Author's Notes: I deeply apologize for how long it took to put out this chapter for you all to read. It's been a long time coming, and I won't waste your time with pointless excuses. I will, however, thank you all for your lovely comments, favorites, alerts, and reviews, both here and on deviantART. It means a lot to me.
So, without further ado... I give you the conclusion to Saving You, Saving Myself.
All characters and places in this work belong to Nintendo.
Saving You, Saving Myself
Chapter Eight: The Right Thing To Do
The two boys didn't speak as they walked back to the house that afternoon. There was a tension between them that felt like it would become worse if either one of them dared to open his mouth. Lucas averted his eyes from his companion, staring at the ground in front of him. Ness had his hands stuffed into his pockets and kept his face carefully composed for the villagers they passed.
When they arrived at Lucas' home, Ness made straight for the stairs. His hand was on the banister and he had already climbed halfway up when Lucas caught his attention.
"Yeah?" He half-turned to look at the other boy.
"It failed the last time you tried it..."
"It could fail again." Lucas sounded worried.
"I know that, too."
"Ness... I don't want you to go."
Ness' lips set into a thin line.
"Neither did Paula."
With that, he ascended without another glance at Lucas. The blonde boy gaped at the spot where Ness had been standing, unsure of what to do next. What Ness had said couldn't possibly have been intentionally cruel. He could tell himself that all he liked, but it didn't ease the jab of pain rising within his chest.
In the meantime, Ness had perched on the edge of the spare bed upstairs, holding his face in his hands. The best course of action still eluded him, whether by coincidence or something in his subconscious making it difficult to arrive at an answer. It was hard to look at everything objectively, when he was so emotionally attached to both sides.
The dark-haired boy barely noticed Lucas joining him in the room. He didn't look at him, didn't see the expression on his face, or the way his hands were balled into fists of frustration.
"I don't believe it," the blonde boy muttered.
Ness lifted his head to demand what the hell Lucas was talking about, but a fist connected sharply with his jaw before he could speak. His eyes bulged, gawking at the blonde boy who stood there looking as surprised as he was.
Rubbing the abused spot, Ness furrowed his brow.
"Thanks, that really helps me think."
Ness speaking seemed to snap Lucas out of his shock over his own action, and his usually serene face became marred with a scowl.
"All of this happens, and all you can say is, 'I should apologize'! Unbelieveable!"
The blonde boy's voice wasn't all that loud, but his anger was made clear with the sharpness of his speech, and the way he didn't stutter. Ness might have been proud of his boldness, if he hadn't been on the receiving end of his wrath right now.
"Are you saying I shouldn't have?"
"Yes! I mean-- no!" Lucas threw his hands up in the air. "How come you let yourself get so close to me if you were thinking about leaving?"
"Might I remind you that I couldn't remember any of that at first?"
Lucas ignored him.
"You came here," he pointed an accusing finger at Ness, "and changed everything. Can't you see that? You showed up, and had to be so great, and kind, and charismatic, and..."
The blonde had begun to ramble, but his words were like a runaway train. Somehow he just couldn't make them stop as they flowed from his mouth.
"...and you made me love you so much." Lucas stared out the window, as though it was difficult to look at Ness while he spoke. "You didn't even have to try! All I want to know is why you had to end up here, of all places. Why did you have to come here? Why?!"
Lucas finally stopped talking as he choked on a sob. He fell to his knees, hot tears streaming down his cheeks, and he made no effort to stop them. All the feelings of love and frustration had culminated to the point of bursting, and he just needed to let them out in some way. His chest felt so tight, like it was being squeezed from all sides by some invisible force.
Ness didn't know what to say. He hesitantly reached out a hand, which hovered over the blonde teen before gently resting on his shoulder. Lucas gave no indication of noticing, until Ness had gathered him into his arms. The touch caused Lucas to shudder, partially from the sobs that wracked his body, but also because of things he began to see.
