Challenge Thingie - First Line: "Let Me Tell You About the Best Day of My Life..."

Summary: A comedy of misunderstanding. Also, alcohol. Lots of alcohol. And a good, old-fashioned chase scene.

I am an insane Amarant/Freya 'shipper, and so that pairing will be hinted at. A lot. I am also a slightly less insane Beatrix/Steiner 'shipper, and that pairing is, in fact, a large part of this story.

One final note: this story was not meant to degrade any of the characters involved. It was just a fun bit of insanity, and I ask that anyone who reads it take it as such. I mean, feel free to flame if you still must, but I hope that you will keep this note in mind. I think the only one that anyone will find as being glaringly out of character is Beatrix. I'm sorry! I just have no idea how to write her! Aside from 'perfect in every way.' And, of course, that would bore the hell out of me, so I had to give her an insane temper for this piece. If you like, assume that she's had a really, really crappy day.

"Let me tell you about the best day of my life," Steiner sniffled before sobbing violently into his beer.

"Erm...alright," Freya agreed hesitantly, shaking her head at her remarkably bad timing. Why, oh why, had she decided that she needed a drink at just this moment, in this particular bar? Why hadn't she opted for a nap first, or to go instead to the Monkey and Whistle down the street?

"It was my wedding-day. Or, what was to be my wedding-day, at any rate."

"Oh, really? I'm sorry," Freya murmured uncertainly. Of course, she had heard of the last-minute cancellation of the wedding between Adelbert Steiner and Beatrix, and had been as shocked as anyone else, at the time dying to know more of why it had happened. To hear the tale from a weepy, depressed Steiner, though, was a daunting thought.

"Don't be sorry," he commanded weakly, wiping his eyes on his metal sleeve, and then weeping more bitterly as this plan failed miserably. Without a word, Freya withdrew a handkerchief from her jacket and handed it to the sobbing man. Accepting it with a grateful sniffle, Steiner gave her a watery smile and continued. "There was nothing to be done about it, by you or anyone else."

After a pause, during which Freya waved down one of the serving girls and requested a mug of ale in the largest size the place offered - gods knew, she'd need it in about two minutes - the knight glanced sideways at her, almost resentfully.

"I suppose you are going to ask what happened?"

"No, but I'd stake my reputation on the fact that you're going to tell me," Freya murmured, then turned to him with a sympathetic smile. No use in hurting the man's feelings. Being told to shut up, even by a friend who had been a tentative one at best, would certainly do just that. "So, what did happen, then?"

"It was just before the ceremony was to begin. I was trying to tie my tie, when in ran Beatrix, looking a true vision of loveliness in layers of white tulle and lace..." His eyes grew shiny and wistful, and Freya had the uncomfortable sensation that he had completely forgotten that she was there at all. Before her brain could chime in that it would be an ideal time to take off, her mouth started in, seemingly against her will.

"Erm...Steiner? What happened from there?"

"What? Oh, yes; so, in came Beatrix, in quite a panic. It seemed that the champagne had not been delivered yet, and word had come that it likely would not until tomorrow."

He fell silent, and Freya began to ask how this had lead to the cancelling of a wedding, when he continued.

"And the chickens had spoiled."

"Oh, my. Well, that..."

"And the cheese had gone bad, the flowers had been stolen, the priest had skipped town decked out in roses and lilies, and three of the bridesmaids were in bed with food poisoning."

"Oh, dear."

"Yes. Beatrix then told me that she wished to postpone the wedding until things could be set to rights. Gods, if I had known then that my next words would anger her so, I never would have spoke them..."

"Oh, lord. What did you say?"

"I said, 'Beatrix, my silly little love-'"

Freya groaned in dismay, knowing full well how a strong, independent woman must have taken being called anybody's 'silly little love,' particularly during such a tense moment.

