Without The Mask
Where will you hide?
Can't find yourself…

Lost in your lies…

By: Evanescence

Take Me Away

Chapter 8- "One More Lie"

Dedicated to: Angel White; thanks for helping me with this chapter! Also, you know which scene is for you –hugglepounces-
Morning had yet to come. The sky was still the same shade of blackish blue that you would see right before the sun poked its head above the soil in the East. But, morning would come, and when it did… a lot of decisions would need to be made.

Regal sighed from where he stood, chopping vegetables for breakfast omelets. Nobody had really gotten to sleep, and even the ever-hungry, ever-bored Lloyd hadn't closed his eyes all night.

Presea kept her gaze on the sky, as if perhaps she was willing the sun to rise quickly.

The others were hovered around the red-headed Chosen, whose eyesight had not improved even a little… no matter what they had tried.

A good meal would do everyone good… It certainly would do them no harm, at any rate. After a relatively sleepless night, they would all need whatever nutrition they could get.

He put the neatly diced green peppers aside, and set out several tomatoes to chop. The tension in the small camp was horrible. Suffocating, even. He knew that they all needed to talk about what had happened the night before, but also, he knew that it was a delicate thing to bring up…

It was fairly obvious that nobody wanted to really…discuss it. Most of all the Professor, who had yet to come back from wherever she had gone to.

'Where could she possibly have gone…?' he wondered to himself, feeling a small hint of satisfaction when his knife sunk deep into the tomato, cutting it cleanly in half. From what he already knew, Raine was a woman who liked to keep things to herself. Feelings, problems, and everything that fell in between those two categories. She just seemed to be the kind of person who wanted to be left alone.

Not that he would blame her for wanting to be left in solitude, either. He liked to have time to himself, too. And, he didn't particularly care to discuss his personal problems with the group of strangers he was traveling with. He still found it hard to believe that he had blurted out every other thing he knew about Alicia to them.

And, seeing as how the Professor and Genis were the only half-elves in the group… they probably felt a little lonely… But, from what he had heard…they had never really known any other of their kind. They had lived nothing but a lie in Iselia… and that fact must have been a heavy burden for them…

But really…what person in the group wasn't living a lie of some sort? They were all hiding something… all desperate to make sure that nobody else found out. Though, it was fairly obvious that some tried harder than others.

He could still remember how Lloyd had endlessly pestered Professor Raine about her supposed fear of water. He had practically cornered the poor woman, and with everyone standing there… pretending that they weren't listening… She had felt she had no choice but to tell.

Though, it seemed just a little too obvious to him…that she hadn't told them everything. But the way that Lloyd had asked… he acted as if he really cared. And everyone who was listening… too.

'Do they even care? Do they really want to know about everybody's life, or do they just go along with it all to act like we all get along in harmony?'

It was a thought he almost wished he hadn't thought of. Here they were, a group of eight (sometimes nine) people, wandering two different worlds… with only one common goal. Mithos Yggdrasil. So, why did they even bother to talk at all, when they really only seemed to have one thing in common?

The Duke didn't like to think of himself as a pessimist, but lately, his thoughts had really been driven to the negative side. He did know why they talked, though. At least, he knew why most of them talked. To ease the pressure.

Such young people… and all of the younger ones… So innocent, so… overpowered by the will to save the world that they wanted to grow up in.

The worst weight to bear… They needed to talk about silly, trivial things…just to keep going. To continue plodding ahead, putting one foot in front of the other…

He felt a small pang of guilt hit him, then. They were all so… trusting of the fact that they would win the fight to save everyone…everything… But, whatever would they do…should one of them fall in battle?

Here was Zelos… only blinded, and they all seemed so distressed by it… He glared down at the tomato in front of him. He would just have to fight stronger, then. He would do his best to keep them all together… even if they were only together as eight separate people.

He felt satisfied with his decision. He would have to try to keep the group together, to keep them from falling apart. They all appeared to get along well-enough (with the obvious fact that Genis didn't seem to care for his company, and how Raine seemed to distance herself from everyone)… he just had to make sure that they didn't split apart and crumble into a million pieces…

Which would start with some firewood for the breakfast that they would hopefully share together… And then, of course finding Professor Raine. He needed to warn her of running off like that. Goodness knows what could be lurking in the shadows out there… He knew she wasn't…helpless, but really… she needed to look after her own well-being a little more.

