A/N: I wanted to do a Kilbert/Annie. Hans/Annie is prevalent, though yes I know it was blatantly and heavily implied in the game and I do think it's a cute and hilarious pairing. But as much as I liked Hans I liked Kilbert better. So here, I had to. It might seem a bit rushed towards the end even though I rewrote it once or twice. And I'm not entirely sure of my characterizations (especially Fitz, who has, like, two lines). But I kept chipping at this for months (went through the game again for script clarification too) so I feel reasonably accomplished regardless. I twisted the script here and there to suit my purposes. I hope you enjoy it. I'm going to try a Claus/Annie next, for kicks.
(EDIT 9-28-11, spelling errors fixed)
The dragon's prone body looked like a brightly colored mountain next to the two of them, particularly to her, but even to Kilbert, who had collapsed to the rocky ground in a dead sleep. He was snoring softly, scratched and sweaty but with a pleased expression on his face that brought a tired smile to her own. Her chest was still heaving, but the adrenaline had worn off and she was feeling rather beat herself.
"... see that? Lili..."
'Lili? Who's Lili? I'm Annie.' She sighed, heart still racing from that short moment when she thought he had... but he just passed out. 'Ah... I'm exhausted. How am I supposed to get us back to town like this?' Annie shook her head in a vain attempt to clear it, because she knew there was something, but her knees had already hit the ground, making her decision for her. She toppled over. 'I'll take a nap too... I guess.'
Her head landed on Kilbert's lap, a fact that would no doubt embarrass her when she woke. However, for now, she was too tired, having fought a particularly arduous battle alongside of her friend and bodyguard, and slept.
Kilbert woke up slowly and with a nagging feeling in his head that there was a little more weight on his body than he was used to. His arms were numb too. And his legs were asleep. Probably from that newfound weight on his lap. He opened his eyes and a blearily picture of his surroundings swam into his vision. He groaned and shifted, wondering for a moment what he'd done this time. Sure he'd fallen asleep in some odd areas before, but he didn't really recognize this place. The last he remembered was... he scrunched his nose in thought. A sleepy murmur drifted to his ears from somewhere close by, the voice sounding suspiciously like a dozing Annie talking in her sleep.
Annie? Why was he with Annie? Wait. He and Annie... and the cave. The missing adventurers. The dragon!
He shot upright and looked around, suddenly alert. His old claymore was next to him, bathed in a dull red coat and bits of shredded muscle. The weight on his lap, that was Annie's head. But the dragon... he sucked in a breath at the sight of its massive corpse, littered with gashes and glittering bits of still-melting ice from Annie's spells. One wound in particular stood out from the rest. A gaping hole in its chest, still leaking blood into the pond sized pool beneath it. Somehow he and Annie had avoided collapsing in the gore.
He looked down again, taking in her torn clothes, battered armor, and sleeping face. They were both smudged with dirt and sweat and who knew what else. He sighed in relief to see the lack of major injuries on her person, as well as the gentle rise and fall of her chest.
They did it. They did it. He could hardly believe it.
He looked to the corpse again to confirm it hadn't vanished, but no, it was there. Undeniable proof. He had drawn Fragarach and lived up to his undeserved reputation. He almost leapt up and tried to pull it out again, but a sudden snort reminded him that his lap was currently occupied as a pillow. Mossy eyes softened as they landed on the gray haired girl snoozing on him as he contemplated his initial assessment of her. He had sought her out in hopes that she could help him change... but he had not changed, not in the way he had expected. It was a change of mindset that had come with befriending the alchemist. 'I think I can live with myself like this...' A sense of happiness flooded his body at that thought. He'd followed her and fought a dragon and successfully protected her using a sword he could previously only bluff about.
And now maybe he could face her again.
He put a hand on Annie's head in silent gratitude, idly noting the softness of her hair even as it was dampened by sweat. He sighed as he moved his hand to her shoulder and gently shook it.
"Wake up Annie."
Annie drifted into consciousness, dimly registering that she was sore, smelly, and that her hair was plastered to her face. She opened her eyes to rocks and debris and thought 'Oh, that's why.' With a low moan she shifted and gingerly eased herself up. Then she saw legs. Long, taut legs with knee high armored boots that moved out of the way as she stared at them. With a growing feeling of embarrassment she turned and saw Kilbert gazing at her with an odd expression on his face. It made her flush, mortified, as she realized that she had fallen asleep in his lap shortly after his own collapse. But more importantly...
