Here it is - Chapter 4 in all its glory! I know it's been a while since I've posted anything new, and I'd like to apologize to all those who have been waiting/ supporting me throughout the last three chapters of this story. I ended up getting a summer job and working full-time, with very little time to spare for writing :( but I plan on picking this story up as promised, but it will be a very gradual process.

Sooo onto a bit about this chapter - be prepared, this chapter is a BIG turnaround from the last, but there is a purpose as to why this is. Ultimately, this chapter is the prelude leading into the foundation of the main "shocker" (or plot) of this story (and yes, when I say shocker, its legit XD). As I said before, I tried incorporating Shulk/Fiora and Sharla/Reyn into this one. This chapter(as much as it is random) has it's moments - so hopefully you guys find it worthwhile! Also...this chapter has a few surprises of its own, some good, some bad...but I won't spoil it :P There is some slight sexual stuff in here, so I've rated this chap M just in case.

Enjoy people! :)

Melia's Series of Unfortunate Events - Chapter 4

He stood with crossed arms, amidst the citizens of Colony 9 who passed him soundlessly from all directions. None of them were aware of his presence but it was of no consequence. If needed, he would make himself known - but only for one purpose. That purpose was one he was still contemplating.

He could sense a familiar presence close by. A flash of red armor grazed his line of sight as he proceeded outside of town, towards a small clearing. Shulk was standing near, talking to Reyn and Dunban. He could not hear what they were saying, but Shulk mentioned something and the two other men laughed. Dunban withdrew from the others slightly and Shulk turned to face off against Reyn.

"Ahh, combat training." The realization hit him as he calmly gazed at Shulk and Reyn - their swords locked together as they fought, Dunban coaching them. The Monado was no where in sight, but he realized there would be little use for it in training. Shulk had already mastered the Monado on his own and in doing so, had asked for a world without Gods. It had been a wise decision on his part.

Perhaps the time would come when he could address Shulk alone about the situation he was placed in. There had rarely been a case before where Shulk had not heeded his advice. Whether the world was occupied by Gods or not - there was still an inevitable fate chained to this new world; he could feel it.

Sooner or later it would have to be done.

In time, an opportunity would arise where Shulk and himself could discuss his future plans. This moment in time however, did not feel appropriate. Making a final decision, he turned to leave the area. As he turned his back towards his past comrades, he heard the echo of clashing swords stop momentarily.

"Oi, watch it Shulk! I could have just sliced off your head a minute ago! You can't stop like that in the middle of training - what are you looking at?"

He could tell it was Reyn's voice that had just reprimanded Shulk. From the corner of his eye, he knew Shulk was staring down the path, the path he had trailed just moments before. He smiled to himself when he heard Shulk's reply.

"Sorry Reyn. I thought I just saw...Alvis."

Hangovers were always fun.

At least, that was Melia's first reaction - as she awoke to a pounding head. Feeling slightly sick, she turned over, pulling the bed covers over her head. "How much alcohol did I end up drinking last night?" she thought warily, trying to recall the events of the previous night. Nothing seemed to come to her - only bits and fragments. Shulk's horrendous dance moves. Reyn's continuous flirting with Sharla. Tequila shots with Fiora. Vanea flirting it up with Dunban. More tequila shots with Fiora. Meeting Dunban outside of the tavern…

At that moment, everything regarding Dunban and herself from the previous night came flooding back to her memory. Quickly, she sat up, gazing around wildly for him. Dunban was nowhere to be seen. Immediately she felt guilt and anger wash through her, the anger more prominent. Why had Dunban left her alone?

Melia sighed, running a hand through her hair. Regardless of whether he was there or not, she still could not believe the events of the previous night. For so long she had wondered whether it was even possible at all. Dunban had never really insinuated anything between them since they'd be reacquainted at Colony 9, so why had he done it? The realization seemed a bit too obvious and she felt a sinking sensation in her stomach. Dunban had been drunk - everyone had known that. Somehow, Melia felt convinced that it had not been entirely what he had been drinking that had made him act the way he had.

After redressing, Melia flopped back onto the bed, too tired to think anymore - and also because all of her previous thoughts seemed to be making her headache worse.

There was a knock on the bedroom door. "Who is it?" Melia answered, irritated. However, the voice on the other side was one she hadn't expected.

"It's Sharla!"

Melia acknowledged this, disappointed that it wasn't Dunban. Where the hell was he? Maybe Sharla knows what's going on Melia thought, determined to figure out where Dunban was. "Come in!" she called, and Sharla entered the room, two huge martini glasses in her hands.

"Hey Melia, how are you feeling?" Sharla asked, as she set the two glasses down on the bedside stand. Melia gazed over at her with half opened eyes. "I'm feeling really out of it this morning."

Sharla chuckled at Melia's statement, sitting on the side of her bed. "Actually, its 2:00pm in the afternoon - you've been sleeping for a while." Melia grimaced at this information. Clearly, I was more drunk than I thought, she analyzed, rather unimpressed with her own behaviour. Sharla seemed to take notice of Melia's irritability.

"Here , I brought something for you - my best remedy for any hangover." Sharla offered Melia one of the martini glasses that she'd brought in. It was filled with a thick, icy, lime green mixture, almost like a slushie.

"What is it?" Melia asked her, gazing curiously at the glass.

