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in the wake of forgetting

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Fjord had had friends before the Mighty Nein. Although there were little to no friendly faces around the orphanage when he was growing up, once he found himself on a ship, companionship abounded. Under Vandran’s wing, by Sabien’s side, amongst the crew below deck, Fjord felt like he belonged, after so long alone.

However badly it played out in the end, those men and women had been special to him. Not like the Mighty Nein, though. He’d never known anyone like the Mighty Nein. He loves these people unconditionally; in ways he’s never quite been able to grasp before.

Beau is quick and smart, light on her feet, heavy in her fists, and undeniable in the uncanny truths she doles out when she’s had a few too many, slurring and a little clumsy, always startling in her wisdom.

Caleb is steady. For all the angst that seems to roll off the man in heady waves, he’s never once wavered in keeping Fjord on track, stopping him from pressing that button, standing by him when he presses it anyway. Veth is a little harder to pin down. But she’s reliable and loving- surprising in its hidden intensity, but there all the same.

Yasha. A silent protector. Fjord doesn’t know as much about her as he’d like, but she’s brave and kind, and he’s always grateful for her odd, halting nuggets of insight. Jester. Sharp, funny, weird. She’s strong and clever, and Fjord’s never been quite so proud to watch someone carve so many dicks into a tavern table.

And Caduceus. Caduceus is odd and wonderful, and clever and beautiful and courageous and so wise. Fjord doesn’t always understand what he means when Caduceus tries to deliver some folksy wisdom wrapped in a gardening metaphor, but he can’t help but smile when he does, watching his soft violet eyes tracking the movement of his gesticulating hands over the low baritone of his rumbling voice. He’s wonderful, and Fjord loves him. It’s only been over the last couple weeks that he’s begun to realise that maybe… maybe what he feels for him isn’t quite the same as what he feels for everybody else.

Thinking back on it, he can’t help but blush, even when he’s alone, at how obvious it is. And how consequently strange it is, this fixation the rest of the Mighty Nein seem to have on what they think is between Fjord and Jester. Veth in particular.

This is what he’s thinking about late at night when he comes up onto the deck for a breath of fresh air. While the dome never grows stuffy, it does grow warm, and over-crowded, and there are moments such as these where Fjord just wants to feel the chill of a free ocean breeze on his salty skin, the light mist of sea on his cheeks as he stares up into the boundless night sky. Jester’s empty bedroll is, at most, an excuse to go up and gaze into the water.

Jester is on the port side of the bow, arms stacked on the edge of the ship, chin propped on them as she leans over and gazes into the water. Her indigo curls are buffeted by the wind, bangs blown up against her horns as she flicks her gaze to fjord as he approaches.

“Hey, Jes,” he says, resting an arm on the bannister and leaning over to look at her face. Her eyes are red, face wet, and Fjord thinks it’s probably not from the foaming sea below. “Is something wrong?”

“Oh. Hey, Fjord. I’m okay, I just…” she sniffles. “You know… I don’t like seeing you die, Fjord.”

“I’m… flattered?” he says, unsure if this is part of the little game they play, where they pretend there’s something between them.

She laughs, but it’s more of a giggling sort of sob. “I’m serious. What would I do if you died?” Her voice cracks on the last word, and she wipes hastily at her face.

“Jester… you shouldn’t think about that stuff, it doesn’t do any good. And besides, we have you… and Caduceus, no one’s going to be dying for good any time soon. Still, I… I’m sorry that it upset you.”

“Not your fault. But that’s the thing…” Jester sighs, “It got me thinking about how much things have changed, you know? For me. For you. For me and you.”

Fjord cocks his head, decides against patting her shoulder, “What do you mean?”

She scoffs good-naturedly, “Don’t pretend like you didn’t know about my huge crush on you, Fjord.”

Shit. Fjord chews on his lip, awkward, burgeoning tusks digging into the meat of it. He’d known about it, sure, but he’d thought they’d passed the stage where he would have to let her down easy. He’d thought it was behind them. “I’m aware,” he replies.

“And I still love you, of course! I love all of you, honestly! It’s just… the further I move away from that crush, it’s like I’m not actually sure I ever loved you different,” as she explains, her hands start to come up and fly around, tucking hair out of her face and gesturing out toward the dark, open sea. He hopes she’s distracted enough not to hear his sigh of relief.

“Different?” he asks.

