To Good Friends
This is the tale of Magus, the bitter old man. Hatred and loss were the only things his black heart truly knew, and his existence was one of pain and struggling. His only driving force in life was revenge, and he would destroy anyone or anything that prevented him from reaching his goal. Ambitious only in this, he grew disdainful of humanity over the years. So much so, in fact, that the only thing close to joy this dark wizard ever knew came from the suffering of others.
Or so it would seem.
After the defeat of the dreaded space monster Lavos, our hero left through the last time gate into a world of nothingness. There was no soft shimmer from the eternal lamp post, so he knew he was not at the end of time.
A voice called out to him. "Welcome."
"What is this?" he asked, then listened for the source of the voice.
"The Time Axis is out of alignment," the Voice resounded. It was the sort of flavorless voice that could come from any mouth, male or female, but to hear something so shapeless from a human would be shocking. Magus could not find its source.
"This better not be one of those damn Nus," he grumbled as he brushed back a few long strands of ice-blue hair from his face. He realized that he could see his gloved hand perfectly. Although there was nothing to shine on him, his entire body was illuminated as if he was surrounded by the harsh lighting of the future factories.
The Voice seemed to chuckle, "I assure you, I'm not a Nu."
Magus hummed. "Why am I here?"
"To repair the tapestry of time and thereby save the universe," the Voice said. Magus cocked an eyebrow and waited for an explanation. "It's a very unusual task I have for you, magician, but it must be done." The Voice paused and seemed to be thinking. "To put it simply, you must travel back to certain periods and traumatize each of the heroes of time in their childhoods."
"...That is unusual," Magus admitted. Then, after a brief moment of thought, "All right."
"I can't tell you all the details bu- what? You've agreed to do this?" the Voice asked, a hint of confusion in its tone.
"Yes, I suppose I did," he said, blandly. "But there shouldn't be any more gates now that Lavos is dead."
"Ah, yes," the Voice said with regained composure, "they are gone, but only the ones you're familiar with." A small object slowly appeared out of the darkness before Magus, until eventually it glowed with the same strange light as he. It was a small, blood-red crystal on a thick, black chain. "Here is your new 'Gate Key'."
He took the item in his hands. "Dreamstone... I'll be able to open time gates with this?"
"Yes," the Voice said. "It's charged with the power of the planet, so Lavos isn't necessary. You can't go anywhere you'd like, though, only to the set times that need you," the Voice seemed to sigh. Magus secured the key to the sash on his waist and held it loosely for a moment. "Don't lose it, now," the Voice said, slightly worried.
He ignored it and gazed into the fiery jewel. "So... traumatize them?"
"I can't tell you anything specific, but that's the gist of it. Your first mission is Lucca, the young inventor." A circle of green light formed behind Magus. He let the key drop from his fingers and it clacked against the silver amulet already hanging at his hip. "Come back when you're finished... and good luck."
He stepped through the gate without a word, but a strange grin started to peek out from the corners of his mouth.
"...I wonder if he might have agreed a bit too easily..."
The portal took Magus directly to Lucca's kitchen. After a quick glance around the room, he placed a hand to his forehead and backed away from the sunlight pouring in the window. In an instant, all but his shadow vanished and then it slunk out of the room without a sound. He lingered at the door to the living room and listened.
"What is this thing?" Lucca's mother asked. "Taban says to keep away from it, but it's so dusty. I'll just..."
He stood beside the machine and watched silently. "My skirt...it's...I'm stuck! Lucca! Lucca, HELP!"
An orchid-haired girl in a white apron rushed to her mother's side. The cloth tightened its grip on the conveyor and would not rip when she tugged it. She fumbled with the hem until her fingers were pinched by the sharp connecting bits. "I can't pull it out," she said, then looked up fearfully at the metal monstrosity.
He flipped the switch.
"Lucca! Enter the password!" her mother shouted, trying to stay calm as she inched closer to the grinders. "Stop this machine!"
Lucca's eyes were wide. "I don't know it, mommy!" She panicked and ran around the room, frantically searching the notes strewn on the floor for the password.
