For love of my sister
TOS fanfic
Zelos one-shot

Quick note for the readers,

This fic occures before the Falnoir scene but after the bloodline scene at Altessa's. Do not read unless you have finished the game!

Yes there is a character death and it is dark this fic has a mature rating because with a suicide in it there's no way it would qualify as Teen.

This was written in an attempt to explain exactly what a seraphim is. Hopefully this answers all the e-mail queries I'm getting! And sorry if this spoils the ending I picked in my Shards fic… this was one of those stories I 'had' to write, it was one that wouldn't let go. So at two AM I pounded this out instead of working on my philosophy mid term.

I hope you all enjoy,

Kasan Soulblade

"Are you sure of this?" The voice was cool, distant, and set a thrill of fear running down his back.

"Of course I am." Zelos snorted, running a hand through his fiery hair. He sat on the edge of a table padded in plastic looking around the stainless steal room, trying to ignore the scent of sterilization chemicals in the air. He was clothed like any other day, flashy white tunic, gaudy laced pants. His pink vest was taken of by his 'doctor', as were his boots and other trinkets that he had worn on himself. Kratos' enigmatic, 'they will be more distraction then statement when we are done' played in his head and made no sense.

What the hell did this guy get off from stripping him half naked? Was Kratos some sick perv who liked guys? There was a thought that made Zelos chuckle, not only was daddy a killer of his wife (If Yggdrasil had been telling the truth) but a pervert as well. Zelos almost felt sorry for Lloyd. Kratos turned to him, read his humored expression, and said nothing. The man's eyes though said enough.

'Superior jack-ass thinks he knows everything.'

"Yo, anything going on in that head or is it just a place you stick your hair?"

"My thoughts," Kratos hissed, laying five lengths of leather on the steel counter he had busied himself by, "are my business. Lay down."

"Or what?" Zelos growled, eyes turning to mere slits. "Come on gramps it's not like you could force me to do what your sick will wants. You don't have me tied around your finger like you have that kid of yours."

"Shut up and lie down." Kratos hissed, his eyes turning to slits of fire that met Zelos' own iced green eyes unflinchingly.

"Or what?" Zelos knew he was being a bastard, it was all intentional. "So you can strap me down? No way."

"What the hell do you think I'm going to do once you are strapped down Mr. Wilder? The very sight of you sickens me; I am only going out of my way to make this as painless for you as possible because despite being scum you still qualify as a human. You are going to spasm, you are going to try to kill yourself, and these straps will keep you from hurting yourself."

"I'm not a wuss like Colette, I'm no fainting flower who's going to start bawling every time I get hurt."

"I tried to kill myself before I was halfway through the process of becoming a seraphim Zelos, Yuan tried to kill himself after he lost the ability to turn off his subconscious and got locked in seeing Martel die over and over again in his head. So unless you are going to claim that you have no bad memories, that you are immune to feeling pain, then I suggest you lie down."

"It can't be that bad."

"Try me." Kratos hissed, "I can force you to enjoy the feeling of becoming a seraphim, I can force you to share those memories. It's the equivalent of having your soul raped, but I can do it, and I will if you don't lie down."

"When you're ready to start I'll lay down." Zelos gulped, suddenly very scared by that whispered threat.


Kratos turned his back to Tethe'alla's Chosen; the man's silver blue cloak whispered around his heals like a ghost. He was calm, distant; there was no soul in him when he looked at Zelos. For the thousandth time Zelos had to wonder, what did Lloyd see in this guy? Why did Colette still like him? Why did Raine, Genis, and even Sheena, talk about him in hushed but respectful tones? There was nothing to respect about him, no good, he was powerful, but he hadn't earned any of it. He'd just slapped a stone on himself, grew wings, and that was it.

'I'll be just as powerful as this bastard, just as strong, and then they'll respect me!'

"You should be grateful to me Zelos, I am going to be far more gentle then Yggdrasil ever was to me. I will explain what is happening to you so you don't think you are going mad." Kratos drew out a needle and a bottle of something yellow; he stuck the needle through the soft lid on the bottle and filled it. It looked like a kid's vaccine, and as if sensing Zelos' curious stare he explained. "Morphine, this should be enough for the first transfusion."

"Holy shit, that's enough to kill someone with!" Zelos exploded, hand going for a sword he had left in Kratos' mansion.

"You will burn it off at a respectable rate. Don't worry; I've done this before for Yuan, I know what I'm doing." Kratos set the needle aside, pulled a set of surgical knives from their hooks on the wall.

"What's that for?" Zelos knew he was panicking; images of Lloyd's stories about Kvar were playing in his head.

"Your key crest must be removed." Kratos' voice was cool, as if he preformed major surgery every day. "It will be dangerous to knock you unconscious and perform it the normal way hence the straps and heavy dose of morphine. Do not worry, you will not remember the surgery, I shall turn your mind off for a while so that you will appear to be asleep."

"Turn off my mind?"

