Work Header

All the Sweet Tales

Chapter Text

… You miserable wretch.


Blessed child? Hah! You’re a failure. A selfish, useless murderer, a coward whose only blessing is to walk over the bodies of everyone else.

Shut up. I know that already.

You’re a loser. Nothing but a loser. Hurry up and ███ already, you ███. Loser, loser, loser ██ l█er ███r ██████ ███ ██████ █ ████ ██–



Aventurine blinked.

Colour, a single drop, appeared in the all-consuming nothingness. Gold, but unlike the cold glint of metal, surrounded by auburn flames. Harsh, even scalding at first – but warm. Undeniably so.

“Didn’t you hear me? The side room.”

Vivid sensations came next, sweeping away the rest of the darkness. The scent of a cold room, crisp and faintly perfumed… soft, dim light, casting the shadow of his body against the floor.


Aventurine lifted his hand. He twitched his fingers, watching in amazement as they moved.

Strange… it felt as though a long time had passed since he’d moved, yet he had no memory of that time. There was a blank space in his head, a ██ of simply ████…

If he tried hard enough, he could vaguely remember the child’s voice echoing after him as he walked towards the void. After that, nothing…

“Why are you just standing there? Please don’t tell me you’re trying to solve this on your own.”

Ah, the voice.

Aventurine lifted his head. Across the room, glaring at him next to a half-open door, was a familiar dark-haired figure.

“… Haha…!”

His mouth opened, and a laugh dropped unconsciously from his lips. A strange sensation rushed through his body, and he didn’t realize it had been missing until now – emotion.

Ratio’s expression darkened. He strode forward, each footstep resonating with menacing force as he approached.

Without thinking, Aventurine dashed behind one of the nightingale statues. He managed to give the stone a firm push, rotating it once before darting away to escape Ratio.

“You–” An incredulous sort of growl rumbled after him and Ratio quickened his pace. “You damned gambler… come here!”

Within seconds, the once cold, stoic room was shaking with the chaotic noise of their rapid footsteps and raised voices.

“Haha! What’s wrong with a bit of creative problem-solving, Doctor?” Aventurine cried as he shoved another statue and ran off.

“Brute force does not count as problem-solving,” Ratio declared irritably, rushing after him. Cutting across the room, the man caught up to him at the next statue while he was still trying to rotate it. Ratio reached forward and grabbed at the fur of his coat – only to miss by a mere breath as Aventurine hastily dashed to the other side.

Breathless with exhilaration, Aventurine circled the statue, using it as protection from Ratio’s threatening glare.

“But you just want to get out of here, don’t you? So you’re not stuck with me?”

The statue stopped shifting and he gave it another shove before dodging Ratio’s outstretched hand with a chortle-laced squeal.

“Who knows, maybe this will be faster–!”

At the peak of his cry, the statue’s rotation stopped, and the doors to the room flung open with a solid thump.

They both stopped, breaths mingling together in the sudden silence as they stared at the open doorway in disbelief.

“… See?” Straightening, Aventurine smoothed out his clothes and threw the man a smirk. “Told you. I always win.”

Ratio stared at the door a little longer, then lowered his arms with an exasperated sigh.


… That was what he should have said, if Aventurine’s memories served correctly.

“Is that so?”

… Not that.

That hadn’t happened. Ratio hadn’t spoken in a suddenly solemn voice, nor had he looked over with a faint smile. He hadn’t walked over, gazing into Aventurine’s frozen eyes the entire time, nor had he reached down, grabbed his hand, and woven their fingers gently together.

Aventurine felt empty breath fall from his lips, but that was all. Confusion, shock, electrifying tingles – all rushed through his mind as Ratio raised his hand to his lips.


“Then, gambler… hurry and claim your victory.”

Ratio stepped back, pulling Aventurine with him as he guided them towards the open doorway.

“Move forward, Aventurine.”

