Ending the Tale

Summary: This story is an alternate epilogue, shall we say, to the game ending of Tales of Symphonia. Since my only real problem with the game ending was that Kratos left, the story will be centered on fixing that. And getting Lloyd some new powers, because that's always fun. Oh, and in case you didn't pick up on this earlier…SPOILERS!

A/N: Hey everyone, first fic here, you know the drill. Please be nice-ish (meaning no flames), and help the newbie improve. I think I've covered everything…if not, please tell me and I will correct it. Hope you like the story, and please feed the muse and review!

Disclaimer: I do not own ToS and never will, barring divine intervention…hinthint


Lloyd Aurion stared up at the Great Kharlan Tree as he let his memories wash over him. We did it. I did it. We won. Mithos' wish will come true… We'll make sure of it. A world without discrimination, where everyone can live together…without sacrifices like Mom, Mithos, Martel and all the Chosens. It'll happen, I swear it to all those who were sacrificed for a cause. Lloyd looked down at his Exsphere, and brought out his new wings. I swear it to Mithos Yggdrasill.

"I got it!" Lloyd exclaimed, staring up at the tree once more. "This tree's name will be… Yggdrasill! In remembrance of all those who were sacrificed in the hope of creating a world free from discrimination."

The Guardian nodded once at Lloyd's choice, and the Great Tree, Yggdrasill, became a sprout once more. The ruins reappeared around them, and dust clouds hovered above the ground.

"I shall now return you to your friends," the Guardian said. "They will be worried about you. You may decide where to go from there yourselves. Oh, and congratulations. You've saved the world."

With those last parting words, she raised her hands and Lloyd and Colette were suddenly back at the field where Lloyd first grew his wings and left the group. The other six group members were still there, talking and watching the sky. They appeared not to notice the reappearance of the missing two.

"Hey guys!" Lloyd called to get their attention,

"We're back!" Colette chimed in.

Everyone immediately turned around and came sprinting over to see them, a babble of voices rising over everything and making individual sounds indistinguishable. Lloyd got hugged over and over; apparently everyone had really thought he had died.

Then only Kratos, Lloyd's father, was left standing there awkwardly, wanting to hug his son as well, but not sure if it would be accepted. They stood there staring at each other for a moment, then Lloyd flung himself at his dad, causing Kratos's angel wings to appear momentarily for balance. Kratos smiled for the first time in what felt like forever, and hugged Lloyd back.

Finally the two parted, and Lloyd faced his friends and family, the people he loved most in the entire world, and was filled with a great sense of accomplishment and happiness. They had done it; they had saved both worlds…together. But Lloyd still had one question.

"What now?"

---------------

Lloyd lay awake in his bed that night, thinking. They had flown to Triet just because it was familiar and relatively close, and had decided to get a good sleep before they decided what to do next. They had paired off as usual for rooms, and, as usual, Lloyd had to share with Kratos. There had been a bit of awkwardness when the two angels got to their room, but Lloyd quickly broke the tension by pronouncing that it was just like old times, when they had stopped in Triet before breaking the fire seal, and Lloyd had complained for the first time about having to share with Kratos. Kratos had smiled at that, albeit a bit bitterly, and the tension was gone.

Now Lloyd looked over at the bed beside him, hoping he could get Kratos to come with him on his journey to destroy all the Exshperes. To his surprise, however, Kratos was not in the bed. Lloyd shot up and looked around the room, but his dad was nowhere to be found. It seemed Lloyd's enhanced angel senses were taking their time about kicking in, otherwise he would have heard Kratos leave. Sighing in annoyance, Lloyd hopped out of bed and dressed quickly, all the while grumbling about angel fathers who couldn't stay put. This seemed to happen every time they stayed in Triet, and Lloyd wondered about the wisdom of their choice.

Brushing it off, Lloyd trotted down the stairs, intent on finding the errant angel. The innkeeper was still up and at the desk, and Lloyd asked her if she had seen a swordsman in purple go out recently. She replied that she had, only a few minutes ago. Lloyd thanked her, and went outside to find Kratos talking to Noishe once again. Just for fun, Lloyd gripped the hilt of his fire sword, and crept up behind Kratos. He heard a sigh from his dad.

