At Bay

By Kay

Disclaimer: Your mom owns Beastmaster. Yo.

Author's Notes: Dar and Tao friendship, hurt and comfort drabble! Takes place in the first season, references the fact that Tao attempts to give Dar a vegetable and fruit garden before he tries to leave on his journey again. Dar is not pleased and wrecks it. I hope you enjoy! Thanks!

The fever burns hot against Dar's fingers, uncomfortable in the humidity of the late summer, but he refuses to remove them for very long. He's found out the hard way that Tao is too easily overtaken by hallucination in this state, and is in no mood (an entire day crouching in the same camping spot, bringing water from too far away and telling Tao there are no eyes in the shadows, he will keep them at bay) to listen to his friend's feeble cries another hour. Connected, Tao seems to believe himself safe, and so he rests. In spurts, occasionally attempting to instruct Dar which herbs to grind for him, but a sort of rest nevertheless.

Podo clacks his teeth nervously. He's wound so far up Tao's shirt that Dar can only see the tip of his nose peeking from the collar. He spares a second to reassure the creature. It's only a bit of fruit. Fruit Tao should have never eaten and, knowing his expertise in plants, had taken by mistake while rummaging in the dark. The resulting illness is alarming, but hardly deadly. Tao is trouble, in the end of things, as he always is.

Hardly deadly, besides, or Dar would have already moved them closer to the village nearby-but-not-nearly-close-enough. Tao has broken it twice, grumbled about the inefficiency of his timing, and fallen into sleep without any comment for the gentle press of Dar's hand on his temple. That is Tao's way. If it had been Dar, no doubt Tao would have done the same, if for different reasons.

For now, he hovers. Soon, the fever will break for the last time (it has to be the last, Dar is too impatient and worried, yes, like a twisting stone in his belly, and the village can't be that far, surely) and Tao will lecture him on the many things he should have done to care for a fever. They will wash Tao's clothes, and maybe swim in the river and dry on the warm rocks of the bank, like children—

Tao's stuttered inhale makes Dar frown. He pushes back the damp hair matted to his friend's forehead and thinks, for the first time, 'Maybe I should let him have his garden.'