A Merry War Betwixt Them

A/N: This particular piece is inspired by the wordplay of "Much Ado about Nothing" by William Shakespeare. I always loved the quick fire spats between Benedick and Beatrice and thought it would be fun to do something similar with Rune Solider. This fic is told entirely from Melissa's point of view. Post series, LouiexMelissa. I do not own Rune Soldier; it belongs to Ryo Mizuno and the people of ADV.

Everyone has their share of personality quirks and flaws I guess, and Louie is certainly no exception. However I will admit, against my will, that he is undeniably a handsome man. He is one of the few men I know who can wear his hair below his waist without looking effeminate (unlike a certain knight of Ramilearth). His blue hair and eyes contrast with his skin, tanned from those intense outside training sessions with Genie that also enhanced his already muscular physique. So you see, even though our less then auspicious first meeting impressed upon me the complete and total idiocy of my so-called champion, it also left me with a set of rather rebellious thoughts that I'd rather not ever have.

He has quite a few flaws though. More than I can really count. For example, he will never think before rushing into combat. I doesn't matter if it's a flesh golem, spirit or ice giant, he'll take it on with his bare fists. Also, he has no talent for cooking if it doesn't involve meat and a stick. The last time he made stew for us while we were on the road was certainly the last. Also he tends to drink more alcohol than is advisable. He also has a tendency to disappear for days at a time with no warning, making me worry, then return with no explanation, with a slightly smug look on his face.

Downtown Fahn is busy as I make my way towards the inn. Over time it's become our base of operations, albeit unofficially. Even after the three months were away from Ofun, it's still our meeting place. The main reason for our absence those months was that we were trying to avoid the possible retribution of King Rijarl after the destruction of the palace. However, prince Littler caught up with us and we were actually given quite a bit of praise. As I enter the inn I scan for Merrill or Genie…but the only one see is Louie…maybe if I walk out slowly he won't notice I came in.

Which doesn't work because he spots me and heads over to me.

Oh. Crap.

He wraps a friendly arm around my shoulder and leans down to my ear and says, "Well, well, this is unusual." He has a rather large smirk on his face, as I try to pull away and ignore the fact that I'm feeling incredibly warm, which I thank Mylee that the inn is rather stuffy. "The great priestess Melissa coming in without Merrill or Genie, and of her own free will too. To what do I owe the honor?"

If Louie ever truly becomes a hero, which I seriously doubt at this point, they will tell of his deeds, but will never, ever reveal what a complete and total jackass he is. This is his biggest flaw and it's something I've seen in him from the beginning. And it's very simple; Louie's hot and he knows it. This wouldn't be so frustrating if he hadn't so sure early on that none of our merry little band was interested in him, leading to a tendency to describe his one night stands, which I'd rather not hear about. More recently, he's taken to teasing me specifically, which has resulted in quite a few arguments. Both Merrill and Genie do nothing, and I secretly suspect they're taking bets on which one of us kills the other first. Another one of Louie's biggest flaws is his ability to be a complete idiot with the mentality of a five-year-old one-minute and be incredibly serious and wise the next. It makes him not only hard to read, but also pick up on things I really would rather he not know. I have a sneaking suspicion that he thinks I'm interested in him, and that's why he's been pestering me lately. There's a part of me that looks at Louie and comes up with at least twenty things that no priestess should EVER think of doing. But, that's all it is, it's entirely hormonal and nothing more.

I must have been silent for too long because Louie pulled away a bit and said, "Penny for your thoughts?" Of the number of possible thing I could say, the one that slipped out of my mouth was, "There's no way you could afford it." He backed up a bit more and signaled towards a table. "Well, I wouldn't think they'd be worth much." I grit my teeth, knowing that I had inadvertently started another one of our arguments, "Well, at least I know my magic." It was a low blow, and one Merrill mainly used on him. Louie shrugged and said, "Are you unable to retort, so you have to parrot Merrill's shtick?" "A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours, Louie." Louie looked at me as he sat down, grinning, "Touché Melissa. I believe this round is yours." I stared at him, "you're admitting defeat? This is unusual." Louie sighed, "Alright, was there any reason you came to the inn other than to engage in our merry little war?" "Where did you disappear to this time?" "That's my business, Melissa." "Oh, really?"

