A   P A R T I N G

Written on September 7, 2020 (♐)

Author's Notes: This is the finest pairing that exists for this game, and this is the zenith of my fic-writing career.

Goffard G. Gaffgarion was a man used to terminating relationships of a discrete and contractual nature, and he felt increasingly put out that the young swain he’d spent an agreeable Dorter summer with hadn’t the mind to ask for anything transactional. Bayard or Bryce or Blavier—whoever he was—was certainly of an amiable enough sort of lad to do well by making his charms a point of business.

“The problem is that we got off to the wrong foot, you know?” he mused as they walked through an open market. “I had been very willing that first night to give you money, and you had the gall to reject it.”

“You weren’t particularly insistent that I take it, Gaff”

“I wasn’t.”

Bardolf sighed rather dramatically. Gaffgarion hoped that he had the good sense to avoid making a scene.

“This is the complete opposite of personal, you understand. It is—of course—very much your fault and not mine, but I don’t mean that in a mean-spirited way.”

“You’d be happier if I’d been a whore then?”

“Yes,” Gaffgarion said, not missing a beat. “While I was quite seduced by the economy of the whole affair at the time, I think I ought to have appreciated the sort of professional boundaries a purse full of gil can buy.”

“It was the economy that seduced you.”

“Trust me, my good fellow—” Gaff clapped a hand around his shoulder for a quick squeeze. “You were and are very fetching, and this is why I think you ought really reconsider all of this nonsense about becoming a sellsword.”

You’re a sellsword.”

I’m not fetching. I have to make do.”

“You damn well fetched me!”

He pushed him a little then, and the food vendor whose stall they were near gave a cough. Gaffgarion very prudently took a break from their argument to make a purchase and handed poor Benedict a plum tart. He imagined he might handle rejection better on a full stomach.

“As I said, it’s not personal.” He twirled his mustache a little. “I’m an inconstant, changeable sort of man, and while it’s good to have a lad to spend the summer with, summer is at an end. Besides, I have work out west, and I assure you that you’d hate Igros.”

He made short work of the tart as Gaffgarion kept walking.

“The real issue, you must understand, isn’t whether we are to part ways; that’s been decided. Let me plead with you in all sincerity, however, to give up your aims at mercenary work and to make honest money through your god-given talents.” He winked at him. “It really has been one of the better summers I’ve had.”

“Are you afraid of competition, then?”

“I would be if you were qualified to be a competitor. You’ve been free enough talking around my squire, and he’s alerted me to alarming statements that you and your little gaggle of amateurs were considering 500 gil a head.

“Afraid we’ll undersell you?”

“My dear boy—” Gaffarion gestured to the air flamboyantly a moment before reaching out to stroke Baderon’s cheek. “You’d need to kill half of Gallione to do decently by yourself at 500. There are better heads to trade in. You must understand that while you are beautiful, charming, and full of youthful vigor, you are also very stupid, and I will be quite grieved when I must hear that you’ve being cut down on the highway for it.”

“What if we charged more? How much—”

“I feel that a lot of our relationship worked out so well because your mouth was so often occupied. Please...” He gave a quick look around as he suddenly pulled them both into a narrow alleyway and pushed Beneger roughly against a wall. “Consider an old man’s advice.”

The kiss was enthusiastic, and it was by design. While Gaffgarion had tried to make it abundantly clear that only one of them was good at the art of war and the one at the art of love, he thought that he might as well give a go at seducing his poor inamorato into sounder decisions. The boy was an uncommon sort, fancying a man of his age, appearance, and reputation—perhaps it would take uncommon methods to set him on a better path.

Besides that, Gaffgarion, whatever else he might say, rather enjoyed kissing him.

When their mouths broke, Blackburn was looking very flustered. Gaff decided to follow up with a second kiss while his guard was down. He thought very distantly of how nice it might be if summer could last another month, but resisted the urge to do anything too ill thought out or potentially illegal in the narrow side street they inhabited.

"See!" He grinned as they parted again. "You've all the power to kill a man right there, and you needn't try to prove anything by killing men otherwise—especially not at 500 a head. Besides, you'll do me a service by keeping yourself alive such that I might think of you fondly."

Bertram looked uncertain for a moment, but Gaffgarion could see that he was coming round. He led him back into the open air and looked about for something with which to bribe him out of idiocy and into an amicable parting. His gaze settled on a hatter, and he swaggered over, purse in hand. Gaffgarion considered that Rad had had an incredibly adequate breakfast that should last a hearty boy until the morrow, and as such, he spent more than he normally would in buying his soon-to-be-ex-lover a very respectable mid-range cap.

“A memento,” he said triumphantly, placing it atop his head. "Now you may think of me fondly. Between this, the tart, the kiss, and the advice, I hope you'll consider this afternoon the most gentle of adieux."

Gaffgarion felt very much relieved when Brien shot him a smile, but his spirits were soon deflated.

"Gaff..." He flicked the hat's feather to point backwards. "What if we charged 700?"