Author's Note : Bloody Marle! Getting in the way! Thank you for pointing out that mistake. She's gone now!

Yeah, and by the way, I am aware that the sweet water dries up in the end of the game. Artistic license…?

Chapter Twenty

The noise of what felt like the world winding down rang, deafening, in their ears, and they were blinded by bright flashes of light. Crono glanced up sharply at a metallic clang that turned out to be Magus dropping his scythe to the ground. It was a gesture of defeat, but they had won. Surely, they had finally won.

The wizard spoke into the dead silence. "My life is over."

"What?" Frog demanded, pulling himself to his feet. He had not fought for three hours alongside these people to have one of them give up.

Magus turned his head only a little although he directed his words to Frog. "I have nothing more to live for. I devoted myself to this… vengeance. Now it's been achieved. There is nothing left."

He glanced down, helped Marle to her feet. The princess had, with her healing powers, brought him back from the brink of death countless times. You don't go through that without forming a bit of a bond.

"Life," Ayla said simply. Her voice was hoarse. She was a very vocal fighter, although her battle cries hadn't seemed to intimidate Lavos any. "Life is to live for."

Marle was pale. Crono went to her, wrapped his arms around her. No words were spoken between them. They were not needed. It was enough just to be there, to exist with each other, for each to feel the reassuring pulse of life emitted by the other. It had been a hard battle, but nobody had expected it to be easy.

"How do we get out of here?" Lucca wanted to know. She added acidly, "Considering that someone broke my Epoch…"

Her moment of doubt had not lasted once the battle began and she had fought with as much skill and determination as ever. She had done them proud. They had all done each other proud.

The world faded from around them and they found themselves back in the End of Time. Schala, who had transported them back, went around giving them all big hugs. Their strength seemed to return at this contact.

"Thank you all so much!" said the Entity happily. "You all fought so well… Gaspar and I watched the whole thing… I wish I could have helped you. That was a well-timed frog," she greeted Frog, referring to the big frog that he had dropped on Lavos at one point during the marathon battle.

"What will occur now?" Robo wanted to know.

Crono spoke reluctantly. "I guess we return you all to your own times…"

"What time?" It was Magus who had spoken. The wizard continued, "I have no timeline. Born in Zeal, raised in the Middle Ages…" He said flatly, "I won't go back to that castle. I won't return to either timeline. I have nowhere to go."

"Yes you do," Lucca reminded him, slipping her hand into his. The two were still a little awkward about all of this but pretty sure they would get used to it eventually. "You can stay with me. Remember?"

"Are you two finally together?" Marle wanted to know. Lucca and Magus exchanged glances. Lucca gave a shrug, then a nod.

"Good. Good," Ayla said approvingly. "Good match. Lucca strong, Magus strong. Many strong children." To Lucca, "You not young. Children soon."

"Not young?" Marle demanded. "She's not old enough!"

"Well, speaking biologically…" Lucca began, then shook her head. "No! What am I saying? No children just yet, thank you. Marle, remember that in the Prehistoric era, forty was probably ancient. People who lived to the age of," Lucca picked a number at random, "twenty-five were probably considered old."

"Uh-oh," Magus remarked, and Schala looked a little worried.

"But you're almost old by those standards," Marle pointed out to Ayla, who nodded.

"Ayla very old, very bad. Soon children."

"With Kino?" Marle teased.

"Kino strong, be strong father," Ayla agreed.

"Well, if it suits you, that's fine," Magus began, "but I think we can wait for a while before we consider children, if you don't mind."

Crono had a thought. "Did anyone actually use the items that the Mages gave us?"

"Well, considering that Lucca burned my other scythe…" Magus began.

"Shut up!" Lucca shot back. "I think I used Combustion once, and I know Frog got one of the Lavos bits with his dagger."

"Cape good!" Ayla put in. She was wearing the silver cape that Ciaruse had given her.

Silence for a time. Then, "I suppose that it is time for us to say our farewells," Robo said reluctantly.

"Oh, not yet!" Marle pleaded. She turned to Crono, began, "Make them stay a…" She hesitated. "Crono, what is that big evil smile for? What are you planning?"

"Could you call the Mages, please?" Crono asked Schala. "Just ask them all to come here."

"Sure," Schala agreed. "May I ask why?"

Crono's smile widened, if that was possible. "Because, as a way to celebrate our victory, we are going to have a very big party…"

The Meeting Place, the Prehistoric Era

Crono sat down, taking care not to spill his cup of sweet water, and glanced around proudly. The Mages were not being their usual irritating aloof selves and it was all his doing. He had, after all, introduced them to sweet water, with slightly disastrous results.

