#19 is MADE for nurseydex
#19 from this prompt list
Not that Dex is complaining, but the complete radio silence from Nursey all summer doesn’t exactly bode well for their new living arrangements come fall.
To be fair, it’s not like Dex reaches out to him either. But the fact that Nursey’s instagram goes quiet, and he hasn’t even poked his head into the group chat since May, is… suspicious.
Not worrying. Of course Dex isn’t actually concerned about the guy. It’s just weird is all. It’s just… un-Nursey-like.
But Dex refuses to ask Chowder or anyone else on the team about it, because Dex doesn’t care. Just because they have to be roommates now as well as defense partners doesn’t mean he’s going to fall into the trap of caring about Nursey.
And it is a trap. Because Dex knows, he just knows, that once he falls into it, it would be far too easy to keep falling.
All the same, he releases a breath he didn’t realize he was holding when he reaches their shared room for the first time since getting back to Samwell and there Derek Nurse is, safe and sound and still just as unfairly beautiful as ever.
It’s a genuine struggle not to let his expression advertise his relief, but Dex puts up a good show. “Oh. You’re still alive.“ His usual dry monotone saves him.
Nursey doesn’t even look up from the book he’s skimming, sitting in the middle of the floor and surrounded by open boxes of more books. “Don’t sound so disappointed. I might think you don’t like me.“ The sarcasm drips, ugly and biting, and it’s entirely Dex’s fault that it’s there.
He needs to fix this.
“I don’t… not like you,” Dex hedges, cringing at his own awkwardness.
Nursey does lift his head up at that, raising a single disbelieving eyebrow along with it. “Coulda fooled me, bro.”
Dex draws in a deep, fortifying breath. He’s been mentally preparing himself for this moment all summer, but apologies have never come easy to him.
This is important, though. He knows it is. His own discomfort be damned.
“Listen, I should– I mean.” He runs a hand through his hair. “I’m sorry about how I acted at the end of last year. I should have said so as soon as it happened, but I got in my head about it and it took awhile for me to even realize how things might look from the outside. How– how you might interpret it.”
“What’s to interpret? You can’t stand me and vice versa. Your little meltdown was just one more reminder of that fact.”
“Poindexter, it’s chill. I don’t care.” Except that he kinda looks like he does, underneath the cool mask and the carefully even tone of voice.
Which probably means that Dex isn’t doing this right, so he takes in another deep breath and tries again. “I am sorry, though. I don’t actually hate you. You’re my teammate. More than that, you’re my defense partner, and now my roommate, and I don’t want you to feel like you’ve been paired up with someone who would knowingly try to hurt you. That’s decidedly not ‘chill,’ alright? So, I’m sorry.”
Alright, so maybe Dex does care about Derek Nurse. A little. A very little, miniscule amount hardly worth mentioning.
Lying to himself about this is basically the only thing keeping the feeling from getting out of control.
Nursey studies him with narrowed eyes for a long moment, while Dex feels particularly exposed just standing there and suddenly not knowing what to do with his hands.
“Yeah. Alright,” Nursey finally says. It’s spoken warily, still half-disbelieving, but better than an outright dismissal, so Dex will take it.
Only, well, Nursey still doesn’t look happy about the situation. He’s still holding his shoulders a little too tensely, the way he started doing last year after the dibs flip whenever he had to share space with Dex.
Dex swallows. “I was a dick, and you didn’t deserve it. I get that now.”
“Whatever. You’ve done your duty, Dexy. Apology fucking accepted. You can unclench now.”
“Okay. It’s just. Me being an asshole, that’s not… Um. That’s not why you’ve been MIA, is it?”
Nursey rolls his eyes. “Don’t flatter yourself. I lost my phone and figured it was a good excuse for a social media break.”
“I skyped with C on my laptop all the time. Did he never mention it?”
Nursey snorts. “Whatever. Like you care. I bet you didn’t even notice I was incommunicado until you suddenly remembered you had to come back and share a room with me.”
