Hello world, Bookish here. I don't usually give author's notes, but special circumstances compel me to provide a pair for this.
Note 1: This story contains spoilers for the recently released (and pretty awesome) game known as Freedom Planet. I've done my best to keep them mild, but if you care about the storyline and plan on finishing that game, you might want to do so first before reading this.
Note 2: The author would like to extend sincerest apologies to the creators of this game and its characters. What you've created deserves far more than my trademark brand of fluffsap as tribute -- but at the same time, this story refused to not exist. S'what happens when you make a game good enough to inspire, I suppose. Hats off.
Thank you, and on with the proceedings.
"Regrets Are Dumb"
A Freedom Planet Fanfiction
by Bookish Delight, 2014
All characters and referred properties belong to Ziyo Ling & GalaxyTrail Games.
A short distance away from her treehouse, Sash Lilac sat at a riverbank. She dangled her legs over the bank's edge, idly and playfully kicking at any stray waves which happened to rush close to her. Clear water splashed over her ankles, just cool enough to be refreshing in the warm weather.
Perfect, Lilac thought to herself. Absolutely perfect.
She lolled her head back, sighed, and allowed her mind to wander.
There'd been a time not long ago when Lilac hadn't been sure if she would ever be able to enjoy moments like this again. More than enough had transpired over the past week to lend credence to those worries.
But those events had passed. Any signs of otherworldly interference were pretty much gone. Torque, gone. The Kingdom Stone, retrieved -- in a fashion. And Lord Brevon... well, Brevon was out of sight, at least.
She gave an involuntary shudder at the memory of Brevon. The myriad times he and his generals had outwitted and stayed one step ahead of her. The innocents she had been unable to stop him from killing. What he had done when he had gotten a hold of her.
Bound, caged. If she thought hard enough, she could still remember the shocks. And that hadn't even been the worst of it.
The moment the memory of a transformed and angry Milla flashed in her mind, she plunged deeper into her reverie. Past anguish, past pain, overtook her, became real once more, squeezed tears from her eyes-
Lilac would have jumped out of her shoes if she'd been wearing them. She instead had to make do with a loud cry, and a jolt to her system knocking her flat on her back.
When she recovered from her startled state, she groaned and picked herself back up. She looked over to a familiar green cat -- familiar because only one person she knew would ever have yelled that loudly, without any consideration for others.
"Whoa! Carol!" Lilac exclaimed. She held her hand to her heart, gasping for breath. "Seriously, come on! What have I told you about startling me?"
A large toothy grin heralded Carol's reply. "Not to." She sat beside Lilac on the riverbank. "Have I ever listened?"
Lilac sighed. "No. But I seriously didn't see you coming. I thought you were taking your mid-afternoon catnap."
"Already did." Carol yawned and stretched. "Not my best. I give it an 8.8."
Lilac gave a deadpan stare. "You rate your naps?"
"Hey, it's the only way they'll improve. Anyway, the second I saw you sitting out here, I knew sleeping was the wrong thing to do." She turned to study Lilac's face. "Uh huh. Knew it. You're totally bummed. Little scared, too. And those are the worst things to be when you're alone."
Lilac quickly wiped her eyes, doing her best to keep her face neutral. "R-really, now?" she said amidst rapid eyeblinks. "You got all that just by looking at me?"
Carol rolled her eyes. "Duh, Sash. Best friend? I've seen that look on your face a hundred times. She placed her palms against her cheeks. "It's your, 'oh woe is me, I'm angsting 'cause I'm remembering something terrible!' look."
Carol inched closer, her voice lowering and sobering with her next words.
"And you, uh, don't exactly have a shortage of those memories after this week, do ya? Heck, neither of us do. And don't get me started on Milla."
Lilac sighed and hunched over, staring at her reflection in the river. "Yeah. I guess I was getting lost in all of those just now."
She gave a small gasp of surprise when she saw and felt Carol reach over and clasp her hand.
"But that's all they are, though," Carol said. "Memories. They're gone now. They can only hurt you if you let 'em."
She looked up to Lilac's face with a smile.
"What's that stuff Torque was saying? 'No use thinking about a past that can't be changed'? Some stuff happened, but we came out of it. We're here now. That's what matters, right?"
When Lilac finally remembered to breathe, she gave a small smile in reply. "Oddly profound. I'd almost think you were the Magister wearing a Carol suit."
Carol laughed. "I guess I'll take that as a compliment."
The two looked out towards the waterfall, allowing themselves to get lost in its rhythmic sound and hypnotic motion, until Carol broke the silence.
"Can I... ask a really weird question?"
Lilac shrugged. "Depends on how weird."
"Can..." Carol twiddled her thumbs. "Can I touch your hair?"
Lilac stared at Carol, a dumbfounded look on her face.
