Author's Rant: Hey, guess what? I have decided to write yet ANOTHER STORY! This is an extended one-shot telling my interpretation of how Kratos returned to Symphonia and was reunited with Lloyd. Break out the hankies!

Disclaimer: I do not own ToS or any of its characters. They belong to Namco. BUT SOMEDAY I WILL BUY THE RIGHTS TO TOS OFF EBAY! Okay…maybe not. But I can dream, right?

A Father's Love

Kratos walked along the endless halls of Derris Kharlan for the hundredth time. This planet had been his home for six months. But these past six months had felt like an eternity, because he was alone. Alone on a planet that only brought back painful memories and constantly reminded him of his curse to bear the responsibility for all the harm that Cruxis had inflicted on the world. He never wanted it to come to this. Given the choice, he would have stayed on the newly-reunited world with his son to start a new life. But, being the last surviving member of Cruxis, he had to bear the responsibility of making sure Derris-Kharlan never threatened the world again. Yuan was still alive, but he also had to lead the Renegades.

Kratos remembered seeing Lloyd's agonized expression just before he left. That image was burned into his memory forever. He could see the tears pooling in Lloyd's eyes, but he wouldn't let them fall. He wouldn't show any sign of weakness in front of his father, who had already endured so much pain. Instead, he used the Eternal Sword to send Kratos and Derris-Kharlan away from Symphonia. He knew Lloyd didn't understand. 'I wish you could have seen, Lloyd. I did it all for you.' Kratos paused at a window and stared out into the inky blackness of space. What he regretted the most was that he never told his son that he loved him. Kratos felt a lump rise in his throat as his vision blurred from unshed tears. He just wanted one more chance. 'Anna…I'm sorry. I know this isn't what you wanted. You wanted me to be a father to Lloyd. But instead, I'm stuck on a cursed planet in the middle of space.'

How he missed the sun! Kratos had not seen a blue sky in six months. He would have even been happy with a cloudy or stormy sky. Anything other than the endless gloom of Derris-Kharlan! He wanted to see the endless grassy plains around Luin, the sandy deserts of Triet, the mountains of Asgard, and the forests of Iselia! He would have given anything to lie on a grassy hill and feel the warmth of the sun on his face, even for a few seconds. But that time was past.

Just then Kratos' keen angel hearing picked up the sound of a control panel beeping. Sighing, Kratos sprouted his wings and flew to the nearest control panel that monitored the planet's movement. He looked out the viewing screen and nearly fainted. Symphonia loomed in the distance. 'How is this possible?' Kratos thought. Was Martel trying to tell him something?

He could almost hear Anna's voice saying, "What are you waiting for, you idiot? Go back and see our son!"

Kratos smiled. Maybe it was time to end his exile. But how would he keep Derris-Kharlan away from Symphonia? He punched a few keys on the control panel and pulled up a star map. He was approaching Symphonia at such an angle that he could use the planet's own gravity to sling-shot Derris-Kharlan back out into space. 'I must have gotten turned around when Derris-Kharlan got caught in that other planet's gravity.' There were no planets in this new direction. Derris-Kharlan would keep traveling away from Symphonia forever. That meant that Kratos had only one chance to go back. "I have been away long enough," Kratos said resolutely. "It's time to go home."

He flew back to his room and hastily stuffed what few belongings he had, as well as some food and water, into a pack and returned to the control room. He plotted the coordinates for Derris-Kharlan into the nav-computer and activated a transporter to teleport him down to Symphonia. 'Based on my current location, the closest place to Iselia I can teleport to is the Triet Desert. It will have to do.' Kratos waited until Derris-Kharlan was close enough to Symphonia and was ready to sling-shot out into space. Then he stepped into the transporter, bidding the cursed planet a fond farewell. Everything went black for a few seconds. When Kratos' vision cleared, he found himself in the middle of the Triet Desert. 'I'm back,' Kratos thought with satisfaction. He closed his eyes and tipped his head up to feel the warmth of the sun. 'It's been far too long since I've felt the sun.' How he had missed seeing those beautiful blue skies! 'I will see you soon, Lloyd.' Mindful of his son, Kratos immediately started heading north to Iselia.

