A breeze, crisp with the first touch of autumn, ruffles through Green’s hair, and he breathes in deeply. “Not much longer ‘till the next town, now! I can smell their cooking fires.”
It’s only him and Red on this patrol. In the aftermath of Vaati and Ganon's defeat, the Knights have been spread thin, pulled in every direction across Hyrule as they help clean up after disasters and roust the last stragglers of the monster army. The Captain had been somewhat reluctant to let Red and Green patrol on their own without any backup, but this region hadn’t sent in any major monster reports—just the odd deku scrub sighting, and a slight increase in petty theft during the chaos—and as Green had pointed out, the two of them had handled much worse than that already.
As it is, Green almost feels guilty for claiming this particular route for himself and Red. It’s turned out to be more of a leisurely stroll than anything else, with late-evening sunlight casting long shadows between the trees, and the promising smell of a warm dinner over the next hill.
Well, a warm dinner and… he frowns. Maybe the scent of smoke is a little stronger than can be accounted for with just cook-fires.
Then they crest the hill, and they both stop in their tracks. Before he's really had time to consciously process it, Green is already standing up straighter, his eyes darting across the scene before them, taking in details and scanning for potential threats. There’s been a fire, clearly. Several buildings bear visible scorch marks, even from a distance. At least one or two have been reduced to charred black skeletons, their exposed support beams jutting up out of the ground like ribs. It doesn’t seem to be an ongoing crisis—people are milling about sedately, not panicking, and there’s evidence of clean-up and repair efforts—but whatever happened, it was big, and it was recent.
Green half-turns to Red, mouth open to speak, then stops. Red has gone sheet-pale, staring silently down at the town. He’s frozen in place, so still that for a wild moment Green wants to check that he’s still breathing.
“Red?” Green reaches for Red’s shoulder, but Red flinches away from him. His head jerks up and he turns wide eyes on Green, looking, for an instant, truly frightened. Green pulls his hand back, giving Red space.
“S-sorry,” Red says, a slight tremor in his voice. “I just realized… I think I recognize this place.”
“Oh?” Green frowns. “It doesn’t look familiar to me.”
“It wouldn’t.” Red’s head is ducked low, shoulders pulled up almost to his ears. He fidgets with the leather strap holding his Fire Rod to his belt. “You were— This is where I lost my Four Sword.”
Green draws in a hissing breath as the pieces fall into place. Red’s unease, the scent of smoke, even the crime reports the knights had noted for this area. He winces internally, remembering where he’d been at the time. Dozing off in the tent of some Gerudo masseuse…
“Do you want to go around?” Green asks. “We can avoid the town, if you want to.” But even as he says it, his stomach growls in protest. They’ve been walking all day.
Red shakes his head. “No. We… we should stop. Or, try to, at least. They’re… probably not going to be too happy to see me.”
Green reaches for Red’s shoulder again, and this time Red doesn’t flinch away. He shifts slightly, lifting his chin and standing up straighter under the reassuring weight of Green’s hand.
When Red meets his eyes again, Green says “What happened here wasn’t your fault, Red. And if they try to start anything, well… I’m right here with you.”
There’s still an uneasy slant to Red’s ears, but he presses his lips together and gives Green a small nod. Green returns it, and the two of them start down the last hill together.
The first person to spot them is a young girl, perhaps seven or eight years old, playing with a leather ball at the edge of town. She gives a startled squeak when she sees them, dropping her toy in alarm. Green lifts a hand, a reassuring smile already tugging at his face, a friendly greeting on the tip of his tongue—but before he can get a word out, the girl is bolting back toward the town.
Green and Red exchange a concerned look, but all Green has to offer is a helpless shrug. There’s nothing to do but keep going.
The scent of smoke grows stronger as they enter the town, burning in the back of Green’s throat. It's like a physical manifestation of the subtler pall of unease that hangs in the air. People stop what they’re doing to stare at the two heroes as they go past, but no one speaks or approaches them. Their gazes skitter aside when Green tries to make eye contact. Red doesn’t try at all, staring fixedly ahead into the middle distance.
Green catches himself looking for mourning clothes among the wary villagers, and is relieved when he doesn't spot any.
