Inflation is a general and ongoing rise in the level of prices in an entire economy. Inflation does not refer to a change in relative prices. A relative price change occurs when you see that the price of tuition has risen, but the price of magic items has fallen. Inflation, on the other hand, means that there is pressure for prices to rise in most markets in the economy. In addition, price increases in the supply-and-demand model were one-time events, representing a shift from a previous equilibrium to a new one. Inflation implies an ongoing rise in prices. If inflation happened for one year and then stopped—well, then it would not be inflation any more.
The Firbolg frowns, willing the words to beam themselves directly into his head. They do not make sense, but they make more sense than his first accounting lecture did. He’s making progress, he has to keep telling himself, he’s working hard, he will not be cast out for his bad work again. He furrows his brow, shifting slightly where he is seated on the floor, beneath the sunshine of one of the room’s large windows, and starts the paragraph again.
“Inflation.” he murmurs aloud, then trails off as he settles to read, “Inflation…”
Somewhere in the middle of his third read-through, Fitzroy enters their suite and runs directly to his room. The Firbolg can ignore his rushing around, as he dashes from the bathroom to his bedroom to the common space, this is how he usually is after training. He’ll settle down when he gets out of his casual clothes and puts his hair up. Except, Fitzroy doesn’t settle down, and the laps from room to room grow faster, clothes pile up on the floor next to his bed. He puts on and pulls off his boots so many times that it hurts Firbolg’s feet just to listen to the sound. His breathing grows heavy, and he paces, holding up many hats and brooches to himself in front of the mirror. Eventually, he stops, reclining dramatically on the couch in the common area, and letting out a loud, laborious sigh. The Firbolg takes this as his cue to respond, and he puts a small stick in his book to keep his place.
“Something bothering you, friend?”
“Does this outfit make my calves look muscular?”
“Your legs look like always.”
“But do they look good?”
“Are you sure?”
“Do you want me to say no?”
“I don’t know! I want to, I want someone to tell me that I look good!”
“You look good.”
Crisis averted, he turns back to his book. Inflation is a general or ongoing…
“But would this outfit look better with the blue pants?”
The Firbolg shelves his book and gets up, going to stand next to his friend in front of the mirror.
“What is it you are dressing for?”
“I don’t know, it’s Friday, you know?” He shrugs, tugging at the clasp of his cloak, “I might go out, might see someone.”
“Might see.. Rainier?”
“Yeah, maybe.” Fitzroy says flatly, disinterested. He pauses for a moment, then turns back, picking up the blue pants from the floor. “But these would look better right?”
The Firbolg suddenly understands, remembering the day a few weeks ago when Fitzroy had bought the pants, showing them excitedly to Argo, saying that the color reminded him of his hair, telling him that now they could match when they modelled together for Boy Cloaks.
“You might see Argo.” A wide smile slowly spreads across his face. He knows he’s right when the half elf furiously blushes and balls the pants close to his chest. “You want to look nice for Argo!”
“Gods, gracious Firby be quiet!” He swats playfully at his chest, but he cannot resist a small smile of his own, “but you know, yeah, maybe. I invited him to come to the tavern after class with my notebook.”
He looks into the mirror for a long moment, running a distracted hand through his loose hair, then shakes himself into the present.
“But blue pants, yeah?”
“I think you will… wear them no matter what.”
He opens his mouth, holding up a thin, critical finger, but as the firbolg’s stare cuts him down again, he lowers it, electing to say:
The Firbolg goes back to his notes as Fitzroy changes. When he saunters back in front of the mirror for a final look, he’s lacking his usual swagger. He looks small, timid, his head slumps a little between his sagging shoulders. He fidgets with his hat, then knocks on the Firbolg’s door.
“Can I come in?”
Fitz walks weakly into the room, all but throwing himself onto the floor beside his friend, laying his head in the soft, mossy hair, letting a hand drape loosely across his shoulders.
“I’m nervous!” he shouts into the room, reclining across the Firbolg’s lap like a couch.
The Firbolg is used to the theatrics, they are unfamiliar to him as a Firbolg, but welcome as a friend. He knows how to soothe the nerves, and he starts to slowly pet the half-elf’s hair.
