So everyone who enjoys these Guy/Natalia one-shots needs to thank the Tales of the Abyss anime for inspiring me, both to write and to playthrough the video game again. Part of me wishes that I was here to offer you a totally sweet and fluffy fic, but, well, the other part of me was thinking that these stories have been a little too optimistic in the end, hehehe. No really, just enjoy!
Spoilers: I'm inclined to say spoilers to end-game, just to be safe.
I used to laugh at Guy so cruelly. How pathetic, I'd think. Grow up and get over it.
I still laughed at him years later, but the cruelty was gone. I laughed when his hands shook so much that they tickled me the first time he hugged me. I laughed when he kept his lips an inch from mine for about ten minutes to prepare himself before our first kiss. I laughed when he said, "I love you," without as much as a stammer (and then I told him that I loved him, too).
I didn't laugh when I ruined our holiday together in Chesedonia. That night when Guy closed our inn room's door behind us, when we embraced and felt each other's hearts throbbing. It seemed like there wasn't even the slightest break between beats. I wondered whose heart was beating faster, and I wondered why; was it Guy's regular anxiety, always there even when he tried to hide it? I knew that mine pulsed with the uncertainty of what was to come...
Even though the sun had set, the air was thick enough to keep the city unpleasantly hot. I tried not to mind, though. I preferred uncomfortable heat to freezing cold, anyway; besides, Guy and I had chosen to stay in Chesedonia with the thought that, in case the public presence of the Kimlascan princess and a Malkuth noble stirred anything up, we would be welcome to stay in Astor's private mansion instead of the inn. It was Guy who thought so logically about our trip, of course. As far as I was concerned it was a romantic getaway and that wasn't something to be logical about, but... I had to admit that it was an intelligent choice. And I knew that had I asked Guy to go somewhere else, he would have agreed without argument, and that fact in itself was enough to make things more romantic in my mind.
But it was steaming in that room. The type of humid night that was best spent under silk sheets while wearing the thinnest nightgown available. My nose wrinkled when I looked at the thick comforter that covered our bed; where did they think this inn was situated? Keterburg? I wouldn't have been surprised if their sheets were made of flannel. The thought in itself made my forehead moist. It wouldn't do at all. I marched across the room and pried the blanket off, dropping it into a bundle on the floor.
"Why are you doing that?" Guy asked me.
I answered, "It's so stuffy. The thought of being under such heavy covers..." I shook my head, shooing the thought away. He laughed lightly at me, at my royal pompousness that appeared from time to time. His laugh was like mine when I felt him shake or dither longer than he should.
I lay down on the bed, on top of the sheets. I was pleased to feel that they were thin, fresh like a pillow when flipped over in the middle of the night. Guy didn't lie down with me right away. I closed my eyes and let him linger a while, listening to the thump of his footsteps and rustle and clatter of his movements. Soon enough, I felt the mattress sink next to me. I opened my eyes and found Guy sitting on his side of the bed. The sounds that I'd heard, I realized, had been Guy removing his sheath, gloves, belt, vest, shirt, and boots, and leaving them in a heap on the floor much like how I'd left the bedcover. He wasn't looking at me; he was taking in deep breaths and letting them out steadily.
I watched him as he twisted his head to look at me, a smile meant to assure me on his face. I smiled back at him, a little chuckle in my throat. "I love you," I said. And though I meant it, Guy knew that the ultimate meaning behind my words was, "Kiss me."
Any outsider looking in would have thought it strange, I'm sure. I probably looked like a moth caught in a spider web, lying there motionless as Guy leaned over me slowly, torturously. It was natural to me, though. He wasn't a spider preying on me; he was more of a nervous dog that had been abused by one woman and needed to regain his trust of the whole gender. I waited patiently as I always did, waited for him to hold me and to kiss me before I held and kissed him back.
When he pulled away, there was an odd look in his eyes. There was alarm in them, as there often was, but it was mixed with something else. I couldn't figure out what that something else was before his eyes went out of sight, his lips touching on my throat. Longing? I wondered. Curiosity? Resolve? I felt his hand shake, and felt the film of sweat on his palm.
That was when our heartbeats sped. I heard the pulses more than felt them; they resounded in my ears as though it was my head throbbing, not our hearts. The sky outside of the room's window was orange, splashed with salmon and ashen clouds. A sunset, I thought, and then I remembered...
There had been a beautiful sunset, a soothing memory amidst crises. A memory of the two of us in this seemingly unromantic town. Guy and I had stood on the Chesedonia beach and talked, one on one. I could only remember seeing the sunset, not Guy. There was the sound of his voice, though, reassuring me in the background.
Completely uninvited in the memory of the two of us came the reminder that we had been discussing Asch. I had been waiting for Asch during that sunset long ago. I was suddenly thinking of Asch even as Guy kissed me.
