End of the Road, Buddy



Braig knew Dilan’s haunts almost better than his own in the years they guarded that castle from– who even cared at that point? The black spaces in Braig’s memories were getting pretty damn big these days, and he had a bad feeling about what that meant.

Exit Braig, enter Luxu, and who would ever believe him if he tried to warn them? As if he’d be that lucky.

“Dilan,” he called out to his old friend while Dilan stepped through the castle gates towards the city itself. They had shifts and time off, but it meant nothing to that overachiever. Braig knew he was out on one of his self-determined patrols that no one assigned or needed. Show off. Braig smirked, making his offer. “Looking for a little company?”

Even at a distance, it was clear how much of a difference there was between the two of ’em. They ate the same stuff at the orphanage and the barracks, but you wouldn’t know it. Looked like they fed the weak ones to Dilan.

He glanced to Braig, not exactly smiling so much as accepting his presence, but that was Dilan for ya. “Not quite, but I’ll make an exception.”

“Oh, I’m moved by your generosity,” Braig teased, hopping down from his perch on one of the taller stone walls by the castle. One of his haunts, as it turned out. He fell in beside Dilan, just another day on one of the patrols they didn’t have to do.

Usually, Braig did just about all the talking, but he wasn’t up to it. You’d think with his presence in his own body being a limited-time offer, he’d be all over that shit, but nah. Apparently not. For a good stretch, it was only them walking side by side in silence with the stupidly picturesque sunset that Radiant Garden always delivered.

“What’s wrong?” Dilan broke the silence and Braig looked his way, getting a one-sided skeptically raised eyebrow that wasn’t doing anything to cover the concern written on his face. If these cobbled streets were anything but perfectly level and empty, they’d both fall flat on their faces since they couldn’t be bothered to watch where they were going.

“Huh?” Braig paired that up with his best ‘what’s wrong with you’ look. He could probably blow this off and make Dilan drop it that way, and that was definitely the plan here. The one plan.

“We passed at least three things you could make fun of, and you said nothing.” Well, that plan flopped. Dilan had his smug, shit-eating grin on that Braig could sense in the air if he had to. Braig rolled his eyes at him, but that didn’t stop his friend for a second. “Must be serious.”

“Nah, it’s nothing.” He brushed it off with a vague sweeping gesture. Just Braig’s soul in the balance and he was losing “Just thinking.”

“That’s new.” There it was again, that attitude and arrogant smile. What the hell had gotten into Dilan anyway? Seemed like he was determined to take up the mantle if Braig was gonna slack off. Hell, who was he kidding? He brought out the worst in Dilan and they both loved it.

“Go fuck yourself,” Braig snapped back, laughing. They were quiet again and this time, Dilan just waited. He kept up the patrol gig as usual, violet eyes scanning the safe streets for any danger. Maybe a stray leaf or pebble that erred onto the path, who knew? He busied himself while he waited for Braig to come around, and that bastard was always this patient. Had to be to deal with Braig. He sighed, shrugging, and finally answered. Sort of. “Just feeling lucky. Not like that, you pervert.”

Dilan chuckled, and that was enough of a reply for Braig, at least.

“We came into this world with nothing, and I’m a huge asshole.” That was more of an observation than anything, setting the scene for what he was working up to. It wasn’t much of a goodbye, but it was better than nothing. “You didn’t have to stick with me, dragging me along in a lotta cases. But you did, and I’d probably still have jack shit if not for you.”

That was their first awkward silence in years. Dilan wasn’t a man of a many words, but he sure as shit didn’t hold back. Braig shoved both hands in his pockets and kept a vigilant eye on the other side of the street in a last ditch effort to pretend none of that just happened.

“Are you drunk?” Dilan wasn’t even kidding that time, he really just thought⁠— well, of course he did, Braig was a lovey, two-faced drunk that would hug someone to pick their damn pocket.

“No! You know what, I’m taking it back.” Braig shook his head, kicking himself for even trying this dumb ‘goodbye forever, nice knowing you’ thing. No one was even gonna notice he was gone.

Dilan dropped it there, noticeably less attentive to his route than normal. They were halfway back to the castle now anyway, so Braig just stuck with him. It’d be exactly the same distance no matter what. He wasn’t counting how long it was before Dilan spoke up, but it was a hell of a relief when he broke the silence again. “Thanks.”

“Don’t get used to it.” Braig answered flatly, the closest either of them would get to something heartfelt. Probably for the best. Never could trust your heart. It’d steer you wrong every time.

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