The sun glinted off the carpet of white that lay across the rolling landscape. Everything was still in that moment, even the chittering of the birds that usually welcomed the Sun's warming rays was conspicuously absent. All that could be heard was the soft sighing of the wind as it weaved through the naked tree branches surrounding the empty clearing that would play host to the inevitable fracturing of the two men that stood within it, swords drawn. It was as if nature itself held its breath, understanding the magnitude of what was about to unfold on that fated hill.
"Draw your sword and wrest your freedom from me."
Griffith’s voice had echoed, almost devoid of any emotion.
The naked steel held at arm’s length from him shivered almost imperceptibly. He knew the consequences of failure. He'd lose him. His sword, his soldier, his possession.
His his his !
Tightening the grip on his weapon, his cerulean eyes flashed in the early light, his stare piercing through Guts as sharp as any blade. He could hear Casca protesting in the background, pleading with them to stop. Her efforts would be futile, he knew. There was no going back now, not after Guts dared to defy him.
The larger man had fixed him with a long steady look, unwavering under his arctic gaze, before heaving a heavy sigh as he dropped his small bundle of possessions on the snow covered ground.
"Would you settle for a smile and some fond farewell wishes?"
Guts jaded voice broke through the silence. He was tired, so very tired. After years of following him, believing himself to be his friend- his brother, Griffith had unknowingly shattered all his illusions with a few simple words. Didn't he understand? He couldn't stay, he needed to search and fight for his own dream. Only then could he be seen as an equal in Griffith’s eyes.
Heaving his sword from his shoulder, Guts held it out in front of him. His position almost mirrored that of 3 years ago when he first met the man he'd end up fighting for. So much had happened since that time and yet, here they were, swords drawn against each other once more.
Griffith watched his every move in silence. He could not speak, for fear of doing something he might later regret, like beg. Showing such weakness in front of Casca, Judeau and the others would damage his image irreparably. He could not leave. Not after all they've done, all they've been through together. He was close, so close to finally achieving his dream. Guts could not leave him, not now.
The silence surrounding them was deafening. Even Casca had since fallen silent, her gaze held by the scene in front of her.
Strategies rushed through Griffiths mind. Although he had bested him once before, he had no doubt that the man standing in front of him was not the same man he defeated three years ago. He'd swung that sword for him many times since then and his skill had increased accordingly. Winning this battle would not be as simple as before.
"Do you want to leave this badly?” he thought. “No you're not leaving. I will not allow it.”
The dull thump of snow falling from a branch acted as an unofficial signal, both men lunging forwards, swords meeting each other in a ringing kiss. The small group of onlookers watched with bated breath as the snow cleared, expecting a triumphant Griffith, standing victoriously over a defeated Guts.
How mistaken they were.
Darkness fell over the kingdom bringing with it a torrential downpour from the heavens.
“Fitting,” thought Griffith. “For such a day as this.”
To say that his loss weighed heavily on his mind was an understatement. The scar on his shoulder, though deemed superficial by Judeau, seemed to throb angrily with each beat of his heart, a lasting reminder of his failure to keep him from leaving. He’d separated from his companions not long after the encounter, wordlessly conveying that he wished to be left alone. He did not miss the despair filled look Casca had sent towards Guts’ retreating figure, lingering just a little too long to be brushed aside as nothing, especially as the others worriedly converged around him immediately. But that was a problem for another time. Right now, he had a new charge, one that he’d pursue with the calm ferocity he usually reserved for battle. If it were anyone else, he’d have let them go, true to his word that staying with him was ultimately their choice.
But not Guts. Never Guts.
He was going to bring him back, by force if it came to that. How dare he leave? He was his and his alone!
An unfamiliar anger burned in his chest, leaving no room for plain reason. It fuelled him as he made his way to the palace stables, the pouring rain hardly fazing him. No mere act of nature was going to keep him from his possession. Quickly saddling his horse, hands going through the motions while scenes from that morning tore through his mind, unrelenting.
He wasted no time, dashing out into the storm, the city gates falling behind him as he rode onward into the forest.
