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~ By now, I believe the world would end if I actually managed to make one of these a normal drabble—you know, like the 100 words they're supposed to be.
P.P.S ~ Midterms have killed me. Hopefully, I will soon escape their dreaded grasp and have more time to write. (And will be able to stop sharing my laptop with my brother, who I'm sure is infecting it with evil older twin cooties.)
Prompt 26: Color
Music: Adore Adore, by Yoav
It it's that stupid robe that catches his eye first.
He's still an enemy, then—still fighting them. But not him. For all he stands with the other soldiers and mages, shoulder-to-shoulder with the Sorcerer-General, he's not one of them.
They're all strange and somber, each monochromatic in his or her black and white armor and black and white robes.
He's not, though—he's bright, showy, eye-catching in a woman's flowery pink robe, like a splash of blood in a black-and-white world. Alexandre can't help but notice him, even when his attention should be firmly on other things, even when faced with all of his opponents in one neat knot before him.
This man, he thinks, watching the small smile the brightly robed captain is giving him, this man is different.
It's a good kind of different, too. Even during his battle with Lord Adrien, Alexandre can feel the man's power building and bursting in his battle with Natalie, like a raging river trapped too long behind a dam, and thinks it again.
This man is different.
It's not solely the choice in wardrobe, though that's a part of the impression. Nor is it solely the fact that he was merciful, and honorable, and didn't want to fight in his battle with Natalie—though that last one helps greatly, especially hearing Madeline's stories about the crazy Dragon Division captain she faced and was forced to kill. Alexandre understands not wanting to fight. He understands wanting to keep it as a last resort.
He approves, most definitely. If he had a choice, he would be just as happy not fighting, really.
But he hasn't been given that choice.
And then there's the whole catastrophe with that traitor Absolon and the other lords defecting, and everyone is shocked and horrified and stunned, because of course this has never happened before, and of course the Winterlands are infallible, and there's no way Absolon will get away with this for long.
(He already has, Alexandre thinks, for years.)
And Alexandre is still recovering, because even Madeline's healing can't completely deal with getting almost cut in half yet, and he has to be taken to the Healer's Division with the scary-creepy Lady Catherine, who he's willing to be could cow even that crazy bastard Etienne. He has no more time to think before he's being doped up with something and is out like a light.
When he next wakes up, it's to birdsong, a sun that's way too bright beating against his brain through his closed eyelids, and a strong feeling that something small, furry, and filthy died in his mouth a week ago. Ugh. He grimaces, tries to remember where the hell he is and why the hell he isn't back in his bed in the shapeshifters' hideout or lying wounded in a sewer somewhere, and gets a blurry collection of half-remembered impressions before he gives up and groans.
A soft chuckle surprises him, and he manages to pry one eyelid open to glare at the man in the chair next to his bed.
All he can see is pink.
(It's not that bad a color, really, he thinks, recalling the same shade of pink from somewhere else—somewhere important. Something important.)
The brightly patterned blob shifts for a moment, and then the room becomes blessedly dim. The blob—which he can now see is actually a woman's robe draped over the average mage-soldier's outfit—resettles next to him and says kindly, "The stuff Catherine gives is awful, and I sympathize. Would you like some water, now that we're not enemies any more?"
Alexandre manages to pry his other eyelid up and nod faintly. "Yes," he manages, though it sounds far closer to a groaning croak than the word it's supposed to be.
The mage—a lord, probably, because of his attitude—just chuckles again, and puts an arm behind his shoulders so that he can drink. It hurts—even breathing hurts, right now—but Alexandre is too grateful to be ashamed of his weakness or resentful of the pain. The cool water slides down his throat like bliss, and even though he's only allowed a few sips, it's enough to make him feel human again.
(Mostly, Alexandre thinks distantly, because I'm not really human, am I?)
"Thank you," he says, when the man lets him lie down again—because, despite what people seem to think, his mother did teach him manners. He just doesn't feel like using them very often.
The man smiles at him, oddly cheery against the backdrop of this sterile hospital room, and pats him on the shoulder. "It's nothing," he dismisses easily. "After all, Aramis would have been heartbroken if all of his plans against intruders had failed, and I couldn't stand to see that. We're in your debt for keeping him happy, boy."
(There's a softness in his eyes that Alexandre can't identify, but he wants it. He hasn't wanted anything in a very long time.)
Alexandre looks at him with eyes that are stripped clear with exhaustion, and the memories click into place. He smiles back, just slightly. "You helped destroy the monster Absolon summoned."
"You remember." The other man looks just shy of delighted, and grins widely. With a wink, he says, "It's the least Aramis and I could do for a pretty boy like yourself." Tipping an imaginary hat, he offers Alexandre one last, warm glance and saunters out of the room, whistling.
Alexandre finds, once the captain is gone, that he is blushing like he has never done before, even with Madeline, for whom nudity is more fun than clothes, and curses the lord's warm grey eyes as a healer comes in to fuss over him.
It's their first real meeting—but it's not their last. The lord—Lord Thierry Fitzroy, Lady Catherine said he was—finds him wherever he seems to be, seems to know where Alexandre is headed better than he does himself. First, it seems like coincidence, chance encounters, but then it starts happening more and more frequently, and with fewer excuses.
