Stuck With You - Chapter 3

Frit. Firedrake's shoulder matched Blythe's hands exactly. The rainbows even shifted colors at the same speed, whatever that meant.


Chapter 3
Winter 456, three years ago

Firedrake's new roommate shook the wagon as she strode across the floor with aggravatingly heavy footsteps. There couldn't possibly be anything left for her to poke and prod that she hadn't already noticed on her first twelve passes. Their new home was small and outdated, with only one main room and a tiny washroom behind a door that sat crooked in its frame. With a sink that only ran cold water, a stove with a single burner, a lone wooden chair that looked like it would collapse if someone so much as leaned on it, two loft beds that sagged in the middle and also at both ends, and a few dusty windows, there wasn't much to explore. She'd already claimed the one blank wall for her collection of knives despite Firedrake owning just as many dance props that needed to be stored and the wall having more than enough space for both. It wasn't as though either of them possessed more than what they'd carried. The cabinets beneath their beds remained mostly empty, although the dust bunnies had waged a fierce battle before Firedrake vanquished them with an old rag they'd found under the sink.

Firedrake wasn't new to the concept of roommates. They'd had one or two they begrudgingly put up with, but Blythe took the proverbial cake. She was disruptive, bossy, and had opinions about everything. So far they'd argued over which side of the wagon got the most light (it was a wagon, any side got the most light depending on how it was parked), about the adjustments Firedrake wanted to make to the cabinets so that they could climb up to their bunk without needing to stand on that rickety chair (it was all well and good for her that she could dust the support beams without effort), and over how she wanted the windows open for fresh air (no matter how dingy it was inside, it was winter for Petra's sake). Firedrake couldn't open their mouth without her jumping down their throat. If there was once thing Firedrake hated, it was being silenced.

This was why Firedrake was determined to drive her away.

Blythe stopped pacing and made the most obnoxious sniffing noise Firedrake ever heard. "What's that smell?"

Firedrake didn't look up from filing their nails and counted on their long hair to cover their smirk. "I'm sure I have no idea."

They snuck a peek at their watch. Forty-nine minutes. If she didn't grab her stuff and run back to wherever she came from within the hour, Firedrake would go out and buy a hat for the exact purpose of eating it.

"Are you sure? I'm positive it smells like smoke. Are you cooking something?"

She was right, at least in a way. Firedrake was cooking something. They checked to make sure the box of matches was safely hidden in their pocket before asking, "How could I be? You've been blocking the path to the stove since we moved in."

Blythe let out a "hmph" sound and went back to sniffing. Firedrake watched the second hand run a few laps. If she didn't catch on soon, they were going to have to say something. They wanted to drive her away, not burn down their home. Ramshackle though it was, it was still better than a few of the dumps Firedrake had lived in. It had potential if they could remove this one particular nuisance.

Just as Firedrake was about to start a literal game of hot-and-cold, she grabbed the smoldering pillow from her bunk and hurled it to the floor. Firedrake couldn't help cackling as she stomped up and down on it, covering the floor in singed feathers. That would teach her to disregard what they had to say. Maybe now she'd-

Blythe had Firedrake pinned against the wall by the shoulders before they knew what was happening. How could someone slipping on feathers lunge that quickly? Firedrake prided themself on their dexterity and grace, but she'd come out of nowhere.

She lifted Firedrake higher as they struggled to get their feet back on the ground. Her voice was a sharp hiss to match the sharp scowl of her eyes when she said, "You idiot. Are you trying to get us kicked out of the troupe?"

The knobs of the cabinet dug sharply into Firedrake's back as they twisted in her grip. They hadn't planned for this to happen. Blythe was supposed to feel unwelcome and leave. She was the healer's apprentice-- she wasn't supposed to pick fights!

Blythe's eyes flickered from Firedrake's face over to their shoulder. Perhaps this meant she realized how tight her grip was and she would finally drop them. When she voiced a quiet "Oh frit," Firedrake turned their head.

Frit was right. The black soul-mark on Blythe's hand had partially blossomed into a pulsating rainbow. She gave Firedrake another shove. "No. No, no, no! Not you!"

Firedrake landed in an undignified heap at her feet when she yanked her hands away. Without bothering to stand, Firedrake tugged their shirt down over their shoulder and prayed that half of Blythe's hands still being black meant this was a fluke.

Frit. Firedrake's shoulder matched Blythe's hands exactly. The rainbows even shifted colors at the same speed, whatever that meant. To add to the damning evidence, Firedrake's other shoulder now balanced the first. There went half of Firedrake's wardrobe. After this there was no way they'd wear sleeveless tops again. This wasn't fair. Not only was Blythe a horrible roommate, she'd gone and made most of their costumes useless.

That horrible, colorful hand appeared in their vision. Firedrake batted it away. What, was she trying to make this worse by shoving it in their face?

"I'm trying to help you up, you dope."

Firedrake grumbled but allowed her to pull them up. With their feet tangled in their skirt, it was better than stumbling to regain their footing. Firedrake brushed their hair out of their face and glared at her. "What happens now? You throw me into more walls until the rest of my marks change color?"

Blythe crossed her arms over her chest, but her scowl had shifted into a more neutral expression. "Truce."

That wasn't the word Firedrake expected. A few curses, maybe a few insults... but a truce? "Only if I set the terms."

Blythe shrugged. "Only if I agree to them."

Firedrake was beginning to suspect that dealing with Blythe would be a little like walking on eggshells, but mostly like having themself as a roommate. No wonder she grated on every one of Firedrake's nerves. They thought for a moment or two about what kind of agreement they would find appealing. If they were going to be stuck with Blythe, they had no intention of making their own life more miserable. "If you don't toss me around like a ragdoll, I won't set anything else of yours on fire. We share the prop wall. I'll let you have the windows however you want, but from here on out anything else we agree on."

Blythe held out her hand. "It's a deal if you buy me another pillow."

Technically the pillow thing had been entirely her fault. Firedrake would let this slide for now because if this roommate thing didn't work out, one of them could always join up with a different carnival troupe once they reached Concordia. There was no actual rule that said soulmates needed to live together, right? With this thought and an escape plan or two running through their head, Firedrake took her hand.

- First Chapter / Next Chapter -

CONVERSATION

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