AN: My first Tales of the Abyss fict in a long time. Sorry if it seems OC, but it's been quite a while since I've played or watched TotA. I just got this idea after watching some AMVs on Youtube, and it wouldn't leave me alone. Anyway, I hope you like it!

Disclaimer: I do not own TotA. Namco does.

Once upon a time, when she was still young and mostly ignorant of the world, she had been afraid of ghosts. But that was before they had become her constant companions.

She had never been afraid of death itself, for her life of training had drilled into her that the loss of life was just part of the job description. Whether it was her own or someone elses', blood would always be spilt line in the line of duty that was theirs, and there was nothing she could do to stop it. Prolong their miserable existence, perhaps, by closing the wounds and healing the bruises, but someday Death would come for them all, and only a coward would try to hid from it. So no, it was not the idea of dying itself that use to disturb her.

It was what might come after that had.

Although almost everyone had one idea or another about what might or might not happen after their mortal shell expired, no one had been able to agree on one theory. It was well known and excepted that the body itself broke down into the fonons that created it, returning them to the world from which they had first come. Seventh fonists supposedly joined the Fonon Belt, becoming the healing energy that helped to keep the planet alive, but again, it was nothing more then speculation. If anything, the idea of people becoming spirits that remained to haunt the world was the more likely of all the ideas she had heard over the span of her life, for at least that prospect had myths and legends to support it.

It was also the reason the idea had scared her so much in the past.

The idea that someone she couldn't see, someone she couldn't fight, might be watching her every movement had always sent shivers down her spine, causing her to shudder and force her mind to more cheerful prospects. When it topic was brought up in conversation, she was always the one to forcefully change the subject, the harshness within her voice bringing it to a undeniable close. If she had had the power, she would have banned all myths and tales about ghosts, preventing their very name from being spoken within her vicinity. Alas, in her youth, she had had neither the influence nor the inclination to so force her will upon others, and so had suffered from her fears.

Now, she couldn't understand how she had lived without them.

She had first felt him years ago, after her heart had been freshly broken by the loss of the hope that had sustained her for the past two years. It had finally become clear to her that he was never going to return to her, and that there was nothing she could do to change the outcome of Fate. Even after being one of the seven who had fought to free the world from its influence, even she was still a pawn of destiny, a delicious piece of irony she had been able to appreciate at the time she had been drowning. It had been nothing more then a hint of a breeze against the back of her neck, a softly whispered almost word that seemed to echo within her mind. At the time, she had written it off as her imagination, as her grief overwhelming her senses to make her believe that he was with her. In a fit of fear and rage she had brushed it away, pushing the incident to the back of her mind until it was all but forgotten. Then, putting on the mask she had always worn, she returned to the world that waited for her, determined to do the job that was hers until it was finally her time to find out just what was to happen after death took her.
It would have worked, had he not returned.

For weeks she could just feel him, hovering out of reach in the corner of her eye, impossible to see or touch but there none the less. His presence tormented her, keeping her awake in the dead of night when sleep should have been cradling her, driving away her appetite when hunger should have been clawing at her stomach. His whispered words drowned out all others even as the flashes of skin and cloth that caught her attention drew her away from the world she should have been helping. She was becoming nothing more then a shell in her denial, and it was an affliction that the others saw. They tried, time and again, to keep her from her job, to keep her from the one thing that was keeping her sane throughout this hell that had become her life, and it something that she refused to give up.

So, when it finally came time to choose between her duty and her sanity, she let herself believe.

And she found him. As if he had just been waiting for her to stop being stubborn and to open her eyes, he had been standing before her, his arms slightly raised as if he was going to embrace her. Her name fell from his lips and echoed within her mind, though this time the words were a clear, ringing pain that drew a cry from between her clenched teeth that spoke of her inherent weakness. His eyes soft with love and welcome, his only invitation had been to once more whisper her name before taking a step towards her, the promise of forever shining through in his voice.

It was a promise she had eagerly accepted, and one she was close to seeing fulfilled.
She could feel him now, could run her fingers through the ends of his hair and feel the softness of the flaming locks, could feel the desperate pressure he was using in squeezing her hand, keeping her awake for a few moments more. He had steadily become more and more solid as the years had passed, his eyes replacing the world that no longer needed or cared about her, an old hero who's name had long since passed into legend, but never before had he seemed so real. Even as he begged her to hold on, that help would be there soon, they both knew that it was far too late, that her time had finally come. Even as he tried to keep her alive, to give her a few more moments in this world they had fought so hard for, she slowly allowed her eyes to close and her body relax.

She had never been afraid of death, and she was no longer afraid of what might come after. Now, the only fear she had was that the ghost that had been her companion for most of her life would no longer be there when she awoke.