This challenge was issued by LINKed up. The pairing is Shelloyd, so if you don't like it...don't read it. It's been a long while since my last straight pairing fic.

I am also happy with the reviews I got! I thought I wrote this badly, I'm glad you guys liked it!

Disclaimers: If I owned this...you don't want to know...Nintendo does. The lame title, you see what happens when Fire Emblem is not at my side?

Warnings: Cursing. Shelloyd pairing. Colette acts hysterical, get ready for it. I think this was a little fast paced! Oi, the ending is so bad! If you took the Kratos route, you'll understand what happened to Shihna and the others. (Laughs) Whoops...

Costly Protection

Finale

After our run in with Volt, we all decided to take a break in Meltokio. Well, actually it was Zelos' idea.

I was too distraught to take in what was happening around me to care. This totally clashed with Zelos' demeanor, as did everyone else's. He seemed a little too happy for his own good, like he didn't care one bit that Lloyd had died.

His 'bud', his 'friend'.

Zelos' attitude seemed to be getting on Raine's nerves, because she reprimanded him many times over on our way to the Imperial City. But he didn't seem to care, usually brushing off her insults with a flick of his wrist.

I even heard him mutter, "Lighten up. It's not the end of the world."

I guess I too would have yelled at him, I would have screamed, but I just didn't care.

As soon as we entered his mansion, I went to the bathroom to get myself out of the bloody clothes I was wearing. Turning the bath water to hot, I quickly slipped inside, submerging myself under the water. I squeezed my eyes shut, trying not to think about the events that had occurred earlier. It was hard, for every time I shut my eyes, the image of Lloyd flashed through my mind. Him laying there, with his sword inside of him.

It took all of my willpower to try and not cry. But the wall that was holding the tears back was beginning to shatter.

Once I had finished that, I decided to go downstairs to the living room. I eyed the white couch and slumped down onto it.

Regal, Genis and Presea had opted to stay back at the tower to take care of Lloyd's body. I couldn't stay, I knew I wouldn't be able to hold my emotions in. Raine decided to accompany Colette over here, who seemed in worse shape than I did.

"Why, Sheena! This sad appearance doesn't fit you!" Zelos plopped himself right next to me, casually trying to put his arm around my shoulder.

"Leave me alone." I spat out. I was in no mood for his joking. He frowned, pulling back his hands into his lap.

"Sheena, come on. How long are you going to stay like this? It's no fun!"

I slowly turned my head to stare at him, seething with anger. That look on his face began to make me even more furious.

It was so apathetic, like he had no care in the world.

I couldn't take it, "What the hell is wrong with you!" I screamed.

Zelos remained unperturbed, nonchalantly replying, "Whatever do you mean?" In a smart-ass tone. I clenched my fists, and I was so ready to knock that grin right of his face. He looked down and let out a simple laugh. "Oh, come now, you aren't really going to hit me, are you?"

"Think again!" Maybe I wasn't being fair, using Zelos as a person to vent on. But he was acting too smug for his own good.

I raised my fist, which caused him to shuffle back on the couch. I slowly dropped them, that sheepish grin on his face reminded me of Lloyd's. I sighed and looked away, staring down at the purple slippers he had given me.

Zelos let out a small laugh, "Figures..." He muttered, whipping out a magazine from under the cushions. I edged further away from him, resting my elbow on the arm of the chair. I put my chin on the open part of my palm, blowing out a breath.

In a few seconds, my vision began to blur. I couldn't help whispering, "Lloyd." a few times. Zelos seemed to have noticed this, because when I muttered that, his eyes slowly rested on me for no more than a few seconds, before they flicked back to that magazine he was so interested in.

Finally, I asked, "What are you reading?"

"Ah! Interested in the great Zelos' life, I see? Well-"

"I'm in no way interested in anything in your life."

"Whoa, Sheena, that was harsh. Can't you at least be nice to me for a little while?"

I resisted the urge just to lash out at him, instead I said, "No. Now what are you reading?"

He paused a few seconds, staring back down at the page. "Forget it, I don't feel like telling you."

The frustration I had began to grow, I growled, wiping the tears from my cheeks.

"Now, it shouldn't be me that you're angry at. Watch out for Colette, I've never seen her so pissed off before."

I stopped mid-sniff, "What?" I asked, startled. Colette...was angry? At me!

"You heard me, my hunny. I don't want a cat-fight erupting in my house. Unless it's over me of course."

Just as he said that, I heard someone coming down the stairs. The sound of soft feet filled my ears. Zelos and I turned to see the very person we were talking about walking over to us.

