Story: A new life (chapter 12)

Authors: Tukuyomi

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Chapter 12

Title: Chapter 12 - Together

Kidd wanted to run away, but Harle took her hand and laid it onto the railing.

“Hold tight!”, she shouted to Kidd. Harle did the same and both waited for the wave to hit the ship. Harle took Kidd’s other hand and smiled at Kidd, and Kidd smiled in return.

The wave hit the ship hard, making it sway and almost capsize. The whole deck was flooded with water and Harle slipped, but Kidd held her and Harle managed to stand up again. Eventually, the water went back and Harle and Kidd could see the one causing all this: The Water Dragon God.

“So there ya are, bastard!”, Kidd yelled, letting go of the railing. Harle did the same and checked her elements. Except of one Inferno element, she had only black elements equipped. She would have to put it to good use.

Harle took Kidd’s hand again and pulled her closer. “Mon elementz and cards are not trés helpful, so moi will diztract him. Use your strongest elementz on him, mon ami.” Kidd nodded and both went into different directions. Harle went to the front of the dragon, Kidd to the back.

“Alors, why do you follow moi all ze time? Do you want to die az well? Oui? Moi doezn’t know where you come from, mais we won’t let you kill uz!” Kidd could hear Harle’s strength in her voice and marvelled at the change in her. She looked ready to punch the dragon’s lights out, for good.

“Say yer prayers, cuz it’s time ta die!”, Kidd shouted fiercely and ran towards the dragon, Harle did the same. Both jumped up, but Harle was the first to attack the dragon. She threw half of her cards at once. She knew it wouldn’t hurt him, but it confused the dragon and made him unable to see anything for a short time.

This time was just enough to let Kidd land on the dragon’s back and ram her dagger with all her might into it. The dragon roared and writhed with pain. Harle landed on the deck again and took a few steps backwards. Kidd ran from the dragon’s back to his head and jumped off it. While she was in the air, the dragon tried to hit her with is paw, but was interrupted by Harle’s Inferno element.

The dragon looked a bit helpless, the two of them were definitely too fast for him. He had to think of a plan quickly. He went slowly backwards until he felt the railing at his feet. Now Harle and Kidd couldn’t attack from both sides anymore, but they looked through this immediately.

Both went towards him slowly, Kidd from the right and Harle from the left. Harle glanced over to Kidd and gave her a short sign that she would attack first.

So they used the same trick they had used before and hoped it would work again. Both ran towards the dragon and jumped. Just like before, Harle did the first attack with her cards, but this time, the dragon expected that and hit her with his paw, smashing her against the iron door.

Kidd’s eyes followed her, and as she saw her lying on the ground motionlessly, she could hardly suppress the fury she felt. She was worried about Harle, but she knew now was the last chance to hit him hard. As she had hoped, the dragon was distracted and didn’t notice Kidd casting her mighty Volcano element. By the time he did it was already too late. The element hit him and instantly killed him. The Dragon God sank to the ground and vanished. Kidd watched him disappear with deep satisfaction.

In the meantime, Harle had managed to stand up again and now walked to Kidd’s side.

“That was the third. Ya okay, Harle?”, Kidd asked, still regarding the place where the dragon had laid a few seconds ago.

“Oui, do not worry, moi...iz...fine...”, Harle aid, but could hardly finish the sentence before she collapsed and fell into Kidd’s arms. Kidd almost got a shock, but when she realized Harle was only sleeping, she sighed in relief. She looked for scratches and wounds on Harle’s body, but surprisingly couldn’t find any, so she guessed it was okay if she let her sleep for a while.

She took the sleeping Harle and turned to the door, quite surprised that Dana stood in her way, holding her gun, but not aiming at Kidd.

“Why do ya stand in my way? Ya better show me a room where she can rest!”, Kidd snapped at her. Dana nodded quickly and led Kidd inside, showing her a quiet room where Harle could rest. Kidd walked inside and placed Harle onto the bed carefully. She took the blanket and pulled it gently over her.

Dana watched them for a while, but then decided not to bother them anymore. She closed the door quietly and was surprised that the soldiers, who had run away from the dragon, now stood in front of her again.

