Categories > Games > Final Fantasy 6 > Heart's Ease


by white_aster 1 review

Locke makes a strategic retreat.

Category: Final Fantasy 6 - Rating: R - Genres: Drama - Characters: Locke, Sabin, Setzer, Shadow - Published: 2006-04-08 - Updated: 2006-04-08 - 1939 words

Shadow supposed that he should have been happy that Locke waited until they were almost to Sabin's and his quarters before passing out. I must, he thought as he shifted Locke's dead weight on his shoulder, get friends that can hold their liquor better.

Sabin had evidently sobered up enough to beat him there, and he looked up from where he was sprawled on the bed, still in velvet and boots, when Shadow hauled Locke in. "Mmm? Oh, how'd it--hells, what happened to him?"

"Drunk. And passed out. Move over." Sabin rolled obligingly, and Shadow let Locke fall to the bed. Locke bounced a bit and started snoring softly, muttering something about pickles.

"Drunk?" Sabin pulled his hair out of its braid and idly carded a hand through it. His eyes were on Locke, his brow furrowed. "Damn. What's wrong? Did he tell you?"

Shadow pulled the letter out of his pocket and handed it to Sabin silently, then worked on getting Locke out of his boots and vest while Sabin read it. He knew Sabin'd finished it when the swearing started. Shadow mostly tuned out the nonspecific cursing of a certain general, her stupidity, and the world in general. "--dammit, what the hell's going through her head?"

Shadow shrugged, pulling the covers out from under their prone guest. "Don't ask me."

"Stupid woman. Um...Celes, not you." Sabin sighed, looking down at Locke again. "Damn. Poor guy. This, after that other girlfriend of his.... Pretty shitty luck."

Shadow shrugged, but had to agree. He nudged Locke into position under the covers and pulled them over him.

Something evidently occurred to Sabin. "Umm...not that I'm complaining or anything, but why'd you bring him here?"

Shadow sat on the edge of the bed to take off his own boots, flexing his toes. "I found him on top of the parapet looking like he was thinking about jumping off. I thought it might be a good idea to keep an eye on him until he sobers up."

Sabin cursed a bit more under his breath as he wrestled his coat off. It hit the floor carelessly, as if it weren't worth more than most people made in a year. Sabin swayed only a little as he reached down to unlace his boots, then stretched as he stood and stepped out of them. He looked down at Shadow thoughtfully. "Hey."

Shadow looked up from where he was unloading himself of the hidden daggers and shuriken he'd worn that night. The process took a few minutes.

Sabin smiled, leaning down to kiss him. "You did a good thing."

Sabin's lips still tasted of wine and the rich cake they'd had at the party. Shadow almost smiled at that, both of them resting contently, if a little drunkenly, with their foreheads pressed together. "I know." He sighed. "Though I don't lay any odds on being able to stop Locke if he wakes up and decides to sneak out. Especially with us both in this condition."

Sabin grinned. "Are you saying that someone could sneak past the great Shadow?"

"I'm saying that the great Shadow is going to be sleeping a bit heavier tonight than usual. And Locke has been known to slip past me before. When he really puts his mind to it."

"We could lock the door?"

Shadow just looked at him.

"Er...Locke. Right." Sabin shrugged. "Eh, he'll have to get by both of us. And he'll be hungover, too."

"I certainly hope so." Shadow glanced over at the snoring thief. Locke had sprawled and claimed a pillow by winding around it. "I'm the first to admit I'm not good with people, but I didn't like the look in his eyes."

Sabin's palm brushed against Shadow's cheek, warm and dry. "We'll deal with it in the morning. Er...." He blinked at the bed a bit. "How're we know...arrange him while we sleep?"

"Both of us closest to the door."

Sabin considered that seriously for a minute, while Shadow settled his blades in their scattered homes for the night. "We could put him in the middle? That'd be harder for him to get out of without waking us, right?"

"And have him wake up, hungover, in bed, with us on either side of him, and you probably wrapped around him like you tend to do when you're drunk?"

Sabin nodded. "...right. Bad idea.... Glad you're here to think of these things."

"Don't mention it."


Locke woke groggy and hungover in the barely-light of dawn, with no clue where the hell he was. He blinked, hoping that maybe if he waited a bit the curtains and table and chair might become familiar. As the world swam into focus, he started to take stock. Hell, s'not like it was the first time he'd crawled out of a bottle someplace weird. This place couldn't POSSIBLY beat the chocobo stall....

In bed. Clothes still on. Somewhere quiet. The night before came back to him, and hell, he MUST be somewhere in Figaro Castle still. He'd talked with Shadow and they were going somewhere....

A shift and a deep snore behind him nearly made him scream like a girl.

Slowly, ever so slowly, Locke levered himself up and turned his head, the joints grinding and popping like they were filled with sawdust.

