Disclaimer: I don't own anything!
Author's Note: I'm nearly finished with Tales of Symphonia 2! Although the original was waaay better, the sequel is still fun to play. But Kratos only showed up once in this one. :( And I have just found out that there's a ToS manga that I began reading. It's got more backstory than the game, which makes it doubly interesting. If anyone's interested in reading it, you can find it on Mangafox (dot) com. I'm gonna mostly use the lines from the manga in this one, rather than from the game.
"Sometimes, it's not a matter of what you need to hear someone say to you, but the person you need to hear it from."- Sean Walden
This small corner of the world was one that made Kratos a little claustrophobic. It was very earthy, the ground dry and the cliff walls loomed over them. Dwarves were strong creatures indeed to be able to live in such conditions. Kratos had always preferred more open places.
The note in the familiar slanted script had stated simply 'Your son's waiting for you at Altessa the dwarf's house.' How well Yuan knew how to manipulate people. The half-elf had mentioned the one thing that could have made Kratos come to this earthy place.
Kratos' eyes focused on the door opening and Lloyd froze as two swords were instantly at his throat. Lloyd's brown eyes, precisely the same shade as Anna's, were confused, but there was a spark of some anger behind them. "Even though you're a Renegade, you're still one of the leaders of Cruxis. What's the meaning of this?" Lloyd demanded.
Yuan didn't meet either Kratos' or Lloyd's eyes. Kratos instantly recognized the defense mechanism. Yuan could never meet anyone's eyes when he was ashamed or guilty, a habit he'd gotten into when they were kids. "It means we all have our circumstances." Those words weren't so much as an answer to Lloyd as an explanation to Kratos. Yuan looked back up, his aquamarine eyes hard. "Kratos, release Origin's seal or your son dies."
"Yuan." That one word was all the warning that the half-elf Seraphim was going to get and he knew it. But Yuan had always had a streak of something that liked to yank on people's chains and that was what usually liked to get him in trouble. Now, Yuan was going to use that streak to his advantage.
"Is this not a good chance to tell Lloyd?" Yuan caught the miniscule tensing of Kratos' hand on the hilt of his sword. He turned slightly to the twin swordsman. "You and Kratos are father and son."
Lloyd's light brown skin paled and his eyes grew wide. "That can't be…The one who betrayed us and made Collette suffer? Who tried to kill us? You're lying!"
"How does it feel to have your own son reject you like that?" Kratos knew that Yuan knew he was driving a lance to an old wound, but that streak that the blue-haired Seraphim had could always be taken a few steps too far.
And now it was Kratos' turn to put up the defense mechanisms. The uncaring mask, the one that would look almost bored if Yuan didn't know the sheer rage that was simmering beneath it.
"You changed once you got a family." That's right, remind your oldest and closest friend of what he once had before ripping it away from him. Yuan's voice grew quietly harsh. "You've grown soft. Even fifteen years ago, when Anna transformed into that monster." Kratos repressed a flinch. "If she hadn't been together with you, she wouldn't have ended up like that. Such a pitiful woman."
Hatred coursed through Kratos' veins at that moment. Not for Yuan, he understood why Yuan was doing this. But the hatred was for Kvar, and Mithos and most of all for himself, because he knew Yuan was right. And no matter how hard he tried, Kratos could not summon any hatred for the man who was throwing Kratos' most terrible sins right back at him.
But Lloyd could summon anger, rage at everyone in an instant. "Shut…up!" He ducked the blades at his throat, spinning in a quick, tight circle while drawing his blades, cutting down the two guards who had restrained him. "Don't say things like you know everything!"
Yuan had reacted automatically, entirely on instinct, when Lloyd charged at him. The lightning materialized in his hand and he released it at the thing his mind perceived as a threat. Kratos body moved without thinking as well, although he'd been on the receiving end of those lightning shocks before. When they first learned the spell, so many centuries ago; a few times when Kratos had been unconscious and Yuan had needed to awaken him, the blue-haired man had used the gentlest touch of the lightning to spark some reaction from Kratos' mind.
He looked down at this boy…no, Lloyd was a young man now…the young man who two Seraphim had placed their trust and hopes in. "Are you alright?"
A relieved smile that Kratos had no strength to hold back spread lightly across his lips. "Good."
It was the one word Kratos could summon from his throat before he found himself losing to unconsciousness. Lloyd caught the taller man…his father…instinctively and he could feel the burns that had gone through the clothing and directly into the skin. A scream ripped itself from his throat when he looked, really looked, at Kratos and could see some of his features reflected back to him.
Explosions ripped through the air, their light nearly blinding everyone. Yuan turned towards the source, finding only a specter from a long-lost past.
