Disclaimer: As always, I do not own Tales or any of its characters...but if my evil plan works, I will! (that is, if my home ec. teacher doesn't take over my mind first...don't ask. It has to do with many failed experiments and food-smelling hallways. And too much soda...and hyperness....wow, I got just a little tiny bit off topic here...well, most people probly won't read this anyway...ah well, i better shut up now...)

"What?" I snapped, unable to believe what I was hearing.

"I said, you should go. And you know why! Not only do our...er...visits mess up the balance of the two countries, they cause us pain. I hate seeing you in pain!" Efreet replied, his eyes softening towards the end of his speech. I glared.

"I don't care about the countries! They can manage imbalance for a few days at a time! I love you, and I will never leave you!" I shouted, my voice rumbling through the ruins.

"You always do, or I do. Visits can only last so long, you know." Efreet said jovially, his eyes twinkling. I ground my teeth together.

"You know what I mean!" He sighed, all humor gone.

"Look, love, you'll get over this eventually. You have an eternity. And besides, your brother is jealous of all the time you spend with me."

"I haven't gotten over you yet! Besides, Fenrir can deal with it, he's not a Summon Spirit anyway, he can't tell us what to do!"

"He is your little brother, though, and his opinion matters to you." I hated it when he was right! So, of course, I argued.

"Not as much as you seem to think!"

"Well, then, it matters to me." I saw he was serious about me going. If he was going to pretend he cared what my brother thought...

I leaned forward and ran my fingers along his arm, though it caused me pain to touch him. All fire was dangerous for me, but his was potentially fatal. After all, we were opposites, for lack of a better word. I caused him pain too, of course, but I had learned how to keep damage as minimal as possible. I had practice.

Efreet sighed again. "Celsius, you have to go." he said, pulling away. "It is too dangerous for us to be together. Fire and ice don't mix."

"But we do!" I said fiercely. "We've been fine this long. You're in love with me, and you know it! Why are you doing this?"

Efreet didn't answer. He closed his eyes and put his head in his hands, his tail swinging back and forth quickly, the way it did when he was agitated. I suddenly wondered what little mannerisms of mine he noticed, what phrases I overused, what I wished for and dreamed, all the little things...

He mumbled something, and I had to work hard to stifle an inappropriate laugh. A Summon Spirit mumbling, and an independent one at that!

"What?" I finally managed to say seriously.

"I said, you have to go because...I have formed a pact and I fear the maker may soon arrive at your temple." His voice was low and defeated. I stood stock-still for a moment, then I leapt forward and began beating at him with my fists, not feeling the pain I knew I should have. I could only think of what he had done, had ruined. But finally, he grasped my wrists and forced my to stop hitting him. I backed up then, jerking my arms out away.

"How could you? How could you?" I screamed, hatred coursing through me. Not for him, of course, for I could never hate someone I loved so much, but for his deeds, for the Summoner who had destroyed my love, for everyone else who had anything to do with this.

"I'm sorry. I had to." he murmured, his voice barely audible.

"You had to? Why didn't you just destroy him? You've ruined everything! You can never leave Sylvarant without his permission now! I can never leave Tethe'alla if what you say is true and he's on his way to my seal! How could you? We can never be together again because of a Summoner?" I snarled, the torrent of words pouring from me as I backed away from him.

"I couldn't...he was too strong...they were too strong, there were four of them, they're trying to stop the war, they had a healer...oh no! Good-bye, Celsius. I love you forever..."

With that, he disappeared.

"Oh, is your Master calling you, Efreet?" I said bitterly to the empty room. I walked over to his seal, unable to conjure up the will or energy to fly. I touched the still-warm stone, despite my natural aversion to any heat. A single tear dropped onto it, frozen by my ice-cold skin, and melted with a sizzling sound when it hit the surface. I wondered if that little inch of rock would be cold when Efreet returned. I hoped it wouldn't be—I'd hate to cause him pain, even after he broke the lump of ice his fire had once thawed out enough to call a heart.