"I know it's you, Lloyd," Kratos said, sounding like he was fighting not to laugh. "And don't stand behind me."

"Damnit," Lloyd swore halfheartedly, coming to stand beside his dad. "I was ready that time too."

For a moment they just looked at each other, and as Lloyd looked his father, a wave of sadness washed over him. No matter if Lloyd forgave Kratos for everything, and accepted him as his father, there would always be shadows hanging between them. They would never be a normal father/son pair, and they both knew it. They'd have to deal with the past, and try as best they could to put it behind them, but as Lloyd watched Kratos, he wasn't sure that his father was ready to.

Blinking back tears that were threatening to spill, Lloyd turned to Noishe and started petting his 'dog', the very symbol of how abnormal his family was. Why was it that the only two members of his family left–his father and his dog–were thousands of years older than him? Really not fair. But then when was anything in his life fair?

Lloyd glanced back at Kratos, and found the angel staring at the sky, where Derris-Kharlan still hung. His expression seemed pained.

"Lloyd, there's something I must do," Kratos began, and Lloyd became immediately tense. Coming out of that man's mouth, that sentence could never end well.

"What?" Lloyd asked warily.

"I have to go to Derris-Kharlan before it drifts away. I must destroy all the Exspheres remaining on it so that they can never be used again. I am the last surviving angel of Cruxis, and it is my responsibility."

"But you'll die! The planet will drift away and you'll die out there!" A thousand arguments sprung to Lloyd's mind, shocked and angered that Kratos would suggest this. But on a subconscious level, Lloyd had known that something like this was going to happen.

"Yes, I'll die," Kratos admitted with a kind of resigned relief. "I've lived too long anyways. My time should have been long ago, and now my actions are finally catching up with me. You must use the Eternal Sword to send me to Derris-Kharlan."

"When?" Lloyd asked, somewhat dazed.

"Tomorrow."

Lloyd's mind was reeling. He couldn't lose his father just when he had saved the world and everything seemed perfect. He wouldn't let it happen! Kratos couldn't just leave, right? He needed Lloyd to send him to Derris-Kharlan with the Eternal Sword. Well then, Lloyd just wouldn't cooperate. He wouldn't let his dad abandon him again. And Lloyd wouldn't betray him.

But when Lloyd looked at his dad to tell him no, he realized there was no use arguing with him on this. He was set, and this was something that had to be done. Derris-Kharlan had to leave, and Kratos felt that it was his responsibility. Nothing Lloyd could say would convince him otherwise. And it was true that Lloyd could think of no other way to solve the problem. Well, he could, but they were probably stupid ideas and wouldn't work with all the powerful magic and world-changing powers. And without Kratos to objectively tell him what exactly was wrong with each of his solutions and how each would horribly destroy the worlds, Lloyd was at a loss at what to do. He couldn't risk everyone's lives just to save his dad's.

"Fine," Lloyd muttered, sighing dejectedly. "Tomorrow at noon." Lloyd couldn't believe he had agreed to this suicide mission. Not agreed, he reminded himself, just acquiesced for the moment. It's just to buy time, so I can figure something out. Dad's not the only one that's over four thousand years old. Wow, I've been hanging out with the Professor for way too long. Acquiesced?

Kratos nodded solemnly, presumably too caught up in his own thoughts to notice that Lloyd had given in way too easily. Or maybe he hadn't been expecting much of a fight from him at all. After all, Lloyd hadn't exactly been calling him Dad or anything; well, outside of his own mind anyway. Lloyd watched his father with Noishe for a moment longer and then went back to bed, deciding there was nothing he could do except get some rest. It was going to be a long day tomorrow, and he'd have to get up very early if he was going to stop Kratos.

---------------

Lloyd woke at dawn, as he had gotten used to doing while traveling. He had actually become one of the first of the group to get up in the morning, which had surprised everyone. Kratos had only rejoined the group a short time ago, and Lloyd was hoping he hadn't had time to get back into a habitual sleeping pattern of rising early. He hoped the others would have the sense to go back to sleep when they woke as well, or be tired enough to sleep in.

