Author: Maiden of the Moon PM
Nathaniel was a thorn in Bartimaeus' side. But now that he is dead, now that the thorn is gone, the resulting wound is free to fester and ooze and bleed... [BartimaeusxNathaniel with hints of BartimaeusxPtolemy.]Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Angst - Words: 1,567 - Reviews: 37 - Favs: 77 - Follows: 7 - Published: 05-27-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3560231
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I own… well, nothing, really. At all. It's rather depressing, when you get right down to it.
Author's Note: I was shocked to have found any fanfics at all of this pairing; let's keep the love alive, authors! XD
Dedication: For my fellow ship-mates. :D
Warnings: Slash! BartimaeusxNathaniel with hints of BartimaeusxPtolemy. Mwahahahaaaaaa… (Yeah, das what I is talkin' 'bout, yo. X3)
Also, this is probably kind of OOC. But I don't really care, to be honest. I'm pretty pleased with it. (Employs a djinn to protect her from flames.)
One of the things he hated most about Earth—apart from the magicians, the pain, the enslavement, the ingratitude, the whining, the fighting, the exhaustion, the people, the smells, the metal, the rivalries, the chores, and the dangers—was the way the place made him think.
He hated thinking.
When he was at home, when he was in the Other Place—devoid of all reason for being except for the simple pleasure of the task— he had no desire to do anything but float. To merely exist among his brethren, carefree and thoughtless. In the Other Place, he had no need for feelings or memories… just as he had no need to breathe, or to take a form, or to make those exceptionally witty remarks for which he was so beloved.
But no— on Earth, he was more conscious. More awake. More in tune with the essence that made up… well, himself: the memories and the people and the events that had defined him as Bartimaeus of Uruk, Necho of Jerusalem, Sakhr al-Jinn of al-Arish, N'gorso the Mighty, Serpent of the Silver Plumes, Wakonda of the Algonquin, Rekhyt of Alexandria.
…more aware of the emotions, thoughts, and feelings that he would have much rather dealt without. Emotions, thoughts, and feelings like…
Like how much he hated Nathaniel.
Hated him—hated him with every speck of his essence. Hated how he had strutted around like a pompous peacock; how he had sneered and cursed like the magician he was; how he had ignored him— how he would ignore him for days!— just to do his stupid ministry job. How he'd buried his once-innocent conscience. How he'd gone and dug up that hidden heart—how he'd killed himself without letting the djinn get a word in edgewise.
But most of all, he hated Nathaniel because he loved him.
That was the feeling he really wished he could forget. That love.
He didn't understand how it had happened— where had it come from? What did it mean? And how could he possibly care for that boy, that weasel, that worm, that insignificant blotch on a long list of powerful masters? The little fool whose name he had learnt so many, many, many years ago…?
His affections for Ptolemy, at least, he could appreciate. Ptolemy had been gentle and kind—offering words of adoration, admiration, and awe where Nathaniel had only sneers, sarcasm, and scolding. Ptolemy cared for him, showed an interest in his world and stories. Nathaniel only ever saw him as a means to an end. They were nothing alike: Ptolemy a rose where Nathaniel was the thorns.
But… but that metaphor didn't explain everything: like why Nathaniel had insisted on calling him time and time again. Powerful and magnificent though he was, he knew the boy's name. Never a good thing. And the boy knew that. Because while Nathaniel was many— mostly uncomplimentary— things, as humans went he was rather smart. In that regard, his actions made no sense… unless, of course…
Another thing that went unexplained were those feelings of jealousy he'd learnt of when their minds were one: jealousy of his special bond with Kitty. Why the envy? He sounded like a spoilt child, resentful of the new baby in the family. Complete rubbish.
And finally, the metaphor failed to explain—and this was the kicker—why the ungrateful little sod had saved him in the end.
…then again, thorns are there to protect…
In that instant, much to his own surprise, Bartimaeus found himself wishing: wishing that he could have been a thorn at that moment—the moment when Nathaniel had banished him for the last time. Wished he could have helped him, somehow. Saved him, somehow. From all of the glass and iron as it crushed his broken, bleeding body, smearing it into the red-stained dust.