The man’s irises gazed steadily at him, gold and rimmed with earnest flames.

“This time… I will be with you every step of the way.”




“Reminder that your term papers are due in three days, and…”

Ratio sighed inwardly. The cacophony of scraping chairs and chatter was muted somewhat through the speakers of his terminal, but it still rumbled unpleasantly beneath his voice. It didn’t normally irritate him this much, but he had been exhausted lately, and even the smallest discomforts felt disproportionately draining.

“Your first midterm is next week. Study well, it won’t be easy.” Ratio leaned back in his chair and resisted the urge to stretch. He was delivering a lecture remotely from the hospital, and his camera was still on. “Dismissed.”

“Doctor!” The same few over-eager voices began to barrage his ears.

“Doctor, I have a question–”

Sighing, Ratio resisted the urge to shut off his terminal and silence them all. Regardless of his students’ ulterior motives, imparting knowledge was still his duty.

“About this slide–”

“Do you have a minute, Doctor–”

“Oi, Doc.”

A brash voice cut carelessly across the others, and Ratio tensed in instant aggravation. Which one of his students dared show such disrespect in his classroom? He’d–


He froze. It was so inexplicable that for a moment, Ratio’s brain could not comprehend what he had just realized.

He knew that voice. That insufferably cheeky, smug voice.

But that would mean–

Ratio whirled around, scrambling out of his chair so quickly that it smashed back against the table with a deafening bang.

Aventurine gazed back at him, already wearing that faint smile of his as he watched Ratio scramble over.

“You’re awake!”

Ratio nearly grabbed him by the shoulders. He managed to stop himself, fisting the blankets instead and squeezing the linens hard in his fists. He leaned over Aventurine, heart pounding, words flying too quickly through his throat to actually say them all.

“How are you feeling? Any dizziness, nausea, pain? What do you remember?”

“Whoah…” Aventurine closed his eyes in a forlorn grin. “Slow down, Doctor… you’re making me dizzy.”

Catching himself, Ratio stopped and took a deep breath. His entire body tremored as he exhaled, and as he repeated that several times, sighing shakily.


This wasn’t how he’d imagined it would go. Ratio thought he’d be a little more… composed. Aventurine was supposed to be the flustered one, groggy and confused and maybe even a little teary-eyed as he lay in bed and croaked weakly…

“Doctor… what happened… where am I…?”

Taking a final deep breath, Ratio allowed himself to try again. But as soon as their eyes met, and he gazed into those vivid irises that he hadn’t seen in so long – he shattered all over again.

Relief, so thick and painful that it was anything but relieving, flooded his entire body, and Ratio covered his face with his hands.

“You’re awake…” He groaned, and even that trembled. “Thank Aeons… you’re really awake…”

… Then, a tentative voice spoke, one that was neither his nor Aventurine’s.

“Um… Doctor? Your mic and camera are still on…”

Behind it, half-familiar voices squealed and uttered shrill words of adoration.

Irked, Ratio hastily shut off his terminal. Aventurine’s grin twisted in amusement, and his breathing seemed restrained, almost pained, like he was struggling not to laugh out loud.

Embarrassed, Ratio averted his gaze and went to check the monitoring devices.

“Answer me,” he said gruffly. “How are you feeling?”

“Mmm…” Aventurine closed his eyes with an exaggeratedly thoughtful hum. “Like I’m not awake enough to answer you…”

Ratio sighed exasperatedly, but beneath his irritation was a small bubble of warmth. That was just the kind of cheeky answer the little gambler would give…

Well, his vitals were stable. Heart rate was elevated, but that was to be expected – Aventurine was sitting upright for the first time in weeks. His voice, while a little hoarse, seemed fine, too, and he spoke clearly, without any slurring of his words.

He must have been conscious for a while already, Ratio realized. These were not the charts of a human who had just woken up from a coma. Had he been awake throughout the entire lecture, waiting patiently for Ratio to finish his class before interrupting? No, probably even before that… he must have woken sometime in the night, but had returned to sleep.

