Epilogue b: Belated
Rallen stretched out in his seat with a barely suppressed yawn, before he relaxed and looked to Jeena casually, hands behind his head. "So… you ready to start heading home?"
Jeena looked over curiously, before she frowned a little. "Shouldn't we wait until your brother's awake again? What if the engine wakes him up?"
"Ah, he'll be fine! Once he falls asleep, he can sleep through just about anything!" Rallen chuckled out.
Jeena sighed, but she allowed a fond smile. "Alright, but if he comes up complaining that we woke him, I'm blaming it on you."
"Roger that," Rallen said with a grin as he straightened up and started the engines.
His partner merely smiled and shook her head. "You're such a goof."
And with that said, the cruiser lifted off of the planet's surface and then took off.
They were halfway from Meido to Kollin when the comm system suddenly beeped, signaling they had an incoming call.
"Hm? Oh. You think it's Liz?" Rallen asked curiously with a small grin on his face.
"Wouldn't that be something?" his partner said with a small smile of her own as she patched the call through.
As the screen flickered on, it was Grant's face that greeted them.
"Rallen, Jeena. Where have you two been?"
"We're sorry, sir. We got a little sidetracked whilst running an errand for Commander Marks," Jeena said politely as Rallen kept his attention on their path.
"Sidetracked? You were outside of communication range for most of the day. What happened?"
"Nothing, really. Nothing major, at least," Rallen said cheekily, sharing a knowing glance with his partner, who shot him a small smile of her own.
"Hm? So something did happen?" Grant asked, a suspicious frown on his face.
"Something like that," Rallen said with a small smirk. "But you'll see that for yourself once we get back."
Though Grant still appeared to be suspicious of Rallen's words, he said nothing else of it, really. "Hm. Very well. I will see you when you return, then."
And then the connection was cut once again.
Rallen chuckled as he shared a look with Jeena. "Man, I can't wait to see the look on his face when Rex shows up in front of him."
"Why's that?" Jeena asked.
"Well… Grant was…" Rallen started, but he paused for a moment to frown, and looked out into space again for a while. "…He was… one of the people who… believed Rex was dead when Liz came home alone." Pausing to shake his head, Rallen gave a small sigh before he spoke again. "He didn't say anything about it… but it was pretty obvious that's what he thought…"
Jeena's look became understanding and she nodded. She had a feeling that this wasn't so much about making Grant eat his words, but more about showing Grant that he had been a fool for losing his trust in Rex. Though there would probably be more who thought as such, which meant those two were going to have fun in one way or another.
"Right! Let's move on out!" Rallen exclaimed suddenly, and then kicked off the engines for Kollin once again.
It was around mid-afternoon by the time that their cruiser docked at NPPHQ, and, in comparison to when they left, the place was bustling with activity.
Rallen allowed a grin as he stretched his arms above his head, briefly. "Whew! Finally we're back!"
Jeena smiled at her partner and said with a small chuckle: "You act like we've been gone for ages, Rallen."
"Well, we haven't, but someone here has," the other NPP said cheekily as he stood up. "I'm gonna see if he's up yet. Be right back!"
The pink-haired girl merely smiled as her partner headed out, shaking her head before she began to shut the cruiser down.
As Rallen approached the door, he made sure to knock on the door before walking into the room. Rex could be very grouchy if you just stormed into the room without any kind of warning, after all. Once he had, he opened the door and stepped inside with a loud: "Good morning!"
However, Rallen wasn't prepared to see Rex sitting up on the bed, one leg pulled close to his chest, one arm resting along the knee, his handheld journal held in the hand of that arm while he leaned back on his other arm at the same time, with his chin resting in his throat, effectively hiding his eyes from view. Komainu was seated next to him looking up curiously at Rex, until he noticed Rallen and proceeded to dash over with a happy yip.
Once the younger of the two men had picked up Komainu and gave him some light head pats, he quipped up: "Hey, Rex, c'mon, we're here! Let's go! We can probably surprise Grant if we move quick!"
"…Mom's dead, isn't she?"
