Listening to Would it Matter by Skillet. Great song for explaining Lloyd's situation in the chapter. I still seem to be having trouble getting back into this story and how to continue it, but I'll keep battling with it since you guys are so great with your support and patience. I'm not completely sure about this chapter, was sort of a roll-coaster in writing it and the stuff within the scenes. Hopefully it's alright and you can enjoy it.

Disclaimer: Namco owns Tales of Symphonia.

Chapter: 43

He felt stifled in that house, as large was it was. He just couldn't seem to get anywhere alone. His eyes wandered across the large sitting room. Zelos lounged on the couch, leafing through his mail, no doubt from his fans with the way he smirked and threw them to the floor as he read through them.

Lloyd didn't understand what his father meant by keeping an eye on Zelos. It just seemed so bizarre that Zelos would need to be watched. He didn't seem like a threat, if anything, he was more like a loudmouth, womanizer.

He sighed, leaning his head back against the wall, staring up at the high ceiling. Above him, he could make out Genis and Presea's voices.

Their conversation nearly made him chuckle. Genis' attempts to compliment the emotionless girl were met with obvious lack of reaction, from Presea's part. The girl still unnerved him and he wondered what could have put her in such a state. He knew, from what Kate told them, but it still didn't make sense. Perhaps it was simply the fact she was…lifeless.

Was that what it would be like? What everyone would be like? Living in a trance-like state, with no emotional attachment to anything said or done?

He shivered slightly, lowering his gaze from the ceiling with a thoughtful frown.

"Are you cold?"

He twitched a bit, startled to find Colette once again near him. She looked at him concerned. "Maybe Zelos could lend you a blanket if you are cold."

Lloyd blinked then smirked, shifting against the wall. "I don't get cold. I'm an angel remember?"

Her eyes widened a bit, then lowered. "Oh, that's right. I'm sorry, I forgot."

He stared at her, as she moved up beside him, her back against the wall. How could she forget something like that? Wasn't it…obvious? Wasn't it a big surprise and shock?

"Was he really nice?"

"What?" Lloyd frowned, snapping from his thoughts.

"Yggdrasill. You were friends with him, so he must be nice, right?" she looked at him, her smile weak and uncertain. If anything, hopeful.

Lloyd fidgeted, looking at his boots. "Yeah…well…sometimes."

"Sometimes?"

He sighed. "Well, he had a temper and I didn't like him at first, but that's just because I didn't understand things."

"Oh." She blinked, looking down, a curious expression on her face as she thought about it. "Lloyd, do you still want to…take me back there?"

He didn't answer, tensing at her words. Why would she ask something like that? What was he supposed to say? He didn't even know. Yggdrasill needed her for a vessel, but…it wasn't like…he couldn't just…

"I…I know I should have completed the Journey. And now that I've went through it, had my…my heart and memories taken from me, I'm even more afraid than before. I want to save the world, but I'm too scared to finish my Journey. I guess that is selfish…"

"Not really," he muttered.

She looked up suddenly, her eyes wide. "What?"

"Well, I mean, I guess it's natural. Not like it'd be easy to know you are going to die in the end." He frowned. "And being forced to choose the world over your own life, it's not exactly fair either."

When no response came, he glanced over. Her head was lowered, her bands shadowing her eyes. He frowned, opening his mouth to speak when he noticed the tear streaks running down her cheeks. He froze, staring, uncertain suddenly. Was she upset? Was it something he said to make her cry? What was wrong now—?

"Thank you, Lloyd."

He blinked as her head lifted, a bright smile on her face. He realized then, she was happy. Thanking him for what?

"I… I always thought that, my life was just meant to be this way. But to hear you say that, even when you are suppose to take me back there. To hear you say that it's not fair, that it's not…"

"Hey! Alright, yeah okay… look, you don't have to make a big deal out of it. It's just…" He huffed a bit, looking aside.

