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Safety in a Fist of Diamonds

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There was something deeply fucking upsetting about the fact that her friends thought that Vex pinched pennies for her own sake.

 

There was something in her heart that broke, every time they made it a joke, when she bartered with innkeepers, with potion sellers, with Gilmore , for fuck’s sake, when they had first met him, before he turned into a friend.

 

There was something that stuck in her ribs when they thought it was greed rather than absolute, stomach churning panic when Vex counted their coin.

 

She wondered how much she looked like her mother, when she did. She has such vague memories of her mother now, clouded by a childhood elsewhere and years in between, and telling and retelling between her and Vax for a decade in a half since she last saw her face, but she does remember their mother up, late into the night, squinting in the fire light going over their tiny pouch of copper and silver, and a ruler-straight table looking at prices and rent and taxes and fees due on clothes that she bought for them by paying little bits a month.

 

She remembers her mother growing thin and worn, when one of them got sick, and didn’t connect it until years later to the price of medicine.

 

She remembers, she thinks, her mother gnawing at the end of a pencil, worrying at the end of her ponytail, looking at that sheet. (She wonders if she remembers the braid her mother had slung over one shoulder, or if it’s something she imagined, that she and Vax created together years later, to bring her with them in whatever way they could.)

 

No one else has any fucking idea what to do with money. Vax had always given his to her- the nature of clasp jobs, of pickpocketing, was that he never knew if he was going to come home with a fistful of gold or with a black eye, and there was never any guarantee that the fistful of gold would last until the next windfall. There was never any way to know if they would have a place to stay by the end of the night, if there would be a silver piece to spare at the end of the week for a hot meal, or if her brother would be caught in the stocks by the end of the day. He has always been of the spend it while you have it, opinion- no point in saving your money if it’s about to be confiscated when you’re arrested, or a stronger thief will take it from you by the end of the day.

 

When they started adventuring with others, it quickly became clear that no one else had any bloody idea how to handle money either, when they were never sure of where their next job was going to come from, or when they needed to pay for a visit to a temple or passage on a boat or bribery. Vex always made sure that they had a safety net of a night at a tavern, a night at a temple, and much, much later, a cushion of insurance she would not touch precisely enough to buy a diamond big enough to retrieve a soul.

 

They’ve come a long way from having to barter to get the scraps left in the soup pot.

Now- Now they had money almost literally to burn. Now they had more money than they knew what to do with, and still the panic in Vex’s chest gnawed at her ribs, climbed up her throat, sat heavy in the base of her neck. Now they have a pair of fucking castles, enough money that buying a ship was an inconvenience, not a pipe dream.

 

Vex, suddenly, couldn’t think of the last time that they were actually at risk of running out of money. Couldn’t remember the last time that there was a risk of running out of money, that she was squeezing coppers because if she didn’t make every sovereign sing, there wouldn't be any food on the table the next night. She had- her friends and her had- her family and she had- made it. There wasn’t anything they could do, short of tossing the bag of holding into the Ozmit, that would render them penniless, and even then, if they sold something as simple as a ring or a pair of boots or a spare dagger, Vex could get them back on their feet from four hundred, a hundred, fifty gold pieces, she could get them to somewhere where titles and land and tradition ensured that Vox Machina would never need to starve, in their homes or in the streets.

 

They had so much fucking money now, that they couldn’t even take it all with them when they travelled.

 

Her mother, looking at two growing children, counting their ribs, growing so fast that their pants were always inches above their ankles, could carry every coin she owned in one fist. Vex had not seen a gold coin in her life until she met her father.

 

That was then. This is now, this is the reality of now, with a title that ensures that even if she ever ran out of money she would not starve, with friends powerful enough to take her in, with a reputation such that she may never have to buy her own drink again in her life. Her friends might want for things, but they would never need for things.

 

She would never have to split her family into pieces to come back in the evenings to make sure they had something to eat, fearing that she would never see them again. She would never, ever, in her life, have to send her family away to ensure they were safe from gnawing unending hunger. She would never have to feel her heartbreak as she sent family away because she knew they could escape hunger somewhere else. For once, for once , that much was safe. Someday, maybe even someday soon, she could convince herself to believe it.