A/N Welcome! This fic is Shulk/Melia-ish...because why not? Spoilers. Set immediately before Shulk and Alvis's chat about seeing the future in Ose Tower, Valak Mountain.
Why did Alvis not warn us of how cold it would be? Melia thought.
High Entia clothing was useless against the cold of Valak Mountain. Alvis should have been just as frozen as she was, but the cold did not seem to bother him in the slightest. He seemed almost at home- where she and the others slipped on the ice, spat out snowflakes and fought the wind, he walked on untouched. It was eerie, almost mesmerising. Melia was doing her best not to stare but there was something compelling about Alvis that made you want to look at him.
Shulk had lost the not staring battle and was doing just that. If Alvis noticed, he didn't let on.
Melia instantly disliked Ose Tower. She felt as though an unpleasant spirit lurked there and was unhappy about the intrusion. The Monado was propped up in a corner, glowing with a light that made Melia distinctly uncomfortable. Why, she could not say. She wasn't the only one that seemed uncomfortable- Shulk and Dunban also seemed unusually subdued. Shulk had tried to brush it off as tiredness, but Melia couldn't help but think there was more to it than that. She wanted to ask more about the girl in the Mechon, but couldn't quite find the words.
Sharla handed out food. They'd splashed out on supplies that morning, so everything had a High Entia flavour to it. It was hard to believe they'd been in Alcamoth such as short time ago. Melia hadn't been sorry to leave- her father's absence was still overwhelming. She kept expecting to see him around every corner.
It was one of those silent evenings where everyone had run out of small talk, even resident chatter boxes Riki and Reyn. A huge fire roared in the middle of the vast room. Riki was in one corner, fur fluffed out to try and keep warm while he slept. In another corner Reyn was watching Sharla clean and reload her rifle. He asked the occasional question, but Sharla answered in monosyllables, seemingly lost in thought. Dunban had gone out 'to get some air' and Alvis had disappeared without a word. Shulk was-
He was sitting down beside her.
"Shulk," Melia tried to make her voice warm and friendly, but she was so nervous she could only manage a bleak monotone. She wanted Shulk to like her- no, more than like her-and it was making her very conscious of how she was projecting herself.
"Are you cold?" he asked after an awkward pause.
Melia frowned. "Frozen. As is obvious," she said.
"I-I'm not very good at this," Shulk said.
"Good at what?"
"Making conversation. I usually leave it to Reyn."
"It's OK, Shulk. I'm not very good at it either. People always do all the work for you when you're a princess."
"I just thought- you looked really sad and I wanted to help in any way I could. You can um- if you want to talk um-"
"Thank you for the kind offer but no, I don't really want to talk."
"O-OK. Well, I know it's probably stupid but-I got you this."
Shulk held out a flower. It was soggy with melted snow and would not usually be considered remarkable in any respect- but the fact it had come from Shulk made it a priceless treasure. Melia could feel herself going red and desperately hoped the colour of her skin wasn't betraying her. She took it, and their hands brushed.
"That's very kind of you," she said. She forgot her nervousness and smiled, twirling the stem in her numb fingers.
"Your hands are so freezing we could make ice cubes with them!" he exclaimed.
It was a lame joke, but Melia giggled anyway, giddy with her remorseless crush.
"Hang on, I think I've got some spare gloves… somewhere." Shulk rooted through his pockets, tipping out all kinds of paraphernalia. Melia couldn't even guess as to what half of it was or why Shulk had kept it. One item she did recognise was a crumpled photo- she picked it up almost without thinking and smoothed it out. Shulk. Reyn. Dunban. A man she didn't recognise. And the Mechon girl. Of course.
Melia was getting sick of this unknown girl-"Fiora"- continuously putting a damper on any hopes she had with Shulk. Without even being there, no less. Melia folded the photo back up and dumped it on the still rapidly growing pile.
"Your pockets must be bigger on the inside," Melia observed in an effort to cover up her sudden surge of annoyance.
"That's physically impossible," Shulk said, giving her a strange look.
A minute later he triumphantly produced the gloves.
"Are you sure you don't need them?" Melia asked.
"Thank you, Shulk."
"No problem. "
She was looking right at him. She only had to lean forward a few inches and she'd be kissing him. It was an idea she liked very much. Did she dare?
She hesitated a second too long.
"Shulk, I'd like to talk to you about a few matters."
It was Alvis, back from wherever he'd been. There was snow clinging to his jacket and a faintly irritated look on his face.
"Of course," Shulk said, jumping to his feet.
And that was that. A missed chance Melia would always regret.
A/N "Bigger on the inside"- from Doctor Who. Melia's (English!) voice actress is taking over as the Doctor's companion after the departure of the Ponds. I couldn't resist putting trying to get Melia to say the line in one of my fics. Apologies xD