He spent the rest of the night afraid to go back to sleep. The images he had seen, the dreams of his segal being blown up… Reinard couldn't go through that, not again.
Beside him, Galen slept with no issue, the tiger curled up around a pillow. He was snoring quietly, almost, dare the fox say, adorably. Reinard was jealous of the cat, of his freedom from nightmares.
He hadn't been so close to ending his life before. And Reinard looked back on his outburst with a mixture of fear and shame. He had an obligation, as the last Artego, to perpetuate his clan's existence. Simply put, the fox needed to have a kit someday. And killing himself… it would mean the end of his clan, the Artegos' only claim to fame a shameful footnote in Alliance history.
Yet he couldn't escape the thoughts. The ocean was right outside. He could easily go for a swim and never return. It would be an accident, a Faro who had never learned to swim. But then he'd have failed his clan for the last time. Maybe he just needed to have a kit...
The Faro looked at Galen, scowling at the tiger. If nothing, living here should help him get pregnant. It was both a fear and a desire. If he had a kit, they'd be at risk with him. If he didn't, his clan would be lost to history. And if he mated with an Egaro…
The fox shuddered, sitting up. He couldn't even imagine how much that would hurt. Just looking at Galen… the Egaro had to be twice as long as any Faro.
Letting himself fall from the bed, Reinard left the room, heading to the kitchen for some water. He could see dawn breaking through a window, light slowly brightening the world.
As soon as he was hydrated, the Faro stepped outside, shivering in the chilling air. He made his way to the ocean, staring at the dark water, water that reflected his thoughts far too well.
What if he stepped in? He had never learned to swim, never had the chance. And there was that… thing, lurking in the water. A Cnidarian, Galen had called it. Surely it could make a mouthful of him. Would it hurt? Or would he be gone before he had the chance to feel it?
Before he knew it, the fox was ankle deep in the water, staring at the welcoming darkness.
"It won't kill you."
The Faro yelped, spinning around. He tripped, landing on his back with a splutter.
Galen was standing on the shore, sipping at a cup of steaming liquid.
"Not at first," he added. "No, the venom in the tentacles paralyze you so it can stuff you whole in its mouth. But you're still alive."
The tiger shrugged as Reinard fought to stand up again, the fox falling as a wave shoved him forward.
"Fuck you, help me!"
"And risk touching you? Now why would I want to do that, I might end up raping you," Galen scoffed.
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry I said that, sorry I insinuated that you couldn't control yourself!"
Another wave threw Reinard forward, a strong grip appearing around his thin arm. He was pulled from the water, shivering and dripping.
"So you have chosen life? Can't say I blame you; there's so much you haven't had the chance to do yet," Galen said conversationally. "You ever feel like swimming again, let me know. It's dangerous to go alone. Of course, if you're into vore, I'm not shaming you. But that's more of a finale event, not a starter."
"What the fuck are you talking about?" Reinard panted, clinging to the tiger's arm.
As soon as he realized what he was doing, he let go, shoving the appendage away. Almost immediately, the fox began shivering, his drenched clothes hugging his body indecently.
"You should probably go dry off," Galen mentioned, motioning toward the house.
Grumbling, Reinard moved toward the building, sand sticking to his fur. He tried to shake himself off at the door, without much success.
"Just take a shower. I'll clean the sand up," Galen said, opening the door for the fox.
Grunting, Reinard pushed into the house, hurrying toward the bathroom. He locked the door, stripping out of the sopping clothing with a sigh of relief.
A sigh that turned into consternation as he realized he didn't have a clean robe.
"Fuck…" the fox hissed, looking at the door.
He just knew Galen was on the other side of the door. The last thing he wanted was to let the tiger see him naked, but he couldn't just wear the wet clothes.
Groaning, he unlocked the door. Taking a deep breath, Reinard threw it open, darting forward….
...and straight into Galen.
"No thanks, I'm saving it for Iason," Galen chuckled, handing a set of clothes to the fox. "Give me your dirty clothes. That's your last robe, so I figured I should wash your clothes before you accuse me of wanting to keep you naked. Nice dick, by the way."
Reinard spluttered indignantly, yanking his clothes from the tiger. His hand covered his crotch, Galen laughing at the motion.
"You're going to need to get used to being naked," Galen said, watching Reinard kneel to gather his clothes.
The fox shook his head, protecting his ass. It was an instinctive move, the fox's tail covering it.
"You're going to be around a bunch of naked people most of the day. You ever want to practice, you know where to find me," Galen added as the wet clothes were thrust into his hands.
Reinard slammed the door shut, growling once it was safely locked.
"You know, you keep acting immature about all of this, I'm gonna start treating you like a kit!" Galen called through the door.
He moved to the bathtub, turning on the blissfully hot water. He already knew today would be difficult. But he hadn't expected it to be so rough so early.
Of course, a lot of that was his fault. What had he been thinking, trying to drown himself? The fox was a disappointment to himself, and to his clan. And now he hammered that home, his inability to handle life a weakness, his need for Galen's help a painful stab to what little self worth he had.
At least the tiger hadn't tried to actually baby him.