"…!" Rallen froze when Rex said those words, unable to open his mouth to either deny or confirm what Rex had just said. But apparently, Rex didn't need words to have that done, as he released a heavy sigh that belied his true feelings.
"I see… so that's what you wanted to tell me back on Meido, huh?"
"I… I'm… I'm sorry…" Rallen said softly, hanging his own head in shame. "I… I was going to tell you… but… I… I just…"
His words died in his throat when a hand suddenly landed in his hair, but he hadn't heard Rex get up. And upon looking up, he realized why; it was Rex's right hand that had been placed in his hair, and the limb hovered above him solemnly, lightly ruffling his hair in the same way Rex used to do when they were younger. As it did, Rex slowly got up from the bed, foregoing his boots for the moment, and walked over to his younger brother.
Once he was there, he positioned his right arm against the hovering limb, and the two easily clicked into place, while he pulled the younger NPP into a hug. Rallen blinked slowly, before he reached out with one arm to return the gesture, a bit worriedly, since he wasn't too sure what to expect.
And Komainu merely snuggled closer to Rallen with a happy yowl.
"…I'm sorry… I should've come back a lot sooner…"
"I-it wasn't your fault!" Rallen stammered out, caught off guard by the sudden apology. "It was… just… it was just…"
"Easy, Rall. We can talk about this later, but I needed to get that out of the way," Rex said with a small smile as he stepped back and ruffled Rallen's hair (a little more roughly than before). "So, shall we go?"
Rallen blinked in surprise at the sudden turnabout, before he allowed a grin as Rex walked back to pull on his boots again. "Yeah, sure. C'mon! The Commanders are waiting!"
"…? 'Commanders'? Who else is waiting besides Grant?"
"Lizzy is! Who else?"
"…Lizzy's a Commander? Since when?"
"Um… about 11 years ago, I think."
"…hoo boy… that's gonna be interesting… I just know it…"
NPPHQ was, in one word, busy when the small group stepped out of the cruiser. The techs were running from one corner of the room to the next to either pick up tools, help their friend, or to move to one of the other cruisers that needed a checkup. The NPP officers themselves were not so busy and seemed to be taking it easy as they left their cruisers in the care of the techs, heading out of the hangar to get something to eat or to enjoy themselves in another fashion.
As they continued on through the hangar, there were several people who stopped to watch in surprise when they spotted Rex, and the man in question merely tossed them a brief wave and smirk, before moving on. He didn't even seem bothered by the whispering that was going on behind his back. In fact, he seemed to take great pleasure from it.
"Heh. You're hardly back for a minute and already everyone's gonna be talking about you," Rallen joked out.
"If they actually recognize me right away. I did change a bit, after all," the older man said back.
"…Okay, 'a lot'."
Jeena smiled as the two men exchanged a quick grin and chuckle, never slowing their pace in the least. They barely seemed to care about the shift in atmosphere the moment they stepped out of the cruiser, which really shouldn't have surprised her as much as it did.
The trip from the hangar to the Commanders' office took them only a few minutes, though they did have to stop a few times to greet a few people, though Rex didn't appear too fond of doing so, which was a surprise for Jeena.
Despite their small breaks, however, they made good time in getting to Grant's office. Jeena was the one to knock on the door, which was answered by a slightly muffled "Enter," from Grant.
Once they were in the room, Grant spent a few more moments studying the reports before him, before he turned to the small group.
"So, are you ready to–" Grant began, only to choke on his own words when he realized that Rallen and Jeena weren't the only ones to enter. "What in–?"
"Yo, Commander Grant," Rex chuckled out as he gave the man a two-fingered salute. "Been a while, eh?"
Grant stood up so fast just then that he almost knocked his chair over, though it did screech briefly as it was pushed back because of the sudden motion. "Rex! You… you're alive?"
"Alive and kicking, as you can see," the man in question said with a cheeky smirk on his face. "Sorry for the delay; I got unexpectedly held up a few systems over."
"Unexpected…" Grant began, before he frowned, though he appeared to be fighting off a smirk. "Of course you'd be 'unexpectedly' delayed. Whenever do you really expect to be delayed?"
