If this is the first time you've read one of my stories, then hi there! I'm TheOneAndOnlyT, and this is my first foray into the world of Golden Sun. I've been lurking around this section for a long, long time, trying to come up with a good idea for a Mudshipping story, and I think I've finally found one. So thanks for reading this story (I always love new readers!) and I hope you'll like it.

If you have read some of my stuff before, well, it took me three months, but I'm back! And I suppose you must be wondering what the heck I'm doing in the Golden Sun section instead of the Fire Emblem one, especially with the recent release of Path of Radiance. Well, to be honest, I really have no idea why I decided to write this... it just came to me. In any case, I hope you'll like it.

So here we go! Read on and enjoy.

chapter one
Isaac and Mia
angelic compassion

"I'm just...not sure how I feel about her anymore," the blond boy sighed, absently playing with the yellow scarf around his neck and gazing forlornly into the small stream at his reflection. He hesitated slightly before continuing, taking a few moments to convince himself that the girl beside him would not laugh at what he said next. "I really don't know what to do... I mean, I used to think I was in love with her, you know?"

"Mm," the cerulean-haired girl sitting next to him agreed, also gazing into the stream but focusing on the boy's reflection rather than hers. "Well, Isaac," she added after a moment's silence, her voice gentle and understanding, just as the blond boy had hoped it would sound, "I don't have much experience when it comes to things like this, but it may be... that you were not actually in love with her to begin with." She fidgeted uncomfortably with her pale blue dress, normally hidden under heavy robes but now uncovered due to the heat. "I... really don't know, though..."

"Do you think so, though?" the boy known as Isaac responded, turning to look at the girl beside him. She in turn looked up at him, and as the two pairs of crystal-blue eyes met, Isaac was filled with a strange sense of peace, as though he could tell this girl anything.

It was... nice, to say the least. Garet and Ivan were his close friends, and he would trust them with his life, but his personal secrets were another matter. There was no way Garet could take any sort of conversation about this topic seriously and Ivan... well, for some reason Isaac was convinced that Ivan was too young to understand. Mia, though...

Their eyes were locked for only a moment before Mia looked at the ground, picking a blade of grass out of the earth. "A-as I said," she mumbled hesitantly, "I really don't know. I mean..." Her gaze turned back to the stream, which sparkled incessantly in the light of the setting sun. "You've never really told me much about... Jenna, right?"

"Yeah," Isaac replied, scratching the spiky, dirty-blond hair on his head. There was another moment of hesitation before he slowly asked, looking directly at the girl beside him and chuckling nervously, "Do you, um... want... me to tell you about her?"

Mia turned her head towards him, a small, awkward smile on her lips. "Well, um... if you don't mind, that is." The smile grew slightly.

It might have been due to the simple fact that she was female, but somehow the Mercury Adept struck Isaac as much more compassionate and understanding than his other two companions. Even though she had only been traveling with him for about two months, already Isaac felt a strange, invisible bond with her, as though he had known her forever and could trust her completely. It was almost like... well, he didn't even know how to describe it. In any case, though, she was a very nice girl to be around and to talk to, and he was very glad to have met her.

He chuckled again. "Okay... well..." he mumbled, before looking back into the stream, as though the words to describe his childhood friend were hidden in the water. In a way, he did find them there, as a glance at the cerulean-haired girl's reflection gave him an idea: "She's like... the exact opposite of you." He smiled.

"Oh?" Mia grinned, cocking her head interestedly at him. "What makes you say that?"

"Lots of things," the blue-eyed boy replied, his teeth now visible in his smile. "She's a Mars Adept, for starters, but it's not just that..." His gaze turned to the sky as he reminisced. "She's a tomboy really... she's rather loud, and she gets angry really quickly... but she can be a really nice girl if she wants to be." He chuckled. "That isn't very often, though."

Mia giggled, covering her mouth with her hand. "She does sound rather... unlike me," she remarked. "Do you think...that maybe you merely had some sort of crush on her? I mean..." She bit her lip. "Well... I don't know."

