Pre-game one-shot featuring Sheena and Corrine. Set quite a while before the game.

Spoiler warning: slight spoiler about where Sheena comes from.

Dedication: to my "Lloyd", who randomly threw the idea of Corrine talking to a gargoyle to me which then turned into this plot tribble. :)

Disclaimer: Tales of Symphonia's not mine.

Corrine crouched in a pouncing pose, trying to gather his courage together. He was a summon spirit and a friend to a ninja of Mizuho. He had to learn to be brave.

Swallowing loudly he crawled forward just a little on his belly and lifted his ears.

"I'm not afraid of you," he informed his opponent. He received nothing in reply and, now feeling a little bolder, carried on.

"Just because you have big teeth and, and big claws. I've got sharp teeth and claws too, see," the fox-like creature drew his claws, raised his lips a little to show his teeth and fluffed his fur up a bit for good measure.

"See. You're not so scary," he moved forward a little more.

"Yes I am," a deep sounding voice boomed.

Corrine yelped in surprise, jumping up in the air before running back to the far end of the rooftop. When he'd decided to work on being brave this morning he'd chosen to confront the gargoyle because he hadn't expected it to talk back. Sure he'd heard legends but he hadn't thought that they were true.

"N, n, no you're not," he stammered a little, worrying that, perhaps, he'd bitten off more than he could chew.

"Yes I am. I'm a big scary gargoyle, raaargh," the voice roared.

Corrine paused before answering, realising that there was something familiar about the voice. His suspicion was confirmed when a quiet giggle floated to his ears from the same place that the gargoyle's voice had come from.

"Sheena?" he asked, moving forward again, his head tilted questioningly and his right forepaw raised.

"No, I'm a scary stone monster, grrrrrrrh!" the voice replied, becoming less deep as giggles mixed in with the words.

Sure now of who it was Corrine bounded forward, tails waggling, and leapt down onto Sheena's shoulder.

"You don't do a very good gargoyle impression," he said, smiling, as he nuzzled her cheek.

"I do, I had you fooled for a minute there," Sheena giggled as she jumped down from the window ledge she'd been standing on and began to gently scratch behind Corrine's ears.

"I was just playing along," Corrine said, waggling his tails.

"You're a very good actor then," Sheena laughed.

"Better than you anyways," Corrine teased.

The pair walked through the village quietly for a while until they reached a peaceful spot by the river. It was a spot, Corrine knew, that Sheena was fond of. Somewhere she could go to be alone, to think.

"So, why were you talking to a gargoyle?" Sheena asked after she'd sat down, Corrine settled in her lap.

"Ninja secret," Corrine nodded solemnly.

"You can tell me, I can keep a secret," Sheena smiled softly at him.

"Promise?" he asked, head tilted a little to one side.

"Promise," Sheena nodded.

"I was practicing being brave, because I figure you'll have to do lots of scary stuff as a ninja and I want to be able to help you," Corrine said quietly.

Sheena smiled then grabbed Corrine in a big hug.

"You make me feel brave just by being around," she murmured quietly, her cheek pressed against the fur on his back.

Waggling his tails slightly Corrine reached around to wipe away a small tear from the corner of Sheena's eye with a forepaw. Then he smiled back at her and rubbed his nose against hers, delighted with the sound of her gentle giggles that filled his ears along with the warm feeling he felt inside knowing that he helped her to feel brave.