Ennis kills her first person by drowning them and, even years after the fact, she wakes with their screams fresh in her ears.
His first kill is almost an accident – some Runorata guy picks a fight and Firo gets a little too friendly with a knife; there’s blood everywhere and the guy’s not moving and Firo stands there, clutching his knife, and Maiza shows up, grim-faced, and takes it away, and then Firo’s shaking and sobbing, everything he ate earlier is coming up, and Maiza just puts a hand on his shoulder.
Then he asks her for her name, like he doesn’t already know it, and she does not understand this boy, but she answers, “Ennis.”
Firo hates how that man thought of her; Firo hates the way he disposed of the ones before her; Firo hates the way his voice, his memories, are always pounding in his skull.
“Whatcha thinkin’?” he asks her every time, like he cannot see, and a significant amount of time passes before she understands why he asks rather than takes.
Ennis aches with the emptiness that follows Szilard’s loss so harshly she stays awake most nights, shuddering with it; she should not feel his absence so sharply but she can do nothing else, because he was her sun, stars, earth, and sky.
There’s this horrible sense of ownership that comes with the geezer’s memories, pounding, every time he looks at her or thinks about her until he wants throw up or carve the monster from his brain, or both.
Remarkably, it’s Czes who suggests that the three of them get an apartment together, and Ennis who agrees first.
Firo grins as Ennis looks down at the penny candy, her brows furrowed, and she looks back up at him, then pops it into her mouth, and yeah – it makes his day.
Firo grasps her wrist hard enough that she stills, but she clutches the tea pot tighter, fearing to drop it, and he says, only, “You don’t have to do that, Ennis.”
“Just stop it, all right?” he snaps, slams his glass down hard enough to crack it, “I don’t expect you to do anything for me!”
“Someday,” Ennis tells Miria, “I will be able to leave behind my past, and then – I’ll find something better.”
It’s the ripple to her wave, the echo to her sigh, the bruise to her break, the note to her song – her emotions shake him as aftershocks and he never quite loses the feeling that he’s invading her privacy, even though he can’t help it.
There are days when everyone laughs at a joke she cannot understand and something akin to anger settles deep in her chest – and he always shows up to explain then, like he somehow knows.
Breathing heavy and sweating, they lock eyes while Ennis tucks her knife away, and then Firo grins and says, “Good fight.”
Firo loves listening to her talk, so he doesn’t complain when she explains the biology of homunculi in terms he has to dig through Szilard’s memories to find the meanings of; he listens and watches the way her mouth forms the words so precisely, her eyes shining.
On quiet days, it’s hard to ignore everything, everyone in his brain, and his breathing gets fast, and he scrunches his eyes shut because, sometimes, you learn things you never wanted to know.
They move as one, and while he takes out the first man, Ennis downs the one with the gun aimed at Firo’s head, and their grins are feral as they swiftly beat the rest, together.
When he falls – blood and guts splattered all across the alleyway – her breath catches painfully in her; to be truthful, Ennis cannot imagine what their life would be were Firo mortal.
One day, Claire tells Firo he’d never invent someone he’d have to wait so long for, and Firo just grins and says, “Well, never did like the easy road.”
That day, he looks into the mirror and yells; Ennis arrives too late to keep him from smashing it and the shards of glass are already easing out of his knuckles; Firo doesn’t look at her, just whispers, “I saw someone else.”
Firo, Ennis, Maiza, and Czes hold their first snowball fight in 1949 and no one expects Firo and Maiza to lose as badly as they do – as it turns out, Czes loves rocks and Ennis can always tell which direction Firo’s going to move.
Everyone always talks on and on about how patient he is, but, he figures, when you’ve got forever there’s plenty of time to wait for the one you love.
“Hey,” he says, tugs her hand away from her eyes, “You worked hard for those tears – don’t stop ‘em!”
Ennis is livid, shaking, white, and she takes a breath to calm herself, but it doesn’t work, and Firo looks at her, and then down at the man bleeding at her feet, puts his hat back on, and Ennis says, “I could have done that myself,” and Firo stuffs his hands into his pockets and doesn’t apologize.
