Chrono Trigger Culminations Chapter 1

By Jerm

"Hey, help me move this!"

Cid looked up from his position in the doorway, a large piece of metal and electronics bundled in his arms. Lucca was standing across the room beside a large bookcase, half again as tall as she was. She was casually leaning against it, although obviously winded. He quickly discarded the junk in a move very close to dropping it. The machinery struck the ground with a dull and muffled ring as Cid half-stepped, half-tripped over it on his way to help Lucca push the bookcase away from the corner of the room.

"Careful with that, Cid," Lucca chided him, "It may be out of use for now, but we don't want to break any of its parts and be left without gates when we would need them."

Cid gave a brief look back at the small segment of the dismantled gatekeeper, as if he could tell from where he was if it was still in order. "Sorry," he replied shaking his head, then changed the subject, "Why are we moving this?"

"We'll pile the pieces in the corner," Lucca jerked her head back to indicate the corner behind her, "The bookcase was in the way."

"Ah," Cid nodded knowingly, "You don't have a cellar or something, then?"

"If I did, it'd be full by now anyway," Lucca shrugged, "And also cellars can be wet and dank, I don't want anything like rust eating away at this thing while it hibernates."

Lucca absentminded wiped her hands on the shins of her pants. They were still oily from taking apart the gatekeeper. The job was foreseen to be dirty, so she had dressed up in a dark brown shirt and pants. Not only did they go well with her hair, any stain on them would be near invisible.

Cid was wearing a normal shirt, gray and empty of anything. He had taken a bit of what was left of his money and made a quick trip to the future before Lucca took apart the gatekeeper. There, he had bought a lot of things he felt he would need later on. Clothing had been top priority, though there was the matter of anachronisms. But all in all, he still felt more comfortable in his old garb.

Lucca didn't bother to argue.

They both put their shoulders into the bookcase, grunting with the effort. To reward this, the bookcase began to slowly slide away, making a noise of wood scraping on wood as it grated across the floor. Both of their feet began to slip as the bookcase attempted to resist the pushing.

"How far do you want this?" Cid asked in a strained voice, as he switched his position to lean on the bookcase with his shoulder.

The new position wasn't working and Cid was forced to switch back to his hands. Lucca lowered her head, giving the object an extra hard push, then replied, "Just a few feet, we don't need too mu--"

Before she could finish, the bookcase tilted away from the wall and began to topple over. "Ah, great," Cid muttered, running around to try and hold it up.

He wasn't fast enough however, and he jumped out of the way quickly as the bookcase fell over at his feet with a loud and dominate thud. Several small thuds accompanied it as the books merrily deshelved themselves under it.

"Damn it," Cid gave the bookcase a small kick, then bent over to try and lift it back up.

"My fault," Lucca said, bending over to help, "I should have known it was too tall and too narrow for any real balance... Could have at least moved the books out, too."

Cid and Lucca pulled, lifting the now bookless bookcase up into the air. When it was tilted at chest level, they spun their hands around and hefted it over their heads. Cid began to step forward to push it back up against the wall, but Lucca stopped him, "Hold onto that, I've got to get the books out of the way."

She released the bookcase, nearly causing Cid to lose his hold and drop it onto her. Cid replanted his feet, managing to hold it for the moment. Lucca ducked under him and began to push books out of the way, so that they wouldn't step on them. If that were to happen, they could slip and injure themselves.

"By the way," Cid began, trying to force his mind away from 'what if he lost his grip and injured her,' "Did you go to the castle the other day?"

"Yeah, briefly," Lucca replied with a quick nod before turning back to the pile of scattered books, "Why?"

"I was just wondering...We haven't seen Crono and Marle ever since we left the infirmary," Cid answered, "How were they?"

"It's only been a week since then, Cid," Lucca gave a short laugh as she inspected a titleless hardback book, "It's not like they changed all that much."

"Just a week," Cid mimicked her, "A lot of things happen in a week; trust me, I learned firsthand... twice."

