"Comfort" is an EU thread written on June 12, 2015. It takes place immediately after "Still a Team...No Matter What."
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Grey Bergman: Grey and Shadow stayed in their place in the sparring room in the deafening silence. The Chief absentmindedly petted her Night Fury as she finished her speech running out of things to say and letting the tears flow down her cheeks. She might have run out of words, but she didn’t run out of tears. She honestly doubted that she ever would.
Shadow looked up at her crooning in sadness nuzzling against her, but Grey barely acknowledged it. All she could do was stare into space and let the tears flow. It came to a point where it felt like time slowed down around her. She wasn’t sure how long she and Shadow had been there. Were the Queen and Stonegit looking for her? Had it been hours since Grey left the Haddocks and the bodyguard alone to mourn? She was so lost in her own thoughts that she was jolted back into reality…when she heard the doorknob click. Could it be…?
“Sir?” she whispered hopefully. Then…the door opened.
Egil Ander Haddock: “Um…” A man, thirty-one years old, glanced through the door, and then jerked back. “Ahh, I’m sorry, am I interrupting?” Egil asked. He ran his hands through his hair, clearly feeling awkward at stepping into such a private moment. Truth be told, he had been like this, a bit unsure of himself and awkward on his feet, since his father had died. Not even capturing King Eindride and setting up a contrast with the Wildest North had gotten him back to his old self. He was so off.
“Like, I can leave the two of you alone, talk to you later… I can talk like talk to you later, right? On your - on your own timing, of course.”
Grey Bergman: Well…she wasn’t completely wrong in guessing who it was. She was looking at a king…the new King of the Wilderwest, Haddock’s eldest son, Egil. If this wasn’t such a tragic time, Grey would’ve smiled at him admiring at how he was looking more and more like his father…how he was no longer that little boy she met in the Rebellion all those years ago.
When she suddenly registered what he said to her, she quickly stood up and wiped away her tears. “Egil,” she said sniffling, “no, no, of course not, I was just sitting here thinking. That’s all. Please stay.” She studied the new King taking in his appearance. After 25 years of working with Gareth Haddock the Second, she had gotten better at reading people, and she knew without a doubt that Egil needed her now. And…in a way, she needed him too.
Egil Ander Haddock: “Alright then. Great.” Egil’s face twitched up into an awkward smile, the left side rising higher than the right. It made him squint just on one side, yet somehow the smile was still charming.
Well, beyond the fact it was a very sad smile.
“Great great,” he kept mumbling to himself, swinging his hands idly and sometimes clapping them together to the front of him. “Ah, I guess I was hoping to talk to you, well, the official funeral ceremony. Y’know. Way overdue. An’ I thought you’d maybe want to… well, y’were close to him.” He coughed awkwardly into his hand.
Grey Bergman: Grey furrowed her eyebrows together. “You…you…you want me to speak at the funeral…about your dad?” she asked. Was she really hearing that right? Did he really say that?
Egil Ander Haddock: “Well, I mean, Jonas wants to, and I’ll let him, but… well, whatever you want to do. I don’t know if i’m asking you to talk at the ceremony or well, just… just wanted to know what you wanted there. What sorts of things you wanted. Or if you wanted to talk, sure. Better than me.” He let out a low, short, barking laugh. “I’m not much of a public speaker, y’know.”
Grey Bergman: “No, you’re right,” Grey asked managing a half-smile. “Your brother has every right to say something, and if you want me to say something as well, I will be more than happy to. No matter what I’ll still be there.” She paused briefly as the tears returned. “My friendship with your dad meant a lot to me. Nothing could ever keep me away.”
Egil Ander Haddock: “Uh yeah I knew that,” Egil said, turning away while blinking rapidly. “Ahh look, please, like I’m trying to hold m’self together.”
Grey Bergman: Grey sighed. Like father like son… she thought to herself remembering that one day when Haddock cried after trying to hold it all in.
“Look, Egil,” she said grabbing him by the shoulders. “This is me, your old pal, Grey. Forget the fact that we’re the King and the Chief now.” Her heart broke remembering all the times she referred to her and Haddock as “the King and the Chief” after she was coronated, but she swallowed the lump in her throat and continued. “Forget about the funeral for now. You don’t have to hold yourself together for me. You can let it all out. It will be good for you.”
Egil Ander Haddock: Egil rolled a pair of somewhat-wet eyes. “Don’t pep talk me. I’m not that sort of person it helps with. Like I do mean that.” The last words fell into a mumble, though, and he grimaced. “It’ll just make me…” He stopped again.
Egil paced for a small moment, silent, hands clasped behind his back, and then turned back to Grey. He played with his hair again, and then asked her, “Hey, um, I do actually wanna ask you something.”
Grey Bergman: “Okay,” she said nodding and waiting for the question. “What is it?”