His eyelids flutter briefly when her fingers brush the inside of his wrist, and she stops because he has a hard enough time sleeping without her interference.
Promising forever or always terrifies some people, like Luck, but Firo loves being able to say “forever” and mean it.
His tears shock her not because she has never seen him cry, but because they come from nowhere, and then he is clutching her, saying over and over “I’m sorry” and she cannot fathom what in the world he has to be sorry about, so she hushes him and brushes her fingertips over his temples.
“And, after all of that,” Isaac and Miria lean in toward Ennis, and she smiles, “He just wanted to give me back the button I had dropped.”
“Ennis,” he tries not to laugh at her, but he really wants to, she can tell, so she folds her arms and he clarifies, “I’d wait for you forever.”
“Tell me a little about your life?” she hesitates, but then continues, “Before?”
She hands him a flower – it’s a red chrysanthemum, just one, one singular red chrysanthemum and only half-open at that – and Firo takes it and just stares at it for a bit before he whispers “thank you”.
There’s a silk dress shirt he doesn’t wear very often, but when he does, she can’t help but toy with the buttons at his cuff – and when she glances up at him, he holds her gaze.
Ennis doesn’t make promises often, but, when she does, she keeps them no matter what, and he wishes she wouldn’t; Firo worries that one day she’ll make a promise she can’t keep.
“Since you really wanna know, I’ll tell ya all about me, pretty lady.”
After their first disastrous kiss where she knocks out four of his teeth and nearly knifes him in surprise, she thinks there is no cause to attempt a second; but it happens anyway, this time just a brush of lips that has her wanting rather than fighting.
Firo trails off mid-thought, his words fall to nothing, and she offers a smile that he traces with the pad of his thumb; sometimes, he thinks, it’s not really about what you can say, it’s what you can feel.
It isn’t often she wants anything, but, sometimes when she looks at Firo, the desire for – for – something makes itself known and she finds herself flushing for a reason she can’t name.
It does not happen in one day, or perhaps it does and it merely takes her an abnormal amount of time to find it; but, either way, falling in love proves to be more pertinent to her interests than she originally thinks.
Firo just laughs as she struggles with the words, but she’s got this real determined look on her face, like when she was trying to rescue Isaac and Miria so long ago, and he expects a whisper, but she’s trying so hard that she almost shouts – “I love you!”
“I’m sorry,” she brings a hand up to her chin thoughtfully, “but I don’t understand the point – why not sign the paper and be done?”
Living together is not always easy, nor is it always difficult; but she likes the way their lives fit together (not perfectly but snugly), and he loves the way that, no matter what, they’re always around for each other.
She maps the scars that are the mementos to his lost mortality with her fingertips, and Firo sucks in a breath when she finds the sensitive one at his hip – “Ennis –“
Apparently heat is just one of those things you never get used to and it still gets him – but he doesn’t think that gives Ennis the right to dump a bucket of ice of him first thing in the morning.
She still prefers a quill to a pen, no matter how many times he insists that pens are simpler, cheaper, and, in fact, far superior in every way.
The water is warm and the shower is really too small for both of them, but it doesn’t seem to matter when his hands find her hips, or when she presses her mouth to his collarbone and tastes his water-warmed skin.
Firo lashes out when he’s slammed into the wall of his own house and he jabs his knife into his attacker’s ribs – Ennis cries out but then she twists his wrist; he can’t help but grin because it’s taken her a long time to be this comfortable with him, to spring a surprise attack on him, and he’s certainly not complaining.
Years later, he looks back and has to laugh, because if it weren’t for a fire and a gold button, they might never have met.
Some nights, it catches them by surprise, fingers just barely brushing; other nights, they take it by surprise, with the flash of knife blades in a dim-lit room; other nights, it’s just there, softening their smiles and eyes; and, sometimes, it’s not there at all, but they weather all unhappiness for that chance glimmer of joy.