There honestly is no point in my writing this, but I only finished the game a few days ago and spent the better part of the actual adventure wishing Luke and Tear would just jump one another. oO;; I don't know why this is, as normally I hate the main pairing in a game, but this one just makes me all warm and fuzzy on the inside.
I also downloaded a bunch of Abyss songs, including the ending music when this takes place. I'm a sap, what can I say?
To Keep a Promise
"Why are… you here?"
What a silent night… Not a single rustle through trees or grass, or even the far off sigh of the settling oceans to disturb it. The Fon Stone belt, so high and pure, spilling its silvery light across the valley, its rays reflected off of the glittering petals of the flowers underfoot.
I remember this place… On a night just like this, I remember being such a fool. I remember being hurtful and spoiled, irritating to be around, and unwilling to pull my own weight. Well… A lot has certainly changed since then.
"This place has… a nice view of Hod." Is it really that she's changed, or just me? We're both stronger, we've both grown. I think that, maybe I can stop living like a child, and maybe that means she'll stop living as stone…
I don't think I took the time to look at her that first night we were here. I noticed shallow things, I know. The curves of her body with the bands of yellow and white along her uniform left little to the imagination at the time. The crystal slippers hugging her feet gave her a grace I couldn't ignore even beyond a veil of ignorance.
I hadn't noticed at that time how the light can hit her eyes, sometimes, at just the right angle, it makes them shimmer and sparkle like perfect crystals. Or was that sparkle just not there when we first met, when she sealed her heart away for her duty? The sandy brown of her hair, in the glow of the petals and fon belt high above, the strands look like ribbons of silver draped across her face.
But physical beauty… isn't why I'm here.
Some of my memories… I can feel them sort of tumbling around out of place in my mind. Images of Daath that make no sense to me occasionally flutter through recollections of endless days confined to the manor in Baticule. Somehow I know in time that these lost moments will settle into something I can understand more clearly, but until then I really need to focus on my memories to make sense of them.
It isn't that hard for me to find the right answers though. Who else was there to stand by me all this time? Everyone else, they were all ready and willing to abandon me. Most of them did… Even though they did in the end come back, and I was able to make amends, there was still a time when each of them still turned their backs to me.
But not her…
"I promised someone…"
She hasn't always been so cold and stark, although in the beginning that was how she started and remained for a good long while. But along the way, over all these months both together and apart, I know her to really be someone warm and delicate inside. Like everything else is just a façade, a shell to protect herself.
In keeping with that protective nature, even I, in all the memories tumbling around in my mind, have never seen her cry. I think that, for all the weeks leading up to this… rebirth of mine, where I thought I was going to die; I was always silently questioning whether or not she'd shed a single tear for me. After all, she never once cried for her brother, why would I be any different?
Well, I suppose I was wrong, and I don't know why but I feel almost ashamed suddenly. I've never seen her shake like this before, not even when poison was coursing through her thicker than blood. Her eyes, they almost look to be giving off a light of their own, rivaling the subtle glow of the flowers and the shining fon stones in the sky.
I suppose I really am bad with words. Even though I hoped for it so much over those agonizing weeks, I never really wanted to be the reason she finally wept… Yet I feel rooted to the ground as a gust of wind rushes up behind me, blowing my cloak askew for a moment as trails of silver shimmer down her cheeks. There are so many things flashing behind her eyes, so many emotions I don't know the words for. All I do is hold my arms out for her, it's all I can do.
Just like how I never really looked at her before, I never held her either. I can feel the eyes of the others watching us closely, but more in shy amazement than with cruel measurements.
The moment she touches me though, it all goes away. The silent night, the voices of our friends, I just close my eyes and let it all vanish. I don't feel the wind at my back or the weight of my gear, all that remains is her, and the gentle perfume of the flowers at our feet. She's so slight for all that she's a soldier and a powerful melodist combined, my arms just circle her so easily. Her face rests against my neck for a moment, before I can feel the heat of her tears soaking into the collar of my shirt and cloak.
She's still trembling though; I can feel her quieting her own cries against me, her gloved hands fisted into the cloth along my front and back. She always has to be so strong though, doesn't she? Could she truly be Tear if she weren't? Turning my face into the soft, silvery lengths of her hair, I don't try placing kisses along the side of her head where they can't be felt. I just do it to know she's there, just so she knows I'm here.
"Don't cry…" I whisper softly, keeping the words low enough to be nothing more than a gentle breath across her ear, "I'm here… I came right back…" Somehow, through the tears I know she's smiling…
"You sure took your time in coming, Luke." I don't want to turn away from her, to alter the way my arms hold her close to me. I don't even want to open my eyes. For a moment, I really do want everyone to just disappear and vanish for at least a little while. The one person I've fought hardest to come back too is right here in front of me, and even now I have to deny that for just a moment longer.
