Locke's been given potentially lethal orders from Banon to go Vector to retrieve some important documents, so he comes to speand his last night at Figaro Castle, unwilling and very much unable to t...
“What are you doing here?” Edgar murmured, surprised, eyebrows jumping up at the sight of Locke laying face-down on his bed, boots kicked off, absorbed in some kind of reading.
“Passing the time,” Locke replied, showing Edgar the cover of the book. “I didn’t think you were the type to be into mythology, Edgar...I mean, this stuff is crazy. Magic? Warring gods turning people into weird talking animals? Esper - it sounds like a shoe polish.”
Edgar frowned and squinted at the book’s title, then walked over to his dresser to take off his various ribbons and jewelry-type things he had to wear in court. “I’m not into mythology,” he said to his mirror. “That’s - well - that’s why so many of the smaller nations are worried about the experiments in Vector.” He didn’t notice Locke stiffen.
“Geez, and here I thought they were worried about Vector because Kefka and Gestahl want to kill us all,” Locke muttered, averting his eyes from the book. “Sure as hell seems like enough to worry about to me.”
“It was a long time ago...supposedly,” Edgar said. He was in his walk-in closet now, taking off his cape and putting into the hamper, undoing the laces of his boots. “Not really sure, myself. I asked my tutors when I was younger, and they said it was written off of recorded history. But...”
“I see what you mean,” Locke said. “It sounds like a load of garbage to me. Now if I ever get fire to come out of my hands, I might change my mind, but...”
“Ridiculous, I know,” Edgar said, leaning against his bedpost now to look down at the page Locke had been reading. “But Gestahl and Kefka have been saying some really odd stuff lately, and...you can’t be too careful.”
“You don’t actually believe this stuff?” Locke asked, sitting up to make room for and to narrow his eyes at Edgar. “You? You’re the most logical person I know. I mean, Kefka’s a nutjob, but I don’t think even he’d actually believe...”
“Unless he was really sure,” Edgar supplied quietly, sitting next to Locke and studying him. Something was...off. “Kefka is...a pretty unusual person. A nutjob, I suppose.” Locke’s casual wording felt strange on his tongue. “He even makes Gestahl nervous. Not that I’ve sat down to chat with him about it, but...what is it?” Edgar asked Locke finally. He looked so troubled!
There was a silence.
“They made you work late tonight,” Locke said at length. “You remembered to eat dinner, right?”
“I did,” Edgar said, going with the subject change easily enough. “Actually, I was procrastinating. My apologies. I wasn’t expecting company.” He smiled a little when Locke waved him off - he knew the thief hated formalities, thought they were silly, but they were practically a reflex for Edgar. He was still new enough, with this thing with Locke, that he let them slip out once in awhile. “Were you waiting long?”
“Nah,” Locke lied, “I just got here a few minutes ago.” He glanced down at the cover of the book with an unhappy look on his face and tossed it none-too-gently towards Edgar’s bookshelf. It missed, and remained laying closed on the floor. Locke sighed. “I’m not picking it up.”
“You don’t have to. I do have maids, you know.” Edgar chuckled, now, at Locke’s rolling his eyes. Locke thought his maids were silly, too. “So what did you come by for, anyway? Not politics, is it?”
“Oh, so now I need a reason to come see you?” Locke teased. “Maybe I came by just to make out.”
Edgar grinned. “Not that I have any objections, my dear thief - ”
“ - right, right - but I must say you seem rather troubled,” Edgar finished. Locke didn’t look at him. “Locke.”
Dark eyes finally found Edgar’s and Locke sighed, laughing a little at himself. “I dunno. I guess I was hoping you’d tell me for sure there was no such thing as magic and I was being a dumbass for even wondering.”
“It’s kind of like reading ghost stories right before you go to bed,” Locke explained. “It’s stupid and only makes you worry over nothing and you shouldn’t do it.”
Edgar’s eyes widened at the implications of this. “You’re going to Vector?”
“Yep,” Locke said, exhaling slowly, trying to keep himself casual about it. No big deal, right? “Came by to tell you I might not come for the meeting this week.”