Heaving another sigh, Ratio turned back to the bed. He pulled over his chair and sat down, struggling not to let Aventurine’s curious stare penetrate his thin veil of nonchalance as he lifted a finger in front of the man’s face.

“Follow my finger.”

Aventurine raised an eyebrow, but did as he was told. Up, down, left, right… eye movements were focused and coordinated, good.

Satisfied, Ratio took out a penlight from his pocket and reached forward. But as soon as his hands extended over Aventurine’s face, the man flinched violently away.

They both froze.

“… Ah.”

Aventurine broke the silence first, uttering a shaky sort of laugh. He opened his mouth, probably to spit out some jovial excuse, but Ratio saved him the trouble.

“Sorry.” He flicked his penlight on and off, explicitly proving that it was just a light. “I’m going to test your pupil’s responsiveness to light. I can either hold your eyes open for you, or you can try not to blink. Which do you prefer?”

Aventurine’s smile seemed a little apologetic. He looked away and said, “I… I won’t blink.”

“Alright.” Ratio held the penlight between them. “I’m going to point this at your eye and briefly illuminate it. The glare may be uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t hurt.”

Still averting his gaze, Aventurine nodded.

“… You’re going to have to look at me,” Ratio murmured, and his voice was husky with an emotion that even he couldn’t decipher.

After a slight hesitation, Aventurine glanced back. Hoping his expression wasn’t as strange as his mind felt right now, Ratio lifted the penlight slowly over the man’s face.

“Don’t blink.”

He turned it on, and Aventurine immediately blinked.

Despite himself, Ratio had to sigh. Aventurine followed-up with a shrill laugh, though he promptly broke off with a wince.

“Maybe you should hold my eye open,” Aventurine said sheepishly.

“No need,” Ratio grunted. “Once you adjust, it’ll be easier–”

“It’s fine.” Aventurine offered him a relaxed smile. “I was just caught off guard. It’s fine if it’s you, Ratio.”

A sharp pang tore through his chest, and Ratio pressed his lips tightly together. Silently, he lifted his other hand carefully to Aventurine’s face.

His thumb on the bottom eyelid, his index finger on the top, Ratio exerted a gentle pressure to keep them open as he once again raised his penlight.

“Hold still,” he murmured, before turning it on.

Aventurine’s eyelid fluttered beneath his finger, but the man himself remained calm. Hyper-conscious of his every twitch and breath, Ratio willed himself to remain composed.

Beneath the light, Aventurine’s pupils constricted immediately. The coloured fibres of his irises were just as mesmerizing up close…

He repeated the simple procedure on the other eye. A similar reaction occurred – the illuminated pupil constricted, while the non-illuminated pupil constricted as well, but to a lesser degree. That was good… pupillary light reflexes were functioning.

Lowering both his hands, Ratio tucked his penlight away and gazed into Aventurine’s eyes. His pupils were the same size, and there were no distortions or irregularities in shape, either.


Aventurine leaned away slightly, his brows furrowed in a dubious sort of grin.

“Doctor… is this a procedure, too, or are you just admiring my overwhelming beauty…?”

Ratio blinked. He frowned at Aventurine, uncomprehending, for a moment before he realized what it must have looked like.

“The former, of course,” he scoffed. Rising from his chair, Ratio held out his palm in front of Aventurine. “Push on my hand.”

Aventurine gave him that same scrutinizing eyebrow-raise, but this time he didn’t move.

“Is this really necessary…?”

“You died, gambler,” Ratio snapped. “Forgive me for being cautious.”

Aventurine grinned sweetly. “You’re forgiven.”

“You – it was obviously–” Ratio growled, only to give up with a defeated sigh. Forget it… he couldn’t stay angry at that face, not after what he’d just been through. “Push on my hand,” he repeated irritably.