Rex merely laughed, while Rallen and Jeena hid their amusement behind their hands, even as Rex rubbed the back of his head. "Ya got me there, I suppose," he said casually. "So anyway, I hear things were getting a little hectic around here the past two years… guess I missed all the action, huh?"
At those words, even Grant allowed a short chuckle. "Heh. That's one way to put it. Though I doubt you had a complete lack of action wherever it was you disappeared to."
"No comment on that one," Rex said with a grin and a shrug. "Yanno how it goes; hard to keep my nose outta things."
Grant finally allowed a small smile as he briefly shook his head. "So… this is what you two were up to, I take it…" he said finally as he turned to Rallen and Jeena.
"Hehe… yeah, kinda," Rallen said with a grin of his own. "Sorry 'bout the secrecy, but we wanted it to be a surprise."
"Heh. Well, you've succeeded quite well with that," Grant commended with a nod, before he asked: "Does Commander Marks already know, though?"
Rallen, who was standing beside Rex, heard his brother say under his breath: "So she is a Commander now… hoo-boy…" which he ignored for now so he could respond to Grant.
"Not yet. We were planning to see her right after giving you the news," Rallen said with a small half-grin. "Figured the reunion with you would be the shortest."
"Hm. No argument there. Though perhaps you should go see her soon," Grant said, allowing himself a smirk. "Wouldn't want her to build up even more anger, now do we?"
"No we don't…" Rallen and Rex said at the exact same time.
"Heh. Alright then, you're dismissed."
The walk to Liz's office was relatively short, but it seemed to take much longer than usual for some reason. Maybe it was because of the tension in the air around them, but whatever the reason, when they finally reached the door to her office, it was mid-afternoon
When they almost stood in front of it, Rex paused in his steps.
"Rex? You okay?" Jeena asked worriedly.
"…Y… yeah… I'm… I'm fine… really…" Rex murmured, absently tucking his hand in his pocket. "I'm just… a tad bit nervous, I suppose…"
"Don't blame ya…" Rallen mumbled. "Lizzy's prolly gonna bash your head in for being away so long…"
"Among other things…" Rex mumbled under his breath. After a moment of just standing there, Rex finally took a deep breath and exhaled quietly, before he clucked his tongue. "A'ight… this ain't gonna be pretty one way or another… may as well get it over with now and pray my head survives…"
Rallen had to resist the urge to chuckle; this was not the situation to do so, after all. So instead, he stepped up to the door and raised his hand to knock…
Just as he door opened on its own.
This resulted in Rallen jumping back with a startled yelp, even as Liz, who now stood in the doorway, to blink curiously at them. Rex immediately took notice of the large triangular eye patch that covered almost half of her face and tensed, but he kept quiet (for now).
"…You certainly took your time," Liz said finally, her expression and voice perfectly neutral and not giving anything away about how she was feeling. "I was about to see what kept you."
"Ehehe… sorry, Ma'am," Rallen chuckled as he rubbed the back of his head. "We got a little sidetracked along the way since there were a few people who wanted to say 'hi'."
"Is that so?" Liz murmured thoughtfully, though as she did, Jeena realized that the Commander was purposely not looking to Rex for some reason. As though he wasn't even there.
And Rex only stood there, watching silently for the longest time, until Liz finally turned her attention to him. And like that, they stood in silence for several tense seconds, to the point where even Rallen's grin faded as worry began to gnaw at his heart. He shared a look with Jeena, but the girl in question looked equally, if not more worried than Rallen felt.
"…You're late, Rex," Liz stated coldly, and—strangely enough—Rex only laughed.
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Esh, I only just got back and already you're chewing me out," he chuckled as he rubbed the back of his neck with a small headshake. "You never change, huh?"
"Nor do you, unfortunately," the Commander said coolly.
"Nope. You mind?"
"…" To that question, Liz didn't respond immediately, but after a few minutes, she shut her eye and allowed a small smirk. "Not in the slightest."
"Great. Now I don't have to go out of my way to do stuff I don't feel up to," Rex said with a small half-grin.
"…Heh. You're still such a goof."
"And proud of it. Heheh."
