Admittedly, it is nice to be back in the Tales of Destiny fandom again... Unfortunately, I've never played the game (original or any of the remakes) and my experience with the characters is based on the manga and that which I saw in Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology. I have read a few of the scripts from the Director's Cut version of the game, but other than that, I'm mostly going on the manga and the assumptions I can make from watching Japanese clips. Hopefully I didn't stray ridiculously from character.
Unfortunately, I didn't have a beta for this, so if anyone is willing to do so (so that I might re-upload it), I would be most grateful.
This story was written as a request from cometcloud on tumblr. I hope this was to your liking!
Rutee sat in silence, fingers laced together in front of her mouth and elbows resting upon her knees. Her eyebrows were knit together, a deep frown hidden by her hands, obscuring the overall look of concern that graced her features. The curtains of the inn's window were drawn tightly closed, blocking out the bright day's sunlight, casting dark shadows across the rented room; the only source of light being that of a dim lamp near the door. Her gaze, unnaturally serious and focused, was locked on that of the bed before her where the lone figure of Lion Magnus lay under the covers, his thin form shivering against a non-existent chill. With a sigh, the dark-haired female leaned back in her chair and glanced toward the ceiling, playing the events which bad brought her to her current position over in her mind.
It hadn't been until she saw Stahn come downstairs first that Rutee started to realise something was wrong. The blond swordsman came downstairs just an hour short of high noon, a confused air about him as he explained that Lion had still been asleep when he woke up. When he had attempted to wake the young raven-haired male, it had ended in an accurately summoned red hammer to his cranium – which was now boasting a new red bump in the middle of his forehead. Philia, who had been helping Mary prepare lunch in the inn's kitchen, had immediately taken to Stahn's side with an ice-pack and a few choice words of concern for both the firey swordsman and the dual-weilder upstairs. Rutee hadn't stuck around to hear much more of what was being said; she'd simply pocketed the lens she had been polishing moments prior and made her way upstairs. Stahn never woke up earlier than Lion. Given that Stahn generally didn't wake up before anyone, the fact that the latest riser woke up before the first was more than reason enough for concern.
A strained cough pulled Rutee back to the present and she immediately straightened herself on the chair, eyes wide. Lion's face, once expressionless, was now twisted in pain as the raven curled up on his side, the rough, sharp bursts of air pouring from his lips as he tried to regain the proper ability to breathe. The young knight's shoulders heaved with the effort of trying to calm his strained lungs, and Rutee was left feeling helpless as she stood up and leaned against the bed, using one arm to support herself while the other rubbed his back. Soon, the coughs died off and Lion was left panting as he tried to catch his breath. Wincing, the thief smoothed the bed's covers and guided the young raven to lie on his back again in hopes that he would be more comfortable that way.
"Rutee?" A soft female voice called from the other side of the door, "Are you still in there?"
"Ah..." Rutee turned on her heel and quickly made her way to the door, opening if halfway. "Philia? Uh... Yeah. I was just on my way out and-"
The priestess chuckled softly and offered the lens master a knowing smile. In her arms was a tray with a bowl of fresh water, several clothes, and two cups; one of which was filled with more water, and the other, much smaller in size, holding a bright purple liquid. "Don't worry. The others don't seem to be paying your being up here any mind. I just thought I should bring up something that would help Lion out, he doesn't seem the type that gets sick often. I've The medicine is from the inn-keeper. She said it would help bring his temperature back down."
"Oh..." There was a pause as Rutee awkwardly rubbed the back of her neck with a sheepish expression before she slowly took the tray from Philia and smiled again. "...Thanks."
"It isn't any trouble," Philia bowed her head politely and turned to walk away, lingering for a moment as she glanced over her shoulder. "I've no doubts that he's in good hands; you're very good when it comes to caring for others in need – I'm certain no one would be able to do this better."
Before any protests could be made, Philia had already walked away and disappeared down the hall, leaving Rutee to linger in the hallway. She huffed in embarrassment and looked down at the tray in her arms, mumbling under her breath that she wasn't some 'some lame caretaker', only to have her thoughts interrupted yet again by Lion's coughing. Ah, crap...!