It was the first time the two boys had touched since the cliff, and Lucas still wasn't prepared or willing to view the contents of Ness' mind now. He wanted to push him away, but the warm arms around him only caused him to lean into him and bury his face into his shoulder. Ness stroked his hair silently as he let him cry, he didn't have to be psychic to tell how unhappy Lucas was. Nothing had to be said, his thoughts were on his current dilemma, and he knew Lucas could feel them.
As much as he didn't want to, the blonde caught on to Ness' indecision. As angry and hurt as Lucas was about the fact that he even entertained the thought of leaving him, he found he couldn't deny that he understood. Lucas bit his lip, hiding his face against the thin fabric of Ness' striped shirt. Ness closed his eyes, pillowing his cheek against soft blonde locks.
While Ness was holding him, there was no mistaking the way he somehow felt the the dark-haired boy was probing his mind for something, some form of information that had been touched upon before. Lucas found his thoughts swirling about things to do with his journey four years ago, and, confused, he complacently allowed Ness into his memories there.
That was when Ness found what he was looking for. One word, which caused Lucas to flinch in his arms.
Lucas dared to lift his head up to look questioningly at the other teen, whose eyes opened to gaze back at him as he moved. Blue eyes locked with blue eyes, and Ness' hands cupped his face as the blonde could feel him poking and prodding at his mind. It wasn't an unpleasant sensation, but... strange. It was as though gentle fingers were combing through his memories, spreading them out to see them better.
While Ness took in Lucas' memories, the blonde pondered what the other boy could possibly be gaining from sifting through his thoughts, as he helplessly revisited every detail that had to do with the strange man that used the world as his toy box, and its inhabitants as his playthings. The yo-yo. The artifacts from Porky's childhood, which, Lucas noted, caused Ness' eyes to flicker with emotion as he recognized them.
Finally, the words that Lucas and his friends had exchanged with Porky himself. How much more twisted he had become than when Ness had last seen him. His childlike mind trapped forever in the ancient body of a frail old man. Porky had used his alien machine to abuse space and time, and the effects of his ability to do so had changed the lives of so many people. Altered their fates forever. Warped and toyed with the continuity of how things were originally destined to be.
Porky's presence in another time and place had even drastically changed the life of Jeff, the portly boy's irreverence for the natural order of things taking Dr. Andonuts away from his son forever.
Even Lucas. Especially Lucas.
His mother, his twin brother, both torn away by a monstrosity that would never have existed. Porky's meddling would not even let Claus die as he should have on that day, but caused his fragile body to keep going in a way that was not natural, like a puppet that could not remember his own name. He had been playing God, a spoiled child with too much power.
Ness gasped, his eyes widening, as though arriving at a revelation. Lucas stared at him with utter confusion. The black-haired teen's fingers clamped down on Lucas' shoulders and he looked at him seriously.
"Lucas... don't you see?"
"W-What...?" he asked, a bit unsettled by the look in his companion's eyes.
He could not understand what Ness was thinking about. Something in what Ness had witnessed sent his thoughts swirling in all directions, shapeless blobs and colors running together. Lucas could make neither heads nor tails of any of it.
"It's wrong, Lucas. All of it..."
"Sorry, what are you talking about?"
The blonde boy was hopelessly lost, but the strain in Ness' voice was evident.
"Lucas, time travel is not natural. Look at... what he's done to your world. To you, specifically. It should never be done... it messes with the way things are supposed to happen."
Lucas took in a sharp breath, immediately following his train of thought. His fingers, clutching the blue and yellow stripes of Ness' shirt, gripped so tightly the knuckles began to turn white.
"Don't say it!" Lucas cried, his face stricken with terror. "You aren't like him! You aren't here to ruin anything!"
Fresh tears began to stream down his cheeks. His eyes pleading, trying to will away the decision that seemed to be settling onto Ness' face.
His eyes were sympathetic.
"Lucas. Stop it. Listen to me."
"No!" he whimpered, shaking his head furiously.
