Disclaimer: I don't own The Slave Breakers world or characters, they belong to the talented maculategiraffe who gave the okay for me to post my attempt at playing in her playground.
Timeline: Several Months Post-Lee
Betas: avamclean & azraelz_angel
Word Count: 837
Note: This story is set within The Slave Breakers Universe that was created by maculategiraffe. This story is set Post-Lee, so reading that is a must if you do not want to be spoiled. Also, this parallels one of the short fics showing a training scene between Bran and Holden (found here)
You can find all the stories here: maculategiraffe.livejournal.com/10338.ht
Summary: When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us. - Alexander Graham Bell
Bran ran his hand down the bare back in front of him and gave a sad smile when he felt the muscles tense underneath his fingertips. He leaned in toward the dark, silver-flecked hair and whispered, “I know you’re awake, Mas- Holden.”
It had been several months, but to Bran, old habits died hard. It had taken him years to recover from his life before being sold to the Slave Breakers and it would take him time to adjust to being a free man. In his mind, he still saw Holden as the Master that loved him enough to keep him. Now, he was beginning to see Holden as the man that loved him enough to set him free.
When Holden didn’t respond, Bran wrapped his hand over Holden’s shoulder and lightly squeezed. “Will you look me?” he asked just as quietly as before.
Bran wasn’t sure what Holden’s response would be, but slowly Holden rolled around and opened his eyes to stare at Bran. For his part, Bran was taken back by the loss that swirled in Holden’s eyes.
“I don’t need to ask how you slept, do I?”
Holden just snorted in a manner that turned into a sniffle by the time he was done.
“You could try lying to me. It’s been thought that I would believe every word that came from your mouth, even if you said everything was okay when it was anything but.”
“I didn’t lie to you before and I won’t start now, sweetheart,” Holden said quietly. “I wouldn’t do anything to-” Holden cut off and turned his back to Bran again.
Bran bit back a sigh before resting his hand on Holden’s back, making small circles with his fingers. “You wouldn’t do anything to what?”
When Holden didn’t respond, Bran moved his mouth close to Holden’s ear. “You won’t do anything that causes me to leave you,” he whispered. “Yves and Jer didn’t leave because of things you did or didn’t do. You know that right?”
Holden stiffened under Bran’s touch before whispering back, “Logically, I know they had to leave. What Jer’s doing is what I would have done years ago if Alix hadn’t decided to marry me. Emotionally, I haven’t caught up yet. I just know they left and by the Ash it hurts.”
“But it would have hurt more if you had held on to us too tightly; not let us choose,” Bran said thoughtfully. “A smart man once told me that a drowning person could take their rescuer down with them because they are trying so desperately to survive. Jer, Yves and I couldn’t have lived with ourselves if we had taken you down with us. We’re taking turns being the drowning person and the rescuer. The way it should be,” Bran breathed out before leaning down to place a chaste kiss on the nape of Holden’s neck.
Holden’s body gave a shudder and Bran pressed in closer to the older man. He reached one hand around to grasp Holden’s strong hand within his own and he rested his cheek against Holden’s unshaven one. It took several minutes, but Holden’s body finally relaxed into the curve of Bran’s.
“Bran,” Holden breathed out and Bran placed another kiss to Holden’s neck as he squeezed the hand wrapped within his own.
“I’m here. I’m not going anywhere; even if you try to push me away because you think I should leave you alone like Yves and Jer did. I will just handcuff myself to you and get Alix to hide the key. Then you’ll be forced to listen to Kai go on about the mistreatment of free men since you don’t have slaves to abuse anymore.”
Bran smiled when he heard the soft chuckle escape Holden’s lips. “It would give him a purpose,” Holden said with a touch of amusement before becoming serious again. “Since freeing all of you, he’s been a been at a loss.”
“I wouldn’t call it loss, I would call it change. And since when has he been afraid of change?” Bran pressed his body closer and wrapped his leg over Holden’s outstretched ones.
“Not for a long time,” Holden responded as he tilted his head to see Bran’s eyes. “If I’m not mistaken, you are being clingy.”
Bran gave a small smile because he suddenly knew that while things were far from perfect, they were on their way to achieving normality again. It would be a different normality, but perfect all the same.
“I was thinking ‘affectionate,’ but clingy works.”
“Since we’ve covered relaxing and clinging, what does that leave us?”
“Lust,” Bran said as he sucked the lobe of Holden’s ear gently into his mouth. He released the skin with a bit of a nibble before whispering, “But are you sure that’s what you need right now, Holden?”
Holden twisted around and gently rolled Bran beneath him. Holden braced his body with one hand and reached out to stroke Bran’s cheek with the other. “I need you Bran. Just need you.”