Hello:) This is just a one-shot I wrote to hold writer's block at bay whilst I garner inspiration for Kharlan and Poker Face. I might expand this later- I have a vague, longer Kratos/Anna fic floating around in my head, but I'll likely not write that at LEAST until Poker Face is done, probably not until Kharlan is, too. I'm not too happy with this one, though- but I hope you'll be. Enjoy.


Stupid.

The redheaded angel hurled the insult at himself for what seemed like the millionth time. He knew that he had a bad habit of undeserved self-flagellation, but gods how he deserved it now. After...

"No!" Anna shrieked, her gaze shifting rapidly between Kvar and Kratos and backing away from both of them.

"Yes, Anna, that man led me right to you." The Desian laughed cruelly as Kratos tried to form a response; words failed him. "Tell her, Kratos. Tell her that it's your fault she's in this position now."

"It... it's not like that!" Kratos finally managed. Deciding that honesty would be the best course of action, he spread his hands out in a surrendering gesture. "Anna, please! He's making it sound like... like I..."

"Tell the truth, Kratos! It is your fault!" Kvar yelled, his voice edged with hard amusement.

Anna took another step back. "Kratos... please, tell me he's lying."

Kratos dropped his hands and and his heart sank. There was no way around it. "He's probably not." A painful sensation tightened around his chest when Anna's hopeful expression shattered. "But it's not what he says! If I did, it wasn't intentional!"

Anna's expression turned to one of rage as she took another step back and snapped her dagger from the sheath at her hip. "Why should I believe you over him?" she demanded coldly.

Kratos's mouth worked far faster than his head. "Because I LOVE you! I would never-" His hands went to his mouth in horror as he realized what he had just said. Anna's eyes went wide, the dagger nearly fell from her hands.

Kratos rolled over in the bed, burying his face in the pillow. Stupid! But the events of that day continued to replay in his mind.

Fury bubbled in him as Kvar burst into a cruel, condescending laugh. "You LOVE her, Kratos? Lord Yggdrasill will be endlessly amused to hear this! What do you possibly know about LOVE?" The angel refused to restrain his anger any longer as he drew his blade and launched himself at the Desian Grand Cardinal. Kvar laughed as he dodged the blow and darted away. "You're out of your mind if you think I'm going to fight you in these conditions," he commented in that sickening amused voice. "I know better than that. The odds are too steep in your favor."

"Then why are you here?" Kratos snapped. "Just to play head games?"

"Indeed." Kvar grinned. "It was your own fault for using your Angelic powers." Kvar ignored Anna's whispered"Angelic... powers?" and focused entirely on Kratos. "Be warned- Lord Yggdrasill wants you and I want her. And we will have what we want. I simply need to bide my time until you are in a position less favorable. You cannot run forever. We WILL catch you." With that threat, the Desian warped away, still chortling to himself.

Anna and Kratos watched the spot their pursuer had just abandoned; then, Kratos turned to Anna slowly. "Anna..."

Anna looked as if she were about to faint, but her voice was strong and firm. "I need the truth, Kratos."

"I've told you the truth."

"You have not." Her voice was hard, but not angry, yet it shook Kratos to his core. "Angelic powers? What's that all about? Lies of omission are still lies. I need the truth."

"I... can't..." Kratos turned from her, feeling his soul shatter. "I'd rather lose your companionship here and now than endure your hatred."

"Hatred?" Anna sounded surprised; she darted around the mercenary to stand in front of him, her slender hands on his arms. "I can't hate you Kratos, I-" The rest of her sentence was lost in a shake of her head. "I won't hate you, I swear, and I don't want to part ways. But, please, you've asked me to trust you so much, now trust ME. Please."

Kratos' eyes met hers and he searched them, long and hard. His heart was pounding, it was hard to breathe. She was pleading with him to come clean with her. Did he trust her? Could she NOT hate him once she knew?

Faith in others was a foreign concept to him anymore but... he would try. He gently freed himself from her grasp. She started to protest, reaching for him again, and stopped short when she realized that he had risen slightly off the ground; she watched him, mute, as he summoned his iridescent blue wings and hovered off the ground, just out of her reach.