“What should we do with them?”, the tallest of the soldiers asked Dana, trying to look cool and brave, as if nothing had ever happened.

“They’re tired now. They are surely no match for us in this condition! We could take them back to the cell.”, another soldier suggested, and Dana struck him across the face.

“Damn cowards! They saved our life! Don’t you dare to bother them. They’re our guests now!”, Dana yelled and walked away from them. The soldiers watched her with a puzzled look, but then just walked to the pub.

Harle slept through the whole day and Kidd looked after her all that time. Harle’s skin had a thin layer of sweat on it and Kidd hoped Harle hadn’t caught influenza or something worse.

But aside from the sweat, there were no changes at all. She didn’t move even by just a bit, just breathing in and out. It was already dark when Kidd told herself that there was no use watching her constantly, and went out onto the deck. It wasn’t cold and the sea was very calm. She went to the railing and watched the night sky, wondering when the ship would reach Porre.

The dragons...Kidd had a bad feeling about them. The Water Dragon had almost been too easy to beat, what were they plotting? On one hand, Kidd hoped this all would be over soon and she won’t have to fear the dragons anymore, but on the other hand...the time with Harle was great, they were such a good team. Kidd could hardly imagine being alone again, wandering the world all by herself, with no one by her side. So many things had happened by now and Kidd was still a bit irritated about their new circumstances. She really didn’t know what she wanted, but which seventeen year-old girl did? Kidd just hoped things would clear up soon.

Kidd was so deep in thought, she didn’t hear Harle behind her. Harle hesitated, thinking about whether to speak to her or not. She ended up saying nothing and walking to the railing. When Kidd finally noticed her, she was surprised, thinking of what she could say to her. She didn’t think she had ever thought so much about what to talk about with any other person. But she hadn’t really cared for anyone in the same way before.

“Did ya sleep well, Harle?”, was all she managed to say without looking at Harle.

“Oui... Merci beaucoup, Kidd.”, Harle said.

“Thanks for what?”, Kidd asked.

“Pour helping moi all ze time since we met à Cape Howl again, mon ami.”, Harle answered, smiling.

“That was nothin’. Ya help me so much as well, I don’t know what I’d do without ya.” Kidd found it hard to say such things, but she really meant it.

“Zen moi...”, Harle wanted to answer, but she stopped when she saw a shooting star cross the sky above them.

“Quick, wish for somethin’!”, Kidd said, pointing on the shooting star.

“Pourquoi...?”, Harle asked, puzzled.

“Just do it! Think of somethin’ ya wanna have.”, Kidd said, smiling widely.

“ will try.” Harle closed her eyes for a few seconds and when she opened them again, the shooting star was already gone. “Why did moi have to wish?”, she asked Kidd.

“Don’t ya know that? When people see a shootin’ star, they wish for somethin’ and hope it will come true. But they have ta keep it a secret, otherwise the wish won’t come true. I dunno if it really works, but let’s hope it will.”, Kidd explained.

“Moi didn’t know zere waz somet’ing like zat, mais it soundz trés nice.”, Harle answered.

Both looked at each other, hoping their wishes would come true. Although both of them were curious of what the other’s wish was about, they didn’t ask. They just looked at each other and shared that special moment. Harle wanted to do so many things at that moment, talk to her, hug her...but thinking of the last time she had done what she wanted stopped her. Harle didn’t want to get hurt again.

As if Kidd could read Harle’s mind she took her hand and hugged her tightly before kissing her on the cheek. Harle gladly accepted her embrace, enjoying the soft smell of Kidd’s hair.

“I’m goin’ ta bed. Good night.”, Kidd whispered into Harle’s ear and let go of her hand.

“Bon nuit, Kidd.”, Harle called after her as she left. She was a little disappointed that Kidd had left so soon, but didn’t let it bother her. She needed a little time to herself, anyway. She had a lot to think about. Once Kidd was out of sight, Harle took a big breath. Her right hand, which Kidd had touched shortly before, trembled as if screaming for more. Her whole body did, and she found she could hardly suppress that feeling. She knew she didn’t want to.

