I swore not too long ago that I would NOT be starting another fanfic, ever, because I simply didn't have time. Then I was bored one day before my laptop was finished being fixed and started to read over some of the Tris/Briar fics out there on on a friend's computer, and I was hit with The Longing. Those of you who write fanfic know what I mean, too.
At the time, it was not really a big deal, I wasn't in a position to write up anything, period, and by the time lappy was back in my hands the The Longing was a distant dream. Or at least, that was the case until I went back to to check out the TP section for any juicy new fics, and then it hit me like a sack potatoes over the back of the head once more. Painful, I know. So here it is, to satisfy my longing, that I might return to updating my LH fic (sorry guys, I'll finish the last 7 or 8 pages of the next chapter as soon as this is finished!) because they have been so wonderfully patient about waiting for it.
So here it is, my one-shot contribution to this particular group of fics. Waffy and light, this mainly focuses on Tris' relationship with Glaki but it also goes into how this affects our favorite thief-boy.
Disclaimer: If you honestly think I own any of this, you're dumber than a rock. Or even dumber than that, and that's just sad. You should be ashamed if you're that dumb. And if this is a try for cash, go look elsewhere 'cuz I'm a poor college student that is out of a job at the moment. All you'll get is the week-old pizza sitting in my fridge, and maybe an empty juice box, if you're lucky.
Briar watched curiously as Tris bustled around the kitchen, making his favorite spice cookies and a berry pie as she muttered under her breath and occasionally paused to tick things off her fingers.
"Everything ok, Coppercurls?" he asked teasingly, her surprised jump making him smile as she whirled around to give him a distracted glare. Checking the oven, she pulled out one of the trays of cookies and put in another as the ex-thief leaned forward eagerly. "Say, those wouldn't-"
"They're for Glaki, not you," she said, giving him a mock glare as she wiped her hands on a towel.
"But I'm hungry…"
"Bottomless pit…at least wait until she gets here, it's not fair for you to get first dibs on her treat."
"I guess so…"
Lark's here called Daja through their magical connection, Tris immediately removing her apron as she added and I think your little guest is with her.
Coming she replied, an unusually warm smile appearing on her face. "Come on, Briar," she said as he tried to lounge innocently against the wall. "I don't trust you around those cookies anymore than I would Little Bear."
"Not trust me?" he said with a hurt note in his voice, clutching a hand to his chest. "Tris…! You wound me unfairly!"
"That I very much doubt…"
The young girl standing with their old mentor in the front hall bolted for Tris the moment she saw her, flinging herself at the fiery-haired young woman and hugging her tightly for several moments before she would let go.
"I missed you," she said when she finally did, holding onto Tris's hand with both of hers as Tris kissed her lovingly on the forehead, a display of affection that surprised her housemates who stood there watching. They had met Glaki briefly in the past, but usually apart from Tris or when the weather-witch was distracted with other things.
"I missed you too," replied Tris, looking up to trade warm looks with the earth dedicate. "How are you, Lark?"
"Good. I would stay longer, but they're expecting me soon. Behave, Glaki, and I'll be back in the morning."
"Glaki, you remember Uncle Briar and Aunt Daja," said Tris as she steered the little girl towards her housemates, the large smith kneeling to trade shy smiles with the little girl.
"It looks live you've grown," observed Daja, holding her hand up to the little girl's head.
"Two inches," replied Glaki proudly. "Lark says I'm gonna be tall when I get bigger."
"I would think so." Standing, she added, "I would like to stay and talk more, little Glaki, but I have work to do in my forge. Make yourself at home, I'm sure Tris will take good care of while you're here."
"Tris always takes good care of me," replied Glaki with a grin.
"Remember me?" asked Briar as he stood beside Tris, grin stretching across his face. "C'mon, Tris made some cookies for you that smell really good, and she wouldn't let me have one until you were here."
The small girl immediately perked up at that. "Cookies? Where?"
Briar grinned, a little girl after his own heart. "In the kitchen."
She turned to look up at her guardian, hope gleaming in her eyes. "May I, Tris?"
Tris just smile. "Of course, I made them just for you."
Briar retreated with his cookies to his garden once he had as many as he could get away with carrying. He spent most of the day with his shakkan and other plants, trimming and shaping them to enhance their magical properties. Occasionally he heard laughter and voices drifting from the different places in the house Tris and their guest were, but for the most part he kept to his work and had lunch and dinner brought to him when he was hungry. It wasn't until much later that he went upstairs to borrow something from Tris that he saw either of the pair that day.