"Yeah, yeah," Lucca admitted, opening up the strange book to read a bit of it, "But they didn't change much. Marle's still overlooking the reconstruction of the castle, and Crono's still... uh, doing something."

"What is she going to do about Truce?" Cid's arms were growing tired, so he lowered the bookcase a bit to let them rest, "If I remember, that town's not much better off than the castle."

"They're working on that, too. It's going to make work much, much sl..." Lucca's talking drowned away as she studied the book in her hand, "Hey, Cid? Is this yours?"

She turned the book around and held it out for him to look at. Cid stared at it briefly, studying it. It had no title, nothing written on either side of the brown cover. Lucca turned it around to reveal two random pages that she had opened up to. They were empty. As were the other pages.

Cid nodded, "Yeah, it's mine."

"What is it?" Lucca tucked the book under her arm, and then quickly moved the rest out of the way, "Okay, you can push it up now."

Cid stepped forward; raising the bookcase up and tilting it back to its standard position. It rocked back and hit the wall with a slight knock, but steadied itself afterwards. Cid sighed from relieving the strain from his arms and rested his head against one of the shelves, "It was something I got for a special project."

"Which was?" Lucca asked curiously, bending over to start putting the books back where they belonged. Then she remembered that they were to move the bookcase first.

She dropped the books, and walked back over to the side of it, patting Cid's back as she passed to get his attention. He lazily raised his head and followed her, "I was thinking about being a writer, in a way. Marshall's life was so intriguing; I was planning on putting it to paper... before he died..."

"Would he have..." Lucca began pushing once more, with Cid following suit, "let you?"

The bookcase slid much more easily this time, creeping along the floor much faster, the weight of the books removed.

"Maybe," Cid tried to shrug, but failed, "He's done so much for me, I felt like this would be a good way to repay him."

"I don't know," Lucca seemed dubious, "Some people prefer to forget certain things, he seemed like one of those people."

"Yeah, I guess," Cid shrugged, "It wouldn't matter anymore anyway. He shouldn't have been the one to die."

The bookcase reached a spot Lucca was satisfied with and she stopped pushing. She dusted off her hands, knocking out several splinters, and walked around Cid to start collecting the fallen books. Cid patted the bookcase, congratulating it on not falling over again, and followed her, "I mean he died trying to save me from those things. If I hadn't been all melancholy, I wouldn't have been taken by them and he wouldn't have been taken, and he woul--"

"Don't blame yourself, Cid," Lucca cut in, "I thought we'd worked that self-bashing out of your system."

"Sorry," Cid shook his head, "I'm a moron sometimes."

"Yeah," Lucca agreed jokingly, "But I won't hold it against you."

"And that's why we make such a good team," Cid finished, picking up books to place back in the shelf, "I mak--"

"Wait," Lucca said suddenly, stopping Cid, "They need to be alphabetized. By author."

"You're kidding me," Cid stared at the pile behind him, at least two hundred books, "I hope you're kidding me."

"C'mon Cid," Lucca pressed, "If not now, I'd have to do it again anyway. The time we would save by not doing it would be nothing compared to the time saved having to look at random books to find the one I'm looking for."

"Okay, okay," Cid rolled his eyes and stared at the books in his hands, "Does D come before or after M?"

"Cid..." she glared at him.

"Forget it. Let's just do all of this later, okay?" Cid changed gears, "We'll take a break and get some fresh air for a while."

Lucca's glare softened a bit, and then she turned down to the books at her feet, thoughtful. Absentmindedly, she began to tap the book in her hand with her finger. Finally, she tossed it aside, "Okay, but not for too long."

* * * * *

"Do you think we'll ever need the gatekeeper again?" Cid asked as they walked together along the cliffs above the ocean, just south of Lucca's home.

"I sincerely hope not," Lucca replied, then shook her head, "But you can't tell. I decided to take it apart just so no one would use it without permission again."

"One of us, or just some curious trespasser?" Cid asked, smiling faintly.

