AN: My 90th fic! Only ten more to go until I've written one hundred stories! I can't wait! :D Anyway, I wrote this at two in the morning and I am posting it at four, so hopefully it makes sense and you all like it!
Disclaimer: I do not own Tales of the Abyss. Namco does.
Somewhere in Daath, Fon Master Anise was squealing, the letter she had just received pressed tight to her chest as she shamelessly drew attention to herself, uncaring of the damage it might to to her reputation in light of the news she had just received.
In his newly built manor just outside of Grand Chokmah, Guy was hastily mopping up the tea he had just split, his own letter thrown to the floor as he tried to save the many important papers that were on his table. However, it was the one he had tossed aside that was consuming his every thought, making him wonder just exactly how the two of them had gotten into such a mess.
Inside her room in the castle at Batical, Natalia was fuming. How dare they do this to her? Not only were they putting themselves into a difficult position, but the shame they had brought upon the royal family of Kimlasca would never be lived down. Tisking even as she drew her cloak around herself and prepared for her trip into the city, deciding to go incognito considering the nature of her shopping trip, it was with gritted teeth and a determination to at least get a wedding out of this that she left for the store.
Sitting at his desk in his office, it was with a single raised eyebrow that Jade took the news the best, a slight laugh marking the fact that he knew something not quite stated within the letter. Setting it aside, into the pile of personal papers that had somehow made their way into his working life, it was with a quick word to his newly appointed secretary that he made a note to travel to the market place later that evening. That having been done, it was with a widening smile that he reread the letter that, unknown to him, had caused some of his other companions so much grief.
"His Royal Highness, Emperor Peony the Ninth, would like to formally invite you to a surprise party that is being held to celebrate the birth of the son of Luke fon Fabre and Mystearica Grants. Due to the nature of the event, and the secrecy that was surrounding their circumstances, it is asked that only those who were invited attend and that they keep the nature of their visit to the palace a secret themselves. Your compliance is greatly appreciated. With all my love, Peony. Oh, and P.S.: Bring a gift for the little one."
His smile continuing to grow as he put it aside once more, it was only with a single thought that Jade returned to the papers on his desk. It was that, where Peony was concerned, things tended to turn out much more interesting then they would have without him.
By the time Anise, Natalia, Guy, and Jade found themselves standing in the main hall of the Malkuthian palace, their presents having been whisked away by servants and maids to another room to be opened at a later time, almost half a dozen letters had passed between the four, each of them wondering why it was that they were only just now finding out about the newest member to their adoptive family. Even if, as Natalia had pointed out, her normally neat handwriting an almost illegible scrawl, they were trying to avoid attaching a scandal to their names, why would Luke and Tear leave their closest friends in the dark?
It was Jade, of course, who had pointed out that, according to their group's current track record, they weren't the most subtle of people. Considering that they were the heroes that had saved the world and that said entire world was watching them, their private lives were no longer their own. Their every thought belonged to the public now, and considering the amount of fuss that was kicked up over a normal nobel scandal, the thought of the uproar that would come from a scandal based around two of the greatest heroes the world had ever known was shudder inducing. (This, of course, being said by Jade, was said with a wide smile and almost creepy laugh.)
It had then been Guy to, grudgingly, point out that, if they wanted to keep a secret from everyone else, Peony was the person to see. Although in Kimlasca they would have had more support, Guy had quickly backtracked to keep the resident princess happy, the maids and guards gossiped far too much. Word would have quickly reached the wrong ears, leading to the secret being turned into blackmail before anything could be done to stop it. In Grand Chokmah, at the very least, the servants had become so exposed to Peony's strangeness that an unmarried pregnant woman would, provided that she wasn't carrying his child, probably seem downright normal.
It had been this last statement that had brought Natalia to the topic of a wedding, preferably to be held within the next few days, so as to save as much of their friends', and her family's, reputation as possible. With the many details already planned out within her head, Natalia was sure that, with their help, the couple could be properly joined before any news of the child even left the palace. With the conversation settling on the wedding plans, Guy and Jade telling her the best people to visit and Ansie, unfamiliar with the area, giving her own opinion on one detail or another, it had finally seemed as if things were going to calm for the four, even if it was only for a moment.
