A/N: it's always sad songs that inspire me for these two, but it's okay ! I bring happy fair game to the table this time :)

It's not love.

That's the first thing Qrow tells himself.

Clover always wore his heart on his sleeve. That was one of the first things Qrow noticed about him. That, and that stupid armband.

And the vivid green of his eyes that nearly glow white in direct sunlight.

And the crooked little grin he makes when it's just the two of them.

He's perfect. In every sense, he's impeccable, and yet it's that lopsided smile that gets to Qrow. It's imperfect, the way one corner hikes just a bit higher than the other, the way his head tilts and his eyes crinkle at the corners. It's the one thing that Qrow clings to, solely because it's the one thing that isn't so pristine.

What makes Qrow cling even more desperately to it is that he has yet to see it with anyone else.

Even when Clover's bantering with his colleagues, none of his smiles are quite the same. Or when he's entertaining Ruby, meandering along with some slang or reference that Qrow can never hope to match. She has stars in her eyes, and she screeches like she did as a child when she's lifted with ease, and Clover somehow keeps up with all the energy, the excitement, the talk.

Ruby likes Clover a lot. Qrow finds it increasingly difficult to not like him just as much.

(Or maybe a little more.)

"Try to be a little nicer to yourself, yeah?"

That's the first thing Clover says to him that day, differing wildly from his usual morning greeting. His words aren't tinged with the sharp-edged notes of tension, nor are they laden with the gravelly weight of sleep. That's another thing that Qrow can never hope to understand; it's unfair that Clover's such a lively morning person.

It's also unfair how contagious the energy was.

Or maybe it's the smooth curve of his lip, the cheerful lilt of his tone, the way his eyes shine bright. Maybe it's how he holds out a mug of coffee for Qrow, the olive branch that he's clung to since they first met. Maybe it's the way that grin widens, undeniably pleased, like he's done something right.

(Maybe it's just Clover.)

"What?" It comes out rougher than Qrow means it to. Clover doesn't flinch. "I haven't even said anything yet."

The rich aroma of the brew does nothing to soothe the ache in Qrow's eyes, but at the very least, he feels better than he did when he first dragged himself out of bed. It catches him off guard with the suddenness of a rippling echo that breaks through the glasslike surface of a lake; his slouch is gone, for the most part, and miraculously enough, he finds himself leeching off that quiet contentment.

He does that often, it seems. Feeds off the warmth that Clover brings, thrives off the banter between them until he's giddy.

Clover reaches out to him. The touch is casual, fleeting, and yet it sends Qrow reeling, has him forgetting how to breathe, how to speak, how to function. The pad of Clover's thumb runs just under his right eye, the backs of his curved fingers brushing lightly over the sharp cut of Qrow's jaw.

Qrow was never touchy. He never cared for it, never sought it out. And yet he finds himself leaning into the touch, holds Clover's gaze like it's the only thing anchoring him to the ground.

He doesn't remember when he started craving Clover's touch. He doesn't remember when he grew a liking to the fleeting touches, either - the way Clover's fingers lingered over his own sometimes, the short clap on his shoulder when he's praised for a job well done, how their knees would brush whenever they sat together. He doesn't remember leaning in to them, doesn't remember anticipating them.

Maybe it's just Clover.

It's always just with Clover, it seems. Qrow doesn't want to think about what that means.

He can't even really think, anyways. Not when Clover's so close to him. He considers that a mercy.

They're not alone, not even close, and yet Clover doesn't have a care in the world. Doesn't treat him like some secret, doesn't chase after him in the dark, doesn't remain just out of his tentative reach in the presence of his co-workers, his friends. He isn't smiling anymore, not really, but there's still that telltale crinkle at the corners of his eyes, and his countenance melts into something fond.

Qrow feels like he's floating.

Clover pulls away. Qrow's immediate train of thought is frantic - pull his hand back into place and keep him there, keep him still, keep him close, keep -

"Those say a lot," Clover laughs.

Qrow catches himself. Holds his breath. He's careful when he exhales. The unabashed craving that tugs at him is astoundingly visceral, rearing upwards until it nestles in his chest, burning between his ribs where his heart is racing.

It's harrowing, in a way. It's calamitous. Daunting.

And so, so lovely.

He takes a sip of coffee, and it burns like all hell, but the sting is preferable to the odd feeling that flutters in his chest. He blames the flare of heat in his cheeks on the steam that wafts up to wash over his skin.

"I'm just not a morning person," Qrow mumbles behind the mug.

Clover leans on one hip against the countertop. Qrow's gaze can't help but follow the delectable flex of his biceps as he folds his arms over his chest. There's a faint, giddy hint of mirth in his tone when he teases, "Really? I would've never known."

Qrow rolls his eyes. He finds himself mirroring the smile on Clover's face, the movement as natural as the flow of water. "Yeah, yeah, laugh all you want. Not everyone's so perfect at all hours of the day."

