Disclaimer: I don't own Tales of Vesperia.

.—.

Day One

These sighs I take, it's like I'm trying to breathe out the guilt, and maybe if I breathe long enough, it'll eventually all be purged out. If only.

But it doesn't matter.

Flynn comes into the room, finally, breaths coming in in short pants as he tries to explain he is late.

"I'm sorry there wasthis old lady—who needed help! And—"

"It's alright captain," I say, cutting him off. "We were able to deal with all the problems during your absence."

He shakes his head fervently.

"No—it's still—not right," He pauses and waits a few moments for his breath to calm before continuing. "The rules are there—for a reason. Even if nothing happened, I must take responsibility—for my actions. I must be a role model for others."

Witcher and I share a look.

"You know, Commandant, I'm sure nobody noticed..." Witcher says.

"This is something I must do for myself, anyway." Flynn says with a sheepish smile. "Otherwise I'll never get over it."

(And I think, in that moment, something in me just clicked.)

Witcher just gives a shrug.

"Alright. Well, I guess we'll have to bring this up with His Highness and see how he deals with it...like he'll actually give you a punishment."

"Commandant."

At my sudden outburst, the two turn to me and I'm suddenly realizing that I'm making a impulsive decision, and maybe I should have thought about it just a bit more? Should have mulled over it for a few nights, weeks, months... and then have forgotten the resolve by the time I make my decision. Probably.

But I can't contemplate my actions anymore, because Flynn is already looking at me curiously, going, "Yes, what is it, Sodia?"

And this is it. This is the moment.

"I'd like a reprieve from work."

I look directly at Flynn, heart beating fast and he's looking back an me as the surprised look is replaced by something more unreadable. Maybe he's searching for something in my expression, something that he finds, because a second later, he's calmly nodding.

"Okay. For how long?"

I want to say, "I don't know" or "A while" but that doesn't sit right with me. So instead, I just say the first estimate that pops into my mind.

"A month."

I hope he doesn't hear how my voice shakes. As if guilt could be relieved within in month, but now that it's out there, I'll damn well try.

Flynn accepts my answer with another trusting nod. "Very well. Lieutenant Sodia, you are hereby relieved of duty for a month. I hope you can sort out your affairs by then."

I bow. "Thank you, Commandant."

And I turn to leave, wanting to get away as fast as possible and maybe figure out what I just did, when Witcher grabs my sleeve and pulls me back. "Sodia, what the hell are you doing? If this has something to do with..."

"I'm just taking a vacation." I say quickly before he can say the name.

"Sodia..."

"I'll be fine."

.—.

Or maybe not.

This is the fifth time I've walked around this circle in the Lower Quarters. Well, sixth actually, if you count that first time before I had realized that my uniform and armour was attracting attention and had quickly run to change it. I think people are starting to stare at me.

I still haven't thought of anything.

Usually, when I attempt to do something, I have a plan. If I go to train or or work out, I have a plan. If I'm trying to get Flynn to take a break, I have a plan. But this time, I don't have a plan and it's sort of freaking me out. Because at this rate, I'm not going to get anything done.

But if I just try to confront him outright, I'll just get burned. I know this, I've tried it before. So I have to think of something, something to maybe offer as leverage or … what do I even want from this? All I had thought of was doing something to relieve the guilt, but I hadn't really thought of what I would do. What could I offer?

...And that's the seventh time I've walked this circle, still without any plan.

And it's when an old man comes up to ask, "Are you lost?" that I figure out that's probably time to stop trying to think of a plan that won't come.

I shake my head, smiling in embarrassment as I reply, "Actually, I'm looking for Yuri Lowell...Would you know where I could find him?"

The man gives a kindly smile, and says, "If you go up those stairs right next to the inn, it should be the first door on the right."

I smile again and thank him, before walking towards the direction he had pointed to. And before I know it, I'm there. I'm in front of Yuri Lowell's room.

I'm in front of Yuri Lowell's room.

And then, it just somehow builds up with every second that I stand here, this feeling of wrongness, that I shouldn't be here. It's too soon, and when I tell myself that, I find myself taking a step back from the door. It's too soon and I'm turning that stairway, it's too soon and I'm walking down those steps, just repeating that thought and walking away.

It's too soon and before I know it, I'm already at the divide where the Lower Quarter ends and town begins. And I pause, look back, and realize that I sure took a lot of steps.

