Tales of the Alternate Universe


Epilogue


An elegant black coach pulled by four sumptuous horses stopped its pace right in front of the Mertens' property, calling the attention of an old farmer and his young son as they were working on the nearby cornfields. A mid-aged woman who was sitting on a rocking chair at the front porch of her house noticed this as well, and decided to stop trying to refresh herself with her old fan just to have a better glance of who was that unexpected visitor. A large russet-haired man descended from the coach, covering his eyes from the strong sunlight with his forearm. He pulled a silver cane out of the coach and hobbled towards the front yard, leaning on it. Mrs. Mertens immediately recognized him as Mr. Hacksworth and abandoned her comfortable seat to welcome him.

"M-Mr. Hacksworth…! It's been years…!" the woman greeted with a wrinkled smile. "May I help you with something? Do you want a glass of iced-tea?"

She couldn't believe that even after ten years, the red-haired man's appearance remained as intimidating and rough as always. Actually, that was the only thing keeping Mrs. Mertens from being defensive or impolite with him, despite knowing where had Mr. Hacksworth spent the latest decade of his life.

"No thanks, good ma'am." He replied in a polite manner. "I came here looking for Mr. Mertens…umm is he at home?"

"It depends!" a twelve-year old kid panted happily after running towards his mother's side. He had brown short hair and he was wearing a pair of torn blue overalls, which lacked of one shoulder strap, as his only dressing garment. "Are you looking for the bald one or the young one?"

Mr. Hacksworth leaned down a bit and messed the boy's hair with his heavy hand. "I'm looking for the one that might have a clue of my daughter's whereabouts, do you know who might that be?"

"Mom… I think this guy wants to know where Finn lives…" the kid replied worriedly, pulling his mother's skirt in uneasiness.

"I'm sure he does, dear…" the blonde woman sighed sternly. "Go to the house and prepare some flour. We'll bake cookies after I have finished talking with Mr. Hacksworth, okay?"

"Yay! Cookies!" the young boy cried in excitement, dashing into the old house.

"Hehe, what an eager little boy…! I really–"

"Mr. Hacksworth." Mrs. Mertens interrupted severely. "Before I tell you where my son lives, I want you to promise me something."

"Of course! Of course! What might that be?" the red-haired man asked nervously.

A frown marked the stern woman's features. "You must promise that you won't try to mess with my family. Understood?"

This startled Mr. Hacksworth a bit; he certainly wasn't there to deal with anyone else's family but with his. Staring at the blonde woman indignantly, the old widower nodded and listened attentively to her.

x+x+x+x+x

Mr. Hacksworth followed the directions that he had just received from Mrs. Mertens and arrived to a much smaller property near some picturesque meadows. There he found a humble log cabin with a nice handmade fence surrounding its garden. He decided to take a closer look at it. The sturdy man gazed at the tiny colorful flowers cultivated with great care in the front yard, feeling a little nostalgic. For some reason it made him think of his deceased wife.

The place was quiet and peaceful, Mr. Hacksworth noticed that the door was open, but he felt nervous about just stepping in since there wasn't anyone around. What could he do now? Wait until someone appeared? Knowing that the answer was obvious, the red-haired widower made a few steps backwards with the intention of taking cover from the intense sun rays of that summer morning, and wait under a nearby tree's cool shade. As he stepped back, he failed to notice a short golden tail behind him and inevitably stomped on it, causing its owner to release a painful screech. Mr. Hacksworth was obviously startled by this, and immediately removed his foot to free the tail from its heavy weight.

"Houw…!" an old golden bulldog moaned, lifting his chubby body from the ground as he walked away from the man who had just woken him up from his lazy nap.

Hacksworth scratched the back of his head in annoyance while he glared at the ground, his green eyes suddenly glimpsing some crumpled garments that were probably beneath that old lazy dog. With the help of his cane, the old widower bent over to observe them carefully. They were just a cyan-colored shirt and a white bear hat.