"That's enough, Yuan." Ancient blue-green eyes stared at him from a child's face. But there was nothing childish about the face; the expression was haunted, as it had been for four thousand years. "Lately, I've been wondering what you've been scheming." Mithos strode forward, raising a hand that Yuan knew he couldn't stop, because he couldn't hurt a child, no matter how much he might want to.
The blinding light flashed once again and it slammed into Yuan's stomach, forcing him to the ground. He'd taken beatings before, hundreds upon thousands of beatings, but damn if this didn't hurt a little more than the others. Because this was her little brother, the once smiling, laughing child that had disappeared the day she died. Kicks rained on his ribs, but he couldn't quite force himself to cry out. He never had, not even when he was a kid in the streets of Asgard.
Yuan watched in silence as the others came out of Altessa's house, shock, confusion and disbelief written all across their faces. The look on Raine's brother's face stood out in particular. Like he didn't want to believe that this was really happening. Had that been what his and Kratos' faces had looked like when Mithos had first proposed the plan for the Age of Half-Elves? Or had they been too lost in grief to truly take in the ramifications of Mithos' plan?
Yuan spoke through the blood in his mouth. "You hid your true self and approached them, didn't you?"
Mithos' face was too calm as he summoned the spell that was aimed at Altessa. And there was Tabatha, kneeling by Altessa. Yuan forced himself to remember the present, because all the spirits of the past seemed to come together tonight. That wasn't Martel, couldn't possibly be her.
"Mithos is a kind person." Tabatha was saying. "Because of that kindness, you saved me that time, didn't you?"
Yuan was too tired to not allow thoughts to come into his mind. Mithos used to be kind, when they'd first met. Even after his sister died, Mithos had tried to keep a grip on reality. After a while, he'd simply stopped trying. And the only reason Mithos hadn't shot the spell that was still glowing in his hand was because he was seeing double images, like Yuan saw for a half-instant. Martel instead of the doll. Perhaps Mithos remembered where he was now, because the spell had been released, slamming Tabatha into the cliff face.
Yuan, despite not wanting to see it, could see the hurt that Mithos had as he turned away from the others. Yuan had seen that pain before; saw it every day since Martel had died. "Shut up! Tabatha! You damned doll that looks so disturbingly like my sister! You're a failed vessel, that's all! Just by looking at you, you can tell there's nothing!"
Yuan forced himself onto his forearms as Yggdrasil stood there. The iridescent wings shone in the darkness, as did the magic that made Kratos' body fade. It took them all a moment to get the ground under their feet again, especially Lloyd. And gods, but he looked like he was lost in his own maelstrom. Still, Lloyd stood and walked over to Yuan, offering him a hand up, a lingering confusion in the brown eyes. Yuan refused the offer, standing on his own.
"Yggdrasil took Kratos back with him. Kratos is fine." Yuan assured him. Or, he would be. Yuan was going to make sure of that.
Kratos raised his head slowly from where it had been leaning against the wall. An all too familiar person was walking slowly towards him.
"What're you doing here, Yuan?" Kratos asked tiredly. He was done with playing games for the night.
Yuan didn't reply right away, taking Kratos' arm and putting it around his shoulder, aiding the brunette to stand and began helping him to walk to the bathroom. "You won't be able to heal that yourself."
Kratos didn't bother arguing the point. He noted how Yuan moved somewhat stiffly rather than his usual glide. "Ribs?"
"Mm. Brat decided to abuse me."
Kratos had to lean heavily on Yuan as the half-elf turned the water taps to fill the bath with warm water. His back was burning and his vision kept blurring, while his body occasionally shook with pain. Yuan carefully helped Kratos undress before the brunette slipped into the warm water, wincing as it made contact with the wound. This wasn't something new to either of them. They'd both gotten hurt this badly more than once upon a time and they'd done this for each other every single time. Yuan opened up the medicinal cabinet and took out the jar of powdered herbs that, when combined with water, would cleanse the wounds, numb the pain and allow the healing process to begin. Magic might close the wound over, or stop the bleeding, but it wouldn't do much for infection.
Gently, Yuan pushed Kratos down further into the water, making sure the entirety of the human's back was covered in the warm water. "I'm sorry." Was all he said.
Red-tinted eyes looked up at him. "For which part?"
"Had I known Mithos was with them, I wouldn't have done what I did. But I think Lloyd still deserved to know. When did you plan to tell him?"
Kratos didn't meet the half-elf's eyes. "I hoped I'd never have to. He would have been furious with me, would have rejected me like tonight." Yuan winced at hearing his own words. "I think I'd rather have him angry at me."
Yuan didn't quite know how to respond to that. But he spoke his thoughts aloud. "I don't honestly think he completely rejected you. He's just confused. I saw it after Yggdrasil took you away. And it is a hard piece of news to take."
