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MASTER POST
Part 1

***

Dover, Mid-November, 1805

“This is going to be goddamned miserable,” Ray says unhappily, pacing. Since Temeraire won that sodding battle at Dover, all the aviators over eighteen are being made to attend a ball in his honor in London next week. Stupid fucking dragon. No, that isn’t fair. It’s probably for the best Temeraire’d won the battle, given that it’d prevented them all dying in a blaze of futile glory and England from being overrun by Frogs. And besides, Ray actually likes Temeraire. He’s curious and loves a good conversation and if you leave the two of them alone for a while, they can get up an awesome ramble on British moral systems and socioeconomic classes and gender difference.

Still, a fucking ball. That is just unnecessary.

“I mean, just think of it, all those fucking silk streamers and garlands and chandeliers, who needs that? You want to celebrate, you get a pitcher of beer, a piano, a girl on your knee. This dance is just a superfluous public demonstration of wealth and tastelessness that would be better spent on cattle for the dragons and new leathers for the men.” Brad nods vaguely, hands behind his back. “And you know what, I don’t think Captain Laurence much cares for me, so maybe I won’t go anyway. Maybe they won’t even notice I’m not there, or maybe Laurence can request I be barred from entrance,” Ray muses hopefully, but he’s starting to suspect Brad’s not paying attention.

He’d followed Ray when he had stomped out of the dining hall after their mandatory ballroom attendance had been announced, but he hasn’t had much to say. He’s just lounging on the battlements next to Ray in the watery winter sunlight, listening—or not listening, as the case may be—to Ray’s ranting. Ray is getting more and more certain that Brad is in fact ignoring him – he’s peering over the parapets down at the town and sea below, humming cheerfully to himself. Other than a long scratch on his temple, angry and red, he looks the very image of a young Greek god surveying his domain.

The scratch is the only reminder of the reckless, brilliant boarding he’d made on one of the French middleweights during the battle of Dover, two weeks prior. Luckily, Ray has resigned himself by now to Brad’s idiotic, death-defying antics and managed not to piss himself when he saw it happen. Brad’s older now, knows what’s expected of him and what to expect from a battle, and Ray’s learned not to think of death. He’s a solider, an aviator, and death is common-place. But that particular maneuver had still been a bit much for Ray’s nerves: Brad flinging himself across space and landing alone on the French dragon's back, a giant Parnassian brute with an enormous crew of its own, all up in arms. Ray’d pinched his nose, taken a deep breath, vowed to beat Brad to death with his own shoe later, after they’d survived all this bullshit, and then leapt after his comrade.

He’d managed to keep the bloody tosser from getting shot or eaten or thrown overboard to drown in the Atlantic, and what had he gotten for his troubles? A broken arm and a dozen lectures on personal safety. Which fine, so he’d landed badly—he’d still been able to use his pistol with his right hand, and that’s what mattered. Brad, of course, had come out with only a scratch, having captured the captain and his dragon, and now there are rumors he’s being considered for his own captaincy. The stupid twit. Ray’s over the moon, sure, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to reward reckless, death-defying shenanigans by telling Brad so.

“Are you listening? At all?” Ray asks crossly. He’s just realized Brad’s actually humming a minuet, the rotten traitor. “This ball is going to be fucking wretched. A complete waste of time and resources, the higher ups patting themselves on the back and getting good and pumped up and blowing a load of self-congratulatory semen all over us. And they expected us to lap it up, like they ever gave a fuck for aviators before last week. Oh, and Captain Laurence thinks I’m a bad influence on his runners. And his dragon. These are the topics being discussed, Brad, in case you didn’t notice: feel free to comment on them. Any of them. Say something and stop humming, Christ, you can’t carry a note in a bucket.”

“Captain Laurence is a sensible man, Ray,” Brad replies cheerfully.” You are a bad influence, Corporal, upon anyone unfortunate enough to be within earshot of you, and I include in that statement nuns, deaf mutes, and dumb beasts of burden.” Brad says all this with a sunny smile on his face.

He always gets this way after a victory, loose-limbed and bright-eyed. Battles agree with him. He’s a lunatic. Ray has had to resign himself to these bloodthirsty quirks over the years, and he may as well admit he finds it damnably charming.

“The filth that falls from your lips isn’t suitable for man or beast to listen to,” Brad continues companionably. “I’m surprised the Corps hasn’t fashioned you a muzzle yet.” Ray sticks out his tongue and crosses his eyes, pleased. He loves when Brad really gets a good insult going; it shows he still cares. The magic isn’t gone yet. These are things he occasionally says out loud, when he wants Hasser to go huge-eyed and spluttering or Espera to shake his head and talk about the underlying homoerotic subculture in the white man’s military. Depending on Brad’s mood, he either plays along or punches Ray in the shoulder. “Anyway, I thought you’d be happy.”

“Happy that you and Captain Laurence think I’m a useless degenerate and that you think I should be gagged?” Ray asks, puzzled, and Brad laughs.

“Well, you should be gagged, it’s true, but no, I was talking about the ball. They’ll have the best orchestra in London there. It should be an enjoyable occasion.” He sighs. “Ray, you look like a sulky toddler. Stop sticking out your lower lip, it’s not befitting an aviator.” This, naturally, causes Ray to protrude his lip out further, and what’s more, to start wobbling it. Brad rolls his eyes. “I know you like music. There’ll be good music, and good food, and girls in low-cut dresses showing off the most tasteful décolletage London has to offer. We’re all war heroes. What is there to pitch a tantrum over?”

“Hmmph,” Ray grumbles, scowling at his feet. This is embarrassing. He feels… he doesn’t want to go to London, to Brad’s birthplace, the society he grew up in. He knows Brad misses it, sometimes, misses the libraries and coffeeshops and his childhood acquaintances. Ray doesn’t want to go to a ball. He doesn’t want to see Brad the War Hero dancing with a face full of the best tits in London, while Ray the Pathetic Broken-Limbed Sidekick hovers moodily in the background, watching like a villain in a bad play. He doesn’t want to dance with anyone that isn’t—well, it’s a moot point anyway.

“Raymond Person,” Brad drawls, and his face is lighting up, an evil smirk growing larger and more evil with every second. Ray hides his face in his good hand. What has he ever done to deserve this, he wonders, and then shoots the sky a look. Don’t answer that, God. “You don’t know how to dance.”

“Want a fucking medal? No, of course I don’t. Not how to bloody ballroom dance, anyway.” Ray grew up in a damned coal-mining town; he was lucky to learn a few country dances and his sisters’ skipping rope moves. “We had lessons when I was eleven or so, I guess, but they didn’t really stick.” Also, Ray had skipped out on every one of them. “And anyway, I doubt I’ll dance much with this.” He waves around his splinted arm, then winces, because ow, stupid idea. Brad glares at him, eyebrows dipping briefly down. He’s already torn into Ray for his suicidal tendencies, which was hilarious, honestly, since it was all Brad’s fault to begin with.

Ray’d pointed that out earlier. He’d gotten injured solely because Brad had needed back-up and had failed to adequately inform Ray of his battle plans—probably because he’d known they were stupid and that Ray would have tied Brad to Laet’s harness forever.

