The Sage of Spirits: Hah! I lose one only to gain one. And before anyone goes off on me, yes, I have permission for something like this by Freaky herself, and yes, it was inspired by Growth Spurt, but it will be different from it. You'll see. I haven't lied yet, have I?
Genis: Huh?
Me: It's a FE fic I was doing, so you'd have no idea. Just say the disclaimer.
Genis: Sage owns nothing.

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Prologue: Change of Age

It was eerily silent in the halls of Welgaia's library, he thought. The noiseless room sounded deafening in his mighty ears, as if his breath would give away his secret location.

As he floated silently and swiftly to the bookshelf and back, he slowly grabbed books to read for useful knowledge. After all, all of his books back at the base did come from Welgaia. Anything that he thought held an advantage for him (especially if it gave someone else the disadvantage of losing it) he took, placing it on his personal shelf.

The book he now had tucked underneath his arm was one of those books. With a satisfied smirk, he warped off, making sure that he left nary a trace that he had even been there.

Yuan arrived in front of his Triet Base, hoping that no one followed him. He waltzed in with utmost care, just in case. When he felt that he was in the clear, he slowed his pace, his tense muscles slowly relaxing. He reached his office and took a seat, placing the book onto his desk. "This book will be a key measure in my plans, but at the price of…" he said, placing his hand onto his forehead. "It will only cause pain, but it's for the good of the world." The man tried to assure himself; he opened the book, looking for the ingredients needed to create a forbidden substance…

(--The Chosen's Group…--)

Lloyd sat on a log near the camp, a forlorn expression evident on his face. They were in front of the Garracchia Forest, resting before attempting to cross its dark chambers. That forest gave off an eeriness that he could not describe, and the effects emitting from that place had a subtle impact on the surrounding area – semi-strange plants grew just outside of the dense woodlands. He had managed to take a look inside, and found that the crowding trees' leaves acted as a thick canopy, blocking almost any sunlight from ever entering.

He looked over at the half-elven woman, wincing at the fact she was fixing lunch for the group. Genis would have fixed lunch that day, but he was so exhausted that he went to sleep, unconsciously and accidentally giving Raine the go ahead to prepare the lunch in his place.

In fact, everyone save him, Raine and Presea were all asleep. He figured that all of that walking must have gotten to them. But turning his attention back to his teacher, he could not help but wonder if the Quiche she was making was actually edible or not.

He was still weary with the pink-haired girl – he knew it had something to do with her exsphere, but he did not know what. All they knew was that she was an experiment; he looked – or rather, tried to look – at the stone, and tried to compare it to his own, though found that it was utterly pointless; his own exsphere was just as complex.

Though worried about the girl, his thoughts were turned onto his own problem; he still remembered his conversation the night before with the half-elf teacher…

(--The Night Before…--)

Lloyd lay on his bed, wide awake; he found that he could not sleep, his mind always returning to memories of old when he dreamt. Raine sighed from her spot (as it was her time for night watch), shaking her head in annoyance. "Lloyd, you're still having problems? If this continues, you may not live to see the next day." she chided.

The teen sat up, rubbing his eyes tiredly. "But Professor…"

"Lloyd, it's been almost two weeks since that… man betrayed us! You have to get over it!" She shouted as loudly as she could without waking the other members of the group.

"I can't!" he yelled at the woman, offended. "I can't get myself… to forget the time… we had…" he said, lowering his head. "I know I shouldn't let it affect me, but…" he said, hurt; his eyes glazed over.

"Lloyd, you have to put it behind you, or else you will never be able to focus on what's ahead." she deduced, entering a thinking position. "However, the only way for you to overcome it is to confront the one who caused the pain." she sighed, placing the hand onto her hand. "And I don't want you to do this, but we need to have you conquer your doubts…"

"Is the only way to… talk to Kratos?" he asked, looking discomforted.

Raine sighed. "As the theory goes. If it's not to the one who caused the problem, the problem remains." She stated. "I don't know if you should talk to him though. Suppose he tries to get you to join him? We can't have something like that happen." she said, almost stuttering. "We… We can't lose you, Lloyd."

