A/N: Okay. Originally, this was supposed to be a KentxLyn romance dealie, from Sain's point of view…but somehow along the way it got turned into a fic about the friendship between Sain and Kent. Not like I'm complaining—I absolutely adore those two. (But still…if the fics write their own plots, what good am I? xD)
The Impossible Dream
Dedicated to Kitten Kisses.
Because she's awesome and deserves a dedication in return.
Also because one would have to be blind and deaf and dead to not see how much she loves Sain and Kent.
It was a very soft sound, just a gasp, but it woke me up.
I was almost surprised to find myself shooting to a sitting position, though I should not have felt that way—this was war, after all, a sudden and exhilarating thing, and as of late I had taken to sleeping lightly. I had been startled awake countless times in the middle of the night since this whole journey began; had stumbled, half-asleep, for my armor and rushed out into fights raging so furiously that they had left me dizzy, as if I still hadn't quite recovered from a dream.
This night, my hand closed quickly around the leather hilt of my sword—which had been resting faithfully beside me as I slept—and I stilled, watching and waiting.
Perhaps it was the sleepiness that had yet to wear off, perhaps it was the darkness that stirred my heart, but I was suddenly rather excited to find out what the tiny, gentle noise was. It could have been a hundred grand and romantic things…an assassin sneaking into my tent to kill me, or someone falling ill just outside the door, or a fair maiden—such as Priscilla! Or Rebecca! Or Isadora!—seeking shelter from the fearsome darkness…
But what had awakened me was none of these interesting things.
It was actually Kent.
My friend was sitting up in his bedroll, with his face buried in his hands. It was hard to see anything more than his silhouette through the shadows, but I could hear his breathing—harsh and uneven.
"Partner?" I whispered, slowly releasing my sword. My voice sounded foreign, rusty and intrusive in the still, silent air of the night. "What's going on?"
"Nothing, Sain," he quickly responded, his own voice taut and strained. "Go back to sleep."
"Is something the matter?" I pressed. Years of living with Kent had taught me to press, to pry, to intrude…if I hadn't learned, he would still be a stranger to me. Even though I was his dearest friend, his boon companion, he still had trouble confiding in me…which I did not take personally. Kent had trouble talking to anyone.
So, in order to help my stalwart fellow unload the heavy burdens of his quiet and ponderous heart, I had learned to force. Everything I knew about him, I had forced from him at one point or another. The man was as open as a book buried under an avalanche of heavy rocks, shut tightly with a load as great as his armor and as unseen as those hundred thoughts that he kept to himself. And yet…sometimes I had the feeling that he wanted to be seen, that he wanted somebody to dig through all those rocks and find him, hold him, open him…read him.
I never told him about this suspicion of mine, knowing that he would brush it away as ridiculous. Sometimes, I was sure that even he himself did not know what he really wanted.
"I just…had a dream," Kent admitted, answering my earlier query in a reluctant whisper. "It was truly nothing. I am sorry for waking you."
"Well, what kind of a dream was it, my friend?" I asked, settling back comfortably onto one elbow. The adrenaline rushing through my veins a moment before had faded, replaced with a slight disappointment that it had not been one of the lovely ladies in the army to wake me. However, even that thought was soon pushed aside by concern for Kent. It could have been that the darkness was playing tricks on me, preying in my imagination, but I was pretty sure that I could see his hands shaking. "…Do you want to tell me about i--?"
Kent's reply was uncannily fast, unnervingly desperate, and uncharacteristically loud. Stranger still, it was accompanied by a bark of dark, bitter laughter. I couldn't help but raise my eyebrows—I had learned from experience that my dear partner had no sense of humor, and was immediately curious as to why he had laughed.
I felt a sly smile creep across my lips. "Oh, come now, Kent…"
"Absolutely not," he insisted—more quietly, but quite firmly. "Just go back to sleep. It was only a dream."
I was silent for a moment, watching him suspiciously. He bowed his head and relaxed his shoulders, repeating in an almost inaudible whisper: "Only a dream…"
"Was it a bad dream?" I refused to drop the subject, intending to keep bothering the living daylights out of Kent until he released some of his agitation. I didn't want to have another of those weeks where I was counting down the seconds until he exploded with tension and had a panic attack…
Kent moved a trembling hand through his hair, raking his bright bangs away from his face, and nodded shortly. "It was very, very bad."
"Well, you should tell me about it, then." I grinned at him, knowing that I had caught him. "Don't you know that if you talk to someone about a terrible dream, you will never dream it again?"
