Love is not a bandage to cover wounds

This is a little scene inspired by a word prompt (the phrase I used for the title) from the WriYe DreamWidth.  This is set after the main story in my National Museum and Archives story.  Oliver did something he shouldn’t have done and Peter is having trouble forgiving him.  What sort of relationship they have… it could be read as close friendship or something much more, depending on how you read this scene.

**

Oliver wasn’t sure what to do.  The fallout over the incident with Ackerley had gone so much further than work.  It was bad enough that he had to work to earn the trust of the rest of the security team at the National Museum again.  That, he knew, he could manage.  It would take time and effort on his part, but they’d get there eventually.  He wasn’t sure what to do about Peter.

He chewed at his lip as he watched the other man eating his lunch.  There had been a time when they’d been practically inseparable.  They’d done everything together – worked, played, eaten… slept.  He couldn’t remember a time when Peter hadn’t been by his side.  Now, he felt as if there was a wall between them that he couldn’t get around or through.

Peter said he still cared and Oliver certainly still cared for Peter.  However, he couldn’t find a way to repair the damage that was done to their relationship.  What could he do when simply caring wasn’t enough?

“You’re staring,” Peter said, his voice soft.  He glanced up and met Oliver’s eyes.  “If you’ve got something to say, just say it?”

Oliver heaved a sigh and set his elbows on the desk.  Resting his chin against his fists, he frowned.  “I’m trying to figure out… what to do,” he said, his voice soft.  “I know you’re hurt and – and you have a right to be.  I just… don’t know how to make it better.”

“The only thing that can make this better is time, Oliver,” Peter said, shrugging.  He grimaced and tossed his near-empty noodle container in the trash.  Shaking his head, he shrugged again.  “It might not be what you want to hear.”

“It’s the only answer I’m going to get,” Oliver finished.  He leaned back in his chair and shook his head.  “Apologies won’t fix it and neither will… your feelings haven’t changed.  Have they?”

Peter shook his head.  “That’s why it hurts so much,” he said, shrugging.  “If I didn’t care about you so much, Oliver, it would just be a matter of you proving to me that I could trust you not to betray us again, but… you didn’t trust me and that hurts a lot more than anything else you might have done.”

“I was scared,” Oliver said, his voice faint.  He swallowed thickly and ducked his head to hide the fact that he was near tears.  He didn’t want Peter to feel guilty, not when this whole mess was his doing.  He took a deep steadying breath and shook his head.  “I’ll just… give it time, then.”  There wasn’t anything else he could do, after all.

Empty Theater

This little scene was inspired both by a photo prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth and my own experience in watching how “interviews” are conducted where I work.  One of the things the interview committee always asks of the candidates is that they give a presentation that is open to all the employees.

**

36-6c76b3dbe1Jakob stood at the back of the theater and looked down at the rows of empty seats.  He bit his lip as he struggled to get control of his breathing and calm his racing heart.

In just a few hours, he’d have to give his presentation to the staff of the National Museum and Archives.  The members of the interview committee would be there.  That much was a given.  However, he was well aware that the invitation was an open one.  How many other people would attend?  Would the room be filled to brimming or would it just be a small handful of people?  Either way, the idea terrified him.

A light touch on the small of his back set his heart racing once again.  He glanced over his shoulder to see Stephen there and grimaced.  “I’m nervous,” he admitted, his voice faint.

“You know your stuff,” Stephen said, his voice soft.  “You’ll do just fine with the presentation and then… it’s out of your hands.  They’ve got four other candidates for the position, besides you.”

Jakob nodded slowly.  Stephen was right.  He was well prepared and he just had to give his presentation.  Even if the only people that came were the members of the interview committee, it wouldn’t matter.  Even if every seat was filled, it would be the same.  Either way, he’d pretend the room was just as it was now: empty, except for him and Stephen.  “Thank you,” he murmured.

“Anytime,” Stephen said, his voice soft.

Being a good man

This is a little scene inspired by a word prompt (the phrase I used as the title) from the WriYe DreamWidth.

**

Jakob couldn’t help but smile as he watched Gregory playing with Trudy.  He was kneeling in the grass, with his hands over his eyes and counting softly and slowly.  The little girl – his little girl – was trying to find a place to hide, giggling the whole time.

After he’d reached ten, Gregory uncovered his eyes.  He flashed a smile at Jakob and then moved to his feet.  “Hmm,” he said, his eyes twinkling with mirth.  “I wonder where Trudy is.”  His words were answered by a giggle from the child that told them exactly where she’d hidden.  Gregory pretended not to hear, though.

Instead, he began searching everywhere he possibly could – even places that the little girl couldn’t possibly be.  Staring into the branches of a tall oak, Gregory said, “I guess I can’t find her.”