Egil Ander Haddock: Egil hesitated. “Look,” he said at last, “I don’t like talking about this. Don’t like it one bit. Don’t wanna admit I’m saying this, don’t like that I’m saying this, but… well… I remember when I was a kid, I went to your coronation way bad in the day. Like, I remember thinking you looked pretty grand. But looking back at it now, I mean, you’d just lost your…” The man winced and kept going. “It wasn’t all so easy for you, was it?”
Grey Bergman: The Chief nodded remembering her coronation day…only a year after she lost her father in that battle. She remembered how hurt and sad she was realizing that he wasn’t there to see her take up the position…that he was taken away from her too soon. It was then that she understood why Egil came to her in the first place. Both of them lost their fathers…their heroes…both of their fathers were murdered…killed in battle. Both of their fathers didn’t get the chance to see them take up a position of leadership.
“Well, I’m not going to lie to you,” she said. “It wasn’t easy. It was only a year after it happened, and the pain was still there. Waking up that morning and expecting him to be there to hug me and congratulate me…only to have him not be there…it…it hurt. I wanted nothing more than to track down the warrior, who took him from me.”
Egil Ander Haddock: Egil looked away, a bit angered, a bit hurt, thinking back on Eindride. Had Stonegit not charged after Eindrided and apprehended the man, Egil might very well have hunted the Wildest North king down.
Grey Bergman: Grey angled herself to make eye contact with Egil. She then reached forward and gently touched his chin turning him back to her. “I know how you feel right now,” she said. “Both our fathers were taken from us too soon, but with time, the wounds will heal. We will never stop missing them. It’s impossible to do that, but we will always have the memories to think back on to help us move on.” She smirked. “Did your dad ever tell you about the time I sang to him while trying to mend his leg in the Rebellion?”
Egil Ander Haddock: “Sang to him?” Egil’s eyebrows quirked up in a most puzzled expression. “I’m sure that went fucking well for you.”
Grey Bergman: Grey chuckled deciding to ignore the man’s language for the moment while remembering that he wasn’t a child anymore. “Mmmm…let’s just say…I’m glad I wasn’t kicked out of the Rebellion,” she said. “It was after his general turned on him. I was nearby and got to him just in time. There was no healer around, so another rebel and I decided to try to help him ourselves. I thought singing to him would calm him down, but…” She smiled.
Egil Ander Haddock: “The complete opposite.” Egil snorted. “He must’ve been slightly delirious from the injury. Would’ve kicked you out otherwise, I bet.”
Grey Bergman: Grey laughed in what felt like a long time. “Probably,” she said shaking her head at the memory. “I’m sure if I kept trying to sing regardless, he wouldn’t have hesitated at the chance.”
Egil Ander Haddock: “Well here’s your chance to get back at him? Nice epic aria at the funeral?” Egil’s mouth was quirked in a little bit of a mischievous - if still nostalgic - smirk.
Grey Bergman: “Hmm…maybe I’ll consider it,” the Chief replied smirking in return. “Although…he once told me that if I ever did that, then he would come back to haunt me for the rest of my days.”
Egil Ander Haddock: “Well then, we’ll make sure you aren’t the one doing it,” Egil returned smugly.
Grey Bergman: “Why, Egil Ander Haddock,” she said placing her hands on her hips in pretend shock, “are you suggesting what I think you’re suggesting?” She scoffed. “Young man, you’re quite the rascal.”
Egil Ander Haddock: Egil shook a finger at her. “Now don’t you be calling me no ‘rascal’,” he said. “Else I’ll actually banish you. I’ve got that power now, y’know.”
Grey Bergman: “Oh, I don’t doubt that for a second,” Grey said laughing remembering all the times he threatened to banish her when he was only a child. “You are quite the powerful man now. No one shall call you a rascal!”
Egil Ander Haddock: “Good, and don’t you forget it,” Egil enunciated. He tipped his head to the side in a quick side-nod, a bit like how his father would always nod succinctly once. “Almost too much power though, if you ask me.”
Grey Bergman: Grey smiled sadly at her friend’s son remembering how nervous she was about taking over as Chief and the power she had. It was overwhelming. “Well, that’s what you’ll have your mother, Stonegit, and me for. To remind you not to take that power for granted every now and then.Though I fully believe that you will know what accounts for too much power on your own.”
Egil Ander Haddock: Egil threw his hands in the air, and with a sudden shout exclaimed, “It’s not ‘too much’ power I’m worried about! It’s ANY POWER AT ALL!”
Grey Bergman: Grey stared at the man in front of her with wide brown eyes. She was stunned to the point of speechlessness. “I…I…Egil…what are you…?” she tried to ask.
Egil Ander Haddock: "What do you think I’m saying?” he exploded moodily, turning to glare at her with dark brown eyes. He stabbed at the air, pointing at her. “What do you think?”
Grey Bergman: It didn’t take long for Grey to realize what the new King was saying to her, and to say that it was a shock would be an understatement. All those times she would hear little Egil claim that he couldn’t wait to be the next King, and now…to hear him say this now…
“You…don’t want to be King…do you?” she asked carefully. Although she already knew the answer.
