“You two are in room number four.” Lloyd said, dropping a small metal key into Sheena’s hand, “Try and get some sleep…we have the ice element to pact with tomorrow.”
Sheena nodded, Presea standing next to her. “Ok.” She smiled at Lloyd then spun on her heel then started down the hall towards her room. The floor beneath her feet was shiny hardwood and even Sheena’s soft shoes tapped loudly off it. Behind her she heard the heavier clomp of Presea’s boots, mixed in with the steady sound of her humming some nameless tune. Sheena smiled as she walked, partly at the humming behind her and partly because she was in a good mood. They had the Rheairds back, Colette was with them unharmed and she had safely made a pact with Gnome.
“This is our room, Sheena.” Presea said, stopping at one of the thick mahogany doors. Sheena smiled and politely moved in front of Presea and used the room key to open the door. After she heard the lock click open, she used her right hand to push the door inward, beaming in joy at the room inside. It’s fireplace was already lit, an orange glow warming the room. Two beds were nestled on the far wall, heavy red and white comforters spread over each one and on the floor was a thick, almost plush, green carpet. Also, as Sheena noticed as she was fawning over the warmed wash-basins of water at the foot of the bed, there was a small table next to the fireplace that had four or five different covered dinner trays on it.
“This…” Presea said bluntly, “Is a nice room.”
Sheena grinned, “A very, very nice room.” She kept smiling and walked over to the frosted window. After all they had been through, this was a little slice of paradise. The room was warm and cozy; a safe haven from the bitter winds outside.
“Do you want to bathe first, Sheena?”
The purple-robed female warrior turned from the window and looked at Presea standing at the bathroom door, that was right next to the fireplace, holding a change of clothes in a neat bundle in front of her like a schoolgirl carrying books.
“Nah.” Sheena said, “You go ahead.”
Presea nodded and walked into the bathroom. After the door closed behind her, Sheena turned back to the window and looked out at the white blanket of snow draped over the town. She sighed peacefully. For a little while in her life, she’d forgotten how much she loved snow, and how much she loved this little town of Flanoir. It had changed quite a bit since her last visit though…many of the shops had changed places and some where gone. She hardly recognized anyone at all, save a few elderly and some of the older kids.
Last time… She thought, I had some warmer clothes on.
She liked her purple attire, it was silky and smooth and made very little noise as she walked, but it did jack when it came down to keeping her body warm. When they where high above the earth on their Rheairds, she almost collapsed from the high-altitude harshness of the cold. If Lloyd hadn’t given her his red, buttoned armor when he did…well, it would have been bad.
“Sheena, I’m done.”
Surprised, Sheena spun around and saw Presea walking out of the bathroom, red and blue pajama’s on and her hair damp and flattened across her shoulders.
“That was quick.”
Presea nodded and smiled faintly, “I dislike water, so I hurry when I bathe.”
“Oh.” Sheena shrugged and smiled, “Well, anyway, I’ll be getting in now.”
Never, in her nineteen years of life, had Sheena felt the relief then when she first slipped into the warm, bubbly bathwater. The water washed over her muscles, soothing them. Sheena wasn’t even aware of how worn and taught her muscles were until they relaxed.
She laid there for a while, only her head sticking out of the water, leaning against the porcelain tub. She had all of her ribbons taken out, so her straight black hair had fallen to her shoulders and the tips were floating around by her chin With her hands she was spinning the bubbles around her belly button with her index finger, her other hand lying peacefully on her slender stomach. She kept twiddling with her fingers, thinking random thoughts, mostly about her hometown and Lloyd, until she heard the door to the bedroom open and then close again. Out of warrior instinct, she tensed up and clenched her fist until she heard Regal’s familiar voice.
“Oh, Presea…where is Sheena?”
Presea’s voice responded, “Taking a bath.”
“I see. May I ask you a…question…?”
Sheena’s eye crinkled in curiosity. The way Regal had said the word question sounded as though he was nervous, very nervous. He had said it in a way that reminded her of the way a boy would ask a girl the question of a going on a date.
“What?” Presea’s voice said, floating through the obviously thin walls.
“Would you like to come outside with me for some Axe training?”
There was a silence for a beat, then Presea said “Yes.”
A few more minutes later, the bedroom door opened again and then closed. Sheena sat puzzled for a moment, then shot up out of the tub. After she toweled off, she pulled on the black, almost skin-tight suit that she used for both assassinations and sleeping. Moving quickly, she dried off her hair and dashed out to the bedroom, making a beeline to the window.
