Chapter Sixteen

"Dance with the Devil" by Breaking Benjamin

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Warmth that couldn't be described fell all over Flynn's body. The feeling it gave his skin felt familiar, yet far away. The feeling was on the tip of his tongue, but he couldn't remember what it was that he was thinking of. His brain crawled to the recesses of his mind to try and find an answer, but nothing showed up.

It felt good, however, and the captain reveled in the feeling. It was like warmth pricking his skin ever so lightly, yet no pain came from the sensation. Bliss was all that he could use to describe what he felt, but even that word seemed vague and incorrect. Regardless, the blonde enjoyed the warmth that spread throughout his limbs, knowing that the feeling was something that he hadn't felt in so long.

Through his closed eyes, he could see shades of yellows and reds dance across his eyelids, and to his ears, he heard the slight rush of wind, and the ringing of chimes in the far off distance. Muted shouts could be made out from the voices of nature, but the shouts weren't angry or scared, they were an emotion Flynn could no longer name, but he felt content nonetheless. All of his feelings felt in prime condition. They were picking up things he didn't remember existed, like the song of birds or the giggles of children...

Where was he?

The question began to tug on his mind as his skin heated up. He began feeling uncomfortably hot, and a stifled fear roused within him. The captain wanted to open his eyes and see where he was, identify all of the noises that now plagued his thoughts, but another side of him wanted to stay ignorant. He was content for the first time in what felt like years, yet he wanted to jump up and attack the nearest sound of merriment?

The prickling sensation of heat draped his skin like a blanket, and another question begged his unsettled mind.

Where was Scarlet?

The very thought of the name made Flynn jump.

He bolted up, his eyes shooting open, and it was then that another rush of wind caught his skin.

The feeling was cool, and it smoothed itself across his fiery flesh. It whistled in his ear and ran its fingers through the blonde's fuzzy hair. Overall, it was relaxing, and allowed the captain to observe his surroundings.

The first thing he noticed was that he wasn't in a muddy ditch. He was laying in a bed, the white blankets that covered him in a scattered mess. His bed sat in the corner of the room, with a simple dresser sitting in the other. Across from the bed was a mirror, the blonde's disgruntled reflection in it. Flynn took a moment to look at himself in the mirror. His blonde hair stuck up and out of his head in all directions, and his weary blue eyes seemed a bit duller than usual.

His usually tan skin took on a much paler shade, and his face seemed much thinner than he remembered. At first glace, Flynn wasn't sure if it was even him in the reflection of the mirror.

Part of him wanted to believe that it was a painting of some sort, or a stranger staring into the mirror in Flynn's stead.

Regardless of the tempting thoughts of it being someone else, the captain knew it was foolish to convince himself of the ridicules notion.

White walls surrounded him, none of them covered with any decorations. To Flynn, the room looked rather tasteless, but it was the splash of color next to him that really caught his eye.

A white sill sat near the bed, frames that held glass pushed open to face the outside. Brilliant blue sat in the sky. The captain hadn't seen a color that fresh in a long time, and it took a moment for his eyes to adjust. As well as blue, he saw greens and browns, whites and reds, colors even he couldn't find the names for, all splashed outside in an array of shades.

Yet, even that didn't amount to the feeling he got when he saw the orb that glowed a dazzling red orange in the sky. It's warm rays hit his skin, causing him to heat up again, but this time he didn't mind it. The feeling warmed his brain enough to remember its name... the sun.

He was looking at the sun, something he hadn't seen in such a long time.

Some part of him wanted to cry, another wanted to sit in shock, but for some reason, Flynn knew nothing he did would help with the feelings appearing inside of him.

He was back home.

He had to be.

With a rush, the blonde jumped up from his bed, tossing the already scrabbled mess of blankets he had to the floor. Nothing was going to stop his exploration of the castle. A big part of him didn't even want to believe he was back home, away from the depressing state he'd been shoved into.

He ran out of his door, making sure to shut it appropriately, but with haste. He then made a mad dash down the hall; towards the one room he wanted, no, needed, to see first.

On his way, he passed several guards, who gave him a strange look, but didn't say anything.

They merely saluted him with strange expressions played out on their faces. Flynn swore he head murmurs about a captain going crazy as he made the last few steps to Estellise's room.

The door was the same as he remembered. A plain white door scarcely decorated with the imprint of leaves along the outside. The brass doorknob stared at him as he readied his hand above it.

What did he think he was going to find?

A chill ran down his spine at the memory of Estellise's head gawking at him, but he shoved the thought away. The blonde could not be distracted by those thoughts now. With a final gulp, he quickly turned the knob and swung open the door.

What he saw shocked him.

Estellise was standing in the middle of the room, practically naked save for the towel wrapped around her torso. Her pink hair was wet and hung in her face in strands, and several maids, some of whom held a dress, stared at him.

It took a few moments for everything to register in Flynn's mind, and even then he found himself staying and staring.

"Flynn..." Estellise spoke, her voice a whisper.

Her voice snapped the blonde to his senses, "Oh my God, I'm so sorry..." He began closing the door, but felt that his apology wasn't very formal, and it hardly qualified as a way to apologize to a princess, so he opened the door again, "I mean to say, I'm sorry to intrude-" he bowed swiftly, his forehead hitting the doorknob, "Ow!"

He gripped his head in pain as he muttered a few words under his breath, "I-I'm sorry!"