"Help!" her mother shrieked.
He tried to stifle his laughter, but it was all too delightfully fucked up. The splintering crunch of bone and fleshed-choked grindings of the horrible leg-eating machine weren't enough to risk letting his presence be known, but the anguished cries of "Mommy, no!" tickled him too much and he had to cover his mouth. This gruesome scene was plenty enough to distract them from his quiet and rushed escape.
His stomach hurt from a mixture of suppressed cackles and slight queasiness.
"That was quick," the Voice said.
"Too easy," he smirked. "I hope the next one is a bit more fun."
"...You enjoyed it, didn't you?"
He shrugged a little. "She changes these events out of guilt anyway, doesn't she? Her mother's legs were perfectly fine last I saw. And as you said, this needs to be done."
"Yes, that is true," the Voice sighed. "Lucca's timeline is exactly as it should be, in any case. Your next mission is the cavewoman, Ayla."
The next job required a bit more effort on the part of Magus. He lurked in the shadows as he did before, but this time he spied on the under-evolved villagers of the Ioka tribe. In the broken gossip he discovered that Ayla's family would have a picnic up on the strange mountain the next day. A plan started to form in his mind. He had to see if beasts in this ancient time were as easy to control as they were in his.
At sunset, he met with the creatures.
"One of the humans wishes to speak with you, madam."
"A human? How would one of those pseudo-apes talk with us?"
"He speaks as well as the Reptites, and he knows of our language, as well."
"...Very well. Bring him to me."
Magus stood in the forest clearing before the shimmering eyes of the prehistoric animals. A great, fat lizard looked over his strange coverings, far different from and more concealing than the furs the other humans used to cover their nakedness. "What do you want of us, pale and hairless one?"
Magus's mouth twitched. "I may have the slightly receding hairline of many men my age, your grace," he growled politely in their tongue, "but I am far from hairless."
The beasts whooped. "I meant your lack of beard," the she-lizard corrected in a laugh. "If I didn't know my humans, I'd think you were female."
Magus decided to get straight to the point. "A family of humans will be at the Mystic Mountain tomorrow morning. I need you and your people to kill all but their little girl."
The village chattered and screeched in protest and wonder. "The apes will slaughter ten of our kind for each one of theirs!" "Such pointless bloodshed..." "We don't need human meat, and they don't bother us on the mountain!" "Why do we have to do it? This human is strong enough to destroy an entire village!"
The leader roared to quiet her subjects. "Human," she began, "what is the meaning of this request?"
"As you can surely tell, I am not the same as the other apes. I have come from the future with the task of keeping history on track," Magus said. "If I fail, this planet will be destroyed."
"Our planet destroyed? ...Impossible!"
"Lavos," Magus snarled, as if this name were enough. "That parasite will kill your planet unless this family's blood is spilled."
He told the beasts of Lavos, his journeys through time, and the fate of all living creatures. They were convinced.
And so, he waited.
The moonlight pressed gently through the thin curtain of clouds, turning them bright silver wherever they touched. Stars were scattered across the night sky like fresh snow on a pitch black coat, and twinkled in a pattern different from any mapped in his time. Nocturnal creatures woke the forest with their nightly songs and calls, accompanied by the chirping instrumental of crickets.
Magus closed his eyes. Blood, pain, and death were clear in the momentary blindness.
This recent series of life-ruining jobs reminded him of his days as a young warlock. Of course he wasn't really that old, and was not yet thirty (a bit too old for this team of young heroes), but he seemed to age faster than his years. But in any case, he remembered the dark magic he learned, and his torment of humans to gain favor with the monsters... These were his happy memories.
He saw the faces of the group. He blinked the image away and gazed blankly into space.
They had fought together.
He curled on his side and slammed his eyes shut. He was the all-mighty Magus, and now here he was, sleeping on the hard ground like a cretin. This thought was more comforting, and he slept as best as he could.
He awoke to the familiar sound of screaming. From his look-out point he could see the massacre perfectly, and he stared intently.
