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Tea and Trust

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It was a late night on the moonbase, and the purple sun had sunk behind the horizon hours ago, leaving the Bureau of Balance lit by bobbing lanterns and muted flashes of magical energy as various clerics and wizards made their way home to their apartments. At the edge of the complex, a modest wood-grained suite glowed soothingly from the reinforced windows, blinds half lowered to watch the sunset. A shower ran quietly inside, and a sweet breeze wafted through the room, though no windows were open.

Carey ran her hands over her horns once more, then reached out and softly turned off the shower. She reached through the shower curtain, snagging her towel off the hook and wrapping it around herself as she hummed quietly. Stepping out of the shower, Carey moved her feet carefully, dancing delicately to music only she could hear. Carey padded across the bathroom and opened the door to the bedroom. She absentmindedly threw on an old shirt that Killian had left there as she changed this morning, and settled into the couch, picking up the tea that she had left there to steep before she had gotten into the shower. Carey relaxed back into the worn cushions, cradling the latest paperback that Merle had recommended in one hand and her tea in the other.

Carey had been reading for no more than half an hour when the door clicked open. Killian's broad frame shouldered through the doorway in Carey's peripheral vision. Strong, measured steps covered the small apartment in seconds, and Carey felt a warm hand on her shoulder, looking up to see Killian. She had returned from training as usual, perhaps sparring with NO-3LL3 or Taako, or even taking Magnus up on his offer for a friendly weightlifting competition. Carey put her tea down and reached up to cover Killian's hand with her own.

"Hey, babe. How was practice?" Carey craned her head around to see Killian's expression, and was dismayed to see her impassive.

"It was...okay. I should have been tighter on my blocks, though. Sloppy." Killian shook her head. "Even Magnus called me out on it."

"Hey, it's okay. We all have off days. Do you want some tea? I think the water's still hot," Carey ventured. Killian stood staring for a moment, then looked down at the dragonborn.

"Yeah, I would love some tea. Thank you." Killian lingered for another moment, then squeezed Carey's shoulder once more and moved towards the small kitchen. Carey watched her carefully pour tea into a large mug and smiled as their eyes met across the room. Killian walked back to the couch, mindful not to spill her tea. She sat down next to Carey, causing the couch to creak gently. But Carey didn't miss a thing, not that she had, in fact, spilled her tea as she set it down, not that she didn't explode into their house with the energy that training usually granted her, not even that she winced as her back hit the couch, try as she might to control it. Carey put her book down on the table and put her hand on Killian's thigh, looking to her as she moved.

"Are you okay? What's the matter, babe? You can tell me." Killian sighed as Carey moved her thumb in small circles. Killian said nothing, then turned away from Carey. She placed her hands on the hem of her shirt and pulled it off in one smooth motion. Killian slumped forward, allowing Carey to see the mottled bruise that stretched from her left hip to right shoulder. Green, yellow, and blue speckled her olive back in what looked like extraordinarily painful constellations, and her rippling muscles were even dotted in places with a fine film of blood. Carey gasped and reached out towards Killian, only to pull her hand back, speechless. Killian shivered again as the air hit her bare back and clenched her fist, stubborn to the point of denial.

Carey reached around and took Killian's big hand in hers, clutching it sympathetically. Carey bent forward and kissed the back of Killian's neck softly, a gentle reminder of her presence, then leapt into action. Carey bounced across the floor, gathering bandages and antiseptic, chocolate and a washcloth. In a moment or two, she bounded back to the couch.

"Lay down, it'll be easier. Here, no - here, yeah." Killian dropped her head into her girlfriend's lap and breathed deeply, relaxing into her gentle touch. Carey smelled of rosewood and peaches and leather, and Killian could just barely sense the soap they shared on her scales. She smelled like home. Carey leaned over her and began to clean the wound as best she could. Seconds turned into minutes as Carey worked silently, pausing only when Killian whimpered or tensed. She cleaned away the blood with a cool cloth and spread a thin layer of salve over Killian's entire back. She had always preferred more traditional methods of healing, as Carey had never trusted herself with the precision of muscle- and bone-mending magic. The stakes were too high.

As the night wore on and Killian muffledly reported that yes, her back was feeling better, Carey began to hum the tune that she had been musing over earlier. Quietly at first, then louder as she felt the rumble of Killian's deep voice joining hers, and soon she began to sing clearly, Killian's hand resting on her hip as she lay facedown on the couch. Killian sat up after a time and smiled adoringly at Carey, and graciously accepted the square of chocolate that was proffered.

They sat together for a long time, Carey resting against Killian's strong chest with her arm draped over her, feeling the reverberations of the orc's deep voice in her lungs as they sang quietly together. The songs faded to domestic conversation, which in turn resolved to peaceful silence. They fell asleep to the rise and fall of each other's soft breaths, curled up together on the couch as the yellow-pink light shone low over them. If you had looked through the window, you would have seen them smiling, even in sleep.

An hour later, the doorbell rang, but no one answered. A small clunk sounded outside the door, as something was set down. After a moment, the messenger padded away into the darkened hallway, smiling sadly.

The note on top of the tray read:

Sorry about your back. I hope these brownies make up for it, or at least make you feel better.

Love, Magnus.

It was signed with a small, crudely drawn picture of a duck.