Lucca thought over this one for a few seconds, "I'm not sure," she rolled her eyes, "I guess both."

Behind the evasive answer she gave, memories from her recent trip to the castle returned.

"Do you think he can be trusted anymore?"

Cid stopped walking and sat at the cliff's edge, looking out at the ocean. Lucca ceased as well, and took a seat next to him. Together, they looked southward for several moments before Cid spoke again, "Crono said a while back, he said that things like Nikades and Lavos were occurring more and more often as time went along..."

"And we might need the gatekeeper any time now when the next threat comes along?" Lucca finished his sentence. She leaned back on her arms, "I really think we've stopped everything now...I mean, what else is there?"

"He seems calm now."

"Yeah, but he's been through so much, it's hard to understand someone like that."

"If there's something else, it'll show up soon... According to Crono, that is," Cid replied, he absently scratched his nose, then sniffed.

"Allergies?" Lucca tilted her head at him.

"No, it's nothing," Cid waved his hand dismissively.

"Spring is coming around the corner," Lucca observed, "Are you sure?"

Cid nodded, "I don't think I have any allergies, anyway."

"Mm," Lucca let it go, slowly rocking on her arms.

It was now nearing dusk, and the sky was darkening. They had spent the whole day working on taking apart the gatekeeper. Cid could only imagine how long it would take to put together again. He was sure of one thing, though: he was tired. Very tired.

After several moments of thinking, another question came to mind, "What did you and Marle and Crono talk about while you visited?"

"Oh, nothing," Lucca shrugged, evasive once again, "Small talk mostly. I don't remember."

"What do we do with him, then?"

"I think his life should be his choice. WE don't do anything."

"Anything about Marshall...and his will?" Cid asked, carrying on the conversation.

"Um, yeah," Lucca answered, giving a quick nod, "There was more on the bottom of the paper."

"Yeah, I remember that much. He'd hidden the words with a spell or something. But can you tell me anything about it?"

"We're going to talk about it all this weekend at the castle. You're coming this time, aren't you?"

Cid nodded, "Of course. I wouldn't have much to do here."

The talking stopped and the two simply watched for the last few minutes as the sun attempted to hide itself. As the world around them slowly darkened, the sound of the nightlife quietly erupted around them. Finally, when the sun had vanished, Cid slowly stood up, stretching.

"I'm getting tired; it's been a long day... Too long," he stretched again, then held out his hand to help her up, "How about you?"

Lucca looked out at the black ocean before her for a second longer, lost in thought. Then she smiled and accepted his hand. He hoisted her up, and together they walked back to the house.

* * * * *

"How's Cid doing these days?" Marle asked as she and Lucca stepped into the reconstructed throne room.

Lucca shut the door behind her quietly, well aware that most people were currently on their lunch break from the rebuilding, "He seems fine. Really pulling himself together after all that."

"He went through a lot, sometimes I wonder how much 'together' he is anymore... Be honest in this, don't let your friendship to him bias you: Do you think he can be trusted anymore?"

"Honestly," Lucca smiled darkly, drawing out the pause for a little longer, "He's not fanatical or anything anymore. He seems calm now."

"Yeah, but he's been through so much, it's hard to understand a person like that."

"Marle, you're just being paranoid," Lucca joked, "He's healthy."

"Sorry," Marle attempted to reverse her accusation, "I'm not picking on him, I'm just worried. Tale after tale of a person going insane...and not a one of them ever returned to normal."

"He didn't go insane," Lucca pointed out, "He was just confused for a while.

"If you say so. What do we do with him then? Does he really belong in this time?"

"If he wants to stay, we can't stop him," Lucca retorted, seeming slightly annoyed, "I think his life should be his choice. WE don't do anything. WE simply support his choices if they're good, or give him advice if they're bad."

Marle looked at Lucca for a moment, then lowered her head and nodded, "Yeah, you're right. Let's change the subject, I shouldn't be so untrusting of him."