Which would have to start with eating. Skipping meals would do her no good. It almost made his own stomach ache thinking about how often she would take one bite, and then push her plate away.

Regal stood up slowly, wiping his hands on the simple white apron around his waist. The firewood would have to come first, however. Without heat, they would be eating raw eggs, vegetables, and cheese.

'I don't think that that would make anyone feel any better…' he thought, moving toward the center of the camp.

"Whatcha up to, Regal?" Lloyd asked, rolling over on the ground. "It's not even morning, yet."

"Firewood," he answered simply, nodding toward his makeshift cooking space. "It's not as if anyone has slept at all…though."

"True." Lloyd frowned, sitting up to rub as his eyes. "I was tired, but every time I closed my eyes…" he shook his head slowly. "I kept picturing what happened when we were in the house… Only, it wasn't just one person alone in there… I couldn't see anyone, and everyone was screaming…moaning…" He sighed heavily. "I'd rather not sleep, anyway."

The Duke nodded in agreement. "Food will do you good," he told the normally energetic brown-haired youth.

"Has Professor Raine showed up, yet?" Sheena cut in from between Zelos and Colette. "I haven't seen her at all…"

"No, she hasn't…" Colette sighed lightly, craning her neck to look around the clearing again, just to make sure. "She just seemed to run off… I mean, I've never really seen her do anything like that before…"

"She can't have gotten off too far…" Lloyd reasoned. "She sucks at running."

"Lloyd!" Sheena sighed, rolling her eyes. "It's been nearly six hours. She could be halfway out of the forest by now."

"Yeah…well… I was just saying." He rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "Maybe I should go look for her, then. I still don't think she could have run too far."

"That is a good idea," Regal told him. "Take someone else with you, though. We don't need you to be killed out there by yourself."

"I would go," Zelos said slowly, finally speaking up. "But I can't even see where I'm at now."

Colette scooted over to the other Chosen and put a hand on his shoulder. "It's okay, Zelos. I'll bet you're still a million times more useful in a battle than I am…"

Sheena looked at the two Chosen's, and then at Lloyd. "I'll go with you," she volunteered. "If anyone could find her, it would definitely be us… But…I'll lead. I don't want you to get us lost!"

Lloyd sent a mock glare her way. "I didn't get us lost!" he insisted, pushing himself to his feet. "I just…didn't know where we were at!"

"Riiight," Sheena grinned, resisting the urge to tell Lloyd that he had just contradicted himself. "I'm still leading."

The two walked out of the clearing, in the same place that they had seen Raine exit earlier in the day.

"Where are they going?" Genis asked Colette. While the group had been talking, he had been snagging a green pepper from Regal's ingredients.

"To find your sister," Regal answered for the blonde. "She hasn't returned, yet."

"Why didn't they ask me to go with them?" the young mage half-growled, fisting his hands. "I'm her own brother, after all!"

"Do you need firewood?" Presea asked the blue-haired man, slowly, interrupting Genis' tirade.

Regal nodded. "For a fire to cook breakfast with."

"I will get it for you," she said, turning around to heft her axe over her shoulder. "It will not take long."

"O…oh! Presea!" Genis nearly shouted, his face reddening. "I'll go with you! Uhm… I could help you carry some wood back!"

The pink-haired girl blinked, but nodded her head slowly. "If you wish…" she answered, moving toward the edge of the small clearing.

That left only Regal, Zelos, and Colette in the clearing. Regal decided to get back to cooking preparations, seeing as how the cheese hadn't been sliced, yet. Two people were searching for Raine, and two were getting firewood.

Everything seemed to be working fine in the group. Now all they had to figure out is where Raine had run off to, and why she had left…or, better yet…why she had picked that particular time-frame to leave in.

The more Regal thought about it, the more suspicious it seemed. He didn't want to accuse the Professor of anything…but it seemed rather strange that she would run off the minute that Zelos announced in a shocked tone…that he was unable to see.

She couldn't have possibly have been so upset by this news that she had run into the woods. She never could stand Zelos… at least, when the man's mouth was open. If she had been hurt, she would have stayed to be helped…right?