The captain went to close the door, but found himself falling to the floor instead.

"Flynn!" Estellise had charged the poor blonde and tackled him to the ground.

A whoosh escaped the captain's lungs as he found the pink-headed princess on top of him. She had him embraced in a fierce hug, "Flynn! You're awake! I'm so happy!"

The blonde pushed down his blush and struggled to pull himself and Estellise into a sitting position. Once they were both upright, he returned the hug the princess so willingly given.

"Estellise, it's so good to see you!" He squeezed her tightly before letting go.

"Flynn! I was so worried when I heard you had fainted..." She buried her face in his chest, and the captain found himself fighting the heat in his cheeks off again.

"Fainted?" He questioned, hoping to keep his mind distracted. A part of him was confused, the other part was to swamped in happiness to even care, but he knew he needed to take the opportunity to figure out what had happened, "I fainted?"

Blue green eyes stared up at him, "You don't remember? That's a bad sign." She placed her hand on his forehead dramatically, gently bumping the already forming bruise.

The blonde flinched at the contact.

"Oh, Flynn, did that bruise come from some sort of concussion? Maybe you shouldn't even be up, I should heal you then get some doctors in here-" During her rant, she'd put her hand onto Flynn's cheek, keeping it there while looking in his eyes.

The captain easily stopped her rant when he placed his hand on hers, "No Estellise, I'm alright, I didn't get that from fainting." He gave a sigh when he saw the princess's unsure expression, "Princess, I got it when I bowed my head for my rude entrance. It wasn't my place to simply barge in while you were changing..."

As soon as he mentioned those words, he wished he could have taken them away, because it caused a reaction in both of them to look down as if assessing the situation and much to Flynn's horror and hidden happiness, Estellise's towel had become misplaced during her tackling.

A blush rose across both of their faces, and Flynn could see the pink haired girl's expression nicely. It was a mix between embarrassment and shock.

They both sat there for a moment, unsure what to do, when Estellise suddenly hopped off Flynn and dashed over to her towel.

Flynn politely dismissed his eyes from her in her mad dash, and instead, pulled himself out of the room. With a solid clunk, he shut the plain wooden door and slid down into a sitting position, his head in his knees.

Honestly, he didn't know what emotion he was feeling. He wanted to be happy. He wanted to charge back into the room and hug the princess, to hug her and kiss her and express his love for her, but another part of the blonde held him in place. Memories were threatening his brain, and a small bit in his brain wanted to recall the vacant expression Estellise's face had carried when her head had been removed from her body.

Flynn felt a shiver rack his body as the thoughts flooded back. He tried to fight it, he really did, but he became overwhelmed, and his heart began to hurt. Why had everything happened to him? What was the purpose? He had been to hell and now he was back; back to a time where nothing was wrong, and everything around him was sunshine and rainbows. Why had he been the only one to suffer?

He looked at his body. None of the wounds he'd received marred his flesh, but the captain could still feel the pain the wounds had once caused him. He cradled himself as his mind fought the onslaught of pain. Squeezing his eyes shut, the blonde desperately tried to stop his body from shaking, but nothing helped.

Falling back, that's what he was doing. He was falling back to the horrible time, and there was nothing he could do. Hardly any part of his body tried to resist the memories, the pain, the emotional baggage he'd started carrying around. Every stab, every fear wrenching moment he could replay perfectly in his head.

So he was back to his normal time, but nothing could bring his shocked mind back too?

Hot tears streamed his face as he circled his arms around his legs and buried his face deeper into his knees, willing that the floor would consume him and never have to face anything or anyone again. Why did it hurt so much? Why did the pain plague him so? He had escaped. He was back from the abyss, but every thought dredged up from his mind brought back a fresh wave of pain into his body.

His body convulsed as sobs racked their way through his lungs. He took in shallow breaths and tried to regain himself, but nothing was working anymore. He was spiraling downwards, just as Scarlet would have wanted...

Scarlet.

Scarlet is Yuri Lowell.

Before another wave of dread could fill the blonde's head, a hand on his shoulder jolted him from his thought. He gave a small gasp as he looked up into steel gray eyes. His heart almost leapt out of his throat in fear and happiness, but his facial expression must have confused the dark haired man above him.

"Flynn?"

The blonde shook all the thoughts that could have swarmed him mind away, "Yuri... it's good to see you." His voice came out fairly monotone, but truthfully, he didn't know what to say. Was he supposed to jump up and cry, hugging his best friend, or was he supposed to slap the swordsman across the face? Luckily, Yuri responded before the blonde would have to say anything else,

"It's good to see you too Flynn, but man... you look like hell." The dark haired man squatted down next to the captain. "What's with the crying?"

He motioned towards Flynn's face, and the blonde instantly rubbed his eyes with his sleeve. It was embarrassing to be caught in such a moment of weakness, and the blonde wanted to say something about it, but when he opened his mouth to speak, a sob came out instead of words, and Flynn began crying harder.

"Hey, calm down..."

Flynn was sure if he was looking at the dark haired man's face, he'd have a look of confusion on. Dealing with people during their emotional breakdowns wasn't Yuri Lowell's specialty.

Another wave of sobs later, the captain managed to squeak out, "I'm sorry you have to see me like this." He kept his blue eyes squeezed shut, but he felt a reassuring hand rubbing his back,

"It's okay, Flynn. We grew up together; I've seen you cry more than once." Yuri's voice didn't' exactly shower the blonde in confidence, but he had a point.