"Maybe," Isaac replied, gazing back into the stream, his smile fading slightly. "I mean... when I first left Vale, this whole quest was all about finding and saving Jenna. It was like... like I was in those stories I read as a kid, where the hero goes and saves his damsel in distress, you know?"

"I know what you mean," the cerulean-haired girl replied, smiling warmly at the boy beside her. "I mean, I'm a girl, but you'd have to be pretty ignorant to not know that for most boys, a chance at an adventure like that would be a dream come true."

"Yeah." Isaac turned to her, smiling slightly, and as their eyes met he was once again filled with that strange sensation that he could say anything to this girl. "And it was like that for the first few weeks, you know? I was on this big adventure, slaying monsters and racing to find the people who had kidnapped my 'one true love.'" He had to chuckle at that, and Mia did, too. "I don't know, though..." He again began fiddling with the yellow scarf around his neck. "I guess it must've... changed, somewhere along the line."

"How so?" Mia asked, her crystal-blue eyes wide and curious.

"I think it might've happened around when I met you," Isaac replied without missing a beat. Seeing the faint blush and the look of surprise on the cerulean-haired girl's face, however, he hastily added, "No, no, I don't mean it was because I met you! I'm just saying it happened around that time."

"Oh," Mia mumbled, giggling nervously, though her blush deepened a bit. "Sorry, I just... I was being stupid. What were you saying?"

Isaac blushed faintly then as well, having recognized why Mia found his words embarrassing, and he glanced around nervously for a moment before hesitantly beginning to speak again. "Well, um... I don't know. I guess...seeing her at Mercury Lighthouse was what made me really realize it." He scratched the back of his neck awkwardly, looking at the ground. "It was like... well, I mean, I was definitely worried for her, but..." Unable to think of a suitable explanation, he trailed off.

Fortunately, Mia didn't mind. "It's okay... I think I understand," she replied, with a small smile. "You didn't feel the same for her anymore?"

"I...guess so," Isaac responded slowly. He again had to look directly into Mia's crystal-blue eyes in order to convince himself that she would not laugh at what he was about to say. "This..." he began hesitantly, "...this is going to sound rather stupid, but... it used to be that just seeing her gave me this..." He had to look away; he was blushing too hard. "It gave me this really weird feeling. Like... it was like I had to be near her, and I had to talk with her."

He felt a hand rest softly on his shoulder, and he looked up to see Mia smiling serenely at him. Oddly, her smile seemed to comfort him, seemed to make his embarrassment dissipate as if it were never there. "Isaac," she said softly, "that's nothing to be embarrassed about. I think everyone has felt something like that at some point in their lives." Her smile widened slightly. "What you're describing definitely sounds like a simple crush to me."

"You think so?" Isaac asked, cocking his head slightly.

"I do," the cerulean-haired girl responded, a nervous chuckle escaping her. Looking back at the sparkling stream, she added awkwardly, "I, er... know from personal experience." Despite what she had just told him, Mia still blushed very faintly at those words.

The blond boy noticed this and pounced, a mischievous glint in his eye. "I thought it was nothing to be embarrassed about," he remarked playfully. Absently, he noticed that the girl's hand had dropped from his shoulder, but he paid it little mind.

Mia looked rather helpless. "Well, no, it's not, but... I..." She suddenly let out a giggle. "Okay... maybe it is." Smiling, she again looked at him, directly into his eyes. The blue-eyed boy found himself unable to think of anything to say for a moment, but it didn't make much difference, because Mia continued, her smile slowly becoming an expression of concern, "But... why has this been bothering you so much?"

Isaac's smile faded as well, melting into a more serious expression. "I... don't know," he responded after a few moments, softly. "A... lot of reasons, I guess." His gaze fell to the ground.

"Like what?" the cerulean-haired girl asked, her eyes wide and curious. It took her only a split-second to hastily add, "I mean... if you don't want to tell me, you don't have to, but..."

