Here's a Health to the Company

By Anakerie

Opassa beach was almost empty as the sun set. Some goodbyes had been tearful, some silent, but the quiet ones no less heart-wretching. There would be no coming together again. Even those from the same world would find their lives divided in different directions once they left the beach.

" know I can't stay." Karsh stared out at the waves, not looking at the hulking, disfigured man at his side.

"I ken, lad. I ken." Zappa's voice was hoarse. "I'd not want the other me, and yer other mother, to suffer what we've been through. I ken my own lad is..gone."

"Da, I was thinking..." Karsh paused, and then pointed to a small figure playing in the waves. "They're probably going to put her in the Viper school. She has no family left...well, I know Mom was always sorry she didn't have a daughter to spoil."

Zappa raised his massive head, and his eye focused on the laughing child, and filled with a new light. "That she was. It was a great delight to her when you used to bring wee Marcy by for visits. Do ya thin she might like comin' to live with a bear like me?"

Karsh smiled. "I ken she would, Da."

He found himself pulled against Zappa's chest, surrounded by the familiar smells of his boyhood. Sweat, smoke, home. "You'll always be in my heart, lad, no matter where ye might be." The blacksmith muttered. "Out of all the things I turned out of my are the finest."

"Go to her. Tell her she has a home and a new mom and da." Karsh urged. "The finest pair in any world."

"Leah." Zappa called down the shore. "Come here, lass. I want a word with ye."


Marcy looked at at Fargo. He was amused to see her small face carefully set to conceal all her emotions. Poor kid, so determined to be tough. She looked just like her mother, but damned if her spirit wasn't his own.

"So, like, I have to live on your boat now?"

Fargo chuckled. "You may fight like a hellion, but you are still a child, and children belong with their parents. You, my stubborn wench, prove yourself my daughter every time you open your mouth."

"I'm only going with you because, like, General Viper said I had to." She retorted, toeing the sand.

"I don't doubt that for a minute. You'll come now for duty, but you'll stay for love, mark my words. A year from now, we'll be thick as thieves, you and I. All of us." He motioned Nikki over to them. "Listen to the waves, listen close, and you can hear your mother. 'Stop bickering and start being a family' she's saying. And I learned early on not to argue with Zelbess."

Marcy snorted, but Fargo noticed she was staring intently at the water. "Okay. For now."

"For now." Fargo agreed. He knew he was in the battle of his life here, and he did not intend to lose. One day, his daughter would love him.


They built a bonfire and gathered around it, those that remained. The ale from the Invincible flowed freely, and the conversation was light-hearted, not mentioning the upcoming seperations. Leah, worn out, dozed in Zappa's lap, and every now and then he touched the small head gently, looking down in wonder at the special gift he had been given.


Zappa glanced at Karsh. "Do you remember that song you taught me when I was little, the song the soldiers sang before heading out to war? It keeps running through my head tonight."

"Aye, I remember that." Zappa paused. "You used ta mangle all the words but ye sang like a wee angel."

"Let's hear it." Nikki chimed in. "I'm always up for a good song."

"That's because you don't know how to sing any." Marcy blurted out, and Nikki laughed. "You're acting like a little sister already." The girl glared at him, embarrassed, and shut up.

Zappa's voice was like rumbling stones.

Kind friends and companions, come join me in rhyme

Come lift up your voices in chorus with mine

Let us drink and be merry, all grief to refrain

For we may and might never all meet here again

Zappa looked pointedly at Karsh, who shrugged and joined in. His voice wasn't exactly angelic,but it was powerful.

Here's a health to the company and one to my lass

Let us drink and be merry all out of one glass

Let us drink and be merry, all grief to refrain

For we may and might never all meet here again

To their surprise, Fargo took up the next chorus.

Here's a health to the wee lass that I love so well

Her style and her beauty, sure none can excel

There's a smile upon her countenance as she sits on my knee

Sure there's no one in in this wide world as happy as me.

He raised his mug to Marcy, and to his surprise she gave him a small grin, before catching herself and putting her usual scowl back into place. So it surprised him even more when she joined in. She had loved sitting near Zappa's furnace when she was smaller, listening to him sing this song as he hammered in time, and the words were still fresh in her mind.

Our ship lies at harbor, she's ready to dock

I hope she's safe landed without any shock

If ever we should meet again by land or by sea

I will always remember your kindness to me.

The voices merged into one.

