Fandom: Pandora Hearts
characters/pairing: Xerxes Break/Liam Lunettes
Warnings: flangst (fluff+angst, my specialty). Not beta'd.
Written for springkink prompt: Pandora Hearts, Break/Liam: AU, happy ending, healthy Break - Break is still annoying, Liam is still flustered and devoted.
Summary: Liam can't remember a time when he didn't love Xerxes Break with all his heart.
Notes: I have no idea why the Owl City song "Fireflies" became associated with this pairing in my head, but it did, so there you are. I don't know if this is the kind of AU the prompter was expecting, but I hope it will do. It certainly made me happy to write it. :D
You would not believe your eyes...
Liam wakes up suddenly from a bad dream to find himself in an empty bed. He struggles to sit up from under a stifling pile of blankets; Break had stolen all the covers as usual, and then apparently tossed them all on top of him when he got up and left. Heart still racing from the dream he already can't remember, Liam has an odd moment of panic, wondering what's happened to him.
Fortunately for his heart, he sees Break right outside the bedroom, leaning on the parapet of the balcony overlooking the lawn behind the mansion. His silhouette against the moonlight is comfortingly familiar. Liam huffs in frustration and relief, and runs a hand through his short, bed-spiked hair. For just a moment, he considers leaving Break alone out there out of spite. But then he sees that, of course, Break has gone outside in nothing but his nightshirt, and the air stealing in through the half open glass doors is cool enough to make Liam shiver, even sitting here in the warm bed. With a disgruntled shake of his head, he climbs out from under the covers, quickly puts on slippers, robe, and glasses, and grabs Break's robe from where he left it in a pile on the floor, then slips outside.
Lost in thought, Break jumps, startled, when Liam comes up behind him and tucks the robe around his shoulders. He isn't all that gentle about it, still annoyed at having his sleep disturbed, but he regrets it immediately. Break flinches and turns his head to stare at him with a strange, hollow look in his eyes. Belatedly, Liam realizes that Break must have had one of his nightmares again, and that he came out here to try to shake it off.
Liam's bad dreams are just muddled sounds and images, the details always quickly forgotten after he wakes, but Break's often leave him gasping, shaking, clawing at his face and staring blindly up at the ceiling before he finally wakes up. Sometimes it takes Liam hours to calm him down enough to close his eyes again. Break never tells him what they're about, and he isn't sure he wants to know.
He smiles apologetically and pats Break's shoulder, but the distant look still takes a few seconds to fade away. Then it's replaced by an arched eyebrow and a smug little grin that tugs on Liam's heart, even as he braces himself for the teasing that inevitably goes along with that expression.
"Ah, here's my mother hen, come to keep her little chick warm!" Break crows, snuggling back against Liam, and sliding one bare foot up the inside of Liam's bare leg. Of course, his foot is icy cold on Liam's skin, overheated as he was from being under the pile of blankets. He winces, and Break chuckles.
Liam only "humphs" indulgently. Any prank is better than that hunted look that was there a moment ago. He wraps the robe more closely around Break's body, trapping his arms and letting the empty sleeves dangle, and leaves his arms around him like that when he's done. Break sighs, still smiling his mischievous smile, and leans his head back on Liam's shoulder.
Liam is perfectly happy to stay like that for a while, even if the chill night air is already starting to creep up under his robe. He rests his cheek against the side of Break's head, breathing in the scent of his skin and of the pale hair that glows softly in the light from the fading moon.
"Are you alright, Xerxes?" he asks after a moment.
"Of course, mother dear!" Break chides. "I just came out to look at the fireflies some more. See, they're still dancing around the lawn. The children didn't catch all of them after all, hard as they tried before Oscar finally herded them all off to bed, the little brats!"
Liam laughs softly. Sure enough, the little lightning bugs still flash on and off in the dark below the terrace, leaving trails of light as they dart across the lawn and flicker among the tree branches.
You'd think me rude but I would just stand and stare...
Earlier that evening, he and Break had sat out on the patio at the back of the Rainsworth mansion, and watched Miss Sharon and the other children who had come to stay for the summer as they chased the fireflies and each other around the yard. Or at least, he and Lady Shelly and their guest, Oscar Vessalius, had watched them, while Break helped himself to a few extra servings of dessert (including Liam's) and pretended not to pay any attention to them, saying they were just noisy little imps.
But Liam had seen him sneak glances at the children in between stealing crumbs of cake left on anyone else's plate, and they had been indulgent and even, Liam thought, rather paternal glances. Break was surely amused by their antics, at any rate, though he would never admit it. Liam had seen him smile behind his hand when young Oz Vessalius chased timid Gilbert across the lawn with a handful of squirming bugs, and his gaze softened while Miss Sharon and the twins cooed and ah'd at the lightning bugs sparkling like fairy lights in the bushes.
When Oscar finally herded them all inside at bedtime, Break had happily accepted a goodnight kiss from little Miss Sharon (Liam couldn't help thinking of her as "little," still, even though she was 14, already a young lady), but of course she'd always been his favorite. He had even put up with a quick hug from the twins when they grabbed him around the neck from either side, momentarily framing his grumpy face in light and dark while Alice called him "Uncle Clown" and patted him on the head. But Liam saw him, quick as a conjurer, slip a handful of candies from his pocket to her sister, just before she spun away from him in a whirl of white and grabbed Alice's hand, and they ran inside together, laughing.