Much of our "relationship" has always seemed to be composed of bickering with a few moments of respect and understanding between. I'd like to think that very few people know the side of Louie that I've seen over the course of our being together. Though he'd never own up to it, he's actually a rather sensitive guy. He covers it well with a show of cocky arrogance, but on several occasions he's openly shown it. When that little girl Katherine asked us to find a senian flower for her grandmother, the only reason we took the job was because of Louie, but that's just one example. I also know that he's scared to death of losing that cocksure front, so I've never really brought it up. Also there have been instances where I think that he really could be a hero. One such occasion was his duel with Conrad, he hadn't been too enthusiastic when I'd pushed him into the duel, but once he was involved I've rarely ever saw him so serious. The one that really sticks in my mind is the time he was trying to break through the shield Dardanelle had set up. He'd been trying to break through when we came in. After a moment's recovery he charged back in saying, "That power isn't yours and neither is this country!" I have to say that was pretty…heroic of him, but after that he soon reverted to his usual boozing and brawling, much to my chagrin.

Looking at him leaning back in his chair I say, "This is the third time in the past two weeks you've disappeared without warning, I would think you'd have enough manners to tell me where you're going." "You're keeping track?" He sarcastically put a hand over his heart, "Melissa, I didn't know you cared." I feel my face grow hot, but I manage to grind out, "Only because Merrill would come down to the shrine and complain my ear off on how you weren't around so we couldn't go on any adventures." "Why didn't you just go without me?" "You're a team member, it wouldn't be fair to you." Louie looked at me surprised for a moment, before a huge smug grin plastered itself across his face. Damn it, why does the bastard have to be so handsome? It's cruel and unfair. "I seem to remember a time where you guys tried to avoid having me on adventures. This is certainly a change, not unwelcome though." I sighed, "Louie, whether I like it or not you ARE my champion. At this point I just grin and bear it. Our adventures now serve the dual purposes of making money and for you to gain your fame." "You say that, but some of our adventures certainly haven't done that." "Look, it's not my fault Merrill had us out chasing crows off." "I didn't say it was, I was just saying that's not exactly the way to get famous." I sigh, "I know, I know. It's not like I'm the one who deals with the informants." Louie smiles at that, "Maybe your valiant champion should be selecting the adventures that effect his reputation?" I snort, something I would have never done before I'd met him, "Because your choice would end up in a bar." He makes a mock wounded expression that really ends up making me want to do a dozen things to him that…no Melissa, bad, wrong. I swear that this man makes these expressions ON PURPOSE because he knows he's so fine. Huh? Oh, he's talking. "Melissa I'm hurt." I roll my eyes and clench the fist on the table. The amount of times I've wanted to smack him over the course of our "friendship", if you want call it that, probably exceeds the money in the vaults of Ofun's palace. He is such a complete and hopeless ass.

Louie gently puts his hand over my clenched one, causing me to start and fight back an errant blush on my cheeks. He leans forward and in a confidential tone he says, "It's alright. I know you want me, so I can stand few gibes at my expense every now and then." I stare at him for a moment before exploding indignantly, "What?! You're supremely presumptuous to think that you understand the workings of my heart." His smile widened, "I don't assume Melissa, I know." He stood up, "Now should we go find Merrill and Genie? We can see if Merrill actually HAS the scoop on a new adventure so she'll stop whining." Just before he moves away from the table I say, "I've never once said I loved you." He sighed and turned around," Now I thought we'd already settled this." "Well, it's not." "Melissa, you're being immature." "I'M immature? That's rich." Louie slides his hand over mine and lowers his head so that he can whisper in my ear. His breath feels warm on my cheek. Hm, this actually feels good, "Melissa, I know that you want me. You watch me when you think I'm not looking and when we're talking you tend to go silent and stare at my face. Then when I ask you what's on your mind, you turn away and try to change the subject. I may be reckless, but I'm not stupid, so don't try to deny it." He moves away to look at my face and grins. "The left side of your mouth twitches when you lie, Melissa, so don't try to." I think about it and I feel my cheeks get hot again. Damn the bastard, he's right. A noise causes me to look up and see Louie holding out a hand, "Well?" "Well what?" "Are you coming?" I think about it for a minute before I take his hand. The heat from his hand nearly makes my knees go weak. Oh Gods, I'll admit it. It's exactly as he says.

