Alice: All of you reviewers are positively adorable! Thank you! (By the way one of you asked what Break and Sharon had seen so just in case anyone else was confused they looked through the window just in time to see Oz kissing Gil's stomach ^_^) And I'm so sorry it's taken so long. I've had an awful case of writers block. Thank you all for being so patient with me I'll try my best to update faster really!
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Pandora Hearts.
After a good fifteen minutes of deep breathing to calm himself down Gilbert had finally worked up the courage to leave the bathroom. He silently crept towards the living room and peeked through the doorway. His heart was beating erratically and his mind was urging him to go back to hiding in the bathroom. He was still hopelessly mortified at his body's earlier reaction to Oz. The blond currently lay splayed out on the couch straight across from the television. Gil's stomach did flip flops at the sight of him. He pressed a hand to it and squeezed his eyes tightly shut, fearing that the lunch they'd eaten less than an hour ago (how blissful the time before Oz's break down had been) was going to be expelled from his body if it didn't settle down.
In spite of Oz's tendency to tease Gil to his heart's content the blonde appeared to be a picture of innocence, almost reminiscent of an angel with the hazy glow of the television engulfing him. The few rays of sunlight streaming in through the windows reflected off of his hair making it appear brighter than usual which in turn brought out the deep green of his eyes. He was lying on his back, feet on the end of the couch nearest Gilbert. His head was turned ever-so-slightly to the left to watch whatever tv show was on. His expression was lax, lacking its usual default smile and his eyes, a bit red and puffy from the crying, were half-lidded. Oz's right hand rested on his stomach, hiding a bit of exposed skin while the left rested uselessly by his side. Staring at him now he looked... beautiful. There was no better word for it. And at that moment Gil's fingers itched to brush those few stray strands hair behind the blond's ears and his arms ached to hold him. Just hold him and rock him a bit because he held in so much pain and there he was lounging as if nothing had happened and he had no problems when he quite obviously did. Gil would give anything to make every last one of his troubles go away and how on earth did that make any sense when they hardly knew each other? It'd been what? Four days since they first spoke to one another? Then again the blond didn't make much sense himself so why should any feelings regarding him be different?
Hesitantly Gilbert stepped into the room. He wouldn't be holding Oz that was for sure, no matter how strongly his body urged him to. His arms twitched at his sides with the effort of keeping them to himself. His mind wouldn't allow it. What if Oz pushed him away or misinterpreted his intentions and put more distance between them or didn't stop at distance but instead never spoke to him again like Alice had demanded or- or- or... There didn't seem to be an end to the or's and there was absolutely no way Gil was going to risk ruining their tentative (no matter what he'd confessed Gilbert couldn't bring himself to hope that Oz trusted him completely yet) friendship. So he did the logical thing and listened to his mind, brushing off his body's urging to get close enough to Oz to wrap him in his arms as he approached the blond who had just noticed his reappearance. A sleepy smile spread across his features and he reached his arms above his head, arching his back to stretch. After breaking down like he did it made sense that he'd be tired. Oz covered his mouth as he yawned and sat up, crossing his legs.
"Hey Gil, you were gone for awhile. Are you okay?" Oz asked. He gestured for Gil to come nearer and patted the cushion in front of him; he was sitting sideways with his lower back pressed against his armrest. Gilbert walked forward rubbing the back of his neck. He ignored the warmth in his cheeks, which he was unfortunately getting used to, and sat down.
"I'm fine," Gil replied. "Sorry about running off like that."Oz laughed and ruffled the raven's hair.
"Oh, I don't mind. I'm sure you had your reasons." Gil tried his best not to stare at Oz and not to think about how attractive he'd suddenly realized the blond was. His gaze and thoughts kept being drawn to him more and more though the harder he tired to focus on anything else. His head was beginning to hurt and his hands clenched, nails digging into his palms as his frustration grew. He was so preoccupied he hadn't noticed Oz adjusting himself until the blond was on his back and resting his head in his lap to use him as a human pillow, making Gil nearly jump out of his skin with surprise. Given pervious interactions between the two it was evident that asking Oz to move would be pointless because of how stubborn he was. And in all honestly Gil wasn't sure he wanted him to.
