Summary: As Lloyd travels across the world, he's forced to take shelter from a terrible storm n Izoold. There he finds something even time had forgotten about… Family-fluff
Spoilers: Do not read unless you have completed the game, the spoilers in this fic are IMMENSE!
Noishe whined and howled as the rain and sand mercilessly slapped at them due to the ferocious winds. Lloyd finally acknowledged his companions pleas and said, "Alright, alright, this way!"
However the protozoan was already far ahead of him, dashing to the nearest house and nudging the door open with his muzzle. He sighed at his companion's intrusiveness, but followed nonetheless.
Inside, the house was dark and lonely. It seemed as if no one had cared to occupy it, much less clean it, for over a decade. The windows had been boarded up from the outside, while all else seemed glued to their positions by heavy cobwebs and dust.
As soon as he shut the door, everything went back to the pitch blackness just as it was and had been. Cursing slightly, Lloyd reopened the door just a hair so that a sliver of light could shine through, allowing him to miraculously find an unlit candle and match. The wick and wax alike had both been worn down to a mere inch or so, meaning it could provide only an hour of precious light and by the way things were looking outside, the storm didn't appear to want to end anytime soon.
Noishe couldn't care less. He was ecstatic about finding shelter, especially this house it seemed, prancing in and out of every room, yipping and yapping joyously.
Once the candle had been lit, Lloyd closed the door and took his first look around. The room echoed that of a common area to his left, while to his right the kitchen stood in suspended animation. A pitcher half full of what used to be lemonade, judging by the shriveled and dried lemon dangling on the side of it, sat on the center of the table, accompanied only by two cups. One a normal sized glass almost empty, and a sippy cup beside it.
Four chairs surrounded the table, one of which lay idle on its back as if it had been knocked over in a hasty escape. A simple cloth hung over the edge of a standing chair; once covered in hand sewn embroideries the fabrics had long become frayed and unrecognizable from the ages of dirt and decay.
The counter top was left barren save for a single plate upon which smaller fungi once thrived. He could only assume the food that had been set there ages ago was devoured by the mammals that infested the abandoned home.
Noishe reappeared in the hallway, droning for Lloyd's attention. He blinked, "What's up, Noishe?"
The dog only responded with another anxious whine and dashed off into a room two doors down. He followed him into the 'master bedroom' of the house, every step unleashing an array of sighs and moans from the old wooden floorboards.
Immediately, Noishe jumped onto the bed with little ease and began voraciously rubbing himself all over the dust covered sheets. "Noishe!" groaned Lloyd, pulling him off the bed by his hindquarters. "No, bad dog! Don't do thaat…"
"Noishe!" she roared, "Get off my side of the bed, now! You can have his side, I don't care, just get your butt offa my pillow!"
Even as he began to dust off the protozoan's filthy fur, the dog couldn't help but to stick his snout into the covers and inhale deeply. Such caused him to undergo many hacking and coughing fits. Nevertheless he continued to do so.
"There," Lloyd sighed after cleaning all the dust from his companion's coat. Noishe ignored the reprimanding and eagerly skidded into the room adjacent to them, whining even louder.
Again Lloyd followed him to see him curled up next to a much smaller bed placed against two walls. The covers on it had been crumpled and some thrown to the side.
"Wake up, honey, wake up!" said a mother's frantic voice, "Let's go, let's go! We have to leave now!"
Setting the candle down on a small nearby dresser,he shook his head, "What's with you?"
Noishe despondently got up and nudged the swordsman forward until he lay face first on the bed. Satisfied, he curled up on top of Lloyd—who was now sputtering for breath under the protozoan's massive weight—and licked him behind the ear like he used to do so long ago.
"Uuggh… get offa me!" he stopped to sneeze, "Noishe, you weigh… ugh, a ton!"
He just whined as if to say, "Me?"
The moment he managed to shove Noishe off of him, the dog-like being yipped happily and decided to tug on Lloyd's belt in attempts to pick him up. He found after fifteen years, it was almost impossible to try to carry him around by the seat of his pants as he often enjoyed doing when Lloyd was a child—much to the young boy's frustration.
Now the two lay in a heap on the floor, Lloyd sprawled out in a daze on top of the restless Noishe. "What's wrong with you, dog?" he moaned.
