Building Relationships with the Fair Folk: 5

Fairies are finicky creatures, and so we must not expect a lot from them and we must be patient in our search for them

It had been almost two weeks and Wes wasn’t worrying. He was much too busy with papers and rotation and shopping and food prep, which took up way more time than he considered reasonable. But Pidge would want him to eat properly, even if he wasn’t there to bully Wes into it.

Leaving the window open with a glass of oat milk on the sill hadn’t lured Pidge back, and nor had the pile of glitter or the Claire’s plastic bracelet he’d got out of the hospital’s lost and found. His WhatsApp messages were left unread too and no birds had tapped on the window to tell him, in Pidge’s voice, that the Alaskan Thunder Fuck was budding and he’d be right over when the harvesting was done. Wes knew, because Jessica kept repeating it, that this was to be expected, it came with the territory of dating a supernatural creature, or a guy who was almost thirty and sold weed out of a derelict warehouse. Wes worried anyway though because maybe another of Pidge’s siblings had hurt him, or maybe he’d gotten bored of playing house with a mortal, or maybe he’d just gotten bored of Wes.  

Also, nice Mrs Silvetti, who’d only been in for a hip replacement and shown him endless pictures of her poodle, had come down with pneumonia. Yesterday she’d been fighting with Doctor Calderwood over whether Wes replacing her IV bag was more or less important than looking at Winnie in her favorite jacket, and this morning she was fighting to breathe, and now she was in a drawer down in the morgue, not fighting anything.

Patients died, Wes knew that. It came with the job. Just, it would be nice knowing it while his boyfriend spooned him and told him that changing the saline solution five minutes faster wouldn’t have helped, and that probably he didn’t need to call her daughter to check that she knew that Winnie ate chicken and rice, and never kibble because she has a delicate stomach.

Instead, Wes spent four hours going over his notes, belatedly scraped the weird crusty bits off the bowl of leftover dahl that was his dinner, and dragged himself to bed. The sheets were soft, but they smelt of his own sweat now, not detergent or Pidge. He ought to wash them, Pidge would want him to but he wasn’t here. And nor was Mrs Silvetti. Here in the world, not here in Wes’s bed.

Even if it didn’t smell like Pidge anymore – and Wes pressed the sheets to his nose to check – his fingerprints were all over it, in the ash and cigarette burns wiped off the sheets, and the softness of the mattress, which was so much more comfortable than it had been but still not comfortable enough to let Wes sleep.

There was a joint hidden inside a disposable pen in Wes’s backpack, and he crawled out of bed and rummaged, shivering, through the detritus of crumpled note pages and candy bar wrappers until he found it. One of Maple Dale’s, but Wes didn’t care. Anything that’d slow his pulse and his breathing and the churn of his mind in what wasn’t quite a panic attack but had ambitions and aspirations, and would meet them if he let it.

The weed helped. It always did.

Wes fell asleep with the stub of the joint still between his fingers and woke up to a figure crouched on his windowsill, black against the night. “Hey Wes’r,” it whispered. “You asleep?”

“Pidge?” Wes asked, and was rewarded with a sudden weight on his stomach as Pidge straddled him, and the press of night-cold lips against the corner of his mouth. It was a shock; Pidge usually gave out heat like a volcano with good abs. “Where’ve you been?”

“Out and about,” Pidge drawled. He sounded beat, but Wes couldn’t always tell weariness from his usual posturing. His smell was the same as always; herb and cold winds and something that sparkled in the nose like good cocaine, which Wes thought of as the scent of magic. “Over hill, over dale.”

“Is that Shakespeare?” He searched Pidge’s face as much as the half-light allowed for, as Pidge slithered out of his boots and pants and crawled under the covers.

“I dunno. Maybe.” Pidge’s nose brushed the curls at the nape of Wes’s neck, followed by the press of his cold lips and warmer tongue, and then a rumble of disapproval deep in Pidge’s chest. “You been smoking?”

“Yeah,” Wes said, as one of Pidge’s cold hands slid up under his shirt and Pidge’s knees pressed against the backs of Wes’s. And then, “You were gone for ages. And you didn’t text. Or send a bird.”

“Got a bit tied up.”

Wes waited for him to elaborate but, true to form, Pidge didn’t. “I’d like it if you texted,” Wes pressed. “So I know you’re okay. I was worried.”

The blankets rustled and Pidge’s fingers tensed against Wes’s stomach. “Like I said, bit tied up.” Wes recognized the brusque, uncomfortable tone from all the times he’d tried to press Pidge about Sparrow and Chick, and what his life had been like before he’d bailed on Faerie. So probably it had been something bad, and probably he wasn’t tired of dropping in on Wes.

Probably.

Rather than press, Wes lay a moment in the dark, feeling Pidge’s hands grow warm against his belly and his breaths go slow like they did before they tipped into snores. “Mrs. Silvetti died,” Wes blurted before they could.  

Pidge snuffled and then went quiet. “The old biddy with the poodle?” he said, sounding wide awake again.

“Yeah.”

“I’m sorry, bud. That’s a bitch.”

“Yeah.”

“That dog got a home to go to?”

The question made Wes’s eyes burn a little because he was ninety per cent sure Pidge didn’t actually give a damn about Winnie the poodle. “Yeah. Her daughter’s taking care of her. I keep thinking about how one day there’ll have been so many Mrs. Silvettis that it won’t even hurt, and I don’t want that, but also I kind of do. It doesn’t seem fair that helping people ends up hurting all the time. I just keep thinking, if I’d paid more attention – ”

“The hurt ain’t fair but you don’t gotta make it worse by poking at it,” Pidge said firmly, tightening his arms and pressing his chin into Wes’s shoulder. “You done everything a body could.”

“Thanks, Pidge,” Wes mumbled. Embarrassingly, even with the weight of anxiety and lingering annoyance at Pidge, hearing him say what Wes had known he’d say still reassured him.

“Anytime, baby. Always here to tell you not to be a dumbass and get some sleep.”

Wes yawned. “Except when you’re tied up.”

No answer was forthcoming, but Wes hadn’t really expected one. In the long quiet, he closed his eyes and felt the rise and fall of Pidge’s chest against his back, the brush of his breath against his neck, the slow, soothing movement of his hand along Wes’s side. If Wes couldn’t rely on Pidge to be there when his heart thudded like the bass had dropped, and the air in the room pressed against his face and clogged his lungs like wet flannel, it was really nice when he was.

That was fine. Wes didn’t expect more than that.

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