"During the final stage of your transformation you will lose your ability to forget anything, the wall that separates your conscious perspective and your subconscious perspective will be obliterated. If I put you into a state of true sleep you will remember the sensations of me cutting you open, removing the key crest, and inserting the new one in. And it will not be as you recall a dream. You will feel every moment, every detail of this day -which is your final day as a human- as you would if you were a seraphim when you look back. I have told you before, I see the world in a way you can only begin to grasp, I receive more output from my senses then any human could begin to comprehend. It is as if every sense I possess is always active and to its full capacity every second of my life. There are no lies, no self delusions, you will know yourself fully when this is done Wilder, and I hope you can live with what you see."

"I don't need your damned help old man let's just get this over with."

"The most pathetic last words I have ever heard a man say." Kratos whispered. "I do not understand your purposes in doing this Zelos, we would have kept are bargain and made Celes the Chosen without you becoming one of us."

"My thoughts my reasons are none of your business." Zelos spat, and he was taken aback by the pity that Kratos favored him with.

"I would not wish this on my worst enemy Zelos, I would not inflict this on even Kvar for all of his evil he did not deserve a fate that you willingly sign up for. And if you have been briefed by Yggdrasil you know what Kvar did to me. If I could go back to the moment when I was given this option I would have slashed my throat before allowing Mithos to put this crystal over my heart."

Zelos paled and at Kratos' expression and the seraphim smiled slightly.

"You can say no, I can make I look like you went through with the transformation without Yggdrasil becoming suspicious."

"No, I want this." Zelos managed, though his heart was pounding with terror. "I need this."

"Then you are a madman." The expressionless facade was back. And something told Zelos it was not false this time. "And you deserve what you get. Lie down."

Zelos complied, tried to ignore how the straps were very tightly wrapped around his arms and legs. When they were wound up to the point he couldn't even clench his hands he felt a protest was in order.

"Hey I can't feel them, I can't move here!"

"That is the idea." Kratos whispered; Zelos felt the mercenary's fingers tap across his arms looking for a vein. Finding what he was looking for the auburn haired man grimaced. "If there are any gods left in this world Mr. Wilder I prey that they find some mercy for your soul." Zelos almost said something smart, but there was a slight bee sing in his arm and the world went black a second later.

Hours later, two actually, he woke. He was all too aware of a searing pain that ran across his chest. He trued to move his head, and was nearly strangled by the leather strap that held him down.
"Easy." Kratos' voice was soft; it came from across the room but seemed to roar like thunder in his ears. "You are just feeling phantom pain from the surgery and the mana I used to heal you and… begin the process."

"Could you be a little more quiet and not yell?" Zelos managed, wanting nothing more then to cradle his head in his hands, but unable to move he couldn't.

"I am not yelling Mr. Wilder, I am barely speaking above a breath. Close your eyes, go back to sleep, the next time you awake you will not be able to seek such solace in rest..."

Shivering, unable to imagine what it was like to not sleep Zelos closed his eyes, on his second awakening he came to with burning white light pounding through him. And he learned what it was like to not sleep, because no mater how he closed his eyes he could not tone out the sounds that roared into him with malicious joy and brought him only pain. And another bolt of searing light later, another eternity of screaming later that pain faded so did all pain. And with it went warm and cold, and all sensation in every limb. Except for a throbbing, a dull throbbing of a heartbeat that slammed against Kratos' skin and blasted into Zelos like a hammer blow. He felt that, and while it wasn't exactly pain he wanted it to stop because it was so like pain. He wanted to make it stop, to make it all stop... His own heartbeat hurt him, slammed against his skin until he felt like he was going to burst keeping it all in, every breath strained against his sides, he waited in morbid curiosity for his ribs to slash into his lungs and bring him a crimson drowning solace.

He cried; his sobs once soft seemed profanely loud. His tears, he could feel them form, fight their way out of him, and they slid down his face. A face that was numb, that was pale, and so very dead. He had purged himself a while back, had nothing to bring up, he'd done that right after the second blast of light. But every time he brought forth a tear, knowing where it was coming from, it made him want to puke.

And yet he could not stop crying.

And through it all, a voice, calm, cool, and with just a thread of sympathy in it told him what he was feeling. It was like the voice was in his head, like it was part of his head. It took him a long time to realize it was in his head, partially in his head and partial roaring through the air. But what it said, explaining, breaking all this down into terms he could understand. Terms that made sense now when they had not only a few hours ago. Someone had cut the bindings away, he felt them fall away, heard the knife hiss as it cut through them, when they fell and slammed into the ground with the force of thunder it came with a roar that set his head to throbbing.

"Don't worry." Said that mind voice. "It takes only an hour or so to adjust now that it is over."

An hour… an hour of this and he was going to go nuts!

"Try four thousand years and tell me who has the right to be nuts." That voice -Kratos' voice?- said in a dry tone. "Do not try to think, thinking is very dangerous. Just walk, move. Keep pace with me, it will not be as hard as it seems."

He swung his feet over the table's edge with a grace he did not feel and winced as his feet slammed down onto the steel floor. Each step echoed, it bounced off the walls and slammed into his skull. He wasn't sure how long he could hold himself up, his head was killing him and…

And it was fading, no it wasn't fading though the world seemed so loud it was not going away, he was getting, very slowly, used to having every sound roar at him.