The only real reason he could come up with…that would have made her run into the forest at Zelos' announcement… was a reason that he didn't want to believe… Couldn't believe- especially with Genis still present.

The Professor hadn't…started the fire, had she?

The dark trees seemed to hide in the shadows as Lloyd and Sheena fumbled their way through the maze of vegetation. Roots seemed to stick out in the strangest places, and leaves crunched underfoot with every step.

"Ya know…if she really wanted to hide herself, she would have no trouble staying hidden…" Lloyd muttered, stepping on another twig, breaking it cleanly if half.

"What do you mean?" Sheena asked him, puzzled. "Wouldn't we hear her run off again, or something?"

"Maybe. But, I mean, we're so loud and everything, she'd probably hear us coming from a mile away." He pushed away a few strands of hair that had fallen in his eyes. "I feel so …dirty."

"We smell like smoke, still," Sheena shrugged… "I would just be grateful I'm alive… I would much rather smell like smoke…"

"Than be dead?" Lloyd finished. "Me too."

They walked in silence for a few minutes, the only sounds in the hushed morning being their footfalls, and soft breathing.

"Why do you suppose Professor Raine ran off…?" Sheena spoke up after awhile, her voice quiet. "I mean…she couldn't have been upset by …Zelos being blind…that much…could she?"

"I dunno… I mean, she never did seem to like Zelos… Maybe she felt bad for smacking him all the time?" Lloyd shook his head. "I never can tell anything about her. She never tells anyone anything."

"I don't blame her, really. She doesn't really know any of us. And…she's a half-elf too…"

"What's that got to do with anything?" Lloyd asked defensively, sounding almost angry.

"I don't mean that in a bad way," Sheena said, quickly amending her words. "I mean that in a totally different way. She practically lived a lie her whole life…you know? She said she was an elf, and she wasn't…and everyone believed her…"

"And now Iselia is still mad at her…yeah…I see what you mean, now." Lloyd shook his head in confusion. "I don't understand why race is so…all-important anymore."

"It's almost as if nobody cares who you are, as much as they care what you are." Sheena stopped between two trees and looked at Lloyd. "Look at us…we're human."


"And Regal, he's human too. But because he killed Alicia…to save her from what she was forced to become… he's a convict…a killer."

Lloyd frowned. "And Colette and Zelos are…Chosen… That's all they are, that's all anyone wants them to be… Sacrifices for them…"

"Exactly." The ninja girl folded her arms over her chest. "Raine and Genis are half-elves…shunned no matter which world they are in… and Presea is a human, stuck in a young body… but she was considered a…freak, because she didn't know that her father was dead…"

"Kratos is an angel." Lloyd looked up through the treetops. "But what does that make us, then?" he wondered, half to himself. "Are we anything different…anything…that's not normal?"

"Is being normal a good thing…?" Sheena asked him…though, it seemed like more of a statement. "If being normal means…that you cannot accept a person because of what they look like, or what they've done… then… I hope I'm not normal."

The swordsman sighed. "I'm not sure…" he replied, one hand fiddling absent-mindedly with the hilt of the sword on his right side. "I guess I could be considered a meddler, since I seem to always get into things that are really none of my business. Especially with…Marble…"

"But, think about it this way…" she told him. "If you hadn't gone through that, you would never have cared about Chocolat at all. Also, you might have never made it this far… You might not have felt the need to follow Kratos, Raine, and Colette on their journey…"

"I guess you're right." He smiled at her. "I never really tried to look at that in a different light. But, what does that make you, then?"

"A failure, I guess." She shrugged her shoulders, her dark hair catching the small bit of orangey light that filtered in through the treetops. "I failed my entire village, and killed so many people…"

Lloyd put a hand on the woman's shoulder. "Sheena, the only people who consider you a failure, are the ones who are refusing to let a mistake be a mistake… Just like with Regal… if he hadn't killed Alicia, then she might have ended up killing other people… And, either way… he would have been blamed for the aftereffects."

"Thanks, Lloyd…" She looked up at him, a wobbly smile in place. "I guess you're right…"

"Eh," he shrugged. "It'll be the first time I was right in a long, long time."

She chuckled for a moment, and then quickly sobered. "What do you think we should do about Zelos…?"

