And here's a fun little piece I've had sitting in my folder since...wow, since the summer, just waiting for the right time to release it upon the world! If you're coming upon this separately, it's a spin-off from my main story, Brotherhood, but it works reasonably well on its own, too.
So here you go, enjoy!
Eywa's Grace Chapter 1~ So There I Was...
Miles Quaritch looked down at his chest. Well, whatever was going on, the massive tree-trunk fucking arrows were gone, at least. Then he caught sight of something in a distinctly Na'vi shade of blue out of the corner of his eye. He spun around looking for it, his hand going instinctively to where his piece ought to be holstered at his hip, but it wasn't there. He looked down to see if it'd just been shifted somehow when he'd been lying down, and that was when he saw his hand. Really saw it, I mean, not just registered that it was there, and that it was his hand, presumably attached to his arm and all that good stuff.
His hand was blue.
He blinked, raising the...disturbingly-coloured appendage to rub his eyes, blinked again...
It was STILL fucking BLUE!
What the hell kind of bad joke was this anyway?
He was sure it wasn't just his hands either, but just in case, he quickly stripped off his shirt. Yup, definitely blue, and not only that, but he seemed to have lost a lot of muscle mass. One hand moved up to feel the shape of his face, and he found the scars still there, but he definitely had blue-monkey ears, and...yeah, and the long, pansy-ass hair too, although only at the back of his head; the top was still in its proper military buzzcut thank God.
He had a tail too, he soon realized, as the creepy fuckin' thing started whipping back and forth. Hell. He had to be in Hell; that was the only explanation. If it really was Hell, though, he'd better just check and make sure all the...rest of his body was in one piece. Glancing around quickly to make sure nobody else was near enough to see, he unzipped his pants and looked down. Well, at least the necessary bits were still there, even if they were FUCKING BLUE LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE.
That was when he started to swear. Loudly and using some of the nastiest words he could think up. He felt too...healthy and pain-free for this to actually be Hell, not that he believed in Hell anyway. Which only left one option, although he didn't like admitting he'd been wrong.
He also didn't know why the fuck the planet or goddess or whatever-the-fuck it was the Na'vi prayed to would have bothered to upload him of all people.
Once his initial burst of indignation had burned off, he finally started to look around himself. When he'd first woken up, he'd thought he was still by the spot where he'd...been shot (he didn't like thinking "died" although it was obviously the case) but no, he was somewhere else. There wasn't any human habitation, or at least not any modern human habitation, just a lakeshore and a bunch of Pandoran trees surrounding it, and a weird log house/hut/thing built up next to one of the trees. And in the door of that hut, someone was standing hipshot, leaning against the door frame and clapping slowly.
"Oh bravo," she said, and even if he hadn't recognized the voice right off he definitely knew that desert-dry wit, "I wasn't aware you had such a wide vocabulary, I'm dutifully impressed! I thought you were only capable of a maximum of five words at a time. Finished now?"
"Yes," Quaritch said sulkily, mostly because at this point, any further swearing would only make him seem less in control than he already felt.
"Good, because I hate to tell you this, but... I told you so," she grinned.
"So are you the real deal or are you a figment of my memory and imagination?" he asked as he walked closer, trying to get a better look at her.
"Oh I'm the real deal, thanks to you," she frowned, "was it really necessary to shoot me? Gut shots fucking hurt, you know!"
"What? When the fuck did I do that?" he frowned, "I mean, not that you didn't piss me off but I think I'd remember actually getting a shot in at you." He refused to ask how long it had taken. He...didn't want to think about that. He knew what getting gut-shot could do to a person; he'd lost enough men under his command to various injuries over the years to know that was one of the nastiest.
"Oh so you've forgotten how you fired on us as we were retreating?" she raised an eyebrow, "Come on now, even your memory can't be that bad."
"Shit," he swore quietly. "I wasn't aiming for you, you know," he admitted, "I was aiming for the Sampson, you must've just...got in the way."
