Chapter 39 - All's Well that Ends Well
The trip back to the Elsewhere was easy as compared to the rest of his night; sending things out of the Elsewhere was a great deal more difficult than bringing them back. The forest swam in his vision for a moment, and then he was back on in the dreadnaught bay on his floor.
One took a moment to lock the Breath of Fire into one of the docking stations, setting the wings on its back near where they had been severed.
The Final Fantasy settled back into its dock, the power cables clamping onto the back with a loud click. With a satisfied sigh, One slammed a Headache-armed fist on the hatch release button and leapt out of the cockpit before the door had finished opening.
The moment his foot hit the floor of the workshop, the door to the main floor banged open, revealing a worried-looking Luck.
"One!" She called out, hurrying over to him. "By the Creator, are you okay? Looks like the Final Fantasy took one hell of a beating."
One looked at her. Everything he wanted to say seemed to cram into his throat at the same time.
"What's wrong?" She asked, rubbing his cheek. "Are you hurt?"
After trying and failing to say anything for a few moments, he pulled her close and pressed his lips against hers. Her emerald green eyes widened, but she didn't resist. Slipping her arms around his broad chest, she returned his kiss eagerly.
"Glen …" She whispered when they released, "Are … are you sure?"
One nodded. "Yeah. I mean, if you still want someone as silly as-"
She kissed him before he could finish the sentence. One ran his hand through her long hair; his heart felt like it was about to burst from his chest.
Her face still close to his, Luck whispered, "I just want you to know …"
She suddenly stiffened in his arms.
"What's wrong?" One asked as she slipped from his embrace.
She slowly backed away, her gaze on something behind One.
One glanced around to see she was looking at the Breath of Fire. "Oh, right. You were right; tough fight. Nothing I couldn't handle, though."
She continued to back away, her face pale.
Concerned, One took her hand, asking, "What's wrong, Luck?"
A flash of fear crossed her face. No, fear wasn't the word; her expression was one of terror. Without a word, she slipped from his grasp and made a run for the nearest floor access door.
"Wait, Luck!" One caught her shoulder just before she slipped through the door, and turned her around. To his surprise, she was crying; One had never seen Luck cry before.
Putting his hands on her shoulders, he asked in his most gentle tone, "What's wrong, Luck? Did I do something wrong?"
Without warning, she threw her arms around him and kissed him.
He moved to hold her, but his hands closed around thin air. Luck was gone.
He stood there for a long moment, her warmth still on his skin, her scent in his nostrils, and the taste of her tears salty on his lips. Turning back to the Breath of Fire, One asked aloud, "What just happened?"
Shaking his head, he hurried to the door to the main part of his floor and nearly bowled over Two and Wong as they walked into the dreadnaught bay.
"Whoa!" Two said, putting his hands on One's shoulders, "Where's the fire, buddy?"
"Did Luck just come out of my floor?"
"You mean the pretty blonde lady who gives me candy?" Wong asked, perking up, "Yeah, she just appeared outside the door and ran past us. I think she was going for a plumber 'cause her face was leaking."
Two cuffed Wong on the back of his head, "It's called crying, moron." Looking back at One, he asked, "You made her cry?"
"I don't … I mean, I don't think …" One let out a sigh. "Look, I just got back, and she was here, and I … I kissed her."
"You kissed, huh?" Two did a double take. "Wait, you actually manned up and kissed her?"
Blushing, One said, "Yeah. Look, that's not the point."
"And she ran away? You must be a lousy kisser."
One felt cheeks grow even hotter. "Not funny, Two."
"I know, I know; Take it easy, One." Two chuckled a moment before adding thoughtfully, "That is a bit weird though."
Two shook his head, saying, "I don't mean like that; Luck's been waiting for you to come to your senses for over two-hundred years."
"I … wait, what?"
Two shrugged. "I told you she really liked you."
While they were talking, Wong had taken the opportunity to sneak over to the Breath of Fire. His eyes as wide as baseballs, he leaned back to get a better view until he nearly fell backwards. "Whoa, cool! A giant robot! Hey Two, why don't you have a giant robot on your floor?"
"Get away from there!" Two snapped.
One waved him off, saying, "It's inactive now. Still not sure what it was doing in Ircandesta, though."
"Maybe that Cygros guy knows somethin'." Two suggested, "I mean, it's his country, right? You'd think if anyone would know, it'd be the king elf."
They watched as Wong climbed over the machine like a cat trying to find a place to sit.
