Just a day
Just an ordinary day
Just trying to get by
Just a boy
Just an ordinary boy
But he was looking to the sky
And as he asked if I would come along
I started to realise
That everyday he finds just what he's looking for
Like a shooting star
And he says
Take my hands
Live while you can
If we walk now
We will divide and conquer this land
Vanessa Carlton – Ordinary Day
"Lloyd! How do you spell "exterminated"?"
"How should I know? You're the one who paid attention in Raine's class!"
Colette Brunel chewed thoughtfully on the end of her pen, scribbling down a word then crossing it out and rewriting it only to stare at it for several moments before rubbing it out. She eventually sighed and wrote "killed".
Glancing up, her wide azure eyes focused on the young man sword training before her. At the age of twenty-two, he was a fine specimen of a man. Intense chestnut eyes frowned beneath a heavy brow beaded in sweat. His chocolate tresses were pulled back into a short ponytail, which clung to the moisture coating the back of his strong neck. His tall lithe frame boasted impressive back muscles, tensing and relaxing as he swung the massive twin blades around as though they were cardboard. A white vest stuck possessively to his pecks and abs as they flexed. Slowly, he lowered the large swords to the ground before stretching like a cat. Colette leapt from her seat on the floor and handed him a towel. Lloyd smiled and dabbed his neck and collar bone with the blue rag.
"So what did you write?" He asked breathlessly.
Colette retrieved her notebook and pen and read aloud the thoughts she had scribbled loosely. "Dear Raine, Lloyd and I are getting on just fine, thanks for asking. We had a run in with that man Lloyd keeps referring to as a "pretentious racist butt-muncher"-"
Lloyd interrupted her by placing a hand on the pad. "Umm, can we leave that out? I don't think Raine would really…uh…appreciate that" Colette stared at him with those innocent wide eyes and shrugged.
"Okay I'll take it out….anyway…uh….oh yeah," She exclaimed as she found her place again. "We had a run in with that man-" She glanced up sheepishly at the young warrior "-that Lloyd doesn't like- and it turns out he had formed a posse who had been going around killing people and stealing their exspheres. We had a fight and Lloyd used that new move I told you about in my last letter" Colette had pulled a small section of hair around her finger and was twirling it absentmindedly. Lloyd smiled fondly, watching her. "Anyway, we beat them and the authorities in Palmacosta arrested them. It seems that people are resorting to violence to get their hands on exspheres now that the Angelus Project has collapsed and the Lezareno Company has stopped mining them. Lloyd says it will pass and everyone will appreciate the peace that will surely follow. I hope that no one else has to be killed for any one else's gain ever again"
Colette smiled as she finished off her last sentence "How was that?"
Lloyd smiled. "I think Raine would like to hear some good news, she's having trouble with the Desians"
The young woman's face melted into a pout. "I know, I'm afraid for her and Genis. I wish we could all be back together again."
"We will be, one day" he assured her as he folded the towel back up. A thought occurred to him as his belly made angry protests. "Hey Colette, how does dinner sound?"
The blonde young girl smiled "I can make fish pie?" She offered, looking to Lloyd for encouragement. It seemed to be the only dish she could make, but Lloyd simply smiled.
"Sounds good to me" He said enthusiastically, bending down to pick up his swords. As he straightened up he watched Colette bound over to the small campfire they'd been using for the past two days. Her hair had grown and now reached her knees. She tied it back in a long braid, which swished around her mid thighs. The five years since their grand adventure to save the world had stimulated many changes in her appearance; no longer the flat-chested, clumsy little girl she had been; she was now a shapely woman. She wore a blue tunic which stopped a few inches above her knees, long white boots and sheaths for holding her chakrams. She was still his little Colette, the one he vowed to protect and worked to defend. Yet sometimes he had to step back and realise that she was indeed a woman. She was a very beautiful woman.
