Freakyanimegal: Hi! n.n And welcome to our collab! :D This was an idea I tossed around a bit before 'Growth Spurt', but didn't make it until I teamed up with Symphoniafan n.n
Symphoniafan: Greetings everyone! Well, what can I say, we talked about it, the idea was intriguing and she said, "Hey, let's do a collab." I just couldn't resist. :D In any case we hope you enjoy it!
'Rip Van Symphonia'
Disclaimer: We own nothing.
Really, they weren't sure what happened.
One minute they had been trying to make a pact with Gnome, they had been at the altar where they would go about enlisting the spirit's power to their cause, and the next…nothing. Well, it wasn't nothing, so much, it was in fact a rather large something, but they didn't quite note it. Raine was the first to stir, her eyelids unnaturally heavy as she pulled herself up off the ground, holding her head in one hand. Apparently, she had been unconscious; but why she had been in the middle of the cavern sent up a red flag in her head, the woman frowning deeply. She swept her eyes around the cave she found herself in, seeing the still forms of the members of her group- Then noticed something was blazingly wrong. Genis was sprawled out beside her, and the woman's eyes widened dangerously. She quickly whipped off her brown outer-cloak and laid it over the silver-haired male, blushing furiously although she could not remove her eyes from her brother's exposed head. Raine began to shake violently as she looked down at the young man that was clearly her younger sibling. Why it was her brother was suddenly roughly twenty years old in appearance, she wasn't sure, but she knew him at sight. That and the fact he was still wearing the blue clothing which was far too small, calling for her to cover him with her cloak.
"What…? What is this…?" she whispered, shaking a bit.
She looked around frantically, her eyes sweeping over the rest of the unmoving group. Her suspicions were confirmed as she spotted a pink-haired woman also in serious need of covering, and she quickly took a blanket from her wingpack and laid it over her indecently clad body.
"Presea…" Raine whispered, staring at the young woman.
She looked around again. The other members of the group had changed as well, though none as drastically as Genis and Presea. All of them appeared dirty, their clothing worn, covered with dust, and their hair had all gotten longer and scraggly, from what she assumed was neglect. Regal had streaks of gray in his blue hair, Sheena appeared to have simply aged further, Colette's baggy clothing now actually fit on a slightly taller and noticeably more womanly frame.
"…Hm…" she frowned.
Zelos, however, looked exactly the same. Strange…then, she didn't look any different, did she? But that was to be expected, if whatever had happened ended up with them aged further, she was a half-elf and thus would not age much for several centuries at this point in her life. But Zelos was human, he should've…
Wait. Where was Lloyd?
She looked around and spotted the last member of the group sprawled out the furthest from the rest of them, laying face down in the ground. Raine walked over to him, somewhat uneasy about getting a good look at him. His suspenders had snapped and his red jacket had ripped in several places, having become too small for him as Genis and Presea's clothing had. He'd gotten significantly taller, she noted, and his body had gotten broader over all, particularly in the shoulders. Though she couldn't see his face under the long brown bangs that fell before his eyes, she needn't see his face to tell her anything. Yes, everyone, then. She bit her lip and drew back, looking around at the group one more time. What had happened? Apparently they had been asleep…could they…could they have really been asleep for- for however many years would have gotten them all to this level? She flinched at the thought, the complications of the situation far more evident than just what she was seeing. Years. They'd have to have been like this for years; Genis had to be at least twenty… Eight years? Something akin to that?
Raine shook her head as realization hit and then her eyes flickered to the group again. It didn't seem possible; yet, proof was right before her eyes. She stared at her brother's visibly older face.
She covered her own face and took a deep breath, knowing she had to remain levelheaded. She looked up and looked over her comrades. She would have to wake them, but knew that it would result in panic and confusion, which was not needed at the moment. Lloyd, Sheena and Genis were out of the question to wake first, as they tended to overreact. She glanced over at Colette; the young girl's face now that of a woman's and she sighed, making her way over to her to kneel beside her.