A lot of steps and I sure didn't get anywhere—what?

"Wake up!"

I pause and suddenly, the world seems to swirl before me. The voice calls again.

"Hey! Repede, can you do something?"

I blink, wondering where the voice is coming from and suddenly there's something wet licking my face and what is going on--

I open my eyes.

And suddenly, I'm back. I'm still in front of Yuri Lowell's room, leaning against the doorway. I'm still here. I didn't run away. I didn't run away, I didn't run away, I didn't run away.

The relief that floods through me feels so amazing.

"So I never thought I'd see you around here."

And then I realize.

I'm in front of Yuri Lowell's room. And Yuri Lowell is standing in front of me. (And his dog.)

"A-ah..." And of course, without any plan, I find I have nothing to say. I wonder what I must look like to him, mouth gaping open as I try to formulate the words.

"What did you come here for? Something's not wrong with Flynn, is there?"

I straighten up and try to get some composure, because at this point, I probably didn't have anything else left.

"No, it has nothing to do with the Commandant," I say and raise my gaze so I'm looking straight into his eyes, wavering only slightly. "I—achoo!"

And then before I know it, I'm sneezing non-stop and actually, it's rather cold outside, how did I not notice before? Maybe I should have worn something with sleeves.

I sniffle a bit and try to talk again, but before I am able to get out something coherent, a warm hand is on my shivering shoulder and I suddenly realize that Yuri Lowell is leading me into his room. His room. Just the two of us. Not really how I wanted this to go.

"Looks like you got a cold," He says, looking me over. "How long were you waiting for me, anyway?"

I glance outside to see that it's already evening, the sun almost completely set, and can't help but wince a bit at how long I must have been sleeping in front of his room. I still can't help but wonder as to how I fell asleep. I had been tired recently, but not that tired...was I? "Since...noon."

He whistles and gives me another appraising look. "Alright then. I'm here now, what do you want?"

I take a deep breath. "I wish...to make up for my actions. For trying to kill you at the Shrine of Zaude."

I glance over at him to see his reaction, only to find him rolling his eyes. "That again? Are you kidding, that was over six months ago."

"Still, I feel as if I have not properly atoned for my actions," I say. "Which is why I would like to offer myself as payment. I can...do anything, clean, cook, run any errands—hey!"

I pull out of his grasp as he tries to push me out of the room, and turn to glare at him. He returns the glare with a frustrated sigh.

"Look, I don't need any help. We've had this conversation before; you do your best to help Flynn and we can call it even."

"That's not enough!" I say, crossing my arms and planting my feet firmly, in case he tries to push me out again. "I will always try to help the Commandant to the best of my abilities! That doesn't make up for the fact that I still owe you—I've wronged you, and I admit it, and I will do whatever I must to make up for it."

"Then I release you from your debt, okay? I understand that you don't feel like you've made up for what you did, but really, I can't be bothered with some whiny brat who doesn't feel justified. Not my problem."

He has a point there. Perhaps I was wrong in my approach? That I was only selfishly forcing myself upon him, and not actually considering what he was feeling?

Still, something felt wrong.

But before I can come up with any good defense, he's pushing my out the door already and this time it's too late for me to stop it, because I've already been pushed out and the only thing left for me to do is catch the door with my foot before it closes and that sort of hurt.

"Yuri Lowell," I say with as much intimidation as I can muster. "No man is infallible. I assure you, you will need my help one day."

However, he's unaffected by my words, his only response being a cruel smile.

"See, this is why I quit the Knights. It eventually just gets to point where the only way to feel fulfilled to become a useful little tool. Sucks to have no control over your self-worth, doesn't it."

"That's not true—!" I try to say, but he takes my momentary lapse in focus to kick my foot out of the way before closing the door with a slam! And so here I am, staring the door, almost tempted to knock on it loudly and maybe break it down before...doing something. Beating him up. Or arrest him for insulting the Knights' honor.

But my dignity (or what's left of it) won't allow for something like that, of course, so I take a moment to control my anger, and then walk away. One step at a time, don't look back, just walk away.

But then, just as I'm at the top of the steps, I hear a door open and a, "Hey! Girl!"

I turn back and catch the oncoming object by reflex. And...it's a jacket? "What?"

"If you died on my account, Flynn would never forgive me."