They’ve nearly reached the center of town when a man—mid-thirties, perhaps, with a full beard, and ragged blond hair tied back in a queue—and an older woman—her face wrinkled, but her back straight and confidence in her gait—round the corner and head directly toward Green and Red. The young girl from earlier peers up at them from behind the woman’s skirts.
When the woman reaches them, she gives Green a brief nod of acknowledgement before focusing solely on Red. “You’re the Red Hero?” she asks, straightforward and blunt.
“Y-yes?” Red says it like it’s a question.
“You passed through here the night of the fire? You wield that?” She points to the Fire Rod looped through Red’s belt.
Red takes a shaky breath. “Yes,” he says, more confidently than before. He squares his shoulders and meets the woman’s gaze evenly, and something fierce and proud and protective glows through Green’s chest.
The woman gives Red a long, appraising look. She nods curtly. “I believe my son has something to say to you.”
The man at her side winces, but he steps forward and sketches an unpracticed bow. “I have misjudged you, Red Hero. On behalf of myself and my town, I am sorry.”
Red’s ears flick up in surprise, and Green, with his hand still resting on Red’s shoulder, feels some of the tension leave him. “O-oh! Well, um. Apology accepted!”
“Hmm,” the woman says, giving her son a doubtful look. Green gets the feeling that even if Red is quick to forgive, the man still has penance yet to do, by his mother’s standards. She turns back to the two heroes. “Would you join us for a meal? It is the least we can do, to make amends for how you were treated here.”
Red glances at Green, looking for leadership, but Green only tilts his head questioningly in reply. This is up to Red. Hungry as they both are, if Red isn’t comfortable staying in this town any longer than absolutely necessary, then Green will make sure they don’t.
“Gran made a blackberry pie!” The little girl, who had leaned out from behind her grandmother to make this proclamation, immediately ducks back into hiding.
Red blinks. Then he smiles, bright like sunlight. “We would be happy to accept your hospitality.”
The kitchens are one of their first priorities in sorting out the wreckage of the Hyrule Castle attack. The sooner they can clear out the rubble and sort the spoiled supplies from what might still be salvageable, the better equipped they’ll be to feed their team of knights, castle staff, and helpful volunteers as they deal with the rest of the necessary repairs.
Green is helping Valensuela pile broken chunks of a collapsed wall into a wheelbarrow when there’s a shout and a crash from the other side of the room.
Green’s head whips around, alarmed. “Blue?” Without waiting for an answer, Green is already scrambling across the pile of rubble towards the source of the shout, Valensuela two steps behind him.
When they reach the section Blue had been clearing, they find what had once been a trap door, now only half attached to its hinges, the other half splintered apart and fallen into the room below.
“I’m alright,” Blue’s voice comes out muffled through the opening. “…I found the cellar.” He sounds out of breath.
Green can’t help but laugh, mostly out of relief. “You sure did! Did you happen to find the cellar stairs?”
“No. Or, yes, but…” Blue sounds really out of breath. “They’re broken.”
Green frowns. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yes, Green, it’s not that far a fall.” And there’s the annoyance Green would expect from him, but something still sounds off. It’s bringing up a memory—Blue and Red filling him in on what had happened while they were separated, their experiences in the Temple of Darkness. The way Blue had gruffly tried to play it off as no big deal, the look of horror on Red’s face as he described Blue being constricted by the Big Poe.
Valensuela claps Green on the shoulder. “I’ll go fetch a rope, shall I?”
“Wait.” Green catches his sleeve before he can leave. “Lower me down first? I want to check on Blue.”
Valensuela frowns, but shrugs and does as Green asks.
Even with Valensuela’s help, it’s not an insignificant drop, and Green stumbles a bit on the landing. The ground beneath the cellar door is uneven, littered with rubble and wooden bits of the broken trapdoor and stairs. It’s dark, too, and Green can only just make out the shape of Blue, leaning his back against the wall. As close to the door, the only source of light, as he can get.
“You need to breathe, Blue,” Green says, moving to lean against the wall beside him, so that he's within arms’ reach, but not crowding. “C’mon, I’ll count it for you. In… one… two… three… four… and out.”
