This is one of my favorite pairings in the series and I started to write it a while back but was too lazy to post it for a while.
Special thanks to Kimiko Heroux for fixing parts of it to make it better.
It will help if you played through the whole game or until the at least almost the very end to fully understand what's going on.
Tia stared at the ground as she walked beside her younger brother. Their wish hadn't come true after all, but that mattered little compared to the other loss. Ace had confessed that he loved her shortly before he died. It hadn't been until then that she realized she loved him, too. Now it was too late to tell him.
"Sis? Is something wrong?" Jack asked.
Tia shook her head. "Everything is fine."
"You look so sad."
"I'm fine," she responded, louder and firmer.
Jack didn't try prying any further. "I'm gonna get strong and beat Geo next time!"
Tia didn't respond and frowned when her Hunter-VG began ringing, signaling an incoming call. "What now?" She answered it and instead of the caller's face that usually appeared on the holographic screen it was all static.
Even over the static Tia recognized the voice. "Acid?!" He was destroyed, wasn't he?
"Echo... hospital... 135..." Static interfered with the message and covered the rest until the last part: "...alive. Come..." The connection went dead.
Ace was alive... Tia turned to her brother. "We're going to Echo Ridge."
The receptionist behind the desk looked up from her computer, disappointment on her face. "You're the cute guy's girlfriend? I was told to let a Ms. Tia and a Mr. Jack see him."
Tia blushed at the word "girlfriend" and felt anger that the receptionist was upset about that. Jack nudged her. "Go on. I'll come later."
Tia nodded and walked towards room 135. She knocked softly before opening the door. Ace was the only one in the room and was unconscious. One arm was in a sling and one leg was in a cast, supported by a contraption next to the bed. A bandage was around his head and small wires were connected to monitor brain waves. Wires were also connected to his bare chest where there weren't bandages, some of the wires were connected to a machine that beeped steadily.
A mask-like device covered his mouth and nose, fogging when he exhaled.
Despite how accident-prone he was, there was no sign of any scars- even after the time he was "playing" with a "dull" knife or sword.
Next to his bed on a table was his Hunter-VG, or what was left of it. Acid wouldn't be around if it was in that state, unless he had either set up a back-up file of himself or set it up so that a message would reach her, alerting her to Ace's location. Why did it arrive so late, then...?
For several moments Tia just stood there, staring before a voice in the back of her mind said "don't just stand there" and another agreed, pointing out "if you're closer you'll get a better view."
She sat on a chair next to the bed, afraid if she did anything else this would prove to be a dream. She slowly stretched a hand to gently brush his cheek, relieved to find this was real. It had been so long since she watched him sleep. The last time was before he had left Dealer. He had managed to talk her and Jack into staying up the whole night for a party and had fallen asleep before midnight. She had stayed with him a little longer after Jack went to bed.
Watching him as he slept was kind of interesting because of how expressive and talkative he was during his dreams. Ace also had visited her several times when he thought she was sleeping just to watch and talk softly to her. She wanted to keep it that way.
He'd gotten more of a build since he left Dealer; it probably coming from the Satella Police work he did or the fights against Noise that managed to appear in the real world, like he used to do and usually ended up getting injured in the process. She traced little shapes with her finger on Ace's chest and up and down his arm.
For the next few hours she told him everything that had happened in the last three weeks. Once in a while she was sure she saw his hand twitch a little in response to what she said.
She got up. "I'll be back in a little while. I'm going to get something to eat."
Ace's hand twitched in protest.
A nurse greeted Tia on her way out of the room. "I was just going to check on him. He's recovering nicely and may not need life support soon. We just need for him to wake up now."
Tia nodded. "I'm just going to get something to eat and come back."
The nurse just smiled and walked into the room.
When Tia returned nothing had changed other than Ace no longer needing the mask-like device. He was still sleeping. Tia announced her presence as she approached. She returned to his side again and gently turned his face towards her with one hand and held his fingers with the other.
