Disclaimer: NO way on earth could I own Tales of Symphonia lawyerman. If i did, Kratos and Zelos would have fought side by side.
My ear was hurting a bit not too long ago, and for some reason this came out. Not sure what's happening really. Fluffy daddy/son time. Enjoy!
"Lloyd! Is there anything you need?"
"How about some chicken soup?"
"You look really sweaty. Want me to clean your jacket?"
"Or maybe some tomato soup."
"Genis... You know I hate tomatoes."
"You're still wearing your shoes! Wearing shoes is bad for your health. Here! Let me-"
"Colette, I'm fine! Don't bother with my shoes!"
"Tomato soup will fix you right up Lloyd. Don't be a big baby about them when you're sick."
"You can't sleep with your shoes on Lloyd! Or with your jacket on! Why are you still wearing your swords?! You should-"
"For the last time, I'm not sick!"
Down below in the House of Salvation's kitchen, Kratos snorted. If Lloyd wasn't sick, they would have pressed on to Asgard instead of stopping by this place again. The teenaged swordsman nearly collapsed after a skirmish not even an hour ago, but hadn't suffered any wounds to explain it. Honestly, he had a feeling something was wrong since early the previous day, but the lad was too stubborn to say anything. Miss Sage looked over him for a few minutes before making a diagnosis. Lloyd was sick and could not safely make the journey to the city just then. They didn't have the medicines to help him though so the group had to split up.
While their healer took Noishe to Asgard for the right herbs to calm Lloyd's fever, Kratos was stuck babysitting the Chosen, her brother, and the patient who refused to acknowledge he was ill. Honestly the mercenary didn't know which one of them was harder to deal with right then.
Sighing to himself, he watched the boiling water warm a bottle and rag of what he found in there, waiting for them to get to the right temperature before trying a remedy that worked in the past. Above him the children continued to bicker.
"But Lloyd! You fell and didn't get back up!" That was the Chosen, overly worried and making little sense as she tried to help her friend.
"And that mantis hardly touched you!" The half-elf mage now, who was probably the same age as the other two but looked much younger. Best friend of the one who refused fussing. "I know you're no good with them but- OW!"
"Knock it off Genis!" And of course, Lloyd, the one who got them stuck there. "It's not my fault those bugs have huge fangs! Grubby little..."
Kratos looked over the pot once again and nodded, satisfied with the temperature. He looked around briefly to make sure no one was watching before reaching in and just grabbing the towel inside the pot, wringing it out and ignoring the scorching heat. It needed to dry and cool a tad before use. Folding it into a nice pad, he set it on a plate and moved to take out the bottle, drying it off. These would help quite a bit until Miss Sage came back with herbal remedies.
"Oh Lloyd! Can't you at least take off your swords?" The conversation continued far above him as he slowly made his way back to their rooms. "It's not like we can go anywhere right now anyway."
"I don't see why we had to stop to begin with," growled the teen. "I'm fine. I just lost my footing for a moment-"
"And passed out?" Genis sighed heavily. "Lloyd, you have a temperature. You're sick. Just admit it!"
"I'm not sick!"
"Please don't be stubborn about this Lloyd," the Chosen insisted again, getting a frustrated growl from the lad. "Everyone gets sick now and again. I remember when-"
"I don't get sick!" Lloyd yelled so loudly, it even started the people downstairs. Kratos didn't need his angelic hearing to know what he said this time. "This is just a big misunder-"
"That's a load of crap and you know it Lloyd!"
"Please Lloyd! We're just trying to help!"
"Then get out."
Everyone turned and stared at Kratos as he entered the room, carrying his tray and glaring annoyance at all of them. The Chosen was whiny, the half-elf pushy, and Lloyd was just stubborn. The three of them together under these circumstances was a disaster. How did Raine Sage handle them, plus a dozen more at the same time in Iselia?
"Your voices are only making his condition worse," he explained as he set the tray on a nearby end table. "Leave him alone and let him rest."
"But I'm not-" A cold glare from one swordsman to the other put an end to the debate. Kratos was not going to change his opinion on that unless he had definitive proof. Lloyd had none.
"You're staying in bed until Miss Sage says otherwise. You two," he turned to his friends, "bother the priests or pilgrims. Do not enter this room again until Miss Sage gets back or the building catches fire, and do not set it on fire."
