Thick as a Brick
By Mr Khan
The sun shown, red and fiery as it descended in the West over the horizon, casting a rainbow of reds, oranges, pinks, and purples for all of Colony 9 to see; the end of another peaceful day in the New World.
"Peaceful," Reyn snorted. "Yeah, right. Like things'll ever be peaceful with old Square-stache around." Reyn was walking over the bridge into the main entrance of the colony, after the Colonel had run he and another group of Defence Force fighters ragged in surprise all-day drills outside town. He was hungry, above all else, and looked forward to getting to Dunban's house, hoping that he had not missed the latest Fiora-cooked meal. She had returned, quite restored to her old body, about a week ago. He sniffed, catching the smell of Spicy Cabbage in the air among other things, though that was no guarantee that there was any left for him.
As he neared the end of the bridge, he spotted Sharla, who was looking out to sea and watching the sunset. She looked beautiful at dusk, a time of day perfect for her dark hair and dusky skin, though if Reyn had to admit it, she looked beautiful all the time. It didn't really matter, because he had been trying hard not to think of her that way since Gadolt had died. Reyn knew any romantic attempts on his part would just seem crass after Gadolt's sacrifice, given that Sharla found the two of them to be so similar, and he did not want to jeopardize their friendship for selfish reasons.
"Oi, Sharla!" he greeted as he passed onto the platform of Colony 9 proper.
"Hello, Reyn," Sharla replied, turning towards him with a smile.
"Did I miss dinner?"
"Yes, but Fiora set aside some for you. We didn't know when you'd get back."
"Good ol' Fiora," Reyn said. "It's like she's trying to make up for the six months of cooking she missed in that Regeneration Chamber."
"Yeah, she's making enough for all of us, and even Riki seems happy. But the seven of us have to be easier to share with than a wife and fourteen littlepon." They both laughed.
"Aye, I know he said he wanted to go home to them 'n'all, but Fiora's making it pretty hard for him to leave."
"Speaking of which, it's about time I headed back to Colony 6," Sharla said. She had sent Juju on ahead with Otharon when the latter had left a few days before. "We did a good job on getting the colony back up and running, but now they want to focus on the Mine."
"Right. They've been sayin' there's more ether than ever now that the Bionis has collapsed."
"Would you… like to come with me?" Sharla asked. "They're going to need lots of strong workers, and you're always complaining about how there's nothing for the Defense Force to do."
Reyn paused a moment; there was something strange in Sharla's voice. Almost, embarrassment? No way, it couldn't be. "Nah," he said. "The Colonel'd miss me too much if I just up'n left," he began sarcastically. "Besides, it's not hard to visit you lot now that Tephra Cave ain't in the way."
Sharla sighed, putting a hand to her forehead. "You know, you are so unbelievably thick sometimes," she said, then walked away down the street.
"Oi. What's that supposed to mean? Sharla!" Reyn yelled, but got no response from the departing woman. Presently, Reyn heard familiar, grating laughter as a short, orange ball of fluff emerged from behind a large crate nearby.
"Haha, Sharla think Reyn is dum-dum."
"What the… Riki! What were you doing back there?"
"It not important," Riki said dismissively. "What matters is Reyn being dum-dum."
"What do you mean?" Reyn growled.
"Riki remember our talk by Empty Throne in Prison Island. Reyn said he no have family, want to start one. Now Riki see Reyn turn down opportunity."
"Are you out of your mind?" Reyn barked. "She just wanted me to help Colony 6!"
"Riki sorry, I know Reyn not actually dum-dum, Reyn just not have much experience with femalepon. But Riki know. Riki know when femalepon say things, they often mean something else. One time Oka say "nothing wrong," when she mean "something very big wrong." Oka often tricky like that."
"So when Sharla said she wanted me to go "with" them, she meant as her boyfriend?"
"Riki not know. Sharla Riki's friend, but not know for as long as Oka. Not know what Sharla mean all the time."
"Then what am I supposed to do?"
"Riki not know that either. All Riki know is Reyn missing opportunity. Who know? Lots of young Hom Hom men in Colony 6."
"Oh, shove off you little furball," Reyn growled. "Now is there anything left to eat?"