But Dex did notice. He’s been doing nothing but noticing for the last couple months. All the while trying to convince himself that he’s not actually worried, even as he has to talk himself out of explicitly asking Chowder about Nursey several times a day.
God, his caring is apparently already out of control, isn’t it? His attempts to pretend he still hates Nursey are just delaying the inevitable.
He’s already falling. Has been for longer than he wants to think about. And he’s going to keep falling no matter what lies he tells himself, or what token protests he puts up.
Dex sighs heavily, and goes to sit on the floor beside Nursey. “I care,” he says. “I know I’m bad at showing it, but I do care.”
Nursey’s eyes widen as he regards Dex like he’s never seen him before. “Okay, who are you and what have you done with the emotionally stunted ginger I love to torment?”
“Still ginger, still emotionally stunted.” Dex shrugs, and bites back a smile. “But I’m willing to work on at least one of those.”
This startles a laugh out of Nursey that forces Dex’s smile to finally reveal itself. He can feel cheeks start to heat with a blush at just how happy hearing that laughter makes him, though he doesn’t want to dwell on why. Maybe down the road he’ll analyze the fact that his heart rate speeds up the moment Nursey locks his shining hazel eyes on Dex’s, but not yet.
“Alright, man, I like the sound of that. You wanna get started on this new chapter of your personal development by helping me unpack?”
“Sure,” Dex nods and reaches for a box of books. “But I’m arranging them alphabetically by author, not by color scheme.”
Nursey huffs, but he looks amused more than anything. Possibly even a little fond. “You are the youngest grumpy old man I have ever met, Poindexter.”
“You shoulda seen me as a seven-year-old.”
Nursey laughs again, his amusement filling the room like sunshine that Dex wants to bask in all day long. Dex’s blush goes all the darker at being the cause of it. But he keeps his eyes on the books he’s sorting and he powers through by focusing on titles and author names and not on the way Nursey shifts a little closer to help him, pressed together now shoulder to shoulder.
They continue unpacking in companionable silence, their bodies moving around each other like they’ve been caught in the other’s orbit, never getting very far away before being pulled right back. They’ve been doing this dance for years, but Dex has always fought against it, has always pulled away or thrown up defenses, telling himself the entire time that he doesn’t want or deserve to fall into the oh so appealing trap of loving and caring about Derek Nurse.
This time, he doesn’t pull away. This time, he lets himself fall.
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prepare to live again
So much to do today:
kill memory, kill pain,
turn heart into a stone,
and yet prepare to live again.
In her teenage years, Luna had a rare row with Gentiana. Although it wasn’t quite accurate to call it a row; Luna had yelled, and the Goddess had listened. The Goddess always listened.
She was frustrated with the constant invasions of her privacy, a fifteen-year-old girl living under the Empire’s thumb. Ravus treated her like a child, full of scorn and ugly sarcasm when he was home. Her tutors were cold and demanding, and threatened to beat her if they caught her praying. The MTs stared at her constantly, their heads turning to follow her if she so much as crossed the room. When she and Ravus fought, they pointed their weapons at her when she raised her voice, no matter how often he ordered them not to. She was tired of it all.
Gentiana smiled sympathetically, eyes peacefully closed. She promised to come only when Luna called her: “But say Our name,” she said, soothing and soft, “and We shall be with you. Will this ease the girl’s troubled heart?”
“Yes,” Luna said, and felt the MTs staring, and really meant no. She wished her mother was there. She would have understood.
Luna summons Leviathan prepared to die, but she does not. A year-and-a-half after she closed her eyes for what she thought was the final time, she awakens to a dying world. Her first thought is what did I do wrong?
When she is coherent enough to recognize her surroundings and has breath enough to speak and strength to sit, she calls for Gentiana. Even before Ravus, she calls for Gentiana. But Gentiana does not head her call. Ravus does -- yanked away from some mission, disbelieving the sight before his eyes -- and Pryna and Umbra have been at her side all along. An assortment of nurses have tended her through her long sleep, and people have sent her tokens and letters from around there. But there is nothing from Gentiana.
