Argonaut Keene didn't fall in love often.
Sir Fitzroy Maplecourt, Knight in Absentia to the Realm of Goodcastle was a pompous jerk. Unfortunately, he happened to also be a very handsome pompous jerk. When Argo stepped into his new dorm, he couldn't help but grin at the regal figure before him, standing in the dust-filled light of the window with a look of disgust on his face. Fitzroy held himself with such importance, such confidence. His fanciful fashion sense and pretty face and toned muscles didn't help much either.
But when Argo extended his hand to shake Fitzroy's, the knight had not taken it. When Argo had expressed his excitement in being roommates, Fitzroy had not shared the sentiment. When Argo nudged Fitzroy in the arm in a playful manner, he had moved away quickly. Every time Argo tried to be sociable, Fitzroy just shook him off.
Fine. Fitzroy was just another self-absorbed ass who treated everyone like they were lesser. It was disappointing, sure, but not something Argo was going to worry over. He had much better things to do than chase after someone who wouldn't even give him the time of day.
Still, Fitzroy was handsome. And he attracted a lot of attention. Too much attention, in fact. Argo hated being ignored by people, and it had been happening all day because of the loud half-elf. First with Jimson, then Buckminster, and now with this Higglemas guy... Argo tuned out the conversation before him, trying not to focus too much on the sour feeling in his stomach. Today had been kind of shitty, to say the least. He hoped that tomorrow things would be better...
"And you!" Higglemas finally turned his attention away from Fitzroy, and Argo looked up hopefully, only to see that he wasn't the one being addressed. "You're the firbolg!"
"...yes," Bud agreed with a slow nod.
"Ooh! I want to talk to you!"
"This is not mutual." Argo put one hand over his mouth to hide his chuckling. At least one of his roommates seemed like an agreeable dude. The Firbolg was curt, but that also made him honest and sincere. Argo appreciated that.
Higglemas frowned a bit then turned around with a shrug. "Okay. Come into my office."
That weird feeling grew in Argo's stomach again. Jimson and Buckminster had been dismissive of him, yes, but at least they'd stopped to say hello. This vice headmaster guy hadn't even seemed to realize he was there.
Fitzroy huffed. "There's a third one of us, too." The knight glanced towards Argo, who looked at him in surprise. Something fluttered in his chest at the notion of being stood up for, but he made sure to push it back down.
"Yeah, that's fine," Argo lied, still staring into Fitzroy's big brown eyes. "No, no, don't worry about me, I'll just hang back here-"
"You look very roguish," Higglemas observed, and Argo finally tore his gaze away from Fitzroy. He small-talked with Higglemas for a bit, before the vice principal lead the trio into his office and made the Firbolg give his dog a free check-up. Normally Argo would have found this to be strange, but he wasn't really paying attention. All he could think about was Fitzroy standing up for him... He didn't think anyone had ever done anything of that sort for him, not since... since...
Fitzroy started complaining about his credits and Higglemas kicked them out of his office. After that, Buckminster walked them back towards the dorms and concluded the tour, not before reminding them of their promise to attend the right of passage that Argo was starting to regret agreeing too. He just wanted to go to bed so he could get a fresh new start tomorrow.
"Hey Fitz?" Argo asked tentatively as they headed into their dorm.
"Its- You know what, whatever, just- What do you want?" Fitzroy gave him an exasperated look. He started to open some of the bags that he'd brought to school and take out his things.
"Nothing, nothing! I just- I wanted to uh," Argo took a deep breath. Why was he so nervous? He shouldn't be this nervous... "-to thank you for, uh, sticking up fer me back there! With Higglebutt? I 'ppreciate it."
"Oh. Um, sure I guess." Fitzroy shrugged. "I mean I suppose I didn't really think about it that way, he was just kind of being rude so I felt like it was necessary to say something."
"Right, right" Argo looked in the other direction, trying to hide his disappointment at Fitzroy's impersonal stance. He suddenly had the wish of exceeding that, of being something special to this pretentious knight, someone worth standing up for.
"Oh my gooooods, this dresser only has three drawers, I hate it here so much," Fitzroy cried and Argo grinned.
Their second day of school started off a lot better than the first. Fitzroy apologized for being so prickly, and Argo was quick to forgive him- maybe a little too quick. He had fun making small talk with his roommates, explaining scurvy to them and watching Fitzroy have a crepe related meltdown. Argo suggested that they could use the omelet station to make a crepe for him, and Fitzroy seemed to be pretty excited about that idea, until he realized that it would have omelet ingredients in it.
But the way the charming knight had looked at him when Argo had proposed the idea... His enthusiastic grin and the way he said his name; "Argo Keene!" he had said with sparkling eyes... Suddenly the butterflies returned, and they were harder to ignore this time.
Whatever. So what if he thought Fitzroy was attractive? That didn't mean he had a crush on him or anything, he was just a good-looking guy. Still, Argo's thoughts continued to wander towards the knight during some of his more boring classes...
This however was not the class for daydreaming. Human shield practice was high energy and exciting, just how Argo liked it. He and Rhodes were doing pretty good too! Almost everyone on the opposing team was down!
Argo watched as Fitzroy whispered something to his partner Rainer, most likely creating some villainous scheme based off the look on his face. The half-elf smiled and held one hand forward. Argo was enraptured by the swirling magical energy that curled around his fingers, but his awe soon turned to worry as the energy grew and sharpened into lightening.
Fitzroy yelped and suddenly bolts of static electricity shot out from his hand in all directions. Argo shoved Rhodes out of the way of a beam going towards her direction, taking the hit for her. Then he was hit again by a bolt aiming at him and he stumbled. It felt like his entire insides were being fried, like his blood was starting to boil underneath his skin. Water conducted electricity, after all.
Argo continued to fumble around, but everything hurt, walking hurt and standing still hurt, his insides were on fire. The edges of his vision were getting blurry as he began to descend into shock. Was someone asking him if he was alright?
Yes, there was Crush's voice. "That was a good save. Are you alright, Argo?"
"Mmm yeah, yeah," Argo said, shaking his head. "Just- Just gotta shake it off a little bit-"
Crush asked him if he wanted to go to the nurse and Argo agreed, but the rest of their conversation was lost to him as the burning feeling in his bones did not subside. He did, however, glance up at Fitzroy, was had a look of utter shame across his face. Stupid roommate with stupid electric powers, that hurt like hell, said one part of his mind. Hot damn, said the other.
