|Focus of a Soul
Author: Sui Megami PM
Kratos is back... and he has some bad news that will send the entire group into a rollercoaster of events involving a great organization and a stubborn halfbreed.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure - Lloyd I. & Kratos A. - Chapters: 29 - Words: 124,736 - Reviews: 167 - Favs: 69 - Follows: 24 - Updated: 03-05-07 - Published: 08-14-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3104591
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Bijin: Homygawd... I can't believe I'm saying this, but this story is officially finished. I can't believe I finished it. Once again, I'm going to get mooshy for about three seconds and say to all the people who read and especially to those of you who review, thank you so much. You are the reason I was able to finish this story. I looked foreward to your words after every chapter, I really did. And for those of you who didn't review, I want you to know I checked the hits a lot to see who was reading and such and it made me smile every time I saw that you had come back. So thanks so much for all the surrport out there.
I have to tell you that finishing this story is rather surreal. But I also have to tell you how much fun I had writing this epilogue. I've been waiting to post this for a while since I love it so much. XD Anyway... let's do review responses one last time. Oh, and keep on reading through the author's note at the bottom as I have a little announcement for those of you who follow this story.
Catwarrior: You'll find oooouuuuuttttt...
MoonlitInuko: Thanks. I surprised myself by finishing this. I'm usually such a lazyass.
George Lennon: Update granted, mah friend.
Maxmagnus20019: Glad you liked the ending. I fine-tuned it for forever cause I was afraid people wouldn't feel satisfied with the ending battle. Granted, the story continues a little in the epilogue to close things up, but a sense of completion needed to be felt in the last chapter as well.
Yokura: All shall be explained, your questions answered... grasshoppah...
Onihime 942: Ending indeed... It also makes me sad. Yet... happy at the same time...
Epilogue: The Party
"Sheena, what are you doing? Get out here!" Raine insisted, waving a decorated hand at the girl who seemed content to cower behind the bushes of the palace.
"I feel like a fool! No way!" the dark-haired ninja insisted.
Genis appeared at his sister's side and crossed his arms. "Look, you've stalled long enough. The party started an hour ago." His body was dressed in a simple suit, dark gray jacket and slacks with a light blue blouse beneath, brought together with a white tie. Beside him stood his sister. Her dress sported a single strap, which began above her left breast and cut across her collarbone to hold to the right side of her neck. The dress itself was a white and light blue, matching her hair and eyes, and accentuating her pale skin. Shoes were delicate and a shimmering white and a white handbag was held in a braceleted and ringed hand.
"Zelos said we could arrive late," she insisted.
"But he did say we had to arrive," Raine growled.
"Miss Sage?" a deep voice called. Raine smiled politely at Regal, whose form was walking gracefully from the ballroom, Presea at his right arm. "We were beginning to wonder when you'd show up." He paused. "Wait... wasn't Sheena coming with you?"
"I'm making a stealthy entrance," she called quietly.
"She's embarrassed at the dress the elves made for her, so she refuses to come in," Genis explained. "And for someone interested in stealth, you certainly are making a fuss." He shrugged, turning and blushing at the adequately decorated Presea. Her hair had been pulled into its usual pigtails, though were half in buns. Hair had been left to spill down on each side of the buns, a small red ribbon tied into each. Her dress was a simple deep red color, yet fit her elegantly. The top was spaghetti strap and fit tight around her bust, then was left to hang loosely down over the rest of her body, stopping at mid-shin in front, but dragging along the ground in back. Regal was dressed in his typical royal fashion, Green jacket overtop a pure white t-shirt, cuffed with a green tie at the neck. His pants were khaki, shoes an elegant dark brown. More colors than most would wear, though they all seemed to work together for the man at this point.
"Hey, guys, don't take off-!" Colette picked up her pace as she exited the ballroom, her heeled shoes clicking on the floor as she moved. Raine had suspected the young diplomat to be dressed professionally, but she looked as commonly fashionable as the rest of them. Her dress fit her form nicely, curving with her body. The top was halter-style, the neck dipping down to her breasts, though remaining modest, as Raine had expected. The dress itself was a dark golden color, the fabric beneath a shimmering white. The golden was slit up the left leg, allowing the white to show through. The bottom flared slightly, allowing for free movement as she walked. A delicately golden shawl snaked around her elbows, trailing slightly behind her. "Professor Sage! Genis!" She trotted over, nearly spilling her punch as she went. "You made... um... where's Sheena?"
