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eyes of the lion, burning like fire

Chapter Text

It was past four in the afternoon when Felix and Ashe arrived at the south warehouse. It was located in a suburban area of Fhirdiad, in a former industrial estate long disused. Ashe parked their car, a simple black Dodge Charger, a little further out of the area before continuing discreetly on foot. Felix scanned the entrance. I was told that some of my men could not access the goods. Some came back injured. Check out what's going on. Do what you think is necessary. Dimitri had told them earlier with his authoritative voice. The midnight blue haired man fastened his katana to his belt.

“Look,” Ashe began.

They both stopped and Felix followed his gaze. Unsurprisingly, a fairly young-looking man was leaning against the main entrance to the warehouse. No doubt he had to stand guard. If he was the only one standing there, they must be amateurs, Felix thought.

“Get his attention, I'll take care of him,” Felix ordered.

The silver-haired man nodded and disappeared from Felix's sight in an instant. Ashe was a young man of many qualities, his stealthiness was one of them and was particularly appreciated by Dimitri. Probably the reason why he sent him with Felix. The latter hid behind one of the trees that surrounded the warehouse, waiting for Ashe's signal.

Which arrived rapidly as the man previously leaning against the door straightened up and walked towards the shrubs. A true amateur.

Felix emerged from his hiding place and took a firm but discreet step behind him. Then in a quick movement, he grabbed him from behind and put him in a chokehold. After 15 seconds of uselessly trying to break free, he fell to unconsciousness. Ashe joined him and the both of them pulled him up and placed him against the wall.

Ashe made quick work of the back-door’s lock. Another of one of his numerous skills that really came in handy. Maybe this was also a sign that the security had to be changed here? He should probably tell his blond friend later.

“They’re four,” Ashe whispered to him after they had entered the warehouse.

Indeed, four people were seated on boxes which served as makeshift chairs. They all looked as young as the guy Felix had strangled outside, if their features were to be believed. This annoyed Felix even more. Boxes had been opened and some were even playing around with the guns inside. These aren't fucking toys, Felix thought. Alcohol bottles also littered the floor, one of the four was raising his own and laughing with his comrades.

“Alright, let’s get this over with. Cover me.”

Then it all happened in a flash.

The bottle in the first man’s hand shattered in a cacophony of glass and cries of surprise. After a few seconds of confusion, the thugs were on their feet and their guns drawn. Regardless, they were not fast enough for either Felix or Ashe.

“Who the fuck are you?!” one of them shouted while aiming his gun at the swordsman. Felix was on him in a moment, drawing his katana, wielding it as if it was an extension of his arm. He was quick on his feet, and with a vertical slash, he cut open the back of the first man’s hand. He screamed and, his hand wounded, dropped his gun, Felix kicked him out of the way.

The second man lunged at him with a knife in his hands, but a bullet hit him square in the shoulder before he could land any hit on Felix. The latter finished him by punching him in the stomach.

A few bullets passed by Felix’s face that he dodged easily before slicing the third man’s left side in a crimson arc. He bawled and Felix took the opportunity to tackle him to the floor. On his left, the last one of the four tumbled on the floor in a pained scream, a bullet lodged in his leg.

 “Who do you work for?” Felix asked him, furry in his eyes.

“W-Who even fights with a sword?!” screamed the last guy as Felix pointed his katana at his throat.

“I said. Who do you work for?” A drop of blood was sliding the man’s neck where Felix’s blade was touching his skin.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” he pleaded.

“I can’t find anything on them to identify which family they belong to,” came Ashe’s calm voice on his left, as if he did not just skilfully incapacitate two of them with only two bullets without touching any vital parts. “They’re probably just local thugs,” he explained.

Felix was having none of it. Maybe he was being too suspicious but better safe than sorry. Impatient, Felix pressed his foot on the man’s bleeding side. He hollered. “You better tell me now who sent you here. I don’t believe you fuckers came on your own,” Felix threatened.

“W-We were— ugh, just minding our own business when a man accosted us, said there would be easy money for us if we could sow some trouble in a certain abandoned warehouse…” he explained.

