Fandom: Tales of Symphonia
Length: 2,722 words (all drabbles are over 300 words except #1)
Pairing: Lloyd/Sheena, pre-series Zelos/Sheena
Prompts: [#001-007] 001. Angel, 002. Gravity, 003. Wounds, 004. Cry, 005. Fire, 006. Water, 007. Dark vs. Light
Disclaimer: ToS, not mine.
Warnings: Obviously, knowing who Sheena really is helps; Zelos is in 5, and 7 reflects on a scene near the end of the game.
Summary: For the tos_100 challenge at livejournal. One hundred legs of her journey, when she had nothing to lose, everything to gain, and someone to fight for. [Sheena centric]
This short fic collection’s full of mixed pairings and possibilities, so if that’s not your thing, here’s your warning.
Themes #1-7 (‘cause I couldn’t cry, ‘cause I turned away)
“So you really are determined to become an angel, aren’t you?”
It haunted her. The girl without the ability to speak, who voiced everything so loud and clear with more force than anyone else she had heard before; the one who burned that face, those eyes, that expression, into her consciousness. That expression of determination which showed her what the girl would do in the end.
And when she looked into her eyes, she knew that their thoughts were the same.
Because we love our own world, each of us. If it comes down to the end, I can’t let you win because of how many people it’ll hurt, how many lives will be lost that I was supposed to save.
But if it comes down to the end, I can’t hurt you to make sure my world survives. I can’t stop you and you can’t stop me and we both feel more than we should for each other’s worlds and if only there was another way. If only there was another way.
Isn’t that what we’re both thinking? she wonders more often than not.
If there was one number she was going to remember for the rest of her life, it would be 9.8. Measured in meters per second, the gravity constant. The rate at which the force of the earth had pulled her down, down, down, that one time, to land on hard rock at the bottom of a mine’s maintenance shaft…
And that had really hurt, damnit.
She tended to avoid pits and maintenance hatches after that, even if she couldn’t quite avoid the girl who tended to trigger all of the mishaps.
As long as she watched her step carefully from here on out, things would probably be more or less okay.
They had just emerged from a store, with her and the adults leading the procession. In that moment, she caught a glimpse of blonde hair toppling head over heels down the stairs, and sidestepped neatly in time.
Lloyd, who was in front of her, did not. Nor did Genis.
Everyone stopped and looked at the Chosen, who blushed, apologized, and tried to extricate herself from the mass of moaning and grumbling blue, grey, and red.
“I’m sorry, Genis.”
“Hey, stop apologizing, all right? It was just an accident.”
“I’m sorry.” The girl attempted to push herself up and take a step, but her foot caught against one of Lloyd’s scabbards and she fell back on top of them again.
“I’m sorry, Genis…”
Yeah, things would probably be more or less okay. As long as she kept sidestepping.
The first time she saw a severe injury was when her grandfather came home late one night.
It was complete with all of the trimmings – gore, makeshift bandages, red that she had been taught to call ‘blood’ but wasn’t sure of what that really meant until now. And even now, it was only a vague understanding somewhere in her head.
She asked him if he was okay, and she was concerned enough that he smiled and told her, “It’s fine, I’ll be up and early tomorrow, don’t worry about me.”
Her eyes stayed dry. If he said he would be okay, he would be okay.
If she couldn’t understand, the least she could do was to believe in what she knew.
The first time she saw her own blood, she had been sparring with sticks against Orochi.
The two of them had only been playfighting, neither having really been trained before, and before they knew it he had swung with too much force and she had lost her balance, skinning her arm against the tree. Her skin had stung, little pricks of red forming where the surface felt raw with that new burning sensation.
It was a new kind of awareness, one that brought her closer to understanding what her mind had touched upon before.
Her grandfather decided that they were old enough to start ninja training that day.
The first time she saw a man die was when one of their own was brought back to the village, mortally wounded.
He looked the same as when he smiled and waved farewell to her as she and Kuchinawa were chasing each other near the village entrance. As he smiled, said “See you later, you guys,” and walked out of sight, out of the village, out on a mission.
On his face were those same marks she had on her arm from when she had slammed into that tree. Although this time, there were more than just mere pricks of red oozing from the cuts. And the marks weren’t just on his face; they were on his arms, legs, torso, heart. Where his heart was, at least. And then she knew.
