Silver is attracted to Steel's brittleness and decides to make a move.
A pre-slash story.
Written: March 2012. Word count: 1,665.
Author's Note: // either side of words indicate when the characters are talking to one another telepathically.
Somewhat oddly, it was Steel's brittleness, the fact he lacked warmth and generosity of spirit, which first attracted Silver to the man who lived up perfectly to his name. And once he felt the attraction, he decided to set out to woo him - which given it was Steel he was planning to pursue the matter came with any number of problems.
First and foremost was the fact that Steel seemed to have no idea Silver was interested in him. No matter what Silver did to get his attention, no matter how much he flattered him, asked him for help, Steel just went on treating him as he always had done - which wasn't exactly gratifying or helpful to Silver's aim. Steel didn't seem to understand the day-to-day niceties; he didn't seem to have a need for them.
He was what he was. Someone who could take himself down to zero degrees; someone who could tie lift cables with his bare hands; someone who didn't need to eat or sleep; someone who treated everyone except Sapphire with more than an element of disdain. He didn't seem to care about human things, despite spending so much of his time on earth; he didn't bother with history - other than his own - he didn't seem to want to learn more about the humans he had vowed to protect from themselves.
Silver tried every trick in his book, used every weapon he had in his arsenal, to break the brittleness, but Steel avoided all of them. So Silver upped the ante and took to touching Steel whenever he could, touching him and getting in his way, forcing Steel to notice him. Not that it seemed to work, because although Steel did notice him, it was difficult not to notice someone who was sprawled against the wall in front of you or holding something you needed or brushing invisible lint from your shoulder, he didn't notice him.
Silver would have gone on playing his game until Sapphire took him to one side and told him to stop. She told him he couldn't treat Steel like one of his play-things; he couldn't seduce Steel just to be a notch on his bedpost. Steel wasn't someone you wooed and then walked away from - which was Silver's normal way of behaviour, as Sapphire knew. She had told him that unless he was really interested in Steel for Steel, not just so he could claim another scalp, then he had to walk away.
He thought about her words; he took to watching Steel rather than getting under his feet. He really looked at his fellow element, he listened to him, he saw how he did what he had to do with an efficiency that Silver marvelled at. And all the time he watched, he thought. Was Sapphire right? Was his aim just to add Steel to the long list of elements he had bedded? Or was there something more?
Steel was just about the complete opposite to Silver in every way possible, cold where Silver was warm; uncaring where Silver cared; aloof where Silver was friendly; highly intelligent and calculating where Silver was about average; disinterested in anything outside of the assignment where Silver wanted to know everything about everyone. It would never work, it could never work.
So Silver decided to stop trying, decided to stop pursuing Steel, decided to let go of his fantasy of being the one to help Steel lose his brittleness. The decision made he just went back to his normal ways until the day came when he inadvertently witnessed something he knew he shouldn't have.
He'd been sent on yet another assignment with both Sapphire and Steel and for the first time ever he'd seen both of the powerful operatives struggle to fight and conquer time's weapon. He had watched, unable to do anything to help, as Sapphire was rendered unconscious, leaving only Steel standing between the destruction of the human race and the lethal weapon of time.
As the fight, which had been both physical and mental had begun, Steel had ordered him to stay out of the way and Silver had obeyed. He saw Steel spare only a glance for his fallen partner, before closing his eyes for a moment.
When he reopened them Silver gasped to see they were no longer the colour of steel; they were the colour of ice. He watched as Steel moved towards the weapon, put his hands out and touch it, crushing and freezing it in equal measure. Silver stood, frozen in place, watching Steel destroy. He'd seen Steel's party trick more than once, but Steel had never been as he'd been then, had never just plunged his body into the depths of temperature. Silver didn't even know he was capable of doing it without some kind of heat sink.
As the weapon screamed its destruction, abusing Silver's eardrums, Silver's attention was firmly fixed on Steel. And then he remembered: Steel had no insulation and there was no way of getting Lead to him. He watched Steel invest a final spurt of strength, watched the weapon become brittle under the duel attack and finally crumble into dust.