She smiled as she saw both Regal and Presea walk into the courtyard that the bedroom widow looked out on. She leaned in close and couldn’t help but grin as Presea readied her large war-axe.
This is so odd… Sheena thought, I thought Presea was at odds with Regal…
“But then again…” She said aloud, “If I had the chance to go at someone I hated, even in practice, I’d take it…”
Outside Presea swung at Regal, her hair not done up in ponytails and still wearing her pajamas (with a brown coat over) and Sheena stopped talking and thinking to watch the show, the moonlight spotlighting the entire thing.
Presea’s axe hit the snowy ground hard, making a small hurricane of white flurry around her feet.
Fighting with Regal… Presea thought, it feels strange, even though I kind of dislike him…
She pulled her axe up and swung it again, trying her best to hold back, remembering it was only practice. Regal leapt backwards, avoiding the tip of the axe and he bounded off his right foot and came back with his left, driving his heel into the back of the head of the axe. It was propelled forward and Presea gasped as she lost control of the large weapon. It slid out of her small, tight grip and flew to the ground, slamming into the powdery snow hard. Regal showed no hesitation or restraint and hopped off his right leg again and sent his left foot towards Presea’s left side.
React… Presea thought, and her hand came instinctively out to knock the foot to the right. Regal didn’t see the move and Presea saw her opening as soon as she knocked him off balance. Pushing off her legs like a spring, she dove at the blue-haired hand-cuffed fighter. He tried to swing his foot to knock her off course, but her small, hard fist was already pushing hard into his chest. He grunted and slid backwards off his one foot on the snow and landed on his back, Presea standing at his feet.
“You have gotten good with hand-to-hand.” He said. Presea smiled then muttered, “Thank you.”
Regal smiled and bounced to his feet, throwing his left foot at the pink-haired girl as he did. She reacted quickly again and used her shoulder to block it. She winced in pain then countered with a attack of her own. She sent her leg straight forward, knowing where to aim to end the fight, but Regal ducked right a little, so her kick hit his knee. Regal stumbled a little, but didn’t hesitate to kick at her with his right foot, then his left, then right and so on, bouncing from leg to leg as Presea kept blocking or dodging his blows.
Presea grunted as she took a heavy boot to her arm. She thought to herself that she couldn’t keep defending, she would lose no matter what.
She glanced around between blows and saw the oaken handle of her axe in the snow, already partially covered by falling snow. In an instant, she had thought up a plan and was on her way to executing it. The next kick that came at her, she used both hands to catch it at the ankle and push it away with her full strength, making Regal spin around in a full circle, ending up facing her. She readied herself again, hoping he would do what she thought. When Regal too a half-step backwards, putting his left leg behind him, Presea knew that her plan would work and she couldn’t help grinning. Regal yelled as he brought the left leg forward in a extra-hard kick, using his other leg as a balance. Still smiling, Presea leapt two feet off the ground and dove in the direction of her axe. It was a ways away, but she stretched her legs and pushed off Regal’s leg, propelling her to the ground next to her axe. She slid in the snow a bit, grabbed the handle of the weapon, spun to face her opponent, lifted it off the ground and swung it straight down at Regal, knowing he would move. He was still off balance from her bounding off his leg, but was wary enough to slid out of the way, to the left. The axe came down extra-hard into the hard ground, sticking in. Regal watched as she leapt onto the back of the embedded axe and ran across it and leapt down, behind Regal, all in less then ten seconds.
“It’s over.” She said and brought her foot up in a solid blow in Regal’s crotch. Regal let out a gasp and fell to his knees. After a few minutes passed, Regal spoke in a low voice.
“Good…fight…Presea…” He said, eyes closed, teeth gritted tight.
“Thank you.” She said, and smiled.
Sheena’s sides hurt. The fight itself was great, both of the competitors were at the top of their game, but when Presea efficiently ended the fight, Sheena burst into an uncontrollable fit of laughter. She never knew, never, that the tough-as-nails-image of Regal could be shattered to easily by a swift kick to the family jewels.
“Thank you, Presea…that made my day.”
It not only made her day, but also made her want to spar with someone. But it was late and no one was up, so she sighed and laughed some more.
Lloyd was walking down the hall from Colette’s room, where he had just been beaten in a game of cards between him, her and Zelos.
