I don't own Magic Knight Rayearth. It is the creation of the wonderful CLAMP.

At last, it's finished!!! I'm sorry, I really did mean to have it up last week . . . Well, I'm sure you know how it goes – you have really good intentions, and then school happens.

I think this scene is worth the wait – I really wanted it to be good, so I didn't want to rush it. Since this whole section is much newer than the rest of the story, it will take me a few months before I can fairly evaluate it – but at least for now, I'm very happy with how it all worked out.

I have a few more optional notes on this story – but I'll put those at the bottom. For now, I'll just wish you happy reading!


by Maelstra

Scene 10: Departure

Ascot glanced over at Eagle and President Vision. They were still totally engrossed in their conversation about fleet commanders, and something about a justice system. Clef and Ferio had joined the conversation as well, and from the way they acted, you'd think they were discussing the most fascinating thing in the universe.

In the meantime, Ascot flitted about the landing site, too full of energy to stand still, but lacking anything useful to do. The wind blew in his face, lifting his bangs up and out of his eyes. The first moment that President Vision had seen Ascot face to face, he had suggested that Ascot cut his hair. Guru Clef had promptly offered to magically hide the scars. While Ascot appreciated the sentiments – and he expected he would do both, eventually – somehow, he just wasn't quite ready yet. Eagle had just smirked when he heard Ascot's response. Ascot had to wonder if Eagle knew more about his own thought process than he did himself.

Umi came out of the castle and wandered over. "So here you are, Ascot! I just wanted to talk to you once more before we leave."

"You have to go already?" Ascot made no effort to hide his disappointment.

For once, Umi seemed to notice his feelings. She just stared at him for a moment, surprised at the strength of his response. "Yes . . . Well, as always, we can't stay too long, or our families might start to worry . . ."

"Ah . . . of course. Sorry. Yes, we don't want that." He felt silly for not thinking of it in the first place, and started to turn red.

"Yeah, but that's alright, because we'll come visit again soon."

"Yeah . . ." This time, Ascot mostly managed to hide his frown. He still did not know exactly how he was going to time visits to Cephiro from now on so that he could still see Umi and the other two Magic Knights. Eagle had promised that now that most tensions between the two worlds had been dissolved, keeping in communication with Cephiro wouldn't be a problem . . . At least President Vision wasn't going to forbid him to return to Cephiro – but Ascot didn't need Eagle to tell him that President Vision was really hoping to keep his youngest son close by. At least for a while. Ascot could not understand everything that must be going on inside the President's mind, but he just hoped that once the President was reassured that Ascot was not going to go missing again, then he would let Ascot spend more time away on Cephiro.

When Ascot had poured out all his concerns to Eagle, the blond had only laughed and told Ascot he had nothing to worry about. Again, Ascot could make little sense of Eagle's response.

Ascot bit his lip. "I'm going to miss you, Umi. Please, come visit again soon?"

She grinned, and then she laughed. "Of course I will, Ascot. I'm always happy to see Cephiro!"

Ascot inwardly groaned. The way she smiles melts my heart . . . I know I don't feel this way about anybody else . . . And yet I still have no clue whether or not she even likes me! He put on a brave front and said, "I really like Cephiro, too . . . but I'm always even happier to see you!"

Umi, as before, did not really react, as though she was confused as to how to interpret his last statement. Then something in her face changed. "Oh – that's right – you're going back to Autozam, and so you won't be on Cephiro anymore . . ."

"I'll still come back to visit as much as I can. My friends . . . Autozam is not a good place for my monster friends, I think. And everyone else . . ." he stumbled to a stop, unsure of how to continue.

Umi pursed her lips, silently remembering that confusing day when she had first suddenly appeared in Cephiro. Nothing had been as it seemed: monsters were friendly, a little midget was a great Guru, and the Princess of Cephiro . . . "Is it hard suddenly finding out that things aren't exactly the way you thought they were? I mean . . . does it bother you at all?" Umi asked softly.

Something in her tone made Ascot think she was referencing to something else, something big and important, but he could not guess what it was. Whatever it was, he automatically wanted to reassure her, so he shook his head and spoke the words that seemed to appear of their own accord inside his heart. "No. Not as long as you're not alone. It doesn't matter how strange or difficult things are, as long as you know you still have your friends to help you." His own words cut him a bit as he realized that on Autozam, he would have no one. Except Eagle. And Geo. And Zazu. And President Vision. And maybe some of their acquaintances would be willing to support him, too . . . Okay, Ascot, maybe you should be honest with yourself now. How many people do you need supporting you, anyway? Besides, your friends on Cephiro aren't going to turn their backs on you just because you don't see them so often anymore. And especially Umi . . . would she really ever stop being your friend, even if you couldn't see her as much?

Umi, of course, had no idea what Ascot was thinking about, but when she heard his answer to her question, she beamed broadly. "You know, Ascot, you're absolutely right. And I think I already knew that, but I just forget sometimes . . ."

"Me, too," Ascot added.

Umi looked at him inquiringly, which made the young man flush red yet again.

She laughed, a bit awkwardly, as though she were almost as uncertain as Ascot how to end this conversation. Umi was a lot more graceful than he was, and she swiftly collected herself. "Well . . . so I'll see you later."

"Yes. Definitely." Ascot really wanted to hug her, but did not quite dare initiate it, so instead he settled for lightly touching her arm.

She returned the gesture with a grin. "Good luck on Autozam." Then she turned and walked back into the castle.

