ADVERSARY

Guardia Castle, 1004 A.D.

The drops of rain fell like angels from the heavens, as their wings gently brushed against the window,

leaving their feathery streams of water astray. His face was fixed by the glass, and had been for quite a time now, but he took no notice. He was deep in thought, his mind growing ever darker in this chamber devoid of life all but himself. At last he broke through the emotional stone that encased his body and left him bound staring into void. He threw himself upon the couch. A deep sigh escaped his lungs, and he hid his face from no one in particular.

When she tells me she loves me, what am I supposed to say? I want to say that I do as well...I do more than anything. But how can I? She doesn't accept me for who I am...I'm not meant for this kind of life. This...childish fantasy has grown old and died within me. I'm coming to grips on what really is important to me...

The door opened, and the too-familiar sound of her footsteps penetrated his silence.

"Crono? Are you in there, honey?" The artificial sweetener in her words made his stomach turn. He pretended to sleep, hoping that she would leave him in peace. But instead..

"Ahh! What the hell!?" His torso jerked upward as she jumped on him, giggling. He put a hand to his diaphragm, trying to ease the pain.

"Wake up silly! You've been in here all day. I shoulda known you'd fall asleep. Now c'mon downstairs. Father is taking us to look for furnishings for our new wing of the castle. Oh isn't it wonderful Crono? Soon we'll get married and have our own section of the castle for ourselves!" He rolled his eyes and slammed his head against a cushion.

I don't want a castle...I don't want to buy furnishings...I don't want to be a prince...and...I don't want...

He commanded his thoughts to stop. He didn't want to even think like that. Turning over, he brought a smile to his tired face.

"Okay...I'll be right down..." She kissed him on the cheek and bounced out of the room. Once again he slammed his head against the cushion. "Ugh...why do I put up with this...day in and day out...all these damned royal customs and...her father..." He rolled over onto the cold, stone floor. "...every day makes some screwed-up comment about me, and how I don't fit in...and how I dress like a ruffian...shit, Crono. Why do you take it?" He walked to the window again. "There's gotta be someone in this life of mine for me...someone who likes me for what I am...not what they want me to be..." he mumbled with a sigh. "Yet somehow I doubt she's downstairs with her father..."

- -

"Yeah, so that was when we went to this building full of hundred-year-old chairs and met the Duke of Masaloft...can you believe that?" Crono said as he lay on his back and tossed the little rubber ball up in the air, catching it and tossing it back up again.

"What, that you met the illict governor of a third world country?" mused Lucca, over her papers. She was twenty-one years of age, as was Crono, and her hair had grown long, shining with a purple luster. She was indeed very beautiful, in a natural sort of way, and her smaller, thinner glasses actually complimented her looks.

"No, that they actually have buildings full of hundred-year-old furniture. I mean, who really cares?" He turned his face towards her, still keeping the ball going.

"Well, to each his own I guess." She said, and shortly followed with "Will you stop that! Thats not a toy!" He sat up and smirked, and in jerky, robotic motions, he set the ball on her dresser and retracted his arm. "Besides," she started, "don't you have lunch with Marle and her dad in a few minutes? You should get goin'." He was silent for a moment.

"I...don't think I'm gonna go."

"What?"

"I don't wanna go. They made me so uncomfortable yesterday...more than usual...I don't think I'm ever going back to that place again."

"Aww...but the Masaloft people will be so sad!" She teased.

"Yeah, well, when someone asks me what medium I use in my Martial Arts...I get a little irritated." He grumbled. She couldn't help but laugh at this.

"No way...I refuse to believe anyone, even royalty, could be that stupid." Crono chuckled, but then refrained and looked sullen again. She moved over to him. "Whats wrong? I just meant it as a joke...I wasn't..."

"No, its not you. Well...it is you, kinda. Er, what I'm sayin' is..." He stammered, trying to clear his mind.

"Spit it out already!" She slapped him on the back, affectionately. He emitted a noise that was something of a sad cross between a laugh and a choke. He swallowed hard and summoned his voice.

"I...I really miss hanging with you like this...like when we were kids...we were inseperable, remember? Everyone was always making fun of us, teasing us, saying 'oooh, Crono and Lucca are in loooooooove.' But we never let it get between us...nothing could ever pull us apart. But...its like now, I hardly see you anymore...I like have to run away from my girlfriend to hang out with you nowadays...sometimes life really sucks." His eyes became a little foggy, and he turned away.

