Tales Of Eternia Fan Fiction ❯ Because I'm Needed ❯ Chapter 4

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Man, you guys are lucky to get all these chapters at once. My readers on fanfiction.net had to wait ages for me to update! I'm a slow typist you see…
Anyway, I hope you like it!
Chapter 4
Sheena was upset, although she had to confess that she wasn't sure why. She knew it had something to do with Zelos, but he hadn't done anything any more stupid or perverted than usual. Sighing, she put her head in her hands and racked her brain, but the answer continued to elude her. It had started yesterday, when they had stopped to rest near the gorge, she was sure of that. Tai didn't look well, she had wandered off, and then Zelos went after her... Wait! Was she jealous of Zelos worrying about Tai?! As you can imagine, this revelation did nothing to lighten her mood.
'This is ridiculous! Why should I care about him? He's a perverted, idiotic philanderer and he's never gonna change!'
She felt tears prick the corners of her sad brown eyes, and hated herself for being so weak. She'd promised herself that she wouldn't allow any more distractions, that she wouldn't let anything else get in the way of her becoming stronger, but she couldn't help the anger which burned within her heart every time she saw Zelos flirting with his hordes of brainless fan girls. They didn't care about him as a person like she did.
`As long as he continues to act like this, I know he'll never commit to one girl… I'm not gonna end up as one of his cheap floozies!'
Sheena hadn't felt this lost in a long time. When she joined Lloyd's group, she finally felt as if she was doing something right for a change, or at least she did once she'd finally made the pact with Volt. She was helping to reunite the two worlds! So shouldn't she feel proud and worthwhile instead of miserable and confused? Shaking her head, she reached into her ribbon and pulled out a small bell, and felt a single tear trickle down her cheek as she held it close to her heart. And so, the summoner did the only thing she could think of to relieve the mixed emotions inside her. Sitting down, she closed her eyes and began to pray to her oldest friend.
'Corrine, I wish you were still here. I know that when the people we love die, they never truly leave us, but I miss the way we used to talk all the time. You would always try to cheer me up no matter how depressed I was feeling, and I really need cheering up now...'
The sound of footsteps approaching behind her brought her back down to earth. Not wanting to be caught crying again, she hastily wiped her eyes and shoved Corrine's bell back in the pink ribbon around her waist. Turning round, she came face to face with a brown, leather hip quiver, and then Tai was kneeling beside her, her ruby eyes filled with concern.
"Are you alright Sheena? You've been behind these trees for quite a while now, we were getting worried."
Sheena stared at her uncertainly for a moment, unsure whether her presence should fill her with dislike, relief or self-pity. She decided to try to forget the whole business. After all, it was hardly Tai's fault that Zelos was taking an interest in her; it was probably just the novelty of travelling with a new girl.
“I'm ok; I was just thinking about… stuff.”
She mentally hit herself. What a lame explanation! Tai looked as though she was on the verge of asking her what was wrong, but she must have decided against it and remained quiet, chewing her lip slightly. Sheena felt a rush of gratitude toward her; she didn't feel like talking to anyone at the moment. She forced a smile.
“Don't look so worried, I'm fine, really!”
Tai relaxed a little and brushed back a stray strand of hair which had come loose from her plait, smiling shyly at Sheena as she did so.
"I'm glad to hear it, you looked so troubled earlier. Anyway, dinner's almost ready so we'd better hurry back before it gets cold!"
"Great, who's cooking? Please don't say Raine!"
"No, we're safe”, she laughed, “Zelos is cooking today!”
Sheena's smile froze and instantly became fixed.
"You know once you get past his perverted side, he really isn't so bad!"
And with that, Tai turned and walked back to the others, leaving Sheena standing alone. Her eyes blazed and her smile had completely vanished. She felt as though the anger inside her could have reduced the surrounding area to ashes with ease. Why in Martel's name was she so angry?! Why did the very mention of him and Tai make her feel so depressed? Feeling too confused for words, Sheena glared at the clouds above and took her frustration out on them.
“Idiot Chosen!”
