Disclaimer: Quite unfortunately, I don't own any rights to Tales of the Abyss. I wish I did - believe me, I wish I did, because if I did then Guy would be in Tales of VS. - but sadly, I don't.

Authors' Note: This was written for a friend based on a prompt she gave me: Whether do to a cough or cold or what, Tear loses her voice. This happens in Keterburg or preferably somewhere winter. Well, that wasn't the exact wording of the prompt, but close enough.

Out of the several prompts she gave me, this was the one that turned out the best, so I figured I'd go ahead and post it. :) If you read, please review!

A Little Cold

Tear was sick.

It wasn't serious, like it had been when the miasma was poisoning her, and it had happened gradually, but she was sick nonetheless. At first, it started as just a cough, and morphed into something permanently stuck in her throat. She had to clear it a lot, especially before singing the Fonic Hymns, and even then sometimes she hit a wrong note that caused the hymn to fail. It gradually grew to the point where she couldn't sing the hymns at all, and tried not to speak if she could help it; whenever she did, her voice sounded raspy and cracked at odd places, and when Tear couldn't hear her, Anise cracked snide remarks about Tear sounding like a boy going through puberty.

Natalia, if she overheard such remarks, usually smacked Anise on the back of the head.

Nonetheless, if Tear couldn't sing the Fonic Hymns, then her usefulness in battle was severely limited. When this was brought up by Jade, Luke railed against him, arguing that Tear was always useful and it was extremely dickish to say something like that (Jade had remarked that he hadn't known that "dickish" was a word, angering Luke further). It took both Tear and Guy to pull Luke back, Guy saying that Jade hadn't meant to be cruel by saying it and Tear saying that the Colonel was right, regardless. "My voice is what I use to cast spells, Luke," Tear told him seriously - or as seriously as she could, anyway, given that she could hardly speak without squeaking. "If I can't sing, then I can't fight." Luke gave in rather reluctantly after that, but he still shot Jade mutinous glares for the remainder of the day.

Keterburg was closest, so they decided to stop off there for a few days to allow Tear to rest (well, that, and Guy told Luke that he'd found out that Nephry's birthday was coming up, so it was likely that Jade wanted to stop by to see her anyway, even if he'd never say so out loud). Luke admitted to himself that he didn't mind this too much, since he loved the snow even if it tended to make his stomach cold if he didn't cover up properly, and it seemed as if the others weren't too fussed, either; Jade was off visiting Nephry, Anise was rallying the local children into a snowball fight since Jade was otherwise occupied, Natalia was admiring the snow sculptures and Guy said vaguely that he had something to do and wandered off (Luke was curious about that, but resolved to worm it out of Guy later rather than sooner). The only one who seemed miserable was Tear, and she had every right to be; holed up in the hotel, she had no way to enjoy the snow or the pleasant atmosphere of Keterburg, and she was sick to boot.

As far as Luke was concerned, this would not do.

It wasn't that he wasn't used to seeing Tear frown - she'd done nothing but frown and glare at him when they'd first met, after all, and even now she tended to be more serious than happy most of the time - but it was that he just didn't like to see her frown. He couldn't really put it into words, but for whatever reason, seeing her unhappy made him unhappy. Besides, Luke decided, he just liked to see her smile. Tear's smiles were rare, but that was part of what made them so good; he wanted to see her smile way more than he wanted to see her frown.

Thus, since everyone else was otherwise occupied and Tear was miserable, Luke decided to put his plan into action.

It was time to cheer up Tear Grants by whatever means necessary.

The first attempt Luke made could barely be classified as an attempt since he didn't really get a chance to do anything before he got thrown out. So excited was he to cheer her up that Luke forgot to knock before entering her room, and thus was greeted with Tear mid-way though changing clothes, her ample chest fully exposed before she quickly crossed her arms across it, her cheeks turning the color of his hair.

"Luke!" she shrieked, her voice cracking spectacularly on the one syllable. "What are you - get out of here!"

Luke had been momentarily stunned by the image of Tear's bare cleavage - because after all, it was an impressive sight, given the size of her breasts - but her words snapped him back to focus, and Luke found that his own face was suddenly on fire. "Sorry!" he blurted, spinning and slamming the door behind him. Luke heard it lock seconds after he closed it and he put his back to the wall, breathing hard, hot all over.

He decided that it would probably be a good time for a shower - preferably a cold one, despite the freezing temperatures outside.

