Aftermath: Igne Natura Renovatur Integra

She wondered whether she would be able to calm down.

The fight was long since over, but Maria wanted more. There was still adrenaline rushing through her. It had to go somewhere!

"I strongly insist you rest now, Sister Maria."

She looked up from her trembling hands and towards Tres, who was sitting on a chair beside the bed. After a few seconds, the young woman offered him a smile.

"I do wish you'd address me on first-name terms when we're alone, Father Tres."

The response was delayed slightly. "…At least once more, Sister Maria."

She did not say anything, examining him. Neither of them had come out of the battle unscathed. Tres had taken injuries in various parts of his body, and was wearing a metal-plated bracelet that had quickly encased the aforementioned injuries in wires and metal, giving the Gunslinger the appearance of a half-completed android.

Most of this was covered by the white terry-cloth robe he wore. It had taken Maria considerable effort not to think lecherous thoughts; that robe was the only article of clothing the Gunslinger was wearing.

"Is it uncomfortable?"

He raised a metal-encased hand to his ear, absentmindedly toying with the Claddagh earring hanging from it.

"Negative. It does not hinder my movements nor does it cause irritation." Pause. "You would do well to rest, Maria."

"…I can't. I still want to fight."

"That course of action is obsolete. You yourself made it that way."

She gazed at him, knowing the Gunslinger was in the right.

After all…Life's not a video game.

The skies had flashed with multi-colored lightning.

Even as he fought the man whose codename was "Marionettenspieler", a small part of Tres really just wished he could sit back and watch the incredible lightshow that was being unknowingly created by the three Crusniks battling in the firmaments. It would only improve once Seth Knightlord joined the fray.

It seemed that his opponent also shared his opinion, as Dietrich had paused to stare up at the sky above.

"Better than fireworks, don't you think? And yet they appear mostly ignorant of the beauty they themselves create."

Tres looked up briefly, drinking in the sight of flashing lights in the clouded sky above Tel-Megiddo.

"Perhaps they know, deep down."

Dietrich Von Lohengrin smiled as nearly imperceptible strings appeared to unravel from his fingers and fly towards the Gunslinger.

"Perhaps."

And just like that, the battle began anew.

Tres stood up from the chair and pulled the covers back. Before Maria could object as a draft hit her bare legs he had picked her up in his arms, bridal style, and carried the young female Crusnik to the small bathroom in the infirmary room. Once inside, the Gunslinger set her down on the counter.

"What are you doing?" Maria managed to inquire once she recovered from the sudden shock of being moved from one location to the other without consent.

"…Your hair is a mess." As Tres spoke he picked up the brush lying on the counter and began brushing her hair.

"Oh."

As the minutes dragged on, she felt him part her hair into sections and begin braiding it. "What do you suppose happens now, Tres?"

He stopped for a moment, thinking of a suitable answer. She counted down to thirty before he answered her question.

"I was under the impression that we would now begin a new life, Maria…Together." Pause. "Or is there some change in plan of which I was not informed?"

Maria turned to face him wordlessly, but by then he had seized the chance to capture her lips, effectively rendering her mute.

As they kissed, Maria couldn't stop a smile from worming its way into her features.

"By flames shall the earth be reborn."

End The Lines Between Flesh & Steel

A/N: IT. IS. OVER!

Part of me still refuses to believe this, but The Lines Between Flesh & Steel is finally complete! Granted, this ending was not quite what I had in mind, but the inner muse kept prodding and insisting it was enough. So I listened. Anyways, I want to thank all those people who reviewed and sent constructive criticism (admittedly, the latter was because of my shameless begging). If it wasn't for you peeps I would have taken forever! Of course, I'd be disappointing you guys if I said this was the last you saw of Maria and Tres, but for that you have to check out my profile to find out! - V-ko

PS: READ & REVIEW!!!!