Really, it's rather common.
All you need is two male characters, one preferably more feminine than the other, though not required in the least. They don't even have to interact in the actual game; no heavy-handed sorrows or witty banter need touch their lips, and yet some still find time to throw these various men together. In love, in lust, in whatever label you can think to impose.
So how does this apply to the Sydney/Ashley relationship? Don't they have all of the above, and then some?
It goes without saying that I really love Vagrant Story. And because of that, I will actively seek out fanart, fanfiction, and other mediums of joy, as most will do. The only problem here is... well, a lot of the material I come upon is stamped with the Ashley/Sydney love. Nothing against these people or this pariing in general-- and furthermore, nothing against the works because some are just altogether shiny-- but there's just an overwhelming much of it, and so little of anything else. The Vagrant Story fandom is so small it's basically marrying its cousins, and you eventually turn circles with the digging for new material.
But I digress...? Back to Ashley and Sydney we go, hi-ho.
Agent Riot, former husband and father, has continuously searched throughout the game for the truth concerning his family. It's his bait, his mental cornerstone. Though there is a mutual fascination between both he and Sydney, the likelihood of anything ZOMG BOYSEX!! is very slim to a lot of none. However, this is not to say that there was no chemistry between the two.
[Poof! Spoilers ahead.]
Ashley Riot is a vessel, to be manipulated by Sydney to serve his own ends. He flaunts his charm, sorcery and knowledge; he sets obstacles in Ashley's path to make him stronger, faster, smarter; he studies Ashley, all for his grand master plan.
It progresses to the point where he actually cares about Ashley, in his own strange fashion. An admirable soul, if you wish. But more importantly, a soul worthy of being heir to a greater power. Most likely, Sydney truly believes that Ashley could understand him, and this is something he craves, even if just a little. Afterall, Ashley does see the apparition of a young Sydney, revealing things which the prophet had yet to bring to light.
Ashley, in turn, begins to cast his own light on the cult leader, as he unravels the schemes and secrets of the various players. The most poignant moment is likely near the end, where you come upon Sydney in the Cathedral Atrium. He lies bleeding on the tiles in a circle of candles, the skin carved from his back. Gently held up by Ashley, the prophet falters "Ashley, I... I'm...", to which the Riskbreaker replies "I know.".
That's basically a calling card to yaoiland, I know.
Not to mention Sydney's speech lanced through and through with subtleties, and all the gents running around in those fabulous pants of theirs. But what is to be pointed out, is: not only are riddles innate to Sydney's character, but Ashley is quite the opposite. (... well, except for the whole pants thing, BUT EVERYBODY DOES IT, and Riskbreakers are not to be outdone by the height of fashion.)
Sydney does harbour great interest in the Riskbreaker. But, more so on the grounds of manipulating him to serve his means. There are few "true" moments between the two, moments not serving a purpose of molding Ashley to his whims. Does Sydney see Ashley as anyting else than as his heir? A body made of morals and truths and fighting skill to be crafted to his liking?
Then again, if you want to ship them creepy Léa Monde style, HEY WHO AM I TO ARGUE AGAINST THAT? It's just-- Vagrant Story canon is not an idle shipping ground. Well, unless you do it for the 197lbs of crack, and then it's not quite on the same page here.
Not to say that this pairing can't be worked, and, gosh, are they man pretty. But I just wish people would shift their focus more often.
Q U E S T I O N