Blue’s breaths are audibly shaky as he follows along, but slowly they steady out. After a few repetitions, Blue’s hand slides along the wall until he finds Green’s, and he squeezes Green’s fingers like a lifeline. Neither of them acknowledges it verbally, but Green squeezes back.
Green wants to say something—to chide Blue for not talking about this before, or to reassure him that his teammates would never think less of him for having a phobia—but he doesn’t think that would go over well, and now is not the time.
So instead, he says, “Why did the cucco cross the road?”
“No, you’re supposed to say ‘why’,” Green corrects, flashing a cheeky grin even though Blue can’t see it.
There’s a pause, then: “Why.”
“To join the revenge swarm.”
Blue groans. “That’s not even funny.”
“Well, have you heard the one about the scarecrow?”
“Somehow I’m sure you’re about to enlighten me.” Blue’s tone is dry, and almost even, and Green’s grin widens.
Four jokes later, he’s actually managed to get a weak snicker out of Blue. Green's eyes have adjusted some to the dim light, and he tracks the rise and fall of Blue's chest as he breathes—deep and steady, even if it's taking deliberate concentration to keep it that way.
Three more jokes, and Valensuela reappears at the edge of the cellar door with the rope.
“You two alright down there?” Valensuela asks.
“Oh sure!” Green calls up at him. “Stellar! You could even say… cella—“
Blue lets go of Green's hand in order to cover Green’s mouth, stopping the pun in its tracks.
“Vio, breakfast!” Green calls through the door to Vio's room. He doesn’t bother trying the handle—between breakfast tray and steaming mug, both his hands are already occupied. Besides, he has no doubt it’s locked. “I’ve got scrambled eggs, and toast, and—“
“No thank you,” Vio’s voice comes from the other side, terse and snappish.
“I also have coffee!” Green sing-songs, undeterred.
For a long moment, silence. Then the door opens a crack, just enough for Vio to peer out at him suspiciously. One arm snakes through the gap, reaching for the mug, but Green pulls it away before Vio can take it. The maneuver makes the heavily-laden breakfast tray wobble precariously, but Green manages to right it without spilling anything.
“Not so fast!” he says cheerfully. “Food first, then coffee.”
Vio’s eyes narrow in a chilly scowl, but he opens the door wider and moves to take the tray. Deliberately misinterpreting his gesture as an invitation, Green shoulders his way past Vio and into the room.
Inside, it looks less a bedroom and more like a tornado swept through a library, an alchemists’ workshop, and a cartographer’s, and deposited their combined contents in one place. Stacks of books collect in every corner, loose note paper piles up like snow drifts. The walls are papered with maps, covered in squiggly lines and markers and notes in Vio’s handwriting. A jar of broken glass shards glints dimly from Vio’s desk, the rest of which is taken up by a large diagram annotated in the same narrow handwritten scrawl as the maps. There’s a row of smaller jars on the windowsill, containing everything from sea shell fragments, to dried leaves, to what looks like completely ordinary sand.
Green looks around, at a loss for where to put the breakfast tray. Even the narrow bed in the corner is lost under books and papers, and Green wonders where Vio has been sleeping. With a surreptitious glance at the dark circles under Vio’s eyes, he amends that to if Vio has been sleeping.
Eventually, Green gives up trying to find tablespace, and resorts to sitting down cross-legged on the floor and setting the tray in front of him. With a resigned sigh, Vio sits across from him. Green pushes the tray closer to him. Vio rolls his eyes, but he picks up the fork and takes a bite of scrambled eggs, giving Green a pointed look. Green just smiles and takes an apple slice for himself. He’s already had breakfast, but he figures it will be less awkward for Vio if he eats a little bit, too.
They sit in silence for a while. Once Vio has made decent headway on the scrambled eggs and eaten a slice of toast, Green lets him have the coffee.
“You want to talk it over?” Green asks.
Vio goes still, his knuckles turning white around the coffee mug. “I don’t… no, Green. Thank you, but no. I don’t want to talk about him being gone. I just want to focus on getting him back.”
“No, no!” Green raises his hands in a placating gesture. “I meant your research. I might not know all the literature inside and out the way you do, but maybe talking it over out loud will help.”
