A small story here; I got an English assignment to write a romance story with original characters three days ago. Knowing me, I had no decent idea, not much, so I decided to rip Ace's and Deuce's personality and put it into original characters. Hence this story, a full-fledged romance with no humor at all of エスデュス / A2 / Ace x Deuce / Whatever you call this ship. And why not sharing it for you guys?
…Of course, the original one had little to none about magical things and I edited some parts here and there. Oh well, the editing only took about 30 minutes or so, hopefully all of this was perfectly shifted into the correct setting here.
Final Fantasy Type-0 owned by Square Enix.
"The sky reflected in your innocent eyes, let it be clear and sunny."
~ Always with You, Yuuki Kaji
"Keh, ya two are a bunch o' sissies. Yer takin' too long, oi."
That was his last message. With an excited battle cry, the spear wielder crawled out of his hiding spot. Just beyond the small alley was a platoon of Milites' armies, fully prepared of their enemy's invasion. Normally, one would think twice before rushing in into that kind of crowd, but they were talking about Nine here; One who never considered anything before he acted.
Both of them tried to stop him, but he already tossed himself into the sky before lunging down on his enemies. Luckily, his superb abilities equaled his rashness. Those numbers didn't impact Nine any bit as he started to wreak some havoc on the enemy formation. Ace merely let out an exasperated sigh on his hiding spot while Deuce was about to follow Nine to aid him in this mission. Just before she could join the fray, Ace extended his arm aside to keep her from going.
"Refrain from doing so, Deuce." he calmly ordered his partner. "Nine's doing okay for now. We'll help him when he requires a hand."
The brunette almost stared in him in disbelief for his decision. "B-But—"
Her only answer was his gaze that was so full of determination. In his azure eyes, he didn't have a single doubt about Nine's movement despite how he unceremoniously thwarted Ace's original plan of moving soundlessly. It was very obvious that he put his full trust on him.
And she did so as well. Deuce stopped her objection as she gave her friend a nod of confirmation and she kneeled down again to prepare for the right timing. Again, she acknowledged that she needed to stop jumping in out of her personal anxiety, when it had the chance to ruin the outcome of their mission. She needed to control herself better.
…Well, Nine probably needed to control his even better.
"Nine, that moron." Ace grumbled lowly, although his frustration was very vague. "I'm getting tired of covering for his report for Instructor Kurasame."
She was facing his back and she couldn't see his face clearly. But from Ace's words solely, she could imagine his troubled-yet-funny expression right now, and she couldn't hold her giggles. Honestly, she could relate to him that much about that sort of things; you just needed to switch Cinque with Nine. Deuce herself often needed to make up horrible lies for Cinque's absurdity in their missions together.
Now that she stared at it again, Ace's back was something that she had always observed. He was the number one to her two and their teamwork with each other was probably one of the best (almost equaled King-&-Trey's combinations), thus she was often paired up with him. Thanks to that, Cater and Cinque often teased about it as well, most of the time resulted in her blushing of their… embarrassing implication of Ace and her relationship.
Regardless, she had learnt many things about his back specifically from all that. Ace's was not as sturdy and muscular as King's or Nine's, his was but that of an average teenager. Still, his back was the most comforting one should anyone require a back to lean on. Ace never stated it out loud, but he also had uncountable cuts and bruises around his back that he always covered with his clothes, thanks to life-threatening missions that he always did. Truth to be told, Deuce wouldn't be able to tell that as well if she hadn't managed to accidentally stumble on him changing his clothes.
She didn't know what pushed her to do so, but unconsciously, her arms had wandered and rested on his shoulders. Not only that, she soon trailed her hands down so that they were tracing Ace's shoulder blades slowly. All of that without her mind agreeing so.
Perhaps, she needed to retract her previous opinion. It was not as obvious as King or Nine, but Ace was pretty well-built as well. Not really visible, but when she touched his back, it was sturdier than she had originally thought.
Of course that pulled Ace's trigger to turn his head back to look at his partner. He quickly raised an eyebrow and the corner of his lips even twitched into a small sarcastic smile.
"Dare I ask what are you doing, Deuce?"
As soon as she noticed his amused retort, the brunette quickly emitted a yelp and pulled her arms back, major shades of reds covered her face in embarrassment soon. In response to that, Ace let out a series of soft and entertained chuckle.
"Stop being so weird, Deuce." he teased. "I might take you for a freak soon."
She knew very well that he was joking, but she couldn't help but to frown and pout a little at his statement.