Lloyd felt the familiar sensations manifest themselves when he was in her presence; his heart pumping, fast and steady, his skin hyper sensitive and butterflies dancing gently around his stomach. Around Colette, Lloyd had always felt happy and at peace, but over the past few years, he'd become more aware of other feelings he'd always tried to push aside.
Colette looked up at him with her innocently beautiful blue eyes and smiled. "Lloyd? Could you help me gut the fish?"
Lloyd, who had been standing, arms-folded watching her with a small appreciative smile lighting his features, disentangled himself and strode over to their little campfire. Taking the knife gently from her soft fingers, he nudged her over playfully. The open expression on her pale features made him smile warmly.
"Why don't you go make the pastry" He said turning his attention to the small fish in his large hand. "I'll deal with this little guy"
Colette smiled brightly, before rummaging though her backpack for the ingredients. Lloyd tried to concentrate on carving up the piece of food before him, but couldn't help feeling distracted. On a break from visiting "Old Sylvarant's" major towns and cities, he and Colette had been raiding some of the derelict out of commission Desian ranches. It was depressing work. Many Desians still held them as their own, knowing that outside those liberated would be quick to seek revenge. They were desperate and violent, but the horde of exspheres Lloyd and Colette found there were well worth it. Now and again they would realise they had been preceded by Raine and Genis as the fortifications had been torn down and replaced by houses and farms. What had seemed like an impossible task for the brother and sister, achieved some staggering results from their fellow half elves. This of course made their job easier.
However most of the time, it was the humans, not the Desians who caused them most trouble. The halt of production in Desian ranches, and the change in direction of the Lezareno Company's production, among other mining companies, meant that exspheres were becoming few and far between. Therefore, many unscrupulous characters horded them and created a black market in the abhorrent things. Sometimes when the true identity of an exsphere was revealed, certain people's morals kicked in and the matter could be resolved peacefully. More often than not, unfortunately, they had to play rough.
Thus, Lloyd and Colette fought and fought and fought. The noble adventure had gradually become a soul-destroying sentence. The only thing that kept Lloyd afloat was his ever present companion. His eyes were drawn to her as she added little bits of this and that to a large mixing bowl. Her gentle brow was knitted in concentration and her little pink tongue poked out ever so slightly. With one floury hand, she wiped her brow with its back. Lloyd blushed when she glanced up to catch him staring.
"Lloyd, are you alright?" She asked softly, pausing in mid-action. Lloyd smiled at the little fish.
"Yeah, I'm fine Colette" She watched him doubtfully. "How's the, uh, pastry coming along?" He asked studying the bowl in an effort to change the subject. As usual it worked perfectly.
"Oh its okay, but I can't seem to kneed the flour in properly, I might have used too much!" She grinned apologetically. Lloyd rolled his eyes in mock annoyance and, setting the fish down on a rock at his side, he wiped his hands off and sat right beside her.
Colette could feel a slight blush rise to her cheeks, as he cupped his larger hands about hers, gently coaxing her fingers to move through the mixture. She couldn't help but feel all the blood rush to her head at this close contact. She could smell him; soap and clean sweat, fresh grass and a very slight odour of fish, but most of all that little scent that was his and only his. She longed to stay near him and smell the unique concoction for the rest of her life; silly though it might sound. They had plenty of chances to be close like this, sometimes if they were camping they'd have to sleep huddled against one another for instance. However it had never become a totally ordinary or customary thing to her. Very often she got little more than a couple of hours sleep. She'd lie awake imagining his strong arms about her as they lay in the Sunday morning sunlight, listening to each other's breathing. Together in marriage, content and satisfied in a little cottage they built themselves in the outskirts of Iselia. But then he'd move slightly and the illusion would be broken. She wondered if it was wrong to think of Lloyd like that; if it was taking advantage of their friendship. He had given her reason and right to keep living. She didn't have to be a vessel; a meaningless person with an ambition that wasn't her own, or a tool to be used by others to placate their fears. He stood in the face of all that they knew to be sacred and holy and dared to defy it-for her. He had the courage to question the mysterious rite and expose it for what it was. She owed him her life and would do anything for him-anything. It was selfish of her to expect anything more.