Anyway, Brad clearly now has a duty to be Ray’s slave for at least three weeks. Ray’d informed him of this, and even tossed in a leer and an eyebrow waggle that made Brad burst into laughter and say, “Ray, a good aviator learns to make use of both hands, alternating when the situation calls for, and if you think for one second I’m touching your syphilitic hide without layers upon layers of protective armor, you must have damaged more than your wrist in that fight.”

Fuck. It’s supposed to be easier this way, being able to make light of it. He’s going to wind up making calf eyes at Brad whether he likes it or not. He can’t stop himself. Best for Brad to think it’s all a joke, since most of it is anyway. Most of the time Ray just swoons against Brad’s big manly arms to get a laugh out of Hasser, or to make Espera roll his eyes, or to cheer Brad up after command’s sent them some obviously flawed orders that are going to get Laet all bruised up again and probably lose them some good men to boot. It’s normal, it’s just Ray being Ray. He only actually lets himself zone out on the muscles of Brad’s arms and the long lean lines of his thighs and the way he smiles, a flash of white teeth and bright blue eyes—anyway, he only lets himself really look maybe once or twice an hour. Rule of thumb.

Despite his protestations, Brad has actually been helping Ray with his broken arm pretty much constantly, even though he complains the entire time. But when Ray’d offered to get Poke or Hasser to help instead, Brad had frowned, said neither could be trusted to keep Ray up to Brad’s exacting standards, and continued manhandling Ray around. He helped Ray into his shirts, laced his boots for him, tied his cravat.

That morning, Brad had tipped up Ray’s neck, eyes intent, rubbing in lather and foam, and then he’d traced the skin, smooth razor strokes, cool and shivery. Ray had screwed his eyes shut and clenched his one good fist and wondered darkly at himself. If he actually came in his trousers from Brad scraping at his face with a blade, Ray was going to bash his own head in against the wall. Put himself out of his misery. Fuck, it’d just been... Brad’s careful hands, Ray’s pulse beneath them. Brad touching him. Fuck.

“Look,” Ray says, rubbing at his eye with the heel of his palm. “Forget it. I’ll just not dance. I’ll steal the dessert platters and hide under the table with them, sneak out after an hour and go get drunk at the saloon or something. Surely London has saloons to go with all this fucking posh twaddle, right? It’ll be fine.”

“Now, Raymond, as your lieutenant, I’m responsible for ensuring that you make a good showing,” Brad says, and shucks off his jacket. He’s in his shirt-sleeves now, and Ray can see the hollow of his throat, golden pale and gleaming in the sunshine. “It’s for the honor of the entire crew. Anyway, you shouldn’t be going to the saloons so often. It’s setting a bad example for the younger officers.”


Ray glares at him darkly; he'll go to the saloons all he damned well wants. Brad does himself, often enough. “Don’t you have some prime article just panting to show up on your arm? I thought you and Elizabeth Lawton were still tupping. She’s a goer, she’ll want to dance with you. Go hassle her and leave me to my well-earned convalescence, Bradley. Don’t you know I was injured in the line of duty?”

Brad waves a hand dismissively. “She’d read too much into it,” he says, shrugging. “Too much trouble. Her mother’s already trying to force me to ask her hand.” Which was saying a lot, Ray thought moodily. Generally, respectable ladies from town frowned on their bonnie lasses taking a no-account aviator for a husband. But when the aviator looked like Brad and had Brad’s breeding, well. Exceptions seemed to be made. Unfortunately for them, Brad had a lot of opinions on the institution of marriage, and most of them were rather… negative. Ray can’t deny being a bit selfishly pleased by this, by the thought that he’ll likely have Brad to himself for the rest of his life, besides the occasional tumbles with random buxom passersby.

“Besides,” Brad smirks. “Watching you dance promises to be far more entertaining.”

“I beg your pardon,” Ray tries, scrambling up some outrage, though it sounds hollow even to his own ears. But he’s not going to dance, dammit. He’s not a dancer. He’s got some pride left, somewhere. If he looks very hard, surely he’ll find it. “I am not your trained dog to trot out around the posh London bigwigs for your amusement.”

“No, dogs are more loyal, faithful, and less likely to stick their dicks into some of the places you do.” Ray would be more offended, but he’s pretty sure Brad’s just taking the piss. The only action Ray’s seen lately, if any, has been his own right hand. Which is now out of commission. His life is just that fantastic. And even before that, it wasn’t like his life was a whirlwind of sexual encounters. He went down to the saloons for gossip, booze, and music, a chance to relax.

Sure, there’d been an occasional quick fumble with Joseph, if he really just couldn’t stand himself any longer. And, well, he’d had a few tumbles with a fellow aviator over the years, John Granby, which was always fun. Not what he wanted, but fun. Anyway, it didn’t really signify. Granby’d been transferred over to Temeraire’s crew and was now head over heels in love with Captain Laurence, if Ray was any judge of falling for blonde, blue-eyed officers. Which, sadly, he was.

The point is, he certainly isn’t getting up to the numerous acrobatic and more excitingly illegal acts Brad seems to think he is, but then, it’s not like Ray really wants to correct him.

“Come on, Person, we don’t have all day.”

“All day to do what?” Ray asks, exasperated, and then, “Oh. Oh, fuck no. You can’t be serious.”

“I am an excellent teacher, Ray.” Brad smirks, and holds open his arms invitingly. Then he shakes his hips, a little shimmy that is totally ridiculous and somehow also spine-meltingly hot. Ray stares at him in horror. “Trust me.”

“Okay, for one thing, I won’t be dancing with any gigantic seven-foot-tall male lieutenants in London, so this is entirely pointless,” Ray protests, mouth dry. “Also, I’m noticing a decided lack of tits in this scenario.”

“I anticipated that being a difficulty,” Brad says calmly, advancing on Ray, a terrifyingly amused gleam in his eye. “I assure you, I am willing to set aside the trappings of my overwhelming masculinity for a short while in order to teach you how to dance properly. As for the tits, well.” He smiles. “Use that vaunted imagination of yours.”

“You’re gonna let me lead,” Ray says disbelievingly. “You’re going to play the girl.”

“Only for you, darling,” Brad says coquettishly, batting his eyelashes. “And, if you step on my feet, I’ll place my knee in such a way as to ensure you never have children, Corporal Person.” Brad has exceptionally bony knees. Ray instinctively has the urge to cover his family jewels with his free hand, but doesn’t want to show weakness. “Come on, Ray, it’ll be good sport. Dancing isn’t just about frills and showing off one’s wealth and catching a desirable husband, I’ll have you know. It’s about knowing one’s partner, following, anticipating each other’s steps.”

“We already do all that on dragonback,” Ray says, exasperated and fond, and Brad catches his good hand and then Ray can’t say anything at all for fear of squeaking.

“Exactly,” Brad retorts, eyes twinkling. The bastard. He looks incredibly pleased with himself, cheeks pink with the brisk wind. “So you might as well let me teach you how to do it like a proper toff, you addle-pated, jingle-brained, coal-miner’s brat.”