Genis pointed at the bushes and Colette wandered over, pushing her cup into Genis' hand. Loose blonde hair spilled over the bushes as she leaned in, attempting to get a look at the cowering girl. "Oh, Sheena! Your dress is gorgeous! Come on out!" she insisted, obviously taking hold of Sheena's wrist.
"Ah! Colette! No, it's embarrassing!" Sheena wailed as she was successfully evicted from the shadows. Regal whistled slightly as she came into the brilliant lights, which fell from the ballroom. Sheena's figure was generous enough and it seemed as if the elves had made the dress specifically for her. A deep lavender color made up the primary part of the dress, form fitting as had been expected. The dress trailed to the ground, allowing her feet to be seen in front, though was dragged slightly on the ground in back. The deep lavender parted sharply beneath her breasts, angling out toward her shoulders, wrapping around the tips of her shoulders, then tightening around her arms to form sleeves, which ran the length of her arms and onto her hands. Across the bust that would be showing due to the lavender's angle, was wrapped a soft pink, which seemed to make the colors tastefully brilliant. Her right hand was decorated with a middle-finger ring which then stretched and branched out to dance across the back of her hand. Sheena looked down. "You didn't have to pull so hard," she insisted, adjusting the pink necklace, which rested upon her collarbone. She pulled a piece of hair behind her ear and blushed. "Alright, alright, I'll go in."
Regal chuckled. "You didn't want to come out in that? Sheena, you look beautiful."
This incited another blush from the ninja before she quickly changed the subject. "So... have Lloyd and Kratos come by?"
Colette shook her head. "Nah. They said they'd be around toward the end when most of the people have already gone home. Which actually should be soon." She spun slightly and grabbed Sheena's wrist in one hand, and Raine's arm in the other. "Come on!" she cried, laughing like a schoolgirl. "Come on in and dance with me! Presea won't dance, and I feel weird dancing by myself."
Sheena whimpered slightly as she was dragged to the shifting mass that was the dance floor. The song at the moment was a slow song, so the girls took a small bit of the wall to themselves and paused, waiting for the song to end. "They shift between slow songs and fast songs. So we just have to wait for the next song."
Sheena took the place in as Raine wandered away for a moment to grab a small glass of wine. The entire ballroom had a golden glow to it, brilliant lights lighting up the entire palace and most likely the church nearby. Fashion and finery were abundant as the richest and the most powerful had decked out in their finest to celebrate another accomplishment. It made Sheena feel suddenly self-conscious. Her dress was not studded by diamonds or covered in a glitter, which reflected the light in an alluring way. Not that she'd want such an attention-drawing outfit, but she certainly felt common. She wondered if perhaps the others felt similarly. She found her eyes wandering to the balcony, expecting to find the redheaded young man, which had arranged her attendance to such a fancy issue, though they were decorated with men looking much older than the one she searched for. A band was tucked into the back right-hand corner of the room and played a slow and soft song, coaxing a steady and intimate sway from the group of couples on the dance floor that took up a large circle in the center of the room. A crowd of large tables were set up in the front corners of the room and were spotted lightly with the rich and famous, conversing about this and that, showing off their attire and accessories. Sheena again suddenly felt common.
A shift in the music brought to her attention that it was time for her to move. Several more groups joined the dance floor, and Sheena found herself pulled onto the floor herself, Colette and Raine beginning to dance already. At first, Sheena hardly swayed, though once the music caught on, she danced as Raine and Colette did, joining their swaying threesome. They spent a long time like that, allowing their bodies to bob and sway with the crowd and the music alike. Familiarity with each other made their dance almost seem rehearsed, each one flowing their movements into the next and the next. Finally, the song slowed to an end and another rush of people flooded the dance floor, couples making their way in to dance to the slow song.
Sheena halted her movement, her feet clumsily attempting to keep her upright and tensely move about to the crowd's movements, Colette and Raine suddenly gone from her vision, swallowed into the sea of suit jackets and finely accentuated body parts. She backed up slightly, though she seemed to have migrated from her original position near the edge of the dance floor and now found herself without any idea as to the quickest means of escape.