Colette blushed brightly when she realised she had spaced out for a few moments. Lloyd had picked up his fish again and was watching her quietly as he gently scaled it. Her fingers worked of their own accord, gently teasing the dough. There fell a friendly silence between them. Colette's expression slowly became one of thoughtfulness as her mind turned to other things. She stared at the bowl in her grasp.
"Lloyd?" Her voice was small but confident. "Do you think we'll ever be able to do this?"
The young man looked up, his brown eyes full of mute surprise. Slowly, he met her gaze with one of weariness; the kind known only in battle. He sighed heavily. "Colette, I…I wish I knew"
The girl stared down at the ground thoughtfully again. As though clearing her mind, she shook the hair out of her eyes and continued kneading the dough. Lloyd went back to gutting his fish, depressed but unable to stop a small smile when he heard Colette's soft humming. Glancing up with misty eyes, he felt his heart beat that little bit faster.
Caifa was a small, poor village. It had once been a flourishing farming society, but since the mana links had been severed their whole way of life died in a matter of days. Now, not even with the Great Mana tree restored, did life ever really get back to normal. Most left the impoverished village and moved to the now restored Luin. However Caifa now had a reputation as a halfway house for thieves, murders and black-market exsphere dealers. Just perfect for Lloyd and Colette.
Lloyd drew one sword, the implied threat subtle, but noted all the same. "We're here to take those exspheres off your hands." His voice was low and controlled.
The large bulky man, the head of the ruling gang, turned his massive shoulder and gave Lloyd nothing more than a flippant glance. The young man's blood boiled beneath his skin. His chocolate mane moved silently in the light hot breeze.
"I said-" Lloyd lowered his blade, scraping it softly on the earthen road. "We'll take those exspheres"
Colette twitched silently in her boots, chakrams at her side. The gang standing before them stiffened, sniggering and jeering. They were known as the "Boys" and their reputation preceded them. Caifa was their HQ and the tall hulk of man turning his back on Lloyd, was named "Manfred". Rumoured to have had as many wives as men he had killed, he was a fearsome character; Lloyd and Colette had faced worse.
Lloyd slowly drew his second sword, lowering it to match its partner, he narrowed his brows. "Will you give them to us? Or will we have to take them?"
A loud guffaw escaped the group of ruffians gathered around. What could some boy and his little girlfriend do? Manfred turned his massive bulk slowly, squaring off. "I appreciate your guts son, but it's not worth it."
Ignoring the threat, Lloyd smiled wryly. It was the same story wherever they went; another buffoon who had underestimated them. "You know what the exspheres really are, don't you?"
There was a collective mumble, Manfred smiled lewdly. "Means justifies the end, kid. But that's beside the point-do you really think you're enough to handle us? You go ahead and try"
Colette, spread herself into a fighting stance. "I'm sorry you feel that way" She said firmly, but sweetly. "But we're going to have to take them anyway"
Lloyd let out a cry as he charged Manfred. The massive man spread his feet, looking as though he were digging himself in. Lloyd crossed his blades and swung them apart with the precise accuracy intended to create an "X" shaped scar across the man's chest. However before the blades could connect with his flesh, Manfred caught the tapered metal in his bear-like hands. The young swordsman cursed under his breath as he fought to free his weapons. Reaching a stalemate both leapt backwards. Lloyd's wilful mouth turned into a smug smile as he dove to one side. Before Manfred had time to react, rings of light slashed across his body, tearing at his clothes and skin.
"Angel Feathers!" Glancing up as smoke rose from his body, Manfred noticed the little girl he'd so rudely ignored reclaim her chakrams from the air. He smiled without mirth.
