She stared at the first stars that appeared in the west. Dusk crept as sunset descended into the horizon, painting lavender and blue into the sky. Overlooking the cliff, the forest below looked like heaps of coal. The night fell deeper. The pirate girl finally stood up from her grassy seat and turned to the officer, sighing. "It doesn't look like they're coming back..."
"What? Oh...You're right." He was a few meters away from her, looking out to the trees, alert for anyone-friend or foe. More than five hours had passed since the Mayship landed, and Ky quickly deduced that it would be pass 6 o'clock by now. Since they had dropped her at such an hour, he figured out that her visit to the Grove was just supposed to be a short stopover. Also, the Jellyfish would never leave a member alone at nighttime.
"I wonder where Johnny and May went. April said that they would pick us up at around this time. Maybe, something happened..."
"I'm sure they're alright." He really didn't know the right thing to say, knowing how softhearted she was. One wrong word may hurt her feelings.
"I hope Testament is okay..."
A cold wind blew against their faces. Testament hadn't returned yet, so something must have happened. Surely he'd return to the Grove once it was over, but he was taking too long, along with Johnny. He should have finished whatever his business was around this time.
"Officer, if it's fine with you I know a place where we can wait for him. It's the place where I used to live. There's water there and some blankets we can use." She didn't want to tell him that she was feeling tired, and needed a rest. "Or it is safer to stay here?" Dizzy asked, just to make sure.
"No, let's go there together." A hiding place would be more convenient and safer he thought, especially if her guardians knew where it was. Also, he wanted to wash the blood off him badly, and treat his aching wounds.
They were greeted by crickets, and by the louder cries of the cicada. An owl said hello, its round eyes glowing, telling the pair where it was. There was a rustle of wings above their heads-but it was only a few creatures flying blind. The two stopped in their tracks and stared at the open darkness.
"I thought we could go there in minutes, but I admit that I never left my place during the night. Officer, I apologize, I don't know how we can go there."
"You just need a light, right?" Blue sparks swirled in his palm, his fingers controlling them like puppet strings. A tiny dot of light slowly emerged in his hand, slowly growing into a sphere the size of his head. "Here, is this enough?"
The bluish glow showed the wooden cave walls above them and the leafy ceiling that concealed the stars. A small white orb at their right was probably the full moon. They begun their steps, sending some insects and frogs hopping away.
"So Ms. Dizzy, are we going back to the place where we first met?"
"No, the place where I stayed is different. This place could be once a small town, but was long abandoned. There are ruins everywhere, though most of them were already covered by plants or trees."
"I see. Probably some of the very old graves in the cemetery belonged to the people who once lived here." He walked beside her, his lighting orb on his hand on his opposite side.
"Cemetery? You mean the one near the church?" Dizzy recalled. Jose used to be there most of the time, and it had been a long time since they last met. Her mind wandered off for a moment. Ever since the priest drove her away, she could not find a way to see her again.
"My master was buried there. He died just around four months ago."
Four months ago? Shortly before she met Testament? She was curious."What happened?"
He never wanted to describe how he died. "Well... he fought until his last breath as an old man. He's a true knight, full of his years."
"May I know his name?"
"Commander Kliff Undersn." Hero of the Crusades, Father of the Holy Knights.
"Kliff... his name is very familiar. I think I've read or heard about him before."
"He's pretty famous since he was a war hero. I'm sure a lot of war veterans talked about him."
"Yes, I remember now!" Her parents talked about him once at their dining table, and one time she heard young boys pretend as knights. Her forest companion undoubtedly mentioned him to her as well. "Testament visits him once in a while."
"He visits him...That's good to hear."
"Maybe he idolized him, don't you think so, Sir Ky? From the way you talked about him, it seems that he's a person both you and Testament respect." Or even more than that-the old man's resting place might have led his guardian to the Grove, led him to her.
He opened his mouth to speak, but paused as their eyes finally met the moon at a clearing. They were back. Ky stepped on some ashes and Dizzy's boots slightly sunk into the shallow mud. The corpse, which Ky burned earlier lay there still, bloody, black, and dried. White and dark feathers litter the rocky ground. They passed through, walking past the fallen trees, stepping over some obstacles. No one uttered a word.
"He loved him." Ky finally continued. "Commander Undersn was loved by everyone who knew him. His passing saddened all the people who admired him and his friends as well." And a terrible loss to his sons and daughters. He pressed on." Testament must have felt the same; that's why, I perhaps one day, I hope, we could visit him together as friends." No, as brothers... He had forgiven him; he had no reason not to.
"Sir Ky... I thought you hate Testament. I guess I'm wrong."