"No, it's okay," Isaac remarked, turning to the girl beside him and smiling, fondly. "You're listening, so..." He left the sentence unfinished, partly because he couldn't think of anything to follow those words, but the general message was clear: she cared. And he was willing to talk to her, because he knew she did.

Mia didn't reply, but she seemed to understand. She simply blushed prettily, giving the blond boy a smile just as warm as his.

"A-... anyway," Isaac awkwardly said after a few moments, his smile fading as he tore his gaze away from the Mercury Adept's crystal-blue eyes, "I... I don't know why it was this, but... realizing I didn't feel that way about Jenna anymore made me start to wonder..." He frowned uncertainly. "It made me wonder if I could... really go through with this whole thing."

Mia blinked, at a loss for words. And Isaac couldn't really blame her, because he knew what she was thinking: his thoughts weren't right. He was supposed to be the strong, fearless leader, the one dedicated to completing his quest. And the leader wasn't supposed to have doubts like this.

"I-... Isaac..." she finally said, her voice barely above a whisper. The Venus Adept turned to her, and was surprised to find that her expression was not filled with the shock or confusion he had been expecting. Instead, to his astonishment, her eyes overflowed with compassion and understanding. Her very expression seemed to soothe him; he instantly knew there was nobody else who would have had the same reaction to his words. "Do you... not want to finish... this?" she asked slowly, carefully, though Isaac could tell she hadn't asked because she didn't believe what he had just said, or because she was convinced he had to see his journey through to the end. She merely wanted to know.

"It's not that I don't want to," he replied just as softly, and he could have sworn that the corners of Mia's mouth had twitched upwards, very slightly, at those words. "I do. I still want to stop Saturos and Menardi. I still want to... save Jenna." He smiled slightly, fondly. "But... it's not because I love her or anything like that anymore. It's because..." His smile widened. "It's because she's my friend, and I know that she would go to the same lengths to help me out if I was ever in trouble."

It seemed that Mia couldn't help but smile back. Encouraged by her reaction, Isaac kept going, though his smile faded—the words he was about to utter were nothing to smile about by any means.

"That's... not the problem, though," he continued, staring at the grass beneath him. "It's just that... it was different when Garet and I first started this journey. It seemed like this whole thing would be... well, easy."

"Why was that?" Mia asked, cocking her head curiously, and Isaac was suddenly struck by how interested the Mercury Adept was in his troubles. He didn't know why he hadn't noticed it until then, but... she really wanted to know more about what bothered him, to help him out in any way she could. She wasn't simply listening to him. She really... cared about him, about his problems.

Because of that thought, the blond boy found himself momentarily speechless.

"I-... Isaac?" The blue-haired girl's voice, laced with a tinge of concern, broke him out of his reverie. His crystal-blue eyes met hers, and for some reason he didn't fully understand, he immediately blushed scarlet.

"S-sorry," he mumbled abashedly, gazing again into the stream, unable to look at the wonderful, compassionate girl beside him. "I-I was... thinking."

There was a short pause, before Mia responded, quietly, "Don't worry... it's fine." He felt her hand rest softly on his shoulder for the second time and slowly, he looked up. The small smile on her face was filled with such understanding that he thought he might melt. Nobody had ever listened to him like this before.

"Mia..." he murmured. There was something he was dying to tell her, something he had to say. He hadn't wanted to bring it up, had wanted to merely skirt around the issue, but that smile, that wonderful smile of hers let him know that he could say it, that she would understand.

And so, looking at the ground, he swallowed and whispered, "I-I'm... scared, Mia."

For several seconds there was no response from the girl. And Isaac was instantly filled with terror, wondering if perhaps the Mercury Adept was not as understanding as he had once thought. But when he hesitantly looked up at her, she was still smiling that small, strange, peaceful smile. She said nothing, but her eyes begged him to continue, to let everything out to her.

