Teaser or summary: "Dias closes his eyes..."
Notes: This was written for a Dreamwidth Community called NewGamePlus. The prompt was a little something like this: Characters/pairing: Ashton/Dias
Optional details: Absolutely anything with these two.
You'd think this would be a no brainer since I like both characters, but the problem is that I don't actually "ship" them. So, this fic turned out to be far more difficult than I though. That's pretty typical with me, but it's still a nice change of pace from what I usually write in the SO fandom. Anyway, enjoy!
Dias keeps his eyes closed because he’s only interested in the cool wind and the feeling of sunlight. He is oddly relieved that he wins the battle against Claude Kenny, and he isn’t sure why. Dias doesn’t really analyze it beyond ‘whatever’, but the slight idea that he could have lost still lingers. If Ashton Anchors didn’t sit in the audience, then he would have never felt relief. Dias is certain of this. He remembers losing to the younger warrior in last year’s tournament and he still bears a small mental scar to this day. He knows that there will always be someone stronger and more powerful than he will ever be, but Dias rather it be Ashton. Why? It’s quite simply, really. Ashton has nothing to prove.
Dias wonders if those creatures are for real. When he finds that they are, he knows who to blame, but he still finds the whole thing amusing. He realizes that his relief comes not from defeating Claude, but from realizing that those dragons are the reason WHY Ashton could not compete this year. It’s still a slight relief though--Dias made sure that he’d be stronger this year, the next year, and the year before next. He knows that his desire for strength will never change.
He doesn’t know how he ends up traveling with his ‘little sister’ and her friends, but he is in the party with a slew of other people he doesn’t speak to much. Claude is there and they speak sometimes, but not very often. Dias just sleeps when he isn’t doing anything else. He does, however, wonder how Ashton manages to wear his robes with those dragons on his back. Dias thanks his lucky stars that he isn’t stuck with active monsters who bite and growl at each other.
When he observes Ashton in battle, Dias knows why he lost in the previous tournament. Ashton fights like a holy tornado with lights so bright, they can burn the eyes out of anyone who comes too close. It’s never evident outside of combat, thanks to Ashton’s whining about how ‘unlucky’ he is, but even Dias knows better than to push him too far. Claude holds his own, but he lacks finesse. Not that the odd blond needs any, but still, Dias likes to see grace under battle, and he has yet to see that with Claude.
Dias wonders if he’s dreaming, just like when his family died right in front of him. He remembers finding himself on another world and honestly trying to figure out how they got here. He watches Ashton and wonders if he is thinking the same thing. ‘That did not happen. Expel is not gone. The beautiful redhead and his equally beautiful second-in-command are liars, and who are the Ten Wise Men? What the hell are they talking about?’ Dias remembers that the redhead has the same colored eyes Ashton does, only the young warrior is a brunette. Dias prefers brunettes. He leaves the blonds to gentlemen, and redheads to the crazy.
When he hears things about ‘bringing Expel back,’ and ‘do this, do that’, Dias knows that it’s all for real. He feels nothing but the urge to move right along like life always does. There is no other option. Everyone else appears to do the same thing. He doesn’t blame them since there is no other option. He does what he can to adapt to this new world of weird things like ‘transporters, ‘Psynards’, and whatever, but he really wants to go home sometime. Beyond that? He just wants to sleep with the hopes that they are dreamless. The last thing he wants to see is Rena wondering if he’s okay because he just had a nightmare about something far worse than a tournament loss.
Dias is unable to comfort Claude. That’s what Rena and Ashton are for. He never tries to figure out what is in this place known as “Phynal,” but he knows that the deaths of those Claude clearly loves are for real, and he gets the feeling that they won’t get to be ‘brought back’. Dias never wonders why the Wise Men would do something that cruel, but nothing surprises him, not even the resounding defeat of Nedian forces and his own group. Despite all this, Claude continues to smile, Ashton does the same, but Dias does no such thing. Even before his own loss, he is never one to smile and he isn’t about to start now.
He opens his eyes to the unreal sky and remembers that he is in a place called Armlock. He feels an unusual wind blow past him and he notes that its Claude shaped. Dias shrugs, figuring that grief finally hit the young blond. He looks toward some sort of food place, and he decides to walk in.
