December 26, 2001
Written for the Great Canadian Shack Challenge. My thanks to Ces for letting me play, and to torch for suggesting a DIR shack.

That Other Place (shack 82)

by Kest

Bran sniffed the candle curiously.  "Beeswax," Will told him.  "No--don't light it yet."

They were in Will's office at the university; it was cluttered, books piled at random on the desk and floor. Bran stepped back onto something that crackled, and he shifted uncertainly.  Beside him Will was relaxed, his eyes unfocused as he studied the wall above the bookshelf. "What should I do?"

Will blinked and refocused.  "Nothing, yet."  He tapped his own candle against the side of his nose, then straightened and seemed at once very sure of himself.  "We can light them now.  Here---"   He lit his candle and passed the matches to Bran.

Bran looked up from his candle's glow to find Will studying him seriously.  He tried to quell his nervousness.  "What should I do?" he repeated.

Will studied him a moment longer.  "It will be easier if you closed your eyes.  Try to relax."  He looked concerned.

Bran returned the look steadily, and after a moment, Will nodded.  "Okay."

Bran shifted again to find room free of the clutter and closed his eyes.  The candle shook slightly in his hand. Shut off from sight, he could feel the light draft from beneath the door of the office and the way candle flame warmed his face.  Something stirred the air; his eyelids twitched, and he jumped a little when Will's hand touched his wrist.


Bran opened his eyes.  They were no longer in the office. His fingers were numb, and Will took the candle from his hand before he lost his grip.  He took a quick breath, then a slower one.  "Where are we?"

In the center of the room was a wooden table grey with dust, and two candles twin to their own. Will lit them with those they had brought.  He blew out Bran's and laid it on the table, and propped his own up next to the two now burning.

"Canada, I believe."

Bran mused on that.  He looked around the room.  The walls were greyed and weathered, and there were wooden pegs in the joints of the wood.  "When is this?"

Will tilted his head.  "It doesn't matter."  Bran wrinkled his nose, and Will smiled.  "Whatever happens will happen outside of it."

At the words, Bran shivered slightly and crossed the room. There was a window on the other side with boards across the opening.  Through the cracks he could see snow and the smudge of trees in the distance.  Cold air crept through the wool of his sweater, and he gripped his hands into fists to warm them.

"I don't know what you need me to do."

He could hear Will's breathing, light and steady.  "You've helped me face them down before."

"I don't remember."  He tried not to let the bitterness show.

There was a pause.  "I know," Will said.

His breath was frost-tinted.  There were footsteps behind him, and then Will's warmth was against his back, arms around his waist.  He breathed slowly, feeling by steps warmer even as the cold drifted in.

After a minute, he said, "Aren't there any preparations we should be doing?"

Will tightened his grip.  "Not really.  And this is important, too."

Bran leaned back against him for another moment, then shifted forward.  Will kissed him lightly on the back of the neck and released him.  He crossed back to the table and retrieved his candle, then returned to stand by the window.  Bran saw his face grow still and his eyes darken.

"They're coming," Will said, and blew out the candle.