title: anchored
fandom: Tales of Symphonia
characters/pairings: past Kratos/Zelos, Kratos/Anna, Zelos/Lloyd
rating: G/Teen
warnings: discussion of underaged sex
summary: Lloyd doesn't know what he's getting himself into with Zelos. (AU)
notes: for jangalain, for this request on fic on demand. also, for some clarity, ha... this takes place in the "real world" *coughs*, with the characters the ages they roughly are or appear to be. slight warning for a real world teenaged lloyd. ^_~

"Look, there's Zelos!" Lloyd suddenly took off running, away from his parents.

Kratos furrowed his brow. "Who is this Zelos he keeps mentioning? Have you met him?"

Anna smiled indulgently, like she always did when Kratos was being unreasonable. "Now, now. Lloyd is getting older. It's natural for him to make new friends."

"I don't like it," Kratos grumbled. "I knew a Zelos once. Disreputable fellow."

Anna rolled her eyes.

They caught up to Lloyd, who was talking animatedly with a young man, at least five years older than him. This 'Zelos' wore a long vest with nothing under it, and had long, red hair that fell in waves over his shoulders. He had a large group of women and girls around him, all in bikinis, all looking rather annoyed that this energetic kid now held his attention.

Lloyd turned, and grinned. He pulled on Zelos' arm, pulling him over to Kratos and Anna. "Zelos, c'mon, you have to meet my parents!"

Lloyd didn't notice at all the way that Zelos blanched before greeting Kratos, or the way Kratos was glaring over Zelos' shoulder.

Zelos had a spoon hanging out of his mouth when he answered the door. Lloyd rushed past him, beginning a rant that he must have been practicing all the way over.

"I can't believe how unreasonable he is! He thinks he can control me, like I'm still just a little kid! He totally doesn't see that I'm completely growing up! And he's gotta be so perfect all the time! I can't stand it! I can't live there anymore! I'm going nuts!"

Zelos waited until Lloyd took a breath. "Wow, that was good. Now, what the hell are you talking about?"

"My dad! He says I can't hang out with you any more! You'll corrupt me or some such shit!" Lloyd fumed.

Zelos turned away from Lloyd. "Oh. Can't say I'm surprised."

"Well, I don't care what he says. I'm not going to listen to him anymore! It won't be long until I'm eighteen, and I'm so out of there as soon as I can be," Lloyd planted himself on Zelos' stained futon, and crossed his arms over his chest.

Zelos bit his lip to keep from grinning. Why did Lloyd have to be so cute? "Hey, look, I... I mean, your dad seemed like a nice guy. I don't know. Just blow off some steam and then talk to him. Maybe..."

"There's no talking to him, Zelos! He absolutely refuses to let me even go to the beach, 'cause, like, he says I'm just going to see you. I'm supposed to be all locked up in my room, but like I was just going to sit around at home and let him tell me what to do!" Lloyd bounced forward, his elbows on his knees, and his hands gesturing wildly.

Zelos sighed. "Lloyd, look... Just... Try to see it from your dad's point of view. His cute, sweet, innocent boy is hanging out with an older guy. An older guy, who's been around a bit. I mean, I can see why he's a bit..."

"He doesn't even know you at all! He made us leave after, like, ten seconds of meeting you. And he's so totally judgmental about your art, too! He's such an old fogey!" Lloyd seethed.

Zelos turned his back to Lloyd, and sighed. How was he going to...? "Look, Lloyd... there's stuff... stuff you don't know about me. Your dad might be right to want to protect you from me. I'm not a nice guy."

"That's bullshit!" Lloyd desperately pleaded. "See, this just proves what a good guy you are, because you want to defend him, even though he's being an asshole."

"No, no, that's not it..." Zelos sighed. "You know I... entertain people a lot. A lot, Lloyd. I've never been very monogamous, or moral."

"So what!" Lloyd jumped to his feet, but he only took two steps to Zelos. "I don't... I don't care. You're my friend, and... and... I know that you care about me!"

Zelos shook his head. "Lloyd, look. Let me... Let me tell you a story. When I was in high school, I took martial arts."

"I know!" Lloyd stepped forward, excited. "I told dad that, and he, like, totally shut me out!"

"That doesn't surprise me," Zelos muttered. "Look, there was this teacher in my martial arts class, he was really cool. And I was just coming to, like, realize I was into guys, too. This teacher..." Zelos shook his head, and looked away. "He was so cool. He was amazing. No one could touch him. And he was so serious. I totally was into him."

"There's nothing wrong with that," Lloyd stubbornly insisted, though he didn't really want Zelos to keep talking.

"I wanted him, Lloyd, like... bad. He was married. He had a kid, too... a son. I wasn't much older than his son, but I didn't care. I stayed late after school every day to help out, and I did anything I could to spend more time with him. I showed off, and I strutted around half-naked to get his attention. I didn't care if he had a family. I just wanted sex."

"S-so? It was his responsibility to stay loyal, not yours. You didn't cheat on anyone." Lloyd stuck out his lower lip, and shoved his hands into his pockets.

Zelos bent his chin to his chest. "Yeah, right. Anyway... he was going through some rough patch with his family. Something. He was living out here alone while his wife and kid were still back in Iowa. He didn't get to see them much. I started going to his apartment all the time, and just... I did everything to seduce him, and when I succeeded, I didn't let up. I wanted... I wanted him to leave his wife for me."

"You were in love! And you were young... damn it, Zelos, even if you went after him, he shouldn't have let you!" Lloyd stepped closer, and reached out to Zelos.

Zelos stepped back. "Lloyd, you aren't listening to me! He was a martial arts instructor. This was about five years ago... his family was back in Iowa. Are getting this? I was his lover. And then he finally had enough of me, and he brought his family here, and I never saw him again."

"Th-th-that doesn't... you... it wasn't..." Tears welled up in Lloyd's eyes. He threw himself at Zelos, and wrapped his arms around Zelos. "I don't care! I love you!"

Zelos had to think about it, to remember to breathe. What were the odds...? Why did it have to be Lloyd's father? He slowly lifted his arms to hold onto Lloyd.

"And I think you're in love with me, too," Lloyd continued, a bit more in control of his voice. "And I'm... I'm going to pretend that I don't know anything, and you can pretend that it was... was someone else, and it doesn't matter! I love you."

Zelos sighed, and rested his head on Lloyd's. "If only it was that simple..."

"But you do love me!" Lloyd insisted, lifting his head to glare at Zelos. "Say it."

It would be so much easier to just... deny it. Pretend it was a lie. Easier and better, and it was the right thing to do.

Since when did Zelos do the right thing?

He lifted Lloyd's chin, and kissed him, softly, tasting his lips. "Lloyd... you know me better than anyone. But that still doesn't mean..."

"I don't care," Lloyd insisted, putting his head on Zelos' chest. "I love you. I'm not giving you up."

Zelos sighed. What could he do? He would just pretend that he had no choice.

Just pretend that he had no past, and that he deserved Lloyd.