Awkward Glances
He’d left Soldier's Peak the minute he could sneak away. The cold ground and mountainous passage did nothing for his humour. Ruth rather thought it on point, given his run of luck lately. Every step towards the nearest eluvian was met with a curse and a fifty-fifty chance of him eating shit. Navigating the way back to Arlathan, he’d seek out the Stoner, or more her residence. Gods. The lecture he’d get, but he was in no mood for it, content to deal with it alone with a confiscated mirror courtesy of the Grey Wardens. It was the least they could do since one of their brood took his fucking eye! He made a note that in the future he’d never lend one of the fuckers a helping hand ever again. Fuck ‘em.

Of course, attempting surgery on oneself was never going to get very far. Especially with him holed up in the Stoner’s kitchen, shirt off and hair tied back out of the way. He made quite the sight when she returned from her errands. 

“What… the fuck?... What are you doing? would be screeched across the room from the doorway. His hands remained steady. It was delicate work trying to fix what the blasted dog of a warden had inflicted. The deep sigh from Ruth was a tired one, though he had about enough intelligence to look sheepish as he explained. “What does it look like? Surgery. It just happens to be on myself for a change. I, eh, took up some stunt work as a side hustle. Turns out I’m completely inadequate at it.”

Creators damn him. He stilled, grinned, albeit didn’t quite reach his eyes as it had before. Megara dumped what she carried, quickly walking over to take his face in her hands. She was not gentle, not that Ruth had ever earned the kindness she showed him all these years. Stupid and selfless she might be, but there was an undercurrent of strength that he could never understand, just be caught up in it. Even when he caused her grief and inconvenienced her like now.

“I can take care of it. I just need better light.” The fatigue in his voice came through without him being able to reign it in and he grimaced as she took over. Meg scoffed, “You’ll do no such thing, you sick idiot,” angling his head to gauge the slashed orbit, “... No sight at all?”

“No,” he’d sigh, “nothing at all.”

“Let me. I’ll at least leave better margins than your sloppy attempt.”

Sloppy? Rude. But she was mad and he, in need of assistance. Ruth chose not to respond. The exhaustion of the journey begun to weigh down on him, and the adrenaline had long slipped away while the pain and discomfort reared staggeringly. For the first time in a very long time, Ruth had no choice but to accept her help. “I do not need the lecture,” voice weary, “so.. do not start.” 

I am currently talking her out of removing your testicles, Rut’theran. It would be wise to not antagonise her further if you wish to indeed keep them.

“...Always a pleasure, Sylaise.”

The feeling is not always mutual, Da’len. You live most recklessly.

“What is freedom, if not to be enjoyed to its fullest?”

“One day, that outlook is going to get you into trouble… maybe even kill you. Then what?”

Silence was her answer. He hadn’t died yet, though this was a far closer call than previous escapades of his. Ruth shrugged, moving and following her gesture to slip onto the table. "In my defence, I was left unsupervised," it was true. He could never keep standards high for himself it seemed. A curse that had plagued him since... well, as long as he'd been out on his own. It was the freedom that truly seemed to intoxicate him above all - able to do what he wanted, when he wanted - the sole reason he desired to stay unattached.

The sting of her hand meeting his cheek startled him, causing the man to grimace. “...God’s Above, Ruth! You lost an eye.”

“And the Gods, in their wisdom, provided a spare and I will be more cautious around fucking Grey Wardens from now on, happy?” Fuck. If she continued, he’d leave, but with his patience and strength waning and frustrations began to bleed through, the she-elf finally relented. The crease of her brow softened. 

“Enough. Lie back… let me take care of it.”