The first thing Dias sees is Ashton sitting alone in front of what has to be the hugest drink he has ever seen. The second things he notices are the wait staff laughing their asses off. Ashton is red faced, and even the dragons are quiet, but he’s still drinking the milkshake that is clearly meant for two.
“Hey, Ashton,” Dias finally says that he walks over to the table.
“Oh, hi,” Ashton lowers his head, probably wondering if his luck is going to get any worse.
“Are you on a date?”
“I was, but . . . ”
“I see.” Dias looks outside, realizing just what Claude is running from. He shakes his head. “Mind if I sit?”
“Go right ahead.” Ashton replies as he makes room for the tall swordsman.
“What the hell is this anyway?”
“They call it the Heartthrob. It’s a chocolate coffee drink for two.”
Dias raises his eyebrows. “Coffee drink?” He shakes his head. “I was under the impression that coffee is supposed to be hotter than the sun, strong as death, and darker than a moonless night.”
“Hmph. Maybe . . . ” Ashton smiles. “But, I like my coffee the way I like my men: sweet and strong.”
Ashton shakes his head. “Actually, I was thinking more like you.”
“Me?” Dias knows he would lose his jaw if it isn’t screwed on his face. “You think I’m sweet?”
“You certainly are strong, but when you want to be--”
“No way! You’re only saying that because you’re the only one who managed to defeat me in Lacqour.”
“Still sore over that?” Ashton drinks from the Heartthrob while the dragons are snickering.
Dias grabs a straw and gulps down a mouthful of what tastes like surprisingly strong dark chocolate coffee. He finds that he could drink this for years, especially with Ashton sitting less than a few inches away. Dias decides that Claude is a fool for running away. Who cares what people think? Not like the Nedians care who one sleeps with. He likes that about this particular world. He also likes that he and Ashton can pummel anyone who tries to interfere with them. No one does.
Ashton is the first to pull away. “I can drink that for the rest of my life.”
“Would you believe that I agree? Still,” Dias leans against Ashton, “I prefer strong.”
They are in Fun City when they spar for the first time in over a year, and Dias loses again. This time, he’s not bothered as much because he knows that he can at least defeat Claude. He cares nothing about the noise, games, rides, and whatever people consider ‘fun’, but he indulges Ashton when it comes to barrels. Others think that there’s something wrong with the ‘boy with the dragons on his back’, but Dias doesn’t care. He knows that Ashton doesn’t either, and it’s not because he’s engrossed with a tall, colored, and beautiful barrel.
When they sit as the bar, they order coffee that contains the basic food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat. Ashton is looking at a brown barrel while the dragons sigh. Dias smiles, and realizes that he does this more around Ashton than anyone else. The dragons snicker.
“So, why do you like barrels so much?” Dias asks.
“Because they symbolize strength,” Ashton answers as he narrows his green eyes.
Dias blinks. “Strength?”
Ashton nods. “In fact, the only difference between a barrel and you is the width.” He laughs. “That, and it’s made of wood while you’re made of steel.”
“Hah. Now that I can take as a compliment.”
Dias fears nothing and with Ashton, he fears less than nothing. Add Claude, and the group has a “dream team” of warriors that no enemy can defeat. They switch between Noel and Rena when they need healers, but the three swordsmen are always at the front lines. No one is surprised. In town, Dias continues to watch Ashton watch barrels and whatever else catches his attention.
Before the final battle, Dias stands before the L’Aqua ocean not surprised that Ashton is heading his way.
“It’s a beautiful night,” the boy with the dragons on his back says. He looks up at the moon.
“Do you expect me to say something romantic?” Dias asks.
“Of course not.”
Dias looks at Ashton. “Do you expect me to do something romantic?” He faces the younger warrior.
“Of course not,” Ashton turns red, but he doesn’t look away. The dragons just blink.
“How would you like another sparring match?”
“You’d only lose, and it’s too late for two out of three.”
“I mean a different sort of sparring.” Dias is now so close to Ashton that he could easily kiss him if he wants to.
There is no winner or loser in this sparring match, and even if one of them does lose, Dias no longer cares. Ashton dozes on his tummy as the dragons sleep soundly on his back. Dias does not sleep. Instead, he is on his back, feeling like a million fol, and a hot cup of coffee. He knows that the battles before him will be the hardest they will ever fight, but he just feels ready. He knows that he will never have nightmares again. Dias closes his eyes, only interested in the cool wind and the feeling of Ashton right beside him.