"Colette?" she gently shook the 'girl's' shoulder. "Wake up, Colette."
The Chosen's eyes fluttered heavily before they opened slowly. "Professor? Oh no, did I sleep in?"
Raine shook her head. "Colette, I don't want you to panic when you get up, alright?"
Colette blinked in confusion and started to push herself up. "Um...okay."
Giving her a hand, Raine helped Colette to her feet, steadying her. Colette rubbed her eyes and then looked around. "Oh. Why is everyone asleep still?" She blinked and looked at Raine. "Oh no, did I pass out when we were fighting Gnome? I am sorry—"
"No, Colette." Raine held back a sigh. How was she going to say this? "Take a closer look and tell me what you see."
Colette slowly turned her head back and looked at the others. Raine watched as Colette's eyes widened after a moment. "Um...Professor Raine? Why does Genis look..." she paused, then continued, "...Different?"
"I think we have been lying here for a long time, Colette." Raine said. "Gnome must have done something to us during the battle."
Colette tilted her head in confusion and then looked down at herself. "So, we are older?"
Raine nodded. "I believe so," She rubbed her head. "Come, let's wake up Presea."
They made their way over to her, Colette hanging back, her eyes wide as she saw Presea while Raine knelt beside the pink-haired female. Raine couldn't help but stare at Presea's face as well; she had lost her childish features and looked remarkably older. The difference was much more noticeable than Colette, though both girls no longer looked like children anymore and it unnerved Raine a little.
The young woman opened her eyes and met Raine's gaze. "Raine? Is something wrong...?" her voice trailed as she went to move and she froze. Raine looked on sympathetically as Presea frowned and glanced at the blanket covering her.
Raine took a deep breath again. "Try not to be alarmed, but we have encountered a...problem." She frowned. Without knowing the real circumstances, she was having difficulty trying to explain what had exactly happened.
Presea's mouth opened, but then she closed it. Slowly, she lifted the blanket, hiding her head from view for a moment, before she lowered the blanket again and looked at Raine. "Would I be able to keep...?"
Raine nodded quickly. "Of course."
"Thank you." Presea answered, wrapping the blanket around herself tightly and glanced at Colette, taking in her new appearance as well. She turned back to Raine. "Do you know why this happened?"
Raine shook her head and went to answer when Colette cut in.
"Why does she need the blanket?" she asked, tilting her head.
Both Raine and Presea turned slowly and looked at Colette, who just stared at them curiously.
At that moment, someone behind them began to stir.
"Ooooww….goddess, my head…"
Zelos pushed himself off the ground, rubbing his red-hair on the back of his head. The man groaned a bit as he got into a sitting position and then looked up, spotting the three women. Slowly one eyebrow arched as his eyes skimmed over Colette and Presea, just as slowly opening his mouth to speak.
"Uh…Am I dreaming?" he asked slowly.
"Zelos looks the same," Presea noted simply.
"Yeah…he doesn't look older at all!" Colette blinked, tilting her head to the side.
"Little angel, is that you?" Zelos stared, his eyes going wide. "Rosebud too?"
"Zelos, please try to stay calm," Raine said, "As you can see, something rather…inconvenient, has happened to us. Apparently we've either all aged rapidly, or we've been asleep for a long, long time…"
"S- Seriously? So those are-? Wait a second!" Zelos gasped, looking around in a frenzy, noting all the others and their either minor or major changes. "You- You're not kidding! Holy sh-!"
He stopped suddenly, his eyes bugging out of his head.
"Aw hell, you mean I'm old too!?" he gasped, clutching his face. "No! My beautiful face! My youth! And-"
He felt his scraggly, dirty hair.
"And my hair! Oh man! My hunnies must weeping!" he cried, sobbing dramatically.
"Actually, you look very much the same," Presea frowned.
"Don't try to cheer me up-!"
"No, Zelos, really, you do," Colette nodded.
