What is this? A new story when I haven't updated my other ones in months?! Brain, what are you doing?!

But yes, its a new story, and lookie there, a new fandom as well...oh boy. Writer's block hits me at the weirdest and most awful times... but again, I wasn't gonna force my way through it, or else my writing would suck and then everything would get real bad.

Surprisingly, this story was originally written as a school assignment for my Honors English class. Look at that, school is good for something! But anyway, this story saved me from my writer's block, and I am extremely proud of it, so I thought why not post it?

Please note that the characters are NOT based off how they are in the game/anime, Tales of the Abyss. The personalities are how they are in order to fit the situation I had to write about. So yeah, I know that Natalia isn't related to Luke and Asch. She just seemed like the most logical choice to pick for the sister. Also, the title was part of what I had to work off of, so don't blame me if you think it sounds lame (but don't worry, I think that too). Nonetheless, I still think it is an amazing story. But what do you guys think? Lemme know, pretty please? Enjoy!

DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN TALES OF THE ABYSS! The storyline/plot is the only thing I claim ownership of!


Missing in Venice

This time, she had gone too far.

Luke knew Natalia couldn't help it. His small, frightful sister couldn't help being the way she was. He knew none of it was her fault. It was nobody's fault. He knew that.

But when he had walked into their father's office one day and found an immobile body on the ground and Natalia crying, he knew he could no longer ignore it.

Natalia was different. A blind person could see that. She never wore her hair up in pig tails or down in curls like other little girls. Her hair wasn't even long, it was short, and tickled her forehead as it peeked out from under the cap she always wore. Plus, she never wore poofy dresses or skirts., or even dressed up at all. She only wore one of her father's old, white, button down shirts, her mother's black dress pants, and an old, white cape she had found in the attic.

Natalia was different, and Luke knew that. Not just in something as simple as appearance, but something else; something bigger, deeper.

Natalia had magic.

Luke knew that.

xxx

Natalia stood on one side of the desk, her eyes wide and her hands clutching her staff to her chest. Luke stood opposite her, his hand outstretched. Natalia watched him fearfully, her hands shaking like leaves in the wind.

"Natalia, come on," Luke said softly. Natalia's forest green eyes flicked up to his.

"...Why?" she asked quietly, shifting her body to clutch her staff to her shoulder. Luke sighed.

"Natalia, this can't go on anymore."

"What can't?"

"This. You. The magic. It can't go on anymore. At least not like this." Natalia watched him, his words running through her mind. Luke let his hand drop.

"Natalia, please. Listen to me," Luke pleaded. "I'm your brother. I love you. I want to help you." Natalia, still watching him carefully, slowly lowered her staff. Luke took that as a good sign and reached his hand back out.

"Please, Natalia. Give me the staff."

"No!" Natalia shouted suddenly, swinging her arm out and pointing her staff at Luke. Luke stumbled back. "No, I won't give it up! It's Mommy's! Mommy told me not to lose it!"

Luke's heart clenched. He had hoped that he could've avoided bringing their mother into this, but apparently, Natalia was dead set on whatever the woman had told her.

"Natalia, I won't lose it," Luke insisted, ignoring the mention of his mother. "I'm not saying you can't have it, I'm just saying-"

"No!" Natalia shouted again. "I can't trust you! Mommy said not to!"

"Natalia-"

"No! I won't give up Mommy's staff, I won't!"

Luke grit his teeth and tried to swallow his anger, reaching his hands up and gripping at his fiery red hair.

"Natalia," Luke said slowly, " you need help. Help that I can't give you. But someone else can. Don't you want to talk to someone who knows what you're going through?" Luke moved a hand out of his face, using it to push a clump of hair off his forehead.

"Someone else you can trust?"

That got Natalia's attention. She lowered her staff slightly, looking away from her brother. She looked scared and unsure, her anger having flown out the window.

"...I'm scared, Luke," Natalia said quietly. "I want Mommy."

Luke didn't know what to say, so he kept quiet, his hands falling back to his sides.

"Why Luke?" Natalia asked him, her tone sad and desperate. "Why am I so different?"

Luke looked down at his feet.

"I don't know why, Natalia," he replied. "That's why you need help. You need someone who does know."

His sister was silent, her hand falling to her side, the staff falling with it, freeing Luke of it's threatening gaze.

