Author's Note: Hello! This is just a one-shot based off of Prisma-Roses's fic His Last Song. It originated from tumblr, where Prisma posted it on her blog Prismasandpie under the name The Little Guy: Bad Ending. You should probably read that first for this to make sense. Don't worry, I have permission for writing this. I already posted it on tumblr and decided I should put it here. This is my first time writing for Woy, so I hope you enjoy!
Oh, and for anyone who reads my other stuff, don't worry, I'm still working on it. Expect an update hopefully sometime this month. - Aqua.
"Flint-picking, snot-face, flarf-for-brains..." Sylvia hissed under her breath, struggling with her chains.
The zbornak was also struggling with her panic, because every second she spent in that big chamber made her heart race faster and faster. She knew what was coming. The watchdogs had told her what was about to happen. She refused to believe it, though. Wander would get out of this; he always did. She just had to be there to back him up when he inevitably made his daring escape.
Sylvia had tried just about everything to free herself. She even tried biting through the chains, but to no avail. The crowd of watchdogs had grown until the chamber was filled to the brim. Sylvia felt quite a few eyes on her, and the mood of the crowd was oddly both light and vindictive.
Sylvia wished she knew where Wander was, and what was happening. She hoped he got the chance to escape, and that if he did, he would leave without her. She knew that if that happened, Hater would probably execute her as a consolation prize, but that didn't even faze her.
She'd give up her life for Wander's in a heartbeat.
So when the doors swung open to reveal Wander, shackled, flanked by two watchdogs, and followed closely by Hater, Sylvia felt her chest tighten and her throat constrict. The excited chattering of the crowd fell away to booing and curses at Wander, who was being pulled along by his guards.
The nomad hung limply from his captor's grips, his sneakered feet dragging on the floor. Without his hat, he looked so small and vulnerable... too fragile for all this. His cheery demeanor had vanished, yet somehow he was still smiling, though Sylvia could see where tears had dampened his fur.
Seeing him like that ignited a fire inside Sylvia, who began to fight her restraints with renewed vigor. Her attempts caught the attention of Wander, who looked up at her, their eyes locking.
"I'm s-sorry." He managed to say before his escorts pulled him away.
"WANDER!" Sylvia shrieked, watching him being taken farther and farther away from her. "BRING HIM BACK, YOU CRUD-EATING PARASITES!"
But they did not bring Wander back. Instead, they forced Wander up the stairs to a raised platform, which held a podium and an electric chair.
The chair was a large, metal monstrosity, decorated vainly with lightning bolts. It had all sorts of wires sticking out of it and wrapping around a helmet that hung over the seat.
The chair dwarfed Wander, who stood next to it quietly, his gaze resting on Sylvia. He seemed calm. Sylvia didn't know how he was keeping himself calm. She was a thrashing, screaming, crying ball of hysteria right now.
Commander Peepers ascended the stairs, holding up a hand for silence. The shouting and cheering died down as Peepers began to speak.
"Ahem. Today is truly a great day for all of the Hater Empire. For today, we get rid of, once and for all, the nuisance that is called Wander!"
Sylvia's eyes were locked on to Wander, and his eyes on her. Wander's wide, expressive eyes seemed to be pleading with her, but she wasn't sure what for. For help? She would if she could, and he knew that. No, he seemed to be trying to calm her down.
Wander had resigned himself to his fate. Sylvia hadn't.
"He is being executed today before you," Peepers continued. "for all of these crimes against us! My fellow watchdogs! Today our enemy is no more, and victory will be ours!"
The chamber was filled with cheering. Hater snapped more pictures. Sylvia strained against her binds, banging against the cage over and over again.
The commanding watchdog pushed Wander into the chair, which was way too big for him. His feet didn't even touch the ground; they dangled helplessly in the air instead.
Peepers seemed to say something to the nomad before turning back to the microphone with a sinister chuckle.
"Any last words?" The watchdog asked snidely.
