Forever Strong: The Unbroken Promise

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Summary: It's been sixteen years since her husband's untimely death, and Sheena comes to realize the one she lost was never really gone at all.

Spoilers: For the game and the previous Sheelos fics I have written.

A/N: Ehehe... remember that little 'bottle-cap fic' I mentioned at the end of Never and Forever? Well, I got started on it, and it was just such a pleasure to write, that it kinda turned into this big... thing. There'll be three chapters to it, then I can finally put an end to this on-going Sheelos saga, so it is STRICTLY Sheelos from here on out.

Hmm, now that I think about it, this story might get so sappy that if someone tried to push it off a cliff, it'd stick. (WTF was that? I need to find new comic relief...)

Post-note: After looking over this, it hit me that Sheena has purple hair, not black. I don't know how I missed that, but either way, I can imagine Jay-Arr better with black hair than purple. I'm no genealogy expert, but if two browns can have blonde or two blacks a blonde, then a red and a purple can have a black... right?

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Mmm... licorice... I love licorice... Licorice, licorice, lico—"Zelos! Get your butt out of bed right now!"

Rinn, our hundred-fifty pound retriever, yawns lazily as I pull the covers over my head for the third time this morning, failing to notice the choice of name mother uses. I just want to get back to that dream about licorice... "It is!"

She didn't like that response, "Don't you try and smart talk me, now get out of bed!"

"I am!" I yell back as I lay on the floor, pillow, sheets and all, so I'm 'technically' out of bed. All is silent for a while, so I call it safe to go back to sleep...

Lucky Lesson Five: Nothing is safe when mom's angry.

The next thing I know, I'm being dragged down the stairs by the sheets I'm entangled in. Before mom can make it outside and summon that crazy-arctic lady with her whacked out hound, I spring from the covers, exclaiming: "I'm up, I'm up!"

"Good," she retorts, wrapping the excess blankets around her arm, and then vehemently throwing them to me, "Now put this away and make yourself presentable. I've let you sleep in for the past hour or so. Obviously that was a mistake..." she growls as she returns downstairs.

Grudgingly, I comply. What's so special about today? Goddess knows she'd slap me if she had heard that... maybe that's why I forget so much... In any case, this day every year she always does something weird—err, no, never that, more of 'out of the ordinary', yeah, that's it. Last year she traveled to Heimdell, or to the Torrent Forest really, saying she had to see someone about something with the past, and the year before that she took a route that she had taken on one of her journeys...

...with Dad... Yeah, now I remember. Today's the day the backstabbing jerk died on her, exactly sixteen years ago. I don't see why she gets so somber about it, I mean, he's dead and there's nothing anyone can do about that. Besides, he betrayed her and everyone she was with at the time, that's what I've heard.

So why did she choose him? Why am I his son?

I take a quick glance in the mirror, realizing mom was right: I'm a mess. My long, black hair's sprouting out of my head at just about every angle possible, and I really don't believe jeans and an undershirt go in the category of 'formal'. Hastily, I change into the first thing I could grab from my closet while running a comb through my hair: a red and gold vest-cloak and black pants to match, works for me.

Still working the button-latches of the vest-cloak, I grab the remainder of my snack last night, a half eaten apple, and slide down the railing. Even mom compliments my speed, then however, grimaces at the night old apple stuffed in my mouth, sighing something around the lines of: "Boys will be boys..."

I shrug, temporarily removing the apple from my mouth to counter, "And what will be, will be."

Usually she can find a comeback to most anything I, or anyone else for that matter, can conjure. This, however, leaves her speechless, literally; all she does is turn and gape at me. After some time, she choked out: "What... did you say... Zelos?" she graced my name as if it were some lost, archaic, miraculous spell.

Freaky. "What will be... will be." I repeat in almost a questioning tone, had I said something I shouldn't have? "Wh-why? What's with that look? Should I not say that, or some'nn?" I blurt, since her gawking is really starting to creep me out.

She takes a deep breath, and for a moment, it looks like her eyes are filled with tears—tears filled to the brim with various emotions I'd never seen her even nick the surface of. As she releases it though, the warm but chiding glow returns to her eyes as she softly says, "No... you should say it more often, Jay-Arr..."

Lucky Lesson Three: When clueless, just smile and nod.

She turns to head for the door, I whistle for Rinn, who comes bounding down the flight of stairs with the elegance and grace of a boulder; a thin trail of slobber hangs from his mouth. Without even a glance towards me, he rushes past and tackles Mom from behind. She didn't have a prayer.

"Oh my Godd—" she gasps before he pins her completely. Between being drooled over and licked, mom manages: "Rinn! Off! Off, you big oaf!"

Tail wagging, he steps off, still smiling his stupid grin. Wiping the dog saliva from her face, she glares daggers at me. "Did you tell him where we're going?"

I hold up my hands in defense, "In all honesty, I don't even know where we're going, otherwise, I would have." I look over to Rinn, whose swinging tail at this point has the destructive power of a wrecking ball, "But judging by his crazier than normal look, I'd say we're going to Uncle Lloyd and Aunt Colette's house?"

At the slightest mention of them, Rinn goes ape—err, again—and mom barely avoids another attack. "C'mon, mutt! You're seventy dog years old, crack a hip already!"

"Alright, you can come. Settle down, you behemoth!" I say, pulling him away from her. She stands up, wiping the dirt from her clothes. "Soo, we are going there?" I ask to confirm, being careful as not to say where exactly.

"Yeah," she replies.

Before I can stop myself, I say, "But what about the anniversary? Are you—" she freezes, I've done it. I've said something I shouldn't have. To my surprise, she coldly says: "Go on..."

I really don't want to; I do anyway. "...going to dump me at their place... again?"

Her eyes soften, as does her voice. "You... remember that far back?"

I try to speak, to say something in my own defense, but all I can do is nod meekly. Nevertheless, she answers my question: "No... This time you're coming with me."

We stand there in silence, the murmur of a busy city but milieu fuzz to us. Finally, she says, "Well, c'mon. I'll let you drive this time; someone needs to cover Rinn's eyes so he doesn't puke... again."

"Seriously? I get to drive the Rheaird!"

"This time, and only because I know you know where you're going."