"Mertens…" Mr. Hacksworth whispered, picking up the clothes from the green grass.

"She wants this, she wants that…! If it's not one thing is the other…!" a shirtless young man complained in the distance, as he approached the small house, carrying a bucket with water in his hand.

The man didn't seem to notice that Mr. Hacksworth was standing nearby; he simply stopped his pace at a random spot and raised the bucket above his head to pour the water over his sweaty body, using his left hand to rinse his long blonde hair.

"I hope you don't think I'm smelly anymore!" the blonde man chuckled, turning his body around to face one of the cabin's wide windows. "I can't avoid getting all sweaty after plowing the fields!"

That was when Mr. Hacksworth noticed the mechanic prosthesis on his right shoulder and knew for sure that he was Finn Mertens.

"It's surely hot today! You know…" Mertens continued to speak with whoever was inside the house. "I found a nice hidden lake near the woods while I was making my way home and I thought that maybe… we could get rid of our sweaty clothes and refresh ourselves a little. You know, just the two of us… close to each other…floating in the water…listening to the silence of the forest and—..."

"Ahem!" Mr. Hacksworth cleared his throat to make Finn aware of his presence before he could hear more than he needed to know.

"Huh?" the young man faced him with a confused stare, which he instantly turned into a carefree smile. "Morning, sir! I was just …hehe… Speaking to my wife here! You know how it is."

"Yes, of course…" the widower hobbled towards the farmer and stretched his hand to greet him. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you in person, Finn Mertens…"

"Umm… That's nice!" Finn replied, shaking hands with him. "B-but how do you know me? Who are you?"

"My name is Ignacious Hacksworth V, and I've traveled all the way here just to meet you. You see… I believe you're the only one who might have a clue of my daughter's whereabouts…"

"Daughter?" the blonde man blinked a couple of times while he tried to understand what that man meant, "Wait are you…? GAH! You're Mr. Hacksworth!"

"Brilliant…" Mr. Hacksworth whispered, rolling his eyes.

Mertens' face was suddenly filled with surprise, fear and embarrassment. He noticed that his clothes were hanging on Mr. Hacksworth's forearm and he quickly snatched them from him, feeling the urge to get himself fully dressed.

"H-How did you manage t-to find us? I-I mean, why would someone like you think that someone like me might know s-something about your wif—I mean! Daughter?" Finn inquired nervously once he had gotten his clothes on. Mr. Hacksworth was a terrifying man, Finn knew he would chop his head off and hang it as a trophy on his chimney, once he finds out the truth about his daughter.

The large man sighed, displaying a hint of sadness in his features as he pulled out an old envelope from his brownish coat and handed it to the nervous Finn silently. The farmer stared at Mr. Hacksworth in confusion, and then at the envelope with a puzzled look before daring to grab it. Opening the flat package in a quick manner, Finn found himself holding a great amount of familiar letters, which he soon recognized as the ones that he had sent to Flanna while she lived in the city. The paper had a yellowish hue and it felt somewhat stiff, but his messy handwriting was as clear as it was ten years ago.

"W-where did you get this?" Finn demanded in curiosity.

The red-haired man held his cane with both hands and leaned down as he stared at the ground deep in thought. "I… I made a terrible mistake…" Hacksworth began, "It cost me ten years of uncertainty, fearing for my daughter's safety while I was locked in prison. It was until I found myself trapped behind bars, that I realized that I had left my only child alone. I came to understand what it feels like to be enclosed without any way to escape, without being able to see the sunlight or to breathe the freshness of the air…"

"Those ten long years rotting in jail helped me to understand her... I now know the fear and distress that my daughter must have felt each time I used her mental illness as a punishment…" Mr. Hacksworth raised his sight and stared at Finn square in the eyes. "These letters… When I finally arrived home, my loyal butler told me that Flanna had fled to the country side. I was astonished when he explained me her reasons and handed me the package with all your letters… He said that she treasured them more than anything I had ever given her, and that if wanted to know why she had run away, then I would have to read them."

