"Hey, guys! It's wonderful to see you here!", Robin exclaimed enthusiastically, once she saw Cage and Myona on the Saoshyant's bridge.
"Hi, Robin", Myona greeted her, smiling broadly. "How are you doing?"
Robin sighed, tired. "It's not easy to get used to this place being so silent, you know... It's been hard, but we are trying our best to cope with it"
"Who's still here?", Cage asked.
"Warren, Mebius and Lia are still staying, for the time being... Twede and I... and Ares", she counted, thoughtfully. "Yukito's already moved with his family, taking care of his father with his siblings. And Semyl and Razma were the first ones to move back to the orphanage"
"Yes, they are helping there, and everything seems to go smoothly", Cage said, satisfied.
"It's incredible... to think that just four months ago we were living altogether in this big structure", Myona said, amazed. "It was quite like the Big Brother... and it seems so long ago", she remembered, softly.
"Yes, it's so odd", Cage agreed with her, nostalgically.
"And what drives you here? Are you just here for a social visit?", Robin asked, smiling.
"We've come to pick the things we left behind when we moved...", said Cage
"... and to pay a visit, obviously", Myona added quickly.
Robin laughed. "It's alright. I know you weren't fearing that we had thrown your belongings away. Don't worry, everything's just like when you left it", she said, smiling. "That also explains why Hazel came to pick Ares to go to the Hospital today. Not that she doesn't come for other reasons. Meanwhile, Cynthia's stuck with her College entrance exam, studying hard, and Arantxa's full into her photography course"
"Yes, she offered herself. It was quite considerate of her, as we have to rush to sign our rent contract today", Cage explained.
"You managed to find a better apartment so soon?", the light haired woman asked, amazed. "I can't believe it! Then, your small business must be going great!"
Cage blushed. "We work as much as we can..."
"That means, the entire day, 24/7", Myona added, smiling tired.
"Congratulations! I... I don't know what to say!", Robin admitted, touched. "I mean... you are like our little chickens... and now you proved to have some strong wings to fly against the wind..."
Cage checked his wristwatch. "Hey, Myona, we'll have to hurry. We have little time"
"We'll talk better another day, Robin, I promise", the purplish haired girl apologized.
"Alright, just feel like home!", she told them, as they started walking along the corridor.
Robin stared at them, proudly. She felt so touched... she really felt like mother hen around her little chicken. Although they weren't chicken anymore. They were decided grown-ups, taking their own path...
Twede came into the main room, smiling at Robin. He had heard everything, there was no need to explain anything to him.
Robin sighed. "It's incredible... The youngsters already know what to do with their life, while we are clueless"
"That's because we've just been in only one area... they are just beginning to take roads and decissions..."
"... and we've already fucked them up"
Twede smiled. "But we are still in our way to mend those errors"
"I just hope that"
Back in their previous room, Myona and Cage started packing the few things they had left behind.
"It's a blessing that Hazel offered herself to pick Ares up, so we could pack our things and start setting them up at the apartment", Cage said, grabbing some things and putting them into a cardboard box.
"Yeah, I suppose so", Myona replied, unintherested.
Cage stared at her, surprised. He wasn't expecting that kind of reaction from Myona. "What's wrong?"
"I just can't understand her...", Myona said, slightly angrily. "I mean, if she can't be with him, wihy doesn't she leave him at ease and let him go on with his life?"
"What?", she asked, now really angry.
"You are dead jealous of Hazel"
"Oh, honey, yes, you are!", Cage went on, even more funnily than before.
Myona looked down, embarrassed. "It's not that I'm jealous... I want to see him well. And if she keeps up popping into and out of his life, I fear he'll start feeling something that it's not there... or that she'll start feeling it, by the way"
"You can't go on protecting him all your life, you know that, don't you?"
"I know... but he did that for me..."
"You have to let him be... if he gets hurt, he'll know how to overcome it"
"But his time isn't the same one as for you and for me"
"I know... but you can't wrap him in a pretty plastic bag to protect him until his time here's over"
"I know that, also... but he... he deserves to be free...", Myona said, teary-eyed. "She won't let him. She'll remind him every moment of what we have done..."
