First fill for hc_bingo round 5. \o/
Pairing/characters: Jason, Pythagoras
Disclaimer: Not mine. BBC and Urban Myth Films own them.
Word count: approx 1665
Summary: It was obvious that Pythagoras was not aware Jason had come in, because he was making no attempt to conceal any of the signs that he was in pain.
AN: Fills the hc_bingo ‘Headaches/Migraines’ square on my hurt/comfort bingo card. Yey, first fill on the new card!
AN2: Thanks to clea2011 and celeste9 for second opinions.
Cross posted to AO3
Jason knew immediately that there was something wrong. Pythagoras was sitting at the table, his scrolls and diagrams piled up around him as usual, but he wasn’t working. His eyes were scrunched shut and his fingers were pressed to his forehead. He seemed to be taking only shallow breaths.
It was obvious that Pythagoras was not aware Jason had come in, because he was making no attempt to conceal any of the signs that he was in pain.
“Are you okay?”
Pythagoras jumped and his attention snapped up to Jason immediately. Jason didn’t miss the fact that he winced at the movement.
“Yes, I’m fine. It’s nothing.”
“It doesn’t look like nothing,” Jason said, moving closer to stand on the opposite side of the table.
“It’s just a bit of a headache. It’s fine.”
Which pretty much confirmed what Jason had suspected.
“Have you tried taking one of your herbal tonics?”
“Yes. Several. They are not helping.”
From Jason’s own experience, that by itself was testament to just how bad Pythagoras’ headache must be. And okay, it wasn’t like Pythagoras’ herbal infusions could replicate the effectiveness of Paracetamol or any other 21st century painkiller, but even so they were surprisingly good, and had usually at least eased any of Jason’s aches and pains, even if they hadn’t eliminated them entirely.
“Maybe you should take a break from studying,” Jason suggested. He saw the argument already forming on his friend’s lips and quickly added, “Just for a little while.”
“I can’t. I’m close to something, I can feel it. I just need to work out what it is.”
“And you’re not going to be able to work out anything if you’re being distracted by a headache. Pythagoras, you need to take a break.”
Pythagoras shook his head and bent back over the scroll in front of him.
“Thank you for your concern, but I’m fine, Jason.”
Jason briefly fought the urge to bang his head against the wall. Or possibly bang Pythagoras’ head against the wall, although that would probably defeat the object right at that moment.
“Are you going to stand there watching me?” Pythagoras asked. “I don’t imagine it’s going to be very interesting for you. Unless you have a previously undisclosed passion for mathematics?”
His attempt at a dismissal was somewhat spoiled by another wince when he glanced up.
Jason decided enough was enough.
He walked round the table and plucked the ruler out of Pythagoras’ hand and put it down somewhere out of reach.
“Hey! What are you doing?”
“Relax,” Jason instructed.
He moved to stand behind Pythagoras, who twisted in his seat, looking annoyed.
“Turn round. Sit still. Let me help you.”
“What exactly are you intending to do?” Pythagoras repeated.
“Just trust me, okay? Turn round, close your eyes, and try to relax.”
Pythagoras studied him for another few seconds, clearly wondering what on earth Jason was doing. Then he seemed to come to a decision, nodded once, and did as Jason had asked.
Okay, here goes nothing, Jason thought.
Jason placed his hands on Pythagoras’ shoulders, and began to rub his thumbs in small circles on the back of his friend’s neck. Pythagoras’ breath caught and he abruptly tensed under his touch. For a second Jason wondered if he had read the entire situation wrongly. Then Pythagoras sighed and relaxed a little.
“You don’t have to,” Pythagoras said.
“You have a headache, yes?”
“Hmmm,” Pythagoras admitted.
Jason slowly worked his thumbs further up to the base of Pythagoras’ skull, and continued the gentle circles.
“Does this feel okay?”
“Better than okay.” Pythagoras suddenly seemed to realise what he had said, because he started to babble. “I mean, yes, but you don’t have to-”
“Stop arguing and just let me get on with it.”
Pythagoras gave a small snort of amusement.
“Says the man who stands over me and watches until every last drop of the latest tonic has gone.”
He really had as well. And it had tasted absolutely disgusting, although Jason had to admit, it did get rid of the persistent cough he had developed out of nowhere.
“It’s for your own good,” Pythagoras said, sounding amused.
“Well so is this.”
Jason applied himself to the task in earnest, gradually working his way up until both his hands were burrowed in his friend’s fluffy hair, his fingers and thumbs applying gentle pressure to his scalp in the same soothing, rhythmic circles.
