AN: When it comes to fanfiction, nothing annoys me more than the misconception that a pairing absolutely must be some torrid affair between the characters involved. Really. I hate that. Not all affection is romantic! It's perfectly fine for characters to interact, be close, and otherwise bond without their relationship (and the rest of the story) devolving into a series of love scenes.
The story you're about to read is an anthology of oneshots, each showcasing one of all the possible pairing combinations of the males in the party. Yep, you heard me. Two guys.
It's not yaoi. It's not at all romantic because, believe it or not, it's actually possible for two guys to enjoy each other's company and not be lovers.
This story just chronicles some plausible, mundane events that the party members might experience during their journey together. Experiences that help to strengthen the bonds of camaraderie between them. Cute, funny, semi-fluffy, and nothing else.
Desert nights are cold. Kratos leaned closer to the small campfire they'd built at dinner, marveling at how the miserable heat they had suffered in over the day dissipated almost as soon as the punishing sun set. It was something they could use to their advantage! With several days worth of travel across the desert still looming before them, traveling only at night could spare them from the harsh daytime temperatures. The cold would be a welcome change compared to- The slithery crunch of boots on loose sand caught Kratos' ear. Someone was coming. He stood, placing a hand on the hilt of his sword and carefully scanning the darkness where the sound originated from; relaxing only once he recognized the approaching figure.
"Lloyd." Kratos sat and waited for the younger swordsman to come fully into the firelight before continuing to speak. "What are you doing up so late? You should be trying to get as much rest as you can, especially after your run-in with the Desians today."
"Sorry, but I just can't fall asleep." Lloyd took a seat on the cool sand a few feet from Kratos and stared into the fire. "There's something that's been bugging me..."
"Is that so?" There was little that Kratos didn't know about troubled sleep. If Lloyd was having problems, perhaps he could be of assistance.
"It's something that dad said when I told him about your Exsphere. He told me 'Only Desians have Exspheres.' I've been thinking about that and it got me wondering... My Exsphere came from my mom. Where'd you get yours, Kratos?" Lloyd's eyes narrowed, an edge of suspicion creeping into his voice. Kratos just 'hmph'ed and poked the fire with a stick, shoving a few of the charred logs that had fallen over back into a respectable teepee shape.
"I assume you expect me to claim I took my Exsphere off the corpse of a Desian soldier. That, however, is not the case." He looked up from the fire to see Lloyd was still glaring at him with undisguised skepticism. "I obtained this Exsphere many, many years ago from a comrade of mine and it had preserved me ever since."
"Do you really expect me to believe that?"
"As it is the truth, yes I do." Finished with his fire-tending, Kratos planted the stick on end in the sand and leaned back, gazing up at the stars as he searched for the right words. This was going to be difficult, Lloyd could be such a bull-headed child... "I understand your suspicion, and it's right for you to be wary of me. The fact that you are shows a maturing mind." He paused, as if realizing something for the first time. "In hindsight, I suppose the way I appeared without warning at the Martel Temple was rather suspicious... But don't forget that if it was ever my intention to harm anyone in this party, I had a perfect opportunity to kill all of you then. Whether you think I'm a Desian agent or simply untrustworthy, the fact that you are still alive should be sufficient proof that I'm true to my word and am here to protect the Chosen."
Lloyd didn't reply immediately, silently judging what Kratos said, then flopped back onto the cool sand to watch the stars as well. Kratos had a point. If he really did want to kill Colette, it'd be a waste of his time and effort to chaperone her around the Seals. A Desian would have jumped at the first opportunity. Maybe Kratos really was telling the truth...
"So what was your friend like, the one who gave you your Exsphere?" The question caught Kratos off-guard and he found himself answering honestly.
"He was idealistic, devoted to his friends, and exceptionally stubborn. In fact, you remind me of him very strongly." Kratos paused, then sat forward, focusing on the fire once more. When Lloyd turned to look at him, he could tell the mercenary was remembering something painful. "At the end of our journey my comrades and I lost one of our own, our healer. She was a sweet girl." Lloyd shivered as thoughts of what it would be like to lose Raine or Genis or Colette squirmed into his head. "Guard your friends with you life, Lloyd. For now it's my duty to guard the Chosen, and I extend that protection to her companions as well, but once my work is done you will be the only defense they have, understand?"
"Yeah. You just watch, Kratos. I'll keep training until I'm even stronger than you. I swear, I'll never let anything hurt my friends!"
Kratos managed a faint smile, remembering how Mithos had once made practically the same speech when he was learning the basics of swordsmanship.
'I hope that's a vow you'll be able to keep, Lloyd.'
AN: Something I've been wondering, has Kratos ever once stargazed in-game? Practically every fanfic has him looking at the stars at one point or other, with or without Lloyd, but has he actually done that in canon? Hm...