Lifestyle by Sunhawk
Summary: A (more or less) ordinary afternoon.
Categories: FPS > Pippin/Merry, FPS, FPS > Merry/Pippin Characters: Merry, Pippin
Type: None
Warning: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes Word count: 2689 Read: 1123 Published: August 10, 2012 Updated: August 10, 2012
Story Notes:
Warning: Mention of gay-bashing.

Many thanks to Mizz Marvel for beta-ing! This story is part of a rapidly-growing modern-day AU set in Philadelphia, more or less now.

1. Chapter 1 by Sunhawk

Chapter 1 by Sunhawk
Pippin's feet made no mark on the worn carpeting as he ran up the stairs to his and Merry's apartment. The door had swollen in the heat again, and Pippin practically had to throw his whole weight back before finally freeing it. He closed it with a satisfying slam, and kicked his shoes off with even more satisfaction. His guitar, though, was carefully put down, out of the way.

The interior of the apartment was only slightly cooler than the sweltering August heat outdoors, but the soft white noise of the fan brought a welcoming breeze. Their apartment was decorated in what Merry called Starving Grad Student chic, featuring lots of random posters, and a cotton tapestry tacked over the futon that was virtually their only living room furniture. Never mind, though, for it was home, and Pippin was content to finally be there.

"Honey, I'm ho-ome!" he called out, guessing that Merry was in their bedroom. A muffled reply confirmed his guess, and Pippin padded into the next room, the door shut in a vain attempt to keep at least some of the street noises out.

Merry, long blond curls pulled back in a vain attempt to get them off of his neck, spun his chair 'round to greet Pippin, who took that as an invitation to plunk down right on Merry's lap, legs twined 'round the back of the chair.

"Ugh, Pip, it's too hot for this," Merry complained with a grin, but leaned forward anyway to greet his lover with a kiss.

"Never too hot for kisses, Merry-mine. It is, however, too hot to be crammed onto a bus with fifty other people, none of whom have showered anytime recently." Pippin pouted a little, looking at Merry from under his lashes, his hands playing absently with the leather thong around his lover's neck.

"Poor baby," Merry clucked, standing up with Pippin still wrapped around him, and taking the few steps to their bed to drop the younger one down. Pippin bounced a little, shrieking, but then stretched out, giving Merry his best come-hither eyes.

"No, not now. Be still, Pip, I want to look at that eye."

Pippin sighed heavily, but sat up to face Merry, sitting still while the cut over his left eye was carefully examined.

Sitting still, but not silent.

"Merry, honest, I'm fine. It's just a tiny cut, and some bruises, that's all." Merry made a noncommittal noise as he smeared ointment over the scab, still a little red and swollen. He helped Pippin take his shirt off, checking the bruises on his ribs. "I'm hardly the first queer kid to get his ass kicked just because, you know. I got off pretty lucky." Pippin went silent, though, when Merry twitched at that, feeling a bit guilty. Instead, he closed his eyes, and breathed in their home.

Johnny Meister was opening The Blues Show on the college music station, and cars rumbled outside the window. The soft whirr of the fan, constantly present in their tiny apartment from June to October (and sometimes in winter depending on which way the heating was screwed up). Lying back at Merry's urging, he smelled the tang of the ointment that was being rubbed into his bruises, and felt the soft jersey sheet at his back. A siren, far off, and voices right below. A man and a woman, discussing how much the current mayor, in their erudite words, sucked, and declaring that Katz damn well better win. A faint tang of gin and margaritas still in the air after the party they'd hosted last night. Merry's warm fingers, gently rubbing the harsh bruises, which were starting to go numb.

Merry's hand moving, fingers running through his short chestnut curls, and Pippin was smiling when he opened his eyes. "Love you," he offered softly, and Merry was smiling too when he leaned down for a lingering kiss.

"Besides," Pippin continued with a grin, "how else is a farm kid from Bucks County gonna look all tough? I should have a Doc print on my face, Mer!"

Merry groaned this time, yanking Pippin up. "Goddamn punk kid. Why do I put up with you again?"

"Because I drive your parents crazy. And you listen to people with names like 'Blind Lemon Jefferson', so you can just hush up."

"Okay, Pogues-boy. You can just miss out hearing who's coming to town." Merry lounged back as Pippin sat up, looking wounded.

"Mer-ry! C'mon. You know I was just teasing!" He widened his eyes even more, tilting his head a little to one side. He was about halfway done running his tongue over his lips, when Merry growled.

"Hopeless Took. Come on, I'll tell you while we get dinner." Pippin stood up and draped his arms around Merry's neck, swaying them together to the wailing blues on the radio.