He focused his last order on the mage, ensuring they didn't make excuses to come in. The half-elf gulped and nodded, still a bit scared of the old soldier. Both he and the girl smiled awkwardly to their friend and waved. "Well, looks like we're off! Later Lloyd!"
"Wai- You can't!" A sort of panic set in on the teen sitting on the bed as he was abandoned by his classmates. Both of them looked sorry for him, but put on smiles anyway. "Genis! Colette!"
"Sorry Lloyd... you heard what Mr. Kratos said." She forced a smile for them as they started towards the door. "We'll see you when the professor returns. Please be kind to him."
The last comment was directed at the mercenary, who gave no indication to having heard it or not. As soon as they were through the threshold, Kratos secured the door and released a breath. Hopefully those two would keep out of trouble for a few hours. He heard some sheet ruffling behind him, calling his attention back to the insistent boy trying to prove he wasn't what he was. "I'm not sick Kratos."
"Perhaps not in the traditional sense," he acknowledged, turning back to the lad at last. He looked over the teen, spotting exactly what he had before. "But you are not able to travel, let alone fight, at this moment."
A scowl was his immediate response, arms folded defiantly. How he looked like a three year old right then. "I can too fight."
"You can hardly stand." Just looking at him now, his biological father knew exactly what was wrong. "You're disoriented on your feet, your hearing on your left is impaired, you didn't eat much this morning, and you hardly slept last night. You do have a fever, but it's slight. If it were any one of these symptoms, I might overlook this, but it's not."
"I'm fine!" Lloyd insisted once again, getting a cold glare in response. Why was this boy so stubborn?!
"You've been tugging on your left ear for the past two days, increasing steadily. Even now it hurts. You have an earache."
"No I d-"
"Admit it now, get treatment, and in the morning you can fight again." Hopefully. It could take several days to properly treat it, but if they caught it early enough, it shouldn't be a problem. "Or you can continue to be stubborn, refuse treatment, and possibly lose all hearing in your left ear. Your choice Lloyd. Either way, you're not leaving this room until morning at the earliest."
The teen glared to the side, clearly fighting the urge to rub his already red ear. After hearing the rant, there was little he could do, and he certainly couldn't deny it anymore. "How did you figure all that out? I didn't say anything about my ear."
"I pay attention to my surroundings. Take off your shoes and swords, then lay down on your right side." At least he Lloyd was admitting something was wrong now.
"Why?" Almost on cue, the boy cocked his head in the opposite direction, blinking at him owlishly. Last time he saw that look, Kratos almost had an earache of his own from the constant questions.
The mercenary raised an eyebrow at him, glaring slightly to get the teen to start moving, before answering. "Do you want to leave in the morning?"
"Then do as you're told." He took the borrowed, heated bottle of olive oil from the tray he brought in and started filling the dropper he requested from the priests. This method worked fairly well last time. He only hoped it worked yet again.
"What are you doing?" He could hear the dropping of boots near the bed and caught a glimpse of Lloyd setting his weapons aside just as he turned back around. He made no move to lay down though, just rubbed his ear yet again.
"Preparing a home remedy that should hasten your recovery. Lay down."
Lloyd glared confusion at him. "You know how to cure earaches?"
"Lay down Lloyd." Shouldn't he be sick of hearing his own voice by now? Despite having dealt with a few earaches in his time, he was amazed at how frustrating the patients could be. At least his son didn't have a cold to go with it. Mithos was unbearable with a cold and earache.
Kratos fought to keep back a groan. "You'll see in a minute. Now lay down."
Lloyd didn't hide his annoyance as he finally did as he was told. "Fine. It better not hurt."
"It won't." With Lloyd's head on the pillow and his aching ear open skyward, the sellsword crouched next to him and started dropping the heated oil into his ear. "Hold still for a few minutes. The oil needs time to work."
"Feels weird..." His doctor 'hm'ed above him as he finished administering the treatment. Now they had to wait while the wax loosened in his ear. "What is it?"
"Olive oil. Hold still." Swiftly Kratos set aside the dropper and took the now slightly damp rag. It was still warm to the touch which was all he needed. Gently he placed it over the ear and down the neck, warming the skin and fluid underneath.
"What's this supposed to do?" Curiosity kept the lad speaking, jostling his head and making things a little harder.
"Melt the wax enough to drain out, relieving the pressure inside your inner ear. Hold still and let it work." Couldn't he be quiet and let this work? He was losing count of how long the oil was in there.
"Drain? Where's it supposed to drain to? Is that the reason my ear hurts? Because it won't drain?"