The dogs whine and tilt their heads when she asks where the Goddess is. Divine though they may be, they are still dogs, and some things are beyond them.
Ravus, who wept when he saw her and held her for hours, is clearly frustrated by her questions about the Astrals. He would clearly prefer that she forget all about them, or even learn to hate them as he does. But he can’t bring himself to wound or deny her in any way. After putting her off for as long as he can, he gives in and shares the photos that he has collected of Gentiana -- most of them sent to him by Prompto, or a handful of others who know what to look for.
“I did not tell them to,” Ravus says, crisp and annoyed. “They assumed I would want to know. I didn’t. I don’t.” He scowls.
“Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much," Luna murmured. He turned his glare on her, but there was no heat behind it. He had kept the photos, after all.
They are surprisingly numerous. The Goddess appears as she always has, overlooked in the background, beautifully garbed and deceptively serene, even as her surroundings grow darker and more chaotic. The most recent is just a week or so old.
Luna has been awake for nearly a month. Bitter, she puts that photo aside.
One was clipped by Ravus’ own hand. It’s from what passes for a newspaper in this blighted world, a handful of papers with rushed stories and black-and-white photos, stapled together and passed from hand to hand, outpost to outpost, till they traveled around the world. It shows a riot in Lestallum in the first few months after the night began. On one side, a blurry Gentiana -- a ‘well-dressed woman’ according to the caption -- stands over a frightened family, one arm casually raised, catching a blow from a greatsword larger than her entire body. Where the metal edge touches her arm, a soft glow emits, and there is no sign of blood or injury.
Across the street, another huddled family is being mowed down by a man with a gun. The photo, a rare color snapshot, captured the bloom of their blood, their desperate scramble to shield one another, but not the carnage of their death. For a small mercy. Luna supposed it wouldn’t have been published otherwise.
Luna stares at the photo until her vision blurs. Why did you make that choice? she asks her old friend. Why save this family and not that one? Why not everyone? Is it all just random to you? Why do you do any of it at all?
And still the Goddess does not reply.
Ignis writes her a letter, asking about the vision she passed to him through Pryna. Luna holds the note and wonders if that was where she went wrong. She caught a glimpse of the future, and pushed through from the other side to pass it along to the first soul she recognized.
A bit of unplanned defiance. She was always prepared to die, but she hadn’t realized that Noctis would be required to sacrifice himself as well. It had staggered her, the sight of it, horror ringing like a bell. He was so young, so handsome, so beloved -- he deserved to live, surely he deserved to live. She had reacted instinctively, in full defiance of the Astrals.
Only the Oracle was permitted the prophecies, the visions, the voices of the gods. And yet they had lied even to her, about this most important of truths. About the destination of the path she had set Noctis upon.
Is this why you’re avoiding me, Gentiana? she wonders darkly. Are you too ashamed to look me in the eye?
Noctis is far away, locked in crystal, but he isn’t dead yet. And for some reason, neither is she.
From the day she awoke, flowers began arriving. Like the newspapers, they travel from outpost to outpost, charting a circuitous route to the humble ruins of Fenestala Manor. Ravus reads the cards with her, sharing anecdotes and observations about the ruined world.
“It can’t be that bad, if there are still flowers blooming,” Luna says, burying her nose in the blossoms.
Ravus shrugs, one-shouldered, and changes the subject.
“Oh, no, milady,” her young nurse says, when Luna asks later if they can visit where the flowers are growing. “None of them survived. These blooms come from the greenhouses used for food -- even in Lestallum, the most crowded greenhouses have a few sylleblossoms growing. For you.” She curtsies.
She means it kindly. Luna, horrified, stammers out her thanks, and retreats to the safe world beneath her blankets.
Why does she live, when so many have perished? How dare she accept these gifts -- they might as well be food snatched from starving children. How many fruits or vegetables could have been grown in their place? How dare she live, when others have died, when Noctis is imprisoned in stone? Why is she not dead yet?