Anna sank to her knees, her face in her hands. "My... GOD... who... WHAT are you?"

He had never felt any pain as sharply as he had in that instant, with those words. The conversation blurred together, then, his recollection lost in a haze of internal agony. Now he understood why he'd never had an inclination to romance in his youth. If this was what having one's heart broken felt like, he was sure he wouldn't have been able to survive it before he became immortal. It was only his thousands of years that allowed him to think clearly even in this pain.

She hadn't left. After hearing his explanation, she ordered- in a form of a suggestion- that they seek the nearest town, which happened to be Triet, and call it a night. They'd made the journey in silence and retired to their respective rooms without speaking a word. Perhaps she was debating with herself if they would part ways in the morning. Or if she had unwittingly lied to him when she told him she wouldn't hate him.

The thought caused another painful contraction in his chest. STUPID! An interesting sensation filled him, one he hadn't experienced in three millennia. The angel actually felt as though he was going to cry. He was stupid. Telling her he loved her was such a mistake and he knew it. He hadn't thought. She acted as though she did hate him, his primary reason he'd kept his own feelings hidden once he became conscious of them.

"I can't hate you, Kratos, I-"

What had she been about to say?

A soft knock at his door roused him from his brooding. Taking a moment to sit up and get his emotions under control, he called out, "Who is it?"

"It's me," came the soft reply. Kratos' heart skipped a beat as he dragged himself off the bed and moved to the door, filled with dread. This was it. He was about to be judged.

He was startled at how close she was when he opened the door. He gazed down at her, hoping his distress wasn't too apparent. Anna met his eyes for a few seconds, then dropped her gaze to the floor. "I'm sorry, but... after today..." Oh god, don't do this to me...

"... I... don't want to be alone tonight." She looked back up at him, and bless her soul if she didn't look as terrified as he felt. "Would you mind if I stayed with you?"

Kratos' gaped at her for several seconds before he managed to pick his jaw up off the floor and nodded, moving to allow her entrance to the room. She took a deep breath- had she been holding it- and concentrated on the far wall as Kratos shut the door and locked it again, then leaned against it. "You can take the bed," he said as loudly as he could muster without betraying the turmoil he felt. "I'll sleep on the floor."

Anna turned around, she appeared shocked. "N-no, you won't," she stuttered, a blush spreading across her face.

Kratos raised an eyebrow at her. "Surely you don't think I'm going to let you sleep on the floor."

"N-no..." She hesitated before blurting out, "Why can't we both take the bed?"

Kratos' other eyebrow went up. "W-what?"

Anna's face flushed a deep red. "I mean, we've known each other for a year, right? I-it's not wrong for friends to share a bed. Plus, you'll not get any sleep if you try to sleep on the floor-" she cut herself off and turned around. Kratos' face had fallen significantly at the word "friends", and she knew that was the source of his now-depressed expression. "I forgot," she said softly. "Angels don't really sleep, do they?"

"Angels don't," Kratos replied. "Those who are evolved further do, though."

Anna tilted her head to the side. "You're one of those further evolved Angels?"

"Yes."

She considered this for a moment, then, her gaze focused on the ground, "Can you feel, too?"

Kratos responded to her question with his own. "How do you know so much about angels?"

"Angels have always fascinated me," Anna replied brightly. "But come on- your being evolved means you can feel, right?" Kratos, not seeing the point in this conversation, held his silence. "Fine. I guess I'll have to find out for myself."

Kratos stood straight in alarm. "What are you!" Seconds later, the girl was standing close to him, her hands at his stomach. He burst out in laughter before he realized she was tickling him. "S-st-stop!" he gasped between laughs, managing to grab her wrists and hold her at bay.

She grinned as he recovered. "My. I'd have never imagined you were that ticklish."

"Most people don't have the guts to do that," Kratos responded in slight awe. "You're a brave one."

"That I am," she replied, her grin not leaving her face. Then she looked down at her wrists, still in Kratos' grasp, and cleared her throat. Kratos flushed an adorable shade of pink and immediately released her. He had to admit, now he was confused. Dreadfully confused.

