Disclaimer: I do not own Tales of Symphonia or its characters.



Kratos extended a red, dripping hand toward the cowering child, kneeling down onto the soaked forest floor. The toddler whimpered and curled further into himself, refusing to look at the pained and ancient face staring carefully down at him.

The sky was a dull grey overhead, bruised clouds high above the treetop effectively blocking out any of the sun's light and warmth, and supplying the green and muddy earth with a steady drizzle that speckled the soiled clothing of the two males. Water, however, was not the only thing that stained the purple shirt of the crouching father. Maroon speckled his torso and forearms, soaked his bare hands, and reflected the fiery glow of the fallen-angel's crimson eyes. Sparkling drops from the steadily darkening sky rolled down the man's sharp features, giving the impression of tears. But Kratos was not crying. Not in front of his child. Not now.

Four-thousand years… and it had all culminated to this.

Kratos tried again, voice strained and painful from his tightening throat.

"Lloyd, it's time to go back."

Lloyd choked back a sob and buried his tear stained face further into his arms.

"But… but Mommy–"

Lloyd wasn't able to finish the sentence and chose instead to lapse into despaired silence, wishing for it to all turn back. Back to earlier today, when they had all been happy and together and unconcerned with what the future would bring. Lloyd wanted his daddy to make it all better like the hero Lloyd always thought him to be. In the eyes of a toddler, this strong, tall, and calm man was a God. Lloyd's daddy could do anything- and now, he had done the unthinkable.

Lloyd didn't want to believe what was happening. Couldn't. Lloyd, young and innocent child as he was, was not capable of such potent emotions as hate, but his tiny mind was progressively approaching something akin to such loathing. Loathing for what he knew was waiting for him if he submitted to the warm and solid hold of his father. Loathing for what covered the hovering hand inches away from his curved and shivering back.

"Lloyd… I'm so sorry."

The voice was barely a murmur as the hand dropped dejectedly to the wet dirt, abandoning its attempt to comfort the distraught three-year old. The two lapsed into a long silence- perfect and sharp, only softened by the consistent pattering of millions of droplets of water striking the soggy ground.

They sat there for what could have been hours, both unwilling to face the future ahead of them, both experiencing the stabbing grief that always accompanies the knowledge of what you had to do next was inescapable. To think that such a loving and caring wife and mother could be the source of such misery and fear- not even Kratos could wrap his experienced mind around it.

The silence was suddenly shattered.

"What are you two still doing out there?"

Father and son visibly shuddered, and both turned wide and apprehensive eyes toward the woman standing in the small and quaint cottage's doorway. After an inane look directed towards her husband and runaway child, Anna let out an exasperated sigh and turned back to the warm glow spilling out from the entrance, wiping some of the watery red liquid from her face as she did so.

"We still have a lot of tomatoes to pound, and if you two don't get with it I'll make you eat seconds when the spaghetti's finally done."

The door creaked and then clicked shut, leaving the two back to their frozen silence. Kratos, being the mature adult, was the one to finally act.

"I'm sorry Lloyd, but we have to do this."

"B-but… I'm scared daddy!"

Kratos wrapped an arm around the child's waist and lifted him up into a tight hold against his side, starting towards the door with decisive steps.

"I am too, son. I am too."

Uhm... Surprise? Heh-heh, I love messing with those two. Hopefully you enjoyed it too.