When Mel "Hell Mel" de Alkirk was one of the Four Heroes, he was renowned for several different things: his earsplitting battle roar, his headsplitting axe, and his absolutely inextinguishable determined spirit. 

            Decades later, Mel met his match.


            It piled and piled, with its tiny little lettering and silly legal clauses that he didn't fully understand.  (Meribia rule #5 – "Say what yer damned mean and say it fast!")  He had nightmares about being buried in falling towers of papers, drowning amidst legal depths, and by damnit if he got one more papercut this week he was going to outlaw filing.

            Luckily this latest paperwork was a source of pride.  He was tying up the loose ends about that town he'd sent his daughter and that no good rapscallion with the tan and the easy smile to.  All fatherly condemnation aside, he grudgingly admitted (under duress, he might add, and only because his Jessica was pleading him to be civil and he was just helpless when she pleaded) that the two worked well together, and maybe even looked good together.  They kept the costs down, too.

            With a bit of a snicker, he recalled fondly that his dear wife's father didn't really much like HIM when they'd started dating, but Mel sure won him over swiftly enough (it had been easy, actually, his wife-girlfriend-at-the-time had just insisted that he leave it all to her, and a few puppyeyes later he was in good with the old man.  Ingenious, women!)

            "Bah," he rumbled, stamping the file so that it was now emblazoned with a bright scarlet 'Hell Mel says OK!' and tossing it onto the sadly small stack of finished things.  "Keep yerself lookin' on the bright side, Mel.  Y'always wanted a son, an' there's no need to let the boy know he's grown on ye.  They always keep in line a wee bit more if ye keep em afraid for their heads!  RRAAHAHAHAHH!"

            As always, the city shivered.


            " 'So with that out of the way, I would like to thank you for your heavy-handedness before, for the effect such discipline will now have in my own self-rehabilitation,'" Mia read to Nash, both of them bent over the letter they'd received just a day before from an ex-student.  " 'My regards to both Miss de Alkirk and Mr. Of Nanza (he never gave me a last name), since I believe you keep in touch with them both.  Perhaps in the future I will reapply for your magic school.  I am hearing only good things about its progress, and it may yet prove to be along the path to the person I have decided I want to be.  Respectfully, Len Destine.'"

            "Did I know him?" Nash asked, scratching at his chin curiously.  "I don't really remember him."

            "That's because you never pay enough attention to the students," Mia admonished gently.  "Though Len was very introverted.  I'm a little worried about that fragment he mentioned, though…"

            "He destroyed it, didn't he?  He said he did."

            "Even if he did, Nash, it was a fragment of something.  That means there are more pieces, and if each of them create a disturbance similar to this one…"  She let the statement trail meaningfully.  Her companion nodded.

            "I getcha.  You know," he drawled thoughtfully, leaning against the large table of the office, "I think some of the older scrolls mention occurrences like this.  They're rare, but it's kind of nagging me that I've read something like this before."

            "Well, then, let's get studying," the young sorceress announced with a smile, rolling up her voluminous purple sleeves.  "If there's another adventure coming, we're going to have to be ready."

            "I don't know if it'll come to that exactly…"

            "You said it yourself, Nash," Mia pointed out impishly.  "If it was a fragment, then there are bound to be other pieces.  And beside that, a fragment of what?  No, there's definitely an adventure behind this one.  Looks like the vacation's over."

            "We were on vacation?" the spellcaster asked dryly, glancing at the stack of work to be done, the papers to be sorted, and out the window at the buildings that needed construction and paint. 

            "If you're going to be the new Premier someday, you're going to have to be a little more enthusiastic," his girlfriend chastised as she lead him out of the room by the hand.

            "Won't Egotistical suffice?" he asked plaintatively.

            Mia smiled, and for her answer pulled them both into the library.


            "So we agree, then, that there must be more of these fragments scattered around, and that it's a probability each has a bit of presence or residual magic to them that might end up being a danger to people," Nall summarized from his seat in the middle of the round table.  Jessica and Alex both nodded, Kyle grunted, and Luna tapped a fingernail onto the wood thoughtfully.  Jess raised an eyebrow, wondering what the young blue-haired teen had to say, not that the once-goddess had been particularly forthcoming with answers.  She and Kyle had arrived home in Meribia to find all of Alex, Luna, and Nall practically on the doorstep, with no why they'd come or how'd they'd known.  All things considered, Jessica supposed she shouldn't have bothered to ask.  If Althena wants to visit, then Althena does so.  Especially when she's one of your best friends.

            "Something has to be done," Alex sighed, steepling his hands together in front of his face.  "We can't let this … whatever it is… run rampant."

            "Honestly, I'm glad you guys are up to this," Jess sighed.  "We just need to send a missive over to Vane to see what Nash and Mia think.  I really wasn't looking forward to Kyle and I tackling this alone."

            "So the sleuthing team survives, eh?" Nall noted with a yawn, inclining his head toward the bandit and the priestess.  "No more fights?  A truce on the battlefield?  I never thought I'd see the day."

            "Oh, we'll still argue up storms, and cheerfully," Jessica chirped, punching Kyle on the arm playfully. 

            "Why?" Alex asked with a blink.  "Didn't you talk it over?"

            "Of course we did," she snorted, because they had, over the course of several long nights on the way back to Meribia.  Over cups of tea and coffee and water, they'd talked all about trust and fear and denial and love and acceptance, and once about sandwiches, but mainly about how maybe the road to happiness was long and dusty, but that was okay in the long run.  Jess had admitted that all of the men in the world weren't out to steal her independence, and Kyle had admitted that the worst thing in the world would be to see her hurt, and he couldn't help but act on that feeling.  Overall the verdict was they needed work, but it was worth the effort.

            "Fighting is just a part of how they interact," Luna said with a shrug.  "It's part of the package."

            "Bickering spices things up," Jessica added, grinning at the songstress.

            "And the most important thing," Kyle spoke up with a sly grin.  Alex and Nall exchanged an almost wary look while Luna giggled into her hands and Jessica snickered.

            "… is?" Nall finally prompted.  The warrior thief grinned wider and leaned across the table as though to deliver some secret of dreadful import.

            "Making up," he said, "is just so damned fun."


Tired author's notes:

YAY!  It took me about two and half to three years, but I can finally take this off my "not done" list.  Because it's DONE.  Unfortunately, as you probably noticed, the story kind of wrote itself wide open for sequels.  Stupid story.  I didn't mean for that to happen, honest to god I didn't, because as long as this took I might end up writing Lunar fanfiction until I'm old and grey… greyer.  I think the ending here was a little corny but I had to make the title (which I pulled out of thin air the first time I posted to FF.net) make some sort of sense.  Another thing I noticed was how much the style changed throughout chapters.  1 and 2 were done relatively within the same time frame, about two and a half years ago, and 3 was about 9 months ago, and now I'm seeing that chapter 4 is … less humor?  Though the Lunar games weren't all shits and giggles during the climax, either.  I dunno.  I just hope that I've still got the characters right.  Let me know, eh?  I thrive on feedback.

Incidently, if you'd read all the way thus far, you are very brave and dedicated, and I don't deserve such lavish attention. ^^  Thanks for it, though.  And everyone who's reviewed thus far, the only reason this story got finished at all is because you wanted it to.  I couldn't leave it left undone if I knew people liked it.  Miracle of miracles… some people did.  :D  Peace and love, all.