Wander looked out over the execution chamber, and Sylvia followed his gaze, spotting a little watchdog not too far from her cage.
Just seeing him enraged Sylvia to the point where she wanted to strangle him, but Wander obviously didn't harbor the same feelings.
Instead, Wander smiled, and began to sing softly.
"o-oh~ wander…..O-Over yonder….a-and check out this and t-th-that~…."
The watchdogs pulled the restraints around Wander's wrists, but the nomad was focused on Sylvia and Westley.
"I-If you w-wander….o-over yonder…just be sure to wear y-your-"
The helmet was lowered onto Wander's head and strapped on tightly.
Wander was crying, silent tears dripping from his eyes as he continued to sing. Sylvia herself was sobbing wildly.
"A-All the sights t-th-that you will….s-seee….."
Out of the corner of her eye, Sylvia saw Westley turn away. She wished she could do the same, but she couldn't tear her gaze from Wander.
"a-and you certainly will b-be free…..if-if you…wander….o-over y-yonder…..y-you and…."
Sylvia toppled her cage over as a countdown began. If she could just break one little chain...
Watchdogs cheered, cameras flashed, and Hater walked down the stairs as Peepers held up a remote control connected to the chair.
Just as Wander sang the last note, Peepers pressed the red button.
An electric humming filled the room as the chair began to glow. Suddenly, green light burst from the chair's helmet and raced across the metal frame. An absent part of Sylvia noticed that the electricity looked like Hater's lightning, and wondered if he had done that on purpose.
Sylvia felt one of the chains begin to give, but it was too little too late. She could only watch as the lightning raced towards Wander.
Wander didn't scream. Sylvia had been expecting screams.
When the electricity connected with the nomad, Wander was silent. The impact jerked him against his restraints, but not a sound left Wander's mouth. The force of the electricity was shaking the chair, but Wander kept his small smile in tact. The cheering increased tenfold as the lightning raced across the nomad, and the scent of burning fur filled the room.
Wander didn't scream, but Sylvia saw the light leave his eyes and the song leave his heart.
His eyes slid shut; peacefully, as if he was falling asleep. Wander twitched once and grew still.
Sylvia saw red, and one of the chains snapped.
When Sylvia woke up, she found herself in her cell.
Her body ached. Every bone, every muscle, every nerve was screaming. Her knuckles were bruised and bleeding- from what, she didn't know. Sylvia's head was pounding. She couldn't remember anything except that Wander was gone.
Wander was gone.
Sylvia curled into a tight ball, sobs ripping through her as the words echoed in her head. Lying on the cold stone floor, she felt as if the world was tipping and jolting around her, faster and faster until she wasn't sure which way was up. She felt like she was drowning.
His song kept replaying itself in her head as images raced through her mind. Sylvia remembered when they came and took him... they took Wander from her. And then they came for her and took her there.
Sylvia remembered how they chained her and locked her in a cage to watch. They made her watch, like it was some kind of sick, morbid game. She had tried to get free, oh how she tried. But she'd been helpless, completely and utterly powerless, to stop what happened next.
They had dragged him into the room and locked him in that chair. She remembered the sound of the cuffs snapping shut around his wrists, the cheers of the watchdogs and the flashing of cameras. And then Commander Peepers (Peepers, that flarf narblin' ham-strangler!), he pushed the button and-
"NO!" Sylvia shrieked, her body heaving with sobs. Her voice was hoarse. Why was it hoarse? She remembered screams. Hers, not Wander's. Wander didn't scream.
Suddenly, she heard the telltale marching of watchdog boots, and the mechanical whir of a blaster.
"What's going on in there?" A guard demanded, his voice deep and gruff and cold.
"SCUZZ-MUNCHIN' MAGGOT INFESTED WAMMER-JAMMER!" Sylvia spat, lunging at bars of her cell. "YOU KILLED HIM, YOU ALL KILLED HIM, YOU SCUM-SNIFFIN' TRASH SUCKING FLURF-FACE!"
