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Home Is Where the Heart Is

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Vex'ahlia woke up to the sound of muffled screaming.

It took her longer than it should have to realize that the sound was coming from her, and as soon as she did Vex abruptly slammed her mouth closed. Her gaze darted around the room, quickly piecing together where she was and what had happened as her heart beat like a drum in her chest. One of her hands dropped down to rest on her slightly larger than usual belly, rubbing it comfortingly more out of instinct than anything else.

She was sitting in one of the large, comfortable chairs in the small sitting room that she had claimed as her own private spot. Judging by how low the fire was and the fact that it was well on its way to dark outside the windows along the far wall, Vex assumed that she must have fallen asleep. She'd simply slipped in for a few moments to herself, away from the bustle of Winter's Crest preparations going on throughout the city.

Gods only knew what it was she'd been dreaming about.

Vex focused for a moment, trying to clear her thoughts. Try as she might, though, she couldn't get a clear image in her head. Darkness. Cold. Blood. Feathers.

She shivered. That in itself said everything that needed to be said. It still didn't seem real sometimes, that Vax had been gone for almost a year. There was a part of her that sometimes thought he was just in Zephrah, a single spell away... and then she'd remember, and her heart would break all over again.

The door suddenly flung open.

Vex spun towards it, her hand already going for one of the daggers she'd started wearing on her at all times before she recognized who was standing there. She relaxed, letting her hand drop again.

Tary stared at her with wide eyes. "We heard screaming."

She forced herself to smile at him, although she doubted it reached her eyes. Judging by the way his eyes narrowed, just slightly, she suspected he'd noticed. He wasn't usually the most perceptive, but he had his moments. Especially with people he knew well.

"Just a bad dream," Vex said, shifting a bit as she pushed herself up out the chair. "I'm fine."

A knowing look crossed Tary's face, but he didn't say anything. He knew better, after two years of knowing her. Instead he just stood there, clearly waiting for her to be the one to talk.

Vex sighed and reached up to tuck some hair out of her eyes and back behind her ear. Her braid was clearly coming loose. She opened her mouth to say... well, she wasn't entirely certain what she was going to say, but she was going to try to say something to make things better. Before she had a chance, though, another familiar form came sprinting through the door.

Tary let out a grunt of pain as Percy slammed into his back. Percy muttered something under his breath before looking past Tary, his eyes instantly seeking out Vex. "Are you alright?"

Vex stood there for a long moment, just looking at the scene in front of her. She hadn't noticed at first, but Tary had clearly been in the middle of either dressing or undressing when he'd heard her and come running. His feet were bare and half his shirt was still unbuttoned. Percy was in an even worse state. He'd forgone a shirt entirely, and his trousers were hanging loose on his hips as if he'd yanked them on and come running.

Not to mention there were some very interesting red marks on his wrists. And Vex wasn't the one who'd put them there.

We heard screaming. That's what Tary had said. We, not I. Which seemed to imply that the two of them had been together and had immediately come running when they'd thought she needed them.

Vex felt a twinge of something in her chest as she looked at her husband and her best friend. They were staring at her with wide eyes, clearly worried about her and ready to move forward the moment she gave them a sign that's what she wanted, but even then they were leaning into each other.

They both looked ridiculous, as well as utterly at home in her house.

In their house.

Tary had only been back in Whitestone for a few days, arriving ahead of the rest of Vox Machina since he had traveled from so far away. That's all it had taken for him to slip back into hers and Percy's lives as if he'd never been away. She could almost imagine that it was a year earlier, in those last few happy days leading up to Winter Crest, before everything had gone to the Hells and back.

Vex couldn't help it. She laughed. And if that laughter turned into tears a few seconds later, well, she blamed the fact that she was pregnant.

There was a long pause before Vex felt a pair of familiar arms wrap around her, and she immediately buried her face against Percy's chest. He stilled, just for a moment, before starting to rub her back.

"What in Pelor's name happened?" Percy hissed, his words clear in the quiet of the room.

"A nightmare, I think?" Tary replied. "Probably about, well, you know."

His voice was coming from directly behind her, and Vex wasn't surprised when she felt another set of arms awkwardly wrap around her. Two years ago, she probably would have flinched away from both of them. Now? She wanted nothing more than to stay there forever, as if it would somehow protect her from the rest of the world.

Vex wasn't entirely certain how much time passed. Minutes, at least, but she wasn't sure how many. But eventually she felt herself slowly starting to calm down.

"I assume you don't want to talk about it?" Percy asked in a light tone. She could hear a hint of seriousness in it, though, a sign that he'd gladly listen if she wanted to speak.

She pulled away, leaning back against Tary's chest, and gave him a weak smile. "Good guess."

Percy shook his head, but there was a fond smile tugging at the corners of his mouth and he didn't look particularly surprised. He looked over her head, and she just knew that he and Tary were having some kind of private conversation with only their eyes. She and Vax had done things like that all the time, after all.

There was a tiny pang in her heart at the thought of Vax, but the tears didn't come back. Whatever weird pregnancy hormones had caused them seemed to have calmed down, and all Vex felt just then was a twinge of embarrassment at the scene she'd caused.

She moved without warning, shifting so that she was facing the two of them rather than having one in front of her and one behind. Her eyes pointedly moved up and down both of them, her gaze stopping for a moment on the red marks that she'd noticed on Percy's wrists. Just long enough to let him know that she'd seen them.

Percy's face flushed.

"I didn't mean to interrupt," she said teasingly.

Tary's face turned red as well, but neither of them looked away from her. They were long past that stage of things, after all.

Vex leaned upwards a bit, pressing a lingering kiss against Tary's cheek. Then she moved towards Percy and kissed him on the lips, her slowly growing stomach pressing against his for a moment before she pulled away.

She'd always heard people saying that home is where the heart is, but she'd never truly understood it. Not until just then, standing there with her hair half-falling out of its braids in the aftermath of a bad dream while Tary stood in front of her in disarray and Percy's hands kept slipping down to grab at his trousers before they slipped off entirely.

She was home.

No, that wasn't quite right. They were home.