Title: Seeking Truth

Author: Zalia Chimera

Fandom: Tales of the Abyss

Rating: PG (for this chapter at least)

Pairings: God knows. I haven't decided yet if it's even going to have pairings ; Although I do have a very amusing image of Jade frustrating Guy by talking strategy in the middle of sex...

Warnings: Spoilers up to, well, Belkend with Van for now, not to mention Guy's past.

Summary: The apparent betrayal of one of their own, forces Luke and his party to reevaluate what they thought they knew about each other. But is there more going on than they believed?


"I accept."

"What? No!" Luke was there suddenly, tugging on Guy's sleeve, his eyes wide and horrified. "Guy?"

Guy gave him a cool look and shrugged off his hand. "You heard me, Luke," he said. "I'm accepting Van's offer."

Luke's face crumpled at the words and for a moment, Guy thought that he might actually start to cry. But he regained control, his expression turning pleading, and he grabbed Guy's arm again, his fingers twisting into the older man's shirt. "But Guy... you can't!" he said, his voice raw with hurt. "You said we were friends! You came back for me!"

The look Guy gave him was disinterested, almost bored: the look of a noble dealing with someone out of a sense of obligation rather than desire. Luke had to wonder how many times Guy had seen that look on his face while Luke had been growing up. It made him feel kind of sick to see it turned on him now by his friend.

Guy smirked and grasped Luke's shoulders firmly. "Be reasonable Luke," he said, his voice a lazy drawl. "I know that thinking isn't your strong point, but even you have to realise that there's nothing that you can offer me."

"Guy! But we're..."

"Friends?" Guy interrupted quickly, his lips twisting into a sneer. "Grow up Luke. I'll never be anything more than a servant to you. I've known Van since I was a child. He was my friend through all the time that I had to deal with your tantrums and childishness." He pulled away from Luke, and glanced towards Van when he felt the older man's hand on his shoulder. "Van's always been on my side besides..." At this, he leaned forward so that his lips were next to Luke's ear. "If you were really my friend, then you'd let me go."

Luke went deathly pale. He just stared at Guy for a few terrible moments, not saying anything, before he turned and fled, the door slamming behind him. The silence was only broken by Asch's snort of derision.

Van's hand tightened on Guy's shoulder and Guy turned to him, inclining his head in silent greeting. The older man grinned, squeezing Guy's shoulder in welcome.

"Guy! How could you?"

The servant sighed and turned to face an irate not-really princess, his expression hardening. "How could I...?" he asked in a bored tone.

Natalia's eyes were bright with anger as she stepped towards him, hands on her slim hips, and Guy took a hasty step backwards. "You're Luke's friend! How could you do that to him?! Before we came here, you were as determined as the rest of us to put a stop to this! I demand an answer!"

Well, seemed like her depression hadn't lasted long. He could see similar expressions of shock and outrage on Tear and Anise's expressions. Jade was as inscruitable as ever.

Guy gave a dismissive shrug. "I told you. I didn't have all of the information before now. Now that I know, I'm sure of where my loyalties lie."

"What about all those people? He's going to kill thousands!"

"They're going to be replicated anyway. They should be grateful that they're being liberated from the score."

There was a stunned silence for a moment before Natalia gave an outraged hiss. "You disgust me!" before she turned and followed Luke in leaving.

Jade pushed his glasses back up his nose and shook his head, his amused smirk never leaving his face, as though he thought this was all some minor prank. "Well, I think we're about done here. If you'll excuse us."

"Commandant..." Legratta said sharply, glancing towards her commander.

Van shook his head and glanced over at Guy, a faint smile appearing on his lips. "I don't believe there's any need to deal with an enemy like this just yet, Legretta." The woman nodded sharply and stood back, giving Tear in particular a stern look.

"Well then. We should really be going," Jade said. He nodded at Guy, his expression the same blank politeness, barely seeming to care about the betrayal, and headed to the door, followed by the others.

Guy watched them as they left, meeting their glares with a cool, bored expression. When the door closed, he felt Van's hand on his shoulder again, squeezing it lightly, and he turned to face his old friend.

Van smiled. "You made the right choice, Gailardia."

----------

Luke had been pacing around the common room of the inn practically since they'd arrived, his face drawn into a pained expression. No-one had the heart to disturb him, although Asch had left in disgust a while back and Jade was engrossed in his reading, seemingly oblivious to all around him.

Tear watched Luke sadly, while Natalia seemed even more subdued than she had been since they'd left Baticul. Even Anise appaeared hurt by Guy's betrayal, despite claiming not to be surprised by it.