Almost immediately, the raven-haired woman was back by the young knight's bedside, carefully pulling him into a sitting position as he rode out the rest of his fit. Worried that another one was soon to come, Rutee picked up the cup of liquid medication and held it near Lion's mouth. The young male's nose wrinkled in response as he inhaled the aroma and he turned his head away, making a soft noise of protest. Rutee's eyes merely rolled in response and she wrapped an arm around his shoulders firmly and tapped the brim of the cup against his lips. "Seriously? Come on, brat. Stop acting like a damn kid. Open your mouth."
Again she received a jerk of the head and another whine of displeasure, but she took advantage of Lion's attempted use of the word "no" and poured as much of the liquid into his mouth as she could before holding a hand over his mouth to keep him from spitting it back out.
Lion's entire body lurched forward with a gag as the foul taste engulfed his mouth, making him swallow on reflex and lick his lips in a misguided attempt to remove the flavour from his tongue. Taking pity, Rutee grabbed the glass of water and carefully helped the knight take several gulps, then set it aside and waited. Sure enough, a few moments later a pair of violet eyes were revealed by half-open lids. Lion's gaze was unfocused and hazy as he stared blankly at Rutee, a small frown forming on his fever-flushed face. For several long minutes, the two merely stared at one another; one too nervous to say anything for fear of setting the already anger-prone swordsman off and soliciting another coughing fit, the other too dazed to properly digest the situation.
The young knight slumped forward and extended his hand, the seemingly simple gesture causing his entire arm to tremble with the effort. His lips parted and he inhaled slowly, the single, raspy word that managed to escape made the healer jump. "...sis?"
If Lion had been in his right state of mind, he would have scoffed at the dumbfounded look on Rutee's face and likely said something about her misguided attempt to eat a fly. The thief's jaw dropped as her eyes widened exponentially and a garbled noise of shock emanated somewhere in the back of her throat. It was a title she'd never expected to hear from anyone, let alone Seingald's bratty captain. Confused, the thief immediately made to protest against whatever twisted attempt at a joke Lion was trying to pull off, but something about the expression on his face made her pause. It was clear enough that the youngest swordian master was ill, very much so, and his mind was far from the proper place, but what had spurred that of all things was a mystery. Maybe he has one back home we never got to meet? Never would have pegged this brat as the brotherly-type...
"Sis...?" Lion's voice was soft enough that Rutee nearly missed it and she was forced to lean forward to better hear him. The situation had already jumbled her brain enough to bafflement – how many other people had ever seen him in this weakened condition? How many people had he even allowed to see him weak? – and his fever talk wasn't helping at all. "...it hurts." His eyes were glassy and unfocused, and the pleading look be was giving her made something in Rutee's chest tighten and melt.
Despite all the arguments and sharp words the two of them had shared throughout their travels thusfar, Rutee had come to admit to herself that Lion was far from a bad person. His snappish and harsh retorts were little more than an attempt to make him look in charge, to make up for the gap in age he had with those around him and prove that he was just as capable. Even if it was an unorthodox way of doing it, there was no doubt his serious and hard nature had earned him both respect and authority. Still, while the knight was as aloof as he'd ever been, his various scoldings and insults had lost a lot of their original demeaning nature. Now they just seemed to be more of a harsh means of constructive criticism and roundabout encouragement to get them to train better.
Suspiciously enough, with Stahn especially. While the blond swordian seemed to be the target of Lion's harshest words, ever since an incident several weeks prior when he'd pushed the knight aside and taken a hit for him in battle, the air between the two of them had changed dramatically. During battles Lion seemed more inclined to listen to the battle orders shouted at him from the older male, and it was the raven who seemed to always be the first to get the other a healing item when he needed it. Not to mention the late-night training sessions – which Rutee assumed were meant to be secret by the way Lion refused to talk about or admit to them – where he would spend long hours explaining to Stahn battle strategies and means of observing attack patterns from monsters and humans alike. In a way, Rutee would have called his actions "cute" but her survival instinct would kick in before she could ever go that far in the verbal spats she'd have with him – as the gods didn't always have mercy on her and Lion was rather quick to read for that damn shock tiara control.