Rallen blinked a few times, before he managed to smile and turn to his own partner. The girl in question was also smiling, most likely also seeing just how similar Rex and Liz were acting to themselves.
"Rallen, Jeena," Liz spoke suddenly, turning to the pair in question. "I need to speak to Rex in private for a while. Do you mind?"
"Huh? …Oh! No, of course not!" Rallen responded almost immediately, needing a lot of effort to keep the grin of his face. "Take as long as you need. We don't mind a bit. Right, Jeen?"
Jeena allowed a half-smile of her own and nodded. "Not at all."
Liz allowed a small chuckle, shaking her head before she walked back into her office. Rex shook his head with a small chuckle of his own, and made to follow, only to stop in the doorway to turn to his brother.
Rex waited for a moment, before he smirked and quipped: "Don't pull any weird stuff now, ya hear?"
"Wha-I-why-REX!" Rallen spluttered out, even as Rex laughed and stepped into Commander's office, the door closing behind him.
Rex took a deep breath, briefly biting his lip as the door shut, before he released it and turned to face Liz—
—and immediately got a right hook to the jaw.
"OW!" Rex yowled out, covering the sore area with his hand. "Okay okay I know I deserved that but seriously, was it necessary to punch that hard?"
"YES THAT WAS NECESSARY, YOU STUPID OAF!" Liz screamed out. "You kept us waiting for 12 years! Twelve years, Rex! Do you have ANY idea at all what we were going through here with you gone?"
"Hey whoa whoa! Easy, Liz!" Rex called out quickly holding up his hands in surrender. "C'mon, girl… calm down before you pop a blood vessel or something… YIKE!" Rex quickly ducked to avoid the straight punch that would've crushed his nose for sure.
"Calm down? You expect me to 'calm down' after all this?" Liz demanded, clenching her fist in preparation for her next punch. "I should just-"
However, before Liz could finish (or throw the punch), Rex quickly darted forward, snagged both her wrists in his hands to keep them by her side and caught the young woman's mouth with his own, stopping her tirade before it could escalate any further. It was only a light touch of his lips to hers and nothing else, since she'd kill him if he did anything else, he knew. He also knew that the light grip he had on her wrists would not hold her for long, and if she really wanted to, she could break his hands with a mere flick of the wrist, but he prayed that she wouldn't. He also made sure not to move at all, both with his body and with his mouth, waiting for Liz to either reject or accept him.
After what felt like a short eternity to Rex, Liz's stance relaxed and a weak, sort of strangled sound rolled out from her throat, which Rex took as a sign that she had calmed down at least a little. So, gradually, he moved back, maintaining his light grip on her wrists for a moment, but easing up bit by bit.
Wordlessly, he then stared into Liz's only visible eye, which was still angled down in a frown, but he could see the one thing he had never expected from the young woman in it as well. The one thing he had never, ever, seen with her… and also something he, quite honestly never wanted to see;
"I'm sorry…" he whispered tenderly, resting his forehead against hers. "I caused you, Rallen, and mom so much pain… I never intended for that to happen, and I'm sorry…" He paused briefly to let his left hand slip down and interlock their fingers, giving her hand a soft squeeze. "I mean it… from the bottom of my heart… I'm sorry… and I know it's… probably too much to ask, but… will you forgive me?"
Liz remained deathly silent, staring up at Rex and never once looking away. As he finished his whispered plea, however, she cast her gaze down.
"…you… dolt…" she snarled softly, but Rex caught the hitch in her voice, and it tore at his heart when he saw the first crystalline tear roll down her cheek. "…in situations like this… sorry doesn't cut it…"
Rex allowed a small smile, as her fingers dug into his skin, almost as if to say "don't let go". "I know… but… it's all I can do… so… I'll say it again as much as I must… I'm sorry… I'm so… so sorry…"
Liz didn't look up at him, but she was not pushing him away, so he took a chance and brought up his other hand to rest it on her back, gently pulling her closer so that he could place her chin on his shoulder.
"…just this once…" Liz hissed out, bringing up her own free arm and gripping the back of his shirt tightly. "…you dolt…"
"Heh… yeah, but I'm your dolt, huh?"
