Regained Chances
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: Uh, full game I guess.


Finding Asch when he didn't want to be found was never an easy task. The boy had learned the art of hiding quite well over the years, but he supposed that was only to be expected. Asch had been kidnapped and held against his will, and when he had finally managed to escape he had only come to learn that he had been replaced by a replica and thus had nowhere else to go. And to add insult to injury the Oracle Knights hadn't exactly been pleased with the newest addition to their ranks, a child that Grants seemed to favor over all others. No, Asch hadn't had an easy time of it. Guy supposed it was a good thing that Van had "convinced" him to come along and keep an eye on little "Luke". Otherwise things might have turned out much worse than they had been. Not that everything was exactly peachy at the moment.

No, things were not well between them. At least, not yet.

The tension in the air was like a living thing, heavy and hungering, urging him to leave with all due haste before something happened that neither of them could take back. He wasn't going to though. Abandoning him was not an option, not anymore. Once he would have been more than eager to, but then again, seven years can even change someone as bitter as he had been. Not that he'd been willing to admit to that, oh no, Asch wasn't the only one who still nurtured his pride. But pride wouldn't solve the dilemma they were now faced with, so perhaps it was time for a bit of honesty. At the very least, it wouldn't hurt anything but his pride. He hoped.

Asch did not turn around as Guy closed the door behind him, nor did he flinch when the lock clicked audibly into place. In fact, he didn't move at all. Guy sighed silently as he walked further into the tiny room. Apparently Asch wasn't going to make this any easier for him, but he had suspected as much. Asch didn't trust easily, never had, probably never would, and his unwelcome incarceration by Van all those years ago hadn't improved upon that one little bit. He was expecting a fight. And perhaps he would get one, though not in the manner he was expecting.

Guy lightly cleared his throat as he stopped at the end of the single bed. The "inn" was a hole in the wall at best, Though, he had to admit that it was an excellent choice. While it might be small, it still appeared to be well tended. And well, yes, by all appearances there weren't any bug infestations which put it high on the list of unobtrusive and extremely welcome places to spend the night. And to hide, which was very much the point.

"Did Van send you to fetch me?" Asch asked bitterly, his voice nothing short of harsh as it cut the silence stretching between like the proverbial knife. As expected. He could be so very predictable at times.

"Nope," Guy answered flippantly with forced cheer, earning himself a startled glance over the shoulder from the young God-General. That was good, as long as he could get a response out of him then they could work through this. "He probably wanted to, I'm sure, but I left before he got the chance."

Asch turned slightly, just enough so that he could give Guy a thorough once over. He was still highly suspicious, that look he was giving him couldn't be anything but. However, he did appear moderately curious now as well, and that was even better. As long as he was curious, he would ask questions, and as long as he was asking questions then there wasn't as high a chance of him storming out like usual. So predictable, so easy to read, it was simple enough to see that Asch wore his heart on his sleeve, as the saying went. But it only became apparent if people actually looked, and so few ever did. Guy didn't like that, didn't like the fact that the situation had been engineered to turn out that way. And he liked the fact that it had all been brought about by his best friend even less. But Van... Van was a problem for another day. Today was Asch.

Guy shrugged. "I was worried," he explained simply, answering Asch's unvoiced, but painfully obvious, question.

Asch's eyes narrowed in mounting suspicion at Guy's nonchalant behavior. "I'm not going back," he stated flatly as he shifted slightly, his stance taking on the old familiar fight or flight routine. Guy smiled tightly at the situation. They had gone through this far too many times in the past, and frankly, he was getting tired of it. There was no reason for Asch to run away from him, not anymore. Perhaps there might once have been, but that had faded with the passing of seven long years spent learning the many intricacies of the boy who had once been Luke fon Fabre.

Guy shrugged again. "I didn't expect you to." Then again, had he ever been "fon Fabre"? Seven years were seven years, but he could recall enough. A boy who always strove so very hard to earn something infinitely precious from a distant father, something that he would never get. At the time, he had rather enjoyed "Luke's" fruitless struggles to be something that no one could ever hope to be. But now, now he just felt a bit sick thinking back on it, and especially at his own behavior back then, which had only exacerbated the boy's unhappiness.

Van was right. The Score had to be stopped from blossoming to fruition, but not by destroying people in the process. And certainly not by making the life of Lorelei's Flame even more miserable than it had been. It wasn't right. They all deserved the chance that the Score and Van seemed unwilling to give them. But Van... Van just didn't understand anymore... Had he ever? Sometimes he wondered.

Where had it all gone wrong?

Was it because of Hod? Or did it go back even further than that? He just... didn't know anymore. Nothing really made much sense anymore. Perhaps that was why he was willing to let go now, to finally give in to what had been sneaking up on him for so long. It might be the only thing he had left, if even that. Surely getting through to Asch wouldn't be that hard. He understood. He had to.

Asch frowned, his brows drawing together in growing confusion at Guy's odd behavior. "You understand, don't you?" he asked forcefully, as if he could make him do so even if he might not. "He wants me to kill everyone."

Guy tipped his head to the side, perching one hand upon his hip. Ah, so it was that then. Well, that wasn't completely unexpected. Even he was getting a bit queasy at some of the unnecessary seeming deaths. But was that all it was? Surely Asch's resolve sprung from something stronger than that, if it didn't then it would be that much easier for Van to lure him back. That... couldn't be allowed to happen. Not now. "How is that any different than what we've been doing this entire time?" He had to know... He had to know whether there was a chance to hope or not. Not just for his own sake.