"Are you alright?" She asked him.
He was bright eyed and smiling and she felt reassured by this. "This is nothing to me."
She sighed. Those words were typical of him, but their delivery was not as lively as she was used to. Still, she smiled tiredly at him nonetheless and they helped each other stand, both wobbling unsteadily for a few moments before their worn out legs adjusted to their weight. The pair let out breathy snickers as they clutched nearby rocks and at the other's armor for support. Once they had both steadied they turned to the body of the great beast they slew together.
"Did we really do that?" Annie asked him.
"Kilbert?" She prompted.
He turned to her.
He stiffened noticeably before his usual grin came back to his face and the tension melted away. "Why do you ask?"
"When you collapsed you said something like did you see that, Lili, so I was just wondering." Annie scrutinized him for a moment to see if he would give her an answer.
He didn't. 'I can't say I'm surprised though. It must be someone important.' She couldn't say why she felt a pang at the notion. Almost unconsciously she reached for his arm, face twisted in worry, but she stopped and let her hand drop when he moved. She frowned, and that odd look returned to him.
"Kilbert? Are you okay?"
He backed up another step. "Hey..." He started. "I need to do something real quick."
"Yeah, sorry. Can you get back on your own? I... gotta run."
Annie reflected on it for a moment, noting that her body was still twinging painfully every now and then. She probably couldn't afford to get into another battle. But... her eyes flickered back to Kilbert, who was shuffling slightly. She felt a sense of urgency coming from him just from that glance. She nodded.
"I'll be fine." She told him. 'Though if any more monsters show up I'll be a liar.' She resisted a sigh.
"Sorry." He said, face sheepish. "I'll see you later!"
Annie waited until he was out of sight before lowering herself onto a large rock nearby. 'What got into him all of a sudden?' She wondered. 'The adventurers are still here somewhere...'
Abruptly she stood, face set in a scowl. "He better not have left to get out of this!" She shouted.
Kilbert descended the mountain quickly, making short work of ruts and rocks rather than taking the winding, but much safer, path down. That route would take days that he didn't want to spare. Because this was something he needed to do and needed to do as soon as possible. He felt bad for leaving Annie behind. The adventurers too. But it couldn't be helped. He needed to see Lili. That was his highest priority.
'Before I lose my nerve!' He thought. 'I need to say it.'
He gritted his teeth as he slid down another slope, kicking up dust and pebbles in his wake. His clothes were going to need a thorough repair after this. With that, it could be considered a good thing he'd finally be setting foot in that weapon shop. He wouldn't have to ask Annie for the materials and then sit and do the repairs himself. But he probably still would anyway. Just to see her smiling face as she ran up to him brandishing whatever it was he had requested...
He hissed at the image, frustrated with himself, as it reminded him that he had moved away when she reached for him this time. Because her concerned face and outstretched hand had been overlapped with another. An older face, bleeding from a mangled eye socket. Lili. He had only thought of Lili even then, unable to let go of a vision of someone he had failed.
'I'm sorry Annie. Until I settle things with that person, I can't...'
Kilbert grunted as his feet hit a ledge and he scrambled to balance himself, pausing only briefly to catch his breath once he did. And then he was moving again.
Annie was on the ground again. Kneeling this time, and putting her old first aid classes to the test treating burns and slashes with what little medicine she had left. The issue of transportation, thankfully, was one that she could address with relative ease. Once her head had cleared she remembered the magical return gates she had worked with Pepe to synthesize. For emergencies only, the fairy had told her. She considered this to be one, with some of the injuries these men and women were sporting. Her brow was furrowed as she looked over the group again. The gates should be strong enough, but she was going to use three, just to be sure. There were five of them, and with her, that made two to a gate. She hoped that they were coherent enough to help each other through.
'Honestly, Kilbert, you'd have gotten back faster if you stayed.'
Even if he went bounding down the mountainside it would take him a full day to reach town, if that was indeed where he was heading. She couldn't shake the question of what, exactly, he was up to that required him to take off so suddenly. Even when she reminded herself to pay attention to the wounds she was giving a cursory tending-to.
"Alright." She murmured, standing; in a louder voice she continued. "That's about as much as I can do. The gates are to my workshop, but someone should be there to call the doctor once you all go through."
