[P] the resolute urgency of now

The longer he wrestled with the idea, the more Jethro realized both choices were terrible.

With Tiamat, Lotan, and Pazuzu now camped out near their establishment it seemed the whole family Amaranthe had come to their corner of the world. While it should have been a joyful reunion, the complications emerged early on. Serafina's existence was an unknown development to her older siblings, and the lot of them seemed caught up in varying degrees of unresolved drama.

The worst of all was the fact that now, inevitably, Erie would come up. It had to, because they were all here – or at least, almost all of them.
Jethro didn't know what he would say. The whole situation had been outrageous and unbelievable. What would the others think, if they knew about the choices the group had been forced to make? Would his old party openly explain what they had seen?

Though he didn't think of himself as very smart or particularly brave, Jethro decided to face the most difficult challenge head on.

To do so, he asked Malik to accompany him in setting some traps – a task which required no extra hands, but proved an adequate cover to give them an excuse to slip away. Thus far (Jethro believed), their budding romance remained a secret. Even now he didn't think the obviousness of the trek carried particular weight. The day was warm, and clear. Trees were starting to bud and turn green, and a few had reddish-pink tips that suggested blossoms would be coming soon, if the earliest had not begun to bloom already.

Just walking together, even without saying anything, that was nice. Jethro feared he was going to disrupt everything and kept his mouth shut longer than he meant.
The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.
Character Wiki | La Estrella Roja | Player Wiki
The newness of it - of them - had entirely yet to fade for Malik.

Sure, there were plenty other distractions to be focused on these days. For the first time in his life, Malik had more family within reach than he could poke a stick at. It had been just the brothers for so long that even the older siblings he knew about had become more myth than substance - But now here they were, walking around the camp like strangers that had stolen small pieces of his mother's appearance and played dress-up with them.

To say that the Bard was intimidated by Lotan and Tiamat was as great an understatement as could possibly be made. It was not only that he had written songs that vaguely painted them with the (now embarassing) brush of hero-worship, but it was the brevity they brought to the fireside at night. So many words unspoken, sitting like an unwelcome vagrant in the empty spaces between them all. Mal was not overly perceptive by nature, but the entanglement of threads that seemed to bind their guests to each member of the Troupe were impossible to ignore.

And oh, he wanted to pry. More than anything did he want to know what great fables had unfolded on exotic shores. For better or for worse, these were his kin - the family he had been born with, and the family he had chosen. The not-knowing made him feel unexpectedly like an outcast among them, lonely and quiet while surrounded by talking voices.

But the last time Malik had pried into something, poking and prodding where he hadn't been invited, it had not gone well.

So he took each stolen moment with Jethro with the zeal of an alcoholic stealing shots behind the bar, dosing himself on the sweetness of it, even as they both tried to ignore the shame that came with subterfuge.

"You don't have to walk so fast now."

Smiling around the words, the bard reached out to catch at Jethro's hand. Instinctively his fingers intertwined with the coyote's, white against cream, warmth against warmth. He let the weight of his body slow the guard's productive step to a meander.

"We're alone," The bashfullness that never quite seemed to fade in Jethro's presence made Mal's eyelids heavy, "And we both know I'm useless at trapping."

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