"I made a promise, didn't I?" I question softly, forcing myself to smile as I pull my face away from her, looking to Guy where he stands next to us, his golden blond hair shining silver in the pale light. There's a shine to his eyes as there was to Tear's a moment before, but he isn't emotional enough to let himself cry. Still… even seeing that twitch in his mouth is enough to make me stop being selfish and pay attention to him properly. I'm not going anywhere again; I can give him a few well-deserved moments before committing to someone else. I've still got her in my arms, I should be happy enough with that.
"Yes, yes you did, he's just pointing out how long it took for you to fulfill it." Throughout the many months of our journey, I was actually quite surprised with the way Natalia was able to maintain her composure so strongly. The Princess of Kimlasca stands right in front of me now, the luxurious silks and velvets of her outfit hugging her body as gemstones sparkle around her throat and through the gold swirls of her hair. Something inside me flutters at the thought of being near her, but the feeling doesn't last very long. Somehow the gold of her hair and vibrant jewels just accent the silver shine and modest grace of the woman already held against me.
"Just got back and already in the wrong, hmm?" The words come to me easily for some reason, a smile towards the Princess showing I'm only joking with her.
But really, I always was surprised along our journey because I know how easy it's always been to reduce the Princess to tears. She's never been weak, just always very generous with the waterworks. Seeing her eyes rimmed in red now, a kerchief pulled from one of her sleeves, it's more familiar to me in private than the always-proper-princess the rest of Baticul always sees…
I can feel as Tear shifts away from me, or at least out of my complete embrace. She turns her back into the curve of my arm though, keeping one hand on my back and her head on my shoulder. Glancing down at her curiously, I make to bring her back the way she was, why pull awa—
I don't even get a moment to react, Anise's tiny form abruptly barreling into me as if from nowhere. Maybe Tear saw this reaction coming, but as the tiny Fon Master Guardian locks her arms around my waist, I certainly wasn't expecting it. The moment I feel my back strike the ground, all the air rushes out of my chest, and I'm left staring at the starry sky completely winded for a moment.
"Boo… Tear was running much faster." Trying to sit up, I can see Tear standing over me where she let go with a surprised look on her face. Propping my weight up on my elbow, I look down to see Anise's angry little scowl. With her black hair pulled up and out of her face in two cute pigtails, the long white vest of her uniform is wrinkled from the collision. Her arms are no longer around me as the pink of her sleeves are stained with a bit of green from the flowers and grass beneath me.
But despite her glare, there's something very childish about her face. I think I first saw it when the Fon Master died, that first glimmer to show everyone her age really did matter despite her words. I don't know why, I almost feel as though I should have some sharp retort for her, or be frustrated by her running into me… but really, I'm not.
I can't remember the last time I was able to laugh, the memories still keep swirling around in an inconsistent whirl, but I know it was a long time ago. It feels almost weird to hear my voice in a chuckle, my hand coming up to rest on Anise's head as she climbs off me and I sit up again. I think the same conflict I was just feeling begins to run through her now instead, a sharpness entering the darkness of her eyes before that innocence comes flooding back again. Why is everyone crying tonight though? Aren't they supposed to be happy.
"I believe he was looking forward to having Tear jump on him, less so for a small child to mimic her." The only one not misty-eyed is the one speaking now, and as Tear glances over her shoulder at him, making her way over to me to kneel down on the grass and flowers, Jade is as casual and cryptic as ever.
"Booo! It's just cup size, Colonel! Nothing more nothing less!"
"In my day, more and less made all the difference."
"Colonel!! I don't think that's very appropriate!"
As Natalia's startled cry works it's way into the banter going back and forth between the two other soldiers, I can feel myself smiling softly. Somehow, these memories tell me that for at least one part of me, this expression should be painfully hard to manage. But somehow, while listening to the brewing argument nothing could be more natural.
"You returned just for this?" Tear's voice is soft beside me, and the sound of it just makes my smile that much more true. Turning my head slightly to look towards her where she's kneeling right next to me, there's a softness in her face that I'm not used too, but I think I'd like to be…
"Now, now, princess, I'm sure Jade meant nothing by it…" I almost feel for Guy at the moment, scratching at the back of his head as the three-way argument continues to pick up speed.
"Really now? I thought I was being rather clear. When I was a young man I was always far more likely to enjoy the company of the more well endowed—"
"Colonel Jade Curtiss!"
"Yes, Princess Natalia?"
"No… not quite…" Her gloved hands are folded in her lap, so it's no great feat for me to gently lift one of them up in both of mine. It's strange really, to see how my hands are bare of any scars even after all of the battles painted vividly across my mind. For a moment, I'm tempted to see if her hands are the same, but end up leaving the glove in place across her arm, bringing her fingers up to my lips instead.
