Homeward Headed


Joined: March 15th, 2014, 12:45 am

August 16th, 2014, 3:31 am #11

In spite of the ship's best efforts, Erestor found himself slipping into a light doze, and then proper sleep almost within the hour—he had not cared to dignify Glorfindel's response with anything, especially as he supposed this was as good an armistice as the two of them were going to achieve today. The very prospect of having to do this every night until they made landfall was exhausting to think about, so he studiously did not, a muscle in his neck already complaining at the lack of support to be had on this cardboard-thin mattress. Once or twice he'd considered getting up and forcing Dorgund to switch places with him (he rather enjoyed his wife's ability to open her mouth and say things that didn't make Erestor want to drown her in a barrel like her ill-favored husband, and surely she would be more charitable about her standard-issue blanket than his current companion), but it seemed he would drift off and then back into himself to find the night darker and more pronounced every time the thought occurred to him.

It must have been close to morning when something stirred him from a vague, nondescript dream of equally vague, nondescript things, the tossing of the ship slightly less than it had been when he'd last been above-deck. There was still water percolating through the beams above their head, dripping onto the mattress here and there in a way that implied it was still storming rather heavily outside, but Erestor shut his eyes and burrowed into the mass at his side, still too asleep to devote the proper amount of irritation and horror it deserved.

Before he had a chance to catch himself, however, the heap jerked, and Erestor was forcibly reminded of where he was, and who with, and he looked down, finding that the pillow he had managed to snag was, in fact, an arm. Not a very soft one, but in the margin of consciousness with all his brain processes dedicated to any comfort that was conducive to going back to sleep, it seemed natural to drop back where he had been, too far gone to appreciate the victory in having secured control of half of their patchy little blanket.

And yet not too far gone to not notice he was currently being looked at.

One eye slid halfway open again, his mouth firming in displeasure. Despite his exhaustion, he knew nonchalance was probably the most effective route to take for the least amount of effort—carefully rolling off the arm he'd apprehended, he edged back towards the wall, halfway onto his stomach. No doubt it must have been a memory of particular horror to have enticed him out of much-needed sleep, but Erestor lacked the natural finesse required to have offered a kind word in the wake of it. Grudgingly, possessed by whatever part of his subconscious was invested in Glorfindel's comfort, he stretched out a hand, brushing a moisture-ravaged, frizzy panel of hair away from his temple. After he'd reclaimed his arm and tucked it beneath his own head, he heaved a sigh and resigned himself to sleep again, resolutely not concerned about whether Glorfindel would be able to find sleep after that or not.
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Joined: March 13th, 2014, 4:50 am

August 18th, 2014, 1:54 am #12

A grudging sort of calm had settled over him in the wake of his dreams, with Erestor's pale face interrupting the dark of the cabin and rerooting him to the present. He'd never made much effort to think too far into the future (the whole Gondolin destruction had put a bit of a damper on the hobby of daydreaming) so his head stayed happily blank on the prospect of how difficult subsequent nights would go on were they to continue sharing sleeping space, only aware at the moment that watching him was actually quite conducive to a sense of peace, and even a drowsiness that he hadn't expected to catch hold of again.

Glorfindel's fingertips twitched as Erestor shifted, pins and needles rushing down his arm uncomfortably where the circulation had been constricted too long. He let out a thin exhale through his nostrils, making an effort to stay completely still as he shifted, but then the thrice-damned librarian nuzzled his arm and he twitched a little more violently in surprise, a prickling of unpleasant warmth radiating up his arm from where his smooth cheek rubbed against the bare flesh.

His jaw tightened, lips pressing into a thin line in preparation for the verbal onslaught sure to come, but to his surprise Erestor did nothing more dramatic than roll the few inches away that he could, and Glorfindel was almost disappointed. The cold spot on his arm protested unhappily as blood flowed back into his fingers, phantom pins stabbing into the limb more violently than ever now, but he dragged his arm back toward his chest, more as an acknowledgement that Erestor had released it than of any real desire to regain its use. A vague sense of regret gnawed at the peace he'd so recently found, and he found himself unwilling to shift his gaze although it was clear his bed companion did not appreciate the study. In the darkness, in this half Unseen plane between dreams and waking, it seemed not to matter all that much, either that Erestor saw him staring or that he even cared one way or the other about it. Perhaps his finer thought processes were still dredged in shit quality liquor, or mired in sleep, but it didn't seem very real, the low contrast in the dim light and muffled patter of rain above a fitting backdrop to the sense of fantastical.