Argo walked out of his last class of the day feeling more energetic than usual. There was a skip to his step as he took a lemon out of his bag and bit into it. He started to subconsciously head towards the campus grounds. It was a cloudy day, with a bit of a breeze. If Argo had learned anything from a life on the sea, it was how to spot an upcoming storm. And from the looks of it, it would start raining in about two hours or so. He made a mental note to head inside before then. He didn't like storms. Anymore.
Eventually Argo's walk led him to the training arena, where he found Fitzroy. The barbarian was tearing one of the training dummies to shreds with his sword, and the thing looked like it was being held together by a string at this point. Argo could only watch as Fitzroy continued to pummel it with his blade. He quickly demolished the dummy, making loose straw fall all over the floor of the arena. He stopped for a moment and then began to drag the dummy's body towards a pile of two other ones, which seemed to have undergone the same beating.
"Hey, what'd those dummies ever do to you?" Argo chuckled, and Fitzroy looked up at him in surprise.
"Oh. Um, hey, Argo, I just uhhh... Was getting some practice in, ya know?" Fitzroy glanced to one side, avoiding his eyes. Argo smirked. Fitzroy was a terrible liar. His tells were always easy to spot.
"Really?" Argo walked towards the dummy pile and nudged one with his foot. "Seems like you're getting more than just practice. Maybe getting something out instead?"
The knight scoffed and crossed his arms. "I don't know what you're talking about."
Argo raised his eyebrows, earning a dramatic sigh from Fitzroy. "Fine! I was just- feeling upset at the, y'know, whole not getting my credits and having to start back at square one and I have magic tutoring lessons now," the volume and frustration in his voice grew louder and louder as he spoke, "but instead of assistance all I get is a dumb crab and I'm put with the sidekicks and have to take stupid classes and go on stupid quests and I- UGH!"
Fitzroy punted one of the dummy heads across the yard, and Argo watched as it flew in the air and bonked a random passerby on the head. "Wow. 10/10 shot."
"Whatever." Fitzroy sat on the ground with a huff. Argo stood behind him and leaned over so he was looking at his friend upside down.
"You still mad?" the genasi asked, blowing some hair out of his own face.
Fitzroy smiled. Oh no. Argo liked his smile quite a lot. "Yeah, a bit."
"Do you wanna fight?"
Argo stood straight up again, and walked in front of Fitzroy. "You know, like sparring! C'mon, it'll be fun!" He held one hand out, and Fitzroy took it. His fingers were rough and calloused, not like the soft manicured hands that Argo had imagined. It was unexpected, but not in an unwelcome way. He felt sturdy, real, warm...
Fitzroy pulled his hand back once as he was up and Argo blinked his thoughts away. He tried to ignore the longing feeling that the contact had left in his stomach.
“Alright. I mean, as long as you don’t mind getting your butt handed to you.” Fitzroy’s mischievous grin was certainly not helping him get rid of those pesky butterflies.
Argo matched his smile and snatched one of the training rapiers from a nearby shelf. "You wish!" He swung the blade around a few times before jumping into a fighting position. "En garde!"
Fitzroy drew his own sword and advanced a bit, a move that Argo easily parried. Fitzroy's stance changed at that point, as he realized that they were actually going to spar and not just joke around.
Argo swiped at his opponent's head and metal came against metal as his blow was blocked. He stared at Fitzroy's face for a moment; He had a cold, focused expression that did not waver. Fitzroy's sword pushed him backwards and they both backed up.
"C'mon, I know you're better than this!" Argo said as the two of them circled each other. Argo was used to friendly banter during training sessions, but Fitzroy was not. He seemed to be confused as to why Argo was talking to him in the middle of a fight. "Show me what cha' got, fancy boy!"
Fitzroy shook his head and leaped forward. Argo's rapier and his sword clinked against each other rhythmically. Finally Fitzroy made it through his defense, but the rogue leaped backward gracefully.
"Takes more than that ta' nab me!"
"Wh- What is this? What are you doing? I'm trying to fight you, stop talking." Fitzroy swung again, but Argo dodged him with ease.
"Awww but the banter's the best part!" Argo smiled, and Fitzroy tilted his head. "Please don't tell me that you've never participated in a little dueling repartee?"
"What?! C'mon what were they teaching you guys at Knight Clydesdale?"
"It's name is Clyde Nite's Night Knight School and they were teaching us the respectful and serious art of dueling and sword technique."
"Technique schemnique! Have a little fun!" Argo delivered a high strike, which Fitzroy blocked just in time.
The knight scoffed again, but Argo noticed the hint of a smile on his lips. Argo leaped backward and sidestepped his opponent, aiming for any part of him that would be more difficult to guard. But Fitzroy deflected his blows with ease. He had to admit, he was a little impressed.
Argo flashed a devilish grin as a plan began to form in his head. When Fitzroy swung again, Argo trapped his blade with his own and then twisted his hand around while jumping up and away. The maneuver caused both swords to fly into the air, and the rogue caught them with practiced ease.
"Now how's that-" Argo pointed both blades towards Fitzroy in triumph "-for technique!"
Fitzroy frowned and hung his head. He didn't just seem disappointed at his loss, he looked like he was downright shameful. "Yes, I suppose you beat me."
"Aye, don't worry about it, bucko!" Argo said, trying to lighten Fitzroy's mood. "You put up a good fight! Well done!" He handed Fitzroy his sword, keeping his hand outstretched for a shake.
Fitzroy took Argo's hand hesitantly. The genasi gave him a warm smile, trying his best to provide comfort all while not giving away how much he savored the physical contact. Fitzroy looked him up and down.
"Nothing, I just-" Fitzroy paused, trying to find his words. "You're weird."
Argo giggled. "You're not really great at the whole 'complimenting people' thing, are ya? But, thank you, I suppose? If it is a compliment?"
"No, I didn't-" Fitzroy groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose. The movement pushed his rose-tinted glasses higher up his face. Argo found it strangely cute. "I just meant that you're... Different. Than most people I know. So, like, weird in an unfamiliar sort of way."
"Well, I'll take what I can get!" Argo said with a wink.
Fitzroy smiled and rolled his eyes. "Whatever. Let's just go inside. It looks like it's gonna rain soon."
That night, Argo lay awake as the rain fell down on the roof above him. But for once he wasn't thinking about the storm outside. All he was thinking of was Fitzroy, of his hands and his voice and his smile.
Ok. So maybe he had a bit of a crush.
"Argo!" Argo snapped back to attention. Professor Riveau looked at him expectantly, and soon he found that the whole classroom was staring in his direction. His face grew hot with embarrassment.
