A/N: Just a little one-shot that kind of goes along with Out Of It All. A bit of history, I suppose. Hopefully it will keep Valerian and the others fresh in your mind in between chapters. Wouldn't want anyone to forget about them.

Humidity

Drave was a miserable city. Why anyone would want to live there was beyond Nonde. He couldn't be happier that they would be marching in the morning; even going to war was better than staying in this festering bog. It was a wonder that he wasn't growing fungus, seeing as how he had been hot and sticky every second of the past two months. There was no way to escape it, either. Indoors or out, day or night, the air was thick with moisture. The only thing to do, the only thing that made it only slightly less fucking torturous, was to follow Valerian up into the trees where the air was maybe a little bit less dense, and where there was occasionally a whispering breeze.

What Nonde would give to be up in a tree right now, even if only to hope for a little bit of wind. But his father was giving a speech, rousing the men to life, promising them that their days of heat exhaustion were soon coming to an end, urging them to feast and drink heartily so that they would be ready to begin the month-long journey to Caval come dawn tomorrow. And Salathel had promised both Nonde and Valerian that Caval was not a muggy armpit like Drave.

Valerian, dramatic as always, had been far more vocal about his hatred for this swamp than Nonde, but Nonde was sure that he was suffering far more than his slight companion. The heat was definitely worse for him.

And on top of that, he didn't have anything to take his mind off of how awful this sweltering shithole of a town was like Valerian did.

Nonde didn't really get jealous anymore (it would have been far too exhausting to be a jealous person as the younger brother of the almighty Linedain). He wasn't jealous that Valerian was with someone else right now. He was just…envious. Envious that Valerian had something fun to make this place a little bit more bearable. It would have been a whole lot easier for Nonde to stifle any irritability that the heat was trying to stir up if he had a carefree summer affair of his own to look forward to.

Unfortunately, the old men of Drave kept stricter tabs on their teenage daughters than they did their sons, leaving Nonde with hardly anything to look at, let alone romance. There were prostitutes, sure, but prostitutes didn't inspire butterflies to make merry in his stomach. Prostitutes didn't do for Nonde what that stable boy did for Valerian.

Winter, the stable boy from Drave. He wasn't really a boy, though. He was at least Valerian's age, if not older. Not the type Nonde would have imagined Valerian would ever fall for. Then again, Nonde had never really seen Valerian fall for anyone, so who was he to imagine how it would happen? With a small smile at his best friend's luck in love, Nonde joined the rest of the army in raising his mug in salute to the glorious speech his father had finally finished delivering. He hadn't a clue what exactly he was toasting, but he didn't care; it was time to eat, and for a little while he had something to think about besides the fact that the sweat on his brow was now condensed into beads that slipped down the side of his face.

Dinner came and went, and Valerian never made an appearance in the banquet hall.

"Where's my son?" Salathel finally asked, as though he only just noticed that Valerian was missing.

"Do you really want to know the answer to that question?" Nonde smirked. If Valerian wasn't there to remind his father that some things were better left unspoken, Nonde would do it for him.

"As long as someone knows where he is, and that he's not dead in a ditch somewhere, that's enough for me," Salathel sighed.

"I'm almost completely certain that he's alive," Nonde assured General Starling, before getting to his feet to find someone his own age, or at least within a decade of his own age, to hang out with.

At least another hour passed without any sign of Valerian. Was he planning on coming back tonight? If they had to delay their departure for the sake of finding Valerian, someone was going to be in huge trouble. What kind of friend would Nonde be if he just let Valerian do stupid things like that? A bad one, and Nonde was not a bad friend. He was the best of the best. So he went looking for his pal.

However, when he reached the secluded little spot where Valerian and Winter were supposed to have met, the place was deserted. Maybe they had gone somewhere a little more comfortable? But Valerian's chambers in the palace turned out to be empty, as well. Seeing as how Winter was a stable hand, Nonde decided that it was worth going down to the stables, just in case. He was not surprised when that turned out to be a dead end, too.

Well, hopefully Valerian would make his way home from whatever adventures he had gotten off to before dawn. Nonde couldn't very well scour the whole town searching for him. There wasn't really anything he could do but wait and see how things turned out. He cast one more lingering glance over his shoulder before heading back inside to rejoin the dying party.

As he strolled across the courtyard with his head back so that he could trace the constellations in the midnight purple sky above, Nonde was struck by an inkling that maybe he should check one more place. It only took a slight deviation in his path to lead him to the base of the large tree in which he and Valerian had sought refuge from many of the recent clammy days.

Though Nonde wasn't sure what he expected to find in the tree, he definitely didn't expect to find Valerian up there. Not alone, anyway. Yet there sat his svelte friend, one of his lengthy legs dangling down from the branch, the other pulled up to his chest.

