Standard disclaimers apply. I'm just here playing with others' toys.


"You always have done a lot of sitting and staring when you're worried, Nora."

It's nearing daybreak, she knows, and she should think about resting. She hasn't used coffins for anything but transport in years, one of the perks of the Authority and its underground fortresses, so though Pam made some offer about "guest coffins," sounding bored, Nora was glad of Eric's alternative involving well-hidden actual rooms; despite the proper bedroom with a proper bed, though, all she's brought herself to do so far is undress to a camisole and sit cross-legged on the floor like a child. They left the others hours ago (the fairy that Eric was so protective of got hauled off by her brother, Pam and her progeny are no doubt fucking nonstop, they last saw Bill's redhead running to lock herself in one of the Fangtasia bathroom stalls, a bloody tear running down her cheek) and she can only guess what Eric's been doing since they arrived at this – what is it? Some fortified property of his, she supposes, she didn't really ask.

He's left her alone awhile, but leaving things alone has never been his style.

She thinks about giving some snappy retort – it wouldn't be unheard of – but nothing comes to her. She rolls her eyes, though. It's just like him to be so casual.

"You ought to go to sleep soon," he continues, standing over her with his arms folded. "Or did you intend to stay up and brood so long that you get the bleeds all over the Persian carpet?"

"You don't care about the carpet," she retorts.

"Not much," Eric says, and she can hear the smile in his voice. Not a particularly sincere one, but enough of one. "But Pam picked it out, and she can get tetchy about her decorating."

"I'll be sure to avoid wrecking it," Nora mutters.

"So you're doing that, then," he presses. "Purposefully losing sleep over something you can't immediately fix."

"How would you know what I'm losing sleep over?" she snaps. "Or that I mean to lose sleep at all?"

It's his turn to roll his eyes now. "Another of your habits, min lillasyster," he declares. "After the sitting and staring comes the mildly self-destructive behavior. Or have you changed your ways so much that I wouldn't recognize them?"

What Nora hears is have you changed your ways so much that I wouldn't recognize them again, and she folds her arms petulantly on account of it, again not saying anything. She knows it's bratty behavior; she doesn't care in the slightest.

"Fine," Eric shrugs, and before she can protest he's bent down, picked her up, carried her to bed, tucked her in, and climbed in beside her. She's not about to edge away; that, she figures, would be too childish, and there's a part of her that knows he's right. Even if she can't fathom sleeping with everything that needs done, she ought to, at least for a little while.

Still, though, she's allowed a bit of attitude about it. "Bully," she whispers, turning on her side to stare at him.

"If we're going to be any help preventing an apocalypse, we'll have to rest occasionally," he says.

"Did it ever occur to you that perhaps I'm simply not tired?" she asks, though she's fairly certain her voice is correcting that to I simply can't bring myself to sleep and she doesn't care enough to try to hide it.

"Of course you're tired," he counters, raising an eyebrow at her in that part-disapproving, part-knowing way that only he can. It's a big brother expression, she supposes. "After massacring an impressively large portion of a government, anyone would be tired."

"There you go again," she says before she can stop herself. "So fucking cavalier."

"It's better than –"

He has the presence of mind, at least, to realize that's too much pushing and stop before he dissects her mood any further. There are things about her that will always be a mystery to him, but he does know that, while she analyzes and overanalyzes situations regularly, she doesn't sit well when analyzed herself. If she wants to talk about it, she'll bring it up.

"I'm sure the accommodations are nothing as fancy as what you're used to," he says instead, reaching for her hand under the silk sheets. "But they're tolerable?" The question is self-parodying, playful, but it's the kind of question that's allowed to be.

"Decent enough," she replies, going just as playfully snooty for a moment. "They'll do for now."

"I figured you'd prefer them to a slumber party with Pam and the kids," he chuckles. His eyes are sparkling now, in a way she hasn't seen in ages.