Good Aska Lloyd was being chatty today. "Likely."
"Where will the wax go? Do you collect it? Where does it normally go?"
"Lloyd, be quiet. Your chatter is making it difficult to keep your head still."
"Why does my head have to be still? You haven't answered my questions. Any of them." Lloyd pouted sourly, glaring up at him like a child. It'd been a while since he'd seen that face. "Why won't you answer my questions? It's my ear after all. I deserve to know what's going on with it!"
"Quiet." Huffing out some frustration, he gave the lad a cold look. "How can I answer anything if you keep talking?" Finally the words sunk in, silencing him momentarily as Kratos found a seat on the bed, one that'd keep him within arm's reach of the rag. Looked like he'd have to stay there if Lloyd was ever going to stay still long enough for this to work. Sighing slightly, he started speaking again.
"When the timing is right, you'll switch sides and the wax will drain out your ear and onto the cloth. Yes, wax buildup is one of the reasons your ear hurts. I'm sure there are others. I cannot say where it normally goes; you'll have to ask your teacher when she returns. Now keep your head still and be quiet so you can recover quicker. Sleep if you can. You need your rest."
"Nah, not interested." Kratos held back another groan as his grip on the cloth tightened, keeping the boy's head in place. "Gah... not so hard! What's got you in a sour mood?"
He didn't answer, just rolled his eyes and kept his mental count going. Though it was clear Lloyd wasn't going to be whining as much as others, his incessant need to speak and be entertained was going to be tiring. "Seriously Kratos, this is really boring. Can't Colette and Genis come back in and-"
"But I'm bored!"
"I'm not tired!" Was he really having this conversation with a seventeen year old boy? "Besides, how am I supposed to sleep with that gunk in my ear? It feels really weird."
Valid point, but Lloyd still needed his rest. Sighing lightly he tried for a compromise. "You don't have to sleep, but you do have to stay still. And stop talking."
"Uuuhhhggg... boring..." The kid pouted, he finally whined. "When can I change sides? I'm freakishly bored."
"Ten minutes should do it. I'll tell you when to flip." Here it came.
"That'll take forever!" How easily this boy became with every task handed to him. "Why can't I flip over now? I wanna hear things good again. And I hate sitting still."
"I can tell." The once absent father discretely placed his hand on his son's forehead then neck, feeling his temperature. The slight fever he and the professor detected earlier had risen a bit, but that was to be expected considering the treatment. It wasn't high enough to place any blame on his behavior though. This was all Lloyd's personality.
Sighing heavily, the kid continued to prattle on. "Can't I do something? Anything? Ten minutes is forever when you're bored."
"LAME!" Kratos was sorely tempted to flick his ear for calling his suggestion lame. Lloyd twisted his lips in thought for a moment before offering something. "How about a game? I spy with my little eye-"
"Lloyd, doesn't it hurt to hear your voice right now?" Now was not the time for 'I Spy'. Now was the time for his ill child to sleep and regain his strength.
Abashed, the teen looked at him then away, jostling his head a bit but not a lot. "A little..."
"Then why are you talking?" He had an earache a time or two. He didn't like hearing people's voices then, let alone his own. It was doubtful his son liked it any more than he did.
Lloyd thought about it for a moment, then answered. "Because if I don't, you won't say anything."
That stopped his father's thoughts for a moment. What? He explained, not looking at him. "For some reason, I don't mind your voice. It doesn't hurt. What you say does sometimes, but I never had a problem listening. Wonder why..."
For a moment, the old hero's mind went back to the happiest days of his life; Anna was alive and Lloyd was so small, hanging on every word his father said. Even then Lloyd was stubborn about going to bed. When he was asleep, he slept like a rock; getting him to that stage though was a hassle. Yet he always would quiet down and close his eyes partway through one of Kratos' tales from forgotten times.
Anna used to giggle and say it was because Lloyd loved listening to him, much more than hers at least. "He's comfortable with you. Hearing your voice lets him know you're always going to be there for him. He's safe with Daddy."
Was it the same now? Did the comfort Lloyd felt from hearing his voice as a child continue into adolescence? It was possible... Allowing himself a small smile, he brought himself back to the present and made a decision. "If I tell you a story, will you hold still long enough for the treatment to work?"
If his hand wasn't securing the boy's head, he was sure he'd jerk around to look at him excitedly. "Really? You'll tell me stories?"
