The Flavor of Rivalry

by taitofan

Rated PG-13 for yaoi

Disclaimer: If I owned Star Ocean 3, Melt and Lezard would have been mandatory PCs with a obligatory romantic ending. Obviously, that didn't happen, so it's not mine.

Author's notes: I know if I want reviews I need to write for popular couples like AlbelxFayt, but frankly I'd rather write couples I like, and I obviously like my OTP! So though I don't expect a lot of reviews, it'd be nice if you left one! Anyway, this takes place about a year after the game ends, thus why the boys are thirteen instead of twelve. I played around with the layout of the houses, because, well, I can. Just little changes though, I promise. The same liberties I've take with the characters based on little hints are all still here too. And the book I mention? Lezard really has that book. You can see it if you check the bookshelf in his and Lucien's room.

Flames do nothing but make me laugh, although I'll listen to any CC you have. Please read, review, and enjoy! Finished 11-23-08

Melt didn't condone violence; in fact, he was a bit of a pacifist. While Roger and Lucien would have their Real Man Contests and Dribe and Vellion would complain about it being too dangerous, he would sit off to the side, willing the gods to keep Roger safe from harm. He wasn't the only one who preferred the sidelines either—Lezard did too. …Of course, he wanted to watch his puppets dance rather then make sure his older brother stayed safe, but the fact remained that he still did it. The problem was, Melt often times found Lezard watching him instead of the current contest, whatever it may be.

He and the other boy had an unspoken rivalry, being Surferio's Astromancer and Alchemist respectively. He knew that if they ever got past their differences, they could make quite the formidable team. He'd been born with skills inherited from a powerful clan, plus he'd trained under Louise the Diviner for three years—from when his parents died to when Roger's friends had bought her off to move to Kirsla a few months back. Lezard had neither ancient blood nor formal training—though rumors spread that Ansala had his eye on him as an apprentice—but he still had an innate talent for alchemy that put his skill level above almost every other alchemist on all of Gaitt.

Two of the best on the continent in their respective fields and they were both thirteen-year-old humanoids living in little Surferio. Sometimes fate amused him.

It didn't seem likely that the two of them would ever become friends though. They'd all played together when they were small—Roger, Dribe, himself, Lucien, Lezard, and Vellion. About the time they were seven and Lucien was eight though, the Real Man Contests had started and they'd split off into two groups. That was around the time Lezard had silently started to challenge him, just as his brother was doing to Roger. It was a challenge of a different nature though—who could help their protégé the most without being caught. Lezard was an excellent spy, added to his alchemy skill, but Melt could see things others couldn't…and his broom wasn't just for show. Roger and Lucien would never know how much outside help they got in their contests, but Lezard and Melt were perfectly aware of the other's influence.

That was why Melt was currently on his way to Lezard's house. The planks that suspended above the water groaned quietly under the weight of his boots as he slowly walked along, enjoying the slight breeze cutting though the warm air. He was counting his blessings that he was able to walk at all—the day before, he'd gotten caught in a trap meant for himself and Dribe while they were out watching over one of Roger's "private" contests. The trap had gotten hold of the tip of his boot, and if he hadn't twisted around and grabbed hold of Dribe to free himself, it likely would have broken the flimsy tree it was attached to, and he'd have a broken limb from the fall.

It was ridiculous! They all knew that no matter what the terms of the contest, Lezard and Vellion followed Lucien, while he and Dribe followed Roger. So why did the other boy insist on making his life miserable when they were all guilty? And why him in particular? Every trap was made to cater to his specific proportions, only large enough to catch Dribe if he was present as well. They were brilliantly made, though sometimes poorly executed, showing that Lezard did have the makings of the genius he claimed to be, if only he'd stop being blinded by whatever ill-willed feelings he bore. He honestly didn't know why Lezard hated him so much…but he was going to find out.

…Right now in fact.

He knocked on the door sharply, hoping one of their parents would be home from work early, as it was doubtful he'd get through the door peacefully if Lezard or Lucien opened up. But as the door creaked open a few seconds later, it seemed luck was not on his side—he was met with an obviously irritated Lucien.

