Disclaimer: I don't own Eragon or anything associated with the Inheritance Cycle.
Claimer: I, SussieKitten, own this plot and the story. Borrow or steal my plot, my original characters or story and I will report you. I also own my version of Saphira's human appearances.
Warnings: Male homosexuality. Female homosexuality. Heterosexuality. Corny humour. If any of this disturbs you, click on the "back" button. I won't tolerate any flames.
A/N This chapter has been years and years in the making. I can't excuse it. I just haven't been able to write on it, I guess. Until this year.
As always, all my love goes out to the people that are still reading these old things of mine. You guys are the best. :)
And also be warned; this is self-betaed.
NOW I'VE SEEN IT ALL
Part Five; Touch Me
Eragon was a wreck by the time he and Saphira made it down to breakfast. There was something wrong with him; there had to be. Why else would he have agreed to subject himself to a day stuck with Tornac and Murtagh with no means of escape, also known as torture?
Eragon was close to just going back to bed and pretending last night had never happened. As it was, he had to make do with burying his head in his hands and try not to fall face first into his breakfast.
"If you really don't want to see them, I'll let you hide in our room," Saphira said.
"Thanks, Saph," he muttered into his hands. "But I can handle it." He paused. "I think."
Saphira patted his shoulder. "Only you, Eragon."
He looked up and frowned at her. "What's that supposed to mean?"
But Saphira just smiled at him and reached for her juice.
Aksel and Vanir didn't stumble downstairs until Eragon had to get ready to leave if he planned to make the rendezvous at all. Eragon took one look at them and decided he didn't want or need to know why they'd been late.
"Mornin', guys," Aksel said and beamed at them.
Vanir – never one for words before his morning coffee(s) – simply reached for the complimentary can at the table and poured himself a cup. He then immediately downed it.
Eragon looked away and shuddered.
"Morning," Saphira said, sounding amused. "Did you sleep well?"
"A-mazingly," Aksel said. "I'm marryin' that bed. Just ya watch me."
"We may be in another country," Saphira said, eyes sparkling, "but I'm pretty sure you can't do that."
"Yeah?" Aksel puffed up. "Show me. Show me the law that says I cannot marry that bed. Only that'll deter me."
"I'm not staying with you in this country any longer than I have to," Vanir said into his coffee. "It baffles me that people can live here."
Saphira's lips were twitching. "It's the sun, isn't it?"
Vanir gave them a dead-stare. "What gave it away," he said flatly.
Eragon had to bite his lip to keep from pointing out the sun-burn Vanir no doubt must have started accumulating the day before. Aksel had asked him to be nice to his boyfriend and dammit if he wasn't going to at least try.
Eragon cleared his throat and got up from the table. "Well, I guess I'd better be off."
Aksel blinked up at him. "Where're you goin'?"
Eragon willed himself not to blush. "Sight-seeing."
Saphira pressed her lips together tightly. She was clearly trying not to laugh. Eragon appreciated the effort.
Aksel perked up. "Oh hey, cool!" He turned to Vanir. "Wanna do that later?"
Vanir, who had only just refilled his mug, paused in lifting it to let out what could only be called a moan of despair.
"I'll see you guys later," Eragon said before Aksel could do something else, like ask if they could tag along with him. "I have my phone in case anything comes up."
Saphira smirked at him. "I'm sure we'll manage without you."
Eragon glared at her.
Saphira waved him off cheerfully.
Eragon's phone buzzed by the time he reached the lobby. He didn't have to check it to know he'd gotten a text and who it was from.
But seriously, Saphira's text said. Let me know if you need saving.
Eragon shook his head and typed out a reply as he headed out of the hotel.
I will. Have fun with the lovebirds without me.
Her reply came what felt like a split-second later. And the same to you~
Eragon blushed and shoved his phone back into his pocket. His friends were menaces, every one of them.
::Seen It All::
Having previous experience with Tornac and Murtagh made it easy to wonder whether 'sight-seeing' had actually been meant as a euphemism.
As it turned out, it hadn't been.
Tornac talked excitedly as they wandered around, genuinely excited to be taking in the sights. Murtagh was a half-step behind with something that looked like a smirk on his face, only softer. And the more Tornac talked and Murtagh quipped in return, the more Eragon worried he was going to feel left out.
But he never did.
For every inside-joke that Murtagh made, Tornac was more than happy to take a moment to explain it – even if it was a story that embarrassed him. And for ever come-on, the other either played dumb or said something along the lines of 'How come you never do this when we're alone? I guess it's all just for show' or 'Ah-ah, remember the rules. Company equals PG-appropriate behaviour.'
Even though Eragon had known Murtagh and Tornac were...unique, there was something different about them in the daylight. Something less explicit, perhaps, even though their body-language and banter was barely toned down. They were so comfortable with each other that it often brought back memories Eragon preferred to only think about when he was alone. Like when they leaned into each other, like two halves of a whole, or Tornac snuck a kiss because he could.
And then there were the times when they were joking, if one knew them well enough to see the difference.
Like Murtagh turning his nose up at something Tornac had obviously said and fighting back a smirk as Tornac stumbled over himself to backtrack, even though Tornac's eyes were sparkling. It was almost distracted Eragon from everything Reavstone had to offer.
But only almost.
