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(K)Inktober 2019

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Ring | Horns

The small sound his wedding ring made on the marble countertop echoed through the empty kitchen as he tapped his fingers restlessly and without rhythm. Along with the clink of his coffee cup as he twisted it back and forth with his other hand, the soft glub glub of the bubbling percolator, and the almost sighs every time he exhaled; it all came together like some kind of odd melody.

He glanced out unto the main common area, the skies beyond the floor to ceiling windows were dark grey and roiling, thunder booming in the distance. The weather had been shit for days, dark and oppressive over the city until both the mayor of New York City as well as the governor of the state had reached out to the tower to ask the resident god of thunder to give them all a fucking break pretty please and thank you.

But Thor wasn’t in any mood to be considerate, not when the source of his distress continued to sit on a chair in the common room for days on end staring blankly out of the window.

The coffee machine beeped and broke his concentration, pulling his eyes away from the slim figure silhouetted against the endless cloudy skies. He filled his cup then, after some quiet deliberation, took another from the shelf and filled that as well. He wasn’t sure if to add milk or sugar so he left it as black as his own.

He padded towards the sitting area on socked feet, dragging them against the carpet childishly. Most of the old manor had been hard wood floors and proper house shoes and quick, harsh scoldings for running too fast or laughing too loud.

Now, with his Wonder Woman socks and thick pile carpeting, he could indulge in a bit of nonsensical behavior. Thankfully, his rings quickly dissipated the negative charge harmlessly before they could build up and give him a static shock.

He placed the second cup on the small table near the arm of the chair without a word, just making sure that it was in clear view and within reach. There was no reaction. Well, he didn’t expect much of one. The sky rumbled as he approached the windows, his breath skipping a bit as the clouds seemed to press down upon the city like the lid of casket slowly closing.

He swallowed heavily against his nerves and turned around to lean against the tempered glass. There, that was a bit better. The common room looked bleached grey but there were little pops of colour, little signs of life that made the bands around his chest loosen. He took a sip of coffee and let his eyes drift over to the slumped figure in the chair, cup of coffee still untouched and steaming.

The lithe figure was almost swimming in the huge hooded sweatshirt, small glimpses of jewel blue skin covered in darker blue runes. Midnight black, almost blue hair hung limply from the pulled up hood and covered the sharp angled cheekbones and shin, also a rich gemstone blue.

Ringed grey horns curled delicately from beneath the hood, studded with delicate gold filigree jewelry that could not have possibly been made by human hands.

He quietly contemplated the few conversations that he’d had with the Thunder God in the past, about the Dwarves of Nidavellir and the artisans of Asgard, his eyes tracing the complex path of the exquisite gold.

Dark lashes flutter and eyes red as the rarest rubies flickered up to look at him though long, thick hair. They flashed red for half a second before they dulled and fell away. He let out his breath slowly through his lips, his shoulders losing some of their tension.

He drank the rest of his coffee in silence, offering quiet company because that’s all that he could do. He couldn’t fix this in his workshop. This wasn’t like some kind of broken machine he could run a diagnostic on. There wasn’t some part to switch out, some upgrade to apply.

This was gooey, messy, emotional people stuff that he didn’t know what to do about. Couldn’t throw money at and hope it went away or got better.

With a nod and a tip of his empty cup, he wandered back toward the kitchen and rinsed his cup, turning over to dry on the rack. Before stepping unto the elevator, he gave one last long glance towards the lonely figure, framed by the tall windows, silent and still against the querulous clouds.

He felt cold.

He sighed, then frowned, a bit angry at himself for all the sighing he’d been doing lately. His fingertips found his rings and twisted them around and around his finger absently.

The elevator sped up to the penthouse, barely making a sound to distract him from his own turbulent thoughts. He wandered his way to the bedroom, pushing open the door and leaning against the frame.

Steve was sitting against the bedhead, snug in a ratty t-shirt and rumpled boxers. His hair was an utterly adorable mess and he had a thick, most likely non-fiction, biography opened in his lap. His eyes were a summer sky blue when he looked up and his gentle mile felt like the warmth in his chest after a cup of Clint’s really good hot chocolate.

Without a word Steve, lifted the edge of the blanket, the welcome unspoken and deeply appreciated. The book was set aside and arms tucked him close to that barrel chest. The steady thump of a heartbeat against his cheek, chasing away his errant thoughts and settling him the way nothing else could.

Steve gave off heat like a furness and he rubbed his cheek against that broad chest, inhaling deeply in that comforting smell of soap and shield oil and musk. His hand lay on Steve’s peck and his fingers started to twist the rings again, turning them over as the arc blue diamond disappeared and reappeared against the silver of the vibranium bands.

He knew without looking, every curve of the words engraved on the inside of the plain band. Words of promise meant to last as long as the rings did. Steve’s hand came up to grasp his own, stilling his fingers, his other hand warm on the small of his back.

He let out a deep breath, happier that it didn’t sound as much as a sigh as before. His mind calmed, his body going boneless as tender fingers combed through his dark hair.

Legs intertwined, socked feet tucked up against bare ones, breaths mingling and evening out. Blanket snug around them and the cold of bad weather kept out by tempered glass and JARVIS’ watchful eye.

Thunder rumbled in the distance and he imagined that it sounded a little further away this time.

Chapter Text

Comets | Mindless
-------------------------

X2857 H2 was first discovered while it was only three days away from the planet, coming out of a section of space previously thought to be empty as fuck. It took the great minds of the world another day to determine that the sneaky burning space rock was making a beeline straight toward the third rock from the sun.

After reasonably freaking the fuck out, the world leaders demanded to know why they hadn’t been able to give more goddamn warning before the end of the world.

Scientists fired back equally as hotly that decades of severe budget cuts had crippled them from looking at more than 20% of space and, if people didn’t know, space was actually ginormous as shit, fuck you very much. Like really fucking humongous.

It took another day for the news to leak out to the public and that’s when things really went to shit. Martial law was initiated worldwide as people panicked and ran around like headless chickens. News and Media talked about nothing else and the National Guard were out in force to stomp out any one trying to take undue advantage. Money started pouring into beleaguered space and missile programs, trying to find some way to swat the comet away from the planet like some unwanted fly.

They called it Messenger and pundits and pastors screamed that it was doom laid upon mankind by a vengeful god. The rich retreated to their tricked out bunkers if they had them and partied like it was 1999 if they didn’t. People punched their v-card in droves and gave the finger to their bosses/ exes/ families etc. Cults made suicide pacts and churches and temples had marathon prayer sessions.

On the third day, just when all seemed truly lost, there came a cry of hope. The comet wasn’t going to slam right into the planet, as previously determined, to send the human kind the same way as the dinosaur. No, the fucker was going to skip across the atmosphere like a stone across a pond and get flung away into space to continue along its merry way.

Huh.

So, the earth wasn’t coming to an end after all.

Yeah.

What the shit.

********

Stiles drained the last of his third beer and burped loudly, the sound echoing into the quiet of the night around him. His feet shifted, sneakers squeaking on the hood of his jeep as he tossed the empty unto the grass to join the others strewn around. He’d pick them up later, probably, whatever.

The night was warm and the air heavy and sweet. The thick material of his Beacon Hills High hoodie was pooled around his waist. The glass of the jeep was warm against his back through the thin jersey and his jeans were old raged ones that gone soft from years of washing.

He plucked another beer from the cooler beside him and twisted it open, looking up at the vast beauty of the night sky. He’d discovered this spot on the preserve some months ago, during a flight for his life from one of the latest oogly booglies that had turned up seeking the power of the nemeton. Between researching like crazy, trying to wrangle both Scott and Derek, knocking his head against the stone wall that was Deaton, and trying to keep his dad safely ignorant; he’d barely had time to appreciate the stunning view of the preserve from the sharp cliff lookout.

It had taken a week of sleeping like the dead and crying in the shower before he’d traced a path back to the spot. From there he could see almost the whole valley and a large swath of uninterrupted starry sky. It was peaceful, it was beautiful and most importantly, it was quiet. No werewolf drama, no teen drama, no family drama, no fucking drama at all.

He’d had different plans for tonight, with the world coming to an end and all. One final movie night full of food, family and a hilariously tasteless marathon of movies like Deep Impact, Night of the Comet and Armageddon. There would be Melissa’s overstuffed empanadas, pizza and greasy burgers for his dad, extra bacon; and one of those huge, body sized bag of Cheetos for Scotty because his bestie loved the stuff with a werewolf passion.

Unfortunately, his Dad had to go into the Sheriff’s office to keep the peace in the wake of the latest announcement, Melissa had been called into the hospital because it was all hands on deck at the ER. And Scotty…. Scotty would rather spend the night having ‘thank god we’re not going to die’ sex with his lady love.

And… It’s not like he wouldn’t see Stiles tomorrow right?

Stiles could understand that Allison needed him, right?

Sure. Right.

It’s not like Stiles hadn’t been slowly going out of his mind for the past few days. Like he hadn’t been see sawing between manic, caffeine fueled google marathons and depressive panic attacks. Like he hadn’t had a serious come to Jesus moment and been struck in the face that all the struggles he’d faced had basically been for nothing. That what future he’d imagined for himself were all worthless in the face of imminent destruction. The realization that they were all going to live after all had left him adrift, his mind stalled and floating on a vast sea of numb and uncertain darkness.

Like the way he knew in his heart that if he opened his mouth to speak, he would start screaming and wouldn’t stop. There were no smart ass quips, no snippy sarcastic come backs. No one to circumvent the mindless terror that still reverberated through his very soul.

He threw the empty bottle unto the grass, hearing it clink against another. The forest was quiet around him and he could hear the blood rushing in his hears. The show would be starting soon. The very comet that had threatened to destroy them all would be passing overhead in a few minutes and he had one of the best seats in the house.

A twig snapped somewhere behind him and he tensed for a second, only to relax completely when a soft greeting was carried on the wind. Derek stood to the side of the jeep, hands in the pockets of his ever present leather jacket and eyes glowing red in the darkness. The mouth was turned down into an adorable frown and Stiles chuckled at the sight, patting the empty patch of hood next to him.

“Get your ass up here sour wolf,” he ordered with a smirk, “Geez, the entire planet getting a Hail Mary pass isn’t enough to make you crack a smile?”

The car rocked as the other man settled next to him, his shoulder warm and firm against Stiles as he leaned back unto the glass next to him. Derek shook his head at the offer of a beer and stared up at the sky in quiet companionship.

Stiles pulled at the zipper of his hoodie. “Thought you would be with the rest of the pack?”

“They all decided to spend the night with their families.” came the grumbling reply.

“Even Lahey?”

“He’s at Scott’s.”

“Oh.”

Stiles made a face at that, confused by the sharp lancing pain in his chest. He felt his eyes begin to sting and quickly blinked them away. His next breath was a bit ragged and watery but he kept breathing steadily until it passed. There was nothing he could think of to say.

They both had reasons for being alone. Both had people that they would have loved spend time with tonight. Eventually, a light appears to the west, looking something like the sun rising in reverse at the forest brightened around them. Stiles fumbled in the pocket of his hoodie and pulled out two of those paper eclipse glasses, absently handing one to his companion as he slipped his pair on.

“Just put them on if you don’t want to be a blind wolf.” He grouched, feeling Derek’s glare on the side of his face. He smirked openly when the werewolf growled and put them on, knocking the man’s shoulder with his own and keeping it there, settling against the alpha comfortably.

As the comet streaked across the sky, lighting it up as bright as day, its tail a spectacular show of blues, purples, whites, and fiery yellows and oranges. Stiles could only stare, transfixed as the heavenly body slowly made its way across the sky. Holy fuck, his mind was officially blown.

The nucleus of ice and rock was dark amidst the devastatingly beautiful deadly cloud of gas that surrounded it. The Coma, as it was called, flashed and flared as it brushed against the upper atmosphere, sending terrifyingly heart stopping reactions skittering across the sky. The tail was a thing in itself, slithering behind like a living thing, colours twisting and merging continuously.

His mouth was open, he was sure. He was also sure that he couldn’t care less if he looked like a complete derp. This was an event the likes of which he would never see again in his lifetime. Maybe even in humanities lifetime. He barely registered when Derek’s arm slipped around him, tugging him close against that firm, warm body.

They stayed that way as the comet dipped in the east, taking its light and leaving darkness to creep over the sky once more. He felt oddly bereft, as if he’d seen the face of God and then gone blind immediately after. His breath was loud in his ears, his heart hammering in his chest. It was only when Derek’s arms tightened around him that he realized that he was shivering.

Without thinking twice about it, he turned further into Derek’s embrace and tucked his face into the werewolf’s neck; a soft whine escaping his throat. Arms tightened around him, holding him steady as he shook, his mind still reeling by what he’d just witnessed. When he finally pushed away, the arms loosened but still held him, Derek’s skin warm and comforting through the thin material of his t-shirt.

A thumb came up to gently wipe away the tear tracks on his face and he let his eyes fall closed. Derek’s kaleidoscope eyes were full of raw emotion when they met his and in that moment something changed between them. Something soft and warm and integral had blossomed anew.

Stiles smiled, brittle and painfully honest, and his gut did a little flip when the werewolf responded with a fragile little smile of his own. With a sigh, Stiles tucked his face into the other man’s neck once more, settling in more comfortably; humming contentedly when Derek’s arms came up to hold him close.

He didn’t know what would become of this, if anything would.

But he had the rest of his life to find out.

Chapter Text

Bed sharing / Clothes Sharing

Steve liked clothes well enough. He knew what fashion was and what power it could hold and wield. The cut of a man’s trousers, the fit of his jacket across the shoulders. How those subtle little things influenced those around him, their perception of his status, his intelligence, his power.

He’d seen the way Tony donned his sharp and expensive, custom tailored suits, strutting as confidently as he would in his gold titanium alloy armor. How Bucky wore the latest trends, his closet filled with weird, one of a kind pieces that were more avant garde than pret-e-porter; bold and fearless in his desire to distance himself from the bleak, black horror that were his years under HYDRA.