"Uh- Y- yes?" Argo said, discreetly putting one hand over the sketches he'd been making all over his notes. "Sorry, my fault completely, I sort of- zoned out there."
"No big deal! It's just your turn to present your reason as to why the tavern fight broke out in our scenario," Riveau explained.
"Right, right," Argo cleared his throat, trying to ignore the way a few of his classmates were snickering.
The rest of blame-taking class carried on as normal, although Argo felt incredibly embarrassed the whole way through. He turned to a different page in his notebook, one that hadn't been doodled all over. He really hoped no-one had seen...
"Argo," Riveau called to him once class was over, and everyone was packing their things. "May I speak to you for a moment?"
The sidekick walked up to his professor's desk, trying not to show how nervous the whole situation was making him. Argo had never gotten in trouble with a teacher before, he didn't know what to do... "Uhh, yes, yes of course! What's, uh- what's up teach?" Shit. That was a weird thing to say, wasn't it? He was making a mess of things, why couldn't he just sit still and keep his mouth shut?
"Sorry for keeping you, but you've seemed rather distracted as of lately," Riveau said once the classroom was empty of the other students. "Is everything okay?"
"Oh, yes, yes, I'm perfectly alright," Argo lied. He didn't even think of doing it. Dishonesty was just the norm when it came to talking about his feelings. "Nothing really out of the ordinary- must just be my upcoming mission, it's our first and I just- I just wanna do my good ol' team proud, y'know!"
Riveau seemed to take this as an acceptable answer. "Ah, yes, that's perfectly understandable. Real world missions can be a bit nerve-racking at first, but you'll get the hang of it eventually! You're a talented and bright young fellow, I'm sure you'll do just fine!"
"Thanks, Mr. Riveau, it means a lot," Argo smiled. His professor smiled back kindly and dismissed him (not before giving one last apology).
As soon as he was out of ear-shot, Argo sighed in relief. He opened his bag and peaked at the page in his notebook. He closed the book almost immediately, once he knew his doodles were secure.
And so the many drawings of a certain knight in absentia remained a secret.
"Argo?" Fitzroy said from behind his book, making the genasi perk up almost immediately. He wouldn't admit it, but the way his name sounded in Fitzroy's accented voice made him squirm.
"Yeah?" Argo asked. His roommate peaked over his book to look at him. Argo practically lived for moments like these- In their dorm, casual and calm. He had Fitzroy all to himself, and that felt so good.
"Be a dear and get me some snacks from downstairs."
Dear... Don't read in to it, he uses words like that all the time, for everyone, Argo thought. But... Dear...
"Hello? Nua to Argo Keene!" Fitzroy called, snapping his fingers. "Did you hear me? I want some snacks, I'm practically starving."
Argo blinked and shook his head just a bit. "C- Can't ya get them yerself? I'm kinda busy here."
Fitzroy huffed and fell back onto his bed dramatically. "I mean I suppose but I thought that, you know, just as my sidekick, it would be really nice of you to get them for me."
Argo chuckled. He didn't have enough energy to really argue with Fitzroy; In fact, he didn't really mind getting him snacks at all. But watching his drama-filled pouting was just too cute of an opportunity to pass up. "Fine. What's the magic word?"
"Abracadabra?" Fitzroy grinned, and Argo matched his smile. Every time Fitzroy looked at him like that, with sparkles in his eyes and a cheeky expression, Argo's insides melted. Gods, any time he looked at him with those dark brown eyes, fireworks set off in his brain.
"Nope, not that one!"
"Closer, but no."
Fitzroy sighed. "Please?"
Argo allowed himself just a moment to stare. Just a moment to bask in Fitzroy's warm gaze, just a moment to drink in every small detail of his face, just a moment to let his heart have what it really wanted. But just a moment.
"There we go!" Argo chuckled, sitting up from his bed. "I knew you'd get to it eventually." Fitzroy rolled his eyes.
As Argo walked out the door, Fitzroy called after him. "Wait, I didn't tell you what sort of snacks I wanted!"
"I already know," Argo said with a smile.
Rainer Michelle was an excellent hostess when it came to sleepovers. She seemed to have just the right snacks and her room was well-organized and decorated with a mix of cutesy pinks and gothic blacks. There was always some activity to do with her, something fun that she'd planned beforehand. And since her villain dorm didn't come with any roommates, they had privacy there too.
The firbolg had chosen to stay behind and study for a test for one of his classes. Fitzroy was taking the same class as he was, but he had insisted on coming anyway.
"No, I'm not letting you two have fun without me," he had complained when Rainer questioned him. They eventually came to the compromise of Fitzroy at least leaving early.
That time was soon approaching as Rainer finished painting Fitzroy's nails. They were doing a manicure chain together; Argo had already done Rainer's, so that meant Fitzroy was doing his next. Argo hoped they had time to do it... He looked at the clock nervously, and then back to Fitzroy, who was drying the paint.
"And then Mimi said that maybe we could attach the arms to my chair, y'know? I'm really glad I commissioned them, they're a total sweetheart," Rainer rambled, and Fitzroy nodded as she talked. Argo was only half-listening to the conversation before him. He was too busy staring at Fitzroy's face, softly outlined in Rainer's fairy lights, hair slightly tousled. He seemed so casual, so relaxed, absent of the uptight persona he so stubbornly clung onto whenever they were in public. It made Argo happy to know that he got to see Fitzroy like this, that Fitzroy trusted him enough to let him see it.
"What color do you want?" Argo blinked his thoughts away, and saw Fitzroy staring at him, Rainer's drawer of nail polish in his lap.
"Ummm... You pick," Argo responded. "What do you think would look nice?"
"Red," Fitzroy said with a moment's hesitation. "It's a nice accent, like the bow in your hair. It looks good on you."
Argo smiled, and he hoped Fitzroy didn't spot the purple rising in his cheeks. "Y-yeah, sounds good to me." There was a moment's pause, as Fitzroy unscrewed the polish and held his hand out expectantly. Argo just stared.
"I need your hand."
"Right! Right, right, sorry," Argo said with a laugh, putting his hand out as his friend had instructed.
Fitzroy took his hand in his own. His touch was light and careful, like he wanted to make sure Argo felt safe in his grasp. And he did. The genasi's heart melted as Fitzroy held his hand so softly, gods, he was so gentle and warm. Argo wished he could be held like this forever, he wished Fitzroy would pull them together, and hold him in his sturdy arms, an embrace just as comforting and tender. He wanted Fitzroy to run his fingers through his hair, and kiss his forehead as he let him slowly fall asleep curled up on his chest.
