Oneshot, slightly AU. Surprise pairing, and a little EdgarLocke. Banon, in the hideout as the WoB changes to the WoR (abbreviated for spoilers), looks back on all the things in life he probably sho...
He never should have stopped at the damn castle.
But there had been the sandstorm, and the chocobo had been tired, and Arvis wasn’t with him this time around...well, what was he supposed to do? Stay out there and die?
Looking back on it, he thought it might have been better. But he didn’t look back too often; it didn’t do to dwell on the past.
The castle was where he met the king. He was tall, of course, because as the Figaroan line went, they all were, but he was funny, too - he made everyone around him laugh. He had two young sons, twin boys, but he was a good father to them, even if he did flirt with the maids where they and his wife could see. He was handsome. He kind of reminded Banon of the desert sun - hot and bright, and sharing it with everyone around him.
Banon probably shouldn’t have accepted his hospitality - he probably shouldn’t have come back to visit again, and again. But he did.
And he got...rather attached, to the Figaroan king.
Really, he probably shouldn’t have done that.
Taking the job at Vector was easy enough. Back then, the Empire was something to be proud of, and they weren’t so picky about who they hired. It was a good excuse to keep going back, anyway - after all, his job was to keep up good relations between Vector and Figaro, and he didn’t think even the queen had quite the good relations with the king that he had.
He probably shouldn’t have taken that job.
He should have left and let someone else do it.
But, well, he couldn’t seem to keep himself away.
He had cute kids. Like all kids, they were annoying and particularly underfoot when privacy was wanted, but they were cute. Mostly well-behaved. (Mostly.) The younger of them had a particularly bad knack for walking in on things he probably shouldn’t have been seeing, but he never said a word, and as far as Banon was concerned that was fine by him.
Banon wondered why the queen didn’t kick him out when she found out about it. He expected her to be angry or maybe even just hurt, but she was glad, she said, that her husband had finally found someone who could keep up with his sex drive. She supported them until the day she died.
Sometime after that Banon asked him out of the blue if the relationship was just sex.
He probably shouldn’t have asked.
He should have just been happy with the way things were. He shouldn’t have questioned it, because what if it ruined everything?
But, well, he’d wanted to know. He was just curious...
He probably shouldn’t have been so happy when the answer was No, you idiot! - he probably should have just shrugged it off.
But, well, with the king just grinning at him like that, and the day being such a nice one with the desert sun shining down hot and bright, and everything just feeling so good...
He couldn’t have helped himself if he tried.
The job required him to go back to Vector sometimes. He never stayed long, and didn’t go back too often - it was kind of tough being away. (At least the sex was good when he got back.)
Still, though, he had to leave once in awhile. More and more often, lately. Figaro and Vector weren’t getting along too well, these days - their rulers saw things a bit differently, and Figaro didn’t really want to accept Vector’s invitation to become allies.
So much for good relations.
He didn’t really want to leave when things were so tense, but he was due back soon. He’d get fired if he didn’t go.
Looking back, he thought that it probably would have been better to be fired.
He probably shouldn’t have left.
But, well, he hadn’t known any better.
When he got back, the King of Figaro was laying on his deathbed, sickened with poison that could not be cured. He was awfully cheerful and upbeat about it, considering he was about to die. Everyone else in the whole damn kingdom was mourning and trying desperately to save him, and here he was on his deathbed writing dirty letters and laughing over their worry.
He really did have the best sense of humor.
Looking back, he thought that maybe it was the best thing about him.
The sun seemed to stop shining in Banon's world, once he finally moved on.
He probably shouldn’t have skipped the funeral.
He was sure it looked very rude.
But, well, the service was open casket, and he never could bear the thought of seeing someone who had once been so full of life laying still and cold and dead.
He probably shouldn’t have been so angry.
Or...he didn’t know what he was. He felt empty and full all at once, hot with rage one minute and overwhelmed with exhaustion the next. It shouldn’t have been so difficult. It shouldn’t have affected him so much. He should have taken care of the kids, at least - they had it rough, now, what with one being missing and the other having to take the throne before he was really a man, himself.
But he never could make himself go back.
After the King of Figaro died, he never set foot in the place again.
Still, if he had loved anything, he had loved his sons.
So Banon helped them out in another way instead.
He probably shouldn’t have started the Returners.
They were the ones who caused all the damn trouble in the first place.
If not for them, the world could have waited ten, twenty, maybe even fifty more years before all hell broke loose...
But the only man he’d ever loved was dead and never, ever coming back, and he never could just - just make himself sit back and do nothing, when things were going wrong all around him...
He probably shouldn’t have done it.
But he had to try.