"I need some backup over here!" The watchdog guard called desperately, training his blaster on Sylvia.
"HE'S DEAD, HE'S DEAD AND YOU KILLED HIM!" Sylvia roared, tears streaming down her face. "I'M GONNA TEAR YOU APART, YOU LITTLE-"
A blast hit Sylvia, sending her flying backwards. Her head connected with the concrete wall, and everything went black.
Three days after Wander's execution, Westley found himself walking down the long halls leading to the prison level.
Watchdog guards saluted him as he passed, and Westley found it strange and unsettling. He was used to being ignored or teased, not respected. He wasn't used to his new title, Sergeant, and still accidentally introduced himself as Private Westley.
He didn't know why he was doing this. Curiosity? Maybe. Concern? A little bit. Guilt? Definitely. He'd heard talk from the other watchdogs about Sylvia's condition. She didn't move much, didn't eat anything they shoved at her. Never talked, at least not to the guards. The only words she'd spoken were quiet and to herself, huddled in the corner of her cell. She still had Wander's banjo, and sometimes she would random pluck a few frayed strings, resulting in a broken, discordant tune. She'd been like this ever since she attacked her guard, the morning after Wander's execution. Apparently she'd gotten herself hurt, and Westley was worried.
He was nervous, for plenty of reasons. After Wander died, Westley remembered the way Sylvia screamed and the chains holding her snapped. He remembered the sound of the metal bars bending and warping as she tore out of her cage, and then flew upon the closest watchdogs in a rage.
Those unlucky enough to get caught in her wrath were still in the hospital ward.
It had taken Lord Hater himself to knock the zbornak out, and Westley had never seen the skeleton so frightened.
Westley rounded a corner. Sylvia's cell was straight ahead.
The two guards currently on duty promptly saluted the little watchdog.
"Sergeant Westley." One of them nodded dutifully, his voice laced with curiosity. "We didn't know you were visiting."
'Neither did I...' Westley thought to himself, returning their salute stiffly. "Yes, well, I just wanted to check up on my favorite prisoner." He smirked, powering his voice with malice and arrogance.
The two guards snickered, exchanging cruel looks.
"Of course, sir. But she doesn't do much." The second watchdog told him.
"Yeah. I think she hit her head a little too hard." The first one added. "Completely bonkers, if you ask me."
Westley let his gaze fall on the lone figure occupying the cell.
Sylvia was curled up into a tight ball, pressed into the farthest corner of her cell. She was laying on her side, cradling Wander's banjo in her arms. Westley resisted the urge to wince when he caught sight of the numerous cuts and bruises, not to mention scars, marring the zbornak's skin. She hadn't looked up yet, so either she hadn't heard him, or she didn't care.
"I would like some time alone to speak with her." Westley requested, trying to keep his voice emotionless.
The guards exchanged confused looks.
"Sir, I'm not sure if that's the best idea. She's dangerous." One of the watchdogs warned him.
"I think I can handle her." Westley said confidently, patting the blaster hanging from his belt.
"With all due respect, sir, I really don't think-"
"Are you questioning me, Private?" Westley demanded.
The watchdog guard paled, his eye widening.
"N-No sir, I j-just... I mean, m-maybe it's not the best-"
Westley reached up and grabbed the guard by the collar of his uniform, his eye narrowed into a red slit.
"I said I can handle it." He told the watchdog slowly, hoping his voice sounded threatening. "Now, I'm going to have a private word with this prisoner, or else I'll have to have a little chat with Lord Hater concerning you two."
The two guards stumbled back, nodded and saluting frantically.
"Y-yes sir, of c-course sir. We'll m-make sure no one comes d-down this hallway, sir."
The watchdogs turned and basically ran down the hallway.
Westley sighed. He hated threatening others like that, but he really needed to speak to Sylvia alone. The little watchdog inched closer to the cell, all his false confidence evaporating. Westley took a deep breath before stepping up to the bars.