And then he's gone, door closed. I look down at the jacket and really, I'm not sure what to feel. But then another draft blows and I realize that I probably should put the jacket on

Surprisingly enough, it's rather comfy.

.—.

On the walk home, I can't help but think of his words, hitting a bit too close for comfort. Was that really how it was? That the only way I could feel fulfilled was to be useful?

Did I really have no control over my self-worth?

But then, now that I think about it, it somehow seems true. Thinking about some of my greater moments of happiness, most of them were when I had been helpful in apprehending some criminal of some sort, when I had been useful to Flynn and had been able to contribute. And what's wrong with that? Feeling happy because all of your accomplishments and abilities have worked up into some meaning and some use?

But when he puts it that way, now it suddenly seems all too pathetic and sad. Because in the end, am I just allowing my worth to be defined by others? Just like how I went to Lowell to see if he could use my help somehow, so I could relieve myself of my guilt.

Is that the only way to justify myself?

No, surely there was another answer that I was missing.

.—.

I go to sleep with an uneasy mind.

Day Two

I find myself standing in front of Yuri Lowell's apartment, yet again, jacket in hand. It's morning and I'm wondering if I should knock and wake him up and honestly, I want to. I mean, I could just as easily leave the jacket outside his door with some kind of note, but this is my excuse for returning, my excuse to talk to him.

If this was some kind of novel and I was the main character, by now, I would have an answer. By now, I would have an answer that hey, I can justify myself, watch me, and then I'd impress him. Though to what end? I'm still confused and doesn't seem to be making any sense yet.

I want to talk to him again. But I don't know what I would say.

Which leaves me here, just standing stupidly in front of his door, holding his jacket.

I'm about to raise my hand and knock, when I stop. It's still morning. I'll come back later.

And so I find myself walking down those steps, reminiscent of that odd dream when—bump!

"Ah!" "Oof!"

I open my eyes, only to find that the person that I just bumped into was the old man from yesterday. And from the way his expression changed as he looked at me, I'd say he recognizes me too.

"Hey, you're the girl who was looking for Yuri, aren't you? I hope you found him?"

I nod. "Yes, but I'm afraid I have to return his jacket now. You wouldn't happen to know if he's woken up yet?"

Shrugging, the old man casts a glance towards the direction of Yuri's room. "With Yuri, you never really know, nowadays. I can return the jacket though, if you'd like?"

I can't help but hesitate, and draw the jacket a bit closer. I mean, it would be convenient but somehow, I don't really want to let go of my excuse. My mind's racing, as I try to make a decision, "I..."

But before I can say anything, the old man's gaze goes to something behind me, and he's calling out, "Oh hey Yuri! You just woke up?"

I'm wondering if this is lucky or unfortunate.

I turn around, and there he is, Yuri Lowell at the top of the stairway. Immediately, my gaze is drawn to his hair, his messy messy bedhair. I'll never admit it, but just to see him look so utterly imperfect somehow brings out some kind of satisfaction, so much that I have to consciously fight down the urge to smile.

"Morning Hank," He says, looking to me for only a moment before turning back to the old man. "How are the new renovations coming along?"

"Fine, thanks to your help. Oh! And this young lady was just looking for you!" He says, turning towards me. "It was nice meeting you, Miss..."

"Sodia.," I supply. "It was nice meeting you too."

The old man smiles, before turning and walking away, leaving the two of us alone. I look towards Lowell in a bit of apprehension.

"So, you came back?" He says, raising an eyebrow.

"I came to return your jacket. Thank you for it; it was quite comfortable."

He takes it and for a moment there is an off-beat of silence as I try to wrack my mind for something to say, but before I can actually think of anything he's already leaving. "Well, if that was all..."

"Wait!"

He stops and seems to huff impatiently as he turns to look at me again. "Yes?"

"I—well, I thought about what you said yesterday. And maybe you're right. Maybe I have gotten into a habit of letting my worth be determined by usefulness to others. But then, what other way is there? How else do I put meaning into my existence?"

He just looks at me with this air of irritation, utterly unaffected by my little monologue, and suddenly feel this flame of shame, embarrassed that I had let myself be so vulnerable in front of him.

"I don't know, figure it out for yourself. Look, I just said what did to get you to leave me alone. If I had thought you'd have taken it seriously I wouldn't have said it." He runs a hand through his hair, or at least he tries to when his fingers get stuck in knots. I try not to giggle as his expression into comical annoyance as he jerks his hand out of his hair. "Just...go back to your Knights. We need you people to protect the city now that the blastia barriers are gone. Just forget what I said."

