Participants:

Cenn_icon.gif Garou_icon.gif

Scene Title One Last Hope
Synopsis Garou finds himself in need of help that Cenn… cannot provide.
Location Kirkwall Circle
Date Wintermarch 06, 9:32 Dragon
Watch For The Elephant in the Room
Logger Garou

This Winter had proved to be long and dark. Bitter cold had finally seen Cenn using his fireplace with some regularity, if only to dry his cloak every time he came in from patrol. At least the snow hadn't lost its magic for him, but that's about all the season has going for it. Otherwise, it's just dark so early, it makes everyone sleepy, but in a place like the Gallows, where from one breath to the next people were afraid to move, sometimes it only seemed like another layer of oppression. Tonight, though, Cenn's curled himself up by his fire with a cup of wine he mulled himself and his hand idly turning over the pendant hanging from his neck.

Before this winter, Garou had never experienced the anger-fear of his own body so absolutely betraying him. He's needed to see Cenn for days now, but the opportunity never arose when his best friend was around and those times there was a chance, he always managed to put it off with Valentin's 'stay the fuck in bed you maddening man' rule. It wasn't exactly something he wanted to talk about at any rate. But his fever had been climbing, his lungs - despite all Valentin's care and attention - would fill with fluid almost overnight. His joints were inflamed to the point of near-paralysis and his heart regularly lost all sense of rhythm. Nausea was a constant companion and it's been a week since he could take any nourishment at all, even with Valentin's method. It hadn't been fun, but he'd been soldiering through. Until this morning, when he'd felt his heart stutter and stop outright before kicking back into gear a moment later with a throb so painful it had brought tears to his eyes, when he knew he couldn't put this off any longer. Sadly, he'd also waited until his body was in a place where moving beyond his bed just was not going to happen. So when Cenn's quiet evening is interrupted, it's not a knock but rather a series of scratches against the wood - right about at a person's hand height, but not the appropriate sound at all.

That is not a sound he is expecting at all, and at first, though he would never admit as much, it makes him jump. With a sharp intake of breath, Cenn sets his cup aside and stands. Reflex has him pick up his blade on his way to the door, but halfway there his mind catches up with his instincts and he pieces together the most likely culprit. So when he opens the door, he's not really terribly surprised to see Tytos. Nevertheless, Cenn does stand there staring down at the cat for a moment. "Bored?" He asks, stepping aside to let the lionette in if he wants. It wouldn't be the first time Tytos has come to just be doing something other than sitting in Rou's room.

Look, there is no question that Tytos loves his dads. Those are his people and he will be responsible for them one day. But something's been eating at Clanky Dad from the inside and Sparkly Dad has been trying to fix it, so there's only so much there to occupy the mind of a growing lionette at any given moment. So yeah, he's occasionally guilty of trotting on down to the Hound's den for something to do. No shame. But this time he doesn't come prancing in like he owns the place (and let's be honest, it definitely falls within the bounds of his territory), instead sitting back on his haunches and making a couple awkward adolescent bleating noises. You know. Because obviously Cenn speaks Lion.

Cenn has been perfectly happy for the company. Between pulling double patrols both to help cover Rou's absence and keep his mind busy, and the fact that the Winter has made the crossing into the city proper a little bit of a trial, he wasn't one to complain about Tytos being about. And while Cenn may be a retriever, betting on him speaking Lion isn't the worst gamble in the world. After all, he managed talking to Rou alright, and there had been times where Tytos didn't just want to sit around, either. So settling his blade on his hip, he nods once to the lionette. "Alright, Tytos, where are we off to?" And he's stepping out of his room, pulling the door closed behind him.

Oh thank goodness. Honestly some two-leggers were just unsalvageable, but Cenn gets a very affectionate lionette winding around his legs and chirping at him in that hoarse, teenage way he has now - high praise for anyone who isn't a Dad - before he bounds a few strides ahead and pauses to look back and make sure the Hound is still following. It's like this the whole way across the courtyard (though there is a moment when it looks like the cub might end up distracted by banks of snow to plunge into) and down the hall past the library… all the way to a very familiar door, in fact.

