Winning Over Erk

By Bishop Sasarai

Summary: Canas wants no more regrets in his life, so when he falls for Erk, he has plans to win him over. Will his plans backfire, or succeed?

Pairings: Canas/Erk

Notes: Thanks for the reviews!!! And you know, loin is a funny word. It makes me think of…meat.

Winning Over Erk

Part Four: Serra's Plan

The very next day, Canas sat in the castle's dining room for breakfast. He was staring at his book (A Condensed History of the World) over his long-congealed eggs and cold hash browns, but not really reading it—a first for him! He didn't think very much of Serra's newly hatched plan (which he'd tried very hard to deter her from, but she had the tenacity of a bulldog when it came to these things)… At the very best, he was fairly sure he wouldn't be able to carry out her little farce. He wasn't very good at acting.

"Okay, he's coming!" Serra hissed, rushing into the room with that strange grace of hers. "Make it look convincing!" With that last statement, she ducked behind a counter, which was conveniently close to the table Canas hadn't chosen to sit at. Canas cast a nervous glance at the woman sitting next to him.

"You should get out while you still can," Canas told her. "Serra's a bit…overzealous when she puts her mind to something."

"Quit talking nonsense and put your arm around me before I knock your brains out," Vaida commanded.

"Yes, ma'am," Canas complied meekly. He felt extremely awkward. Looking off to the side, he saw his book and decided that if he began reading it, he might be able to block off what he was supposed to be doing… He reached out for the book, but Vaida halted his hand's advance by snatching the book and tossing it over her shoulder.

"If Umbriel were here…" she said in her menacingly deep voice. Canas began to sweat and he tugged at his collar anxiously. With his eyes casting about for anything but Vaida to lock onto, his gaze fell on Erk, who was now looking at him with one eyebrow quirked up and the faintest of unbelieving smiles. He actually came over, and Canas had thought he'd flee for sure! Was this hope welling in his heart? They say hope springs eternal…

"Hello Canas, Vaida," Erk nodded at them both as he set his own breakfast down and sat across from Canas. The glance he shot Canas was clearly asking what the hell he was doing. Canas shrugged helplessly. Vaida gripped Canas's shoulder tightly. He swore she had the strength of three men. Or better yet, a bear. Yes, a bear. She had quite the grip for a woman.

"Hey," Vaida grunted her response. "Aren't we a cute couple, or what?"

Erk stared.

Then his lips twitched upwards at the corners. Then he laughed. An honest-to-goodness, straight-from-the-heart laugh. Canas felt warm and fuzzy on the inside. He couldn't help but smile. He'd never heard Erk's laugh so full of mirth before. Suddenly there was a queer tugging at his heart that he'd never felt before. Unconsciously, his hand came up to his chest. It was the strangest feeling he'd ever experienced. It felt like it was related to the feelings he'd experienced while watching Erk sleep, but much stronger. It didn't last that long, but it was definitely a potent feeling.

Erk wiped tears from his eyes. "I'm sorry. You were joking, right?"

Vaida glared. "No."

Canas ducked his head to hide his smile at Erk's skeptical expression. Erk looked as though he wanted to laugh again, but was afraid of hurting Vaida's feelings. After all, she had the strength to effortlessly snap all of Erk's bones like twigs. Canas couldn't blame Erk for not saying anything more on the subject.

Erk began eating his breakfast, but he still looked amused by the situation. It wasn't hard to tell, since he kept grinning for absolutely no reason. Vaida failed to notice this. She smiled smugly.

"We are a couple," she insisted, since she had not heard Erk say he believed it.

"Okay," Erk said, though his tone showed quite clearly he thought Vaida was out of her mind. Erk opened a book of his own to read, resting his chin carelessly in his hand and beginning the process of ignoring Vaida. Vaida's eyebrow jerked upward violently.

"What's up with you two?" she growled.

"Huh?" Erk looked up quickly, thinking she meant something else. "What do you mean?"

"Why are you always reading?! I've seen this guy here," she pinched Canas painfully in the arm--"Ouch!" Canas rubbed his arm—"Reading on the battlefield! The battlefield! That could cost you your life!"

"And we all know how much you care for Canas and his life," Erk said dryly. He really wasn't buying it. So, Vaida narrowed her eyes at him.

"You're one… difficult kid, aren't you?" she sneered. She didn't look in the least pleased with how things were going. But she didn't take well to losing, and she was going to do her damnedest to win this…competition. Or whatever it was. To her vexation, Erk did not seem in the least fazed by her patented glare of DOOM ™. And that only served to annoy her even more. So, she did the last thing anybody at the table expected. She turned to Canas—who had retrieved his previously thrown book and was looking down at its crooked spine and bent pages in dismay—and kissed him.