"…heh… you goof…"
Rex merely smiled quietly to himself as he held her close. He wanted so badly to keep her there and never let go again, but she'd probably kill him for it. Let alone there was something else he still needed to do, as well. But, before he could say anything, Liz's fingers reached out for the right side of his face and he instinctively flinched when they passed over his scar.
"What caused this?" Liz asked, a deep frown on her face as she moved his bangs aside.
"Just an old accident… nothing major, really…" Rex murmured softly as her fingers moved across the scar and then over his eyelid as it closed instinctively.
"…it must've hurt…" she whispered, as if to herself, and Rex couldn't help but look at the eye patch that hid her own eye.
"…what about you?" he asked quietly, reaching up and carefully fingering the piece of cloth. "You… did yours hurt, too?"
"…it's just an old injury… it's nothing special…" she said softly, making no move to stop him as he carefully eased the patch off.
As ugly as his own scar was, the sight that greeted him beneath the eye patch was both horrifying and saddening. The skin was a deep red, its surface not only looked, but also felt rough, like sandpaper, the eyebrow had been entirely scorched off, and the skin of the eyelid had seemingly melted, permanently forcing the eye shut. When he touched the skin, even lightly with the very tips of his fingers, she winced sharply and almost instinctively pulled away.
"Shit… Liz… I'm sorry…" he murmured, carefully and tenderly resting his hand on her cheek, not missing how she tried desperately to hide her wince. "I… I can't even… can't even imagine what that must've been like… I'm so sorry…"
"…It's not your fault…" she whispered, lightly holding his hand in her own, despite how it had to hurt like hell. "Stop apologizing for things you couldn't prevent…"
"But I could've prevented it! That's the point! I… I could've-"
"Rex, enough already," she sighed out, lightly squeezing his hand. "It's already done… nothing to do about it now. Stop beating yourself up over it."
"Liz…" Rex bit his lip, debating on what to say, before he settled on placing a feather-light kiss on the burnt skin. "I can't help it… that's how I am… I care about you, and that's why I worry about you… You're more to me than just my partner in NPP… you're my friend… more than that even…"
Whatever she was going to say, he didn't hear it, as he gave her another soft kiss. Unlike the first one he gave her, she actually responded to this one, if only slightly. Again, it went no further than simple mouth-to-mouth, and that was fine, really. The fact that she was even responding was more than enough for him right then.
Once he had managed to collect his nerve, he slowly pulled away and breathed out what he had been dying to say to her for the past 12 years…
"Liz… I love you."
The Commander stared at Rex in something that could almost, almost, be shock, but then she allowed a small smile. "Goof…" she mumbled, before she linked her hands behind his head and pulled his face to hers. "Took you long enough…"
And with that, she kissed him, hard.
And Rex only smiled quietly, letting her take charge for once; lord knows what she'd do if he tried to force control on her. He placed his hands on her hips, letting them rest there, letting her decide how far this would go. When she pushed her tongue against his lips, he parted his lips and allowed her to dominate him, only occasionally pushing back with his own tongue.
After almost five minutes, they finally parted. For a few moments, they stared at each other, before Rex spoke up.
"Soooo… does this mean you're not angry with me anymore?"
"…Dolt," Liz mumbled softly, but her mouth curled up in a small half smirk as she rested her head on his shoulder.
"Heh. I'll take that as a 'yes', then."
Liz didn't even bother to respond that time (though she did snort), which was fine, since it gave him some time to prepare himself mentally.
'Okay… just calm down… you had 12 years to prepare so get on with it!'
The second he said that, Liz's only eye widened in surprise and she pulled back to look at him strangely. "You never use that name… What's wrong?"
"N-nothing…!" Rex got out, and he mentally smacked himself for stammering. Breathing out slowly, he rubbed the back of his neck. "I just… well… I was just wondering… if you'd… consider… um… well…"
"Rex, are you sure you're-"
"I'm fine! I just… um…"
Rex almost wanted to rip his hair out in frustration. He'd had twelve years to prepare, and here he was, screwing up. Go figure…
After taking another deep breath and letting it out in a heavy sigh, he reached into his pocket, scraping together all scattered bits of his courage as he pulled it out. 'Now or never… c'mon, do it!'
