|volte_face (volte_face) wrote in kinkfest,|
@ 2007-09-01 21:05:00
|Entry tags:||a: volte_face, f: dragon quest viii, p: alistair/angelo, september 01|
[FIC] "A Game of Ghosts" Dragon Quest VIII (Alistair/Angelo)
Title: A Game of Ghosts
Warnings: Spoilers for most of the game
Word count: 2,605
Prompt: 6. Dragon Quest VIII, Angelo/Alistair: watching out for little sister - "I wish we'd met under better circumstances. While we were both alive, for example."
A/N: Thanks to dragovianknight's page of Dragon Quest VIII resources, without which this story would have been even more inaccurate than it already is.
Alistair was dead. That should have been the beginning and the end of it—that was the beginning and the end, Angelo reflected. It was only that, during the middle part, things got muddled, or perhaps things were muddled by the very existence of said middle part.
Alistair was with them. Not in the literal sense, no, but in the sense that a paper doll holds the same shape as the paper sheet it was cut from. He existed in the spaces around Jessica, the gaps where part of her had gone missing, the sorrow behind her smile, the anger behind her eyes. He was not there in a way that outshone the physical presence of many people Angelo knew.
“Seven” is traditionally the ideal number for a quest—four guardians, two royals, and a mouse filled it quite nicely—but Angelo believed that “eight” would be more apropos for their party, and so he included their deceased companion in their number.
It was a game, of sorts, to fill in the blanks without the others catching on. He would catch Jessica staring at a passing Guardian Knight, all loose-limbed and clanking in his ill-fitting armor, and she would sigh in a melancholic way that was even less attractive than her usual hot temper.
Angelo would say, “I wonder if all Guardian Knights rattle about in their armor that way.”
And she would draw herself up in a most satisfying way (she had quite a lot to draw up) and protest that some knights were fit and strong and well-trained and didn’t have ridiculously foppish haircuts, unlike some people.
He took notes during her rant, while Eight ineffectively dithered by Medea and Yangus and the king took bets on how long she would go on this time.
Angelo’s mental notes read: Average height, well-muscled but not bulky, quick, short hair, no visible scars
Once there was a lovely pink flush on Jessica’s cheeks, Angelo dropped into a ridiculously deep and suave bow. “My deepest apologies for any unintentional offense I may have caused. I’m afraid that my interaction with Guardian Knights has so far been limited to a brief but torrid affair with one Sir Oliver de Argonia.”
It was depressingly easy, shocking his companions into silence, but that was balanced by the interesting poses Yangus would jump into and how the tips of Eight’s ears would turn the most fascinating shade of red. He checked that the distraction was firmly in place before continuing his story.
“Of course,” Angelo continued, “I was easily able to see through the disguise to her inner femininity, but you can imagine the scandal which rocked the abbey during that time.” The story was complex, exciting, and quite possibly true; it lasted until they reached the next rest stop, and Angelo thought it a proper reward for Jessica’s information.
He wondered if he weren’t going through an awful lot of trouble for something which didn’t directly involve money, beautiful women, or annoying his half-brother.
Nevertheless, he continued to return to the subject when opportunity arose. “Your barbs cut me to the quick, Jessica!” Angelo would cry, a dramatic hand pressed to his chest. “Was there ever a man who could match your wit or stand unflinching in the face of your temper?”
“There was at least one,” she would reply, and the sad look in her eyes gave Angelo a sharp, guilty pain. “He was...quite patient with me.”
Angelo’s mental notes read: a compliment to Jessica, rather than her match; admirable, if not exciting
“This mystery man must have been patient to take such fierce insults without retribution,” Angelo remarked, preserving the polite fiction.
“He didn’t provide so many opportunities for criticism as some I might mention,” Jessica said sharply, but her fond smile eased Angelo’s guilt. A happy memory, then. “Besides, he would find ways to even the score on the occasions I was too unkind, although I often wouldn’t realize it was him until weeks after.”
Angelo’s mental notes read: calm-tempered but not a pushover, crafty, capable of subterfuge, understated but wicked sense of humor
“He sounds like quite a guy.”
Angelo’s mental notes read: worthy of love and admiration, able to make Jessica smile in a way that made one’s heart twist just a bit
Alistair was coming into focus, piece by piece. Angelo contemplated offering a trade of brothers, a deceased saint for a living bastard, but he wasn’t sure which of them would get the upside of the deal. Besides, saying something like that was likely to earn him a disapproving look from Eight, so Angelo decided to save that particular comment for the inevitable night that they all got smashing drunk.