"Frozen margarita mix without the alcohol- trust me, it's really quite good." Sharla smiled. Melia, trusting this statement, took a sip of the mixture - realizing that it was indeed, really good."So, can you remember anything from last night - at all?" Sharla asked her.

Melia set her glass down. "I do remember some details - some more prominent than others, some of which I would rather forget..." Sharla noticed that Melia had an otherworldly look in her eyes as she trailed off from her statement, almost as if she was slightly seething.

What could have made her feel this way? Sharla thought. The last time she'd remembered seeing Melia from the previous night was when they had been talking to Dunban and Vanea by the bar. At that time, Melia had seemed perfectly fine, other than the fact that she'd been drunk. Sharla decided to approach the situation with caution. "Is everything okay, Melia?"

Melia knew that she hadn't exactly been subtle with her emotions and it was no surprise to her when Sharla asked the question. "Everything is fine, Sharla. I'm just angry with myself for being overly drunk and getting so carried away last night, it is not in my nature." The answer was partly true, but Melia knew she couldn't explain everything to Sharla just yet. Sharla nodded at her answer.

"I see, I feel the same way." Sharla said, with a half smile. "Because of last night, Reyn and I ended up in a row this morning about what went on, but we've resolved things - despite the fact that my co-worker Gareth ended up in the infirmary." At this, Sharla couldn't help but chuckle to herself, and Melia smiled. "But my main point - don't beat yourself up over what might have happened last night. It was Dunban's birthday - we all had an excuse to celebrate! " Melia nodded at this, knowing what Sharla had said made sense.

"I understand." Melia agreed finally. "You're right - I really can't take back what happened last night. I just need to find answers, and if possible, the truth about recent circumstances."

Sharla raised an eyebrow. "Circumstances...about a certain someone?"

Melia paused before answering. "Yes. It's quite complicated." Sharla smiled encouragingly. "I've been through too many complicated situations to pass up the chance to help - do you want to talk about it?"

Melia remembered when Sharla had sidetracked Vanea the previous night so that she could talk to Dunban. It was clear to her that Sharla already knew about herself and Dunban - why else would she have done it? If her assumption was correct, then telling Sharla about her trouble with Dunban seemed a little more effortless. Melia also remembered that she had entrusted Sharla with the secret that she had liked Shulk - this had been a while back when they had all been comrades set on defeating Zanza and restoring peace to the Bionis and Mechonis. Perhaps it was time that she could trust someone with what was going on in her life.

"Last night a few things happened...between Dunban and myself." As Melia said this, Sharla smiled calmly, showing no strong sign of surprise. "But to the main point, I'm just confused about the way he's been acting towards me."

"Ahhh I see, I figured something was going on between you two!" Sharla spoke truthfully, grinning. Then she paused before saying "Whatever happened to your crush on Shulk? If you don't mind me asking, that is."

"Well, Shulk is in a relationship with Fiora - but aside from that, it almost feels like they were meant to be together. I mean, everyone insinuated that ever since I first met all of you. They have ties that I don't think anyone could come close to severing... and I just figured that Shulk had little interest towards me compared to her. " Melia trailed off, remembering the feelings that she used to have for Shulk. In the past, Shulk had treated her like a sister - and she had genuinely thought that Shulk cared for her in another way. That was, until herself and Fiora had gotten close. Truthfully, it was until she had gotten to know Fiora that Melia understood that she had no chance with Shulk. The way Fiora spoke of Shulk, the way she carried herself - her strength, willpower and slight stubbornness all seemed to overshadow her qualities. Plus - time seemed to play a big role in their relationship, as Shulk had known Fiora basically all his life. Even in the present, she noticed the way that Shulk looked at Fiora sometimes - that alone told Melia that she wasn't the one for him.

Sharla took all of this in, a little surprised. "That makes sense I guess. Anyway, your situation is about Dunban - why are you confused about the way he's been acting? " she asked.

Melia looked uncertain. "It's a long story. We got together a while back, at the time when Galahad Fortress was destroyed and all of us were separated on the Fallen Arm. Ever since that time, he's never really tried -" At that moment, she was interrupted by a distant conversation, coming from outside of the room...

"I told you - if I found Dunban majorly hung over today you two would be responsible!"

"Fiora, calm down! Dunban's a grown man, he can take care of himself! He's fine!"

"He is not okay - don't try and convince me! Anyway, I'm looking for Shulk, do you know where he is?"

"I dunno, I was training with him this morning - I think he went home."

"Okay, thanks. And Reyn...just how drunk was I last night? Or do I even want to know?"

"...You were so wasted last night, we need to get you out more often!"


"Okay, okay, I'm sorry - you asked! ...Still, you were hilarious though, you kept asking Shulk whether he was drunk-"

"Okay, I get the point - I'm sorry I even asked to begin with! I'm going to Shulk's place, maybe I'll see you later."

"Alright, see you Fiora."

There was a moment before the bedroom door opened and Reyn stood in the entrance . "Reyn, what are you doing here?" Sharla said, straightening. Reyn grinned. "Just came over to visit Melia, didn't know both of you were here." As he approached her bed, Reyn noticed Melia looked extremely tired. "Hungover?" he asked simply. Melia nodded, and Reyn chuckled. "Hey, I don't blame you - had a massive hangover this morning, but last night was unreal. Wouldn't take it back at all." Sharla gave him a small smile, and he returned the gesture.