Ping! Fitzroy cursed and moved away from Argo's hand. Their fingers lingered on each other for just a moment as he pulled away. Just shameless reluctance on Fitzroy's part, while deep longing on Argo's.
"It's Firby," Fitzroy sighed, as he picked up his notebook of farspeech and read the message written there. "He needs help with studying, so I suppose that's my cue." He gave Argo an apologetic look. "I'm sorry, Argo. Maybe next time?"
"Yeah, sure," Argo said. He faked a smile, trying his best to hide his disappointment. "Next time! No problem-o!"
Fitzroy smiled back. "Thanks. See you too, Rainer. You two don't have too much fun without me, you hear?"
Rainer chuckled and flashed a devilish grin. "Can't make any promises!"
Fitzroy pouted and left, waving to both of them as he headed off. Argo's gaze lingered on the doorway.
"So..." Rainer said, and Argo realized that her grin was growing wider. "What was that all about?"
Argo laughed nervously, rubbing the back of his neck. "What was what all about? I'm not quite sure I understand."
Rainer huffed and rolled her eyes. "You know!" Argo raised his eyebrows. "Fitz! You've been staring at him, like, a lot lately! Just right now, you were totally zoning out!"
Shame and embarrassment immediately washed over Argo. He avoided Rainer's eyes, staring down at the cushions on her bed. He started fiddling with them absentmindedly. "I don't... I don't know what you mean."
"Mmm-hmmm, yeah, sure," Rainer giggled. "You know what I think?" Argo refused to respond. "I think you have a crush!"
"No, I don't!" Argo protested. He looked down and realized that the red polish from the one finger Fitzroy had painted was getting all over the comforter. "Shit, Rainer, I'm sorry, hold on, I'll-"
The necromancer shook her head and touched Argo's shoulder, pushing him back so he was sitting again. "It's fine, Argo, I really could care less. I am interested, however, as to why you think you have to keep your crush on Fitzroy- if you have one- a secret from me."
"I... I don't have a crush on him," Argo insisted. The lie tasted sour in his mouth. He didn't want to keep it a secret, but he had to. If Fitzroy found out... He just couldn't let that happen.
Rainer shrugged. "Alright."
"...please don't tell him."
"Oh my gods you do!" Rainer grinned, and Argo could've sworn he was going to die right then and there. "I knew it, I knew it!"
"SH, sh, sh, please someone'll hear ya!" Argo cried, putting his hands up in an attempt to silence his friend. He groaned and put his head in his hands. "Please don't tell anyone, if Fitz finds out it'll ruin everything." He knew he could trust Rainer to keep a secret, but he didn't feel the same way about the majority of his friends. Buckminster was a gossiper, the firbolg refused to lie, and Leon had the tendency to overshare when he was drunk.
Rainer made a zipping motion over her mouth. "My lips are sealed. Look, I have the key right here, I'm throwing it away and I'm setting the trashcan on fire and burying it's ashes. See?"
Argo chuckled, although the humiliation in his gut was not getting any better. "Yes, yes, I see. Um... Thank you."
"That's what friends are for!" Rainer beamed. "However, in exchange for my silence, how about I get to interview you on the subject?"
Argo sighed. As much as he wanted to keep his feelings for Fitzroy a secret, he had to admit that keeping it all bottled up was weighing on him. Maybe venting to Rainer wasn't such a bad idea... "Well. Be my guest then, I suppose. What do you wanna know?"
Rainer propped her face up in her hands, her eyes gleaming with mischief. Oh boy. "What about him? What about Fitzroy makes you like him?"
Argo shifted his own position, laying down on his stomach now. "Um..." He was embarrassed to talk about this, he shouldn't talk about this, he should just keep his mouth shut and let this whole ordeal blow over. He would get over Fitzroy eventually, right? "I dunno, I just... I just think he's cool."
"Cool." Rainer chuckled a bit and raised one eyebrow. "Cool? That's it. C'mon, Argo, you're a creative guy, I'm sure you can come up with some other descriptors here. I mean, it's- it's fine if you really don't want to talk about it but I just thought it might be nice to vent a little, y'know? Feelings can be complicated sometimes so I thought it might be fun to just- have someone to talk to about it."
"No, no, 's alright. I... I actually do kind of want to talk about it but also I don't because- Fitzroy, obviously, doesn't feel the way I do and the last thing I wanna do is ruin our friendship because of some silly little feelings that I have."
As he spoke, Rainer nodded wisely. Argo had to admit that it felt nice to have someone listen to him for once. "Yeah, I get that. Still, if you want to gush 'bout your crush, I'm right here man!"
"Ok..." Argo took a deep breath, giggling just a little. "He's just- Interesting. I think, he's- he's different than most folks I've been 'round and that's saying something 'cause I tend to hop around a lot, I've met a lot of people, but he's just... Different. There's, like, two types of people in my head- people who'll be yer pal and people who won't give a shit about ya no matter what! And I thought Fitz fit in with the latter but... Then I got to know him and we started becoming friends and now I'm startin' to see a different side of him- still a stuck-up side sure- but, this time it's... He's sweet to me. And I think the fact that he's opened up to me makes me feel special, makes me feel like I'm something to him, someone to him. And that's nice. Really nice. And I know I already said it but Fitzroy's a cool dude! You know how he is, he's got all those brooches and cloaks and acts like he owns the place, and normally a guy like that wouldn't give someone like me the time a day but he's not like that! He's powerful and stunning and I'm not but he doesn't care, he's nice to me anyway. Hell, he could blast me to smithereens for pushing at his buttons like I do but instead he just rolls his eyes and covers up his smile. And the fact that he's even smiling, smiling at something I said, that he's generous enough to give me a glimpse of that smirk-" Argo finally realized he was rambling. "Sorry. I, uh, got a bit ahead of myself there."
Rainer, who had been listening intently, shook her head at him. "No, no this is great! Continue, please! It's fun!"
"Okay.." Argo said, a bit hesitantly. He was lucky to have such understanding, caring friends. When was the last time someone had just let him talk? When was the last time he had just let himself talk? "He's just... Breathtaking. Almost everything he does leaves me in a state of awe. He's strong and impressive and charismatic and brave and absolutely gorgeous. And underneath that posh rich-boy attitude, he's also sweet and gentle and he's such a hard worker, I can tell, he's had to work so hard to get where he is and that ambition is just so admirable and inspiring and every time I think about it, every time I think about him, I- Gods, Rainer, I- I'm in trouble."