Asch visibly flinched, but thankfully didn't back down. "Don't you understand? He doesn't just want me to kill the ones who will fight back." He shook his head then, his gaze falling to the floor as he curled his hands up into tight fists. "He wants me to kill everyone. All of them. It isn't just the people that you always said deserved it. It's everyone, innocent and guilty alike."

Guy nodded slowly when Asch finally looked up at him, his expression more open than it had been in a very long time. Desperate. Yes, there was still hope to be had, at least in this. They weren't too far gone just yet. Neither of them were. That was... that was good. Maybe they would have a chance now.

"I can't do that," Asch shook his head, his voice almost pleading now. "I won't do that. I have enough blood on my hands as it is, I won't add anymore. Not if I can help it."

"No, of course not," Guy murmured softly, doing his best not to cluck as he once might have. Asch wasn't a child anymore. He hadn't been one for awhile now, though he had done his best to ignore that little fact. He needed to stop treating him like an obstinate brat. Asch had only been difficult because he had been lonely... no, because he was alone. If only he had been able to let go sooner, perhaps he might have been able to make it a little better for him. But at least he could do it now. His hate hadn't gotten him very far in the end; it was time for him to find something stronger. Surely Mary would approve of that.

Yes, surely she would.

"I'm sorry I ever said that to you," Guy muttered sadly, "I was wrong." He had entered the service of House Fabre with the sole intent to destroy it. He'd deluded himself into thinking that "Luke" had deserved every little ounce of his hatred at the time. But that was foolish of him, childish in its flawed logic. If anything, Asch had become as much of a victim as he had. And he had only helped it along by being swayed so easily by Van to come join him, to help him. It was well past time for him to start making up for his mistakes.

Van was so... so... so very amazing. Even now that he was starting to realize the path Van's schemes were leading them down, he couldn't bring himself to hate his old friend. He was right. He had always been right. The Score had to be stopped. But Van's methods... he had a sinking feeling that Commandant Grant's methods would only end up sealing their fate in the end. The Score would ultimately succeed if his madness was allowed free reign. There had to be something they could do, something he could do.

Asch shook his head again and sighed. "You can go back now," he said blankly as he turned his back on Guy once more, trying to act as if it wouldn't bother him at all. But Guy wasn't stupid, he knew better than that. "I'll be fine."

"Of course you will," Guy chirped pleasantly as he finally crossed the distance separating them and placed a comforting hand on his fellow God-General's shoulder. "But I can't do that. You know what happens every time I leave you to your own devices. You start coming up with stupid ideas in that fool head of yours, and I always end up having to clean up after you."

Asch stiffened in the expected flash fire outrage. Perfect. "I do not!" he growled heatedly as he whirled around, his eyes sparkling with fury. Yes, Asch was thoroughly predictable in certain areas.

"Yes you do," Guy argued cheerfully as he wrapped his arms around his snarly charge and pulled him into an unwanted embrace. "They're endearing, I'll give you that, but they're still stupid ideas."

"They're not," Asch snarled as he pushed ineffectually against Guy's hold, "Stupid." He gave another useless shove and then sighed in a very put upon manner as he lay his head against Guy's shoulder and let him have his way. Again.

Guy smiled brilliantly at Asch's expected surrender. He never really fought very hard over things like this, he really did want it even though he wouldn't admit to it. He'd fight Guy for a little bit, of course he would. Asch still had his pride, after all, but he always gave up in the end. Really, who would argue against a stupid hug from him? But that wasn't all that Guy wanted, not this time. He was going to... no, he would be honest this time. It was well past time for him to stop dancing around the subject.

It wasn't hate that he felt in regards to Asch. It hadn't been hate for a very long time now.

"Don't worry," Guy murmured quietly as he reached up and began to softly stroke Asch's hair, "I won't leave you alone again."

Asch blinked, then glanced up at him curiously and quite effectively found himself pinned by the intense look his long time caretaker was giving him. "Guy?" he managed after a moment, his voice almost reed thin in its uncertainty. He couldn't possibly... could he?

"I don't hate you," Guy whispered as he rubbed his thumb gently against Asch's cheek, "You do know that, don't you?"

"I-" Asch began brokenly, then cleared his throat and tried again, "I had thought that maybe you didn't... but I couldn't be sure. You have ample enough reason to feel that way. I won't deny you that." He smiled weakly then and dropped his gaze again.

Guy smiled affectionately at Asch's shy antics. It was rare to catch him off guard like this, to get through the hard exterior he had built around himself. He was generally so snarly and unapproachable, but there were moments, just like this, that reminded him that Asch wasn't quite as far gone as Van had wanted him to be. And for that, he couldn't be more thankful. He still had a chance. They still had a chance. And really, he could be so damn cute when he didn't know what to do or how to act.

"Don't be ridiculous," Guy said breezily, knowing just exactly what he had to do now, "Who could hate such an adorable idiot like you?"

Asch stiffened in outrage once again at his words and jabbed him none too gently in the ribs. "I am not stupid," he grumbled irritably as he glared balefully up at the grinning fool holding him captive.

"Yes you are," Guy shot back cheekily as he gently yanked on Asch's hair, tilting his head back just a bit, "But don't worry, I like you that way." Then he grinned impishly, leaned down and gave Asch a quick peck on the nose. "In fact," he breathed suggestively, his grin turning into something far less innocent at the answering blush blossoming on Asch's cheeks at his obvious inflection, "I rather prefer you this way."

Then he leaned down further, and finally did something he had been denying himself for a long time now. And when Asch kissed him back, he knew that even if everything he had done up to now, and everything that he might end up doing, came to be for naught, at least in this moment, it was right. They had their chance now. He wouldn't waste it.