Lest We Become Monsters
by Meimi


Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with Namco or anyone who hold rights to Tales of the Abyss. It isn't mine, I'm just playing with it.

Spoiler Warning: Erm, mid-game maybe?


"Be careful with that machinery! It's not as sturdy as it looks."

Guy scowled disapprovingly at the two Oracle Knights who had just barely managed to avoid ramming the fomicry machine they were carrying into the doorjamb. He ignored their sharp replies of "Yes, Sir." and turned to glare unhappily at the long line of knights carrying similar machinery. Even for replicas, the organization's grunts left much to be desired in the way of intelligence. When compared to them, even Luke came off looking like a genius. But no, he wouldn't think about him right now. He had orders to follow, orders that he honestly couldn't say that he approved of. But they had come from Van, so he would carry them out. He just... wasn't happy about it.

He just couldn't see much point in further use of fomicry. Van had said that it was a necessary evil, one that had to be utilized to help free the world from the chains placed upon it by the Score. But so far, the only things he had seen come out of fomicry were more strife, more discord, more war and just more hate all around. True, there were some deviations, but only a few, and they weren't anywhere near being enough to make up for the orderly, dictated fate handed down to them by Yulia. Not even Luke-


Guy froze, then schooled his features into as bland of an expression that he could muster before he turned around and gave his fellow God-General an attentive look as she walked purposefully over to him. "Yes, Major, how may I help you?"

Legretta eyed his speculatively for a moment, then flicked her gaze down the line of Oracle Knights and their obviously unwanted burdens. "The Commandant wishes to speak with you."

Guy smiled humorlessly. The woman was far too dour and severe for her own good. And suspicious, she was so very suspicious of him. Sometimes he wondered whether it was jealousy, but he knew better. Legretta wasn't called the Quick for just her superior skills at firearms. She could read most people like an open book, and he didn't doubt that she had already determined the state of his shaky loyalty. It was... just so hard to trust anything or anyone anymore. Not even Van. And perhaps, just perhaps, his old friend least of all. "Here to relieve me then?"

"Yes," she answered simply, not even bothering to look back at him. Well, that was an obvious dismissal if ever there was one.

Saluting smartly, even though he knew that she wasn't paying him any heed now, Guy turned around on his heels and headed off. If Van wanted to see him about something, who was he to keep the Commandant waiting? Besides, hanging around Legretta made him feel like his emotions were being smothered out by her very presence. The woman was just so cold.

Not that he could blame her, all things considered. Legretta was as much of a victim of the Score as he was. But he liked to think that it hadn't destroyed him quite so effectively as it had her. He could still hope, after all, couldn't he? Surely that had to count for something in the grand scheme of things. Of course, hope didn't work quite so well when it had to constantly fight against doubt. And he did doubt, lord, but he doubted so very much.

It had been easy in the beginning, so very, very easy. Vandesdelca made such beautiful, heartfelt arguments about the evils of the Score. And he couldn't help but believe them. He had lived through complete and utter tragedy, after all. And it had all been thanks to Yulia's cursed Score. Why wouldn't he want to aid Van in his schemes for Luke fon Fabre? The brat had deserved far worse than what he had been given, and Van had assured him that Asch's life afterwards would be nothing short of miserable. It had been enough for him. And well, the replica Luke- No, the real Luke in his eyes, had been utterly adorable, more than worthy of being cared for by he and Pere.

He had regretted having to leave Luke behind, but Van had needed him. And at least Van had sent his sister along to keep an eye on the precious idiot. Guy had never gotten the chance to meet Tear, but surely Vandesdelca's sister would care for Luke to the best of her abilities.

If only he'd had enough time since then to slip off and go whack some sense into that idiot's hard head. Guy had been hearing rumors for awhile now, ones that Van might possibly try to keep from him if he ever let on that he knew. Luke was hellbent on opposing Van and his ideals, it seemed. And... he couldn't say with any certainty anymore than Luke was... wrong to do so. In fact, he could almost admire the fool's apparent determination. And yet, he didn't want to see Luke get hurt. It wasn't his fight. It had never been his fight.

Sighing, Guy shook his head and ignored the hazy hints of something that lingered just beyond the edges of his sight. Mary. His sister. He had been seeing her more often of late; and he was really starting to wonder whether he had finally gone mad or not. It would stand to reason. The more he walked down the path he was on, the more it seemed that insanity would be his final destination. Perhaps Vandesdelca had already reached that point and was simply waiting for him to arrive. It was a distinct possibility.

