6/12/02

Disclaimer: The characters in this fic, such as Yuri, Alice, etc. don't belong to me; they are property of Midway, so don't sue! ^^0

Dedications: God, my friends, my cousins, my readers, Midway for making this magnificent RPG, and sudden inspiration for making me write down so much of this fic during boring school again (in World History this time). :P

Shadow Hearts: Souls Of Love

By Tiger5913

…I'm not the weak one here. You are.

Hazy, trouble pupils flickered downward and gazed intently at the red smudges staining the steel silver claws that were attached to the end of tan brown gloves. Lean facial features hardened into an angry expression, but then changed to a look of regret at committing a harsh and cruel act, and at the same time longing for a parental figure once praised, now lost. The owner of the displayed emotions made a noise deep within his throat that implied a hint of his frustration at the conflicts tearing inside him, and his fists clenched tightly in reflex. The person standing behind him trained sympathetic blue eyes in his direction, and awkwardly tucked her hands behind her back in a show of respect laced with shyness.

"Are…are you all right?" she spoke up quietly, flinching when a sting of pain ignited in her cheek, especially the spot where she had just been struck minutes ago.

"Yup. I'm back, after all," came the casual answer, although she detected of elusiveness and uncertainty in his voice.

"Th-that man… your father… he didn't hurt you too badly when you fought him just now, did he?" the young woman moved her arms around to the front, and clutched her hands together, placing them against her chest, over her heart. "Should I cast a Cure spell on you?"

His hair moved when he shook his head in refusal. "Thanks for the offer, but I don't need it."

Well… I do. She reached into a large hidden pocket of her turquoise velvet one-piece outfit, retrieved a small rectangular object, and closed her eyes. In the blink of an eye, the focus of her concentration grew and was recognizable as the large, thick-covered book that she used to battle with.

The pages flipped in obedience to the master, and the white mage murmured foreign words of the light magic arts as she raised her arms up above her head. The book floated inches in front of her abdomen, and soothing warmth entered and swirled throughout her body, healing her discomforting wounds. Finished casting, she turned her possession back into a tiny size and tucked it into the folds of her clothes, then took a step toward her comrade, feeling a bit timid as she approached him in his moment of vulnerability. She had just pulled him back from his abyss of bleakness and death, whilst sacrificing an essential part of her own bring, and she did not want to see her efforts wasted.

"…this human emotion called 'love'…"

Do I… do I love him? The light-blonde female wondered in bewilderment of her feelings as she glanced at his back facing her view, remembering the words that the floating masks had whispered in astonishment. Have I… fallen in love with Yuri…?

The aforementioned turned around to gaze at her, and when she met the clouded, emotional pools of his dark eyes, she was transfixed, unable to move until he initiated something first. He began speaking soon, and the two exchanged a few words of expressing their elation of being reunited together, endearments lacing their tones. Certain implications ensued, but not strong enough to be able to make assumptions without risking the chance of shattering sweet, adored dreams, and the light of hope. Their feelings for each other would go unspoken for the time being, and neither was sure if when it would be appropriate to express the hidden truths lying dormant in their hearts.

"…We should go back," her ally suggested finally, breaking the transition of their conversing.

She blinked, then recovered quickly and nodded. "Let's travel together again."

Yuri Hyuga smiled faintly in agreement, and the young woman stepped toward him as they prepared to leave the dreaded graveyard area that haunted their consciousness. Just before the duo disappeared, the white mage glanced up into the face of the object of her affection, and almost moved back when she spied a very visible fire lurking in his eyes. It was the elated look of a blind man being given sight for the first time; a heavily burdened sinner having a chance to redeem for the horrible, atrocious acts previously committed. She felt frightened by the emotions detected in him because she realized that the hot flames were burning for her, craving her existence and her soul to meld with his own and become one.

"Alice…" he murmured softly, and raised a hand to touch her cheek in assurance, and wordless admission, confirming her assumptions of his feelings for her. The rough pad of his thumb stroked over the area where the faint hint of a bruise lingered, and he was staring at it as if cursing and blaming himself for the cause. Alice Elliot shook her head to deny his conjecture, but he still held a guilty look on his expression, even as he leaned toward her and gently kissed the formerly pained spot. Her eyes immediately fluttered closed at the feathery contact, and she could feel his lips scouring down the curves of her face, presumably heading for her mouth.

A white, blinding light engulfed the pair at that moment, interrupting what could have been their first kiss, and they could only stand by helplessly and wait to be taken back to the real world. The last thing that the woman remembered before succumbing to the holistic source was the set of stormy eyes that were staring at her, annoyed with their moment being shattered. But the raw yearning of wanting to be with her was extremely noticeable, and she heard her gasp be cut short by the light that fortunately tore her and Yuri away from the godforsaken graveyard.

"This place again…"

Deposited on the ground of the nightmare place once again, Alice lifted her head and shakily rose to her feet, disturbed by the presence of evil that soaked her every pore. Her nerves tingled with the malice that inhibited each little inch of the area, and she bit her lip in anticipation, taking small steps toward the center of the graves that were scattered around. Unable to resist reading what was on the headstones, she passed by them one at a time, and covered her mouth in surprise at the inscriptions. They all mentioned her… a couple of them sounded frustrated and impatient, but as she traveled over to the ones nearest to the floating masks, the tone grew more affectionate.

Hmmm… this wasn't here last time… the white mage mused to herself when she noticed a tiny pink grave that sat next to the large one that had the symbol of darkness carved on it.

