This chapter brought to you by the song 'angel with a shotgun', been a long time since I've had inspiration to write like this from a song

Disclaimer: own nothing.

"My feathers are all damp…."

"We'll be out soon, Lloyd," Colette said with a smile. "Just hang in there, okay? I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize." Lloyd sighed, ruffling his wings violently to shake free some of the water free. "It's my duty to follow you wherever you go, so I shouldn't complain, the fault is mine."

The blonde responded with a weak smile, wringing her hands as a light flush came across her face.

It was bad enough that the trip to the geyser had taken forever and a day, but the sea breezes kept buffeting his wings, so he had to keep them hunched to his back. Even then, that didn't stop his feathers from getting drenched every-time a rogue wave splashed over the boat. He had begged his father to just let him fly across, but Kratos had staunchly refused, saying that his wings would get tired before they even got half-way. Oh well, there was a light at the end of the tunnel after all; Kratos had promised to give him another flying lesson. So for now he'd just stick to his duty and help Colette break the seal, but later on he'd have something to look forward to.

"I'm glad I know lightning spells already," Genis commented. "It makes the monsters here a lot easier to fight."

"I guess I should try to learn it too," Lloyd said sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck.

"You always seem to have problems with elemental spells." Raine sighed. "I suppose it makes sense that you're more attuned to light spells, given your species, but I'm certain you could learn the others with a little more effort."

"Given where we are, lightning spells would be most helpful, but I doubt that you could master them in time for them to be of use here," Kratos said. "We're near the seal room as it is, judging how that is the only transporter in here and there are no further routes."

Lloyd's wings twitched a bit at the thought, looking ahead. Finally they could break the seal and get out of here. He glanced over at Colette, who gave a small smile that seemed to only fuel his drive. Yes, they'd break the seal just like the last, he'd protect her.

"All right, is everyone ready?" Raine asked as they approached the transporter.

There was a collective nod from the group and they entered.

"Ugh, it's even damper down here," Lloyd groaned, his wings jerked on reflex in an attempt to shake the moisture from them.

"Be careful, Lloyd," Raine spoke up. "This area is confined, you could crush your wings if you end up running into one of the pillars."

"Or soak them and weigh them down too much to surface if you fall into the water," Kratos observed flatly.

"How comforting," Lloyd muttered, twitching his wings again before folding them back to his back.

He didn't get a response to that, as a surge of mana had begun to shoot up from the altar. Lloyd's wings twitched as it flooded past his body, his wings fanning out as if sails to catch the wind, feeling it entering into his feathers. He knew the others were aware of it, Genis and Raine clearly said they felt it, and of course his father and Colette could sense it, they were angels as well after all. Then, from the outgoing mana three figures formed, a large mermaid looking creature with two smaller ones. Lloyd wasted no time in rushing forward with the blades drawn, noticing his father doing the same to the side. Colette had spread her wings and was chanting the spell for angel feathers, her chakrams held firmly in her hands. Genis was conjuring lightning while Raine set up a barrier spell, to deflect any incoming spells form the enemy.

It wasn't hard, really, they were not slow but they were in no way fast. The only thing that was a problem was avoiding there projectile water spells, but even then he had more than enough time to sense the oncoming danger and dodge it. He did his best to time his attacks after Genis or Kratos had stunned them with lightning, slicing at their limbs or thrusting toward the chest. In this manner he managed to slay one of the smaller ones before focusing his attentions onto the larger one as Colette distracted the remaining small one.

The fight went better than expected when all was said and done, though Lloyd's wings were continuously jerking and twitching in an attempt to shake some of the dampness out.

Colette had approached the altar, summoning the angel Remiel with her prayer as she splayed her wings out. He liked it when she had her wings out, when they were unveiled to the world. The dim shadow he always saw when they were concealed just…didn't fit her, her wings were vibrant, colorful, cheery and beautiful, just like her…

He frowned.

Was it…bad, that he liked her like..that? They had always told him it was his duty to protect her, to care for her, but to respect her. Was it disrespectful then, for him to care for her as something other than the Chosen? What was wrong with it, really? It wasn't like they were different from each other either, they were both angels, it wasn't like he was a ..'mortal' who had feelings for an ethereal being. That was what he had been taught anyway, that that was…'bad'. Really though, was it? Colette's mom had been human, hadn't she? And Remiel was her father so…so no, that couldn't be wrong either, right? If Cruxians had children with 'mortals' then really, there could be nothing wrong with it..

"Lloyd," Kratos cut into his thoughts. "We're ready to leave, are you all right?"

"Huh-? Oh, yes," he said with a nod. "I'm s- I apologize, I was just..thinking."

"At the last seal you were affected by the mana," Kratos said more urgently, frowning. "Are you feeling anything like that now?"

Lloyd blinked, looking at the altar. Sure he felt the mana, it was hard not to, but at the fire seal the mana had given his wings a rapid- and painful- growth spurt. It had happened about this long after the seal too-

His wings seized up.