Vio relaxes a little. “Oh. Well…” He hesitates a second longer, then sets the mug down and reaches out to pull one of his reference books toward them. Green notes with satisfaction that he also picks up a piece of toast with the other hand and continues eating, absent-mindedly. “My latest line of investigation has to do with the moon pearls. The one you had most likely disappeared when you used it in the pyramid—“
Green winces. “Sorry.”
Vio waves his half-eaten slice of toast in distracted acknowledgement of the apology. “—but there may be more. They’re quite rare, though. They’re not like normal pearls, they aren’t a byproducts of oysters. There doesn’t actually seem to be any scientific consensus on their origin, but I’ve been thinking—“
Green sits back and lets Vio talk, going over his theories, taking bites of toast between words. It's good to see him like this—if not happy, exactly, then at least energized. He's been distant since Vaati and Ganon's defeat. Quiet. He doesn't often let the guilt and sorrow show—not plainly, at least—but the single-minded determination with which he's thrown himself into his research of the Dark World, and the disregard for his own health, is telling enough.
Sometime later when the tray is nearly empty, Vio suddenly freezes mid-sentence, his coffee mug halfway to his mouth. He sets the mug down with a clatter that would have spilled it if it hadn’t already been half empty, and scrambles to his feet to go rummaging through one of his stacks of paper.
“Do you think— Is it a plant? Because if the Moon Pearls are actually seed pods, that might explain—yes!” He emerges from the stack victorious, a sheet of paper clutched in one hand. He grabs a book from another pile and throws both on his desk, right on top of the diagram already there, and takes out a pen to begin scribbling notes on a fresh sheet of paper.
Smiling to himself, Green gathers up the remains of breakfast. He sets the coffee mug on the desk next to Vio and turns to go, calling over his shoulder, “I’ll be back later with lunch!”
Vio gives him a half-wave without looking up from his writing, and Green leaves, taking the breakfast tray and shutting the door behind him.
Green stares sleeplessly up at the ceiling of a room that, even after weeks, still doesn’t feel like his. The wing of the castle that Link’s room had been in had been one of those most heavily damaged in Shadow’s attack, and they’ve been given rooms in a less-damaged part of the castle while their quarters are rebuilt. In a way, it’s convenient; Link’s old room wouldn’t have been enough, now that there are four of them. Five, even, if Vio’s work pays off.
But in the meantime, in an unfamiliar room with sleep eluding him, he goes over the next week’s schedule in his mind.
Blue needs to blow off steam. I should tell Dad to send him with the party Artura is taking to clear that landslide near the Death Mountain pass. He’ll love having an excuse to bash things with his hammer.
I’ve already promised to go with the landslide party myself, but I also need to send someone with the patrol going to the east border. Zelda mentioned that one of the town mayors over there was kicking up a fuss about wanting a “real hero” to confirm his area clear of monsters. Hah! There haven’t even been any major sightings in their region. Old windbag just wants to feel important. Still, maybe Red… or, isn’t there a big library along that patrol route? Vio then—he might agree to it, if there’s any potential the library could have something of use to his research. It’d do him good to get out of the castle…
His thoughts are interrupted by the quiet creak of the door opening. Green sits up, reflexively reaching for his sword beside his bed, but he stops a moment later as his eyes catch up to his instincts and he recognizes Red, standing at his door in pajamas and soft slippers.
“Ah! Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you!” Red starts to back away from the door.
“No, don’t worry, I was already awake,” Green reassures him. He sits up properly, legs dangling over the edge of the bed and comforter pulled up around his shoulders like a cloak. He pats the spot beside him on the mattress. “Wanna come tell me what’s up?”
“Um.” Red hesitates, looking back over his own shoulder at the hallway. He’s clearly contemplating making excuses and a run for it, but eventually he steps forward instead of back. “Y-yeah, alright. You’re going to think it’s dumb, though,” he adds in a mumble as he sits down next to Green.
“Hm. Doubt it,” Green says, careful to keep his tone light, even as the slant of his ears betrays his concern. He drapes half his comforter over Red’s back, cocooning the two of them in warmth.
“It’s…” Red sighs. “I just… I needed to check to make sure you were still here. Blue and Vio, too. It was awful when we were all separated, and I wasn’t sure where you were of if you were okay or anything.”