Puffing out his cheeks in a dramatic pout, Aventurine lifted his hand with pointed reluctance. Ratio couldn’t even fathom why he was being so difficult about this – this, when he’d let Ratio touch his face mere moments earlier – until their palms brushed.

A jolt swept through his fingers, and with it the overwhelming urge to curl their fingers together and drag Aventurine into his arms.

… And from the way Aventurine had averted his gaze, lips rubbing subtly together as he stared resolutely down at the blanket… he was feeling something strange, too.

Ratio gulped. He stood there for a long while, staring blankly at their hands pressed gently together over the blankets, before he remembered what they were supposed to be doing.

“… I said push.”

He tried to sound stern, but his voice came out hoarse.

Aventurine’s brows furrowed slightly, and he snuck a tentative glance up at Ratio.

“I am pushing.”

… He definitely was not. A little warily, Ratio moved his own palm forward.

“Are you seriously trying right now?”

“I–” Aventurine grimaced as his own hand was easily shoved back. “I am –!”

“Hm.” Ratio stopped and gestured for his other hand. “Try that one.”

The smile had finally faded from Aventurine’s face, and his reluctance seemed genuine as he raised his other hand.

They repeated the test, and this time Ratio could see Aventurine’s jaw clenching in effort. He did feel a bit of resistance, but it still wasn’t too difficult to push the young man’s hand all the way back.

Ratio pulled away, and Aventurine lowered his hand with a labored sigh. Before he’d even managed three breaths, Ratio returned with his rubber duck.

“Squeeze it.”

He held it out to the man. Aventurine stared up at him with an utterly flabbergasted expression.


Ratio sighed impatiently and squeezed the duck to demonstrate. It squeaked, loudly.

“Squeeze it as hard as you can.”

He placed it in front of Aventurine, on his blankets. The blonde eyed it for a little longer before taking it in his hand and squeezing.

It squeaked, loudly.

“Hmm.” Ratio lifted a hand over his mouth thoughtfully. He could see the rubber duck compressing from substantial force, and it had squeaked just as loud as his own attempt, if not louder. So why had Aventurine felt so weak against him…?

“Other hand.”

Another loud squeak penetrated the quiet hospital room. Aventurine let out a bewildered scoff and looked up at Ratio with expectation in his eyes.

“… Interesting,” Ratio murmured, reaching for his chart. “We’ll have to run more thorough tests later.”

“Are you sure you’re not just ridiculously strong?” Aventurine said wryly, eyeing his biceps.

“Some degree of muscle weakness is normal,” Ratio said calmly, noting everything down in the chart. “Your brain has been in a dormant state for a long time, it will take some time for it to remember how to effectively control your body. Perhaps your fingers are fine, but your arms require a bit more time to recover.”

“A long time, huh…? How long?”

“Nine weeks.”

“… And the matter of Penacony?”

Stiffening, Ratio snapped brusquely.

“It’s none of your business. You’ve done your job.”

From the corner of his eye, he saw Aventurine wince.

“And what,” the blonde scoffed bitterly. “They ordered you to take care of me?”

Regretting his harsh tone, Ratio sighed and softened his voice. “I volunteered.”

“Oh?” Aventurine blinked, the painfully twisted smile vanishing from his face as he cast Ratio a surprised look.

Ratio turned and pretended to busy himself with adjusting the equipment dials.

“The matter in Penacony has not yet been settled,” he said grudgingly. “But negotiations have been transferred over to Jade and things are more or less going as expected. Your physical body was to be maintained in the unlikely scenario that you survived, but you’re out of the picture. In order for the IPC to keep their seat at the table–”

“I need to stay dead.”

Ratio glanced over warily. Aventurine smiled calmly back.

“… I know.”

How could you be so unfazed?

Gazing down at the young man, Ratio couldn’t help but feel a painful knot of tension in his chest.

Just how much have you suffered, to be numb even to death?