Quite contrary to Zelos' words, Colette seemed very serene. She had a smile on her face, a smile that seemed to defy all that had happened a few hours before. Her eyes were red, and she was doing a great deal of sniffling.

She took a seat between me and Zelos, placing her hands on her lap. Her white clothes were ruffled, and her collar was wet from her sweating. "I hope I'm not bothering you two..."

"No, not at all, my angel. We were just having the most wonderful conversation!"

The look that played on Colette's face seemed like that of an owl who was about to attack its prey. "That's...very nice to hear. That you two...can have such a conversation." She turned her head, staring at me.

Zelos clamped his mouth shut, uttering a quick, "Sorry."

I couldn't take Colette staring at me like that, and she did it so freely. It was like...it was like...a face a cat would make when a ball of yarn was placed in front of it. Or a face a chicken would make when it was figuring out whether this chick was hers or not.

And this face scared the hell out of me.

"Colette..."

"Yes?" She said instantly, as if she had been waiting for me to say her name.

"I'm sorry..."

"What for? It wasn't your fault." Her tone sounded as if she was straining herself to sound nice.

"Quite the contrary..." Zelos said to himself, flipping a page in the magazine. We both turned to glare at him, but he didn't seem to notice. Or if he did, he didn't care.

"Colette...if I hadn't had been so...stunned...Lloyd wouldn't be like this."

"Like what?" This comment caused both Zelos and I to quickly look at each other. The word, denial, was plastered over his face. She stared forward, glaring at the glass table in front of her. "Oh, you mean dead. Well, it won't matter. I'll be meeting him soon."

"You'll all be." Zelos promptly got to his feet. "Let me get you two some soda." And with that, he disappeared.

"It's okay, Sheena. I understand that Lloyd cared for you. Though, I don't know exactly why he did that..."

I didn't get what Colette was saying, so I just stayed silent.

"I guess you must have been feeling really special, when he got in front of that blast for you. I have to admit that I felt a pang of jealousy when he did that. But I was happy..."

"..."

"...I was certainly not happy...when..." Colette paused, covering her face. "When I saw his sword break..." Her body shook as she said that, but then she removed her hand from her face. She was all serious now. "Watching...everything happened in slow motion...I could not believe for one second that..."

Zelos came back, holding two Orange Soda cans. He handed one to me and the other to Colette. She refused, but I took it. I needed something else to concentrate on.

"I thought he would call me over. You don't know how angry I felt when he kissed you. He.Kissed. You. Lloyd didn't even look at me. And we've known each other forever!" Colette took a deep breath and took the time to gaze into my eyes. I blinked a couple of times, but she just kept her gaze. "And then he died."

She then shifted her gaze to her bandaged hand, signaling that she was done with what she had to say.

"I am going out..." We heard someone say. But we didn't have to look to see who it was. Raine's voice was soft, and a little scratchy. She waddled over to the front entrance and left immediately.

Zelos snapped his fingers, telling his butler to keep a close eye on the Professor.

"I feel empty..." For a second there, Colette sounded like Presea.

Zelos grunted, "You two should rest."

"No...I feel all right. What about you, Zelos? You seem pretty stable."

"Bah, I've had enough tragedy in my life that I'm practically immune to it. Though, I may not be a Kratos or Yggdrasill."

I couldn't help but roll my eyes, he has got to be lying. Tragedy? What tragedy!

Zelos noticed this, and narrowed his eyes. Though, he didn't say a thing.

"I think I...I hate you..."

Zelos, who had been taking a sip of Colette's soda, coughed the drink back up. Which stained the regal carpet. "I think this death is getting to your head."

"It's your fault..." She pointed at me, getting to her feet. "It's your fault I feel empty! It's your fault why Professor Raine was saying scary things. It's your fault that Lloyd died! Because of you! And you can't show any compassion!"

Putting down my drink, I squinted my eyes, she was acting hysterical now. Colette was behaving like Yggdrasill, I swear it...

"I hate you, Sheena Fujibayashi! I hate you! You killed Lloyd!"

"No! I didn't!" Was all I could say, but this did nothing to soften Colette's behavior. In fact, I think it even made her madder.

The angel balled up her fist, which kind of scared me. She was quite strong. Zelos seemed a bit disturbed, he was blinking constantly, like he was possessed or something.

"Colette, why don't you just calm down?" But she ignored him, shuffling closer to me.

I stood, the tears had broken the already fragile dam that had been holding them back. "Colette...please don't say things like this."

To lose a friend was one thing, but to have one turn on you was another. I felt horrible, but I knew it was not entirely my fault. Lloyd had protected me on his own accord, but I was still, somehow, responsible for his actions. If I had not had just stood there, like a bloody fool, he still would be alive.

