Summary- Kratos wakes Lloyd from a nightmare concerning the events directly preceding his banishment from Iselia. Kratos/Lloyd bonding fluff, father/son relationship only

A Second Start

Chapter 1- Breaking the Silence

Tall reeds waved silently from side to side in the gentle breeze along the edges of the stream, leaves fluttered slightly in the trees… the stillness of the night air was broken only by the distant, gentle snoring of a very large, very heavy, green and white furry animal. Although its owner was adamant about insisting that the creature was a dog, some knew better.

Kratos Aurion, 4000-some-odd year old companion of said 'dog' was one of the few people that could safely say the animal was not what it appeared to be. Indeed, this peculiar life form had not even taken on this particular appearance until mere decades ago. Up to that point, the mercenary had only been familiar with its winged form- Aeros.

Upon the transformation of the creature to Arshis, it had been given a new name: Noishe. It had taken Kratos many years to adjust to the change, but the form of address now came to his tongue as naturally as had the one before it. After all, despite the change in appearance and name, the personality of the animal had not changed at all- Noishe was still the fiercely loyal, loving being that he had always been and would always be.

Along with these unchanging traits, however, the Protozoan also possessed a rather odd quirk that he seemed to keep regardless of the shape he took- talking in his sleep. When the Protozoan had first attached itself to Kratos, the man had been unable to get more than a few hours of sleep each night due to the constant cooing of the bird-like creature that refused to venture more than a few feet from his side. Despite eventually developing the ability to ignore it, Kratos had anxiously waited for the day that the Protozoan would evolve again and lose the irritating habit. Alas, the day had come and gone, and the damn animal was still talking in his sleep- the cooing had merely become muffled whines and howls.

Such was the predicament in which Kratos currently found himself, as the surrounding silence seemed only to amplify the noises coming from the stables.

The auburn-haired man heaved a sigh and turned to lie on his other side, adjusting the blankets of his makeshift bed, the floorboards underneath him creaking as he did so. Seeing as how after years of obeying Mithos' (seemingly) random orders and going on his (seeming) random missions he was quite accustomed to sleeping outside, Kratos had been more than willing to volunteer to sleep outside on the terrace adjacent to Lloyd's room when it became obvious that Dirk's house would not have room enough to provide sleeping quarters for the entire party. Sheena and Presea had decided to spend the night at Collete's for a 'slumber party' (the implications of which Kratos could only imagine) while Regal had been invited to stay at the Sage's. While it had been quite obvious to all that Genis was more than a little disappointed at the fact that it would not be Presea staying at his house, Kratos had been surprised to see that the mage's sister actually seemed rather excited at the prospect of having the ex-convict join them. Whether it was because she hoped to test out (or inflict, perhaps?) her cooking on the well-known chef, or because of…… others reasons, the mercenary really couldn't say.

Forsaking the hope of getting any sleep at all in the near future, Kratos sat up, shoving several potted plants to one side so that he could rest his aching back against the wall of the house and gaze up at the moonless sky, which would have been utterly dark, had it not been for the millions of tiny stars spread out as far as the eye could see in all directions. The moment his eyes lit upon the first star, the pain began to recede, and Kratos let out a soft sigh. He had yet to discover a better method of relieving the agony his wings produced when they went un-used for long periods of time. It seemed only yesterday that he had held a sleeping Anna in his arms under a sky so much like this one….

Kratos' eyes left the stars abruptly, snapping back down to earth as a sound that was most definitely not a Noishe-snore reached his sensitive ears. He stood up quickly, instantly alert, the blankets sliding into a heap around his feet. Absently kicking them out of the way, Kratos walked forward a few steps and stopped, surprised- the sound was coming from Lloyd's bedroom. He rested his hand on the door a moment, trying unsuccessfully to quell the anxious feelings rising in his chest. He hesitated a second longer, and then slowly pushed the door open a fraction, halting suddenly when his gaze came to rest on his son, who was futilely trying to fight his way out of a tangled nest of blankets and sheets. Both pillows that Kratos knew had previously rested at the head of the bed were now lying halfway across the room, apparently having been thrown there sometime before.

The mercenary's gaze snapped back to the young man twisting and jerking violently on the bed. The crimson-clad figure stilled for a split second, completely unaware of his horrified audience, before gasping and arching his back into the most uncomfortable position Kratos imagined the boy had ever been forced into. Broken out of his trance, the Seraph quickly strode across the scant distance separating the doorway and the bed. There, he stopped yet again, his eyes full of pain at the sight of his son's face; usually so relaxed and carefree that it was hard to believe the boy ever worried about anything, it's features were now so changed that Kratos might not have recognized them as Lloyd's had the man not been so completely convinced that the bright-red pajamas the boy had worn to bed couldn't possibly belong to anyone other than his son. Dark brown eyebrows dug down towards tightly shut eyes, creating shallow lines that looked completely out-of-place on the young man's face. His mouth grimaced, and Kratos could tell his teeth were tightly clamped together by the muscles working in his jaw, clenching and unclenching rhythmically. As the boy collapsed back onto the bed, panting slightly, the mercenary leaned over and placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Lloyd."

The boy curled in on himself, giving no indication whatsoever that he had heard anything.

"Lloyd." Kratos spoke more firmly, tightening his grip on the boy's shoulder.

"Lloyd, wa-"

The mercenary cut himself off sharply, his features beginning to relax as the boy's eyes snapped open. Then they tightened once more, as Kratos realized that Lloyd was not staring at him, but through him. The concern in his eyes deepened considerably.

"Ll-"

"No!"

The mercenary stumbled momentarily as he was shoved back, then righted himself quickly and reached for the boy spasming on the bed.

"N- no! I'm- I'm sorry! Please, d-!"

The pleas were cut off sharply as the boy, flinching violently away from the Seraph's touch, fell to the floor with a thump. Blindly, he hastily scrabbled backwards towards the wall, which his head met with a painful sounding "thwack".

Rushing around the end of the bed, Kratos knelt and caught the young swordsman by the shoulders as he started to slump to one side, only to have the boy flinch away yet again and begin pleading incoherently underneath his breath once more.

As soon as Kratos was certain that Lloyd would not immediately fall and injure himself again, he released his shoulders, giving him a chance to calm down. Gradually, his breathing slowed, and the shaking began to lessen. When Kratos believed that physical contact would no longer be detrimental to the young man's health, he slowly placed one of his hands on top of Lloyd's, both of which were curled into tight fists on the floor, and raised his head to stare into the boy's face, searching for any signs of an imminent panic. Finding none, he deemed it safe to speak once more.

"Lloyd."

The boy's vacant eyes flicked downwards, snapping onto the hand that rested lightly on top of his own. Slowly, ever so slowly, the brown orbs came into focus and blinked, confused, as though they were unsure about the happenings of the past few minutes. When Lloyd's head finally rose and his eyes met the intense gaze of his father, he trembled, his voice hesitant and meek as he whispered into the darkness.

"K- Kratos?"

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

-edited A/N- Due to the triple confirmation I've gotten from the reviewers, I've replaced the Protozoa with Protozoan, and the Seraphim with Seraph. Lots and lots of kudos go to RoyalFanatic, Crystal Adept, and ShadowofUndine- you guys are awesome!

Any corrections- spelling, grammar, or otherwise would be much appreciated. I have absolutely no idea how long this story is going to be... it may be a multi-chaptered fic, it may only be one more chapter, or it might just stop right here if nobody reviews! So go do it- you know you want to! You know you /should/- it's right there- it takes a few seconds and maybe three clicks at the most. Kudos in advance to those of you that do!