Series: Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
Character/Pairing: Matthew/Rief, with hints to growing Tyrell/Karis
Summary: The human condition is a conundrum and Rief finds Matthew's overprotective behavior perplexing.
Author's note: GS kink meme two, Matthew/Rief fluff dealing with overprotectiveness. Dude, does this mean I'm not the only one who likes this pairing?
His staff was raised in the light of Ply. Blue light glowed as it surrounded Matthew, glistening white around him. It was a warm blanket, a cocoon, wrapped about Matthew. Moments later, as if in tandem, there was the light of a well aimed Cure Well.
Tyrell swiped his axe, finishing off the wolf creatures who had been ready to spring, their gaping maws dripping with saliva and wishing to gnaw on their bones.
"You two have issues," Karis declared, her arms crossed. "It's like all you did in battle was heal each other. Hello, multiple healing here? I could've used Shine Plasma if I knew you guys were going to take care of each other."
Rief shifted from one foot to the other. "Apologies. The Mercury clan doesn't read minds. Though it would be fascinating..."
"It's overrated, to be honest," Karis said. "Especially when you accidentally read something about yourself."
She gave a pointed look at Tyrell, but he failed to notice, as usual.
"I think I was the only one attacking, here," Tyrell said. He drew his boot over the ground where the monsters had been before. Flecks of gold mica from the stones greeted him. "I think I gotta second that issues stuff."
Matthew rolled his eyes skyward.
Rief pushed his glasses up. "I believe this is a perfect example of the idiom 'like the pot calling the kettle black'.
"What do you mean? We don't look like kitchenware at all!" Tyrell said.
Rief and Matthew just stared at him. Tyrell stared back, missing the point entirely.
"You're such an idiot," Karis sighed. She stomped off, and they followed at a slight distance. It was always a good idea to keep out of the range of her staff when Tyrell had put her into such a state.
Rief had evacuated to the nearest library upon coming to the town. Libraries had that effect on him, and Kraden as well. Nowell was less enamored of them, perhaps because her teacher and brother would talk endlessly of facts and figures all the way back, or go and be lost in their own little worlds.
Rief wasn't quite as clumsy as others made him out to be. Sure, he had tripped once or twice while reading and walking (his sister was always reprimanding him for that particular issue – Kraden never had, for he did the same thing) but he could walk without tripping, and he could battle without getting knocked out. Lately, Matthew didn't seem to see this, however. Rief was a bit perturbed by this, truth be told. He knew the bonds between the trio were tight, and he was in essence, an outsider who had come with a shaky start, but he thought he would have surely proved himself by now. However, Matthew was still treating him like glass. From his habit of killing the monsters just as they were striking, even taking damage himself, to healing him even when Karis could do the job. Once, he'd even dove in the way and taken the blow for Rief.
However, fighting with the leader would only lead to stress and hardship. So, as always, he lost himself in books. His mother had confessed that whenever hardships or the group drove her crazy, she thought of a calming place. Rief had assumed that it would involve waterfalls and mountain streams, but was surprised – and perhaps a little alarmed – to find her calming place involved brutal mediums of torture to whatever was the problem of the moment.
As for Rief's calming place, inside or out, it was a library. Whenever his sister, or the group got to him, he would close his eyes and breathe in deep, imagining the slightly musty scent of the opened books. The place would be all quiet, with dust motes in the air, through the filtered light of the small windows.
This library was almost a perfect facsimile to the library of his mind which he meditated upon. He stepped languidly through, and ran his fingers over the gilded titles as he went. He settled in the middle of the room, curled in a corner with his nose in a book, when he heard the voices rising. He looked up from over his Gathered Histories of Weyard.
He caught sight of Matthew coming across the corner. They nodded at each other, an unspoken greeting.
"There you are," Matthew said.
"As you see, I'm quite easy to locate," Rief said goodnaturedly. He winced slightly as the squabbling reached a fever pitch.
"Bickering again," Rief said with a smile, looking over his book.
"Always," Matthew said.
Matthew didn't talk very often, but then, it seemed as if with two people as noisy as Karis and Tyrell, he would be drowned out. Rief thought it was deeper, though. Matthew was a deep thinker. Hadn't his mother and Kraden said as much about Isaac?
"This'll be the third library we've been kicked out of on this continent alone," Rief said casually.
