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Fic: Oxygen (Piki/Proto, PG13)

Title: Oxygen

Fandom: Rise of the Guardians

Pairing: Piki/Proto

Author’s Notes: A fic to go with Peach’s gorgeous, gorgeous artwork to answer the question of what if doll!Piki became human? The one-year anniversary (give or take!) of the NDU tag launching felt like motivation to finish it <3. Plus I liked playing with a slightly fairytale-ish style.


Not so very long ago, two twin boys were born into a rich and powerful family, though only one of them breathed.

The boy who did not breathe grew nonetheless, even if he had to grow without a body; every day Piki would watch his brother in the cot, copy Pitch’s actions, mimic Pitch’s sounds. As years passed he learned how to make sounds of his own, though he could not touch anything, and most people who heard his sounds pretended not to.

Piki followed Pitch from city to city and wished he could have a body like his brother did, thought about how he would decorate it with clothes and makeup, how he would wear his hair long and loose. He thought about talking to people who would listen, about laughing at jokes and embracing the friends he would make.

And one day, when he wished so hard he almost felt it, he opened eyes that he now owned to a face that looked back at him in shock, and when he said, “Hi,” his sound had an echo, his sound moved through air and not just space. He lifted arms that creaked and clicked, arms of plastic and metal, and marvelled at having a body that could move, even if it did not feel.

It was enough for him to be a doll.

The man who had made his body was young, tall, and thin, smart and unsure of himself, with a habit of changing his mind often.

“I’m glad you’re not human,” he would say after a long day of work, admiring how Piki never tired, never complained about being asked to model clothes or bring piles of fabric and boxes of needles over to the work table.

“I wish you were human,” he would say when the room temperature dropped and Piki’s temperature dropped with it, or when he wanted a friend he could share with the world.

He gave Piki dresses and robes and trousers and shirts, painted his face in every colour Piki ever asked for, brought him gloves and scarves and enough paste jewellery to have Piki rattling with every step he took.

Proto danced with him and slept by him and read to him night after night, and Piki would kiss him and hold him and wonder what he saw in his dreams.

Though books told Piki a heart was needed to love, they also told him blood was needed to live, so he knew they weren’t always true. Piki looked at the faint lines around Proto’s eyes and the stubble on his chin, the evidence of humanity, and knew that while he loved him now, he would love him just as much in the body of a doll.

A winter came that lasted and lasted, clinging damp and wet to the inside of their home, and long, late nights wore at Proto’s health. Piki watched as shadows grew under Proto’s eyes, as colour leeched from Proto’s cheeks, and did all he could to help - he prepared meals for when Proto came home and before he went to bed, bleached away patches of mould and used old rags to cut off draughts.

But Piki was no doctor and Proto was still human, and Piki startled at coughing that rattled his cage as much as it did Proto’s lungs, ordered Proto to bed and wrapped him in blankets before bringing him food.

The night seemed strange, too dark, clouds heavy with snow that had not yet fallen, and Piki feared what that strangeness might mean for a human, sat on the bed and watched over Proto as he slept, breaths sounding thick and wet, limbs tense with discomfort.

Piki wished he could help, looked out of the bedroom window at the strange clouds, blocking out the moon’s shape but not its soft glow, and he watched the snow start to fall as the long night wore on, white flakes clinging to the glass without melting.

Piki wasn’t sure what made him move his hand to rest over Proto’s heart, but he froze in place when he felt it beating, as surely as if the plastic of his hand had turned to flesh.

I wish I could help, Piki thought again as Proto coughed in his sleep before wheezing through the next few breaths, and the beating intensified until he couldn’t resist pressing his other hand over it, to see what else he could feel, if it was some strange illusion or if it was true.

Beating, beating, beating like a snare drum.

Piki leaned in close, tilting his head, pressing his ear to Proto’s chest and clenching his hands against it when he could hear the same beat he could feel.

The beat was joined by warmth, and Piki held on tight, weeping at the comfort of what he had never felt before but always wondered over, and warmth was joined by scent, the stinging intensity of ointment.

Let me help, Piki thought, and felt weight holding him to Proto, felt the shape of something new at his feet and his hands, spreading up his legs and his arms, curling around his hips and his waist and his chest. Let me be warm for him.

A beat started up within him, faster and harder than the one beneath his cheek, and the beat was soon joined by a burning, a need he didn’t understand until he sat up and gasped, heard his voice in that gasp, felt the wetness of a throat and the relief of breathing air.

Piki lifted the arms he had looked at when he first took a body, and found flesh in place of plastic, shifted his legs that had once been fitted wrong and found them tucked underneath hips, not wire, looked down and found a chest, a stomach, dark curls trailing down to a soft cock.

He pressed his hands to his face and found lips - plump and slightly damp - and a nose, eyelids, eyebrows, reached backwards into long, loose hair.

He shivered, and marvelled at shivering, before pulling back the duvet and sliding beneath it, curling himself around Proto and watching Proto’s eyes slide half-open.

Proto didn’t have to say a word, turned to wrap his arms around Piki’s back and closed his eyes once more, slipping into a deeper, easier sleep, his breathing still laboured but the tension in his body drained.

Piki felt Proto’s heart beat against his chest, felt his own heart beat against Proto’s, and in amongst the world of new sensations, he felt something strange and unknown and alluring; fatigue.

Piki had never slept before.

He closed his eyes, leaned forward to brush his lips against Proto’s before resting his head against the pillows.

There was so much softness and warmth in the world, far more than he had been able to see with eyes alone.

And as he breathed with lungs that had never known air before, closed eyelids that filtered light into a dark, living red, he wondered how he had ever thought being a doll could be enough.


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January 2016

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