To See So Clearly
By Queenie Z

Colette glanced behind her as she exited the hidden village of Mizuho. Being a village of ninja, many of the inhabitants were still awake, even at this time of night, occasionally shifting their subtle gaze onto her, but saying nothing. However, she didn't want the eyes of the villagers following her, so she left the small shinobi town in hopes of finding some peace.

Peace... ever since that day at the Tower of Salvation, peace had been elusive to her. There was a part of her that was wrought with the fear of what might have happened had she lost her soul forever. The other, however, was weighed down by guilt. It had been her life-long duty to sacrifice her body to the angels so that Sylvarant would be safe. She knew that she was supposed to die that day... why didn't she?

She looked up at the Tower of Salvation, its length seemingly endless and hidden by the stars and the clouds. Her fate - her destiny - sat there, looming over the horizon. Was it really worth running? Was it worth being a failed Chosen just to stay alive?

Colette's eyes filled with tears as a dichotomy of feelings tore her apart inside. By staying alive, she thought, all she ever did was cause trouble for everyone. Because of her, Cruxis, the Renegades, and even Tethe'alla's Church of Martel were after them. Because of her, so many people had been hurt or even killed. And now, because of her, even Lloyd was...

"Colette? What are you doing out here?"

It was Lloyd. His left arm and leg were both bandaged, along with the crown of his head. He shifted his weight to the right, putting his hand on the trunk of a tree to keep his balance. Seeing him hurt like this only made Colette feel even guiltier - earlier that day, they had all fought a powerful monster. Just as the creature launched a mighty swing of its tail, Colette ducked to avoid it. However, Lloyd was standing right behind her; the attack hit him instead. The monster was defeated eventually, but Lloyd suffered a broken arm and leg and a cracked skull.

She looked away from him in order to hide her tears. "Lloyd... please, don't - you'll hurt yourself..."

"I'll be fine," he replied nonchalantly, "but the question is, will you be?"

"I'm okay, really. Don't worry about me."

He frowned. "You know what kind of monsters come out here at night?"

"I'm -" but the girl couldn't finish. Her lip began to quiver as tears rolled down her face.

Lloyd limped closer to her. "Are you crying?" he asked, his concern evident in his face. "What's wrong?"

Colette quickly turned away and headed towards the tower. "I'm okay. I'm fine. I just - I just have to take care of some unfinished business."

"Unfinished - wait! Where are you going?"

She didn't turn around. "Lloyd... please, be happy... and tell everyone else that I'm sorry..."

Lloyd was confused. Why would she sound so final all of the sudden? It was as if she was going to the tower so she could...

Suddenly, he realized what it was she was trying to do. And he wasn't going to let her. He limped up to her and grabbed her arm.

"No!" he cried, "Don't go! You can't...!"

Colette looked back at him. "But it's my fault!" she said tearfully, "You - everyone - they all have to suffer because of me!"

Lloyd looked at her sternly. "Colette, you know that's not true!"

"Yes, it is!" she yelled, her sobbing now uncontrollable, "If I didn't duck, you wouldn't - if I had died and become an angel, then - then..."

She suddenly felt a pair of warm, strong arms around her. Despite his broken arm, Lloyd had taken her and pulled her close.

"Stop it," he said. "Stop saying that. Nothing would have been better if you died. People would still have to suffer."

The girl just stood there, in his arms, stunned into silence.

"I couldn't let you die... I just couldn't. You're too important to me."

She felt him cling even harder to her. The momentary tinge of warmth she felt was soon replaced by confusion. "But, Lloyd... what about the world?"

"I know there's another way," he said with determination, "one that could save both the worlds... one where you wouldn't have to leave me."

Colette was shocked. He didn't want her to leave him. His side. Was she really good enough to be wanted like that? To be needed? Even... to be loved?

Suddenly, all her pain and insecurity was gone. She wanted to hold him, to kiss him, to thank him for everything he had done to make her feel loved for who she was. However, she couldn't - all she could do was cry and let all of her conflicting emotions - joy, sadness, fear, love - pour into his chest and stain his undershirt with her tears.

So that was what she did. And he held her, occasionally stroking her hair. He let her weep until her tears ran dry, and he even noticed his own eyes watering as he felt the pain she must have held on to for so long. Finally, she looked up into his face, her eyes and her cheeks still red.

"Thank you," she whispered, smiling. "Everything you've done... thank you, Lloyd."

Lloyd blushed as Colette's hand reached to touch his cheek. "You're... you're welcome, I guess."

Colette looked down again. "I just wish I would do the same thing for you... if only I had gotten hurt instead of you -"

"You dork," interrupted Lloyd, "you only would have gotten it worse. You could have been killed."

"But what about you?"

He grinned. "Me? I've had worse. This is just a little scratch."

She giggled and looked into his eyes. Those rich, brown eyes that could see the good in everything around them... how she had longed to see the world in such a light! But now, with his help, she was finally beginning to see clearly the hope of these worlds - her own hope, and Lloyd's as well - for the first time.

And finally, she was able to kiss him.