A/N: Inspired by the song "Blessings" in MOTHER 3. Also triggered by a tumblr user (Homebiscuitskillet) looking for a Claus and Lucas story to read.
It's a part of Stand up Strong.
If the morning was a good one, Lucas would wake up before Claus. Having food to eat and a freshly charred roof meant that the scruffy redhead could sleep a little easier. On an opposite day, Claus would be gone before Lucas opened his blue eyes. So on days like these, he always took a bit of time to watch his twin's sleeping form. Ever since the boy had gotten PSI, his face was rosier. How rosy depended on how he was feeling and how warm he was. When he slept, they were pretty red, like two hot patches on his cheeks that Lucas would gently palm at with each of his hands. Even when he gently rubbed them with his thumbs, Claus would stay relaxed and sleep. It amazed Lucas because most sounds or even a piece of stray clothing falling on the older twin would wake him, but not his gentle cold touches.
He smiled at his sleeping form before quietly getting out of bed to the kitchen.
For their birthday, he wished he could do something more than the usual omelet with either toast or rice on the side. He didn't have what he needed to make a cake, not even black bean puree in placement of flour. Fuel told him pretty...peculiar stories about black beans sprouting alive and causing damage to those who couldn't handle them. Claus took out a few, but he didn't want to trouble his brother any more than he really had to. Lucas tiptoed to a cupboard and saw that they still had some cinnamon left and pulled it down. He grabbed a few slices of bread with a pair of eggs and decided to make 'french' toast.
Just as he finished beating the eggs, he was surprised to see Claus walking in while rubbing his eyes. He put the bowl of battered eggs down and asked, "Why are you awake, Claus?"
He yawned in reply, "Plans."
Instead of Lucas saying anything in reply, he nodded and turned away to hide his disappointed frown.
"Eat a slice here and take one with you on the way out."
"Heh, okay, I'll take a quick seat then."
"Thank you." He lit the stove and carefully placed a piece of soaked bread on it. "Have a happy birthday, Claus."
"It'll be happy, Lucas! Just let time blow in the wind, 'kay?" He chuckled and snapped his fingers. He wasn't good at keeping surprises, especially when they excited him. Lucas's suspicions rose, but in a very curious fashion. He chose to focus on the smell of breakfast and his growling stomach as his distraction. He made Claus's two slices first, and even placed the plate in front of him to make haste to his day, but the adolescent didn't eat or move his plate at all. The look on his freckled face was playful, and his green eyes had a twinkle to them. "What?"
Lucas had his own plate in hand, but he had paused awkwardly from sitting down with his twin. He was genuinely confused by how Claus was both hasty and lax. He answered, "You said you had plans..."
"I'm not gonna ditch you at the table. C'mon, now."
"Huh..." His growling stomach stopped him from asking any further questions. He sat down and took the immediate bite that the other did not. Claus took his bite right after Lucas did, and it almost felt like a mimicked action. Lucas stayed concentrated on his food because he felt flustered. He always did when their pattern went off course. With the direction of his eyes, he could see both of their plates, and with being so focused, the sound of both of them chewing their serving. He was anxiously waiting to see Claus's fingers grab his second slice. The wait and the building anxiety made Lucas's cheeks flare and not even finish his own first slice. There were two bites left and it just stayed in between his teeth.
"Just have the yard ready, okay? I'll be back soon."
"Really?" His toast fell onto of his other slice when he spoke. He sheepishly scratched his hair in response to that. He wanted to ask 'You sure? How will you be back so soon? What are you doing?' but he remained quiet and hastily grabbed his first slice instead.
"Yeah! I got it all planned out!" When he grabbed his other slice and got up, Lucas felt a strange relief override his senses. He had one more slice to get to before he would collect their plates to clean; an action he found soothing.
In the afternoon, he worked on the garden while Claus was out for a couple of hours since the morning. Since then, Lucas has cleared some debris that luckily didn't hit any crops growing. He watered the sprouting plants as well as planted new ones for a future work load. What he had now wasn't enough to preoccupy him.
"Maybe mopping," he thought, and wandered back inside. In his anxiety and unusual impatience, he was quite hasty to get the bucket and mop, and just as he got the bucket ready and dipped the mop in, Claus came through the door.
"Nope! No time for that!" It was pretty nostalgic.