"Clever, clever," He straightened up and dusted himself off. "I see, so you're the little Chosen I've heard so much about. You've been quite the nuisance to some of my business associates." His merry band sniggered under their breath. Wiping some blood from the front of his shirt, Manfred rose to his full height. "We won't be underestimating you again."
With a loud cry, the gang unsheathed their weapons. Lloyd gritted his teeth. He'd hoped it wouldn't have come to this. He had hoped he could have taken out Manfred and avoided facing the whole gang. They had had worse odds than this though. In a matter of seconds, the dark-haired swordsman was overwhelmed. Doing his best just to keep up with each parry and lunge, he had little time to count the men he was fighting.
Meanwhile Colette had taken to the air. Releasing her chakrams in extravagant arches and circles, she knocked men from their feet and sent them spinning through the air. One skinny, agile little thief dodged her attacks and breached the small circle of safety she'd afforded herself. Gliding across the ground she tried to take to flight but he caught her foot. Dragging her from the air with a shriek, he threw her into the arms of his waiting comrades. She writhed, her wings flapping rapidly, trying to free herself from the tight grip of the brawny band. Unable to concentrate, Colette's hurriedly spoken chants disappeared as nothing more than words.
"Pretty ain't she?" One roared above the rabble
"Yeah, a right tasty little thing!" Another added to a round of lecherous sniggers and guffaws.
Held aloft in the hands of so many dirty ruffians, Colette's panic rose to a ringing in her ears. Filthy hands tugged at her tunic, roamed up her skirt and pulled at her fastenings. She could barely contain her sobs as she tried to fight off the intruding violating paws. She was pulled down and passed among them, felt, smelt and tasted; Lloyd's name cried out over and over.
"Oh, little flower!" One man exclaimed catching her by her wrist and pulling her to him, her eyes wide with fear and disgust. "I bet you've never been plucked have you, pretty one?" He pressed his face to her hair drawing her smell in, Colette squirming out from his grasp
The arm of her tunic was ripped from its hem and she scrabbled after it feebly, able only to make out shapes through her tears. The throng of men had whipped into frenzy and closed in around her in an ever tightening circle. She fell back painfully against a thin bony man who clutched her to him, knobbly fingers clutching at her breasts and foul breath in her ear. She shrieked in repulsion.
"So ripe," He groaned in a lusty tone. "What do you say we show you a good time?"
Her hair was pulled loose from its braid and stuck to her tear stained face. Someone in the mass of heaving limbs had her right hand, another, her left arm. One man somewhere behind her worked to pull her tights from her legs. Colette's voice was high and terrified, she pleaded and protested, screaming Lloyd's name over and over, trapped and desperate to see his face. Where was he? She needed him! Squeezed between two men she clamped her eyes shut, no longer able to watch as she was treated like a piece of meat.
A massive bearded man worked the buttons on the front of her top, chuckling lowly, watching her face contort in anger, pain and fear. "What a shame, seems your boyfriend isn't man enough for you, eh? Let me show you what a real man feels like" He said, placing his fat muscular leg between hers. Colette kicked out, trying her best to press her thighs together, forcing the grotesque intruding leg away from her. With a long howl of revulsion, Colette felt a hot rancid tongue supping at her neck and ear. Lloyd; where was he!
Lloyd was overwhelmed, finding it hard just to stand his ground. The anger rising within him, he found release as he screamed "HUNTING BEAST!" In a blizzard of flying bodies, Lloyd had, predictably created a thirty foot circle around himself; his opponents scattered like bowling pins. It was then he heard it; shrill and unmistakable. Colette was calling, no screaming, his name! He'd almost completely forgotten about her in his effort to make himself some space. Not ten feet away a convulsing jeering mass of men crowded around something, laughing and leering. Anger boiling under his skin, Lloyd slammed both blades into the ground as he yelled "DOUBLE DEMON FANG!"