“Who was he?” Ashe asked.

“I-I don’t know, we didn’t ask! He was dressed in all black. The money was here and that’s all we cared about. I swear it!” he choked out.

Ashe was deep in thought. Why would anyone hire some random rascals to sow discord in a warehouse right in the middle of the Blue Lions territory? This person was either completely stupid or wasn’t faint-hearted. And they took care to hide their identify while having someone else do the work, as if they wanted to divert their attention somewhere else. Felix didn't like it. However, there was no point in arguing any more, Felix had a feeling that they wouldn't get more information from them. Taking them out wasn't worth it, Felix and Ashe had frightened them enough anyway, and if the person behind this had any common sense, they wouldn't hire them again.

“I swear we didn’t know there were weapons at first! Please, just—” he begged.

“You have some nerve to come barging on our territory,” Felix barked, he was fuming. So, they were just some common punks? Felix felt like he had just wasted his time and energy, the familiar electric sensation of his anger returning at full force. He grabbed the man’s collar and looked him dead in the eye. “Take your fucking pack and get the hell out of here. And don't you dare to step foot in the territory of the Blue Lions ever again,” Felix spat.

“Y-Yessir!” he choked, probably too afraid to fully understand the weight of Felix’s words. He removed his foot and the man hurriedly stood up, clutching his side. The four of them scurried out the warehouse, some of them limping and leaving a trail of blood behind them. Felix sighed and sheathed his katana.

“Who do you think that was?” Ashe asked him.

Felix sighed. “I don’t know but we’ll find out soon enough. Let’s hurry back.”

They quickly scouted the rest of the warehouse, closed down the boxes but did not bother to put them back in their original place, someone was going to come and rearrange everything anyway, now that they solved the little problem. Ashe safely locked the door again, then they made their way back to the car.

He wasn’t in a good mood. Well, it’s Felix. He’s never exactly in a good mood but still. Ashe rapidly stopped trying to make small talk with him when all he was getting from Felix as an answer was some variations of “hm”. He opted to just turn on the radio while he drove them back to HQ. Felix would have felt a little bad for Ashe if he were in a calmer state of mind. But right now, his irritation was so overwhelming, his fists were curled and his eyebrows more furrowed than usual.

Here's one thing about Felix: he complains but still does his job. However, he was definitely going to give Dimitri a piece of his mind.

*

‘Blue Lions’ was the generic name given to the most prominent mafia organization originating from Faerghus, a country located in the icy north of the continent of Fódlan. It is said that the name was given to the first boss of the family at the head of it, Loog von Blaiddyd, after he and his close men took advantage of the geopolitical and social crisis that was raging in the Faerghan territories, to rally many influential men to his cause and consolidate his power. Like lions who assert their domination in the savannah. He had established what would later be known as one of the largest criminal organizations of the entire continent. Traditionally specialized in arms trafficking, their leading activity, the Blue Lions also had a place in many other sectors of the economy such as distribution, trading, the financial sector and real estate. Thus, the government turned a blind eye to their activities while hoping that they would contribute to invest in the economy of the country with their profits. One of the markets where they operated in also served as their social cover and legal business: their medical technology company, Löwen Medical Systems Inc. Some saw it as irony, while others saw it as a brilliant business strategy: selling weapons, tools of violence used to injure or kill, then selling medical equipment intended to help and heal. Two opposing but intrinsically linked fields.

It was through the automatic sliding doors of the headquarters in the capital city Fhirdiad that Felix and Ashe entered, returning from their mission. The guard at the entrance, a sturdy man dressed in all black, acknowledged their presence with a nod.

“Welcome back, Mr. Fraldarius, Mr. Duran.” The secretary greeted them from the desk.

Behind it was written “Löwen Medical Systems” in an elegant blue. Felix did not even bother to answer and continued on his way to the elevators. At this hour, they knew that Dimitri was finishing in the meeting room on the top floor. The darkhaired swordsman stamped impatiently as he waited for the lift to arrive at its destination, his irritation so palpable one could cut their fingers on it.