“Shouldn’t have folded that last hand.” Zelos said, walking next to him.
“Yeah, yeah…” Lloyd replied, aggravated. He opened his mouth to say something, but stopped as he heard a fit of laughter started from room number four as he walked by.
“What’s so funny?” Zelos asked, then grinned, “I’d best find out.”
Number four…Sheena and Presea…
“I will.” Lloyd said. “You…you go check up on Raine.”
Zelos looked hurt for a moment, then smiled. “Sure.” And he walked off.
Lloyd watched him walk off and then disappear into room number seven, Raine and Genis’ room. He smiled at his ways, then turned to the closed door number four and the laughter behind him.
“Sheena? Presea?” He asked as he knocked hard on the door, trying to beat the laughter. When the laughter continued and no one answered, he pushed open the door a bit, surprised that it was unlocked. He peeked in and saw a black-clad, what he presumed was something pajama-like, Sheena laughing like crazy by the far window. He took quiet steps in the room, wanting to surprise Sheena and maybe sneak a hug. He normally didn’t think like that, but ever since the Lightning tower and her hurt there from Corrine, she seemed so much more…normal. So much softer and sweeter. She fell asleep on his shoulder when they made camp after the tower and since then, he just wanted to hug her.
Petty love, he knew, but it was something warm he wanted. He walked forward and came to a foot behind her. He looked at her silky-soft hair, undone and flowing over her back, reminding him of Colette’s. He smiled a goofy grin and moved his hands to put them on her shoulders.
Someone. Sheena thought, her training and instinct coming forward. Hands, to strangle.
She ducked down and planted her open palms hard into the attackers stomach. Her eyes went wide and she gasped as she saw Lloyd fly back and hit the floor. Her panic lasted all for a moment then she took a step forward.
“You don’t sneak up on me, Lloyd.”
Lloyd moaned, “I..I figured.” He got to his feet, “Geeze…you hit hard.”
“Well, Lloyd, I thought you were a murderer.” She looked at him for a moment then smiled. Her sparring prayer was answered, and he didn’t know it. With one movement, she sent a punch at Lloyd, hard enough to bruise, but light enough to let Lloyd know that she was just boxing with him. Lloyd again looked panic, then smiled as he dodged backwards. She tossed another fist and Lloyd deflected it, followed by another and another and another, Lloyd dodging all but the last, which caught him right beneath his lower lip. His head snapped back and he hit the wall by the door to the hall, they had been moving back ever since they started. Sheena smiled and sent both fists to his stomach, but Lloyd’s hands snapped up and grabbed both of them in his glove-less hands. He smiled at her and swept the ground with his socked foot, knocking the feet out from under Sheena. She fell forward and her head hit his chest.
“That was a good fight.” She said as she pulled herself up to face level.
“I’m sorry I snuck up on you now.” He said.
For a few minutes they both looked in each other eyes, then Sheena had a thought.
Lloyd is so nice…She thought. She remembered how kind he had been to everyone and how he comforted her outside the Lightning Tower. It didn’t hit her until now, but…
She liked Lloyd!
It was almost unfathomable to her. Lloyd and her? Was it really that big of a stretch? His big brown eyes and his fluffy hair…ooh…she liked him.
“You’ve got a bruise.” She said. Lloyd smiled and let go for one of her hand to feel at it, under his chin. “Let me kiss it for you…”
And in a move that was so out of her character she was blushing, she leaned forward and kissed him, intertwining their fingers on the hand that they still had together. While she was moving in for the kiss, Lloyd had obviously realized what she was doing and started to say, “That line is really cliché-“
She moved her head back after the kiss and smiled, still blushing. She just stood there looking at him, then tussled his hair and said, “That was a good spar.”
Lloyd laughed, “Yeah, it was.”
From the hall, Regal and Presea saw the two leaning against each other through the halfway open door. Regal had seen the kiss, but since Presea was worn out and carrying her axe, she was lagging and missed it.
“Presea.” He said, “I think Lloyd and Sheena need to be alone for a while. Why don’t you stay in my room tonight?”
Presea saw the two and nodded, “Ok.”
And the two stood there, Sheena blushing and Lloyd amazed and happy, for a very long time, until everyone else was fast asleep, not saying anything. Zelos was snoring and Raine and Genis were reading by moonlight in bed, and regal and Presea were talking small talk most of the night.But outside the moon was out and the snow was falling, making the town sparkle brightly, as if it where made of crystal.