by Nick Harvey

(Author's Note: If you don't agree with the characterization of the characters, them refer to Liana Sharer's excellent short story, 'The Wedding', to see what I used as a sort of template for the characters' personalities. If you didn't like this story, then please, don't feel free to tell me how much you despise mine as well. I've heard some of Liana's horror stories, and I want you to know just one thing: I don't like you.)

It wasn't often that a silent moment fell upon Crono's party of adventurers. But, in the odd event that such an occurrence did take place, they certainly knew how to make use of any time that came their way.

"Hey, Nadia--err, Marle?" Marle turned from where she was roasting weiners over the campfire to face her questioner.

"Yes, Lucca?" she asked as she stifled a yawn.

"Marle, do you ever--do you ever dream?"

Marle gave her a blank look for a few moments. "How do you mean?"

Lucca straightened her back to a firm parallel with the tree she was sitting under. "You know, like when you're asleep and you see, um, like little movies and stuff in your head?"

Marle cocked an eyebrow. "Uh, okay." All was silent for a moment.

Lucca leaned forward. "Well?"

Marle stared at the purple haired waif impatiently. "Well, what?"

Lucca rolled her eyes. "Do you dream or what?"

Marle blinked. "Oh." She paused for a second. "Nope."

Lucca sighed and shook her head. Robo, sitting across the fire from Marle, cleared his throat--or at least made a noise very similar to it. "What do you dream about, Lucca?" he rumbled.

Lucca shrugged. "I dunno. Math equations, algebraic formulas, stuff like that. Y'know, boring stuff." She turned to fully face him. "Do you ever dream, Robo?"

Robo's huge eyes flashed for a moment. "Sometimes at night, when I'm on partial shutdown, my memory banks show me images from my past. Is this... dreaming?"

Lucca smiled warmly. "I think that'd quallify, yes. What do your... memort banks show you?"

Robo lowered his head. "Uncertain. Most evenings all I recieve are staticy images of pictures that were fuzzy to begin with." He paused. "Does that make sense?" Lucca nodded. "Good... Well, maybe... there was, a few nights ago, a memory that sent me almost into the mechanical equivalent of a cold sweat."

Lucca scooted towards him. "What was your dream, Robo?"

Robo sat up straight. "It was the day the world, for all intents and purposes, ceased to exist. I had been placed, along with my brothers XR-307 and XR-303, on surface duty. All was quiet, but I noticed something... peculiar. The area we were patrolling was normally populated with dozens of species of wild life. At least eight different types of bird, a family of imps, and a friendly Nu our human masters called "Smurfy". All were usually to be seen roaming the grassy fields near our dome. But on this day, none could be seen for miles around. It's as if they knew something bad was about to occur; I just wish my sensors had been as accurate...

"At first, we thought it was an earthquake, since it happened directly on the Truce fault line. But when lava began to ooze from the cracks in the ground, all quake speculation promptly ended. None of us knew quite what it was, but we all knew that it wasn't good.

"The first attack alone leveled at least eight hundred square miles of land. Unfortunately, I was situated in the first ten or so. Fortunately, however, there was a dome nearby that I was able to run to for shelter. The dome proved to be effective for awhile, but the damage sustained was far too great for it to stand completely unscathed. I believe a large portion of the basement ceiling fell atop of me, effectively ending what shallow semblance I had of a life..." He glanced around the campfire. "At least, that is, until you revived me some three hundred years later." His voice chips ground out a metallic sounding chuckle. "There I was ancient machinery, but here I'm way ahead of my time..."

Robo stopped and looked up, his story finally over. He glanced at Lucca, who was clutching her shoulders and shivering. "Are you cold, Miss Lucca?"

Lucca slowly turned to look him in the eyes. Her face was stained with tears. "No, no, it's just that I... I'm sorry, Robo, it's just that your story was the most... it was..."

Robo stared at the stuttering girl. "I see my tale has left you speechless. May I aid you in any way?"

Lucca scooted closer to Robo and cuddled into him. "Just... just hold me, Robo..."

Marle sneered. "Oh yeah, just like a giant, furless teddy bear." She turned and looked at Magus, draped against a tree. "What about you, Janus?"

Magus' head snapped up. His dark eyes glared at her. "You have not earned the right to call me by that name!" he snapped at her.

Marle scowled. "Okay, then, Magus, do you ever dream?"

Magus raised an eyebrow. "Of course I dream, child. Even the most tortured of souls cannot escape such terrors of the night. But then, by listening to your prior conversations, it seems as though you, and you alone, are quite the special one. You don't dream. I suppose that you, Princess Nadia of Guardia, are perhaps the forerunner of some superior race."

Lucca smirked. "Score one for the goth-boy in the purple cape!"

Magus whirled to face her. "Keep it up, Four-Eyes, and the Warty-Wonder over there won't be the only green one for long."