Meanwhile, Tai returned to the clearing were the group was resting and waiting for their meal. Zelos was standing over a large metal pot, which was carefully balanced over the smouldering coals of what had once been a campfire. Steam obscured the Chosen's view as he stirred the mixture, occasionally pausing to sample it and add more ingredients. He looked hot and bothered. It seemed as though something was troubling him whenever he tasted it, yet his intense blue gaze never left his creation as he worked tirelessly, one hand impatiently pushing a lock of flaming red hair away from his face. Tai had never seen him take anything so seriously before. By then, a strange aroma had spread throughout the camp, and she couldn't help but wonder what he was cooking.
"Hey, this smells really unusual. What are you making?"
Her sudden presence over his shoulder was unexpected, and he jerked back in surprise, very nearly knocking over the metal pot as he did so. It swayed ominously on it's stand before splashing the Chosen's fine, pink clothes with some of its contents, causing him to cry out in shock and fall over. He landed on the ground with a thump, cursing with some very colourful language, and then proceeded to moan in pain.
"Taaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiii!" he whined, "What's the big idea?! You find sneaking up on poor, unsuspecting, gorgeous guys funny or what?"
"Zelos! I'm so sorry, I-"
It was no use. The sight of Zelos sprawled on the floor, pouting like a little girl, and covered in bits of food was too funny for words. Some of his hair had come out of its white hair band and was sticking up in various different directions like wild fire and his expression was nothing short of hilarious. And so, predictably, she burst out laughing.
"Oh, I'm sooooooo glad that you find my current position so amusing”, came his sarcastic reply, "No, no! You just stay there and laugh! Don't bother helping me up in any way!"
“S-sorry, here let me help you,” she stuttered in between giggles.
She carefully stepped over the mess she'd caused and went to help him up. Unfortunately, she failed to spot the tomato. As she attempted to pull the fallen Chosen to his feet, she stepped back to steady herself and slipped, accidentally kicking the fruit's mushy remains into his face and making them both collapse into a tangled heap on the floor.
"Right, you asked for it!" he growled, wiping his face on his sleeve, "This means war!"
Tai's eyes widened as she saw him reach into his bag and extract a cooked potato, before squashing it between he palms of his hands and taking aim.
"No Zelos, NO!"
He grinned mischievously, "Oh yes, Tai, yes!"
She hastily pushed herself to her feet as she desperately tried to put as much distance between her and Zelos's mushy missile as she could.
"You can't escape from me, my food throwing hunny!”
“Hey! I didn't actually throw-”
Her pleas fell on deaf ears as the potato bomb was zoomed toward her, on course to collide with her head. Dodging out the way just in time, she felt the potato whiz past, narrowly missing her right ear. It was that moment that Sheena chose to emerge from the trees. Tai and Zelos could only watch in dismay as the summoner stepped into the vegetable's flight path, completely oblivious to the mushy fate which awaited her.
The potato hit her smack in the middle of her left cheek and exploded, showering her in yellow-white gunk. The impact made her yell and falter before whirling around to identify her attacker. As her eyes fell on the messy red head with potato innards smeared across his hand, her face contorted with fury.
“ZELOS!!!” she shrieked.
He cringed, “Now, now Sheena, it was just an accident, j-just a bit of harmless fun…”
“Harmless!? HARMLESS!!? Look at me!”
“Don't worry, even when you're covered in food, you're still my voluptuous hunny!”
“You are sooooo dead!”
She launched herself at Zelos in a fit of rage and began pelting him with any bits of food she could lay her hands on. Zelos ran away covering his head with his hands, screaming for mercy as the livid Sheena chased around the camp. Unfortunately, her aim wasn't very good, and her anger only increased every time she missed her red haired target. Chaos rained in the form of food, and soon everyone was covered from head to toe in fruit, vegetables, and something smelly and unidentified which they all hoped was cheese… Lloyd, Colette and Genis wasted no time in joining in the commotion, furiously pelting anything that moved with food remains. Raine and Regal abandoned their futile attempt at restoring order and settled for cowering behind Raine's barrier spell, while Presea stood confused in the middle of the battlefield, at a loss of what to do. She wasn't familiar with the concept of a food fight; she'd never experienced one before.
Seeing her distress, Genis grinned and grabbed her hand, blushing like mad as he did so but to excited to care.
“Come on Presea, join in!”
“Am I supposed to throw food?”
“Yeah, it's fun!”
