Disclaimer: The characters in this fic, such as Koudelka, Edward, etc. don't belong to me; they are property of Sacnoth, so don't sue! ^^0

Dedications: God, my friends, my cousins, my readers, Sacnoth, Koudelka's shitty ending so that I have an excuse to change it, and the lack of romance in Koudelka to make me want to add my own in. :P

Special dedication to ~ Nat, for getting me intrigued in this game. =)

Koudelka: Two Worlds Alike

By Tiger5913

"You don't understand…"

A heavy bottle clunked softly as it slid from a carelessly loosened grasp to descend to the ground, landing within an inch from the face of the young woman that was listlessly lying down. The flames from the fireplace crackled, sending tiny sparks flitting about the air, weakly burning small spots of the surrounding carpet floor. One of her fighting partners sat a mere foot away, recoiling after she uttered the last sentence; as her words stung him more than it had brought upon insult. The alcohol he had consumed made her figure appear blurry, but he still glared at her with lidded ferocity, thinking it hypocritical of her to assume that he could not understand her world when he had lived in similar situations himself in the past.

He watched her carefully, waiting for a further explanation of her assumption, and when he did not receive one, he asked to clarify, "…What do you mean I don't understand?"

The chestnut-haired psychic remained motionless, only initiating movement when she lazily lifted one hand and absentmindedly began to draw circles on the fuzzy material of the floor.

Presuming that she had ignored his question, the man persisted, setting his whiskey bottle down and scooting a little closer to his female companion, "Koudelka, answer me."

After a long minute stretched on between the two, Koudelka Iasant finally turned over to lie on her back, which allowed her partner to glance at the side profile of her face. Her smoky blue eyes stared up at the ceiling as she mumbled quietly, "There's nothing to answer… You think I have so much freedom, but what you don't know is that my freedom's a burden. I am a burden. I was a burden to my parents, my village, my ancestors, and even to myself at times…"

Aside from releasing a heavy sigh of sympathy, the man stayed silent, wanting her to completely finish talking before he dared input his opinion. Whoever had guessed that the leisure time James O'Flaherty was granting to his two battling comrades would lead to such heated conversation. He noted inwardly that her voice ceased to slur currently, as it had affected her speaking when she had made a passionate speech about how painful her past was. Scoffing in disbelief at how harshly the woman degraded herself, he declared, "Come on, don't say things like that. You and your damned pessimism sometimes."

"It's true, Edward!" She fired back venomously, moving her head to lock eyes with him for a split second, and then as if ashamed, she immediately turned her opposite cheek to him. "I'm a burden to everyone."

Edward Plunkett made a low growl deep in his throat, and raised both of his arms just to fling them back down again in a gesture of impatience. Sometimes, there was nothing he felt like doing more than grabbing the young psychic by the shoulders and shaking her vigorously. She was so stubborn, insisting on isolating herself from everything because of her mindset and beliefs that no one would ever see past her strange psychic abilities to recognize her for the person that she was. He wanted her to realize that her stiff resignation from the rest of the world was causing her misery, that only if she started to accept human companionship would she begin to understand the most typical pleasures of life.

"Well, you're not a burden to James and I," he bit off a little angrily, despising the self-loathing periods that Koudelka would occasionally fall into, as he never knew how long it would take before she regained the spunky spirit of confidence that she rarely expressed outside of battle.

She laughed with a note of bitterness in her tone, "Please. It's not like you and James weren't weary of me when we first met. You two have had to put up with my attitude for a couple of weeks, so I guess you're both used to me by now. Besides…" she waved a hand in dismissal, "you were the one that insisted on meeting back up with me after that hideous gargoyle creature in the church had separated us."

Edward shrugged slightly to a nonexistent audience, then slid a side-glance to the young woman, surprised to find her watching him through heavy-lidded eyes, as if she were entranced. He could spy the gray that reflected the shadows of her past lingering in her icy blue irises, and a part of him felt an urge to ease the suffering dwelling inside of her, destroy whatever demons that were causing her such severe pain. Whatever that was preventing her from trusting the company of other people had to be ridded before she could truly begin to heal, but he was unsure whether or not he had the capability to help her. Gazing straight back at the young gypsy, he was subconsciously aware of his hand gliding across the carpet to graze against her bare skin, and then rested itself on her elbow.

Koudelka jolted at the contact, and after sending him a confused look, she immediately sat up and slid her bottom across the floor to move away from him. She brought her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around the pair, ducking her head to hide the longing that she feared might have been reflecting in her eyes. Shifting sounded when her comrade arose slightly from his sitting position to move closer to her once again, disregarding her small noise of protest against his action. He placed his palm on her shoulder, gripping it gently to silently express his concern for her, but not hard enough to prevent her from throwing his comfort off.

"Get away from me, Edward," was all she elicited, turning her head so that she faced the wall, avoiding looking directly at him.

"Damn it, you're not a burden to me, all right? I'm not going to speak for James, but I'd like to see you even after this whole mess is done and over with." His words caused her ears to perk in surprise, and Koudelka shifted slightly to glance sideways at him, hesitation in her stiff posture.

"…What did you just say?" There was a hint of disbelief in her voice.

"Yeah, you heard what I said!" Edward continued, "I want to see you after we take care of this thing with Elaine's monster of a body, and after we leave this godforsaken monastery and journey outside once again. What the hell do you say to that?"