Erk's gaze was no longer on his book, and he lifted his head from its former place resting on his palm and stared in astonishment.

Canas took the kiss better than he might've thought he would; had someone asked him what his reaction would be, his thesis couldn't have been more different than his true reaction. He kissed her back. He was very chaste about it; it certainly didn't involve any tongue—but he was mainly doing it to see if Erk would respond in his favor. He was rather hoping Erk would yell, and pull them apart. But, he should have known better—and did, actually, but one could hope—that Erk was not that type of person. Even though the kiss was chaste, and not all that long, either, Canas saw a flicker of hurt in Erk's expression, just before the younger mage looked quickly down at his book as if he didn't care what two old people did together.

That brief glimmer of hurt in Erk's eyes also hurt Canas. Again, he found himself regretting his actions. How was it that in pursuing something—namely that someone called Erk—that he wouldn't regret, he found himself… so full of regrets? Oh, the irony… Vaida seemed pretty pleased with the reaction she'd evoked from Erk, but Canas was… ashamed of himself.

Quickly, Canas opened his battered book to a random page and tried to immerse himself in it. But, alas, it was not to be. Vaida slammed it onto the table with her hand. Canas sighed and looked to his "girlfriend."

"Now what?" he asked. Wasn't he allowed to read anymore?

"I want to teach you more about wyverns."

"Really?" Canas perked up. This was something he was interested in learning more about.

"Yes. We can even take a ride on my Umbriel…" Was it just Canas, or did she look seductive all of a sudden?

"Hmph."

Both Canas and Vaida looked at Erk. He was still looking down at his book, but once he had their attention, he raised his eyes to Canas's.

"So... Is this your wife then?" Erk asked. Out of any of the things he had expected to hear from Erk at that moment, that was the last one he'd have predicted. He couldn't think of anything to say for a moment. He didn't much care if Serra's little ruse fell through… But he did care that Erk that Erk was bringing up his marriage. Was this holding them back? But Canas didn't have time to contemplate. Vaida was grabbing his ear painfully. Was she acting like his mother?!

"You have a wife?!" she growled.

"W-wait! This isn't… I'm not as horrible as it looks… Well, actually, I'm worse than it looks…" Canas sighed. "Well, it's just that we married in convenience. My wife is as fond of me as I am of her—which is to say, neither of us is very fond of each other… She doesn't like men who are intelligent and can read… Bartre is more her kind of man. But it was an arranged marriage; neither of us really had a choice, and we didn't hate each other. It could have been much worse." Like Serra worse. "She sees other men," he added. "I never really minded, because I'm not… Well, the two of us just aren't compatible."

"Sounds horrible," Vaida said, and she looked horrified as she moved away from Canas. Was that disgust in her expression? "What kind of people are you?"

"Oh hey, there!" Serra's perky voice caused everyone to turn to look at her from where she'd popped up from her hiding place. "Um, hey, Canas? Can I talk to you?"

"Me?" Canas pointed at himself. "But I…"

"Come ON!" she flounced forward and grabbed his arm. Canas got up and followed her reluctantly around a corner.

"You're messing up everything!" she hissed.

"Me?!" Canas said, pushing his monocle up because it had started to slip. "Everything that's happening right now is on account of you! I never wanted to lead that… that woman on!"

"You didn't lead her on!" Serra insisted. "We're just trying to get Erkie jealous!"

"This is the stupidest…"

"Fine. If Vaida doesn't work out…" the girl was already thinking of her next torture. Canas was desperate.

"Please, Serra. You're only making it worse! If I could just talk to him…"

"No way! What's that gonna do? Besides, I have to make him suffer some more for calling me a harpy!"

Canas would have dearly liked to tell her that she was a harpy, but he was afraid to find out what she'd do next if he did so. Instead, he tried a different tactic.

"Listen, Serra. Haven't you ever heard the saying that revenge is a dish best served cold?"

"No. And it sounds stupid."

Gah. He was all out of ideas now.

"Hey guys! What's going on?" A cheerful male voice cut in. Canas turned around to see Wil standing there, looking clueless. "Why're you two standing there whispering at each other?"

"Ooh, Wil!" Serra bounced over to his side. "I have a job for you!"

Canas slapped a hand to his face in resignation.

-CE-

Back at the table, Vaida drummed her fingers on the table.

Erk pored over his book.

Vaida continued to drum her fingers on the table.

Erk continued to pore over his book.

"So…"

Erk looked up at Vaida.

"You seein' anyone?"

