WARNING: I like Zelos Wilder. A lot. The more I write about him, the more I like him. Not so much as to be unrealistic, but just enough to make him the main character of this story. I think Zelos and Sheena are made for each other, their pairing would be hilarious (he's too charming for his own good and she's too up-tight to let him get away with it)! There might be spoilers in this story as I am writing a continuation. So if you haven't finished playing the game, maybe you shouldn't read it. But it's up to you, so enjoy.

You were everything I had thought you were: Arrogant, egotistical, loud, a liar and a play-boy. You lived your life as if you hadn't a care in the world, as if you weren't who you were born to be. When I had first heard of the story of the Chosen, when I had first pictured the boy that my grandfather told me about, I had thought of him as someone who was quiet and dignified, handsome and kind, someone who I could rely on and who I could see sacrificing his life for my world. Someone... like Colette had been, someone who wasn't you.

I met you when I was fifteen and naive. At the time I had heard of the carefree Chosen, and wondered, indignantly at how the women in the city had laughed in delight when they spoke of you. How could they treat you like that? How could they not respect you as I did? It made no sense at the time why they were so familiar with the boy I had thought you were, the man you were quickly becoming. I didn't realize it then how easily you would have laughed at my image of you, but then, I wouldn't have heard the mocking undertones that was present in every action you took when faced with the expectations of others on how or who you should've been even if I had met you. Zelos Wilder, how strange that you tried so hard to live up to your name and yet tried so much harder to not live up to your title...

You were charming, that was the first impression I had of you. I would never admit that later, but I had never seen anyone so beautiful. At first, I had thought you a girl by the way your hair had fallen perfectly down your shoulders, with that wicked curl at the fringes, shining in the sun like fire and inviting a woman's fingers to run through it to test out its promised silkiness. You had turned then, your laughing profile was the first impression I had of your face. The delicate arch of eyebrows, the sinfully long eyelashes that fluttered flirtatiously with the girl to your left; the straight, but aristocratic line of your nose; the curve of your generous mouth as you flashed the white of your teeth in a disarming fashion at the gathering crowd of admirers, were all the weapons you needed to be used against those around you.

I was enchanted by the princely manner you had about you. The sweeping bow you gave to the old dame that let her hand linger longer on your arm than was appropriate. The melodious way you spoke your words, pronouncing each with your voice low in your chest so that it rumbled just so, something you did when you were out on the hunt for female flesh. I have yet to meet a human or half-elf girl who had been able to resist it without a blush to stain her cheeks (though the elves, eventually, did prove to be immune to your charms).

But then, as I followed you through the rich streets of Meltokio, abandoning my earlier wonder at the Imperial City, I began to see that you treated every woman in that manner. I was naive and a child, but I was not a fool. I saw how the older women looked to you with half-masked desire in their eyes (though I would not recognize that for another year or two for what it implied), how the younger ones clung to your arms as they batted their lashes at you - though later you would laughingly say that theirs were not half as impressive as your own. I noted how the little girls begged you to play with them and how the reserved men would look on, look on and say nothing. Almost as if they were honored that you would waste your time upon their wives, sisters, daughters and girlfriends - though there were a few that had watched you in envy. And yet, at the time, the foolish girl that I had been had wished you would bestow that attention on me. I wasn't the only one as I watched women and girls alike, vying for your attention while snubbing each other as they waited in line to be the next one you spoke to.

The ones who had their hands kissed by you would later wave it about as if it were a priceless item. The ones who clung to your arm would rub their own with a half-dreamy smile later. The ones who you winked at or felt the faint touch of your sly fingers slide alongside their cheeks would whisper to their friends later, comparing stories and notes and fighting over who you really were paying attention to and who you really thought was beautiful (since you told them all that they were, but in a thousand different ways). You were, physically, everything I could have hoped for in the Chosen, but quickly I began to note that there wasn't a thing in you that was like the boy, the man, I would have imagined the Chosen to be.

Maybe the whole world was fooled by your charm, but I was not. I could not see, not even a little bit, of how I could depend my life on you. I could not see how you were going to save the world, my world. I could not see, for the longest time, the coldness of your gaze as you looked over humanity.