"So, how did the whirlwind romance end?" Nonde called up to his friend.

"With me falling out of a tree and you catching me," Valerian replied.

There was hardly any time for Nonde to wonder how serious Valerian was before he was put to the test. It wasn't really a fall as much as a jump, and one far less graceful than was characteristic of the usually nimble brunet. Nonde did his best, which turned out to be more like acting as Valerian's cushion than catching him. He ended up flat on his back with Valerian astride him.

"Have you put on a little weight recently?" Nonde winced.

Valerian shifted his position so that his entire body weighed down on Nonde's stomach. "You tell me," he responded.

"Nope, definitely not," Nonde groaned. "You still have a perfect physique."

"That's what I thought. Dick." Valerian stood up. Instead of offering Nonde a hand, he took a drink from the bottle that had been tucked under his arm.

Once Nonde was on his feet, he reached out for the bottle. When Valerian passed it off to him, it was empty. Typical. A puff of laughter escaped him as he tossed it away. "How was it?"

"Delicious. Let's go get another bottle."

"I meant, how was your last night with Winter?" Nonde clarified.

"Well, it started with making out, and from there it escalated into me tearing off his clothes so I could—"

"Okay, okay," Nonde interrupted. "I get the point. Not a lot of discussion happened."

"What the fuck would we discuss?" Valerian asked.

Nonde couldn't help but chortle a bit at Valerian's repulsion at the idea. "Oh, gee, I dunno. Maybe you might have said good-bye? But I understand. Your mouth was otherwise occupied. If only it could stay that way all the time."

"Are you volunteering to keep my mouth busy at all times?"

"Yes," Nonde said. He gestured to the door of the cellar before them, which would lead the way to many bottles of wine to keep Valerian's mouth busy.

With his tongue was occupied conducting wine down his throat, Valerian didn't have much time for talking. Nonde tried to get a few more details—non-explicit details—out of him, but was rebuffed. Of course, it wasn't hard to tell how things had gone; he had found Valerian drunk and alone in a tree. When Valerian was in a tree, it was because he was trying to get away from something, something like the heat, his father, or maybe his first heartbreak.

"This is the worst fucking place I've ever been," Valerian declared as he tossed away his second empty bottle. He dropped himself down to lie in the grass at about the same time that far too much wine took hold of his limbs. "I'm going to burn it down on my way out tomorrow."

Nonde, who wasn't quite as drunk as Valerian, but still feeling pretty good, flopped down next to his companion. "Good luck with that in this fucking humidity." He turned his head to face Valerian's pout with a good-natured smile.

"I don't know how I haven't died from this heat," Valerian went on complaining.

"Try having a beard," Nonde challenged him. "It traps the heat. And it won't stop growing. It's like mold that feeds off the moisture in the air. I trimmed it this morning and it's already back to full power. My face is constantly in danger of melting."

"Don't even think about shaving it off," Valerian warned him. "It's sexy as fuck." He got to his hands and knees to crawl closer, and then made himself comfortable right up against Nonde.

It was nothing new for Nonde. It happened far less frequently than it used to, but even after two years at war, sometimes Valerian still felt lonely, homesick for his mother and his sisters. Not that he ever spoke of it. Nonde just knew. He moved his arm away from his body to create a spot for Valerian's head to rest on his chest. "Even if I tried, it would be back within a day. It's no use. I'm unfortunately stuck being sexy as fuck."

"So very unfortunately," Valerian echoed, his hand reaching up to absently stroke the ruddy hairs along the line of Nonde's jaw. This close, his words were drenched in the sweet perfume of cherry wine.

"You're going to hate yourself for drinking that much in the morning," Nonde chuckled. Although, he hadn't exercised the greatest temperance himself, either. He modified his claim. "We're both going to hate ourselves together."

"I'm not going to fault myself for this. I'll blame you."

That statement was so completely honest that Nonde had to laugh at it. To his surprise—but it was a good surprise—Valerian actually joined in, offering a few hums from behind closed lips. Generally, it took utmost hilarity to coax anything more than a smirk from Valerian, but something had loosened his lips. Just the right amount of sweet wine, darkness, and security.

Just the right amount, or perhaps exactly the wrong amount. Nonde felt Valerian shifting his position, somehow managing to wriggle even closer to him. That didn't bother him, though. It was the sensation of Valerian's lips caressing his neck that sent a shiver down Nonde's spine. He whipped his head around to reprimand the naughty little bird, but as soon as he presented his face to Valerian, his lips were captured.

The shock stole Nonde's breath. It must have been the shock. Or maybe the gently thirsty way that Valerian sucked on his bottom lip also drank the air out of Nonde's lungs, leaving him gasping when his friend released him.

