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Me and You with Wings on Our Feet

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There were no Eternal Scouts when they were boys. There were no Blood Pact Scouts, Weird Scouts, Dreadnaught Scouts, Dark Scouts, or Fear Scouts, either, and Cecil is both wistful and glad about that fact.

Oh, the adventures they could have had! The eternal honor that could have been theirs! And yet, there is this: he would never have met Carlos. Or perhaps he would have. Perhaps from his position in front of the City Hall, he would have caught a glimpse of a handsome man in a lab coat, perfect hair fluttering in the breeze. It is some consolation, but he is glad, all the same, that he is able to touch Carlos, to hear him speak. He is glad he is not trapped in a glass box outside the City Hall, forever sixteen.

For he is sure he would have made Eternal Scout, had there been such a thing when he was a boy. From age eight to eighteen, he had thrown himself into scouting with a passion eclipsed only by his love for community radio and perfect dark-haired scientists.

He thinks about it often, after Earl is taken. How could he not? We could have had something, Earl had said, but hadn't they?

What had it been, those cold nights camping out in the desert, huddled close for warmth, awkward teenage fumbling and cut lips from Earl's braces. What would you call that, if not "something"?

It's been years since Cecil thought about their Eagle Scout initiation ceremony, but he finds it on his mind quite often now. Night Vale had been just as proud of its Eagle Scouts back then as it is now of Franky and Barty.

The eagles were majestic, their wingspans stretching the width of the town square. His heart raced, his palms were clammy, but he stood his ground as one of the eagles approached him, its beak dripping with the blood of boys not found worthy.

He was not afraid. He was not afraid. Earl was by his side, proud and terrified as Cecil will now always remember him. The eagle opened its beak, jagged teeth flashing in the sunlight, and let out a silent shriek that seemed to pierce right through his brain. He was not afraid. You mustn't be afraid.

Their eyes locked, Cecil's and the eagle's, and his heart swelled as the eagle bowed its head, acknowledging Cecil as an Eagle Scout. The lack of screaming from the crowd surely meant Earl had been chosen, too.

And then, as the crowd began to cheer, Cecil and Earl mounted their eagles and took flight, leaving behind their fallen comrades, those brave boys whose names would not be remembered, whose families must now return home to begin the process of erasing their presence from their lives.

But up in the sky, Cecil did not have time to mourn them. High above Night Vale they flew, Cecil and Earl and the eagles, and that night, they celebrated, just Cecil and Earl, now, the eagles gone back to wherever it was they came from, to do whatever it was they do when not slaughtering Boy Scouts.

Earl had recently had his braces off, but he bit Cecil's lip till it bled as they rutted against each other out behind the Arby's, still wearing their scout uniforms. They were frantic, giddy with the honor of being named Eagle Scouts, and so glad, so very, very glad to be alive.

We did have something, Earl, Cecil murmurs to himself.

It's true they had lost touch after graduation, when Cecil went backpacking across Europe and Earl did whatever it was Earl had done. Cecil isn't really sure, actually. He should have made more of an effort to reconnect once he returned home to Night Vale. He had seen Earl around, but it had always been awkward somehow. He hopes never to feel that way with Carlos, to have that knowledge of once having been so close and yet now nearly strangers.

He does regret losing touch like that. But that's just what happens, isn't it? One day you're best friends and then fifteen or perhaps twenty years later one of you is a local radio host and, not to brag, but somewhat of a town celebrity, and the other is being dragged off to another dimension by strange, mute children.

Such is the way of things.

Yes, such is the way of things.