He had no hope of identifying even the beginning of Erestor's thoughts, assuming for simplicity's sake that he was just more asleep than awake, but the hand that crossed the space between them to push back frizzed curls felt almost too real. Despite himself a quiet sigh escaped, and were it not for the weight of his limbs the mad urge to capture that hand and drag it back might have overwhelmed him in that moment. Instead he watched the hand retreat, eyelids dropping to half mast in a vacant sort of way as he resolutely stopped caring about his own disgust at his own sleep-deprived desires. Several minutes passed then in still silence, the cold gradually seeping into him despite the miserable blanket until his resolve snapped.

It was not the time of year for heavy fur cloaks, but only an idiot would travel without one that would at least serve to keep out the worst of the night chills and protect from rain. He was admittedly an idiot for not thinking of it sooner, rolled and buried in the bottom of his pack, but in his defense he had been relatively sloshed when he'd clambered into bed. Glorfindel shifted carefully, praying to whatever merciful Vala would give him the time of day that the ship would wait to rock violently until he was done twisting awkwardly over the side of the cot so he didn't fall and make a fool of himself. He wasn't particularly worried about breaking his neck since he had a suspicion that if he died suddenly they'd drag him back from Mandos a second time until he'd completed his appointed task.

With a bit of maneuvering he managed to drag the fabric out without making too much of a mess (this was an optimistic assumption because he couldn't see all that well and didn't care to check) and unfurled it over the both of them. It wouldn't provide that much warmth but it would keep them dry and fend off the water dripping from above their heads. This done and already feeling the better for it, he resettled on his side and reached out to roll Erestor back over, pulling him back to his chest much like a well loved ragdoll with the councilor's back to Glorfindel's chest. Stubbornly overlooking the fact that this action could well grant him a broken nose and another case of parethesia in favor of ameliorating the clammy cold of his skin, he closed his eyes and dropped his cheek back down to the mattress with a huff of air that came out with a barely audible undertone of semi-content, his nose just barely brushing the fine strands of his companion's damp hair.
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Joined: March 15th, 2014, 12:45 am

August 18th, 2014, 8:57 am #13

Half convinced that the entire non-exchange of the last few minutes had been the work of a hyper-realistic dream, Erestor trained his attention back on falling fully asleep, studiously not listening for any sign that Glorfindel had been awake enough to feel his halfassed attempt at rendering aid in the wake of what had obviously been a very unpleasant nightmare. It was easy enough to do: the high-pitched screeching winds rollicking about somewhere above deck like angry terns were palpable through the thin, poorly sealed layer of ceiling above them, a cold thread of it occasionally gusting down the gaps in the hatch. Most of the lamps had been extinguished sometime during the night, he noticed with what scrap of alertness he had—either someone had snuffed them by hand, or they'd been casualties of the ongoing storm.

The ship quieted a moment, and Erestor was fully prepared to take advantage of the opportunity in easing himself away from the precarious seat he'd taken up so close to wakefulness. But even had he been completely out of alertness, it would have been impossible not to feel Glorfindel shifting suddenly with an acuity that should have been well beyond any sane man, crewman or passenger alike, at this infernal hour, and Erestor almost turned to see what it was that had called him to move, but he knew any shift in position might jeopardize his control of the blanket, which was his brain's current (and only) priority. Willing his irritation down, he tucked his arms tighter around himself and stretched both legs out towards the footboard, unconsciously establishing his anchor in case Glorfindel's errand took him off the bunk entirely.

Luckily, it didn't. He felt the weight of the light spring cloak settling over him like it had been sent from Eru Iluvatar Himself, a soft, appreciative exhalation the only response he could give still firmly edged in the twilight space of consciousness. Glorfindel settled again, and all of the minor issues that had been tethering him to reality were suddenly completely unimportant: he rolled towards the wall to compensate for the extra length afforded them by the ample breadth of the cloak, fully prepared to take it as a peace offering with no lingering ill-will for the circumstances that had pushed them into this entirely inconvenient night and give himself back over to his vague, nondescript dreams.

