Ethan blinked awake to a light tapping on his window, squinting at the dark shadow on the other side of the thin curtains for a moment as he debated how to proceed. There was a small whimper from the being on the other side of the glass and the blond heaved a sigh, throwing his covers back and padding over to the window to pull the curtains open.
Sunlight flooded in and Ethan squinted against the sharp throb in his eyes as they adjusted to the sudden change of lighting, blinking rapidly until his vision cleared. The Lycan perked up upon seeing the youngest Lord, taking the basket that was diligently tucked into the crook of its arm and offering it to the blond. Ethan unlatched his window, pushing the panes outward before crossing his arms on the sill to greet the beast with a smile.
“Is it morning already? I feel like I barely slept at all.” The blond sighed as he reached out to accept the gift, his gaze immediately honing in on the goods packed inside.
The first thing that caught his eye was the plethora of fresh fruits, which were meticulously sliced and neatly arranged in little containers that Ethan felt the insane urge to coo at because apparently tiny metal-infused boxes of cut fruit gave him a massive dose of serotonin.
The next thing that arrested his attention was the strange stack of crescent-moon shaped flaky bread that was wrapped in a cloth to keep the baked treats warm. He delicately picked one up and examined it, squinting at the layered bread as if it held the answers to the universe. Unfortunately, it didn’t.
Ethan shrugged, sinking his teeth into the baked good, and immediately groaned as the light, buttery taste hit his tongue.
Jesus, Karl really outdid himself this time.
He polished off the first yummy treat in three heaping bites before grabbing another, stuffing his face with around five before he realized that he had an audience.
He blinked at the Lycan, who shuffled closer to bump it’s head against the blond’s arm with a pleased rumble once it’s presence was acknowledged. Ethan huffed a sheepish laugh and patted the beast’s head, his face heating at his own gluttonous display.
“Thankfully, you were the only one around to see that.”
The blond grimaced at the thought of just how much teasing he would’ve been subjected to had Karl been the one to witness him stuffing his face. Ethan resolutely pushed aside his ravenous hunger to rummage through the rest of the prepared meal, unpacking the items onto the sill while the Lycan watched on with curiosity. There were strawberry tarts and scones and even some packets of Donna’s special blend of tea that the blond loved.
God, Ethan was so fucking spoiled.
He eagerly dug into the thick slices of perfectly-cooked bacon, occasionally breaking off a chunk and handing it to the Lycan.
The creature would always enthusiastically lean forward, its hook-like teeth gently taking the tasty morsel from the blond’s fingers. It was sweet and made Ethan want to give it more, so he kept passing the beast little bites of various items in the basket. As expected, the Lycan wasn’t fond of the fruit or the tarts. But it tolerated the bread and -unsurprisingly- absolutely loved the hickory smoked bacon and maple sausage links.
Once the basket had been cleared of its gifts, he brought the empty containers, tea and scones inside.
He put the dirty tupperware in the sink to be washed before tucking the other items away into a random cupboard, turning to grab the basket when he noticed something poking out of the small and fuzzy pine green blanket that had been used for padding. He pinched the corner and pulled it free, barking a laugh when he saw that it was a note.
There’s more where that came from. Stop by for lunch?
-The amazing and gracious Lord who feeds your hopeless ass
The blond shook his head fondly as his eyes swept over the words, only Karl could manage to make a short note both simple and to the point yet playful all at once. The man was talented, Ethan had to give him that.
“Looks like I have a lunch date.” The blond hummed, moving over to the fridge and pinching one of the magnets in order to stick the cute note onto the finicky appliance. He stepped back to appreciate its existence before meandering back over to the window, where the Lycan dutifully waited. He grabbed a conveniently nearby notebook and scribbled his response before tearing the paper out and folding it up, extending it to the beast.
“Bring this to Heisenberg for me?” Ethan inquired, affectionately ruffling the Lycan’s dark hair when it obediently took the note and tucked it away into the front pocket of its torn up jeans.
“Thank you.” The blond called when the creature turned and bolted into the forest on all fours, quickly vanishing from view as it bounded into the dense woodland.
“Well, guess that solves my question of what I’m going to eat today. I wonder if he’ll let me stay for dinner too…”
Right, dumb question.
As soon as the blond stepped foot into the man’s territory, all Karl did for the entirety of his stay was try to talk Ethan into sticking around for as long as possible. The blond had an inkling that it had something to do with the metal Lord’s late-night visits to Ethan’s room for a cuddle session during those instances where he caved and agreed to sleep over.
Ethan watched the clock that was hung up in his living room as he waited for time to tick closer to lunch so he could eat a feast fit for a king, figuring that it couldn’t hurt to be a bit early when the clock’s hands read 10:33 am.
Karl wouldn’t mind, the blond was certain of that.
