The Meaning of Rue

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I own few things. If I owned Threads of Fate, I'd own a lot more.

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The sad ending

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"I can't." Rue whispered softly. "I can't." He lifted his head, looking at Askaram. "I can't choose." He whispered. "Life without Claire-I've hated it these past eight years. Either way I choose, I can't live with her..."

"That's right, Rue." Askaram said, nodding. "Staying the way you are-it's the closest you'll ever be to being with her. Her spirit is, after all, staying within you."

Rue bowed his head. "But it's not the same..." He thought miserably. "It's not the same..."

Askaram leaned back, looking at Rue steadily. "So." She said softly. "Do you still want to use my powers?"

Rue shook his head. What was the point?

"Leave, then." Askaram said, waving him off with one slender hand. "I have no use for you, and you have no use for me. Don't waste any more of our time."

Rue nodded dumbly and turned to leave from the cavern. Behind him, Askaram's form turned black and melted into the floor.

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Eight years...eight long years...

Rue stepped out of the dungeon and winced, covering his eyes with his hand. The late afternoon sun was shining brilliantly, glaring straight into his eyes.

Eight years...eight years of searching, only to arrive at a dead end.

"{Expletive} it!" Rue swore violently, slashing the air with his sword as a sudden fury filled him. His sword clanged against a stone, kicking up sparks.

"Why?!" He yelled at the sky. "Why does it have to be this way?!"

Enraged he attacked the ground, slamming his blade into it over and over again, hacking deep furrows in the dark brown earth. The sword bounced off a stone and jumped up to whack him in the face; Rue cursed again and dropped the sword -before dropping to his knees. He covered his face in his hands.

"I'm sorry, Claire..." He cried, shuddering as his chest tightened with pain. His voice was strangled and strange. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry..."

"You never should have died." He thought numbly. "It was my fault then and it's my fault now-no matter what I do, you're going to die and I'm going to keep on living.
"Claire, I don't want to live without you!"

He rose shakily to his feet and picked up his sword from where it had fallen. Despite the hard wear of many years and its most recent, brutal thrashing, the blade was still intact, and still very sharp. Rue put the edge of the circular blade to his neck and closed his eyes.

"Hang on, Claire." He whispered softly. "I'm coming."

He thrust his head forward just as he punched the blade back -- the intention was to cut his own throat and to end his misery. But someone grabbed him by the arms and dragged him back.

"HEY! What do you think you're doing?!"

He opened his eyes, torn between fury and utter confusion-who was trying to stop him? To his horror and utter shock, it was none other than Mint.

"Wha-wha-wha..." He stammered, jumping back from her. "What are you doing here?!"

Eight years had gone by, and unlike Rue, Mint showed every sign of their passing. She had grown into a tall, imperious-looking woman, sleekly muscled and dangerous-looking. She wore an ankle-length version of her former adventuring outfit, her hair pulled back into two long pink ponytails that nearly dropped to the ground. Her red eyes looked positively murderous.

"What am I doing here?!" Mint repeated his question furiously. "What do you think? Just because I'm the co-queen of the East Heaven kingdom doesn't mean I've given up my dream!"

Rue couldn't believe it. "You're still planning for world domination?"

"Yeah!" She said with a firm nod of her head. "Since the Book of Cosmos went kaput, the East Heaven kingdom's been without a {relic} to back the royal family up! I'm not standing for that! Besides," She grinned evilly, "One {relic} for me means one {relic} closer to world domination!"

Rue blinked, unable to believe that after nearly ten years, she still had the same ambition. He felt a bitter twist of envy in his heart. If only he could be so determined...

Mint was still talking. "...except that Maya's not helping me, that means I've got to do it all by myself!" She cursed so vilely that Rue was stunned, and she shook her fists. "Can you believe that little snake?!"

Rue jumped as her ruby eyes snapped back to him. "But enough about me." She growled in a low, deadly tone. "What were you doing, Rue?"

Now that he was faced with his actions, Rue suddenly felt awkward and ashamed. "I..."

Mint wasn't in the mood for excuses. She whacked him soundly over the head with one clenched fist, something that she could do quite easily now that she stood almost a head taller than he did. "Are you stupid?" She demanded, her ruby eyes flashing. "Trying to kill yourself-you're disgracing the last gift Claire left for you!"

Rue didn't understand. ""

"Yeah!" Mint hit him again for good measure, striking him so hard that stars exploded in his vision. "Didn't she die trying to defend you?"

The memory of that awful night swamped Rue with a wave of overpowering guilt. "...yes..." He whispered, bowing his head.

"If you killed yourself, you'd be making her sacrifice worthless!" Mint snapped, putting her hands on her hips. "Is that what you want, to make her life worthless?"

"I want her life back! I want Claire back!" Rue cried, looking up at her.

Mint was not moved. "Then go find a {relic}, like you're supposed to!"

Rue shook his head miserably. "It won't work...Askaram's {relic} will bring her back to life, but she'll still die!"

"Askaram's {relic}?" Mint looked keenly at the dungeon entrance from which Rue had come. "So it's in there..."

