/casually leaves this here and then dashes off into the wilderness
Direct continuation from last chapter. Enjoy?
*Note: Alas, in the year I've been absent, I was unable to acquire the rights to the Fire Emblem franchise.
*EDIT: I have had so much trouble uploading this chapter, I'm sorry guys, I am apparently incapable of working this site anymore. It should be good now. /lies down
There is silence. Chrom can't hear the gentle flow of the river before them, or the rustle of the trees nearby, just as he can't see anything, can't focus on anything but those bright yellow eyes. He wants to look away, but he can't. His armor is suddenly too heavy for him to move, and he's pinned, assessed, trapped under Grima's gaze, unable to breathe, or think, or properly answer the question that was asked of him.
"You love me, don't you Chrom? More than anyone in the world?"
The lips that it came from are the same ones that he knows. They are Cat's lips, pale, and thin, and a little bit chapped due to the cold. Chrom wants to focus on them, wants to look anywhere else, but those eyes that are not Cat's won't let him. Grima won't release him until he's heard what he wants to hear, and Chrom knows this, innately, just as he knows that the answer is no,that he doesn't love anyone but Cat.
This creature in front of him is not Cat, he thinks.
Even if Grima wears the same skin, even if Cat has always borne his markings, even if there's never been any promises or assurance between them, even if neither of them ever really knew.
Cat is Cat as Cat is to ink, and Chrom refuses to think otherwise, refuses to paint Grima into the picture, because no.
He swallows, gaze hardening, and opens his mouth to speak, to say what he wants to, but…
Then those eyes flicker black for a moment—an instant, at most. Though it doesn't last, it's long enough to distract Chrom, make him drop his guard, heart fluttering helplessly in his chest, and Grima's smile widens. He leans in, suddenly, snaking an arm around Chrom's neck, and kisses him.
The same lips, the same skin, the same faint scent of grass laced by something that is undeniably male… Chrom can't help it, the way his eyes shut involuntarily, the way his breath leaves him as if to make space for something, the way he feels perfectly at ease here, kissing Cat, the one he…
He flinches, puts a hand against the other's chest and breaks the kiss, puts space between him and this thing."Cat?" he asks again, helplessly. He knows that he's not talking to Cat right now, knows that this can't be true, but he can't help but ask for the other anyway, can't help but hope.Cat,he thinks. Cat, where are you?He swallows thickly, turning the inches between them into a foot at least, scooting awkwardly across the grass and moving as if to stand.
But what are you doing?he thinks suddenly. He can't run away…
This body in front of him is still Cat; still his raven-haired tactician, bright, and warm, despite the fact that he's always grumbling about one thing or another, loving and pliable, despite how flustered and standoffish he can be about it all—the only one that Chrom has ever felt rightsleeping beside at night. What are you doing? You can't run away and leave him…
Chrom falters, hesitates.
Grima laughs, leaning back on one hand and watching him. "Oh, you are a fun one," he says, in a soft voice.
Chrom hates it; there is something wrong with that voice, and he doesn't want to hear it come from those lips… "What are you?" he asks, without thinking. "What have you done with Cat?"
"Hm?" Grima tilts his head to the side, eyes shining. "Come now, Chrom. You know the answer already." And then his smile stretches into a wolfish grin. "I am Cat."
No, no, no, no—
"—No." Chrom is shaking his head, a little desperately. He cannot accept this, cannot comprehend that this is happening, cannot make his heart stop thudding away in his chest, because… "You're not," he insists. "You're not him. You're… You're the monster that tried to destroy the entire world, you're—"
Grima's smile falters suddenly, twists into a sharp frown. "Be silent," he cuts in, and for an instant, his voice is darker, heavier, laced with something lethal that makes Chrom shut his mouth. "You know not what you say."
There is power in the words; dark power, the same that now rolls off of Cat, laces the air around them. For a moment, it's enough to make Chrom pause, enough to make him hesitate and lose his nerve, because he is dealing with a godhere, he knows, but at the same time… He presses his lips together and stands, looks down at the other, brow knit into a tight look, determination. Ah, human determination. Chrom wraps his hand around the hilt of Falchion, purposefully, and lowers his stance, actually prepares for a fight. "Beast…"
Grima stares at him for a moment, and then blinks, cracks again, wants to laugh. "Ha! Do you intend to kill me, Chrom?"
The words jab deep into the pit of Chrom's stomach, lancing through him like lightning. He blinks once, lips parting, as he stares down into his beloved's face.
Those eyes have darkened once again, but it's nothing but a game, nothing but Grima pulling strings.
Cat is to Grima as Grima is to Cat…
Somewhere, the realization of what this means, the realization of how fragile the other is, cuts through him like a blade through flesh. Does he intend to kill him? Does he intend to kill Cat? He promised to. Cat made him promise, and he can still hear his words, echoing over and over in his head…
"If he takes over, Chrom… If he takes over my body again and tries to hurt someone… Please… Promise me you'll do it. Promise me you'll be the one to kill me."
Chrom didn't want to hear it then, and he doesn't want to hear it now. He grits his teeth, knuckles curling white around the hilt of his sword, sapphire eyes flickering with the conflict plain on his face. Does he intend to kill him? He sees Cat for a moment, sees that white skin and that perfect face of his, that natural careful air he has, those walls that only Chrom has ever managed to break through…
He feels like it's all collapsing, like he's buried alive in the rubble.
But he has to be strong, he thinks. For both of them.
"Cat," he says again—and this time it isn't a question, it's a plea. "Cat, please…" Shoulders tensing as he grips Falchion a little tighter, Chrom swallows. He wants to grab the other, wants to shake him by the shoulders, but he can't seem to pull his hands away from his sword. "Please…" And that same desperation is leaking into his voice. "Please don't let him take over!" The same edge that lined his words when Cat was having migraines, when he bent over his desk and refused to meet Chrom's eyes.
The time he lay with his head cradled in Chrom's lap, life bleeding out of him with every second that raced by.
The desperation he feels for no oneelse.
"Please, Cat." He keeps asking over and over again—please, please please. Chrom takes a step forward, wavering on the edge. "Please come back to me…"
Please don't leave.
I can't lead this army without you.
Grima regards him with the disinterest of one observing an ant, eyelids half-lidded as he leans back on his palms. He still hasn't bothered to rise, but as Chrom bares the slightest bit of Falchion's blade, his eyes flicker down to the metal and he finally climbs to his feet.
For a long moment, both of them are still.
Then, slowly, those eyes fade from yellow to black, darkening and growing warm at the same time, softening into a look that makes Chrom bite the inside of his lip. This is all a game,the lord thinks. It's all a game, but… despite himself, he can feel it, the way his chest relaxes and he can breathe again. Cat…The metal in his hands suddenly feels so heavy, and he knows, he knows, he knowsthat when the other looks at him like that,he won't be able to do it.
His head is pounding, his heart is stinging, and he doesn't know anymore, he doesn't know what to trust. Grima, Fell Dragon, Cat… One and the same.One and the same?!Chrom's hardly aware of his heart hammering against his ribcage because he's too preoccupied with the way his stomach drops. He opens his mouth, but no sound comes out, and he can't even move as the other walks towards him, one hand coming up to gently cup his jaw.
Grima whispers into his ear;
... So it's been a while. Yeah. I really don't have much to say, but I'm still alive and writing this thing occasionally.
This chapter actually was influenced a lot by some personal stuff that happened to me recently, so I apologize if it's a little weird? It was quite therapeutic to write, though.
I hope ya'll enjoyed.