"Did he tell you that?", Cage asked, seriously.
"Well... no... but he's my brother, I know him!", she protested, annoyed.
"You know him well... in that case you already know that he had gone under worst circumstances and he managed to get out from those rather well, in one piece"
Myona nodded silently.
"And... let me tell you that both of you have gone under most stressful things than a girl... Hazel won't be a match for that", he said, determined.
Myona smiled at the joke. "Do you really think so?"
"Absolutely. They are too alike... he'll know when to stop seeing her... as well as she. They are quite experienced in what pain matters"
"Aren't we all here Masters on that?", she asked him, leaning her head over his chest.
Cage bit his upper lip. "Well, yes... but being so alike, and feeling the way they did... they have their own sub-especiality"
Myona giggled, finally relieved. "You did it... I'm not angry at her anymore"
"Great. Hazel can thank the Heavens that her throat will remain in its place for a while more"
"Oh, you are so mean!", she protested hitting his arm. "Am I so terrible?"
"When you get angry, you can be", he said, rubbing his arm, while winking at her.
Myona smiled, thankful. "Cage...?"
He hugged her, softly. "What, honey?"
She loved him even more when he called her like that. "Thanks... for being with me"
"Don't be silly... I should be thankful to you", he said, touched. "You've been my guiding light... Without you, I would still be a wimpy, whining guy"
"And without you, I would have never understood what living really was"
"I'll never let you go, nor I'll let you anyone to harm you again... Let's try to do our best to avoid those situations... to build peace from our little spot in the universe, shall we?"
It was an interesting proposal. To pay back some of the damage she had done in her BAHRAM days, to retribute the world her joy for having met Cage, even if it was in the oddest circumstances around.
She smiled, staring at him lovingly. "It's a gorgeous idea. Let's try it, doing our best"
Cage smiled back, satisfied, before leaving with a box filled with their wares.
"So, everything's fine?", Hazel asked, as Ares got into her car-like LEV, after coming out from the Hospital.
"Yes, everything's ok", he said, closing the door and putting his seat bealt on.
"That's great news, then", she said, smiling.
"I guess", said he, resigned. "I mean, I want to feel good, but I'm tired of the doctors and all that stuff"
"Then, I couldn't leave you alone, as you wouldn't have come"
"Come on, I'll take you home", she said, smiling. "And don't even think in leaving the treatment, or you'll just regret it in your death-bed"
"That wouldn't be the only thing I would regret", he was about to say, but had the good idea of staying silent, or he would hurt her feelings once again. Especially when she hadn't said anything about it for a long while.
Even if he hadn't said it, Hazel thought she knew what was going through his head, and was thankful that he didn't reply to her statement.
It was a strange situation, theirs.
While driving, Hazel recalled how she ended up doing what she was doing now.
It had been like two weeks since she had left the Saoshyant. She had returned there to pay her friend's a visit, to let them know that she was still alive and well. The entire place was a mess, with boxes and bags everywhere, as Semyl and Razma were moving to the orphanage, and Myona and Cage had found a little apartment in the city to move to.
Chatting with Mebius, she learnt that Ares was still feeling weak, but that he didn't want to visit a doctor, even if Myona was quite insistant on the subject.
Before she realized it, she was standing in front of Ares' door, hesitant. She was playing with her LEV's keys, without really paying attention to them, but thinking about something much more important: should she knock the door or not?
She was about to act just as Arantxa or Cynthia would have done to her when she was down: demandingly, bossy, dragging her to do things she didn't want to do. She still couldn't really forgive Arantxa for dragging her into the communications room at the Spaceport, only to make her announce the departures and the incoming trips during an entire evening, when she wasn't prepared for that. However, that helped her to overcome a bit the sadness she felt that day. She couldn't pay attention to anything else rather than the screens. Now, there wouldn't be any Spaceport involved, but she felt she had to do something about Ares' situation.
Breathing heavily, she finally got into the room, surprising Ares, who was messing with another button, to no end. "Come on, get your violet jacket and let's go to the Hospital", she said, seriously.
