A Caller, a Ninja, and a Bottle of Peach Schnapps
By Katie Miller/SporkGoddess

"I can't believe I'm doing this."

My statement echoed throughout the room, but its one other occupant heard it. Edge and I did nothing but shoot remarks back and forth, and it was not uncommon for me to say that Chubby Chocobo would lose weight before I willingly spent time with him.

So why was I with him tonight, sitting cross-legged on the floor of his room and drinking a small glass of peach schnapps that he'd smuggled in? I can't answer that. If I knew, my life would have been a lot simpler.

"Hey, it's not good to let an ugly expression mar your pretty face. What's bothering you?"

I tried not to smirk. Edge had never failed to keep up his image as a ladies' man, particularly when it came to me. Any normal girl would have been all over him--but as you can guess, I'm not a normal girl.
"I guess I'm just wondering why I chose to spend tonight with you of all people," I said truthfully.
"Because I'm one hell of a guy?" He grinned.
"With one hell of an ego to match," I rolled my eyes.
"That's the nicest thing you've ever said to me," He said, wiping away a fake tear. "Has your heart of ice started to melt, my dear?"
"My heart is only icy where you're concerned," I snapped.
"Hey, at least I have a place in your heart! It's a start!"
"You're desperate, aren't you?"
"What gave me away?"
"Trust me, to answer that would be too cruel for even me."
"You mean your cruelty has limits after all?"

Maybes it sounds odd that the two of us could just sit on the floor slandering each other. Deep down I knew that I enjoyed these battles of wit that only the two of us seemed able to share, no matter how bitchy I became to him. Another thing I refused to admit, but deep down was true, was that I had missed giving him a hard time-or really, had just missed him in general.

We continued on like this for a while, getting out comments we had been hoarding for an entire year, just aching for the chance to say them to each other. It was no secret that he had the hots for me-I think even the Lunarians knew that. He would spout corny and trashy pickup lines and I would give clever, cold responses-the polar opposite of how a girl was supposed to react to when a good-looking king hit on her.

Yes, he was in love with me. I knew that had I given any indication of wanting it to happen, he would have taken me in those strong ninja arms of his and kissed the hell out of me. I have to admit that the thought made my knees weak. How could someone so damned repulsive also be so damned attractive in the process?

Okay, so I wanted him. I admit it. Why didn't I say anything, and disguised my feelings? I have an entire list of reasons, really. Not very good reasons, though-the best one is probably that technically I'm seven years old, and considering that physically and mentally I'm an adult, that's pretty much a stupid excuse right there. I guess I could have been scared... After all, it's a big step. And Edge is experienced in this field-the opposite of what I am. Is there a possibility I wouldn't live up to his expectations?

ARGH, I can't believe myself! Who the hell cares if I don't live up to his expectations? What expectations would he have, anyway? He's the one who wants me. And if a guy really cares that much, then he isn't worth it. Screw him, right?

I kept instilling that soliloquy into my brain, until finally I'd gotten my composure back. After all, I was Rydia Drake, a skilled Caller--one of the heroes whom had saved the world. To be deterred by a man (and Edge of all people) was simply ridiculous.

I was snapped out my reverie when he spoke:
"Rydia? Are you really feeling okay?"
"Well, aren't you Mr. Sensitive?" I scoffed.
"It doesn't take a bard to realize you're brooding," He replied unabashed.

I sighed, and before I could stop him he reached over and took my hand. I blinked, and hoped that the burning I felt on my face wasn't turning the skin red.
"What are you doing?" I demanded.
"I'd rather have you slap me than look so sad," He said as he laid his other hand on top of mine and his intertwined. I stared down at our joined hands, torn between anger at his impertinence, and delight.
"Of course, the perks of being this close to your sexy self don't hurt, either." He winked, then paused as if expecting me to summon Bahamut or something. "What, are you secretly enjoying this? Not that I'd blame you, of course."
"I'm just deciding if I should waste my energy and do a full out Fire 3 spell on you, or just teach you a little lesson and use Fire."
"Sweetheart, it'll take more than a little Fire spell to bring my strong self down. You'd better go with Fire 3."
I removed my hand from his, and smiled sweetly at him. "Or, I could just do this..."
I don't like being one-upped. So, with that being said, I leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. Oh, it wasn't anything like you'd hear about in one of those minstrel songs or anything, just a quick peck if you will. Plus half of his face was covered with cloth anyway. But by his reaction, one would think it was more than that. Maybe to him, that was better than any passionate kisses he'd gotten in the past. Unless I was giving myself way too much credit, but by the way he always acted like I was the prettiest girl on the blue planet, it was a very big possibility.