"Most people were born to live, even though some are just born to die."

- Zelos, on being the Chosen

Night Watch of the Lone Savior

by Blue Jeans

Destiny. When he used it, women would swoon. He would say, "We were destined to meet," or "You and I were destined for each other," or "This is our destiny, yours to love me and mine to do the loving." Sometimes, the bitterness would singe his mouth so much that the words would come out lewder than he intended, but most of the times the women didn't mind what came out of his mouth so long as it was his mouth that it was coming out of.

He had his first kiss at eleven, taken aside by a sixteen year old girl who had been too flustered to do more than peck him on the lips. It had, apparently taken all the courage she had just to take him aside, her brazenness leaving her in the last moments of accomplishing her goal. At the time he was still innocent. Innocent, in the sense that he still believed in giving his life up for his world, innocent in that he was still on good terms with his baby sister - who he protected fiercely - and innocent in the fact that the kiss had mattered to him. Years later he wouldn't even have recalled what the girl had looked like or how the kiss had felt, he would only remember that he had been foolish and a child to not have asked for more, because he knew she would have given it to him had he only reached out to take it.

All throughout his life the people had been like that to him. For quite a few foolish years, when his parents were still living in the city and his mother had been alive, he had thought the way Colette, the Chosen from the other world, had thought: That his duty was to protect Tethe'alla and he really wouldn't mind dying for that cause. He was a child then, he had long accepted that but it would be a long time before he could forgive himself of his foolishness.

He knew the day things had changed. There had been a gathering for a picnic one sunny afternoon, after the grief of his mother's passing, when his sister had been playing a little ways down the hill. A group of women were laughing and admiring him from the blankets the servants had laid out, and he had been enjoying the fresh air. His seventeenth birthday was coming up and the palace had been in an uproar - the cook finally kicked him out just so the female population would be reduced in the vicinity of the castle. The princess had followed him, against her father's instructions, and had given him an early birthday present. "Here," she said with a smile, "I always feel like I should be thanking you for being who you are. It's been a tough year for you too, so I hope you can really be happy again, like you used to be."

Zelos didn't quite know what to say and she had been too shy to stick around to see his reaction, though he knew she wanted to linger. On the hill-side, before anyone could come to interrupt him, he opened the present and paused. Inside was a bound book, the princess had written a note telling him what it was for. "It's from the archives. Your father must have forgotten to take it out before... Well, it's for you. It's personal so I didn't look through it." The aged leather was not yet cracked. He opened the first page and saw what it was right away.

It wasn't a diary per se. His mother had collected all the love-letters amassed during their parents' courtship along with small, miniature pictures she had painted of him and his sister when everyone was there for him to call it a family. There were stories and memories in each page, each filled with the gentle touch of love he had always associated with his mother. On one page there were tear stains, and at first he didn't understand why she had been crying. Perhaps it was tears of happiness, because Mother was writing about how the Pope had visited them that day to tell them that their son was the Chosen, as the prophecies had indicated. Later, much later, he would realize that she had probably been crying for him and the boy he had lost that day on the hill - the boy who believed that a life was worth sacrificing for the world, but whose dead mother did not.

He didn't know quite what had triggered his reaction the way it did, but in that moment as he read the love shared between his parents and the feelings they had for their children, Zelos realized that no one loved him that way anymore. Since fifteen, his sister had become more distant from him than ever before. He knew that she was resentful of the attention he had garnered from everyone. He knew she didn't understand what it meant to be the Chosen, as not many did. It still saddened him that she no longer favored him as she had done when they had been children and he had been her world. He knew, however, that no matter how many women waited for him on that blanket, or how many in the city wanted him in their beds, they would never say, "I'll die for you, Zelos. I'll risk my life so that you may live." They would never cry for him as his mother had done the day she discovered that her son was the Chosen. They would never have pushed him away to avoid harm from someone else's magick at the risk of their own, pretty necks.

Instead, being a sacrifice was what he was made for. This was what he was born to do: To die for others. "Do I have no other value?" he asked himself softly as he clutched the book tightly. The sword on his hip dug into him, mocking him with its uselessness. Could he fight off his destiny with it? For all those hours spent in the training grounds, did it matter at all? He didn't have the answers for once. He was the Chosen, but he realized that he didn't really know anything anymore. More than that, he had never really understood what it meant to be the one to hold the title he had held all this time.

