((Disclaimer: The writing within the “Memories” series is 100% headcanon. While I try to write within the boundaries of lore, much of this is pure speculation, and completely just character exploration.))
“Amon!” Clio’s voice echoed excitedly across the lab. She hobbled into the room at full speed, one hand struggling to wave a sheet of paper in his direction. Branch A barked at her heels, responding with his own excitement to her emotion.
Amon put down the vial he was observing and turned to watch her approach with upraised eyebrows. Everything about her spoke of electric excitement and he could only wonder what was on that paper that had worked her up.
Clio grabbed his arm and pulled him over to the cluttered couch. She then promptly cleared a spot –unceremoniously dumping everything on the floor – and pulled Amon down to sit down next to her. Branch A immediately jumped up next to them, tongue lolling out in a wide canine grin.
“Do you know what this is?” she exclaimed.
“Not yet. Are you going to enlighten me?”
“We. Got. Funded!”
Now it was Amon’s turn to become excited. “WHAT?”
“WHAT? Let me see that!” he reached for the paper, but she pulled it away from his grasp.
Instead, Clio slid into his lap, nestling her head up under his chin like she often did now that they were officially a couple. It had taken Amon way too long to finally work up the courage to ask her out. When he finally did, she just laughed and told him that he should have asked her sooner.
At first, he was a little worried about what would happen when their friendship turned into a relationship. But he really shouldn’t have been. They still had just as much fun together. They still worked until the early hours in the lab together. They still came to brilliant conclusions together. Only now, they were building something personal for their own future rather than just for the scientific community.
Amon dotted a little kiss on the top of her head as she began to read the letter out loud to him. Of course, he could have read it himself, but when Clio was in such a state, she needed the verbal release.
It was everything he could have hoped for.
Their research, which focused on expanding their past work with mind-stimulating medicine, had not just been approved to move forward, but was also fully funded by the Tower Academy. There was even talk of eventual distribution once the product was fully tested.
Amon knew what “fully tested” entailed, but didn’t want to sully the moment by bringing up the topic of clones. Especially not clones of people, which this would eventually need. Clio could abide by a cloned dog, but anything beyond that got her riled and in a tizzy.
He didn’t understand it, and hoped that one day, she’d come to see things his way.
“Can you believe this?” she exclaimed, tilting her head up to look at him.
“Oh, absolutely,” Amon grinned back. “’Twas only a matter of time. You’re simply too brilliant for the world not to notice.”
Clio shoved his chest with a weak palm. “Hush. You’re just as much a part of this as I am.”
“Maybe so,” he gently teased her hair between his fingers.
They both fell silent for a moment, just sharing the feeling of mutual achievement. Of dreams coming true. Of brilliant things in their future.
Finally, Clio struggled to push herself to her feet. “This calls for a celebration!”
Amon’s strong hand assisted her and she didn’t resist his help. She’d been relying on him more and more lately, even for simple things. Standing. Getting around. Reaching for things. This concerned him, but she had already given in at his request and begun taking treatments for the pain, which had eventually increased to the point that it disrupted her work.
It was only then she did anything to fight it.
Clio opened the cooling unit and reached inside for the old bottle of wine they’d stowed away for moments like this. It was so little used, and stashed in the back out of the way, so she had to pull it out over other things within the cold storage.
This caused her to knock a few items over. “Oh, crud!”
“Hang on, I’ll get—“
Amon froze in horror. One of the things that fell out of the cooling unit was a syringe.
He usually kept them in back, hidden and far out of her reach. But pulling the wine from its storage jostled things, and one had come loose.
He moved quickly, trying to intercept, but Clio had already reached down and picked it up. His face paled as she held it up to the light, and he hoped beyond hope that her poor vision would keep her from figuring it out.
Amon gave a watery laugh, “Oh, I must have left one of the samples in–”
Clio cut him off quickly, having none of it. “You told me you’d stopped accepting these injections years ago.”
His mouth opened soundlessly. There were no words. Nothing but a shameful look at the floor.
“Amon,” she asked, quickly putting the syringe on the counter as if it were a snake. “That wasn’t true, was it?”
Slowly, he shook his head.
A mixture of disappointment and frustration flickered over her face. She picked her next words carefully. “You know many of these serums are untested. They could be dangerous. We don’t know what the long-term outcome is.”
“You’re so fine that you have to hide it from me?”
Amon took in a sharp breath. She was clearly very upset. He racked his brain for the proper answer.
One part of him didn’t want to mess this up. What he had with Clio and everything they’d built together was worth more to him than anything else.
…But the reality was, he didn’t know if he could stop taking the treatment. Not now. It had been so many years. And it felt too good.
If he stopped, would his growing mastery of magic revert? Would he lose everything he’d made of himself so far?
The thought of the aether closing off to his mind, the fear of the raging hunger for power that he’d learned to deal with over the years, but kept hidden in silence. He could try to tell her? Try to explain?
Ask for help?
She was the dearest person to him. The one that he could share everything with.
…Everything but this.
Would she understand?
More than once, their stances on science and moral obligations had clashed. They’d come to terms between themselves, but neither of them agreed. She would never budge. She would demand that he stop taking the injections.
That would be the only answer she’d accept.
No… she wouldn’t understand. She couldn’t understand.
So he did what he had learned to do when faced with a no-win situation. He acted.
“You’re right,” Amon told her, putting on his best sheepish face.
Clio’s eyebrows lifted a bit as if she didn’t expect that from him. Then she prodded for more, “Yes, and…?”
“You’re right and… I… I have to stop doing this.”
The way her eyes lit with pleasure made the guilt claw up his throat, almost spilling into his mouth. But he bit down on the truth and turned towards lies.
As her hopeful look returned, Amon just began to think of better ways to hide things from her.