Title: On Edge
Word count: 790
Prompt: Firo/Maiza - knifeplay - balanced on the edge
Summary: Lessons have never been so complicated.
Maiza twists out of reach when Firo lunges for him, flicking a scurry of sparks down the length of both knives as he parries. Brown eyes snap after him and Firo’s next move is a perfectly executed cross cut that would have taken several of Maiza’s fingers off if it had connected.
Metal grates when their knives clash again and Maiza sees the tremor that shakes Firo’s elbow with the impact. No real surprise considering how young Firo still is, how long they’ve been at this. He ought to back off now, give Firo a chance to catch his breath and come off the defensive.
But he doesn’t.
He pushes Firo hard, his knife dancing in his hand probably too fast for a practice fight. Firo isn’t backing down though – he never has – and Maiza feels the swell of approving pride inside him warring with the ingrained caution that keeps him from living up to his self-imposed role of teacher. Firo has real talent with a knife (its edge is almost as dangerous as his smile, Maiza doesn’t let himself think), and he’s getting good enough that Maiza really has to pay attention to keep from getting caught by the bright edge of that flashing blade. Because Firo might be young but he’s no fool and Maiza has no intention of putting himself in a position where he has to explain the conspicuous lack of blood after a clear hit. Not when it means he’ll have to move on or risk drawing the wrong kind of attention to what he is. So he fights too hard and Firo’s lessons become less a matter of training and more like a real fight, one where Maiza always holds the upper hand.
It will teach Firo to be ruthless though, and as Maiza jerks back to avoid losing an eye from a particularly sharp thrust he wonders if Gred would still be alive if he’d had the ability to teach his brother how to fight this way too.
Firo whirls, knife slashing up in a short, angled arch that doesn’t yet have the muscle mass behind it to turn it into a deadly blow. But it will. Maiza is certain of it.
“Watch your guard,” he murmurs, letting his blade cut nearly too close, whistling past Firo’s ribcage and flicking a neat slice in his buttoned shirt.
Firo is already dodging, lower lip caught between his teeth as he concentrates. A curl of sweat licks at the crease of Firo’s mouth and Maiza’s eyes track it instinctively before he convinces himself to look away. Because Firo might be young but he’s not as young as all that and the comparison of him to Maiza’s brother has never been less appropriate than it is now.
He lashes out too sharply then, crossing right over the knife-thin border between difficult and deadly as his knife sweeps down, aiming to kill. His heart jumps into his throat.
Fast but not that fast Firo staggers back; one heel catches on the other toe and sends him tumbling to the floor. Maiza’s knife snicks a half inch off Firo’s hair as he falls and Maiza hates himself when he realizes how much worse it nearly was. He draws himself back with an effort, a cold sweat beading on the bridge of his glasses.
Firo is sprawled on the ground at his feet, legs splayed wide and chest heaving (with exertion, Maiza reminds himself firmly). They stare at each other for a long, breathless moment and then Firo throws his head back and laughs.
Maiza thinks that Firo laughing is one of the most unfairly attractive things in the world.
“You never go easy on me,” Firo declares, nothing even close to a complaint. His left hand stretches up and Maiza grasps it without thinking, feeling the faint calluses on Firo’s palm and hoping that Firo doesn’t notice the absence of the same on his.
“My apologies,” he says as he hoists Firo to his feet. He lets go of Firo’s hand as quickly as he can without being rude. “That was uncalled for.”
Firo rolls his eyes. “I’d rather learn how to avoid being gutted by you than by some Runorata thug who won’t stop once he’s got me on the ground.” Slim fingers twirl Firo’s knife while Maiza is still trying not to think of that in the wrong way and Firo looks at him over the honed edge. “Again?” he asks with a grin.
And Maiza can’t help an answering nod as they both sink into ready positions. If Firo wants to learn the hard way, Maiza’s not about to protest.
Because really, Firo might be young but he’s very little like Gred after all.