"Professor…" he replied, widening his eyes in shock; he then narrowed his eyes in slight anger. "Professor, there's no way I'd join Cruxis, not after what Kratos did and seeing the jerk he serves. If I need to tell him how I feel in order to move on, even if he won't listen, I'll do it." he said, clutching his hand into a shaking fist. He stared at it for what felt like half-an-hour, though it was only a few moments.

"Nervous?" she asked, watching him in concern. Her eyes hid the true feeling inside her; she could not show favoritism to her most precious pupil…

"Yeah." he replied, nodding his head. "Don't worry Professor – if it seems like he's trying to get me, I'll end it and make a break for it, okay?"

Raine sighed for what seemed like the tenth time in their entire conversation. "Lloyd, are you willing to take the risk? The choice is up to you – I won't stop you, even though I'll worry about you." she said, a concerned look on her face.

"Even though it's risky, I have to do it – like you said, I can't focus on anything. I'm sorry, Professor." he responded, lowering his head.

However, he felt hands placed on his shoulders; looking up, he saw the reassuring smile on Raine's face. "I trust you, Lloyd." she said, planting a motherly kiss onto his forehead. "I trust you will know what to do. Just be careful, alright?"

He chuckled light-heartedly, a smile planted on his face. "Thanks, Professor. Don't worry, I'll be alert around him."

(--Now…--)

I hope this works… he thought, burying his face into his hands. Upon lifting his head, he spotted something white in the distance and gasped. Is that…? I gotta check it out to see if it's… he continued, looking at the half-elf woman. I don't want to leave the Professor alone with Presea but… he decided, getting onto his feet; he chased after the white blob he saw, unknown of the gasp that escaped from Raine's mouth.

Good luck, Lloyd… she thought, closing her eyes for a brief moment. She silently returned to her duties of making lunch…

I know I saw him now… But where is he? Lloyd thought, feeling everything in his mind racing around rapidly. Looking up, he gasped at finding the man, who was now preparing to leave. "Kratos!" he shouted, hoping to get the man's attention.

Kratos flinched, obviously startled at being seen. He tried to ignore the calling teen; he almost succeeded, had not for Lloyd placing his hand on his shoulder. "What do you want, Lloyd?" he sighed in defeat. They were now standing in a plain, several pockets of woodlands all around. Turning to face the boy, he tried to keep his cool.

"I need to get something out." he began, his voice shaking; he knew he had to get out now, if he was ever to feel better. "I haven't been able to focus on anything and I need to 'confront the problem.'"

Kratos tried to keep himself as calm as possible. "I have noticed that your focus has deteriorated. I thought I taught you better." he stated coldly, his voice stern. "Seems I did not do enough."

The boy physically flinched, an inaudible sound escaping his lips. "I-It's because of you, you know!" he said, turning his head away from the man. Kratos would have physically shown his sorrow - were he not himself, but he found that he was fine for now. "I guess… I haven't come to my senses about you – I'm still thinking of the 'you' I call 'teacher.' That's why I can't-"

"You're letting your old feelings get in the way. I thought you were better than that to let something so trivial get to you." he chided, ignoring the extremely injured expression on the boy's face; the boy's eyes were welling up from the emotional blow. I… I went too far… I suppose this is only proper punishment for everything I've done to him…

"You… You've changed!" Lloyd shouted angrily, his hands just inches from his swords; his eyes were narrowed in absolute fury. "You were patient, understanding, open… You were my teacher. You weren't like this – you changed! Why did you have to change?!" he shouted, taking a step forward.

Kratos sensed the oncoming blow and grabbed the boy's arm, forcing Lloyd to have to wrestle his arm free. "Lloyd, get a hold of yourself." The man said with a sigh, using his free hand to grab the feisty teen's other arm.

"Shut up! Let me go!" he yelled again, his voice revealing the pain he suffered through. "You opened up to me, trained with me, told me stories, and it turns out that everything was a lie! A big stupid lie!" he continued to struggle. "I told you so much about me… What were you going to do with it, blackmail me?!"