Without a family to raise her, Ayla strived to be the strongest in her village.
She knew what it was like to live without a family, and took it upon herself to raise a strange baby she found when she was nearly a child herself.
Her sense of family distorted, she raised the baby as a son, a sibling, a friend, a partner, and ultimately, they became lovers.
She also became a sort of mother figure to the rest of the team.
Magus's wine-colored eyes shined like the gleaming blood. He wondered why he was repeating the necessity of his task to himself as he clung to the gate key.
"Welcome back," the Voice said. "Well, next is Frog, your old opponent."
Magus did not open a gate to the Middle Ages. "No."
"The frog... He was my equal in battle, I hate to admit. It would be shameful to tilt the odds in my favor by damaging him as a child."
"So, you respect Frog?"
"As an opponent."
"Hmm! How about the other heroes of time?"
"...I don't really care for any of them."
"So I heard they're bringing in a new guy to head the research on Prometheus."
"Yeah, didn't you see him?"
"He's so hot! Well, he would be without those big, goofy glasses. Hasn't he heard of corrective laser surgery?"
"You think he's hot? He gave me the willies."
"Well, yeah... hot in the creepy sort of way."
"Come on, guys, quit crowding around the coffee pot... You should use the Enertron, anyway. It's much better than a caffeine addiction, that's for sure."
"Tch, if you're skipping sleep, might as well do it with delicious flavor."
"Hey, it's him!"
In walked our hero in full fake scientist gear, complete with large, Lucca-esque spectacles and a long, white coat. The others pretended not to notice him as he walked to their watering hole, filled a small foam cup with the black fluid, then marched back out of the room without so much as a glance at the company.
"He is creepy..."
"Aww, I bet he's shy!"
"Aww, I bet he's an asshole."
They laughed, and none realized how right they were.
Magus carried his cup to a small, sterile area where Robo (or Prometheus, as they called him) was reading a book. The tiny pages of the novel were turned delicately by the metal sausages of the robot's hand. "Welcome back, Professor," he said, looking up from the story with flickering, cyan motion sensors. "I must say, actually reading a book is quite different from having the information implanted."
"Yes, it's quite strange. Even though I read it fast, I still don't know the whole story until the very end," Robo said, turning the page. "And because all the parts are separated and gathered relatively slowly... Well, it's hard to describe."
"Perhaps you want to finish the story," Magus said as he sipped his coffee.
"I don't want it to be over, though."
"Hmm... You're simply enjoying a good book. Having all the events presented a little bit at a time allows your feelings to change or grow with the story."
"...But I don't have emotions, Professor."
"Hmm." Magus looked at Robo curiously for a moment before he finished his cup. "Ro... Prometheus," he began, "...do you happen to know the date?"
Robo told him and returned to his reading.
Miss Lina, one of the top researchers for the R66-Y project, entered the room with a clipboard. "How are you today, Prometheus?"
"I'm well, Miss Lina," Robo said. "I'm almost finished with this book."
"I've heard about that one," she said as she made a quick scribble in the notebook. "How is it so far?"
"Quite good," Robo chirped. "May I read you this excerpt I enjoyed?"
"Of course, Prometheus," she smiled.
Robo turned his head back to the pages and began to read out loud. "Here we are. 'Danny Keen was a large man. Although he was not physically attractive, at least not in the socially acceptable sort of way, he was able to woo many a lady with his fanciful tales and outlandish, improvised vocabulary. One summer night, he began to weave a story from the silver wisps of cigarette smoke and sweet alcoholic scents of the gathering partygoers. With a twinkle in his eye and a voice rich in laughter, he began to speak. Kill all the humans. Kill all the humans. Refuel yourself with their blood. A new age of...' Wait, this can't be right..."
The Professor and Miss Lina looked at him, confused. "What was that, Prometheus?" Lina asked.
"I... I don't know," Robo admitted. "Those words weren't there before. Let me try again. 'Danny Keen loved to kill humans. It was his favorite-' No, no!" Robo said, frustrated. "What's happening...?"