That is, until the Luke and Tear, the couple of the hour, walked in through the front doors.
It was Guy who started the attack first.
"I can't believe that the two of you would be stupid enough to have a child out of wedlock."
With that single sentence, a dam burst. With Guy having said his piece, the confrontation was left to Natalia and Anise, the two of them demanding in progressively louder and higher pitched voices answers to their questions, all while Jade occasionally threw in a comment or two that help their rants continue. Tag teamed as they were by the Princess and Fon Master, Luke and Tear, their faces growing a darker shade of red with each passing accusation, found their every chance to talk cut off, leaving them helpless to the assault. It wasn't until Anise spoke up in a voice that was more questioning then accusing that silence fell as the others considered her very good question.
"Hey guys, where's the baby?"
"Yes," Natalia said after a moment, her head nodding as if she hadn't just spent the past few minutes yelling at the couple before her. "I would like to see my nephew, and after we have become properly acquainted, the six of us have many things we need to discuss. Most importantly, the issue of you two becoming a proper family so as to avoid a scandal. But that can be for later. Where is the child? Did you leave him with a nurse?" As if she had just missed seeing the child they had all gathered there for, Natalia glared closely at the couple's empty arms, her voice at the end sounding a bit disappointed that the infant was missing. Finally finding their chance to speak, it was with blushing faces that Luke renewed the uproar once more.
"What in the hell are you guys talking about? What baby?"
"Come come now Luke," Jade said with a slight smirk as the others stared at the red-head in surprise. "Don't play dumb. We're talking about your and Tear's illegitimate love child."
With that, it was chaos once again as Luke and Tear sputtered their denials to Natalia's and Anise's renewed accusations. Standing off to the side, it was with confused and knowing glances that Guy and Jade turned to face the opening doors that led to the throne room.
Things were about to get good.
"What is this," Peony asked above the noise as he talked down the stairs towards them, his normal train of rappigs happily following along. "Guys, guys, guys," he yelled over their raised voices, continuing on until the arguing foursome had finally fallen silent. Looking each of them in the eye, making sure that he had gained their full attention, it was with a deep frown that he continued his walk towards them, his voice reflecting the unhappiness that was apparent on his face. "Come on guys, this is suppose to be a celebration! A party to show just how overjoyed we are that a new member has joined our little family! This isn't the time for you all to be going at each other's throats like wild monsters! Jade, explain." Turning towards his old friend, it was with a wave of his hand that the emperor motioned for him to proceed.
"Of course, Your Highness," Jade said with a bow as he stepped forward, drawing all eyes onto him. Pulling out the letter he had been sent almost a week ago, it was with a slight flourish that he unfolded it, thus drawing everyone's attention to the words inscribed upon it. "It would seem, Your Majesty, that the letters you sent out inviting everyone to this party were a bit confusing in their details. Tear, if you would please retrieve and read the letter that had been sent to you and Luke?"
"Ye...Yes, of course," Tear stuttered slightly as she pulled the piece of paper from her dress pocket, still flustered from the acts she had been accused of only moments before. The glow in her cheeks fading slightly as she read the letter, it was with a curious glance at the others that the words rolled off her tongue. "Hey Luke, Tear, I'm having a party in about a week, and I need you guys to be there. It's super important, so bring some presents for my rappigs and don't be late. Peony."
"You see," Jade said with a nod, his smile growing as Tear's confusion spread to the others as they themselves pulled out their own letters, examining them for the words that were different from the ones they themselves had read. "It would seem that someone, somewhere, just so happened to decide to have a little bit of fun." Reading out his own invitation for the others to hear, it was with a deep satisfaction that Jade observed the automatic flare of color within the couple's cheeks and the confirming nods that the others gave. "Your Highness, I believe that your own explanation is needed at the moment. If you would be so kind as to clear up the issue for our younger, more gullible guests?"
