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Swelling Seas

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Tell the keeper to wait for me

The moon must see something I don't see

 

Argo closes the door to his room, and sneaks through the long expanse of hallway into the night. He is going to meet Jackal, the mysterious figure who approached him earlier in the Tavern. He seems to know an awful lot about Argo, even though he had never seen him before. 

 

The moon hangs low in the sky, almost tired, heavy with the secrets she must know. 

 

As the crisp night air fills his lungs, he takes long strides towards the classroom where they agreed to meet. Towers in all directions stretch forever into the sky, and he is reminded how small he is, surrounded by the lofty creations of those who came before him. The world is endless, open and ready to receive, but he feels cornered. He has been placed here, told to stay.

 

He hates that his tragedy has followed him here, that someone at this school had even heard of Moriah , or knows Shebrie. Even all the way across the planet, he was still her little boy. He still shares her smile, wears her colors on his kerchief. He is still a pirate, the son of a captain first and foremost. 

 

He swears under his breath as he kicks rocks idly on the stone path, pondering what could have been. 

 

If no one at this school had known him, If he had the time, he would have been content to start over. He ran away for a reason, he came to this place for the promise of reinventing himself. Sure, Fitzroy and the Firbolg are alright, they mean well and all, but being a Thunderman wasn’t exactly a marketable skill for his future. Everything up to this point had just kind of happened, and he was waiting for graduation day like no other. He wanted the chance to be normal, to get out of the school and into the world. He wants to prove that he can  keep his head down, be a sidekick, work hard and long until he is by the Commodore’s side again.

 

If no one knew him, he could have disappeared, he could have had his revenge quietly.

 

 Now, it seems, he has to prepare to go out with a bang.

 

Fitzroy stirs, waking from his trance, and silently lights a candle near the doorway. He’s only known the genasi for a few weeks, but he can tell he’s scared of the dark, or at least uncomfortable without the light. Hopefully the sneaking out stops soon, hopefully they’ll grow to trust each other enough to talk in the open. Until then, he’ll keep a candle, he’ll guide him home.

 

 

I'm hot steel ready for molding, Like the waves were meant for folding

 

As the brand hisses into his wrist, Argo tries his best not to flinch. The white-hot pain is blinding for just a moment. It screams and sputters against his skin, and steam drifts off of his hair, creating a humid bubble around him. He’s panicking, trapped in between the mist and the blistering, agonizing pain. His face twists involuntarily, and he holds his breath as his eyes well with tears. 

Breathe in, Breathe out. The torture lasts only a moment, the symbol lasts a lifetime.

He is closer now, following his mother’s footsteps. He is a part of her inner circle, and what he hopes is the commodore’s inner circle too. He will do what needs to be done, say the words, take the pledge, take the name, work until he has revenge.

When he graduates, he will go back to the Moriah , hopefully The Chain can get him through the ranks quickly, and he’ll meet him, smite him. No mercy, no hesitation, no last words. 

As the pain fades, soft cloth quickly wrapped around his glowing scar, and the golden chain necklace finds its place on his neck, he is at peace. He floats through the rest of the day, through Fitzroy’s babbling at lunch, through training, through correcting Firby’s math papers. Life seems easier, simpler, lighter. 

As he walks quickly down the hall, his legs skittering over stone, he glances in the mirror. Then, he sees her, or himself in her? Herself in him?

He sees Shebrie, and just how much she looks like her, wide, kind eyes, matching brands, matching ambitions. He is closer to her, closer to his revenge. He has her coin on his neck, and her laugh in his throat. The smile on his face, all sharp white teeth, could swallow a roomful of doubts. 

 

That night, he sleeps soundly. Deep, silent dreams envelop him, carrying him back to the sea. 

Fitzroy hears him whimper in pain every time he rolls over onto his wrist. He gets up slowly, and pokes at the bandages, exposing the compass brand burned into the soft skin.

Why? What drives a person to mar themselves? To carry pain like this with them forever?

Surely this is normal sidekick stuff, right? Even if it wasn’t, how do you have that conversation?

 

I am the swelling sea

You're the moon pulling on me

Sayin' all in time, all in good time

All in time, all in good time

 

Argo thought he knew about chains. He had spent years on the sea, and was supposed to be well-versed in ropes, chains, netting. He wanted to be strong, but as the devil whips tail after tail at him, metal catching and pulling his skin, he drops, falling onto his knees.

 

How are you still so weak? How are you so stupid? What would she think? What would your crew think? 

 

He’s dying, splotches of purple, red, and yellow forming all over his limbs, and bleeding from a gash in his head.

 

He’s dying. He’s going to die without his revenge, without continuing the Keene legacy.

 

At least she’ll be there, wherever he goes when he’s gone. Hopefully she’ll be there, looking healthy, kind, dignified at her helm. 

