Gawain sat on the edge of the rocky shore, kicking his legs in the water. He was mesmerized, watching Nen glide around with so much elegance and grace. Every once in a while, he dove down and jumped out of the ocean, rising a good ten feet before falling back down.
Nen was amazing. Amazing as a person, a friend, a swimmer. There wasn't enough time in the world for Gawain to dedicate to thinking about him. He could watch him do nothing but swim for years and never get bored.
Gawain shook his head, sighed, and buried his head in his hands. There were those thoughts again. They came around constantly now, almost every day. They scared him, and he was beginning to feel that he had no hope.
It had started not too long after his mistake of a trip home to Eiden Craig - every once in a while, he'd look at his best friend and think, 'Why are you so perfect?' or 'Can I spend the rest of my life with you?' He'd shared some of his thoughts with Nen a few times, and he'd always repeat the sentiment and smile, and they'd go about their day. But now he was starting to think of thoughts that were scary to entertain, and even scarier to say. Things like, 'I feel like this is our destiny' or 'I would die for you.' Things like 'I love you.'
It made Gawain mad enough to cry. After a lifetime with so little time for friends or fun, he found the other Wielders, the people he was born to be with. And even among them, Nen was like... A super best friend. A best friend on steroids. His only bro. But with every passing day, Gawain felt more and more like he was going to ruin everything. He didn't know anything about Nen's feelings. He saw their friendship like a well made house of cards - and he was terrified of bumping the table. What if he ended up toppling it? What if he said something that was just too much, and scared him away?
Gawain looked up when he heard the sound of Nen swimming to shore. He scooted back from the edge, allowing Nen enough room to pull himself up to a sitting position. Gawain handed him a towel to dry his hair with, and then pulled his knees up to his chest.
Nen knew too much about Gawain's body language to let it slide. He turned around and cocked an eyebrow. "You okay, bro?" He asked, his towel spread over his head like a hood.
"Yeah," Gawain muttered. "I just..." His words caught in his mouth. His voice - his loud, brash voice - failed him now, of all moments. He averted his eyes toward a nearby rock.
He wanted to shut his eyes and cry. It was beyond frustrating to feel this way around his best friend. He wanted to yell words, any of them, any of the thoughts that were filling up his head, just to get it over with and see how it ended. But if he couldn't make himself say anything, at least he could do something.
Carefully, he scooted toward Nen, who had shrugged and turned away. He came up behind him and wrapped his arms around Nen's waist, locking him in a hug from the back.
Nen wasn't surprised at all. "Man, if you needed a hug, you just had to ask."
Gawain said nothing, but rested his chin on his friends shoulder. He took a deep breath in through his nose, trying to build his courage before finally speaking.
"What's up, bro?"
"You know, I... I thought the other day, about what would've happened to me... If I'd never been a wielder. If none of us were."
Nen was silent for a moment. "That's a strange thing to think about."
Gawain felt a lump form in his throat. If he stopped talking now, he'd felt like he'd never talk again. "Yeah... Yeah, it probably is. I don't know what would happen to everyone else, but..."
Gawain squeezed Nen a little tighter. "I feel like... We would've met anyway. I mean, you're a Thalassan - and royalty, too. My dad probably would've made me go into the army... Maybe if I got to a high enough rank, we'd see each other at, like... A war meeting, or something? And then... Maybe we'd get to know each other. And we'd become friends." He paused. "Is that weird?"
Nen said nothing. Gawain felt the panic rising inside of him, wondering if he'd said something wrong, if he'd stepped over the boundary they'd set up, if maybe this talk of their 'destiny' together was too much their friendship. Something Nen would be disgusted with. He should've picked something more tame to confess to. He shouldn't have brought this up. He shouldn't have talked at all.
He managed to calm himself, if only a little, by focusing his attention on the overpowering sensation of Nen's heartbeat. He felt it pulse beneath his damp, cool skin, trying to read it for some sort of a sign.
Finally, Nen laughed. He patted Gawain on the arm. "Nah, bro, that doesn't sound weird at all. In fact, it seems about right."
"Yeah." Nen stared out at the skyline. "Deep down... Wielder or not, we were probably supposed to find each other."
Gawain swallowed. "You think that?"
"Of course I do!" Nen unlatched Gawain's hands from his waist and stood up, and before his emotion addled mind could react, Nen was lifting him into the air.
"If you didn't find me, who else would be my best bro?" Nen smiled up at him so brilliantly that Gawain couldn't help but smile back. He loved Nen's smile so, so much.
Nen put him down and started toward the house, the towel wrapped around his waist, his tousled hair flowing behind him. Gawain caught up threw an arm around the his shoulder. "That's true! After all, you'd be lost without me."
"Me? More like the other way around! You'd forget to moult if I weren't around."
"That is NOT true!" Gawain crossed his feathered arms defensively. "My memory is just fine! Like this morning - when we woke up, I put on boiling water for Sam to make his tea with, and-" He went still. Nen looked at him with dawning horror.
The two of them looked at each other and shouted, "Stove!"
Nen took off toward the cabin at a dead sprint. Gawain decided to fly, sticking a few paces behind. Despite his bravado, he was still a little shaken. Nen's voice echoed in his mind.
'Deep down... We were probably supposed to find each other.'
He had to hope Nen wasn't looking as he reached up to quickly wipe his eyes. Then, smiling, he took off toward the house at full speed.