By Nomad
April 2011

Summary: Reed/Victor AU. In which Victor is perturbed to find himself infatuated with his oblivious college roommate.
Disclaimer: Characters, settings and concepts belong to Stan Lee, Marvel and many others; borrowed for entertainment value, not profit.
Author's Note: Previously posted anonymously on the marvelkink-v2 lj meme, for the prompt: "Victor finds himself desiring a clueless Reed and decides to take matters into his own hands when Ben says he found a girl for Reed. I'd like for this to be as sweet as Victor can get when he cares for someone and not get angsty."

Reed Richards, it seemed, was fated to thwart Victor's plans at every turn.

It had started back before he'd even met the man, when they were first assigned as college roommates. Victor hadn't intended to accept a roommate at all, but when Richards had failed to arrive on the first day, he'd hoped that keeping quiet would allow him to keep the larger two-bed room to himself. Instead, it had emerged that Richards had only been delayed a few days by a traffic accident, but by then it had been too late to change the room assignments.

Victor had no intention of playing nursemaid to his injured roommate, but when he tried to make his expectations clear, the conversation had been sidetracked by Richards' excited babbling about his designs for a helper robot. Plans so painfully flawed that Victor had been obliged to outline their shortcomings in detail - a fatal mistake, for it seemed that Richards' grasp of social codes was as rudimentary as his programming. He'd taken this interaction for proof that Victor wanted to be friends, and once settled on this conclusion, refused to be budged from it.

It drove Victor to distraction.

It seemed that, once one had been classified as a friend of Reed Richards, there was no way to escape the category. Richards followed him around like a poorly-trained puppy: always woefully bewildered to be driven away, always bounding back later with enthusiasm intact and trying twice as hard to win approval. Eventually, the effort involved in getting rid of him grew to outweigh the annoyance of having him around.

After this point, Victor had apparently come down with some form of Stockholm syndrome.

It started off in small ways. Having grown resigned to the inevitability of Richards' presence, he naturally began to look for silver linings to make it more bearable. Richards made an adequate lab assistant, quick to grasp Victor's intentions without needing things explained or repeated. He even had some intelligent ideas about implementation, despite his hopeless lack of intuition. He was willing to deal with the idiots around them so that Victor didn't have to.

None of which explained why, some six months into their working relationship, Victor suddenly started noticing his eyelashes. And then the fact that he had rather elegant hands. And then various other traits and body parts that had not, until recently, ever seemed particularly remarkable.

His sudden attraction to Richards was as mysterious as it was disturbing. Possibly it was simply the lure of intelligent conversation with someone who could halfway understand his ideas. Possibly it was some terrible misfiring of hormones brought on by close quarters and lack of sleep. Possibly Richards was drugging his coffee with aphrodisiacs.

If it was the latter, however, Richards was clearly capable of greater subterfuge than Victor gave him credit for, because outwardly he remained wholly oblivious. His exasperating devotion to his conviction that they were friends now proved to cut in more than one direction.

He was incapable of reading even the most obvious body language cues. Innuendos and flirting passed over his head. He could not discern the difference between a friendly gift or gesture and one with clear romantic overtones. No matter how transparent Victor made his intentions, Richards continually failed to understand them.

Presumably even he couldn't misinterpret a direct physical advance - although there were days when Victor wouldn't have given him more than sixty-forty odds - but his lack of response to subtler tactics made it impossible to predict his reaction. Victor couldn't anticipate a violent or disgusted rejection, but an apologetic one would be even worse. He would not be the subject of pitying looks for the rest of their time here at college together.

So he bided his time. He had his studies to fill it; together, he and Richards finished work on the machine and made their first foray into the hell dimension. Although their escape was narrow, the principle was proven, and Victor knew that once he'd broadened his studies of magics he would have his chance to free his mother's soul.

He'd hoped to ask Richards to travel the world with him after college, but the situation in Latveria had worsened,and there was no time for courtship in the midst of war. Once the country had been liberated, he'd invited Richards to come and stay with him in the castle, but they were both so busy they'd spent little of the time together. Richards had been as blind as ever to the subtext of intimate dinners and romantic walks, and he'd been called home before Victor could begin the next phase of his seduction attempt.

Through everything, Victor had been willing to be patient. But now this - this was just too much. Victor glowered at the letter crumpled in his armoured fist.