She loved Kidd...didn’t she? Harle knew they were two persons who couldn’t possibly be any more different, but why did she have these feelings then? These weren’t the same feelings she had harboured for Serge. Serge...she saw him in an entirely different light now. On their journey he had been everything, but now he meant nothing to her. A friend maybe, but perhaps even less. Harle had stopped to think of him shortly after she had met Kidd. But she was glad for him. She guessed it was the best for him to marry his childhood friend Leena.

She had probably never really loved him at all. Harle had never thought she could get over him so quickly, but everything was different now.

“Did you rest a bit?”, a gentle voice asked from behind. Harle turned around and looked at Dana, who stood behind her in ordinary clothes, without uniform and gun.

“Oui.”, Harle answered shortly. Remembering she knocked her out rather brutally, Harle didn’t really want to talk to her.

“I know you don’t like me. Both of you don’t seem to like any soldiers at all, but...well, I just came here to thank you for rescuing us from this terrible beast. To be honest, I don’t think my men would have been strong and brave enough to deal with it like you did today.”, Dana said, embarrassed she had to talk about her men like that. But it was the plain truth.

“We juzt saved our own life, not yourz. Ze dragon waz after uz.”, Harle explained, slightly annoyed. She wanted this conversation over soon. She didn’t know why she disliked talking to strangers so much. She would have to change that, eventually.

“After you? That sounds strange. I hope you aren’t in too much trouble.”, Dana looked into Harle’s annoyed face, “Well, I don’t want to bother you any more, good night.”, she quickly added and to Harle’s surprise even saluted before going inside the ship again.

Harle found herself alone again, gratefully so.

“Now Harle, what are you going to do?”, she asked herself, after a while. There wasn’t much to see after all, so she decided to go inside as well. Except of a few noises from inside the pub, the ship was quiet. Almost too quiet for Harle. She went back to her room, in which Kidd was already fast asleep. Harle didn’t turn the light on, she didn’t want to wake her. She went slowly past Kidd’s bed and went into hers.

It was cold and Harle wished she could sleep in Kidd’s bed. At her side..., but that was impossible, wasn’t it? She quickly shook her head. She shouldn’t have those thoughts, but they always sneaked into her mind, without her noticing before it was too late. Harle didn’t this feeling of longing and emptiness that welled up inside her every time her thoughts wandered to Kidd. She didn’t like the thought that it was completely impossible to ever stop this longing.

They had to talk, even though Harle knew it was hopeless. There was no way Kidd thought about her in the same way, and Harle herself didn’t know where hers had come from. It had all happened so suddenly, and so strongly as if she had never really loved anyone before. She couldn’t do anything to stop it.

Harle had wanted to talk to Kidd ever since she had run away from her in Termina, but there hadn’t been a good time or place to discuss something like this. And also, Harle she wouldn’t be able to bear the pain of being hurt again. She also knew running away was no solution, but another disappointment would surely break her heart. Just why did she have to get into those situations all the time? Why couldn’t Kidd do the first step? Why didn’t she do anything at all? With these thoughts on her mind, she fell asleep.

Harle didn’t sleep well at all. She had nightmares again. They kept on haunting her, to that place where Harle couldn’t escape them on her own. She was sweating and crying, and Kidd soon woke up. Looking over to Harle she immediately knew what was wrong.

If Kidd knew any way to make these nightmares go away, she would do it, give anything for that. But she didn’t. She feared that only killing the dragons one by one would banish the nightmares from Harle’s mind. Harle would have to bear them for a little longer.

However, when Harle’s crying got louder, Kidd stood up and walked over to her, sadly regarding her sweaty face. Harle was mumbling in her sleep, but Kidd couldn’t understand it too well. It sounded like ‘Kidd’ and ‘pleaze’, but maybe it was just Kidd’s imagination.

Kidd remembered how much it had helped Harle to take her hand, the last time Harle had suffered from nightmares, so she took her hand again, pressing it gently. With her other hand she stroked Harle’s cheek, carefully stroking the loose and already tear-soaked strands back behind her ears. As if feeling Kidd’s touch within her dreams, Harle sighed, and her mumbling quieted down. Kidd stroked Harle’s face and hand for a few minutes more, then went back to her bed. Harle was silent for the rest of the night, the dreams having been chased away.