"What…" Somewhere along the way, Nonde's hands had found Valerian's face, and they remained there as he stammered. He wasn't holding Valerian's forehead against his own, but he wasn't pushing the other away, either. "What are you doing? Why did you…"

"It must be the wine," Valerian replied, his lips fluttering over Nonde's as he spoke.

He kissed Nonde again, easily breaching Nonde's lips with his tongue, imbuing his entire mouth with the sweet-but-also-delightfully-tart flavor of cherry wine. Valerian was right; it was delicious. Nonde had tried it from the bottle, but the wine tasted better when it was infused with lust.

Temperance. Nonde had never really paid much respect to the word. It was suddenly so important. He couldn't kiss Valerian. He loved Valerian, but he couldn't love Valerian that way. This was just a confused, heated moment.

"Val…" Nonde murmured, keeping his eyes closed. "Don't do this."

"I just wanted to know what it was like to kiss you," Valerian whispered.

Nonde nodded, his forehead bumping Valerian's softly. His hands were still holding Valerian's face. "Now you know."

"I wish I didn't."

"Me too."

"Fuck you."

"You said it first."

Neither of them had yet let go of the other.

"I meant it differently," Valerian said.

"How do you know I didn't mean it the same way?" Nonde responded. He hadn't managed to completely catch his breath yet.

"Because you stopped me."

"We're drunk."

"I know. You think I'd ever kiss you sober?"

It was Nonde's turn to be offended. Though his version of offended was far less offended than Valerian's. He smiled. "You're an ass."

Valerian rolled his eyes. "Yes, I'm clearly the ass in this situation."

"You are. You did this. You are the villain here," Nonde said with a nod to affirm his statement.

Well, if the shoe fit. One corner of Valerian's lip twitched upward in a momentary smirk before he kissed Nonde again. Their lips melded and their tongues interwove with a perfect, harmonious understanding built upon a foundation ten years in the making. It was surprising, yet so fitting, the ease with which the two came together. And surprisingly difficult to break apart. But they had to come up for air.

"Damn it, Valerian," Nonde groaned.

"I won't ever do it again."

They both knew it was an obvious lie. The promise only lasted five seconds before Valerian initiated another lip-lock, an even deeper kiss that found Valerian straddling Nonde and raining teasing kisses all down his jawline and his throat.

"I'm going to hate myself for this in the morning," Nonde lamented through labored breathing.

"You can blame me for it," Valerian offered.

Blame wasn't in order, though. Blame implied something had gone wrong. But nothing was wrong. The night was going wonderfully.

Nonde never would have imagined that his body would respond to Valerian the way that it did. The friction of his hands heated Nonde's blood, and oversaw the erection offered up for his enjoyment.

"Just when I thought I knew all there was to know about you," Valerian quipped. He'd seen Nonde naked before, but never like this.

"Is the commentary absolutely necessary?" Nonde started to sit up.

Valerian placed his palms on Nonde's chest and leaned forward to push him back down. "I'll make a deal with you. I'll stay quiet as long as you do."

Nonde was about as quick to agree to the deal as he was to break it. Valerian bowed his head down and earned a long expletive from Nonde, drawn out to match the agonizing deliberateness with which he took the erection into his mouth.

He sat up quickly, producing another obscenity from Nonde's lips. "Well, deal's off now. What I was going to say, was that your cock is more glorious than I ever imagined it would be. I mean, I would expect this from your eminent and widely celebrated brother, but here you are, still able to surprise me even after everything we've been through together." Valerian spoke as though he was annoyed by the fact.

Nonde rested his head back in the grass beneath him and let out a small chuckle of disbelief. "You can't be serious right now."

"Have you ever known me to be anything but serious?"

Nothing that ever came out of Valerian's mouth could ever be taken seriously. Believing anything Valerian said would only result in one of two things: going insane, or assuming that Valerian had gone insane. "I've known you to be a lot of things, but this is completely new to me."

Valerian smirked as he got to his feet. "Come on. We're going inside to finish this."

"Inside?" Nonde echoed, sitting up. He pulled up his pants, which didn't really do much to hide his arousal. He couldn't just walk around like this. What if someone saw him?

Once he was standing, Valerian's body remembered how saturated it was with alcohol, and he began to sway slightly.

"Are you even going to be able to make it inside?" Nonde cracked, lifting Valerian's arm over his shoulder to support the unsteady Starling.

"I'm inclined to believe that you'll make sure I do," Valerian replied.

That was a fair enough assumption to make. Nonde ushered Valerian inside through a door that didn't receive much traffic during the day, let alone at this hour of the night, and then through a deserted hallway. It seemed like the party had mostly died down and everyone had found their ways to bed. That was a relief.

"Nonde, is that you?"