I spun around, leaving the Triet Ruins the long way for the last time, looking around at the walls almost fondly. Once in the desert, I called up mana and vanished, reappearing almost instantaneously at my own home. I walked slowly through the frozen temple, so different from Efreet's, skating across my ice yard with the ease of long practice, turning my locks to the correct order, and walking into my room – my home. Fenrir bounded out in wolf form, snarling at the intruder, but relaxed when he saw it was just me. I nodded at him, but he only growled. He then melted into a pale blue man, a blindingly white tunic forming from his fur.

"What, Fen?" I asked wearily. He only left wolf form when he wanted to speak, and usually to say something nasty.

"What were you doing with that ugly, cruel, useless fire spirit?" he inquired angrily.

"That's my business. Leave me. I wish to think." I said haughtily, pointing at my door. Fenrir scowled and, shifting back into wolf form, raced out my door. He bounded back in immediately, however, snarling as he shape-shifted into a human.

"Half-elves. Here. On the overhang overlooking the ice yard." he said furiously.

"How many?" I gasped, horrified that Efreet's prediction had already come true.

"Four, one a Summoner, three boys and a girl, and they're powerful! Get ready for a fight!" He shifted again, taking his place behind me. I gulped down an ice rock to reenergize myself—these rocks completely rejuvenated me, but were unattainable and unusable to all but Fenrir and myself.

I slid into my seal, waiting for the insolent Summoner to arrive, as I had no doubt he soon would. I took deep breaths, stretching as I rested in the blackness. I felt my TP restore itself, and my HP was replenished as well. I sighed, finding myself thinking of Efreet and he many years we'd spent bending the rules—nearly 2000. Why did things have to mess up now?

Suddenly, I heard my door slam and feet headed towards my seal. I materialized in front of them, glaring at the four half-elves. Three were barely out of their teens, and one boy was barely into them.

The young blonde boy stepped forward, nervously clearing his throat. I saw the older boys, a blue-haired one and an auburn-haired one, exchange a look. The girl merely rolled her eyes as the child spoke.

"I am Mithos Yggdrasill, and I ask that you establish a pact with me." the boy stuttered. I sneered at them.

"I would never bond myself to such a pathetic group of children, for you are not worthy!" I said arrogantly.

"Then we shall fight for your allegiance!" Mithos shrieked.

"If you must. Draw your weapons." As they did, looking away like the fools they were, Fenrir leaped at the blue boy, seizing him in his powerful jaws.

"Yuan!" screamed the girl. She quickly cast a First Aid, and I was grudgingly impressed at her talent. Then I shook my head and began calling up the mana necessary for a spell.

The fight lasted a long time, and I learned the girl was called Martel, and the other boy, Kratos. The four were quick on their feet and strong, but not as strong as Fenrir and I. At first I was sure we could defeat them, but then they killed Fenrir. My brother was nearly as strong as I, and I needed him to distract fighters while I cast spells. Without his protection, I was forced to resort to quicker but weaker spells, for both Martel and the auburn haired boy, whose name I'd forgotten already, attacked with swords while Yuan and Mithos cast spells.

I'd finally killed one of them—Yuan—and was close to finishing off the boy with the sword, when I something terrible happened.

Mithos summoned Efreet.

I let out a cry of anger, grief, and fear when I saw the fiery spirit appear, and his bellow matched my own to a tee.

"I'm sorry!" he screamed as he was forced to deliver the blow that defeated me, and that was the last I knew for some time.

When I awoke, I saw that the fighters were tending to their wounds. I stalked over to Fenrir, who was lying on the ground, and fed him an ice rock. He leapt up, shifting involuntarily to a human form. The half-elves gasped and jerked away, but I held up a hand.

"Do you think I would go back on my word, fools? State your vow, pact-maker." I said arrogantly.

"Er...I am Mithos Yggdrasill, and I ask that thou establish a pact with me in order to end the fighting Tethe'alla and Sylvarant are enduring." said Mithos smugly.

"I grant thee my power." I said. "Now g-"

Efreet appeared.

"What are you doing here?" I said. "How are you here?"

"The link, it's broken, the countries are separating now, can't you tell? We are no longer joined as Summon Spirits!" he explained urgently.