“He could not have gotten far,” he thought. “Especially on foot in this weather.”
It was almost as if an unknown force was guiding him through the darkness that threatened to envelop him. Bright blue eyes blazing with single minded purpose and pure fury, scanned the thick woodland for any sign of him. A flicker of firelight, the glint of a sword… Anything! Not once did the sheer impossibility of his task daunt him. Guts was his, and nothing was going to keep him from him.
After what could have been a few minutes or perhaps several hours of searching, his hawk-like eyes caught sight of a flame, dancing beneath a copse of closely intertwined trees, forming a natural shelter. Sensing that his quest might be drawing to an end, Griffith quickly dismounted, edging closer with the elegance of a predator stalking its prey.
Meanwhile, sheltered by the leafy branches over him, Guts’ ears pricked at the familiar sound of hooves drawing near, distinct despite the rain. Hand on his sword, he quietly rose and hid just out of sight. Living through countless battles had trained both his mind and body to move silently when confronted with what might be either friend or foe, though going by his previous experiences, the latter was much more likely. The unknown rider came closer and closer before stopping directly next to Guts’ camp. Preparing himself for the worst, Guts’ drew his sword as he heard him dismount, waiting for the right moment to strike. A few moments later, a figure clad in fine but rain drenched clothes stepped into the firelight.
“I knew I’d find you.”
Gut’s voice cut through the air, audible even over the pouring rain. His eyes were fixed on Griffith’s advancing figure, suspicion clouding his gaze, but seeing him unarmed, he lowered his sword.
“Why are you here?” he asked, an undercurrent of anger threatening to creep into his voice.
“You’re coming back with me Guts.”
“Don’t fuck with me Griffith! I won my freedom from you. That was our deal!”
“No.” Griffith stepped closer, the fire further illuminating his delicate features. “We never had a deal Guts, and you are a fool to think so. You are mine, and that is that.”
“Bullshit. I’ve had enough of your damn superiority. You think that you can just walk in here and demand that I come back? I’m not just another one of your followers who’ll do whatever the hell you ask, Griffith! I need to find my own path.”
Griffith took a deep breath, willing himself to regain control of his turbulent thoughts, to soothe the frenzy building deep within him. “I know your path Guts. And you know it too. You were never meant to leave my side. Why can’t you just accept that?”
“Never leave your side, eh?” Guts laughed mirthlessly. “So you expect me to give up my whole life just to accompany you for the rest of yours? I don’t think you understand Griffith. I helped get you to your dream. You’re so close to achieving what you set out to do! What else is left for me here? You know that palace life and all that shit doesn’t suit me! What could you possibly gain from having me stay?”
“That does not concern you.”
“I’d say it fucking does.” snarled Guts through gritted teeth
Griffiths pale blue eyes narrowed as he stepped even closer. “You may say whatever you wish. But you are returning with me.”
“Oh yeah? Last I checked, you don’t even have a sword anymore. How are you going to get me to go with you without even that?”
“I don’t need it.” he said simply. “You will come with me.”
Griffith then fell silent watching Guts intently with those unsettling eyes causing the latter to take a hesitant half-step backwards stopping when his back came into contact with rough tree bark.
Griffith’s voice broke through the silence. “How could someone like you make me forget my dream?”
“Griffith what are you-”
“Don’t” he spat, voice full of bitterness. “Do not speak.”
Half formed thoughts raced through his head, scenes full of anguish and grief. During his journey, he’d gone over a thousand different things that he wanted to say to him, but now standing directly in front of him, none of them seemed right. He felt tears, unbidden, prick the corners of his eyes.
“You cannot leave me Guts.” he choked out, hands coming up to clench the front of Guts’ shirt. “Not now. Not when I still need you.”
Guts could not stop the pang of sadness that rippled through him at the sight of the man he so admired so full of despair by his own doing. Hesitantly, he brought his hand up to lightly grip a shaking shoulder.