"Rest in peace, Alice Elliot." The words rolled off her tongue so easily, even though she felt shocked. "This is… this is my own grave…"

The concept seemed impossible and ridiculous, as she was still standing there, alive and breathing perfectly normal, but it still left a dark, unrest feeling in her soul. Alice headed for the area where the four manipulators of Malice floated, and kneeled over just before reaching them, clutching her chest while mumbling, "So much evil… It feels like it's weighing heavily on my heart…"

When she spoke to the masks, they sniggered maliciously and showed her no mercy as they quickly informed her that her fate was about to be decided, once she stepped through the entrance the quadruple were guarding. The pale blonde woman clutched her hands to her chest in anxiety, but she knew that she had to go inside since she had agreed to sacrifice her soul in exchange for Yuri's life. Her head bowed down, she entered, and was met by a large white face with many scars that levitated and taunted her with cold, biting words. It wanted her pure-hearted soul, most likely to tear her apart from within and bring her eternal pain and suffering as a way to tormenting her for making the decision to save her comrade.

"Do you regret your decision?" It boomed at her, an icy and anticipated smile on its cracked lips.

She shook her head, knowing that the sacrifice was for the sake of her heart, and she would rather allow her soul to be taken than not be around Yuri. "I have no regrets."

In cold provocation, the face began to slide over to where she stood, and the girl fought the urge to turn around and run out of the room to escape her inevitable fate of dying.

She shut her eyes, and awaited the darkness to consume her, but all of a sudden, a strong voice broke through the silence, "Stop right there!"

Alice pivoted to look at the speaker, and warmth filled her heart when she spied the intruder that obviously angered the large mask that wanted her soul. "Yuri…"

"Sorry I'm late," he told her, casually strolling up the stairs and stopped when he was in front of her, standing in-between the face and herself. "Those masks back there slowed me down a bit. And you," the fusionist addressed the large, cracked mask, "are not laying a hand on my woman."

His woman? Her facial features softened into a dreamy look at the good-intentioned possessiveness in his voice, and the sliver of unspoken endearments that was hidden in his tone. She could not believe that he cared enough about her that he would come to the graveyard nightmare, and assist her in saving her soul from the mask. Perhaps there was a chance, and she hoped for even just the slightest; that his feelings for her were the same that she had for him…

"You dare to break the seal of the document!?" The floating face demanded angrily, as if the idea was unbelievable and the twenty-four year old was just wasting his time in pursuing a lost cause.

"Yeah. You gotta problem with that?" Yuri inquired nonchalantly, then cracked his knuckles and rolled his neck.

"Outrageous!" The mask exclaimed, and howled as it initiated attack. Alice shrieked at the high-pitched volume that made her hearing senses tingle, but she frantically took out her book and prepared to cast a spell while her companion fusioned into a fierce monster.

When the battle ended a little while later, and the mask shattered into pieces, all the while screeching its frustration at not stealing her essence, the white mage felt her body being surrounded by the familiar bright light again. She had only been able to speak a few words of gratitude to her savior, and was disappointed that the two would be whisked away from their privacy so soon. Once they were back in their world, Alice decided it was time to let him know how she felt, but stumbled and ended up only telling him how grateful she was to have met him, and how strong she knew he was. He had endured so many hardships, and survived to move onward and overcome his pain and grievances; how she wished that she had his spirit and willingness to continue on with his life.

Later, in the privacy of the monastery ruins after abandoning Liu Zhuzhen to check out the grave of the deceased James O'Flaherty, the young woman was shocked to hear Yuri confess all of a sudden, "The day you die is the day I die too."

"Wh-what?" she gasped.

Sighing heavily, he proceeded to tell her about when he was a child, and had failed in protecting his mother from being killed by zombies that he himself had let into their house. It was a heartbreaking story, and Alice wanted so badly to wrap her arms around him and embrace him as tightly as she could, and emit her compassion into his pained soul. But she restrained herself from making any movements, and waited to speak when he was finished with his tale, a haunted look lingering in his clouded eyes. She glanced down, feeling guilty that he would burden himself so much just because he wanted to protect, and the thought of him dying for her sake scared her direly.

"I just kinda, like you, that's all." Yuri said evasively, his cheeks flushing at his admission; he was not used to expressing his emotions.

"Oh, Yuri…" she murmured, gazing at him with heartfelt affection gleaming in her clear blue irises. Swallowing nervously, the young woman gathered up her courage and opened her mouth; "I, I lov-"

Just then, Zhuzhen ran into the area, exclaiming and babbling about a book that he had found near the grave he had been praying at, and the younger fighters glanced elsewhere in embarrassment at being discovered when they were finally about to admit their feelings for each other. The fusionist quickly darted away after mumbling a hasty reply to the elderly Taoist master, leaving an abashed Alice blushing as she watched his retreating figure. The old Chinese fighter tried to interest her in his findings, but she gracefully brushed him off, and followed in the direction of where her beloved had ran.

Standing alone in the ruins, Zhuzhen shook his head, muttering about how disrespectful young people were at present day, and flipped open the book that he found to start reading the manuscript on his own.

The End

Author's Note: Waah, another Shadow Hearts fic! Yeee! =) Hmmm, should I stop agonizing everyone and have Yuri and Alice kiss already? ^.^ Man, it sucks that they didn't kiss at the end of the game (I just beat it earlier today, and it only took me four and a half days to win this game, woohoo!). I wonder if Alice is going to start her new family with Yuri, and just exactly how soon before they start having kids together, teeheehee. *rubs hands together eagerly* I detect another fic idea coming… mwahahaha… What do you people out there think? ^_~ Anyway, thank you for reading this fic, and please leave a review!

With love for my fans,

Tiger5913