The title says enough.
Chapter 29. Home
Erin woke up in Skereth's bed feeling her girlfriend's warm body wrapped around her protectively. It had been a few days since Erin and Chad had got back from Zopru and the moment Skereth had seen her opportunity, she’d asked Erin to be her girlfriend. Erin had, of course, said yes. She felt so proud of Skereth being able to combat her commitment issues.
Now everything was sinking in Erin was immensely grateful for Skereth's presence. Both she and Chad were suffering badly from PTSD. Erin found herself having vivid flashbacks to the dungeon and torture and at night nightmares plagued her. Skereth would hold her close, whispering that it would be okay, that she was safe now.
Some nights when Erin couldn't sleep, or rather was afraid to, Skereth would stay up talking about mundane things until Erin drifted off to sleep.
Two days after they'd returned to Obrary Etho had made an appearance. He'd brought flowers as a gift to his old friends and as a thank you to Erin and Chad for freeing him. He'd explained what had happened after Erin and Chad had run.
"They fought until they noticed you were gone and then they just left," he'd said, "bunch of cowards."
Erin sat up in bed and looked around the bedroom. It was glowing with morning light and felt safe. A new month, she thought, new beginnings. She laughed at herself. She really doubted this month would prove to be much better. Chad had sent out a letter to Vechs' family telling them of his death, soon after they'd received an invitation to his funeral. Erin hated that Vechs' body was lost, but there was nothing she could do about it.
"Morning, gorgeous," Skereth said sleepily, entwining her fingers with Erin's. Erin looked down at Skereth and brought her hand up to her lips and placed a kiss on her warm skin.
Skereth carefully pulled Erin down and Erin positioned herself just above her, "Did you sleep okay, Green Eyes?"
"I actually did," Erin replied.
"I'm glad," Skereth kissed her slowly, "I missed you so much, please don't leave me again. I was so worried."
"I will try not to, I will try my hardest to never leave you that long again," Erin said between kisses.
"Good, because you mean a lot to me and I would hate for something to happen to you,"
Erin smiled. Feeling loved was such a warm and safe feeling. Skereth always made her feel like things would be okay.
"What are you going to do now you're free?" Erin remembered Meria asking Etho on the day he'd visited.
"I'll catch up on what's happened in the eighty years I was locked away," Etho had said, "then I'll probably try to find myself a respectable job, it's about time I had one of those."
"You're not going to bring Greenwood back to Sunreth, then?" Erin asked.
Etho had shaken his head, "Nope, he can stay there rotting. I've got an idea of how to break the contract, but it may take a while. Hopefully I'll be able to do it before he realises I'm not coming back for him and uses magic to contact and command me."
Erin pushed the memories away, she didn't need to worry about Etho right at this moment. She was allowed to be selfish and enjoy this moment of pure happiness.
"You're distracted," Skereth said looking Erin in the eyes, "what's up?"
"I was just thinking about Etho,"
Skereth pouted, "If that's what works for you, fine, but I'm a little insulted." Erin smacked her arm.
"Oh shut up, you know what I meant,"
"Yeah, I know you miss men," Erin smacked her arm again, "you seem to think that'll make me stop," she winked suggestively, making Erin smack her again.
"You still like me, though."
"For some reason, yes," Erin said before kissing Skereth again, "your mind is filthy."
"You like that, too." Skereth purred.
Erin moved to kiss Skereth's neck, "You know it."
Erin sat in the town square of Highbreak with Chad. They both had pastries they'd bought from what seemed to be the Sunreth equivalent of a patisserie. They'd all agreed that being somewhere completely unrelated to the Erizul Guild or the Order of the Sphinx would be better for Erin and Chad with their PTSD.
So, Chad and Sevadus were staying in Skereth's spare room and Erin, of course, slept in Skereth's room. It was peaceful, something both Erin and Chad really needed.
"I didn't realise just how much I'd missed the sun," Chad said, he was looking up into the blue sky. It was clear save for the odd wispy, white cloud.
"Yeah, it was horrible not seeing it for so long," Erin agreed. Another reason they were in Highbreak; the fact it was open, unlike Lynsereen, which just fed their PTSD.
Chad sighed, "I can't help but expect the worst. I keep expecting someone with black smoke to come and kidnap us again. Or kill Sevadus and Skereth. It's hard not to expect bad things."
"I get that," Erin said with a nod, "I feel exactly the same. But I think we're okay, at least right now we are."
"Yeah, we are," Chad agreed, "we are, I'm just terrified to let myself believe it, you know?"
"I know," Erin squeezed Chad's leg, "I really do."
The two of them talked about Vechs, they couldn't help it. Somehow it helped. Erin supposed it was probably healthier than just pretending what'd happened, hadn't. They talked about him like he was still alive, though. They hadn't learned how to speak about Vechs like he was gone. It was okay, Erin had decided, they didn't have to adjust instantly.
Perhaps talking about Vechs and the silly things he did was their version of closure. Whatever the reason for it helping was, Erin was just glad it did.
It seemed almost weird to Erin that one minute she could talk freely about everything without getting emotional, then the next she would be bawling her eyes out and need time to calm down. She was glad now was a time she was able to talk without getting too emotional.
"I can't help but feel like it was my fault," Erin said with a sigh, "I know it's not, I know that Blame is just a psychopath, but there's a little bit of me that believed I'm responsible."
"I understand that," Chad said softly, "but it's not your fault. As you said, Blame is insane."
"Yeah," Erin looked down at her half eaten pastry, "We had some good times, you, me and Vechs. I'm sad I didn't know him for longer, but I will always cherish the time we had together."
Chad smiled, "Vechs was a good guy, a pain in the ass, but a good guy nonetheless."
"He was the biggest pain in the ass," Erin laughed then slowly stopped, "I miss him."
"Yeah," Chad looked at the cobbled ground, "I miss him, too."
"I hope that, wherever he is, that he's with Zisteau." Erin said softly.
"I'm sure he is." Chad replied softly, "I bet they're looking down on us now, just because they can."
"Yeah, I think that's the kind of thing Vechs would do."
"We're going to be okay, Erin," Chad said, turning to face Erin, "we are. It sure as hell doesn't feel like it, but we will be. Everyone gets over death to some extent after a while. I lost my first love and I got over him. Sure it took a while, but I did. At my age most people have experienced a lot of death, and if they haven't I envy them. It's nearly always painful, it feels like being stabbed, but it's always okay."
"You're right," Erin replied, "I know you are, but damn it, I miss that idiot."Chad pulled her into a hug and the pair just sat there hugging for a little while. Neither of them wanting to let go for fear that they'd break.