A.N: No spoilers, but a few passing references to skits. Also, everyone, if you could... please send in a request for FF.N to add a ToA section. I'm getting rather annoyed with spamming the Symphonia section with these oneshots, and perhaps more requests would bring it to their attention more quickly.


Picnic


Meadow grasses blew peacefully in a light breeze, picking up flower petals and distant birdsong. Small animals and monsters scurried through the dense undergrowth, searching for seeds and even smaller animals to prey upon. It was a tranquil scene, all the many parts of nature singing in seamless harmony.

Then a blade swiped through the air, cutting down the tops of the nearby rushes and clean through the hapless monster behind them. Red blood spurted from the wound, staining the ground and grass, before the body of the dead creature slumped to the dirt.

"The Albiore just had to break down when we were flying over the middle of nowhere," Luke griped, kicking the carcass away from him and continuing to trudge through the knee-high meadow grass. "I'm going to kill Guy when we finally get back..."

"Well, I think this is actually quite fun," said Jade, popping up from behind the red-haired swordsman. Out of long practice, Luke managed to avoid looking startled... mostly. "A brisk walk, some fresh air... it would do you children all some good."

"But it'll help you too, right, Colonel?" asked Anise. Sitting atop Tokunaga, she was well clear of the scratchy grass that irritated the others.

"Oh, I'm sure this is actually more harmful than good for me," said Jade, his smile unwavering. "My immune system isn't what it used to be, I'm afraid. I'll probably catch something from being out in the elements, like pneumonia... rheumatism... arthritis... bubonic plague..."

"...He looks like he could run fifty miles and still not be breathing hard," Tear muttered.

Luke rolled his eyes at the Colonel. "Tell me again why you're coming with us instead of helping Guy fix the Albiore?"

"As I've told you before, I'm really no good with hardware," Jade replied, pushing his glasses back into place. "Besides, it looked like he was having so much fun dismantling the ship further, I couldn't really bear to stop him."

"I guess he and Noelle will be all right trying to fix it by themselves until we can get back with parts..." said Tear. "But I still don't understand why Natalia insisted on staying with them. She doesn't know anything about fon machinery."

"She probably just didn't want to get her clothes dirty," Luke said, rolling his eyes. He glanced down at his own outfit. "And I don't blame her. I'm probably going to have to just burn this..."

"It's your own fault for wearing white while traveling," said Tear.

"Well, excuse me, Ms. Awkward Looking Dress," said Luke. "How do you even move properly in that thing?"

"This is an official Order of Lorelei uniform," Tear returned.

"Yeah? Then how come we haven't seen anyone else wearing one?"

"I'm starving," Anise moaned, cutting into the argument. "Can you two stop your lover's quarrel long enough to make some food?"

Both Luke and Tear began to turn red. "Anise, you know it's not like that," said Tear, turning away quickly.

"Be that as it may, we have been walking for quite a while," Jade interjected smoothly. "That looks like a nice spot to stop up ahead. I'm getting quite tired, myself."

The others just stared at him, which he ignored as usual. Tear shook her head. "All right, I suppose I'm rather hungry myself..."

The group halted beneath a large oak tree growing at the edge of the meadow. Its canopy gave welcome shade from the sun and beneath it was breezy and pleasant. Tear sank to the ground beneath the tree and took the item bag from Luke. Sensing the party had stopped, Mieu immediately poked his head out of it and rolled out onto the ground.

While the other three settled themselves, Tear began to rummage in the bag. The tiny sack had a fonic arte applied to it that allowed it to hold far more than its size should have allowed. Reaching deep inside, her arm appeared to vanish for a moment before she emerged with half a loaf of bread. "...There doesn't seem to be much here," she sighed, placing the loaf on a nearby rock. "We have this, two apples, and a half-eaten head of lettuce..."

Mieu looked slightly guilty. Luke glared at him. "Thing, you know you're not supposed to get into our food without asking!" he admonished.

"I'm sorry, Master... I was hungry," the cheagle replied.

"Ooh, that's not even enough to make a sandwich!" Anise said, flopping onto her back and staring up at the clouds. "I'm going to die if I don't get some food soon!"

"Well, we could always resort to cannibalism," said Jade, far too cheerfully. "Or perhaps it's time for Mieu to fulfill his role as emergency rations..."

"Mieuuu..."

"Jade, don't even joke about that," Tear admonished, reaching over to scoop up the cheagle. The small creature looked very happy to be cuddled. "You're scaring him."

"Mieu's too useful to eat, sadly," said Luke. He picked up a stick and began to trace patterns in the dust beside his legs.

Mieu's ears perked up again. "Master says I'm useful!"

"...You go on believing that, Mieu," Anise sighed.

"Well, actually," said Jade, reaching into his personal item bag, "I do have some ham. With that and the remnants of the lettuce you should be all right, Anise." He removed a cloth sack filled with slices of cooked meat.

"Where in the world did you get this?" Tear asked, taking the sack from him. It felt cool, as though it had an arte applied to keep its contents refrigerated.

"A magician never reveals his secrets," Jade replied airily.

Luke took the bag from Tear and opened it. "This looks fresh... what kind of animal is it from, anyway...?"

"It looks like... rappig meat..." Tear said slowly, then put a hand to her mouth. "...We passed that herd of wild ones earlier... And then Jade fell back and disappeared..."

"...and then we saw a pillar of smoke and heard squealing sounds," Luke finished, putting a hand to his forehead.

"...I really don't think I want to eat this anymore," said Tear, pushing the sack away.

"Well, I'm still starving," Anise declared, snatching up the bag. "I don't care where it came from, it's food and it's good!" She took two slices of bread and crammed some of the ham between them, stuffing the sandwich into her mouth.

Luke shook his head, picking up one of the apples. "Suit yourself... but Jade, why did you get all that rappig meat, anyway? Did you know we were low on supplies?"

"I was going to use them as cultures for growing different varieties of poisonous bacteria," Jade replied.

Anise immediately spat the sandwich out. "What?!"

"Oh, don't worry, Anise, I haven't treated them yet," Jade assured her. "Of course, I do have a number of toxic things in my bag that might have accidentally contaminated them... It's rather difficult to conduct truly valid scientific experiments while traveling."

"Tear, this time I mean it," Luke said, turning to the melodist. "We're never, ever eating anything he gives us."

"...Agreed," Tear replied.

"Well, I'm not hungry anyway," Anise snapped, jumping up and throwing the rest of the sandwich to the ground. She began to march off. "Let's just get to a town already and get Guy those stupid parts he needs!"

Tear and Luke rose as well, Luke biting into the apple and Mieu surreptitiously snatching the rest of the lettuce before hopping back into the item bag.

Jade continued to sit, watching them walk away. "They all take me far too seriously," he said to himself, shaking his head. Glancing to the right, he noticed the discarded bag of meat. He picked it up and considered it for a moment. Then he smiled, and pocketed it. "Ah well," he said, as he climbed to his feet and began to follow the others at a leisurely pace, "That just makes it all the more fun..."


-end

A.N: In case you were wondering, this idea came from Jade's reference to Guy having previously 'crashed the Albiore into a mountain' in 'Sight'.