"Anyway, main reason I'm here - ran into Dunban earlier, told me to tell Melia to meet him at his place later." At this statement, Melia and Sharla exchanged glances. Reyn noticed this. "Did I miss something?" He asked jokingly. Melia shook her head. Slowly, she pulled herself from the bed.

"I think I should leave now anyway, I've been asleep here for far too long." Melia stated conclusively. Sharla looked back at her. "Looks like we'll have to postpone our conversation for another time."

Melia smiled. "Yes, I look forward to it." As she made her way to the door, she grasped her head slightly from her headache.

"You okay to find your way back yourself?" Reyn asked. Melia nodded. "I'm not a child - I can handle myself." she said, a little defensively. Reyn smirked at her answer ."The fresh air will help." Sharla added.

Melia nodded and waved as she closed the door behind her, leaving Sharla and Reyn in the bedroom alone.

Reyn looked back at Sharla once Melia was gone. "She seems a little irritated - she okay?"

Sharla nodded. "She's not used to this, but she seems fine. It almost seems like this is a little new to her though - I don't think she spent too much time partying or drinking in Alcamoth."

Reyn grinned. "Yeah, the High Entia don't seem the type to do that kind of stuff anyway. She'll get used to it if she plans on stayin here longer with us." Sharla couldn't help but smile at Reyn's comment. "So, you had news for Melia, any news for me?" Sharla asked. Reyn paused for a moment before answering.

"Yeah. I visited the infirmary - there was a message from Gareth, and his dying wish was that a guy named Reyn should take his co-worker Sharla out for lunch today." Reyn had a huge grin plastered onto his face.

"Reyn!" Sharla looked at him sternly. Reyn put up both of his hands defensively, pretending to look alarmed. "Okay, I'm sorry! It was just a joke." He paused, then added, "Still, I always find it amusing when you're riled up. It's cute."

Sharla gave him a disbelieving look. Then, a small smile started to form at the corners of her lips. "So, you like it when I'm riled up?" She said this almost a little too seductively, as she pushed Reyn gently until his back hit the bed, her legs straddling him. Reyn looked up, thoroughly surprised by Sharla's actions, and the fact that she was able to pin him down rather efficiently. He answered her wordlessly, flipping her so that she was laying on the bed instead. Sharla looked up at him, surprised and vexed that she'd been outmaneuvered. Reyn grinned at this. As he lowered himself to her, his words were quiet and seductive as he spoke into her ear. "If you don't take up my offer, I could have you trapped here all day."

Sharla felt a shiver run down her spine, her breathing increasing and blood rushing to her cheeks. She could feel Reyn trailing kisses down her throat softly. "I think... I like that idea." she stated breathlessly, her back arching as his fingers gently trailed under her shirt. At her answer, Reyn smirked. His hand traveled further until he caught hold of her breast, gently massaging it and later, pinching at her nipples. Sharla gasped at his touch and he chuckled, his lips then finding her own…

...and it was a bit later when the front desk received complaints that certain occupants of a certain room of the tavern were being 'overly loud'. It was a solid half hour before some of the attendants finally plucked up the courage to approach the door and knock, having been embarrassed from the sounds coming from the other side. After being asked to leave the tavern for 'obstructing the peace', this gave Reyn yet another excuse to take Sharla out to lunch anyway...

As Melia proceeded to leave the tavern, she barely noticed the rowdiness of the afternoon customers that occupied the bar. She was determined to find Dunban and ask for an explanation as to why he'd left her alone - and better yet, why last night had even happened in the first place. There was also a part of her that felt nauseous, her headache not helping the situation. Remembering that Reyn had told her to meet Dunban at his place - Melia left the tavern, heading for the direction of the house.

The streets of Colony 9 were rowdy as people flocked from all directions in the afternoon heat. Melia squinted in the sunlight, trying to get a look at where she was going. There was a large crowd building in the middle of the street. Perplexed, Melia moved through the crowd, trying to get a better look at what was going on. Finally, she was able to make her way over to the circle of people, who were all talking excitedly to one another. Craning her neck to get a better look, she finally managed to get to the front of the crowd and gasped. There was a huge group of Nopon proceeding through the town greeting the townsfolk, led by Chief Dunga. Melia immediately scanned the Nopon faces until she found the one she was looking for. "Riki!" she exclaimed, waving her hands above her head, trying to get his attention.

Riki finally noticed that he was being addressed as the crowd moved, making way for the rest of the Nopon to proceed to town. "Melly?" he asked, his face breaking out into a huge grin, his eyes lighting up. "Mellyyy! Riki is finally reunited with his old sister-pon!" Before Melia knew it, Riki was in her arms, embracing her. Melia couldn't help but giggle at this, and she too gave him a hug. She'd always had a soft spot for Riki, and she'd gotten along rather well with him on their previous journey.

"It's great to see you, Riki!" Melia smiled, once Riki hopped out of her arms and onto the ground. "How was the trip over to the Colony with the rest of your clan?"

"Trip was good, though Riki very tired...and Riki very hungryy!" Riki stated, with a rather pouty/tired look on his face. He began to suddenly glance around, scanning the other faces of the crowd, as if looking for someone else. "Where's Riki's other Hom-Hom friends? Riki not see them with Melly!"

Melia smiled. "Everyone's scattered around the Colony - if I had known you were coming today, I would have arranged for the rest of our group to be here. Shulk and Fiora are probably at home, I just left Sharla and Reyn at the tavern, and I'm heading over to Dunban's house now - you're more than welcome to come along."