"Oh so now it's my fault?" she glared, "I don't think so. This is all you. Shoot first; ask questions later, isn't that how you military types think?"
He shook his head. "Well I didn't mean it. I might've been tempted to shoot you sometimes but I wouldn't've actually done it."
"Well, you did."
"So," he said, changing the subject, "I know why you'd be here, I mean, you actually liked this place, but why the fuck am I here?"
"Ah, finally an intelligent question," Grace nodded. "I wondered that too, frankly. I mean, I'd made myself this nice little retreat and was keeping an eye on things in the battle and then all of a sudden there's, well, you, passed out in the middle of my lawn."
"No, I mean, why would I even be in this...whatever it is...afterlife thing."
"Ah. As far as that goes, Eywa must've decided she had some use for you. She dislikes waste, and I suppose even a brainless tawtute tsamsiyu like you has some purpose."
"And why the fuck am I BLUE!"
Grace snickered. "She likes blue," she said with a shrug. "You'll get used to it. At least she took a few years off. Besides, the blue suits you," she added as she turned around and headed back inside.
He watched her and decided that yeah, blue was weird, but at least in her case it suited her. Took years off her looks, and got rid of the damage her chain smoking had done. And he could tell she knew it, too. Doc walked like she knew she was made of sex. Especially the way her tail and her long braid-thing accentuated the movement of her hips.
He shook his head. Man, clearly dying was playing havoc with his brain. Maybe a cold dip in the lake would clear out the hormones some. Must be some kinda side effect of being killed or something. He stripped down to his boxers, after a brief fight with his tail...that was gonna take some getting used to...and stepped down into the water. Which was...not cold. He'd forgotten that here on Pandora the water usually wasn't. Geothermal heating or whatever-the-fuck caused it. At least it was cool enough to put certain things back to rights. He was almost curious what effect having been changed into a ten-foot-tall blue monkey might have had on those particular "things", but with Grace not fifty feet away he wasn't planning on doing any practical experiments. That would've been just begging to be hit over the head a few times with whatever she found nearby.
Fuck, and there went the hormones again. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! Seriously! He hadn't been this fucking hormonal since he was nineteen and fresh out of basic training, hitting the clubs and letting the ladies fawn all over his newly-toned body.
Wait now...hadn't Doc said something about "Her taking a few years off" in all that bullshit she'd been spewing about why he was blue now? He stood real still and tried to use the water like a mirror, but it didn't really work. The lighting was all wrong.
"Would this help?" a voice said behind him.
He spun, immediately going into a defensive stance, and the fact that there was an old Na'vi woman sitting cross-legged on top of the water did nothing to reassure him. The fact that she was holding a mirror...only made it weirder.
"My, you are a jumpy little tsamsiyu aren't you," she shook her head, "and there I thought I'd cured most of the damage done to your psyche. Well, I suppose Grace would be bored if she had nothing left to do at all."
"Damage done to my...what the fuck are you talking about, woman?" he frowned. Then he caught sight of his reflection. It was hard, at first, to realize that this weird blue creature in the mirror was actually him, but the resemblance was obvious if you knew what to look for and took into account the different shape of the nose and width of the eyes. It was also obvious that he had, indeed, lost a few years. Well, actually more years than he wanted to admit to. He rolled his shoulders and grinned when the ache from all the times his left one had been dislocated failed appear as usual. If he had to guess, he'd say he looked about in his early to mid twenties. All growed up, but not touched by the weight of the world yet.
Which was about how old Grace had looked too, come to think of it.
And he'd just sworn at a deity. Shit. That was a pretty dumb move if he did say so himself. He looked back over at her and noted his ears drooping in his reflection. He'd had a puppy when he was a kid, he knew that little bit of body language, and he wasn't pleased he was making it so obvious. But then, the ears were a new addition, he was sure he'd get used to them in time. As for what he was gonna do now, though... Fuck it; even if he was blue, he owed her for deciding to continue his existence, and for not putting him with a bunch of rabid viperwolves that were tasked with eternally eating his liver or some such nasty end. He was sure she was capable of that and worse; after all, everybody knew deities (if you thought they existed) were real good at the "retribution" thing. Maybe he'd better at least try and be polite...for now, anyway.
