BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
Summary: The House Atreides' time in Caladan is running short. With the bitter feeling of leaving home behind, and the need to make the most of the hours they have left together, Y/n and Duncan decide it's about time they stop dancing around their feelings for each other.
Pairing: Duncan Idaho x Reader
Duncan Idaho: @whovianayesha
Permanent taglist: @elia-the-bibliophile @randomparanoid @karlthecat15722 @thebutchersdaughtersblog @amourtentiaa @just-here-to-escape-from-reality
Warnings: language, make out, let me know if I'm missing on something
A/N: I'm testing the waters with this one-shot to see if Tumblr targets me again or if I can post the Duncan Idaho x Moritani!Reader multipart without being banned lmaoo.
Disclaimer! This is a work of fanfiction using characters from Dune, which belong to Frank Herbert. I do not own these characters.
I happened to be crossing the hangar on my way to the library —it was definitely not the shortest way in the Castle, but I was in desperate need for a walk—, when a voice I wasn't expecting to hear called my name.
"Hey, Y/n!" My heart skipped a beat when I looked over my shoulder and saw Duncan jogging in my direction.
I stopped walking and waited for him to reach me. "Idaho." I greeted him, spinning back once he was by my side. "I didn't know you were back."
"I just arrived." He responded, pointing at his ship, which we had left behind. "Is it true you're being sent to Arrakis?"
"I suppose so." Duncan furrowed his brows at my apathy while we walked out of the hangar. "Who told you?"
"Paul." I should have guessed it; that kid spoke to the swordmaster about everything. "You don't seem too happy," he observed. "Is everything okay?"
"You wouldn't be happy either if you were getting sent to that hellhole."
"I am getting sent to that hellhole."
I came to a halt in my walk due to his statement and rotated to him, dumbfounded. He, taken aback by my reaction, slowed down his stroll and waited for me to speak.
As the Duke's envoy, I had been given a list of names belonging to the people who would enter Arrakeen to secure it, and Duncan's name was not in there.
"What do you mean?"
"I'm leaving with the advance team tomorrow morning." He clarified, his brows furrowed at my lack of understanding.
"No, what— you're not on the list."
"The advance team." I grunted in frustration and, after peeking left and right, I pointed at the nearest door. Duncan understood what I was asking him to do and opened it for me.
Once we made sure it was empty, we both entered, partially closing the door to obtain some privacy without arising questions.
"Why the hell are you going to Arrakis?"
I quirked an eyebrow at him. "Don't lie to my face. I just said you're not on the list."
This time, he seemed to give it a thought before responding. "Diplomacy."
"I'm not lying."
"We can't both be going on diplomatic missions." A part of me, the minuscule part that wasn't stressed out, held some hope that perhaps, Duncan and I were going together. We wouldn't have to say goodbye just yet.
"Hold on," there was something similar to hope in his eyes too, swimming among the confusion. "you're going to Arrakis because of the Fremen too?"
"You said you were going on a diplomatic mission too." He came to the realization, probably by my expression, that I was in fact, not going because of the Fremen. "You're not. Okay what I just said was highly-"
"I'll pretend I didn't hear it." I responded, to which he muttered a quick 'thank you'.
"What about you?"
I toyed with the silver ring on my middle finger, an anxious habit I had acquired. "I am to meet the Judge of the Change."
"Well, that's not too bad." Duncan's hand slipped into my view, gently separating my hands to stop my fidgeting. "Why the long face, then?"
I sighed. "Doctor Kynes is supposed to take me to the Harkonnen."
It took Duncan a moment to process that, but as soon as he did, he dropped my hands, stepping back.
"What?!" I shushed him, pulling him further into the windowless storeroom for the passerbys not to eavesdrop through the ajar door. "Are you going unprotected?" I nodded, unable to meet his gaze, for some unknown reason. "No way— the Duke didn't just—"
"Send me to die?" I finished, piqued, looking up at him. Bewilderment and worry were mixed on his face. "We need to ensure we won't be attacked." I added, trying to justify Leto's choice for the sake of the Swordmaster.
