Dance of the Twin Daggers

It was a solemn dance.

Cold like steel reflected in the moons' light, it was death-quiet; every move was an intense, deliberate observance to the last. The barest trace on the ground preserved the circle, as though to mark the sand's memory, if only for a moment.

So absorbed in the rhythm, in the arc and the curve, Hawkeye didn't notice her approach until his dagger flashed before her throat. The cadence fell apart as he staggered back, startled; his blade slipped from his fingers and fell at their feet.

He stared at it for a long moment before raising his eyes to meet her gaze. It took her as long to realize that she had him by surprise.

Usually, it was the other way around.

"Stealing away after me, princess?" He smiled; a sly grin in the dim light, it didn't seem to reach his eyes.

"I came to see Kevin off," Riesz replied. Impassive, she elaborated, "He said he was swimming home."

"No kidding."

"We thought you were asleep." She inclined her head, as though thoughtfully musing it over. "How long have you been out here?"

"A while." Shrugging her off, he lurched past, still laboring to catch up with his breath. He eased down onto the old, worn down stone wall that jutted out of the sand at the edge of the beach, and let his remaining dagger dangle from his fingertips.

"I'm sorry," she apologized forthright. He didn't look up.

"For what?"


"Don't be." The dagger dropped from his hand, landing upright in the sand. Hawkeye studied his fingernails. "You don't know what you're apologizing for."

Sitting down next to him, she stretched out and crossed her legs at the ankles.

"It was..." she struggled for a word, and settled on, "pleasant."

He laughed; with an exasperated sigh, Riesz glanced down to brush stray grains of sand from the wall beneath her.

"No." She looked back to find him smiling at her again, but the expression didn't seep into his voice. The thickness therein clouded the would-be mirth. "Not alone."

Riesz waited, but as no explanation came forth, she broke his stare and cast her gaze across the sequestered beach. The lone, abandoned dagger in the sand caught her eye. Absently, her hand brushed against her throat.

"You wouldn't understand," he said softly.

"Try me," she challenged. Without missing a beat, Hawkeye shrugged.

"I can't go home."

Riesz blinked, and straightened up promptly. "What do you mean? I can take you as far as-"

"It's not..." he interrupted, and continued deftly, "where you can take me. Or how far your dragon can fly."

"I can't go back to Navarre. I can't accept a new partner."

As he watched, her resolve dissolved into a reluctant frown.

"I don't-" she began, and he clipped in immediately.

"Understand. I know, I..." He sighed, picking through his words carefully. "All the best things come in pairs. Men and women, night and day. It's not a coincidence, and Navarre knows it. We've always known; before Mana, before the Goddess..."

Riesz quirked an eyebrow. He paused, cautiously skirting the subject; ducking his head, he avoided her skepticism. "It's why we're always partnered up," he continued, "It's only an observance, but sometimes..."

Abruptly, he shook his head, and changed the path of his argument. Taking her hand in his, he turned it upwards; he traced the line of her vambrace before moving on and studying the lines that cut across her palm.

"There really is a truth to it. Even outlanders get it without really getting it," he explained, with far more ease, "I've seen it. You look for it in your best friend, when you first meet her. You look for it in your enemy; you search his eyes for the truth, that barest chance... And all the strangers you meet on the street, every last one a forgotten maybe that was him. You just don't know what you're looking for."

"Hawkeye..." There was a warning in her voice, which he deftly ignored. The thief's eyes glittered in amusement, contrary to the serious, not-nonsense he was offering at face value.

"You're looking for him, even if you don't know it."

"Eagle... was my soul," Hawkeye admitted last, resting her hand over his heart, "I've had my revenge. Without him, I'm the walking dead."

He let go; her fingers lingered. At length, she spoke, and there was an inkling of regret in her voice, if she truly understood. "I'm sorry."

Hawkeye sighed, and draped his arm over her shoulders; without warning, he pulled her into his arms.

"Stop apologizing," he insisted, stalling her fidgeting. "It's not that common... even in Navarre. My luck, is all."

"What will you do?" she asked, soothed as he cradled her against his chest. "If you're not going back."

"I haven't figured that out yet."

They were silent for a time. A pair of birds twittered, chasing one another through the scrubby bushes before fluttering off together. Hawkeye ran his fingers through her hair, inattentive; when he looked down, her eyes were hazy and full of sleep. He smiled gently.

"Whoever he is," he told her, "I envy him."

Careful, he arranged Riesz on the wall, and her eyes closed. With a glance to the moons, now low in the sky, he made his way across the shifting sands, leaving the twin daggers where they had fallen.

the end

Working Title: Twin Daggers

Inspiration: Twos seem to be a theme in Seiken Densetsu games. Gemma Knight and Tree Maiden; Jumi Knights and Guardians; Bill and Ben; Hero and Heroine. That kind of thing.

Noteworthy: For a change, I tried to get away from the internal monologue/3rd person close up and personal I've been bent on recently, and still get the point across. Also, sixth anniversary of fic-writing. Hooray.

Disambiguation: A few ideas got cut, such as Jessica having a partner, but not really believing; the "Before Mana" was going to be expanded on, but I couldn't think of a good idea on how to do it. In addition, This was written as Gen-Fic, but you (the reader) may take any which pairing ideas you want from it. For all I know, Hawkeye may very well be jaunting north to romance Duran or whoever.

Derivative work of material © Squaresoft, Square-Enix.