"You know very well why you put up with me, Merry Brandybuck." They bumped noses, and then Pippin was gone, soon followed by the sound of rifling in the fridge. Merry stood there, blinking and bemused, and murmured, "So I do, at that," before going off to help Pippin.

"It's hot as hell in here, Mer, so how about my chicken salad?" Pippin asked, pulling out chicken, mayonnaise and grapes, handing them to Merry.

"Fine with me, love. I'll rip the chicken up?" Merry set to his task at Pippin's nod, and they prepared the simple salad in comfortable silence, Merry's rough tenor occasionally joining in with the radio. Pippin mixed the chicken with mayo, grapes and walnuts while Merry set the tiny table, digging out some hard cider from the depths of the refrigerator for them.

The first edge of a considerable hunger taken off, Pippin impatiently asked for Merry's news.

"Legolas is gonna be in town next week!" He announced, and Pippin whooped with joy.

"Damn, I haven't seen him…wow, not since Aragorn and Arwen got married, a year ago. He gonna be performing?" Pippin grinned widely. He and Merry and a group of their friends had gone on a road trip a couple years ago, and it'd been the greatest adventure in his life thus far, and not just because that was how he met Merry. Legolas had been along too, although he'd then proceeded to do the drag queen circuit for the next four years, only coming into Philly once or twice a year.

Merry nodded. "He called Frodo--I guess he's the only one of us that's stayed put in the past year--and Frodo called me when I got in. He's just doing Bob and Barbara's one night, and then he's free the rest of the time."

"Yes! He can come see us perform at A-Space!" Pippin grinned widely, before returning to eating hungrily. Still growing at 21, he was perpetually skinny despite constantly eating.

Merry raised an eyebrow, thinking of the fabulous drag queen at an Irish punk show, but decided to leave that argument for another time. Pippin had been a bit prickly since getting attacked, and Merry had lately been choosing discretion much more often than usual.

"So what's Frodo up to?" Pippin asked, leaning back to sip his cider.

"He and Sam are going to Woody's tonight, if you want to go with. It could be fun, we haven't been out with them in forever," Merry said.

Pippin made a face. "Oh, yeah, all the chickenhawks making eyes at me, and you too for that matter, and us being the youngest people there. Very fun. Except not."

Merry laughed at that. "Point," he said. "Frodo just gets away with it because Sam would kill them, and they know it. You want to go somewhere else, though? We haven't gone out with the twins in awhile."

Pippin shook his head, though. "If you don't mind, Mer, I'd like to--horror of horrors--stay in tonight. Long-ass day today, and all."

Merry nodded and smiled. "Of course, Pip. We can find something to do here, no problem.

They finished dinner, talking of simple things, catching up on each other's day. Merry grumbled a bit about having reached a complete block in his research, and Pippin grumbled about a song that was giving him trouble, and they graciously gave each other the next day off--conveniently a Sunday, a lazy day, for cuddling in bed until noon, and getting bagels with cream cheese and lox and ignoring the rest of the world for as long as possible, including the fact that the bathroom desperately needed to be cleaned.

Merry volunteered to clean up while Pippin went out to the living room to curl up on the futon, flipping channels. With just two plates and silverware to wash, the dishes went quickly, so it was only a few minutes later when Merry plopped down next to Pippin, a pint of super dark chocolate ice cream in one hand and two spoons in the other.

"Surprise!" he offered with a smile, Pippin yelping with joy.

"Mer! Oh, yum, I love you!" He took the proffered spoon and dug in happily. Merry joined in, his tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth a little in his enthusiasm to get to the ice cream.

After just a bite or two, Merry was teasing Pippin until he was laughing too hard to eat, abandoning his spoonful of now-melting ice cream to a low table. Hands free, he whomped Merry with a pillow when he was happily eating. Merry yelped and dove for Pippin, pinning him down on the sofa with one hand and hitting every ticklish spot with the other.

"I give, I give! Merry! Stop!" Pippin shrieked through his giggles, twisting and turning his body to try and avoid Merry's quick fingers. He somehow managed to wriggle free, and quickly turned the tables, diving onto Merry and laying him out along the sofa.

"Zerblatt!" he cried triumphantly, and lifted Merry's shirt to blow a raspberry onto the soft tummy. Merry shrieked, then, trying to squirm out from under Pippin, who had rescued the ice cream and Merry's spoon, and was enjoying both of them.

"Very yummy," he declared, and Merry could only nod, grinning as he got his breath back. The TV blared on in the background, unnoticed until Pippin had gone to return the last dregs of the ice cream and the spoons to the kitchen.

