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Detail Study (Critical Role)


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Jester loves to draw and she loves to draw her friends most of all. Since moving into their shared house it has been easier than ever, so her sketchbook is filled with sketches of each of them. Some comic, some serious, all done with love and attention to detail.

Increasingly, she has been turning her attention to the newest member of the party. All her friends are beautiful in her eyes, but they are all approximately humanoid in their features, more (the actual humans) or less (Nott). Caduceus Clay is another matter entirely. She has never known a firbolg well enough to sit and stare and sketch. She longs to sit and let her pencil understand his long, silken ears, the broad, animal planes of his face and his neat little nose. It is pinkish and rough with slit nostrils and a fine line from philtrum to lip- almost like Frumpkin the cat’s but not quite. She is yet to sketch it to her satisfaction but when they are not out on adventures Caduceus seems to value his time alone, and she hasn’t plucked up the courage to ask him to sit for her.

Opportunity knocks unexpectedly on a rainy day.

Jester sits in the kitchen, dipping a pastry in her milk and watching the others of the Mighty Nein emerge from their rooms to join her at the table. There were battles yesterday and drinking last night, so today there are stiff limbs and hangovers. No hangover for herself, which always makes her a little smug, and Caduceus doesn’t drink either so why hasn’t he come for breakfast yet?

When he does make it downstairs, he looks as worse for wear as any of them. He used every drop of his magic yesterday and judging from the slump of his shoulders he hasn’t recovered yet. His lanky frame is draped with a thick shawl while his cow-like ears droop down sadly. Even his beautiful pink hair seems less vibrant than usual. He announces himself with a fit of husky, ticklish coughing that makes everyone turn their heads.

“'Duceus sounds like shit.” Beau observes to the group at large.

When Caduceus folds himself into a chair but neither speaks nor even reaches for a cup of tea, Fjord leans over to put a hand on his arm. “Hey, are you, uh, doing okay?”

Caduceus clears his throat and sighs. “Oh hey. No, I’m afraid not feeling too well.”

“Do you need some healing? Or I have probably have a potion.” Jester suggests.

“That’d be– - chsch’ue!

He hesitates and turns his head suddenly to sneeze over his shoulder. He recovers with a soft little sound that makes Jester’s heart hurt and finishes, “that’s really kind but it’s just a sniffle. I don’t find magic works too well for those.”

“Actually that’s true.” She agrees solemnly. “If it gets really really bad and you get a high fever or you have a lot of pain then I can try, but otherwise it’s a waste of a spell. Sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry. I think I’ll just rest today and wait for it to pass.”

With that in mind. when the rest of them decide to head out into town, there is a (rare) unanimous decision to leave Caduceus at home in the warm.

Fjord pats him kindly on the shoulder on the way out of the door and then reaches a hand to smooth Caduceus’ hair from his brow, eyes narrowed thoughtfully. “Well I don’t think you have a temperature. I’d suggest that you drink lots of tea but I know you will.”

Jester is packing her things into her magical backpack, but looks up for this little exchange. This opportunity is too good to miss.

“I’m going to stay home and take care of Caduceus!” She announces.

“Does Caduceus get a say in the matter?” Caleb asks wryly.


“That’s nice.” Caduceus agrees. “I’m going to make some tea to help me shake this, but you’re welcome to have some, Jester.”

“See, it’s all settled. Have fun you guys.” She ushers them out of the door and into the rainy street with a smile.

When they have the house to themselves, Caduceus disappears up to his rooftop garden and returns with a handful of herbs to make himself one of his healing teas. Jester herself settles into her favourite spot on the sofa and tucks her legs under herself to watch him. He can’t seem to keep his hands from his nose as he potters around the kitchen- sniffling and rubbing, blowing his nose or pinching it roughly. As the water boils, his breath gets quick and chaotic for another sneeze.


“Bless you.”


There is something very endearing about the big, earnest firbolg and his surprisingly soft sneezes. There is very little sound but they make his shoulders shrug and his head bob fiercely, like a cat shaking off water.

And here comes another- his brows arch in hesitation and he manages to mutter a “S'cuse me-” before tipping forward into the handkerchief again.

“Aww, bless you,” she croons fondly. “You know, because you’re so tall I expected you to have a really loud sneeze, like Fjord. Or Yasha. But it’s just little and soft.”

“Doesn’t feel little.” He groans.

“Well it’s very cute.”

“Good?” He shrugs, perplexed but pleased, and returns to worrying under his nose with another handkerchief.

Now seems as good a time as any to ask the question, so-

“Caduceus, can I draw you?”

“Don’t you draw me all the time, and everyone else?”

