Disclaimer: I do not own Tales of the Abyss. Namco does.
If little Chase Grants hadn't known better, he would have believed his mother was insane.
That was what most people seem to think. At least, that's what he had overheard his aunts and uncles saying every time they came to visit, when they talked to each other late at night when his mother was out of the room and he was supposedly in bed. The first time, he had run screaming into the room, yelling at the only other family members he knew that they had to stop, that they had to stop before his mother came back and heard them. But this had only drawn her from the kitchen where she had been cooking their meal, and after that, for weeks worth of visits, his family had been careful with what they said, saying things he couldn't understand with their eyes and tones of voice that he knew was the same, but had no proof of. So now he just sat there on the stairs, listening and memorizing every word they said, so that he could remind himself that none of it was true.
His mother wasn't mad. She was haunted.
He was three when he first started to realize something was wrong with his mother, a sneaking suspicion that had only grown over the past four years he had been aware of it. For as long as he could remember, his mother had always passed the time away humming, her voice soft as it drifted through the house, reaching into his playroom even when he had closed the door so the noise of his toys hitting the floor wouldn't disturb her. From the moment he awoke until it was time for bed, except for those few moments when she spoke directly to him, his world was filled with the sorrowful sound of her song, the same one that had been repeated over and over until he himself could sing it with ease. It had been the lullaby that had helped him to sleep for most of his life, and out of everything, it was perhaps the one that he knew would remain constant.
Until that night.
That night, his mother had forced him to try some weird form of food that he had never had before, and although it had tasted delicious, just like everything else she had ever made for him, his stomach had later disagreed, leaving him wide awake long after his mother had sung her song and left him to sleep. Hoping that, perhaps, if he could play off the twinges that kept him awake, she might give him some cake, Chase had quietly slipped out of bed, his bare feet pattering against the wooden floors louder then he would have liked, but not enough to cause him concern that she would find him before he had set his plan into motion. Believing that she was in her room, Chase had quickly scurried down the stairs, only to freeze as the sound of her voice reached him. His eyes squinted half shut, sure that she had heard him, he had put on the most pitiful face he could manage and stuck his head around the corner that still blocked her from sight.
And had frozen when, amazed, he realized she wasn't talking to him.
Her voice had been soft, almost too soft for him to hear, and gentle, a tone she only used with him on the rarest of occasions, like when he was sick or extremely tired and the coolness she had learned from her past life as a soldier wasn't appropriate for her dealings with him. Although always kind, if a bit distant, that night her voice had been saturated with the love she only hinted at with him, for she preferred her actions to speak for her, something that had always worked for the two of them. Straining his ears to hear her, he had just been able to catch the last of her words before he interrupted her.
"...just like you, Luke. He's almost just like you."
"Momma? Who are you talking to?"
As if she had been expecting him, his mother had just turned as smiled, her eyes soft as she walked over to gather him in her arms. Walking back up the steps, once more humming her song under her breath, all thoughts of his stomach and cake forgotten from his mind, his mother had just settled him back into bed before brushing his forehead with a kiss, the air around her relaxed and loving. Turning away without answering his question, she had just left him and gone to bed.
Almost every night since, he had staid up to listen to her talk, sitting at the top of the stairs instead of wandering farther down so that, when she was done speaking, he could hurry back into bed and feign sleep, an act that, as far as he knew, had fooled her so far. When he had gotten older, through careful questioning of his family and neighbors, he had managed to find out who the man his mother spent her nights talking to was, managed to piece together hearsay and rumors to fill out the bare minimum of a story many seemed determined to keep from him, and from this he had come to the most obvious conclusion of them all.
His father was haunting his mother, and no one other then her could see him.
So Chase had started to protect her. When the others came over to visit them, to ask him questions about how he and his mother were, he smiled and lied, painting the picture he knew they wanted to hear instead of the truth that seemed to haunt them as well, their own personal ghost that they didn't even know existed. 'She stopped singing so much,' he would say when they asked, earning a piercing gaze before a pleased nod and a touch of the head that was almost calming. 'She doesn't stare off into space as much,' he would lie, reassuring them that the whole ten minutes they had been talking to her without her even being aware they were there was a now rare occasion instead of an everyday event. 'She talks to me more,' he promised, when instead he knew that, were it not for her song, his house would be silent, her affections wrapped up in the long hugs she gave and the gentle looks she took at him when she was there. In the ways that she would say he was just like his father, a man who had been dead for nine years, but somehow had a seven-year-old son, a mystery he blamed on the ghost that he could almost see in his mother's eyes and in the mirror, red hair and green eyes that he knew made the rest of his family uneasy and concerned with their ignorance, but that he knew he had all the answers for.
Going off instinct, learning from the little voice in the back of his head that promised to keep the most important person in his world safe if he said this or did that, he helped to keep them away, the ones that had wanted to take her away from him, that had wanted to take his mother somewhere he couldn't go. He protected her, and he was happy. It didn't matter if from three until seven something had told him the others were right, that something was wrong with his mother, that she was sick and needed help. It didn't matter that she was slowly getting worse, her discussions with the unseeable man she was in love with taking place during the day as well as the night, leaving him scared to leave the house. By his eighth birthday, none of that mattered.
Chase knew his mother was haunted, knew that the man she spoke to was a ghost and not a figment of her imagination like so many other people had believed.
For on his eighth birthday, after singing his mother's song, he saw him too.
AN: Now, some of you might be asking "What the heck 9?" To be honest, at the time of writing this, I had absolutely no clue. It wasn't until almost thirty-six hours later that I figured it out: let's blame Lorelie. Forget the epilogue. No one came back. So, Tear, ticked off and more than a little upset, summons Lorelei and demands that he fixes things. So, Lorelei, because T.V. Tropes says that babies make everything better, gave Tear a child that is supposed to be Luke's. Tear goes a bit insane from the contamination effect Lorelie exposes her to, the others notice, her kids tries to protect her, and then goes a bit crazy too after he sings the song that summons Lorelie. Hopefully, Chase's first appearance, for he will be back a couple of times, with each new appearance completely new and unconnected to his previous ones, hasn't been ruined for you all. Bye!