"What is with you and this 'time in the wind' thing, Claus?" It made him so anxious. Anxious enough to defensively hold the mop as if it would save him from this unpredictable whirlwind. He was offered a hand in reply, and as he started at it, he felt his eyebrows twitch and lips fight between frown and smile. He hesitantly let the mop go and circle inside the bucket to take Claus's hand. He was then yanked out of the door as he thought he would be. Lucas had grown so accustomed to being within the eroding house, that leaving beyond its yard felt so whimsical. Whimsical and nerve wrecking. Stories of weird monsters, and tales of weird smells and loud noises made him just want to stay home. He saw a few monstrosities himself, but he didn't wish to see more. "Claus, where are we going?"
"They've left the far off coast alone?"
"Yeah, as long as we keep it a secret between you and me, I think it'll stay safe."
"Is...the afternoon safe?" He wanted to keep that area safe. It never dawned on him that like the forest, their little summer sanctuary would get ruined or filled with 'Chimeras'. He never thought about how it was the only spot left to them after the forest, the Drago plateau and parts of tazmilly was broken down and scarred with scary reminders. Their home was more of a broken dream and a shelter than anything else. A necessity.
"Mm. We have to move really fast, but hold on tight to my hand. We'll make it, I'll blind people if I have to." An abrupt stop made his arm jerk. He turned around confused before wincing and looking desperate. "Not permanently!"
"Not at all...!"
"It'd last just a few minutes, Lucas! Just remember that they wouldn't put these considerations on the table for us." With Lucas less bristled, the one hand he had a hold on, he now held with two. "We're protecting something."
Lucas eyes downcast, and as his fingers fiddled with Claus's, he murmured, "You'reprotecting 'something'..." His fingers were unable to move with the squeeze he was receiving. "I can't do anything..."
"Give it time," he whispered.
Lucas looked at how his eyebrows bent up, and how his smile, while sheepish, had the slightest twitch in it. He was thinking something. Deciding something. He turned away with a slight pull to Lucas's arm. His magical eyes were shrinking with a wavering look to them before he turned away.
They needed to be quick and focused anyways, Lucas silently decided.
Tazmilly was unusually loud and bustling. So many new people he wondered where they even came from. As much as he wanted to turn his head and look at everyone at the new square, he bucked his shoulders and followed Claus behind the shadows of taller buildings. He tried to mimic his actions, how he crouched slightly but still managed to keep his legs moving. He felt strain from these actions, but they were oddly effective. His usual clumsy footing was quick and quiet now, and he could hear a little wind in his ears as he kept up with Claus, no longer feeling a pull on his arms like a safety cord securing him from a fall during a mountain climb.
They've strayed so far away from the roads there was only a surprising amount of grass still present on an uneven lumpy hill. No voices, no smell of food or whatever else, just the sound of trees blowing in the wind. He felt his heart flutter so high, a giggle slipped out. Claus's urgent movement faltered enough for him to be the clumsy one. He came close to falling over until Lucas pulled him over, laughing even more in action.
"It's like another world... Here, I mean."
"...Huh. Didn't look at it that way." He didn't keep still either, he moved on ahead. Too restless to absorb the area.
"I wish we came here again sooner."
"They were watching us like buzzards earlier. It's a timing thing...Now is safe. That place where we found the oranges-"
"I was just thinking about that too."
"Yeah...we left traces and they got rid of most of the natural area. What they kept became their property for profit. That's why... we have to be really careful. I know there's nothing there for them to take, but I can see them turning into 'private property', or a training camp...or whatever else. Just to spite me, and I hate that because it hurts you too."
"I-it's mutual. We don't like each other hurt, and both of our actions lead to that end sometimes... so it's not just you." He paused in speech but kept walking. "And it's not just me either... It's-"
"Just the way things are, yeah..." And he wasn't sure if it would ever get better.
"Things will keep changing...and I'm sure we'll get a change for the better soon enough, Claus. A-anyway...is the beach holding a surprise? I have to wait until we get there?"
His laughter was nervous and short when he replied.
"I'd like to..."
"Well, we're almost there... I'll try my best to be more like me and less like you," he joked. His smile broadened when he heard him snort in reply. Their hands were linked again, and he squeezed Claus's rough hand as he looked up at the sky and the trees they were under. He opened his ears more to hear their shoes crunching in the grass so naturally. He was already planning on what he'd do for their trip back. To take off his shoes and feel the fresh and healthy grass on the soles of his feet and in between his toes. And when he made it to the edge of the beach, he just had to let Claus's hand go to finally take off his socks and shoes. He Just couldn't stop giggling.
Well, until he saw the tub boat up ahead.
Claus couldn't help but run in view to check his twin's expression, just to make sure it wasn't a negative one. Lucas' eyes were bright as he looked at the tub boat itself, and his body language curious as he cautiously moved forward. The paddles were already made and borrowed—or stolen, but the boat was definitely new. Well, as new as it could be, it had some salty water residue on it he picked up with his finger by wiping it.