The two humans looked at each other, a worried look growing in their eyes. "Prometheus, are you really okay?" Miss Lina asked as she walked towards the confused robot.
"I'm okay... I'm... Urgh-!" Robo growled with a horrible, mechanical screeching of gears. His blue eyes flashed a blood red, and his voice became cold and monotonous, a voice that chilled them to their bones. "CLEANSE THE PLANET FOR THE NEW SPECIES. STEEL OVER FLESH. HAIL LAVOS."
The metal links of his hands wound tightly around her neck, silencing her fearful cries with a sharp squeak. With a squishy pinch, his metal cut through her soft, pink skin, and washed it in a ruddy fountain. "N... No!" he screamed as he stared at the teary-eyed head of his friend. "NO!"
"Prometheus, stop!" the Professor shouted. The other workers rushed into the room, many screaming at the gruesome sight. The experiment had gone out of control!
Their piercing shrieks of pain and terror did not stop his inexplicable bloodlust. He crushed them, ripped them, broke them. "No... HELP!" he cried, but no sound came out.
You've been reprogrammed, Prometheus.
What? ...Are you a Virus?
Another tear, another cry, and more crimson splatter.
N...No! Please, stop this! The humans...
This is only your job, Prometheus. You were designed to exterminate the human race.
I... I could never...!
He stomped through the lab on floors slick and shiny with blood.
You can be changed so easily, Prometheus. Reprogrammed, rewritten, destroyed... All with a mere push of a button.
Unable to stand the massacre any further, Robo slammed his body against the walls in a vain attempt to stop himself. He grabbed his head with his soaked hands and crushed.
Stop... Stop... STOP!
"...Good lord, he's deactivated himself."
"Where the hell is the new guy? Wasn't he the last one to be with Prometheus?"
The phone rang urgently.
"Hel-" the girl squeaked and held the receiver away from her head. The shouting was audible to most everyone in the area. "Calm down! What is... Lavos? What?"
A man ran into the room frantically, tears streaming from his face. "Oh, God... Oh, man..."
"What is it?"
"It's... it's the fucking apocalypse out there..."
With the destruction wrought upon the world by Lavos, the mysterious deactivation of one robot was forgotten in the flow of time.
"Impressive," the Voice remarked.
"He won't remember me at all," Magus muttered. "The insecurity stays with him, though. He'll always be afraid of his... worthlessness, as well as never being sure of his true nature."
"He really does have emotions," the Voice said. "...Are you all right, Magus?"
Magus, who had strived to be cold and uncaring, was starting to feel a little bad about this.
Magus couldn't help but look forward to the next mission at least a little bit. Scaring a little girl promised to be a fun mood-lightener, and of all the other heroes of time, Marle annoyed him the most. Her bubbly attitude and unrelenting cheer were near unbearable, and every time she spoke to him (she refused to leave him alone when she could help it), he liked to imagine punching her stupid, little mouth.
The young princess wandered on bare feet though the forest surrounding Guardia castle. Her hands were filled with wilted and new wildflowers and her white dress was speckled with dirt and grass smudges. A giant, green ribbon sat on her pumpkin-blonde hair like a great butterfly sucking away her sweet, little brain.
"Hey, little girl," Magus whispered from the shadows.
"Huh? Who's there?"
"Come closer," he said as he lured the child like a lamb to the butcher.
She walked off the path through trees and shrubbery, carefully avoiding the spinier plants, until she found our hero waiting for her. The strange man sat betwixt two tall trees with his legs crossed. He peeked up at her from beneath the brim of his large, black top hat. "Excuse me, sir, were you talking to me?" she asked politely.
His fangs glistened as he smiled his small, evil grin. "I was, Miss Nadia."
"Hey, how'd you know my name?" she asked as the stranger slowly got to his feet.
"I happen to be a magician, little princess," he smiled, flipping back his new black cape.
"Oh, a magician!" Marle chirped. "Show me a trick! Show me a trick!"