“Griffith, I… I heard you that day.” Gaining no response from the shivering man below him, he continued. “When you were with the princess, after I…” he left his sentence hanging, the memory of the carnage he caused that night under his orders, still fresh in his mind. “You said that a true friend of yours could never rely on another’s dream. If that’s what you truly believe, why can’t you just let me go? Or is it that you just can’t accept the fact that I don’t want to simply be your subordinate anymore?”
“Guts,” came Griffiths muffled voice.
“No, you are going to hear me out this time!” growled Guts. “All I wanted ever since you forced me to join you, was to be considered your equal. And hey, maybe I was a fool, but for a time I actually believed that I was until that day. For someone who’s so obsessed with reaching his dream, you don’t seem to understand that I need to reach mine too.”
“Guts,” he repeated.
“I’m not sure if my dream even exists out there but I need to at least try to search for it. And I’m sorry about leaving you and the Hawks but there’s nothing here for me. I just don’t have any reason to stay anymore.”
At that, Griffith finally raised his head, eyes locking with Guts’. A silent battle raged behind his eyes, so bright with something akin to fury. Suddenly, the war inside him was over and something within him snapped as he lunged forwards, yanking Guts’ head down so it was level with his.
“Mine,” he whispered against slightly parted lips. “Always mine.”
Before Guts’ could even react to his words, Griffith had sealed their mouths together in a searing kiss that burnt away anything he’d meant to say.
Guts started at the sudden contact, thrown off by his seemingly uncharacteristic behavior. Of all the things Griffith could have done, he’d done what he’d least expected. Disorientated, Guts attempted to separate himself from him, only to be held in place by a hand that clutched the back of his head in a vice grip. Griffiths eyes were open, pools of fierce blue flames, boring into him as if threatening him to move.
Frustrated by Guts’ lack of response, Griffith nipped at his bottom lip, drawing blood and causing the former to gasp. Griffith seized the opportunity, using it to forcefully slide his tongue into the other’s warm mouth. The sudden pain snapped Guts’ out of his confused haze, causing him to frantically shove the other away from him.
“G-Griffith,” he panted. “What the fuck are you thinking?”
Griffith merely stepped closer once again, his expression unreadable. “Just submit, Guts. It will be easier for the both of us. I know you want this,” he shrugged. “And even if you do not, does it truly matter anymore?”
“Stop making decisions for me!” snarled Guts. “Was this it all along? Were you just planning to use me like this whenever you felt like it then?”
“No.”murmured Griffith. “I had resigned myself to the fact that I would never have you in this way, but now I will not be denied any longer.”
Guts snorted at that. “Oh really? Or I could just kill you right now,” he said, hand moving back to grip the handle of his sword. “I’m giving you one more chance to just back away and leave me be. Don’t make me do something we’ll both regret, Griffith.”
“You’re leaving me Guts. Right when I need you the most.” Griffith moved even closer, unperturbed by Guts’ threats. Bringing his hand up, he cautiously traced his fingers down the side of Guts’ face. “Give me this at least. As a small comfort” he whispered, something akin to desperation tinging his voice.
Guts was at a loss for words. It broke something within him to know that he had reduced such a proud man to the shivering figure that stood before him. Had his departure affected him that much? It seemed impossible and yet here he was.
“Griffith, I don’t know.” said Guts’ hesitantly. God what was wrong with him? Why was he even considering this insane request?
“Just….let me have this.” he whispered shakily, his breaths coming in erratic bursts. “Please.”
“I-,” Guts stopped, seeing for the first time the slight gleam of tears trailing down the others face. His heart ached at the sight. Slowly bringing his hand up to cup the other’s face, he dragged his thumb across a delicate cheekbone, wiping away a tear that threatened to spill over. Griffith was truly breathtaking, that he couldn’t deny. The first time he saw him, up on that hill during their duel three long years ago, he couldn’t help but wonder if he truly was a mere mercenary and not some runaway noble. With his long silver hair, fair unblemished skin and haunting blue eyes, his appearance walked the fine line between something absolutely beautiful and something absolutely terrifying.
“Alright.” he sighed. “Do what you will.”
