About dang time I got out an MTG story. I've been meaning to do one since the end of Aether Revolt, but that idea kept flopping because I couldn't figure out how to write brooding, moody Jace the Living Guildpact. Ixalan has blessed me with a much happier and easier to figure out Jace (who knew memory loss could be beneficial) so I can finally get this done. Even better, Ixalan blessed me with a prospective partner for him that is SO much healthier for him than Liliana is. My heart is entirely devoted to Vraska x Jace. The two are just plain adorable together.
Although I gotta say, I've gradually become accepting of Jace x Ral. I don't even know Ral that well (I sob with heartbreak every time I realize I don't have any of the published novels and must only rely on the online stories) but I've been devouring all the bits on the pair written by Mertiya. I highly recommend their work for anyone interested.
Last but not least, I've never read Agents of Artifice. Like I said, no published novels. It's very upsetting. But I've learned enough from reading what I can get my hands to feel pretty confident about writing something like this. Apologies in advance if I mess up any of the lore.
With that boringly long preamble out of the way (so sorry guys), let's get to the actual story.
Disclaimer first, of course. I don't own anything MTG except some cards. And even then it's just the physical cards, no claim on their creation... Very sad. I lay no claim to the beautiful bit of cover art either
Pain shot through his scalp as the cold, cruel fingers twisted in his hair gave a sharp tug. His head was pulled back and he let out a faint grunt, eyes flicking to the side as he caught movement in his peripheral vision. A dark mist curled gently over his shoulder and he thought he might be sick as he realized there was something metallic and sharp pricking at his skin, just below the same shoulder that the vapor fell over.
Then the manablade dug in and dragged down, agonizingly slow and precise as it carved a remarkably straight line down his back. A tormented cry ripped from his throat, wetness welling up in his eyes and along the gash to dribble across his skin. His screams continued as more deliberate lines were torn into his flesh, but he could hear a voice over the sound of his own. Just as cold as the metal fingers that were tangled in his hair, sadistic glee and icy fury filling its tone as it reprimanded him for his failure, while all the while he tried to put together a coherent apology in response.
He wasn't sure how long it was until something changed. The voice was still angry but now also heartbroken and betrayed, and had turned from reprimanding him for failure to begging a reason for it. The fingers in his hair weren't metal any longer, and yet while forgiving enough to let him turn his head, were no less cruel. Still, he took the chance to look over his shoulder. To his horror, he was greeted with a visage so like his own that he almost might have been looking into a mirror. But it wasn't him and he knew it. He knew who this person was.
The shout of his name right beside his ear brought the man back to the world of the awake. Somewhat. Jace sat bolt upright, tangled in his bedsheets, thrashing around as phantom pains wracked his back and the mournful, repetitive "How could you?" of his dead friend ran through his mind. A pair of hands pressed gently against his cheeks, caressing softly. Slowly, his panic faded away and his vision cleared, revealing a concerned face wreathed with writhing, emerald green tendrils and beautiful golden eyes bright with sympathy.
"Vraska," he whispered, letting out a long, shuddering breath and slowly relaxing. She sat down on the bed beside him, lifting her hands from his face so that her arms could go around him. He leaned in close to her embrace, grateful for it. Especially since physical contact with her was still rare. "I'm sorry if I woke you."
"It doesn't matter. I wasn't asleep." The gorgon chose to omit the fact that this was due to having awoken only a half hour ago, drenched in sweat and silent with terror from a nightmare of her own. "Was is the usual one?" Her fingers ghosted along his bare skin, just below his shoulders and at the base of his neck, to show what she meant. Not quite touching the scarred area of his back, but as close as she dared.
His tattooed face turned slightly away. "Yes," came the unconvincing, hesitant answer. Vraska knew instantly that the nightmare had been more than just the memory of his torture at the hands of Tezzeret. She waited in silence. Finally, Jace sighed. "No. Not... Not quite."
"Do you want to talk about it?" she prompted gently after another silence.
Jace considered her, not with his gaze but with his mind. He didn't enter hers, but his consciousness did brush against it out of habit, and he drew comfort from the bit of intimacy. "It was the same at first," he murmured slowly. "But at the end, it wasn't Tezzeret. It was Kallist..." He felt her understanding from their faint mental contact, fuzzily viewed it in her head as she recalled the time he had told her of his near twin and of his responsibility for Kallist's death.
Vraska withdrew and stood abruptly. Jace turned to look at her, confusion wrinkling his face. "Get up," she ordered. "Let's find somewhere to get comfortable with some books. I'll make us some tea."
"You know I prefer coffee," came the grumbled reply.
"It's too late for coffee."
"It's never too late for coffee."
"You won't get back to sleep if you drink a cup of coffee now, Jace. Unless you want to go out somewhere to buy decaf?" A sly grin tugged at her mouth as he shot her an offended look.
"Decaf is an awful affront to all of the coffee of the multiverse and should not exist anywhere on a single plane. Fine, I'll accept your tea."
"You're lucky I'm still willing to make it for you."
The two shared easy smiles and Jace was relieved to find that he was already feeling a bit better. He scooted himself over to the edge of the bed and swung his feet to the floor, reaching for where his cloak hung on the back of a nearby chair as he stood up. He encased himself in the garment, letting the hood fall around his shoulders. Vraska watched as he drew his safety blanket — not that she would ever call it that aloud — a little closer around his form, then stepped in to lay a hand against his cheek once more. The two met with a kiss, tender and precious.
After a few seconds, the pair parted, gazes meeting. Vraska, now keeping her hands to herself because even if it was Jace she wasn't comfortable with an excess amount of physical contact, led the way to the door. She knew without needing to look that he was following her. They walked in comfortable silence, and it wasn't long before Jace sought entry into her mind. It was as if someone had given a polite, inquisitive knock against a door in her head, and Vraska opened that door happily for him. Their minds flooded together, each wrapping the other in warmth and comfort. Physical contact might not be the most enjoyable thing, but she was never going to stop loving these mental embraces.
Jace caught a fading tremor within the gorgon's mind, a smudge of darkness that had been her nightmare, shrinking rapidly as they walked, as they breathed and they lived with what felt almost like one singular consciousness. His own dream of terror, pain, and guilt was fading to the back of his mind too.
They both bore scars that could and couldn't be seen, and who knew how many more experiences like this they would have, on top of the countless ones already past. But they were together. They had each other. And they would prevail.
Nothing bad had better happen to this precious pair in the upcoming Ravnica storyline. I will throttle Bolas with my bare hands...
That's it for this one-shot. I hope you all enjoyed!