The two were silent for a long while, simply letting the events of that night soak in. And as soon as all of the events were taken in, they both immediately felt every single one of their four thousand plus years. They might have sat there for a half hour, not saying a word, but when the scent of the herbs began to penetrate the air of Dherris Kharlan, they both knew that they'd sat there too long. Herbs weren't strong smelling, not these ones anyway, and if they could smell them after they'd been diluted with water, then it was time to actually close the wounds over.
Kratos carefully got out of the bath, taking the towel that Yuan silently offered him. Kratos patted the front of his body to absorb most of the water, but he was reluctant to touch his back.
"First aid." The half elf murmured, hands careful as they brushed over the wound.
Kratos turned his back to the mirror once Yuan was done and looked over his shoulder. The shape of the wound was erratic, not surprising since Yuan had been the caster of the spell, and it appeared like white chalk on his tanned skin. The wound spread from a little below the nape of his neck to the small of his back, spanning out in all directions. The lines looked fragile and it would take a few days of being careful before the wounds were truly, strongly knit, but he was healed. If he didn't reopen the wounds, the wound would fade. No scars.
"Thanks." Kratos said.
"Not a problem." Yuan gritted his teeth, a hand on his left side. Before Kratos could say anything, the aquamarine eyes looked up at him stubbornly. "Before you say anything, I'm fine."
Kratos arched an eyebrow, giving him a penetrating look. From the way that Yuan was beginning to lean a little heavily on the counter, he was most certainly not fine. And they both knew it. He'd seen Yuan say that while he was coughing up half a quart of blood. If there was anything to say about Yuan, it was that he was as stubborn as a mule. They both were.
"Alright, so I'm not completely fine." The half-elf conceded. "But it's not life-threatening. And you can't heal me anyway."
"Not life-threatening, but that doesn't mean it can't be serious. Sit." Kratos ordered, pointing to the toilet.
Yuan had a smartass remark along the lines of 'Yes, mother.', but he wasn't suicidal enough to voice it. Kratos knotted a towel around his waist and crouched in front of Yuan, pulling up the shirt to expose his torso. As an angry rainbow of bruises and split skin met the air, Yuan hissed at the pain. Kratos gently pressed down on the bruises, barely any pressure at all, and Yuan snarled at him.
Kratos glanced up at him. "I told you it was serious. It looks like he broke a rib, maybe two." The brunette twisted on the balls of his feet, searching in the cabinets below the sink for bandages and a salve for the pain. Yuan was right, he couldn't heal it. He was too low on mana right now to heal broken bones, but at the very least, he could stop Yuan from making it any worse.
Silently, Kratos lightly rubbed the salve into the bruises, into the split skin with its beads of blood. As he began to wrap bandages around Yuan's ribs, the blue-haired man said, "I got stupid."
Kratos sent him a questioning look.
"I was jealous of you, Kratos. That made me do this stupid, stupid thing." Yuan shifted so half of his face was hidden behind a veil of aqua hair.
"Jealous of what?"
"You and…" Yuan watched Kratos carefully through his bangs for the reaction. "Anna, I suppose. Ironic, isn't it? I was the one who wanted a family and…I can't ever have one now."
Kratos couldn't argue the point. Well, he could, but he knew that it was a losing battle. A person could only get one special someone a lifetime, it was a cosmic law. They'd both already found that special someone and no one else would do.
"You have a godson." Kratos reminded him as he finished tying the bandages and a slight smile upturned the corners of Yuan's lips. It wasn't an entirely happy smile, but it wasn't entirely bitter either. It was enough.
"I suppose I do." Yuan tucked his bangs behind a triangular ear. "I'm amazed that you'd still allow me to be his godfather at all."
"I'm not forgiving you just yet." No, Yuan knew that. Forgiveness took time; months, years, sometimes a lifetime. But Yuan hoped that, for the love of Origin, it wouldn't take a lifetime for Kratos to forgive him. Kratos was the only person he had left after all. "But I still trust you enough for a godfather."
Yuan knew that that was the greatest trust and honor Kratos could give. But he didn't comment on it, didn't need to. "You're going to have to tell him everything."
Kratos sat back on his heels, bangs shielding his eyes from view. "I know." Yuan pretended that he'd imagined the slight hesitation and fear in the man's voice.
Lightly tugging on the auburn hair to make Kratos look back up, Yuan told him, "If Lloyd is anything like you at all, he'll forgive you." Because Kratos would be able to forgive him, and they both knew it.
"…If you say so."
"I do say so." It took him two tries, but Yuan stood with no help. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to hunt down some powerful pain-killers."