Annie helped a young woman, not much older than herself, get to her feet before taking out the pouch on her hip that held the palm-sized devices. She plucked on out and threw it on the ground, watching it glow and enlarge into what appeared to be an ornate white door to nowhere. She opened it and gestured the first pair to go through, and waited patiently as they vanished together into her workshop before repeating her actions for the second group, and then for herself and the woman she had helped stand.
"Pepe?" She called.
She spotted him hovering over a medical kit gathering gauze and salve.
"I called for the doctor." He answered her unasked question.
He then shot her a look that promised a full interrogation. Later. Annie maneuvered the lady adventurer to a free space on her bed and proceeded to help her master tend them until the doctor arrived.
'Kilbert is probably still on the mountain.' She mused.
"Annie! Get some water and a wash cloth!"
Approximately twenty-six hours after leaving the Cave, Kilbert found himself hesitating just outside of his destination. The door to the weapon shop looked ominous to him. Even if, to others, it simply looked like a slightly worse-for-wear cut of wood, Kilbert knew who stood just beyond it. A tall, one-eyed beauty in unassuming armor. A retired adventurer four years his senior. His old partner. One he still thought of too often for his own good. He tightened a fist, took a breath, and pushed the door in. The tang of smoke and steel hit him like a torrent.
"Lili." He whispered.
The call was so soft he could scarcely hear it himself. Still, she looked up, and the sight of her face after years of avoiding her made his heart clench uncomfortably in his chest. It was smooth and pale, a contrast to the scraped and bloody mess he remembered all too clearly.
She smiled gently, a gesture that belied her usually stoic facade. "It's been awhile." She greeted simply.
Kilbert released the breath he had been holding, already feeling lighter than he had in years. It was time to let go.
"I'm sorry I left so suddenly."
Annie looked up from her salad, blinking in surprise. Kilbert toyed with the straw in his glass and avoided looking at her.
"I told you it was fine." She responded after a pause. "It was really important right?"
He sighed, sliding his arms down the table until his chin was resting on the wood. "Yeah... but you got back before me." He pouted, an expression that was almost up to his usual levels of childishness.
Annie offered an flat look in return. "It's not my fault you were in such a hurry that you forgot I was an alchemist."
"Yeah, right. You probably forgot too." He retorted. "You probably didn't remember until you found everyone and panicked because you couldn't possibly carry them all with your skinny body." He grinned smugly at her silence.
She changed the subject. "So, did you finish what you needed to?"
"Yeah..." He looked away and his eyes followed a couple strolling through the streets outside of the window.
"Did it... not turn out the way you hoped?" She asked. "You don't look happy about it."
A small, genuine smile lit his face for just a second. Annie almost thought she imagined it.
"It turned out better than I thought." He said. "It's all settled now."
"Was it that talk with Ms. Amalie?"
His eyes closed in his usual show of playful irritation. "You ask a lot of personal questions, you know?"
She glowered briefly. "I want to know!"
"You have no tact." He smirked.
Annie brandished her fork threateningly until she was startled by a sudden flash of pink.
"Do you want dessert?" Fitz's inquisitive eyes were trained on the utensil in Annie's hand while she asked.
Annie laughed self-consciously and put it down. "Maybe just a little."
"Make it a lot!" Kilbert ordered. "You're too skinny. You'd float if I dropped you!"
"Why would you drop me in the first place!" She demanded.
"To see if you'd float."
The way he stated his answer as if it were painfully obvious would have had anyone who knew him less believing him to be honestly confused by the question. As it were, Annie narrowed her eyes and lifted the fork again.
"We'll have a sachertorte, Fitz, thank you."
"Two cakes and a pot roast." Kilbert interjected.
"Just one, and pot roast isn't a dessert!"
"It's not on the menu." Fitz informed him, unimpressed.
"So there!" Annie finished.
Her grin was infectious. Kilbert felt one of his own tugging at his mouth while his mind raced for a comeback. He could see her face clearly now, uninhibited by a filter made of green hair and an eye patch. A strong feeling of elation accompanied this realization, one that made him pick up his fork with relish as Fitz hurried to the kitchen to retrieve their torte slices. Across the table, Annie held her own silverware with a foreboding expression on her face that promised a world of punishment. Later.
He was looking forward to seeing her try.