And here's the last chapter of Today! I'm quite sad to let this go, but I'm also super excited to get to work on the next drabble series! Don't expect it to come out for a while, though, as my family is leaving in a couple of hours to go on vacation for two weeks. (Yay, Disneyworld! And Star Wars Weekend!)
Okay, well, this is going back to the song-shuffle-thingie, but I didn't follow the rules this time. I wrote on past the ending of the song (really just hit replay) and I skipped past songs I couldn't think of any story ideas for. Anyways, some of these are nice and long, and I'll be skipping the commentary that I did for the last one, mainly because I feel like that would kind of ruin the chapter, you know?
Anyways, here's the last chapter of Today! I hope you enjoy!
The End of the Beginning
1. Little April Shower (The Music of Disney, Bambi)
Laughing, Deryn huddled with Alek beneath the bushes as shelter as rain continued to pound them. "Well, at least it's a little drier under here," she said with a small grin.
Alek let out a cough, and a sneeze. Wiping his nose, he shivered in the cold. "No it's not," he argued. "I'm as wet and uncomfortable as I was before."
"Oh come on," Deryn said, "you're just being a whiner."
"If I catch pneumonia-"
"Which you won't."
"Again, if I catch pneumonia-"
"Yes, yes, I'll be entirely at fault for not magically predicting the weather."
"…I will punch you," Alek threatened.
Deryn scoffed, "Aye, and I'll do so back. Come on-ack!" She spat out water has a huge drop hit her face, and grimaced as the wind began to whip harder through the trees and underbrush. "It's getting harder."
"I can see that."
A booming roll of thunder caused them both to jump, and as the storm picked up, the temperature dropped. Soon, Deryn was shivering as much as Alek had been before, and the Austrian prince was even worse for wear. "You get used to this stuff in Britain," Deryn mumbled. "I know down in London they get rain constantly, and throughout the whole isle weather sure isn't fair skies and sunshine."
Alek glared at her. "Are you trying to make me feel better? Because it's not working. Achoo!"
"Gezundheit." Alek lifted an eyebrow, and Deryn shrugged. "That's the word, isn't it?"
Before the Austrian could answer, another sneeze racked his frame. Deryn, without really thinking, grabbed him and pulled him towards her, wrapping her arms around his chest and doing her very best to warm him up with the only heat source she had. "This help?" she asked softly, and he nodded, snuggling a bit closer. Deryn tried to ignore it, and focused solely on helping Alek out.
Thunder crashed and lightning flashed above the two, and before long, to both of their surprise, the friends had fallen asleep.
…Drip. Drop. Drip. Drip. Drip. Dripdrop. Stirring, Deryn blinked her eyes open to blue skies and damp bushes. She glanced down at Alek, who sleeping with his head in her lap, and she blushed red to the roots of her hair. Gently, she pushed him off of her and, after making sure her face was back to normal, shook him awake. "Storm's over," she said in greeting as Alek blearily opened his eyes.
He asked, "Did we fall asleep?"
Deryn deigned this question with the response it deserved: an eyeroll.
"That was some storm, huh?" he said, changing the subject.
Smiling, Deryn's eyes trained on a rainbow in the distance, and she smirked as a thought occurred to her. "Not at all," she told Alek. "It was just a little April shower, I believe."
2. Wonderful (Wicked)
"Come now, Alek, just sign the paper. You'll be known as a hero to your country, the Clanker amidst Darwinists! A spy like no other!" Emperor Franz Joseph pressed the paper further, practically shoving it in Alek's face.
Still, the Austrian hesitated. "This whole time, I've been chased by Clankers. Why should I sign this?"
Sighing, Joseph leaned back in his chair. "You know, I never wanted this position. It was thrown upon me, but I've come to realize its value." Alek tilted his head, signaling Joseph to go on. "They call me wonderful, you know. I'm the leader. Everyone hangs on my words, and believe everything I say. Because of course I always tell the truth. I do my best as a liberator to the peoples of Austria-Hungary. Alek, please, I want you to be my heir."