But a slight glance only rewarded him with a sheepish smile. "I'm sorry. You're right." She drew back a bit, but she didn't leave him. He considered moving himself, but it would be too obvious. And it wasn't exactly like he didn't want her company, it was just...he didn't know what to say.

"Well aren't you two cute standing over there all hushed and close." Zelos' voice rose, drawing their attention. The man had a ridiculous grin on his face, propping his chin on the armrest of the couch as he scanned them. "It's the house of love it seems with you two and the brat upstairs with the Rosebud."

Lloyd gritted his teeth, feeling his cheeks burn. "What are you talking about?" Beside him, he could see Colette's confused look, but her cheeks slightly tinged pink.

"Um, Zelos, we are just talking." Colette offered, attempting to soothe Lloyd's provocation. But seeing the damned Chosen grin only more, laughing as he flipped back around to his pile of letters, Lloyd clenched his fist, barely refraining from smacking it off the clown.

"Excuse me," he muttered, instead turning and making his way out of the room. Zelos only laughed more at his departure, but Lloyd ignored him.


The house had fallen silent, the lights dimmed, the butler leaving a few lit before he retired to his own quarters. Lloyd leaned back against the couch, frowning, scanning the large empty room. The others had all taken to their rooms, drifting off to sleep...

He rubbed his eyes, sighing, leaning forward, his eyes tracing the carpet. What was he doing? What the hell was wrong with him?

He pushed up, running a hand through his hair, looking up the stairs. Was he wrong? Did they really care? His thoughts went back to his conversations with Colette and Genis. He frowned, turning his gaze away, clenching his hands. He kept wondering, if they really cared, if they cared about him being gone, if he just walked out that door, would they care-?

He smirked weakly, chuckling softly as he ran a hand over his face again. Of course, they would. They'd be mad, furious with him. Did that count as caring? He lifted his gaze again to the stairs. She would care. She would be upset, those large blue eyes of hers filling with guilt and worry, no doubt blaming herself...

Genis would be angry with him, probably yell like he seemed to do a lot. How could he still claim they were best friends when they were always fighting with each other...or was he the one fighting...

They kept him around, kept pressuring him to stay...maybe, Yggdrasill was wrong. Maybe he had been mistaken. All this time they were really telling the truth, being honest and he was the one acting like a...

"Lloyd."

His head twisted around, his father stepping into the room, papers in his hand. Lloyd frowned as the man stepped forward and he moved away from the stairs, sitting back on the couch, not looking at him.

"Are you alright?"

"Yeah...why wouldn't I be?" Lloyd muttered.

When Kratos didn't respond, Lloyd cast a glance at him, clearing his throat.

"Did you find what you were looking for?"

He didn't get a reply, just the soft footsteps of his father, feeling the couch sag as he sat down. "More or less. Do you need to talk, Lloyd?"

"No."

The silence settled again, Lloyd kept his gaze fastened to the side, the darkness and dim lighting was making it hard to see, making things look blurry. Maybe he was tired.

Kratos kept sitting there, not saying word, and Lloyd knew he was inviting Lloyd to talk. But how could he talk to Kratos about this? It wasn't like he'd understand, he didn't know him. He only knew about, about the stuff from back then, from before Cruxis, stuff that his friends-

His friends...

He clenched his hands, digging his fingers into his knees. Did he even have the right to call them that? After all the times he denied it, to himself and them?

"I don't know what to do."

"About what?"

Lloyd furrowed his brow, glaring at the carpet, searching for the right words. "Why do they still trust me? How could they trust me after what I have done? I've...I betrayed them, I'm fighting against them and she...Colette just looks at me like that and..."

"Like what?"

"I-I don't know how to explain it, but she's not angry! She should be angry right? But she just comes up beside me and trusts me, even when she knows I'm supposed to take her to Yggdrasill."

"Why did you make her the key crest?"

Lloyd turned his eyes to his father, the elder man shadowed in the dim light. "It was a deal. If it didn't work, they were going to hand her over."

