DISCLAIMER: The characters in this story are property of the creators of Shadow Hearts. This story is purely for non-profit purposes.

A/N: I don't think this story is quite as good. It was a present for my little sister and I just wrote in 15 minutes or so. But she really likes it, and she says there isn't enough Keith and Joachim fanfiction out there, so I guess I'll post it. Hopefully it's slightly enjoyable. I suppose the content could be considered spoilers if you haven't done all of Joachim's sidequest stuff and you don't want to know the details. Other than that it's just pretty general.

SUMMARY: The Peach Bat scene was wonderful, and after I heard the details of Joachim's flight from home, I just HAD to elaborate a little. So here's a little one-shot about Keith and Joachim's "fight."

MEN

"En garde, worthless knave!"

The slender vampire, stretched out, cat-like, on the divan looked up at the cry and came face to face with a blazing edge of cold steel: the Demon Sword, ancient family heirloom.

"Isn't that my sword…?" he mused thoughtfully to himself.

"O…Of course it is, fool," beamed the voice again, and Keith raised his eyes to meet those of his older brother as that impressive figure stared down at him haughtily. Joachim was brandishing the Demon Sword, rather awkwardly, and aiming its cursed blade at Keith's throat.

"Well, make sure you put it back in its sheath when you're done," Keith yawned and closed his eyes again. But before he could get comfortable or drift off to sleep, he felt the point of the sword poking him most obnoxiously in the face. He opened his eyes again. "Yes?"

"I have your sword…" Joachim's booming voice faltered, its pitch rising slightly in confusion. "Aren't you going to try to get it back?" When Keith only surveyed his sibling in quiet contemplation, Joachim added desperately, "I'll fight you for it."

"Must we?" Keith sighed, eying a tray of crackers and slices of raw, bloody meat eagerly. "I'd much rather have a snack."

"Damn your snacks," Joachim cried, booming and confidant once more. He used the tip of the Demon Sword to overturn the tray, spilling the goodies all over the stone floor. Some droplets of blood splattered onto Keith's silken pant-leg which caused Keith to furrow his brow a shade. His brother was really taking too many liberties. "The Crimson Vulture cares not for your pathetic needs!" Joachim was continuing. "Now, I say, stand and face me or die impaled on my sword like the commoner you are!"

"Jo-jo! Really!" A shrill, and yet, strangely melodic voice rang out all through the saal. "Must you wear that hideous outfit? It's in such poor taste!" A lithe and graceful figure appeared in the doorway, a large pink bow off-setting her golden locks. "Why don't you put on something nice and leave poor Keith alone?"

"Anyway, it's my sword," Keith pointed out gently, choosing to refrain from commenting on Joachim's red and orange get-up. He was wearing shoulder pads quite covered in large orange feathers, which hung out on all sides, almost like a cape. His tight-fitting gray trousers ended in large, spiked red boots. And over his face was a vulture mask, all red and gray, with a hideous orange-feathered headdress. All in all, in was rather an affront to the good taste of the rest of the household, not to mention the world.

Joachim's face, meanwhile, turned as red as his boots. His bare chest heaved with indignation, each of his chiseled stomach muscles contracting in anger. "Don't. Call. Me. Jo-jo," he cried, his voice rising at each word.

"Right," Joachim's sister smirked as she lazily took a sip from the blood-filled wine glass she was carrying.

"That's it," the hulking vampire huffed as he narrowed his eyes at his younger siblings through the slits in his vulture mask. "The Crimson Vulture will show you no mercy!"

"What? And attack an unarmed civilian?" Keith frowned teasingly as he spread his silk-clad arms out in a gesture of innocence and helplessness.

"Defend yourself, then, man!" Joachim nodded indignantly to the large display case holding Keith's sword collection – he had returned with quite an array of pretty things after his journey to "save the world." Save the world, indeed, Joachim huffed to himself. As though a boring ninny like Keith could ever understand the true soul of such valorous deeds! Joachim ought to have been the one to accompany that little knave, Yuri.

