Notes : Starts the next day after the Pope told Sun that he'll be going to the Kingdom of Moon Orchid for the wedding (which we all know won't happen anyway) - reference somewhere in vol 3 chap 1.

A gift for Gimei

Checked by Gimei (It's odd, I know).

With (or without?) a dose of sillyness and oocness. A crack.

Disclaimer : LSK is not mine.

Seems like it was yesterday when I challenged Jacques and dueled with Son of the God of War instead. I did plan thousands of (reasonable) reasons to refuse his duel, but he just had to drop Captain's name.

He wants to fight with Captain?

I can't allow that!

I just can't let him ridicule Captain. Captain, who was far from weak, though only few knew. Thus I stepped up and fought with him, knowing full well that I'm going to lose.

The pain was unbearable, he ruthlessly slashed me on the chest even after a winner had been declared. But what was even more painful was the sight of Captain staggered backwards after healing me. His face pale. Was healing me that taxing?

I'm sorry, Captain.

You couldn't even have your breakfast before being dragged to sing the hymn, and the patrol awaits after that. Did you even have a decent meal before you healed me?

I don't think so.

Really, Captain. I really didn't mind you call me a fool, if that meant you will never know the truth. The reason why I accepted his challenge. You didn't have to. It was better that way.

Just what have you done, Ed?

Wearing the uniform and all, I was now ready for our daily training. But before that I need to wake up someone from his slumber.

"Wake up."

"Five minutes more..."


"Ten, Adair."

It increased?

"Captain is here." I whispered softly.

"What?" his eyes opened at once.

He looked around, and seeing no one else besides me, he roared, "Liar!"

"Awake yet?"

It was a norm for me to wake him up just before I went to conduct our daily training. He'll always be the last to arrive, panting. It was not like I'm being mean, he just can't wake up earlier than that. Believe me, I've tried. Like, two or three times? We started the training as usual except for one obvious fact. They were sulking. My very own platoon is holding a grudge against me. They're whispering towards each other, eyeing me in resentment.

"How despicable."

"What a bastard."

"He abandoned us and have fun all by himself!"

Innocent passerby will easily misinterpret their words into something else. Thankfully, they kept the protest among themselves. We just couldn't let the others know that our platoon is having some kind of internal strife, could we? Who knows what Captain will do if he heard about this?

And again, I was grateful that they didn't make much noise about our drill either. Even after getting an extra lap from Captain, which we all believe by now, the reason was Ed.

The whispering continues. I guess it couldn't be helped. Our platoon always held pride of knowing the latest gossip - I mean, the latest rumor of what happened in the Holy Temple. No wonder they got angry for not being able to share the latest juicy news, especially when they heard how awesome the fight was.

The chance to watch the match fade away as Captain ordered them to guard the empty Holy Temple. Their attempt at begging him failed miserably. Of course no one dared to disobey his order. Being the only one allowed to watch the melee made me a despicable person in their eyes. I thought as time passed they will forget their resentment, though. It has been like... what? A week?

By now it was clear that they still hold some kind of dissatisfaction against me.

Just move on, guys.

Till the end of the practice, the situation still didn't improve.

I've really underestimated them.

"Look, I've already apologized, right?"

What else do you expect me to do?

The resentment was still there.

"Fine. I'll treat you guys for a drink tonight."

"So you think your sin can be easily solved by that?" Ed protested.

Don't tell me you're already tired of living, Ed?

"My heart hurts." he added, pouting.

" How could you leave us? I thought we're comrades! How could you..." one of them even dramatically wiped out his non-existent tears. He rested his head on Ed's shoulder, and received a pat as consolation.

"There, there. You're not alone. It's just that we couldn't see the battle."

"Or fight against a witch together with the royal knights. That must have been awesome."

"It was all because we were stuck in the Holy Temple while a traitor conveniently watched the match."

I really had raised them the wrong way. To think they will act like this. Who do they think they are?

A maiden in distress?

They were lucky that they were not a part of the Judgment Knight Platoon. Vidar would't let it slide, he definitely would have welcomed them to the Judgment Complex with a warm smile. The crime? For being a total disgrace to the rest of the holy knights. Seeing him hold a whip would send chills down the spine, what with that baby-face of his.