Just like before, if only I were brighter, most of the citizens of Mizuho would still live. But then again, I would not have met Lloyd...

Things always happen for a reason.

When I came back from my trance, Zelos was holding Colette back by gripping her arms. He didn't really seem to be trying though.

"No! I want her to feel the pain I'm feeling right now!"

I bit my lip hard, causing it to bleed, "Colette!" I cried back. "You don't think I feel horrible right now! I feel like shit for knowing that I am partially responsible for what happened back there! How can you even say that right now?"

Colette narrowed her red eyes, letting out a scream of what I think was indignation. In one quick motion, she shoved Zelos off her, which made him land full force on the glass table, and lunged at me. I dodged to my left, watching her trip over my leg that was in the way.

She laid there on the floor, sitting on her own legs. Colette seemed as though she were thinking deeply.

"Damn it..." Zelos muttered, rolling off the table, which had broken in half, the glass had also shattered.

I was still sitting on the couch, with my legs pulled in, watching the blonde closely.

"I'm sorry," Was what I heard her utter. She shifted on her legs to stare at me. "I'm sorry! I don't know what came over me!"

"Should you be apologizing to her or me? I swear I get no respect from this damn party of losers, whatsoever." Zelos growled, glowering at Colette. He got up, groaning, and made his way upstairs, with one hand on his back.

We just sat there, with our eyes fixed on each other. I didn't know when it happened, and I bet she didn't either. But one second we were far apart from each other, and the next, we were both hugging.

I let my tears flow freely, without trying to hold them back. Colette did the same.

"Sheena..."

"Colette..."

"I'm so sorry. It-it's just that...I can't imagine going on without Lloyd. I don't think I can go on without him."

I would have agreed, but I remembered the promise, "Colette, before Lloyd died...he said to me; 'Please stay alive. Don't...let my efforts go to waste...the only right thing I did in my life.' We have to honor those words. Both of us..."

She pulled away, running her fingers shakily through her hair. "Yes...but it will be hard."

"...but as long as we have our friends..."

"And each other...we can always go on..."

"That was corny. You two have got to stop listening to J-pop." Was simply what Zelos had said, jumping down the flights of stairs. He eyed us, "Now, are you going to help me clean up this mess?"

Colette gasped, "Are you hurt!"

"Do I look hurt?"

The truth was, as I learned a little later in the evening, Zelos actually did get hurt when he landed on the glass. He had just gone upstairs to use Healing Stream on himself.

By the time we had finished cleaning up, Raine came back, drunk. Along with Zelos' butler...whose name I have forgotten...he was also drunk.

Regal and the others returned, not telling us what they had done with the body.

Genis was just like Colette, minus the rabid behavior. He locked himself up, along with his drunk sister, in the guest room.

Regal and Presea, just like Zelos, remained unflustered by the events. They said it only strengthened their resolve to defeat Mithos.

Overtime, everything seemed to go back to normal. Zelos fulfilled the role of being Lloyd, by acting like a dumb ass. But there was something peculiar about his actions, and the way he talked that frightened me. Or at least, gave off bad vibes. It may have just been because how he referred to us in the past tense, and how untalkative he seemed.

Colette said she forgave me, but I knew that was a lie. I tried to make her happy, I talked to her a lot, but I knew we could never have the same friendship we had before.

Genis and Raine did act somber half the time, but they were still very useful, since we had to fight ten times harder.

We all agreed after our journey, we would give Lloyd a proper burial in Iselia.

However, Zelos began behaving as if he wouldn't be around any more to join.

Maybe I was wrong, he may have been sad over Lloyd's death but he just didn't show it. Or maybe I was wrong about being wrong. I didn't have a chance to ask him, because he told us he was going to look for Kratos and tell him what happened.

How? I still wonder...

I never did have enough time to ask him, because our next stop was Tethe'alla Base.

Perhaps I would find out later in our quest exactly what Zelos was implying...

But he didn't concern me too much, because something in my heart told me whatever happened, would happen.

But I was happy that one day, I would be able to see Lloyd's beautiful face again.

What I did not know was that day was fast approaching...

And that dark rider I had been seeing in my dreams after Lloyd's demise, I finally realized he was coming for me...


(rolls eyes) I still need to work on my endings. Then again, this only took me a few hours to write.

Pssh, Yeah, Zelos is an ass, eh?

Well, how did you like it? Sad? Stupid? Corny? I'm glad I was able to add Zelos in more. And I know! Colette was uber-OOC. But you know, if she did lose Lloyd, she would act hysterical.

Please R and R!