Tris sat on the pallet next to Glaki, running a hand through her neatly brushed hair as they spoke quietly. The younger girl lay on a pallet beside Tris' bed, her sleeping place for the night. Their one day together had been spent in a wonderful mood of idleness and play, but now it was at an end and on the morrow Lark would come to collect her young charge once more.
"Are you sure you can't come live with us?" whispered the small girl, a hopeful look on her face as she hugged the doll Tris had first given her. One small hand reached up towards her face, and the elder young woman obligingly leaning over to let her plant a sticky kiss on her cheek and return the favor gently when she was done. "Or that I can't come here?"
"Yes, I'm sure," she replied, her sad gray eyes meeting those of her young companion. "Maybe I…" she faltered, eyes watering as she blinked rapidly to hold back the forming tears.
"I miss you lots," the little girl told her, squeezing her hand tightly. "Lark is really nice, an' takes good care of me, but I want to live with you."
"I miss you too," replied Tris, "Especially when I had to go traveling again, and I didn't get to come and visit you all summer. When I graduate from Lightsbridge, maybe we'll talk about you coming to live with me, ok? It won't happen any sooner, but maybe then."
"I'll be a lot bigger then," said Glaki as she yawned, her eyelids beginning to droop tiredly. "Lot bigger…I could take care of myself…"
"If you get too much bigger you won't need me at all," teased the weather-witch, trying to lighten the mood as she swiped a hand over her eyes.
"No!" Tris blinked in surprise as Glaki actually rose up out of the pallet, clinging to the young woman's neck fiercely as she denied the claim vehemently. "I'll always need you! Always! Never, ever, ever won't need you!" Her words touched her companions heart, and Tris cradled her gently as she quietly assured her she wasn't serious and would not be going anywhere for quite some time. "Promise?" asked Glaki before she would let go, putting her face close to Tris' and staring seriously into her eyes.
"Promise," replied Tris, kissing her on the forehead and slowly easing her back into the bed. "Now, it's time for you to be abed. Lark comes early for you tomorrow, and it wouldn't do for you to still be sleepy."
"Sing to me? Please? You haven't sang since we got back in the spring. Please?"
Tris smiled softly, nodding as she did. "Ok, but just one. Then sleep?"
Singing a common lullaby, her voice was low and sweet as she sang softly to the dear Glaki who listened raptly to every word, eyes sleepy but content as they stayed trained on her fiery-headed guardian. The song coming to an end, Tris tucked the covers around the young girl before giving her a final kiss on the forehead and standing to leave. She wouldn't be tired for at least a few hours more, and she had left personal projects on hold to spend the day with the young girl.
Briar, who had watched the entire exchange from outside, stood in the shadows silently trying to form coherent thoughts and wasn't able to get past the motherly tenderness Tris had just displayed with the young girl. He hadn't meant to intrude upon this private moment, but seeing his usually closed foster sister wear her heart on her sleeve for this young girl he grew strangely resentful of her. Jealous…? He asked himself in his mind, and immediately shoved it away. She's just a kid…there's no reason…
"Tris…" she whispered with a yawn. "I…love you…"
Tris felt her throat tighten at that, and smiling back at her replied, "I love you too, Glaki. Sleep well."
Panicking as she came out into the hall and he forgot while he was there, he was about to fall back on his usual reactions and tease his foster sister when she paused outside the door and pulled a handkerchief out, almost burying her face in it as her shoulders shook silently. Her room and workshop where the only things on that topmost floor, so it was a rare thing to find one of her foster siblings up there. The ex-thief stood there awkwardly, hesitating too long over what to do when she glanced up and caught sight of him, immediately dashing her tears away and trying to put a mask of calm in place.
Snorting in irritation, he simply said, "You don't have to do that."
"Do what?" she replied stubbornly, setting her chin mulishly. "And what are you doing up here?"
"I was going to ask to borrow the book you mentioned last week," he admitted with a shrug, letting her divert him for the moment. "But it doesn't look like you want to be disturbed. If you want I can come back later…?"
Shaking her head, she turned away to walk into the second of the three rooms she had take over, a small affair that was literally lined in bookshelves with two comfy but worn chairs in the center. "No, if I don't give it to you now you'll forget."
He stayed inside the doorway as she rummaged around one shelf in particular, watching her as he went back over the way she had managed to shock him once again. Without thinking, he asked, "Why didn't you ever sing for me?"
"What?" Startled, she straightened quickly, the volume in hand as she looked at him with wide eyes. "Briar, were you…?"
"Us, why didn't you ever sing for us," he amended quickly. "Your voice is really kinda good. At least…I liked listening to it. Sandry and Daja would've probably enjoyed it too."
Tris flamed a bright red, trying to control herself and pretty much failing. "I…I guess I never...you weren't supposed to be listening, Briar! That was very rude."