Everyone had found their way to bed except for Nonde's father, it would seem. Perfect. The man was heading down the corridor toward them.

"Uh…yeah, Father. It's me," Nonde stopped in his tracks and hoisted Valerian up into his arms bridal style, although far less ceremoniously than a man would carry his bride. It was the only thing he could think to do to hide his giant boner from his father, which Valerian found entertaining enough to scoff out loud at.

"Heading to bed?" Horatus asked, his one eyebrow that wasn't hidden under his eye patch rising curiously.

"Yep. Putting Val to be and then going to my room," Nonde said with a nod and a grin that might have been a bit forced.

"I'm too drunk to walk," Valerian added with a smirk.

"I see as much," Horatus said with a smirk of his own. "Get your rest, otherwise tomorrow will be unpleasant."

"Of course, Father," Nonde dipped his head in a small bow to his father as the man passed them by, heading for whatever destination was in his future. Nonde didn't pay much attention to the idea that his father's chambers were in the opposite direction. He had more important things to worry about.

"Your dad knows. And he's totally into it," Valerian giggled as fit touched back down to the floor. "I'm going to need you to put on an eye patch and talk in your dad's voice while we fuck."

"Sure, but I'm going to call you by your sister's name," Nonde said.

Valerian's eyes narrowed at Nonde as they reached the door. "Too far."

Everything about this night had been too far. Valerian went inside, and Nonde followed. Once the door was closed behind them, both stopped to allow their eyes time to meet and take a moment to decide if they were really going to go through with it. Anything that happened in this room was beyond being chalked up to the heat of the moment. This was their chance to turn back, and if they didn't, there was nothing to pass the blame off on if things went wrong.

Valerian stepped forward into Nonde, closing the distance between them. He didn't lean in for the kiss though. He waited for Nonde to do that. Nonde made his move, his hand finding the back of Valerian's head to guide it forward into a short, chaste kiss, and gave Valerian permission to take the lead, because he sure as shit did not know what he was doing. He complied when Valerian stripped him of his clothes, and allowed himself to be pushed down onto the bed, where Valerian gave his manhood the encouragement it needed to get back up to full mast after their troubles getting to the bedroom.

He didn't finish Nonde off manually or orally, though. When Nonde warned him that he couldn't take anymore, Valerian stepped away to the bedside table. When he came back, his hand was slick with lubricant, which he slathered onto Nonde's erection generously.

"I wouldn't have thought of that," Nonde commented.

"That's why you don't get your own army to command," Valerian answered.

"What do I…?" Nonde started to sit up.

For the second time that night, Valerian pushed him back down. "I have everything under control."

Truer words had never been spoken. Valerian had everything under control. The pace, the angles, the strokes. He worked Nonde perfectly, like he knew exactly what was in his head. But he wouldn't let Nonde do anything for him. When Nonde reached out to offer Valerian a little stimulation, his hands were slapped away.

"Let me do something," he requested, his speech punctuated by the tempo of Valerian's bouncing.

"You don't know how," Valerian said.

Obviously Valerian had forgotten that Nonde had a penis of his own, and had spent many teenage nights practicing the art of manual stimulation. "I think I can handle it," he said, unable to keep from smiling at his own joke, even while panting with pleasure.

Valerian groaned at his dumb pun. Or maybe that was from something else.

"Val!" Nonde suddenly shouted, his hand coming down on Valerian's thigh.

That was the cue, and just as he finished off Nonde, Valerian gave himself the final push as well, ending things with a perfectly timed flourish.

"Fuck," Nonde breathed, as Valerian stretched out on the bed beside him. "That was impressive."

"Everything I've done before this was just practice for when I finally got you in bed," Valerian said.

"I can't believe I finally gave in," Nonde mused with a small smile.

"Please. We both knew you could only resist this for so long."

A few moments of comfortable silence passed, before Nonde took the plunge and shattered the easy atmosphere.

"So…should we talk about this?" he asked.

Valerian looked like he might gag merely attempting any words about the state of their relationship. "My favorite part was when you slapped me. I think you left a handprint on my leg. It was kinky and I'm into that kind of thing."

Nonde puffed out a disappointed sigh. "Well, regardless of what happens in the morning, I just want you to know that I love you. I loved you before it happened, I loved you during, and I still love you now that it's over. I always will."

"Yeah. That," Valerian nodded.

A/N: You are welcome to decide for yourselves whether or not this little slice of history is canonical or not. I could see myself shipping it haha. I didn't mean for them to go all the way when I set out on this adventure, but I guess I got caught up in the heat of the moment. Cough. No details about what happened with Winter, because that's coming later on in Out Of It All. Anyway, let me know what you think. Good stuff happens when you do, trust me. I love you guys!

KittyROAR