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Fireside Talks

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The camp fire cracked between Emil and Kaine as they waited outside Nier’s Village for the night. A chill was setting in, but the two had adjusted. Sitting close to the fire, close to each other, they were warm enough, and even though Emil hated camping, Kaine, he had found, was pretty good company. Events from today, however, had put his mind in a flurry. They had been fighting Shades, when suddenly Emil had found himself cornered. Nier had to rush in to save him. It had all happened so fast. The scene was stuck replaying in his head, leaving him unsure about how to feel.

“Hey, Kaine.” Emil ventured.

“Yup?”

Kaine reached for a chunk of word and chucked it into the fire. Emil could hear the thud and feel the heat growing stronger. He wished he could undo his blindfold as see the dancing flames again and know their colors. He knew one time he had, but his eyes had been covered for so long sounds and sensations took on stronger meanings now. He admitted to himself that maybe the look of fire would never compete with the smoky scent he loved to smell lingering on the pristine clothing Sebastian had always prepared for him.

“Do you… like me?”

“Squirt, if you’re asking if I sit out here because I want to date you-“

“No! No, no, I didn’t mean like that…”

Kaine looked at the boy and smiled. It was always funny getting him flustered like that, and, often times, it was far too easy.

“I know, I know.” She laughed and ruffled his hair. His face was turning as red as the fire.

“I wonder if Nier likes me…”

“Nier likes everyone.” Kaine scoffed.

“Kaine…” Emil said, almost whining. He drew his knees to his chest, unsure how to articulate his words. He bit his lip, afraid if he said it wrong, everything would fall apart.
“Do… Do you think he could ever like me like he likes you?”

“What are you getting at?”

“Well… You’re a girl… And you’re very pretty. At least- well I can’t see you- but you sound pretty. And the way Weiss talks about you…”

She cut him off. “I seem like the type of girls guys swoon over?”

Emil nodded.

Kaine sighed. “Look, no guy would want to date me, alright? Especially not Nier, OK? I know where you’re going this, so just come out and say it.”

“I shouldn’t.”

She gave him a look, realized he could not see it, and then said “You know the rules. Everything that is said around this fire is kept top secret. But if you really don’t wanna say it makes literally no difference to me.”

“Every time I’m close to him, I feel… funny,” he blurted out.

She smirked, glad that Emil could not see that. It was cute. A kid and developing crushes. If Emil wasn’t also some supernatural being, it would be almost normal.

“You have a crush.”

“I know that. He’s so cool, Kaine. His voice is so nice and kind, and he cares for me even though I’m a monster. He doesn’t care. He’s saved my life so many times when we fight, and he never wants anything from me. I thought some girl would be the one I get these feelings for… That’s what Sebastian’s stories always told me. But I really like Nier, Kaine, and I don’t know what to do. You know, don’t you?”

She didn’t. But that was a conversation for another night. She’s had crushes. She’s had people she wanted to love. But the people of the Aeire did not give her the luxury of developing those feelings, and she certainly did not have them for Nier. Nice guy, but not quite her type. Too goody good.

Emil’s heart was racing in his chest. He felt like this was the deepest secret he had ever confided in anyone. Part of him wished he could take the words back. What if Kaine told him? Nier would just hate him if he knew, he was sure…

When she was silent for a while, a quiet that ate away at his guilt, he said, “Please don’t tell, Kaine…”

She chuckled. “I won’t, kid. I promise. He’s all yours too, alright?”

“All mine?”

“Yup. I don’t have feelings for him. He’s an OK friend, but honestly no fun. So no need to rush into figuring it all out. The feelings are normal. A big pain in the ass, I’d say, but you really can’t help it. Maybe someday you’ll find the right moment to just… tell him.”

They were quiet for a while, the only sound being fire. A roar of crickets rose from the brush, but soon died back down. The words sunk into Emil. He had to find the right moment sometime. He knew for sure he would not be able to
live with these feelings forever.

“I hope… One day I can see his eyes…”

A new look of determination had come over the boy’s face, and Kaine knew not to doubt this hope. “I think he’ll like to see yours too,” she said.

“Really?!” He bounced up and embraced her, the energy absolutely smothering her.

“Yeah, yeah, now get off me, Emil!”

She basically had to pry him off, but eventually she got him to settle. Emil was grinning ear to ear, thinking about Nier complementing his eyes.

“Alright, let’s get some food in us and head to bed,” Kaine declared as she reached for her pack. Emil agreed, but had a feeling he’d be too excited to sleep tonight.