Never “Just” Friends

Never “Just” Friends

A short story written as part of #talesofsanta.  You can also find it on my tumblr (lessiehanamoray).  Hope people enjoy.

 


 

Elysia sparkled.  Flickering flames hovered around the homes and lit the paths.  Earthen lanterns lined the paths, encasing the flames so they wouldn’t burn anyone who strayed.  Wind danced among the skybound fire, causing it to flicker and dance.  It even seemed to drift the flame away from anyone who wandered near.  The light reflected off of intricate ice sculptures and well-placed icicles.

The stars above shone like iris gems.  Indeed, their reflection in the snow below seemed to call out to long forgotten memories.

Sorey stared, an open-mouthed grin on his face.  He had seen the fire lights before.  The fire seraphim put them up on winter nights to help keep the town warm.  Sorey had never seen them used so artistically before.

“Yeesh, it’s really decked out,” Rose remarked beside him.

Sorey nodded eagerly.

Mikleo manifested beside him.  “I’ve never seen them use this many artes for decoration before.”

“Yeah.”

“Seems like overkill, if you ask me,” Edna grumbled, materializing just ahead of them.  She lightly twirled her umbrella, the out snowflake pattern catching the starlight and sending out a dazzling array around her.

Zaveid popped up just behind Rose and Sorey.  “Pretty awesome if you ask me.  It’s not often you get to see so many seraphic artes used in unison.”

Lailah appeared beside Edna.  “It certainly is breathtaking, isn’t it?”

“Then what are we waiting for?”  Rose marched towards the gates of Elysia.  “I wanna go talk to this gramps of yours.”

The party followed her through the gates. Upon crossing the threshold, the spells which marked Gramp’s domain, and hid the seraphim of the village, lost its effect.  The seraphim of Elysia appeared before them, standing in the central area of town.

Slightly in front of most of the town stood Gramps and…

“Alisha!” Sorey exclaimed.

The princess bowed.  “It’s good to see you again, Sorey.”

“Definitely but…”  Wasn’t she busy?  He paused, looking at her with his mouth slightly agape.

“I received a message requesting I return here,” Alisha explained.

“Can Princess Alisha see seraphim too?” Rose queried.

Edna jabbed Rose with her umbrella.

“Hey, what was that for?” Rose complained, skipping a bit away from the dangerous umbrella.  She’d seen enough hellions go down to Edna’s umbrella wrath.

“She needs to draw from Sorey’s power to see us,” Lailah explained softly in an attempt to quell the commotion before the whole village noticed.  Better the Shepard’s companions looked less childish in front of other seraphim.

Sorey decided it would be best to respond to Alisha.  “It’s good to see you too.  Can you sense the seraphim better now?”

“I still can’t see them,” Alisha admitted, “but I can certainly feel them more clearly than I used to.”  She spread out her arms.  “I knew when I first met you, that you hadn’t been raised alone.  This time I can feel the warmth of your family.”

“Is she sure that’s not all the fire talking?” Mikleo muttered.

“Come on, Mickey-boy, give the lady some credit,” Zaveid scolded, leaning over the younger Seraphim.

“Indeed,” Lailah added, “it is quite possible that, after her experiences with us, Alisha is much more aware of both seraphim and hellions.”

Gramps, Zenrus, stepped forward.  “The seraphim of Elysia decided that the Shepherd deserved a bright night for these dark days.”  He blew a puff of smoke from his long pipe.

The smoke swept across the ground, causing earth to rise into a simple long table.  Crystalline chalices and platters of food covered it, the smell of meat and vegetables wafting towards the group.  The fire seraph’s flames illuminated the feast, highlighting all the best dishes.

Alisha stepped back from the sudden display, more startled than distressed.

“Whoa,” Rose exclaimed, “that looks delicious.”  She rubbed her tummy eagerly, keeping her eyes on the food even when Gramps spoke again.

“Mikleo, Sorey, you work hard to bring light into the world.  You, and your friends.  You deserve a night of light and merriment.”

“Thanks you, Gramps,” Sorey and Mikleo replied eagerly.

“Yeah, thanks.”  Rose moved up to the food.

“It is quite the feast,” Alisha noted, seeming to grasp the general gist of events.

“Mabo Curry,” Edna muttered.  Lailah spotted a thin line of drool forming at the edge of her mouth.

Gramps clapped his hands.  Several seraphim broke off from the main group, grabbing instruments.  They then began to to play a lively dance tune.  Alisha looked towards the source of the sound.

“What lovely music.”

For her part, Rose took the cue to dig in.