“Different from the others. I had a crush on you, everyone knows that. And there were even a few moments where I thought I was in love with you, you know? But now I think I only thought I felt that way because it was expected?” She frowns and crosses her arms against the bannister once more before continuing, “Maybe I still think it’s there sometimes. Like when I saw you go down. Because it was like, super scary.”

Fjord nods, solely because he’s unsure what else to do or say, when she mutters something else that sounds like, “But then I saw how Caduceus reacted.”

Fjord opens his mouth to ask her to repeat herself, but she’s still talking, shrugging along with her words, “I don’t know, maybe I still do. I just don’t know, you know?”

He keeps his mouth shut for a while, content to watch the waves until Jester delivers another bout of rambling opinions. Then a thought occurs to him.

“I… think I know what you mean.”

“You do? Wait- about what?” She says, turning to face him for the first time. Her eyes have cleared since he joined her up on the bow, and what’s left is a quiet confusion, slowly but surely making room for that familiar mischievous glimmer.

“The pressure. From the others. To be Fjord and Jester,” he wiggles his fingers in a grand, sarcastic gesture.

“Yeah, yeah, exactly! But I don’t think I want that. Not anymore…” she trails off and turns back to the sea, a fresh pout yanking at her lips.

Fjord sighs. It’s odd to see the expression on Jester’s face, normally so care-free, and he’s filled with the urge to remedy the look. So he says, “Would you like to make sure?”

She stops still for a moment before spinning to look at him in surprise, one hand gripping the edge as a foot slips from under her, “Fjord, what? Are you implying what I think you’re implying?” she asks, all trace of sadness gone as she quirks a suggestive eyebrow.

He shrugs, and scrubs at the back of his neck, “You just look like you could use some clarity. We’re friends, I’ll do this for you, if you want.”

She nods, still grinning, and scratches her chin, “Some piece of mind for both of us! We’ll know for sure that the others are full of shit!”

“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. No hard feelings, whatever happens on the other side, right?”

She nods again, “No, yeah, this is a great idea, Fjord.” (It isn’t.)

Fjord knows he doesn’t have any sort of romantic feelings for Jester, he already has that piece of mind. He knows who he does have romantic feelings for, and he can’t pretend he doesn’t feel a little bit guilty for not putting this thing with Jester to bed long before now. What’s one little kiss, anyway? A whole lot, his brain whispers, You wouldn’t be thinking that if this were Caduceus, would you? He waves the thoughts away and takes a step closer to Jester.

Her face scrunches up in concentration and gets up on her toes, placing her firm hands on his shoulders. “You sure?” she asks, staring into his eyes with a stern expression.

“Yeah. Let’s put this to rest.”

She smiles, frowns, smiles again, and bounces a few times before she starts to lean up. Fjord bends to meet her, belly aflame with butterflies. It’s not excitement, though. It’s guilt- for what, he isn’t sure. It’s not like he’s promised himself to anybody else. Not aloud anyway. Never where he might be heard.

Their lips meet. Fjord’s are rough and chapped, both from a life at sea, and from the tusks he’s tried so desperately to hide. Jester’s are soft and smooth and taste like sugar. Fjord isn’t sure what she could have been eating that has any sugar in it- especially not this far into the voyage- but he’s not about to ask, because they’ve both pulled away, and they’re both grimacing at each other.

A moment follows where they stay just like that, lips puckered in distaste as they realise just how wrong the others had been.

“Yeah… I’m in love with Beau,” Jester says. “Sorry.”

“Oh. Uhh, I… Caduceus, so…” Fjord says.

Jester looks behind her like she’d thought Fjord had seen the pale firbolg just beyond her shoulder. She turns back and cocks her head, “What?”

“I… Caduceus. He’s, um… my Beau. Or whatever,” Fjord is back to scratching at his neck, looking past Jester into the depths of the ocean, thinking about how if he jumped in it would cool his flaming cheeks and save him from this embarrassing ordeal.

Jester’s mouth and eyes open wide, and then she’s dancing around on the spot, chanting little ‘oh my god’s and ‘I knew it’s into her fists as she tries to stifle a laugh.

“Okay, okay, don’t wake the others,” Fjord says, trying to calm her with frantic flaps of his hands.

“I won’t, I won’t, I won’t, I just… Ahhh! Fjord, that’s so cute. Oh. My. God. I was right! Ahhhh!” She flaps her hands but has stilled her feet, no longer hammering her boots into the boards just above where the others are sleeping.

“Oh no… I knew I was obvious,” Fjord grumbles, hiding his face in his hands.

