A/N: -epic fanfare- BEHOLD THE THRILLING CONCLUSION TO YOUR FAVORITE FANFIC FEATURING A TRANSFORMING LUCAS AND FAIRY!LEDER—Puppy Love. I don't own anything, and there's nothing here that hasn't been in a previous chapter somewhere.

No further bullshit. Let's do this. -dons shades-

s—t—a—r—t—chap—t—e—r—

Claus was jogging after Lucas as soon as he'd pulled his underwear back on his person; all other articles of clothing could be pulled on haphazardly as he followed, heart beating almost frantically. "Lucas? Lucas!"

The blonde stopped, much to Claus' relief. He had everything but his shirt on by the time he caught up with him. "Lucas, what are you thinking?" he asked, trying to look into his boyfriend's eyes.

Lucas did not return his gaze, instead opting to continue walking at a pace that wasn't walking, but not quite jogging either. "I...I'm not sure, C-Claus. That was a lot of i-information to take in."

Claus was understanding of him at first, nodding slowly. "Yeah, you've got a point. If I were you I'd be completely confused."

But as a nascent silence ensued, made tense by Lucas' troubled demeanor, Claus began to realize that Lucas' indecision hurt him somewhat. Sure, that was his family and his past...but he had them now. Them being Claus and Hinawa and Flint, plus everyone he knew in Tazmily. They'd taken him in, accepting what he was and expecting nothing in return except mutual respect. The fact that he actually had to think this over was kind of a slap to the face. That family had never come looking for him until now, albeit for a reasonable cause. Claus would do almost anything for Lucas, and he knew that his parents felt the same way.

What if that Leder had never come and told Lucas all this stuff? Claus knew it was selfish, but he almost wished that he'd never come in the first place. Then Lucas would have no reason or incentive to leave. Lucas would be here, with him. His.

But, then it hit him. Lucas was his own person. Claus did not own him. Claus had no right to tell Lucas what he could or could not do. His relatives only wanted to do for Lucas what his parent never had the chance to do. They wanted the best for him. Why didn't Claus? It was so clear now, without his blind resentment and affection clouding his common sense.

Lucas had to go. He deserved it.

As they trekked through town en route to the house, with people giving Claus funny looks on account of his shirt still sitting balled in his fist as he lost himself in thought, the redhead nodded his head in solemn acceptance. If Lucas chose to leave and pursue a productive future, then Claus would support him all the way.

The only thing that put Claus off was how quiet Lucas was during the return trip; not only did they feel distant, but Lucas didn't even attempt to talk anything over or even look in his direction. His gaze was always focused somewhere in the distance. Claus couldn't help but wonder what was going through his head, though he kept his mouth shut; he trusted Lucas enough that he knew the blonde would talk to him soon. He just needed some time to think.

And just like that, they were back at the house. When they entered, Hinawa greeted them cheerfully. "Welcome back, you two. Claus, honey, don't tell me you walked through town like that! You silly boy." But when she noticed the mood shared amongst them, the palpable sense of discord, her expression fell a bit to match. "...is something the matter?" Even Flint, whom sat in the living room reading the newspaper, looked up in response.

Claus wasn't sure what to say, so he looked to gauge Lucas' expression to decide whether or not he'd lie. Lucas didn't give him the chance. "S-sort of...I guess. At least, there's sssomething I need to talk to you a-about. Could you, u-uhm, sit down?"

Hinawa nodded. "Of course, dear," she said, sensing the magnitude of the situation with her feminine intuition. She took a seat beside Flint on the sofa, waiting patiently as the two boys shared a look before following suit and sitting on the floor opposite them on the other side of the table.

Lucas cleared his throat. Claus found himself shaking despite his earlier resolve. He was fairly sure of which choice Lucas would choose, the sensible choice, but he wasn't sure if he could handle hearing it. Any amount of time away could really change a person, for better or for worse. Would their relationship end? Would he visit? Would he cut all ties? Claus had to clench his fists together to keep from showing his uncertainty.

"W-well, we went to the hot springs, just like w-we said we would, and while we were th-there, we met an...uh, an interesting g-guy." He paused here, losing some of his confidence and slouching a bit.

Claus nodded, deciding that he'd at least help Lucas with his delivery of this exciting tale. "Yeah, no kidding. I doubt you guys'll believe this."