Locke Cole was kind of crazy, but he was Banon’s favorite Returner. A little overwhelming sometimes, but he got the job done, always. He had something going behind him that made him determined to get it right. He always said it had something to do with being a treasure hunter, but Banon knew he was the worst kind of liar and anyone who couldn’t see the boy was a thief just plain didn’t have eyes.
He was such a hopeful.
Banon probably shouldn’t have sent him to Figaro.
He should have picked someone else. He should have let a girl go, or one of the older men. Not someone so damn close to Edgar’s age (Banon could never think of him as the king), not someone so likeable, who could so easily get attached.
At the very least, he should have warned Locke it did not do well for worldly travelers to get attached to desert kings.
But he just couldn’t find it in him. And a few months later, when Locke claimed he wanted to go live at the castle so he could play bodyguard to his best friend, Banon didn’t stop him.
He probably shouldn’t have let him go.
Because he knew how it’d turn out in the end.
Those first few months were the worst. The Empire was sending assassins after Edgar, and Locke and Edgar holed up in that stupid castle trying to fend them off together - he knew it had to be tough. To be honest, he was surprised when the story ended differently than what he expected - Gestahl gave up and offered to ally with Figaro instead. Edgar lived, and Locke got to keep his best friend after all.
Still, he knew, nothing could last forever.
When they brought the witch to his hideout, it was easy to convert her. To make her see who the good guys and bad guys were. To let them go their own way - to approve of Edgar leaving his nice safe castle to go on some adventure - that was harder.
But he was getting old, now. He couldn’t travel the way he used to, not after spending so many years hiding in his cave to avoid the world, avoid the grief that came with seeing the desert sun, hot and bright, hanging in the sky even when there was no sand on the ground at all.
He let them go.
After all, he was just the brains of the operation, now. All true hope rested on them. So he let them carry hope with them, taking the burden away from his shoulders, no longer strong enough to believe that there were happy endings. He himself had been a hopeful, once, too. Maybe he hadn’t gotten much done, but perhaps the ending to their story would be a little different. After all, if they had beat the odds once...
It was the last leap of faith he ever took.
He probably shouldn’t have let them go.
But he did anyway.
After all that mess in Narshe, all he wanted to do was crawl back into his cave. He wasn’t used to being outdoors so much - to going to other people when they usually came to him. He hated having to think too much about anything, to get attached to any one person. He was staying with Arvis - but Arvis seemed to understand, even if he didn’t agree.
He told Banon to go.
That he’d send word if anything were to happen.
He probably shouldn’t have.
He’d never see Arvis again, after all.
But he’d needed to go, so much. He didn’t want to see the sun anymore.
The cave was empty, now, since the Returners had cleared out long ago, but at least the Imperial soldiers had seemed to find it worthless, too, after burning everything inside. He sat on the floor of his old room, the furniture laying in charred pieces on the floor around him, and he waited. He wasn’t sure what he was waiting for - he kind of wished those dirty letters from Figaro hadn’t been burned up, so he had something to do - but he survived. He endured.
He didn’t get up again until he saw the sky turn red.
The sun looked different.
It wasn’t small and hot and bright anymore, but big and orange and weak, and it was bathing everything else in that sickly orange light, too. Something was happening. Something big was happening, something that should have been scary. But he felt no fear in him, only this strange calm he never could have described.
The hideout was empty, the mountain unpopulated.
He was truly, utterly alone.
He probably shouldn’t have gone outside.
He probably should have stayed in his cave.
Tried to live.
But then again, in his life, he had done a lot of things he probably shouldn’t have done.
He watched the sun dying as the first of the explosions rocked the world, tearing it apart forever. They didn’t stop; they kept coming. Liquid fire and destruction weighed down the air. It hurt to breathe, hurt to think, and still he did anyway. Somehow he could hear people screaming, even though the people were all so far away now.
“Well,” he growled, and he was still looking at the sun, for it was the first time he had ever done so without it hurting his eyes, “I tried.”
The trees around him wilted; their leaves fell off and turned to ash as they were carried away by the roaring wind.
“I know I probably shouldn’t have,” he continued. “But I guess it just made me miss you less.”
The earth shook. The bones of animals lay stilled on the ground; birds dropped out of the sky, bleeding and raw.
“I gave it my best shot, I really did,” he sighed, then, and sank down against the wall of the cave. Still in his cave, but he could see the sun. It looked all wrong like this. “I hope they’ll be okay, but you never know. They did all the things we never could. I think they’ll make it.”
The world cried out its protest, its pain, its fury; things and people were all dying, the air and soil sullied forevermore, and nothing would ever be the same again.
“I’ll see you soon.”
And Banon closed his eyes against the blood-red sky as the final explosion tore at the earth.
He probably shouldn’t have.
But it was better this way.
He did not see nor feel the end.