Matthew and Rief looked on as the commotion drew to its close, hearing the shouts fading, and then ceasing altogether.
"Leave it to Tyrell to make a scene."
"Yes, he's quite something," Rief said with a smile.
Matthew pursed his lips for a moment. "You know...when he was younger, he said he'd marry Karis. He'd deny it now, but I think the affection is still there, under it all."
"Is that so?" Rief said. The statement itself was innocuous, but he could've sworn this was a warning, telling him to turn back. Matthew was hard to read by his nature, given to silences and enigmatic reasoning, and yet, was that a hint of jealousy? If so, then of whom? Of the trio, keeping their bonds intact with Rief as the outsider – or was his jealousy deeper, revolving around Karis herself?
It would take some pondering to figure out this conundrum. People weren't easy to read, unlike texts you couldn't just extract the information and file it away. They had nuances and unseen motivations, even contradictory at times. Karis and Tyrell were easier to understand, but Matthew was more complex. His thoughts were often drawn to Matthew, picking apart his puzzles. Did he at time, admire Matthew, or give Matthew more attention than was due for a mere studious glance? Perhaps he had lingered too long in his gaze, thought too often of purple irises, the downward slope of a determined expression, and attributed facts to it, as an afterthought, as an excuse.
"Good for them," Rief said finally, bridging the silence between them. Not that he minded silence. His sister had a habit of filling every space of quiet, with whistling or humming until he wanted to throw the tomes at her and possibly a few well-aimed spikes of ice.
Matthew turned in profile, and Rief noticed a flush over his neck, his ears.
He had discounted himself in the equation, as he was the outsider, to say nothing of his gender. Matthew cleared his throat, and brought his gloved hand to his mouth, as if concealing a cough.
Putting it together, he remembered moments of shared foods, shared blankets, or that Matthew had seemed to seek out his company or advice. He had thought nothing of it at the time, but now he reconsidered. When Matthew looked to him, his pupils were dilated just so, the tell-tale sign of attraction – or intoxication via various opiates, but he was fairly certain it wasn't the latter.
Nothing was as profound as he found that moment of knowing, of discovering just the fact he needed. And now, he knew the steps to take, if not the words to say.
"I see," he said. "Yes, I see now..."
"Eh?" Matthew began, looking perplexed. Any further questions were cut off when Rief pulled on Matthew's scarf, and brought him down to level for a kiss. Rief had never kissed before – chances at romance weren't exactly springing forth when traveling with his sister and aged teacher. It took a few moments for Matthew to respond, but Rief did not give up immediately. After all, this was the scientific process. One could never figure alchemy with simply one test, and affairs of the heart was the same. Matthew's fingers stroked his cheek, and it was a very pleasant feeling.
The flush deepened over Matthew's face. He rubbed at it, looking back in Rief in bewilderment and wonder as their lips parted. It was pleasant, perhaps not world-shaking, but it did make his heart race admirably. Matthew's lips were chapped, which made the experience slightly rough, yet it had a surprisingly arousing, if not somewhat clumsy.
"I accept your feelings," Rief said. Hmm. That sounded much more dry than the sorts of things that happened in the romance novels Nowell adored. He had only peeked once, for the sake of scientific research. Truthfully, he found them banal, but the idea of a kiss as a sealing of a contract between two people was a good one. It cut through the superfluous, got to the rawest inner meanings, beyond the stuttered words and sweaty palms that the romance novels so conveniently left out. He pressed a finger to Matthew's lips, and gave him a meaningful look.
"However, if you try to coddle me anymore, I'll smack you up the side of the head with my staff."
"Not even a little?" Matthew asked, with a smile.
"A little is acceptable. Of what sorts and means can be discussed at length later. As for now, I must request more time for research before we leave."
"Of course," Matthew said. "As long as you need."
"Good. If you will, help me check the books over there. I believe I need to reacquaint myself with the study of human sexuality. I of course, was familiarized in the basics of human copulation, but I never did go farther than that. I'm still not entirely sure what two men would do together, to be honest."
Matthew's ears and neck were quite red, as if he'd been severely burned. "Isn't that a bit...soon?"
Rief pushed up his glasses, and grinned, a bit mischievously. "It has always been my motto that there is no such thing as too much preparation."