by: Mylinda Antoinette

Summary: At a very important event in Lloyd's life, the only person missing is someone who simply can't be there...

Author's Note: I really wanted to write a paternal bonding story with Lloyd and Kratos, as paternal bonding stories are my absolute favorites. So I thought it over and came up with this. It's very brief, but I hope you enjoy it just the same!

Twenty-one year old Lloyd paced back and forth in his living room. Another cry from the room upstairs caused his eyebrows to furrow and a worried gaze to cross his face.

"How come this is taking so long?!" he mumbled under his breath.

"Just a minute there, son," Dirk said from the chair where he sat, waiting with Lloyd. "These things will take their time, ya know. Just be patient. Everything'll be all right."

"That's easy for you to say," he shot back quietly, wincing as he heard Colette cry out again.

"Lloyd, don't worry!" Genis said. "Colette'll be fine, and before you know it that baby will be here to meet its dad."

"I know, I know! She'll be fine, I know she will. I just can't help wishing there was something more I could do for her!"

Raine stood and walked in front of Lloyd, forcing him to stop and look up at her. She placed her hands gently on Lloyd's shoulders. "Calm down, Lloyd. That's the best thing you can do for her right now - just stay calm. Wearing a hole in the floor won't help her at all," she admonished calmly.

"I... I know, Professor, it's just... I just can't help it..." he sighed, staring at his feet and wringing his hands tightly.

"I know you can't. But you have to try."

"A... all right, I'll try," he agreed reluctantly, moving to sit in a chair. "I really wish he could be here, though... He's gonna miss the birth of his own grandchild!" Lloyd remarked sadly.

A few quiet moments passed, since neither Dirk nor Raine nor Genis knew what to say. Finally, Lloyd stood up, feeling frustrated. "I gotta go get some fresh air," he murmured before darting out of the house.

Lloyd ran for a while, letting the feeling of the wind on his face calm him. He finally stopped when he felt he had gone far enough away from the house and looked back. He could still see the house, and with the wind blowing the way it was, he could still hear Colette's cries of pain. He turned and sat on the ground, all of his emotions suddenly catching up to him as tears began to spill from his eyes, tears of worry for Colette, tears of sadness because Kratos couldn't be there, tears of helplessness over his situation.

After a while, Lloyd reached up and wiped the tears from his face. Crying would do no good, and he wanted to be strong. After all, that was a goal he'd been striving toward for most of his life. He sat there, fingering a few long blades of grass, thinking about the baby that was on its way.

"Lloyd? Is that you?" a familiar voice said from behind, and Lloyd froze in shock. He could swear that voice belonged to...

He whirled around from his seat, only to see a face he had thought he might never see again.

It was his dad.

"Kratos?" Lloyd asked incredulously, daring to hope that his father might actually be standing right in front of him.

"Lloyd... what are you doing out here?"

"I should be asking you that question. Aren't you supposed to be on Derris-Kharlan?"

"I finished what I went there to do," Kratos replied vaguely. Truthfully, he had planned to stay on Derris-Kharlan, though after a while, he felt that he just couldn't stay away from his son that long. He reminded him too much of Anna. "But you didn't answer my question."

Lloyd opened his mouth to speak, but winced instead as another of Colette's cries came floating toward them, borne by the wind. Kratos listened intently. "Is that not the Chosen?" he asked observantly.

"Her name is Colette!" Lloyd exploded angrily. "She's not the Chosen anymore!"

Kratos appeared taken aback for a moment, but he recovered quickly and nodded. "I'm sorry. That was a careless remark. But it sounded as though she is in pain." He looked pointedly at Lloyd, as though expecting him to answer. Lloyd sighed.

"Colette... she's having a baby," he explained, looking back toward the house worriedly.

"I see... and are you the father?" Kratos asked.

"Well, I should hope so... we were married a year ago, so I certainly hope the baby is mine..." Lloyd replied, glancing back at his father.

"Well then, it would seem congratulations are in order," Kratos responded calmly.

"Thanks, Dad." Lloyd looked back at the house. "Dad... would you mind if I asked you a question?"

"I'm listening."

"What was it like for you when I was born?"

Kratos looked thoughtful for a moment. "Well, I suppose I was a little nervous, but... it was just the two of us when you were born. Your mother and I didn't have anyone else there. So when you were born, I suppose I could have been called your mother's midwife."