Zelos raised an eyebrow and then scrambled into his wing-pack, pulling out something that made Raine scoff. Though, they shouldn't have been too surprised; being the narcissist he was, of course he would carry a mirror with him. The man looked into it and jolted his eyes wide and blinking.
"…Huh," he said, "I…do look the same. Well, that's kind of strange…"
What was he supposed to say? 'Actually, ladies, I'm kinda an angel too, been working for Cruxis for a while, hah hah! Joke's on you!' Sure, he wasn't immortal like Yuan, but angels did stop aging at a certain point, and judging by Colette, it was probably somewhere in the twenties.
"Wait, may I see that?" Presea asked, eying the mirror.
"Huh-? Well, sure, hunny," he smiled, then winked, "Though you look good, just to give you a heads up."
Presea looked into the glass and her eyes widened, slowly tilting her head to the side as she examined her face. After staring dumbly at her own reflection she passed it to Colette, who did much the same thing. However, Raine's attention was on Zelos…
"Why are you looking at me like that, my beauty?" he frowned.
"You don't look different," she repeated.
"Yeah, well neither do you," he huffed, "So why are you looking at me funny?"
"I'm a half-elf, I'm not going to age for a while," she stated, "You're human, you should look a little older, at least."
"Maybe I just age well," he shrugged.
Raine merely gave him a skeptical glare before the red-head looked around and noted Sheena stirring.
"Hey, my voluptuous hunny's waking up," he pointed, "Should um…someone go and try to calm her down before she freaks out, or what-?"
"You three stay over here," Raine said, "I look the same so it shouldn't scare her as much-"
"Well, then, I can talk to her too-!" Zelos scoffed.
"Zelos, you being you alone is enough to make her freak out if she just wakes up," Raine scoffed.
"Indeed," Presea noted.
"Huh?" Colette blinked.
"Hey! I- I wouldn't do something like that!"
Sheena was up within a few minutes, and it took a substantial amount of willpower to keep the woman calm. Raine's estimate that it had been roughly eight years was supported, seeing as Sheena appeared to be in her mid-to-late-twenties. That, and it was long enough for Regal to start developing gray hair, either that or Regal did not age well in general…
It didn't matter, though, they still brought it up.
"Do we not have more important things to worry about than my hair?" the man asked grudgingly, looking away after Zelos had laughed at the elder male.
"Sure, you've got crow's feet too!" he laughed.
"No he doesn't…his feet look normal," Colette frowned.
They all stared at her.
"Yeah, well, whatever," Zelos rolled his eyes, "What about the brat and my bud?"
"I wanted to save them for last, since they're most likely to…freak out," Raine sighed.
"No kidding, I'm trying not to freak out! Look at us! Come on!" Sheena cried.
"Well, you still look ravishing to me, darling," Zelos winked.
They ignored him when he was smacked. The group got into another bout of rapid discussion/freaking-out, so they didn't pay attention to the fact Genis had just opened his eyes….
"Ugh...my head. Feels like someone kic—" Genis stopped, having opened his eyes. He was staring directly at the three women, all of which were staring back at him, heads tilted to the side.
"Genis?" Raine called and he looked at her, then at Colette and then Presea.
"Uh..." his mouth opened a little, eyes darting from one woman to the next. "What's going on? Who's-?" he stopped and his widened as he stared at Presea. "Is that Presea?" he asked in disbelief, a faint blush coloring his cheeks when Raine nodded slowly.
"Yes, Genis." She said after a moment.
Genis continued to stare at her, but then he frowned. "Why is she—?" he turned and then stopped when he saw Colette and the blond smiled and waved at him.
His expression went blank and his face pale. He went to move, but stopped, eyes widening as there was a ripping sound.
Raine started for him. "Genis, try to keep calm—" He ignored her and his hands flew down and lifted the cloak that was covering him, much like Presea had and then slammed it back down. "Genis—" Raine tried again, stepping towards him.
He cut her off, shouting. "What is going—?! Why, am I—?! Ow!" he grabbed his head as Raine cuffed him, his shirt ripping again.