Lloyd started walking again, and Sheena had to run to catch up. "I don't know, Sheena. I really don't know. Everyone seems to deem me some kind of 'Leader' or something… but I'm really anything but that. I hate making decisions that are going to change a life… Whether it's my life, or yours, or someone else's entirely."

"I think I know what you mean… but…I guess I just feel sorry for him… Or bad…you know? Cause I couldn't help myself…"

"Everyone can't always help themselves…" Lloyd said slowly. "If we could, then there would be no need for friends, or marriage… or love. We would all wander alone."

Sheena stopped. "I blinded him, Lloyd…" she said almost angrily. "I couldn't find that damned window, and because of that, he had to come after me. And now…now he can't even… see anything."

The swordsman stopped too, and turned to face her. "He had to have wanted to save you, Sheena…or he would never have gone in there after you…"

She ignored his statement, and looked up at the flaming sunrise through the treetops. "Do you suppose he feels alone, now?" she asked him, her voice small and strained. She could feel tears threatening to spill, but refused to let them out. "I'm so angry at myself…for letting this happen…"

"It's not your fault, Sheena," Lloyd insisted again, putting his arms around her in a tight hug. "It's not your fault."

"But it is… It is… If I hadn't…"

"There's no use in thinking of what would have happened if something else had happened… Sheena, you would have died in there… And we would all have blamed ourselves for what happened… Zelos most of all…"

She sniffed, returning the hug.

"Zelos might be blind… Sheena, but he's not dead. He's still alive… He has feelings, and emotions… and he might be scared and lonely… But, the best way to help him, is to be with him."

"Help him to see what he can't?" she asked slowly, pulling away from the young man.

"Yeah, stuff like that." He grinned sheepishly. "We'd better keep looking for the Professor… I hope she's okay…"

"I'm sure she's fine," Sheena tried to reassure him, and herself. "If she was attacked, she would probably lecture the enemies to death on the biological genes of animals…or something."

Lloyd chuckled to himself. "I wouldn't doubt it," he answered.

The sun had now made an appearance in the clearing, shining dully down on the two Chosen sitting side-by-side.

"How are you feeling, Zelos?" Colette asked timidly, brushing her bangs out of her eyes. "I mean, do you feel okay?"

"I guess… It's not as if being blind hurts. I mean, the burns hurt, don't get me wrong. It's just that being blind sucks, that's all." He sighed and rested his head on his right hand, his shoulders hunching forward. "I hate it, but it can't be reversed, so I guess I should just get used to it."

"Uh…well…you're not dead at least…so that's good…" She smiled at him a little, even though she knew he couldn't see it.

"Yeah, well…I guess. But, now instead of helping you guys, I'm hindering you all. I hate being useless." He was almost horrified at the thought that he would no longer be able to participate in battle. His friends needed his help to defeat Yggdrasil, and he would be of no assistance now.

"You're not useless, silly." She put a hand on his shoulder and cocked her head to the side. "Now, Koton would be useless."

The corners of his mouth turned up a little. "Yeah, I guess you're right. He would be flailing on the battlefield, screaming about how he could beat the enemy if only he had his antique swords… even though he never held one."

"Yeah!" Colette gave his shoulder a light squeeze. "See? Try to think positive sometimes."

"It's not exactly easy, you know. I can't see a danged thing. It's like…every time I look around, there's nothing to see but dark nothingness."

"I guess I kind of felt that way when I started loosing my senses…" She noticed one of Zelos' eyebrows go up in question of her comment. "I mean, because us Chosen are supposed to be…sacrifices for our respective worlds… we don't need to be able to feel, or taste, or talk…" She traced a circle in the dirt in front of her with her free hand. "I guess not being able to talk was the worst… Cause I couldn't hide the fact that I couldn't feel or taste anything…if I couldn't lie about it…"

"You lied…?"

"Yeah, I'm not proud of it or anything…But I didn't want Lloyd or the others to find out… so I tried to hide it all. But it was hard to hide, because when I got hurt, I didn't even know it…"

"Did they all find out after you couldn't talk…?"

