Dadrius Day 1: Shopping
@sergeantsporks This looks like it's going to be fun.
“I still don’t see how I need a new winter coat when I have a perfectly good one.” Hunter huffed.
Darius examined the price tag of a coat before swiftly turning to another rack. “You must have an expansive definition of ‘perfectly good’. That thing is so threadbare I’m surprised you don’t come home a block of ice every night.”
Hunter crossed his arms, ignoring Flapjack tugging at a long thread on his shoulder. Yes, he was aware he was wearing his coat in a sweltering store without breaking a sweat. But like he told Flapjack, he didn’t see the problem.
“It’s a waste of money,” Hunter said. “I know you have a new job, but why spend your first paycheck on this instead of other stuff we need.”
“You know…” Hunter faltered, ignoring a tear in his sleeve as he waved his hand. "...Stuff."
Darius pulled a coat out and handed it to him. "Just humor me, would you?"
Hunter rolled his eyes and took it. He took of the offending coat, put on the new one and said, "Satisfied?"
"Not yet. You need to look in the the mirror and see if you like the fit."
Hunter scrunched his face in frustration, but turned to one of the mirrors between the shelves anyway.
He...actually liked how he looked. The coat was brown and double breasted, which framed him in a way that made him look...taller? Was that a thing? The pockets were deep, which was something he was always particular about. There was a nice heft to it that grounded him, made him feel cozy. As much as he rolled his eyes when he heard it in commercials, it felt like it was made for him.
"Look good!" Flapjack chirped, happily zooming around him. "Look like gentleman!"
Hunter did look nice in it.
And that was the problem, wasn't it.
He tried to hide his shallow breathes as he peeled off the coat. "Yeah, I guess it's not bad."
Darius eyed him worriedly. "Hunter, are you okay?"
He tried to make throwing the coat over a rack look casual. "Oh, yeah, great! Hey, isn't it kind of stuffy in here?" He strolled towards the door. "I think I'm gonna get some fresh air."
He made a break for it as soon as he opened the door, ignoring Darius calling after him and Flapjack chirping closed behind.
He waited until he was in the town square to try and count out his breathing. Once he became aware of his surroundings again, he got hit with the bitter cold. He left both coats in the store.
Flapjack hovered around him, concern etched on his little face. "Why run? What wrong?"
"I'm sorry, bud." Hunter said, holding out his finger for Flapjack to perch. "I just...I've got a lot of complicated feelings right now."
Flapjack tilted his head quizzically, but quickly lifted it up to nuzzle Hunter. "Hunter okay. Hunter safe."
Hunter leaned into the affection. He should probably go back to Darius, but honestly, he was too tired. So instead he waited for Darius to come to him.
He saw Darius turning towards the town square and approaching him. He had Hunter's old coat draped across his arm.
"I'm so sorry, Hunter." Darius said breathlessly as he handed it to Hunter. "I never meant to push you when you weren't ready. I know it takes you time to get used to change-"
"It's not that." Hunter said, looking down.
"...Then what is it?" Darius sounded confused.
Hunter couldn't bring himself to look up. "You're gonna hate me if I tell you."
"Hunter, I won't hate you."
He would. "Look, it's stupid." Hunter started to walk back towards the store. "Let's just go back-"
"Hunter." Darius grabbed his wrist. It was a light grip, but his eyes were pleading. "Please."
Hunter sighed. He told himself if it wasn't this, it would've been something else that made Darius hate him anyway. "...Belos gave me this coat after I made it to the bottom of the mountain during training. A reward for a job well done."
There was a silence. Hunter couldn't stand it. "I-I know it's stupid. I should hate him now. Everyone on the Boiling Isles does. Bu-but, it still means something to me. I know it shouldn't, but when I think of throwing it out I just...." Hunter couldn't finish the sentence. He's not sure what he thought would happen, just that the very idea of the action filled him with dread.
More silence. Well, it was nice living with Darius while it lasted. He supposed he could crash on the Owl Lady's couch for awhile. After that he wasn't really sure...
"Hunter, I understand."
Hunter looked at him, absolutely bewildered. "....Why?"