"That's just an old wives' tale," Kent snapped—in the calm, gentle sort of way that only Kent can snap in.
"Oh?" I raised myself up on my palms and leaned closer to my fellow knight, breathing, "Does that mean you do want to dream it again?"
"Absolutely not!" Kent's back was now stiff and straight, his breathing was once more jagged. "I…no, Sain, I couldn't…"
Couldn't, I mused to myself, sinking back down into my bedroll and staring at the ceiling of our tent. Not that he didn't want to…but that he couldn't.
"Kent…" I asked softly, after a long moment, "This wouldn't have anything to do with our beloved Lady Lyndis, would it?"
If Kent was rigid before, there was no word to describe how tense he was after I spoke. "N-n-no!"
Dear Elimine. He stuttered…
I couldn't hold back a rather evil, sagely sort of chuckle. "Kent. You do know that you are an absolutely terrible liar, right?"
I could tell that he wanted to deny it; wanted to keep pushing his luck and insisting that he was being truthful…but the poor, chivalrous fellow just didn't have it in him. He could not be dishonest—especially not to me, for not only would I see right through him, but I would most likely tease him about it later. My friend's hands clenched into fists as he gripped his blanket, and he swallowed hard.
"Please," he begged me in a whisper, "I don't want to talk about this."
"Mm." I made a vague, noncommittal sound to buy myself time to think. On one hand…I didn't want to push my shy partner too hard—what kind of helpful, supportive, all-knowing, older and wiser friend would I be then? However, on the other hand…something deep within my heart was stirring, telling me that Kent truly needed to talk about whatever was bothering him, even if he did not want to. Something was warning me that he was going to tear himself apart.
Finally, I murmured, "Did she die? In the dream?"
Kent shook his head. "Not this time."
"This time?" Now I was sitting bolt-upright again, staring at him in shock. "You mean you've dreamed about her before?"
"No!" Kent instantly denied, but he twisted his hands together in his lap and immediately began taking back his words. "I mean…not…often…just a few times…every once in a while…or a few times every week or so--" He was talking very fast now, nervously—"but not really, because I've never dreamed about her like this!"
He finished breathless, as if he had just run a long way, and I felt myself grin wider than I think I've ever grinned before.
"…Dreamed about her like what, Kent?"
"I am not elaborating," he replied through gritted teeth. "I…it was…most indecent."
I gasped in complete and utter shock: "You had a racy dream?!"
"I--!" Kent immediately cut himself off. He continued to sit there, frozen, shaking like a tree about to snap beneath the weight of snow.
"About Lady Lyndis?!"
"Elimine!" Kent reached up and seized the hair at his temples, a strangely helpless gesture. "It's not as if I planned this!"
"I know," I assured him softly. My surprise had already melted away…especially considering that I had guessed for months now that he cared for Lady Lyn far more deeply than he probably should have. However…I never thought about how he must have felt, having something as beautiful and fiery and passionate as a sunset right in his reach, close enough to touch…and how he must have been denying himself of that touch, because of his duty. I had never associated Kent with the rest of us men, capable of lewd thoughts, capable of wanting.
Although…perhaps Kent didn't think quite the same way as most. Perhaps Kent's idea of "racy" was putting his hand on hers and keeping it there, or wrapping an arm about her slender waist, or—gasp!—giving her a kiss. Oh, Kent. How very scandalous.
"So," I couldn't help but ask mischievously, "Exactly how vulgar were you, my companion? Did you actually kiss her? On the lips?! Oh, say it isn't so, or I shall never look at you the same way again, you lecherous cad!"
"Stop that," Kent ordered dryly, causing me to chuckle. He leaned toward me and softly, angrily demanded, "Do you want to know exactly how vulgar I was? Because I can assure you, I did far more than kiss."
"Sweet Elimine." I was sure that my eyes were as round as saucers, but I still couldn't help jesting with him a little bit. "Who knew you even had it in you, Kent? To be so base?"
"Gods…" Kent mumbled in shame, once more covering his face with a hand. Suddenly he jumped, as if struck with a sudden thought, and the next thing I knew he was scrambling out of his bedroll and to his feet.
"Do you think Brother Lucius is still awake?" he asked me anxiously, desperately. "I should just go and confess my sins right now—"
"Calm down, partner." I yawned and tugged on his pants leg, indicating for him to sit back down. "I was only messing with your mind."
"I should think my mind is dirty enough!" Kent retorted. I pulled on the fabric again, more sharply this time, and he slowly sank back down with a miserable sigh.
