Title: Crowd Pleaser
Author: Traxits
Fandom: Star Ocean 2
Pairing: Established Dias Flac/Ashton Anchors.
Rating: PG-13 (Teen).
Content Notes: Kissing.
Word Count: 1288 words.
Prompt: Dias watches Ashton go through his sword forms.
Teaser: He was settled in for the long haul today; he'd keep doing them until he either couldn't lift the swords or one of their companions stopped him. Dias knew that because Ashton had stripped off his robe, peeled off his boots. Everything was folded neatly near the gate to the park.

[[ ... One Shot ... ]]

Some days, it didn't seem real. Dias wasn't certain he really grasped the concept of how Expel, how their whole planet had been wiped away, shattered upon its collision with Energy Nede. How could something as large and solid as the very earth that he'd walked on his whole life just be gone? He sighed, tightening his grip on the sword at his side. He didn't like this, didn't like waiting. Rena was looking for answers to questions that he hadn't even realized that she had, and all Dias could do was pace. He stood there a moment more, tried to steel his nerves, tried to reason with himself that this caged up feeling was uncalled for. But honestly, no matter how much he told himself that, it didn't help; didn't make the feeling go away.

Unable to bear it any longer, he stalked out of the room, ignoring Noel's quiet little, "H-hey! Where-"

Down three flights of stairs, and he pushed past Claude and Celine, who exchanged a look but didn't dare try to stop him. He was volatile at best during this sort of thing, and they all knew it. For one reason or another, the thought both comforted and enraged him. He stepped into the street, and for a heartbeat, he was overwhelmed, the noise and the closeness of the city pressing down on him, smothering him. There was no gentle breeze in Centropolis, no real movement of any kind except for the people pushing by and bustling to go about their carefully designed lives. He coughed, put an arm over his mouth, and squeezed the hilt of his sword a little more tightly, despite the fact that it served him no good here. There was no determinable enemy, nothing for him to lash out at.

Then a flash of movement to his right caught his attention, and he glanced over at it. Ashton. The faintest of smiles crossed his face, and he pushed through the crowd rapidly gathering around the park fence. Ashton was standing on the only grass in the whole city, both short swords drawn and in front of him. The weapons were what had attracted the crowd, Dias realized, or what must have started it. Nedians weren't allowed weapons in public, and it had been a lot of paperwork for the Expellians to be allowed to keep theirs. The fact that they were set on destroying the Ten Wise Men had helped, of course.

Dias made it to the fence, and he watched as Ashton went through his warm ups. It wasn't the first time he'd done it- Dias could see the sweat on his face, could tell that his shirt was wet with it- but Ashton was meticulous. He did his forms in their complete set, from warm ups to cool downs, even if he was doing them multiple times. He was settled in for the long haul today; he'd keep doing them until he either couldn't lift the swords or one of their companions stopped him. Dias knew that because Ashton had stripped off his robe, peeled off his boots. Everything was folded neatly near the gate to the park.

The swords were held down at Ashton's sides, tips pointed back, and both dragons were leaning forward, having long since learned that this position was Ashton's 'ready' position. It was from this one that he would make his decision: retreat, advance, or attack. Now, he leaned forward, the swords pushed back just a little more behind him, and the dragons shifted their weight to aid in his balance. His run was practiced, careful enough to work on most terrains, fast enough to actually let him traverse the battlefield.

He slid to a stop, bringing the blades up in a silver cross before him. Guard position. Dias knew from experience that the guard Ashton used was quite difficult to break through. The way the younger swordsman fought, it was hell just getting an attack that Ashton didn't sidestep or deflect. Actually hitting one of Ashton's guard positions was a tribute to the enemy's skill, and the next challenge was breaking the guard. In combat, Ashton would swing both blades away at once, sending the enemy's sword flying to the side, open for a fresh attack.

For just a moment more, Dias watched, and then he hoisted himself over the fence, kneeling to unlace his boots. Cloak was dropped carelessly to the ground over them, and Dias used his thumb to release his sword, just enough that he could draw it when he was ready to attack. He rubbed one of his feet on the grass, savoring the cool sensation of it, the itchy feel of the short pieces rubbing the bottom of his foot. Then he looked up, and assumed his own ready position, drawing a deep breath.

Ashton swung both blades around, the next step in his sword forms, and he stilled for just a moment at the sight of Dias. A low murmur raced through the crowd, but Dias ignored it in favor of studying the smile that crossed Ashton's face. Crests lit up under Ashton's skin, normally hidden under his robes, and for a heartbeat, they were both perfectly still, the only sound between them Ashton's heavy breathing.

The attack came quickly, as it always did. Both blades a flash of brilliant silver, glinting Energy Nede's unnatural light back into an artificial sky. Dias deflected the attack with his own sword, using the flat of the blade to send both of Ashton's daggers to the side. His hand tightened on the hilt of the weapon, and he swung it down. Ashton leaped back lightly, his smile widened a touch before they began to spar in earnest.

The crowd had no favorite, no way of judging what was impressive, and after a few more swings from each of them, Dias realized that, unwittingly, both swordsmen were beginning to fight for the crowd. They responded to flashy, no matter how impractical, without the judgmental reserve of an Expellian, who would have recognized that neither man was really in the fight. Both Ashton and Dias were simply trading points, yielding and advancing in a pattern that they fell into without thinking about it.

It wasn't until Rena came storming out of the inn, her hands on her hips, shouting for them to stop it that Dias saw that the crowd they had managed attract was massive, barely able to fit in the tight square between the inn and the park. He and Ashton dropped into their 'ready' positions once more, each glaring at Rena. There was no real way for her to do anything, trapped on the other side of the Nedians as she was, but she could make the rest of their trip difficult, to say the least. Dias hesitated, then let his hand fall off of the hilt of the sword. Ashton nodded, sheathing both of his short swords obediently, despite the fact that he waited until Dias had yielded to Rena's demands first.

"Maybe we can finish this later?" Ashton asked lowly, arching an eyebrow as he moved over to find his shoes and robe.

Dias reached out and wrapped an arm around Ashton for just a moment. He imagined he could hear Rena's squeak of disapproval- "Really, Dias. In public?"- and he was reward with Ashton's immediate compliance. The younger man tilted his head up almost instinctively, and both dragons just made a little sighing noise as Dias kissed him, much to the crowd's apparent delight. Nothing was better than 'rivals' who were actually a couple, he supposed, and it wasn't until the flashing of a camera that he released Ashton.

"Later," he agreed lowly.