Chapter 13 - Remember Me
The young man who would one day become Narrator Number One sat at the edge of Yuna Lake, staring up at the evening sky. His arm was covered with burns, his leg still hurt like hell, and he couldn't shake the feeling that he was forgetting something. Despite that, however, Glen was happy … happier than he had been in a long while.
He turned his head to see Teria sitting beside him. She had made it relatively unscathed through their whole ordeal. One of her hands was resting on the river bank beside his, but the other was fiddling with her necklace. It seemed such a simple thing for something that had caused so much trouble; seven turtles surrounding a small crystalline orb.
It was strange; they had been at each other's throats for months after they had first met, but now he couldn't remember having cared more about someone. He felt closer to her than he ever had with anyone, even the members of his former team.
She glanced at him and caught his stare. A year ago, she might have cracked a joke about it or said something to embarrass him. Now, however, she blushed and looked away.
"So." She said, her eyes staring resolutely at the starlight sky. "What's the plan now?"
"I don't know." Glen admitted. "Even if I could get back to Earth, there's nothing left for me there anymore. I guess I'll have to find some place here, though I'm not sure who'd take me."
"I wouldn't say that. I mean, you're pretty handy with Headache, and more than capable of holding your own in a fight. I'm sure you could make a place for yourself pretty much anywhere."
Glen chuckled. "I wouldn't know where to start."
"Well," Teria slid her hand into his, a small smile on her lips as she sidled closer to him. "You could always come back to Longshore with me."
"Is that an order?" Glen asked, raising an eyebrow at her.
Teria let out an embarrassed laugh, her finger running across the silver ring Glen wore on his right hand. "No, no more orders. I'm just asking. If you don't want to, I'll understand. Creator knows you have every reason to say no after what I put you through."
He gave her hand a light squeeze. "And if I go with you?"
Her cheeks went crimson. Still pointedly not looking at him, she said, "I like you and I know you like me, and I'll be seventeen in a month's time. If you're interested, I mean. I know you'll be strong enough to … y'know."
She chanced another look at Glen, only to find him looking right at her. After a moment of silence, she grabbed him by the shoulders and kissed him passionately.
Hugging him tightly, she whispered, "Stay with me. Please."
"As you command." He whispered back.
She pulled away from him, a strange look on her face. "Pardon me?"
"I said ..." His voice fell silent as he realized that there was something wrong; her face was a good five years older, and distinctly furless. Rising to his feet, he demanded, "Who are you?"
"One? It's me, Luck!"
With that, the spell was broken. Yuna Lake was replaced by the movie-laden shelves and cabinets of the Matinee. He stared around in bewilderment as the last vestiges of the memory clung to his mind.
"Teria." He said, looking at Luck.
Luck's eyes widened. "W-what?"
"Teria! Teria Myssohn!" He grabbed Lucks' hands and said, "Just before I joined the Elsewhere, I traveled her over half of Vinta! We went everywhere: Ronisgald, the Cleftan Region, Wenapaj ... she was running away from home!"
Seeing a look of fear in Luck's pretty blue eyes, One realized he was nearly to the point of hysteria and quickly let go of her. "Sorry; it's just ... I just saw her again, and everything came flooding back! I can't believe I forgot about all that! I mean, we were almost-"
One stopped abruptly, the realization that he was about to tell Luck, of whom he was quite fond, about his near-bonding to Teria. One may not have had Two's experience in matters of romance, but even he knew this to be a bad idea.
"But why now?" He asked instead. "And why did it hurt so much?"
Hearing someone clear their throat, One turned and realized he and Luck weren't alone; Atraius was sitting in the chair next to the couch, a bemused expression on his face.
What can I say about Atraius? He's one of the few Dreamers who doesn't go by a nickname, as well as one of the four founding members of the Elsewhere. His exploits take up fifty-seven bookshelves in the Library (though at that point in time, they merely occupied forty-six shelves). Most unusual, however, is that he has been unable to speak vocally since a particularly nasty assignment on the world of Faelle, instead speaking mentally much in the same manner as a vuestan. He is a great painter and a model Dreamer, though his role in this story is quite small.