It had been a perfect summer evening, Liam thinks now, smiling a little sadly as he nuzzles Break's hair. A shame the peace and beauty of it had to be shattered for Break by some old nightmare.
'Cause everything is never as it seems...
He wonders, sometimes, what must lurk in Break's memories to haunt his dreams so horribly. But what could there be? They've known each forever, it seems; both of them have served the Rainsworths as faithful retainers, knights in name only in the peaceful times that have stretched back now for nearly a hundred years, longer than even Lady Sheryl can remember. In spite of all the merciless teasing and careless indulgence - like stealing all the food from his plate, or going outside barefoot in the middle of the night, or calling him a fussy mother hen - Liam can't remember a time when he didn't love Xerxes Break with all his heart.
"Xerxes," he breathes, knowing his voice reveals his feelings. No matter; Break certainly knows them well enough by now, anyway.
Break turns around in his arms to face him and to slip his arms around Liam's waist, smiling that warm, contented smile that only a few have ever been fortunate enough to see. But Liam has an odd feeling suddenly, as if something from his bad dream has turned to face him instead. There is something disturbing in the way Break's hair has fallen over his face, hiding his left eye. Liam quickly reaches up to brush it aside, strangely relieved to see both familiar, red eyes looking into his.
Break looks startled again at his touch, and raises his hand to his face. Liam suddenly seems to remember part of his bad dream after all, although it's just jumbled images of broken, laughing toys and eerie monsters climbing out of a dark, endless void, but worst of all is the horrible image of Xerxes' pale face and hair all caked with blood.
He shudders, closes his eyes to try to shut out the sight, then opens them again quickly when that only makes it worse. He finds Break staring into his face intently with an odd, sad smile on his lips and in those red eyes.
"Ah, Liam," he says softly, and touches his cheek, "you've had some bad dreams too, haven't you?"
Liam doesn't want to talk about it or even admit that he dreams such dreams, as if saying it aloud might somehow make them seem real. They're just dreams, after all, not things that ever happened, nothing that ever could happen - he hopes - and better forgotten. He gives his head a shake, and almost immediately forgets the disturbing images again, distracted by Break's touch and voice and warmth.
It's hard to say that I'd rather stay awake when I'm asleep...
He still remembers to scold his careless lover, though.
"If you didn't eat so many cakes after dinner, perhaps you wouldn't have all those bad dreams you have, you know! And that would mean I wouldn't have to drag myself out of bed in the middle of the night to keep you from catching cold out here in your bare feet - really, Xerxes!"
He huffs, even though his irritation is exaggerated, and his relief is actually much greater when Break grins, grabs his arm and spins him around toward the door - with a strength that is for some reason startling, for a moment, as if Liam could ever remember a time when Break was weak or fragile.
"Back to bed with you, then, Liam!" Break says happily as he pulls him inside and pushes him toward their bed, "so you can warm me up again, hm?"
"Xerxes Break!" Liam snaps, breaking off with an even louder "oof!" when Break shoves him onto the bed sitting up, and then plops down, straddling his lap. Break left the door to the balcony half open again, letting cool night air drift inside along with the dim moonlight and the even softer gleam of the fireflies, but he forestalls any further scolding by nudging Liam's chin up and kissing him. Liam doesn't even bother to pretend he's still annoyed. He just wraps his arms around Break and kisses him back until they're both breathless, and then topples him down onto their bed among the tangled pile of blankets.
Break mixes a giggle with a sigh and snuggles up against him happily, and incidentally pushes both their nightshirts up by sliding his (still rather cold) leg in between Liam's. He dots Liam's face with sloppy little kisses, catches Liam's earlobe between his lips, agile tongue flicking his earring while he sucks on the tender skin, then licks and nibbles down his throat to his collarbone. Liam groans and rocks against him, so distracted that he almost doesn't hear Break when he whispers something against his skin a second later.
"Ah, well, at least she got it all right this time..."
And before Liam can wonder what that cryptic remark is supposed to mean, Break rolls Liam over on top of him and pulls him down for another delicious kiss, while his sneaky hands start pulling off both their nightshirts. Liam shivers, but not from the cold, rather from anticipation and the sweet, familiar heat of Break's body under his own. Break spreads his legs so Liam can fit comfortably in between them while his hands seem to be roaming everywhere, except maybe where Liam would most like them to be. It's all so familiar, mildly frustrating and so very arousing.
He pauses just long enough to take off his glasses and carefully set them on the nightstand. Break pulls his own nightshirt off over his head and tosses it across the room, carelessly as usual, and smirks when Liam raises a disapproving eyebrow. But then Liam runs his hands over the smooth, pale skin of his bare chest, palms brushing hardened nipples, and Break closes his eyes and shivers with delight. He tosses his head back on the pillow; his shoulder-length hair feathers out behind his head, gleaming silvery-white in the moonlight.
He is simply beautiful, Liam thinks. He leans down for another long, leisurely kiss, letting the arousal build up slowly between them. Obviously they won't be getting back to sleep for a while, now, but he doesn't care. There's no need to hurry, really.
Break's kiss tastes like sweet cream and vanilla sugar and ripe, summer strawberries, and that, Liam's certain, has never changed and never will.
Because my dreams are bursting at the seams...