-Promises and a Bath-
A Tales of the Abyss
one-shot by Digitaldreamer
Rawr, lame title is lame.
So I needed to write some fluff, and this idea hit me. Because seriously, that Keterburg Spa provides so many possibilities and Luke and Guy are just terribly, terribly cute. Some angst kind of snuck into this, though.
Right, well, I can't guarantee how great this is, since it was written in the span of a couple hours after a rather crappy day. I can't guarantee it'll be perfectly IC either, since this is my first time trying to seriously write these two, and well...yeah, no guarantees all around.
I guess this could be taken as having some Guy x Luke hints if you want, and if not...well, hey, everyone loves friendship fics! Also, I know you can visit the spa at any time, but I chose to set this just after the party visits the Absorption Gate for the second time. So...yeah, spoilers, rawr.
Anyway, on with the fic!
The Keterburg Spa was mostly empty when Luke snapped one of the spray nozzles back into place, his red hair dripping. To be honest, Luke had been kind of surprised. From what he'd heard of spas like these, the bathing areas usually had a lot more people...though he supposed the lack thereof could have been Jade's fault. Even if Jade had long since finished, Luke would not have been surprised if he'd managed to scare off any other people who had planned to use the baths for the rest of the day.
"Ah well, it's not like it's that big of a deal...it's kinda nice to have this place to ourselves." Luke murmured. "Alright, now what did I do with that soap and washcloth?" The redhead glanced around, pushing some of the soaking wet strands out of his face.
"Aha!" The boy gave a cry of triumph as he finally spotted the bin where he'd left the hotel items. "Jeez, why'd I put it way over here?" He muttered, making his way over.
Or at least he tried, anyway. He was still wet from spraying himself down, and the mixture of that and the tile floor was enough to send Luke crashing to the ground with a loud'WHUMPH!'.
"Ow, ow, ow..." Luke groaned as he lay there, squeezing his eyes shut as his body throbbed.
"Whoa, that was quite a fall. You alright, Luke?" Guy's voice echoed through the white room, and within moments blue eyes swam into focus as the blond peered down at his best friend. A towel was wrapped around his waist, but other than that he was bare, seeing how swimsuits weren't allowed in the actual bathing area.
Luke blinked, then gave a nod. "Yeah...this floor is really really hard, that's all." He winced again.
The blond chuckled and shook his head, offering a hand which Luke gratefully took. "Well, I'm sure you're not the first to make a complete idiot of yourself in here, so don't worry about it."
His best friend huffed, cheeks puffing out in indignation. "I did not-- ...you...the floor was slippery!" He snapped.
Guy just grinned as he knelt down to scoop up Luke's things and hand them to him. "Whatever you say, Luke. Whatever you say."
The redhead pouted, then snatched his things before sitting down on a bench. "You're cruel, Guy."
"I can't help it, you make it too easy." Guy said as he sat down beside Luke, sending a bucket of water skidding over to the redhead before setting down his own.
Luke decided to not reply to that, instead focusing on trying to get his soap out of its package. He gave a low growl as he fought with the paper, finally tugging it free after a few moments. He held it for a bit, looking somewhat unsure. He'd never really actually bathed himself like this before, at the manor he'd always had the maids or someone else to help, and out on the road usually the best he could hope for was a quick dunk in a river or a bathtub if he was really lucky. Something like this was completely foreign to him.
He shot a glance Guy, whom was already working on scrubbing himself down. Water clung to and slid across his skin, tracing paths across muscles decorated with the occasional scar. Lean fingers lathered soap into his hair with ease, gold hiding momentarily behind white suds.
Luke frowned, brow furrowing, then moved as if to try to copy Guy's motions. It then occurred to him that maybe he should get the wash cloth wet first, since it wasn't doing much help dry. The redhead gave a sigh as he dunked it into the bucket of water and squeezed it out, then tried using the soap.
Next to him, Guy had grabbed his bucket of water and dumped it over himself, sending liquid splashing everywhere. Luke let out a yelp, shielding his face. "Geez, careful where you're splashing!" He cried. "Some of us aren't done yet!"
Guy snickered as he shook the water out of his eyes, droplets falling from his hair. "Done yet?" He repeated. "It looks like you haven't even started yet. I thought by now you were old enough to wash yourself, Luke." The blond teased.
Luke blushed. "S-shut up!" He snapped, reaching for his bar of soap. Seconds after he got a hold of it, however, it slipped from his fingers and flew through the air. "Ack!" The redhead reached out and tried to catch it, but the bar only proceeded to slip through his fingers yet again, then clattered to the floor.
