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When Inigo was four, he loved teddy bears, kittens and swords. The best swordmaker in the world – his father – gave him a sword for his birthday, and Inigo swung it around happily for hours and hours until his mother chided him for slicing up her furniture. ("Furniture doesn't heal," she told him.)

When Westley was four, he didn't know what love was.

***

When Inigo was fourteen, his sword was polished to perfection and his blood bubbled with thoughts of revenge. Six-fingered men danced through his dreams; Inigo dreamed of slicing his sword through all of them.

"You killed my father," Inigo whispered as he thrust his sword through a ratty old sofa cushion, and stuffing exploded all over the floor.

That didn't sound quite right. It just needed a little tweaking.

"My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father." The old sofa cushion died again as Inigo stabbed it.

That sounded better. Much better.

When Westley was fourteen, he dreamed of his future, of who he would fall in love with (head over heels, because that was the proper way to fall in love). He imagined that they would have a sharp mind, with a strong passion for life.

***

When Inigo was twenty-four, he still loved swords. He loved using his sword to slice up teddy bears (for practice) and to cut up meat (for the kittens). He took pride in keeping his sword sharp and free of blood (for Inigo, there was nothing worse than people who didn't clean their swords, except – of course – the six-fingered man).

When Westley was twenty-four, he knew exactly what love was. His heart twisted with it whenever he thought of Buttercup. She was beautiful (perhaps not as witty as he would have hoped, but she was certainly strong-minded and that was enough for Westley). He thought about his love for Buttercup every night before going to bed and every morning before getting up. He despaired over it and wondered if Buttercup would ever return his affections. He sang soft ballads about it underneath her windowsill until she threw her left boot out the window at him.

After that, Westley stopped singing ballads. Buttercup obviously didn't appreciate them.

***

When Inigo first met Westley, he thought Westley might be able to put up a fight. It had been so long since Inigo had fought with anybody worthwhile. It only took a couple of swings of his sword for Inigo to change his view. Westley was a worthy opponent. For the first time in years, Inigo wondered if he would lose.

It was with relief when Inigo took a deep breath after their adventures and realised that not only did Westley prove to be a worthy opponent; he was also a worthy friend.

***

When Westley first met Inigo, he didn't think about anything except Buttercup.

It was only after they had all escaped that Westley began to think about other things in life. It was difficult at first because his life had been about Buttercup for so long, but now other people were depending on him. He might have been injured and near death, but he knew that Inigo and Fezzik relied on him. It was with a bit of surprise when Westley realised that he relied on them as well. He'd never had anything like that before. His entire life had always been about himself. Then it had been about Buttercup. And then saving Buttercup. But now, she no longer needed saving, and there were other people here who could save him.

It was different, Westley decided as he gazed out into the ocean. Different, but not necessarily bad. Just like the food they had was different, but not necessarily bad.

"Here," Fezzik said as he thrust something underneath Westley's nose. "Eat."

Westley stared at it and changed his mind. This was bad. It looked remarkably like a bowl of slugs.

"It's a bowl of slugs," Fezzik confirmed. He looked apologetic. "There was nothing else I could find." He picked a slug up and swallowed it. "It isn't too bad."

Westley wrinkled his nose. "Do we have anything else?"

Inigo waved something under his nose as well. There was a sly look on his face. "I found some wild spinach."

Westley made a face. "Well it's obvious what I'm going to eat then. I hate spinach."

***

Inigo was surprised when they all ended up on a ship together. It wasn't called the Revenge and Westley didn't style himself as the Dread Pirate Roberts, but it was still a fine ship. Not a big ship, but a fine ship nonetheless. Inigo could have walked the length of the ship in ten strides. Buttercup looked a bit green when the ship went over a rough bit of the ocean, but other than that, everything went smoothly.

"Anybody following us?" Inigo asked.

Fezzik shook his head. "Nobody." He hesitated. "Except that big fish."

Inigo turned and saw that indeed, there was a big fish that was following their ship. Its scales glittered in the sunlight. His stomach rumbled.

"I can make a good fish soup," Buttercup offered.

"I can catch the fish," Fezzik said.

It was teamwork at its best.

That night, Inigo had to agree with Buttercup. She definitely made a good fish soup; it was spicy, but not too spicy. The fish meat just fell off the bones. "Much better than spinach," he said with relish.

Westley nodded fervently.

***

When Inigo was thirty-four, he realised that although he still loved swords (and kittens, but not teddy bears), they weren't his first love anymore. His love for swords had been replaced by love for his family: Fezzik, Buttercup and, of course, Westley. They could rely on each other and face the world together.

Inigo wanted to tell everybody what he had just realised.

"You're my family," he said with a broad smile as he served up spinach soup.

"Thank you," Westley said dryly. His fingers brushed against Inigo's as he served the soup.

It was then that Westley also realised something.

He just didn't tell anybody.

-fin