He continued walking all day, pausing only briefly for a small meal, until he came to Iselia late that evening. Despite moving rapidly all day, Kratos only suffered a little fatigue. As he approached the town entrance, Kratos said to himself, "It is dangerous to traverse the forest at night. I will rest here and continue tomorrow. Besides, some friends of mine live in this village. I would like to see them again."

The guards at the entrance let Kratos in without any trouble. He walked along one of main walkways of the peaceful town, until he ran into an elderly man. "Oh dear me, I did not mean to--wait. Kratos? Is that you?" the old man asked in disbelief.

"It is good to see you again, Frank," Kratos replied, shaking the man's hand.

"Oh, where are my manners? Please, come to my house and rest!" Frank offered, leading the way back to his house before Kratos could tell him otherwise. "Collette will be delighted to see you as well. Have you seen Lloyd yet?"

"I only just arrived in Iselia. I will go to Dirk's house tomorrow morning," Kratos answered.

"I see. In that case, you may spend the night at my house," Frank said, stopping in front of the door to his house and letting Kratos inside. "Phaidra! Collette! We have a visitor!"

An elderly woman, Frank's wife, got up from her seat at a table and came to greet him. "Kratos! It's so good to see you again!"

Another voice from the left, Collette's voice, caught everyone's attention next. "Kratos! I can't believe you're back!" she exclaimed as she hurried down the stairs…and promptly tripped. "Hehehe…oops. Lloyd will be so happy to see you again."

"Please sit down," Phaidra offered. "I will bring some refreshments." Before Kratos could object, she disappeared into the kitchen, humming softly to herself.

Frank, Kratos, and Collette sat around the dining table. "Frank, what has happened since I've been gone?" Kratos asked.

"Well, we have had to do a lot of rebuilding since Mithos was defeated. Palmacosta, Thoda Geyser, and Ozette have all been reconstructed," Frank explained. "Collette went on a six-month journey with Lloyd after you left. They managed to find all the remaining Exspheres and make sure that no more would be made. Raine and Genis left to try and convince people to stop discriminating against half-elves. I got a letter from Raine recently saying that things were going well, and they hope to return in the next few days. As for your friends from Tethe'alla, I have no idea what they're up to."

"Oh, I know about them!" Collette exclaimed. "Sheena went back to Mizuho and is the new chief of the village. Presea works for Regal at the Lezareno Company. They both did a lot to help with reconstruction. And Zelos went back to Meltokio."

"Have you heard anything from Yuan?" Kratos asked.

"Nope. Lloyd and I never ran into him or the Renegades," Collette said.

Just then Phaidra returned with hot tea and cookies. "Here are some refreshments. Eat as much as you like." Kratos ate one cookie to be polite and sipped his tea thoughtfully. "You must be tired. Collette and I will make sure you get settled in for the night."

"Yeah! You can stay in the guest bedroom," Collette said. She left to grab some extra blankets from the closet while Phaidra showed Kratos his room. After thanking them for their hospitality, Kratos closed the door so he wouldn't be disturbed. He unbuckled his sword from its sheath and propped it up against the wall so it would be easy to access in an emergency. He also took off his cape and hung it on the bedpost. He finally crawled under the covers and allowed his body a few hours of sleep.

The next morning Kratos woke feeling much refreshed. Phaidra made sure he ate a good breakfast before he left. Collette said she would stop by Dirk's house later that afternoon. He kept his senses on high alert as he passed through Iselia Forest. Sure enough, there were a few monsters, but he took them down easily. These weakling opponents were child's play compared to the battles Kratos had endured while traveling with Lloyd. He reached the outskirts of the forest by mid-morning and saw a familiar little wooden house nestled in the middle of a patch of trees. A simple log bridge passed over the creek in front of the house.

As he stood regarding the house from behind a stand of trees, Kratos couldn't help but wonder how Lloyd would react to seeing him again. 'Will he still care about me? Will he even accept me? I know I have done a terrible job as a father, so I can understand his anger. He is probably still angry with me for leaving so soon after he reunited the worlds.' Nevertheless, Kratos knew that he had to see his son again, regardless of whether Lloyd still saw him as a father figure. And so Kratos walked across the bridge toward the house.