"I guess I gotta say thanks," he said finally, relaxing only the tiniest bit. "I appreciate the facelift, although I did kinda like my old one. The blue's gonna take some getting used to, I gotta admit."
"You suit it well," the old woman smiled, running her fingers along his scars, "your memories show you would have made a fine Na'vi, had you been mine instead of my sister's...had you not been poisoned by the life you were forced to lead."
"Not that I mind getting to hang out in here instead of whatever normally happens when people die," he said a little hesitantly, "but why'd you bother with me at all? I mean, I'm sure I was hardly your favourite person, and I almost blew you up, you know."
"Not me," she shook her head, "a part of me, but it would be impossible for you to destroy all of me in that way. As for why I would "bother with you" as you put it, I brought you here, Miles, because your knowledge of tawtute tactics is long and varied, and because there was a need for balance in this place."
"Balance?" Now he was really confused.
The old lady just smiled and glanced back at the wood hut before raising a nonexistent eyebrow at him. "I'm sure the meaning will come to you in time," she said. "You tawtute are so...odd. It takes time for you to understand and come to balance, and it always seems to surprise you when you do." She leaned forward, the mirror disappearing, and lightly kissed his forehead, and just before she disappeared herself, he thought he saw her become younger. One of those blink-and-you'll-miss-it kinds of things when she stood up and... He almost thought she looked...pregnant? He shook his head. Clearly the day's events were messing with his mind.
"Have fun playing in the water," her voice drifted back to him on the wind, "Grace and I will be busy for the next little while, and then, I believe, she will need you. Even if she does not say so."
He shook his head hard, his tail lashing under the water and churning it up. This day was fucking weird, and it didn't seem to be getting any less weird the longer it went on.
Three hours of exhausting memory-searching later, Eywa finally left her little corner of the universe, and Grace dropped her head into her hands with a groan. It was times like these that she really wished the All-mother would let her make modern human things with her mind. Like aspirin. A few dozen aspirin would go down real nice right now, along with a couple cigarettes and a glass of bourbon...anything to knock her out until the mind-raping pain went away.
Oh, she didn't begrudge Trudy the opportunity. The spunky pilot deserved the chance to live and make a new life here. Plus, she thought of Norm as the son she might have had if she'd ever been able to carry to term, she would hate to see him saddened by the loss of his mate. All the same, though, neither of those sentiments did anything for the massive headache she was sure she was going to be suffering for the next week or so.
That was when she became aware of the splashing and grumbling outside and remembered her extra headache. The one that couldn't be fixed with pills. Why the hell he'd been left on her doorstep like some kind of abandoned baby was entirely beyond her. There was a loud thump of someone falling or tripping over something and landing against the side of the house, and she whimpered as the sound only made her head throb more. Abandoned baby? Fuck no, he was a flaming bag of shit and she'd already managed to step in him.
Okay that was a really disgusting metaphor, especially when her mind supplied her with a very disturbing and slightly raunchy mental picture. She shuddered. The disturbing made sense, sure, but how that had morphed into raunchy was beyond her. She'd thought she'd gotten over the hormonal reactions to him back when she'd been recovering from getting shot the first time. She shrugged. Maybe this was that post-menopausal horniness thing everyone talked about. Which seemed entirely unfair. I mean, if she had to go and die the least Eywa could do was make it so she didn't have to suffer from stupid things like fluctuating hormones.
Then again, she still didn't know how this afterlife worked, entirely. She'd simply been shown to this place and told it was hers, and to decorate it however she liked, as long as the raw materials were already here and available to her.
Another thud against the wall and more swearing sent her outside, cringing at the brightness of the light.
