Kvothe likes to tell him stories.
When they are lying in a forest glade somewhere, or on a city roof, or sitting crouched among filth and the stink of human flesh in a bar, Kvothe tells him stories.
He tells Bast about blood magic, about sympathy, about a great University full of terror and wonder and delight. He tells Bast about fires at twilight and the smell of burning hair, of a quest for revenge. Of dangerous magic and violent delights and all the things Bast craves.
Bast watches this strange human boy and wonders if Kvothe is being entirely honest with him. There's a mischievous glint to those green eyes, a wicked smile always curling those lips when the boy tells a story. He's been trained for the stage. He's a musician, the best kind of story teller.
It all could be lies—the university, the tales of calling lightening, of the wind obeying his command.
It could be, but Bast, in all honesty, doesn't care. There is something intriguing about this one. Something dark and deep and wonderful that he can sense spinning around in Kvothe's soul.
Bast decides to find out what it is.
Bast wakes just past midnight to a sharp tugging on his tunic. He sits up, alert, furious. Instinctively he reaches for his knives, tucked under his pillow. Quicker than a blink, a hand closes about his wrist.
Kvothe, his face mere inches from Bast's, grins.
Bast cuffs the human over the head with the flat of his palm. "Idiot," he hisses, "I could have hurt you."
"No," Kvothe says, still smiling. "No you really couldn't have."
Bast wants to argue that point, but, he has to admit, it's probably too. Kvothe is the more powerful out of the two of them, and besides, Bast hadn't really been about to attack him. "Why are you waking me up?" he finally says.
Kvothe's grin stretches wider. In the light of the moon his hair is a brilliant red, his eyes a vibrant green, the whites tinged with silver. He looks like all the best parts of magic—wild and daring and alive. "I have to show you something," he says, and without pausing throws himself out of Bast's open window and onto the roof of the inn they are staying, "come on!"
Sighing, Bast slips into his glamour and follows.
Kvothe, he has learned, is little more than a child. Despite the stories, despite his power, he is still very, very young.
And, Bast realizes as Kvothe drags him to the roof's peak and shows him a giant, yellow, full moon, that's what he loves about him.
They become…not quite friends, something different, something more.
Kvothe is both teacher and child to Bast. He finds books for Bast to read about obscure and important magics, and everyday they play riddle games. Kvothe is clever, Bast admits, and Bast can use a teacher. He's bored with life in the Fae realm, weighted down with responsibility and trickery and political games. Bast flirts with death and desire on a daily basis when he is with Kvothe, and he relishes the feeling of that freedom. That does not mean that Kvothe does not need his protection.
Kvothe may be better skilled in magic, but he is foolish and acts rashly. Bast is continually dragging Kvothe out of rioting towns and bars, pulling him from potential fights and soothing him at night when he wakes after nightmares.
Kvothe, unlike some humans, does not wake screaming. He wakes silently, dark and seething with the weight of the world. Bast senses it, the weight and load of it tugging at his own heart, and he wraps the shivering boy (for Kvothe truly is a child in those moments) in his arms and holds him. "We're going to be alright," Bast tells him, stroking his fingers through that unruly red hair, fingers getting caught in the tangles. "I'm not going to die on you."
Kvothe manages a hoarse, bitter laugh. "They all say that."
"Well," Bast says, "I'm nothing like the others."
The breath hitches in the boys throat, a stutter, a gasp. Bast hears the sound of his despair and his fear in the steady thrum of Kvothe's pulse under his fingertips, in the way the Kvothe leans into his embrace and whispers, "I know."
Kvothe has the most wonderful laugh.
Bast listens to it, sometimes for hours as they walk from town to town. Kvothe, his lute slung over his back, his chin held high, his eyes wild and his gait dancing, laughs at everything. He laughs at Bast, tripping over his own hooves and stumbling out of his glamour after a few drinks. He laughs at odd jokes they exchange with passerby. He laughs at Bast's pranks, and Bast's expression when Kvothe pranks him back.
His laugh is like music, like fruit—sweet and rich and rolling in Bast's ears. It is full and youthful, and although Kvothe carries many burdens on his shoulders, although he has not led by any means, an easy life, his laugh is as free and as delighted as a child's.
Then, Kvothe kills the king and everything changes.
It's a wild, desperate, dangerous run—nothing like the playful adventures they've been on before. They're terrified. Bast doesn't know if he's ever been this scared in his life, because suddenly everyone wants to kill them, and all he knows is that he is never going to let that happen.
So they run.
That night, Bast scrubs the blood off of Kvothe's shaking hands.
"Tell me something, Bast," Kvothe says softly, hollowly, "did I do the right thing?"
Bast looks up at him. Kvothe has never looked so old and so young at the same time. His face is a waxy pallor, his eyes so dark he could be a Fae himself, his lips pressed together and trembling. "Oh Reshi," Bast whispers, and presses a gentle hand to Kvothe's cool cheek, "Oh Reshi, I hope so."
Kvothe decides to call himself "Kote" which Bast thinks is a little dramatic.
"Destruction?" he says as they are walking to the new town in a little worthless corner of the world that no one will ever find them, "you want to call yourself 'destruction'?"
Kvothe looks at him sidelong. "I have so many names, Bast," he says calmly. "What's one more?"
There is a slight edge to his voice, a challenge. Bast bares his teeth, but lets the matter pass. "Whatever you say, Reshi. But I'm not changing my name." He can't help but inflict a slight emphasis on name.
