The sound of two laughing voices split the air.
Onion Knight watched Bartz and Zidane tear through the countryside and did his best not to shake his head at them. It'd all begun with two magical words: Treasure Hunt. Cloud, Terra and himself had met up with the carefree duo - Onion Knight thought he was a thousand times more mature - and that grumpy guy, Squall, on their way back to Order's Sanctuary, crystals in tow. Then Zidane had to bring up the treasure hunt he had with Bartz and, oh, since they still had to battle Chaos' forces, wouldn't it be a good idea to scour the area for supplies? And treasure while they were at it?
Which lead to Onion Knight watching the two haphazardly run about - how did they expect to find anything like that? - out of the corner of his eye while the rest of the party walked towards Order's Sanctuary. He was starting to think 'scouring the area for supplies' was just an excuse for Bartz and Zidane to make a lot of noise and get rid of their excess energy. They did manage to find some treasure chests on occasion, and Onion Knight had to try hard not to obviously crane his neck to see what was inside.
It took a while for him to notice Terra watching him. Shoot. Had she wanted to say something all this time? He blamed his lack of concentration on those two distractions. Smoothing over his dismay, he turned his attention to Terra and asked, "Yes, Terra? Is something wrong?"
Smiling softly, she shook her head. "No, nothing's wrong. Just…" She trailed off. Onion Knight followed her gaze back to where Bartz was chasing after Zidane, who looked like he'd just stolen something from under the mime's nose. Terra looked back at Onion Knight. "Did you want to join them?"
The question threw him off so much that he didn't have an answer.
"You've been watching them all day," she continued in her quiet voice, a hand going to lightly touch the clasp of her cape. "And you were always so excited when we found treasure when it was just us travelling together."
He knew Terra hadn't intended for it, but he felt a stab of guilt at her words nevertheless. Yeah, he had been excited. The greatest thing about treasure chests was not knowing for sure what was inside until they were opened. They piqued his curiosity, and after opening the first one, he had an insatiable need to find another. But he'd been so preoccupied with finding treasure (and their crystals, couldn't forget those), he hadn't been paying enough attention to Terra, the person he was supposed to protect! And he knew what happened after, even if Terra couldn't remember. The fact it was his fault really put him off treasure hunting.
But his curiosity wasn't something he could just turn off whenever he wanted.
He wasn't about to abandon his duty as a knight, however, so he shook his head, covering his desire to join the treasure hunt. "I'm just keeping an eye on them so they don't get into trouble." She didn't look like she believed him, so he added for good measure, "Don't worry, Terra! I've got my other eye on you."
She hid a small giggle behind her hands.
Not quite the effect he was going for. But it seemed to distract her from her original line of questioning, so he didn't put up too much of a fuss. "What?"
Stifling the rest of her laughter, she smiled and said, "Thank you… for looking out for me all this time."
It was hard to suppress the swell of pride he felt at that, and he almost forgot all about the two Warriors of Cosmos looking for treasure.
When Tidus stumbled upon them, the levels of cheer amongst the group increased even further. Having the easy going blitzballer around only seemed to encourage the antics of Bartz and Zidane, both of whom immediately coerced Tidus into joining in on their 'supply' hunt. Onion Knight could see Tidus eagerly throwing himself into the terrible duo's little game as much as he would have liked to. But even though Tidus was probably the speediest of the three, Onion Knight could also see he took the hunt at a much more leisurely pace.
The party had made a fair amount of headway back to Order's Sanctuary, but it still wasn't enough to make travelling during the night worth it. They set up an impromptu camp, a small fire blazing in the centre of their little group. While it gave their position away, it was cold and all of them had arrived in these familiar yet foreign lands with merely the clothes on their back and the weapons they wielded. And with so many of them in the group, all with their crystals, it was going to take more than a few squabbling warriors of Chaos to cripple them. The fire was worth the risk it posed.
Onion Knight's gaze flickered to his travelling companions, but in particular, the treasure hunting trio. It was hard to believe that Bartz was one of the oldest in their group. He hoped he didn't end up like that when he grew up. Zidane wasn't much better, but at least he had the excuse of only being a few years older than Onion Knight. From where he was seated, he could see Zidane's tail twitch and curl around behind him. It honestly fascinated him - sometimes Zidane's tail seemed to have a life of its own - and he always wondered what it would be like to have a tail. When his gaze went over to Tidus, the blitzballer caught it and held. Oops. He didn't mean to get caught staring, but Tidus made a beckoning motion with a hand before walking a small distance away from the camp that he couldn't just pretend he didn't see.