So Ethan happily packed all his over-night necessities into his trusty shoulder bag before shrugging on his jacket and pushing out the front door, making sure to lock it behind him. He started down the path at a light jog, reveling in the cool spring breeze that rustled his clothes. His bare feet dug into the dirt, pushing himself faster and faster until the trees and foliage were a blur of green and brown.
He burst forth from the hidden trail with a shout of warning, yelping an apology when he narrowly avoided a collision with a man that was pushing a wheelbarrow of freshly dug-up potatoes. The blond ate up the distance between himself and the factory, changing course from his usual path through the Village on a whim in order to take the scenic route through the forest.
A few of the Lycans that he sprinted past instinctively gave chase, yipping and howling as they tore after the blond. He proudly noted that he’d managed to stay ahead of the mob that he had collected, which dispersed once he hit the edge of the forest.
Ethan dug his feet into the ground when the tall rocks that surrounded the factory came into view, ripping up grass and dirt alike as he slid to a halt in front of the jagged slope. The blond reached up to wrap his fingers over one of the many hand-holds he had spotted at first glance and he lifted himself off the ground.
After several slips, almost-falls and many colorful curses, Ethan triumphantly dropped down into the property.
The blond took a minute to stretch out his aching limbs before wandering toward the massive factory. The blond carefully made his way around heaping piles of scrap and various broken metal appliances, perking up when he spotted Karl in the distance.
The man was crouched behind a wall of metal that came up to his chest, leaning to the side in order to peek around the barrier. There was a weird red stick in his hand, but Ethan couldn’t properly identify it from where he stood.
There was a faint hissing coming from close by, but the blond thought nothing of it.
“Karl!” Ethan called with a wave, smiling when the metal Lord’s head jerked up to frantically look around. The man’s eyes widened when he saw the blond, the smoldering cigar falling from his parted lips.
“Ethan! RUN!” Karl barked as he braced his hand on the wall before gracefully vaulting over the obstruction, hitting the ground on all fours to charge toward the bewildered blond.
Ethan backpedaled, alarmed by the rapid approach.
There was a soft crackle before his vision was abruptly swallowed by a bright light that was followed by the loud crack of thunder, the blond blinking rapidly only to find that he had somehow ended up on his back.
Ethan became aware of an intense ringing in his ears as he tried to reorient himself, grunting as his entire body protested when he shifted. There was another bright flash and heat seared along his left arm, the blond scrambling away from the source of the pain with a shout that he felt more than heard.
Something slammed into him and he was unceremoniously laid out flat on the ground again, the blond blindly grabbing onto coarse fabric. When a large calloused hand settled onto the back of Ethan’s head to press the blonde’s face into the space where neck met shoulder, he could smell grease and cigar smoke and sweat.
He wrapped his arms around the man, grabbing fistfuls of the man’s trench coat as the ground rumbled and shook underneath him. He could hear the deafening clang of metal hitting metal before the sun was suddenly blotted out, leaving the both of them in complete darkness. Ethan tried to ask the man what was going on, but all he could hear was the high-pitched whine in his ears.
He grit his teeth when Karl’s chest vibrated, but the blond just couldn’t make out what the other Lord was saying. He wondered what the man’s intentions were when the other Lord’s hands wandered over Ethan’s person, searching for something. The prodding fingers paused when the pads of the calloused digits brushed against the raw skin that made up the majority of the blonde’s arm, having found what he’d been looking for.
Ethan felt more vibrations in Karl’s chest as he spoke, the metal Lord’s touch gentling as he took the blonde’s wrist and lightly tugged until Ethan conceded and allowed Karl to bring it up to his face. There was the rhythmic puffs of breath against the sensitive flesh as the man sniffed at the wound, Karl saying something else before the barrier of metal that the man had cocooned them in started to systematically dismantle itself.
Ethan had to squint when light flooded in, blinding him for a few moments before his eyes got used to the sudden shift from pitch darkness to bright sunlight. The blond startled when Karl’s hand grabbed his chin in order to turn his head, the man’s other hand reaching out to swipe just under his ear. Ethan grimaced when the metal Lord’s fingers came away from his head with a smear of black.
Well, that explained why he couldn’t hear anything.
Karl wiped his hand onto his trench coat before shifting to push himself to his full height, looming over a disoriented Ethan for a moment before the other Lord leaned down to grab the blond’s wrists. The man pulled him up off the ground only for Ethan to wobble as soon as he was on his own two feet, suddenly reminded that ruptured eardrums meant that the blond’s balance was also shot.
Fantastic, just what he needed.
Karl didn’t seem put off by the fact that Ethan currently embodied a drunk fawn, merely adjusting his stance to take more of the blonde’s weight. The metal Lord was all but carrying Ethan as they made their way toward the factory, relief surging through the blond when he discovered that could just barely make out the loud clunk and hiss of the various machinery when they entered the massive building.
His eardrums were already well on their way to healing, which was good because Karl was still talking.
