The ride from Hod was a blur for Guy. He didn't even realize they were flying until they reached Chesedonia. The walk through the city was a blur too. He didn't even truly process walking at all until a hand was put on his chest to stop him. The discussion that proceeded was tuned out completely, for better or worse. He didn't even notice it had ended until there was a pat on his shoulder and he was dragged out the door.
They were flying again. He didn't know where. He didn't care to find out.
His head was trapped in a fog, thick and heavy and muffling anything that tried to break through. It took ages for him to process anything, and even when he did, he was already someplace else, his legs feeling disconnected from his body and everything in sight feeling as if it was being viewed from someone else's eyes. He felt hollow, felt like his entire body was just a husk, a skin moving without any sort of input from what was inside it, if anything at all.
Suddenly he's in a brightly lit room and everyone's gathered there and Jade's speaking and everyone else is silently weeping and yet Guy can only focus on him. The bastard didn't have the gall to even look upset. Guy could only see red. He just wanted to stomp right over there and wring his hands around his neck and watch the life drain from his eyes and-
"Guy, are you okay?" Someone asks and suddenly he's aware of the tightness in his throat, aware of the way his eyes sting, aware of the light-headed feeling he has and aware of how hard it is to keep himself calm, keep himself from breaking, keep himself from yelling, lashing out, screaming at the top of his lungs, throwing himself at the man he's despised all his life for not even showing a shred of emotion over his son's - sons' - lack of presence, over their-
His mind shuts down before he can even think that last word, that final nail in the coffin, and suddenly he's on the floor and everything's a blur and everyone's too loud and shut up shut up shut up already you're all so obnoxious I can't even think-
He's being dragged out of the room, but he never even processes it, never realizes he's not sitting on plush carpets anymore, never realizes he's laying on hard stone now because the grasp of consciousness slipped on him long ago and he's plunged into the depths of nothingness, nothing left keeping him afloat.
He wakes up in a body that feels nothing like his own. In a room that had stopped being his what felt like centuries ago. In a place he couldn't stand being in a second longer. He couldn't stand being in the same building, the same city, the same country as the bastard that destroyed his life all those years ago, the bastard that took everything he'd loved and crushed it between his fingers like it was nothing, the bastard that didn't even pretend to be upset over his sons'-
His mind shut down again, just like before, except this time he was wide awake and he was shaking and he was breathing fast and it was so hard to get air and his heart was pounding in his ears and he was stumbling out of the bed and out of the room and he fell against the wall and just gasped for air like a fish out of water. When he got up again, everything was spinning. He ran down the hall, bumped into things, knocked them over, yet he couldn't care any less than he already did. He just wanted to leave because if he had to breathe the same air that man did every day for another second then he would choke on it. He was out the door and racing down the steps and onto the elevator before he ever processed someone calling his name. He's shaking on unsteady legs and he could hear someone getting closer and no go away don't look at me go away go away go away-
"Guy? What's the matter?" He's fallen back against the metal and he's breathing so fast he can't even feel the air reach his throat anymore and his head's so light he thinks he'll throw up and faint and his heart's pounding in his eardrums again and drowning everything out and everything's spinning and he's being dragged back into stone and his clammy palm is on the other person's chest now. "Breath with me now." A deep breath and an exhale he can feel under his hand. He can't focus through the fog in his head and he gasps for air, yet none of it's reaching him. His head feels like it's up in the skies and his body feels like it's sunk to the bottom of the ocean and he's leaning heavily on whoever this is - his brain can't put together any of the jumbled pieces in front of it right now - and he doesn't even realize he's started crying until that voice cuts through the fog again and returns him to his senses for a brief moment. "Guy, you need to breathe normally." Breathe. Right, he needs to breathe. Yet his body has already forgotten how and it's impossible to remember when his head can't even process whatever it is he's looking at.
"Guy, concentrate on your breathing. Stay in the present." Guy's brought back to reality again and he's able to identify Jade's voice before he's lost again and he fights to remember his words. Concentrate on my breathing. Concentrate. You can do this, Guy. Concentrate. He feels air reach his lungs, but it leaves far too soon and suddenly he's gasping for air again. "Breathe with me, Guy. You can do this." Is Jade seriously giving him encouragement? Guy likely would've laughed if he didn't feel close to passing out. Jade takes a deep breath, and Guy struggles to copy the action. He exhales, and Guy does the same. The repeated action helps Guy clear out the fog as his breaths come in easier until eventually it feels natural again.
