Melt Into Me

Disclaimer: All rights belong to Squaresoft.

Author's notes: I apologize for the delay. I had a lengthy term paper due this weekend that pretty much stole all my free time. I'm not sure I like the way this turned out, but I'm too tired to worry about it.

Thank you to everyone who read these little moments and especially to those who reviewed. I always try to shed a different light on a game we know so well, and I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did.

The good guys prevailed. I had no idea trisecting a god could be so fulfilling, but when I watched Kefka topple over from the damage my Atma Weapon and Celes' Illumina inflicted, I very nearly burst into song.

Edgar must have read my mind. "Ding dong, the clown is dead," he announced with great satisfaction.

I chuckled as the guys all shared a good cheer at that. The feeling of exhilaration soon passed, though, and the world began to crumble.

I remember feeling faint as I watched Relm and Strago rub their heads in pain, I remember Celes clutching her chest and collapsing to the ground in convulsions. I remember Locke dropping down with her, taking the brunt of her seizure to keep her from hurting herself and whispering soothing words to quiet her screams of agony. I remember wondering why she was the one suffering while I stood unscathed. I remember a blinding pain and the coming darkness.

I'm not really sure what happened after that.

When the darkness receded, I found myself half-lying half-sitting on the deck of the Falcon, Celes' arms around me protectively. I knew the others all stood worriedly around us, but even as I stirred, her hold didn't loosen. The first conscious thought I had was that we had survived.

My next conscious thought was the realization that it was gone. My magic, my Esper half, my father's heritage: gone. Only a gaping hole remained in its wake. With that knowledge, tears coursed down my face unbidden, and I was grateful for my friends' silence.

I looked back over my shoulder at Celes, searching for any wisdom she had to guide me through this. The hollowness of her expression, though, told me she was just as lost as I was. To see such a look in her eyes was more than I could bear, and I cried harder. I think that roused her from her trance because she suddenly looked at me in concern.


"It's gone," I breathed. "It's really gone."

"But we're not." She cracked a tiny grin. "Told you we'd get through this."

I tried to mirror her smile. I knew she was just hiding the pain and emptiness, but I had never welcomed that mask as I did at that moment. I guess the sweetness of lies was sometimes easier to face than the cold truth.

Our return to Figaro heralded the start of the largest celebration in centuries. Food, drink, and dancing was accompanied by the guys regaling the other guests with heroic stories of the war, from trying to bury Kefka under Figaro and feasting with the emperor to fighting a giant purple octopus. I chuckled quietly when Locke received a sharp punch in the arm for spilling the beans about Celes' little opera escapade. Of course, it was about this time people started realizing she was in fact the former Imperial general, and Celes soon found herself surrounded by curious patrons, bombarded by questions. As uncomfortable as I knew she was, her skills of diplomacy never faltered.

Many inquired as the where the 'heroes' would go after the festivities died down. Edgar's answer was obvious as he was the king of Figaro. Sabin had decided to remain the in kingdom for at least a little while before returning to the monk lifestyle. Locke, ever the adventurous wanderer, wanted to resume his travels of the world in search of rare relics and fabled treasures. Setzer would continue to be master of the skies in all of his glorified freedom. Cyan had plans to rebuild his fallen kingdom and seemed to have taken Gau under his wing. Strago wanted to return home to Thamasa, and Relm intended on applying to art academies across the world. Mog and Umaro longed for the familiar snowcaps of Narshe where the rest of the moogle population almost certainly were still hiding. Shadow and Gogo were both notably absent, having shied away from the large throng of people.

I smiled to myself when I noticed Celes, too, slipped away. Taking one last sip of my champagne, I set the glass down and made my own stealthy exit. Wanting fresh air, I retreated up the stairs of Figaro's central observation tower. As I had expected, Celes was already there, elbows resting on the stone rail as she stared out over the desert. Welcoming the cool breeze, I took a similar position next to her. Neither of us said anything for a while. We didn't have to. We simply enjoyed the night air.

When I finally asked her where she was thinking of going, she gave a small shrug. The tiny cryptic smile on her face told me she was finally feeling free of her past, like a bird released from its cage into the boundless sky. I got the feeling she would travel the world with Locke merely for the sake of traveling. I suppressed the twinge of jealousy at the thought because I knew that was just how she was. She wasn't the type to settle down and live a quiet life. Not yet. That was okay, though. I could wait.

Of its own volition, my hand crept over to hers and gave a light squeeze. Celes looked thoughtfully at our linked hands for moment before turning her gaze to me. Shifting so that she faced me, she gave my hand a gentle tug and pulled me into a soft kiss. In just that one kiss, I could sense the snow beginning to melt in the wake of our magic's death.

I knew it would take time for her; a glacier doesn't thaw overnight. Time, though, was something I finally knew I had. I would go back to Mobliz, of course, as I had promised I would. There wasn't a doubt in my mind that she would find me again, and that when she did, she would completely melt into me.

Six years later…

Though Mobliz was still a fraction of what the town it used to be, the restoration project Edgar was funding was coming steadily along. Most of the kids were becoming self-sufficient young adults, and a small number of immigrants had begun to trickle in.

As I stood in my spot at the water's edge, it was hard for me to believe six years had passed. I saw my friends at the annual reunion, of course, but I was otherwise secluded in the once shambled town. When I was working, time went by quickly, but it was moments like these, having a few minutes to myself, when I began to remember the past and grow a little too nostalgic.

With a bit of a sniffle, I was about to turn to go inside when someone came up beside me. A part of me wasn't surprised—a part of me was never surprised when it came to her—and I couldn't help but smile. Our fingers brushed against each other, entwined affectionately. Neither of us spoke, but neither of us ever had to.