A Brother's Gift

After long last, it was that time of the century. Not that it was particularly enjoyable, but anything away from their crazed with power, self proclaimed 'Over lord of the Planets' could be deemed satisfying.

Yuan looked up calmly from his work in Welgaia as the alarms around him nearly burst with spasms. Feigning indifference, he set down his paper work, setting them aside for later. "Looks like the Oracle has been activated..."

Scrutinizing over his office a final time, he turned off the lights and shut the door with a deafening click in contrast to the heavy silence fogging the city. He strode through the hallways leading to the main district, eyeing the portraits and statues lining the walls.

Upon entering, he scanned through the somewhat crowded area for his red haired brother, who he found gazing over the planets at the opposite side of the city. Like the Red Sea, the Lifeless Beings parted as Yuan made his way over to the edge of the city.

"Kratos," his voice was conversational, with only a tinge of business. "Could you do me a favor?"

Keeping his eyes locked on the planets below, Kratos muttered, "Depends."

"As you probably guessed, but most likely heard even more, the Oracle on Sylvarant has started. I need you to take my spot and guide the Chosen this time. I've something I must do, immediately." Kratos merely sighed in response.

"Kratos, you've been in a rut for fifteen years now." Yuan's voice was quiet as to make sure no one else heard, "I understand losing your wife and child must have been... difficult. Even more that it was by the hands of a lower operative, but you must look on, certainly they wouldn't have wanted you to continue your life this way..." His next sentence was audible only to his fellow Seraphim. "I know I wouldn't."

Silence.

"...Whatever," Kratos muttered despondently as he turned to gather his necessary items for this journey.

Yuan watched him leave until he became lost amongst a sea of feathered idiots. "Take it as a favor, it'll be the last, my brother." He murmured to no one in particular. As if to say goodbye, he nodded and turned on his heel, his cape catching the wind behind him.

"I never thought you'd show up. Damn, retreat for now!"

"Wow! He's really strong!" Genis chirped.

"Y-yeah, I suppose so..." Lloyd looked away.

The mercenary turned to the children, something struck a familiar chord inside, but needless to say, it wasn't something he voiced. "Is everyone alright? Hmm, no one seems to be hurt..."

"Oh, how can I ever thank you for saving the Chosen?" Phaidra bowed her head graciously as she embraced her granddaughter in a relieved hug.

He nodded, "I see, so... this girl is the next Chosen."

Colette blinked, her memory jogged. "That's right, I have to accept the Oracle! Grandmother, I'm going to undergo the trial now."

"...What trial?"

"The monsters, I assume. An evil presence radiates from the temple. It would be unwise to go it alone."

Lloyd beamed from ear to ear, "Then I'll take on the job of protecting Colette!"

Phaidra bit her lower lip, unconvinced of the novice swordsman's abilities. "Lloyd? I would be uneasy with just you..."

Kratos' perusal immediately rested on the boy in red. The chord pulsing even stronger. "You say your name is Lloyd?" he asked, allowing hints of keenness to lace his words. The boy just nodded rebelliously, "Yeah, but who are you to ask my name?"

He remained silent for a moment, then went on realizing a loss of face could be deadly. "I am Kratos, a mercenary. So long as you can pay me, I will take on the job of guarding the Chosen."

Phaidra smiled, openly reassured. "It seems under the circumstances we have but little choice. Please be of service."

"It's a deal, then."

Lloyd staggered, seeing what might happen if he didn't speak now. "W-wait! I'm coming, too!"

Kratos met his eager eyes with an intimidating glare. "No, this is too dangerous for children. Now be a good boy and go home."

Much to everyone's surprise, he merely smirked mischievously. "Gotcha. I'll just follow you on my own, then."

"You're a stubborn kid. Fine, do as you wish." He turned attempted to mask his anger; his patience was growing thin after the last fifteen years of numerous bystanders questioning him about his emotions and what not.

"Alright! Let's go, Genis!"

"Wh-What? I'm coming, too!"

"Of course!"

"This isn't a field trip, you know..."

'Well I'll be damned... Anna's... grave...'

"Augh! You don't have to hit me!" Lloyd could be heard arguing with Dirk even from a-ways from the forest side house. He then stormed out of the house, slamming the door behind him only to meet the wide eyes of friends and acquaintances. He looked to the ground ashamed, "Oops, I guess you heard all that, didn't you?"

Raine nodded, "Yes, what happened?"

Lloyd shook his head, but didn't look convinced of it himself. "It's nothing, I just..."

The rest was just background noise to Kratos as he couldn't tear his gaze from the grave. Deep inside he felt a twinge of heartfelt gratitude. 'Brother. You did this on purpose, you sneaky bastard. ...Thank you, Yuan.'

And for the first time in a long fifteen years, the Seraphim managed a smile.