Listening to Death and Healing by Wintersun. So hi, been absent for way to long. I recently got a new job and I forgot how exhausting and time consuming work is. University life spoiled me apparently. I had this chapter almost finished so I decided to get it done and show you all I'm still here. I'll be trying to work on my other stories as well when I find the time. Thanks for all your patience and for reading, reviewing, and the favorites, etc. It means a lot. Also sorry that it is so short. I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: Namco owns Tales of Symphonia.

Chapter 55:

There was something she didn't like about him. Something about the look in his eyes that didn't quite match the young boy she was seeing.

Raine rubbed her eyes in exhaustion longing to just lay down upon a bed and rest. But she had only just returned to Palmacosta from her travels around Sylvarant, talking with a number of travellers about the Summon Spirit Aska. And on her return, she found her young brother and Presea had ultimately taken in a young half-elven boy.

On first impressions, she knew something was off about him. It was the same feel she received when she first spoke to Kratos. Despite the smiling, laughing boy on the outside, she felt as if the child wasn't just a normal child.

She sighed, looking at the opposite wall from her seat. She supposed the boy could have had some traumatic experience of some sort since he was apparently alone-something about losing his sister-Genis had said, but it just didn't fit.

"So Lloyd comes running into the classroom, soaking wet and dripping water everywhere and just rushes to his seat! He was like 'I made it!' and then looked up at the front and Raine is standing there just glaring at him tapping her foot! So Lloyd gets all sheepish and-"

Raine smiled softly, recalling the event her brother was relating. It saddened her how long ago that seemed...ages even. They were all grown up now and Lloyd...well he would never act like that now. In some ways she was proud of him, proud that he had become into a mature young man, but in other ways it frightened her, to think how different he had been in the beginning. It was only after months of being with Colette that he had finally opened up. But then they had disappeared once more, without a word and she was left once more to wonder what happened to her students.

"Raine, do you want to go rest?"

She looked up, finding Presea had taken a seat with her at the table, offering her a steaming cup of tea. Raine smiled gratefully at the gesture, cupping the mug and breathing in the scent.

"Thank you. I'm alright for now, I'll have time to rest later once the boys have settled down." She watched her brother sadly. "He's really attached himself to Mithos hasn't he?"

Presea nodded, taking a sip from her own cup before adding, "I think it is because he misses Lloyd."

Raine glanced at the young girl. "I'm sure he does, but.."

"Genis has been telling Mithos a lot about Lloyd ever since we found him." Presea spoke softly, keeping her voice low, lower than Raine thought necessary. There was no chance of the boys hearing over Genis' loud voice.

"Well, a lot of good stories revolve around Lloyd. He was always causing some sort of event," Raine offered, but she felt her uneasiness growing. For some reason Presea seemed tense, uncomfortable. Her face was blank and expressionless and her eyes remained fixed on the boys...no, on Mithos.

"Mithos has been very interested in meeting Lloyd as well. He is interested in meeting all of Genis' friends. Especially you Raine." Presea still didn't look away from the boy.

Raine frowned, turning her gaze to the young blond, studying him carefully. He was still smiling, still laughing along with Genis as the story began to peak. But there was something off. Was the laugh forced? Was the smile tight? Was he sitting a little too stiff?

The boy's eyes glanced over to the two women, locking eyes with Raine for the briefest of moments before flashing a large smile in her direction before turning his attention back to Genis.

"I think I will rest now." Raine set her tea down, the drink forgotten as she turned to Presea, smiling. "Would you show me a place I could sleep?"

"Of course, Raine."

"You are very lucky."

"Huh?" Genis tilted his head looking down at the boy, pausing in his story. Mithos was no longer looking at him, but to where Raine and Presea vanished into the next room.

"You're sister. You are very lucky to have her."

Genis' sat back a bit, looking sadly at the young boy, offering a weak smile. "Hey now, we'll find your sister. I was actually hoping Raine would get back. She is great with information. She might know where to start looking."

"Yes. She seems to be very smart." The young boy quietly agreed, then turned back to Genis, looking up at him. "Genis, we are friends right?"

The question caught him off guard. The tone, the seriousness of it, the intensity, it seemed so sudden and strange that he took a moment to answer. But he recovered, nodding smiling. "Of course. You'll be the first half-elf friend I've had. I mean, I know there is a bit of an age gap being twenty-one and you fourteen. But we are half-elves and that doesn't really matter. Once we grow up that will seem like nothing."

Mithos smiled weakly, almost as if he found what Genis had said was amusing, but he quickly nodded. "Yes, cause we'll live a lot longer than humans. I mean, from your stories, Lloyd sounds so different already and so changed. It must be weird to be friends with a human."

Genis blinked, then frowned. "Well, it wasn't really just...aging that changed Lloyd. He doesn't.. I mean he acts different because...well he went through a lot of hard stuff and that can change people. But he is...was getting better."

"Was? He's not anymore?"

Genis cleared his throat. "Well I mean, I told you we haven't seen each other for a while. He...he went away."

Mithos sighed, nodding. "Right. I really wish I could meet him. He sounds so...interesting."

Genis cracked a smile and laughed. "That's one way to put it! That makes me think of this one time..."


He's so big! How did he get so big! Oh my goodness he is so adorable and cute and chubby-just look at those cheeks! He's laughing! Zelos look at his little teeth!"

Zelos raised an eyebrow, watching Sheena fawn over the little brat on the floor. Colette was with her, laughing along with Sheena and Leon, tickling and cooing the baby.

"I think he remembers me. He's not crying at all. Hi Leon, hi!" Sheena cooed, her finger stroking one of his cheeks.

Leon smiled, grabbing her hand and giggling. "Shee"

"He's trying to say my name! Zelos he's saying my name!"