Ares stared at her, astonished. "I'm not going anywhere like that. I've had enough needles and medicines for two or three reincarnations"
"Whatever, I won't let you die that easily", she demanded. "This is what I was suppossed to do with my parents when they got old if... well, if circumstances had been different, so now I have to do it with you, ok? So get ready, that I won't wait for you much. I can easily change my mind, you know"
If circumstances had been different... now, that was a great start, coming from Hazel. She hadn't mentioned that he had killed her parents... maybe he wasn't the one who had to go to the Hospital...
And that was the beginning of Hazel's assistance to Ares. She bugged him to go to the Hospital several times, and when neither Myona or Cage, nor someone else, could go with him, she was there, ready to go. Not that he was already that bad that he needed someone with him constantly, but to act as some moral support and prevent any "disappearing act" from the Hospital or evading his visits.
Ares stared at her, silently. She looked stronger in a way, even if it had just been only four months since she started living on her own. He thought it would take her longer to get used to that life, since she had had problems to adapt to new situations through all her life, according to her.
It was nice, to see her like that. If she could overcome her difficulties, then why wouldn't he be able to do the same?
A nasty cough reminded him of his fragile condition, as if it was answering his own question.
He sighed. Even if he was improving with the new treatment, he was doing it slowly. Maybe he was just making his existance last longer, without any real recover. Whatever, he had to remember that he was already a "walking miracle", so he didn't have to press his luck further.
He would have to do what he could in his state, and accept it.
"And what have you been doing while I was being examined by all those physicians?", Ares asked her, curious. By "examining", he meant a couple of blood tests, some dialysis and general studies. Thing that took him a while, and gave Hazel enough free time to do many things outside the hospital.
"Well... I've been getting information about careers", she said, sighing. "Nothing serious, yet. I still don't know what I want to do with my life"
"Well, seeing how much time and effort you waste nursing me, you should make it profitable"
"I'll take that into account, Mr 'I'm waiting for my death anxiously'", Hazel teased him, turning right on a corner.
"It was a suggestion. You don't need to do this for me, you know"
"I know that very well, and I don't go with you everyday, just in a while, when Myona can't, or when she deserves a breath. Because if we wait for you to do it on your own, you would be already dead"
Ares sighed. He couldn't reply anything against that.
"What were you studying for when... well, when you joined BIS?", Ares asked, shyly.
"I wanted to become an arquitect", she replied. "I didn't know where I was standing, and I thought that by making the plans for great buildings I would find myself and my course in life again", she said, sarcastically. "Now, I don't know. I can't see myself on it. Maybe because my own building was destroyed, and took a long while to get it repaired. Or that the building couldn't prevent people from getting hurt during the attack. I just wished I could help in some way, and I don't think that by making houses and buildings I'll do much..."
"You'll have to deal with builders, too", he stated, sill picturing her as a fragile person, even if she had gotten quite talkative in the last few months.
"Yeah, there's also that. I can't hire some bodyguards to look after me, and no company will give me those", she said, teasingly. "What are you going to do now? The treatment looks promising, if you ask me", she said, with real interest.
He sighed. "I haven't thought about it, either. I think I'll start composing music, while fixing computers. That will give me an income, and I can spend the money in what I really like"
"Yes, that would be great... you play the piano really well", she said, in rememberance.
Ares noticed that she touched her neck as she said that. She must be wearing the button he had given her, even if she said she never used it anymore. He smiled at that thought.
It was time to change the way of the chat.
"What's that?", Ares asked, pointing to a brown paper bag from where part of a hand-drown lady could be seen. If he was not mistaken, he had seen the image of that armored lady before.
"It's an art commission of Athena, the Greek Goddess. I've found a great, delicious artist who's also hooked on Mythology... and who, luckily for me, doesn't charge much", Hazel explained, cheerfully. "I just needed to have something related to her, somehow... She had been helpful, you know? I never thought that something like that could have ever been possible"
Ares smiled. It was true. On Hazel, just like in Cage's case, Metatron proved to be worthwhile and helpful. She had been able to finally overcome her parents' tragic deaths, and even if she seemed dependant on Athenea now, who was also gone, she looked much stronger and capable to get over that duel sooner. Maybe because Athenea was a piece of Metatron, and she knew that the entire situation was insane. However, everyone noticed she missed her.
