Chapter Five: Devastation
With a huff Vex walked over to the shallow pool of water and didn’t see anyone.
Vex: Vekel, I think your eyesight’s going bad. Luckily you don’t do any job anymore.
Vekel: I know what I saw girl! Just get her before she catches a cold.
Vex sucked her teeth and rolled her eyes.
Vex: I swear this better be worth it.
Vex inhale a large amount of air, and then began to shout.
Vex: Listen here newbie, I don’t have time for your crap so you better get your ass out of that water…
Vex: Because if I have to get in that water, you might not ever make it out.
Trace stood up and breathed a sigh of relief. The water, although not the cleanest, seemed to cleanse her of the fighting from earlier both physically and mentally. She squeezed some of the water out of her hair and giggled as it rolled down her back tickling her slightly.
Trace: Sorry, I'm sorry. It's just been a while since I've had a proper dip. I've definitely got to do this more...
Vex was transfixed by the woman’s backside and couldn’t believe someone with her figure and seemingly airy ways would want to join up with the Thieves Guild.
Vex: Well I’ll be… she might not be much of a thief, but I could stare at that behind for--
Trace laughed catching Vex off guard.
Trace: You know I can hear you, Vex.
Vex: Oh, w-well, I…
Vex: (How does she know my name!?)
Vex could smell something fishy about this recruit. She seemed all too familiar with this place, but Vex couldn’t remember her for the life of her. Agitated about being in the dark about her, Vex turned around and began to question Brynjolf.
Vex: Where’d you get this one from? Why does she know my name? And why on earth is she so comfortable bathing naked in this mangy little puddle?
Brynjolf: I came across her up in the market. She uh… did a little job for us, and it actually went well. Anyway, I’ve got to talk to Mercer about something so, if you will.
Vex turned and she could only feel her mood worsen and Brynjolf left the Flagon.
Vex: Turn around already, and get out of the WATER!
Slowly, Trace turned around and could hear Vex’s shock.
Trace: Hey Vex, I’m… back. Heehee…
Vex: By the Gods… You… but you left…
Trace: I did…
Trace faced away from Vex. She felt ashamed that this was how they were reunited, and that that was how Vex reacted. Not angry, but shocked. It’s like nothing they had before meant anything to her…
Trace: But I guess you can say I’m back. Something went awry with the Brotherhood, and Bryn--
Suddenly, Vex leapt into the water, tackled Trace and forced her head under.
Vex: You bitch!! You come back now!? After everything you did? Everything you did to me!?!
Vex continued to hold Trace under the water. Little by little she could feel Trace’s struggling to get weaker and weaker.
Vex: I told myself if I ever saw you again I’d kill you on sight, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do!!
Trace: (Vex… please…)
It wasn’t long until bubbles stopped coming to the surface and Trace stopped moving altogether. As her life was slowly and surely coming to an end, so was Vex’s anger as it gradually turned into concern.
Biting her lip in frustration, Vex lifted Trace from the water…
And as soon as she saw Trace’s unconscious face all traces of anger were gone, and only sadness and frustration with herself were left.
Vex: Nonononono! This isn’t how it was supposed to be!!
Vex: Don’t worry Trace, I’ll make everything okay! So don’t die on me!!
Once they were on dry land, Vex tried to resuscitate Trace, but after multiple attempts with no success she just brought Trace close and embraced her as a flood of emotions streamed from her.
Vex: I didn’t mean… I didn’t want to… I was just mad Trace! Mad that you left me… I didn’t think that I’d… that you’d die…
Trace: Then next time, don’t try so hard to kill me.
It was low and subdued, but Vex knew what she heard, and knew what it meant. Instantly she laid Trace’s head in her lap and was taken aback by the girl’s calm, gentle smile. Before she knew what she was doing, Vex bend down and stole Trace’s lips for herself. It reminded her of the first time they kissed, but it was Trace who was all sad and mopey and it was Vex acting gentle.
They were wrapped in their kiss for so long that Trace almost forgot that a little while ago Vex had tried to, albeit clumsily, murder her. The two of them sat up and faced each other, Vex with an eager smile on her face while Trace tried her best to look like she hadn’t just drowned and been brought back to life.
Vex: I didn’t think I’d ever see you again… I thought Delvin would randomly one day say that word was that you were killed.