“You are nervous to see Argo? Or… because you like Argo?”
“I’m nervous that he’ll know I like him.”
“No you’re not.”
“You’re nervous he will not like you back… this is... different than him knowing.”
“I wouldn’t be super happy if he found out I liked him either.”
“Tell him. He will know. He can decide, and you will not have to be nervous.”
“It would be better than him finding out from someone else, for sure.”
“So tell him.”
“No. Tell him tonight. You Invited him to the tavern, so tell him.”
“But I’m nervous! That’s embarrassing!!”
“Look.” The Firbolg shifts, sitting Fitzroy up in between his strong legs, and righting the hat on his head. “What could be embarrassing about sharing love? Love is all around us, in the world, and we all feel it. Share your love, and you will be glad.”
“Is that some Firbolg code shit? ‘Cause that seems really deep for you.”
“This is… my own thoughts… on love.”
As the sun sets slowly behind the hills, giving the trees a golden halo, the campus erupts with activity. Fairies rouse themselves for a night of revelry, heroes and villains alike head to Last Hope for drinks, and many animals slowly tuck themselves back into the woods. In the last red light of day, Argo and Jackal stand in an empty training field, throwing knives at hay bales shaped like men.
Dagger after dagger, blade after blade, Jackal sinks knives deep into the targets. They are tightly clustered, all killing, wounding shots. They cut through the hay like a hot knife through butter, and his wrist is barely moving as he flicks them towards the targets, his face steely. This is routine, this is normal, this is what he does, and he does it well.
Argo tries to match his talent, staggering his daggers with Jackal’s consistent throws, but they are all bad. Some go behind the targets, some stick initially, but fall helplessly in front of the hay bales, and some are too short, thunking softly on the cooling grass. He throws harder, breathing heavier, putting strain on his shoulders and extending his elbow with everything he has, but not one blade has stuck yet. He turns away from the marks, pacing a few steps, and yells in frustration.
“Can one thing go right today?” If his hair wasn’t water, he’d be tearing at it.
Jackal laughs quietly, dropping the rest of his blades, “What’s your head full of, son?”
“Nothing, apparently! Obviously not rogue-ish skill!”
“Calm down, Argonaut. I asked you a question, and I really do want an answer. Slow, take stock, listen to yourself.”
What the hell does that mean? He opens his fists, letting his head fall to one side and the other. He tries to listen, to feel, to be.
“Well, I am pretty tired.”
“Good. What else?”
More? He fingers the hem of his shirt nervously. “I’m sore? Maybe my shoulder needs an adjustment or something.”
“Good, deep breaths, center yourself.”
They take a moment, Argo looks at his boots in the grass, nudging away a small rock, shaking his hands, wiggling his shoulders impatiently.
“Okay. That’s better. Back to throwing now?”
“No, that’s enough for today. I think you’re a little too distracted.”
“Wha- We just did the whole thing! I did the breath and meditation and whatever!”
“And still, you’re distracted.”
“What do you mean? Here, look.” He throws a quick knife, and it sticks in the target, “Right in the chest!”
“I’ve dealt with many high-strung people in my time, Argonaut. I know when someone needs something. Right now, I can tell something is weighing on you. Center yourself. Tell me how you feel.”
“I don’t know what you mean! Why don’t we get back to throwing?”
“Fine. You get three more throws before we talk.”
Swish, the last one sinks into the grass, missing the target completely, and when he returns it to Jackal, the Kenku asks him to sit.
“Now, tell me. What is bothering you?”
It’s hard to tell, and over a long moment, sitting still in the darkening air, Argo speaks.
“I’m afraid I’m not good enough.”
“Tell me more about that, Argonaut.”
“Everything is so much, the Thundermen, rouging, I feel too busy, like I’m stretched too thin. I hate lying to my friends, and sometimes I wish I could be better. I wish I could be enough for him.”
“Enough for whom, Argo?”
He freezes, realizing that in his soul, he honestly meant Fitzroy. He wants to be enough for Fitzroy.