Despite his efforts at staying awake Oz fell asleep within ten minutes, lulled by the low volume of the television and the heat of Gil's thighs. Unable to move for fear of waking him the raven was free to just watch him. Oz's sleeping face was much more compelling than the actors on the tv and it was easier to stare this way. A light blush dusted his face but he wasn't nearly as embarrassed as when Oz was conscious and right now the blond couldn't mercilessly tease him.
As if it had developed mind of its own Gil's hand reached forward. Before he was conscious of what he was doing his fingertips were grazing over the bone of Oz's uninjured cheek. His thumb rested at the corner of the blond's mouth. The peacefulness of sleep had taken over his expression. You'd never guess what types of thoughts about himself ran through his head... On second thought it was probably that way for most people and Gil had just become accustomed to Vincent's open displays. A sigh slipped past his lips at the reminder of his brother. He hoped Vincent wouldn't be too upset that he wasn't going to be home. It wasn't like he'd had a nightmare in six months or hadn't been left alone so he should be fine... Oz shifted on Gilbert's lap, his head turning to face away from the raven. Gil glanced down at him; with his eyes closed, lips slightly parted, expression relaxed... Yes, Oz was definitely beautiful.
Alice stood next to Jack at his locker lightly tugging on the ends of her bookbag's straps and twirling them around her index fingers, dropping them when they were pulled taunt and then beginning the process over again. She was nervous and she positively hated it when she was anything less than confident. Ever since the disappointment in math class she'd been holding off on asking Jack a question. She still wasn't quite sure how to ask it but if she waited any longer they'd be going their separate ways. The clang of his locker door closing informed her that it was now or never.
"Jack," Alice began, forcing her hands to stop their fiddling and her eyes to trade their view of the floor for the twin. He'd already taken a few steps in the direction of the exit nearest his sister's school but at the sound of his name he turned around. Alice was staring at him, head held high and jaw set. She was clearly determined to do something although he couldn't imagine what. He raised an eyebrow prompting her to continue. "Could you-," she paused and licked her lips, "Could come home with me? To spend the night or even for just a few hours would be fine. I... I don't want to be alone right now." Jack studied her as she stood there staring him down as if daring him to say no. He could never do that though, never deny her anything.
"Of course I can," Jack said, his voice quiet enough that no passing students could overhear. Alice smirked, eyes gleaming with triumph as any left over nervousness dissolved. She grabbed him by an arm and dragged him purposefully in the direction of the exit closest to her own home, narrowly avoiding any people that got in her way. Jack shook his head and stumbled along. "Alice… Alice! Hold on. I think you're forgetting that I have to pick up Ada." She came to an abrupt stop, a soft "oh" escaping her lips.
"Well why didn't you tell me before we got this far!?" Alice grumbled, marching back the way they'd came. She puffed up her cheeks playing sane while attempting to chase away the bad thoughts of how she was becoming useless to Oz, obsolete, as Gil took her place (Dear god what would she do? If he left her alone? All alone? Please anything but that! She didn't want to go back to defining silence echoing in her ears and emptiness eating away her humanity! She couldn't go back. Please- Please!) with positive ones. Number one: Jack was coming over, she still had him. "How long do you think you can stay?" Jack rubbed the back of his neck, gaze darting to lockers and the few other students in the emptying building. Anywhere but Alice.
"Oz won't mind I'm sure and my dad's out of town. I could probably stay overnight if you need me to. I imagine Oscar's already on his way to our house so I'll have to call him and tell him where I am and as long as he says it's alright…" Number two: Jack was going to stay the whole night. Alice released a shaky breath and the tension that'd been building up in her during the past few days uncoiled a bit, allowing her to relax a little.
"Thank you." She wouldn't have to go home by herself today… Alice felt as if her heart was about to burst. "You're a very good friend." She flashed him a grin as they exited the building. They picked Ada up and dropped her off in a matter of ten minutes. The walk to Alice's home was just as brief and -without Ada to fill it with her soft chatter- silent, broken only by Jack's phone call to Oscar. The older man had been reluctant but in the end given his permission for their sleepover. When Alice and Jack were a block away from her house Jack suddenly linked arms with her. Her eyes had been unfocused and her forehead was creased. She started at his touch, nearly tripping.