He just sat there staring at me, finally picking up his glass of wine and taking off his mask so he could drink a bit. This seemed to cure his mental anguish, because he said:
"Hmm, not bad. A little practice (which I'd be more than happy to provide, of course), and you'll be world-class at it. But, let a pro show you how it's done."

I don't know if I can describe what happened next. There are these moments that are so surreal, and so absolutely amazing, that no matter how hard you try to remember them, you can't get every detail right. I just vaguely remember him laying his hands on my shoulders and pulling me forward until our lips met. The jolt my body received would have been able to electrify Zeromus-I'll tell you that much. I've been on the receiving end of Bolt 3 spells, and this somehow beat those. His mouth forced mine to comply, and I found myself trying desperately to keep up. It figured that even something like kissing would be like a battle for us. Yet, like our constant teasing each other, I knew that I enjoyed it. In fact, when we finally broke apart, I found myself wanting him to kiss me again.
"So, did you learn anything?" He sounded calm and jaunty per usual, but I noticed with some satisfaction that his hands were slightly shaking.
It had worked for him earlier, so I grabbed my glass of peach schnapps and raised it to my lips. The warm, delicious liquid flooded into my mouth, snapping me back to reality and reminding me that yes, this was really happening.
"Not bad," I managed to keep my voice steady somehow, "But I would hardly call you a professional."
"It's more of a hobby than an occupation, anyway." He grinned.

I have no idea why what happened next did. I wish I could have blamed it on the wine, but I hadn't consumed very much, and it was no secret that Edge had a high tolerance. Either way, we both lunged for each other: his hands flying to my waist, and my arms wrapping themselves around his neck, pulling his lips closer to mine-if that had been at all possible, anyway. I ran my hands through his hair, briefly wondering if it naturally stood up like that. Once I had made a snide remark about the gallons of hairspray that it must take to get his hair like that, but as far as I could tell, his hair wasn't greasy at all so it must have been natural.
Of course, here I am acting like that was all I was thinking. Trust me, it was the last thing on my mind, as--at the risk of sounding corny--I almost melted into his embrace.

The door opened suddenly, and we sprang apart as quickly as we had grabbed onto each other.
Engineer Cid must have had quite a sight to see as he poked his head inside the door: both of us disheveled, me blushing furiously, Edge giving him a glare that would have scared the bravest warrior.
"Am I interruptin' anything?" He grinned mischievously.
"Whaddya want?" Edge snapped, eyeing me before staring Cid right in the eyes.
"I was gonna rescue Miss Rydia from yer company, but it appears she doesn't mind it." My face felt like it was on fire as I joined Edge in glaring at him.
"Always playin' the innocent, Rydia... Oh well! I'll leave you two lovebirds alone now!" He winked (an odd sight to behold) and left.

Normally either one of us would have cracked a joke. I would have myself, but one look at Edge's face and I knew I shouldn't press any wrong buttons. Yeah, I know-- that's so unlike me. Oh well.
"Did you ask him to do that?" He asked quietly. Edge was rarely quiet, and I felt embarrassed that he was this hurt on my behalf.
"Of course not! Are you dense?" I hoped that insulting him would lift his spirits. (I know our relationship isn't normal; I never said it was.)
His mouth curved into a smirk. It was rare for me to see the lower half of Edge's face, so I just then realized how cute his smile was.
"I swear to Bahamut that I didn't say anything. I mean, just because I can't stand you doesn't mean I'd resort to lying like that. Jeez, you are dumb."
"Is that so? Well, for someone who can't stand me, you sure were kissing the hell out of me before."
I was so relieved to hear him joke back that I impulsively leaned over and hugged him. He even reacted to that with shock, which was odd considering how we'd been all over each other just a few minutes ago.

Blinking, he picked up my barely-touched glass of peach schnapps, and stared at it.
"Not that I'm complaining, but how much of this have you drunk?"
I eyed him. "What are you implying?"
"Nothing... it's just, I've never seen you so affectionate before. Towards me, that is."
I snorted. "Just because I don't attach myself to your legs like you do me doesn't mean I'm cold."
"An understatement, sweetcheeks. I think you would have thrown me off the airship, had you been given a chance."
I shrugged. "Yeah, so?"
"Usually... girls don't go around making out with guys they can't stand."
"They don't? Then how the hell do you get any?"
"You're such a bitch... I love you."

This time, it was my turn to stare incredulously. I mean, this was no new fact. But it sounded different coming from him. I felt tingly, and knew that it wasn't from the wine.
"I'm not just hitting on you this time-although that would be fun. I'm telling the truth... I love you, Rydia. Seriously."