Richards had written to invite him to oversee the final launch of his rocket project. It was, however, the casually scrawled postscript to this letter that proved the final indignity. It mentioned that Richards'business partner Ben Grimm had invited a girl who he thought would be perfect for Reed, although, to use his own infuriating words, "it's hard to imagine that anyone could be interested in me".

That was it. Victor had taken as much as he was prepared to take.

Ten minutes later, his private plane was accelerating over the Latverian border.

Reed was distantly aware of the sound of his office door bouncing open. "You go on ahead, Ben," he mumbled, not looking up from the schematics on the computer screen. "This won't take long." He'd just thought of a way to tweak the rocket drive that would increase the fuel efficiency by-

A shadow fell over him. Maybe Ben hadn't heard. He looked up. "I-" It wasn't Ben. "Victor!" he said delightedly. "Wow, you got here fast. I wasn't expecting you until-"

He cut off with a squawk as Victor spun his chair round and slammed it back against the desk, leaning over Reed with his hands braced on the desktop. Reed shrank down a little, unnerved by the closeness of Victor's glare.

Apparently Reed had done something wrong. However, as he'd learned in their student days, there was really no predicting what Victor might take as a huge personal affront. He didn't think he'd put anything particularly inflammatory in his letter, but then, he wasn't very good at things like tone and diplomatic wording. He smiled tentatively. "Um, is something wrong?" he asked.

Victor's mouth worked in silent, angry shapes for several moments, and then he sighed heavily and sagged forward, his hair almost brushing Reed's face. "I have clearly taken all leave of my senses," he muttered to himself, shaking his head.

Now Reed was a bit concerned. It wasn't like Victor to show any sort of doubt in himself. He gave Victor's shoulder a hesitant pat. "Victor, are you sure you're all right?" he asked.

Victor raised his head. His eyes zeroed in on Reed's hand on his shoulder. Reed was about to remove it with haste, when Victor's intent gaze snapped round to fix on his eyes and he froze like a rabbit in headlights.

Then his eyes dropped lower, and for a split Reed had the entirely crazy thought that Victor was going to try rip out his jugular or something, and then-

And then. Lips. On his. Victor's lips. On his lips. A meeting of lips definitely appeared to be happening. Rather intriguingly soft lips, in fact, despite the forceful nature of the...


Wait, what? This was a kiss. Victor was... what? Reed pushed backwards with a squeak. There wasn't really anywhere for the chair to roll, so he ended up sliding still further down the cushion. Victor pulled back, breaking the contact between them.

Reed's lips suddenly felt cold and oddly bereft, and he licked them nervously. Victor was still staring at him with that unnerving intensity, though something in his eyes had softened subtly.

Focus, Reed. Theorise. Strike to the heart of the situation with an intelligent, insightful comment that will shed light on what's happening.

"Fnrgh?" he said.

He flinched a little in surprise as Victor's hands settled on his shoulders and then curled round the back of his neck, fingers brushing across his hair with unexpected gentleness. It made it hard to focus on what Victor was saying.

Which was something along the lines of, "-most infuriating person I have ever, in my entire wretchedly cursed existence, managed to-" so he tuned that out. He needed to think.

All right, Reed. Equations never let you down. Work this one through. Kissing = display of affection, and/or demonstration of desire to...

Reed kicked his legs, pushing himself more upright in the chair. He stared at Victor. "Wait, you-? Me? Really?" he said, wide-eyed.

Victor let out a huff, his eyes going to the ceiling. "If this requires explanatory diagrams, I shall set something on fire," he threatened.

Reed struggled to regroup. "No, I mean, I- obviously," he said. Now it was obvious, but where had this come from all of a sudden? It couldn't have been sudden; he'd known Victor for years, so... "Why didn't you say something?" he asked in disbelief.

Victor growled, a long, low, utterly feral sound. Reed had stopped finding his displays of threat intimidating years ago, but from this close up the effect of it was actually kind of-


"Oh," he said, and blinked. Oh. Well, that was... interesting. "Um. Victor?" he said tentatively. "I think that maybe I-"

Victor had, he reflected, as Victor's mouth once again descended on his, always been good at anticipating what Reed was thinking.

Several hazy and very enjoyable minutes later, the office door bumped open again. This time, both of them were too preoccupied to look up.

There was a long pause, and then a weighty sigh from the doorway, and then the sound of a cell phone being dialled.

"Hey, Suze. It's Ben. Hope ya didn't cancel your date for that rocket launch yet..."

The door fell closed again. There were no further interruptions.