He never intended it to come to this. Kaveh wasn't sure when he realized that. Maybe it was while he was preparing dinner and waiting for Alhaitham to come home. Maybe it was when he woke up in his bed to sunlight streaming in through the window. Maybe it was when he saw the man reading on the sofa next to a model that Kaveh had left without a word.
It should be a temporary thing. It's nothing to get used to. Alhaitham didn't have to learn how to deal with it.
Kaveh cleaned up the model. Naturally. He even made dinner. Naturally. He woke up and got to work trying his best to get enough Mora to get out of this hole he created.
It should be temporary. Alhaitham's house would never be a home. Not after what happened between them. Not after all these years of silence. They were both aware of that fact, filling the space between them and creating a tense atmosphere every time they exchanged a word.
This was one of the reasons Kaveh signed up for this championship in the first place. Get the money, get the hell out of Alhaitham's life, break up. No more confusing and complicated stories to bother the writer. No more noise at night. No more bickering with the roommate, who probably would have been better off shutting up and being thankful for what he had but couldn't seem to contain himself. Kaveh has it in his head. Go out. Go out. Go out.
He hadn't expected it to take him this far. The darkness settled over him like a blanket, not a single speck of light could be seen. Drops fell on the cold stone floor with a rhythmic splash. And he couldn't breathe properly as the debris fell on him.
It wasn't his fault this time. The client assured him that he had obtained the correct permits for the area, showed them and personally promised that the area was safe. It wouldn't be like the palace incident. Of course it had been a lie.
His brain was clouded. Kaveh couldn't think of the precautions Tighnari had told him about cave-ins and being trapped in the jungle. How not to aggravate the situation. How to pull yourself together. How to breathe again.
Mehrak was nowhere to be seen. Kaveh had seen the small box hovering near the cave entrance, he could barely remember shouting an order to save himself. It was probably outside.
Maybe he wanted to ask for help. Find someone who can find out that Kaveh is missing. Assemble a rescue team.
It would take a while. and he wasThentired.
NO. NO. He could vaguely remember Tighnari's voice telling him that he had slept with certain injuries. Maybe it wasn't. But he wanted to survive and closing his eyes wasn't going to help. He tried to sit up slowly and felt the debris move. The next step felt like he was being crushed again. Kaveh stopped immediately, panting and watching the ceiling dance with color. When did she get colors?
It reminded him of the living room carpet. Alhaitham bought it just to be mean. Kaveh complained about the lack of decoration, so that same evening the clerk bought the ugliest carpet Kaveh had ever seen. A mess of contrasting colors that felt comfortable. When Kaveh replaced it, he stole it for his own room. He made it too. Given the terrible discrepancy between the stain colors, he designed his room to match it perfectly. Alhaitham even nodded when he saw him. Kaveh's chest got a little... hot after that.
Archons, when he got home he would fall on this carpet and never move again.
Kaveh stretched out his fingers. He let out a small sigh of relief as he felt them contract. He could still move. His arm was bent at an awkward angle and twisted above his head, but that meant he wasn't trapped. Truly a blessing.
There were no tools within reach. Maybe it was too much to ask, but Kaveh would take any luck he could get. Luck has never been on your side. The only thing within reach were more stones. Some of them were even spicy. Kaveh might bleed. He couldn't say.
What wouldn't he do if Tighnari was here to pull him out, scold him, and then send him home for a few more lectures? Cyno would make a terrible pun at the wrong time and Kaveh would be so relieved to see the sun again that he would laugh along for the first time. Collei might worry that he's laughing and ask Tighnari if he's really okay. The forester shook his head and finished them off. However, he chose his husband and daughter and would do it over and over again.
Kaveh's stomach clenched at the thought. He didn't know why, but he could have sworn he saw a flash of golden hair. An echo of a long forgotten melody. This was the last place he wanted to think of his mother.
He wasn't sure if he wanted to think about her.