Fomicry was not the solution, yet Van seemed quite set on it for some reason. It was reason that Guy wasn't sure he wanted to know, but he had a sinking feeling that he needed to know, and soon, before it was too late. Or was it already too late for him, too late for them all?

Shaking his head again and doing his best to ignore the ghost that was trailing along behind him, Guy straightened up and brushed his uniform down as he neared the door to the Commandant's office. He would have time enough for further ruminations later, right now he needed to be alert. Van tended to frown when he wasn't at his best, and he truly did hate disappointing his dearest friend. Even if he might be turning into a raving lunatic, or might possibly already be one at that point, Van was still his oldest friend and most beloved confidant. He couldn't give up on him, not even if a part of him wanted so desperately to. His loyalty might be questionable, but he liked to think that he'd follow Van to the ends of the earth. It was a most pleasant dream.

Guy smiled fondly for a moment, but just a moment, then reached up and rapped his knuckles against the door. If only dreams didn't fade so swiftly in the light of day. He waited patiently for the telltale call of "Come in." before turning the knob and pushing the door open.

Van was there, as expected, standing in front of his desk and searching through the papers strewn upon its surface. Really, he was so orderly in everything else, and yet his desk was never anything short of being a disaster area. Would he never learn?

Chuckling softly to himself, Guy closed the door behind him and asked, "You wanted to see me?"

"Ah! Gailardia," Van said cheerfully as he straightened up, his task for the moment apparently forgotten as he turned around and swiftly crossed the room. Reaching forward, he grasped Guy's shoulders gently and raked him with a studious gaze, nodding a second later at what he found, or perhaps didn't find. "I'm glad that you're back, and thankfully, in one piece."

Guy scowled, though there was little ire to it, and crossed his arms, doing his best to act affronted. "I can take care of myself, you know."

"Of course you can," Van murmured smoothly as he wrapped an arm around Guy's shoulders and urged him further into the room. "But do please remember that it was once my job to make sure that you stayed in relatively one piece. Forgive me, but some habits are hard to lose."

Guy couldn't help but laugh outright at that. It was just like Van to say that, his brain was half stuck in the past it seemed. Not that he minded. Well, not much. But Van was going to have to give up the babying treatment one of these days. They were swiftly barreling towards a future that would most definitely not have time for such frivolity. "Ha ha, what did you want?"

Van smiled at him, but his expression was guarded, as if he truly were keeping something from his old charge, something very important. Strange, his friend had never been quite so blatant about that before. What had changed? "I know that things have been difficult of late," Van began softly, his voice soothing, "And it's true that I haven't told you everything. I just... didn't want you to worry too much about things that none of us can change."

Guy nodded slowly. Yes, that was true. But it was more than that, wasn't it? Van hadn't just been lying by omission of late, but Guy kept that observation to himself. It would solve nothing to give it voice now. They were too far gone at this point, too far down that hopeless road.

"And I know that it may seem as if I have forgotten about some things," Van continued to explain, seemingly oblivious to Guy's dark frame of mind, "But I haven't. In fact, I have succeeded quite masterfully in something. Something that I think you, my dear friend, will appreciate most of all."

Guy stood there, blinking up at the older man for a minute or so, until it became quite obvious that Van wasn't going to continue without some sort of prompt. "All right, I'll bite. What is it?"

Van grinned impishly, though it almost bordered on sinister, and shrugged. "Oh no, I'm not going to give it away. However, I do insist that you go to your quarters now. There's something waiting there for you, something that you've wanted for a very long time now. It's something that you deserve to have more than anything else."

Guy just gave him an incredulous look at that. Oh lord, what now?

Van smiled back at him serenely, turned him around and gave him a gentle push in the direction of the door. "Trust me. You'll like it."

Guy gave his old friend one more doubtful look before heading out. Why did those words, from Vandesdelca of all people, give him the most horrible sinking sensation in the pit of his stomach? Surely, it couldn't be that bad. Could it?


Guy eyed the door to his quarters nervously. He was just being silly. How bad could it be? But Mary was standing beside him, as transparent and ghostly as ever, shaking her head at him as if telling him to turn back now before it was too late. But it was already too late for him, far too late. And he tried to ignore her. He really and truly did. He didn't want to give in to the madness, didn't want to admit that he was most likely completely insane, but she was there and she was looking at him with those sad, knowing eyes and it made him feel like the worst failure ever. He had fallen so far, hadn't he? Too far for him to climb back out again. He must be such a disappointment to her, to them all. But he couldn't stop, not now, he had to keep walking forward. It was the only way left for him to go.

