Little Necator never really feels like he fits in anywhere, until one day he meets this other young boy who the world hates even more than they hate him. This dragonborn who’s so much younger, hasn’t seen the world change like Necator has. This boy who grew up too quickly, who is scared when Necator sees him late at night, but Necator insists he means the creature no harm. This creature with frightful eyes and a name that Necator can’t pronounce, who Necator vows on the spot to defend with his life. It makes the young dragonborn laugh, hearing Necator’s graceful Elvish tongue struggle around his harsh Draconic name, and Necator gets increasingly frustrated as he gets it wrong. He can just about manage the ‘chuak’ part, and so they decide that’s as good as it’ll get, and from then on, the dragonborn is known as Chuck.
Then young Necator doesn’t really feel alone anymore, because he has a friend, and together they feel like they can conquer the world. These two young boys who cause trouble and are met with distasteful looks and harsh whispers as they run through the streets in broad daylight, but it doesn't matter because they have each other. They always have each other. These little boys who sneak out at night and clamber onto rooftops and sit side by side, under the stars, spinning tales of fame and fortune, dreaming of days when they'll be rich together, of days when people won't look down their noses at them anymore because they'll be successful and wealthy, and people will look to them with admiration instead.
They grow up together, go through their teens together (as much as that’s possible) getting into more mischief, causing more problems. And Necator’s family hates it. They hate that they've given their son a good life, a happy upbringing, yet he's becoming this troublemaker. His parents hear people talking when they go out, see people point at them and whisper "Isn't it a shame?" and "They're lovely Elves, but that boy of theirs is bad news." Though of course, they don't blame Necator for his actions. No, Necator’s family blames it all on the fact he's ‘in with the wrong crowd’. They think their lovely little boy has been led astray by this filthy, greedy dragon. All the time, they'll make comments about how Necator should meet new people, get some decent friends instead of hanging around with the scum he does now. And every time, Necator defends Chuck with a fierce passion, refuses to hear a bad word about his best friend.
Then one night, Necator doesn't come home at all. There’s a knock at the door of his family home, late at night, and his parents assume it's him, but no. It's a watchman, looking Necator, who had been seen stealing from a house on the other side of town. His parents are mortified, insist they haven't seen Necator, but they give the watchmen a handful of gold to be given to the victims as a sort of compensation. And it's enough for now, but they're warned that he won't get away with it again, that Necator will be thrown into a cell next time with no hesitation.
So when Necator sneaks into the house just passed dawn, he's surprised to find his parents, sat at the table, waiting for him. They shout and scold him, tell him they've raised him better, that he's to apologise and never steal again. And that would be fine, only it’s not all they have to say, because they've had enough of his behaviour. His parents tell him that Necator is to never see Chuck again, or he's to move out, because they will not keep a roof over the head of a thief.
Necator is furious, tells them he's sick of Chuck being blamed for everything, that Necator is old enough to be responsible for his own actions, and knows it's his own fault that he gets into so much trouble. And he doesn't want to live with people who police his friendships anyway. So he packs up some stuff and leaves without so much as a goodbye, says nothing as he storms out the door and doesn't look back. From then on, he no longer uses his family name. Every day since, he’s only introduced himself as Necator, refuses to associate himself with the family who disowned him.
Finding himself homeless, Necator ends up living with Chuck in the sewers, and they have virtually to their names, besides Chuck’s handful of belongings and the few things Necator grabbed hastily before leaving. Chuck feels bad that Necator’s been forced into this life with him, but Necator doesn't care. In fact, he's never been happier. Sure, he doesn't have a nice house and regular meals anymore, but he has Chuck, and he doesn't have to worry about his family now, doesn't worry much about anything. They get by stealing food or cutting purses to get coin, and Necator’s not as good as Chuck is, but they share everything anyway, so it doesn't make much difference. They have stray cats to keep them company, and most people would think they live dreadful lives, but Necator’s content with his best friends and the strays which hang around them.
They start their own thieves’ guild together, and it's small, nothing impressive, but it's successful, and for once in their lives they feel like they belong somewhere. Some of the other members of the guild find the relationship between Chuck and Necator a little odd, think it's a bit strange that no matter how badly Necator does on their heists, Chuck still splits his winnings with him. But nobody says anything, it's not their place to ask, and it doesn't matter to them anyway, as long as the jobs get done. As long as the pair keep finding work for the rest of the guild, they don’t much care what goes on behind closed doors.
Necator jokes one night, as they're sat together, cutting fruit into pieces and sharing them, that they're almost like a married couple. Chuck laughs, looks down at the elf who leans on his shoulder, and asks:
"How so?" Even though he's had similar thoughts of his own.
"Well, we live together," Necator starts. "We look out for each other, we share everything that we have. You’re like the husband that provides for me, because you're a better thief than I am."
"I suppose," Chuck nods, continues peeling a pear with his knife. "But married couples are in love."
"Don't you love me?" Necator asks, without hesitation, frowning up at his friend. "I love you."
"Like a brother," Chuck says. "A friend."
"I have no love for brothers, or parents, or any of my blood. You're my family, yeah. But it’s different."
"If I act like your husband, do you love me like one?" Asks Chuck, and he feels Necator nod against his shoulder.
"I think I do."
"Then I'll continue being your husband," Chuck laughs, and it makes Necator grin, perhaps wider than he ever has before, a bright and joyful smile that there isn’t normally such a cause for in their difficult lives. "And you can be my ahmul."