Atraius smiled kindly at One and held up a silver ring. "I believe this is the cause of your little fit."
"My memory artifact." One murmured as Atraius handed him the ring.
"You had a nasty memory surge."
One shook his head. "Memory surge? You mean the seal just broke? I thought that was impossible."
"It is unusual, certainly. You are fortunate that Luck had the good sense to call me when you returned."
Luck put up her hand to interject. "Translation for the girl who's never used a memory artifact?"
Atraius smiled at her. "My apologies. When the seal broke, all the memories stored in the pendant tried to jam themselves back in One's head in a single instant. That may work for a computer, but people aren't that simple; intense pain aside, he'd have been unconscious for the duration of the original memory."
"Which was at least a year." One rubbed his forehead; his memories of that year were still heavily fragmented. A few images flashed through his mind, but without context it was like looking at someone else's family photos. Over everything else hung the big question, however: what did all of this have to do with his feelings for Luck?
"One?" There was concern in Luck's voice as she spoke, resting her hand on One's shoulder. "Are you okay?"
Shaking his head, he said, "I'm good. Still, I need to know the rest."
Luck's grip tightened slightly. "One, you were screaming. Really screaming. I've only seen one person scream like that before, and it scared me then too."
"I'm fine." After a moment of silence, One put his hand over Luck's on his shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze, saying in a kinder tone. "Thanks for asking, though."
"I wouldn't advise you keep the ring." Atraius's mental voice cautioned. "I managed to put up a temporary seal, but it won't stop whatever broke the original seal from breaking it again. You should either eradicate or reintegrate the memories as soon as possible."
"Which means I need to have a talk with Mom." He shook Atraius's hand and said, "Thanks for the save, Atraius."
"You are most welcome. If you'll excuse me." With a final bow of his head, Atraius turned and headed to the nearest floor exit.
"And thank you for being on hand when I came back." One told Luck, rubbing the back of his head. "Sorry if I scared you."
She bopped him gently on the head. "You're welcome. Don't do it again."
"I won't." One said. "I'm going straight to Mom to get this sorted out."
As he started to walk away, Luck asked, "One? I was wondering … could I see the ring?"
"Huh? Oh, sure." He glanced down at the ring for a moment before shrugging and handing it to her.
She turned it over in her hands, peering at the tiny piece of silver with an intensity One had rarely seen in her eyes.
"Someone's got an eye for detail." She told him, still turning the ring in her slender fingers. "You said it has something to do with this Teria person?"
"Yeah. I think it's connected to her pendant, but I can't remember how. Well, not yet anyway."
"Can I have it?"
The question caught One off guard. She rolled the ring over her fingers and flicked it into her other hand, her wide eyes never leaving his face.
"Sure." he told her. "After I get the memories reintegrated. Why not?"
She flicked the ring into the air, where One clumsily clapped his hands over it. As he fumbled with the ring, she stood on her tiptoes and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
"Thanks." She whispered in his ear before prancing away, humming happily to herself.
One watched after her for a moment before he remembered he had something to do. Shaking his head, he headed for his floor's elevator.
As he rode the lift to the Lobby, he found his thoughts returning to the memory at Yuna Lake … or more specifically, to Teria. It was pretty obvious that they had something a bit more than just infatuation. She had practically proposed to him, and One couldn't help but notice that his past self had raised no argument. The lingering feelings of attraction and affection still clung to his mind, filling him with that same strange warmth he felt when he was around Luck.
Then what was it? He knew he hadn't actually bonded with her, as he wasn't getting an empathic read of her emotions. There had to be something else in the memories that would explain it.
"At least I hope there is." One muttered as the doors slid open.
Mom was working at her desk. As One drew near, he noticed she was typing rather hard at her keyboard, an expression of annoyance on her usually cheerful face.
"Hey, Mom." One said, giving her a wave as he drew near. "You okay?"
