Hearing a knock, surprisingly soft and timid, caused Hamza to lift his gaze from the book he was reading and turned his attention to his bedroom door. He felt a frown tug at his lips and he put the book aside. “Come in,” he said.
Slowly, the door handle turned and the door opened. A familiar carrot top popped his head into the room before quietly entering. “Hamza?”
Hamza resisted the urge to frown deeper with worry. Ever since their trek into the labyrinth that day, where he, along with Lynus, Axel, Rahas, and Lirit were ambushed by a trigourd, Lynus had been unquestionably quiet and…unsettled.
“Hm?” he murmured as he motioned for the orange-haired medic to move further into the room and to shut the door behind him. “Something wrong?”
Without his medical bag and coat, Lynus’ hands fidgeted relentlessly as he chewed lightly on his bottom lip. “D-did you...did you know? About Rahas?” he unexpectedly asked him.
There were a lot of things he had learnt about Rahas. He needed to be more specific. “Hm?”
Hamza took a moment to take in the sight of the medic in front of him. Lynus looked uneasy, unnerved and frazzled. Something must have happened between him and Rahas in the labyrinth while they were separated. But what? What could have made the gentle and tolerant medic feel uncomfortable and bewildered?
“Ah,” Hamza uttered when it all fell into place. “You figured it out, did you?”
That Rahas was infatuated with him?
Lynus unexpectedly drew in a shaky intake of air. “He...kissed me,” he confessed. “In the labyrinth. Today.”
Well, that was a bit of a surprise...that boy wasn’t subtle, was he? No wonder Lynus looked pale all day. The shock and surprise by the event would have left him feeling tortured and confused.
“I see,” was all Hamza could say. He knew that, one day, Lynus would figure out about Rahas’ feelings for him.
“You’ve always known, haven’t you?” Lynus asked him quietly.
Hamza nodded his head. “I have.”
Lynus looked alarmingly pale and he shook his head, as if to clear it. “I...haven’t told Axel yet,” he began to prattle. “He’s worried, though. About me. I’ve been thinking about it and...”
“You really had no idea, did you?”
Lynus looked as if he was torn between feeling foolish and apologetic. “N-no. How could I?” he asked in return before his expression crumbled into a heartbreaking look of desperation. “What have I done?”
Hamza reached out to take the medic by the shoulders, certain that Lynus was going to start hyperventilating. “It’s not your fault,” he said firmly, looking straight into Lynus’ watery violet eyes.
“What do I do?” Lynus asked him desperately. “I don’t know what to do.”
Honestly, it was somewhat unnerving to see Lynus in such a state. He was usually the one who comforted and consoled when everyone else was feeling lost, confused and out of sorts. But even the comforter needed comfort from time to time.
“Lynus, listen, there’s a chance that Rahas has mistaken familial love with romantic love,” Hamza explained as he kept his hands on Lynus’ shoulders. “You were the first person to enter his life that treated him with kindness and generosity. He’s confused. Lost. We can’t tell him what to do or how to think. He needs to figure it out on his own. And he will. In due time.”
Lynus took a moment or two to allow those words to sink in, and he seemed to have found some comfort in them. “Ok,” he murmured softly. “You’re right.
“It might be best if you separate yourself from him for a while,” Hamza suggested gently. It appeared as if the two of them needed space to think for a while.
“I don’t want him to think I hate him,” Lynus immediately stated before he looked downcast and glanced off to the side. “But...I don’t...”
“Don’t want to have to hold yourself back and appear as though you are walking on eggshells around him?” Hamza finished for him. “Was that what you wanted to say?”
Lynus looked guilty.
...Honestly, kids these days.
“It’s ok,” Hamza continued. “It’s understandable that you would feel that way.”
“I never thought something like this would happen,” Lynus confessed quietly as he shook his head slowly, as if still finding it difficult to comprehend.
“Continue to treat him as though he is your brother,” Hamza said as he removed his hands from upon Lynus’ shoulder, certain that the medic had managed to compose himself somewhat after their talk. “And though I know you don’t want to hurt him, you must let him know that he is your brother. And only a brother.”
“Ok,” Lynus whispered with a nod of his head. “I understand. I’ll…try.”
“You’re all right now?” Hamza asked, giving Lynus a somewhat pointed look to indicate to him not to bother lying to him.
“I’ll be ok now,” Lynus said with a small smile. “Sorry about all this.”
Hamza waved his apology aside. “Hardly be helped, can it?”
Hamza was honestly slightly surprised when Lynus suddenly moved forward and hugged him, his arms around his neck. He quickly recovered, though, and hugged the slender medic back. He couldn’t help but muse lightly about how skinny Lynus was before pulling back, allowing the medic to utter a small grateful ‘thank you’ before quickly scurrying out of the room upon hearing his name being called by Axel.
Watching him leave, Hamza silently mused about what kind of state Rahas must be in if Lynus was so out of sorts. However, he realised that he’d have to deal with that later. The white-haired dark hunter was likely sulking somewhere.
Still, he better send Chi-hung to find him and keep him from doing anything drastic. It won’t be easy trying to get the boy to open up, though.
Maybe he should just send Simmons after him? He surely couldn’t make things worse, could he?
“You can come out of hiding now,” Hamza said as he dropped himself down upon his bed and turned his attention to the closed bathroom door.
A mere second after those words passed his lips, the door opened and Cedric stood at the threshold with a hand on the doorhandle and the other resting on his hip. He had an unfortunate coughing fit moments before Lynus required Hamza’s attention and had entered the bathroom in order to freshen himself up.
“I wasn’t hiding,” Cedric chided in return as he walked over to him. “I just didn’t want to wander out and make things more awkward for poor Lynus.”