(That old saying, Alexandre thinks, watching the lord emerge from a rabbit's warren of alleys directly in front of him. Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.)
Well, this isn't exactly enemy action, but it's still unnerving, because Thierry is tall and handsome and so self-assured that it should be illegal, and his eyes—
(His eyes could eat a man alive.)
Alexandre hears that people consider Thierry Fitzroy the laziest, most laid-back lord in the Winterlands. This makes him wonder how many of them have ever actually looked him in the eye, seen the deep grey lighten to stormy silver, felt the intensity that's contained in even the most fleeting glance. Thierry might seem to be calm and easygoing, but a tiger seems the same way, right up until the moment it tears out your throat.
But, for all of that, Thierry isn't terrifying. He should be, of course, but something in Alexandre makes the shapeshifter suspect that he was born with his brains just a little bit jostled—the only thing he's ever been afraid of is losing someone. He's never been afraid of a man, and certainly not this man, with his big soldier's hands and his soft smile and his gentle words. Not even of his eyes, though such intensity is enough to drive a sane man mad.
(Alexandre's never really been all that sane, though, and those eyes simply draw him in like no other.)
The way he talks, too—as though he's expecting Alexandre to see something beneath the words he's given, expecting Alexandre to extract some information he can't quite grasp. It's maddening, for Alexandre far more than Thierry, but they both keep trying.
(It's important, Alexandre acknowledges, watching the Lord of the Dawn Gate walk away. So important. And I want to know.)
And then, out of the blue, Alexandre gets it. Between one second and the next, the pieces slide together smoothly, and he understands.
Thierry looks at him the same way Troy looks at Natalie when she's particularly lovely, though without the added edge of puppy adoration. And Alexandre finds himself flattered.
When Thierry next appears, this time at the edge of Lord Adrien's pond, Alexandre looks up at him somewhat helplessly and asks, "Now what?"
(Because he knows what he feels for this tall, strong, sweetly charming man, but he also knows just how different their worlds are, and what place children hold in Thierry's view, and he doesn't want to simply be told that he's too young, or too inexperienced. He is, but then again, he's also not.)
After all, he's still a shapeshifter, for all his humanity, and he still has family and friends in the Eastern Lands who need to be brought out, and there's still Absolon to deal with. This isn't the end, and it can hardly be the middle of anything, but maybe…
(Maybe it can still be a beginning.)
And Thierry looks at him, and smiles that easy, lazy smile, and says, "Don't rush yourself. I'm just expressing interest. Go back, do what you have to do, and be happy. And when you get here the right way, I'll still be waiting for you."
With that, he kisses Alexandre. Lightly, softly. Then he turns and walks away, and Alexandre doesn't know whether to feel disappointed or relieved.
(Because it's not enough, even at the same time as it's too much—it divides his loyalty too much.)
He settles for feeling both, and heads for the apartments the shapeshifters have been given. If he picks a fight with Lucien—or, Heaven forbid, Etienne—everything will be simpler.
Not forever, maybe, but at least for now, and now is all he has ever had.
Of course, it hardly goes like Thierry predicts. Alexandre is dragged into the White War, and eventually right to Absolon's doorstep in the desert.
He's easier to kill than Alexandre thought he would be, even if Alexandre does end up nearly dying in the process, and it's Etienne who delivers the final blow. Even would-be gods, it seems, can't stand against a pissy shapeshifter in tiger form (though Alexandre is hardly going to test that hypothesis—Etienne is gloating enough for the both of them. Not that Alexandre ever gloats, really, but the sentiment is still there).
But, in the end, Alexandre ends up right back in the Winterlands, body mostly intact and temper fraying, to be met with the surprised stares of the rescue team the Sorcerer-General had been just about to dispatch. Etienne, in what Alexandre feels is a fit of well-deserved pique, tosses the defeated Lords' shields at the man's feet, glares at him, and snaps, "Great timing."
(It always is, and while Alexandre is sure they all should have gotten over it by now, he's still annoyed, and will probably always be—especially since this members-of-the-Winterlands'-army thing seems to be permanent now.)
At the edge of the group, Thierry starts laughing, and comes forward to wrap an arm around Alexandre's shoulders and pull him close.
"Not quite the length of time I had in mind when I said we would wait for a while," he says, and in that moment his smile and those pewter-grey eyes are all that exist in Alexandre's world. He winks, and grins, and leans in for their second kiss, murmuring, "But I think it will do."
And then Lord Adrien is laughing and Madeline is shaking her head and the Sorcerer-General is sighing, but Alexandre doesn't see any of them, because Fitzroy's—Thierry's—mouth is on his, and he tastes like brandy and the crisp apples he always eats, and the scruff of beard on Alexandre's face tickles and scrapes but feels good. But, mostly, it's just Thierry, and that makes it the best kiss in the world.
(Even though Alexandre doesn't have a whole lot to compare it to, he's still pretty sure that it ranks right up there with the very best of all time.)
And then Thierry's arms are fully around him, and that's even better, and the rest of the world ceases to exist.