Everything is hazy, dark, sodden. He can almost taste the salt of the black murky waters when 

Something….

 

Something moves in the dark.

There’s warm hands behind his head and a liquid running through his lips.

He’s alive.

 

Fitzroy, looking handsome as ever, if not a little flustered from the rage, holds him in his arms, and heals him.

 

What kind of villain does this for a sidekick? Wasn’t he supposed to be replaceable?

 

“Hey bud.” God, it feels good to hear words again, he didn’t know how long he’d been out, but it was enough for him to be aware of a distinct lack of sound.

Every sense is precious in those first few moments, and Argo even treasures the sickly sweet medicine that stays on the tip of his tongue. Fitzroy seems to glow, his words are angelic, and he’s close enough to smell his awful cologne mixed with sweat from the exertion of the fight.

 

When he finally speaks, he’s careful not to sound too lovestruck, using the commanding voice he learned as a way to order the crew above the noise of the waves.

 

“Hey. Thanks.”

 

That mission sparked something in him, a kind of compulsion. He owes Fitzroy now, owes him a life debt, and he set about another mission of his own. 

 

He watched Fitzroy, studied him, picking up little mannerisms and habits. 

 

At first, he convinced himself that it was all for Jackal, and focuses on what he says about his family, his past, his home.

But slowly, eventually, he begins to notice the way he tugs at his curls when he’s nervous, his favorite rings to fiddle with and slip in between his fingers, how he always sets his knife to the left of his fork, and how his hands shake in the early morning. 

He examines his lips, initially watching for certain words, but he ends up memorizing the way he talks, how his entire body lights up, the little lifts at the end of his sentences, the sparkle in his eyes. He learns the way his jaw clenches when he’s stressed or in pain, little balls of muscle bobbing up and down.

 

He imagines how it would sound to hear him say ‘I love you.’ It’s a frightening thought at first, but it makes his heart feel warm every time he thinks it.

 

Slowly, he falls, allowing himself to feel it, to want it, to imagine it.

 

 

 

I am a pendulum clock that swings

You are ever so patient with me

 

The next weeks unfold slowly. Long days find the three of them together, learning, living.

 

Argo stops meeting with Jackal so often, and walks Fitzroy to class. They spend many nights in the library, pouring over homework and old spellbooks. 

 

Slowly, he’s becoming consumed. He feels like he’s drowning in all of these new emotions, all this love, and it has nowhere to go. He has nowhere to go. For better or worse, he’s stuck here, stuck at school, committed to being a sidekick.

 

Every time he sees Jackal again, or his eyes focus too long on his wrist, or the candlelight catches against his chain, he’s reminded of why he came here. He came to work, to get revenge, to kill. There shouldn’t be time for a love story, there shouldn’t be space for anything but himself. He should be alone, simple, humble, just like he used to be. 

 

They both feel the tension, something isn’t right. Something big, something that could be detrimental if spoken aloud. They ignore it as long as they can, fluttering around each other as you would in a fight, careful not to engage.

 

But god, does Argo want to engage. He wants Fitzroy’s hands all over him, wants to pull his head permanently into his chest. He wants so many more long afternoons, to sketch him in the sun, to pick flowers for his hair, to spend days drawing maps and recounting stories from the sea. There just isn’t time. He can’t. He shouldn’t.

 

He allows himself a tender thought that night he cooks dinner for the Thundermen, as he looks at Fitzroy’s blushing face, sputtering about the spice and laughing about sweet creams and treats. 

 

Look at him, this beautiful boy, trusting you, his laughter echoing across the stone. It’s almost as if he was given to you, made for you, you are both here for this.

 

He thinks it again when Fitzroy tells him he has a secret.

 

“Argo, there is something I haven’t told you, and I know there is something you haven’t told me..”

 

The words you are both here for this echo once again in his head, and the fateful words, a confession of love almost bubbles out from him unintentionally. 

He thanks whatever powers that be that he waited before saying something stupid, but now he as to deal with everything going on with Higglemas, it is quickly becoming apparent that they are not meant for each other.

 

He thinks it again late that night, as he watches Fitzroy sleep in his chair by the fireplace. He really is sleeping, poor thing. He must be so exhausted.

 

You cannot both be here for this, there is not enough time. You can’t stay here long enough to have him.

 

 

This surface is covered with craters, Only your white light can fill

 

“Um… Larry the Lime had quite a situation on his hands. His two best friends, uh, Carrot and… Pear… were really havin‘ some issues with each other,”

As he holds Fitzroy in his arms, his face all white and damp with sweat, Argo knows that what he feels is more than a crush.

He’s protective, he’s invested. He’s ready to kill this entity that is causing the knight pain. He’s so much more than a friend now, he’s an ally, he’s the force standing between Fitzroy and the world.

