Vex had already been waiting in their bedroom for well over an hour when she finally heard the familiar sound of the dressing room door next to the bedroom being opened and closed, as carefully as Percy could muster, probably assuming she was already asleep. His shifts in the workshop had become longer and longer, and despite Vex making an effort of visiting him – and dragging him off to bed at a reasonable time – as often as possible, there were still many evenings where he wouldn’t come to bed until she was fast asleep, and where she left him alone early in the morning to sleep off the fatigue from a night of working.
She didn’t mind, especially since she’d found out that he wasn’t working on another weapon. Percy wasn’t willing to tell much yet, still at the beginning of his plans, but the short description of his clocktower had already made Vex’s eyes water. Their final victory over Vecna was many months ago, most of the world had already moved on pretty well in their reparations, yet she – and surely all of her Vox Machina family members – still felt a sting in their hearts thinking about it. To see it commemorated in such a beautiful way made her hopeful.
Again, Vex didn’t mind her husband’s long hours in the workshop that much – she was well aware what a big part of Percy his tinkering was. But lately, she’d felt the need to have him beside her in bed when she was drifting off to sleep, thinking about so much that a calming hand on her side would be helpful. And there was an urging topic, something she had to talk about with him, that never really fit into their normal conversations during meals or sitting in the reading room with Cassandra by their side.
She couldn’t wait for a good moment any longer. Even if she caught him off-guard, it had to be tonight. Keyleth’s innocent laughter from a conversation a few days ago was still ringing in her head. „Every time I see you now, I’m expecting you to hide a little bump.“ While the druid had certainly meant no harm, her remark stuck in the back of Vex’s head like flypaper.
So when she heard Percy quietly pottering about next door, she jumped at the chance. Opening the door that connected bedroom to dressing room, she could see his workboots, his gloves, a charcoal and dust covered shirt on the floor before she could see him, shirtless and with his back to her, filling a small basin with water to get rid of even more charcoal down his arms.
Her eyes lingered on his back for a second. The dim light made the many little scars and nicks of their adventures almost dissappear, but her hands could remember feeling them even in the darkest of nights – stroking his back when he woke from yet another nightmare, holding on to him during nicer times in their bed. She got lost in thought, staring at him, until a quiet voice brought her back to reality.
„Enjoying the view, my dear?“
She could hear the amusement before she could see his smile as he turned around. She hadn’t thought of the mirror he was standing in front, giving him a perfect view of her huddled in the doorway, still holding onto the latch.
Vex cleared her throat, stepping into the room and picking up his discarded shirt, trying to act as nonchalant as possible.
„I was waiting for you to come to bed, but you were taking your sweet time.“
A few steps closer to him, putting the shirt in the laundry basket, she could feel his eyes follow her.
„Oh. I’m sorry, I was trying to figure out that one annoying hitch in the timing mechanism-“
„It’s fine. You’re earlier than usual, even.“
She touched his lower arm, still wet from his clean-up, and picked up a towel. Drying off his arms and hands – so warm, warmer than hers would ever be in the cold Whitestone evenings – she tried to find strength in her voice.
„It’s just, I, I wanted to talk to you about something, and it didn’t feel right bothering you while you work.“
„You’re never bothering me. You know that.“ His voice was soft, his blue eyes still focussed on her face, but she couldn’t match his gaze yet. „What did you want to talk about?“
„It’s nothing important, don’t worry.“ What a lie. It was the most important thing on her mind for weeks now.
She couldn’t tell whether he was able to look through her pretense of being calm, or whether it was his natural response to worry about her the minute she became the least bit evasive, but his face tensed up nonetheless. Her hands soft on his chest, tracing one of the many scars there as well, seemed to ease him a bit.
„It was just… I mean…“ She took a short, yet deep breath, still staring at her hands instead of him. „It’s been so wonderful here in Whitestone, with you. Since we came home, and things finally became… quiet. But…“
„But you don’t do well with quiet.“ He was trying to give it a joking tone, but she could hear the worry underneath.
„No! I mean, that’s not – I didn’t mean -“ She sighed. „I’m happy with this. Living with you, as Lord and Lady de Rolo, in our own quiet home.“ Her hands trailed up, past his collarbones, up to his jaw and ears, holding his head as soft as she could and finally looking into his eyes. „I simply think we could be even happier if it weren’t just us.“
It flew right over his head. As perceptive as Percy could be in a fighting situation or during dangerous trecks, in everyday life it was easy for him to not notice the bleeding obvious. It was almost endearing.
„I mean, Cassandra would surely love to spend more time with us. I know Pike and Scanlan are somewhat… busy, figuring out their situation, and Keyleth is still… maybe we could invite Kash and Zahra for a dinner-“
„No, silly.“ She couldn’t help but stifle a quick laugh. „I didn’t mean friends visiting. I meant family in the house.“
„Well, they are all family.“ He was very insistent on this.
„Oh, I know. But it’s not the kind of family I’m thinking of.“
She could hear the gears working hard behind his forehead until it finally clicked.
„Oh.“ He mumbled, much more quiet than before, and Vex watched his eyes shift off to the side – suddenly he became the one who couldn’t meet her eyes anymore. „You mean – you mean children.“ There was no emotion in his voice. She hadn’t expected him to jump from joy, but this was… worse than the unease she’d prepared for. Her hands shifted back down from his face, resting on his shoulder, shaking ever so slightly.
„Did you… do you not want… I thought, a family, for you would be…“ She couldn’t find the words. Neither could he, it seemed.
„It’s not- not that I wouldn’t- I mean-“ He sighed and turned to the side, fidgeting with something on the table. „This is a pretty big topic to start at this time of night.“
„I know.“ Vex’s hands dropped, one hand nervously grasping the other’s wrist. „I never could find the right moment for it.“
He was cleaning his glasses with the towel he’d picked up from the table, still turned away.