Her face went red.
A firm body came against hers from behind, a gloved hand enveloping her own for a moment. Red hair fell onto her shoulder before she was gently pushed away long enough to twirl her around and gently bring her back against the body. She nearly choked. "Zelos?" she cried in a harsh whisper.
Zelos put the index finger of his gloved hand to his lips, a smile coming over them as his occupied hand squeezed hers slightly. "Mustn't ruin the mood, Sheena," he chuckled softly. His free hand moved down to place itself kindly upon her waist, pulling her close to him as the dance continued, her own body eventually giving in to his lead and swaying with him.
"Where... where have you been?" she inquired against his chest. She found herself staring at the front of his finely decorated blouse, his royal jacket colored white and red, elven embroidery dancing up and down the front and sleeves. Hands were dressed in delicate white gloves and his slacks were perfectly pressed and white, shoes of the same color adorning his feet. Hair was slicked back and caught in a dignified low ponytail, letting some of his bangs hang free, a little of it dangling against her own hair.
"Mingling," he whispered simply. "And looking for you." As the dance demanded, he- along with every other man in the room- twirled the girl at his front, then brought her back to his chest. "You're late, you know."
Sheena shrugged. "You know stuff like this isn't my type of thing. I'm a ninja. Getting dressed up isn't what I call a good time."
"Oh, but you look so beautiful when you do," Zelos murmured slyly. Sheena's face went red again. She found herself almost lulled between the intimate sway of the couples, the beat of his heart, and the soft melody of the music that guided them. Time seemed to fly by, and before she knew it, the dance was over, Zelos stepping back to give her a graceful bow and lead her off the floor to the side. He swiped a small glass from the nearest usher and offered it to her. "Wine? It's the best stuff around."
Sheena pushed his hand away. "No thanks. Who knows what you spiked that cup with?"
"Sheenaaa..." Zelos whined in his typical fashion. "How mean... I just took it off the tray! How could I have done anything to it?"
"I don't trust you," She insisted firmly.
Zelos sighed and began sipping at the wine himself. "Ah, but that dance told me otherwise, my Hunny," he reminded her, offering the glass to her a second time. "Here. I even drank some of it myself." She regarded him suspiciously again before taking the cup, sighing and taking a sip. The taste was tangy, though not in an unpleasant way. She smiled.
"That is pretty good," she conceded. She looked up at him. "This is a nice ball you've got going here." She leaned casually against the wall, Zelos leaning next to her.
"Yeah, well... I hardly had any say in the arrangements. After all, I've spent the last few weeks running around like a madman with you people," he pouted, crossing his arms.
"Oh don't say that. You know we did an amazing thing, ne?" she chuckled, knowing he was being less than serious with his opinion on the issue.
"Yeah, yeah, I know." He looked up. "It's only been about a week and a half since the entire issue ended, but... it seems like it's been forever. Everything moves so slowly around here." He chuckled. "Letto's formal trial isn't even for another month or so. Not to mention I hadn't heard from anyone until tonight. After seeing you all for a few weeks straight, not seeing anyone for a little over a week..." He shivered. "I feel like I'm going into withdrawal."
Sheena laughed. "Hardly. This week and a half has gone by like lightning for me. There was so much to get done at the village for the time I was gone. Not to mention Raine and Genis dragged me to Heimdall so I could get this elven-made dress for this thing."
"Which makes you look like an angel," Zelos interrupted suddenly.
Sheena blushed, but continued. "But either way, everything went by really fast. Though I am wondering how Kratos and Lloyd are doing. Kratos told us he would give us a progress report of the damage to Lloyd's memory soon."
"Oh they'll be here," Zelos assured her. "Kratos gave me his word that the two of them would show up toward the end of the party." He chuckled, and then straightened as his name was called from above. Perched upon the balcony was an elderly man, calling for Zelos' attention. Zelos chuckled. "Well... gotta go mingle with the old folks." He turned to her as the man vanished back into his seat above them. "Thanks for the dance," he muttered, giving a sweeping bow.
Sheena chuckled. "Sure." And then it happened.
