Bacon Sandwiches In Oxford
by Gunbunny

Oxford, mid-January. There was some snow a few days ago, but it's since degenerated into grey slush with the passage of feet and pollution.

Bran kicks at a bit of it. "The lack of cold is made up for by a distinct rise in pollution and dreariness, Old One."

Will protests. "Oxford? Dreary? Bran, look at the architecture! Bracknell's dreary, not Oxford."

Bran casts a jaded eye over it. "It's all grey stone and bicycles." He makes a face as he side-steps a mush made of sodden newspapers. "Not to mention the rubbish."

"Complain, complain, complain." Will replies. "Besides, you're from Wales. Thought grey stone was second nature to the towns there."

"Different, that is."

"Entirely." Will replies, grin tugging at the corner of his mouth. "Besides, Oxford's a world-renowned centre of learning."

"My other point. What're you doing at university? Useless when you know everything you need. You know more about life, the universe and everything than the rest of them put together."

"Not everything, Bran. I couldn't do the job of a scientist unless I trained for it."

"Pah. Semantics. And languages. You chose to study languages. You, who can speak every language under the sun that's ever been spoken by man, Old One. And probably some by Neanderthals."

"Bran, I've told you, people from Essex are human beings too."

Bran snorts. "I'll believe that when I see it. And you still haven't answered my question."

"It's interesting."

"Hmph. And how is the Drew boy?"

"Still studying medicine." Simon Drew says, looming up behind them. "See you haven't gotten rid of your fetish for Welsh boys, Stanton."

"It's a curse I have to bear." Will sighs.

Bran pulls down his sunglasses to peer at Simon. "Presume you're indulging in disgusting medical student behaviour."

"Of course. It's expected of me." His hand comes up, jerking over his shoulder. "There's a decent café over there if you feel like lunch."

"You offering to pay?" Bran asks.

"No." Simon grins. "I'm saving that for when I start earning real money."

"Damn. Coming, Will?" Bran asks. Will's stomach growls in response.

Simon laughs. "There's your answer."

In the café, Bran stirs his tea idly. "So what does Will get up to while I'm not here?"

Simon shrugs. "Made a name for himself in the languages department. Honestly, I don't know why he even bothers with the degree. Suppose he's trying to emulate Gumerry. You always did idolise him, didn't you?"

"Not all that much of one." Will protests. "Besides, Professor Merriman was in the archaeology department."

"That's not stopping you from getting hijacked by the anthropologists on a regular basis. They're looking to adopt you, Stanton. The languages lot are getting tetchy."

Bran frowns. "Adopt him? But why would anyone want a dreamer like him?"

"You've never seen him in full academic and cultural flow, I presume. And you're one to talk."

"I'm only shagging him. Completely different matter."

"Completely." Simon says.

Will tucks into his bacon sandwich when the waitress brings it over. Bran's leaning back and sipping his tea, having added far too much sugar to it. "How's the family? Barney still a brat?"

"Unfortunately, yes. But an immensely talented brat. That kind of thing is what gets altars set up to you in art school. He's got his second exhibition at the end of this year."

"If he's getting shows, what's he doing in art school? Thought that was the point of art school, getting you ready for that kind of thing."

"Talk to the artists. There's nothing they love more than continuous lessons, for some reason." Simon says, sipping his tea.

An hour slips by with more cups of tea, and another bacon sandwich for Will.

Bran glances at it, then says pointedly "Try not to do such a good impression of a gannet this time, boyo."

"Didn't." Will protests, reaching for it.

"Yes you did. You're not supposed to inhale it, you're supposed to chew it and savour the flavour."

"I did savour the last one!" Will complains, prior to taking a bite from it.

"Speaking as the voice of authority on these matters, Stanton, chew that mouthful at least four times or you'll end up choking on it, and neither of us want to attempt the Heimlich in here." Simon says.

"Mmph-grn-thmph." Is the only reply from Will.

"Don't speak with your mouth full." Bran scolds.

After the bacon sandwich's finished, Simon glances at his watch. "Bugger. Got a lecture to go to. I'll have to see you two."

"Anything interesting?" Will enquires.

"I believe we're talking about the liver today."

"Ah, a subject any student is well-versed in the abuse of." Will smirks.

"Helping to add the decoration of American exchange students to the gutter every fresher's week." Simon gestures for the bill, and pulls his wallet out. "I think mine was a quid or so." He glares at Will. "And don't whinge about being broke again."

"Hoi, not all of us have well-off parents we can go begging to."

Bran groans. "Speaking as one of the gainfully employed rather than a bloody student, if this turns into a gripe about bills, I'm going to put my fingers in my ears and sing. Loudly."

"Just so long as you do it near the rugby ground when it's grudge match time. Using the appropriate song, of course." Simon says mildly.

Bran smiles sweetly. "Don't worry, I'll only use it in support of whichever team is playing against yours."

"Your consistency is appreciated." Simon says, studying the bill that he's handed and putting a pound fifty on the plate, then getting up and shoving his hands in his pockets. "See you around, ey?"

"Think we'll be in the pub later, if you're around." Will replies. "Say goodbye to the nice medical student, Bran."

"See you around, boyo." Bran says, turning to Will. "Bookshop or museum?"

"You know me too well."

"There is that." Bran agrees. "So which is it first?"


Will's room in halls, sometime around 2am. Will's curled up under the blankets, out for as much warmth as he can get. Bran's sitting up, the combination of moonlight and neon from the outside giving his paler-than-pale skin an unearthly, sickly glowing yellow tinge.

Will shifts, obviously doesn't come up against the expected body shape, blinks awake and asks blearily "Bran? You okay?"


"Anything important?"

"Does Simon know?"

"Know what? Where babies come from?"

"The real stuff. Does he remember?"

"No. He just remembers what Merriman gave him. A holiday in Wales, and two in Cornwall. Everyone thinks Merriman died from one of those flu strains that go round. Why?"

"Why only me? Why'd you let me remember?"

Will shrugs. "You were ... empty without it. You kept having deja-vus, something like that. I was selfish. I let you remember."

"Selfish?" Bran queries.

"I wanted the old you back. Not the one with the fake memories."

"Your own reasons. Well, they're not as simple, but at least they're real." Bran turns his head to look out of the window, says softly "I'm as much of the Wild Magic as I am of the High, so it comes to the same thing in the end."

Will hoists himself up on his elbows to get a better look at his face. "That last bit made no sense."

Bran blinks, looks back at Will, suddenly not so serious. "It was meant to?" He rolls over, onto Will, pinning him down. "Now, the important question. Would you have gone for me if I didn't have the memories?"

"Probably. You're sodding gorgeous, but you know that already."

"A truth universally acknowledged." Bran grins, shifting his lower body to align with Will's.

"What about me?" Will asks.

"You? You'd still be that strange English boy that decided snogging me in front of his relatives on New Year's Eve when he was pissed was a good idea. Knowing you were a dewin wouldn't have made much difference to whether I fancied you or not."

"And here I thought it added an air of exotic mystery." Will sighs dramatically.

"Bollocks. You want exotic, I was doing exotic way before I found out who my parents were. Being an Old One couldn't beat that." He pauses. "Why were they cheering again?"

Will grins. "They'd known I'd had a crush on you for a couple of years. It was your dad I was afraid of. John Rowlands had to sit on him so he didn't do anything rash until he'd got used to the idea."

"Oh, a conspiracy, was it? Disgusting. I may have to punish you for that, Old One." Bran says solemnly. He ruins the expression by snickering.

Will stretches himself out. "Punish away, Bran. Feel free." Still grinning. And the grin's still in place in the morning when they wake up.


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