Side A – Nia
Guilt clutched at Nia’s heart. She hadn’t done anything wrong, but that didn’t matter. She’d wanted something wrong, and a part of her wanted to hide that so deeply that no one could ever find it. Lacking anything else to bury the temptation to steal Yasgrid’s life under, Nia used a mountain of guilt for the task, just like she’d been taught she was supposed to.
“Kayelle ran us out as far from town as we could go,” Yasgrid said. “I seriously think another step might have killed us. The good news though is everyone else should be safe, and Kayelle’s taking the first watch.”
“I’m glad you’re ok,” Nia said, grateful that she could honestly say that.
“I guess I am,” Yasgrid said. “But I think this is where it gets difficult.”
Yasgrid had joined Nia in the small recovery room in Frost Harbor. They could switch the focus of their conversation back to the Darkwood, but it would be easier for Yasgrid to pretend to be asleep if she left her awareness of Nia’s body drift away.
“What’s coming up that’s going to be hard?” Nia asked. The hunt with Endings wasn’t going to be easy, but if push came to shove, Yasgrid could always walk away. The Darkwood had bearers end their journey early before, and it would again.
“This is going to be our first night since we switched,” Yasgrid said. She looked away, averting her eyes as her words gained weight. “We don’t know if the switch is going to continue onto tomorrow. Maybe it was just a one time thing for the first day of the new year?”
Nia paled at the thought.
“We don’t really know what’s going to happen,” she said, not knowing, or willing to admit, what she hoped.
“Yeah, and a few hours will tell the tale one way or the other,” Yasgrid said. “I just…”
She cut off and fell silent. It wasn’t a silence that suggested she was searching for words, but rather searching for whether she should say the words she already knew she wanted to speak.
“We should probably compare notes,” Nia said. “In case we do switch back. I don’t want you to get surprised by the things that happened today.”
“Yeah, that’s a good idea,” Yasgrid said, looking up. “Thank you.”
“For what?” Nia asked.
“For taking care of me,” Yasgrid said. “I mean, my body, heck even my people. Today wasn’t what it was supposed to be but maybe…maybe that was a good thing.”
“I think you got the short end of the stick there,” Nia said. “I’m not the one stuck out in the forest with Kayelle hunting monsters. Though, I guess I might be if this thing goes away?”
“I…” Yasgrid began and shut her mouth firmly again.
“What is it?” Nia asked, swinging her legs out of the bed she’d been sitting up in so that she could reach forward and take Yisgrid’s hands in her own.
“I don’t know if I want it to,” Yasgrid meeting Nia’s gaze
Side B – Yasgrid
Admitting what had been growing within her felt like both running away from her problems and running to embrace them for Yasgrid. She knew there were issues in her life as a Stoneling which she hadn’t ever fully faced. Things like her place as a Shatter drummer, and her relationship with her mother that she would be isolating herself from as long as she was living Nia’s life. She felt cowardly for fleeing from those but another part of her was eager to pursue the course she’d put Nia’s life on. Fighting with Kayelle, in both senses of the term, didn’t seem like it was going to be easy, but it was a challenge she felt like she could handle, and one she yearned to prove herself through.
Also, leaving Nia to sort out the promises to Endings seemed a little unforgivable. Yasgrid had made the pledges, so she should be the one to see them through.
“You…Really?” Nia said. She was breathing quickly, which for a Darkwood elf meant she was unusually upset.
Yasgrid tried to apologize and assure Nia that she wouldn’t try to block any reversal of their switch. Nia deserved to have her own life back, and Yasgrid wasn’t going to stand against that.
Before she could speak though, Nia laughed and turned away. It wasn’t a mirthful sound. It was a shocked one. It was followed by confused laughter and Nia turning to look back to Yasgrid with tears ready to roll down her checks.
“Don’t offer that,” she said. “It’s not fair.”
“What do you mean?” Yasgrid asked, sensing that they weren’t quite on the same page.
“I can’t take over your life,” Nia said. “You deserve better than that.”
It was Yasgrid’s turn to laugh, but hers was gentler than Nia’s had been.
“Maybe we have more to talk about than just how our day’s went,” Yasgrid said and sat on the bed, gesturing for Nia to sit back down beside her.
“Yeah,” Nia said. “There are definitely some things I need to tell you.”
“Before we get to any of that,” Yasgrid said. “Let me say this; however we end up, I hope we end up together. I’ve known you for less than a day, and I already know there’s no one else I could have handled this as well with. From the first moment we met, I knew I could trust you.”
“Yeah,” Nia said, wiping away her tears. “Same for me.”
Yasgrid extended her arm around Nia’s shoulder and drew her in for a hug. There was something very peaceful about sitting there, together, with the world leaving them along for a change. It was tempting to stay in that quiet darkness, leaving speech and the cares of tomorrow until the future, but Yasgrid knew they needed to keep moving forward.
“So maybe the first thing we should talk about is what we’d like to see happen,” she suggested. “Not what we think is right, or what we think the other one needs, just be honest with me and I’ll be honest with you and we’ll work from there.”
Nia sat back so that she could meet Yasgrid’s gaze again.
“I think I can do that,” she said, as a great weight lifted off of her.