Tytos winding about his legs gets Cenn to laugh a little, but then he's following quite readily. He's not so easily left behind as Sparkly Dad. Of course Tytos chose the shortest, most direct route to where he wanted to lead him, though, and Cenn has a moment where his nose crinkles. He hadn't grabbed his cloak, or his gloves, and he was still in his light, indoor boots. With a sigh, though, he follows the lionette out into the courtyard with only slight grumbling. When they come to Rou's door, he looks down at Tytos, quirks an eyebrow, but then shrugs. He knocks, loud enough to be heard but hopefully not loud enough to disturb sleep if it is being found.

Sleep is a funny thing - Rou's been slipping in and out of consciousness in the hour since he sent his fuzzy son on his errand, but none of it could be even charitably called 'sleep'. So when the knock comes it catches his attention easily enough, though he ends up half hacking up a lung before his voice is un-rasped enough to be heard. "It's open, puppy." Because the amount of fucks he has left to give is approximately zero and he's frankly sick enough that if he's wrong it's easy enough to blame it on delirium.

Opening the door when Rou calls him in, Cenn waits for Tytos to enter before closing the door behind them both. But that willingness to call him 'puppy' through a door makes Cenn's brow knit. That level of nothing to lose is concerning, but he doesn't waste time in crossing the room to sit on the edge of Rou's bed. "Evening." He says with a small smile, though he's really having a hard time not letting his worry be evident.

Rou's answering smile is not small. It is wide and lopsided with fatigue and warm and affectionate in a way that is unguarded and far too telling. "Come here often?" he rasps cheekily. It's a playful way to offer greetings, but though he is quick to lay his hand on Cenn's knee when he settles, he can't hide the way it shakes, nor the way the joints are swollen and almost locked.

Cenn laughs lightly, his hand coming to rest over Rou's. "Every chance I get." He answers back, warmth mirroring Rou's own. His fingers turn in to hold Rou's hand more properly, and though he can feel the swelling, he's not going to mention it. There's no reason to draw attention, and though he's worried for him, one thing he's never offered Rou is pity, and he doesn't intend to start now. So instead he just leans down and noses at Rou's jaw.

Rou can't help the wince when Cenn's hand first rests against his own, but he is so quick to take that proper hold, to squeeze with what little mobility he has in his fingers. "Seems a bit of a dive for a classy piece of ass like yourself." It's one thing that's held true despite the fact that Rou hasn't been well enough to follow through in months - he remains the most terrible flirt. At least, he does with the people he's comfortable around. All two of them. Cenn's nosing makes his breath catch and he turns to return the affection with shaky nuzzling of his own, finally inhaling short, sharp breaths. "How was your shift?" He can feel the shift in the bed as Tytos jumps up to lay on his other side, but his gaze doesn't stray from his puppy. "You're not covered in snow."

"Yeah, well, the owner's a friend." Cenn sends back with a smirk and a small kiss to Rou's cheek. Straightening up again, Cenn gives a small shrug. "It was alright. Cold, wet. I went to go warm up, have a glass of wine," Which was probably evident, with the smell of wine and spices still on his breath, "Which was when Tytos found me. It had stopped actively snowing by the time he lead me through the Courtyard." Which gets Tytos a glance that says 'you know what you did.'

The smirk and the kiss bring another little smile to Rou's face, but it's the 'friend' - the claiming of him like that, even in jest - that puts something a little like light back in his eyes. It's not many people who can make Rou feel any sense of belonging. It's… nice, even if it is bittersweet. As for Tytos? He knows what he did. He just doesn't care. "No shame, that one. Takes after his dad that way." There's an unquenchable love in his voice when he mentions his fiancĂ© like this, so open and unguarded… even more so than he's allowed Cenn to really see before now. There's a sense of inevitability about him and it makes him bolder in the ways he almost never is. "But I'm afraid it's not entirely his fault. I wanted to see you."

That little flicker of light eases Cenn's heart a little, though perhaps he is hopeful without cause. Not that it would be the first time in his life that he was overly hopeful. Everyone be shocked at once. When Rou lets his voice grow besotted, though, Cenn's heart skips a little. He knows that tone… Painfully well, and it pulls up memories of when he used to take on that tone himself. It makes him take a deep breath, but he smiles anyway. "Yes, well, doesn't mean he had to lead me through the courtyard. We could have taken the long way. But I suppose I can forgive it." He says with a small laugh, before looking again to Rou, "Was there something you needed in particular or were you just looking for company?"