“Oy!” Ray protests, dithering, and then gives in to the inevitable. The girls at the saloon probably don’t know the ballroom dances that would be required, and really, Ray can’t pass this up: Brad Colbert waltzing in imaginary skirts. Though Ray is a bit worried about what will happen when he inevitably steps on Brad’s trotters with his own huge clunky boots. “So, just as a precaution… perhaps we should lose the shoes?”

And that is how Ray Person and Brad Colbert wind up waltzing in their stockings in the dry, dead November grass. It’s one of the strangest things that has ever happened to Ray. Ever. Ray stares at their feet, pale and skinny amidst the tangle of weeds—Brad has oddly dainty ankles. He’s mesmerized by them, flashing a pale one-two step, one-two step.

“You’ll never learn anything if you keep staring at your feet, Ray,” Brad’s voice says, bemused. “It’s not the best way to entertain your partner, either. Not that I’m casting aspersions on your ability to keep your partner satisfied, but…”

“I’ll have you know I have never once left a partner unsatisfied!” Ray says indignantly, looking up, and Brad grins and his eyes are so goddamned blue. The sky and sea are put to shame and Ray needs to look away, now, yesterday. But Brad’s smiling; he’s happy. He’s got Ray’s hand in his, and they’re doing a promenade. A mother-fucking promenade. Brad’s got a bunch of imaginary skirts gathered in his left fist and keeps saying things like: “Such a gentleman,” and “Imagine the décolletage, Ray,” and “Now dip me.”

Ray wants to throw up, he’s so happy, doing this stupid, clunky dance and falling all over the place and laughing. Brad’s at his most charming, all smiles and teasing and compliments draped liberally in insults. And despite Ray's bitching over the ball, he's in just as good a mood himself, really. They've pushed the French back from their shores, they're both still alive, and soon they'll have their own dragon. It's pretty damned exciting, and now Ray has this too, has this moment, this playful, foolish dance.

He’s thinking about how Brad’s got an arm ‘round Ray’s waist, how he smells, clean and fresh and slightly of salt. He’s going to have Brad’s scent on his own skin for the rest of the afternoon. Understandably his concentration suffers a bit.

“You’ll do better when you stop thinking about the steps and just move with me,” Brad says, hobbling a few steps away and glaring reproachfully. “My poor feet, Raymond. You’re such a cad.”

“Well, if you’d just let me goddamned look where I’m—oh, fine, sorry,” he says, when Brad gives him a mock-wounded look. He takes a moment to draw himself up, get in character, and then bows.

“I’ll make it up to you, my Lady,” Ray says in his best drawling, smarmy Brad Colbert voice. “Strings of pearls the size of each of your perfect, pearlescent tits.” He makes an accompanying hand gesture, the universal signal for enormous melons—he’s slightly hampered by the broken wrist, but from Brad’s choked laugh, he’s done well enough. “What next, dearheart?” he clutches his hands to his chest and gets down on one knee in the dirt. Brad is struggling to keep a straight face, but a tiny smile keeps breaking through, and it’s making Ray feel stupid and giddy. “Strings of sapphires to match your eyes?” Ray implores in a dewy voice. “No, no stone could attain that hue perfected in your own orbs. Gold the color of your hair? It’d look dull, next to the radiance of your locks. Sweet red rubies, the color of your—”

“Enough!” Brad says, covering his hands with his eyes. “Raymond, get off the goddamned ground. I know you. You’re about to progress to less savory anatomical descriptions. I can only imagine. Pink tourmalines the exact shade of my rosy arsehole?”

“Pink,” Ray scoffs. “You do think highly of yourself. Nothing but topaz for you, brother. Ow, hey! I’m wounded, motherfucker! No kicking!”

Brad laughs. He’s so fucking ridiculous sometimes—all stormy-eyed and solemn and scary as hell during a battle, and then afterwards he helps Ray with his collection of dirty limericks, laughs so hard beer comes out his nose during dinner, collects weird clockwork toys and sextants and old maps. A warrior of the skies, and he’s beside himself with amusement because he managed to topple Ray over on his arse in a patch of dead clovers. What a prick, Ray thinks lovingly, and lets Brad helps him to his feet, brush the grass off his back.

Brad’s humming the waltz again, one-two-three, one-two-three, and Ray furrows his brow in concentration, trying to remember the steps.

“Was it really that terrible?” Brad asks dryly. “You look like you’re pondering your own execution, or reading Shakespeare. Is dancing with me such a trial?”

“Shakespeare’s meant for the stage. The books are dry lifeless tree corpses that’ve been farted on by squids. Reading Shakespeare is the absolute worst,” Ray retorts automatically, because this is a well-worn argument, born of Brad’s countless attempts to increase Ray’s literacy and Ray’s refusal to do so unless it involved actual pantomime and the rest of the barracks performing The Taming of the Shrew. Hasser had made a startlingly fantastic Kate, if Ray did say so himself. “And my feet are cold.”

Ray glances back up. Brad’s watching him, smiling, and then he swoops in and they’ve gotten their positions switched. Ray’s tucked in close against Brad’s body, his injured arm between them, cradled protectively. Brad’s leading him and somehow Ray’s feet are following his, automatic and graceful.

“Don’t tell anyone, but I think I dance better as the woman in this scenario.”

“You dance better when you stop thinking about your feet and just follow the music,” Brad says archly, and Ray rolls his eyes.

“There is no music.”

“Raymond, you have no poetry in your soul,” Brad sighs, and begins to hum again.

“I don’t even want to know,” a voice interrupts dryly, and Brad spins Ray with a flourish that makes his injured arm ache.

“Poke!” Ray says cheerfully, wriggling an arm loose and waving. “I didn’t know Marisol let you free evenings. Would you care to join this dance? Want to cut in?”

Espera makes a complicated face which Ray translates as a mix of annoyance at the nickname, resigned bemusement at the dancing, and helpless fondness at the merest mention of Marisol’s name. Marisol is a two month-old Anglewing, and if Ray is any authority of the subject—which he is, he’s seen countless dragonets and dragons over the years—Marisol is going to be unparalleled for agility in the air. She’s got a gorgeously proportioned wingspan. He’d told Espera as much and had been completely alarmed when Espera’d fucking beamed at him in response. Espera doesn’t beam, especially not at Ray. Ray isn’t entirely sure Espera doesn’t loathe him.

“She still put out we won’t let her fight the Frogs yet?” Brad asks, and Ray’s still tucked up close next to him, and Brad doesn’t seem to be inclined to let him go. He’s warm and blocking the chill wind, and Ray’s pretty okay with Brad never releasing him ever, even if this is going to torment Ray’s dreams for possibly the rest of his life.

“We did a patrol run this morning, got her good and tired. She’s too sleepy to complain now,” Espera tells them, smiling. It’s still alarming. Ray subtly tries to put Brad between himself and the terrifyingly cheerful captain. “She’s tucked up in the covert with half a sheep, snoring.”

“Awww, half-masticated livestock,” Ray coos. “Adorable.” Brad elbows him, which is unfair. Ray was being serious.

“How can we help you, then, Captain?”