He’d seen Natasha become an entirely different person with a change of clothes, a touch of make-up and pinned up hair. Pepper wielded her fashion like a weapon, finely honed and deadly with her solid, uncompromising colurs and unrepentant femininity.

Bruce used the absence of fashion like a shield, his entire wardrobe was interchangeable and completely disposable. The Hulk made having any sense of fashion moot anyway.

Clint was pretty pragmatic about clothes. Function over form with clothes that looked like shit but were comfortable as shit. Thor on the other hand, thought human fashion was hilarious and treated it all like a huge joke with his fluffy pink robes and casual nudity.

Steve though, was a man of simple tastes. Quality over quantity was his motto when it came to building his wardrobe. He liked to choose well-made pieces, more expensive than others but made to last.

He took care of them, he treasured them. He paid attention to the little tags with washing instructions and had long conversations with the JARVIS as well as the Tower’s laundry service staff.

He arranged them in his closet just so, shrugging when Tony teased him about being a bit anal about it. It wasn’t just his time in the military that drove his need for neatness and order, he’d always been like that; even as a child.

He knew every piece of his wardrobe well so when things went missing, he noticed. He frowned at his closet, eyes snagging on the gap in his coats where his Moroshka sweater jacket by VINGIL usually hung.

It was a jewel blue 100% wool Chunky knit cardigan that pepper had bought him for his birthday that he didn’t want to google the price of because there was pricey and then there was Pepper and Tony’s version of pricey.

He frowned as he checked around his quarters. Frowned as he checked the common room, the kitchen and the Gym. Frowned as he failed to see hide nor hair of the wonderfully soft and comfortable jacket.

He frowned as he called down to the laundry service. Frowned as he made himself a cup of tea and made another mental list of places to check.

Frowned as Natasha smirked at him from across the kitchen table and murmured a vague comment about checking the workshop, before slipping out of the kitchen with an arm full of snacks.

JARVIS let him into the workshop without a word and he glanced around the area before his eyes snagged on a sliver of familiar blue. He tilted his head, stepping closer, curious.
He’d found his jacket.

Tony looked almost swallowed by the thing, his smaller lithe frame tucked up into the knitted wool with only the top of his curly head and the tips of his socked feet peeping out.

Steve blinked at the sight, oddly charmed at the sight. The genius looked vulnerable and adorable and it sent a pang of longing deep in Steve’s chest.

His musing was broken when Tony snorted softly and curled upon on his side, fast asleep on the weird ergonomic chair he was sitting in. The chair rolled a bit as the man tried to get comfortable and Steve dove forward to brace it before it tipped over.

This brought him up close and personal with the sleeping genius, the sight of his sleep softened face, thick eyelashes dark against his dusky skin sending Steve’s heart into overdrive, along with other places in his anatomy.

Thankfully, Tony didn’t wake up and after a few seconds of deliberation, Steve made a decision. Carefully, he threaded his arms under the sleeping man and lifted him gently, freezing as the smaller man snuffled into his neck and gave a soft contented sigh.

Steve found himself flushing red, his cheeks and neck heating as he gently carried Tony across the lab and set him down unto the plush couch. Tony made a small, sweet little sleepy sound and Steve cursed silently in his head. He was a fucking goner.

He wanted to tuck himself right along Tony’s back and stay there forever, if that’s what it took to wake up to that sound every morning. He wanted to see Tony in bed, sleep soft and wearing one of his shirts, the sleeves falling past his fingertips and collar falling off his shoulder.

He wanted to see the man puttering around the lab in one of his old army jerseys or bare chested with Steve’s dog tags around his neck, bright against his darker skin.

Just then, Tony curled to his side, tugging the sweater jacket closer and rubbing his cheek against the soft chunky knit; utterly decimating the last of Steve’s defenses in the process.

The blond straightened up and gave a deep sigh, realizing how well and truly fucked he was. With one last, lingering glance at the sleeping engineer, he nodded his head and strode from the workshop with a determined step; plans already forming in his head.

He had a billionaire genius philanthropist to woo.

Chapter Text

Riddick woke to darkness, his head ringing and feeling as if it were floating on a string above him.

FoloxitinB most likely. He hadn’t been able to build up an immunity to it as yet considering how hard it was to procure and how expensive it was to source, it had seemed more of a hassle than anything to do so. He regretted it now. Determined bounty hunters usually had a dart or two in their arsenal when going after the big jobs. And Richard B. Riddick was one of the biggest.

He checked his restraints, hoping to find a weak point; something he could wiggle out of; but no dice. Cassiran flex steel fibres threaded with strom ore, secured to each other and to the walls. Shit. These hunters were serious. His goggles were gone but he could just make out the stark lines of a ship’s brig capsule. Huh. It had been a long fucking time since someone had gotten the jump on him.

Fucking bounty hunters.

The door clanked and swung open suddenly, making him flinch and squeeze his eyes shut with a grunt.

“Looks like It’s your lucky day Richard B Riddick. Class F Bounty. Wanted Dead or Alive. Thirty million credits. Ten million credit bonus if brought in dead.” The husky voice whistled then chuckled. “A very lucky day.”

Riddick blinked, his eyes adjusting to the light and he looked up to see a rugged man looking down at him with a last smirk. He gave the man a slow once over, his mind racing furiously. The man’s face was known to him, his reputation even better known. He looked around to see if the man’s partner was around but there was no sign of her.

The Grimm Twins were the boogie men of Bounty Hunters. Smart, ruthless and relentless, the bounty hunting brother and sister duo were a force to be reckoned with and only took their pick of jobs. They were expensive as fuck but that was because they were just that good.

The male before him was known to most as ‘Reaper’. Choppy brown hair, handsome face with a hard body; he was dressed in custom gear and armed to the teeth. His sister and partner, a blond known as the ‘Doc’, was the brains to her brother’s brawn. It wasn’t confirmed whether or not she was a real doctor healer but there were stories he’d heard that made even him wary of her.

If these were the ones who had him, then he was in hotter water than he’d previously thought. Still, he’d made his way out of tighter spots that this before. He gave a sly grin of his own, tilting his head.

“Yeah?” he drawled, “Exactly how lucky are we talking here?”

The man grinned in return, leaning in close but not close enough for Riddick to lunge forward and rip out the man’s neck with his teeth. This one was smart.

“Lucky that the trap that you sprung wasn’t meant for you. Lucky that we’re hot enough on our mark’s trail that we don’t have time or resources to bring you along for the ride. Really lucky that we don’t have anywhere to secure your corpse to collect the bonus on it later.”

The man winked and leaned back as his partner made her way into the room beyond the small cell’s door, setting a crate down in the corner and coming up to stand next to her brother. She looked at Riddick with a frown.

“Why haven’t you done the catch and release with this one yet? We need to get a move on if we want to make it to the jump point in time. Drop him off on the nearest rock and let’s go.”

“We still have some time yet.” Reaper responded, baring his teeth in a wide grin. “Not every day we get to meet The Riddick face to face.”

She gave him a flat look, glancing at the prisoner before turning back to her brother. They seemed to have some kind of silent conversation before she scoffed and rolled her eyes.

“Anything happens, it’s on you.”

They both looked after her as she strode from the room before turning back to each other. Riddick grinned, shrugging so that his shackles clanked.

“You heard the lady. You gonna release this catch or what?”

Reaper’s lips twitched at the corner as he leaned against the doorway.

“Not just yet I reckon. As I said, it’s not every day that a fella gets to meet THE Riddick… in the flesh.”

His gaze travelled lazily down Riddick’s built form, his eyes glinting with appreciation. The gaze felt like a caress and Riddick shifted, letting his legs fall as wide as the restraints would let them. He let his ‘come fuck me smile’ spread over his face and watched in satisfaction as Reaper’s lips went slack, a flush crawling up his neck.

“I’ve often wondered what it would be like to come after you. Your reputation precedes you.” The hunter bit his lip, shifting his hips. “But then again so does mine.”

He shrugged a shoulder, folding his arms across his broad chest.

“People like us. We don’t often get a chance to cross paths. Not without violence that is. We’ve got war in our blood and always will. We were born fighting and will probably meet our end that way too.”

Riddick sat back against his shackles and quirked an incredulous eyebrow. “That’s true enough. Not much left to us but death and fury. What are you thinking to do about it? You wanna talk? Have some kind of deep conversation? Trade philosophies or some shit like that?”

Reaper snorted, shaking his head as he shrugged out of his shoulder holster. “Nah. I’m thinking more about connecting at a more instinctual level.”

He hung his weapons just out of reach, his guns and a few knives joining them. He was by no means unarmed but there was nothing on him that Riddick could reach easily without dislocating something. Riddick stilled as the man slowly straddled his lap, shifting his weight as he ran his hands over Riddick’s shoulder and chest.

“You gonna free me first?”

“For you to shiv my reckless ass in the back. Fuck no.” The other man barked a sharp, hoarse laugh. “I will, however, stop if you tell me to. I’m not a rapist, no matter what kind of bad rap most hunters have. I just think that men like us don’t often get a chance to have things easy without looking over their shoulder for the next bullet… the next knife.”

His hand reached down to cup Riddick’s crotch, giving it a gentle squeeze

“When was the last time you got to indulge in something hot… and sweet?”

Riddick could feel his cock getting hard, that slow heat curling in his belly.

“It’s has been a while.” He admitted. “Though I can’t see how these chains would qualify as easy.”

“I may be horny, but I’m not fucking dumb.” Reaper gave him a flat look. “I can drop you off on the nearest planet right now, you just say the word, but I’m not letting you free on this ship for a fucking second. And I really don’t want to have to kill you. Today at least.”

Riddick chewed on that for a long second, taking in the sight and feel of a willing lover in his lap. Someone not afraid of him or in awe of him. Someone who wanted to scratch that deep itch that people who lived their kinds of lives didn’t get to do very often. And if it came to it, someone he could face and fight and scratch another itch.

He grunted and they met in the middle with a kiss that began as a fight for dominance but slowly turned softer, sweeter; with a hunger that surged up his throat and came out as a deep moan. He bucked his hips as Reaper’s hand worked him through his thick leather pants, the man’s thighs flexing as his hips bucked.

“Fuck yeah.” Riddick growled, “Just like that.”

“Just wait.“Reaper grinned wickedly. “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

…………………………………………………

Riddick adjusted his goggles against the dust kicked up by the drop ship’s lift off. There was a small settlement a few miles away where he could catch a ride off this back water planet. At least they left him a canteen of water and a knife. Downright generous of them. Hunters who kept their word... who knew.

He licked his lips, the taste of other man still lingering on his tongue. Still felt the touch of calloused hands on his skin. as a matter of fact, he felt rode hard and put up wet. And fuck if he hadn’t enjoyed every minute of it. He shook out his leg, all that time spent in those shackles had left him with strained muscles and lingering cramps.

No matter, he’d walk it off soon enough.

He glanced up at the night sky once more. If he squinted He could just make out the light trail of the ship as it made the jump into hyperspace. Or maybe it was just his imagination. He gave an irreverent salute to the fading trail, smirking as he turned towards the lights of the settlement in the distance.

If he booked it he would make it in time for a late supper. Maybe a little mulled wine for after. Maybe a little something more.

After the day he’d had, he could do with something sweet … and hot.

Lord knows he’d worked up an appetite.

Chapter Text

Derek was already on the rough wooden porch, mug in hand, when Stiles slowly rolled his heavy bike up the loose gravel drive. There were differences he noted first, the grown in man beard to go with the lumberjack chic, worn denim and plaid. The lack of leather and that permanent frown.

As he dismounted the bike and carefully took off his helmet, he saw the new laugh lines around the eyes, the soft flyaway hair; the relaxed slump of those broad shoulders.

“Well don’t you look like a real LumberJack Timberwolf.” He curled his lip, hooking the helmet unto the bike. He slung his saddle bags over his shoulder and unzipped his leather riding jacket.

Derek smiled. It was soft. Stiles liked how it looked on him. Derek looked good, comfortable. So different from the haunted, wounded and broken down boy who’d left Beacon Hills, shaking and bloody in the back seat of his sister’s speeding car.

The werewolf moved around the cabin comfortably, leaving Stiles to come in and close the door behind himself . Stiles watched him putter around the kitchen, tugging off his gloves and stuffing them into his jacket pocket.

The silence was comfortable between them as he hung up his leathers and pulled off his heavy boots, leaving him in his socked feet. It was strange, like it hadn’t been more than five years since they’d last been face to face. Like they both each hadn’t been changed so profoundly since then.

There was a mug of steaming coffee for him at the kitchen counter and he hummed appreciatively at the taste.

“Huh… You remembered how I liked it?”

Derek chuckled softly, refilling his own mug. “Hot as lava, black as your soul and enough sugar to give you diabetes. Yeah… I remember.”

“Ha ha funny ha, joke wolf.” Stiles snorted and hopped up unto the wooden bar stool, hooking his feet on the bars. “Still, thanks.”

They manage to make small talk as they finished their coffees, catching up on years gone by. It’s only when they are settled down on the comfortable couch, the fireplace crackling happily; that Derek broached the subject they’d both been dancing around.

“It’s permanent. We’ve tried everything. I’m okay with it.”

Stiles stared down at his hands, flexing his palm and wincing as the thick scar tissue pulled. He absently massaged his palm with his other hand, biting back the million questions he wanted to ask.

He wanted to know exactly what they tried, what procedures, what rituals, what research had been done. He wanted to dig into the problem with his dull nails and tearing it apart. He felt utterly useless, incandescently furious and totally heartbroken.

Derek deserved better. Shit. They all had deserved better.

Stiles worked his jaw back and forth in the familiar exercise, feeling as the scars along his cheek and neck pulled dully. The nerves along that swatch of skin had withered years ago so he no longer felt the pain that crept like fire under his skin.

Derek was facing him, his eyes floating just over Stiles’ shoulder. His kaleidoscope eyes were dilated, his pupils blown wide and milky white. Stiles felt a sharp pang of heartbreak once more, knowing that those beautiful eyes would never meet his again. Never give him those looks that were a mix between irritation and fond exasperation.