Her grandfather took them aside after that and tried to explain that this was what death was. Tried to explain to them, as young as they were, that the man would never come back, would never smile and wave to them again as he walked out of the village.
But by then, they were old enough to understand.
Through everything we’ve faced together, I’ve only seen you cry once. I don’t understand how you do it. Not that I can see you being sad for more than a minute, but…I don’t understand how you do it.
(Everyone shows signs of weakness. No one’s that strong, no one)
And you have enough of whatever that is that keeps you together to pass around, too. How many times were you there for me, when we were in Tethe’alla? I don’t know. How many times you gave me your shoulder to lean on, whether it ended up getting soaked or not, that I don’t know either. You even stood up for me when no one else would, from the very beginning.
(Thought it was just a trick, the village trains us to recognize these kinds of things)
Though, that comment to me in Luin? You…really didn’t need to say that. I thought you were just saying it to try to…I don’t know, to get me to like you guys or something.
(Never trust an outsider, you never know what they mean)
But now, after knowing you, I know that you could never have planned something like that, and I still don’t know what it was for. And you’ve probably forgotten the whole thing by now, anyway.
But whose shoulder do you have to lean on? Where do you go when you have the same problems that the rest of us have had to face? You’re the rock of the group, the one that doesn’t fall to false emotion. And yet you keep on smiling so easily, offering those words of hope, keeping everyone together.
I really don’t understand you.
(Do the others wonder too)
But I think that’s the mystery that keeps me here. With everyone.
(Because saving the world is not enough. Not for this. Not for you.)
“You’re a fiery one, aren’t you?” the Chosen said, smirking, the first time she met him. She had growled somewhat, which had only encouraged his jibes.
The fourth time, when they had started to get along better, he had commented on the fire in her eyes. Something inhumanly strong and fierce, everlasting, that would never burn out. She had blushed a little, but said he was ridiculous. She personally thought his own personality and appearance had more of that essence than any part of her did.
The last time before she packed up for the Imperial Research Academy, leaving him behind, he had commented on how a Summon Spirit of Fire would be the most compatible one for her, and she merely glared at him as she walked away and out of his line of sight.
The final time, before he left the human realm, his eyes had lost that spark and he was resigned to the fate that he cursed himself with. Her gaze burned into him, flaming and angry. Angry that he was such a damn fool. Angry at him, as his wings faded away, as he faded away, still with that damn infernal smirk.
He had faded away, like a dying fire, because he’d never had the essence that she believed he had. And, she supposes, she should’ve known all along.
But she didn’t, and he faded away.
The feeling of having to kill, the rush of needing to slash through skin and flesh – of needing to destroy – it was strong enough to override any and all sense.
Emotions cloud up judgment, so always calm down. Whether you lose someone dear to you, whether a companion dies before your eyes, whether the battle’s almost lost or won – keep your feelings in check, as though they don’t exist. As though they don’t matter.
As though they don’t matter.
It was one of the first things she had been taught as a ninja, and the one rule that she broke the most frequently.
But right now, even it didn’t matter. Because her companions – her friends – they were dying around her, ribbons and rivulets of blood flowing from broken bodies, bodies still holding their trusted weapons in death grips.
Red clouded her vision. It was like a mist, submerging her and swallowing her whole. And as she charged forward at the wicked angels standing there, hovering in front of salvation’s symbol with dark sneers, she threw it all aside. It didn’t matter now, all of the damn rules, because she was the only one left and she needed to kill whoever was responsible –
She blinked rapidly, completely taken aback. Water dripped down her face.
Lloyd stood in front of her with his emptied cup in hand, disregarding the contents trickling down from her head and creating little puddles on the floor. “Sheena, get a hold of yourself!”
The muddle of thoughts and rage in her head dissipated like smoke upon seeing him alive and standing there, leaving her stunned with nothing to say and anxiety and worry and oh no this can’t be what was I doing? flooding back into her.
Beware of illusionatory techniques. Certain creatures in the world greatly favor them, turning comrade against comrade, friend against friend, and watching the last one left standing regain consciousness again and finally shattering to the point of irreparability.
Another reason to keep her emotions in check. How could she have been so stupid?
She lowered her arms slowly, seals dropping to her sides.
“It’ll be okay. We’re okay. You’re okay. Everything’s going to be fine.”