"Lloyd found out before all that…" She smiled in embarrassment at the memory. "He brought me coffee… and he said, 'Isn't it hot?'… I couldn't tell, so I said that it was… and then he said 'I lied. It's cold.' I was so confused…" she giggled. "I didn't know what to say. I couldn't tell whether it was hot or cold or anything." She looked down. "That's when I had to tell Lloyd… but he didn't tell anyone. I made him promise…Eventually, though, everyone had to be told…I mean, after I couldn't talk…"

"That must have been hard…huh?" the red-haired Chosen asked her softly. "Not even being able to communicate…" He almost added on something about how hunnies needed to be able to communicate through speech, but he really didn't have the heart.

"Oh…it's not much different than being unable to see. But Lloyd helped me… I would trace words onto his hand with my finger…and he always knew what I wanted to say." She leaned over and gave the other Chosen a squeeze. "Maybe you just need somebody to tell you what you can't see."


"But hugs always help you feel better. That's what Lloyd and I always said, anyway…" she hugged him tighter. "Did that make you feel better?"

Zelos smiled slightly. "Yeah, I guess it did…" He fumbled for her hand, and when he found it, he gave it a light squeeze. "Thanks, Colette." He'd always bragged about how cute the blond was, but he'd never really gotten to know her. Gotten to see or hear about everything that had happened before he joined the group.

"Us Chosen's have to stick together, right?" she smiled lopsidedly. "Don't worry, Zelos. We'll all help you out the best we can."

"Okay…" he looked upward with unseeing eyes. "What does the sky look like, right now?"

"Well…" she started, her hand still in his. "The sun just rose about twenty minutes ago…and the east is lit up with a flaming orangey-pink glow; complete with pretty clouds… And right above you…the orange and pink meet the blue…and some of the clouds are sprayed with orange, pink, and purple…"

Genis had his arms full of firewood, as he stumbled back to camp with Presea at his side. Presea could probably make a firewood-cutting business all by herself. The stack of wood he was carrying was as tall as he was.

He snuck a little peak over at the pink-haired girl, his face flaming red almost instantly. She was just so…cute. He didn't think that he'd ever seen anyone as pretty as her, before. Her hair was a little mused up from the light breeze, but he only thought it made her look even more nice.

He sighed.

"Is something the matter?" she asked him, turning her head to the side, slightly.

"Uhmm….n-nothing!" he stuttered, lowering his head a little. "I just…uhm… was…wondering about my sister!"

"Oh. Do you know why she ran off?"

"N…no… but… I mean… I never… She never has done anything like that before… at least…not that I remember…" he shifted the wood in his hands to get a better grip.

"Did…the fire…scare her?" Presea asked slowly, a few loose strands of hair falling in her face.

"I…don't think so… but… then again, maybe it did…"

"Is that a good reason to…run off?" she questioned, the axe on her back sliding a little.

"Well… being afraid? I guess…it would depend…" he answered, curious as to why she was asking him so many questions.

"On what?"

"What you were afraid of. If you were afraid of …uh…bugs, then that's not really a reason to run… but if you're afraid for your safety, I guess it would be…"

"Was Professor Raine afraid for her…safety?"

"She got out of the building safely… so… I don't think that would be why she ran…"

"Oh…" she continued to walk, her eyes focused on the sky as if she were thinking. "Did the…fire…scare you?" she asked after a few moments of silence.

"Y…yeah…a l…little," he admitted. "I've never been in a burning building before…"

"I see…" she said shortly, looking at the ground.

'Great…now she thinks I'm some kind of…weakling…' he thought angrily to himself. "But…I wasn't…uhm…that scared…just a little bit."

"Is…being scared…similar to…not liking it?" she asked him, half-ignoring his comment.

"A…little," he answered, confused. "Why?"

"I…did not like…the fire," she answered slowly. "Does that mean that…I was scared?"

'Uhmm…how do I answer this…. Uhm….Oh! I'll just pretend like…uh…I'm writing an essay on it…or…something.' He thought.

"If it made your heart pound…and… thinking about it makes you want to think about something else… And…you don't ever want to go back…then…you might have been scared."

"I…was scared, then," she answered, a matter-of-factly. "It makes my heart… upset to think about it."



"I…uhm…will protect you, Presea. I won't let you get scared again… I'll make sure of it!" he blushed brightly, embarrassed but pleased with himself for saying what he thought.