Kidd was the first waking up in the morning, so she used the time to take a shower. She was already excited about seeing her beloved Guardia again, but knew she had to concentrate on different things until they reached the safe haven of the castle. Only three dragons couldn’t be so hard, could it?

Kidd still wondered why they wanted to kill Harle that badly. Didn’t they realize they didn’t stand a chance? Or did they have different reasons? Kidd couldn’t tell, but suspected that Harle knew more than she admitted. They had to talk about that, but somehow it had become hard to talk to Harle lately. They almost acted like strangers sometimes, although they had been so close shortly before. It was as if they drew apart as quickly as they had gotten closer. Kidd didn’t like the thought.

Kidd had just finished her shower when someone knocked at the door. Kidd hastily put her clothes on and opened the door, mumbling to herself. They didn’t need to make such a racket when some people were still asleep. But she nevertheless put on a friendly face as she opened the door.

In front of her stood two soldiers, holding a big plate with a giant breakfast. “Good morning, you two!”, one of the soldiers said loudly, but was quiet after Kidd gave him a sign to. “Oh, I see. Well, here’s your breakfast, I hope you like it.”

Kidd smiled all over her face by looking at this fabulous breakfast. “Ya bet we will, thanks!” The soldiers smiled as well and gave the plate to her. “I hope the captain doesn’t know that.”, the other soldier said worriedly. “Well, if we all keep our mouths shut, I guess it’s okay.”, the soldier answered, blinking at Kidd. “Oh yes, before I forget, the ship reaches Porre today evening.” They saluted and left.

Harle didn’t notice all that, but Kidd woke her up with a soft kiss on the cheek. Harle slowly opened her eyes, blinking a few times to see clearly. Harle’s heartbeat immediately accelerated as she saw Kidd’s face hovering so close above her.

“Good morning, Harle.”, Kidd whispered and smiled, pointing to the plate beside her. Harle rubbed her eyes and looked at the breakfast plate. “Bon matin, mon ami. Where iz zis from?”, she asked curiously, inspecting the unexpectedly big breakfast.

“The soldiers brought it. Bloody nice people, those soldiers.”, Kidd explained. Harle took a cup of tea and Kidd started to eat.

“We’re reachin’ Porre today, ya know. The soldiers told me.”, Kidd mentioned casually.

“So soon? What will we do zen, mon ami?”, Harle asked, knowing that she wasn’t the only one to decide where to go.

“Thought we go ta Guardia Castle. The people there will help us defeat the dragons. Just hope the dragons won’t get us earlier. Umm...tell me Harle, do ya really dunno why they’re followin’ ya? There has ta be more ta it.”, Kidd asked thoughtfully, being careful not to sound accusing.

“Non pardon, moi doezn’t know. Mais we will find out when we meet ze sky dragon god, moi hopez.”, Harle answered, feeling a shiver running down her spine at the mere thought of him. If they ever survived his wrath, they would surely get answers.

“My arse, those bloody dragons! Can’t they just leave us in peace? I don’t wanna fight anymore!”, Kidd shouted, but it sounded more like wailing.

“You don’t have to fight if you don’t want to, mon ami. Ze dragonz are juzt after moi.”, Harle said with a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.

“Silly! That’s not what I meant! Just count on me! Together we’ll get the dragons! It’s’s so damn hard. Ya got hurt again, but the Sky Dragon God won’t be easier to beat than the last dragon. I’m just afraid that...we’re going to lose...something or someone important. I don’t want this ta happen.” Kidd still didn’t dare to take the dragons too lightly. Maybe this all was a trap? But even if that was the case, did they have any other choice than killing the dragons? They didn’t. That was why it was so dangerous.

“Let’z juzt believe we’ll win. I do believe zere iz a new life ahead of uz.”, Harle said thoughtfully.

“Our new life’s already begun.”, Kidd answered smiling, pushing the thoughts of the dragons to the back of her mind.

They finished breakfast and Harle went into the bath to take a shower. While waiting for her to finish, Kidd made the beds and tidied up a bit. It was then, that she noticed her backpack was missing. She hadn’t needed anything from it until now, so she hadn’t noticed earlier. Kidd cursed herself. She had probably left it in the hotel of Termina. It was probably lying on the bed of her room still. Kidd told herself to work on that rash behaviour of hers.

