title: cast in shadows
pairing: guy/ natalia
spoilers: end of game.
summary: he doesn't stay hidden in the background because he wants to. set in between the time gap, as the party mourns.
Sometimes, when the sun is about to set and he knows she'll be there, he stands in the shadows of the fonstone fragment and watches the world turn varying shades of brilliant orange. Looking down at his skin, at his clothes, at his hair, he thinks about what it would be like to live in such vivid colours.
What if his hair was a dark, vibrant red, instead of this washed out, faded blond? What if his clothes were black and elegant and lined with flashes of colour, instead of this drab, plain manservants' garb? What if his skin was a little less tan, a little less yellow, a little more colourless, what if it was pale and white and a stark contrast against his hair and clothes?
He likes to think that his existence would become more colourful, that she would sit up and take notice of him, that he would be able to command her attention with ease.
But then the sun sets, and she begins to sob quietly, shoulders shaking almost imperceptibly, and he looks down again and sees himself blending in perfectly with his surroundings. His yellow hair, his yellow skin, his yellow hued clothing, all covered by the blown sand and dusty wind and dark, dark moonlight.
And when she slowly begins to fold into herself, sobs so loud now that he can hear them from so far away, he never knows what to do. Each and every time, he wants so badly to approach her, to comfort her, to hold her close and tell her that he'll always be there for her, that he'll never leave her, that he'll never make her cry, that he has never once taken her for granted, that he'll always appreciate her and tell her how much he loves her so that she never forgets and never needs to cry over anyone else ever again.
But he never does, and then it's dawn, and the sun is rising, and he's still standing there watching her, still immobilized, wrestling with himself in the shadows. When the sun finally strikes the fonstone fragment and scatters light across the oasis, his feet become unglued from the sand, and he begins to step backwards slowly, heading back towards the inn.
This part is like a game to him. It's the most morbidly light-hearted part of the whole night, where each step backward is more deliberate than the last, more hesitant, more reluctant. Some part of him, deep inside, wishes hard, wishes as hard as he can for her to turn around, for her to notice him, standing there in the light, clearly visible and out of the shadows and watching her, waiting for her, to acknowledge his presence, for once, instead of pretending he isn't there, pretending he doesn't matter,
but she never does.
So he goes back into the inn and sits in the lobby, waiting, again. For her to come back in, for someone else to come downstairs, for fatigue to catch up with him. But nothing happens, and he always ends up trudging back to his room, tossing and turning on top of the covers, sweating and uncomfortable, as the desert heat creeps in and the sun bakes the inn.
And when he's sure everyone else is already awake and already downstairs, he goes down and greets them, and nobody mentions her swollen, bloodshot eyes, and nobody mentions the way sand trickles down from the folds of his clothes, and nobody mentions anything, because everybody is dealing with their grief by pretending it doesn't exist.
Instead, they silently eat breakfast, and silently pack up their belongings, and silently begin to make their way through the desert to Chesedonia. And as they leave the desert oasis, he catches her looking back one last time, at the fonstone fragment, at how the sunlight strikes through the fragment and illuminates the shadows beneath it, and the small crevice where he normally stands is lit up by the sunlight and all the shadows disappear.
Then her gaze flicks over to him, and their eyes meet, and they hold each other's gazes, daring each other to say something, to say anything; but neither backs down, so she looks away, looks back down at the ground, back down at the ground so she can pretend there's nothing wrong, pretend there's nothing to acknowledge, nothing to realize.
And as they trudge through the desert, he looks up at the hot sun beating down on them, wondering why, even in the sunlight, even when he can feel the heat and the light and the sweat trickling down him, even when the light has chased away all the darkness and all the shadows have disappeared and everything about him should be plainly visible for all to see, he wonders why he still feels as though he's cast in shadows.
notes: written for fanficland's first weekly challenge, but they up and moved or something and didn't tell any of us and i was so close to losing this piece until waterintheriver told me to check my email notifications cache rofl such a smart cookie ♥ so yes, i'm basically just reposting this ahah