“How are you feeling?”
Ava groans. It’s early in the afternoon, after a riveting morning of translations and watching Camila accumulate a stack of books double her weight when Beatrice goes to check on Ava. Keeping her physical limits in mind during demon-excising missions was very much a work in progress, and consistent with past encounters, Ava was bedridden.
She rests her back against the wall behind her and looks at Beatrice. “Not well.”
Beatrice smiles sympathetically.
“Everything hurts,” Ava admits.
“You seemed a lot tougher earlier.” Beatrice comments with a tilt of her head.
“Yeah,” Ava looks at her, all effort of a tough exterior gone. “But now it’s just you.”
“It’s just me.” Beatrice agrees with a smile, appreciative of the honesty Ava is showing now.
Beatrice moves to stand by Ava’s bed, unsure of what to do and unsure of what Ava needed.
“Can I help?” Her voice is quiet. Ava’s expression of discomfort is killing her.
“Do you want to watch TV with me?”
“Sure.” She moves to get Ava’s desk chair when she hears Ava’s voice behind her.
“No, uh,” Ava says, slightly awkwardly, “Can you just sit next to me?”
Beatrice’s tone is confused, “That’s what I’m doing.”
“No, I mean, there’s enough room here.” Ava makes a show of scooching over a bit over on the bed.
Beatrice just says, “Oh.”
Ava is dangerously close to the end.
“Not that I’m saying no,” And she really isn’t, “But I’m not sure there’s enough room for you to be comfortable, Ava.”
Ava considers this for a moment and how she’s hanging off the end of the bed to make room. She scoots back to the middle and Beatrice finds herself feeling a little sad until Ava’s face brightens and she pushes herself forward, with a clearly pained look on her face.
“Sit behind me then.”
Beatrice doesn’t have the heart to say no and neither does she want to. She carefully nudges her way behind Ava, her flexibility helping her get her legs around, and somehow gets them under the blue blanket Ava is snuggled under, and, after some readjusting, she stills, and Ava gratefully plops back against Beatrice’s chest with a sigh.
“I knew your ninja skills would come in handy.”
Beatrice laughs lightly into Ava’s hair. “All the times I’ve saved you in a fight don’t count?”
“Nope,” Ava pops, “They didn’t. This is much more useful.”
There’s something here, Beatrice notes, that familiar feeling of Ava wanting just her and not what Beatrice can do.
“Plus, you’re a pretty good chair.” Ava continues and Beatrice laughs again (and she has a suspicion that Ava only said that for that singular purpose).
“Again, out of all of my skills, that’s the one you pick up on?”
“So, you admit it.”
Beatrice exhales an airy chuckle.
“I’m glad I can make you more comfortable.”
“You do,” Ava’s tone has lost all sense of joking. It’s soft and sincere. She settles down further against Beatrice, relaxing fully, and then sounds almost a bit sleepy, “You really do.”
Beatrice feels warm and wanted. She tips her chin forward to rest on Ava’s head for a second in a gesture of gratitude and her hands come around Ava’s waist like a very loose seatbelt.
“What do you want to watch?” Beatrice has a feeling that Ava will be out very soon but doesn’t seem too tired herself, so she might as well try to get Ava to put on something more interesting than the reality TV show about houses that seems to be on right now.
Ava puts something on and it’s an artsy film that she suspects is more for Beatrice. She half-heartedly starts to catch the tendrils of a plot, turning the volume down as she starts to feel Ava sag down against her, getting drowsy. The halo recharging, at this point in Ava’s training, was a slow and tiring affair, and the halls were quieter for it.
In no less than ten minutes, Ava’s half-asleep. She turns into Beatrice’s shoulder slightly and slides an arm around the side of Beatrice’s other shoulder around her stomach, digging into the pillows behind her.
Five minutes later, Ava has turned into her more and lowered her head down Beatrice’s neck trying to get comfortable. She brings the handout from behind Beatrice to ring around her neck instead, and Beatrice lifts her head slightly forward when she realizes what Ava’s doing. Ava’s upper forearm applies downwards pressure on her shoulder enough that Beatrice gather’s Ava is awake enough to respond.
Ava just tugs down again.
“Do you want me to leave so you can go to sleep?”
Ava stiffens and she presses herself again Beatrice as if to prevent her from leaving.
“Okay, okay,” Beatrice laughs lightly and quietly, “I’m not leaving.”
“Move down.” Ava’s voice is muffled against her shoulder and she sounds very sleepy.
Ava presses down on her shoulders again, moving a leg to tangle with hers as if she’s still convinced Beatrice will ninja away.
“I’m tired, don’t leave, move down.” Ava’s explanation is choppy.
Beatrice stills for a second considering this request and a couple of quick mental calculations for how to get to this new arrangement bothering Ava the least. She shuts the television off quickly, gathers Ava against her, and moves them both down, sliding with a bit more effort considering Ava is quite solid against her, reaching behind her to flatten the pillow that was propped behind her. Ava isn’t really helpful, just clinging to Beatrice, head still buried in the crook of her neck, but she does move the minimum amount necessary. Beatrice smiles at her groans when she realizes she has to do the heavy lifting to make this work out for them. In a dramatic, and Beatrice’s opinion, unnecessarily dramatic, move, Ava slides down and Beatrice moves in tandem because it doesn’t seem like she’s going to relinquish her human pillow anytime soon.
Ava fidgets about for a second getting comfortable and there’s a moment of silence where Beatrice thinks she’s finally adjusted when she pulls the blanket over her to head to tuck herself in. Beatrice blinks down at the mound of blanket that’s now replaced the Halo Bearer. She pulls the blanket from Ava’s grasp and she slides down too, ignoring Ava's puff of air at being unsettled from her spot tucked again her neck.
"Ava, what are you doing?" Beatrice whispers because the air around them is soft and special somehow. Their faces are inches apart and Ava’s eyes are closed.
"I'm hiding from the world. Under this blanket."
"Okay." Beatrice knows the feeling.
She puts her foreheads together and sighs in comfort.
Ava looks at her with a confused expression and whispers, “What are you doing?”
"You didn't seem to be giving out invitations. I said I'd never leave you. And I want to hide from the world too."
"But with me." Ava looks at her with an expression that’s both tender and ‘gotcha’.
Beatrice gives her a half-hearted glare and then laughs. Ava hears music somehow.
"Well, you've got a pretty good hiding place."
Ava takes the chance to burrow back in against her sternum and her voice is muffled. "I've got a better one."
Beatrice's heart melts and she resigns herself to realizing Ava's more so hiding from the world in Beatrice's neck than just under the blanket. She flattens slightly back so Ava has more room to get comfortable and tangles their ankles together.
"For making me a bunker out of you."
"Oh. Yes. I'm very skilled, I told you earlier. Chairs, bunkers..." Beatrice runs her hand through Ava's hair and she turns her cheek into her hand.
She holds it lazily, sliding it over to fit along her jaw and under her ear, and Beatrice, catching the hint, scratches gently against her hairline and then rests it there. Ava's forearm goes around her lower stomach and Beatrice is impressed by her hiding skills and smoothness as she hides again in her chest even more. She considers making a comment about Ava's training and stealth. Instead, she settles for a smile at the way Ava really has managed to hide from the world in her neck and hopes, despite the muscle pains and aches, she can get some rest during the lazy afternoon.