WHO Gilmore & Vax WHERE Gilmore's home WHEN Evening of October 13 WHAT It's the Raven Queen's holy day and Vax and Gilmore aren't going to talk about that. STATUS Complete WARNINGS Just all the schmoop
Night of Ascension may not have been a holy day that Vax had been all too interested in recognizing back home, but it hadn't been a day he'd been unaware of. He knew it existed, however it generally was a day just like any other for him, coming and going without much fanfare. This year, however, he couldn't help but feel a mounting trepidation as the thirteenth day of the tenth month (October in Vallo, of course, rather than the month of Cuersaar he was used to) marched ever closer, seemingly all the faster after dinosaurs and hotels made time seem to speed by.
He still wasn't entirely sure what his connection with the Raven Queen meant for him. Vax had read through everything that Gilmore had collected for him and it had been informative and, at the very least, left him a bit less off-kilter about the whole thing than he had been previously, but there were still many questions left about his situation and whether or not any of it ought to carry over to Vallo. He wore his armor frequently, taking an hour out of each day to get in a flight, but he doubted that was all the Raven Queen would want of him. There didn't seem to be a Raven Queen in Vallo, but did that really matter? Should he still be respecting the connection he had gifted to her?
Vax didn't know and, as the day arrived, he wasn't even sure if he cared. Thinking too much about the situation of the Raven Queen just made him want to sink into brooding and he simply wasn't in the mood for dark introspection. That was what had brought him to Gilmore's doorstep, two overpriced bottles of wine and a request to not talk about the Raven Queen for a couple of hours in tow while his feathered armor was left behind in his quarters at the Keep. Though he knew that Gilmore seemed always willing to listen when Vax did fall into aforementioned dark introspection, he also knew that the other man was particularly good at distracting him from it.
And that was how Vax ended up where he was now, a couple of glasses of wine and general conversation in as he sat himself on the floor of Gilmore's living quarters, back against the chair he probably ought to have been sitting on and long legs stretched out before him. He had never been particularly good at sitting in things like chairs or lounges like a normal person, though, instead making himself comfortable in more unconventional places; a byproduct, he thought, of having spent nights sleeping on the rock floors of dungeons or literally on top of Trinket training him to get cozy anywhere.
Emptying his wine glass, Vax released a sigh that could actually be called content. "Thank you, by the way," he said after the updates on their days and a short tale about Velora's own recounting of her day at school had passed. He couldn't remember if he'd expressed gratitude to Gilmore when he first arrived and felt it best to cover the bases. "For letting me interrupt your evening and humoring me, I mean."
“Well, I was at the most riveting part in a book. Those Zemnians and their nights, my oh my, however did I not stop by those fields?” Gilmore’s chuckle was accompanied by a fan of his hand. It was true, he hadn’t been doing much when Vax appeared, the store had been closed, the books counted (and sure to be recounted when Nesta came the next morning) and things were quiet. Gilmore liked it that way. Oh, he was the showman, ever loving flash and spectacle and being surrounded by people and raucous laughter, that part was all certainly true, but it was only a part of him. An incredibly handsome, glorious part, to be sure, but just a part. Another part of him valued the peace that came with solitude, his personal quarters were a blend of luxury and comfort, ornate and cozy. He would, of course, be forever grateful to Cassandra and Percy for opening up their home to him and the other Emon refugees, and maintaining the Whitestone barrier while scrying on dragons and doing magical research gave Gilmore a deeper sense of purpose, but it was so loud there and it wasn’t his space.
He nudged Vax with his foot--what, exactly, he was doing on the floor when there was a perfectly well placed and aesthetically pleasing chair literally holding him up, Gilmore had no idea, but whatever floated Vax’s roguish boat! Most important was his comfort, that he was finding where he fit and all sorts of other tremendously sentimental and sappy thoughts that Gilmore would save to reflect upon another day. “Don’t thank me,” he reminded Vax, with a click of his tongue. “Darling, when you want to be here, I want you to be here. It’s never an interruption, and if I was doing something of any kind of importance, you could still be here. That pretty face of yours may pose quite the distraction, but I shall persevere,” Gilmore added, hand to his incredibly noble brow at the very thought of the adversity.
Alright, even in his sanctum Gilmore never truly lost his flair for the dramatic.