Ciaruse had had one cup of sweet water, which had proved to be one too many. She had spent the next half an hour in hysterics before going to sleep, which was really for the best. Tarkyn was watching how much he drank and refused any efforts to have the stuff pressed on him. Jandegar proved to be quite nice, really, when he was talking a mile a minute and not being evil. Kerrelei and Jhyskar were just funny. Tarreiz was drunk, and I really mean drunk. The Mage of Vision seemed to have little tolerance for alcohol and it all went to her head. She had lost all common sense and was willing to drink anything she was given, which was possibly fatal.

Kelke did not drink. The Shadow Mage had been invited along with the others but he sat to one side, saying and doing nothing. He reminded Crono of… well, of how Magus had been before all of this had happened. Crono glanced around for Magus, saw him playing Twister with Lucca and Schala. Marle was turning the dial. She and Crono had discovered the game during their little adventure in the year 2002 and had brought it back with them. Ahh, modern technology was a wonderful thing. Well… technology a little less modern than that in Robo's era.

Where was Robo? There he was. Tarreiz was attempting to teach him something called the 'robot' dance. Crono watched for a while but swiftly lost interest. Who did that leave? Ayla and Alfador. Ayla had gone to get some more sweet water. There wasn't quite as much as there had been before, but there was enough. Oh, there was plenty. And Alfador? Where was he, then?

A meow made Crono look down. He smiled, gave Alfador a bit of a pat. The cat had become somewhat of a mascot and everyone loved him, particularly Magus. Which made sense, because Alfador was Magus' cat. Alfador did not drink either. Magus had expressly forbidden it on pain of black triangles of extreme doom.

"Do you know what we should play?"

Crono looked up at Tarreiz. "I don't want to know what we should play."

"We should play, we should play…" The Mage looked around as though for inspiration. "I've forgotten what we should play…"

Crono set his cup to one side, got up to steer Tarreiz somewhere relatively safe. "Weren't you teaching Robo how to dance?"

"He doesn't move very well," Tarreiz explained. "It's something to do with all the joints…" She giggled most alarmingly, got over it. "I could teach you how to dance…" she said a bit suggestively, leaning on him.

"Why don't you teach Tarkyn?" Crono suggested, heading for the Forest Mage.

"Because I hate him."

"Of course you don't, you simply don't get along."

"I hate him," Tarreiz declared. "I don't want to dance with Tarkyn… he sucks…"

Crono waited for the rest of the phrase/insult but it did not appear to be forthcoming. "He sucks what?" he asked finally, curiously. "Cough drops?"

"He just sucks. It's a phrase from the near future… or the far future, I forget…"

"Of course it is," Crono replied kindly and handed Tarreiz to Tarkyn, despite her protests.

"You suck," Tarreiz told her 'fellow' Mage as Crono moved away.

"Thank you," Tarkyn responded uncomfortably. He wasn't entirely sure what she meant, but he was pretty sure it was an insult. "You know, you and I need to talk."

"If you want to take advantage of me because I'm drunk, then you can't," Tarreiz informed him firmly.

"Who says I'd do that?" Tarkyn chided cheerfully.

"Yes you would."

There was a pause as they both tried to work this out. Tarreiz, who had answered the wrong statement (in her happy little drunken world, he'd have said 'I wouldn't do that'), put one hand lightly on his face and held his eyes with a gaze still steady and impressively mysterious. (Hey, she worked hard on the mysterious gaze.) Her voice and touch were gentle, tender, almost loving. Her words were anything but.

"There's nothing to talk about. Absolutely nothing. I hate you. I loathe and detest you. You should have told me why you wanted to break up… I was going to marry you, or something stupid. But you didn't. So I didn't. So we can never be together. Never." She studied him. "Is that what you wanted to talk to me about?"

"No," Tarkyn replied shortly, hurt. He had planned to discuss the relationship with her, figuring that she might be easier to reason with in this state. "Sit down," he ordered and wandered off.

Crono had witnessed the whole thing and guessed that it hadn't gone well. He turned and almost ran into Marle. "Did you try to play matchmaker without me?" the princess asked suspiciously.

"Not really. Well… no. I don't think so." Crono considered. "Not on purpose," he added. "Maybe accidentally."

"It didn't work," Marle noted. "I'll have to work on those two later…"

"Don't spend all your time in their universe," Crono warned.

"Of course not," she responded innocently. "Want to dance?"

"Um… I'm not very good at – "

She cut him off. "That's okay," she said and pulled him onto the 'dance floor' despite his protests.