"I can talk to him."
A frown of disbelief formed above my eyes. "No, you can't." He attempted to speak but I insisted. "You know you can't."
"They'll kill you to send him a message."
"Duncan." I raised my hands, signaling him to calm down.
"I'm the ducal envoy, it's my job."
"This is not my idea!"
A soldier opened the door, probably attracted by our yelling; we had drawn unwanted attention from outside.
"Is everything alright?" The man asked, his eyes going from Duncan to me, and back to Duncan. We both replied with a dry 'yes' and the soldier wearily left us alone.
We took that opportunity as a cue to head out too, considering the conversation closed. We were both exhausted —him due to the flight, and me due to the ceremony—, we didn't need to have a pointless argument.
We walked in silence until we reached the entrance of the meeting room, where we would part ways since he surely had to inform the Duke about his last mission.
"Are you coming to the banquet tonight?" He questioned before I headed off.
"Do I look like I'm in the mood to come to the banquet?" I sounded ruder than I had intended, but Duncan let it slip.
"I'll see you in the morning then." He gave me a small smile that I felt compelled to return, even if it was just due to the concern his own carried.
Knock knock knock
I would have loved to say that the knocking on my door woke me up, but sadly, it only interrupted my chaotic yet silent reflecting on my life in Caladan. The friends I made, the ones I lost; the turns my path took, the choices I made, the opportunities I turned down, and Duncan.
It always came back to Duncan.
"Coming!" I announced, getting up from my bed to answer the call. "bored of the banquet?" I questioned at the sight of a tired Duncan.
"Gurney's been playing the baliset for ages now." He looked over his shoulder, as if to make sure the Warmaster was not right behind him.
"Don't bitch about it," I warned. "he's really good."
"Not when he's drunk."
"Even when he's drunk." He quirked an eyebrow at me. "You're just jealous." I added with a snicker.
"Can I come in or not?" He inquired, already leaning into the room, balancing himself with one of his hands on the doorframe. "I brought ale." He half sung, lifting his other hand to show me a bottle.
I briefly pondered the request, and ended up finding a better option. "Actually—" I walked back into the room to put on a pair of boots and grab a jacket. "Let's head to the beach."
"You hate the beach." Duncan pointed out as I closed my room's door.
"Wrong," I replied, walking by his side through the halls. "I hate the rain."
"Bet it's raining." I could hear the cocky grin without looking at him.
"Bet it's not."
He tsked playfully. "You always back the wrong horse."
"Well if it's raining," I began, only to be cut off by him.
"We go back to your room?" I glared at him and he used the opportunity to wink at me.
"I'll use you as an umbrella." I corrected him.
Not only it was not raining, but the stars shone as bright as ever in the night, reflecting on the surprisingly calm waves of the sea.
We had installed ourselves with our backs resting on one of the beach's large rock formations. Us both had been sitting in peaceful silence for a while, sat on the cold sand, just enjoying each other's company.
Sometimes that's all we needed after a long day, just knowing that the other was there.
"I'm gonna miss this." I whispered.
"Me too." Duncan agreed before chugging on the remainings of alcohol left in the nearly bottle. "Maybe Arrakis won't be that bad." He added, his eyes fixed on the dark horizon, where the sea and the night sky seemed to meet.
"It'll be worse." He snorted at my response, starting a series of chuckles from us both. "I hope we see each other there to complain about the sun and the heat." My tone turned quieter and more serious.
I could feel his beautiful eyes sparing me a glance before he reassuringly stated, "I'm sure we will."
My head, which had been tilted up until now, facing the stars, shifted to meet his; like many other times previous to this one, I ended up being caught in the moment, mesmerized by the way he looked at me and through me.
If we locked our gazes for long enough, our orbs would inevitably fall on the other's lips, and that was the moment when we snapped out of it.