And with that said, he tries to move past me, but I stay stubbornly still, blocking his path.

"But..." I start. "But I still have to make it up to you. I've wronged you and I'm now prepared to take responsibility for my actions."

"Just take care of Flynn in my place, then—I've told you this before."

"That's not enough!" My sudden outburst even surprises me; I pause and lower my voice down a bit. "I want to do something for you—Yuri Lowell, I want to do something for you. I won't feel satisfied until I do." I pause, hesitating for before I add my next words. "It's something I must do for myself."

I'm hoping that my words might have affected him but beneath that cool demeanor of his, I can read nothing. His face shows nothing of what belie underneath, and so I wait, anxious, as he seems to mull over my words. It might have only been a few seconds, but the time until he started talking seemed too long.

"Man, Flynn's been rubbing off on you, way too much," He mutters to himself before quickly turning to her "Look, I'm sorry that—"

WRRRRRR!

And before he can say anything else, the warning bell is ringing through the air, it's loud sirens shaking the air. We immediately stop talking, looking around up the noise.

"Crap," I hear Lowell mutter before he takes off towards the direction of the wall. For a moment, I'm just standing there dumbfounded when the message sinks in: Monsters at the gate!

"Hey, wait up!" I say as I start running after him. "You're just a civilian! Leave this to the Knights!"

He gives me a sidelong glance. "Yeah? Well, I don't see any Knights around here now, do you?"

"I..." I open my mouth to retort when I look down and notice my lack of uniform on me and remember; I'm on leave. He gives me a victorious little smirk.

"Don't be scared, I'll protect you."

(I'm going to kill him. Again.)

"I don't need your protection." I grit out and say nothing more. Luckily, he doesn't say anything else either and just runs ahead, me tailing him close behind.

We arrive to the gate to find that some monsters have already infiltrated the Lower Quarters, people barely fending them off with poles. I immediately reach for my sword, only to find that yet again, I'm not in my armour—and that means I'm without my sword. Muttering a soft curse, I take out the dagger that I always carry from my leg and go after a monster.

.—.

"Little girl looks lost without her toy, doesn't she."

"Concentrate on your enemies, Lowell, and I'll concentrate on mine—argh!"

I barely dodge out of the way of a monster, only to see it fall seconds later. Looking around, I see Yuri's smirking face mocking me at me as he does a little victory pose.

"What was that, Lieutenant?"

Instead of gracing him with a response, I choose to keep my mouth shut, instead swinging to look for the next monster.

"What's taking so long for the gate to close?" I say. Slash! And another goes down.

Yuri is beside me, working at an equally if not faster pace, slicing and slowly cutting down the horde. "I'm betting the gate's stuck."

"Stuck?" I repeat, unable to keep the disbelief out of my voice. "At a time like this? Shouldn't you guys take better care of things like that?"

"Yeah, well," He answers in between slashes. "The capital—slice—doesn't really give the Lower Quarters—swipe—the best equipment! Hey, look out!"

I snap my head up, just in time to see a monster swoop down and is only barely able to hit it down in time. Before any monsters can gain, I'm stepping back until I'm back-to-back with Yuri. "Thanks," I murmur quietly.

"Anytime."

And then, as the next monster flops down, we're suddenly looking around when we realize that it's empty.

There's no monsters.

"Is that...it?" I venture, as I slowly slide out of fighting sense. It's quiet and calm and somehow eerily wrong. And my suspicions are only proved when I see Yuri pointing towards something beyond the gate.

"Look."

And there it was; in the far distance, there's a huge cloud belying another, and much larger horde of monsters all coming towards the city. But it's not that catches my attention.

"Oh...no," The words come out of my mouth before I can stop myself.

It's the monster that's leading them all. It's the big, huge, hulk of a monster, like an overgrown, mutated butterfly, the massive creature leading them that I'm focused on. And before I can think of anything else, I'm running.

"I'm sorry!" I yell to the grocer as I grab his crates of food before he can protest and am running as fast as I can, suddenly grateful for all the morning jogs. As soon as I pass the gates, I'm about to take the food out, a hand suddenly grabs my arm and stops me.

"The hell, woman?"

I turn, finding myself facing one Yuri Lowell. And boy, does he look pissed.