Pythagoras made a small sound that might have been a whimper, but at the same time sounded entirely too contented to be any indication of distress.
“That... feels really nice, actually.”
“Is this where I get to say I told you so?”
Pythagoras huffed a small laugh, and Jason saw his shoulders slump when he finally gave in and relaxed properly.
Jason had never actually given anyone a massage before. He had received a few himself, several years ago in the aftermath of a strain injury to his shoulder, so he had a rough idea of what he was doing. That hardly made him an expert, though, and he didn’t intend to try anything too fancy or complicated in case he inadvertently made it worse for his friend.
For a little while Jason concentrated his efforts on Pythagoras’ forehead and the top of his head, since that was what Pythagoras himself had been doing when Jason walked in. Apart from the occasional soft murmur there was little response from his friend, until Jason’s thumbs began to rub the back of his skull again. Pythagoras flinched away for a second, suddenly tense again.
Jason immediately paused.
“No. It’s fine.”
“Pythagoras, talk to me,” Jason chided. “It’s obviously not fine.”
Jason wished he could see his friend’s face, if only so he could know for sure whether Pythagoras was truly comfortable with what he was doing. It wasn’t like Pythagoras to avoid physical contact, far from it, but he could be strangely reticent when it came to accepting care from others, except in the most desperate circumstances.
“The worst of the headache is right there, at the back,” Pythagoras said, his voice quiet. “It has been thumping quite persistently for some time now.”
Somehow, eliciting that small admission felt like a victory.
“Okay.” Jason considered his options. “Tell me to stop if it hurts too much.”
He resumed the massage, applying the lightest touch to that area, and working around it. He was rewarded with another of those soft sounds, and Pythagoras sighed.
“Where did you learn this?” Pythagoras asked.
“Just one of those things I’ve picked up over the years.”
If Pythagoras noticed the evasiveness of the answer, he didn’t challenge it.
Jason gradually shifted the focus of his attention down to his friend’s neck, noting as he placed his hands on Pythagoras’ shoulders just how tight the muscles still were. This would be easier if he could get Pythagoras to take his top off, but Jason suspected that would be pushing it too far. Starting at the base of his neck, Jason resumed the pressure with his thumbs, slowly working outwards along his shoulders and upper back. He repeated this a couple of times, increasing the pressure a little each time, and on the third pass Pythagoras suddenly gave a quiet moan and Jason felt his friend all but melt under his touch.
He didn’t stop yet, though. As he worked, Jason wondered if anyone had ever done anything like this for Pythagoras before. For that matter, who looked after Pythagoras when he was ill or hurt? Much as Hercules undoubtedly cared about him, Jason couldn’t see the big man being much practical use at that kind of thing.
Pythagoras, of course, was a natural healer and caregiver. He was always the one looking after his friends when they were hurt or unwell. And not just his friends, either. Sometimes it seemed like he was looking after half of Atlantis, considering the number of people who turned up on their doorstep asking for help and advice with their injuries and ailments.
Pythagoras wavered slightly and then leaned back against Jason’s chest with a soft sigh.
Jason gave his shoulders one last squeeze.
“Much. The headache is a great deal less insistent now.”
Jason tried to move, and Pythagoras, still leaning on him, almost fell off the chair. Jason grabbed him and helped him back upright.
“Sorry.” Pythagoras flushed red. “I must have been more relaxed than I thought.”
“In that case, I think it’s time you got some proper rest.”
“What? No. I’m fine now.”
Jason didn’t need to be a genius to read the subtext. “The triangles will still be there later. Right now you need a break. A real break.”
“Perhaps a few minutes,” Pythagoras acquiesced.
Jason went to get them both a drink.
Jason turned round to see Pythagoras staring into space, his brows furrowed once more, but this time there was no discomfort in his expression. As Jason watched, the look of puzzlement suddenly morphed into what could only be described as his ‘eureka’ expression, and Pythagoras bent back over his scrolls and started scribbling furiously on the first piece of parchment he could lay his hands on.
Really? Right now?
Jason shook his head and smiled as he watched. At this rate, he was going to have to repeat that massage again before too long.
In that moment Jason decided he would keep a closer eye on his friend. He would make sure that Pythagoras did have someone who would look after him, even when he was too stubborn to admit he needed looking after.
But in the meantime, someone else was going to have to think about preparing dinner.
Pythagoras glanced up. He looked more relaxed than Jason had seen him in a long time.
“Thank you, Jason.”
Before Jason could reply, his friend turned back to his work. Jason watched for another few moments, and then left Pythagoras to his beloved triangles.