Finn blushed slightly and turned his sight away. "So you actually read 'em? All of them?"

"Word by word…" Hacksworth approached the blonde man in a menacing way and stood before him as a furrowed brow marked his features. "And there's just one thing left for me say after studying their content closely…"

The farmer backed away nervously, something told him that Mr. Hacksworth was probably going to kill him now. It hadn't been hard for the russet-haired man to get rid of his own brother, so murdering a humble farmer couldn't mean any trouble for him at all. Finn felt the urge to shout when he felt the old man over him, however, that fear vanished when he realized that Flanna's father was embracing him tightly.

"Thank you…" Mr. Hacksworth whispered gratefully. "You were there for my daughter when no one else did... Not even me —the one who had sworn to take care of her since she was born.

Finn's eyes were opened wide in astonishment. That was the last thing that he would have expected from a man with such a frightening reputation as Mr. Hacksworth's. It was certainly an unbelievable surprise, but perhaps, it could make it up for the one that was expecting Flanna's father inside his house, or at least make them even. In any case, the farmer was relieved by the large man's fatherly gesture, even though he was literally being crushed against Mr. Hacksworth's chest. It didn't matter how much those ten years of hard work had strengthened Finn's body, being hugged by the old widower was comparable to being strangled by a bear, and Finn's lungs were already starting to cry out for air.

"Ugh…I…uh… It was nothing, really!" the young man managed to gasp once Mr. Hacksworth had let go of him. "F-Flanna is… She was a good friend of mine…" he cleared his throat. "…Back then…"

"I suppose she was, that's why I think that you might know where she lives now a days…" the red-haired man said. "Please. I beg you, take me to her… I don't care if we have to travel a thousand miles to reach her, just lead me to my daughter and I shall be forever in your debt, good man…"

Finn bit his lips nervously while he held his arms crossed. "Lead you to your daughter…? O-okay, follow me inside then…"

Inside? Was Mertens going to grab a coat or something? Mr. Hacksworth couldn't think of any other reason to follow the young man inside his house. No. It couldn't be that she...? Was she...? As he strolled through the small living room, which seemed quite cozy and comfortable, his ears caught the faint melody of a woman's humming in the bedroom. It was a sad lullaby, yet it was its own feeling of sadness what made the melody beautiful. Mr. Hacksworth smiled unconsciously. He knew that song, or at least, he had heard it once, as well at that voice singing from afar.

Melancholy struck him right before he dared to step into the bedroom and then it hit him. The familiar lullaby, the voice, and Mertens' strange behavior had obviously something to do with the young woman sitting before him. She was focused on her mirror while she carefully brushed her long strands of bright red hair, humming her song softly. Mr. Hacksworth could have dropped his jaw open in surprise after connecting the dots, but he didn't.

Or at least, he hadn't planned to do it until his now twenty-four-year-old daughter noticed his reflection in her mirror and gasped in disbelief. Flanna made an attempt to spring up of her chair, but Finn dashed immediately to her side and stopped her from doing so. The farmer whispered something in her ear to calm her down a little as he helped her to stand up slowly. It was then when the widower's jaw reached the floor. He was going to become a grandfather, and it seemed that it was going to happen pretty soon as his daughter's belly couldn't get any bigger now.

Flanna faced him with furious a glare, yet her father remained admired of how much she had changed in those ten years that she had spent away from him. Flanna wasn't the girl that he used to carry on his shoulders every now and then anymore; she was a full-grown woman and her pregnancy was a proof of it. With an excited look in his eyes, Mr. Hacksworth walked forward to greet his daughter and congratulate her, but she avoided any contact with him, shielding her body in her husband's embrace.

