Yes, and Yes
A streak of blue, and a streak of yellow. Glenn sighed, licking his finger and daring to touch the canvas. The colours blended as he pressed harder, and he glanced over his shoulder. Gogh, the local artist who merely lived down the road a bit, would throw a fit if he ever saw Glenn being so lazy. He smiled briefly. He supposed he never had advanced beyond finger painting.
His brother would stop by later. Ever since they had recovered Dario and restored his memory from the evil Masamune, he had been curiously protective of his little brother. Glenn didn't mind it as much now. At first, it had been an intrusion after long years of solitude, as he was unused to having a worrying brother. Riddel had always watched over him, of course, she had grown up with Dario and he and Karsh next door, but she was neither as forceful nor as intimately involved in Glenn's life as Dario had been, and had wanted to be again.
Dario was living at the Manor now, since he and Riddel were to be married in a month. Glenn had always had a place there, but he did not stay, preferring instead the homely comforts of the small shack where he had grown up. As much as it was joyous, though, Glenn was unsure of what feelings were evoked by Dario's return. Now that the battles were all over, the Frozen Flame restored and the Dragon God at rest, the planet seeming not to be in danger, he had had time to think. He wanted to truly realise his mind in light of the new perspectives, so many and so different that the members of Serge's party had and to develop one of his own. But he didn't know what it was just yet.
That was why he was painting. It had always offered a kind of solitude and a wonderful vacuum of a canvas to understand and spill out his thoughts on, to look at them later and know what he meant and figure it all out within the confines of the wooden frame and cloth. He had borrowed paints from Van and locked himself in the room, painting madly since around noon, and it was late at night already. He felt safe enough showing his face now, but even that came with its own pain.
The Porre invaders were clearing out, allowing him freedom again, but that caused a stab of misery in his gut every time he thought of it. Norris was with them, after all, and he would be leaving soon. He and the other soldier had formed a strange friendship, comparing and learning to respect the other's different fighting styles, so much that even Dario was surprised to learn of their companionship.
Painting was something he hadn't indulged in for years, disdaining it for his dragoon training and what he thought it meant to grow up, but he had loved it as a child. Some of his childhood drawings still hung on the walls of the shack, one of himself, and one of Riddel. Everyone had loved Riddel, even he, in his own childish way. He was so much younger than the others were after all, and while they were only separated by a year, no more, he was a good six years younger than they were entirely. He had sometimes felt awkward, intruding on their teenaged talk when he was younger, but they had always been kind, allowing him to join them, never rejecting him to the younger friends he did not have.
But it wasn't Riddel that occupied him. After all, she was to be married now, and had little time from the administration that her father was handing over of Viper Manor and the El Nido Archipelago to her and Dario. After the final battle, his friends had disdained his strange friendship with Norris, and while it had been a cause for remorse, Norris seemed to sense it, distancing himself from the young knight.
Glenn missed him. Norris had always put things into perspective outside the confines of the thinking of Dario, Karsh and Riddel, and often held the very opposite opinion. Yet for all his brooding nature, Norris was still a brighter star than he was, and that was why Glenn had clung to him. There was something about Norris that was so incredibly genuine yet different from what he knew, and he wanted to learn it all, to form his own opinions even when going against what he had been told. He had been shaken by the desire to learn what General Viper had been doing in Fort Dragonia, when he made the fateful trip to discover for himself in what Lynx was truly active.
And once he had met Norris, that shaking desire started again. Karsh hated Norris, and for good reason according to the older man, and while Dario was silent, Glenn knew he discouraged his friendship with the invading commander. Riddel was too infatuated with Dario to say anything, but no one he knew besides Serge even liked the blond man. But Norris had not so much symbolised another way of thinking, as he simply existed with very different views and perspectives. That interested him.
Glenn rubbed his cheek, cursing the pigment he smeared on his skin, but ignored it and continued to paint, rationalising that he would wash it off later. A knock came at the door, and he put down the brush, glancing over his shoulder. Dario would have come right in, but perhaps he was being sensitive to his little brother's frustration and wished to allow him privacy.
