Magic: the Gathering

Chronicles, Volume 42

"Are you sure that you don't another brownie? They're really yummy..." Ashley Willis encouraged her two guests in her living room. Viktor Dimitrov, 26 years old, grinned and shook his head, scratching at the dark stubble on his chin. I really ought to shave this. "No thanks, Ash. Kelly always says I snack too much, after all." He glanced to his side, at his wife Kelly Dimitrov, who sat with him on the Willis household's living room couch. She returned his grin. "You're such a browser, Vik. Especially when family friends keep tempting you."

"Hey, just being hospitable," Devin Willis joked, nudging the brownie plate across the coffee table with his foot. "Ash and Gerbie worked hard on these."

"You mean that he bossed me around to make 'Momir Vig's Special Simic Snacks'," Ashley shook her head, but she had to fight to keep a smile off her face, her blond hair whipping this way and that. "Jeez, I thought we left that whole Multiverse adventure behind us. This is our quest now, Devin dear: navigating the challenges of modern life. We've got a house and everything, but..."

"But the Multiverse had nastier things," Devin teased her, making Kelly sigh and roll her eyes. "Phyrexians and dragons and Eldrazi oh my! At least the IRS doesn't try to eat my face off."

"Not literally, no," Viktor added, making everyone laugh. Gerbie found this a good chance to enter the conversation. He skittered into the living room from the kitchen, his little furry body roving across the carpet. "Oi! We're almost out of ketchup, Ashley!" he barked from the floor, but his squeaky little voice robbed him of any imposing authority. "And by the way, I keep hearing you complain about taxes and insurance and other stuff. Why not send Cortex Chewer Slugs to the offices and make them cut you a break? I remember watching them grow in the guild vats back in Ravnica. We should have brought some!"

Ashley made a face. "That wouldn't have worked. No magic beings could survive coming here without a constant link to the Multiverse to provide energy. You and Ike were the only exceptions."

"Yup, I was chosen by destiny, darling," Gerbie said proudly, jumping up onto Ashley's lap. "Hahaha!"

Devin made a face, not happy that the little gerbil competed with him for Ashley's affection and attention; after all, he was married to her, not Gerbie! "You know, maybe we could get a cat and remind you of your place, Gerbie..."

"Noooooooo! Not a cat! Evil! Evil!" Gerbie cried in protest, scampering into Ashley's pocket just like old times. Everyone laughed at the sight, the lump in Ashley's pocket squirming at the thought of marauding cats chasing him all day. Finally, Gerbie crawled out, his beady eyes fixed on Devin. "You... didn't mean that, did you?"

"No way. I'm just messing with you," Devin assured him. "By now, I thought you'd know when I'm kidding or not. But then again, it's hard to tell when you're kidding, too..."

Gerbie leaped from Ashley's lap to Devin's, settling down. "Well, I consider you a part of the family. I'm not kidding about that."

Everyone was amazed by Gerbie's sudden maturity, making the little animal bashful. "That was very nice of you, Gerbie," Kelly praised him.

"Yeah," Gerbie perked up. "'Cause who else will pamper me till the end of days? Devin will get me nearly anything I ask for! Just ask him!"

"Ahhh, you little moocher," Devin joked, picking Gerbie and tossing him to Viktor next. "There. Vik will buy you a few rounds next time, okay?" He looked his friend in the eye. "Right?"

"Gerbils shouldn't drink," Viktor grinned, setting Gerbie onto Kelly's lap. "There. She'll give you a nice salad."

"I ain't no Vat Multi-Muncher!" Gerbie protested. "Come on, now!"

Devin made a face. "What the hell is that? You've told us about many Simic beasts, but not that one."

"It's a boar, hydra, and snail put together that has five eyes and suckers on its tentacles and mouths on its rear -" Gerbie started before Kelly cut off his gross description by pointing at the room's hallway. "Look! A stray cat came in here!"

"Run!" Gerbie cried, pouncing back onto Ashley and tryin to burrow into her pocket, more vigorously this time and making her yelp and wrest him back into the open. "Maybe I should cut down your sugar intake."

