a rose by any other name i.
druig x reader. reincarnating human reader.
Egypt 1417 BCE
“Makkari,” Ajak says in the same tone as the human women take with their young, “Am I correct in believing that you paid for the jewellery?”
Makkari, fast in everything, blinks slowly, biting her lip to suppress a smile.
Druig can’t help but snort.
“Makkari?” Ajak asks again, “It is wrong to steal.”
It’s not for the thrill of stealing, not when it’s so easy for their resident speedster, but because she grows bored. She’s complained enough about it to Druig. An hour felt like a full cycle of the moon for her.
Makkari nods once before signing. I might have forgotten to barter.
Druig looks away, unable to hide his grin when she looks anything but sorry.
Kingo flat out laughs from where he’s assessing the latest tablet of himself he’d commissioned. “Sounds about right. I think their cave paintings had better shading and dimension.”
Ajak ignores Kingo’s commentary as Druig helps himself to a tray of dates and figs. Humans had come such a long way though in simpler times their lives were less complex, full of hardship, but not so self inflicted.
“You should make this right. Go back and pay the human for their work. For them it took more than a second,” Ajak insists and Druig can only be glad Ikaris is on patrol or he’d be up Ajak’s arse again. It was one thing to focus on the mission and another to be a nuisance about it. Four millennia with the flying Eternal was too long in close quarters.
They will not understand me.
“What,” he croaks, a half chewed date in his mouth.
That works. Makkari shrugs, pocketing the precious stones and knocking her arm against his playfully. Try and keep up.
He snorts, following after her. “Ah so you are taking my pitiful speed into account you terrible thief,” he teases her as they leave the temple of Serkat, a terrible butchering of Ajak. It was where she healed humans after a deviant attack.
I could carry you? She arches a brow playfully.
“Please do,” he nods, looking around as the harsh sun shone over Thebes. As an eternal, at least he didn’t have to endure sunburns like other foreigners did.
The minds around him buzzed idly, preoccupied with living: the state of the nile; the miller who asked too much for grinding up crops to make bread; simple things that left him untroubled. It was easier to push their minds away from his own when they were content.
Baby, Makkari teases, bringing her hands up to her eyes to mimic crying.
Druig scoffs as they walk idly to the market and he figures the salty bread would be long gone by the time Gilgamesh is ready to serve dinner. A palate cleanser would be good after the fruit he’d had. “Snow over the rains?”
You forgot the monsoons, Makkari points out. Ajak said not to interfere with them. She juts her chin out at the people passing by. The stalls of wares sitting in front of homes and children covered in dirt from playing.
“Well,” he shrugs, his smiling tightening. His ability wasn't like Sprite’s, turned off and on. He could catch glimpses of their pain and anger and loss. Druig couldn’t sit by and watch entire villages be wiped out when he could save them.
Makkari stops at a simple house, the front with a papyrus sign, hieroglyphs designating it a jewellery workshop. She makes him go in first.
Druig frowns. One visit to the mines had been enough for a lifetime. Gold, precious rocks, the salt mines were the worst: a death sentence.
Then you look up from your workbench, your eyes narrowing, a motion made more pronounced by the crows feet around your dark eyes. “You-,” you point at Makkari who is making signs and Druig knows he should be translating but his mouth is dry and he seems to have missed a step. “You’re the thief!”
The other eternal’s surprise mirrors his own. Even the rest of their companions have a hard time keeping track of Makkari.
Makkari elbows him.
“Uh-Um, Yes, about that.” He tries to find his words. He’s older than every building in Thebes, older than the wheel the Egyptians refuse to adopt to Phastos' chagrin, he is not at a loss for words even if you have to know who they are and still remain uncowed unlike the other humans who accept them as gods no matter how many times Ajak says they are not. “Makkari wanted to set things right.”
Your hands are on your waist and you’re still staring Makkari down who looks thrilled at this new development.
“How much for-” Druig looks over at Makkari. He didn’t actually know what she pilfered.
She starts unloading the goods: a necklace of hammered gold inlaid with all sorts of minerals; a bracelet with a carved duck; a scarab carved out of blue stone the color of the night sky the size of his fist; and a simple beaded necklace.
“Really,” he asks Makkari, “you didn’t think to take the raw materials too?”
Shut up, Makkari signs, looking much too pleased with herself.
You clear your throat.
Druig feels a strange warmth run over his cheeks. “How much for all this?”
You name your price in salt.
“That’s more than thrice their worth!”
You tilt your chin up, standing your ground, your eyes sparkling because you knew he spoke the truth and yet, “consider it a tax for thievery.”
“I wasn’t aware the pharaoh enacted a new tax,” Druig smirks, “or do you claim to be the Pharaoh now?”