Hinawa giggled despite herself. "Well, we've heard the dog-turning-into-a-human story, remember? If this can top that, I'll be surprised."

Lucas scratched the back of his neck. "He, uhm, claimed that he was a f-fairy by the name of Leder and told m-me he was the one who t-turned me into said dog."

Flint, who had up until this point been listening with a more or less neutral expression, now blinked a few times and raised an eyebrow. "Get out of town."

Claus sighed. "Nope, he's completely serious."

Hinawa gasped. "Leder? As in, our Leder? The extremely tall, well-dressed man?"

Lucas nodded. "Yeah, that's him."

Claus leaned on the table's edge. "I even commented on having heard stories about him when I was little, and he got all reminiscent on us."

Hinawa took this in with an unreadable expression. "Fascinating. And Leder, did he explain anything? About why he turned you into that dog in the first place? That must mean you'd been a human at one point before!"

Lucas hesitated before nodding, his expression having gone back to it's tentative, guilt-like look. "Yeah, he d-did. When he went through it all, I began r-remembering things too, like he was l-lifting a spell he'd put on me or sssomething."

"So you..."

"...remember everything, yeah."

She smiled at him. "That's wonderful, dear," she half-cheered, clapping her hands together.

Lucas gave her a half-hearted smile in return. "Yeah, th-thanks." As soon as it came, though, it vanished, and Lucas continued. "But it's not just that s-simple."

Hinawa cocked her head to the side. "Hmm?"

"Well, m-my parents died in an accident, and I was l-left with my aunt and uncle to t-take care of me." He sighed aloud.

Hinawa's face instantly fell. "Th...that's horrible," she murmured, raising a hand to rest at her lips.

Lucas nodded in agreement. "Mm. They were poor, and I was only a-an extra mouth to feed. So I, er, ran a-away, thinking I could t-take care of myself. And nearly got m-myself killed in the process. But Leder told me th-that they recently came into a lot of m-money, and that they want to p-put me through more school." His eyebrows had furrowed thoroughly by this point, expression a mix between guilt and anticipation.

The woman blinked a few times. "More school? You must be from New Pork, then," she gasped. "Good heavens, isn't that serendipitous? You're going to see them then, right?"

Lucas started and stared at Hinawa with wide, almost disbelieving eyes. Claus merely regarded her with awe. She'd immediately realized that this was Lucas' choice. "W-well, I was planning to, y-yes," he answered, looking at his hands. "I...I'm gonna take them u-up on their offer."

Hinawa smiled slightly. "That's good, dear," she praised, one of her hands wandering over to Flint's and interlocking. "You'll be able to make something of yourself in the big city!"

Lucas smiled shakily too. "Mhmm. I want to b-be a doctor."

"That's wonderful!"

Claus wanted to feel proud of Lucas, too, but he couldn't help but ask one certain question. "Lucas," he began, looking at the table's wood finish, "how long does secondary schooling take?"

He couldn't see Lucas' expression. "Anywhere from four to eight years."

At this Claus' head snapped up to face his blonde companion with horror. Eight years? That was like an eternity. And the entire situation was like a strange nightmare; Lucas was just going to up and leave for four years, at the very least...Claus was fairly sure he couldn't handle that. But judging by the look of despair in Lucas' eyes, neither could he. And Claus wasn't sure when it happened or whom initiated it, but one moment they were a full foot or so apart and the next they were locked in a tight embrace, Lucas rubbing circles on Claus' back.

A couple of laughs heard from in front of them couldn't even drive them apart. "Oh, boys," Hinawa giggled softly. "It isn't as if you'll never see each other again!"

"Sh-she's right," Lucas agreed, pulling away enough to look Claus in the eyes, face set in a heartfelt gaze. "I'll come visit. Often." He then blinked and looked at Claus' parents a bit sheepishly. "If that's o-okay with you, of course."

Hinawa gave him an almost reprimanding look. "Oh, Lucas, don't tell me that was serious! You can come back as often as you'd like," she insisted, giving him one of those radiant smiles of hers.

"You're welcome here anytime," Flint added, nodding his head minutely.