"Was that the only reason?"

"What do you mean, of course-..." He stopped, frowning as he looked away. "I don't know."

"Mithos is like you, in some ways." Kratos said after a moment.

Lloyd hesitated, unsure whether or not he liked the idea. "Is it because I became friends with him?"

"No," Kratos said with a weak smirk. "You were both idealist, naive and innocent, until an event disrupted your perception of the world. But there is a large difference between both of you, Lloyd, and it has nothing to do with your races."

"Then...what is it?"

"I think you are in the process of figuring that out."

Lloyd looked up at him confused. "What is that supposed to mean? How can there be a difference if it hasn't happened yet?"

"Have you decided on what you are planning to do?"

Lloyd frowned. "You didn't answer my question-?"

"Answer mine first," Kratos cut him off. "What is it you want to do?"

Lloyd released a sigh of frustration, shaking his head. "I don't know. I already told you that."

"Are you going to take Colette to him? Are you going to complete the regeneration cycle?"

Lloyd looked down at his hands, clenching them tightly. He had to, he had to finish the cycle so that Sylvarant would start to flourish, so that Martel could be revived so the world could be reunited and the Age of Lifeless Beings...

His eyes lifted slowly, looking up the stairs towards the bedrooms. Could he do that? Could he watch her give up her soul again? He recalled their earlier conversation, that she had been afraid, that she didn't want to die. What was that like? To know you were born to die, to know you were the only one who could save the world...But she hadn't done it just for the world. She had done it for him, to help him, because she thought he was in the ranch...

"No," he said quietly.

Kratos said nothing, but Lloyd kept shaking his head. "No... I can't, I take her there. She's scared and...why does it have to be her?" His head snapped up, locking eyes with his father. "Why does it have to be Colette?"

"If not her, it would merely be another. She was born of the mana lineage, that is the only reason."

"There have been a lot...haven't there."

"You must have seen them in the Tower of Salvation."

Lloyd nodded. He had, all the coffins floating in an endless spiral. Hundreds of them, hundreds of Chosens all sent to their deaths because...because...

"All because of his sister," he said finally.

"Lloyd?" Kratos questioned.

"They all died...all the Chosens died because they didn't work right? They didn't, they didn't bring Martel back, right?" Lloyd looked at him for clarification. When Kratos nodded he frowned. "But...but they were someone's family too. That's...that's..."

"So what are you going to do?"

That question. That damn question his father kept pushing at him. How the hell was he supposed to know. What was he supposed to do? What could he do? Lloyd knew that Yggdrasill created the whole system, the two worlds to stop the war, but was that even what it was about anymore? It didn't seem like it. It was all about Martel.

He didn't have an answer for his father. He knew things had to change, but he didn't even know where to begin. How could anyone compete against the man that split a world in two.

His fingers curled, teeth clenched and he struck his knee. "I don't know! I don't know what I should do. Something needs to change. Things need to change, but I don't know how to do it! I don't know where to start. I want to, but I just don't know damn it! But something needs to be done-!"

His eyes widen, his body shaking as he felt a hand grip his shoulder, an arm enveloping him and turning him, drawing him close.

He tried to protest, tried to draw back, but Kratos held him firmly in an awkward embrace. Lloyd swallowed, trying to calm his breathing, his body trembling slightly as his father held him. And even as his face reddened, he felt his frustration falling away.

"You are on your way to figuring that out. The fact that you want things to change, that you see that something is indeed wrong, that's what's important." Kratos' deep voice spoke near his ear.

Then just as suddenly, Kratos drew away and to his feet. "Perhaps the idea will come to you in time. Just don't lose that determination."

Lloyd stared up at him, his body quivering a bit as he watched his father drift out of the room. He was leaving Lloyd to his thoughts, leaving him to think. Lloyd couldn't decide right then if he was trembling from fear or anticipation.

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