"But why me? I was friends with a Darwinist, you know that as well as I do," Alek interrogated.
Fiddling with his hands, Joseph gave a wolfish smile. "Simple, dear Alek. The rehabilitated are the most celebrated. People will look to you even more, knowing you've 'been' a Darwinist, and still chose to return to the Clankers, despite even being, dare I say it, 'close', with one of them. And a commoner at that."
Alek stiffened. "Just because Dylan's a commoner doesn't mean-"
Joseph interrupted him, flapping a hand. "Oh thank heavens, your friend's a boy. I was afraid we might have another scandal on our hands. Like the one with your parents."
The boy's eyes narrowed. "My parents loved each other," he said coldly.
"So it may be, but your father made a mistake."
"He made no mistake."
"Of course he did. Sophie may have been a sweet girl, but she was a commoner. Become my heir and we can win this war. People will rally to your cause, I'll find you some brainless woman for you to breed well with, and we can cement our power. How does this sound to you?"
Alek's face was becoming mottled red with rage. "Some brainless-how dare you! You expect me to marry for the sole purposes of breeding, and not of love? You expect me to just waltz in and steal some girl's life because you wish it so?"
"Naturally. Females are insignificant."
"Since my time away from home, I've come to know quite a few 'insignificant females' who could kill you with only one second allotted."
"You're being unreasonable, Alek. United, we can be wonderful!"
Alek's eyes widened as the real reason behind Joseph's offer came to light in his mind. "I'm a threat, aren't I?" he asked softly, and Joseph gripped the arms of his chair hard, his knuckles turning white. "If I'm not allied with you, I'm against you." Alek kept his tone level and quiet. "And if the country is torn in two, they will likely rally more to my cause, and support my right as heir, and even emperor, over yours." Joseph blanched. Alek gave him the smile of a shark. "Well played, Grandfather. Well played. But not quite well enough." Glancing upwards, towards the window behind Joseph, he winked. "Don't you agree, Dylan?"
"Oh, barking spiders!" the middy exclaimed, poking his head inside the room. His arms and legs clung fiercely to the brick wall outside the room, and he gave Joseph a jaunty grin as the emperor stood up abruptly and whirled around.
"What-how-?" he spluttered, and Dylan rolled his eyes.
"Bit of an old coot, isn't he? Can I give him an ole one-two, toss him a couple a' shiners, the like, for his altogether annoyingness? I think he quite deserves it, don't you?" Dylan gave Alek a pleading look.
Alek huffed in laughter. "How is it that the guards didn't see you hanging outside the window?"
Stepping inside the room, Dylan shrugged. "No barking idea. Bunch of daft sods on guard, at least for now. Always knew dayshifts were phonies. It's the night guards that notice little details like strangers mid-high on walls outside their emperor's office."
"Ah, yes," Alek said sarcastically, nodding as if that cleared everything up. "Now, what do you suggest we do now?"
Dylan chortled. "Do? I say we grab His Hiney's paper thingie, fly out of here, start a revolution, and instate you as the officially ruler of Austria-Hungary, as approved by all Darwinist nations. Sound good?"
"I think so," Alek responded, and the two followed Dylan's plan exactly.
Emperor Franz Joseph could only stare in shock at the open door.
3. Witch Doctor (Alvin and the Chipmunks)
A/N: Don't judge me! xP
"What…are those?" Alek was, as could only be expected, incredibly confused.
"I…have no barking clue," Deryn replied, as much at a loss as he was. "Um, Dr. Barlow?"
"Yes?" Turning, the doctor faced the two befuddled young people. "Any questions?"
"Aye," Deryn said. "What purpose could singing chipmunks possible serve?" She looked away from Dr. Barlow and through the glass containment wall. Inside the glass was a stage, on which loud music blared and three tiny chipmunks sang a song about a 'witch doctor'.
"You can't help but look at them, correct?" Dr. Barlow questioned.
Deryn nodded. "True."
"They serve as a brilliant distraction. I doubt there's anyone that wouldn't stop and turn to look at three singing chipmunks that appear seemingly randomly."
"But," Alek began, "how is this all that effective in the war effort?"