“I should have been there. Maybe I could have helped.”

Derek barked a harsh laugh, his eyes narrowing as he threw a flat glare in Stiles' general direction.

“When could you have done that? When you were in the ICU fighting for your life? When you were trying to organize your dad’s funeral from your hospital bed? When you were in physiotherapy trying to get back movement in half your body? When you were in and out of the hospital for skin graft surgery?”

Stiles stomach flopped and his eyes stung. Derek sighed tiredly and reached over, grasping around before snagging Stiles’ scarred hand.

“The point is, we were both in a really fucked up place. We couldn’t even take care of ourselves much less see about other people. Thank God for Cora and Melissa or we’d both probably be dead by now.”

“Damn…” Stiles whispered hoarsely, threading his fingers with the other man’s for much needed comfort. “Blunt much, Mean wolf.”

“Hey…” Derek tugged at his hand sharply, “We’re too fucking old for that shit. We’ve seen too fucking much… well, figuratively speaking off course.”

He shrugged and motioned absently at his eyes with a rueful grin. Stiles gaped stupidly at his tactless humor for a few seconds before he broke out into peals of loud laughter, leaning against the other man as he cackled unrepentantly.

Derek soon joined him in laughter and it echoed through the quiet and cozy little house for a long while. They settled against each other on the couch, Derek’s arm slung over Stiles’ shoulder as they caught their breath.

Stiles sighed contentedly before twisting his to look up at Derek’s profile. “Can you see anything at all? How does it work?”

Derek pursed his lips. “Sight’s gone completely, even when I try to activate my wolf sight.” His irises turned a vibrant blue, the rings thin around the pearlescent pupils. “But it was gradual so my other senses grew stronger to compensate.”

Stiles quirked his head. “So what… you got echolocation like some kind of bat?”

“No.” Derek rolled his eyes. The move looked weird. “My hearing and smell just got sharpened. My sense of touch went a bit wonky for a while. I can feel when things are near me. It took some getting used to, for sure.”

Stiles sat up in interest. “So… like some kind of extra sensory perception?”

Even when blind, Derek could still give him that look. “I don’t have ESP, Stiles.”

“Yeah I guess…” Stiles nodded sagely. “It would be more like Acute Sensory Perception since you’re still within the five senses. Man, I wonder….”

Derek frowned and shook his head. “I can almost see that look on your face.” He jabbed a finger at where Stiles’ face was. “Yes. That look. That research boner look. You know the one. Stop it now.”

“Rude.” Stiles pouted, flopping sideways unto the back of the couch. He hooked one arm over the back and pulled one leg up. “I will have you know that it’s my research boner as you call it that allows me to be my own boss these days. People pay a pretty penny for information these days.”

“Yeah, I’m into books myself. I use a dictation software and have a great editor.”

Stiles gaped for a moment. “Yeah. Cora never said anything about that. What have you done? Have I read your stuff?”

“I don’t think you have.” Derek flushed pink and sunk deeper into the cushions. “It’s more geared towards a younger target audience.”

“A younger target… wait. You write YA fiction?” he bounced in his seat. “Oh my god… which one is it? No wait .... let me guess.”

Derek sunk even lower in his seat as Stiles mind raced, his face flushing deeper as the smaller man inhaled sharply. Stiles voice was low and careful when he finally spoke.

“Please tell me that the ‘Dawn of the Wolf Trilogy’ is your brain child and that the three main protagonists are inspired by you me and Lydia. I fucking love that shit, dude!”

Derek mock grimaced. “Celia’s a mix of Lydia and Cora, actually.”

“Yeah, that’s why she’s so fucking badass.” Stiles chuckled. “I totally ship Max and Dalton though but man, that slow burn is killing me. Get them together already. Max needs to catch a fucking clue seriously. He’s totally oblivious to Dalton’s angsty pining.”

Derek pushed out his lower lip. “Uhhh…. Stiles.”

“I mean like who wouldn’t notice a totally hot guy turning into a complete derp whenever they’re together. Dalton practically has heart eyes whenever he sees Max. I’m sure everyone else in the pack has noticed it.”

“Stiles…” Derek’s eyebrows furrowed. “Stiles!”

“Huh?”

“He wasn’t the only oblivious one.”

Stiles leaned forward against his leg. “What do you mean?”

The werewolf gave a put upon sigh. “I’m saying that the character has a lot more in common with you than you realized.”

It took a few moments for the light bulb to go off over Stiles’ head and he blinked in surprise. “Really? Huh. Wow.”

“Yeah” Derek shrugged. “Really.”

Stiles picked at the hem of his jeans. “You still have a lot in common with Dalton then?”

Derek stilled then turned his head towards where Stiles was sitting. “In all that matters, yes.”

Stiles smiled and felt a blush crawl up his cheeks, he reached out and snagged Derek’s hand and brought it up to his smiling face.

He could feel the man startle as the rough feel of his scars, the warm fingertips gently feeling along Stiles cheek bones up to the ridge of his forehead, where his eye brow was split.

Stiles leaned his face into the touch, letting the other man gently explore the road map of pain the last five years had been. Derek’s touch was reverent as he felt along Stiles’ lips and the old ragged scar that cut through them.

“Oh Stiles” Derek sounded heart broken. Stiles just shook his head.

“Hey, don’t be sad. Think of it this way. You’re blind as a bat and I have a face made for radio. We’re practically a match made in heaven.”

“Oh my God.” Derek groaned loudly, rolling his eyes so hard that he almost saw his own brain.

Stiles fell off the couch laughing.

Chapter Text

October 6th - Panties

Trust the zombie apocalypse to occur when Xander was clear across the United States of America. As far from Sunnydale as he could have possibly been without crossing the Atlantic. In fact, he hadn’t even expected anything like this.

Ever since he’d learned of the things that went bump in the night, he’d expected the demon apocalypse, the vampire apocalypse or even the magic gone wrong apocalypse. He’d braced himself for the end whenever the next big bad rolled into town and wanted to turn the world inside out, making his piece with the world before wading into battle once more.

The last thing he’d ever expected was fucking zombies. Talk about the wrong kind of un-dead. He never thought that he’d prefer the company of vampires. Or that they would be so awesome at zombie killing.

In fact most of the demonic underworld found the shambling corpses a right tasty snack. “Aged like fine wine”, one skorlack demon had joked one night, its jagged teeth glistening with blood and ichor under the harsh streetlight; “always on tap and with free delivery too.”

Xander had faux chuckled along with the gallows humour, already edging away behind Spike as the noise of wet crunching and smacking turned his stomach.

Spike had just rolled his eyes and grabbed Xander by the collar, frog marching him away from the feasting beastie and shoving him into the car the vamp and stolen and hot-wired.

Despite his usual level of annoyance with the bleach blond vampire, Xander had considered himself lucky that Spike had been along for the trip when things had gone pear shaped. The demon had sniffed out the situation early and had the secured resources that kept them safe and defended while most of the rest of humanity ran around in blind panic.

He’d even given Xander enough time to make a last call to Sunnydale where Willow and Giles were already battening down the magical hatches while Buffy prowled the chaotic streets. It had been a huge relief to know that his people were safe back home. Well, as safe as they could be on a hell mouth anyway.

Then, it was time for the epic road trip: Spike and Xander edition. Sadly, they couldn’t secure a plane and driving was surprisingly hard with so many wrecked and derelict cars blocking the road ways.

Not to mention the hordes of savage undead around every frikkin’ corner.
They’d stopped for the night at a local strip mall, sneaking into one of the only stores with the metal security door rolled down and still intact. They’d learned pretty quickly not to make any noise if they could help it.

Noises attracted zombies and other walking horrors that now felt brave enough to walk openly; snacking on whatever they could get their hands, tentacles or ravenous glow clouds around.

The store in question was a Victoria’s Secret and they’d cleared out the small store quickly, dispatching the poor undead manager and dumping her body two streets over. Other than that, the store was relatively clean, had an ensuite bathroom with working toilet and didn’t smell like wet garbage so Xander considered it a win.

They secured the doors from the inside and Spike disappeared through the roof access to go scrimmage for supplies before the sun rose, leaving Xander to set up their sleeping arrangements for the day. The metal rolling doors allowed him the use of a small lamp and he made quick work of setting up a small camp site in the small manager’s office.

With his work done and Spike gone for the next couple of hours, he wandered out unto the main store and browsed along the aisles. He wasn’t a stranger to women’s lingerie stores. He’d been best friends with some BAMF women and they had no qualms dragging him along for company when they went shopping.

He’d been purse holder, clothing rack and impartial judge to some truly varied and scandalous fashion shows and had fought down many a raging boner for his trouble. He’d come away learning much more about women’s undergarments than he ever would have learned on the internet though.

As he ran his fingers over the soft and silky garments, savouring the smooth glide against his skin. He missed soft things. The last few weeks had been rough durable clothes and sleeping on various uncomfortable surfaces, strapped with various weapons and accoutrement that were too important not to have on his person. This was the first time in a while that they’d spent the day in a place safe enough to let their guards down a bit.

Xander studied the panties in his hand, absently rubbing the material between his fingertips as he deliberated. The decision was an easy one and soon he was stripping off in the small changing room, his gun slung within easy reach because one could never be too careful in a zombie apocalypse.

He sacrificed a couple wet wipes to the cause, cleaning off most of the sweat and dirt of the road and soon enough he was slipping on the red panties with a sigh. The thin satin felt awesome against his bare skin, smooth as it slide along the line of his legs, the curve of his ass.

He twisted in the full length mirror, running an appraising hand over his ass cheeks, a fine tremor running through him at the feeling. He bit his lip, adjusting the tuck of his chubb in the lacy front. Fuck it felt so good.

He went up onto his toes, watching how his thighs and calves flexed and his butt tightened. He’d forego the matching fluffy house slippers as he was a menace in heels and that would be just begging for a sprained ankle. No thank you.

He was just contemplating putting on the floor length red stain night gown when a low voice came from beyond the change room door.

“Well, don’t you look like a right nummy treat?”

Xander looked around to see Spike leaning against the door frame and ran his fingers though his brown curls.

“Thought I’d scratch this off my bucket list while I still could. Didn’t want to die without finding out what the big secret Victoria’s been keeping from us all.”

He turned back towards the mirror and cocked his hip seductively.
“I have to say, though, I do feel beautiful and desirable so maybe Vicky has the right idea.”

Spike chuckled, plucking the unlit cigarette out of his mouth and tucked it back into the pocket of his leather duster. He carefully stepped up behind the brunette and pressed up against his back, pale hands caressing up his bare hips to rest at his waist.

“Well, you do look like a pretty princess to me.”

Xander mock growled weakly tried to buck the vamp off him and only succeeded his rubbing his ass into the other man’s crotch. The hands at his waist held him still. Spike’s breath was hot against his neck as he pressed his obvious erection into the cleft of Xander’s ass cheeks.

“Be still now luv, you’re looking to make someone like me lose control. You’ll not like what happens after that.”

Xander felt a flush at the words, his hips bucking helplessly; the press of Spike’s leather clad hard-on as it snagged on the flimsy satin making heat coil in his belly.

“Yeah?” he challenged in a thready voice. “And what exactly might happen when someone like you loses control?”

“The poet in me would kiss you breathless, making sure you never want or need to leave my arms.” Spike’s teeth scrapped against the soft skin of his neck and Xander shuddered with shocked pleasure. “The demon in me would thow you down right here and claim you, pushing that little slip of cloth to one side and fucking that sweet ass deep until you screamed my name. You’d be mine and mine alone and I’d never fucking let you go.”

Xander was painfully hard, pre-cum soaking the front of the panties as his cock head peeked out from the thin elastic waist band. He relaxed into spike’s embrace, tilting his head to one side as a silent surrender.

“What about both? Can I have both? The poet and the demon.”

The blond licked a hot stripe up the brunet’s neck, sucking on his pulse point as it raced under the pink flushed skin.

“You think you can handle both? It’ll be you and me ‘till the end. Maybe even beyond that. I won’t let you go I said.”

Xander nodded, turning his head to share a hot and filthy kiss with the man holding him close. “To the end and beyond? Yeah… I like the sound of that.”

Spike went into game face and grinned wildly as he reached down to cup Xander though the soaked satin panties, biting down into the flesh of his neck as Xander came from the pleasure of it.

The brunet arched, body shuddering as the vamp held him close; legs going weak as Spike drank deeply. The bite marks stung as the vamp finally pulled away but that was soon soothed as the blond licked at them gently.

When Xander could finally speak again he gave a weak laugh.

“So, I was told there would be fucking my sweet ass so deep that I screamed your name? I’d like to get to that very much soon please and thank you.”

Spike barked a laugh and gave Xander’s spent cock a teasing squeeze before snagging Xander’s gun holster and tugging the brunet towards the small office where their camp beds had been set up.

“Don’t worry pet. I’ll do right by you. Don’t you fret.”

Xander could only nod eagerly, snatching up the matching nightgown as they went. Oh yeah, scratch another one off the bucket list.

Chapter Text

October 7th - Auction

 

The bar at the fancy smancy hotel was a monster of a thing made from polished dark wood and shiny brass fittings. Bottles on bottles of obscenely expensive liquor gleamed in perfect lighting on the mirrored shelves in exquisitely organized rows.

Competent and good looking bar tenders flitted confidently from customer to customer, pouring and mixing a myriad of drinks for the very rich, very demanding crowd. It was all so surreal and so fucking terrifying at the same time.

People like Steve didn’t fit in a place like this. Hell, he wouldn’t have been able to get a job as one of the smartly dressed and smiling bar staff. He certainly didn’t belong in this shiny, rich, honey-coloured world.

He pulled uncomfortably at his tight and itchy collar, feeling himself sweating through the thin white undershirt already. Thank god the suit was black and wouldn’t show any sweat stains and he’d have to scrape the money together to get the suit professionally cleaned before returning it.
It was Thor’s good concert suit and Loki would kill them both in their sleep if he found out that his brother had lent it to Steve for the night. But desperate times called for desperate measures and Steve was definitely fucking desperate.