"I take it back. Is that you, Milla? Are you wearing the Carol suit? Gotta say, it's pretty lifelike. You even got the sarcasm down."
"Oh, fun-ny," Carol said, a trace of indignance seeping into her voice. "Look, it feels stupidly weird to ask, okay? But-" She stopped when she saw Lilac turn the back of her head towards her.
"Sure," Lilac said. "I don't mind."
After getting over her surprise, Carol reached out, gingerly at first, at Lilac's head. Lilac stiffened at the contact, but relaxed just as quickly. Carol's grip firmed, enough to be felt, enough to sate her innate feline curiosity... but not to hurt. Never to hurt. Carol would never hurt, and Lilac knew it.
Carol let out a small awed exhale. "Wow, Milla was right. It is like a rope."
Lilac giggled. "Yeah, I get that a lot. It's a dragon thing. Helps in battle too, though."
Carol didn't reply, but instead continued to run her hands up and down the length of Lilac's extra-long locks. Sometimes it felt to Lilac as if Carol were massaging them. Other times, it felt like playing. In either scenario, she found herself contentedly sighing and relaxing under Carols surprisingly soothing touch.
Not a single claw-prick -- not even by accident. Lilac couldn't remember the last time Carol was careful with anything, much less this gentle.
When Carol at last spoke again, her voice was as soft as her touch had been.
"I'm glad you're back," Carol whispered as she pulled away her hands.
Lilac turned around to see a cat who was far more forlorn now than she had been five minutes ago. "Carol? Are you all right?"
Carol sighed. "Sorry about the weird. I guess I just needed a way to tell myself that you're still really here, and I'm lucky for it. 'Cause I almost lost you. And... it would've been my fault if I had."
"I said so many stupid things." Carol sniffed, wiping her eyes. "I said I was willing to break things off and have you fend for yourself. I said I wasn't willing to stick by your side, and then I just ran off, and..." Another sniffle. "I mean, come on! What kind of friend does that? What kind of-"
Lilac placed a finger to Carol's mouth.
"A friend who doesn't want to see the other run off into certain danger. Certain death. You know, like I did. You didn't throw my life into Lord Brevon's hands. That was all Lilac. The only one who should be apologizing here is me."
"Lilac..." was all Carol was able to utter before she found herself wrapped in a clinging hug from her dragon friend.
"I'm so sorry, Carol. I thought maybe that if I got myself hurt, no one else would have to, least of all you. It's... it's just how my brain works, I guess. I know it's wrong."
"But it's also right, because you're thinking about soooooooooo many other people." Carol hugged back. "Which is why I'm sorry too. I've got a lot to learn about this 'hero' stuff."
The two shared a silent embrace, relaxing into each other, and once more appreciating the gentle sound of rushing water. When the two parted, this time it was Lilac who had the first word.
"I suppose neither of us are wrong on this. But you know what? When I go all Little Miss Heropants, I will always, always appreciate you trying to stop me. It reminds me that I have reasons to watch myself. To do whatever it takes to not give the bad guys my life without a fight. Because it'd break Carol's heart if they got it."
"A-and Milla's, too." Carol said with an unbidden blush. "Don't forget her."
Lilac gave a small laugh. "Of course."
"Anyway, you won't have to worry about that." Carol balled a fist. "'Cause I meant what I said back there about never leaving you again. Especially with all this stuff going on with Brevon and Torque and other worlds? If you're gonna take on all that stuff, you're gonna need insurance." She thumbed at herself. "And hey, why go with just one ninja when you can send two, right?"
Carol was stopped short when Lilac squeezed her hand. She looked over to see the dragon's eyes misting.
"Thank you Carol. Between the two of us, I think we really can keep our world safe. And this time, with no regrets."
"Who needs those? Regrets are dumb anyway." Carol stretched and yawned. "Anyway, now that that's settled? I'm due for my mid-mid afternoon catnap, and I'm too lazy to walk back to the treehouse." She laid her head on Lilac's lap. "And you're as good a pillow as any."
Lilac tittered. "Gee, thanks."
Still, she allowed the feline to rest her head where she wished. After a short while, she softly scratched Carols' ear as she looked out at the ever-running waterfall once more.
"Mmmmm... lilacs," Carol said between relaxed purrs.
Lilac blinked. "Huh? Did you call me?"
"No. I mean you smell like 'em. They're one of the few flowers I actually do like."
Lilac did a double-take. "Never figured you for the flower type."
"I'm not. But, well... you know. Everyone has exceptions they're willing to make for something." Carol looked up and smiled. "Or someone."
With a blush, Lilac looked down at her feline friend. Four eyes and twin gazes met, their sentiments perfectly in sync.
"By the way," Carol said, "you tell anyone about the flower thing and you're in trouble. I got a rep to uphold."
Lilac smiled and winked.
"I'm sure the lilacs of the world are grateful enough to keep your secret."