AN: I do not own the characters or franchise they belong to Namco.
Ahem, this is my take on why Kratos didn't wear that swimsuit, along with a few other things. Enjoy!
Tales of Symphonia
"Woohoo!" Lloyd shouted as he canon balled into a large basin of water.
The group were taking an impromptu vacation from tracking down Aska for the Summon Spirit of Light, Luna. In spite of help from Nova, the gang had hit a snag trying to locate the Linkite Tree, which could help them call the two headed bird and send him off to his partner, so they could get the last pact. (Raine wasn't quite sure where in Sylverant they could search for the tree, as they'd been practically everywhere, just last week they'd found an island full of Katz.)
So, after much posturing and arguing (as well as whining from Zelos) the group decided to make camp in the mountains near Palmacosta. The boys had found the perfect spot nestled in the winding valleys, a natural pond, from which water flowed in and out of, it was nice and secluded with trees surrounding it, and largely untouched by travelers. Being in the Palmacosta region, the weather was warm, the day was only slightly windy, and they'd recently finished getting the pact with Efreet. So while Raine and Regal discussed possible places to search, the others took advantage of the time to cool down and relax.
"Haha, this is great!" Lloyd yelled enthusiastically as he resurfaced he was wearing his pants and black undershirt leaving his signature red clothing and dual swords on the banks along with his socks and boots.
"You're right, it feels really good to finally get all that sand off from the desert." Genis commented from where he was lightly treading water.
"I know, it seemed even hotter there the second time around." The twin sword complained, "Why do the seals have to embody the Summon Spirits?"
The young half-elf looked at his friend deadpan, "You know the word embody?"
"Shut it, Genis!" Colette giggled from where she sat on a rock, fully dressed, but for her feet which dangled in the basin as she swung them two and fro. She'd expressed nervousness to show anything above her ankles when pressed, saying she was fine and successfully convincing the boys of it, too.
"I'm just glad no one was hurt badly." She said as she relaxed on her hands.
"Aw, don't I count anymore?" Zelos whined from where he was floating atop a submerged flat stone longer than he was tall.
"Psh, what are you complaining for? You didn't even fight!" Sheena called lazily from her spot on the bank laying on a blanket and sunbathing.
"But Sheena, just look at my hair! All that fire really killed it! And my beautiful face! Do I still have both my eyebrows?" He pointed and fussed at each one as the others snickered.
The Tethe'allan Chosen had had a bad run in with some fire birds and a fire golem and had come out of it black from soot. But that's not what made them snicker as the red head was indeed missing an eyebrow.
"Maybe if you're lucky, Zelos, it'll grow back into a uni-brow." Genis teased causing Sheena to laugh.
"Oh wouldn't that be a sight! His groupies would turn and run at the first look!" Zelos moved from his spot and swam over towards her.
"I bet you'd like that wouldn't you, Sheena?" He smirked in that perverted way of his, "If you'd wanted me all to yourself all you had to do was ask." Hearts were in his eyes.
"In your dreams, stupid Chosen!" Sheena huffed turning her head.
"Then why is your face all red?" He asked grinning even wider.
"Shut up before I smack you!"
Zelos tried to give his usual protest, but it came out garbled since his head was under water. Sheena pointedly walked back to her blanket and lay down again ignoring him. The swordsman finally came up for air and looked at the others.
"See! Wasn't that uncalled for?" He questioned as though his sentence hadn't just sounded like glug, glug, glug.
"Do you hear something?" Genis asked.
"Must be the wind." Lloyd replied both boys completely deadpan as they joked.
"The wind sounds like Noishe!" Colette stated brightly. The others sweatdropped.
"Aw, I'm so unloved. Sheena, I need you to make me feel loved!" Zelos pleaded to the summoner.
"Get away from me, you pervert!"
"Hm?" Lloyd tilted his head, "Hey, I think I do hear Noishe!" All action ceased as the others listened.