"What are you doing here?" the red-haired woman yelled angrily. "How dare you show your face around here! Why don't you just go back to the dirty cell where you belong, and leave me alone like you did ten years ago?!" Some resentful tears leaked out of her green eyes.

"Hush… Flanna please, that's not good for you or the baby…" Finn said gently.

"No, she's right." the large russet-haired man replied with grief. "I don't deserve to be welcomed in here, not after everything I've done. I let my greed and my thirst for power take the best of me when all I really wanted was to give you everything you needed to be happy, Flanna…" he eyed the young couple and grinned. "I had to pay a very high price to understand that I had made a terrible mistake. I made you suffer, and even run away from the place that I had expected you to call home. I lost you and the best years of your life; all those moments we could have shared together, your wedding for example… If I could, I would go back in time just to see you wearing your white dress. I bet you looked beautiful…"

The farmer tightened his grip on Flanna's waist and smiled upon remembering that day. A weak grin graced his wife's lips as well, but it vanished as quickly as she laid her hurtful eyes on her father once again.

"To think that you never needed anything from the city or from me to be truly happy…" Hacksworth continued, "When I look at your bare feet and the simplicity of your home, I realize that not even all the money of the world can buy your smile. But this boy here, he barely earns enough money to keep yourselves alive, yet he can provide everything you need to be truly happy… Unlike me…"

"Flanna, my dear… I didn't come here to drag you back to the city with me. All I'm looking for is to give you my most sincere apology and hope that you might forgive me one day… I'm sorry I was so blind." The old widower sighed deeply and turned back to the door, walking away from the couple. "I wish you two the best… Congratulations for your baby."

Flanna stared at her father in silence as he stepped out of her bedroom. She felt angry, sad, and confused at the same time. She didn't know what to do. Her eyes then drifted towards Finn's searching for answer. The young man just grinned and nodded, unwrapping his arms from around her body so that she could catch up with her father.

Mr. Hacksworth froze in the middle of the short hallway when he felt his daughter's arms surrounding his sturdy frame. Flanna hugged him like she had never done it since she was a little girl and sobbed, "Dad… please don't go away dad… I still love you."

"My girl…" the massive man replied, returning the hug. "I swear in your mother's sacred memory, that I'm never going to leave you again."

x+x+x+x+x

The early hours of the afternoon fell upon Junktown as the young couple showed the soon-to-be-grandfather their few photo albums and told him about their childhood adventures and their plans for the future. Finn and Flanna were sitting together in a small old couch, their hands hooked up at all times as Mr. Hacksworth listened to them proudly on a simple sofa. He could only wonder what could have made them so united. The red-haired widower still couldn't believe that he had managed to survive ten long years in jail to finally find his daughter and win her trust back. He'd make sure to never lose it again.

Finn had become pretty excited when he began to tell Mr. Hacksworth about his latest victories over the Destiny Gang. The farmer would have never stopped talking about the matter if he hadn't felt Flanna's grasp becoming slightly stronger on his hand, her nails piercing his skin.

"Baby…" the young woman gasped, a look of distress in her green eyes.

"Yeah, give me a sec…" Finn replied, not really paying attention to his wife.

"Baby…!" Flanna repeated, this time in a more exasperated tone.

"What is it, Flan?" her husband answered doubtfully.

"Not you, donk!" she managed to shout as her other hand seized her belly. "Baby! The baby!"

"Baby…baby…baby?!" Finn shrieked as he jumped of the couch in astonishment and confusion. He wasn't fully prepared for that and was obviously nervous about the current situation, his concern growing with each painful moan that Flanna exhaled as she struggled to remain calmed. Her contractions were getting more and more recurrent as the seconds passed.

"What the hell are you doing, standing there like a fool?!" Mr. Hacksworth yelled, running to his daughter's side. "Go get a doctor! I'll take her to the bed, just hurry up! Darn it!"

"I-I left Bartram in the fields, I need to ride him if I want to reach the town quickly!" the farmer stressed, looking already more agitated than the young woman in labor.