Red sniffles, and Green wraps his arm around Red’s shoulders but doesn’t interrupt. Now that Red has started talking, he doesn’t seem to want to stop.
“And sometimes I wake up and I’m afraid everything since then has only been a dream, and I’m still by myself. And for all I know you, or Vio, or Blue – for all I know you could be… And back then, even after I found Blue, Vio was acting all weird, and there was that c-coffin, and— and— Green, we thought you were dead. Twice!”
Red’s sniffles have devolved into full-on sobs, his body shuddering with each unsteady breath as tears stream down his face. Green pulls him closer, letting Red lean into his shoulder while Red struggles to get his breathing under control.
“I told you it was dumb,” Red mumbles after a while. “Crying over something that didn’t even happen. Crying over something almost a month ago that didn’t even happen.”
“I don’t think so.” Green rubs soothing circles on Red’s back. “Sometimes it takes a while to process things. Sometimes the tears take a while to catch up with you. And… can I tell you something?”
“Sometimes I check on you guys, too. Just to make sure you’re all there. All... alive. I think it’s probably pretty normal, considering… well. I don’t think it’s dumb, but if you’re dumb then I guess I am too.”
Red doesn’t respond in words, but he wraps his arms around Green and cuddles closer. They stay like that for a long while, Red leaning against Green’s shoulder, until Red’s sobs peter out into choked hiccups.
“I made your pajama shirt all gross,” Red mumbles at last. “I’m sorry.”
Green grins. “Nice to meet you, Sorry. I’m Green.”
Red makes a noise that is half groan, half watery chuckle, and Green counts that as a victory.
Privately, he makes a mental note to send both Red and Vio on the patrol to the eastern border, so that neither of them will be left by themself.
Ever since Vaati’s defeat, Green’s been taking more notice of his shadow—the literal one, on the ground beside him.
Sometimes, out of the corner of his eye, he thinks he sees it move. Its hat will seem to ripple and curl like smoke, or its hand will twitch as if it might be about to wave at him. But whenever he looks directly at it, it’s always just normal, just following his own movements as usual.
Still, he notices it. Smiles at it. Says a few words every once in a while. “Nice to see you, Shadow.” “Glad to have you around.” “Can you believe Blue actually took that dare and ended up with his tongue frozen stuck to his sword?!”
He doesn’t know if Shadow can hear him. He might just be talking to himself. But he keeps trying anyway, because it can’t hurt, right?
The first big rainstorm of the year strikes before the castle repairs are complete. There’s a flurry of activity as everyone runs around covering exposed rooms with tarps, but once they’ve done what they can to weatherproof the half-finished construction, there’s not much left to do but stay inside and wait for the worst of the deluge to pass them by.
Being cooped up indoors isn’t doing Blue any favors. He’s already cleaned every weapon they own, sewed up the holes in every scrap of clothing that needed mending, and dusted every surface in the common area of the Links’ living quarters—twice. He’s now resorted to pacing.
After about ten minutes of that, Green finally takes pity on his restless teammate. He grabs two wooden practice swords and tosses one to Blue. Caught off-guard, Blue nearly drops it, but his reflexes save him and he snatches it out of the air at the last moment, giving Green an incredulous look.
“It’s pouring out,” Blue says.
Green shrugs. “What, you think pirates and monsters will do us the courtesy of only attacking when the weather’s nice?”
Blue huffs. “Alright, whatever. You’re on.”
They’re drenched almost as soon as they step out the door. The heavy rain makes for awful visibility and worse footing, but it’s worth it for the fierce grin on Blue’s face as they trade blows back and forth across the deserted training field.
A leg-sweep from Blue sends Green’s feet skidding out from under him, and he lands on his rear end in the wet grass.
Five minutes later, he gets back at Blue by maneuvering him backwards into a mud puddle Blue hadn’t seen, then dodging a swing and letting Blue’s own momentum make him lose his balance.
Blue faceplants, coming back up with the lower half of his face caked in mud. It almost looks like a beard, and Green nearly falls over himself from laughing so hard at the sight.