Dr. Barlow smirked. "They're also rabid."
Alek and Deryn blanched. "Ah," they murmured, backing away slowly from the glass.
4. Sing (Glee Cast)
Dylan stood at Alek's side as he waited reluctantly outside the balcony. "You can do it," Dylan encouraged. "Go on."
Nervous, Alek still lingered back. "What if they don't like what I have to say? What if I mess up?"
"Don't be daft, Alek, you'll do brilliantly." Dylan gave him an encouraging grin.
Alek took a deep breath, attempting to calm himself. "You really think so?"
"They'll accept you as emperor, Alek. I promise. And if they don't, I'll slide down one of those big banners celebrating your return and knock the daylights out of all those in the crowd. Sound fair?" Dylan kept a straight, solemn face as he made his promise.
"Heh." Alek let out a huff of laughter at Dylan's absurd promise, starting to feel better with his friend's prompting. "Thanks for always being there. For being my friend."
Dylan rolled his eyes. "And thanks for being my barking famous ruler-of-a-country friend. Useful chaps, you know." He stuck his tongue out in mockery, and Alek stifled a laugh.
Steeling himself, he took a pace towards the balcony. Dylan put his hand on Alek's shoulder in encouragement. "Sing it out to the world, Alek. Tell them all that peace is just around the corner."
5. Lucky Star (Madonna)
Deryn slowly strapped the gun around herself, pulling the straps on tight and securing the holster to her body. Shouldering her jacket and checking to make sure her protective vest, this time against bullets, was in place, she took a deep breath in anticipation.
Her first battle. She couldn't really say she was excited.
Taking a step in the bulky gear was a bit daunting at first, but she began to walk around the tent and experiment, adjusting to the weight and adjusting her movement and strength exerted in turn. Fingering the gun strapped across her back, she jolted to attention as the flap to her tent was flung back, relaxing and letting the tension flow out of her as she realized it was Alek.
He looked almost sick to his stomach as he took in Deryn with her uniform on. His eyes pleading, he asked, "Must you?" Two simple words that conveyed his entire meaning.
Deryn winced, and began to check over her equipment again, as an excuse not to look him in the eyes. "Aye," she said simply, pulling a strap tighter.
Alek stepped towards her. "Please, Dylan, you don't have to. You're the youngest onboard the ship, I'm sure the captain would spare you, especially if he knew you weren't even sixteen yet."
Shooting Alek a dirty look, Deryn griped, "Hey, I told you that in confidence!"
"I haven't told anyone," Alek promised, "but I just might. You're too young to be out on the field!"
"What about Newkirk? He's only a year or so older?" Deryn's eyes bore into him as she focused her attention solely on him and away from her equipment.
Alek looked helpless under her gaze. He squirmed as he tried to answer question. "Yes, but, he's still older! He's sixteen! You're not!"
"Like a couple of bloody months make that much of a difference," Deryn grumbled.
Alek grabbed her shoulders, one hand on each, and forced her to look him dead on. She'd been trying to turn away the moment he touched her. "Do you want to get killed?" Alek exclaimed. "Do you want to go out there and kill others?"
Now it was Deryn's turn to squirm. "No," she admitted, "but it's for England. It's my duty, what I knew I was signing up to do when I asked to join the air force. It's as simple as that."
"Run away," he pleaded.
"That's treason," Deryn said, disgusted.
"But it means you'll be alive! It means you'll be safe! Please, Dylan, I-" Alek broke off. "Listen, you-you're my best friend, Dylan. I've already lost my parents. I don't want to lose you too." To Deryn's surprise, she noticed Alek's eyes glistened with tears. "Please," he murmured again.
Deryn looked away. "I…can't."
Alek's face hardened. "Then promise me you won't get yourself killed. Do you understand?" Deryn stayed silent. His voice got more forceful. "Do you understand?"
Sighing, she faced him, then nodded. She gave him a determined salute. "I promise," she said, and he nodded.
"Good. Now don't you dare break this promise." Alek stepped aside as Deryn pushed past him and out of the tent, onto the battlefield.
