He’d staggered into the shop looking like hell—jersey spattered in sweet scented remains of the Burnt and his own iron smelling blood. He throws a handful of credits onto the counter and pushes past Zacharie without saying anything other than:
“I’m staying here tonight.”
They’d done this a few times before. Zacharie protested in the beginning but upwards of five thousand credits the first time stopped him from complaining quickly. It was money to keep his mouth shut about the sporadic company he’d keep the purifier on his quest through the zones.
Despite that, he actually did appreciate the other’s stays.
It was better than nothing. Something to hold onto and care for, even if the Batter had as much emotion as a brick wall.
He follows the ailing Batter into the little back room of his shop in the mall and tries to help ease him into a makeshift bed of palates and stolen cushions. The flimsy wood creaks in tandem with a quiet groan from the Batter. He wasn’t one to vocalize his pain.
“You’re cutting it too close... you have to be careful...” Zacharie starts, chiding his companion as he tries to clean his countless wounds. Delicate hands meet the Batter’s cheek where he’s been slashed open by what must’ve been a burnt with exceptional aim. He doesn’t flinch—just simply frowns.
“No. I just want to sleep.”
“You’re hurt, love...”
“I told you not to call me that.”
There’s a stiff silence between the two for a moment, broken by labored breathing from the Batter as he tries to maintain his usual stoic gaze through the exhaustion.
“You can rest. I’ll be here.”
The poor creature slumps back and falls asleep instantly, losing his stern expression to unconsciousness.
Zacharie sighs and moves to take the bloodied cap from his head, bringing a hand to the thick blonde hair beneath. It was one of the few soft features of the Batter’s. No wonder he kept it covered. Zacharie let his hand linger for a few moments before moving on.
Next, his sweaty jersey is carefully unbuttoned.
“Oh, amigo..” It’s almost hard for Zacharie to look at the rainbow of bruises and streaks of blood (old and new) across the pale torso of the Batter. The skin there used to be smooth, soft... now it’s scarred and mangled. He’d started keeping more luck tickets on hand after he’d seen how the Batter threw himself into battle.
Every now and then, as Zacharie pressed a ticket against him to heal his damaged body, the Batter tensed up and summoned his add-ons unconsciously. They’d glow for a moment, illuminating the man in unnatural white light —a deadly halo—then return to their inactive state, sensing no danger from Zacharie.
After everything is done, Zacharie lifts the mask from his face, sighing a breath of relief that the Batter would be okay.
It was times like this, when he was completely asleep, that Zacharie could be affectionate without either being absurdly embarrassed or given a very cold shoulder.
A quick kiss to the cheek (the Batter mumbled in his sleep at this), and a hesitant hand to the soft blonde hair of the other was all Zacharie did before tucking himself in beside the deeply sleeping purifier. At the feeling of warm hands wrapped around his body, The Batter uttered a soft, contented sigh. Moments of emotion like this were rare with him. Zacharie could see he was chipping away at whatever strongly built emotional facade had been put up.. he was just unsure of why it was there in the first place.
“... Rest, my love.”
He curls closer against the warm body, now practically spooning the other in a desperate attempt to somehow keep him there forever—safe from harm from the specters, the burnt, and the pointless quest of purification.
The Batter goes completely limp after taking a deep, peaceful breath, and Zacharie is finally able to close his eyes.
He’s vaguely aware of a warm body near him, but the Batter’s exhaustion kept him from doing anything about it.
Quiet, loving reassurances meet his ears, but he can’t make out what they mean.
The brush of rough lips tickles his face and the last frayed shreds of his sound mind fade into the impure realm of sleep and pleasure.
He can feel Zacharie’s body next to him after a moment of quiet, an arm snaking across his unbuttoned jersey, pads of worn fingers drifting against his exposed belly.
It stirred a faint warmth in his body to have someone this close—nose against the nape of his neck and quiet, hot breaths making his hair stand on end. Was this possession? But he’d only seen the burnt cry out in pain... This was gentle and tender. If Zacharie had wanted to kill him, he would’ve done so much sooner. No danger of that.
“Rest, my love.”
The hushed words echo through the Batter’s exhausted mind as he lets his body relax into Zacharie’s arms.
He can’t help but sigh peacefully at the feeling of safety—and for once—he feels somewhat at home in the strange world.