As expected, Dimitri was in the company of some of his associates who apologized as they quickly left the room. The blond had obviously just finished an unpleasant meeting, judging by the strained expression he was wearing. Felix could very clearly see the tension in his shoulders, through his immaculate black tailored suit. However, at the sight of them, he relaxed a bit.

“Felix, Ashe, I’m delighted to see you again. How did the mission go?” Dimitri asked, standing up and joining them at the entrance.

“No problem Boss, they—” Ashe began.

“It was completely unnecessary. I can't believe I wasted my time on such trifles,” Felix cut him off.

Dimitri sighed then gestured with his hand, inviting them to follow him in the direction of his office.

*

“This concludes my report, Boss,” Ashe finished.

Dimitri's office painted a classic yet elegant image. Spacious and with a high ceiling, there was a large dark walnut bookcase lining the entire back wall, in which various books and statutes whose origin Felix had forgotten were put. In front of it, a glossy mahogany style desk with a computer, a telephone, a lamp and various documents simply arranged on it. To the right of the desk was a large window taking up most of the wall, the greyish sky of Fhirdiad partially obscured by light blue curtains. In the centre of the room, an Almyran-style rug on which was placed a fancy baroque leather sofa with a low coffee table. A clock on one wall, a painting of a blue lion on another. The final touch, a luxurious crystal chandelier hanging from the middle of the ceiling, illuminating the room in bright patches of light.

Everything was methodically arranged and aligned. Yet, there was something almost austere about the general atmosphere. A tension in the air Felix felt every time he stepped into this room. The office reflected the image of its owner, currently seated at his desk.

“Thank you Ashe, good work,” Dimitri replied, nodding. “If there's nothing further, you're both dismissed.”

Upon these words, and after bowing, the silver-haired young man left, closing the door behind him. Felix stayed behind. Dimitri did not seem to have noticed him, he was deep in thought and his hands were folded in front of him.

“Is there a problem, boar?”

Dimitri immediately tensed, which did not escape Felix's gaze. The blonde did not answer straight away. “Ah Felix, you're still here,” he sighed. “Well… I have recently received a few reports regarding some of our smaller allies. It seems they are causing quite a bit of turmoil at the border lately. Nothing too worrying at the moment but…” he trailed off.

“You think it has something to do with what happened at the warehouse?”

“I’m not sure but I have a feeling it’s not entirely unrelated,” Dimitri answered, eyebrows furrowed.

At the sight of his serious expression, Felix's irritation evaporated almost entirely. He walked over to Dimitri's desk, ignored the two chairs across from it, and sat down directly on the desk. “Stop worrying your head about it. Send someone to investigate at the border, we might find something there. If they want to get smart with us, we will take care of them quickly and well,” he reassured.

Dimitri looked at him tiredly but his one blue eye glistened with light tease. “As with the ones from this morning?”

Exasperated, Felix crossed his arms. “They were just small fry,” he huffed.

“Still, you have my gratitude for taking care of it. I know it wasn’t the most exciting mission but I could only entrust it to someone whom I fully trust,” Dimitri admitted and managed a small smile.

The two of them were not always this comfortable with each other. There was a time, long ago, when their relationship boiled down to one of insults and scathing remarks for a friend Felix no longer recognized while he had been haunted by ghosts from the past. But with time and hard trials, intense discussions and heated arguments, they gradually mended their wounded friendship. After all, there are the ordeals that force people to evolve and overcome their broken feelings. Dimitri and Felix were no exception to the rule. Their relationship came out stronger, an unspoken loyalty binding Felix to Dimitri.

However, while much had changed, especially between them, other things persisted in their steadfastness, and making eye contact when talking was something Felix did not like and perhaps never would. It made him uncomfortable.

“Tch. I had nothing better to do anyway,” he scoffed looking away. They both sat in a comfortable silence for a while before a thought occurred to him.

“By the way, has he returned yet?”

“Who?”

“You know who.”

That coaxed a laugh from the blond. “Sylvain should arrive late at night. The negotiation and delivery to an important customer took more time than expected.”

 

With his duties fulfilled, Felix returned to his home in Fhirdiad. After a little workout to release all the pressure and irritation of the day and a good shower, he went to sleep.

