Rila: I loved this little moment in The Thursday War. '"You're entitled to yourselves," she[Osman] said. "Is Vaz okay?" She could see movement behind Mal in the crew bay. Vaz was sitting up against one of the bulkheads in his tank top with one arm folded across his chest, fending off Naomi's first aid. The Spartan ran out of patience, grabbed him by one shoulder, and pinned him while she sprayed salve on his burns.' The Thursday War; Page 60, Chapter Eight.

Disclaimer: Traviss, when's the final book going to be out? I need more fuel for my Naomi/Vaz fixation...

Word Count: 790

Chapter Description: After returning from the botched search for Philips, Vaz finds himself in the care of Naomi.

"Stay still."

Despite her command, Vaz struggled against her, resisting the urge to wince as the movement agitated the burn on his shoulder. The armor had taken most of the brunt but not all, and Naomi's eyes narrowed.

"Do I have to pin you?" Her tone was mild despite the edge of annoyance. Vaz didn't doubt that she would and wondered if it was such a good idea to rile her up - he didn't want to risk damage from a Spartan still coming down from the rush of battle. His mouth ran away, however, pride overriding common sense.

"You're welcome to try," he said. All he got was the narrowing of pack-ice eyes before her hand found his shoulder and pulled, pinning him with ease.

"Don't be a baby," she murmured as he squirmed.

"They aren't that bad," he argued. Part of him was uncomfortable with her touching him, able to feel the warmth of her fingers through her glove on his shoulder. It wasn't against her, but a deep-rooted paranoia born from knowing that if something got ahold of you, it was more than likely an Elite and you wouldn't be living much longer.

Naomi stared, and the stony, unwavering look in her eyes suddenly melted. Guilt flashed, and Vaz's gut twisted. "None of us want to take a chance, Vasya." His gut twisted further, and he wondered if she was aware of the guilt-trip she was leading him down. Nobody else used the Russian short-form of his name. "Please."

His resolve shattered and he ceased his struggling, catching Mal's gaze over Naomi's shoulder. Mal bounced his eyebrows and grinned, ignoring the scowl on Vaz's lips and the furrowing of his brow. Mal's grin turned to a smirk. Don't start, Vaz mouthed.

Mal simply bounced his eyebrows again and tossed him a suggestive wink that had Vaz wondering why he was friends with the older man. Of course he'd get a kick out of this. Bastard.

But the expletive was without real venom and, were he not the one pinned, he could've seen the humor in it. Naomi eased off of him and tipped his head back. "Are you okay?"

Are you? He wanted to ask, but her wounds weren't the physical kind, nothing that salve or shots could heal. Hers were the deep kind, the kind that ended with bleeding out in the most painful of ways. But that pain, he realized, was nothing new to her. Life for a Spartan was not easy by any definition, but in the span of just a few short weeks, life had gotten even more difficult for Naomi.

No longer could he see her as the terrifying Baba Yaga, or even as the Spartan that she was - when he looked at her, all he could see was a girl. A scared little girl who hid it behind a helmet and several hundred kilos of armor. No, he couldn't ask her if she was okay, not when he knew she wasn't. "I'll live," he told her, and cracked a weak smile. "I want a refund on my armor, though."

It had been meant as a joke, an attempt to see her smile. But smiling was not something Spartans did often, having very little reason to do it at all, if ever. But the frown on her lips looked less severe, and Vaz figured that had to count for something. She turned to leave, and he caught her wrist. It, like her hands, was surprisingly feminine, his fingers spanning the skin with little effort.

"Thank-you," he told her, and meant it. She stared at him, and he expected her to nod and to walk away. Instead, she slid her wrist through his grasp till their hands touched, and her fingers curled. A light squeeze, just the barest of pressure.

"You're welcome."