Guts was mistaken to have expected at least some hesitation on Griffith’s part. Once those words left his mouth, the latter pulled him in swiftly, connecting their lips together in another kiss, albeit less fierce than their first. Griffith’s lips moved slowly under Guts’ still ones, coaxing him to respond. Mimicking the other’s movements, Guts’ brought a hand up to cup the side of his face, holding him in place. While he still wasn’t entirely sure of what he was doing, or why he even agreed to this in the first place, it was not nearly as bad as he’d expected it to be. Griffith’s lips were soft and warm, an almost welcome distraction from the chill of the forest around them. Sliding his eyes shut to avoid Griffith’s open gaze, he slowly felt himself becoming lost in the kiss. Griffith’s hands migrated to Guts’ arms, nails digging into his bare flesh possessively. Spurred on by Guts’ compliance, Griffith slipped his tongue back into his mouth, quickly taking control. Guts almost let out a snort at that. Griffith was not one to give up control in anything, not even in this, it seemed. All thoughts fled from his mind at the first brush of their tongues. A low buzz of pleasure seemed to travel up his spine at the contact, fleeting as it was. Griffith explored his mouth slowly, taking his time to trace the interior. Sensing Guts’ obvious inexperience, Griffith took the lead, deepening the kiss.
“Guts,” he murmured against the other’s mouth. He had so much he wanted to say to him, so much to tell him. How he made him forget about his dream. How he had unconsciously and almost unwillingly been changed by his very presence. Guts could not possibly have known otherwise. But the words just wouldn’t come. No matter, if words failed him, then he would just have to simply show him instead.
Moving his hands down Guts’ broad chest, he could not repress the shudder that passed through him. He’d thought about this before, about ghosting his hands over the hard planes of muscle, pockmarked by countless battle scars. Unable to resist what lay before him, so ripe for the taking, he moved his hands under Guts’ shirt, pushing it up. Guts didn’t resist, a kind of calm acceptance dominating his features, pulling the piece of fabric over his head and dropping it on the ground.
Now unhindered by fabric, Griffith took a moment to run his hands down Guts’ newly revealed chest. His skin burned under his fingertips, an intoxicating warmth. Griffith could not have pulled them away even if he tried. Closer, he needed to be closer, to meld with Gut’s until they became the very same entity. Just let him try to leave him then!
Before Griffith could do anything further, his body was wracked with a bout of shivers. With all that had happened since he arrived, he’d almost forgotten that he had been absolutely drenched by rain. Teeth chattering, he pressed his body flush against Guts’, desperate for his warmth.
“You’ll to freeze to death like this.” said Guts quietly. Bringing his hands over to the opening of Griffith’s coat, he fixed him with a glance. “Can I?” he asked, leaving the obvious question unasked.
Griffith nodded, prompting Guts to slide the soaked garment off him. Guts’ fingers were soon back on him, clumsily unbuttoning the high necked shirt he was wearing, slowly exposing smooth pale skin, so unlike Guts’ own. He flinched at the sight of Griffiths right shoulder, now marred by his sword, quickly averting his eyes. Realizing Guts’ discomfort, Griffith quickly flicked open the remaining buttons, sliding his shirt off smoothly before pressing their bare chests together. Continuing their earlier kiss, his hands wandered over Guts’ wide frame, fingers skating reverently over each and every scar. How many of these did he inadvertently cause, he wondered. How many did Guts earn in his service? Were they marks symbolizing his resentment towards him? Did he even resent him at all? These questions flew through Griffith’s head, each louder than the last. The kiss turned aggressive as he clung on to him to silence the voices. Guts responded, making up for his inexperience by mimicking Griffith’s movements. As the atmosphere around them grew heated, Griffith could not prevent the small moans escaping his lips. As much as he hated Guts seeing him in such a pitiful, desperate state, he found that at least for now, he could not care less about that. All he wanted was right before him.
When he’d had his fill of Guts’ lips, he trailed his mouth downwards, pressing several harsh, claiming kisses to his jaw, before doing the same to his neck. Guts hissed and sighed at the treatment, fingers tightly wound in loose hair, shining silver in the soft light. Griffith couldn’t help the slight upward twitch of his lips at the small noises Guts made. So he was enjoying himself then.