"It's such a pity."

"Yeah, who knows when such a fight will be held again?"

Yeah, it was a real pity that we were nowhere close to a cliff. I really had the urge to kick them all down a cliff, one by one, to save me from all the whining.

It's kind of sad, but I couldn't do that.

They may directly meet the God of Light if I do so.

"Fine, a dinner then." I relented, recalling that the kitchen had a day off today.

"It's not like we're ungrateful or anything, but..."

"It you don't want to I don't mind." I shrugged, tired of their childish antic.

"It's a deal!"

"Sounds great."

One by one they voiced out their agreement to the bribe - well - to my offer, except Ed.

Seeing that he was the only one left, he muttered softly, "Traitor."

"Don't worry, Ed. As your friend, I'll be responsible in eating your share," the crying guy just now said, smiling earnestly.

"Hey, that's not fair!" protested the others.

"Let's have a bet. The reward will be Ed's dinner!"

"What's the bet?"

"Whether Tyler will accept Knight Captain Hell as his captain or not?" suggested the quiet one within the platoon.

"It's not like we'll know the result immediately."

As the bickering continue, I smiled and said, "See that? You have a whole day to think of the offer. Or the others may steal your share."

"You've promised!" Ed said. His decision was greeted by crestfallen faces of the rest, muttering complaints like 'how disappointing' and 'I thought you've got guts.'

I nodded. He must be broke again.

Done with the drill, I went to the kitchen to make breakfast for Captain. Vidar never understand why I went to great length in serving him.

Making a breakfast is not a vice-captain's job, Adair.

I just smile. He was right. Making breakfast for Captain was not my job. Buying blueberry pies or ganging up on people were not part of my job either. What he didn't know was the reason I did all that because Captain was... well, Captain.

Though I do understand he said that due to lingering resentment for years being called Radar, which was done solely for Captain's amusement.

Your captain really should learn others name by now!

I just hide my smile. He didn't have to worry about that. Captain has perfect memory, proven by all the people my platoon and I have ganged up on throughout all these years. We even ended up ganging up on the wrong person when Captain first gave the order. Poor Elijah.

Captain, please don't make more enemies than necessary.

A toast slathered with Knight-Captain Ice's blueberry jam and a glass of milk, plus some honey biscuits. Oh, I almost forgot to place a tomato on the tray. The cook had asked me whether I can't differentiate between apples and tomatoes when I asked her for the red fruit. I can only say that Captain had changed his preference. Finished, at last. What's left was for me to pass them to Captain.

I really didn't want to meet him, actually.

It was yesterday that Captain showed us his disturbingly dazzling smile.

He revealed that smile when he asked us to ganged up on Knight-Captain Earth. He used the same smile when he asked me to jump down the cliff times and times again.

Jumping down, huh?

The experience did change me... by a whole lot.

It was at that time that I learned of my real captain. He was perfect despite his imperfection. Only then did I realize that I want to serve him as his vice-captain. I will still serve him even if he's not my captain anymore.

Captain, whoever you are, rest assured that Adair will always be at your side.

After a couple of knocks and calls for Captain, he opened the door just enough for me to hand him the tray, smiling brightly... no, it was not his usual smile. Smiling yesterday's smile, obscuring his words with praises for the God of Light, he told me that the special training will start tomorrow, details will be given to me later.

He remembers.

I really should repent to the whole platoon.

Then I went to my room, intending to finish correcting the rest of the paperwork. Of course I had a light meal before I started correcting them, a simple bread slathered with jam, which is not blueberry, and not sickeningly sweet like Captain. No, I didn't share his taste buds, which was a good thing.

The kitchen day off...

It reminded me of him, Vice-Captain Leaf. The whole continent knows Leaf Knight was a good guy, and knowing the real him, I won't refute the claim... much. My fellow vice-captain always concerned whether his captain had something to eat for days like this. He took great care of his money, else he can't give any for his Captain to borrow.