Shaking himself, Ratio tried to relieve the burden through a heavy sigh.

“Don’t get me wrong… it’s good that you’re awake. I’m sure the IPC still has uses for you.”

“Mm… why did you volunteer to care for me, Ratio?” Aventurine’s brows furrowed, and his lips twisted in a strange way that was neither a smile nor a frown, but some strange mix of both. “You didn’t seem that fond of me when we were working together. Didn’t want my death on your conscience?”

“… Sure,” Ratio muttered, averting his gaze. “Let’s say it’s that.”

Aventurine’s expression leaned slightly – only slightly – more towards a smile. There was something about the complexity in his gaze that made Ratio feel like the young man knew more than he should.

Self-conscious, Ratio turned to the monitors and tapped agitatedly at a blank part of the screen.

“I’ll run more tests on you later, but I have another lecture to teach in half an hour, and it’s lunch time.” he said, changing the topic. “You’ve been on drip nutrients for weeks, so you must be starving.”

Mustering his composure, he spared Aventurine a glance and tried to sound as cold as possible.

“What do you want? I’ll get it for you.”

“I’m not hungry.”

Ratio frowned. “That’s impossible.”

“Huh?” Aventurine tilted his head in confusion. “Why?”

Ratio opened his mouth, but as he gazed into the man’s innocent stare, he realized he didn’t really know how to answer.

Because you’re human, he had been about to say. But then he looked at Aventurine, smiling calmly after everything he’d been through, and he stopped himself with a wave of exasperated disbelief.

… You truly are extraordinary, he ended up thinking, instead.

Sighing, Ratio took a moment to untangle his thoughts.

“Then… if not food… is there anything you need right now?” he said, slowly.

The corner of Aventurine’s lips twitched slightly. “Why, would you get it for me?”

“If it’s within my ability, yes.”

His lips twitched again. That smile had definitely grown a little wider. “Even if it’s something ridiculous?”

Eyeing him warily, Ratio grunted. “Just tell me what you need.”

Aventurine’s eyes closed in a pleased grin, and Ratio sighed as he braced himself for a ludicrous request.

“Right now… there is absolutely nothing that I need.”

Surprised, Ratio released his held breath. His chest knotted again, wrought with that same feeling of troubled pity.

Opening his eyes, Aventurine smiled up at him, and for once his expression was honest enough for Ratio to see the sadness in his gaze.

“But if you ask me what I’d like… I’d like you to stay a little longer.” He grinned, and suddenly he sounded a little sheepish. “Perhaps let me sit through your next lecture, too.”

Taken aback yet again, Ratio stared at him for a moment. The knot in his chest tightened, then began to throb and emit a warmth that spread slowly through his torso.

He uttered a quiet sigh, and allowed himself a faint smile.

“I have apples.” Grabbing a small bag of them from his table, Ratio wheeled a side-table over to the hospital bed and sat down next to Aventurine. “Unlike you, I need to eat, so let’s share.”

Wiping down a paring knife, Ratio picked up an apple, about to peel it when he suddenly stopped and glanced at Aventurine first.

“Do you prefer the skin on or off?”

Aventurine looked up at him with an unreadable smile. “Do I seem like the type to be picky with my food, Doctor?”

Of course not, Ratio thought. Any kind of scraps must have been a luxury to you.

But out loud, he only sighed. “Gambler, I know your vanity has always been a mere façade. But this is just an apple, and I have plenty of apples.”

He gave Aventurine a meaningful look and added in a soft voice.

“It is okay to have a preference.”

Aventurine blinked, and for a moment, surprise seemed to light up his gaze. Then, his expression relaxed, easing into a warm smile.

“I’ll prefer whatever you prefer.”

… We’ll work on that. Sighing, Ratio began to peel the apple. Not because he preferred it this way, but because it would be easier for a sick person not to have to chew skin.