She fully turned to glare into his eyes, shrugging his hand off of her shoulder while fighting the urge to brush back the strands of his blond bangs blocking his view. "Are you mad, Edward?! You want to be around the living epiphany of a curse when you can finally be free of the burden and continue on with your normal life? Do you know how much I will damage your image and your reputation by being around you? Why…" she glanced away briefly, then returned to looking at him, "Why in the world would you do that to yourself?"

He shook his head, trying to suppress the growing anger inside of him at her challenging him; why was it so hard for him to tell her what he wanted? Never once had a woman rendered him speechless and unable to reveal his feelings for her, but this unique individual, who considered herself a curse, had power over him that she failed to recognize. She thought that no one would ever love or want her, when he himself was the living proof that her ideas were completely, irrationally wrong. All the while that he was contemplating, Koudelka sat across from him, staring into his eyes with her cloudy blue ones, seeming to peer into his very soul and strip him of his private secrets.

The blond man gritted his teeth as he ignored her questions and impulsively fired one that had been produced from him current thoughts, "You have no home, Koudelka; where will you stay after all of this is over?"

The psychic blinked, expressing her surprise at his sudden outburst as well as realizing that she had no clue where she could reside when she left the monastery. "I-I don't know," she looked away shamefully, allowing her long bangs to fall over her forehead and cover up her eyes, "I…I will have to sleep on the streets again just like before, I suppose."

With a restrained growl of exasperation, Edward raised his hands and gripped a firm hold of both her shoulders, forcing her to eyes to meet his. "No, Koudelka, that's a bad idea, and you know it! Why would you want to do such an atrocious thing to yourself? You know you deserve better than that!"

"I do not!" She declared heatedly, struggling out of his grasp to press her back against the cool wooden bookcase as closely as possible. "And my life is none of your concern! Who gave you the right to tell me how to run it?!"

"I have a house in America," he revealed, his voice lowering to an oddly quieter tone. "You are…free to go and stay there as long as you like after we all leave this place."

"Wh-what…?" Koudelka was astonished at his proposal, and narrowed her eyes suspiciously, wondering if he was playing a cruel trick on her, toying with her emotions. "Travel to America? All the way from here? I think the whiskey has gotten to your head, Edward Plunkett!"

"I'm being completely serious!" He declared fervently, leaning close to her, hoping that the faint lighting from the fireplace allowed her to see the sincerity in his eyes. "Come to America with me, Koudelka. It's better than you staying here and living around on the streets."

"I… I…" her head dipped down and she mumbled past the constriction that had suddenly lumped in her throat, "I don't know… I-damn you, give me time to think this over!"

Edward nodded stiffly and loosened his grip on her shoulders, verbally agreeing, "All right, sorry. I figure we got a while before we come across Elaine's soulless body, anyway."

The young woman sighed in slight relief as he finally began to move away from her, but then she reluctantly slid her eyes up to gaze at him and stopped his motions by uttering his name, "Edward."

He stilled, staying frozen in his unfinished action, watching the flames dance in the fireplace, painting a mural of orange sunlight upon his fair skin. "What is it, Koudelka?"

"Why did you offer me refuge in your home?" Curiosity laced with underlying distrust was distinct in her shaky tone. "Do you want me to owe you, be forever in your debt or something of the sort?"

Edward turned to face her, disbelief in his expression, as if he were insulted that she would think that sort of motivation was in his character. "No, of course not. You don't owe me anything; remember that you're the one who saved my life from the demon in the attic, so I should be the one that owes you."

She scoffed and demanded, "Well, what is this then, are you trying to pay me back by doing this favor so that you don't have to owe me anything? I want to know your motivation, Edward; why are you helping me when you can just leave me in the streets to wither away in my misery?"

His eyes flared with an unidentifiable fury, and for a split second, Koudelka thought that he was going to shout at her for asking such questions of him. All of a sudden, the man leaned forward and quickly closed the distance between the two of them, thoroughly surprising her with his action. His lips pressed down upon hers with an unfulfilled urgency that he could not explain with words, and as he kissed her fervently, she responded with the same passion that both longed to express. It was a long time before either one broke the embrace, but when Edward slowly and reluctantly pulled back, she saw a burning resolution in his eyes.

"…Now you know why." He whispered hoarsely, standing up abruptly and walking over to the door to leave the room and head into the lab to check on James' progress.

Momentarily stunned, Koudelka could only remaining sitting and motionlessly stare at the space that he had just vacated; unconsciously, her fingers elevated to gently touch her slightly swollen lips. Her heart pounded frantically, the fire inside ignited by the man that had shown her how it felt like to be touched by someone who did not just want to use her body for their lustful desires. But their embrace was something she had never experienced before, and the young woman bit her lip, knowing that she could not look at the American traveler the same way after that night. She finally tore herself away from looking at empty air to gaze back into the flaring flames roaring before her, feeling bewildered as Edward had left her more dazed and confused than ever.

The End…?

Author's Note: Ahhh, Koudelka was SUCH a great game, but how tragic that there was only mild romance between Edward and Koudelka! They so should have gotten together - damn Sacnoth for teasing and tormenting us players like that! Well, as soon as I saw the fireplace scene with Edward and Koudelka in disc 4, I knew that I just HAD to add more to the scene; Edward wouldn't be so callous as to not comfort Koudelka when she was that depressed about her childhood. Anyway, I hope you Koudelka fans enjoyed this fic, as well as the Koudelka and Edward pairing, and please leave a review!

With love for my fans,