He stole Jessica’s locket once. Perhaps it was going a bit too far (certainly, Eight had frowned at him) but she had been moping over it and, truth be told, it had wanted a polishing. Under Jessica’s wary gaze and perfectly pursed lips, Angelo loudly and clearly explained the painstakingly detailed steps one must take to keep things to the Templar’s code. If he spent too much time on the inner lid, well, that was simply being thorough.
It was clear that the painter may be a great artist one day, but he was far too honest to be a great portraitist. Alistair’s eyes were focused slightly over one’s left shoulder, and the softness at the edges of his serious lips suggested that some unknown person was sneaking up behind you to slip ice into your britches.
Angelo’s mental notes read: auburn hair, high forehead, narrow face and pointed chin, dark eyes that— and stopped there before he indulged his urge for poetry
He tied one of his spare ribbons onto the chain and presented it to Jessica, who quickly snatched it back. She inspected it for scratches, and when it met her approval, she nodded and thanked him.
He mentioned that there were some socks that wanted darning if she were truly thankful, she casually dropped his ribbon into the dirt, and things went back to normal.
Alistair was slowly working his way into conversations. When Jessica was being cynical about love, Angelo tossed his hair in the brisk Ascanthan wind and, giving Jessica his most sultry look, said, “You’ll understand one day, when you’ve experienced true love for yourself. Perhaps I can offer my services on that front?”
Jessica turned up her nose and said, “Bring your services anywhere near my front and I’ll cut them off, you floppy-haired choirboy!”
In Angelo’s mind, Alistair said, “Would you mind not propositioning my sister so often? Having you revived at the nearest church is rather expensive.”
Angelo smiled and rationalized that at least it was a bit more psychologically healthy than mentally supplying Marcello’s constant disapproval. Between the monster attacks and moonlit gods and spoiled princes, things were almost companionable. Familial. Nice.
And then Dhoulmagus was defeated and Jessica was gone, and even before everything spiraled out of control again, there was a strange twinge of double loss instead of the expected thrill of freedom.
It was a long trek up the tower while on the search for the Kran Spinels. “Cor blimey,” huffed Yangus. “You’d think ‘e’d ‘ad a love affair wiv stairs or somethin’.”
In Angelo’s mind, Jessica said, “The architect makes lifts for the statues; you’d think he’d have the common courtesy to build them for us as well.”
In Angelo’s mind, Alistair replied, “I’m sure that’s next on his list. He’s probably been quite busy, building all these golems to keep us entertained.”
Angelo snickered. Eight looked at him oddly, and Angelo wondered if the game he played had passed the point of good taste. The group continued its journey up the tower, then back down the tower, to the edge of the continent, across the oceans, and finally to Alexandria.
The Kran Spinels were strangely warm, lying on the floor where Alistair had died. Angelo neatly tucked the gems into his breast pocket next to the locket and dirt-stained ribbon rescued from Jessica’s room.
He dreamt of Sir Oliver during the journey back to Arcadia. She was always a pleasant memory and a fond diversion. He slid slowly as always through the memories, the anticipation almost outweighing the impending pleasure. Dark eyes were framed by the stark lines of the helmet, then softened by a mess of shadowed hair. The gauntlets always came next, leather-scented fingers with sword-built calluses teasing his mouth, his arms, his chest. He unclasped the breastplate, savoring the knowledge that hidden under its hard straight lines was soft, curved skin.
In an instant, Angelo was flipped onto his back, a hand pinning his wrists above his head. He had a moment to think, “Well, this is new,” before he was utterly distracted by the slide of smooth skin against smooth skin and the hard press of a thigh between his legs. “I need your help,” Alistair whispered against his lips, dark eyes staring past him, and Angelo came so hard he woke up.
Angelo rolled onto his side and frowned. He didn’t much enjoy frowning, certainly if it wasn’t even connected to a sultry pout, but under the circumstances there was nothing but to do it. With a sigh, he rose and trudged over to Eight’s travel pack, rummaging through it until he could liberate Medea’s spare phial of spring water. He normally quite enjoyed stealing, but the target and situation made the entire process totally joyless.
He tapped a few droplets onto the spinels and muttered a brief revival spell. The air glowed with the vague outline of a man. There was a suggestion of some sort of helmet around the head, and perhaps a set of armor could be seen with the help of imagination, and then Alistair was gone again. It was just a fragment of a soul, Angelo determined, a stray collection of memory and desire, latched onto a powerful object and connected to the nearest person with emotional ties. Angelo recalled that there were ways to temporarily strengthen a shadowed spirit. Some of them were even pleasant, if a bit intimate.