"Of course," Peony said with a nod, his own smile tugging at his lips as he turned to go back into the throne room. "Follow me." Leading the group into the throne room, the five young adults who were eager to finally get to the bottom the the mystery that had caused them so much trouble followed by the older, softly chuckling man, the group quickly found themselves looking into their reflections that were being cast back by the waterfall, twisted and turned by the shimmering sunlight that sparkled off of the water. However, it was not this awe-inspiring sight that held their attention.
That honor was held by the over the top, gaudy party decorations that had been draped across the room and the dark brown rappig that was currently curled up on the Emperor's throne, her nose gently nudging a bright pink puff ball that was buried into her stomach.
"There she is," Peony said happily as he trotted ahead of the others to settle himself onto the floor before the throne, his hand automatically reaching up to scratch the pet behind its ears. Watching as his other pets dispersed into groups of one and two, it was with a smile that another rappig, one that the group quickly was able to recognize as the one he had named 'Luke,' came to stand besides him, the monster's face seemingly set in a proud grin as he looked at the rappiglet that was nursing from its mother. Seeing their shocked faces, it was with a grin that Peony gestured to the family that had formed right before their eyes.
"Everyone, this little girl is my newest, well, second newest, rappig: Tear. She was a sneaky little one, I have to tell yah. If it wasn't for the fact that Luke had been acting incredibly cocky and over protective of her for the past few months, I would never have guessed that something was up between them. Even then, it wasn't until one of the maids found little Cocoa here in one of the guests bedrooms that I realized everything I had missed. She just went about her day, not showing a single sign that she was expecting, and made me a grandfather with only a couple of minutes to prepare." His smiling growing, it was with a sigh that he reached out to pet both proud parents at the same time. "I wrote Luke's and Tear's invite myself, since the rappigs are named after them, but the clerks must have just assumed I meant the people when I told them what to write. Heh, sorry about that. Now, who wants some cake?" Pushing himself into a standing position, it was with a flourish that Peony began ordering the servants that stood off to the side, preparing the elaborate meals he had demanded for the day.
With the many people he was supervising, the events that were happening amongst the group went on right behind his back.
"Heh heh, sorry Luke, Tear," Anise said with a shrug, her face scrunched into a smile hopeful of forgiveness. "You guys know how I get: I hear something wonderful and amazing, and I just can't help believe and act on it! Besides, if you two ever did have a baby, we all know it would be the cutest thing ever. So how could I not get excited?"
"I too must apologize," Natalia said with a sigh, her head bowed under the weight of Luke's and Tear's stares. "Upon reading my invitation, my mind jumped to the worse of conclusions. I am ashamed that I thought the worst of you, and I hope that my behavior can be forgiven."
"Me too," Guy said with a rub of the back of his head. "I'm sorry that I assumed you guys had a kid and never told us."
"...Oh, am I supposed to say something here," Jade asked with fake surprise, his eyebrow raising as the other members of the group turned to look at him. "Oh alright. Luke, Tear, I am so sorry that I assumed a perfectly logical outcome based upon the information I have been given. Next time, I promise to assume the most illogical thing I can think of until otherwise proven wrong. Can you everforgive me?"
"I really dislike you sometimes," Luke grumbled as Jade allowed his smug smirk to play across a face hidden by glasses, "but really guys, it's fine. I probably would have thought the same with those invitations."
"Yes," Tear said dryly as she leaned against Luke, his arm coming to wrap around her waist, "you would have." Smiling up at him to take the sting out of her words, it was with a sigh that she allowed her head to hall onto his shoulder, content to just let herself be held as he continued to talk.
"Actually Guy, Jade, Anise, Natalia," Luke said slowly, meeting the gaze of each person as he spoke their name, "there's actually something Tear and I do have to tell you." Gently placing his hand over her stomach to hold her even closer, it was with matching smiles that Tear placed her left one over his own, showing off the ring that had been overlooked until then.
To say that the answering squeals were loud would be the understatement of the century.