The brief series of slow, subtle movements from Glorfindel at his back didn't quite taper off the way he thought they would. Exhausted by the three hours of battling his own digestive system though he was, he tensed against the feel of two very long, very wide arms apprehending him and then pulling him back until they were touching. Had any other voice been stronger than the too-honest shred of Id still active in his mind, he might have reacted exactly as Glorfindel had predicted—he knew him too well by now to have any reason to expect anything else, Erestor thought, slightly guiltily—but it seemed strangely natural, and the excuse that it was merely a companionable offer for shared body heat came very quickly to assuage his powerful confusion. They had both, after all, braved all thirty years of the Helcaraxë, and such arrangements weren't anything out of the ordinary, even if the situation now wasn't quite so dire.

He believed it for all of five seconds. The warmth blooming in a particularly deep, sore part of his chest wasn't a physical response, and he thought reflexively of the warm, dusty afternoon they had spent filing together in his office.

Damn it, he thought, goosebumped from neck to knees, stone-still and suddenly very, very awake.
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Joined: March 13th, 2014, 4:50 am

August 18th, 2014, 2:54 pm #14

Despite the rigidity of Erestor's form in his arms Glorfindel's nose remained happily intact, and he optimistically translated that as grudging acceptance and relaxed more fully into the thin pallet, his arm left draped over the dark Noldo's side where it had fallen. The closeness and the added layer to hold in their body heat had already created more warmth than he'd enjoyed all day, and that made him almost as happy as if he'd been sitting in a damn sauna in the middle of summer, add that to the desire he felt to push away all lingering memory of his nightmares and he couldn't be bothered to feel in the slightest uncomfortable with the new arrangement as it would drag him more toward wakefulness and really his head was already starting to ache in the beginnings of a hangover he didn't particularly want to experience in full consciousness.

Glorfindel had been in close contact with Erestor on multiple occasions, whether in the middle of a waspish conversation or forced into partnership on some errand or other, he had found ample opportunity to familiarize himself with the unique scent of his companion, which he now found muddled beneath the smell of brine and sick. The smell of the dry dust particles he usually spotted floating about the miniscule librarian's hunched form as he sat illumined by a ray of sunlight streaming in from the tall paneled windows, his long fingers working delicately at old binding, now clung to him as muddy sand, and Glorfindel barely had the presence of mind to silently and selfishly judge him for stubbornly staying above deck long enough to get so thoroughly soaked. He would smell of seasalt for days after their landing.

There was no telling how long he ruminated on this in a state of only half-slumber, realizing after a time that he was stuck just barely beneath the surface of full wakefulness, and it was most likely Erestor that was keeping him there. He couldn't find it within him to be unhappy either way, but his head still ached and he could still feel it and that wasn't as pleasant as the other details. Cracking his eyes open into thin slits, he could make out the curve and point of one pale pointed ear poking out from the black fall of hair and he found himself staring at that. There was a hazy and somewhat delirium-induced desire to find out what it felt like between his lips, but his limbs felt like lead at this point, and there was no further search in that respect.

He was not so far gone that he couldn't feel the rapid tapping of Erestor's heart through his back, knowing without really understanding that the hummingbird buzz was a sign that Erestor was as awake as he, but he didn't pull away. Glorfindel was warm and comfortable and oddly relaxed and he wasn't about to break that spell short of a lightning bolt ripping their cabin apart. Erestor felt unconscionably comfortable in the loose circle of his arms, just the right mixture of soft and hard, and so warm that it made him want to burrow closer and curl around him. He'd never been particularly desirous of tactile comfort, but the Helcaraxё had changed at least that much in him. It made him cringe away from the cold and sink his claws into any source of warmth he could in the face of it, whether or not he hated where it came from.