"Ride one of my coach horses then, just get moving!" his father-in-law replied as he carried Flanna in his arms, thinking of what could have happened if he hadn't arrived to Junktown that morning.

Finn nodded and ran out of the house. He reached the coach and tried to untie one of the black horses from its reins, noticing with anxiety that they were stuck. The young man struggled using all his physical strength to pull the leather strands off the animal, but alas, he failed, falling onto his back when his stinging hands slipped from them. His blue eyes spotted a lumberjack axe not very far from him. The farmer sprinted towards it as fast as he could and used its sharpness to free the horse from the fancy coach. The steed neighed in fear due to the commotion, but Finn managed to calm him down and climbed onto its back, kicking its sides to leap towards the town.

Finn smiled with some relief when he met his young brother on the way. The little boy was ridding Bartram and was heading to his old brother's house at a regular pace.

"Hey bro, please!" the farmer pleaded as he commanded his horse to stop for a moment, "You gotta go back home and tell mom that Flanna needs her while I look for the doctor, okay?"

"Doctor?!" the brown-haired boy gasped in fear. "Did something bad happened to her?!"

"No, it's just—!" Finn kicked the equine's sides once more to rush into the town. "The baby is coming!"

"Baby…?" the young boy blinked, "Yay! I'm an uncle!"

x+x+x+x+x

The road back home turned out to be a very long path for the concerned soon-to-be-father. He had ridden over several obstacles, including one of the Destiny Gang's pranking assaults on his way to reach the doctor's office. However, once Finn had arrived there the medic apologized, telling Finn that she still had to take care of other people's medical afflictions before she could do anything for him. Though, she assured him that she'd pass by his farm later to check on the baby. Finn did the best he could to try to drag her home with him, being of course, worried to death for his wife's health. Sadly, he had to return home, only accompanied by his horse…. and Big Destiny.

"Stay away from me!" the young man yelled as he dismounted the black steed. "And stay away from Flanna! I don't want you near her or our baby!"

"Relax, One-arm… I'm not here to cause trouble! Look, if this is because we pushed you off your horse a while earlier, we already said we're sorry!" the weird-dressed man alleged. "Since you two kicked our butts during last year's Halloween party, the Destiny Gang swore to commit harmless crimes only! Like... pranking everyone and stealing from them… Except for Miss T. 'cause she feeds us with yummy apple pies, hehehe!"

Finn laid his hand on the doorknob, but didn't turn it to enter his house. He just faced Big Destiny with a fierce glare and stated. "Listen, Big-D… I already had enough of you. Please, I-I need to see how's Flanna doing and you creep the heck out of me… Leave us alone! Just for today, will ya?!"

"Humph! Well I'm sorry to hear that, 'cause I already told my men to bring Miss T. so that she helps the Firefly with her baby! But I'm not telling you that she's the best midwife in town, 'cause you already pissed me off with your negative attitude!" Big Destiny replied, crossing his arms and looking offended.

"W-wait… you did what?" the farmer inquired, widening his eyes in wonder. "Why would you want to help Flanna?"

"I could tell you that I help her 'cause, unlike you, she seems nice! But I won't, 'cause I'm too pissed off with ya!"

Finn repressed his laughter and rolled his eyes as he stepped inside his house, ignoring the shades-wearing man behind him. A feeling of gratefulness struck his heart when he met the friendly faces of his father, his brother and Miss Bonnibel, waiting in the living room along with Mr. Hacksworth and a very worried Jake, who was scratching the bedroom's door impatiently, hoping to make his way inside it.

"Is mom… with her?" the blonde man asked wearily, still trying to digest everything he had gone through that day.

Mr. Mertens nodded and patted an empty seat next to him, asking his son to join them in the waiting. A few minutes later someone started to knock the door outside, causing the already nervous Finn to leap of his seat and open it. Miss Teana Hanks stormed through the door, not even caring to greet anyone inside, a determined look seizing her wrinkled face.

