Author's Note: I AM SO SORRY FOR MY DELAY. SO VERY SORRY. *cries* I know that excuses and apologies won't help, so I won't bother, but I really am very sorry to keep you all waiting so long. Every time I would get a new notification that someone added this to their story alert, I would feel so guilty! (This is why I should only write one-shots.)
But anyway. I hope you are all as excited as I am because Red and Black is ALMOST FINISHED! Well, it is finished. But presumably you guys haven't read it yet. *grin* I hope you all like it, and that the [long and unfair] wait was worth it!
A Heart Full of Love
"Jacuzzi, I just had an idea," Nice said, her face lighting up as she smiled. She motioned him over and whispered the new plan.
"What if, instead of trying to throw them off without exploding, we just ship them back to New York?"
Jacuzzi looked at her blankly.
Nice continued, "We could re-label them, and once we get to Sacramento, we could transfer them to a trans-continental going to the East Coast!"
"Oh," Jacuzzi said, realization dawning. "W-would that work?" he asked, brow furrowing. "Would it be enough to get them away from the R-rail Tracer?"
Nice's smile faded away. "It's better than anything we've thought of so far, so I think it's worth the risk."
Jacuzzi nodded. "All right, Nice. So we need to re-label all of these for the warehouse."
Suddenly Nice realized a flaw in her plan. "Re-label them with what?" she muttered, looking around the baggage car for any sort of inspiration.
Finally, an idea proffered itself up in Nice's mind.
She turned to Isaac and Miria, grinning. "You two are thieves, right?"
Isaac and Miria exchanged a look, then simultaneously made a thumbs-up. "You bet!"
"Okay, here's what I want you to do..."
Isaac and Miria strolled through the dining car, gazing around surreptitiously. Well, as surreptitiously as they can get.
"Hey, over there," Miria whispered far too loudly to be discreet. "He looks like he's writing a letter!"
Isaac nodded, rubbing his chin. "He does..."
Nodding at Miria, Isaac not-so-smoothly glided over to where a wealthy-looking man in a top hat sat hunched over a loosely-bound sheaf of paper.
"Hello, good sir!" Isaac grinned, tipping his own hat.
The man blinked up at him confusedly.
"Hello," he said, both tiredly and warily. "How can I help you?"
"Ah, see, I was wondering," Isaac started, but was interrupted by a scream from Miria, on the other side of the cabin.
"Uwaaah~!" she cried dramatically. "Th-there's a man coming this way with guns!" she yelled, terror written on her face.
Several people started frantically chattering and moving about, including the man with the top hat, and Isaac took the opportunity to sneak the man's parchment and fountain pen away from him. After obtaining the objects, he winked at Miria, and made his way through the panicked crowd of people towards her. Together, they slipped through the door, heading back to the baggage cars.
They left behind a shocked crowd, as is usually the case.
Luck sighed as Firo followed him out into the corridor. He didn't want to have to explain it like this.
Firo watched Luck carefully. He could tell his friend was upset, and he assumed it was because of whatever Vino had done, but exactly what that was he wasn't sure.
"Firo," Luck started resignedly. "There's something we need to talk about."
Firo's brow furrowed. "What did Vino lie about, Luck?" he asked, ignoring Luck's statement.
Luck sighed and leaned against the wall of the hallway. "We're not here because he needs help."
"Wha-" Firo started to ask, but Luck held up a hand to stop him.
"There's no one in Sacramento we need to convince. He lied about needing our help." Luck's eyes had drifted down to stare at the floor, but now he lifted them to meet Firo's gaze.
Firo was staring at him, confusion still etched on his face. "Why, Luck? Why did he lie?"
Luck sighed and stepped away, pacing down to the end of the hall, and putting his hands in his pockets.
"Vino… thought it would be fun… to set up a scenario. In which…" Here Luck faltered, unsure how to proceed.
Firo's face was more wary and open now. "In which what, Luck?" he said quietly.
Luck kept his face angled away from Firo as he felt a hot blush spreading on his cheeks. "In which you and I were placed in a romantic environment, in order to spark feelings of mutual amorousness." Luck closed his eyes and waited for Firo to say something.
When Firo finally did voice his thoughts, his voice was still quiet, and he merely asked of Luck a simple question: "Did he succeed?"
Luck turned around slowly and looked at Firo. They'd known each other for years; since they were little kids. Luck couldn't remember when he first started feeling differently about Firo, only that he knew it wasn't acceptable. He'd been hiding his real feelings for so long, he refused to believe that this conversation was taking place.
Firo, on the other hand, had accepted his feelings for Luck, but knew that they could never be reciprocated. Well, that's what he'd told himself.
Both of them waited for the other to say something first, each cautious about taking the first step onto what they thought was very thin ice.
Luck sighed. "Firo..."
Firo tensed, sensing what was about to come next.
"Firo, I've loved you for longer than I can remember. And I didn't need Vino to show me that..."
Firo could feel his mouth open a little in surprise, but he couldn't do anything about it. Luck had... That hadn't been anything like he was expecting.
"I completely understand if you don't feel the same way," Luck was saying quietly. Firo had to exert exorbitant amounts of effort to pull himself back into the conversation. "It's comprehensively irrational, as well as impractical and improbable. Not to mention off-putting, which is why I'd kept it secret from you, though I realize that was wrong, as well as childish. I'm sorry, Firo."
"Luck," Firo started, but was unsure of how to proceed.
"I'm hopeful that this won't tar our friendship, though I'd understand if it did," Luck added as an afterthought.
