AN: I know I am going completely against cannon, but this was written for the '100-Themes Challenge' given by 'Flames-and-Asches.' In case you haven't guessed yet, the theme was 'Rain.' And so, this was born. I hope you like it! :)
Disclaimer: I do not own Tales of the Abyss. Namco does.
For some reason, standing in the rain was the easiest way for them to meet.
Perhaps it was because the legends were true, and the rain was nothing more then the tears shed by the world when it remembered the memories that refused to let it rest. If this was so, then the extra seventh fonons that found their way into being during these times had a calming effect on the two fon Fabres, a connection neither of them liked to admit. Much more likely, however, was the idea that the steady music created by the falling droplets of water soothed them, much like their mother's voice had soothed them when they were young. Even if it was only for a few hours, the rain was a steady constant in their ever changing world, and it was only while surrounded by this unchanging force that the two would agree to meet.
Of course, they kept their meetings a secret, for it was much easier to lie to the enemy if your allies bought the same lie he was being told. Neither of them liked it, but for the sake of the world, they followed the plan, sneaking out in the middle of a storm to meet in the back of the nearest tavern or under a leafy tree, safe from the prying eyes of others. They would come at different times, leave well apart from the other, and with their disguises, none were the wiser.
And in the meantime, while they had solitude and as much quiet as the rain would allow, they would share their minds.
They needed each other. Although they disliked the implications that followed the revelation, it was clear to them both that they were almost nothing more then the two sides of the same coin, that they were Lorelie himself, just split into parts that could live in this world. Separated, they were strong, stronger than any other warrior to have graced Auldrant, and evenly matched as well, if their impromptu sparring matches under the weeping clouds were anything to go by. But together, together they could change the world, move figurative and literal mountains that stood in their path, and could recreate a society that was perfect in their eyes, in the eyes of scions of the seventh sentient being.
With a single thought, they could turn the world to dust. With the next one, they could restore it to life. Anything, and everything, was at the tips of their tongues.
But everytime it rained and they met, the purpose of the meetings were not to explore the idea of the men, the rulers of all, that they could turn out to be in the future. Instead, it was to explore their pasts, and see each other as the people they were that very day.
It had been confusing at first, the rapid overflow of memories that they felt safe enough to share, which were indeed far and few in between. Scrambled words and twisted faces were all they could see of the others' past, and since neither had been inclined to explain themselves, it had been all they had to work with. For weeks they tried to gain a reading on the other, to untangle the knotted mess of a mind they had only just glimpsed, and it took weeks before they came to the conclusion that it was less than useless to continue. For a long while, it seemed as if they were at an impasse.
It wasn't until one extremely bad storm, one that kept the others safely inside for many days on end, that Luke took the first step in trusting his original and gave him a memory that Asch could understand.
It was a simple moment, a remembrance of a meal around the fire that had happened not even a week ago. Filled with the taste of the stew Guy had prepared for them all, a tad bit too tart from the lemon he had thrown in but delicious none the less, Anise's and Natalia's uneasy laughter as they tried to work out whether or not Jade's latest comment had been a joke or not, and the heart pounding sight of Tear's partially hidden blush as Mieu did something especially cute, it was a memory that he had hundreds of, thousands of copies of the breakfasts, lunches, and dinners he had eaten in the company of his friends. It was nothing extremely special, but allowing Asch to see it, to examine the millions of little details that he himself had just accepted without second thought, to come to see through his own eyes just what he had missed, left him feeling bare and exposed, as if he had been tossed into a battle without his clothes or sword.
It was the worse feeling Luke had ever felt within his life, but the look in Asch's eyes after he had recovered from the experience, a look of grudging respect and budding trust for the fact that he had done something the other hadn't, had been completely worth it.
They had tried, once, to share memories on both a nice day and with distance between them, and both experiments left them weak and shaking, unable to do anything more then lie down as the mutated memory swam before their eyes, refusing to leave until their exhaustion had forced them into sleep. For it to work, they needed the rain, the calm it brought in its wake, and a physical connection to keep them anchored to life and their own world. With visits that become more and more frequent as the weather began to change and the wet season began, it was under the comforting cover of clouds and rain that they fully came to know each other.
After a while, it soon became difficult to determine which memories came from which mind. For Luke, lessons with Legretta to memorize the names of Yulia's disciples and perfect his inflection while speaking Ancient Ispanian became as numerous as days spent questioning Guy, asking again and again why it was he was trapped in the manor. For Asch, learning how to walk intersected his days spent training with Van, both in the light of the court yard and in the shadows of the Daathic halls. Half-remembered promises warred with the facts that they had never taken place, and ideals of the past fought against the thoughts of the future. In more ways than one, the replica and the original came to understand themselves and each other, perhaps better than they ever could have imagined before.
As the rain tapped against the windows of the bar they had borrowed for the night, facing the thought that it would be their last meeting until after it was all over, Asch forgave Luke for the sins of his past and accepted him as a man in his own right. Luke, between counting out the seconds between flash of lightning and rolling thunder, came to accept that, despite Asch being his original, there was a place within this world for the both of them, and that, perhaps, they could both live together.
Perhaps, in another life, had things been different, they could have been friends, brothers even. But as things were, it was only because of the rain that, eventually, they could turn to face the future in peace.