"I used to, I hated all Gears once." He looked at her. "But despite that, I'm friends with one. Am I right, Ms. Dizzy?"
She liked his honesty. Her answer was a bright smile, her pearly whites turned bluish, reflecting the orb her companion was holding. "You know...I hope you and Testament will get along too."
"You think so?" He wondered, since Testament's attitude with him was like his treatment towards Sol. he'd known Sol for years, but they still don't get along. He thought about his old comrade. They had always argued bitterly but whenever they worked together, the results were always surprisingly good. He chuckled at his old memories with him. "I think you're right." He told her. "People can be friends despite hating each other, as long as they have trust." Testament left her with him even though he said that he doesn't trust humans. Ky told himself that he wouldn't let him down.
"I understand now what you mean. I didn't trust humans before, but now I trust Johnny and the Jellyfish, now they're more than just friends, they're family. I love them."
"I'm happy for you, family is... irreplaceable."
They walked down a narrow path, barely noticed between the overgrown roots. Silver rays of luna from the roofs of ancient wood lit the crooked road. Cobblestones littered among the patches of weeds, shrubs and small boulders. Dizzy lagged behind, her heels slipping on the smooth, round rocks. She used to trek this area before, barefooted.
She used to pass there by herself. Then Testament came, and walked beside her, protecting her. Johnny held her hand and led her out of her seclusion. Now she's with Ky Kiske, visiting again. She wasn't alone. She wondered who would be next-
The lady fell backwards, feet sliding forward. Her denim shorts landed hard.
"Are you alright!" The gentleman rushed to help her up.
"Yes, I'm sorry..."
"Why don't you fly? You have wings if your feet get tired."
"I... I am afraid to use them for now."
"I understand, here." He offered his hand as the other held their improvised lamp. "I don't mind-"
Dizzy took off her shoes.
It was magical. It was a mystery why such a place got forgotten by people; the young man's eyes widened at sight of a small portion of a city, lost forever. There were marble angels, gleaming at the moon's rays. The stone houses and structures were wrapped in vines and flowers. Window panes remained, though most of their glass was broken, the doors were gone, and the brick roofs, incomplete.
Only one thing was out of place: a sign that yelled "GET OUT! DANGEROUS!"
The moonlight in the place was enough so he decided to turn out their electric sphere, and stretched his wrist that had went numb. If he could only use fire like Sol, he would not have to endure such difficulty of controlling lighting magic.
"I wonder if they are alright..." Dizzy muttered. She was hoping that Testament would be waiting for her. She looked around, but there was no sign of her friend.
"Johnny and May are good fighters, and I can't think of anyone that can beat Testament." Ky assured her as they passed through a small bridge across a mossy pond. Worrying too much will bring nothing, that's why he had always raised the spirits of others.
"Yes, you're right. They are strong, and they had always protected me..."Her voice was down, a bit sad. She stopped and looked at her companion. "Do you need water?"
The question was sudden."Huh?"
She walked towards a stone well and pulled its ropes. "The water is clean, you can use it to wash yourself. Your uniform is so bloody..." Handing him a wooden bucket, she continued, "I'll get you a few blankets so you can dry your clothes, okay?"
It was random. Ky stood for a moment with the bucket in his hand as he watched Dizzy briskly walk away. Either she didn't want to continue the conversation or she knew what he needed. Anyways, she spoke to him like he was a new guest or some sort.
He proceeded to what he badly wanted to do-get rid of the blood. The well wasn't very deep and the water's level was high; he watched as its ripples erased his silhouette, together with the moon's reflection. He poured all unto his head, and his body shivered in response, his wounds stung. He knew it would hurt, as the effect of the painkiller he swallowed earlier was now gone. But he wanted to wash it all away-Justice's blood. Feeling it on his skin made him feel sick, it was disgusting. He hated it.
Did the same blood flow in Dizzy's veins?
"Sir Ky, this firewood is enough right?" She called from a distance.
Dizzy was stacking them at an enclosure at his right. It was what remained of a room of a house, its pebble flooring uncovered by dirt.
"Yes, that's good." He called back and seeing that she was busy and wasn't looking, he removed his cape and unfastened the belt of his undershirt next. When they were all taken off, he squeezed out a good amount of reddish water from them. He looked at his body, pale as the moon, tainted, and decided to take one more bucket-
"Would you like potatoes for dinner?" She was suddenly beside him, very close, looking directly at him. It was too late. She shrieked as cold water splashed on her bare skin. "Ah-eeh!"
"Oh, I'm so sorry!" He was terribly embarrassed, especially that his body was undressed.