Was that what had been bothering him so much? “Of course,” Edgar said finally, “I understand. May I ask why - ?”
“Banon,” Locke sighed, “has it on an unmentioned and reliable source that the Empire’s making some new kind of weapon. Magic and technology combined - it’s called MagiTek. I have to go in and get the plans so we know what we’re up against. I, ah, get to sneak into the technological facilities...they call it the Devil’s Lab.”
“I know,” Edgar said quietly, and his good mood was gone. Locke rarely worried about anything, as far as Edgar knew, so if it was all that bad...Edgar himself was prone to worry a lot easier than most, and sometimes worried over stuff Locke called “absolute bullshit”. He had quickly gone from being mildly curious to extremely concerned. There was a long silence.
“I, ah, was wondering if I could spend the night,” Locke said finally. “I’m hitching a ride on that airship - it’s going to land near Figaro soon to restock, so...”
“Certainly,” Edgar said, surprised, unsure what to say to Locke’s worry. He had never been one to have to reassure the thief - it was always the other way around. “It’s late,” he added, “did you want to go ahead and lie down, or - ?”
“Yeah,” Locke agreed. “Yeah - I gotta get up early.”
So they took off their shirts, and Locke pulled off his socks, and they crawled into bed, Locke resting like he usually did with his head on Edgar’s shoulder, near the place where said shoulder met the king’s neck. He sighed once they had settled; even with this, Edgar’s arm around his back and shoulders, in the softest bed he’d ever slept in, he didn’t think he’d be able to sleep. All was silent, until finally, Edgar spoke.
“Please be careful,” he murmured, voice low. “Locke - I don’t want you to get hurt out there.”
“Of course,” Locke laughed weakly. “Save my recklessness for a place that can actually handle it, right?”
“Right,” Edgar agreed with his own half-hearted chuckle, arm tightening around Locke’s thin frame.
“Last time I went to Vector,” Locke said, slowly, “I nearly got killed. I’ll definitely need to be more careful this time. Can’t cause much trouble for the Empire if I’m dead.”
Edgar’s breath left him in a rush, and his arm tightened further around Locke. Neither one of them had really wanted to say it, but - Locke could die. He wasn’t indestructible, even if he was good at wiggling out of tight places. He bled like any man, and he could die. Was that why he had come? To say his goodbyes, just in case? Edgar couldn’t bear even the thought. It was so pessimistic, so unlike Locke, that it hurt.
“All right,” he said finally. “All right. So - don’t die. D’you hear me, Locke?” he asked, looking down at him. If he lost this - having Locke in his arms, in his life - he didn’t know what he’d do. “Don’t die.”
Locke looked back up at Edgar, dark eyes burning with something the king couldn’t quite place. “I hear you,” he whispered. “I won’t die.” That look - what was that, anyway? But Locke dropped his head back onto Edgar’s chest. “If I’m honest,” he said, still whispering, “it’s nice to have somebody who wants me back - me, and not whatever the hell I was supposed to go get.”
And Edgar realized what it was. Being a thief - or treasure hunter, whatever - along with the very brief story Locke had told him about getting kicked out of Kohlingen, had to result in feeling unwanted or lonely or both for Locke, a lot of the time. Edgar dropped a kiss to the top of his head, and rubbed his back a little. “Of course I want you back,” he said, and he realized he couldn’t quite put into words how much he wanted Locke back, really.
“Then I’ll be back,” Locke murmured. “Edgar, I - I’ll always come back to where you are, okay? Since you want me. I promise. And Locke Cole does not break his promises.”
Another quiet pause, and finally Edgar said, “I’ll be holding you to that, Locke.”
“Go right ahead,” Locke said. “You’ll see. I’ve never broken a promise in my life. You can count on it.”
But the next morning, when Locke woke before Edgar and before the sun, he spent a long time watching him sleep - to burn the memory in his mind, just in case. He kissed Edgar while he was still sleeping, his silent goodbye, for he knew this might be one promise that could not be kept.