This may be my longest oneshot ever. It's been awhile since I've written a Raingal, and this just popped in my head the other night. Thanks Yamchas for helping me out! I don't own Tales of Symphonia, Namco does. But, soon...soon I shall own them all!

People say that food has qualities to it. The power to heal, the ability to arouse, among many others. They had both always doubted that thought, tossing it away as a childish notion, a game to play when one's hormones were raging. They ate the strawberries dipped in chocolate and felt nothing. The herbs added to main courses did nothing to ease their pain. Was it because of their faithlessness, or simply because it wasn't true?

Yes, they were adults, and as such, had a different view than the adolescents they traveled with. More than once did they have to hold back a snicker of amusement as the two older males gleefully fed their loves, a hungry look in their eyes. Then the silver and blue haired ones would catch each other's blue eyes, her's a deep cerulean, his a pale periwinkle, and exchange a small smile of knowing. Both bore the scars of loves past, and they knew that love didn't come from endless nights in each other's bowers. Love wasn't marked by the passion of a kiss, or the gentle touch of a hand on yours. Such gestures were pleasant, true, and were aspects of love. They would admit to that. But, those become meaningless as time grows. You grow accustomed to the taste of their lips on yours, and your skin eventually feels as if you are touching yourself.

However, these were still children, and ones who bore a great burden. Let them explore the excitement of youth while they still had some innocence left within them. And as they both knew, the loss of that part of your life was the most painful, in so many ways. In essence, it was like your soul ripping itself apart, trying to figure out who it was. Who you are. They had spent countless nights talking about it, conversing until the dim light of the stars were replaced the burning blaze of the sun. The once roaring fire would be nothing but dying embers, and the watching eyes of the forest will have disappeared.

It was in these conversations that the foundation was set, brick by intellectual brick. It started as small conversations, her asking a question about Altamira or his cooking, him answering and asking her about life in Iselia and the culture of her world. Soon, they had become friends, and she was willing to come to him with her troubles; a hurdle she thought she would never cross. She placed in him a level of trust she had promised herself never to do again. He never failed to disappoint her, and never betrayed her confidence. Eventually, they came to discuss their fears, their darkest desires and greatest secrets. He learned of her fear for the children's deaths, her lack of confidence in herself. Before him stood the great Professor, now a helpless woman with a motherly instinct. A small silver tear had begun to twist its way down her face, but she kept her expression firm. However, her eyes glimmered with the fear of death, despite her ability to give life. He did all that was in his power to do to help her, his friend. Lifting his shackled arms above her head, he gently lowered them around her body, pulling her into a hug.

She was surprised at first. In hindsight, anyone probably would have been. It wasn't as if he was known for his warmth or kindness. But, she could not deny that she there in his strong arms. For once, it was as if she was being treated as a normal person with normal fears. She was capable of being helpless and scared as the next. It was just that people would never see that side of her, couldn't see that side of her. She was too busy taking care of others to let anyone take care of her. But, here, in his was okay. She let the tears flow while he whispered comforts in her ear. Then Zelos awoke, and made a sarcastic comment that elicited a kick from him and whack on the head from her once they had untangled themselves. As she turned around from the now unconscious Chosen, she saw a slight blush on his face. Curiosity was apparent in her eyes, but he shook his head, mangy blue hair rocking back and forth. Perhaps another night she would know...

Their talks grew more frequent now. They wouldn't wait for the others to drift off into slumber, but instead grab their meals and sit in a quiet place, usually by the foot of a towering tree, and speak as if it were the last time they would see each other. This of course brought stares from the rest of the group, and Zelos did start talking, as he always did. Genis would glare at the battle artist, and sometimes start swinging his kendama, but never did anything as drastic as his mouth said he would.

This actually became part of their conversations, with her fears of entering a relationship with Genis around. She was the only family he had, and she was afraid of alienating, or worse, losing her brother. He nodded and whispered, he always whispered when he talked to her, his words of comfort to her; pointing out the developing romance between her silver-haired brother and Colette. Lloyd was oblivious to it, as usual, but few things past the blue-haired man's careful gaze. She herself was a little upset for not having realized it.

It was then, when she was laughing under the shade of a giant oak tree, that she asked him. Would he ever love again? Could he ever consider it? It had seemed innocent enough at the time, with the mood between them so pleasant and their laughter lifting up into the sky. But, as soon as the words left her mouth, everything changed. His deep, bark-like laugh ended abruptly, and a cloud passed by the sun, shrouding them in shadow.

His light blue eyes, so contrasting to her own, went downcast, and it seemed as if time was standing still. She was too aware, and it frightened her. She could feel the beating of her heart against her chest, and it was growing faster and louder. The wind blew by threateningly, and she could hear his shallow breathing. In and out, in and out. It started to drive her mad. Say something already! The thought ran across her mind angrily. We've been so open with each other for so long! Why stop now? Say something you fool!

As if he could hear her thoughts, he opened his mouth warily, but no sound came out. He was at war with himself, with his emotions. In their travels, he opened up to her like he had done to no one else, not even Alicia. This woman he was with right now, for indeed she was a woman like none he had ever met, she inspired much in him; confidence, happiness, and acceptance among others.

He couldn't ever forget Alicia, that would be impossible. You never let your first love leave your mind the way you do useless lessons taught in the classroom. He raised his eyes a bit, and looked at the woman staring at him intently. He brought his gaze to hers, trying to gage what was inside her eyes. Intelligence and beauty stood out prominently, but he could also spy caring, fear, and strength inside her orbs. He could spend the day, maybe even the week, staring into her eyes and finding all there was to her.

Her worried question of propriety brought him out of his reverie. Shaking his head, he mumbled something about it being alright, about how he needed to get his thoughts organized. She nodded, doubt written on her face.

Courage was what he needed. The strength to leave Alicia behind, to face a new world without her. He would always love her, there was no question in his mind about that. But, hadn't she told him that she was okay, that he needn't worry about her?

He looked again at the woman sitting across from him. He had fallen for her, and there was no way he could deny that. He was the Pratfall King, after all. He had a tendency to fall. And he had fallen hard this time.

Her voice called out to him again, firm with a hint of gentleness. He stood up and told her to wait, and that he return. He walked quickly to where Zelos was trying win over Sheena, but whose only reward was a luge bump on his head. He silently stole away the basket of chocolate-dipped strawberries and headed back to the tree.

Sitting down, he held out a piece of the fruit to her, asking her to taste. Puzzlement was written on her face, but she consented to his wish. After seeing her swallow, he asked how it tasted. Still confused, she replied, saying that it was sweet, the way one of those should taste. A shy but coy smile appearing on her lips, she asked him what he tasted when he ate one.

He complied, popping a strawberry into his mouth. He took his time chewing, getting the full flavor of the fruit. She watched him with mild amusement, a twinkle in one of hers and confusion in the other.

Finally he swallowed, and she opened her mouth to ask for the taste. He quickly moved to her side, and kissed her; firmly, passionately. Needless to say, she was surprised at first, but quickly responded to the act, the sweet taste of the berry still on both of their mouths.

Soon, they broke away. For all its passion, it was still a chaste kiss. He gazed deeply into her eyes, the brightness of a happiness within his own.

"Does that answer your question?"

"Both of them..."

She chuckled softly, mainly to herself, "I guess all those stories about food might have some validity to them." She gazed up at him, a smile on her face as he joined her laughter.

She needed more strawberries.

Well, tell me what you think. I'm pretty proud of this piece.