“No, no, it’s not that obvious, don’t worry!” she says, trying to placate him, then switches tack in a split second, “Hey, Fjord, do you ever think about if his ears are as soft as they look?”

“Jester, all the time, I’m thinking about that,” Fjord admits.

She giggles and whispers, “Sometimes, I think about how hard Beau’s abs would be if I touched them.”

Fjord laughs, and lets Jester gush about Beau, and he and Caduceus for at least another hour. He feels a weight lifted, like things are finally how they should be between them. Back to normal. Better than normal.




It’s only when they get to Rumblecusp does Fjord begin to recognise the way Jester looks at Beau. It’s only when they’ve made camp for the first night does he notice that Beau looks at her in the same way. It’s only when everyone’s already asleep does he let the jealousy get to him, seeping into his bones under the weight of no distractions.

It isn’t the rotten kind of jealousy- the kind that makes you think ill of your closest friends and pours rage into your veins. It isn’t that sort. It’s more just a… sad kind of jealousy. A resignation that he’ll never move past where he is now, never see his adoration reflected in soft pink eyes.

Though Fjord loses a good night’s sleep to it, the jealousy doesn’t last through lunch the next day. Fjord sees the way Beau and Jester look at each other, yes- it’s charged and undeniable- but he’s beginning to notice the way Beau and Yasha look at each other, too, how it’s grown from its awkward flirting, evolved into something just as tangible. The jealousy fades; Fjord has no desire to get mixed up in the awkwardness of a love triangle. Not when there are much bigger things to worry about.

Like waking up tomorrow and not remembering where they’d all come from, how they found each other, what they’ve all been through together.

Caleb’s dome is sweet. A beautiful, heart-wrenching idea that Fjord isn’t too ashamed to say brought him to tears. It’s one of the best night’s sleep that Fjord’s ever had, watching Jester carve her first dick, watching Nott see her son again for the first time in a year, watching Molly pray over his swords every night. He lets his eyes linger on Caduceus’ hands on his ripped chest as he lets the amber darkness take him for the evening.

Of course, it doesn’t stop half of them from forgetting the following morning. Watching Yasha stutter through an ‘I don’t know’ when asked her circus friend’s name hurts all the more when Fjord remembers who their Mollymauk was. And Caduceus, skipping over several floundering ‘C’s as he struggles to bring his family’s faces to mind is oddly one of the most frightening things any of them have seen in a while.

But the moment doesn’t last, Vilya’s magics restoring their memories to them within seconds. But it instils in Fjord a terror. Terror that their time together, memories intact, hearts in place, is far more limited than he’d imagined.

Maybe that’s why he does what he does in that tunnel.

He’s watching as Cad takes a sudden dive into the passage. Fjord’s long given up on pretending that his eyes don’t always linger on the man and it doesn’t even occur to him that there is any other option but to follow as he does so, chasing the pale pink flutter of hair and the orange glimmer off teal beetle armour.

Caduceus isn’t fast in the water, to say the least, so it isn’t long before he catches up to him. He isn’t strong or wide, either. It’s easy to get his arms around him and Fjord sighs in relief when he doesn’t lash out. He is determined, though, evident enough in how Fjord finds himself suddenly and completely blind.

This isn’t right. Nothing about this tunnel is right. Nothing about Caduceus acting this way is right.

The second time he gets his arms around Cad, he doesn’t waste time in turning him around by the shoulders and pulling him close. There’s a furrow in his brow, and a strange light in his eyes as he looks at him, raising his hand once more to take Fjord’s sight from him. Fjord’s thinking about how much he doesn’t want to hurt his friend. How much he doesn’t want to hurt the man he’s in love with, that’s all.

So Fjord grabs the hand, uses it to tug Caduceus forward and seal their lips together. Fjord’s eyes are squeezed shut, not wanting to see the hard glint in his eyes. Not wanting to see no Caduceus in there, not wanting to see that foreign orange reflection in his place.

The kiss isn’t magical. It’s desperate and entirely unromantic. But Fjord’s palms have made their way to the sides of Cad’s face, and there are big hands on his waist, and he can breathe underwater, but he’s never been so breathless. When he pulls back, he knows he’s changed everything.

He opens his eyes as soon as he dares, to find Caduceus looking back at him with pale lashes blinking, dazed, through the water, big eyes wide and confused. There’s a slow smile spreading across his narrow face and the relief in Fjord’s gut is so visceral that he almost forgets to remind himself that his feelings aren’t returned, he did this to save Caduceus, and he needs to be chill about this, damn it.