As she glanced behind her one last time, she noticed a bright star shining in the sky, almost directly above where Alek was watching her. She gave a small smile. Maybe the both of them were her lucky stars. She'd need all the luck she could get tonight.
6. Poor Unfortunate Souls (The Little Mermaid)
"Can you help him?" Alek demanded, holding Dylan's wounded body out to the doctor. "Please."
The doctor shrugged. "I'm busy enough as it is. Why should this boy be any different?"
"I'll pay you," Alek said, his face deadly serious.
The doctor seemed to contemplate the offer. "This is serious now. It's happened once or twice that someone couldn't pay the price." He grinned a bit wickedly. "Those poor, unfortunate souls."
Alek gulped, wishing that he and Dylan hadn't gotten so separated from the rest of the army. He'd been lucky to chance upon the doctor of this remote village, but the man was psychotic! "I can pay," Alek said, determined to get his friend fixed up and feeling better than ever. "What's your price?"
"Fifteen thousand francs," the doctor said coolly, and Alek's jaw dropped.
Quickly, Alek closed his mouth. "Very well then," he said, remembering the gold bars back at the hideout in Switzerland, and then his bank account. "I can have the money deposited to your bank account as you see fit."
Nodding in satisfaction, the doctor beckoned Alek and his friend inside, and motioned for Alek to lay Dylan upon the table. "Now leave me to my work," he commanded.
Finally, several hours later, the doctor emerged from the building. He'd forced Alek to stand outside, and now, he announced the news. "Your friend will live." Alek was overjoyed, though he noticed a strange gleam in the doctor's eyes. "What was your friend's name, again?"
Alek replied, "His name is Dylan."
"Ah," the doctor said, then led Alek to his car. "Let's go get the money deposited, shall we?" Alek chanced a glance back at the house. "Your friend will be quite fine. Now hop in."
As they rode off, Alek turned to the doctor. "Thank you," he said solemnly. "Dylan might have died if not for you."
The doctor brushed it off, not used to compliments. Overall, he wasn't a people person. There was a reason he chose to live in a house by the woods, where he chose to treat any wounded animals he could find. He simply had to make sure to charge people, to fund his own work. Though he was as picky as he seemed when it came to getting paid. Glancing at his customer, and gave Alek a sly grin. "I look forward to your payment," he began, "but if you don't pay me in money, I'll be forced to share a juicy little tidbit to all who care to hear."
Alek looked at him, confused. "What?" he asked.
The doctor smiled to himself. "You wouldn't understand," he said thinking of the 'boy' he'd just treated. For the sake of the 'boy', the doctor hoped Alek could pay. Elsewise, his friend might have a bit of an unfortunate reveal in his near future.
7. Candles (The Warblers, Glee)
Deryn glanced around her, unable to see a thing in the darkness. Sitting on her bed, she wondered why the captain had ordered a black out of the ship, but trusted that he knew what he was doing. Likely, an enemy ship was passing close by, and Captain Hobbes wanted to avoid confrontation.
Shivering, she moved her head, wishing she could see. It was strange, not having eyesight. So this was what it must be like for blind people. As a thought hit her, she stood up, feeling her way recklessly towards her door and out into the hallways of the ship.
Keeping one hand trailing along the wall, Deryn made her through a route she practically knew by heart. She reached the door she wanted and knocked softly upon it. She heard a few thuds, then finally the door opened. "Who's there?" Alek asked.
Deryn instinctively put up her hand to wave in greeting, and ended up hitting him in the face. "Ow!" Alek exclaimed, and Deryn immediately apologized.
"Sorry," she said, reaching out to feel his face herself. She ran her hands over his nose. "Seems like nothing's broken," she reported, and pulled back.
"Dylan?" Alek asked.
"Aye," she said, nodding before she could remember he couldn't see it. "Thought you'd be longing for company." She gave him a jaunty wink, again forgetting he couldn't see.
She stiffened as she felt his hand clasp around hers. "I'm going to lead you to a chair, okay?" he said, doing just that.