“Uh, erm, just Wiggenpoof, I guess. Enough for the chain, the, the school and all.”
“Hm. I see.” He pretends to consider for a moment, but he has already decided to be benevolent, he knows young love when he sees it, and he wants to help his protege where he can. “Well, take the weekend, go have a drink, and come back less distracted.”
“Any ideas on how to do that?”
“I’m sure the knight you are friends with could help you out.” Jackal’s smile is telling, but Argo will not listen.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” God, is it that obvious?
“I’ve met many a lovesick sailor in my time, I know one when I see one.”
Argo just grumbles in protest, burying his face in his chest. Jackal is already stalking away, and he flicks a sack of gold pieces over his shoulder.
“Clean up, then have a drink on me!”
The walks back and forth from the targets don’t clear his mind, but as he settles everything between his training bag, his knapsack, and his coin purse, his thoughts distill. They are loud, overwhelming, and waves of worry and guilt crash over him, but he has the weekend. He has time, permission, and a pocket of gold to spend.
I have feelings for him. I have feelings for this stupid magical knight.
When he leaves the training field, feeling richer, it is completely dark. He walks to the tavern slowly, practicing mindfulness, being present, just thinking.
Maybe telling Fitzroy about my feelings wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe I would be less distracted if I got things off my chest.
The air is fresh in his face, all is well, if a little muddled. The night is clear, but he has a lot to think about. He jams his hands into his pockets, and keeps walking.
In the tavern, Fitzroy is talking to no one and everyone. The band is playing smooth jazz, and it makes him sentimental. He’s spent years listening to these old ritzy songs too loudly in his bedroom. He’s spent so long wishing for the romance they describe. He summons Snippers, letting him dance around on the bar, and talks to Barb and her spectral hawk. All is well and good for a while, but as the night gets colder, the bar filling with golden, red, and then blue light, his mood steadily declines.
“I wrote in the book of farspeech hours ago, Snippers. He was supposed to come!”
Snippers bubbles encouragingly.
“Oh and I had it all planned out too, I was gonna sit him down, buy a drink for his pretty little self, ask him to dance, smell his cologne, let him talk about training or whatever, let him say whatever he wants, and then I was gonna get him. You remember how I showed you the smoulder?”
He doesn’t wait for a response from the crab.
“I was gonna give him the smoulder, look into those magnificent eyes of his, and tell him ‘Argo. Do you remember when we first met? And I was excited about sharing a room with you? What if we did that… forever?’ And it would be cheesy but perfectly quotable to our children and our parents and ‘what if we did this forever’ would be in our wedding vows and on our Christmas cards. It would be us. It would be perfect.”
He sighs dramatically, putting his head in his hands on the bar.
“What happened, Snippers? Was my invite too flirty?”
Snippers scuttles down the bar, gesturing with one claw to a bottle of vodka, and throwing his head back as if taking a shot.
“Oh yeah, You trying to party Snippers? You wanna channel Festo?”
Snippers raises two claws.
“Maybe shots aren’t a bad idea. Barkeep!”
The tavern is in full swing when Argo finally enters. Jazz cascades through the windows, and the warm yellow light is inviting. He takes a pause at the door, a deep breath, then pushes into the crowd. He finds his regular table, close to the back, and orders a drink while watching the band. He twirls one of the gold coins through his fingers nimbly, content to sit and think.
Eventually, inspiration strikes. He has the perfect idea for a new beverage: it's spicy, limey. Carbonated? Oh he’s gotta write this down, tell Firby, tell Fitz? Maybe, who would like it the most? He fumbles with his bag, bringing out his notebook.
‘New drink recipe:’ he starts, with his quill, but strange inky text appears beneath his words.
Meet me at the tavern tonight? XX Sir Fitzroy.
Shit. He must have missed the invitation. Is he here now? Oh man he must be so disappointed. Oh no. He lifts his head to check for him, but he doesn’t need to look for long. The blond is already bounding towards him, righting his brooch and straightening his cloak.
“Hey Argo.” he tries and fails to be nonchalant.