A quick glance at the bed beside him showed that Kratos had indeed gone to bed eventually and was still sound asleep. Quietly Lloyd slid out of bed, picked up his swords, and slipped out the door, already fully dressed from the night before. Lloyd could only guess what his father's reaction to his disappearance would be; but it would not be pretty and he was glad at least that he'd miss it.

As he shut the door softly behind him, Lloyd resisted the urge to laugh at the switched roles. How many times had Kratos snuck out of the room while Lloyd was sleeping, especially here in Triet? Lloyd had always hated it when he did that, but here was Lloyd, sneaking out on Kratos. It actually felt pretty good, like he was getting revenge or something. Lloyd grinned evilly.

He was relieved to find the lower floor empty, but he still crept as silently as he could to the door and out. The last thing he needed was to be caught sneaking out at a time like this. But it was vital to Kratos' survival, and if there was one thing Lloyd was against, it was sacrificing people, especially those people he cared about. Hadn't he just said there would be no more sacrifices?

As he headed towards Noishe to tell him what was happening, it occurred to Lloyd that he probably should have left some sort of note saying where he had gone. But there was no way he was going to go back inside and risk being caught. Then he had an idea.

He quickly got to Noishe and explained what he was planning to do, since the 'dog' had heard last night's conversation. He then took a scrap of paper out of his bag and a pencil. He wrote a quick note saying not to worry about where he was and that he'd be back by noon and gave it to Noishe to hold. He trusted the dog to get it to someone and so stop a panic.

With that Lloyd went to the edge of the village and opened his wing pack. Out popped the Rheaird, and he was on his way flying through the clouds in a matter of seconds. With the wind streaming around him and the perfect sense of weightlessness flying always gave him, he liked to believe that no one could follow him now. While it was true that he had all their Rheairds, there were still two angels left in the group, both of whom would be strongly against him going off on his own and were more than capable of catching up. At least he didn't have far to go.

---------------

Lloyd landed softly on the snow outside the Tethe'alla Renegade base. He quickly packed the Rheaird away and trotted toward the odd blue domed building. He had to be quick; he wasn't sure what the time relation was between the two worlds, and he had to be back by noon.

He approached the doors and his mind drew a blank as to what to do next. After staring blankly at the doors for a few minutes, he opted for the traditional approach. Feeling like an idiot, and muttering about angels that just kept causing problems, he raised a fist and rapped on the door three times. To his great surprise, they opened almost immediately, showing two confused-looking renegades.

"I need to see Yuan. Tell him it's Lloyd," he said, getting immediately to the point. The two Renegades still looked unsure, however. "Lloyd Aurion?"

That got the reaction he was looking for. Their eyes widened and they stepped out of the way almost reverently. Lloyd raised his eyebrows in surprise at their attitude change, but walked past them and through the doors. He suspected that they still didn't really know who he was, and although he liked to think so, his reputation had probably not preceded him. They had just reacted, like he'd known they would, to the Aurion name. He felt a bit bitter that they didn't recognize him for himself, after all that he'd done, but only as Kratos' son. Oh well, the opinions of two flunkies didn't matter. Still, it would have been gratifying to be recognized.

With these thoughts occupying his head, he realized he had absolutely no idea where he was going. He had just been wandering, and though he vaguely recognized the area he was in, he couldn't place where it was in relation to the rest of the building. Too bad the professor wasn't here, or even Kratos… I'm doing this so Dad will be with me in the future to help me, not drifting in space. But even though Kratos would be there in the future, he wasn't there then, and that was actually a good thing, now that Lloyd thought about it. Well, he'd just have to do some random exploring, like the good old times, when he'd first got captured by the Renegades. Back when he had no worries besides catching up with Colette, and knew no troublesome, four thousand year old angels whatsoever.

Lloyd set off down the nearest corridor, systematically checking each door. Eventually he found that one of the doors opened onto a hallway that ended before another, more ornate door. Taking a chance, he trotted up the hallway and through the door. He found himself inside a large decorated room, much the same as the main room in the Sylvarant base where he had fought Botta for the first time. Yuan was at a desk, writing something. Curious, Lloyd approached him silently.

