It's winter break! Yay! One more one-shot before I get to the regular fics. Not like anyone reads them, anyway…

Warnings and such: Alex/Jenna, Isaac/Mia, a bit of Isaac/Jenna and Alex/Mia. Mild language… Anything else I missed? It's a bit long (compared to the other lengths of my fics), and a bit sappy, though I hope you don't mind. There's a main focus of Alex/Jenna, though I fit Isaac/Mia where I can.

Oh, and another note: Alex is NOT evil! ^^;; And I don't hate him. I just depicting him kind of in character, although it's hard to do that when half the people think our Mercury Adept is evil and half don't. Sorry if he's a bit OOC to your point of view. I'm the type of Alex-obsessie that wouldn't mind if he was the focus of the entire game. If there's a GS3, he might beSo many things are unexplained about Alex, so excuse my pitiful theory.
*****

Alex stood, his face turned away from the Mars Adept that was staring at him. His clear blue eyes stared out of the window, gazing at the frostbitten fields. The frost had come early this year, hadn't it? Surely the winter would be a hard one, with the frost enveloping the fields. But that wasn't the point. It was never the point. The Mercury Adept simply needed anything to shift his mind off of what faced him now.

"I hate this." Alex muttered, his voice unnaturally calm for one who was so angry. His fist banged against the piece of glass that separated him from the frostbitten world. The Mercury Adept was aware that Jenna was watching him, consciously aware at that- his voice was raised just enough for the Mars Adept to hear him. His mouth was twisted with a sick smile, in irony, almost. "Damn it. Damn it all."

Jenna finally spoke, not bothering to be silent or to keep her voice low. She came up from the bed, standing up slowly in case any sudden movements would annoy him. "What? What do you hate so much? How could you hate something so much that you'd go out of your way to hate it even more? This isn't like you." Her voice was snappy, almost as irritable as Alex. Alex rolled his eyes, still turned away from her. Yes, he thought bitterly. This is me. Just the me that the world has never seen before.

"You know what I hate? The world." Alex said slowly, enunciating each word. "Everything in it. It's something you can never control. People will go at their own will, doing what they wish, because they think it's right. They don't even listen to their own standards. Say what they want, because oh no, they can't hurt you, but you can hurt every other damn person in this world." Alex turned, facing Jenna for the first time. His voice was almost in a mocking tone. The Mars Adept saw a fanatical gleam was in his eyes, the last rays of the sun glinting dangerously off them. Jenna slowly stepped back a little. It wasn't the first time that Alex had that crazy look. "Yes, that's it. I don't hate the world- it's fine, and would still be fine. I don't hate everything in it, either. I just hate people. If it were up to me…" Alex trailed off. Why couldn't he just stay off that subject?

Jenna looked a little disappointed. There was something about the Mercury Adept that kept so cool and collected that she doubted the fanaticism was really part of Alex. He was cold, probably acutely aware of that too, but it seemed to fit him in some way. Untouchable. Her eyes caught onto his, and they locked for a split second before Alex looked away in disdain. One second was enough though, to see the sadness in Jenna's eyes and the mixed emotions stirring within Alex. As Alex turned, Jenna grew even more disappointed. There was something about gazing into those blue depths that she never wanted to end. "Well…" Jenna finally said, disrupting an odd silence. Plucking up enough courage, she continued. "I guess that counts me out, too. I was hoping for a chance." And much more, she added mentally. "Very well. I'll leave you to brood on your own." The Mars Adept stomped out the door, not bothering to shut the door quietly. The echoes of the slam still rung in Alex's head afterward.

Alex gazed around the room for the first time. The place was good for an inn- at least there were decorations and a rug. A table sat in the middle of the room, with a rose perched in a vase on top of the wood table. Alex carelessly plucked up the rose, wincing slightly as the rose's thorns bit into him. Flowers never tended to like him much- why would they? He was the frost, the destroyer of plants. Alex sighed, wondering how much people- or nature, at least- really knew about his intentions. "Life used to be so simple." The Mercury Adept sat down on the bed, twirling the rose around his fingers. The blood red flower reminded him of something- a certain someone. Someone who had a temper, a bitter temper, but was probably just as good at hiding their emotions as he. Someone who was almost unreachable enshrouded with thorns. One that would be a challenge to keep.

Alex smiled, twirling the flower around his fingers again. A different type of glance was in his eyes, one that really did not seem like him. He always loved challenges.