“Hey, Sheps,” Zaveid leaned on Sorey’s shoulder, “I get she can’t see us.  Can she feel us?”

“Uh,” Sorey looked quizzically at Lailah.

The fire seraph shrugged.  “She has resonance, and she’s certainly aware of us, so… maybe?”

Zaveid offered his wolfish grin.  “Perfect.”  With that he moved away from Sorey and towards Alisha.  He adjusted his hat as he approached, making sure it couldn’t possibly fall off.

“This is going to end poorly,” Mikleo muttered.

Indeed, the seraphim in the village, even Gramps, were moving to create plenty of space around them.

“For once I agree with Mi-bo,” Edna replied.  Even she stepped back.

Zaveid grabbed Alisha’s hands.  She jumped.  Zaveid wrapped his large hands around her smaller ones.  She couldn’t pull them away.

“Are you a seraphim?” she asked, a vague stutter evident in her voice.

Zaveid shook her hands, mimicking a head nod.

“I can feel you,” Alisha replied, a slow smile spreading across her face.

Zaveid grinned.

“Uh-oh,” Sorey and Mikleo whispered.

Zaveid spread Alisha’s arms out.

“Sorey?” she queried, looking over to him in confusion.

“Just, uh…”  How could she follow the dance if she couldn’t see it. He spluttered for a moment before desperately turning to Rose.  “Rose, dance with me?”

Rose looked up from her food, spoon full of mabo curry in her hand.  “What?”

Zaveid began tugging Alisha around.  Sorey moved towards the table to grab Rose’s hands.

“Guess we need to show the princess how it’s done, huh?”

Sorey nodded even as he pulled her along.  Rose looked sadly at the food a moment before joining in.

Lailah clapped her hands in excitement as the groups began to dance.  Other seraphim joined in, giving Alisha and Zaveid plenty of space.

Alisha knew her way around most dances, even folk ones, allowing her to avoid collisions and guess several of the moves simply from Zaveid’s invisible lead.  With a little visualization help from Sorey and Rose, and quickly fell into step.

Mikleo sulked at the edge of the ring.  At least, until Lailah lassoed him right in.

Once Alisha got a hang for the steps, they began to dance properly.  The pace increased, and partner trading began.

Edna sighed as a fellow earth seraph drug her in.  Alisha would probably need the help anyway.  Most of the seraphs of Elysia weren’t strong enough to make their presence felt, even to someone who knew they were there.

Indeed, Alisha had a hard time with the partner swaps.  Sorey and Rose quickly realized to call out right before the shifts, and Sorey grabbed the princess’s hand for the first swap so she could figure out the motions.

She smiled at him in thanks.  “This is truly an incredible experience.”

He nodded.  “We’ll make this work, I promise.”

“Yeah.”  Her grin reflected the joy Sorey felt at being surrounded by friends and family.  He couldn’t help wondering, even if she only knew a few of the seraphim here, if she really did feel their warmth.

Maybe, even if humans couldn’t see seraphim, they might still one day dance with one another.  Certainly, Alisha seemed to be enjoying it.

She even enjoyed it when they passed partners again.  She was going to get paired with one of the fire seraphim, but he couldn’t grab her hands.

With a lovely twirl, Lailah replaced him.  She had the power to properly hold onto the twirling princess.

“We’ve got you,” Sorey assured her again, dancing off with another seraphim.

Alisha began laughing, truly caught up in the music and the light.

They spent much of the evening dancing, eating, and telling stories.  Whenever Alisha joined the dance, Sorey made sure to dance too, so she could watch his movements.  Even Gramps joined in on the fun for a bit, dancing with both Alisha and Lailah at various points.

They went to bed with full tummies and smiles on their faces.

 


 

Sorey stared out at the clouds below him.  Knowing what lay beneath the drifting sky made Elysia feel more isolated than ever, like it hovered on a mattress of cloud and hid under a blanket of stars.

So much darkness in the world, so much malevolence, so much pain.  None of it even visible from these heights.

He heard the crunch of snow just behind him.  Sorey leaned back his head to see Mikleo standing over him.

Mikleo dropped a blanket over his head.  “You’re going to get yourself sick.”

Sorey stood, draping the offered blanket over his shoulders.  No reason to get it soaked.

“What are you doing out here anyway?” Mikleo asked, moving beside him.  “The view hasn’t changed.”  His voice dropped as he spoke.

Sorey looked back over the ledge, what for so long had acted as the end of the world.  “No, it hasn’t.”

“But we have.”