"He's impossible to stay mad at." Rou's information is offered with a slightly conspiratorial air and for just a moment it's like nothing at all is wrong - a cozy night just like dozens of others they've shared almost precisely like this. It's a familiar comfort that tugs at Rou's chest and there's a telling softness to his gaze when his thumb brushes stiffly back and forth over the hand holding his own. But the question is a reminder he can't ignore and the fondness with which he looks at Cenn becomes tinged with a combination of resignation and trepidation. "A little of both, though I could have been patient for the company." His gaze drops to their hands and he grits his teeth through a moment of his pulse rushing in his ears. "I've found myself in a position where I need to ask for your help."

"So I've gathered." Cenn says with a small laugh, glancing just for a moment back to the lionette. As it turns out, Cenn actually rather likes being here, even if Rou is ill. It makes the evenings a little slower, but he has no problem with that. But this change redoubles his worry. "Of course," He says, a little softer, a little quieter, "All you have to do is tell me."

Cenn's earnest willingness to help without even a moment's hesitation touches Rou somewhere deep in the core of him. It swells until the space between his lungs has been entirely occupied and he can't quite force a breath. The soft places between his ribs ache and there is a brightness to his eyes that he keeps at bay only by sheer force of will. "There's a false bottom in the lower left hand drawer of my desk. Lift it up and tell me what you see?" He knows what dragon's hoard lies down there - he's been saving at least portions since late summer - but it seems… easier somehow to lead in this way.

Cenn waits quietly, his free hand coming up to Rou's jaw for just a moment as his eyes start to shine. That definitely isn't helping his concern, but he doesn't push. Just nods at the instruction and rises with a gentle squeeze to the hand he has been holding. Turning toward the desk, he drops to a knee to open the indicated drawer. It takes him a minute to work out the false bottom, but when he does, he blinks down at the cache. "Ah, this is where you've been keeping it, then." He says quietly, expressing understanding but not putting direct words to the pile of lyrium under his gaze.

That hand on his jaw is honestly almost Rou's undoing. He sucks in a hitching breath and it's only Cenn's departure and his small coughing fit that save any part of his dignity. When the spasms finally settle, his throat is raw and there are flecks of blood on his hand and his lips, but he's enough breath now to speak again. "My heart stopped beating for a little while this morning." It's quiet, for all that it's abrupt. "It picked up on its own this time, but…" but he had seen the look of worry when he'd told his fussy leopard healer, even as Valentin had remained staunchly convinced everything would still be fine. "I don't know that I'm going to live to see the summer."

Ah, yes, there's the other shoe. Cenn had been waiting for it. For a moment, he stops breathing, and his stomach churns, and there is this awful, wrenching feeling that makes him very glad he's already kneeling. It takes him a good minute before he's able to come up with anything to say to that. And even then, it is quiet, and he can't actually bring himself to look back at Rou. "What do you need from me?" It's not cold, it's not distant, in fact, it's warm, but Cenn is really trying to keep himself together here.

Rou is quiet for a moment, struck by the fragility in his strong and steadfast puppy. He chews on his lower lip, so close to backing out, to giving in, to… but he can't. He has one job at which failure is just… entirely unacceptable. He can't fulfill it himself - not like this and certainly not if he's dead - but he can make sure all the pieces are in place. "There's a flat cedar box beneath them with about eight hundred sovereigns and a note bearing my signature to authorize the withdrawal of about twenty five hundred more from my investment in the city." This is all that he has left of his family's legacy… that and a few more personal items there won't be a need to even discuss unless he's actually gone. "If I don't make it, I want you to take everything and get out. Get Valentin to Rivain. That should be enough lyrium for six months - more if you're frugal and don't mind a bit of discomfort. It's all in there, should be enough for a new start I - … I know it's a lot, but please. Please…"

Honestly, Cenn does his best to be unwavering and reliable. It's an important aspect of himself, his steadfast nature. There are some things that will bring him to his knees, however, and staring down loss is one of those things. Especially, if he was honest with himself, when the loss would be of the man that Cenn knows saved his life. He lets Rou make his request, and is quiet for a long minute. There's a war inside his mind, but eventually his shoulders slump. "I…" He begins, then swallows hard, "No."