His attention wandered to Terra by his side, reluctant to leave her to find out what Tidus wanted. It wasn't far though, so his curiosity won out. After a brief word with Terra - "I'm going to see what Tidus wants. …But I'll be here if you need me!" A smile and nod and a, "I'll be counting on you!" which he tried to hide his silly grin in response to - he followed after Tidus.
When Onion Knight drew near, Tidus threw a blue and white ball - a… blitzball, yeah, that's what he called it - at Onion Knight. He caught it out of pure reflex, but not without an accompanying "Oof!" as it thudded into his chest. Making a face, he threw the ball back at the other blonde. "What was that for?"
"You look like you could use a little fun," Tidus said airily, easily catching the ball. Onion Knight personally didn't think that was a good enough reason to threw the blitzball at him! "Why don't you join us tomorrow, instead of just watching?"
…Shoot! First Terra and now Tidus. Was he really that obvious? Onion Knight quickly covered his surprise by crossing his arms and trying to look haughty. "I can't just leave Terra alone to join the treasure hunt."
Even though a part of him wanted to. And the rest of him - the knightly part of him - felt guilty for wanting to abandon his duty for something as… childish as a treasure hunt.
Tidus scratched the back of his head before he said, "Man, you're really uptight for a kid." Pausing, he added, "I don't think I've heard you laugh." He bounced his blitzball off a tree, a distant look in his eyes before his attention snapped back to reality when he caught his blitzball on its return. If Onion Knight had been the less observant type, he would've missed that brief serious look completely. It made him wonder. In a more upbeat voice, Tidus continued, facing Onion Knight in earnest, "You've gotta live a little! Laugh and smile while you're still young, or you'll end up like Squall! A kid's gotta play ball some time, you know?"
Sure enough, when Onion Knight glanced back at the camp, Squall's expression held his usual frowny face. Onion Knight wanted to point out that Squall wasn't exactly old, but that would just be getting away from the problem at hand here, which was Tidus' need to treat him like a little kid! "I'm a knight," he insisted, "And," he puffed out his chest and recited easily, "it's a knight's sworn duty to protect a fair maiden!"
Tidus just quirked an amused smile that told Onion Knight he wasn't taking him seriously at all. Hmph! "Yeah, but you're a kid, too. And it's not like you're abandoning her; Cloud and Squall are with her, too."
Onion Knight bristled at the last sentence, which immediately had Tidus holding up his hands in defence, "Hey, hey, whoah, ease up! What'd I say wrong?"
He huffed at the blonde. "You really don't know much about knights, do you?"
Sure, Cloud and Squall were there, but it was Onion Knight who'd told Terra he'd always protect her. He didn't like the implication that Terra doesn't need him. He didn't want to think too hard about that, but now that Tidus had started this line of questioning, he couldn't not think about it.
Tidus scratched the back of his neck again, obviously uncomfortable. "If leaving Terra's side bothers you that much, here." And he whistled, loud, clear and piercing.
Onion Knight just stared at the blitzballer, having no idea what Tidus' odd behaviour was even supposed to mean. Maybe it was a sign Tidus had been hit in the head by too many balls back in his home world.
"You're, like, the clingiest little brother." Tidus made a movement as if to ruffle Onion Knight's hair, which he reflexively ducked away from, even though he was still wearing his helm. But instead, the older boy went to pinch Onion Knight's cheeks, despite his protests. Onion Knight didn't even have the satisfaction of smacking Tidus' hands away; Tidus' reflexes were too good for that. "You've gotta give a girl's some space sometimes. But if she whistles whenever she's in danger, you can hear it and come running to save her!" Tidus sidled over and elbowed Onion Knight, shooting him a wide grin even as Onion Knight gave Tidus a sour look before rubbing his now sore arm. "You'll be her knight in shining armour!"
Onion Knight successfully resisted the urge to point out again that he was already a knight. Was Tidus' ability to remember anything other than his dislike for his father that poor? But Onion Knight still considered Tidus' words. In trying to protect her, he hadn't thought about Terra's other needs… again. Maybe that was the reason why she'd asked him if he wanted the join in the treasure hunt.
…This was getting ridiculous. How many times was he going to ignore his heart before he learned?
Tidus leaned back and put his arms behind his head, grinning. He looked oddly smug. "So, you'll be joining us tomorrow?"
"If you insist." Onion Knight sniffed disdainfully before turning to head back to the campfire. "Just so you know, I'll find more than all of you."
"Hah! You really think so? You're on, buddy."
The next day, the sound of four laughing voices split the air.
Author's Notes: This came out a lot more haphazard than I would've liked, but I just wanted to get this story out of my system before I go study for my exams. It was actually supposed to be an Onion Knight, Bartz and Zidane treasure hunting story, but it turned into this instead, oops.
That said, I hope you've enjoyed my little story :3