Locke stared stupidly at the two men in bed with him for a long, long moment. Shadow was closer, Sabin spooned close to his back like some kind of overgrown kid, one arm thrown over Shadow's waist. Shadow was hunched a bit forward, one arm thrown in front of him as if he'd tried to crawl away from the hug in his sleep but didn't quite make it.

Locke couldn't help snickering, but the movement made his headache pound sickly in his temples, and he lowered his head back down to the cool pillow. I've got to get out of here. Holy hells, talk about embarrassing.

It took every ounce of stealth he could muster, but he managed to slide out of bed without waking either Sabin or Shadow. Shadow twitched a bit but didn't wake when the floor creaked under Locke's foot. The hunt for his boots and vest in the semi-dark was even less fun than he'd figured, what with the bending over involved and the pounding in his head. Eventually, though, he made it over to the door, boots in hand. He set his hand on the doorknob, looking back over his shoulder.

They make a cute couple. I guess. In a sorta sweet but still horribly wrong sorta way.... Locke shook his head, undoing the lock and sliding out into the hall. The guard stationed twenty feet or so down the hall didn't even bat an eyelash at him coming out of the crown prince's chambers at a godsawful hour of the morning, nor when Locke pulled his picks from his sleeve and relocked the door. Locke was obscurely grateful for that and gave the guy a sheepish wave as he passed.

Edgar found the kitchen with only two wrong turns, bobbing and weaving through the bustling kitchen help to find something to eat that wouldn't make an immediate reappearance. The smell of frying bacon and roasting meat made his stomach all but roll over in his belly. He ended up filching a carafe of juice and a nice, safe stack of toast. He peeked in the dining room, plastered to the side of the wall so he didn't get run over by the neverending flow of servers going to and from the hall. The way his head was feeling, he wasn't up to a loud room. Luckily, the last of the day guardshift was just leaving, and most of the court wasn't awake yet, leaving the grand dining hall only about a quarter full and rather quiet. Locke spotted a familiar fall of white hair down a black coat, though, and headed that way. Setzer always knew how to properly commisserate with the hung-over.

"Well, well," Locke said as he sat down across from Setzer, "look at this, two ne'er-do-wells up at a respectable hour."

"Mmph, not by choice, can tell you that," Setzer mumbled into his coffee. He did look a bit worse for wear, yawning with the tone of a man who got significantly less than his required eight hours of sleep the night before, and perhaps even skipped them completely.

Locke sipped his juice and nibbled cautiously on the toast. "What, you got something going on today?"

"Mm." Setzer roused himself with a visible effort. "Appointment in Jidoor a few days from now. If I don't leave early enough today I'll probably miss it. The air currents over the oceans've been tricky since the Ruin. Don't want to get caught in something with no time to spare, you know?"

Locke nodded. Reassured when his stomach apparently had no objection to toasted bread, he reached for the jam, thoughtfully. "You're heading to Jidoor, then?"

"Uh huh. Why? Need a lift?"

"Thinking about it," Locke said, eyes on his knife spreading sugared strawberries on his toast. He could almost FEEL Setzer looking at him.

"I thought you said you were going to stick around for a few days...."

Locke straightened himself up, dredging up a smile that he wasn't sure fooled Setzer even a little bit, by the slight narrowing of the other man's eyes. "I was. Just forgot something I needed to do, and Jidoor's on the way." Don't ask. Please don't ask....

Setzer's eyes, when he didn't have on his carefree gambler mask, could be almost as sharp as Shadow's. Or Edgar's. Which made it maybe not the best idea to get on an airship with him for a few days. But Locke didn't think that he'd be able to look Shadow in the eye again maybe ever, and what Shadow knew Sabin knew, and what Sabin knew, Edgar would figure out in about three seconds, and...the idea of staying here with everyone knowing and walking on eggshells around him and giving him pitying looks....

Locke would take having to dodge a curious gambler over all that sympathy any day.

Setzer finally shrugged and resumed poking at his eggs. "Okay. It's your business. And you're more than welcome on the Falcon, you know that." He finished off his breakfast, mopping up the last bit of egg yolk with his toast in a way that made Locke vaguely queasy. "I was wanting to take off in about an hour. That all right?"

Locke smiled, and it felt a bit more genuine, if pathetically grateful. "Yeah, that's fine with me. I just need to get my stuff."

"Great." Setzer threw back the last of his coffee like it was liquor. "I'm going to go see to the Falcon. See you later, then."

"Yep. Thanks."

"No problem!" Setzer waved as he made his way between the long tables. Locke couldn't help but smile as Setzer deposit his dishes on a serving girl's tray with a florid little bow that made her blush furiously.

Locke sighed and stared at his juice. He should really say something to Sabin and Shadow. Thank Shadow, or just...something. After last night, if he disappeared without a word, they might think...well...something worse than the truth.

In the end, after he gathered his things from his room, he took the coward's way out: he wrote a note and gave it to a servant to deliver.

"Sabin, Shadow:
Going to Jidoor with Setzer.

It was running away, and he knew it, but he could deal with that.

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