Luke's second attempt didn't go much better, but mostly because it wasn't so much an attempt to cheer her up as it was an attempt to make nice after the mistake earlier. This time he remembered to knock, but when she opened the door and saw that he made a card that read 'sorry I walked in on you changing, but just so you know, I happen to like the size of your melons so you don't need to be embarrassed' she glared at him and slammed the door in his face.

Luke could have been wrong, but he didn't think she accepted the apology (and honestly thought that it was a bit unreasonable of her not to, especially since he'd spent a lot of time on the watermelons he'd drawn on the front of the card).

Luke's third attempt started out okay, mostly because he decided to pretend as if the first and second attempts never really happened. He waited a couple hours after the second attempt before knocking again, and this time, in the face of Tear's unimpressed glare, Luke cleared his throat and said, "Hey, can I come in?"

Tear looked like she was going to say no, but stepped aside at the last moment for him to come in anyway. Her acceptance made Luke's heart soar, which seemed like a good thing at the time, but soon proved to lead to false confidence and bad consequences. Once Tear had shut the room, Luke started speaking again, sparing Tear the effort.

"Hey, so, I was just thinking - you know how you can't sing because of your cold? Well, that's pretty stupid of me to say, of course you know that." Luke grinned a bit sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck as Tear's gaze became just a bit cooler. "Well, I was just thinking that even if you can't sing, maybe I could. You could teach me the Fonic Hymns and I could sing them to you."

Tear blinked, surprise flickering across her face only to be replaced by apprehension a moment later. "Luke," she rasped, "I don't think -"

"I already know some of the words!" Luke interrupted, and then cleared his throat, doing his best to imitate Tear's melodic singing. "Tre zui . . . Uh . . . Fu tre zui . . . Quatro cinco ses la la la la . . ."

Tear closed her eyes and took a deep breath before speaking. "Luke, those aren't the words," she said. "And you aren't anywhere near the notes you're supposed to be hitting. I'm also not sure what tune that's supposed to be, but it isn't any hymn I've ever heard of."

Luke scowled. "Hey, I'm trying! Here, how's this: kono . . . something, something . . . Ala ko me, saru, saru, te, wata she wa chicken ga dai ski dess ne -"

"Luke," Tear interrupted sharply, opening her door. "I think it would be better if you just left."

Luke was going to argue - because he thought that he didn't sound half-bad - but the look of pained frustration on Tear's face was enough for him to sigh and nod, trudging out of her room.

The third attempt was definitely a failure, but what made the snap of the door hurt worse was that it had started off so well . . .

Luke's fourth attempt would have worked, he was sure, if he'd had the chance to pull it off. He'd decided that since it was Tear's voice that was out, that had to do with her throat, and what better solution was there for a hurt throat than hot chocolate? (Well, perhaps hot wasn't the best for a hurt throat, but hot chocolate tasted good and it usually made him feel better.) Thus, Luke made some especially for her, and attempted to take it to her room.

He attempted three times.

The first attempt was thwarted by Anise, who saw him walking with the hot chocolate and instantly ran up to him, thanking him profusely for making it for her and saying how she would just love to be his Duchess if he made her hot chocolate all the time. Luke told her that no, it wasn't for her, but Anise talked right over him and made such a nuisance out of herself that he gave it to her just to get her to shut up. Anise blew him a kiss and skipped away merrily, sipping at her drink as she went.

The second attempt was thwarted by Mieu, who somehow got himself catapulted halfway across Keterburg and decided that Luke's head was an appropriate landing place. This caused Luke to spill half of the hot chocolate on himself, staining the front of his coat and burning his stomach. Not only was that cup of hot cocoa ruined, but Luke had already been annoyed by Anise; Mieu was punted back across Keterburg as punishment, with Luke swearing that if the Thing got in his way one more time, it could just stay in Keterburg for the remainder of their journey.

The third attempt was thwarted by Natalia, the one who was also the reason there were no subsequent attempts. As it turned out, Natalia had fantastic timing, and so she rounded a corner at the exact same time Luke did, causing them to bump into each other and the hot cocoa to go all over her. While Luke was relieved that he didn't have any more spilled on him, Natalia was livid that it was spilled on her, and the fight that he got into with her over it took up the better part of an hour. After he was finished rowing with Natalia, Luke decided that hot cocoa probably wouldn't cheer Tear up that much anyway.

At least, it really wasn't worth the effort.

Luke was just about at the end of his rope when one final idea occurred to him, and he decided that it was time for a fifth and final attempt at making Tear smile.