“I’ll never get tired of hearing you white boys call me captain,” Espera says reflectively, and Ray tunes out the rest, because it’s one of fifty diatribes he’s already heard a thousand times on the evils of imperialism and the innate inferiority of the British way of life, which Poke still leads because secretly he’s addicted to tea and newspapers and fine brandies and would hate it if he and his mother (a native from the Americas who wound up, through a series of increasingly improbable and yet inevitable events, as a British Longwing captain) were actually returned to Florida or Santa Rico, or wherever it is Espera’s claiming he’s from today. Espera leads a complicated, disgruntled existence, from what Ray can tell.

“Thought I’d come spread the good news. They’ve got an egg of Obversaria’s set aside for you, Colbert. Marisol’s little sister, man. Should hatch in a couple months.”

Brad’s gone still, his eyes wide and blinking. Ray gives him a look, and when Brad still doesn’t say anything, Ray fills in the silence, says, “Fuck, that’s amazing. Anglewings are the best, they’ve got way more applications in the field that we use them for, I think. You should never discount maneuverability and stealth as assets.”

“Damn straight, brother,” Espera agrees, and pounds Ray on the back. Ray bites his tongue on an exclamation—he has a fucking broken arm here, Christ. “We don’t need no showy Imperials and heavyweights to get the job done, not all the time, anyway. Anyway, that’s the latest, Brad. You’ll be shipped off to Loch Laggan with us after the ball—you never know with those eggs, sometimes they set to cracking early, and you want to be there when they do. Oh, and lucky us, command wants you to do them a favor and take your sidekick with you when you go. He’ll be grounded with that arm and driving everyone here in Dover to murder, otherwise.”

Ray scrunches up his face into a ‘Who, me?’ expression, and Brad smiles. “I’ll keep Ray out of trouble,” he says. “You worry about that Marisol of yours.”

Espera shakes his head and turns to go, calls over his shoulder. “And cut out the dancing! You’re scaring the civilians.”

“Oh, they can’t see who we are from down there,” Ray says, huffing. “Typical fucking Poke exaggeration, classic,” but Brad’s already moved away.

“The commander probably wants to speak with me,” he says, still sounding strangely distant as he shoves his boots on and starts rearranging himself. Within seconds he looks impeccable. You’d never guess he’d been dancing in his stocking feet with his corporal. Ray squints at him, but Brad’s silhouetted against the sun, probably on purpose, the shifty, tactical bastard, and Ray can’t see his face. “I’ll see you at dinner, Ray.” He pauses. “Don’t take this opportunity to go raid Charlotte’s closet for skirts. You’d make a hideous woman. You’ll attend the ball in trousers.”

How had Brad known? “Dammit,” Ray says, and thinks maybe Brad smiles before heading off down the hill. “It worked for Shakespeare!” he hollers after him, and Brad makes a rude hand gesture before disappearing into the officer’s quarters.

***

London, December 1805

Ray should have known she’d be there. Of course she would be. The aviators are, for once, the toast of the town, the belles of the ball. Everyone stops them in the street at the sight of their kelly green coats, thanks them profusely for their services to the crown. It’s the event of the season, this ball. Of course Lady Constance Colbert, now Duchess of Devonshire, would make an appearance.

Ray’s just catching his breath after a dance with Captain Roland—she’s about as good at dancing as he is, and he was embarrassingly tongue-tied the entire time, even as she threw back her head and laughed when they knocked over a more staid waltzing couple and sent them sprawling on the marble floor. Stafford pounded him on the back after, impressed Ray had the bollocks to ask Roland at all, and Ray's flushed with success and breathless from the speed they'd been moving at. He’s loosening his cravat and tossing back a flute of champagne when he finally sees Brad amidst the press of people, and there's a woman who can only be his mother standing beside him.

She is exquisite. Not a patch on Captain Roland, with her quick smile and booming laugh, but for a dainty useless aristocrat, she cannot be faulted. He’d rather her curls be obnoxiously powdered, her flesh be sagged and wrinkled and spotted with age. But she’s aged gracefully and charmingly, not in her first flush of youth, but still beautiful. She has Brad’s bright blonde hair, his high cheekbones and perfect smirk, and she’s leaning in on her son’s arm and laughing prettily. Brad’s standing very straight and tall and his eyes are blank and unfocused. Ray knows that look, knows he’s looking through the room, looking through the walls, seeing another place entirely.

Brad has visited his mother six times since he arrived at the Corps, and he always left to meet her with a slight, irrepressible bounce in his step, and returned blank and sharp-tongued, arms full of fine clothes and books. They’ve never talked about his family since that first hideously awkward conversation, not really. Ray jokes, and Brad drawls back, icy and amused, and it helps make it less real, almost. More like something funny, something that doesn’t matter. Inconsequential. To hell with Brad’s mother and her new husband and her new estate that doesn’t have room for a son with rough hands and gunpowder streaking his hair and a sea captain’s eyes. Brad’s going to have his own dragon, and he’s got the Corps eating out of his hand. He’s got Ray. He doesn’t need these starched, gutless gentry fuckers.

Ray sees Brad flinch at something his mother’s said. He goes stiff, like he’s been wounded, and Ray doesn’t even think about it; he’s already setting his champagne flute down and making his way across the room.

“Well, hell-o,” Ray says in his coarsest, coal-mining accent, interrupting whatever conversation they’d been having, overly loud and smiling sunnily. He takes her hand, kisses it, imagines spitting in her pretty, powdered face. “I don’t believe we’ve been introduced. I’m Corporal Ray Person, your bonny boy’s bosom companion, and I can’t believe he’s been hiding you away for so long. What a cad, am I right?” She stares at him, speechless, mouth open. A filthy aviator brat is touching her. Ray turns up the charm, leans in conspiratorially. “And what a smashing rig you’ve got on, my lady. Very… pink. It goes so well with your—” and then Brad’s dragging him bodily away before he can finish the sentence or ask the wonderful woman to dance and then tip her out a window, or into a fountain, or against a waiter bearing a tray of red wine.

“What,” Ray protests, grinning. “I was just going to say it matched the color in her cheeks. You’re a suspicious fucker, Colbert.”

Ray,” Brad says, and he looks half scandalized and half like he’s about to burst into laughter. “That wasn’t necessary.”

“I bet she’s gone to go hide in the powder room and wash her hands with lye,” Ray says gleefully. “Your mother’s a bitch, Brad. Hey, where are we going?” He grins, lowers his voice and waggles his eyebrows. “Captain Colbert, is this your way of asking me to dance? You soft touch, you. Oh, hey, did you see me waltzing earlier? Total disaster; Roland and I stunned the Earl of Leicester, literally, I think. It was quite the sensation, so thanks awfully for the lessons. They worked out swell.”

“We are going to the dessert table,” Brad tells him, hand warm and firm on Ray’s upper arm. “And I am going to stuff your face with pastry so that you don’t get either of us hanged for scandalizing a peer of the realm with your flapping tongue.”

“Oh, Captain Colbert, you’re so masterful,” Ray coos, and lets himself be led off. Now that Brad’s away from that harlot, he’s smiling again, and Ray’s immediately relaxed, feels better about the world entirely. “Do you think there’ll be any clotted cream? I love clotted cream.”