*

That night, Felix roused from slumber to the feel of the blanket being carefully lifted, the mattress dipping next to him and the familiar warmth of a body being pressed against his back. A strong arm thrown around his waist, kisses peppered alongside his bare neck and shoulders, and the faint smell of a cologne he has come to know all too well.

Felix fell back to sleep to the familiar sound of Sylvain’s breathing.

 

*

The sound of metal hitting and shuffling could be heard throughout the whole training grounds.

Touche.

A hit on the shoulder, a grunt and Sylvain took a few steps back.

Felix went back on guard, his feet shoulder-width apart. His knees were slightly bent so that the tips of his feet disappeared with the knees. A perfect posture fine-tuned with training and time.

He was calm, clear-headed, and completely focused on his opponent. The weight of the épée in his hand was familiar. The épée being a thrusting weapon, Felix could only attack with the point of it. It put more constraints than fighting with a regular sword or a katana, but Felix enjoyed it still. Assaults tended to be longer too. Indeed, Sylvain, who had also put himself on guard, waited patiently for Felix to attack again before taking the opportunity to score a touch on him. The épée was a tactical weapon where patience prevailed and this kind of situation appealed to the more calculating and strategic part of the young man’s mind, who had more than one trick up his sleeve.

Beginning his forward step by stamping the ground with his leading foot, his trailing leg coming back to put him on guard, Felix attacked Sylvain, extending his sword arm in an impeccable straight line. The latter easily parried this first frontal attack. However, a second mock attack happened just after it, which destabilized the redhead and forced him to retreat.

A mistake. He could not help but smile behind his mask.

Felix pushed himself off with his back leg while throwing his front leg up and descended on Sylvain, rear arm extended. A perfect lunge. With a swift and powerful gesture, he hit him right in the heart. Well, on his protective jacket of course.

Here's another thing about Felix: even in a game of patience, he knows when to initiate action, to provoke and to attack head on.

“Okay, okay, I admit defeat,” Sylvain exhaled, raising his hands in surrender. He collapsed gracelessly on the floor.

“Hmpf,” Felix straightened up and removed his mask, the small smile still plastered on his face, adrenaline slowly fading away.

“That was a good move. Didn’t see it coming.”

“You should take your practice more seriously, perhaps you would have seen it then,” he chided.

“You realise not all of us are fencing fanatics?” Sylvain teased, sweat rolling down his neck as he removed his own protective mask.

Felix did not even bother to answer him and went to put his equipment on one of the adjacent benches. He took a mouthful of water when Sylvain held out his hand to him. He arched an eyebrow at him.

“Didn't you take yours?”

“No need,” Sylvain replied, winking.

Felix sighed, and reluctantly handed him his water bottle, but he was not fooling anyone, especially not Sylvain who knew to detect the tenderness and affection behind Felix's harsh words and actions at first sight.

“Hey, we should go on a date on our next free day,” Sylvian proposed, wiping his mouth with back of his hand.

“No.” came Felix curt answer.

“Oh, come on, don’t be like this,” he groaned, crossing his arms like a child.

Their good-natured banter was a familiar constant in Felix’s life. Seeing his pouty expression, he added “Stop fooling around and maybe I’ll consider it.” That earned him a toothy smile so bright it could rival the sun.

They spent a few moments in comfortable silence after this, the sound of their breathings as they recovered the only distraction in the otherwise quiet of their quarters’ sports complex. It was nice and relaxing. Until Sylvain’s phone rang.

He took it out quickly, rummaging in his bag and answered the call. Felix remained silent and carefully observed Sylvain's facial expressions. After a brief greeting and a what happened? the smile disappeared completely from Sylvain's face and his expression turned serious. I’m heading over now. He hung.

“What's going on?” Felix asked, suddenly alerted by the coldness in Sylvain’s eyes.

“They caught one of the men causing trouble at the southern border,” Sylvain explained, his voice bare of warmth, a stark contrast to his previous light-hearted tone. “I’m going to worm the information out of him.”