Kratos' eyes widened in mild shock, gaping slightly. "No!" he shouted, watching as Lloyd copied his current expression; Kratos, discovering his blunder, recovered his normally stoic expression. "No. I was merely observing you – worried about you."

"Liar!" Lloyd shouted again, trying to break himself free, to no avail.

"Lloyd, calm down!" the man shouted in a stern voice. Lloyd looked at him with watery eyes, eventually collapsing onto the ground, unknowingly onto the angel's chest.

"Why?! Why did you have to leave me?! Why did you have to betray us?! You were my teacher! My master! You… you were like… family…" the teen responded in mild despair, tears flowing down his cheeks.

Kratos felt numb; the feeling he got when he first held Lloyd as a baby – an innocent infant, who was so attached to him when the man first held him. Silently, he cradled the teen in his arms, slowly rocking him gently. "Quiet down." he shushed, mentally sighing at his current predicament…

(--Yuan…--)

The blue-haired man smiled in slight pride, having created the mysterious substance, Skrolvnaw, for his purposes. Now all he needed was for Botta to bring him that handheld launcher, and he could finally carry out with his plans. Where is that blasted subordinate of mine? he shouted in his head, unknowingly tapping his foot against his desk's wooden leg. He would love to test this mystical substance out, but he only had enough for one shot – he could not fail his goal.

"Botta!" he shouted in annoyance; almost instantaneously, the man entered the vicinity, the launcher in his hand. "Ah, finally! You have taken your good old time, I see." he joked, raising his eyebrow; Botta was not amused. "Oh come now! I was merely having fun – this will be a glorious moment once we shoot this substance at Kratos, and then we can finally capture him." Yuan took the machine, inspecting it. "This is the launcher that has the scope, yes?" he asked the man.

"Yes sir. I made sure of it." the sub-commander responded with a salute.

"Excellent. We can't have Kratos finding out what I'm going to do." he said, a concerned expression on his face. "I hate to do this to him, but it's the only way we can do it right now…" the Renegade leader sighed with slight resolution; he stood up from his seat, placing the skrolvnaw into the launcher. "Alright, Botta, I'm off." he said, heading for the front door.

Okay, according to this, he should be over there… Let me stop here and see if I can scope him… the man thought, pulling out the machine from his wingpack. Pulling out the scope, he looked through it; he found the man on the ground, although he also noted a pair of red arms wrapped around him. Those sleeves… Why is Lloyd hugging him? He doesn't know already does he?! I'm too far away to hear, and I can only see them using the scope… he mentally growled, placing the launcher onto his shoulders.

Looking around so that no obstacles were in the way, he then scoped for the man's back, locking on to him. Okay Yuan, make this shot count… he said, pulling the trigger. Alright – now I have to hurry off before he sees me. I'll have to go after him later, or else I'll compromise my mission… he sighed, flying back to his base…

(--Kratos and Lloyd…--)

Lloyd released the man from his hug, sniffling lightly. Kratos placed his arms onto his son's, a tiny smile on his face. "Feel any better?"

Lloyd gasped lightly, rubbing the back of his head with one hand. "Actually, yeah, I do. This is exactly what the Professor wanted me to do. I feel so much better now." he sighed contently. "Thanks for hearing me out." he blushed lightly, as if he was in a rather awkward situation.

"I'm sorry." The man replied, turning his head away. "I tried not to get close to you – knowing of my position, but I could not help it. I actually did enjoy the time we shared. I wish we could have spent more time but…" he said, lowering his head.

"You… You haven't changed after all…" Lloyd stuttered quietly to himself; he began to chuckle weakly, startling the man. "You're still the same…" Kratos simply smiled softly. "Why do you have to be with Cruxis? Why can't you come with us?"

"I still have things I have to do. That's all I can tell you. I'm sorry." He responded, watching the teen sigh to himself. Kratos gasped lightly, exposing his wings; plucking a solitary feather, he handed it to the boy. "But if you like, we could try to get back to training sessions again…" Kratos said, a blush barely visible on his face; he had a slightly bad feeling about it though, knowing he might provide Yggdrasil with an opening. But if it made his son happy, it's the least he could do – he did owe it to him.