Natalia came and sat next to Tear on the couch, her hands folded demurely in her lap, and Tear finally pulled her gaze away from Luke to acknowledge the ex-princess. Before she could speak though, Like rounded on them, his eyes blazing with a mad kind of determination. "They must have done something to him!"

Even Jade looked up at this outburst, his expression utterly bland.

"Luke..." Tear began, but Luke shook his head.

"He wouldn't do this willingly!" Luke continued, a note of desperation in his voice. "Van must have forced him somehow."

Jade gave a long-suffering sigh and set the book aside, carefully marking his page before speaking. "And how exactly do you propose that Van managed that?"

Luke bit his lips for a moment before replying. "Blackmail?" he offered weakly. "Maybe... maybe they threatened him with something if he didn't join them!"

"If it was a threat, then it would have been made when we last saw Van, and Guy has had plenty of opportunities to give us some warning since then, not to mention chances to leave because of the threat. And I doubt that Van would have allowed Guy to rejoin us, if that was the case."

"He wouldn't betray us... wouldn't betray me..." Luke finished in a whisper, lowering his eyes.

Jade shrugged, his expression hardening. "We cannot accomplish anything if you're unwilling to accept the truth, or would you prefer to bury your head in the sand as you have been doing for seven years?"

"I..." Luke made a frustrated sound and his shoulders slumped in defeat. "I can't deal with this now. I'm going to bed." He gave Natalia and Tear a weak smile as he passed them on his way to their rooms.

"That was cruel, Colonel," Natalia said, once the sound of Luke's footsteps had faded, giving him a cold look.

Jade seemed utterly unconcerned. "Guy made his choice. There's no point in getting worked up about it now."

"Guy was Luke's best friend! Luke can't be expected to give up and forget about him so quickly."

"On the contrary, Guy seemed quite content to give up Luke so quickly. Luke will only wallow in it if no-one forces him to confront the truth." He picked up his book and gave a dismissive wave to the two women as he stood. "I think I shall turn in myself. I have to finish reading this after all."

"Honestly, that man!" Natalia huffed once Jade was out of earshot.

"He's a soldier," Tear replied quietly. "Soldiers have to put practicalities above personal sentiment." She could understand that, at least a little.

"But Luke isn't a soldier," Natalia said sharply. "I'm concerned about him, Tear. Guy is the person that he's been closest to for his entire life. To lose him like this after everything else that has happened... Especially to lose him to the man who manipulated Luke into destroying Akzeriuth."

Tear stifled a wince at the mention of Van. It was still difficult to balieve that her brother was implementing such an insane plan. "Luke shouldn't hold himself responsible for this. None of us expected this from Guy." He'd seemed so dedicated to Luke.

"None of us were expecting Guy to reveal that he's a Malkuth nobleman either, but Luke still blames himself for Guy's anger. I fear that he won't be able to accept this and if we have to face Guy as an enemy now..." She bit her lip, expression uncertain. She'd known Guy for much of her own life. He was always around Luke and she'd just assumed that he would always be around, even after he'd revealed who he was. Perhaps that had been naive of her, but she at least hadn't expected him to betray them all in such a way.

"What do you suggest we do?" Tear asked softly, her eyes downcast.

"I... just watch him. I worry that he might do something foolish. He's so reckless."

Tear nodded. "We'll all keep watch over him."

Natalia sighed softly, glancing at the stairs which led up to their rooms. "What if we have to fight him?" she asked softly, sounding as if it was directed more at herself than at Tear.

"Then we fight him," tear replied flatly. It wasn't really evena question for her. She was already fighting her brother and Major Legretta, did one more person really make such a difference? Except... except they, at least, hadn't helped them and worked with them only to turn on them for a better offer.

"I suppose that we must," Natalia said quietly. "I just don't know if Luke will be able to." It sounded to Tear, that Natalia wasn't sure that she could either, and as if in response to her thoughts, the princess spoke again. "I've known him since I was young, Guy, I mean. He was always with Luke whenever I visited and he was kind to me, even though I didn't deserve it sometimes, always making fun of his phobia and talking about how he'd be my servant too someday." A wry smile twisted her lips and she turned to face Tear again. "Funny, isn't it. The servant turns out to be a true nobleman and the princess is revealed to be no more than the child of a maid. Fate must enjoy laughing us."

Tear sat uncomfortably, awkwardly listening to Natalia, not entirely sure what she was meant to be contributing to this conversation. There was just an uncomfortable silence until Natalia rose, forcing a smile. "I'm going to bed. Maybe things will be clearer in the morning." She turned and headed up the stairs, leaving Tear alone in the common room.

It was a long time before Tear managed to sleep.