Felix nodded, understanding the situation right away. He gathered their belongings and the two of them headed for the locker room. They took a quick shower and headed straight for HQ. Traitors did not wait.

*

The man sitting in the centre of the basement was sweating profusely, his hands tied behind the back of the chair. The situation he found himself in was rather… delicate, to put it mildly. Felix felt no sympathy.

“What is one of Kleiman’s henchmen doing so far in the South? Isn't your territory North of Faerghus?” Sylvain rhetorically asked, sitting in front of him, his eyes cold, an ankle crossed over his knee. He nonchalantly held his simple Glock 26 in his right hand.

“I— That’s— We were asked to steal one your largest arms shipments at border,” the man stammered, eyeing the handgun.

Sylvain might not excel at fencing like Felix, but he had incredible wit and an unmatched ability to read people and spot their lies. After all, he was a master of the art himself. Which made him a perfect choice for questioning people who were less… cooperative. Sylvain was much less unyielding when it came to traitors and people who would dare think about hurting his loved ones.

“That, we know. You weren’t as discreet as you think,” Sylvain replied while grasping his gun firmly. Panic could be read across the man's face. “My question is simple: why? You should know by now what it means to trespass and stir up trouble in the Blue Lions territory.”

The man swallowed loudly.

“Th-They are planning to smuggle it into Adrestian territory...” he confessed.

If Sylvain was surprised by this information, he let nothing show on his face and remained imperturbable. The border between Faerghus and Adrestia has been firmly closed for years now, after that fateful crisis which took so much from them.

“How does he plan to do that?”

“It seems that he has allied himself with another mafia family...” he explained.

“Who?” Felix admired Sylvain's composure at this moment. Incidentally, they had just learned that Kleiman had betrayed them, and this had not disturbed his impeccable concentration.

“P-Please… They'll have my head if I say more…” the man begged.

This made Sylvain chuckle cruelly. “Who says you won't lose it before that happens?” then as soon as it came, his smile vanished. “You will speak,” he threatened.

The man closed his eyes, seeming to resign himself to his fate.

“A guy by the name of Acheron. I… I know nothing more, I swear!” he pleaded.

“Acheron?! But he’s—” Felix, who had been silent until now, could not help but comment when hearing that name.

“From Leicester,” Sylvain finished for him, “territory under the control of the Riegan family.”

Felix shuddered. The situation took on a whole new dimension. What should have been a simple intra-group conflict was turning into something much bigger and more dangerous. Dimitri certainly was not going to like it.

Sylvain got up from his chair, he was done. Felix left the room first, the redhead right on his heels. However, the lackey began to gesticulate violently in his chair.

“Hey, wait! Where are you going?! Are you gonna leave me here?! I told you everything I know!” he shouted.

Sylvain stopped in his tracks.

“Oh, I almost forgot.”

He turned to him again, pointed his Glock at his head, the safety off.

 

A shout. A thud. Then complete silence.

*

“I should have disposed of this rat ages ago,” Dimitri fumed.

Sylvain and Felix had directly joined Dimitri at his private apartments in Fhirdiad and had told him all the details of what had happened. The blonde was seething with anger, his facial features hard, as he watched night fall over the capital through the window.

“What are we going to do? It goes beyond simple conflict at this point,” Felix asked, leaning back against the couch Sylvain was currently sitting on.

 

“What I don't understand is why ally with Acheron?” The blond asked.

“Acheron is the head of a small criminal family south of Leicester,” Sylvain explained, a hand on his chin, “which gives him access to the Adrestrian border.”

Hearing the name, Dimitri banged his fist on the window. Anger emanated from his whole being.

“I'm going to correct this mistake by going there and killing these two myself!” he spat, turning away from the window and striding over to the door.

“Are you out of your mind?!” Felix exclaimed, getting up and standing across Dimitri's path.

“Out of my way, Felix,” Dimitri threatened.

The swordsman felt his anger rise as well.

“You cannot just show up armed to the teeth in Leicester, you, the Boss, without suffering serious consequences. In the worst case, it would be considered a transgression and we would end up causing a clan war! Is that what you want? A new war?!”