"Hey!" Frog shouted from his spot next to Marle. "Shut thy hole, you miserable wretch! I'll gut you from knee to sternum with my sacred sword, Masamune! 'Twould be a shame if thou were to--"

Frog stopped midsentence as he was tapped on the shoulder by Ayla. "Green man put a lid on it. Ayla need her beauty sleep."

Marle glared at Magus. "I dream. I dream sometimes... twice--no, three times per night! I dream all the time!! In fact, I--I'm dreaming as we speak!!!"

Magus rolled his eyes. "And what, pray tell, do you dream about?"

Marle took a deep breath. "My mother. She died when I was young. I only dream about her face, since that's about all I can remember about her. She had a beautiful face, though. Her hair was reddish-blond, same as mine. Her eyes were pure blue, also like mine. But her lips, her lips were thin and pale; as I remember, she had a very frail appearance. The rest of her features were so delicate, like a finely crafted porcelain doll. Her face wasn't quite pale, but more of a creamy white tone. But, frail as she appeared to be, I remember my mom as having a very strong will. I loved her very, very dearly, and I just wish I could be more like her..."

Slowly, Marle's voice tralied off, leaving the campsite silent, the only apparent sound being the crackle of the fire. Finally, Magus spoke: "There was a time when I loved my mother. Back before the power of Lavos confronted her, blackened her very soul." Though he usually spoke in dark, ominous tones, his voice seemed lighter with his sorrow. "I remember the very night before Lavos 'enlightened' her. We spent the day together, along with my sister Schala, touring the cities of our land, disguised as mere peasants. That was before we separated... before the people harnessed the powers of magic and left the earthbound ones to wander the ice covered plateaus... Those were happier times, indeed... Anyway, later that night, when she tucked me into bed, she kissed me on the forehead and said something I will never forget, no matter what she is now, no matter what she tries. She said, 'Janus, I will love you forever. I love you as though you were of my own blood, and no matter what ever happens to either of us, if time itself rips us apart, you will always be my son, and I your mother.'" Marle was almost certain she saw a tear drip from his pale, bony cheek. "The next day, she awoke with a nasty look to her eye, and I gradually saw what a power hungry monster she had become. I held on to her words for as long as I could bear, but eventually her cold ways made me forget all that had come to pass before... and I succumbed to the coldness threatening to take over my soul as well." He looked up at the rest of the group, who was listening and watching intently. He looked away sheepishly. "But you speak of dreams, and I have none to share. Besides, I alone have the fortitude to bear my dreams. If any of you saw my dreams, your flesh would strip itself from your bones."

Lucca made a face. "That's a nice picture." The smile on her face slowly faded. "Sometimes I dream about my mother, about how she was before she lost her legs. She was so happy, always had a kind word for everybody and everything, whether it was bad or good. And then... then she had her accident, and she didn't change. Not even the slightest bit. She was still as happy and as kind as could be. And I hope--I hope I can grow up to be like that... like her..."

Frog croaked thoughtfully. "I often dream of the day of my transformation." His expression turned bitter. "Repeatedly have I seen my friend Cyrus slain, and repeatedly have I known the shock of realization that forever would I be--"

"Short, green, and ugly?" Magus merrily chimed in.

Frog's narrow nostrils flared. "That's it! It's just you and me, fiend! This shall be the final battle! Long have I waited, nay dreamt of this moment, this defining moment in whence all my years of rage shalt be unleashed upon thy body and soul!"

Magus' hands glowed darkly. "Oh, quit with the olde-english dialect, Greeny. You know, I talked to quite a few people in your time line, and absolutely NONE of them talked in the same half-assed way that you do! And furthermore..."

"Green man and blue haired man shut the hell up!!" Ayla bellowed, tossing her tiny but formidable frame between the two fight hungry figures. She smiled devilishly. "We talk about dream, right? Ayla have dream to tell." She sensed Frog ready to leap over her to continue his fued with Magus. She spun and grabbed him by the sides of his head. "AYLA THOUGHT SHE TELL GREEN MAN TO CALM DOWN!!" Frog gulped and sat down where he stood. Magus reluctantly did the same. Ayla grinned. "That better. Now, Ayla dream: One night, Ayla dream that she in big cave, with many friends and much food. Ayla eat much! Then Ayla get to be big and fat. Ayla no can move arms. Ayla no can see feet. Ayla just eat and eat and eat. Finally, Ayla get reeeal big, and Ayla BOOOOM!!!" She looked around her, smiling. "The end."

Everyone stared at her, jaws dropped to the ground. Lucca was the first to speak. "Uh, that was, uh, great, Ayla." She looked around for a moment. "Hmm... who's next? Uh, I think that was everybody..." She spotted an unruly patch of bright red hair just barely peeking above Frog's amphibious head. "Aha! Crono, it's your turn..."

Everyone sat patiently, waiting for Crono to speak. Nothing came. Frog stood and stared at him. Crono was sitting peacefully against the base of a tree, his eyes closed tightly shut. A light snoring noise came from him.

"Aww," Lucca whined. "Crono fell asleep."

"It's just as well," Marle quipped. "He never has that much to say anyway..."


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