Her eyes on her wet face remained closed for a second and she didn't answer. Instead, she took the pail from the young man and quickly dipped it on the well. "Revenge!" She shouted at him as she lifted up the water above her.
She splashed it on herself. "Just kidding." She giggled as drops trickled down her blue hair. "This feels good. I really don't like that Gear's blood on me, it's disgusting." Her wings folded around her, warming her body. Shortly after, she ran back to the "house" and brought with her a woolen blanket. "Here, use this."
"How about you?"
"Don't worry about me."
His boots were neatly placed at the corner of the room, his cape and knight shirt hung by the window. The leather first aid pouch was on his side as he unrolled the bandage he always had with him. A blanket was on his shoulders, covering his back, and a sword lay at his front. He sat by the fire, small but warm. Above it was a pot full of potatoes, its steam rising up to the naked evening sky.
She entered the open room without her bows, dressed in dry clothes. It was a long dress with white laces; the one she was wearing when they first met. The only difference was, this one was pink. He gentleman stared at her discreetly and told himself mentally that she looked better in modest clothing. After she sat down in front of her, he turned around to hide his bare upper body. It wasn't proper to be undressed in front of a lady, but the cuts on his arm, his shoulders and his sides needed medicine quickly.
"Yes, a little..."
"This was my house for a while." She pointed at the floor. "There are a lot of unused stuff here, most of them inside cabins or storehouses. Maybe, the people here knew some sort of crisis would come and prepared reserves."
"I think God purposely left these things, knowing that someone will live here long after those people left."
"I have to thank Him for that..." The mention of faith made her feel blessed. Ky simply affirmed to her that God cares for her, something that Gears were not suppose to receive. "Though I find it sad...that people left this nice place."
"It's because of the war." He wanted to explain some history but it would be out of their topic. "The west of this forest is beautiful, but an old battlefield lies in the east. Tell Johnny not pass in that area."
"So they ran away because they were afraid of Gears... and those who remained harbored great hatred at those weapons." She knew how much the town people detested them, for she had received the same treatment as those "abominable" creatures. Even for a little, she hoped that they would see her as a human, but except for her parents, they never did. For her to possess awareness and intelligence only a human could have only worsened their views about her. Before, she was a mindless war machine, after a while, she's called a cunning killing beast. They closed their eyes to her heart.
"Hey, let us talk about other things. I don't want to make you sad..."
She forked the potatoes being boiled, checking if they were already cooked enough. Doing something else lessened for a little the heavy feeling pressing down on her. "What happened earlier...what the man said... "
"Don't worry about him. What he said was nonsense. No one thinks you are a threat."
She went silent, and soon, the noises of the Grove took over. Frogs croaked on the plate sized lily pads. The crickets had not ceased their calling. Water blossoms, white, some carnation, were in full bloom. Trees sang with the wind, sounding like rain.
She wanted to believe in him; there was no reason not to. So many misfortunes had happened in her life but good things, good friends had come to her in the end.
"Please, let me help you." She noticed how uncomfortable he was bandaging himself.
"I can-" Do this by myself? It sounded rude, and proud, since he knew he needed someone. The young man changed his words as he spoke them out. She wanted to help him out of pure intentions, he should not refuse it because of petty reasons. "I can...feel some wounds on my back but I can't reach them, Can you treat them for me?"
"Yes, I'll be happy to." She walked towards him and sat on her knees, by his side. With a nod from him, she got her permission to lift the blanket on his shoulders. He turned a little, away from her, so she could see his wounds better.
Ky's body was the exact opposite of what his face looked like. His back reminded her of the tree stump her father chopped firewood on, back at her old home. The only difference was, besides the long and short lines that came from all sorts of cuts and slashes, there were some disfigured parts where the colors of his skin were distorted, fleshy, obviously burned by either lightning or fire.
"These scars... you've fought so much... so much pain. " Because of her, new ones will be left in his body forever. Unlike her, he didn't have the fast physical recovery of a Gear and had to endure long periods of rest. It was unfair for him.
"It's nothing, just a small price to pay when you protect others." He really didn't mind being scarred, since his preferred set of clothes covered them anyway. And he had no interest in scoring women with his body. "These are the real battle trophies that even losers have." He let out a small laugh at his joke which targeted his repeated humiliation from Sol.
"I wish I could be like you..."
When she lost a place to run to, she hid. When she hated humans, she saw a friend in Testament. When she wanted to get out, she clung to the pirates, a danger to them all. But now, she wanted to fight, like Ky. Instead of secluding her, Ky Kiske told her to get out and face the world. He treated her as a human and showed her no hatred. She was saved from threats to her life as he risked his name to protect her.
