(Author's Note: Dedicated to all SO2 Fans who support the pairing I am writing about. As you can tell, it's obviously a Dias and Celine pairing. ^_^v Thanks to Aile Anna for being my support and for editing my work when I'm too blind to see the mistakes. ^-^v Except for that one mistake she made, which I now corrected and reuploaded. "Why do you have to be like that?" She deleted Celine's line forgetting that it was referenced to in the follow paragraph by Dias; I hope that clears that confusion up..)

By Yashira

When two hearts collide

Part 2

Speechless as if the proverbial cat had torn out his tongue, Dias's body stood rigid like a thousand year old statue that had never crumbled away. Blue eyes wide, cheeks momentarily paled by their surprise, his thoughts reeled. Celine? The question was there, just on the tip of his tongue, but he could no more force it from his lips as he could the woman who was sobbing miserably against his shoulders. Her soft delicate arms, as she wrapped them around his chest, lacerated any rational thought with a quick rupturing flick as her sweet-smelling body pressed close to his. What in blazes was wrong with him? With her? He had never been so tongue tied for words in all his life. And for what, because she had wrapped her soft, feminine curves around his rough, angular back? Impossible. The aloof and proud swordsman's impregnable defensives could not be penetrated by a simple, pitiable touch of a woman. …not by Celine's touch.

"Celine," he breathed through half astounded lips while his fingers cautiously reached out and very slowly pressed over her own. Sarcastic and biting wit, the very curt words that were his usual brisk, to the point weapons, were gone. Jerked away as if, by this sudden movement of hers he stood exposed and enveloped in a shroud of weakness he had not known he was susceptible of, Dias found he could no more finish the sentence, then he could shake her away.

"He doesn't love me," her voice quavered, half muffled by his cloak, as she had buried her shameful face within its forest green fabric. It was as if she sought to keep from crying, but the painful warble in her voice proved she was faltering. Half-way between speaking Celine trailed off, unable to continue. "Not like before…. things have changed. He has-"

Dias's hands lightly rested over hers. It was almost as if he were afraid that she was some sort of trick of his senses. Perhaps if he turned around and looked at her, really looked at her, he would find himself suddenly alone. "Problems with you and the Prince then? I shouldn't be surprised, you're such a spoiled and high-strung girl." Addressed in that gruff and flat tone of his, spoken out of instinct and without thought, he was surprised that he inwardly flinched at himself. He should have sugar-coated his words, spread across them a sweetness that would have made them seem less terrible and rude. But no, instead he spoke as if he were blowing away what she had said by treating it as casually as he would a rough "hello" or a "good-bye".

"Maybe you're right. Maybe I am spoiled and high-strung…" She rubbed her cheek against his strong, sturdy back as if relishing in the comfort she could find in his powerful build. Dias had been the strong one in the group. After what life had viciously thrown at him, no one could reach that iron wall of fortitude that he had surrounded himself with in retaliation. If she could just hang against him for a moment longer, if she could soak up the strength in his limbs, perhaps it would make her feel better. It was a desperate hope, but one she clung to as she kept close to him.

His blue eyes shot open with a start. This was not like Celine at all; he had never expected her to agree with him. Turning to look at her as a soft breeze ruffled through his blue hair, he shifted his gaze over her with a questionable look. With her face buried in his cloak, he could only see a shimmer of light violet hair, but it was the way she huddled there. Huddled as if she had hit rock bottom and had no other place to go. What the heck had happened between her and Chris? He had never thought that Celine, the proud, pushy and ultra-nosy woman could ever cow-tow to another man in terms of who and what she was. It was just unimaginable for Dias that she would be so unhappy.

But why should he treat her any different than anyone else, his mind quickly rationalized. He didn't get startled when Claude or that idiot Ashton talked about how wretched they felt at key moments in their lives, so it should be the same with Celine. Plus, he had to remind himself, there was always that little fact that he didn't care about what happened between her and Chris. So, things weren't going that well in the "dream" world she had with him and now Celine wanted someone to go crying to? The thought infuriated him, he was no confidant or "girl" friend placed in Cross for Celine's convenience. He'd only come to the city because it was on route to Arlia - that was it. Running into Celine had been purely an accident.

And yet, as he glanced down at her arms which were encased by his fingers, he found such thoughts floundering. So smooth and delicate, her skin was like silk in his rough weathered hands. It should have been a crime that he could feel her this close, that he could almost imagine seeing her applying lotion to keep the skin soft and gentle. What would Chris think if he saw Celine holding onto him like this, hmm? Somehow that thought brought a wry grin of satisfaction to his lips. He almost wished that that Prince of Cross could walk in on them now. "So it is your fault?" Although, he would never admit it to himself, something still irked Dias. Why had her first words, after hugging him, been about that man? "I mean, afterall, you're a woman right?"

