Guts isn’t that susceptible to the cold, but he gotta say, that night it’s chilly outside.
Not that the rest of the Band seems bothered by it: every night is a good night to celebrate, and frankly, who’s Guts to tell them to stop?
They’ve added another victory to their ever growing list of successes, so they deserve to party a bit.
After spending some time with his team, Guts decides to find his other friends, only to find them around a fire, with some of them huddled for warmth. Two of these friends are Judeau and Casca.
Judeau’s the first one who notices him, and as soon as he does he waves at him, inviting him to join:
- C’mon! There’s enough room for three! -.
- There isn’t -, quickly points out Casca, who’s sharing the blanket with Judeau, before sending Guts a dirty look. Jeez, what’s her deal.
- All this time, and you two still like to play cat and mouse… -, Judeau mutters, - If he freezes to death, it would be a loss for the army and you wouldn’t want that, wouldn’t you? -.
There a long silence coming from Casca, but eventually she sighs.
- Fine -.
If you asked him, Guts would say he’s not intimidated, but again… They’d be close, closer than he’d usually be with anybody.
He knows that these are good people, but at the back of his mind he can feel the fear that something bad is going to happen.
Still, he can’t exactly refuse such an innocent offer, can’t he? And besides, it’s getting very cold very fast, so he wouldn’t mind some cover.
A small sigh escapes his mind as he gets closer to the others. He can do it.
Somehow the sheet manages to cover all three of them, even though part of Guts legs stick out. Well, it’s not too bad; he can deal with this.
- So, how are you holding up? -, Judeau asks, as jovial as always. How he manages that will always be a mystery to Guts.
- I’m good -, he mutters, - How about you? -.
- As good as always -, Judeau replies, doing the “ok” sign with his hand, while Casca grumbles something that Guts believes is supposed to be a “fine”.
Soon silence fills the air, and Guts doesn’t know what to do.
He tries his best to stay as still as possible, as he feels like, whatever movement he makes, he’ll get everybody’s attention and things are already awkward as they are that he doesn’t want to make them worse.
Even though Guts has opened up considerably since he joined the Band, he’s still pretty bad at this. He can’t help but to be a bit disappointed in himself, but these are his friends and comrades – even Casca – and yet he still can’t manage to convey that.
He supposes there isn’t much he can do about it: he was raised in a harsh environment where opening up meant exposing yourself in a way that would’ve only hurt, and Guts isn’t about repeating those experiences again, even though he knows – he’s sure of it – that these people are different, that they wouldn’t treat him like they used to.
He can’t help it.
He has to guard himself at least a little bit, and that means being a poor conversations maker.
Thankfully, like many other times, Judeau comes to the rescue.
- Hey, did I ever tell you about my time with the circus? -.
- You were in a circus? -, Guts asks.
Now this is interesting: there’s an unspoken rule about not asking a fellow mercenary about their past – it’s common courtesy – because, more or less, everybody has something to hide, or a job they’re not particularly proud of. It doesn’t happen often that a mercenary voluntarily talks about their past.
Also, a circus? Now Guts is really curious.
He hears Casca groan with the air of someone who has already heard the tale.
- Again? -, she mutters, and Guts is sure she must’ve heard this story many times.
Judeau turns to her with an apologetic look on his face.
- I’m sorry, it’s just… I couldn’t stand the silence -.
- It’s fine, I was kidding -, she replies, though to Guts it didn’t seem like she was, - Go on, I wanna hear it again -.
- Ok -, Judeau replies, getting visibly excited, - To make it up to you, I’ll try to find some anecdote that I haven’t talked about yet -.
Guts leans closer, wordlessly expressing his curiosity. He really wants to see where this will go.
- Mmh… Where should I start? -.
- How did you manage to fall from that height and only break your arm? -, Casca asks, unconvinced.
- I got lucky -, Judeau shrugs.
- Nah, that’s impossible. You should’ve been dead -.
- And yet here I am -.
- Then it wasn’t from that height, I refuse to believe it! Guts, what do you think? -, Casca says then, and both she and Judeau turn towards him, only to find that there’s something wrong with him.
Did he… oh god, he did.
Guts has fallen asleep.
After a moment of disbelief, Judeau bursts into laughter, while Casca keeps looking at the other in shock.
- When do you think he fell asleep? -, Judeau asks then, - When I was talking about the fairy or about the knife trick I had to do? -.
