written for the final fantasy ficathon '05. NB: I can't write Edge as anything but dark haired. Also, I know the game translation is something along the lines of "OMG Sp00ny Bard!!11one I kill u now GRRBAAAH!" but really I prefer a more Vagrant Story-ish dialect. Somehow "a girl from Baron was stopped from falling down. Do you know Cecil?" does not lend itself to angsty narrative. /waffling
"You're jealous," Edge said, his voice as quiet as the caves of the moon, unaccusing.
Kain's fingers did not completely fumble the whetstone, the adamantine edge of his spearhead slicing neatly through his skin, blood blossoming over the metal. Kain's eyes were pale in the shadow of his helmet, hard and cold and sharp, like his spear. "You should mind your own business, Prince of Eblan."
"I think it's the business of anyone with eyes," Edge said. He crouched down on his haunches. "Not that you would know, since you never look at anyone but her. And him. And them."
"I thought," Kain said, wiping blood away with his thumb and sighting the line of his spear, "the Ninja were famed for their silence." His spear was true and straight, and at the end of it beyond the fire lay Cecil and Rosa, golden and snowy and sleeping against one another.
"And sadly, less so for our honesty of feeling." Edge reached up and pulled the cloth away from his face, leaning back against the crystal cavern wall. He followed the target of Kain's unwavering spear, and shook his head. "In Eblan there would be none of this heaving sighs and moaning about. We settle this sort of problem neatly, and fairly."
"Open dueling, no doubt," Kain muttered, and not quietly adding, "heathen."
"We try to limit the dueling, as it deprives us of good warriors." He made a careless gesture with one hand, a crescent-shaped throwing blade shining a moment in his fingers, and then vanishing. "Usually they all go to bed together."
Kain snorted. "How unsurprisingly amoral."
"Better than for one person to be miserable, and two guilty?" Edge's dark eyebrows drew together, a familiar enough expression made unfamiliar by the visible curve of his smile. "You men of Baron, you are as stoic and unflavorful in love as plain black bread is to a banquet. You have no sense of the layers of love, its flavors and extraordinary versatility. You think only of simple nourishment."
"I will not be lectured on love by an idle prince whose only affection is for himself." Kain picked up his armored gauntlets, and thrust his hands into them. "Go and prattle to your reflection, before I make a good dish of your tongue."
"It is not a course to be taken lightly," Edge said, to the tightly laced leather visible beneath Kain's hip-plates. "In Eblan we do not waste fine things. We savor them at their prime, until they are spent, and then there is no cause to mourn their passing." His eyes flicked over the delicate bluing on Kain's armor, the buckles and straps, the fine line of his throat visible through the rings of his mail. "Though I forget how much Baron admires their cold dead virgins, putrefying in their own purity."
"At least we do not so relish the sounds of our own voices." Kain scowled, standing, not comfortable under Edge's unblinking gaze. "The summoner seems fond enough of you. Perhaps your reasoning would be better voiced to her."
Edge had no smiles then, shaking his head, making his pearl earrings sway gently against his face. "To everything there is time. I would not pick a blossom before it has flowered fully, and waste the promise. Would you?"
Kain did not answer, his eyes on the way Rosa fit against the curve of her paladin's side, the parted line of Cecil's lips.
"It's not Rosa you burn for, Dragoon. Is it."
Kain tossed his head, a curse ready between his clenched teeth. It died at the look on Edge's face, honest and unmasked, and something akin to sympathy. "Such things died long ago."
Edge rolled to his feet, a blur of careless motion. "How long were you lovers?"
Kain looked away, and the jaws of his dragon-helm guarded his face. "It was the sport of boys and squires. It has no place in the world of men."
"In men of Baron, you mean." Edge stepped closer. "You know," he said, with the tone of one changing the subject, "In Eblan we have a tradition of not removing our masks until the battle is over. But that really isn't practical." He paused, deliberately. "When one is hungry."
Kain made a small noise that, from another man, might have been a laugh. "Our provisions are low. There is only bread, Edge."
"I would not say so." Edge was close enough now that the cold ancient air of the moon's core could not pass between them without warming. "Take off your helmet."
Kain hesitated, but only for a moment. The fanged blue metal slid away and Kain's hair fell free, escaping its leather tie and pouring in shining gold over the shoulders of his armor. He looked at Edge and his eyes were full of the sky, haunted with the weight of stone above them. "I am no paladin," he said.
Edge's narrow eyes glittered, his hands deft. "Neither am I."
The darkness beyond the fire's reach was the only privacy they could afford, braced against the unforgiving stone as Edge found the gaps in Kain's armor, and the heat in a mouth known only for cold words. Edge's tongue was more eloquent when silent, and Kain's hands were not skilled on only the handle of a lance.
The ring of firelight shrank, the chill of the caves settled in, and Rydia rolled over once in her sleep. Kain lifted his head and saw Cecil looking beyond the fire, into the darkness. And though Kain knew Cecil could not see past the light of the fire, still the paladin closed his eyes and turned away. And Kain, his hands in Edge's hair and buried in his heat, did the same.