He drained the last of his liquid courage and thumped the heavy crystal glass down unto the bar. That would be his only drink for tonight. He needed to be clear headed if he was going to achieve his nearly impossible goal. The rest of the night would be club soda and bitters if he didn’t want to accidentally throw up on someone important from nerves.

“You look a little nervous. Let me buy you a drink gorgeous.” A warm, deep voice said from his right elbow. A hand wearing an expensive looking red and gold watch slapped a thick money clip down unto the bar. “Bar keep, another one of whatever my friend just had, thanks.”

Steve was still staring at the tanned hand, pricey watch and black cuffs of his tailored suit when the bartender responded. “One glass of Clemment’s Old Charter coming right up sir.”

The surprisingly calloused fingers tapped on the bar top in a cherry little pattern. The deep velvet voice chuckled. “The man has good tastes. And cocky too… starting off with the thousand dollar a shot whiskey before the circus even begins….”

Steve didn’t even hear the rest of what the voice was saying because his brain had stuttered to a stop. His heart as well. He swayed on the spot. “One thou…. Thousand dollars?”

He turned wide eyes to the startled looking bartender. The young woman got an uncertain look in her eye but nodded. “Yes sir. You said you wanted to the ‘good stuff’.”

Steve wheezed out a breath, he could feel his face growing cold. One thousand dollars. Oh my god. He couldn’t afford….. Oh my god. He was fucked. They were all fucked. His collar felt like a vice, the suit felt plastered to his body. Darkness crept along the edges of his vision. He tugged at his tie helplessly and gasped.

“I need air.”

Steady hands caught his elbow and the next thing he knew he was out on the hotel balcony, leaning against the railing as he struggled to breathe. He heard a couple buttons pop on the shirt as it ripped the collar over and mourned his next meager salary check. Loki was going to kill them both dead for sure.

He felt a deep keening sort of disappointment. He’d let everybody down. He’d let Bucky down. He’d failed the mission they’d all worked so hard for. Sacrificed so much for.

“Oh god…” he hung his head, his chin touching his chest as his eyes stung. “I fucked it all up. Haven’t even started and I fucked it up. Way to go Rogers. Ya big dummy.”

“Oh I don’t know.” Came the velvet warm voice from his side once again, startling him as he'd forgotten the man was still there. “As someone who fucks things up a lot, I can tell you that there’s always a way of coming back. All can’t really be lost can it?”

Steve spun to face the owner of the voice and stared, stunned. The man was beautiful, dark haired, bright eyes and utterly beautiful. He was also looking at Steve with genuine concern, something Steve hadn’t encountered in a stranger in a long fucking time.

A deep sadness washed over him and he had to swallow down bile. He wouldn’t want to throw up the booze he’d have to shell out a thousand dollars of their ‘miracle money’ for now would he. Especially on the kind beautiful man who looked so at home among the rich, hoi-pilloi.

God, how was he going to do succeed now? Their funds were already so low. They’d all scraped and scrounged and tightened their belts for this one chance and he’d frittered away a part of it so foolishly.

He finally answered the other man’s question, his voice thready and wet. “Maybe there are some battles you just don’t walk away from. Lord knows I’ve walked away from many that I shouldn’t have.”

He looked down at the thin black tie crumpled in his fist.

“Maybe my luck’s run out finally. Maybe there are no more miracles left. Though I think that bleeding out in the hot afghani desert might be preferable. At least there I’d be the only one paying for my fuck up.”

There was a sharp intake of breath from the beautiful stranger. A warm and solid hand cupped his elbow. “What’s on that mind of yours soldier? It’s not just the drink is it?”

“Nah, that’s just the rotten cherry on top the already shit Sunday.” Steve gave a mirthless laugh. “The worst part of this whole mess is that I’ve lost my one slim chance to bid for a night with Justin hammer.”

The hand on his elbow jerked but stayed where it was, though the touch was a little more tentative. “Uh… Hammer? Really?” the voice sounded a little choked. “I can’t really see it. You and Justin hammer?”

Steve flushed at the barely disguised disgust in the man’s voice, shaking his head roughly. He felt an overwhelming need to explain himself to this stranger. To not let him walk away with the wrong idea.

“It’s not what you think.” He pleaded, staring into those warm and wary brown eyes. “HammerTech has been running a testing program for their bionic prosthesis and I need to get someone unto the program.”

He looked away, staring unseeing out into the night. “It’s Bucky you see, he’s my best friend. My brother. He lost his arm out there. A few seconds later and he’d have lost so much more. I’d have brought him home in a body bag.”

Steve swiped at his eyes with the tie, sniffing as he tried not to break down completely. “There was a bomb. He saved me. Dragged my ass out of there when I wouldn’t leave my men. the army booted us back stateside with a pat on the back and a box full of medals. It took us a while to pull each other back from that hellish nightmare. A long fucking time to get our shit together.”

He let his head fall back as he closed his eyes.

“No one gives a fuck about vets these days. His HMO won’t cover a prosthetic. The VA gave this shitty plastic thing which hurts his arm all the fucking time. And he doesn’t even complain. He just grins and bears it because he’s the strong one you know? Even when he can’t keep down a job and we both have to live on his benefits and my shitty part time. Even when we had to go hungry for days in order to raise the money for this chance. He’s always been the strong one. Ever since we was kids….”

He blinked rapidly, suddenly remembering where he was and who he was with. He glanced at the wide eyed brunet and flushed hotly.

“Aw shit, I’m sorry. Here I am pouring out all my troubles on a beautiful stranger when all you did was offer me a drink.” He ran his hand through his hair, messing up the careful hairstyle Natasha had combed for him. “You must think I’m the worst kind of loser. It’s ok, i don't mind. I’ve been called worse.”

The beautiful stranger kept silent and Steve couldn’t help but give a deep sigh. “Maybe you’re right. Maybe there’s still a chance I can come back from this. I could still win a date with Justin Hammer at the auction tonight. I have to stick it out to the end. i owe Bucky that much at least.”

The brunet shook his head sharply, folding his arms across his chest with a frown. “No you don’t. In fact, Forget Hammer and his shitty tech. Bucky is never going to get one of those arms.”

Steve gaped, stupefied. “What…. I don’t understand.”

The brunet smiled wide and squeezed his elbow. “He won’t need it because I’m going to build him a much better one.”

“Why would you do that? How would you even do that?” Steve found himself gaping even harder. “Why would you help us?”

A sculpted eye brow quirked as kissable lips curled at the corners. “It’s the least I can do for someone who thinks I’m beautiful.”

Steve blushed pink at the teasing words. “Be serious though. How can you give Bucky an arm?”

The stranger blinked at him in confusion before his face morphed into disbelief. “You don’t recognize me do you?, gorgeous.”

Steve made a helpless gesture. “I’m sorry. Should I?”

The smile was back but it was brighter this time. “Let me introduce myself then, Anthony Stark. CEO and Head of R&D at Stark industries and soon to be Stark Prosthetics. You can call me Tony.”

Steve frowned in confusion. “Wait, I thought you were older… and bald”

Stark’s sharp peel of laughter echoed across the empty balcony. “Oh man, that’s Obie, my God father. He finally retired last month and handed over the reins of the company to me."

“And you’re going into the prosthetic business just like that?” Steve couldn’t seem to parse what was going on.

Tony leaned against the railing and looked out unto the city lights. “I’ve spent most of my life making weapons and gear to support our troops in the field. Things designed to wage war. Maybe it’s time I help our brave soldiers after they get home as well.”

He gestured with his hands, eyes growing bright as he continued to speak. “Of course I’m going to have to test this stuff out so I’m going to need Bucky’s help and any other vets you know to come help me out. It won’t be free of course.”

And just like that Steve’s balloon wilted. Tony must have seen the devastated look on his face because he reached forward and grabbed his arms.

“Hey no, not like that. They’ll be consultants and get paid a generous stipend for their efforts. They’d be making a huge contribution to the project after all.

Steve’s grin was a bit watery as he tried to find some anchor in this whirlwind of emotions. He felt dizzy with hope and joy.

“I can’t believe that this is happening. Thank you so much. You’ve saved two lives tonight. Heaven knows how many more tomorrow.” He blurted happily, bringing his hands up to cup Tony’s elbows. “God, if you’d let me I could kiss you right now.”

“I usually spring for dinner first, gorgeous” Tony’s cheeks went pink as he curled him lips into a soft smile, shrugging his shoulders. “… but hey, I’m not stopping you.”

Steve grinned, the taste of thousand dollar a glass scotch on his tongue, the soft feel of a suit that probably cost more than his yearly salary under his fingertips, the smell of exclusive men’s cologne in his nose.

But none of that mattered as he leaned in and captured sweet, soft lips with his. As he slid his hands around a trim waist. As warm hands slip up his shoulders and into his hair. As they both moaned at the fire that kindled in their bellies.

Looks like there may have been one last miracle after all.

Chapter Text

The frail treaty between the Vulpēs Vulpini and the Canis Lycaon of Beacon Hills had held for the last two years, balanced delicately on the reputation and respect of Sheriff Janek Stillinski. The Reynard of the Vulpini was his own son and the sheriff stood as the only authority Stiles showed any kind of deference too. On the other hand, Talia Hale, the Alpha of the Lycaon and Deputy Mayor of Beacon Hills, was someone who Stiles didn't respect in the slightest.

"Sanctimonious bitch." he growled as he ran the preserve, feet swift and silent amongst the yellow red carpet of fallen leaves. "Sending along a fucking summons like a king on her throne. Too fucking high and mighty to just call me herself."

"Like you even answer any of her calls El Rey." Heather, his second in command and beta fox scoffed as she kept pace with him through the woods. "Remember that time you rerouted all calls from her number to the local dog pound? I swear her catty bitch of a daughter Laura wanted to scratch your pretty brown eyes out for a month after."

Stiles chuckled at the memory, baring his teeth in the mockery of a smile. It's not like he hated the woman. Wait, hold up. He actually did hate the woman. It was her actions or lack thereof that had led directly to his life circumstances and if it wasn't for his father's sake and the sake of his small but viciously loyal pack, he'd sink his teeth into her soft belly and rip out her hot and steaming insides.

Luckily for her, he had a sheriff shaped conscience who repeated the mantra "Murder is too much godamned paperwork, kid" whenever the blood lust surged strong and heady, filling his throat with that cloyingly iron taste and making his black claws lengthen and curl.

On his other side, his delta fox and left hand, Danny Mehealani huffed a laugh as he kept pace along the wooded path. "Or the time you spread the rumor that the Hale kids were infected with lice and they all had to stay home from school for the two weeks needed to apply the treatment. I swear Cora Hale was going to wear your guts for garters because she had to miss out on the soccer final against Beacon Falls. I thought she was going to wolf out right there in the hallway."

Stiles' sharp laugh came out like a yip, his eyes crinkling at the corners at the memory of the Hale pups coming returning to school, their tails between their legs at all the looks and whispers. Cora had been almost feral at the sight of him leaning against his locker, a wide and wicked grin on his face.

Thankfully, another of the wolf pups, Erica, had been smart enough to yank her away into the ladies' room and away from Stiles' path. At least one or two of the wolves seemed to have a good head on their shoulders. he'd often thought that Reyes would make a good fox but she'd been offered the bite first from Talia at Cora's behest.

He banished such thoughts and they came to the large clearing, their eyes taking in the contingent of Hales gathered at the far side. Stiles pulled up his ski mask to the bridge of his nose, the sharp white of the snarling fox fangs glinting in the fading light of the setting sun. beside him both Heather and Danny were doing the same, their gold eyes peering out over snarling maws just as his was glowing red.

"Whadya want Alpha Hale?" he stood feet apart, shoulders relaxed, hands shoved into the deep pockets of his hoodie. "This better be important. I'm missing out on the Doctor Who season finale and I love me some David Tennant."

"You rude little shit…." Laura Hale stepped forward with a snarl, hey eyes glowing gold with a tint of red. The rest of the little groups seemed satisfied with keeping back. he counted a frowning Talia, her conniving shit of a brother Peter, the broodmiester that was her son Derek, the surly Cora and a couple other rando wolves. Then, his eye caught on a tall lanky form trying to hide behind the others and his lip curled derisively.

Looked like Scotty boy was just as big of a coward as ever. Stiles had long ago stopped feeling the betrayal of having his best friend turn away from him. The deep cut of Scott rejecting him as a monster then skipping joyfully to the very wolves who'd been responsible for it all for the bite. Now all Stiles felt was a numbing indifference where the crooked jawed boy was concerned. That turned out to be a good thing because people whom Stiles felt negatively toward usually ended up suffering… a lot.

Case in point, Talia Hale who was currently trying to both keep her daughter from the ends of Stiles' claws and trying to get him to listen to what she was trying to say. Stiles gave a mock yawn, exchanging humorous looks with this own crew who were trying not to snigger as his utter lack of respect.

"Geez lady, get to the point already. Not all of us like watching someone standing around in the woods having a meeting that could have been handled by email. Nor do I appreciate people trying to blow smoke up my ass. Just tell me why you called me here."

Talia took a deep breath, as if silently praying for patience. Stiles liked to see that expression on her usually smarmy face.

"Deaton needs access to the Nemeton…."

Stiles made a sound like buzzer, cutting her off. "EEEEEh. Not happening. Pull the other one."

She sputtered, "You haven't even heard the reason…"

"Doesn't matter." he cut her off again, his voice flat and unforgiving. "Your pet druid isn't stepping a foot into our territory or did you forget what happened the last time you neglected your pack's sworn duty to the land."

He gestured to himself and his two fox kin. "I got jacked and made into a meat puppet by an ancient evil fox spirit and almost sent the world to hell in a hand basket. After that we all agreed that the Nemeton and you Canis Lycaons are no touchy for the good of everyone involved."

He tilted his head insolently. "Or are you forgetting the treaty you signed in blood, Alpha Hale?"

Talia looked like she'd just eaten something both slimy and bitter and his lips twitched behind his mask. She took a few seconds to slow her breathing, he could actually hear her teeth grinding from across the clearing.