"You don't know...or you don't care?" Luke looked up to see Natalia glaring at him. "It's not that you don't know. You don't care! You're just like the others! You don't care what happens to me!" Natalia shouted, her voice rising with every word.

"Natalia, I'm your brother! Of course I care-"

"No!" Natalia screamed, shaking her head violently, her cap falling loose and covering one of her eyes. "No, you don't care about me! You're just like the rest of them!" Natalia was near tears now, her shoulders shaking with sobs she wouldn't let go. The staff came back up, the gem on the end glowing brightly.

"Mommy was right! I can't trust you!"

"Natalia, no!"

And then Luke's world went dark.

xxx

Now here Luke was, wandering the streets, day and night, looking for his sister. It had only been a few days, maybe three or four, but to the redhead, it felt like a year. Natalia was out there, scared and alone, with magic coursing through her veins; magic she couldn't control and that Luke knew nothing about. He'd long since picked up that Natalia's magic tended to go out-of-control whenever the small girl was upset or angry. That must have been what happened back at the office those few days ago. Natalia had been upset, and the little control she had over her power slipped, and it burst out, like a lion shooting from a cage.

Natalia had probably expected it as much as he had, which was little. She probably only saw him fall, then put two-and-two together and realized she'd done something. Maybe she had thought she'd killed him, like the man Luke had found her crying over all those weeks ago. Then she'd left, disappeared without a trace.

Maybe that was what she wanted. Maybe Natalia really did want him gone, out of her life. Maybe she didn't want him out here, looking for her.

But Luke had made a promise, a promise he was going to keep.

Even if it killed him.

xxx

After another day of fruitless searching, Luke returned home. The Italian manor his family owned seemed so empty with his parents and Natalia gone.

The redhead unbuttoned his coat and tossed it on the ground by the door. He made his way to the kitchen, planning on grabbing a glass of water and then going to bed.

On his way to the kitchen, Luke passed the door to his father's office and, out of habit, looked towards the door.

Luke stopped.

The door was ajar.

Slowly, Luke made his way to the door and pushed it open. He looked around the small room.

"...I closed this door..." Luke mumbled to himself. "...Didn't I?"

Walking in, Luke gazed around the room once more, his eyes landing on the desk. A bag lay on its wooden surface. Curiously, Luke advanced towards the desk, picking up the item in question and opening it. A piece of dark colored fabric lay inside it. Luke reached in and pulled it out, and his eyes widened when he realized what it was.

It was the blue wizard cap Natalia always wore.

Luke felt like a hand had wrapped around his throat and was squeezing. He couldn't breathe, couldn't think. His mind only processed one word.

Natalia.

It was like his head was a broken record that kept playing the same thing over and over. The hand on his throat tightened and his heart pounded like a drum as Luke noticed a piece of paper sitting on the desk, next to where the bag had been.

The bag falling from his grasp, Luke reached out and grabbed the paper. The drum pounded in his ears as he brought the paper up to his face.

Stone Bridge, West side.

Tomorrow, noon.

Be there.

xxx

The drum continued to pound in Luke's ears as he made his way to the West side of the city. Thankfully, the stone bridge the note referred to was not very far from the manor where Luke's family lived. The stone archway soon loomed ahead of him, and the redhead quickened his pace.

Upon arriving at the designated meeting place, Luke found another piece of paper taped to a brick of the bridge.

'Pull' it read.

Confused, Luke pulled off the paper. Nothing happened. Trying to find a deeper meaning, the redhead tried pulling on the brick the paper had been taped to. It slipped out with ease, about halfway, and then a whole section of stones slid open, like a secret passage one would find in a movie.

Taking a deep breath, Luke walked inside, the stones sliding back into place behind him.

It was dark. It was that kind of pitch black dark that makes your heart thump inside your chest. Luke couldn't see his hand when he held it up in front of his face and his feet tripped him twice, even though he was walking down a straight path.

Luke felt like something was closing in on him, waiting for the perfect moment to strike him down. It was as if some unknown voice was telling him to turn back. But he didn't, couldn't. Not with Natalia down here. She was waiting for him, counting on him.

She needed him.

Luke started to run.

xxx

After what felt like hours but was really only a few minutes, Luke saw a light. It was only a single torch on the wall with no others in sight, but its glow filled the redhead with hope. Tired and panting, Luke slowed back down to a walk and continued through the passage.