"I wish I could be like you..." She repeated, eyes reflecting the fire, her hands cleaning his wounds with a white fabric. "But, I was just so much trouble for everyone today..."
Trouble? Was she? He asked himself. Staying at the Grove wasn't even in his plan. A couple of his (self-assigned) duties were missed or delayed. But were they really more important? "No, you weren't any trouble. I was happy to help. I'm sure everyone else feels the same way."
She began wrapping the bandages around his waist. "Thank you... I am in your debt." She couldn't believe how kind this man was. He had every right to refuse helping her. "Officer, can you help me again with something, only if it's okay with you? "
"Please tell me what it is."
"I don't know anything about myself, why I was born...what this mysterious power is." Her hands stopped moving as her mind delved into questions.
He could not answer her, his mouth opened to speak nothing.
The silence brought her even more questions. What if she was obliging him? What if he wasn't wholeheartedly offering his help? What if she was a burden to him?That's right, she was a burden to him; to everyone else. It was what he said to her at their first meeting. Others had protected her, but there was something just for her, a thing only she can do for them. Dizzy continued, "If I knew a little more about myself, maybe nothing of this would have happened. I want to know more about myself."
He understood what she wanted to do, and for him it was admirable. There was something more. It had always been Gears versus humans, and a wall stood before between them. She was telling him something different by asking him to help her learn about herself, blood and races set aside. Humans and gears living together, huh... He pondered the vision. So much was to learn from her. "You're right... I promise I will do whatever I can to help you."
"I don't really know how to thank you Sir Ky." She continued her nurse work.
"'Ky' would be fine, now we know each other better." His days as a commander is over, and before being an officer, he was just the plain Ky. Somehow he felt that he had been detached from the people he knew as he held authority, at least, if they called him by his name, he would be closer to them.
"Then can you also call me 'Dizzy'?" The 'Ms.' made her feel too special.
"Heh, formality is habit of mine I guess. Sure, from now on I'll just call you 'Dizzy'"
"Then I have to break the habit of apologizing to you too." Now that she felt closer to him as a friend, she shouldn't treat herself as a dead weight. Examining her cotton and bandage work, she breathed out as her work was almost done-and view on the door-less entrance was refreshing. "Ky, look outside. It's beautiful isn't it?"
He marveled at the sight; little lights of gold flew around the willows. Hundreds, thousands of them lit the sleeping town. When he was a small child he had always wanted to see them, but fireflies were believed to be extinct where he lived. A folklore his mother read to him long ago said that whenever there were fireflies, fairies would be present. And if he had a good heart, a beautiful enchantress will show herself and make his wishes come true.
Of course, it was all a fairy tale.
"You have good hands." He liked them, so careful and gentle.
A whisper was calling his name, her voice reaching his ears. Wake up, she told him. Wake up...
"Hey Ky! Wake up. Eat your breakfast and hurry!" She was bent towards him, looking straight at his sleepy eyes, tapping his shoulder.
Leaning by the wall, the young man was startled. "Huh...?" He rubbed his eyes.
Mayship was floating high in the air, slowly drifting into the western part of the forest. It was very early in the morning and the sky was still dark. Ky looked around and saw the area orderly, ready to be left, except for newly cooked potatoes for him. Her ribbons were already neatly placed on her hair. He was ready to leave as well, all his things prepared, though his body was demanding more rest. But never mind. When he barely slept at all, watching out for intruders until twilight, it turned out that she woke up early for him in return.
"Great, now I guess they'll look for you here-"
"They're flying in low speed. Ky, let's go meet them!" It was hard to tell if she's excited or terribly worried.
"What?" He hurriedly peeled his breakfast and ate it as fast as he could, proper etiquette ignored. A minute or two was all he needed.
Her wings spread out before him, the cool morning breeze moving them with her skirt. She flew, and he walked with her. As he looked at her face and studied her expression, he decided to meet the pirates as soon as possible. "We can go faster if you want to, I'll just keep up with you." She nodded, and bid farewell to her old home.
The young woman and her knight raced, passed through the trees, startled birds and broke some twigs. A trail of footprints and feathers were left behind as they headed towards the bright exit. Everything was fast; the fear the day before, the night of talking, and the places his feet stepped on were all left behind like the winds on their back. Their pace quickened as they got nearer, and nearer until they broke free of the shaded maze and stopped past the tall, forest sentinels.
Sunrise from the east flooded the edge of the cliff, waking up the forest below. The greenery glowed bright, the river sparkled like sand. Mighty gusts of wind, the noise of propellers, and the very visible sign, "Mayship," signaled the return of the pirates. They parked by the plateau, floating in midair.
