Hidden behind a pillar, Cecil carefully looked around the area, ready for any attack. One was never too careful these days, and the two rows of tall pillars made for an excellent place for an ambush. Finally satisfied that nothing was going to jump him from the shadows, he stepped out of his hiding place and walked forward.
"Going somewhere, Cecil?"
"Wha-" The paladin jumped and whirled around in surprise, his hand going automatically for his weapon. "…Tidus?"
The boy waved at him from the top of the pillar he was perched on. "So, where are you going?"
Cecil hesitated for a moment before smiling. "I'm talking a walk. I fear I ate a bit too much at dinner."
"Hu-huh, right." Tidus shook his head with a grin. "And you're taking more stew with you just in case?"
Earlier that day Cosmos had delivered another batch of various equipments for battle, and they had all been pretty surprised to find a frying pan among them. The little tag attached to it proclaimed it to be the "Frying Pan of Love" and to be a nice intermediate weapon – apparently it gave a nice Regen boost. They ended up discussing over how it was supposed to be equipped and used (causing a defence break by causing the enemy to laugh themselves sick at the sight of it versus actually beating people over the head with it), and if Cosmos would get offended if no one wanted to use it in battle.
It took them a while to realize both the frying pan and Cecil had gone missing. The paladin, either sick of the discussion or maybe too hungry to wait, had taken it and used it in the most obvious way possible - making dinner for everyone. In the end no one protested about it, or about leaving Cecil the pan. They had all been quite famished, and Cecil's stew was really good.
Cecil looked down at the small pot in his hands, which he had clearly forgotten he was holding, and blushed just a bit. "I- There was so much food left, and I thought-"
"That's okay, man. Those old geezers are so busy plotting I bet they forget to eat most of the time. Uh, those human enough of them to actually need eating, I mean." Tidus smiled and gave him a pat on his shoulder. "Nothing wrong with worrying over your brother. And you made dinner in the first place, no one will mind."
"It's not that!" Cecil protested, holding the pot closer in an almost protective way. "My brother is an adult just as I, and I'm sure he's perfectly able to take care of himself. I'm not fretting over him or anything. I just…" He stopped again.
"...wanted him to try your cooking, then?" the boy went on, helpful.
Cecil blushed again, mortified, and open his mouth to retort only to close it again after a moment, unable to come up with something that wouldn't result even more embarrassing for himself or his brother.
"I'm sure he'll love it, Cecil, your stew is great." Tidus bit back a snicker, instead giving him an encouraging smile. "That is, if you hurry up and find him before it gets cold."
A hopeful expression dawned on Cecil's face. "…you don't mind?"
"Nah, get going." He nudged him lightly forward. "I'll cover for you if anyone asks."
Cecil smiled at him, grateful. "Thank you, Tidus, you're very kind. I'll be back in an hour!" With that the knight ran away, a definite spring in his steps.
Tidus waited until he was sure the other man was out of earshot before snickering loudly and walking back through camp.
"That man," a voice announced just as he crossed the space rift, "is a bad case of brother-con."
Tidus leaned back against the hexagon-patterned wall, waiting a moment for Zidane to jump over from the platform he was sitting on. "Cecil, you mean?"
"Yes." Zidane landed beside him with a somersault. "He's a brother complex on legs."
Tidus shook his head, amused, before walking off again. "I think it's kinda cute. I wish I had a brother as nice as Cecil."
Zidane grimaced, clearly thinking of his own brother for a moment. "He's not that bad as siblings go, I guess. Still, it doesn't change the fact he's pretty much obsessed with his brother."
"Yeah, there's no denying that." Tidus snickered. "But at least he is aware of that," he added, poking the younger boy in the shoulder with his finger. "You know how they say about admitting a problem, huh?"
"Hey, what are you trying to imply?"
"Nothing, really. Just saying that it's better than being completely in denial about it."
"Are you saying that I'm obsessed with my brother? Because that's totally not true. …Okay, yes, we do have issues, but we're not like that!"
"Actually I didn't mean you, but it's funny how you immediately assumed so. Anything you want to tell me?" Reveling in the fact that for once he was the tallest of the two, Tidus pounced and gave him a noogie, ignoring the mad protests until he was satisfied that Zidane's hair was spiking up with statics. He laughed and ducked out of the way before the other boy pushed him down through the whole in the ceiling of the throne room.
"Damn it, Tidus, I told you to stop that!" Zidane yelled. He sat down with a grumble, trying to comb back and retie his hair. "Just because you don't know what a brush looks like it doesn't mean we all have to walk around with a bad case of bed hair. I have a reputation to keep with the ladies, you know!"
