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Octavius had gotten some nasty burns. Stood too close to the fire when the Neanderthals finally got their hands on some, I reckon. Either way, I was nursing him back to health. Now, the tablet would’ve brought him right back to perfect health if he’d been real injured- like if he’d gotten severe injuries, or injuries that would’ve made him look off in the museum. But he didn’t. Just some nasty burns.

Well, not real nasty. Really just some heat troubles and dehydration. And his dehydration made his lips dry. So what good friend wouldn’t gently rub Vaseline into his lips when they got too dry? What good friend wouldn’t lift his water up to his lips, and watch closely? Just to make sure he was drinking enough. Not any weird reason, of course.

After all, there’s nothin’ weird about catching feelings for a close friend. Or watching said close friend affectionately while he drinks his water to make sure he gets better ASAP. Or rubbing Vaseline into said close friend’s chapped lips.

And there’s really not much worse than an injured Octavius. It felt like a piece of me was injured with him. I just felt so bad. Like I could’ve done something to prevent it. But instead of wallowing in self-pity- which I was very tempted to do- I decided to do something about it. Which lead to taking care of him, and spending so much time focused on his lips. Why couldn’t his dehydration affect a part of him that I was far less enamored with?! If feeling bad because he was injured wasn’t bad enough, I had to deal with him being so dadgum attractive while I tried to focus on his well-being instead of how good his lips would feel on mine, even if they were chapped at the minute.


I’d brought him créme brûlée Vaseline that day. I asked Gigantor to find me every fun flavor I could, and he really did deliver. I had more Vaseline than any cowboy needed for anything, really, and I was very proud of my collection.

“And where’s my payment for helpin’ you out like this?” I asked, using a Q-tip in hopes that keeping my fingers off his face would make me feel less overcome with Octavius pox. (Surprise! It didn’t. I still had to deal with those eyes of his, and the intimacy of how much he trusted me.)

“What payment do you require?” He asked, eyes moving to meet mine.

“I dunno. Any kind, I suppose.”

“Hmmm. I can’t really think of anything that would really show my gratitude towards you. Let me know if you think of something, though. I’d be more than happy to provide you with it.”

“Maybe a kiss,” I joked. (Well, I half-joked.)

He sat up, adjusting in his bed, but I still wasn’t sure what he was gonna do.

At least, not until he grabbed my face and kissed me, nice and hard.

I was so stunned that for a good- a very good- few seconds, I didn’t do anything.

Of course, I got over that, my excitement certainly showing as I moved to cupping his face and kiss back.

“Wow,” I muttered, still dazed even after he pulled away.

“Does that suffice?” He asked.

“Mhm,” I said, licking my lips and tasting the créme brûlée on them.

And it tasted like victory.