As Percy pulled away from him, blushing and stammering, Taryon felt his heart sink all the way to the floor. He blamed the wine. That was the only possible explanation for why he could have possibly thought for even a moment that it was a good idea to kiss Percival when he knew damn well that the man was head over heels in love with Vex'ahlia.
Vex'ahlia. Oh, fuck. She was going to kill him.
"I'm sorry," Tary blurted out, suddenly feeling much more sober than he had just a minute or so earlier. He backed up, his eyes wide. "I didn't mean—" He trailed off, because he was a lot of things, but he wasn't a liar. Wine or not, there had still been a reason behind the kiss. "I'm sorry."
Percy spluttered something out, and Tary thought that he heard a "please wait" somewhere in there, but he was already all but running for the door. All he could feel was a desperate need to get away, to run and hide and try to pretend that he hadn't just fucked everything up just as he was starting to feel like maybe his life was looking better.
He almost ran into Vex as he hurried through the hallway, and only her quick reflexes kept them from colliding head-on. She took a step to the side, a confused look on her face. "Tary?" she asked. "What's wrong? Where are you going?"
"I need some air," he said, trying his best not to meet her gaze. He made a beeline for the door, halfway expecting her to grab him.
As soon as he was outside, Tary picked up his pace. He wasn't entirely certain where he was going. All he knew was that he needed to get away, at least for the time being. His friendship with Vex was still new and tentative, and he halfway expected to end up with an arrow in the back as he hurried through the mostly empty streets of Whitestone. One mistake, one moment of not thinking, and he might have just ruined everything he'd worked so hard to build over the past few months.
Maybe his father was right. He was a disgrace. He ruined everything that he touched.
A cool breeze blew through his hair, the air bitingly cold considering how late in the spring it was. He hadn't even had enough sense to grab a cloak before he'd rushed outside.
Try as he might, Tary couldn't quite forget the feel of Percy's lips on his.
His eyes shot open, but he had to blink several times before his vision cleared enough for him to see properly. Vex was leaning over him, a look on her face that he didn't quite know how to interpret. She looked furious, but there was something else mixed in with it.
"—you were thinking. Are you out of your mind?"
Tary shook his head slightly as he realized that Vex had apparently been talking to him. He hadn't even been aware of it, not until just then. "What happened?" he asked. Or, at least, that's what he tried to ask. The words caught in his throat as he started to cough and suddenly couldn't stop.
The world went grey for a moment, and the next thing he knew he was sitting in a chair in Vex's mostly-finished home, the one she'd just offered to let him stay in two weeks earlier. He was wrapped up in a thick blanket, and he was startled to realize a moment or two later that he wasn't wearing anything underneath it other than a pair of light trousers and his undershirt.
He blinked, trying to piece together what in the Hells had happened from his scattered memories. Then the image of him leaning in to kiss Percy flashed in his mind, and he froze in place.
"What were you thinking?"
Tary jerked his head around at the sound of Vex's voice coming from behind him, and he had to clutch at the arm of the chair he was in to keep from falling out onto the floor. "I'm sorry," he blurted out. "It was the wine. I wasn't thinking, and it won't happen again. I'm so sorry."
His entire body ached, and he wasn't entirely certain why. In fact, he wasn't entirely certain how he'd ended up back at Vex's home, now that he was thinking about it. The last thing he remembered, he'd been heading towards the outskirts of the city, hoping to find a quiet place to hole up for a little while. Why was he here?
He suddenly realized that Vex hadn't said anything, and he miserably looked back at her.
Vex was still staring at him. "Taryon," she said bluntly, "what are you talking about?"
Tary stared at her, confused. "I kissed Percival."
Vex let out an exasperated sigh. "Yes, I'm well aware of that," she said, "but at the moment I'm a bit more concerned about the fact that you almost froze to death."
He opened his mouth. Then he closed it.
She must have been able to read the confusion on his face, because the angry look on hers suddenly faded. "What do you remember?" she asked, her voice surprisingly gentle considering she'd just been yelling at him a moment ago.
"I remember the kiss and wanting to get away before you killed me?" Tary said, a slightly lilt at the end making it more of a question than a statement.
Vex stared at him for a moment before sighing. She leaned in and pressed a kiss against his forehead, her lips almost burning against his skin. "Come on," she said, "let's get you to bed. We'll talk about all of this in the morning."
Tary was a lot of things, but he wasn't a complete fool. He simply gave her a meek nod and let her pull him to his feet.
