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Give Me A Reason to Stay

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Life. The camp was full of it this evening.

Not that it wasn’t normally, with there being a war on and Guts’ fellow mercenaries living everyday like it might be their last, but today was different. Today, the war had ended and those who had survived spared no expense in proving the fact that they still had life in them.

Guts sighed as he watched from his position on a small hill just outside the camp’s border. He winced as he moved, his body still sore even with Judeau’s earlier treatment. Closing his eyes, he let the merry sounds emanating from below wash over him, unconsciously commuting them to memory. Now that the war was over, and he had no reason to stay, his departure was imminent. All that was left to do was wait until the right moment, until he was sure that Griffith didn't need him anymore. He'd understand, surely. After all, he was the one who spoke (admittedly not directly to him) about the importance of finding and pursuing ones dream no matter the cost. Yes, he'd understand. Maybe then Griffith would see him, actually see him. Not as a comrade or soldier, but an equal and maybe even-

"Guts?"

A familiar voice broke through Guts' thoughts, prompting him to look up.

"Griffith." he said warily. What on earth was he doing here? It was almost as if he read his thoughts, appearing as if out of thin air the moment he entered Guts' mind.

The other nodded at the ground next to Guts. "Mind if I join you?"

"Sure." Guts shuffled over to make space for the other, making sure to leave a respectable gap between them.

The pair sat in silence, Guts pointedly ignoring the other's penetrating gaze, fingers idly tearing the grass between his feet. The silence stretched on between them, punctuated only by their breaths. Griffith was the first to speak.

"You seem better."

"Hm?"

"I'm surprised. Those wounds you sustained would have killed a lesser man and yet here you are, already on your feet."

"It’s gonna take a lot more than that to keep me down."

"I don't doubt it." laughed Griffith. "You were a demon on the battlefield today. Even more so than usual, might I add?"

"Yeah well, it was do or die today wasn't it?"

"It was." mused Griffith. "You did well, Guts."

"I was just trying to stay alive. So," he paused. "What happens now?"

"Now?" said Griffith. "Now we return to Midland, where I suppose we'll continue on as we always have."

"Don't lie to me Griffith." said Guts quietly.

"I suppose I should have known better," he laughed. "Yes Guts, things will change. We won't be common mercenaries anymore Guts. We'll be respected, admired even." he paused, eyes fixed on the sky. "I'm so close now. So close to my dream that's been evading me ever since I thought it up. I'll be needing you now more than ever Guts."

"Why?" asked Guts, taken rather aback by Griffith’s words. It was almost as if the other could see through his thoughts and knew of his half formed plan to leave. "The only thing I'm good for is swinging a sword. I don't think I'll be any use to you in court."

"No, I assure you, you will be invaluable to me in the days to come."

Griffith fell silent after that, his mind obviously elsewhere. Shifting uncomfortably under the weight of his words, Guts steered their thoughts in another direction.

“I’m sure the princess will be happy to see you. Casca says she's quite infatuated with you."

Griffith sighed, leaning back. “I suppose so.” he said quietly. “I’m quite lucky it would seem. It was quite the battle, was it not?”

“To be honest, I wasn’t sure that I’d even make it out of there.”

“I wasn’t worried. After all, I haven’t given you my leave to die yet.”

“Yeah well, tell that to the next general who comes charging at me with a sword and see if that’ll change his mind. Still, hard to believe this is going to be our last night in camp,” said Guts. “At least for a while.” he quickly added. 

“You don’t seem happy about that. The rest of the camp’s out celebrating and yet here you are by yourself. Could you be getting sentimental?” teased Griffith.

“No,” snorted Guts. “I just prefer the quiet. What about you? Shouldn’t the Commander that led the Hawks to victory be down there with his men?”

“They seem to be doing fine without me. I’ll leave them to their revelry tonight.”