The game of Twister had ended because their dial-spinner had run off to dance with Crono. Magus, Lucca and Schala untangled themselves with some difficulty and many cries of, "Hey! That's my robe!" and "Get off my cape!" After that, Schala went off to do something else, leaving Magus and Lucca alone with nothing really to do.

"Want a drink?" he suggested.

"Why not?" she shrugged and they wandered in the direction of the sweet water.

Magus leaned closer as they walked to say a bit wickedly, "You do remember what happened the last time you drank this stuff."

"Actually, I – wait. Unfortunately, I do remember," Lucca allowed. "You made me take my shirt off."

"You bargained with me. Never bargain with a slightly evil wizard, Lucca. We tend to cheat."

"You cheat in races and wrestling matches, too," she grumbled, pouring some sweet water into a cup.

"I won fair and square!" insisted Magus, hands on hips.

"You cheated and we both know it. Here." She handed him the drink, poured herself one. Taking a sip, she turned to survey the place. "Do you think the Mages are having fun?"

"Do you care?" he retorted.

"Well, I…" She considered. "To be honest, I'd be happy to have nothing to do with them ever again."

"Do you think we will?" Magus asked doubtfully. "Have something more to do with them, I mean."

He had put an arm almost hesitantly around her waist; she leaned against him a little to let him know that it was okay. It was more than okay. "I… don't know. I guess we'll find out." Lucca had a decent mouthful of her drink, considered the scene before her. "Get a room, you guys!" she shouted at Crono and Marle, who didn't hear her.

"Do you want to dance?" Magus suggested.

Lucca glanced down at her cup. "I don't think I've had enough sweet water to agree to that."

"I think I've had too much," he muttered. "I can't believe I even suggested that."

She smiled at him. "You're learning. You can still be sarcastic at times and you are not to ever go anywhere without telling at least Schala, but you're learning to be good."

Silence for a time, a comfortable silence. Magus glanced down at her, gave a groan. "You've got that look."

"What look?" Lucca protested.

"The one that screams the fact that you're planning something. Like throwing me in the ocean in the pretence of washing my hair."

"It needed a wash," Lucca shot back, studying him. "It's growing."

"Oh, really?" he exclaimed with mock surprise. "Imagine that!"

She resisted the urge to thwack him. "Are you going to grow it long again or what?"

"I don't know," he shrugged, lifting one hand self-consciously to his hair. "I think I'll just see what happens. So what are you planning?"

"Well, it'd be really sad if we never saw each other again," Lucca began. "We should have… reunions in the End of Time. For old times' sake, you know."

Magus nodded wisely. "That's probably a good idea, but I don't know if it's just the sweet water talking. Ask me in the morning. But not too early in the morning…"

A second pause in the conversation, as comfortable as the first. "Now what?" Lucca asked.

"Let's go throw Frog again!" Magus suggested enthusiastically, turning back to the huge bowl of sweet water and picking up a clean cup.

"I don't think he'd agree to that," Lucca cautioned.

"Not yet," Magus agreed, his eyes gleaming wickedly.

"What are you – " He held up the now full cup and she groaned. "You're going to get him drunk?"

"What are slightly evil wizards for?" he retorted and, taking her hand, pulled her away to start some minor mischief.

Kelke sighed to himself and gazed mournfully into space, doing his best to ignore the drunken revelry around him. They were all going to regret this in the morning and he would be the only one without something he wished he hadn't done. Let the others keep their stupid sweet water. He didn't need them. He didn't want to be here anyway. They hadn't even thought to supply party food. Imagine, the nerve! Letting a poor Shadow Mage go hungry….

…oh… what was the point? So he wanted to join in. It was better for everyone if he didn't. He wouldn't be welcome. Evil people weren't allowed to have fun. Look at Magus, he had decided not to be evil any more, and now he was having fun. Still… that meant that Kelke was the most powerful evil wizard around the place. His Universe or Magus'. He brightened up a little at the thought.

Purple entered his vision. He blinked, but it didn't go away. Glancing up, he met Schala's eyes. "What do you want?" he snapped.

"Come and dance," she suggested.

Kelke was instantly on his guard. "Why? What are you planning? You hate me! I won't let you humiliate me. Why would you want to dance with me?"

Schala ticked off the reasons on her fingers. "One, I've had just enough sweet water to offer you this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Two, I think you've earned some fun, and no, I'm not doing this because I feel sorry for you. Three, it would really irritate Janus." She held her hands out to him. "So come on."

Janus. Her name for Magus. Kelke glanced over at his arch nemesis, smiled at Schala. "Well… how can I refuse?"