Egil Ander Haddock: His shoulders slumped. “No.” And he turned away.
Grey Bergman: Before Egil could even make his way to the door, the Chief quickly grabbed him by the hand preventing him from leaving the room. She wasn’t going to let him get away that easily. However, when she did grab him, she became speechless again. What could she possibly say to this?
“Why?” she suddenly asked. “What…what made you change your mind? I know you’re not a child anymore, but…you were so excited and… I…”
Egil Ander Haddock: He yanked his hand away from her. “Because those were games!” he said. “This. Is. Not.”
Grey Bergman: Chief Grey sighed and shook her head. “Of course, it’s not a game, Egil,” she said. “It’s called growing up and accepting responsibilities. As I’m sure you’re starting to see, life isn’t all fun and games. You of all people should know that given what you saw in the Rebellion and what your parents and I had gone through with keeping things under control in the country, but that doesn’t mean that you should run away from it because it’s no fun.”
Egil Ander Haddock: Egil snorted. “I’m in no mood t’ listen to this. Like… great for Dad. Great for the people of that old Rebellion deal.
“It’s not like I’m being irresponsible if I live a different life, huh? There’s just one person who’s a king in a kingdom, and fuck it, why’s it got to be birthright?”
Grey Bergman: “I don’t know why it has to be,” she replied. “In case you didn’t notice, I’m probably not the best person to ask that. You’re not being irresponsible, but–”
Egil Ander Haddock: “But what?” he asked, slightly calmer. “You can say it, you know.”
Grey Bergman: Chief Grey took a deep breath. “But…you’re denying a part of who you are…who your father was,” she said. “I know it’s a huge change from what you’re used to, Egil. Believe me, I get it. I may have accepted the role as Chief and Lady, but it made things different from what I was used to. It was a huge change, but change is good.”
Egil Ander Haddock: “Change is good? Always good? Look, I know you’re trying to be encouraging, but stop talking about it like you’re a saint who can tell the world it’s gonna spin right. Life isn’t always so straightforward and squishy and simple. Talk about growing and accepting who you are and all that trash… like that’s motivation talk, sure, but it’s ignoring the reality of what we actually are.”
Grey Bergman: “Okay, then tell me what we actually are,” she said crossing her arms slightly irked that she couldn’t get through to the new King. “Please enlighten me.”
Egil Ander Haddock: “Very well then.” He waved his hands in a mockingly, exaggerated flourish. Sarcasm dripped into every sound of every word he pronounced. “We live in a world where things don’t always get better. Where things aren’t always ‘properly aligned’ with destiny. Sometimes change is just shit. Sometimes we’re not made for certain roles. Like a blind man’s not gonna be a good painter no matter how much you encourage him on. Life gives us just as much crap as it does good, and I for one am not going to be someone rankling on pretending that ‘accepting who I am’ or ‘loving change’ is going to make life any better, or make life the way that really would be better for me.”
Grey Bergman: Grey’s irked look slowly faded as Egil spoke. He was right…in his own way. Life wasn’t always rainbows and flowers…no matter how much people would want it to be. What happened today with Egil’s father was solid proof of that. Egil was forced into a role that he wanted nothing to do with because of his father’s death.
“I will agree with you on one thing,” she said. “Sometimes, life doesn’t get better. Sometimes, bad things just happen for no particular reason. But I have to ask, Egil. What do you want to do about this? How do you want to make life the way you think would be better for you?”
Egil Ander Haddock: Egil snorted. “In truth? No lies? Like shove the crown off to Jonas and high-tail it out of here. I’d be better for everyone.”
Grey Bergman: Grey sighed. She could tell that the man was being honest with her. That still didn’t make this easier. Haddock knew that Egil had the potential to be a great King, and now to find out that he didn’t want it…what could she possibly say?
“You know your brother is too young right now to take the throne,” she said. It wasn’t to discourage him or to downplay his feelings toward his new leadership, “but perhaps, when he’s old enough, maybe we can work with your mom and work something out, if that is what you really want.”
Egil Ander Haddock: “About the same age Dad took the throne, if i remember right,” Egil pointed out.
Grey Bergman: Grey raised her eyebrows when she realized that Egil was right. Jonas and Sindri were 24 years old… Sometimes she would forget that those babies who were born in the Rebellion what seemed like so long ago…weren’t babies anymore.
“Oh, you’re right,” Grey quickly said. “Sorry. Alright, then let’s wait till after the funeral then. We can speak to your mother and Jonas then. I’m sure we can work things out.”
Egil Ander Haddock: “Another thing to keep in mind,” Egil hissed. “I’m an adult too.” And he stalked out of the room.
Grey Bergman: Grey sighed with exasperation. “To be honest, I’m finding that very hard to believe,” she muttered under her breath.