"'-is it really necessary? Why, all the guests are already assembled! It may not turn out quite as we have planned, but food is not what is important! This is our wedding day, and we love each other dearly. That we shall from now on be joined in the blessed union of marriage is what really matters!'"

Reaching for her mug of ale, the Burmecian choked back a laugh.

" did she reply?"

Steiner heaved a long sigh, his head dropping forward to his hand.

"She simply crossed her arms and glared at me. Then she said, 'Are you finished?' And then she proceeded to tell me that I may not care a whit for appearance or propriety, but that she didn't mean to be faced with the lawsuits of seventy-five poisoned guests simply because I couldn't wait to get into her bed-chamber!"

Having made a most unfortunate decision to take a long sip of her drink as Steiner began this speech, Freya found herself choking and sputtering for air in a most undignified manner, as she had been quite unable to hold back a shout of laughter at the man's aggrieved expression. He stared at her, quite aghast.

"Lady Freya, are you quite alright?"

"Fine, fine," she gasped, waving away any assistance and withdrawing another handkerchief from her pocket. Now she knew why she had felt a strange premonition that she would need more than one... "Go on. Please tell me you didn't spout any rubbish to her about being as willing to wait twenty years to consummate your love as twenty minutes."

"Uhm...why? Is that bad?"

"You didn't," she groaned in disbelief. Steiner nodded mutely. Rolling her eyes, Freya turned to face him.

"She had just found out that half the wedding supper was rotted, the other half wouldn't arrive until the following day, the better portion of the bridal party was at home leaning over a chamber pot, AND the priest had run off, but not before turning transvestite, to all of which you replied, 'well, let's go ahead with it anyway,' and then you blithely claimed to her that you were more than willing to wait?! Are you totally out of your mind?"

"I am out of my mind with worry that she will never again speak to me!"

"Poor Beatrix," Freya murmured ironically. "Of course she will. You've got to give her time, though. How long ago did all this happen? A month?"

"A month, a week, two days, and fourteen hours," Steiner replied automatically.

"How many seconds?" she inquired sarcastically, and was thus quite taken aback when he sighed and answered,


"Oh, enough!" She rubbed her forehead wearily. "Steiner, I don't know what to tell you."

"You needn't tell me anything. I know I am a fool. I simply wish that the price of my foolishness needn't have been so high."

'He loves his melodrama,' she thought with an inward smirk. She was spared from further comment, either mental or out loud, by a startled gasp behind her, and turned out of a mild curiosity as to who had been upset and what had happened. Upon turning, her gaze lit directly upon the angrily blazing eyes of none other than General Beatrix. Little of the woman's attention was spared for her, though, aside from a freezing glare, after which she turned to glare at an equally bewildered Steiner.

"Beatrix! My love! What are-"

"Oh, you have some nerve calling me that, you overgrown rust-bucket! It hasn't even been two months, and already you're chasing after any and every female in the vicinity?!"

"Chasing...females...vicinity...?" Steiner repeated blankly. "Oh, no, my dear! We are simply good friends!"

"Friends?" Freya echoed. "When did that happen? Does 'friends' mean 'one who will carry on like a broken record, and one who will sit and pretend to listen to this great deal of whining?'"

She was quite ignored by both the furious woman scowling darkly at the bewildered man, and by the bewildered man gazing entreatingly at the furious woman.

"And even if you had to begin chasing other women, could you not have stuck to humans?" the aforementioned furious woman demanded, quite predictably, furiously.

"Oh, gods..." Freya murmured, looking decidedly nauseous at the mere idea of being 'chased' by Steiner. "Well! I think I've about had about as much as I can stand for one evening!"

"Oh, your evening is just beginning," Beatrix informed her with a deadly sort of calm, drawing ominously closer and reaching instinctively for her sword.

"And that is what is known in the theatre business as my cue. Good night, you two, and good luck working out those differences."

With that, Freya, being fairly high on the intelligence scale, leapt up and bolted for the door.

