calliope_love: (Break/Liam: Fluffy)
Callie ([personal profile] calliope_love) wrote2011-06-29 12:25 am

26: Happy birthday to my secretary!

Title: Heatwave
Rating: Nothing exciting here.
Disclaimer: Nope.

Summary: Most of you know by now that [livejournal.com profile] their_kingdom is my secretary. She betas my fic, discusses new chapters with me, and tolerates my ego, which is roughly the size of Manhattan and requires a lot by way of sacrificial offerings to keep it happy. But she does more than that, too. She tells me not to push when I should not be pushing. She acknowledges it when I go out of my way to be civil to people, even if it's not directed at her. She gets me books because they're honest and movies because I need to see them, and still comes to talk to me alone sometimes amidst all the brilliant people we know.

And so I have written her a fic for her birthday. I'm really rusty at the moment, so I don't think it's the best I can do. But I wanted it to be a fic just for her, and so it had to be a fic free of all the angst that's been weighing things down of late. It's not a fic about blindness or impending death or that stupid party. It's a fic about Break and Liam being Break and Liam on a day that wasn't overly notable. I believe I've succeeded in that, at least.

Length: 1,626



The heat was so awful it sat on your skin like a thick, wet towel, and it wasn’t even August yet. Everyone kept hoping it was only a short spell of evil weather, but then it lasted a full week, and then it lasted another few days after that, and all the grass was turning brown and the local songbirds just sat around and panted and the horses that were supposed to be shuffling noble carriages about refused to go anywhere or do anything. Fewer and fewer people appeared to work at Pandora as the days passed, which suited Liam just fine -- without all these idiots getting in his way and mucking up his workflow, he could actually make some real progress in his never-ending backlog of things to do.

Not that he was being particularly diligent just then. His office might as well have been a sauna; the windows were open but there wasn’t so much as a puff of a breeze, and Liam had actually surrendered enough to strip down to his undershirt and trousers, roll up his sleeves, and kick off his shoes. One of the papers he was supposed to be looking at was serving as a half-hearted fan as he sprawled awkwardly across his chair and gazed out the window, debating stealing one of Barma’s proper fans at some point in the very near future.

Oh, but Barma’s stupid fans were heavy. Like he actually wanted to sit there waving around one of those. Ugh.

Having reached the conclusion that a fan was too much effort, Liam began honestly considering going to the washroom and sticking his head under the faucet in the sink. He was still weighing the pros and cons of doing so when one of the idiots who liked to keep him from working appeared in the office door in a similar state of undress, dragging his coat along on the floor behind him. The other man took a few steps into the room, and then flopped unceremoniously onto the floor in front of Liam’s desk.

Liam scowled at his desk, mostly because it was now obstructing his view of the body. Grumbling, Liam leeeeeaned over until he could make out the top of the other’s head and said, “Xerxes Break, if you gave yourself a heat stroke walking here, I am leaving you right where you are and you can just suffer.”

“I walked here,” came the reply from the carpet, “but I do not have a heat stroke.”

Liam’s eyes rolled. Then, since he was already leaning over and it wouldn’t take much to go the rest of the way -- and since no one was there to frown at him anyway -- Liam flopped down on the floor too and dragged himself across the carpet until he was close enough to reach out and ruffle Break’s hair. Said hair was sweaty and a bit clumped and had gone all sad and flat about five hours into the heatwave, but Liam ruffled it anway.

Break lifted his head just enough to glare at Liam and then resumed his close inspection of the carpet. Noting that Xerxes was sweating and breathing and glowering just fine, Liam decided he probably didn’t have heat stroke and rolled over onto his back, plucking at his clinging shirt.

“The Rainsworths are in unpleasant moods,” Break noted a few minutes later, giving the reason for his decision to actually show up at work for the day.

“That reeks of ‘understatement’,” Liam said dryly. He knew from experience that they often got testy in hot weather, owing to having to cart around so much fabric upon their persons. He had always felt it to be rather understandable.

“Lady Cheryl,” continued Break, “has a bunch of servants sitting in a circle around her, all waving fans.”

“That’s nice of her. If they’re in a circle the servants can get a bit of air, too.”

“Mm. ...is there any iced tea?”

“There isn’t any ice.”

“Oh.”

