"Locke knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that there were two things he loved. The first was Edgar Figaro. The second was freedom ... and, so, he was having a conflict of interests..." Locke has a ...
The first was not so much of a thing as a person; and he was a male person, but Locke hardly cared about that. He had found out the hard way that he wasn’t very compatible with women, even the ones that weren’t all giggly and girly and all those other things he couldn’t understand. So he loved this male person instead, loved Edgar, and really he loved him a lot, so much so that he couldn’t exactly figure out the right way to word it. When he had been told he was going to have to go to Vector for the Returners, Edgar had popped into his brain first, and to Edgar was where he went, and where he stayed that last night before he left.
And it was to Edgar he’d promised to come back to no matter where he went - a promise he had never dared make to anyone else, even Rachel, and it was Edgar he had come back to, after Vector, after he’d broken his arm and nearly lost his head to a damned security robot. He remembered very clearly staring up at the balcony attached to the king’s room and just knowing that if he could get up there, injured as he was, he would be perfectly fine. And he had gotten up there, had stayed up there - lived in Figaro Castle pretending to be Edgar’s apprentice for two months while his arm healed, and staying even after that because he couldn’t bear the thought of leaving.
No, there was no doubt in Locke’s mind that he loved Edgar Figaro, first and foremost. He was half-crazy with it, couldn’t stand for the thought of being somewhere Edgar wasn’t.
The second thing Locke loved was, in short, freedom.
Ever since he had left Kohlingen, he had been his own boss. He went where he wanted, when he wanted; he ate what he felt like eating and slept wherever he chose. Money, to a treasure hunter, was never a problem - if he ran out of provisions for food or shelter he could simply find some more, and so he had lived on his own, traveling, exploring, watching the sun set in a different place than he had seen it rise, doing what he pleased when he pleased and answering to no one, save Banon, who he Returned for when the man needed it. Locke loved it - spending all his life in that tiny, isolated village was so very different than living in the big open world, and he knew as soon as he left he’d never be able to go back to living like that.
Save for one reason.
Locke loved Edgar, who was irreversibly, permanently bound to Figaro, that was to say one place, with chains that held him, grip vice-like, to his throne. And at the same time, Locke loved his freedom - loved the world outside this one castle. He loved green grass and trees and animals and rain, and he was loathe to give them up.
Locke was having a conflict of interests.
And he was doing a terrible job of hiding it.
Sometimes Edgar would catch him staring out the window, with this kind of blank look on his face, and Locke would jump guiltily when he realized he’d been caught. Or he’d mention the name of a place he had been in passing, and realize too late by looking at Edgar’s face that he spoke with entirely too much enthusiasm.
And he knew Edgar knew - knew he felt stifled by this castle as its walls, by the stretch of desert separating him from the rest of the world. The castle was a cage - a golden one, filled with soft beds, good food, and better company - but it was still a cage nonetheless, and the idea of spending all his days in the same place, of not seeing all there was to see...if he ever stopped to think about it for too long, it was absolutely suffocating.
“I can empathize, you know,” Edgar had told him once, when they were about to fall asleep. Locke, head on Edgar’s chest, had stiffened, upset he had been figured out, but Edgar kept his hand on the small of his back and he relaxed in a moment. Edgar continued, after a pause, “Sometimes I feel the same way.”
Locke hadn’t said anything. His ill-kept secret embarrassed him - really, if he loved Edgar, shouldn’t that be enough?
“You can go,” Edgar had added uncomfortably. “If it’s that bad.”
And there was the easy way out. Locke could leave - Edgar had said it was all right, after all - and not have to feel guilty about it. He could go out and live again, be in a different place, see something green and listen to the rain and not be suffocated by these four walls and this golden cage that trapped him. As much as he’d been deliberating it, it had been time to choose...
“I want to stay here,” Locke had said finally. “I’m happier this way.”
He had been honest - as suffocating as the thought was to him, to stay chained to one place as Edgar was, for as long as it might be, he knew he couldn’t leave, didn’t want to leave, because really, to him, Edgar was more important than breathing. And he found that once he had made that choice, it was easier to deal with - he’d fall asleep on Edgar and wake up reflecting he was lucky to have Edgar at all, or he’d see him grin while he was working on his machines and wondered how he had ever thought he could live without seeing that look on his face every day.
And Locke would grin back, run his hand over the top of Edgar’s head, and smile with satisfaction as he listened to the king complain about the state of his 'poor hair'.
As a treasure hunter, he realized there were all kinds of valuable things that seemed to show up in all kinds of strange places, and more often than not he would search them out and sell them to make his own way in the world. Locke had seen jewels, and silver, and gold, but he’d never found any treasure worth keeping.
Still, he thought he would hang onto this one. Golden cage and all, he decided, watching Edgar retie his hair and get back to work, this was something he could never give up.