Title: At the End of the Day - Shadows (1/2)
General/PG (for course langauge)
Partnership has finally been reached for our two favorite outlaws! But to say they're happy with the arrangement is a bit of an understatement. Can this partnership last much longer under the strain of annoyance and distrust? Or will they drive each other insane first? An introspective fic.
Time Line:
Season unknown, 2458 A.S. Ten years after Pact.
Sin – 458 years; Draca – 103 years; Gwen – 19 years; Kyris – 43 years

Standard Disclaimer: This series will eventually include yaoi/slash and adult themes! If you don't like it, DON'T READ.

At the End of the Day - Shadows

"Hatred and anger are powerless when met with kindness."

At the end of the day, no holds barred, and all things considered – the man is a cold bastard. End of story.

No, really. That's it.

What more can he say than that? He had taken to living in the man's spacious flat only a short decade ago – a mere blink of an eye for him. And what does he actually know about this man he calls his partner – this cold bastard? Nothing! Nothing of real importance, anyway. He only knows his assumptions – the little things he has pieced together from their numerous encounters and now from the close quarters which they share. His assumptions are never confirmed nor denied, because the man is a secretive bastard as well as a cold one, and getting him to talk about something personal is like convincing a Dragon to give away gold. It just doesn't happen. Ever.

So he is forced to listen to the rumors which saturate nearly every corner of the Haven, ranging from the laughable to the so-crazy-it-might-just-be-true to the eerily familiar:

"He's the greatest Alchemist of the age, you know." Well, he hasn't met many other Alchemists, but he realizes that there's some truth in that. The man is brilliant when it comes to Alchemy.

"They say he was exiled from Omega for performing forbidden transmutations." He immediately recalls the curious symbols on the man's arm. Interesting – eerie. He logs that away for further investigation.

"He's actually the crowned prince of the Ice Fayth, incognito." He snickers at this, he can't help it. It's not true, he knows that for sure. But it just fits.

"I heard that he was born of Angels." He frowns at that, and immediately dismisses it. Those of Angel blood – even the slightest hint of it – are born with the wings of the Angels. Angels die when their wings are brutally injured or removed. His partner has no wings to speak of. You do the math. Besides, him – a being of goodness and light? Utterly ridiculous.

"Someone told me he's got a thing for that partner of his – the Vampyre. What was his name again?" It is only after he picks up the broken and scarred pieces of his brain that he endeavors to discourage that rumor as soon as possible!

"No, I heard he was in this sordid love affair with the Archangel Gabriel." Slightly less disturbing, but no less far-fetched. The main reason being that Gabriel was dead and only hanging around Viranus as a ghost.

"I thought it was Archangel Gabriel and High Sorcerer Ambrose?" Again one is dead and the other... wasn't Ambrose going on 2,500 years old or something?

"Y'know, I think he's waiting for that girl, Gwen, to come of age. What? That relationship can't be healthy! I mean, have you seen -" Yes, as a matter of fact, he has been a witness to the almost otherworldly fondness the young woman has for the man (and seemingly vice versa). But no. Forgive the childishness, but ew. He doesn't think he can look at either of them in the eye for weeks.

"Nah, I have it on very reliable authority that he has a wife and kid on the mainland." He can only shake his head at this. Why all the romantic gossip? Don't they realize that anything romantic and that man is utterly laughable?

"Yeah, well I've got it on good authority that he has a thing for women's clothing, if you know what I mean." The conspirators of this particular rumor are promptly scared off as he bursts into uncontrollable laughter at those implications. He even considers procuring some women's lingerie on the way back for the hell of it. He doesn't, if only for the fear of the wrath it would incur.

And while these rumors are somewhat amusing, there seems to be no one in the Haven who actually knows anything. Not even Kyris – bless her, that wonderful woman, regardless of her mild suspicions of him – knows much.

For the man is as solitary as he is secretive to boot. He often feels as if he's the only one living in the flat, for all the times he actually sees the man. In the instances which both of them are present – which, due to their demanding professions, is few and far between – the man is locked away in his study on the second floor for days on end. Whenever the man leaves on a solo commission he will lock the room and erect a mythril barrier around it through Alchemy. The damned bastard doesn't trust him – and, under different circumstances, he would've been able to accept that.

But when the man invites him to share his home, to give him a place to hide during the day, he cannot accept it. He can't even begin to understand it.

The man is backwards, contradictory, and about as friendly as a Shadow on a sunny day. The exception being, of course, the aloof kindness he shows to the Haven residents; the quiet companionship for motherly, redheaded barmaids; and the startling fondness for young Kitsune who thinks the world of him. And what does he receive? Biting remarks, suspicious glares, and (more often than not) complete ignorance to the fact that he exists, let alone the fact that he is sentient.

They take joint missions as well as their own commissions – which they'd become infamous for in the Underground. These joint missions are both a relief and a curse. A relief because the ridiculous farce of domestic life is ripped away, leaving only the silent (albeit strained) camaraderie of the battlefield. He can relax here in the bloodshed. He can lose himself and give in to his Vampyric instincts. But even here there is no true escape from the spite of his partner. It is only easier to deal with. He can partially ignore the suspicious looks at his back or the way the man seems to double check everything he does. He pretends not to notice.

It's as if the man is just waiting for him to stab him in the back – which is twice as annoying as that damned collar around his neck (a symbol of distrust if there ever was one).

He often wonders why he's stuck around for ten years; why he doesn't just find some other place to hide during the day. It wouldn't be difficult. So why doesn't he? He doesn't have an answer as of yet. He hopes one comes to him soon.

Because, when he thinks about it, he liked his life before the cold assassin so much better. Sure, there was that sense of uncertainty – would he find food tonight? Would he find shelter from the sun? - but that's the reason he thrives on danger today. He'd spent close to seventy-five years living that uncertain life, and he turned out just fine. He doesn't need a stable place to stay. He knows how to survive under his own power.

So why the hell is he still here?

The answer comes to him on no certain terms one afternoon after a particularly taxing job. He is stumbling along in the noon sunlight after his cold bastard of a partner – body trembling with exhaustion and in need of sleep. There is no place, no time for him to rest, however. The next boat to the Haven is leaving soon, and they are still miles from port. He silently curses the man ahead of him – damned cold, contradictory, secretive, solitary, suspicious, Sin – and his need to get to the Haven as soon as possible. He knows his glares are ignored, just as they always are.

But Sin surprises him on this day, as the man turns and looks him over with those blind but all-seeing eyes. He waits for some insult or demand to quicken his pace, but none come. Instead Sin sighs and lifts the lapel of his vest, revealing a newly-sewn pocket on the inside of the garment. The man doesn't move to take anything from it, but simply stares expectantly at him. He can't help but gape in confusion.

In lieu of explanation, Sin simply gestures with his head. "Well? Come on." It is only when another wave of exhaustion flows over him that he gets over his shock. He immediately dissolves into shadows, into a less complex familiar – the miniature shadow wyvern form that he has become quite fond of. He moves as that small, stealthy form into the pouch of cloth, curling into the warmth of the nearby body and the bliss of sweet darkness. His new shelter is settled back against the warm body, and a heartbeat fills his ears. They begin moving again, at a faster pace than before, and he realizes that Sin had been slowing down for his benefit.

And he thinks to himself, as he is lulled to sleep by the rhythmic footsteps and beating heart, that at the end of the day – maybe having a partner isn't so bad.

Even if Sin is a cold bastard.

"Hatred and anger are powerless when met with kindness."

Walk on, Traveler of Worlds.

Nothing much, just a short introspection between the guys.

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Thanks for reading!