He watched Steel sink to his hands and knees and just stay there, doubled over, his breathing shallow, as he trembled. Silver swore he could see ice beginning to form on Steel's clothing. He forced himself to move. "Steel?"
//Stay where you are.// The order hit his mind and he shivered as the words seemed as icy as the man on the floor in front of him.
//Can I do anything?// he asked.
Steel didn't even bother to reply. Instead he asked, //Sapphire?//
Silver cursed himself for forgetting his other fallen colleague and hurried over to her. She was still unconscious, but her breathing was regular, she was warm and apparently unhurt. //She's alive; I think she's okay. What about you?//
//I . . . will . . . be,// Steel managed and then fell silent.
Silver sat on the floor next to Sapphire, lightly stroking her hair and watched in stunned silence as Steel fought his way from his hands and knees, back up to his feet, unsteady, but standing, watched at the ice turned back to steel and watched the icy formation on Steel's clothing vanish.
He went on watching as Steel unsteadily managed to walk to the wall and slump against it. He winced as he heard the creak as Steel rested and his eyes widened as cracks appeared in the plaster. He watched as Steel forced himself away from the wall, watched him close his eyes again and watched as he slowly once again leant back against the wall; this time no cracks appeared. Again he closed his eyes; this time he didn't open them.
Silver didn't know how long he just sat cross-legged on the floor his eyes fixed on Steel, his hand continuing to brush over Sapphire's hair.
Finally Steel opened his eyes and to Silver's relief he appeared normal - for Steel. He blinked as his gaze fell on Silver and for an instant Silver thought he felt something touch his mind. He jumped and made a soft noise but then it had gone again and Steel shook his head.
//What you saw, cannot be known by anyone,// Steel finally said. //No one, do you understand me?// Silver just nodded as again he felt a shard touch his mind and he physically retreated as Steel started to move steadily towards him. //Do I have your word?//
Silver nodded again. Then said, "Yes," //Yes.//
Steel moved closer. //If you tell anyone I shall have no choice but to,// he paused and put his fingers to Silver's temple. Silver gasped at how cold the touch was, and gasped seconds later as Steel's fingers warmed up. He didn't hear the words 'destroy you' through the telepathic link; nor did Steel speak them. Instead Silver 'saw' them.
"Can you?" he whispered. "Could you?"
He was somewhat surprised when Steel answered him with words - Steel far preferred telepathy. "I can." He fell silent as he stared at Silver, a look in his eyes that Silver didn't understand and from the flash of puzzlement that creased Steel's forehead, he got the distinct feeling Steel didn't quite understand it either. //I would have to,// came the final answer to the second question, except to Silver it didn't really answer the question.
And then Sapphire opened her eyes and everything seemed to return to normal.
It had been that incident that had changed Silver's mind about his pursuit of Steel. He still didn't fully understand what he'd seen. He knew he'd seen Steel take himself down without assistance and bring himself back up again, again without assistance. He knew he'd seen cracks appear on the wall when Steel had slumped against it and had heard the cracks form. He knew he had seen Steel lean back against the wall without causing any more cracks to appear. He knew his mind had been touched in a way he didn't think Steel was capable, at a level he knew no element was capable. He knew when Steel had touched him his fingers had been several degrees colder than when Steel had touched him on previous occasions. He knew the temperature had increased in a split second. He believed that Steel could destroy him. But he still didn't understand it.
The only thing he was certain of was that Steel had for whatever reason chosen to trust him with whatever secret it was Steel held. And he knew the Steel he thought he knew was not the Steel he'd seen during the last moment of the assignment.
It had been Steel's trust in him that had made him change his mind and return to pursuing Steel, which was why on 1st January he had followed the tradition of many earthlings and made a resolution Steel would be his before the year had ended.
Quest For Two is the sequel to this story.
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