"What the fuck is your problem?" she snapped. If she hadn't been feeling so miserable she probably would have laughed when she saw him. Quaritch was trying to get his pants back on, and having the typical newbie avatar driver argument with his tail.
"How the fuck do you put up with having this...thing hanging off your ass?" Quaritch complained. It clearly wasn't helping that his level of agitation was so high his tail was twitching all over the place and grabbing onto random things.
"Oh it has its benefits, once you get used to it," she raised an eyebrow as she walked over toward him, circling him and lightly swaying her tail behind her. Once she was behind him she examined the problem (she WAS NOT checking out his butt thank you very much! Just what was attached to it!) He'd managed to get his legs into the right holes, at least, but then he'd pulled the pants up like normal, without feeding his tail through its hole, and managed to overbalance himself tripping over his cuffs.
"Well?" he growled, looking over his shoulder at her, "getting a good enough view back there?"
"Drop your pants," she grinned at him, "if you want my help, that is."
"What the... Woman, are you trying to make some kind of lame pass at me?"
"No," she rolled her eyes, then thought better of the action when it set her head pounding again, "you can't pull your pants up then put your tail through, you have to do it at the beginning. And you're going to have to calm down or your tail won't hold still enough to feed it through. I'll help you this time, but from now on you're gonna have to learn how to do it yourself."
"Fine," he growled, pushing his pants back down so they fell to his ankles.
"That's better," Grace nodded, slipping into "instructor" mode like she would with any new avatar. "Now, I know you're not really used to it yet, but your tail's prehensile. That means you can grab stuff with it. It doesn't quite work like another hand, but it does help when getting dressed." She crouched and leaned forward, taking the back of his pants in one hand and the tip of his tail in the other. "See," she chuckled, "you're already grabbing with it. I need it straight for this to work, though, so if you wouldn't mind letting go of my hand?"
He closed his eyes, trying to concentrate on feeling his tail. It was really weird...it almost felt like an extension of his ass, but different. He could definitely feel how it was grabbing her hand though, and tried to make it let go.
"That's better," she nodded. "Now, these pants are made with a hole just here," she passed the tip of his tail through, "you feel that? Good," she nodded. "See if you can try and curl your tail tip and lift the rest up.
He almost figured out what she was trying to get him to do, but his tail just wouldn't listen. He got the curling the tip up part, but lifting was...yeah, not happening. He growled with frustration.
"Never mind, we'll call that level two getting dressed," she patted his...hip. Whoops. Almost patted his ass there, that wasn't what she'd meant to do at all. "Now that the tip of your tail's through, as long as you can keep it reasonably straight you should be able to pull your pants up normally."
"Right," he leaned down and finally managed to pull his pants up. Getting them done up, though, was...less simple. Damnit all she'd done was touch his tail...well, and almost touched his ass but still! This was just fucking stupid! He was a grown man, not some kind of hormonal teen! After a little quick fumbling and careful tucking he managed to zip up his pants and half-turned toward her. "Thanks," he said gruffly.
"You're hardly the first person to have trouble figuring out what to do with his tail," she shrugged, "and it's hardly the first lesson I've had to give in getting dressed with one. I draw the line at two lessons though, so you'd better hope you're a fast learner." She chuckled then winced as the sound made her head start pounding again.
He frowned and turned the rest of the way around to look at her, his own issue forgotten for the moment. "What the fuck's wrong with you?" he asked, "I didn't know Na'vi could go quite that shade of greyish-green. You look like you're about to puke or something."
"I'm fine," she frowned, "just a headache."
"Riiiight," he scoffed, "if that's "just a headache" I'd hate to think what you look like when you're actually about to puke, it must be hideous." He shook his head, "C'mon, Doc, I'm not an idiot. I may not be totally used to the blue but I can tell that's gotta be worse than a little twinge between the eyes. You should probably go back inside and lie down or something."