-CE-

"Okay, here's the plan…" Serra, Wil, and Canas were now in a huddle, their heads knocked against each other. Wil was grinning like an idiot, while Canas looked like he'd rather be elsewhere. Serra had a wicked glint in her eyes that Canas hoped he'd never see again. "Wil is going to start talking about how great Canas is. Like, say something about his eyes. And his hair. I know he's not half as beautiful as me, but just imagine that he is, okay, Wil?"

"Okay!" Wil nodded enthusiastically. "How about, 'Canas has the sexiest eyes…they… Erm… They're so dark and... sexy.' Wow, this feels weird!" Wil looked at Canas's eyes to better describe them. "I've never talked about someone's eyes before." Still peering at them, he said, "Well, they are a pretty color. Is it dark purple?"

"Yes."

"That's really cool. I wonder what colour Erk's eyes are? I've never really been close enough to him to really know…"

"Violet," Serra and Canas said in unison.

"Jinx!" Serra shrieked.

"You've been that close?" Canas asked.

"Of course! Erkie was my bodyguard, you know!" Serra said indignantly. "Besides, how could he resist looking at me… With this petite little body, and my cute hair… Eeee! I'm so cute!"

Wil was now looking at her. "Really? I've seen cuter."

Serra glared at him and smacked him on the forehead. "You don't know any better! You're just a country bumpkin!" She was silent a moment before venturing, "Who's cuter?"

"Well, I think Lady Lyndis…"

"Ew. No. Ugly. Who else?"

"Erm, well, I think Rebecca…"

"Ugh. No way. Too wanna-be! Who else?"

"Rath?"

"…" Serra stared at him with raised brows. "No way. No man is prettier than me."

"Not even Lucius?" Canas couldn't resist asking.

"Oh, yeah…" Wil mumbled his agreement as though he was really mulling it over. "He's quite pretty. Like a girl. Better than most girls."

"Shut up!" Serra said, smacking Wil in the forehead again, and Canas got her staff to his gut.

"Oof!"

"All right. Wil is going to say that Canas's eyes are dark and velvety as the dusk. Talk about falling into them. It sounds romantic." Serra instructed Wil. Wil nodded doubtfully.

"All right…"

"And Canas," she turned to him with her evilly glittering eyes. How could someone so small be so…scary? "You are going to respond in kind. Say something romantic about Wil's eyes."

"But I'm doing eyes," Wil pointed out.

"Fine. Say something romantic about something about Wil," Serra said, exasperated. Canas blinked at the badly worded statement, but thought better of saying anything aloud. He merely nodded meekly. Serra smiled in triumph. "All right, boys! Let's go to work!"

As they walked away from Serra—finally!—Wil turned to Canas and muttered, "Why does she say 'let's?' She's not doing anything."

-CE-

Canas and Wil hung around the kitchens when it came to be dinner time. Wil cheerfully chatting away, Canas reading a book. When Wil spotted Erk coming, he poked Canas in the ribs so that he'd put down his book. Canas sighed and closed the book. Really, there wasn't time enough in his day. Especially from the moment Serra had taken an interest in his life.

"Oh, Canas…" Wil sighed, looking into Canas's eyes with a surprisingly convincing look in his warm brown eyes. "You're eyes are so beautiful. They're so dark and velvety, like the sky at dusk. I could just fall into them…"

"And Wil…" Canas was not quite as convincing as he coughed into his fist in embarrassment. Wil reached over and put his palm on the offending hand, pushing it gently to the table. His eyes flashed as he urged Canas to keep going. "And Wil, your nose is so straight and symmetrical..."

Woooo…

You could hear a pin drop in the silence that followed.

Wil gazed into Canas's eyes with that convincing look for another silent moment. Then he bent forward and his shoulders began shaking. Canas looked around, embarrassed. Half the company was in the room, and they were all staring. Canas would have coughed into his fist again, but Wil still had it under his own hand. So he reached up to adjust his monocle, his cheeks now flaming in his mortification.

Wil, meanwhile, made a valiant effort to stifle his laughter as he straightened up again. But he couldn't seem to quit dissolving into fits of giggles. Canas averted his gaze, because if he kept watching Wil laugh, he too, was going to burst into laughter. His gaze met Erk's, from halfway across the room, and Erk's eyebrow was quirked upward. Canas shrugged.

Erk nodded his head in the direction of Serra, who was glaring at Canas from a table at the other end of them room. Canas's helpless smile and shrug was all Erk needed for an answer. He rolled his eyes, and went over to her table.

Leaving off here, because I'm evil. Keep reading and reviewing, everyone! And be patient! It's almost done!