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Before the Ascent

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"I'm not leaving you. Let's do this together, Otus!"

There wasn't a thing in the world that could stop him from accompanying his friend through this. They all knew it was the final stage; something so big, so spectacular- there was no way a temple so remote and grand wasn't going to be a living hell. If there was one thing Geddy had learnt from this adventure, it was that the cooler the thing looked, the harder it'd kick his ass. An unspoken rule of the universe. Like buttering your toast after you'd toasted it- deviation from the norm was really, really weird and anything that went against it was even more cause for alarm.

Not even Otus was exempt from that rule. The amount of times he'd been punted across ancient floors, the amount of times he'd ate concrete or stone, occasionally rock- well. Only his best friend could be that cool. He'd forgiven every sheepish, sorry smile Otus shot at him after checking he was still alive and in one piece; it almost made it all worth it.

On that line of thought... Geddy's pace slowed. This was probably the only time they were guaranteed to be together ever again. It was about time that he said something- living alone without ever knowing what could've been would most likely drive him mad- if he even lived through this.

"Hey, Otus. Can I talk to you for a second?"

Twig and Alphonse glanced back at him, but thankfully, both stayed where they were. He didn't know what he would do if they tried to follow. Right now, this was about Otus and himself. The world could prolong its ending for a few more seconds- this was something he had to do.

Standing the end of the platform, watching the rocks shoot up into the starry sky, Geddy waited until his companion stood beside him, insquitive. He took a deep breath. He was a man, he could do this.

Oh, fuck it. He absolutely can't do this. Opening his mouth, the words he'd wanted to say, carefully planned out for so, so many months now- they just didn't come. Otus tugged his suspenders. The world is ending. There's no time, no time left at all, he'd put this off for far too long and now it was over, they were all going to die, and-

Otus wrapped his arms around Geddy's middle. He snapped out of his crisis, wiping his cheeks- since when had he been crying? Face red with frustration at his own inability to say just what was needed to be said, he looked back down. Otus' concern gave way to a small, cheeky smile, and Geddy could've sworn he saw him wink.

Oh. Oh.

"You- you knew all along! Augh, you bastard! I was trying so hard, too!"

Torn between tears and laughter, he grabbed his best friend's head and locked him into a deeply affectionate noogie. Otus didn't need a voice. They both knew he was giggling on the inside. Batting at eachother until they were both out of breath, Geddy hugged him back, squeezing tight. This really could be the last time they saw eachother. But... If that was the case, at least they'd have something to cling on to.

Eventually, they release, and turn to go back inside, to continue the climb. If they both managed to survive this, they'd have a lot more to talk about.