“When did I say that my Lord,” you reply impishly, before looking away, sitting back down on your bench. It was such a clear dismissal.
Humans. They could be so. . .sometimes.
Your hair is tied back with a gold wire.
His fingers itch for something he cannot name.
“Half that amount of salt and a plateful of dates.”
“Hm,” you pretend to think it over even as he feels the train of your thoughts as easy as people smelled the chain in the wind before it started to rain. “That would be doable.”
Druig snorts. You had gotten more than a fair price and he-
“Send it over,” you wave off.
“Right.” Druig nods though your head is turned and he already misses the sight of you.
Makkari, having lost interest, pulls him away.
She gives him a look when she spots him with a bag of salt and dates. It is good to have friends. She signs friends twice. Like Sersi and Kingo.
“Kingo has admirers.” Druig snorts. “He likes the attention.”
Peacock. She nods.
Her lips part as she thinks for a moment longer before she smiles and vanishes in a blur.
“As requested,” he presents the goods to you.
There are a few others working in the shop today, your shop, but the aura of your mind stands out. The sparkles in your eyes, the curve of your mouth; his mouth is dry and a strange energy fills his hands as he waits for you to take the salt and figs from him.
“I see.” You nod, before smirking, “you could have just sent someone you know. The sun is killer this time of day.”
“It doesn’t really bother me,” he admits.
“Priests and their magicks,” you note, focusing on the bead you were carving, the tool molding the gold with an ease that came from mastering your craft.
If only all humans worked with their hands more and fought with their minds less.
“There has to be a perk to the smell of resin and myrrh.” The centuries had left him sick of it. But each civilization seemed to love the cloying scents of incense instead of appreciating the natural world.
The familiar pang as he thought of his home world stuck him.
“Better than the camel shit,” you shrug.
It catches him off guard and Druig finds himself laughing.
You roll your eyes, an easy smile on your lips, “stop hovering and sit. You’re standing in my light.”
“My apologies my lady.”
“I only take apologies in the form of gold and salt,” you utter with a sly grin.
Druig snorts, content to wile away the hours between deviant attacks watching you work, drinking in the sight of you. Silver hair mixed with the rest of your locks and he felt the slow march of time for the first time in his life.
He pilfers the best of the fruit, presenting it to you.
“Come to bother again Druig,” you comment dryly even as the smile reaches your eyes.
“Calm down,” he teases, “I have something for you.”
“I recall you enjoying most of-”
“Gilgamesh claims food tasted better shared,” he raises his chin, “I was just testing his theory.”
You shake your head, amusement colouring your features, “or you are bored of sitting all day. I’m sure the scribes have much more interesting accounts.”
“I’ve read all the books in the temple.” Which was true. The nature of his power meant he was rarely called on to carry out their mission. Evacuating people so they didn’t trample each other when a deviant attacked; he wondered if he could control a deviant.
“Sure,” you scrape at a stone, “and I’m descended from Thoth.”
“You never know,” Druig points out, smirking. The more complex the civilizations grew, their culture followed suit. And he would be there when Thebes was swallowed by the sands of the desert again. “I did read them all.” He reasserts, as close to truth as he is comfortable with. Sersi loved the farmers and children, flocking to centers of learning; Sprite was never far from crowds, impressing them with tales that would grow to influence the values these people held, but none of them played at being human.
It was a wish he had never had until he saw you. The idea rooted itself so deeply, that he might be an ordinary man and so he held back essential truths about himself.
It was silly.
It could never be-but Druig continued to see you, determined to soak up every second he could with you.
“How did your eyes survive,” you ask jokingly, “mine sure haven’t.”
Phastos should give humanity optics next.
“I’m not lying.” He says, sounding too serious for the topic at hand. “I would never lie to you.” Just withhold important information that would shatter your view of him. Druig wasn’t perfect. Surviving the deviants was rough already.
“A beautiful lie,” you comment, sitting back and cracking your knuckles. You rest your hands on the workbench, meeting his gaze. “But I’ll take it all the same.”
Druig smiles, leaning forward.
His fingers itch.
Your hands-such a simple human action was beyond him. This could lead to nothing.
There was a life waiting for him back on Olympia.
This was not his world no matter how he had grown to care for its inhabitants. . .for you.
“The deviants seem to be clustering further and further east,” Ikaris states though no one asked as they were having another meeting where Druig does nothing other than snack.
“Hey,” Phastos says, side-eying the other man. “It’s my deviant tracker. I get to give the information out.”
Ikaris backs down.