"Whaddayah want? And make it quick." Oh no, this wasn't looking like it would be easy at all…

"Good morning Lucien. Is Lezard in?" The older boy frowned and opened his mouth, only to pause and smirk rather deviously. Ah, luck was on his side after all! Sibling rivalry had just made his life easier.

"Lezard, eh? Yeah, he's in… Dunno why ya wanna see him, but whatever. He's in the kitchen… Right this way." As Melt stepped passed Lucien into the house, he couldn't help but wonder what Lezard was doing in the kitchen that could be that embarrassing. But it had to be something, or else Lucien would never be so agreeable. "Right through that door… Oh, and, if ya wanna laugh at him, feel free." …Oh yes, something embarrassing indeed.

"Thank you," Melt said with a slight bow before headed through the doorway to the kitchen, Lucien's somewhat-evil chuckle meeting his ears. He was horribly curious at this point… Though, luckily, it didn't take him long to find out what he might potentially want to laugh about.

Lezard stood at the counter, his back to Melt. He was humming an unrecognizable tune, and his tail swished in time with the melody. For once, he wasn't wearing his dark green cloak, allowing Melt a good look at his lithe body and his short brunet hair. And he…he appeared to be cooking something. Just what he couldn't tell. How…odd. Melt didn't know he could cook…

"…Lezard?" The humming instantly stopped, and the once moving tail bristled. Slowly—perhaps hoping he was hearing things?—he turned around, his lips twisting into a frown at the sight of his visitor. Melt might have thought he wasn't flustered at the interruption if it weren't for the fact that his face was flushed ever so slightly. How interesting…

"Ah, the silent one comes calling. Here about your little mishap yesterday I presume?" Melt had to hand to him; he was handling this well. …A bit too well for what happened the day before. He couldn't let him get away with that…

"I'd always assumed you bought the donuts for Vellion, but I can see I was mistaken…" Lezard's blush deepened a bit, and Melt allowed himself a moment of personal satisfaction. No matter how much of an evil genius Lezard pretended to be, they really were still just kids, and times like these were refreshing.

"W-what makes you think I'm baking donuts?" Oh, now, this was just sad. Did Lezard really think he was an idiot? Rolling his eyes, he pointed to a book on the table. The heading read 'Honey Glazed Chocolate Donuts' in large bold font. Lezard's ears twitched nervously as Melt picked up the book and read the title: One Hundred Selected Dinners.

"…A recipe in the dessert section of a cookbook is a good indication." There wasn't much he could say to that, so snatched the book back and quickly turned his back to Melt once again.

"So what if I make them myself? Do you have a problem with that, o' silent one?" Melt's high collar hid his smile as he shook his head. He calmly walked closer until he could lean his back against the counter, only a few feet away from Lezard—in perfect view of his baking.

"Of course not. It's not my place to say how you spend your free time. I just never took you for the domestic type." Lezard ignored the jab at his masculinity as he went back to mixing ingredients in a large bowl. Melt was far from done though. "Why, you'll make an excellent housewife someday."

"Watch it!" Lezard exclaimed, banging the wooden spoon down on the counter and spinning to face Melt. He might have looked a bit intimidating, if it weren't for the chocolate batter that had just splattered on his cheek. As it was, he just looked rather…well, Melt didn't have time to think about that at the moment, because Lezard was moving in. "You think you're so clever, don't you? If you honestly see and know everything like you claim to, then you'd realize how ridiculous you sound! Me, a housewife, honestly…"

…That batter was far too distracting—it really was—especially now that Lezard was only about half a foot away. Melt reached out swiftly and before the other boy could react…

"H-hey! What are you doing?!" Melt smiled as he gently rubbed the chocolate goop off Lezard's face, enjoying the sight of his eyes widening behind his thick glasses. Seeing him anything less than utterly composed was quite a rarity, so Melt readily admitted to liking the sight. In fact, he now wondered exactly how far he could take this… He removed his thumb, letting it linger in Lezard's line of vision for a few moments before he gave the batter a small lick. It wasn't bad… Deciding he liked it, he stuck his thumb in his mouth up to the knuckle and began sucking off the chocolate.