Jade adjusts his glasses. "Good. Welcome back to the world of the living." It's said in a flat tone, but Guy can see the smirk on the colonel's face.
"What... What just happened to me?" His voice is raspy, strained from disuse. He shoves himself off Jade - can't believe he let that happen in the first place - and wipes his eyes clean of tears.
"You were having a panic attack," Jade states plain and simply, "and gasping like a fish out of water. You were turning a fine shade of blue when I arrived." Jade remarks, and all Guy can muster is a glare. He's still shaking, and everything still feels weak and he's tired now and fighting to keep himself from passing out on the ground. "I think a walk to clear your head would be a good idea. You haven't been in a good mindset with Luke gone."
The way he said it so casually, the fact he accepted it so easily, made something in Guy twist and thrash violently and angrily. "How can you just say something like that so casually?!"
"Because it's a fact. Luke's gone now. We need to work on figuring things out without him." The glare Guy had fixed on Jade likely could've killed him on the spot if it were possible. Jade pushs his glasses up and Guy can practically feel his smug aura and all it does is make him want to punch the man in the face and curse him out. Yet, the words that come out of his mouth next aren't what he expected. "Now, don't look at me with such a scary face, I said Luke was gone, not that he was dead. There is a difference, you know." He has a point, but the fact Jade has to say it like that makes Guy's blood boil. "I'm as upset as you are that Luke left us the way he did, but getting angry with me won't bring him back to us any sooner." Guy wants to yell at him that no one could possibly understand how torn up he was over this, that no one could even begin to understand how much it hurts, but he bites his tongue and holds those words back. Instead, he focuses on the rest of his words.
"You really think he'll come back?" His voice comes out with more venom than he'd meant for it, but Jade pays no heed to it.
Guy sits there and stares at the older man, dumbfounded. There is a flicker of something in the crimson eyes staring back at him, something Guy can't place for a moment before the colonel stands up and begins walking back towards the castle. When he turns again, Guy can finally figure out what he'd seen. In Jade's eyes was a flicker of hope, something that steadily grew until it was a bright spark in his eye. "All we can do is go about our lives and fix the world Luke left behind for us until he comes back to help clean up this mess he made."
Guy is sure he sees Jade smile, a faint but genuine smile and not one of his mocking or smug ones. Whatever it is he sees, it's gone before he can comment. If Jade believes it, that Luke really will come back someday, then Guy has no choice but to believe it too. After all...
Jade's never been wrong before.
Guy's days serving Peony are long and uneventful, and his nights are either dreamless sleep, or nights where he tosses and turns in his bed till the sun's out, or nights where he's woken by horrific dreams, memories he knows belong in the past yet keep getting dredged up anyway. All he can do is tell himself that whatever it is, it's no worse than the dreams Luke would have, the ones that left him tumbling out of bed and crying for what felt like hours, ones Guy would have to calm him down from until the redhead was asleep again, free of any more nightmares for the rest of the night. Somehow, those memories help Guy sleep again, help him enter a dreamless sleep where the only thing between him and the morning is what feels like only a few seconds of darkness.
Guy wakes up feeling numb. It's been a long time since Luke left, and Guy hates how he's able to accept that as fact so easily. He has no doubt in his mind that Luke will come back someday, but it doesn't help to ease the ache in his chest. A knock on the doot stirs him a bit more and forces him to drag himself out of bed before someone else comes and does it for him. He opens the door to a soldier. The man hands Guy a letter and heads off without a word. Guy shuts the door and flops back on his bed. The letter crumples a bit in his hand,. He lifts it above his head to see Guy's name written in fancy handwriting. Probably from Natalia, he thinks to himself. She hasn't written to him in ages, likely busy with her royal duties and such. What could be important enough to write to him?
He opens the letter and reads it and it's all he needs to get a reminder of the day.
It's been a year since Luke left.
The letter was found in the trash later that day, crumpled up and tearstained.
Guy wandered off from the reception. Today was Luke's coming-of-age ceremony. No point having it when Luke himself wasn't here, he thinks. All it does is drive a stake through his heart. He finds that a few others had done the same as him. Tear is sitting on the steps down to the elevators, Anise is sitting off to the side of the courtyard with her legs pulled to her chest, and Jade is standing next to her, swirling a small glass of wine in his hand. "Glad I'm not the only one that doesn't want to be in there." Guy laughs lightly, forced.