"Come in, Dario!" Glenn called, turning back to his work. The door swung open with an obscenely loud creak, and he continued, "Sorry about the mess, I'll clean it up soon. How are Riddel and Karsh? I assume you just came from the Manor?" There was no further sound, so Glenn shrugged, and smeared a stroke of blue along the outside of a dried curve of paint. "I know it's infantile to be painting like a little kid, but I needed to think. These things do not come easily to me, but I really believe that I am getting somewhere with it. It is relaxing and calming for what I need to think about. I may finally be turning into the adult you never wanted me to be."
Glenn focussed briefly on the black paint, cleaning his brush as he turned, then blinked. Norris stood in the shadows beside the door, his head down. Glenn stood, and Norris looked up, offering a wan smile. "I'm sorry, Glenn. Karsh just screamed at me, so I wanted to say...I'm sorry for interfering in your life, and being a bad influence. I'll be leaving soon, so he won't be able to yell anymore, and you won't get in trouble. But I also wanted to thank you for this wonderful experience, fighting beside you, talking in the evening campfire's light, travelling with Serge...I'll miss you. I didn't mean to interrupt your painting."
Glenn looked stricken. Would Norris just leave? He could not, Glenn had only begun to truly understand himself, and now his friend would leave him, simply because Karsh had yelled at him. He wished he could curse Karsh for such a detrimental thing, but instead he bit his lip, moving nervously to block Norris' view of the painting.
Norris looked shaken, his faced painted with stress and exasperation, a kind of confusion that could only slice Glenn's heart and evoke his sympathy. Norris had always looked too innocent, as if the pistol he held would sooner drop from his hand than be used. Now he just looked defeated. Norris had been assigned as a Porre liaison to General Viper, and had been officially welcomed as such, but the Devas still seemed to hate him, and Glenn was sorrowed to see it take its toll upon his friend.
"I wish you did not wish to leave, that Karsh has made it so difficult. I would ask you to stay, but it your decision, of course," Glenn swallowed, his voice hoarse. He choked further, stepping towards Norris, and the blond reached out, enclosing Glenn in his arms. Glenn winced as he looked at himself in his mind, dressed only in tunic and hose, and covered with paint besides, and despaired that he could not have appeared better for Norris' apparent last visit. He returned the hug, stepping closer, trembling as tears threatened.
Norris stepped away, glancing at the paint stains on his jacket with decided amusement and Glenn blushed, and stammered, "I will get some water to clean that up. I am sorry." Norris shook his head, and took off his jacket, smiling wryly. "If I can't visit again, at least this will be some memento. And look, the green covered up the insignia of the Porre military - perhaps it could look like an Acacia leaf?"
Glenn grinned weakly at that, clutching at Norris' arms as they fell from around him. Norris blinked, peering over his shoulder in distraction, "What were you painting?" Glenn backed up, shaking his head, "Umm, nothing. No, really! It was just something to clear my head!" Glenn protested as Norris grinned at the challenge. They wrestled for view of the canvas, until Norris dodged under Glenn's arm, then stopped short.
"I am sorry," Glenn murmured, as Norris stared at Glenn's vision of him. Norris shook his head slowly, and stepped closer, scrutinising the portrait. "I can't say the colour was ever so vivid, but I don't mind that you've painted a likeness of me. I just think I am poor subject matter," Norris murmured, his head down-turned into Glenn's shoulder with sincerity.
"I - I do not know why I painted it, but that it relaxed me, for you mean so much to me. And that has made the Devas hate you, I fear," Glenn mumbled, sitting down on the bed. He clasped the blond commander's wrist, drawing him down. Norris brushed his hair from his eyes, resting his forehead on his fingers briefly, then looked up.
"Glenn, I'm sure I've told you that hatred derives from fear. People fear the unknown, so they learn to hate it - you've seen it with the demi-humans on Marbule in Serge's world," Norris mused. Glenn looked up at the older man's words, then smiled wryly in comprehension, "So what are the Devas afraid of in you?"
Norris nodded, and the candlelight caught his hair. It glittered in the thin strands that accordingly fell on his face to escape into shadow. Glenn reached out and brushed the unruly locks back against Norris' scalp, and he smiled in thanks. Glenn caught himself, his distraction gone, considered the question. He had himself been thinking of it, what Norris had meant to him and how it hurt that his brother would make his friend leave - even if it was never so direct - but now he could turn those musings around. Somewhere in them he knew he could find the reasons that the Devas disliked Norris so. Surely there were some basic principles of warfare they would disagree with, but Glenn had always been intrigued by Norris' viewpoint, from a culture and lifestyle so very different from his own, and that had taught him many things.
