Cheers and cries of joy bellowed throughout the snowy valley as hundreds and thousands of souls ran about into arms of one another, some faltering to their knees and weeping toward the sky. Hannah, similarly, had a rather joyous look on her face, her lips quivering faintly, her tired body collapsing into the snow.
Just a few moments ago, she and many like her stared in confusion as the swarm of enemies that were about to overwhelm them turned tail and ran away, leaving behind only the dead and the accompanying silence. Minutes would pass before people would come back to their senses and erupt in cheers of victory. Though merely a few knew exactly the reason they won, they all cheered regardless. Hannah found herself looking out and about, searching for a familiar figure to show up in a show-off sort of a way and proclaim his victory.
Minutes ticked, and soon hours, but Lino was nowhere to be found; she wasn’t particularly worried, as she had his life talisman and it showed he was still alive. She did ponder, however, whether he truly won, or if the Dragon merely took pity on them after Lino begged him. A swirl of unease wrapped around her heart as she sat in isolation, cut off from the rest most of whom had already gotten drunk and passed out.
From the corner of her eye she saw a figure approaching her, causing her heart to jump as she turned on her heel; however, disappointment quickly washed over her face, replaced soon after with worry once more.
“Oh my, that’s quite a new reaction,” Jade said within a faint, warm smile. “Is there something wrong?”
“... no.” Hannah replied dryly.
“So you are not worried the Empyrean hasn’t shown up yet?”
“... no.” Hannah replied with a cracking voice. “Ugh, shut up. Why don’t you go and celebrate with the rest?”
“Ha ha, I can’t imagine they would celebrate to their heart’s content if their Overseer was there too. So, I decided to leave them to their own devices.” Jade said, walking up and sitting next to Hannah. “Have you thought about looking for him? Or contacting him? Or anything like that before sulking?”
“... we had a small fight before he left,” Hannah explained after a few moments of silence. “I can’t show him I’m not angry anymore. He’ll start thinking I never get angry.” for one reason or another, Hannah soon realized, she felt rather... safe, sitting there.
“... though I cannot claim to have much experience in the rivers of romance, I imagine that worry and anger are not mutually exclusive concepts. You can still be angry with someone and worry for them, no?”
“Yeah, tell her!” a slightly loud voice startled both of them as they jumped off the rock, turning around and facing the source. Lino walked forward casually with a grin on his face, his body notably bruised and dulled across, yet he seemingly remained unaffected by it. “I keep telling her... just because you’re angry doesn’t mean we can’t have a nice ol’ fuck, you know? By the way, who the heck are you?”
“L-lino?! What the fuck?! Do you know how worried I was?!” Hannah quickly exploded into an angry torrent.
“E-eh? What? Is there something wrong?” Lino asked back in confusion.
“What took you so long to come back?! The battle ended hours ago!”
“Oh, that,” Lino stroked his chin for a moment. “I was just, y’know, wandering about. Contemplating. Yeah, that sounds deep enough.”
“... where is the Dragon?” Jade interjected into the heavy silence that befell the two.
“Vy?” Lino mumbled. “Oh. He’s, uh... home.” he added with a mysterious and self-pleasing grin, winking at the two women. “And you are?”
“Oh, pardon my rudeness,” Jade said, nodding toward him. “My name is Jade Ann Yin; I am the Arch Priest of the Bastion. It is a pleasure to become your acquaintance, Lord Empyrean.”
“You are, huh?” Lino smirked dubiously for a moment, accepting Jade’s handshake. “No, no, pleasure’s all mine. Even a taken man can take pride in meeting such a beauty like yourself.”
“You flatter me.”
“Hardly,” Lino grinned. “I flatter fools; I praise the determined.”
“.. hm?” Jade shot him a quzzical glance which he ignored as he turned toward Hannah.
“Oh my god, can you stop pouting?!” he rolled his eyes as he walked up to her. “I’m here now, aren’t I? What’s it matter anyway? I fought a freakin’ Dragon and won! You should be licking every inch of my body right about now!”
“... what’s a big deal about it anyway?” Hannah shrugged, scoffing at him coldly. “You cheated. Anyone could have won the way you did.”
“... t-they could have, huh?!” Lino’s brows twitched for a moment.
“Yeah. What? Are you seriously being all prideful about it?”
“.. tsk. You envious bitch.”
“... I-I’m sorry, you-you’re not a bitch.” Lino quickly apologized, taking a step back.
“... and what?”
“And I’m not ---”
“Oh, no, you’re definitely envious,” he still stood by one-part, however. “Don’t know why, to be honest.”
“... fuck, what do you mean why?! It’s ‘cause you always get to fight the cool battles while I’m relegated to pretty much baby-fucking-sitting!! I wanna get in a shouting match with a Dragon too, you ass!! I also wanna look like dead just shat all over me after a battle!”
“Eh? Really?” Lino questioned.
“W-well, maybe not the last one-- but all those prior, definitely!”