Yuan's head jerked up and his sharp blue eyes focused on Lloyd. Lloyd stepped back, startled, and Yuan smirked faintly and leaned back into his chair. Lloyd responded by crossing his arms and glaring.

"Lloyd?" Yuan asked, as if the non-verbal conversation had never happened. "Why are you here?"

"It's about Kratos," Lloyd responded, having put the recent confrontation behind him as well. If he's gonna be blunt, then so will I.

"Kratos? What trouble has he gotten himself into now?" The comment immediately set Lloyd on defense.

"What's that supposed to mean?" he challenged, uncrossing his arms and balling his hands at his sides.

"Nothing," Yuan responded coolly. The renegade angel leaned forward onto his desk as if to prove his sincerity. "What seems to be the problem?"

"He's set on sacrificing himself. He wants to go to Derris-Kharlan and destroy all the Exspheres so that some alien civilization won't find them and use them. He'll die out there! And there's nothing I can do to stop him. I can't convince him not to since he believes it's his duty; besides that, he's been a bit suicidal for a while now. I can't try any of my plans because I don't know whether they'd actually help or mess up everything we've accomplished. So my own father is going to go out there and die, right after I said there would be no more sacrifices!" By the end of his speech, Lloyd was almost in tears, and his hands, which were balled tightly into fists, were shaking.

"So what do you want me to do about it? If you can't convince him, I certainly can't." Yuan seemed unfazed by Lloyd's explanation, but had tactfully refrained from mentioning a method of force.

"Well, I have a plan, but I need Kratos to tell me what's wrong with it so that I don't accidentally blow something up and kill a couple thousand people. But the only reason he's useful is because he's so old. And you're just as old as he is, so—"

"Actually, that's not true," Yuan interrupted. "He's a couple of years older than I am. He never let me forget that…"

Lloyd raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms again, disbelieving that Yuan had really interrupted him for that. Yuan cleared his throat and looked down at his desk, shuffling some papers. Lloyd decided to let the incident go without comment, though both Kratos and Yuan would hear about it later.

"So will you help me or not?" Lloyd questioned, wanting an answer and getting impatient. Time was running out. "I want an objective opinion though; no telling me it won't work just because you dislike my dad."

After a moment's hesitation, Yuan nodded. "You saved both planets and now control the Eternal Sword. I will aid you in saving your father."

Lloyd maintained his serious look for a moment longer, and nodded solemnly. "Thank you," he said gravely, then broke into a huge smile. "YES!" he cried, jumping up in the air. He twirled around and finally settled down again. Yuan's eyes had widened at his outburst, but his face was stony and impenetrable once again.

"Okay, so I'm going to tell you what I want to do, and then you have to tell me if it will work or not," Lloyd said in one big breath, immediately inhaling again afterwards.

Yuan smiled faintly. "Very well, what is your plan?"

"I basically want to blast Derris-Kharlan to bits. If I can destroy the planet entirely using the Eternal Sword, then the Exspheres will be taken care of as well, and will be nothing more than dust in the wind."

"What about all that mana? Surely even you must have taken that into consideration."

"Hey… that was insulting. Sounds like something Kratos would say. Anyways, about the mana, I thought I could divert it into a sort of wellspring for the Great Kharlan Tree using the Eternal Sword. The Tree could draw on it whenever it needed, sort of like an abundance of water for regular trees, and it would also serve to feed the two worlds so that they'll flourish while the Tree is still small. And the mana supply could also be used to rig up a protection field for the Tree. Genis could do it. It's pretty vulnerable while small. You could step on it and not know it."

Yuan seemed to be thinking things over. Lloyd waited, but became impatient very soon. He waited a little longer, than decided to see if Yuan was ready.

"So will it work?" Lloyd asked, turning his head to see what Yuan had been staring at so intently while he was thinking. It was only a rather unremarkable spot on the wall with some sort of stain on it. It seemed to be in the shape of a hand. That's odd, Lloyd thought. Why would there be a stain on the wall? Wouldn't it have been cleaned off?