Getting his act together, Flynn took a deep breath, trying to force himself to settle down, "It's just been a stressful day is all."

The captain was sure he was getting a strange look from his friend, but he decided to ignore it.

With a sigh, he leaned his head against the wooden door, and everything was quite for a while. Outside, he could hear the birds chirping and the breeze wheezing on its way. Oddly enough, Flynn was jealous of the free birds and wind. He was stuck in the castle, trapped inside his mind while everything in the world moved out in beautiful freedom. The blonde scrunched up his eyebrows at this and got a chuckle from his friend in response.

"You know, Flynn," Yuri said, fully sitting down beside his friend, "you always made the most elaborate facial expressions."

Flynn gave the dark haired man a look, but allowed his friend to continue,

"When we were young, I remember watching you as you fell asleep, and I would try to guess what you were dreaming by what look you had on your face. It was funny when I'd guess a type of dream, and the next day, you'd tell me about the same type of dream you had had the night before." He gave a smile, "it was also funny when I'd see you talking to some noble, always being your polite self, but the look on your face screamed defiance. In a strange way, it makes me proud."

"I'm not your child, Yuri," Flynn commented.

"What, you don't want compliments?"

The blonde laughed, "Oh compliment away, I don't care, you just don't have to tell me all of my positive attributes whenever I'm sad." He smiled when Yuri gave him a hard look,

"Fine then, I'll kick you lower into the dirt. I hate your hair color, you look awful for someone who has been unconscious for days, and you carry the faint aroma of flowery body wash."

Flynn laughed, but found himself blushing at the last comment. He faked a cough to hide his face, hopefully before his friend noticed anything. "Why thank you, Yuri..."

"Don't go thanking me for making fun of you." Yuri said pointedly.

"Geez," remarked the blonde, "there is no pleasing you. You don't like it when I turn your compliments down and you don't like it when I thank you for your insults."

That got a laugh from the dark haired man, "Flynn, you are a piece of work."

They sat in silence then, adsorbing the quietness around them. The blonde kept his eyes trained on the floor, unsure of what emotions would arise if he looked at his friend.

Part of him wanted to explain his experience, telling his friend everything that had happened and get some sort of reassurance that Yuri would never do anything like that, but the other half wanted to keep it bottled up inside. The captain could easily say that his experience was not a normal one. He couldn't explain the giant rock that had floated in the basement, and he couldn't start to explain how real the situation felt. Even now, the blonde could feel the wounds jagging through his body, but physically, he appeared fit.

He couldn't explain it. People would blow it off as a dream of some sort, and the rock? They'd probably explain its absence with illogical conclusions like it was stolen, or that it never existed.

So really, there was no real way for Flynn to explain why he couldn't look in his friend's eyes. As wrong as it sounded, the blonde was scared of Yuri's stare.

No matter how the captain tried to reason with it, the gaze of those steel gray eyes caused shivers to course down his spine.

Flynn knew he'd have to deal with it someday. There was no way he could go through the rest of his life ignoring his best friend. Frankly, though, the captain was too drained to deal with any more stress at the moment, so he let the thought slide.

"What happened then?"

The blonde's frazzled nerves jumped at Yuri's sudden question. When Flynn received a strange look from his friend, he scratched the back of his head in apology.

"What happened with what?"

"You know..." Yuri spoke, his eyes shifting towards the door and back.

For a moment, Flynn didn't catch on. He was certain his friend was asking about the floating rock, but blushed a bit when he finally caught on to what Yuri was implying.

"Y-Yuri! How dare you imply that Estellise and I were-" He couldn't make himself finish the statement. He blushed more when his friend simply shrugged it off,

"Hey, you said it, not me."

"Well, I wasn't implying something as horrid as I'm sure your mind came up with."

"How do you know what my imagination holds?" Yuri gave Flynn a look,

"It probably has to do with the fact that you've told me about thoughts you've had." Flynn gave the dark haired man a sly look, but Yuri shrugged,

"I rated those down for you."

The blonde's mouth fell open, "so you're saying that your imagination is worse than even what I thought? Then that means I don't even have the first guess of what you were thinking!"

"Possibly." The swordsman smirked, "but I was just going off the clues."

"What clues?" It really wasn't a question, it was a daring statement. Flynn glared at his friend, momentarily forgetting the slight fear he held for the steely gaze.

"I already told you... you smell like flowers."

Flynn's mouth dropped open, and he sat for a couple of minutes like that. Instantly, the blonde sniffed the sleeve of his shirt, and sure enough, the very faint scent of flowery body wash sat on his clothes. The captain wasn't even sure how Yuri had smelt it, but it was an obvious indication. He suddenly felt the need to defend himself,

"I just walked in when she had just finished taking a shower, alright?"

"What happened to the great Flynn Scifo knocking?" The swordsman mocked, "You bust in on purpose?"

Blushing at the comment, the blonde interjected, "No! I was simply happy to be up, and my joy overtook my reasoning."

"Nothing overtakes your reasoning, Flynn."

"Joy does!" It was a lame excuse and the blonde knew it. He could tell Yuri was winning the argument; it was obvious to the dark haired man too, because he couldn't stop smirking.

The captain needed to think of a change in topic, "Wait!" Flynn called, an idea popping into his head, "Why do you know what I smell like?"