"Gracious, yes," she exclaims, and instinctually, she snuggles closer and leans her forehead against his chest. "When have I ever been one for slumber parties?"

"You seemed to have had a few with Salome," he muses, not sure if it's something he can get away with bringing up but curious to find out. He means it as – well, not innocently, but tolerantly as he can.

Nora's fangs pop, and she leans to nip at his shoulder. It could be playful, it could be a warning; it's probably both to some degree. "Don't," she says simply. Well, that answers that.

"It won't be much of a party anyway, between Jessica going on and Pam and Tara going at it," Eric continues, blasé as ever.

"I should think she's allowed to go on," she exclaims, eyes impossibly wide. There are many things she can be just as blasé about (the other women discovering and acting on their passion for each other, for example, seems as normal as nightfall to her) but that's hardly one of them. "Her father was reborn of the blood, crazed and intending to lead a holy war."

"You'd have talked her through it?" he retorts. "Offered a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear."

"Well, maybe not," she mutters sheepishly. They both know that while she has many gifts, genuine sympathy isn't one of them that's easily expressed; it's not that she doesn't feel it, she just has difficulties showing it, particularly with those she barely knows, and despite Jessica's on-off time at the Authority, she still very much falls into that category. "I wouldn't write it off, but –"

"But you'd start giving technical explanations of what the situation possibly construed, and it wouldn't be comforting so much as terrifying, and we'd be back to the start," he finishes, smirking. He means it with love, of course he does; that his sister prefers (sometimes twistable) fact over (often messy) emotion is one of the things he treasures about her, but to make sure she knows that, he wraps his arms around her and kisses her, and it's rough enough that it doesn't seem like a pity kiss, but gentle enough that it doesn't seem like a non sequitur.

"I'll allow a bit of time before I go into it, yes," Nora amends. Well, someone will have to sort out the possibilities of what they're dealing with, and she is the likeliest candidate.

"I've missed this," Eric says suddenly. Now that's a non sequitur, but it's been decades since they were together for more than a night or two, and not even the last weeks truly count.

"What, me?" she asks, giggling. "That's a bit sentimental for you, brother."

"Perhaps," he shrugs. "How long has it been since I held you as day broke?"

"At least a hundred years," she murmurs. "Closer to two, I'd think. Some French foxhole, if I remember, with me shirking my duties for a day or two, you running free as ever."

"A bit of running free might have done you good," he points out. "But it was never your style."

"No," she agrees. "If my wanderlust ever threatened to get out of control, I had your stories to appease me." Eyes suddenly shining, she presses a kiss to his cheek, brings her arm over his waist. "You did have wonderful stories, you know."

"A treasured compliment, coming from the queen of stories herself," he teases. "I still have a few, though they don't have the same happily debauched endings, I'm afraid."

"I don't see how that can be if they're to do with that bar of yours," she counters.

"Pam's bar, mostly," he corrects. "At least of late, given my other adventures."

"Are those nice stories?" Nora asks, and it's one of the times she sounds the most like a little sister that she can, all innocent and adoring. "The ones I don't already know."

"For another time," Eric whispers. "You'll laugh, but the big one's a love story of sorts, and not exactly a fairytale."

"Fairytales aren't fairytales," she shoots back. "The proper ones end horribly, you know that."

"Then I suppose it counts," he declares. "It's certainly a tale with fairies." She perks right up, and he has to bring her back down, shaking his head. "It's too long a story for right now, älskling, and you shouldn't get so excited at bedtime." He's playing with her, and she pouts at it, but she nods all the same.

"Promise me, then," she exclaims. "Some night soon, you'll share?"

"I'll share whatever you want me to," he assures. "Now, though, we rest while we still can."

"And tomorrow night, we start to dig ourselves out of the hole I've made," she murmurs.

"We start to dig," he agrees. "The family, together."


min lillasyster; "my little sister"
älskling; "sweetheart" etc.