She slowly sunk down on her knees, dazed, while he repeated his new mantra, ventured forward to hold her and comfort her as if she hadn’t just gone berserk and tried to attack him like a stranger he never knew. As if she hadn’t snapped and immersed herself in raw, powerful, dangerous feeling and everything that a warrior shouldn’t have.
But don’t become a nonfeeling fighter. It’s a delicate balance, but the ones that master it are the strongest ones of all.
She had a long way to go, she knew, and hated herself all the more for it. For letting her companions down again, almost causing their deaths. Just like before.
Lloyd paid no mind to it at all, selfless as always and still trying to calm her down.
“It’s okay, everything’s going to be okay…”
She just held on tighter, trying to feel and not feel all at once.
007. Dark vs. Light
He stands before her, clothed in red, clothed in fire. Whispering, hisses of sins and lies from his snake-like traitorous mouth. “It was your fault everyone died that day!”
She stands before him yet below him yet above him, somewhere and nowhere, staring in horror. “No, it wasn’t, it wasn’t…”
“If you were able to control Volt, the village leader wouldn’t have fallen into a coma! The ninja sent to the temple wouldn’t have died! My parents wouldn’t have died!”
Oddly, she feels like this has happened before, sometime, somehow. And she’s not sure why, yet she can’t believe it’s just another nightmare. “No, I couldn’t help it, I – “
Rage doesn’t hold back. “It was you! Everything was because of you! And you ran away. You left your mess for everyone else to deal with. You ran like the coward that you are. Why? Because it was your fault, and you knew it!”
And then, a figure also draped in red, yet such a different kind of fire. Like a beacon of light amidst everything else. And suddenly, his voice. “No, Sheena, it wasn’t your fault. You couldn’t have done anything about it. You didn’t know back then.”
“Sheena, are you going to listen to him? What a joke. Of course it’s your fault. He’s just giving you the soft, easy way out, the one without truth, the one without guilt. Can you really live with yourself, pretending like everything’s okay, like you weren’t responsible for so many innocent people’s deaths, for the destruction of so many lives? Don’t make me laugh.”
Something clicks into place, whatever it was that felt so wrong.
And then she finally knows, realizes the truth between reality and illusion, between truths and lies and dreams, things that should never happen again. “You’re lying. This is a lie. None of this is real.” She’s impressed, maybe even a little surprised, that her voice is so solid, somewhat strong.
He isn’t. He spits it out with a twist of his mouth. “You’ve grown weak, Sheena.”
Light stands by her side. “No, Kuchinawa. She’s grown stronger.”
He laughs, sneers like a slither. “So you’ve fallen in with them. You’re going to believe that nothing’s wrong, that none of it’s wrong. You’re going to keep a false happiness to avoid your real guilt. Foolish.”
She stands strong, stands tall by light. “Maybe I was once. But I won’t be taken for a fool again. Ever again.”
Sheena’s my favorite, by far. I really don’t like the way she’s portrayed half the time in fic, though. Either she becomes this pugnacious…harpy, or she’s the one whose role is nothing more than the girl Zelos cops a feel on. She has her share of happiness, angst, dreams, desires, and I-know-what-I’ll-never-have (but it doesn’t stop me)s, and she’s just so much deeper than that. So I really hope I’m doing justice to her in these.
This collection of stories will have Lloyd/Sheena and pre-game Zelos/Sheena. Honestly, I dislike Z/S. I don’t see the premise for it. Just because a guy is lewd towards a girl does not mean they have anything romantic between them. Besides, it’s pretty canon that Sheena likes Lloyd. He’s just too thick to realize it.
Uh, so yes. There will be 95 oneshots, and some might be connected and woven into backstories. There are several choice themes (5, plus several extra to make up for the fact that some of these oneshots are shorter than 300 words) with which I can maybe write a multipart fic.
Other author’s notes will not be as long, trust me.
Huge thanks to Dex, the amazing multipurpose beta who definitely helped spruce up 4 and 6, among others. If anyone’s interested in reviewing for characterization, I wouldn’t mind. Comments are great (you can leave them here or at ff.net, though I guess I prefer the latter? Or whichever, really, both are good XD), and hope you enjoyed :D
(PS: Damn, looks like "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage" - Panic! At The Disco" doesn't fit in the "music" box. That makes me sad. D: )