Keith, meanwhile, was retrieving a sword from the bottom shelf, a dull, serrated piece with a gem-encrusted grip. It was an old, old sword, more for show than anything. Joachim's brow creased when he saw it. "You mock me, little brother."

"No, no," Keith insisted with a slight smile. "I just don't want anything valuable getting broken…" Smashed and cracked valuables were always turning up when Joachim was home. His favorite pastime was swinging large pieces of stone, wood, or livestock, as the case might be, at passers-by or inanimate objects which looked vaguely threatening. Once he had smashed their mother's heirloom mirror while attacking his reflection. Not the sharpest sword on the shelf, himself, was Joachim. In his defense, it had been a dark, foggy night in the mountains.

"Your skull is the only thing that will be broken tonight," Joachim roared with laughter. Then he hesitated. "I don't suppose you'd be so good as to wear this while you attack," he muttered humbly, tossing Keith something. The vampire caught it one-handed. It was a mask. A blue-bird's mask.

"Er…"

"You could be the King of Song, the natural enemy of the Crimson Vulture!" Joachim's complexion lighted with ecstasy as he contemplated a clash between those two most highly-revered and ancient foes!

"Er…"

"He can't wear that, Joachim!" The girl in the doorway raised a perfectly-shaped eyebrow. "That's light blue. And he's decked out entirely in royal purple. Have you any notion how much that would clash?"

"Let's just get this over with, shall we?" Keith tossed the bluebird mask to the side, called, "en garde," and lunged at his older brother. Joachim roared with delight and parried.

"Two men locked in mortal combat," he cried as he and Keith flew back and forth, thrusting, blocking, advancing, retreating, conveniently forgetting that the two brothers were unlikely even to scratch each other seriously. "The sound of clashing steel, the smell of manly sweat and perfume… perfume!"

Joachim reeled around and caught sight of his sister spraying her perfume all about the room. "Don't mind me, you two," she replied, wrinkling her nose. "But, if you'll forgive me, you're going to stink up the whole place. Can't you do that outside? And take your manly sweat with you."

Joachim's biceps shivered. "I get this feeling like you're not taking me seriously…" he said tightly.

A long minute of awkward silence filled the air during which Keith's lower lip trembled violently as he held back laughter. He exchanged glances with his darling sister who showed less restraint. She gave voice to a peal of long, feminine chuckles and had to fan herself with one hand to recover her composure.

"Shut u-u-u-u-u-p!" Joachim flexed his arms mightily and brought the Demon Sword crashing down on Keith's coffin in a move of pure manly annoyance. Any further lecture from him was cut off by the jarring sound of snapping metal. All heads present whirled to look at the Demon Sword, now notably missing its razor-sharp, cursed tip. The sword now ended in a jagged row of bent steel, while the rest of the blade lay shivering on the ground beside the dais.

A moment of silence reigned.

"Joachim!" The young vampiress clapped a hand to her mouth and eyed her eldest brother with googly eyes.

"I…It…It can't do that!" Joachim's pupils practically rolled back out of sight. "What trickery is this!"

"None, I think," Keith mused. "It broke."

"It's a Demon Sword," Joachim half-sobbed madly. "Demon Swords don't just break!"

"This one appears to have…"

"I…I barely touched it against the coffin rim…a mere…tap…"

Joachim looked back and forth between the calm and slightly bemused face of his little brother and the incredulous, scolding face of his little sister and felt a constriction in his chest.

He panicked.

With a "puff," Joachim's cry of manly agony became a shrill squawk, even as his muscled limbs contracted into tiny, fluttering wings. A shower of golden sparks fell to the floor, and the bat that was Joachim was gone.

"Well, of all the…"

But the girl was cut off by the sudden sound of laughter. Keith put one hand elegantly to his stomach as he was racked by giggle after giggle. At last, he shrugged and gave into the loud guffaws which demanded to be expressed, his shoulders shaking.

"That was quite the last thing I expected, I must say!" Keith gasped between laughs. "Very nice, quite original! Really!"

The vampiress shook her head in disgust and exited the room as quickly as possible. She adjusted her bow temperamentally and thought to herself, neither for the first nor the last time in her life, "Men are idiots!"