My heartbeat became one of panic. I think I held my breath as I pushed against Guy's chest, although my alarm might have slipped out in gasps for all I knew. It only took the gentlest touch to make Guy recoil, retreat to the foot of the bed. I halted completely, my hands still held out as though to push away anyone who approached. My voice was as frozen as my body; I knew that I wanted to say something, but I wasn't sure what words I was looking for. Guy found them for me between sharp breaths: "Are you okay?"
I didn't answer right away. Selfishly enough, I still didn't realize that those were the words that I should have been saying to Guy. It was distress for myself that kept me from saying anything... until I finally really looked at Guy's face, and saw how he asked about my well-being even as he suffered. "Don't be ridiculous. I'm fine," I said as I repositioned myself so that I sat on my knees. "Are you okay?" I returned the question, reaching a hand out to him. He leaned away from it. In spite of how his lips were kept tightly shut, I could see how his jaw was clenched to silence a yelp. "I am so sorry, Guy. I don't know what came over me." My head lowered sullenly. Even as I felt a weight lift from the mattress, and then heard a rustle and clatter, and then thump of footsteps, I did not glance up. The door groaned as it was opened.
"Don't w-worry about it. I'm going to t-take a walk to calm down."
When the door thudded shut, I looked up. I'm sorry, I reasoned in my head, but when I think of us, sometimes other thoughts overlap... I fell back onto the bed's pillows, my legs falling limply onto the bed like a boneless doll's. An explanation like that would simply make Guy more miserable. "Competing with the dead," he often said, laughing. Forcing himself to laugh. I knew it hurt him so much more than he let me see.
I turned onto my side, pulling my legs up closer to my chest; the nylons over them made a whistling sound as they dragged over the sheets. I embraced the pillow and dropped my forehead onto it, covering my vision in darkness so that I no longer knew whether my eyes were opened or closed. My mind kept repeating, Please let this work out, even as my conscious thoughts shifted into the words of dreams.
Guy was sleeping in the room's second bed when I woke up. It was the first thing that I noticed. Then I noticed how the brick walls, the tapestries, the bed sheets—everything—were tinted a golden orange. I glared at the sunrise through the window, and yet I still felt drawn to go outside and watch it.
A breeze coming in through the open window tousled my hair as I got up. The air was fresh, not humid and stifling as it had been the night before. It made me feel like I could let out a composed sigh, as though things were all right.
I realized that I'd worn my day clothes through the night, so I simply put on a light overcoat and brushed my hair before stepping out of the room. In retrospect, I think I stopped every few steps as I made my way to the inn's lobby and outside, expecting to hear a door open and close behind me or footsteps following. The inn was as eerily silent as Baticul's abandoned factory. It didn't change much outside, either; the shops were not yet opened and everyone was still sleeping.
The grainy swash of my feet against the sand briefly switched to clacks against the small stone staircase leading to the beach. It wasn't the side of the beach that I had remembered the night before. Instead, it was the opposite side where I could watch the sun rise. Sunrises were so much angrier than sunsets, I thought as I watched the sky that morning. The deep oranges and reds bleeding over emptiness, the sun making me flinch from its intensity. I wondered if Guy was angry, even though I knew that it would take so much more for him to show any distress to me. He had tried so hard, though, and I knew that he should have been cross with me. I had repaid his anxious attempt at taking another step past his phobia with a shove back toward trauma.
"I know that sunsets belong to Asch."
I turned around hurriedly, almost tripping over my own feet in a lapse of grace. Just like the night before, I knew that there were words that I should have said, that I wanted to say, but that I simply could not think of. He was watching me—more my eyes than my lips that still struggled with unspoken words—with a look of uncertainty, like he was looking for forgiveness as though he had misbehaved.
He had stayed out so late struggling over that conclusion, I realized. He had wandered through the streets as I did that morning, watching the sunset and thinking of the past: of my frantic reaction, of the times so long ago, of my old attachment to Asch... the same past that I had thought of.
I wanted to tell him that it wasn't true, that sunsets didn't belong to Asch. That nothing belonged to Asch, everything belonged to him. I would have been lying.
"What if sunrises belonged to me?" he asked, perhaps only seconds after his comment about Asch, though it felt like so much longer.
My front teeth ran over my bottom lip as I turned my whole body away. Suddenly the sunrise that seemed so sinister before didn't look so different from a sunset. No, I thought, very carefully keeping from shaking my head or showing Guy any disagreement, they don't look different enough to me.
Guy's arms circled around me, so gradually that the action couldn't be masked as a prolonged romantic gesture. A new day, a day gone by; sunrise, sunset; it was still all Asch.
"Maybe something else," I said. I felt Guy's head nod weakly, and perhaps heard him whisper an equally weak, 'Okay,' although I've never been certain whether that was my imagination or not. His hold tightened, though, like he expected me to flee if he let go. Silly, when I didn't even have the will to think anything beyond, I'm sorry.
The next one-shot will be more upbeat, I promise! Ha ha. But having written this, I have to say that I like it. It's a different style of writing from the other one-shots, probably having something to do with the various genres of literature that I've been reading for school. Let me know what you thought about it. I have intentions of writing another one-shot quicker than I wrote this one!