During-game one-shot featuring Sheena, Zelos and Colette, most of the focus on Sheena. Set late on during the game it's a bit of angst with a bit of fluff mixed in. Happy, warm fuzzies kinda ending :)

Dedication: Someone who means a lot to me needs a hug but I can't give him one right now, so I sent him a hug in a fic instead. Thank you to him for suggesting the title :)

SPOILER WARNING: spoilers about Sheena's past and things that happen in the later part of the game are included. If you don't want to know please look away now, thanks :)

Disclaimer: I don't own Tales of Symphonia. Namco own it I believe. I'm just obsessed with it and like writing fanfics about it.

Sheena half growled, half sighed as she threw more ingredients into the pot over the campfire and stirred the contents as though she was trying to pulverise the curry to within an inch of its life. This whole thing just seemed to be never ending. First of all she'd been sent as some sort of gift from her village to the research facility in Sybak where they'd made her go through all sorts of weird and not entirely pleasant tests. She'd gone through with it because she had wanted to do her bit to help the village she considered home and because she'd been very taken with Corrine. The little summon spirit had been her closest and only real friend for a long time and the fact that he hated being a test subject had often made her wonder if it was right to continue going there, especially as the tests made her uncomfortable herself. If Corrine felt pain she knew about it, being linked to him via mana.

Then, as if putting herself and Corrine through that ordeal hadn't been enough, she'd been instructed to go off to some world she'd never heard of before, let alone visited, to kill the Chosen there. Not knowing what she'd find in that world, or even if she'd be able to return to her own, had been a terrifying thought although she didn't admit that to anyone except Corrine. The small creature had been a great source of comfort and support to her.

She stopped stirring, dropping the ladle into the pot as she felt that familiar pain of not having Corrine around any more. The emptiness that Corrine had filled, it hadn't healed yet. She doubted it ever would totally.

Why was Corrine gone? Because she'd been called upon yet again to carry out a daunting task that was physically and mentally exhausting, not to mention traumatic after what had happened the last time she'd been to see Volt in an attempt to form a pact with him.

She'd failed that first time. If it hadn't been for Raine she'd have failed the second time as well. She hated admitting that, she and the half-elf didn't get on particularly well. And even though she'd managed to form pacts with many of the summons people from her world still regarded her as some kind of failure. They didn't see how hard what she and the others were attempting to do was. No, these people seemed to think the worlds would save themselves. They refused to admit they were wrong too, seeing the fact that Colette was still alive as an indication that she couldn't even carry out a simple assassination job properly. They didn't even see her as a person, just a title that should be wiped out so they could continue on with their cushy lifestyles. If they'd take five minutes to get to know the blonde they'd see she wasn't a threat. Poor girl kept tripping up over her own feet. Even so she made a better Chosen than the excuse of one from her world.

She looked up from the pot to see the red head sneaking towards her bag. Trying to steal some of her underwear again no doubt.

"Leave my stuff alone you pervert!" she roared at him, throwing a stray radish at him and hitting his head. She received a whinged complaint in reply but he moved away from her possessions. The noise attracted Colette's attention and she looked up from a piece of fabric she'd been occupied with. She looked from Zelos rubbing a sore spot on his head to Sheena, frowned then resumed working on the fabric.

Sheena seethed and went back to stirring the curry rather more vigorously than was needed. As if she didn't have enough to deal with she had to put up with the idiot pervert as well. She'd get no thanks for it at the end either. People would just assume that someone was always going to save the world for them, they wouldn't take into consideration just how much pain, bloodshed and energy the tasks the small group of heroes had to go through took.

She looked up as someone tapped her on the shoulder, seeing Colette smiling at her.

"Smells good," the younger girl nodded. "Can I come sit with you?"

Sheena nodded then turned her attention back to the food, checking the pan of rice as Colette sat down and started chopping up fruits to make something for dessert. The summoner's train of thought was interrupted once again as Colette spoke.

"Strawberry's a funny word isn't it?" the blonde asked.

"What makes you say that?" Sheena frowned, wondering why Colette had said that.

"Well, it's not really a berry made out of straw is it?" she replied, holding up one of the fruits to prove her point. Sheena hit her forehead then laughed.

"You'll be telling me pineapple's a strange word next won't you?" the dark haired girl rolled her eyes.

"Well it is! I mean look at that, looks nothing like an apple. Although I suppose it does have sharp bits like pine needles," Colette held the fruit close to her face, looking at it in a contemplative manner. She shrugged, placed it on the chopping board and resumed making dessert.

"Tastes good though, even if it does have a stupid name. Want a bit?" she offered Sheena a slice. The summoner shook her head no thank you.

"I would like to throw one of those at Zelos though," she indicated a tomato. "But it'd be a waste of good food."

"But you threw that radish at him earlier," Colette frowned, puzzled.

"That's different," Sheena replied as though it was a simple fact. The blonde didn't quite see why which type of food Sheena threw at Zelos made a difference to the situation and thought about it for a few moments.

"Because a tomato would make more of a mess?" she asked.

"No, because tomatoes are much nicer than radishes," Sheena laughed. "Although I guess you're right. If I hit him with a tomato we'd never hear the end of how difficult it was for him to get the stain out of his precious clothes."

"Hmmm. Still, he shouldn't have been doing something to make you need to throw food at him in the first place, it wasn't nice," Colette frowned.

"Life's like that, the world's not a nice place," the summoner sighed.

"There's nice people in it though," the angel smiled as she tipped the pieces of chopped fruit into a large bowl and covered it with a plate. Sheena made a noncommittal noise in reply.

"Hey Sheena?" Colette spoke quietly.

"Mmm?" the summoner replied then yelped as Colette pounced on her and hugged her.

"You're a good person," the blonde giggled, holding onto the older girl for a little longer before letting go, giggling playfully.

"Next time warn me before you do that!" Sheena grumbled, the smile on her face showing that she wasn't really annoyed.

"There's no fun in that," Colette laughed, getting up and wandering off to talk to Lloyd. Sheena noticed the blonde had left something behind and was about to call her over when she spotted a tag with her name on it attached to the small box. Curiosity got the better of her and she lifted the lid to reveal a crudely hand-made plush toy Corrine. A warm smile appeared on the dark haired girl's face as she admired the little fluffy creature. Then she placed it carefully down beside her and turned her attention to dishing up dinner, a quiet mumble escaping her lips.

"You're not so bad yourself you daft klutzy angel."