- The Verus Chronicles -
Disclaimer: If it's not in my pocket, I don't own it.
AN: Sorry guys, I've been a terrible updater... I think I must have opened and closed this thing about 50 times before I finally decided to crack down and finish writing it. I'm not real proud of it though, it's a product of writers block and forcing my way through it. Blasted writers block/slash/gaming distractions.(grumble Vesperia, grumble FF8, future-grumble Symphonia2)
Chapter Four – Picnic –
The sounds of crashing steel met with howls of agony. Mercenaries and bounty hunters alike teamed up and fought desperately against this seemingly unstoppable duo. While the one was an utter menace with a sword, the other kept a steady barrage of the elements. One moment they were nearly burned to ashes, the next they were threatened by frostbite...
"You know Hun, I realize we made a lot of friends on our journey," Zelos stated as he drew beside the summoner, at the same time fending off an attack. After removing the mercenary's blade from his grasp, Zelos kicked him a good distance to make room for the next guy. "But somehow," he paused shortly to grunt and parry before adding, "I'm getting the idea we made more enemies in comparison."
"H-hey! Less talk, more focus!" Sheena growled and nimbly kicked into a somersault, barely dodging an assault and coming within inches of the enemy's blade. Thereafter thrusting the bounty hunter to the dirt. She shot Zelos a vehement glare but he did little more than whistle in applause, the only reason he refrained from clapping was because he hadn't the time to do so.
Another enemy came on and Zelos raised his weapon defensively, but his response time had been poor and with that realization he knew he would have been applying first aid to himself if Verus hadn't intercepted the enemy's assault in that instant.
The wolf had aimed and connected with the mercenary's sword arm. Of course, with Verus refusing to release his hold, the man was reduced to a screaming panic, and would have began kicking the animal if Zelos hadn't knocked the man out with the hilt of his sword beforehand.
"Thanks Bud." Zelos nodded down to Verus, and the wolf merely regarded the man with a wag of his tail as Sheena felled the last of the enemies.
Finally, the battle was over, with the ground lain by their enemies bodies, the trio could finally relax a bit and take a breather.
Zelos sighed, his manner more of a troublesome kind rather than an exhausted one. "These are getting more frequent." He chuckled lamely. "Someone must really want our hides."
While Verus raided a man's pouch, it's contents most likely jerky, Sheena glanced around the former battlefield and gave a defeated sigh. Most of them were still alive, moaning or crying for help. If there was a town nearby they could have a medical unit come pick them up, but such luxuries were quite rare. The closest town or village was probably a good five miles away, which normally wouldn't have been a problem for them if they hurried, but even then they wouldn't make it there before nightfall, and the medical unit would no doubt refuse to leave in the dark.
"Let's revive their healers," Sheena suggested, which initially came out sounded more like a demand than an option. "We only knocked them out, and they should be able to heal everyone after we leave."
"Sheena," Zelos drawled, shifting his feet slightly in apprehension. "I know how you feel, but if we do that, then they'll just be up and after us all the sooner."
"Not the smart ones."
"Point taken, thus you imply that we'll only have to fight the stupid ones again..."
"Exactly," Sheena agreed as she knelt down to check the pulse of one healer. "Now come over here and work on this one, I'll hand out some gels to the others."
Zelos didn't reply, but breathed a tired sigh and merely nodded his head instead as he moved to obey. He hadn't expected her to acknowledge his silent consent, as she had already turned towards her part of the healing task. He also hadn't expected to be shouted upon by a couple of former comrades a moment later.
"Oi!" Lloyd howled excitedly as he ran towards them, Colette right behind him, but when she tripped, he had to stop and help her up again.
Zelos merely shook his head, hands on hips. Some things never changed. Colette certainly never did. "Hey Hun, we got company," he called with a casual tip of his head in her direction. "And for once, it's not the kind that wants to kill us."
The weather was kindly later that day, a little warmer than one would prefer, but with the light breeze blowing across the plains, it was easily bearable. Under the shade of a large tree the four friends(plus wolf and protozoan) sat together on a picnic blanket, one that Colette carried with her for such occasions.
"What a wonderful coincidence that we ran into you guys!" Colette exclaimed as her blue eyes danced happily, vibrant with emotion. "So where are you headed?"