Breathless, Sheena found herself with her back to the wall, a gloved hand once again encompassing hers, Zelos' lips gently capturing hers in a gentle kiss. The kiss was short-lived, as perhaps he feared letting it last longer than that, but Sheena suddenly found herself quivering at the passion which was communicated from that brief touch of his mouth. Before she could even breathe again, he had released her hand and darted away toward the staircase leading to the balcony he had been summoned to. Sheena stood in awe, her weight leaning still against the wall behind her, one hand to her chest, and the other gently to her mouth. The feeling of his warm lips upon hers, she decided, would be a feeling she wouldn't easily forget. So flustered was she that she nearly forgot what her reaction should've been in the first place.
"Baka miko!" she shouted after him. She swore she could hear a sly giggle erupt from the staircase. She crossed her arms and leaned back against the wall, grabbing another small phial of wine from the nearest tray. Even so... she couldn't stop the smile that came over recently taken lips.
The party continued in its elegant finery long into the night. It wasn't too long after Zelos' little event with Sheena that couples began to file out of the Palace. Either to walk about the city or head home, the ballroom began to empty. And eventually there remained only a few dancing couples, the band continuing to play bravely as the night wore on. Sheena headed over to where the group had mostly assembled, Zelos hiding quickly behind a confused Regal as she approached.
"Any sign of Kratos or Lloyd?" she inquired casually as she made her way over. Zelos inched toward her, as if testing to see if he would get a strike for his bold actions. She remained still and he eventually took a simple place at her side, smiling brightly.
"Not yet." Raine shook her head. "I hope they show up soon or I'm not gonna have enough energy to hang out with them when they get here."
"Aww!" Zelos cried, his hands fisting and his stance widening. "Those guys better not skip out! I still have to give Lloyd his lecture!"
"Now there's some motivation, Pink-head," a sarcastic voice cut in. Kratos appeared at the door, Lloyd not too far away, wings folding against their backs and shifting slightly before vanishing.
"Lloyd! Kratos! You made it!" Colette exclaimed, running over to greet them.
Lloyd chuckled. "We've actually been here for an hour or so. We just didn't want to come out until the crowd had died down a little." He rubbed the back of his head and shrugged. He looked up to Zelos. "Though I don't know all the details, Kratos did mention something about a lecture, Zelos."
"Damn straight, Lloyd Aurion!" Zelos snapped, marching over and grabbing the back of Lloyd's cape, dragging him away.
Kratos chuckled faintly and turned to the rest of the group, as they looked him over. Kratos and Lloyd sported largely the same outfit, though the colors differed. Kratos' wore a high-necked shirt, a solid white color, pants shimmering white as well. Black belt supported his pants, matching black gloves, a black undershirt, and elegant black shoes. The cape didn't seem to be a separate issue from his top, but rather seemed to exist as a second part of the same material. Lloyd's outfit was similar, though his color was largely black, as seemed to be his inclination in the past few months. High-necked black shirt was buttoned to the right side, pants long and pressed. Shoes were of the same color, only his white gloves different. His cape was in fact a separate piece, held to his chest by two white buttons. Kratos shrugged. "We probably don't look like too much compared to the other people around here, but what can I say? Neither of us are very good with a needle and this is what you get when two guys go shopping for clothes."
Raine chuckled and offered him one of the small phials of wine. Kratos smiled and sipped thoughtfully, faltering under the unified gaze the group was giving him. The angel chuckled as he spun to look at Zelos in the distance, thoroughly chewing his son out. "He's different from when we met him outside of Krimari, that's for sure. It seems that in almost a week's time... a year of memories were wiped. He says the last thing he remembers was picking up an exsphere after meeting with Carlan. Then he woke up on Mt. Chira. He doesn't remember anything about Derris-Kharlan or even the truth about the small device on his hand."
"What exactly was that thing anyway?" Raine inquired. "I imagine it was some sort of focuser for the exsphere, but I couldn't quite tell."
Kratos shrugged. "Lloyd said it was something like that when I talked to him after Heaven was destroyed. In fact it was more than just a focuser. It was a prototype for a device that Heaven was working for. At first they told him it was an amplifier, but in fact it sped up the process of the evolution of an exsphere to a Cruxis Crystal. At an alarmingly fast rate, Lloyd's blood was consumed by the exsphere and soon became a Cruxis Crystal. And when it broke, its job was done. Lloyd no longer has any human blood in him." He gave her a serious look. "Like me, he is now a pure-blooded angel."