His former servent chuckled, reaching down to take the bar of soap. "Would you like some help, MasterLuke?" Guy asked, his eyes twinkling with mirth.
"What!?" Luke sputtered. "No! I can wash myself, damnit!"
"Oh, really?" The blond's eyes widened in mock surprise. "And here I thought you'd never been to a spa before!"
Guy shook his head and chuckled again. "Seriously, let me help." He said, taking the washcloth from Luke's hands and standing.
Luke frowned. "You don't have to, Guy. It's not like you're my servant anymore, we've been over this."
The blond flashed a warm smile as he dunked the cloth again. "Don't worry about it, I'm doing this because I want to. Besides, if I didn't, I think you might end up giving yourself a concussion."
His former charge huffed, crossing his arms. "I'm not that bad."
"Whatever you say." Guy drawled as he began to scrub. "Now hold still and relax, seriously."
Luke pouted, but did as he was told, relaxing on the bench and trying his best not to tense up as the washcloth scrubbed at more sensitive areas of his skin. Guy's fingers, tanned and calloused after years of servant's work, made their way along Luke's body with practiced ease. They traced along muscled shoulders and danced carefully over scars along the boy's abs, taking care around the places where wounds were not quite so old. They kneaded across his back, water and suds sliding across the boy's skin as Guy worked.
"Nngh..." The redhead gave a low groan, arching his back as Guy kneaded across a particular kink.
Guy paused, frowning. "You alright?"
"Yeah, just...it's been awhile since anyone's done this for me, I guess." Luke mumbled, looking at the floor in an attempt to hide his blush. "It...feels nice, I guess."
The blond smiled. "Ah...you're right, ithas been awhile, hasn't it? Although you were at the manor for awhile..."
"Well, yeah, but...it's weird with them now that I'm older." Luke muttered, fiddling with the edge of his towel. "Real awkward."
Guy laughed. "The savior of Auldrant is afraid of a few maids? Who'd have thought?"
Luke glared over his shoulder at his best friend. "Like you have any place to talk!" He stuck out his tongue, then yelped as the warm washcloth hit him in the face.
"It's very unwise to give cheek to the guy scrubbing you down, Luke." Guy said with a smirk as he snatched the washcloth back. "Now close your eyes, alright? I'm gonna wash your hair."
Luke did as he was told, squeezing his eyes shut. "I'm surprised you even want to do this, actually." He began conversationally. "I figured by now you'd be more than fed up with this sort of thing, especially after all the nightmares I must've caused you when I was younger."
Guy chuckled as he poured some shampoo into his palm and began to lather it through Luke's hair. "Yeah, that's true, you were a little terror whenever you got a bath. I remember I always had to help you because the maids got fed up with it."
"Well, I can't really blame them, more water ended up on the floor than in the tub by the end of it." Luke said with a laugh.
The blond snorted. "Pretty much. Usually in my case I could at least get you to hold still long enough to wash your hair, though."
His charge pouted. "It's not my fault the shampoo was so stingy!" He snapped. "They could have-- ugh!" His complaint was cut off as a bit of lather got into his mouth, and with a choking noise the teen shook his head violently and blew it away.
"Gah, Luke!" Guy gave a yelp and shielded his face as suds went everywhere. "Hold still!"
Luke scrubbed his hands across his face in an attempt to get the rest of the lather off, an expression of disgust upon his features. "Ugh, that's disgusting!"
"Well, that's what you get for talking so much." Guy admonished, grabbing hold of Luke's shoulders and steadying him. "Now hold stillI'll rinse you off."
His friend squeezed his eyes shut and did as he was told. After a few seconds a wave of warm water washed over him, rinsing all the suds away. The redhead sat there for a few moments, then shook his head and opened his eyes. "Well, at least I didn't get any in my eyes this time!" He said brightly.
Guy snorted as he piled up his bucket and Luke's. "Still a kid, I see."
Luke stuck his tongue out at him as he stood. "Alright, you wanna go soak in the pool, then?"
His best friend nodded, picking up his stuff as well as Luke's. "Sure, I'd like that." The two made their way towards the pool in silence, the only noise coming from their wet feet as they pattered along the tile floor.
Once they reached the main bath, Guy set down their stuff and shrugged off his towel without hesitation, setting it aside before sinking into the water with a sigh. "Wow, that feels really good..." He groaned wistfully, expression becoming one of relaxed bliss.
Luke blinked down at Guy for a moment. "You just...get in?"
Guy glanced up at him and smirked. "What, are you shy?"
The boy blinked again as his face turned around as red as his hair. "N-no!" He sputtered. Why should he be nervous? Guy had been around for his "I'm mentally two years old so it's perfectly okay to go streaking through the halls of the manor" stage, it really wasn't any big deal. Luke pulled off his towel, then hesitantly slid into the pool. "Whoa...this is really nice." He blinked in surprise.