"If you behave."
"Do you know any about the stars?" An eager grin grew across his face as he looked at him from the corner of his eye. Some things never changed.
"I have traveled the world more times than I'd like to count," Kratos stated evenly, "and hear more tales than there are stars. Care to narrow down which ones you'd like to learn about?"
Lloyd's grin only got bigger. Suddenly the next ten (eight now) minutes didn't seem so bad anymore. "Celsius' lantern. I always wondered why she had a lantern."
That actually gained a small chuckle from the man, so small the teen wasn't sure if he heard it at all. "It all started with a penguinist."
Raine could not believe her eyes. It was just before sunset when she made it back to the House of Salvation and was greeted by her brother and the Chosen. They eagerly took care of Noishe, reporting how Kratos kicked them out of Lloyd's room so he could rest, then saying something interesting was going on right then. Her only warning: be very quiet. So when she opened the door to care for her patient, she wasn't sure what she was going to see.
It certainly wasn't something she expected coming from those two.
Lloyd was sound asleep, laying on his left side with a now yellow cloth underneath his ear. His head rested on the mercenary's lap, who was reading a borrowed book silently and blindly running his other hand through the boy's hair. The two of them on the bed like this was such a tranquil scene, she was almost certain they were replaced by characters in a book. "What the..."
Immediately she had Kratos' attention, who merely looked up from his book calmly. "Is his medicine ready?"
His voice was low, but not quiet. Yet Lloyd didn't move an inch, which was very strange. Lloyd was a very restless sleeper, especially in a bed. Sure he could sleep anywhere, even standing up, but she never heard of him sleeping on someone's lap. When these two weren't fighting monsters or training, they didn't do a lot together. When did they become so close? 'Maybe Kratos just has a magical touch with him...'
The woman decided to put it aside for now. It was a good thing Lloyd was sleeping, comfortably at that. She should be satisfied with that. "Not yet. I wanted to see how he was doing first. What exactly did you do?"
The mercenary shrugged, setting the book aside. "A simple home remedy to help drain the wax from his ear. It's not enough to guarantee a full recovery, but it was enough to help him sleep. He still has a fever."
"I see..." Raine came closer and realized the cloth under Lloyd's head was yellow from earwax, somehow coaxed away from his insides. If that much was gone, relieving the pressure, then Kratos did a good taking care of this one at least. She still stared at them though, confusion on her face. "How come he's-"
"It was the only way to keep him still," the man stated plainly, stilling his fingers on Lloyd's head. The teen shifted a bit but did little else. "I'll wake him up when his medicine's ready."
"You've taken good care of him." The healer smiled briefly before glaring a little. "But the other two you left to their own devices."
"They're better behaved away from him." Honestly she had to agree. Lloyd was an instigator, Genis a tease, and Colette went along with them. Without him, their antics were at a stop. Those two alone probably put the house in better condition than the last one they visited. Still, being the adult, he should have kept a closer eye on them.
She eyed the two of them a moment longer before smirking. Well, Kratos was very busy keeping his student from ruining his health further. It was a shame to separate them. "How much longer do you think you can stay there?"
"Long enough." He was well aware of how the two looked, but the mercenary was a professional. He would do whatever was required to get the job done.
Raine continued to smile at the cute scene, knowing it would play out very differently if their roles were reversed. "Might be. I'll finish preparing the elixir. Has he eaten anything?"
"Dried fruit and meats two hours ago."
"That'll do." Quietly the half-elf turned back to the door and made her way out. She still smirked as the so called heartless sellsword picked his book back up and returned to slowly petting the lad's head. If she didn't know better, she'd have sworn he was a father looking after his feverish son. Come to think of it, they did look a little alike...
"I'll be back up in half an hour with his medicine." She only got a 'hm' in response but that was enough. Lloyd was going to be up an at 'em tomorrow morning. Kratos was going to make sure of it.
A/N: I have been told I have a very soothing voice, or at least it doesn't hurt people's heads when they have migraines. My dad does too. He used to read the polar express to us each christmas eve and we would be ready to pass out by the end of it. One my my favorite traditions and memories. So I decided that Kratos' voice (which is awesome) would also have that effect on Lloyd. He already seems to like ruffling his hair, and draining ears requires gravity, so the lap scene happened. I looked up symptoms, results, and natural remedies to earaches so I'm fairly confident about this. Only fairly.
Anywho, hope you've liked! Please comment. I love feedback.