Timelines - Chapter 1

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by KnifeSmile

Libraries: General, Misc Fanfiction (other), One Shots

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Wrote this one a while ago during my Xenogears/Citan kick. It goes on from there but I don't like that section so I'm omitting it, particularly as it contains high emotional stuff which I don't think I'm particularly good at writing. So.

      Dark eyes.
      Black hair, too. Sharp cheekbones, a strong chin, expressive mouth. A long face, but not pinched or pointed; graceful. Perhaps elegant, some might say. He wouldn't, but some might. But mostly eyes.
      Dark, angular eyes.
      Citan eyed his reflection in the mirror, his expression somewhere between watchful and wary. Somehow, even though he recognised that face as his own, knew intuitively <i>that's me in there, that's what I look like</i>, he had trouble identifying <i>himself</i> with it, couldn't connect his internal self-appraisal, analysis, and feel with the man staring at him dubiously from the other side of the glass. That face belonged to someone else, he felt. It was the face of a strong man, a man who knew what he was doing and where he was going. Or so it seemed to him, anyhow. Reading people had never been one of his strong suits, exactly, but what good was a man who couldn't read himself? Yet somehow, he couldn't bridge the gap between the man in the mirror and the man looking at it.
     It had a strong cast, a gentle manner, and intelligent eyes.
     And it looked so young.
     How could it be his own?
     "You are not," someone informed him, in a voice saturated with a dry, almost smug kind of patience, the tone of a man who was well accustomed to reconnecting people to reality, this person in particular. It came directly out of nowhere. Another man would have jumped; Hyuga (Citan, I'm Citan now) exhaled, the left corner of his mouth twitching. The expression would have looked mildly annoyed to most, and that was the intent of the expressor, but the unfortunate reality was that he was trying hard not to smile.
     "I am not what, exactly?" He returned, equally deserty, turning slowly to face the platinum blond leaning indolently in the doorway. One black eyebrow quirked upward in a challenge, though he knew he would lose. He always did, at least at this particular game. They'd played it with each other for years -- Sig would catch him being self-critical somehow and try to startle, tease, and argue him out of it, with Hyu forcing his friend to drag him every metaphorical step of the way, out of stubborn certitude or just plain orneryness, either by actively fighting or playing dead; whichever seemed like it would annoy Sigurd more at the time. Overall, it was a mature act of friendship and concern couched in the high rituals of childhood, mainly because for most of the years they'd been together, they'd been children themselves. It had been a long time since then, and in public he was sometimes awed by his friend's innate strength, bearing, and nobility of the soul (though he'd never, ever, ever admit it, <i>especially</i> not to Sig), but in private, when they were alone together, it was like they'd never grown up, never spent these years apart.
    And anyway, even if they didn't have that shared history and understanding, Sigurd had a way of seeing into people, knowing their feelings. He could even mark total strangers with a fair amount of accuracy. In the dark-eyed one's experience, few motions and notions of the heart escaped Sigurd's notice, and Hyuga (Citan!) in particular was vulnerable, with their long mutual association -- and trust -- and hence long mutual closeness and understanding. But even without that, Sigurd just... knew things.
     Damn him.
     "Old. I know you think every year you've lived is worth three times its normal value, but I have news for you: You're thirty. <i>Just</i> thirty. A mere babe," Sigurd flashed him a grin, utterly without sympathy, white teeth shining in a nut-brown face as he wiggled his fingers negligently, dismissing the accumulated years of his friends' life as a mere pittance, no significant sum at all. The dark-eyed one really did feel at least ninty, sometimes; he resented the comment for its accuracy more than anything else. Citan's nose wrinkled, eyes narrowing just slightly. He still had to struggle against a smile (Cursed rebellious flesh!) just for the whole game itself, but the annoyance in the expression he managed was less feigned. Slightly.
     He decided to feint.
     "Twenty-nine, Sigurd, twenty-nine."
     "Since when have you started proving my points for me?"
     "I would hazard the answer to be: since you started pointing out the obvious."
     Sigurd threw a knicknack at him, snatching the nearest object from a tabletop and pitching it overhand with all the impulsive aggression of a boy who's just lost the round to a dark horse contender. Citan ducked easily, his right hand snapping up instinctively as his head moved out of range with a nigh-contemptuous if unconscious ease, catching the object and lobbing it back in a single motion. Sigurd ducked sideways, letting it bounce off the wall and capturing it on the rebound. "Not bad," the tall man admired, lifting his pale eyebrows at his old friend. "You haven't ever been able to let yourself slack off, have you? And here I thought married life was going to soften you, Hyu."
     Hyuga (...?) allowed himself a small smile. "By thus statement, Sig, you reveal yourself as a bachelor. A married man has a thousand more reasons than you could imagine to never, ever relax his guard."
     Sigurd laughed. "I bet you wouldn't say that in front of Yui."
     "Reason number six seventy-nine."
     Seating himself on the spare chair, backwards with his arms crossed over the chair's back, Sigurd just grinned again and shook his head, mock-despairingly. Citan again allowed himself a grin in return. They were, of course, behaving like children... no, like they were still teenagers in training, blissfully unaware of the complexities of the world and free to fool around. Throwing things at each other and cracking bad jokes about matrimonial 'bliss' indeed. It was an obvious escape from the reality of their situation and certain other uncomfortable realities, of course... but it was also one they needed. That Sigurd needed, and he himself needed, little as he cared to concede that truth to himself. They had been apart so long, and now they were thrown back together -- for the moment. Citan knew full well he'd have to leave again, sooner or later. It was too much to hope that Fei's course would remain aligned with the young one's for very long, so he simply didn't. But while he wasn't all that good at relaxing from his duties of thought while alone, if his old friend Sig was presenting him with a chance to pretend he was still young and foolish (as opposed to merely foolish), he, Citan Uzuki once Hyuga Ricdeau, was not going to pass it up. If only for his friend's sake.
     For his friend's sake.
     If only all sacrifices could be made on behalf of a friend.
     Sigurd frowned at him suddenly, and Citan gave the man a quizzical look, pretending he didn't understand. He knew his deception wouldn't fly, but he had to do it anyhow. That was one thing he wasn't willing to share even with Sigurd, and more, he was loathe to kill the mood. It was... fun. Who knew how long it had been since he'd had fun with Sig? Who knew how much longer he'd have to wait to get to again? If he ever did? Even though they were involved now, and thus wouldn't be leaving the Yggdrasil, and thus Sigurd, for at least a small while yet, who knew when the chaos of their work would allow them even a small bit of time like this...?
     Suddenly, Citan decided he would be Hyuga again for a while. He may be Doctor Citan Uzuki to Fei and the young one, and many others besides, but Sigurd Harcourt knew the man Citan used to be, too. Why not?
     "It is nothing," Hyuga told Sigurd quietly, then, letting a small, soft smile tug at the corners of his mouth, the kind he knew would win his friend over without a fight, he said, "Just a small worry."
     "You always were a worrywort, Hyu. And you know, it wouldn't kill you to use a contraction now and then."
     He would be Hyuga, be young, for now. For his friend's sake.
     And for his own.

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