"Sylvia?" He tapped on the bars gently, the light sound echoing around the tiny cell. "Sylvia, it's me, W-Westley."
The zbornak didn't respond.
"I, uh, heard about w-what happened a c-couple days ago, and I w-was just w-worried about you..." He peered into the poorly lit prison, hoping for some sort of recognition from Sylvia, but she was silent. The only indicator that she was still alive was the steady rising and falling of her chest.
"So... okay then, I, um... guess I'll just... leave, then..?" Westley took half a step back. "It w-was good to see you, I guess..." He was about to turn and leave when a low, ragged voice suddenly spoke.
"How dare you..."
Westley whirled around and saw that Sylvia was looking at him, her eyes ringed with red.
"How dare you!" Sylvia growled, rising from her spot on the floor. "How dare you show your face here?! Three days, Westley! It's been three days since Wander was killed, and you think you can just show up and check on me!?" Sylvia thundered, gripping the banjo like she was going to swing it at him.
Westley shrank back.
"I-I'm sorry, I didn't mean-"
"Oh, you're SORRY? Well, that changes everything!" Sylvia shouted sarcastically, throwing her hands in the air. "Why didn't ya just say so?"
As scared as Westley was, he was also relieved that Sylvia was actually talking and moving, actually acknowledging him. He wished there was another way to help her besides making her angry, but he'd rather her be angry than depressed.
So let her be mad at him. He deserved it, after all.
Westley looked at the floor.
"Are they treating you okay?" He asked quietly.
Sylvia fell silent, shooting him a questioning look.
"I just want to know if they're treating you okay, that's all." Westley explained carefully, avoiding Sylvia's eyes.
The zbornak raised an eyebrow, taken aback.
"Uh, yeah, I guess... I mean, they give me food but..." She winced, rubbing the back of her neck. "I just haven't taken it."
Westley nodded thoughtfully.
"Do you get cold at night? I could get you some blankets..." He offered.
Sylvia crossed her arms, studying the small watchdog warily.
"What's it to you?" She demanded bitterly.
"Nothing, I just..." His eye rested on her scraped knuckles, flecked with dry blood. "Did they even take you to the medical ward?" Westley gestured to his own knuckles.
Sylvia looked down at her hands.
"Oh, what? Nah... not really. Guess they thought I could sleep if off..." The zbornak trailed off.
Westley shook his head, a million thoughts racing through his mind. What he did was wrong, he knew that. He knew that from the moment Wander and Sylvia were thrown into prison. He knew Lord Hater's intent was to let Sylvia rot in his jail for the rest of her life, but after all she'd been through, Westley just couldn't accept that.
"Ah... I have to go now." He said suddenly. "Just, um, forget about this, okay? I'll leave you alone now."
Sylvia frowned at his sudden change in demeanor, but she didn't comment on it. Anger was already building up inside her again, and she didn't particularly care about Westley anymore. She didn't even want to see him right now.
"Alright, fine! Get out of here." Sylvia scowled, trying to hide the pain in her voice with anger. "You shouldn't have come in the first place." The zbornak turned her back to Westley, returning to her spot on the floor.
Westley departed without another word, giving the shaken guards a nod as he passed.
The little watchdog was already formulating a plan. Somehow, he was going to free Sylvia, no matter the cost. She needed to be somewhere else, not on board the ship where her best friend was executed. No, Westley had to get her far away from here.
How many days had it been?
Sylvia lost count.
'It can't have been more than a week since Wander's death.' Sylvia thought to herself, idly strumming the old banjo. The strings were worn, and the sound echoed oddly around her little cell, but it was a nice contrast to silence.
It was nighttime. At least, Sylvia thought it was. It was always hard to tell since there wasn't a window within her line of vision, but she could guess from the guard's moods. The watchdogs stuck with the night shift usually seemed irritable and sleepy.
Sylvia plucked another string, her thoughts far, far away from her prison.