"What's that suppose to mean?" She parried back at him, her voice momentarily gaining a degree of vigor at his ill-mannered tone. Here she was, miserable and inconsolable and his words were edged in black accusation. What was it about Dias' gruff tone that always made her feel as if he was issuing a challenge to her? A challenge that she could neither back down from or turn away without losing a good amount of dignity. "It just died. There wasn't anything I could do. Why do you have to be like that?"

He didn't answer right away. His blue eyes flickered over his shoulders as if to watch her reaction to the very words she had said. What did she want him to say? True, her body pressing against his had addled his senses for a brief moment, forcing his tongue to knot itself repetitively, but now that they spoke back and forth, he wasn't completely helpless like before. "Be like what? You aren't the same Celine I remember, so it shouldn't matter what I say." It was like he had been goading her towards something. Each word he spoke, each surly and impolite intonation he flexed into his words all seemed to lead somewhere. "The Celine I remember had the presumption to think she could save a bunch of kids kidnapped by bandits all by herself. This one here, couldn't even light a fireball anymore."

"Hey." Pulled out of her self-tormenting pit by such insulting words, Celine's eyes widened as she tried to pull back with a curt reply, "I'm the same Celine that fought against those bandits AND I can cast a fireball on you right now, so watch what you say. AND I COULD." She snapped, tossing her head as if she could sway his words as simply as that. How could he dare say she had changed? What did he know- "Eh?" Halfway through speaking, his hands had firmly clamped down on hers, squeezing shut over them so that she could not pull away. Though she mumbled it against his shoulders, there was a colouring blush along her cheeks. "Let go."

"Will you cry if I let go?" He sounded cold, almost calculated as if he was purposely leading her into this argument. In short, his voice spoke as if it was smirking at her. "Will you be the same Celine I once knew?"

"No… I won't cry." Her words came out with a soft puff of air as a warm look fluttered through her now understanding eyes. He'd purposely said those words, her look seemed to say. Said them to shake her up and make her realize that she was acting foolishly. In more ways than she could understand, Dias had been worried for her and unlike Chris, he hadn't wanted her to change at all - to be something that she wasn't. Had it unnerved him to hear her speaking like that? Like a demoralized person trapped in a shadowed room with no way out except despair. Thinking about how she had been made Celine feel embarrassed and horrified. Dias had been right, she had not been acting like herself at all.

Perhaps this had been the source of her troubles with Chris then? They were acting not as they were, but as they assumed the other had wanted them to be? A prince had need of a princess, someone who would be there, pretty and attentive, but who would throw off her own happiness for his own. As much as she wanted to be that princess for Chris, as much as she wanted to love and care for a man who had first shown an interest in her, she simply could not do so. Maybe she had been desperate for love so badly that she had been blind to her own feelings. That made a lot more sense. Pressured by her family to marry, pressured by society that seemed to frown if the woman was unattached, she had simply accepted Chris because he was there… he was convenient.

Had Chris felt the same? Had he tried to escape the rigid confines of his role, but had not seemed to think ahead about what it would mean in the long run? The more she thought about it the more she realized that their love might have been some fabrication they were both too afraid to let go. And, as Celine thought on this, she wondered if Chris had ever accepted her whole-heartedly like the others - like Dias? The answer that came back was a simple No. He had never tried to snap her out of one of her dark moods when she became obsessed with the belief that he did not love her. He would back away and let her be and let her deal with her own feelings.

…let the doubts fester so that every time she fell back into melancholy it would be worse than before.

Yes, she mused, her thoughts trailing to the man who stood with her now, Chris and Dias were completely different. Completely different. "Thank you, Dias."

"Oh? I didn't do anything." He looked surprised, his head cocking to one side as he tried to puzzle through her current tone. She sounded relieved somehow. In turn a part of him felt something akin to despair wash over at that startling realization. He'd crumbled. The once mighty Dias, the man no one dared approached for fear of his sharp tongue, and ice-cold looks, had succumb to making a friend feel better. What was the world coming to?

And she would probably just go back to the Prince now. Where had that thought come from? Not only had it lingered in the back of his mind as if it meant to accuse him of something, but it was also snickering as if he were a simpleton. He had been close, at least something had told him that much, but now he had ruined it for good. A fool and an idiot. He wasn't sure which was worse; helping Celine feel better or helping Celine to go back to that … Chris.

"But, you did," Celine's voice was warm now and filled with a hope that had been missing to her for the pass years. Drawing back from Dias, and fixing him a bright look, she waited for him to turn. Although they had been off to the side, away from the main traffic of Cross and Fair people so they drew little or no attention to themselves, Celine still had the decency to be properly embarrassed. Here she had been carrying on like a silly school girl, where just anyone could see. "Would you like to go for a cup of Sambai Tea, Dias?"

Blinking at her, as if he couldn't figure out what had changed, his eyes following the flow of her hair and the shy smile on her lips. Just what was she up to? She hadn't acted all coy and playful for ages. It wasn't an unwelcome change, but a startling one. "Okay, but you're buying."

"Sure." And reaching out for his hand, twisting her smaller fingers into his bigger ones, she pulled him towards the fair.