Had the sky always looked that forbidding?

Mist sighed, looking away from the gray blanket of clouds above her and casting her gaze back down to the mending she held limply in her hands. She rolled the soft cloth between her fingers, trying to focus on the lattice of threads holding it together. Her needle, still threaded with blue string, lay forgotten on the ground beside her.

The ground was cold, and the sky threatened her with rain. Dully, she thought about moving into one of the tents and finishing the mending there. Everyone else had already retreated inside, wary of the threat of rain. But her legs were already stiff, and somehow, she couldn't convince herself to get up. She just felt so heavy, like the stormy clouds looming over her were weighing her down with the rain they carried like restrained tears. As if she needed more of those; her eyes had been hurting her all evening. Where was the sun, when she needed it most? She closed her eyes to keep them from getting moist, and thought of flowers and sunshine, of that field of wildflowers, of that day when she had brought Ike there, after he had passed out after sparring with…

She refused to think the name; it made it too hard for her to keep the tears back. Desperate to distract herself, before she started thinking about all that again, she opened her eyes and hastily looked back at the shirt she was supposed to be mending. She blinked several times, trying to focus on the rip she was supposed to be sewing together. But when she finally registered whose shirt it was, the tears she'd been holding back all day suddenly overwhelmed her, and she couldn't focus on anything anymore.

Crying was something that Mist wasn't unfamiliar with; she cried a lot, to the point where the others made fun of her for being a crybaby. Even though she'd gotten stronger, and Rolf now cried more than she did, it was still something that naturally overflowed out of her. Crying was usually comforting, she knew; the hollow feeling it left afterward was always better than the pain that had caused it. But with the tears that now flowed down her cheeks came an echo of old pain, not release; the same pain that had stabbed at her and tortured her since the funeral now came back, almost suffocating in its strength. She had thought that her heart had healed a bit by now, from the pain of Greil's death.

But losing the medallion, her last memento of her mother and now her father, ripped open that healing wound, making it burn as painfully as ever. She clutched at Ike's shirt, her grip threatening to make the rip even bigger. She pulled the soft blue material against her face, trying to smother her tears, her memories, and the rising chills of fear in her chest.

The question that always lurked at the edges of her thoughts, the one that usually only came to life in her blackest nightmares, burst and blossomed, seeping throughout her thoughts like poison; what if Ike died, just as suddenly and unexpectedly as Father had? What if the weapon that had made this rip in his tunic had dug into his skin, even just a little deeper? What if Ike hadn't dodged all the other swords and spears aimed at him, and what if he hadn't been able to stop all those trying to kill him?

He would be gone.

And she would be alone.

With the medallion, and Ike gone, what would she do?

Mist shook, and heaved with each sob that was ripped out of her throat. She tried to be as quiet as possible; she didn't want to get caught crying again. But she couldn't hold back the immense wave of terror, and the overflow of tears that it brought with it. She ached, her heart and her chest, like something had exploded and shattered inside her, leaving sharp, cold pieces scattered everywhere. She clutched the blue shirt against her chest and her face, trying to hold her broken self together.

"He's alive," she whispered to herself, into the tunic. "I'm not alone. He promised not to die; he promised."

But no matter how many times she said the words, they just didn't feel real. How could they be, when she felt so alone, even now?

She didn't know how long she stayed like that, huddled on the ground, tears streaking down from her closed eyes into the now damp shirt. When her sobs turned into hiccups, and the river of salty tears slowed to a trickle, a voice beside her spoke.

"Are you done yet?"

Mist jumped, and pulled the tunic out of her face. Boyd sat beside her, blushing and looking at the ground.

"Wha- when did you get here?!" she said, more startled than angry.

"Ju- just a little while ago, I swear! I mean, I just noticed that you weren't at dinner, because it was dinner time, and usually you are! At dinner, I mean!" he stuttered, the red in his cheeks deepening as his tongue tripped over the words shooting out of his mouth. "And I thought I'd just check outside, you know, just to make sure you weren't lost or something stupid like that!" He scratched his head, frowning deeply as his cheeks flushed even redder.

"How long where you watching?" she demanded, not as angry as was embarrassed; of course it was Boyd, who teased her endlessly about everything, just had to be the one to see her like this.

"I just wanted to see if you wanted dinner, I swear Mist, I wasn't trying to-!"

"How long?!"

"…A while."

She glared at him, her eyes beginning to feel watery again. Of all the people to see her at her weakest moment, why did it have to be him?! As much as she cried, she always tried not to cry about her deepest worries in front of others; she hated being pitied. But if she had to pick someone to be with her while she poured out her heart, he'd be the absolute last person on her short list.

"So what, are you going to make fun of me now?" she asked as she turned her head away from him, trying to hide her sniffling.

"What?! No, of course not!"

"Well then, if you have nothing to do, why don't you just go away, and leave me alone?!"

She refused to let him see her face, and proceeded to ignore him by glaring at a tent and wiping at the occasional tears that still lingered in the corners of her eyes. But no matter how long she waited, he still wouldn't leave.

"Mist," he finally said hesitantly, "I… You… Argh, I'm so bad at this!" He muttered angrily to himself. She continued to glare at the tent, trying to burn it down just by staring at it.

"Mist, you… oh for Ashera's sake, would you at least look at me?! This is hard enough!" Suddenly, he grabbed her face in his hands, and forced her to turn and face him. Shocked by the sudden contact (and the sudden realization that Boyd was probably as strong as he always boasted to be), she didn't resist. And once she caught a glimpse of his eyes, she couldn't resist.

His green eyes were serious for once, the usual spark of laughter nowhere to be seen. Mist had never noticed before how deep they were, for lack of a better way to describe them. It felt like she was standing at the edge of a great forest, an ancient and quiet forest. Worse, she felt strangely drawn into them, and no matter how much she wanted to, she couldn't look away. Only the words he spoke, quiet and steady, were able to break through their spell.

"Mist, you're not alone. As long as I'm around, you'll never be alone. So don't worry, okay? We'll find that medallion. I'll find it for you, if it's the last thing I do, okay? Don't cry by yourself like this anymore. Promise me, alright?" His face flushed red again, but his gaze never wavered.

"Okay," Mist whispered, feeling the words getting drawn out of her. "I promise."

He smiled, and his eyes suddenly became the eyes that she had always known, twinkling with laughter and confidence as usual.

"Good! Now, don't ever make me say anything like that ever again! That was way too embarrassing!"

"Boyd!" she yelled, punching him the arm and trying to hide the sound of her suddenly rapid heartbeat.

"Ow, that hurt!" he complained. Suddenly, his face lit up, and his lips curled up into a sly grin. Without a warning, he grabbed her in a tight, warm hug.

"What are you doing?!" she complained, trying to push against his big chest. "Let go!"

"No," he said simply, his voice sounding serious again. She blushed furiously, and was glad he couldn't see her face. She was also secretly glad he wasn't letting go of her; his arms was warm and strong, and she suddenly realized that only he was probably the only one strong enough to hold her together like this. She didn't have to clutch at the tunic anymore; unconsciously and slowly, the hand that still held the abused blue shirt loosened.

"I'll always be with you," Boyd murmured suddenly, making Mist's heart beat even faster. "I'll be here."

"Always."