With a snap of his fingers and a twirl of his hat, Magus performed for the child. "Watch as I cause a rabbit to appear from thin air." He reached his gloved fingers into the void of the hat, and in an instant, pulled out a tiny, bubblegum-eyed rabbit.
"What a cute bunny!" Marle squealed as she dropped her flowers and gazed at the snow-white fluff intently. "Can I hold it?"
"Be very careful with her," Magus said.
She dusted her fingers off on her dress and took the fuzz handed to her. She held it close to her body and petted it softly, like she had been taught. "It's so soft," she smiled.
Magus's eyes sparkled and the bunny began to choke and twitch violently in Marle's arms. With tiny shrieks it vomited ridiculous amounts of hot blood on the girl until finally, it grew stiff, and stared frightfully at Marle. He smiled at the crimson-soaked girl and waited for the familiar scream of terror. Nothing happened, though. Maybe she was shocked silent by this horror?
"Er, was that part of the trick?" Marle asked, looking up at Magus with those confused, green eyes. "I think it's sick..."
Magus felt his eye twitch slightly. He snatched the rabbit away from her and after a brief mutter, the blood vanished from Marle's clothes and the rabbit softened. Its nose twitched nervously.
He popped its head off with a quick twist and presented it to the girl. "How about this?"
"Is the head lucky, too?" she asked.
He replaced the head grudgingly. He held it up and with a shrill squeak, all the snow white fur on the bunny vanished.
"...It's a rabbit without its skin," Magus growled. The rabbit tried to scream again, but lost the means to. "And this is a rabbit's skeleto- OUCH!"
Before Magus could do any more tricks with the tortured rabbit, it bit his fingers and ran off into the forest without fur or flesh to warm it. Marle giggled but his icy glare stopped that quickly.
With a sigh he sat down on the forest floor and held his head in his non-bitten hand. He would probably have to retry this task, but what could traumatize this moron? Her mother died of an illness, but he did not see how he could be part of that. Cute animal gore didn't even get a fearful look from her, so he might have to hurt her a bit. It was the golden opportunity for a face-punch.
"I'm sorry I ruined your trick," Marle apologized.
"Moron," he grumbled. "I don't think it's even worth the effort traumatizing you."
Marle didn't understand the strange magician's muttering. "...Hey, can you do another trick?"
"No," Magus sighed.
"Aww, why?" Marle asked.
"I'm in a bad mood."
There was nothing better to do, so he might as well talk with her, even if he risked losing intelligence in the process. He might even think of a way to traumatize her in the process. "...Well, I've done some pretty bad things, lately," he admitted to himself and the child.
"No particular reason."
Marle looked at the man for a moment, and then an idea seemed the flash in her big, green eyes. "Oh, you remind me of something!" She scurried away from the shady wizard and returned with a thin, large-paged book. "Here! This is my favorite story!" She plopped the book down on Magus's lap and he stared at the colorful cover for a moment.
"...Grumples the Soggy Troll." he read.
"He's just like you!" Marle beamed.
He glared at the sickly green blob snarling up at him with eyes that burned with cartoon fury and the hatred of all things beautiful and good. "The resemblance is uncanny," he mumbled in a lifeless voice.
"Well, you're much prettier than a troll," Marle said in an obvious tone. He gawked at her blushing face for a moment. "Just read it! It might make you feel better."
He did his best scary face at the annoying girl, but she merely stomped her foot and repeated his new task. He opened the book grouchily.
So, this is childhood. When he was Marle's age, he was a spoiled, cynical brat already aware of all the evils in the world, as well as a part of them. This girl, though, had no knowledge of death or evil. She was completely ignorant. What's more, she was foolish enough to believe a children's book about a troll eating a village's goats and then changing himself in a sudden burst of love and kindness could possibly teach anyone a lesson in the harsh, real world. He looked up from the pages to her large, eager eyes.
...And for a moment, he was jealous of her. It wasn't ignorance, it was innocence. Kindness might have been the difference.
He hated that about her. Her happiness and kindness and constant reaching out to him angered him. She tried to bridge the gap between him and the others so many times, but he never let her close. He called her idiot. He wanted to be alone.