When Zelos finally felt composed enough to face his audience, he straightened and dusted the grass off of his pants. He called out to his sister to come up the hill to eat, ignoring the glare she sent him (slightly glad she was not the one to be sacrificed, slightly resentful that he was the one who had to die.) He turned, knowing what he would see in the admiring glances and sighs that the women sent his way since all they saw was the Chosen. He was, after all, the man who would die for them. They did not see Zelos, the boy who didn't want any part with death or dying, the selfish boy who didn't want this destiny and hadn't been asked if he had wanted it to be a part of his life.

"I always feel like I should be thanking you for being who you are," the princess's words came back to mock him. He smiled pleasantly at his audience, hiding the irritation that had sprung up in his heart. The picnic and the blue skies were beginning to thoroughly annoy him, as if it was a testament to the insignificance of his life. It was like nothing had changed, even though everything had.

He was, finally, facing his destiny. He just never realized that it was a wolf that desired to devour him, and not a grandmother out to embrace him. It was sad, really, Zelos acknowledged. He was standing at the jaws of fate and there was nothing he could do about it.

Zelos blew at an errant strand of red-hair, sighing at the heat that thrummed in the air. He wish he had a better reason to be running around the desert this time around. Of all the things that had to be included with Sylvarant when the two worlds merged, he wished the desert hadn't been a part of the package. Even though his days as the Chosen were over, the king had more than enough errands for Zelos to run. Now, instead of having the title of the Chosen, they gave him another one to take its place: Ambassador of Tethe'alla. "You have the experience," the king had said. "And you're the one who wanted there to be equality amongst all races. Go out and prove to me that you really believe in this vision," because, obviously, his majesty did not.

Zelos snorted derisively at this. It wasn't just what he had wanted, it was what Lloyd had wanted. It was what everyone in their group that had assembled to save these two, struggling worlds had wanted. He had to convince the King to at least lift the ban on half-elves in many of the higher facilities of government, he had to at least make it so that it is possible that they be able to go into public places without being harassed, or attend public schools so that the human children will not resent them as much due to the exposure. "Man," Zelos sighed as he hefted the bag that was weighing down his shoulders. "Why did Lloyd take the girl and the easier, more fun job?" he complained as he wiped the sweat from his brow.

"Sir," the entourage that was falling behind him caught up at last and the servant boy who had yelled out his name was panting in exhaustion. "The camels are exhausted sir, and the group is wondering if you... if Triet was near."

Great, his companions now doubted his sense of direction instead of just doubting the sanity of his vision and the purpose of this journey, Zelos thought sourly. Who did they think he was? Lloyd Irving? At least he knew which direction North was. Sometimes, Zelos wondered, if Colette was all Lloyd needed to get the boy from point A to point B. "Tell them that I know where I am going and that we would get there faster if they could keep up." Zelos answered through gritted teeth, hating the fact that he has to talk. He didn't need an excuse to open his mouth to let any more sand into that particular body part. He especially hated how it gritted against his teeth and made him even thirstier.

"Y-yes sir," the servant boy nodded, but was startled when Zelos set a hand on his shoulder.

"Boy," Zelos acknowledge, for the first time noting the slightly angular features of the child that marked him as a half-elf. "I'm not riding my camel, so if you get too tired, you and one of your friends can use mine." The surprised look on the child's face annoyed Zelos greatly. Really, did everyone treat the half-elves so terribly? If so, he could understand why Genis had despised his race, even though Lloyd was human and Genis's best-friend. Zelos, at least, understood that quite well. He wasn't really a great fan of the human race himself, especially when he had been the Chosen. Unlike Colette, he didn't feel one iota of guilt for not liking the fact that he was supposed to die for all of mankind.

Go figure, maybe Sheena was right. Maybe he really was a bastard all along. Thinking on the dark-haired ninja brought a bitter smile on his lips. She was the only one who could really make him feel this way. Her and her high ideals made him hit on her more than any of the other women, just to prove to her that this was the scum that was going to save her cute, tight butt when the end of the world came. He was a coward, a cheat, a liar, and a traitor, but he was the Chosen. Even Sheena Fujibayashi couldn't deny that fact no matter how much she looked down on him. Really, it was fun to see her reaction when he brought her down to the human level everyone else was on.

