Epilogue: Merry Christmas!

"Let's party!" Zelos exclaimed upon re-entering the hotel. There were cheerful cries of agreement throughout the group. Regal and Raine went off somewhere, announcing that they had a surprise for everyone before opening presents. Yuan and Kratos were chatting in the corner, catching up on things for when Kratos was on Derris-Kharlan. Lloyd thought that was a bit strange since Kratos wasn't exactly the most social person in the group, but he had other things on his mind right now. Like a certain red-haired angel. He made his way over to the older bishonen, who was leaning against the back of a chair.

"Zelos?" the said person turned to face the Eternal Swordsman.

"What is it, bud?" Zelos inquired.

Lloyd hesitated a bit, unsure of how to word his question. "Are you sure you're okay? I mean, after everything that's happened…"

Zelos put on his trademark grin, laughing slightly at Lloyd's concern. "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine," he paused for a moment, suddenly seeing something behind Lloyd, and peered over the red-clad swordsman's shoulder. "Hey, Raine and Regal are back! Let's see what the surprise is!" Zelos made a dash past the other, but Lloyd grabbed his wrist, still unconvinced. The ex-Chosen sighed. He let the mask fade a bit as he looked directly into the other's eyes. "I'm fine, Lloyd. Really." In truth, it still hurt a lot to think that his first love was gone forever. However, the last farewell between them also served as a sense of closure. Now that everything between the two of them had been settled, Zelos could finally put those days behind him.

Lloyd perked up a bit. "You promise?" Zelos nodded. "Good, 'cause if you were lying I'd smack you!" the younger swordsman teased. With that said, they both rushed over to see what their companions were up to.

Cooking. The word by itself didn't sound threatening, but this wasn't just any ordinary cooking.

It was Raine's cooking.

Lloyd had slowly backed away, then turned to make a run for it, but the Professor held out her staff, which Lloyd promptly tripped over. "Now, Lloyd. Just try one. Please?" Raine added the last word as an afterthought. Lloyd hesitantly reached out and poked one of the cookies, as if it would bite off his finger.

"There aren't tomatoes in these, are there?" this question caused both Lloyd and Kratos to shudder, and earned Lloyd a smack from Raine.

"No, there are no tomatoes. Now just eat it already!" Raine said, rather annoyed.

Lloyd took a small bite off of the cookie, chewed for a bit, and swallowed. He blinked, staring at the treat with a dumbfounded look on his face.

"What's wrong, Lloyd?" Genis asked, slightly worried.

"That's just the thing. Nothing's wrong. They're…good."

Everyone stared at the Eternal Swordsman as if he had gone insane.

"Let me try one," Sheena said at last, breaking the silence. After finishing a bite, the summoner's eyes widened. "He's right."

The rest of the party looked at one another, then grabbed one for themselves. Not one negative comment was given.

"I knew my instructing would pay off," Regal said in satisfaction.

"What! You're kidding me! I've tried to teach her for years and she still hasn't learned!" Genis exclaimed. After a short discussion about food, they all decided it was time to open presents.

Sheena had given everyone Mizuho-style clothes, to which she received many thank-yous, and a glomp from Colette.

Regal had bought Raine a cookbook, and gave everyone free passes to the growing theme park at Altamira.

Kratos gave everyone new weapons, no doubt enhanced with what was left of the Cruxis technology.

Presea gave everyone the good luck charms she was famous for making.

Raine gave out various potions; being a healer, she was always concerned for her companions' health.

Zelos's presents were the best in Lloyd's opinion. They were items of jewelry decorated with rare and beautiful crystals that glimmered in many colors when held up to the light.

Genis gave them all books of various titles, Sheena's being the most interesting: "How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days".

Everyone marveled over the figurines that Lloyd had given them. They had each received a mini-version of themselves.

Last but not least, Colette gave everyone cute little plush toys. Yuan was rather embarrassed about not having anything to give anyone, but they assured him that being there was enough.

After cleaning up the large mass of wrapping paper that had accumulated on the floor, they stayed up a bit longer, talking and munching on snacks.

"Lloyd," Zelos said, approaching the idealist. The room became silent. Everyone had sensed the unexplainable tension between the two ever since they had returned from the ice temple.

"Mmph?" Lloyd asked while eating a marshmallow. Zelos waited patiently for him to finish. Lloyd swallowed the sugary treat. "What is it?"

"Consider this a thank-you for earlier," the sapphire-eyed angel cupped Lloyd's face in his hands before capturing the boy's lips in a swift kiss. Lloyd's eyes widened and his face turned as red as his outfit. Zelos pulled away slowly after a few seconds, not meeting the other's gaze. There was an "Aww" from Colette, a flash from Genis's camera, smirks from Kratos and Yuan, a blank stare from Presea, and gasps of disbelief from everyone else. Before Lloyd could recover, Zelos announced that he was going to bed, saying something about beauty sleep.

Lloyd stayed in the same position for a few minutes, red-faced and not believing what had just happened. He finally shook it off, then asked to no one on particular, "Did Zelos just kiss me?"

"No, that was about five minutes ago," Genis answered, now playing with his new kendama. Lloyd suddenly rushed off, saying goodnight to everyone.

He cautiously opened the door to their shared room. He peered through the dark room. "Zelos? You still up?" Lloyd whispered softly. Zelos immediately shut his eyes, pretending to be asleep. Lloyd, however, noticed this. It was also a dead giveaway because Zelos hadn't bothered to get undressed or under the covers. Zelos heard the other boy approach quietly. He heard the bed creak in protest and felt a weight on top of him. "I know you're still awake. Look at me."

Zelos sighed and opened his eyes. What he wasn't expecting was to see Lloyd smiling at him mischievously. Lloyd bent down and brushed his lips against the ex-Chosen's. Before he could pull back, Zelos wrapped his arms around Lloyd's neck, holding him in place, kissing him back passionately. They finally broke the kiss, needing air. Zelos looked at Lloyd questioningly. Lloyd blushed slightly and whispered, "I thought it would be better to continue here, since it's more private…"

Zelos blinked, then smirked. "Okay." Lloyd leaned down to kiss him again, stopping when Zelos put a hand between them. "But there's just one thing that's amiss here." Lloyd stared at him in confusion, then let out a small noise of surprise as he was flipped onto his back, so that Zelos was on top of him. "Much better."

With that said, their mouths met once more. Zelos ran his tongue across Lloyd's lips, asking for entrance. The younger bishonen opened his mouth almost shyly, moaning softly when Zelos's tongue brushed against his own. The former Chosen encouraged his partner to be more daring, and that's how Zelos's shirt ended up on the floor. Lloyd's shirt followed soon after, along with the rest of their clothes. Despite Zelos's rather controlling attitude earlier, their positions got flipped somewhere along the way, and he let Lloyd do as he pleased.

It was needless to say that they didn't get much sleep that night. Due to the fact that the walls weren't very thick, no one else did either.