Emotionally worn out and physically exhausted, Cyrus found it easy to admit to himself that the last thing he wanted was to be left alone to his thoughts once more. He hadn’t expected how much it felt like Therion responding to him, something cold and hard in his chest thawing with each renewed reminder that whatever thing existed between them had survived their temporary falling out.
The Frostlands were cold, the type of cold that seeped into his very marrow and left his bones both heavy and hollow, that left his face feeling dry and numb where chilled winds had whipped at it, seeping away the warmth and moisture that kept him alive. But Therion was so pleasantly warm, his hands and his voice and his magic, that unpredictable incredible thing that Cyrus had the great privilege of experiencing. He hadn’t realised how much he’d missed it, eyes closing softly as he imagined their magic twining together, forming an inseparable bond between them.
Hah! As if! Someone like Therion would never want something like that, something to tie him to one person when he so clearly wanted to be free. Not to mention that sort of thing was impossible to begin with. Nothing but a fantasy, a flight of fancy of the highest order.
Still, for all that line of thinking, Therion hadn’t moved away an inch. In fact, if anything, he seemed to have pressed even closer in the gentle quiet between them, his head settling lazily onto Cyrus’ shoulder.
Therion was clearly sleepy as well. For all his earlier comments about his inability to read people, that much seemed obvious to Cyrus, as obvious as if Therion had stated it out loud. He just felt so pliant, as if a heavy burden had been taken from him, his tired heart ready to rest and heal.
Then Therion looked up at him, his pretty white lashes framing soft eyes, and Cyrus almost missed the quiet, “I think I owe you an explanation,” that fell from his lips.
Almost, being the key word. But the sentiment sank in all the same. “Are you sure?” He asked, and Therion bit his lip for a moment before he nodded once. Cyrus swore he could hear his voice even with his mouth closed, out of everyone, I want to tell you the most, and you deserve to know and I don’t know how much longer I can keep it from you all mingling and overlapping in his mind, a flurry of reasons why he had little choice but to open himself and lay out his history between them.
They prepared for bed together first. A companionable silence had settled over them again, both of them far too exhausted to bother with small talk. They didn’t need it anyway, just being near Therion again was doing wonders for Cyrus’ aching heart, until the all-consuming sadness that had gripped him less than a mere hour ago felt lifetimes away.
If anything, he was a little excited. He’d shared a room with Therion before—had done so near every night until their fight had driven Therion away (until he’d driven Therion away so thoughtlessly,)—had even shared a bed, that one strange, charged night in Sunshade, (which he was pointedly not going to think of the specifics of,) but it’d been a while now, and with only one bed in his room there was no question about what their sleeping arrangement would look like.
He settled down first, quick to clamour under the covers and try to reclaim some lingering warmth from the duvet, when Therion had grabbed his coat and pulled it on before climbing his way into the bed as well, swimming in the thick fabric like it was natural, like he’d always been meant to (Cyrus’ heart could barely take it).
At least he had the decency to look sheepish about it, pulling it snug around him and hiding his face away in the oversized collar. But that only made the act that much more endearing, Cyrus’ heart thumping wildly in his chest at the shy smile on his face as he nuzzled blatantly into the coat, like it was the most comforting thing he’d ever worn.
Rather than ruminate on the way such a sight made him feel, Cyrus laid down. He extinguished the bedside lamp beforehand, comforting darkness settling over the room, giving him a blissful reprieve from having to take in the sheer sight of Therion in his bed, in his clothes, so soon after they’d been torn apart that his weak, weary heart could barely take it.
He ought to have been panicking. This was entirely unprecedented, this was too much emotion, this was a level of intimacy he’d never experienced before—never wanted before. But something kept him calm, told him this is so much easier in the dark, and he found that he agreed, that even when his eyes adjusted and he could see Therion painted in greys and navy blues, it wasn’t so bad.
(Oh, he liked him so, so much it hurt.)
He didn’t know what came first, if he opened his arms or if Therion scooted closer to him. Maybe it happened at the same time, their strange synchronicity coming back in bounds and leaps now that they were done fighting, back on the same page once more. Regardless of how, Cyrus soon found himself with his arms full of sleepy Therion, a hand moving on instinct to card through his hair, a hand which he stopped once he realised only for Therion to sigh so softly, pressing into his hand, urging him on again. He only spoke when Cyrus resumed, his movements slow and indulgent.
“I used to be Gareth.”
Ah. Cyrus hummed his understanding, but said nothing else, only stroking his hair to encourage him, soft locks moving like water through his fingers. He could feel how hesitant Therion was, tense under him, discomfort crawling up his arms at the realisation of how vulnerable this whole situation was. But… Cyrus could tell keeping it to himself was eating at him, and he felt quiet pride knowing he was the sole one of their companions trusted with this knowledge.
Therion cleared his throat, voice barely above a whisper, “Darius has… A way with people. He’s big, and loud, and he looks stupid. But he knows people, has since I met him. Knows how stupid and lonely and desperate we can get, how easy it is to manipulate that. Some praise, some affection, a few stray promises, and suddenly you’d lay down your life for him.”
