Epilogue - Good Night, True Knight
Mikaen awoke from his dreams feeling more refreshed than he had in years. He sat up slowly and set his feet gingerly on the floor, a reflexive flap of his wings lifting him off the bed.
Mikaen walked past the couch where Teria was currently napping and stepped out onto the balcony. He stretched his arms and back, his wings reflexively extending as far as they could go.
"Ah, you're awake." Teria wiped the sleep from her eyes and watched Mikaen with a smile as he stretched his wings, his feathers rustling slightly as a breeze passed through the window.
With some difficulty, Teria managed to get to her feet. As she tried to rub some feeling back into her legs, she asked, "You feeling okay?"
"I feel great!" Mikaen let out his breath slowly, his wings retracting against his back as he let his arms fall to his sides. "Better than great, actually."
Teria grinned at him. "I'm not surprised; you've been asleep for three days."
Mikaen looked at Teria in surprise. "Three days?"
Limping to the rail of the balcony, Teria said, "Some kind of sentient Gineros recharge thing. Trystan tried to explain it to us, but I wasn't really listening."
Mikaen asked, "Where's Tirinia? Is she okay?"
"Sis? She's sleeping right now. Y'know, she sat with you for two whole days before she finally konked out."
Teria smiled and put a hand his shoulder. "She really cares about you. You feel the same way, right?"
Mikaen blushed, but his smile made his feelings on the matter quite clear.
"Ha! Good." Walking more or less normally, Teria headed for the door. "I'll let you get dressed now. I'm ready for a little bit more napping myself."
As she started to go, Mikaen asked, "Could you tell Tirinia something for me? When she wakes up, of course."
"Sure. Whatcha got?"
Rubbing the back of his head, he said, "Tell her … thanks for watching over me."
She chuckled as she headed for the door. "Take it easy, Mikaen."
As she shut the door behind her, Mikaen caught a glimpse of his profile in a mirror. He spread his silvery-white wings wide, crouching as though about to take flight. He pulled them tightly against his back, so that only the very tips were visible, brushing against his ankles. They fit his back quite naturally.
"What can I say, dude? The wings definitely suit you."
Mikaen smiled at the sound of One's voice. "You were watching over me too?"
"Nah." One said as he sat on the edge of the bed, "Just got here. How are you feeling?"
"It's strange," Mikaen said, stretching his wings out again. "I had trouble imagining what it would be like to have wings. Now, I can't imagine not having them."
One shrugged. "Genetic memory. Go figure."
As Mikaen spread his wings wide, a sudden thought occurred to him.
"One," He asked, "How did the Breath of Fire get here?"
"I'll be damned if I know. Don't worry; I've got her back at the Elsewhere, so there won't be any more accidents."
A rush of thoughts passed through Mikaen's head: the suspicious behavior of the monks, the kidnapped delegates, and the Breath of Fire belching fire into the sky all pointed to something, but what?
"There's something else going on, isn't there?" Mikaen asked, "I mean, this mess with the Breath of Fire is just the beginning, isn't it?"
"Maybe." Seeing Mikaen's annoyed glare, One laughed. "Don't worry so much, Mikaen; I'm sure you'll have plenty of time to find your answers later. For now, I suggest you take a day to relax, get used to your wings. I bet flying would be a lot of fun."
Mikaen snorted. "I'm sure you've flown thousands of times."
"I've flown in machines, and there was this one time I fell off the Golden Gate Bridge, but actually flying, just me in the sky? Not in mainstream reality. To be honest, flying in the Dream Realm just isn't the same." One looked wistfully out the window as several birds flew by.
"Can't you just use your abilities to grow wings?" Mikaen asked curiously.
One snorted. "I wish. Nah, I can't change my physical shell that easily yet."
"It's one of those things that really require a lot more training and practice and stuff. Time manipulation, shape shifting, and teleportation get easier with time and practice. A few more centuries and I'll get there."
Mikaen raised an eyebrow at this. "Just how old are you?"
"About five hundred I think." Smiling apologetically, he added, "I don't really keep track of the exact number."
After looking over the Dreamer for a moment, Mikaen said with a grin on his lips, "You don't look a day over three-hundred."
They both chuckled a moment before falling silent.
"Well, you seem to be okay." said One, hopping to his feet, "I'll just be on my way."
"One? Could you do me a favor?"
"I AM doing you a favor, Mikaen. That's why I've been helping you."
Mikaen chuckled. "I was wondering if you'd deliver something for me, if it's not too much trouble."
One shrugged. "Sure. Why not?"