"Ahh, I undersand you...I know what its like to have a demanding schedule. You can't always throw everything away for your friends, ya know." She tried to pass it off, but he remained serious.

"But I don't think you understand what I'm trying to say..."

"Well, what are you trying to say then?" He looked away again.

"This hurts so bad...but Lucca...I don't think I love her anymore" His words brought an agonizing period of silence, neither one of them sure of what to say. "I've tried to avoid it, but you can only play along for so much time before you start to realize how unhappy you are, you know? It's just not what I thought it was, you know?" Lucca smiled sadly. He always said "you know" whenever he was upset about something. She took a good long look at him, studying his movements she'd come to know so well.

The way he bit the inside of his lip, trying to stop his face from twisting. The way his jaw was clenched as an output of the building tension within him. The way his hands wrung themselves out, and he kept blinking his eyes to stop anything from coming out of them. It was all part of the way he tried to keep himself composed, like the Kensai warrior he was. However, when his knees started to bounce up and down, she knew he was having a very tough time. His lower lip inverted into his mouth, and he closed his eyes, his body quivering. She knew she needed to do something, or he'd run from her house and get into trouble, like he always did when he was upset and alone, so she did the only thing she could. She slipped her arms under his, and pulled him closer. To her surprise, he welcomed her in, and put his arms around her shoulders and buried his face in them.

She felt his tears sink into the fabric of her white shirt, and his breath came in short gasps as his body shook. She rested her chin on his shoulder, and just held him, a wounded child, in her arms. He let go of his self control completely and just sobbed into her shoulder, not caring the slightest about how much of a fool he must've seemed to her. She pulled back a little bit, allowing him to look up at her. He looked hurt and confused, angry and forlorn. A million emotions were forged into his face, and she said to him with a smile, "Aw, I love ya, kid." He smiled at her, and his face lightened a little. He knew she meant it.

- -

She watched from across the room as he lay wrapped in her blankets on the bed. She'd given up on sleeping, as daylight was due in a few hours, and so she sat, watching his eyes flutter and listening to him breathe. The slow patterns of inhaling and exhaling made her drowsy, but she had determined herself to stay awake tonight, and she wasn't one to give up on self-commitments, either.

She hadn't realized she'd dozed off until a cold chill blew through her open window, scattering papers everywhere.

"Mmph? Wha? Ah, damn..." She sat up quickly, and soon acknowledged the sharp cramp in her neck from sleeping in a hard, wooden chair. Standing up, she was able to strech it out enough for her to be able to do what she needed to do. Her first order of business was to get the papers together, which wasn't terribly difficult to accomplish, except for the ones that landed on a sleeping Crono. She plucked them off of his body, and piled them all together as she placed them in a drawer of her desk. Then she threw her arms up to the windowframe, and pulled it down gently.

Something made her stop.

Her nose found a scent among the aroma of the outside world, a strangely familiar one, that seemed quite out of place. It was a clean, icy smell, that she knew she'd noticed many times before, and she knew where, too.

She hurried downstairs, being careful not to wake her parents. She slipped out her front door, and down the steps, around the front of the house to the side where her window was. It was just before dawn, the sky was beginning to lighten slightly, just enough for her to make out his form standing off to the side of her front yard. His back was turned to her, his cape rippling in the pre-daybreak winds, and the icy chill grew stronger as she approached him.

"Hello, Lucca." He said to her, still staring off into space.

"Hey, Magus" she repiled, waiting for him to turn around. He didn't. "Erm, is there something you wanted to say to me?" she threw the question into the wind.

He was silent.

"Are you okay?" She tried. No response. "Magus, what's going on? Why are you here?" He took in a slow, deep breath.

"Can you feel that?" He murmured. What was he talking about? The breeze? The dew on the grass? The new coat of paint on the house?

"Feel what?" She asked him uneasily. Although Lucca and he had been friends for some years now, he still could be somewhat frightening at times.

"The Black Wind...it screams in rage...I can't ignore it, even for a short while..." Her spine shivered. The way he looked at her and stated it like such a fact made her feel cold and weak inside. Her knees started to give, but she forced herself to stay standing.