Sheena thought about the words of Sylvarant's former chosen and likewise worked up a reply as she absently watched Verus and Noishe storm by in a flash of white, green, and blue. "To Meltokio; I received a summons from the king a few days ago," Sheena answered and looked back to Lloyd and Colette after the distraction of the two romping canines. "How about you guys?"
Lloyd and Colette exchanged a glance, the both of them no doubt had to actually think about where it was they were headed presently. "We're going to Luin," Colette supplied finally, her bright smile seemed to mask the delay of the reply.
"We've heard that the people there have adding a lot of stuff," Lloyd added, his relaxed nature magnified as he leaned back, his arms supporting his weight. "More than just rebuilding, we've heard certain statues were built in the past few months."
"Really?" Sheena quizzed skeptically, eyebrow raised in suspicion. "Statues of whom, or what exactly?"
Lloyd made an attempt at some nervous laughter, but after failing miserably, he could only sweat drop and look to Colette for guidance. She merely smiled, eyes closed innocently. "We've heard there might be one of you Sheena! Isn't that great? You should be really excited!"
Sheena promptly smacked her forehead, a groan following, along with an automatic halting gesture to her husband. "You. Not... A... Word."
Zelos complied, and wisely held his tongue on the matter, though not without a smirk and a bit of inward laughter. Instead he decided to show the ninja some mercy and change the subject. "Well who's hungry, let's eat already!"
"Yeah!" Lloyd whooped and blankly looked to Colette when he realized the food had yet to be brandished. "Say, Colette, what is for lunch anyway?"
"I made sandwiches this morning," the blond answered cheerfully as Lloyd had already begun rummaging through one of their few travel packs. "They should be in the side pocket."
Soon the food was distributed and almost immediately, the two animals previously off playing, were now sitting nearby, patiently waiting for handouts.
Verus and Noishe had become fast friends at Zelos and Sheena's wedding reception, and ever since, whenever they seen each other, it was a constant contest of speed. Noishe was one of the few creatures Verus had come across that he was unable to outrun, and it was likely the same for Noishe, thus the two had a mutual agreement in racing.
Now it was a mutual agreement in food.
"No Verus, no begging," Zelos grumbled at the wolf and made an annoyed shooing motion. "Go on, beat it."
Verus tipped his head, ears switched back, eyes watery. His tactics were well practiced, self taught even. But they did little to sway the red-head's mood on the matter. "Stingy, always stingy," the wolf grumbled to himself. "Rest assured, you won't have any socks on in the morning if I have anything to say about it."
When Verus finally gave up and went to lay his head in Sheena's lap, hoping to catch a few crumbs if he was lucky, a memory sparked in Zelos' mind with the sight. He tipped his head and beamed a good natured, though partly mischievous grin. "Hey Sheena, doesn't this remind you of that picnic we had a long time ago?"
"What picnic? I don't know what you're talking about."
"Sure you do, it was that time you helped me do my shopping."
"I wasn't helping you. You were dragging me along."
"Ah, so you remember now?" Zelos eyed her slyly, knowing he had her pinned.
A growl of annoyance coupled with narrowed eyes was the only answer he received; she obviously wasn't interested in sharing this particular memory with the younger pair. But her near-silent threat went unnoticed and her glare promptly ignored as Zelos laughed victoriously before relating the story to their friends, Sheena adding needed corrections begrudgingly as he went along.
"I don't even know why I let you talk me into this."
"It's because you got me out of that jam before, remember? This is just my way of thanking you."
Hybrid colored leaves dropped from a tree above and rolled from one blade of grass to next with the autumn breeze. Sheena wasn't sure how far they walked from the confines of the city, or even the significance of the trek for that matter. In fact, about the only thing she was sure of, was that her companion had the most unreadable and sporadic agenda. One moment they were shopping in Meltokio's marketplace, the next, they were sitting on a white picnic blanket, under a tree only half full of leaves, in the middle of nowhere.
The details of the entire transition from point A to point B had no doubt been too lengthy to recount in her mind, and Sheena found herself shaking her head, hoping to rid herself of the mild frustration. "Jam?" the young ninja queried, quirking an odd look. "That was no 'jam'. I was just walking by, minding my own business. And you used me as an excuse to get out of your 'Chosen' duties."