“Dammit!”, Kidd shouted and kicked against the bed. Her figurine, the Heal and Cure elements, her warm clothes and her money had been left in Termina. With the exception that her money hadn’t consisted of more than a few G.

“Damn, but I think it should work as a payment.”, Kidd said to herself. She grinned as she remembered that they had just run away without paying at all. Another town on Kidd’s favourite list, where she shouldn’t return too soon. Not that she cared.

Harle quickly finished and dressed herself, before they went out onto the deck. It was already a lot warmer than a few days ago and Harle went to the very front of the ship, spread her arms wide out and let the wind stroke her hair. It was a nice feeling.

“What a wonderful weather! Thiz iz going to be a great day. Not even ze dragonz will be able to take zat from uz, mon ami.”, Harle said, smiling even brighter than the sun in front of her. She hadn’t been this happy for a long time.

Kidd walked towards her, laying her arms loosely around Harle’s waist while looking over her shoulder.

“You’re right, Harle.”, she said softly and both smiled. Harle dared to lean back into Kidd, letting her hold her. Her heart ached, but her body was satisfied. They enjoyed the silence for a minute or two, until they were disturbed by Dana.

“Slept well, my dears?”, Dana asked kindly. Kidd quickly let go of Harle and turned around.

“Yeah…err... thanks a lot for the room! It was better than the cell, ha ha.” Kidd noticed she was talking nonsense again.

“Oui, merci beaucoup for zis belle room. Iz zere any way we can make it up to you?” Harle tried to be as kind as possible, even though she hardly felt like being kind after having been disturbed by this impossible woman.

“Hmm, now that you said it, there is something. We’re a little low on personal lately and there are a few problems with the spare drive. We don’t want to run into problems if the current drive breaks, so if any of you is familiar with machines, you could try your luck down in the machine room.”, Dana said, looking at them apologetically.

“Piece of cake. Gimme a few tools and I’ll repair it in no time!”, Kidd answered, almost happy to get something to do.

“What about moi? Anyt’ing to do pour moi?”, Harle asked a little shyly. She knew there wasn’t exactly much she could do, but with Kidd gone either way, she could at least try to make herself useful.

Dana thought for a moment. “Well, if you don’t mind, could you help the cook a little? His partner’s ill, so he has to cook all by himself. It would be very nice if you could help him in the kitchen.”, Dana explained, but with a look on her watch she said, “Oh, I must hurry. We’ll meet again this evening, right? Don’t you dare leaving that ship without saying goodbye!” Dana laughed heartily and left. Harle raised her eyebrow at Dana’s strange behaviour. She treated them like friends, even though they hardly knew each other. But Harle guessed some people just were like that. Either that or she liked Kidd, after all. Which was an unpleasant thought Harle quickly tried to forget.

“So, I guess it’s time ta work, eh?”, Kidd asked, grinning.

“Oui, it waz nice of zem to take uz to Porre, so it’z juzt fair zat we help zem az well.”, Harle answered and both made their way to work.

Kidd went down to the lowest deck, where the machine room was. There was only one person down there, controlling the current drive.

“Hi there, mate! I’m here ta repair the spare drive, so gimme a few tools, I don’t wanna waste too much time here.”, Kidd said, as straight-forward as ever. The man controlling the drive was obviously surprised, but gave her the tools without questioning. Kidd went over to the spare drive and regarded it curiously.

“My arse, how old is this thing? Ya sure I have ta repair this?”, Kidd asked with a puzzled look, pointing at the machine.

The man laughed at Kidd’s expression. “Yes, this is the broken spare drive. I know it’s old, but could you at least try? Unfortunately we don’t have the money to afford a newer one.”

Kidd nodded, taking the screw-driver into her right hand. “Of course I can repair it, that’s child’s play ta me.”, Kidd said, loosening the first few screws, “So the Porre military runs outta money, eh? What did ya guys want in Termina then? Asking for money?”