"What's with that face?" Jack asked. Alice puffed up her cheeks and turned away from him.
"Nothing. It's not important," she murmured. The excitement of having company for once had reminded her with stunning clarity of how any other day she'd be returning by herself to a normally empty house. It only occasionally contained the frigid people she called parents and even then they would be locked in their studies or room, providing even less company than they would by ignoring her in her presence. In fact she could hardly remember the last time she'd seen them in person. It was hard to believe that they actually lived with her. Jack raised an eyebrow but didn't push it.
Alice's house was a bit larger than Oz and Jack's. Stone steps led up to the middle of a porch that spanned the whole front of the building. There were a couple pillars on either side of the wrought iron railings. They held up the part of the roof that came out as a canopy for the landing. To the right of the door was a bench swing with cushions and piled high with pillows that Jack imagined would have to be taken in during windy weather. Alice had set her book bad down in front of it and opened on of the pockets, riffling through it until she found her keys. Picking the bag back up she unlocked and opened the door. Before entering she turned back to Jack, waiting expectantly for a second before making an impatient noise and grabbing his wrist.
"Come on in. We aren't staying out here all day."
When Oscar entered Zai's home, closing the door behind him with a sigh after his conversation with Jack, whatever he'd been expecting Oz and Gil to be up to it certainly wasn't what he found in the living room. He would've thought they'd be playing video games or Gil would be enduring Oz's teasing or they'd even -possibly- be doing homework but certainly not… cuddling? He leaned against the doorway, the corners of his lips turning up at the sight. He'd been watching over Jack and Oz for years and had become quite fond of them both, beginning to see them as his own children even. He'd been very pleased to hear that this year they'd be starting his class allowing him to see them for at least that short period of time on the days Zai was in town. It was also a relief to know what Oz's school life was like; he seemed popular enough, constantly talking to one person or another. His never having brought anyone home before along with Alice and his siblings being the only people he went out with had led to Oscar's initial concern with the boys social life but appeared to be alright.
Pushing off of the doorway Oscar walked up behind the couch. Gil's head was resting on the back of it, left cheek pressed to the cushion along with pieces of trapped hair. The rest of his raven locks were brushed to the side, away from his face. Oz was turned toward him, curled around him. His hair was mussed like he'd been tossing and turning a bit. His head was partially resting on the arm of the couch and his face was buried in Gil's side, his knees drawn up and leaving only a few inches of space between them and Gil's left hip. His arms were wrapped around the raven's waist. As far as Oscar could tell Oz never touched anyone but Jack and Ada this much, seeing as Alice didn't allow him to because she was embarrassed by the affection. It was intriguing. What made Gilbert special? What had happened in their week of association that had led to them to being this close? And for that matter exactly how close were they? Could he- no, no. Oscar shook his head. No, of course not…
Oz released a light sigh, his eyes barely noticeably cracking open. The hold his arms had around Gil's waist tightened and he pressed his face further into the boy's side, inhaling deeply. Oscar raised an eyebrow. On second thought could they be close enough that Oz would tell Gilbert what was happening? All Oscar wanted was confirmation and if he could get that… Well, he had plans.
Oz did not under any circumstances want to wake up. He was warm and comfortable and his head hurt the way it always did when he got more than nine and a half hours of sleep in a day. He wondered how long he'd been napping; he hardly remembered drifting off- and was that Gil he smelled? Oz sighed completely content and with immense resignation he opened his eyes just enough to let some light in. Even with the shade provided by Gil's body and looking through his eyelashes the sun's rays stung a little. He buried his face further into Gilbert's side, inhaling his scent. He smelled nice; sweet. Oz couldn't quite place what it was nor describe it as anything other than intoxicating. However since it was come directly from Gil's skin he supposed it might be some type of soap or lotion. Not that what it was really mattered, at least not as much as how fantastic it made the raven smell. That definitely took precedence as he was currently fighting the urge to nuzzle deeper into the other boy's side. I didn't help that Gil was so soft, pillow soft, the kind of soft you'd usually associate with a girl's lap.
