What she likes more than anything is wiping their tears away.
For Scanlan, it’s a rare occurrence, but almost always a happy one. He cries on their wedding day, though he tries very hard to pretend he doesn’t. He cries even harder on their wedding night, a little when she spanks him, but even more when they’re cuddled together afterward, and he weaves her fingers through hers to feel their rings clink together.
“I didn’t think we’d get here,” he says. “After so long, after all the times I’ve nearly fucked this up, I can’t believe it’s actually happened.”
“Believe it,” she says with a grin, rolling on top of him. “You’re stuck with me now.”
It turns out he’s still got a few more tears in him that night.
For Grog, it’s long periods of famine punctuated by the occasional – always very inebriated – feast. Usually, he’s an exquisitely happy drunk, but every now and again, he’ll stumble into a fit of melancholy out of nowhere.
“I miss ‘em, buddy,” he wails into Pike’s shoulder. “I never been that happy since. We was all traveling together, an’ sure, we was fightin’ dragons an’ liches an’ getting beat up all the time, an’ Vax died, but it was great, y’know?”
She smiles, patting his bald head. “It was the best.”
“Don’ tell ‘em. Don’ tell ‘em I said it.”
“It’s our secret. But Grog?”
“I think we all feel the same way.”
For Keyleth, it’s going to be a long process over many years. Half-elven druids who have completed an Aramente and taken on the mantle of leadership live a long time, but luckily, so do gnomes. And there’s certainly no time limit on grief. Keyleth travels enough that Pike gets to see her at least every few months, and by then, she’s usually in need of a good cry.
Pike hasn’t completely given up hope that Keyleth will find someone to make her happy on a more permanent basis. She’s stopped short of saying the words “that’s what Vax would want,” because they both know, and saying it would just be cruel. But until that happens, Pike will do what she can. She’ll go with Keyleth somewhere they can be alone and hold her as the tears start to fall.
It’s up to Keyleth whether things go any farther than that. Sometimes she just needs a sponge for her heartache, and Pike will always provide. Other times, though, she’ll realize that this is the closest, physically, she’s been to anyone since the last time Pike came around, and she’ll want to be loved a little bit harder. Pike is careful to always frame it in terms of need, lest Keyleth feel guilty.
“You have needs, too,” she says, kissing the tear tracks on Keyleth’s cheeks. “If you don’t have anyone else to fill them, I’m happy to.”
“I can’t keep asking this of you,” Keyleth says, looking away.
“You don’t even have to ask,” Pike says with a smile, trailing kisses down Keyleth’s throat.
Keyleth likes softness, gentleness. She’s always responsive under Pike’s hands and tongue, to the point where Pike sometimes wonders whether she bothers getting herself off between visits from Pike. And after Pike’s made her shiver through a few orgasms, she’ll always drop hints about self-care, holding Keyleth in case a few more tears fall. But she’ll never ask outright – if Keyleth wants to tell her, she will, in time. And they have plenty of time.
For Vex, it’s almost exclusively tears of laughter. They don’t see each other as often as they’d like, and there’s always lots to get caught up on. Vex knows how to tell a story, whether it’s about her kids or Trinket or the many bumbling nobles she has to deal with as a Baroness.
“…and then he starts going on and on about all the horrible creatures in the Parchwood, how he ran into this enormous, terrifying bear just the other day, like he’s going to call my status as Grand Mistress of the Gray Hunt into question. Percy just looks at me. And I whistle. And when Trinket comes ambling in from the hall, I thought the prissy jackass was going to faint dead away!”
Just because Pike knew the punchline was coming doesn’t mean she can keep from snorting wine out of her nose. It’s not her first glass of wine tonight, either. It’s not her first bottle.
“Tell me you called for his immediate execution,” she squeaks as she reaches for a napkin.
Vex rolls her eyes. “If only it were that simple! No, his family is one of the city’s largest suppliers of grain, so we have to be on good terms with him. That’s the thing no one tells you about diplomacy, darling – it’s not nearly satisfying as shooting a beholder full of arrows.”
Pike knows that’s not all there is to Vex, that she gets sad or frightened or overwhelmed just like the rest of them do, but she largely prefers to keep it to herself these days. It’s not that she’s more guarded, exactly, but now that they’re not constantly worried about dying at the hands of a mad scientist or an undead demi-god, it’s easier to be cheerful in general.
It’s Scanlan who really keeps Pike from taking herself too seriously, but Vex reminds her that you can be serious when it counts and still come out the other side with a smile.
For Percy, it’s… complicated. Vex will occasionally loan him out, so to speak. If the frequency with which she’s pregnant is any indication, Percy has rather insatiable needs, and Vex doesn’t feel like she always has to be the one that fills them. It’s also fairly clear that Percy is never going to stray from her side, so everyone is comfortable with the arrangement.
Sometimes Pike and Scanlan team up on him, and while that’s always entertaining, it doesn’t result in tears, not even when Scanlan beats Percy’s ass red, or refuses to let him come. Percy will grovel and beg and moan, but his eyes always stay dry.
The few times she’s gotten to play with Percy on her own, though, are a different beast. It’s not quite the full Grog waterworks, but it’s close. Pike never hurts Percy, not physically, but there’s a specific brand of humiliation that punches his buttons like nothing else. If Pike implies that Percy could maybe atone for his misdeeds, scrub his tarnished soul clean by paying worship to a goddess’s chosen, be a good boy by making Pike come over and over and over… well, she’s not above a little manipulation in the name of getting them both off. He cries throughout, silent tears as he venerates her body and great, gushing sobs afterward.
And sometimes – not very often, and with decreasing frequency nowadays – Pike herself will shed a tear for what could have been. If things had been a little bit different. If Percy had not had such an exclusive eye for Vex’ahlia. If he and Pike had met under other circumstances. If she’d gotten to him first.
There’s no way it’s healthy, thinking in terms of “if only…” but she doesn’t worry about “healthy” when she’s straddling his face, controlling how much and how often he breathes. Here, he’s not her friend, not another woman’s husband – he’s just another supplicant at the altar. And the way he worships is so, so sweet.
For Vax, well, Pike has to do the crying herself. Sometimes it’s out of sorrow, of course, for all the things that remind her of her Stringbean. For the first few years, that’s all it is, venting the pain of his loss.
But when the wound starts to heal, an ever-present but almost comforting knot of scar tissue, the reminders don’t hurt as much. Every time there’s a new de Rolo child in the world – which happens with almost alarming frequency – Pike sheds a few tears on Vax’s behalf. Whenever she hears news of Keyleth doing something amazing with the Ashari, she does the same.
There’s probably no need to pray for him now – he’s at rest with his Queen, far away from the pain of the living world – but she still does. She asks Sarenrae to bless the ravens that swoop overhead, in case one of them remembers a life of adventuring, a few friendships forged in blood. And if that causes a tear or two to roll down her cheek, that’s not so bad.