"You're the bleater that left the door cracked," he reminded her with a teasing grin. "And your voice carries, might have something to do with the winds you keep as pets."
"That still doesn't…oh, never mind. Here's the book." Thrusting it in his hands, she pushed past him and went into her workshop, obviously expecting him to leave.
Hesitating for only a heartbeat, he followed her to find she had curled up in an overstuffed chair beside her large windows, thrown open to let in the evening breeze while she cradled a crude necklace in her hands. So wrapped up in the crudely made glass beads strung along a thin, leather thong with a one of the glass flames Chime liked to belch up after eating as the center piece, she didn't notice his presence as he silently approached.
"Did Glaki make that for you?" he asked, his voice thick with some unknown emotion as he set the book aside, standing so he was looking over her shoulder at the pretty necklace.
Jumping in surprise once again, she was about to berate him for sneaking up on her when she saw the understanding look in his eyes and desire to know more. Settling back in her chair she nodded, taking a deep breath to control her jittering emotions before she said, "Keth let Glaki help him make it, and they gave it to me together our last night before we left him with his family to continue his glass training."
"Keth," repeated Briar, feeling something tighten deep in his gut as he came around to perch on the edge of the window. "Your lightning student, right?"
"Yes…" Getting lost in her thoughts for a moment, Briar felt something ugly mounting in his chest as her eyes saw things of the past, things that seemed to trouble her. Could she have…? "He offered to take Glaki, permanently adopt her, just before we parted ways," she said suddenly, eyes in focus once more. "He always did feel responsible in a way…"
"Do you hear from him often?" he asked, trying not to clench his teeth as he did. "And why did he want to take Glaki?"
Tris' eyes flew to him, studying him in confusion. "No," she replied slowly, trying to gauge what was wrong as she did. "He felt he could provide a home for her, be her father. And he was getting married a few months later at the time, which would also given her a mother, and the mage school they have there is almost is as good as Lightsbridge. I haven't heard from him since the wedding, though." Her voice was steady as she spoke of Keth, obviously not quite as emotionally attached to the young man as she was the young girl in the other room. "Briar…are you ok?
Briar felt something relax around his heart, and let out the breath he had been holding inside. "Mm…I think I ate too much dessert," he fudged with a shrug. "I'm fine."
"I wonder, sometimes, if I did the right thing…she could have had a permanent family…a father and a mother…"
"But by then you couldn't stand to leave her behind," he finished for her, hearing the warmth and protectiveness return to her voice. "Besides, you'll probably adopt her one day, after you get that Lightsbridge nonsense out of your system, and I'm sure you'll be a good mother to her."
"Maybe so, and Lightsbridge is not nonsense, but either way I still can't give her a father," she protested, fingering the necklace as she looked past him to the clear night sky. "It always seemed like we had both, with Lark, Rosethorn, Frostpine, and Niko around…"
"What, you don't plan on getting married someday?" he asked, mildly surprised. When she gave him a flat look, he defended himself with, "What? You're good at keeping a house in order, you practically run this one for Daj' half the time, you can cook, you can care for kids…you're practically the perfect wife!"
"Except there's this small problem of me working forces of nature that most people are afraid of," she countered, her voice taking on a slightly acidic tone. "Briar, my own student used to turn green and back away when I started messing with my braids. Glaki and our teachers are probably the only people I know who don't shy away when they realize how much power I have stored in my hair alone outside of our circle."
She was about to add more when he held up one hand, nodding towards the door. Turning around, she found Glaki standing there, eyes sleepy and doll dragging from one arm as she walked the rest of the way in and climbed up into Tris's lap.
"What are you doing still awake?" asked Tris, putting the necklace aside and cuddling the small girl in her lap. "You were supposed to go to sleep after I left."
"M'not tired," she said around a yawn as she put her head under Tris's chin, looking at Briar. The young woman seemed to hesitate for a moment, unsure of how to act with her brother present, before giving way to the instincts that tugged at her heart and cuddling the young girl in her arms tenderly. Briar watched with a guarded look, obviously losing himself for a moment before he snapped back to the present.
"Little girls shouldn't lie," Tris told her, getting a murmured apology as the young girl settled more firmly into the gentle arms that embraced her.
"Something wake you up?" asked Briar as he crouched to be on eye level with her.
"I heard voices, loud ones," she said, glancing up at Tris with a frown. "Where you thundering inside?"
"No, I wasn't angry," replied Tris, immediately giving her a gentle hug. "Just…startled. Your Uncle Briar snuck up on me, and I didn't appreciate it."
"Sneaky-sneaky?" she asked, giving Briar a wicked grin.
