DISCLAIMER: I do not own Tales copyright or the characters; I am merely a fan who enjoys writing about them. All rights belong to Namco; character designs (c) Kosuke Fujishima.


Who I Am : Part Two


Even though he had fallen asleep at only nine-thirty the night before, Luke still slept until after ten the next day. Groaning as he realized the time, as well as the fact that he had slept in his clothes again, he slowly got up and made his way down to the kitchen.

"Luke! How nice of you to join us!" Jade greeted with a smirk as the noble entered the dining area. "Did you sleep well?"

-yawn- "Yeah, I guess..."

"Hey, Luke," a familiar voice greeted him. Luke looked up, then broke out into a large grin; sitting across from the canny colonel was none other than Guy.

"Guy!" Guy stood up; Luke happily bounded over to him and was caught up in a (manly) bear hug by the former servant. After half a second he pulled away, "But I thought you were in Chesedonia? Your servants said..."

"Well, I'm here now, right?"

Luke nodded cheerfully, "I'm glad." Guy grinned in return.

"Ahem," Jade's sarcastic voice broke in, "as touching as this little reunion is, I'm afraid I have work to do." He stood up, "I'll be seeing you, but come by my office between twelve and one. Until then, you're free to stay around the house as you wish. Do try not to tear up the grounds too badly when you spar, hmm?"

"Of course."

"Thanks."

"Toodle-oo." Jade left.

Luke's stomach rumbled then, and he scratched the back of his neck. "I think you'd better eat before we do anything," Guy laughed.


"So after that, I just turned and walked out of the room. I just had to escape, you know?" Luke dodged a Demon Fang, then came in for a Light Spear Cannon. Guy leapt out of the way, before turning around and darting back toward Luke in quick swipe.

"I know what you mean," he said. He pulled out a Beast, and this one connected - Luke was knocked to the ground. Guy moved to slash down on him, but Luke pulled his sword up to block; after pushing against each other for a minute, Guy decided to change tactics and jumped away. Luke quickly got back on his feet and threw a Demon Fist in Guy's direction - like always, however, the blond was too fast for it.

"Anyway, so I left the room and then right out of the house to the castle. Then I found out Natalia wasn't there...well, I walked past the manor and just sorta kept going. Before I knew it I was at the docks, and the ferry was getting ready to leave. Then I just decided to come to Grand Chokmah and visit you..."

"Except I wasn't here...sorry, Luke." Guy was grazed by a Lightning Blade; but then he saw an opening. "Ah-ah-ah!" Before Luke knew it, Guy had flipped the sword from his hand. "You let your guard down."

"All this time and he can still beat me..." Luke muttered, then flopped down onto the grass. "Were you just messing with me?"

"Not at all," Guy shook his head, "You put up a good fight until that last stint." He sank down onto the grass beside Luke, and sighed. "So your dad's picking on your skills as an ambassador, now." He swore and then continued, "So when you found out I wasn't home...?"

"I wandered around Grand Chokmah for awhile, and then Jade found me and took me home to his place. Said it 'wouldn't do for the son of Duke Fabre to stay at an Inn', or something like that." Luke and Guy both laughed - "Soft Meanie" indeed.

"Anyway," Luke continued, "so he talked to me about it last night. He said that Father's probably just trying to do what he thinks is best for me." He went on to tell Guy the other things they'd spoken of - what was said about Tear and commoners, and about having a better chance than Peony and Nephry did.

"Anyways, well...that's what happened," Luke finished at last. "That's what he told me."

"Well, Luke..." Guy took a breath, before continuing, "that sounds about right to me. I'm sorry I wasn't here when you needed me, but...honestly, it's probably better that you ended up talking to him rather than me - especially where your dad's concerned. I've put most of my past behind me, but I doubt I'd have given you a solid answer like that. But...Jade's right about it, you know. Your dad does care."

"Leave it to Jade to be right - again," Luke rolled his eyes, and they both laughed. "So what were you two talking about this morning?"

"Well, Jade was just sort of telling me what happened," Guy explained. "Pretty much what you told me, except he didn't really give any details, just that it was because of your dad again, and that it was worse than usual. And he didn't say anything about what he told you."

"Oh."

"Well..." Guy stood up, then turned and offered Luke a hand, which he accepted. "C'mon, Jade'll be mad if we stand him up. We'd better get going if we're gonna make it before one." They went down to the dock and boarded Guy's small fontech boat - all the nobles had them - before zipping off in the general direction of the military base. After little more than ten minutes, they had pulled into the visitor's docks at the base and disembarked.

"Hey wait," Luke asked as they walked to Jade's office, "how'd you know where to find me anyway? Why aren't you still in Chesedonia?"

"Well...don't tell Jade I told you, but...he sent a letter to me yesterday via Noelle - she was delivering something here for Natalia - saying that you were in the city and having a rough time, and that if I could come back, I should. Then early this morning, Noelle flew us back here."