Bast is not looking at him, but he can sense his Reshi rolling his eyes. "I'm only changing my calling name, Bastas." His hand closes about Bast's shoulder, stopping him in the middle of the road. Kvothe's eyes are serious. "I'm still me."
Bast looks at him—the lute over his back, traveling cloak tattered and worn across his shoulders, red hair wild—and desperately hopes that that's true.
"Won't an inn be a little," Bast hesitates, "loud?"
"Loud?" Kvothe asks as he begins unpacking his bottles.
"Yes, Reshi," Bast says, annoyed, "Loud. With drinking and talking. Just because this town doesn't know who we are doesn't mean they don't know who Kvothe is."
Kvothe sets down the bottle he's holding with an audible click. "Bast," he says, spinning to face him, and there is something wild in his eyes, something dangerous that Bast hasn't seen for awhile. These are the eyes of a man who's killed, who's backed into a corner, who's hurting and who has lost everything. "What else would you have me do? Please, tell me."
Bast's stomach twists. His mouth tastes of bitter iron and blood. He swallows hard. "I don't know,"he says honestly, "I don't know."
Kvothe nods sharply. "Then pick up the rest of those bottles." It is not a request.
Bast ducks his head and does what he's told.
"I want to apologize," Kvothe says later that night.
They are sitting beside a crackling fire. Bast stares into the glowing embers until his mind is a blank slate and his body is numb. "Apologize for what?"
"Bast," Kvothe's voice is gentle. "Bast, look at me."
Tearing his eyes away from the flames is hard; Bast has settled into a state of apathy and seeing his Reshi's face is going to-
He looks anyway.
Kvothe's expression is earnest, young. His lute is settled against his lap, but he is not playing it. He hasn't played it in weeks. He simply holds it, as if cradling the instrument will bring them all back. As if he and Bast aren't the only two people left in the whole world. "I should not have dismissed your opinion," Kvothe continues softly, "About this place. It is going to be difficult. People are going to talk. Someone might recognize us."
Bast looks over at him, his Reshi, breaking and broken and wonderful—he holds Bast's respect and his heart. Kvothe's voice tugs at him like his name does, gentle, firm. Bast cannot refuse him, has really never been able to refuse him anything at all.
"Bast?" Kvothe asks. "Do you want to leave?"
What a ridiculous question.
"What's a little danger?" Bast quips, "danger always makes for the greatest stories."
Kvothe smiles, just a little, and Bast's heart feels lighter.
His Reshi fades into himself.
Bast watches it happen slowly as the days pass. Kvothe stops holding his lute altogether, stops mentioning sympathy, almost stops their lessons. The mask of the innkeeper hollows out his face, dulls his eyes and seizes that spark of laughter Bast has always loved.
"Reshi!" he finally screams, throwing a glass to the floor so it smashes in a cacophony of tiny shards and piercing silences, "Reshi, I need you!" It's a childish tantrum. Bast's mouth tastes bitter once he gets the words out.
They are alone behind the bar, and Kvothe stands very, very still. His eyes darken to a dangerous green. He locks his jaw. He does not shout. "Enough, Bast," he says, cold, hard.
Something settles in the pit of Bast's stomach. "No," Bast snaps, pushing forward. "I'm not going to sit here and watch you forget who you are!"
"Forget?" Kvothe is furious—the word is a low hiss. He takes a step towards Bast. Suddenly he seems dangerous—the Kvothe Bast remembers. The Kvothe that killed a king. "I haven't forgotten anything."
Bast holds his ground, lifts his chin, curls his lip. "How can you say that? You never play music anymore, she would want you to-"
Kvothe's hand cracks across Bast's face.
The blow is so unexpected Bast does not have time to prepare himself. His head snaps back. He tastes blood. Stumbling, he falls to the floor, glamour vanishing like a chill of cold water.
Kvothe stands over him, staring at his hands. His eyes are wide and green and horrified. He looks like he's woken from a long sleep—confused and terrified at his new reality. "Bast," he whispers, "Bast I—"
Bast stands, pausing to spit blood out on the newly washed floor. He doesn't know what to think. Doesn't know if he should run now, run back to his home where he can dance for years in bliss, surrounded by music and moonlight and animal instincts. He desperately wants to. He wants to go back to a time when his desires weren't so twisted and complicated and aching.
But he can't.
He knows he can't. He belongs to Kvothe—they are intertwined somehow, their stories tied with fate's string, sewn together. Bast cannot leave while Kvothe lives.
Kvothe is not crying, but there is a redness to his eyes, and he reaches for Bast with shaking hands. Bast sidesteps, evading the embrace. "I'll be in my room," he says, coldly, "when you remember who you really are."
He leaves Kvothe slumped over the bar, and runs up the stairs.
That night, Bast sends out his messages, whispers tales of the great Kvothe to the wind, and lets the wind have its way with the world. He waits by his window, watches the storm outside, and desperately hopes that someone-anyone-will just be curious enough to come looking.
Kvothe has not forgotten.
Bast sees that now, as his Reshi weaves the story of his life with careful words and extravagant gestures for the ever eager Chronicler. Sometimes, Bast wonders if Kvothe is a reliable narrator. The stories and myths he spins for them seem a bit extravagant, even for the powerful, dangerous man Bast knew. Still, Bast finds that he doesn't care. It doesn't matter if Kvothe is embellishing, it doesn't matter, because he sees his Reshi again in the three days of story telling. He sees the man with the laugh like music, the mischievous boy who dragged him out onto a rooftop in the middle of the night to look at the moon. Even if it's only for a little while, he has his Reshi back.
And that's enough.