Reavstone, being a beautiful coastal city, was full of activities and amenities associated with it. There was scuba-diving, surfing, stunning beaches and long promenades overlooking the water. Murtagh and Tornac, however, seemed to prefer the historical spots over the usual tourist hang-outs and Eragon didn't mind that at all.
"And here," Tornac said, talking and gesturing like he'd somehow become a tour-guide overnight, "we have what remains of Reavstone castle."
Eragon had to shield his eyes from the sun when he tipped his head to look up at what remained of a large turret.
The castle had clearly started to crumble a long time ago, but the limestone remained almost as striking as it must have been the day the castle had finally been completed. Some of the roofing was coming down and a few of the arches were missing a couple of stones, but it was still beautiful.
Eragon pulled out his phone and started to take pictures.
"Did you know, the city gets its name from -"
"Let me guess, the reefs just off the coast?" Murtagh cut in, voice dry like the Hadarac desert.
Eragon looked over in time to see Tornac pout. "You never let me have any fun."
"That's not what you said last night," Murtagh delivered right on cue.
Tornac rolled his eyes, but there was a smile fighting to break free. "You're incorrigible."
Eragon tried not to laugh.
"Did the royal house in Surda ever use this castle?" Eragon asked.
Tornac perked up even as Murtagh groaned. "There are no official records," he said, "but historians speculate that it was a vacation home for some nobility or the royal line until about five hundred years ago."
"So, the actual answer is 'we have no fucking idea,'" Murtagh deadpanned even though there was a family of four within earshot and he knew about it.
The parents quickly started pulling the children away, but not fast enough for Eragon to miss hearing the youngest asking what 'fucking' was.
Tornac put a hand over his eyes. "I can't take you anywhere."
Murtagh pushed his shades up his nose and smirked. "You're welcome."
Eragon put away his phone before he could be tempted to take a picture he might come to regret.
Tornac shook his head and turned to Eragon. He opened his mouth and then closed it again, clearly mulling something over. He tilted his head and asked, "Hey, have you seen the cliffs?"
Eragon blinked. "Cliffs?"
Murtagh rolled his eyes skyward as Tornac perked up. "Oh, here we go."
::Seen It All::
The cliffs over Reavstone were absolutely stunning. They were a nightmare to get to – Eragon completely agreed with Murtagh's comment on that one – but he thought they were worth the walk.
The cliffs were on the west of Reavstone. The heart of the city was downhill and close to the calmer waters that had formed the beautiful beaches Reavstone was known for. But if you left the city proper and made your way across the tip of land that Reavstone rested on, eventually you reached the dramatic White Cliffs of Reavstone.
Eragon was still panting by the time they finished the climb, but he didn't mind it at all. The ocean looked impossibly blue where the ground cut away to reveal striking white cliff-sides. It was tempting to go right up to the edge and look around, even though every notice-board they'd seen so far had warned about not walking too close. The danger of falling was very real.
"It's breath-taking, isn't it?" Tornac said.
Eragon managed to look away from the view long enough to really look at Tornac. Eragon's eyes flickered between Tornac and what looked to be his line of sight.
"What," he asked, "the view or Murtagh?"
Tornac chuckled. "You may be joking about that, but there are times when I wonder why he gave me the time of day."
Eragon frowned. "Does he know that?"
Tornac laughed louder. "Are you kidding? Why do you think he's so hard on me? I told him once and he's never let me live it down."
"Are you talking about how I'm too good for you?" Murtagh called over. He'd abandoned them to walk close enough that he could probably stare right down at the waves below like the maniac Eragon was starting to think Murtagh was. He didn't even look back to shout, "Because if you are, your ass is mine tonight!"
Tornac's lips twitched. "Case in point."
Eragon looked around a little desperately, but it didn't look like the other tourists were close enough to hear them. "You guys really have no filter, huh?" he said, blushing.
Tornac just smiled. "Pretty much not."
"Tornac was born without them," Murtagh said as he re-joined them. "Believe me when I say it was easier to join in than try to install some in him."
"There is absolutely nothing wrong with talking about consensual sex between adults," Tornac started to say, and the eye-roll Murtagh came with hinted at this being a topic that had been covered before. "I don't see why it's such a taboo in society today. Especially when some people seem perfectly content to make racists, sexist or even outright jokes about rape. Nothing I say is overly explicit and always comes from a place of love, unlike other people's hate and ignorance."
"Aw, babe, you like me that much? That's embarrassing," Murtagh drawled.
Tornac just shook his head fondly. "We've been together for two years and five weeks," he said, but he was smiling.
Murtagh smirked. "Still."
Eragon left them to their flirting to take a few more pictures of the view and the cliffs. He even dared to take a couple of steps closer to the edge just to get a better shot of the white stone against the stunning green grass and the crystal blue waves.
They were still flirting by the time he made it back. Tornac was practically purring in Murtagh's ear, which Murtagh apparently seemed to find hilarious.
"This is where Aksel would say 'relationship goals,'" Eragon couldn't keep himself from saying.
Tornac perked up and turned towards him. "Yes, how long has he been dating -"
"- that charming young man?" Murtagh shot in. "Is that what you were going to say? Because you would've been mispronouncing giant stick in the mud."
Tornac patted Murtagh's arm. "Harsh."
"But accurate," Eragon said dryly. "Vanir's idea of fun is examining microscopic dirt samples." At the blank stares he got, he felt compelled to elaborate. "He's getting his PHD in geology. I can't remember which specialisation exactly, but," he shrugged.