Yuan seemed to be coming out of a trance. He blinked slowly at Lloyd, thoughtfully. "Amazingly enough, this plan of yours seems to be completely flawless. Well, almost. You can't just totally disintegrate Derris-Kharlan; there are still angels living on it. What you could do, however, is ask the Eternal Sword to scour the planet of any Exspheres and divert most of it's mana to the Great Tree. Then the angels would still have a place to go, and Derris-Kharlan would no longer be a hazard."

"So you're saying it would actually work? That's great! Thank you!" Lloyd turned to leave, then seemed to think of something at the last minute. "Can I ask you two more questions?"

"Go ahead." Yuan waved his hand at the young angel tiredly.

Lloyd pointed. "What's that stain on the wall?"

"That? That's really been bothering you, hasn't it?" At Lloyd's nod, the older angel continued. "It was left by an important… guest. Nostalgia keeps it there, I suppose."

"Uhuh," Lloyd murmured skeptically. He figured there was more to it than that.

"Your last question?" Yuan prompted, obviously eager for Lloyd to leave.

"Oh, yeah. What time would it be right now in Sylvarant?"

"A little before noon."

"Damnit! Okay, gotta go, see you later!" Lloyd dashed out the doors, leaving a bemused Yuan in his wake.

"I pity Kratos, I really do," the blue-haired angel said to himself. "He's got himself a handful. The boy may be heroic and strong, but he's a bit on the crazy side."

---------------

Lloyd angled the Rheaird down through the clouds and bumped along the ground in his haste to land. He sucked the craft into the wing pack and ran to the top of the little hill. There, just like he had guessed, stood Kratos. His father was staring up at the sky with a sad, resigned expression.

The hill was the same one that Lloyd had gotten his wings on, and where he had met up with the group after planting the Seed. We should really give a name to this hill, he thought absently as he ran toward Kratos. So much has happened here. Will happen here.

Lloyd reached the top of the hill and waited for his dad to acknowledge his presence. A glance at the sky showed him that it was around noon; he had arrived just on time.

Kratos addressed his son without turning around, and kept his gaze on the sky as he spoke. "Lloyd, where have you been? Everyone was worried. It was stupid to go off on your own like that. You of all people know how dangerous that is."

Lloyd came up to stand beside his dad, but watching Kratos instead of the sky. "It's not important. Kratos, please reconsider this. I don't want you to die out there!"

"I'm sorry Lloyd, but it's my duty. If I don't do this, then it will jeopardize what you have saved here. I will help you in the last way that I can."

"And what if I told you that there's another way?"

"Then you would be wrong. This is the only way."

"Then you would be wrong. There's another way." Lloyd turned and walked away from Kratos to the middle of the hill. He drew both his swords out of their scabbards and held them together. He concentrated, and each sword turned into a red and blue ball of energy respectively. The balls came together and formed the Eternal Sword. Lloyd grinned; that was something he'd never get tired of doing, no matter what his friends would say to the contrary. He held the Eternal Sword high and gripped it with both hands.

"Eternal Sword, I command thee! Exterminate the Exspheres on Derris-Kharlan!" A huge blast of light came from the sword and struck Derris-Kharlan. The light surrounded it and the whole planet began to glow. Lloyd swayed from personal mana loss. He gritted his teeth and voiced the second command.

"Eternal Sword, I command thee! Draw forth half of Derris-Kharlan's mana and use it in destroying the Exshperes! Divert the remaining energy to the Great Tree Yggdrasill!" Lloyd slumped from exhaustion, energy spent after the command. He concentrated on bringing out his wings so he could draw on his angel strength, but he was too tired even for that. But he had to stay standing. He had to keep the sword up.

Suddenly he felt streams of energy rush through him and he was able to stand up tall. He wondered what had happened, until he saw the glowing Sword in his hands. Light patterns were dancing down the beam from Derris-Kharlan, into the Sword, and into him. Below him, the light sank into the ground, to flow off in the direction of the Great Tree. The Sword was using him as a conduit, so as not to waste energy.