Hamza nodded his head idly as he rested his back against the wall that was next to the bed. Poor Lynus, indeed. He was in quite a state. Hamza could only hope that when Lynus finally told Axel what had happened that the protective redhead didn’t go on the warpath. Brother or not, no one was allowed to take advantage of his sweet, gentle Lynus.
Approaching the bed, Cedric abruptly dropped himself down next to him and quickly nestled himself against his side. As Cedric rested his head upon his chest, draping his arm over his torso, Hamza wrapped an arm around his waist in return, tugging him closer against his side.
“It’s nice to see Papa Hamza comfort sweet Lynus for once,” Cedric commented lazily.
“Hm, I’m as surprised as you are,” Hamza murmured.
“Where’s you little gunner boy?” Cedric asked as he idly trailed a finger over the material of Hamza’s shirt, drawing random circular patterns. “He’d throw a fit if he found daddy dearest snuggling with another.”
Hamza rolled his eyes. He would. He definitely would.
“He’s hiding from the two little pinkettes,” he replied, referring to Binah and Becky, the two pink-haired girls becoming quite notorious in their own right. “They’re trying to blackmail him into playing matchmaker for Shen and Magnus.”
He wasn’t sure how they were trying to blackmail him, though. Nor did he know what kind of…tricks the two girls were willing to pull on both Magnus and Shen. But in all honesty, those two needed to get their acts together and couple up. It was getting ridiculous.
“And poor Lirit is being pulled along too, I take it?” Cedric commented more than questioned, making a soft sound of sympathy under his breath. “Must be hard for Lirit. Trying to get it through Macerio’s dense head that he likes him is difficult at the best of times.”
Hamza had to chuckle as he idly rubbed his hand up and down Cedric’s arm, causing the silver-haired troubadour to snuggled closer against him.
And with Macerio constantly fretting about his dignity, Lirit didn’t have a hope in hell. The orange-haired troubadour appeared patient, though. Still, Hamza awaited the day for Macerio to suddenly realise that Lirit has had a growth spurt and was taller than him by an inch or so now. The hissy fit he would undoubtedly throw would be highly entertaining.
“At least Tobyn and Jhon have their act together,” Cedric commented.
Hamza hummed lightly in response as their hands sought each other out and entwined themselves together.
Jhon and Tobyn finally admitted their feelings for each other, yes, but that led to a whole new set of problems; jealousy. Or, to be more specific, Tobyn’s abhorrence to Jhon’s blatant denial that he was being fawned over by almost half the town’s population.
That blond-haired, blue-eyed protector was as popular as Axel. The only difference was, Axel knew of his popularity, and he loathed it. He did what he could not to unintentionally string any hopeful admirer along. Jhon just would not believe that he had a fan club of his own. He was charming and friendly, unintentionally giving a few the small sense of hope that maybe he could be swayed by them.
Honestly, keeping Tobyn out of fights was sometimes more difficult than keeping Axel out of trouble. He had lost count the number of times he had to pull the blond-haired survivalist back from using sleeper on one of Jhon’s admirers.
He couldn’t stop him all the time. If Lynus returning from the hospital on a few occasions and muttering about a wayward survivalist on the loose, using sleeper or poisoner on people, was anything to go by.
Speaking of protective other halves, there was Shen. With Magnus growing more confident in himself and suffering from less migraines, a few of the townsfolk were starting to realise what a silent beauty he was. Much to Shen’s chagrin. Unfortunately, Hamza really couldn’t compete with Shen. Shen usually relied on sheer intimidation, but when he did feel the need to be more…physical, Hamza could never catch him in time.
Still, the ronin was probably the most successful of them all. After a little ‘chat’ from him, any potential admirer left Magnus alone. And Magnus, the adorable alchemist, hadn’t the faintest idea what was going on.
“And what about you?” Cedric suddenly asked him, lifting his head up and smiling up at him with a knowing grin, appearing as if he was somehow able to read his mind. “You’re not exactly Mr Politeness and Grace when I’m involved, are you?”
“What could you possibly be talking about?” Hamza said in feigned innocence.
It was actually more like what ‘event’ was he talking about? If he was thinking about that green-haired landsknecht who was, seven years ago, making fun of Cedric after he had been released from the hospital and couldn’t talk, then that guy deserved everything he got…
“That brown-haired troubadour who wanted to serenade me in public, remember?” Cedric supplied for him.
“You pushed him into the fountain,” Cedric said.
“I did no such thing,” Hamza insisted. “He tripped. Hardly my fault he hadn’t yet mastered the art of walking, now is it?”
“You then tried to drown him!”
“I was simply helping him up.”
“With your foot on the back of his head?”
“I had to get a foothold somehow, didn’t I?”
Cedric laughed, a good hearty laugh, as he nuzzled his head under Hamza’s chin. “Is it any wonder you can keep up with these youngins?” he teased.
Hamza found himself chuckling. Mostly from the memory of having his foot planted on the back of that prat’s head, grinding his boot into that messy brown hair as he flailed about in the water, garbling some incoherent nonsense.
However, before either he or Cedric could reflect further, there was a loud squawk outside his room. Although startled from the sound, neither of the two attempt to push away from each other. It was mostly due to the fact that they recognised the voice.
“Lynus?!” Macerio’s outraged voice could easily be heard throughout the inn. “When did Lirit get taller than me?!”
Hamza and Cedric both laughed at the pure indignation in Macerio’s voice.
“Come on,” Cedric nudged as he attempted to pull himself out of Hamza’s arms. “I want to see this hissy fit for myself.”
Hamza found himself rolling his eyes yet again, but he allowed Cedric to pull him off the bed and to his feet. And as Cedric kept a hold of his hand as he pulled him to the door, Hamza couldn’t help but muse about how…content he was feeling.
Creating the Guardians Guild was the best thing he had ever done.