“No, the captain just had a talk with the mayor of Termina. Nothing special. This was probably the last time we visited Termina. The captain said we’ll have to concentrate more on Guardia. I just hope Guardia castle doesn’t plan on starting a war.”, the man explained with a hint of worry.

“Ha! Guardia castle would never start a war! If I remember correctly, ya Porre guys did all the time! If ya don’t attack, Guardia won’t attack either!”, Kidd said louder than intended, angry that the man even dared saying such things about Guardia. He obviously didn’t know a thing.

“I hope you’re right, girl. But...things have changed. I know we Porre people haven’t been exactly nice, but we have a new leader now. We’re trying try to make up for the things we’ve done. Because of that we left Termina, so it’s a free town again. I just hope Guardia castle sees that we’ve changed. If they’d attack us in this condition, we’re lost.”

“I see.”, Kidd took a few parts off the drive, “I’ll have a talk with Marle. Not that ya guys deserve this, but I’m bloody sure she’ll understand and talk to the king.”

“ know queen Marle?”, the man asked, surprised. “Now that’s something! It would be really nice if you could talk to her.”

“Sure, ain’t no problem.”, Kidd responded absent-mindedly, concentrating on the old machine in front of her. It took Kidd more time to repair the drive than she had originally thought, but she was positive about fixing it before the ship reached Porre. And before the other drive broke.

While doing that, Harle was still looking for the kitchen. This ship was just too large for her liking. Her orientation wasn’t the best and she always ended up at dead- ends, where only cabins or storerooms were. She didn’t want to look like a helpless little girl, so she decided not to ask anyone for the way. It was already hard enough being mistaken for a girl of fifteen or sixteen. She hoped that, with her new clothes, she looked older than before.

After almost half an hour of searching, she finally found the kitchen. She didn’t bother to knock at the door, so she went straight in.

The kitchen wasn’t exactly large despite the enormous size of the ship, but it seemed to be used by two people anyway, one of whom was missing at the moment. Harle wondered how two people alone could manage to make enough food for the entire crew.

She walked through the kitchen to stand behind the chef, who looked very busy running from one side to the other, juggling three pans at one.

“Pardonnez- moi, monsieur, moi iz here to help you.”, Harle said, a little wary of the obviously busy but skilled cook. She wondered if she could offer any help at all.

The cook immediately turned around and Harle as she caught sight of his bewildered face, she just hoped he wouldn’t smash her to bits.

“What is it, I’m busy! This ain’t no place for little girls like you!”, the cook said loudly, already turning back around to tend to the various pans and pots on the stove.

Harle took a few steps backwards, thinking hard. She had heard that voice before.

“Are you...Orcha?”, she finally asked.

“Yeah, so what? Look, I’m busy and-”, he didn’t finish this sentence, for Harle stepped right beside him, favouring him with a knowing grin.

“Don’t you remember moi?”, she asked. The cook scratched his head, thinking. “Gimme a sec, girl. I remember your face...could you be...Harle?”

Harle nodded quickly, smiling even wider now. It was a strange feeling that, even though they had hardly ever talked before, and Harle wore different clothes without face-paint now, he still recognized her.

“Ha, that’s something, meeting you in a place like this! But I must say I hardly recognize you, you’ve changed a lot. What are you doing here?”, Orcha asked curiously, now all ears.

“Moi iz travelling wit’ Kidd. We are going to Guardia. And what are you doing here, mon ami?”

“So, you’re travelling with Kidd. Ha, I can’t believe it! If someone had told me that a few months ago, I would have laughed at him. But I guess you have your reasons, I just hope the world’s not in trouble again? My, the time passes...I have to work. It’s not easy to be the only responsible cook here, but the Porre guys have changed into real nice guys and I always wanted to see the world. So I ended up here...with only two hours left for the cooking! So now that you’re here, you could as well lend me a hand, I guess.”, Orcha said, and even though he was complaining, Harle could see he loved his work.

“Mais oui!”, Harle said quickly and went to the other side of the table to chop the cabbage.

“You know, you really seem to enjoy yourself. A while ago, you always seemed worried about so many things, but now you’re looking really happy. Having a good time?”, Orcha asked, while spicing the meat.