"Yes." Rue nodded and motioned with one hand. "Go on-take it. I don't need-I can't use it."

Mint nearly ran for the entrance, but stopped herself. Since the five years from their parting, she had apparently become more mature.

"Rue, what do you mean 'she'll still die'?"

Rue felt his chest seizing up. Choking slightly, he said, "Askaram's {relic}- Timshel-it can bring Claire back to life. But Claire is human- she'll still die in the long run. And I..." He looked at Mint, smiling a little sadly. "You know, don't you? I'm not human."

"So what? You think she'll be afraid of your freakyness?" Mint asked, tilting her head.

Rue laughed at Mint's bluntness but was embarrassed to hear a watery chuckle spill out from between his lips. "Claire...already knew what I was. But I..." He looked up at Mint. "Mint, I'm going to live forever."

She looked very skeptical. "One good jump-kick to the head could fix that."

"I mean, I won't die unless I'm killed." Rue looked down at the ground. "I'll go on living a long time after Claire herself dies..."

"Oh." Mint went oddly silent. Rue didn't say any more.

Time passed by. A few long moments stretched out before Mint finally said, "I think you're being a wimp."

Rue looked up at her, stunned and not a little outraged. "Excuse me?!"

"You heard me!" Mint said loudly, stepping toward him. Pointing at him with a hand that was callused from years of fighting, she said, "Plenty of people die all over the world and leave their loved ones behind! Do you see the survivors committing suicide left and right?"

"No." Rue admitted.

"So what gives you the excuse?" Mint demanded. "Huh? Tell me that!"

Rue couldn't think of any real reason. What did give him the excuse? The more he thought about it, the more ashamed he felt of his behavior.

Mint continued her verbal assault. "And you know what, Rue? If you die, Claire dies with you. After all, she's alive in your heart and mind, isn't she?"

Rue blinked-was she? For eight years he had thought of nothing else, no one else...if he closed his eyes he could still see her smiling at him, could hear her talking to him...

"If you die, who's going to remember her?" Mint asked. "I sure as hell won't. And I don't think anybody else will, either."

Mint hesitated, and then put a hand on his shoulder. He looked at her, surprised. It was the first time they had ever physically touched. "Rue." She said softly. "You're the only one who can keep Claire alive. Don't kill her by killing yourself, all right? You can't give up. Never give up."

Rue stared at Mint as though he had never seen before. In actuality, a similar scene from the past was flashing before his eyes.

"Never give up!" She had said. "Never give up!"

"I won't." Rue said softly. "I...won't give up."

Mint patted him solidly on the shoulder. "Good!" She turned back toward the cave mouth and suddenly danced, clapping her hands together. "Ooh, I'm so excited! Finally I'll get my hands on a {relic}!"

Rue watched her dance, stunned and amused that she was still "Mint." He called softly.

"Huh?" She glanced over her shoulder.

"Thank you." He said, smiling a little at her. "For-"

In vintage Mint fashion, she totally ignored him. "Whatever, Rue! Just don't do something stupid!" She dashed for the cave mouth.

"Wait, Mint!"

She skidded to a stop, kicking up the sticks and dead leaves of the forest loam as she halted her forward dash. She turned around impatiently, pink pigtails flying.

"What?!" She demanded.

Rue shrugged, laughing slightly. "I...I don't know what to do. All my life I've been searching for a way to bring Claire back, and now that I can't..." Pain spasmed in his chest, but Rue knew he could deal with it. Everybody in the world had pain. "Mint, what do I do?"

"I don't know!" She snapped, turning back around to face the cave. "Go to Carona, or East Heaven kingdom, or something! There's got to be some way you can make yourself useful!" She looked over her shoulder one last time, her ruby eyes flashing. "You're not good for just one thing, you know!"

And with that, she dashed inside the cave. Rue could hear her singing faintly, "{Relic}, {relic}, here I come! Queen of the world Mint is coming!"

He chuckled, shaking his head-the chuckles grew louder and louder, finally bursting out of him in a great fountain of laughter. He laughed so hard that he fell down and didn't get up.

Yes, he decided, things could be painful. They would be painful. But he would live.

Rue sat up and got to his feet, dusting himself off. Yes, he would live.

And Claire would live too.

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A/N: Rue is a word that means 'regret'. When I first looked at the game, I remember thinking 'what a sad name to give to a character'. And then I played the game and found out what a sad little boy Rue was. So very, very sad...

I do feel sorry for the dude. But man, talk about an obsession! You'd think he'd accept the fact that people die-everybody else in the world does.

The title has some special symbolism; Rue means regret, and also, Rue finds out what he wants to do for the rest of his life. He finds his own meaning. Deep, isn't it? Yeah...

Anyway, hope you enjoyed my shot at Threads of Fate fanfiction; on a happy note, I'd like to say that I typed all three parts of this in one day- one day! Woo ha ha! Who's the queen of the world? ME!

(Mint jump-kicks klepto_maniac0 in the head)

OW! Until next time, readers...see ya!

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