"And soon," Kratos' voice said in his head. "You will learn to sort between sounds, scents, and sensations, for now you must just focus on enduring. Don't look up or around, that's far too much input for you to take right now, just stare at the ground while you walk."

Once Zelos would have sneered at not being able to take in the world around him, he after all was master of most of his world. Yet the very ground, he could see the varying textures in the marble floor, could feel how the less recently polished material dug into his boot which in turn dug into him. And he could feel how the texture of the ground changed with every step. The city of angels, the dead city of angels, was still dead, but it's quiet was a comfort and almost absolute to his sensitive ears. The flap of wings from angels hovering several feet above, their slow heart beats and the rustle of their robes against their skin was not so hard on him.

"Which is why for now I speak to you mind to mind. When you can endure the sounds of voices I will speak normally."

The idea of talking it made his skin crawl. He was aware, so damnably aware of each motion he made, could feel each muscle stretch tense, squirm with every step. And though he was confused by these sensations it seemed as if his mind knew how to walk, and would walk without him thinking through every motion. But now he had to know, he was told every motion, every iota of motion he knew about it. He could feel his own blood pound through him, could feel his veins tense under the impact, cushion the force of him living, and channel it into all of his natural process, into all of his organs. He could almost feel the interaction between every cell.

For once living hurt, and not in the way poets or even he had thought of it. It was true physical pain coupled with emotional pain. Every second was agony, when his clothes chafed against his skin he couldn't just ignore it, it was like sand paper rubbing all over him, even though he knew… no remembered, that the fabric was soft silk.

Suddenly he was climbing up three steps, passed under the shadows of a roof, and felt his eyes shift, could feel every rod and… and he didn't know what they were but he just felt every part of his eye shift, writhe, adjust.

"Stay here."

Zelos didn't protest, he had nothing to say, only felt like some god had chastised him and it was his place to be obedient. He couldn't take any more punishment, life was hard enough.

From far away he heard Lloyd's voice speaking to Kratos, then suddenly with a sick wrench it wasn't far away. He was there, leaning against the side of the Dirk's house, feeling the wooden grains dig into him, press his clothes against him while. The cool shadows clung to him, hid him, and he could hear every nascence in both men's voices. He couldn't turn to see, something wasn't letting him look. Somehow, he figured slowly, he was looking through the eyes of a memory Zelos. There was a difference though, he was sensing everything that the old Zelos had and had forgotten or… or was sensing what had been absorbed into the subconscious…

He was in all senses of the word "trapped in a memory"

"You say life is a punishment but then you save the lives of others, you're a hypocrite." Lloyd flared, his voice was loud… but a normal loud not an angelic kind of loud.

"My life is punishment boy, those who do not share my existence life is a gift." For a second Zelos wondered how Kratos could deal with any sound above a whisper. Now that he knew what it was like the idea of being near a loud talky Lloyd made his stomach turn. He lost that thought, felt a kind of wrench in him that made him just pay attention and drift along with the memory and keep his thoughts to himself.

"I don't believe that, we all have a purpose, we all have a cause. Maybe it's just to live, I don't know that, but life never is so bad that it's worth giving up on, even yours…"

"You do not understand my reality boy, and don't carp to me about morals. Morals aside, I don't deal with the world from a personal reality. Oh I experience perception, my outlook, memories, and emotions influence me, but there is this corner of me always aware of reality. Not truth boy, truth is a perception, reality is untouched by perception is untouched by truth and I carry that little shard in me for every day of my life and it is a heavy burden."

"But it's made you wiser then everyone else, and even though you still see that… reality thing-a-ma-bob that we can't you're still you, isn't that worth something?"

"Is it? Beyond your attachment to me am I worth anything at all? What about when you are dead Lloyd, what then, what value will I have then?"

"Maybe by then you'll have value to yourself." Lloyd whispered softly.

"I doubt that." Kratos sighed, "I need to get going, and I imagine your… father would put you to task for staying out with me in this weather."

"Actually he sent me out here to see if you were going to be joining us for dinner."

"Then tell him no, I need to return."

"Back to cruxis?"

Lloyd's voice was sad. At this point the old Zelos had felt disgust, he had thought didn't the brat ever let go of this old man? He was clinging to Kratos no matter what the guy did it seemed. That's how the old Zelos had felt, and the Zelos looking out… he didn't feel anything, not a damn thing, he saw and watched and understood what he saw and watched but could not say anything. No worse then that, he didn't respond to it, he understood but he couldn't respond, this numb empty thing had grown in him and he just couldn't reach out of it to contact anyone nor did he have the ability to care that he could.

That's what most of him was saying and thinking but in some tiny corner of him 'something' was screaming. It was screaming against the emptiness. It was screaming and nothing was coming along to save it. Because there was no way to save it, that part of him that was still him. It was gone, chucked into the darkest deepest pit and it was going farther and farther away…

Suddenly, pain! Searing agony, sensation that wasn't pain yet was because it was so intense. He slammed into the earth, felt every part of him howl and shift and… He wanted to make it stop; he wanted to tone it out. And he couldn't.

"I told you not to think. I told you to concentrate on the here and now did I not?"

"Yes…" Zelos felt tears burn behind his eyes and they came, pushed out by an endurance, and need, that he couldn't pin down but it hurt. Oh God everything hurt.