"You were expecting otherwise?" Guy asked, quirking an eyebrow.
Luke shrugged. "I dunno...it's just really different from anything else I've done before...it's nice though." He leaned back against the sides of the pool, reaching up to slick back his bangs away from his face as they did so. For a moment they sat there in an Asch-like fashion, then drooped back into place again.
Upon hearing his friend's huff of annoyance Guy laughed, leaning out of the pool and grabbing a towel. He folded it, then placed it on Luke's head. "Try that instead, towel boy. No one should be copying Asch's idea of a hairdo."
Luke laughed, reaching up to touch the fluffy white towel. "Good point. Thanks, Guy."
"You're welcome." Guy chuckled as he leaned back again. "It's been awhile since we've done something like this, hasn't it?"
"What do you mean?" The redhead asked, glancing at his companion.
"Well, I mean...stuff with just the two of us." Guy shrugged.
Luke frowned thoughtfully. "You're right...it has been awhile..." He gave a small smile. "Whenever we do, there's usually something to worry about too...I mean, after this we really should get going for the Radiation Ga--"
"Don't talk about that." Guy interrupted, his expression serious. After a few moments though, he smiled. "I'm serious, don't. Don't think about the stupid gates or Eldrant or whatever...for now, your only worry is what's for dinner."
The redhead's brow furrowed. "But we really should--"
"I'm serious, I think Anise might be cooking again tonight." Guy interrupted.
Luke stared at him for a moment, then smiled. "We'll have to make sure to tell her she can have the most expensive thing on the menu at the restaurant then, huh?" He said.
Guy grinned. "Yeah, I think she'll like that."
The two sat in comfortable silence for awhile, the only sounds being the occasional splash and the soft flowing noise of the water falling into the pool from the fountain. It was a quiet that seemed to recall better days, back when they were younger and the world was only an imagined place beyond stone walls. It recalled hours spent in Luke's room, just idling the time away with conversations that stretched hours and hours where nothing was said and vet nothing somehow was everything. It recalled the reasons why Guy had lost his desire for revenge, the reasons why Luke had been so devastated at the idea that blond might hate him, the reasons why Guy missed that innocent smile and the reasons why Luke kept smiling for him.
It drew them back to better days, and yet at the same time it was greater than all of those things put together.
"You know...when all this is over, we'll have to make sure to do this again." Guy said after a time.
"What do you mean?" Luke asked, tracing his fingertips lightly along the surface of the water.
"I mean...when this is all over, we'll still have those passes...so we'll have to make sure to do this again." The blond shrugged. "Or not even just the spa in general...just...things like this, you know?"
Luke glanced over at his best friend, then flashed a smile "Well, I'm sure once we're done with the Radiation Gate and everything it won't hurt to take another stop here before we reach Eldrant."
"I don't mean that!" Guy shook his head. "You know what I mean by 'after'...I mean after everything! After Van's gone, after we're done saving this world, after everything...you know..." He trailed off, brow furrowing as he gauged Luke's reaction. "The future."
His best friend stared at him, a heavy sort of sadness in his gaze. "The future?" He repeated quietly, feeling his heart twist.
"Yeah..." Guy's expression grew serious. "The future."
Sapphire met emerald and all Luke could do was stare, a lump forming in his throat so no words came out. The future? How was he supposed to tell Guy that it was unlikely that would ever happen? How was he supposed to not lie and not give away the truth... that there probably wasn't going to be a next time? That this was the first and more likely than not the only time he'd ever come here, that this was the last time he would be seeing snow, that this would be one of the last time's he and Guy talked like this and in the end it was all just...
Luke took a breath, then looked away. "Well, you know, Asch is technically the one who's next in line to be King, so I--"
"I wasn't talking about Asch, I was talking about you." Guy cut him off.
"Well, Asch is the one who--"
"This isn't about Asch, damnit!" Sapphire eyes flashed, teeth clenched and with a flourish of water a calloused hand shot out to grab Luke by the jaw and force him to look Guy in the eye. "This is about you, Luke. You're the one I care about...so talk." The blond murmured, his expression softening.
Luke fell silent at that, biting his lip. "I..." He shook his head, then stood. "I should get out." He muttered, the water draining off of him as he stepped out of the pool, liquid splattering across the floor as he grabbed for his towel with frightening speed. "I'll see you later, okay--"
There was a loud splash and quite suddenly Guy's hand was clasped around his wrist, preventing him from leaving. "Don't you dare." The blond growled.