Brad distracts the waiter and they manage to abscond with an entire tray of chocolate tarts, some weird and ironically French desserts--puff pastries stuffed with cream and all stacked in a pyramid of deliciousness; Ray is willing to be reconciled to French cooking after he’s tasted them—along with brandied apples and several saucers of clotted cream. Ray snags a bottle of champagne from a passing waiter, and they’re set.

They stagger outside to the courtyard with their bounty and set themselves up next to a pillar beneath the stars. The dragons are there listening to the musicians play and are talking amongst themselves, low and excited. Their rumbling voices make Ray feel at home, even in this strange gray city where he can still hear the clatter of carriages and carts late into the night, where everything is a whirl of foreign manners and intricate behavior and false faces. Now Ray feels full of warmth and good food and even the ache in his arm seems very distant.

“Thought you said there’d be decent music here,” he says drowsily, kicking Brad in the ankle.

“These are the finest violinists in the city, you backwards, beetle-browed sot. I suppose you think you can do better because you’ve convinced a bevy of whores to let you strum their instruments in a public alehouse, but this, Raymond, is how civilized people purport themselves.”

“Whorehouses have the best music,” Ray says dreamily, and then scowls at his arm. “Fuck civilization, anyway. Civilization is full of more savages in waistcoats and hoop skirts than you’ll ever find in a farming town or a forest. And, I’ll have you know, I could do better than this bloody caterwauling twaddle any fucking day, if only my arm wasn’t such a fucking mess.”

“And whose fault is that?” Ray starts to open his mouth and Brad sighs loudly, shakes his head, then steals what remains of a tart from Ray’s good hand. “Let’s not start up again about who’s to blame for your idiocy. This is meant to be a cheerful occasion.” Ray sticks out his tongue and Brad nobly ignores it. “Let’s strike an accord. I’ll keep you informed as to any actions I can possibly foresee myself taking, and will also take up soothsaying and crystal-gazing if that’ll get you to shut your bloody mouth for more than four seconds a day, and you will take greater care with your feet when you land.”

“You’re going to make me practice leaping about, aren’t you,” Ray states moodily, but he can’t quite keep the smile from his voice.

“Additional dancing lessons might help, you know,” Brad muses evilly, and Ray makes a raspberry noise of disdain. He snags the bottle back, drains the dregs, sweet and flat, and staggers to his feet.

“I’ll show you some fucking dancing,” he says, and goes to see if he can bully the city’s finest violists into playing an Irish sea shanty.

He gets in a spot of trouble later for causing structural damage to the nearby buildings when he leads several of the dragons in an impromptu round dance to the tune of ‘Ten Pound Lass,’ but Brad’s laughing so hard there are actual tears streaming from his eyes, so Ray doesn’t much mind.

***

Loch Laggan, March 1806

“Hey, Brad, Poke was being a prick this morning, probably ‘cause I keep calling him Poke, but c’mon. He seems to think I’m too irresponsible, but I mean, I’m totally responsible, that’s bullshit. I am going to be your first lieutenant, right? C’mon. C’monnn, Brad. Say it. I know I am, I just want you to say it. Brad!”

“Not if you don’t shut the hell up, Christ,” Brad grates out, and Ray whoops, splashes water over Brad in a glittering arc. He fucking loves Loch Laggan, loves the heat of the steam baths and the way he gets to see Brad Colbert topless all the time and how the clouds of steam hide any number of sins. He misses the dirty streets of Dover, the music halls and the booze, but here there are baby dragons all over the place, and fucking hot baths whenever he wants, and Brad’s here. Brad’s going to be his captain, and they’re gonna have a dragon.

“You’re lucky you’re a fucking genius with maneuvers,” Brad grumbles. “Otherwise I’d be drowning you right now.” As it is, he still shoves Ray’s head under the water, wrestles him down, and okay, fuck, Ray’s officially reached his limit on naked-Brad-time for the afternoon. Slipping out of Brad’s grip before he can do anything stupid, like kiss his future captain, Ray wades over to their towels. He wraps one around his waist and tosses Brad the other, not looking back, trusting Brad to catch it.

“Let’s go say hi to our girl,” he suggests, and pads over on damp eager feet. The eggs are ensconced in niches across the room from the pool, where any aviator that passes through can check on them easily. They’re nestled in rough quilting, and Ray may be biased, but he thinks their egg is far and away superior to the others. She’s beautiful, golden dappled brown with lighter flecks. The shell is hard to the touch, warm, and when Ray puts a hand on it, he can feel a faint stirring within.

“Hey, baby girl,” he croons. “It’s your Ray Ray, come to tell you some stories about how me and Captain Brad defeated the big bad Parnassian in battle, just for you.”

“We don’t know that it’ll be a girl, Person,” Brad growls, coming up behind him, and Ray shoots him a grin.

“Aw, come on, Brad, sometimes you just know. Don’t you trust my killer instincts?” He knows Brad does, even though he’s shooting Ray a disbelieving look and flicking damp hair out of his eyes. “Go on, tell her hello.”

“Ray,” Brad says, pained, and sighs and leans over Ray’s shoulder, dripping cool water and Ray shivers, then scolds himself. No dirty thoughts in front of the baby. Ray may be an incurable lech and a bad influence on all and sundry, but even he’s got limits.

“Hi, there,” Brad says, in a low, gentle voice, and places his hand next to Ray’s, their fingers brushing. “Don’t let Ray keep you up, sweetheart. You’ve got growing to do.”

“I’m not keeping her up!” Ray protests, but he lets Brad drag him out of the baths, out into the bitingly cold March air without much more than a token protest. This part of Scotland he does dislike, the cold emptiness, though he admits there’s something appealing about the starkness of it, the wild white winter sky and the bleak black rocks crashing up into it. He’ll never admit it, though. He’s got a reputation to uphold.

Their baby girl is due to hatch any day now, and there’s a round-the-clock watch on her egg. But Brad can’t just sit and stare and wait, mostly because Ray would go bonkers, and secretly Brad would too—there’s only so many hours a person can sit or swim or read fucking poetry or military histories or play cards or whatever. So in the meantime, they’ve been press-ganged into helping train little Marisol, and only spend about half their waking hours staring at eggshell.

Marisol’s still tiny, barely double the size of a Winchester, but it’s good to get familiar with the basics of Anglewing training. Brad and Ray have mostly been serving on Laetificat for the last ten years, with brief stints on Obversaria and Exicidium, so it’s probably for the best they’re getting a refresher course in how to handle middleweights before their As Yet Unnamed girl hatches.

But Ray’s arm is taking way fucking longer than it should to heal, so he’s still on the ground during training. He moaned about it for the first few days, that Brad got to be up in the air while Ray pined for him on the ground below, like a sailor’s wife or some crap, but it turns out to not be so bad. Ray gets to spend the time with Celeritas, the training master at Dover, who just happens to be a dragon, a Yellow Reaper with no captain of his own.

