out together, because Collin was everything he had ever dreamed or fantasized about in a friend—and even more so what he had wanted in a lover.
Once, he might have fought these feelings, might have run from their implications—and the large, aching hole in his heart where he stilled blamed himself for his family's death at the hands of a superstitious village urged him to do just that. But Collin was good, and Collin was kind, and Chance knew that, no matter how long this lasted for Collin, it was forever for him.
And he wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
Collin was his first, but he couldn't bring himself to feel nervous, anxious, or even worried when he looked the blond Captain of the Guard straight in the eyes and invited him into his bedroom. They were perfect together, hot and cool, fast and slow, fight and flight, opposite and identical and so damned complete that it was an almost tangible ache in his chest whenever he thought about it. Collin said yes, accepted his invitation, and as soon as the bedroom door closed, he overwhelmed Chance with touches and kisses and hands everywhere. When they finally came together, it was everything Chance had thought it would be, and when he was recovered, he returned the favor, leaving them tangled on the futon in a sweaty, exhausted heap.
They were pressed together, every possible inch of skin touching, arms around each other and gazes softly, gently unwavering, and Chance had never felt so whole or contented in all of his life.
I get frightened in all this darkness; I get nightmares—I hate to sleep alone. I need some company, a guardian angel to keep me warm when the cold winds blow. I can feel you breathe; I can feel your heartbeat faster.
They fell asleep like that, together, each with a hand over the other's heart, and didn't stir until the sun broke the horizon the next morning.
Neither had ever slept better.
I'm in love with Collin in this story, if no one could tell. He's such a lovely character to write, and just…(I want to say squee, but my brother has threatened to drown me in my granola if I do, so I'd best not.)