Riki kept himself aloft - slightly above the ground. "Ohhh, Riki understands. Tomorrow, Riki will arrange to see all his Hom-Hom friends when he can! For now, Riki will stay with Melly."

Melia nodded. "Will Chief Dunga and the others mind if you leave?" Riki shook his head. "Riki is free to do what he likes - Nopon will not even know that Riki is gone!" With that statement, Melia and Riki began to leave the crowded streets, making their way through the Colony towards the town outskirts.

"So Riki, how is everything back at Makna Woods?" Melia questioned, as the two walked alongside one another. "How is Oka and your children?"

Riki chuckled at the question. "Riki's wifeypon and littlepon do good in Makna Woods. Oka expecting new littlepon very soon! Riki no owe any monies to village, so Riki lives without debt finally! Aaaand Riki is officially the greatest "Legendary Heropon" of Makna Woods for helping Shulk and other Hom-Hom's fight Zanza - Chief tell Riki, and Chief always right!"

Melia took all of this in with a smile, a little perplexed at the fact that Riki had mentioned that Oka was having another child. Not wanting to think about the possibility of raising 12 littlepon, Melia looked back at Riki. "I'm glad to hear Riki, sounds like you're doing enormously well. Congratulations to both you and Oka!"

Riki grinned widely, nodding. "Riki thanks Melly! Makna Woods is good, but Riki gets lonely without his friends sometimes. Riki is glad he made decision to come and visit! " Melia nodded at the Heropon, as the two continued to Dunban's place.

Melia ended up stopping by a street vendor to purchase water for both herself and Riki, since the day had become increasingly hotter. As they continued on away from the troop of Nopon, Riki addressed Melia. "So, Riki wants to know, when will Melly and Dundun have littlepon of their own?"

Not expecting this to come from Riki(let alone anyone) Melia choked on her water, sputtering for a few moments and turning away from the Heropon. "Is Melly ok?" Riki asked with concern, trying to get a look at Melia, who was trying to recover from the question. "What...what makes you ask such a question, Riki?" Melia finally stated hoarsely, knowing slightly where this was headed.

"Riki thought Melly and Dundun were together, like Oka with Riki! Riki thought Dundun kept his promise to Melly from night on Fallen Arm!" Riki stayed afloat in front of Melia, looking for an answer.

The Fallen Arm. Melia immediately remembered that Riki had been there with her and Dunban when all of the comrades had been split from one another during the fall of Galahad Fortress. She remembered that Riki had known about what had happened between both herself and Dunban. "Fantastic, so Riki thinks that Dunban and I are a couple now? Is he implying marriage!?" She thought, half amused, half perplexed by the insinuation. Then she remembered what Riki had just said. "Wait just a minute...Dunban made a promise to me that day?"

Riki looked a little confused himself, as if trying to think. "Dundun tell Melly that later after war, he will tell Shulk and other Hom-Hom friends about what happened!"

Melia gazed at Riki, wondering why it was that the Nopon remembered this."Riki, Dunban and I are just...friends. We are nothing more than that."

At this, Riki hovered around Melia, as if analyzing her. Finally, he landed in front of her, his eyes mischievous. "Riki does not believe Melly! Riki knows more about situation than Melly knows!"

"Well, that seems like a pretty high and mighty insinuation." Melia indignantly responded with folded her hands, wondering why it was exactly that Riki didn't believe her.

"Riki not insinuate, Riki knows!" Riki insisted, his eyes sparkling. "Dundun is daddypon of Shulk and Fiora, but to Melly, Dundun act differently. Riki see Dundun help Melly many times during many battles. Dundun do small things for Melly. Small things, but big meaning."

Melia stood at a loss for words. Riki always managed to surprise her with the things that he did or observed, but this was just something different entirely. In the beginning when she had first met the Heropon, Melia hadn't even really acknowledged that he was a part of their team. Then things had changed, she trusted him and realized he too, was as much as an asset as much as everyone else. Dunban had told her once - "You'd be surprised at what Riki is capable of, I can assure you - he is quite knowledgeable." Melia was about to question Riki further until they heard blatant shouts coming from behind them.

"Heropon! Heropon Riki! Where are you?"

A group of scattered Nopon (including Chief Dunga) seemed to have been following them the whole time. Chief Dunga was the first to approach. "Melia of the High Entia, good to see you again!" he addressed Melia, nodding at her.

"It is a pleasure to see you too, Chief Dunga." Melia nodded.

The chief turned to Riki. "Riki seems to have wandered off where he was not supposed to! Riki, you must return to the Nopon Clan! We are all waiting in town!"

Melia turned to Riki, a little surprised. "I thought you said they wouldn't mind if you came with me?"

Riki gave her a guilty look, Melia realizing that Riki had known that he wasn't allowed to wander off at all. "Uh..Riki might have forgotten at some point! Riki will return to Nopon, but will visit Melly and other friends soon!"

Watching a group of Nopon half pulling and half dragging Riki back into the Colony for misbehaving, Melia waved goodbye. As she turned to leave, Riki's words seemed to echo through her head. "Riki see Dundun help Melly many times during many battles. Dundun do small things for Melly. Small things, but big meaning." Of course, those were observations Riki had identified from the past, but Melia felt he did have some validity to his words. It was true that Dunban had been one of the people who had constantly seemed to help her in and out of battle situations - but then again, Dunban had been sort of a fatherly figure to all of the group back then. Even when she wanted to doubt Riki's words, Melia couldn't help but feel slightly reassured that somehow...Dunban still cared for her in the same way.