“Oui, you could say zat. It iz fun travelling wit’ Kidd, only ze dragonz are getting in our way, but we can deal wit’ zem.”, Harle told Orcha, but her smile didn’t fade as she mentioned the dragons. She was sure they could win, if they only tried hard enough.

“The dragons, huh? If you’re in trouble, you can always count on me, you know.”, the chef offered.

“Merci beaucoup, mon ami. I wished everyone would be az kind az you are.”, Harle said, thinking back to the devas.

They ended up making a really good team preparing the meal, and they finished it just in time.

“Whew, that was tough! Thanks for lending a hand, you really helped me out here.”, Orcha said, extending his hand towards Harle. “You’re leaving this ship today, right? So I guess this is the goodbye. I can do the rest alone, go and enjoy your last hours on this ship.”

“Merci, Orcha. It waz bon to talk to someone like you, mon ami. Au revoir et bon appetite!”, Harle said, giggling. They shook hands and Harle left the kitchen.

She went to the front of the deck again, hoping to see Porre already, but it was still too early. So she simply stood there, watching the waves and the first birds. She wondered what Kidd was doing at that moment. Was she able to repair it?

Down in the machine room, Kidd had similar doubts. “Bloody hell, what a crappy machine! This took an eternity! I tell ya, if this thing EVER breaks again, buy a new one, no matter what. This thing can’t be helped one single more time!”, Kidd cursed, angry about wasting her time on such an old machine.

“Does...does it work again?”, the soldier asked, a bit scared of Kidd’s fury.

“! I mean...crap. Wait a sec and ya...”, Kidd stuttered, but then kicked with all her might against the drive. The drive made a noise which almost sounded like a cough, but then started working like all broken and stubborn machines would have done after this kick. Kidd had known that Lucca’s special technique would work without fail.

“Ha! Call me Kidd the great! My job’s done here, I’ll go. Bye.”, Kidd said self- confidently and quickly left, in case the old machine gave out again.

“Goodbye, and thanks a lot!”, the soldier called after her.

Kidd wanted to go immediately back to the deck, but after one look at herself she decided to take a shower first. She really didn’t want to look like that in front of Harle. So she went to their room to take a shower first. She hurriedly cleaned herself and went to the deck to meet Harle, who she was sure was waiting there for her. And as Kidd opened the iron door which led to the deck, Harle was indeed still there at the front, waiting for Porre to be seen.

“Still no land in sight?”, Kidd asked and Harle turned around.

“Non, mais it won’t take much longer...look over there!”, Harle said and smiled, then pointed on a flying bird above them. Kidd hadn’t seen one like that before.

“Yes, you’re right.”, Kidd said and stood beside Harle.

It was very quiet on the deck, for almost every soldier was inside, eating. Kidd sighed. It was the same as always. It was quiet and peaceful and finally they were alone, but Kidd didn’t know what to say. Running out of words as always when she wanted to talk to Harle.

So she just stood there and said nothing for a while, Harle keeping silent as well. But after a few minutes of silence, Kidd couldn’t stand it anymore.

“What...what are ya thinkin’, Harle?”, she asked, again cursing herself for not being able to come up with better words.

“Hmm? Moi? Why do you ask, mon ami?”, Harle asked surprised.

“Well...I’m...I’m just interested. Many things happened, and...I dunno...I’m just curious. Sometimes I get the feelin’ ya don’t wanna talk ta me. Do ya hide anythin’ from me, Harle?” Now it was out. Kidd just hoped Harle didn’t misunderstand it.

“Moi...hiding? Maybe. Moi doezn’t know for sure. Life iz so...difficile et illogique." Harle wasn’t sure whether to tell or not.

"But...why ? Ya can tell me everythin’, ya know that. We’re friends!”, Kidd said, but grew thoughtful after saying this. Friends. It was such a strange word to describe the two of them. They could hardly talk to each other, this wasn’t what friends were like at all.