Firo stared at him as if he'd grown three heads.
Luck sighed, and smiled tightly. "It's all right, Firo. You can tell me the truth."
Firo smiled. "You're so stupid, sometimes," he said affectionately.
Luck stared at him in surprise. "In what way?"
"Not intellectually, of course," Firo backtracked hastily. "In the emotional sense." His expression softened again. "Here we are, friends for years, both in love with the other, but neither saying anything because we're too scared of what the other thinks." Suddenly realizing he was babbling, Firo stopped. He took a deep breath, and finally said, "Luck, I love you too."
Luck's lips twitched into a smile, and he hesitated before holding out his hand cautiously. Firo blinked at it, then took Luck's hand, a radiant smile lighting up his face.
Firo opened his mouth to say something, but before he had a chance, they were interrupted by a loud crash coming from the compartment they'd exited, followed by raucous laughter.
Raising an eyebrow, Luck smiled, his face looking more relaxed than it had in months. "Come on. I think Vino might be needing some assistance."
Isaac and Miria entered, brandishing the pen and paper wildly.
Nice grinned. "I knew you would do it!"
Even Jacuzzi managed a smile.
"Okay, now we just have to address them all back to the warehouse. We can manage that." Nice looked genuinely relieved. She took a piece of paper and began writing out the address with the fountain pen. Jacuzzi took the finished paper, and fit it on top of the current address on the box.
Nice smiled. "Great."
They continued on in this way until all the boxes had the address of their original starting point. Jacuzzi and Nice stood back and looked at them.
"What now?" Jacuzzi asked nervously.
"Now we wait," Nice sighed. "We wait for the train to arrive."
Both Firo and Luck stared for a moment upon entering the compartment, shocked. Then, simultaneously, each lunged for one of the occupants.
Luck jumped over one of the toppled armchairs gracefully to grab Ladd's arms and pin them behind him, grabbing the gun from his hand as an extra precaution.
Firo pushed Vino out of the way, also twisting his arms behind him and holding them by the wrists.
Despite behind held back, they continued shouting profanities at each other, Ladd with an insane grin on his face, and Vino with a creased brow and slight frown.
Luck held back a sigh, and contemplated shooting a bullet through the window to get their attention. He never had to make the decision, though, because Firo had already taken control, to Luck's surprise.
"Hey, hey!" Firo yelled, annoyance showing through in his voice. He turned, twisting Vino's wrists upward so sharply that even the sociopath had to gasp.
He stood in the middle of the compartment with Vino glaring at him over his shoulder. The grin had slipped from Ladd's face, annoyed that his fun was being interrupted.
"You guys can either settle this yourselves without killing each other, or me and Luck can settle it for you." Firo lifted an eyebrow. "What do you say?"
Vino scowled and twisted out of Firo's grasp.
"Don't treat me like a kid, Firo," he stated in a low voice. "Those days are long gone." Turning briskly, he stalked out of the compartment without another word.
Luck let out a chuckle and released his grasp on Ladd. However, when Ladd made to go after Vino, Firo stepped in front of the door, blocking his way.
Ladd narrowed his eyes, and started reaching for his gun, but Luck had taken it from him long ago.
"Hey-" Ladd started menacingly, advancing towards Luck.
Luck levelled the gun evenly at his heart. "Listen."
Ladd shut his mouth, contenting himself with glaring daggers at Luck.
"Despite the fact you two can't stand each other, you will not go after Vino."
Ladd started to protest, but Luck clicked the trigger ominously.
"And should you decide to ignore my warning, know that you will be next." Luck held Ladd's gaze, unflinching. Lowering his voice, he murmured, "Is that understood? If not, I can assure you I will do a lot worse than break your arm."
Ladd narrowed his eyes. "You never broke-"
Within a flash, Luck had Ladd's arm behind his back again, pulling it up to a dangerous angle.
Hissing uncomfortably, Ladd shouted, "FINE! I won't kill that idiotic coward."
Luck smirked to himself, letting go of Ladd's arm. "I think I'll keep your gun in my possession. Just as a memento." He smiled.
Ladd glared at them once more before stomping out of the compartment to return to his own, with a perfectly calm Lua waiting inside in a disappointingly white dress.
Luck and Firo exchanged a look, and Firo grinned.
Suddenly thinking of something, Firo asked, "Luck? They're going to try to kill each other again, aren't they?"
Luck smiled. "Most definitely."
Firo frowned, unhappy with that idea.
Smiling, Luck took Firo's hand. "It's okay. We'll be there to make sure Vino doesn't do anything too stupid. Just like always."
Firo only stared at Luck's hand intertwined in his.
Luck smiled softly and pulled Firo into a hug. Firo buried his head into Luck's shoulders, breathing in his familiar scent.
Luck pulled away, smiling affectionately. "You and me."
Firo smiled as well, and pulled him into a hug again. "Like always," he murmured.
A/N: I want to thank everyone who has read this and enjoyed it (and even if you didn't enjoy it), and added it to their favourites and/or Story Alert. There's so many of you guys, but each one of you makes me happy, because I can't actually believe that you like it! THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH AND I LOVE YOU ALL. That is all.
I lied. That is not all. I'm going to tell you a secret. I don't like this ending. Why? It leaves some things unresolved... *hint hint* I'm bad at being subtle. I might write an epilogue (and by might, I mean probably), but I don't want to get anyone's hopes up in case it ends up being added a bajillion weeks from now. But just know that that's an option! *smiles*
Thank you, again, and I hope you enjoyed Red and Black~!