"Why, Miles Quaritch, I do declare," Grace raised a hand to her forehead and adopted a glaringly false southern accent, "If you carry on in that manner I might begin to actually believe you...care about me, and that cannot be so!"
"Okay," he snapped, "enough of that bullshit." He grabbed her firmly (although not roughly) by the shoulders and turned her in the direction of the door. "Hut-two forward march! Get that sickly ass of yours in bed now or I'm going to tie you to the bed!"
"Okay okay," she sighed, deliberately dragging her feet but moving in the direction he was sending her, "I'm going, you don't need to yell."
By the time Quaritch realized what he'd just said they were already inside the hut and he was too preoccupied with steering around the numerous chairs, tables and counters covered in bits of plants to let himself think about that particular mental image.
He managed to get her onto the bed without too much of a fight, and then he left her there and started looking around, trying to find something to get the colour back into her.
"Would you cut that out?" she snapped after he'd lifted everything off the third surface he'd passed. "What're you doing anyway?"
"Looking for your first aid kit," he scowled, "You need some pain meds."
"Yeah I know," she shook her head, "no such luck though, don't I wish. Big mama doesn't go in for the whole modern medicine thing. Which means it's a damn good thing I'm a botanist. Pass me two of those leaves by your right hand." she ordered him.
He looked down and frowned when he realized there were at least three different shapes of leaves by his right hand.
"The dark green, shiny ovate ones...er...the ones that are oval at the bottom and come to a point," she corrected herself.
"Why you can't just use plan English," he muttered to himself, sorting through the leaves and finding some that might be what she was talking about. "These ones?" he asked, holding them up.
"Those ones, yeah," she nodded. "Bring them over here, and grab me the mortar and pestle on your way by the table."
"Right," he nodded. He at least remembered what those were...mostly because of a very interesting discussion they'd gotten into one night back in the time when things were actually good between them, before that mess when the school got shut down.
She sat up in bed and took the leaves and grinding tool from him, then lifted the leaves to her nose briefly, smiling a little. "Now I need a cup of water, there's a jug by the sink with drinking water in it, and mugs are in the cabinet to the left."
"Hot water?" he asked automatically, assuming she was making some kind of tea.
"Cold is fine," she shook her head, "I just have to dilute the liquid, otherwise it'll make me gag."
"Right," he nodded, pouring a mug of water and bringing it over to her. He could see that indeed the leaves had turned into a kindof spearmint-coloured liquidy gel, which she added to the mug. She stared down into the cup, and he could tell she was psyching herself up. "It doesn't look so bad," he said encouragingly.
"You only say that because you've never tasted the stuff," she glared at him. "Believe me; it's pretty close to the cure being worse than the condition, at least in the short-term."
"Well ain't that just too bad," he shook his head, "time to take your medicine, Doc, before I pour it down your throat."
"God, you're a worse nursemaid than Jake," she rolled her eyes, then took a deep breath, then downed the mug of liquid in one go. "Damn," she cringed, "that's really nasty. Get me another cup of water? I gotta get this taste out of my mouth!"
"What about this?" he asked, noticing some fruit sitting in a bowl on the same table where he'd found the leaves.
"Oh definitely!" her eyes widened, "toss it over!"
"So these things taste good?" he asked, grabbing a second one for himself before bringing her the fruit.
"Delicious," she nodded, biting into the fruit with relish and closing her eyes briefly in pleasure as the juice hit her tongue.
He bit into his as well, carefully evaluating the flavour. It...wasn't bad at all, actually. Certainly lacked all the nasty aftertaste of the highly processed food he'd been eating for the last ten years or so, living on Pandora. He grabbed a chair and pulled it over, sitting next to her bed. Nothing better to do, he might as well try and find out what made her so miserable all of a sudden.
"So I thought, since we're dead and all, that we weren't supposed to get sick? What the hell happened to you?" he asked.
"Big momma needed a little genetic knowledge," Grace shrugged; then she giggled. "Norm's gonna be sooooo surprised by his little present!"