“Ikaris is right,” Phastos points out, the holographic map of earth showing all the spots where deviants were. Gilgamesh and Thena took the fight to them. Makkari and Kingo acted as defense. “Thebes has plateaued. The deviants seem to be grouping in these river valleys.”
“They learned their lesson,” Thena notes smugly, having slain many deviants over the centuries here.
Druig feels a weight in his gut. He knows where this is going. “It’s time for us to go,” he voices.
Ajak nods, rising, “Yes. We must go where we are needed to best serve Arishem.”
His mouth is dry.
“Next time I get my own place,” Kingo calls out. “Druig snores.”
“Your room is nowhere near mine,” he points out, falling for Kingo’s usual bait. The man knew how to draw you into a pointless argument.
“Exactly! You’re making my point for me!” Kingo looks around, “right? Guys?”
“There better be snow,” Sprite grumbles, exiting the room.
The flooding had left the city flush with greenery. You walked along the bank with him. The pyramid loomed over the horizon. Druig remembers when it was first built, the white stone, point capped with gold.
“You’re quieter than usual,” you comment. Almost all of your hair had gone grey in less than a decade.
This might be the last time he ever saw you. Druig felt the urge to act. “Admiring the view.”
“Yes, admire it for the price of grain will go through the roof.” You smile, he finds himself smiling in turn.
“I’m sure the Pharaoh will find another vanity project to fund.” He had no particular opinion on the current ruler.
For once your hair was loose over your shoulders.
It’s with all the moments he did not reach out that he brushes a strand of your hair out of your eyes.
He tilts his head, closer.
Your eyes widen in surprise but you make no move to step back.
Druig kisses you, unsure of himself. His lips press against yours. The action is chaste. He doesn’t remember doing this before this mission. With you it feels right, the feeling of intimacy ending a shiver down his spine. His chest aches; he yearns for more.
You step away. “Druig-we can’t.”
“I-” Even he doesn’t really know what he was expecting. His meager belongings are packed. Makkari and Ikaris have scouted ahead.
“I’m too old for you,” you say, oblivious.
He laughs humorlessly, looking out at the river. If only you knew just how old he was. In your 30s or 40s, he is as helpless as the water moving with the current. “I don’t care.”
This is for the best the reasonable part of him thinks, breaking things off with finality. You won’t look for him. You have a good life.
Druig will think of you.
“That’s what you think now,” you reason with patience even as your voice cracks. “But-”
He nods, not wanting to hear any more of it as he looks anywhere but at you by his side. You don’t even know what he is or else you’d give him the same side long glances that the others do when he uses his powers. There is no future for the pair of you.
“It’s-I’m sorry,” he tells you, tells himself.
“I think it would be best if you don’t come by.” Your voice is gentle even as your eyes turn glassy. This is as hard for you as it is for him. You’d grown to care for him, his presence a constant over the last few years. You looked forward to seeing him.
“Okay,” Druig looks back at you, he could do that. He thinks he’d do anything for you.
The day is perfect.
It’s like the world has been muted.
He watches you leave.
Druig’s thoughts are spiraling so he doesn’t notice Ikaris until the other Eternal is a step away. “What the hell was that?”
“How long were you-”
Ikaris is unmovable. His focus has always been on the mission, no room for deviation, no room to breath. It makes him so fucking terrible to be around. “We are not to interfere with humans. Arishem-”
“I know!” Druig retorts harshly.
He doesn’t mean to escalate things, but his eyes grow molten. Without focusing, he can hear the buzz of the workers down the river, the self righteousness that got old quick from the other Eternal. Someone should have told Ikaris being a good soldier wasn’t the end all be all. They wouldn’t always be on a mission.
What was Ikaris going do with himself on Olympia with no clear cut goal?
“Don’t-” Ikaris warns as his own eyes glow red. “Druig-,” the other man sucks in a breath and Druig wonders of he’ll do it.
He reaches for Ikaris’ mind: gently, softly, prepared.
“Druig,” Ikaris’ eyes return to normal. “It’s normal to care for them. . .but we are not human. Don’t forget that.”
He releases a breath, backing down, looking away from the other eternal in shame. Could he have done that to his brother in arms? Isn’t family those that always come back no matter how rough the argument? “Why are you here?”
“Ajak’s called another meeting. She thinks it would be best to announce our departure.”
Druig nods, and follows Ikaris back to the others.
Makkari presses a necklace into Druig’s palm. It’s simple, beaded and awfully familiar.
Druig nods back.
And then she’s off again, a blur across the continent and beyond.
Memories and a necklace: that’s all he had left of you.
notes: not me playing with locations and the readers age. also since druig wouldn’t know olympia isnt real yet its sort of tragic that he thinks on it. not edited so its rough. feel free to comment or hmu :)