Hearth-fires and Thresholds (for [personal profile] smartass_captain)

Jul. 6th, 2017 05:51 pm
conjuredskies: (Sidelong)
[personal profile] conjuredskies
These are the first hours of Morning Star, and the year is turning. The thief departs; the ritual begins. Shed the old: embrace the new.

For things important enough to carry forward, there are traditions.

Sometime during the festivities Ushug and Marcella slip away, each with a bottle in hand, talking little. Among reveling bands and dancers and apprentice mages matching party tricks they follow the main streets from district to district. When they reach one of the city gates they exchange a nod and part ways.

Marcella follows the inside wall until the street is dark and quiet, and finds a spot to uncork the bottle she’s cradled all this way. She lifts it in salute, then pours out the wine against the base of the wall. A libation for the honored dead, flowing dark over the white stone. They are not forgotten.

Ushug steps off the road outside and follows her own path along the outside wall. When she picks a spot it’s to toss her bottle aside and squat down in the grass for a piss. She made a promise, and there are more Thalmor beneath this soil than prancing around the streets. They haven’t been forgotten, either.

Terentius does three things. He looks in at the Temple of the One, and bows to the impossible stone dragon who stands frozen at the heart of the temple’s dancing fires and vaulted stone, priests knelt in prayer around it. Then he goes back out and finds a woman as willing to dance with him as he is willing to try. (An artist from Sentinel this year, a Redguard with a charming smile and gracious way about her.) And after that, he limps back to check on the boys. Two of them. He misses Stratos, but Jim doesn’t feel like an addition they’re going to regret. He watches the pair of them dance and laugh and trip up trying to mimic some of the livelier Khajiit dancers, and quietly honors every second.

Felix dances with Jim, and teaches him how to greet Bosmer in their own language, and finds a bard who can tell the story about the mage, the melon and the duplication spell. He shares a toast with a red-faced man whose eyes glint yellow in the firelight when he winks at Felix. Wraps an arm around Jim to ward off presumptuous hands and looks up at the White-Gold Tower high above them. Wonders, for perhaps the first time, what he has to do to keep this. It’s a passing thought. The night rolls on.

The family regroups as the celebrations begin to quiet – not end, not for days yet, but most people do stop for sleep. Marcella has produced one of the silk and brass lanterns from her pockets; now it’s unfolded and glowing softly, the flame inside illuminating the red and gold symbols. It’s lit from the great fire outside the temple, a detail only mentioned if asked. Ushug is continuing her own celebrations, so good-nights are said and the others make the trek back out of the city.

The night’s work is not done, however. When they get back to the house, Marcella takes her lantern inside and uses it to kindle the waiting hearth-fire. Then she heads around the house with anyone awake enough to follow, lighting each the lanterns outside one by one, a few words of prayer for each. One hearth, seven lamps. And last, the little dragon lamp is relit. There are no words for this one. She places it silently on a ledge tucked above the front doorway, the last spot in the circle. A tiny glow in the shadows. Easily missed. Only then does she let out a long exhale and relax.

She rolls her eyes when she turns around to see Felix with his arms already around Jim again, but she gives them a tired smile, too. She’s only teasing a little when she tells them, “Sleep well, you two.”

“You too, cousin,” Felix murmurs, lifting his head from Jim’s shoulder for a moment.

 

Date: 2017-07-06 05:19 pm (UTC)
smartass_captain: (Disappointment)
From: [personal profile] smartass_captain
The night swallows Jim up and he lets it take him where it will. Through dances and drinks, toasts and stories. Back up through the streets and back to Marcella's home. There's so much wonder here, at their rituals and cultures. So much to take in about beliefs and ways of life.

Things like the small somewhat hidden lantern. The robed Thalmor that Jim has been able to pick out as they weave through the crowds--always given a berth even among the most drunk. The ritual to even the most innocent of past times.

There is still food and drink flowing freely on the first. Jim flies kites with Felix and his family with entirely too much gusto and laughs heartily at stories Terentius tells by the hearth. He sits outside down by the lake and learns the Imperial alphabet while Felix pages through books they've taken from the house.

By the second, however, the questions have turned to him. What stories can he share? What does he do? Jim's smile is still present when he talks--as simply as possible--to explain his world and the motivations for his work. He drinks more that day. Eats less. Sits and stares out the window whenever Felix is gone from his side and scarcely talks.

He doesn't join the rest of the family for supper that night, holing up instead in his own room (for the first time, at that) with a bottle of some strong smelling liquor Felix had helped him pick out in the market earlier that day. The night rolls on, the hours march by. It's soon now. Less than a day away.

And he's not even in his own time. Should he leave? He doesn't want to. But what good would hiding away in a guest room do? He thought he'd be better this year. Was trying so hard to be.

Some hurts never really go away.

Date: 2017-07-10 07:07 pm (UTC)
smartass_captain: (Depressed Drinking)
From: [personal profile] smartass_captain
The knocking at least means Jim is looking toward the door expectantly when Felix comes in. Jim has a lit lamp next to the bed where he's currently sitting, book laid open in front of him and a cup of said alcohol in hand.

He doesn't try to force a smile. Jim has learned it's best not to pretend around Felix, especially when he can't give it his best performance.

"I'll...have to apologize in the morning."

The question asked gets only a shrug of Jim's shoulders in reply. Bad enough to seek the healing powers of numb black out drunkenness. But that's every year.

"Haven't cried yet. I think...that's an improvement."

Date: 2017-07-10 10:57 pm (UTC)
smartass_captain: (Bruised and Tired)
From: [personal profile] smartass_captain
Jim flips the book--the first volume of the history of the Empire--closed and sets it aside and out of the way. The glass he hands to Felix. An encouragement to join him in this rather than just stand by and observe. Sit by.