"Where is she?" the old woman demanded as she rolled up her sleeves.

"I-in the bedroom with mom but—…" the young man tried to speak. "Can I help with something?"

"Help? You already did enough on your wedding night, sir! Making the baby wasn't enough for you? Now let a woman take care of the rest!" Miss Tea Hanks stated firmly as her eyes studied the many other amused faces in the small living room, an indignant gasp leaving her lips. "What is that convict doing here?!" the old lady cried.

"What?! How come this old hag is still alive after all these years?!" Mr. Hacksworth sprung up, looking as annoyed as Miss Tea Hanks.

"I'm more than alive, you criminal! I'm healthy and strong as a lion, 'cause I live my life the right way! I'm kind and honest, and that's why people like me! Unlike you evil sir, who likes to freak out everybody! What are ya doin' here anyway, Mr. Evildoer?!"

"Well, I happen to be the baby's grandfather, as if you didn't know that already, Miss Apple Pies! Actually, I'm wondering what are you doing here, losing your time with me, instead of aiding my daughter! Aren't you supposed to be the best midwife in here?"

"Oh… I'll be back soon with the lil' creature in my arms and I'll show ya what's Teana Hanks capable of, Mr. Criminal, sir!" the old lay scowled as she opened the bedroom's door and disappeared behind it, causing Jake to hit his nose against it on his attempt to enter.

The poor old bulldog sat in front of the door, moaning desperately for someone to let him in. Perhaps, in his own little dog world Jake felt that he was failing to fulfill his duty of protecting his family, by not being able to be on Flanna's side while she needed him. His small round ears were perked up as he listened to the young woman's struggle, causing him to become even more concerned and bark insistently at the door.

"Hush… Jake, good boy…" Finn whispered as he sat with him on the floor, next to the bedroom's door. The young man stroke the dog's golden fur to calm both him and himself down a little. "I know it sounds bad and you don't understand what's going on, but Flanna's going to be fine… Just wait and see, buddy…"

"Is my little nephew going to have a mechanic arm like Finn?" the youngest Mertens in the room asked all of a sudden, breaking the tense silence that had fallen upon everyone around him while they were focused on waiting.

Miss Bonnibel slipped to the boy's side with a soft chuckle. "No sweetheart, that's genetically impossible…!"

"Oh…" the kid nodded. "And what does that mean?"

Finn hugged Jake's body, feeling that time was flowing at an unbearable slowly pace. He couldn't shake off his worry, and so, the young man ignored Miss Bonnibel's voice as she explained enthusiastically everything she knew about genetics to an audience that couldn't really understand anything she said, but listened attentively to her anyway, hoping to distract themselves from their own worries.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity for the young farmer and his dog, the bedroom's door was unlocked. Mrs. Mertens walked through it, her appearance not really being a relief for Finn, who could only focus on the blood staining her dress and hands. The blonde woman noticed this and quickly hid her hands behind her back to avoid worrying her son as she glanced at him with a proud grandmother's joyful smile.

"Finn…" she said. "Don't you wanna meet your daughter?"

The young man couldn't find the strength to utter a comprehensible reply. He just got up on his trembling feet and dashed into the room. Miss Tea Hanks blocked his way for a moment while she took her time to lift the bloody towels from the floor and clean the mess as best as she could, never minding the now father's hurry to reach his wife's side.

"Calm yourself down, Finn…!" the old lady laughed, "See? I already finished, now I can leave the three of you alone in a more decent environment! It's much better that way, don't ya think?"

"Yeah. Right. Whatever… Just let me see her, for math's sake!"

"Woof!" Jake barked impatiently.

