The skies over Lakeland now filled with stars as far as the eye could see, purple leaves framing a crisp image of the night sky, even with just the moonlight to highlight each piece of the picture. Here the lights in the sky danced in a sweet waltz among the long departed, forever free in a sunless sea.
Ambrose's paws dangle over the side of a stone wall as he watches the sky from the Crystarium, one hand in his lap, the other submersed in a basket of food he'd ordered from the Mean earlier today. He brings another snack to his mouth as a shooting star falls. The fraction of an instant, a loose soul returning to the world, or perhaps to finish something once started?
"So this is where you went."
The voice perks pink trimmed ears, the realization of feet on stone and metal being apparent now. The smile that creeps onto his face is sweet, the warmth of the comfort of a friend already seeping through. "Crystal Exarch. Tis nice to see you out and about." Returning his gaze to the sky above them, he hears his friend stop short of sitting beside his fellow Miqo'te. "I could not help how my legs moved. I yearned to leave my bed, if only for a time," He chooses every word with careful precision, as if each one could possibly break through the rift, and destroy this happy, peaceful image one and for all. "This night was too beautiful to simply ignore. As is the person who brought light to all on this star.." The Exarch looks to his friend, who's eyes remain locked on the stars, as he removes his hood for the time being. His own crimson gaze traced up the line of stars, until he was sure they rested in the same spot.
Without looking at each other, the two could feel comfort in the other's silence, even as the Exarch begins to speak again. "Have you listened to Urianger speak of the heavens often, my friend?" He shifts his head, but the one who turns fully is Ambrose. "No, not quite.. Not due to deafening the poor man, mind you. He's simply never spoken to me on the subject.. Perhaps he thinks me too old to be fascinated by the stars." The pink furred Miqo'te frowns, his crystal colored eyes shifting away. "Perhaps I am a bit too old. ..Though, you're far beyond me in that regard, of course." The Exarch turns his head as Ambrose gives him a bright, albeit toothy grin. "At least you hardly look a day older than when you.."
The sound of his voice dies as he stares at his friend, the bags beneath his eyes, the tiredness- The man had worked tirelessly to make this world the perfect stage for his inspiration to do what he did best- Save those who could be yet saved. Ambrose swallows the remnants of sound as the Exarch stares, awaiting the rest of the sentence. ".. W-When you fell asleep." And the G'raha he knew best still slept on, locked behind golden doors only he could open, the heir to Allag rests..
"Ah.. I appreciate the compliment. To be young as I appear to you.. A dream far beyond me, and quite selfish."
The Exarch chuckles, and his eyes shift back to the sky, the stars twinkling back. Ambrose watches him, memorizing how the light of the Crystarium- The Crystal Tower itself, seemed to pour our from him. He was one with it, but he was yet humming with life as well. The perfect connection. A perfect..
"G'raha," Ambrose smiles at how his friend's ears perk, a smile of his own growing on his lips.
"What future do you believe is in store for you?" The question brings G'raha back down from the brief bliss of the past, and into the careful calculations of the present. "Well, Norvran-" Ambrose's immediate frown cuts him off. "I said for you, G'raha." This emphasis puts the crimson eyed Miqo'te on edge, confused and unsure of what to answer. The question had never dawned on him, simply dreams and aspirations he could never realize, to ride the Eternal Wind with his friend, to adventure and to.. "..Perhaps I could start a sandwich business." The answer falls like a wet wad of words, with little grace compared to G'raha's usual eloquence. It does, however, bring out a bubbly laugh from his companion. "A sandwich shop? And what, pray tell, brought you to this idea?" The laughter distracts G'raha's mind, almost keeping him from realizing how embarrassed he was with this silly idea.
"W-Well I.. I simply remember.." The end of that sentence was 'your face as you were eating the ones I made you,' but perhaps that was too much too soon? Their friendship had been purely platonic, G'raha's heart fluttering with every smile and brush of hands being easy to stamp out and ignore. But he had watched him, saw him talk to himself as he ate the sandwiches, the poor thing, and how he smiled, laughed even. Regardless of the rather unsettling connotations of Ambrose consistently talking to himself, G'raha could not simply deny how his heart swelled at every happy bite.
"Remember what, G'raha?" The sweet voice cuts through the dream like a knife, and G'raha is forced to deal with his reality once more.
"..Th.. The sandwiches I made you. You seemed to enjoy them." Awkward again, but Ambrose takes it, smiling."Ah, I see! I hadn't taken you for a sandwich enthusiast, however. Color me surprised." Another bright smile melts G'raha's heart, until it faces away from him, and is directed to the sky.
"I'm not sure of my future anymore myself."
The warrior begins to speak, and G'raha feels the need to be as silent as possible, to hear every breath, every twitch of a muscle.
"I will return to the Source, and I will continue to be.. This," He gestures to himself, G'raha nodding in understanding. "But aside from destiny, I have little idea on what to do. I have many dreams, but none that could.. Work." One of his hands moves as he speaks, gesturing until there's no words left, and just eyes on it, staring as if it were going to change into a snake any moment now. "..Perhaps I could work at your sandwich shop?" He gives G'raha another smile, and the two laugh in a harmonious unison, a perfect chorus of two people's joy. "Perhaps you could! I dare say we may end up looking like a couple, however, if we simply ran it ourselves!" This time, only G'raha laughs, Ambrose's bright eyes blinking at him. The laughter dies quickly when he realizes it, anxiety gripping his heart as soon as it can.