She was afraid of the fact that she was human, that she couldn't always save the world, that the cost to save others, in the end, was sometimes a life that one - selfish or not - was more than unwilling to part with. He wanted to show her that truth. He wanted her to see the human in him, because of all his companions she was the only one from his world that cared about whom he was and the role he played. Regal and Presea had their own, tainted reasons for going on this journey. They had no illusions about Zelos. They didn't think him any better or worse than any other person one might encounter on the streets. But Sheena, she had looked down her ninja nose at him - despite the fact that he was taller than her - and judged him based on the existence of a title he bore. She cared about the person he was, or the person he was supposed to be, and that had annoyed him. Zelos had grinned at that fact for most of the journey as it was a delight to shatter the illusions she had of him.

For someone who he had never met, she sure knew a lot about him and his habits. Maybe it bothered him that she saw him as the Chosen more than anyone else did. Maybe, but it had been a year since they had last met up, and they had parted as companions should, even if they were not exactly friends. In the distance, he saw the outline of a city looming in the sand. "Is that it, sir?" the little elven boy asked in awe. "Is that Triet?" For just a second, the boy remind Zelos of Genis and with that the flooded memories, bitter and sweet, of a group of people who would have fought so that he could live, who would have cried if he had died, came back to him.

"Perhaps," he grinned. "It's in the right direction." He hoped it wasn't an illusion. He hoped he could really be able to change the way people viewed half-elves, so that in the future there would not be another Mithos, so that there would not be a need for another little boy to become a man like Zelos, embittered by life and circumstance. And perhaps, the distant future, if they worked hard enough and believed enough, would not be anymore of an illusion than Triet, an oasis in the desert, would be.

Who knows? Mankind has been known to make miracles happen, even at the terrible cost of creating hell first.

On their third night in the desert oasis, Triet, Zelos went out for a walk. He watched the stars tiredly sleepily blink into form in the midnight tapestry overhead, marveling at the beauty. The precious water that the desert oasis guarded like the most important treasure in the world - and in this case, it was - made Zelos admire the clear liquid all the more. If Sheena was here two years ago, she could probably have made it rain for the first time in a long time if given the chance. Zelos speculated on this as he watched the dark waters reflect the millions of blazing stars in the sky. There were no street lights in Triet, not like in Meltokio. The way to the water hole was dark and one needed a torch or lantern to travel at night, that is, if you didn't want to run into something.

People went to bed early in Triet, where Meltokio hardly rested. There were festivities every other night in one pub or another in the lower sections of the city, and people were known to dine at odd hours, even in the upper most part of Meltokio. Zelos made a mental note to speak to the king about that type of class separation, but he doubted that it would be changed any time soon. Still, somebody needs to speak up about it, and he was doing most of it as is, it wouldn't hurt to add that particular tidbit in as well. There was a crunch of sand beneath small feet and Zelos paused, his hand on his sword before he was conscious of the act.

He smiled a little at himself, wondering if the habit will ever leave him and half-hoping it was a memento he would be able to keep forever. "Sir?" the elven-boy's voice rippled the air like a breeze over the oasis' water.

"What are you doing out so late?" he asked instead.

"I overheard some of the servants saying you left for a walk. It's not safe out here, Lord Zelos," the other warned him with the same submissive tone that most half-elf servants used so they wouldn't get a beating. He was touched by the boy's concern.

"It can't be helped," Zelos said with a grin as he turned his head to the sky. "As the Ambassador of Meltokio, and the one who's preaching about the equality of all races, I would doubt my life would be very safe anywhere. People always were very jealous of their high status, even if they had nothing else."

"Sir?" the boy stepped up next to him. "Why are you doing this, if you don't mind me asking?"