Then the djinn shook his head—or, rather, Nathaniel's head, in the crisp way the boy used to, back when he was John Mandrake. The what-I'm-thinking-is-utter-nonsense sort of shake. Because really, that was what his musings were: a load of utter nonsense. There was nothing he could have done— he knew that. Absolutely nothing. And, to be honest, even if there had been…
In the glow of the silver-blue moonlight, Bartimaeus pursed his puppet's lips, rapping his fingers against his chin as he stared out the open bay window. Even if there had been… well, another way to escape, a way to save his master, would he have taken it? Would he have tried? He wasn't sure. On the one hand, in the crazed lull before the final strike, he had been ready, albeit somewhat reluctant, to die with the boy. But to save him? Would he have so openly shown that much affection? He supposed, after it was all over, he could have brushed what had happened aside, claiming that he had only acted to save his own skin. But deep inside he would have known…
Then again, if they had both been saved, Nathaniel never would have had to sacrifice himself— never would have had to release his good side. Would things have gone back to the way they were, nothing but arguments and loathing and general distrust?
But they had shared his body—Nathaniel had shown him some trust, some respect, when allowing that… So…
This was why he hated Earth. He hated how human it made him feel—Him! Bartimaeus! Builder of the walls of Prauge, destroyer of civilizations, advisor of Solomon! He, whose grand and numerous exploits had been praised and sung for millennia! Here he was, questioning himself, wondering, pondering, lamenting, wishing…
From his seat near the window—where he was keeping watch for his paranoid new master— Bartimaeus' tapping fingers slowed. They fell against his cool chin much more pointedly than before, slipping down the silk-smooth skin in a more caressing manner. The tip of a hesitant pinkie ran the length of Nathaniel's lip; the puppet closed its eyes, and the djinn allowed the tickling sensation to resonate though his essence.
He hated it, these human urges. Why couldn't people be as djinn, simply existing for the joy of being alive? No—they had to wonder and remember and love and hate and need…
With silent fingers, Bartimaeus began unsnapping the buttons of Nathaniel's crisp suit-shirt, running his hands down the teenager's chest and remembering when he was truly one with the magician.
"You were a thorn… a thorn in my side…" he muttered to himself, speaking the words in Nathaniel's voice. It was, after all, a sentiment they shared. As if in emphasis, the fingers slipped farther and farther down his body, past the line of decency. "Just as all my other masters… I hate you."
But now that the thorn was gone—ripped from him without mercy or warning, allowing the wound to bleed freely and fester and ooze… he was no better than when he'd started. Rather, he was worse than before.
The make-shift body trembled, doubled over, muscles clenching, teeth gnashing and heart throbbing. The puppet bit its lip, writhing in sweet agony, and Bartimaeus could feel his essence doing similar things inside of him.
Then it was over. Done. And he was alone in the moonlight, with nothing but the stars to keep him company. The same stars he had seen with Ptolmey… and Nathaniel.
Again, Bartimaeus curled his lip, regarding his palm with disgust. Why had he done that? Right off hand—ha ha—he could think of no reason. No reason except that he could. And in the Other Place, that would have been reason enough, he supposed.
But this was not the Other Place. This was Earth. And he was nostalgic and alone in the empty blackness, with nothing but the guise of a memory to keep the nightmares away.
Dear God, he hated this place! Hated this confusion, this aching, this guilt, this stupid, pointless longing! Hated it, hated it, hated it…!
"Almost as much as I hate you," Bartimaeus hissed, just to hear his voice. The words echoed noiselessly though the dank bedroom, bouncing off the walls and dressers and desks and bookcases before returning to his ears—still a soft snarl, still in the boy's voice. And for a moment it made him feel as if Nathaniel were still alive, whispering his anger in his ear… his anger and his sadness.
Suddenly, Bartimaeus felt uncharacteristically small.
And so Nathaniel's doppelganger wrapped his arms around himself and sunk deeper into his chair, deeper into thought, and deeper into despair.