"I told you not to panic." Raine admonished him and he glared up at her.
"How am I not supposed to panic? I'm—she's—" he gestured at Presea and then stopped in mid- sentence, putting a hand to his mouth as he noted the tenor tone coming out of it. "My voice sounds different..." he looked up as Raine knelt beside him. "What the hell happened?!"
Raine allowed the mild swear to pass and spoke to him calmly as she explained what happened, though it frightened her to meet her brother's eyes. It was like staring at a stranger. His face was much narrower; with a more pronounced brow and cheekbones, akin to that of various elder half-elf men, such as Yuan or maybe Forcystus. His hair was much longer, though it was matted and tangled like the others'. He had developed broader shoulders as well and she could tell he had grown much taller, even though he was still sitting.
Genis remained quiet as he listened, but his face grew paler with every word. "S-s-so we're all...older?" he asked in numbing disbelief. "How is that possible?! I mean—"
"We don't know how it happened exactly, but we have other things to concern ourselves with at the moment."
Genis' mouth fell open. "What could be more important than this?!"
"Um...perhaps finding you and the rosebud some clothes?" Genis snapped his head around and found Zelos smirking at him.
Sheena scowled at him. "Does that mean you are offering?"
Genis blinked, clutching the cloak tighter. "I'm not wearing his clothes."
Raine sighed. "They wouldn't fit you either way." She frowned and then turned around. "Colette, do you have an extra outfit that Presea could borrow?"
Colette thought for a moment. "I think so."
Raine nodded. "Good, can you bring it out for her?"
"What about me?" Genis ducked his head, scowling in embarrassment.
"Perhaps Lloyd's clothes would suffice for the moment." Regal offered, glancing at the still sleeping swordsman. "I would think they would fit your new height."
Genis gave Regal a horrified look as Zelos laughed. "Hey, not a bad idea, Old Man, gray hair doesn't seem to have affected your intellect yet."
Regal turned his head to the side, clearing his throat as Sheena punched Zelos. Raine nodded. "I think that is a good idea. You would be roughly his height now. Sheena, go get his extra set."
Genis opened his mouth to argue, but Raine cut him off. "Genis, this is no time to be picky, both Regal's and Zelos' clothes wouldn't fit you and you can't remain in your own."
"But-but—" Genis stammered as Sheena returned holding the clothes. "Fine," he grumbled as Raine frowned at him. Clutching the cloak around him, he grabbed the clothes and wandered away just as Presea disappeared behind a large boulder to change as well.
The rest of them waited, listening to Genis' grumbling. Presea came out shortly, her matted hair hanging down her back in a single loose ponytail, her pigtails gone. She was walking awkwardly, as if she was unsure of her balance. Either she didn't seem to notice, or just didn't acknowledge the strange looks that came across the others faces as she approached. "It is suitable."
"Wow, Presea! You look so pretty with your long hair." Colette smiled brightly. "And the clothes look nice on you too!"
All eyes shifted to Colette and Presea didn't seem to know how to respond to that. Fortunately, Zelos noticed Genis appearing from the rock. "I don't know if that is funny or sad."
Genis glowered as he walked towards them. The bright red color from the boots and jacket made his silver hair stand out drastically and the clothes still seemed just a bit big on him, since he was still short for a grown man, though he was taller than Presea. Gripping the suspenders in one hand and holding the pants up with the other he walked forward, scowling. "Does anyone have a belt?"
"Isn't that what the suspenders are for?" Sheena asked, covering her mouth with her hand, hiding her smile.
"I am not wearing these!" Genis shook the straps in annoyance.
"Well at least the kid has some fashion sense." Zelos shrugged, grinning.
Raine sighed, "Really, Genis it is only temporary and you aren't walking around holding your pants up like that."
Genis scowled, staring distastefully at the suspenders. "I am going to look like an idiot."