"You're assuming I do." Yuri added coolly. "I just noticed an unmanly scent. That unmanly scent just happened to be Estelle's body wash smell."

"So you're saying you know what Estellise smells like?" Flynn gave a look of feigned horror.

The dark haired man glared, "When you travel a lot, you learn people's smells. I can honestly say that Judy smells like blueberries and pie, and Rita smells like new shoes."

Flynn gave his friend a raised eyebrow, "so you travel a lot and learn people's smells, but you can't list any of the male party member's smells?"

"Don't set to high of standards for me. I don't go around smelling people you know."

The blonde laughed. The sound of his voice floated like a melody down the hall way and out the many open windows. Honestly, he couldn't stop himself from laughing... this was the Yuri Lowell he'd met as a kid. Smart mouthed, sarcastic, back talking man who didn't let anyone talk him down. It didn't even feel real.

He half expected to wake up and find himself back in the muddy world he'd arrived from. He half expected to feel raindrops fall against his cheeks, and roar of thunder in his ears, anything!

But only the birds hummed along to his laughing, and no rain could be felt.

"Flynn, you okay?" The dark haired man asked. He gave his friend a concerned look.

The captain supposed his dark headed friend was probably highly worried now. It wasn't normal for the usually calm, reserved Flynn Scifo to be laughing like a mad man on the floor. Normal would have been a steady stare and an even toned voice, but there was nothing in the blonde's mind that sung a tune that close.

Suddenly, he was off the floor and grabbing Yuri up by the arms. He danced in circles, around and around, swinging his friend as they skidded across the floor. His laughing continued as they waltzed across the halls, the people outside hearing joyous laughter from the propped open windows.

Flynn could hear murmurs within his head, and a small voice telling him that this was inappropriate, but the rest of his mind went along with the dance.

Yuri snickered as well, but in a confused sort of way. "What's gotten into you?"

"I'm happy and sad, laughing and crying with no idea why!" The blonde shouted, still twirling in the dance. He could feel the warm breeze through his short spikes and the hot sun on his tan skin. "Everything's been different since I woke up. I've been feeling things anew, and I'm seeing the world through different eyes."

He didn't mind telling his friend that the eyes he was viewing from were now covered in mud and blood. His new vision was tainted with reality, and there was no way to ignore it anymore.

"Sounds interesting enough?" The swordsman tried. He pulled them to a stop and propped a hand on one hip, "you sure you didn't hit your head when you fainted? I don't know if I trust Sodia on her recount of the incident-"

Flynn cut the dark haired man off, "Sodia is a trustworthy source." He gave his friend a stern look, "and speaking of Sodia, where is she? I haven't seen her at all since I woke up."

"Flynn, there are a lot of people you haven't seen since you woke up... Take Rita for instance, or Raven, Judy or Karol."

A rush of wind left the blonde as he fought down the memories once again. When were they going to leave him alone? He was sick and tired of being threatened to the edge and back every time a wisp of smoke brought the memories home. It wasn't until he felt himself in a warm embrace that he noticed something was off.

"Flynn?" Yuri questioned.

It was even stranger when his friend continued talking,

"What about Karol? He's off doing guild missions... what's gotten into you?"

Arms wrapped around him ever so gently, the blonde noticed he was in a hug with his friend.

Flynn's white shirt was tight against his arms as they were wrapped around the dark haired man's torso. Hot tears ran down the captain's face and he kept muttered Karol's name.

Straightening himself, he dried his eyes a bit. "I'm sorry, I'm doing that a lot to you today, aren't I?"

"Doing what?"

"Crying in front of you. I know it makes you feel awkward."

"More than you can imagine."

"What's that mean?" Flynn asked.

"What's what mean? All I said is you crying makes me feel awkward."

"No," the blonde pointed out, "I said that, you added more by implying-"

"Ah-ha, so you admit I was implying, and anything you're reading in this conversation is a work of your imagination." Yuri put on his usual face, and cocked an eyebrow to his friend.

The blonde's temper flared a bit, but he let it out in a hiss of air. "Yuri, you never tell me anything. You always make me guess when it comes to your personal life."

"It's more fun that way. Besides, you never tell me anything, either."

Flynn could hear the fun in the dark haired man's voice, but he could have sworn he heard a sense of knowing in it. It was almost like the swordsman knew the nature of what Flynn was hiding, but didn't say anything out loud.

But the tone remained light hearted, and when Yuri smiled, the blonde found himself wondering if he'd just imagined it in the first place. "Well," he commented after a couple moments of comfortable silence between them, "I'm going to go find Sodia."

The captain turned when Yuri chuckled, "and after you find that stick in the ass, you're going to go after Estelle again, right?"

Flynn blushed wildly, but tried to hide it behind a cough, "Y-Yuri, I've told you it's nothing like that!"

"Yeah, yeah, you've told me... but you also don't tell me anything."

And there it was again, the same knowing voice. The tone the screamed 'I know what you're hiding' but it was slight, only a hint in it in the dark haired man's otherwise sarcastic comment. And Flynn found himself wondering if he'd even heard it at all.

Yuri watched his blonde headed friend go.

The brightly colored spikes bobbed up and down, and the slightest breeze ruffled the captain's clothing.

These things didn't go unnoticed by the swordsman simply because of the state Flynn had been in for the last couple of days. The dark haired man found himself thinking back to the moment he'd heard Flynn had fainted in the basement.