“Hey boyo! I’m so sorry I missed your note. I was trainin-”
“Don’t mention it! I’m over it. You’re here now and I’ve had time to get a little tipsy.” He laughs, and the crab on his shoulder dances a little. “C’n I sit?”
“Uh, yeah?” Fitzroy is already flopping onto the bench beside him. “A little tipsy, huh?”
“Yeah.” A great, greedy smile erupts, and Argo feels himself falling. He is so happy right now, just a sunny, melty boy in his arms. He could do this forever.
Argo moves Snippers so he can hold Fitzroy’s head in his hands, looking at the flushed face, wishing he could kiss him. That would be bad, right? Maybe we should have a talk first.
“Stupid little barbarian. You trying to party?”
“Not alone.” Gods, he’s flirty like this. “Dance with me, rogue.”
He’s stumbling, trying to get up from the table, his hand grasps the corner to push up, but Argo catches it. He’s thinking about the late night tangoes and frankly violent jazz squares that he’s performed in their dorm room, music blaring from all sides, arms flailing in the air. He can’t execute those just now, and Argo would be a sorry accomplice.
“Woah there, boyo, are you feeling okay? We don’t gotta dance if you’re too far gone.”
“We don’t gotta dance, but I want to. What if you just hold me and sway?”
So they dance, smooth jazz pouring over them. Argo feels a little out of place at first, as they’re alone in the center of the floor, but eventually they melt into each other. Fitz’s head fits so well underneath his chin. They could do this forever.
They maintain a constant rhythm, even as the music speeds and slows, the moment is theirs.
Fitzroy is suffering. He is so warm, and the strong arms of his dance partner around him make him feel like he’s burning. He smells Argo’s sweat, the last remnants of his cologne, and the cool night air. His love comes back into him with a fury, and more than alcohol bubbles deep in his belly. He is overwhelmed, overcome, and it’s crushing.
The music fades slowly, and the chatter and din of the crowd lessens. His heartbeat slows, and his breathing sounds loudly in his ears. Everything condenses to just the one point: He loves Argo, and he’s crashing hard.
“So I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something.” He starts, the words building a bridge into unknown territory.
“What’s that, Bud?”
He realizes his words are muffled by Argo’s chest, so he lifts his head. Looking up into the deep blue eyes.
“I wanted to tell you that I want to…. I want to do this forever.’
Argo laughs a little, putting gentle fingers on his forehead.
“We can do this for a little longer, but this bar’s gonna close soon.”
“No I want. I want this. You and me together. Forever.”
Argo’s heart swells, he bursts with love, but he quells it, stiffening and pulling his hands a little but upwards on Fitzroy’s back.
He’s drunk, you’re the responsible one here.
“Thunderman LLC will last for a long time, not to worry.”
“Argonaut Keene, listen!” He’s fuming now, and the tips of his ears are reddening slightly.
“Always listening, friend. Tell me.”
“Remember when we met?”
“I was so excited to make friends, to be with other people…”
“You had a weird way of showing it.”
“I know it seems that way but for me, in my heart, it was just so freeing to be myself. To be here, with you.”
“I still feel that way. I still am excited to have you, to be with you… and--”
“I guess what I’m trying to say is,” Fitzroy is bouncing on his heels, looking intensely into Argo’s face, several drinks coursing through him, ready, excited. “I’ve been in love with you for a long, long, time.”
It catches both of them off guard. The words drop off suddenly, and they both are in a new world they can’t recognize. Argo’s mind is racing. What does this mean?
“Fitzroy,” Argo starts. He’s insistent, and speaks softly, too slowly, putting a hand on the shorter man’s shoulder. He shouldn't, he can’t confess and he knows it, but the waves of logic and reason crash meaninglessly against his stubborn head. He wants to, he has him here, what would be the sin in seeing where this goes?
He takes too long, rests sad eyes on Fitz’s forehead for too much of a moment, and he starts to panic.
“Fuck, that’s not good.”
“No, no hey. Listen to me, Fitzroy. I…” He sighs, crouching slightly, pulling his chin up to meet his gaze. “I have feelings for you too, boyo, have for a while, but this is a talk we need to have in the morning, when you’re feeling better.” He shouldn’t have said that, he should be more resolute, but his heart stands like a rock against his better knowledge.