"I think you will look fine, Genis," Presea said quietly, causing him to look up. His face flushed as he took in her new appearance and body, which, like Colette's, fit the outfit snugly.
His mind went blank and all he could do was stare at her. Even his usually stammering responses couldn't make it up past his throat as a blush flooded his cheeks.
Zelos grinned and nudged Genis. "I know, eh? Just can't take your eyes off her."
Sheena glared at him and Genis' ears burned in embarrassment. "N-n-no! It's not like that! Shouldn't we be waking up, Lloyd now or something?" he busied himself trying to put the suspenders on, while the others smiled slightly at his embarrassment before discussing how to go about waking Lloyd. After all, being Lloyd, if they simply approached him the way they did everyone else, it could end badly. Thus they threw about ideas, Lloyd grimacing a bit several feet from them...
He heard voices.
Some familiar, some…not as much; still familiar, just…different. One in particular being a man's voice, though for some reason it reminded him a lot of the Sages. With a light flutter his eyes opened, his vision blocked by a curtain of dirty, knotted brown hair. He shook his head in an attempt to clear his vision, pushing himself into a sitting position. As he did so, he thought he heard something rip, but he was far too groggy to pay it much attention. He sat on the ground and brushed his bangs out of his face, yawning a bit as he looked up-
And then was suddenly wide awake.
They didn't notice him, as involved as they were in their conversation, but he took a good long look at all of them. Raine and Zelos were identifiable immediately, Regal, Sheena and Colette not seconds after that, though his eyes widened drastically as he noted their appearances. As for the silver-haired man wearing his clothes and the pinkette wearing Colette's, his first reaction was to wonder who they were before he realized- with horrifying clarity- that he did know who they were.
"What the-?" he started.
He froze in mid-word, not sure he heard himself right.
"…What's going on-?"
He slammed his hand over his mouth, now sure of what he had heard. His voice was…different; not that that was a bad thing, really, that it was deeper…but what startled him was it sounded awfully familiar. Very familiar,, but he couldn't quite place his finger on it...
"I'm telling you, if you wake him up it'll only serve to-" Raine stated.
It was then that she looked back at Lloyd, noting that the swordsman was quite awake, and staring dumbly at them as he covered his mouth with his hand. The group turned to look, all of them falling silent. Mainly because the brown-haired man before them that was their ignoble leader looked very, very much like a certain Seraph that had troubled them in the past. After they stared at him and vice versa, Colette shook her head, walking forward.
"Um…Lloyd?" she said slowly, frowning a bit. "I…are you all right?"
Lloyd said nothing, but replied with a shaky nod.
"Uh, yes, well… You must be very startled," Raine coughed into her hand, "Please, try to keep yourself calm while I explain what's happened- or at least, what we think has happened."
She ignored how strange it was to see that face with that expression, watching as Lloyd slowly nodded, still shaking a bit as his hand covered his mouth. With a start he realized something, looking down at himself. He almost swore but fought back the sound of his own voice, unwilling to hear anything came out of his mouth that sounded like…that.
"To sum it up, we've either all have been asleep a long time or we have aged rapidly, though it's probably the first one, judging how we're all rather…well, dirty," she sighed, noting her worn pants, "As you noticed…some of us are quite a bit different."
Both she and Lloyd directed their gazes to Genis, who flushed and looked away, rubbing the back of his neck. The brunette immediately looked back at Raine, his eyes wide.
"Um…Lloyd? Are you…okay?" Colette asked slowly, frowning. "Why are you covering your mouth like that?"
He shook his head, shrugging a bit, but not taking his hand off his mouth.
"Did you hurt yourself?" she frowned, kneeling down a bit to look at him.
Lloyd hastily stood up- or at least, he tried to, but he found that his sudden height was not as easy to adapt to balance-wise as he had thought. He stumbled a bit and Colette quickly stood beside him, allowing him to lean on her as he tried to righten himself. Still a little shakily, he managed to stand his full height, his mouth dropping a little when he did so. Their reckless leader had reached a height of roughly six foot five, and all present stared up at him as the brunette himself stared finding that he had to do so looking down. He blushed vibrantly and looked away, swallowing nervously.