"It looks nice...", he said, just by the little corner he could see.
"It is nice... what I recall is nicest, but I'm biased, so that doesn't count", she said, smiling. "I love how people can come up with something pretty with their imagination...", she said, thoughtfully.
"Are you the artistic type?", he asked, his heart pumping fast at the prospect of a possible possitive answer. Maybe he could fulfill a promise...
"Oh, no... sadly. I really admire artists, but I can't draw to save my life"
"And what about dancing?", he asked, trying to keep his hope up.
"I've been born with two left feet, sorry", she said, shrugging at him, with a sadenned look in her face. "Why do you ask?"
"No, it was nothing", he said, trying to hide his disappointment. "I just recalled a girl at the Labs... she used to dance ballet"
"That's gorgeous!", Hazel said enthusiastically. But there was something in her voice that showed that her mind was somewhere else. Could it have been the girl with the plastic blue bracelet that she saw alongside her parents and Athena?
"She was so confident that we would get out from the Labs alive, that she said that she would take up ballet again..."
"Poor thing...", she said, guessing the outcome of the story.
"Yes, it's sad", said Ares, taciturn.
They become silent. Ares tried to overcome Faith's memories, to avoid thinking about his most probably unfulfilled promise. Hazel, on the other hand, got uncomfortable at the mention of another girl. What was going on with her? She didn't like Ares, she was just helping him out because she couldn't do the same with her parents... Their relationship was a strange one, but they were acquaintances... maybe they could become friends, if they could overcome their respective barriers...
She never thought she would found herself thinking that way... and being jealous of a dead girl. Things were starting to get odd for her. Luckily, Alen was coming, and he would get her world back in its place.
That reminded her that she hadn't tell him about her friend's arrival.
"Alen's coming in some weeks", Hazel finally said, after thinking for a while if she should mention that fact or not.
"Ok", Ares just replied.
"He's coming to join some Martian Gymnastics club... He says that the circuit here isn't as tough as the one in Earth, so he'll get in shape much sooner than if he stays at Earth", Hazel started explaining, worried. "However, I can still add 2 and 2, and I don't think that's his real reason, but his excuse. Since he can't take me to Earth with him, he's decided to stay here for a while, 'till he convinces me... that's my guess, but I think I'm pretty close to what's really going on in his head. I just can't imagine how his parents' are going to take it...", she added, thoughtfully.
She had been eager to explain the entire situation... that wasn't too normal in her.
"It's alright, you don't have to explain me anything", Ares said, calmly, smiling with that taciturn and strange smile of his.
"I just wanted to let you know before he came. I won't let you two get in contact, though... I can't guarantee Alen's behavior"
"It's alright. I'll try to evade him, and I don't think I'll have much problems doing that"
"Yes, we'll have to stop seeing each other as we did lately"; she admitted, calmly.
Ares couldn't tell if she felt happy or sad about the last statement.
"Would you like to visit the Monolith?", she asked, naturally.
Ares stared surprised at her. He wasn't expecting that. Even if they shared pains, they had decided to be on their own in those moments.
"Alright", he said, after a long pause.
"Great", the light blue-haired girl said, calmly. Slowly, she headed for the park.
Ares looked at her, trying to guess what she was thinking about. She was quite a mystery to him, and would always remain like that.
"Why are you doing this, Hazel?", he asked, finally.
Her hands tightened around the LEV's manuver. She was nervous.
"Just... don't keep pushing further", she said, nervously. "I still don't know how I do to control this..."
Ares remained silent, feeling sorry for having troubled her, both in the past and in the present. There had to be a way to be able to express his feelings without words. Through music it would take him much time, as he had to start learning how to compose from scratch. Something artistic it had to be...
"Hey, stop here, for a little while", he said, out of the blue. He saw something that gave him a good idea.
"Just in the corner. I'll be back in no time", he said, already opening the LEV's door.
When Hazel realized it, he was already outside. She had barely had time to park the LEV before he got out off it as if he were desperate. Now, what was going on in his head? Was it some medication the physicians gave him?
The answer puzzled her, once again.