"Yeah, sounds like you got it pretty bad," Rainer laughed, and Argo put his face in his hands to hide the blush that was undoubtedly creeping up on his cheeks. "When are you going to tell him?"
"Oh, I'm not going to. It'll make him uncomfortable, and then things will be awkward and it'll mess with our friendship. Plus, we can't just part ways 'cause we're roommates and- and I don't want to. To be quite honest, keeping this whole thing a secret is kind of eating at me but if that's what I have to do to keep him around then- then that's a sacrifice that I'm willing ta' make."
Rainer considered his words for a moment. "I mean... You gotta talk to him eventually, right?"
"I dunno... I think I'm just going to wait it out. The whole crush thing'll die down eventually," Argo reasoned. Rainer watched as he fiddled with her comforter, unknowingly kneading the fabric.
"Hm. Do you want me to finish that?" she said, pointing to his single painted nail. "It looks kind of silly."
"I- Sure," Argo replied. He was caught off guard by the sudden change of subject, but he didn't mind.
The two of them sat in silence for a while, as Rainer finished his left hand. She finally began to talk again once she moved on to the right. "From what you've told me, this crush you've got is pretty intense. And if my suspicions are correct, it's only gonna get worse. So the way I see it, you've got two options. Either A. Wallow in your feelings and miserably pine for the whole foreseeable future or B. Just talk to Fitzroy about it and get it over with. That's what I did with Zana, and look where we're out now! You don't know for sure that he doesn't like you back, and you'll never know until you try."
"I- I guess." Argo shrugged. Although he wanted it, he just couldn't imagine Fitzroy actually liking him back. It was better to not get his hopes up. "Anyways... How've yer skeletons been doing?"
Rainer took the hint, and for the rest of the night their conversations were about anything other than Fitzroy Maplecourt. (But Argo's inner thoughts? Not so much.)
He woke up in a hospital. Which wasn't surprising, given the fact that he had been in one when he had blacked out. Yes, he was in a hospital last, but it wasn't this one... What had happened? They were- they were fighting something weren't they? Yes, a chain demon, he remembered now, Terrance, and he had... He had been attacked and-
Argo sat up in the soft bed he was in. He examined the wound on his chest, a slash mark that started from his left side and ran up to his neck. The skin stung when he reached out to touch it, but it was already starting to scar over. It was a wonder he was still alive, given how close the demon's strike had gotten to his throat. They had picked up medicine on the way; Fitzroy or the Firbolg must have-
Fitzroy and the Firbolg. Were they alright? What had happened? He hadn't been there, he'd failed, just when they needed him, he'd left them behind, they could be in trouble-
"Oh! You're up!" Argo almost jumped out of his skin when a nurse walked in to his room. They immediately noticed his panicked state- the way he was breathing heavily, gripping at the sheets, fearful eyes darting across the room- and began trying to calm him down. "It's alright, it's alright, you're okay."
"No, no, I need- my friends- where- where are they, are they okay?" he cried.
"The half-elf and the big guy? Yes, they're both fine, one of them is waiting right outside. But you need to lay back down now, sir, you'll open up your wound again if you keep moving," the nurse said, their voice calm and collected. A wave of relief rushed over Argo once he had confirmation of his friend's safety. He listened to the nurse's advice and settled back down in the bed. "I'm sure they can explain to you what happened. Do you want me to go get the one that's waiting for you?"
"Yes, thank you," Argo said. The nurse nodded and walked out of the room.
Looking around the hospital room, Argo spotted a cup of water on a counter next to him. He sipped at the cool liquid as he waited. There was no doubt in his mind that the one who was waiting for him was the firbolg. He and Argo had gotten along quite nicely, after all. At this point they were pretty much best friends, bonding over their shared sidekick status and love for the outdoors.
So when Fitzroy was the one who came through the door, Argo almost spit his water out. He'd never seen the half-elf so disheveled. His usually neatly styled hair was matted and his eyes were red and he looked like he hadn't slept at all. There was a bandage wrapped around his entire fore-arm, and his usual fancy cloak was nowhere to be seen. He looked like shit, but Argo didn't mind one bit.
"Argo," breathed the knight, his voice catching his throat a bit. He rushed to the side of his sidekick's bed, practically collapsing on his knees. "Are- Are you okay, you're not still hurt or anything- you're feeling alright? I was- They wouldn't let me come in, I had to wait all night, the firbolg's asleep by now but I was so- You're alright?"
"Yes, yes," Argo chuckled. Fitzroy's concern made his stomach explode with butterflies. It felt so good to know that someone cared about him, that Fitzroy cared about him. "I'm alright, really." Slowly, he lifted one hand and intertwined it with Fitzroy's. He could feel him shaking. He wanted to reassure him that everything was going to be okay, that he was alright and they were alive and Argo would never let anything like that happen again. He just wanted Fitzroy to feel safe for once.
"Okay..." Fitzroy looked down at their hands, and his grip tightened as he continued. "Just don't scare me like that again. In fact, as the CEO of Thundermen LLC, I'm making it a rule that you're not allowed to die or almost die anymore. If you do I'll- I'll fire you!"
Argo laughed again. He looked up at the knight. Even in his exhausted state, Argo thought he was beautiful. And the way he was looking at him right now, with gentle concern and relief... His brown eyes were so soft and his lips were parted ever so slightly. Argo wanted to kiss him so badly. He wanted to just lean forward and tilt his head and kiss Fitzroy softly, sweetly. He never wanted anything so badly in his life.
Instead, he realized he was staring and cleared his throat. "Right, 'course. No dying for me, ha! But, um what, uh, what did happen, back there, though? After I checked out?"
Fitzroy shifted his position, leaning forward on his elbows. They were so close... "Well, when you went down, I'm not gonna lie it spooked me quite a bit so I dropped out of my rage and I tried to get to you and, uh, that's how this happened." He gestured to his injured arm. "But I got there and I, y'know, gave you the medicine since you were looking pretty bad. Firby's the one who took down the demon. He's sleeping right now, but I'm guessing he'll be thrilled to see you in the morning."
"Is your arm alright?"
"Hm? Oh, yeah, yeah. It's mostly wrapped up just because of blood loss or something, I dunno, I wasn't really listening. Based on what they said, I was pretty close to conking out myself. That hit he got on me while I was trying to get to you hurt like hell, but, um..." Fitzroy looked down at their intertwined hands, and then back up at Argo. His thumb softly rubbed against Argo's. "it was worth it."
I love you.