A moment of terror had constricted his chest, but he hadn't let it show. He never let it show.

Three days he watched his friend day in and day out, as he just lay on the bed, eyes closed.

The doctors of Aspio had been called in, along with Rita, to try and figure out a reason for the development, but no conclusion was reached. The doctors had begun worrying about the captain's health. Him being in a state of immobilization, he couldn't eat or drink, and was become malnourished... there was nothing the experts could do.

Estelle would often join Yuri, even with other pressing matters at hand, and they'd sit together and worry.

It was about all they could do. Healing artes had no effect, and neither did recover spells. Anything used seemed to bubble around him and simply dissipate. Poof, right into midair, a common day magic trick.

It had pained Yuri to watch his best friend in such a distressing state, but what stressed him more now was Flynn's current state. Unstable and random, nothing like the Flynn Scifo the dark haired man was use to.

Something was off, that much was certain, but he doubted he would find out through his friend.

Flynn carried the same nasty habit the swordsman did, not saying when things were taxing the most.

The swordsman scoffed, and turned his attention to the hallway. He halfway wondered if he should go get a first hand account from the orange haired knight, even if she did hold a hate for him in her heart. She'd probably be willing to share if it came to Flynn's safety.

He was about to seek her out, intent on taking his time meandering through the castle, when the sound of a door opening in close proximity made him jump.

Estelle marched out of her room, her signature pink and white dress adorning her body. Her hair was a bit longer than he remembered, and she seemed a bit more tired, even with the rejuvenating shower Flynn had talked about.

He supposed that was what happened when a friend got sick. Dropping everything else came first.

"Hey Estelle," he spoke.

He saw her eyes light up, "Yuri! Have you seen Flynn? He's up and walking now!" She chimed. "He just dropped by my room a few minutes ago." The dark haired man noticed she failed to mention the embarrassing event that had taken place between her and the captain. He didn't pry though, it was no fun prying the girl who'd withdraw into an embarrassed shell.

"Yeah, I met up with Flynn a couple of minutes ago too. He said he had something to do, so I let him run off." He gave a dismissive wave, as if pushing the subject along, "and how are you? Feeling better?"

"A bit." She admitted, "It was nice to sleep. Thanks for making me Yuri." She smiled, and Yuri found it kind of cute,

"It's okay. I was about to pry you away from Flynn somehow. At least you gave in the non-violent way."

She gave a laugh, "well, I was tired. How about you Yuri, did you get any sleep?"

The dark haired man tilted his head to one side, "not yet. I do plan on it though."

"When?" She planted her fists on her hips and gave her usual pout, "it's not good. You've been up for three or four days straight, you must be so tired!"

It was Yuri's turn to laugh, "I'll be fine. I'm going to check on a few things, and then I'll head to bed, I promise."

It almost seemed like the princess was going to continue pouting, so the swordsman put his hand on her slim shoulder, "Listen Estelle, I'll be fine. Have you ever seen anything take down the great Yuri Lowell?" The pink haired female's face didn't change from the sisterly look of concern, and Yuri sighed inwardly, "Alright, I'll head to the lower quarter now."

Her face lightened, but held a slight look of suspicion. "Do you promise?"

"Promise."

"Swear?"

"Promise and swear."

"You mean it?"

"Jeez Estelle, I mean it, I really do, and I swear and promise to the life in me." He grinned as Estelle pursed her lips in anger, but the dark haired man knew it was above the princess to be really upset. "I promise."

Raising his right hand and crossing his heart with his left, he did a mock salute.

The giggle from the princess was all he needed, "Just be careful, alright?"

Yuri knew her concern for others was well intended, but it was a bit stressing, "I will."

"And get yourself some sleep. No gallivanting around... straight to your room."

A grin spread across the dark haired man's face at Estelle's use of motherly words, "alright."

She looked him up and down a couple of times, as if she'd be able to determine his honestly by his body language. When she gave a satisfied nod, Yuri knew he was in the clear.

Watching the princess bob down the hall, Yuri couldn't help but let his mind travel back to his earlier thoughts.

It wasn't like him to trap himself in his mind. He wasn't one to moan and cry over the problems he'd run into over life, but this was sticking to him, something he'd always inwardly feared. He didn't want something to consume him like so many others he'd known over his years. Watching people of the lower quarter fall into depression and sorrow had made him swear to himself that he'd never allow himself to wallow in the angst of life for more than a couple of days.

Shaking his head, he began walking in the other direction.

Flynn was headed towards Sodia, so Yuri would continue taking his time. There was no rush, nothing to worry about, because time was on his side. With a swift kick of the tile, the swordsman headed towards the first arch he came to, making a quick turn towards the entrance.

"Thank you Sodia," Flynn commented as he bowed a bit.

His lieutenant gave a swift nod, but still looked unsure, "are you sure you're okay captain? You look strained."

Flynn shook it off, "Yes, I'm fine. Thank you again for telling me what happened."

She nodded again, still looking hesitant, but she didn't say anything.

For that, the blonde was grateful. She'd asked so many questions over the course of their conversation that he's had many panic attacks. Each time she'd ask why they happened though, he was unable to tell her. It wasn't that he didn't trust his lieutenant; it was just that he felt the same for her as he did for Yuri. It was the fact that the entire story had so many unbelievable points that he didn't see the necessity to bother someone with it.