And he had to admit, if only to himself, he did not hate Erestor even slightly just now, with his soft if partially damp hair brushing his cheek and his bony frame, stupidly delicate the way elves shouldn't be, tucked beneath his arm, able to feel the softness of his middle between hipbone and ribcage and wanting too much to shift his arm just enough to press his palm over the thin material covering the expanse of his stomach. Glorfindel closed his eyes again, blocking out the taunting silhouette of Erestor's ear from his sight in an effort to recapture slumber.
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Joined: March 15th, 2014, 12:45 am

August 19th, 2014, 2:49 am #15

What if it had been any other of their entourage? Probably not Dorgund—Erestor would have broken his jaw for the impertinence on principle—but would it have been so different with any of the handful of other minor council members in their retinue? He could scarcely recall their names most of the time, but did that count as a perk or a drawback when it came to someone you couldn't help but like despite their very obvious and terrible faults taking advantage of close quarters in a completely unnecessary way? He could feel himself beginning to think himself in circles and he hated it; who was this bothered by a... what was it? An embrace? A casual, friendly cuddle? Whatever the hell it was, though he couldn't even really blame it on a cultural difference or a casualty of the changing mores of the Ages, given that they had come from similar backgrounds and he was still having this existential meltdown over two minutes of physical contact.

There seemed to be no obvious conclusion to come to. Erestor heaved a defeated sigh, belatedly hoping it had been quiet enough to be taken as the deep inhale of someone lost to dream, but knowing, by the slightly uneven rhythm of Glorfindel's own chest at his back, that it was likely he was not as asleep as Erestor would have preferred to believe, either. I hate you, he thought, without any particular rancor in it, tentatively bringing one hand to alight over the foreign one thrown over his waist. Whether he was preparing to push him off or give his unspoken assent to the liberties Glorfindel had just taken with him, even he wasn't sure, but he found he could go no further than that, his breath sparse. It wasn't his fault that he had no idea that Erestor had been pathetically besotted by the first week he'd been returned to Arda, of course, but he felt the resentment that he could exact this immaculately cruel treatment on him without any idea of how effective it was very keenly, a frustrated flush crawling up his cheeks.

"You never do anything I expect," he said, well aware that this farce was getting kind of ridiculous, resigned to leaving the issue for the morning—if ever. No doubt if someone happened to peer up at their bunk there would be gossip about it for days, but Erestor wasn't as worried about it as anyone as concerned about his own reputation might be: most of the rumors about Glorfindel's amorous pursuits seemed to trend in the direction of other members of the guard, or any elleth he happened to look at for longer than two seconds. And while he wasn't going to ever have a career in portrait modeling, Erestor supposed the fact that it was common knowledge that they could hardly stand each other would work in his favor to keep it from progressing very far once they reached Harlond again.

Seeing no reason to bother navel-gazing about it, he shut his eyes again and let the sound of the waves hitting the hull and the new supply of warmth, awkwardly obtained as it was, entice him back to sleep.
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Joined: March 13th, 2014, 4:50 am

August 19th, 2014, 5:07 pm #16

Glorfindel heard the sigh dimly, and whether it was the exhale of sleep or something more perturbed, it did not seem to matter much for it brought the same conclusion: Erestor still did not roll away. Even the brush of cold fingers over his own was not a rejection, and the back of his hand tingled at the contact, offering a sleepy thrill that only served to sink him deeper into a drunken form of relaxation. He would have been tempted to slide his arm more securely about him, but he was sure his limbs now weighed more than the whole of Ancalagon the Black and his winged brethren combined and it seemed too much effort for such a risk.

The murmured words of his companion brought a soft, drowsy chuckle from him, a low rumble in his chest that no doubt felt more like the purr of a large cat pressed to Erestor's back with the vibrations sent down the length of his spine than any voiced response. He was even less worried about what this would look like than the councilor, not in the least because he knew instinctively that the broadness of his back hid the majority of their bunk from prying eyes, and if he was so inclined he could probably get away with- his fingers twitched, the nail of his thumb just barely grazing the woven fabric of his companion's smallclothes self-consciously. That was a terrible thing to imagine. He blamed the alcohol.

It was lucky it was still in his system though, or it would have taken another hour to get back to sleep; with its assistance he drifted off fairly quickly in the newly-comfortable nest he'd arranged. There were no nightmares to follow, only memories of a life long gone, a life he had been regifted for a short time but been unable to accept or cope with the second time around, so different it was from before and so changed he was. It was not often he dreamed of that first period in his life, when he was young and there had been no hint of sadness or misery in all his existence.