Suddenly the earth in front of the young man split as though some geological phenomenon were ripping it apart in a straight line headed for the crowd. With a roar the men were thrown clear of the fissure as steam spouted forth. Colette struggled to her feet as she felt familiar arms gather her up and hold her close. She wept with relief as she clung to his familiar, clean smelling garments; trembling in disgust. Lloyd held his ground, one blade still held defiantly as the enraged men found their feet. Manfred stepped forward and with one gesture called them back. Reluctantly, they obeyed and retreated slowly behind their leader, eyes trained sharply on the young man and the girl cradled in his arms.
"This isn't over Manfred. I'll have those exspheres."
The group of men burst out laughing, enraging Lloyd further. Manfred smirked arrogantly. "Oh be quiet boy and take care of your little girly there; looks like she needs some tender loving care." There was a general roar of mocking.
Lloyd was livid; he could feel the anger bristling inside him threatening to spill until he had cut down every last one of those pigs. However, he was reminded of the girl in his arms and knew he had only one option. Turning his back on the rabble, Lloyd felt humiliation like a noose around his neck.
Squeezing out a rag, Lloyd dabbed at the side of Colette's small mouth. Her lip was definitely split. She didn't even flinch as Lloyd checked her reaction. She simply stared off into space, a haunted look planted on her pale features. Gripping the quilt around her shoulders, she suddenly shivered uncontrollably. Lloyd felt her form convulsing in his gentle grasp and he inched away. Her eyes had filled up with moisture. Tears gathered on the edges of her lashes, but she didn't sob; just stared off into an undefined thought, as though she wasn't even there.
His husky, hushed voice brought her around slightly as he spoke her name softly. "Colette?" Her dull sad eyes met his concerned gaze and he scanned her face grimly. "Why don't you go into the tent and clean up? I'll make you something to eat"
The girl nodded slowly and gathered up the water and towel, before disappearing silently into her small tent. Lloyd watched her until she had secured the zipper on the doorway. With a sigh, he turned his attention back to the small fire in front of him. He stirred the embers, a quiet steel in his eyes. Nothing like today's events had ever happened before. How could he have left Colette in such a vulnerable position so that she was almost…?
It didn't bear thinking about. He hadn't been quick enough, strong enough or smart enough to keep her safe. He had underestimated his opponent, almost fatally and felt totally humiliated. How could he keep dragging Colette along like this? She didn't deserve this. She had been through enough in her short life and deserved to be safe and happy. Not things he could give her. The thought had been floating around in his mind for a while, but this just aggravated it further. He couldn't expect Colette to tag along like this any longer. This time she could have lost her virginity, not to mention her life, because of his stupid mistake. He wondered exactly how damaging the experience had been for her and his heart lurched at the thought of the whole tragedy.
Quiet sobbing emanated from within the canvas tent and broke Lloyd's heart. The sobs were long and aching as she tried to muffle them. His face contorted in pain at the sound. It chewed him up inside, gnawing at his very soul; the guilt was unbearable. How could he have let this happen to his sweet innocent little angel? He just wanted to go in here, fold her in his arms and soothe her. Tell her how beautiful and amazing she was and how very much he loved her. He only wanted to kiss away every bruise, caress every tint and taint and heal her inside and out. But he knew in his heart that anything he did now would only damage her further. Martel knew he was unworthy of her. He wasn't deserving even to fantasise about her the way he did, never mind expect her to reciprocate his feelings. Resolving to do the only thing he could, Lloyd laid a plate of steaming food at the entrance to the tent and cleared his throat.
"Colette…" he spoke softly "There's food…if you want it" His words sounded feeble to his own ears.
AN: Hey guys thanks for reading this first chapter. I've had ideas for writing a ToS fic for ages and it's shaping up to my expectations. However I would be very grateful if you would leave a review and let me know what you think; good, bad or otherwise. It's all greatly appreciated. I'd also like to say to anybody who has read any of the my other non-ToS fictions, that I am sorry updates and new chapters have been absent recently. I am planning on making a drive to finish my old fics, or at least get them moving again. So stay tuned for that. Thanks again