"Polka what are you doing?" Allegretto asked, extending his hand out towards the girl who was too far away for him to touch. As if he couldn't figure out from their past conversation there.
"Don't do it! We'll find some other way to save the world! You don't have to carry the burden all by yourself!" He didn't care that all their friends were staring at the situation. They'd all been able to surmise how he felt about her anyway. He just knew he couldn't bear the thought of losing Polka.
She took a step closer to the edge of the cliff.
He read her lips and wanted to cry harder than he ever had in his life.
Allegretto watched her prepare herself for the fall as if she were taking in every last moment she possibly could. But why couldn't he move? Maybe it was shock that was causing him to stand in place and watch. Or maybe he knew she'd leap anyway and he was trying to cherish the last few moments he had to look at her.
"…And it's for the person that means the most to me. My life is nothing compared to his! Doing this is easy if it's for him."
Was she talking about him? Did she believe it? What he wouldn't do to even be able to take her spot… Allegretto's heart raced faster while he found it harder and harder to breath. If only he'd known – if only could have found a way to keep this from happening!
And then she fell.
All he could do was scream and fall with her. Only instead of falling to the ocean, he fell to the dusty lifeless earth, fists against the ground.
"Why? Why couldn't I do anything for her? What could I have done to change things?" Tears stung his eyes while his mind reeled endlessly. The only image in his head was the couple second replaying of her throwing herself into the ocean. He couldn't bear to run to the edge of the cliff to watch her fall – he knew he'd be tempting to follow her just to find a way to save her.
He broke down in front of everyone. He didn't think he would have been able to stop himself no matter how hard he tried. Why her? Why the sweetest person he had ever known? Why the girl he had fallen in love with? His heart sank lower and lower into his stomach. He thought he might be sick.
Allegretto knew he was probably losing his mind when he began yelling at the corpse of the man who dreamt this world. Except he still didn't believe that it was a dream. Everything was now way too painful, way too real, to be a dream.
He couldn't believe his eyes when Frederick stood back up. The dead don't normally stand up again. It didn't matter; Allegretto couldn't follow a word that Frederick said anyway. It sounded so foreign to him.
He didn't care. He couldn't bring himself to care about anything but the fact that Polka was gone. He hated himself for not being able to tell her how he felt, for hiding some of the truth about things he'd done, for not doing more. It was as though everything was amplified – every thought, every feeling.
Allegretto had absolutely no concept of time. He just knew that everyone aside from Frederick was completely quiet. He didn't know which one of them they were staring, but he couldn't bring himself to care even just in the slightest.
Maybe if they hadn't fallen from the Cabasa Bridge…
Maybe if Baroque had aided Andantino more openly…
Maybe if they hadn't stayed the extra day or two in Baroque…
…Maybe if he had just had been stronger…
"Polka…" He whispered to the dead air around him, praying that saying her name would make her come back. "Polka, I love you too…" Tears returned to his eyes and he had never been so upset or emotionally shattered in his life, not even when his parents had died.
Even if he had been able to think of them, he was pretty sure that there were no words to describe how he felt, so he continued to cry and punch the ground.
"Retto…" Beat whispered sadly, holding his own tears back the best he could. He knew he wasn't nearly as depressed as the older boy, maybe partially because he was really confused. Beat walked closer to Allegretto but hadn't the slightest idea what to say. He had never seen Allegretto so upset before. In fact, he was always the put together one, the strong one. It scared Beat a little bit, but Beat hardly blamed Allegretto. It wasn't like he hadn't figured out how badly he wanted to impress Polka. She was pretty… and she was so nice…
Beat looked down, realizing he was making himself more upset.
Allegretto had managed to finally stop crying. He had kicked the replay out of his head and began going through his favorite times with her to try to make him feel a little better. They were the same memories he thought of when he couldn't sleep or was resting from a difficult battle. He could feel himself holding her hand as they crossed the Cabasa Bridge for the first time, then later when he pulled her out of the way of an enemy attack in Fort Fermata. He remembered the relief he felt when she woke up in Baroque. He thought of the way she looked at him when he gave her the oddly shaped rock and the way she smiled every time she was relieved that he unharmed from a fight.
Allegretto didn't bother to look up when Beat began talking. He didn't think he had the strength in him. He figured he'd be stuck there on the ground thinking about her for while and really didn't want anyone to bother him anyway.
"It's Polka! She's… she's glowing!"
Was she appearing as an angel to them? Or was she haunting them for not being able to help her? But if it was one last glimpse at her… Allegretto barely found it in him to lift his head back up.
And there she was… floating above the ground with glowing lights all around her. Her eyes were closed, but she had color in her skin. His eyes widened in disbelief and despite his internal dialogue screaming at him not to get his hopes up, he did anyway. In doing so, Allegretto found the strength to stand up as though nothing had happened.
"Polka…" He said with a growing smile. She had returned, and with it, everything, including him, came back to life. He was growing more and more excited by the second. She had to be real, he knew it!
He hadn't even realized he was running towards her until she started running towards him. They slowed down just a few steps away from each other and Allegretto realized that she seemed to be just as surprised to see him as he was to see her. Polka took a few steps closer to him and he couldn't help himself as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close to him. He had to ne near her. He needed to feel her heart beat, to feel her breath. When he felt it, he held her closer and closed his eyes to cherish the moment further. There were no words for the full relief he felt.
He didn't pretend to understand it. But he didn't care. He pulled away just a bit to make sure it was really her and not his mind playing tricks on him. Allegretto couldn't stop smiling as he watched her blush and look away shyly. His hands gently held her forearms; he knew there was no way he'd let go of her now. He thought maybe he needed to hold onto her too as he recovered from the emotional rollercoaster ride he had just been though. All he really knew was that he was so happy standing in the flower field near her, both of them knowing how real the feelings between them were. Allegretto couldn't stop looking at her and just how beautiful she was.
She finally looked back up at him, and when their eyes met she smiled as though she had finally accepted that this moment was real. Allegretto thought he might have wanted to say something funny to see her giggle again or say one of the million heartfelt emotions that he had never had the courage to say but now wanted to.
Instead, he just decided to lean in closer and kiss her since he thought that might be the only way to let her know everything he had felt and gone through. When she kissed him back, he realized that she had mirrored every single one of his emotions.
He pulled away from her just slightly and looked into her eyes again. When she didn't look away, he realized that words were finally coming back to him and he needed to say them.
"I love you too."