His hands managed to grasp something that wasn't stone. A vine maybe? He couldn't see it in the total darkness, he couldn't see it because his head wasn't moving. All he knew was that his grip was weak and getting weaker.
The vine soon slipped from his hands. He tried to grab it again, but it must have moved. He couldn't find it again. No matter how hard he tried, nothing was within reach except for the sharp stones, which kept making his fingers ache.
He wished he could have her vision. His waist and chest were covered in debris, but if his waist was barely visible he might be able to see his vision. Maybe he could just have a little light. Just enough to light up the place.
Kaveh always thought he would die like this. on your head The end of a long line of stupid decisions. When it started? When did Alhaitham say it was all going downhill? He would be able to analyze it closely. He always managed to fix everything that went wrong in Kaveh's life.
But Alhaitham wasn't here. Honestly, Kaveh may not see him again. He wondered what would happen to his things. Kaveh never made a will. At first he didn't see the point. Of course he would go to his mother. So his mother moved far, far away and Kaveh stayed behind in Sumeru to live his own life. And then everything collapsed.
His roommate was closest to him. Wasn't it hilarious? They fought and fought every moment of the day and yet they knew each other better than anyone in the world. Yes, hilarious. A giant joke of the universe.
One that ended in a terrible joke. No more fights, right? Unless Alhaitham wanted to fight him from the grave. Bring your mind back to another round of philosophical discussions. NO. That wasn't his style. He didn't usually pick fights. At least not on purpose. He said something and Kaveh snapped back and next Kaveh went into his room to avoid the scribe while Alhaitham sat on the sofa reading because he wouldn't be forced to enter.extinguishCasa.
It could be at their house.
It could have been her home.
It would be Alhaitham's home at the end of the day anyway.
Kaveh closed his eyes.
Three hours. According to the case files, it took Collei this long to find Mehrak. Half an hour to get Cyno and Tighnari, half an hour to find the rubble of the cave, and Kaveh woke up in the sweet, sweet sunshine of the Sumeru jungle with Tighnari holding him.
It hurt a little to breathe, but that wasn't a cause for concern. It took much longer to convince Tighnari of that fact. Kaveh had to compromise by promising to check out when he got back to town. However, it could wait until the next day. Kaveh just wanted to rest now. Cyno listened as Kaveh explained the situation and nodded when the architect swore the builder had shown him the permits. Cyno just asked for the name. Kaveh willingly gave.
Collei looked the most frightened. Tighnari seemed more irritated than anything, but Collei was pale, her hands clasped and shaking. Kaveh smiled at her and promised that in future he would be more careful and have dinner on the weekends. After that she looked at least a little relieved. The trio escorted Kaveh back to the nearest street and let him make the rest of the journey home.
Mehrak was absolutely the hero of the story. Kaveh spoke to him on the way home. He knew the case might not understand him, but still. The thing earned its praise after managing to find help and follow them long enough to lead them to where it was. Without that, Kaveh wasn't sure where he would end up.
And for the first time, his keys were allowed to stay with him.
It was after sunset when Kaveh came home. He unlocked the door and groaned because his legs and arms ached. The room was pleasantly lit. Alhaitham sat on the sofa and read as he always did in the evenings. He didn't even bother to look up as Kaveh stumbled into the house.
Suddenly Kaveh realized something. "Alhaitham?" The scribe looked up and met his eyes. "I won't be able to pay the rent this month."
Alhaitham paused in his reading and kept his thumb on the book to record its location while he rested it on his lap. "I thought you were working."
“My contract just failed. Another farce.” Hopefully. If it were intentionally illegal, Cyno could give Kaveh the catharsis of personally wrapping his hands around the client... Kaveh cleared his throat. “Next month I'll pay twice as much if necessary. And I can earn most of the rent.
"Another hit? If you keep falling in love with her, you might need someone else to review the contracts for you.