"It is Noishe!" Lloyd jumped up and made his way to shore excitedly. He hadn't seen his long time companion in a while. He toweled off as best he could, slipped his feet into his boots, and grabbed his swords just in case. Running back to camp he spotted white and green and a grin split his face as he hurried his pace.
"Noishe!" He shouted as he burst through the foliage eyes on the 'dog'. That was when his mind and happy attitude screeched to a halt at the sight of his friend. The animal was panting as he stood before Regal, Presea, and the professor, the elder Sage sibling examining the creature, for his coat was matted with drying blood.
"What happened?!" The teen gasped afraid the canine was badly hurt.
"We were just about to determine that." Regal said calmly though the set of his shoulders gave away his tension.
"It's not Noishe's blood." Presea observed softly.
"So he's okay, then?" Lloyd asked the professor.
"Yes, though I don't know about the creature that may have attacked him." Raine stated grimly.
*Woof, bark, whine*
"What is it Noishe?" The dual swordsman questioned the Arshis. He'd never seen him so frantic. The protozoan whined a couple more times, looked back in the direction he came, then whined again adding a small woof for emphasis.
"Somethings' wrong. He wants us to follow him." The boy glanced at the others worried.
Regal put forth his thoughts, "Perhaps someone is in trouble?"
At that the dog made such a racket that it drew the rest of the group back to the camp.
"What's all the yapping about?" Zelos wondered slightly miffed.
"Somebody is hurt! Professor!" Raine nodded and turned to the late comers.
"You four get a place laid out and the supplies ready! We don't know what condition this person will be in."
"Judging by the amount of blood on Noishe's coat, not in an optimal state." Presea said as the swimmers toweled off and moved to do as the half-elf ordered.
"Noishe, lead the way!" Lloyd urged the canine who rolled his eyes as if to say 'that's what I've been trying to tell you!' Never the less, the Arshis quickly led the teen; along with Regal, Raine, and Presea; to where the injured party had collapsed.
They were shocked at who they found.
"It's-!" Raine started.
"Kratos!" Lloyd finished horrified.
The angel lay in a heap on the ground, curled on his right side, his normally pristine Cruxis uniform was shredded and blood soaked. His spiky hair was also matted and hid his face, but he was clearly unconscious.
Raine knelt beside him, the others also drew near for a closer look, as she examined him. The swordsman had a bad cut on his head, deep gashes littered his torso and back. His left arm, which still had his shield strapped to it, appeared as though it had been chewed on with the large punctures it sported, the shield was all scratched and dented. There were smaller scrapes around his legs, his sword was in its sheath at his waist, and his breathing was both shallow and erratic.
Neither were good signs.
"These wounds are serious." The healer stated gravely.
"What could have done this?" Regal was equally horrified, after all, what kind of being had the ability to severely injure a Cruxis Seraphim?
"You'll help him, won't you?" Lloyd asked the professor. Raine bit her lip, the Seraph was in rough shape.
"Chances of a full recovery from such wounds, plus blood loss, and taking into account his enhanced form, results: undetermined. The likely hood of survival without assistance: very low." Presea told them.
"No! Professor, we can't just leave him like this! We have to try!" If Lloyd's outburst surprised the other two they didn't show it.
"Lloyd, this man is our enemy. It would hurt Cruxis more to lose one of their main leaders." Raine pointed out.
"What kind of talk is that?!" The teen argued adamantly, "Even if he is our enemy, we don't sacrifice people the way Cruxis does! Helping him is the right thing to do!"
"And what if he recovers and betrays us again? He could kill us!" The half-elf reminded harshly.
"I don't care! I'm not going to sit back and watch a person die when we could save him!" Lloyd declared, "And besides, he's been helping us when he didn't have to!"
"Yes, that is true." Presea interjected, "Kratos told us where to find Colette, if not for him, we might still be searching."
"But-" Regal cut the professor off to add his peace.
"It would be wrong not to repay him for aiding us, and he is injured, perhaps we could gain more information about Cruxis as he recovers." The manacles on his hands clinked as he appealed to the half-elf's logical side.