"I don't know, I can't imagine what could threaten them. I have expressed several times that I do not wish to harm them or their positions..." Norris shook his head, slumping his shoulders under Glenn's reassuring hand. Glenn stroked over the arched back of his friend, rubbing tense muscle gingerly, and added, "I believe I have an idea of it. You think very differently from how they do, and that freedom, that difference seems to frighten them."
Norris looked up, arching a fine eyebrow at his companion. Glenn shrugged, and looked down at the floor. "But you grew up with them. So why aren't you afraid of me as well?" Norris asked softly, sliding closer on the bed. Glenn smiled at him, his thoughts congealing into a cohesive form, solidifying and interlocking to create the understanding he had been searching for in his painting.
"I am not afraid of you, my friend, because you do not scare me, but intrigue me," Glenn replied, his colour heightening. Norris smiled brilliantly, and Glenn returned a similar expression, coerced from him by the delight of a compliment.
"Thank you, Glenn. I am honoured!" Norris declared softly, slipping his arms around Glenn's shoulders in a grateful embrace. Glenn smiled, returning the embrace, then pulled back slightly. His shoulders ached, but Norris felt warm and comforting against him, his dearest friend. He wanted to melt into him, staring into the taller man's blue eyes, something connecting between them. He could sense it, suddenly fate had drawn them both to Serge, and now drew them to each other.
The door's sudden creak disrupted whatever fateful bond had just been awoken, and Norris jerked away, sliding into the convenient shadows just as Dario walked into the room. Glenn smiled wearily at his older brother, his devotion arising again at Dario's presence even as he shot a sorrowed glance at Norris, against the wall in the shadows behind Dario.
"You are painting, Glenn? I thought you had given that up for your training. That is what Karsh has told me, at least," Dario mused as Glenn stood before the portrait, blocking the visage of his friend on the canvas. Glenn shrugged in response, and Dario peered over his shoulder as Glenn blushed, his shoulders slumping at the concealed emotions colouring Dario's face. He had spent his childhood with him, so nothing was secret between them, and while he didn't mind his brother knowing all that went through his head normally, he did mind it when he desired some privacy.
"I cannot say I am pleased, but I do not have all the information from Karsh, brother. What say you?" Dario asked, his voice slightly irritated as he stared at the image of the Devas' enemy. Glenn narrowed his eyes, and replied caustically, "I say Norris is a fine, respectable man with views that differ from those held by the Devas in some, but not many senses, and that Karsh and the others have done him a great disservice by disliking him, not for who he is, but for what army to which he belongs!"
Dario arched an eyebrow, and retorted with a flushed face, "And who is he to you that you've painted him?" Glenn felt his own face redden, watching Norris out of the corner of his eye, leaning against the wall in absolute silence, without moving so much as to be obvious in breathing. He looked frightened, yet the blush across his fair cheeks, along with the encouraging smile, spoke of the honor given him by Glenn's words.
The younger brother faced Dario again, and steeled himself, answering quietly, "He is my dearest friend, with whom I conversed many a night over a campfire with Serge, and with whom I have travelled and fought alongside. He means a great deal to me! Damn it, Dario, it hurts when you, the Devas and dragoons totally ignore *who* he is for *what* he is! It matters not that he is from Porre, or that he served their invasion; for he questioned their orders, and broke from them, for he did not agree nor believe what they told him! Is not that the *ideal* of the Deva?"
Dario remained silent, then walked past Glenn to sit on the bed he had slept in as a child. Norris slipped further into the shadows, staying undetected as Glenn strode past and settled beside his older brother. "It seems that either he has muddled your head, or that we have done Norris a great injustice. And as you are my brother, I know your head is not so easily muddled!" Dario grinned, ruffling Glenn's hair. The green-haired man corrected his lavender ribbons, shooting a look over his shoulder at Norris, who had often teased him for them and now grinned merrily at their abuse, then turned back to the tall knight.