Ascot's heart was churning like a whirlpool, but overall, he had to say that he felt good. Confused, anxious, nervous . . . but primarily good.

President Vision came up from behind and tapped Ascot on the shoulder. "Scotian, are you ready to go?"

Ascot jumped, and then flushed even further as he realized that President Vision and the others had probably just been standing around, waiting for him to finish his conversation with Umi. "Um . . . Yes, sir?"

"Good." President Vision started to turn away. "Come on, then. We need to get back to Autozam right away, so that Sebring and his cronies don't have any time to slip through our grasp."

Ascot just nodded and numbly followed Eagle and the President onto the small, white craft that would convey them up to the head ship of the Autozamian fleet. The tiny ship had a large window in the front, and Ascot instinctively headed straight for it. From them, he watched Cephiro slowly shrink away into a brilliantly shimmering, crystalline orb. Cephiro was beautiful, even from so far away.

Someone laid a hand on Ascot's shoulder, startling his attention away. The hand belonged to President Vision. My father. Those words still held an awkward ring. But it's not going to make my transition any easier if I keep trying to avoid thinking them.

"I can see this is hard for you, Scotian. And I see you don't really want to discuss this, and I respect that." He paused and looked out the window, into the vast, dark expanse that separated the worlds. "But I hope you'll try to be patient with me." He glanced down at Ascot and shrugged. "This is all somewhat difficult for me as well."

Ascot nodded slightly, not really understanding, though. He understood the pain of losing a friend, but could not imagine what could be so difficult about being reunited with someone you had thought was gone. His confusion remained etched on his face as he met the President's eyes.

President Vision sighed, and shook his head. "What I'm trying to say is that I hope you'll be willing to visit this old man enough to get reacquainted. I missed you terribly, Scotian, and I'm . . . very happy to have you back."

Ascot flushed as he realized that his thoughts and concerns must have been obvious to everyone else all along. "Of course I'll be willing to visit you! I mean, and I'll stay . . . I just want to go back to Cephiro sometimes. I'm sure it will be nicer once they start fixing the atmosphere – I mean Autozam! But Cephiro's nice, too . . ." Ascot trailed off as he realized he had no idea what he was trying to say. Eagle started laughing at him in the background, although he tried to keep it quiet. Finally, Ascot finished simply, "I'm sorry, sir, that I'm just not as excited about going back to Autozam as you are."

"That's alright," Eagle said, barging into the conversation. "I'm sure you'll like it a lot more once you've had a proper introduction to Autozam. Just leave it to me – I'll show you the best of everything: the raceways, the mecha factories, the underground parks . . ."

"Speaking of mechas," President Vision interrupted, "I've been meaning to ask you – Eagle, did you install a high-energy control band on your FTO, against my orders?"

Eagle was surprised by the question, but recovered quickly and smiled innocuously. "Now, Father . . . Oh look, we're ready to dock! We should get ready to board the main ship."

"Uh huh. Also, Eagle, when were you going to inform me that you had developed the initial symptoms for the Sleeping Death?"

Eagle stopped in the middle of his superfluous preparations. "Where did you hear about that?"

"Geo Metro told me, of course." President Vision scowled at his light-haired son. "And I've been waiting for months to hear your point of view on the whole matter. And isn't it fortuitous that we happen to have many hours of leisurely travel time ahead of us, in which to have a long-overdue father-son talk."

Eagle pointed across the room. "But Father, wouldn't you rather spend the time getting reacquainted with Scotian?"

Ascot held up his hands defensively and shook his head, while grinning. "Oh no, Eagle. I'm sure you have a lot more to talk about that I do."

The small ship shuddered. President Vision commented unnecessarily, "We've finished docking. Now, come along, boys. We'll all go to my private quarters, and there we can have a nice, long chat . . ." He threw another pointed glance at Eagle.

Eagle sighed tragically and followed President Vision to the docking hatch. Ascot followed close after, still not entirely sure of what lay in his future, but definitely not wanting to miss what was going to come next. At least I know for sure that my future isn't going to be boring!

And with all his friends to support him, he was sure that he could face whatever else might come his way next.

The End!

Yay!!!! Finishing this story makes me so happy! I hate leaving projects unfinished, so I'm delighted that I can finally cross this off my "to-write" list.

Some notes on my character names:
I know that all the original character names are from cars (except for the 3 Magic Knights, as far as I could tell). So, Sebring, Tiburon, and Cressida are all names I saw on bumpers on the way to school.

Aki is Japanese for "Autumn," and I was told it is a popular girl's name. I couldn't tell if Amethys was a car name or not, but it matches with Emeraude and Cephiro, so I decided it was close enough. And finally, when I first thought up this plot idea, I also thought up the name Scotian. I tried to see if it or something close to Ascot was a car name I could use, but I could never find anything else, so I just used it anyway. I think I came up with it as a variation off of Nova Scotia.

My final notes on my experiment:
I've decided that merging these two plot lines (a mysterious 4th Magic Knight shows up and causes trouble; Ascot has a mysterious past and a reason why his bangs are so long) was a good idea. I thought both ideas had some potential, but I didn't think they were interesting enough to write alone. Putting them together definitely made the whole story more complex and more fun to write. I guess I just like chaos in my stories.

So anyway, thanks again to all my loyal readers and reviewers! Thanks for your support and encouragement! I may initially write all my stories for myself, but the real satisfaction comes when someone else reads it and enjoys it as well.