Chapter 5

Awake Too Long

She couldn't sleep. She was so confused and heartbroken that she couldn't focus on one thing that night to bring her the peace of rest that she longed for.

Gaius had been a perfect friend to her. He had lent her his shoulder the night that Robin had proposed to Cordelia, he had offered her countless sweets, and he had saved her skin from the occasional Risen archer from time to time. They had fought together often and there was no reason for her trust to be misplaced.

No, she reminded herself, thieves, no matter who they are, never change... The sooner I leave Ylisstol, the better. I need to distance myself from him.

Yet, she continued to fight herself over the matter. What if Gaius isn't like all of the other thieves I've encountered before? What if he was right and my job is more important than my friends?...

Her job WAS her life, after all. It was an integral part of her personality and her psyche. Each human has a job to do in life, some were warriors, some were healers, some leaders, some farmers, and her group the merchants. She couldn't abandon what she was required to do, could she? But then again, was it truly a requirement to punish those who had already been punished?

She groaned.

She turned onto her other side, hoping to find some hidden sweet spot on her mattress that would send her to the land of dreams.

Unfortunately, this reminded her of the dream... She loathed that dream...

Gaius was in a similar dilemma. He stared at his fixed ceiling from his hammock. What had he done differently in the other time to not get caught? He didn't remember the job as well as he thought, but he remembered the bulk of it...

"Listen, this is important to me, pal."

"I KNOW it is. I already told you that I'd steal the jewelry box, okay?"

They shook hands and Gaius was somewhat disappointed that he wasn't getting paid for a job like this, but he owed his buddy a favor and he wasn't about to break the fragile trust they had. Trust between thieves was a hard commodity to come by nowadays. After the man gave Gaius the address, he snuck back out of the alleyway they had been speaking in.

Gaius remembered finding the house and remembering the shape it was in. It was just a simple farmhouse in the country and a little run down from the looks of it. Then he remembered the choice he made, one that the other Gaius probably didn't make.

The house was only occupied by one old man and his dog. He had been told that, if necessary, he could kill the man and no one would chase him because no one cared about this simple old man in a farmhouse in the countryside. While Gaius knew that he probably wouldn't have to, he had a dagger with him in case things went south.

He was told that the man went to bed around 9 o'clock at night. Gaius would wait until midnight to sneak in and take the jewelry box from his bedside table.

When midnight hit, he snuck in through the back door. The dog was a little hard to sneak past, but Gaius soon got around the passed-out pup. He made his way upstairs to the room where he found both the old man and the jewelry box. He was able to get the box with ease, but on his way out, he accidentally tripped over a loose floorboard. The old man awoke to the disturbance. Seeing Gaius, he froze.

'He's seen my face', Gaius thought to himself, 'If I manage to escape, I will have a bounty on my head.'

They were both frozen solid. Gaius slowly reached for his dagger, but seeing the fragility of this old man, he couldn't bring himself to take an innocent life. He wasn't a murderer, and money was not worth the life of this man.

Gaius pulled out his dagger and dropped it on the ground. The man looked at him with a perplexed look on his face.

Gaius remembered being hauled away. This would've been the only way that his friend would accept his failure. He just couldn't bring himself to take the box or hurt the man.

He was thrown in the Ylisstol jail and was branded. He remembered the pain. It hurt like hell. Being in that dungeon was rough, but he wasn't in it for long.

The old man, named Porthos, had visited him every other day. Porthos didn't know many people. His wife had passed away two years ago and his two sons, Aramis and Athos, twins, had been kidnapped at an early age and taken across the Long Sea. He only had his dog as company.

Gaius became friends with the man and with his help, was bailed out. He was released to help the old man get back on his feet and help out around the house with simple repairs.

A few months later, Porthos was on his deathbed. Gaius was at his side. Porthos told him to take everything the man had, including the jewelry box, and asked him to watch the dog for him.

After Porthos had passed, Gaius buried his body, being Porthos' only friend. He took the gold that Porthos had left him, but left the jewelry box on the nightstand. It had caused a lot of problems for him, so why should he have taken it? He didn't even want whatever was inside of it. He'd lived this long without it...but what if he had taken it...?

"That's it!" Gaius exclaimed after recounting the whole tale, "The Gaius of the other time must have killed Porthos!..." He became saddened by the thought, "...was I really that shallow...?"

He sat up and checked on his dog who had been trying to find a good place to sleep for the night. "Why doesn't that dumb dog sit on the pillow I made for it?" He asked himself. He loved the dog because he was a reminder to Gaius of the time with Porthos.

He stood up from his hammock. He decided that he just needed a little walk around the block or something to clear his head.

As he walked around, he thought of ways to get back in good graces with Anna. I guess there isn't a lot that I can do... he thought to himself, I could try to sweeten her disposition with a candy? Nah, she'd just say that nothing has changed. Gods, this is going to be rough...