She then slapped his back with her hand friendlily, in which Ace responded with another chuckle. Her pout was soon diminishing as it was replaced with a slight, awkward giggle. They soon returned to their original plan of watching the situation behind the shadow.
It was then when surrealistic light suddenly covered Ace's hand as he summoned his cards to fight. As the girl shifted her vision, she noticed other three platoons of armies joined to oppose Nine's one man onslaught. Quickly, a same type of light as Ace's appeared around her hand and soon she was equipped with her flute.
He gave a slight, determined nod at her that the flutist replied with one of her own, before the leader of the Operation Apostle went into the battlefield to help his friend, and she soon settled with following just right behind him.
He was always in front of her, and she always admired his back.
A soft, tired sigh escaped Deuce's lips. With everything had been taken care of, she basically had nothing to do here in Peristylium anymore. Graduation was due this week and everyone had been (some was still) preparing for the first step of their young adulthood. Most of the Class Zero students were out of Rubrum right now, and King even had started his work as a freelance police since three days ago. She was happy, very happy that everyone reached their own dreams, yet at the same time she underwent the unending waves of sadness as well.
Everyone would soon get separated.
She bitterly bit her lower lip before she shook her head to no one in particular but herself. No, she shouldn't think like that. Even though they would be separated physically, their minds were connected with each others.
Now then, what should she do now? Cater was accompanying Seven to go somewhere that Seven herself wasn't really sure of, and Cinque was… still as carefree as ever and was still dozing off on her bed. Without her dear roommates around, she was never the best at deciding on what to spend her free time on.
Except that one, yes. Perhaps she should just go to the class' backyard and play her flute there.
The youngest member of Class Zero then decided that it was the best choice as of now and she soon started her beeline to the spot. Maybe savoring the emptiness of the backyard would be one kind of a memory that was worth treasuring as well. If she recalled correctly, the cherry blossom there was blooming as well, and that means she could snatch up notes from the air and then wove them into amusing tunes from the bench under the perfect weather. That was definitely not a bad choice.
When she arrived at the spot, however, there was a certain Ace.
…Oh, she almost forgot that one. That bench was Ace's favorite spot for napping, although the boy wasn't sleeping this time, he was sitting with his cards spread in his hands. And frankly, Deuce was a bit surprised by this occurrence.
It seemed that she was not the only one that was surprised, because the said male teen was arching an eyebrow in question at Deuce's sudden appearance.
"Deuce? What are you doing here?" he asked bluntly, looking a bit surprised himself. "You're not going anywhere?"
The girl blinked her eyes for a while before she giggled at him. Oh, this was just silly. "That was what I was going to ask you, Ace. What are you doing here?"
Ace chuckled as he put his cards back into his bag, his hand was then scratching his bright yellow hair in pleasantness. "I suppose we have the same thing in our mind."
As Deuce approached him, she heartily continued her giggles while nodding at Ace once. He was probably just like her, had already done all his preparation and confused of what to do to fill his spare time. His words just now just confirmed it further as well.
Well, at the very least they got each other's company to spend their time now.
"So, um…" she politely pointed at the open spot on the bench beside Ace. "Can I sit there?"
He quickly noticed what she meant and he moved his position to the side a bit so that she had enough space to sit. "My apologize, please do."
The brunette nodded in affirmation. She brushed her tartan skirt a bit before she sat beside him.
Before long, the place was left wordless once again. What could they do, really? She was generally very shy and was never a good conversationalist (except with Rem, Cater, and Cinque; who always enjoyed gossiping around like her), and Ace was quite fond of calmness and silence. Hence, she didn't feel really comfortable saying anything, since that would destroy the silence that Ace loved so much.
If he was the one to initiate the conversation, that was a different matter altogether.
"What were you doing?" Ace suddenly blurted that one out. "Before you arrived here, I mean. You are not preparing anything for post graduation, Deuce?"
"I already finished that last night." Deuce answered. "I don't think I really need to bring anything much with me, as well."
The number one pondered for a moment before he remembered about her deepest ambition; she dreamed of becoming a musician. And… yeah, she always had her flute prepared by her.
"I was thinking of getting an electronic keyboard when I can afford it," the brunette abruptly cut his pondering. "Trey taught me a bit about it. Oh, hopefully even a piano if I am very fortunate."
Her subtle joke seemed to soothe the peacefulness around them even better. Once again, soft laughs were coming from both talkers' mouth.
When the laughter died down, it was when Ace's request came out of his mouth.