"These people are about to be attacked and the first thing you do is run off with their food? What's wrong with you?" He's all but yelling in my face.

I angrily jerk my arm out of his grasp.

"You idiot, I'm buying them time!" I respond. "You really think I'd be stealing food at a time like this—You know what? Nevermind. I don't have the time."

And I'm off running but of course, Yuri's following me yet again.

"No, wait! Explain to me what's going on; I want to know why you took the food."

I stop again, frustrated at the lack of progress I'm having because of his disturbances. Keeping a close eye on the closing distance of the monsters, I explain, "Look. The monsters attack when they feel hungry, and cities just happen to be a convenient source of food. So, distract them with food, they don't attack cities." I cast a glance towards the ever-approaching horde. "Can I go now?"

"Will that even work?" He says incredulously.

"Well, do you have a better idea?" When he doesn't say anything, I continue. "You go help get the gate closed. I'll finish up what I'm doing here."

But he still doesn't move. "You can handle it by yourself?"

"I'll be fine, just go!"

And without another word, he takes off running back towards the city. I glance again at the approaching horde; at the rate they're going, it looks like it'd be about ten minutes till they reach the city.

With a sigh, I set off to work again.

.—.

And thank the gods, it's working.

Already as I'm running back, I can see the monsters side-tracking and going for the trail of food I left leading to the Quoi Woods. By the time I get back to the capital, all the adrenaline I had pumping through me has all died down, and my exhaustion is finally getting to me. I slump against the wall, right next to where a group of people are working on the gate mechanism.

"How's the gate going?" I ask the first person I see.

"Well, hopefully the monsters aren't coming back anytime soon because it's real stuck." The person replies. "At least we got some time, right?"

"I hope so," I say, about to offer my help when a large shadow darkens the area and then, seconds later—thud.

And right there it was, that huge butterfly-like monster, right outside the gate

"Damn it," I curse under my breath, taking out my dagger and pushing my exhausted body to get up. Turning to the others crowded the mechanism, I shout. "I'm going to distract it as long as I can, okay? Try to fix the gate in the meantime."

And so I take off, charging the monster. As it's about to enter the city, I swipe out my dagger and slash one of its legs, catching its attention.

"Hey!" I yell. "I'm over here!"

At first, I wasn't sure if it worked, but then, slowly, it turned its large bug eyes toward me and starts to head for me. I let out a sigh of relief, before readying myself, ignoring the burn in my legs.

Luckily, it's slow enough for me to dodge easily and before long, I've gotten into the pattern of its attacks.

But then I trip.

Just for a second, my foot gets slips up on some rock and then BAM! I'm flying through the air, only just able to land on my feet, sliding back a bit as I fall onto my knees. But by then, it's too late and the monster is heading already for the city.

"No!"

And I'm running, trying to catch up—and it's not going to be enough. I'm not going to get there in time and it's going to get into the city and it's going to kill someone, it's going to destroy the homes, it's going to—

SLAM.

And the gate slams down just in time, missing the monster by a hair. At first, the monster is screeching and scratching against the door, but when it doesn't budge, it stops and turns its attentions back towards me, a particularly vicious gleam in its red eyes.

"Well, now its just you and me," I say as I prepare myself. Thank the gods the city is safe, thank the gods that the gate closed down in time; now I just had to survive this.

But by now, my body is way past its limit and I can barely stand as it is, much less be able to dodge and attack. For all I know, this might be my very last few moments here.

I try to call up all my remaining energy as I prepare for one last charge, wishing I had had the smarts to have nicked Yuri's sword along with the food.

And then I'm running with all that I have, hoping and praying this last hit will be enough. As it tries to swipe at me, I barely move out of the way just in time, and then I jump aiming my dagger for its head.

And it hits straight on.

For a moment, its like the world stops as I wait, wait to see if the monster will continue to move or will it topple over.

And then the second passes, and the monster's moving again, unperturbed by wound on its head, raising an arm to attack at me again—it's over. I fall to my knees, body too tired out to even move. The last move wasn't enough; it's over.

But at least the city's safe.

And as I see the arm approaching me, I close my eyes, waiting for impact, unable to do anything else.

And I wait.

And I wait.

And nothing happens.

Thump.

I open my eyes, wondering what's going on, when I see it. The monster toppled over on its side, clearly dead, and standing behind it, cocky grin in place, is Yuri Lowell.