The air was clouded with spring pollen, dandelion fluff and cottonwood seeds, the breeze from his passing stirring them around in tiny brief whirlwinds around his ankles. It was cool enough that the warmth from his uncle's forge was a comforting change when he stepped into the suffocating air of the workshop. He had something to show his favorite uncle, not because he was the most friendly or the most fun - far from either of those options. Laurefindil was just special enough to get past the barrier of being Indis's blood, but he had to be better than that, he was always trying to be better, to get his uncle's approval. He had always believed - naively - that he was the exception, until the day Feanor had burned the boats. None of that mattered in this dream, it didn't exist. This was before, when he still believed that he was worth something to him. He had something shiny and beautiful (or so he thought) to show off his newly acquired skill, but he wasn't there. There was only a small boy: skinny and short with wiry stick limbs and dark hair. He turned toward him, but Laurefindil was already retreating to search for his uncle elsewhere. The poplar seeds drifted across his vision, blocking out the inky pools and disturbingly familiar features his subconscious was sure he would have seen had he stood a moment longer.

The sounds of people bustling about in the cabin came to his awareness first, and then the unpleasantness of light (whether from lamps or otherwise he had no idea) filtering through his eyelids. It was oddly silent despite that, and he realized belatedly the roar of the waves and winds had died down to normal seafaring levels. This was good news. Good news he didn't particularly care much about, but still good. It meant their ship hadn't capsized in the night and presumably they were all still very much alive. He felt no inclination to get up and leave the warm cocoon he was encased in, so he ignored the noises and burrowed back down, settling more securely around the source of warmth he had curled around in the night, tendrils of now dry hair tickling his nose as he turned his face down to block out the light.

The dream tugged at the edge of his consciousness, a niggling memory that forced his eyes open a crack to stare at nothing as it struck him. "It was you," he realized, his tone low and dull, for he was only speaking to himself, unaware if Erestor was awake or not. He remembered only then that it was he whom Glorfindel was burrowed around. There was a dim sort of understanding, but no movement besides the shift of his eyes to focus more clearly on the curve of a shoulder. Four hundred years and he hadn't remembered. I Aldu, he was an idiot.
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Joined: March 15th, 2014, 12:45 am

August 22nd, 2014, 10:14 am #17

It was, as it always was, the gentle rocking of the ship that woke him up some few hours later, though how late in the morning it was he couldn't say—there was light filtering in where there had been rain dropping down in tiny pebbles in the night, the blanket damp here and there with evidence of the storm. Gradually, it dawned on Erestor that it was, in fact, neither a blanket stretched up over the lower half of his face, nor a fire in the hearth of his rooms in Lindon that was providing him with the (admittedly superior) sense of warmth emanating from somewhere at his back. The weight on his side was an arm, the very one he had commandeered hours ago for a pillow, and now, without the cover of darkness or exhaustion to insulate him against the full weight of the situation, he found himself rapidly outgrowing the comfort he had enjoyed in comfortable obliviousness all through the night.

Reluctant beyond all sense to return to the world where he and his current bunkmate were irreconcilably and aggressively terrible to each other, he shut his eyes again and willed himself back into the pleasant liminal space he had floated in right before dozing off, finding it easy to do in light of the pleasant mix of crisp morning chill and the bubble of easy warmth he was currently ensconced in. Perhaps it was only that he hadn't been physically held in centuries too long to count that made him so amenable to suffering Glorfindel's obvious lapse in sanity now, though he had to admit that the appeal was definitely more than halfway caused by the steady, understated strength in the visible arm, relaxed in sleep. He hadn't removed his hand from over Glorfindel's all night. A traitorous little thought insisted that it was probably more insurance against him rolling away from Erestor in the middle of the night, as much as he could on their narrow pallet, than it had been an arrangement made for lack of space.

