Brotherhood of the Heart
By Pam Peregrino

Mustadio sat outside in the cold night air. It didn't bother him in the least, him mind was too occupied with other thoughts... He glanced from his position near his tent at the fire scene a few feet ahead of him. That was where the others were gathered. The fire light casted shadows all over the forest. In the circle of people was Agrias, the Holy Knight, Rad the Monk, Mina the Samurai, The twins Rafa and Malak. The Strange young man named Cloud was seated next to the Former Leader of the Lionel knights, Beowulf. Cuddled up against him was his beloved Reis, dragoon knight. All other members were retired to their tents.

There was small talk going on he knew. And he could hear soft murmurs drifting from the camp fire. Couldn't make out any thing that was said.. But he cared very little.

What was bothering him was the way Ramza had been acting lately. His eyes furrowed at the thought. Ever since he declared he was going to Zeltennia church a week ago, he'd been rather withdrawn, distant almost. And it shown in his eyes.

A sudden shuffling noise behind him aroused him from his thoughts. He looked over his shoulder to see what was the source of the noise. Under the shadow of the night a figure moved. Out of his tent. and walking wary not to arouse the others around the campfire. Unnoticed the figure walked behind the tents and quietly slipped into the dark recesses of the woods. A glint of blond caught by the faint firelight the only clue to who this shadowed figure was. He seemed to have not noticed Mustadio.. Since he was half hidden from view by the tent he sat in front of.

After the figure slipped from view Mustadio released a breath he didn't know he was holding.

He sat there thinking about what he just saw.

"Ramza?" The name echoed in his mind.

He glanced at the rest of the party wondering if he should say anything to them. But after a second thought he decided to go see for himself.

As cautious as Ramza had been, Mustadio slipped out with out notice in the direction he had seen Ramza disappear in.

He wasn't sure if it was really wise to travel without light. Remembering forests like these were home to many monsters. It was eerily dark and with out light he could bearly make out the forms of the tress. He held his hands before him as so to feel his way around and not to run into any trees. Squinting in the darkness he saw another small clearing. One that was far from their campfire light, but instead was lighted by the pale moon. As he broke out into the clearing he found the person of his search. The clearing was dotted with many boulders and fallen tree trunks. There was a huge bolder that seemed to jut out of the land, and on top of that was perched Ramza. Staring up at the moon.

As he approached he stepped on many fallen branches that littered the forest floor. The sounds of branches snapping warned Ramza of his presence and he turned rather startled.

"Sorry.. I didn't mean to bother you.." Mustadio quickly apologized. Only realizing how dumb it sounded.

The moon light washed over Ramza's features.

"Oh it's only you Mustadio..." Ramza let out a sigh.. In relief?

Ramza suddenly realized Mustadio was still standing there watching him and he smiled.

"It's okay.. I just came here to think.. I'm not going anywhere." He assured the Young engineer.

Mustadio still stood there starring at him. "Then you would want to be by yourself?" Mustadio dropped his gaze to the ground in dejection. He sighed, "Well, I guess I understand..I'll be going." He shrugged casually before he turned to leave.

"No Wait..." Came a hesitant voice.

Mustadio stopped and looked over his shoulder.

Ramza had twisted his body around as so to face Mustadio. One hand out stretched in a frozen guesture.

"No.. Never mind, I'm sorry, If you want to leave then go ahead." He said after a moment passed. He lowered his hand embarrassed. He turned back around his head lowered.

Mustadio turned around to face him once again.

"Ramza? Are you feeling okay?"

Ramza gave a short nod. "Yes.. Just a little confused that's all."

Mustadio's tight features began to soften. So that's what Ramza wanted. He thought to himself. And a small smile broke upon his face.

He walked slowly to the rock at which Ramza was perched.

"What's been bothering you lately?" Mustadio's soft voice broke the silence.

"Nothing. It's nothing" Ramza said without looking around. he kept his gaze on the moon.

"It's a lie." Mustadio said as quickly. His statement startled Ramza.

Mustadio glared back at him.

"I've been with you for a year and a half. And for some strange reason, I know you better than anyone else. You can't fool me Ramza."

Ramza was silent.

Mustadio took in a deep breath before continuing. "It's this Delita isn't it? You're thinking about him aren't you?"

"How can I not?" Ramza said with a touch of bitterness. "He and I go back a long way."

"So he is your friend?" Mustadio walked to where Ramza sat.

Ramza pulled his legs in and buried his head in his arms.

It was almost like watching a child... Mustadio chided to himself.

"I wish I could say that he was with all confidence...But now..." Ramza lifted his head to the moon above.

"So he was as close as a brother?" Mustadio ventured.

Ramza closed his eyes and smiled somewhat sadly. As if dreaming of some faint distant memory. Out of reach.

