This one sort of came for me in part because of Laylah's most amazing fic
; this psychotic little offshoot now rests as the second of my weird pan-fandom immortality Triple Bill
To Come, And GoFandom:
Luck/Claire, Claire/Chane, appearances by the rest of the GandorsRating:
Soft, soft RSummary:
Luck tries something - some things - he shouldn't, in search of something - some things - that he's not sure he should have.1877 words and weird little family issues.
'I wish I didn't have to hunt for you,' Luck says to Claire, 'every time the family wants to meet you.' There's no heat in his voice, just affection.
wish,' Claire smiles at Luck, 'you wouldn't always play games of catch with me, little brother.' He does a neat little flip off the railing of Keith's sixth floor apartment balcony, and lands just by Luck's side. 'Missed me?'
'Always,' Luck replies, and opens the balcony door to let Claire in. Doorways are for visits to friends and associates; windows are only acceptable between family. 'Katie cooked, though she says she'd appreciate more than a day's advance notice the next time.'
'Where would the fun be in that?' Claire grins, and shrugs out of his coat and straight into the arms of Keith's wife as she comes out from the kitchen. 'Katie,' he says, enthusiastic and effusive. 'You're looking well.'
'Looking pregnant, you mean,' Katie laughs, a hand on Claire's shoulder with one more in his hair, ruffling. Luck marvels at how she makes it look natural, normal. Nothing in this family is normal, except for everything that should be. He turns to hang up Claire's coat – Claire never learnt proper manners, and probably never will – and to give them a moment.
'Luck,' Katie calls, and when Luck turns back Claire is nowhere to be seen; probably helping to bring out dishes, Vino-the-Assassin elevated to simple housework. 'Why don't you go set out the drinks? I'll go make sure Claire and Berga don't do anything dramatic with the food.'
'It'd be my pleasure,' Luck says, and when he pours out the wine to let it breathe, no one's there to notice that there's a distinct lack of a wax seal over the corkage. Keith shoots Luck a look when he comes in with the glasses, but nothing is said. There's a warning in the eldest Gandor's eyes, one that matches the silent, stubborn plea in the gaze of the youngest.
Dinner starts only after Berga and Claire are done arguing over who gets to do the serving and sawing and whatever else it is they're doing to the dishes on the table; Katie circumvents them and does it all herself when they aren't watching.
'Why did you have to marry the second most amazing woman in the world?' Claire asks Keith, when he's finally seated and pretending to be civilised.
Keith's response is an amused smile, and a wordless toast to his wife.
Claire doesn't drink. 'I'll abstain,' he says, when Berga glares daggers. 'Chane says it's impolite to drink in the presence of a woman who can't.' He beams at Katie, and then frowns. 'Well, she didn't say
, but she did write me a list of things I should and shouldn't do. She would've come, but I think she wants me to spend some time with family privately – she's so courteous, isn't she? Thinks of everything.'
Luck sips at his drink, and watches Claire for the rest of the night, trying hard not to hear Chane's name, and trying harder not to think ill or her.
It's a cold night out by the time they're done with their meal. New York air can bite with December's winds. Luck still stays in the house they all grew up in; it's near enough that it's not worth the walk to the subway station, but far enough that it'll chill him through to the bone.
'Want company, Luck?' Claire asks, once Keith and Katie have ushered them gently out of the door. 'Must be horrible to walk home to an empty house.'
'Claire,' Luck says, very patiently, as they start their trek down the length of a block.
'You're,' Luck starts, and then he shakes his head. Forgive him, for he does not know what he does. 'No, never mind.'
'Hesitant again, little brother?' Claire chuckles, tucking gloved hands behind his head. 'The more things change, the more things stay the same.' He turns, and walks backwards nimbly enough that Luck doesn't worry about warning him when they hit the next junction. It allows him to watch Claire's face, and for Claire to look him right in the eye. 'What's bothering you?'
'Nothing's bothering me.' Luck smiles, for Claire's sake.
Raised eyebrows don't work well on him, but Claire knows when to use them, if nothing else. Luck sighs. 'Shouldn't you be headed home yourself? Wherever it is you're staying for the night?' He inserts subtle reproach into his tone, as if to say to Claire, this is what's bothering me – your distance. We're family.
Claire tilts his head. 'That's not what's on your mind, Luck,' he says, confident and supremely straightforward. Luck hates him and loves him for being that way. 'Is it the territory?'
'The family's handling fine,' Luck reassures him. Only a little while more, he thinks: one light, one turn, and they'll be on his doorstep.
'Is it,' Claire's eyes twinkle at Luck, and he laughs as he steps off the curb and starts to cross the road just as the lights go green (how did he know?) behind him. 'A woman, Luck?'Maybe it is,
Luck thinks, keeping his mouth resolutely shut. Claire, being of the same breed of every elder brother on earth, takes his silence and runs with it.