"Nerd," Murtagh couched into his fist.
Tornac swatted him.
"Well, no one said you had to date him," Eragon said and wandered off in another direction, leaving the two stunned men behind.
Hmm, maybe he could get a picture of Reavstone from the cliffs. That would be cool.
Tornac started laughing behind him. Eragon's lips twitched as well.
::Seen It All::
There was another height closer to city centre that Tornac promised was worth the trek up yet another hill. After having been bribed with going to lunch somewhere Tornac swore there'd be no tourists, Eragon let himself practically be pulled up the hill.
Eragon was close to calling it quits when they finally reached the top. If anyone had told him he'd be walking this much during his trip to Reavstone, he would have thought they were crazy. Who went to a beach town towalk?
Eragon, apparently. He blamed his present company.
He forgave them as soon as he caught his breath and looked up to see if the view really was everything Tornac had promised him. He promptly lost his breath again.
"Pretty cool, huh?" Tornac said from somewhere next to him.
"You can see the reefs from here," Eragon heard himself say.
Anyone who did their research knew that the reefs were clustered just off-shore from the main beaches of Reavstone. But it was hard to see them from the city proper as the land went up in a very gentle slope. It was not until you reached drastic heights, Eragon assumed, that you could actually see the reefs.
Or, of course, you rented scuba-diving gear and went right to them.
"This is not the touristy up-close-and-personal look most people go for when they visit Reavstone," Tornac said, "but I think it's so much better. You just don't get the scale of it when you're in the water."
"There's also less sharks," Murtagh said and Eragon could hear him smirking.
"Ok, listen here!" Tornac said and Eragon could see him gesturing out of the corner of his eye.
He'd turn to get the full effect of whatever was going on, but it was hard to look away from the white sandy beaches, the crystal-clear water and the striking reefs lurking just beneath. He quickly took a couple of pictures before the thought slipped his mind.
"Sharks are water puppies," Tornac was saying in the background. "They don't attack unless provoked and they are only really attracted to people if there's blood in the water. And it really isn't their fault that they investigate things by biting them. That's evolution's fault, not theirs."
"You don't have to tell me," Murtagh said and Eragon could hear he meant it. "I've heard this spiel before, remember? The last time being when you saw that Spielberg interview?"
"I'm just so glad he finally came out and apologised for it," Tornac said with a huff.
"You know they're making this, like, mega shark movie soon, right?" Eragon said, glancing over at them.
Tornac groaned like it pained him. "I know," he whined. "I hate it so much already."
Murtagh patted his shoulder. "Come on. Let's go get you some food. You sound cranky."
"I'll show you cranky," Tornac said, but it was half-hearted at best.
::Seen It All::
They stopped for a late lunch at a small café hidden away in a corner of the city. It was a little cramped, with mismatched tables and chair and was filled with all sort of knick-knack. There was a scent of coffee and pastries in the air. Eragon fell in love right away. He almost didn't want to leave after trying their croissants.
Pastry was not supposed to be addictive, but somehow that little café managed to pull it off.
The next place Tornac and Murtagh took him to came as a surprise, compared to where they had been so far.
"The aquarium?" Eragon looked at them. "Really?"
"All right, hear me out," Tornac said, raising his hands. "The ticket-prices are actually pretty decent and they have a tunnel that takes you under the ocean itself, not just a fancy tank they've constructed to show off the local fauna."
"There's also gay penguins," Murtagh said with a shrug.
Eragon blinked at him. "Penguins? Here?"
"Well, there's a conservation zoo further inland, closer to the capitol, with other sorts of wild-life," Tornac said. "But most of the marine life conservation is on display here."
"No one said it made sense," Murtagh said dryly.
"But we have to check on them," Tornac said decisively. "The aquarium's social media said their egg hatched and I have to see the hatchling."
"This is why people think you're the younger one of us two," Murtagh said and put his hand on the small of Tornac's back. "Your infatuation with baby animals."
"No, he's clearly the oldest," Eragon shot in. "Can't you hear his biological clock ticking?"
There was a silence before both of them starting laughing.
"I like you," Tornac said fondly. "I'm keeping you."
"No, Tornac," Murtagh drawled, but he was smirking, "we don't keep people. Remember?"
"No," Murtagh said, but he sounded fond. He put an arm around Tornac's shoulder and started pulling him along towards the entrance.
Eragon slipped his hands into his pockets and tagged along.
::Seen It All::
The inside of the aquarium was full of colours and promised a lot of interesting exhibitions to visit. Eragon could give Tornac that. From what Eragon could hear and see, it clearly had visitors. It luckily didn't seem too over-crowded, even though it was by now well into the day. That was promising.
The level of enthusiasm on display, however...
"Hello gentlemen," the beaming woman at the information desk practically chirped when she saw them. "How can I help you?"
Eragon could've sworn he saw Murtagh's spirit leave his body at the sight of her. Or maybe he was just practicing his dead-eyed stare.
"Three tickets, please," Tornac said. Somehow he seemed immune to the cheer.
"Of course," she said. "Two adults and one child?"
Eragon took a practiced breath. "Three adults, please," he corrected before Tornac or Murtagh could try. He pulled out his ID on autopilot and showed it to her.