Miss Tea Hanks had enough of teasing the two frantic males before her and moved aside, letting them run towards the bed in excitement. Finn's heart leaped out of his chest when he finally laid his eyes upon his exhausted wife. Flanna's face was soaked in sweat and her red hair was a complete disaster, yet the peaceful smile on her face made her look like the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his life. Jake hopped onto the mattress and snuggled at Flanna's feet while his owner lied on the other side of their bed, cuddling his red-haired dame in his arms as some tears of happiness clouded his blue eyes.

"Hey…" Finn whispered as he laid his forehead on hers.

"Hey…" Flanna replied weakly, accepting her husband's gentle lips on hers before introducing him to the small girl in her arms.

She stared at her father with her big green eyes in curiosity, being completely oblivious of the strange new world around her. Finn stroke the baby's soft skin with his finger, impressed by how small and fragile his daughter was. Some tears ran down his cheeks as he leaned in and kissed her tiny head softly. Her small hands grazed his face as he did this, she was so cute. She was his daughter, a miracle born from his love for Flanna. He had never felt so proud in his life, choosing to love Flanna instead of fighting her had been the best decision. Finn would never regret to have married his best friend, his old rival, his love.

"Hello there, little girl…" he whispered as both Flanna and her baby nestled themselves on his chest to get some sleep.

"I love you both so much…" Finn closed his eyes too, letting his own exhaustion drift him into sleep as well. "Can't imagine how life would be like… Without you…"

x+x+x+x+x

Meanwhile, five men with freaky-multicolored gowns gathered in front of a window, grunting and muttering as they all struggled to get a glimpse of the newborn baby. Of course, it was most likely impossible for them to stop fighting each other for a place near the window, and take turns to look through the crystal one at a time.

"Get out of my way! Big-D's coming!" their leader yelled as he fought to push his henchmen away. "I don't get why they won't let me in! Those two lovebirds got hooked because of me, that must make me part of the family or something!"

The five thugs tangled themselves in a mess of pocked eyes and stomped feet until they somehow managed to perceive an odd presence nearby. They all stopped their struggle when they noticed a sixth shadow on the ground with no physical owner. A shiver ran down their spines as the shadow grew in size, vanishing their own bodies' projections within it. All of a sudden, the mysterious shadow turned into a material entity and roared ferociously on their faces, scaring the heck out of them as they fled into the woods. The large shadow was then stretched back towards its owner, being dragged across the ground until it acquired the figure of a short round silhouette with a small hat on its head. The old half-demon lady laughed at her own mischievous prank, dusting off her wrinkled hands with pride.

"That will show 'em… hehehe…!" she bent over slightly to pick up a bag full of chicken eggs and made her way into the bushes, singing a made up song about having lunch.

Once inside her forsaken subway tunnel, the black-haired woman sat on the ground right next to her eternal, and only boney companion, ready to eat her recently stolen goods.

"Well done…" a voice whispered as a mysterious breeze swirled around the crowned skeleton lying beside her. "You made a wise choice in sacrificing the wish I left for your personal use to save this world's fate… I'm very proud of you right now, Marceline…"

"Huh? That better be you, Simon! 'Cause I swear I'm not going crazy, ya hear me?!" Marceline yelled at the emptiness, waving her curled fist.

A colorful beam flashed behind her shortly after that, materializing a single egg with a small note stuck on it, thanks to some sort of unknown magic. Marceline scratched her head as she approached the newly created object in curiosity and grabbed the paper.

This egg should fill your tummy for an entire year! Enjoy its delicious flavor and return those eggs in your basket as soon as you can. The Mertens are really going to need that money now, don't you think?

PD: I don't know you, but I like this ending a lot better! Thanks for it!

Hope to see you again some day…

~P

Marceline picked up the magic egg from the ground and rolled her eyes in amusement as she walked back to Simon's side.

"Destiny… Fate… Are our lives written in stone or do we carve the paths we wish to follow…?" the old half-demon pondered silently, "Perhaps... We do carve our own paths… One choice at a time…"

The End–