Not long after, he found her.

Natalia was sitting on the ground, her back against the wall. She had her knees tucked under her chin and her arms curled against her stomach.

"Natalia!" Luke called, running towards his sister. Natalia looked up, and her eyes widened at the sight of her brother.

"Luke!"

Luke reached a hand out as he neared his sister.

Then he felt a sudden weight on his chest and he flew backwards, landing on the ground with a thud.

"Luke!" Natalia screamed.

Luke looked up. A boy, who couldn't have been much older than he was, stood over him. His hair was long and red, dark red. So dark it reminded Luke of blood. He wore a black shirt, black pants, black boots, and black leather gloves. But what caught Luke's attention were his eyes. They were a dark, emerald green.

The same green as his.

Memories flew into Luke's mind: stories and pictures, fights with his parents and days spent wishing.

Luke knew this boy.

"Asch..." Luke said, and it wasn't a question, it was a statement. Luke knew.

The boy's eyes widened, then narrowed into a glare.

"How do you know my name?" Asch demanded. Luke stood up and faced his look-alike.

"What, you didn't think I'd recognize my own brother?" Luke asked.

"B-brother...?" Natalia squeaked. Asch continued to glare at Luke.

"So you knew about me?"

"Not much. Just that Mom and Father gave you up when we were little."

"You don't know why?'

"No. Are you going to tell me?"

Asch smirked. "No."

"I didn't think so."

Silence filled the small tunnel, with Natalia looking lost, Luke feeling confused, and Asch showing no emotion but anger.

"I...I don't understand..." Natalia said eventually. "You two...you look so much alike..."

"We're brothers," Asch snapped.

"We're twins," Luke corrected. Natalia gasped.

"T-twins?" Asch rolled his eyes.

"She doesn't know?"

"No. Well, she didn't. Mom and Father never told her."

"But they told you?"

"No, I found out on my own. I was looking through some old photos, and I found one of you. Then things just...came together..." Luke looked down, then back up to his brother's face. "I asked about you, all the time. They never told me anything."

"Because they didn't know anything!" Asch yelled suddenly, and Luke took a step back.

"H-Hey!" Luke protested. "Don't get mad at me! It's not my fault!"

That was the wrong thing to say.

"Of course it's your fault!" Asch snapped. "All of this is your fault!"

"Why is it my fault?!" Luke demanded. "If I knew and could've done anything, I would've fought for you!"

Asch let out a short bark of laughter.

"Ha! You'd change your mind if you knew why they gave me up!"

"Then why, Asch?" Luke asked. "Why'd they give you up?"

"For the same reason they left!" Asch said angrily. "Even you you have to know that, you dreck!"

Luke froze. The same reason they left...?

No...

Asch smirked again.

"Heh. Don't believe me?" Asch mocked. "Well, believe it. The proof is sitting right there." Asch pointed to Natalia.

"M-me?" Natalia squeaked again. Asch turned on her.

"Yes, you!' he yelled. "You're the proof of everything! You're the reason why they aren't coming back!"

"...W-who?" Natalia asked. Asch was quiet, then slowly broke into laughter. He swung back around to face Luke, a hand going to his hip.

"You're kidding, right?" Luke didn't say anything. "She still thinks that Mommy and daddy are coming back for her?" Asch laughed again, his hand smacking his forehead. "Priceless!"

"Stop it, Asch," Luke warned. His twin smirked again as his laughter died away, and turned back to Natalia.

"Listen, sweetheart," Asch said. "Mommy and Daddy aren't coming back. They're gone."

"Asch-"

"Why?" Natalia demanded quietly.

The smirk not leaving his face, Asch held out his hand, palm up. Before the small girl's eyes, multiple colors of sparks shot from his palm, lighting up both his and Natalia's faces.

"That's why," Asch said, as the sparks disappeared. "I'm just like you, kid. I'm magic."

Natalia didn't say anything. She looked over at Luke, who's head was down, his bangs covering his face.

"D-did you know...Luke?"

Luke didn't move.

"Of course he didn't know!" Asch replied. "He wasn't supposed to know I even existed! That's why I was given up!" Asch turned to glare at his twin, who tilted his head up enough for his eyes to be visible. "I had to go so you wouldn't end up like me!"