Quickly, he left Sodia's small apartment that sat in the middle of the commoner's quarter. He closed the door in a hurry, before she could ask any more questions. It felt a bit rude, but frankly, the blonde was drained, and figured he needed sleep before anything else happened.

He strolled down the steps of the building, reaching the ground in a matter of seconds. He then twisted his head from left to right, making sure he didn't jump out in front of anyone, and then continued his journey towards the castle. He was about halfway down the street when a voice startled him,

"How was the visit?"

Flynn spun quickly at the voice, wishing he had his sword, but once his eyes met the person's, he dropped his guard.

"Yuri, what are you doing here?"

"Estelle told me to get some sleep," he sighed, "but she was interested to see you again."

"What do you mean by that?" the blonde asked defensively.

"You know Estelle," Yuri spoke, a smirk set on his face, "she told me all about what happened."

"She wouldn't," the captain commented.

"You know Estelle, she's a romantic at heart… when she saw me, she couldn't help herself."

"Yuri! It wasn't that bad! All she did was tackle me when I walked into the room!"

"She made it sound much worse than that…"

"She just lost her towel, it wasn't like we were making out or anything!"

"Lost her towel huh? Thanks for the information."

Flynn started to talk, but refrained. He caught on to what Yuri was doing, but sadly, too late, "Nicely played, Lowell."

"Nice expression, Scifo." Yuri smirked a bit, then his face returned to a calmer state, "that's the Flynn I know."

At first, the captain was unsure of what his friend was talking about, but then it hit him. "Yuri, I haven't changed that much… I know I'm not completely like myself, but-"

Yuri cut him off, but not in a violent way, "you're not like yourself at all."

Flynn felt a small emotional stab, but threw it off.

"Flynn, whatever happened to you, it's changed you. I don't know how to fix it, but you're going to have to fix it yourself somehow. It's going to end up hurting a lot of people other than you…"

The blonde knew that Yuri was referencing himself in that statement, but it didn't really matter, "I know that," he commented. "It's just going to take a little bit of time for things to be accomplished."

Yuri gave the blonde a hard stare and Flynn couldn't return it.

"Listen, I can't begin to imagine what you went through, but the fact of the matter is, you can get through it. You always have, you always could."

"Please Yuri…" the captain tried, but was cut off again,

"Flynn, if you're not going to take charge, who is?"

The question cut the blonde deep and the instant feeling of knowing Yuri was right washed him over. The reality was, he didn't want to accept it. He didn't feel ready to take hold of what had happened had deal with it. He wanted to forget it had ever happened and move on with life. Everything in his mind ran in circles, wanting to ignore what was going on, deny it, run away from everything… and let it happen again.

That was the thought that stopped the blonde cold.

Whatever he'd just seen, it was going to happen again.

Six years in the future, Scarlet was going to be finishing his plan to end humanity, and it would be all Flynn's fault.

He shuddered to think that, but it rang true.

"You're right."

The statement seemed to take Yuri off guard, "What?"

"You're right. What I went through… I can't just ignore it now. I have to fight it till the end."

Yuri gave his friend a confused look, but the blonde couldn't return it. He still held fear of looking into the stone gray eyes he knew so well. The eyes matched so many different expressions. It matched all of the ones Yuri showed. His sarcastic faces, his calm expressions and even his determined stare all fit under the huge umbrella his eyes had. They even matched the venomous expressions of Scarlet…

Flynn shuddered visibly, which caused a reaction from his friend,

"Hey Flynn, you okay?"

Thoughts raced inside the blonde's mind, and he had a hard time sorting them out. He tried to keep hold of the good ones, but the muddy blood red world consumed even the brightest of pictures. All he could see was Scarelt's face and the bright blue blastia flashing in his chest.

"Take off your shirt." Flynn said.

Yuri was caught off guard, "What?"

"Take off your shirt."

"In public?"

Flynn shoved Yuri back a bit, so they blended in with the shadows of the building behind them. People passed by on the street, some giving them odd looks, but the rest passing unfazed. The blonde wondered if the people considered it normal for two men to dashing into the shadows after the off handed remark about removing articles of clothing, but he ignored the thought. Instead, he ripped the rest of Yuri's undone shirt open, and worked his hand past the left flap of the dark haired man's shirt, getting a protest as a response.

He brushed the shirt back, seeing nothing but bare skin.

Instant relief flooded the blonde's veins, and he collapsed to the ground.

Yuri seemed obviously surprised, "Flynn… what the hell?"

Instead of an answer though, the swordsman got more crying from his friend. He squatted down awkwardly, patting the blonde on the back.

Sobs racked the captain's body as the pains of the past came out via tears. The hot stream coursed down his face and landed into small puddles on the ground, and for a moment, seeing the water made him cry harder.

Relief washed through him as well as dread.

Yuri wasn't Scarlet, he had to tell himself that. As of now, there was nothing wrong with the world, meaning everything could be fixed.

A part of him though, just wanted to die.

Scarlet was suppose to take over soon, meaning that Flynn had to die shortly after. He was suppose to be the first casualty of war, and for some reason, he wanted to resist fighting back. Everything would make Yuri happy then, even though he'd be betrayed…

"Flynn?"

The blonde jolted upright at the voice of his friend, promptly hitting his forehead against his friends chin.

Both of them let out a howl of pain in unison and sunk to the ground. Cross-legged and gripping their respective wounds, both men were quiet for a moment.