 

He’s his sidekick, the best one there is, one that is loyal, brave, true to only his villain. 

 

That night, watching him at his bedside, Argo is re-dedicated to the cause.He can hear the tide roll in over the horizon, and he knows which rivers in these woods lead back to it, but he shakes himself, and turns back towards Fitzroy.

 He never felt this way about anyone before, about any of his pirate missions or sailing trips. Surely, that makes this special. Surely, at least to him, Fitzroy is special.

“I love you.” He whispers into clasped, prayerful hands.  

He allows himself to smile, and to mouth the words again.

“I love you.”

 

 

Come like some swift strong tide

 

Fitzroy taunts the crowd of centaurs, a severed bloody hand held loosely in his own. Argo feels warm sprays of blood across his face, and sees the horror in everyone else’s eyes, but he cannot bring himself to fear Fitzroy. He sees his friend, his partner, the man he loves. He sees his sickly pallor, even now as he performs for the centaurs. He sees Fitzroy in pain, trying with everything he has to feel better.

 

Argo casts create water,  helping to put out the fires Fitzroy set.

 

“Tell me you picked up the pieces of the apple that I took a bite out of.” Fitzroy looks up at Argo expectantly.

 

The rogue laughs, taking in the worried eyes and cherishing the way they light up with happiness. “Of course I did. Oh, yes. I have very high sleight of hand skills, and when they were all in deep discussion, I picked em up. Yeah. I got em in my pocket.”

 

Fitzroy sighs, contentedly, and laughs along. “I love you.” It’s quiet, Argo was almost convinced it wasn’t real.

“What’s that, boyo?”

 

“Nothing. I- Thank you.”

 

Like the dawn

 

In the clearing in the forest, they share a quiet moment. A campfire crackles, the pegasi stamp quietly around in the grass, and as they wait for a response from Rainier, Fitzroy seizes the moment.

 

"I love you.. Being around you, I love you, I think" 

 

Argo sees his lips form the words, and his breath hitches. Everything in the world is condensed to one, large, silence. 

 

“What?”

 

"I loove youu? I love you. No, too blunt. Is it too blunt? Oh dear, did you? Is it? Can- Are you okay? Are you going to have a heart attack?! Can Genasi have heart attacks? Do Genasi have hearts?? No, getting off topic again. I love you, dearly, you complete me. Woah, I know that’s a lot, phew okay, so much, too much! Uh, I love you.” 

 

When Argo looks at him, he sees the future. Well, a future. Something that could be, a better life for him. One without the lonely nights on the Moriah or some other god-forsaken ship; a life free from expectations and revenge. He sees a legacy they could create together.

He’s lost for a moment, stuck in this new future, attached.

Then, he sees his mother, and he realizes he can't say it back, no matter how much he feels it, how everything within him swells. He cannot love him, too. There is not enough time.

 

“A big distraction? Yeah, I can do that!” The notebook of farspeech chimes.

 

“Argo. Say something.”

 

Argo opens his mouth, no sound comes out. The Firbolg waves to them.

 

“Alright.  Uh… let’s, uh… let‘s get movin.” Fitzroy swallows hard, and pushes his glasses further up his nose. 

 

 

Takes the darkness

From the night

 

 

“Sink them.”

The words in Chaos’ voice leave Argo’s lips, and suddenly he realizes how much he wants this. This future is everything he desires, down to the love note from Fitzroy on his desk.

 

“Hey Chaos?” he shouts from the white void, and the entity turns back to face him.

“Would ye… stay with me? Watch over us all for a couple days? I gotta feeling something nasty’s about to go down.”

 

Great white teeth stand stark against the opalescent skin. 

 

“Of course.”

 

 

 

 

 

Sayin' all in time, all in good time

All in time, all in good time

 

“Shit.”

 

As he watches the Commodore step off stage, wearing a shit-eating grin and the Moriah’s colors on his bandana, he growls.

 

“I hate that guy.”

 

Static floats in the air all around him, and he feels the pull on the back of his neck, the tingle in the very edges of his fingers and deep in his chest.

 

A voice sings in the distance, thundering words vibrating through the back of his head.

 

“All in time.” Chaos purrs, “All in good time.”

 

Fitzroy looks, seeing Argo’s sharp teeth bared and fists balled, and says a quick prayer. His eyes are white, and when the genasi turns to face him again, he can see the last traces of wild magic wicking off him like water droplets into the wind.

 

“Fitzroy,” He’s breathless, flushed, looking sickly green and so pale. “Fitzroy please, we have to kill him.”

 

He’s shaken, but he tries not to let it show as he takes Argo’s clammy hand in his own, running a finger over his brand scar, tracing it idly at first, then fervently, then wistfully, peering with great purpose into his eyes, trying desperately to read his expression.

 

He cannot imagine the pain he is in.

 

“Of course. Whatever you need.”