Determined to further fan the flames of arousal building up within Guts' core, Griffiths hands slid further down his torso, reaching the hem of his trousers. Deft fingers quickly unlaced them before slipping in to stroke his arousal. Guts let out a rough moan at the touch, head dipping to rest on Griffith’s shoulder.
“Guts.” breathed Griffith, working his own arousal free to press their lengths together. Griffith sighed at the further contact, teeth catching on his bottom lip. It wasn’t enough though, it could never be enough. He craved more, he wanted to mark, to claim every inch of Guts there was. To leave no room for doubt that he belonged to him. He needed to feel him, to be connected with him in the most intimate of ways. However, he would have to settle for this, fleeting as it may be.
Bringing Guts’ hand down to join his, he curled his fingers around their lengths, sliding his palm upwards, relishing in the slow drag of friction. Guts’ mind clouded over slowly, sweet bliss overtaking his senses as he let the last of his inhibitions fall away, letting Griffith lead him to the peaks of pleasure.
Joining their lips together again, Griffith licked his way into Guts’ mouth, simultaneously increasing the speed of their joined hands. Their surroundings seemed to disappear, leaving behind only the two of them, lost in each other. Griffith could barely think anymore, the only thing left in his mind being his imminent release.
It didn’t take long after that for them to reach their respective peaks, Guts’ coming right after him. Griffith took a few moments to even out his breathing, dizzy from the absolute rapture he had just experienced. Shame and self loathing soon began to wash over him, crawling over his skin like hundreds of tiny ants, biting and scratching at his unclean flesh. How could he have given in like this? How could he have exposed the raw unaltered emotions he spent so much time and energy locking away, only to break down completely in front of the only person he ever truly needed? He felt Guts’ hands come to rest of his shoulders, ready to push him away, presumably. Griffith shuddered at the thought, wanting no more than to simply fall asleep on the warm body he was leaning on. Even after all the countless battles and sleepless nights he’d been through, he’d never felt more exhausted he was right then.
“Griffith.” Guts’ voice, although steady, jarred Griffith out of his thoughts. “You...” he said, voice heavy with something Griffith could not place.
Griffith did not say anything. How could he? Words would not come to him. All he could do was hold on to the body before him, silently begging him not to let him go.
“Does me staying really mean that much to you?” asked Guts.
Griffith gave the slightest of nods, burying his head further in Guts’ neck. Overwhelmed, Guts sighed, hand coming up to card through silver hair.
“You know,” he said, eyes fixed on him. “When I first saw you that day, some part of me knew that you were going to be someone special. Of course that didn’t stop me from wanting to beat the shit out of you, but…” he trailed off. “Griffith,” he tried, “Staying with you forever? Once I thought I’d be able to do that, fighting by your side until either one of us dropped dead.”
“What has changed then?”
“I wanted to be your equal. I still do actually. But now, I don’t know if I can pursue that dream if it means leaving you like this. Goddamn you Griffith, you were supposed to be stronger than this!”
Griffith did not respond, the silence surrounding them remaining unbroken until Guts sighed once more.
“Alright,” he said, his tone bitter. “You win, I’ll stay.”
Griffith looked up at him, eyes blazing once more.”That’s not enough Guts. You know what I want.”
Guts weighed his options, unwavering before him. Even now, as he agreed to stay, he knew it wouldn’t be permanent. Griffith must have sensed it in his tone, prompting him to demand even more from him. The words the other wanted danced before him, hovering just out of reach. Whether or not he truly meant them was not important for now. Griffith just needed to hear them, to soothe his shattered soul, to regain the sense of control he thought he had over the other. Truly that was worth this small lie?
“I belong to you, Griffith.”
At those words, Griffith extracted himself from the other’s arms, the low light of triumph shining just behind his eyes. Bringing his palms up to cup Guts’ face, he smiled, mirroring his actions three years before.
“Yes Guts,” he said, voice shaking slightly with elation. “You do.”