She blinked owlishly at it. She looked between Eragon and the card at least three times before giving a slightly wobbly smile. "Of course. I'll print those for you right away."
Tornac was handing over enough money to pay for all the tickets before Eragon could offer to pay for himself.
Murtagh scooted over and slid himself over to stand between Eragon and the information desk. Eragon could hear the woman say something to them, but it got lost when he was promptly whisked away from there.
"Does that happen to you a lot?" Tornac asked once they were far enough away. He was frowning slightly.
"Only every time I'm at a bar," Eragon said. He knew he sounded tired and didn't really care. "Or a club. Or a liquor store. Or I want to cash in the scratch-tickets my parents give me around Christmas."
Tornac blinked at him.
"I think it's my face." Eragon gestured at it. "I've been told it's very...youthful."
"But to be taken for a child?" Tornac sounded baffled.
Eragon shrugged. "It's not the first time. The closer the minimum age is to eighteen, the more problems people seem to have to place me in my age-bracket." He sighed. "Honestly, sometimes I wish my face was different."
"Well, everyone can fuck off," Murtagh said bluntly. "I like your face the way it is."
Eragon blushed. "Thanks."
"You know what," Tornac said and put an arm around both their shoulders. "I came here for the sharks and the gay penguins." He shook them lightly. "I think it's time we get with the program."
And then they were off. Eragon almost stumbled over his own feet in his hurry to keep up.
::Seen It All::
Eragon could give Tornac another thing. The gay penguins were really cute. Not as cute as the hatchling, but still cute.
"I need one," Tornac said with his nose practically pressed up against the glass.
Murtagh still looked fond when he said, "No."
The underwater tunnel, as Tornac had promised, was amazing. Eragon had been to aquariums before and a lot of the tunnels there seemed almost too artificial. It made it more difficult to appreciate the awe of a sting-ray swimming by overhead.
He had no such problems with this one. He was so captivated by a pair of dolphins that he nearly ran into one of the walls when there was an unexpected bend in the tunnel.
Murtagh thankfully didn't say anything. He just put an arm around Eragon and steered him away from the walls.
Eragon wasn't sure how long they spent in the aquarium, but it was surely hours later by the time they finally made it to the souvenir shop on their way out. And Tornac, in what Eragon suspected was true Tornac fashion, was completely unfazed about buying a penguin plushie.
"I'm surprised you didn't go for the shark," Eragon said.
"Oh, I have one at home," Tornac said and smiled. "I didn't have a penguin, though."
"Great," Murtagh said dryly. "Now Kyle can have a friend."
Eragon frowned. "Kyle?"
"Kyle the Killer-whale," Murtagh said. He sounded fairly neutral about the subject, all things considered. "We also have Terry the Tortoise, Olive the Octopus, Hammie the Hammer-shark, Steve the Seahorse -"
"Peggy," Tornac said firmly. "I've decided that's the penguin's name."
"And now Peggy," Murtagh added. "We're a regular Brady Bunch."
It was none of Eragon's business what Tornac and Murtagh did in their spare time, even if that was hunting down animal plushies and adopting them. "I'm happy for you?" he tried. Because he had to say something, so they didn't think he was weirded out. Right?
Tornac pulled him in and kissed the side of his head. "You're adorable."
Eragon groaned. "I am not."
"We've seen you naked," Murtagh said and didn't even blink when Eragon heard himself let out the sound of a dying whale. "We get to be the judges of that."
"And guess what?" Tornac was smiling. "Verdict's in."
"You're adorable." Murtagh clapped Eragon's shoulder. "Congrats. Here's your price."
Eragon blinked at the stick of gum that had suddenly found its way into his hand.
Tornac gave Murtagh a tired look. "Really? That's all you got?"
"I'm not about to carry chocolate around in this heat, now am I?" he drawled. "I'm not stupid."
"And definitely not romantic," Tornac deadpanned.
"Well, you know what they say," Murtagh said and smiled. It was faintly terrifying. "Romance is dead."
But Tornac only shook his head and put an arm around Murtagh's neck. "You're lucky you're cute," he said and kissed Murtagh's cheek.
"You mispronounced hot."
Tornac hummed. "No, I didn't."
Eragon made himself look away when he saw Murtagh diving in for a kiss. He also made himself keep the blush at bay when the familiar sounds started up.
"Come on," Tornac said some amount of time later. It was probably less than a minute, but it felt longer. "I'm starving."
"You're always hungry," Murtagh drawled, but there was a smirk at the corner of his mouth.
Tornac gasped. "There is no need to be crude."
"Who said anything about being lewd?" Murtagh cocked an eyebrow. "That was all you, Tornac." He tsk'ed. "Such a filthy mind."
Tornac swatted after him, but Murtagh just danced away laughing.
::Seen It All::
Dinner was food from a food-truck down by the promenade. Tornac swore by it, and judging by the line out front there was probably something to that.
After finishing what had to be the best taco Eragon had ever tasted, it was Murtagh that suggested they walk along the water back towards the hotel. Tornac immediately went with the idea and pulled Eragon along before Eragon could even give the idea some thought.
Eragon wasn't surprised when the beach was relatively empty so far into the day. Most people disappeared off the beach well before the dinner hours to wash off sand and the smell of sun-screen. And when people started coming back, they stuck to the promenade. Only a few other people were sitting along the beach or, like Eragon, Tornac and Murtagh, walking along the water's edge.
