Genis was, out of the two of them, always the first to wake up. Although that wasn't saying much since Lloyd really, really liked to sleep and would probably go all day if someone wasn't there to give him a friendly kick in the ribs. So saying that Genis was shocked when his eyes finally fluttered open to see his best friend already fully awake and staring intensely at the newly resurrected camp fire was a major understatement. For a second all the white haired sorcerer could do was blink, as though what he saw in front of him was just a dream induced hallucination that would go away if he could flutter his lashes fast enough. After attempting this for a little while though it became apparent that the strangeness in front of him was in fact real.

Cautiously sitting up Genis cleared his throat, "Lloyd."

The red clad swordsman put a finger to his lips flicking his eyes back and forth over the younger boy's shoulder. Genius immediately reached for his kendama and slid next to his best friend. "What is it Lloyd? Do you sense something? Are we under attack? Why aren't your swords drawn?"

A soft chuckle escaped Lloyd's lips as he looked at Genis's furrowed brow and, in response to his chuckle, scowl.

"What's so funny?" the younger boy snapped eyes still flitting across the horizon searching for danger.

Lloyd ignored the anger from the white haired mage and instead smiled fondly at him, "There's no danger Genis."

"Then why did you shush me?" Genis asked a little put out. He had never known his friend to tell him to do things without good reason.

"I was thinking and I didn't want you to break my train of thought." The swordsman shrugged and went back to staring at the fire.

Genis couldn't help but blink stupidly at his friend- the irony of the situation didn't dawn on him till much later though- as though seeing him for the first time. He was sitting on the ground a few feet away from the fire leaning against a tree with one leg folded under him and the other bent and pulled up next to his face. His right arm rested on his bent knee while the other gripped the twin blade swords that rested in his lap. Soft brown eyes that usually held a casual, carefree warmth now stared unseeing and troubled at the dancing ball of red and yellow before him. The young mage was baffled. He had never before seen his friend so still yet so concentrated before. Normally, if Lloyd was that still it meant that he was sleeping.

Lowering his kendama Genis moved to sit fully beside his friend. He had an idea of what might be bothering the red clad swordsman. Shooting a glance sideways he swallowed before speaking. "Is this about Kratos being your father?"

Lloyd didn't say anything. Genis felt Lloyd stiffen however and the former didn't need to look at the latter to know that his eyes had suddenly became guarded. For a long time they sat there in a tense silence. Finally Lloyd stood up and began to gather his things.

"We shouldn't stay here. Come on, we're almost there. If we press on for the rest of the day then we should get to Altessa's house before night fall." Walking over to a bucket of water they had gathered the night before Lloyd picked it up and threw it on the fire causing it to sizzle and pop and finally die.

Silence fell between them again as they started packing up the remains of their camp. Genis kept shooting glances at Lloyd hoping to catch a smile or a joke or the slightest release of tension from his shoulders. The young mage sighed when he got none and mentally berated himself. Why did he have to bring up the mercenary? Why couldn't he just keep his big mouth shut and wait, like Raine had said, until his friend was ready to talk? Why hadn't he, for once, put his stupid smarts and childish behavior on the backburner? He had known that his incessant need to know everything would get him in trouble one day, but…

Genis sighed again as he tucked his kendama under his shirt, hoisted his share of the load on his back and waited for the now distant swordsman to gather up his own pack before they started out again.

The white haired mage watched his friends stepped slightly ahead of him. He knew he would have to apologize to Lloyd. Right now though he allowed the swordsman to take the lead as Genis himself fell back and stayed silent. It hurt that his friend had suddenly become distant. He couldn't afford to think about that right now though.

Navigating the Gaoracchia forest was not an easy feat on a normal day. Genis was not going to complicate it by forcing a sensitive subject on Lloyd's already heavily laden shoulders. He also didn't want Lloyd to get distracted and loose there way.

'I promise though' he thought, a new determination in his eyes picking up the pace to walk by Lloyd's side, 'once we get reach Ozette I'm gonna do everything I can to make it up to him. I'll just give him some time to calm down.'

After all, the sun was just peaking over the horizon and Lloyd said that they wouldn't by getting to Altessa's until after dark so they had plenty of time to work this out.


Lloyd knew that Genis didn't mean anything other than concern when he had asked Lloyd about Kratos.


He couldn't get it out of his head.

He couldn't stop thinking about how casually the mercenary had laid claim to the younger swordsman after everything he had done to them and then turn around and expect the other to understand.

Not that Lloyd didn't understand. No. Lloyd understood perfectly Kratos's intentions and thinking and planning. But it didn't make it hurt any less.

Lloyd's irritated huff shattered the otherwise silent forest. This was so stupid. He had more important things to worry about then Kratos or his stupid Angelus project. Colette and the others were waiting for them at Altessa's house to get back with the medicine for Raine. And yet. Every time he would try to think his brain would somehow always circle around to the red-headed mercenary.

Shaking his head to try and clear out the unwanted thought Lloyd decided to focus instead on not getting himself or Genis lost. He was silently glad when the young mage slipped up beside him as they walked. He might have been upset at Genis for bringing Kratos up, but he by no means hated the boy, nor did he want to lose his friendship. And, truth be told, the young boys presence was comforting to him.

They continued forward for almost an hour, winding through trees and almost tripping over stumps, before he heard it. A twig snapped loudly off to his left causing both him and Genis to freeze. That sound was too loud to have been made by an animal. Another snap sounded this time prompting the two to draw their weapons. Moving slowly into a crouching position both boys carefully made their way away from the sound and down another path of the forest. Lloyd's eyes darted around them in an attempt to spot whatever it was that made the sound, but his brown irises skated over nothing but green. For a split second Lloyd turned slightly to look at the path they were backing up towards, it would take them the long way through the forest, in the complete opposite direction they had been heading, but they might be able to confuse whatever it was in the woods.

Suddenly the world around them exploded. Men came bursting out of the trees guns and blades drawn and at the ready.

"Genis, run." Lloyd shouted at his friend and turned to do the same. He froze in his tracks. They were surrounded.