(I can't believe I have another debt to pay off to him.)

"I told you I'd protect you," He calls to me. "You alright?"

"I'm fine," I say shortly, though really, I can't believe I'm alive. I'm alive and it's thanks to Yuri Lowell. It's a wonderfully invigorating and bitter experience. I'm alive and it's thanks to Yuri Lowell.

I pick up my body as best as I can and walk over to the wall, letting my tired body rest against it. I relish in the cool surface and close eyes, allowing myself to take deep breaths for what seems like the first time in a while.

"You did well, Lieutenant. I'm impressed." I hear him from beside me. I continue to rest, keeping my eyes closed.

"You weren't bad yourself, Yuri Lowell." And then after a moment, I add, "And I still am going to repay my debts to you, one day."

I hear him groan, and take a somewhat petty relish in knowing that no matter what, I can still hold this over his head. "Still? Woman, do you ever give--"

But before he can complete his sentence, a man from above is yelling down. "Hey you two! We're still looking for a ladder long enough, but I swear we'll find one and bring you over in no time!"

I open my eyes and look at Yuri questioningly. "Ladder? Why don't they just open the gate?"

He ignores my gaze, instead focusing on a tree up ahead. "Yeah. About that. I might have...broken the gate mechanism in order to close it. And now it's kind of stuck like that."

For a moment, I'm about to tell him off about what a stupid idea that was, hell, how were people going to get in, what about traders bringing food, and what about the costs for fixing the things, you can't just go and do things like that, when I stop myself.

After all, he probably saved the city.

I look at the sky, kind of struck odd at how it's only noon. Somehow, after all the events, it already felt like a day's work, yet the day was barely halfway through... and yet, here I am, still so tired.

And before I know it, I'm drifting off to sleep, my vision slowly blurring and getting darker as my body just seems to relax and slump off.

"Good work, soldier."

I don't even realize that the words have slipped out.

I'm already asleep.

.—.

When I wake up, the sun has already set, dark shadows filtering the room. From what if looks like, it looks like a hotel room, the one in the Lower Quarters if the view from the window is any indication.

I get up, still a bit groggy from sleep, when I hear voices from the room next door.

"Yuri! Are you okay?"

"Finally got here, did you?"

"I'm sorry, I didn't—without the blastia barriers, the Knights' forces have been rather spread out. I came as fast as I could. I'm glad that things are okay, though. If you hadn't been here..."

'It wasn't only me, you know."

"Oh right, people told me another girl helped you?"

"What, they didn't tell you?"

"... Didn't tell me what, exactly?"

A chuckle.

"Yuri..."

"You're telling me you didn't know that your own Lieutenant had come to the Lower Quarters?"

"You don't mean...Sodia?"

"Yeah, that's her name."

"Why was she here? Wait, is she okay?"

"Well, she's been sleeping ever since the incident, but other than that, she's fine. She's in the room next door, if you want to check on her. In fact, I think I was supposed to bring her some food and clothes."

"Yuri, if she dies on your watch...."

"You'll kill me. I get it. … Hey, have you heard from Estelle?"

"No; last I heard she was still in Myorzo in talks with the Krityan elder."

"But she's fine?"

"You should have gone with her if you were going to be so worried."

"This coming from the guy who stalked her all over the continents, trying to get her to go home."

"I was just doing my job. What's your excuse?"

"I'm her friend!"

"Of course."

When I hear the door slam and approaching footsteps, I make to look like I'm staring out the window, lost in thought. I almost have half a mind to apologize for eavesdropping, but somehow admitting I had listened in on such a private conversation felt like I'd just be making it worse.

The door creaks and I turn my head towards the noise, as if startled from thought. Flynn comes in, followed by Yuri, who's carrying a tray of food in one hand and clothes in the other.

"Commandant," I say, making a move to stand up. Flynn, however, holds up his hand to stop me.

"No need for the formalities. After all, you are on leave." He pulls out a chair and sits down beside the bed. I glance at Yuri but he's not paying attention, leaning against the wall as if he doesn't have a care in the world. Looking back at Flynn, I'm surprised by the the look of gratitude evident on his face. "Sodia, I'd like to express my gratitude for saving my home. I cannot thank you enough."