"Sugar? That's just the placebo effect," Gerbie said wisely, dropping the cat topic. "Though sugar has bizarre effects when the Vat Multi-Muncher absorbs the sugar though its -"

"Hey, look at this!" Devin offered loudly, eager to divert the attention from Gerbie for a second. He tossed a newspaper sheet onto Viktor's lap. "Have you seen this?"

Viktor picked up the newspaper, Kelly craning her neck over to look, too. There was a picture of a dragon and several winged creatures flying around a city's downtown, and the headline declared "ALIENS INVADE NEW YORK CITY, WREAK HAVOC UNTIL PORTALS TO OUTER SPACE VANISH". Trying not to laugh at the headline, Viktor squinted at the picture and saw several of Elena's portals hanging in the air, the gateway her Enslaved creatures had taken to Earth. This newspaper was dated six years ago, the same time as the final battle against Elena and her horde. Kelly muffled a laugh behind her hand as Viktor grinned and set the paper on the table. "I've seen a number of news programs and articles on the Enslaved invasion, but not this one."

"It's from the New York Times," Ashley smiled. "They loved the sensationalism of the whole thing. Ye olde yellow journalism, huh?"

"Because of the color of the paper?" Gerbie asked, curious. Ashley patted Gerbie's little head. "No, it's because around the early 1900's or late 1800's, publishers like Joseph Pulitzer and -"

"A... history lesson?" Gerbie drooped his ears. "No fun..."

Devin pointed over at his wife, looking at the Dimitrovs. "She's going into journalism, just so you know," he explained with a grin. "She gets carried away, you know..."

"No I don't," Ashley bit back. "I'm just... dedicated. Right? I try my hardest at everything I do."

"That's part of what made me decide to love you," Devin added gently, and Ashley blushed. "Devin, we have company! I get self-conscious..."

"I'll expand on what Gerbie said earlier. We're all like a family," Viktor suggested. "Old friends who went through a lot, and all."

"Yeah, though I wish Makoto were in town too," Ashley commented. "The east coast is a long way from here, after all."

"Though he sent me a funny video in an e-mail," Devin added excitedly. "It was hilarious! Did I show it you, Ash?"

Ashley made a face yet again. "No, because things you find funny are often -"

Conveniently, Viktor checked his watch. "Whoops! We've got to go, it's getting really late." He stood up. "Thanks for having us over."

"Nothing to it, man," Devin stood and shook his good friend's hand. "Thank you for being such great visitors."

"Bye, sis," Ashley bid Kelly farewell, giving her sister a tight hug. After pocketing a few tin foil-wrapped brownies at Gerbie's insistence, Viktor headed out the front door, taking Kelly's hand in his as they reached their car and Viktor climbed into the driver's seat, powering up the engine. The evening sun washed its dusky orange-gold light across the neighborhood, lending a calm, reflective air. Viktor drove down the neighborhood, knowing that the trip back to his and Kelly's house would take at least fifteen minutes, giving them time for idle chatter along the way.

At an intersection with rather stubborn traffic, Viktor halted his car, sighing deeply and relaxing against his seat. "You know," he mentioned to Kelly, "Seeing that picture of the Multiverse creatures attacking New York City, silly as it looked, really took me back."

Kelly found that funny. "It was only six years ago, and we're still young. Feeling old already?"

"No way," Viktor resisted a chuckle. "But... every day, I think about our adventure, and the Multiverse, a little less than the day before."

"You're putting it behind you, then?"

"Yeah. We got sucked into the card game's universe, fought Hunters and other monsters, and blew up the baddie and saved Earth and everything else. But we can't go back, and it's all said and done, and it... well, when I think about it now, it doesn't seem real, like it was a dream I had a long time ago. Just a story I keep telling myself."

Kelly's smile was a knowing one. "You miss it."

Viktor jumped, amazed by her insight. "Y-you think so?"

"Certainly," Kelly mused, looking ahead at the stubbornly red traffic light. "I can hear it in your tone, and I know you well, Viktor. You don't really let things go, even if you don't realize it. You keep things close to you." She clapped a hand on his thigh, squeezing affectionately. It's like... well, I dunno..."

"I think I can figure out the rest. Maybe," Viktor grinned, motioning with a hand. Kelly leaned closer, and Viktor kissed her. "I feel kind of torn. I miss the fun fantasy adventure, but it's not something I can base my life on. Like Ashley said, here is what's real for us, and now you and I have a life together to spend decades in. I don't even play the Magic game anymore, just rifle through the card collection in the attic, a relic of old times..."