"Get up." The voice in his head had no pity, his body knew what to do, how to find it's feet, and he was a prisoner of it. Watching every action, every motion and unable to control any of it. "I have arranged a solace of sorts for you."

"Wha-" Zelos winced at the loudness of his voice, but it didn't hurt, it just seemed too big to be real, seemed to take up physical space and press on everything around him.

"Come." The voice was insistent, and he came, trying not to drown in sensation and yet not having the distraction of memories did not have any solace of his own devising. If Kratos could somehow make it easier for him then it was worth any price. He walked across tile floor, entered a number of room and each room burned it's way into his head.

He'd never get lost, never forget anything ever again.

And if anyone thought that that was a blessing he'd love for five seconds to shove them into this, to let them see the price of living like this. Because if he could go back to the old Zelos, could pin him down and tell him what it was like that old Zelos would have stuck on the losers side, or he'd had slashed his own throat before letting them slap a cruxis crystal on his throat.

The sound of water made him snap up, he was in a bathroom… he must have blanked or something…

And the second he thought that every step every sensation of the walk down the hall came flooding back. He shook, his mind seemed to scream as it absorbed all that information with no buffer, no way to tone out.

"Water?" He managed, adding even more input to his already reeling mind.

"A bath, water is the only thing that soothes the nerves. Because our own bodies are made mostly of water if offers the least amount of strain on the skin. It's disquieting, neither hot nor cold, an omnipresent pressure, but that is all it is. You might find some comfort in just having once sensation pressed upon you instead of several hundred all at once. I'll give you some privacy…" Kratos stepped out of the room, mercifully not closing the door behind him and making the Chosen of Tethe'alla have to deal with the roar of a door closing, to the squeal of rusty hinges. It was then that he realized that this door… a moment of searing burst of information told him that all of the doors… were made like those on Sylvarant. Memories tried to tug on him, the word Sylvarant tried to open up all those memories…

He reached up, worked off the clothes, and not having the strength to throw them aside he endured how they pooled around him. The fabric didn't seem as rough this time, didn't seem as harsh to his skin. He staggered to the water, neither hot not cold the tiles were instead rough. Grabbing the rim of the tub Zelos managed to work his leg over it, slipped on the smooth bottom of the tub, and nearly lost his man parts as a result.

Croaking in pain Zelos managed to fall into the water, and as it enveloped him he learned that Kratos was right. It did help not to have every part of him screaming at once. He moaned softly; let himself sink into the tub with barely a ripple. His fiery hair fanned out behind him and he closed his eyes and realized…. He then had one hell of a problem on his hands, he had loved to take his hunnies to his bathtub, (the hot springs if he had time but he'd always been adaptable and used the tub in his mansion from time to time) and have his way with them. Now in a simple unadorned bathroom he had to fight off all those memories.

He was not going to sit through hours and hours of his sexual conquests in a bathroom and accidentally drown himself as a result. He focused on how weird the water felt, pressing on him but not doing so with an intensity that hurt. From far away he heard a door open, feet padded across tile, and there was a creek from the other side of the house, then another pair of feet ghosted over tile and stone floor. They met at where the door first opened; voices rang out, soft even to his angelic hearing.

"How did it go?" Mithos asked in his –thank the gods- adult voice. If he had used that high pitched brat's voice Zelos would have figured his head to explode.

"As to be expected." Kratos' voice was bland, emotionless; he could have been describing the weather for all of his passion.

"He is mentally stable?"

"You ask me that?" Kratos chuckled, it wasn't a pretty sound. "So far he is suffering from all sensation as once and is so immersed that I doubt he could even follow our conversation, though I no doubts he can hear it."

"Where is the turn coat anyways?"

"Attempting to sleep in my quarters, lord Yggdrasil."

Yggdrasil seemed ignorant of the sarcastic emphasis put on his title. "So the fool doesn't know yet that he can't sleep… I wonder how the great narcissist Zelos Wilder feels to know the touch of a woman will bring him only pain?"

"He will work around that if I know him at all, he has as far as I can tell a somewhat quick mind. Even with all the input it is under he can still rationalize a little bit."

"That's impressive, considering the state you were in after we were done with you."

"That is enough Yggdrasil." Kratos' voice was cold. "That is more then enough. What are your plans for the moment?"

"Recapture the Chosen, use her for Martel's vessel."

"Again?" Kratos sighed. "How many times do they have to escape, defeat you, and counter all of your moves before you realize you are outmatched?"

"Never say never old friend." Yggdrasil spat out the last word as if he meant something totally different. Despite himself Zelos had to admire the guy a little, keeping with Ygg-y must of been one hell of a gamble for Kratos. "I have not given up on my sister, I shall not forsake her. Like Yuan did, like you did, you have all forsaken her but I. I will remain loyal to her until the end of time if need be."

"That is a long time Yggdrasil." Kratos sounded disgusted. "One Hell of a long time to let your sister suffer so. Concerning sisters…"

"We were discussing sisters?" Yggdrasil laughed. "Do you have one that you have failed to mention like how you failed to mention that who-?"