The one thing on her mind was Wander. Sylvia had begun to realize that she would never see him again, never hear his voice again, or hold the fuzzy little nomad in her arms again.
She tried to remember the last time she heard him laugh. Had it been on that planet, when they were running from the fire lion? Sylvia wasn't sure. She wished she had paid more attention to the little things like that...
The quiet of the prison level was disturbed by tiny footsteps, which Sylvia immediately identified as Westley's.
The thought of seeing the little watchdog again did not excite her, but it didn't make her angry, either. Nowadays, Sylvia found anger hard to come by, and had entered a sort of trance-like state, where everything felt like she was floating in space. She was detached, she was free, she was-
"Priva- I mean, Sergeant Westley, here to take the night shift."
No, she was angry. She was still very, very angry. Hearing his voice reminded her of that.
But the zbornak didn't show it. She merely turned her face away from the bars, her fingers closing tightly around the neck of the banjo. She heard the slightly slurred voices of the two guards.
"Sir, we weren't aware there was a replacement coming tonight."
"It was a last minute thing." Westley explained. "Lord Hater is planning another invasion of a nearby planet tomorrow and wants all his watchdogs in tip-top shape."
Sylvia could almost picture the two guards exchanging dubious looks.
"Really, sir, are you sure? I think we would've known about-"
"Lord Hater doesn't tell every watchdog everything." Came Westley's voice. Oh, how Sylvia hated that superior tone he'd adopted. "This is a new development, and he sent me to retire you two. Go get some sleep." The little guy ordered.
There was a pause, and Sylvia could tell the guards were torn. They wanted to be good watchdogs and stick to their posts, but they were tired...
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir."
Their footsteps eventually faded away.
Sylvia groaned inwardly. Great, now she had to spend the entire night listening to-
"Sylvia?" Westley called softly.
"Go away, ya flurfin' meat-slammer." Sylvia retorted harshly, rolling over so her back was to the watchdog.
There was a jangling sound, a sharp click, and then a loud, metal groan. Sylvia turned around to see that the door to her cell had retracted into the ceiling. Westley was standing there, holding a ring of keys in his gloved hand. Right then and there, Sylvia realized that if she wanted to escape, she had to push whatever feelings she had concerning Westley aside, at least for the time being.
"We don't have much time." Westley told her quickly, his eye wide with anxiety. "Here." He tossed Sylvia a round, smooth, metallic object before turning and racing down the hall.
"What the- where did you get this?!" Sylvia demanded, rushing after the little watchdog.
"It doesn't matter. Do you know how to hook it up?" Westley asked breathlessly.
"Yeah, I know how to work a bomb." Sylvia responded indignantly. "Where do ya want it?"
Westley pointed at a particular section of wall. Skidding to a halt, Sylvia punched a hole into the metal wall and began to connect the bomb to the inner wires. But before she attached the first wire, a loud siren went off and red lights began to flash.
Someone had triggered the alarm.
Westley pulled his blaster from his belt.
"Keep going!" The little watchdog told her. "I'll handle it!"
Sylvia grunted in response, her mind focused entirely on the task at hand. Westley raised his blaster and peered around the corner, firing at the approaching watchdog guards.
After a couple minutes, Westley was beginning to feel overwhelmed. He couldn't keep this position for long, and more watchdogs kept coming. He was about to ask Sylvia how much longer it would take when she suddenly yelled.
Westley quickly obliged, dropping to the ground and covering his head.
The bomb exploded, leaving a gaping hole in the wall.
"Yes!" Westley exclaimed, thrusting his fist in the air. "You did it! Let's go!"
The little watchdog raced towards the hole, followed closely by Sylvia, who was having second thoughts about this plan.
"What now?!" She demanded, avoiding the shots fired at them by the other watchdogs.
"We jump!" Westley responded.
"Jump!? Are you crazy!?" The zbornak shouted.
