So rogueandranger sent me my lovely prompts for the Perc’ahlia Vacation fic (as set up by curriebelle) exchange and since it’s me being me, I have done two in one fic; in a bar and in an airship. Hope you all enjoy, it’s my first time writing critical role fic with dialogue.
Word Length: 3,900+ words.
Rated: Teen with some R references.
To say Percy and Scanlan had taken the news that Cassandra and Kaylie were going to get married well was a massive understatement.
By the time evening had set in both Percy and Scanlan had ended up, faces still ashen and lines around their mouths turned forlorn, in a corner of Vasselheim’s lesser known bars. Their elbows had been stuck fast to the table and the drinks constantly topped up by a bemused if sympathetic barkeeper, while Grog knocked back firewater out of solidarity in the next table and Pike’s hands twisted together in fretful patterns.
Conversation between the men is scarce, prolonged silences interrupted by shocked statements like ‘She’s getting married,’ and ‘Will she even ask me to walk her down the aisle?’, and ‘She’s marrying a Shorthalt,’ and ‘Do you think she’ll even let me sing at her wedding?’. The heavy thuds of their glasses seem to echo their dismay and even the chairs are sagging.
They could be given a little credit though; Vex has no idea what she would have done if she had come back from the Feywild only to find that she had missed four years of her brother’s life and that he had learned how to trust his heart enough to get married.
Kaylie and Cassandra had begged off the celebration, preferring to retire to their rooms where they were staying as a pre-wedding honeymoon. As Whitestone had remained the last stronghold against the Chroma Conclave (and fucking christ Vex thinks as she downs her sixth pint, letting her throat muscles work through the idea of four years of Conclave tyranny) the Lady Cassandra and her fiancee were in high demand at the Whitestone council and could only afford to be away from Whitestone for a week at most.
Vex feels her attention start to draw to the barkeeper and she raises her arm to flag down another pint when Scanlan starts hiccuping, tiny body jumping a little in his seat.
“She better take care of my Kaylie,” he says, struggling to draw his shoulders straight while he sways on his bar stool. “I’m onto you… something something de Rolos. If Cassandra’s not careful, I’ll kick her ass to defend my baby’s virtue.”
“I would offer to do the same for Cassandra,” Percy slurs, hand moving to push his glasses back to the bridge of his nose. His elbow slips off the table and he catches himself with shaking hands before he damages something permanent. “But she is a big girl. Perfectly able to make her own big person decisions. Decisions she never consulted me about. Decisions I was never there to be consulted about. Good God, I’m a terrible big brother.” His head hits the table, hair wilting as he lets out a low moan.
“I’m a terrible father but that was a well established fact since Kaylie’s birth.” Scanlan gestures and topples over an empty glass. “Scanlan Shorthalt: Worst father of the year! Except- oh shit, Percy,” He leans forward, eyes bloodshot and wide, mouth contorting as if he has eaten an especially sour lemon. “We’re the worst in-laws ever. You’re like, my son now.”
Percy’s eyes, sunken and bruised, widen, and his face turns white. He looks at Scanlan as if seeing him in a new light. “No.”
“Yes, yes, yes,” Scanlan whispers, except his voice carries to Vex’s bench. “We have to be better, do better for our girls. We have to do family outings, get matching family outfits-"
“Scanlan, stop, please, oh God.”
“-We’re going to have to do so many father-son bonding moments.” Scanlan announces with a full body shudder and another dramatic hand gesture so exaggerated Vex is surprised he manages to hang onto his seat.
“Please don’t, I’ve been through enough.” Percy moans in a small voice, vowels heavily slurred, as he sinks down to mouth ‘no’ continuously into the disgusting table and it’s so pitiful that Vex decides that the night is effectively over.
Judging from the tired lines around Keyleth’s mouth, the way Vax is trying not to rub at his eyes, and the listless way Grog is starting to hold his glass, Vex reckons that the night has been over for some time now.
“Brother.” She says, and it takes only that for her brother to straighten from his slump over the table and make his way over to Scanlan, kissing her temple as he stumbles by.
“Come on, Shorthalt, let’s take you to bed,” Vax says, hands ruffling Scanlan’s hair, fond and carelessly gentle, before grabbing onto his shoulders.
“No, I need to give my son a bedtime story,” Scanlan says, eyes staring somewhere past Vax’s elbow as he fumbles for Percy’s hand, “He needs to learn the Shorthalt family songs, it’s important.”
“I’m sure Percy will be thrilled to learn them tomorrow,” Vax says as Percy lets out a moan that sounds not unlike Trinket with an upset stomach. “Come on.” He hoists Scanlan up and drags him to the door by his belt. He claps Grog on his shoulder, who twists around, sees the display of Vax tugging at a mumbling and uncooperative halfling, guffaws, and hefts a drowsy Pike onto his shoulder before lumbering after Vax. His big hands cradles the small of Pike’s back and she drapes over his bald head like a serene cupid as she waves at Vex.
