Fahn remembers an old friend, and Jayle makes a promise. (Newfic. Pre-game, one-shot.)
Jayle was always grateful for a chance to rest.
She sat curled on the floor of a small study, her arms tucked under her knees, staring off into the distance and allowing her mind to wander. Fahn's house was not large, but it at least afforded them some degree of comfort and of privacy; he had enough status for that. This country practically idolized its Knights, she thought with a shudder.
Sometimes she wondered exactly how much the Knights could get away with, and what exactly would happen should she ever be discovered. And she had every reason to worry, having let her guard down once - one mistake, one wrong word in the wrong place could destroy her. Already the other soldiers seemed distant and scornful of her, always staring at her with cold eyes and whispering behind her back.
Did they know? Had they somehow discovered, or guessed at, the reason she spent so much time with their commander? Were they watching her, waiting for that one mistake that would doom her?
No, that was ridiculous; Jayle told her self that over and over again, as hard as she could. If they had discovered her secret they wouldn't be polite enough to wait for proof; they would come straight away and find it themselves. Then they would take everything away from their commander for keeping the secret, and then....
Jayle shuddered as she thought about what they would do to her. She had heard the men talking about women and their ways and what grotesque things they'd like to do to one if they ever had the chance. And she had always had to force herself to laugh as loudly as they did, or else they might have suspected her.
No, it was jealousy, most likely. They didn't know she was a woman, but they hated the green young Knight who had suddenly won such favor with their commander. Their envy was dangerous in itself, but at least it was something that she could fight against.
Fahn was sitting at the small table by his bed with a quill in his hand, scratching a message onto a roll of parchment. He hadn't told Jayle what was on his mind, probably to shield her from some political danger. He was a bit like her father in that respect, what she remembered of him... never telling his family when he was unhappy so that they wouldn't worry so much.
Jayle sat down against the wall, watching him write. She wished that he wasn't so somber, that she could somehow make him smile, but there wasn't anything she could do to ease those worries. In fact, she knew with a growing sense of guilt that she was one of his worries. He hadn't touched her again since that night two weeks ago; it seemed that he believed they had gone too far. She wasn't sure how she felt - lying with him had been the first time she'd felt alive in years. And yet... she knew why he hesitated. Already she knew enough to worry; if their one time had been a horrible mistake, and a child had been conceived, what would they do then? Such things were difficult to hide for any woman in Crell Monferaigne. For her it would be nearly impossible.
After a while Fahn sighed and put his quill away, pushing the parchment aside. "I hope that the King's men will listen to me," he said wearily, "but Magnus is a powerful man. Most likely my petition will not be heard."
"I know." Jayle didn't say the rest of it - she didn't want the King to punish him. She wanted to kill the bastard herself, watch him die in front of her like she'd watched her family die. She wanted him to suffer for every year she'd spent alone.
Fahn looked at her then, eyes tired and back bent as if by a great weight. "It makes me weary, Jayle. An evil man should not prosper in this place while..."
He trailed off then. Jayle was uncertain about what to say - she wanted to hear the rest, but she did not want to upset her captain, and so she waited.
"There was a man that I knew when I was young," he finally said, and stood. "He was a good man, a Knight sworn to the King himself, and though he never spoke of it I knew that he paid something of himself to gain his position. I think that perhaps I was his closest friend, that he respected me despite my age, as I respected him..."
Jayle said nothing, but she stood as well, smoothing down her rough grey tunic. She was not wearing her armor, although she still wore the bindings on her chest; it was too risky to ever take them off, painful as they could be at times.
"His name was on everyone's tongue then," he continued, looking into space as if he could see into that distant past. "But now none of the Knights will speak of him. He was disgraced utterly, ordered into an impossible situation by the King and his advisors, and the truly tragic thing was that his sense of duty would not allow him to abandon an order he knew would destroy him." He shook his head. "Good men should never be destroyed so easily."
"Captain..." Jayle said, then paused - no, not so impersonal. She knew what he was thinking, what he did not say. "Fahn, I... I won't allow that to happen."
He looked back at her, blinking in surprise. "You're very perceptive, Jayle," he said dryly. "But if they ever wish to destroy me, I do not think you'll be able to aid me. Not without paying a very steep price-"
"I don't care. I mean it," she said fiercely. She still felt an aching in her soul, from the time she had admitted to him and to herself that she was weak; now she felt an overwhelming need to prove that she could be strong. "I won't let anything happen to you."
"Jayle..." He seemed to be about to say something else, then just smiled. "I sometimes wish," he said quietly, "that I had met you under some different circumstance. If only I could have known you as a woman...."
"I... I'm sorry," she said, looking away from him and shaking her head. She'd imagined the same things... but there was nothing that either of them could do. As long as she stayed in Crell Monferaigne, she would be in this disguise, and he would be her Commander. They could not afford to make any more mistakes.
"It's all right, Leticia," he whispered. "I know you only do what you must."
"Fahn..." She walked up to him and touched his face, an act more daring than it had a right to be. "I... thank you."
"I should be thanking you... you're the one who just promised to protect me."
"I'm only returning what you've already given me," she countered. "I..." I love you, she wanted to say, but the words died on her lips. How could she say it and still be able to live under her mask?
He said nothing else, just reached out and took her hand and squeezed it. They stood together in silence, and Jayle found herself wishing that she could stay with him like that forever... that he and she would never have to go back out there and be commander and soldier again. She just wanted to be with him as the gods had made her... but she couldn't forget her duty to her family. They had been slaughtered like animals, and she knew that she had to avenge them, because there was no one else that could. And until she did...
Maybe someday, when this is all over, I'll disappear, she thought. And I'll come back as Leticia - there won't be any more reason to be Jayle - and I'll find you, Fahn, and then we can be... we can be something more. The thought made her smile, although she knew how unlikely it was - even out of her disguise surely someone would recognize her. She doubted that the Knights would forgive her charade that easily.
But even if she could, that day was far in the future. For the moment, these stolen moments and memories were all they had.
A/N: Written for insert_phrase on lj, then edited and posted here because I liked it.
I'm convinced that Fahn knew Janus in Crell Monferaigne before Janus was exiled, and that the two were friends. I know that it isn't canon, although as far as I know there's nothing that contradicts it. (I've looked for Fahn's official age before and never could find it, and the game gives very little information about either man's pasts.)