I still stared at him, the words dimly registering in my brain. Looks like it's time for another sip, I thought and drained a little more from my glass.
"Okay, are you choosing to ignore me, or genuinely shocked?" He asked.
"A little bit of both?" I suggested. "Nah, the second one."
"Well, that's a relief. Sort of."

My mind was spinning. Damned ninja! I'd just barely gotten myself to admit I was attracted to him, and now he's throwing love of all things at me! I silently fumed, trying to think of what to say next, but for the first time in my life-he'd made me speechless.

"God, you'd think I'd just asked you to name the entire monarchy of Mithril in alphabetical order,"
"I'm thinking, asshole."

Like I said... I never said that we have a normal relationship.

I continued thinking. Sure, I liked Edge as much as the next guy... And yeah, I'd just admitted I was attracted to him... Okay, yeah, so I had feelings for Edge. But I'm not -in love- with him... So, what, I had loving feelings for Edge. That doesn't mean...

Oh my god... I have loving feelings for Edge, I thought. Loving feelings roughly translates to... Oh, man.

"Well? Do you know how to respond now?"
"Hmm? Oh... Mithril doesn't have a monarchy, moron."
"Good to know... but I meant the other question, genius."
"Oh, you should have said so. God, you're such a smartass. It makes me wonder why the hell I love you."

Well, now that certainly got his attention!

"You... what?"
"Now you're deaf, too? I said that I love you. You really should pay more attention, you know."
Laughing, he pulled me as close as I could possibly get to him and kissed me. "Maybe you and the chamberlain should collaborate and send me to etiquette school."
"Nah, I'd miss you too much."
"I know you would. I really can't say I blame you."
"You would say that, you narcissist."
"I love it when you say such sweet things to me. It almost makes me... want to kill myself!" He wiped a fake tear from his eye.
"Yeah, like you'd ever be selfless enough to do the world that favor."
"Selfless? To rid the world of such a handsome, intelligent man... that would be the most selfish thing I've ever heard of!"
"Right, keep thinking that. Oh well, I don't really think that black is my color anyway."
"You'd look sexy in a paper bag, sweetheart."
"I don't know what kinky fantasies you've been having... but count me out."

He didn't respond to this, because he appeared to be deep in thought. I was going to comment sarcastically about how that very act was unlike him, but before I could he asked a question.

"So, what now?"
"You already know I'm not going back to the Land of Summoned Monsters, except for a visit every month or so."
"And in the meantime, after everyone leaves Baron...?"
"Stop acting so innocent. I know you're going to ask me to come back to Eblan with you."
"You always were intelligent... And your answer?"
"Why not? Obviously that chamberlain isn't doing a very good job of keeping you in check."
"Oooh, bringing your whip then?"
"You'd like that too much."
"As much as I'd love to argue with that..."
"Ewww, I don't want to know."


Normally the next line after this would be "And we lived happily ever after" I hate using cliches like that to describe a relationship as unique (and by "unique", I mean, "screwed up") as ours. Still, we were happy together all the same, despite whatever insults we throw at each other even to this day. And every time I, the revered Queen of Eblan, sit back with a small glass of peach schnapps the taste brings me back to that night.
Even though it should be a distant memory, it still burns fresh in my mind, when I was just a spunky little girl inside a woman's body and he was just an egotistical ninja who drove me insane. I guess we still are those things, but the main thing is that our attitudes clash, and yet his personality somehow fits against mine perfectly. Not that I would ever say that to his face, mind you. He has a big enough ego as it is.

So basically, a force so strong that it could have destroyed the blue planet itself didn't bring us together like it had our friends Cecil and Rosa... but, a bottle of peach-flavored wine and a virtually uneventful night did....

I never said that we were normal, did I?

Author's Note: I know most of my romances are angst, but you just can't write angst with these two. It's impossible. Anyway... you would not believe how fun this was to write. I enjoyed every minute of it, and am pleased that it wrapped up so well. Don't ask where the idea of peach schnapps came from...I read about how you're supposed to drink it with a kiss in the Virgin Suicides but frankly, I didn't want to write that. So, it was just the side-salad to this entr‚e of loooove. *cheesy grin* I really enjoyed using these two in my fic-they're probably the best FF characters ever, IMO. And yeah, that one part was inspired by that episode of Friends (the one where Rachel goes to London). ^_^;;

Edge's character was easy to write, but I can't say the same for Rydia's! Either way, I hope I didn't get them too OOC. This was my first true FF4 fic, although I've been a worshipper of the game, and an avid fanfic reader for the longest time. Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!