A/N: Spoilers for FFCC:TCB. Jussayin. Read at your own caution. This is a prologue to the fic, which is a prequel to FFCC:TCB. The prologue takes place directly after the ending of Crystal Bearers, but the fic as an entirety will take place pre-game.

Also, I do not own Layle, Belle, etc., etc.


Layle shifts slightly in his bunk. He's restless this night. Not that there's anything special about this night; it's just one of the many he's spent alone on the cruise liner since his fight with Jegran. He turns onto his back, swinging his sight through the tiny, circular window and allowing his mind to briefly wonder about the whole spiel. He can practically feel the tight grip around his throat, the hands wringing the air out of his lungs. Layle scratches the tiny crystallization on his face out of nervous habit and forces his concentration of thoughts back to the churning ocean just barely in his view.

The waves lick and lap at the bottom of the window, spraying and splattering across its clear surface. Through each of those droplets he can see a reflection of the pitch black sky and the constellations spindled into it. It would've been quite the display if he hadn't already seen it perfectly cut and pasted in the same manner for the past eight nights.

The blond sighs and pushes himself up into a sitting position, shaking his head softly. He casts a glance over to his jacket and goggles which are muddled up in the farthest corner of the cold cabin, then back to the window, absent mindedly fiddling with the ring on his middle finger all the meanwhile.

He'd somehow convinced himself being away from all human contact wouldn't be so bad; that it would allow the blond to sort out his thoughts, figure out where to go from here, et cetera. However, it turned out there were a few problems with his theory.

It turned out most of the thoughts that needed to be sorted out were, in layman's terms, unsortable. Or at least, to someone like Layle, who rarely ever takes the time to think about himself, it seems that way.

Secondly, he isn't really sure where 'here' is. Sure, he's in the middle of the ocean on a high class leisure ship, but where is he in relation to, well, life?

The death of that Yuke, Amedatelion, seems to have affected him tenfold more than he could have ever braced himself for. Now that he thinks about it isn't she—he—whatever, isn't Golden Rod the reason he decided to leave? Even after all that big talk with Althea, telling her that the world changing would be interesting of all things, even after acting so sure of the fact, Layle finds himself running away from the world he, quite potentially, changed.

A bittersweet chuckle falls onto the floor of the cabin as Layle stands himself onto the creaky wood paneling. For a brief moment he considers shrugging on his jacket, but decides only half a moment later that he can't really be bothered. He stretches out his arms and shakes out his legs, his worn down jeans brushing comfortably against the surface of his skin.

The blond checks his pockets momentarily to assure he's in possession of the room key before shutting the cabin door behind him and surveying the area for the stairway up to the deck.

For a high quality ship, the vessel seems to groan and creak a whole lot as the ocean pushes and pulls it. Layle leans over the railing of the ship and stares blankly at the scenery rolling by. He stays this way for a good ten minutes, his mind just about as empty as the expression on his face. The blond likes the way the huge wailing ocean seems to sweep away all his thoughts, turning them into unrecognizable murmurs in his mind.

He's intending to stay that way until the sun rises, and maybe even a little longer after that, but it doesn't seem like the crystal principle wills it to be that way. He doesn't bother to turn as a someone sighs and sits down on the bench behind him.

Layle stays quiet. "Are you here for the fishing," asks the voice of a man. What sort of a question is that? The blond shakes his head. "Are you here for the women?"

Another shake of the head, accompanied with a small snort of amusement.

And for the next few moments, all the blond hears is the wishing and washing of the waves before the voice comes again. "Why are you here, then," he asks.

"I can't seem to figure that out myself," Layle muses after a short while. An aged laugh rises from behind him and trickles into his ears.

"Are you lost?"

Layle finally turns himself around to look at an old Clavat man whose face holds a curt smile. "I guess so," he says.

The man hums and looks at Layle with scrutinizing eyes. "Maybe you should retrace your steps," he suggests.

"I didn't say I lost anything in particular…"

"But haven't you lost your place?"

"Well, I—"

"Just like a material object, anything you lose is in the last place you found it."

"I don't think that's quite the same."

"Don't knock it till you try it."

Layle nods and agrees, though reluctantly, and takes a seat on the bench as well. He half expects the man to leave, but he does no such thing. The gray haired fellow remains right in his spot, staring almost expectantly at the younger.

"Were you wondering about this?" The blond motions to the crystal on his cheek.

"No, I'm wondering why you haven't started remembering yet," the older Clavat chuckles. "I've seen a fair amount of you in my day." He taps his feet on the deck of the boat, and by 'you,' Layle can tell he means crystal bearers. "You're nothing special."

Layle blinks a few times at this. Sure, he's always preached that sort of thing, but have it said directly to himself—it's a little surprising. Regardless, he sinks back into the wooden seat and begins to think.

The minutes tick by slowly, especially considering he doesn't have a watch, and the sound of the boats engine isn't a very good way to tell time.

"Where am I supposed to start?" He asks, looking over at the hunched form beside him.

"The beginning, obviously."

"Well, I mean—"

"The beginning."

Layle shakes his head and sighs. "Alright, then," he mutters to himself. "The beginning it is, then…"

A/N: Reviews give me motivation. Probably. CRITISIZE ME. Also, I'm not entirely sure where I want to go as far as pairings in this fic, there may be mild Layle/Keiss, and maybe a cameo of Belle, but since it's clearly defined that Layle and Belle don't officially meet untill the game, there's no possible way they could have a stable relationship in this fic. The same goes for Althea. Layle/Amedatelion? I don't know. Tell me what you want; I promise no OCs.