She gestured wordlessly toward the large fountain with little cherub statues who appeared to be relieving themselves into the basin. She wasn't gesturing at the fountain or the chubby cherubs standing on the edges, although they were new additions to the Lobby; Two and Teach were standing beside the fountain, their noses about half a foot apart. They looked as though they were screaming at each other, but One couldn't hear so much as a peep from either of them.
"Why can't I hear anything?" One asked, turning back to Mom. She held up a small remote control and clicked it at Two and Teach.
"Why can't you at least try to do something unselfish for a change?"
"Why don't you kiss my-"
With another click, silence descended over the floor. Mom set the control down. "A little present from Max. I can key it to various Dreamers, over a small area or guard, or over my entire floor."
"Nice!" One said as he picked up the remote.
He could think of about a million uses for such a device, most of which were at least a little mischievous. After glancing over the controls for a moment, he aimed the remote at the arguing Dreamers and pressed the button marked 'subtitles'. Instantly, letters appeared in midair just below Teach and Two, presumably spelling out the words they spoke.
"He's only one Dreamer. If he …" Teach gestured toward One. "… can get the kid to roll me into a ball of junk-"
"Katamari. The proper term is katamari." Two replied, smirking.
Just as Teach opened his mouth (presumably to tell Two just where he could stick a katamari), Mom took the control from One and switched off the subtitling.
"If you want to talk with them, just walk through the guard." She told him.
Glancing at the two of them for a moment, One shook his head. "Nah, I got work to do. Speaking of which …"
He pulled the ring from his pocket and set it on Mom's desk. "I'd like to reincorporate these memories into my subconscious minus the painful migraines, if that's all right with you."
"Teach told me he was going to give this back to you as a last ditch effort." She said, disapproval as obvious in her voice as it was on her face. "I was hoping it wouldn't have come to that."
"Yeah, well you know how stubborn I can be."
She turned it over in her hands, peering at it as though she could examine the memories inside. "Are you absolutely sure you want to do this? You must have had a good reason for storing the memories in the first place."
"Whether I want them or not, the memories are going to reintegrate. Something broke the seal."
"Memory surge, huh? Ouch."
One put a hand to his head in remembered pain. "Don't remind me."
She gave him a sympathetic look before returning her attention to the ring. "This may take a few minutes to set up. While you're waiting, would you be a dear and talk to Teach and Two? At least get them to move it to one of their own floors if you can."
"What's wrong, Mom? No channel select on your remote?"
Mom picked up the remote and pointed it threateningly at One. "How would you like to be dubbed in French?"
Chuckling, One approached Two and Teach. He felt a wave of energy wash over him as he passed through the guard.
"… can take your Anti-ka Maru and-"
One quickly stepped between them, saying loudly, "Vous deux, Arrêtez-vous! Vous dérangez Maman!"
Two and Teach looked blankly at One. Realizing what he had said, One glared back at Mom. With a smile and a shrug of her thin shoulders, she clicked the remote at him again.
"Am I …? Ah, good." One put his hand on his hips and looked at them expectantly. "All right; now what're you two arguing about?"
Teach and Two starting talking at once, each trying to drown the other out.
One waved for them to stop again. "Hey, hey, hey! Knock it off already! Two, you go first."
Teach gave One a look of utter indignation. "Why does he get to go first?"
"He's my best friend. Besides, he didn't just pester me into an assignment."
Flashing a victorious smirk at Teach, Two said, "It's Wong."
"Not wrong, WONG! Wong Fo-lee, the new Dreamer!"
One nodded. "Oh, right, the otaku. Is he giving you some kinda problem?"
"He is the problem!" Two replied exasperatedly. "He doesn't listen to a word I say, he disappears and reappears with no explanation, and he changes languages every ten minutes! I just can't take it anymore, so I asked Teach to let someone else train him."
One turned to Teach. "Your retort?"