Once they were both safely seated, Alek murmured, "Thank you."
"For what?" Deryn asked, confused.
"For coming. You're right, I was getting a bit worried."
Deryn grinned. "It's not a problem," she told him. "I figured being trapped in pure darkness might make you a bit uncomfortable."
Alek shook his head, saying, "No, not so much. Nightwalking in a Stormwalker tends to harden you against the darkness. Mainly, though, I'll admit I was becoming a bit lonely."
Remembering something, Deryn snapped her fingers at her daftness and reached into her pocket. Hitting a switch, soft, green light suddenly illuminated the room. "Forgot I had that," she said, and Alek huffed.
"Only you," he said, and she punched him lightly on the shoulder.
"Aye, maybe. But I bet you would've done the same."
Alek shook his head in disbelief, then asked her what it was she was holding. Deryn answered, "It's a glowworm candle, or that's what we call it. It's basically just a thin, tiny lantern with a latch that goes all the way around to block the light if you want to. When I hit the switch, it moved them back and opened the light up."
Alek raised his eyebrows. "Nifty little invention…for a Darwinist." Deryn made a face at him, and he laughed. "How long do you think this blackout will last?" Right at his question, the lights popped back on, and Deryn chuckled.
"Oh, about, zero point one seconds. Give or take a few millis." They both laughed for a few minutes, before Deryn slowly got up. "Well, now that that's passed, I better get going."
"Of course," Alek said, opening the door for his friend.
She almost opened her mouth to give him an anti-sexist comment, before remembering that he still didn't know she was a girl. She smiled at him. "Thanks," she said warmly, and walked out.
"No, thank you," Alek murmured, grinning as she waved at him while she headed off to her room.
Deryn smiled to herself. What do you know? Dropping by his room unannounced had actually helped him. She knew it had helped her. Whistling a bit, she covered the glowworm candle and placed it back in her pocket.
8. Istanbul (They Might Be Giants)
"Been a long time gone, hasn't it, since Constantinople?" Dylan said, musing.
Alek smirked. "No, not really."
"True," Dylan said. "Think we can go back some day?"
Alek shook his head. "You can't go back to Constantinople," he reminded Dylan.
His friend gave him a funny look. "Of course I can! It's still there, last time I checked."
"No it's not," Alek replied.
Glaring, Dylan exclaimed, "Well, why not?"
"'Constantinople's been a long time gone," Alek said.
"Well, why's that?" Dylan demanded, his face giving away his unsure feelings over the question.
Alek said, "It's nobody's business but the Turks, really, why Constantinople's gone."
Dylan threw his hands up in the air in frustration. "What's the deal, Alek, we were there just a year ago? Did the city magically disappear?"
Alek gave Dylan a sly smile. "Not at all. The city's still there. But you can't go back to Constantinople. Simply put, the reason is that it's Istanbul, not Constantinople."
Dylan's eyes narrowed. "Haha, funny," he said sarcastically, sticking his tongue out.
Alek just sat back in his chair, silently gloating.
9. Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B major, BWV 1051: I. Allegro (Slovak Chamber Ochestra)
Deryn wasn't too comfortable at the moment. Hanging back at the edge of the ballroom, she leaned against the wall, arms crossed, and watched as a large number of rich people danced and swayed across the ballroom floor.
Numerous times already she'd been asked to dance, but as they were all girls (she was still Dylan to all) she'd felt a bit awkward and had tried to turn them down. That hadn't worked so well, so now she was claiming she needed a break from all the dancing she'd been doing.
Her eyes focused on one dancer in particular, and she waved him over, seeing he was partnerless at the moment. Alek came over gladly. "Enjoying yourself?" he asked.
Deryn shrugged. "Not particularly," she said, answering honestly.
Alek sighed. "I was afraid so. It's strange if you're not used to it, isn't it?"
"Aye, quite," Deryn replied, watching the dancers move with grace. "I only know a squick of the steps I'm supposed to, and still all these girls keep asking me to dance!"
"It's only because you're so handsome," Alek said with a wink, prodding his friend's side.
