The sudden lack of pain cannot possibly be a good sign. Neither is that the sounds of storm and battle have gone away with it, the change in ambient noise as sudden as with a Teleport. There are also arms around him, and he seems to be lying half in someone’s lap, half on the sand, with ocean waves lapping at his feet, instead of on the hard wood of the ship’s deck. The nauseating, metallic stench of his own blood is gone, and only the smell of salt water remains.
He opens his eyes.
The familiar face of the Wildmother stares back at him. He’s cradled in Her arms, and they’re on a beach filled with light, instead of on a boat on a stormy night.
A sense of dread sinks through his chest, much like a blade had done mere moments ago. Seeing Her usually fills him with warmth, but not this time. Because if She’s here…
Shit, he thinks. “It’s wonderful to see you,” he says instead. It’s always an honor, he reminds himself, even if She’s here to take back the life She gave you. He cannot blame Her for rescinding Her gift.
She laughs, and the sound reminds him of the wind through the trees, of the seagulls welcoming his ship to harbor. He can’t help but smile back, happy to be there if just for a moment, to see and hear Her, before plunging into the dark.
“You are not going to stay dead, Fjord,” she says as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “I’m not here to take your soul to the Raven Queen, just to offer you some comfort while you wait.” She frowns a little. “You’ve had a rough day.”
The ball of dread in his stomach lessens, but only a bit. “How do you know…” He cringes as soon as the words leave his mouth. “I’m sorry. Of course. You’re an all-knowing goddess, I’m an idiot.”
She laughs again, without judgment. “I have no knowledge of the future, but I know my Clay.” The fondness in Her voice is as plain as the sun above them. “And I have to say, I’ve never seen him this angry.” She raises her eyebrows and smirks.
Caduceus. His heart twinges a little. His chest is filled with an urgency to go back to his side, to protect him from the monster that has just taken Fjord’s life. The idea of that abomination anywhere near his cleric is horrifying. Melora sees his expression growing worried, and brings up a hand to cup his face.
“He loves you, you know.”
It knocks the air out of Fjord’s lungs. He fights against the instinct that tells him that it’s not true, that there’s no way someone like him could be deserving of Caduceus’ affection. It’s the same voice that drowns his every other thought every time Caduceus looks at him, the one that tells him that what he sees in the firbolg’s eyes is nothing but a product of his imagination. But She’s telling him that his suspicions are true, and it sounds like a threat. Maybe you should do something about it is implied.
Fjord is not the wisest, but he gets the message. He swallows around the hope choking his throat. “He’s the best person I’ve ever met. I’m a lucky guy.”
She smiles again, satisfied. She’s running Her thumb across his cheekbones in a caress. “I am lucky as well, to have him serve me. Here he comes; I’ll return you to him now.” She bends over to kiss his forehead, and he closes his eyes.
The sound of chaos returns like a crashing wave, overwhelming in its intensity, along with the smell, the pain, and the wooden floor, but there’s still someone kissing his forehead. There are also hands pressing down on his chest. He opens his eyes to find Caduceus’ crying face a couple of inches from his own, weaving healing spells between sobs. His wounds knit back together with the magic of the Wildmother, and he takes a gulp of air.
“You’re okay, Fjord, you’re okay, you’re okay…” Caduceus keeps repeating, like he’s trying to convince himself more than Fjord. He’s lying on top of him, too weak to stand back up after the adrenaline crash, without sparing a thought on the fact that his clothes are getting stained with Fjord’s blood.
At least the wound is completely closed now, and the pressure of a body on top of Fjord’s is almost welcome. He needs him, he needs to feel Caduceus close after almost being taken away from him for good. He reaches up to grab Caduceus’ face in his hands and brings his head down to kiss him. Caduceus’ lips go slack with surprise for a moment, then he kisses back like his life depends on it. After a minute their lips break apart but their foreheads remain pressed together, close enough to share breath.
Caduceus is shaking above him. “I love you,” he whispers, and it’s followed by a hiccup.
“I love you too,” Fjord replies in awe, out of breath. “Thank you for bringing me back.”
It only makes Caduceus sob harder and pull him closer for a hug, still on the ground with the heavy rain falling upon them. Fjord hears Beau calling his name, and out of the corner of his eye he can see Orly coughing back to life under Jester’s glowing hands, but none of that matters right now. Because he’s back, and Caduceus is in his arms, and he truly is the luckiest guy alive.