Raine weighed her options, staring at the faces gathered, they would not be moved from their decision.
"Alright," she sighed standing up, "But I hope you know what you're doing."
She sent Presea ahead of them to reduce the shock for the others and to better prepare the camp for their impromptu 'guest'. Lloyd helped Regal carry Kratos as gently as possible while Raine walked beside them working to stabilize him and slow the bleeding. Noishe aided them by leading them around trees through a clearer path so as not to jostle their patient unnecessarily. They hurried as best they could back to camp.
In spite of the warning, the rest of their group was still taken aback at the Seraph's state, as they walked out of the foliage and set him down carefully on the party's medical mat near the fire. The sight of the usually unruffled Kratos wounded so heavily had them all tense and shaken. They'd never seen him like this, the stoic man always seemed so untouchable if not invincible, and even though he was their enemy, it was sad.
"Whoa! What happened to him?"
"Will Mr. Kratos be alright professor?"
"What are we doing helping him? He's a traitor!"
"Quiet, all of you!" Raine snapped at the rapid fire questions from some of their most vocal members.
"But-" The half-elf stared at Zelos and he clammed up. The elder Sage's 'Healer Mode' could be twice as scary as her 'Ruin Mode' at times.
"Go get some clean water." She ordered him then adjusted her command, "Colette, go with him."
Turning to Regal and her brother she said, "Genis, Regal please start a fire and prepare our medicinal items and bring me the bandages. Presea, we'll need more wood."
"Understood." The pinkette walked back through the forest as the two best cooks in their number took care of their assigned jobs.
"Sheena," Raine addressed the card user, "I want you to take Noishe and find out what attacked Kratos, we need to know if it's still a threat."
The shinobi nodded and followed the protozoan into the trees as the creature retraced its steps.
"What about me professor?" Lloyd wondered being the only one of the group without a task.
"Help me get Kratos' armor off." She told him as she took the man's sword and shield setting them aside.
Together, with the dual swordsman, she removed the elaborate armored coat, the angel was utterly limp, as the teen supported him, so Raine could get his arms through the heavy material. They hesitated slightly at the black turtleneck underneath, this was the closest anyone had come to invading the man's privacy.
On their regeneration journey, Kratos had been rather shy about his hygiene, always preferring to wash up in seclusion when they had to camp. They'd never witnessed him cleaning his clothes or even changing shirts when they became mud caked from bad weather and fighting. Yet, the next day they'd find him sitting before the fire with his swallow cape drying next to him and hair still damp from bathing. Raine had wondered at his actions, most males who traveled wouldn't have been so closed off, but he'd even ignored Lloyd's attempts to get him to cool down after training.
She shook her head and motioned for Lloyd to maneuver the auburn haired Seraph so she could remove the shirt.
By now Zelos and Colette had returned with their buckets of fresh water, which Regal silently poured into a pot to boil and sanitize. Genis had finished laying out the medical supplies to her specifications, which he knew by heart, and all of them were softly observing the two attend to their patient, quietly murmuring.
Raine ignored the conversations in the background, as she pulled Kratos' arms through the sleeves, then lifted the shirt, being gentle with the areas where it was beginning to stick from all the blood. A tiny chain rattle revealed the angel's locket that Lloyd had fixed once, but that wasn't the only thing.
Lloyd gasped lowly, "Professor, he...Kratos' back it's-" He couldn't finish.
Beneath all the blood and red wounds were the evidence of scars. They crisscrossed the swordsman's torso and when Raine looked at his back she found they were even worse. She wasn't sure what to make of it, when Regal knelt next to them scrutinizing the age old injuries.
"These are whip marks." He said grimly, "They can't be more than two decades old."
"Whip marks?!" Lloyd breathed his eyes wide a shocked look on his face. The others were quiet, either too stunned or unsure of what to say, but they had equally horrified and grim expressions on their faces.
Raine shook her head out of its stupor and removed Kratos' locket putting it away for safe keeping.