Lloyd stood rooted to the ground as he waited for all Derris-Kharlan's mana to flow through him. He transformed into his angel form, his huge transparent eagle wings spreading out far to the sides in preparation for the weakness that would invariably come when the mana transfer was finished. Lloyd saw the trail end of the light beam coming toward him, braced himself for the weakness. It never came. He looked down, and sure enough, the energy had stopped flowing. But the golden threads of light remained on his skin, and faded into him as he watched, leaving faint gold veins on his arms and hands.

"What happened to me?" Lloyd muttered as he stared at his sparkling skin, his wings trembling a bit.

"You have been altered. The amount of mana you contain within you – your life force – has increased. You are now what is called a duangel, one who possesses two lives."

Lloyd looked up and found the summon spirit Origin looking down at him, drawn as always by the use of the Eternal Sword. He was stunned by Origin's words. A duangel? Two lives? What?

"How?" Lloyd asked, head spinning.

"When you asked the Eternal Sword to fulfill your second command, it was more than your life force could take. You would have died. When the Sword diverted the mana through you, it saved you, replenishing your life force and more. But only temporarily. When the transfer was over, the essential mana would have left, and you would be dead right now. However, when you transformed to your angelic form during the transfer, it trapped some of the mana in your body. The change saved your life, but also kept more mana then you needed. You now have double what a normal angel, such as your father, possesses."

"But what does that mean, having two lives?"

"That you are very fortunate." Origin then disappeared in the trademark flash of the summon spirits.

"Wow," Lloyd marveled, staring at his hands and the gold veins surrounding them. "A duangel, huh?" He stayed awed for a moment more, then his enthusiasm got the better of him. "This is so awesome!"

"Lloyd?" Kratos tried to get his son's attention, and failed. Lloyd had turned the Sword back into his twin blades, and was examining his skin closely. His wings quivered in excitement, and he hovered two feet above the ground.

"Lloyd?" Kratos tried again, this time with more success. Lloyd glanced in his direction, then looked again as he remembered his reason for being there in the first place. He reverted back into human form, realizing too late that he hadn't been standing on the ground before. He collapsed in a heap.

"OW…" Note to self: Always check if flying before going from angel to human.

"Lloyd, are you alright?" Kratos asked, concerned.

"Ya, I'm fine."

"Lloyd… What you did… You could have died."

"I know."

"Lloyd…"

"Look, Kratos, it's fine. I knew what I was doing." At Kratos's disbelieving look, he backtracked slightly. "Well, mostly. But I knew it would work, and that's what mattered. I took a chance, and I won. I got my cake and ate it too." Lloyd grinned, proud of his analogy.

Kratos was still shaking his head, surprised and slightly disturbed at what had just happened. Mostly, however, he was amazed that Lloyd would go to such lengths to save him. It was a good thing he hadn't been given a choice about Origin's seal.

"And, look!" Lloyd burst out, interrupting his father's thoughts. "I'm a duangel now, whatever that means. Two lives have gotta be better than one, right?"

"Indeed." Kratos smiled slightly. His son was still alive, and that was what mattered.

Lloyd watched his dad carefully. He gauged his reaction to recent events and decided it was nearly good enough. It wasn't going to be enough to make Kratos put the past behind him. It's time Dad got a reality check, Lloyd thought. I want him to stay. Every time he does something like this it hurts me… He has got to realize that. This has to stop.

"Kratos…" Lloyd paused, collecting his thoughts. Kratos watched him, waiting. "If there's one thing you should have learned about me in the time that we've known each other, it's that I don't let the ones I love become sacrifices. I don't let friends die. Why you think that rule doesn't apply to you is beyond me." Lloyd paused again, taking in Kratos's surprised expression. He took a deep breath and continued. "I know you think you've lived too long. I know you think you should die to pay for past mistakes. But I thought we cleared that up before, after you almost died releasing Origin. Apparently it hasn't had the effect I thought it had. You can't change the past. Mistakes were made, by everyone. What you can do is attempt to correct them and make up for it. You did that by helping us, helping me. You helped to save the worlds, and I think that makes up for a lot of things. You may have lived for thousands of years, but my life is just beginning. And I want you to be there for it. If you were tired of living, you shouldn't have had a son, Dad."