****

"It's only a rose." Isaac said, climbing to his feet. He tossed aside his blankets, turning to look at Mia. The sun was setting in their period of rest. They had decided to camp near the river, namely because it was a good source of water and they could escape quickly it needed. They were becoming more like guerillas everyday. The blonde haired Venus Adept woke up to see Mia sitting by the riverside, her hand running in the water. A lone rose floated down the river, as Mia gently picked it up, looking at it. "Only a rose." Isaac stretched a little, and then walked up to the Mercury Adept.

Blue eyes met blue eyes. Mia smiled, twirling the rose the same way Alex was at the very minute. "Even a rose must have its thorns, Isaac." Mia smiled, almost mirthlessly. "Have you ever really known how it is to love?"

If Isaac was surprised at such a question, he showed no emotion. Instead, there was a touch of sadness and amusement mixed together as the Venus Adept answered. "Yes, you could say. But sooner or later, I felt that girl slip to a place that was almost out of reach for me. I loved her, though. She probably loved me, but everyone simply assumed we were in it deep or something… Just because she was my friend." Isaac's glance remained on her, though his eyes became distant. "Even though I knew I loved her, I don't think that it really mattered to me until I really realized what the past had done to her."

Mia's grim smile turned into a genuine smile. "So, do you think there's someone out there… for you?" Her eyes showed a hope that flared up inside her, giving a new passion into her life. Isaac's eyes were still distant, though they seemed to come back as he noticed Mia's hope.

Isaac didn't want to answer that yet. They were on a quest, a quest that usually meant no time for other items to do. But something inside him was itching to throw away his priorities. Isaac trembled slightly, sitting down next to Mia, drawing his knees up. "Love… What is it, really?"

"I was hoping you would tell me."

They paused, looking up at the setting sun. A comfortable silence was around them, a type that you'd never want to end. "I thought I knew once, Isaac." Mia said slowly. "I really did think I knew what love was. But if love was, in such a way that people just lead such an impression of… well… fake-love, then I think I'd be better off without it. I'm sick of living lies." The Mercury Adept's voice contained a bit of sorrow.

Isaac smiled kindly. "Whatever it was in your past, forget about it. It will do no good to eat yourself up from the inside."

"I wish it was that easy, Isaac." Mia sighed, in a way that would make any boy's heart melt and any girl be struck with jealousy. "I really do." Brushing her skirts off, she stood up. "It's been nice talking to you. It really has."

'I wish she wasn't so jittery.' Isaac thought, watching Mia walk away. The rose lay where she used to be sitting. He picked it up gently, staring at it, the thorns, petals, and all. It was the type of flower that said "I love you", the type that could express more than one could ever say in words. Isn't that what Isaac wanted?

"Only a rose." He muttered to himself. "Only a rose." He held the rose by the stem once more, plucking off a single blood red petal. Tossing it in to the gentle current of the river, he watched it go, drifting down the waterway. "Then why…" Isaac's voice trailed off, even though he knew he was all to himself.

"She loves me…" Isaac murmured as he watched the petal float out of sight. Plucking another off the rose, he laid it gently into the water. "She loves me not…"

Mia watched from a distant, smiling gently. She didn't hear what Isaac was saying to himself, though she could guess. She heard herself saying, in a quiet yet shaky voice, "She loves you."

*****

"It's a pretty little thing, isn't it?" Alex said softly, staring at the rose that he just placed into the vase a few minutes ago. "So wild, yet so beautiful." It constantly reminded him of a certain redheaded female. He picked it up again, slipping the long stem into one of his pockets.

Then, suddenly, his mood changed. "What am I doing?" He asked in disgust. Nobody had said anything about falling in love, or even getting attached to anyone in this group. "Everything seems so confusing now." Alex grumbled a few curses, dropping himself onto the inn bed. He felt the smooth cloth rub against his face, and felt worse. He slowly put his face into the pillow, trying to hold back a few rebellious tears.

There was once a time that Alex was really didn't care much. Saturos and Menardi had told him their intentions, and the fact that the world would be reset to its former glory enthralled him. There were no emotions at the time that wanted power, or to dominate. There weren't even many now, at the inn. Just pure excitement, and with that excitement a new part within him grew. The world had been falling apart- it always had been for the Mercury Adept. He had found refuge just within himself, hiding. Perhaps that was the only way to live without the changes in the world affecting you.