There was a snarl, in the water Zelos shivered and Yggdrasil he could hear the man take a step back. Shit, Kratos did not sound sane when he made that noise. There was a long pause, they all could hear Kratos' ragged breath as he fought and barely contained his fury.

"Don't ever say my wife was a whore, if you ever so much as imply it I will kill you. Do you hear me?"

"She made you betray me, betray Martel." Yggdrasil's voice was smooth as silk, soft coaxing as he tried to use all of his charisma to… to what? Zelos lifted his head to he could hear better.

"We are not having this conversation again my Lord." Kratos spat.

"No we are having it right now because I say we are having it." Yggdrasil hissed. "You were lead down the path of betrayal by that woman; you forsook your morals when you dallied in the pleasures of the flesh. And where has it gotten you my brother, and yes we still are soul brothers despite how you wish to break that bond between us, tell me where has it gotten you?"

Kratos only remained silent, even with walls between them the new seraphim could feel the rage radiating off of Kratos.

"I'll tell you, since my teacher you have lost your tongue it seems, it has gotten you nothing. All that love, all that hope you wasted on that bitch and that runt has gotten you absolutely nothing. Look at yourself, you're worn down to a thread, you are shaking, I take it that all your talk of discipline and honor went out the window the second you saw that woman with her skirt hitched up hmmm?"

"Shut up!" Kratos exploded, his raw rage made Zelos shrink back, into the water with a slight whimper. "How dare you slander her name by thinking it! By thinking those things about her, the one person I could love! I betrayed Martel, I? let me tell you this Mithos you've betrayed her a thousand times every day for every century you have drawn life from this world! Your very presence poisons this world, don't you feel it reject you, every stone, and every spirit screams out against the atrocities that you have committed!"

"Nonsense." Mithos hissed. "You allow your passion to blind you brother, I have told you over and over it is best to discard such filth."

"I did not invite you into my home to discuss my wife." Kratos whispered, and at that dreadful sound Zelos considered slipping under the water and taking a deep breath so that death would take him before the older Seraphim looked at him with that awful hate. "I invited you here to discuss Zelos' sister and what will you tell her."

"Nothing." Yggdrasil hissed. "Nothing will change for her; she will live in that abbey and rot there. Consider it penance for her sins and the sins of her brother."

"You are not God Yggdrasil, you can not pass such judgment, honor your oath-"

"The last time you tried to foist that argument on me you were trying to save that bitch of yours Kratos. So I don't think I'll care to hear you out."

"If you do not do something about Celes I will." Kratos warned.

"Feel free, take him with you if you want and make some fancy spectacle, pin a cruxis crystal on her if you want. You can keep my oath for me mentor, I on the other hand have other things to attend to."

The door opened, closed and slammed while Zelos lay in the pool of water his mind on fire. He lay still, listened to Kratos' foot steps come closer.

"I take it, you heard." Kratos commented, knowing very well he had heard. The conversation was written in fire and pain in his head and he'd never forget it.

"That double crossing little midget I'll…"

"Do what?" Kratos calmly walked into his range of sight, and looked at him in scorn. "You don't even have complex motor function back yet; it will take years before you can even cast the spells Colette can cast. I couldn't transplant that knowledge into your mind like I could with the Chosen because you were under enough stress already. Had I done you might have come out of your metamorphoses even worse. I warned you, multiple times, and your hatred of me toned my words out. But you don't have to take my word for it, I imagine with a little prompting you will remember all on your own…"

"No!" Zelos gasped, pushed away from the side of the tub to put some space between him and the seraphim… no… a fellow seraphim, he was one now too. That knowledge was like salt on a mortal wound. It wasn't vulking enough that he was dying but Yggdrasil had to make it hurt worse. "Keep away from me!"

"As you will," Kratos bowed mockingly to him. "Welcome to the winning side Zelos Wilder, it is good to have you among us."

Alone Zelos sat in the pool, closed his eyes, and through closed eyes wept.

Xxx xxx xxx xxx

Hours later he clambered out of the tub. Thinking of nothing, taking in everything, it didn't seem to hurt as bad. He worked his clothes on after toweling himself down. And while they grated on him it didn't feel like acid on his skin. He wandered around, followed the slow drum beat to the study, and it was only then seeing the man poured over some notes in Angelic that Zelos realized what he had been hearing. He was hearing Kratos' heartbeat.

"Does this freaky shit ever stop?"

"You get used to it." Kratos murmured, alone it seemed as if the older seraphim seemed to like to talk in whispers. Considering his now sensitive ears Zelos gladly complied.

"Now what?"

"Why ask me? I can't help you, and after all, why would a soulless bastard like me chose to help anyone?"

"Is there something you don't know?" Zelos growled, he'd said that to Lloyd after seeing Kratos in Sybeck. That had been months ago and he could have sworn Kratos was out of hearing range.

"'Now what?' Obviously I do not know that question's answer, and I can not hazard a guess because I do not understand the context you have put it in."

"You are so damn smart it makes me sick." Zelos hissed. "You are so damned superior that I want to beat the crap out of you. I have no idea what that brat sees in you, no idea what so ever."

"I'd enlighten you, but the concepts of friendship, loyalty, and love, would be totally alien to you."

"Shut up, I love my sister!"