Shaun had wanted to ask about the holiday that Vax had very specifically not wanted to talk about. but restrained himself. It was enough that Vax was here, and if he wanted to reflect, he could. Gods weren’t Gilmore’s favorite thing, but his view on this whole situation was that it was better to learn and embrace it rather than run from it. Living in fear of the future was no true way to live at all, he thought. He smiled at Vax, tucking a piece of his dark hair behind Vax’s pointed ear. “Now, am I relieved it’s not in the middle of the night as you’re trying to show off your lock picking skills and I think an assassin has come to off me, eh, perhaps that’s true. But otherwise? You don’t need to ask or apologize or thank. You’re always welcome.”
It was incredibly easy for Vax to smile up at Gilmore at that. He hadn't necessarily been aiming for sweet reassurances, but he also wasn't going to turn them down, either. Vax lifted a hand to catch Gilmore's at his ear, holding it in place to press his cheek into his palm and brush his lips over his wrist. An entirely sentimental move, but -- well. Vax was nothing, if not entirely sentimental. And it may have been a couple months since he'd been able to do such things, but he was confident that he'd never pass up the opportunity.
"I can try to stop apologizing, but the thanking might be a bit harder to," Vax admitted, looking up to Gilmore. "My mother tried to teach me manners, you see." He considered for a beat, then added, "Not quite sure where the attempted breaking and entering falls on the scale of good manners, but, ah. Some things just can't be helped."
Setting his empty glass on the floor, and far enough away that he probably wouldn't knock it over, Vax returned his attentions to Gilmore. "You don't know what you've done, though. Now I'm going to be here all the time, watching over your shoulder while you're doing fancy magic things, draping myself over furniture to try and get your attention -- just being a pest." He smiled again. Maybe he wouldn't actually try to be a pest, but he couldn't help but paint the picture and tease. "Whatever will you do?"
“Oh gods, not the draping!” Gilmore bemoaned, even as he laughed. They did a lot of that--easy, playful banter that was partially (alright, entirely) filled with flirtation and laughter. He hoped that would never change. “My one weakness you threaten to use against me, you scoundrel! I’ll have to enchant some sort of lenses so as to blind me to the complete radiance that is you draped on furniture, and you know I can’t pull off an eyepatch, double the indignity!”
Still chuckling, he topped off his glass of wine and waved the empty bottle away. “And I won’t let one act of drunkenness besmirch your mother’s lessons, of course. She must have been quite the woman, to keep up after the two of you. I’m so torn as to deciding which one of you was more the troublemaker! You may be the obvious choice, darling, I don’t apologize for that I’ve heard plenty of the pranks you’ve played on your friends! But nothing in me believes Vex’ahlia to be a model of innocence either!”
He knit their fingers together in a loose braid and squeezed. Gilmore’s physical affection came out as easily and naturally as breathing. And especially now, with Vax, he would take advantage of every opportunity that presented itself. “Now you simply have to tell me which is the right answer, don’t allow me to linger in suspense!”
Without much coaxing at all, Vax's mind filled with memories of his early years in Byroden with Vex and their mother and, on the tail of the memories, he let out of a soft chuckle. "Honestly, I think that we were fairly well matched," he admitted, his free hand moving to join his other and gently sandwiching Gilmore's between them both. "We didn't get really bad and rebellious until our father took us to Syngorn, but that was just acting out. With our mother, though, it was always more playful."
As a rule, Vax's past was something he simply didn't talk about much, save with Vex'ahlia, given how so much of it was shared with her directly. Too often when his mind settled on their mother, he could be filled with a sort of melancholy that was difficult to shake, so he simply avoided it. But it had always been so utterly easy to talk to Gilmore about the good and bad alike; and this, though centered around his mother, wasn't the bad. He rather liked being able to share the happy parts of his childhood with someone who meant as much to him as Gilmore did.
"My mother really was quite the woman, though. You're right that she had to be, with two rather precocious twins to juggle," he continued, leaning forward to rest his chin on the edge of the chair as he looked up at Gilmore. "She would have rather liked you."