"Alliz Marks," he said finally, not waiting for her to gather her wits and getting down on one knee as he brought out the small box, "would you grant me the honor of staying by my side forever as my wife?"
"…! R-Rex…" That was all she got out as she stared down at the small box he held out to her. Or more precisely, at its contents.
Inside the box rested a silver ring with a light purple stone surrounded by smaller stones of deep ocean blue and pale yellow the color of sand set in an infinity symbol around the purple stone. The combination of colors reminded her of nightfall on Nessa, when the skies would turn purple after the sun's departure and the sand and water seemed to glow with an ethereal light. A sight she had always adored more than anything in her childhood.
For the longest time, Liz could only stare, and it was almost as if she wasn't breathing. She tried to work her jaw to speak, but her voice appeared to have abandoned her. After all, out of all the things Rex could have told her upon his return to Kollin after so long, this was most likely not what she had expected him to say.
"I know that this might seem… a little sudden," Rex said finally, looking down to the ground briefly, before he turned back to Liz, gently taking her right hand in his own. "But I mean what I say. I love you, Liz, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you, and not just as your partner. I understand that I might be far too late to ask you… but…"
"…you dolt," Liz said quietly just then, and when he looked at her face, he saw she was close to crying, and yet she was smiling – actually smiling. "You… you're always late with… with such things."
Rex blinked, a little confused before he realized that Liz was squeezing his hand lightly. "Liz…? Y-you mean…?"
Rather than answer verbally, however, Liz merely reached into the box and looped her left ring finger through it. Even with her glove on, it was a perfect fit.
"Seriously… you need to work on your timing, Rex," she said with a small smile still playing on her lips. "Don't you know it's impolite to keep a girl waiting?"
Rex remained where he sat for a while longer, just staring as Liz studied the ring on her own finger, before his mouth twisted up into a grin as he jumped up and – without thinking twice about it – hugged the Commander tightly, startling Liz enough for her to yelp slightly. Her surprise didn't last for long, however, as she soon chuckled softly and wrapped her arms around him n turn.
"I'm sorry I'm late, Lizzy…" he whispered to her. "I'm so sorry… I swear I'll find some way to make up for how long I've been away. I swear I'll–"
"Shut up and kiss me, you dolt."
Rex blinked in surprise, but then he laughed and did as he was ordered.
"I love you, Liz…" he breathed when they parted briefly for air.
"Dolt…" Liz murmured as she linked her hands behind his neck. "I love you, too…"
In the meantime, Rallen and Jeena stood, leaning against the wall, waiting for either Rex or Liz to come back out. The two were taking their time, and they had already been expecting that, but this was getting to be a little ridiculous.
Rallen yawned and stretched his arms over his head. "Esh… are they ever coming out? Seriously…"
"They have a lot to catch up on, Rallen. I mean, they've been apart for 12 years, right?" Jeena pointed out.
"Yeah, yeah, I know… but still…" the orange-haired man mumbled to himself, hands behind his head as he leaned back, crossing his legs over one another. "…Can't he just say it and get it over with?" he murmured softly after a while.
"Hm? You say something, Rallen?"
For a long time, the pair remained where they were, silently contemplating even as Komainu plopped down beside Rallen's feet to nap… up until a familiar beep startled them both.
Rallen blinked in surprise, before he reached under his gauntlet and pulled out his handheld, flipping it open with one hand. As he read the message he had just been sent, he hummed a little non-committedly to himself, before he snorted. "Oh, now he's telling us to find something for ourselves to do. Figures… eh?"
Just then, Rallen blinked and squinted at the last section – and then he promptly started laughing.
"…? What's so funny, Rallen?" Jeena asked with a frown.
Instead of an answer, however, Rallen held out the handheld to her, trying very hard to stifle his laughter with his free hand. Confused, Jeena took it from him and read through the message quietly. It wasn't until the end of the message that she realized what had to have set Rallen off.