"Say," he bent his body forward a bit so that his arms were now able to rest just above his knees. "Do you mind playing your flute, Deuce?"
That was quite a random request out of nowhere, but Deuce revealed him her smile.
"Of course I don't mind, Ace." she summoned her flute on her side. "In fact, that was what I planned to do here."
As Ace didn't voice any possible response against her words and he smiled back at her, that was Deuce's cue to put her flute before her lips.
Still, she didn't start her tune right away. Deuce's eyes twirled aside to the empty spot on her right to ponder about what song she should play. Honestly, while she was able to play many songs with her favorite instrument, she had no new rhythm or inspiration as of now, and that left her to choose between those from wide arrays of her mental scorebook. Fortunately, Ace seemed to understand her and he waited just as patient as she wished.
After a while, she had decided to play one of her favorite. The one music that connected every soul of Class Zero together, the one that Ace always hymned whenever he had the chance to.
Deuce softly blew her flute, eliciting a wondrous melody from the silver instrument. On every beat, her fingers changed their position to match the rhythm of the voiceless song. Her impersonation of the song was near perfect, if not totally perfect already. She loved the melody so much herself.
Ace quirked an eyebrow once at Deuce's choice. He didn't expect her to play that song, not that he minded. Hell, he even fought the urge to join her flute playing by singing the lyrics. This time, it wasn't his performance, it was Deuce's. And he couldn't possibly interrupt her amazing performance by butting in out of sudden.
As she fluted the song wonderfully, Deuce couldn't help but wished that she could listen to Ace singing this once more, together with everyone.
Once more, together with everyone
Really… Just once more… With everyone…
But by 'once more with everyone', was it even possible for them? They were going to walk their own paths separately soon. In fact, as of now, only Ace and herself were present here. No more taking mission together, no more studying together, no more laughing together, no more-
-No more having each others' company.
Just when the song was about to get into the best part, the tune of the flute stopped abruptly. And Deuce choked on her own playing, her eyes were suddenly down with her chocolate hairs covering her green spheres. Ace did nothing much more obvious than looking at his partner in question, stopping whatever he had been doing while enjoying the music.
Out of sudden, she lost her grip on her silver flute and Deuce's weapon of choice dropped to the grassy landscape soundlessly. Furthermore, the flutist suddenly stormed into Ace's arms in a blink of eye. Ace almost exploded in embarrassment of her sudden action if not for the fact he quickly noticed her current emotion.
Deuce was crying.
Legal words couldn't express Ace's confusion right now. A thousand waves of worries ran through Ace's mind as her tears were getting more extreme. Yet, the card wielder could not say a thing. Not until she painfully expressed her feelings out of blue again.
"I-I don't want to…" she sobbed, gripping on Ace's uniform tightly. "I d-don't want to part away with e-everyone-!"
While Ace couldn't process his body to react to her words, that was the exact moment when her feelings dawned in him. Still drowning in her tears, she ruefully continued, taking a breather every time a sob temporarily conquered her sentence.
"N-Not with Rem… Not with Machina… N-not with King... Not with Queen... Not with Jack... Not with Nine... Not with Eight... N-Not with Seven... Not with Sice... Not w-with Cinque... Not with Cater... N-Not with Trey… Not with A-Ace…"
Deuce long whining ended up with her choked on her sobs again as her wounded grip on his clothes getting tighter. Call her a selfish bastard or an egoist, but her fondnesses for her classmates were sky-high. She was afraid that time would torn them apart. She was afraid that everyone would eventually move on and forgot the quality times they had spent together. She was afraid that…
"I-I… don't want to be alone…"
…She was afraid that she would be left alone. The path she had decided to take had little to none correlation with everyone else's.
Ace was petrified on his spot. He couldn't move even a muscle at her outbursts. The only thing he could afford were rolling his eyes and biting his lips, both guiltily. No words, not even one beautiful word could assure her of the possible future that Deuce had thought. That kind of thing was inevitable, no matter what. Sure, they might be able to keep in touch, but there would be a moment where she would be alone without any company. That also applied to him, as well as the rest of his classmates.
He felt really useless right now. This moment was too heartbreaking for both of them, and he could do nothing much to mend Deuce's torn heart. Still, he tried his best to do so, and his arms ended up circling Deuce's back and he initiated a soft, warm embrace for her.
Usually, he would consider things like this as a pure embarrassment, especially if anyone was watching. But this was hardly the time to think so. Deuce needed an immediate cure for her conflicted feelings, and that was what important for now.
