Real Love—The Truth

by taitofan

Rated PG-13 for yaoi

Disclaimer: If I owned Star Ocean 3, the four optional characters would have been mandatory, Sophia would have pulled an Aerith, Melt would have done more, and AlbelxFayt would have been canon. None of that happened, and thus, I don't own it.

Author's notes: And here I go again! I joined another writing prompt community at LiveJournal, and this time the challenge was to take one character and write them in ten different pairings. I chose my newest fandom, and as for the character…I chose Roger. Why? Well, one, there are basically no Roger fics out there, let alone romantic ones. Luckily, there are a few good ones, and I will be plugging them once I get to the corresponding couples, so watch for those. And my second reason, quite frankly, is that I like more couples involving Roger than any other character. It was easy to find ten characters to pair him with. This first one is my favorite Roger couple of them all—the cute pintsized rivals. Heck, even in the FaytxRoger ending this couple got more hints! There are two other couples in this too—one obvious and one not so obvious. See if you can find them.

10 whores prompt: 09. the truth

Flames do nothing but make me laugh, although I'll listen to any CC you have. Please read, review, and enjoy! Finished 08-27-07

Forte G. Huxley frowned as she examined the wound on her son's ankle. It wasn't broken, but it was swollen and red, and he probably would be in pain for a few days at least. She shook her head as she told him to stay put while she got the bandages, ignoring the fact that her husband was congratulating Roger. Congratulating him for playing those dangerous games with the other boys and getting hurt again! Men. She'd never understand them…

"—and it was really cool when I fell over the cliff, cause I grabbed it midair and won the contest! You shoulda seen Lucien's face when Dribe told him that put me ahead!" Forte didn't know the specifics of the latest "Real Man Contest" and quiet frankly, she didn't care. Rarely did anything worry her…except for the well-being of her only child. She realized that Aznor had done the same thing at his age, but she never remembered him getting hurt so often, and he certainly hadn't limited his contests to just one person as Roger had… Lucien, it was always that little cat boy. Always.

Oh, how she longed for the days when the six boys had all been friends, before their silly rivalry had started. She could still remember having six little humanoids running about the house for sleepovers, Vellion and Dribe raiding cookie jars, Melt and Lezard talking about subjects far more advanced than most children their age could comprehend, and Roger and Lucien…well, they'd always had their rivalry she supposed. Even as small children, they seemed to compete in silly little challenges, from who could drink their milk the fastest to who could go the longest without blinking. Although, at least back then, no one was almost breaking their ankles.

"Tomorrow we're gonna have a rematch, cause Lucien said he hadn't felt good. Real men don't make excuses, but I agreed. I know I can kick his tail any day of the week!" Forte returned with the bandages, shaking her head wearily as she began applying salve and dressing the wound. That boy…

"Roger Huxley, with your ankle like this, you won't be doing anything of the sort for at least three days. I don't even want you leaving the house tomorrow, understand?" Roger's large brown eyes widened further, a look of disbelief etched on his face. She was unmoved.

"But mama, that's not fair! I'll be fine in the morning, I just know it! Come on, I can't back down. Lucien will win by default if I'm not there!" Aznor opened his mouth to say something, but he quickly closed it when his wife shot him a look. Mayor or not, there were just some things he knew better than to mess with…

"Your mother is right. Being a real man isn't just about bravery and strength. You need to be smart too. You don't want to push yourself until you get hurt badly enough to stop you from having your contests altogether, do you?" Roger sighed, knowing that with neither parent on his side, it was a lost cause. She knew it didn't mean he had to like it though.

"Fine…" He looked downright rejected, and finally, Forte took some pity upon him. He was only twelve, and he'd just finished saving the world with people from another planet—having his ankle stop him after all that must not seem at all fair.

"Roger, there's more to being a real man than anything you might do in one of those contests. Real men need to do things like take care of their families and loved ones. If you really want to be a good man when you're older, you need to learn to turn down dangerous dares. If you got hurt, it would hurt your father and me. And how do you think Lucien's family would feel if he got hurt? …How would you feel?" Roger's pouting ceased immediately at the question, and Forte could practically see the gears moving in his head. He'd obviously never assumed the older boy could get hurt. That was children for her, always thinking they were invincible…

"So… If I wanna prove to Lucien I'm a real man, I gotta find somebody to love?" She blinked at his question, wondering how her child's mind could possibly wander so far off track…

"Well, that wasn't quite my point. You need to protect people—yourself, family, friends, and one day, your wife and children. A real man would even look out for his rivals. So if you and Lucien claim to be men, you need to start acting responsible. Understand?" He nodded, and she thought she'd be left to finish the bandaging, until…

"So, do I have to get married? Why can't things just stay the way they are now?" She chuckled at the innocent question. He acted so much like his father did at that age…

"Well, you don't have to, but one day you'll meet a girl and fall in love, and you'll want to marry her. By then you'll realize that you don't have to prove to anyone that you're a man—you'll already be one." He looked skeptical, but stayed quiet until she was done. Then, with a small thank you, he hobbled off in the direction of his room, leaving her to wonder if he would listen to a word she said…

"You're assuming he'll end up like me." She turned around to face her husband, a confused look on her face.