He was the one to avert his eyes, casting them down to examine the bottle resting between his spread legs, half buried in the sand due to his hand spinning it distractedly. "You think Kynes will be a good Judge Of The Change?"
I sighed, folding my arms over my chest while staring at my crossed feet. "I hope so."
"I wish I could go with you." He muttered, quickly adding a mildly anxious attempt of an explanation. "Not that I don't think you can't handle yourself—"
"I know what you mean." I interrupted him, a smile inevitably twisting up the corner of my mouth. "That's very sweet of you, but you have important matters to attend."
"Your safety is an important matter." He spoke those words like it meant something else, something more personal— and they did.
I stood up from my position and sat down right by his side, leaning on him, my head on his shoulder. Maybe it was the extra courage the booze had given me which made me do it, or maybe the fact that tomorrow we'd be leaving home forever with no promise of seeing each other again.
Instantly, his hand found mine to hold it, and his cheek fell on top of my crown.
We stayed like that, taking in the cold weather of Caladan for the last time, eyes closed and fingers intertwined, until a particularly cold blow of wind made us shiver.
"We should go inside" he whispered, to which I nodded, standing upright before getting up, this time to leave.
Duncan trailed after me, close enough for me to feel the warmth radiating from his body, and we walked through the dark halls of Castle Caladan.
We could hear the music, laughter and loud chatter coming from the Great Hall, even though we were far from the festivities.
The ambience had an ominous feeling to it, quite unsettling, but we both had resigned ourselves to it.
"I think I'm gonna head to the kitchens." Duncan mentioned.
"I'll come with you, I'm hungry." It wasn't a lie, but the sole reason for me to keep his company was the same he had; we were trying to make the most of it before the morning came.
We found our way to the kitchens, already empty with a single glowglobe floating in the middle, barely lighting up the quiet space, fuller with furniture and cooking utensils than with food.
"You know, when I was younger I used to sneak into the kitchens at night." I mentioned only loud enough for me to hear when we split to find sustenance of our liking. "One of the employees always caught me with my hands in the cookie jar— quite literally."
Duncan chuckled in amusement, our eyes briefly meeting through one of the pantry's empty shelves.
"Who would have thought." He began, circling an isle with a portion of pie on a plate. "Y/n Y/l/n, the diplomat, a thief."
"Shocking, I know."
"Now I understand why you have so easily stolen my heart."
I snorted at the comment, grabbing an apple and a spoon to pinch some of Duncan's pie. "That was sooo cheeky."
It was not the first time the Swordmaster made a comment like that, but I had never learned to control the shock that came with it, nor the butterflies in my stomach.
"You like cheeky." He declared with a playful grin, plopping down on a chair, and I had to resist the urge to respond 'no, I like you'.
"You can do much better than that." I said instead, sitting by his side.
"Not this late at night— hey!" He slapped the back of my hand with his spoon. "Go get your own piece of pie, thief." He snapped, moving his plate away from me when I went to grab a bite.
"You're a greedy fucker, you know that right?" I commented, my eyes squinted at him while I got up to do as he told me.
"And you" Duncan pointed at me menacingly with the spoon, his mouth stuffed with the pie. " Are a spoiled little shit." He riposted.
"My mom taught me sharing is caring." I countered, standing on my tiptoes to put down on the counter the pie's platter, which rested on the top of a shelf.
"I feel like your mother meant it for you to share." I heard Duncan's voice getting closer, and watched him lean against the counter with the corner of my eye while I chopped a slice of the dessert and put it on a separate plate.
"Who cares." I dismissed him with a wave of my hand, holding back a smile.
That kind of banter was nothing out of the usual; of course, it was always lighthearted, never malicious. We had crossed the line a couple of times, but it had been quickly followed by a genuine apology.
There was a brief silence that preceded a statement that would worsen the mood.
"I can't believe we're leaving." I left the spoon over the half eaten dessert and turned to Duncan, just to see him downhearted, his head casted down.
"Me neither." I gloomily replied, putting the plate aside, as I had lost all appetite.