“No, I mean, since you’re not doing anything and I really, really want to draw you, could you sit somewhere in the light and sit really still for me to draw you? Please?”

He considers this and nods. “Of course I can. So long as I can take my tea with me. I’m very good at sitting still.” Well, that was easy.

Happiness bubbles in Jester’s stomach as she directs the tall firbolg into the windowseat where he can rest his cup on the sill. The grey light from outside is still enough to illuminate his hair from behind, bringing out the rich rose tone of it. It also brings out the shadows under his eyes and the raw hue of his poor nose, which he rubs at ruefully as she guides him into place. She spots him shivering and adds a throw blanket over his knees.

“That’s perfect. Just stay like that, okay?” She gives him a kiss to the crown of his head and sits in front of him with her sketchbook open.

Caduceus sits still, almost slipping into meditation to the gentle sound of pencil on paper. She has fixed him to gaze towards the window, but he can make her out as a blue blur at the corner of his vision. She seems so happy. That’s nice. He would be perfectly content if it wasn’t for the irritation of his throat and nose. He sneaks a hand up to rub it and manages a few passes before his artist objects-

“Hey, you have to hold still so I can draw your properly.” “I’m sorry, Jester. Bit of an itch in my nose.”

“Well don’t scratch it.” She says.

Caduceus duly tries. His philosophy is to help people however he can and if that was what Jester wants he will comply. It is easy at first but grows rapidly more difficult as his nose starts to drip. He can feel the moisture tracking into the soft, velvet fur under his nostrils. It is desperately ticklish.

“Can I move now?” He pleads, his voice breathy and helpless.

“Wait for-” his companion begins, but before she could finish, Caduceus tips forward with a whippish sneeze.

“heh— MPShh!”

He manages to direct it over his shoulder and recovers with a quick, wet sniffle.

“Bless you, bless you.” Jester tuts and reaches to rearrange him back into his former position. She begins sketching again, tilting her head at different angles and humming with satisfaction as she works.

He dutifully holds the pose for a long as he can before his cold catches up with him again in another, “MPSH-shue!” The sound is soft but emphatic.

“Bless you.”

“S'cuse m-eh-” His bass voice topples into a wordless, needy sound and he cups his hands hastily over his mouth and nose for another.

“Bless you!”

His sniffling is becoming increasingly damp, threatening to spill over his upper lip, and he presses the back of a hand there as he rummages in his pockets for a handkerchief. He gives a series of short blows but his sinuses immediately flood again, whilst the pressure makes his forehead spike with pain.

“That didn’t feel good.” He says aloud, half to himself.

His teifling companion has been watching him, spellbound, but at this she makes a concerned noise and puts down her sketchpad. Jester crosses the room in a few light steps and alights on the side of his armchair to give him a hug.

“Poor ‘Duceus. I thought you were okay earlier but now you sound really crappy.”

He sniffles in response, which turned into a little cough that makes him push his fingers under his eyes against the ache. When he opens them, her expression is so worried and sad that he laughs in spite of it all.

“It’s really nothing. It’s what you get when you live in a magically heated cemetery your whole life and then you mingle with lots of new people, I suppose. It’s not so bad apart from my head, when I move too fast.”

She nodded understanding and snuggled in tighter, wrapping her arms around his torso as high up as she can reach.

“Do you want me to rub your head? That’s what my momma would do for me when I had a headache.”

“I-” images of his own family gathered around flash in front of him and leave him feeling sad and strange. “Yes please. That would be nice.”

It takes a few moments for them to find a way to settle. The sofa is only just long enough for his to lay out on, so it takes some comedic shunting to get him comfortable with Jester sitting upright and his head in her lap on a pillow, angled to help him breathe. Once there he lies quietly, sniffling and looking up at her with his eyes glowing like pink sapphires.

She has not known any of his species apart from Nila and Pumat(s) Sol, and she can’t imagine either of them letting her indulge her curiosity this way. She starts tamely enough- smoothing her fingers through his hair and rubbing circles into the shaved sides his head. When he does not object, her fingers migrate to his large ears. They are rounded like a cow’s but more delicate by far. She has never pet a deer but this is how she imagines it might be. When she digs into the hollows in front, where she assumes his sinuses must meet his ear canal, he groans with pleasure, sniffles a little and seems to breathe more easily.

This also gives her an excellent view of his fascinating nose. His nostrils are thin and tear shaped, and she can see them flaring ticklishly when he sniffles. They are always a delicate rose pink, but right now they look irritated and chapped. Poor thing. First she runs her fingers down the sides of his nose, feeling the short fur on the bridge of it get finer across his cheeks.