" 'Us'? Is Natalia here, too?"

"'Course, stupid."

"Pfft." Luke raised his hand to knock on the Colonel's door, but right then, it swung open.

"Ah, so good of you to come," Jade grinned cheerfully as he let them in, and successfully sent a shiver down each of their spines. Immediately, he set Luke up with pen and paper.

"I don't imagine you've written that letter yet, hmm?" the Colonel (rightfully) guessed. "Why don't you start? The sooner it's written and sent off, the better."

"Letter?" Guy asked. Luke had forgotten to tell him that.

"...I guess it's about all you can do right now," he replied, after Luke had told him. "Well, besides going home, but I doubt you're gonna do that."

"Heck no."

Luke sat down to complete his task. "What all should I say, exactly? 'Sorry you were being such a jerk that I had to leave' just doesn't sound right..."

"Indeed," Jade murmured, "I doubt that will get you any brownie points. Why not simply explain that you came to get a peace of mind? That's quite true. Also mention how long you think you will be staying, and your intentions when you get back."

"But I can't go back right away - I have things to do in Padamiya a week from now, and then Anise and I have to go to Yulia City again and talk more about Fonmaster's new position. I'm just there to estimate costs, though..."

"Then tell them you'll be home after your responsiblities there are taken care of," Jade replied.

"It'll make you look a little better, too," Guy told him. "The Duke can't argue with that; Anise can back you up if he does."

"I guess that makes sense..." Luke turned to his task; Guy flopped on the couch and began messing around with some fon machine he'd brought. Forty-two minutes and six-and-a-half sheets of paper later (most of them crumpled into tiny wads), Luke was finished.

"There." He held the letter out with finality. "It's done."

"May I see it?" Jade held his hand out, and Luke gave him the letter, annoyed. He'd either find something wrong with it or make fun of something in it, or both.

"What should I do when I do go home?" Luke suddenly asked. "About my father. I don't think this letter is going to pacify him totally. I mean, I know he's going to want to talk about it."

Guy cussed the Duke's name and then said, "Whatever you do, take responsibility; answer all of his questions truthfully. The Duke hates cowards more than anything else."

"Yes," Jade agreed, "and be firm. Confidence is a powerful ally - you'd be surprised at what a difference it can make. I'm not promising anything, but I do think it will be a great help..."

Luke snorted. "Doesn't matter; with Tear, he won't give in. I'd like to elope, but he'd probably disown me or something...and you know her. She'd never agree to it besides, and she wouldn't do it if it got me disowned."

Jade's expression was somewhere between his typical smirk and a genuine smile. "...Now now," he said, his tone both cheerful and teasing, "eloping is not the way to go. If you are to have your father's blessing, you must make clear your intentions from the outset - no hiding. That is highly unbefitting a noble, and shows a lack of responsibility. If anything, eloping would only prove your father's claims. Furthermore, he could turn around and say Tear put you up to it - I doubt that's something you'd want to put her through."

"Jade's right, Luke," Guy agreed, "And don't doubt for a minute that he wouldn't do it. I may not have the best impression of him, but putting aside my personal feelings...Do what it takes to get the job done, and all that. He'd do it."

Then Guy did a double take.

"Did you just say elope?"

Luke blinked. "Um, yeah...is there something wrong with that? I mean, I haven't actually asked her yet, but..." Luke looked at them, confused. Jade was smirking; Guy just stared at him with wide eyes.

"Um...Guy? Jade? What's the matter?"

"Why, nothing - nothing at all."

Guy shook his head, but he was still staring at his friend in wonder. "Nothing...I mean, I knew you two were serious, and I thought it might happen sometime...but I guess I didn't realize it was already to that point. So, you're really sure about that, then? You're ready to marry her?"

"I...I think so. No, yes. Yes, I am - I know I am. I mean, I know it hasn't been very long since I came back, and that it'll be a huge step and huge changes, but...I think I would break apart if she wasn't in my life."

Guy smiled brightly. "That's some passion you got there, Luke," he grinned.

"Indeed, even I could feel your intensity with that," Jade half-smirked. Then he sobered, "All the more reason for you to be a man about things when you return home. Be honest, be firm. Guy is right about your father disliking cowards."

"More than almost anything," the blond spoke up. "And if you speak to him with the sincerity and intensity that you just showed us...just be square with him. If nothing else, maybe he'll gain some respect for you."

"You really think? It doesn't seem like he has yet..."

Guy sighed now, "Well, we can hope. You haven't really bothered to talk to each other diplomatically, either."

"I guess," Luke turned to Jade and narrowed his eyes. "Okay, so tell me what I did wrong with that letter."