Kaveh sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose with one hand. "It wasn't my fault this time. Until the collapse, I had no idea there was anything wrong with the vision. Last time it wasn't like there was a public archive or anything on the premises. So do I pay double or should I look for a new place to stay?
Alhaitham narrowed his eyes. "Was there a cave?"
"You're dodging the question." Kaveh rolled her eyes and waved her hand. "Yes, the place collapsed. Luckily I was the only one there today, so there were no injuries. I was stuck for a few hours, but that doesn't matter. To rent. I need to know if I should apologize to Tighnari for postponing my rib exam so I can sleep at his house.
"Kaveh. Your ribs are injured.
"OK. It was just some debris.”
Alhaitham put down his book, got up and walked over to Kaveh and looked him straight in the face. "They were involved in a collapse."
"You were trapped for said collapse."
"Your ribs are injured from the collapse."
"It's just smaller."
"Kaveh, it's your ribs." Alhaitham looked him up and down. "Your hand is bleeding too."
Kaveh looked at his hand and saw that blood was indeed still dripping from it. He moaned. "My shirt is probably ruined, isn't it?"
"I think that's the least pressing issue."
"Do you know how difficult it is to get blood out of white clothes? I'm fine with my pants, but my shirt is now stained with dried blood..."
Alhaitham took Kaveh's wrist from where he was waving to examine the injured wrist, ignoring how it caused the small trickle of blood to flow directly down the sleeve. "You should have gone straight to the doctor."
"I wantsleep, Alhaitham.” Kaveh pulled his hand away. "I was hoping you got the feeling, with your precise programming and all."
"As far as we know, you could have a concussion."
Alhaitham glared at him. "Go to the clinic."
"It's late. You are annoyed about late arrival. And I don't want to damage my reputation with the good doctor because...
“Kaveh, listen to me for once in your life. Do you understand the danger you were in? What would have happened if you hadn't left so quickly?
"Yes!" Alhaitham stopped at the sudden scream. Kaveh covered his mouth with a bloodied hand and cursed as he tasted iron on his tongue. He pushed her away and sighed. "Yes, I amveryI'm aware he could have died there, Alhaitham. Now please. I just want to rest.” Kaveh took a step back and felt the wall against his back. They just stood by the door for a minute. Alhaitham gave him a long look, torn clothes and smeared dirt and all. Finally he nodded.
"Rest... it might do you good. But we're going to the clinic first thing in the morning. Finally conceding his point, Kaveh smiled. Alhaitham cut him off before he could say a word. "Your hand needs to be bandaged tonight."
"That's good. I can handle it.”
"You have a useful hand."
His smile didn't fade. It got a little more challenging. "And I'm ambidextrous. He's fine."
Alhaitham grabbed her wrist again. "Kaveh. Please let me fix it.
And Kaveh – it took a while. Alhaitham said please. Alhaitham, who was known to be outspoken and forthright and to scare everyone but those who had grown accustomed to him, said "please". To help Kaveh.
Kaveh nodded. And Alhaitham's eyes shone.
Most people couldn't read Alhaitham. The man never smiled much. Occasionally his mouth would twitch at the funniest joke, but he was never particularly expressive. Even Tighnari and Cyno couldn't spot their bluff without spending precious minutes puzzling over logic. But Kaveh, Kaveh knew his secret.
His eyes darkened and twinkled like the stars in the night sky.
Perhaps Alhaitham himself did not know of his revelation, but Kaveh did. Kaveh could tell when something amused or annoyed him if he got close enough. It wasn't an exact science, nothing ever happened to humans, but that was part of the intrigue.
And now Alhaitham. Happy. Satisfied? To be able to take care of Kaveh. No no. It was Kaveh who admitted he was wrong. The satisfaction of being right.
