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Partings and Complications

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Jowd didn’t intend to watch or eavesdrop, but the usable portion of the building they stayed in was hardly big and his gaze kept sliding over to Cabanela standing in front of the ramshackle table. The table was a small round thing; it probably once held something decorative. It looked the sort they had in some rooms of Figaro, and he startled at that odd nearly forgotten familiarity. Well, like Figaro there was no place for such niceties anymore. Only Sissel and a bunch of kittens and young cats roamed the ruined village of Mobliz now.

He absent-mindedly stroked one of those kittens that had taken up residence on his lap. Now that table held two magicite, together at last and the cats would be joined by two Espers.

“You’ll look after these kiddos, won’t you?” Cabanela said.

Seraph’s voice was gentle and laced with fondness. “Of course. To help our young kin has been my only purpose since the world cracked. I cannot leave him now. And now that we’re together again…” Jowd winced at the sheer amount of feeling put into the word. ‘Together’… “…maybe good things can still happen here,” Seraph continued.

“Can and wiiill,” Cabanela said. “The world’s not ended yet, baby.”

“Some might say it has,” Phantom said dryly. “Nevertheless we owe you a great gratitude.”

“Think nothin’ of it. I told you we’d find her and that’s all there is to it, baby.”

“You’ve filled your promise.”

Jowd tried to focus on the black furball kneading happily at his knee, but couldn’t block out Cabanela’s suddenly soft tones.

“Thanks for that.”

“Cabanela?” said Seraph. “May I ask you to lift my stone?”

“Sure thiiing. Somethin’ I can do for you?”

“Only permit my curiosity.”

Jowd’s fist clenched as a different image arose. Cabanela—no, the Jester—surrounded by a ring of magicite. The greed and hunger twisting that face. Jowd resisted the urge to knock Cabanela aside, and yet here… There was only tenderness as he lifted the magicite.

It glowed and there was silence and stillness until Seraph spoke.

“I’m sorry. I only wished to confirm something I thought I felt in that dark place last we met.”

“You felt it, too?” Phantom asked.

“I’m…not certain. I don’t understand you. I feel Ramuh’s magic and she, kin of Shiva, left her mark upon you and yet…I can almost feel the touch of another, warm and familiar.”

“I thought I felt it too,” Phantom said, “as we rested together. But it’s like a whisper outside the range of hearing.”

“I am what I am,” Cabanela said with a careless shrug. “And whatever the doc saw fit to do,” he added in a tone that was too brittle for the lightness he clearly intended.

“One of many…” Phantom said distantly.

“It may be of comfort to you to know this does not have the feel of that vile creature’s work.”

“It is.” Cabanela gently lay Seraph’s magicite beside Phantom’s. “There’s a lot of mystery in the past few years of my life. One mooore doesn’t make much difference now.”

Jowd stared at the floor. What had that been about? Who was Cabanela anymore? And what right did he have to ask such questions now?

“We’ll see each other again,” Cabanela said.

“We wish you success and the joy you’ve helped to bring us,” Seraph said.

“Some dreams are only that,” said Phantom, “and some, for good or ill may be more, remember that.”

Jowd glanced up to catch Cabanela sweeping them a bow. He immediately averted his gaze as Cabanela spun round and he caught sight of his expression, distant and longing. He couldn’t avoid Cabanela entirely, however. He sauntered over and as Jowd dragged his gaze back there was no trace of that expression, only a flash of a grin as Cabanela stopped just close enough to be in speaking range.

“Sissel tells me there’s a chocobo stable not far from here. We can see about gettin’ ourselves some birds and the trip to Nikeah will be a breeeeze, baby.”

“Right,” Jowd said and before he could think of anything else worth adding Cabanela had already moved on to check over their supplies.

Jowd sighed and stared at the kitten who had finally made himself comfortable and now slept in his lap. What was it like to hold such simplicity?