To Lloyd's amazement, there was a tear in the corner of Kratos's eye. Almost immediately, however, his father blinked and looked away. No tear fell, and Lloyd began to think he had imagined things. Until he heard the angel speak.

"I'm…sorry, Lloyd." The voice hardly sounded like the mature, unshakable angel that Lloyd was used to. His voice held emotion. Sadness and weariness were there, but also relief, hope, and love. Lloyd felt his own eyes tear up.

"It's okay, Dad," Lloyd said. It came out a little strangled, but he could feel his voice gaining strength once more. "Just don't do it again."

"I think I can promise you that, at least." Kratos paused, and seemed to be thinking something over. The next was said almost hesitantly, "Does this mean you've accepted me?"

Lloyd's first impulse was to ask if he had been listening to his speech at all, but fortunately he restrained it. In a moment of insight, he realized that Kratos needed this to be said right out, not just implied. He smiled.

"Yeah, Dad. It does."

Kratos closed his eyes and looked away again. Lloyd blinked. He was so unused to seeing any sign of emotion from the angel, and this much kind of threw him. But he thought it was something he could get used to. His grin broadened, and he jumped at his father once more.

This time, it seemed that Kratos was more prepared for the onslaught. His balance wasn't thrown when Lloyd pounced, and his wings stayed invisible. He closed his eyes and held his son. Lloyd's wings appeared through his happiness, and spread out to his sides. He folded them in so that they completely concealed the pair, and grinned when his dad's wings began to sparkle as well. He released his father and stepped back, spreading his wings out to the sides once more. Lloyd grinned mischievously.

"Wanna go flying?"

---------------

Lloyd and Kratos landed outside of Triet shortly after. Lloyd still wasn't an expert at flying, but he felt he was fairly capable after the lesson of sorts. After a few crashes in the dirt, he had been able to execute good, if not great, take offs and landings. He had learned the basics of flight, and though he was nowhere near as good as Kratos, at least he wouldn't make a fool of himself in the future. The flying lessons had lightened the moods of both father and son, and had allowed Kratos to collect himself once more by playing the teacher. Now Lloyd trotted ahead of his father, babbling, while Kratos smiled indulgently.

"You know, when I first learned that angels were real and really had wings, I thought they'd be a nuisance, you know?" Lloyd rambled happily. "I mean, think about it, how would they get dressed? And they'd have to have holes in all of their clothes. And how would they sleep?"

"You really put a lot of thought into this, didn't you?" Kratos interrupted, amused. "Were you thinking about this during that first meeting at the temple?"

"Hey, that's what Genis said too, like it was a bad thing," Lloyd grumbled good-naturedly. "But you actually know, don't you? How do they manage? I mean, yeah, we're angels too, but not really. Our wings are transparent and go away when we don't need them. But we still get to fly and stuff. All of the benefits and none of the drawbacks," he concluded proudly.

"Well, for one thing, those 'true' angels don't sleep at all," Kratos informed his son.

"Oh." Lloyd was set back momentarily. "But what about the clothes? And how come we need to sleep?"

"As you said, we're different. We still have our humanity. And as for the clothes, I don't think that they need to change at all. I guess they would need holes for the wings, although I have to admit I've never thought about it. It's not a normal thing to think about."

"Yuck! They never change?" Lloyd ignored the slight to his sanity and focused on the disgusting side of what his father just said.

"Well, it's not like they sweat or anything so…"

"Still," Lloyd pronounced with an air of finality, "Ew."

By now they had reached the inn, where the rest of the group was milling about waiting for them. Lloyd suddenly stopped and turned to Kratos. Kratos, having caught the serious expression on Lloyd's face, stopped as well.

"Dad, did you by any chance tell them what you were up to?"

"No."

"What? You didn't want to say bye or anything?" Lloyd was surprised, to say the least.

"I felt it was better to let them hear it from you. None of us were particularly close anyway." Lloyd looked at him with a mix of amazement and suspicion, and Kratos attempted to deflect any further questioning. "It worked out for the best."

"I suppose. But that's just another reason that I should have stopped you. I really don't think they'd appreciate you dropping off the planet without even saying goodbye."