A little further ahead, two young women were running around each other and giggling loudly. As Eragon watched, one of them caught the other and lifted her in the air. One of them shrieked, but it was clearly in good fun when they, only a few moments later, tumbled over and ended in a tangle of limbs that turned into a loving embrace.
Eragon looked away with a blush.
"Ah, youth," Tornac said with a smile in his voice.
"You say that like you're old," Murtagh said. "Not to say that you aren't -"
The beach was speckled with small stones and shell-fragments that were harder to see when the sun wasn't shining down directly at them. That didn't stop Eragon from trying to see if there was anything that caught his eye.
Eragon stopped to pick up a smooth stone. He turned it over in his hand and stroked it with his thumb.
"Nice find," Tornac said, leaning in closer.
Eragon smiled at him. "I think I'll keep it."
Tornac smiled and nudged him gently. "You should. Mementos are nice."
Murtagh rolled his eyes and kept walking.
"Oh, don't mind him," Tornac said and patted Eragon's back. "He thinks everything is a dig at him."
"It's not paranoia if someone is out to get you!" Murtagh called back.
Tornac just shook his head.
Eragon looked between the two of them. "Is this about the gum?"
Up ahead, Murtagh threw his hands up like he could hear them.
Eragon stopped a few more times to inspect a few other rocks and shell-fragments. Luckily Tornac and Murtagh – once he re-joined them – didn't seem to mind.
The evening was starting to fall by the time they arrived back at the hotel.
"So," Tornac said, "this is where we leave you."
Eragon turned back to look at them.
"It seems a shame to say goodbye."
"Oh, I'm sure we'll see each other again," Eragon heard himself say and promptly wanted to hit himself. Of course they were going to see each other again. For one, he had a job that meant he regularly had to deal with people. And two, he wasn't leaving for another couple of days. A lot could happen in a couple of days.
Tornac smiled like he understood what Eragon wasn't saying. "I'm sure."
"Oh, here." Eragon fumbled around in his pockets before he found what he was looking for. He handed one stone to Tornac – a small, but almost perfect orb – and another to Murtagh – a flat and slightly bigger one that was perfectly flat on both sides.
Murtagh and Tornac blinked at him.
"As a thank you." Eragon thumbed the final stone that he was keeping for himself. It had a hole in the middle. "I know it's not much, but -"
"Nonsense," Tornac said fondly. "Thank you."
"I shouldn't look too deeply into the fact that I got the flat one, right?" Murtagh said, though he was clearly kidding.
"Didn't you say you could skip stones?" Eragon bit his lip. "I figured -"
"I did," Murtagh interrupted. He closed his fingers around the stone. "And I'm sure as shit not skipping this one."
Eragon lost the battle to keep the blush at bay.
"Then I guess this one is for me because I just keep on rolling?" Tornac said teasingly.
Murtagh groaned like Tornac had physically injured him.
Tornac chuckled and turned to Eragon. "Well, I had a great time," he said, setting off warning bells in Eragon's head. "How about a hug for the road?"
Eragon frowned. "Sure?" It was weird that they hadn't asked for permission before touching him so far, but then a proper hug was different than an arm around his shoulders or being pulled along.
Or getting a kiss on the cheek.
Tornac smiled and opened his arms.
Eragon allowed himself to be hugged. He even went so far as to hug back.
Tornac ruffled his hair when he pulled back. "You really are so adorable," he said and blanched. "Not in a kid kind of a way, but like -"
"Like we've seen you naked and think you're super cute and also hot," Murtagh shot in and pulled Eragon into a quick hug. "Relax, Tornac. He knows what you meant."
Eragon refused point blank to ask why Murtagh had brought up the little 'and we've seen you naked' fact twice so far and focused instead on killing the blush that seemed unwilling to go away.
"But yeah, I had a great time too," Murtagh said and swiped his thumb over Eragon's cheek, right where the heat was at its worst.
"Yeah, me too," Eragon forced himself to say.
Murtagh's eyes were twinkling.
"I hope we can do this again sometime," Tornac said and linked his arm with Murtagh's.
"Yeah, sure," Eragon blurted. "Me too."
"Good night," Tornac said and started to pull Murtagh towards the hotel.
"G'night," Murtagh echoed, still smirking.
"Night," Eragon told them.
Eragon took a moment to stare after them before turning towards the ocean again. Something in him wanted to hang back so it didn't look like he was following them. Or maybe so he wouldn't walk in on something that wasn't his to witness. Either or.
::Seen It All::
"So?" Saphira attacked him as soon as he entered their room. "How was it?"
Eragon held up a hand. He kicked off his shoes and waddled over to his bed, then promptly fell in. He moaned in relief as soon as his feet was no longer on the ground.
"Well," Saphira said, "I'm going to go with good."
"It was," Eragon told the pillow. "Just, I'm done walking. Ever. I'm not walking again."
"Oh." There was a dip in the mattress when Saphira sat down by his head. "I think I read that the completely wrong way."
Eragon somehow managed to gather enough blood away from his throbbing feet to blush. "Not everything has to do with sex," he mumbled.
"Of course not," she said seriously. "But I feel like I know those two well enough to say that most things are. They're very...what's the word for it?" She paused. "Unselfconscious?"
Eragon made a sound of agreement.
