The Sinner's Soul

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Summary: (Pre-SF) Lloyd talks with the person he most trusts before the upcoming battle and asks of them a favor—a favor that could throw off the delicate balance of what it means to win and lose.

Spoilers: None so much for the game as for the story it's tied into.

A/N: Thanks much to Umi Kashinsha for helpin' me out with some of the later parts in this for I was utterly lost in my own writing. X3

Very important that this is read: (Whatever pairing) does NOT directly affect the story or the ending, so please, if you do not like what goes on in this, by all means disregard it. But do not stop reading completely just because you don't like (the pairing). Thanks!

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"Aren't you afraid?"

"No."

"But... what if everything doesn't go as planned?"

"Then it doesn't,"

"You... I... I feel like... like I don't even know you anymore..."

"You don't,"

"I... don't know you anymore."

"Why are you doing this, Lloyd? What are you fighting for?"

"...I fight for this planet and for all who inhabit it. I fight for good... for evil... and for all those caught in the crossfire."

"...But do you fight for yourself, as well?"

"I... don't know."

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I stare lifelessly into the depths of the campfire before us, the only noise to be heard for miles is the crackling of the flame as it licks away at the wood—the very source of its life. We, too, are like flares; bright and alive even in the darkest of nights... and we too, survive only at the cost of the very source of our life.

But what about the Other? Off what could that survive? It'll soon be us, if I don't take action.

"...Sheena,"

She looks up at me from across the fire; her chocolate sorrow-filled eyes illuminated by the light of the blaze. "What is it?"

I look up to the stars overhead. "C'mere for a sec,"

She nods hesitantly, and moves to sit down beside me. I can tell she's trying her best to bite something back as she's awfully tense. Something tells me to stay silent. When I fail to say anything, she looks down at the ground, then squeezes her eyes shut and takes a deep breath. I continue to remain silent.

Finally, a sob escapes her.

She knows as well as I do that this is my last day as a mortal, that tomorrow life as we all know it will change drastically—and she's not ready. I'm not either, so I have to cherish what time I have left.

I take her gently into my arms, and she cries into my chest.

"I can't go back. I can't go back after tomorrow," I say in a quiet voice, "...so I need you to do me a favor."

"No," she sputters, "Just don't. You don't have to do anything! You've already done enough!"

I speak calmly; this only makes her angrier. "I have to, Sheena. No one else can—or will, for that matter. After all—"

She pounds a fist on my chest, arguing, "No you don't! Stop being a hero... can't you just live a normal life for once? Do something for yourself this time! Fuck mana! Fuck everyone else! Just fight for yourself, Lloyd..."

"—if I don't do this, there'll be no chance for us to live a normal life."

She pauses, then looks up at me, tears still welling in her beautiful russet eyes. "For... us?"

More than anything else, I feel a sharp pain deep inside me—where I still exist as myself and not whatever I'm turning into. I'm terrified of what I'm becoming, I'll admit it. ...I can't give her a reassuring smile to put her at ease.

"I'm sorry, Sheena." I mumble as I lower my eyes guiltily and glance away. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see she wears an inquisitive look; I go on. "I need you to do me a favor,"

"What?" she replies softly.

Inexplicably, I can't seem to get the words out; all is silent. I can feel a great power inside me rise above the silence, I say, "I need you to... hold on to my soul for me."

Sheena speaks as if that was the oddest request she's ever been given, I can't blame her. "Wha... what? But why...?"

"Tomorrow..." I start slowly, "...tomorrow I don't know what in the world will happen, or who I'll be then. ...When I resign my humanity, it's likely the new mana could overwhelm me and I could lose myself completely if that happens.

"But if it's not fully me to begin with, then there's only this body to lose... I can overcome that,"

She looks horrified, "But Lloyd, if you lose your body, what could you return to?"

I can feel part of me overpowering the presence inside, and I manage a small grin, looking up at the stars above. "Martel knows what she's doing, I... don't,"

She gazes at the stars as well, silent.

"So... will you do me the favor?"

She closes her eyes and sighs, looking back at me with reluctance hidden behind her assured pretense. "...Alright,"

I nod, leaning closer to her and she to me until our lips meet in an avid kiss, which—to my slight surprise—Sheena makes even deeper of her own will. I can feel my lesser, boyish self wanting to break from this kiss, but I can't for I know that when I do I'll never again be with her like this.

Subtly, I can feel my soul seeping into her—my happiness, my sorrow, my mercy, my fear, my love—all poured from this hapless form I've been given into my only beacon of hope for existing in this new world. And slowly, I begin to feel less... myself; I'm losing touch with everything around me.

I feel myself pull away, and observe what is around me.

The fire, once a warm source of energy in the thick of the darkness, is now a cold, mirthless glow. The crackling of the embers on the wood, like little bubbly pops before, they're now non-existent.

She stands up, staring down at me miserably. "Good luck," she utters.

I gaze back at her, seeing through her soul and into my own—I see how much there is to lose; how content and placid everyone could be. I see things I never dreamt possible, things that only happen in fairy tales and stories of the like.

But before that, a twisted and chaotic road lies in wait, rocky and unpaved as it teeters between one world and the next. Those of whom I cherish await me at the road's end, blades splattered with my blood and drawn—thirsting for more. And yet I see myself protecting them. They, the same people who chase for my death, are ultimately the ones I need to protect the most.

What is there to gain? I feel a smirk make its way onto my features.

I'm no longer afraid to lose.