The wind blew carelessly, and the birds chirped their happy melody as they ignored the scene below. The floating sound of children laughing finally reached Flynn's ears, and he held back more tears.

So if he gave up, it would be giving everything else up. No more birds, no more wind, no more children; just constant mind numbing rain and the roar of thunder. There wouldn't be anything left of the peaceful world the blonde knew, it'd all change to the mud riddled world Scarlet controlled.

Eventually, it would mean the death of Estellise, Karol, Elizabeth Mae…

The question suddenly hit him.

She was his and Estellise's child, but when did they do-

"God damn it Flynn, watch where that blonde head of yours goes!" Yuri rubbed his chin a bit then settled his eyes on the captain.

He perked up, looking at his friends stone gray eyes for the first real time since he'd come back from the awful nightmare. The expression the dark haired man wore was nothing like Scarlet would wear, and in the back of the captain's mind; he felt a weight slowly begin to lift.

"I'm sorry." He spoke simply; rubbing his forehead in absent minded pain. He didn't really mind the real pain because it was much better than the emotional pain he'd come to expect.

Yuri didn't respond, so the blonde picked up the conversation from where it left off,

"I can't leave things where they are now, no matter how much I want to give in."

The swordsman still didn't respond, so the explanation continued,

"I wanted to know why I'd gone through what I did, and I expected all of the answers to fall in my lap. When nothing came immediately, I thought I'd gone through all of that because of some person's sick joke."

Using his crystal blue eyes, he looked up at his friend. Yuri sat quietly, his expression showing he was absorbed in what was being explained to him.

That was the swordsman's way. He always absorbed knowledge like a sponge, and he had a knack for putting pieces together. The way he solved problems astounded the blonde, even though they'd known each other since childhood.

The look in his best friend's eyes illustrated the very thing the blonde thought about. His eyes seemed to be calculating something, as if putting pieces of a jig saw puzzle together.

"I really can't explain what I went through those days Yuri, but…" Flynn trailed off, not sure what else to say. He couldn't really talk about what he was experiencing without actually explaining his dream-like state. It wouldn't make sense, and it would probably end up leaving the dark haired man up all night problem solving.

Yuri had never been one to sleep on a problem. He had to get things figured out and sorted before he slept a wink, especially on important decisions or interesting news.

"Part of you doesn't want to fight what you saw then, huh?" Yuri commented almost silently.

The blonde gazed at his friend from behind his ruffled bangs, "something like that."

The dark haired man seemed to ponder the thought, "but you know it's wrong?"

"Yes, it would be wrong to ignore the warning it sent."

"So what was with the dramatic inner debate? If it's as straight forward as that, I don't see where the problem is."

"You wouldn't," the captain commented with a sigh.

"Well, if you saw something here, right now, that you couldn't tolerate, would you fix it?"

"Well, it would depend on what I saw. I certainly couldn't fix a leaky roof in a matter of seconds."

"Sure you could," the swordsman commented, "but that's not what I'm talking about. What if you saw two older kids picking on a younger kid?"

"Well of course I'd stop that!" Flynn spoke, exasperated. "Why wouldn't I? It would be wrong for that child to be bullied by older kids for any reason."

Yuri smirked his knowing smirk, "exactly. You made that decision without even knowing the context of the story, yet you're hesitating on something you know the full details of? It's clearly something that hurts other people, right?"

The blonde waited a moment to respond, "Well, yes."

"Then what's the problem? Why not jump in and fix it?"

"You see…" again, the captain found himself facing several problems. He couldn't tell Yuri the entire story and he couldn't really explain his hesitance. He was scared of what standing up might do. He was nervous that if he did something dramatic, it would end things everywhere.

The best approach could be a subtle one. Not making too many waves, not drawing to much attention and then fixing the problem slowly from within. He wasn't completely sure on the timeframe of Yuri's change, and he didn't know what events led up to it, but he knew he needed to solve the problem somehow.

"I… I'm scared," Flynn finished lamely.

Yuri laughed, "The great Flynn Scifo, scared? What's there to be scared of?"

"Well, it's so up in the air," the blonde said, trying to defend himself, "I don't know when it's suppose to happen or even if it is going to happen-"

He was cut off, "that's because it's the future, Flynn."

The captain gave his friend an odd look, which was returned.

"What?" the dark haired man asked.

"The future? I know that, I'm trying to tell you I can't predict the future."

"Exactly."

It wasn't clicking in his mind, but he knew his friend was on to something.

"Whatever," he said instead of pursuing his wonders. He stood quickly, brushing himself off and giving another rub to his sore head. First a doorknob and then his best friends head, it was almost like something was trying to knock some sense into him.

He threw a look down to his friend, who still seemed to be pondering.

"Come on, I'll walk you home."

Yuri looked up at his friend and stood, "thanks."

The two just stood there then, an awkward silence filling the void. Flynn shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot.

"Yuri, just promise me something."

The swordsman looked at his friend, "sure…"

"Just don't… don't do anything stupid."

"Stupid? Like all of the other stuff I do?"

"Maybe not stupid… reckless."

"You're telling me to cease being reckless?" The dark haired man threw up his eyebrows in mockery.

"Alright, reckless isn't the right word either, but I mean it, Yuri… don't do anything that you wouldn't do now." Flynn clenched his fists together, feeling his nails biting into his flesh. He couldn't hold his gaze with his friend, so he toss his eyes to the ground.