Trace coughed out some water, then pressed her head on Vex’s forehead and sighed.
Trace: Haaa… you keep saying that but…
Vex: Yeah… my bad.
Vex stood up and reached her hand out to Trace.
Vex: Come on, let’s get going.
Trace tried to stand, but her legs gave out and she fell into Vex who caught her.
Trace: I’m… I’m okay. Just give me a few—EEK!
Vex lifted Trace onto her back and began walking towards the Flagon.
Trace: L-l-l-let me down!!!
Vex: Calm down. I’ve seen and felt more of you than this.
Trace wasn’t embarrassed because she was nude and Vex was carrying her around, she was embarrassed because Vex had to because Trace would be unable to move otherwise. When they came to the Flagon no one, not even Delvin who they had to pass kind of close to, batted an eye towards them.
Trace: (Thank the Gods the Guild respects people’s personal relationships…)
Trace: I didn’t want to leave… well… I didn’t want to leave you… We’d just gotten to be--
Vex stopped, leaving Trace puzzled.
Trace: What’s wrong? Did I say something wrong?
Vex: Nope, not at all. In fact, I think you said the one phrase that’s keeping me from dropping you on your ass every time I think about how you did indeed leave me. So relax, because like always, I’ve got you.
Trace’s heart began pounding, and she leaned closer to Vex. Catching a whiff of the thief’s hair, she wasn’t surprised that she smelled of lavender mixed with nightshade. It was a mix that Trace had brewed herself and had given to Vex, Tonilia and Sapphire soon after she joined the Guild. The latter two decided that it wasn’t for them, but although Vex didn’t say anything pleasant about it, every time Trace passed the Imperial from then on she smelled that peculiar fragrance.
Trace: Yeah… you got me…
When they got to the Cistern, Vex hurriedly got Trace to a bed and placed her down on it gently. She bent over Trace and gave her a warm inviting smile.
Vex: Now then, I think it’s time to get you some clothes, don’t you think?
Trace blushed as she remembered that she was nude and that one of the loves of her life was just glancing at her as she pleased.
Trace: Y-yeah… I’d appreciate that…
Vex licked her lips and laughed.
Vex: Heh, I bet you would.
Trace: Hey, what should I do if someone comes and messes with me while you’re gone? You know with me being all defenseless like this.
Vex’s mood soured and a scowl replaced that smile of hers.
Vex: I’d like to see one of these dickless fucks try. They know you’re mine, and they also know what happens when they mess with what’s mine.
Then just like that Vex’s smile was back.
Vex: Besides, other than Bryn, I don’t think there’s anyone who you’d even be a bit interested in.
Trace: !!! H-hey!! It’s not like that!!
Vex: Heh, I know. I know…
Vex winked at Trace and set off to look for something for Trace to wear.
As soon as Vex had left the bedside, Trace sighed and stared at the ceiling.
Trace: This is going to blow up in my face isn’t it?
Trace brought her knees to her chest and sighed. She knew Vex. The person that brought her into the Cistern? That was pre-crisis Vex. That’s how Vex acts towards someone she cares about right before she blows up in their face. It was always scarier than if she had just yelled at you from the start, because you never knew what was really going through her head. Vex never lied about her feelings, but sometimes she just didn’t display them in the most normal of ways.
As Trace mulled over how Vex might possibly lash out at her, the woman in question dropped some clothes at Trace’s feet and turned her back from her.
Vex: Here ya go. Don’t know if it’s the right fit, but you don’t seem to have gained much weight from the last time I saw you so… anyway, put them on.
Vex: Unless of course you want to just show yourself off to me. I don’t mind either way.
Vex: Anyway get dressed already. If I have to hear Vipir say another word about you I might snap!
Trace understood what she meant and a smile came to her face. Trace knew Vipir didn’t have the balls to openly talk about her to Vex. What Vex really meant was, ‘Hurry up and put some clothes on so I can stop having these indecent thoughts about you.’ It was sweet, but somewhat vexing trying to decipher what she was saying sometimes.
Trace: Heh, thanks Vex you always know what to say.