Lloyd began to beam happily and hugged the man. "That would be great, but how would we do it? We are on opposite sides…" he said, lowering his head.

"We could do it at night. Whenever you have night watch, give me a call using that feather." he said; he could not help but smile, as the teen was hugging him with joy again. "Now you should get going…"

But suddenly, Kratos felt something hit him from behind, causing his back to arch; he felt pain being sent through his spine, his head banging heavily. Wincing, he looked down at the teen; he was going through the same pain as he, it seemed. Just then, a green aura surrounded them both. Instantly, Kratos grabbed the boy and flew into the forest – although unsteadily, as he was still in pain, just as he felt something happening.

After Kratos slowly managed to get Lloyd onto the ground, he began to wheeze. Turning onto his chest, Lloyd began to unbutton his jacket. Can't… Breathe…! What's… going on…?! he thought, finally unbuttoning his jacket; throwing it to the side, he felt that feeling again, now on his shoulders. Touching his shoulders, he felt his suspenders, and slowly (as a sharp pain had just run down his back) pushed them off.

Several moments later, the pain stopped. Lloyd slowly got onto his knees. Something felt different – something was not right. Turning his head to Kratos, he gasped at the sight – he looked a lot younger; if he did not know better, he looked almost exactly like him! But turning back to him, he somehow got the idea to pull out one of his swords. He slowly unsheathed it – as he had a bad feeling about the whole thing – and closed his eyes, putting it in front of his face. He opened his eyes, and screamed.

He suddenly placed his hand on his mouth; his voice was deeper and more masculine than before, and his face had also matured. Raising his hand, he found that his hair had gotten longer. In his shock, he dropped his sword. He then looked at himself and covered his mouth again, his eyes wide as saucers. He somehow had gotten taller, and his muscles appeared to be almost completely developed – not as big as Kratos' was, but pretty darn close to it, he thought.

He even started to blush, as his black undershirt showed off his new muscular chest. What happened to us? he thought, strangely in his normal voice. He hurried over to Kratos, whose current outfit was several sizes too large. Taking a closer look at the man-turned-teen, he gasped; Kratos had brown hair?! "Kratos, are you alright?!" he asked, wincing at his deep voice.

"Yes, I'm fine." he replied; looking at himself, he gasped lightly; one could tell he was trying to remain calm. "Alright, so I'm me and you're you, and seeing how I'm still in my clothes and vice versa, it doesn't appear that we switched bodies…" he said in a voice similar to Lloyd's previous voice, stunning the boy-turned-man. "What's with your face?"

"What do you mean?! You look like me, you sound like me, it's like you are me but you aren't!" he shouted frantically, placing his hands onto his head. "Why do you look like me?!"

"Calm down, Lloyd." Kratos replied with narrowed eyes, frightening the man. "This is how I looked… when I was seventeen…" he thought, rubbing his chin in thought. "That's why I took an interest in you – you reminded me of me. Anyway, since we did not switch bodies, I would have to say that the next guess would be that we switched ages, since you now look like me."

Lloyd paled slightly. Grabbing his sword again, he glanced at his hair; while he still saw spots of brown, it was also mixed in with an auburn shade, creating a light auburn color. "How did this happen? I can't return to camp like this! They'll think I'm you!"

Kratos rubbed his chin in thought, looking at the teen's discarded jacket; a heavy sigh escaped his lips. "It seems that we have no other choice. Take off the rest of your clothes." he said with a straight face.

Lloyd gaped with such intensity that his face was entirely red. "What?! You aren't serious, are you?!"

"Lloyd, I'm being serious here." Kratos exasperated, face-palming into his small hands. "Until we can figure out what happened to us, the only way no one can find out about this is for us to pretend to be the other." he stated as he climbed his way out of his uniform.

"But I don't want to be you! I want to be me!" Lloyd shouted in response, receiving a smack from Kratos. "Hey, why'd you have to hit me for?!"

"Because you are acting foolish. We cannot figure out what happened if we stay here. We need to act like each other if we are to fool anyone." The newly de-aged teen said. "I don't like it either, but you don't see me complaining. Now take off what you have on now and put on my clothes."

