This is... pretty old, but I consider it a good way to introduce myself into the fandom. I assure y'all that my later stuff is a lot better.

Remember the time you had to prepare before entering the phase distorter? The uneasiness I felt during the last night of rest is what caused this. That being said... yo, Earthbound section! We'll be seein' each other again soon!

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Belief And Other Valuable Things

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When Poo suggested that they stay the night in the best hotel around, even Paula found herself hard-pressed to deny that it was an important night, but no one said a word. Jeff merely nodded and noted that they had enough money to spend, never raising his view from where he fiddled with broken machines, wondering what to work on - it would have to be his best. Ness, in turn, seemed to be set on not sleeping. There were only two beds, he explained, and he could take the floor again. It didn't bother him; nothing ever bothered him.

There was an unspoken agreement between his three companions regarding his real reasons – not even Ness, who took everything in stride, could shrug off the fact that they were two steps away from the final confrontation - but no one dared to tell him that staying up was a bad idea. Not just because it really was, but also because they needed him in top form for the next day. Giygas, they knew, would have no mercy.

Ness still seemed unfazed, though, and his smile was just as sincere that night, if only less contagious. Between that and Poo's usual calm, reassuring demeanour, tension in their room didn't last long.

"But I always take a bed," said Paula somewhere along the line of their forgotten turns to take beds, couch and floor. "It's unfair on you guys."

"I'm used to resting like this," Poo responded, already set on a spot on the floor with merely a pillow under him.

"Well, I'll probably be working all night, so it would be pointless," Jeff argued when the two's eyes were directed at him. "Ness can have one."

The trio turned to look at their wordlessly-appointed leader who, in turn, groaned and ran a hand through his disheveled hair. "You guys worry too much, I'm okay like this!" Ness grinned, waving his hand dismissively, baseball cap still held in it. He then grabbed a pillow and one of the extra blankets from the open closet, and set them not too far from Poo. "See? I'm all set."

Jeff gave Paula a pointed glance before sighing. "Alright."

"Awesome," Ness said, already throwing himself face-first on his makeshift bed.

With his face buried in his pillow, he didn't notice Paula taking more blankets out of their closet until she set them down between him and Poo. Defeated, he just shot her a questioning look, to which she responded with a triumphant grin. The Onett boy was certain he'd caught sight of Poo supressing a chuckle out of the corner of his eye as well, but kept quiet.

"Jeff?" She called. "Would you leave that for a minute and come here?"

"Actually, I--" He paused and sighed; whether he knew better than to say no, or was too tired to argue, or understood all too well the importance of that night, he wasn't sure. "...okay."

When he took his spot between Paula and Ness, he began to think rationally again, as the others also seemed to do. In unison, the group turned to look at the grand unoccupied beds and, just as synchronized, broke out in laughter.

None of them ever liked the fancy, uptight atmosphere of Fourside's hotel anyway.

-:-

"...you can't sleep, can you?"

Jeff shook his head, taking a glance at the digital clock in the nightstand. He blinked at the pale blue light a few times, decided it was useless, and began searching for his glasses. "No. Same for you, right? Ah-hah, here they are..."

"I didn't think I'd be able to," Poo responded evenly, shifting in the darkness to face the sleeping figure to his right. "Paula?"

"I'm awake too," the girl heaved a sigh and sat up. "What time is it?"

Jeff adjused his glasses in place and glanced at the clock again. "Nearly five," he said. "It'll still be a while before dawn."

She nodded, reaching for something – the boys both assumed it was her newest teddy bear – and putting it in her lap, her arms wrapped loosely around it. Probably because it soothed her to have something warm to hold on to, Poo thought. Jeff couldn't help but ackowledge that something burdensome like that would be just another shield in battle. He wondered if that was the reason why her whole frame suddenly became tense again.

"Say..." he began, breaking himself out of his pessimistic thoughts. He motioned vaguely in the general direction of Ness, who was still curled up in a sleeping position, facing away from the rest of them. "Is he...?"