With an air of affronted dignity, Teach said, "I told him he would simply have to deal with it. Training new Dreamers is something we've all had to do, even you, and no one's ever claimed to have anywhere near this much trouble. When I trained Jay, I certainly had a hard time, but I never tried to push him off on someone else."
"A hard time?" said Two, an incredulous look on his face, "Jay pretended to be the son of a god!"
"At least he tries to help people." Teach said sharply.
Two let out a snort. "Like the millions he duped into thinking he was their savior? Oh yeah, he's been a hell of a lot of help."
Soon, they were shouting at each other even louder than before.
One held up his hands and shouted, "KNOCK IT OFF!"
Teach and Two fell silent instantly, each looking daggers at the other.
Sighing, One put his hand on Two's shoulder. "Tell you what; I'm on an assignment, and Wong needs to learn how to keep his powers in control in the mainstream. Why don't Two and Wong come with me to Muonsol tomorrow and I'll help show him the ropes. Maybe you guys can give me a hand."
"Yeah!" Two said, nodding, "I could go for that."
One held up a finger. "Just so we're clear, I'll help you teach the little dude. I don't want you to wander off into the …" he glanced at Teach. "Does Muonsol have a red-light district?"
Seeing Teach's nod, One continued, "I don't want you wandering off into the red-light district, leaving me with the new guy."
"I couldn't ditch Wong if I wanted to." He pointed to his wrist, where he now wore a shiny gold bracelet emblazoned with the letters 'BFF'.
"Best friends forever?" One had to try hard not to laugh.
Two scowled. "Someone slipped this onto me while I was entertaining a lady last night."
"Anyone I know?" One asked curiously.
"The point is," Two said, his cheeks red, "It allows the person with the other bracelet, who in this case happens to be Wong, to instantly teleport to wherever I am, whenever I am, even through a guard."
Something suddenly occurred to One. "Say," he asked, looking around, "Where is the little dude anyway?"
Teach and Two pointed at the fountain.
"I don't see anything." One said, peering into the water.
The stream of water coming from the nearest statue slowed to a trickle.
Alarmed, One glanced up at the statue as it zipped up the pants it was suddenly wearing and turned around to face One.
"Ichi-san! So good to see you again!" Wong leapt from the fountain and held out his hand.
One looked at Wong disgustedly. "You didn't even wash your hands!"
"You're right!" Wong turned and began washing his hands in the fountain.
Two pointed at him. "See what I mean, Teach?"
After a moment's pause, he glanced around. "Teach? Son of a flat-chested lesbian!"
One didn't need to turn around to know Teach had left. He said dourly, "Pretty quick for a librarian, isn't he?"
Wong dried his hands on his shirt and turned to One, hand once again out to be shaken.
Tactfully ignoring Wong's outstretched hand, One said, "So, I guess you heard that you and Two will be helping' me out a bit. Anything you wanna ask?"
Wong nodded and asked, "Oh, yes! I have a question! Why are you tactfully ignoring my hand?"
One wasn't sure how to respond, so instead he turned to Two. "I'm gonna take a nap before I go back again. Why don't you and Wong meet me at Junction Point for a quick rundown on the basics?"
Two grumbled, "Don't take two long."
As Two and Wong left the floor, One walked over to Mom's desk. The ring hung in the air in front of her face, thousands of strands of light swirling around it. She stared intently into the cloud of strands, her fingers gently manipulating individual threads.
"I'm almost afraid to ask." He started to lean on the desk, but a stern look from Mom made him think better of it.
"I'm having trouble locating the actual memories." She told him, brow furrowed. "You know, the seal on this ring is unusually strong. I don't see how it could be deteriorating."
"Well, Atraius made the new seal, and you know how thorough he is. Can you unlock it?"
She snorted. "Of course. It's just a matter of time."
"No need to rush it." He told her. "It's not for an assignment or anything."
Mom chuckled, saying, "Of course. I'll let you know the minute I finish unlocking the memory seal."
"Thanks, Mom!" One gave her a kiss on the cheek.
Mom shooed him away, unable to keep the smile off her face.