It was late at night, and everyone had retired for the night. It was cold and starless, and Locke could see his breath misting in the air despite being nearest to the fire. Scanning the placid faces of his companions, he realized that the girls had curled up together near the fire. Sabin’s loud snoring made Locke debated the pros and cons of stuffing a pair of the Monk’s socks in his mouth.
Even as Locke smirked at the idea, the treasure hunter didn’t have a death wish and decided against it. The rest of their companions had lucked out and won a coveted place in one of their tents. He found himself cursing Setzer because he knew he’d been swindled. They all could choose their game or deciding factor of choice and Locke was terrible at poker. One hand had decided his fate and left him feeling that the Gambler had stacked his deck.
“Next time, rock paper scissors…” Locke breathed out softly as he stretched his calloused hands out toward the fire. They were stiff with cold. Getting stuck with first watch without the luxury of a sleeping roll, to wrap himself in was making it difficult to focus on looking out for monsters.
Before long, his thoughts had wandered from monsters and back to a happier time.
He was young again. Happy again. An innocent boy of eight, playing with his childhood friends in Kohlingen. Their preferred game had always been rock paper scissors. The Treasure Hunter had become quite adept at the game and never had to go up to the unsuspecting girls scaring the daylights out of them.
All of them except Rachel. She’d always given chase to the boy charged with the task to the delight and unrestrained delight of those who’d sneaked out of their certain doom. Her sharp screams as she gave chase to the boy who was practically begging for mercy always made Locke smile fondly. Those were peaceful times that ended when the Empire invaded Kohlingen. The childhood friends were all gone after that, and a sharp guilt had encased Locke’s heart.
He expelled a shaky breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding and was greeted with the piercing stare of Celes peering at him curiously. He jumped up from his perch near the fire, heart racing and eyes practically jumping out of his head.
“You’re supposed to be keeping watch,” she said matter-of-factly.
“O-oh… right,” he admitted. “I was just –”
“—Thinking about Rachel,” Celes finished for him.
Locke sighed as he sank down next to the former General and stared into the glowing embers their fire had become. He poked it with a nearby stick before tossing another log onto the blaze. “I’m that easy to figure out am I?”
She placed a gloved hand on his shoulder as he placed his own over it. “You’re a fairly easy read,” she supplied coolly.
With a sheepish laugh, Locke looked over at her as she placed her sword across her lap. “How long was I daydreaming?”
The General shrugged her shoulders. “Long enough for your watch to be over. Get some rest, we’re heading out at dawn. Here,” she said as she produced her neatly rolled bedroll. “Yours is in the tent. Use mine.”
Locke was genuinely surprised by this. Eventually, his surprised look softened into a grateful look as he took the bedding, unrolled it and made himself comfortable. He felt Celes’ hand running through his hair, and it felt calm and was lulling him to sleep.
“Thanks,” Locke mumbled tiredly, wondering if she was casting sleep on him.
“You’re welcome,” she said with thinly veiled humour. “Rest now.”