“Formidable,” Gilmore agreed. “In a way that all of the best women are.” Vax and Vex’s mother would have had to be, he knew, raising twins on her own. And even though they were either taken or sent to (the truth most likely lay somewhere in between) Syngorn, Gilmore believed it was because their mother wanted a better life for them and thought it was there. Hindsight was always clearer, of course, but if the twins had been with their mother they may have died when Thordak attacked. “I would have liked her too. And she would have been proud of you, darling,” he added, tracing the sharp slope of Vax’s nose with a finger. “Watching out for Vex’ahlia as you do, trying to do what’s best even when you risk your own safety, though I suspect we would be of the same mind on that part, being the best damned person you can be, I think your mother would be very proud indeed.”
“She would not, however, be proud of the way I’m taking care of your knees,” Gilmore said, shaking his head ruefully. “Come on, darling, up you get, you can’t be comfortable that way.” Not that his solution of pulling Vax up and on his chair, shifting and rearranging himself until they could both do something resembling reasonably fitting was all that much more comfortable, but it was more fun.
His arms wrapped around Vax, solid and sure as always. “I’m glad you came. I know, I know, we’re not talking about the day, and I agreed I wouldn’t, so I’ll simply say in general, completely unrelated to anything that may or may not be recognized today.” Because Gilmore too knew what today was, even if he’d previously ignored any celebrations at home. Vax’s relationship with his patron was his own choice, but he wasn’t going to go down the road alone. And GIlmore could share, he reasoned.
Vax needed no convincing to get up off the floor, settling in with a content sigh. He listened as Gilmore spoke, a small smile stretching his lips. Though he had asked to skip talking about the holy day and the associated goddess when he'd arrived at Gimore's that evening, Vax had known that both would inevitably come up at some point and he didn't really mind it. It was dangerously easy for him to get distracted by his feelings on the matter on normal occasion, but less so when he was sharing a chair, legs draped over Gilmore's and arm lifted to card his fingers into Gilmore's hair.
"I'm glad I came, too." Because Vax was -- not that the sentiment was different compared to any other time he went over to Gilmore's, really. As soon as he'd felt a little overwhelmed as the day had progressed, he knew exactly where he needed to go. He loved his sisters and the rest of Vox Machina, but there was something about Gilmore, sharing space with him, just being with him that set him at ease.
The something wasn't much of a mystery, though. Leaning in, Vax ghosted his nose over Gilmore's cheek, brushing a gentle kiss to his jawline before tipping his head forward to meet eyes. "I love you, Shaun."
The words came easily, without hesitation and with a confidence of someone that knew their heart well enough in this regard. He did love Gilmore, each and every part of him; from the handsome and enthusiastic businessman to the kind and generous friend to the patient and supportive partner. And, Vax thought, it was high time he let the other man know, rather than leaning on synonyms that only became more and more silly as time stretched on.
Gilmore smiled, Vax could feel it on his skin in the crook of his neck where Gilmore pressed his lips. “I love you,” he stated, owned, promised. Too simple of a phrase for the enormity of it, especially for Shaun who leaned so heavily on flowing language to express himself. But also somehow it was just right because it was that simple. He loved Vax, had for some time now, would for much longer than that. And words were just words, after all, loving someone meant more than saying it--it was about standing by that person in the worst and the best of times, leaning on the other’s strengths, laughing, worrying, coming back, holding on. “Tremendously, acutely, hopelessly.” Well, he was still Gilmore, he needed to add some sort of flair to it.
He tilted his face up, kissed Vax’s forehead and studied his face, the slopes and angles all beautifully familiar and loved. The softness in his expression belied the humor in Gilmore’s next words. “Now, my darling, tell me, where does that fall in relation to hankering?”
Breathing out a soft huff of a laugh, Vax leaned in and smiled as his forehead pressed to Gilmore's. His hands lifted, fingers gentle as he held the other man's face and just appreciate this and everything between them. There hadn't been much question, of course, as to whether or not the feelings he felt were returned; Vax knew that Gilmore loved him, just as he was so sure of his own feelings. His heart was full and warm and the part of him that questioned everything good was mercifully silent. Perhaps there would still be moments in the future where he considered whether or not he deserved such affections from anyone, let alone this glorious man that held so much of his heart, but this was not one of those moments.
"The differences between the two are subtle," Vax teased, leaning away just long enough to reposition, to press a kiss to Gilmore's cheek, the corner of his mouth. "But you're a clever man. I think you'll pick up on them if I show you."