"I don't think so!" Beatrix shouted after her, already in hot pursuit. "I took out hundreds of you rat-people! One more certainly isn't anything significant!"

"Beatrix! Darling! You have misunderstood completely! Please come back," Steiner entreated, jumping to his feet and providing a rather rusty rear for the impromptu parade.

'Hmph. I've been standing in this alley, leaning against this brick wall, for about an hour now, and I have no idea why,' Amarant reflected. 'This damn city must be getting to me. I hate Alexandria. Everyone here is insane, like that hippo guy...and that Alleyway Steve guy...Damn it, if one more bizarre spectacle happens past, I'm going to throw something so far, it hits its own shadow! Rrr!'

Then he stopped and shook his head.

'Scratch that last part. 'Rrr?' What in the hell was I thinking?'

Then he sighed and glanced about at the darkened alley.

'Y'know, I should probably think about moving. My back is going numb from all this damn leaning. You'd think I'd be used to it...'

However, just as he made a move to push off from the wall, he was knocked back against it by a red-and-white streak shooting past at a speed that nearly tore out one of his numerous dreadlocks by the roots.

'Uh...was that what I think it was?"

Amarant had little time to ponder this, though, as, the moment he began to lean forward to peer after the little comet, he was shoved face-first back into the wall by a pink-and-white-and-caramel-brown streak shooting past, screaming as it went,


He sighed. Apparently, it had been exactly what he thought.

'Damn. I hate it when I'm right. Eh, I guess I'd better go help the rat. She probably damn well needs it, if the speed she was keeping up was any indication.'

But, as Amarant once more made a move to peel himself from the wall, at the same time making a mental note to later inquire as to the reasons of the odd nickname that she had been bestowed with, he was slammed back against it by a third streak, this one distinctly silvery, creating a nice tamourinesque effect as it shot past, howling,

"BEATRIX! CALM YOURSELF, MY LOVE!!!" in time to the clanking.

'Well...this is shaping up to be one hell of a night,' the redhead thought to himself, a hint of a smile playing about the corners of his mouth. 'I wonder if they'll come back this way...'

Until then, he would bide his time. Folding his arms, he leaned back against the wall, all thoughts of leaving the alley suddenly gone from his mind. After somewhere around two minutes (perhaps slightly less) a sound distinctly like the pounding of feet (well, claws, at any rate) gradually increased in volume. Upon spying a dot of red approaching quickly, Amarant nodded in satisfaction.

'That's it! If I get out of this alive, I am NEVER coming within four hundred leagues of Alexandria again,' Freya decided as she sprinted through the streets of the city, lit only by the lamps hung in the fronts of this shop or that. 'Ever! Even if that means having to live somewhere in the middle of the bloody ocean! It would have to better for a person's health than this! What in the world could she be thinking, anyway? Who in their right mind would show the slightest interest in Steiner - oh, right. I suppose she would. Oh, when will this end? All I want is to go calmly and sensibly to sleep! Is that so much to ask? I didn't think so, but instead, I must be chased all over this city by an insane general, who is hell-bent on believing that I am out for her man! Arrrggghhh!'

This last thought, the 'arrrggghhh' one, was inspired by the sensation that, although her legs were still moving, she was no longer making any progress, and seemed, instead, to be slipping backwards and off to the side. Then it occurred to her that there was a large hand grasping the back of her collar. And finally, it occurred to her that a voice decidedly not her own had just spoken.

'Oh, has Beatrix already got men out for my life?'

"Uh...rat? You gonna answer me?"

She turned, then blinked.


"That's what it says on my underwear," he would have replied, had it not been a totally absurd response. It was, however, and so his only reply was a sort of grunt.

She was distracted from further question, and he from answering them, even if they had been asked, by the same pink-and-white-and-caramel-brown streak shooting past, followed by the silver one, that Amarant had earlier seen. Apparently, neither noticed that the main object of the happy little chase scene was no longer there.