"Good idea," Lucca nodded, "Where's Crono?"

"He's somewhere," Marle shrugged and took a seat on her throne, "I'm sure he'll be back soon."

Marle leaned back, and then spoke again, "We found something interesting about Marshall's will."

"As in...?"

"A few days ago, new words started appearing on it. It may have been some sort of spell he put there or something, but this new part goes into a bit more detail. With specific instructions for Cid."

"What?" Lucca was taken aback, "When did you find this?"

"Yesterday," Marle coughed, "That's why I was asking about Cid, I wasn't sure if he was fit for this."

"What does it say?" Lucca leaned forward curiously, "Where is it?"

"Crono has it," Marle smiled, "I think it'd be best if we told Cid about it. Come by this weekend with him, when all this construction isn't going on. It seemed semi-important to the big man."

"Just how important?"

"You'll see. When Cid sees, that is," Marle gave another smile, "But let's not talk about that right now; how have you been doing?"

"Don't change the subject, you can tell me now. What does the will say?"

Marle gave a short laugh, "Oh come on, if we tell you now, you might tell Cid. Just be patient."

"Fine," Lucca surrendered easily, then carried on the other thread of conversation, "How have I been?"

* * * * *

Lucca awoke, her eyes slowly opening. Now she was dreaming about her talk with Marle. Lucca sat up in bed, leaning back against the headboard. Maybe she had been wondering about it too much, it wouldn't do to imprint it in her memory like that or she'd be dreaming of it for the rest of her life.

Lucca's mind wandered, and she began to think about Cid again. Marle was still worried about his mental health. Though Lucca didn't admit it when Marle asked, she also wasn't too sure. He still acted like he was okay, but she was positive he was still hiding something. Some sort of guilt.

Marshall's death.

Lucca quietly tapped her head against the wooden headboard, trying to piece together what made Cid tick. He seemed so impulsive, ready to blame any hardship on himself. What kind of life must he have lived to become someone like this. He was okay now, certainly, but how much, how little of an effort was needed to bring him back into the despair. That was what scared Lucca the most, the fact that she couldn't control him. Well, not control in that sense, something more along the line of predict. Or understand. Sometimes she wondered if talking to him even helped, or if it just deepened his wounds. Was he just letting it all out or fueling himself and his emotions.

It wasn't so much as a self-hatred as it was distaste for the world. His mind wasn't clear, that was most definite. His choices often contradicted each other; one moment he would be strong, the next he would be blaming everything on himself and giving up on the world.

Lucca began to think of what Marshall had written for Cid. She had already read the front, where Marshall had told Cid not to blame himself. It had had little effect apparently, though Cid hid it well. He seemed to be getting better at hiding things, even from himself.

Marshall had been the only person she had seen who could bring out the best in Cid. Cid had seemed so positive and happy when Marshall was there. He had almost seemed like a father, now that Lucca thought about it. But even then, Marshall's influence died with him, and Cid just sank deeper and deeper.

Lucca didn't want to blame herself, but she felt that her 'death' was what drove Cid over the edge. She had hoped that that was true, because she wasn't dead and Cid shouldn't have anything to grieve about. But it wasn't. Now Marshall was gone, and Cid wasn't improving on the inside. Just flashing around smiles on the outside so that people wouldn't pity him.

She heard the creaking of a bed in the other room, her parents' old room where Cid slept. Immediately, she stopped tapping her head against the headboard, wondering if she had maybe woke him up. But only silence returned. He was just rolling in his sleep, more than likely. A restless sleeper.

And that thought made her worry even more.

She slipped back down on the bed, wanting to go back to sleep. All this worrying would turn her into the same thing she feared Cid would become. And if that happened, nothing would stop Cid from completely falling. Eventually, she fell back to sleep, the dreams returning, this time being accompanied by Cid. He seemed melancholy and only stared into space. Lucca was helpless to do anything.

She had to stop thinking so much on these types of things.

Chapter 2

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