The quiet doesn't bother Rou. He's always been content to let his puppy speak in his own time - with those few rare exceptions that involved the risk of his life - and he knows that it's no easy thing he asks. All the same, when that refusal comes, he is not ready. "I - what?" And his entire face folds down into a fragile veil of confusion just barely holding together a kind of despair he has no personal experience with. And from the whirlwind of his mind, only one word manages to come rasping out. "Why?"

It's then that Cenn replaces the false bottom and the other contents of the drawer. He pulls himself up slowly and turns to face Rou, revealing that he has failed entirely on the front of not crying. "Because I refuse to make giving up any easier." Cenn says with a shake of his head, "Hate me for it if you like. But if you want Valentin back in Rivain, you're going to have to stick around to do it yourself."

Oh… oh those are intense and conflicting impulses. Half of Rou wants to push himself out of bed and gather Cenn into his chest and ease the suffering written on that dear face, that… beloved - ? But he has no time to dwell on the obvious, not here, not now at the end. It doesn't matter now and would do nothing but harm. Not with the yawning chasm of terror stretching out to draw him in. "Cenn, it's - it isn't lack of… do you think I want to leave?" And oh there is hurt, raw and throbbing in his voice, wet and sticking and broken. "Do you think I would leave by choice?"

"No." Cenn says again, but in a softer tone. He shifts his weight, looks down. This decision isn't one he likes, and it isn't one that's easy, but he believes it to be right. "If I thought that, I wouldn't be betting on you being around to do what I have refused to. But I'm not taking any reason for you to fight. I can't, I won't." His voice grows thick and he stops, taking a shaking breath. "I don't want to hurt you, and I don't like telling you no. I…" He stops himself, setting his jaw, realizing like Rou just had that down that road only lies suffering. So he just stops, and closes his eyes, and tries not to cry anymore.

Trying not to cry is a theme - a battle that Rou is losing in a jerking, shuddering, painful way. "I'm fighting, Cenn. I'm doing everything I possibly can but my heart stopped beating." That's when he falters entirely, three tears sliding down his cheeks in quick succession as he draws in a shuddering breath and draws in on himself. "Please," he whispers, barely more than a whistling breath. "I'm begging you, don't suffer for my failure. Don't make him suffer for my weakness. It may not be a question of wanting, Cenn. Wishing doesn't always make it so, I…" this is barely a shadow of the proud warrior Rou had been before this awful, fated ordeal. He is small and vulnerable, his weaknesses laid bare and staring him baldly in the face. There is no nobility left, there is no dignity… there is only begging for the few precious things that matter more than anything else in his fractured, shrinking world. "Please…"

Saying no was hard, but standing here apart in the aftermath of that decision is too much for his heart to bear. So he crosses the room again, sitting back down on the edge of the bed. "You can do this." He says, so soft he might have been saying something a shade more irresponsible. "You're afraid, and that is entirely understandable, but I know you can do this. I have to have that hope." He reaches for Rou's hand slowly, slow enough that even in this state Rou would have time to tell him not to. "I don't refuse you lightly, and I wish I didn't have to. But no, Garou, I won't agree to this. And I hope someday you'll forgive me for that."

Cenn's approach turns stormy eyes up to his face, irises a startling blue-green from their bloodshot contrast and too bright as tears fall helplessly over his lashes and down his pale, sunken face. He doesn't pull away, but as that final refusal sinks in, it drags down the light - the life - from his eyes, from his face. Hope… Cenn speaks of hope, but Rou's very last one has been stolen - the only comfort left in his misery denied him - and he's just so tired… He's simply not strong enough. And so that hand can touch his, take it if so desired, but Rou has sunk inside his own tortured mind. There is nothing left but to mourn the final failure in the series that is his life - a life defined always by those he wasn't enough to save.

Oh that change steals Cenn's breath. And there's a moment where he really reconsiders his answer. This breaks his heart, but to back out now would just be an insult. So he gently takes Rou's hand, and then leans over and kisses his temple light enough to be little more than a breath. There's nothing good to say, this is not something for which he can apologize, so instead he is just there, because while he would refuse this request, he would not then abandon him.


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