It comes out before he has the chance to stop himself. Clover quirks one brow upwards, tilts his head just so, asks with a pleasant hum, "You think I'm perfect?"

And handsome, but Qrow wasn't about to dig his grave any deeper than he already did. Clover makes an odd expression - it's something blurred between the lines of need and want, something too nuanced for Qrow to fully decipher. He has to look away before he melts on the spot.

"Don't go fishing for compliments," he manages to say.

Clover's laugh is velvety where it resides in his chest. Qrow wants to drown in that sound for the rest of his days. He wants Clover's fingertips brushing over his skin again, and Clover's voice low in his ears when he presses in close, and the smell of Clover's cologne clinging to his clothes and his pillowcase long into the night.

He just wants Clover.

Wants him so badly.

And Clover, the bastard, winks at him when their eyes meet again, and says with that same honeyed confidence that bleeds through every word, "I'm just asking you to be honest with me, handsome."

That telltale smile is there again, so imperfect that it hurts, so genuine that it's somehow impeccable . It's like ice that's held long enough to burn, like a sore tooth that's toyed with long enough to feel pleasant. He's drawn to Clover like a moth to the flame, the feeling as perilous as it is sublime.

It's not love.

(He isn't so sure of himself, though.)

Missions are always the easiest when Clover is around. This was yet another way that they coalesced, blending rather than crashing, balancing rather than tilting one way or the other. They move fluidly together, flow with one another.

Grimm are nothing. They never have been. Yet it's different when Clover's at his back, never straying too far, carrying through every flawless execution like it's second nature. Qrow barely catches the glint of red in his peripheral vision before the Sabyr is stopped short by the hook and line that wraps around its neck.

It thrashes on its back, maw shuddering with a simmering growl. Qrow watches as it dissipates into the frigid tundra air shortly after Harbinger slices through the hollow of its nose.

"Careful, now," Clover teases. "Those things are nasty when you don't watch your back."

Clover isn't breathless, but he's close to it, Kingfisher still brandished, shoulders uncharacteristically tense. There's something tentative that lingers just under Clover's tone, weaving so meticulously through the words that Qrow wonders if he's just imagining it. He's always been careless, against Grimm or otherwise.

But Clover hadn't always been there, watching Qrow just as closely as Qrow watches him, ready to intercept any threat.

Something about that makes his lungs feel light. He laughs a little before he could stop himself, breaking through the unease that he didn't realize was there. Clover follows, lets go of the breath he's been holding. His chuckle is fleeting, airy. The sound is captivating.

Qrow has never wanted to kiss Clover more. He's never wanted to lean in so badly, never wanted to pull him close and keep him where it feels best. Keep him where it feels natural, where it feels right.

The thought is dangerous, but not more than a Sabyr.

It's not love.

(But that's not true.)

He merely shrugs and tosses out, "You watch me enough for the both of us."

Clover's expression falters only for a second. Probably less, yet Qrow catches it anyways. The hindrance is gratifying, in the same way that each clean slice through the small pack of Sabyrs was gratifying. He sees how Clover's countenance changes, watches how his lips curve with that same knowing smirk that makes Qrow feel inexplicably warm all over.

"You're stunning when you fight," Clover replies, the statement innocent enough, but Qrow knows better.

"Only when I fight?" Qrow asks. The words are rough in his throat, dragged out through the embers of need that smoulder low in his abdomen.

Clover hums that pleasant little hum of his, like it isn't a big deal. Like his eyes aren't heavy, like the tension that strung between them wasn't there. He turns to hop back into the transport when he says, "All the time, actually. You can't blame me for wanting to stare."

Qrow watches him for a bit, gaze dropping low, lingering for one tantalizing moment before he follows.

The way back is just as unbearable.

Qrow can't smell Clover's cologne anymore, already far too long into the day, no doubt drawn away by the tundra and the battle. Yet still, he wants to tuck his nose into the space just underneath Clover's jaw, breathe him in until it hurts, exhale long and slow until he can't anymore. He imagines how easy it'd be to sink lower from there.

How natural it'd feel to undo the button of Clover's trousers. To hook his fingers over the hem and pull them downwards, inch by agonizing inch. Nuzzle into Clover's inner thigh. Swallow him whole.

Qrow bites his lip. He looks out the window instead, willing the heat in his chest to fade, staring blankly out into the vast nothingness that surrounds them.

The tension is wire-tight.

It didn't take long between all the flirting until it finally snapped.

Clover's lips are messy where they slot with Qrow's, almost frantic, all heat and tongue and heady desire. Qrow's back is shoved hard into the wall where he's pinned to and his thoughts are largely incoherent. It's everything he needs, but he isn't sure if it's what he wants.

Qrow isn't good with keeping people. He isn't good at maintaining things that he so desperately wants. What he is good at is ruining what he's got going for him. Losing what he holds so dear, watching what makes his heart sing slip from his fingers with the same fluidity as sand through a sieve. He knows to separate what he should and shouldn't do. Who he should and shouldn't pursue.

