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Unforseen munificence

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Caldina was, generally, generous with only certain things - most of which belonged to other people. But for those she considered ‘hers’, she gave randomly and without hesitation - time, attention, anything she had - and anything she thought they might need.

It was just that there were a very limited set of people she considered ‘hers’, and one of them was apparently a detective who was too straight-laced to accept anything from a criminal he was intently trying to catch. Ascot, on the other hand, had been running about the world with her for years, and he was no stranger to the random and unforeseeable acts of generosity she bestowed. …Not that she’d done anything quite like this before.

Staring about the little apartment they’d rented for a few days while they sorted some new identification, Ascot heard the door open behind him, and flushed bright red, biting his lip against a hundred broken excuses.

“Hey, Caldina? What’s this network problem you’re hav- oh.” Zazu said, and came over to stand beside Ascot, looking about. “…Huh.”

“Caldina did it!” Ascot blurted, unable to look Zazu in the face, not sure he really wanted to be looking at the rest of the place either - Caldina had, somehow, managed to transform a normal tiny living-room into… well, something that resembled a fancy restaurant crossed with a bordello. There were red roses, and chocolates, and velvet curtains and gauzy cloths draped over the lamps so the whole place looked warm instead of soullessly blank.

Zazu snickered slightly, beside him. “I kinda guessed that,” he said, then he got quiet - and glanced up at Ascot, who still couldn’t look at him.

Three months they’d known each other, and he’d wanted - wanted something since the first night he heard Zazu unapologetically telling his computers good night as he shut them down to box them up so they could get packed carefully in the car. The something had been better defined by the day, each time Zazu grinned, or got enthusiastic about the weirdest things, or did an illegal u-turn because he’d seen something cool he wanted to show Ascot. But he hadn’t said anything, he wouldn’t know how - and now Zazu would know, and-

“Hey,” Zazu said, quieter, bumping his shoulder against Ascot’s and not forcing him to make eye-contact. “It’s okay, if you don’t want to have dinner with me you can just tell me, it’s fine. Caldina gets excited sometimes, doesn’t mean she’s right.”

“We eat together all the time,” Ascot protested, then winced.

“Yeah, but there’s eating dinner and then there’s eating dinner. Not that we couldn’t just do the first even in a room full of roses, if you just want to ignore them and have food! That’s cool too! But if you did want to - I mean, this isn’t what I’d have picked for a first date, but we’re kinda meant to be staying out of public view at the moment, so I guess it works-” Ascot’s heart thumped almost painfully, and he half-turned so he could actually see Zazu looking speculatively at the covered plates on the table. “I wonder what she figured was appropriate food though, do you reckon it’s as subtle as the room? Or, I don’t know, oysters and chocolate or-”

“Do you want to have dinner with me?” Ascot said, all in a rush, and if his cheeks got any hotter he was actually going to catch fire. But Zazu looked up at him, warm eyes crinkled into a smile.

“Food-dinner, or date-dinner?” he asked, then before Ascot could respond added “The answer is yes either way, but which do you want?”

“Really? You-” Words failing him, Ascot just stared at Zazu. Who, fortunately, was not frozen. He stepped in close, sliding a hand up across Ascot’s cheek with the same care he used on the machines and the computers he loved. His touch asked, rather than pulling him down; Ascot answered by leaning in, reaching shaking hands to Zazu’s arms and hesitating with their lips only inches away when his panicking brain shot out a high-priority reminder that he didn’t know how to kiss anyone-

Zazu closed the distance, and the alarms in Ascot’s head shut off abruptly, along with all other thoughts beyond yes and closer.

Several minutes later, Zazu pulled away far enough to mutter ‘dinner?” against Ascot’s neck, making him shudder as Zazu’s breath hit his skin.

“Caldina’s practical about some things. It’ll reheat,” Ascot murmured, with a glance across the room where there was a small sofa - the kind of size where you ended up snuggling even if you didn’t mean to - littered with cushions. “If you wanted to do this a bit more, that is, or-”

“I don’t want to go too fast and have either of us panic, that’s all,” Zazu muttered. “I’ve waited months, I can wait a bit longer before kissing you some more. Probably.”

“Do you want to?” Ascot asked.

Looking up at him, Zazu took a deep breath. “No.”

“…Do you want to move to the sofa?”

“Yes,” Zazu said, a hint of a flush on his cheeks too, and Ascot was the reason he was breathing hard, eyes wide.

Leaning in, breathless with happiness, Ascot kissed him again. The sofa could wait a moment.


The plates, when they eventually got that far, were empty - except for a note which read ‘dinner’s in the fridge!’ with a winking face next to it. Ascot snorted when he saw it. He would have to work out some way of thanking Caldina, somehow - while getting her to promise not to do anything like this again, because no one needed this many roses.

…The fancy take-away and the giant chocolate pudding, though, that she could repeat.