Viktor's gaze went distant, and Kelly's eyes widened at her husband's words. Then she burst out laughing, hysterical. Viktor was taken aback. "H-huh?"

"I see that your speech-making habit isn't a relic of the past," Kelly teased him, tapping his forehead with her pointing finger.

"I-I'm sorry! I get carried away..." Viktor tried feebly to defend himself, squirming in his seat. Kelly didn't mind.

"Relax, Viktor dear. I think it's charming! It shows how much you care about things."

"Things?"

Kelly made an exasperated sound. "Friends, family, whatever. They're close to your heart."

"Yes, that's true. Do you know how long I had had my crush on you, Kelly, before I started to open up to you?"

"N-no. How long?" she blushed.

Viktor grinned broadly. "The very first day we met, when I was still fresh from Bulgaria and had a hell of an accent. I was taken by how gentle but strong you were, and how pretty you were and still are. I've never met anyone else quite like you, Kelly."

"Well thank you, Viktor." Kelly's blush deepened. "But I wonder, do you plan on hanging on to our old game cards and stuff, or what...?"

The light finally turned green, and Viktor's car rumbled forward along with the rest of the traffic. A bus truck motored past, and Viktor waited until it passed before he responded with a mysterious grin. "Well, maybe we can keep those old game materials and pass them on."

"To who? Our friends have their own..."

"To those who aren't here yet," Viktor said mysteriously. Kelly wondered for a second, then said, "Well, your grandfather and his wife did say they'd be visiting sometime this year. Them?"

"No. Try again."

"Something tells me I'll be a fool for not knowing this," Kelly muttered, folding her arms as she thought about it. Then, it occurred to her, and a warm smile crossed her face, a gleam in her eyes as she looked over at Viktor. "Children," she said quietly. Though she and Viktor were childless at the moment, who would want more to see the twosome's neat card collection than young ones? Well, Ike found the cards interesting, but still, there was extra room in the Dimitrov household, and for a while Ashley had been dropping subtle hints about wanting to become an aunt. The possibilities whirled through Viktor's mind, making his gut squirm a little. Having a child would be totally different than summoning some magic critter from a card and keeping it around, he figured, then berated himself. Thinking about the Multiverse again? I'm tryin to move on... oh, heck. I guess I'm a Magic person after all. But that doesn't mean I can't have a happy life with Kelly.

Kelly looked over at Viktor as he drove them down a different neighborhood, her eyes curious. "What is it? That expression..."

"Oh, nothing."

She swatted his shoulder. "Come on, it's something. Let's hear it."

Viktor smiled at her. "I think any future kids of ours would be delighted to open up our card boxes in the attic and ogle over the goblins and elves and Planeswalkers in them. Who knows? Maybe they'd make up their own adventures!"

He turned onto the street of the Dimitrov house, the streetlights casting white light onto the darkening streets and crickets chirping in the lawns. Kelly liked the idea that Viktor was proposing. "Yeah. Even if it's not literal, the magic can live on."

END.

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A/N: I first started this story way back in 2008, and updated it off and on ever since, and now it's done at last. I'm quite relieved but sad to see that my first "serious" fanfiction story is all done now. It was a lot of fun to make.

I would like to thank 3r4g0n, BrandonRC, citus334, d-u-t, Dr. Faust, famousamos, Kaore Ryu, Kiyoushu, Lightsworn Heka, nightwolf08, pikachu95, SSJoverlordlaharl, The Elven Archer of Rivendell, Avaloniex, Dark13, RougeBaron, Zanetspr, DaemonWelsh, TsknRaider, Soundless Symphony, and most of all, Onionmaster and DoahShadow for the reviews, favorite story alerts, and many other forms of support. Plus, I thank all of my other readers who didn't review or anything, but still enjoyed the story. ^^ There's a lot of you guys, and I'm grateful for each and every one of you.

The ending about Viktor's and Kelly's kids sounds like a sequel setup, but I don't have plans for that :( I think I used up all my Magic: the Gathering fanfic juices for this story, and I hesitate to make a sequel that would be sub-par compared to this story. 42 chapters of Magic will do :)