The fifth plan took longer to put into fruition, and so it wasn't until a few hours later that he finally returned to Tear's room, knocking smartly on her door. Tear answered just as promptly as she always did, and sighed in exasperation when she saw him. Luke frowned.

"Don't look too excited to see me. You might have a heart attack."

"What is it, Luke?" Tear asked, her eyebrows knitting together at his sarcasm. Luke brushed it off; this sort of behavior was expected of Tear by this point, especially after all of his failed attempts from earlier.

"I want to show you something," he told her. "Can you come outside for a sec?"

Tear hesitated. "I should be resting," she said, and Luke rolled his eyes.

"Come on, rest is obviously not doing you much good. You sound even more horrible than you did before." Tear glared at him, and Luke hastily continued. "Besides, it'll only be for a second. Please? I worked really hard on it."

Tear still looked apprehensive, but Luke made his eyes as big and pleading as he could, trying to use the same look that he always gave Guy to make Guy give into his demands. Finally, Tear sighed and nodded. "But only for a little bit," she said severely. "Then I'm coming back inside."

Luke grinned. "Great! Come on, then!" Luke reached for her hand, but Tear pulled away, rolling her eyes.

"Mind if I put my coat and shoes on first?"

"Oh." Luke's grin changed from excited to sheepish. "Right. Sorry." It was fleeting, but Luke could have sworn he saw Tear smile just a little bit.

"It's all right. Wait here."

Tear came out a few minutes later dressed in full winter gear, and without really thinking about it, Luke grabbed her hand to pull her out toward the front doors of the Keterburg Hotel. His surprise for Tear wasn't too far away from the hotel, and so it only took a few seconds for her to see it, slowing to a stop despite the fact that he was still tugging her along.

"Luke . . . What . . ."

"Like it?" Luke asked, gesturing to his creation as he turned to Tear with a grin. "I call it a SnowVan. It's like one of those stupid snowmen, except better because it's Master Van."

Truth be told, it didn't look a whole lot like Van. In fact, it rather looked like an ordinary snowman, except it had large, down-pointed sticks for eyebrows to make its smile more of a smirk, and Luke had stuck a rather fat, flat piece of wood on its chin to represent Van's beard. The balls of snow that Luke had rolled together to make the SnowVan weren't very evenly proportioned either, and the SnowVan's arms were different lengths. Still, considering he'd never even made a regular snowman before, Luke felt rather proud of his creation, and he also felt like Tear would appreciate the work he put into recreating her brother in snow form - especially since he'd remembered to add the beard.

When he turned to look at Tear, however, he didn't see any happiness in her expression at all.

"Tear?" Luke asked, turning fully to face her. Her hand was in front of her mouth, and her eyes were closed, and her shoulders were shaking. Suddenly, he realized that she was probably crying, and his expression changed to one of horror. "Hey, Tear, I'm sorry. I'll kick it down if you want. I just thought - well, I thought that maybe this would cheer you up somehow, although I guess now I see that reminding you of Master Van probably wouldn't cheer you up at all. I'm sorry, it was really stupid of me -"

"Luke, you idiot! Don't apologize." Tear opened her eyes, and Luke saw that while they were wet, the squeaking sounds she was making due to her cold weren't sobs - instead, she was laughing. As her laughter subsided, Tear smiled at him - really smiled, and Luke felt like a Cheagle had set up a trampoline in his stomach and was jumping on it - wrapping her arms loosely around her stomach. "It's . . . Well, it's actually rather ugly, but in a good way."

"How can something be ugly in a good way?" Luke asked, and while he felt like he should have been offended, he found that he really couldn't be - not when Tear was looking at him like that, anyway.

"If you don't know, I won't bother explaining it to you," Tear said loftily, walking around him to get closer to the SnowVan. Luke stuck his tongue out at her.

"Fine. I don't want to know, anyway."

Tear laughed her squeaky laugh again, and then turned to face him quickly, her long hair whipping around her. "Luke, would you like to try to make another special snowman with me?"

Luke was about to remind her that she herself had said that she had to go inside shortly after coming out to rest up, but thought better of it at the last second. If he said that, after all, she really would go inside, and if Luke was honest with himself, that was the last thing he wanted. He grinned deviously. "Definitely. Let's make a SnowJade!"

As he and Tear began rolling up a large snowball for the base together, Luke decided that the old saying was completely inaccurate. The third time was in no way "the charm;" that honor definitely belonged to the fifth time.