"Denial ain't good for you, pal."
"For the last time, we're not like that! Kuja wants me dead, I want him to leave me and my friends alone, and that's it. If he's obsessed with anything it aside from his looks it would be with killing me."
"Riiight-o. Why are you defending him, then?" Tidus snorted. "You know, I'm pretty sure that kidnapping one of your friends just to have an excuse to meet is the Chaos folks version of pulling pigtails."
Zidane jumped up and was about to reply when the floor where he was sitting just a second ago suddenly exploded. Somersaulting in the air, Zidane landed beside Tidus, weapons ready in his hands.
"My, look at what the cat dragged in," Kuja purred, floating up from the hole in the floor. "Just the mousie I wanted to play with."
Tidus couldn't help it. He started to laugh.
Zidane groaned. "Kuja, let me tell you, your timing sucks."
"I don't see what's wrong with my timing, since you're the ones trespassing in the first place." Kuja flicked his mane behind his shoulder with a haughty gesture, and Zidane could tell he was actually annoyed and trying not to show it. "I must say, Zidane, your taste in friends is getting more and more appealing each day. At least the other boy you traveled with didn't look like he was stumbling his way through his life without knowing what a brush is. While wearing his whole wardrobe at the same time."
Zidane slapped his hand on his face with a frustrated noise. Tidus simply laughed harder, actually leaning on his sword to keep standing. Much to Kuja's annoyance.
"I fail to see how anything I said would be so amusing."
"He's an idiot, Kuja, and he's laughing at me, not at you," Zidane answered, glaring at Tidus and aimed a kick at Tidus's sword. Suddenly deprived of his support, the older boy fell over, nearly smacking his face on the floor.
"Hey, there was no need for that!"
"Shut up, and look at yourself before talking," Zidane shot back, with a mischievous grin. "Denial, huh? Seems more like the pot calling the kettle black to me."
"Now wait a-"
"Riiight-o. Why don't you go have a romp with daddy? I'm sure he'll love the exercise." Without waiting for an answer, Zidane jumped over to where Kuja was standing. "Come with me."
"I'm not going anywhere without killing your friend first." Kuja growled and started calling his spell, bristling with anger at being mocked first and ignored later.
"Stop getting your thong in a twist and just go along with someone else for once in your life." Rolling his eyes, Zidane grabbed his wrist and started to drag him away. "We need to talk."
"I beg your pardon? This is traditional Terran garb, I'll have you know, reserved for the finest and noblest- will you stop pulling like that, you'll wrinkle my clothes!"
"Then walk instead of dragging your feet – you're coming with me and that's final."
"Why should I listen to you? And we have absolutely nothing to discuss in any case!"
"Yes we do, brother, this talk is way overdue as it is. If you just want to hang out with me there are simpler ways to get my attention other than kidnapping. You know, things like dropping by and just saying so…"
"I really needed that," Golbez said with pleased noise, eating another spoonful of hot stew. "I admit I hadn't realized how hungry I was until I started to eat."
"I thought you would have already had dinner with your colleagues, so I wasn't sure," Cecil said, with a timid smile.
"Not really," Golbez replied after a moment. "Half of them don't even need to eat anymore. Or maybe they just want to watch their figures, I don't really know. Usually it's just me and Jecht putting some food together when we remember to." He ate another spoonful. "Nothing good like this stew, thought. Did you make this?"
Cecil blushed a pretty shade of pink. "Yes. Do you like it?"
"Very much so. Jecht makes a really mean chili, but I like my food better when I don't need several gallons of beer to wash it down just to keep my mouth from melting off my face. Thought I'd still give anything for some barbecue." He set down the empty pot with a satisfied sigh. "Thank you, Cecil, it was really delicious."
"You're welcome," the paladin answered, still blushing pink even as he started to gather his things. "You know, in the woods connected through that castle with the rift there are deers, and I'm positive I also spotted a grill in the last batch of equipment Cosmos sent us. It's not enough for a decent steak, probably, but I could get some ribs at least."
Golbez thought about it for a moment. "That would be perfect. We can set up a barbecue on the castle lawns – Exdeath is never home anyway. Do you mind if I ask Jecht over?"
Cecil smiled. "No, go on. I'd be happy to finally meet my big brother's friend."
Golbez shook his head with a slight smile and ruffled lightly Cecil's hair. "Thank you. We'll bring beers and some chili."
Cecil leaned into the touch, quietly glowing with happiness. "I'll see if I can get Tidus to come, too. We can turn it in a family picnic kind of event."