Disclaimer: I own neither Ar Tonelico nor Good Omens, from which I steal the beginning of this.
I basically knew I had to write this while playing Ar Tonelico 2, but my overall condition and such… I wasn't up to it, but it had to be done, and eventually I decided it was better to write an attempt that might give people bunnies (see The Evil Plot To Get People To Write Me More Mana Khemia Fic) than nothing. I fear I've gotten rusty on the characters in the intervening time.
Specifically, I just can't recapture the feeling of Croix's speech patterns. His personality, fine, speech patterns no. I apologize and concrit would be accepted. Rewatching cutscenes on youtube isn't helping and my only late-game save file is just pre the boss battle, so I can't replay her Cosmospheres without investing hours redoing dungeons and catching IPDs. It should theretically be possible to complete her without catching all those, but I found when I tried to do it that the item conversations and so on that would have allowed me to just would not trigger until after I'd done that conversation, at which point they became immediately available.
Every character has certain phrases they tend to use, whether or not contractions are written out can give a good sense of a character in text as opposed to speech, other things like that. It really takes hours of exposure to a show, book or game to get enough of exposure to get a feel for that, and I lost mine for Croix. If anyone has any advice on things I could change to give this more of a Croix feel, it would be greatly appreciated.
All in all, his experiences hadn't given Croix the best impression of the other towers. Ar Tonelico had produced Jacqli. Once she'd assured him that things had improved and he wasn't going to have to go to war against the successors of the bastards who had treated her like that, the reason he was convinced that the people there had to be freaks became Spica, who even Jacqli kind of had to agree was a pretty compelling argument, friend or no.
As for the other tower, Jacqli wasn't telling him as much about it as he would like, which would have to change because this was basically his, well, their adopted daughter she wanted to send there. Not legally, because Cocona didn't want him to fill out the paperwork and he was too young for her to start calling him dad, but she was family in the same way Luca was. Regardless, that tower had produced the creepy old guy who was not to be named by order of the Maidens, he was responsible for far too much of Luca and Cloche's pain, and if they treated humans even worse there, well.
Not his idea of a vacation spot. If he'd thought it would do any good, he'd have put his foot down about Cocona going there, but he knew that would backfire with these women. So he'd stepped up her training and if she wasn't going there without him then she damn well wasn't going there until she'd completed her training and really was the one-reyvateil-army Jacqli had assured him she could be.
And that wasn't happening in a million years, which meant he'd be too dead to care. Or at least it wasn't going to happen in the foreseeable future, which would give her time to recover from all she'd been through so the little girl he'd raised wouldn't get hurt.
Luca might be able to play him like a lute, and Cloche was learning horrible habits from being around her sister, but at least he could still out-plot Cocona.
…That was really kind of sad.
Despite the fact that Croix really could believe all the things Mir-Jacqli, she needed to be called Jacqli all the time here to avoid… confusion – had said about Lyner, he was beginning to think he couldn't out-plot him, either.
He and Jacqli had both wanted to be married with their families in attendance, and Luca and Cloche had needed a vacation from being worshipped, so they'd ended up going to the other tower to perform the ceremony and to set up diplomatic relations and so on.
Shurelia, Aurica, and Misha really weren't very much like the first impression he had gotten of them. Of course, that was a game, and no one else had been that much like themselves either.
Lyner Barsett, however, really had come across as a big, dumb, friendly dog, which was what he'd gotten from Jacqli. A golden retriever or something, all interested to meet his future-father, in law, shaking his hand and so on.
Croix hadn't thought he was a dim bulb. No, the way he'd made everyone instantly feel at ease had impressed both Luca and Cloche, which was hard to do. He was apparently at least the social equal of Prince Targana, since if this tower had a united government, he would be the heir to it. Barring Shurelia, who, like Frelia, didn't hold political power as such, he was the de facto ruler of Ar Tonelico, since he was managing most matters for his aging father.
Although it wasn't until they were relaxing in their common room that evening that Luca and Cloche compared notes on what everyone had said about him and figured that out. The main power blocks were the church, which traditionally took orders from his city, the Tenba company, and a city of non-humans. The leaders of all of them adored him and would obey any order without hesitation, trusting that there would be a good reason.
There would be, too.
At the time, though, Croix had been a bit busy trying not to feel jealous. Lyner, not him, had been the one to make Jacqli realize that there were people with some good in them, and Lyner was practically radiating sheer goodness.
Forget another tower, was he from another planet or something?
Lyner would never have treated Jacqli's cosmosphere as a game the way Croix had, helping Miros just to get information, just to figure out what made Jacqli tick. Lyner actually was the kind of person everyone who'd heard about his 'great deeds' kept expecting Croix to be.
Lyner was smiling at him, all open and friendly and reminding Croix very much of the other thing about big dogs. They were loyal. They didn't let the people they cared about get hurt.
There wasn't anything he could point to in Lyner's bearing or expression. Jacqli didn't seem to pick anything up. No, she was too uncomfortable for that. Croix knew Jacqli well enough to know that a hint of violence in the air would have put her at ease. She was used to savagery from humans, and still didn't quite know how to deal with them being nice.
Lyner's open friendliness wasn't making her blush, but he was coming very close to it, and Croix really wanted to hate him.
Wanted to want to punch that too-pretty face in.
Except that for the fact that somehow in the halo of goodness that surrounded his future son-in-law, buried somewhere in that smile, was the message that if Croix hurt one hair on Jacqli's head, Lyner was going to beat him so hard his grandchildren would feel it.
