He got all weird and withdrawn and sullen every time he and Keyleth and Gilmore were in the same room together, until Gilmore went to Keyleth to ask if he should just stay away from the two of them.
(He couldn’t ask Vax. Vax might say “yes, Gilmore, stay away from me”, and he’d had his heart broken by Vax’ildan quite enough, thank you.)
So he asked Keyleth, who was very confused. She told him not to change a thing, that she certainly had no problem with him, and that she would talk to Vax.
“Vax?” Her voice was quiet in the dark of their room, and Vax made a snorting sort of asleep noise in response. “Vax, do you hate Shaun?”
The next noise was more explosive than the first, and he sat up, staring down at her with bleary eyes. “Keyleth, what the f-”
“He thinks you hate him,” she interrupted, sitting up. “He asked me if he should just stay away from us.”
“I don’t want that,” he protested, pressing the heels of his palms into his eyes.
“He seems to think you do.”
There was a long pause, where Vax seemed to be trying to collect the scattered pieces of his brain.
“Gods,” he muttered. “You couldn’t have done this any other time? Like when I was awake?”
“Sorry,” she said sheepishly.
He dropped his hands, staring ahead rather than looking at her. “I don’t hate Shaun,” he said quietly. “I think it might actually be quite the opposite.”
“You still have feelings for him.” She tried to keep it from sounding like a condemnation, but Vax still flinched a little.
“Well, yeah. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love you. It’s like…” he trailed off, sighed in frustration. “Like we’ll be in the sitting room, holding hands, yeah? And I feel like I should be holding hands with Shaun, too. Not instead of you. In addition to you.” He stared at her, a kind of hopelessness in his eyes. “Does that make any kind of sense?”
“I...I think so.” She laid her hand on top of his. “You’ve...always had a very big heart, Vax.”
“And you have my heart,” he said fiercely. “I just think...I think he might, as well. And I don’t know what to do about that.”
“Well, sulking in the corner every time you see him hasn’t done much but hurt his feelings, so far,” she said, and he sighed, his shoulders sagging. “But...I think maybe I’m not the person to talk to about this.”
“What do you mean?”
“You haven’t hurt my feelings, Vax.” She squeezed his hand. “I love you and I trust you and I know your heart works in ways your head doesn’t always understand or know how to explain. Shaun hasn’t had the chance to learn that about you. I think he deserves it.”
“...Keykey, it’s very late, I need you to use small words.”
She giggled, leaning in to kiss Vax on the cheek.
“Go hold Shaun’s hand.”
Vax knocked on the door of the small house Gilmore had in Whitestone, trying not to fidget. He wasn’t a teenager on a first date, he was a grown man, Shaun was a grown man, they were both grown men and there was nothing to be nervous about.
Which did nothing to keep him from being incredibly nervous.
The door opened a crack at first, then completely as Shaun saw who it was. “Vax’ildan,” he said, surprise in his voice.
“What, ah. What brings you here?”
“...can we talk?”
He hated the fear that entered the other man’s eyes at the question. He hated that he’d put it there.
“But of course.” He stepped aside, ushering Vax inside, and quickly prepared them each a cup of tea. “What would you ask of me?” he asked as he sat at the small table, gesturing for Vax to do the same.
“Keyleth told me I upset you,” he said, wrapping his hands around the cup to keep them from shaking. “I wanted to apologize for that.”
“I apologize for whatever I did to warrant your...apparent displeasure,” Shaun countered, taking a long sip of tea.
“You didn’t do anything,” Vax insisted. “I’m just...a very stupid man, sometimes. Who is luckier than he deserves, to have people like you in my life.”
And he explained his dilemma, about holding hands and sharing his heart. Gilmore listened very quietly, looking at the table, hands wrapped around a rapidly cooling teacup.
“I love Keyleth,” Vax finished. “But I think, given the chance, I might…” he took a deep breath, forcing the words out before they could stick in his throat. “I might love you too. If you’re willing to give me that chance.”
Shaun was quiet for a long moment, tapping a finger against the side of his teacup.
“Please say something,” Vax whispered, as the silence stretched into the unbearable.
“Historically,” Shaun said, after a few more breaths, “I don’t share well. I’m jealous, I like to keep the things that are mine close to hand and show them off.”
Vax nodded, swallowing, staring at the floor. “I understand.”
“But,” Shaun continued, as though Vax hadn’t spoken. “Let it never be said that I wasn’t willing to go out on a limb to get what I want.” He smiled, a quick flash of bright teeth. “I’m willing to try. For you, Vax’ildan.”
Vax felt like his heart had been tied to a stone, and he hadn’t known it until it was released, rising up into his throat.
“Thank you,” he said, whispering more out of necessity than anything else.
“Come,” Shaun said, standing. His cloak flew to his hand from its hook by the door. “Let’s go tell dear Keyleth the good news.” He fastened the cloak around his shoulders and offered Vax his arm. “Before you get all weepy and I’m forced to join you in solidarity.”
Vax gave a watery sort of laugh, standing and looping his arm through Shaun’s. An old, familiar motion, but there was something new about it now, something electric, that made him exceedingly aware of every point at which their arms touched. They made their way through town, Shaun’s smile brighter than it had been in ages, his fingers light against Vax’s wrist.
He wasn’t sure what he’d started, but he was very interested to see where it ended up.