The door was slightly ajar to Dunban/Fiora's house as she finally reached the house, but Melia knew immediately something was wrong. For one - the place seemed too quiet, as if no one was home. There were two wine glasses on the floor and one of them was cracked. Also, the whole sitting room seemed a bit messy, which was slightly off since Melia knew Fiora was prone to keeping everything neat. Melia gazed around, wondering what could have happened. Had Dunban or Fiora invited people over? Was there a fight? Had someone broken in or something? Her last idea sounded silly as Melia thought about it, but determined to figure out the truth, Melia headed for the staircase realizing that there was no one on the bottom floor.

Then she heard it. There were voices coming from one of the rooms on the upper floor. It almost sounded like slight shouting, but it was muffled. The voices sounded unfamiliar to her. Cautiously, she made her way up the stairs, staff in hand. If someone was stealing from the place, what exactly would they be after? The Monado was currently at Shulk's place or the lab, unless Dunban had it - which is highly unlikely she thought. Could there be anyone after Fiora and Dunban - anyone out looking to rob them or kill them? Melia realized she was starting to panic as she made her way up further - the voices were getting louder. Melia felt herself breathing hard.

Whatever this was - she was ready for it. Clenching her staff and ready to attack, she finally reached the door where the voices could be heard. Pressing her ear up against the door, Melia then realized exactly what was going on…and then wished she never had.

It was a second later before the door burst open unexpectedly and Shulk was standing in front of her - naked.

"Oh sh-! Melia?!" Shulk stopped himself from swearing as he covered his mouth with one hand and something else with the other, his face turning red as he quickly turned away from embarrassment and shock as he retreated back into the room.

"Shulk?" Melia looked as shocked as he did, realizing a few seconds later what exactly was going on, as he quickly pulled in the door, embarrassed by his state of dress. It didn't help the situation any more when Melia heard another voice from the room speaking.

"Shulk? What happened? Is someone else outside?" It was Fiora.

"I...we...its Melia." Shulk finally said breathlessly, running a hand through his hair. There was silence for a few moments. To relieve herself of extreme awkwardness, Melia was almost down the stairs before she heard Fiora behind her.

"Melia, wait!" Fiora called after her, sounding a bit sympathetic. Melia stopped, half turning to see Fiora - fully clothed(haphazardly though…), behind her.

Melia wasn't sure what to even say as Fiora stood on the stairwell. "I apologize. I...Reyn told me you were at Shulk's and I had no idea…" she trailed off, still rather embarrassed about the whole situation.

Fiora shook her head, a little flushed herself. "I'm sorry you had to walk in on that…" Pausing, she added "Dunban stopped by here earlier, he wanted to let you know that he was called back into town."

At this information, things were a little less awkward. "Thanks, Fiora." Melia stated this as genuinely as she could before exiting the house, still feeling shocked having seen Shulk partially naked - and the fact that she'd assumed that someone had been stealing from the house although it had been the complete opposite. "Wonderful, just brilliant." She thought sarcastically, as she left the house. First, she'd woken up with a massive hangover. Then intruding on Shulk/Fiora having sex. Next, it would be her on a wild-goose chase to find Dunban. Reyn had told her Dunban was at the house, now it was Fiora telling her that Dunban was back in town again. "I don't think this day could possibly get any worse." Melia thought rather frustrated, as she made her way down the path and back towards the direction she had just came from.

Unfortunately for Melia, this was just the beginning of the series of unfortunate events that would unfold during the same day...

First, it had started out as a casual conversation, but Melia realized after a while that she was going to get a lot more information about certain matters than she had bargained for. Upon her return to the downtown area of the Colony, Melia had run into Linada, the former healer of the Machina headquarters and good friend of Vanea's. Since Linada and the other machina soldiers were planning to stay awhile in the Colony, they had all settled in at the nearest hotel, enjoying the nightlife and everything else the Colony had to offer. Linada in particular, was working alongside Sharla and Melia at the infirmary and all three of them were acquainted quite well.

It was somewhat of a surprise when Linada had invited Melia to dinner that night, along with two of her other machina friends. Since she still hadn't found Dunban as yet, Melia decided that dinner wouldn't be a bad idea. Vanea hadn't made an appearance, which Melia thought to be strange. Still, she found it to be a decent break from the rest of the day - there was good food, wine, and the conversation took her mind off of everything else she had been unfortunate to encounter throughout the past few hours.

"So Melia, how have you been since the last time we saw each other at the infirmary? Have you gotten some time off?" Linada addressed Melia, taking a small sip of her wine.

Melia nodded. "I've gotten a couple of days off, but that's only temporary. I plan to work all of next week."

Linada smiled. "Good, we'll be needing you back - it's been quiet without you or Sharla."

After a bit more conversation, one of Linada's other friends, Eleqa, spoke up. "Where's Vanea by the way, is she still working tonight?"

"Yes, she couldn't make it - she needed to sort out something at work, something with one of her co-workers. Actually -" Linada turned to Melia, "She's with your friend, Dunban."