Pushing the thoughts from her mine, the healer grabbed one of the clothes off the tray and dipped it into the bowl of water and wrung it out as best she could, answering his soft admittance of pain with a gentle, "I know... I know. Being sick is a pain in the ass – kinda like you. Only you can get rid of an illness. We're stuck with you."
If Lion had realised she'd just insulted him – playfully or not – he didn't show it. He continued to stare at her with the same gaze as before – a gaze that was starting to make her nervous. It looked much too much like that of the children back at the orphanage when they were sick and wanted nothing more than for her to curl up in the bed with them and read a story. This wasn't at all like the Seingald knight she'd come to know and – reluctantly – care for on some bizarre level. She wasn't all that sure if she liked it, but as concerning as his current condition was – and despite the urge she had to flee from the room and come make someone else tend to the little captain – something inside her refused to let her leave. She'd have never forgiven herself is she walked out that door, that much Rutee knew, and somewhere deep down, a feeling was spurring her instincts forward. She wanted to take care of him, to make sure that he was okay, and see to it that he was well again as soon as possible.
Now that was definitely something she never would have seen herself thinking when this entire adventure had started.
"Lay back down," Rutee urged, using a hand on Lion's shoulder as she gently guided him back down to the pillows. "You're going to make yourself dizzy sitting up like that. Just relax."
Folding the damp cloth, she placed it on the raven male's forehead and found herself smiling in satisfaction when he let out a small content sigh. Without thinking about it, Rutee leaned forward and gently brushed the dark bangs out of Lion's face and tucked them behind his ear, then made use of a second dampened cloth to wipe away the thin line of sweat coating his face and neck. Briefly, she considered convincing him to sit up a second time in order to remove his shirt – as it appeared to be faintly sweat moistened as well – but she settled for tucking the covers just a little more firmly around his slender frame instead. It didn't look like he had much strength left in him to hold his own body up anyway.
"You know, for someone who scolds us a lot and claims we're going to be the ones who get sick, you sure fell pretty hard," Rutee grinned as she leaned forward and tapped Lion's nose with her forefinger, chin resting in the palm of her free hand. "Seriously. It's all those sweets you eat when you think we're not looking; I bet they completely destroyed your immune system, brat. You need to eat more veggies and crap – follow the balanced diet Mary is always talking about."
Her only response was a slow blink and furrowing of the eyebrows as Lion turned his head just enough to better look at her face. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but all he managed was a weak cough. Wither it was the illness or medicine that was sucking away his energy, Rutee didn't know, but it was making him look all the more pitiful. If anything, her goal had been one of weak hope; Lion would have lever let her get away with words like this had be been of good health, and part of her had clung to the unlikely idea that he would suddenly sit up and threaten her with a good shock before storming moodily out of the room as he was so talented at doing.
"...You really are out of it, huh?" Sighing, Rutee shook her had and glanced toward the white scabbard sitting in a chair on the other side of the bed. With a slight raise of her eyebrow, the thief dipped her fingers in the water bowl and flicked the droplets as hard as she could, grinning when they hit the handle of the sword and a displeased yelp sounded. "You're awfully suspicious over there. I've never heard you so quiet before. I'm surprised you let me touch him."
"You didn't have to flick me with water..." Chaltier muttered, speaking for the first time since Rutee had entered the room.
"I could have done it instead," Atwight spoke, causing Rutee to make startled sound as she remembered her sword was still sitting on the small of her back.
"No!" The protest came quicker than the water Swordian or her mater had expected, causing both females a brief rush of amusement. "You'd get bocchan wet!"
"A little water might help him cool down."
"No one is going to soak anyone, Chaltier, don't shout so much, you're gonna wake bocchan up."
