She hadn't recognized him at first. When she first woke up she didn't really recognize anyone, but when she realized who he was she was angry and sad and so many other thing. Guts couldn't be anything other than happy. Happy she spoke with him. Even if the rest of the day Casca kept her distance. It was still fear it seemed, but not the same one from before. This one was more of an awkwardness mixed with guilt. He couldn't blame her for that reaction, who knows how he would react if under the same circumstances.
Some optimistic, stupid part of him had hoped things would go back to the way they had been before, but Guts knew that would never happen. Fate or casualty or whatever hated him too much. If she still hated him at least he could go and kill Griffith without any regrets. He could get his revenge and Casca would be here on Elfhelm safe and with her wits. Guts could live with that, well he could make peace with that, as his plan would probably end with him dying. Besides, after all the stuff he's done, even before all of the times he attacked her, he was never good enough or her. Everyone he'd ever been close to has come out worse for it; the smart rational thing to do would be to stay away.
Then, on the second night of her return she sought him out, having questions that only Guts had answers to. Casca had quickly found that no one really knew anything about what had happened. Schierke and Farnese had seen some of it, but of course didn't have enough of the context or overall knowledge to know. Puck had figured it out, but he was still on work duty and also an elf who she didn't really know. So she came to Guts.
Guts wasn't too keen on reliving the past, especially now that the woman who he'd been missing for years had returned, but in truth he had never fully processed it either, just pushed it deep down. That was how he dealt with most of his emotional problems, probably not the most healthy thing to do, but…
The party was still going after the full day before, this one was much more joyous and even more crazy if that was possible. He was seated some distance away, having already had his fill. Guts wasn't much for parties, at least, not ones like this. With the Hawks… he knew everyone, he was young, he cared about everyone, but now… Guts cared for his traveling companions, more than he could put into words and it scared him. Although none of that held a candle for what he felt for Casca. If he lost her again, Guts would lose himself for good probably. She was his tether, his sheath, and while he never wanted to be owned by another, Casca held some power over him that he didn't bother him.
She had approached him cautiously, almost like one would a wild animal. It was the same thing he had done to her ever since she lost her mind. He was surprised, although he probably shouldn't have been, when the first thing she asked about was her- their child.
She would've been a great mom.
"What happened to my- our child?" She asked, "I mean, there was a child right? I asked the others and all they talked about was some waif I took a liking to."
"How much do you remember?" He responded, perhaps too far away for this to be considered a private conversation. She was the one to come to him, Guts wasn't pushing any boundaries.
Even if he really wanted to.
"It's complicated," Casca explained, "Everything before…" She avoided saying it, but Guts knew what she meant. The Eclipse. "I remember fine, but after it becomes like remembering a dream, things don't make sense."
"More like a nightmare." He grumbled.
Casca nodded grimly, "I think I ignored a lot of the bad parts, but weird things mix in- and I just don't know."
The fear in her eyes made him wonder if she remembered what he had almost done to her. Of course she did, but there would be time for talk of that later. Guts pushed that thought away and asked one of the questions that had weighed on him since that night.
"Did you know?" He asked quietly.
"That you were with child."
She became sad. Maybe he shouldn't have asked that.
"So I was pregnant." Casca said. "I was late, but I'd been late before, and I had never done that before and-"
"So you didn't know."
"I wouldn't say that." She looked away, "I was pretty sure, but- I was scared, and then after everything." She took a breath and answered his first question, "I remember giving birth and you ripping him away from me. I hated you." Her voice became quiet. "He disappeared and I could feel him sometimes, but then you were back and he was grown and looked like Griffith. And then he was a light spirit."
"What do you mean he looked like Griffith?" Guts asked.
"Just that." Casca said, "He looked as Griffith did before… almost more though." She dismissed it with, "It was probably just one of the dreams any way. Don't worry."
"Griffith is back though. I don't know how exactly, but right before he came back I saw the demon infant for the last time."
"Demon infa- oh, the baby."
"You seemed to be drawn toward Griffith for some reason." Guts tried to stay calm, but everything was falling into place. "I thought- I don't know what I thought." Guts didn't want to admit that he had briefly thought of the idea that Casca had still loved Griffith, or that what he did to her wasn't totally one sided. From how she went mad, it didn't even cross Guts' mind, but after they encountered him and she was drawn to him, well, it was strange. There was also to factor in that maybe she just couldn't remember what Griffith did to her, or his inhuman charisma worked especially well on her because of her lack of lucidity. "He saved you from some rocks when I couldn't, despite saying he didn't have a heart anymore. But maybe it wasn't him, it was our son."
Casca's eyes widened. Guts continued, "Somehow he must've been absorbed or something. And so this whole time he's been watching out for us and I've given him nothing but hate."
A smile begin to pull at his features, of course that was what happened.
"Guts." Casca said taking a step closer.
"To think, now that it seems Griffith and him share a body I'll have to kill him too. And the problem is I would've done it. I wouldn't have even known, and now- and now I'm becoming Gambino."
