This a oneshot fic written in the first person from Ashton's POV. In case you missed the disclaimer in the summary, there will be an Ashton/Claude pairing in this fic. That means there will be shonen-ai (boy love). If you homosexual pairings aren't for you then don't read this fic.

I'm interested in what you people think of my characterization of Claude and Ashton. I thought I did a decent job of keeping them in character but it'd be nice to get a second opinion. I suppose I have a bit of leeway how I portray characters, which makes fanfiction lot's of fun. :)


By pairofdox

I awake in a pool of sweat. My eyes survey the ceiling as I catch my breath. The nightmare is over. Everything is ok.

Unable to sleep I push aside the covers and roll out of bed. My arms are limp. My legs are Jello. The tournament sucked the energy out of me today. It's one thing to be in a fight but it's another to be in the stadium with people screaming about fights for an entire day. But that's not why I'm so tired...or prone to nightmares this evening.

No. I dreamt that he died. Yes, him. It was awful. There I was. I was in the stands. I was cheering him on. 'Go Claude! You can do it. Watch out for that strike. Nice block! Come on, give him a Head Splitter.'

It went so well, until Dias stabbed him through the heart. I saw it all. The blood oozing out of his chest. His face clenching in unbearable pain. His body falling to the ground, like a lifeless doll. I remember darting into the arena, everything was in slow motion. Miraculously, I caught him before he fell. 'I love you. Please don't die on me.' My words soothed his soul, but not his body. 'Ashton...I'm sorry...'

I secretly love Claude. I'm not sure when that happened but it did. That's all that matters anyway. He's so perfect. His smooth voice, goofy smile, warm soul. It's too bad he'll never feel the same way about me. My love for him is "unnatural". Men who love other men are considered perverts by many. I don't think so. Love is love. There's nothing wrong with that.

A snore from Celine snaps me out of my trance. I feel as though I'm aware of everything in the room. That's when I noticed he wasn't there. I looked upon his bed. The covers were ruffled but there was no body beneath them. Where'd he go?

I crept out of the room careful not to wake Rena, the sweetest girl I've ever met, and Celine, a snarky bitch who's always flirting with my Claude. Once out of the room I was presented with a minor dilemma. Where would I go searching for Claude? He could've gone anywhere in town and he hadn't left me any clues.

My sixth sense ends the impasse. I felt that Claude's presence was nearby. He was somewhere close, but probably not in any of the rooms. He can be extremely introverted sometimes, even more so than me. Claude probably went somewhere he could be completely alone. But where would that be?

The answer hit me like a ton of bricks. The roof of course! I clasped my hand over my mouth. I nearly shouted out loud, which might've woken some of the inn's residents. I scuffled gingerly up the stairs to the roof. The combination of eagerness and tiredness was surely an interesting one.

I arrived to find Claude gazing out into the vast field of stars. His sword laid upon the ground, which indicated to me he had been practicing.

"Why are you up so late?"

I approach him and tap him lightly on the shoulder. He doesn't turn around. He talks as if I'm not there.

"I need to keep training. I must become stronger. There's no room for weakness."

I smiled. "You're far from weak, Claude. I've seen you in action and it's very impressive."

He turns around and finally acknowledges me. "Spare me the sympathy Ashton. You saw me today. You saw how quickly Dias beat me. It was such an embarrassing defeat."

I was so surprised I considered pinching myself to see if I was dreaming. The Claude I knew was always sure of himself, even today after the tournament. I had no idea he was this devastated.

"We all lose sometimes. That's the way life works. Besides, we learn more from losing than winning."

"You don't understand," he plops down onto the ground beside me, "I need to be the best. I need to prove myself. It's always been that way."

I sit next to him. "What do you mean?"

"Where I come from my dad is an important man in the military. He's first in command of a huge fleet and a hero back in his day. Everyone loves and respects him.

"The problem is I'm his son. Everyone assumes that I get special treatment. They hate me. All of them. I hear them all the time, talking behind my back. They just pretend to like me to my face."