“Here, Daddy,” Trudy said, peering out from behind Jakob, where she’d been the entire time.

As Jakob chuckled, Gregory smiled.  Meeting Jakob’s eyes, he said, “The one place I didn’t think to look, of course.”

“Of course,” Jakob said.  He smiled warmly as Trudy ran to her father’s arms and he lifted her into an embrace.  Against all odds and in spite of what everyone thought, Gregory was a very good father – a very good man.

Listen to the Music

This is a little scene that was inspired by a picture prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth.

**

It had been hard, at first, to accept that he wouldn’t be working with Gregory anymore.  Ever since he’d been elevated to the position of Director of Collections, Gregory had been a fixture.  If he needed something brought over from one of their storage warehouses, he went to Gregory.  If he needed to arrange special security for an artifact, he went to Gregory.  Now, he was forced to turn to others.  They were just as skilled, but he didn’t know them.

However, there were benefits to the new arrangement as well.  When they’d been co-workers, they’d felt the need to be careful regarding their relationship.  No one at the museum knew that Gregory was, essentially, his brother.  Now, there was no reason to hide the facts.

35-45a957a8ffJakob glanced over at Trudy and chuckled softly.  She was sitting with a book in her lap.  The stuffed bear was nestled beside her on the couch.  The headphones from Jakob’s portable radio were settled on its head.

“Trudy,” Jakob said, grinning.  When the little girl looked up from her book, he waved at the bear.  “What’s that about?”

“He didn’t want to read with me,” Trudy said, shrugging.  “He’s listening to your player, instead.”

“Is he enjoying the music?” Jakob said, arching an eyebrow.

Trudy frowned and looked at the bear.  Then, grinning, she turned back to Jakob and nodded.  “Very much,” she said, giggling.  “Thank you, Uncle Koby!”

“You’re quite welcome, Trudy,” Jakob said, giving her a sunny smile.  Chuckling to himself, he turned back to his own work.  Yes, he could deal with changes at the museum, if it meant that he could look after Trudy and be “Uncle Koby” for the little girl.

Boys will be boys

This little scene was inspired by a phrase prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth.  It’s set when Jakob is still just eight years old.  Nelly is his twin sister.  Gregory is their adopted brother. Elijah is the younger brother.

**

Nelly frowned at Gregory, Elijah and Jakob.  They were running around crazily.  She wanted for Jakob and Gregory to come and play dolls with her, but both of them refused.  They preferred, instead, to play tag with their younger brother, Elijah.

“Why aren’t you playing, Nelly?” Mother asked, leaning close to look into her eyes.  “Don’t you like to play tag?”

“I want to play dolls,” Nelly pouted, hugging Patrice close.  Patrice was her favorite doll, since it had been the last thing her father had given her.  “Gregory and Jakob won’t play with me.”

“Perhaps,” Mother said, “if you play tag with them, they’ll play dolls with you later.”

“I ain’t playing dolls,” Gregory called, skidding to a stop.  He sighed when Jakob tagged him and ran away with a laugh.  Gregory sighed when Mother gave him a significant look.  “Why can’t she play dolls with Adeline?”

“Addie’s four is why,” Nelly said, stamping her foot.  “I’m eight already.  I can’t play with a four year old!”

Jakob heaved a sigh and then nodded.  “All right,” he said.  “After we have lunch, we’ll play dolls with you, Nelly.  For now, though, you can play tag with us.”

Mother nodded when Nelly smiled.  As soon as Mother had headed back inside, Gregory added, “Newcomers are cucumbers, though.  So… you’re it!”  Then he spun and ran away from her.

Nelly’s face flushed a brilliant scarlet.  She set Patrice gently on the bottom step and took off after Gregory.  “You – you boy!” she shouted, trying to the think of the worst possible thing to call him.

A Moonlit Night

This little scene was inspired by a picture prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth.  Tobias is the head of security at the National Museum and Archives.

**

908ace9919a9bf693db1252f7ce270afTobias stared out at the night.  The moon looked large and full in the sky.  From the little window of his flat, he could see a large tree with one branch twisting in front of it.  A cat was perched high in the tree.

Sighing, Tobias leaned on his hand and frowned at the cat.  Why was it sitting high in the tree?  What could it possibly want?  Why would the cat be sitting up in the tree like that, staring at the moon?

Chuckling, Tobias pushed away from the window.  Why was he sitting in his window on a lovely night like this?  Why was he staring out at a cat sitting in a tree?  Why was he wondering about the cat and what it meant by sitting there?  He should be outside, enjoying the moonlit night, like that cat.  He shouldn’t be inside wondering about it.

