“He’s like the moon.” Daud blurts out, breaking the peaceful silence between them.
Neither of them bothered to pretend that they didn’t know who Daud was talking about. Daud doesn’t quite know how he ended up on a roof with the Outsider a quiet presence next to him, but he’s learned that the black eyed bastard would do what he wants and questioning him is more a test for his patience than anything else.
The Outsider makes a sound of disagreement. “He’s the sun, as blinding as he is. He shines with all he does and drags everyone who knows him into his orbit.”
“It’s the people around him that make him shine.” Daud argues. “Somehow he looks at even a hapless stranger and becomes better from the experience of the meeting.”
“A little on the nose there?” The Outsider mocks. “I wouldn’t have taken you for a romantic. Seems like you’re still surprising me.”
Daud scoffs. “Like you aren’t. Maybe you should have the Whales serenade him again. I don’t think the dead heard them last time.”
“He loved that!”
“And still he didn’t understand why .” Daud said bitterly.
The Outsider fell silent. They both agreed that either Corvo Attano was the most oblivious man in the world or he was just so skilled at turning down suitors that he just seemed like it.
The night is a beautiful one. For once, Dunwall’s cloudy skies aren’t blocking the stars and they shine brighter than they have in years.
“I would give him the stars.” The Outsider gazes up at them wistfully. “He could have all the power of a god. I would show him wonders no human has seen in centuries. He need just ask for them.”
“And he never will.” Daud says quietly. “The Royal Protector would never want any of that. The man only thinks of others, as if his happiness is dependent on it.”
“And what of yours?” The Outsider suddenly asks, a strange expression on his face. “Whereas I have been trying my best to make my intentions clear, and have been refused, intentionally or unintentionally, you have been by his side. The Royal Spymaster to the child of the Empress you murdered. You were the herald to the end of one era, but are working to usher in a new one. Is it just for the guilt you feel weighing down on your soul? Or are you determined to ignore the other reason?”
“ I became Royal Spymaster out of debt, not lustful fantasies.” Daud spits out, hands balling into fists.
“Perhaps not at first,” The Outsider counters, “but I doubt any could spend as much time as you have around him and not see him for the beautiful creature he is. The numerous excuses you make to be in his presence is rather telling.”
Daud looks away, unable to face the Outsider for the turn the conversation has taken on him. “It matters not. I have killed the Empress. His lover. There is nothing I can do that would make that right, but I will spend the rest of my life trying.”
“You will always have that between you.” The Outsider agrees, and Daud tries to ignore the stab to the heart he feels at the words. Ironic, given that he was the one to place a blade in her heart. “But haven’t you heard? Even if some things can never be forgotten, they can be forgiven.”
Daud whirls back around furious. “I will never be forgiven!” He roars.
The Outsider looks at him bitterly. “Are you sure? Or are you just telling yourself that?”
And Daud can’t breathe, frozen as he stared at his god.
“He’s waiting for you, you utter fool.” The Outsider looks at him with that strange expression again, and Daud has the dawning realization that it’s jealousy of all things. “The man seeks you out for spars and dinners and meetings and you have somehow managed to write it all off as penance for the sins that weigh heavy on your soul. I don’t know if it’s out of a twisted sense of self preservation or a belief that you must torture yourself with the sight of something you believe unobtainable, but you are dancing on a wire above the pit that is Corvo Attano.”
“He can’t be.” Daud hears the words before he realizes he said them. “I killed her . He can’t be waiting for me.”
“And yet, somehow he is.” The Outsider looks as lost as a boy his apparent age should when far from home. “Of all the worlds that I see, somehow I never can predict what he will do. There have been times, you know,” the Outsider suddenly says, “where he does fall in love with me. Other times he falls for no one at all. And there are countless times where he falls for you.”
Daud doesn’t want to hear this. “Shut up.”
The Outsider ignores him. “I can see where his current path will lead. Years and years will pass as he waits quietly by your side, unwilling or unable to make the first move. And you will serve him and Emily above and beyond in your duties as the Royal Spymaster. You would die fighting to protect her life and he would lay you to rest wondering about could have dones and should have beens.”
Daud really doesn’t want to hear this. “Shut. Up.”
“And above all,” the Outsider raises his voice, “Corvo will spend the next few years wiling away his life in misery as he thinks back to the moment you shoved Emily to safety and wonder if he could have been faster in killing her attacker. If, perhaps, it was his failing that caused the loss of your life. The only other person he’s ever-”
“SHUT UP!” Daud screams, grabbing the Outsider’s collar and lifting him in the air as if it would be threatening to a god. He breathes heavily in the silence that follows. And by the Void, the black eyed bastard somehow looks smug even when dangling from Daud's grip like a particularly demented child.