"Looks like he fell back asleep..." True to Rutee's words, Lion's eyes had shut some several minutes ago and his breathing had evened out. The medicine had worked it's magic quicker than expected and efficiently knocked the young raven back out as it fought down the bug plaguing his body. The three of them fell into a comfortable silence as the thief re-soaked the washcloth from the knight's forehead and put it back in place.
"...Rutee," Chaltier's voice was quiet as he spoke. As silent as he'd been the entire time, his understanding of the situation was far better than anyone else's in the room. The true relationship between the two humans was not unknown to him, and as much as he urged Lion to let the truth be known, he knew better than to speak of it without his master's permission. It saddened the swordian to hear and see it all, knowing that what Rutee believed to be little more than "fever talk" was the side of Lion's nature that he kept carefully locked away from the world. No matter how much protest was made, Chaltier knew well that Lion's affections for his elder sister hadn't been eliminated by the unfortunate issue of separation. More than once in battle Lion had made use of simultaneous spells, pushing himself to shorten the casting time in order to send a brigade or rocks or magical hammers toward a monster that was attempting to attack the thief from behind. The young swordian has lost count of the number of monster encounters which left his master exhausted and panting heavily – something he put a great deal of effort into hiding from the party – because his focus on the battle had been less on the enemy and more-so on the well being of two individuals. Not that Lion would ever admit it – even to him."Thank you for taking care of him. My young master is happy too, I'm sure."
"Whoa, don't go all soft on me over this, geez... I'm just doing what's right. The idiots downstairs wouldn't know what they were doing – except for Mary. Maybe Philia. I'm only here because if it wasn't be, it'd probably be Stahn, and I doubt he'd make it out of here alive. Lion would shock him to death – take out whatever braincells are left under that mullet of his with those damn hammers."
"...He deserved it."
Snorting, Rutee shook her head and allowed her attention to fall back on Lion's slumbering form. The flush had yet to fade from his unusually pale face – and he was pale enough to begin with – and while it was obvious he was sleeping, his breathing still wasn't natural enough for Rutee's liking. Drawing Atwight from her back, the dark-haired female held the sword above the knight's still frame. A sharp hiss of protest sounded from Chaltier as the lens embedded into his hilt glowed threateningly, earning another snort from the thief, "Oh, stop it. If I seriously wanted to stab the brat, I would have gone it weeks ago. And trust me, he's tried my patience enough to make it tempting to give him a good poke."
"Don't get him worked up," Atwight hummed coolly, "Chaltier's voice gets rather squeaky when he's upset. It might wake Lion up."
"It does not!"
"Both of you," Rutee huffed and prodded Atwight's hilt, "shut up. I don't feel like getting zapped if he does wake up."
"I'm not pou-"
"Ahem," Rutee cleared her throat, pulling both swordians from there would-be banter and scoot her chair closer to the bed. Placing a hand over the cloth on his forehead, she looked at the sword in her grasp and smiled faintly, "Mind helping me out a bit?"
"...Of course, Rutee. You needn't even ask. I'll do my best."
Later that evening, Philia once again made her way upstairs with a tray in her arms; this time with two bowls of steaming soup. After knocking on the door twice, the green-haired female balanced the tray in one arm and opened the door with the other, pushing at the wooden barrier with her back. "Rutee? I brought you and Lion some soup; Mary thought it might be easy on his... oh!"
"It seems dinner might not be required after all..."
"Shh, don't wake them, Clemente." Philia giggled as she set the tray down on the room's desk and approached the bed. Lying haphazardly between the chair and mattress, Rutee's upper body was balanced on the bed next to Lion's waist, her left hand wrapped loosely around her sword. Every few minutes, Atwight's lens would glow, sending a pale green stream of mana from her blade to the knight's chest where it would swirl briefly in the air before disappearing. Her right hand was resting on Lion's stomach, her fingers clasped tightly around his hand, and in turn, he clutched at her hand as well.
"How cute..." The priestess hummed in quiet delight and pulled the spare blanket off the end of Stahn's bed, wrapping it carefully around Rutee's shoulders. Satisfied that the two of them would be comfortable, she made her way back toward the door and turned off the light, carefully shutting the door behind her with soft 'click'.