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Spark Pile

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Something smelled of machine oil and electricity. Tarvek immediately thought that he had dozed off in his lab again, surrounded by familiar, comforting chaos. It was the closest he got to ‘home.’

There was also a faint tang of blood and sweat, and there was something on top of him, something that was definitely not a blanket. It was warm and heavy and breathing in his face, and he didn’t remember working on any biological experiments lately. . .

Tarvek peeled his eyes open enough to squint in the light. It wasn’t some strange construct laying on him, but Agatha. He forgot to breathe for a moment, until she took a deep breath against him and reminded him how.

She was sleeping on her stomach, laying half on top of him. Her face was pressed into his shoulder hard enough to smash her round glasses into her face, and she had turned herself just enough to breathe comfortably. So help him, Tarvek couldn’t not notice her ample chest pressing against him, or the hard weight on his leg from the socket wrench she was still clutching.

Wrench aside, Tarvek finally realized there was no way Agatha should weigh this much. Tarvek lifted his head and found Gil on Agatha’s other side, laying on his arm. His weight had made Tarvek’s arm go numb. That bastard. . .

Agatha was lying on both of them, one arm thrown over Gil to pull him close. He had an arm wrapped around her back in return, his face buried childishly in her hair while she nuzzled into Tarvek’s shoulder.

Obviously this was not okay. That pervert was trying to cuddle up to Agatha while she was so innocently asleep, worn out from the combined sparky frenzy of all three of them working together. (It finally occurred to Tarvek to notice with some small satisfaction that the laboratory was mostly intact this time, even if they had fallen asleep in an insensible pile. Nothing was even on fire.) He couldn’t stand for Gil’s impertinence. Tarvek worked his arm free, which took a minute when he didn’t want to jostle Agatha and disturb her, and let Gil’s head fall from its undeserved ‘pillow’ to clang on the metal table they had collectively curled up on.

Gil jerked up at the sudden awakening, peering back at Tarvek over Agatha’s head. In a blink his expression went from bleary confusion to irritation and Tarvek glared right back at him.

“Get out of here, you debase scoundrel,” Tarvek hissed, still trying not to disturb Agatha’s peaceful sleep.

“You get out. I’m not waking her up.”

It didn’t take long for them to both realize that neither could move without jostling Agatha, even if one of them could have won the fight of whispered insults over her back. Tarvek found to his annoyance that he had nowhere out of the way to put his arm, and had to wind it over Gil’s head to keep it from becoming a pillow again. He couldn’t even shake out the pins and needles.

“Just keep your hands to yourself. I’m watching you.”

Gil just gave him a look that said the same went double for him, which Tarvek ignored. He only wanted to see Agatha happy and comfortable, of course. He wouldn’t be the one to bother her.

On that subject, Tarvek again noticed how her glasses we being pressed into her face by the way she was snuggling up to him. That couldn’t be comfortable.

Tarvek reached for them, but found he couldn’t slide them off easily with the way she was laying on them.

“What are you doing?” Gil hissed suspiciously at him.

“I’m just trying to get her glasses off. She’s laying on them.”

“You’re useless. Here.”

Before Tarvek could stop him, Gil had somehow worked his hand under Agatha’s cheek to lift her from Tarvek’s shoulder. He managed it with a dexterous gentleness that Tarvek would never have expected from him.

“Be careful,” Tarvek warned, in spite of the obvious care Gil took in cradling her head.

Agatha seemed to go still at the touch, so that Tarvek thought for half a second Gil had woken her by accident. Then again, she still had the socket wrench. He assumed she would brain both of them if they startled her awake. The next moment she was breathing deeply again, peaceful as ever.

Gently sliding her glasses off was an easy task with Gil’s help. Tarvek folded them and put them aside on the workbench beside his own while Gil lowered her head to rest on Tarvek’s shoulder once again.

Tarvek was not romantic in the slightest. Sure, he freely admitted he was in love, but he was also sharp and calculating and even conniving if he needed to be. He knew how to make the world work for him without resorting to foolish gestures. So why did he find himself wanting to kiss the marks Agatha’s glasses had left on her cheeks and above her eyes and across her nose?

To distract himself, Tarvek reached over Agatha and gripped Gil’s hand where it rested on her waist. This prompted Gil to raise his head again with a Look that Tarvek returned full force.

“I’m just keeping you honest.” Gil was definitely keeping those hands to himself while he was here.

“Fine.” Gil gripped his hand back. His fingers were strong and rough and dirty from honest work, and Tarvek had to respect him at least a little bit for that.


There was one thing to make Tarvek’s heart warm, and at the same time cool the whirl of thoughts that buzzed at him like stinging flies. Agatha was smiling in her sleep.