Ray thinks it makes a lot of sense, for all that he knows the non-aviating world would have an enormous tizzy at the very thought of an unharnessed dragon in charge of anything. But they’ve got human training masters at Dover, and from what Ray can tell, Celeritas does a much better job. In between barking out orders to the dragonets, he and Ray discuss training methodology and the theories behind different formations and the strengths of various breeds compared to others. He’s a good conversationalist, and willing to talk through the maneuvers with Ray while they watch the brightly colored wings wheeling through the sky above.

Ray does sort of suspect Celeritas occasionally wants to squash him like a particularly annoying insect, though. Ray isn’t especially good at keeping what he’s thinking inside his head, and a lot of what’s inside his head isn’t fit for polite company, let alone for superior officers that outweigh him by a good twelve tons. But all told, the guy’s pretty patient, and when he growls at Ray to shut up about arranging a draconic cabaret act, Ray shuts up.

“I think he likes you,” Brad muses later. “If you’d asked me about draconic castratos and operas, I’d have stepped on you, personally.”

“Hush,” Ray says, frowning at their egg. “Let’s not fight in front of the baby.”

“Were you dropped on your head as a child?” Brad inquires, dealing a new hand of cards. “I know you were when you were fifteen, I was there. I’m just wondering if the damage was more extensive than I was aware of.”

“You’re hilarious,” Ray says, and frowns at his cards. “You wouldn’t really step on me, would you, Brad?”

“If you go on about starting up a line of pornographic woodcuts marketed towards dragons again, I’ll commission someone to do it for me,” Brad assures him. Ray’s cut off mid-protest by Brad’s eyes suddenly going sharp and battle-gray. Ray feels his body respond immediately, his hand leaping for his pistol before he realizes the situation’s inappropriate, and also that they’re both dressed for the baths, towels knotted at their side; his pistol is safe and dry up in the barracks above.

Brad says simply, “She’s hatching.”

Ray replies in a daze, the cards falling from his fingers: “You do think she’s going to be a girl! I fucking knew it.” Brad spares him a moment to glare before calling for assistance.

“I guess we’ll see, won’t we,” he says, snippily, just as the room fills with excited chatter and Ray’s opportunity to snark back is lost. The next couple minutes are a swarm of excited staff and aviators filling the chamber, moving the gently rocking egg out into the open. Everyone’s watching with a hushed, festival air. Someone’s brought them their clothes, thankfully, so Ray’s shrugged half into his coat, his shirt buttoned up haphazardly. Brad only has one boot on, but he’s managing to look far more put together than Ray. Ray would be annoyed, but he’s too busy trying not to vibrate out of his own skin with excitement. She’s hatching, she’s almost here.

The next few minutes pass in a tense flurry of the egg rocking once or twice. There is a slight crack near the very top of the egg. Another minute passes and the egg twitches minutely.

“Well,” Ray says into the echoing silence. “This is a bit dull.”

“Quiet, you,” Brad retorts out of the corner of his mouth.

“I’m just saying, we could get the cards out again.”

“Is nothing sacred to you, Person?” Poke asks, exasperated, and Ray’s interrupted in the midst of enumerating the many things he does hold sacred, which include a perfect mug of Talbot’s ale, a clear morning sky viewed from the back of a dragon, and Brad’s trim waist and lean hips. Hopefully he wouldn’t have said that last out loud, but anyway, it’s all thrust out of his head by the shell giving an enormous crack and the dragonet emerging, shaking her head furiously and flapping her damp wings. She’s beautiful. She has golden eyes.

“Brad,” Ray breathes, and feels Brad’s hand brush against his.

The dragonet is nosing herself curiously, turning in a clumsy circle and tripping over on her own wings, and Ray can’t help but laugh. She’s wonderful. He wonders what Brad will name her; he’s been remarkably reluctant to discuss it with Ray. Ray guesses he really does hold some things sacred, because he’s pretty content to be surprised by this.

The dragonet looks up at Ray’s laugh and startles, comically surprised to discover she’s surrounded by people. She snorts inelegantly, then cocks her head and stumbles forward, peering at the nearest face. Ray nudges Brad towards her. Brad has the harness in his hands, miniature and perfect, but he’s biting his lip and he’s not moving.

“Brad!” Ray hisses, and Brad blinks at him. “What are you doing!”

“Oh,” says the dragonet, sounding relieved. She drops down from her hind legs, where she’d been standing and peering quizzically at Hasser’s face and trots over to them quickly, her tiny talons clicking on the stone. “There you are!”

“What?” Ray says, and Brad’s smiling. Why is Brad smiling? And then the dragonet is butting against his knee and Ray’s stomach is plummeting, his heart shooting somewhere down in the vicinity of his feet, or maybe further down, down into hell itself.

“Ray,” the dragonet says, happily, and this has all gone wrong, terribly, terribly, horribly wrong, and there’s a hush over the room again, and why is Brad smiling at him?

“Bravo, Ray,” Brad says quietly, and hands him the harness. Ray gapes at him.

“Oh, hello, Brad,” the dragonet says, but she seems content to stay sitting on Ray’s foot. She’s small and perfect, barely larger than a cat.

“Hello, sweetheart,” Brad says cheerfully, and the bloody bastard is beaming, now. Ray has fallen through a rabbithole into Faerie, or he’s taken a dram of absinthe without remembering, or he’s slipped and hit his head and this is all a fever dream.

“What the fucking fuck,” Ray says feebly, and the dragonet’s eyes go large and liquid and worried, and he feels like a heel. Whatever else is happening, he can’t let her think he doesn’t want her.

“It’s not—you were meant to—” he starts helplessly, and then swallows. He wants her. He can’t have her. “Brad’s supposed to be your captain. You don’t want me.”

“What? Of course I do. I decided long ago. You are being quite stupid,” the dragonet says. Somewhere beyond the shock and ringing in his ears, Ray can hear Poke laughing. “But I do not mind, I like you anyway. You tell good stories. May I have a name now, please?”

A name. Ray blinks helplessly. Brad’s just smirking at him, totally useless. When this is all over Ray is going to smash his face with a hammer, or a rock, or a boot. Something blunt and heavy. But Ray’s slow-witted and right now his brain’s totally blank. He can’t look away from the dragonet’s small, pointed face. She’s beginning to seem a bit uncertain, her wings drooping. She’s drawing in on herself, curling up. Ray drops to his knees automatically and gathers her in his good arm, buries his face in her warm, damp neck. She immediately brightens, nuzzling him and humming happily, a sweet vibrating thrum. Ray tries to gather his scattered thoughts, keeps tripping on the reality of her, smelling milky and alive in his arms.

“Ray,” Brad prompts, nudging Ray with a booted toe. “Ray, a name.”

A name, fuck. He has no name picked out, and his mind is totally fucking blank, and somehow he picks a word out of the chaos that is his brain at the moment and blurts it out: “Bravo.”

“Bravo,” the dragonet says, considering, flapping her little wings. “Yes. That’s a good name. I quite like Sweetheart, too, though.”

“No, no,” Brad interjects, sounding alarmed. “Bravo is—let’s stick with Bravo.”

“Alright,” the dragonet—Bravo—says agreeably. She bites Ray’s ear gently and he yelps. “Ray, I am hungry.”