"Mithos says much the same thing." A page was turned, Zelos' cursed eyes saw it, memorized it, even before it had turned and was replaced by another. He closed his eyes before he was forced to read any more about the death of some wizard names Istaar who had gained his power by consuming Aionis. "Does he love Martel or is it his ideals he clings to... I wonder?"

"I love Celes." Zelos whispered. "I always have, I always will. I went through this for her, does that make you freaking happy, I went through this to help her!"

"And now you can't help her." Kratos turned another page over, eyes skimming the material. "Unless of course you come to me; begging for my help."

Yes, damn it, I'm here to come begging for help, now are you going to do it or not?"

"You've sacrificed much for the love of your sister…" Kratos whispered. "Yes I'll help you, for your sister's sake." Kratos lifted his gaze from the book. "It will be over soon I think, for you and for me both. It will be a relief to die at last, to no longer have to endure this life and return to my lovers side."

"What about your kid?"

"He will recover from our betrayals." Kratos smiled, looked at something that Zelos could not see with such peace that it shook the new seraphim to his core. "That is the amazing thing about Lloyd, he never gives up, never forsakes anyone. He has much of his Mother in him, and for that perhaps the world is blessed due to his presence."

"You're nuts." Zelos growled.

"I will not argue that." Kratos shrugged, set the book aside not bothering with a marker, then considering what he was he wouldn't need a marker would he? "Four thousand years does tend to unhinge the mind a bit. Come, unless you want to merely trade banter back and forth for all eternity. Frankly I have other uses of my time."

Like a young obedient child Zelos trailed after Kratos, feeling both weak and humiliated.

Xxx xxx xxx xxx

Teleporting, not fun when you're human, even more screwed up when you're a seraphim. Each cell rips apart and there is this wrench of losing self and then… Then you are back, whole, well, but unsettled. Like you left a chunk of you back somewhere and because of what he was he could pin point it… kind of. Every nerve screamed in agony at his re-birth of sorts. How Kratos managed it without even flinching… The man was nuts, stark raving mad.

Kratos offered no comfort; he had only paused long enough to dress in his black mercenary garb, and now looked much like the man who had traveled with Lloyd's group early on. As they walked without stopping through the tower Zelos recalled all the stories Lloyd had told him about Kratos. Tales of Kratos' supposed maturity, guidance, compassion. Where the Hell was that now that Zelos needed it? No where that's where, the guy was like ice inside and out. It's the only way you could live like this would to just… let go. To totally let go of everything, to just rest... Suddenly all those soulless angels in the city made sense, and he, Zelos Wilder, envied them.

To sleep to forever sleep lost in the hearts silent silken beat…

He squelched that thought before he was totally trapped in the memory of that long and boring language class. Kratos would just smack him again, and that would set all of his nerves on fire. He needed to think damn it! To be able to function, not go chasing clouds at a seconds notice!

"Well I guess this is a lesson of sorts." Kratos sighed, as they walked across the walk way of light. The light didn't hurt his feet, didn't sting, so Zelos had the wonderful sensation of wind and he could feel every grain of pollen on that breeze and smell it… but strangely he couldn't taste it. He almost asked, almost, than decided to keep his mouth shut. He wasn't going to be like this forever so why get stuff cleared up?

"You might have been wondering where your wings are Mr. Wilder, I am happy to inform you that you do not have my situation were they must rip their way out of you. Had you it then they would have appeared after I had untied you earlier today."

"So where are they?" Zelos growled, damn the bastard, he was talking like he would to Lloyd and the volume was making Zelos' head ring. But then so was the bird chirps and wind's sigh.

"You have Yuan's wings, or rather wing style, the will appear with a flash of light, no pain, no mess." Kratos' lips twitched into a mocking smile. "A fact I'm sure you will appreciate."

"Yeah, clothes are my number one concern." Zelos snapped, the pain in his head was getting worse as wolves somewhere howled. Damn first moon couldn't it just come out some other time? "How long have we been in that… place?"

"Five hours." Kratos said with a calm authority that made Zelos want to punch him.

"Doesn't feel that long…" Zelos growled, mentally bracing himself for the pain of having rough untamed stone under foot. It hurt as much as he expected it too and did his best not to cry again. "It feels like forever…"

"I imagine it did." Kratos sighed, scanned the sun's path and nodded. "Well we might as well get this over with, are you scared of heights?"

"A little." Zelos admitted.

"A shame."

Zelos throttled the urge to throttle Kratos. It wouldn't do to have the bastard kill him until after he'd seen Seles. Zelos had no delusions now about his own skill now. If Kratos could deal with reality like this and still fight at the same time the man was his damned better. It was all Zelos could do to stand and walk.

"Alright, let's get this over with." Kratos closed his eyes, tilted his head to the darkening sky. "Just imagine your wings appearing behind you, that is all you need to do."

"Alright…" Zelos closed his eyes, tried to imagine wings coming out of the air. He thought of Colette's wings, tried to imagine them coming out of him. "It's not working…"

"Your wings Chosen, not Colette's, yours, you know what they look like."

