~*Perfect Partner*~

You belong with me. There will never be anyone for me but you.

~*X*~

There was a small grove of trees not far from the Otherworldly Gate. They were thin, scrawny things with pale, whitewashed trunks and leaves that were an unbelievable shade of green. They stood out like whispering specters against the deep black of the night, the crystal stars glimmering far away, distant and cold. Uncaring, even.

The moon was beginning to wane, though for now it still resembled a lost coin, sitting alone in a dark well.

The fire had been reduced to nothing but a pile of cinders, giving off just enough heat and light to reveal Colette's form beside it. She liked the warmth, and slept peacefully, her chest rising and falling to a slow and steady rhythm. Lloyd wasn't far away from her, so close that their hands brushed, snoring faintly. Genis and Raine were sprawled near one another also, though it seemed that the younger Sage had fallen asleep facing Presea, whom was curled up less than two feet away. Regal was just within the boundaries of the rest to not be considered on the outskirts, as was Zelos. It was Sheena who was on the very edge of their group, though she looked perfectly comfortable, almost blending into the shadows despite her gaudy clothes.

Tenebrae was dozing on a tree branch, the curled, hand-like tip of his tail draped beside him like an ebony flag. The four monsters that Emil had brought with him created a variety of ridged, furred, scaled, and feathered shapes that formed the corners of a protective square around the party. Their heavy breathing was oddly reassuring, despite how the bleakness of the evening should have been somewhat unnerving.

The air was still. The night was warm. The presence of deep, primordial magic heavily saturated every molecule present. Tomorrow, they would plunge into the Otherworldly Gate—into the Ginnungagap—and face Richter, Aqua, Alice, and Decus.

And then she would have to say good bye.

Marta bit her lip hard to keep back the tears, blinking firmly several times in a herculean effort to prevent a sob. She wouldn't wake up the others with her despair, no matter how much the idea of leaving Emil tore her up inside.

A soft breeze stirred her brown hair, capturing strands of it and drifting towards Emil. He was asleep on the other side of the fire, though his fingers twitched as if he was dreaming, eyes roving beneath closed lids.

There was really no need for her to be on guard duty. Though there were plenty of monsters in the Ginnungagap according to Tenebrae, nothing and no one actually lived outside of the Otherworldly Gate. She knew she couldn't. The air itself seemed to carry an electric tingle that made some foreign part of her blood sing—maybe it was the far distant elf in her.

She wouldn't be able to cast magic if she wasn't just a little bit elfin, right?

Marta was actually a bit hurt. Their final night together and Emil had deigned to sleep alone. She drew her legs to her chest and buried her face in her crossed arms, freezing when the shift of her shirt's fabric against the trunk behind her created a scratching sound.

No one even stirred, except for the Orion. It merely snuffled, opened its brilliant eyes, and then resumed its nap.

Blinking at the Light wolf fondly—she remembered the many times it had rushed bravely into battle for her and her friends—she stood up and went over to it, scratching it behind its large ears. It rumbled softly, butting her with its head and licking her hand once. Then it simply curled up, pale bushy tail over its nose, and went back to sleep.

Her alleged "guard duty" was completely unnecessary. Lloyd and the others knew no monsters dared to dwell around here long, and hadn't set up a routine tonight. However, she just…couldn't sleep. And the object of her thoughts was less than ten feet away.

Unable to resist any longer, Marta carefully and slowly stepped over Presea and went to sit beside her prince. She smiled sadly, watching how his blonde hair moved in the wind, enjoying every aspect of her beloved Emil.

Summon Spirit Ratatosk.

So what if he was a Summon Spirit? She didn't give a damn, never would. It took a lot to really get to her, and this was nowhere near it.

Slumping over, she lay on her stomach next to him, hands folded over each other, her chin resting there. Their Treant monster huffed long and slow, earning a similar response from Regal.

Emil. Oh, Emil. What should I do?

The breeze returned, causing her hair to brush his cheek. She stiffened and blushed a little as he lifted a hand and absently rubbed at his skin.

Then his green eyes opened and locked onto hers.

Marta didn't say anything, just gave him a long, gloomy look that she hoped conveyed all that she was feeling now. Sadness, anger, anticipation, fear…

Emil stared. Then he reached out and brushed away a tear she hadn't realized had begun to fall down her face. He mouthed her name, silently. "Marta."

A sudden fury roared up within her, feeling as powerful and savage as the wild energy that coursed through her whenever she performed her Mystic Arte. It took all of her strength then to keep her voice calm so she could respectfully address the Goddess of Healing, and now was no exception.