He paused, waiting for Cyrus to say something. But he had no soothing words, only had his touch, brushing Therion’s bangs from his face with gentle fingers. Therion’s next exhale was a little unsteady, his cheeks warm. Cyrus cupped one gently, brushing his thumb under his eyes to brush away non-existent tears.
“We were only kids when we met. He was a bit older, sure, but I thought we were the same. Partners in crime, a pair of kids abandoned by society running around fucking it up. I always thought…” He paused, turning his face to press into Cyrus’ palm, words muffled against his skin as he continued, “Gods, I don’t know what I thought, that we’d strike it rich somewhere and leave the continent altogether, settle down for a normal life with our savings? That he’d make an honest woman of me?” He scoffed, disdain for his own childhood self clear in his voice before it softened, lowered back down, “I never had those grandiose dreams of power and infinite riches, I just wanted to be comfortable.”
“His ambitions were different?” Cyrus asked. Coaxing, gentle. Therion nodded, shuffling even closer to Cyrus, adjusting them until he could lay his head on Cyrus’ shoulder.
“He said I asked too many questions, wanted for too much. I wasn’t a useful thing to keep around anymore. So…” He licked his lips, and Cyrus wondered if Therion was hesitant to say it for his own sake, or for Cyrus’, “he... Disposed of me. I was never meant to survive.”
“Survive what?” He blurted out, speaking before he could stop himself.
Therion, for what it was worth, seemed unbothered as he replied, “the fall,” and Cyrus felt for one brief, stomach lurching moment the sensation of plummeting to the ground, the cliff above him further and further from view.
He hadn’t noticed Therion take his hand in the same moment, didn’t notice until he’d dragged it up the back of his own shirt, fabric bunching up around his wrists as Therion guided him, laying his palm flat against his back. His skin was warm, pulled taut to his spine where scar tissue left it leathery, a long line, a gash perhaps, it didn’t matter, he was warm. Cyrus felt blood rushing in his ears, almost missed entirely the quiet words falling from Therion’s mouth, a soft, “I’m lucky I survived,” and, “these scars are all I have left from then,” and, “dark magic takes me back to how it fel—”
“I’m glad you’re here.”
His words rendered Therion speechless. His mouth agape, Cyrus’ hand still flat on his back, Cyrus could feel him grow warmer in response, felt himself do the same as what he said processed, “what I mean to say is—” the words tumbled out, desperately trying to reign in the raw emotion in what he’d said, “I’m glad you survived, because—” because, because, “you’re my dearest friend, and you make me happy, my life is brighter with you in it,” like a personal star, bringing renewed light to my life, “and I’m so deeply blessed by whatever god felt fit to bring you into my life,” I never knew how lonely I’d been, “and I—I adore (love) you,” with my everything, “so I am truly, deeply glad you’re here.”
Therion’s arms wrapped tight around him, and Cyrus gasped as the air was squeezed out of him, his one hand still trapped under Therion’s shirt, the other trapped beneath his weight. “I’m glad I’m here too,” with you, “Gods, he really hasn’t changed at all though.”
Cyrus scoffed, nose pressing to the side of Therion’s face, “well, you certainly have. I distinctly remember the Therion I met never would have let us get away with half the things we do.”
“The Therion you met hadn’t met you lot yet, Cyrus,” he felt the roll of Therion’s eyes rather than saw it, but he nuzzled closer a moment later anyway, his arms loosening but not at all letting Cyrus go, voice growing quiet and sleepy, “he’d think I was a fool for letting you get this close.”
“Mmm, I’m not terribly surprised. I am one of those batty bookish types, after all.”
Therion’s chest shook with silent laughter, one hand smacking Cyrus’ back lightly, “you be quiet, look who we fought in that town and tell me I was wrong!”
He couldn’t help but smile, hearing Therion rise to his jabs, “oh, so I too will succumb to the dark arts in a mad search for knowledge?”
Therion made a sound of protest, “no. You’re different. Better. Old Therion just had to open his eyes first, then he’d see.”
“See that I’m not batty?” Cyrus joked.
“No, of course not. You’re entirely batty, more than anyone I’ve ever met. But you’re kind and patient too, so we’ll forgive your glaring flaws.”
Cyrus hummed, thoughtful for a moment, “well, I think you’re flawless.”
“No you don’t,” Therion’s response was immediate, eyes peacefully closed. He was beginning to fall asleep.
“…You’re right, I don’t,” Therion scoffed sleepily in response, but Cyrus continued, “however, I’m so endeared to your flaws they might as well be charms anyway.”
“Mmm, flirt.” Therion was smiling, pawing at Cyrus to pull him that little centimetre closer, “goodnight Cyrus.”
He didn’t see any reason not to join him, his own eyes closing with a soft yawn that Therion mirrored back, before the both of them fell easily asleep, safe and warm with less than a hairs width between them.