Ace's hand twitched a little and his fingers curled around Tia's. He blinked a few times and then smiled widely. "He-llooooo." He looked around the white room. "Is this heaven? Am I dead? I don't feel dead."
"How do you feel?"
"Like a marshmallow!"
Ace stared at her. "Marshmallow?" His voice was almost childish and he reached his hand out limply, apparently to receive the food.
"No, I don't have any."
At least this wasn't a repeat of the time he had he had his wisdom teeth removed. Or the aftermath of one of his crazy stunts that rendered him with broken limbs and pain killer overdose. It still wasn't clear why he thought it was smart to ski off that building…
Ace stared at his hand curiously and twitched his fingers before becoming amazed and shocked by the fact they could move.
Ace stared at his bandaged arm, trying to move it. "It feels funny. Is it dead? It's all... stiff and stuff."
Tia reached out a hand to stop him. "Don't move it."
"It's broken. It won't heal if you keep moving it."
"Because-" What was the point in trying to explain to a person that would likely forget it within a few seconds?
Ace stared at his leg questioningly before getting upset. "I can't feel my toes!"
"Ace, look at me."
Ace looked up at her. "You're soooo pretty." He slowly stretched his hand to her face, frowning with how "difficult" it was.
Tia leaned down closer to him. Ace leaned up towards her and attempted to kiss her on the lips. His aim was off and he got her nose instead. Tia gently pushed him back.
Ace frowned. "That wasn't nice." He suddenly sat up. "I love you this much!" He attempted to spread out his arms before he flopped back into the pillows. "Ow." He smiled up at Tia. "You're so pretty."
Tia was about to speak again when Ace began to go on and on about the "pretty lights" until his words became incoherent.
Nervously Tia pressed a button on a phone that sat on a table next to the bed. "Can a nurse come up here please?" She didn't have to say anything else because Ace's incoherent words could easily be heard.
A nurse entered the room ten minutes later and injected a fluid into the IV attached to Ace's hand.
Ace smiled at Tia. "Good night." He abruptly fell asleep. The nurse sighed, shaking her head as she left.
Acid materialized out of the VG-Hunter.
"He's fine," Acid said. "He's always like that."
"Are you sure?"
"You should see him on coffee."
"Do you have to put up with this every day?"
"After he eats a lot of candy. This is why I didn't come out before."
Tia looked back at Ace and smiled. "At least he's still alive... How is he alive?"
"When you Pulse Out you usually return to the last place you EM Wave Change. I forced him to and invaded his Hunter-VG while I was infected with the Noise. It got damaged badly, but at the cost of him not being able to get tracked, it was worth it. I sent an SOS out before it exploded."
Ace woke several hours later, Tia being the first thing he saw. He smiled softly. "Tia..."
"How do you feel?"
"My arm and leg hurt; so does breathing. It isn't that bad."
"Before you said you felt like a marshmallow." She kept her lips in a flat line.
Ace sighed softly. "Did I get looped up on painkiller again?"
"You spent at least ten minutes talking about the pretty lights." She smiled. "You haven't changed."
"Neither have you."
She looked down, some regret in her voice. "I helped Dealer try to destroy the world."
"I did, too."
"You left, though." She shook her head a little. "I should have come with you."
"You became stronger because you didn't come. If you had, I wouldn't have joined the Satella Police and the world would have been destroyed by now. I trusted you with your choice. Like always, your judgment is better than mine."
"You're so beautiful." His voice and facial expression implied he was talking about something deeper than merely her skin. He stretched out a hand and pulled out what was keeping Tia's hair up. "I like it when your hair is down."
"Are you flirting with me?" She narrowed her eyes.
"Maybe. I love you, and that's what you're supposed to do." He failed at trying to remain expressionless.
Tia smiled softly. "No silly. That's what you try to do when you don't know if the other person loves you back. You're terrible at it."
"Then what are you supposed to do?" He smiled, his expression resembling a small child's, the one that he had often used to win arguments with her.
"I know what you're getting at." Tia leaned closer to him and pressed her lips against his.