Pairing/characters: Jason, Pythagoras
Spoilers: Vague for 1.1 and 1.2
Disclaimer: Not mine. BBC and Urban Myth Films own them.
Word count: approx 1129
Summary: Pythagoras reflects on how his life has changed since Jason arrived, and Jason tries to do something noble. Again.
AN: Thanks to fififolle for the beta.
AN2: My first fic in Atlantis fandom. Meep!
Also posted at AO3
“There. Good as new.” Jason tied off the strip of cloth around Pythagoras’s hand, and patted him on the shoulder.
There was something in his voice that made Jason pause and look closer.
“Are you okay?”
“This never used to happen to me, you know.”
“What didn’t?” Jason had to admit he was thrown by the non sequitur.
“This.” Pythagoras waved his uninjured hand at the bandage, and then at the scatter of bodies around them in the woodland clearing. “Until you literally dropped into my house, my life was safe and normal. Since I met you, I’ve been harassed by city guards, chased by lions, hunted by the Minotaur, taken prisoner by cultists, and now attacked by bandits.”
Jason didn’t entirely know what to say in response to that. It wasn’t as if he had done any of this on purpose, but he had to admit he had a point. Pythagoras had helped and protected him before he even knew Jason’s name, he had extended the hand of friendship to a complete stranger, offered him a home, shared his food, and all Jason had given him in return was trouble. Oh, and attempted to save him from being sent to the Minotaur, but apart from that...
He looked around at the clearing again, stalling to give himself time to think.
It should have been a simple job body-guarding a merchant’s daughter to a neighbouring town. At least they had delivered the girl safely, but the return journey had been dogged by mishaps, and now a full blown bandit attack which the three of them had barely managed to fight off. Hercules was searching the bodies of those that had been killed, but several bandits had run away when they saw how the fight was going, and Jason was worried that they might try to lay another ambush further on.
Pythagoras was staring at his bandaged hand, trying to flex his fingers, and wincing again.
Maybe he was right. Pythagoras wasn’t a fighter. He was only here with them because of his sense of loyalty, and desire to help and protect his friends. Jason had no idea why, but ever since he had arrived in Atlantis he had been a magnet for trouble, and no matter how much he tried to avoid dragging his friends into it with him, he knew Pythagoras would never stand by and let him go into danger alone. And right there was the problem, because there was only one way Jason could think of to stop Pythagoras from following him into situations that were anything but safe.
It wasn’t a conversation that he wanted to have, especially not here and now, but after everything that Pythagoras had done for him, Jason knew he owed his friend better than that.
“I’m sorry,” Jason said. “Look, if you’ll give me a few days to find something else, I can move out.”
“What?” Pythagoras stared at him with a confused expression. Jason saw the moment when he understood, and his eyes widened. “No! Jason, no. That wasn’t what I meant.”
Jason tried to ignore the way his heart leapt at those words.
“You are right, though,” Jason countered. “Most of that was because of me. If I hadn’t come to Atlantis you’d be at home safe right now.”
“Or I’d be eaten by the Minotaur.”
“Or that,” Jason allowed.
Pythagoras shook his head, and seemed to come to a decision.
“Minotaur sacrifice aside, maybe I would have been safer if you weren’t here. But do you know what? Safe is boring. Before you arrived, the most exciting thing that ever happened to me was working out the answer to a particularly difficult mathematical equation. Or getting up in the morning and being surprised by whichever woman Hercules had brought back the night before.”
Jason chuckled. That had happened to him a couple of times since he’d moved in with them. He quickly sobered when he realised the flaw in his idea. Of course Pythagoras wasn’t just going to let him leave, and he would be even more appalled if he knew Jason was doing it to protect him. But that didn’t change the fact that Jason felt he ought to do it.
“Besides,” Pythagoras smiled, interrupting Jason’s thought. “You might get me into a lot of trouble, but you also keep getting me out of trouble as well.”
Jason grinned back at him. “Well, I have to be useful for something.” He paused. “Still, you and Hercules have been very generous, I don’t want to-”
“Don’t you dare even finish that sentence!” Pythagoras glared at him.
Jason had never seen Pythagoras glare at anyone, ever, and was startled into silence.
Pythagoras’s expression softened a little, and he looked Jason in the eyes for a long moment before he spoke again.
“For once in your life, stop trying to be noble, Jason. I like having you around, and not just because you have this habit of saving my life. I want you to stay. Please.”
Jason had absolutely no argument for that. More to the point, he didn’t want to argue. He nodded, and Pythagoras seemed satisfied at that.
After another moment, Pythagoras picked up his sword and stood up. Jason got up as well, and moved to stand beside him. He couldn’t help noticing that the slightly lost look was gone from his friend’s eyes, and he was now doing his best attempt at a determined expression. Unfortunately, no matter how defiant he was, it didn’t change the fact that he was a) hurt, and b) pretty useless with a sword.
“Listen, Pythagoras, if we do get attacked again, maybe you should stay back a bit.” Jason saw the momentary flash of hurt in his friend’s face, and tried to take the edge off his suggestion. “You’re injured. And you’re the one who knows how to find the way home. You know how bad I am with geography. We need you in one piece.”
Jason knew immediately that it lacked subtlety, and it was obvious that yet again Pythagoras knew exactly what he was trying to do. Jason wondered if he was about to receive another glare, but after a moment Pythagoras gave him a grateful smile and nodded.
“Okay. But if we get outnumbered again, I’m not going let you and Hercules have all the fun.”
Jason resolved to make sure they didn’t get outnumbered again on the way home.
“I’m starting to wonder if you’re becoming an adrenaline junkie,” Jason said, more to break the slightly awkward moment than anything else.
“Thanks. I think.”
Pythagoras paused and then gave him that look again. The one that Jason was getting far too used to since he had arrived in Atlantis.