A/N: Another Locke – Celes story.
Eh…I'm not sure if this has been done here, but I hope the story is to your liking. I had to play the game all over again before I felt confident to write something through Celes's eyes. I truly hope it's okay.
This story has two POV's. I searched my brain how to make the transition from first person flawless to the third person but I'm not sure if I did it right…
Dedicated to Valkyrie Celes who claimed most L/C stories have Locke as some silly oaf. I'm hoping my characterization of him was not.
I saw something in his eyes.
The recognition of something.
And always the question came. Who does he see, when he looked at me? Did he see the Rune Knight he saved a long time ago, in the dungeons…or was it her that he see? He had told me once, the first time we ever met, that I reminded him of her. There were times after that fateful day that I wish I could gouge my eyes out. I have learned to hate it so much even before I finally realized why.
I don't know how I fake it. Sometimes, I worry I slip, especially when Cid smiles at me knowingly or when Strago clears his throat and hummed a tune I can't make out the words.
He blushed too, during those times. I think he understood more than he let on, and once more I cursed the fact I did not grow up understanding their language, those sly smiles and not so innocent hand gestures. There was something there, a code that was forever kept secret from me. Tavern words have so many double meaning.
Of course, I too, have my own language. Terra sometimes was privy to it since she was raised in a similar environment, though not by my choice or hers, and even to some extent King Edgar and Lord Cyan. I could see that they noticed the little slip of tongue by the slight narrowing of their eyes, or the way their lips tugged upwards. And when I do something that was not protocol, even Setzer, damn him, would raise a sardonic brow.
The only good thing was that he does not quite understand either the nuances of court etiquettes and so when my stilted actions became too eloquent, he does not see what those who were raised to my ways saw.
And I could breathe easy, because no one spoke about it to him, just as no one tells me what it was I don't quite get.
Our comrades have a most distinctive sense of wit.
So it goes on, this dance and many times I would be found looking at the mirror, looking intently at my reflection. I think that it had inspired the notion that I was vain, but Cid, who raised me since I was but a babe would frown and tilt his head, a half smile on his lips and a questioning in his eyes.
That was when I decided I needed someone to look into my eyes to tell me what Locke claimed reminded me of her…because, try as I might, all I saw in that icy blue gaze reflected by the brass mirror was me.
So obviously and so shamefully me.
It was Setzer I come to first, since he seemed to have found something about my gaze that was attractive enough for him to join this crazy fray.
"A word with you," I said to him. My voice was even and no trace of uncertainty laced it. But my heart beat wildly and I almost choked on the next words. "Look into my eyes and tell me what you see."
I should have phrased it with more courtesy. It sounded like an order.
"That, my dear," whispered the gambler in the quiet of the night, "sounded suspiciously like an order."
I cringed. Mayhaps I should have said please?
"What is this about, love?" he asked before I could say the magic word. My courage failed me and I muttered for him to forget it. But then I felt Setzer's hand pressing on mine. I lost my tongue.
He peered deep, a smirk on those sly lips. My own hands were clammy. "I see," he began, whispery soft "A young woman who does not understand how utterly sexy she is. I see a lady hiding behind her leather armour and her myrtle gloves in the guise of a soldier."
My eyes widened in surprise and I could feel myself flushing a deep scarlet. Setzer had a way with words you see. Alas, the bastard did not stop when he should have had the chance.
"I see crumpled sheets of satin, sweat stained bodies and satisfied smiles. I see you with your sweetly curving bottom hig-"
He did not get to finish his words for I kicked him on the groin and left him doubling over.
I could have sworn as I left him behind with angry steps that he was laughing despite the pain.
I would never understand the man.
I found Edgar deep in discussion with Relm in the lower part of the ship. They were talking about the many trademark moves a man makes to show to a young lady he fancied he'd like to be her special one. Relm was giggling despite herself, because Edgar was well into his monologue, speaking of fantastic stuffs like serenades and a ship load of flowers. That he was saying this so seriously was what I think caused Relm so much amusement.
"King Edgar," I called out, respect in my voice. He was a strange gentleman, so honourable and full of nobility. He was wise in the way of the court but in some ways he was but a boy looking for another grand adventure.
Both Relm and him stopped their discussion and turned their attention on me. I could feel a blush beginning to stain my cheeks.
Edgar smiled and gestured to the seat across him. "Yes, my dear?" Besides him, Relm rolled her eyes at his suave ways.
I was about to go on – a joke, nonsense, anything that came to my head – except the girl stood up and fetched me. I almost grimaced. Would it have been better if Relm was not here.
But I was so impatient to know.
"I wish to ask," I said, forcing the tone of my voice not to quaver, "What you see when you look into my eyes." I could see Relm giving me an addled look.
"What manner of question was that?" she asked me, perplexity in her face.
I swallowed and quickly stood up. "T'is a mistake. Fare thee night to you both."
Walking away quickly, I could hear the youth asking Edgar, "No really, what was that about?" and the King of Figarro chuckling and telling her to hush.
I emerged and find myself on deck alone and blushing furiously. I stayed like this for some time, when I felt someone's presence slowly walking towards me. "Lady Celes," Edgar called out.
I sighed before I answered. "Please, do not bother yourself with my impractical questions. It was but a moment of fancy, really."
