Seeing Red (Akira x Jeromé)

Starting something new – since I write so much shit for my crew and accost my poor flickr and IG followers with it, I will cross-post it to my blog too.

Akira was born into the right family and his father has never let him forget that, installed gratitude for his heritage into him right from the beginning. He goes through the fast track of the military university, a general already at an age where his peers only start to consider if they should apply to higher positions or enjoy their laissez-faire a while longer. When his father is killed in action, High King Arundel promotes him to the head of Moskaw’s army where he starts to gain the trust and loyalty of his subordinates by being a fair commander that shows now favoritism and stands up for his own.

He is reasonably sure that his life would have taken a different path had he not fallen in lust with Jeromé, whom he was supposed to arrest but instead fucks in a shady alley behind one of the seedier pubs and denies ever meeting him. Their affair is quick as a bushfire and with the same inability to control the occurring damage, property related or otherwise. He draws the line at Jeromé actively sneaking into the palace to kill the High King. Lust (and maybe love, foolish as that is) is one thing, treason a whole other caliber and he has sworn his oath of fealty and he sticks to it.

The guard’s uniform had never felt heavier afterwards and his demeanor gets more serious, more focused. He drills it into every soldier’s head that the king’s life is more important than theirs, that the oath they swore is their sole reason to live.

It would have ended there probably, with Akira as the solemn head of the guards but the queen gives birth to a son and the son, albeit highly praised at first, soon turns out to be an uttermost disappointment to his father. So he gets left to nannies and guards and rarely sees the outside world till the then five-year-old boy escapes his rooms and his watchers’ eyes and ends up holed in Akira’s room in the barracks.

They strike up a friendship that day – Akira the royal guard and Khaled the useless heir.

(They gravitate towards each other whenever possible. Khaled following Akira like an eager puppy and Akira doing his best to make the boy’s childhood a happy one, regardless of the king’s and queen’s tries to the contrary.)

Akira is the one to see him off when Khaled leaves the city after his marriage to Varekai and it is him Khaled misses when he thinks of ‘home’.

„I want you to be the child’s godfather“, Khaled announces one afternoon, sitting cross-legged on Akira’s cot, watching him mull over the guards rotation schedule. „Won’t your father be offended if you pick me over him? „, he inquires, the quill dragging steadily over the parchment. „The High King has no interest in this child. The Queen is pregnant again and with luck my child will be born and you will be his godfather before we know if hers is the blessed better son Arundel has been praying for.“ He agrees then because if he does not accept, who will make sure that this child is safe from Arundel as well?

(When the Queen’s child is born and turns out to be a girl, Khaled’s son has already been entrusted in his care.)

Akira had had a vision when High King Arundel announced the annulment of Khaled’s and Varekai’s marriage and the subsequent new marriage to Rajko. Nothing to write home about certainly, especially nothing to alert the seer guild, but he has seen Rajko in battle and outside and there is no difference in the man’s demeanor. He has seen it go down in flames before it inevitable truly does.

(And when it does, a whole contingent of soldiers is dead and Khaled is on the flight and Arundel rages on and on and yells at his soldiers, at the Council of God, at everything and everyone an Akira stands at his shoulder and thinks “your fault, yours alone” and “please let him be safe”.)

There are enough versions of his final showdown with the High King floating around to fill a book. His favorite is still the one where he shifts into a dragon and flies off into the sunset. As usual, the truth is far bleaker. He just tears off his insignia and throws them to High King Arundel’s feet before he strides out.

(Fast, because he is no fool and he knows that as soon as Arundel recalls his wits he himself will be a persona non grata and if he isn’t out of the city when this happens all his defiance will be for naught because he will spend the last of his years rotting in a cell.)

He lets his hair grow out till it reaches his hips and then he pulls it up in a high ponytail that whips around him as he moves through his katas.

(He who has always chastised his recruits for running around with their hair long and full of vanity has now stooped to their level. “Rōnin” people whisper when he passes them on the road and he howls out in laughter.)

It turns out that this search has a reason why countless of high paid bloodhunters failed at the task – Khaled seems to have vanished from Silmä altogether, not a trace of him to be found anywhere but old wives’ tales and rumors.

(He supposes it is at least nice to get to know all of Silmä while he travels through the continents like a leaf in the wind.)

The first true lead he gets on his wards whereabouts is when he hears of a new power rising, a woman and a man under the flag of a raven, holding a lily in its claws. But they are the reports of a red haired man always a step behind them that make him pause. He’s never been a tracker but his travels have afforded him a certain skill in having connections to the major networks of information so it is only a matter of time till he hears a name uttered that he takes as a cue to leave – Land’s End.

(Land’s End is – quite frankly – a bog. Not even a particularly nice one but one of the smelly variant that tries its damnest to eat him up and he ends up getting stuck. Because of course he does. The hand that reaches out to him all of a sudden to pull him out is a welcome surprise. The man attached to the hand less so.)

„Oh this bitch!“, Jeromé grouses and sounds suspiciously fond: “ First I’ll kill her. And then him cause I am sure they are in it together.“ He pierces Akira with a questioning look in his steel grey eyes: „Why are you here?“ As Jeromé was clearly sent as a welcoming party he sees no reason to lie: „To find Khaled.“
„Wait, Arundel’s wayward son? The one Arundel is paying a whole platoon of bloodhunters for to find him since years? The one whose head the Council and the High King both want on a platter albeit for different reasons? Why the fuck are you looking for him?“ – „To see if he is safe.“
Jeromé starts laughing then and does not stop for quite a while before he visibly pulls himself together. „Only you“, he says fondly: „Only you would turn rogue just to check on your wayward duckling.“ But he beckons him to follow through the trees: „I looked for you, you know, once I got out of Kur di Bin. But you seemed to have been swallowed by the earth itself, though I heard many varied stories of your last disagreement with Arundel.“
Akira snorts: „My favorite is the one where I turned into a dragon and flew off into the sunset, leaving only piles of ashes behind“, then he sobers: „Why were you looking for me in the first place?“
The other smiles awkward and rubs his neck: „You left an impression“ – „We knew each other for two weeks!“ – „A lasting impression!“

(It is gratifying to see Khaled again and have him throw himself into his arms without hesitation as if he were still a child that came to the barracks to seek out the only true father he had ever known.)