"Do you think, perhaps, Eirika will join us?"
Ephraim is quiet. Lyon understands. He must be tired, after everything. Lyon certainly is.
"I hope she will. I hope she isn't angry."
Lyon doesn't catch what Ephraim murmurs in return. He thinks it's his name, soft and kind as he always says it, the light Renais twang making him linger on the l and dance over the n. He takes it as an invitation and rests his head on the other man's shoulder, letting his long hair fall into the small space left between them. Ephraim remains still, silent, staring off at something Lyon cannot see.
"I think she'll be happy, don't you?"
At last, Ephraim speaks openly, though it's less like his voice and more like leaves scraping stone. "Of course she will."
Lyon presses a pale finger to Ephraim's mouth as he speaks, cold and dry and pale like the rest of him. He must need water, Lyon thinks, and a warm place to rest.
"Just a while longer," he murmurs, and against him Ephraim nods.
They're both quiet for a while. Lyon focuses on the soft breaths sweeping between his fingers, the steady rhythm of them against his face. His dry cracked lips, half-lidded eyes, the perfection of the two of them, in the dark, together.
Lyon looks up, hoping to see Ephraim looking down at him, only him, nothing else but him. He's waited so long for this, given so much, suffered so much, doesn't he deserve at least that? But Ephraim isn't generous like that. He's looking instead to the distance, to the sacred lance abandoned at the edge of the slick stone floor, its shaft and tip still coated with the black-green-gray remains of the undead.
Look at me. Look only at me.
Ephraim turns back and smiles, mumbles an apology. Lyon watches the tug of his cheeks, the light flash of his teeth. Yes, this is how he's meant to be. How he's always been.
"I'm sure she'll be here soon." Lyon knows that wasn't what Ephraim was thinking, but he voices it anyway, whispers it into his ear as he's always wanted to do. "Don't worry. Don't worry. She'll be here soon."
Ephraim murmurs an affirmative – maybe it's yes, maybe it's just an mm, maybe another of course, Lyon isn't sure – and lets his arm relax across Lyon's shoulders as if it belongs there. There's something warm and damp there, running down the flesh exposed through the tears in his tunic's sleeves.
Don't look, Lyon thinks, and doesn't. He arcs up instead to press his mouth to Ephraim's chin, to taste the bristle of stubble and sweat that come with the chaos of war.
You did this. Of course he did. But it doesn't matter now. Nothing does.
Nothing but thick calluses running along his cheek, tracing the curve of the bones around his eye, catching his hair in chipped fingernails, drawing him closer. Nothing – not the light air of just-too-ripe fruit that lingers at the nape of his neck, or the still warm spot just beneath his ribs.
"Stay here," Lyon whispers, and Ephraim obeys. He does more than obey- he comes closer still, and brings Lyon with him with ease. Still so strong, so perfect. So, so perfect, as he drags their lips together the way Lyon's only ever imagined.
Stay here. Stay here. Don't go.
Ephraim doesn't. His eyes are closed – Lyon watches – and he's really honest with this. He leans back against the harsh stone wall and lets himself be held, pressed, caressed. Even as a tight feeling spreads in Lyon's gut, even as he slides his hands – soft, pale, not at all like Ephraim's – up the thin fraying tunic and across his cool chest, even as he pushes himself close without any of the gentleness he thinks he is supposed to have, he does not stop.
"Eirika," Lyon thinks Ephraim says, and he stops then, stops and eyes the other man warily. His eyes are so dark, so desperate, as if he's hurting.
Is he hurting?
"Just a while longer, Ephraim." Please. "Just wait a while longer." And with a brush of Lyon's fingers, a murmur of the arcane, Ephraim's objection falls silent and his tension is eased.
Lyon thinks he remembers hearing hissed curses, ragged breaths, somewhere deep in the recesses of his memories, the place populated by laughter and grins and everything else he's come to dread. You're no match for me. No. I won't– I won't–
He doesn't notice the subtle movement of Ephraim beneath him, the way he's been pulled into his lap and held tight, like something out of a shameful daydream, not until Ephraim reaches up in a slow, jerking movement to press their lips together. He tastes like blood and bile and dirt and Lyon remembers again he'll need help soon, very soon.
Eirika, he remembers a bit more clearly, without the haze of doubt and fear, and it makes him want to kiss him and throttle him and hold him and stab him. Eirika, please run. Another voice, sharper, pleading, then – I can't. I'm sorry. I can't.
Eirika will help, of course. She has to.
Ephraim moves downward, downward, downward, whispering something into the hollows of Lyon's collarbones as he pauses there. Lyon likes to think it's I love you, only you, but all he can imagine is please, please, please from bloodied lips.
But maybe that isn't so bad. I always wanted to make you beg.
Ephraim does, now. He says please, Lyon in the best way imaginable, arching his back and sliding his hands deeper beneath the heavy cloak, tugging and pulling with every ounce of desperation he has left in him. There's no ache from Lyon, no shy oh I admire you so, no mentally repeated please just touch me once, no. Not a bit.
Perhaps it was worth it after all. He has almost everything, now.
"I've always loved you, Lyon."
I can't forgive you, I won't, I – stop, please, stop –
Lyon doesn't stop.
Eirika ends Lyon with one swift stab, but stops short before the blade touches the thing beneath him.
"I've always loved you," it rasps as it stares up at her, and she squeezes her eyes shut as she ends it the same way.