Blue wipes the mud off his face as best he can. “Oh you’re asking for it, now!” He charges Green, and between the rain and the tears of laughter, Green has to swing blindly in an attempt to block him.
He feels the practice sword connect, hears a grunt of pain, and when Green manages to clear his eyes as much as possible, he sees that Blue has fallen back, one hand to his own forehead, and…
… and there’s blood mixed with the rain and mud on Blue’s face.
Green curses and drops his sword. “Let me see,” he says, reaching for Blue, pulling him toward an overhang at the edge of the courtyard where they’ll be out of the rain.
“It’s nothing, Green, just a scratch,” Blue says.
He’s not exactly wrong. It’s a shallow cut over Blue’s left eyebrow, almost more of a welt—thank goodness for blunt wooden practice swords—but it’s broken the skin, and head wounds do tend to bleed a lot. Bright red stains blond hair, dripping over blue eyes, and Green’s throat feels tight at the thought that he did that.
Green finds one of the first-aid kits they keep on hand at the training field, and comes back with a clean cloth to dab at the cut with.
Blue tries to squirm away. “Green, it’s a cut, I don’t need you babying me.”
“Hold still,” Green snaps, harsher than he intended. And perhaps it’s out of surprise more than anything else, but Blue obeys.
“It may be just a cut,” Green says, forcing his tone calmer, even as there’s nothing he can do about the frantic racing of his heart. “But we’re both covered in mud. It could get infected.”
“I can still do it myself,” Blue grumbles, reaching for the cloth.
“No!” Green pulls it away.
Blue stares at him.
“No,” Green says, feeling his face heat with embarrassment. He knows he’s acting irrationally, but… “We don’t have a mirror out here; you can’t treat it properly without being able to see it. And this is my fault, so just… let me fix it, okay?”
Blue stares a moment longer. “Okay,” he says at last.
Green sighs, more relieved than he thinks he ought to be. “Thank you.”
“Need anything, Zelda? A cup of tea? A fresh bottle of ink?”
He’s sitting on the edge of the big desk in Zelda’s study, bouncing his heels. His sparring match with Blue was hours ago, and it’s fully dark outside now. The rain has eased up some, but it still drums against the windows like it’s trying to get inside.
“Did you sort that stack of letters I gave you?”
“Yes. First by date, then alphabetized.”
“And brought me another candle, since this one is running low?”
“I brought two, just in case.”
Zelda puts her hand over his, and Green hadn’t even realized he was fidgeting with her Hylian Crest wax seal until she’s pulling it gently out of his grasp.
“Then what I need most from you is a well-rested knight tomorrow morning.” She says, smiling patiently. “And maybe some peace and quiet while I finish writing this letter to our ambassador in Hytopia. Go to bed, Green.”
There’s a teasing tone to her voice, and it’s comfortable, familiar. Green sighs dramatically, playing it up in the hopes of getting her to laugh. “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather I fight a hinnox for you? Got any ancient artifacts that need retrieving? Dungeon puzzles to solve?”
She chuckles at him, tiny crinkles forming at her eyes and nose as she shakes her head—her genuine laugh, not her polite formal one. Mission accomplished.
He slides off the edge of the desk, stretching his arms above his head and feeling his back pop. Zelda offers him her hand, and he kisses her knuckles.
“Good night, Princess.”
“Sleep well, my knight.”
He starts to leave, but as he reaches the door, he leans back into the study. “But are you sure you don’t need—“
“Good night, Green!”
The sound of her laughter follows him down the hallway.
He tries to do as she says, he really does. But every time he starts to drift off, his brain starts playing memories on rotation—
Vio (the coldness in his eyes contrasting the heat of the lava, the coldness in Green’s gut as he realized what he might have to do to keep the Four Sword out of enemy hands)
Valensuela (didn’t recognize him until it was almost too late, could have killed him without meaning to)
Artura (just the armor, only empty armor, but they’d had no way of knowing that at the time, it might not have been)
Father (his helmet split in half, knife jammed into his own leg)
—and there’s blood on Green’s sword, on his hands. The longer this goes on, the worse it gets, adding people he’s never actually had to fight: other knights. Red. Zelda.
