Shadow of A Doubt

Disclaimer: I don't own Growlanser. As for this story… meh, the idea just popped into my head…


"You think I'm WHAT!" Wein Cruz yelled, his normally calm demeanor having vanished in the face of the face of his subordinate's rather sudden (and shocking) accusation. Across from him, Charlone Claudius shrugged sheepishly.

"Well, you have to admit… it's not a crazy conclusion…"

"YES! YES IT IS!" Wein roared. (A rare occurrence; Wein, normally, was simply not the roaring type.)

Charlone raised an eyebrow. "Really?" she asked skeptically. "I mean, there's nothing wrong with it, Captain…"

"That's not the issue! Why in the world would you think I'm gay?" Wein demanded, his Ring Weapon just itching to come out. Charlone shrugged again.

"You have to admit – your friendships with males come a lot easier than with women…" Charlone informed him, the Unicorn Knight obviously firm in her stance. There was, however, a palpable hint of disappointment on Charlone's face.

Wein, typical male as he was, didn't notice. He had other things to deal with.

"So? That doesn't mean anything! I mean, it's… er…"

"So you really don't think it's odd that you have rather… close friendships with Hans, Carmaine, and Xenos – none of which took very long to cultivate, might I add – and your relationships with Riviera and I are – "

"Are what? I consider all of you to be friends! Besides," he added. "doesn't the same go for you and Riviera? I mean, I never questioned your orientation when you two went to go bathe – "

Wein quickly cut himself off right there. Frankly, the image of Charlone and Riviera, unclothed and wet in a steamy bath was making his anger diminish quite quickly.

"Damn hormones…" he thought. Recollecting his thoughts (which had gone to very, very wrong places), he glared at Charlone again.

Charlone, however, remained calm. "So?"

Wein was on the verge of exploding. "What do you mean 'so'? Doesn't that fit into the same category?"

The blonde shook her head. "Nope. Sorry, Captain."

The expression on the raven-haired knight's face indicated that he was close to having a coronary. "Care to explain?"

Charlone raised her hand to her head and fluffed her hair a little. "I could, but I doubt you would get it. The female psyche is a little beyond your reach."

His eye twitched. "Excuse me?" he choked out, obviously not enjoying her twisted logic.

Again, Charlone shrugged. "Trust me, you wouldn't get it. Anyway, Captain, I hate to break this to you, but…" she paused, presumably for effect.

It helped. Wein was dangerously close to running out of patience. "What?"

"I doubt there's anything you can say or do that will change my mind on this. It just seems so… obvious."

Wein opened his mouth to refute her statement – then stopped. "Telling her about the time I spent staring through Carmaine's peephole at the springs might help my straight vs gay case, but it would also get me hit through a wall…"

Across from him, Charlone waited expectantly. Wein mentally cursed. "I doubt she would take too well to knowing that my first thought about her was 'whoo, she's cute!' Dammit… I'm stuck here…"

Charlone sighed. "Still wracking your brain to find a defense for your wounded sense of security?"

"I… am… perfectly… happy… with… my… sense… of… security… " Wein shot back, his fist clenched. A small smile appeared on her face.

"Pray tell, Captain; what's another word for 'happy'?" she asked, still obviously convinced that she was right. Wein's mouth fell open. Charlone exhaled, an air of resignation (and again, disappointment) around her. She turned to leave.

Wein's eyes narrowed. "Enough is enough…" he thought, as he extended his arm and grabbed her shoulder, spinning her around in one fluid motion. Before she could do anything, she was spun again –

And was summarily pinned to the wall by one Wein Cruz. She blinked, a little afraid – and angry - now. "What do you think you're doing!" she yelled, her consternation evident.

Wein gazed at her intensely, capturing her eyes with his own. "Giving you your damn proof."

And with that, he dove in and swiftly pressed his lips against her own, wrapping his arms around her waist as he did so. He felt the expected shock, then resistance. He felt her arms come up as her fingers dug into his shoulders -

Then he felt nothing, as she closed her eyes and started kissing him back with all she could muster, virtually sinking into his embrace, her hands now gripping him as tightly as they could. Wein tightened his hold in response, feeling her sigh against his mouth…

Then suddenly, she broke away, pushing him out of her way – hard. Blushing furiously, she turned her back on him, her head down.

"What was that?…" Charlone asked quietly, her voice almost inaudible.

This time, it was Wein who shrugged. "Your proof."

She nodded tightly. "I see," she responded, her head still down. "That was unbelievably inconsiderate, Captain."

Wein nodded quietly, walking forward. "I know."

"You violated military protocol…" she continued, trying to hide the anger at being used simply to prove a point.

"I know."

"Most importantly…" she trailed off, before speaking again, hurt clearly evident in her voice. "That's not something you should do unless you really, really care about a person…"

She was startled yet again when Wein's arms wrapped around her from behind, pulling her into a hug, pressing his face into her platinum blonde hair.

"I know," he whispered, still holding her.

Charlone uttered a soft gasp. Wein was silent, rather worried about her next move…

Which was to tilt her head forward and brush her mouth against his cheek, obviously not opposed to his gesture. Wein chuckled tiredly.

"So… convinced now?" he asked playfully. Charlone tilted her head, looking like she was thinking.

"No," she told him, a small blush on her face. "Not by a longshot."

Wein smirked. "Is that so…?" he whispered into her ear, making her shiver. "I guess I'll have to try again, won't I?"

OMAKE

"So… convinced now?" he asked playfully. Charlone tilted her head, looking like she was thinking. Suddenly, her eyes widened.

"You've been practicing with Carmaine, haven't you?" she demanded.

"… no comment."

OMAKE 2

"You violated military protocol…" she continued, trying to hide the anger at being used simply to prove a point.

Wein simply looked at her incredulously. "And protocol wasn't violated when we snuck off to that abandoned classroom in the Magic Academy?"

"We were on leave! Besides, we cleaned the desk…"

"I still think we should have left it as is. Maybe given Misha some inspiration…"

"No. She's going to jump Ariost sooner or later, anyway."