“ hopez so. We are Mais what about later? Moi doezn’t want to be seule again.”, Harle said with a serious expression. She wondered if there would ever be the day when she would stop being so selfish. But for now, the thought of being alone scared her the most. But she knew there was no promise that could relief that fear. Kidd turned to Harle and touched her shoulders, making her look at her

“Listen, ya won’t be alone! I will be there...always...”, Kidd said but stopped when she saw Harle’s face getting closer to hers. Kidd moved her face towards hers as well, until she could feel Harle’s breath on her face. Kidd hesitated for a moment, but then came even closer, almost touching her lips.

“Liar.”, Harle suddenly whispered and turned away from her. Kidd didn’t know what to do, she just stared at Harle, but before she was able to say something, the soldiers came pouring out onto the deck.

“Look! There’s Porre!”, one of them shouted and the soldiers came to the front of the ship, watching Porre coming closer. Harle was completely surrounded by soldiers and when she looked for Kidd, she was already gone.

“Did moi do ze right t’ing?”, she asked herself quietly and tried to get out of the bustling crowd of soldiers.

Kidd ran along the empty corridors up to her room. She went inside and slammed the door shut behind her. She stood there at the other side of the door, breathing hard. Her right hand pushed against the door and her left hand locked it. She sat down, her back leaning against the door.

“Why... Harle?”, she asked with a trembling voice. She closed her eyes. She heard footsteps coming closer to her. Kidd recognized them as Harle’s. No one else walked so lightly. The steps stopped in front of the door. Kidd heard Harle’s hand on the doorknob, but it didn’t move. A few seconds later, the footsteps went away until Kidd couldn’t hear them anymore.

Kidd stood up and stared at the door. ‘Why didn’t she turn the doorknob? Why!’

Kidd didn’t exactly know why, but she felt disappointed and angry at the same time. Didn’t Harle want to see her? If not, then why had she come here?

“Just what’s goin’ on here, goddammit!”, Kidd shouted and hit the door with her right fist. What had she done now? Why hadn’t she been able to just shut up?

A few tears dropped onto the floor and Kidd sank down to her knees. She was crying and sobbing and kept on hitting the ground in front of her. She felt embarrassed, crying there like a little child, but she couldn’t help hit. Ten minutes until the tears in her eyes dried and her body stopped trembling.

“I guess...ya deserve this, Kidd. Maybe ya really did lie to her. How can ya say for sure that ya won’t ever leave her? Bloody fool. Everythin’ ya do is wrong, completely wrong.”, she said to herself after calming down a bit. She should apologize.

Kidd was surprised when someone knocked at the door. She quickly stood up and rubbed her face, hoping not to look as though she had been crying.

“Miss Kidd? The ship has reached Porre just now. Please go see Miss Dana before you leave. Goodbye.”, one of the soldiers reported and left.

Kidd was surprised that she hadn’t even noticed that the ship had come to a standstill. She opened the door and made her way back to the deck, hoping to see Dana on her way. She opened the big iron door and was surprised by the noise out on the deck.

Almost the whole deck was full of soldiers and in the background she could see Porre, which was still the biggest city she’d ever seen. From what she could tell by now, Porre was at least the triple size of Termina, much bigger than it had been a few years ago. Huge skyscrapers reached high over Kidd’s head, making her dizzy by simply looking at them, even from a distance.

Kidd looked around and finally found Dana, who stood beside Harle at the harbour, close to the ship. She ran to the railing and climbed down the ladder. Dana noticed her and went towards Kidd, but Harle remained where she stood.

“Hi, Kidd! Isn’t that a wonderful city? I hope you two enjoy your stay here!”, Dana said happily.

“Yeah, great city, really. Thanks for takin’ us here, Dana.” Kidd tried to look as happy as possible.

“My dear, we have to thank you. You helped us so much with the drive, the cooking and let’s not forget about the dragon! You’re always welcome on our ship!”, Dana beamed.

“Yeah, I hope we’ll meet again.”, Kidd said, looking over to Harle, who was already heading away from them, “well, I gotta go. Bye, Dana.” Kidd gave her a quick hug and then ran after Harle. She didn’t know why, but she felt happy all of a sudden. Maybe it was this great city in front of her or maybe it was the feeling that everything could only get better with every step she took from here.

Or it was the feeling, that she had finally found something that she didn’t want to lose ever again. Something she knew would make her happy and give her strength. Something she wanted so badly and now was almost close enough to catch it.

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