"Deuce, I…" Ace pulled her body closer to him. "I understand that feeling very well. No matter how much we denied that, that sort of thing is one of the most possible outcomes in the future. Near future, even."
Ace trailed an arm to soothe her back comfortingly. The brunette's eyes were already bloodshot from her cries, but she could muster a weak nod at his attempt to reassure her. That fact was crueler than anything she ever looked, but it would happen sooner or later.
Not if the person embracing her had his own opinion, of course.
"However, rest assured that everyone always had the same opinion as you. And always have." he sternly added. "No one wants to be away from you, Deuce. We were a team, we are a team, and we'll always be a team."
His hand moved to gently raise her chin up so that she would stare at him, in which he returned with another comforting stare of his own. As light-blue met green, he smiled his best smile yet.
"That includes me, and especially me."
Deuce could only stare at him blankly, until the hand under her chin trailed over to her eyes to wipe the tears away from her beatific face and she unconsciously closed her other eyes reflexively at the sudden touch.
"You were and still are the one that I trust the most. You always protected my back from anything." Ace spoke politely. "I have to admit, I was mostly a failure at leading everyone and I often made reckless choices in our missions."
At that, Deuce almost let out a noticeable gasp to object on his claim, but he simply caressed a finger on her lips before she was able to, destroying all of her intentions to cut his words off.
"But you were there, Deuce." Ace closed his eyes in satisfaction, a relieved sigh followed his previous action. "You always followed me without asking any question. You never disobeyed any order from me, if not every order in general. You always supported everyone with your amazing healing abilities. If not because of you, Mother would probably already too tired to revive any of us anymore. Without you, I wouldn't be here, Deuce."
Time seemed to be slowing when Ace's words came into a halt, and the only thing that accompanied them was the peaceful wind that scrambled the pink petals of the cherry blossom tree.
Once again, the duo exchanged their stares. Deuce's eyes seemed to show how touched she was at his words, while Ace's were unbelievably unreadable.
"That's why," he once again beamed her with his smile. "Let me repay those unending kindness of yours, Deuce. Even if everyone is going to tread their own paths, let me stay by your side."
His words genuinely touched her heart deeper than anything else in the world at that point. Every little bit of her affection for him was about to burst at the exact moment. And Ace only made it harder for her to resist that by tightening his hug on her.
"Even if I have to throw away my dream, I'll be by your side. I want to watch how you paint this gray world to be more colorful by your melodies, together with you."
A single tear trailed down from her right eye. Her arms seemed to be giving up on clenching his chest as they dropped down back to her side, before Deuce circled her arms around Ace's hip, accepting his embrace wholeheartedly.
Ace wasn't finished yet. Truth to be told, he already expressed something that he shouldn't: His feeling for her, even though he only said it subtly. Really, he had planned to confess to her from ages ago, but the situation never befitted him to do so. That includes this one. This way, he was taking advantage of her situation.
And Ace definitely hated it.
But he couldn't swallow what he had already spit. There was no turning back in the end. Thus he was left with no choice but to advance all out.
"I like you, Deuce."
His sudden confession brought Deuce's eyes open in shock, resulting in another line of water fell down her right eye. Although apparently, his stare at her was still as calm and dry as ever, despite a faint blush was now coloring his cheeks.
"As in, really like you." he paused in purpose to let her understand what he was getting at. "More than anyone else."
Now, time had completely stopped. It was as if the whole Oriense only revolved around Ace, Deuce, and their conversation here.
"I love you."
Even worse than before, another stream of waters fell down from both of her eyes. Why was she crying again? He didn't hurt her. If any, he was raising her mood into a level that she never stepped before. Yet, her tears didn't stop, not anytime soon. They kept falling down from her tiny eyes.
Those were happy tears. The happiest one she had ever shed.
"I've been meaning to tell you this since long ago, Deuce." the blonde interrupted. "Yet I was very afraid, you see. Blurting this can only mean that I am risking the bond we've crafted together. I was afraid that you and everyone else would take me as an obsessive traitor, craving for a relationship with you, wanting to make a special bond between us from our familial circles…"
He never meant to make his words so dramatic, but that was the least dramatic sentences he could build.
"I tried to shake away this weird feeling that I underwent every time I found myself spotted you around. I tried to turn a blind eye to that by occupying my mind elsewhere but you; Chocobos, studies, and all that."