"Flowers?", she asked, surprised.
Ares came into her LEV carrying some bouquets of different flowers of different species and colors.
"Some for the stolen innocence, others to ask for forgiveness, others to forget... a small bouquet for you to say both thanks and sorry", he explained, handing her a small bouquet of flowers, while keeping another one.
Hazel remained petrified, staring at the bouquet with mixed feelings. Finally, she got over her surprise and took it with a smile in her face, touched. "Thanks", she mumbled, blushing.
Ares just nodded at her. Words there would be out of place.
Soon, they reached the park. They had done the entire trip in silence since he gave her the flowers, which were now laying next to the picture of Athena.
He waited for her, while she closed her LEV, standing with a hand in his pocket, and the other carrying his bouquet of flowers. When she reached where he was, he started walking. They walked silently, side by side. They felt too touched to say anything.
The walk was a short one, since she parked the LEV in the closest corner to the Monolith.
Ares knelt down, placing the flowers over the piece of stone. Hazel stood behind, watching carefully. She always felt odd in that place, for some reason. She thought it was because it was like a cemetery, even if there was no grave, no name engraved on the stone.
The young man started ripping away the already dried up flowers that the wind hadn't taken with it. Soon, it looked much better, and not so desolate as when they had arrived.
"Not many people comes here, it seems", he said, for the sake of saying something.
"No", she replied, coldly. "For most people, dead people have to remain dead and don't deserve any respect or homage"
"It's cruel... but it's a cruel world. But we both knew that well before this, so I haven't found out anything interesting"
Hazel sat down and leant against the monolith, and a small arose in her lips, showing both her happyness and sorrow. "I know that most people may think that this -I mean, sitting here like this- is kind of unrespectful against the departed ones, but I think all the contrary. Like this, it's as if they were by my side... even as if they were hugging me", she said, smiling broadly, this time with her eyes closed, her entire being in rememberance.
For a short while, while staring at her in that pose, Ares could also believe that there were more people in that place than just the two of them.
"Thanks for letting me come with you, Hazel", he thanked her, finally.
She stared at him, funnily. "Don't ever mention it", she said, smiling. "I'm no one to tell you what to do or what not to do... Let's try to get along well, trying to overcome our differences. Let's make it for the friendship we would have had if things had been different. I've already felt too much pain, I don't want to torture myself anymore with something that I can't change"
"It's a wise decision", he said, smiling. "I may be the foolest guy around, after all. Everyone's giving me pleasant surprises, lately"
"No, I was the foolish one... just think to what ends the suffering can take you...", she said, thoughtfully.
"I know that very well"
"I know, it was rhetorical"
"I want you to be happy, Hazel"
"Me... too", she said, so softly that he had trouble to hear it.
But he did. Smiling broadly, he gave his hand to Hazel and proposed her, "Let's try to enjoy our best while we are still here"
He knew that she would be there for more time than what he would, but he didn't want to leave that exposed, because they both knew it.
Hazel stared at him deeply into his eyes, in agreement. "Sounds like a good plan. It's a deal", she said, shaking his hand.
"Do you think I'll give you many headaches with Alen?", he asked, worried.
"I'll deal with him, don't worry", she said, confidently. "Ready to return home?"
He took a final look to the Monolith. The feeling that he wasn't alone there was still around. "Yes", he said, strongly.
"Alright", Hazel said, staring at it once more. "We can come more often, if it makes you feel better"
"It makes me feel... strange"
"Yes, me too. It's quite a touching place"
"Yes, it is"
They started walking slowly to her LEV, under the setting sun over the deserted park.
"What a coincidence, to find them here", Mebius said, as she stared at Hazel and Ares from afar.
"Coming to think about it, it's not a real coincidence", Warren stated, considering the Monolith that stood in front of them, where the two youths were. "It's quite natural that they feel the need to visit that place"
"Yes, I know that... it's only that I never thought they would be together, given the circumstances"
"Well, you are right about that. Hazel has surprised us all with that sudden change of attitude"
"Yes, she now seems a complete different person..."
"Just what made her change her mind so much?"