Alhaitham was friendly as he came to the counter and retrieved the bandages they had stored nearby. A retort about his bedside manners died on Kaveh's tongue as he watched Alhaitham run his hand over Kaveh's hand, trying to figure out where the cuts were without hurting Kaveh too much. In fact, all possible replies and words died away as his tongue became a useless lump stuck in his throat.
The disinfectant used by Alhaitham hurt a little. But he ran his thumb over the pulse point on Kaveh's wrist in a reassuring motion, and Kaveh really didn't mind that much. In the end, the bandages completely wrapped around his hand, as Kaveh managed to sustain a dozen lacerations all over his hand.
"Do not use for a few days."
Kaveh snorted. "I have to use it, you know. I won another client and made sketches. And even without that, I need two hands to cook.
Alhaitham gave him one of those looks that made Kaveh feel like a kid. "All you have to worry about is checking your ribs and resting."
"I've got rent to pay, you absolute-"
"As your landlord, I'm telling you not to worry about that."
Kaveh snorted and rolled his eyes while Alhaitham checked the bandages were in order. "So what, I only have a month off?"
It was an easy answer. So easy that Kaveh gasped.
"Now,to the bed, Kaveh.” Alhaitham stopped gripping his wrist as he went to put the bandages away. Kaveh nodded once, twice, and then stood up.
And maybe the world was a little more unstable than he realized.
A strong arm wrapped him around the waist just as he grabbed the counter to steady himself. Alhaitham paused for a moment and watched as Kaveh reconsidered all of his life choices. "I can walk alone, you know."
Kaveh groaned and stood up. "Look, I'm fine. It just slipped.
"Are you sure you didn't have a concussion?"
"I never hit my head!"
"It was onlyyour chest.“
"I don't understand why you're so worried." Kaveh folded his arms. "Actually, why the hell are you putting up with this today? I'm late, I interrupted you and I don't even have rent this month.
A cool hand rose just below her chin. "If for a moment you thought this was more important than your health, I wasn't entirely clear. You are the most important thing in this room, Kaveh. For me more important than anything else.
He laughed. It wasn't the prettiest, all crass and cynical, but there was nothing he could do about it. "You have shown that excellently in the past."
"I remember us arguing about how much I care."
"You stabbed at old wounds."
Alhaitham sighed and watched as Kaveh looked down. "I was trying to make you understand that your behavior was becoming self-destructive. i say what i mean But… sometimes this leads to misunderstandings. Especially with you.
"Understatement of the century." Kaveh blinked away the tears that formed. "We didn't talk about itYears.” And because it was already confused enough, he whispered: “I missed you.”
"I missed you too. I never stopped loving you, not even for a moment."
Alhaitham was close enough that when Kaveh lifted his head, it caught Alhaitham square on the chin. Kaveh screamed and reached out for him. Alhaitham looked at him, rubbed his chin and shook his head.
"I'm fine Kaveh. Hit harder next time you want to hurt me.
Kaveh glared at him and was about to open his mouth to insult the idiot in front of him when he stopped. "Did you just say you love me?"
"That still applies, yes?"
Alhaitham nodded - and then grunted the next moment he had an armful of kaveh. Kaveh held him tighter and buried his face in his shoulder. He felt a hand land on his head, on his blond hair, which was frankly a mess after all of today's events.
"I've loved you for years." There. it was outside
And Alhaitham held him tighter. "We could have confessed years ago."
"No. We couldn't. We just fought more back then and then we broke up and were too hurt to dream of getting back together," Kaveh babbled on. He had been very stubborn then, he knew that. He still was today. Everything was a sensitive subject for him then, everything reminded him of that excruciating pain, and the pain had turned into numbness.
Alhaitham didn't answer, just hummed a little. After another minute he spoke. "You still need sleep, Kaveh."
"Will you be there in the morning?"
"Naturally. Otherwise there is no need to drive to the clinic.”
Kaveh looked at him. Mainly because he was right. Alhaitham looked at him with bright eyes.
How could he not kiss him when he looked like that?