“I’m feeling pretty okay now, baby. How ‘bout a kiss?” Fitzroy sways in the warm tavern light, and they both know how tempting his little grin is.
He can’t, he shouldn’t. Argo turns the half-elf away from him, not taking away his guiding hand.
“How ‘bout we go to bed? I’ll make you a cup of water.”
“And you’ll hold me?”
He shouldn’t but he’s so sweet.
“And I’ll hold you. A little bit.”
The smile Fitzroy has could light Argo’s life for years, it’s like the sun, he could spend hours bathing in it. They walk back to the school cheerfully, with Fitzroy putting a little more weight than he needs to in Argo’s arms. He shouldn’t hold him, but he does. He fits here so well, and they could do this forever.
They go through the routine together, changing the fancy boy’s clothes, pulling off the heavy boots and fine jewelry, and putting him down onto his many mattresses. Then, Argo climbs into bed behind him, tucking a shy hand over his chest.
“Hmm, Big spoon.” Fitzroy hums, and Argo can hear the megawatt smile.
“Big spoon.” He repeats, running loose fingers in circles through his hair.
He feels that same guilt rush back, filling his mind until it feels like a headcold. He shouldn’t, he can’t. Fitzroy doesn’t know anything about him, this self he’s presenting at school isn’t real, isn’t him. Fitzroy fell in love with a boy he could never have, and he can’t be that for him.
He sees the firbolg in their shared room, just settling down. He waits until his back is turned, slips his arm out from under Fitzroy’s head, and leaves, stalking back into the night.
When Fitzroy awakes, Argo is gone. The cup of water by his bedside is evidence that he had been there, but the room is empty and cold. He can see the firbolgs small pile of moss in the other room, but Argo’s bed is empty.
He sits, dejected, alone, sipping on the lukewarm water.
Across the hall, Argo sits upside down in a beanbag chair. His heeled boots touch the wall lightly and his hands graze the ground. He takes a few deep breaths, fully aware of the eyes on him.
“So…” Rainier prompts.
“So then I left.”
“And that’s why you came here to the totally planned, very pre-thought-out, magic rogue necromancer training session?” She counts her fingers on one hand, recounting the lie she’d sworn to upkeep a few minutes ago.
“Yeah. Do you think he’ll buy that?”
“Shit, I don’t know Argo, it depends how good you are at lying.”
“I don’t want to lie to him.”
“Then what are you doing here?”
He pauses, considering. “I just- I’m worried about doing this again.”
“About falling in love?”
“Not necessarily, but yeah, just loving, being with someone.”
“Have you been with anyone before?” despite her wriggling eyebrows and soft smile, Argo decides to answer the more charitable version of her question.
“This would be my first real relationship, like romantically, and I’m worried about the commitment of it all.”
“Because how can one love when one’s heart belongs to the sea?” She holds a teasing hand up to her forehead as if she’s fainting.
“Not the sea, really, but there’s something about…. I was a pirate, Rainier.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“I don’t think you do. Ma tried her best to raise me to do right but, doing right by your crew, by your ship, it means different things than what you guys would consider good.”
“But you’re here now, right? You’re learning just with everyone else.”
“There’s something that sticks with you when you grow up on the sea, there’s some hunger-- or some ruthlessness that you can’t control. I’m like, a full on pirate, a rogue. I feel like I’m not meant for love.”
“That’s a lot of big feelings there.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“But I mean no one’s perfect right? And like, least of all Fitzroy. If the two of you found happiness in the meantime, would that really be so bad?”
“No, not bad. Scary, overwhelming, and potentially heartbreaking yeah, but maybe not so bad.”
“There you go! Maybe you two have a talk and see where it goes from there.”
The talk doesn’t come soon. There are lots of long glances, open mouthed stares, and almost-conversations that are suddenly abandoned. They both don’t know what to do. Argo uses the Firbolg as a human shield, ducking in and out of doorways behind him. Fitzroy goes out with his villain friends more often, spending longer and longer nights in shorter and tighter clothes. Everyone notices, and whispers follow them in the hallways, but no one makes a move.
