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Soldier sits on the mansion’s living room couch. The Eyelander sits on the loveseat across from him, nestled comfortably on a blanket Mrs. DeGroot crocheted for them. Soldier narrows his eyes. The Eyelander doesn’t move.

Soldier says, “it is an obvious fact that we cannot go on like this. So obvious I will save us the trouble of even pointing it out!”

The Eyelander says nothing.

“You play hardball, maggot, I’ll give you that.” Soldier nods sagely. “But Tavish is more important than either of us, and it would hurt him too much to have to choose between his two Best Friends. One of us has to step down. I volunteer you, on the count of not being a human and instead just being a stupid sword.”

The Eyelander continues to sit because it is, as stated, a sword.

“The silent treatment will not work on me!” Soldier roars, getting to his feet. “I will simply fill in the words you’re not saying with even more of my words, so take that you damn hunk of metal! I have bested my own mother at the quiet game, both before and after she died, so if you think you can defeat me-”

“Oi! What’s all the shouting in here? Mum says you’re going to deflate the pastries if you keep it up.”

Soldier stops, looming over a stationary Eyelander who, by their nature, still looks completely unperturbed. Demo is standing in the kitchen doorway, an eyebrow raised, a dot of flower on his nose that somehow makes him look adorable rather than silly. Quashing his frustration, Soldier lowers his fist, knowing that shaking it about won’t go any better than the last dozen times he’s fallen into that trap.

“We were just…” he says, “having a spirited conversation.”

Demo blinks, noticing Eyelander for the first time. “Oh! Well that’s nice. Glad you lads are finally getting along.”

He pauses, in the gut-sinking way Soldier has come to recognize as when he’s listening to Eyelander through their spirit-bond.

“Ach, that’s just how he is when he’s being friendly,” Demo says to whatever Eyelander’s told him. “Now what do you say we go out while those bridies are cooking?” He lifts Eyelander up, retrieving its scabbard (also with its own Mrs. DeGroot made sheath-cozy) and slinging it onto his back.

“Uh,” Soldier swallows as Demo slides the sword in place. “What did they say?”

“Ach, nothing. Going on that you were being ‘weird’. But I know you, and I like your brand of weird.”

Something like that…well it puts a warmth from Soldier’s gut all the way to his toes, and he finds himself smiling. The moment of joy is dashed, however, as it always is when he remembers that that damn claymore is still there, listening in on every word. Sharing every moment that should be private between two men who are Best Friends.

Even as Soldier thinks it, Demo laughs quietly at something Eyelander says.

“What uh, what is it?” he asks, a pathetic attempt to be included.

“Oh nothin’, not even funny anyway,” Demo laughs, wiping a tear from his eye. “Anyway, let's get a move on then, aye? I can drive.”

It’s not fair , Soldier thinks as he gets in the passenger seat of Demo’s Pinto. Soldier was here first. He and Demo were sharing relationship-forging experiences and making lifelong-bonds well before he picked up that haunted sword, and now Soldier is just supposed to let this parasitic little ghost worm its way into their friendship? Sure there was that rough patch in the middle where they weren’t really friends but more-kinda-motral-enemies, but that was partly the Eyelander’s fault anyway! It shouldn’t matter how much bonding they and Demo have done, especially not when most of it was spent separating Soldier’s neck from his shoulders.

“Dessert?” Soldier asks when Demo calls for a stop at a churros stand. “Isn’t your mother making dessert back at the mansion?”

“Bridies are a savory pasty,” Demo explains. “Besides, Eyelander really only has one weakness. This is sort of the only time our spirit-line isn’t filled with constant bellyaching.”

“What’s it like?” The question slips out before Soldier can stop it. Does he actually want to know? “The…spirit-line.”