“Falling behind on your duties already, Captain,” Brad says smugly, and oh, he is going to get it so hard later, but first Ray has to take the tray of freshly sliced lamb and calf meat and offer the first piece to Bravo with shaking hands. She squeals happily and lunges for it, and Ray gets her settled in her harness as she gorges herself, telling her the whole time how lovely she is, how they’ll go flying later, how he’ll show her everything. He feels full of light and queerly hollow, echoing and dazed at the same time, and all the while Brad’s hand is on his shoulder, anchoring him.

“You are in so much trouble,” he says lowly as Bravo settles in to sleep, stuffed to the metaphorical gills and streaked with gore. “You have no idea.”

“You’re welcome,” Brad retorts cheerfully, because he’s an idiot and doesn’t know death when it’s staring him in the face. “She’s beautiful, Ray. Do I get to be your first lieutenant?”

“You get to be my first murder victim,” Ray starts, but then Bravo shifts in his lap and he’s wholly distracted with making sure she settles. Brad sinks down beside him, reaches out and runs a finger along the gleaming length of Bravo’s neck. Bravo lets out a loud burp; she has great volume and depth for such a tiny thing. Ray pats her proudly, even as his brain is unraveling and his eyes can only see Brad, dim in the torchlight of the cavern.

He’s dimly aware of the chamber emptying, of people saying congratulations in strangled tones, but Brad’s there through it all, and finally it’s just the two of them, the three of them. Ray’s finally able to bitch Brad out, if he wants to—and he does — if only he could find the words, figure out what’s going on.

“What the hell was that, Brad,” Ray says a little hysterically after a moment, throat tight. He’s, fuck, he can’t be—he has Bravo. He doesn’t know what’s going on, but the thought of giving her up now is like trying to imagine giving up a limb or a lung. “I don’t—I shouldn’t—”

“If there’s any man in the Corps that would make a better captain than you, I haven’t met them yet,” Brad says immediately, eyes bright, like he’s been just waiting for Ray to say something. Typical, he’s got an argument all planned out, probably with footnotes, while Ray’s flopping around like a landed fish, trying to figure out where all the water’s gone. “You’re not suited for polite company, but you’re a good man, the best man. I thought she might choose you. I hoped she would.”

Ray flushes. “Brad, you don’t—promotions, they don’t just come along! When are you going to get a chance at an egg again? You might not, you might not ever, and you thought I’d want to take that from you?” Ray asks, aghast. And they’d be—they’d be separated. Ray tries not to be an overly sentimental twit, but he’s part of Brad’s team, and that’s just how it goes. Brad gets the dragon, Ray gets Brad, what pieces of him he’s allowed, and that’s just that. It’s reality. Ray’s accepted it, he’s fine with it. He doesn’t need his own dragon—but now he has one, has her.

“I don’t want another chance at an egg,” Brad says contentedly, tickling Bravo’s chin. She purrs and stretches sleepily, and Ray feels himself going all gooey and melty and stupid with love for her, for her tiny perfect limbs and delicate wings and the way her tail curls in a dainty spiral around his wrist.

“You’re insane,” Ray says after a moment, trying to control his breathing. “I don’t understand you at all. Don’t you want her?”

“Never as much as you did,” Brad replies, looking obnoxiously pleased with himself. He’s very close, so close his breath is stirring Ray’s hair. “Not that she’s not fantastic, mind you. I knew you’d be upset at first. But this—it’ll work better this way, Ray. Trust me.”

“But I don’t want to be a captain!” Ray protests lowly, panic crawling up his throat. He’s not cut out for command. He is not a commander. He is going to ruin everything and England is going to go up in flames and Bravo is going to be captured by the sodding French and, and—

“Breathe, idiot, that’s why I’m here,” Brad interrupts, flicking Ray between the eyes. Ray hates him so much. “We’ll do it together.”

“The Corps doesn’t work like that,” Ray protests, stroking Bravo’s head and feeling stupidly hopeful, stupidly believing.

“Maybe not,” Brad says, with a crooked smile. He looks happy, Ray realizes. The fucking lunatic, he looks happy. “But we do.”


PART THREE

Comments

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
meeks00
Apr. 21st, 2010 07:08 pm (UTC)
You make me weep tears of joy. Sprinkled with hearts and confetti.

- The dancing! Brad's happiness! Ray's happiness!
- Poke's beaming about his dragonette!
- Ray saving Brad from his mother's evil clutches!
- Brad not being pleased with the news of the egg until he hears that Ray can come along!
- THE DRAGONETTE IS RAY'S AND HE'S ABOUT CRYING WITH HAPPINESS AND BRAD'S HAPPY WITH RAY'S ALMOST CRYING WITH HAPPINESS.

All of the happiness and love in this is so lovely. I serioulsy want to print all of this out on my office's super computer in COLOR even though the words are in black and white and bind it and HUG IT FOREVER. No, for REAL. Would I be fired for that? Because this is the novel of my dreaaaaaaaaaammmmsssss.
novembersmith
Apr. 22nd, 2010 01:37 am (UTC)
*twirls youuu* Heeeeee, thank youuu, RAY AND POKE HAVE THEIR OWN BB!DRAGONNNS. I was so happy with the idea of it, I cannot lie! I sort of want to crawl in this universe and write everyone's stories, Poke and Marisol and everyone.

YOU ARE MADE OF DREAMS, HONESTLY. You have to stop spoiling me with these lovely comments or I will probably start stalking you forever. JUST A WARNING.
meeks00
Apr. 22nd, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)
I sort of want to crawl in this universe and write everyone's stories, Poke and Marisol and everyone.
You should do this. Yes indeed.

Also, HONEY, how long did this TAKE you? You popped up into my life like a jack-in-the-box full of new universes and world peace and all that good stuff!

And I can't stop spoiling you! I must spoil you forever. MUUUST.
novembersmith
Apr. 23rd, 2010 02:53 pm (UTC)
OMG, don't encourage me, you don't even KNOW. I've already accidentally tripped and fallen into writing another ridiculous GK 'verse. WTH BRAIN, SHUT YOURSELF OFF ALREADY. I can't just write ridic AUs forever!

And heh, it took me... I'd say just under a month? It was a meant to be a birthday present and it wound up being REALLY LATE. /o\
meeks00
Apr. 23rd, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
Ooooh, you big tease, you! I've already accidentally tripped and fallen into writing another ridiculous GK 'verse. WTF does that mean?! What 'verse?! Is it coming out tomorrow?!
azurelunatic
Apr. 22nd, 2010 04:42 pm (UTC)
THEIR BABY OMG I AM BREATHLESS AND NOW I MUST DEPART FOR STRAWBERRIES WHY WHY MUST YOU MOCK ME SO WITH THE BEAUTIFUL FIC I NOW MUST WAIT TWO HOURS TO FINISH
azurelunatic
Apr. 22nd, 2010 05:54 pm (UTC)
AND I HAVE RETURNED AND HAD TO READ THAT BIT AGAIN BEFORE CONTINUING.
novembersmith
Apr. 23rd, 2010 02:55 pm (UTC)
LOL! Sorry, that is a terrible place to have to pause! I hope the strawberries were delicious, though! And ohhh, you, you are too lovely, I am glad you enjoyed it! <3<3<3<3
azurelunatic
Apr. 24th, 2010 11:37 pm (UTC)
They are truly delicious strawberries. They may not last the rest of the night.
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novembersmith
May. 2nd, 2010 07:30 pm (UTC)
Re: part three
Hope your exams went well! And omg, your comments = best ever, thank you so much. One of my favorite things about Brad and Ray are how they express affection and friendship and omgtruelove via insult. And yesss, Brad totally sees what Ray’s doing and can seldom resist playing along. THEY’RE SUCH BOYS.