The silver haired man went silent after that, blue eyes fixed upon the overarching night sky as he leaned back against the rough tree bark. Although Guts had known him for nigh on 3 years now, this had to have been the first time he’d seen him so utterly at peace with the world around him. As much as Guts tried to close his eyes or to simply look away, they kept being drawn back to the ethereal figure lying beside him bathed in the silver moonlight that only served to highlight his almost otherworldly features. He truly was made to be somebody. Everything about him, from his piercing cerulean gaze to his natural inborn charisma demanded both attention and devotion. While they were both technically of the same class, both members of a common mercenary band, the two of them couldn’t be more different in almost all other aspects. Griffith was ambition made flesh, one who’d stop at nothing to get to his dream, no matter the costs, while he couldn’t even find one of his own to pursue. How could someone barely an arm's length away from him be as distant as the moon at the same time?

And there was the matter of how his heart seemed to clench whenever he laid eyes on the silver haired man. Contrary to what most people would have thought, Guts wasn’t entirely oblivious to these kinds of feelings, although before this, he’d never truly experienced them himself.  This was a relatively recent development, all things considered, only having started about a few months ago. He’d tried ignoring these strange new emotions, attributing them to simple admiration and nothing more, though with every passing day, they seemed to grow stronger and stronger. On some level it made sense. Griffith was truly breath taking and seemed to possess a beauty not of this earth. In the 3 years they’d known each other, Guts found himself growing closer and closer to the man that he once hate- well he’d never really hated Griffith had he? Even after being unceremoniously inducted into the Hawks, Guts never truly found it in himself to hate his commander. Perhaps it was true what was said of Griffith, that you could either love him or hate him, there was no in between. If that was so, then these feelings were inevitable weren’t they?

“What’s on your mind?”

Griffiths voice broke the comfortable silence that had surrounded them, snapping Guts' out of his daze. He blinked, cheeks burning as he realized that he had been openly staring at Griffith the entire time.

“It’s nothing,” he muttered, looking away quickly.

Griffith couldn’t stop the small laugh that escaped him at Guts’ embarrassment. The larger man looked almost -dare he say it- cute, at the moment.

“Sorry,” he smiled apologetically as Guts glared at him.

“What are you even doing here? Surely there are other places you could go to if you wanted peace.”

“You insult me Guts, it’s almost like you don’t want me here.” said Griffith in mock outrage, a smile dancing at the corners of his lips.

“I never said that you bastard.”

Griffith chuckled as he leaned back, his shoulder brushing Guts’, causing the other to nearly jolt upright at the contact. “It’s not often that I get to admire the stars on a night like this. Strange, we almost always spend our nights outdoors, but there’s always so much noise, too much to do, that I never really have the time to just look up at them once in a while. Shame, really. They truly are beautiful aren’t they?”

Guts hummed in agreement, eyes blankly staring at the sky while the majority of this thoughts were focused on where Griffith was pressed up against him. He was too close. Guts could feel long silver hair tickling his shoulder, each brush of his bare skin on Griffith’s clothed arm sending strange waves of sensation through his body, making his heart speed up and his mind slow down.

“I used to do this often when I was a child,” remarked Griffith, seemingly oblivious to Guts’ plight. “I wanted to learn about the constellations. Their names, their stories, their purposes… It fascinated me to no end. Some were easy enough to spot, but others took hours of staring up into the sky until I fell asleep.” He smiled at the memory, bright blue eyes reflecting the depths of the black night. “There’s one right there, the warrior, can you see it?” he said, excitedly pointing up to a cluster of twinkling stars. “Those two bright ones make up his helmet while those three in a straight line make up his sword and-”

Guts smiled as Griffith described constellation after constellation. He could barely tear his eyes away from him as he lost himself in his story. He seemed so different, almost like a child who’d never had to face the blood and horror of battle, who never had to come up with strategies that ensured victory in the face of impossible odds. This was a side of Griffith that Guts had never seen before, so uninhibited, free -at least for the moment- of the responsibilities that came with being the Commander of the Hawks.

“Are you even listening?”

Griffith’s words shook Guts out of his thoughts. "Sorry, I was just thinking..."

"Hmm?"