"You're so damned selfish." Laura scoffed loudly, pushing herself into the lime light once again. "People could die and you want to play stupid power games. You should be ashamed of yourself."

Stiles quirked an eyebrow. "Are you kidding? Don't you know that power games are the best games? Just ask your precious Alpha. She'll tell you. She and Deaton are like two peas in a fucking pod when it comes to laying out some spectacular mind fucks. Don't bring your pity to this party, bitch. No one here gives a flying fuck."

Talia slaps a hand down on her red faced daughter's shoulder and slowly yanked her back to stand among the other wolves. Laura gave her mother and alpha a betrayed look but stayed silent and glowering, Peter's clawed hand taking the place of the alpha's and keeping the woman in place. The rest of the wolves tittered in the back but Stiles paid them no mind. Heather would be keeping a sharp eye on them.

"Reynard Stiles…" Talia began once more. "Surely if you heard the circumstances of the situation…."

"Don't need too. Answer's still no. your little tree fucker's not setting a foot across our borders. Period. End of discussion."

"Not even if it means saving innocent lives?" she tried for sympathy and motherly compassion. She failed.

"Uh..no." he gave her a half lidded look, already fed up with the circular conversation. "If you were really concerned about these so called 'innocent lives' you keep harping about, you would have either told me flat out what the actual problem was so that my pack could decide whether take care of it ourselves or you would have found another way entirely. Your motives are as transparent as glass Alpha Hale."

He quirked a peirced eyebrow. "Tell your druid to get off his lazy, sketchy ass and solve his own problems."

"Stiles…" a soft voice came from the back of the wolves, Scott stumbling his way forward as if he'd been given a hard shove. "What if your dad was one of the lives in danger? How would you feel if something were to happen to him?"

The wind dropped suddenly as Heather and Danny stilled beside him. Stiles gave Scott a lazy look, his voice low and promising death as he spoke. "Is my dad one of those in danger Scotty? Or is that some kind of ham handed threat your alpha put you up to?"

"You motherfuckers." He laughed, the sound of it chilling as it echoed through the silent clearing. "I must admit that I'm no longer surprised by the shit you keep trying to pull over on me. " He gave his former best friend a simple nod. "I'll see to making sure my dad stays safe and sound, don't you worry scottywolf. We Vulpinis look after our own."

As Scott shrunk back and glanced timidly as his alpha, Stiles turned his cold gaze back to her. "Are you done wasting our time now, Talia?" He drew out her name, the open mocking in his voice making her wolves bristle with anger. Not that he gave a fuck what they felt towards him anyway.

Talia Hale curled her lip, her polite façade falling away as she bared her teeth at him, her fangs dropping as she growled. Stiles took his hands out of his pockets, letting them hang relaxed at his side as his nails thickened and grew black. She wanted to things up a notch? She wanna be starting something? Well, he was ready for her. He wouldn't start a fight with the wolves but he sure as fuck would put an end to it.

He bounced on the balls of his feet, smiling under his mask as his seconds, growled and braced for battle. He flashed his red eyes at hers, running his tongue over his fangs in anticipation for the feel of flesh tearing , the taste of hot and sticky blood across his tongue and down his throat.

"You looking for trouble Talia?" he taunted her. "You ready to take on a child of the Nogitsune once more? How long did it take for your wounds to heal the last time, huh? Two whole months, right? Maybe this time I can make them permanent. How does that sound? I certainly look forward to the challenge of carving my initials into your forehead."

That cooled her anger well enough and she carefully backed down. Mores the pity. He was looking forward to cutting into her beautiful face. She glared back at him, trying to save face among her pack because she'd lost any influence on his long ago.

"I see that we will not come to an accord with this. I withdraw my petition. The treaty still stands."

Laura tried to argue but Peter yanked her into the shadows with a sharp growl. There was some shuffling from the tree line but eventually their footsteps were heard getting further and further away. Soon after the rest of the wolves slipped into the trees, their heartbeats growing fainter and fainter until only Talia remained.

She gave him one last searching look, shoulders lowering when she found no quarter nor mercy within the whiskey coloured eyes. She stepped back, never turning away from him, until she too was gone; her steps making almost no noise along the forest bed.

Stiles let out a huge sigh, yanking the ski mask from his face and letting his head fall back to breathe in the night air. After taking a a couple of sweet lungfuls, he turned his head towards a smirking Heather. "What's the deal with the ooglie boogie that got all our flea bags up in a tizzy? That all wrapped up as yet?"

"Yup." She nodded, her curls bouncing cheerfully. "The spell you set up worked. It came right to the Nemeton like catnip. Brought a couple of friends like you guessed it would. Got them all in one neat swoop."

Danny chuckled darkly. "Chris Argent is driving the bodies down to San Diego as we speak. He sends his thanks by the way. Both the hide and the horns are extremely rare and he can get a pretty penny for them from the right buyer."

"Good. As long as we get our usual cut" Stiles thinned his lips, looking into the forest where the wolves had disappeared. He shook his head once again in disgust. "Self righteous fuckers."

He gave a full body shake, shedding his bad mood off like water, and turned towards his fox kin with a vulpine smile. "Let's go home guys. If we hurry we can still catch Doctor Sexy and eat our pizza before it gets too cold."

Chapter Text

"I'm still not seeing anything on the map." Rodney whined as he walked, head down as he studied the small ancient device in his hands.

John absently wondered how the man was able to walk blindly through the wooded path without tripping over some random root when he could trip over his own feet walking through Atlantis.

The genius wiped at his forehead with his shirt sleeve and frowned at the big alien leading them down the path. "Come on Ronon…. We've been walking for over an hour now. When are we going to get to this awesome, must see, paradise anyway?"

Ronon didn't even look back, just shrugging his large shoulders, his hand on his sweet pulse gun. Rodney grumbled some more and John was glad that he was bringing up the rear so that Rodney wouldn't see him grinning.

Thankfully, Teyla managed to distract both men before things got too 'rumble in the jungle', keeping them both occupied until they emerged from the thick tree line unto a breathtaking sight.

Ronon grinned as he watched Rodney's hand go slack around the ancient device in his hand, his mouth gaping open as he stared at the calm blue waters of the alien ocean. Pristine white sand stretched along the coast line for miles in either direction, separating the lush green of the dense forest from the crystal clear waters.

"Told you it would be worth the walk." He brushed his shoulder against the other man's, leaning in low to speak against the shell of his ear. Rodney nodded slowly, his eyes wandering up to the twin suns that hung high in the sky.

Ronon chuckled and placed a hand on Rodney's shoulder, pushing him along gently to where John and Teyla were already taking off their shoes and hanging their weapons on a nearby fallen tree trunk.

Making sure that the genius was situated in the middle of them all, he began to strip as well, leaving himself bare but for the long knife strapped to his thigh. He heard Rodney sputter behind him.

"We're skinny dipping? No one told me about the skinny sipping."

"You got a problem with nudity, Mckay?" John paused from where he had been unzipping his fly, his dog tags bright against his hairy chest. "Cuz I know we've all seen each other naked a bunch of times on missions."

"Of course not." Rodney made a face, "I work with the three hottest people on Atlantis, I have absolutely no problem with nudity." He jabbed a sharp finger at the suns. "I have a problem with melanoma though. Do you know how easy it is to get skin cancer? If someone had warned me I would have brought along extra sunscreen for everybody."

Teyla shared a confused look with Ronon then turned back to her friend and team mate. "Skin…. Cancer?"

"Didn’t Carson brief either of you on this?" Rodney gave her a disbelieving look. At both Teyla's and Ronon's confused expressions, he turned and gave a helpless look at their team leader. "John."

Shephard nodded seriously. "I'll look into it when we get back."

Somewhat mollified, Rodney dug into one of the pockets of his vest, pulling out six little silver packets, handing one each to John and Teyla, two to Ronon and kept two for himself.

"Malignant Melanoma is a type of cancer that develops in pigment containing cells in the body called melanocytes. It's what gives human skin it's complexion. It's mainly caused by UV rays which comes from direct exposure to sunlight."

Ronon gave a disbelieving huff. "Sunlight…. Can kill you?"

"Everything can kill you. " Rodney retorted, stripping out of the last of his clothes and folding them neatly on the tree trunk. He gestured as one of the little packages, tearing it open and squeezing out the white liquid inside. "The trick is to avoid being is a vulnerable position. Prevention is better than cure."

He cocked his head, "I can't believe no one in medical ever went over this with either of you. I have to talk to Carson about this. With all that I complain about his bone rattle and sheep's blood, simple protective measures should be taken for anyone going through the gate."

"I agree." John nodded, already slathering the cream on his body and rubbing it in. "I didn't even think about packing sunscreen in my gear. All teams should have it. Or at least put it on before each mission."

Teyla, who had been looking at John's motions carefully, also tore open her packet and squeezed out the lotion. Rodney glanced over.

"Dot little spots all over your body, then rub them in. a little goes a long way. John, get her back and I'll do Ronon's. Make sure to get as much coverage as you can. We don't like cancer but sunburn is a major issue as well."

"Thank you Rodney" Teyla smiled and got to work. Ronon copied, feeling a bit stupid but was willing to humour his teammates if they thought it was a legitimate concern. He'd never heard of someone getting 'skin cancer' but there was a lot about the universe he still didn't know.

The liquid was cool against his skin and he rubbed until the white streaks disappeared. Then Rodney's hands were on his back, warm and strong as they tried to cover all of his broad shoulders down to just above the crack of his ass.

"Thanks" he grunted as the hands pulled away, voice gruff because he hadn't had someone touch him like that in a long time.

"No problem" Rodney's voice was a bit breathy and low and he cleared his throat as he stepped away. The genius then turned around, handing him the pack over his shoulder. "Do me."

Ronon barked a laugh and stepped closer, warming the liquid on his hands before putting it to the man's skin. "Don't mind if I do."

He smiled to himself as he saw a flush crawl up Rodney's neck and around to his back. Ronon's cock twitched and he willed it still. There'd be time for that later… if Rodney really was interested.

Ronon was a patient man. He would wait until they were in a more private place before approaching the man about sharing blankets. The genius was a practically man, often talking about missing sex and Ronon knew that the other man had taken several partners on Atlantis.

On Seteda, the warriors often shared their bodies with each other. It brought them closer and satisfied their sexual appetites. It was different on Atlantis, earth people were such prudes. He'd approached John one time but the man, though thoroughly flattered, flummoxed and embarrassed at the offer, had politely declined and explained about the myriad of earth ways which made it a bad idea.

In the end though, John admitted that he didn't feel comfortable having relations with someone under his direct command and since he was the military leader, it narrowed his options greatly. That and the fact that he was something called Demisexual, which meant that he didn't find anyone sexually attractive unless he formed a strong emotional connection.

Ronon had been a bit confused but John had been patient in his explanations of the sexual spectrum. That kind of made all of Rondey's 'Kirk' complaints baseless but john said it gave him a chuckle to hear Rodney bitch about it.

With all of them suitably protected from the sun, they waded into the cool waters with varying expressions of pleasure and joy. The sea was calm and so clear he could see the detail of his toe nails. John whooped and dove, swimming along the seabed until he came up on their other side.

Teyla was doing graceful strokes, the clear waters sluicing off her firm, naked body as she cut through the water. Ronon could see the holster of his knife, dark against his thigh and he ducked under the water a few times to get his locks wet through.

Rodney was making faces at the water and Ronon swam over. The genius was examining a piece of smooth stone which looked dull in his palm but when he pulled it under water, it began to glow.
he repeated the move a few times mumbling about ancient sea glass and other science stuff.

Ronon carefully cupped the other man's hand in his and turned it so that the small stone dropped into the water and sank. Before Mckay could sputter about it, Ronon pulled the wrist closer and pressed his mouth to Mckay's pulse point.

"Science later. Rest and Relaxation now."

The genius huffed. "Who taught you about R&R?"

Ronon pressed his lips to Mckay's shoulder, tasting the salt of the sea and the faint tang of sun screen. "I hang with marine's all day. I pick up stuff."

"Very well then…" Rodney's eyes were as blue and the waters around them, pink dusting his cheeks. "Race you to Teyla. Loser has to carry whatever stones I pick up later to study."

He dove away on the last would, making broad strokes to where Teyla lay floating. Ronon blinked a bit as the scientist's playfulness before growling and diving after him.

He wasn't going to be lugging a ton of glowy rocks back to the gate. No fucking way.

Chapter Text

"That doesn't look right."

Tony lowered his camera, pulling out his cell phone and turning on the light. It saved him having to trek back across the room to grab the light from his toolkit and he was already half leaning/crouching into the closet of their latest murder victim. He used his phone camera to zoom in on the evidence, unable to hold the phone's light up as well as properly focus the heavy crime scene camera.

"Do you need assistance coming out of the cupboard?" a sultry voice purred in his ear and he jumped, almost dropping both. Ziva snickered as he glared at her, pulling back to stand up straight, the large brown evidence bag in her gloved hands clashing against her bulky, blue NCIS jacket. "I'm sure all your numerous one night stands will be disappointed to find out that you swim for the other team."

McProbie snickered loudly from where he was busy dropping eaves across the room where he'd been sketching the scene. He ducked his head quickly enough when Tony turned his glare his way.

Tony bit back on his almost automatic correction of the Isreali's idioms, instead setting aside the camera and pocketing the phone. Pulling out a a small evidence bag, he shifted further into the closet, carefully collecting some of the tiny, brittle, egg shaped things that lined the floor of the closet.

He quickly checked the clothes that hung above and found a long, heavy jacket covered with the tiny things as if someone had been rolling in them. He took a picture of the jacket with his phone, bright light still turned on as it caused the miniscule shells to glisten.

He'd just sealed the jacket into an evidence bag when Gibbs strode in, ever present cup of coffee in hand, NCIS cap pulled low over his eyes. Tony looked at his boss carefully. Cap pulled low, stern mouth in a thin line, bags under his eyes, death grip on the pour coffee cup.

Oh yeah, Gibbs was in a bad mood today.