Insomnia rarely affects only one individual. Aaron also found himself walking the empty streets of Ylisstol. His mother and father, both met on the same day, had both seemed different. His father, specifically, seemed the most different of the two. He didn't know much about him because he left home when Aaron was young, and Anna didn't speak badly of him because she truly believed he would return... But from what he had heard from the other Shepherds, Gaius was a deceitful individual; only seeking what is best for himself. This Gaius, however... Aaron couldn't put his finger on it. The mark was DEFINITELY different. His own father was too cunning to allow himself to be caught. The only thing he remembered of his father's words was this, "Son, when you face Death himself, cheat him out of a deal with your soul by diversion..." or something like that. He always had a plan B, and a plan C if plan B went for the worse. I thought that my father was one of the greatest thieves of all time...

Aaron was passing the Shepherd's barracks when he heard a commotion coming from one of the buildings. He snuck across the perimeter, where three young men were standing and arguing about something. They didn't notice him and he made his way to a building where he heard two mean in a wrestling match. It subsided and the two men spoke to each other, one was more frantic than the other. "Get the Exalt himself!" He practically yelled.

The two men exited the building and rushed to the castle. Aaron decided to tail them and find out what the commotion was all about.

From what he could tell, Raphael, the son of Priam and Say'ri, had been taken by the Grimleal and the New Shepherds were trying to gather an army to rescue him. They had met in the mess tent.

When Aaron walked to the opening of the tent, he noticed Owain standing on the table shouting something about saving Raphael. At least, that's what Aaron had assumed. He could never understand what Owain was always babbling on about, but .

"I shall assist in the rescue of Raphael, with my legendary blade, Mystletainn in my hands. No Grimleal servant can hide from the wrath of Owain Dark and his companions in arms-"

"Thank you, Owain, for volunteering." Lucina said with a nod. "Anyone else?"

"Count me in." Aaron shouted from the entrance.

The others turned to see what face belonged to that voice, and they all froze for a few seconds.

"Aaron?!" They all said in unison.

Aaron had his own reason for assisting them, but he wanted to keep his swindler facade in tact. "Raph has an I.O.U. that I never cashed in on, and I don't want him to die before he repays his debt." He said with a smirk.

He walked forward toward Lucina while carrying his special suitcase, but as he drew close, Severa snapped.

"Where have you been?!" She yelled, "We were supposed to stay together! You left me in the Plegian deserts, you dastard!" She unsheathed her sword and charged at him. He had not expected this kind of a reaction from Severa, but it was probably his own fault. Fortunately for Aaron, Gerome intervened by grabbing her by her sword arm as she got close.

"Save your strength for the enemy, Severa." Gerome said subtlely.

She continued to try to squirm free of Gerome's wyvern-tried grip, but with no success.

"I wasn't going to hurt him…" She huffed. She returned her glare at Aaron, "…badly."

"Aaron, what are you doing here?" Lucina asked, "I thought that you would just want to live for yourself when we got here."

He thought quickly and forced a laugh, "Who says I wasn't?"

He reached down into his suitcase and grabbed any random parchment he could find and fabricated a story about it.

"This document that I obtained from a Plegian who was trying to rob supplies from me says that the Plegian treasury was never touched when you guys killed Validar. I think someone needs to do a little cleaning in there." He put the paper back into his suitcase and closed it. "Helping Raphael is just an added benefit to this expedition."

"Helping Raphael is the priority, Aaron!" Lucina said in anger, "If your priority is for yourself, then travel by yourself!"

"Sheesh, Princess. Chill!" Aaron said, "I'll help you get Raph out, then I'll rob. 'Kay? Sound good?"

Lucina rubbed her forehead and sighed, "Yes, Aaron…"

Why do I need to keep up this facade? Is this the man I want to be? Like my father...? Soon, a meeting was held about Raphael's rescue and he left with the other New Shepherds...

HEY!...Good to be back in tha saddle! I am EXTREMELY sorry for the long wait. I have been excruciatingly busy. But anyway, about the story...

This might be the last time Aaron appears in this fanfic. I knew that the transition to The Warrior's Way would be hard, but if all goes well, it should be good. If some elements of this story confuse you, check out my other story, The Warrior's Way, for more information. The rest of this story is going to be all about Anna fighting herself about Gaius and seeking wisdom from Tiki, but seeing as I write my stories somewhat instantaneously, whatever good idea pops into my head will be implemented somehow. So as long as I keep a clear head, this story will remain like it is right now; showing Gaius's thoughts and Anna's thoughts. If you want more Aaron, read The Warrior's Way (Wow, that totally wasn't a sales pitch...)

Also...Aramis and Athos... #plottwist

'Til the next time I post, please Fav, Follow, or Review. Of all of these, I love reviews the most because they can help me get an understanding of what y'all want to see in a story. So if you want a better story, DON'T HOLD BACK.

Thanks again for taking time out of your day to read this. It means a lot!