"So what did you guys actually do, then, if hot sex wasn't on the menu?"
Eragon somehow managed to flop over on his back. "I hate you."
Saphira started to play with his hair. "No, you don't."
He groaned. "They made me walk, Saph."
She cocked an eyebrow at him. "Walk?"
"Oh, you poor thing," she said, and she was clearly mocking him.
"But they took me to some cool places." He fumbled with his pocket until he managed to get his phone out. "I got some nice pictures too," he said and handed it over to her.
Saphira immediately started going through his pictures. She 'oohed' and 'awwed' as she went, pausing now and then to zoom in. Then she stopped suddenly and giggled. "I guess you really wanted to take a picture of the view, huh?" she said, eyes gleaming.
Eragon frowned. "What?"
Saphira turned the phone around to show him what she was talking about.
Eragon promptly blushed and grabbed the phone out of her hands. "You weren't supposed to see that one!"
Eragon would have felt bad about the picture of Tornac and Murtagh hadn't practically begged him to take it. On the condition that he sent it to them after, of course, but they hadn't let up until he'd taken one of them kissing on the cliffs with the ocean behind them.
If one looked closely enough, there was a smile in the corner of Tornac's lips. And if Saphira had flipped to the next picture, she would have seen the aftermath of Tornac trying to pull Murtagh into a dipped kiss and failing spectacularly – largely because Murtagh had very deliberately tripped them up and walked off after, flipping Tornac off when he'd tried to call Murtagh back.
"And they couldn't have given you one of their phones to use?" Saphira asked after he told her why that picture existed on his phone.
Eragon blinked. They hadn't even suggested that at the time.
...Why hadn't they?
"I don't know," he said. "They never suggested it and I didn't think of it."
Saphira's eyes were sparkling when she smiled at him. "Uh-huh."
Eragon swatted at her. "It's true."
"Oh, I know," she hummed.
Eragon locked his phone and put it on the night-stand. "I'm too tied for this," he told her. "You can tell me or gloat or whatever tomorrow."
Saphira patted his head one last time. "All right," she said. "Sleep tight."
Eragon waved a hand at her, but fell asleep before he could actually say it back.
::Seen It All::
Eragon was sorethe next day. Muscles he didn't know he had were aching. Muscles he was fairly sure didn't existwere aching. If he'd seen Tornac and Murtagh at breakfast, he would have had a few choice words to say to them.
It was hard to believe that they only had two days left in Reavstone. It felt like they'd arrived only the day before and now it wasn't long until they had to start packing.
In light of Eragon's aches, the others conceded to spend the day at the beach. They still had one more day to explore if they wished, so it wasn't like relaxing by the ocean was going to feel like a waste of their time. They rented a couple of beach parasols and got themselves nicely situated before most of the beach crowd could show.
Eragon found a spot under one of the parasols, put down his towel and promptly decided he was never going to move again.
"I can't believe you're going to come back from a beach vacation as pasty as you were when you went," Saphira said, but she sounded amused.
"You know I don't tan, Saph," Eragon said and stretched out as best he could. "I burn."
"And it's a real travesty," Saphira said and patted the top of his head.
Eragon pouted up at her.
"I don't know 'bout you lot, but I'm goin' into the water," Aksel said and ran off.
Vanir pinched the bridge of his nose.
"Shouldn't you go and watch him?" Saphira said teasingly.
"He is a grown man," Vanir drawled.
"Woops, sorry!" Aksel's voice rang out.
Vanir's eye twitched. "Though he sometimes struggles to remember it."
Eragon tried very hard not to laugh.
"Here." Saphira held out a bottle of the highest SPF that Eragon had slathered all over himself before even daring to step a foot outside.
The bridge of his nose was faintly red from walking around all day yesterday, same with his forearms. He wasn't about to take any chances with today.
"I know you burn like a peach too," Saphira said, batting her eyes innocently.
Vanir scowled at her, but grabbed the bottle nonetheless.
Even though Eragon wanted to laugh, he held himself back. "Isn't it bruise like a peach?"
Saphira shrugged. "I don't know a good one about being prone to sunburns, so I made something up."
Vanir snorted. He finished with the lotion in record time and jammed the sunglasses back on his face. "If you will excuse me," he said stiffly before stalking off in the direction Aksel had gone.
"He really needs to loosen up a bit," Saphira said as she made herself comfortable next to Eragon.
"I'm sure he does," Eragon said, even though he wasn't sure at all, "you know, when it's just Aksel and him. He probably doesn't like being around so many people or something."
Saphira looked at him.
"That was very insightful of you," she said.
Eragon frowned. "Thanks?"
She smiled at him. "I'm so glad you've actually decided to give Vanir a chance."
Eragon – very reluctantly – forced himself into a seated position so he could rummage through his bag better. "I mean, I guess it was time." He pulled out the book he'd brought with him and his sunglasses. "Aksel clearly likes him. Like, a lot. I figure he's here to stay." He sighed. "And if Aksel likes him, he probably isn't all bad." He paused. "Probably."
Aksel and Vanir returned a couple of minutes later. Aksel, that lucky bastard, got a tan if he so much as looked out the window. Being in Surda for a whole week was definitely agreeing with him. He's clearly gotten into the ocean at some point, because he was wet from head to toe and beaming.