"Help me clean him up."
This time Regal, Genis, and Colette helped them. The be-shackled martial artist assisted her in cleaning the gashes, her brother prepared and passed them medicinal supplies when asked, and Colette distributed towels and fresh water when needed. She made many trips back and forth to the basin dumping out the dirty water among the rocks, the off red color seeping into the stones.
Zelos kept back, silently observing, a thoughtful gaze in his eyes as he watched Lloyd and the others try to save the life of the traitor. At some point Presea returned with her armload of wood, and he softly brought her up to date on the happenings, as she added some logs to the fire.
Once cleaned, Raine healed the auburn swordsman as much as it was safe, applied gels and potions in the more critical wounds, then bandaged him. She directed Lloyd and Regal to transfer the swordsman to a cot and covered him with a blanket. It had been noon when they found him, now it was early evening.
"I've done the best I can. Now it's up to him." The silver haired medic sighed. That had been grueling, "He'll need to be watched for signs of a fever, an infection at this stage could still kill him."
"I'll do it." Lloyd volunteered automatically staring at the helpless Seraph lying on the bedding swathed in bandages, the scars were still visible. He couldn't hate this man, not after seeing him like that, and those scars...what story did they tell? Why did he have them?
"We'll watch him together then." Raine said while she began picking up the makeshift infirmary, "He needs a healer to watch him for any unexpected problems."
"Might I suggest then we take paired shifts? A healer and a guard in case he tries to cause trouble." Regal proposed picking up the mat to be washed.
Raine nodded, "That would be best, yes."
"What would be best?"
The group turned as Sheena stepped back into camp with Noishe by her side, she waved at them.
"Sorry I took so long everyone. Noishe here led me all the way to the coast." She indicated the protozoan.
"Whoah! He carried Kratos that far?" Genis wondered.
"Yeah, the place was a mess." The summoner grimaced a bit from the memory, "Shame too, it looked like a nice area."
"So, my sweet voluptuous hunny, tell us, what did you find?" Zelos asked with an inquiring smirk.
"It's hard to describe, really." Sheena began, "The surroundings had been destroyed by magic from what I gather and there was blood everywhere, just coating everything. The largest piece of what was left of the monsters, that I could find, indicated Kratos was attacked by dragons. Lots of them."
"Dragons?" Colette tilted her head in confusion. The Palmacosta region wasn't known to have dragons.
The shinobi nodded, "It looked to me like they might have been the same ones from Rodyle's ranch."
Everyone gave Kratos grim appraising looks, they remembered how dangerous those creatures had been, the Seraph's state made a bit more sense now if he'd fought an entire clutch of them. The ones who hadn't battled the angel before were quite impressed.
"What, but I thought Aska destroyed them all?" Lloyd puzzled over, brows drawn together as he thought.
"Perhaps some escaped as the ranch began flooding." Presea reasoned.
"Or they were set loose when the Renegades took over." Everyone stared at Zelos, "What? We all know those guys aren't the most trustworthy. Whose to say they wouldn't 'accidentally' set loose Rodyle's pets for someone else to deal with?"
"You know it's scary when you start talking sense." Sheena had a perturbed look on her face.
"And there he goes again." Genis sarcastically stated as Zelos started up his usual routine which was about to get him pounded.
("Shut up or I'll smack you!")
"Just when you think he starts to mature." Raine said and both she and Regal sighed.
Genis cooked that night, after the camp was put back in order, to the relief of his friends when Raine offered to do it. His meal was met with the usual gusto, but there was still an underlying tension among the party.
Lloyd was prone to stealing glances at Kratos and had taken it upon himself to clean the man's armor and weapons, both Colette and Zelos were observing him. Sheena was nervously fiddling with her cards counting and recounting them. Genis was cleaning the dishes, but was also glancing in Lloyd's direction.