"Why do you understand?! Why are you being nice about it?! Back in the Emperor's Coven you hated me for blindingly worshiping Belos, why don't you hate me for it now?"
Well, if Hunter hadn't ruined it before, he sure did now. Neither of them really liked talking about those times, and for awhile there was an understanding not to bring it up. But Hunter was too upset to keep his usual walls up. He was just so tired right now.
Darius looked down, seeming to concentrate on the choice of his words. "I didn't hate you. I...was mad about things out of my control, and I took it out on you. For that, I'm sorry."
If Hunter was confused before, he was dumbstruck now. "Um, thank you?"
Darius was about to say something, but stopped. "Let's go home. We can go shopping another day."
Hunter nodded. As they fell in step together, Darius put his arm around Hunter's shoulder. Hunter leaned into the touch.
If Eda Found Hunter Instead (Part One Hundred and Seventy-One)
After Luz overhears Eda calling her a burden and is overwhelmed with guilt.
Luz: This is awful. Eda wouldn't be in this situation if it weren't for me. Maybe it would be better if I never came here.
Hunter: Says who?
He walks up to her, cracking his back from the ache of lifting the mace off of him.
Luz: Says me.
Hunter: Yeah, but with how often you’re wrong about something, it’s worth assuming you’re wrong about this.
Luz frowns at him.
Hunter: ...Look, you’re not a burden, if that’s what you’re thinking. If you’d ask Eda, I’m sure she’d say the same thing.
Luz: Only because she doesn’t want us to worry! Don’t you ever feel like you could do more?
Hunter glances at the mace.
Hunter: Maybe sometimes...But it’s not like there’s much I can do about it. And neither can you.
Luz: There is, though. I can't change the past, but I can still change the future. I'm gonna help Eda and prove that I'm more than just a burden.
Hunter: And how are you going to do that?
Luz looks back at Greg’s List. She stomps over and rips the Selkidomus poster off of it.
Luz: By bagging a hefty bounty.
Hunter: Eda doesn’t want--
Luz: It’s what I want. Are you going to stop me?
Hunter looks down at his necklace, rubbing the chipped piece of Belos’ mask.
Hunter: ...Nope. I’m done fighting with you. You want to go on a dangerous, high seas adventure, then count me in.
Luz: Thanks, Hunter.
Hunter: No problem.
Luz: ...Leave the mace, though.
A little on the Nose...
Willow adjusted the lab coat, and placed the googles stop her head
Luz gives her a thumbs up
Luz "Nice mad scientist costume! Now what about Hunter?"
The boy enters the room, face covered in green face paint, fake stitches running stop his forehead, and fake bolts sticking out of his neck.
Willow grins, wrapping her arm around him
"He's my creation!" She states proudly
Luz knows he has never told her about his origin, and she could see him trying to mask how he really felt about the couples costume Willow had suggested....
The thing about Phoenix is that he’s in this position where he SAW the rise of the empire growing up. The Grimwalkers in Gilded were staggered, living for what usually amounted to halfish of their lives (roughly 12 years, depending) without Belos, before he killed whatever current Grimwalker he had and “rescued” the new one to come live with him. Phoenix “died” about 27 to 30 years ago, and was 27 when he did, so he was anywhere from 4 to 7 when the empire was officially established. Petro was petrified at age twenty five, so he was likely the golden guard for the whole period of Belos publicly attempting to create and enforce the coven system, through the founding of the empire, and a few more years. Because I believe that before the empire was officially established, the golden guard was a position only Belos actually knew about/didn’t really hold much attention in the public eye, Phoenix is the only grimwalker to have both been around during the last golden guard’s lifetime AND known the golden guard existed. He grew up on stories about Emperor Belos and his brave right hand man, the Golden Guard. The guy would have been like a fairy tale knight to Phoenix, heroically conquering the savage wild witches and bringing peace and order at the emperor’s side. Being twelveish, and suddenly getting invited to live with the emperor? Having “you could be the next golden guard” dangled over his head? The possibility that the golden guard of stories was Phoenix’s dad, if Belos is his uncle?! Absolutely starstruck baby Phoenix.