„We need to discuss this with a bit more clarity, I think. Not halfway to bed standing around in the dressing room.“
„I’m… sorry. Let’s, let’s just forget this and pick it up at a better time.“ She hadn’t wanted to sound as sad as she did.
„No.“ His voice was almost stern as he put his glasses back on, but softened as soon as he turned back to her, standing there with her shoulders raised and hands shaking, like a little girl that had been scolded. „No, dear, we can talk about this. Let me just get finished here, and I’ll join you in bed. Then we can talk.“
It seemed like forever until the door finally opened, shining a soft light into the dark bedroom. It was certainly far longer than it would normally take for Percy to get ready for sleep. Long enough for Vex’s nervosity to turn into anger at his stalling while she waited, bundled up in her duvet and twitching at every sound that could’ve been him finally coming in.
He was quiet, careful while slipping under the covers next to her.
„I’m not asleep yet, if that’s what you were hoping for.“ Her stinging voice broke through the darkness and made him grind to a halt. She turned around to face him, still propped up on his elbow, and an ever-so-slight familiar scent came from his mouth as he nervously sighed.
„Did you really need Courage for this conversation?!“
„The Courage is long gone.“ He sighed again before letting himself fall onto his back. „And it was just a small glass, just a sip-“
„I gave you the option not to have this talk right now, Percy. You insisted on it.“
„I know.“ He was staring at the ceiling, despite obviously not seeing anything in the dark, and without his glasses. She was staring straight at him, her half-elven eyes giving a clear sight.
He couldn’t, not for a while. Vex watched a whole gamut of emotions run over his face until he finally opened his mouth, his voice low and almost trembling.
„Can you imagine me, really, as any sort of parent? As a father?“
Any anger she’d had dissolved almost immediately. Instinctively, her hand reached out to him, landed on his chest and let her feel his racing heart.
„Oh, darling.“ She whispered. „Of course I can.“
„I can’t.“ It sounded very matter-of-fact before it became nervous again. „I never imagined myself this far. I thought I’d be dead in my twenties, even earlier. The idea of a family seems so…“ He licked his lips, searching for the right word. „Unreal.“
„But it could be real now. You’re still here, and so am I. We could have this, together.“
His hand grabbed hers, resting them both on his chest. His heart couldn’t stop racing.
„I wouldn’t want… for my… for any children we’d have… I wouldn’t want the kind of childhood we had.“
„I’m pretty sure any people who’d try to harm our little family would have to deal with a whole lot from our extended family.“
„I’m not talking about something like the Briarwoods.“ He still couldn’t say the name without poison in his voice, a deep breath before he continued. „I mean before that, even. You had your mother, and Vax always by your side even against your father’s-…“
„Just as you had your parents, and all your siblings.“ She could see his grimace.
„It was different.“ Another deep breath, his heart slowly calming. „Im not saying there wasn’t love, but… I told you we didn’t touch in our family. We didn’t do much at all, of anything.“ His face seemed young all of a sudden, young and innocent and scared. „I don’t want my children to have that distant of a family.“
„They wouldn’t have.“ She perched up now, her head above his, despite knowing he could barely see the shape of her face. „They would have a giant bear to cuddle and play with, and aunt Cassandra to teach them everything they want in the library. They’d have aunt Keyleth shapechange into funny forms, and plant a garden with them. They’d have aunt Pike for advice and any troubles of faith, and uncle Scanlan to sing them songs and plan pranks, and uncle Grog to sparr with if they become adventurous. And so many more, in Whitestone and Vasselheim and many other cities.“
„And a complete and utter human mess as a father shutting himself into his workshop whenever emotional trouble started brewing.“
Now it was her turn to sigh. Her free hand stroking his cheek, she leaned down to give him a soft kiss, whispering against his lips without pulling too far away. „Remember, my darling, that I’ve seen more of you than anyone else. I’ve seen you with the people you love. I know you’re still healing, and learning, but ‘passive’ is not the way I’d describe you when it comes to love. Not anymore.“ He smirked, and she couldn’t help but follow suit. „I don’t mean that, dear. I mean… I’ve seen how you’re connecting with your sister, now. I remember how tense you both were when I first tried to hug you, and how much you welcome it now.“
„You really think I could become a good father, after all this?“
She laid her head down beside him again, pulling the duvet up a bit to cover them both. „I think you will be a wonderful father, especially because of all this.“
Another short moment of tension in his face, but not nearly as strong as it had been during their hushed conversation in the darkness.
„What if I… don’t love them. What if I can’t.“
„Now you’re just talking nonsense, darling.“ She gave him a quick peck on the cheek, smiling throughout. „We both know there’s nothing I could ever do or make that you wouldn’t love. And that includes any children I’d make.“ She felt a smile creeping across his face, pushing his cheek up against her lips once again.
It had been quite a few minutes since they’d finished their emotional talk – Vex had been close to drifting off into sleep, the warmth of the duvet on top of her only being enhanced by the wonderful warmth of her husband next to her. His erratic and loud breath, however, told her clearly that he was still wide awake, mulling things over, planning and sorting as he so often would while waiting for sleep. His voice was yet again calm and soft as it broke through the silence.
„Percival Fredrickstein Von Musel Klossowski de Rolo the Fourth.“
She couldn’t keep herself from giggling before cuddling closer to him and whispering at his side.
„Freddy to his friends.“
Quiet. His arm shifted around her, pulling her even closer.
„I like that.“
„What if it were a girl?“
She could feel him absent-mindedly stroking her back, like he often did while ideas twirled through his head.
„I’d like that too.“