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After the Battle, a fanfic for In Other Lands (M)


queenie

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So I just finished In Other Lands, the greatest book of all time, and immediately wrote a gratuitous self-indulgent fanfiction about it. It isn’t super fetishy because it didn’t suit the story but I feel more comfortable posting h/c sickfic content here than anywhere else, so I thought I’d give it a shot. 

If you haven’t read the book, you should, and my fic will spoil a thing or two if you skip ahead, but it should still make sense as long as you know that it’s an offbeat fantasy world where teens are trained up as warriors and diplomats to support a war economy. Elliot is a little shit but still somehow he’s the best at ending wars, and the two best warriors are his favorite people  

This takes place a few months to a year after the end of the book. 

Here goes!

———————

Elliot had not gotten better at remaining calm when Luke and Serene were in danger. If anything, now that he’d had a little practice expressing his emotions, he’d gotten worse at not being keyed-up the whole time they were away.

Even Golden, a sheltered tender flower of elven manhood who’d been married to Serene less than a year, had started to look at Elliot with pity when he snapped at someone. Which he was doing a lot. It was really slowing the treaty negotiations down.

His sense of accomplishment at finally coming to terms with the spider-people (of all things— their syntax was very tricky compared to English, he’sd had a bear of a time) was a little hampered by the fact that his best friend and boyfriend still had several days of riding through battlefields before they’d be safely back at the camp. The war was over, technically, but that had never stopped stupid violent types from being stupid and violent. And those spider-people had some wicked fangs.

When the troops came riding over the horizon, Elliot’s anxiety intensified because Luke and Serene were not in the lead like usual. Historically, this was a sign that one or both of them had done something ill-advised. Neither of them was super breakable, by human standards, but that didn’t  mean their heroism wasn’t risky, so it was very irritating that they insisted on doing it.

He’d pretty much given up trying to get them to stop it, though. It was the way they were, like Elliot was mean.

One good thing about their having tricked him into becoming a runner was that he could take off through the returning soldiers to look for them, and almost not make a complete fool of himself while he did it.

Golden hung back atop his noble steed to await his wife’s approach, because he was a very respectable gentleman.

He found them toward the rear of the party, riding side by side at a leisurely pace like they didn’t know he was tearing himself to pieces hoping to see their dumb perfect faces attached to bodies that were all in one piece. They looked a little shocked to see him but not that shocked, because if they were honest with themselves they’d have to know that running out into the middle of a pack of returning warriors on horseback with no care about getting trampled was exactly the kind of thing Elliot would do. He’d been pretty clear about it over the last six years.

“Well met, Elliot,” Serene said, arcing one elegant eyebrow. “Join me on my steed above the fray.”

Elliot shot a questioning look at Luke— it wasn’t really like him to resist the opportunity to play hero and scoop Elliot up in his winged embrace— but Luke just offered him a soft smile and said “Hi,” so Elliot let Serene lift him up behind her on her horse.

The horse didn’t seem super pleased about it, but neither was Elliot, so the horse could fucking deal.

When they arrived back at the base camp, Serene dismounted and ran to her husband without sparing Elliot a second glance. He averted his eyes and smirks at Luke.

“Well, loser,” he said, “are you going to help me down or what?”

Luke smiled at him again, but it wasn’t exactly the wave of brilliance he expected from Luke Sunborn. He jumped down from his own horse easily— it was hot but annoying that he didn’t have to worry about breaking his stupid perfect ankles when he did shit like that, laws of physics be damned before his superior physiology— but when he raised his arms to help Elliot down, he was shaking a little and breathing heavily.

Luke didn’t get winded, in the usual course of things. Elliot frowned. “What’s wrong with you?”

Luke sighed. “Nothing. I’m just tired.”

“Bullshit,” Elliot said. “You’re hurt. What happened? Do you need to go to the infirmary?”

No,” Luke said, running a hand through his hair, which was lovely and obedient and somehow never had feathers in it even though Elliot, whose body didn’t even produce feathers, constantly had a whole nest’s worth tangled on top of his head.

“I just need to go to bed,” Luke continued.

“I don’t believe you,” Elliot said.

“Of course you don’t,” Luke sighed

“When we get back, I’m examining you for wounds,” Elliot warned him. “If I find one, I’m going to stick my hand in it.”

“I don’t have any wounds,” Luke said. “I don’t lie to you.”

“Tell it to Dale Wavechaser,” Elliot snapped. He wrapped his arm around Luke’s waist and was gratified but a little worried as Luke leaned against him. “Easy, loser. You’re too heavy for me to carry.”

“I can fly,” Luke groused. He didn’t take his weight all the way off Elliot, but he didn’t lean all the way in either. He knew his muscle was heavier than whatever Elliot was made of.

Serene and Golden followed behind them all the way back to their room, giggling sweet nothings to each other. It was revolting, but also adorable.

Luke hadn’t tried to kiss him, which was another bad sign.

Elliot barely let the door close behind them before he unclasped Luke’s cloak and started tugging at Luke’s shirt. “Come on, get it off, let me look at you.”