"I’m not sure what that means, but whatever it was, I think husbands are supposed to kiss," Necator teases, and though Chuck rolls his eyes, he turns his head, tilts it down so Necator can meet him for a kiss. And it's a little awkward, both of them inexperienced, their racial differences making the exchange slightly clumsy, but it's fine. They'll have plenty of time to practice.
Only plenty of time turns out to be no more than two years. Their guild has grown in number, their more skilled, more experienced, but they’re not the best, still. They’re running an ambitious job, and things go awry, and before Necator realises what's happening, they're being ambushed. He knows it's his fault, knows it was his clumsiness which made too much noise, gave their position away. Of course, that makes Necator the primary target.
For Chuck, the events of the ambush seem to happen in slow motion. He realises that they're under attack, and he knows the assailants are focused on Necator, that they don't care about him. And Chuck doesn't think twice, jumps out in front of his best friend, his lover, acting as a human shield against the attacks. He's barely there three seconds, just enough time for Necator to register who it is, before Necator feels Chuck slump against him. Necator cries out pulls Chuck away, finds cover for the both of them. The attackers seem to realise they've got a kill, can see that the other thieves have retreated, and so they consider their job done.
When Necator is safe, he lays Chuck down, sees the arrow in his throat, and he doesn't realise it, but he's crying. Chuck manages a sad smile, and his fingers twitch, but he doesn't have the strength to reach for Necator's hand. Necator gets the hint, takes it anyway, and he wants to apologise, wants Chuck to know how sorry he is, how much he loves him, how he wishes he could help, but Necator can barely breathe through his sobs. He's shaking, and Chuck coughs, stutters his name.
"I died as I lived," he says, and it almost sounds like a laugh.
"What?" is all Necator can manage in response.
"As your… husband," Chuck explains. "Taking care of you."
"I couldn't care for you, this is my fault! I don't deserve you, I never did."
"You would have done the same… For me. You love me, right? "
"Of course I love you, chuck, please—"
"Then we deserve each other," Chuck declares in his weak voice. "My ahmul," he nods, as if satisfied by their discussion, manages to grip Necator’s hand a little tighter. Though it's only for a second, because Necator watches as Chuck’s eyes go dull, feels the hand in his own go limp, and Necator cries out in pain, agony, as if he's also just been struck by an arrow. In that moment, Necator would have preferred such a fate, but he’s forced to go on, without the only friend he’s ever known.
He moves out of the town he had called home, unable to face living there any longer. He travels, doesn’t tend to stay in one place for too long. Necator joins other thieves’ guilds when he gets to new towns, but his heart isn’t really in it like it was before. The prospect of being wealthy and respected isn’t as exciting when you have nobody to share the dream with. Still that was their dream, and it’s all he’s got, so Necator clings to it.
Necator knows he was never a great thief in the first place. He was clumsy and headstrong, and he only got as far as he did because he’d had Chuck at his side, watching his back. Necator knows this. When he heals a little, when he stops feeling so painful, he covers his wounds in arrogance. He pretends he’s the best goddamn thief there is, uses his charisma to play up his skills.
He gets by until his guild tries to steal a goblet, and Necator fucks things up by triggering a trap. He’d gotten other members of the guild killed, had been thrown out for his foolishness, the fact he rushed in before examining a situation, because he was irrational and arrogant and he’d messed up too many heists for them. So Necator leaves with a heavy heart, the death of three more people weighing on his consciousness, because, yet again, his clumsiness had gotten people killed. Sure, they weren’t people he knew very well, let alone cared about, but it was his fault.
Then Necator turns to drink, because that’s all he has left. He numbs his pain, does his best to forget about Chuck, about his dreams that will probably just remain as dreams. He finds comfort in the bottom of glass of ale, and he worries that if he doesn’t drink, it’ll all come back, he’ll be haunted by it all.
He goes off adventuring, having realised the thieves’ guild isn’t the place for him to make his fortune. He forgets, changes his life completely and tries to move on, to avoid anything which will remind him of Chuck, of his past, of his failures. He meets new people, has a mission to distract him and booze to dull the memories, to keep the nightmares at bay. Necator lives for a short while, able to forget.
Until he comes up onto the deck of this ship they’ve stowed away on, and there, being held by sailors, is a young dragonborn. He’s young, God he’s young, not much older than Chuck was when they first met. And the memories all come flooding back, hitting Necator like a tonne of bricks, and he knows he has to protect this boy. This poor dragonborn who stands there with none of that fear which Chuck had shown. This kid, because that’s what he is to Necator (despite the fact he seems fully grown), who seems to have no idea what kind of danger he’s in right now. Everyone on this boat is armed and ready to kill him, ready to cut him up and throw the pieces overboard. They don’t see the innocence Necator sees, they just see a demon, but Necator knows better.
He sees this as a sign, his second chance, his opportunity to do things right. Chuck was always the one to care for him, because Necator couldn’t fend for himself. So Necator knows, as soon as he sees this boy that he’s going to protect him, to make sure nobody harms him, to teach him the ways of the world. Necator utilises the friends he’s made on the ship, tries to talk the captain around, to persuade him that they’ll take the dragonborn off the ship and take care of him so the crew doesn’t have to.
Only before Necator can really work his charm on them, the kid is breaking free, yelling something about saving the world before diving over the side of the ship. Necator doesn’t even get a chance to talk to him, sees him go, hears the splash and runs, yelling for him to get back. Because there is no damn way Necator is going to let this kid get himself hurt, not whilst he’s around to stop it.