"Just trust me!" Westley told her. Sylvia said a quick mental prayer before leaping through the hole.
Instead of free falling through space, like she expected, Sylvia landed hard inside a mechanical cylinder.
An escape pod.
Westley fell in after her, blaster in hand and eye wide.
"They're after us!" He cried wildly. "Hit that button, we need to get out of here!" The watchdog pointed at a large button that read ENGAGE. Sylvia punched it and the ceiling hatch closed as the pod began to shake.
The escape pod rocketed off into space, taking Sylvia and Westley with it.
Now that they got away, now that they were safe, all Sylvia could think to do was build a campfire.
Luckily, the planet they had landed on had an abundance of dry twigs and brambles. In a few minutes, Sylvia had collected a satisfactory pile and had a small blaze going. She sat down across Westley, both fugitives facing each other wordlessly.
Westley was certain Sylvia would wake up from whatever trance she was in and rip him limb from limb. He was surprised he'd lasted this long, quite frankly. The little watchdog was a ball of nerves; fidgeting with his gloves and shifting around anxiously. He wanted to say something, but he quickly lost his nerve before he could form the words.
After all, what did you say to the person who's best friend had been executed because of you?
So Westley didn't say anything. Instead, he pulled out a small square of folded fabric. Setting it down in front of him, Westley unfolded the object, dusting it off and smoothing out the wrinkles.
Sylvia stared at the slightly droopy, faded, green hat. The star adorning it seemed dimmer, somehow.
The zbornak inhaled sharply and glanced at Westley for an explanation, her eyebrows raised.
"I, uh... thought you m-might want to have it." The watchdog stuttered, rubbing his arm nervously. "So I asked L-Lord Hater if I could keep it as a trophy. Heh..." Westley looked at the ground, his voice cracking.
Sylvia didn't respond. Instead, she reached over and picked up the hat; carefully, hesitantly, as if she wasn't entirely sure it was there. She gently cradled it close to her body, looking up at Westley with a mixture of emotions.
Westley took a deep breath.
"Sylvia, I... I'm sorry. I know that doesn't mean anything. I know it doesn't help, or change anything, but I am." He told her. "That night in the cave... I got this feeling I've never had before, like... when I was with you and... Wander... it felt right. It felt like... family."
The watchdog's eye began to water.
"I'm s-sorry!" He choked. "I'm so, s-so sorry! I-I-I didn't mean to- I mean I didn't know that... I mean, I knew Lord Hater was the bad guy, and t-that by working for him, I was a bad guy, but... I never thought Lord Hater would... that he'd.."
Westley wrapped his arms tightly around himself.
"When I heard about t-the.. execution.. I just... I was too scared to do anything." He admitted, glancing away. "I didn't want to believe it. I didn't want t-to believe that Lord H-Hater would... kill him."
The watchdog squeezed his eye shut.
"I wanted to do something, but every time I thought about breaking you out, I got this tight feeling in my chest, like I couldn't breathe. I was so hung up on not betraying Lord Hater that I betrayed you, and I betrayed Wander. And I am so, so sorry for that."
Westley looked up at Sylvia apprehensively.
"I don't expect you to forgive me, because I don't deserve forgiveness." The watchdog's voice quivered. "I actually expected you to, well, beat me to a pulp. And I still do. B-but before you do, I just want you to know, I'm sorry."
Sylvia didn't quite know what to make of it all. Part of her did want to beat Westley to a pulp, and maybe she would have, before. But now, she couldn't bring herself to raise a fist against the watchdog, because she knew Wander would've been devastated.
All Wander had ever shown was kindness. She knew he had never been fond of her violent tendencies, but he'd understood the necessity of self defense, even though he always preferred to solve his problems peacefully. If she hurt Westley in the name of vengeance, she knew he wouldn't approve.
When Sylvia didn't attack him liken he'd expected, Westley gave her an incredulous look.
"You're not going to hurt me?" He ventured, hardly daring to believe it.