Green flings himself upright, panic lodged in his throat like a stone. He’s soaked with cold sweat and breathing heavily as the violent red of his dreams slowly fades to the dark nighttime hues of his borrowed bedroom. He swallows hard, trying to fight down the choking dread. He can’t close his eyes without seeing blood and fear; the scene is waiting for him in every blink.
Going back to sleep is clearly out of the question.
He gives up and swings his legs out of bed. Out of the blankets, he’s shivering through his thin pajamas, but that… that’s good. He feels more awake, further away from the nightmare.
There’s a pitcher of water in the common room, and he pours himself a glass. His hand trembles as he picks it up, sending ripples across the surface, and—
Blue’s voice. Bright-red-staining-blond-hair-dripping-over-blue-eyes.
Green fumbles the glass. He tries to catch it, panic spiking through him, but it slips past his fingers and shatters on the floor. Cold water washes over his bare feet.
He hears Blue cursing from somewhere behind him, but it sounds distant, muted. Green’s knees are wet and cold. Is he kneeling in the puddle? When did that happen?
Blue’s voice is joined by another’s—Red’s?—but Green can’t make out what they’re saying through the rushing of blood in his ears.
“Green?” That’s Red’s voice, quiet but clear, right next to him. “Is it alright if I touch you?”
Green can’t speak past the lump in his throat, but he nods jerkily. Red’s hand settles on his shoulder, and Green leans into it and manages a few shaky breaths. Something warm and soft is draped over Green, and he blinks for a moment in confusion, before realizing it’s the comforter from Red’s bed.
A door slams open and Vio stumbles out into the hallway, looking pale and stricken.
“Oh, shoot, Vio, the shattering sound, I should have realized—“ Green tries to stand, but Blue’s hand on the opposite shoulder from Red’s stops him.
“No, you idiot, don’t move. You’re barefoot and there’s glass everywhere, you’ve already got a cut on your heel, just… stay put.”
Reluctantly, Green subsides.
“Green, breathe,” Blue says.
Green… tries. He still feels choked by panic, but Blue counts out the breaths for him, even and steady.
Once Green is breathing easier, Blue moves aside and Vio takes his place, crouching in front of Green and pushing a fresh glass of water into his hands. Vio’s put his leather boots on over his pajamas. Belatedly, Green realizes that all three of the others have done the same.
“Seriously, don’t worry about me,” Vio says in a low tone. “Just drink this, if you can.”
Green does, and the cool water soothes some of the tight soreness from his throat.
Blue returns with a broom and dustpan and begins carefully cleaning up the shards of glass around Green. When Blue declares it safe, Red gets Green repositioned so he’s sitting instead of kneeling, leaning a little into Red’s side, with Red’s arm wrapped around him, supporting him.
He’s calming down from the panic enough now to realize that, yes, he really did cut his heel on the glass, and ow, it really stings. Especially when Blue dabs at it with a damp cloth.
Green flinches away on instinct, but Blue catches him by the ankle and scowls at him. “You know as well as I do you’ve gotta get this cleaned. Don’t want it getting infected, do you?” The ironic echo of it isn’t lost on either of them, not when Blue is still wearing the bandages Green applied to his forehead earlier that day.
Green scowls right back, but there’s little venom in it, and he lets Blue continue to clean and bandage the shallow cut.
“You know, you’re kind of a hypocrite.” Vio says evenly, taking his now-empty glass and refilling it for him. “Giving me crap about not taking care of myself, while you’re running yourself ragged trying to deal with everyone’s problems but your own.”
“I’m the leader,” Green mumbles into the glass. “’s my job.”
“You’re also our friend,” Red says, with fierce vehemence in his voice. Out of the corner of his eye, Green thinks he sees a shadow nod in agreement.
“And you’ll be a more effective leader if you sometimes prioritize yourself,” Vio points out. “Burning yourself out helps no one.”
Blue finishes tying off the bandages and gives Green’s knee a light, playful punch—hardly more than a brush of his knuckles. “Don’t forget we’re here for you, too, you big idiot.”
A smile finds its way onto Green’s face—a wobbly smile, perhaps, but it’s there. He leans against Red a little more, gives Vio a grateful nod, and returns Blue’s punch with a light kick to the shins. “I’ll try to keep that in mind.”