Vanir, on the other hand, had gotten splashed at some point and his face wasn't shy about expressing the hatred of his very existence on this earth.
"You guys gotta try the water later," Aksel said as he flopped down on his towel. "It's amazin'."
"I'm heading out in a bit," Saphira said.
Eragon fiddled with his bookmark and shrugged. "We'll see. Maybe if it gets cloudier."
Aksel sent him a sympathetic look before flopping down and waiting for the sun to dry him off.
Considering Murtagh and Tornac were in the same town as them – the same hotel, even – Eragon knew it wasn't inconceivable that he'd see them again before they left.
Of course, knowing and seeing were two different things.
He almost missed them, as they arrived with a lot of other beach goers. But between one moment and the next, it quickly became clear that it wasn't just that the people a few towels over looked familiar – they werefamiliar.
Eragon nearly swallowed his tongue when Tornac stripped off his shirt and turned so his back was to them. And then Murtagh started to rub lotion on him.
Eragon quickly buried his nose in his book before things could get worse.
"Wait, is that?" Saphira said to his right.
"No way, man!" Aksel said far louder than Eragon thought was necessary. "What are the odds?"
"Of vacationers taking advantage of a nearby beach?" Vanir said dryly. "What indeed."
"Eragon, look who's here," Saphira said and poked at his shoulder.
"I saw them," he mumbled under his breath.
"I see," she said after what was clearly a pointed pause.
Eragon frowned and glanced over at her.
Saphira's eyes were sparkling in an unfortunately familiar way. "You're trying to hide from them."
"I'm not!" he hissed.
She batted her eyes at him. "Then why didn't you say you'd seen them?"
"Because -" Eragon started and made the mistake of glancing over at Tornac and Murtagh. And nearly swallowed his tongue when he saw that he was in time to catch Murtagh taking off his shirt in what had to be slow-motion.
"Hmmm," Saphira said. "He's not my type, but..." she slid her sunglasses down her nose, "I wouldn't kick him out of bed."
"Seriously, man," Aksel said, ogling shamelessly, "mazel tov."
Vanir scowled and put himself firmly in Aksel's line of sight.
Eragon held his book up higher in the hopes that it would cover his flaming cheeks. "Please don't."
"Congratulate ya on landin' those fine pieces of fish? No, I'm gonna," Aksel said.
"No one's landed anyone!" Eragon hissed.
"I mean..." Aksel trailed off, but Eragon refused to look up to see why.
"I am going to get a drink," Vanir snapped and got to his feet in a hurry. "Aksel, accompany me."
"Huh?" The next sound out of Aksel's mouth could only be classified as a yelp as Vanir pulled him upright and started to drag him off.
"Vanir really is lucky Aksel doesn't mind being manhandled," Saphira chose to say just as Eragon tried to take a sip of his drink.
Eragon spluttered and only nearly escaped choking to death.
"TMI," he told her.
"If I have to know," she said, "then so do you."
Eragon just whined under his breath and stuck his nose further into his book. Now he not only had to somehow avoid getting spotted by Tornac and Murtagh, he had to try to get several images out of his head.
::Seen It All::
"I can't believe you didn't at least go over there and say hello," Saphira said later that day as they sat down to dinner. She sounded faintly disappointed.
Eragon refused to ask her why. Of course, not asking wasn't going to stop Saphira from eventually telling him why, but it was the principle of the thing. He refused to fall further down the rabbit hole than he already had.
"They took you out on a nice little date and everything," Saphira continued and shook her head.
Aksel practically sprained his neck turning to look at her. "Date? What date?"
"When Eragon went sight-seeing," Saphira said with an angelic look on her face.
"That wasn't a date!" Eragon hissed. "That was them being nice. That's all."
Saphira let out a sound of disbelief that was far sassier than it needed to be, considering the circumstances. "They took you to lunch and dinner," she said.
Aksel's eyes widened.
"And they showed you all the sights around town," Saphira interrupted.
"They offered -"
"And then you walked down the beach together," Saphira continued.
"To get back to the hotel!" Eragon protested.
"Dude," Aksel said. "That's totes a date."
Eragon groaned and reminded himself that he was at a restaurant and therefore couldn't collapse face-first onto the table. They probably frowned upon that.
"They even exchanged gifts," Saphira said in a sing-song voice.
"They weren't gifts," Eragon protested even louder. "They were just stupid rocks."
"That they accepted and thanked you for," Saphira said with a smirk.
Aksel looked at him. "Hate to break it to ya, but that was totally -"
Eragon slapped a hand over Aksel's mouth. He didn't care that he had to lean across the table to do so. "Nope."
Vanir just looked tired. "Please remove your hand from my partner."
Aksel practically got hearts in his eyes. "You called me your partner," he said once his mouth was free.
Vanir did something with his face that Eragon was startled to realise was blushing. "Well," he said, not sounding nearly as put together as he usually did, "boyfriend is an immature term."
"Awww," Aksel said and kissed his cheek.
Vanir cleared his throat pointedly and turned back to the menu.
Aksel leaned against Vanir's shoulder before turning back to Eragon. "But seriously, that was so a date."
Eragon groaned. "I thought I told you not to."
"Eh," Aksel shrugged.
"Even I," Vanir drawled, much to Eragon's horror, "can admit that your excursion bears all the Hallmark staples of being a date."