"What does it want?" She asked, wearily. He fell silent again as his eyes closed slowly and his head lowered slightly. "Magus, whats wrong?" She asked. Concerned, she walked closer to him, and without a word, his cloaked arms enveloped her. Surprisingly, his body was warm, and his cape shielded her from the cold breeze. It was then that she realized how tired she was, as her eyelids began to sink, and she clung to him, slipping gradually into unconsciousness.

"It's been a long time." He whispered.

- -

"Hmmph...?" Lucca mumbled as Crono tapped her for the fifth time. He rolled his green eyes and patted her face a few times.

"C'mon Lucca, get up. Do you know how late it is?"

"No, and I don't particularly care, either." She grunted, slapping his hand away. "Okay, okay. I'm awake. Happy?" She stretched her neck and arms.

"Not that I mean to impose, but I smell some very nice goings on in the kitchen, and I think I'll just head on down there to investigate." He said, grinning as he started out the door. He stopped and pointed his finger towards her. "Wow, hey, that's some fancy blanket you have there. Where'd you get it?" He asked, amused. She looked down and was shocked when she saw that Magus' cloak had been laid across her. The thought of their short rendezvous brought a smile to her lips.

"A friend."

* * *

"Thanks a lot guys! Later, Lucca!" Crono yelled over his shoulder, waving as he left their house. Lucca watched from the door as he turned his back, and began his journey home. She saw his face fall meloncholy once again, his disposition darkening as he pulled his jacket together tightly and tucked his head down slightly, trudging onward.

After he'd left her field of vision, she sighed and slowly closed the door. To her surprise, her father was sitting in the chair behind her. His eyes seemed to look deep into her soul, and his face was kind, yet concerned. "You really like him, don't you?" Taban speculated.

"Oh, Dad! Please don't start this again..." She said, exasperated.

"I'm sorry Lucca, you just...I dunno. You're such a pretty girl. It's a shame you don't have anyone to..." He started.

"Dad! Please!" She almost screamed at him. She whirled around and raced up the stairs, while Taban hung his head in shame.

* * *

She slammed the door to her room, and threw herself upon the bed, crying softly. For quite some time she remained sedentary, her emotions pouring out her eyes. When at last she felt she could cry no more, she rolled over on her back, staring up at her cieling. Why had she been crying? She chuckled slightly at the fact that she honestly could not remember what had made her so sad. Perhaps it was the draining effect that seeing Crono in his darkest moments had on her, or perhaps it was a release of the stress she'd been under lately. She took a refreshing breath of air, and rolled over onto the floor.

"Agh! What the hell is this?" Something very hard jabbed up into her back as she fell. She jolted upward, and turned her neck to find that she'd landed on Crono's katana. She rolled her eyes at the huge infraction in his warrior code he'd just committed by leaving his sword unattended, and she got to her feet, lifting the blade as she left the room with it.

- -

"If I do encounter my enemy, I will not submit to him."

His fluid motions loosened his muscles, and he fixated his eyes upon the trunk of the Great Oak with the intensity of an eagle.

"I will stand, a fortress, in his path."

He drew his arms downward, slowly, and brought his elbows to his sides in chun-bi.

"Should he continue to persist, I will destroy him with honor."

His left hand rose to guard his face, while his right hand barricaded his abdomen.

"For being defeatable lies within him."

His knees bent slightly, eyes narrowed.

"Yet being undefeatable lies within me."

His fists drilled into the bark of the tree, splintering it with every strike. Continuously he persisted, boring a gaping hole in the Oak. The blows grew harder, and more intense did Crono's anger become, that his concentration became clouded, and he struck less and less with the correct surfaces of his hand. Eventually, the pain became too much for him to bear, as he paused his attack, looking at his torn hands. The though of him yeilding in pain, while his enemy still stood strong drove him into a wild frenzy. He stepped back, glared at the tree, and hurled himself forward, as he sprang into the air, knees chambered. Just as he was about to release his striking leg, he heard a voice behind him.

"Crono!" It yelled in shock. He twisted his head around in mid-flight, throwing himself completely off balance. It wasn't long before his body collided with the tree in a very painful way. A huge section of flesh was raked from his shirtless chest, and scrapes ran up his bare arms. With a dull thud, he hit the ground, headfirst.

In a matter of minutes, Crono opened his eyes and groaned. Before his face, he saw the familiar, yet hazy purple hair of his best friend above him.