"Guts." Casca protested again, but he still ignored her.
"No, I'm worse than him. I wasn't even his child, just some orphan. This is my flesh and blood!"
"Guts." Casca was more forceful, but he still ignored her.
"Because that's all I can do, kill. There's some part of me that wants to kill everyone!"
"Guts!" Casca called a third time, now an arms length away. It broke him out of his spiral down into despaired. "What happened to you?" Something broke inside of him.
What happened to him?
She did say anything, waiting for him to elaborate. Guts fought with himself whether to tell her or not. But she deserved answers, she deserved anything he could provide for her.
"My eye." He said finally.
"Your eye?" She questioned, moving to touch the one still intact.
"No, the other one."
Her perfect lips formed an 'o' and this really wasn't the time for those kind of thoughts. Even if this was the first time Casca had willinging touched him in a year. And even longer since she'd done it while lucid.
Her hand moved over to lightly feel the missing eye. "You lost this during… and your arm?"
He nodded slightly saying, "The last thing this eye saw was the man I thought was my friend sacrificing the band of the hawk to hoards of demons, and," His voice broke. Guts realized he'd never said this before, not out loud at least. Somehow saying it outloud made it more real, made it worse, "Raping the woman I love."
Casca's eyes widened and she withdrew her hand as if his face had burned him. Good. Drive her away. It's better for both of you if you just don't go there.
"Is that true?" She asked, voice shaking, no her whole body was trembling. He wanted to reach out and hold her, to tell her everything would be okay, but he couldn't.
So all he said was, "Yeah."
"No no," Casca said, "You loved me."
That's what she was focused on? Something she should already know? Guts couldn't blame her if she didn't want to think about the eclipse; he didn't either.
"No," He clarified, "I love you."
Casca's face started to scrunch up the way it did before she started crying, tears welling up. Her voice was thick with emotion as she implored, "Why? How could you love someone like me?"
"What do you mean?" Guts asked, confused. Sure she was kind of violent, and a handful, but she was also smart and beautiful and amazing.
"After what happened, after what they did to me." She said, gasping a little as the sobs started. "After what I did to you."
Guts wanted to consul her, but he was still afraid of touching her and words were never his strong suit. Still he tried. "None of this is your fault. None of it." He sounded angry, but it wasn't directed at her, no it was more directed at the mere idea. His mind whirled on the right words to fix this, settling on, "You should be blaming me, like you always did. I'm the one who caused all of this."
"Because of me, Griffith-"
"No." Casca cut him off, "You didn't make Griffith do anything. He certainly knew the risks when he slept with the princess, and he made the decision to kill everyone, and he was the one who chose to- chose to-"
"-No, you're right." Guts interrupted, stopping her from saying it. He had almost forgotten. With Casca back he'd almost forgotten the rage and revenge that had fueled him for those years. "It's his fault. It's his fault and I'm gonna kill him."
Casca smiled through the crying at this. "You're so angry now. So much hatred." She said with fragility.
"I'm sorry." He said lamely.
She tried wiping her eyes and nose, but tears kept falling. "And everyone thought I was the one who lost my mind." She hiccuped into a small laugh, "You went mad too."
Guts didn't say anything, he just stared into her eyes. They were so dark. In the dim light of the waning moon and lanterns the brown he knew was there was lost. Casca was so beautiful.
"I have an idea." She said, "Close your eyes. It's a spell to help heal you."
"You know magic?" He said skeptically.
"Of course." Casca spoke somberly, "All moms do." Noticing his lack of response she demanded, "So close your eyes."
"Eye." Guts muttered, correcting her, but she took it as an 'Aye'. He closed his eye anyway.
"Lean down a bit."
Guts did as he was told and felt her hands cup the side of his face as she pulled him down to her. He panicked slightly, but let her do whatever it was she was going to do.
A kiss, a kiss to the eyelid of his ruined eye. Much less than ever touch him willingly, Guts thought he would die before she kissed him again.
"There." Casca said quietly, "Not all better, but a little, I hope."
He was speechless. So with his voice not working Guts pressed his lips to the top of her head. Her hair was soft.
Casca wrapped her arms around him and started to cry again. He gently held her with his good arm. Guts felt something wet on his face and realized tears were coming from his eye too.
Somehow they ended up lying on the mossy ground, staring up at the stars. The crying had finally stopped. Her head was resting on his chest, his arm around her waist.
"Jeaudo always did think I cried too much." Casca said breaking the silence. She had stopped crying finally, as had Guts.
"That doesn't sound like Jeaudo; he thought very highly of you."
"True." she hummed, "But even Jeaudo had secrets."
"Well if he thought you were a cry baby, what did he think I was?"
"Anytime someone had a problem with you they would usually say it to your face."
Guts hmmed in acent. "Do ya think I'm better at throwing knives than he was?"
"I haven't seen you in action yet, but probably not."
"...You're probably right, but I bet I could throw one farther."
"Are you trying to one up a dead man?"
