Disclaimer: Certainly not.
Warnings: homosexuality, spoilers, and slight AU for a few
It's A Harsh Thing
Nathaniel's hands are white-knuckled in determination as he dismisses Bartimaeus for the last time, and the fact that the ring of state on his finger seems dull and bulky on such a lovely hand is all Bartimaeus can think of; it hasn't hit yet, despite the destruction conjuring about him.
"Bartimaeus, so help me, if you sing that song one more time—!" is all Nathaniel can bark out before the illusion of a sultry-looking, young Egyptian man is inches from his nose.
Bartimaeus doesn't know which is more difficult: keeping himself sane or pushing back each golden recollection of that idiot boy.
Maybe, Bartimaeus thinks grumpily as he fetched—of all the ridiculous things!—a glass of water for his sleepless master, some storage for each grief that little bugger is imposing on me is in order (just to give him a little jump).
Nathaniel believes in fate and that very little can escape its iron grip, so he justifies sleeping with his oldest servant with the fact that Bartimaeus would never have let him get away that easy.
"This is all your doing," Nathaniel decides nasally, shivering and dripping as he steps through the front door, sneezing explosively, "you know I won't be able to go to work now"; Bartimaeus tries to school his features into innocence, thinking, Nat, really, don't you know that I'd rather have you even whinier than the norm than not around at all?
"I AM NOT LOIS LANE, NOW PUT ME BACK ON THE GROUND THIS INSTANT, YOU STUPID SERVANT!"
The Other Place has no temperature—because it is everything and nothing all at once—but it's no external feeling of cold that freezes Bartimaeus' insides.
Nathaniel is so boring when he is working, so Bartimaeus takes it upon himself as a faithful and obedient servant to provide some entertainment; adopting the guise of a redheaded young man, he appears between Nathaniel's legs as the human sits at his desk and huskily whispers, "Want to find out if this is my real color?" just to see Nathaniel reel back and splutter.
It's sickeningly domestic how they splice up the can, just delivered to them from Piper: Bartimaeus wolfs down (with surprising finesse) each ring of sliced pineapple as Nathaniel dips a bit into his tea, ignoring Bartimaeus' false gagging noises of disgust.
Nathaniel always complains when Bartimaeus slides into his bed to bother him at unspeakably early hours, but he never orders him to leave.
The Prime Minister has invited, of all outlandish things, a Puritan theologist to speak to the higher-ups; he's ranting about the dangers of the flesh, and it's all Nathaniel can do to retain a straight face and think, You have no idea.
The view in Nathaniel's office is beautiful, but Bartimaeus wants him to be back home again, even if he's just that annoying.
Nathaniel has the voice of a shrieking camel, and he actually does shriek (in surprise, this time) as Bartimaeus sticks his head literally through the shower curtain to tell him, lovingly, to shut the hell up.
Nathaniel's hair is not that of silk, like waxing poets may promise one's love's perfect scalp will sprout, but is a sweet texture of warm coarseness that Bartimaeus can't fault nonetheless.
Bartimaeus has many sighs that each inevitably lead to a witty rant, so when Nathaniel hears the you're-hogging-the-bedsheets-and-it-better-stop-now-you-foolish-human sigh, he's quick to shove his grumpy boyfriend more of the comforter.
Bartimaeus and Nathaniel are both so imperfect and demanding, and each vow they make can be broken in an instant, but Nathaniel prays this one will stay strong.
Bartimaeus can't decide if it's a nightmare or a dream when Nathaniel's placing a warm, slender-fingered hand on his shoulder and telling him, "You're not allowed to leave me, now."
When Nathaniel irritably asks "And what, now we ride into the sunset to candlelit dinner of fine wine and silly French cuisine?" Bartimaeus just rolls his eyes and thinks, You just had to kill the moment, didn't you?
Nathaniel's body has a thin sheen of sweat and he's still shaking as he gasps out, "Where the hell did you learn that?" and Bartimaeus just rolls his eyes and snarks, "Girl scouts."
The square is filled with the honks of cars and words of mortal flesh, but all Bartimaeus hears nothing at all as he spies the statue erected in memory of John Mandrake.
Bartimaeus' spent his existence alone so long that at the very end of the long wandering he's spent out in the world, he's just grateful to find Nathaniel waiting for him there at the end of it.
Kitty looks away from Bartimaeus, thinking, Save a little hell for us, Nat.
"Show-off," Nathaniel shoots at Bartimaeus, who responds in kind, "Weakling" as he hands back the newly-opened jar of tomato sauce.