And so, he reached forward, turned the knob and stepped purposefully into his rooms. Whatever this might be, he would face it. He had to. Glancing around hesitantly, Guy was grateful for the fact that nothing seemed horribly out of place. That was a good thing. At least he had one constant left in life. Now, what was it that Van wanted for him to see? Frowning slightly, he stepped further into the room, closing the door behind him as he looked around again, his gaze growing sharper. Where was Van's little gift?

And then he saw it.

Guy froze, his eyes widening in pure, unadulterated shock and his breath catching in his throat as he saw, truly saw what was lying on the center table. He had never- Surely Van wouldn't have- But no, it was really there. And now, now he just didn't know what to do, what to think.

The Jewel of Gardios glimmered softly in the dim light of his quarters, as if the sword were beckoning him to it, to come take it up as he was meant to. It was a dream. Surely, it had to be a dream. This couldn't be real. Guy thought vaguely, his body finally remembering to breathe again as he walked stiltedly over to the table. But even in his dreams, he hadn't allowed himself to hope for this.

He had wanted so desperately to take it with him when he had left House Fabre, but there just hadn't been time. And afterwards, there had never been any time afterwards for such frivolous pursuits. But he had never stopped thinking about it. His father's sword... it shouldn't have been left in such a place. He should have taken it with him. But now, here it was, right within his reach.

Guy couldn't help the grin of utter delight that crossed his face as he reached down and grasped the hilt, lifting the beloved blade from the tabletop. Van had been right, he did like this little surprise of his. Well, more than liked to be perfectly honest. Guy hefted the blade, testing the weight and balance, and felt his grin widen even further at what he discovered. It felt... right, like it had been waiting just for him, and maybe it had. And for a moment, just a moment, he allowed himself to forget his unpleasant reality and almost remembered what true hope was.

But it wasn't meant to be, because just as he was giving the sword a practice swing, Guy saw something out of the corner of his eyes, something that was out of place. He stopped, just like that, his body still in mid-swing as everything that he could possibly feel seemed to instantly drain out of him, leaving him empty and hollow inside. That had been...

His shoulders drooped in defeat as his arms dropped down. His elation now effectively destroyed, Guy slowly turned his head to the side and eyed the body slumped up against the wall. The uniform was unfamiliar to him, but the hair, oh the hair, he could never forget hair like that. Even if he hadn't seen the son of a bitch in seven years, he would recognize Luke fon Fabre anywhere. But no, he was Asch now, his former life taken from him and given to a precocious replica, one who had been infinitely more worthy of it.

"There's something waiting there for you, something that you've wanted for a very long time now."

He should have known it was too good to be true. Van's gestures were never so simple, never so distinctly heartfelt. There was always something unpleasant to them, always some disturbing undercurrent. But he had hoped, and now that hope had fallen to ash. Damn the Fabres to hell anyway, did they have to ruin everything?

Snarling viciously under his breath, Guy took a step towards the figure huddled against the wall. Well, if the damn bastard wasn't dead yet, then he'd be more than happy to rectify that mistake. But before he could even take another step, Mary was there, standing between them, shaking her head resolutely at him, her eyes hard and unforgiving.

Why? Why would she deny him this? Couldn't she understand? That redheaded horror represented everything that he hated. Everything! "Mary, get out of the way please."

And then she turned her back on him.

"Mary?" Guy murmured quietly in shock. This wasn't happening. It couldn't be happening. She wouldn't do that to him. It was the madness, twisting her from what she had been, turning her into something that she wasn't. Yes, it had to be that. Surely it was that. But he knew better. Whether she was real or just a figment of his imagination, she always knew what was right. Always. It was only he who had forgotten.

And she was right.

Growling, Guy very deliberately set the Jewel of Gardios back down on the table and stalked over to the wall, his heated gaze never leaving Asch for a single second. He hated him. Oh, how much he hated him. The very sight of him filled Guy with utter disgust and an overbearing loathing. But Mary still wouldn't look at him, and he knew why. Because as much as he hated the original Luke fon Fabre, as much as he wanted to believe the brat to be a pure, distilled mirror of Duke Fabre and all the evils the man had committed in the past, Guy knew better. There was only one monster present in the room, and it wasn't Asch. It had never been Asch.