Fjord yanks his hands away from Cad’s face, forcing them back down to his side and praying it didn’t look too suspicious. Caduceus watches, ears flattening as the sailor’s fingertips retreat from his jaw and curl into fists, and the smile fades as he looks around at the tunnel they’ve entered. The flowers closest to them seem to pulse with the hot current of the stone they grow from, petals flaring and twisting hungrily.

“I think those plants did something to me. I needed to… well, I didn’t feel quite like myself until you…” he clears his throat. “We should return to the others, tell them to stay away from these. I’m sorry I worried you.”

“No, it’s alright, Cad. I’m just glad I- um, we got you back,” Fjord says, fingers itching to reach out and confirm that Cad is really, properly, okay, to get close and swim through his eyes and make sure that awful not-Cad glimmer is gone for good.

Caduceus gives him an odd look that Fjord doesn’t have time to decipher before he’s turning around and leading them back to the boat.

They don’t mention many specifics beyond staying away from the blooms to the others, and Fjord pretends he doesn’t see Jester wiggling her eyebrows from behind Yasha’s broad shoulders. None of them asks too many questions when Fjord says he needs to rest, only casting him odd glances as he groans and sits on the deck of the ship.

Caleb takes the chance to start scribbling into his books and muttering arcane things under his breath, while Jester and Nott throw bits of leftovers and pocket bacon at each other. Cad settles down on the deck too, crossing his legs and closing his eyes.

It takes effort to pretend that Fjord isn’t watching, though he drops the farce when the firbolg opens his eyes with a soft gasp. He tells them what the Wildmother showed him, what he saw of Vokodo and what they might do to stop him. Fjord can’t help the pride that swells in his chest- Caduceus nearly swam right into the biggest threat on this island, fended off the influence of some powerful extra-planar entity, then got right back up to try and fix it.

Cad has a gentle smile on his lips as he relays what he’d seen, clearly and rightfully proud of his work, but when his gaze drifts to Fjord once more, the expression drops. Fjord’s heart clenches at the sight, and he turns away to take a nap on the deck.




Caleb sets up the dome again that night in a clearing not too far from the ruins. The trees are still dead and dying here, but no one had the energy to search farther for a space with less unsettling décor. Fjord leans against the hollow trunk of a tree thirty feet from the construction, watching as Caleb draws glyphs and symbols in the air and on the ground. Near him, Beau and Veth are talking to Vilya, while Jester and Yasha watch from another fallen log, Jester sketching in her book while Yasha keeps her head on a swivel, eyeing the tree line.

Fjord has lost track of Caduceus. In his efforts to avoid him, unsure where they stand after what happened down in that stupid tunnel, Caduceus had slipped from his sight altogether. It’s not an issue, he’s sure. If it were, one of the others would have mentioned it. It isn’t like he’s worried or anything.

He isn’t left to feeling anxious long; Fjord jumps a little when Caduceus speaks from behind him, heart skipping a beat at the familiar rumble of his voice. “Hey,” Caduceus says.

“Hey, Cad,” Fjord says, unable to keep the fondness from his voice, “didn’t notice you leave.”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to worry you.”

“That’s not-.”

“Do you want to meditate with me? I was thinking if we were in a calmer headspace, we might be able to remember a little easier tomorrow,” his long fingers are fidgeting with the hem of his sleeve, working the gauzy material between his thumb and forefinger like Fjord has seen him do when he’s nervous or unsure.

“That’s a good idea, Caduceus,” Fjord says, thinking he’s probably just anxious about the lack of life and greenery in this region.

Caduceus beams, and his fingers still before he turns around and heads a little further past the tree line. Fjord follows and they settle down beside a fallen pile of logs, obscured from the rest of the party. Cad sits down in the dirt, resting his hands on his knees as he waits for Fjord to follow suit. Except that when Fjord’s ass hits soil, nothing changes.

Caduceus is looking at him, bright eyes as watchful as they’ve ever been. It almost feels like he’s waiting for something from Fjord, but usually, when they meditate together, Cad will say a few things to ease them into it, or at least close his eyes. But now he’s just gazing at him, expectant. Does he think Fjord’s going to lead this time? He doesn’t know how to do that…

“Uh… Deuces? Maybe this isn’t the best place to meditate? Everything’s dead, I’m not sure how we could connect to the Wildmother here,” Fjord tries, tapping his hands on his knees and trying not to look as awkward as he feels.