"Fiora make sure Riki no eat Reyn's share, but maybe Reyn could…?"
"All right. Come on, you walking stomach," Reyn said, smiling.
"Reyn such a good friend!"
Sharla strode through the morning fog that rolled in off the sea. It was one feature of the New World that most had not adapted to, except for the Machina who were used to living near the actual ocean, but Sharla rather liked it. Fog was like the quiet beauty of Valak Mountain, except without the stinging cold, which she had definitely not liked. She went along steadily, despite being burdened with both her ether rifle and a fully-loaded traveling pack. She reached the bridge out of town, and there she found an unexpected, but welcome sight.
"Fancy seeing you here, Reyn," Sharla said coolly. "Out taking the morning air?"
It was clear that this was not Reyn's purpose at all, since he bore a traveling pack just like Sharla. "Alright, I guess I deserved that," Reyn said. "But I decided to go with you."
"Who had to tell you?" Sharla asked. "Fiora? Dunban? Or did you work it out for yourself?"
"Riki," Reyn said. "I coulda worked it out for myself, but with Gadolt n'all…" he trailed off.
"What do you mean?" Sharla asked, now sounding more sincere.
"Way back when, I thought you were just razzin' me about bein' like him, but when we met 'im and he turned out to be a really good bloke and then he died and… I mean, you loved him, right? And I was just there helpin' you through that. I mean, we all were, but you talked to me about 'im a lot more. It wouldn't be right, right? I'd just be takin' advantage, or somethin', going with you."
Reyn and Sharla looked at one another in silence for a moment. In the quiet and the fog, it seemed like they were in their own, private world. Reyn could not help but notice that the distance between them seemed to have narrowed in some time since their encounter. He was wondering what exactly was going on behind those brown eyes when Sharla broke the silence quite unexpectedly: by laughing for half a minute straight.
Reyn stood dumbstruck until she calmed herself. "Wow," she said, chuckling briefly. "You don't know how long I've been thinking that. I had no idea what to do, but I thought "If anyone will have a straight, simple answer to this, it'll be Reyn." You were always the confident one, smashing your way through any tricky moral problems with that thick skull of yours. And now I find out you've been just as stumped by all of this as I have…" she chuckled again.
"Well, if it's okay for me to give the simple answer…" Reyn said. "I like you. You're pretty, tough, and smart. Gadolt's dead, and I'm not, and I don't think he'd want you mopin' about 'im the rest of your life. Wouldn't make his death real meaningful, right?"
Sharla laughed again. "Now there's the Reyn I've come to know," she said, and then closed the last remaining space between them and gave him a quick kiss on the lips. "And love. Only you could make something so insensitive sound so sweet."
"I guess that works out to a compliment," Reyn said, rubbing the back of his head as he blushed slightly.
"What can I say?" Sharla said. "You're honest and brave and you always seem to know just how to cheer me up, but you're thick as a brick."
"A guy'd have to be pretty thick to end up with you," Reyn teased.
Sharla put a palm to her forehead. "You're not supposed to make jokes like that until we're married."
"Wha… married?" Reyn exclaimed. "Ain't we goin' a bit quick all of a sudden?"
"Perhaps," Sharla said, smiling. "But someone needs to set an example for Shulk and Fiora."
"I guess," Reyn said. "That Shulk is pretty thick when it comes to 'im and Fiora."
"It doesn't work for him like it does for you," Sharla said. She leaned in and kissed him again, lingering this time as he returned the kiss. "But come on," she said. "Colony 6 really does need our help with restoring the Ether Mine."
"No reason we can't take our time though, right?" Reyn asked. "Not like we're gonna get a lot of privacy over there with Juju around."
Sharla sighed and began walking onto the bridge. "Don't press your luck, Reyn."
"What?" Reyn said as he followed her off into the fog. "I thought that's what you liked about me! Women…"
And the new couple passed out of Colony 9 and into the New World, a new world and an unknown future that they would explore together: the aspiring young doctor and her unbelievably thick partner.
Author's Note: Closure for the pairing that Monolith fed us all throughout the game, only to give us no fricking closure whatsoever. This is something that had to be done. Reviews please!