(BIG spoiler here for Suikoden II - in fact, my surprise at what happened in that incredibly touching scene in Rockaxe is what prompted me to turn the game off and write this down immediately. ...Well, that and the fact that my Viktor muse never shuts up until I write down whatever he's throwing at me.
As per usual with Suikoden fics: I named the hero "Genki", I named the army after his and Jowy's slaughtered brigade from the beginning of the game, and those are the names I'm sticking with. And yes, I know what happens if you get all 108 stars, but this fic was a knee-jerk reaction sort of thing.)

When Light Fails

Flik hadn't moved from his spot at the front of the balcony, but Viktor didn't hesitate for a moment before walking out into the moonlight himself. He knew his friend had heard his footsteps echoing through the hallway inside - they both were trained to hear that sort of thing, after all - and having known each other so long, each knew the sound of the other's footfalls by heart. If Flik didn't want him there, he would have said so before Viktor had even stepped out into the open air. "Hey."

"Hey," Flik responded half-heartedly, leaning upon the railing as Viktor made his way around the recently-carved statue at the center of the balcony to stand at his side. "...Sorry about earlier."

"No need to apologize to me," Viktor said with a shrug. "I think Doc Huan understands too. Not so much as I do, I guess, but still... I bet he knows you didn't mean anything."

"Yeah, he's been doing this for awhile now, and I'm sure I'm not the first who's blown up at him over something like this." Flik sighed. "How's Genki?"

Viktor paused a long time before answering. "Sleeping, I hope. But what about you? You okay?"

"Sure." Flik gave a slight shrug of his own.

His eyes still studying the land around the castle, Flik had little expression on his face, but Viktor had known him for years, and he knew better. "Don't give me that. You were really pissed off earlier... kinda reminds me of another time you were really pissed off." Flik still didn't respond, and finally Viktor nudged him, holding up the flask he'd brought. "Want a drink?"

Flik glanced at it, then shrugged again as he took it. "Thanks." He coughed a little as he swallowed; Viktor knew Flik didn't usually go for the hard liquor, but after what had happened, it seemed like that kind of a night. Passing the flask back to Viktor, Flik turned away again, and it was a long time before he finally spoke. "Kids aren't supposed to die like that."

Viktor took a long drink from the flask as well. "Especially not girls, huh?"

"...Yeah." Looking down over the forest beyond the castle walls, Flik sighed deeply. "You know, when Odessa died, you gave me that whole speech about how it was war, and these things happened during a war, especially when you'd set yourself up as a danger to the ruling monarchy, but... this is different."

"Very," Viktor agreed, completely serious for once. "Even after that whole speech in the hall this morning... everyone said they were ready to die for him... like Kiba. Genki could deal with that just fine, and so can we, because Kiba was a soldier, and we all know that the sacrifice was a willing one." Even Klaus had accepted it more easily than the army's other loss, he thought in frustration - and Kiba was his own father. "But you know," he muttered as an afterthought, "Nanami saying she was ready to die for him, that didn't mean anything to him. He knew she'd fight with him to the end, she was his big sister and all, adopted or not." Viktor hesitated, then took another long drink. "And you know, it's different with family than with friends or lovers. You get to thinking they're invincible - since they've always been there, they always will be."

"That's something I wouldn't know, I guess," Flik admitted. As the night fell silent again, without even the usual noises of victory celebrations drifting up from below, Flik glanced hesitantly at his unusually solemn friend. "...Sounds like I'm not the only one who has a flood of memories rushing back tonight."

"Nope." Viktor's stoic expression didn't change in the slightest. "But no need to worry about me - you know I'm always fine."

"Or so you say," Flik muttered. "I couldn't help but noticing that you've been drinking even more than usual since you came back from Tinto."

"Heh, so I have," Viktor conceded with a dry chuckle, passing the flask back to Flik. "Not too much though - we still have a war to fight here."

Flik knew exactly what had been troubling him, of course, and got straight to the point. "...Viktor... what do you think you'll do when the war's over?"

"Me? Oh, I dunno..." Viktor mused. "Can't really go home, can I? I guess I'll just have to find something else to do with my life. Hey, maybe another war will pop up somewhere, you think?"

Flik glanced at him again, mildly disturbed by the casual, almost eager question. "...What, do you enjoy war?"

"No, but it exists - no reason to think this will be the last. And at least they give me something to do other than sit in a tavern somewhere and drink every night, right?"

"Right... but after tonight, I feel more than ever that war is a bad idea."

Viktor turned, leaning back against the balcony's railing with his arms crossed, and was confronted by the stone visage of a boy - just a little boy who had become a symbol of hope and freedom to thousands upon thousands of people. The statue portrayed him standing strong, face defiant and unafraid, and Viktor smirked humorlessly. He'd seen that face terrified and confused only a few minutes before, as he sent the leader of the Unicorn Army off to bed. "...I've been thinking... setting the kid up as the leader of this whole thing probably wasn't the best idea either."

"It wasn't like you did it yourself," Flik pointed out. "We all agreed. And you have to admit, he's done an excellent job so far..."

"So far, yeah, but... I talked to him for awhile earlier, on the way back from Rockaxe," Viktor muttered. It hadn't been his ideal way of spending the afternoon after a battle such as that, but someone had to find out what exactly had happened, and he was damned if he was going to let that cold strategist talk to the kid; he knew how things were probably going to turn out, and from the look on Genki's face, so did he. "Even if Nanami had survived, that mission just about crushed him. He'd pretty much accepted, even if reluctantly, that he was going to have to fight Jowy at some point - Jowy'd changed, he wasn't his old friend anymore. When he saw Jowy up there, he was all ready to fight... when that bastard Gorudo showed up. Instead of fighting each other, they ended up fighting together, just like in the old days... and when Jowy knelt down over Nanami, he looked just the same as he used to, like nothing at all had happened."

Flik sighed, understanding what Viktor was getting at. "Damn... so do you think he'll take off?"

"Genki told me, honestly... he doesn't think he can fight Jowy after that." Viktor shook his head, forcing himself to look past the statue's fixed, determined gaze at the red flag waving on the roof beyond; after what he'd seen that evening, the statue just looked phony - a false god someone had dreamed up to give themselves hope. "We should have just insisted on one of us being in charge. Maybe we wouldn't be as inspiring as a kid, but at least we'd know the job would get done."

"Would it?" Flik asked honestly. "Because then one of us would probably end up fighting Jowy, and... like I said earlier, kids aren't supposed to die."

Viktor regarded him with mild surprise. "What, you'd chicken out too? You knocked 'em pretty good when they tried to escape from our fort."

"Well, yeah, but... that was just necessary force. If I had no qualms about killing a child, even if that child is the ruler of an oppressive kingdom... I'd be a really sick person." Flik peered at Viktor curiously, and Viktor averted his eyes, looking down at the flask in his hands as he unscrewed the cap again. "Are you saying you could do that?"

Viktor took another drink, stalling, before he answered. "That 'child' murdered Anabelle, remember?"

Flik found that he had nothing at all to say in response, and the two remained in silence, drinking into the late hours of the night.