Zelos knew what the boy had meant so he crouched down, folding his long legs so that he was now about the same height as the elven-boy. "I knew a man once who had a half-elf for a best-friend." The boy had a disbelieving look on his face, but Zelos stopped his protests with a stern look. "I admired that man. He believed that no one's life was born without cause, that everyone had worth from the moment they took breath in this world." Zelos laid a hand on the small, elven-boy's head. "He believed that even a Chosen, one who was born to die for the world's sake, deserved a chance to live life as it should be lived. He wanted a world where everyone was equals, where half-elves are not discriminated against and where human sacrifices were not needed to keep the world turning... that is his dream." The boy watched him with something akin to awe in those large, grey eyes. In that moment, Zelos could not tell the difference between half-elves and humans. "He's not half as eloquent as I am though," Zelos chuckled arrogantly to break the serious spell, "and you need to be charming to change the world, because a sword cannot solve everything. Because the world doesn't really want to change or be changed, despite the pains of others. Lloyd would not have understood the complexities of court politics, nor would he have tolerated the fools one must deal with to reach his goals." Zelos stood and looked at the waters before him with a weary smile tugging his lips down from his earlier jubilance. "Right now, he is like an oasis in the desert. He is like a treasure that few share the knowledge of, a miracle, really. But one day, I dream that it is a treasure that everyone would be able to carry with them and that people like him would not be so rare." Zelos admitted to the boy as much as to himself. "It would be rather sad that not everyone will be able to meet someone like Lloyd in their life time, hm?"

"Do you believe that one day half-elves and humans would really be treated as equals?" the child asked anxiously, suspicious and yet hopeful.

Zelos realized that once he had been such a boy, but someone had taken away the hope and left only the suspicion. "I can't guarantee that world in my lifetime. It would be a lie if I did. I can only try to change it. Maybe, one day, people will not be judged by their race but by their character."

"I look forward to that world," the boy said with a spark in his eyes, but Zelos found himself not liking the answer.

"Look forward?" Zelos mocked, "Look forward and it will never come." The elven boy was surprised by the sudden bitterness in the ambassador's voice. "If you want it but don't fight for the right to be equal, you will never see such a day. If you don't struggle and suffer to be treated the same, nothing in this world will change." Zelos faced the boy seriously now. "You're important in this struggle, just like every other person. You must believe, and when you see injustice and hatred and fear, when you see violence and hunger and discrimination, you must fight back. If you don't and bad things happen to you because of it, then it is your own fault caused by your own weakness."

The boy was silent as he watched the water sit as still as death. "Would the journey be very difficult, Lord Zelos?"

Zelos shrugged at this. "It has only begun. And anyway, it's not like we're doing it alone."

"Yeah," the boy perked up. Even though he only realized such a small fact it still lit him up like a light in the dark. Zelos smiled at such innocent enthusiasm and set a hand on the other's shoulder, before turning to enjoy the stars under the same dark sky.

"I didn't think you'd be the type to bother talking to little boys," the familiar, sultry voice mocked him from the shadows after he closed the door and locked it. "You never bothered before."

"I bothered before with Lloyd and Genis," he retorted. What he didn't bother to do was waste the energy needed to show his surprise at her appearance. "And the boy reminds me of Genis," Zelos shrugged as he headed for the bed and plopped himself down upon it with a heavy sigh.

She was silenced by his answer long enough for him to almost doze off. "How are negotiations going?"

"Terrible," he answered automatically, and about as honest as he had been all day, from under the arm he threw over his eyes. "But there's no need to speak of that further. Why are you here, Sheena?"

Sheena Fujibayashi stepped out from the corner of his small room. Her footsteps were stealthy and silent so that he couldn't hear her approach. She had gotten much better than when they had first met, but Zelos still sensed the temper in her that made Sheena his favorite girl to pick on. Sadly, with Sheena, he always reverted back to the juvenile age of six, when picking on girls was something one did to prove one's manhood and one's indifference to their kind. Zelos though had a pretty good idea why he did it, unlike his six year-old self.

"I need a favor," she paused as if uncertain.

"From me?" Zelos grinned a little, feeling his mouth tilting ever so much in that way he knew made her annoyed at him more as he goaded her. "I knew you loved me, darling, but a tumble in bed shouldn't be called a favor as I would do it more than willingly."