Amarant shook his head, and Freya could have sworn that he was fighting back laughter as he repeated his question.

"What did you do to them, anyway?"

"Would you believe 'nothing?'" she replied, sighing wearily.

"I'd believe it, but then I'd ask, 'what do they think you did to them?'"

"Oh, lord, this is so embarrassing," she groaned, rubbing her forehead.

He raised an eyebrow.


"...Beatrix was somehow given the impression that I am 'out for her man.'"

A moment of stunned silence.

"You're...kidding, right?"

She shook her head miserably, and stared up at him, in mild shock, as he began, quietly at first, to laugh, the deep rumble gradually growing louder until he was gasping for breath amid howls of laughter.

"Well, I certainly don't think it's that funny!" she exclaimed, offended and outraged. "I'm glad, though, that someone can glean some amusement from my hardships."

"Shit," he finally chuckled, wiping the tears from the corners of his eyes. "I guess you're hating this damn place about now."

"You've no idea," she intoned darkly. He shrugged, pushing away from the cold brick of the side of the building.

"I doubt that. Well, c'mon."

"Where are we going?"

"I don't know. But anywhere's gotta be better than standing in an alley close to midnight, right?"

"I suppose you're right," she admitted, following him to the end of the alley.

"And when we get there, maybe you can tell me the rest of this damn tale of woe."

" walked into a tavern, only to be greeted by the sight of Steiner, crying into his beer, and when you tried to slip out unobtrusively, he waved you over. After listening to the sob-story of how his wedding came to be cancelled, you turned around to see Beatrix, glaring black death at you. Two minutes later, you were running for your life."

"Essentially," she sighed. Amarant shook his head.

"How in the hell did you manage to get yourself into this?" he demanded.

"Just lucky, I guess," she replied with a small smile. Amarant chuckled, then stopped abruptly.

"Hey, rat, what tavern did you say you ran into Steiner at?"

"I...think it was the Tonberry and Chocobo."

"So, the one we're in."

"Er, yes."

"So, it wouldn't be too out there to expect that they might come back here to find you, right?"

"I suppose not - why?"

"Turn around. But be inconspicuous."

She turned just in time to see Beatrix slip in and cast a searching gaze about the dimly-lit establishment. Seconds later, the poor abused tavern door was almost torn from its hinges as Steiner hurled himself into the room after her. He caught her by the shoulders and whirled her about. From here, it looked as though another argument had begun.

"Oh, hell! Why me?!" Freya exclaimed, flopping face-first down over the bar.

"Yeah, that's about as inconspicuous as you can get," Amarant noted mildly, awkwardly rubbing her back. "Doesn't look like they noticed, though."

"Thank the gods for small miracles, anyway," Freya began to say, but was quite cut off by an angry shriek of, "YOU!!! I KILL YOU!!!"

"And damn the gods for things like this," she added before ducking out of the way of the Beatrix-comet hurtling across the tavern, directly at her. From here, upon regaining her bearings, she bolted out the door, followed closely by the aforementioned Beatrix-comet.

Huffing and puffing, Steiner jogged across the room and came to a halt next to Amarant.

"Oh! Good evening, Amarant," he greeted the tall redhead with a brief smile as both changed direction to leave the tavern.

"Uh...yeah. Think we should try to stop this?"

"I think, my friend, that we ought to simply let them fight it out."

"I don't know if you've noticed," Amarant began, rolling his eyes, "but it's not exactly a two-way fight. Or even a particularly fair fight, if it were."

"I suppose you are right," Steiner admitted.

"You're awfully calm about this," the bounty-hunter noted, one eyebrow lifting suspiciously. "You have this happen a lot?"

"Have women fight over me? It is not an unknown occurrence, and I have long suspected that Freya might have a slight...crush on me. Girls often do on older men, you know. It is simply something that must be gotten over in time."

"You...are joking, right?" Amarant demanded, uncertain of whether to laugh or to pound the man into dust.