The captain and his right hand waved their hands. "Dizzy! Are you okay!" May shouted with her high pitched voice. Johnny looked at the officer, tilting his hat, saying hello and thanks, his thumb, inviting him to ride. Ky shook his head. Others, worried sick, were also there, calling out their comrade's name. A rope ladder was let down at the side.
"I'm alright!" Dizzy smiled wide as she saw them safe and waved back and walked towards the ship, Ky escorting her. "Thank you, Ky." She looked at him. "If you weren't with me, I don't know what could have happened." Her wings moved to fly.
"Don't worry about it, I'm happy to help." He held her hand to keep her in place as the strong wind blew her wings.
She looked back to him as she ascended, her hand not letting go of him until the distance of the deck from the ground parted them. "I'll talk to Johnny about what we talked about last time, I hope... he would agree with me."
"If he doesn't agree I'll talk to him myself, alright?" He assured with a gentle smile, though he knew that the odds were against him. Meeting her would be the most dangerous secret activity he'd do, and he knew that she understood that as well. "For now, I'll look for Testament, I promise I'll let you know once I find him."
"I... I don't know how I can thank you enough!" Her hair spun around as the ship moved, hiding the tears from her eyes. She would repay him one day, she vowed. "Next time-"
"Goodbye." His lips spelled, unheard by her.
"Ky, we'll meet again, right?"
The wind blew dust off the the cliff, and knight instinctively covered his eyes. It cleared, and something caught his sight as soon as he opened them. He hurriedly jumped out and reached it with his hand, grasping it before it flies away.
He ran as fast as he could to keep up with the ship, calling her as his hand held her precious ribbon, his hand stretched out to her. She reached out to him from the rails, but they were too far apart. "Dizzy!" He called out.
"Keep it! it's a gift!" The ship rocked, her blue hair danced like water in the sky, her eyes and her heart, fixed on him who was left behind. There would be a next time. She would see him again, as a stronger, different person. "Goodbye!"
"Goodbye..." He stood alone, watching her fly away, unintentionally ignoring the others who were also bidding farewell to him. As the ship disappeared from his sight, his eyes went down to the bow on his hands. Silently, he thanked her- and a happy whistling, out of tune, was soon heard with the rustling of the leaves.
(*) I'm sure Dizzy didn't live in trees or in a cave. There are some ruins in her stage and she must used them as shelter.
(*) Dizzy looks best on black for me, but we see in the anime trailer her pink dress and that's what I used for her in this fic.
(*) Testament loves potatoes, therefore he planted some. It's canon, you can't disprove me.
(*) The Grove must have a good ecosystem, since humans don't live in its deep parts. And everyone knows that when humans aren't present, nature flourishes.
(*) When will the Testament vs Dizzy thing happen? After Dizzy comes back and meet Ky again, in my fanfic-verse of course.
Other rants or credits:
This fanfic is the combination of three stories that wasn't completed because of my busy schedule. Those three won't work alone anyway so I just piled them altogether. Guess which parts are they. This is my first two-shot, and my first multi-chapter that is published the same time. I decided to do so because one part isn't complete with the other, or wouldn't make much sense at all.
I love this story as much as all my other stories but I feel this one has something special. Somehow I didn't have a strict format on this story, contrary to the other ones. All the dialogues just flowed out my mind, Ky and Dizzy just have so much to talk about.
Inspiration for this fic:
Firstly, I think this fanfic is also the product of all the Dizzy bashings. Everyone who knows the Drama CD's should logically see that Dizzy isn't a mindless hentai fanboy's dream as many interprets her to be, or imagines her to be (though they are free to do so.) Her fanservice is very blatant in but if you're interested enough in her personality, you'll see a kind, sad, benevolent young woman who's sentenced to death when she was born, her origins shrouded in mystery. A Mary Sue? NO. If you want discussion, PM me.
Music is very inspirational for me, and I prefer the peaceful ones most of the time. Part I was solely created in my mind by "Green Bird" from Cowboy Bebop, however I failed to write the imagery I originally intended. Part II came from many tunes. Fate Stay Night's main theme fitted all parts. "To Zanarkand(FFX,)" "Suteki da Ne(FFX,)" "The Oath(FF8,)"and "Nicol's Theme(GS)" made the bonfire, nursing scene. The final part, believe it or not was from three songs: "Life(Ayahi Tagakagi,)" "Calm Passion(Daisuke Ishiwatari, GGX,)" and "Fields of Hope(Rie Tanaka, GSD.)"
Lastly, conversations with my friends Talon Silverwolf and Xouls Rainez, which wonderfully beta-ed this story had inspired me so much.
Hmm reviews, I would want to have them of course. Pwlease. :D