Caduceus sighs, and seems almost disappointed, “The Wildmother looks over the cycle of life- that includes death, even out here, but… I lied, actually. I didn’t want to meditate.”

“Oh.” Fjord is used to Caduceus’ cryptic ways of saying things, but sometimes it still takes him a moment to parse the meaning. He doesn’t mind making the effort at all. “If you wanted to talk, you could have just asked, you know I don’t mind. I like talking to you, Deuces.”

Cad’s first reaction to his words is a bright smile, the sort that makes his eyes crinkle and shows big, slightly crooked teeth. He blushes too, the pale grey of his finely furred skin giving way to dusty pink. His second reaction is to frown, looking away from Fjord and drawing a finger through the dirt as he says, “I should have, yes… I guess I… I just wanted to make sure you were okay after- after you kissed me. Of course, I appreciate it, you did a nice thing, helping me out. I’m just sorry it made you uncomfortable.”

It’s Fjord’s turn to frown. Is that what Caduceus had gleaned from his actions? “No? I wasn’t uncomfortable at all, in fact I- I li… iked it?” Fjord stutters, the reassurance coming out like a question. If he didn’t have such an attentive audience, he’d kick himself.

It doesn’t do much to ease Caduceus’ concern either, the furrow between his eyes drawing deeper, ears drooping lower, “Are you sure? You don’t sound sure… You don’t have to have liked it.”

“No!” Fjord almost shouts, making Caduceus jump. The thought that anyone would tell Cad his kisses weren’t delightful is nearly enough to make him angry, “I mean, I did! I swear. Um, I just… I wasn’t sure if you were okay with me liking it, because you know, it was a weird situation, and, uh… maybe I shouldn’t have? Because you were like, mind-controlled or whatever, and I should have asked, and actually I feel really bad now an-.”

“Oh,” Caduceus says, leaning back as he cuts him off, ears perking up with a small flick. “I am.”

“Am what?” Fjord asks, having lost track of what Caduceus might be responding to through his rambling.

“Okay,” he explains.

“Oh. Good, then,” Fjord says. Caduceus smiles a little and leans forward, looking intent and once again appearing like he’s expecting something. Fjord squints, unsure what might be happening right now. Cad’s ears are just starting to droop again when Fjord realises that Cad had probably (kind of? maybe?) just said that it was okay to kiss him.

“Oh! Uh,” Fjord says, and rocks up onto his knees, taking Caduceus’ face in his hands, perhaps a little rough.

Cad’s ears twitch, and he grins, half excited, half encouraging.

“Can I kiss you?” Fjord hears himself ask, wondering how he made it here, kneeling in the dirt with Caduceus’ face in his hands when just a few short days ago he’d lamented the idea of Caduceus ever returning his silly feelings.

“Yeah, I’d like that,” Caduceus says, hands coming up to hover over Fjord’s, soft pads of his fingers brushing the sailor’s scuffed knuckles.

So Fjord tips forward and kisses him, lips slotting together, fingers coaxing their way into his tangled pink locks. His lips are soft; tasting sweet and earthy, like his herbal teas, and Fjord’s finally found himself a sea he wouldn’t mind drowning in. Fjord knows his lips mustn’t feel that great, all chapped and bitten, not to mention his tusks, but Caduceus could fool him into thinking he was tasting the sweetest wines of Kamordah with how tenderly he holds Fjord’s jaw and presses into his lips.

It isn’t long before Fjord finds himself laughing, so bewildered by how they got here, how awkward they’d both been as they stumbled their way through a messy dance around each other. To his relief, Caduceus doesn’t take the laugh as an offence, rather laughing with him, a slow rumble against Fjord’s cheek that turns into a content purr as Fjord plants several little kisses on his jaw and teases a few fingers along the shell of his ear.

His ears are just as velvety as Fjord had thought to look at them, soft and warm and responding in little flicks as they kiss.

Fjord finds himself in Cad’s lap when he breaks the kiss and allows himself a moment to nuzzle into the fuzz at the base of his throat, “We got there,” he sighs into his neck.

Caduceus hums and kisses his forehead, a quick press of lips that has Fjord feeling drowsy and warm, ready to fall asleep with Cad’s arms around him, short nails combing through his short hair. It wouldn’t be safe to sleep out here, especially so distracted, so Fjord drags himself out of the embrace and helps Caduceus to his feet.