Semantics.

"I'm going to be the same age he was." Quiet words weave a story nearly three decades old. Their lives so much different by this same point. He a first officer and loving husband and father. Jim a captain barely grasping the fundamentals of having a relationship of any kind.

What would George say, if he could see his youngest son now? Hiding in an alien world and time because he can't handle something as trivial as a birthday.

"I'm still so much...less. Of a man. Than he was."

Date: 2017-07-11 04:31 pm (UTC)
smartass_captain: (I'm sorry)
From: [personal profile] smartass_captain
"My dad...he joined Starfleet because he believed in the cause. Because he wanted to further our understanding of the universe."

It's difficult not to view the man as more of a legend than a human being. Jim's spent his entire life being told he doesn't measure up. Having his father's heroics waxed on every time the name came up. It's difficult to imagine George Kirk fucking something up. Getting into arguments over petty things with his crew. Taking a risk to satisfy his own ego as much as because he thinks it's a good idea.

Being human.

Traits Jim has undoubtedly gotten from his father seem difficult to imagine his father actually having. For as much as he's told he takes after his old man, he's also constantly reminded of how much shorter he comes to getting out of the man's shadow.

"I joined on a dare."

Date: 2017-07-11 06:37 pm (UTC)
smartass_captain: (Not so sure about this)
From: [personal profile] smartass_captain
Jim stares down into the cup.

Did his father ever doubt himself like this? Worry about not spending enough time with Sam? Worry about his mother's safety? Did he ever question his orders or the people giving them?

Did he ever wonder if he was doing the right thing?

If Spock were here, he would tell Jim he's being illogical. That his father was human, and as such had all of those faults that humans share. The thought makes him snort, but there's not very much humor in his voice.

"I don't know. Maybe. Just to prove I could."

He takes a drink from the cup and sits quietly for a minute. Revels in the utter quiet in the night around them. No jets or mag trucks. No hum of engines. He wonders then how everyone in the house can't hear him and shudders at being seen like this by anyone else.

Anyone else.

When he looks up at Felix again, there's something soft in his gaze.

"You know, I'm doing much better this year. I've got you."

Date: 2017-07-11 08:52 pm (UTC)
smartass_captain: (Peer)
From: [personal profile] smartass_captain
The nightmares are less common now than they once were.

Not gone, never gone entirely, but every night that passes without one is worth celebrating. Even when he gets them, more often than not he isn't alone. Felix is there in bed with him. A steady arm that holds him close until Jim knows where he is. A heartbeat to match his own to and steady breaths that whisper soothing words into his ear until he can hear them again.

Despite how frequent they are, especially at first...here Felix is. Next to Jim. The cup is set aside so that he can pull Felix close--embrace the Imperial and breathe in his scent. Hearthfire smoke and earth. The smell of the furs they've slept in. The oils he uses in his bath.

Could he even function without Felix at his side?

"You do so much just by being here..." He breathes out, eyes slipping shut.

Date: 2017-07-17 12:44 am (UTC)
smartass_captain: (Bruised and Tired)
From: [personal profile] smartass_captain
The statement soothes and stings at the same time. Jim knows Felix means it and is proud of Jim, but the captain was just thinking about how he should be back on the ship holed up where he can't upset anyone else with his history and problems.

Jim tips them over so that they're laying side by side on the bed rather than sitting. Arms still curled around Felix as he holds the mage close. Revels in the body heat from the other. The feel of Felix's heartbeat against him.

"I'm glad to be welcome." He replies quietly. And despite the guilt it's true. This has been the best new years he's had in a long time. Possibly ever. He shifts them a bit, moving Felix until he's sort of on top of Jim. Needs that contact. The reminder of Felix's presence and the weight of his body holding Jim down. Surrounding him. Keeping him close and safe.

"What would I do without you?"

Date: 2017-07-20 12:27 pm (UTC)
smartass_captain: (You're kidding right)
From: [personal profile] smartass_captain
Like this there's no place for Jim to run away and hide. Rather than feeling caged in, Jim feels a sense of calm and safety here underneath the mage. If he were left to his own devices, he'd be making himself sick with drink or worse. Shuttled away in his quarters and all alone. Sometimes, what he needs more than anything is for someone to stop him from making things worse for himself.

Felix is very good at that. Jim tries to take deep breaths. Revels in this sense of security. Though he tenses slightly when Felix teases him, squinting up at his boyfriend.

"Fucking christ we don't talk about that remember? God I was plastered that night and--" And he'd do it again.

As many times as Felix wanted him to.

Jim bursts out in giggles after a moment, hiding his face with a hand.

"The things you do to me..."

Date: 2017-07-20 06:12 pm (UTC)
smartass_captain: (Smolder)
From: [personal profile] smartass_captain
"Glad to see my making a fool of myself is still paying off dividends."

Felix knows there's no real bite to the huff, especially when he can see the faint color in Jim's cheeks and the smile on his face despite how much he tries to hide it behind the palm of his hand. Felix is right. Then past is set aside for now but not forgotten. Jim will dip low again as he always does but in this moment with the two of them lying atop one another there is relief in Jim's voice.

Felix is a bright light that drives away the shadows from the darker corners of his heart.

"Felix..." As though Jim's going to pretend either of them has even the smallest decorum of modesty. His tongue flitting out and tracing along his bottom lip while all the unspoken suggestions filter between the two of them. It's hardly a warning and they both know it.

"...Take care of me?" His voice has gone quiet and a touch more serious then. He carefully pulls his hand away from his face, peeking up to look over the man who's absconded with his senses and his heart.

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Felix Caelus

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