To be honest, he should be offended that Guts has fallen asleep while he was talking, especially if it was while he was explained the knife trick he had to do once during a show – it was a very difficult thing to do and he could’ve seriously hurt himself – but… but it’s just so funny. Besides, the big guy must be tired after that day’s battle; as always, he carried them to victory as much as Griffith did, so Judeau’s going to cut him some slack for falling asleep like that.
This sentiment, apparently, isn’t shared with Casca however, who turns away from him with an offended expression, puffing her cheeks in a way that makes her look far younger than she is – and let’s be fair, they’re all pretty young here.
- Idiot -, she mutters, though Judeau senses a hint of something different from annoyance in her voice, and maybe he knows that it is because he’s feeling it too.
- It’s weirdly cute, isn’t it? -, he says in fact, and at that Casca turns towards him immediately.
- It’s not! -, she quickly denies it, but Judeau’s certain she’s lying.
- C’mon -, he says, with a smirk on his face, - You can admit it -.
- I… -.
Casca’s hesitating, which means that Judeau is right.
It hurts a bit: no matter where her gaze goes, it never seems to land on him.
He’s been stuck with this sense of longing since he became part of the Band, but something has changed: since Guts’ arrival, Casca’s attention has slowly turned towards him, but instead of being jealous of this, Judeau… Judeau understands her.
There’s something about Guts that draws people to him, and Judeau is no exception. Let’s also not gloss over the fact that he’s hot, because he is, but that’s not all.
He’s simple and extremely complicated at the same time; there’s something about him that puts him in a very different position than all of them. Even though he doesn’t isolate himself like he used to do once, it’s like there’s a wall around him that, no matter how many bricks they remove, will never be completely gone.
It may seem cynic to say something like this about someone who clearly has a past of great suffering, but it’s fascinating. What gets him more than anything, is how Guts is still here: he always manages to push through anything through sheer force of will.
It must be this what draws people to him.
It’s when he feels the weight of something pressing against him that he snaps back to reality.
Ah, Casca has fallen asleep as well.
How long has Judeau been lost in his thoughts? Must’ve been a while, or else she’d be still awake.
He finds himself in a curious position now: on one hand, he has the woman he’s been in love for a long time, on the other, he has the man that has recently caught his interest.
Judeau likes to consider himself a pretty easy-going person, but even he has limits; he’s just a man after all. This situation is getting to him more than it should, and he can’t help but to feel a certain nervousness by being surrounded by the people he likes so much.
He can observe them with a closeness that he’ll never get again, but he would lie if he said that he doesn’t feel at least a tiny bit guilty about it: it feels like he’s invading their privacy.
And yet, he can’t help but to sneak a few peeks. It’s not something that bad, isn’t it?
He could walk away. Actually, wouldn’t it be funny if he did that?
Imagine Casca and Guts waking up and finding themselves so close to each other. It would be hilarious.
There’s a problem in this great plan of his, however: if he moves, they would certainly wake up immediately, and Judeau has a feeling that, being awoken so suddenly, their flight or fight instinct might kick in and, considering their usual behaviour, he’s pretty sure they’d go with fight.
These are just mere speculations, but Judeau really doesn’t want to risk getting punched in the face by both of them, so for now he just stays there, existing.
Maybe getting some sleep could help: sure, they’ll all be cranky in the morning, but at least they’ll be rested.
Yes, that sounds like a good idea. At least time will pass faster like this.
Except… sleep doesn’t come.
No matter how hard Judeau tries, he’s still awake and there’s nothing he can do about it.
He could try that meditation technique he learned at the circus, but even that’s too hard for him: he can’t concentrate, not with the people around him.
Eventually he’ll be too tired to stay awake and sleep will come, but what can he do in the meantime, besides hoping that the moment comes soon?
He really did put himself in quite a pickle.
- Damn, Judeau, you look horrible! Did you even sleep? -.
- … -.
- Oh, let me guess! Did you find a pretty little thing to… -.
- I’ll throw a knife at you if you don’t shut up, Corkus -.
- Jeez, someone’s touchy today… -.
He can’t feel his face, he can barely move his body and he doesn’t even know how he’s managing to keep his eyes open.
This is going to be a long day.
Despite the feeling that his body is dying on him, as he remembers the previous night’s warmth, the sensation of Casca and Guts asleep beside him, he can’t but to think of something: it was completely worth it.