Rambling meant that the other Lord was way out of his depth and knew it, rambling meant that he was trying to calm himself down so that his instincts didn’t take the reins. So Ethan slumped into Karl more, giving the man something else to focus on other than what was making him so distressed. It worked, the metal Lord’s babbling tapering off as he hooked an arm under the blonde’s knee and lifted the taller Lord clear off the ground in a bridal carry.
Ethan...may have miscalculated.
At least the metal Lord had fallen more or less silent save for what was probably a witty quip here and there before they arrived at the lab. The blond shivered, vaguely recalling the mind-fuckery that’d taken place after Karl had nearly splattered his brains on the wall when the blond startled him awake.
His grip on the other Lord’s trench coat tightened when the man tried to deposit Ethan onto the metal examination table.
Karl was talking again and, while he still couldn’t hear the words, the blonde’s damaged ears did register the gentle tone in which the metal Lord spoke. Ethan reluctantly loosened his grip on the other when the man gently encircled his wrists and lightly tugged -a silent bid for trust that the blond would never even consider refusing- so Ethan didn’t resist when Karl guided the taller Lord’s hands away from his person.
The other man tied his hair up into a half-assed bun with a rubber band before he quickly went about gathering a plethora of medical supplies, frequently looking at the blond over his shoulder all the while.
Ethan diligently extended his injured arm when Karl pulled up a chair beside the table, the metal Lord taking the limb and examining it with a critical eye.
“It’s not...bad...thought...be.” The man murmured and the blond perked up upon hearing snippets of his sentence, Karl glancing at Ethan when he shifted. The metal Lord’s lips curled into a relieved smile when he saw the -no doubt- delighted grin on the blond’s face.
“Hearing...back, huh? I’ll...you had...worried there.” Karl grunted as he rummaged through his heap of supplies, procuring a small tin that probably contained some kind of salve. The metal Lord twisted the lid then flicked it off once the cap was loose enough, the ridiculous method pulling a laugh from Ethan.
The sound made Karl’s smile turn lopsided and fond, the man scooping up a generous dollop and deftly applying it to the burned flesh. He was careful, his touch light in order to avoid causing the blond unnecessary pain.
“So, what was that stuff anyway? It packed one hell of a punch.”
Ethan was put at ease when he heard his own voice, even with as wobbly and tired as it was. Karl didn’t even look up from where he was slathering the blond’s arm in the viscous salve when he replied.
Ethan’s brows furrowed, the word was familiar and he wracked his brain for where he’d heard it before.
“Dynamite? Like, the explosive?”
He turned his head on the table in order to stare at the top of the metal Lord’s head as the man worked.
Was Karl’s noncommittal response as he screwed the cap back onto the jar of salve and turned to grab some bandages, unwinding a length from the roll before ripping it with his canine. Ethan made a face at the unsanitary action but didn’t bother scolding the man about it.
“What were you doing with it?” He asked instead and Karl paused his attempts at swaddling the blond’s arm in bandages.
“Needed to put another pipe into the ground.”
Karl’s voice was… off somehow but Ethan couldn’t get a look at his expression so he didn’t know what was going through the metal Lord’s head.
“And you decided to use dynamite?” The blond asked incredulously and Karl scoffed as he taped off the end of the bandage up by Ethan’s shoulder.
“What can I say? I like living dangerously.” The man drawled sarcastically, but there was an undertone of something in his voice that the blond had never heard from the metal Lord before.
“I don’t!” Ethan objected and Karl grit his teeth, the blond abruptly recognizing the pinched expression on the other Lord’s face as guilt. Ethan had a moment to wonder why that emotion was coloring the man’s features before the metal Lord sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose.
“Look, you came in from… a fucking weird place -I do have a front door you know- and I wasn’t expecting you until later so this was not my fault.”
While Karl may have claimed the opposite, it was clear that he was very much blaming himself for the incident. The blond reached out to grab the other Lord’s wrist, drawing his hand away from his face so Ethan could look Karl right in the eyes.
“I know. I just...worry about you.” The blond confessed, absentmindedly fiddling with Karl’s fingers.
“Yeah, well likewise. So be more careful in the future and use the fucking front gate, idiot.” The man grunted, allowing the soothing touch. Ethan used his grip on Karl’s wrist to pull the metal Lord closer, his free hand patting the space next to him. The man settled in the offered spot without complaint, which indicated that he was really rattled by what happened.
The metal Lord leaned into Ethan’s uninjured side, burying his nose into the blond’s hair to inhale deeply. Ethan managed to restrain the almost overwhelming urge to roll his eyes at the animalistic behavior and just let the man do what he needed to do in order to alleviate some of his misplaced guilt.
The blond nudged at the man with his shoulder after a few minutes of obnoxious sniffing, prompting the man to lean back a bit so Ethan could bump their foreheads together.
“I can do that.”