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Shovel Talk

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Thorne and Cress were finally a couple (which he can’t even brag about properly because every time he thinks about it his face does this sappy grin thing and Cinder won’t stop smirking), and everyone has given Thorne a short version of the shovel talk--glares, significant glances, vague threats, the works.

Everyone except Wolf, which is not comforting in the slightest, because Thorne has noticed that those two have become certified BFFs (the friendship bracelets were hard to miss). It’s not like Thorne was planning on doing anything to jeopardize the best thing that’s ever happened to him, and it’s not like he has a habit of accidentally being unfaithful (he never has, it’s always been because of some money-making scheme or another, and now he’s working for the suddenly-not-evil Lunar royal family in a legit, above-the-board position, so he doesn’t need the money--plus, you know, Cress), but this is Wolf. Wolf is usually sane and stable these days but he’s competent at violence and violently protective of everyone in his “pack,” which includes Scarlet and Cress and definitely not a certain reformed playboy pilot.

So after all the reminders of the exact location of his sleeping quarters from everyone else from the Rampion Days Wonder Team (trademark pending, they could us the profits from the action figures to keep the taxes down, Cinder!), Thorne was stuck waiting for the inevitable ambush-by-supersoldier. He’s expecting to wake up to the sound of Wolf sharpening knives, lounging in front of his door wearing combat boots and fatigues and no shirt with all his ridiculous muscles and scars on display. Which is stupid really, Wolf doesn’t even use knives in a fight (though he probably knows how), so maybe it’ll be the sound of him sharpening his fangs? Do his fangs need sharpening? Does he floss with razor wire? Would that make enough noise to wake him up? No wait--he’ll probably be opening a can of tomatoes with his teeth, slowly. And then Wolf will just eat the entire can, because he could, with the tomato juice dripping everywhere as he backs out of the room menacingly, all without breaking eye contact. Thorne wasn’t quite certain how one can walk backwards menacingly, but he has faith that Wolf will find a way.

Except it doesn’t happen. For weeks.

And it’s driving Thorne insane.

He starts getting jumpy, which makes Cress worry, which makes something in Thorne’s gut go sideways, but he doesn’t think he should tell her. Cress probably has no idea about the amount of violence the others are willing to unleash on her behalf. Maybe he should tell her, so that when he inevitably pisses her off (he’s Thorne, he does that to everyone, there are lovers’ quarrels in his future and he doesn’t know what he’ll do yet but he’s already planning on how to grovel for her forgiveness because she is worth grovelling for dammit) she doesn’t accidentally set off some kind of murderlanche. On the other hand, everyone has enough control of their tempers to wait for her say-so to actually murder him, and they’d coordinate their efforts so they don’t accidentally murder him.

Except, on both counts, for Wolf. Who still hasn’t done the courtesy of threatening Thorne yet.

(Possible over-retribution aside, he decides to not tell Cress about the threats, because frankly if he screws things up with this adorable genius who knows all his dirty secrets but somehow doesn’t think he’s scum he won’t want anyone’s mercy.)

It would be nice to know that Wolf isn’t planning on just killing him for even thinking he’s good enough for Cress without waiting for an actual screw-up. Thorne knows he’s not, but he can’t tell Wolf that he agrees with him until he threatens his life and/ or reproductive capabilities. That is how these exchanges work, dammit. Maybe he never picked that up in the how-to-murder-Earthens-like-a-rabid-animal cult he was raised in? He could ask Scarlet to give him an etiquette lesson about it. On the plus side, it’s the sort of etiquette he might actually enjoy learning.

Thorne is busy mentally putting together a list of down sides to that--mostly about the chaos he’d unleash by telling Wolf he’s allowed to threaten people sometimes instead of simply cutting him off cold turkey--when the door to his too-fancy Lunar palace suite opens unexpectedly, making him jump about five feet in the air.

“You’re jumpy,” said Wolf, shutting the door behind him.

“Sorry, I jump when I’m having a heart attack!” Thorne snapped, hand over his pounding heart. Maybe this was how Wolf was going to kill him--slowly, one heart attack at a time.