****************

"I don't want to hear it DiNozzo." Gibbs' voice was strident as the elevator doors opened.

"I really think that we should at least check this out, Boss." Tony reasoned as he followed his boss off the elevator, "There's something weird about it. Familiar."

"Please don’t tell me that this is one of your stupid movies plots." The silver haired man rolled his eyes. "You think that shit is so clever but all you do is waste our time. Do your job and follow the leads that actually go somewhere."

Tony swallowed down his hurt, shunting aside his wounded pride for later. This wasn't the first time that Gibbs had dressed him down in public, but it was the first time where bearing the brunt of his boss' anger felt like a punishment, not a choice.

Where was the man who appreciated his unconventional thinking. Where was the man who'd read them all the riot act about following every lead and not letting anything slip through the cracks.

These days, Gibbs seemed more interesting in tearing him down, making him feel low. The head slaps had been sharper, more like reprimanding a naughty pet. These days Tony felt bruised, beaten down. Worn down. But, despite his personal problems, there was still a killer on the loose that they needed to track down. He take a deep, calming breath and forged on.

"I don't know, maybe it is from a movie, maybe it's not. All I know is that my gut is telling me that this could be important to the case."

'Well, listen to your so called gut on your own time, you hear me." Gibbs scoffed. "When you are on work you do as I say."

Tony clenched his jaw and bit back on an acid retort. It wasn't worth it to argue. Not now. He'd been planning on doing that anyway. Turning back to his computer, he mentally set aside the small sealed evidence bag in his pocket.

"Sure thing boss."

*******************

He tried to look the little shells up online but had no luck. McGee had laughed at his efforts and Abby had been too busy to more than humour him about the now dust residue which was all that had been left behind by even the gentlest of handling.

With nothing else to build on, he'd ended up calling the Dinozzo network, contacting fellow investigators Greg Sanders in Las Vegas and Danny Messer in New York. He sent them the pics from his phone they both recommended that he seek out an entomologist. Greg sent him some papers by the legendary Dr. Gil Grissom while Danny provided a contact at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Doctor Lamar Quintero shook Tony's hand with a smile, blushing at Tony's charm as he lead the agent through one of the long storage halls of the Department of Entomology towards the smaller labs at the back. Tony goggled at the ceiling high shelves stacked with boxes upon boxes of specimens.

"I suppose you've heard every kind of Bug Doctor joke there is by now." Tony asked, leaning a hip against a nearby table as the scientist studied the shell remains under a microscope. The Doc grinned back at his over his shoulder, his dark curly hair flopping over his forehead; his mocca skin dimpling at the cheeks.

"Oh you don't know the half, Very Special Agent. As someone who has loved insects since he was five years old, I've heard and been called every name imaginable. There's hardly anything anyone can call me know that I haven't heard before."

Tony gives him a genuine smile, surprisingly charmed himself by the cheerful doctor with his black rimmed glasses and faint stubble. Lamar, as he was invited to call him, was respectful, intelligent, funny and seemed to move movies as much as he loved bugs.

So, as thanks for making himself available after working hours, Tony invited the man to a late dinner. Lamar had readily agreed, tugging on an actual tweed jacket and knitted scarf against the nights chill. Tony took him to one of the quieter, lesser known places he frequented and they ate light, it being almost midnight when they finally left the museum.

They discussed the evidence, which turned out to be discarded egg casings from a beetle that wasn't at all native to the state. Tony made quick notes on his phone to follow up and then set the device aside. Conversation was easy after that, Lamar was so passionate about his vocation and even though Tony could take or leave most creepy crawlies, he was fascinated by the other man's wealth on knowledge on the subject.

They part on good terms, Tony promising to call if the information helped the case in anyway. Neither of them had been eager to let the night end, late as it was and Tony found himself looking at the Doc's contact on his phone more than a few times during the next few days.

They solved the case four days later, which was four days too slow for Gibbs who prowled around like a bear with a hurt paw. Tony kept his head down, a bit disappointed that his evidence hadn't panned out to be anything significant. He hadn't mentioned it again but both Ziva and McGee liked to pick at it from time to time.

Maybe it was because he wasn't putting himself between a grouchy Gibbs and them anymore. It was time they grew up and dealt with the 'Second B for Bastard' on their own. Still, despite nothing coming from it work wise, Tony was glad for the opportunity to have met the sweet and smart Dr. Quintero.

It had been a while since he'd been so quickly and deeply in tune with someone else. His last steady female relationship had been Wendy and the wedding that wasn't. his last male attraction had been Gibbs but that had soon become twisted and had withered away under the weight of their eroding rapport.

He made a visit to the museum, in lieu of making a call; eager to see the Doctor in person once more. Lamar grinned at seeing him, making Tony stomach flip flop in a good way. Although they were both disappointed that their evidence hadn't panned out for Tony's case, the presence of the shells had led to an internal investigation by the Museum itself.

FBI Agent Seeley Booth along with Dr. Temperance Brennan and her team had followed the trail to an underground black market ring. He'd reached out to Tony afterwards, thanking him for cracking the whole thing with his lead. Turned out the victim had been part of the ring and had been very meticulous in keeping records of the people he'd dealt with. Soon after, Booth, Brennan and their team were part of the Dinozzo network and he carefully drew Dr. Quintero into the fold as well.

Lamar flourished within the new peer group, making fast friends with the team and growing new confidence professionally. He asks Tony to be his plus one for the annual museum gala and Tony accepts, flattered and enchanted to see Lamar stutter though his invitation.

Tony dressed in his best tux and felt a deep satisfaction when the scientist flushed and gaped at the sight of his in his suit. With a chaste kiss to the other man's knuckles, he escorted him into the gala space, staying at his side as they navigated the room. Tony had never been to one before and was surprised at the number of Washington movers and shakers who were in attendance.

Thankfully, both Booth and Brennan were also there with some of their team and that helped make the night more enjoyable. By the end of the night, they'd talked and laughed and danced until they were both exhausted and a little tipsy. Tony escorted Lamar home, lingering in the door way as the Doctor fumbled with his keys.

Tony wanted to kiss him so bad, he yearned for it. In fact, he wanted nothing more than for Lamar to invite him into his apartment. Into his arms and his bed. That didn't exactly happen but the doctor did lean over and give him a chaste kiss to the corner of his mouth. Tony licked at the spot, making the other man's brown eyes widen as he went pink.

Tony's good mood lasted for days, thinking almost constantly about that almost kiss and sharing texts and funny pictures with the man who bestowed it upon him. Neither Ziva's and Tim's teasing nor Gibbs disdain over Tony's apparent personal joy could put a dent into his attitude. He invited Lamar over for a home cooked meal, playing the piano for him after as they drank wine and talked about insects.

Tony had lunch with Seeley, discussing some of the cases they'd both encountered and cultivating a friendship that Tony truly appreciated and cherished. Booth was a smart and experienced agent and respected tony on a professional level that he'd been lacking lately in his own work place.

After two months of making time for each other, Lamar finally invited Tony up to his small apartment. Tony felt honoured, touched to be welcome into such an intimate space. Everything in small apartment said something about the man, laying him open in a way that Tony was certain few had ever seen.

Beautiful display boxes were interspersed with thick reference books and science magazines. Movie cases were stuffed on shelves with geeky knick knacks and hand woven and comfortable looking afghans were tossed along with colourful knitted pillows and a thick and decadent woven rug.

"My sister knits…. A lot." he'd confessed sheepishly as they'd stood in the small kitchen making coffee. "I send her cool weird yarn as gifts and she sends me back stuff made from it. It's how we keep in touch now that she's moved to California."

Later that night when they are sitting together, a wooly afghan tucked around their legs and Carey Grant smiling on the screen, the kisses are as sweet and hot as Tony had hoped they'd be. He let himself be tugged to the bedroom and into bed, glutting his senses on the man who'd slipped into his heart so deftly.

He woke up with a warm hand on his ass and stubble burn on his inner thighs. His ass and back ached in that good, toe curling way and he smiled against the shoulder his face was smoshed against. He lay there in the pale early light of morning, snug against a warm, firm body and felt like he'd finally found a place where he truly belonged.

Loving Lamar was easy. Almost frightfully so. They seemed so different on paper but face to face they just seemed to gel in all the right ways. Tony still had his insecurities, he still struggled with his self-worth but talking to his lover, sharing his doubts and fears with another instead of keeping it all bottled up; helped him deal with a few of his deeper issues.

He started seeing a therapist, reluctantly at first, but after meeting with the woman recommended but both Seeley and Brenan, he'd made real progress. It was difficult, learning to trust someone with his truths and not trying to cover them with fake smiles and denial, but he pushed through the pain. He wanted, no, he needed to be a better man than he was. For both himself and his partner. He needed to discover who Anthony DiNozzo truly was.

His new found knowledge in entomology came in handy when the body of a marine turned up infested with unknown larvae. Tony had quickly snapped a picture and sent it to Lamar who'd alerted Brenan and her team as it was another rare species not native to the US. when Seeley had swooped in to pull the case into their larger black market investigation, Gibbs had been livid.

He'd ranted and raved at Tony both at the crime scene and in the bull pen, blaming him for the FBI moving in on their jurisdiction. Seeley had been livid on Tony's behalf, both at Gibbs and at everyone who'd stood around doing jack shit.

Tony had taken him out for drinks after wards, letting the man rant into his beer at the utter lack of professional respect the whole of NCIS had shown. He'd all but growled at Tony that he'd be welcome at the FBI in a hot minute the moment he decided to leave that toxic, orange nightmare. Tony had been flattered at the offer and promised the other agent to seriously give it some thought.

That night, as he shook in his lover's arms, he felt like he'd found home. He no longer had to try to make a family out of people who didn't love him back. He'd found a new love, new friends and, if Seeley was being serious, a new job that satisfied his need to serve and protect.

He resigned from NCIS the next day.

Chapter Text

"Ah, Mr. Reid. Thank you for waiting."

Spencer looked up from where he'd been studying the polished brass studs of his carrying case. The old man's cane tapped against the dark wood floor as he strolled towards the sitting area, the metal cap on the heavy carved wood walking stick, echoing sharply at every step.

"Mr. Rossi, Good afternoon." Spencer stood sharply, deftly tugging on the fitted bone and grey corset vest; smoothing the material flat before reaching out a hand. "I appreciate the call."

Rossi's hands were warm and calloused, taking Spencer's pale one within both of his. As he leaned forward, Spence could make out the dark gleam of a shoulder holster. He did not let his surprise show though. He'd done his research when the call had first come in.

Rossi led him down several corridors until they came to a large pair of heavy doors. They were just as ostentatious and over whelming as the rest of the house, screaming money and power so blatantly. The salt and pepper Italian rapped on the door three times then waited three seconds before he twisted the knob.

The large doors swung open easily, perfectly balanced to reveal the room beyond. Spencer took a second to case the room, tagging all the windows, doors and other potential dangers. He'd all but walked into the lion's den and if he wanted to walk out again unharmed, he'd have to stay on his feet and keep his wits about him.

The room was tastefully appointed, hard woods, burnished gold and supple leather. It was a man's room, made for men's delights. A large desk dominated on side of the room. It was a large monstrosity of a thing, with carved lions snarling, claws extended. Books lined the shelves behind it, floor to ceiling filled with expensive looking leather bound tomes.

Vintage framed maps of the world had been mounted on the deep red walls, no doubt originals 'confiscated' from their previous owners. A large globe sat fixed in a ornately carved mount, the orb gleaming in the pale light coming in through the windows.

And behind that monstrosity of a desk, sat a monster in the flesh.

Aaron Hotchner had a reputation that proceeded him far and wide. His unsmiling visage was more often the last thing traitors and other trouble makers saw before being granted the relief that death finally brought.

The man was ruthless, smart and somehow able to inspire unwavering loyalty in his people. He was by no means the biggest crime boss in Chicago but he held unto his mid-level portion of shy-town with an iron fist.

Just how Spencer had come to meet the man face to face was all Garcia's fault. He'd made her a corset for special presentation with her Sub Emily and the woman had been singing his praises ever since.

Finding out that the bubbly, quirky Domme was Terzu Famiglia to Hotchner's Primu, next in command after Rossi's Sicondu, had been an unpleasant surprise. Finding out he'd been summoned before the man known as the Devil of South Shore had been even more of one.

The man in question was writing something into a large ledger, his stern mouth and stern jaw carved of stone. Spencer stood at the centre of the antique Prussian rug where Rossi directed him and waited patiently to be acknowledged. This was no place to demand attention.

Spencer's eyes flickered to the robust young man keeling in attendance at the side of the desk, his eyes averted demurely. He was dressed in soft white pants, his chocolate skin glistening along his bare shoulders and chest. His head was shorn close to his skull and he wore a diamond studded sub collar around his neck. it was a gorgeous piece of art, with a small platinum lock hanging from it, nestled in the dip of his collar bone.

Spencer did not allow his eyes to linger more than a second on the Sub. He didn't want to know what happened to people who angered a Dom like Hotchner by looking at his collared submissive. Instead, he concentrated on the carved front of the man's desk and waited for him to speak.

"Penelope tells me that you are extremely skilled in your craft."

A clear and strident voice brought him from his light musing. Hotchner's eyes were sharp and piercing and Spencer forced himself to hold the man's gaze for a few moments before lowering his eyes.

"I do appreciate her continued patronage."

The man's eyebrow quirked infinitesimally though his expression didn't change. "She also said that you could be trusted."

Spencer didn't know what to say to that so he stayed silent.

The older man sat back in his chair, joining his hands across his taut stomach as he appraised the young man before him. Spencer Reid had come recommended by someone he trusted, someone who done invasive and in depth background and security checks on the man before him before letting him even come near to her treasured sub.

He was young, younger that Aaron had expected, with brown hair slicked back and curling around his shoulders. The dove grey and bone cream bespoke suit spoke to his expertise in his draft; his matching shoes and understated jewelry spoke to his good taste.

He'd almost expected to see a collar on the pretty young man, despite Penelope's assurance that Sub was unattached. Surely some Dom would have snapped a beautiful young thing like him by now.