"You idiot!" she shouted at him as he remembered her doing when last they had met. Zelos didn't realize he missed it till that moment. His nostalgic silence gave her enough time to regain her composure. "That's not what I meant," she grounded out more calmly, though not by much.

"Then what did you mean?" Zelos asked with a seductive quirk of his eye brow as he pushed himself onto his elbows. "I'm not going anywhere, sweetheart, so no need to hurry the process." His eyes raked over her voluptuous form, pouting when he noted that she still wore the garb of the successor of Mizuho, which covered far more skin than he liked.

"I thought you were no longer a playboy," she sighed, hiding her discomfort.

"Being an ambassador did not mean I lost my charm," Zelos grinned. "It just meant I found another avenue to exercise my talents in. But more importantly," he added with a serious expression that made her stand a bit straighter under his gaze, "I thought you would do away with such an ugly frock," he said pointedly. Sheena's face went from surprise to fury faster than any woman he had ever met. He didn't take the hint though, but when it came to Sheena, he never took the hint. Raine once said that he was like a man out on a suicide mission every time he and Sheena decided to talk to each other. "I liked your ninja outfit better, though you still make even that brown-paper bag look good... good enough to take off that is." Zelos winked at her suggestively.

"I'm not here to play into your fantasies," Sheena crossed her arms over her chest with a growl, which drew his eyes to that particular anatomy even though he knew she did it out of self-consciousness. Sheena was very predictable in these situations, but then, Zelos sheepishly admitted, so was he. Maybe he said all those things just so she would cross her arms over her chest like that, he was never quite sure because she did a lot of things when she was angry that made him quite happy to be present. "I'm here to look for Kuchinawa," she quietly admitted. The playfulness left the corners of his mouth as he regarded her through lidded eyes.

"And how can this play-boy help the little lady on her quest for another man?" Zelos joked half-heartedly, falling onto his back again without much care about what she would say next.

"He destroyed Mizuho."

Zelos got up so fast that he felt light headed, but Sheena was not looking at him so she didn't notice. She had her back to him now, which meant she trusted him (she told him once that ninjas don't trust just anyone). She was tense and he didn't know if she was crying or not. "Are you hurt?" Zelos finally asked. "Physically, I mean," he elaborated.

"Not really," she said. "But he poisoned the well-water after trashing the plaza. He told those that were still conscious that to get Mizuho back and receive the antidote, I would have to fight him. This time, because I am the successor, it's a do-or-die battle. Win or lose, he will not back down until he is dead. Kuchinawa had made that more than clear the last time he was at Mizuho."

"So, you must find him. That is the first part of the trial." Zelos concluded for her evenly.

"Yes," she answered.

"Were you there when he came to the village?" Zelos asked tensely, wondering if she was up to defeating Kuchinawa again. The first time had been hard enough, and if the man improved in the last year he didn't want Sheena to go in to a battle where she would just lose her life.

"No, I was out on a mission to scout out the new villages and build contacts there. The world is so different now after the merge, and yet, it is still the same." Sheena turned to him, "Have you seen Kuchinawa, or heard of him in your travels?"

Zelos pondered on this a bit. "No, and I don't have the time to aid you in your search. Is it so important that you cannot move the village to somewhere else? The world is bigger now, after all."

"And admit defeat? I'll lose all credibility." Sheena thundered, so disgraced at even the idea that her face turned bright red with indignation.

"Would your village be better off if you were to die?" he asked her softly instead. Sheena paused at this. Apparently the thought of defeat had not gone beyond that point of her death. "Kuchinawa is a very selfish and prideful fellow. He is too clouded by his revenge to think of others now. Do you think, after he defeats you-" Zelos cleared his throat at the look she sent him "-if he defeats you, he would be willing to pick up the pieces of Mizuho in the aftermath? I don't think the village will take him back, not if he becomes a murderer."

"When did you get so smart?" Sheena joked, trying not to answer his questions.

"I was always smart, sweetheart," he grinned slowly, not at all fooled. "Otherwise, I wouldn't have been such a good little traitor."

She paled at the very mention of it. Her brows drew down and her lips straightened in a line of displeasure. "You are not a traitor, Zelos. I thought we moved on from that!"