Then came the monsters. They had come to Imil before, usually leaving no mercy on the villagers. It was different, in the past three years. The monsters developed a smarter sense of attack, not just rampaging through, destroying everything. Even within his calm state, Alex hated the monsters. How could anyone hate something so much, if you didn't even know them? But he discovered that one could. All the death that hung around Imil, the stench of blood from attacks, along with the bitter winter sickness. There was fear in the air. The only thing that you could sense was the fear around the village. News came in from other places- boulders falling, monsters spreading, and all that was good disappearing. Fear still loomed. And yet, among all that, being an Adept and healer, there was nothing the Mercury Adept could do. The monsters seemed to live off fear and belief. All the doubt gave birth to them, and gave them energy.

The lighthouses could change that. They'd have to.

But as the first lighthouse was lit, something inside him stirred. This cause wasn't just for Imil, but it was for the entire world of Weyard. And as long as there would be ones who would oppose such a thing, such a dream of peace would be destroyed. Alex could remember staring at the opposing force, Isaac and company, with wonder. They were fighting to let the world destroy itself over time. Then, Alex forced himself to look at Mia. She had been brought up in the same ways in Imil, living the same life, but she had seemed oblivious to what happened in Imil. The monsters came, destroyed, but she was the optimist, saying that they could always rebuild. Always following the ways of what they were taught. But such a world, that one could just rebuild and rebuild, never looking back, was too ideal. Alex recalled what he had said to Mia, right before he left.

"This world of yours. This idealistic world. It was only a dream, Mia. Only a dream. Nothing more." He had said that, and then left. And yet, even with his feelings for Mia, and Mia's feelings for him, nothing changed.

Alex turned, lying down on his back. Mia and the others did one thing that he could never do. They could believe in something so much, that even if they were wrong, they'd die thinking that it was right.

But now, after everything, a plan was stirring in his heart. It hurt badly to use others as tools, to lead them on and then betray them. But such an idea seemed to be how the world worked. So, Alex would wait. Watch others go places, tag along but stay behind a little. Perhaps then, at least one thing would be accomplished. The world would be in peace, at least for a little while. The reek of death wouldn't be upon every town. Fear would be lifted.

But how could such a plan work, with such attachments? Alex sighed, tossing in the bed. Darkness fell by then, and only then Alex was aware how late it was. Groaning, Alex forced himself up for a little stroll through the inn, seeing if he could find anything useful.

Opening the door quickly so it wouldn't make too much noise, he took a step out of the room. And then, by chance of luck or bad luck, he ran into Jenna.

Jenna arched her eyebrows. She still seemed a bit upset about what Alex had said before, but her voice proved to be calm. "I was hoping to see you." She said coolly.

"Me too, you could say." Alex responded, almost automatically. "Look, Jenna, about what I said before. You've got to understand me. I dislike people for what they've done. I know that's pretty harsh to be prejudiced against an entire race that includes myself, but that's what I feel."

"You're so puzzling, Alex." Jenna snapped it in his face. Her expression then softened. "I know how you feel, in a way."

"Then do you know what I really feel about you?" Alex murmured. "I think of you- everything that I think of it's namely about you. When I first met you, you weren't much to me at all. You probably still wouldn't be, but things change." Alex stopped, shuddering. "Change. I hate the word change."

Jenna chose not to respond to the Mercury Adept's last remark. "I don't know how you feel about me, Alex. But I know what I feel about you." Jenna smiled. "Do you want to know?" Alex didn't say anything, but simply stared into Jenna's eyes. Jenna drew him closer, kissing him gently on the lips. Alex's eyes grew wide. Inside he felt a guilty pleasure, pleasure because Jenna loved him, but guilty because his plan involved betraying such a love.

Jenna turned red, backing away. The silence made her uncomfortable, leading her to think that it was the wrong thing to do. "I'm sorry… I don't know what came over me."

"Even a rose must have its thorns, Jenna." Alex responded steadily. "And I guess I'm one of the thorns you can't ignore. Jenna." His voice grew serious, rather quickly. "Whatever happens… I love you. I just don't know if you'll love me, in the end." He pulled out the rose he had pocketed a bit of a time before. "Remember this moment, Jenna." 'It may be one of our last.' Alex mentally added. "Remember this rose. And if you can't remember any of those, remember this." He drew the girl closer, kissing her.

"Just try to remember, Jenna." Alex said as he broke away. "Just try."

*****

"Isaac…" Mia's voice was trembling. "I'm afraid." Isaac stared at her. Truly, they had every reason to be afraid. This was the last step of the journey. They had once would have come all this way to stop the lighting of the last beacon, but things had changed so drastically in the past few weeks. "And I don't even know what to be afraid for… I mean, it's not like my parents are there, or that anyone really is waiting for me." Mia remembered a certain other Mercury Adept and shivered. "Well, nobody that I want to see."