"Yes. I was never close to any of my older brothers. And it's not like they tried to fill the emptiness that left me.. Feeling..Incomplete. But then Delita came into my life..Became what I so longed for.. A brother. He was what my brothers weren't. Isn't it ironic?" He trailed off as he turned to regard Mustadio. "Do you know what it feels like? To finally become whole, then suddenly, have half of yourself torn away?"

Mustadio lowered his gaze to the ground and seemed to smile somewhat. "To know what it is like being alone? Yes. To have a brother? No."

Ramza straitened, surprised at the answer. "What? Didn't you have any close friends or anything? And what about your father?"

Mustadio sat forlornly at the base. He glanced up at Ramza before replying.

"Friends? Ha! I wish. Who has time for friends when you've got a job like I do? Always digging in the mines, so dark down there, you can hardly see the people you work along side? Sure I talked with the guys down there, but the only thing I ever considered them were acquaintances... But never Friends. And my father? Sure we were close but I could tell as well as he could, that he could never be my friend no matter how much he wanted to be. Plus a genius mechanic has no time to play with his friends, or with his son. So as I grew up, the machines that I tinkered with down in the mines became my friends. They never talked to me, but hey, I'm working on it. And someday we will have a real conversation together."

He let out a laugh, some what bitter.

"You are lucky Ramza, to even have a friend like Delita, someone to share your life with."

He stopped suddenly. As if thinking, then spoke up again.

"I've always wondered what it was like to have a brother...It must surely be better than being alone. Some one who you could share your deepest secrets with, or to laugh with ....Someone to have a rousing wrestling match with. Or even to argue with..."

Ramza listened to Mustadio in shocked silence. Then he felt very foolish.

Mustadio was right. Why should he complain? Compared to Mustadio, Ramza was living like a prince. He had everything, and Mustadio had nothing not even a close friend....

Wait.... Ramza stiffened as a thought hit him.

Mustadio looked up at Ramza thoughtful.

"Hey Ramza.."

Ramza looked back down at him, startled out of his thoughts. "Yes?"

"Tell me..What was it like.. To have a brother?"

Ramza was silent for a long moment. In a moment's thought.

"Hmm... Well it was like a blessing. You're never alone. Someone is always there watching your back. And you always knew that this person cares for you very much and would protect you, and vise versa...Kinda like us two."

Mustadio blinked surprised. "Like us two?" Ramza smiled down at him.

"Sure, out of everyone I considered you the most as a friend. On the battle Field, you always watched my back. And was always there for me when I needed someone to talk to. Heck, we faced Zodiac monsters together and you were always there standing next to me. But...What was important to me, was that... You were like a brother... Someone to fill the void, that appeared when I thought I had lost Delita so long ago."

He suddenly let out a laugh, but there was no falseness behind it.

"When I think about it, I never felt the pain again ever since you came into our party that one day."

Mustadio was provoked into a smile.

"Thank you Ramza.."

Ramza shook his head, "No, I should be thanking you..Brother.."

Mustadio was speechless for awhile.

"So this is what having a sibling is like. How ironic that I've always been looking, and yet, it was here all along, right in front of me." Mustadio thought.

He glanced up at Ramza who had reassumed his gaze at the moon. "Ramza.." He thought silently...

"..Just as Delita was your brother, so will I. No... I will be an even better brother, so that you will never feel alone again..You didn't deserve the pain that you have been bearing all these years, and neither did I.."

Ramza gazed at the moon wondering if Delita was all right.. He knew that things weren't the same as they had been a few years ago.. every thing was different, and it was foolish to believe that they would ever be the same again..

Ramza cringed..And his heart began to ache of the same old pain. He and Delita would never play together in the groves or dine together around the table with their sisters.. It was gone.. Those days.

This pain hurt. And he didn't want it to be there.. But no matter how much he denied it, or tried to ignore it, it was still there.. A reminder. Because of it, he had tried to swear to himself that there shall not be another like Delita. He had tried to close his heart to the world. He wanted to protect himself from this pain... But some how...

He glanced down at Mustadio, who seemed to be deep in though, looking out into the dark woods. He smiled a little lightly.

..But some how, this young man, had broken through the invisible barriers, and had made a place in his heart along with the other three people who had ment anything and everything to him... Alma, Teta, and Delita...

And now there was Mustadio.

He felt that in a way, he was betraying Delita's memory. He didn't like the thought that some one else could replace him. But in his heart he knew no one would. And he had the feeling, that this dark horse, would never betray him. A long standing friend, a brother of the heart.

But only time would tell the tale of this new friendship.



Author's note: I wanted to expand on the friendship between Ramza and Mustadio. It wasn't easy. But I still had fun with this little project of mine.