Their next mission finds the Thundermen in an awfully tough spot. They hadn’t been prepared for this type of magic, and all three men are suffering under a kind of psychic curse.
The magic transports them to three different planes. Magic, lightning, and hot burning winds surround them. Their enemy is long gone from the cave, leaving them to weather the curse alone.
Fitzroy handles it the best, some combination of his experience with chaos and the wild magic he already possesses lessens the effects for him. It’s still awful, and he feels heavy weight in his chest. Frantic, panting sobs leap from him with a mind of their own as he slumps against a wall of the cave.
He’s there, down to the last tile on the floor. He’s there. He can still smell the faint burning, the smoke from the fire. He’s there, the vision is so complete, so pure. His hair is shorter, and his armor and cloak is gone. He feels so lonely, so stupid, so unlucky as he stands in front of the classroom at Clyde Nite’s.
He can hear the taunting voices of his classmates, and he’s staring at the stupid candle on the podium. Why won’t it light? Why is he so stupid? Why can’t he do this? Godammit all I need is for this candle to light, please, please, please.
He feels himself let go, feels the first hot wild magic surge of many. He can feel how scared he is, like tangibly, the fear is on his skin and in his nose. He explodes, and he already knows what he’s going to see when he turns around.
It was the worst day of his life. He’s there again.
The Firbolg crashes to the ground. He hears a soft hum as his vision turns green. He’s back in the forest, and his hair is long. His clothes melt away as he sits peacefully on the floor of his hut. For a moment, he almost relaxes into the scene, wishing that it was real, but as his father erupts into the room he is in, he remembers why it can’t be. Guttural fear grips every inch of his form as he cowers beneath the larger man, and they both stare in stunned silence for a moment at the forbidden object he is holding. He knows he shouldn’t have bought the scroll, but the woman at the market was so nice, and her eyes spoke secrets that he hoped to know. He wanted to learn, to research, and he wished that the runes he bought could help his people. He wished to understand more of the runes, more of the magic, more of the universe. He had just wanted to learn.
Unfortunately, no one else saw it that way, least of all his father. When the screaming starts, his mind just blanks out. He’s heard the words echoing in his mind so many times that he can no longer remember what they said, but he gets the point. He has to leave, he has to run, he can’t be here.
It was the worst day of his life, it ruined everything he’d ever known. He’s there again.
The three men lay there for a moment, suffering under the emotional weight of living those days over. They are dying, they are drained, they are wounded. Eventually, Fitzroy is able to prop himself up a little. He knows it's an illusion. He clutches at his chest and pants violently, trying to ground himself. As the white light of his magic and the visuals of the scene slowly fade from his mind, he sees the Firbolg across the room. He is on all fours, weeping large, hot tears onto the ground. They see each other, locking eyes for a while. They will not speak of this.
It takes a beat for both of them before they look over to Argo, and see that he is writhing in pain. His back is arched against the stony floor of the cave and sweat is beading down his arms. He is in so much pain.
It hits Argo the worst. He is sent spiraling into darkness, falling alone down into the void before he wakes with a start. His back hits hard against wood, and the salty wind smacks his face. He is alone on a violent, turbulent sea. Alone on his ship. He doesn’t have experience with magic, and while the other thundermen were stuck in their days aware of the nightmarish quality to it all, there is no reason Argo should not believe that he is there.
The Moriah, his beautiful ship, his everything. He’s there. He’d forgotten how sturdy she was, how the brilliant wood shone in the sun. He’s there, with her, and everything is fine.
Well, not fine, as he is alone on the ship. His men are scattered around Moriah in the waves, and a large black tendril is stretching out from the sea. He shakes himself, suddenly remembering where he is, on his ship, with his ship. He has to take care of his men.
“Captain!” He calls up to the helm as the waves crash around him. “Ma! Come down!”
There is no answer. He scrambles up to her quarters, shouting excuses, reasons to live in vain.
“You don’t have to go down with her, come on! Please!”