"I was merely doing my job," I say, uncomfortable with the Flynn in front of me. After being so used to the calm Commandant, always above everyone else, to see him in such a state of gratitude made me uncomfortable. I quickly change the topic. "How are the people?"

"Everyone's fine, nothing more than a few scratches. Though I did hear something about food being stolen..."

I stiffen up, suddenly remembering how I took the grocer's food. "I'm willing to take responsibility for my actions...!"

Flynn however chuckles, waving it off. "It's fine—Under the circumstances, it was a perfectly justifiable actions. Don't worry, I've paid off your expenses."

"But I can't just—"

"If you're so worried, then promise me once you get off vacation that you'll do extra training with dagger-fighting, okay?"

I nod, feeling somewhat better, though some of the guilt still remained. "What about the gate? Has it gotten fixed yet?"

At this, Flynn's face turns somber, the grin disappearing. "No, I'm afraid it'll take about a week before the gate is functioning again. I've had to post a guard; for the time being, no one is allowed to leave the city without permission."

"What?!"

Surprised by his sudden outburst, I look at Yuri, who's glaring at Flynn.

"Flynn, are you serious? I need to go to Aspio!"

Flynn frowns. "I'm sorry, Yuri, but I cannot let you do that. It's too dangerous out there, at the moment."

Yuri only seems to get more irritated, his hands balling up into fists. "You know I can handle it!"

"Without blastia to fall back upon, I cannot afford any risks. I must insist that you stay inside the city until we can be sure that it's safe outside, especially with the gate not functioning properly."

"Flynn, you—!"

"Um, if I may interrupt?"

And it's silent. They both turn to look at me, obviously having forgotten me in the heat of moment. Flynn regards me with a curious look, before saying, "Go ahead, Sodia."

I hesitate for a moment, before plunging on. "What if...I were to go with him?"

I glance around to see their reactions; Yuri is looking at me like I'm crazy, but other than that, it doesn't seem too incredulous yet. I continue on, hoping that the idea wasn't just something that sounded good in my head.

"I think today more than proves that Lowell and I are a capable team and can handle a problem. That said, I think it would also be more advantageous to travel together in that should one fall, the other one would be able to help out. So, if we were to travel together, I believe it would be less dangerous."

Flynn has a thoughtful look on his face, mulling it over for a few seconds. "That actually doesn't sound too bad, though I'm wondering why you would want to."

"I-I want to visit my relatives in Halure," I say, hoping that the lie isn't too obvious. Flynn however, takes it without question, turning to Yuri, who's face over the course of my idea turned from incredulous to emotionless.

"Yuri, would you mind that?"

"Not at all," Yuri says and glances at me with an unreadable look. Once again, there's that feeling of relish that blossoms within me, the feeling that I had something I could hold over his head.

Flynn gets up. "Well then, I'll go tell the guards of this and leave you two to discuss."

And he's gone, leaving me alone with Yuri. For a moment, it's dead silent, and Yuri's just staring at me, still saying nothing. I decide to break the silence.

"No man is infallible, Yuri Lowell."

I watch as he processes my words, catching the look of recognition and he seems to remember when I last said the phrase to him. He narrows his eyes, and finally decides to say something. "Oh, you're good. You're real good, aren't you."

I say nothing, keeping my face level. However, on the inside, I'm laughing, oh I'm laughing hard.

"Fine. But one thing; no more of this Yuri Lowell business. It's Yuri."

"Then you're not to call me 'Lieutenant' or anything of the like. I, too, have a name: it's Sodia."

I engage in a staring contest with him yet again, trying not to belie how uncomfortable I feel. If there's one thing that makes me feel awkward, it's using a person's first name. Somehow, that always seems to imply a level of intimacy that isn't really there, and it just seems so wrong. However, if I'm to call him by his name, he's to call me by mine. It's only fair.

He breaks the contest, turning to leave.

"Alright. We leave by tomorrow morning, Sodia. I'll see you at the gate."

And he's gone.

It's odd, but I feel somewhat lighter. Part of the guilt is already gone.

.—.

Author's Note: I fell in love with this pairing after that whole cutscene where Sodia tries to kill Yuri. Man, I really wish there was more of the pairing within the fandom, but I guess I'll try attempt to remedy that. Haha, I'll try my best! Though I'll admit I've never completed any of my multi-chapter stories and I'm not the best at romance. So tell me what you think? Or at least let me know there's more YurixSodia love out there. Thanks for reading! =D