There was a silence between them as Trace began to put on the clothes. It was awkward for both women considering all the emotions running through their heads. Anger, confusion, hatred, love, happiness, sadness, trust, betrayal…
Vex: I wonder…
Vex: Well, you say you didn’t want to leave, leave me, but why did you want to leave the Guild? I thought we were like a family to you…
As Trace continued to put on her clothes she tested her leg strength one at a time and although she was a bit wobbly, she could stand and so Trace did
Trace: (This must be it!) The Guild still is a family to me. It’s the first place that I ever felt like I belonged—oh! I’m decent now. you can look.
Vex: Psh, ‘I can look’, like I couldn’t look befo—oho! Looking good, Trace.
Vex: I mean it, you look really good.
As much as she wanted to, Trace couldn’t believe those words. Her scars, her eye, her attitude… there was nothing about her that she liked. Trace didn’t know when it began, but even though she’d been called pretty or good looking by many an onlooker, she just couldn’t see it. Maybe it was her breasts or her ass or her hips? She could only see it as people liking the looks of her body seeing as many shied away from her once they saw her face. The scars and her blind eye were souvenirs of her time in the Dark Brotherhood that, although she cherished, destroyed her self-image ever since.
Vex: The fuck is wrong with you?
Trace turned her head away.
Trace: I… I just don’t see myself as being—
Vex: I don’t mean that! You fucking left me! Why?
Vex: I like you, fuck, I think I may have really loved you. I also saved you from yourself when Mjoll dumped your ass. And you repay me by fucking going off with that damn Nord bitch?
Trace: I know it wasn’t right… but I wasn’t thinking right. Astrid came and caught me while I was sleeping and—
Vex: I don’t want your excuses, I want the reason! You liked me, and I like you. Why the fuck did you go?
Trace: It was the thrill…
Vex: The… thrill?
Trace: Yeah. The thrill of killing. Astrid asked me to have my pick out of three people to kill. One was a Khajiit, one was an older woman and the last—
Vex: Fuck. You,
Vex: I let you see me at my weakest. I’ve never done that since I was a child. I’ve never let anyone in, not even Vald when I was with that lummox! I saw something in you, something that I felt we shared…
Vex: Something you fucking destroyed, when you left me looking for you for hours! If Brynjolf hadn’t told me, I would have probably utilized all the contacts I had trying to track your ass down. You could have at least told me that you were going to go! Given me some type of notice.
That always ate at Trace; why didn’t she give Vex notice? Why did she just up and leave in the middle of the night? Astrid had given her plenty of time to say her goodbyes… Why did she only tell Brynjolf, Delvin, and Tonilia?
Trace: Vex… you know how I feel—
Vex: Your feelings can go to Oblivion, just answer my question! Why did you leave without saying goodbye?
Trace: ….Well… I guess--
Vex raised a finger in protested and silenced Trace.
Vex: You don’t even know yourself? Now that speaks volumes. Everything you’ve ever don’t in your relationships makes perfect sense now. I thought I had pegged you for a different kind of woman, but you? You’re a coward! A fucking coward!!
Vex: Yeah… that’s why you couldn’t tell Mjoll you were in the Guild, why you didn’t let me know you were leaving… You’re afraid of being rejected because you think you’re ugly and not worthy of other people’s love. You probably didn’t even tell that Nord bitch your true feelings, and she probably guessed it anyways.
Trace had never thought about it like that, but having it laid on the line like that…
Trace: I guess… you’re right…
Vex turned from Trace and sighed.
Vex: I think it’s best if we start over… if I at least try to treat you like everyone else. That way thing in the Guild will get a bit—
Trace: I’m not joining the Guild, Brynjolf simply said that I could find sanctuary down here.
Vex: I see…
Vex turned around and began walking out of the Cistern.
Vex: The next time we see each other, you’ll mean nothing to me. I gave you a chance—I gave you the key to my heart, and you threw it away for some thrill. I hope you choke on that thrill.
When Trace heard the door to the Cistern slam, she felt her heart crumble. Mjoll hated her and didn’t want to see her again, Astrid was after her life, and Vex wanted nothing to do with her.
Trace: Good job Trace. Great way to cement the fact that you’re lousy with relationships. I wonder what’s next? A vampire with daddy issues? A servant with a bad attitude? It won’t matter even… if it were a someone who had to love me else they die, I’d end up screwing it up. Why can’t relationships be as simple as contracts? At least I know my game plan and endgame with contracts…
With that Trace laid back on the bed and fell fast asleep, trying to get this day’s events as far behind her as possible.