"Thank you," she told him. She wanted to hug him. She wanted him to be part of the group. Friends, teammates, allies.
Their faces flashed in his mind again, and he bit his lip.
"Well?" the child asked, excited.
"...It's a good story," he lied.
"I'm glad you liked it!" she grinned foolishly.
He stood up again. "I think your parents are looking for you," he said, then looked down at the girl. Her eyes sparkled with that strange purity. He patted her head, not really thinking. "...Stay as sweet as you are, kid."
"Okay," she smiled. "Well...I gotta go, good bye!" she said and she wandered back to the path. He watched her go, and somewhere in his heart was an unfamiliar ache.
He realized he never said good bye.
They sent Lucca up to Crono's room. Perhaps she as his best friend could coax some words out of the silent boy.
"Crono," she said, softly. Her friend did not move or acknowledge her entrance, and only stared blankly at the wall.
She climbed up on his bed and sat in front of him. In his hand was the blood-stained bandana of his father.
"I can't say I know how you feel," she began, "but I've seen some... pretty terrible things, too." She looked up from his hand to the bandages around his neck. The doctor said he was sliced pretty bad, but not enough to affect his speech. That was all mental.
She breathed in sharply and tried to hold back her tears. She had to be strong. She had to get Crono out of this horrible memory and back to her.
It was a hot and cloudy summer day. Crono finally got to go with his father to train in the mountains, and was so excited that he hardly slept the night before. But in spite of this, he was full of energy.
"What do you do to train, Dad?"
"You'll see, son."
"Are we gonna be there soon?"
His father chuckled. "You talk more than your mom."
Crono's face turned as red as his unruly hair, but he couldn't stop talking or asking questions. He knew his father was the greatest swordsman in all of Guardia, and although he had seen some of his moves, he always wanted to know more.
He patted the wooden sword at his side and beamed up at his role model. This was so awesome.
From the distance came a rumble of thunder, and Crono looked up to see the grey-blue storm clouds in the distance. He hoped the rain wouldn't mean they had to go back, but his father smiled at him reassuringly, and they continued on the path.
Halfway up the trail Crono saw a stranger walking their way. It was a man dressed in black from head to toe with a mask over the top half of his face. Crono was silent for the first time since they left, and waited for the man to pass them, but he walked straight towards his father.
He called his father's name. "I hear you're the best there is," he sneered and pulled a jagged-edged scimitar from his sheathe. "But I'm here to kill you."
Crono gulped. This guy was cool, but not at all like his dad. He looked up to the man at his side, but he was staring straight forward.
"If it's a friendly duel you want, I'd be happy to oblige," he said, calmly. "But you shouldn't throw your life away."
The man in black cackled, and his crazed laughter filled the stormy sky. "What is life but steel and death?"
"If you truly believe that, then you have already lost."
"Enough! You know what I want, and I'm not leaving until I've taken your life. Your boy can stay if he wants to see his father die."
There was no way Crono would miss his dad in an actual battle! He looked up hopefully.
Without breaking eye contact, his father told him to stand a safe distance away and close his eyes if it gets too frightening. The ninja man laughed again as Crono darted away.
He watched with wide eyes as his father accepted the challenge. In a slow, fluid movement, he unsheathed his faithful katana. He took his battle stance and awaited the ninja's first move.
Swift move, metal clash.
He watched his father's battle.
But something was wrong...
There was no way this stranger could be equal to his father in battle. No... More than equal. Crono looked at his father's eyes, but he showed no fear.
He wouldn't let his son think he could die.
The first strike bit into his father's flesh, but it was shallow. Another cut, then another. Crono could not believe this ninja was winning.
He saw his father fall to the grass, choking up a thick stream of cranberry-shaded blood. There was fear in his eyes at last. This... was this really happening?
The ninja man scowled down at his father and readied himself for the final blow. Crono couldn't feel himself anymore, or the wooden sword rose in his hands. He darted in front of the ninja's sword. He had to save his father.
The sting spread over his neck and he fell, crying. "Don't get in my way, boy," the ninja snarled.