Tary moved his gaze from her to his own plate of food. It was still untouched. He felt off-kilter, as if he didn't quite fit in his own body, and he wasn't entirely certain if it was a physical reminder of the night before or just in his own head. Whichever it was, he didn't have much of an appetite.
There were footsteps behind him, and Tary instinctively glanced over his shoulder. Percy froze when their gazes met, an unreadable look on his face. The tips of his ears went red.
Tary quickly moved his gaze back to his food.
"You two are hopeless," Vex said, not even trying to hide the laughter in her voice.
"Yes, thank you," Percy said. Judging by the sounds, he was finding a seat at the table himself. "I'm certain we're well aware of that fact, so whatever would we do without you here to remind us?"
Vex laughed again.
Tary didn't look up. He just stared at his plate, absent-mindedly moving a few items around with his fork. He knew that he should eat, but he just couldn't work up the energy to force himself to do it just then.
After a moment, Vex let out a sigh. It was loud and overdramatic, clearly intended to catch their attention. "Percy's been attracted to you almost since he met you."
Percy spluttered. Tary's gaze shot up, flickering over towards Percy and his flaming red face for an instant before darting over to focus on Vex. "What?"
If the word came out a bit choked-sounding, well, Tary thought he could be excused. Just this once.
Vex took a sip of her tea and smiled. "You wouldn't believe how many times I've had to sit there and listen to him describe you," she said teasingly. "Taryon's so smart, Vex. Taryon's so handsome, Vex. If I wasn't in bed with you right now, I'd want Taryon to rip my clothes off, Vex."
Percy cleared his throat. "You're exaggerating a bit, darling," he said, putting more than a little emphasis on the last word.
Vex winked at Tary before turning towards Percy and blowing him a kiss. "Not by much," she shot back. "Now give poor Taryon a kiss. You've been wanting to for months, and you know it."
Tary stared at her. So did Percy.
Vex raised her eyebrows. "What?" she asked. "It's not like it would be my first time sharing. Vax and I have surprisingly similar tastes in men." She paused, smirking a bit. "And sometimes women, for that matter."
Tary didn't say anything. He just glanced over at Percy, who was openly gaping at Vex. It made Tary feel at least a little better. Percy had known her for a lot longer than him, and he was still completely caught off guard as well by... whatever was happening.
She looked between the two of them and then rolled her eyes. "Tary, I love you," she said, "but I'm well aware you have as much interest in my body as you have in your breakfast this morning."
He glanced down at his still untouched plate of food and flushed a little.
"And Percy," she said, a bit more pointedly, "you sometimes talk in your sleep."
Tary hadn't actually known that a human being could turn that particular shade of purple. He'd previously only seen it on tieflings. Or flowers.
Vex continued as if she hadn't noticed a thing. "I'm going to take my food to my study and try to get some work done," she said. "The two of you are going to talk to each other. Or make out with one another. Either works."
She stood up, pushing her back under the table before picking up her plate and cup. Then she turned and shot Tary a stern look. "And then," she said, "we're going to have a talk about you running outside in the middle of the night without any protection from the cold."
Vex shot them both a dazzling smile and disappeared out of the room.
Tary stared at Percy. Percy stared at Tary.
The door behind them shut with an ominous thud. It was followed a moment by a click. "By the way," Vex's voice called out from the other side of the door, "I'm not unlocking it until you've worked things out."
They both sat there in silence for several seconds.
"Your girlfriend is terrifying," Tary said slowly.
Percy nodded, looking almost proud. "She really is."
Tary glanced down at his food and then pushed it away. "So," he said awkwardly, "we should talk?"
"Apparently," Percy said.
Neither of them said anything for a long moment. Then Tary cleared his throat. "Vex seems to think we should just, uh, kiss. Again."
"Vex thinks a lot of things," Percy said dryly. Then he reached up and pushed his glasses a bit further up his nose. "Quite often, she's right."
Tary stared at him for a moment, taking that in. Then he gave him an almost hesitant smile. "Is that so?"
Percy had the good grace to at least look a bit sheepish as he nodded. "Yes."
Tary took a shaky breath. He was trying to change who he was, after all. That was the whole point. If he was going to stop being a coward, it wasn't going to just happen on its own.
Eyes open, moving slowly so Percy had plenty of time to react if this wasn't what he wanted, Tary leaned in to press a tentative kiss against his lips.
This time, Percy kissed back.