"Really?" Lloyd asked, surprised. "That's pretty amazing."

"Indeed. I had to keep my calm and believe that everything would be all right. And I did believe that... but it didn't stop me from being nervous deep down."

"I know the feeling..." Lloyd muttered under his breath.

"But after you were born... when I got to hold you for the first time... it was truly the most amazing thing I've ever felt in my life. An overwhelming sensation came over me, and I didn't want to ever let you go," Kratos admitted, looking at his son. "When I had to kill your mother... when I thought you had died, it was as if my whole reason for living, a whole piece of who I was got ripped away from me. I lost the will to fight Mithos anymore, and the only thing I had left was my devotion to him and to his plans." He looked away, his composure slipping for just a moment. "If I hadn't found Anna's grave at your house, the cycle would have never been broken, and the two worlds would still be forced to sacrifice each other to survive."

At that moment, an especially loud cry came from Colette, and Lloyd looked toward the house. "I have to go back!" he shouted, running toward the door, followed a few moments later by Kratos. He flung the door to his house open just in time to hear the sound of a baby crying for the very first time. He froze, an overwhelming feeling sweeping over him. Was this what Kratos had felt when he was born?

A moment later, he heard a door open, and the doctor's voice called down for him. From that day on, Lloyd would never remember just how he made it up to the bedroom he shared with Colette, only that he did. As he entered the room, he caught sight of a very tired, but very happy Colette sitting up a bit in the bed, her sweat-drenched hair loose behind her and a small pink bundle in her arms.

"Lloyd," she called out in a gentle, happy voice, "come and meet your new daughter!" Lloyd walked slowly to the bed, sitting beside Colette and leaning over to peer into the baby girl's sweet features. She didn't look a bit like her mother, but Lloyd thought her features looked vaguely familiar. At any rate, he felt that she was the most beautiful baby in the whole world.

"C... can I hold her?" he asked softly, and Colette laughed.

"Of course, silly," she replied, shifting the bundle and placing it into Lloyd's arms. Lloyd never took his eyes off of his daughter's face for a second, suddenly feeling an overpowering love for this child who was only a few minutes old. The baby stared innocently up at the face of the man holding her, somehow sensing that this person was her father, and her tiny eyes searched his face as though committing it to memory.

"Oh, Colette... she's so beautiful," Lloyd whispered, gently rocking the tiny baby. "Can I call everyone up so they can meet her?"

"Yes, Lloyd," she agreed, smiling at her husband and daughter. She had never seen Lloyd the way he was now, staring at his little girl, and she thought it was completely precious, burning it into her memory as something she would cherish forever.

Lloyd stood from his perch on the bed and, carefully cradling his new daughter, walked to the stairs and called down that it was all right to come up. A few moments later, Raine, Genis, Dirk, and Kratos appeared in the room, ready to greet the newest Irving.

Each person in the room took turns staring at the tiny baby girl, commenting on how beautiful she was, until it came to be Kratos's turn. He stared wordlessly at the baby until Lloyd asked if he wanted to hold his granddaughter.

"Could I?" he asked, and Lloyd nodded, holding out the baby carefully as Kratos positioned his arms and accepted the little girl. He couldn't take his eyes off this little one. "She reminds me of Anna," he said softly, his composure completely melting away at the sight of the little girl whose every feature reminded him painfully of his late wife. He looked up at the proud parents, who were both watching him with smiles on their faces. "Have you chosen a name yet?" he asked in his usual calm voice. The two looked at each other.

"Lloyd, why don't you pick a name for her?" Colette suggested, smiling more brightly than anyone had ever seen her - which said a lot.

Lloyd rose and moved to stand next to his father and his precious baby girl and studied her, trying to pick a name he thought would fit. In an instant, the perfect name arose. "Anna," he said without hesitation. "Anna Elizabeth Irving." Kratos looked up from his new granddaughter and stared at Lloyd. He had not expected Lloyd to pick that name.

"That's perfect," Colette agreed, and so it was settled.

With that, Lloyd took little Anna back to her mother, and the four visitors departed, leaving the little family alone for a while. In a few days there would be a big celebration over the birth of the new baby, which would hopefully even include their friends from Tethe'alla. For now, though, as Lloyd stared at his little girl and remembered the way Kratos had held her, he felt truly complete for the first time in ages.

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