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04 March 2013 @ 04:13 pm
Ran to the Devil (Tortall, Canon, PG-13)  
Title: Ran to the Devil
Rating: PG-13
Characters/Pairing: Thom/Delia, Thom/Roger
Summary: Thom's downfall was that he was always willing to listen to the voices that told him what he wanted to hear.
A/N: This was written for Fief Goldenlake's Malorie Peak's Prompt 'crossroads'. I went with the symbolic meaning of crossroads you can find in many cultures where it is a place where deals witht eh Devil can be made. The italisized breaks are lyrics from the song Sinnerman.

Oh, Sinnerman, where you gonna run to?

He tossed another tome down on the growing pile, frustrated enough that he didn’t care if he damaged to precious book on loan to him from the University’s library. None of them held the spells he was searching for, not one even came close. He wasn’t sure why he had thought there would be something for him in Corus that he couldn’t find in a center of magical learning like the City of the Gods... Perhaps he should go to Carthak, spend time in the university there –


(you belong in the palace)

but, no. He wanted to stay in Corus. There were so many amusements here; and his sister, of course... whenever she returned from her travels south. Thom shook his head, the beginnings of a sharp headache growing behind his eyes again. He had been getting them a lot, recently. And some of his hours and thoughts seemed to go... sideways. Foggy. It was worrying. He’d go to Alanna, if she was in Corus, but perhaps... perhaps he should go to a healer –

(there is nothing wrong with you)

(don’t be weak)

(there is still so much to do)

Yes, yes of course, there is still much for him to do. So many projects hovering at the tips of his fingers, almost in reach for him to grasp. Then those fools at the City would see. Then his name would mean something.

They wouldn’t doubt his intelligence, his power then.

Let them see an ‘average student’ then.

But which project should he undertake? It had to be something so great, not one of his sceptics and disbelievers would dare doubt him.

A smooth hand ran up his back. He turned and smiled at Delia, covered only in the thin blanket he had left her covered with.

“Are you going to come back to bed?” she said, her hand gliding over his shoulder and onto his chest. “I woke up alone, cold... you could fix that, Thom.”

He smiled distantly, without looking at her. Distractions. He didn’t want distractions, now. He wanted his next project.

“I told you I saved some of Duke Roger’s scrolls and things, didn’t I?” Delia responded, and Thom nearly jumped. He hadn’t realized he’d spoken aloud.

“Yes but... he was a traitor,” he argued, weakly. “I don’t want to follow in any man’s footsteps, Delia,” he said, his true reasoning plain. He did not share his sister’s love for King or country.

“But there are magics even Roger never tried,” she whispered, her breath and her lips against his ear. Distractions. “You could be the greatest mage of your age.”


“Where are they?”

Delia’s fingertips dug into his shoulders painfully, just for a moment, as if in victory.

So, I ran to the devil

He cleared his throat, cleared it again, trying to get rid of some of the moisture gathering in his lungs. He felt so weak, now. Too weak to draw a full breath, even, and that left him gasping at the slightest endeavors. It was worrying. When had he gotten so weak?

(it’s nothing)

“Don’t worry, so, Thom.” Roger’s voice was smooth in the darkness, whispering up the back of Thom’s neck like a caress, or a warning of danger. Thom looked back over his shoulder but even seeking the other man out of the shadows, Thom couldn’t find him. Thom had been sitting looking in the light too long, and, besides... Roger seemed at home in the darkness, and could hide there most effectively.

“How did you know I was worrying?” Thom asked, smiling as Roger’s laughed in response.

“As if I don’t know that body well enough to see tension,” he replied, suddenly much closer – sudden enough that Thom startled at the sound of Roger’s voice beside his ear, and at the cold hands that pressed down his neck and back.

“You should leave that work for now, you’re exhausted.

(leave that now)

“Come to bed; you have plenty of time for your next great project.”

(your greatest project is already complete, isn’t it?)

Thom stood without argument, and Roger blew out the lamp. Hands guided him through his room, the darkness and the buzzing in his head making it a stranger. He wanted to do more work. He wanted...


He was laid back on the bed. Roger’s hands trailed along his ribs, and up under his shirt, and his protestations were more easily forgotten than held onto.

There was always time tomorrow, he thought, his breath hitching as Roger’s lips brushed his neck.

(of course. tomorrow will come)

(for some)

He was waiting.

It was too late.

Thom could feel the last of his strength leaving him, knew that he had brought this on himself. He had thought he was winning something, finding the means to bring Duke Roger back from the dead, but he had walked right into the man’s trap.

So used to being the smartest in the room, he hadn’t even considered.... but how do you fight against a mastermind from beyond the grave? How do you fight a voice whispering in your head?

I should have, Thom thought, but he whispered what I wanted to hear. That was always the danger of him.

Roger had long stopped that. Thom had done everything he was meant to, in Roger’s plan, his game. He was a piece used up, and now he was being discarded. Thom was too weak to cough, could feel his fever burning truly out of control, now. It was the very end of him, he knew this.

They’ll remember me, won’t they?

He was too weak to laugh or cry, so he didn’t have to find out which one he would have chosen as he waited for his sister to find him.