Angelo gave up on sleep and fetched a sheaf of paper from is satchel. He sketched circles within circles, patterns and symbols, and scribbled out as many lines as he drew. By the time the others woke, the ground was littered with crumpled paper and Angelo was drawing his patterns in the dirt with a stick.
He didn’t hear Eight walk up behind him, didn’t even notice him until the boy stole the stick from his hand and added a series of loops to each quadrant, frowning in concentration all the while.
“Wot’s this, then?” Angelo jumped, and mentally groaned that if Yangus could sneak up on him, he really was losing his edge.
“I’m trying to recreate the array for the shield Dominico used,” Angelo said, “but I can’t quite remember all the details. As it stands, this arrangement wouldn’t work.”
Yangus scratched his rump in thought. “You’re missing a row of circles wiv dots in the middle of ‘em,” he said, waving a finger at one of the outer rims. “Now, I didn’t get a good look at the thing because of all the confusion and like, but I remember thinkin’, ‘Oi, ‘ere’s something that don’t make sense, our girl being ‘eld back by a line of—‘“
“Of course, now I remember!” Angelo snatched the stick back from Eight and squeezed a line of circles between the rim of triangles and the outer curlicues. He stood back and rubbed his chin, inspecting the array. Eight politely took the stick back and added an S to the northwest and southeast points. The array shimmered a bit, reacting to the ambient magic in the air. “Yes, that’s good! That’s—“ ‘really, terribly bad,’ Angelo stopped himself from saying.
Trode took that moment to accuse them of lollygagging, and Angelo kicked some dirt across the array, partially covering the goldenfly which had dropped dead the moment the array had lit up. He shrugged off any of their questions as ‘just being curious’ and determinedly did not frown for the rest of the day.
He drank half the phial of spring water that night, promising to apologize to Medea once Jessica was saved or he was found out, whichever came first. The effect was instantaneous, and the next thing Angelo knew, he was transported back to his dreams and a hard mouth pressed urgently against his own.
“I need,” Alistair gasped, his teeth pressing into Angelo’s lips as he struggled to talk while getting ever closer. “I need...”
“I need your help,” Angelo turned the words on Alistair, running his hands down a well-muscled back. “Concentrate. I need you to focus.”
“To save Jess,” Alistair said, his voice losing that distant, confused haze, and he focused his attention on Angelo’s jaw in a way that made his toes curl.
“Mm. The barrier. It will undoubtedly stop her, but it will almost certainly kill her in the process.” Alistair drew back, shock clear in his eyes as he began to fade. Angelo shoved his hands into Alistair’s hair and pulled, exposing a long line of throat and forcing the man’s eyes to meet his own. “Focus on me. Stay here.” He bit Alistair’s neck and rolled his hips until Alistair was fully solid and gasping beneath him.
“Can you...fix it?” Alistair asked, and his eyes were so cynically optimistic that Angelo almost laughed. Instead, he peppered a line of kisses down Alistair’s chest.
“No good at magic barriers,” Angelo confessed. “Absolutely no talent at all. No time, either.”
“Same for me. Jess was—ah!” Angelo had found a particularly sensitive spot “—always better at these things than I.” He chuckled sadly. “Of course, were she here to consult, the whole issue would be moot, I suppose.”
“I hesitate to suggest...”
“I know what I am to do,” Alistair said gently, in a tone that made Angelo pause. “Focus, remember?” Alistair teased, and drew Angelo into a brief, warm kiss. “It will be much easier to protect her from within the barrier, now that I know the shape of it and am much more coherent in my thinking. Thank you.” He brought Angelo’s hand to his lips and sucked at each fingertip.
“It will be the end of you,” Angelo cautioned needlessly.
“Just this small part,” Alistair said, splaying Angelo’s hand over his heart. They stared at each other for a moment, and Angelo realized that their connection remained strong without the constant, intense physical link. “I’m sorry our meeting came so late.”
“I’m sorry it came when you were dead,” Angelo replied. Alistair laughed and rolled Angelo over, pinning him to the ground. He proceeded to make the best of the time they had until morning.
The next day led Angelo back to Arcadia, and the battle with Jessica was just as if not more horrible than he had anticipated. It ended with Jessica freed from the scepter’s possession. She was so small, lying peacefully in the infirmary’s bed. Angelo spent the night by her side, casting the occasional healing spell, unwilling to let her out of his sight after she had been so badly beaten—beaten by him and the others, which left an awful taste in his mouth. “I realize we had no choice, but fighting a lady goes against everything I believe in,” Angelo said to the air. “Then again, I've never had a thing for aggressive women.”
In Angelo’s mind, Alistair was silent.
And that, perhaps, was the end of that.