Luke got a furrow in between his golden brows. It made him look distinguished, like a statue. “I just want—”

“Now, loser!” Elliot snapped his fingers. “I know you’re not too stupid to recognize a direct order, I’ve seen you at training.”

“Elliot,” Serene said in a cool voice, “might this really be the time for—”

“No, it’s fine,” Luke told her, already peeling off his shirt despite a distinct embarrassed flush to his ears. “If it will make him shut up, he can do whatever he wants.”

“Nothing will make me shut up, as you well know.” Elliot ran his eyes, and then his hands, over his boyfriend’s torso, then his legs. There was a little bruising under all the dirt but none of it seemed like it would bother Luke much. He wasn’t easily bothered.

Elliot pulled back. “There’s nothing wrong with you,” he said. “Well, no, I wouldn’t say there’s nothing wrong with you, but you don’t have any injuries.”

“I told you I didn’t,” Luke said, his wings ruffling behind him. “Can I please go to bed now?”

Serene had politely averted her eyes, but Golden was looking on with a puzzled interest.

Luke brought one hand to his face to rub at the bridge of his nose. Elliot had seen people do this many, many times while in his presence, but Luke didn’t look annoyed with him. Not more than usual, anyway. No, he looked…

Luke’s head dipped forward and his eyes squeezed shut as he sneezed a powerful but restrained heUh-sscht.

All at once, Elliot realized what he was looking at.

“You’re sick,” he accused.

Luke’s pinkness spread from his ears to his cheeks and down his neck, like he was embarrassed to have a cold, or any of the failings associated with a mortal body at all. It was idiotic. It was also very beautiful.

Serene crossed the room to lay one ivory hand on the back of Luke’s golden neck. “Luke has contracted a slight chill, owing to his delicate male constitution.”

Luke shook her off. “I’m fine,” he said, but now that Elliot was listening for it his voice washoarse. He coughed a little and sniffled. The noise grated on Elliot’s nerves.

“You need to be in bed,” he said, shoving Luke toward the bed they share.

“That’s what I was trying to do,” Luke complained, “but you insisted on stripping me first.” If Elliot didn’t know that Sunborns were too honorable to whine, he would think Luke was whining. He may have to confront the possibility that Luke was cranky when he was sick.

“It’s not my fault you’re too stoic for your own good,” Elliot said, which was true. More than once Luke had  come home from some campaign or other claiming to be okay, only to turn out to have a hundred broken ribs and a concussion, so Elliot  couldn’t be blamed for not trusting his word. And it turned out this time he was lying too, because Luke said he was tired, and tired was not the same thing as sick.

He did look tired, though, as he ducked his head with another hUh-scht.

“Get in bed, loser,” he said, but his voice had gone gentle despite himself.

Serene cleared her throat. “I don’t think it’s wise to ravish him at this time.”

Elliot whirled on her while Luke broke into outraged coughing behind him. “You can’t honestly think I’d take advantage in this state.” He gestured at his pathetic boyfriend, who was struggling to breathe. “I mean, look at him. Does that look attractive?”

It did. Luke could make any look work, even exhausted, flushed and sniffling. Elliot would definitely still have sex with him.

It seemed unlikely that Luke would want to have sex right now, though. That was probably not the kind of going to bed he was after.

“Thanks ever so,” Luke muttered anyway, as he retreated to the bed.

Golden stepped between Serene and Elliot, laying his hand on his wife’s arm. “I believe we will take our leave now, and let the invalid take his rest.”

“Kill me,” Luke groaned.

“No, thank you,” Elliot told him as the door closes behind the elves. “I kind of like you alive.”

Luke looked up at him through red-rimmed eyes. “Only kind of?”

Elliot snorted. “Don’t push it.”

Luke sneezed again.

Elliot decided to take pity on him and retrieve a handkerchief. “Only you could go off to war and manage to come back with a cold.”

“You could definitely do it,” Luke argued congestedly, accepting the handkerchief. “More likely than me, with all that shivering. And all those strangers you touch.” He blew his nose with a disgusting squelching sound.

Elliot winced. “I’m naturally charming and have respect for other cultures. Someone has to have peace talks while you’re busy hitting things and hiding from social situations.”

It was true that he got sick more often than Luke, though. Inferior biology, he supposed. He couldn’t remember either Serene or Luke having so much as the sniffles during their entire schooling career, actually. Perfect nonhumans with perfect immune systems to match.

He tried to remember what his research said about harpy illnesses.

He poked Luke, who had closed his eyes. “Have you been sick before? Is this your first taste of how the rest of us live?”

“I’ve been sick before,” Luke answered without looking at him.

“When?” Elliot asked.

“I don’t know, Elliot, but I have, okay?”

“I’m going to write your mother a letter and ask her,” Elliot decided. “If this is the first sign of harpy cancer I need to know.”

Luke coughed. Somehow it sounded annoyed. “I don’t have harpy cancer. I have a cold. And I’m tired and I need to sleep.”

Elliot brushed Luke’s hair off his forehead. He couldn’t tell if Luke felt warm because he was feverish or because Elliot’s hands were freezing in the autumn chill. This made him feel agitated, so he started knocking his hand into his own leg.