Merry had begun flicking through the channels when Pippin joined him, snuggling close with his head in Merry's lap. After a bit of debate ("Mer-ry! Fraternity Life!" "No."), they dismissed the TV; Merry putting on some music instead. A storm had come up quickly, and the cooler air meant that he really quite enjoyed Pippin snugged so close to him. Sitting in comfortable silence, Merry lazily reached up under Pippin's shirt and started rubbing his back. Pippin sighed happily, shifting to lie on his stomach. Merry was there, warm and strong and good, worn denim soft against his cheek, and Pippin dozed, content and safe. Merry was smiling as he looked down at Pippin, rubbing the tension out of his slim back. Rain was drumming on the window, creating a nice counterpoint to the music and Pippin's eyes were half-closed and catlike in relaxation.

"Never gonna let you get hurt again," he murmured, switching to run his fingers through Pippin's hair, smiling as the curls stretched out and sprang back.

Pippin's eyes, however, popped open and he moved to sit up, facing Merry. "Merry, what's eating at you? You've been acting funky for days, and you can't be such a giant ass as to think you let me get hurt."

Merry turned so he was sitting face to face with a troubled Pippin. Annoyed green eyes met him, and Pippin had crossed his arms, his shirt still half-shucked up his chest.

"No," Merry said quietly, looking down after a few seconds. "I suppose I know I didn't. But I hate this," he looked up growling, and Pippin jumped a little. "I hate not being able to do anything. I hate that I wasn't there to protect you. I hate that you got hurt." He swiped tears away angrily, biting his lip.

And then Pippin was there, leaning over to wrap his arms around Merry. "Oh, sweetheart," he breathed. "I know, I know. My Merry, who always must be doing something. My Merry, who wants to save the whole world, even the parts that don't deserve it. My Merry," and he took a deep breath and sat back "who is supposed to be so smart and is right now making me wonder what all your professors see in you."

"Pippin! What…?" Merry's eyes had gone stormy, and he met Pippin glare for glare.

"Merry, you arse! Where did you get the idea that you're useless? I don't care if you weren't right there--Sam and Frodo were, and I can protect myself too, you know. You could've been hurt as well, and don't you think I'm as thankful as can be that you were all the way here, safe at home? I'm pissed too, Merry, I'm angry that some dicksmack thought I needed to be taught a lesson, or something. But Merry, love, can't you see what you do for me?" And now it was Pippin's turn to swipe tears away, and Merry reached for him.

Settled a little awkwardly on Merry's lap, Pippin wrapped both arms tightly around his lover. Tilting his head up, he caught Merry's eyes. "Merry, just this, tonight--I could just relax, and let go, know you'd watch over me. And you do, all the time, in so many ways." He kissed Merry softly and leaned back again.

"So no more of this, hmm?" He grinned and tapped Merry's nose lightly, feeling the tension break with the relaxing of Merry's shoulders.

"No more, sweet one," Merry agreed, and cuddled Pippin close as he leaned back. They stayed that way for long minutes, holding tight to each other.

A huge thunderclap made both of them jump, Pippin gasping a little, and then they both broke down into giggles. A bolt of lightening struck nearby, and they both unconsciously tightened their grips on each other at the blinding light, followed quickly by every electronic item in the apartment blinking off.

"Well, bloody hell." Pippin got off Merry's lap to scramble for matches in the near-dark, lighting some of the thick pillar candles scattered around the room before he returned to cuddle up against Merry with a grumble."

"Pippin, hush. It's nice, and cozy."

"Merry. All our fans are off, it's going to be hot and stuffy and unbearable in about ten minutes." This announcement, though, hadn't stopped Pippin from cuddling up to Merry, letting Merry lay his head on Pippin's shoulder.

"Hmm, just you and me and the candlelight…whatever shall we do, Pip?" Merry idly played with the hem of his shirt, right above the fly of his cutoffs, until Pippin reached over and covered his hand. Leaning over, he kissed Merry deeply, opening his mouth slightly and running his tongue over Merry's lips, teasing them open. Breathing carefully, or sometimes not breathing at all, they stayed like that for a long while.

Pippin pulled back, his eyes dark, and murmured, "If you're trying to distract me, lover-mine, it's really, really working." He licked his lips while Merry laughed, and leaned forward for an even deeper kiss, his hands roaming across Merry's chest, lifting the edge of the shirt up to meet warm, soft skin. The kiss was tender, this time, full of more love than laughter, but containing both.

"I love you, Merry," Pippin said breathlessly, his voice low and rough. Merry picked him up smoothly, and moved towards the bedroom, keeping one eye open to navigate as he kissed Pippin again, this time trailing kisses down to his neck.

"I love you, Pippin," he breathed across his lover's face, laying them both down on the wide bed, nearly as old as Pippin and worn with use, but still welcoming and familiar.

Pippin pulled him close, and in their joy, everything else in his world faded away, for long enough.
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