Heh, yeah, Ray hides in plain sight a lot, I think. I mean, he cannot conceal his epic pining forever, but he makes a decent stab at it! And yeah, I wanted the UST to flow naturally and not be overly exaggerated, so thank you!

I have SUCH A THING for possessive!Brad. His complaints mean looove.

UGH, I WANT TO THROW YOUR FIC UP AGAINST A WALL AND BLOW IT, I SWEAR TO GOD

AHAHA, YOU HAVE MY FULL PERMISSION TO ENGAGE IN FELLATIO WITH MY FIC WHENEVER YOU LIKE. *g* I worried the dance scene was a little self-indulgent, but I couldn’t resist Brad waltzing Ray all over the place. <3<3<3

I love protective!Ray toooooo. One of my favorite scenes in the whole series is when the other convoy is shooting at Brad and the other guys in the field, and Ray is like WTAF and zooms his Humvee out of line and DRIVES IN FRONT OF THE FIRE to protect his boys, hollering all the way. RAAAAY.

Ray has this distressing tendency to not believe he can get the things he wants. Brad needs to fuck beat that out of him.
Heh, and Brad will take GREAT JOY in doing so. I am anticipating some “I will not fuck you until you admit you are awesome” sex torture.

And oh man, it took me a while to get to a plot-writing-point, so thank you! I’m glad you like it, I had a lot of fun shaking up the power dynamic. And believe me, I get called out on being over-descriptive by my betas all the time. But yesss, thank so muuuch! Your comments give me so much glee, seriously.
chinawolf
Apr. 29th, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC)
This is the best thing that happened to me this week. Oh, God, the hatching!! The dancing was already great, and the thought of Ray and Roland knocking people over on the dancefloor is just too funny - I have the exact visual in my head. :D! But the hatching? Priceless. Brad is such a devious bastard. And naming her Bravo! I mean, of course, makes sense, but my heart may just have exploded from <333333333 at that point.

Such a great story!
novembersmith
May. 1st, 2010 09:38 pm (UTC)
The hatching was definitely my favorite scene! I had it in mind from the very first, when I started trying to plot out a Temeraire/GK crossover. And it had to be Bravo! Though Sweetheart would have been a hilarious name, too. *G*

I'm glad you enjoyed! I had tons of fun writing it, it's awesome to know people are enjoying reading it. <3
lassroyale
Jun. 21st, 2010 09:11 pm (UTC)
OMG...that whole time I had my fingers crossed and just hoping the dragonet would choose Ray. I'm all sappy and sentimental like that and the fact that Brad wants to be Bravo's other daddy with Ray...just...::sigh::

I have to admit, I actually teared up a bit when Bravo chose Ray. I'm a sucker for that sort of love and sweetness, despite the fact that all I can seem to do is write angst. The pacing and tone for this chapter is perfect. Also, I really admire the way you establish setting in so may words without making it a big deal. Great job! (scurries off to read the next bit.)
novembersmith
Jun. 22nd, 2010 05:19 pm (UTC)
Ahahah, I couldn't resist! In the canon, Ray is actually beneath Brad in rank, so I was a little nervous about shaking things up like this, but it seems to have come out well. And ohhh, I'm so glad you like the scene with Bravo! I admit I had that scene in mind the whole time I was formulating this fic, and it was SO much fun to write! Glad you liked it too! <3!
regonym
Aug. 13th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
RAY WITH BRAD’S MOM OMGGGG.

He gets in a spot of trouble later for causing structural damage to the nearby buildings when he leads several of the dragons in an impromptu round dance to the tune of ‘Ten Pound Lass,’ but Brad’s laughing so hard there are actual tears streaming from his eyes, so Ray doesn’t much mind.

I love the little moments o' life that you keep slipping into the story.

Was not expecting the Captain Ray twist! But I love it, it’s awesome~

“Breathe, idiot, that’s why I’m here,” Brad interrupts, flicking Ray between the eyes. Ray hates him so much. “We’ll do it together.”

“The Corps doesn’t work like that,” Ray protests, stroking Bravo’s head and feeling stupidly hopeful, stupidly believing.

“Maybe not,” Brad says, with a crooked smile. He looks happy, Ray realizes. The fucking lunatic, he looks happy. “But we do.”


MY HEART. JUST MELTED. This story is the awesomest thing to ever awesome. ♥

novembersmith
Aug. 18th, 2010 11:10 pm (UTC)
AHAHA, I COULD NOT RESIST THE DANCING, DRACONIC OR OTHERWISE! And oh yay, I'm glad you like the twist! I think it worked out well, even though I was sort of nervous about shaking things up.

Booooooooooooooys. ILTHEM, DO YOU LTHEM? THEY ARE 100% LOVABLE, RIGHT? RIGHT?
syllic
Sep. 23rd, 2010 11:42 am (UTC)
ARGH I'm about to do my ridiculous thing again because THIS:

Ray wants to throw up, he’s so happy, doing this stupid, clunky dance and falling all over the place and laughing. Brad’s at his most charming, all smiles and teasing and compliments draped liberally in insults. And despite Ray's bitching over the ball, he's in just as good a mood himself, really. They've pushed the French back from their shores, they're both still alive, and soon they'll have their own dragon. It's pretty damned exciting, and now Ray has this too, has this moment, this playful, foolish dance.

I don't think I can possibly tell you how wonderfully you have captured the atmosphere of this, the playfulness of the books and the wonderful ease of Brad and Ray.
novembersmith
Sep. 27th, 2010 12:45 am (UTC)
*flaps hands at you forever* YOU ARE SO LOVELY, TY. And ahahaha, the thing is I felt so RIDICULOUSLY SELF-INDULGENT writing that scene, but I couldn't resist the urge to write the boys ballroom dancing.
jiahn101
Jul. 24th, 2011 01:43 am (UTC)
Hey I love Ray/Brad and I love this story! Have you ever considered writing it from Brad's POV? Because I would adore you forever if you did! It would be fabulous, but no pressure just a fantasy of mine.
schlicky
Jan. 2nd, 2012 02:05 am (UTC)
So, I'm reading this lovely, wonderful story of yours again. The first time I read it, I had no clue what Temeraire was about. But now I'm reading this a second time after having read all of the books, and I am falling insanely in love with it all over again. It's like a whole new story because I'm picking up on all of the little things (Granby's love for Laurence!) and it's fucking AMAZING. Jesus. I've been toying with doing a fusion like this, but I don't think I'm going to, because it could never be half as good as this is. You amaze me. ♥
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

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novembersmith
pale but interesting

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