"I need something custom made for Derek.." Aaron glanced at the sub kneeling comfortably. "There will be a meeting of the Famiglias Maiò very soon and we have been invited to present. I want my submissive dressed to impress the other major familes."

Invited. Tch. More like strongly suggested by the Don of the east coast himself.

Spencer's mind raced, taking leave to study Derek's body with a tailor's eye. Already, designs were blossoming in his mind, intricately embroidered satin panels with delicate boning and custom laces following the long lines of his firm body. He then looked back at serious Dom before him, eyes roaming over him as well.

"Will you be co-ordinating for the presentation?"

This time the dark eyebrow went higher. "I hadn't planned on it. Presentation outfits tend to be a bit … whimsical."

'More like farcical." Rossi mumbled from his chair.

Spencer tilted his head, eyes narrowing as he glanced between both Dom and Sub. "That's mostly because Doms believe that they have to match closely with their Subs and Sub Presentation Fashion has evolved over the decades to highlight sexuality and vulnerability and Dom Fashion does not adapt well to those principles."

Setting down his case, he went down on one knee and looked up at the Dom's permission to open it. At the man's nod, he snapped the clamps open and laid it flat on the rug. Inside were swatches of material as well as other tailoring accouterments.

He plucked out a book of suit material and opened it to a certain page before standing. At Hotchner's nod to approach, Spencer presented the chosen swatch, his hand running over the ebony material.

"I propose a co-ordinating concept instead. You in a black suit, expertly tailored. Black silk shirt with embroidered tie. Patent leather shoes. Platinum accessories. Do you have a set of tools in black and silver? Brushed velvet and leather."

He tucked that book away and plucked another book of swatches, flipping it open to the other side of the spectrum. "For your submissive, supple leather for strength, lace trim for to show a hint of skin. Silk embroidered to match the symbol of your family crest. Imported handmade ribbon lacing the back with suitable placed straps and cut outs in the trousers to give the illusion of being bound."

Rossi hummed with appreciation. "Black and white. Dark and light. Good and evil. Dom and sub. Poetic. I like it."

"You would." Hotchner's lip twitched at the corner, the closest thing to emotion Spencer had seen on him. He forced himself to stay still and be calm as those dark eyes turned their full force to him.

"I like it. You'll stay here while you craft them. We will send someone to get the things you need from your studio. You will cancel all other clients."

It wasn't a question or a request. Still, Spencer wasn’t going to acquiesce so easily. Not even to a Dom who could have him swimming with cement shoes within the hour.

"I'll agree to cancelling my other clients and staying here to complete the work but I will need to source the materials in person. I will not compromise the quality of my work by 'phoning it in' as they say."

Spencer gave a bow of deference, as if he had not just made a demand of the dangerous Dom before him. But his craft was his craft and he would not compromise, no matter the client. He raised his chin subtly, straightening his spine in defiance.

Rossi chuckled behind him. "This one is feisty. No wonder Garcia favours him."

"Indeed. This one has balls." Hotchner's lip gave a small curl, his eyes glinting with interest. "Makes me wonder why some opportunistic Dom hasn't put a collar on him yet."

Sencer kept quiet, accustomed to Doms talking about him as if he wasn't there. There was no use defending or explaining his lack of collar. That was no one's business but his own.

Hotchner finally nodded. "Agreed. You can source your materials in person, under guard of course. after the presentation, you will be taken home and your recompense will be transferred into a bank account set up for you by Penelope."

He turned to Rossi. "Arrange to have his studio set up in the north wing. Bring whatever he needs from his studio. Any fitting sessions will be approved by me. If I'm not available, Garcia can be my stand in."

At that abrupt dismissal, Spencer let himself be escorted out of the room and down a hall to where a brightly dressed Penelope Garcia stood waiting with a sunny smile and clapping hands. Her Sub, Emily Prentiss, was serene at her side in a wine red pants suit, her gun metal grey collar gleaming from the open collar of the shirt.

"Oh my little Duckling, this Is going to be so amazing." The happy blonde squealed, pulling Spencer into a tight hug."I knew that when I recommended you that you and Hotch were going to hit it off right away."

She must have seen the look of disbelief on his face because she scoffed loudly and waved her hand. "Believe me, if the Bossman had been upset with you in any way, we would have been having a different conversation entirely."

With how both Rossi and Prentiss were nodding sagely at the blonde's words, Spencer realized that he was really and truly trapped between a rock and a hard place.

As Penelope tucked her arm around Emily's waist and led them all further down the corridor, talking excitedly about Spencer's stay at the mansion; the true magnitude of the situation finally hit him.

He was basically a prisoner to one of the most powerful crime families in Chicago, kidnapped from his life for god knows how long in the house of a ruthless and dangerous Dom.

All because Penelope Garcia liked his work. He cleared his throat, interrupting the blonde's cherry babbling.

"Speaking of deadlines… when is the presentation exactly?"

"Oh, it's a month and a half from now. Don't worry, you've got plenty of time." Rossi piped up, no doubt trying to be reassuring.

Unfortunately, they had the opposite effect on Spencer. He paled and swallowed heavily, plastering on a polite smile to the people who basically hijacked his entire existence and forcing back the tremor in his voice at the idea of spending the next forty five days trapped in this place.

"Oh… I see. Thank you."

Fuck his life.

Seriously.

Chapter Text

Draco was still having a light breakfast of honey on toast with some strong lavender tea when the news came from the village, brought by a panting and swaying runner.

The youngest Potter had claimed the last great dragon moth and had already been sworn in as its rider.

He carefully set down his cup and traded looks with his mother across the table, both mentally shoring themselves up for the fireworks that were sure to happen when his father eventually found out. Leave it to Potter to claim a legendary steed before Choosing Day had even begun. Now they were never going to hear the end of it.

Viscount Lucius Malfoy's epic feud against Marquis James Potter had been a long fought and bitter one, both men nurturing the embers of black hate for each other in their guts for years on end. Personally, Draco thought that it was all just a waste of time and that both men should just hate fuck and get it out of their systems. He was sure that both Lady Lily and his mother would agree.

He'd just taken up his cup to enjoy the rest of his tea when his father burst into the room, still in his dressing gown, long blond hair wild and uncombed. The man was livid, ranting about favouritism and how Sirius Black should be removed as Steed Master for letting a potential rider in with the steeds before the official Choosing Ceremony and that how he would have the man's job for this.

Draco kept his head down, letting his mother handle her irate husband. Unlike Lucius, he had no aspirations to have been part of the elite War Eclipse. For him, the terror and danger of being a member of the battle corps outweighed the supposed the fame and fortune that came with it.

All Draco wanted to do was fly. Ever since he'd seen his first flight as a very young child. Captivated the brightly coloured and patterned wings of the giant moths as they fluttered in the large clearing below the royal keep. Watching their smartly dressed riders mount and take to the air, kicking up huge buffets of wind as they took to the skies.

One by one he'd seen his friends at the Hogwarts earn their rank as rider and submit themselves for choosing. He'd seen Theodore with his Leaopard Moth with its pure white wings with black ring spots. Pansy with her gorgeous red black and white Cecropia, Blaise with his pure black and daunting Peppered Moth which made him a shoe in for the Silent Scouts.

There had been the excitement when his cousin Luna had been chosen by her name sake, the youngest and smallest of them bonding with the ethereal sea green flyer with a wingspan one and a half of any other steed within the eclipse.

There was also Longbottom with his beautiful blue Long Tail Skipper and Granger with her Giant Tiger Moth and its dappled wings. Weasley the younger had bonded with a stunning Madagascar Moon while Weasley the older had ended up with an insanely furry orange Jewel Dalceridae.

Then of course there was Potter with his new Dragon Moth, which despite being one of the most powerful breeds ever and a formidable fighter, much like the dragon it was named for; looked incredibly dull and ugly with its muted colours and bulky form.

Draco himself, preferred the steed built for long distance flight. He loved the sky and fantasized about keeping to the air for hours on end as he sped towards the horizon, unknown lands unfurling before him.

Seeing his father thoroughly distracted by his mother, Draco shot her a grateful look and quietly excused himself as soon as he was able, slipping away to grab his gear and head down to the Choosing Ceremony.

He rushed to the stable and slipped the reins over his favourite bee, Buzzcut, before slipping out of the building and zooming down towards the great clearing. He'd trained the bee from larva and loved how fast it went, much to his mother's displeasure.

He made great time to the clearing, dismounting and tapping a pattern to the bee's back, commanding it to go back home. Buzzcut nuzzled his side in affection, getting pollen all along his pants before it zoomed off into the distance. He watched it go for a bit, a fond smile on his face, before turning back to the other nervous choosing day hopefuls.

Potter and he were the last of their class to find a bond and there had been talk within the halls of the keep and in the town. Now that Potter had gone and found himself a Dragon, Draco was now the only one from his class left. Most of the other hopefuls were at least two years younger than him and it made him stand out.

Draco wasn't worried thought, today was the day. He knew it.

Sirius Black, Steed Master and husband of Master Trainer Repus Lupin, strode toward the hopefuls and gave a short, curt speech. Gone was the usually gregarious and laughing man they usually knew. In his place was the Master of the Choosing and one would decide their fate today.

Draco trailed to the back of the group, having been to the ceremonies before. It didn't matter if you rushed forward, choosings happened in their own sweet time.

Gasps sounded from the hopefuls as they entered the main stable, a massive copse of trees whose canopy had grown together thick and impenetrable. Moths of varying sizes and colours milled along the forest floor and up the trees.

Draco looked up, marveling at the sunbeams as they shone through the leaves and his heart stopped in his chest. Near the canopy top, wings unfurled to a span of almost forty feet and blazing the colour of fire, sat a Semioptila fulveolans Mabille.

Draco felt a something ripple through him, like the ringing of a clear and beautiful bell. *Hello Gorgeous*, he greeted mentally and was almost blown away by proud response that resounded though his mind. He could feel his eyes tearing up as the Mabille fluttered its giant wings, its two long hind fronds flared. This was a moth built for long flight, strong and agile and beautiful and perfect.

He faintly heard his names being called and he blinked and tore his eyes away from his moth. Because they couldn't be anyone else's but his really. Black was looking between him and the steed in question with a look of resigned defeat.

"First Potter, now you? Does nobody respect the Choosing Ceremony anymore?"

There was a loud thump as the Mabille landed nearby, making both riders and moths alike scamper out of the way. Draco felt a sense of smug satisfaction coming from the steed and sent back a warm push of amazement and awe.

He chuckled as the bond between them bloomed fully as he lay a gentle hand on the fur covered head, pouring all the adoration and love he felt into the bond and getting the same in return.

"I claim you. Mendoshu. " he said softly against the flame coloured fur.

*I claim you. Draconis.*

The voice was warm and clear and he tears up at the affection that was laced through it.

Fuck Potter and his fighting Dragon Moth.

Draco had the sky now. Nothing else could compare.

Chapter Text

It started with an office fire in the warehouse district and way too soon had turned into several blocks of hell on earth. The FDNY were out in droves, trying to keep the blaze contained. The police were quickly evacuating the area and with the Avengers on their way with state of the art Stark Fire Suppression tech, Spiderman had been tasked with helping with the evacuation.

He didn't mind, the sweet tech of his suit wasn't enough to deal with the blazing heat of the flames and he'd already sustained a couple of burns before the local fire chief had ordered him away from ground zero. The friendly neighbourhood hero had saluted the brave fire fighters in their heavy gear and had high tailed it out of there, almost falling off a building when his webbing got too close to the heat.

He'd have to look into making the stuff even more fire resistant.

The billowing black smoke blotted out the night sky, only leaving glimpses of the star filled heavens. He'd swung through the stuff a few times, the filters of his mask working hard against the grit and soot. The police had clued him into their frequency and he'd been working with the sergeant in charge of the evacuation.

He felt really good to be working alongside with the police, ever since he had been inducted as a Junior Avenger. He'd been a bit put out at first, not been seen as an adult, but after a few close calls with sticking his nose into Avenger business and a few 'Come to Jesus' talks with Tony and Steve, he been happy with the restricted duties. Besides, the heroes had made him feel included and welcome in so many other ways.

He was stuck to one of the nearby buildings, watching for any signs of movement when his radio chirped. It was the police sergeant. The Avengers were on site and he wanted Spiderman to do a final sweep of the outlying buildings for any stragglers. He gave a cherry reply and set off on his way.

He caught glimpses of the iron legion, their metallic bodies gleaming in the fire light as they sprayed the flames with fire suppressant. It was slow going, with how much the fire had spread but at least the human fire officers were able to back off from the more dangerous points.

He was absently paying attention to the chatter over the comm. When a loud cracking sound reached his ears and all of a sudden he was falling, his hands and feet scrambling for his webbing. He heard himself yell, the sound cutting off abruptly as he crashed into something hard and unforgiving. His breath rushed out of him in a pained oof, hurt radiating along his spine.

He curled to his side, away from the heat that seemed to surround him. He'd accidentally crashed into one of the burning buildings. Karen's voice rang in his ear as he pushed himself to his knees, urging him to get up and out and reporting that one of the rafters he'd stuck his web too had been rusted through and had given away under his weight.

He was just about to respond to her verbally, coughing against the smoke when a burning pain lanced along his shoulders. A long heavy beam had fallen and was pinning him down. He gave a strangled yell, unable to get his hands under him to push up against the weight. He heard both Karen's and Tony's voices over the comm but couldn't get in enough breath to reply. He coughed harder, the smoke in the room was getting thicker, ash covering the floor and what of his uniform he could see,

The air was searing hot and black smoke and ash clogged the filters of his mask, he could hear Karen calling for him and he tried once again to heave the large beam off his back. The beam creaked and bent a little but wouldn't give, somehow braced against some other metal framework. He grunted, straining fruitlessly against the beam once again, tears forming in his eyes from the acrid smoke.