"Well, thanks, but I never asked for comments from the peanut gallery," Eragon said and decided to start scrutinising his menu. While he loathed to copy Vanir, at least this way he didn't have to see the disappointment on Saphira's face or duck to avoid Aksel's eyes. And besides, he hadn't decided what he was going to order. Clearly he needed to get right on that.
Saphira sighed, but didn't say anything else.
Eragon slowly allowed himself to relax.
::Seen It All::
Preparing to leave Reavstone felt...weird. They'd only been there for a week, but it felt longer.
They'd spent the last day exploring the city, as Eragon's body hadn't been nearly as cruel to him that day. His legs were probably going to ache for a while, but at least he wasn't sore all over.
That being said, he wasn't looking forward to being cramped in a car for the long journey back. Whatever aches had faded away were probably going to flare up again just by looking at the car.
Eragon lingered in the lobby as they checked out of the hotel. A part of him wondered if he should try to contact Tornac and Murtagh to let them know he was leaving, but the other part of him didn't think it was a good idea.
Saphira looked at him and smiled in understanding. "We have time," she said. "You can go say goodbye if you want."
Eragon found himself shaking his head before he could decide what to do. "It's ok."
Saphira opened her mouth to say something, but Eragon sent her a desperate look. She sighed instead and shook her head. "All right."
He and Saphira had already checked out of their room. They were really just waiting for Aksel and Vanir to be done, then it was just a matter of getting on the road. Eragon was going over the route they'd taken down to Reavstone when he noticed that Saphira was looking at something behind him. He frowned and opened his mouth, but never made it there.
Eragon willed himself not to blush.
Saphira smiled at the people behind Eragon. "We'll give you a few minutes," she said before walking over to Aksel and Vanir.
Eragon had to count to three before he could make himself turn around. He was probably still blushing, but there was nothing he could do about it. He could just hope that Tornac and Murtagh would think he'd been burned by the sun and leave it at that.
"So," Tornac said, "you're leaving?"
"Yeah," Eragon said lamely. "It's Wednesday, so..."
Tornac chuckled. "That it is."
Eragon shifted on his feet and hoped he wasn't visibly holding onto his bag with a death-grip.
"Well," Tornac said when it became clear that no one else was going to say anything, "have a safe trip back."
"Thanks." Eragon licked his lips. "We're driving, so..."
"All the way back?" Tornac grimaced. "You have my sympathies."
"Thanks," Eragon said again.
"It was nice," Murtagh said, never once taking his eyes off Eragon, "to spend some more time with you."
Eragon lost the battle with the urge to blush.
"Yeah," he heard himself say. "Same to you."
Murtagh flashed a quick smirk at him.
"Here," Tornac said and held something out. "Something to remember us by."
Eragon held out his hand dumbly and could only gape at the sea-shell that Tornac deposited in his palm. It was beautiful. It wasn't overly big – nothing that someone couldn't easily find on the beach and take back on a whim – but the colours were so vibrant it was hard to believe they were deal.
"It's beautiful," he said and blinked up at them. "I can't take this."
Tornac smiled. "Of course you can."
"We have mementos of our own, after all," Murtagh reminded him. "It's only fair."
Eragon made to protest again, but his hand was already curling over the shell.
"Keep it," Tornac said softly.
He licked his lips again. "Ok." He hesitated. "Thank you."
Tornac pulled him into another hug. "You're welcome."
Murtagh slipped in as well and hugged him before Tornac could even let go.
Eragon hugged back as best he could without letting go of the shell or his bag. It had to feel awkward, but Murtagh and Tornac didn't seem to mind.
Tornac and Murtagh almost seemed reluctant to let him go. Even though a part of him was screaming that he knew why, Eragon refused to look deeper into it. That road lead to madness.
"Well," he said and fumbled with his bag until he opened a pouch enough to slip the sea-shell inside, "I'd better be off."
Murtagh put an arm around Tornac. "Be seeing you," he said.
Eragon smiled at them. "Yeah, sure."
"Bye," Tornac said.
Eragon waved like the dork he was before heading over to his friends as quickly as he could without making it seem like he was running away.
Saphira gave him a knowing look when she saw him. Eragon ignored it.
Something told him that the drive back was going to be quite different from the drive down, even if they didn't end up altering their route after all.
A/N Hope you enjoyed the chapter and I hope to see you all again soon with a new update. :)
In case you were wondering, I did indeed make a blatant reference to the White Cliffs of Dover in this chapter. I've modelled (the entirely fictional, as CP barely gave us any of Alagaesia/Surda's geography, topography and geology to go on) the cliffs in Reavstone after them. I wanted something striking and white to compliment the overall beach-theme I've introduced in the Reavstone chapters. Hence the reference.
I've never been to the White Cliffs of Dover myself, so you'll have to forgive me for being vague-ish about the comparison cliffs here.
And did I basically just send them on a long date all around Reavstone's made-up less touristy-spots? Well. You'll never catch me admitting it lol.
(And no, of course I didn't use the cliffs so I could blatantly make the "you know what's beautiful?" "no, what? Murtagh or the view?" "yes" exchange, no sir.)
I'm sussiekitten over on Tumblr if you want to keep up with my writing and any general life-posts I occasionally make. I mostly just reblog whatever I like, but Tumblr is where I talk about any fics I'm currently writing or are planning to update shortly.
But that is all for now. Until next time.