Sorey nodded.  He could feel Mikleo looking at him, but continued looking at the clouds below.  Did they block all the stars from shining below?

One hand slid off the blanket to rest at his side.  Sorey wasn’t sure how long passed.  After a time he became aware that his left shoulder was colder than his right.  Despite that his left warm felt perfect.

Mikleo had wrapped a hand around Sorey’s left hand, gripping it warmly.

Sorey looked back up.  Mikleo followed his gaze so they looked eye-to-eye.  A definite part of Sorey had expected Mikleo to retract his hand the moment he realized he’d been caught.

Instead they just locked gazes, slowly turning to properly face each other.  Sorey reached out with his other hand, letting the blanket fall.  Mikleo received it.

They looked rather similar to how it had looked when Zaveid grabbed Alisha’s hands.  Stretched out and firm.

Remembering the lively music, Sorey began to sway his arms.

“What are you doing?”

Sorey gripped Mikleo’s hands tighter.  Then, after a deep breath, he quickly exclaimed, “Dancing!”

Suddenly, they were twirling around the field.  Snow kicked up in little flurries around them.

“Whoa,” Mikleo shouted.  He didn’t pull away though.  Instead, he began to join in properly.

Sorey began to hum the melody of the dance tune.

Mikleo whispered the harmony.

And they danced.

Sorey could feel the movement warming his body.  He could also feel the snow melting on him.  He’d get cold later, but for now, he felt entranced by by his surroundings.  Both the gentle snow and beautiful seraphim in front of him.

They pulled closer as they danced, until Mikleo’s face was about all Sorey could see.

Their lips just touched, Sorey’s lips catching onto Mikleo’s whistling ones.  All sound stopped.

For a moment they stayed like that, unsure whether to pull closer or further.

Sorey lifted the light seraphim up a little higher.  Mikleo pulled forward.

They almost seemed to hover there then, closed lips just touching, breath hot on each other’s faces.

MIkleo felt highly aware of the way Sorey’s hand wrapped around his lower back.  Sorey pushed him even closer, making it hard to breathe.

“Maybe I am gett–”

Mikleo kissed him, taking the opportunity formed by Sorey’s suddenly open mouth.  He could feel Sorey tense.  It only pulled them closer and lifted Mikleo higher.

And disrupted Sorey’s balance.  He fell onto his back with an oof.  Mikleo came down with him, even though Sorey had let go when falling.

Not one to waste an opening, Mikleo pressed back in with his kiss, hands reaching out to grab Sorey’s.

Sorey made no move to pull back, and even slid his hands so they could hold each other properly.

Mikleo pulled back.

“Your eyes are sparkling,” Sorey muttered.  The sparkling expressed his joy more than any grin ever could.

“I’ve always wondered…”

“…what you saw me as.”

“Are we friends?”

“Brothers?”

“Or…?”

Sorey slowly sat up, wrapping Mikleo in his arms.  Mikleo returned the favor.

Sorey kissed him.

“You too, huh?” Mikleo muttered.

“I was so scared of you getting hurt, of scaring you away.  Nothing would be worse than you leaving me.”  Water began to pool under Sorey’s eyes.  He bowed his head.  “I don’t know what to do, and all the time I worry.  I worry you’ll get hurt, or worse, and I don’t know what I’d do.”

Mikleo leaned forward to kiss one of the tears.  “You’d recognize it was my decision to come with you.  Right from the start, I chose this.”  He nuzzled against Sorey’s face, appreciating his thick and soft hair.  “I know what could happen, but it could happen to you too.  I don’t know what I’d do, if I had to live with myself knowing I could have stopped it.  Always wondering, what would have happened if I was there.”

“Mikleo, I’m sorry I ever asked you to leave.”  Sorey squeezed the water seraph tightly.  “There’s no way I could have ever made it this far without you.”

“Obviously, you big doofus,” Mikleo replied with a smile.  He could feel water at the edge of his eyes as well, but refused to let it fall.  “And we’ve gotten to discover all sorts of ruins together.”

“And make a lot of new friends,” Sorey added.

“And discover so many secrets.”

“It’s really amazing how much we’ve learned.”  Sorey pulled back enough for them to really look each other in the face.  “Like the fact we aren’t just friends.”

“We never have been ‘just’ friends,” Mikleo scolded, “and we never would have been.”

“I know.”

“It is nice to know where you stand, at least.”  Mikleo leaned forward in Sorey’s lap, hand resting just a bit below the stomach, to highlight his point.

Sorey blushed.  “Now that would be cold.”