Presea was sharpening her ax and no one could tell if she was bothered by what had become the elephant in their camp. Regal was staring into the fire and Raine was reading from her book and adamantly ignoring everyone. Noishe, who was now all clean, lay next to the injured swordsman, his ears twitching and body curled around the angel's protectively. He snipped at anyone except Lloyd who dared approach.
"It must have hurt...those marks." Colette finally broke the silence softly and everyone turned their heads and stared unabashedly at the resting patient with looks that would have made him fidget if he were conscious.
"I wonder how he got them." Lloyd voiced what they were all thinking, "And why."
"The absence of scars on his arms and face would indicate the person was careful in his treatment. The angling of the strikes suggests they were aiming to leave reminders and not simply inflict pain." Presea said in her monotone when she was drawing from her computer like knowledge.
"So, he wasn't tortured but...punished?" Sheena asked.
Regal nodded, "It would appear so. A torturer wouldn't leave someone's features so intact, it would be the first thing they mar."
"And you'd know that how, old man?" Zelos scoffed and the martial artist shifted.
"The soldiers were not kind to prisoners that misbehaved, particularly half-elves if one were unfortunate enough to be caught." He spoke lowly recalling some memory or other, "They always went for the face."
Zelos and the others sobered at that, it was rare for the blue haired chef to speak of his time as a 'guest' of Meltokio's dungeons, but when he did they were quickly reminded there was a reason he said so little.
"But what could he have been punished for?" Lloyd practically whispered.
"Hm..." Raine hummed to herself and recalled the locket in her robe pocket. She took it out examining it.
The holder was small, hardly larger than the center of her palm, and colored gold though whether it actually was she couldn't tell. The chain that Lloyd had repaired all those months ago had held together well. It was like any other ordinary locket, plain and smooth. She opened it.
A glimpse of a smile under auburn hair, an arm wrapped around the waist of the one next to him, her head resting on his shoulder, eyes gazing lovingly at the tiny bundle between them sweetly sleeping.
Raine shut the locket with a snap, stunned. Things began to click into place in her mind as theories wound around the innermost parts of her head.
Despite the pounding of her heart, that told her she was onto something big, the elder Sage held in her thoughts from the others, until she could confirm the truth.
"It won't do us much good to speculate." She said replacing the locket in her robes, "The only one who could tell us is in no shape to do so. I suggest we ignore it for now."
They all went back to their own business, except for Lloyd. The twin swordsman continued staring at Kratos lost in thought, his eyes hard, reflecting the seriousness of his musings.
"Coin for your thoughts?" The teen startled and turned to see Zelos next to him.
"Huh? Uh, sure I guess." He replied.
Tethe'alla's Chosen nodded at the still form on the pallet, "Strange isn't it, seeing him like that?"
"So...why didn't you finish him?" Lloyd looked at the red head confused, "I mean, he betrayed you, right? You had the opportunity to get some payback for the way he turned his back on you all, but you didn't. I know you're still angry about it, so why?"
The young man stared at Zelos and saw he was genuinely curious about the answer. He glanced back at the Seraph and let out a breath.
"I don't know." Lloyd sighed thinking, "I thought, that after the last time, I wasn't going to hold back, that I would finally get the chance to avenge Colette and what he did to us, but..." He gazed off towards something unseen as he sorted out his feelings, "I used to get so angry at him during the journey, he was always distant, and I believed it was because he had a superior attitude, that we were beneath him. I think I was reminded of that at the tower and it hurt to think that I'd been right all along, but..." Lloyd refocused on the Cruxis agent on his shallow yet steady breathing, "When I saw him lying there, unable to do anything to defend himself, it reminded me of the times when he wasn't distant, when he'd been our...friend...and, I realized Kratos is a person, too, that he has a right to exist like everyone else."
"A right to exist, huh?" Zelos murmured to himself contemplating and Lloyd looked at him.
"You think so too, right?" He asked.
"Hm, it's a pretty new concept for me. Let me think about it for a while." The magic swordsman replied.
AN: Yeah, so a bit darker than what you expected, yes? Part two up tomorrow.