Lezard's reaction was even more amusing now—his face was flushed, his mouth was agape, his ears and tail twitched violently… And all the while, Melt sucked languidly upon his thumb, watching his rival with hooded eyes. So, that was it… Suddenly, he knew exactly why Lezard was always targeting him. It made perfect sense. He slowly pulled his thumb out, and then ran the saliva-slicked digit across the heated flesh of Lezard's cheek, chuckling softly as the cat-boy's breathing hitched.

"You know Lezard," he said softly, "we're teenagers now. If you want my attention, there are better ways to get it then by harassing me. Just think about it." And with that, he abruptly stepped away and headed out of the room, leaving his flustered rival behind. As he left the house and walked home, he could only wonder what chain of events he'd started…

He just couldn't believe it had taken him so long to figure it out.

Melt was home for an hour, seventeen minutes, and twenty-nine seconds—not that he'd been counting of course—before there was a knock on his door. He put down the book he'd been reading and went to answer it, hoping beyond all hope that it was who he hoped it was…

"Hello Lezard. Fancy seeing you here." …And he was right. The cat-boy stood before him, still out of his robe and now matching Melt who'd removed his helmet and poncho, holding a small bag in his hands.

"…Here." The short sentence, which was his forte and not at all typical of Lezard and his love of elaborate speeches, was almost as surprising as the bag being shoved in his hands. Curious, Melt opened it and smiled.

"I thought that these were for Vellion?" Lezard shrugged half-heartedly, not meeting Melt's gaze. They stood in silence for a few moments before Lezard turned to leave, a thing which Melt wasn't about to let happen. "Wait a moment, why don't you come in? I believe we have quite a bit to discuss." Lezard stopped at the request, and without a word, he turned back around and quickly walked past his rival into the small house.

It had been a while since he'd been there, Melt noted. Not since they'd split off into gangs, back before his parents had passed away. He supposed that living alone did have a few advantages… He didn't know if the conversation he was about to inevitably have would be happening if his parents or Louise were still around.

"Why were you at my house earlier?" Melt was snapped from his memories at the question. He placed the bag with the donuts on the table and sat down, gesturing for Lezard to do the same before they continued. He complied, and Melt thought about how to answer to get to the point as soon as possible…

"I came to ask why you were constantly trying to harm me. I thought that perhaps you'd grown to hate me, though I can now see that it was quite the opposite, isn't it?" When Lezard didn't answer, he continued on. "You know, I was being serious when I told you there are better ways to get my attention, and ignoring me isn't one of them either. If you want to tell me something, you should simply say it."

Still, Lezard was silent. How odd… Melt didn't think he'd ever seen the other boy so quiet unless he was plotting something… However, his aura didn't seem at all threatening. Confused maybe… It was slightly unnerving, to be honest.

"All right, if you really don't want to… Perhaps you'll be so inclined to answer another question then. What were you and Lucien fighting about this time?" Just as Melt had hoped, the temporary change of subject—because Sorion knew the other boy wasn't leaving before he got his answers—did the trick. A small smirk formed on Lezard's face as he thought back.

"My excitable brother didn't want to admit that I was right about his infatuation with your little fox friend. Honestly, I don't know who he thinks he's fooling. It's so obvious." And there was the cocky, self-assured Lezard that Melt had come to know.

"Does he now? How interesting… I believe the sentiment is returned." Lezard nodded knowingly; it was rather obvious that Lucien and Dribe were both quite smitten with each other, though neither would admit it. After all, when Dribe started accidentally cheering for Lucien during Real Man Contests and Lucien couldn't concentrate after hearing him, well… It really didn't need to be admitted aloud.

"And yet he insists on hiding the truth... Sometimes I wonder how we could ever be related!" Melt couldn't stop the smile that formed on his lips at the statement—a smile that didn't go unnoticed. "What's so amusing?"