"Thank you, Dario. All of you, Karsh especially, have indeed done him a great injustice, even after he, or, rather, the other him, but still, saved Riddel from his own army. He is no turncoat, brother, rather he holds to his beliefs, and parts with any organisation that tells him to forsake them. I respect him immensely," Glenn choked out the last, feeling odd to talk of his friend while he was in the room. To have Norris hear what he truly thought, without reservation as it was between him and his brother - it was almost an invasion of Norris' privacy, yet Glenn could not think of why it might be wrong, when it felt so appropriate and correct.
"He has the honour that we thought to find so lacking in the Porre military. I am glad they are gone; but he has stayed, the General tells me, to become a liaison between him and the Porre government. A peaceful mission, I suppose. Yet, what do you feel for him, Glenn?" Dario asked, smiling. Glenn gulped, looking up at his brother, who grinned more widely at his startled expression and hugged his shoulders.
"Come now, Glenn. You are far too transparent to me. Do you care for him?" Dario teased. Glenn glanced over his shoulder, assumedly at the painting, but instead at Norris, whose cheeks had been painted a bright red on his pale skin by the comment, and looked down, embarrassed. He looked up again as Glenn's eyes pleaded with him, and mouthed, "Tell him the truth."
Glenn nibbled on his lip, placing his attention on the floor between his knees, and mumbled, "I do, Dario. I do care for him. He has been my best companion through all of this." Glenn finished with an expansive gesture, and Dario chuckled, earning a confused, almost hurt look from his younger sibling.
"Indeed, my brother, but do you care for him as a friend, or more?" Dario smiled at him. His words slowly sank into Glenn's mind, twitching slightly until the came into focus and ravaged his thoughts with new revelations. Glenn jerked upright, standing in shock as he looked at his brother's open, easy countenance.
"How can you - how did you know that I, I did not like women..." Glenn trailed off, remembering only as his eyes met Norris' that his friend was in the room. Dario just shook his head and laughed.
"Brother, do you not remember how you and that trader's boy ran off one afternoon when you were but a child, and decided you were betrothed? Admittedly, he left soon after, but I saw no problem with it, just that you were different," Dario nodded approvingly, standing to pull Glenn's frozen form to him in a gentle hug.
"I did not know that you knew, " Glenn whispered, his eyes nervous watching Norris' visage change from initial shock to an unexpectedly accepting smile, and relaxed against his brother. Dario grinned, and pulled back, clasping Glenn's arms, "But what of Norris, then? I've seen how he looks at you, but how do you feel for him?"
Glenn gulped, lowering his eyes from Norris' gaze and Dario's question, and leaned his forehead against his brother's shoulder. "Dario, I just...I do not know! I do not know yet...And what do you mean, how he looks at me?" Glenn glared at Dario, peering discreetly at Norris who had bit his lip. He seemed upset, his flush gone to leave a paleness unaccountable even for the subject matter, and a glimpse of worry on his face. Glenn couldn't imagine why, unless Norris was as he was, and felt...that way...towards himself...
Glenn's jaw must have dropped, as he stared at the floor, a strange warmth painting his neck and across his face. It was truly a night for embarrassment, it seemed, for the amount of redness on his countenance. Dario smiled gently, and pulled back as Glenn stood mutely, staring at the floor as if under the influence of a Blue element's freezing qualities.
"Just think about it, brother. If you are as good companions as you say, perhaps you could attempt to be as cute a couple as Riddel and I!" Dario teased, then turned, walking past the door and closing it behind him. Glenn shot the closed door a curious glance for the last comment, a strange tease from a unusually serious brother, then slumped on the bed as Norris quietly padded over from the shadows to sit beside him.
"I'm sorry, Glenn. I never meant to, I mean, I simply -" Norris mumbled, clutching at his knees. Glenn looked up, an odd look on his face, and smiled gently. "Are you like me, in that? Do you like me as that?" he asked softly, his tongue tripping over the words with all the grace of a child learning to skip.
Norris stared at the wall, and replied quietly, his face heating once more with something between shame and chagrin, "Yes, and yes. I'm sorry. I will leave, if you want." Norris stood, turning to slip on his jacket, but Glenn caught his wrist, and smiled at him. "Yes, and yes, Norris. Stay, with me?" Glenn gazed up at the older man, sinking into blue depths either way, and Norris sat, covering Glenn's hand with his own.
"Yes, and yes," Norris replied.