Sighing, Sylvia gave him a sad smile.
"Nah." She said, her gaze resting on Wander's hat. "You see, you're right. I can't forgive you, but that doesn't mean I hate you, and it doesn't mean I can't give you a second chance." Sylvia told him.
"It's what Wander would've wanted." She added quietly, absentmindedly running her finger over the star on Wander's hat.
The pair was silent for a moment, the only sound coming from the crackling fire.
"It's just you and me now, pal." Sylvia said softly. "There's still so much more to see in this universe, so many new people to meet, and good deeds to be done. Wander would want me to move on. Why don't ya come with me?" She offered.
Sylvia held out Wander's hat, inviting him to reach inside.
Westley looked at the zbornak in disbelief.
"You still want to be my friend? After all I've done?!" He exclaimed. "I-I've done a horrible, horrible, thing. How can you... h-how can you trust me so easily?" The watchdog asked in confusion.
"Because Wander trusted you." Sylvia told him quietly. "He saw something in you, something special. He knew there was good in you, and that's good enough for me."
Westley hesitantly reached towards Wander's hat. Sylvia nodded reassuringly.
"Go for it." She encouraged him.
The little watchdog plunged his gloved hand into Wander's hat, digging around for a moment before pulling away, clutching something tightly.
In his hand was a cap.
It was a simple black cap; smooth and rounded. It resembled the one Westley was currently wearing, except instead of a lightning bolt, it was adorned with a cheerful, yellow star, almost identical to the one on Wander's hat.
Westley stared at the cap for a moment before putting it on his head, trading the lightning bolt for the star. He looked up at Sylvia.
"What do we do now?" He asked her.
Sylvia smiled and placed the hat on her head.
"Whatever we want to, pal."
So they travel.
They head far, far away to some distant corner of the universe. Away from the galaxy, and away from Hater's ship. Sylvia knows that she'll run into Lord Hater eventually, but right now she just needs to get away, go somewhere new. Meet some new people, see some new places. As they leave the galaxy behind, Sylvia suddenly understands Wander's intense desire to keep moving. Before, she'd never understood his reluctance to settle down, but now she did.
Just a little too late, she understood.
They travel for days.
Westley is quiet. He walks on eggshells around Sylvia, because he knows that nothing he could ever say or do would make up for the terrible thing he's done. He honestly can't believe that she can stand to be around him, because if their roles were reversed, if it was his closest friend that had been executed, he knows he would never be able to forgive the person responsible.
The days stretch into weeks, and they land on the first populated planetoid in the small galaxy.
The people are tall, and bright, and stretchy and bendy. They have curly horns, they wobble around, and talk in quivery voices. They look odd, speak odd, and act odd.
Sylvia knows Wander would have loved them.
But the planet isn't peaceful; a local monster has been descending from its cave every night for six months to feed on the villager's meager crops. The people have tried fighting it off, but they lack the strength required to do so. So Sylvia does what she knows best: she helps.
She and Westley climb up the mountain leading to the monster's cave.
The beast is huge. It's a mammal; bulky and furry with a large snout,beady eyes, and floppy ears. Its fur is clumpy and light teal in color, and its feet end in massive hooves. Just as Sylvia is preparing to go in and fight the monster, Westley surprises her and himself by approaching first.
He talks to it.
Westley learns that the monster is a mother trying to feed herself enough in preparation for her approaching litter.
And the 'it' becomes a 'she'. A 'she' in need of some help.
So Sylvia and Westley work out a deal between the villagers and the beast. The villagers will gladly share their crops in return for help plowing fields. The she-beast's strength is much greater than the people's, and she can do the work with ease. The crop fields flourish, and the she-beast gives birth to a healthy litter of four. So for the first time in six months, the village is happy.
And for the first time since Wander's death, Sylvia doesn't feel so alone.
The weeks stretch into months, and some things are different.