"But I do not wish to drink more sweet water," Frog protested. "Last time I woke up in a tree. Hast thou any understanding of how unsettling that is for one's nerves, to awake in a tree?"

"It's a party, you're supposed to have fun," Lucca beseeched. She glanced up at Magus to ask for his aid – this was his idea, after all – but found that he wasn't even paying attention. He was looking at the 'dance floor'. No, glaring.

"Magus?" she asked uncertainly.

Magus glanced back at her, then at Frog. He took the untouched cup of sweet water from Frog, knocked it back in one go, blinked a few times and gazed off into the distance, came back to prehistoric Guardia with a jolt and handed the cup back to Frog. "Right," he said finally. "I think I can handle it now."

"Handle what?" asked Frog, mystified.

"Kelke is dancing with my sister," Magus explained. "Well, two can play at that game. Come on, Lucca."

"But I'm only going to make a fool of – " she protested, but he pulled her onto the 'floor' anyway.

Lucca found to her surprise that she was enjoying herself. Magus didn't really know how to dance either and soon forgot that he was meant to be impressing Kelke or someone with his 'skill'. "I've been thinking," he said as he twirled her under his arm.

"Oh? How unusual," Lucca laughed, falling against him.

"Don't be mean," he chided, setting her back on her feet. "Don't you want to know my thoughts?"

"Do I have a choice?"

"No. Do you know how to waltz?"


"Me neither. Tango?"

"Sure!" Lucca replied, although she didn't, and they did that tango thing that people always do. It was very melodramatic, especially when you take his cape into account.

"So what's this thought of yours?" she asked finally.

"I think your idea is good! We should all meet up in the End of Time! Regularly! Like clockwork!"

"Is that all? That thought? That's this great thought of yours?"

"Yes! What do you think?"

"I think yes!" she replied, grinning. "Can I have that in writing? Someone thought I had a good idea?"

"Do you know what else I think?" Magus began before launching into something completely unrelated. "Were you watching Tarreiz when she was trying to teach Robo to dance?"

"No, when was that?"

"We were playing Twister!"

She moved in close, put her hands on his shoulders. "Now what were you doing watching Tarreiz?" she demanded with mock-suspicion.

"You know I'd only ever seriously watch you," Magus responded and twirled her again.

"Do you want to know what I think?" Lucca began.

"No, but I'm going to!"

"I think you're drunk!"

"I think we're both drunk!"

"I'm not drunk, I'm just a bit tipsy," she giggled. A pause. "Wait, I'm giggling. Okay, I'm drunk!"

"What I think," Magus continued, "what I think is that… I think I'll live in the End of Time!"

"Why?" she wanted to know.

"Because it's a place to live? I mean, I'll have to build a house… and then you can come visit me whenever you want to!"

"I can't, silly! The Epoch's broken!" she reminded him.

"So fix it!" he shot back, twirling her in close. "And you always have the Gate Key… and I am not silly."

"You're right," she exclaimed with amazement. "On both counts."

"So you can come visit," he repeated, softly this time.

"That'd be great," she agreed as Magus put his arms around her. Lucca rested her head on his shoulder and smiled. "Really great," she said softly and settled down to really enjoy life.

The End

All right.

This is the end of my trilogy. (You can tell, I wrote 'the end' and everything.) There are still some ends to tie and I plan to write a fourth story in my Crono Trigger saga for my own personal amusement. Do you want me to post it, or do I do what I should have done two stories ago and just stop? Do you reckon it's gone too far away from the game itself? The fourth one will have nothing to do with the game except for the characters. It's up to you. If the fic isn't going to be well received then there's hardly a point in posting it. It will be written regardless (which sounds an awful lot like a threat). It just depends on whether or not you want me to inflict it upon you.

Be warned. This could spawn another and another and another until you are all most thoroughly sick of me. I'm sure I'll learn to stop… someday.

Hmm, yes. I am currently working on the fourth story, which will involve Kelke joining the group for a brief time, and have also started the fifth (although I haven't yet finished the fourth). The fifth one… no, if I try to describe it here, it will sound like something that's been done before. It is like something that's been done before, but I swear mine has a twist.

I will not be posting the fourth story for a very long time as I have to put all my time into failing Year Twelve first. After I've done that and then found a job as a garbage collector or something, I shall get back into my writing. (Wait, I can't be a garbage collector! I haven't got my driver's license! Damn…)

Until then, I'll see you all later. Have good holidays, for those people whose holidays correspond to mine! And for anyone in Year Twelve or terminale or whatever it's called all over the world, good luck… study harder than I have been studying…