In short it was extremely pleasant and his not wanting not to let go but to bury himself deeper felt strange and a little bit like cheating. Which it wasn't. It definitely wasn't, of course it wasn't. That would mean having more-than-friendly intentions toward someone that wasn't Alice and right now all he was doing was trying to get to know Gilbert, form a new friendship with the stranger that oddly enough cared about what happened to him. Not to imply with that "right now" that he was going to have those types of intentions later he just… ah… that is… it was poor wording on his par-
Just then his muddled thoughts were, thankfully, interrupted by the creaking of a floorboard. This house may be rather old but Oz did know that it never made that sound unprovoked. He shot up, probably too fast since his head was pounding and he nearly fell backwards off of the couch, to see Oscar attempting to sneak away. The older man, already frozen after having stepped on the offending floorboard, stiffened further when Oz sat up. For a moment the two stared at each other, not so much as blinking. Oscar was the one to break the stillness by rubbing the back of his neck and lowering the leg he had raised in the air (Oz assumed it was attached to the foot that had caused the creaking sound). His eyes were questioning and none of them were questions he wanted to answer, particularly because he didn't know the answers himself. He slipped off of the couch trying his best not to jostle it, and in effect Gil, too much. What with school, watching his brother, and keeping him company (especially today) he supposed the raven must be worn out and deserved to rest. Oz walked past Oscar and into the kitchen with the heel of a hand pressed into the more aching of his two eyes. He had a horrible headache and didn't feel like thinking through it if he didn't have to. Oscar had followed him, waiting until he'd searched a cupboard, quickly locating the bottle of ibuprofen and taken two pills with the aid of a long drink from a glass of water before speaking.
"How are you feeling? Jack said your wound had reopened," Oscar said this quietly so as not to disturb Gilbert. Oz shrugged and took a sip of his water.
"It isn't too bad. The old one had already almost healed so the new one isn't very deep. And if I don't move or stretch my face too much it won't bleed." He grinned, purposefully making it nice and wide, and slid into a chair. It was at a table that was pressed against the wall opposite the counter."I could have gone to school. Jack worries too much." Oz stared down into his half empty cup. From Oscar's point of view he was small, incredibly small and frail-looking. His shoulders were hunched forward and he seemed to be curled in on himself. His eyes were missing their usual shine and the kitchen lighting was horrible for him, adding to the effect by turning his skin a sickly yellow. Oscar wondered if he woke up every morning with this defeated appearance before forcing himself to put on a brave face for the day or if it was just this topic that was bringing him down. He swirled his cup with his right hand, allowing the water to slosh up the sides but being careful to keep it from spilling over the rim. Walking over to him Oscar rested a hand on the boy's shoulder. Oz's paused but he didn't look up.
"There's no point in smiling. You might make yourself bleed again, like you said." Oz let it slip away slowly, reluctantly. He didn't like to be without some from of smile on his lips and prevented that as often as possible. Frowning meant sadness after all and he didn't have any right to feel that way. It was an emotion that monsters like him didn't deserve to experience no matter how much abuse they were given. The treatment he received from his father was well deserved and in order to rectify the naturally downturned corners of his mouth he had to smile until his cheeks ached, especially when he wanted nothing more than to cry out all of the water in his body while being held in the comfort of another person's arms. Now that he was away from Gil with his ready ears and open arms Oz was starting to remember these facts. It was a good thing, really, to recall how horrible he was after allowing himself to forget like that and stand up for himself like a crazy person and get comfortable and… happy. So why did the truth make him feel like he was going to throw up? He presses a hand over his mouth, letting the cup fall through the inch of space between it and the table and land with a thud, not spilling. Oscar's brows furrowed in concern. "You're sure you're alright?"
"Yeah positive," Oz mumbled. "S'just the headache." The wave of nausea passed as quickly as it had come and when he was sure he could open his mouth without throwing up he dropped his arm to the tabletop. "By the way Gil's spending the night. I hope that's okay? We already asked his parents."
"Both of you kids are going behind my back huh," Oscar muttered to himself, slightly amused. More loudly he replied, "Yes that's fine, that's fine. However," Oz who had stood with the intention of returning to the living room and the sleeping raven paused and, anticipating something he really didn't want to do, lowered himself back into his chair, "we still have to cover the lessons that you missed." Right. Those. Yeah, those were definitely things he didn't want to do. With a groan and giving off a general do-I-have-to attitude he pushed himself out of his chair and went to get his things.