She cries and cries, turning away food, unnerving her nurses. She never notices that -- in her presence -- the flowers do not wither, as if nurtured by some secret light.
Her recovery falters. She is too weak and listless to finish the exercises the doctors give her. She passes out, falling into a seizure, and a panicked Ravus is rushed to her side.
He flounders and fumbles in the presence of her deathly, bitter rage. She wonders aloud if she should be left to die -- if that would help bring the dawn back -- and he weeps again. Shocked and quiet, like a scolded child, she apologizes, but can’t find the strength or insight to make things right.
Ravus leaves, but ensures that someone stays with her, as if he worries that she will hurt herself. If only she could summon the energy, she might.
He returns quickly, still issuing orders to their band of loyal hunters. Luna lets herself be loaded into a wheelchair, and then a truck, and asks no questions. Everyone avoids her eyes.
They make a journey to the former sylleblossom fields, now full of desiccated, rotting husks. The smell is horrendous. They disembark, and halfway to their destination, Luna realizes she knows where they are going. Something in her expression must give her away: “Demons avoid the area,” Ravus explains. “The fading magic from Oracle’s tombs creates a haven of sorts. But it’s weak. We haven’t much time."
The hunters escorting them glare into the darkness watchfully. Luna’s wheelchair rolls and bumps along, rattling her from side to side like a pile of bones. She thinks she might fall to the earth and starve to death alongside the sylleblossoms’ remains. Surely even that monstrous fate that would be kinder that this pointless lingering.
Their mother’s beautiful resting place is desolate and dying now, washed in endless greenish darkness. Like everything else. Luna’s stoicism fades at the sight of the dying trees, and she is already weeping when they reach the monument.
She sinks to her knees before the grave without prompting, and Ravus kneels at her side. She is crying too hard to speak, so he recites the prayer for peace and rest, a duty that had always fallen to her before. She hadn’t realized he knew the words.
For a moment of silence, Luna sits with her hands clasped, head bowed. For once, she asks not for divine truth or grand understanding, but simple mortal facts. Did you know? she asks her mother. Did you know I was supposed to die? Did you know about Noctis? Did you accept it all? And then, weeping again, how could you let this happen? Why aren’t you here? Why did you die and leave me here? And then, a secret she’s kept even from herself: I thought I would see you again. I thought I would be done. I would die and everything would be made right -- everyone would be saved -- Ravus would be healed and Noctis would think of me fondly, close our journal, and step into the sun, and no one would miss me at all--
Her tears have run out, finally, leaving her empty and cold. What do I do now? she asks, pitiful and small, just like a child. Why am I not dead yet? I was never supposed to live this long. What do I do now?
The dead do not answer her -- they never have -- and for once, neither do the gods. For the first time in her life, Luna is like everyone else, screaming her questions into the void and receiving nothing in return. But then a breeze touches her face, cold, sweet, and clean like the air in the high mountains, and Luna knows she is not alone.
She turns, but Gentiana is already gone.
Is there a message in this? Luna has spent her life parsing the messages of the gods, sometimes aloud to the Goddess, who hummed supportively when Luna was on the right track. So what is this supposed to mean, if anything? That her questions and prayers are heard, but ignored? Or is it just Gentiana, making a personal statement? Is such a thing even permitted?
What must they look like, to the gods, in their agony and their passion? Aimless children, or something more? Something growing?
Something in her lightens. Perhaps it simply means that she hasn’t been abandoned. That she isn’t here by mistake. That there is something she can still do.
Perhaps it means that there is someone she can still save.
Situated again in her room, Luna forces herself to eat the prepared meal, and completes her prescribed exercises. Ravus praises her awkwardly, but sincerely, and rests his hand on her head before departing on another mission into the darkness.
Luna finds vases for her flowers, arranges them. She ties a ribbon around the photos of Gentiana and tucks them away. She imagines pressing a kiss to the Goddess’ forehead as the Goddess once did for her.
She takes out the letter from Ignis, and begins to write her reply.
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