And suddenly he did, it was too obvious for words and he felt a blush rise to his face. He could feel his veins forcing more blood to his cheeks and… he couldn't help but think of how I was done, so he had those nice images to deal with on top of summoning his wings. Somehow he managed, with a flash of orange light they appeared. They flapped lazily and he looked at them and decided he kind of like how they looked. He ignored the breezes that they created across his skin as best he could, tried to focus on how they matched his hair and clothes.

He really tried to focus on that when there was a wet grinding and ripping sound. And even though he couldn't tone it out he could just stare at them instead of turn to the sound, which is exactly what he did. When he dared to look Kratos was on his knees gasping in pain, his wings a silver blue mess of feathers and blood that stuck out behind him.

"Nice." Zelos couldn't help himself. "You look wonderful."

"Haven't drawn them for a few weeks." Kratos hissed, eyes closed what appeared to be excruciating in pain. "That's what happens when you don't use them, they get tangled up with your organs and muscles and it can kill you if you aren't careful." With a grunt Kratos pushed himself off the ground, looked them over and at his gaze they flapped, sending a small rain of blood to the ground.

"You know I have this really strong urge to puke, how the hell did you explain this to what's her name?"

"Anna?" Kratos' lips quirked. "She would surprise you Zelos, as a mater of fact if you think about you might even recall seeing her in my company when you were thirteen."

"Wha-." Memory rushed at him, he couldn't stop it and once he was done playing the incident in his head he gapped at the older seraphim. "You.. she.. She's the bitch who almost dented my head in! I had that bruise for weeks!"

Kratos looked to the sky. "Zelos… If you ever call my wife a bitch again I will kill you, and trust me I know just how to do it. Shall we get this errand over with?"

Kratos' wings flapped and with one hop the man was off the ground and flying.

"Hey I can't fly!" Zelos snapped. "Damn it, get back here! Wha- Hey! No!" Zelos' wings were flapping with a life of there own, blurring, and with absolutely no grace they were dragging him through the air making him bob and weave like some drunken humming bird. "Damn it, help!"

His help only came when he had the wonderful experience and sensation of crashing into a tree.

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"Stop laughing at me you freak!" Zelos flared.

"Am I laughing?" Kratos' voice was like ice but Zelos knew that the bastard spoke more with his eyes then anything else. And those eyes were dancing with wicked mirth.

"Shut up!" Zelos flared, flying a little better now but now with the falcon's grace that Kratos showed. He kind of drifted, fluttered, and dragged himself around. As much as he hated to say it Kratos soared with a grace that made it look like he was born with wings. "There, there's the abbey! Gods I hate flying! We're landing right now!"

"You are landing, I will summon Celes, claim you died and you will then spend the rest of your evening in her company discussing whatever you wish before I, around dawn, return to drag you off to the next life."

"You sound like you've done this before."

"With Spiritia." Kratos said coolly, ignoring how Zelos paled. "I am Derris fa Sith, Zelos, the angel of death. Now then go to the lake as we agreed, Celes will join you in a bit."

"Right." Zelos swallowed, suddenly very nervous.

"I hope that this one night will make up for everything Zelos, I hope you find our peace before you die tomorrow."

"I'll have it." Zelos looked grim. "I just wish it never came to this."

"As much as I hate what you are." Kratos said with a candor that shocked Zelos to his core. "I would not wish this on you, I would not wish this fate on you, this is the means of assuaging my own conscious. Good luck."

With that he glided of and left Zelos to glide over the abbey's wall, sheath his wings, and take a seat by the pond and Celes would play by as children. And wait, he watched as the silver blue light deepened, listened to Kratos' voice and the voice of the priestess, and he heard Celes' question.

"My brother, why have you come to bear news of him Angel of Shadows?"

Closing his eyes Zelos wished he could not hear her sob, wished suddenly he could take this pain all away. But he couldn't, he was trapped, trapped as a seraphim, trapped in a life he never really wanted. And it would be over, in less then two days it would be over. He rolled Celes' cruxis crystal in his hands. In two days it would be done… for good or for ill. He lifted his head as he heard her approach, heard Kratos' soft voice offer what little council he could, offer her one night in which to talk to her brother one last time.

"Zelos!" Celes gasped his name with all the love he wanted her to say it with for years and years. "Oh brother I am so sorry!"

She ran to him, embraced him, and it hurt. Her very life pressed against him and burned like fire. It was all he could do to not gasp in pain as her life embraced his death.

God it hurt.

You must of loved her old man to take this day in and day out for years, you must of loved her a Hell of a lot.

I wont love Celes any less then he loved Anna.

"Baby, little sis it's alright, no tears…" Zelos managed a smile, pulled her off of him just a tad. "No tears, everything's alright now."

Zelos met Kratos' eyes.

You can go now, right now. Zelos thought at the seraphim.

Kratos only nodded and with a flash of light and rain of silver feather was gone.

"Sis, my baby don't you cry for me, none of that none of that." He held her close and cried too. "I love you so damn much and I know this is a screwed up time to say it… but I love you and I'm here to help you. I'm here to set you free… and come tomorrow morning we will both be free." He held her to him while she sobbed. "I love you Celes I love you so much."

"I love you too." Celes gasped, holding onto him with a fire touch that she never could have known about.