And then there's Clover.

Clover, whose compliments make him feel like he could fly. Clover, whose subtle touches make his blood rush and his face burn. Clover, who he wants so desperately to cling to, craves so desperately to hold on to until he can't anymore.

Thinking is difficult. Whatever this is, is difficult. Hard to understand, nearly impossible to admit out loud.

This is easier; the need, the hunger. The way Clover paws at him through his clothes, the teeth that pull his lower lip, the taste of coffee and something distinctly sweet that dances on his tongue. He's used to this. He's used to the brief satisfaction once everything is said and done, used to moving in opposite directions like nothing ever happened.

He's used to lust and the greed of it. Something casual is easy to handle. Something that doesn't mean anything, something that's always easy to understand.

Except the thing between them isn't lust, necessarily. It's more than that. More than he's ever allowed himself to have, more than he knows how to stop.

It's frightening.

Their pace slows down at some point. The descent is gradual, easing up with the same yawning lull as a ship that pulls languidly into a harbor. Clover doesn't pin him so much as hold him, and their lips are lazy where they move together, and it speaks every word that Qrow is too afraid to admit, whispers every confirmation that he ever needed from Clover.

An arm snakes around Qrow's waist, and he melts into it, relishes in how Clover sighs low into the kiss. Qrow's lungs feel heavy. They're panting when they break away. Their breaths are hot where they coalesce between them, and Clover presses his forehead to Qrow's. He lets out something like a laugh. He looks more disheveled than Qrow has ever seen before.

Clover backs up just a bit, only to comb his fingers through Qrow's bangs. There's a stupid grin on his face - lopsided, messy, kiss-bruised and lazy. Yet it's different, somehow. It's soft. Raw.


He feels how Clover's other hand nudges lightly against his, asking for permission that Qrow tentatively gives. His fingers fit perfectly in the spaces between Clover's own. The intimacy of it all pulls at something in Qrow's chest.

Clover's gaze shifts between Qrow's eyes like he's searching for some elusive answer, waiting ever so patiently. There's something that dances in his eyes. Something hard to describe in the seafoam that simmers in a fine ring around his pupils, something that is etched onto his features as he cups Qrow's cheek.

Something that makes Qrow want to run.

It's not love, he reminds himself, time and time again, as if that will somehow make this easier to understand, easier to handle.

(And it's never true.)

After a while, Clover stays the night.

It breaks through this unspoken rule between them, shattering through with the same splintering screech as a dam that's been breached, crashing into every little barrier afterwards with the same tumultuous rush of a waterfall.

Qrow would try to stop it if it didn't feel so perfect.

Clover stays long after the sun sets. He stays long after Qrow settles in his lap, and even longer after he leaves Qrow panting, quaking. He stays long into the night, slipping under the covers smelling like Qrow's shampoo, wearing nothing more than an old pair of sweatpants that Qrow forgot he even had.

He eventually feels Clover shift. That side of the bed dips and yawns, and he hears the telltale whisper of skin sliding against the crumpled sheets beneath them, feels the chill of the night bite at his skin when the blanket is lifted from his waist.

Something in his gut twists, settling horribly in his stomach, pounding up into his throat until he's struggling to swallow. With his eyes fixed carefully shut, he waits impatiently for the bed to creak back into place, and then for the warmth to leave him. That's how this usually goes. That's how it always ends.

Instead, the blanket is tugged upwards, thrown haphazardly over his shoulders, and Clover sidles closer.

Clover's lips press to the junction where his neck meets his shoulder. There's a hand that trails up his arm from underneath the blanket, settling lightly on his bicep. Qrow is grateful that he manages to stop the shaky sigh that surges forth and pushes against the backs of his teeth.

The shock of it wears off slowly. Qrow doesn't remember the last time he's felt like this. Like he's on top of the world. Like he's something. Like he matters.

Clover moves higher. Over Qrow's jugular, against his jaw, right under his earlobe. It's gradual, melting over his skin with the same pleasant ease as the first weak rays of daybreak that melt into the sky. His lips brush against him, barely there, like a fleeting whisper that's breathed out into a silent night.

The touch is not quite a kiss, but Qrow feels the sentiment. Feels the patterns that are rubbed onto his skin, the slow breaths that warm his neck, the lips that eventually form silent words against the shell of his ear.

Love you.

Love you.

Love you so, so much.

Qrow holds his breath. Wills his heart to stop pounding up against his ribcage, wishes desperately that his lungs would work again. Something settles in his stomach, something giddy, something exquisitely lovely, and it's perilous. It's terrifying.

It's exhilarating.

Qrow turns to face him, settles as languorously as a midsummer breeze that seeps through an open window. Clover presses another feather-light kiss to his forehead, and his hand's a comforting weight over his bicep, and he's humming something low in his chest. Qrow's lips brush against Clover's jaw, and they move slowly, tentatively.

Love you, too.

( I always did .)

He can feel Clover's smile against his skin.