"Well, you had perfect timing, because those people were planning on sending me to Sybak for another grueling month." He offered an innocent, closed eyed grin. "Thanks to you, I got out of it."
More like the wrong place at the wrong time, Sheena thought to herself, though at the same time was bemused by the fact that she was actually starting to enjoy herself. Corrine was making sure of that, for awhile now the fox spirit had been determined to get at the treats in Zelos' pocket, which of course the young Chosen had stuffed full of in preparation of the little creature.
"Anyway," Sheena said, waving her hand dismissively, along with the conversation. "What's this?" From the spread of food laid out in front of them, she held up an odd looking sandwich. Well, it didn't really look like a sandwich, but that was the closest thing she could think of to describe it. "Some new fancy, Meltokio dish?"
"Oh, that's a new recipe Sebastian decided to try, I think it's called a wrap or something. Oh but it's-" Zelos cringed when she suddenly bit into it without hearing the rest of his explanation.
"Hot," she wheezed and thumped her chest in an attempt to swallow it faster.
"Sebastian did mention something about the peppers..."
After choking it down with great effort, Sheena could only manage a pained, almost panicked face. Corrine was at her side in an instant, concerned and eager, he could do little to assist her. "Sheena, what's wrong? Talk to Corrine."
More of that man's laughter could be heard as soon as the story had finished, he could be seen doubled over, his arms clutching his stomach to further his nigh hysterical state. "I still remember your face!" More laughter ensued as he wiped strained tears from his eyes. "You- you looked like you were ready to explode!"
Lloyd was chuckling to himself, unable to resist imagining Sheena's face, while Colette simply smiled, elated to be around their antics again.
Sheena's urge to strangle her husband grew with each breath he took. She was reaching her limit with the teasing, so much so that she was beginning to wonder if he was even aware of the anger gauge hovering ominously above her head.
As his laughter died, Zelos sat upright again. He knew. In fact, he already had a plan to channel her mood. "You know," he said, his face straightened somewhat, though a smirk remained with a coy edge. "I think that was our first date."
Sheena didn't really understand why her cheeks tinted a darker shade or why she stuttered in her response. By all rights, it really shouldn't have bothered her, she married the man for heaven's sake. But regardless, she was unable to control the reaction that followed. "It-it wasn't a date!"
"Sure it was," Zelos said through his arrogant grin. "We even had a chaperon."
"No it wasn't," Sheena insisted. "And we didn't have a chaperon!"
"So you're admitting we didn't have a chaperon on our first date?"
"It wasn't a date!"
"Sure it was, and the chaperon was Corri-" Zelos had realized his mistake in the very instant the words had left his mouth, and even though he had caught himself partway, he still winced at the sting of it. He nearly scowled, mentally kicking himself for neglecting to think this far ahead.
When there was nothing but silence towards his reply, and Sheena's unnatural lack of a retort, he made an attempt to patch the wound inflicted, but she cut him off. "Sheena, I didn't-"
"It's fine, really, it's ok," Sheena replied softly. "Corrine, he would want to be remembered." She smiled, but after seeing her companion's empathetic faces, she realized her expression must have been a sad one. "I know he would," she repeated, as though to reinforce the fact in her own mind. Almost in tandem with her words, Verus nudged her hand, and that was the only reassurance she needed.
With a determined nod she flashed a mischievous grin of her own and shoved her unsuspecting husband, rightly tipping him over on his side. Afterwards the ninja took to her feet and scrambled for a head start, shouting over her shoulder to Lloyd and Colette and therefore officially instituting a chaotic game of tag. "Run guys, he's 'chosen'!"
Lloyd and Colette both shared a blank stare before realizing what it was exactly that had just transpired.(and the fact that they were supposed to be using this time to get away.) Luckily for them, Zelos was just as stunned, but soon enough all three of them had caught on, and before long the field they occupied was filled with their shouting, laughter, and barking, as even Verus and Noishe were getting in on the action.
Sheena even thought she glimpsed her beloved tri tailed fox once, but after a second look, she knew it was only her imagination.
That, or once again, the spirit of heart had granted her wish.
AN: Well, I honestly think the main delay to this chapter was that blasted pre-game scene, because, well, I was just so darn scared that I'd screw it up. And I'm not saying I did a very good job with it in the end. It was vague, and just...blech.-_- But I still wanna hear what you thought, so drop me a review if you like.