Even though she doesn't mean to, Sylvia finds herself subconsciously comparing Westley to Wander in every little way and noticing how different they are. Westley never holds Sylvia's reins. He always keeps his balance by holding onto the edge of her saddle, or her neck in extreme situations. He's never as comfortable in the saddle as Wander was. Sylvia is always aware of Westley's presence on her back, sitting stiff and upright. She remembers the way Wander would lean back against her, fitting right into the curve of her neck, and she misses it.
She never really did get the hang of playing the banjo, but every now and then she strums a few chords by the fire, even though she can't play a song or a recognizable tune. It makes her sad though, so she doesn't do it very often.
The hat never feels quite right on her head. A little too heavy, a little too light. A little too loose, a little too tight. Nevertheless, it serves her well. Sylvia had long ago unlocked the mysteries of the mystic hat, and it hasn't failed her yet. But there is something missing from the hat, and Sylvia knows it can't be fixed.
No one ever calls her Syl, or Sylvie. Westley doesn't dare try and give her a nickname. He doesn't want to overstep his boundaries, or, glorn forbid, try to replace Wander. He always calls her Sylvia, and she can't help but notice the name doesn't roll off his tongue very smoothly. Wander would pronounce it 'Syl-vi-AH' in that drawling voice of his. Westley says it all at once, almost in two syllables; 'Syl-via'. It sounds so different in his voice.
In the months they've been travelling, Westley had changed quite a bit. He hasn't grown physically; he's still the short, squishy, little watchdog she first met. But he has grown so much in character that Sylvia can't help but be proud. He's even picked up a few of her fighting moves, and become much more capable on his own.
The months stretch into years, and some things haven't changed.
Sylvia notices all the little ways that Westley is like Wander. He has Wander's sense of wonder and fascination. He loves stargazing. Every new place they go, Westley is wide-eyed with admiration. He's helpful and friendly to everyone they meet, and Sylvia knows he's taken Wander's words to heart. She also knows that he's trying to make up for what he did by doing good. Westley knows he can't really make up for it, but he can try.
Some things are never the same.
Sylvia can and has moved on, but she'll never forget Wander. There isn't a day that goes by where she doesn't think about him. But the difference between remembering and dwelling is how she thinks about him.
She'll see a beautiful planet and think how much Wander would love it.
Or she'll see a funny hat and just know Wander would've traded his and taken a goofy picture.
Even seeing a piece of jellyfish pie will bring a fond smile to her face.
But there are still bad days, and even worse nights.
Sometimes Sylvia will fall asleep and then she'll see him, strapped into that chair. And then the button gets pressed and electricity (green lightning, just like Hater's) will course through the chair and into Wander, and this time he screams. Sylvia wakes up with his screams ringing in her ears, and the scent of burning fur on the wind.
Westley wakes up on those nights, too. They always seem to have nightmares at the same time. Sylvia doesn't know if it's because their bond is growing deeper, like hers was with Wander, but when it happens she can't bring herself to care. They just hold each other until the fear passes and the tears stop.
Some days Sylvia will start crying, and she'll hurt so badly she thinks she'll die of it. Sometimes she wishes she would die, so she could see Wander again, but she also knows he would be very disappointed in her. So she just cries. Westley provides wordless comfort, patting her back gently and hating himself because he caused all this. It's on these days they feel the closest.
Years pass and the pain fades. Sylvia and Westley move on from galaxy to galaxy, always keeping just out of Lord Hater's reach. She knows she'll have to face him someday, but for now she can just enjoy travelling with Westley, and relish this feeling of peace.
Some nights, when the air is cold but the campfire is warm, and Sylvia dozes off into that place between dreams and reality, she'll hear a familiar song begin to play...
~Oh, wonder... over yonder... and check out this and that!~
~If you wander, over yonder... best be sure to wear your hat.~
~All the sights that you will see...~
~and you certainly will be free.~
~If you wander over yonder, just you and me!~
And Sylvia will smile and watch the stars, because she knows he loved them so.
"Just you and me..."