"Yes, he's awake. We've been talking for a while," Paula gave an aplogetic smile that went unseen in the lack of light. "Poo probably noticed."

The prince nodded. "I didn't want to intrude, though, so I kept myself out of it."

Deducing they referred to telepathy, Jeff recalled having heard Paula's messages when she directed him to Threed, and found himself marveling at how inherently intimate that method of communication was. It was no wonder they'd all bonded so fast, even if he could only be on the receiving end. Poo, meanwhile, found himself wondering if that much intimacy was enough for Ness to express fear, or if he kept that to himself even then.

"Come on, Ness," Paula said after a moment. "I know you don't want us to worry, but we won't get any sleep now, and talking is better than lying there doing nothing, right?"

A brief silence fell upon the room, until the clock's numbers changed to 5:00 and it gave a low beep. There was a shifting sound after that, as the lump of Ness' figure under his blanket turned.

"That sounds better, alright," came the Onett boy's bemused voice as he lay on his back, and although they couldn't see his face clearly enough, they knew he was grinning. "Morning, guys."

Poo looked at the clock's luminous blue numbers before letting out a half-hearted laugh and replying with an empty cheer to his voice, "Yes, good morning."

"Wonder if there's anything open yet, I'm starving," Ness muttered, untangling himself from the blanket. Once he managed that, he scooted closer to the others, sat cross-legged and wrapped it around himself.

"I'm pretty sure the café across the street never closes," said Jeff, crawling close enough to the window to reach out and pull at the closed curtains, allowing the faint beam of the streetlights to enter the room. "I assume you're not gonna wait four hours for room service."

Ness laughed. "I could, but hamburgers are a lot better, right?"

Jeff paused, feeling a sudden coldness shoot up his spine. He, for one, didn't look forward to starting the day.

Methodically and almost entirely on instinct, he began to count their remaining hours. They would probably be up as soon as there was enough light to call it daytime, then they would head out together and eat someplace nice and relatively isolated. Maybe by then someone would dare to admit that it would take more than that to prepare for the fight against Giygas. The rest of the morning would be spent training and shopping for new weapons, and then...

"Paula...?"

Jeff's hands fell at his sides, his mouth agape; the pale light from the now visible window revealed Paula's figure, her hands clasped together and eyes closed in prayer. He searched for Ness and Poo in the dimness of the rest of the room, mouthing incoherent half-phrases.

"We'll be fine..." Paula stated, as if sensing the turmoil inside her friends. She hadn't yet lowered her hands or opened her eyes. "I know we will. But I... I want to do this, okay?"

Wordlessly, Jeff finished pulling the curtains open and turned to find his friends, sitting in an incomplete circle over their beds. He gave Ness a tentative glance - Poo remained as inscrutable as always – and wished, if only for a moment, that he could sense his thoughts.

By the time he started to turn to Poo with pleading eyes, however, he saw Ness beginning to move.

"...okay," slowly, deliberately, the psychic boy raised his hands, eyes locked on Paula – and then slowly falling closed as his hands found each other. He, too, had begun to pray; the vehemency in his expression was enough for Jeff to realize that much.

He was still staring back and forth between the two psyhics when he heard the sound of Poo's hands clasping together. He swallowed a sudden lump in his throat. If it was just a whim of hers, then maybe...

He let his body relax, shoulders slumped, and sat down, completing their circle. He gave a skeptical glance at each of his companions, feeling out of place; Jeff had never been an optimist, much less a believer, but there was something comforting in the way Paula could always prove him wrong about the most improbable things. He wanted to understand. Maybe he was too used to being right; Jeff was always right, with his realism and scientifical facts.

Then again, every pessimist used realism as an excuse, and the more advanced his inventions became, the more they resembled Paula's nearly magical abilities. He just wasn't used to being wrong. He just didn't have the time to stop and let go and believe.

Without a second thought, Jeff closed his eyes and raised his hands – the second palm met palm and fingers became intertwined, he found that he could make an exception.