Cecille Garcia was a champion in multiple aspects. Already a widescale hero at the tender age of 12, she was as tenacious as she was ambitious in her journey down the path of valor. The smile that persisted on her face was but one proof of her undying love for the world and its people. She never faltered. But she suffered the disability of letting go.

Sporting longer pigtails and a soft complexion that betrayed her many years of fighting, Cecille, now a (self-proclaimed) beautiful 17-year-old with an even fiercer punch than five years prior, did something that she'd never been quite good at but did anyway: sneak. Peeking from behind a tree, she took in her surroundings and dashed for the side of the obsolete inn. She hopped onto the transportation circle and didn't glance back at Fulheim as the magic circle took her away, nor did she even blink when her brother greeted her like he'd been expecting her.

"Sis - "

"Dynos!" she interrupted, eliciting a miffed scowl from her twin. "We have no time to waste. Let's duel!"

Any sign of frustration vanished without a trace, and Dynos instead stared with his mouth agape and his brows knit together as though he wasn't sure what to do with the older girl pointing at him. In the end he asked dumbly, "What?"

Cecille perched her hands on her hips, already at the point of pouting. "We're always fighting the monsters here together, but when's the last time we hit each other for the sport of it? Even you've got to miss it!" Despite the casualness of her tone, she picked her words carefully lest she'd drudge up unwanted memories. From the way his expression loosened, Dynos either didn't care or didn't remember.

"Not really . . . ," he grumbled. "Your punches hurt."

"Of course they do. They wouldn't be punches if they didn't." She smiled, and added in a half-teasing tone: "But don't worry. All of them are hero-brand, and the ones I threw at you were especially packed with love."

In all their years of growing up together, Dynos never quite appreciated her sense of wit. That was evident even now when he regarded her with a slow nod, and Cecille had to wonder what it was about her humor that he didn't get. They were twins - surely, he understood her better than anyone else. When he made no show of such, however, Cecille continued on.

"So are we doing this or not?"

" . . . yeah. You'd punch me either way." At the very least, he caught on quickly.

True to their personality, Dynos waited for Cecille to make the first move, to which she obliged with a strong leap and a firm punch. The faster of the two, Dynos began casting the moment he evaded her assault, but Cecille was just as quick to interrupt him with a roundhouse kick. Evenly matched blows continued to be exchanged, until Dynos managed to pull off a supreme spell and Cecille leaped straight into her brother and threw him a mean right hook across the jaw. The spell misfired just behind her, but the force of its strength was such that she could still feel it and had to suppress a shudder at having narrowly avoided it.

Dynos stumbled back, slightly hunched over, and rubbed at his sore jaw with a disgruntled look.

"Did that hurt?" Cecille teased, and Dynos shot her a childish glare.

"They always do." She laughed and claimed that he really hadn't changed at all. It was a poor choice of wording that had her slowly closing her mouth when Dynos didn't respond, just glanced her way with a blank expression, and it made her wonder.

How much did this Dynos know? Was he even aware of his own death? In all her five years of visiting him, she hadn't dared to bring the topic up and simply skirted around subjects that could have led to it.

Shaking her head, she jumped. It was just a little ironic when Dynos threw a half-arsed punch at her face, wearing a flat face of his own, because the force of her descent and the swing of his fist hurt. Cecille frowned and restarted the technique, and both twins managed to get in a few hits before Cecille finally grappled her brother down by the arm and kneed him against the chest. She'd become faster, more agile - stronger - while Dynos had remained stagnant, and with little room to cast spells, Cecille had quite literally wrestled him into submission.

Her fingers brushed against something. She eyed the Dragon Gems nestled in his forearm. Idly, she wondered why they were necessary in an image that had gotten rid of them seconds before his demise, and thought it rather funny, but snapped out of her thoughts when Dynos grunted beneath her. He shot straight up into a sitting position as his sister crawled off with a sheepish laugh and ignored the hand she offered, instead rising of his own accord.

She thought about the future then. If Dynos had kept his Dragon Gems, he could have lived, could have defeated Real alongside Emperor Alf and General Clyde, could have assisted them in defeating Eesa when Alf jumped into the rescue, could have helped her with the school she'd taken over in Diamant . . .

But no such thing existed for Dynos. It was a rightful future of freedom he could never have.

"Are you crying?"

She blinked, but then quickly drew her arm up to wipe away the accumulating tears in the corners of her eyes. Dynos had grown in the three years she hadn't been around. He'd gotten so bold; he'd never pointed it out before when she would get a tad teary during the Era of Loss lest he'd upset her more. She laughed a weak laugh and said as much. "You actually pointed it out." How dare he, she thought mirthfully, oh, this must look so bad.

"Hey, Dynos," she started almost maddeningly casually. "Rastan's been taking good care of me these past five years. Serge, too." She smiled despite herself. "Serge still calls me Minimal Lady, but I'm going to make sure he at least gives me an upgrade to suit my hero level. It's much higher now!"

She'd become accustomed to how Dynos simply nodded, a rather cold gesture that also indicated how poor he was when it came to genuine interaction. She'd also become accustomed to how he didn't ever remark on the odd passage of time. He couldn't. He was nothing but a memory, essentially, and he was effectively deaf and mute to the passing of years.