"Lucas!" Ness caught the blonde's face in his hands, forcing him to look him in the eye. "You need to listen!"
He stared into Ness' face and found he could not look away. Those blue eyes had captured him and were sucking him under. They gazed at one another for several long minutes, Lucas' crying eventually subsiding into simple sniffles as he felt himself calming slightly under the influence of Ness' soothing touch.
"Lucas," he tried again, his voice gentle. "Think about it this way... maybe there is something I was meant to do in my lifetime. Something else," he quickly added before Lucas would protest about Giygas already having been defeated.
"Like what?" Lucas asked sullenly.
"I don't know, but what if I was meant to do it, with my friends... and I was here, and not there when I needed to be? What would happen to them? What would happen to the task?"
"They could do it without you," he offered, but instantly hated how dumb he sounded when he said it.
Ness pursed his lips.
"Would you want Kumatora, Duster, and Boney to face danger without your help? What if they needed you?"
Lucas found, grudgingly, that he couldn't argue with that logic. Ness took the opportunity to pursue his line of thought.
"Porky was meant to live in Onett, he would've gone to high school with me, we probably would've become friends again at some point... everything went wrong when Giygas started wreaking havoc from another time, and Porky changed his own fate by running away to another time. Then he began to change other people's destinies. It wasn't his right, but..."
Ness sighed, and trailed off.
"Ness... please don't."
Ness winced at the complete and utter helplessness on Lucas' face. He had to gather a lot of courage to continue.
"...but I don't want to feel like I might be changing the fates of others where I shouldn't. I was born in Onett. I belong there. With my family."
His words hung thick and heavy in the air, almost tangible. Lucas stared at Ness as though the dark-haired boy had struck him, and Ness looked determined, which hurt the blonde. But it was the sympathy in his eyes that hurt most. Lucas didn't want to be felt sorry for, he wanted to see him stay.
"...But you couldn't control it before," he said meekly. "It's too risky... you're safe here, you should--"
"It's the right thing to do, Lucas," Ness interrupted.
Lucas' mouth hung open at the boldness, the recklessness of Ness' comment.
"Even if you can't do it successfully, you're gonna try?" Lucas asked, incredulously.
"I did before," he murmured.
"That was before! Don't I mean anything to you?!"
"Lucas, that's not fair... don't be like that."
"Why, so you can run home to your girlfriend?"
Ness froze. He didn't answer, but something behind his eyes hardened. The sympathy disappeared.
"If you want to call it that, Lucas. That's fine."
Lucas couldn't find words to form a response, even as Ness disengaged himself from the blonde and rose to his feet. He stared dumbly at Ness, both humiliated at his own foolish words and horrified at his abrupt change in attitude. Ness resolutely made his way towards the door, turning back just once to look at Lucas, still seated on the floor.
"I'm going to try to go back, Lucas. You can either support me, or you can't... that's up to you."
Ness said nothing more as he exited the room, and Lucas stared after him as he listened to his slow footsteps descending the wooden stairs, and finally the creak and click of the door shutting behind him. Panicking, Lucas got up and headed for the window, peering at the boy in the cap, who was walking away from his house without looking back. Lucas could only gape in shock at his retreating form, and even when Ness' back disappeared from view, the blonde stood there uncertainly for what seemed like ages.
A million feelings and thoughts whirled past him, love, rejection, confusion... but the most prominent feeling that niggled inside his mind was the feeling that he was acting selfish again. He loved Ness. He loved him like he hadn't felt love for anything in a long time. Lucas realized his jealousy was not helping matters, and if he really wanted Ness to stay, he wouldn't want it to be because Ness felt obligated, or sorry for him.
He wanted Ness to stay because Ness wanted to stay.
Without another moment's hesitation, Lucas turned and ran out of his room, down the stairs, and out the front door of his house. Sprinting as fast as his legs would carry him into the village square, he paused, panting, unable to catch a glimpse of the dark-haired boy he sought. Wracking his brain for a few anxious moments, he tried to think of where Ness might have gone.
