Disclaimer: I don't own any intellectual property referenced here, including Tales of the Abyss and all associated thingies. Namco and other rightful owners do.

How That Battle Should Have Gone

-

"I'm your replica."

"Now do you get it, dreck?"

"I'm your replica. I'm not Luke fon Fabre. I was created to take your place and die at Akzeriuth after spending seven years cooped up in a mansion bored to braindeath while you got to run around the world being a god-general and working for Master Van."

"…Yes?" This was not going as expected.

"I spent seven years trying to measure up to someone a decade older than me. I spent seven years with everyone looking at me and seeing you. Except for Master Van, who only saw 'foolish replica Luke,' while you got to kick ass and make a name for yourself as Asch the Bloody."

"You stole…"

"Shut up. You knew that Natalia loved you and you let her be stuck with someone who didn't remember a single one of all the special moments you two shared. You let Mother cry herself to sleep at night and have nightmares of what happened to her baby that was so horrible that he forgot everything. You let Master Van take me to Akzeriuth and barely made even a token effort to prevent me from being used to destroy a city and die. Sure, Jade did the same thing by not telling me I was a replica, but we're talking about you now, Luke fon Fabre." The replica's sword left his sheath. "You say I stole your life? Like hell I did! I never wanted it! I got the trash you threw away, like our mother and Natalia, and you got to start life as a newborn who could choose who they wanted to be! You're the one that stole my life, damn you! You're the one the Score said would destroy Akzeriuth, not me! And you would have done it as a weapon of Kimlasca, I did it because Master Van lied to me and said that it would save everyone's lives! And he did that, my teacher did that, the man I looked up to did that, for you!" There were tears in the replica's eyes now, but it didn't detract from the snarl of rage. "I'm not the one that stole your life. You're the one that stole my life, you bastard. And I'm taking it back!"

-

"You know," Guy had to admit, "I kind of have to feel sorry for him."

"Well, you're his manservant now. Again. Pass me the sheath." Asch the Bloody's eyes still glimmered with bloodlust. "And then you might want to think about putting his clothes on."

"You know," Guy said thoughtfully, "I think I'll pass."

"You're his manservant. I'm not going to give that bastard any excuse to say I'm taking anything that's rightfully his." The handedness thing would need to be worked out, but otherwise he looked pretty good.

"You know what, I think I'll quit."

"But Guuuy!" Asch whined. "If you quit who's going to haul him back home and kick his ass every time he tries to leave? Please? Just a month? I want him to see what it's like to be stir crazy and trapped with people who think he's someone else!"

Guy looked utterly embarrassed. "Uh, your age is showing."

"Asch the Bloody first appeared seven years ago and his temper tantrums on the battlefield are legendary. Finally! I can be myself! Please, Guy? Make him act his age and stay in the manor until he's twenty because he was an idiot and got himself kidnapped by Van? For me? You know you owe me big."

"What, you want me to stay here while you go to Belkend to check up on those leads you forced out of him?" Seeing his opening, Guy pressed the point. "Besides, he's locked in Tear's house with Natalia and there's no way he can break out. Just let him stay there until we can come back here to pick him up and head to Baticul, okay?"

"Fine." Yeah, on Asch the Bloody the attitude looked natural. You didn't expect noble airs and manners from someone nicknamed 'the Bloody.' You expected someone short-tempered, contemptuous… acting like Asch had acted, huh. "I'll see if Natalia can remind him of his promise so he stops being a traitor and does his duty to his kingdom and family as the firstborn son. Otherwise, he spends that month in his bed, in his home, while they try to find all the shrapnel I'm going to stick in him and find someone to heal over if he keeps trying to take over my goddamn body!" Guy didn't hear a response, not that he expected to. "You can fucking live your own life for once and pay for your own damn mistakes!" Asch fumed. "At least I know now that it's the person who doesn't start taking that gets the damn headaches. If he tries to do that to me again I'm doing it to him for five times as long until he stops being a whiny little bitch."

"Wow."

"Wow what?"

"I knew you weren't happy, but don't you think this is a little extreme?"

"What good would getting angry do? I just got called immature. And guess what, I was four! I had a license to be immature! Anyway, it wasn't anyone's fault that I was going through that. Or so I thought. But now I know whose fault is and there is going to be vengeance, oh yes there will. Vengeance for seven years in limbo and ten thousand people in Akzeriuth."

"Remind me not to get on your bad side."

"Guy, you're… Guy. I only got angry at you because I didn't have any other targets or you disrespected Master Van. You're always on my good side. You're glued to it."

"Thanks."

"But if you betray me like Van did I'm going to slice important bits off and feed them to you. For starters. Just so you know." Asch smiled, and Guy was never more aware than in that instant that the person who stood before him was a seven-year-old with the power to destroy cities by accident, let alone on a whim, with more than a few screws that not only had never been tightened but people had tried to screw them in the wrong way.

"Uh, yeah, I get the picture."

"Great. Now let's go threaten Teodoro. 'Watchers,' yeah right. More like lazy-asses. They know Van's trying to mess with the Score and they don't think that maybe, just maybe, urgent action is what the Score that St. Bynah won't fall requires? Do they even know the meaning of the word hurry?" Asch stalked off, already feeling cooped up by the most fascinating city on Auldrant.

Guy wished his family luck if they tried to recapture him. Really, he did.

Baticul had been dug out of a crater. Unless this identity changing counted as destroying his old self, the Score that said a miners' city and the light of the sacred flame would be destroyed in the same calamity hadn't happened. Yet.

Guy should probably tell Natalia that, just in case she had any ideas about happy family reunions, huh.