And knowing she would listen, Isaac did just that. His words, the words he had been holding within himself for the past month and a half, were suddenly flying out in a rush. "Look at me," he said, his voice pained. "I'm supposed to be some sort of 'chosen one.' I'm supposed to be the one who'll save the world." The fear was pouring out of him, fear of the terrible burden he was forced to bear even though he knew he could not. "But I'm no hero. I'm no knight, no psynergy master. I'm just a seventeen-year-old boy who happens to be okay with a sword." He frowned. "When Garet and I started this journey, the monsters were so weak that that was enough, we had no trouble. But everything we face keeps getting stronger and stronger, this journey keeps getting harder and harder and I—" He bit his lip, looking away from the girl beside him, who was still listening to him silently, intently. "What if I'm... not strong enough to beat Saturos and Menardi? Or not even them, what if... what if some monster is too strong for me, and... and everything I've done so far has been for nothing?" He turned again to Mia, his expression fearful, but she continued to stare silently at him with that wonderfully understanding expression. "I-I don't..." he whispered, "I don't want that to happen. I don't want to fail; I-I don't... I don't want to die, Mia..."

"Isaac..." Mia finally responded, softly. He was expecting her to say something more, but nothing else came. Instead, what she did next took him completely by surprise: she wrapped her arms around him and drew him into a tight embrace. His eyes immediately snapped open in shock, though it was not because he was uncomfortable with her hugging him. In fact, after pouring his troubles out to her as he had, Isaac couldn't think of any gesture that would be more comforting. Slowly, very slowly, he returned the embrace, so incredibly thankful to the heavens for allowing him to meet such a compassionate girl.

"It's okay," he heard her murmur. It was, perhaps, not the best thing she could have said, but because it was coupled with the fact that she had listened patiently to everything that he had said to her, he couldn't help but believe her words to be true.

"Mia..." he murmured in response, unable to think of anything else to say.

"It's..." She drew away from him, hesitantly, as though part of her did not want to let go. "It's perfectly okay to be afraid, Isaac. I think me, and Garet, and Ivan... we're all afraid of the same thing, too."

"You...think so?" Isaac asked, curious. Somehow, the thought that he was not alone in his fears seemed to make his own easier to bear. But was that really how his companions felt?

"Well..." Mia said softly, her crystal-blue eyes flicking away from his for an instant before returning, "I-I know I am, at least a little..."

Isaac immediately decided that the uncomfortable expression on the Mercury Adept's face did not suit her. "Mia..." he repeated, but once again he found himself at a loss for words. What was he supposed to say? He had been expecting words of comfort from the girl, but now all of a sudden their roles had been reversed.

Mia's discomfort, however, seemed to vanish as quickly as it had come, melting into that compassionate smile Isaac was slowly growing to love. "But the thing is," she said softly, "I try to put it out of my mind as best I can. After all, the chance that things will... turn out badly... is always there, whether I'm thinking about it or not."

"You're... saying I should just forget about it?" the Venus Adept asked slowly. He didn't think that would be possible.

"No, no," Mia responded, though she continued to smile slightly at him with infinite patience. Seeming to read his mind, she added, "I don't think it's possible to forget about it, really. But..." She stared at him for a moment, and then her smile widened. "I know I don't really have to worry about getting seriously hurt in battle... because I have three friends who would do anything to protect me. And... you do too, Isaac." She paused for a moment, seeming to think about something, before she reached out and placed her hand on Isaac's shoulder for the third time, still smiling warmly. "You don't have to worry... because the last thing I—we would ever let happen... is to let our leader fall."

What was it about this girl that left him speechless so easily? Isaac found himself unable to do anything but stare at the girl beside him silently, his mind an utter blank.

Had her words come from Ivan, or Garet, even though the latter had known him for what seemed like forever... he didn't know if he would have believed them. But Mia... Perhaps it was because she spoke with such confidence, or because of that wonderful smile that seemed to push all his troubles away... but he couldn't help but accept her words as the truth. Something in the way she spoke let him know that she—and his other friends, though they didn't seem to matter quite as much at the moment—really would protect him, that he really would see to live the end of this journey... because of her.