There was silence for a while after that. Complete and utter silence, because there was really no one else in the building that day and all the wildlife on the grounds was contemplating suicide. At length, Break rolled over as well and asked, “Shall we go out and have a swim in the fish pond?”

“I am not yet desperate enough to have a swim in the fish pond,” Liam told him. Maybe in another day or two.

“You used to love swimming, when you were little.”

“No, you used to love picking me up and throwing me in the pond whether I wanted to be in there or not.”

“Not true, not true. You liked being picked up, too --”

“I did not, I hated being picked up. You are either remembering it wrong or lying on purpose, just to try and convince me I’m deluded again.”

“So mean. And here I thought all the kicking and screaming was rapturous joy, all these years.”

“You’re an idiot, Xerxes.”

This established for the one hundred thousandth time (give or take a few), the conversation subsided again. A small snatch of wind drifted in through the window and tried in vain to push a bit of paper around before it quietly died. Liam felt a bit of sweat trickle down his temple.

“Xerxes?” he asked. An idea had just occurred to him -- the archives in the basement, albeit full of dust, was usually cooler than the rest of Pandora. Perhaps they could go lurk there. But no answer came, so Liam tilted his head towards Break and found him fast asleep.

He gave a wan smile. Liam had spent enough nights cuddled up to Break and Sharon as a child to know that the line between what he found comfortably toasty and far too hot was a thin one, and it was likely Break had hardly slept since the heat wave started. He could imagine the older man tossing and turning in his bed. And also flailing and drooping and slumping, and wishing he had someone to wake up and complain at; how fortunate for Liam that it was too hot for him to bother to get up and find someone.

Quietly, Liam watched him. He looked different, asleep. Break was difficult to really get a feel for on an entirely visual level because the way he showed his age was in how he carried himself rather than how he looked; as he slept, all that fell away, and Liam was reminded that Break hadn’t really been much older than he was when he contracted the Mad Hatter. One person had told him that sometimes, when Xerxes was really relaxed, the two of them looked for all the world like two very dear friends who had grown up together.

Maybe that was actually the best way to describe them. He’d thought about it often since, and he really couldn’t find a better one. He never shared the notion with Xerxes, though.




Liam didn’t realize he’d dozed off himself until a loud clap of thunder startled him awake again. The first thing he noticed was the rustling of the papers from the wind in his office; finally, finally, the heat was breaking in a thunderstorm, like a particularly tenacious fever.

The second thing he noticed, when he lifted his head, was the fact that Break was hanging half out of the window, thoroughly enjoying letting himself and everything around him get drenched by the rain.

“Xerxes Break!” Liam lunged to his feet and dove for the window, reaching out to grab the handle and swing it closed.

“Mister Liam, let’s go find some puddles to splash in!” Break scooted right up to Liam and wrapped himself around his arm, probably for the sole purpose of getting water all over him.

“No! We’ll get struck by lightning, we’re staying in here.” The sudden awakening and the sight of Xerxes about to take a nosedive from a third-floor office had Liam wide awake and reeling from adrenaline; then once the window was shut he realized his glasses had been dribbled on by the rain, and the whole mess flustered him so badly that he very nearly forgot to place his hand on Break’s cheek and attempt to shove him off.

Break, on the other hand, seemed invigorated by his nap and the brief bit of wind. He pouted at Liam for only a moment before he whirled around and grabbed up Liam’s shoes from where he’d placed them, neat beside his desk. Then he got up and ran out of the room with them.

“Xerxes! Bring those back, you asshole!” Liam leapt to his feet and glanced around his office; now that it was starting to cool down enough to think, he ought to get back to work. But his papers had become a disorganized mess, blown about hither and yon, and no one was going to head into Pandora this late in the day. And so, although he was already resigned to the fact that by the time he caught up with Break the other man would have hidden his shoes in some impossible-to-find place, Liam ran out of his office and tore barefoot down the hall after him.

His hunch was correct; though Break let Liam chase him down the stairs and through the library and up the stairs and around the big table in the meeting room, by the time he decided to let Liam knock him down just outside the kitchens, the shoes were long gone. Liam would find them months later, housing a pair of young koi in the fish pond.

[identity profile] animaven.livejournal.com 2011-06-29 08:53 am (UTC)(link)
Your heat-wave made me long for a tall glass of iced tea. Break is so adorable, tossing Liam's shoes into the Koi pond. Bet he was wishing it was Liam instead.