Then the answer hit him, plain as day.
Ness would be back at the beach. The place where everything began, and where everything would end horribly, if he didn't get there quickly.
Fleeing west out of the square, he ran along the worn dirt path that led to the water's edge. His heart was hammering in his ribcage and felt like it sped even faster when he caught sight of the capped figure he was looking for.
"Ness!" Lucas cried, slowing his steps as he came up behind the other boy, finally leaning over with his hands on his knees, panting.
Ness was staring out at the ocean, the beautiful, terrible thing that had nearly destroyed him, only to carry him with gentle arms to the shore. It hadn't been that long ago, but his time in Tazmily had become so familiar, it could have been years. Slowly, he turned around to look at the blonde, revealing a stoic face. They regarded each other for a few moments, neither one speaking.
Then, Ness' expression cracked into a smile.
"I'm glad you didn't just let me go like that. I was beginning to think you were all talk."
Lucas felt his heart leap.
"Then... you'll stay?"
Ness did not answer, but stepped forward and gathered Lucas into his arms.
"You know why I can't."
Lucas felt like crying again, but even as he felt his eyes once again brimming with tears, he shocked himself with his response.
"I know, Ness..."
His arms snaked their way around the black-haired teen's back, hands clasping together tightly behind him.
"If you believe I'll make it home okay, then I'm sure I will. I can't go wrong with people I care about rooting for me on both sides."
Lucas swallowed hard.
"I believe you'll be fine."
Lucas released Ness reluctantly when he felt his arms go slack, and he stepped back to look at the blonde.
"Thank you. For everything."
When Ness smiled, it was brilliant, like sunshine. When Lucas saw it, he found himself unable to resist smiling back.
"I know it's a lot to ask at this point," Ness continued, a bit sheepishly, "but can I ask you for one more favor?"
"Anything," Lucas replied.
"Can you give me a bon voyage?"
Ness didn't explain, but one of his hands was brought up to caress the blonde's cheek. The gentleness of the touch caused Lucas' eyes to flutter closed. Then warm lips pressed against his, and he sighed Ness' name softly against his mouth. The tender kiss conveyed, then silenced, all final regrets to be had, and all that was left when the two broke apart was a mutual sentiment of affection.
"Thanks again," Ness smiled again. "I guess... I should do this then, no sense in hesitating now."
Ness backed away from Lucas now, and something about the look on the dark-haired boy's face kept the blonde from following him. He stepped into the center of a broad expanse of sand, and he rubbed his hands together.
"You'd better get home in one piece," he said quietly, his voice trembling.
Ness merely smiled. "Okay."
A few long moments passed, and Ness' blue eyes fell to a close, hands clasping together in concentration. Lucas watched with a mixture of fascination and anxiety as Ness focused his PSI. Lucas could feel the fine hairs on his arms prickling with the power the other boy was building up. A soft glow of pale cerulean began to surround his body as the psionic energy became even larger. The teleportation must have required more of it to be raised than he had ever imagined.
Bigger and bigger it grew, until the light shining from Ness' person suddenly exploded, scattering sparkling fragments of PSI power in a million directions, like a shower of shooting stars. It was so bright, Lucas had to shield his eyes. Even when it was done, and he lowered his trembling hands, white lights still danced in front of his vision.
That was when he saw that Ness had vanished.
Lucas stared blankly at the spot that he had last been standing. Even knowing it was going to happen, it was still so surreal. Taking slow steps to the indentation in the sand which had been the point of origin for Ness' final PSI in his world, he slowly sank to a sitting position on the ground.
Of all the things he could have been feeling at that moment, he was amazed to realize that he didn't really feel abandoned by the dark-haired boy. Hugging his knees to his chest, Lucas sighed softly. It wasn't abandonment he felt, at all. He almost felt... touched.
After all, Lucas knew... that even though they were never destined to meet at all, he would always have a place in the heart of a boy whose love was simply too big to keep him away from home.