"I-Is something wrong, my friend?"
The nervous question eventually spills out, messy.
"No, I'm completely fine. Simply thinking."
His voice holds little trace of the previous laughter, now almost deadpan.
"..May I inquire as to what you're thinking on? Perhaps I can assist.."
G'raha's nervousness continues to spill everywhere, his blood pumping faster with his desire to right whatever wrongs he'd done.
"Perhaps. I simply wonder if you wish to tell me something. You seemed to be alluding to it, but I've never been one to assume." Following Ambrose's words, G'raha swallows a lump that feels like a golf ball. Was it truly obvious enough now? He had known Ambrose to be quite oblivious- The concepts of love and romance becoming lost on him quickly. But that was years ago.. "P-Perhaps I am. Tis nothing of import, however." There were too many things in the delicate balance of this Shard and the cursed future he'd come from. "Then why allude to it? Surely it's far more important than you're letting on.."
The sunless sea was abandoned to drown in crimson.
Ambrose shifts closer.
"G'raha, you promised no more secrets.."
A silly promise, but one that still existed, and now reared it's head in G'raha's mind. Yes, he had promised that. It was the least he could do. But now? His eyes traced up Ambrose's chin and cheeks, locking onto his eyes, bright and shining like the Crystal Tower behind them both, a testament to time and space. The Warrior- No, his Warrior, he fit those eyes far too well. They shone with years of hope in the most hopeless of places, a smile that better suited a hero, a wild rose that would bloom where it was needed.
"I.. I will tell you, but I wish to share some time with you first. The stars are bright, and the night is young." G'raha's voice is gentle, the words chosen meticulously as before, and Ambrose can only pout and sigh in reply. It tugs at G'raha's heart, but he needed time. He had to find the right way to explain his feelings, to truly open his heart. Both of them look back to the sky again, the moon now high up enough to be seen among the shimmering souls, a bright white orb, perhaps made of those of the ancient world. Each star seemed to almost dance around it, a ballroom for the lost, for those who could still watch the sky. "I've always loved stars." Ambrose finally speaks, the silence between them broken once more. "After my time with the Night's Blessed, I.. Believe I love them more, in a way." Slowly, G'raha watches Ambrose's right hand reach up, as if trying to grasp one of those shining sparkles. "The souls of the departed live there. ..Perhaps even those I have lost. Everyone.. Simply living in bliss, free from the surface, and free to watch over the world they've left behind. I wonder if they would be proud of me."
Ambrose could recall an Elezen man, dressed in armor, smiling at him as he called a warm room the Falling Snows, the first Elezen that Ambrose could ever appreciate. One who helped him overcome the past, and died doing so.
He would be a bright blue star. One that matched his hair, maybe.
Perhaps even Moenbryda was up there. She would be a purple one, to match her clothing.
Minfilia, perhaps, was also there, bright white, like her dress as the Oracle. He smiled at the idea, barely noticing as G'raha took his hand.
"I'm certain they're proud of you. As am I." G'raha smiles, his thumb running over scars and calluses, and Ambrose smiles back, chuckling at his words. "You never cease with your compliments, my friend. And you question why I feel you're hiding something from me!" Another blush is brought out, this time G'raha having the care to cover his face, considering the idea of pulling his hood back over his head. "And so shy over it..! I'm dying to know what has the great Crystal Exarch wobbling at the knees." Ambrose's giggles fill the night air, and force G'raha further into himself. This was hardly going according to plan, considering he was falling apart at the seams.. His mouth opens, ready to say something to make these shenanigans stop and to get to the damn point, but when he turns his head, Ambrose's lips meet his cheek, soft and gentle, a strange contrast to the idea of a strong, powerful warrior, moreso than any outfit or hobby could ever be. It shuts off G'raha's brain in a mere instant, his mind reeling in shock as Ambrose pulls his mouth away slowly, ears wiggling. "If any of Thancred's lectures on how to spot a crush have taught me a thing," G'raha had half a mind to curse the Hyur out now, for taking his chances at even a pinch of confidence. "It's that you're displaying every sign he mentioned. So, G'raha Tia, you have something to tell me, right?" Ambrose keeps grinning at him, G'raha staring at him, unreadable for the first time Ambrose had known him.
"..No, nothing to tell you."
Catching Ambrose off guard, G'raha smashes their lips together in a rough, messy kiss. The pink Miqo'te's eyes go wide for only a moment, until his hands are clinging to G'raha's robe, and he returns the kiss in earnest. The two pulled each other closer and closer, until there was barely discerning what was G'raha, and what was Ambrose. After a few more moments of that, a little gasp of air escapes from Ambrose as he pulls back. "..You- You scared me for a moment." He starts, only for G'raha to shush him. "I felt it better to show you how I feel. I hope it served a sufficient answer." Before G'raha can say much else, he's pulled to the ground, barely getting in a yelp of surprise. He squirms in Ambrose's hold until he gets another kiss to the cheek, calming him like water to heated iron. "Twas a fine answer, G'raha. ..Now you're stuck laying out here with me, without unsaid feelings in the way. I want to know more about the pictures people make of the stars. The ones in the cards of Urianger's deck." Pointing upward, they both trace the constellation in the line of sight, the Bole. "But what of-" Now Ambrose shushes him. "If the kiss was a sufficient answer for me, you should realize that my returning of it was just as much an answer." A smile comes to G'raha's lips, then to Ambrose's.
The stars shimmer within the sunless sea.