"Present?" he raised an eyebrow. She was acting a little odd but then, people often did when they had headaches and that kind of thing.
"Mmmhmm," she smiled, "it's a secret though, so I'm not gonna tell you, you'll just have to wait and find out like everyone else." She looked at his expression and laughed. "You look like my daddy when you frown like that," she said, "he was a hardass too."
His frown deepened. He didn't particularly want to remind her of her father, that...disturbed him for some reason. "I highly doubt your dad was a blue monkey," he pointed out.
"Nope!" she shook her head, "not Na'vi, not Navy either! Nopenopenope!"
"What the fuck is with you?" he leaned forward, trying to check her pupils. He didn't know what was "normal" for an avatar, though, which made it a pretty futile gesture.
"Meds make me a little loopy," she rolled her eyes, "hopefully I'll pass out soon then you won't hafta worry about it." She reached over and flicked the tip of his ear. "I like these, tell me what you're thinkin'."
"Leave off the ears!" he backed up, "they're weird enough without you making them move around." He gave her an evaluating look that morphed into a slow, wicked smile. "The meds make you loopy, hmm? Well ain't that just too bad. Just you an' me here, and you compromised enough you can't keep your mouth shut..."
"Yeah you wish," she stuck her tongue out at him, "You lost any chance at that three years ago buster."
He blinked. It took him a minute before he realized how she'd misunderstood, and he groaned inwardly. That wasn't really helping the hormones.
"Oops! I made the colonel blush!" she giggled, pointing at him. "Your sanhì are glowing."
"Your spots," she pointed at the ones on her own face.
"Great. Stupid blue monkey bodies have way too many tells," he frowned.
"Yeahhhh dad would'a loved you," Grace snorted. "Well, not the old you, but he would'a liked this you. He'd say you're his kinda Marine."
That had him raising an eyebrow. He might not be some dickless science puke, but he wasn't dumb either; nobody got as far as he did in the corps without having at least half a brain, and the way she was talking... "So your dad was a Marine, then?" he guessed.
"Yup," she rolled her eyes, "semper fi and all that bullshit. Dad, his dad, his dad and so on. Total BS. If you love your family you don't leave them for months and years at a time cause some stupid people're fighting about something that has nothing to do with you, then when you finally come back you're all wrong in the head and..." She trailed off, remembering all too well how frightened she'd become of her father when he was finally sent home to stay. She'd still loved him, but he was so volatile she hardly dared be around him for long, she had no idea what might set him off.
He didn't know quite what to say to that. It was in some ways a shock to him that this woman would have any connection at all to the military side of life but at the same time, it explained so many things... he shook his head. The look on her face told him all he needed to know about what had happened, and he'd seen enough PTSD sufferers to know that sometimes the one who suffered most wasn't the soldier himself, but the family who just couldn't understand him anymore.
"How's the head feeling?" he asked a little gruffly, trying to change the topic.
"Still hurts," she pouted, "only I can ignore it better now."
"Why don't you lie down and close your eyes and see if you'll fall asleep," he suggested, "don't worry, I'll sit here and make sure you don't get any unexpected visitors."
"You don't hafta feel obliged to take care of me for some bullshit thing to do with who dad was," she frowned at him.
"Look!" he snapped finally, "Two things: One: it's not bullshit if that was my reason, it's perfectly legitimate, makes you family, in a way. Marines take care of our own, like you did with Jake too, hmm? And Two: Me wantin' to take care of you has dick-all to do with obligation. Yeah okay I guess I was a bit of a shithead to you, especially the last couple years, but that doesn't mean I didn't still want to keep you safe."
"Did a pretty piss-poor job of that," she snarked. "Why don't you go do something useful like see if you can drown yourself in the lake out there and leave me in peace."
