Characters/Pairing: Lateef/Archimedes (Karru and I's OCs.)
Warning: Nothing really. Some platonic, borderline-romantic slash, and the usual warning for godawful, unbeta'd writing. This is actually one of the tamest things I've written in recent memory.
"Would you care to explain the point of this little exercise?" Archimedes asked, voice dull with disinterest and irritation as he took another drag of his cigarette - his mentor Lateef had chided him countless times for smoking on the job, but had finally been worn down into grudging acceptance.
"It's quite simple, Sir," Lateef explained patiently. "Since you've reached A-Rank and become qualified for heart-opening procedures, I thought we'd start out with a simple one...Namely, yours." He paused, smiling and inwardly waiting for a reaction from the younger man. Pushing his goggles up on his forehead, Archimedes fixed him with a piercing stare.
"...You're joking, aren't you?"
"No joke," Lateef replied. "I'm surprised they didn't have you do it during your earlier training. Heart-opening is an integral part of-"
"Stop, stop. Stop," Archimedes said, putting up his free hand. "Forgive me if I seem out of line, but I was under the impression that the Kokoronauts were a legitimate organization, not a group of New Age healing quacks." Tossing his cigarette to the floor, he ground it under his heel. Lateef sighed, rubbing his temples.
"No, Sir. This is heart opening in a more...Literal sense," he said. "It will allow you to access your own vault and - with practical application - the vaults of others." He gave the archer a stern glare of his own, trying his best to sound authoritative - giving orders still wasn't his strong suit. "You need to know how to do this. You might think it sounds ridiculous, but let me ask you a simple question. What's more important to you: your own ego, or being a successful Kokoronaut?"
"Fine. Fine. You've made your point," Archimedes sighed. "Let's just get this over with. What do you want me to do?"
"Vaults are typically opened by the owner experiencing a strong emotion and then channeling it into mental energy, creating a sort of psychic 'key'," Lateef explained. "That much should be nothing new to you. However, there's...Something of a catch."
Archimedes tilted his head questioningly.
"The emotion has to be positive," he continued. "More often than not, heart opening is most easily facilitated by feelings of love and attachment. Negative emotion won't do anything but lock the vault tighter."
The pause that followed lasted well over a minute. Calmly lighting another cigarette, Archimedes took a long drag, smoke curling from his nose and mouth as he exhaled and glared up at his partner.
"This is some kind of joke, isn't it?" the archer asked, his voice icy. "I came here for serious training, and you tell me I have to use 'love'. Do you honestly think I'm that stupid?"
"You're being stubborn, Ydriss," Lateef says sternly. "You know just as well as I do that I'm not kidding. This is something that you have to do."