Emboldened by his lack of protest, she smooths up the bridge itself as though petting a large cat. Finally, fascinated, her fingers drift to his nostrils and trace the hairline crack that divides his upper lip.

That, at last, is too much. His whole nose twitches in irritation and a large hand reaches up to grip her wrist.

“Maybe not there, Miss Jester.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Was that too personal?”

“It’s not that.” He sits up out of her lap and blinks at the ceiling with round, wet eyes. She can see tears gathered on his long lashes. “I thought I was gonna sneeze. Maybe…hhhh...”

He turns away from her abruptly, draws a mammoth breath in and… nothing.

“Ugh, it’s gone. That’s really frustrating.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Not your fault I think.” He mumbles, distracted.

The soothing spell of the moment before is truly broken as Caduceus raises himself to a sitting position and sniffles woefully. His broad hands are cupped against his face but nothing happens.

Jester feel something as she watches him squint and shiver ticklishly. It is novel to see him so helpless against something so small, to watch him when he too distracted by his own body to watch her, that gives her a feeling of guilty power.

“Caduceus?” She asks slyly. “Do you honestly, really really want to sneeze?”

“Yes. Honestly.”

“And that wasn’t too personal, what I was doing before?”


An idea is forming. “Okay, you sit there for oooooone second.”

She darts back to her journal and the set of paint beside them, and returns moments later with a slim, fine-tipped paintbrush. She tests the edge against her fingertip and feels the firm, soft edge. That should do nicely.

“What- sniff- what are you-?” Caduceus manages. He hushes when she sits cross legged in his lap and takes his jaw in both her hands, tilting her head to him. She has a truly excellent view of his nose now. His lovely hair is swept back and can admire the animal line of the bridge of his contrasted with his strong human jaw.

“Shhhh. Just trust me, Okay. I’m going to make you feel so much better,”she promises, and touches underneath his nose with the end of the brush.

The firbolg flinches away reflexively and then leans back in when he realises what she is doing and that it isn’t painful, just a little weird and impossibly tickly.

“Is that working?” Jester inquires, half to hear him to try to speak.

“No— wait, yes—“ his breathing becomes rapid and shallow. But he still hovers, as sniffling and itchy and miserable, just with tears tracking down through his fur and a blush rising to match his hair.

In a moment of boldness, Jester slips the brush just inside one of his nostrils and traces a tiny circle. This time the reaction is immediate. Caduceus pushes her off his lap in his haste to turn away and tuck a handkerchief over his face

“-uh-CHSch-ue! CHSch-ue!”

There. Still not loud but it’s emphatic enough that when he raises his head he doesn’t look so irritated anymore, just tired and kind of hazy. The wet sheen in his eyes makes Jester’s always-soft heart melt at once. Now that the moment has passed she feels a little guilty for putting him through it.

“Does that feel better at least?”

He considers and nods. “Yeah. Yeah, it does actually. It was just- sniff- it was a lot.”

She comes to sit by his side and settles her arms around him in an embrace. He is tall enough that his relaxed response settles his head on top of hers. She can feel his breath ruffle her hair as he sighs heavily.

“Do you think that was maybe a bit weird?” She wonders aloud.

“I’m not the best judge.”

“That’s true. Just a little bit of weirdness between friends.”

He nods, his mind clearly somewhere else, then adds, “I don’t think I want to try it again just yet. I feel like I need a lie down- you’ve worn me out!”

“Oh, I’m sorry!” She gets up and offers her hands as if her tiny form could actually help haul seven feet of firbolg up standing. He takes them anyway and then gathers the blanket around himself like a shawl. “Yes. You should go rest.”

“Can you finish your sketch?”

“Yes, I can add in the rest of the details later probably, and if I don’t like them I’ll make them up. It might make you look better than in real life.”

“That’s not hard at the moment.” He agrees, coughing softly against his fist. “See you later.”

“See you later.” She echoes, and watches him disappear up the stairs to his room.

The living room feels very empty without so much pink firbolg but Jester doesn’t mind. She lies on her belly on the rug to add the rest of the details to her interrupted sketch. With care she adds the delicate line down the centre of his nose and the exact slit shape of his nostrils, then begins shading in the delicate fur there. She even hums to herself as she works, perfectly content.

She knows herself too well to say that her curiosity is ever fully satisfied, but this morning certainly came close. And when Caduceus will wake up, she will see if she can make good on her offer to take care of him. That’s what the Mighty Nein do, after all.

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I like this fic so much omg. I was thinking about how Cadeuseus would sneeze and then I see this fic. Very well written!

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That was so good. Those are a pair I usually think of together but this all worked so well. It was thoroughly enjoyable. Thank you so much.

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