"I tried to resort my attention to other female populations in this school," he swallowed a lump in his throat. "Mutsuki, Carla, Asuna of Class Two, even Professor Emina… But it didn't work. They all deserved to be loved by someone better. Someone who didn't pull halfhearted attempts to reach their partners' feelings. Someone who is not me."
"The more I try, the harder I fail to not to think of you. Never for even one second in my life, your image blurred in my mind."
Ace's hand slowly found its nest to Deuce's pure cheek, caressing it gently.
"I personally wish that we could escalate this relationship between us, Deuce."
He had said everything. The line had been crossed, farther than anyone who ever thought. His blushing face was too crimson to not to go unnoticed. Deuce's, in other hand, was expressing her loss of words.
Once again, Ace gulped nervously.
"However, if you consider me taking advantage of your current situation, or you never put me in a position like what I've stated, I'll back down and—"
At that point, his hand dropped back into his side and he almost released his embrace on her.
Because she persistently pulled his body back so that she would be enveloped by that warmth again, just in time.
"Stop it," she buried her face in his chest, a typical girlish giggle followed through her words. "Stop talking like Trey, Ace."
Out of many possible replies that Ace had expected, she let out something that he didn't even consider.
Still, with her face muffled in his arms, he definitely failed to notice the smile on her lips, along with another set of genuinely happy tears. Her grip on his side was now tightening again.
"Just… Don't let go." Deuce softly whispered, her voice was hoarse yet calming. "Stay by my side… Please…"
He… couldn't really say he saw this coming. It was his turn to be left agape. Before Ace even realized it, she lifted her neck a bit so that she was now watching over his face.
"I-I want to stay with Ace," she swiftly pulled an arm to wipe her own tears. "I want to see what you are seeing, I want to listen what you are listening, I… want to feel what you are feeling…"
For the umpteenth times today, green met azure again. Yet the intensities of the look on each other's eyes were triumphantly different. Both of them let each other to dwell into the deepest part of their heart through their eyes.
"I don't want you to throw away your dreams. I want to be one of your many dreams, Ace."
As she said that, her blushes were appearing again on her cheeks. Ace's blushes couldn't even compare to the enormous blushes of shyness that Deuce emitted right now.
"…I want to be with you until the end…"
Her soul was his, and his was hers.
"I love you too."
For a moment, they froze on their spot as her response to his earlier confession echoed. She didn't say anything as long as him, but she hit the main topic just as perfect as he had hit.
A smile soon took Ace's lips as well as Deuce's.
While they released the hug from each other, they intertwined their fingers warmly. They didn't do anything further than that; no kissing, no hugging, and no sweet talking, nothing. They had each other and that was already more than enough for them.
He was always by her side, and she always stayed by his side.
Eight years had passed after their confessions. It was no coincidence, it was only destiny. Their classmates never objected to their relationship. In fact, it was something that they had always expected; the number two to follow the number one closely. She was always the perfect match to him, and vice versa. Their intimate bond never even had a rocky step once, just because they had each other and that was the godliest help they could asked for respectively.
Under the thousands of peaceful clouds, dressed in pure snowy gown with her hands holding tightly on his', Deuce stared lovingly at her eternal partner beneath her veil.
She never picked church as the option. With him, it would always have to be here. The backyard of their old class, only decorated with millions of flowers and a generic wedding arch. The golden generation of Class Zero, close friends, and important others were invited to the place. That way, the place was rather crowded, but familiar faces were beaming with happiness as they accompanied that happiness with clasps. Their presences alone made them very happy already.
He gazed at her with the same tenderness as her, despite the fact that he looked a bit nervous. Dressed in well-maintained formal uniform, Ace hardly changed even after those eight years. While he was still somewhat babyfaced, his handsomeness was so shiny that it was inhuman. Even after she had spent her whole life with him, her feelings never changed. Ace was always the one man that she held dearly in her heart.
A shade of red colored her cheeks as she revealed him her smile to reassure him from his nervousness. He returned her smile with his own as he swallowed the nervous lump in his throat, before the blond slowly opened his mouth to let the crowds hear his undying oath for her.
He always loved her, and she always loved him back.
"It's time to dance. I'll forget about time and dance the eternal waltz with you."
~ Masquerade!, Kana Hanazawa
That being said, next chapter of Phantasm of Oriense is still in progress, so I hope you guys can be a little more patient. Do give me a feedback for this one.
Oh, by the way, my lecturer gave me A for this one. Don't really wanna brag, but I am quite proud of this one.