by Amy


Rating: G

Disclaimer: the usual, not mine, please don't sue as I really don't need that on top of everything else....

Memo: This is a nothing bit of prose, not even a page long, but I needed it. And nicely enough, it did kind of help. %-) Typos are possible; not beta'd. Note the pairing above; it's not obvious in the text. I wasn't trying to be tricky, Buck's name simply never came up.

Ezra was used to little sleep and less food, to days that made him ache to rewrite his life without him in it, and a future that did its best to convince him that things really were as bad as they seemed. The stomach-suspending, mind-fuzzing, heart-emptying sensations that went along with such tedious stretches of time were as familiar to him as the worn faces of his favorite deck of cards. They heralded more tossing and turning in bed, alone, hating even the smell of himself on his pillow, and added more sleepless nights to his worthless penance.

All of that, he was used to. He knew every step of the way through it. The nausea and bleakness were comforting in their own gloomy manner. He looked forward to it, in fact -- because there was no point in denying the inevitable.

But this...this he was not used to.

He was not used to a miserable day culminating in his room accented with cozy, flickering lamp light. He'd always had lamp light in his room, of course, but it was never cozy. Warmth was foreign, too; on days such as these, his fingers would feel like ice, even in the midst of the meanest heat wave. And yet now warmth swelled in him, grew like a rain-blessed stream and flowed through him, from his stockinged feet, to his shirtless torso, up to his nose and down again to his fingertips.

Nor was he used to sleepiness on days like these. And yet his eyelids drooped, and his body sagged back against the form behind him, so that the forearms clad in faded blue sleeves that had lightly brushed his bare back had to adjust, enfolding his own arms which momentarily shivered with gooseflesh; and the strong hands and long, gentle fingers kneading his shoulders moved apart and down, manipulating the tense muscles in his arms, letting him sink more and more deeply against the giver's supporting frame.

Ezra had half-formed thoughts of protesting the situation. The day had been much too messy. Far-off parts of him, parts still covered by the rather ill-used remains of his pants, ached faintly, remindingly. Anxiety seeped through the unusually quiet places in his mind like icy wind through cracked walls -- almost-losts, fear, his own fault. It wasn't right; he was too relaxed, and relaxing more still as the massaging hands worked down his forearms, over his wrists, softly, firmly, kneading his palms and his fingers and his warm, warm fingertips....

He couldn't say a word. The only sounds in the quiet room were of breathing. His breathing, so shallow and even, simply curled up, like a cat with it's tail under it's nose, beneath the feather blanket of his companion's steady exhalations. Soft puffs of breath brushed Ezra's bare shoulder and neck with soothing heat.

A murmur interrupted his thoughts.


Rest. He didn't think he could help himself. For once, the sleepless nights asked to be sated. The anxiety desired soothing. His head lay easily against a solid chest, where a musky scent mingled with his own, and welcomed him. His hands were so, so warm. This was new.

It was nice.

He barely heard himself sigh. The sky opened up beneath him -- a sunset sky of umber and of pooling midnight blue. A shift and a creak of bedsprings followed the slow cessation of the massage. His hands were enveloped, his arms crossed over the rise and fall of his own chest; well-worn cotton shirtsleeves added to the comforting heat of the arms that wrapped around him.

"Go to sleep, Ezra. You deserve it."

Ezra didn't know if he believed that. But being fast in sleep, he didn't argue.