A/N: Tales of Symphonia is Namco's. Anyway, so I got to thinking, if I guessed it, some astute Symphonian, even without Yuan's resources or my omniscience, must have as well.
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Kratos sat on the pebble-strewn ground where the group had set up camp, absently petting a sleeping Noishe. The protozoan was curled up against his old friend, making faint, contented sounds, ears and paws occasionally twitching in the manner of dreaming animals. No one besides Lloyd had questioned the dog-like creature's affinity for the 'mercenary' – it was assumed that the auburn was a man of many mysteries, which suited Kratos. He preferred omission to outright deception, and it saved him from having to make up stories – something he'd done enough of already, since joining the Chosen's group.
The Seraph's glance slid over the people arrayed around the campfire – Raine, sitting comfortably and buried in The Architecture of Balacruf, Genis, fast asleep next to his sister, and Colette, curled up, eyes closed despite no longer having the ability to sleep – before settling on Lloyd, as it inevitably did. Whether he willed it or not, his eyes automatically sought out the young swordsman. At least, whenever he could safely watch him without being seen doing such a thing.
At the moment, the boy was sprawled flat on his stomach, head nestled in his arms. He was breathing very softly – though audibly enough to the angel's ears – and a lock of hair had fallen into his face, obscuring one eye. The brown strands fluttered with every breath, drawn in towards the mouth, slightly ajar, before being blown gently away with the exhaled air.
Kratos' fingers itched to brush that lock away, as he hadn't done in over fourteen years. Instead, he let his fingertips rest briefly on the pendant hidden under his shirt, against his skin where he could always feel the weight of it. That locket was the past – all the tatters that remained of it. This – this camp, this guise, this life – this was the present. He had orders to follow, and Lloyd… Well, he had a new family. The dwarf who had adopted him – stolen him, a dark voice growled; saved him, the stronger one insisted – had more right to call him 'son' than the Seraph ever would, now.
And still…his eyes lifted, every time the swordsman said the word 'dad'.
Despite everything that lay between them now, Kratos wanted to know his son. Every tiny bit of information gleaned, he tucked away carefully. Every expression, every nuance, he memorized. By some miracle, he had found the child he'd lost so many years ago, and even though he didn't dare reveal the truth to Lloyd, he refused to let a single moment of the little time he had go to waste.
He forced himself to keep his distance as much as possible, treating Lloyd's attempts to open up to him with silence or sarcasm more often than not – though in truth he treasured each one, and marvelled at the boy's unshakeable trust. He played the cold, aloof, arrogant man, who was only in it for the gald, for fear – it was fear, he realized – that even a hint of his relationship to Lloyd would somehow be uncovered. More than anything, he refused to put the swordsman in that position. It would endanger him, if the wrong people found out, but more importantly… It was enough to be betrayed by a companion, but he would not let his son be betrayed by the father who'd abandoned him one already. He did not know whether this was truly for Lloyd's sake, or some result of his own weakness, but he stood by it resolutely.
So yes, he kept his distance. He made it a sort of mission to help the boy become more proficient with his blades – he could do that much for him, at least; he would not let him be killed because of a misstep, as he nearly had once before. And he watched.
Lloyd had rolled onto his side, and was now facing Kratos, legs tucked up slightly, the curled fingers of one hand resting in front of his mouth. The Seraph couldn't help but smile. He looked so content, so… He blinked, and looked away abruptly. So much like Anna…
He felt the prickling feeling eyes on him, then. Careless… He glanced up to see Raine gazing at him thoughtfully, her silver eyes alight as though he were a puzzle in one of her ruins. Her book lay half-open, forgotten in her lap. Too careless.
"I see," she murmured almost breathlessly.
Kratos returned her stare blankly, almost defiantly, but said nothing.
The professor glanced pointedly at Colette, before continuing slowly. "Lloyd…has grown strong, hasn't he, Kratos?"
The Seraph grunted.
"He must have inherited a good deal of strength from his father." Just a hint of question.
"I'm not acquainted with many dwarves," he muttered, after a fraction of a moment's hesitation.
She shook her head. "Not Dirk. I was referring to his biological father."
Kratos considered this. Well, it had been too much to hope. "The man is dead, isn't he?"
"I suppose…" She hurried on. "That is, no father would deliberately leave a child without reason, would he?" She looked at him expectantly.
"…I'm not acquainted with many fathers, either."
"Hmm…of course not." She laughed, though it sounded forced. "Well, your training with Lloyd seems to be going well, at any rate."
"You must know the secret, to get him to listen. Sometimes he has the attention span of a three-year-old…" The most imperceptible of smiles played on her lips.
Kratos' eyes hardened. Enough. "We all have our secrets, don't we, Professor?"
Raine flushed angrily. "I don't– …" She glanced at Genis and sighed wearily. "I…suppose we do."
The Seraph felt a momentary pang of pity, but quickly shook it off. Out of the corner of his eye, he could still see Lloyd, who had rolled onto his back. So much like Anna, and…too much like me. Blood, it seemed, was a problematic thing, no matter one's situation.
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Due to a profusion of distractions, this was a while in the making…but I hope you liked it. Please review, if you did! Any comments at all are appreciated. Thanks.