"Are you okay?" Lucca inquired, caringly. "You almost killed yourself there." She added with a soft laugh.

"I'm okay...my head hurts, and I...arggh! Dammit! What is that?" He felt a sharp sting burn his chest. Lucca pushed his shoulders back to the ground.

"Just hold still. I have to clean your wounds before they can be properly healed." He started to object, but felt the sting of her astringent once again, and his complaints ceased. The burning sensation eventually subsided, and his cuts began to feel slightly numb and cool. He sighed, exasperated.

"Man, this really sucks. Ouch!" He grumbled. She reached into her pocket and produced a small crystal bottle. Her hands popped off the cap, and she began to rub the liquid into Crono's wounds. Within seconds, he breathed a huge sigh of relief as his injuries began to mend.

- -

She tapped her painted nails against the marble table as she gazed out her bedroom window. It'd been almost two day's since she'd last seen him, and she wasn't sure whether to be worried or angry. She'd half-suspected that he may have been up to something, but couldn't really bring herself to actually believe it.

The lace curtains brushing into her face brought her out of her daydream, and back into reality. She gave a brief glance at the clock. It was almost five-thirty. She huffed in frustration and started out of her room, stomped down the spiral staircase, and ran through the front gates, ignoring the guards' greetings and farewells.

* * *

Nadia carefully followed the path through Guardia Forest, seeking the exit that led to Truce village. The forest had been cleared of monsters, so her journey was a little less tense. Not very long before the way out of the wood, she thought she'd heard something. Spinning on her heel, she froze, hoping whatever it was would sound again. Sure enough, it did. It was a human voice...no...two voices. A male and a female, both strikingly familiar. She silently crept through the thicket until she could see who it was. Her hand brushed away a branch, and she poked her head through the opening in the bushes. Her blue eyes widened and her small mouth dropped open at the sight before her.

Crono was lying on the ground, shirtless, with Lucca kneeling on his legs. She was rubbing his chest, making him smile weakly.

"Ahh...yea...that feels so good...keep going." He whispered to her. She smiled back. "I guess this kinda makes up for it." Lucca raised an eybrow.

"Makes up for what?" She asked, defensively. He laughed.

"Oh, sure, you just happened to stroll right by at that mo...ouch!" Her hand whipped out and smacked Crono on the nose, lightly, yet quickly. His face reddened, he hated that.

"Shaddup." She said, flatly, and she continued to massage the liquid into his now-almost-invisible wounds. Suddenly a shuffling was heard in the bushes, and it grew louder, yet it seemed to keep going deeper into the thicket as it moved. Crono and Lucca jumped to their feet, ready to investigate. Whatever it was, was tearing through the bushes at a great speed. Lucca ran straight through where she though it had gone, while Crono sprang into a tree, and proceeded to search from above. Surely enough, he found his girlfriend, leaves and short branches protruding from her dress, running with a tearstreaked face back toward the castle exit. After the confusion cleared, Crono was left with one predominant thought.

Oh, shit...

- -

"Marle! Wait! Come back, I, I can explain!" Crono yelled, racing after her. She already had gained a huge distance and was now up the stairs to the castle entrance, and through the door. Running as fast as he could, he bolted up the stairs, and through the door seconds after her. He slowed to a halt as she stumbled into the throne room, and collapsed at her father's feet, sobbing. King Guardia looked down at his forlorn daughter, and then up at her boyfriend, noting his lack of proper attire. His eyebrows lowered.

"Just what were you trying to do to her?" Guardia demanded of him. Crono opened his mouth to speak, but was drowned out by the princess' bawling.

"It's (hic) not what he was trying to do to me, daddy! I caught him and his little four-eyed friend in the act!" She screamed. Guardia glared at Crono.

"Is this true?"

"No! It's not! It's all a misunderstanding!" Crono pleaded.

"He's a liar! Don't listen to him daddy!" She got to her feet and roared at Crono. For a moment, the king looked confused, unsure of what to do. He wanted to believe his daughter, but Crono did seem like he was telling the truth. "Daddy! I want him and Lucca locked up! I don't care what anyone says! They made a mockery of me, you, and your kingdom! You can't let them get away with it!" Guardia, frowned, but ordered.