"Interesting words… You seem to be hiding your own affections as well after all." Melt was too far away to see behind those thick glasses this time, but he was positive he was getting Lezard to widen his eyes in shock for a second time that day. It must be a new record.

"I-I… I don't know what you're talking about! Surely you don't mean to suggest I might harbor a fondness for you. Dream on! You're just my rival—nothing more, nothing less." Of course, Melt didn't believe that for a second. He'd seen Lezard's response earlier, and looking back on their past interactions, it all made perfect sense. It also proved that Lucien and Lezard were certainly related, seeing as neither knew when to just admit the obvious and save themselves the hassle…

If he knew one thing about his rival after all those years, it was that getting him to admit to something he was being stubborn about was next to impossible. No, he needed to catch him in something so concrete that there was no room left for arguments… And he knew just the trick.

Getting up from his seat, he slowly walked towards Lezard. The younger boy's eyes never once left him as he came closer and closer, until Melt was directly before him. He then leaned down until their noses were almost touching. Just a few more centimeters and a tilt of the head and…

"Just your rival," Melt murmured, bringing a hand up to stroke the same cheek he'd teased with his thumb earlier. "If that is true, then tell me right now to leave your personal space, and I'll never bring up the subject again. Otherwise, I suggest you tell me the truth or you'll never get what you want."

Lezard said nothing at first, but his breath was shallow, and Melt could hear his heartbeat. Or was that his own? They were so close he couldn't tell.

"I… I want…"

"Yes?" Lezard hesitantly reached out and gently pushed Melt's long hair away from his face, allowing him to look directly into those bright yellow eyes.

"I want you to quit teasing and kiss me already." Melt chuckled at the quiet words but didn't see how he could refuse…after all, he'd wanted this for a while too.

Melt lowered himself until he was seated in Lezard's lap and then slowly brought their lips together in their first kiss. It was soft and sweet, and it was over very shortly. Lezard's arms then went around Melt's waist, pulling him a bit closer. In return, Melt wrapped one arm around Lezard's shoulder, and the other tilted his face up. With the new angle, he moved in again, this time allowing his tongue to gently dart out.

Lezard tasted faintly of chocolate.

"Happy Birthday." The hands over Melt's eyes were removed, and he smiled at the sight on the table before him. A large chocolate cake, triple layered, coated with thick chocolate frosting, and the words Happy Birthday Melt written in neat cursive with yellow icing. Melt had always been fond of chocolate, and the very thought of who would be eating this with him made him excited for the others ways he'd eventually end up tasting it.

"Thank you, it looks delectable. …Why are you an alchemist again?" Lezard chuckled and led him to the table, where he began cutting the cake.

"Ever since Vellion moved away I don't get the chance to cook these sorts of foods very often. Besides, there are enough cooks in the world. I can't let those silly compounders take over the alchemists, can I?" The tone was teasing, and Melt responded by sticking his tongue out.

It was funny—at sixteen, they acted more like kids than when they were really children. Now Melt had just turned seventeen, and Lezard would too in four months, but… Being with Lezard made him feel so young, so carefree… Being lovers and rivals was much better than only being one.

"I know Roger is still in Airyglyph and won't be back for a few more days, but will Lucien and Dribe be coming over?" Lezard's smirk was enough of an answer. "…Or did you send them away?"

"Well, perhaps I convinced my excitable brother to take his boyfriend on a date in Peterny today… Don't worry, they'll all have a party for you when that goofball gets back anyway. Today though, you're all mine."

Melt couldn't even begin to reprimand him for being sneaky, not when he wasn't really upset about it. The whole day with Lezard, just the two of them with no interruptions… It was shaping up to be the best birthday of his life.

"All yours… I have no problem with that. Did you bring me a present?" The younger boy smirked as he pulled a bag out of the pocket of his robe and set it on the table beside the cake.

"Will this suffice until your party?" Melt smiled before taking a bite of his cake. Delicious, as he knew it would be.

"Yes, this will do nicely."

That night they put the leftover frosting to good use.