"Sain…" he whispered sadly, "I feel so guilty."
"Oh, please." I rolled my eyes at my hopelessly virtuous friend. "Don't beat yourself up about it."
"You're human, Kent," I cut him off. "It's only natural."
"It's wrong," Kent insisted, and I was suddenly startled to hear that he sounded almost tearful. "Perhaps it wouldn't be for any normal man and woman, but…she's my lady. I am bound to serve her and protect her, not to think about…" He trailed off and lifted his hands slightly, beseechingly.
I sank back down to my pillow with a groan of exasperation. "You, my boon companion, are hopelessly naïve."
Kent sank a hand into his chin thoughtfully. "Sain…she is too high above me. I must find a way to…stop thinking about her. So often," he added after a moment's thought. And again, after another few seconds had crawled by, he whispered, "So intimately."
"But why?" I badgered, sick of this blockade within his mind. Duty, duty, duty—why could he never see past it? "Why do you want to stop?"
"Because this is dishonorable!" Kent retorted fiercely. "She is my liege!"
"She is a woman, and you are a man!" I corrected him. "And even beyond that, you are Kent and Lyn! Why would you shy away from that thought, that identity? Why are you content with the fact that she is out of your reach? Kent…!" I lowered my voice to a pleading whisper, staring at him, praying to find a crack in his defenses. "You cannot hide the truth…I already know it, and have known for a very long time."
I paused for a moment—just to build suspense and demonstrate my superior flair for dramatics—before I let the blow fall:
"You love her, Kent."
Kent did not speak or move for a long time. Finally, slowly, deliberately, he crawled into his bedroll and rolled over so that he was facing away from me.
"I've said it before," he told me quietly, "and I will say it again: it was only a dream."
I blew a sigh through my lips, but did not contradict him. I knew well enough how he felt about Lady Lyn…and if he was not ready to tell me, then I would have to give him a bit more time. I supposed I had pushed him enough for one night…
Alright, well, not quite enough. I had one more question.
"Only a dream…but you did enjoy it, didn't you, Kent?"
"GO TO SLEEP, SAIN!"
Oh, yes, I thought wickedly as I snuggled deeper into my own little bed. Beyond his fury, I had heard the way his voice had almost cracked, how husky and tense it had sounded. He enjoyed it very much.
I had closed my eyes, and was almost asleep—drowning in that moment where one feels like they are spinning through a deep darkness—when another very soft sound wrenched me back to consciousness.
Once more, it was not an enemy trying to ambush me, it was not someone seeking aid outside my tent, it was not one of the lovely Pegasus Sisters coming in to see me (Blast!)…it was, in fact, Kent yet again. And he had whispered,
"For what?" I mumbled back, without opening my eyes.
He laughed softly. "For annoying me relentlessly until I told you."
"That's what boon companions are for," I assured him, feeling myself smile. "And I'll still be here bothering you when you decide to come clean about loving Lady Lyn."
"…Thanks," Kent replied, rather wryly.
"You know," I said, sure that I was slurring my words since I was already sinking back into slumber, "It's not…a bad thing. To dream about her. To love her. Quite honestly, having a rift between your statuses is not the greatest obstacle that love could overcome…"
"What could be more of an obstacle than that?" Kent asked me in a melancholy fashion. "To have two completely different lives?"
"Well…" I murmured, "Someday…you can bug me…and I'll tell you about this dream I had of Lady Louise…"
It was exactly that instant that I fell asleep.
It was exactly the next instant that I was awakened for the third time that night—not by a small sound, but by a rather unnecessarily hard smack to my head.
A/N: Haha…originally, it also wasn't going to end this way. It was going to have a more serious, touching ending, but...well, obviously something else happened. Good ol' Sain. (And as to the line about Kent's "panic attacks"? I wasn't referring to the real disorder, where one is subject to spontaneous fits of…well, total and irrational panic—I was talking about what happens when a person gets very, very stressed out and then just freaks. Kent is frazzled a lot, so I'd assume that he spazzes a lot as well…in private, of course.)
About the title…YES, that's a Man of La Mancha reference. Not only because that song is one of my favorite songs ever and is constantly stuck in my head, but also because…they're all such knights. Don Quixote is a hopeless romantic, just like Sain, but he also obsesses about the laws of chivalry—just like Kent.
This was a bit of a challenge to write since it took place in the dark and Sain wouldn't have been able to see much…so I hope I got the image across without being able to use much imagery. I also hope I kept it true to the characters. Any and all feedback would be greatly appreciated…and thanks so much for reading!