Not literally, and not stepchildren like Cocona, though, since Lyner would never hurt a child. Bastards who hurt reyvateils, on the other hand, deserved every broken bone they had coming to them. Especially if the one they hurt was Lyner's mother-in-law, who had suffered so much already.
And Ayatane, standing next to him, was non-verbally chiming in with, 'And once dear Lyner's done with you, I'll make sure they never find your body.'
So despite the fact that if Lyner had wanted to he could have stolen Croix's fiancée, Croix just had to like the guy. The world needed more people like this. Despite Lyner's kind of freaky nobody-could-be-that nice,-it-has-to-be-an-act-ness, they had so much in common, like the desire to go back in time and kill the people who had dared lay a finger on the person Croix loved.
Ayatane the character, as opposed to Ayatane the son, was Jacqli's mind guardian, and Croix was about to pledge to love and protect her for the rest of his life in front of two of the three goddesses, but Lyner was another person who understood the importance of protecting Jacqli.
Not that she wasn't perfectly capable of taking care of herself now, that wasn't the point, it was that she was a wonderful person who deserved to have extra redundant amounts of overkill protection to make up for when she hadn't had any.
And so that she'd start to really believe she deserved it, too.
So, he'd allowed himself to just go with that straightforward, 'why can't we be friends when that's the obvious course of action,' flow and like the guy.
The fact he was gay was just a bonus, since it meant even lower odds of Jacqli-stealing and might even get Prince Targana off his back.
Except that Prince Targana seemed to have finally gotten a survival instinct after Croix had saved him, and while no one had noticed Lyner's unspoken threat on behalf of the person who had tried to destroy his world, his husband Ayatane was clearly very practiced at radiating an aura of, 'Yes, I am aware that he is wonderful and I won't blame you for being irresistibly drawn to him, but if you ignore the fact that he is mine I will have to cut you.'
Even with that, Croix was still surprised that they didn't have Dive Therapists here. It was often hard for reyvateils to open up to people and begin to trust them. Experiences with Dive Therapists might have been slandered and referred to as mere prostitution, but they allowed reyvateils to see that yes, it was possible to have someone be that close to them without it being a painful or violating experience. Cosmospheres were an incredibly personal thing, after all, and many humans were never able to allow someone as close as Jacqli had allowed him. It was an incredible honor, and he was glad that Luca and Cloche had also showed him that much of themselves.
So he really couldn't believe that Ar Tonelico didn't have such a vital profession. He openly scoffed when Luca had told him that here, reyvateils who had trust issues did one of two things: sat down and talked with Bishop Radolf, who tried to find them a well-fitting and supportive partner, or asked Lyner Barsett, one of the Apostles of Elemia, an order of knights trained to assist the holy maidens, to walk them through it.
He seriously couldn't believe that anyone had reached level nine on that many cosmospheres.
He just couldn't believe it when Luca revealed that she'd let someone she'd only met last week in further than she'd ever let him. Nor when Cloche went, because she was a bit worried that Luca might have been brainwashed too, and also…
"If I didn't know better, I'd think Shurelia built him like I did my Ayatane," Jacqli confided in him.
"Why? Because it's impossible to control how someone turns out?" Jacqli's son Ayatane wasn't the same as General Ayatane, and the attempts to strip Mir of the ability to feel definitly hadn't worked either.
"No, because she'd have made herself one." Which made Croix worry that maybe Jacqli would do so, given the option. "Are you jealous?"
He raised an eyebrow, telling her not to make him answer that, because she'd asked him not to lie to her.
"Apparently there's an actual club you can join." Jacqli looked like her old self: evil. "No need to worry. You can't duplicate people, and Ayatane's already demonstrated that he'd be willing to kill me for Lyner's sake." She didn't seem to really blame him for this.
At first Croix hadn't known how to act around her. She'd been scared by humans before, and he didn't want to use or scare her. Then he figured out that she didn't actually mind it when he was jealous or angry or violent because of her, because that meant he cared. That meant he'd fight for her. That meant he'd protect her, and part of her was still that hurt, scared little girl.
So he just hugged her. "Maybe you should be trying to copy him. Ayatane would probably thank you." That way he'd have something of Lyner left… afterwards.
Many reyvateils were shorter-lived than humans, but Ayatane was a virus and Jacqli would outlive him if he had anything to say about it, and Croix didn't want her to have to be alone again. "I don't mind if you make one for yourself as long as you make one for Cocona."
She just looked up at him (he didn't like that she was so small, it just scared him for her on a visceral level), wondering once again if he'd lost it.
"Like I said, she's going where I can't help her over my dead body, and the reason I can't go to that tower is that I'm human, right?" So if Jacqli designed her an ideal virus-boyfriend that would solve all sorts of problems, like what would happen when she started dating.
"You're weird," she told him again, as she had before. Although generally in more insulting or almost pleading terms, pleading because if humans were cruel at least the world made sense even though it was horrible sense.
The bunny was basically Croix meeting his new son-in-law and Lyner and Ayatane being 'you hurt her we kill you,' which would have been ironic as normally it's the parents instead of the children being threatening on the bride's behalf. Then I was reminded of Luca's professional envy of Frelia's cosmosphere ability and how that compares to Lyner's…
In the Sector General science fiction series, which I recommend highly, there's a very central message of pacifism, yet the books are anything but preachy. No: the message is shown in action by just having the characters not be jerks to each other.
Lyner's sheer… Lyner turns not being a jerk into a superpower, I swear.