"I did make a promise after all." Yes, I think I would like to see that softness in her a bit more often...
"She has a point about Dist though, Jade."
"I believe that was a misunderstanding. I was merely questioning—"
"Oh please, we could hear you through the door y'know!"
"You just keep repeating yourself; you really are no good with words…" That smile of hers… It's the one she always used in memory when putting up with something from me she found roundabout or childish. Aw, but that's a little harsh, isn't it? I only just got back. As she slips her hand from mine, I'm happy just being close enough to her to feel all of this new warmth.
"Actions speak louder…" I wonder why everything's taken on such a dream-like quality tonight. None of the others so much as look around as I gently hook one finger and nudge her chin up with it. She's beautiful in the moonlight, or maybe I've just missed her so much since we said goodbye that I just can't take in any negatives.
"Peony and Nephry, sittin' in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N—"
"Anise, this shall be your first and only warning…"
"First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Nephry with a baby carr—"
"I, who stand in the full light of heavens command thee, who opens the gates of hell…" I wouldn't have thought this a moment that could be spoiled, but as Tear abruptly turns away from me and towards the gathering fonons at Jade's feet, my action misses completely as I nearly pitch forwards into her hair.
"Jade! Don't even joke around with that arte!!"
"…Sorry," Her voice is so soft; I just look back to her and see that slight stain of crimson across her cheeks. Since I'm practically there already, I just let myself lean forwards and rest my head on her shoulder like she was doing to me before. It's rewarding enough to watch the red creep up her neck from the collar of her uniform… To see that softness in her eyes…
"Tear! Luke! A little help, please?!" Sighing, I brush myself off as I stand and hold one hand out to help Tear up as well. An extremely uncomfortable Guy is watching me with hawk's eyes; a tiny Anise clinging to him from behind. Just a short ways across the field of glowing flowers is the culprit, the Necromancer's glasses being cleaned casually on a kerchief from his pocket as Natalia stands in front of him prattling on about proper conduct. Nah, perhaps that right there's the irony instead.
"Are we ready to go then?" I ask calmly, watching as Anise drops her frightened act and folds her hands behind her back properly like the tiny soldier she is.
"Yes sir! The Olympus is waiting just outside the valley." She chirps, "Since the Tartarus is nothing more than scrap metal floating around in the core, Emperor Peony made a new land ship and gave it to Jade to ease the loss. It even has proper guest quarters, an observation deck, and a nifty voice projection glyph on some of the walls!" Poking her cheeks as she speaks, even a near run-in with the Necromancer's artes can't faze this child.
I just smile though, letting her go on about this new vessel as much as she likes as I feel Tear's fingers thread through mine as we walk together. Even with Natalia still wound up over their argument, each of us slowly starts moving as a part of the group again. It's just like when we were traveling for all those long months together. It's like nothing's changed.
"Luke," Stopping with Tear as she stops walking, we're only trailing the others by a small bit; it's no worry to wait a moment.
Turning to her, I end up freezing part way through the motion as something soft and warm brushes against my cheek. I can feel the blood rushing across my face as, in the shadows of the trees overhead now, it's hard to see her face, but she's smiling. Not foolishly or with some out of character giggling and squealing, but just the way she should be. A smile that's Tear's and Tear's alone.
"It means a lot to me… that you kept your promise." She says softly, her fingers unraveling from mine as she suddenly starts walking forwards. I just stand here dumbly for a moment watching her though, until she stops as unexpectedly as she started and turns to look at me. There's only broken panes of moonlight here now as the group seems to have stopped to wait just up ahead of us, but its light enough for me to see them, all of them.
"It…" I don't even know what to say, I really am bad with words.
"C'mon you two, we've got a party in Baticul to crash!" Guy's voice carries well enough in the darkness to cut through the blank sheet of white covering my thoughts and keeping me silent. His call even helps me stop staring at Tear as though the moonlight were some sort of halo. Finally, all I do is smile. No, I grin.
"It's good to be home."
Heh, the chant Jade starts on is the one for Indignation, a Tales of skill I've never gotten in either Abyss or Symphonia.
Oh well, Fluffy fluff! I loves fluff. I also have nearly three Tales of the Abyss multi-chapters formulated now as well. Bugger. Then again, knowing me and my corner-cutting-ness, one of those three will likely be integrated into one of the others.
For hints as to the setting up of those stories, make sure you've read all three of my Abyss One-shots: Ponderings, The Next Fon Master, and this one; To Keep a Promise. But I need to finish my Zelda work first… Oh well, ABYSS!!