Unfortunately (or not, he wasn't quite sure), Iluvatar had seen fit to sing him into existence with persistent motion sickness that wouldn't be convinced away for anything, not for the clear, simple joy of having found a few hours of peaceful interaction with someone who was, despite all of their awful spats over the years and inability to keep a conversation civil for longer than sixty seconds, one of his closest friends, nor for the reality that there could be nothing left in his stomach from the night prior. Still quite unwilling to move from his place and thereby break the spell that no doubt had a shelflife of only tonight, he resolved to fight it for as long as he could, the pad of his thumb idly running down the length of wrist hooked over his middle. Occasionally he could feel it brush the gentle pulse in his wrist, the spot where the blood tapped lazily against the space just behind the heel of his hand, and he felt another crop of goosebumps over the backs of his own arms, wishing in a moment of inspired insanity that he had the wherewithal to turn in the loose embrace.

But Iluvatar had different plans for that, too. It must have been late morning when the rhythm of the pulse he had been monitoring for what felt like hours changed, the low baritone of Glorfindel's voice filtering over him, too close to an ear. The hairs at the back of his neck were suddenly at attention; he was glad that he had neglected his nightly bed-braid.

"Of course it was me," he said shortly, his eyebrow furrowing critically though Glorfindel couldn't see it from his current vantage point. "You drew the short straw."

Well, at least they'd had the night. Sensing the inevitable clash they were heading towards now that Glorfindel was no longer drunk off horse piss and cognizant of the particulars of the last few hours, he was in no humor to have to rationalize the arm around him and the proximity of Glorfindel's face to the crown of his head to the man himself. One could be forgiven for being amorous after a few drinks, but Erestor had been stone cold sober and surely he was obligated to be more vigilant where Glorfindel could be—

The ship teetered a little, and in a backhanded kind of way, Erestor was a little glad at the sudden churning of acids that had sat all night on their own in his gut; moving like Ungoliant herself was gnashing at his heels, he rolled out of the embrace, hopped over the headboard and to the ground to pull on the same robe out of his pack—half because it was on top and easily accessible, half because he didn't want to waste freshly-laundered garments on a morning spent with his head over the gunwale again—and sprinted up the steps and out of the hatch.

The next two weeks were going to be even worse for the reality that none of the coming nights could ever be as good as the first. He could already tell.
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Joined: March 13th, 2014, 4:50 am

August 24th, 2014, 9:17 pm #18

Glorfindel's fingertips twitched, suddenly aware of the tickling brush of Erestor's fingers along his wrist, sending gooseflesh up his arm and the fine golden hairs to stand on end as if he'd been shocked by an errant transfer of electrons between them. He shivered, his eyes flicking back to the pointed tip of a familiar ear. There was a flash of imagination that lasted only a moment of what it would feel like to drag him just the few inches that remained between them, to hook a leg over his thighs and pull him flush against his chest as he shoved his hand beneath his clothes and took that ear between his teeth.

He almost did it, lingering in that realm just past dreams but not quite completely awake. Erestor's waspish retort startled him into complete awareness just before he buried his nose in the mass of soft hair before him, his brows knitting together in confusion. "No, that's not…" but Erestor had already slithered out from under his arm, moving at a pace Glorfindel could not have expected from someone who could barely walk upright the day before due to seasickness and vanishing over the headboard in mere seconds. Glorfindel stared blankly at the place that had been so abruptly vacated, the cold settling into his stomach where his source of warmth had been stolen away.

Glorfindel sighed and let his hand drop to settle in the shallow imprint left behind, feeling the residual heat as it dissipated. What had he expected to receive from that revelation even had he understood where his thoughts were? They had spoken before, he was sure of it, though at the time even the threat of death would not have helped him place a name or even a voice to a face. Realizing that Erestor had been in his uncle's service changed nothing between them, whether or not Erestor was aware of it himself. Glorfindel could not even say honestly whether that made him like him less or more. If anything it was embarrassing, for he had been a very different ellon then. Suddenly it felt like Erestor knew too much about him. Yet… he shifted and rolled into the space Erestor had left, curling up and burying his face against the musty pallet. He breathed in what was left of the councilor's scent and decidedly didn't think about the way his wrist still tingled, determined to stay in bed until he was forced out of it with the excuse that his head felt like an Annabon had trampled over it.
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