"I've really failed you, haven't I, Mary?" Guy hissed out through gritted teeth, parts of him still fighting against the horrible truth he should have realized ages ago. Shaking his head roughly, he crouched down and hesitantly reached out towards that curtain of blood colored hair, afraid of what he would find when he brushed it aside. If he was dead... if he were dead... then it would all be over. His doom would be sealed. The last of House Gardios would have become worse than what had destroyed it. "You should have saved yourself," Guy mouthed soundlessly to his sister as he forced himself to cross those last few inches and angrily swiped his hair out of the way.

Guy couldn't help but stare in shock. It had been seven years since he had seen the original Luke fon Fabre. And while logically he realized that Luke had been his replica, he still hadn't been able to prepare himself for the familiar visage that he now beheld. It was as if it really were Luke and not Asch who was sitting there slumped against the wall, his head bowed, his eyes closed and looking far too pale for it to be healthy. And for the first time that he could remember, Guy felt wretchedly ill at the thought that he might be dead.

It wasn't supposed to be like this. Everything was wrong. Terribly, horribly, inescapably wrong. Guy bit his bottom lip, fighting back both of the urges to vomit and cry like a broken child as he brushed shaky fingers against his cheek, skirting over his jaw as he reached down past his collar, searching for a pulse and hoping against everything that it would still be there. He couldn't be dead. He just couldn't.

At first he didn't feel anything, nothing at all, and he almost let the looming despair engulf him, almost let himself drown in it. Almost. But then there was something, a faint beat beneath his fingertips, and he couldn't even begin to describe the relief he felt in that very moment. It wasn't too late. There was still a chance for him, one last chance.

Not even noticing the lone tear that snaked its way down his own cheek, Guy reached forward, pulling Asch away from the wall and revealing a rather substantial bloodstain upon it in the process. Hissing unhappily at this new found discovery, Guy leaned Asch against him and ran searching fingers over his back until he discovered the source of the blood: just below his shoulder blade and dangerously close to his right lung.

"Legretta got you good, didn't she?" Guy muttered sourly as he probed at the very obvious gunshot wound. Damn, that was going to make things difficult. He wouldn't be able to treat it properly, there was no time. Van would be up to see him soon, of that he was most certain. If they were to have any chance at all, neither of them could be there when his old friend arrived, no matter how much he wanted to stay.

A confrontation with Van would serve no purpose, though it might possibly succeed in getting him locked up for the rest of his life. Death would most definitely be a luxury denied him, Van cared for him too much to allow that. And... he didn't want to fight Van, even though he knew that eventually he would probably have to. But not now, he wasn't anywhere near being ready for something like that right now, assuming he ever would be. They were friends, weren't they? Friends didn't do that to each other.

But then again, Van had been lying to him for a very long time now. He knew that, he had just been unwilling to admit it to himself. He had to now though, he couldn't afford to turn a blind eye to all the little questionable details anymore. Not now. This horrendous gift of Van's quite obviously showed just how much his dear, old friend didn't understand him anymore, if he ever had. It was time he faced the facts. Vandesdelca was mad, completely and utterly mad, and he had been dragging Guy down into the madness right along with him.

He had to stop himself before he fell any further.

And this would be a good start. To deny the monster within, surely that had to count for something. Nodding resolutely to himself, Guy hooked his arms underneath Asch and rose steadily to his feet. Strange, he would have thought the boy weighed more than that. Had he not been eating properly? Guy mused vaguely as he secured his grip, not even realizing that his mind had ever so eagerly slipped into "Luke" mode in regards to Asch of all people.

"Don't worry," Guy said softly as he shifted Asch slightly until his head came to rest firmly against his shoulder, "I'll get you back to where you belong. And maybe... I'll get myself back too."

He took a few steps towards the door, but stopped in mid-stride and gazed back longingly at the sword laying expectantly on the table He stood there in silence for several long, pregnant moments, then shook his head and looked away. He wasn't worthy of it. Not yet, maybe not ever. But this time, he would at least try to not put it and his family's memory to shame. He couldn't afford to be so blithely blind to reality anymore, not for anyone, not for anything. Not even for the people he loved.

Van was going to have to find his own way from now on.

And he, he had to find his.

Mary smiled sweetly as she trailed along after her little brother, a light that had almost been lost shining in her eyes. Maybe hope wasn't quite as forgotten as they had all believed it to be.

Go home, Gailardia, return to where you belong.