"…I…Thank you, Genis…" she answered, looking down at the ground, her cheeks tinted faintly pink.

"N…no problem… But uh…we should probably get this wood back so that Regal can start…breakfast…"

"Yes… we should…" she answered, quickening her pace.

Genis grinned crookedly… 'She's…so cute…" he sighed, running forward a little to catch up.

Regal had long-since finished cutting up vegetables and cheese for the omelets, and had resorted to looking through the ashes of the cabin. He'd found the remains of metal hinges…table legs… and, currently, he had found something very…interesting.

The light and dark grey ashes seemed to pulse… almost as if something underneath them was moving…twisting… He almost wanted to walk away and leave it there…but human curiosity got the best of him, and he reached for a thick twig to scrape away the ashes.

A dark shape was indeed underneath the collapsed building… and the more ashes he uncovered, the more disturbing the image became to the Duke. After about half of the …thing was unburied, he watched in near fascination as it twisted and bent itself… wiggling like a disgusting worm.

Sticking the small branch underneath the shape, he pried it out from under the ashes, and it flipped into the air before landing on the ground again…still twisting…though at a slower pace. Almost in a rhythmic pattern.

His eyes grew slightly wider as he realized what it was that he was looking at… The Heart of Chaos had survived the fire…

The first thing that Raine felt… was anguish. Her eyes felt as if they were glued to her face… opening them seemed…so hard to do… difficult… and it hurt to even move…But the pain came to her all at once. Bruises and small lacerations…and the sensation of a warm liquid trailing lightly down the inside of her thighs.

The memories of the night came back to her, then… rushing to her mind in one swift blow. And she almost wished she were dead…so that she would not have to open her eyes to see what she looked like…now…

But her lashes started to flutter, and soon, she was staring dully at one of her arms, and own bare chest. Her head was bent inward, resting on one of her arms; her other arm lying limply over her waist.

Biting her lip, she pulled herself to a sitting position. Shobu was nowhere in sight. She breathed a slow sigh of relief for that…

'Maybe I can get…cleaned up…and… out of here…' she thought to herself, checking over her body for anything serious. There were bruises on her neck, chest, arms, stomach, and legs… a few smaller lacerations that she had gotten for trying to fight back… and, of course, the…blood.

Just the sight of it made her head spin quickly, and only her empty stomach kept her from vomiting. Her stomach was cramped up enough as it was, and for her to see the obvious evidence of being taken by him…yet again, did nothing to make it better.

She stumbled over to where her clothes had been thrown the night before…cringing at their condition… But…at least her clothes had no blood on them.

She picked them up slowly, and started walking in a random direction…hoping that she would be able to find a small spring…or pool…to clean herself in.

It took nearly twenty minutes for her to find a small pond of clear water… She took the sleeve of her coat and tore off a part of one of the sleeves that was only barely hanging on. It would work as a washcloth, of sorts…

The bruises were raw and tender, and it hurt to scrub at them, but she felt so…dirty. Even when she had washed herself ten times over… she could feel his hands making their way across her pale skin. The only satisfaction she found, was that at least…she had stopped bleeding. The torn tissues were still sore and hurt like there was no tomorrow…but…there was no blood.

'How can I go back…like this…' she sighed, flicking the water around her with her thumb and index finger. 'Maybe it would be better…if they thought me to be dead…'

A twig in front of her snapped, and her gaze flew up in alarm as she made a feeble attempt to hide her nudity.

"I already know what you look like naked, you shouldn't bother to hide it from me." His voice was low, but…he didn't sound angry. "I can see you whenever I please. Get out of there and get some clothes on."

"Y…yes…" she stuttered softly, her voice barely a whisper.

"Make it fast, I don't have all day. I would have come back for you much sooner, wench, but you splattered blood all over me, and I had to clean myself up." He scowled down at her.

She didn't answer him, and, instead, picked up her bra and tried to fasten it on, even though a couple of the clips were missing, and one of the straps was broken.

"What do you say, Raine?" he asked, tapping a foot impatiently.

She looked up at him, her blue eyes full of exactly what he wanted to see. Submission. "I…I'm …sorry," she whispered, pulling on her white shirt.

"Good." He leaned over her and put a hand on the side of her face. She flinched at his touch, but he smiled. "Thank you for last night, Rainey," he said softly, giving her a kiss on the cheek.