"Sorry, no can do," he shook his head, grinning, "I've got my orders, and you know for a fact I don't ignore orders." He moved from the chair onto the bed, leaning forward to get a better look at her eyes, noticing that she seemed to be having trouble focusing. "Besides, I think I like you a little loopy...means you're less likely to try an' kill me for this," he pushed her back down onto the bed and held her there by her shoulders. "You need to rest," he said firmly, trying to ignore the way his body now rested against hers in spots. Loopy or not he wasn't going to press his luck and besides, he'd never been the type to take advantage of a lady (never needed to really) and even if he was dead, he wasn't about to start changing rules like that.
"Don't wanna," she pouted, shaking her head, "Can't make me."
"Oh I'm bettin' I can make you," he grinned, "stubborn little bitch. You're just asking for it."
"Askin' for what?" she blinked up at him, looking curious and innocent all at the same time (which he knew couldn't be true. This wily female was far from anyone's definition of 'innocent')
He groaned. None of this was helping him rein in his hormones any, and if he wasn't careful he'd end up doing something he really, really regretted. Like sticking his tongue down her throat, then rolling on top of her, and... He shook his head firmly.
While he was distracted by his thoughts, however, Grace took matters into her own hands, reaching up and wrapping her arms around his neck, pulling him down to her and kissing him as she giggled wickedly.
Well that was unexpected. He wasn't going to complain though; I mean hell, who turns down free kisses from a hot lady? He quite willingly went along with the idea (once he'd gotten over the shock) up until the point where she started tugging at his pants. Now that was just going too far.
"Naughty naughty," he shook his head as he pulled away, capturing her hands in his and placing them palms-down on the bed next to her, "You're supposed to be resting. You still feel like this when the headache and the meds're out of your system, and then we'll talk."
"Self-righteous bastard," she hissed, "Who put you in charge?"
"Same one that gave you the headache," he shrugged. "She did say you might need some convincin' and I know for a fact you've never been good at takin' care of yourself, figure that's why she put me here." He about jumped out of his skin when he felt something caressing his lower back, especially when he checked and both her hands were still at her sides.
"Silly little boy," she giggled, "Clearly she put you here so I'd have a toy to keep me from getting bored!"
When he turned to look over his shoulder, he realized that it wasn't some kinda spider or nasty bug crawling up his back, it was her tail...and she'd somehow managed to work it under the waistband of his pants.
"Goddamnit you're trying my patience, woman," he growled.
Grace giggled. "You sound like something out of a bad romance novel!" she said, "since when did you turn all noble and shit?"
"Since I don't feel like getting gelded when you come to your senses," he shook his head, "I'm not insane."
"If you snuggle with me I'll be good," she smiled winningly up at him.
"Man, whatever that shit was you took don't ever take it again, you're fucking scary when you're acting all sweet," he shuddered.
"Oh?" she raised an eyebrow, "Are you trying to imply something?"
"Shit no," he shook his head, wide-eyed, "not implying anything!"
"Then lie the fuck down and give me a hug," she ordered him.
He laughed. "Now that's more like the Grace I know," he said, "fine, if that's what it's gonna take to shut you up I'll share the bed with you. Shove over."
She quickly made room, and he stretched out on his side next to her, wrapping an arm around her. It took a little arranging, but finally he ended up on his back with her curled up against him. He'd almost forgotten what it felt like to be close to another person like this, not for mindless sex but for the pure comfort of companionship. Frankly, he hadn't been this close to anyone else for any reason other than sex since...well, since before his last tour with the Marines.
His last thought as he tucked her head under his chin and drifted off to sleep was that he didn't know why he'd stopped, this was one of the best possible ways to end a day, especially a day as back-assward crazy as this one had been.
Don't worry your pretty little heads now, this is by no means over! Chapters will continue to come out at regular intervals alongside Brotherhood as I work to finish it, and Eywa's Grace will also work as a bit of a bridge in parts between Brotherhood and its eventual sequel.
Hope you like it so far, and I look forward to unleashing more of this insanity upon the world,
In the meantime though...
tawtute - sky person/human
tsamsiyu - warrior
sanhì - bioluminescent freckles, in this case