It was foreign, the feeling of loving someone. It had been so long since Argo let another person get so close to him. Over the years, he always made sure to be distant with the people he'd meet. He was just another member of the ship's crew, just doing his job to get by and that was it. But with Fitzroy... They were roommates, teammates, friends. Fitzroy cared about him, he had saved his life. Fitzroy was sweet and brave and he protected his friends no matter what and... Argo was in love with him. And that was terrifying. What if he lost him, just like he had lost her? He couldn't handle that again, he couldn't have someone he loved be taken from him again.
The determination in Fitzroy's eyes was silent promise of safety. Argo knew he was strong, resilient, tough. It would take a lot to get rid the great Sir Fitzroy Maplecourt. The same was true for her, a voice in his head whispered. And you still let her down. You can't get attached. But did Argo really have a choice? The feelings were already there. And this time, Argo could promise he wouldn't leave.
He suddenly became aware of the long moment of silence. He should say something. Anything. But he was at a loss of words. All Argo could do was stare into Fitzroy's eyes, eyes that he loved. It felt nice, to love again.
"Argo?" Fitzroy chuckled at his companion's dumbfounded expression. "You alright, friend?"
"I- I think I might-" No. Argo couldn't tell him. Because then Fitzroy would leave him. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm a-okay here, don't you worry!" Why was he so bad at lying when it came to Fitzroy? What about him made him want to spill the truth so badly?
Fitzroy raised an eyebrow. "What? You might what?"
"I, uh, might still have a bit of a headache, from the whole thing, y'know, but that's pretty much it," Argo lied. He did have a headache, in fact his whole chest ached, but that wasn't his original sentence.
"Right, right." Fitzroy stood back up, and the hospital bed shifted at the change in weight. "Sorry, um, I'll go, I just came to check up on you really quick an- and you should be getting some rest-"
"Stay?" Argo asked, reaching for Fitzroy's hand again. If he was going to be stuck in this place for the night, he wanted someone by his side. No. He wanted Fitzroy by his side.
The knight smiled and their fingers intertwined once more. "Of course," Fitzroy murmured, kneeling down beside Argo.
The genasi smiled softly and closed his eyes. As he drifted to sleep, he reveled in the light touch of Fitzroy's rough hands against his, the smell of Fitzroy's cologne, and the soft sounds of Fitzroy's breathing.
But as Argo made his way towards the door leading into the hallway, he heard someone shuffling around. He stopped in his tracks, eyes darting to Fitzroy's bed. The half-elf wasn't in his usual upright position, but rather curled up on his side. Argo could see that he was shaking ever so slightly, and he could have sworn he heard Fitzroy sniffle a few times. Was he... crying?
Argo glanced towards the door, then back at Fitzroy. He took a deep breath. He knew that he was being selfish but Fitzroy was more important to him than The Unbroken Chain was. That thought made him guilty. How he could he carry on his mother's legacy without the Chain? Shame flooded his stomach, but Fitzroy hiccuped again and Argo remained resolute in his decision.
"Fitz?" Argo whispered, trying not to startle him. Fitzroy stopped abruptly, one elven ear twitching at the sound of Argo's voice. "Fitz, you alright?" He took a tentative step forward.
"Go- o away," Fitzroy murmured, his voice breaking. He had definitely been crying. Argo's stomach dropped.
"I'm not leavin' 'til I know yer okay," Argo said, now standing right beside his bed. He reached out to touch his shoulder, but Fitzroy shot up and grabbed his wrist.
"I told you to go away!" Fitzroy's tear-stained eyes met Argo's, and the genasi's heart broke. He hated seeing Fitzroy like this, he didn't deserve all the shit that was happening to him. Argo wanted to help him so badly, but he could only do that if Fitzroy let him.
The knight hiccuped and pulled his legs to his chest, burying his face in his knees. Argo watched helplessly, unsure what to do. In the end, he decided that verbal reassurance was his best bet.
He sat down on the bed. "Shhh, it's alright, it's alright. I'm right here, I'm here for you," Argo said in a soothing, quiet voice. Fitzroy continued to sob, and he leaned ever-so-slightly towards him. Argo took the hint and opened up his arms to him.
Fitzroy fell right in place, as if he was meant to be there. He buried his head in the crook of Argo's neck and Argo wrapped his arms around him, still murmuring soft reassurances.
"I- I hate this. I hate feeling like thi- this, I hate being terrified that I'm gonna d- die all the time, I hate it," Fitzroy sobbed, squeezing one of Argo's hands, while his other one pet his hair. Argo could hear the frustration bubbling up in his voice, overtaking the sorrow. "I hate it here! And now there's some goddam demon involved with the school?! Like what the fuck!? I didn't a- ask for this man, I didn't want to get involved! I didn't wa- want any of this, I hate everything about this!"
"I know, I know..." They sat there for a while, Argo listening to Fitzroy cry and shiver. His turmoil made Argo feel a similar mixture of sadness and anger; Anger at the world for doing this to someone so amazing and wonderful, and sadness and guilt that he hadn't been able to stop it. He felt responsible for Fitzroy's wellbeing, for some reason. Maybe that was just because he was his sidekick, but given Argo's knowledge of his feelings, he was tempted to say that it went much, much deeper than just wanting to do his assigned job.
Finally, Fitzroy composed himself. He moved slightly away from Argo and looked up at him. "Argo... I know you're hiding something. But I- I don't hate you. And I honestly don't think I ever will. Which is strange, and frightening, because I don't know where you go at night, I don't know what your agenda is, I don't even know if you're really my friend. You- you could be plotting my demise for all I know but I... I care about you. And I shouldn't trust you. But I keep wanting to."
"Fitzroy..." Argo's voice caught in his throat as he cupped Fitzroy's cheek. "Fitz, I promise you, I would never do anything to hurt you. You- You mean the world to me, and I l- I'm... Nothing I'm doing is going to hurt you, or Firby, or anyone, okay? Now isn't the best time to explain it all, but I swear on my life, I will never hurt you on purpose. If- if anything happened to you I don't think I'd ever be able to forgive myself."
Fitzroy stared into his eyes for a moment, searching for sincerity. He found it in abundance. "I- Alright. Um, I think that helps, a- a bit. But- You're still definitely not off the hook! We'll have to discuss... everything, eventually, at a later date when we're not about to go on a quest that may-or-may-not have the world at stake."
"Yeah... Hopefully no-one'll almost die this time around," Argo joked. Fitzroy turned away from him, and he immediately knew that saying that had been a bad call.