She sighed. "Aye, right, so pure dead handsome." Thinking to herself, she added, But not as a girl. "Listen, Alek, can I leave?" she requested.
Alek looked a bit forlorn, then gave up at her pleading look. "Oh, I suppose so. Let me walk with you, at least."
As the two friends left, Deryn let out a sigh of relief. "I can't say I'm too big a fan of ballroom dances," she said.
"I noticed that," Alek responded dryly, and Deryn laughed.
"Okay, fine, I guess that was pretty obvious."
"So you don't dance at all?"
Deryn stopped and made a horrified face at him. "Of course I dance! But not this silly ballroom stuff. I can do a proper Scottish jig anytime, with the right band and reel. Oh, aye, you wouldn't outdance me there! Especially not with your wee height, you'd be shorter than all the girls!"
Alek rolled his eyes in annoyance. "Fine, then, show me this 'jig' of yours."
Deryn shook her head. "Some other time, maybe, all right? We can head up to Scotland, I'll get a proper band together, and then I'll show you."
Alek grinned at her. "I look forward to it."
She grinned back. "So do I."
10. Don't You Forget About Me (Simple Minds)
Alek stood awkwardly, unsure of what to do next. Dylan didn't share the same hesitations. Dylan stared him in the eye, then threw himself upon Alek in a big hug. Surprised, Alek froze for a moment, then returned the gesture, patting Dylan's back a bit.
Satisfied, they both pulled back from each other. To Alek's surprise, he noticed Dylan's eyes seemed a bit wet. To his greater surprise, Alek noted the same of his own. Dylan gave him a wavering smile. "You'll be a great emperor," he said, his voice shaky, but his eyes saying he meant every word.
Alek smiled back. "And you'll be a great airman."
Dylan snorted. "What are you talking about, bum-rag? I already am!"
The Austrian rolled his eyes, and Dylan gave him a goofy grin. With a jolt, Alek realized just how much he'd miss having Dylan by his side. "Are you sure you won't reconsider?"
Dylan shook his head, eyes sad but determined. "I'm dead serious, Alek."
"So am I!" Alek protested, and Dylan's face wavered, then set again.
"I'm going back to England. I've got a future, Alek, you can't deny." Off to the side, he muttered something else Alek couldn't quite catch, then continued, "And you've got a bloody important future too. Plus, why would the Austrians want a barking Darwinist by their emperor's side?"
"Because he's an amazing person," Alek said without thinking, then flushed as he realized the magnitude of the compliment.
Dylan, to Alek's shock, blushed red, then grinned. "Aye, that I am," he said cheekily, and Alek chortled. "Listen. I can come visit, right?"
Staring, Alek answered, "Of course! Please do! Whenever you want, we'll be ready to take you in! I can arrange servants, and the best guest room, and-"
"Barking spiders, Alek, no need to do all that! I just wanted to know I could visit." Dylan broke off and stared at his feet, unsure of what to do next.
Alek took the initiative, and pulled the middy into another hug.
When they broke off, Dylan was grinning a bit like a loon, and slowly the middy began to back away, up the ramp to the Leviathan. He waved at Alek then, remembering something, called out, "And don't you dare forget about me!"
Shading his eyes, Alek watched Dylan head into the giant airship, calling back, "Not in a million years!"
*sniffs* It's over. Well, there you go! I hope you enjoyed, and I did make the last drabble a parting on purpose. But like the chapter title says, this is really the end of the beginning. I plan to bombard this section with many more fics in the future. ;)
Now time for anonymous reviews! I'll be adding more when I get back, so I can reply to the ones on this chapter if I have any, since I don't have another chapter to put replies in. ^^
Pony: Yep, it's long! I'm glad you were looking forward to the length (4,000 plus words!) and that you liked the last chapter and its last line! And haha, yeah, Newkirk already knows not to anger Deryn, but silly Alek didn't. Thanks!
A huge thanks to all who have faved and/or alerted this story, and even bigger thanks to all you wonderful reviewers! Thanks for reading, and I hope you've enjoyed reading this series as much as I've enjoyed writing it! See you in the next series! ;D