"Chill, Babe, or you are going to scare him." Zelos chuckled.

She threw him a glare over her shoulder before completely dismissing him and focusing on repeating her name over and over to the little boy.

"Women get so weird around kids." Zelos mumbled to Lloyd and Kratos who sat near him.

"Indeed."

"I don't know, Dad. You get pretty weird around Leon as well." Lloyd glanced over at his father, smirking. Kratos merely huffed, refusing to take the bait.

Zelos snorted. "I still don't see the novelty of them. They are stinky, messy, annoying little brats."

"You know, you were one of those at one point too." Lloyd raised an eyebrow.

"Of course not. Don't you know, I came out perfect. Perfect little angel, if you catch my drift."

"Oh I catch it alright. But that works better with Colette, rather than you." Lloyd laughed. Colette glanced up briefly, her cheeks glowing pink before looking back down to Leon.

"Ouch, man. That stinks."

Lloyd smiled, but then tilted his head glancing over at him. "I think Sheena would make a pretty good mom. She really seems to like kids."

"I guess so."

"Are you two planning on it?"

Zelos met Lloyd's eyes, narrowing his own slightly, warning him to stop. But Lloyd merely looked at him with brief curiosity then back at the group playing on the floor.

"You really think now is an appropriate time to have kids? Seriously? Look at all the issues you have-"

"I didn't mean now. I mean when this is over."

"You sound pretty confident about it ever ending. Look how long it's taken us to begin with."

Lloyd frowned. "Leon may not have been intentional, but I never regret having him born. He's reminded me what it was that I was fighting for in the first place. A place where everyone can be safe, secure and accepted."

"You don't need to preach to me, Bud. I already know your motivations." Zelos waved his hand.

"They won't be Chosens, you know?"

"What won't?"

"Your kids. They won't have to be chosens. They wouldn't have to have your life. They wouldn't have to die." Lloyd met his gaze. "Because all that is going to end. They'll just be kids...Just like Leon is." Lloyd looked back towards his son. "Leon will never have to be a Chosen. And neither will your kids...you know, if you have any."

Zelos stared at him, then frowned looking at the little toddler and Sheena. She was laughing, face red trying to get Leon's grabby fingers from the front of her shirt, which was being pulled down as he struggled to reach up and poke her nose.

"Leon- Leon wait, let go-"

"Lucky kid..." Zelos muttered.


"That kid is so adorable." Sheena whispered, watching Colette lay Leon on the bed, arranging the pillows about him so that he wouldn't roll off. "You are so lucky, Colette."

The blonde woman looked at her friend, tilting her head, smiling gently. "I suppose I am. Sometimes it doesn't feel that way, or I feel guilty for thinking like that." She turned her gaze back upon her young son, brushing his unruly hair out of his eyes and pulling his blanket over him. Leon wriggled, curling up, his thumb already resting within his mouth.

"If it wasn't for Cruxis, your life would be perfect." Sheena leaned against the wall. "You have a strong husband, an adorable kid, a loving family. What more could you want?"

"Sheena..."

"I'm sorry. Ignore my babbling. I make it sound like things have been so easy for you." Sheena glanced aside. "Zelos won't commit. Sometimes I think I'm wasting my time. But then I remember, he is here. He has been here, through all this craziness. Even all the times he said he would leave or he wouldn't be able to cut it. He's still here. Maybe I should be happy just to have that."

"I'm sure he's just waiting for the right time."

"You think? It's been so long already. And...well, I'd like to have a family. Be a mom, you know? I'm so jealous of you, having little Leon. But Zelos hates kids, I just..." she sighed, shaking her head. "So what happened anyway? You three just left without a trace. No one knew where you were."

Colette frowned, lowering her eyes down to Leon, sitting on the edge of the bed. "We nearly died. Leon and I. It happened so fast...But then Lloyd came and-... We needed to get away. It sounds so selfish...it is selfish. We just had to get away from it all. Lloyd especially. The way he... he was almost acting like he did when he first came back from up there. It scared me, so I didn't argue. He needed to get away Sheena. He needed to be normal."

Sheena pursed her lips, frowning. "It was selfish of him. He had no right to scare us like that. We need him Colette, and he knows it. Well...we weren't going to just sit around and wait for him to come back again. Zelos and I kept busy. Kratos too. Genis and Presea...they are off doing their own thing, but they never had a chance to be kids. And Raine has been working hard too. Everyone has been working. We want to show that we aren't just helpless without him."

Colette nodded. "I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't say it, but I am and so is he." She reached up, rubbing her shoulder.

Sighing, Sheena nodded. "Yeah... alright, look don't apologize. I just... that was meant for him, not you. I just... it's still so hard to talk to him. He's still not like the Lloyd I met back then you know? The idiot that didn't even understand when he messed up. It was...back then it felt like you could yell at him and he'd just get it, but not really get it. Now, he takes it...he just has that expression where it seems like every word is a stab in his side. You know?"

Colette nodded.

Sheena frowned. "But, it's not fair to see him that way. He has come a long way. Just, hasn't quite made it yet. I'm just glad you are all back, safe and sound. Just don't ever do that kind of thing again, alright? Or if you have to, at least tell me."

Smiling, Colette nodded once more, standing up and embracing the older girl. "I promise, Sheena. I've missed having you around this past year. I know, how about tomorrow me, you and Leon can go shopping. He's already growing out of his clothes and I could use a second opinion."

The brightening of Sheena's expression was the only confirmation Colette needed. She smiled, listening the list of ideas Sheena already began listing off as Colette held open the door, lifting a finger to her lips. She waited as her friend left the room, she glanced back at Leon, checking to make sure he was safe. As she did she twitched, rubbing her shoulder with a frown before turning and following the Sheena out of the room.

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