Settling Scores

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Summary: (Pre Tower of Salvation) One night, Kratos finally gives in and takes Lloyd out to train one on one. But is there anything the master can learn from the student?

Spoilers: Do not read unless you have gotten past the Flanoir scenes.

A/N: This is kinda random, not the best quality and maybe borderline OoC on Kratos' part, but I still luff it.

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Kratos was especially sour that night, anyone with half a brain could tell that.

Lloyd... could not.

Throughout the day, the young swordsman was in an upbeat mood as they traveled to Hima. Therefore, if one were to compare the moods of the two swordsmen, they would most likely be on completely different poles—if even on the same planet.

As their ragtag group began to set up camp for the night, Kratos merely plopped himself down on the ground a few yards from the fire they had managed to spark; it didn't matter if he set up any sleeping materials, not like they'd be of any use.

Much to the chagrin of everyone else, Lloyd still had energy to spare—plenty to spare. After attempting to strike up several conversations with the less awake people in their group, such as Raine and Genis, and getting snores in response, he finally fell quiet himself. Of course, that was not to say he'd suddenly lost his energy, not even by a long shot.

Lloyd sat up, looking at the fire, then the forest, then the stars, and back at the fire again, all the while rapidly tapping one foot on his sleeping mat. Not before long, both feet started tapping.

Naturally, Kratos found this habit quite irritating. "Lloyd," he said in a calm, but firm voice. "Please stop that."

The boy snapped his attention from the stars. "Stop what?"

"Tapping your feet," he answered patiently. "It's rather annoying."

"Oh, hehe, sorry,"

Silence.

"...Hey, Kratos?"

He closed his eyes as he withheld some distasteful words; could that boy ever be silent? "...What?"

"Could you train me for a while? Please?" Lloyd asked, his eyes wide with excitement. Meanwhile, he seemed to have forgotten to control himself and began tapping one foot again.

Kratos shook his head in disbelief. "Of all times, Lloyd, now?"

"Of course!" he beamed, "No one else is going to be training right now and I want to get even stronger!"

As much as Kratos just wanted some alone time without interruptions, he wouldn't be one to deny the boy's wish to become more apt. After all, he knew how imperative it was that he taught Lloyd most of what he knew before they reached the Tower of Salvation—that is, if they wanted to stand any chance against him. Slowly—disdainfully—he rose and said, "Alright, but not for too long. You need to get some rest."

The mercenary hadn't even finished his sentence before Lloyd was up and ready to follow him into the forest, smiling his asinine grin—a smile that he had not seen in over a decade.

Kratos led him to a clearing in the trees and crossed his arms over his chest as Lloyd assumed his position across from him, swords drawn and in a battle stance. "What are you doing?" he asked the younger swordsman flatly.

"Waitin' for you to draw your sword," Lloyd answered casually, bouncing his weight from foot to foot as he stood.

"So you want to spar, is that it?"

He nodded enthusiastically.

Kratos sighed, halfheartedly withdrew his sword and charged at Lloyd, who—realizing it would be worse if he went as well—threw up his guard and prepared for his strike. Lloyd grinned when their blades clashed, as he was just about ready to parry the attack when he felt a hand shove his right shoulder until he finally lost his balance and fell flat on his back.

He sheathed his sword, saying, "How can I spar you when you can't even properly defend yourself?"

"What?" the adolescent argued. "But I blocked your sword!"

"Then tell me why you're sitting in the dirt,"

"You pushed me!"

"I did so to illustrate where your guard could be easily breached." Kratos responded stoically. "If this were a real battle, you'd likely have a weapon protruding from your right shoulder about now."

Lloyd stood up, visibly offended. "But if—" he started angrily, then stopped himself, instead asking. "Okay, then, how can I fix it?"

"What you must do is position the sword in your left hand vertically."

"Okaay..." he said shakily before trying what the mercenary recommended. When it looked right to him, he blurted, "Like this?"

"...Your other left, Lloyd."

He laughed sheepishly and tried again. "...How about this?"

Kratos nodded in approval. "…It's better,"

"Okay then!" Lloyd beamed, "I'm ready for a rematch!"

The older swordsman sighed, "Alright, one more." and initiated it in the same fashion as the time before. He knew Lloyd would be anticipating the same strike—or should, really. He never knew what on earth went through that boy's mind—but carried on with it none-the-less to test his transferring information ability.

To his slight ease, Lloyd correctly guarded the attack, then performed a parry even Kratos didn't think of. He side-stepped back with his left leg and dipped his left shoulder, causing the seraphim to become off balance, quickly swiveled around so he was behind him and pushed him forward.

Lloyd tried to maintain a straight face as he said, "How can I spar you when you can't even properly defend yourself?" Failing miserably at such though, when the last words came out as a laugh as Kratos lay face first in the dirt.

Mm… dirt. He hadn't tasted that since… childhood, perhaps?

The younger swordsmen stopped laughing as he slowly rose back onto his feet. Dusting himself off, Kratos admitted, "That was a very… surprising antic, Lloyd…"

Used to the way the mercenary handed out 'compliments', Lloyd waited patiently for him to continue his sentence by pointing out all of the flaws and by saying how reckless and stupid that move could be in a real battle.

Silence.

"…Did you hear me, Lloyd?"

"Y-yeah," he answered hesitantly, before letting his mouth run. "…Wait, you're not going to say how stupid or reckless that was and point out my every flaw?"

Kratos shrugged, putting away his sword. "You executed it with subtlety and precision, and assuming instead of pushing them with your hands you'd use your sword. I suppose that would be a fairly handy technique to have in your arsenal."

He beamed widely, "You really think so?"

He did not answer, but turned back to camp. "That's enough for tonight. Let's return to camp." He looked at Lloyd, expecting him to follow; he nodded reluctantly and caught up.

Kratos found it oddly pleasant, but after sparring with Lloyd, he felt a lot better. Not only that, but also more confident in his son's abilities as they neared the Tower of Salvation, when they'd really be put to the test.

He shook his head to himself; best not think about it until the time arises.

"Hey… Kratos? Th-thanks for training me,"

He managed a small smile. "Actually, I think you've taught me one thing in this…"

"Really? No way! What?" Lloyd asked, completely enthralled with the idea of him being 'superior' to Kratos, even if only on something so small like this.

Kratos then shoved the boy from behind and walked on.

"Revenge is human nature."