Our Little Cups of Grace

by llamajoy

author's note: fifty themes, one sentence for each, done unofficially but in the spirit of the 1character challenge (themeset delta, if you were wondering). character, naturally, is billy lee black.

#01 - Blend
Grumpily he realizes that there's not enough sunscreen in the world to make him pass for a native of Bledavik.

#02 - Stain
The orphans, as very young children will sometimes know more than they ought, did not ask just why Billy himself would not scrub the dining room floor.

#03 - Island
It is never so lonely as when the tide comes in, and the sea creeps closer to their doorstep.

#04 - Apple
There are trees on this continent nothing like the sparse sea-sprayed brush back home-- tall and hardy, branches bright with fruit!-- and the King of Aveh and the Holy Mother of Nisan teach him how to climb barefoot to the very top.

#05 - Paper
So many of the Ethos' records had been computerized, Billy was hesitant to touch the volumes in the Royal Library, for fear that the aged parchment would crumble even under his most careful touch.

#06 - Relax
"I can't," Billy snaps, "not with you standing so-- so close to me."

#07 - Leaves
For a long moment he can't speak, his hands fisting in the red jacket and his face pressed tight to Bart's collar; finally he manages to say, "Because everyone else has."

#08 - Proof
The bottles made an unpleasant smell, in the burning, but Billy stood and watched the acrid smoke with a grim sort of satisfaction.

#09 - Ugly
It's only a glimpse, through the fogged glass cockpit of Alkanshel, but what Billy sees of his Bishop's face will haunt his dreams.

#10 - Book
At bedtime, Prim points to the ones she likes best to hear him read, and Billy despairs to ever hear her voice following his own.

#11 - Brood
Though he suspects he's being had, it is difficult to maintain a proper temper, when Bart flashes that particular smile.

#12 - Mesh
It's late one night, the three of them head-to-head under the candlelight, when Margie finally convinces Billy that their faiths aren't so different after all.

#13 - Soft
Memories fade, with time; Billy lies awake at night trying not to forget the feel of his mother's cool fingers against his fevered forehead.

#14 - Shelf
"Sure is tidy in this place," Jessie says gruffly, his grin too well-concealed in the curve of his bandanna.

#15 - Alone
The now-comfortable scent of tobacco & gunpowder lingers in the clothes of the man standing next to him, saying, "But you're not, kiddo; you never have been."

#16 - Fall
Light-headed with dizziness, and all his better reason arguing against it, he still can't help peering down (and down and down) from the ledges of Aphel Aura.

#17 - Knot
"You're sure?" he asks for the fifth time, the needle and the knotted cotton thread at the ready; Primera looks at their mother's red earrings cradled in her hand, and smiles.

#18 - Crowd
It shouldn't be a relief, seeing those travel-dusty boots among the hundreds of scuffling feet aboard the Thames, but Prim is squeezing his hand and he finds himself glad, all the same.

#19 - Denial
He grips his guns as tightly as any beaded rosary, every shot a prayer for each misguided soul.

#20 - Train
There is solace to be found in ritual, so the young priest doesn't complain at the getting up early, or at the repetition of catechism.

#21 - Fur
Bart looked so small and grateful, swaddled in the oversized wrap and blinking the Shevite snow from his eyelashes, that Billy forgot to say "I told you so."

#22 - Chrome
He raises one eyebrow at Brigandier's polish and Bart's obvious pride, and sniffs, "I've never seen anything so ostentatious."

#23 - Heart
"Hush," said Bart, with grace at least not to smile, "You think I don't already know?"

#24 - Intention
As he rests his forehead upon his crossed hands, head bowed at the altar, he cannot see the way Verlaine's smile has changed.

#25 - Push
"Seems you ain't tryin' hard enough, Billy Lee-- it'd take more than that to scare me outta my own damn house."

#26 - Look
He's both grateful and mortified that there's someone standing beside him; it feels as though the Ethos basement walls are collapsing around him.

#27 - Weight
He thought his father's shotgun too heavy to lift... until the day that a bloody-fingered reaper nearly made it to the orphanage door.

#28 - Spider
"I'm sure you're right," he told the littlest pink-eared child, not quite successful in hiding his smile, "but we don't eat them for dinner, here."

#29 - Robe
He's lost count of how many times it's needed mending, but it's been at least a year since he had any blue thread, and has had to use black, or white, or grey to stitch up the new tears.

#30 - Umbrella
"And I'll say it as many times as it takes," Bart is repeating himself, ungentle as he shakes out Billy's cloak; "you come to me, if you need anything."

#31 - Surface
All he remembers of the journey is his mother's urgent whisper that he not make a sound, and the way his father's hands were cold when he held him close.

#32 - Idea
"I was afraid you'd say that," Billy sighed.

#33 - Diamond
Bishop Stone's tutelage was strict, his regimen unrelenting; the harder the goal he set, the more chances he had to watch the boy shine.

#34 - Blind
By the time Jessie opens his mouth to explain, the door has already been shut in his face.

#35 - Flow
Sitting on the deck of the Yggdrasil, Billy watches the silent ebb and glimmer of the nighttime desert, and surprises himself by not feeling homesick.

#36 - Movement
The gun is in Billy's hand in less time than it takes him to fling out his cape and spin around; Bart, with his hands in the air and his heart in his mouth, might remember to knock next time.

#37 - More
"Please," he prays, supplicant to a silent God, "how are we to make it through this winter?"

#38 - Honey
Bart's laughing at him, dragging the back of his hand across his mouth, saying "I knew it was your first taste."

#39 - Weather
A grim winter day over Aquvy seems nearly pleasant, seen from three thousand feet and nestled in the perfect-fit cockpit of Renmazuo.

#40 - Blue
Always his favorite color-- for the harboring sea, for the sky, for the tin-mirror reflection of his eyes; for a simple rhyme his mother once sang to get him to sleep.

#41 - Double
A reaper will go down in two shots if you know where to hit it, and Billy knows that rhythm by heart.

#42 - Braid
Once its tie was pulled free, the desert-golden hair had a mind of its own, sliding through Billy's tentative fingers.

#43 - Thread
He passed that spring and summer watching Primera learning at the needle, busy over pinpricked fingers and scraps of her outgrown jumpers; he was startled all the same on the first chill autumn evening when she hauled out the finished blanket: broad and soft and not a bit frayed.

#44 - Angles
"No, no," the too-familiar voice of his memory goads him, "if you keep your wrist like that you'll just be shooting holes in the ground."

#45 - Daydream
By the time the kettle is quiet again and the spill is mopped off the floor, Billy has entirely forgotten what he was thinking about.

#46 - Nightmare
She's small and shivering, creeping into the bed beside him in the middle of the night, yet his sister doesn't know yet that she's the one helping him to sleep.

#47 - Honor
Truthfully it was the last thing on his mind, at that moment; he was caught up in mental tabulation of the money, and the months of food and medicine it would buy.

#48 - Palm
He'd been clenching his hands so tightly that his nails left angry crescent-wounds on his palms, but he did not wince as Bishop Stone wiped clean his hands.

#49 - Screen
"There's nothing wrong with your display readouts," Bart's voice sounded strained over the crackling transmission; "that thing is enormous."

#50 - Warmth
It's a remarkably simple thing after all, close enough to belonging, and Billy subsides without another protest.


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