Colette put a hand to her mouth. "Oh my god... does he know?"
Kratos nodded. "It wasn't something I was about to hide from him. After all, finding out on his own would be so painful." He chuckled. "He actually said the same thing he said to me the first time he told me about it. He said that it was partially a good thing. After all, if he became a pureblooded angel... his years would be long like mine. Meaning that we wouldn't be alone. We could remain together for as long as angels live."
Raine nodded. "That sounds like him."
Regal spoke up. "So... how is his personality after all this? I mean... how much damage remains?"
Kratos sighed. "Well... he doesn't remember this past year. Which means he doesn't remember Heaven's betrayal. That boy, Carlan... he doesn't remember ever being betrayed by him, and so his personality has softened some."
"But did you tell him about Heaven and such?" Genis pushed.
"Yes. I told him of the betrayal. But I left out the part about Carlan's role. I told him that Carlan had no desire to betray him... which in truth was what he felt. I left Lloyd with a good impression of Carlan." He paused. "But he actually isn't as hateful as he was when we first found him. Mainly because Carlan's betrayal made him that way. He is still a little rough around the edges and has a lot of anger stored up, but that's simply from the two and a half years of rejection he remembers. All in all, he came out the better for this." He looked down. "I think my only regret... is that he has no idea what he did for the world. I explained it to him... but I get the sense that he doesn't entirely believe me. The fact that Origin won't help me explain anything or back up my stories doesn't help either. He basically takes to the information like I was telling him a tale of someone else."
The group gave a common smile. "Perhaps Lloyd will never know how much of a hero he was. Or idiot, as some would see it," Sheena giggled. "But all in all, perhaps it's better he doesn't remember. He can look back on his own experiences with an outsiders view. I think he can truly see how foolish he was being when he did that. I doubt he'll do something like that again."
"Oh by the gods I hope nothing happens that requires that kind of thing again," Kratos muttered. Colette wandered toward where Zelos had sat Lloyd as Zelos stomped back to the group. "Feel better?" Kratos laughed.
"Much," Zelos retorted, a proud smile on his face as he took up his position beside Sheena.
"By the way, Zelos... what was the verdict reached in regards to Warren's group?" Kratos inquired immediately.
"Well, the angel hunts are by no means off. After all, the research sites at Mt. Volley, and Mt. Chira were both found in shambles, and Letto was more than happy to let them all know that Kratos and Lloyd were present at both of them when they were destroyed." He shrugged. "There's definitely no mistake in the fact that Letto was involved in both incidents as well, so charges are being filed against him for his team's behavior. Needless to say he won't be working for the government again any time soon. As for the angels, even if Letto's testimony can be considered questionable considering his involvement in such violence, there are survivors from Mt. Chira, and even paramedics and such from Mt. Volley that can testify that Kratos and Lloyd were at both volcanoes."
"What about Warren and Farith?" Regal muttered.
"Dead. Warren was found with a hole through his gut, courtesy of our pissed off blue-winged angel here..." Kratos rolled his eyes. "And Farith's body was never found. Though the guy dumped himself into a volcano crater. I doubt he's coming back."
"Plus... Lloyd's told me a few things about the last few seconds before Farith jumped. He says he gave him a look. And it was a frightening look. He said it looked like Farith was telling him he had no reason to live anymore. I think Farith was more attached to Warren than he let on," Kratos muttered.
"He did always kind of have that servant kind of air when we were around him. He was always at his side... and always did exactly as Warren said," Genis agreed.
Raine nodded. "And from Farith's story, it seems as if Warren gave Farith what he needed to keep living. Farith's hatred for angels was intense, but he had no way to do anything about it. But Warren offered him a way to alleviate his anger... angel hunting. If you look at it that way, Warren saved Farith. After Warren died... Farith might have seen his life as meaningless."
"Idiot," Zelos snorted.
"I wonder what they're talking about over there." Colette mused, glancing to the group as they chatted amongst themselves.