"Are you sure it's okay for him to be doing that?" Two asked, his hands twitching slightly.
"It's fine," One assured him, "He can't hurt it."
Two shrugged. "If you say so. Well, however it ended up on Vinta, it's here now. Hey, you're done with your assignment now, aren't you?"
Surprised, One fished the assignment instructions out of his pocket and scanned it over to find Two was correct; the last thing on the list was making sure Mikaen returned to Muonsol safely, which One had already finished.
As Two clapped him on the shoulder, One felt strangely hollow. It was over? Already?
One shook his head. "There's gotta be more. I'm gonna go check in with Teach."
Wong hopped off the Breath of Fire, having finished his inspection of it. He ran up to One and asked, "Can I have it?"
A mental image of Wong flying around mainstream reality in the Breath of Fire and the havoc that would ensue ran through One's head. "Not a chance."
Wong and pouted. "Puh-lease?"
Rolling his eyes, One ignored him and asked Two, "What about Luck? I know I'm not the ladies man you claim to be; did I do something wrong?"
"With Luck? No idea. The female mind is harder to predict than this weirdo." Two jerked a thumb at Wong, who was still poking around the Breath of Fire, "Tell you what; if I see her first, I'll see what I can find out."
"Thanks, man." One gave Two a comradely punch on the shoulder.
Two opened his mouth to reply when his eyes focused on the Breath of Fire. "Hey! Knock it off, Wong!"
Wong, who had produced a mallet and was playing the Breath of Fire's teeth like a xylophone, looked up at his mentor and shrugged.
Leaving Two and Wong in the dreadnaught bay, One left his floor and headed for the Library. Twice, he almost doubled back and headed for the mall instead; both times, he decided to go ahead and confirm that his assignment was complete. If Luck didn't want to be found, he wasn't going to find her.
As One entered the library, he called out, "Teach! Yo, Teach! You here?"
Books all over the library took to the air like a flock of startled birds and clobbered him in a cloud of musty pages and leather binding. Teach rushed around the corner moments later. With a wave of his hand, he sent the books back to their respective perches.
One was no worse for the wear. "Thanks, Teach. I'm … aack!"
The large book on which One was now sitting dumped him unceremoniously onto the floor and gave him a good wallop to the head before flying back to its proper shelf.
Teach chuckled as he helped One to his feet. "Come on, One; you know better than to startle them like that."
One shot a nasty look at the book he had been sitting on. It fluttered slightly on its shelf, like a bird settling down in its nest.
Teach chuckled. "Did you enjoy yourself last night?"
"Yes, I …" One glared at Teach, his mind finally making the connection. "You knew all along, didn't you? All the little side missions and sneaking around … all of it was just window-dressing! It had to be me who took the assignment because I have the Final Fantasy."
Teach smiled. "How did she perform?"
One cracked his knuckles. "I took a few hits, but the Breath of Fire was no match for me."
"Ah, the Breath of Fire. That was another of Crash's dreadnaughts, wasn't it?"
One nodded. "One of the three first. Actually, the Breath of Fire's why I'm here; what was a dreadnaught built on Earth-"
"-doing in Ircandesta?" Teach finished, "That is indeed a good question. You could investigate it if you want, but I'd recommend waiting until after your well-deserved vacation."
"Huh? But shouldn't I-"
"No, you shouldn't." Teach smiled at him. "You've completed the assignment, One. Great job, as always."
So it was true. One still had trouble believing it. "Are you sure?"
Teach laughed, saying, "Quite sure. Now, as I recall, I made a promise to you. I believe you wished to take a vacation? I've taken the liberty of spreading word through the Elsewhere that you are not to be disturbed for any reason."
Teach gave him an odd look. "Why so gloomy? You did a good job, One. You helped Mikaen find a home, a purpose, and someone to care about."
"Yeah, you're right. It's just …" One let out a sigh. "Have you seen Luck?"
"Not recently. Why? Is something wrong?"
"She kinda ran off on me."
Teach seemed just as surprised as One. "She just disappeared? That is unusual. Was she acting strange?"
"No, she seemed happy, then she saw the Breath of Fire and ran off." One let out another sigh. "I don't understand it."
"That is strange. I'll tell you what." Teach said, putting an arm around One's shoulders, "You go ahead and take your vacation. I'll ask Karma about Luck, maybe do a little poking around of my own, and then I'll let you know what's up."
"Thanks, Teach." One said gratefully.
"No problem, my young friend. Will you be heading out now?"
"Nah, I've got something I want to check on first."