“Stop fussing.” Luke grabbed his wrist with a powerful hand, so gently. “You’re being especially irritating.”

“What am I supposed to do instead?” Elliot despaired. “You know I’m irritating, it’s the only way I know.”

“Lie down with me,” Luke asked. “Please.”

Elliot breathed in and out, temporarily lost for words. Luke wanting him still tended to have that effect. “You don’t have to beg,” he said finally, as he curled up against Luke’s side.

“Thought you like it when I beg,” Luke said. He was more asleep than awake, so it was like he was on autopilot. Elliot had been a very bad influence.

Then he sneezed, hard. The sound he made afterward wasn’t quite a groan, but it could have been one when it grew up, if Luke ever stopped repressing things.

Elliot stroked his face. “Do you feel so bad?”

“No,” Luke said. “Not so bad.” He twined Elliot’s fingers with his. “This part’s pretty okay.” He coughed.

“I don’t like the sound of that,” Elliot grumbled , nestling up against Luke. “If you’re not any better in the morning, you’re going to the medics whether you want to or not.”

“Whatever you say,” Luke sighed, wrapping Elliot up in a warm wing, already drifting to sleep.

Elliot kissed Luke’s temple and reached behind him to rub between his shoulder blades. “You’re such a loser,” he whispered.

His only answer was a light snore.

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This is adorable.

20 minutes ago, queenie said:

The war was over, technically, but that had never stopped stupid violent types from being stupid and violent.

True.

 

21 minutes ago, queenie said:

Golden hung back atop his noble steed to await his wife’s approach, because he was a very respectable gentleman.

LOL

 

21 minutes ago, queenie said:

The horse didn’t seem super pleased about it, but neither was Elliot, so the horse could fucking deal.

Love this line!

 

22 minutes ago, queenie said:

“When we get back, I’m examining you for wounds,” Elliot warned him. “If I find one, I’m going to stick my hand in it.”

Rude!

 

23 minutes ago, queenie said:

Luke’s pinkness spread from his ears to his cheeks and down his neck, like he was embarrassed to have a cold, or any of the failings associated with a mortal body at all. It was idiotic. It was also very beautiful.

Awwww

 

23 minutes ago, queenie said:

“I mean, look at him. Does that look attractive?”

LOL

 

25 minutes ago, queenie said:

Then he sneezed, hard. The sound he made afterward wasn’t quite a groan, but it could have been one when it grew up, if Luke ever stopped repressing things.

Awww, poor baby

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21 hours ago, AngelEyes said:

Awww, poor baby

He is such a precious baby and I love him even more than Elliot does. Thank you so much for your kind and detailed comment, especially for telling me you liked the line about the horse and for thinking it’s cute when Luke blushes shyly. You’re my favorite!

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On 8/28/2018 at 10:01 PM, queenie said:

Historically, this was a sign that one or both of them had done something ill-advised.

Ha!!  Okay, I haven't read this book and don't know anything, but I like your voice in this piece.

 

On 8/28/2018 at 10:01 PM, queenie said:

He found them toward the rear of the party, riding side by side at a leisurely pace like they didn’t know he was tearing himself to pieces hoping to see their dumb perfect faces attached to bodies that were all in one piece.

Nicely drawn picture, there....gives a sense of who these characters are to each other.

 

On 8/28/2018 at 10:01 PM, queenie said:

The horse didn’t seem super pleased about it, but neither was Elliot, so the horse could fucking deal.

This made me laugh!

On 8/28/2018 at 10:01 PM, queenie said:

Luke’s pinkness spread from his ears to his cheeks and down his neck, like he was embarrassed to have a cold, or any of the failings associated with a mortal body at all. It was idiotic. It was also very beautiful.

There it is...the yumminess of H/C.  What a lovely, lovely description!

On 8/28/2018 at 10:01 PM, queenie said:

Luke could make any look work, even exhausted, flushed and sniffling.

Ummmm,  Yum?  Have I used that word, yet, to describe this?  Because, YUM!!

On 8/28/2018 at 10:01 PM, queenie said:

“Only you could go off to war and manage to come back with a cold.

That's kind of....sweet.

Okay, I don't know the book at all, and was a little bit lost in the beginning,  but I do feel like I got a sense of the characters here.  I like the interaction between Luke and Elliot, the sweetness and sarcasm  all mixed in, and the delightfulness of coming home.  Nicely told story.   

 

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1 hour ago, Jelloicious said:

Okay, I don't know the book at all, and was a little bit lost in the beginning,  but I do feel like I got a sense of the characters here.  I like the interaction between Luke and Elliot, the sweetness and sarcasm  all mixed in, and the delightfulness of coming home.  Nicely told story.   

Oh my god, Jelloicious!! This is the nicest thing! I’m so glad it worked even without the context of the 437 page book I read before I wrote it! And I’m additionally glad for the trust you showed in even trying it out. The passages you picked were some of my favorite parts, too. Thank you so much for leaving a comment, that’s so special to me.

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