Here's a health to the company and one to my lass

Let us drink and be merry all out of one glass

Let us drink and be merry, all grief to refrain

For we may and might never all meet here again

No, they might never be together again, Nikki reflected, but that didn't mean it was the end. Serge had shown him there were infinite other worlds out there, each based on a thousand different "What if's." Who was to say that in a different when and a different where, they might all be gathered around a fire once more, singing together into the night.

For now, he would be content to return to his own world. Miki was waiting for him. He had a father and sister he needed to get to know again, and a message to spread with his own songs.

Karsh watched his father cuddling little Leah. She would be well cared for, and spoiled rotten. He had always thought it a shame his proud father had never been wrapped around the finger of a little girl. Well, now was his chance. Maybe one day, he would find a way to come into this world again and check up on them. Maybe by then, he'd have a little lass of his own to spoil. Not with Riddel; he accepted that now. She had Dario back in her life, and they had faced down death to be together; he would not interfer in that. But there had to be someone out there for him, somewhere. He just had to find her. He noticed Orlha standing close to Doc. Just how serious was that relationship, anyway...

Sprigg pushed a stick into the fire. Her own home was far away. Well she remembered the day that she had, as a younger goblin, stumbled across His Majesty's trick mirror, and ended up trapped far away from reality. He had so many goblins; he had no doubt forgotten about her by now, but she could not shake the almost burning desire to prowl the castle corridors just one more time. She wasn't sure what she was going to do here, but she did know she'd be all right. Wasn't she always?


"They're going to be lost without each other for a while."

"Probably. Life is about seperation, though. They'll cope."

"You never accepted that. How can you expect them to?"

"Because...I'm a prince. Given everything I wanted right from the cradle, usually by you, if memory serves. How could you expect me not to go after what I wanted the most?"

"I want to join them down there."

"What's stopping you?"

"It's easier this way. I've said my goodbyes." She shrugged. "I've disrupted their lives enough; it's time to leave them in peace."

He didn't answer, just tilted his head back, staring up at the starry sky, his long hair tangled in the wind. "Isn't it confusing? Having her memories and your own now? Remembering two childhoods?"

"Sometimes, but I wouldn't trade it. Oh, there are a few memories I'd like to erase. Seeing you sucked into that void, losing Lucca. But there are twice the good memories as well. I'll get it all straightened out one of these days."

"Are you going to go look for him?"

"Not right away. He's meant to marry Leena, his children, his grandchildren, those lives will be vital to shaping this world. But someday, in another where, maybe he's meant for me. And if that's the case, I know I'll find him."


"Royal arrogance. You don't need to think yer arse got all of it, mate."

He winced. "Schala..."

"I know, you hate it when I talk like her, but face it, she's half of who I am now. Take it or leave it."

He embraced her, and she never failed to be surprised that her head did not reach his shoulder, for it still seemed like he should be small enough to cuddle to her chest as she had so long ago. "I'll take it. I need you."

"I need you, too. Come one, enough wasted time. We have lives to start living."


"I hate this ship. It smells bad, and I hate that Fargo ( I refuse to call him da) thinks he can tell me what to do all the time. Who does he think he is, anway?"


"She called me 'Ma' today, without even thinking about it. Zappa set her up her own little table in the forge, and she stands there at his side just swinging away all day. I'm still hopin', though, to teach her to be a lady somewhere along the line. I heard her the other night, whispering to the stars to tell her parents not to worry about her, because she was okay. Och, lass, you are okay. You are safe with us, you are home."


"It's a GIRL. Selena was so convinced it was going to be a boy, but instead it's a beautiful, tiny little girl. She's got her mother's red hair, and my eyes. Da keeps saying she looks like him, and each time he does Mom smacks him for "insultin the wee lass." They've demanded to babysit her; and Selena predicts she'll be speaking with Da's burr before she's two. She's strong for such a little thing, when she grabs my finger I wonder if I'll ever get it back sometimes. We really don't know what to call her yet, but I'm sure we'll think of something. I still can't believe it...a girl!"


"We had the wedding in Marbule. Kept it pretty small, just a family thing. It easy enough to keep it private; once I took off the stage make-up and put on regular clothing, I was pretty hard to recognize.

My father was bawling as Miki and I exchanged our vows, and Marcy was trying really hard to look bored, but she didn't fool me for a second. Afterward, Dad danced with her at the reception and she actuallly laughed when he pretended to step on her foot. They're getting there.

Miki and I still plan on touring and performing for a while, a few more years at least, then we want to settle down and spread our message in a different manner, through our children. The adventure has just begun...

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