She will not answer, hands gripping the railing tightly. Moriah is sinking, and so will Shebrie.
He looks at her, his Captain, his mother, and the ship, his everything, his home. This is the last time he will see them, what does one do when they realize that? What can you say to the damned? He stands wavering, and feels someone push him.
The next sensation is the sea, water pushes its way into his mouth, he is sobbing. He screams, covered in salt, and all he can think to say is
“Moriah” croaks the rogue on the ground, and Fitzroy puts a careful ear closer to his face.
“What’s that, Argo?”
“Moriah…” he cries again, and Fitzroy’s heart breaks.
Of course. He’s never loved me, he’s in love with Moriah.
He screams inside his vision, calling out to someone, willing the ship to raise herself out of the sea. The rough hands that grabbed him still hold his waist, but they loosen slowly, slipping from his form as he wriggles, looking for driftwood, looking toward the ship. He realizes, feeling awfully pained and sick, that the first mate was beneath him, and he was holding him above the waves as the ship sunk. He was, at least, until he drowned.
He’s killed two people today, he’s lost his captain and his first mate. He’s lost Moriah , he’s lost everything.
How could anyone ever love him again?
It was the worst day of his life, he’s there again.
It takes so long, too long for him to wake. Finally, slowly, the violent sky fades. He can feel the drying tears on his face and he blinks in the familiar surroundings. He is back at the school. Fitzroy and Firby are by his side, and he is under many blankets.
“Hello, Argo.” The firbolg’s deep voice is welcome among the waves of fear and uncertainty, but Fitzroy looks blank. Something happened, and they are broken now.
That night is long, and they all cry before it is over. Deep sobs erupt from Argo’s chest whenever he tries to explain what he saw, and he ends up curled in the Firbolg’s lap.
“I killed someone, and I lost Moriah , how could anyone ever love me?”
A few rooms away, Fitzroy sits with Rainier, calming himself over a cup of tea.
“He’s lost someone important to him, he’s had his great love, there’s nothing left there for me.”
Weeks later, in the early morning, Argo walks to class. He feels light for the first time in a while, happy and safe. He practically floats down the hallways, nodding to everyone he passes. When he sees Higglemas, he waves.
The look he gets back from the principal is frightening. His eyes go wide and he uses a quick hand to rush Argo into his office. His head is reeling from the sharp turn when the door closes behind him.
“Woah, hey, good morning to you too, Higgs.”
“What are you doing here, Argo?” The elf hisses through gritted teeth.
“Going to class? Is that not what I’m supposed to be doing at school?”
“I thought I sent you three on a mission this morning? Did Fitzroy not tell you?”
“I haven’t seen him since last night…” he realizes just how empty his room had been when he was getting ready this morning. “Shit. Do you think he went alone?”
“Looks like it.”
Stupid little headstrong knight.
He’s off inside an hour, riding fast towards the woods where Fitzroy was sent, praying quietly that he would still be safe when he got there.
He finds him outside a tavern, bruised and bleeding. He curses under his breath, but also let's out a shaky gasp. He’s so, so thankful, if not a little angry.
“Dammit Fitzroy.” he rushes to dismount his horse, and runs up to the man, assessing him. “What did you do?”
“I’m a villain, Argo, I’m meant to do things alone.” He raises a bloodied hand to wipe the back of his mouth, “This is my mission, to do alone, without sidekicks.”
“Surely I'm more than just a sidekick to you, Fitzroy. I’m COO, remember?”
He draws in a long breath again. “That’s temporary.”
“Not if you don’t want it to be.” He shouldn’t he can’t, but the words feel warm and good as they spring from him, they ignite his chest. “We could do this forever, if you would have me.”
Fitzroy seems hesitant, but the words stirred something in him. He takes Argo’s hand in his.
“Say it again? I want it to be perfect.”
“We could do this, you and me, forever.” He scoops him up into a hug, “I’ll hold you as long as you want, boyo.”
Sure, the story’s not over, and they have many more nights spent drinking, worrying, talking, kissing; but no one’s perfect, and they’re happy in the meantime, so what’s the harm?