The small puddles of tears were still settled in the dirt, floating above it like the clouds from the earth.

The clouds were lucky, the blonde found himself thinking, they don't have to deal with everything normal earth dwellers did. He absently wished he was a cloud. Then he could float away from the problem.

It was so unlike him, the thoughts of leaving all of the problems behind, that the blonde kind of shocked himself with such an abstract thought. He wanted to leave so badly because of a dream? He scoffed at himself. It was pretty pathetic how much he'd fallen in a few short days.

He shocked himself more by speaking out loud, "you were a tyrant Yuri. You killed Estellise and Karol… you didn't take any mercy on the people you enslaved and you were so empty."

The blonde shuddered inwardly at the thought. Scarlet had been so drained of anything worthy of mention. His skin, his eyes, his expression, and his voice… anything of mention had melted away in the rain. Flynn didn't want to see Yuri like that again, even if the blonde was suppose to die in the bloody uprising. Even if he eventually became a cloud…

It was silent for a moment, and the blonde almost considered the idea that he'd thought what he's spoken when his friend spoke up,

"I wouldn't become like that."

The captain jumped a bit, then looked into the swordsman's eyes. They were clear now, like he'd come to some sort of understanding.

He'd solved the problem.

"Lots of crap happens Flynn, and when life rains, it pours."

Flynn winced at the reference to the weather,

"But sometimes," Yuri continued, "It doesn't matter how much crap is thrown your way. Sometimes, you've got to fight through all of it, even if it's for one solitary purpose."

Flynn recalled his solitary purpose.

He'd wanted to go home. He constantly thought about the comforts of home, and it'd pulled him through most of his ordeal. And when home didn't work, Flynn focused on helping Estellise and Elizabeth mae so that they could live on in a world that wasn't ruled by Scarlet.

"Flynn, sometimes you're the only person who can pull yourself up and do what's right." The dark haired man looked his friend straight in the eyes, "whatever you're fighting, you've got to fight it head on. No sneaking around, no under the table stuff, you've got to come right out and solve whatever you're facing, even if crap's headed your way."

Despite the slightly vulgar language his friend constantly used, the blonde found himself understanding. Whoever had given him that dream, whatever had bewitched the floating rock in the basement to send him to a place he'd rather not have seen, they were telling him something. Something bad was going to happen soon, and it had to be solved up front. He couldn't stay flush with his rank and still expect to solve the world's problems.

"For some reason, that makes sense." Flynn commented. He felt wet stings run down his cheeks and he half laughed, half sobbed as he noticed what he was doing. He wiped at the tears, trying to stop another ridiculous emotional drama from starting again.

"It makes sense because I'm right."

Flynn wasn't entirely sure if that applied to everything, but he wasn't about to try speaking again.

He could feel the lump in his throat grow as he tried to hold back the tears, and he sniffed just a bit as more thoughts entered into his head.

He needed to start the fight. It was an uphill battle, and whatever was going to happen, he needed to be ready for it. He had to be the first domino to fall otherwise Scarlet would win in the end.

A small thought nagged at his mind. He recalled just a bit earlier, when Yuri had been talking about the future. He'd said 'Exactly' to the comment of 'the future being unpredictable'… just before it finally clicked in his head, Yuri said,

"Who knows what's going to happen, right? We can only guess at the future, but doing so causes us to deny what's going on now. We have to live in the moment Flynn, and that means putting all of your cards on the table."

Finally it was making sense. The statement about the future being random was true. Flynn couldn't say for certain that what he'd seen was going to happen. If he became proactive now, he could avert something that would change the course of history forever.

"Besides," Yuri stated, "the futures unpredictable, right?" He threw a glance to his friend, as if referencing the conversation they'd had only moments ago.

The blonde felt more tears sting his eyes, but they suddenly became easier to hold down. The water wasn't painful anymore; it seemed almost calming as the last of it trickled down his cheeks. He could feel the wind blowing through his mind, brushing out the pain in the memories and only leaving the bare bones. He had what he needed to start his attack. He didn't need anything else, and for some reason, that didn't bother him.

Usually, he needed lot of things to be prepared for an uphill battle, but he felt confidant, that if he stood and fought for as long as he lived, he wouldn't need the fancy equipment he'd always adorned himself with.

He had his strength and his undying memories of the way things were. There wasn't any turning back now, and even though the memories still haunted him at every nervous turn, he wouldn't let them continue to bother him the way they had.

Besides, the future was unpredictable, and no flashy memory was going to change that.

It'd been a glance into what the future could hold, and whatever had given him the vision wanted him to pay attention to the details so it couldn't happen in real life.

Flynn gave a nod, feeling his heart lighten just a bit. He had an emotional battle ahead of him, but that wasn't important right now. What was, was finally making sense of the puzzle he'd been given, and doing something about it.

With a smile, the blonde responded, "right."

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End

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A/N: And that's the end! There are some opened ended questions, but that's the future, right?

I want to thank everyone who read this story and a special thank you goes out to those who reviewed. It was all of you who kept me motivated to continue this story, and ultimately, finish it. Even if no one gets this far (I mean, seriously, it's been about forever since I actually last updated), I'm glad that the entire story is up here for all to read. :) It's pretty sad, finally finishing this story, but I'm extremely thankful to everyone for their continued support.

Thanks again for making my first posting an excellent one!
Orangepotato