"Also . . . I've been taking care of Zamuel's school since we came back. I don't use swords, you know that, but I'm teaching the kids the Garcia style. It's a great technique and all, so I thought I should share it . . . it gets a little lonely being the only one, hehe."

It was unlike her to spill everything she'd been keeping from him for the years, but there would be no more "one more time" to tell herself. This was the final chance. Dynos was her brother. She used to tell him everything. Why should it have to be any different now?

To her surprise, Dynos talked. "You're really good, Cecille. I'm sure they learned a lot."

"Is that you admitting defeat?"

He didn't answer.

"I was joking!" He shrugged.

"But I did lose. Father meant to have me do the teaching." There was a pause. "You're doing it all, though. Sorry."

At times, Cecille felt she'd stolen her brother's life. He was right. Everything she was doing now, he should've been the one to be doing. He was the boy who had been meant to become the man of the dojo, the successor to everything their father had had to offer. It irked her even now to think that their very father had apparently ripped all of that from Dynos' uncertain hands.

His voice cut through her thoughts again. "Are you having fun?"

The forlorn frown nestled somewhere in the mind was pushed farther back, replaced by a perhaps overdone smile as Cecille convinced herself that she was enjoying it all for both their sake's - but mostly Dynos'. "Of course. What kind of a hero would I be if I didn't even like teaching the kids? They're awfully enthusiastic.

"Serge tried once, but he was fooling around and doing it all wrong on purpose. I taught him a lesson," she said proudly, and Dynos seemed a little amused. If there was one thing they'd had in common from their journeys, it was probably that they'd both hit Serge, playfully or seriously, at some point.

"So you punched him."

"Nnno, I kicked him in the shin."

No response.

She had little more to say, and after everything she had to share she saw the telltale flicker in Dynos' image. Giving her a systematic nod, he vanished as soon as she smiled back through slightly teary eyes. She wiped them away, almost in a frustrated manner, when he was completely gone. She was 17 years old. She'd had to watch her brother disappear like that for five years. Sometimes she liked joking to herself that she was a tad masochistic when it came to her brother. She figured it was the least she could do after ignoring all of his troubles.

She half-heartedly marched back to the teleportation pentagram and didn't look back as the magic carried her back to Fulheim.

Sorry for being such a selfish sister.

It was Rastan who spoke first when she emerged from the circle and nearly ran into his chest.


Knowing she was in trouble, she replied with a weak laugh. "Eh . . . hehe . . . hi, Rastan. And Serge."

Serge sighed, absorbing in the sad realization that he had been an afterthought. "I think I just hit a new low." Rastan ignored him in favor of inquiring whether she'd gone to see Dynos. Cecille stared at her feet, then looked up with a small smile.

"Yeah . . . sorry. I know you told me not to, but this was the last chance I had. I had to . . . "

"Understandable," said Serge. It was the one trait of his that Cecille particularly appreciated, the one where he could pick up on the small sentimental details and understanddespite all the efforts he put into ignoring his own pain. "This was the last time." He turned to Rastan. "She was just saying goodbye to her little brother." Rastan nodded.

"Then it's time to go to Lascarde."

" . . . thanks."

But Serge also had the tendency to say stupid things at the wrong time with an as stupid grin. "Anytime, Minimal Lady."

Her nose wrinkled in distaste, and she kicked out with her toes raised at his shin. "Would you quit it?" she demanded. "I'm not minimal anymore!" Folly was her arguments today, because Serge let out a low "ow!" but still had the gall to grin and retort that she'd admitted to having been minimal at one time. He shut up when she lifted her other foot off the ground.

"Whoa whoa whoa, calm down! All right, no more minimal!" Serge exclaimed with a childish gesture of defeat, both hands in the air, wearing a comically surprised look.

Even so, Cecille smiled the first genuine smile since leaving and walked past them. (Rastan was busy glaring at the "walking noise pollution," a nickname which Serge, for the lack of a better word, pouted lamely about.) She looked up at the sky, searching for the Skywalk she knew she couldn't see from this angle, but she searched anyway, tuning out the two men behind her before she looked over her shoulder.

" . . . Yeah." Both Rastan and Serge stopped to level their gaze at her. "Let's go."

Goodbye, Dynos.

Notes: Dynos' characterization was kind of bizarre, but bear with me and I'll explain. The Infinite Maze of Allwise, ideally, is objective in what it puts forth. The only times we see Dynos are when he's being antagonistic, and we know bits from Cecille dropping stories of her childhood. In the maze, Dynos isn't hostile, but he's wary in that he doesn't like L'Arc and rejects help, although he's willing to entrust Cecille to Serge and Rastan in the end. At the same time, this projection's a lot more cooperative than the real one ever was.

Because it's a record, you could say that his recorded personality is a merge between what Cecille knows and what the rest of the party knows. There are multiple facets to a person. As an example, Dynos' purported dependency surfaces in the post-game dungeon when he talks only to Cecille more than half time.

Of course, I also have the tendency to overanalyze, so there you go.

Right, anyway. This was a late Christmas gift for Jan, who recently picked up Arc Rise Fantasia and learned the sadistic ways of the game's bosses and mobs. (': Belated merry Christmas, Jan, and long live Sir Douchechanter.