[identity profile] halfaustere.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] thedirtyverse
[Last week of April, 1959.]

"Well," Michael said, leaning backward in his chair, "at least it's almost a holiday."

"Holiday weekend." Sully, for his part, was grim about the entire idea. It was only a weekend and then they'd be back on the grind again. "We only get a single Monday off. It being nice weather doesn't help either so don't try it!"

They were sitting in New Hunt's House Library, trying to finish a multitude of projects. Mikey didn't really belong in New Hunt's, seeing as how he wasn't studying medicine, but that didn't stop him from being there anyway. His friends were there. They were glad to see him.

"At least we aren't staying here," Robert offered, as what might've been minor consolation.

"We aren't?"

"No, I think we'll spend the weekend in the castle." Robert's grin turned somewhat cocky. Proud. Maybe even daring.

"The castle –" Sully spluttered, nearly overturning his water. "There'll be a thousand strong bloody people there! May Day parades and whatnot and how are we supposed to drive that far and back in a weekend?"

"We could take a helicopter," joked Michael.

"Exactly!" said Robert brightly. "Mikey's got it."

"Oh, you're joking," Sully muttered, knowing they weren't. And somewhat delighted at the prospect. A helicopter! The castle! Not that he knew why he was delighted or what he'd do, really.

Though those walkways on top of the outer walls really were interesting ...

***

Gathering at the castle had been an excellent idea.

Everyone had loved the helicopters, and Whitaker had even thrown a penny out the window. Dawn had accused him of potentially killing someone, and Michael had replied that if they heard about someone dying from mysterious aerial impact they'd have to turn him in. He then accused the pharmacy school of a schism, and Whit pointed out he wasn't in it any longer.

"Aren't you?"

"No! Microbiology."

"Oh, those are so different."

Right around then Sully'd lit a joint, and everyone threw a tiny fit. In the air! But the pilot thought it was funny, and they'd landed safely, anyway. Landed, settled in. Started a party. Whit and Sully and a couple of their other friends had ben flirting with some of the staff.

Colin – the Duke, Dawn's father – thankfully wasn't there. Jacqueline was in hospital again. The castle was a political bastion but he didn't keep his family there regardless, which is why Dawn had grown up either in Morpeth or Surrey. The Duke wasn't there which technically put Dawn in charge of everything, as the only child – Dawn, expectedly by exactly no one except herself and him, handed all of the charge over to Robert.

Netiher Robert nor Dawn oversaw all that much. Their friends chose rooms, all in the same corridor. They had fun.

The midnight before May Day was the maddest of all.

Everyone – that is to say, Robert, Dawn, Michael, Sully, Whitaker, the three other young men and the two girls they'd brought with them, as well as some of the staff – were either drunk or high or both. Even Robert and Dawn were completely wasted, and normally both of them kept some degree of control.

Normally.

Somehow, this night was special.

Robert had abandoned all of his two-hundred-some years of life to act like the twenty-one year old he was pretending to be. Dawn let her hair down, literally. It was the tiny, elite party on a nationally recognized historical site of the century. Nobody gave any thought to studying, despite the approaching finals. Nobody gave any thought to much of anything, and, well, maybe that was a problem.

They didn't give much of a thought to it when Dawn, nestled in Mikey's arms, said,

"We should have a fencing match."

"What?" It was Sully who laughed at her; Sully who, like most of the others there, had barely ever fenced. "You mean you and Robert?"

"No, not me, I want to watch – Mike fences!"

"Do you!" Sully was impressed.

"Uh. Yeah," Mikey said with a shrug. "A bit, I did at school –"

"Fantastic!" Robert, certainly, had been paying attention. He put down his joint, put it out, ignored the fact he wasn't entirely sober. Or anywhere near sober. Thought this idea was the best thing they'd thought of in a long time. He meant to applaud Dawn for it as soon as he could. Once he'd lost. He'd probably lose –

Michael was thinking the same thing.

About losing.

Especially as none of these swords were his.

But, shockingly, he didn't – Robert was too high on life and love (in the platonic sense, anyway, as to everyone's mocking on multiple occasions even in that one single day, he wasn't much for any other kind) and the occasion to be as concentrated, as well as just being high in general (Mikey was less so) and being afraid of breaking things. Mostly people, as they'd chosen to fence on the fortress' outer wall.

It was ten feet off the ground.

Someone could fall. Robert could have fallen, as he danced along the sides of the walls with his signature moves, and then his wings would have come out, and so he didn't. His passe arriere was left unused, his ballestra lunge lost to Michael's flèche.

Everyone was watching. Applauding. Laughing. And as Robert and Michael bowed to each other, Sully did something unexpected. Something that, later, everyone might understand. Something that, sooner than much later, everyone might be laughing at. No matter the pain it caused.

Actually swaying from how drunk he was – because Sully held his Mary Jane spectacularly well, but that said nothing about alcohol – he stood, and said, "Sir Leakey, I will challenge you for your lady."

Dawn chirped in delight. She thought it was a joke – then again, everyone did – and thought it brilliant, as well. She said as much. Mikey, unthinking about the fact that Sully, well, couldn't fence, gave in.

Back up on the wall. Everyone else back on the field.

The hilarity started turning into the slghtly grim slowly, at least. Sully had only ever seen Robert and Dawn fence. Sully didn't know how to fence. They all knew this. Why, Robert started to wonder with a sick feeling, had they actually agreed to this? He was going to –

And then he did.

He'd been copying Robert's moves, after all.

They should've all seen it coming, and nobody had thought of it, and nobody had mentioned it, and then Sully had fallen backward, if thankfully not head first, off the wall and back into the courtyard. Quite a few of them were medical students, but no one was with it enough to do much. They crowded around him in a panic.

At least he wasn't bleeding externally.

At least he was speaking, if brokenly, catching the wind that had been knocked out of him when he landed on his back.

***

When they were loading him into the ambulance, Sully, face down on the stretcher, turned his head to the side to look at Michael and said, "Well, I guess you win."

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