"Out of all the centuries I've suffered with humans for masters, this is by far the worst outfit I've ever seen in any time period," Bartimaeus mentioned primly as master and servant paraded into the party, Bartimaeus in the guise of a butler.
He's pretty sure that the heart of an icy forest qualifies as "in the middle of nowhere" in anybody's book, but while he's holding a bundled-up magician with an embarrassingly red nose, he's sure that this qualifies as "somewhere", or maybe even "everywhere Bartimaeus wants to be".
One of the hardest memories to face is when he had complained to Nathaniel, "I don't like it when you talk about falling in love and happily ever afters", and when Nathaniel had shot back, "But that's how every story's supposed to end!"
John Mandrake's body might be gone, but Bartimaeus would be damned if he let go of the memory of Nathaniel.
It's so difficult for Nathaniel to even consider dancing with Bartimaeus—for one thing, Bartimaeus' chosen body always moves with such strong, intimidating, alluring grace, especially while dancing; and for another, Bartimaeus dances a dance of a forgotten, old world.
It is so aggravating to Nathaniel, who will never see Bartimaeus' true form; he feels almost unfaithful whenever he is attracted to his servant and boyfriend's forced guises.
Times have changed, and a djinni is no longer something so uncommon, and therefore something less consecrated; however, Bartimaeus is nevertheless worshipped by Nathaniel.
Bartimaeus hates that he never got a chance to say a true goodbye, and when Kitty asked him quietly what he would have said, Bartimaeus comes up blank.
It's so cliché, and every time Bartimaeus had heard this before Nathaniel's untimely departure from him, he had scoffed, but the world really is a lot less of everything without Nathaniel being an idiot by his side.
Nathaniel had been raised with formality and stiff procedure, so the first time Bartimaeus had pulled him by the waist back into bed, he had been a force to be reckoned with, even for the poor demon.
"This is what I get for listening to you and kissing you in the middle of the street on the rainiest day of the year," Nathaniel muttered, no opening his eyes in the morning and just knowing he was ill.
Despite his wittiness, sarcasm, and biting sense of humor, it was a rare and wonderful thing when Bartimaeus laughed.
There are times when Kitty wonders if she's just a substitute, or "second best", but Nathaniel always assures her that that's a lie; yet, she sees the broken looks of longing between master and servant, and knows that she's been lied to.
"Forever's a long time, so don't skip out on me," Bartimaeus warns gruffly, not meeting Nathaniel's eyes, but just sensing the smile creeping over the human's face.
It's a startling revelation when Nathaniel realizes that though Bartimaeus is indeed forced to do Nathaniel's bidding, Bartimaeus still would have done it all for Nathaniel if he possessed free will.
Nathaniel's still sobbing hoarsely in pleasure and shaking with the last ripples of a fading orgasm, and Bartimaeus is knelt over him, peppering his face with warm kisses and whispering how he is perfection when he's coming in Bartimaeus' hand.
Bartimaeus can't help but wait for someone who's never coming back, and it's killing him.
Both servant and master have always been talkers (well, ever since Nathaniel's grown a pair, anyway), but it's just so silent and awkward when they both acknowledge their attraction for each other until Bartimaeus sarcastically asks, "So, how's life?"
When Nathaniel had come across Bartimaeus as the perfect demon to enact his revenge, he had never considered just what the demon would come to mean to him.
Hope is gone with Nathaniel, and when Kitty quietly asks why he bothers smiling anymore, Bartimaeus shrugs and mutters, "I can still hope, can't I?"
When Nathaniel had still been Nathaniel and not John Mandrake, Mrs. Underwood and he had enjoyed crafting paper celestial bodies—stars and moons and even a comet with a tip liberally sprinkled with golden glitter-glue; he found himself doing the same thing, just to keep his hands busy, until Bartimaeus returned silently while he was busy to replace the construction paper with his hands and a kiss to each palm.
There's no such thing as gravity in Nathaniel's world in that lethargic space of time just before supper; if Bartimaeus isn't spooking him by lifting him his hands until he's a few feet above the floor, he's kissing Nathaniel soundly.
Bartimaeus was never one for the scenic route, and so he gleefully drags a protesting Nathaniel along the halls of art until they reach the modern art gallery just to point and laugh at everything.
The scent is warm, human, and full of sandalwood and orange juice—but who the hell is it, really?
It takes a little more than a new collection of door locks to prevent Bartimaeus from busting down the front door to bellow out, "Honey, I'm home!"
Each breath is agony and his vision is turning fuzzy by slow increments, but the thing that pains Nathaniel the most is that he never got to tell Bartimaeus how much he was loved.