'You're growing up,' Claire laughs, reaching forward and gripping Luck's shoulders. 'My little brother,' he says, pulling Luck down the rest of the avenue and picking up the pace. 'Tell me, tell me all about her. What does she look like?'
She has black hair.
'What does she do?'
Travel the world, it seems.
'Is she nice?'
You'd call her the best woman in the world.
'Have you proposed?'
'Claire,' Luck growls. They're in the shadows just outside the apartment, standing in the dip just between one streetlight and the next. The dimness doesn't make Claire seem any less bright, which makes it worse and terrible and tempting.
'An engagement's only the first step, you know,' Claire fills him in, eager and intent. 'Then you have to actually convince her to marry
you, and sometimes that means convincing her father as well, and maybe her mother, and her brothers, and it can be very difficult, little brother, take it from me. Chane's dad,' Claire waves his hand in the air, dismissive and contrite, 'Chane's dad doesn't want her to –'Put a ring on her finger
, Luck finishes the sentence in his own head; he can't say it aloud, because he has one hand fisted in the lapels of Claire's coat, and his mouth pressed close against Claire's lips, and he feels warm for the first time that night, that month, that entire season.
It lasts too long and ends too early. Luck pushes Claire back, and it infuriates him how Claire seems to flow with the movement. It's like trying to take a hit at water, or air. It doesn't seem to disturb him, nothing ever has and nothing ever will
. This is wrong and right and unethical in every way. Claire's not yet a married man, not yet, not yet
, but that means absolutely nothing and everything; Luck's head spins, even though he knows exactly what he's done. 'Go home,' he says, quietly, turning and unlocking his door.
'I am home,' Claire says, one warm palm in between the blades of Luck's shoulders, and Luck isn't strong enough a man (or good enough a human) to stop Claire when Claire follows him inside. It's a relief to be behind the privacy of a closed door, a blind pulled over the eyes of the world as Claire slides two hands about Luck's waist, rests his cheek against the crown of Luck's head, and murmurs, 'Little brother,' into the darkness of Luck's vacant living room.
Claire sleeps on the couch, so Luck sleeps next to him. The next morning he wakes up with the imprint of one of Claire's coat buttons pressed so hard against his cheek that Claire spends a moment rubbing the mark off of his skin, and Luck tries – again and again – not to think too much about it, even though Claire knows everything, has probably always known.
'Feeling better?' Claire asks him when Luck's feeling human enough again. Luck nods, reluctant to find words. Claire's laughter is quiet and transcendent in the quasi-silence of a busy Manhattan morning. He strips out of last night's clothes, and pushes Luck into the shower with him as he turns the water on high heat. The steam rises enough that it makes Luck close his eyes, and he rocks backwards and then forward into Claire's hand as Claire kisses – platonically, placidly, perfunctorily - the patch of skin on the back of his neck, and tells him, 'I still love you, always will, so don't make it all so complicated.'
When they've both dressed, Claire stretches and yawns and says, 'Come to lunch with us today?'
Luck thinks of five different ways of saying no before he puts a smile on his face, and says, 'Yes.'
Chane meets them at a small café just off of Central Park, smiling and pretty when Claire winds an arm around her waist and beams like a proud husband. Luck takes off his hat for her and waits, courteously, for her to order first, and even manages an honest laugh when she corrects Claire's horrendous table manners sometime during their meal.
'Let's take a walk,' Claire suggests, when they're done, and Luck has to watch and has to understand how happy Claire is as they stroll through Sheep's Meadow, soaking up the sunlight and everything that's perfect in a Stanfield-centric universe.
It's sunset by the time they're done, Claire still chattering incessantly as they wind their down Fifth Avenue. He's saying something or another about growing up in the city, and Luck spends some time with history's visor pulled over his eyes until they reach the lobby of the hotel Claire and Chane are staying in (a hotel, instead of a home). He opens his eyes and sees his brother in love.
'When are you leaving?' he asks Claire, just before Claire steps into the lift after Chane.
'You'll know before we go,' Claire promises, and he taps the underside of Luck's chin, eyes full of joy and no regrets and the knowledge that everything - everything
- is right with the world.
It makes Luck smile, at least, before the doors close and separate them both.
Claire leaves town just before Christmas, and Luck knows because he comes home one night to an unlocked apartment door. The rooms are still warm, so it couldn't have been long since Claire came and went. There's a note on Luck's dining table, right next to the empty bottle that had contained the remainder of the elixir he'd asked Firo for the week before Claire came. You shouldn't have tried it that way, little brother,
it reads, in Claire's crazy handwriting. Keith told me, even though he didn't need to. If you want something, next time, ask – and if you want to give me something: I like train tickets better than your kind of immortality. P.S,
the note adds, counterpoint to Luck's heart: Remember that I can't die.