"What if... What if someone does?" Fitzroy murmured. His eyes unfocused slightly as his mind carried him into what, Argo could only assume, was a remembrance of their more perilous quests. "And what if this time I can't stop it?"
Argo pulled him back into a hug. "C'mon now. It'll be alright."
The knight remained silent for a moment. "Promise me you won't die tomorrow."
Argo's heart leaped at the feeling of Fitzroy's lips slightly brushing against his neck, the feeling of his warm breath on his skin. "I promise." He sure was making a lot of promises tonight. Yet he intended to keep each and every one. "None of us are dying tomorrow. I swear it."
"I'm scared," Fitzroy muttered, squeezing Argo's arm just a bit, a subconscious action.
"Yeah..." Argo yawned, then buried his face in Fitzroy's hair. He smelled ever so slightly of smoke and wood, like from a lightning-struck tree. "Me too."
"You should get some rest..."
"Right, right," Argo pulled away, when everything in him wanted to the opposite. Kiss him, his mind persuaded. Tell him the truth, tell him how much he means to you, tell him you love him, tell him you want him, tell him you'll do anything for him. Just tell him.
As Argo moved to stand, Fitzroy pushed him back down. They were both laying down on the bed now, with Fitzroy propping himself up above Argo.
"Fitz?" Argo said tentatively as a light blush crept into his cheeks.
"You don't have to go," Fitzroy said. He seemed to realize the awkwardness of their position and flopped down beside Argo so they laid side-by-side. "I mean, if you- if you don't want to."
Argo's breath caught in his throat. He felt like his whole body was buzzing, a constant humming, but instead of a droning sound, it was light and warm like honey. It filled him to the brim, a sweet sea that threatened to spill out if he didn't screw the lid shut as tight as he could. Fitzroy filled him with so much joy, so much wonderment, so much awe, so much love, love, love, love.
"Alright. I'll stay, if you'll have me." Argo smiled, and Fitzroy smiled back.
"Night, Fitz." Argo closed his eyes, and soon he drifted into a quiet sleep, all thoughts of the Unbroken Chain's meeting gone from his tired mind. Fitzroy's eyes remained open as he slipped into a trance, staring at Argo's sleeping face in the moonlight.
"I just figured, you know, we eat some... food?" Althea said. Argo wasn't really paying attention to their conversation with her. He was staring at his feet, still trying to figure out this whole ordeal.
"I know, but like, I'm doing paleo, so..." Fitzroy replied haughtily. Argo snorted. If Fitzroy was doing a hunter and gatherer diet, he sure was doing a shitty job of it. He probably just wanted to seem fancy to Althea. He did that sort of stuff a lot.
Suddenly, the half-elf clutched at his chest. "This is a side effect of the paleo," he said, and his voice came out in a gasp. Now Argo was paying attention. "It's- y- wi- without complex carbohydrates- oh my god. A- anyone else fe- feeling this?"
Both of his sidekicks took a step forward in concern. Argo could see the pain and utter panic in Fitzroy's face, and his stomach dropped. He looked around for something to do, anything that could possibly help his friend.
"Uh- Oh- oh god! Are you- Are you oka- what's happening to you?" Althea asked frantically.
"I think it's- heart attack. It's bad-" Fitzroy gasped for air and stumbled backwards. The firbolg caught him and gently set him against a nearby tree. Argo kneeled down beside Fitzroy. He looked frantically across his friend's body, his pained expression, his heaving chest, his fingers that were desperately clawing at the dirt beneath him. He was in so much pain, Argo needed to do something but what? He felt utterly useless, just sitting there without an idea of what was going on.
Althea crouched down and put one glowing hand over Fitzroy's chest. "Oh- oh no. Uhhh... You've been cursed!"
"Cursed?!" Argo shouted, his voice giving away his distress. "What do mean cursed?!" He looked at Fitzroy again, and his vision began to blur as adrenaline took over him.
The next thing Argo knew, Althea was heading in the opposite direction. The firbolg was looking at him in expectance, waiting for him to give him an instruction, or do something himself. He looked back down at Fitzroy, gasping on the ground... Argo would not leave him.
He was supposed to go on that mission with her. They were going to leave port together, but she had decided last minute that it was too dangerous for him. "It'll just be three days, sweetheart," she had said. And he had nodded and asked for her to come back with more books for him and she had laughed and agreed to the deal. And he had said goodbye. And she had said see you later.
She had been wrong.
He remembered staring up at the ceiling of the inn he was staying at. He remembered the dull creaking of the wood, the noise of a leak dripping into a pan. Drip, drip, drip. It was keeping him awake. Or maybe it was something else. Maybe it was the ache in his stomach that just wouldn't go away. Maybe it was the way the thunder boomed outside, like it was warning him of something. Maybe it was the thought that he couldn't shake from his head, the thought that something was wrong. Something was terribly wrong. He just didn't know what it was.
He would soon find out.
But he would not make the same mistake twice. Argo would stay by Fitzroy's side, no matter what.
Fitzroy thrashed around. Whatever curse had been set on him was obviously causing him a great deal of pain. Argo had very limited knowledge of these sorts of things, but he did remember overhearing someone on one of the ships he worked on saying something about cures and nightmares? Curses caused nightmares? He looked back down at his friend. A nightmare seemed likely, given the distressed look on his face.
Argo looked around, trying to figure out what to do. He needed to help Fitzroy, he needed to do something to cure him, he needed to figure this out. But how could he?
All he could do was be there for him... Okay. He could work with that.
Carefully, Argo pulled Fitzroy closer to him, making sure not to hurt him in any way. "Hey, uh... hey Fitz! Um, listen..." Argo took a deep breath. Fitzroy probably couldn't even hear him. Here goes nothing.
Argo told Fitzroy about how he was there for him, that he and the firbolg would be by his side no matter what. They would protect Fitzroy, they would help him overcome this and they would continue to help him overcome every obstacle that was thrown his way. They cared about him, and it didn't matter what was going on inside his head, because he was cared for. He told Fitzroy that, when he woke, they would be with him.
Suddenly, Fitzroy's breath caught in his throat. The knight gasped for air, and panic shot through Argo. He felt helpless, watching the man he loved in this state. He looked up at the firbolg.
"Can you do anything?! Do you have any like… y'know, nature stuff to help him out?" Argo pleaded.
The firbolg shook his head, then looked back towards Calhain's tent. "I will ask... a question."
"Ok, ok," Argo said. He watched as the firbolg ran off, and realized that he was now alone with Fitzroy, who wasn't gasping anymore, but his breathing was still labored. "Alright um..."