"Nothing," the Colonel replied. "It's actually...more than what I was expecting, so I see you have learned a thing or two from your emissary duties, although your handwriting still resembles a cheagle's, more or less."

Luke glared at him. I knew he'd find something to pick on, he thought. "What, do you want me to write it again?"

"Well, you don't have to, but it might be more efficient if your parents did not have to try and decipher the words when they are supposed to be absorbing their meaning."

"Oh, give me that." Luke snatched back his letter, grabbed another sheet and began writing again, taking more care than before, steadfastly trying to keep it neat and otherwise legible. When at last he was finished, even he had to admit that the appearance of this letter made it more pleasing to read than his usual cheaglescratch.

"Well, that's done," Luke said, placing a stamp on the envelope. "Now to mail it."

"Well, let's go see Natalia, then," Guy suggested then. "She should be on the Albiore with Noelle. We'll mail it on the way."

"Speaking of Natalia," Jade began. He had that Cheshire-cat grin on his face again, and Guy all but shuddered. "I wondered why the sudden trip to Chesedonia. Clandestine meetings, hmm?"

"It was not," Guy firmly denied, "I just wanted to see her. And who told you she was in Chesedonia, anyway?"

"Why, you did just now." (The dirty word Guy threw in Jade's direction only served to widen his grin.)

Guy sighed, utterly exasperated. "Gah, you're impossible. Anyway, Luke, let's go."

"Be sure to give Countess Gardios my regards," Jade called on their way out.

"Gah!"


The trip to the main docks took little more than ten minutes; Natalia was in the cockpit, chatting with Noelle. Both were delighted to see Luke; everyone had been so busy lately that it was hard to find visiting time. The young pilot, too, knew the basics of what was going on between the Viscount and his father. (Luke secretly wondered if there was a person who didn't know...not that he resented her or anything, but he hated being the object of anyone's pity.)

"But I'm sorry to hear you're having such a hard time, Luke," Noelle said. "Duke Fabre always was sort of a hardnose... Well, if you ever just want to get away, just send the word and I'll be happy to come and fly you anywhere you'd like. Not that I wouldn't anyway, but you know."

Luke smiled at her. "Yeah, I know you would. Thanks - I may have to take you up on that eventually." The last part came out with a bit of an exasperated chuckle.

That night, Natalia insisted they all go with her to a play at Ocean's Theater, courtesy of the Dark Wings. Emperor Peony and Jade were also in attendance, the latter pleased to find that there was no thieving to be had. The play was very good, funny, and for the first time in a long while, Luke was able to completely forget his troubles. It was nice.

Luke spent four more days in Grand Chokmah - really relaxing and enjoying himself, this time - before it was time to leave to Daath, Noelle cheerfully offering to take him in the Albiore. As they stood on the docks saying their farewells, Luke suddenly felt peaceful, glad. Sure, the hardest was yet to come, but that was okay. Nothing was impossible, that much he'd learned on their journey years ago. No, the "impossible" had already been accomplished several times over. Nothing was impossible.

"Guy, Jade...thanks for everything," Luke nodded, then turned to board the flying machine. "See you all later." He climbed on, and the Albiore took off into the distance.

"Well, Gailardia," Jade smirked, once the Albiore was gone, "it seems we may soon have a wedding to plan for."

Guy whistled. "Amazing and...almost kinda scary, isn't it? How things change."

Jade smiled, "Indeed."


Dear Mother and Father,

I'm sorry to have left you so suddenly. I am currently in Grand Chokmah with Guy and Jade, kicking back for a few days and gaining perspective. I know that just sounds like an excuse - don't worry, I'm not going back to being a lazy do-nothing. I really just needed to take some time off and think.

Anyway, I probably won't be home again for awhile; I have duties in Padamiya next week, and after that there's a meeting in Yulia City with Anise and Teodoro. After that, I'll come back to Baticul and we can talk things over (I'm warning you now, Father, I am not promising on backing out of anything). Mother, I'm sorry if I've worried you; I hope you'll forgive me for running off so suddenly, and I'm sorry I can't visit you sooner.

See you in a few weeks.

Your son,
Luke

"See, my dear?" Susanne Fabre looked at her husband. "He's in Grand Chokmah, just as I said."

The Duke sighed. "I suppose so. That boy..." he gruffed. "Causing you to worry like that...What if you had fallen ill?! He cares for no one but himself!"

"Surely you know better than that," Susanne replied, "And yes, I could have become ill, but I did not. I was certain of where he went, even before you had the servants ask the ferrymen. Luke has been working very hard; he deserves a break just for himself.

"For all our sakes, dear," she said now, "please - hear him out when he returns."

"Humph."


Well, here's Part Two. Hope everyone enjoyed it; thank you all for reading!

NOTES:

- Yep, the play was by the Dark Wings. (It says in-game that most of them are performers, so, why not? XD)