"Magic isn't a disease!" Natalia said suddenly. "You can't just catch it! You're given it for a reason!"

Asch crossed his arms and turned, no longer facing either of his siblings.

"Smart kid," Asch said. "Sadly, not everyone knows that." The redhead turned back to Natalia.

"What you just said, was exactly what I said the day before they shipped me off. I told Mom and Father that being around me wasn't going to taint Luke. They didn't believe me. I was gone the next day."

"There's something I don't understand," Luke said. Asch looked at the other redhead. "Mom told Natalia the same thing, before they left. 'You have magic for a reason.' Mom even gave Natalia that staff." Luke lifted his head, and matching pairs of emerald eyes met. "Why'd she do that, if they hated magic so much?"

"It was mine," Asch said.

"What?"

"That staff Natalia has? It was mine."

Luke looked over at his sister, whose face was buried in her knees.

"Then why did she-"

"I don't know!" Asch interrupted. "I wasn't there!"

"...Then where were you?" Asch looked away. "Where were you, Asch? All these years...where have you been?"

"...Everywhere," Asch said. "I was just...around. Never really leaving, but not being here either." Luke didn't understand what the other was trying to say, but then again, there was a lot about Asch he didn't understand.

"Y-your magic..." Both twins turned to look at Natalia, who was looking at Asch. "You...you can control it?" Asch scoffed.

"Of course I can! Do you think we'd all be here now if I couldn't?" Asch crossed his arms and looked Natalia dead in the eye.
"Magic to me is like breathing. It's easy." Natalia looked back to her knees.

"...I've killed with it before," Natalia said quietly. "I've killed people...with magic..." The small girl looked to Luke. "I thought I killed you, Luke..."

"Natalia-"

"If only you had," Asch said. Luke glared at his twin.

"What, Asch? Wishing me dead already?" Asch returned the glare.

"I've been wishing you dead for years, dreck!" the redhead snapped. Luke recoiled, drawing away as Asch stepped closer to him.

"I've wanted you dead since the day I left," Asch stated coldly. "And not just dead, but suffering. I wanted you to suffer the way I suffered." Asch held out a hand, and Luke felt something he couldn't see wrap around his wrist. Asch clenched his hand into a fist, and pulled it towards his chest. Luke flew towards him, stumbling and falling forward. Asch reached his other hand out and grabbed Luke by the collar of his coat, pulling the younger redhead's face closer to his.

"You had everything," Asch said lowly. "You had what I wanted. You were who I wanted to be. Normal. Accepted. I lost everything," Asch tightened his grip on Luke's collar, "because of you."

Luke reached his own hand up and grabbed Asch's wrist.

"It wasn't my fault you were born with magic-"

"This isn't about the magic!" Asch shouted, and Luke flinched. "This is about you, and me, and Mom, and Father, and her!" He pointed behind him to a scared and confused Natalia. "Magic is not in the equation."

Asch's eyes drifted away from Luke's, his hold on the other boy lightening.

"I'm not ashamed to have magic," he said. "In fact, I like having magic. It's part of who I am. That's not why I hate you."

Yeah, don't feel the need to sugar-coat anything, Asch... Luke thought to himself. His brother hated him. Despite barely knowing the boy, Luke had to admit that stung.

Asch's grip tightened again.

"I hate you because you were born."

Luke blinked, having not expected such a cliché answer. "...What?"

"Oh, come on!" Asch said, looking back to Luke. "Even you should be able to comprehend that!" At his brother's blank stare, Asch sighed loudly and dropped the other redhead's collar. He crossed his arms.

"Look, we're twins, right?"

"Yeah."

"We were born at the same time, right?"

"Yeah..."

"So that means..." Asch let his words trail off. Everything clicked in Luke's mind. He stared at his brother, his twin, his look-a-like.

His opposite.

"You hate me because they chose me," Luke said quietly. "They gave you up, but...kept me. If I had never been born-"

"Then I wouldn't have been chosen. I wouldn't have been picked over anyone else," Asch finished. "Exactly."

"So...when did hate become revenge? When did you become so dead-set on killing me?"

"I wouldn't call it 'dead-set.' It was a thought, a plan I tried to execute every now and then, but never did." Asch's gaze drifted off again. "Actually, getting you here was a half-hearted attempt at it." Luke blinked.