"I tested it out, it works."
"It works." To refrain from crossing his arms, he picked up a paddle with one hand, and tugged at the boat with the other hand. "You can get in now."
"But you're dragging it," Lucas answered and picked up the other paddle.
"I'm not the old Claus, y'know." He was blushing before, this only flushed his cheeks out more. He still found his differences from the others so odd, and even showing these quirks to Lucas was embarrassing. He felt the weight changing with Lucas getting in, and to the surprise of his twin, he kept pulling the boat to the ocean with ease.
"I don't just make light shows..." He mumbled as he kicked his shoes off to the side.
"D-don't forget your socks, and put your shoes in here too." Lucas used this reminder as a way to distract Claus. He knew that tone, it reminded him of when he'd brush his fluffy red hair back in the day. In the socks and shoes went. He neatly put them as much to the sides as he could in this boat with limited space. When Claus was thigh high in the water, he moved behind the boat and kept pushing. "At this rate you'll be swimming, Claus."
"I need to cool down."
"Oh right." He paused, before asking with worry, "It's not one of those fevers, is it?"
"Oh... okay. J-just get in soon, okay?" He was getting nervous, as best as he was trying to hide it. He could've sworn that Thomas told a story about a boy never being seen again after setting off to sea in a boat. That the ocean didn't swallow the boat up, but kept pulling him in with a will of its own. Just like the wind had a spirit, so did the ocean. "Claus." He couldn't hide it anymore.
"I'm getting in, get steady." Lucas's arms were trembling a little, but somehow he managed to hold on like he was going to fall into the abyss. Claus made the boat wobble more than either of them would like, but it steadied when he was finally in there. He sat down with a wet sound and a sigh. He leaned back and looked up at the slightly cloudy sky. It was still perfect. The natural smell, the natural sounds, and just the two of them cruising away from it all. If Claus didn't look so weary, Lucas would've ranted his fears by now. Instead, he gulped and turned his back the other way to look at the ocean, more so his reflection. The boat was drifting so much, he really would've thought they would've need a sheet to catch the wind to do that or something.
The ocean really had a will? He wish he had someone to ask, namely Hinawa. She always talked about the wind, the dirt, the plants, and even the ocean by their house. His sigh was short and rough, and it caught his twin's attention.
"What're you thinking about?"
"...That story Thomas talked about..."
"I thought of it too. The entire time." He was prepared for Lucas to whip his head around, rosy faced and eyes wide.
"What? What are we gonna do about food? Or...everything? We're just going to drift away!"
"Maybe... there's an island much closer than we think, Lucas. You know... 'island of dreams'."
"But Fuel! And Boney and..."
"You know Boney. He can make even the drabbiest shack a new home and eats anything. Fuel... he'll make it. He blends right in now. Then there's us. Isn't it peaceful? Isn't it beautiful?" And mid-sentence, a seagull cried in the sky. "Look, it's as it should be, and it's not flying anywhere near our island."
Lucas felt a strange feeling in his heart. It was powerful enough to send a warm and cold feeling from the neck down. He swallowed a lump in his throat, eyes on his weary twin.
"I..." Can't talk. I haven't seen half of what you saw, dealt with what you had."If we planned it more... m-maybe a voyage...a voyage would be nice. W-we don't have anything."
"We don't have anything, period." His pitch was unusually high.
"My box, my rabbit..." And that made Claus think.
"...Yeah...my monkey too." It was enough to make him look back at the island shrinking in the horizon. Claus stared for awhile, and as Lucas watched his frame, he could see that Claus was slowly leaning his body towards the island. Claus's arms twitched, and Lucas gripped a paddle and dipped it in the water.
"...We'll go back. But let's just...drift a little longer, Lucas."
"Mm," he answered and pulled the paddle back into the boat. He secured it before leaning on Claus's back. His height allowed him to rest his chin in his hair and even see their reflection in the clear water. He still had droopy eyelids and really rosy cheeks, and his nose got in the way of seeing what pose his lips took. But with the way his hand swayed in the water, he was feeling at least a little better. His hand swirled in the water gently, and with moderate pace. Lucas joined his hand in with Claus's, eyelids lowering in relaxation at the embrace of the water. As his twin's fingers playfully brushed his own, he smiled and swayed his hand in the water, watching the ripple trails of their hands blur their expressions.
A/N: I am planning to rewrite Stand up Strong for Ao3. I'm also thinking of starting AM over entirely for both ffn and ao3. However, I'm losing my internet today and have no idea for how long.