Tove drifted through the guild hall, and with no real goal in mind, blinked when she found herself on Fiel’s doorstep. Well, not that any of them really had doors, but figuratively, that’s where she was. (And she went no further because she was genuinely afraid of breaching the necromancer’s private space uninvited.)
Well, this was as good a place as any.
“…Fiel?” The skaald didn’t exactly have a problem pitching her voice to carry, even in the gilded caverns. “Are you there?”
Fiel was there.
He had been sleeping in his bed, still half-dressed, and had somehow found the way to roll off and continue his slumber on the gilded floor.
He awoke with an annoyed grunt, eyes still fused shut from sleep.
“Yeah? Wassgoin’ on?”
“…I don’t know,” she said, frowning. “Everything? Everything is kind of going on. Can we…talk? I think I came here to talk.” Or something. Mostly she wanted to have feelings at someone with at least a vague understanding of her situation.
It took him a moment to first remember who he was, then where he was, finally what he was doing on the floor.
Then it took another short spell to comprehend her words and find the appropriate response.
“Uuuh… yeah? Sure?” He cleared his throat. His mouth felt pasty. “Hold on, lemme just…”
He stood up, stretched, grabbed some of his hidden beer in his desk drawer to wet his whistle, and finally sat back down on the bed.
“Make yourself comfortable. Sit wherever. Just– not on the operating table. Unless you want to start wearing chaps.”
“I spilled some acid on it last night,” he explained.
Tove stepped in and gave the operating table an alarmed look. “I’m not sure I’d ever sit on an operating table? Acid or no acid. That just seems like…no. I will uh…” She found a vertical surface to wedge herself against. “This is fine. I’m good. I mean I’m not, at all, that’s why I’m here, but you know…my physical location over here is just dandy. You’re adorably disheveled, by the way. I just thought I should mention that.”
She flashed him a smile that was both bright and brittle.
He took another swig of that beer, not caring about making himself presentable, or rubbing the gunk out of the corner of his eyes.
“I’m always adorable.”
He rolls his neck to try and stretch that little cramp he got from laying on a cold metal floor for hours, grunting and huffing.
“Tove, I’m too tired and sleepy to beat around the bush. Please tell me what’s bothering you.”
She felt a momentary flash of guilt. Who was she, anyway, to drag her problems to his doorstep? Sure, there were some mutual concerns, but it wasn’t like they were…friends?
_Were_ she and Fiel friends?
Were they…_not_ friends?
Tove filed this new crisis away to worry about later. She already had enough.
“I’m…I don’t know. I don’t even know what my mental state is anymore, Fiel. I mean, I’m worried about…” And she gestured broadly, indiating The Whole World And The Stupid Dragons In It, “all of that, which would be enough to make anyone an anxious mess, right? But then there’s also all of this,” and she made a small circular gesture to indicate herself, Fiel, and the absent Cap. “And honestly that’s even worse to me because my personal stakes are higher. And yet not because this is all moot if the dragons destroy the world but nevermind that.”
She took a deep breath. “And you know what the _stupidest_ part is? This tiny little niggling voice of uncertainty…this tiny…horrible thing…that says Tove, if you help Cap? If we manage to cleanse this corruption…maybe…just maybe…a non-broken Cap in his right mind won’t want anything to do with you. And that? Like, why am I even thinking that? Don’t I have enough to worry about?” She dragged her hands down her face. “I don’t even know anymore, Fiel! And I’m sorry to…to even wander this way and…but no one else…I don’t know.”
She slid down the wall until she was just sitting on the floor.
For a moment he listened silently. Then remained silent for a little while longer, pondering.
“Well…” he finally sighed. “I don’t know if I’m the right person to go to for mental health, but…”
He shrugged, letting his hand fall on his thigh with a soft slap.
“Here’s what I can tell you about worrying:” he continues, pausing for another swig of his drink. “Bad things will happen. No matter what. If not today, then tomorrow. And I’m not saying this to be pessimistic, what I’m trying to say is… fear just won’t help.”
“I know I’m not a good example for it, because I’m afraid as well. But… I’ve kinda learned to say ‘Fuck it. Let’s see what happens.’ Because at the end of day, fear only paralyzes you. If you let fear take over, you can’t fight, and therefore you can’t win. And even if you lose… at least you wouldn’t have spent your last pissing your pants or tearing off your hair about it.”
“And at the very least… if the world is destroyed, and the Mists are shattered… then that’s it. There would be nothing left. Including the pain, and the fear.” He shrugged, “So why worry then? We would finally be free.”
