Author's Note: This would take place pretty early in the game. Exactly when should be fairly obvious, provided you've actually played it. Er, I guess spoilers if you really haven't gotten that far.

I'm going to be gone for the next week. Sorry I didn't have time to update my chapter story before leaving. Have a random one-shot to tide you over.

Luke tramped behind his traveling companions, silently cursing his terrible luck. It would have at least made him feel better if he were allowed to be in front, but unfortunately he had not the slightest clue how to get where they were going. Hell, he didn't even remember where they were trying to get anymore. What was it? Kaitzur? It didn't matter much if he was right or not; either way he was stuck following others, like some kind of servant.

At least they were giving him another chance to prove himself in battle. His pride was still smarting from the fact that he completely froze up in front of a human opponent, and he had to be protected by a girl. Not that he didn't appreciate her probably having saved his life, but it was embarrassing nonetheless.

He glanced around at the unchanging scenery and sighed. It had been exciting at first, finally being able to see the world outside the manor. Sadly, the novelty quickly wore off. He got the point; there were trees, and mountains, and grass, and flowers, and there was water, and there were monsters, so many freaking monsters, and of course, people trying to kill them. He was done, he just wanted to be back home.

Luke was so busy feeling sorry for himself that he did not even notice his companions had stopped until he almost ran straight into Jade. He came to an abrupt halt within an inch of the man's bright blue uniform, and found himself irritated at the rude interruption of his thoughts.

"Hey, what's going on-" As he spoke Luke stepped to the side to get a view of what was in front of them, and stopped himself when he saw what everyone else was looking at.

It was a group of monsters, two giant bees and a rhinossus, and they looked ready to charge. Luke could feel the adrenaline pumping through him as he drew his sword and stepped out in front, knowing it was his job, as well as Guy's, to keep the monsters distracted while Tear and Jade casted their artes.

Most of the battle was relatively uneventful; they were monsters that the group had already encountered many times, and they did not pose any real challenge. Somehow Luke ended up alone against one of the giant bees, but he was not worried. He knew from experience that he was much more powerful than the overgrown insect.

Unfortunately, it was this overconfidence that undid him. He executed a perfectly timed Fang Blade, knocking the creature down. So excited was he about his own achievement that he was not prepared when the monster recovered more quickly than expected, and went in for the attack.

"Look out!"

Guy's warning came too late. Luke had no time to defend as the monster raised a claw-like stinger and slashed, catching him in the right shoulder and leaving a bloody trail diagonally down toward his left side. He cried out in pain, so stunned by the blow that he let the sword slip from his hand, leaving him completely defenseless. Luckily for him the creature barely had time to finish its attack before Guy and Tear set upon it, reducing it to pieces in mere seconds.

Luke sank to his knees, staring in horrified fascination at the gash across his chest. He lifted a quivering hand and held it against the wound, disturbed by the sensation of thick liquid dripping over it.

"Move your hand so I can see."

He did not even realize Tear had knelt beside him until she spoke. He was still too stunned to comply, so she grabbed his wrist and moved his hand aside herself. She carefully inspected the injury, and he had to wonder at her ability to stare at the gaping wound without looking the least bit fazed.

As the shock wore off and the situation caught up with him, panic coursed through him. His chest began to burn with a pain like nothing he had even felt before. He had been hurt before but not like this, never like this. His breathing became heavy, further instigating his fear. What if the blow had damaged a lung? There was nothing but trees and fields in sight; they would never make it to a town in time. He would suffocate out there in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by trees and monsters and people who were mean to him.

An overwhelming fear of death temporarily overrode his insufferable pride. "It's bad, isn't it?" he whimpered. "Am I gonna die? I don't wanna die."

"No, you're not going to die," Tear said, somewhat harshly. "The wound is long, but not very deep. You should be fine."

"Are you sure?" The statement had not made him feel much better. The word "should," in particular, made him uneasy. "I can... I can hardly breath. That's bad, isn't it? Oh man, oh jeez..."

Up until then Jade had been watching silently, but now he felt the need to add something. "Oh dear, he's right, that is bad. It's not going to be pleasant explaining to Duke Fabre that his son died as the result of an injury caused by an exceptionally weak monster."

Luke could hear the scathing sarcasm in Jade's voice as well as the rest of them, but he was not in the mood for jokes. He looked over at Tear pleadingly, willing her to magically make everything better. She was the healer, after all.

Tear turned to glare at Jade, who was watching the two of them with an amused half-smile planted on his face. "With all due respect Colonel, you're making this worse."

"My sincerest apologies," Jade said in the least sincere voice Luke had ever heard, "I was merely trying to share my intellectual opinion with you youngsters."

Evidently deciding it was not worth arguing with the Necromancer, Tear turned her attention back to Luke, who was whimpering quietly.

"Calm down." Her voice was still firm, but the tone was far gentler than it had been a minute ago. "I promised I'd get you home, didn't I?"

"Yes, but you never said you'd get me there alive."

He could swear that he saw the flash of a smile play across her face, but if he really had she suppressed it quickly. "Alright, I promise to get you home alive. Feel any better?"

"A little," Luke said, though his voice was still strained.

"Just relax. You can't breath because you're panicking. You're going to be fine." As she spoke she concentrated her energy on calling forth the seventh fonon, focusing it into a small ball of light that slowly began closing the wound.

Luke watched in silence, enjoying the pleasant sensation of the seventh fonon drifting through him, taking the edge off the pain and carefully healing the injury. He had never experienced a healing arte until he met Tear, and he had immediately decided he liked them much better than apple gels and modern medicine. The artes felt nice. He found it somewhat ironic that someone so cold had introduced him to something so warm and comforting.

After a minute or so the glow suddenly subsided and the sensation left. The injury was not completely gone but it had been mostly healed, and what had been unbearable pain had been reduced to a mildly uncomfortable stinging sensation. Now that he had calmed down Luke found that his breathing really had returned to normal; his earlier fears had been completely groundless. As his thoughts drifted back to what he had said and done several minutes ago, a sense of humiliation crept through him. He found himself unwilling to meet Tear's gaze as she spoke.

"I was able to heal the injury most of the way, but not completely. We'll have to stay here tonight, and you should stay out of battles for the next few days."

Luke nodded, still not looking up at her. So much for proving himself. She inspected her handiwork one more time, making sure the wound was no longer bleeding. Finally satisfied, she stood and turned to where the others were setting up camp.

"Tear." He said her name without thinking. She turned back to face him again, looking at him expectantly.

This time he found the courage to meet her eyes. He felt like he should say something, like he should thank her for taking the time to heal him. But the words did not come. Thanking people was not something he was accustomed to; it was awkward and foreign to him. He simply could not find it within him to express that he was grateful to her.

When he did nothing but stare at her in silence, she looked at him oddly before going to help the others. Luke was left alone, a gap of emptiness separating him from where the rest of the group was setting up to stay the night. He watched Tear as she assisted Jade in starting a small fire.

"Thanks," Luke whispered into the empty air.