Mikleo blushed too.  Then, he just leaned back and laughed.  It didn’t take long for Sorey to join in.

“When this is all over,” he promised, or tried to, but he was hard to sound serious when just saying it made him laugh even more.

“You’re such a child,” Mikleo chided, despite his whole face going red.

“I still promise.”  Sorey’s smile softened away from pure mirth and towards warm love.  “I still promise that when this is done, you and I will explore the world.  We’ll see everywhere.  We’ll find every ruin.  And we’ll find a way for seraphim and humans to live together.”

“For us to co-exist.”

Sorey kissed him again.  “Nothing can stop that.”

Mikleo returned to kiss vigorously.  “You better keep your word, Sorey, because I’m going to hold you to it.  To many years exploring the world together, just the two of us.”

“It’s a promise.”  Sorey extended his pinky finger.

Mikleo wrapped his own around it.  “Pinky swear.”

“Pinky swear.  Now, I owe you for tumbling me into the snow.”

“You should probably get inside.”

The light in Sorey’s eyes warned Mikleo he had other plans.

Sure enough, a moment later Sorey pounced, landing on top of Mikleo and getting him soaked in cold snow too.

“If we get hypothermia in the morning, I’m blaming you,” Mikleo shouted.

“We’ll just have to cuddle for warmth then,” Sorey replied.  He wrapped his friend, his love, in a giant bear hug.  Mikleo playfully attempted to free himself, causing them to roll around in the snow.

It didn’t take long for laughter to ring through the clearing, tears rolling down their faces from glee.

They watched the dawn together, holding each other close.  They then returned to Elysia, where it turned out Alisha had just started to worry about Sorey.

Rose wasn’t up.  Edna was though, and she jabbed Mikleo for making the Alisha worry.  He pulled back a bit behind Sorey, grimacing.

“Was that really necessary?”

Lailah chuckled gently, directly fire to hover around the two and warm them up.

Zaveid gave them an odd smile, not so different from the one he gave to pretty women.  It sent a fresh shiver down Mikleo’s spine.

The wind seraph just laughed.

Alisha brought Sorey a warm cup of tea.  “Are you sure you’re alright?”

“Yeah.  Just had to think about what to do next.”  He took the tea.  “This has been great, and I feel a lot better, but there’s still a lot for us to do.”

“Yes,” she agreed.  “I will do everything I can to help.”

“Isn’t she sweet?” Zaveid commented.

“Princess Alisha is a fine ally,” Lailah reminded him.

Sorey smiled at her.  “I know you will, Alisha.  You’ve already done so much.  Sorry, if this pulled you away from an important mission.”

She shook her head.  “It’s fine.  I’m glad to see you again, and dancing with the seraphim was an incredible experience.  Not to mention knowing they trust me enough to invite me to their home.”

Sorey glanced over to the seraphim in the area.  They gave her space to avoid collisions, but Sorey didn’t get the impression she made them nervous.

“Oh, here comes Gramps,” he muttered.

The old seraphim looked Mikleo and Sorey up and down.  He puffed furiously on his pipe.

“Are you feeling better now, Sorey?”  He didn’t sound angry.

“Yeah.”

Gramps’ gaze turned to Mikleo.  “And you, Mikleo?”

“Thank you so much for this celebration.”

“That’s not what I asked.”

Mikleo’s face slowly turned red.

“Humf.”  The edge of Gramps’ lips curled up in a smile.  “Just make sure you lot don’t leave behind any regrets..”

“We know,” Sorey assured him.

Apparently content with that, the old seraphim summoned another table of food, this one emphasizing eggs and fresh bread.  “Then don’t leave home with an empty stomach.”

“I’ll go awaken Rose,” Alisha volunteered.

“Sure.  Thanks.”

Alisha rushed away.  Zaveid, Lailah, and Edna all turned to give Sorey and Mikleo an odd look.  Lailah even went so far as to cover her face with her papers.

“What?” Mikleo questioned, growing flustered.

“Did you two become adults while we weren’t looking?” Zaveid asked.

His own earrings probably could have blown Sorey over at that point.

“What?! What are you even talking about?”

“And here I thought you saw each other as brothers.”  Edna opened up her umbrella, turning around so that only it faced the two.  “Guess I was wrong.”

Lailah side-eyed them.

Sorey scratched his head.  “Are we really that obvious?”

All three seraphim regarded him and Mikleo, each smirking in their own way.

 


 

P.S. I received my Santa Secret just a little bit ago.  It’s a bunch of Tales of the Abyss GIFs.  They’re super sweet.

 

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