Lloyd waved an arm. "Hell if I know," he chuckled. "I never seem to know what's going on anymore."
"Well... according to Kratos, you're missing a year's worth of memories," Colette muttered.
"Yeah, that's what he says. Though from the way everyone's tip-toeing around me these days I'm guessing I'm better off not truly knowing everything that happened."
"Sorry," Colette chuckled. "I don't mean to tip-toe."
Lloyd laughed. "Oh it's not you, really. It's mainly Dad." He leaned foreword. "Did you know that the morning after Mt. Chira, he panicked? I've never seen him like that before. He was terrified. I think... he thought I wasn't going to wake up."
Colette stared at him for a long moment, her mind going over the small bit of information. Her blue gaze wandered to the ground, giving a sigh. "I'd be the same way."
Colette suddenly found herself thrown against him, her arms wrapped tightly around his middle and her face burying in his chest. "It wasn't even for a full week, but... it felt like an eternity. You didn't... you would barely wake up! We would shake you and the most you would do was open your eyes. It was like you were a zombie!" Her voice quieted. "It hurt to see you like that. He just doesn't want you to go through the same thing again, that's all."
Lloyd sighed, wrapping one arm around her back and placing the other on her head. "You say that, but I don't have any memories of that time. And I have a feeling that even if I had this past year's memories... I wouldn't remember that. But I assure you; I'm not going anywhere again. Not like that." He sighed. Colette still didn't seem to be calmed. He pushed her shoulders back a small amount, letting her know she should sit back. He smiled. "You know, the music is still playing. Would you like to dance?"
Colette giggled. "Nah, no thanks." Lloyd blinked at her. "But you know what I would like?" Another blink. She leaned toward him. "Flying..." she whispered. "Could you take me flying?"
Lloyd chuckled. "I suppose I owe you that much." Colette giggled again, grabbing his wrist and hauling him out the front door.
Kratos watched them go, Raine leaning over. "Did you tell Lloyd how Colette presented him with motivation?"
The angel chuckled. "Well... not really. I figured I'd spare my son's pride, anyway. Information like that is fairly damaging."
Raine laughed as Zelos offered his hand to the lavender-dressed girl at his side. "Wanna dance again, Sheena?" he requested. Sheena stared at his hand for a moment before sighing and heading out to the dance floor again.
Kratos plopped into a chair. "Zelos' energy never ceases to amaze me. He's been here mingling and such for the entire party. The rest of us have only been here and hour or so and I can tell people are rather worn out."
"He is the former chosen, after all," Raine countered, taking a seat of her own.
"Yeah, but so is Colette," Regal added. "She doesn't seem quite as energetic to me."
"More energetic than Lloyd was when she dragged him out that door," Genis chuckled.
"I suppose," Regal muttered, leaning his head on the table before him. He gave a quiet laugh.
"What's wrong?" Presea inquired.
"Nothing. It's just... after all that... we're gonna be alright, aren't we?" Regal glanced up at Kratos.
"Yeah... I think we will be. Someday. Maybe if trouble will sit its ass down somewhere else... we'll be just fine." Kratos leaned his chin on a fist as a loud impact sounded.
The group couldn't help but laugh at Sheena's attempts to pursue a chuckling Zelos in high heels and a long dress. "You get back here! Sensitive my ass! You pervert!"
"And after all that, Zelos still hasn't changed," Genis mumbled.
"Would you want him to?" Raine inquired happily.
"I suppose not. That would be a little weird."
"Then I suppose everything's perfect," Kratos concluded, receiving a chorus of ascent and nodding of heads.
"Perfect indeed," Regal laughed, watching a lavender shoe strike Zelos in the back of the head.
"Guys! A little help?" he whined. "Come on!! Guys!"
I'm gonna take this little... opportunity thing... to announce that my brain is already working on something of a sequal. It's very early in the works so it doesn't have a title yet, nor does it even have a solid plotline. The fact that I left this a little open-ended was like a Welcome sign for my mind. Right now the most that's in the works at the moment is simply a few short things that follow this story. What will probably happen will be an intermediate one-shot, then an actual story. If my mind ever really comes up with something good. I just hope it can do as well as this one has.
Well, that's about all... Thanks again people and see ya!!