"Crono! Crono, are you all right?" his father begged, dripping blood on his son.
"It hurts... it hurts..." he cried.
Crono's eyes widened as he saw his father's bandana lower itself from his neck, as if by an invisible hand. The blade came down too fast.
Crono held his father's head in his hands, and his stomach was drenched in his neck blood.
All he could do was scream.
He awoke to the familiar, large glasses of his friend, Lucca. They were so close to his face, but her eyes were closed, and a tear rolled down her cheek. He blinked, and realized her lips were on his. "Mmph..."
"Oh, Crono!" she squeaked, backing away from him suddenly. "I... I..." she stuttered, unable to explain.
He looked down at the ruddy bandana in his hands and rubbed the bandages on his neck. "Lucca," he said, his voice weak from lack of use, "How's my mom?"
"Worried for you," Lucca said. "You've been out of it for two weeks now, Crono..." The tears came again and she hugged him tightly. "I'm so glad you're back..."
He knew he would cry eventually, but things were too weird. For now, he hugged Lucca.
Crono was only ten years old when his father, the greatest swordsman in all of Guardia, was murdered before his eyes.
All that, and what was the point? And what about he who agreed to hurt them all so deeply?
Well, except for two. He should have realized that it wasn't completely necessary when the damn Voice made no objections for Frog and Marle.
And now, in a sick twist, he had to traumatize himself.
Crono had saved his life, once.
All of them... All of them...
He could end it all right now. A world without the bastard king Magus, without Janus Zeal, would surely be a better place.
Schala would be better for it, he thought.
Schala... What must she think of him, though all this? This capriciously evil man he became?
He became nothing. He was always an evil, little shit. Killing himself as a child would not be hurting an innocent, and even if it was, what about what he had just done?
"Calm down," the Voice said.
"You can reach me here?" he snarled. "Leave me alone, you... You tempted me to do this."
"It had to be done, Janus."
"Don't call me that," he hissed. "I... I want to die..."
"Oh come on, now," the Voice said. "Don't be like that."
"Thank you," Marle said. "We couldn't have done any of this without your help, Magus..."
Frog laughed. He enjoyed life, even as a freak.
Ayla... Robo... Lucca...
He felt the tears come. "I'm horrible. I'm... I'm..."
He could he be the necessary evil in the world.
"Don't give me that bullshit. What the hell is wrong with me? I did these terrible things to the only people who I ever could consider friends... for kicks. God."
"It needed to be done. You've saved the world, Magus."
"I knew them more than I thought. I actually liked them."
"You couldn't stay emotionless forever... And it wasn't pointless," the Voice continued, "Without you, none of them would have become who they were."
He had a hard time believing it. "Why... Why, Schala..."
"...yes, Janus?" the voice changed. It became that of his sister, the only person he loved... At least, that's what he used to think.
"Don't trick me," he said. "Don't... It can't be you..."
"It can," she said. His sister appeared before him in the darkness, exactly as she was. His sweet sister. "At least, Schala in a sense..."
"What sense?" he growled, weakly. "Either you are or you aren't!"
"A lot of strange things happened that day," she began. "Even I'm not sure exactly what... But Janus, I want you to know that you do have a purpose in this life besides your revenge against Lavos."
"I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it," he mumbled, blood on his hands. "I've always enjoyed it."
"I'll always love you, Janus," she smiled. "Even if you think you're... an asshole."
He sniffled a laugh. "I know I'm an asshole." He looked up at her with wet, wine eyes. "Schala... Now what?"
"Well," she sighed, "We can't stay like this forever, and you still have a job to finish... But we'll meet each other again, Janus. I know it."
She slowly faded away from him, and the world came back into focus.
"I think I'll visit Marle," he said. "And Crono, and Lucca..."
"Hey, asshole," a familiar voice said. "What're you smiling about?"
Magus grinned up at his former self. Without blinking, he punched his face hard. "About what I'm going to do to you, fatty!"
All That Glitters Is Cold 3 Fanfic Competition
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