Demo stops, churro sugar and a dawning look of thoughtfulness on his face. “It’s like…eating for two. Wait no, nae like that. It’s like…you don’t know you want something, or how badly you need it, but when you actually take a bite it all connects . A glass of water when you haven’t realized you’re thirsty. Cracking your back and having everything moving right again. And it’s even better when we’re fighting; there’s a comfort there that not even the best training can give you. There’s someone else there in your arms, in your legs, gently nudging you along until you deflect a blow just right and everything sings.” Demo sighs in wonder. “It’s…Magic.”

“Oh,” Soldier says. “That’s nice.”

It’s hopeless, isn’t it? Soldier can’t but mope as they wander back to the car; he’s losing his best friend to a ghost, and there’s nothing he can do about it. If he had the opportunity of course he would do all those things for Demo, breathing his same air, sharing their lives together. Why does Demo prefer Eyelander so much? What does that sword have that Soldier doesn’t?

Right before they’re about to re-enter the mansion, Soldier freezes, realizing Demo’s already told him the answer.


Merasmus’s skin care routine is thirty-seven steps, and thirty-seven steps exactly. It is the one thing he refuses to let his roommate ruin, and thus he has placed an innumerable number of wards around the bathroom, double and triple checking before finally allowing himself to relax. He has been soaking in the tub for eleven minutes, painting the sixth of his eight remaining toenails, when Soldier bursts through the locked door.

“Hi Merasmus Need To Borrow This Promise To Pay You Back!”

He says this as he rummages through Merasmus’s undersink cabinets, carelessly throwing aside his multitudes of Lush bath bombs (and a few regular bombs because the Bombinomicon is the worst ) before pulling out a magic kit Merasmus hasn’t seen in years.

“Goodbye Merasmus Love You See You Tonight!” And he’s off again.

“SOLDIER! YOU-” Mesasmus barely gets the words out before he slips while getting out of the tub. And because he is an old, old man, he falls and immediately breaks his neck.

Later, when his spirit is floating over the still-sudsy bathwater, he wonders how he’s going to get back into his body this time. And no one’s going to bother doing the last eleven steps on a corpse. This day can truly not get any worse.

“Alright, alright lad,” Demo chuckles. “Are you finally going to tell me what all the footer is about?”

“No maggot, I am going to show you. Sit!”

Demo puts his hands up and grins. It would send butterflies through Soldier’s stomach, but then he starts futzing around and setting up Eyelander on a second chair and all the relish goes out of it.

Attention privates,” Soldier tries vainly.

Demo stops fussing and puts his hands politely on his lap. His face is very obviously trying to contain a grin. “I see some fancy hats, some cards…you finally taking me up on my offer to teach you poker?”

“Neg-a-tory! I am about to unravel your minds with something far more daring than some commie game . Behold! Magic .” He sweeps his hand, displaying the various items he’s looted from Merasmus’s castle. From the pile he picks up a bouquet of flowers, and hands it to Demo. “For the handsome gentleman up front!”

The bemused expression tugging at Demo’s cheeks only widens, and he reaches out a hand. However, as soon as his fingers brush over Soldiers, the flowers—which are supposed to explode into confetti when Soldier says the magic words—instead explode into skeleton spiders.

Not like the exoskeletons of spiders, but tiny joints and bones in spider shapes, and they all go crawling down Demo’s arm.

“Aaaahrraaah!” he yelps as he goes falling backwards, thankfully caught by the sturdy loveseat.

“Uh! That is not meant to happen! Here let me-” He rushes for the deck of cards and thrusts them towards Demo’s face. “Pick one! Any one! Literally any one!”

“Jane I don’t-” Demo says, still shaking.

Which is probably for the best because every card in Soldier’s hand suddenly transforms into a large bat.

“GRRRNYAAAG!” Soldier hollers as the newly formed creatures flap in confusion around the living room’s ceiling. “What is WRONG with that wizard?”

“Wizard?” Demo raises a brow, one hand over his heart, trying to keep it from jumping out of his chest. “You didn’t go taking magic lessons from Merasmus, did you?”

