And we're off! First fill for hc_bingo round 7 \o/. Although I have to admit, of all the prompts on my card, this was *not* the one I would have predicted being the first to be filled. I currently have at least two others as wips, but this little ficlet ambushed me at the weekend and wouldn't leave me alone until I'd written it.
Title: Primal Instincts
Pairing/characters: Jason/Pythagoras (although it’s mostly implied)
Spoilers: 1.11 – Hunger Pangs
Disclaimer: Not mine. BBC and Urban Myth Films own them.
Word count: approx 957
Summary: The curse may have gone, but Pythagoras still has some important questions.
AN: Written for hc_bingo, fills the ‘First Transformation’ prompt on my h/c bingo card
AN2: Unbetad because quite frankly it’s less than 1k and has no plot. Set shortly after the events of episode 1.11 - Hunger Pangs
fic on AO3
“What I don’t understand,” Pythagoras is saying as he putters about, tidying away the breakfast things, “is why you didn’t kill me and Hercules on that first night.”
Jason snaps back attention at that comment, and tries to pretend that he has actually been listening and not just staring absently out of the window.
“I mean, we were both asleep,” Pythagoras continues while stacking freshly cleaned bowls back onto the shelf, apparently unaware of Jason’s inattention. “I don’t even have a door to my room. There was absolutely nothing stopping you from killing and eating me in my sleep once you turned into a kynikoi that first time.”
Jason momentarily closes his eyes and tries to quell the instinct reaction that comes with the memory.
“I don’t know,” Jason says slowly, because he has to say something.
Pythagoras finally stops fussing around and turns to look at Jason properly.
“Don’t you remember anything from when you were changed?”
Oh yes, Jason remembers. He’s been pretending that he doesn’t, and at first that wasn’t even really a lie, but since Pythagoras fed him the cure and everything got back to something like normal, more and more has been coming back to him.
But there are a thousand reasons why he can’t admit that to Pythagoras.
Jason just shrugs, and hopes he doesn’t look too guilty.
Pythagoras is watching him with an expression that is gradually changing from curious to worried, and Jason casts around for something to offer as an explanation. He knows from experience that once Pythagoras gets himself fixated on something like this, he will likely not stop until he comes to some sort of conclusion.
“Perhaps I didn’t attack you guys because I didn’t see you as a threat? Cursed dog me, I mean. Like you said, you were both asleep. That’s about as non-threatening as it’s possible to get.”
Pythagoras nods at that.
“That does make some sense, I suppose. Although my research had led me to believe that kynikoi would attack anything and everything they came across.”
Jason just shrugs again.
Honestly, he’s beginning to wish that Pythagoras would just leave the entire subject alone, not only because he feels terminally embarrassed about the entire situation, but now because the more he remembers, the more awkward he’s starting to feel. Unfortunately, Pythagoras leaving it alone doesn’t look likely to happen for some time yet. And okay, yeah, Jason is more than willing to acknowledge that he probably does deserve some shit, because he really ought to have known better than stealing that meat in the first place, regardless of whether it was sacred offering. But now it’s over, largely thanks to the man with the endlessly curious mind who is watching him with far too careful an expression, and Jason just wants to forget about the entire thing.
Instead, it seems the more he wants to forget, the more he remembers.
He remembers waking up lying on the floor beside the hearth as the curse began to take effect but before the first transformation. He can argue that one away as being because the hearth is the warmest part of the house, but he knows now that isn’t the only reason. The hearth also happens to be right outside Pythagoras’ bedroom; the place where his scent is strongest.
He remembers stopping and looking in at his sleeping friend that first time when he changed, deliberately checking that he was there, that he was warm and settled and asleep, before escaping into the city on the hunt for food.
He remembers Pythagoras out in the street looking for him, alone, unarmed, defenceless, and Jason knows that far from wanting to attack, his instinct reaction had been to chase him back inside where he would be safe and protected.
It’s not just Pythagoras either, although those instincts seem to be strongest towards the mathematician. Hercules, too, seems to have been included in his pack instincts, this intense territorial feeling about their home and the people within it. Perhaps, Jason wonders, that might explain why he attacked Ariadne on that last night; because no matter what his feelings about her, she was not part of their family, she did not belong here, she was invading his territory.
Pythagoras finally seems to sense his unease, and smiles at him; that soft warm smile that always gives Jason a sense of comfort, no matter what else is going on.
“Well, at least it is over now,” Pythagoras says, calm and reassuring.
He gently squeezes Jason’s shoulder before beginning to gather up the bed linen (and Jason never stops being amused that in the aftermath of nearly all their crazy adventures, Pythagoras’ favoured method of settling back down is to engage in a frenzy of housework, immersing himself in domestic normality for a few hours until all is right with his world again).
Jason is just thinking to himself that he should probably offer to help, especially after all the trouble he’s caused over the last few days, but right at that moment Pythagoras wanders past again. His arms are full of Jason’s blankets, and when Jason inhales he has to close his eyes and grip the table to stop himself being overwhelmed by the intermingled scent of Pythagoras and his own bedclothes.
This is the one thing he cannot admit, can never tell any of them. He knows that pack is not the only instinct his cursed dog-self had towards Pythagoras. There is something else, something buried so deep that Jason only recognises it now because the more simplistic instincts of the animal have made it clear.
When he thinks of Pythagoras his protective instinct is pack.
His primal instinct is mate.