Dimitri's eye widened and his whole body tensed suddenly. There is no doubt that Dimitri could read a whirlwind of emotion in Felix's eyes, a thousand things unsaid, wounds still too fresh and which may never heal completely. The war had already taken too much from them. It was something these two understood too well.

His words seemed to put some clearness back in the blond’s mind, who exhaled loudly and then lick his lips nervously. “You’re right. I let myself be carried away.”

Felix tsked. The blond took a seat across from Sylvain on the sofa, and Felix on the armrest.

“Seems too much to be the work of one person like Kleiman,” Sylvain, who had calmly witnessed their display, continued his analysis. “There's something fishy going on. How could they know about this shipment?”

“Are you implying that there is a traitor among us? Am I going to have to suspect my own men now?” Dimitri pinched the bridge of his nose, indicating the beginning of a migraine. “I'm really going to make them regret it,” he growled.

“Did you even listen to a thing I said?” Felix snapped.

“Then, what can we do?!” They were back to square one.

“Calm down, you two. There may be a solution,” Sylvain interrupted them.

The two men turned their heads towards him. Sylvain had always been the one who kept his cool the best in these situations. Felix would rather eat a thousand sweet pastries than admit it out loud, but he was grateful to have him by his side. Dimitri was much less reserved when making compliments to Sylvain, always valuing his opinion on very important matters of their business.

“Acheron only controls a very small area south of Leicester, near Myrddin. And if our information is correct, his relationship with the Riegan family has not been at its best for years now,” the redhead stared Dimitri straight in the eye. “If the Golden Deer give us free passage to Myrddin, we could deal with them without taking the risk of starting a war between organizations.”

Dimitri seemed to be pondering this point. After a few seconds of thought, Felix spoke again:

“There are two problems, though. First, we’re not sure their old Boss will see it this way, and not take it as us messing up with his territory. And above all…”

“Right, Oswald has been very closed off the last few years,” Dimitri concludes. The blond sighed for the umpteenth time and ran a hand through his hair. “I will… contact the Riegan. But if I don’t get an answer in the next three days, I will go there and force my way through it if I must.”

*

Two days had passed since Dimitri contacted the Boss of the Golden Deer. He had locked himself in his office, immersing himself in his work and his other urgent business. A threatening aura emanated from his office that discouraged anyone, Dedue excluded, from approaching it.

The discussion had been kept a secret. If the presence of a traitor among them was a possibility, they would better avoid spreading the information. Thus, only a handful of the closest trusted men of the Lion Boss had been made aware of the situation. However, everyone in the organisation could feel that the tension had mounted within the Blue Lions, as if there were a dark cloud above them announcing an impending storm. Felix could not blame any of them, he himself was even more on guard and more irritable than usual.

The swordsman joined Sylvain in the upstairs hall. The latter was casually scrolling his phone and looked up as he approached.

“Any news ?” Felix asked him.

Sylvain shook his head. “No, Dimitri keeps himself cloistered in his office.”

He sighed and after that they remained silent, Felix nervously gripping the hilt of his katana. This silence did not bode well and Felix feared that the situation would escalate any minute. After a while, the young man grew impatient.

“I have enough. I will see for myself,” Felix decided as he walked towards the doors of Dimitri’s office.

“No, wait, it would be better not to—” Sylvain began, grabbing Felix’s arm to stop him.

“You should come with me instead of just standing there!” Felix protested, turning to him while pointing at the doors behind him with his other hand.

“Felix, I'm telling you that—”

They did not need to continue any longer as the doors to Dimitri's office swung open, silencing them both right away.

Dimitri, emerging from behind, stared at them both for a moment, as if to say good timing. His eyebrows were furrowed but his blue eye glowed with intense fire.

“I have received permission from the Golden Deer to enter their territory freely,” he announced to them, “they’re offering us passage to settle matters.”

They were speechless for a minute, tongue-tied as they were caught off guard. Sylvain was the one to snap out of it first. He smiled mischievously at his leader. Felix, meanwhile, crossed his arms.

“Then, what are we waiting for?” he demanded.

Dimitri snorted. “Let’s go.”

 

And they did.