"Guy..." Luke almost glanced back, then shook his head. "Let go."
"Not until you talk." His companion stated calmly. "Just what is it that makes it so you can't promise me, huh?"
"Guy...I..." Luke took a deep breath, then spoke again, voice sounding terribly small. "Don't you see? He's the one who has a future...I don't."
Guy's eyes narrowed and he almost allowed his hand to drop back, but he kept his hold. "That's what this is about?" He murmured. "Asch again?"
Luke said nothing.
The blond shook his head, tension draining from his shoulders as he grabbed his towel and pulled it on. "Luke...Asch doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if he's the one next in line for the throne, if he's the one who's going to be king...whatever. You know you don't want that." His friend didn't seem to be able to argue with that, so he continued. "So who cares what he has to go to?"
Luke scowled. "You're talking like I'm jealous."
Guy sighed. "That's not what I'm getting at..." He muttered, releasing his grip and reaching up to run a hand through his damp hair. "Look...he may have that...but that doesn't mean you don't have anything. In fact, it makes you free to decide what you want for yourself. You'll have more places to go to than you'll know what to do with, actually...I can't imagine any of us would have it any other way. I'm sure Tear will certainly still want to see you, and though Jade will deny it, I think he wouldn't mind having you around either. Natalia just wouldn't be the same without having both of her boys to fret over, and Anise won't be giving up on her hopes to marry you for your fortune just yet."
The redhead remained silent as Guy listed these off. "Guy..." He finally mumbled, but he could get no more out. It was as if his throat had constricted, his eyes burning as he fought to keep it all under control. 'Don't tell me those things, I know, I know... stop telling me, I know...'
"And of course...you'll always have me..." The blond murmured, moving in closer and putting a hand on the boy's shoulder. "You're my best friend, after all, and you certainly can't take care of yourself...if you wanted, you could always stay with me..."
"Guy..." Luke repeated, his expression twisting into one of pain, his breath catching in his throat. "Don't..." He shook his head. 'Stop...it hurts...'
"Shut up." Guy's voice rumbled in his throat like a growl as he spun Luke around to face him fully, placing his other hand on the boy's free shoulder. In spite of this somewhat rough maneuver, however, he gave a warm smile. "Don't you see, Luke? You have a place to belong...in fact, in comparison to Asch, you have far more than he does if I do say so myself. As long as you have friends...you'll always have a future, Luke."
Luke took a shuddering breath, his mask nearly crumbling. He shook his head again, forcing himself to look away. "I...I know...I..." He kept his eyes trained upon the floor, fists clenching and unclenching even as his shoulders shuddered with the effort it took to hold it all in. He couldn't look up and see Guy's face...he couldn't.
The have the fact that he was wanted, the fact that he wasn't just seen as a replica, the fact that he was loved thrust into his face like that...it made the truth that he would have to leave it all behind hurt even more.
"Luke...look at me."
Guy murmured, his voice ringing through the spa.
"Luke..." The blond trailed off, then shook his head and tried again, eyes narrowing. "You have a future. So promise me you'll be here for it."
Luke remained silent, his shoulders tensing even more.
'Don't ask me that...I can't promise that.'
"Luke...promise me." Guy repeated, his grip tightening on the boy's bare shoulders.
"Luke..." He moved to touch the boy's dampened locks, strands of red twining through calloused fingers. "Luke...promise me..."
The boy bit his lip and spared a glance, emerald meeting sapphire...and it was in that moment that he knew he had already broken. He saw what Guy could not voice, the begging that he knew could not be spoken. He saw the silent plea in those eyes, the words that cried over and over again for him to say it, to promise that he'd always be there, to promise that he'd never leave because Guy had already felt the pain of losing him once and could not do it again.
He saw that plea and he shattered because he knew he could not answer it.
Guy repeated, brow furrowing. "Promise
"...I promise." Luke murmured. squeezing his eyes shut. As he speaks, he knows it's a lie...and yet somehow he wants to believe that it won't be. He wants to believe everything Guy has said, to believe he'll be coming back...
He wants to believe, because he knows he cannot say no.
"Good." Guy flashed the closest thing he had to a smile at that point and pulled the boy close. Though he can feel Luke's tears as they fall upon his shoulder, the boy struggling to muffle his sobs...he didn't care. He knew Luke was terrified he was lying, and he didn't care. He wouldn't let it be a lie. Luke had never broken a promise to him before, surely he wouldn't start now...right?
Strands of red slip through his fingertips as he allowed his arm to drop...
Three years later Luke's hair does the same thing, and Guy figures Auldrant better be damn thankful Luke made that promise. After all, if he hadn't...Guy wasn't so sure he would have let go.