I'm in love with him.

I really want him to know me better than anyone else. He's cocksure, arrogant and reckless, but he's also compassionate, dedicated and brave. He acts as though I'm not from a noble family or a priestess, but a regular person. What's more he accepts me like that. He listens, and Mylee! Just see what holding his hand does to me! He leans forward and whispers in my ear, Gods, I think I'm going to faint…"Melissa? Are you okay?" I somehow manage to find my voice and say, "Yes, I'm…I'm fine. Let's go." I draw my hand out of his at a rate that might be considered suggestive, but I find myself not caring. I don't want to be separated from his warmth. I can feel his eyes on my hand though, so I do pull it away. I bite back a sharp pang of disappointment. As we head out of the inn I made sure to keep a distance between us, knowing that if he touched me again, I might not be able to stand. "Uh, Melissa?" I jerk out of my thoughts and respond, "What?" "Genie's house is the other way." "Right. Um…. I know that." He raises and eyebrow, "Are you sure you're okay? You're being weird all of a sudden." I was currently thinking about pinning him against the alley wall and kissing him until he lost all sense of himself, but there's no way I'd tell him that. So I just shake my head, "I'm fine, really." As we head towards Genie's place outside of town, the silence is almost palpable. I don't trust my self to speak and Louie is strangely silent. He finally says, "Melissa, do you remember when we met Leonard for the first time?" "How could I forget, your insistence that we stay and get the crystal out nearly killed us." "Well, excuse me, but if memory serves, you wouldn't leave even though I asked you to." "And what? Leave you there to get yourself killed? What kind of priestess would I be if I let my champion get killed because of his own stupidity?" "We came out alive didn't we?" "Only because of sheer dumb luck." He stops next to the alley wall of an apothecary, I stop in front of him. He bites out, "Hey, it was the only way to get that miner out of there with out forcing him out. If we'd done it Leonard's way the old man would have just gone back and most likely killed himself." I unconsciously moved forward, "That was still not good enough to risk our lives unnecessarily." "You did the exact same thing. When I told you to leave you stayed, not only that, but you helped me! I think you were more reckless then you'd care to admit." "I was not!" He grins and I realize how close our faces are, we're barely an inch apart, I can feel his breath on my face, he breathes, "True you were as reckless as me back then, but I can outdo that easily." I swallow and defiantly say, "Prove it."

He growls in the back of his throat, and roughly presses his lips to mine.

It certainly wasn't a gentle kiss, but I find myself responding to it all the same. His heat radiates out from where his hands grip my shoulders to keep me from pulling away. I bring my hands up to his neck and weave my fingers into his hair. I can feel him grin at that and press his lips to mine that much harder, making my knees almost give. I swear the gods have made this man perfect, including giving him the ability to drive a woman mad. When he pulls away, I again bite back disappointment and try to regain my breath. He looks me in the eye and says rather playfully. "Who wins this round?" Once again, I'm tempted to slap him silly. Or slam him against the apothecary wall and kiss him again. I go with the latter.

(Omniscient POV)

Genie and Merrill headed towards the inn in the hopes of catching Louie or Melissa. Merrill sighed, "I hope Louie hasn't disappeared again, I really need the money." Genie nodded, "I'd like to know what's going on with that." Merrill nodded and considered several possible ways to physically harm Louie for skipping town with no warning. "Ouch!" Merrill ran into Genie's back and fell backwards, "why'd you stop Genie? Is…. oh." The two were greeted with a rare sight. Melissa had pinned Louie against the wall of an apothecary and was currently engaged kissing him passionately. Genie turned to Merrill, "Pay up." Merrill grumbled and put a handful of coins in genie's hands, "I thought that bet was a surefire win too."

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I may make this a longer story if I get enough positive reviews, so, please review!