"H…Holy sh- I thought he was pretty much done growing! What the hell! And just when I thought I'd be around his height…" Genis muttered in his new voice, glaring up at his friend.
"He did get rather tall, didn't he?" Raine paled slightly, looking up at him.
"Can you walk okay, Lloyd?" Colette asked with a frown.
He almost said something but instead just nodded, attempting to walk away from her only to nearly fall over again.
"Lloyd, are you sure you're all right? You haven't…freaked out," Sheena frowned, "I mean, I did, and I didn't change as much as you have…"
He shook his head violently, then nodded, apparently trying to convey that he was fine.
"Why won't you talk, Bud?" Zelos raised an eyebrow. "Somethin' wrong with your voice?"
"Oh no! You didn't lose your voice, did you?" Colette exclaimed, her eyes going wide.
"How could he have lost his voice?" Genis frowned. "There's no reason for him to, we all kept ours and all….well, sort of."
"Er…well, yes, I guess you're right," she frowned, "it's just…"
Lloyd took her hand, beginning to write in her palm. Colette seemed confused a moment before she realized what he was doing, reading what he wrote.
"I'm…fine…" she read, "I…just…don't want to…talk… Huh? Why, Lloyd?"
Lloyd bit his lip and continued to write, the blond frowning a bit.
"I…don't want to…tell- wait, no…I'll…tell…you later?" Colette rose an eyebrow, looking up at the brown-haired man that had taken place of her teenage friend.
Lloyd nodded, and then turned away from her, trying to affirm that that was that.
"O…okay…?" Genis raised an eyebrow.
"Well…at any rate, now that we're all up, we should probably get out of here," Raine said, looking around, "We're not going to get any answers by standing around here."
"Yes," Presea nodded, "That and…well…I…"
A loud growling sound interrupted her as Genis blushed and rubbed his head, glancing aside as his cheeks flushed a light red.
"I um…I'm kinda hungry," he mumbled.
"I am as well," Presea frowned.
"I think we kind of all are," Sheena sighed, rubbing the back of her head, "I guess…we haven't eaten in a while."
"All right then," Raine sighed, "Let's get to Meltokio-…assuming Meltokio is still there, of course-"
"W- What?! Why wouldn't it be-?!" Zelos stammered, his eyes wide.
"We don't know what's happened, Zelos," Raine said, "We need to be prepared for the worst, who knows what could've gone on in the time we've been…here."
"Well, assuming it is there, what are we going to do once we get in?" Sheena huffed. "We're all filthy, no inn will take us…"
"We can just got to my mansion-" Zelos started.
"Zelos, think, what if it doesn't belong to you anymore?" Raine said. "People may think you're dead, if we have been 'gone' as long as we think we have."
"D…Dead?" Zelos' eyes widened.
"Wait…so…" Colette bit her lip, frowning deeply, "Everyone might think we're…dead?"
An uneasy silence fell over the group, Lloyd breaking it when he wrote in Colette's hand again, drawing all of their attention.
"Worry…later….let's get…out of….here….first…" Colette read, then nodded, "Yes, Lloyd's right, we should just get somewhere safe for now."
"We'll think of what to do for lodging when we get there," Raine sighed, rubbing her temple, "until then…let's get a move on."
So they headed off, some of the now-taller members having to lean on someone else a bit as they adjusted to their new balances, they managed to get out of the cavern fine enough-
Except Lloyd, his gaze on the ground and unadjusted to his new height, bashed his head on the archway. He almost swore but fought it back, instead bringing his hand to his head and gritting his teeth.
"Oh! Lloyd, are you okay?!" Colette asked, startled.
He barely managed to nod, hissing a bit under his breath.
Raine had a feeling this whole situation would be a headache.
Freaky: And thus the torture- I mean, 'fun' begins X3
Symphoniafan: You can say that again. XD