It was a small PS, really, but it succeeded in getting the point across, and Jeena actually felt her face heating up a bit.
"He… did… did he…?"
"Hah… hahah… y-yeah… hahah… H-he was planning that from the get-go since 12 years ago already! Hahaha!"
"R-Rallen! I-it's not that funny!"
"I know I know! Hahaha! S-sorry, but I… hahah…" Rallen managed to take a few deep breaths so that he could calm down, though he was still chuckling. "Heh… I just… remembered something funny."
"Uh-huh…" Jeena mumbled, having a feeling that Rallen knew more than he was letting on.
"Anyway! Since those two are going to be busy for a while, let's go out and eat something, shall we?"
"Huh? Where did—hey! Rallen! Wait up!" Jeena called out, quickly running after her partner as he hurried off.
"C'mon Jeen! It'll be like Rex's treat to celebrate!"
As angry as she sounded, however, she couldn't help but giggle slightly when she realized that Rallen was just excited about the news they had just gotten, and she really couldn't blame him for it. So instead, she just hurried along after her partner.
It wasn't every day you learned your brother was getting married, after all, so maybe a small celebration was in order.
As the trio left NPPHQ behind, they never noticed that their trek was followed quietly.
"Aaand there they go," Rex chuckled out from where he was sitting on the windowsill.
Liz only shook her head with a small half-hearted sigh before she turned to face him from her seat. "Are you going to grab a chair anytime soon or are you gonna keep spying on your little brother?"
"…Little, huh?" Rex murmured thoughtfully as he watched Rallen pause with a laugh to let Jeena catch up. "…Not so little anymore, is he?"
The last time that Rex had seen his brother before his "disappearance", the kid had only just gotten to just below knee height, since Rex himself had kept growing taller until he was 28, though much slower than Rallen. And now Rallen almost easily reached his shoulders, and it only made Rex more aware of just how much he had truly missed.
"…It wasn't your fault, dolt," Liz said after a while as she turned back to her work, startling the orange-haired man. "Quit thinking it is, already."
"…Can't help it…" Rex sighed out. "I've missed so much… I wish I could've been there for Rall… for you… for mom…"
"…" Liz sighed and stood up, walking over, before she abruptly socked him to the back of his head.
"Ow! Hey, watch it!"
"Quit your moping, then. It's not like you."
Rex looked at her dryly for a moment, before he rolled his eyes and looked outside again, in time to see Rallen catch Jeena when she almost fell over. "…Esh, that's it!" he growled suddenly, pulling out his handheld and rapidly typed in something.
Liz blinked curiously, looking over his shoulder to see what he wrote… and couldn't help hut chuckle as he sent it.
"Are you gonna man up and kiss her already or do I have to get down there and make you?"
"Really now, Rex, since when have you dropped to match-making?" Liz asked casually as they watched Rallen reach for his own handheld.
"Liz, I almost wasted my chance, and I'm not about to let my brother make the same mistakes I made," Rex said solemnly, though he almost laughed when he saw Rallen tensing, and then hiding his handheld when Jeena tried to see what message he got. "For both their sakes."
"…Heh. That is so you; always putting others' feelings and safety above your own."
Rex smirked as he looked back to Liz. "Problem?"
"Hmm… no," she said finally, and then she moved forward and kissed him briefly.
The orange-haired man smiled with a small chuckle, before he stood up. "So anyway! How 'bout we go get something to eat for ourselves and turn some heads, eh?"
"…Dolt," Liz murmured with a small smile of her own. "Even if I say 'no', you'll just drag me along, anyway."
"Glad to know you still know how I work! Let's mosey!" Red laughed, taking Liz's hand and beginning to tug her along. And the Commander only chuckled as she kept up easily.
"Oh! Hey Lizzy?"
"Don't call me that. And what?"
"Happy belated birthday."
Right… sorry 'bout the delay; been stuck in TWEWY for a long time.
Also, yes, Liz's first name is actually "Alliz".
So in any case, if anyone has either another idea about what happened to Rex, or a request about a possible continuation, let me know and I'll try to work with it… or do it yourself and let me know. Whichever you prefer.