"And just why would I be joking? Is it such an insane idea that a woman might be attracted to me?"

"Yes," Amarant replied immediately.

"Oh, and you're one to talk!"

"Hey, at least I have fangirls!"

"So do I! This very author is something of a me-fangirl!"

"Yeah, but we all know what an idiot Rhianwen is," Amarant reminded him with a smirk, only to be struck by a well-placed lightning bolt a mere two seconds later. We are glad to report that he has since learned to keep his mouth shut about such things. "...Ow," he muttered.

Freya paused in the act of running for her life to toss a Phoenix Down his way. Then, upon noticing that the two men had begun something of a conflict of their own, she frowned.

"What do you think they're fighting about?" she called to Beatrix.

"I have no idea," Beatrix admitted, shaking her head sadly. "And where did that lightning come from? Shall we call a truce until we get this worked out?"

"It seems a good idea."

After shaking on it, the two women edged their way over to the fence where the men were shouting all manner of insults at one another.

"Adelbert, love," Beatrix purred to the be-armoured man. "What exactly are you two arguing about?"

"Beatrix!" Steiner exclaimed, delighted by the tender epithet. "Have you finally decided to forgive me?"

"I haven't quite decided yet," she admitted. "I was, but now there's the little matter of your hanging about taverns with random women."

"ARGH!!!" Freya howled, utterly uncharacteristically, but so far past the end of her tether that she no longer seemed to care. Steiner, Beatrix, and Amarant all stared in consternation and shock at the furious woman. "Will you get it through your head that I AM NOT AFTER THAT WHINING, WALKING RUST BUCKET?!!!! By the gods, the mere idea makes me nauseous!"

"Ah. Yeah, she's pining, alright," Amarant muttered under his breath with a smirk. Steiner froze, glanced nervously at the two women to make sure that neither had heard, and then turned to Amarant, inconspicuously making the universal sign of 'Shut UUUP!' After all, the very last thing he needed for either of them to hear the redhead's remark, demand what exactly it meant, and then chase him around, trying to end his life, accordingly.

Fortunately, Freya had been too busy ranting and Beatrix too busy nervously backing away in an amusing show of role-reversal, for either to have paid either of the men any mind.

Doubtlessly, both the ranting and the backing away would have continued long into the night, had Amarant not decided at precisely that moment that he had had about enough of this. He did, however, decide, and so he stepped forward, wrapped a hand around each of Freya's shoulders, and held her firmly in place. Then he glared at Beatrix, then at Steiner, and then spoke, in quite calmer a tone than had been heard amongst the three in quite a few pages.

"Alright, this ends here. You're all acting like idiots, and I hope you know that. You two," he nodded to Steiner and Beatrix, "you're gonna go somewhere not in public, and you're gonna work out whatever's crawled up your asses right now."

Then he spun Freya about, let go of her shoulders, crossed his arms, and peered down at her, one eyebrow presumably raised.

"And you? Where are you staying tonight? I don't imagine it's at the castle..."

"N-no, I'm just across the street in the inn."

"Good. S'where I am, too. We're gonna go back there, I'm gonna get my stuff from my room and check out, and then we're going to your room."


He smirked, turning and staring toward the small building, calling over his shoulder,

"Because right now, I don't trust you not to kill the first person that gets in your way. And you've been on the run from this place's law enforcement enough tonight."

She fell silent, considering this. Then, with a shrug, she followed him.

Steiner watched, dumbfounded, as the two set off together.

"Wh-what was that all about?" he asked, turning to Beatrix.

She merely smiled knowingly and shook her head.

"It doesn't matter. Now," she continued, stepping closer to him, "weren't we supposed to go somewhere private to...discuss something?"

Their eyes met. Each grinned at the other. Then, hand-in-hand, they sped off through the darkened streets of Alexandria like a pair of children, with several decidedly un-childlike thoughts running through their minds.