"Ugh-" he choked, his eyes widening.

"Lloyd-"

"I- I'm okay," he choked, forcefully closing and spreading his wings, stretching out the muscles. "It- it hurts a bit but not as much as last time…I-"

He stubbornly stifled a yelp, feeling his father's hands on his wings as green healing mana emitted from them.

"Sit down, Lloyd," Kratos demanded. "This'll help with the pain, we don't' want you collapsing again like you did last time."

He quickly obeyed, just in time as it turned out, given that his entire body began to tremor with pain not a second later. Knowing what was coming he gritted his teeth, determined not to scream like he had at the last seal as the mana tore at his body. His father's healing spell probably helped a lot as well, it hurt, but not nearly as bad as the last time. Still, he kept his eyes shut tight, breathing hard as he waited for it to pass.

"Just like at the last seal," he heard Raine say. "His wings are changing color again…"

"They're blue this time," Genis said. "So do you think they change color with the type of mana? I mean they turned red at the fire seal…"

He felt a damp cloth on his forehead, Raine, he could tell from her milk-textured mana.

"Is he okay?" Colette asked, worry evident in her tone.

"Dammit…" Lloyd grunted.

He wasn't the one they were supposed to be worrying about! He was supposed to be protecting Colette, they were supposed to be worrying about her- Another flush of pain seized his body and his fingers curled into the tiles, breaking them via his angelic strength. It hurt- it hurt- dammit, no! Don't pass out like last time, don't, not again. He repeated it to himself, he would not be weak last time, he refused to-

His wings spasmed and he jerked, his eyes flashing open.

"Ah-!"

He felt his wings stretching, growing, like they had last time. He tried to crane his head to look, but his wings were jerking, making it too difficult for him to get a good look at. Quite abruptly, it was done, his wings falling limp on his back. He panted, trying to look as Raine wiped his face with the cool cloth. \

"There, I think it's passed….are you all right, Lloyd?"

"Y- Yeah," he said breathlessly. "It…wasn't as bad as last time- did they-?"

"They've grown about two inches," Genis said from behind him, sounding mildly impressed. "That's about half as much as they grew last time."

"Good, it seems his body is adapting better to the mana," Raine said. "If that's the case, the next seals should be even easier on him."

"Are you all right, Lloyd?"

He looked up at Colette, her big blue eyes shimmering with concern, her hands clasped before her. A fresh wave of guilt and shame washed over him, attempting to stand only for Kratos to pull him back down by his shoulder.

"Don't get up yet," he ordered.

"I'm sorry, Colette," he said, ignoring his father. "Please don't- don't worry about me, I'm fine now, I'm sorry I – are you all right? You're not feeling sick again are you? Professor, is she-?"

"No…I think I'm fine," she smiled weakly. "Don't worry, but thank you."

"Still, let me check you, Colette," Raine said, leaving Lloyd so she could examine the blonde Chosen. "Just quickly, so we can get you both out of here to rest."

To Lloyd's relief, she did in fact seem to be fine. He even seemed to be well enough to move around again within a couple minutes. Perhaps Raine was right, perhaps the seals were getting easier. That made him feel better, if it could be easier on Colette then he was happy…

They made it all the way out of the temple, even past the tourist-trap area of the geyser before she collapsed again. She had swayed and Lloyd immediately reacted, stepping behind her to catch her as she fell back.

"Col-!"

"I'm sorry…" she mumbled, her eyes partially closed. "It happened again…"

"We should set up camp so that they can rest," Kratos announced in his usual matter-of-fact way.

"I agree," Raine said. "But if this is going to happen everytime she releases a seal, they're both going to have a difficult journey ahead of them…for now, I'm going to call the phenomenon 'Angel Toxicosis'."

"I don't get it…" Lloyd mumbled. "How come Colette keeps getting sick like this? I mean, it hurts me because it makes my wings grow, but then I'm fine just a little bit after…she gets sick for the entire night, and her wings don't grow or change at all…"

"It's probably because the Chosen one is a different kin of angel," Raine postulated, checking Colette's temperature. "Yours and Remiel's wings are both solid and white, Colette's are made of mana…"

The woman frowned, glancing over at Lloyd's wings, scanning them intently.

"Then again, yours are more a silver…they appear to have a stronger build than Remiel's, that could be an individual difference or a sub-species difference, only seeing the three of your it's hard for me to tell," Raine admitted with a sigh. "Let's get her somewhere to rest, we can discuss this later."


Lloyd sat poking the fire, glancing back at Colette then into the flames, feeding it another log. He always had to remember to keep a good distance from fire, since it wasn't as hot to him he could get too close without realizing it and singe a few feathers. His wings were still a bit tender from earlier, and he didn't like the idea of singeing them at all. Genis and Raine were asleep already, but Colette didn't seem to be sleepy at all…was she still feeling sick? Maybe he should go talk to her. He stood, walking over to her.