Immediately Melia felt her body go slightly rigid at this information. "I see, I think Dunban mentioned that they worked with one another. It is quite a shame she had to miss out." she stated casually, but inwardly unsympathetic.

Linada shrugged. "She's been working hard lately. I think it has something to do with more repairs up at the village - she mentioned that herself and Dunban might eventually go back and work there for a couple of months."

Melia felt heartbeat increase dramatically. Before she could respond, Linada's other friend, Vronik, spoke first. "Or maybe that's just an excuse for her and Dunban to get some time alone." She said this with a smirk, and Linada and Eleqa laughed at her remark.

Noticing how Melia looked slightly confused at what was going on, Linada turned to her. "The two were dating back when Dunban was working at the headquarters."

At this information, Melia felt two main emotions hit her. One of confusion, as she tried to process what she had just been told. The other, jealousy. Normally she was hardly jealous of anything or anyone with a few exceptions - but this moment definitely seemed to be one of those exceptions. "Dunban never told me anything about this…" she thought, rather angrily.

Then all sorts of questions filled her mind. Had Dunban just used her? Was he still with Vanea? What had happened back at Mechonis between them? Did she mean anything to him at all - had they had sex all for nothing? Feeling her anger rise at all of the questions that swarmed her mind, she turned to Linada.

"I had no idea." she stated coolly. "Are they still together?" Linada didn't seem to pick up on her disdainful tone.

"Vanea mentioned something about them breaking up due to distance issues, but I'm pretty sure they're still together." Eleqa piped up, looking to Linada for a confirmation.

Linada nodded. "That could be true, Vanea hasn't really told me anything about it lately. Still, they are a perfect couple in my opinion - I wouldn't be surprised if they got married - people just know sometimes." Melia acknowledged this statement as she took a sip of her wine quietly.

Vronik added, "Do you remember that one time Vanea told us that time when she showed Dunban Miquol's private headquarters? I'm surprised she did that - none of us are even allowed."

"They probably used the place for sex, why else?" Linada joked with a smirk, and both of the other machina females giggled.

Melia sat in silence between all of the rest of the conversation, downing her wine almost too quickly. After a second glass, she finally proceeded to get up, thank Linada for dinner and called for her bill. As she turned to leave she felt nothing but anger wash over her. Dunban had hidden quite a lot from her already - she'd had no idea that Vanea had dated him. Had he found what he was looking for in her?

Then, she felt something else come over her. Eleqa hadn't known whether Dunban and Vanea were still in a relationship, and maybe they were not any longer. There were only two people who knew the truth - Vanea and Dunban. Melia made up her mind, determined to figure out what was going on. She would get the truth from Dunban. "I, Melia Antiqua, am not a fool." She thought, angrily. "If Dunban has been playing me - I will figure out the truth one way or another."

The night was mild and the streetlamps were her only source of light as she made her way through the darkened Colony, but Melia couldn't shake the conversation she had just had with Linada and the others from her mind. She had always thought that Dunban and Vanea had been close -but the fact that they had been in a relationship was news to her. Dunban hadn't mentioned anything about Vanea before, but Melia knew there was more to the situation than she assumed. The one thing she had always thought she'd had with Dunban was a mutual trust - and it was their trust that she feared she would lose if Dunban was indeed, with Vanea.

The idea of herself and Dunban being together seemed to be devoured by the thought of Vanea and Dunban together, much like flies to rotting meat.

"Enough." she told herself firmly. "All of these thoughts are simply a waste of time until I know the truth." Reassuring herself, she walked past a dimly lit alleyway...and then she saw them.

Dunban was standing with his back against the wall, Vanea facing him. Melia could see Vanea laughing quietly, as she gently placed her arms around Dunban's neck, her eyes matching his as he looked down at her. Melia wanted to call out to them to make her presence known, but for some strange reason, she couldn't find her voice. Pressing up on him, Vanea spoke, but Melia could not hear what exactly she had said to him. Whatever she had said made Dunban smile. Vanea pressed up against him even further. Her lips hovered under his. At this, Melia turned, not wanting to watch the scene proceed. Also because she could feel tears coming to her eyes, but she held them back with her anger.

Her assumptions had proved to be true. Dunban had played her all along - he had been with Vanea. He had never wanted her. The night they had had sex had happened only because Dunban had been drinking…

Melia knew there was only one thing to do. She needed time alone. To think, to contemplate and to recover. And to try to get over her feelings for Dunban.

There was only one person at that particular moment who she only considered talking to or being with for the time being...and that person, oddly enough, was Shulk.

As Melia made her way to the outskirts of the Colony and headed for Shulk's house instead of Fiora's , she finally let a couple of tears fall. Out of anger or sadness - she didn't know which. Shulk had always been there for her previously - and he was the first person she'd thought to consult. When Melia finally reached Shulk's home, she was about to knock when the realization kicked in, almost too suddenly.

The dream she'd had about Dunban and Vanea together... had been real.

Dunban was starting to feel concerned.

Days continued to pass, but he could tell that something was afoot. The last time he'd seen Shulk and all of the others was when all of them had planned his surprise party at the tavern. It had almost been two weeks since then, and Dunban rarely saw any of them around the Colony, let alone at home. He'd seen Shulk around but interestingly enough, instead of Shulk being his normal, cheery self - he'd seemed slightly off. Sharla had seemed a bit passive at times when he would pass the infirmary. Fiora worried him the most. She wasn't too out of character, but he could tell that something bothered her. On his way home from work, he would spot Shulk and Fiora together at times just sitting and talking, but they always looked slightly serious or concerned. Also, he hadn't seen Melia in ages, perhaps because she worked late. The only person who seemed to be acting normal was Reyn, and Dunban had decided to take it upon himself to talk to Reyn about the situation when the right opportunity arose.