When the pair get back to the dome, everyone’s long fallen asleep, and neither miss the way Beau and Jester are cuddled that little bit closer, Yasha curled toward the two instead of away.




They’re sailing away from the island when Fjord brings it up, their commandeered ship still smoking, globs of molten rock hardening into the grooves they’d burnt into the ship, solidifying under the cool salt of ocean spray. Fjord is staring out past the stern, watching Rumblecusp disappear behind them, a fading lump on the horizon by now.

Jester joins him, bouncing up to the bannister with the springy energy of post-battle euphoria. He lets her talk his ear off, listening to her embellished tales of their encounter with Vokodo as if he hadn’t been right there in the thick of it. He’s reminded of one of their last private conversation on a ship when she launches into a description of Beau’s rippling abs as she sent burning fist after burning fist into the monsters jewelled side.

“About that… you and Beau, right?” he asks, trying his hand at a suggestive eyebrow.

She pauses in her story and taps a bashful finger against her cheek, avoiding his eye in a playful mockery of modesty, “Oh, you noticed that, huh?”

“Only since you told me there was something to look for,” he replies. He tosses a glance behind them, where Cad is wrapping a bandage around a nasty burn on Beau’s forearm, too spent to heal, and Beau is laughing at a joke Veth made that has Caleb scowling.

“You know…” Jester starts, voice contemplative, “Yasha likes Beau, too. At first, I thought it’d be like a competition, but now… maybe not. Is that weird, do you think, Fjord?”

He shakes his head, watching the way Yasha’s hands twitch when Beau hisses at the clumsy application of some ointment to another burn on her neck. “I think it’s sweet. Far too complicated for my tastes, but then Yasha and Beau aren’t my tastes. It’s nice, to think you three, together.”

“I just thought- go big or go home!” She says, sending a chuckle out onto the water as she grips the bannister and bounces on her toes. “Speaking of big… you and Cad, huh? You were gone for a while the other night. I had to convince the others not to worry. It wasn’t difficult, everybody knows.”

Fjord feels his face heat, thinking about Cad’s soft hands and warm eyes, thinking about the feel of his laugh under Fjord’s palms and the way his eyes crinkle when he smiles, “Jester, did you tell them? I thought we had an unspoken agreement tha-.”

“No, Fjord! I didn’t tell them. It’s just super obvious.” She drops her voice into something that could be mistaken for an imitation of Caduceus, “Oh, Fjord, let me nurse you back to health when your god abandons you, let me guide you to the light of the Wildmother so we can pray together. Oh, Fjord, let me make you tea when you vomit seawater at night and I’ll tenderly save you from dying by the hands of your evil ex-patron!”

“Okay, that-.”

“And then you were like,” here she switches into a squeaky falsetto, “Oh, Caduceus, I love when you heal me with your big hands and say such wise things! Oh, Caduceus, you’re such a good cook and your tea is so tasty-.”

“- okay, his tea is good, everyone agree-.”

“- Oh, Caduceus, I would die in your arms a thousand times just to feel your hands on my body!” She clutches a hand to her chest and throws the other to her forehead, tipping her shoulders back over the edge of the ship.

“Woah, hey, don’t get yourself killed for a joke, Jessie,” Fjord says, taking a step toward her.

“I’m just saying, like, it was really obvious, you know?” she says, straightening up to prop her face in her hand with a cheesy grin.

“Okay, okay, I get what you mean. I just, I like him… a lot, okay?” Fjord says, cursing the cold wind for doing nothing to banish his red cheeks.

“I know, Fjord,” Jester says, voice softening. Then she’s back to twitching an eyebrow and jabbing him in the ribs, “So… who made the first move, huh?”

“Oh, well, we kind of… floundered our way into meeting in the middle.” He pointedly ignores how he’d kissed Caduceus in the tunnel, he doesn’t know if he’s supposed to count that.

She smiles, nose crinkling, “Oh, that’s cute. Is he a better kisser than me?”

He lets out a stream of air through puffed cheeks, “Miles. Miles better. Was Beau better than me?”

“Are you kidding me, Fjord? Of course she’s a better kisser than you, she’s Beau,” she rolls her eyes.

Fjord laughs. Yeah, that tracks. Fjord continues to let Jester ramble to him about how warm Beau’s lips are, how cool her scars are, lets himself drift into thinking about the next time he and Caduceus might have a moment alone, lets himself think about falling asleep in the cleric’s arms.

Fjord looks back at Rumblecusp and finds that he can’t see it. He sighs in relief.