Their kindness never ceased to touch Lucas. He didn't even realize he was crying until he felt something wet dripping off his cheek and onto his exposed knee. He half-laughed at himself, wiping at his eyes with the backs of his hands. "S-sorry. You're just t-too kind, and I dunno how I c-can ever repay you g-guys..."

Claus grabbed his wrists and gently tugged them away, instead leaning in to give him the lightest of kisses. "Stupid. You repay us by making the most of your life."

Lucas stared at him with wide eyes; not on account of what he'd done, but rather in front of whom. "H-huh?"

Claus laughed. "You're leaving. It doesn't matter anymore. Just stop crying; I hate it when you're sad."

A glance over to the sofa revealed a beaming Hinawa and an indifferent Flint, neither of whom looked particularly surprised. "I was afraid you'd leave before either of you decided to tell us!" she giggled. "You realize you two aren't very incognito."

Claus shrugged. "Well, no shame in it. I just didn't want you to kick Lucas out of my room or something."

"Nonsense. If anyone, I'd have kicked you out!" Another laugh. "But Claus is right; if you feel like you have to repay us, just live your life to its fullest!"

Lucas blinked a few times before smiling back at her, relieved. They accepted his decision, they accepted him and Claus, and they loved him like a second son. This family of his...he loved them. "Okay."

-asdfjkl;-

It was a sunny, albeit rather cold, day. Birds chirped in the distance and a lazy breeze caressed the land as people bustled around, either as employees or as simple passengers trying to catch the train. As it happens, this was Lucas' train to New Pork, and the final call had been made just a few seconds prior.

"Lucas, dear, have a good time!" Hinawa waved to the two boys by the train's entrance, donning a dark grey sweater to shield her from the afternoon's chilliness. "Be sure to write as soon as you get there!" Flint merely nodded at the blonde from Hinawa's side; they'd hugged earlier.

Lucas laughed. "Thanks, and I-I will!" he called in return, then giving the redhead in front of him his full attention. "Well, this is it."

Claus half-smiled up at him. "Indeed."

"I wonder if you'll have grown any taller the next time I see you?" Lucas wondered aloud, earning himself a playful punch from his boyfriend.

The shorter boy then rather begrudgingly gave Lucas the kiss he leaned down for. "Shut up. And you better not forget about me and fall for some other guy or girl, alright?"

Lucas laughed again. "Of course not, darling. You're the only one for me." He stepped back onto the train then, his carry on bag slung across his shoulder. "I'll come back as soon as I can, okay?"

"You better." Claus stood there in his hoodie and jeans until the train began to move, and Lucas was slowly pulled away from him. He walked with him a few steps before coming to a stop, waving goodbye himself. "I..I love you!"

Lucas smiled, though Claus could barely see it at that point. "I love you more!" he yelled, waving to both him and Hinawa. "See you soon!"

Claus continued to wave until the train had receded into the tunnel a few kilometers ahead. He felt hands on his shoulders, and his mother's voice was in his ear. "And there he goes. I can't wait to see how much he's grown the next time we see him!" she giggled.

Claus just smiled and leaned back into her hold. Was he sad? Well, sure. He wouldn't get to see Lucas everyday anymore. No more kisses, no more casual outings (read: dates), no more waking up next to his partner. This was his first relationship, sure, but he was confident in Lucas. They loved each other. That itself was strong enough to keep them together in spirit.

What he predominantly felt, on the other hand, was excitement. Excitement for Lucas' opportunity. Excitement for the next time they'd meet. Excitement for their future...

The future they'd share together.

endfiction

A/N: Oh my God.

It's totally done. -is terribly excited- First EarthBound chapter fic that I've completed! Sweet.

And I'd just like to thank you guys. Seriously. Your support has completely blown me away. -bows deeply- I'm happy you enjoyed this! And if you didn't, well...I'm sorry. Tell me why you didn't like it!

Also, I'd like to state that I can definitely see a sequel to this fic; six year time skip, Lucas and Claus living together, adopting a kid, y'know, that kind of thing. But that won't be written for a (probably very) long time. Unless I drop Captivity and leave the other two C/L fics as one-shots, lmao. And no M chapter, because I don't want to rate the entire fic M for one damn chapter. -shrug- plus it's against ffnet's ToS, trololol.

But there you have it. Feel free to leave any final thoughts or suggestions or whatever. Thank you for reading~ I love you all! :'D

おわり (The End.)