“You know, we are very different, you and I.”
The retort was out of Beau’s mouth before she could even think about it. A natural reaction. She was used to people telling her that she was different. That something about her was wrong. Distasteful.
But caleb wasn’t usually one to talk during watches. Which meant that whatever he was trying to say, it was important. At least to him.
“But there are also a lot of similarities,” he continued, undeterred.
Ah, there it was. He was trying to bond. Which was kind of sweet. Not that she’d ever tell him that. And she kind of liked the way that he ignored her shit and carried on like they were having a nice, polite conversation and she hadn’t just been a reflexive asshole.
She’d bite, but as intriguing as this conversation was, she wouldn’t turn from the dark expanse beyond the limits of the dome. Caleb and she were back to back, he at the opposite edge of the dome, their backs to their sleeping companions, the fire crackling between them.
“We both worry more about what other people think of us than we would like to admit.”
Beau huffed and focused on the treeline. She was antsy and didn’t need personality analysis right not. Jester had wandered into the treeline to relive herself a few minutes ago and Beau was obsessively watching the spot where she disappeared. She didn’t like it when people left their bubble. Let alone Jester. Not after that night.
“Well jeez, Caleb. Get right to the heart of it why don’t you,” she snarked.
He laughed once, almost humourless.
A moment later, Jester came crashing none-too-stealthily out of the trees, grinning at them and waving.
Beau’s heart melted.
“Her maybe more than anyone else,” Caleb continued.
Beau rolled her eyes and blindly threw a rock over her shoulder, aiming for the sound of his voice.
Oops. That was definitely Nott. She probably deserved it, so Beau didn’t really care.
Her mind tuned out the mumbled death threats from across the fire and focused instead on retrieving the blanket she had set to warm by the fire.
“Here,” she said gruffly, holding out the blanket as Jester practically bounced into the dome. “Its cold out. You should get some more sleep.”
Jester’s smile brightened and she wrapped the blanket around her shoulders, wiggling with glee before she rocked up onto her tiptoes and brushed a kiss to Beau’s cheek.
“Thank you, Beau! You guys watch real good, okay, because I don’t have any healing spells left.”
“You do not have any healing spells left? This has never yet happened before,” Caleb teased, clearly having pacified Nott enough to re-join the conversation.
Jester rolled her eyes and stuck her tongue out at him, before prancing over to her bedroll, singing some made-up song.
“How long do we have left on our watch?” Beau asked once they had settled back down by the fire.
“Four hours and twenty-three minutes.”
“Wish I could do that.”
“No you do not.”
“No, I don’t.”
Silence stretched between them. The familiar sounds of crackling fire and their companions breathing the only sounds breaking the stillness of the night.
“Want to know what else we have in common?” Beau asked after a while.
“We’re both too stubborn to admit when we need help.”
A sigh and then, “I do not need help, Beauregard.”
“No? Then I guess it’s just my imagination that you’ve been wound tighter than Nott’s terrifying-ass crossbow ever since we left Rexxentrum.”
Another sigh, long and deep.
“It’s time you told them what he made you do.”
“Because we love you, Caleb. I love you. We’ll have you’re back, man. And they need to understand how monumentally fucked up that place is. How totally fucking brave you were for going back, for facing him and holding your cool.”
Another sigh. Then silence. A long, uncomfortable silence.
Beau really did wish she had Caleb’s affinity for time in that moment. It felt like for fucking ever since she’d laid that out.
“I love you too, Beauregard. Watch is over.”
Before she could respond, Caleb had woken Nott and the moment had passed.
She touched Fjord’s shoulder to wake him for his watch as she navigated the tangle of bodies, making her way carefully towards the space that Jester had left for her.
Never had a spot on the floor looked more appealing. And more terrifying.
“I have thought of another one,” Caleb said, their eyes catching across the fire. “Neither of us are very good at admitting what we feel.”
Beau’s blood ran cold. Surely, he couldn’t know. He couldn’t have guessed. He was perhaps one of the least perceptive members of the Nein. If he knew…
“I literally just told you that I love you.”
He smiled, a little awkward but bright and true.
“Ja, and I said it back.”