The first time I entered his room, I almost thought I was in the wrong room. For a nature lover, I'm not expecting his room to be full with all the graph and statistics glued to the wall. When I asked what it's used for, he just answered in a bored tone, "Just some analysis on the price of seasonings. How it fluctuates according to demand... so on and so forth... to help me forecast the price and make more accurate budget for the captain's next wages..." and continued to explain things only experts would deem interesting, which is also why Knight-Captain Storm loves him.

He was good at finance, though whether he was naturally talented or was forced to adapt (because of his captain) was open to discussion. I bet on the former. Really. He can easily helps Knight-Captain Storm estimate the monthly expenses of the twelve platoons, given the information provided was sufficient.

The said expenses would often become the reason for a peaceful discussion to escalate to a battle between those two and the Pope (Captain once involved - it was originally his responsibility - but it didn't take long for him to give up and dump the task to the Storm Knight instead), which was understandable as the Pope will ask them to cut out money for the unnecessary part, such as Knight-Captain Leaf's attempt to get some funds for seasonings for his upcoming journey with Captain, and still cut out the money even at the necessary part.

Like asking the Leaf Knight Platoon to make the shaft for their arrows themselves instead of buying them.

Or like how he refused to give more money so that the armor's made would have another function besides being a mere decoration.

My fellow vice-captain made me wonder; as amazing as he is, how did his captain still end up as the poorest of the Twelve Holy Knights?

The question was answered not long after.

"Adair, what should I do?" he asked me in concern, lamented his captain's spending habit. He always give his captain the budget sheet every month without fail, and his captain always manage to disappoint him, without fail too, each and every single time.

Even after equipped with more accurate and detailed information of the price of seasonings between shops around the city - courtesy of Knight-Captain Storm, not to mention his haggling skill, the result remain unchanged.

One thing I learned.

You will never win against your own captain.

I'm very thankful that buying blueberry pie for Captain was a joint responsibility between Knight-Captain Judgment and I. Recently even Knight-Captain Hell helped us in supplying Captain his never-ending dessert.

Seeing how he get distressed over his captain, I suggested, "If the salary is not enough, how about some side income?"

He paused and stared at me.

Contemplating, he finally said, "You're right. Now I need to choose between sales or service. Oh, right! We'll just stick with sales. For service the only thing we can offer are healing, but then the Pope will get mad, what with we fighting with his clerics to gain money. And it's not like we have that much reserve of holy light compared to them. Now what to sell... It must be something that can give high profit with little effort. And it would be preferable if the material was cheap, or free. "

Lost in his thought, he just rambled on what crossed his mind.

It will take countless papers for him to determine what's best to sell.

A few days later I met him at the market, smiling his business-like smile.

Well, let's stop his story here because I still have some works to do.

Focus on the paperwork, Adair!

Spending hours correcting them, (was it my imagination or did the workload increase?) I went to Knight-Captain Storm's room to return the finished ones to him.

"Knight-Captain Storm?"

No response.

Weird. Even if it takes time for him to open the door, at least he will answer my call.

"Knight-Captain Storm?" I tried again.

I'm only met by silence.

He's not dead yet, I hope?

Recalling the amount of paperwork yesterday... it was really possible for him to - cutting all my thoughts, I immediately turned the knobs only to realize that the door was not locked.

He left the door unlocked?

Oh, right! The lock broke years ago. Not after Captain (and the others) secretly tossing paperwork and more paperwork to him. (I've got to wonder how the honorable knight-captains started learning that skill, with the exception of Blaze Knight.) Well they even do it openly nowadays. Entering his room, should I feel relieved that I didn't find him collapsed in the middle of correcting them? He's not even here!

Where did he go?

There was no meeting between the knight-captains, and it's not like there was any uprising whatsoever that require him to travel. In fact, everyday was peaceful, so peaceful that it felt a little eerie. Like the calm before the storm. And yet Storm Knight was missing.

A/N : Vice-Captain Leaf's personality was borrowed from Lucathia's Vice-Captain's Tale, I just add a bit about him. Not sure if I write him right though, or any character for the matter, which was open to discussion?