Kratos saw Noishe in his pen under the balcony. He remembered all the adventures he had experienced with that dog. No matter how rough things were, Noishe had always managed to cheer him up. Noishe spotted Kratos and started barking happily and jumping up and down with excitement. Before Kratos could tell the protozoan to pipe down, he heard a familiar voice inside the house.

"What is it, Noishe?" a voice asked as the door opened. Lloyd looked outside and froze. There, standing in front of him, was his father. "Da…Kratos?" Lloyd asked in disbelief. "Is that really you?"

Kratos couldn't tell if Lloyd was happy to see him or not. He feared that the boy was more horrified than anything. "Lloyd…I…know I have a lot to explain, but—" Kratos couldn't finish his sentence, because Lloyd ran to his father and hugged him tightly, as if he never wanted to let go.

"Dad…I never thought I would see you again," Lloyd murmured, his face buried in Kratos' chest. "I missed you so much!"

Kratos returned Lloyd's embrace and held him tightly. "I have missed you too. I love you so much, my son."

"I love you too, Dad," Lloyd replied. Then he started crying for sheer joy. "Please say you're here to stay."

"Yes, Lloyd, I promise that I won't leave you ever again," Kratos vowed, tightening his grip slightly as Lloyd cried his heart out on his shoulder. For a few moments, it seemed to Kratos that Lloyd was no longer a young man at nineteen but his three-year-old toddler again, crying for his daddy. Those cherished memories brought tears to his eyes. But he wasn't a toddler anymore. Lloyd had grown so much in the years that Kratos had been gone. He was now the hero responsible for bringing the two worlds back together. Kratos couldn't have been prouder of his son. Now all he wanted was a chance to reclaim some of those years he had lost. He just wanted to be Lloyd's father again, without worrying about Mithos or Cruxis or the World Regeneration getting in the way.

When Lloyd finally stopped crying he pulled away and exclaimed, "Wait 'til the others hear about this!"

Just then Noishe took this opportunity to knock Kratos to the ground and lick his face. "Noishe! Get off me!" Kratos exclaimed. Noishe had his front paws on Kratos' chest, pinning him to the ground. Lloyd managed to shove him off, but Noishe just gave Kratos a big doggy grin and jumped up and down in place, barking happily. Kratos got to his feet and brushed himself off. "I see you have not changed a bit, Noishe." He smiled as he scratched Noishe behind the ears. "I am glad to see you again, old friend. Thank you for taking care of Lloyd while I was gone."

"What's all the ruckus out here?" another voice asked. A stout dwarf came out of the house and quickly appraised the situation. "Ah, I see yer father's returned," he said in his usual dwarvish accent. "It's good to see ye again, Kratos."

"It's good to be back, Dirk," Kratos replied. They all headed inside so each one could explain what he had been up to in the past six months. Dirk immediately offered to let Kratos stay with them.

"I'm sorry we don't have much room. You'll have to share a room with Lloyd, if that's okay," Dirk said.

"I have no objections," Kratos replied.

That evening Kratos noticed that Lloyd wasn't in his room. There was only one other place he knew his son would be. Kratos walked out onto the balcony adjoining Lloyd's room and, sure enough, there he was, gazing at the stars. "Lloyd?"

"Oh, hey Kratos. I was just looking at the stars. I still remember how, when I was little, we would spend hours almost every night just looking at the stars. It's one of the few things I actually remember about my childhood."

Kratos stood beside Lloyd on the railing. "I remember those nights as well. Whenever you had trouble sleeping I would carry you outside and sit on a hill. I would tell you stories about the stars, and you would always fall fast asleep."

"Da…Kratos, I'm really glad you're back," Lloyd said, smiling at his father.

"You can call me Dad if you want," Kratos said.

Lloyd's eyes widened. "You really mean that?" Kratos nodded in reply. He was shocked. Kratos never used to actually want the title of Dad after he rejoined Lloyd for the final battle against Mithos. Lloyd surprised him by engulfing him in a big bear hug. "Thanks…Dad." He didn't care what the future held, good or bad. For now he was just happy to be safe in his father's arms.

Fresh tears welled up in Kratos' eyes as he returned the embrace. He had missed being called "Dad."


Author's Note: So how'd you guys like it? Just so you know, this is NOT INCEST! It's just father-son love. Please read and review!