"We'll be fine, Mia. We really will."

"I guess that's okay if somebody else says it, but not you. I don't think it's really proper. You're the leader, after all, but optimism doesn't seem like you."

"Believe what you want to believe, Mia. I know you'll always to heal my wounds and salvage my pride after we're done." Isaac had a slightly joking tone.

"Isaac?" Mia asked, her voice still scared. "I want to ask you one more question before we go up… Because I'm not sure if we'll make it though." Isaac didn't say anything, so she continued. "Remember that place, where you kept on saying, 'Only a rose…'? I don't know about you, but I think there's more to it than that."

"I do too, Mia. Afterwards, I was thinking about that. In truth, I'm afraid too. But the rose… It stands for love, caring, but yet within its beauty it's quite shallow- or deep, for that matter. Whichever way you'd think. The thorns that surround it could be for protection, or vanity. The thorns and the rose combined could mean a kind of sheltered love."
Mia couldn't help staring. This was unlike the silent, often brooding leader that Isaac often was. "Isaac." She said uncertainly. "In that place, after you thought I left, you were playing with that rose, weren't you? So, what did it turn out to be?"

Isaac turned red, looking away. He didn't make a comment.

"Whatever it said…" Mia put her arm around his shoulders. "Whatever it said, I love you."

"I do too." Isaac said, some relief in his voice. "And I know this isn't much consolation for a time like this, but… If I die, you'll know what I die for. Just remember, okay? I'll wait for you, up among the stars."

"You're not going to die, Isaac." Mia said tightly, hugging Isaac. Isaac hugged her back, in such an embrace that emitted so much love that the others paused to see it. "I won't let you."

Isaac smiled. He whispered slowly into Mia's ear, "She loves me."

*******

Jenna stared blankly at the wall. It was a plain wall, just like every other wall there could possibly be. But her attention was held upon that wall. It was the only thing she could do to keep her mind off what had just happened.

She had expected the reunion to be different. After three years, it had to be a happy ending. But it wasn't. A lone, hot tear drifted down her left cheek, but for once in her life, she didn't wipe it away. She didn't care if anyone saw her crying.

The Mars Adept remembered putting down her staff, resting after the long battle. They did it. But then, with all hope turned against them, they finally realized who the enemies were. Everything came in a whoosh then. She became terribly aware of the frigid temperatures around her, the stares that everybody gave her… She became acutely aware of everything. Acutely aware of the things that didn't matter.

Jenna looked oddly at the wall, still. After weeks of recovery, she still couldn't have gotten over it. One of the only reasons she joined the quest was to be reunited with her parents. And then, by her own hands and mind, a mind that was bent on destroying the enemy, she nearly killed her parents. It wasn't right.

"I just wish things would have been different." She murmured to herself. She remembered, just going onto the aerie, the shock she received from learning that Alex had betrayed them all. But was it really betrayal? Or was he, for once, sticking up for what he believed in?

Isaac had told her about what happened with Mia and him. They had fallen in love, though one didn't know how long that would last. Then, Isaac had said something about roses… Jenna wept shamelessly, burying her face in her hands. "Alex…" Everything seemed to trigger a memory of him. From the water around the psyenergy stone, to just a lock of blue hair, to a voice, Jenna just was reminded of the Mercury Adept.

In her frustration, she took the pack that lay right next to her, the pack that stayed with her in all her travels, and spilled on it's contents on the floor rather carelessly. She started throwing things, getting herself into a tantrum, until one single thing caught her eye. They were crushed rose petals, from the time a time ago.

"Remember this moment… Remember this rose… And if you can't remember any of those, remember this…" Jenna touched her lips, for a second recalling the touch she felt at that moment.

"Whatever happens… I love you. I just don't know if you'll love me." Jenna sighed. Now she knew why Alex had said that.

Toying with the petals for a moment, she crushed them in her hand.

"It's only a rose."

******

Long, crappy, boring… I can go on forever if you let me. I do apologize if I have offended anyone in any way (how could I have?), and now, I must admit, I'm happy that it's over. And I think, despite what I said in the beginning, I do think there's gonna be one more one-shot. Who cares? Okay… Please review! And, for some random opinion, how old do you think Alex is? ^^ Okay! Sayonara! I'm sorry if this dragged on a lot..