"Then this is good-bye for real..." I said despairingly. He nodded gravely. "How much time do we have?"

"A few minutes at most."

At this point, I was willing to do anything to take back the pact I had made, but I couldn't. Instead, I did the one thing I knew would cause me pain for years to come. I turned away from my one true love.

"Celsius, please, give me one moment!"

"Efreet, go. I love you, but just leave. I can't-" my voice broke.

"I understand...good-bye, Celsius." he said softly. I could hear the pain in his voice.

"Good-bye, Efreet." I felt the mana in the air change as he transported back to Sylvarant.

"Celsius!" I turned, ready to attack whoever was speaking. It was the boy whose name I couldn't remember. On closer inspection, I saw his eyes were an unnerving red. Fenrir growled softly, an oddly comforting sound.

"My name is Kratos. I'm sorry that we've caused you pain. I-"

"GO!" I screamed. I watched the companions go, my fists clenched, in more pain than I'd felt before, ever wold again. I cried then, tears freezing on my cheeks, icicles forming on my chin and eyelashes. For the first and last time, I cried over Efreet. When my sobs slowed and eventually ceased, I saw Fenrir had gone. Just like Efreet. I hated those half-elves! This was their fault; they took away my meaning to life. I decided then and there to avenge the death of my chance at love by destroying every one of them someday, however long it took me to find them.

So now, 4000 years later, why am I staring at the same man I swore to kill and not destroying him? He is unchanged in some ways, but I see he is altered in others—he is defeated now, the pain in his eyes fresh, the same pain I still feel when I am not successful in pushing it away. He has been broken. His is the pain that kills from the inside out.

"Celsius...I beg your forgiveness for the pain I caused you."

"What do you want?" I ask rudely. He bows his head, giving up all pretense.

"My son will soon be here with several fighters, including a Summoner."

"You are not here to warn me. What do you want?"

"...I apologize. You are correct. I have come to ask you a favor of sorts."

"Just say it." I spat. "What do you want?"

"Please, Celsius! Do not harm my son! He is young and naive, and he wants to reunite the worlds!" he cries out, falling to his knees. "Don't harm him, I beg of you! He has suffered so much already, please let him survive!" His pain is so obvious that I wonder what he has done.

"And why are you not with your son if you wish him to stay unharmed?"

"I have done a shameful thing, a terrible thing, do not hold my son responsible..." his face whitens. I am halfway interested, but I give up. His pain is not mine to worry about, and if I dig it will only bring up memories of my own. Besides, I feel bad for him, for I understand pain better than many.

"Alright. I will see what I can do, but I make no promise. Now leave this place if you value your life!"

"I do not, but I will leave all the same." He does just that, and I wonder what pain is so intense that he has given up on life.

It is this that I am pondering when Efreet again appears in the midst of a fight to attack me. This time his eyes hold naught but detached professionality, but I know him better than that. Sure enough, after I am defeated—again by his own hand—and the pactmaker leaves, he reappears.

"Efreet...go. Our bond is no longer intact. I see no point in causing myself pain just to speak to you." I say icily, the harsh words stinging my own ears.

"I said I was sorry, and I am! What more can I do?" he says heatedly.

"You can go!"

"I cannot, not until I say the words I want to! I love you and we are meant-"

"No! We are not! You were right before." I say, regretting the words before I say them. "Fire and Ice do not mix."

"Please forgive me."

"Leave me or I will make you!" I wish I had the courage, perhaps the ability, to forgive him, but 4000 years is a long silence, and I am naturally a grudge-holder. It is my greatest fault, and we have both acknowledged that. My love for him is strong, but my anger is stronger. As always.

"Celsius...I will see you again. I will always love you."

"Good-bye, old friend...I wish I could forgive you, and myself." I say sadly.

"Good-bye." he says to me, turning away.

It seems my existence is made of nothing but good-byes and the spaces of loneliness between them. Perhaps Efreet is thinking the same thing, or perhaps something else, but either way he comes to me and lays his burning hand on my icy shoulder, though it hurts him to touch me.

"Someday, then." Someday, Fire and Ice will mix. I swear it." His lips gently touch mine, and then he is gone.