His Last Gift

"So tell me about him."

Riesz eyed the Navarri thief, the merest trace suspicion seeping into her mind. It was the first thing he had said in hours. "Who?"

"Your brother."

Hawkeye fidgeted under her consistent gaze, but did not recant the question. "...why?"

"Or whoever." He shrugged with marked disinterest. Waving at the empty, antiquated road for emphasis, he added, "For conversation's sake."

Silence swallowed the words, with no trace of an answer forthcoming. Hawkeye watched the roadside, for the constant distraction of the foreign, intermingled flora.

"He's young. Too young to take the throne, although it falls to him... if he yet lives," Riesz murmured at length, more giving voice to her thoughts than making conversation. "He lacks discipline. That fault is mine – Rolante was ever safe, and he learned to love sweets and mischief over the burden of responsibility."

The thief chuckled in reply, lost in a joke of his own making. She tolerated it – barely – and he covered his mouth politely when he noticed her scowl.

"Sorry," he said, "Sounds familiar is all."

"There's not much to say," the Amazon ended curtly. "The tighter I try to rein him in, the further away he flies."

But that was how it was, Hawkeye reflected, still smiling lightly, The weight of Navarre, against the allure of wine, women and song. The memory of scrambling about the rocks, wreaking havoc only Eagle could fix was sharply replaced by the fight for his life that parted them. Eagle was the responsible one; it was Eagle that should have been here, instead of him. Aloud, he merely swore, "I'll help you find him."

The hint of suspicion returned to Riesz' eyes. Once marked, always wanted, was the saying; he asserted against it, "No, really – I promise. And I mean it, anything I can do, I will."

Riesz sighed and set her jaw, snapping her gaze to the curve of the road ahead. Hawkeye guessed, rather than knew, that her reticence, in place of an outright rejection, meant that his offer was graciously... or at least, Riesz-ishly, accepted.

the end

Working Title: His Brother's Keeper

Inspiration: Yuletide Madness.

Noteworthy: I never made the brother connection before my Yuletide brainstorming. Silly, eh?

Disambiguation: Riesz is very much what I suspected Eagle to have been like, before his unfortunate accident.

Dedication: weighed and measured.

Derivative work of material © Squaresoft, Square-Enix. Originally written for Yuletide Madness 2008, under the pseudonym Sandlion and published by moonlight69 when Madness uploading was broken past Ovo's bedtime.