With that, Lloyd turned back to the rest of the group, who were looking relieved. He trotted over to them, but before he could say a word, Raine stormed up to him with a strange glint in her eyes. Recognizing the glint, Lloyd stepped back, getting out of her attack range.

"Lloyd!" the Professor began, glaring. "Don't you ever go off like that again without telling anyone! Just because we've finally saved both worlds doesn't mean the danger's gone. We must all be careful. Even you. Especially you."

"I–," Lloyd attempted to apologize, but Raine's staff shot out and swept his feet out from under him. Apparently he had underestimated her range. He landed in a heap on the ground and could only stare up at her stupidly as she continued her rant.

"I wasn't finished! We all did our best to protect you at Derris-Kharlan, even at the risk of our own lives. We made it, and we won, but that doesn't mean its okay to throw caution to the wind! We will not lose you now when we've finally made a new world for everyone! Do you understand?"

"Yes Ma'am," Lloyd replied, duly chastened. Raine nodded, satisfied.

"You may get up now."

Lloyd got up, wincing as he did so. He heard a soft noise behind him and twisted to glare at the angel. Kratos was maintained a carefully neutral expression, but Lloyd could tell he had momentarily failed.

"Don't you say a word," Lloyd warned, stabbing a finger in his father's direction. This time, Kratos couldn't hold in the mocking grin that spread across his face. He seemed to be a lot looser in showing emotion since the hilltop scene, and because of that Lloyd could almost forgive him for showing amusement. Almost.

"So, Lloyd, where did you go, anyway?" Genis questioned, full of innocent curiosity. Lloyd shrugged.

"Went to visit Yuan," he answered casually. Really his mind was going a mile a minute. His friends didn't need to know about what had happened, at least not yet. What could he come up with that they'd believe?

"Yuan? Why?" Confusion was plain on Genis's face.

"Well, even though he was our enemy sometimes, the Renegades were against Cruxis, he did help us a couple times, and in the end he was on our side. He was part of the original group with Mithos, too. And I… Well, I just wanted to make sure he was okay. Botta sacrificed himself to save us, and I just wanted to make sure he hadn't done something similar." As he spoke, Lloyd tried to keep everything he said truthful. The more truth contained in his speech, the less likely his friends would spot a lie. Really it's not even a lie, just a half-truth. Just like Dad, Yuan showed his true colours in the end and picked our side. He was an ally, and most likely still is, just not an enthusiastic one. He didn't agree with Mithos any more than we did. We would have lost someone if he had died, and I for one would have mourned him. Dad probably would have too. Plus, if he had died, I would never get to bug him!

"Lloyd's right," Colette piped up in support. "Yuan was a friend, in the end at least. He deserves our consideration and respect. It's the right thing to do, to make sure he's okay. We should have thought of it ourselves."

Lloyd flashed Colette a grateful grin. "Thanks Colette." The blonde Chosen smiled in return.

"If that is settled," Regal interrupted with an air of tolerant patience, "I have a suggestion of where to go next, temporarily at least. I, for one, would like to revisit Iselia. Our visits previously have been somewhat short and we were not exactly welcome. It would be interesting to properly meet the people and perhaps visit the Temple."

"Yes," Presea agreed somberly. "I would also like to see these places again. We may decide individually where to go from there."

"And I could see Corrine again," Sheena contributed softly.

Raine nodded. "It seems sound to me. Lloyd?"

"I think it's a great idea," Lloyd responded enthusiastically. "It's a comfortable, we wouldn't have to pay for an inn, and no one would be under pressure to leave. Everyone else okay with this?" After a chorus of agreement, he continued. "Well then, what are we waiting for? Let's go!"

"I can say this for the future," Lloyd heard Kratos mutter, seemingly to himself, "It's sure to prove interesting."

Lloyd grinned at his father's comment as the group boarded their Rheairds, lifted off, and shot off through the sky towards Iselia. Dad's right, Lloyd thought. With these friends and what's happened so far, how could anything else be possible?


A/N: So that's it! And I know Zelos wasn't in it at all, but I just have a really hard time writing him. Plus, this way people can decide for themselves whether he survived or not. So. Good? Bad? Tell me and review!