“I had to Tavish! It was the only way I was ever going to learn! I know I- I’m trouble sometimes, and I can’t compete with a magic weapon that shares your innermost thoughts and makes you laugh and sings with two hearts beating as one-”


“But just give me one more chance!” Soldier runs back behind his table, and shoves the battered old top hat until it’s sitting up straight. “Behold!”

He grabs the nearby wand, and gives it a tap.

Something furry appears over the top hat’s lip, and Soldier breaths a sigh of relief. The respite is short lived however; for it’s not ear s that are poking out of the hat, but an ear, absolutely massive in a way that in no conceivable way could extradite itself from the opening. It does. And then it is followed by a second ear, and then a head, and within seconds a three ton rabbit falls onto the carpet with a SLAM . It takes up nearly the whole living room, hind legs kicking over the TV, horrific teeth looking like they’d very much like to swallow down a baby elephant and then a refrigerator for dessert.

Demo stands, Soldier gapes, but before either of them can do anything the rabbit is off, bounding down the hall and displacing at least one priceless DeGroot heirloom tacked to the wall.

“Jane…” Demo starts.

Soldier drops onto the couch in defeat.

“Don’t even say it. I know. No wonder you…you like that sword better than me. You win.” This last statement he tells Eyelander, who has fallen slightly to the left due to all the abnormal leporidae activity. “I’ll go pack my things…”

“Jane you don’t even have things to pack.” Demo holds him lightly by the shoulders as he tries to move past. “C’mon, stop ‘n tell me what this is all about.”

All he wants is to go home. There, he’ll probably have his rank stripped for his monumental failure of command. “…I couldn’t keep going on like that. Competing for your attention. I figured this was the only way I could get one up on that stupid thing.”

That’s why you set a bunch of affronts to god loose in me home? Because you were jealous of Eyelander?”

Soldier droops. “Yes. I wanted to impress you.”

“And to do that you picked magic ? The thing that’s left me blind in one eye since the age of seven?”

“Oh.” Soldier thinks for a second. “Yeah I really didn’t think this one through.” He rubs his face. “I’m sorry Tav, for everything. It was just so hard hearing you talk about your incredible bond all the time and I…” Soldier lifts his head. “…I just want to be the one you care about.”

Demo’s expression, a mask of confusion, concern, and maybe a little bit of fear (that rabbit is still out there), softens until his brow knits together. He moves his hands from Soldier’s shoulders to the sides of his face. “Oh Janey…you never have to worry about that.”

“How couldn’t I?” Soldier says glumly. “I can never know you the way they do.”

“Because they’re my bloody sword you numpty.” But Demo’s smiling now. “And I don’t like you the way I like Eyelander.”

“You don’t like me?”

“That is not -” He grips Soldier’s face, and presses their lips together, “-what I said.”

The kiss, startlingly begun and startlingly over, elicits only one reaction from the Soldier. “… Oh .”

“I didn’t say anything because I didn’t realize you felt the same way.” Demo rubs the back of his neck, but grins while he does it. “Not that Eyelander didn’t tease me for acting like a lovestruck idiot.”

At the mention, Soldier stiffens. “You!” he points a finger at the claymore. “You have been playing me this whole time!”

There is a moment of thoughtful contemplation, a few nods from Demo, before he turns to Soldier and says, “Eyelander says ‘no shit’.”

And, as Soldier’s world is finally coming into a sharp new understanding, when all seems right and swords are trusty weapons and best friends are Best Friends, a hollering from the garden startles them all. It is the distinctive voice of Mrs. DeGroot, warning that so much as touching her rhubarb plants will result in an untimely demise. The threat is followed by the thwap of cane on fur.

Demo asks, “what say we go help Mum with your ill-advised foray into wizardry?”

“I resent that accusation! As if I would ever be caught dead in such hideous and pointed headwear!”

Demo laughs, grabs Eyelander, and the three of them head toward the garden to do battle with the world’s most confused hare.