Fiel offered her a sad smile.
“It’s grim consolation, I know. But I find this kind of thinking more… productive than doing shit like getting black-out drunk every day and waiting for the end of claim me, ya know?”
He cleared his throat a little. Speaking so much right after waking up is a bit sticky.
“As for Cap, well…”
He leaned back more comfortably in his bed.
“I barely know the guy, I realize that now. Sure, I might have known him for years, might know stuff about him that most people don’t… but in the end, he’s still a mystery to me. He’s a scruffy wall of a man. The silent type that doesn’t share much. And always all…” he frowned and pulled a face that was meant to imitate Cap’s usual demeanor.
“So who the fuck knows? Maybe he would change. Or maybe dying loosened him up a little and he’s not as afraid of sharing his feelings now.”
Fiel raised his bottle.
“Did wonders for me. Death builds character.”
“If anything, whoever he is now seems to like you well enough. So you should stop worrying about the what-ifs about him loving you or not, and go jump that pirate’s peg leg right now.”
“You know, I wasn’t this bad before,” Tove said, rubbing her forehead. “Before that fucking dragon got in my head. And it’s really annoying that even though they’re not whispering bullshit to me anymore, the damage remains. They don’t need to say these things when I now say them to myself. I’m going to murder the fucking shit out of Jormag so hard, Fiel, and with so much glee. But of course…you’re right there too, I’m sure.”
She sighed, and wiped away a tear she hadn’t even known was there. Damn it. “Also I don’t know if anyone is a good person to come to about mental health right now. Ambrosine, maybe. But I didn’t want the best person, I wanted someone who might…understand. So thank you. You’ve been…helpful, as much as anyone can be in this garbage heap of a situation.”
She rubbed her eyes some more. Fuuuuuck. But Fiel’s trying to imitate Cap’s usual expression made her chuckle.
“You and Cap are both pretty closed books, you know. Adds to the mystique. You can’t properly brood in the corner and be sexy doing it if you’re not mysterious, it just doesn’t work right.”
She unfolded herself with fluid grace and resumed her carefree lean against the wall, leaking feelings tucked back into their proper boxes. The peg leg comment just earned him a wry look. “I don’t need encouragement.”
A pause. “Thank you, again. Now I’ll apologize for waking you and find something productive to do so that my thoughts don’t get too loud again.” Tove bows with a flourish.
“It doesn’t need to be that way, you know.”
The bottle is emptied. Dang it.
“Me being a closed book. We don’t have to keep each other at arm’s length, only consorting just to talk about… Him,” he says with mock-gravitas. “Sure, I don’t say much about myself. But that’s because I’m just… not that kind of person.”
“But that doesn’t mean we have to act like we’re mere acquaintances. I like you, Tove. I’ve always considered you my friend.”
“It’s only your brother I don’t like.”
Then he grimaces.
“I love my brother deeply–he has been there for me through some of the darkest parts of my life. But he can also be a raging asshole, so I don’t always like him either.” Tove’s smile flickers brightly into existence. “Dislike him all you want, he deserves it and it won’t phase me any. And Jannry–” She stops and glances up. “…Jannry terrifies me, so. Yeah. There’s others in our merry crew that rub me the wrong way a bit, but that’s just life with people, hmm? Nothing worth mentioning.”
She tilts her head and looks at him thoughtfully. “Usually I give reserved sorts the space they seem to want. But perhaps in this case I’ve misread you, and so for the course correction, I’m grateful.”
Tension she hadn’t known she’d been holding uncoiled in her shoulders. As she pushes off the wall, all fluid grace, it’s clear that Tove is back on an even keel. Not so much because of the first bit of the conversation, but because of the last–ever the pack animal, she’s happy to remove any mental question marks around her estimations of friends.
Her smile this time was dimmer but more genuine. “Thank you, Fiel.”
“Maybe I’ll learn to love him as well, someday” he replied, unconvinced.
“I’ve told you before: I look like the dark, brooding type. Doesn’t mean I am.”
Fiel shot her a wink, before bending over to grab the sheet off the floor.
“Now if you don’t mind… it’s not that I don’t want to talk to you, but I still got some sleep to catch.”
Fiel tucked himself back in, rolled over and huffed.
The big dark brooding necromancer needed his beauty sleep.
Tove laughed softly. “Sleep well.” She sketched a bow–that that he would see it–and spun on her heel, striding out.