Gods, what did you do when someone had a nightmare? Argo had plenty of them himself, but they usually just resulted in him staying up all night or crying himself to sleep. Neither of those would work. Argo prodded his memory. Had anyone ever comforted him about his night terrors? Yes. Yes, Shebrie had. She used to tell him stories, she'd recite her own, or sometimes she'd read Argo his favorite book series, Larry the Lime- Larry the Lime! That's it! Argo had one of those books with him right now!
Argo grabbed the children's book out of his bag. He scrolled through the pages, trying to find a good story for their situation. That's what Shebrie had always done for him; If he had a nightmare about being alone then she'd read him a story about friendship, if he had dreamed about drowning then she'd read a story about a fun underwater adventure, and so on and so forth.
Finally, Argo came to a story where Larry's friends had an argument and Larry helped them through it. That was relevant, right? He cleared his throat and began to recite the tale.
It actually ended up calming his own nerves. There was a sense of nostalgia in each word, he could recite every story by memory if he really wanted to. It felt good to share that with Fitzroy, a strange yet welcome kind of vulnerability. Fitzroy seemed to be calming down too. The speed of his breathing was coming down to a more steady, regular pace. A pang of hope rang in Argo, and he smiled and continued to read.
Then he realized that Fitzroy's breathing was slowing too much. He was barely moving now. Argo dropped his book and pulled Fitzroy closer, searching for his pulse. It was there, but it was slow. He was so still, bordering upon lifeless...
The weight of their situation crashed into Argo like a freight train. Fitzroy was dying. His co-worker, his roommate, his friend, the man he was deeply in love with, was dying in his lap. And he couldn't do anything about it, this was all his fault, he should know how to fix this, he didn't know what to do, he was useless. Fitzroy was going to die, and Argo wouldn't be able to stop it.
Argo grabbed his bag and dumped out all of its contents, desperately searching for something, anything that could help his friend. He tossed away a few left-over combos, bandaids and random trinkets. He didn't have any healing potions, or magic like the firbolg did either. He had nothing. There was nothing here, this was useless, he was being useless.
Argo picked up his book again, but the words were blurry through his tears. He shut the cover and looked down at Fitzroy's face in his lap. He took a deep breath and leaned over his companion.
His confession was quiet, and he started off slowly. Argo told him that he had been spying on him. He knew about Fitzroy's past, he knew that Fitzroy came from more humble origins than he let on. He knew about Fitzroy's parents, he knew how hard he had worked to get to where he was, to be become the esteemed knight he was today. He hadn't been snooping out of maliciousness, he never wanted Fitzroy to get hurt in any way. And, yet, here they were.
But Argo cared about him. He thought Fitzroy was a good person, maybe the best person he'd ever met. He was Fitzroy's friend, and he believed in him. He believed that Fitzroy was good, and true, and just, and that he could do whatever he put his mind to. Argo thought that Fitzroy was remarkable, and he was going to continue to be remarkable. Fitzroy had won him over.
Argo knew that Fitzroy hadn't had the best time at Clyde Nite's. He knew he feared failure and he knew that he sometimes felt like one. But he shouldn't let that define him. Fitzroy was so much more than his failures, he wasn't a screwup, he was Fitzroy, he was a knight and a villain and a friend and he was amazing and wonderful and lovable and brave. He was so brave, Argo admired his tenacity and determination so much. And Fitzroy needed to use that determination right now, he needed to work through this so he could come back to them.
Because they needed him to come back. Argo needed him to come back.
Fitzroy was completely still now, except for a few shallow breaths at random intervals.
Argo leaned down, right above his face. Fitzroy was so beautiful. It was so unfair.
"If you don‘t suck it up and come back to us, I'm gonna get your stuff, and I'm gonna wear all your clothes," Argo rambled. He was shaking now, from the strain of holding in his tears. "I'm gonna put on your doublets, I'm gonna put on all your cloaks, and your hats, and your fancy pantaloons, and your shoes and socks, and I'm gonna prance around, and I'm gonna—I'm not even gonna bathe first. I'm gonna put 'em all on, and I'm gonna wear 'em all over the place."
Argo broke. He squeezed his eyes shut and pressed his forehead to Fitzroy's. "Please, please, Fitz. I can't- I can't lose someone again, I can't lose you, I promised I wouldn't let this- I can't- I-" He was interrupted by his own sobs. It was so unfair. Argo had finally found someone, he had finally let himself love again, he was even starting to feel like he could start to move on. But it was being taken from him again. Was Argo cursed too? Did everyone he love have to die? Was he being punished? Was this his fault? Had he doomed Fitzroy by loving him? Oh, how selfish he had been...
Fitzroy inhaled sharply. Argo had witnessed a number of deaths in his time on the sea, whether it be from disease or injury. He knew what last breaths sounded like. And there was no doubt in his mind that this was Fitzroy's.
"Fitz- No, no, no, please, please- I- I love-"
"Argo!" Althea called. She ran towards them, and Argo leapt back a bit so she had access to Fitzroy. It's too late, his mind screamed, trying to get rid of the little hope that Althea's entrance had given him. He's already dead.
Suddenly, Althea pressed a red-hot wax sealer into Fitzroy's collarbone. The half-elf screamed and writhed in agony, and Argo pushed Althea away out of reflex. But the sealer had already burned its mark into Fitzroy's chest; It was a rune. It was dispelling the curse, and Fitzroy had just screamed which meant... He was alive.
Argo looked up at Althea, feeling a bit guilty for pushing her, but mostly shocked. He had been so sure that Fitzroy would die. He was almost afraid to be relieved. "Did- did you...?"
"Yeah, I, um, I think that did it," Althea breathed.
Fitzroy squirmed in Argo's arms. The genasi looked back down at him.
Fitzroy was exhausted. His hair was ruffled, his eyes were sullen, his chest was scarred.
He was absolutely gorgeous.
"If you touch my cloaks, I'll use my magic to explode your head," Fitzroy murmured with a smile.
A slow grin spread over Argo's face. He laughed between his tears, more relieved and joyous and in love than he had ever been. Argo threw his arms around Fitzroy, hugging him passionately, but not too tightly, in fear of causing him more pain. Fitzroy hugged him back, laying his face on Argo's shoulder. Argo wanted them to stay like this forever. He pulled away, grinning widely, with one hand on Fitzroy's cheek.
"Welcome back, boyo."
Argonaut Keene didn't fall in love often. But when he did, he went down hard.