"She said that the last time she was on her OF, some strange, wacky things happened, but she seemed to have found a meaning in her OF going nuts", Mebius explained, shrugging. "Maybe she was going through a lot of doubts about everything, and somehow she found the answer"
"I bet that Ares is as clueless as us... no, even more"
"Yes, poor lad...", she said, motherly.
"Should we join them?"
"No... let's them be on their own, even if there's no chance of a future relationship", Mebius said, smiling.
She noticed Lia running fast ahead of them.
"Lia! Don't run away like that!", Mebius called her daughter, worried, afraid that she might get hurt.
"I'll be fine, mommy!", the little girl said, waving at her.
"Oh, my God... she's the independent type", the blonde woman said, anxiously.
Warren laughed. "You couldn't expect a calm type after being raised up withint BIS"
Mebius giggled. He was far too right.
Too many things were changing for them, too. Warren wasn't the joking type, and now, slowly, from time to time he said something funny. Or at least, she found it funny. She, on the other half, wasn't as possesive around Lia as before, nor she was so reserved and defensive.
But what was more important, she didn't feel guilty anymore of being alive while her late husband and Tia weren't. And that made her lighter, freer...
"Hell, I hate this wind", Warren protested, rubbing his eye, since something had gotten into his it, carried by the wind.
He had his guard down. Now it was the time...
Mebius caught his sunglasses quickly, and put them quickly in her bag.
"Hey!", Warren protested. "I can't see anything with this sun!"
"You'll have to get used to!", Mebius said, funnily. "You are lucky because your skin is naturally tanned, but you would have a deep mark around your eyes if you keep using this all the time under the sun! You should better get used to stay without them!"
Warren sighed. "That's not the only thing I'll have to get used to..."
Mebius nodded. "A normal life... it's been ages since I last had one of those"
"I never had it, on the other hand", Warren said, sighing. "I have no idea how it is..."
"Much like the one we led until now, only that we aren't suppossed to live altogether, and there aren't any OFs and LEVs around... and we'll have to get a real job..."
"That's the worst part for me. I've never had a real job... well, not what most people would call a normal job"
"Don't worry... we'll see what we can do... I don't know why, but I think that Yukito will save the day again...", Mebius said, hopefully.
"I hope so..."
And slowly, the couple went on walking, staring at their little child Lia, who was running ahead of them, chasing some butterfly, as if she was chasing her own destiny...
Well... I've finally reached the fic's end. It's been my longest fic ever. I can't believe that it's finally complete. I have to edit some chapters, alright, but the story is finally in a document. It's... so strange!
I have to apologize to the ones who were waiting for a real fanfic for Fist of Mars. I started planning it before I ended the game, and I saw the slight chance to do it when, in the good ending, there wasn't any explicit line saying that Ares was dead (ironically enough, this also happened with another fic of mine, Trap for the Heart. The main male character, Uther, also dies on the game... now, what do I have with dead characters?!?). I needed him for Hazel's reaction, and I also thought that he deserved another ending, some second chance in life.
I also say that I have to apologize because I wrote more about my original characters rather than the cannon ones, who barely acted like a supporting cast in the sea of traumas of my troubled OCs. It wasn't expected, also. I learned to love my OCs, really (well, except Marrek, he was just made to be hated... now I feel sorry for him, hahaha. Well, not really).
However, I don't really feel like apologizing, because I liked the outcome... but well, if anyone who's looking for a 100% cannon story and is peeping the final chapter... well, you are already warned =D
I don't know if I'll do it (I also don't know if anyone cares), but I feel like writing a bit more about my originals. Maybe I'll even do the sequel, after all (but much shorter, and with less OF action, which I can not write!).
Many thanks to those who have followed this fic from the very beginning (Silvace –also, thanks for encouraging me to not stop writing this, when I just had the first chapter and half of the second done! You saved this from the recycle bin!-, Wing Zero Alpha), to those who read but never commented (sorry for the "crybaby" notes about reviewing, but I just needed to know what people thought of the course of the fic! I love constructive criticism!), and to those who'll read once it's complete. Thanks. And don't forget to tell me what do you think about it! Alright, just had to say it.
I hope you've enjoyed the fic as I did writing it.