"Very well, guards, seize him and locate his friend. The scientist girl, Lucca." Crono's mouth dropped in shock as the guards encircled him. He couldn't believe what was happening to him. They were going to sieze him and Lucca?

"Like hell you will!" Crono taunted as he sprang forward, crashing into the throne, King Guardia and all. The chair was knocked flat on its back, and Crono rolled into position. His left arm wrapped itself around the King's neck, while his other arm pulled himself and the monarch up from the floor. "Alright kids, let's get down to business. Either you let me out of here, or I break this guy's neck right here and now." Marle glared at him, drawing her bow.

"You wouldn't dare." She hissed. He smirked and tightened his grip, making Guardia choke sharply as he backed toward the stairwell, keeping the king in front of him. "Stop! Stop right now or I'll shoot you!" He laughed, mockingly at her.

"Go ahead and plug his fat ass full of arrows. You'll kill him a few times over before you even graze me! Especially with your aim." He added, trying to goad her. She fell right into his trap. Her face bursting with fury, she dropped her bow, and lunged for her former lover.

"I'll kill you! You son of a bitch! I'll rip your throat out!" Throwing the gasping king to the floor, Crono braced himself for the princess' impact. She hit him, tearing at his face and neck, like a wild beast. He rolled backwards, his legs creating a safe distace between them. For a moment, her attacks paused, as she remembered that this was someone, that up until the past few minutes, she'd loved...or so she thought. Her face hardened again, and she drew back her left fist, hurling it toward his face. In a flash, he siezed her wrist, and jerked it to the right, pulling her upwards, until she rolled over onto her stomach, where he grabbed her blonde ponytail, and held her by it. "You bastard! Let GO of me!" She sceamed, tears of rage flooding down her face as he continued to drag her and her father toward the stairwell.

The guards pursued at a slow pace, not sure what Crono would do if the charged. They knew of the mysterious arts of fighting he used, and they also knew that he was capable of far more destruction then he seemed to be. This slow ritual of his retreat and their slight advance continued until Crono was well up the stairwell, dragging a sobbing princess and an exhausted king in front of him. Guardia would periodically shout curses and orders for assistance to his guards, but they remained steady, not sure of what to do. Crono waited until the King shouted again, making his knights cringe in shame for being so unattentive, and he cast both the princess and her father down the stairwell at the same time. In a flash he raced up the stairs, taking them three at a time. He shoved past pages and maids, and he slid under and through the legs of a table to avoid the blade of the Knight Captain, who was currently upstairs in the hall. At last, his mad dash ended in the King's chamber, where the only ways out were the window, which led to a certainly lethal drop, and the door, which was know swarming with furious guards. The king and princess accompanied them as well.

"Alright," Guardia panted, "guards, you are to kill him! Kill him and burn his remains!" The mob lurched forward as Crono backed up to the window. He gave a brief glance out the window. It was a straight drop down, with neither handhold nor foothold to support him. He turned back to the guards, who were almost upon him. With no weapon to defend himself from the mob, he snatched up a wooden chair, and brought it to his defense, bringing a laugh from the assailants.

"Come on Crono!" a guard teased, stepping up into his face, "let's see your fancy trick with the chair!" He brought his sword to chest-height, still laughing at Crono's choice of weaponry. Crono apparently didn't think it was funny, and he rammed a leg of the chair up into the knight's nose, snapping his head back. The crowd paused for a moment, shocked at this bold gesture. Crono spun around, facing the window, and smashed the rest of the chair through it, splintering wood and glass as it fell. He knew he had no time to waste, and with a leap, he set his feet upon the windowsill, reversed his body, and sprang up as high as his supple form could go, clawing his fingers into the stone of the tower's spire. Without much difficulty, the Kensai pulled himself up, and sat down on the surface of the spire, trying to clear his thoughts. He heard the knights below, and knew that it would take quite a while for them to reach him, giving him ample time to get away. He sighed and rested his head in his hands, feeling the little raindrops begin to cascade down from the darkening sky. A bolt of lightning seared through the clouds, bringing a merciless roar that shook the land.

This is not what I meant...not at all what I meant...I don't hate her...I just...don't love her...I can't believe I hurt her...I always let my anger get the best of me...but this world has been so cruel to me...sometimes I wish it would all just burn itself down, and start everything over again...'cause it sure fucked up this time...

THE END

part one