It was one night after work when Dunban found Reyn leaving the downtown area of the Colony. Dunban decided that he wouldn't get the opportunity to talk to Reyn again and so, approached him.

"Dunban! What's goin on man?" Reyn asked, as he noticed Dunban approaching, slowing so that himself and Dunban could walk alongside one another.

"Not too much, I was just about to head home." Dunban admitted truthfully, as they walked together. "How's everything on your side?"

"Pretty good, now that Sharla and I are official." Reyn smirked, relaying the news. Dunban chuckled at this remark, although this was new to him.

"About time. How's Sharla taking it?"

Reyn ground his right knuckle into his left hand, a sign of uncertainty. "She seems cool with it for now, but things could change. It's been hard to see her since she's working and everything, but that's just a part of it I gotta endure."

Dunban nodded with a smile. In all honesty, he was glad that Reyn and Sharla had finally taken the step. After all of their comrades had returned to the Colony, Reyn had consulted both Dunban and Shulk about matters regarding Sharla. Dunban smiled inwardly as he remembered this, partially because his advice to Reyn had been the same all of the time - gradual persistence was key, but only the right amount . After all, Sharla had gone through a lot on their previous journey - the kidnapping of Juju, Xord attacking Colony 6 and most of all, the death of her fiancé Gadolt. Even though she and Reyn were presently together, Dunban knew it had probably been tough for her to put her past behind her and move on.

Reyn interrupted his thoughts. "So, got any plans for tonight? Shulk and I were gonna go to the tavern for a bit."

Dunban shook his head. "As much as I want to take you up on that offer, I'm working early tomorrow."

"True, but you've shown up to work hungover before and you said your boss didn't give a shit." Reyn grinned.

Dunban chuckled. "Being hungover at work doesn't exactly build on my credentials, and I've been told that some employees may be let go of quite soon - I'd rather not be one of them."

"Fair enough." Reyn agreed. "Still, woulda been better if you came with us."

Dunban took in this comment with silence. Then, he decided to ask his crucial question. "Speaking of which, Reyn - how's Shulk been?"

Reyn looked surprised. "Shulk? Same as usual, always see him around with Fiora - but that's normal. Why, what's up?"

"It's not very often that I see him anymore." Dunban admitted. "We talked a few times last week but every time I've stopped by his place this week there's been no answer."

Reyn looked confused. "I dunno. I see him around - on and off doing whatever. Hasn't really changed his schedule or anything, other than the fact that he's spending more time with Fiora."

"I see." Dunban stated, slightly confused himself. Both of he and Reyn stopped walking, as they were to head in different directions to get to each of their destinations within the residential area.

"If you have time tonight, come over." Reyn said. Dunban nodded. "See ya!" Reyn waved, and Dunban raised a hand as he watched Reyn walk off in the direction of Shulk's. Making his way over to his place, Dunban unlocked the door and let himself in.

The house was illuminated but quiet, but he could hear the sound of the kettle - Fiora was probably making tea. Undoing his cloak, he headed for the kitchen. Fiora was sitting in a robe at the kitchen table, reading. When she looked up at him, Dunban knew he was in for it. In for something - but he had no idea what.

"Hey. What are you doing up so late?" He asked, setting his cloak down and started to undo his jacket. Fiora looked up at him as she slowly took a sip of something inside of a mug. "We need to talk."

Dunban raised an eyebrow. "Alright." Throwing his jacket onto the nearby sofa, he sat at the table with her. "What's wrong?"

Fiora sighed. Then she stood, walking towards the kitchen counter, reaching for the kettle. "You've been keeping a lot from me…"

She said this with her back turned to him. It was Dunban's turn to look exasperated. "Fiora, what's going on? Speak simply. "

Fiora made her second cup of tea rather slowly, her movements methodical. Finally, she half turned her head at him. "I'm talking about Melia, Dunban."

At this, Dunban knew instantly what could have been going on - the reason why Fiora had been acting so strangely, why he hadn't been seeing Melia around, or Shulk. Still, he couldn't be too sure until he found out what Fiora was after. "What do you want to know?"

Fiora returned to the table. "Dunban, you never told me that you and Melia were close. What I want to know is, why not?"

"Has she spoken to you about this?" Dunban asked. Fiora laughed at this, but it was a disdainful laugh. "Obviously. You've been keeping this all to yourself, you should have said something."

At this, it was Dunban's turn to chuckle disdainfully. "Fiora, I have nothing to hide. I'm not sure what Melia's been telling you, but whatever she has - its not something that needs to be addressed -"

"Dunban." Fiora interjected. "Melia's been acting strange ever since she came back to Colony 9. She was hardly ever happy, until that is - you came back from Mechonis. To be honest, she hasn't really said anything, but I can tell that she...cares about you a lot more than you think. But to get to the point - Melia was at Shulk's the other day and she was clearly upset about something regarding you. She never told us what though, so I thought I'd ask you."