"It's nothing, don't worry about it. Just go on if you want."

"No, I think I'm done for tonight. After all, silence is what I came here for, though oddly enough I find sharing it with someone much more enjoyable." he smiled, glancing over at Guts.

Guts didn't respond, looking determinedly at the ground as if it held the answers that he was looking for. Tugging at the grass between his boots, he watched from the corner of his eye as Griffith relaxed further against the tree, eyes closed. When he was sure that the other couldn't see him, he turned over to look at him, watching as his chest rose and fell steadily with his breaths. He looked so peaceful, laying there under the canopy of stars above them, Guts had to resist the urge to reach out and touch him just to ensure that he was real and not a figment of his fevered imagination. He had to be content with simply gazing him, appreciating the fact that they could spend their last night together.

"Guts, do you love me?"

Griffith’s quiet words broke through the clear night, shattering the comfortable silence that had surrounded them.

“What?” Guts was taken aback, nearly spraining his neck with how fast he turned to look at him. “Griffith, what on earth-”

“It’s a simple question Guts, one with a yes or no answer." said Griffith, sitting up. "Do you love me?”

“Have you had too much to drink? What brought this on?”

“Your words, your behaviour around me, the way you look at me when you think I do not see you.”

“I never said-”

“No, not outright, but your actions were enough for me to come to this conclusion. So I’ll ask you again Guts,” he paused, moving even closer to the other. “Do you love me?”

“I- I don’t….. No.”

“Liar. Try again.”

“Griffith,” growled Guts warningly. “Drop it. Do you even know what you’re asking?”

“I’m quite sure of it, yes. Just tell me the truth, Guts. Please.” Griffith’s tone had dropped, now barely above a whisper. “If not for yourself, then for me.”

Guts had never felt more lost than he did at that moment. Griffith's eyes bored into him, holding him in place like a pin on a trapped butterfly. Although they were outdoors in the open air, everything suddenly seemed too close, too stuffy. How could Griffith demand the answer to a question he never considered being asked? 

The silence between them stretched for several long minutes. Just as Griffith was about to give up waiting for an answer, Gut’s voice broke through the stillness once more.

“I don’t know. Griffith I- I don’t know what you want me to tell you when I don’t even know the right answer myself.”

“Guts,” breathed Griffith, moving closer and closer until their faces were barely an inch apart, with Griffith practically in Guts’ lap. "Please."

"Gri-"

Guts' words died in his mouth as Griffith tilted his head up and slowly, oh so slowly pressed his lips to his. The kiss couldn't have lasted more than a few seconds, but to Guts it felt like several nights simply passed them by. Griffith’s lips were so soft and warm, it was like nothing Guts had ever experienced before. His entire body froze, pinned down by this simple press of lips. He felt his mind slipping, a gentle haze beginning to surround him.

Just as quickly as it started, it was suddenly over and Griffith was pulling away, lips slightly parted.

The pair simply stared at each other, breaths coming in short pants. Entranced by the man in front of him, Guts brought a hand up to gently cup his face.

"Do you understand now?” murmured Griffith, leaning into his touch and closing his eyes.

Guts swallowed, words getting caught in his throat as he nodded.

“So, do you love me, Guts?”

In lieu of an answer, Guts simply pulled him in close, and crashed their lips together once more. This kiss was hungrier than the first, more desperate, as Guts attempted to pour all his jumbled emotions into it, in the hope that Griffith would somehow understand what he was trying to say.

And understand it he did, given by the way he wrapped his arms around Guts’ broad neck, as if to anchor himself as he took control of the kiss. Guts let him lead, bringing his hands up to tangle in his hair as he sighed contentedly into his mouth. Everything was warm and soft and absolutely perfect and Guts had never felt more at home than he did right then in his arms.

Far too soon, Griffith was pulling away again, pupils blown wide.

“So, yes then?” he smirked, a dancing glint in his eye.

“Yes, you goddamn bastard,” said Guts before pulling him in once again. “Now stop talking.”

“Gladly.”