Mikaen pulled the data chip from the chain around his neck. Giving it a final glance, he tossed it to One.
One caught it and looked at it curiously. "Is this what I think it is?"
Mikaen nodded silently.
"What happened to all that 'It's my duty' crap?" One asked as he slipped the chip into his pocket.
"What with the monks and Tirinia …" Mikaen flushed. "I feel that my place is here."
Smiling reassuringly, One said, "I'll make sure Syrin gets it … and that she knows you're okay."
As One's hand closed around the door, Mikaen asked, "You're not coming back, are you?"
One let out a sigh. "I didn't want to say anything."
"Will I ever see you again?"
"You never know." One sighed. "Probably not, but that's a good thing."
"A good thing?"
"You've got a home, friends, someone to care for … and a bit of a mystery to keep you busy. If I hung around, I'd just get in the way."
Mikaen bowed his head. "I guess this is goodbye."
"Yeah, I guess so."
Without warning, Mikaen spun One around and gave him a comradely hug.
"Thank you, my friend." Mikaen whispered.
One whispered back, "Take care of Tirinia … and yourself."
As One started to leave again, Mikaen called out, "One more thing, One."
Mikaen grinned. "The Final Fantasy, huh?"
One laughed. "What can I say? I'm a gamer, through and through."
Still chuckling, One gave Mikaen a small bow and left the room.
Teria was waiting for him outside. Her hands on her hips and a red gleam in her eye, she demanded, "Just leaving again?"
One shrugged. "The assignment's over. There's nothing left for me to do."
"How can you say that after last night? If you go, who's gonna save the day when things go wrong?"
One pointed to Mikaen's room. "Try the local talent pool."
"Oh, very funny. Don't get me wrong; Mikaen's a great guy, but he's not even close to you." Teria blushed and quickly added, "I mean, you're a Dreamer."
"I can't become a crutch for Mikaen, or everything I've done will be worthless."
She turned around, and crossed her arms. "Fine. Just leave then, like you did last time."
"Teria …" One began. She didn't reply.
Sighing, One turned and began to walk away. He had hoped they could at least be friends. Maybe Two was right; maybe he was just too optimistic.
As his hand closed around the handle of the CPD, Teria said, "Promise me."
"Promise you what?"
"Promise me that you won't forget me again."
One closed his eyes. For an instant, he was back at Yuna Lake, looking into the eyes of a young Teria. His mind was full of uncertainties, but he knew there was only one thing he could say, no matter how much trouble it caused him.
One let out a sigh after he reappeared on his floor. He felt tired, more tired than he had felt in ages.
Teach was sitting on the couch, flipping through a black leather-bound notebook. Glancing up at One's approach, Teach smiled. "Ah, excellent. Well, you off for your vacation?"
"Yup. No interruptions this time, right?"
"Correct." Teach snapped his fingers, saying, "Oh, by the by; did Mikaen give you the data chip?"
"Yeah, it's right here."
As soon as he had fished the chip out of his pocket, Teach whisked it away. "Tell you what; I'll go ahead and deliver this for you."
"But I promised-" One began.
"To get it to Syrin, and that's exactly what I'm going to do. You have my word on it."
With a sigh, One said, "Your word's good enough for me. By the way, whatever happened to the Galden soldiers at the ravine?"
"Most of them went back home to report what happened. The leader and a small troop went to Ircandesta to speak with Jyle. You know, boring political stuff."
"Boring is right. On that note," said One, suppressing a yawn, "I think I'll head for bed."
Rising from the couch, Teach headed for the nearest door. "Enjoy your rest, my friend. You've earned it."
Once Teach was gone, One headed toward the private section of his floor. Reality fell away as he walked down the hallway; the carpet became soft grass, the cool rush of air conditioning became a warm breeze, and the walls of his floor faded, leaving only the twilit skies of the Dream Realm. In moments, he stood alone on his floating island, beneath the broad limbs of his tree.
He wasn't alone for long. Nixil appeared with a poof of smoke, looking as cranky as ever. One look at the Dreamer's face, however, made Nixil's scowl fade.
Landing on One's shoulder, Nixil asked, "You okay?"
"Yeah. I'm just tired, that's all."
"Headin' right out again?"
"Nah. I think it's time to finish my nap."
"Mind if I join you?"
One smiled at his Nixil. "Sure."
As One sat down, the trunk of the tree shifted so that he would be more comfortable. Nixil curled up on his stomach and sighed contentedly as One rubbed his furry little head. In moments, both Dreamer and nixil were asleep in the warm light of the distant Solarius.
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