A Chilling Task
by Meimi

Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with Namco or anyone who hold rights to Tales of the Abyss. It isn't mine, I'm just playing with it.

Spoiler Warning: Uhm, if you don't know who Asch is, it's a spoiler?

They really had a bad habit of getting separated from the others at the absolute worst of times. Not that it had seemed like things would go bad in the beginning, but he really ought to have known better. When they were both involved, events just had a way of nose diving. Every. Single. Time.

Luke grimaced as Asch's deathgrip on his upper arms tightened further, the God-General's forehead pressing harder against his shoulder as he wrapped his fingers around the hilt of the dagger sticking out of Asch's side. He should have noticed sooner. Luke silently berated himself ceaselessly over his lack of attention. If he had paid better attention, then this wouldn't have happened. Not that he had even realized what was going on at the time. He'd been too busy trying to not get skewered by the Oracle Knights in front of him. Who, quite frankly, had been dead set on turning him into a pincushion. It really hadn't been all that different from every other time they ran into trouble. Generally, one way or another he'd get shoved out of range of something by Asch, which would promptly be followed by a "Be careful, idiot!" comment which he'd mostly have to ignore so he could go on his merry way of trying not to die.

It had ended just like every other time before too. They'd been left standing, and everybody else had been heaps on the ground. He tried to avoid thinking about that particular aspect of the aftermath. Luke still... didn't like it. He didn't think he ever would, and well, he was kinda glad about that. He didn't want people to ever become things that didn't matter, because then he'd be just like Van. He secretly indulged the thought that Asch felt the same way, but he wasn't fool enough to broach the subject. Asch just didn't do the talking thing. But at any rate, they'd still been standing, the knights hadn't. End of story. Though, not really.

Asch had appeared a little bit more out of breath than usual. It had seemed... odd at the time. But Asch had simply turned away, sheathed his sword and walked stiffly towards the door. "Come on, dreck, let's get you back to the others." Asch's words had been delivered with the typical disdain, but there had been an obvious strain to them. He should have asked. He should have done something.

But then... did Asch really think so little of him? He wasn't that useless, was he? True, he'd never really had to deal with something like this, but that didn't mean he wouldn't at least try to do something about it. Right? Luke frowned in uncertainty as he secured his grip on the hilt and prepared to pull it out. He could do this. He could. He just... "Are you-," he began weakly, then cleared his throat and tried again, "Are you okay with this?"

Asch breath seemed harsh and loud to his ears, despite being muffled by his coat. This was- "Just do it already, you idiot." The words were hissed out in aggravation, but the pain behind them was more than evident. He didn't want to do this. He didn't want to be here. This was not something that someone like him could do.


There was no one else. He had to be the one. He was the only one. Gritting his teeth, Luke braced himself for what was to come. "Okay. Just... hold on. I'll be quick." He felt a movement against his shoulder, almost as if Asch were nodding in acknowledgement, but he paid it little heed. He was already pulling, a quick steady slide. He tried not to think too much about the why of the short sickening resistance at the beginning. He honestly didn't think that he'd be able to cope if he allowed himself to really consider it. But regardless, the blade was soon out and immediately thrown across the floor and then Luke found himself fighting a losing battle against the rising panic within himself.

The blade had been longer than he'd thought it would be. He'd thought it would be shorter. Asch's apparent lack of concern about it had led him to believe that it wasn't too bad. But... but... Luke glanced over at the bloody knife glinting on the floor and then quickly looked away. What was he going to do? He didn't know what to do! Why did this have to happen when they weren't with any of the others? They would at least know what to do! Anyone else would do! Just not him! He was useless!

Luke chewed on his bottom lip as he did the only thing he knew would work, of a sorts. Asch shuddered in his embrace, but then, he hadn't stopped shivering for quite awhile now. That wasn't a good sign. He knew that much at least. Damnit! He had to do something! "What-" He closed his eyes tightly and grit his teeth as he tripped over his words yet again. Why couldn't he speak plainly? Why did his voice have to fail him right now of all times? Blowing out a silent, irritated breath, he tried again, "What do I do now?"

A minute passed, and then another, and Luke began to fear that he wouldn't get an answer at all. But then, finally, a pained whisper that almost bordered on a whimper. "Heal it."

"What?" Luke burst out in shock, his mouth hanging open, completely agape as his mind refused to even compute what he had just been told.

"Heal it." A hissed explanation, sounding far too weak and tremulous for the feared God-General, Asch the Bloody. It wasn't right. He shouldn't be like this. Neither of them should be like this. No one, especially him, should ever have to depend on Luke like this. It just... wasn't right. He was useless. Pointless. He couldn't do anything worthwhile. "You're a seventh fonist, dreck. I know you've had some sort of lesson in harnessing your hyper resonance. Well, time for you to learn to do something simpler."

"But- I- I don't- I don't know how to do that," Luke muttered dumbly as he looked down at the wound and gulped hard. He couldn't fix something like this. He didn't even know where to start.

"Well, either you do it," Asch murmured, the pain and weakness taking whatever bite there might have been out of his words, "or I bleed to death. Your choice."

"But, I just- I don't-" Luke trailed off into silence as he glanced over towards Asch's head. His face was still hidden from him, still buried in his shoulder. If he could just... No. He couldn't possibly- Luke shook his head unhappily and then looked back down at the bleeding wound. How was he supposed to do something like this on his own? He didn't even know where to start. What was he supposed to do, start a hyper resonance and hope that he didn't blow them both to god knows where? Surely not.

"If you don't at least try," Asch stated flatly as his grip on Luke loosened slightly and his arms slid down, "Then you might as well have just killed me yourself. Or was that your aim?"

"Don't be stupid!" Luke shot out in complete disbelief. That he would even suggest such a thing- "Asch?" Luke prompted when the God-General seemed to relax bonelessly against him, but he received no answer. Nothing at all. "Asch?" He added a shake and a bit of panic then, but still nothing. Either the jerk had passed out or simply didn't find him worth the effort anymore. Neither option was very appealing. Asch always found him worth the effort to insult or bitch at. This wasn't-

Well, he'd just have to do something now. If he didn't do anything then he'd be left alone and that just wasn't... he couldn't... He didn't want to be alone. Asch had to stay and bitch at him for being a moron. It just wouldn't be right if that changed any. So... he'd... just have to learn. On his own. And quickly.

Sighing heavily, Luke leaned down, burying his face in the crook of Asch's neck and the long crimson hair that fell far past it. He hesitated then, how could he not, but then finally, he steeled himself and reached down. His fingers slid through the warm, slick blood -too much-, but it wasn't difficult to find the edges of the gaping wound. Not hard at all. He just... he just had to heal it, that was all. He could do that much. Seventh fonons weren't hard to come by. They always answered his call. Surely they'd be able to handle this sort of job in no time at all. They'd always done what he'd asked of them before.

But that knowledge didn't stop him from praying. It didn't stop the tremors in his hand as the expected soft, golden glow washed over them both. And it didn't stop him from mumbling his usual mantra whenever he was alone. The one he could never forget, regardless of how many times he got yelled at for saying it.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."