She picked up a bruised orange and joined Genis and Tai, hurling the fruit with all her might. A cry of childish joy escaped the pink haired girl as the missile made contact with the back of Lloyd's head. She smiled. So this was what it was like to be 12 again.
Eventually, the food supply was exhausted and Sheena had run out of energy to hit Zelos with, so everyone collapsed into tired heap on the floor. Raine and Regal came out of hiding and began lecturing them all on their childish behaviour and how they now had no emergency food supplies, not that anyone was listening. Since all the food was gone and everyone was hungry after the battle, Zelos reluctantly served what was left of his stew, and refused to take some himself. Coughs and splutters came from everyone as they tried it, and he shrank back into the shadows, his face drained of all excitement.
“How much salt did you put in this Zelos!?” choked Sheena.
Presea shook her head, “This is not fit for human consumption.”
“I-I don't get it. You tasted while cooking right? How can you not have noticed?” Colette puzzled.
Zelos remained silent, his stony glare never leaving the ground.
“I never thought I'd meet anyone who's a worse cook than Raine,” Genis snorted, earning himself a thump from his older sister.
“Hey, hey! Don't place all the blame on the pretty one! Something really salty must have landed in the pot during the food fight. I couldn't taste anything wrong with it before”, he argued. His carefree attitude had returned, but Tai couldn't help but notice that it seemed more false than usual. The others continued to complain about the food, she was the only one who noticed as the Chosen slipped away into the trees. She stood up, her crystal glowing faintly.
“Zelos…” she murmured.
Go after him…
Making a mental note to ask it how dragon spirits always know what to do next, Tai crept away from the rest of the party and followed Zelos into the trees.
She found him kneeling at the edge of a small fresh water pond, furiously trying to wash the food stains out of his pink coat and gloves. Realising how filthy her own clothes were, she quietly pulled off her stained, blue-green tunic so she was left wearing her white under dress, and went over to join him.
“Hey Zelos.”
He stared at her in surprise for a moment, then shook his head and went back to scrubbing his clothes. “You have gotta stop sneaking up on me like that. Give me some warning will ya!”
“Sorry… You stew really wasn't that bad you know.”
“Yes it was. You're a terrible liar, you know that right?” he grinned.
“He-he, yeah…”
She watched him for a moment, wondering what would be the best way to ask her question. Thankfully, Zelos saved her the trouble.
“Come on then, I can tell you're dying to ask me something. Well I'm all ears, being the wise and endlessly talented person that I am.”
“If you didn't know how salty the stew was, why didn't you try it when everyone else did? Something was troubling you when you tasted it while cooking too.”
Avoiding her gaze; he pretended to busy himself with wringing the water from his gloves. “I, er, just wasn't feeling hungry, that's all.”
“That's weird, `cause I haven't seen you eat for days now.”
She could see that her questions were making him uncomfortable and sighed.
“I only ask because I'm worried about you Zelos.”
His expression softened slightly, “Thanks, but I'm a big boy now, I can take care of myself. Let's face it, I've had enough practise.”
“You mean… because you're the Chosen?”
He nodded, but looked at her as if he couldn't care less. “If you really wanna know, the reason I haven't been eating much is because all this cold food we've been having lately remind me too much of home sweet home, that's why I wanted to try and cook something hot for a change.”
“What do you mean?”
His expression was serious now. “We wonderful Chosens are respected in name only. We're pretty much prisoners in our own homes, always eating meals that are cold from being carefully tested for poison.”
“I… I had no idea. That sound's awful!”
“Yep, nothing good comes from being the Chosen.”
Zelos finished wringing out his wet clothes and got up to leave. He was grinning again, though it seemed considerably more fixed than usual.
“I think I'll head back now, not that I'll have been missed or anything!”
As he left Tai alone by the water, she reached out with her mind and briefly touched his conscience. To her surprise, she found that the contact wasn't as icy as before, and some of his barriers seemed to have weakened slightly. But only very slightly.
Dragon whispers filled her head as her crystal came to life once more.
He was lying about why he won't eat…
“Yes, but I believe what he told us about his past was true. It isn't much, but it's a start.”
End Chapter
Lol, I love this chapter, but I still want to know what you think!
So review! ^_^