Vex waves back and turns to Keyleth. “I’ve got him.”
“You sure?” Keyleth says, but her shoulders slump even as her eyes skitter guiltily at Percy’s direction.
“Yeah it’ll be fine, might even get blackmail material.” She says, putting as much cheer as she is able to with her dry mouth and scratchy eyes.
Keyleth murmurs goodnight and gives Vex a tired hug before departing, dropping her own fond and possessive kiss on Percy’s head.
“Congratulations.” She whispers, tone awkward if well meaning. Percy makes another unintelligible noise that sounds part adoring, part miserable.
Vex lets herself chuckle as she takes Scanlan’s seat. “Rough day, darling?” She means it to come out as a joke, but her hand traces a concerned line through his hair, around the shell of his human ears.
“The worst.” He says, lifting his head up to stare at her. Unlike Scanlan his gaze is true. They seem to take in the affected warmth on her face, and the smiling arch of her cheek. He amends, “The best. The most confusing. The missed opportunities. Another typical day.” He sighs and makes of show of pulling himself together, forearms on tantalising display as he smoothes his hair down and fixes his rumpled collar. “She couldn’t have given her heart to a better person.”
“No, she couldn’t. She could, I suppose,” She slides over and fixes Percy’s glasses, frame gone askew and legs making groves against Percy’s temple. “But I think it would be cruel to ask her otherwise. They have been planning this for a year and a half after all.”
“Yes I suppose.” Percy sighs, somehow managing to fumble himself into a more dignified posture to better turn towards her, his chair making a low screeching sound as he closes them off from the rest of the bar, like a pair of bookends over a table sticky with stale beer.
In the candlelight, he looks worn and drained, like some distant and mysterious hero from her mother’s bedtime stories. But he also looks overwhelmed with happiness, too, that only she can observe. See? It’s in the red of his ears and the creases at his eyes; it’s the conflicted quiver along his mouth, the shake of his knuckles; and it’s in the sad corners of his cheeks, because true happiness for Percy comes with a healthy dose of sadness that seeps out of the pores and evaporates into the air, like a purge.
While it’s not the best look for Percy, it’s probably one that suits him most; fills out his coat like a square meal fattening up his biceps and shoulders. It’s better than the smoky alternative of a deal gone devastatingly wrong. Sometimes she imagines if Percy can feel Orthax pushing through his skin, hot metal at the back of his throat and burning the skin between his fingers, and every time she does she is so, so relieved that this Percy in front of her is able to smile like is he is now, as crooked and distantly sad as it is.
“Do you think she’ll be happy?” He asks her, beseeching, and she laughs.
“She’s your sister, and a de Rolo.” A deflection, if any. She doesn’t know what it takes for a relation of Percy’s to be happy. But if Cassandra’s thumb along Kaylie’s cheek and the de Rolo crest sewn beautifully into Kaylie’s tunic, over her heart, Kaylie’s nose pressing into Cassandra’s temple and quiet, shared in jokes meant only for Cassandra’s ears is any indication then they must be doing something right. “How the bloody hell should I know.”
“My dear Vex, you are an excellent judge of character,” Percy says, imperious, hands arching and full of pomp and privilege. “I trust no one else’s opinion more.”
“Don’t you trust your sister’s?” Vex bites back, hands tightening around Trinket’s trinket and jaw clenching. Percy blinks and looks at her, as if a spell has been broken. She flexes and her hands moves away from it, joints stiff.
There is a moment of silence that seems to yawn between them, then shrink just as suddenly.
Then Percy speaks, soft, apology laced in the twist of his nose, “Yes. Of course I do.”
“Good. Then she’s happy,” She says while tilting her chin. Percy smirks, rueful, before slumping back down, spine curling in defeat, in chagrin. He reaches for his glass, but it is empty. After a considering look, blue eyes turning grey, he pushes it away.
“I think I’ve had enough,” He says, and she sighs before pushing her chair back and standing. She touches his elbow, just where the shirt sleeves brush skin.
“Good idea,” She says, letting her voice warm and her mouth stretch. “Come on, darling.”
“I think I’m losing her Vex.” He says abruptly, and she stills her hand. He is still staring at his glass, as if it can tell him something that no one else can understand, as if he is looking at the smoky image of his shadow, still haunting him after all these months. “Four years. Before it was five. I am losing pieces of her and I don’t know what to do about it. What I even can do that doesn’t involve sitting back and listening to stories and memories stretched by years. All that time, lost.”
And Vex, well, Vex doesn’t understand how that feels, so is left with nothing to say, just stares at Percy as he shakes his head, stands, and grabs his coat. He shakes it out and pulls it on, not meeting her eyes.
