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In the quiet awkward moments

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They set up camp in the ravine. Mulraine started a fire and they ate their rations of dried meat and hard biscuits. It was quiet and miserable. Usually, Quark and Chrisdeburgh’s garrulous natures and propensities for singing provided entertainment during the hours (if you found Chrisdeburgh singing Lady in Red while Quark alternately provided harmony and giggled manically entertaining) when it was too dark to do much besides sit around the campfire. But tonight, Quark was silent--practically vibrating with tension and radiating a cloud of general miserableness. He had been, really, since they left the city of the frost giants. He had seemed happy briefly when he had thrown himself headlong into putting on a show--all manic energy and an almost painfully wide smile as he dashed about playing at least six different parts and constructing set pieces out of the snow. He wasn’t like the barbarians of the Butt’s Expanse Sharpie had grown up around. They had been angry and violent to the exclusion of anything else. Quark, though he was particularly adept at expressing both of those emotions, wasn’t. He was, simply put, committed to everything he did and felt to the point of near insanity. It hardly made a difference if he was performing a musical dance number, murdering monsters and desecrating their corpses, or investing in a friendship and occasional ill advised hook up.

Mulraine cleaned her fingers on the edge of her tunic before she stood and wrapped her arms around her torso. She was looking around the camp, moving her whole head, jerky and bird-like. Her eyes would settle on Quark (who actively ignored her, practically boring holes in the campfire with his glare) before darting around the perimeter of the camp. It was making Sharpie anxious and he wished she would just stop. Finally, she locked eyes with Sharpie and stared at him imploringly. He stared back for a half a second before he had to look away. He didn’t know what she wanted.

She stepped back from the light of the campfire and spun away dramatically--her brilliant, shiny, red hair fanning out behind her. She was out of sight in a moment, presumably off to commune with nature or brush Coco or do whatever it was that half-elves were doing when they stared intently at rocks or trees or grass. She was as confounding to Sharpie as Quark was--they were both so passionate it sometimes felt like they were caught up in a world he couldn’t access. He was profoundly jealous.

Chrisdeburgh sighed audibly and curled up in his bedroll so Sharpie tidied up the remains of their supper and lay down himself. It was silent and dark--a thick cover of clouds blocked the stars and the snow muffled the noises of the critters he had become accustomed to sharing the night with. It was not comforting, but he was half asleep by the time he felt something small and warm press against his back. Even though it only took him an instant to figure out what it was, Sharpie’s heart rate picked up and he had sat up and whirled around instinctively. Quark looked up at him, his expression unreadable in the dark. Sharpie could just barely make out the glint of his wide eyes in the light of the dying campfire.

“What?” Sharpie hissed. He sounded angry in his own ears. Well, he was angry. That was just what happened when he was startled.

Quark stared at him for a long time before he forced the words out. “You died.”

He reached out tentatively to place a small hand on Sharpie’s shoulder. Sharpie could see the thin line of Quark’s mouth for a second before he had pressed himself so tightly against Sharpie he could feel Quark’s heart racing against his chest and the slightly cold press of Quark’s nose against his neck.

“Fuckin’ fuck. You idiot.”

“I’m fine.”

“Fuck.” Quark went quiet, but he was crying. Sharpie could feel it.

He carefully rested a hand at the small of his friend’s back, his other hand cupping the back of his head. It always startled him--how small and fragile Quark seemed when he was still and vulnerable. “Hey, shh.”

Quark hiccupped and curled his fingers to dig into Sharpie’s shoulders. It hurt, but it felt like pain he deserved. That made him angry. Quark had betrayed him--giving the shards to the Yarl. However upset he was, it wasn’t anything more than he deserved. Sharpie pushed Quark away by the shoulders, but decided halfway through the motion that he didn’t actually want Quark to go away so he ended up holding him at arm's length. He looked pathetic--tears clinging to his stupid long eyelashes, lower lip caught between his teeth--and that hurt even more than Quark’s fingers.

Everything was still for an immeasurably long moment. The tension ratcheting up in Sharpie’s chest as Quark stared at him, confused and distressed, was not an accurate way to measure time. He had no idea how long it was until he couldn’t stand it anymore and dragged Quark into a kiss. It was awkward--open mouthed and sloppy--to kiss someone who kept inhaling sharply between half suppressed sobs and Sharpie never wanted to stop. He wanted. He wanted to push Quark against the ground and something--make him come. But he didn’t. It was all fuzzy and unclear and Sharpie couldn’t. Quark, who seemed more interested in trying to burrow his way into Sharpie’s chest than to keep kissing, was supposed to initiate these things. That was how it worked.

Sharpie pressed a kiss to the top of his friend’s head and moved to lie down. He wrapped his arms tightly around Quark, who still felt shaky and fragile. Eventually, Quark’s breathing evened out but Sharpie remained awake--thinking furiously about absolutely nothing. He wouldn’t remember falling asleep.