“... well fuck babe, you should have told me. I’d have gladly stayed here in safety and comfort and sent you up to fight a fucking Dragon tens of thousands of Levels above you.”
“Oh go suck a dick, you fuckin’ ass.”
“Can a day pass without you two either fighting or bickering?” Seya, who stood by the side all the while, entirely unnoticed -- and somewhat hurt by it -- finally joined in. “If you’re gonna do it, at least get married first. Yo, glad you’re safe.”
“... that’s all?” Lino asked her.
“What? Do you want me to run over, throw myself into your arms while crying the tears of joy, and tell you you’re the dudest dude ever?”
“... yeah, that’d be nice.”
“Not gonna happen.”
“When will your rebellious years end?” Lino asked.
“When will you grow up?” Seya asked back. The two had a brief stare-off before they grinned out; she casually walked up and hugged him, pushing him at Hannah afterwards. “You two should make-up or whatever quickly, because by god I’m ready to leave this hellhole.”
“I shall take off too.” Jade chimed in as Seya turned around and left. “It was a pleasure to meet you both, truly. And, I hope you shall come to the Council Room tomorrow to bid farewell, and hopefully accept our gratitude. It is certainly not much, but saving us all cannot be paid off so simply anyway.”
“... Jade, was it?” Lino asked, smiling faintly as Hannah pinched his side; he, however ignored it.
“Yes.” she nodded, feeling somewhat awkward underneath that gaze.
“We’ll meet again.”
“... uh-yes, I certainly hope so.”
“... what was that?” Hannah quickly questioned as Jade left. “Are you planning on grabbing at her as well?”
“Oh, yes, sure. Let me go around and start collecting women to add to my bountiful collection of exactly one. Fuckin’ hell.” Lino responded quickly with a sigh.
“Then what’s with the interest?” Hannah asked as she glanced toward Jade’s fading back.
“... just a personal interest of mine,” Lino replied mysteriously. “And yours, really. But, more on her much, much later on. Let’s talk how you’re gonna reward me.”
“For making one of your dreams come permanently true.”
“... what?” Hannah asked with faint interest.
“Khm, so-- here’s the shit...”
“... what’s the shit?!!”
“I got us a Dragon pet!!” Lino exclaimed with joy.
“WHAT THE FUCK?!!” Hannah exploded out.
“EXACTLY!!” Lino shouted back. “That old fucker bet me before we started fighting; if I won, he’d become my pet, and if he won, I’d become his. And guess what?!”
“YOU FUCKIN’ WON YOU BEAUTIFUL BASTARD!!”
“I FUCKIN’ WON!!” Hannah threw herself into his arms and began kissing him repeatedly till the point Lino was beginning to choke due to shortness of breath. “So, we cool?”
“... we’re always gonna be ‘cool’,” she chuckled faintly, pulling a few strands of his hair behind his ear. “I love you, Lyonel. And unless you burn my heart to ash, that ain’t gonna change.”
“Even if I burn your loins?” he asked with a playful smile, pulling her close in.
“That’s the thing that’s kept me warm in this frigid hell,” she replied wryly. “Though I suppose you’ll have to cool it down slightly when we get back to the mainland. What if I, god-forbid, get pregnant? Wouldn’t your brain combust?”
“... what if you?” he asked softly.
“... huh? You serious?” her long eyelashes fluttered in surprise as her eyes widened, meeting his honest gaze.
“Yeah, what of it? Wouldn’t it be fun if we popped another one of us into the world?”
“... we’re not going to have a kid because it would be ‘fun’.” she said somewhat angrily.
“Then how about because I love you and because I wanna have one with you?”
“... where did this come from anyway?” Hannah asked, trying to cover up her bashfulness.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a long while, actually,” Lino said. “And, well, doing the whole make-pretend with you and Seya really showed me what a wholesome dad I’d be.”
“Oh, shut up. You know I would.”
“Let me put it this way: if we have a girl, I feel fearful for every dick-bearing bastard out there; if we have a son, I fear for every womb-having chick out there.”
“... oh, wow. You may not realize it, but I have a heart Hannah. And it bleeds.”
“... you know too damn well you’d make a great dad,” she mumbled under her breath. “You just, you know, caught me off guard. Which is something you’re apparently really good at.”
“Well, it’s only fair,” he said, smiling warmly as he lifted up her chin. “You disarm me altogether. That’s far, far worse.”
“... okay, yeah, we’re having a kid.” she replied fiercely, licking her lip.
“W-wait, like right now?”
“What? You drop a bomb like that on me and expect me not to get horny?”
“No, that’s not it-- you’re always horny anyway, I was--”
“Nope, we’re not having kids. Ever. Till we croak.”
“W-what, wait!! What’d I do now?!!”
“... oh for the love of... Hannah, wait up! You’re not horny all the time! You’re barely ever horny! I practically have to douse with a bucket of water to get you goin--oh my god, stop charging an attack!! I’m not fuckin’ position to defend myself you crazy bitch!! Fuck!!”