Another wee fic from prompts, this time last month. A bit Halloweeny. 😛
* * *
It was weirdly quiet when Pip left the house. As in, there seemed to be nothing going on that penetrated the thick fog.
A little bit eerie. “Oooo, spooky,” Pip announced, his voice breaking the silence, but not by enough. It was like the fog swallowed it up, and okay. More than just a little bit eerie. “Come on, Ver!” he called out, trying to see through the tendrils of moist air that seemed to be reaching for him. “I know it’s Halloween, but this is sort of over the top, even for you!”
A laugh answered Pip’s words, low and fading, but he knew it was Ver. It had to be. “Gods damn it, can you please stop fucking with me? Save it for the stupid humans! And stop with the creepy laughing, because it’s creepy! Not melodious or mellifluous or whatever the hell you’re trying for, got it?”
Another chuckle reached Pip’s ears, just as more random bands of fog approached him and Pip groaned as he tightened his fingers around his pitchfork. “I swear, when I catch up with you, you’re SO going to regret this, Ver! You ugly son of a phooka!”
Well, that last part was a lie, but Pip didn’t take it back. Instead, he followed the quiet, slightly sinister sounding laughter and the fog… well, either it was far wider spread than Pip had thought, or the fog was following, too. Whether Ver or him, Pip couldn’t tell.
Cobblestones under his feet told him Ver was leading him through time, heading for whichever year had struck Ver’s fancy this time. The previous Halloween, it had been 1903. Ver had said it was because he hadn’t been then in a while, but Pip still suspected Ver had arranged it because of Pip’s fascination with airplanes. It really was a sweet thing for Ver to do, though Pip had never said as much. Never would, either.
“Gods above and below,” Pip groaned a few minutes or miles later. “How far are you taking me, Ver? These stupid horns are starting to itch!”
They were, too. Of course, that was what he got for actually wearing the little magic-adhesive things on his forehead. The faun he’d won them from in the yearly Wending Wood spell-off could have warned him, though.
Another laugh answered him, though it was a little louder, so either Pip was closer to Ver or the fog was thinning. Either one was fine with Pip. And the cobblestones became gravel, then pavement a few steps later. Small sounds were suddenly penetrating the damper of fog.
A car horn. Something that sounded like a whistle. A dog barking, followed by a voice shouting “Shut the hell up, Roscoe!”
A few more steps and there was grass beneath Pip’s feet. Then the fog really was thinning because he could see more than two feet in front of him.
The arms that wrapped around him from behind came as a surprise, but they were familiar. Known and strong and comfortable, all at once. “Close your eyes,” Ver whispered in his ear and Pip couldn’t stop himself from doing exactly that. “Careful, Pip. Let me guide you…”
Ver took him on some sort of winding walk, first shifting left, then right, then forward. Repeat. Left. Right. Forward.
It was kind of fun, Pip decided. Easy. Because as much as it wasn’t in his nature to trust, Ver was the exception to every rule. Had been for the last four hundred years in real-time, rather than four hundred years as the humans counted.
“Okay,” Ver murmured a short while later. “We’re here. You can open your eyes, Pip.”
And Pip did. He opened his eyes to see a blanket and a jug of wine. Bread and cheese and those Slim Jim meat sticks Pip loved that always made Ver cringe. A carved pumpkin sat in the middle of the blanket, glowing from the inside, then one of the sparkling lights swooped down from one of the surrounding trees and flew into the open grin of the gourd just as another flew out and Pip laughed.
“You must have called in all sorts of favors to get one of the Shining Swarms here,” Pip said then. “I mean, they usually want something more glamorous than a picnic to work!”
Ver grinned, sharp teeth nipping lightly at the side of Pip’s neck. “I promised them a roll of plastic wrap,” Ver admitted, “and a rubber ducky. They’ll be having a ball with those for months on the lake back home.”
Most days, Pip knew, he would be reminding Ver of just how dangerous it was to let even one mind of a Shining Swarm take things from one timeline to another, but most days weren’t right then, and… well, it was sort of their anniversary, anyway. “Four hundred and seven years today,” Pip said, smiling just a little. “It seems like less.”
“Since the night you set out to trap me and ended up seduced instead?” Ver smiled. Kissed Pip’s cheek. “You didn’t stand a chance, Pip. Though I have to say I like the horns and pitchfork better than the wings you were wearing then.”
Pip couldn’t do anything but smile, as well.
“Good thing, Veritas,” he answered as he folded himself down, settling on the blanket and reaching for a Slim Jim. “Seeing as you’re the one who’s responsible for my Fall and everything.”
They lazed there for what seemed like hours, or maybe just minutes. But that was fine, Pip knew. The moon glowing above them wasn’t moving at all, and that meant Ver had built them a time-bubble. There was some fancy name for it, some displacement of temporal advancement lah-di-dah thing, but time-bubble came close enough.
The Shining Swarm darted around, apparently having a good time in the trees, and Ver leaned in, kissed Pip long enough and hard enough that Pip knew his lips were probably bleeding a little from Ver’s sharp teeth, but that was fine. More than fine.
And later, when they were both naked and sated for the moment, Pip reached out, cupped Ver’s thin, sharp-featured face. “Have I told you lately just how much I don’t hate you, Ver?”
Ver — who Pip rarely called by his full name because it really didn’t suit Ver at all — grinned. Bit Pip’s palm hard enough to sting, then licked the small drops of blood away. “You have,” he answered, night-dark eyes glowing. “And I don’t hate you just as much.”
They would have to get up eventually; Pip knew that much. Get up, get dressed and get back to whatever year Ver had chosen to grace with their presence. Pip had a feeling that they’d be doing playful this time, though, rather than frightening.
And that was good, he decided. Sure it was fun scaring the humans whiter-than-white, but there was nothing wrong with just giving them a laugh or two, either. Everything in its time.
“So what’s the plan?” Pip said later, when the urge to move, to get on with it reasserted itself.
Ver grinned and handed the little horns to him, then went back to getting dressed. “There’s this Haunted House in Salem that could use our… attention, Pip. How about it?”
“Sounds like fun,” Pip agreed, pressing the horns to his forehead and muttering the words that made them stick. “Let’s go.”
And they did.