Anna didn't move from her place in front of him. "You know... today, when Kvar found us... I thought... I actually thought, 'Kratos has finally had enough of me. He's finally getting rid of me.'" The Angel started to object, and she shook her head and turned from him. "I... honestly thought you couldn't stand me. That you were only with me because you felt bad that I was being chased by the Desians. It hurt so bad... but I didn't want you to see how hurt I was. So I-"

"Pushed me away," Kratos finished her sentence for her. He was, again, leaning against the door, arms folded across his chest. "I know. I did the same thing."

They were silent for a few seconds, then Anna chuckled. "If either of us had just been honest, this charade would have ended long, long ago."

"Charade?" Kratos asked.

Anna sighed. "Let's just say I've got a lot of nerve, scolding you for lies of omission."

"I'm... not getting you."

The human girl turned once again, hand on her hip. "I can't figure out if you're really this naive after living over four thousand years, or if you really can't figure out what I'm saying."

The redhead shifted uncomfortably, choosing his words carefully. "If I couldn't figure out what you were implying," he replied slowly, "I'd be stupid, not naive. But I'm not willing to act on implications. Not from someone who's usually very direct."

"You're really going to make me make the first move, ain'cha?"

He smiled hesitantly. "Anna, after everything that's happened, I don't know if I'm hearing what you're saying or if I'm hearing what I want to hear." His voice cracked slightly at the last; he was nervous. Extremely nervous.

Anna grinned broader than he'd ever seen her grin. "Kratos, you're hearing what you want to hear because that's what I'm saying." Without giving him an opportunity to reply, the girl walked up to him, threw her arms around his neck and pressed her lips to his. She could swear she could feel the angel melt in her arms as he brought his own around her waist and pulled her closer. When she broke the kiss, Kratos was smiling. Not that nihilistic smile he wore when he was amused by something, not the sarcastic smirk or his smug I-told-you-so grin. He was smiling. "I love you too," she whispered.


Kratos had the ability to know when he was dreaming. He could control his actions in his dreams, he could force himself awake if the dream took a turn he didn't like. He was dreaming now. He knew he was, in the blackness that surrounded him and the shade of a woman in front of him, her form shifting, fluid, clearly defined and identifiable but never the less transparent. But this somehow didn't feel like a dream. "Anna..."

The human woman strode forward, and cupped her hands around Kratos' stunned face. "Lies of omission... are still lies, my love," the shade said, the voice immaterial and disconnected, not seeming to come from the form before him but from all around him. She smiled sadly at him, leaned up on her toes and kissed him tenderly, and the moment her hazy lips touched his, she began to fade. "Anna, wait!"

"Anna?"

That voice hadn't come from the dream world he was in. Kratos forced his eyes open with a groan, raising himself on his arms and glaring at the young swordsman leaning in the door frame. "Who were you dreaming about?" the boy asked.

"An old friend," Kratos snapped. "Why are you in my room, Lloyd?"

"Professor Sage sent me to wake you up," Lloyd replied with a shrug. "We wanted to let you sleep, but even Genis and I had to agree this was getting a little ridiculous."

Kratos sat up entirely, looking out the window. His reddish-brown eyes widened in shock and he gasped- it had to be almost noon! Lloyd laughed merrily. "Yeah, now you can't harass me about sleeping in anymore, Kratos!"

Kratos glared at the boy. "Get out," he ordered, swinging his legs over the side of he bed and reaching for his shirt.

"I dunno, it's kinda fun watching you scramble to get ready for once-" The mercenary scowled and threw a fireball in the boy's direction, far wide of him and not nearly strong enough to harm him, but it was enough to get his point across to the teenager, who fled with another laugh.

Kratos watched him go, Anna's words turning over in his head. It was just a dream, right? Anna couldn't have actually confronted him in his dreams. It was impossible.

His logic did nothing to sooth the seed of guilt the dream planted in him. This isn't about me, or Lloyd. This is about the world. Kratos set himself to the task of getting himself ready to go, his heart heavier than it had been in a decade.