Swamps of Pavement

Oliver and Peter are security guards at the National Museum and Archives.  This story was inspired by the phrase that became the title, found at the WriYe DreamWidth

**

Oliver made his way down the street.  The summer was hot and sticky.  A part of him couldn’t wait for the seasons to turn and fall to come.  He loved the autumn, when there was a crisp freshness in the air and the leaves began to turn to red and gold.  However, he knew that the summer would have to end before the fall would arrive.

For now, he would have to put up with the heat that rose from the pavement in waves.  For now, there would be the hot stickiness that made him want to take off his jacket and loosen his cravat.  Even the plants growing along the margins of the walkways did little to cool the air.  Rather than the cool forest that the city planners intended, it seemed to Oliver that it was a hot, sticky swamp with paving stones in place of a river.

“I hate summer,” he murmured as he reached the entrance of the museum.  He sighed when Peter pointed out that he hated winter just as much – complained about it just as bitterly.  “I prefer the fall,” Oliver said, shrugging, “or the spring.”

“Around here,” Peter said, shaking his head and chuckling, “fall lasts about two weeks and spring is over in a day.”

Invisible

This scene was inspired by a picture prompt.  It’s my first time characterizing Marta in the NMA universe and I’m really pleased with her.

**

057c48847bd101e9ec2a89baf010bb29She sat in the park on the bench, reading.  It was something she did every day.  No one ever seemed to notice her.  It was as though she was invisible.  She had come there every day during her lunch break and no one ever looked at her.

“Is this seat taken?” a soft voice said.

She looked up from the book and blinked in surprise.  Standing beside her, smiling at her, was a tall, handsome man.  He ruffled a hand through his dark brown hair and chuckled.  “I could sit… beside you, maybe?”

“Sure,” she said, sliding over to give him a bit more room.  As he joined her, she noticed the book he was holding.  “That’s a good book,” she murmured.

“You seemed to enjoy it,” he said, his voice soft.  He gave her a sidelong glance and shrugged.  “I… don’t want to sound creepy, but I’ve been watching you for a while.  I was… too shy to say anything until now, though.”

“I – I’m Marta,” she said, straightening and closing her book.  “Marta Starleigh.  I work in Library Acquisitions.”

He grinned.  “Kasper Waverley,” he said, “Research.”  After introductions had been made, they sat side by side and each read from their own books in silence.  When the half hour lunch break was nearing the end, Kasper moved to his feet.  “I gotta get back,” he said, shrugging.  “Maybe… we could eat lunch together tomorrow?”

“I’d like that,” Marta said, as she closed her book and tucked it under her arm.  She waved as she headed back towards the main library building, where she worked.  Kasper headed off towards the Museum building with a skip in his step.  Maybe, Marta wasn’t quite as invisible as she’d thought.

New-built City

This little scene was inspired by a word prompt at the WriYe DreamWidth (the title). It’s set on New Year’s Day…

**

Jakob leaned against the window and stared out at the city.  It was the start of a new year and everything seemed, somehow, to be fresh and clean.  It was as if, with the coming of the new year, the city was built up new once again.

“What are you thinking about so hard?” Stephen asked, his voice soft, “You’re wearing such a thoughtful expression.”

“It’s a beautiful sight,” Jakob said, nodding towards the twinkling lights of the city they called home.  “Somehow, with the starting of the year, it’s like everything else is new again.”

Stephen chuckled softly and nodded.  “I know what you mean,” he said, his voice soft.

A Home

This scene was inspired by a picture prompt that was posted at the WriYe DreamWidth.  It’s another story in my National Museum and Archives universe.  Jakob, as I’ve already said, is in charge of museum collections.  Stephen is in charge of the archives.  They both have apprentices in magic, who live with them and… they are a couple.

**

8a5cb5b72f58b09616d57210c9b68d85Jakob stood at the base of the steps and stared up at the house.  He could hardly believe that this large, beautiful home was theirs.

He knew it wasn’t perfect.  There was work that needed doing.  The stone railing at the front was half-broken.  The lawn was a mess.  The side porch was in definite need of work, since it was in the process of being repaired.

Still, somehow, it was their home and that made it beautiful.  He glanced over his shoulder at Stephen and heaved a sigh.  “We’re home,” he said, his voice soft.

Stephen took Jakob’s hand in his own and nodded.  “Yes,” he said, “We are.”  He laughed when Reinhold and Hannah ran past them and up the ragged walkway to the front door.

“We’d better get inside,” Jakob said, tugging Stephen up the steps and towards the house.  It would mean a lot of work, but they had a home of their own – not a townhouse in the city that was shared with another family, but a real house of their own.

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