It takes a minute that feels like an eternity before Daud can get his hands to release their grip on the Outsider. If Daud wasn’t aware that the Outsider was intentionally provoking him, he might have been grateful for the lack of retaliation for manhandling the god. As it is, he only feels irritated with himself for falling for the god’s manipulations.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the end of it. The Outsider never did stop talking when Daud wanted him to. “I thought I understood you, but when I comes to this I’m at a loss. You have his attention. You have his- care . And yet you deny both yourself and him in this endless balancing act.”
“And what would you have me do?” Daud shuts his eyes, tired as he feels the full weight of his years. “Make a grand gesture? Fill his room with roses? Ask him for a dance? Take him out to dinner? Seduce him into my bed?”
“Oh, but we both know that should Corvo try to ruin you, you would let him.”
Daud snorts. “He’s already ruined me. There’s nothing I wouldn’t let him do to me. If one day he comes to his senses and wishes to kill me for what I’ve done to him I would ask him if he wants to watch me press the gun to my head.”
“And that day will be a long time coming, because Corvo Attano, for some reason, has decided that he loves you.”
It’s the quiet confidence in the words that truly strikes him at his core. Daud didn’t want to know this, the same way he can look at the little gestures the man makes towards him, and that he repays with silent gestures in turn. The pastries that he brings to Corvo’s office when he knows the man hasn’t eaten in hours, the Royal Protector’s sweet tooth guaranteeing that he’ll eat them. The trinkets that Corvo brings him in turn, things that the man thinks Daud will like and which he does, not because of the object itself, but because it’s Corvo bringing them to him.
It’s everything Daud has been telling himself is enough when it isn’t and now he can’t stop knowing it.
The Outsider looks at him with a mixture of envy and sorrow. “I never asked to be a god, Daud. I grew up a boy without a name in a city that I didn’t belong. I was an outsider who became The Outsider, but all I ever asked for was a little piece of happiness. I thought I had it when I saw the wonders of the Void; a poor consolation for the slow agony of bleeding to death. And then I saw Corvo and realized just how blind I really was.”
“Funny, how so many try to gain my favor and fail; and yet I can understand them better than ever now, when I have tried and failed to gain Corvo’s.” The Outsider turns back to the starry night sky. “I can understand why so many of them have fallen to madness if this is the desperation they felt when I left their calls with no answers.”
“Is there a point to this?”
The Outsider sighs, as if he’s dealing with a stubborn stain on the bottom of his shoe. Daud would have felt insulted back when he first met the Outsider, but he knows better now. “There is nothing I can give him that he would want. Nothing that I could give him that he would keep and have it mean what I intended it to. But you.” And Daud says nothing when the god presses his lips together in frustration. The words now being pulled from him like teeth. “I can give him you. So stop with this self-flagellating restraint you’re putting yourself through and come to your senses. It’s not doing either of you any favors pretending like all that’s ever between you is a debt of an Empress’ life. It’s more than that and you both know it.”
“And when things go wrong?” Daud asks, unsure if he’s asking out of genuine protest, or as a token piece of resistance to the Outsider’s plans.
It’s the Outsider’s turn to look away for once. Daud has never seen the god as defeated as he looks right now. “It won’t. There will be days where you can’t stand each other, fighting as if you’re two opposing forces of nature, but there will also be days where you can’t bear to part, building each other up and being all the better for it.”
Daud doesn’t know what to do, faced with the back of a god that seems more lonely than he ever thought it could be. His hand reaches out, but it falls short before he can close the distance.
It’s a long moment before the Outsider draws himself back up, a facade on his face as fragile as spun silk, barely held together by the habits that the Outsider formed as a god.
“Corvo has made you rather interesting Daud.” The smile on his face doesn’t quite reach his eyes, but Daud doesn’t point it out. “You’re now at a crossroads. Faced with the choice of remaining in your own false ignorance to form an illusion that will only bring you both sorrow, or confronting the feelings you have been running from since you first took up the position of Royal Spymaster, I wonder which you will choose.”
It’s not a choice, not after everything the Outsider has said. Not really. But the act seems to have smoothed over the cracks in the god’s mask as he fades away, so Daud remains quiet as he looks up at the night sky, now alone.
He’s left with his thoughts. Of the man that draws him in before he could ever resist. Of the god, pulled along just the same. Of the sorrow that awaits them if they continue on this path.
It’s another hour before Daud lets out a shaky breath and steels himself. Daud turns to face the palace and transverses back home.
Daud’s choice is made.