That she would never know about so long as he drew breath.

"Then everything's gunna be fine. After all aren't you my fav hunny?"

"You jackass!" She flared and he laughed at her anger, then to his shock she dissolved into tears. "I'm sorry Zelos I'm so sorry."

"Hey hey what's this. I think my little rosebud needs her big bro's lap and shoulder to take a cry on."

"That'd be nice." Celes whispered as he embraced her and gave all he offered. "I don't want you to go, I want it to be like this forever."

"It will be." Zelos whispered. "One night is forever hunny," She looked up, not understanding. "Trust me, one night is forever, if we make it forever."

"Oh Zelos." Her grip tightened.

Yo Kratos be late, very late. He sent out hoping the old man would hear him.

No response, but it didn't matter. He held Celes and for the first time in years they just talked and laughed and held each other. And when the light came across the sky and that voice told him it was time Zelos smiled, let his sister go and took one step away. And that one night did last forever for him. Even though he watched it end, even though he walked away from a crying Cles and vaulted over the rock wall and 'disapeared' with a flash of silver blue light that came down from 'heaven'.

He saw her and only her even as Kratos' voice floated around him.

You think that this will make things better for him?"

"No, it's not supposed to. So how'd you spend last night?"

"As a father with my son." Kratos smiled slightly and Zelos knew the guy wasn't seeing the room but the snow choked streets of Falnoir and replaying the talk with his son over and over again in his head. "yourself?"

"As sis' knight, I haven't played big bro protector for years… but she was all nostalgic you know?"

"It happens like that." Kratos sighed. "Anna was much the same in the end. Two well spent final nights then."

"You think." Zelos asked as he picked up his sword and strapped on his belt. "You think they're going to win?"

"I have no doubts." Kratos grinned, his eyes filled with a morbid wish that only the blade would grant. "I only had hoped to see them win, but we won't be there for that, will we?"

"No, guess we wont, hey I'll save a spot for you in Hell you Bastard."

"I wouldn't have it any other way." Kratos replied dryly.

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"You bastard!"

"Call me whatever you want, it won't change anything. No!" He barked seeing Sheena ready to come up and start a fight. "No it's me and him, man to man."

"Everyone stay back!" Lloyd drew his swords.

"First time I ever heard you call yourself a man Bud." Zelos grinned, drew his own blade and ignored how the steel burned into him with its lifeless intensity. "Come on, bring it!"

And even as they fought Zelos watched, not for his opratunity to kill the kid but that one opening and seeing it he grabbed Lloyd's wirst. Kratos had trained the kid; had made him respond to that grab by swinging his sword a Zelos. Blade passed through his throat but he had just enough time left just enough strength. His leg buckled, and with that last serge of strength, still on his knees Zelos guided that blade and with a sigh threw himself on it. Blade pierced crystal, bone, and at long last heart…

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He gasped, sat up and shivered.

"Big brother? Are you OK?"

Zelos smiled at Celes and patted her head.

"Hey, I'm cool, nothing ruffles me, just some freaky dream that's all."

"So, when we leave the abbey tomorrow with your friends what do you want to do?"

Zelos shrugged, lay down in the cool wet blades of grass and stared a the sky.

"Celes, my numbero uno hunny, you place waay too much faith on Lloyd. Knowing him he's gunna sleep in till noon. Oh did I mention he's bringing his folks, his Mom and both his Dads and all them nutcases? It was all I could do to tell him that all of Izoold would not fit on that Rheiard of his."

"He seems nice."

"He's cool, a little weird, hooked on this one hunny Colette of his, but still a cool kid. He just doesn't have his priorities down just yet."

"So you mean he doesn't chase girls all the time, unlike a certain Chosen?" Celes ribbed him and Zelos laughed. Just like old times it was perfect night and at the end they'd begin a perfect journey at the end of the night… Side by side with all of his new friends.

"Yeah, I dunno he must have a hormone deficiency or something."

"Not that stupid hormone speech!" Celes laughed. "Gods Sheena is so going to kill you if she heard this one."

"Oh no, Sheena, where!" Zelos mock cringed in terror. "Not my very voluptuous bouncy little banshee hunny of death and pain! Save me Celes!"

She laughed and smacked him with her hat.

"I might, family loyalty and all, but then again…" Celes grinned. "I might not!"

"Ouch, hey my little rosebud I ever tell you the time I saved the world?"

"Oh not, not this story again!" Celes chuckled. "All right out with it if I don't listen you are going to pout all bloody night."

"Hell right!" Zelos layed back on the grass, took her hand in his and smiled. "Once upon a time in the great city of Meltokio came this dude and all these chicks and they crawled up to the great and powerful Zelos and said

'We pathetic lame and weak people of Sylvarant have just been pwned by the evil seraphim dude with nasty wings and need your protection!'"

"So what are the odds of this Lloyd telling me a different story when I met him?"

"Umm none what so ever!" Zelos grinned and tried to look innocent.

"Un hu, alright so after the guy with a lot of chicks come crawling to you what did you do?"

"You really wanna know?"

"Zelos!" Celes blushed and he laughed

"Not that! Sheesh, no what I did was take 'em to see the King, right! That's what I did, and then…"