She hasn’t known what it’s like to be apart from Vax in the way Percy has been apart from Cassandra, or even the rest of his family. However, it is a sympathetic ache that burns sweetly, the way fruit stings a cut lip. She thinks of how Vax is always close, and yet there is a widening gap even between them, the seams stretched in increments, in miles, by dark feathers, a bloody knife, and her brother’s pining heart. She isn’t losing Vax, she knows nothing short of death could ever take him away from her. But she is losing him, all the same.
Percy turns and nearly bumps into her, so lost is she in her thoughts that she isn’t prepared for the solid heat of him, the press of his chest, their thighs brushing as he grabs her bicep. They sway into each other, as trees sway in a forest.
It might be the alcohol talking, but Vex (left with nothing to say, grasping for something, anything perfect to say that would make his eyes seem less old, and more present with her) would rather comfort Percy her usual way-
(hot bodies slotted together, hands everywhere, tongues dipping into mouths and around hot nipples and into fleshy folds. How he could one day have Vex spread out on a bar table, licking tequila from her elbows and brandy from her navel if only he could just open his eyes and see; that what they are to each other only waits, impatiently as dregs at the bottom of the glass, skulking in corners, in the creased lines of sweat soaked sheets and lingering kisses on the cheek)
-only it’s just the wrong time, and entirely the wrong person to do that with.
“Vex?” he whispers, and it’s the way he forms her name, like a song, like the air through her hair as she coasts the sky through her broom, the sheer thrill of a sudden descent.
She could blame it on the alcohol that still thrums like lava in her blood, tingling at her fingertips as she thinks ‘just one touch, and that's it, only one touch and I can stop being so hungry’, and she reaches up, tilts her chin and feels her eyes slide down as Percy sways again, unfolds until he’s moving with her and-
-And he's looking at her mouth.
The space between them is dwindling and her heart is thrumming and-
-And the doors crash open as a party of half-orcs and dwarves and elves stomps in from the cold, laughing uproariously and calling for the barkeeper’s attention.
Spell broken she leans away, blinking furiously, the cold air stinging her cheeks and she feels too hot, like she’s burning alive.
His eyes are long-lashed and half-closed, lips parted and wet in the candle light. She could so easily give in.
But he’s blinking too and pulling back, the dull flush simmering at his neck receding under his collar.
“Vex,” He croaks out, and another gust ruffles his hair and suddenly, an idea forms.
She rips herself away from the warm envelope of his body, marches over to the table Grog and Pike had possessed earlier, and grabs one of the remaining glasses that is still half-full of firewater. She downs half of it, the hot surge burning her throat and settling in her stomach in a nauseating swirl. She hacks and makes a face then turns to Percy, demanding, “Drink up,” and he hastily obeys.
“What is this for?” He coughs, eyes a little watery and a lot wary. But there is a spark at the creases of his eye that betrays some anticipation- a Percy well used to leaping into whatever crazy plan Vex or Vax think up no matter the risk.
She snatches his hand, and at another time she would be flattered by the way his breath visibly hitches, eyes darkening as he looks down at her, but this is far more important. “Darling, I have a brilliant idea.”
“Vex, dear, I really don't think that a bloody stolen airship is going to be a great wedding present!” Percy yells over the thundering boom of the wind, hair a disaster zone, coat whipping around him as he desperately tries to wrestle with the wheel.
Technically it’s not a proper airship, only a sleek skiff with beautiful curves and solid lines that made Percy’s eyes gleam with interest. Even now his hands are lovingly possessive, and stroke the steering wheel like he’s tuning it. He is probably already planning on tinkering the engine, miles and miles of sketches fleshed out and waiting for his steady hands and calculating gaze.
“Who said this was a wedding present, this is a present for you, you daft man!” She yells back, laughing as the airship jolts one way, then another, narrowly missing Vasselheim’s ragged mill. Down on the platform some guards and merchants have milled around, their irate voices carrying through the wind and riding the waves of air.
“What are you on about?” Percy says, then yelps as an arrow skims past his shoulder.
She releases her hold of the ropes by the stern and vaults down the platform towards the side, plucking her bow from her back and loading it. She takes aim and fires a warning shot at the guards. From the rather high-pitched scream cutting the air she hit someone, but she refuses to be guilty as she notches another arrow. No one was taking this ship from her.
Back at Percy, Trinket is groaning and covering his face with his paws, ears pressed against his head in a fit of despair.
The ship veers again and she just manages to grab onto the railing before she and her bow are thrown off.
“Sorry! You caught me by surprise.” Percy yells back, arms frantically spinning the wheel. “Would you believe I’ve never done this before?”“I would never have guessed!” She says as another arrow arches through the air. The ship is too far away though and she sighs in relief as it loses speed and falls back. They have cleared Vasselheim with little worry to any pursuers as they had, at the last minute, decided to cut off the other airships from their tethers. It was a wonder they had managed to be so stealthy, drunk as they were, giggling like mad children the whole time.