Why? Why did this have to happen? Why couldn't she and Emil just be happy together…? Things always had to get so complicated! For a few seconds, she let her temper swing wildly, allowing her mind to push the blame onto a variety of people—her father, Alice, Richter—even though her heart knew that this would have happened sooner or later. With or without them.

He was a Summon Spirit, a part of the world. She was just Marta Lualdi, a human with maybe the faintest tinge of elf. It would never have worked out…

Emil sat up quite unexpectedly, the motion causing only the faintest rustle. When he pulled her into his arms, still wiping away tears, that's when she finally noticed that she had been crying the whole time. Inaudibly.

Marta leaned into his chest and let all of her tears flow, not wanting to forget…to ever forget…the feeling of his body against hers, the warmth, the reassuring beat of his heart.

For a moment, she was back on that bridge in Altamira, when she had rushed at him and proclaimed she didn't want him to go.

She was hugging Ratatosk at that moment too. Not just Emil, but his red-eyed counterpart. They were both very dear to her.

Belatedly, it dawned upon her that she was being incredibly unfair. She was only making it worse for him by sobbing like this. She should put a brave face on like he was and wait for whatever the rising sun would bring.

Pulling back, she gazed deep into his emerald eyes and for the first time, saw a trace of Spirit there. Something unearthly and ancient. Powers she could only begin to imagine. But she saw grief too. It made the corners of his eyes crinkle slightly. Maybe he was fighting back tears of his own.

Marta repositioned herself after a second of thought, leaning so that the side of her face rested on his chest. He hugged her tighter, and she intertwined the fingers of one hand with his in a silent gesture of love.

His warm breath in her ear nearly caused her to shiver. He spoke so quietly that even Colette would have trouble hearing, despite the strength of her Angel senses. "I'm sorry, Marta."

"Shut up," she whispered, trying to sound cross. Her voice came out choked with tears instead. At the moment, she didn't care who heard her. "It's not your fault."

Still remembering what he had said—about her finding someone else one day—she wanted to laugh in scorn. There would never be anyone for her but Emil. All of those other boys that she thought she had "loved" were nameless shadows in her mind now.

No. She knew what true love was, and she had it with Emil.

So was Martel punishing her or something? By taking him away?

"I'm scared," Marta told him once uncounted seconds had come and gone. She was careful to keep her voice very low. However, not a single person at the campsite so much as twitched besides the monsters on the vestiges.

"Of what?" came the hushed response. Emil started running his fingers through her hair, and she sighed into his touch.

There were too many things for her to answer right away. Losing him, fighting Richter, facing Alice and Decus…what if something happened to her new friends? Colette, Genis, Raine, Regal, Zelos, Sheena, Lloyd...even the monsters. She prayed for the safety of the faithful monsters who had always stood, strong and proud, at their sides.

Tenebrae…dear Tenebrae…if something happened to his Lord Ratatosk, what would he do?

As the length of her silence increased, Emil kissed her very lightly on the head. "Don't worry. I'll protect you."

Marta smiled weakly at his often-said phrase. "You'll have to protect yourself too. You are me. If you're hurt…I'm hurt." She was certain he was blushing by now, but she didn't care. It was one of the reasons she so adored him. "Are you scared?"

A pause. "Terrified," he admitted.

"Courage is the magic that turns dreams into reality." Her grip tightened on his hand. "Just…don't be afraid, okay?"

"…Yeah…you, too."

They sat that way for a while, just enjoying each other's presence and gazing off at the star speckled sky. The heavens were painted the strangest color tonight—a tinge of blue-green on the far horizon. She had no idea if it was the magic of the Otherworldly Gate or something else entirely.

Eventually, Emil eased himself down onto his back, and Marta joined him. She snuggled again into his arms and he dipped his head down so that their noses brushed, and she was looking him in the eyes once more.

He said without a trace of a stutter in his voice, "I love you, Marta."

"I love you too, Emil."

And so what if people thought that they were too young to understand love? So what if he was a Summon Spirit? So what if tomorrow they would have to part—she bound for her father, and he for a lifetime of guarding the Door? Tonight it was just them, their own little world in a place that was a gateway to another.

They fell asleep in each others' arms.


Author's Note: An apology in advance if this sucks. It was written at around 3 AM at night and completed around 3:45, so it probably is loaded down with errors. Regardless, written because EmilxMarta seriously needs some more stories! Reviews are very much appreciated.