"Come again?" He chuckled and wrapped an arm around her waist, gesturing in the direction Roger had left in with his free hand.

"You assume he'll grow out of the contests one day like I did when I married you. But what if he doesn't? Maybe he and Lucien will be challenging each other all their lives." She thought about it for a few moments before shaking her head lightly.

"I doubt there's any woman out there who would stand by while her husband did dares that could kill him." There was a twinkle in his eyes that she didn't miss. He might not be good with the faces of strangers, but there was little he missed otherwise. What did he know that she didn't…?

"No, probably not… But that doesn't mean he might not find someone else who's more than willing to allow the contests to continue." She was still confused, but before she could question the meaning behind his words, he kissed her cheek and walked towards the door, calling over his shoulder to tell her he had duties as mayor to attend to. Now she knew that he knew something she didn't…

The next day, Forte still hadn't gotten her answers. She hadn't had the time to worry though, as she kept an eye open at all times to make sure Roger stayed put and didn't try to sneak out. She knew the temptation would be great, but she wouldn't stand for him going out and breaking his ankle for real.

It came as no surprise when a knock sounded on the door shortly after lunchtime. She was sure it was Melt or Dribe—mostly likely both—coming to see why Roger hadn't shown up. She wouldn't put it past her son to pretend he hadn't been hurt in front of his friends. However, she was fully surprised when she opened the door and it was neither a wolf boy nor a fox boy…

"Hello Lucien. Can I help you?" The thirteen-year-old hadn't changed all that much from the days he was constantly playing with Roger, rather than fighting with him. He was still far taller than Roger, though the difference in species accounted for that—the Menodix were naturally short. He still had that air of confidence, almost to the point of cockiness, about him, much like her son. And with the slight bow he gave her, it seemed that his rebellious stage hadn't hindered his manners.

"Afternoon Mrs. Huxley. Just wanted to know if you knew where Roger was. We were supposed to have a Real Man Contest today, but he never showed, and his friends don't know where he is either." She almost pointed out that they used to be his friends too, but instead kept quiet and let him finish. "You haven't seen him lately, have ya?"

"He's in his room actually," she informed him, somewhat amused when his eyes narrowed. She could only imagine what he was thinking… "His ankle was hurt in your contest yesterday, and I wouldn't let him leave the house." The annoyed look quickly melted away at that, leaving a thinly veiled concern in its wake.

"He hurt himself…?" Just as she'd thought—Roger hadn't told anyone. "Is…is he okay?" She nodded, causing a small look of relief to flit upon his face before his expression returned to its previous nonchalance. It was relieving to see that no matter what had happened, Lucien still cared about Roger. They'd been good friends for so long—it had broken her heart the first time Roger came home, near tears, telling her that Lucien didn't want to be friends anymore. The six friends had started their group rivalries the very next day.

"He'll be fine in a few days. …Would you like to come in and see him?" He looked shocked at the question, as well as a bit nervous. His tail flicked erratically as he glanced around, as if looking for someone. Forte would have bet all the fol she had that he was looking to see if Lezard or any of the others were watching. After a few moments, he nodded, albeit hesitantly. With a small smile playing on her lips, she stepped aside and allowed him in.

It didn't really surprise her when he headed straight to Roger's room. Even after what seemed like so long, he hadn't forgotten… She knew that her son was more than likely to be a bit shocked at his visitor though. She knew she should give them some privacy…but then again, did she really want to miss the show? Deciding that no, no she most certainly didn't, she quietly made her way to her son's room, getting there just in time for Lucien to slip in. The door fell half shut behind him, giving her just enough room to peek inside without being seen…

"…Hey goofball." Roger looked up from one of his father's books, not seeming surprised at all, actually. In fact, he was even frowning a bit.

"Yeah, I know, I didn't make it, so I forfeit, and we're tied again. Or does a forfeit count as two losses now? I don't care, just leave me alone." She rather expected a fight at that point, but Lucien merely lowered his gaze to the floor, a guilty look on his face.

"Well, Lezard did suggest that, but I said no. And know that I know you're hurt… I call the whole thing off. We're still tied." Roger looked at him suspiciously, but Lucien refused to meet his gaze.

"I don't want your pity. Real men don't need pity…" Lucien's head finally raised, a small scowl on his face.

"It ain't pity ya goofball! What, is it a crime to be concerned about the people I care about now or somethin'?" A rather…interesting thing happened then. Lucien slapped his hands over his mouth, as if he could get back the words that had obviously slipped out against his will. Roger, eyes wide, gazed up at him with unbridled curiosity.

"You care about me?" Lucien did a good job keeping the color of his face under control, but his tail whipped around his feet, giving away his nervous feelings.

"Of course I do, ya fool… You're my rival after all. I wouldn't waste my time with someone unworthy…" Forte didn't believe that explanation for a minute, and judging by the look on Roger's face, neither did he.