Suddenly, the beam lifted away, the sound of replusors whining as the metal bent and buckled. Ironman tossed the beam away sending it crashing into the next room. Next thing he knew, he was being held carefully in metal arms as they took off through the large hole he'd made when he'd crashed through the wall.

He coughed as he huddled against the metal chest plate, taking comfort in the hum of the arc reactor. They thudded down unto a nearby roof and his mask was peeled off, the night air cool against his hot and sweaty skin. Tony's voice was calm and comforting as a snick and click sounded from his suit. a molded cup placed over his nose and mouth.

"Relax kid, It's oxygen. Take deep, slow breaths for me okay?"

He pulled in a deep breath, the oxygen cool and sweet to his nose and throat. Tony's face plate snapped up, revealing his concerned face. He blinked up at the man, grasping at the little oxygen tube as Karen activated his suit built in coolant. There was no smoke blocking the sky, they must have been upwind of the fire; and the stars twinkled happily down on him. He glanced back at Tony and curled against the warm chest plate, away from the chill of the wind that had picked up. Arms came up to hold him close and he relaxed into the hold.

"You're gonna be okay Peter. Just keep breathing."

Tony's voice was a comfort and peter let his eyes fall closed as he took another deep and cleansing breath.

Yeah, he was gonna be okay.

Chapter Text

The rain looked pretty against the city's shield, even though they only had it up for a few hours a day. Even with the ZPMs they did have, they couldn't afford to run them down over a bit of rain. Well, not a bit of rain per say but a solid two weeks of steady downpour.

Thankfully they'd had more than a month's warning from the city, when what seemed to be meteorological labs had powered up all by themselves. Seeing that the city hadn't done that kind of thing before, Rodney had made it a top priority and set a crack team of scientists on it immediately.

The geeks had reported back that every twenty eight years, the planets weather systems reached a break point and essentially had a rainstorm to end all rain storms. At that particular set of news, Rodney had exchanged a tired look with Zelenka, both men hissing a selection of soft curses under their breaths.

Then they got to work.

The linguists and translators were redirected to translate everything they could on the storm while the rest of the science division prepared the city for a complete lock down.

The geeks in charge of Hydroponics were in near hysterics that the deluge of rain would upset the pH balance of their gardens but with the extra ZPMs in place, the city had been able to show them how to secure the gardens.

Rodney led the team to open and flush all the water collections and treatment facilities, dedicating one of the ZPMs to the effort. When asked for his reasoning, he explained how not only would concentrating on that area help them with their potable water problems but it would help flush the miles and miles of old systems under the city.

There was also the slight concern that if they didn't have enough proper drainage, the city could become waterlogged and sink under the ocean. And with the shield only having enough power to stay up for a little more than 37 hours continuously , they would all drown before they could solve the problem efficiently.

Shepard had the goons running around the city, battening down the hatches as all the ATA positive pilots shuttled the Athosians and most of their possessions off the main land and though the gate to the alpha site.

Teyla and a few of her people stayed, mostly to stand witness of the storm and tell the tale of its passing to the rest of their people. The Meteorological team, or the Weathermen as they were called amongst the city dwellers, had predicted that the Athosian village would be all but washed off the mainland, the water table expected to rise way above the ground level. The Athosians had been both alarmed and sad at the news but they were Pegasus born so they rolled with it.

Weir had ordered a portion of their supplies to the alpha site as well as some non-essential personnel. They had also sent a message back to earth informing them of the upcoming storm.

The command team had been working almost non-stop, making sure that this storm didn't turn out like the last one. Zelenka had been in charge of making sure all the grounding stations were up and running, installing at least half as much more so that the expected lightning wouldn't harm the city. Rodney had already had plans from to harvest some of the energy and disperse the excess harmlessly out to sea. The approaching storm just brought the timeline up on them that's all.

With all of this going on, Ronon had been left to his own devices. He helped the goons with their grunt work, schlepped stocks and stores with the Athosians. He'd brought coffee to the geeks, especially Rodney who he secured the best snacks and extra MREs for and coaxed him to eat and sleep as the genius worked himself into the ground.

They didn't get to spend much time together during that month, Rodney usually passing out whenever his head hit the pillow. Ronon didn't mind though, his lover and mate was protecting their home. He was working hard to protect their tribe.

Rodney wasn't the typical caregiver/ provider type, turning off most others with his acerbic tongue and intolerance for stupid bullshit. But Ronon wasn't most others. The smart mouthed genius reminded him so much of his mate on Seteda, a real firecracker and fierce warrior.

When he'd lost his whole world and been made a runner, he never thought that he would have that kind of love again. But Rodney Mckay was a man full of surprises and he'd shouldered his way into Ronon's heart in that tactless yet endearing way of his.

They were currently a week into the two week time frame and people were starting to go stir crazy. Hieghtmeyer had instigated a schedule of swapping people out for those at the alpha site as the steady downpour of rain falling from dark grey clouds had proven relentless and oppressive for some and they needed some time under clear blue skies.

Ronon had stayed on the city because Rodney had stayed. The rest of his team had stayed as well, though others came and went. He loved the rain personally. He loved the sound of it on the windows and along the piers. He loved how it looked on the slick grey metal of the city as well as how it blossomed into little yellow florets when it hit the activated shield.

He especially loved the look of it over the ocean from the view of his room. He'd moved his mattress over to the windows, collecting all of his blankets, pillows and cushions in to a giant nest. He'd placed one of the ancient space heaters he'd traded for off planet, and that Rodney had suped up for him, nearby, turning it on. It glowed a soft honey yellow that made the room glow when all the other lights were turned off.

He had a tray of snacks at the ready and reached over to grab his laptop, setting up one of those crackling fireplace background noise tracks wired to the speakers in his room. Rodney had set it up for him, allowing him to immerse himself in some of the beautiful and haunting earth music that reminded him of home.

When John had heard about Ronon's sweet set up, he'd bugged the resident genius to the same for him so that he could enjoy his Jonny Cash in surround sound. Frankly, Ronon thought that Shepard's favourite singer sounded like a frakhorn with its tail cut off.

John had looked offended when he'd told him so, frowning as Teyla choked on her juice. Thankfully, he didn't know exactly was a frakhorn was and why getting its tail cut off was so hilarious but he'd been distracted by Rodney thumping his tray down on the table, snagging all their attention with some crazy close call he'd just skillfully diverted. Teyla had traded a catty look with Ronon and he gave her a quick grin. No one would ever explain it to Shepard if they could help it.

He took one more look at his room, nodding in approval at the set up. He only needed one more thing for everything to be perfect. As if on cue, his door chimed and opened, his mate striding in with one hand to his comm unit and a white knuckled grip around his tablet.

Rodney ground out a terse few words the tossed his comm unit across the room with s snarl. His tablet got flung unto the thin padded frame of Ronon's bunk and he walked straight into his lover's arms without breaking stride. Ronon grunted as he braced for impact, wrapping his arms around the other man as Rodney smushed his face into Ronon's massive pecks.

"Everyone on this god forsaken city can go take a long walk off the shortest pier." The genius mumbled against his mate's chest. "If one more person complains about some unimportant piece of tripe while I'm trying not to let this city sink to the bottom of the fucking ocean, I'm going to beach the city on the mainland and see how they like living on a mudflat."

Ronon chuckled, rubbing his hands up and down his lover's broad back, trailing a line of soft, open mouthed kisses down Rodney's cheek, jaw until he claimed that pouting mouth.

"Come on… You're overdue for your downtime. Zelenka and Biro will cover for you for the next 24 hours straight. I have something for you that will make you forget all of those assholes."

He bundled Rodney into the shower, sucking him off and fingering him until the man was lax and pliant against him. Drying him off tenderly, he brought the man to the nest and watched as his expression softened at the sight.

They ate the snacks and drank the sweet mulled wine that the Athosians made, soft fleece blankets and furs wrapped around their naked shoulders.

Once he had his lover warm, dry and sated, he lifted his lover by the hips and lowered him inch by inch unto his hard cock. Rodney keened against him, grasping at his shoulders and back as they were so intimately joined. With the steady pour of the rain outside their windows, the warmth of the heater, the soft touch of the nest and the wet, sucking heat of Rodney around him, Ronon knew true happiness.

He rolled them over, laying his mate gently unto the piled furs as he continued to rock into him, swallowing the soft sighs and whimpers that fell from his lover's lips. Maybe one day Rodney would allow Ronon to pup him. They were sure to make beautiful, smart and strong babies.

Rodney wasn't ready for that, maybe he never would be. Ronon would never push. Bringing new life to Pegasus was a hard decision, one to be made by the bearer in the end. But if they did had children, born to them both and raised on Atlantis with Rodney's brains and Ronon's strength; he knew in his heart of hearts that they would be survivors.

But that was talk for the future. In this moment he had a different goal. Working Rodney's body and pulling pleasure from him until he was boneless, blissed out and at peace within his ever turning brain. As his lover shuddered through what would be the first of many orgasms that night, Ronon could swear he could hear Rodney's comm bleating weakly.

He ignored it, rocking into his mate as he chased his own release. Zelenka and Biro could surely handle whatever problem had cropped up. Whoever was calling would soon get tired of trying to get Rodney and call one of the other two.

And if they didn't and came knocking on his door, looking to disturb his lover's well deserved rest before his 24 hours were over? Well, he'd make sure that they understood just how stupid of an idea that was.

Outside, the rain poured on.

Chapter Text

He'd ended up becoming the Witch of the Woods the summer of his fourteenth year, just before the leaves turned and the wind got cold. The old woman he'd been apprenticed too had disappeared one day into the deep shadows of the old woods and had left him alone.

He was fine though, having lived with her in their little crooked cottage with its wild garden and crooked fence since he was ten. It hadn't always been his dream to be the Witch of the Woods but life was what happened when you were making other plans.

His father had been a carpenter and his mother a seamstress, both taken too soon by influenza; leaving him alone and without prospects. No one had wanted the lanky, sallow faced boy with long stringy black hair which hung about his pointy chinned face.

He'd faced starvation amongst the so called good people of the village, his father's house and business taken over by ever so helpful distant family relatives.

With nothing left to lose, he'd walked into the forest with a jug of fresh milk and hand full of dried gladiolus, looking to either get entranced by the fae, lured to shadow by the goblin men or eaten by wolves.

Luckily or unluckily so, he'd come across the little crooked house with its little crooked fence and overgrown garden. With its seven cats of various colours and temperaments. With its bundles of dried herbs and flowers and giant clay pots of mysterious preserves.

He waited a month for the old woman to return, going through the motions of collecting swamp toad bile, harvesting the young bulb root of the myrtle blossom and curating the large collection of jars and bottles that she demanded by kept clean and organized.

That winter, when the villagers came to trade cured meat and fresh bread for potions and liniments for their ill, he'd negotiated shrewdly just as she'd taught him too.

By the next spring, people were accustomed to dealing with him and he'd already visited several homesteads to diagnose and treat several ailments. One farmer had thanked him as the Witch of the Woods as he was making his leave and from then on the title had landed on his shoulders just like that.

He visited his parents' graves the next day, laying a bundle of dried wild roses and sprigs of dried myrrh and meadowsweet. He would not visit them again. The boy who was their son was gone, leaving only the Witch.

He kept the cottage tidy. Took care of the cats as he learned learned their moods. He harvested from the overgrown gardens and took gifts of milk, sweet honey, fresh flowers and juicy, fat grubs to the creatures of the great forest. Renewing old truces with the beings that lived in the mist and the magic of such old growth.

He cares for his little crooked broom, the staff he cut himself from a strong sapling; the bristles harvested by moon light and re-twisted every day. He rubbed it with flax oil and tightened the weave of the bindings every fortnight.

With enough patience and belief, he would take to the skies for the first time on the salami night, with his long black cloak and his crooked hat; flying above the tree tops with the owls and other night birds as was a Witch's Rite of Passage.

He met a young red haired woman called Lily in the woods one day, so far from the wild haired little girl who used to make mud pies with him in old man Alberforth's field. She was as beautiful and headstrong as ever, seeking him out for conversations about things totally different from what girl's her age usually filled their minds with.

He let her help him gather herbs and taught her the secret paths through the thickest and darkest of the woods. She was a friend and he cherished their warmth and closeness.

She came to him crying one day. Her marriage had been arranged to a horrid boy with horrid, cruel friends. He took her into the crooked little cottage and sat her down, making her tea as cats crawled into her lap.

James Potter and Sirius Black were sons of Lords and spoiled rotten, glutted on the fruits of other's labour and Lily was utterly distraught at the prospect of being his wife and the mother of his children.

They hatched a plan to get her away from her awful fate, recruiting the help of a young werewolf boy named Remus to spirit Lily away to the north, through the deepest woods and into the kingdom of Nimue where she could be welcomed and cared for. They bade each other a tearful goodbye and he watched them disappear into the trees.

Potter ranted and raged while Black glared darkly from under a pitch black fringe. The village elders wouldn't allow either boy to bring harm to the Witch of the Wood but the duo proved clever and made his life miserable in other ways.

Small things like chase his cats and stone his windows. Set gophers and rabbits in his garden to damage the delicate plants and roots. They stoned his old clay jars, spoiling the decades old ointments and treatments inside. They broke his broom and scattered the bristles into the stream. They poisoned his goats and soured their milk, poured boiling water on his beehives and crushed the soft, sticky honey combs under their thick boots.

He was sitting in his ruined garden, crying unto his withered flowers when the werewolf boy, Remus, found him. The young man smiled at him, gently wiped his tears away and took his hand.

That night the little crooked house burned, with its little crooked fence and overgrown garden. The bottles of herbs and dried flowers cracked and melted, the old clay pots crumbled. The broken broom stick crackled and turned to ash while the black cloak and crooked little hat shriveled.

The Witch of the Wood watched the blaze from the trees, the warm strong arms of the werewolf boy, Remus, keeping him steady as his life burned.

He spoke his human name for the first time in years, leaving his title behind in the ashes of the past.

Severus, he whispered to the wind. The wolf boy smiled and kissed him on the mouth, taking him by the hand and tugging him into the deep shadow of the great forest.

No one in the village ever saw the Witch again.