"I betrayed you, no need to soften the impact. Just because I came back, don't mean I didn't do the deed. Just like the people died in your trial against Volt because you were not strong enough to defeat him that first time, nothing changes the action." Sheena paled more at his callous and unforgiving words. "You don't have a right to tell me to move on if you can't move on yourself." Zelos finally said pointedly, looking her in the eye. "If you can only live for the dead, you will only forget the living. Someone has to be given up, but I suggest you reevaluate your priorities before you go do something rash."

Sheena was silent, studying him with a gaze she never once bestowed upon him till now. Zelos wasn't sure if he liked the change, but it couldn't be helped. Only a fool would throw away his life for revenge, even if it was the human thing to do. To be devoured by one's weakness didn't make you stronger no matter how many people you were able to beat, Mithos taught them that. Lloyd may not have won all his battles, but his ideas were solid and his heart was strong and good, even if the boy was an idiot half the time.

"I don't care what you do," Zelos lied. "It's your life to ruin, darling, though it would be a waste if you just off and died on me. I don't run into beautiful women like you every day, and none of them have resisted quite like you have done." She blushed, a flash of jealousy made her eyes sparkle in that dark, attractive way that he always liked about her. Even though he knew she didn't want to feel anything for him, she had always been intrigued.

"I'll think on it," she finally said, ignoring his last comment. "But it won't change anything in the end. Kuchinawa will come for me no matter where I am."

Zelos had to agree to that. He was tired, he didn't want to think on this anymore, not when there's a whole other week of negotiations after tonight that dealt with the fate of an entire race. He wanted to believe, at the very least, that the fighting part was over with, but that was just wishful thinking on his part. If they weren't careful, fighting can very easily erupt over this new and confused world. He knew the king was putting money into funding new research on other ways to use mana, just like they had been warned by Mithos. This type of thing was inevitable, but it was worth fighting against, peace and lives in general were worth fighting for. "I'm tired," Zelos sighed. "You're a big girl now, you can figure it out by yourself." He turned his back to her then, but didn't close his eyes. He knew that if she left, he wouldn't hear her go anyway, but there was not much else to say between them.

"Zelos," her voice was soft. "Thanks," he didn't reply because he knew that she wouldn't hear him.

"Yeah," Zelos sighed as he closed his eyes a few moments later, knowing she was gone and he could say whatever he wanted now. "Whatever makes you happy, sweetheart." Surprisingly he meant it, but he wasn't going to linger on that thought as sleep pulled him into darkness.

Just be careful, Sheena, Zelos thought before exhaustion blacked him out. Just be careful.

"That Zelos Wilder is out to ruin everything!" Kuchinawa grounded out in annoyance. He had been following Sheena for the better part of a day after she had arrived at Triet, and had been trying to decide if now was a good time to fight her or if he should wait a bit longer. She had surprised him with her speed. Kuchinawa admitted that he had not thought she would have been able to get here this quickly, but he has discovered that he should start reevaluating her quick, since she obviously improved from the girl he fought a year ago.

Maybe he should just get rid of this Zelos she's always after, get her to have a taste of what it was like on his side of the world. She hasn't lost anything of great importance, not like him. Maybe it was time to remind her why she was chasing after him in the first place. Kuchinawa didn't like it, but it wasn't like Zelos was worth much. The playboy had the stupidest idea that half-elves and humans could be equals.

What a joke! Obvious the man had lost his mind. He would be doing the world some good by killing the ex-Chosen. It wasn't like Zelos had a use anymore. The king was obviously fed up with Zelos' ideals and sent him to the corner of this backwater hole to talk to unimportant people so he wouldn't be in the way anymore. No one would miss him. From what Kuchinawa had heard, even Zelos' sister couldn't stand him.

Oh yes, he would be doing the world a favor getting rid of Zelos Wilder. And then, Sheena would stop being such an idealistic fool and remember why she was here. She was here to fight him. And if she was good enough, she would kill him. Kuchinawa doubted that she would survive him a second time. He smiled ever so slyly as he clutched the card in his hand closer to his heart. Every man, after all, must have his bargaining chips, and a weapon that would bring his enemies to their knees.

Kuchinawa had both. There was no way he would lose again.

No way in hell!

To be continued...