"So...you took Natalia, wrote that note, brought me here... all with the intent of killing me?"

"Yes." The simple answer sent shiver up Luke's spine.

"And...and are you?"

"...No."

"No?"

"No." Asch looked back to Luke, his eyes narrowed once again in a glare. "And that doesn't mean that I care about you or anything. I just don't see the point in it." Asch uncrossed his arms and walked towards Luke, who leaned back, expecting Asch to do something to him. But his twin just stood there.

"I didn't expect you to know about me," he said. "I didn't expect you to know my name, or know about how I was given up. And now that you know everything else, I don't see a point in killing you. I figure I should just let you be on your way and walk through life with my story on your shoulders, knowing what you did to me."

"It was silent, then Asch walked past Luke, their shoulders brushing.

"Take her and go," Asch said as he walked away. "There's nothing left for you here."

Natalia stood on shaky feet and ran to Luke, wrapping her arms around his waist. Luke held on to her, thinking, remembering.

You need help, Natalia. Help that I can't give you. But someone else can.

"Asch, wait!" Luke called, turning his head to face his brother's retreating form. Asch hesitated, then stopped walking.

"What?" he asked, not turning around. It was Luke's turn to hesitate. Should her really say it? He looked down at Natalia. Her forest green eyes met his emerald ones. She seemed to know what he was thinking.

"I trust you, Luke," Natalia said softly.

That was all Luke needed to know.

"Asch... Take Natalia with you."

"No."

"Asch, please."

"Why should I?"

"Because she needs you." Slowly, Asch turned to face his siblings. "She has magic. Magic she can't control. She needs help...and I can't help her." Luke thought about what he just said, then smiled down at his sister.

"You aren't the one who's different, Natalia. I am." He looked back to Asch.

"You can help her, Asch. You know what she's going through. Surely you had trouble learning to control your magic."

Asch thought for a moment, then walked over to the two and crouched down in front of Natalia.

"It's hard."

"...I know."

"Does it scare you?"

"...A little. Sometimes."

"Don't be scared." Asch sighed lightly, then stood up and faced Luke.

"...OK," he said. "I'll help her."

"...Thank you." Luke knelt down in front of his sister, and she hugged him, something she hadn't done in months.

"I'm sorry, Luke..."

"Don't be. You have nothing to be sorry for."

"...I love you, Luke."

"I love you too."

Luke stood up, Natalia's arms falling from around his neck. Asch reached out and grabbed Natalia's wrist. Both twins looked to each other.

"Will I see you again?"

"...Maybe."

Luke sighed softly, knowing that was the best he'd get out of his brother for now. But the redhead refused to believe he'd never see him again. Their paths would cross again someday, he was sure of it.

Luke reached down and ran a hand through Natalia's short, blond locks, before brushing past his brother and walking down the hallway.

He'd done his job. He'd kept his promise.

Keep Natalia safe, Luke, his mother had told him. Always protect her. She needs you.

It wasn't me she needed... Luke thought. That's just what Mom wanted to believe. She knew, deep down, who Natalia really needed. She just hadn't wanted to accept it.

Luke walked out into the sunlight and headed home.

xxx

As Natalia watched her brother leave, his words from the day she'd left echoed in her mind.

Don't you want to talk to someone who knows what you're going through? Someone else you can trust?

Natalia looked up at her other brother.

"Hey, Asch?" Asch looked down at her. "Can I talk to you?"


4,248 words, not counting this A/N. Good Lorelei, no wonder it took me two days to type this! But, in the end, I prevailed, and again, I love this story. Hope you guys love it too! Please keep in mind that, once again, the characters are NOTbased off the real characters, I switched some things around to fit the story.

I still can't believe it was school that led me to write this. Definitely the best thing I have ever written. Now just wait a few months and watch me hate it. Man, my pride fluctuates too much...

Quick shout-out and thank you to Kazegami-inkpot and halfdemon-kai! These guys helped me decide to post this story at all, and are helping me through my newest one. You guys are the best! Thank you! And also thank you to my bestie Kota, who motivates me to be the best I can be in everything I do. I love all three of you guys!

Anyway, review please! And have an awesome day!

~Valerie(SonicGirl)