He wanted to say something to her, anything that could show her how grateful he was to her for soothing his doubts, but no words he could think of seemed to express that feeling fully. Mia's smile seemed to have entranced him... She looked so utterly beautiful, smiling like that, and Isaac felt a strange feeling stir within him, an emotion he had once thought only Jenna could ever make him feel—

"So here's where you two lovebirds have gotten off to..."

Isaac's daze was broken instantly.

It was Garet who had spoken. Under any other circumstance Isaac could easily recognize his childhood friend's voice, but at that moment his brain didn't seem to process that fact. All he knew was that something had interrupted his conversation with Mia. All he felt was a sudden, inexplicable rush of anger. It was not simply annoyance—Garet seemed to call him and Mia "lovebirds" on a daily basis, so he was used to being annoyed—but a very real, burning rage.

He whirled towards the source of the voice, only to find the tall, red-haired Mars Adept staring at him with a mischievous smirk plastered across his face. "Am I interrupting something?" Garet added slyly, seeming to smirk ever more widely at the sight of Isaac's wrathful expression. "I'll leave if you want me to..."

The sudden rush of anger intensified sharply. Isaac didn't even recognize at whom he was looking; all he wanted to do was throw the strongest psynergy he could at the person who had come between him and this... angel...

He never got a chance to do anything, though, as before he could move a muscle, a large blob of pure water appeared out of thin air over Garet's head and fell, drenching him completely.

As quickly as it had appeared, Isaac's anger was gone, fading into memory. He didn't think about it at all. He just took one look at the soaking-wet Garet and laughed out loud.

Garet's sly grin also vanished instantly. He directed a glare at the Mercury Adept beside Isaac, snapping sarcastically, "Well that was certainly considerate of you, Mia! Now I'm going to have to change." The effect was lost, however, because despite his angry expression, a small smile was also on the Mars Adept's face, one that silently seemed to admit okay, I deserved that.

"Well, you deserved it," came Mia's reply, along with several failed attempts at stifling giggles. Isaac turned to her, and couldn't help but smile at how cute she looked with a mischievous expression on her face. As Garet stomped back towards the fire that indicated the group's small campsite, she caught his eye and grinned back.

And for a moment, neither said a word. They just smiled at each other.

It was only for a moment, though, because Mia soon got up, stretching after sitting down for so long. "Well," she remarked, "we should probably head back to camp; Ivan's probably done preparing dinner and we've got a big day tomorrow."

"Yeah," Isaac agreed, "looks like we'll finally reach Kalay tomorrow." He got up as well, though he was filled with an odd feeling of discontent—he still hadn't thanked Mia properly for listening to everything he had poured out to her. "Mia?" he called, as the girl in question began making her way towards the campsite.

"Hm?" The Mercury Adept turned around, her eyebrows arched in curiosity.

Isaac's response was slow in coming. "Um... thanks," he said softly, awkwardly, his eyes falling to the ground. "For... listening to me." Somehow he thought that his words didn't quite cut it, that they didn't fully express just how grateful he was to her, but it was the best he could do. "I... I've been wanting to talk to someone about this for awhile now, but—"

"You didn't think Garet and Ivan would have understood?" Mia finished for him, taking the words right out of his mouth. Isaac stared at her, which only caused Mia to smile warmly. "You're welcome, Isaac," she said softly, taking a step towards him. "And if... you ever need someone to talk to..." Her smile widened. "... I'll always be here."

And with that, she turned and left, leaving Isaac alone with his thoughts until she turned around and called to him to hurry up.

I hope this chapter has done a sufficient job in setting the background up. However, while Isaac no longer feels anything for Jenna, that doesn't mean she won't be an important player in the story. You'll just have to see what role she plays later... ;)

While this chapter's conversation took place between Isaac and Mia, not every chapter's conversation is going to include the two of them—some might include only one of them, and others might not include either. So if you're looking for a whole bunch of romantic moments between Isaac and Mia, you're not really going to get that. Well, actually, you will, just not ONLY that. Other characters will make several appearances.

But in any case, what do you guys think of my first Golden Sun story? Do you like it? Is everyone in character? Please don't hesitate to point out any problems you see, because I want to make this story the best it can be.

Please review!