She was silent, her eyes downcast, as she pulled on her underclothing, and then her pants. She picked up her coat and slipped it on, and stood slowly.

"Now, we're going to be taking a nice little walk back to your group," he told her slowly, smiling with satisfaction when her eyes opened wider in shock. "I'm sure they've been out looking for you, and …they must be worried."

"You don't care," she said roughly, her hands jammed into the pockets of her coat, eyes looking at the ground.

"Oh, but I do, I do…" he said slowly. "Come on, now, Raine… If we don't get started now, they might move on before we get there…"

"Did you find her?" Colette asked Lloyd worriedly, when they returned from their search.

Sheena shook her head. "Not even a trace of her… she must have been walking all night…" She twisted her hand in her shirt nervously. "I hope she's okay…"

Genis and Presea were setting the wood in a stack underneath a metal rack, and trying to light it with Genis' Fireball attack.

"No luck?" Regal asked, wiping his hands on his apron.

Lloyd shook his head. "No… None at all…" He noticed something on the ground behind Regal, and tried to get a look. "What's that?" he asked.

"The Heart of Chaos. I found it in the ashes." The blue-haired President shrugged. "I suppose that the Devil's Arms are indestructible…"

"That's creepy," Zelos interjected. "It survived a fire and it's perfectly fine? That's just plain weird, if you ask me."

"Yeah," Sheena agreed. "I'm sure Raine will come back soon, though. She can't leave her best weapon behind…"

Genis nodded from beside the fire. "Yeah, that's true. The fire's ready, by the way."

The group sat in a circle around the little fire, a plate in each of their hands, waiting to be served.

"Alright, Lloyd, what would you like in yours?" Regal asked, using his spatula to transfer Sheena's omelet from the pan to her plate.

"Everything but tomatoes," Lloyd said, making a face. "They're evil or something."

Sheena gave Lloyd a sideways glance. "What?"

"Oh, nothing, nothing… I just don't like tomatoes…" he grinned sheepishly.

Their light bantering was interrupted by the sound of a twig snapping. They turned around to see Raine and another man standing at the edge of the clearing.

"Sis!" Genis shouted, his mouth half-full of food.

"Who are you?!" Lloyd asked stubbornly, looking right at the man standing beside his teacher. "You didn't hurt her, did you?"

The man chucked lightly. "Of course not," he said, waving one of his hands dismissively. "Right Raine?" he asked, tugging on her hand to bring her closer.

She nodded slowly.

"Why did you run off like that, Sis?" her brother asked. "We were worried about you!"

"I was confused…" she started. "And…angry, at how something so simple could do so much damage…" So it was a lie. Big deal, another lie on the stack wouldn't hurt… would it? She couldn't tell the truth…she would only hurt them all…

"She came to me," the man said softly, putting an arm around Raine's shoulder, which clearly annoyed Genis. "We've known each other for a long time…she just needed some comfort…"

Regal noted that the Professor looked slightly uncomfortable at this, but shrugged it off as embarrassment. "Why would she go to you, for comfort?" he challenged, his curiosity getting the better of him. He didn't mean for his voice to sound so confrontational, but the situation was so strange that he really couldn't help himself.

'It just doesn't seem…correct, that she would suddenly show up with a stranger… and she doesn't look…all that comfortable with the man…'

"I am Shobu Itaki…" He did a half bow, smiling all the while.

"You didn't answer his question," Genis glared. "What are you doing with my sister?"

Lloyd and Sheena nodded in agreement with Genis.

"Pardon me," he apologized, pulling Raine close. "Rainey and I… are…" he looked down at her, his eyes softening. "Lovers…"

Oh…yes… Very interesting, hmm? Now that you've read it, please feel free to review. I definitely can't refuse reviews. I thank you all for 100 reviews!

If you liked this so far, check out Angel White's "ConflictionsoftheMind", I guarantee that you'll like it (probably twice as much as this one!)


--Kitten Kisses

EDIT::: 4/24/07

I am so, so sorry for not updating this. I've started to replay the game, and have been spending the boring moments at work (it's such a soap opera there) trying to think of ways to make this plot bigger and better. Please don't lose hope. This story is not on my 'will never be continued' list.