“I don't know what to say.”
“That’s a first. I rather think we’re in the clear, Darling.” She says cheerfully, flushed with pleasure and adrenaline. She bounds to the top platform to throw herself on a barrel next to Trinket, crosses her legs as she tosses her hair back.
“You stole an airship for me.” Percy says, and she stills when she hears the sheer wonder in his tone. He is stealing sips of her, eyes catching and holding her hair, her eyes, her mouth, before looking back to steer them on the correct path. He looks. Well.
She says lightly, “Actually we did! And your welcome,” except they’re back at the bar again, heart thrumming, lungs burning, hungry, impatient, and there is only a steering wheel and a devoted bear between them.
“I don’t know how I can ever repay you.” He says like he means it, like he will go through every day thinking that and late into the night obsessively turning over every idea he has to repay her. As if she even wants to be repaid for this night.
“I think you’ve rather outdone yourself, what with a title and all.” She uncrosses her legs, knees pressing together, nails digging into the barrel’s wood. “But there might be something I can think of.”
“Anything.” His voice is grave, eyes hot, and if he isn’t careful she might forget why she doesn’t trust herself just quite yet.
“Well then,” her traitorous tongue licks her lips, and he tracks it. The wind bumps against the underside of the airship and it rumbles through the planks and through her. Trinket hums and tries to nudge her with his paw but it might as well have gone through cotton for all Vex is able to hear it. “Repeat after me. Lady Vex’ahlia, Third Baroness of Whitestone, you are the most beautiful woman on the planet, I worship the very ground you walk on,” She flings her arm up in the air, letting her hand touch her forehead in a grand flourish, letting her spine arch, “and I will give you all my gold and prized possessions just so I can be deemed worthy of your very exquisiteness,” she breaks off laughing, delighted when Percy joins in.
He doubles over, one hand clutching the wheel, the other around his middle.
“Do you want me to also worship the very air you breathe?” He says between laughs, “Kiss Trinket’s paws? I think I already have that covered.”
“Darling, the less I know about where your mouth has been, the better,” Trinket snorts in agreement. “You’ve rather spoiled the whole thing now.” He laughs again.
“Well then, Lady Vex’ahlia, in repayment would you do me the honour of taking this ship on its maiden voyage?” He says, and bows low, hair gleaming bone white, glasses sparkling.
“Certainly my dear,” She says, hops off the barrel and returns the bow. She can feel her feathers ruffle with her sweep. She straightens at the same time he does, and she has the strangest sensation that they about to launch into a dance, a swirl of limbs and Percy’s coat, in-sync like they always have been.
She wonders if there will be a dance at Cassandra and Kaylie’s wedding, and if Percy and Scanlan will be as drunk as they have been this night, or if they will stave off to dance with their favourite women before bawling their eyes out at another corner over more glasses of alcohol. If Cassandra and Kaylie will be beautiful in white, or in ceremonial dress, if the aisle will be bedecked with Pelor’s light and Keyleth’s flowers and the de Rolo crest. If she will be the one to pluck the courage to stalk over to Percy and demand he dance with her, heart thumping, palms sweating as her thoughts scream ‘this time, this time, right now, right here, now’, while Vax and everyone else cheers and tease in turn at the other table.
It’s something she’s really looking forward to.
Recovering, she says, “You can keep an eye on Trinket- he’s looking as green as you.” Behind both of them Trinket let out another moan, a distinct wail that seemed to be questioning all his life choices up until this moment.
“I think I’d rather be up here with you right now. In case you need a few pointers, not that you’ll need them.” Percy says, cheeks flushing attractively and god-damn she’s a goner, just so gone and how could she have ever thought to escape this, them.
“So be it, deckhand, save your shoes from bear vomit.” She says, unable to hide how wide she’s smiling, how free her laugh is. And then there’s Percy laughing with her, and the pair of them are cackling like maniacs as the stars dance among the clouds and the wind howls its joy in their ears.
Soon they will have to touch down and go back to who they are, Vex’ahlia and Percival of Vox Machina, Heroes of Emon, Dragon Slayers. There is a wedding to go to and an army to form. There is Keyleth in the morning yelling frantically at their impulsiveness while Grog and Pike cheer and laugh, Vax smiling in exasperation, and Scanlan nursing an epic hangover but already composing ballads over their drunken foolishness.
There will be friends to cry over, and laugh with, and love to find in all the cracks between misery and weariness, like star light splitting the seams of dark night. Vex is ready for anything, and if there is a particular man standing by her side as she weathers each storm, dancing up in the air with her and down on the ground protecting her back, then, well, it’s help that she certainly appreciates.