Dunban looked perplexed. After a moment, he spoke. "I don't recall anything that I did that could have made her upset, Fiora." Inwardly, the only thing Dunban could think of was the fact that she had never met him the day he'd asked her to. "If she was upset, she should have consulted me."

Fiora rolled her eyes. "Maybe she thought it was best to avoid you, she can be quite independent at times. But anyway, what's been going on between you two? Were you two in a...relationship or something?"

Dunban shook his head. "No."

Fiora looked at him disbelievingly. "But you are interested in her, am I right?"

Dunban looked down. "Fiora, Melia and I are just friends. She is talented, intelligent, and can compete far beyond her capabilities for her age, but she is young. A relationship between the two of us is not suitable. Think sensibly."

"No Dunban, that's exactly it. It is sensible - you're throwing things way out of proportion." Fiora argued. "At this point I don't even think age matters to her, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that she is willing to be with you. Sharla told me that she always speaks highly of you, and after she told me about the time you both spent with each other, why are you pushing her away?"

Dunban ran a hand through his hair. This conversation was getting out of hand. "Fiora, I have been simply trying to be reasonable. Melia is young - she needs someone who is far more capable and of her age. I think I'm past that stage in my life, on top of work and the other priorities I have in my life at the present time, I can't afford to waste time on such things." After a moment, he inwardly regretted saying the last sentence.

Fiora was silent for a moment. When she looked up at him, Dunban saw no mercy in her eyes. "Well that's it, isn't it. You're just too preoccupied with everything else to even care about what she thinks. I get that you're independent Dunban, and that isn't a bad thing. But you're also secluding yourself not just from her, but everyone. You're not past that stage in your life, you can never be too old to try. Plus, I can't think of anyone who'd be more capable or suited. " There was slight silence, as both said nothing. Then, Fiora spoke again, a bit softer.

"I care a lot about you Dunban. With your accident, with everything that we've gone through - you don't have to prove anymore to us than you already have. Your "priorities" are taking over your life, you're so prone to being the guy that does everything in this Colony...but it doesn't have to always be that way. Are you happy living this way? Wouldn't you rather it be different in some way?"

Dunban was again, silent. He knew what Fiora was saying, but it set him on edge. "Fiora. I am doing this for us, not for myself. I have always been doing this for us. Do not mistake my priorities for blindness. I am doing what I do because I have to. You're being immature, and one day you'll understand as I do. Right now, I do not need to try and convince you. "

At this, Fiora had nothing to say. Finally, she got up, saying ,"Well, I guess it doesn't matter anyway. She's gone."

Dunban felt himself go rigid. "Gone?"

Fiora still looked angry. "Yes. Melia left Colony 9 yesterday. She's back at Alcamoth now, she said it was "where she needed to be." So it doesn't even matter anymore…"

As she turned to head to the 2nd floor of the house, she added, "And times, people come into your life when you need them the most. I may be wrong won't understand what you have until you lose it. Melia cares about you, and it is the right time...don't lose what you've been given." She turned then, making her way into her bedroom and quietly shutting the door.

Dunban sat, still trying to process what he'd been told. Melia had left without even telling him. That alone sent a clear message to him - she didn't want anything to do with him. He remembered Fiora's words. "Melia cares about you, and it is the right time...don't lose what you've been given." Frustrated and angry, he pondered what Fiora had told him previously. It was clear she had issues with his way of life. Could he just abandon all he had known and learn to live with the fact that he could have a new life - a relationship...marriage, a family? For as long as he remembered, he had always been working, teaching, fighting/training and supporting Fiora - and these were all important aspects of his life that he could not live without.

Then he reminisced back. The fallen arm. The many conversations that they'd had together before defeating Zanza. Returning to Bionis and seeing her. The dock, his birthday celebration. The way she rationalized, was defensive and quick to retaliate. The way she carried herself. The way she looked at him. The way she smiled.

As all of these thoughts of Melia came to his mind, Dunban couldn't bear it any longer. Taking his frustration out on the wall, his fist collided with the wood. He let the pain sink in for a minute. Bracing his other fist up against the wall, he let his head fall.

He knew he couldn't deny it any longer. Fiora was right, except he knew he had lost his chance.

Melia was indeed, gone.

Author's Note: Okay, okay. You're allowed to hate me for this chapter - but I DID say it was a big turnaround! Yes, Melia caught Dunban cheating - or did she? Aaaand Melia peaced - but for what reason exactly? I believe the next chapter - again - will be the overall shocker to all those who are following this story :P The only hint I can give, is that the genre of this story may be later changed to romance/adventure…and something terrible may happen to one of the main characters...

Anywho, this chapter took soooo bloody long to write. It was written in tiny sections, and at one point I had to erase everything and do it all over again, just so I could get everything right. Being the author, I can't say I was fond of this chapter just because so many bad things occurred….but there's that saying: out of the bad must come some good - aaaand that is definitely true to this story. And yea, for those of you who picked up where the title was from - good job! (The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket...anyone remember that series? :P) Also, the part about the margarita mix - seriously, my friend and I tried that stuff after being hungover, and it was the best shit everrr. Also, I know it was mentioned in the game that machina don't eat at all, so the part about Melia having dinner with Linada etc. might have sounded off - but hey, that's how the story goes!

Let me know what you thought of this chapter, reviews are always appreciated! I'm hoping the next chapter will progress infinitely faster than this one - until then, peace! :)