"Ugh, this is seriously messed up…" Lloyd sighed, removing his black undertop; he gasped at the newly-formed muscles, which were more defined than he originally thought. After finishing with removing his old clothes, he slowly worked his way into Kratos' "Judgment Outfit," shuddering at the thought of having to wear a Cruxis uniform for an undetermined amount of time.

Kratos sighed at the red dwarven outfit he had to wear as he adjusted the jacket, making sure the buttons were in the correct order. He then slipped the overalls over his new jacket, completing his apparel. The two men had to chuckle at the other, finding how ridiculous they looked. But the teen began to frown. "We need to make two more switches, I'm afraid." He said, noticing the confused look of the man.

"What are those?"

"Our weapons… and our exspheres…" he said, noting the widened eyes of the man.

"What?! Then how am I going to fight?! And I just can't give you my mom's memento just because we're pretending to be each other!" he shouted in protest, ignoring Kratos' childishly funny glare.

"Because it will give us away, that's why! And you'll be using my weapons and my exsphere so yours does not get stolen while within Cruxis!" Kratos chided at the teen-turned-man as he handed over his sword and shield. "Besides, you now have the time to learn a new style. Now give me your swords and your exsphere."

Lloyd only grumbled as he handed over his twin swords, strapping on the single double-edged sword onto his waist so that his right hand could easily grab the sword. When Kratos held out his hand for the exsphere, Lloyd held his hands together.

"Lloyd, if it will make it better to you, I will swear on my life that I will keep it safe for you. I promise." he said to the now-man Lloyd, who only grumbled some more. "Lloyd, do you trust me or not?"

"Alright! Here!" he shouted, removing the exsphere from his left hand, placing Kratos' Cruxis Crystal in its place. A large forlorn expression on his face, as if tears would come crashing down.

"Now that we're set…"

"Wait." Lloyd interjected quickly. "What about our hair? And how am I supposed to get to wherever you normally are anyway? I don't have wings or know that teleport-thing you do."

"Excellent observation." Kratos complimented, pulling out an apple gel. "I'll use this as a way to have my hair stick up, and you'll have to wait for you wings to grow before I can teach you to teleport." he told the man, who gasped loudly.

"You mean I have to wait for who knows how long?! What do I do until then?!" he shouted again.

"Lloyd, you have my Cruxis Crystal. And not only that-" Kratos stopped himself, not wanting to reveal anymore. "Never mind. It may have a faster affect on you. That's all." he said, walking out of the forest. "Now all I have to do is head back to your camp while you wait to receive your angelic powers. Then you'll come by your friend's camp at night and I'll teach you to warp so you can head to Welgaia."

"Alright… But what should I do until then?" Lloyd asked, placing his hand onto his chin.

"Well, luckily for you, I'm not technically due back for quite some time, since I was the one who handled the Chosen's Journey. It would be something similar to a long vacation." Kratos stated, closing his eyes. "So do whatever you wish – you can watch me act like you and see how I do from a distance, as long as you don't get caught."

"Oh, you mean like our minor vacation between school terms?" he replied, receiving a light chuckle from the teen impersonator. "What, that's the only way I'm able to think about it."

"I'm not surprised, Lloyd." Kratos chuckled. "Now I'd better get moving." he said, leaving the forest; almost immediately, he came back into the woodland. "By the way, where is your camp again?"

Lloyd started laughing, a smile on his face. "It's that way – if you can smell, you can sniff your way back with the Professor's cooking." he replied, ignoring the disturbed look on Kratos' face at being forced to eat that woman's cooking again. "Good luck with her – she'll ask how you feel after talking to 'me.,' by the way." he joked, watching as Kratos left.

After walking for some time, he found the group sitting around the fire, eating; they all turned and looked at him, every one of them with a slight stare. And so it begins… he thought, walking toward the group he would soon be spending quite a long time with…

Me: So Freaky, is that how you were imaging it when you found out about it? n.n
Genis: You're absolutely crazy. Although this will be funny to see, especially with Lloyd. Hahah! n.n
Me: Thank you, and you're an evil brat. Hahah! Now review please.