He peeled and sliced the apples, and they shared them in mostly silence. Now that he’d been awake for a while, Aventurine had grown visibly lethargic – that was normal. His body would need time to adjust to being conscious again. Ratio observed him closely, wary of possible muscle weakness in his throat, but Aventurine didn’t do much more than nibble, and he seemed to be swallowing fine.

Thirty minutes didn’t feel long enough. Aventurine had made his way through a whopping one-and-a-half apple slices and now looked like he was on the verge of passing out.

“… Are you going to finish that?”

Aventurine’s expression scrunched up in a frown, and he nodded with his eyes closed.


Chuckling faintly, Ratio reached over and extracted the browned apple slice from his limp fingers.


Aventurine uttered an indignant sort of mumble. Ignoring him, Ratio popped the apple in his own mouth, trying not to feel too guilty about his joy as he chewed and swallowed.

Wetting a handkerchief at the hospital room’s sink, Ratio wiped Aventurine’s hands, then cleaned up and wheeled the side-table back against the wall. By then, he only had one minute left until he’d be officially late, and though Ratio wanted nothing more than to sit by Aventurine’s bed for the rest of the day, he couldn’t neglect his duty.

Pushing down the weight in his chest, he returned to the table and switched on his terminal.

“… Doctor…”

A drowsy mumble floated towards his back, and Ratio turned abruptly back.

But Aventurine was still safely in bed, eyes closed and head against his pillow. “You won’t get… mad if I… fall asleep in class, right…?”

“… You’re not even enrolled,” Ratio scoffed. “Why would I get angry?”

Aventurine huffed, and there seemed to be relief in his breath. “… Good…”

Ah… the distance between them had never felt so far. Perhaps he ought to wheel the side-table back over and deliver his lecture from Aventurine’s bedside… but no. He wouldn’t be able to concentrate, and he had to maintain at least some semblance of normalcy.

Forcing himself back to his screen, Ratio pushed down his smile and turned on the camera.

It was a forty-five-minute lecture, and his easiest topic of the day. He was grateful for that, because Ratio could barely remember a word he’d spoken through the entire class.

As soon as he was done, he checked on Aventurine. The young man had, expectedly, fallen asleep again. That was probably for the best, Ratio mused. The sophisticated terms and theories he’d rambled on about would have been too much for someone who’d never been to school, nevermind someone whose mind was still in delicate condition.

He pulled up his chair next to Aventurine’s bed, and at this point, it was almost a habit. Pulling the blankets higher, he tucked them under the young man’s chin, then placed one hand gently on top of his arm, as though holding Aventurine in place. With his other hand, Ratio pulled out his phone, and checked for messages.

There were numerous requests from Intelligentsia Guild members, but none from the IPC. The most recent had been from Topaz, three days ago, but he had marked it as read without replying.

… He could still remember the chill he’d felt when he’d last heard her voice.

“The light of the aventurine stone has faded…”

He still felt an echo of that same terrible feeling every time he saw her picture.

Grimacing, Ratio turned off his phone and tucked it away. He glanced at Aventurine, lying still and silent in the white sheets, exactly as he had been for the past nine weeks… and he was struck with an overwhelming surge of anxiety.

He hadn’t imagined it… right? It hadn’t been a daydream, a spout of insanity brought on by his repressed desperation?

Restless, Ratio checked the monitoring devices. Vitals were stable, and brain patterns were normal… Aventurine was simply asleep.

He sighed, but it wasn’t enough.

It wasn’t enough to convince him that, after nine weeks of watching over his silent body, in a few hours, Aventurine would once again, simply… wake up.

But what else could he do, other than wait?

Worry and helplessness, sentiments that Ratio had rarely felt until recently, returned to haunt his mind. Struggling to keep them at bay, he retrieved a book and returned to Aventurine’s side, habitually brushing their arms together as he tried to gain some sense of relief from the man’s faint body warmth.

“… Stay with me, gambler.”