"Hey, Colette, are you all right?"

The blonde looked up from her seat, smiling at him.

"Of course I am."

For a moment he just looked at her, the girl fidgeting just a bit while she attempted to keep her smile fixed under his scrutinizing gaze. Lloyd frowned, then seated himself beside her.

"I'm kinda bummed, I was hoping to fly some more today," he said, giving her a half-smile. "But my wings still ache from earlier…I guess that was kinda stupid that I forgot what happened last time. I mean, I thought about it, just it kinda slipped my mind when we were in the temple…it was way too humid in there, I think my wings are still damp."

Colette smiled a bit in return, tilting her head a bit to scan his closest wing.

"Colette, when you're feeling better, do you want to go flying with me?"

The blonde blinked, looking at him. Lloyd smiled a bit more, giving his wings a little flap.

"I just…maybe it's because you're still not used to them, but you really haven't used them to fly- I mean, you hover, but…don't you want to fly? I mean I can …see how it'd be scary, I guess, since you haven't grown up with wings…and I'm still learning too," he said sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck. "But once we're both ready, I…I'd like to fly with you."

He hadn't realized just how hot his cheeks felt until he stopped, finding himself at a loss for words suddenly as she stared at him. Lloyd swallowed, clearing his throat. What had he said? Had he freaked her out or something? He just asked if she wanted to go flying with him, that wasn't improper or weird or anything, was it? No, no it couldn't be…it's not like he asked her out or something-…not like…he'd ever be allowed to-…would he?

"I…sure," Colette said finally, smiling. "I don't see any reason why not."

Lloyd grinned.

"Great! It'll be a lot of fun, trust me, I've only flown once but it was amazing! It'll be so much fun-" he cut off, rubbing the back of his neck again. "…Are you sure you're feeling all right, Colette?"

"I'm fine," she said again.

Lloyd frowned, scanning her. Something felt…off, about her mana. He had noticed it before, here and there, since the first seal…but it had been fainter back then. Was it just…some side-effect of her change, like the illness?

"Colette? Do you ever wonder…what we're going to do, after this?"

"What?" she said just a little bit quickly, but Lloyd didn't catch it.

"I mean…once the world is regenerated, the Desians will be gone, and Martel will wake up, right? So what happens to us then, you know?" he frowned, looking up to the sky. "We're angels, so we're supposed to serve Martel, right? So..when she wakes up, do we…I mean, what happens? Do we serve her like the other angels? Or …or is this our job, and then afterward- then what, you know? What do we do once…it's all over?"

He looked up at the stars, losing himself in his thoughts. It was probably a better idea to simply ask his father this, he knew that, but for some reason he felt like he had to ask Colette that. It was…important to him, what she thought about it, what she wanted to do.

"What do you want to do, Lloyd? Once the journey is over?" she asked.

What did he want to do? He frowned a bit, scanning the stars and then looking back at her.

"Well…I always figured I'd go to Derris-Kharlan with you, that's…where I belong, isn't it?" he frown a bit more. "I wonder what it's like up there…do you think…it's a lot different than Sylvarant? I mean…I'd miss stuff down here, you know? You will too, right? You'll miss stuff from here? Like the Professor, and Genis….but I'm sure we'll be able to come see them sometimes, right?"

Colette was quiet a moment.

"Yes," she smiled again, nodding. "I'm sure. I'm sure you'll find your parents too, Lloyd. You've been looking forward to that for a long time, haven't you?"

His parents. He quickly stopped himself from glancing at his father, he was pretty close by, with Noishe, he could sense it. Yeah, he was really happy to finally meet his father, and he was looking forward to seeing his mother too.

"Yeah," he smiled. "It'll be great to finally meet them…what about you? You're going to want to get to know Remiel more, aren't you? He's your dad and all."

Her smiled flickered just a moment but she spoke before he could comment on it.

"Father wants me to become an angel to save the world, I know he wants the world to be regenerated, and for me to become an angel, so I'm going to do my best," she smiled more. "I hope that once the world is peaceful, all of our friends will be happier too. So I hope…you'll get to be happy too, once everything is…over."

Lloyd smiled again, looking back up at the stars.

"Yeah, maybe then we can finally just be ourselves, wherever we end up, I'm sure we'll both be fine as long as we're together, right?"

"Yes, we'll be fine…"

"Then it's settled," he said with a grin, looking back at her. "Don't' worry, Colette, I'll protect you no matter what, forever, even after this is all over, I promise I'll never let you be alone."

She smiled at him and for that moment, he felt as if everything was going to be just fine. It would be a hard journey, sure, but once it was all over, everything would be fine. They would both be where they belonged, and they would go flying together.

From his spot by Noishe, Kratos frowned.

Oh Lloydie, you have no idea what you're talking about…poor kid is going to be so disappointed…*hugs him*

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