Wolf narrowed his eyes and stalked up to him, with his usual combination of threatening and non-threatening body language--looming but with his hands in his pockets, ducking his head away while scowling.

“You’re jumpy in general, lately,” Wolf said again. “Especially around me. Why?”

"Uh,” said Thorne. It was obvious that Wolf had approached him with a purpose, and that purpose was not to threaten his life like he’d been waiting for. Maybe he was waiting for an opening? “Well, you--you haven’t threatened me. So.”

They stared at each other for a long moment.

“You’re jumpy because I haven’t threatened you.” said Wolf flatly.

“Well, yeah,” Thorne said reasonably. “Are you... do you want to do that now?”

“What part of our relationship makes you want me to threaten you?”

“It’s not our relationship, it’s Cress!”

“... Why would Cress make me want to threaten you?”

Thorne gaped at him. He didn’t think this would be an issue, considering Scarlet, but he wouldn’t have learned about this in his science-powered wolf pack either, so maybe... “Do you not know...? I’m dating Cress. Her and me. Or, courting? Is it courting? We live in a castle on the moon, maybe we should call it courting. Cress would like that. I think.”

Wolf was looking at him like he was having trouble spotting his sanity. He held up his wrist and pointed to the bracelet he wore there, that matched the one Cress wore. (Cress had made them out of some piece of hardware that had exploded in the middle of a hack that Wolf protected her from--his was made of red wire, and hers blue, both slightly singed). “I talk to her. I know. Who do you think suggested that she stop overthinking everything and just pounce you?”

At this rate Thorne was going to dislocate his jaw. “You... wha?”

Now Wolf was glaring at him. “She liked you, she couldn’t tell if you liked her back, so I told her to find out. Why would any of that make me want to threaten you? It’s not like you were being cagey to be mean.” His face scrunched up in a thoughtful frown. “You know Scarlet’s my alpha, right? From before I even met Cress?”

Thorne held up his hands. He wasn’t quite sure if the whole “alpha” thing Wolf and Scarlet had going on was sweet or kinky--probably both--but he really, really didn’t want Wolf to think he was doubting his commitment. “No--I--yeah, I know! It’s just, everyone else has threatened me since we started dating. Courting! So, uh, I’ve been wondering when you were going to... do... that.”

Realization dawned. "What, like... ‘be good to her or I’ll kill you’?”

He should probably not feel as relieved as he did by that. “Yes! That!”

Wolf looked more baffled then ever. “Why would I bother?”

“Be...cause...?” Thorne gestured vaguely to Wolf’s bracelet.

“Thorne,” Wolf said seriously, laying a hand on his shoulder. “We’re talking about the woman that infiltrated and manipulated the security systems of every single Earthen government since she was nine years old. She made the entire planet believe that Lunar ships had some kind of magic invisibility spell on them. She smuggled and distributed an army of born and bred killers across the globe. She helped kidnap an emperor from his own palace when security was at its tightest. If you ever manage to hurt her enough to make her want revenge, not only will she not need any help, she won’t leave any evidence.”

Thorne stared at him. He should probably not be turned on by the idea that his five-foot-nothing girlfriend could wreck nations, never mind his miserable life, with a few lines of code--especially not while standing in front of Wolf, who could probably smell it.

He should probably say something.


Captain Carswell Thorne was nothing if not eloquent.

Wolf grinned. Even with his very pointy teeth (probably not flossed with razor wire because Scarlet wouldn’t appreciate anything that sharp being involved when they shut up Carswell) it was a friendly grin. “I don’t think you need to worry about it anyway. Cress is too smart to go for the kind of guy who’d hurt her like that.”

Wolf clapped him on the shoulder and headed for the door.

“But why would you think I’m not?” Thorne blurted. He winced at his tone--he sounded like a lost little kid.

Wolf looked over his shoulder at him and smiled kindly. “You’ll probably annoy her, but you’ll never hurt her. She’s your alpha star.”