He made a grumbling noise, as much as a dog could, slipping out from underneath him and skulking into the room across the hall. He returned with an aged looking document in his mouth, splattered with ink and tiny sporadic hand prints.
"Huh?" he said, taking the paper from the protozoan's snout and looking it over thoroughly. His eyes fixed on the hand prints, he felt a cold, unexpected pang of reminiscence.
A young Lloyd stood in the hallway, holding a soft red blanket in one hand and rubbing his sleepy chocolate eyes with the other. Slowly he crept through the hall until he stopped in the door frame to the den where his father sat hunched over a desk, working diligently.
He rubbed his small nose with the backside of his hand, yawning silently. Kratos straightened, taking a short glance over his shoulder. He then resumed his work, saying, "Lloyd, you should be in bed, you know that."
"But Daddy… couldn't sleep," he started as a whine, then quickly corrected himself with a more stable tone. "I had a really, really bad dream and Mommy's sleepin' so I didn't wanna wake her up 'cause if I did she'd be mad and I don't wanna make Mommy mad…"
Kratos set his utensil down next to his paper, thinking to himself how—if he were in Lloyd's position—safe of a decision he had made to not wake Anna. He turned to his son. "So what do you want from me?"
At his words, the toddler-to-be dashed as best he could to his father, climbing up the chair and onto his lap. He looked up at him with his eager coffee-colored eyes, smiling proudly, "You don't hafta do anything, Daddy. I'll protect myself!"
The former mercenary couldn't help but smile, ruffling his son's hair affectionately. "Is that so?"
His smile grew a little as Lloyd then proceeded to snuggle against his chest, wrapping his tiny arms around his blanket and inserting a thumb in his mouth (which he hastily removed after he remembered he was in his father's presence). "Just how will you do that when you're sitting in my lap?" He asked.
Behind the blanket that managed to partially cover the boy's face, he flashed him a devious grin. "You're gonna protect me, 'cause you're the bestest Daddy there ever is!"
"'Bestest' is not a word, Lloyd." He corrected gently. Someday he'd also have to tell his son how much and how often he contradicted himself—as well as what the word 'contradicted' meant.
Lloyd giggled, trying to imitate something his mother often said in response to being corrected. "Tickler,"
He raised an eyebrow. The word Lloyd was looking for was actually 'stickler', but Kratos could easily work with what he was given. "Oh, is that what you want?"
"No!" he squealed, trying to squirm his way out of his father's arms as he began to attack the ticklish spots with his fingers. "Stop! …Stoppit!" he laughed, unable to escape. In his attempts however, his little arms flailed about and knocked over the well of ink, spilling it all over the papers. Still he waved his arms, unknowingly plastering his handprints all over the table and anything on it.
Kratos immediately stopped when he saw the mess they'd created. Lloyd, too, grew silent when his father had halted so abruptly. He followed the man's eyes to the ink soaked papers and finger painted desk and slapped his ink covered hands over his gaping mouth. "I'm so sorry, Daddy! I didn't mean to, it was a askident! I'm sorry!"
He gazed over the hours of paperwork ruined by a single moment with a forlorn look, before sighing and taking his son into his arms. "Let's go to bed,"
Still, Lloyd was apologetic. "I'm sorry, Daddy…"
He looked up to see Noishe had left once again, padding around in the common area as if he was searching for something. His eyes fixed themselves back on the paper. Slowly, he brought his hand up and placed it over one of the more clearly printed stamps. He removed his hand, then placed it back on. Off, then on… off, then on… he couldn't help but marvel at how tiny and weak he used to be.
Hearing a muffled whine, he looked up to greet Noishe's sad eyes. In his mouth, he tenderly held a severely weathered stuffed animal in the shape of a lion. Its fur had become faded and matted while one eye dangled by a string. Its nose was missing, replaced by a black 'X' Anna had sewed on after Lloyd had tried to eat it at the age of twenty months, thinking it was a blueberry.
Gingerly, he reached down the front of his shirt and pulled out the locket Kratos had given him just before he left for Derris-Kharlan. Ruffling his companion's fur, he held the items close. Time had already taken the memories of his family he held so dear as a child, but the ones that he managed to recover he knew he'd never let them escape his grasp even as he went on with his life.
They would never leave again. Ever.