"Sneaky-sneaky," he agreed with a wink. "You have to be careful, though, she tends to go zappy-spark on you if you go sneaky on her too much."
"And I think it's time for you to sneak back into bed before he corrupts you anymore," said Tris, standing carefully as she took the young girl with her. In a year or so she wouldn't be able to lift Glaki like this anymore, but for the time being she still fit in her arms. "Say goodnight to Uncle Briar."
"Can he come with us?" she asked suddenly as she played with a free wisp of a curl at the base of Tris's neck, looking up at her guardian hopefully.
"I don't think that's a good idea," he replied quickly, seeing the uncertainty in his foster sister's face. "She's much better at tucking little girls in than I am."
"How you gonna get better if you don't practice," she countered. "Please?"
"Briar has other things to do, sweety," Tris told her, smoothing her hair as she frowned in disappointment. "It is getting late…."
"I guess I could help, this once," he said suddenly, unable to take the sad look she was giving him from her pseudo-mother's shoulder. "Is that ok with you?"
"Of course," replied Tris quickly, covering her surprise by turning to lead the way to the bedroom. "I'm just a little...you never wanted anyone else to help tuck you in, before."
"He does sneaky-sneaky," she explained as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "Sneaky-sneaky is the best!"
"Sneaky-sneaky gets little girls in trouble," Tris mock growled at her, tickling her side so the young girl giggled and squirmed in her arms. Glancing back at Briar with a grin, she added, "Foster brothers, too."
"But only if it looks like Coppercurls's going sparky, right?" added Briar, moving ahead of her to get the door and hold it open so she could go in without shifting her hold on the young girl.
"Right," Glaki replied, dark eyes dancing.
"That's enough, you two," scolded Tris gently, sitting back down beside the pallet and tucking Glaki firmly between the covers. Briar squatted beside her, keeping a bit back incase he found himself not wanted. "Comfy?"
"Good." Leaning over, Tris gave her one last kiss and received one in return before she stood. "Goodnight, Glaki."
"G'night. Your turn, Uncle Briar."
The two young adults traded amused glances as Briar took Tris's place, the weather-witch stepping back a bit to watch curiously as her foster brother tweaked her young charges nose before bidding her a goodnight and starting to stand.
"You 'spose to kiss me," protested Glaki as she caught his sleeve, Briar looking to Tris who just shrugged enigmatically with a thoughtful look on her face.
"I don't even kiss Tris or Daja goodnight, and they're my sisters," he defended himself weakly, all of his defenses going under as she looked at him with those big, wistful eyes.
"You don't kiss your sisters goodnight?" she replied, her voice plaintively soft. "That's so sad! Everyone needs kisses goodnight."
"It's time for you to sleep," said Briar firmly, giving her a slight brush of a kiss on her forehead and letting her place a childish peck on his cheek in return. Something seemed to spark in his heart just then, a longing he couldn't quite describe though it matched what he had felt when he had watched Tris do the exact same thing earlier that evening. "Goodnight, sneaky Glaki."
"Goodnight, sneaky Uncle Briar," she replied with a grin.
Tris held the door open for him as he left, trading one last tender smile with Glaki before she close the door softly and turned to glance at the plant mage.
"What?" he asked when she took a breath as if to speak, then let it out slowly.
"You'll make a good father someday," was all she said, turning away to the emotions that shown from the depth of her eyes. "You have a…gift, for children I mean."
"Kids aren't that much different from us," he surmised simply with a shrug, trying to ignore the way his heart had jumped a bit. "Most adults just don't seem to realize that."
She paused as if she were about to say something more, then shook her head. Turning around to face him, she found he was right behind her, and both seemed to freeze as they realized how close their proximity was.
"Ah…" Briar stopped her from taking a step back with one hand on her shoulder, leaning forward as she closed her eyes to quickly kiss her forehead before leaning down to whisper in her ear. "Goodnight, Coppercurls." A bit surprised and dazed, she wasn't given time to collect herself and reply as he quickly pulled away and headed back down to where his own rooms were.
Touching her forehead where his lips had touched it, she blinked a few times before whispering breathlessly. "Goodnight, Briar…"
Now, I think some of you may sense as I do that there is probably a longer story stored somewhere in those paragraphs. Do you want to write it? Email me at my listed address or drop me a reply in the review box with your email and we'll discuss the possibility. If I get multiple request for it within the first few days, and I'm unfamiliar with your writing style, I may ask for some of your work to have an idea. No offense, but if I'm going to hand over a story idea, I want to make sure it's in good hands who can run with it to the end.
Take this idea for yourself without my permission and I will hunt you do to the end of your days.
Review and let me know what you thought, good or bad, and I hope you enjoyed reading this small tale.