"I don't see why ya'd have to care about your rival…unless they were your friend too." They were silent for a few moments, the only sound being the swoosh of Lucien's tail against the wooden floor. Finally, Roger let out a small sigh, closing his eyes and leaning against his bed's headboard. "Do you ever wish we'd never become rivals and stayed as friends instead?" Lucien shrugged, then remembered that Roger couldn't very well see the gesture with his eyes closed…

"Not really. I…" He trailed off, and Roger cracked open one eye to see the blush finally forming on the older boy's face. He looked as intrigued as Forte felt.

"You what? Come on, tell me why ya did it! Tell me why you said we couldn't be friends anymore! And tell the truth!" Lucien sighed and sat on the side of Roger's bed, a look of melancholy in his eyes. Forte was finally beginning to realize what her husband had meant…

"The truth, eh? Well, if you think you can handle it…" The look on Roger's face told him to stop stalling and hurry up. He smirked a bit, but complied nonetheless. "Alright, alright, I'll tell ya… When I turned ten, my dad told me I was on my way to becoming a real man. Then Lezard said, once we were alone of course, that if I wanted to be a man, I had to beat out the competition. He said the only way I could be a man was if I had a rival that I could be better than. Well… You're the only one I could see as my rival, you know? Melt is already Lezard's so he was outta the picture, and Dribe and Vellion ain't brave enough to do these contests. You were my best friend, so…I figured you'd make the best rival too."

"O-oh…" Roger murmured, lowering his gaze as he took that in. Lucien waited amazingly patiently as he thought it all over. A few minutes later, he looked up, a mixture of confusion and curiosity written on his face. "Yesterday, mama said one day I'll fall in love with a girl and not wanna be your rival anymore. I like the way things are though… But I liked it when we were friends too. Can't we be both and leave girls outta it?"

…Forte wasn't sure whose eyes went wider at the question—hers or Lucien's. The young teenager recovered first though, his face flushed at the insinuations of Roger's words.

"Ya do know what you're talking about, right? I mean, if we stayed just the two of just forever with no girls, people would say we're, you know…" Roger nodded, his face matching the color of the other boy's, though his eyes showed determination.

"Yeah, they probably would, but who cares? You're more interesting than any dumb ole girl… And two of the guys I was traveling with were definitely real men, and they were together. Remember the blue-haired swordsman and that scary guy in the skirt?" Lucien's look was skeptical at that. "No, it's true! I used to sp—I mean, I used to accidentally catch 'em kissin' sometimes. If they could do it, so can we!"

"I…" Forte was, for once, thrown completely off-kilter by this conversation. Did her son truly have a crush on Lucien, or was this some spur of the moment decision? She didn't have time to ponder it further as Lucien, at a loss for words, decided to show Roger his response instead. He leaned over and pressed his lips to Roger's, rather clumsily, but full of sincerity. Roger kissed back, equally as inexperienced, but also with equal earnestness. Watching her son's first kiss… It was sweet, yet strange. She doubted many parents got to witness such a sight. And as they pulled back and smiled, she no longer had her doubts as to what her son was feeling.

"I've…kinda wanted to do that for a while now. Back when I was with Fayt and the others actually. The first time I saw him and Albel together… I thought about you and me. We always fought too, but I knew we were still friends anyway. So I thought about kissing you and…I liked it. …I liked doin' it for real too!" The last part was accompanied by a grin, which Lucien readily returned.

"I've wanted to kiss you since ya left with all those guys. It was so boring without you! Lezard was the only one havin' any fun, makin' traps for Melt. I had this dream, and we had another Real Man Contest, but we had to see who could go the longest kissin' without needing to breathe. I wanted to try it for real…" As the confessions came to a close, Roger chuckled, a mischievous spark in his eyes.

"Is that so? I bet I won." Then that same look of confidence entered Lucien's eyes as well, and it seemed that Aznor was right. Those two really would grow up without ever losing their rivalry…though they'd be gaining something else in the meanwhile.

"Not a chance! I won. And I'll prove it to ya! Whoever goes the longest without breathing is the real man!"

"You're on!"

It seemed she'd been right too—their contests were bound to change eventually. She had a feeling that they'd no longer be pressured into partaking in more dangerous stunts, if only because they now had someone else to think about other then themselves. No, she wasn't at all upset by this turn of events, not one bit. Far from it—she was glad. Now Roger would be happy and safe. What more could a mother ask for?

"Give the boys some privacy, dear." She jumped a bit at the sudden voice of her husband, silently scolding herself a bit for not sensing him earlier. But this was all rather exciting, so she supposed she had a good excuse.

"Alright, alright… You knew this was going to happen, didn't you?" He nodded at the accusation, a small smile on his face.

"I had just had a feeling, that's all. Glad to see I was right. …Now, how about we give these two some time to reacquaint their friendship, hmm? We wouldn't want to get in the middle of their quest to see who's the real man." Forte shook her head, not bothering to hide the pleased smile that graced her face.

"No, I guess we wouldn't…" And with that, she followed her husband to the kitchen, leaving Lucien and Roger to their latest challenge.