I was about to add 'we'll come back one day', but fearing it coming off feigned, I took the way of actions instead of the way of words.
I pushed myself off the counter and walked to stand in front of him. I waited for his gaze to leave the floor and acknowledge me before wrapping my arms around him, pouring as much of my emotions as possible on that simple act.
His own arms wrapped around my waist, squeezing me tight and slightly lifting me up.
Once he let my feet come back to the kitchen's tiles, we pulled away, leaving an odd feeling floating in the air.
He sighed, gifting me one of those rare smiles of his, one that was not playful, cocky or teasing; one so soft and loving that would make anyone's heart melt, though it was stained with a bittersweet tinge that made me sad.
"We should go to sleep already." He stated, pushing himself off the counter.
I moved away so I wouldn't be blocking his way, but instead of following him, I stood in place, frozen by fear and heartbreak. The chance of seeing each other again felt slim, and that was scary.
We had been avoiding confronting our feelings for years now, years of friendship in which we both longed for more, but it had never been the right moment to act on it.
Thing is, there wouldn't be any right moments— in fact, there probably wouldn't be any moments at all.
"Y/n?" Duncan had come back into the kitchen, and he now stood near the door; I could feel his worry without even sparing him a look. "Is everything okay?"
I took a deep breath and stalked to the kitchen's entrance, shutting the door before taking a couple of steps back to be in front of him.
"This will haunt me if I don't do it." I stated, more to myself than to him, before gripping his shirt and pulling him down to me.
To my surprise, there was no hesitance from his side; on the contrary, he was the one closing the gap between our lips with a rushed, messy kiss.
I felt our teeth clashing while our hands impatiently pulled each other's clothes and arms in a panic-stricking, unthinking manner.
I unconsciously backed him until his back hit a shelf, making him grunt into the kiss.
"Sorry." I breathlessly mumbled between kisses.
" 'S fine." Duncan's hand patted my thigh, wordlessly asking me to raise it; I obliged, letting out a surprised gasp when he lifted me up, switching my mouth for my neck and collarbone, to plant open-mouthed kisses there.
My breathing turned heavy, my fingers tangling on his locks and my legs wrapped around his middle.
His lips came back to mines once he had sat me down on top of a counter; this time the kiss was less impatient, as we were relishing this little moment.
It was just the two of us; no leaving in the morning, no risky diplomatic missions, no saying goodbye.
But it couldn't last forever.
Slowly but surely, the heated kisses died down, leading to us reluctantly pulling away from each other ever so slightly.
"We should have done this earlier." I whispered, regret tinging my voice while my fingertips caressed their way down from his chest to his hands, resting on the counter at either side of me.
"Better late than never." He replied, flipping one of his hands to hold my own, resting on top of it.
Better late than never.
He, too, thought we wouldn't see each other again, and that took me into a whole new level of sadness— Duncan had always been the optimistic one.
"Hey," He called for my attention, softly bumping mi forehead with his. "It's just an expression." He cleared, almost as if he had read my mind. I looked up, staring at him through my lashes and I was met with that lovely smile again. "Once I find the Fremen, we'll meet in Arrakeen."
I nodded, letting a spark of hope bloom in my heart for the sake of us both. "We'll meet in Arrakeen."
"C'mon," Duncan pecked my lips and stood upright, pulling my hand for me to hop off the counter, which I did. "I'll walk you to your room."
"Didn't you want to stay in my room?" I teased, letting go of his hand to fix my clothes and hair.
He let out a shocked laugh. "Well I feel like we should get some sleep."
"Who said we're not sleeping, Idaho?" I gave him a side eye whilst walking to confirm that his cheeks had gone pink. "There'll be time for not sleeping once we meet again, right?"
He relaxed, a satisfied smile tugging on the corner of his lips. "Right." His fingers caught mines and intertwined with them as we found our way to my room.
We slept soundly that night, reassured by the thought that, even if we didn't meet in Arrakeen, we would know we had had the courage to act up before it was too late.
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