Edgar stood beside me and gazed at the stars. "Still, I wish to speak my thoughts. If you would?"
I nodded, but I wished he wouldn't. Gods knew I was ready to drop my silly quest.
I could see out of the corner of my eyes that he was smiling. "I think always after I have gazed at your eyes, how irreproachable you look. I have heard of you before, how you led the great Army of the Empire at such a young age, and so when I look into your eyes, I am always surprised at the lack of wickedness in them."
I shook my head, ready to dissuade him of the notion but he held his hands aloft to stop me before I could even speak. He turned towards me and the smile, so kind and understanding was still there.
"Let me speak, please," he interrupted. "I speak to you as a king and a soldier, and not as a man." He grinned sheepishly. "Have no insecurities though. I would have loved to answer your question as a man, but 'tis the knight who came to me so it is the knight I will address."
I held my silence and nodded, telling him quietly to continue. "There is guilt, and a wish to suave the shame. But with it are strength and a strong sense of self. You've been bred for war, so a warrior you would always be, but it does not hide the fact that in another lifetime, you could have been a genteel lady. I don't know what you want me to see when I look at you, but those are my humble view."
A moment of silence and then my whispered words. "I see those too, when I look at myself." My cheeks tinged pink yet again.
Edgar smiled more. "Ah, so we are at the same page? Yet I sense you are not satisfied with my answer. Did you hope for more, Lady Celes?"
I easily avoided the truth. "No, what you have provided was enough. My gratitude to you, King Edgar."
He nodded and started to leave. I think he sensed I wanted to be alone. When he wanted to, he could be charming, was King Edgar.
So I stayed, gazing at the stars, more confused than ever. I was tempted to go to Lord Cyan, except his anger had not abated and no doubt only insults would come out of his lips. No force in the whole Empire could make me ask Setzer again.
Two men had spoken about what they see in my eyes. And while Setzer had been downright lecherous in his last words, I respected and acknowledged his first observation. There were times when I think that he was right and that I am a woman, and one who found that beautiful thing becomes me. That moment in the Opera House had been an eye opener. I've never been one for lace and silk.
But because of that incident, I realized I was quite fond of being dressed up.
Edgar had seen deeper. He had voiced everything I see when I look at my reflection.
But try as I might, I could not see Rachel in their description. Locke had claimed she was a simple girl and while she enjoyed the beautiful things, did not openly crave it like I do now.
I sincerely doubt there would be guilt in her gaze, or an image of a hardened warrior.
I shook my head in confusion. What was it that he saw in my eyes to cause him to be reminded of his first love?
That was when I heard the soft threads of the thief.
He took the spot that Edgar had vacated just minutes ago. After a few minutes the silence became too much for him and he spoke.
"I heard a curious thing," Locke said, a wry smile on his lips. "Word abounds that you have been asking some people to look into your eyes." He turned and leaned on the railing, and he pierced me with his gaze. "Why?"
All day I have waited for an opportunity to know what it was about my eyes that would remind this man of the woman he loved. If I was brave, I could find out that very moment. But I shrank away from the chance.
"It is nothing," I said, feeling resentful. "Just a woman's idiocy. Things you need not worry yourself with."
He sucked his inner cheeks, and out of nowhere an apple appeared in his right hand. He bit in to it and gazed at me still, all the while crunching steadily the fruit. Suck a rogue was Locke with his sleigh of hands and his happy smiles.
I willed myself to stare back at him.
And that was when I saw it yet again.
I opened my lips, quaking in fear. I was so afraid, but this not knowing would be my undoing. "Locke, I w-"
He interrupted me before I could ask him. "I have to go, Celes."
His brusque words, so rare for him, they wounded me the way no blade had ever done.
An outline of a man moved away from the girl, hugging the shadows. It occurred to him that he had been unfair. She had been ready to ask her question, but he had feared the answers that would come out of his lips. He did not want to let go of the past, was not ready to admit a truth that he forced himself to believe a lie.
Her icy blue gaze was everything Rachel's was not.
There was no innocence there, at least not the way Rachel's eyes had been innocent.
His own eyes hardened. And once again he let himself remember that it was to Rachel he had promised forever.
He'd keep that promise, even if he had to destroy the whole Empire to do it.
But he hoped that when that day came, Rachel would be too blinded with her second chance for life to notice that something would be missing in his gaze. Something he lost in a dingy dungeon, deep in a castle field with the Empire's lackeys as he saved a young woman from sure death.
He sat down, a defeated man. He remembered the day clearly.
He remembered peering into the bluest, coldest eyes he had ever seen in his entire life. He remembered seeing his reflection, how a dawning had been in his own eyes as he continued to gaze at the traitor's impassive gaze. And he remembered thinking that was how a man in love would look as he gazed at the reflection of his face. Reflected by those blue eyes.
And then he remembered Rachel.
And that was when the world ended for him, and he began to live in make believe world and he told himself, yet again, that it was the way it should be.
Every time he slipped and he made the mistake of making his feelings more obvious, he forced himself to peer deep into those blue orbs so that he could be reminded it was to Rachel that he promised forever.
A/N: Reviews are very much appreciated. It helps squeeze the creative juices out off sorry saps like me and give confidence to write more silly nonsense. Hugs!