"What do you mean?"

"It's stuff like this. 'Did you hear the Commodore's son is the top of his class?' 'Well, of course. If I were a Sargent I'd go easy on the Commodore's son.'"

"I'm sorry."

He goes on. "I don't want to live in my dad shadow. I can't. Ever since I started basic training I have done whatever it took to be the best. That way they can laugh and jeer and shit on me but it won't matter! No! I, Claude C. Kenni, have fought hard to be the best of the best. When Dias beat me today, he took that away from. I can't bear that."

Anger seeped through my veins. How could Claude be so foolish? And so defeated? I wasn't going to put up with any of that.

"What is your problem?" I slapped him across the face. "Dias didn't take anything away from you. Nor did those people who make fun of you."

"W-what do you mean?"

"I mean that you are, and always will be, Claude. People will label you however they want but that doesn't change who you are. You should never strive for greatness just to prove yourself to others. You should strive for greatness because you want to be great."

"Oh, ok."

"Besides," I continued, "Dias only won today because he's a more experienced swordsman. He clearly had way more training than you ever had. He's also much older. You can't expect to win every battle. The deciding factor of who's better isn't always merit...and it's definitely not one battle."

"Right." Claude covered his face with his hand. He started to make strange noises. Was he crying?

Panic overrode my cool thinking. "I'm so sorry! Claude, I didn't mean to make you cry."

"I'm not crying." He tried to deny the obvious as the sniffling became more intense.

"Please, stop crying." I could feel tears welling up in my own eyes. "Please. I can't stand to see the boy I love so upset."

I said it. I wasn't supposed to. I wasn't intending to. But I said it. Right there I told him I loved him. By accident. What's going to happen now? I hope it won't make him cry more. I can't stand to see him cry.

"Ashton..." His face was only a few inches from mine. In the moonlight I could make out his beautiful blue eyes tainted with sour tears and unholy red lines. No more of this. I won't stand for it. Without another thought I closed the distance between us. I kissed him gently on the lips.

When we broke apart I looked away. "I'm sorry Claude. This wasn't supposed to happen."

"Ashton," he was uncharacteristically tender, "Let's watch the moon together."

He laid his head in my lap. I stroked his golden hair mindlessly and traced his cheek. After an eternity passed (well, a few minutes actually) Claude slowly rose to his feet. I followed suit. I was entranced by his ethereal beauty.

"Thanks for messing up this evening," he smiled sheepishly, "or we would've never been this close."

"Don't mention it." I laughed and then became serious. "I'm really sorry I slapped you. I was so emotional that moment I didn't know what I was doing."

"Don't be sorry. I needed it. I promise you I'll work on my insecurities. From now on I'll be great because I want to. Not because I need to be better than everyone else."

"Ha, don't be so hard on yourself. I'm not perfect either. Just look at my back." I gestured toward the sleeping Gyoro and Ururun.

He said nothing. Instead, he lunged forward and wrapped me in a tight hug. "You are so cute," he hissed into my ear. "But not as cute as me."

"So aren't you," I whispered back. "Even if you can be an arrogant twit."

This time it was Claude who initiated the kiss. After a moment his tongue licked my lips, demanding entrance. I obliged and moaned softly as it darted around my mouth. We broke away for a moment to catch our breath. I felt as though I had taken twenty cure stones simultaneously.

"Claude, that was amazing."

"It was." His head collapsed onto my shoulder. "We should go to bed now. It'll be a long day traveling to Linga."

"Yes, let's go. Here, I'll take your sword." We descended back into the inn and crept silently into our room.

"Do you think we should tell them?" I pointed at Rena and Celine.

"Why don't we let them find out for themselves." He pulled into his bed. I cuddled next to his wiry body.

"You have such good ideas. No wonder people mistake you for the Warrior of Light."

"Mmmh," he moaned.

The two of us have slept together ever since.