As if realizing what she said, Casca said, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean- I know you don't-"
Casca didn't mean to make it so sad; it was obviously meant as a joke. He'd almost forgotten they were all gone, that he and Casca couldn't just walk into camp and see with Casca made Guts feel almost normal right now. It felt as if…
"Naw, you're fine. I just, for a moment forgot." He laughed rather harshly, "I can't remember the last time I felt so, so young."
"How old are we?" Casca asked, changing the topic. "I mean I know you were never great at keeping track, but,"
"Ah, I don't actually know." He admitted, "We were what, 19 when I came back?"
"About, yeah, and then how long was I like that?"
"I think Rickert said something about two years when you went missing, and then the journey here took at least a year… so… 23, 24?"
"24." Casca said sentimentally, "So we've known eachother for what? 9 Years?"
"Never thought I'd live this long." Guts admitted.
"Neither did I,"
He held her a little tighter; one thing he would make sure of, Casa wasn't dying before he did. No chance in hell.
"I'm sorry." Casca said again.
"Stop that. I already said you don't have anything to be sorry about."
"No. I know how that feels, bearing the weight of the world on your shoulders, and I made you do it alone."
"There was nothing you could've done. I lost myself, no one could help me. If you were still there I probably would've just hurt you more."
"I still left you."
"I've left you twice now, so it still doesn't matter. Besides you're back, you're back now." Guts' voice was sincere and final when he said, "I won't let anything hurt you again.
With that promise in the air it was silent except for the festivities going on in the distance. They were somewhere between waking and sleeping when Casca said, "I can't wait until I'm strong again. I haven't been this weak since I was like 12."
"You're plenty strong." Guts mumbled sleepily. Part of him wanted to talk with Casca for as long as possible, but his body really wanted to sleep. Guts realized he couldn't think of the last time he slept; it had probably been days. Not unusual for him, but he was crashing hard now.
"Physically I'm the weakest you've ever known me." She argued.
He didn't answer her verbally, instead squeezing her middle slightly. "Yeah," He responded finally, "Skin and bones. Figures from how you ate." Guts grumbled worriedly, "I think it was worse two years ago, but I couldn't get very close then."
"I wonder if I can get a fairy sword like Serpico and Isidro," Casca mused, "I'm so out of practice."
Guts lightened up a little saying, "You should teach Isidro then."
"What? So he can stop bothering you?"
So she had seen through him? "Well, yes." He admitted, "But you could actually teach him stuff, you're the people person out of the two of us." Casca didn't seem convinced, so Guts added, "Plus you're the best woman fighter I know."
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"Just that you're amazing."
She was blushing despite herself but answered, "Teaching is the best way to review…" She was quiet for a moment before saying, "We'll talk about it with him. Normally I wouldn't pass up a chance to make you interact with people, but I really need to get back into shape."
"It will be nice to have another person who can hold their own."
"What's your plan after all this is done?" She asked.
"What do you mean?"
"Well," Casca was tracing her finger in a lazy circle on his ribs. She seemed nervous, "I have my mind back, Griffith is in a body we might be able to kill, after that what are you going to do?"
She thought he was going to leave her. Again.
"Do you think the brands would still work after he's dead?" Guts asked.
"I wouldn't think so. There's no one for the sacrifice to go to, so wouldn't we be free?"
"But what if it just means we go to some lower apostle?"
She sighed, "Then I guess that would be our next quest."
"Maybe." Was all he said.
Casca seemed a little disappointed.
"But after," He started, "After all this is finished- If we could find a place like this one, or the mine, we could build a home." Guts proposed.
"How would we live?"
"I could kill apostles and monsters, but for reward this time, or I could be a mercenary again."
"I won't let you use that Berserker armor after." Casca commanded, "I get that you need it now that you're fighting gods or demons or whatever, but when that's done, no more."
"Sure thing boss."
"Still calling me that?"
"And what would I be doing while you're off monster hunting?" So she noticed that detail, great. "Sitting at home twiddling my thumbs?"
"Well, after a while I'd assume your hands would be pretty full with the kids." Did he really just say that? Casca froze.
"I just figured- ah- with how you acted around- You'd be a good mom."
"It's not that I don't want them, I do, I really do. It's strange how much I do." Casca paused before asking, "Do you think that's normal?"
"I wouldn't know."
"I really want my first child." She said dreamily, "More than anything I want him back."
Guts frowned, "I don't know how possible that is."
"Anyways, you seem to have an idea of the future." She changed the subject again. Obviously talk of her son would bring her down. It brought Guts down as well to be honest. She continued with, "That's unlike you."
"You mean having a plan?" Guts laughed, "Honestly that wasn't really a plan, more of a far off dream. For the longest time I've been trying not to think about it."
"You've finally found your dream." It wasn't a question, it was a statement.
"It was right in front of me that whole time, wasn't it?"
Casca didn't respond verbally, stopping her fidgeting and hugging him closer. After a short while, they drifted off into a deep dreamless sleep, far away from any nightmares. It was good.