"Yes, well. I don't see much point in attending a coming-of-age ceremony when the person it's for isn't present." Jade remarks, red eyes still focused on his glass.
"My thoughts exactly." Guy lets the silence drag for a moment before a thought comes to him. "Wait, why'd you come, then?"
"I could be asking you the same thing."
Guy doesn't answer, simply because he doesn't have an answer to give.
Tear's staring up at the sky now, and it's not long before she says, "I'm going to Tataroo Valley."
It's Anise who speaks up next. "How come?"
"No reason. I just... I don't want to go back in there and be surrounded be people that are only there for formality's sake. I don't want to hear them speak over a grave."
"I'll come with you." Natalia's voice echoes across the courtyard in front of the castle. It catches everyone by surprise.
"Natalia, aren't you supposed to stay here? You're the princess and all, so..." Anise trails off. She can't think of anything more to say.
"It's fine. Besides, there's nothing left for me to do here."
"I'm going with you too, Tear." Guy's voice comes out before he realizes it. He doesn't take back his words. He didn't want to stay much longer anyway.
Jade sighs before he downs what little is left in his glass. "I suppose I'll go as well. Someone has to supervise you crazy kids." Guy rolls his eyes.
Anise jumps up off the ground. "I'm coming too. All those rich jerks in there talking like they know Luke are starting to annoy me." The tone of her voice tells Guy she probably threatened at least one of those guys and was subsequently kicked out because of it.
"Noelle's got the Albiore waiting down in the port. Let's get going while the night's still young, shall we?" Jade makes his way to the elevator, and one by one everyone else files in. Guy's thankful he doesn't have to spend another second here.
The walk through Tataroo Valley is silent, but it's calming. They reach the open field of selenia flowers and simply look out at the view of the field, with the ocean spread across the horizon. Anise sits in the field, picking a spot that isn't completely taken over by the flowers as to not crush them. Tear's sitting on a lone rock in the middle of the field. She starts singing, filling the silence with her smooth voice. Guy closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, letting the salty air drifting from the ocean fill his senses. He can hear Natalia humming along to Tear, the waves softly crashing against the cliffside, the very slight fluctuations in the melodist's voice, and the wind blowing in from the sea. Tear's song comes to an end, and Guy opens his eyes. The view is the same as always.
"We should be heading back soon. The valley is dangerous at night." Jade states plainly before he turns to leave. Anise springs up from the ground and hurries over to join him, and Natalia follows suit. Tear and Guy are slow to move. Tear slides off the rock and sighs, walking at a snail's pace to the others. Guy begins to turn, sparing a glance to the field one last time, and stops. He fully turns, eyes wide.
Out in the middle of the field is a figure, a figure that looked so startlingly familiar, yet that familiarity isn't one he can quite place. The others have noticed by now, noticed he hasn't moved an inch, and now they see it too. The figure that originally had their back to them turns, and it hits Guy harder than a punch to the gut. He's walking over now, and it takes every ounce of Guy's strength to resist the urge to run over and tackle the idiot to the ground in the tightest hug in the world.
Tear is the one that steps forward and speaks, her voice shaking ever so slightly. "Why are... you here?"
Everyone is silent, listening intently for the words that come out of the man's mouth. "This place has a nice view of Hod." He looks back, towards the sea, as he speaks. Guy had never noticed that the replica Hod was, in fact, in clear view of the valley. "And also," he gains Guy's attention again, "I promised someone."
There's silence again as familiar green eyes peak out from red bangs, a warm smile painted on the redhead's face. Tear bolts towards him from her spot in an instant, crashing into Luke and almost sending him tumbling to the ground. Guy doesn't hold back that urge anymore. He's following Tear's lead and rushing over as well, tackling them both to the ground. Luke groans as his head hits the ground, but then looks down and laughs warmly. Guy's started laughing too, and he thinks he hears Tear laughing as tears stain her face. Natalia is next to rush over, and Anise is last to follow. Guy's almost certain he's started crying now, but whether it be from laughing or the emotions overflowing in him is something he isn't able to figure out. "Alright, guys, can I get up now?" Luke asks, still laughing. The group removes themselves from on top of their dear friend, and he sits up with a smile on his face.
Guy offers him a hand up. "Welcome home, Luke."
Luke's smile somehow grows tenfold as he takes the other's hand. And, as he's being pulled up off the ground, and as his friends start throwing questions at him, and as Jade fails to hide the smile on his face from Luke's view, he thinks to himself.
It's good to be home.