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Summary: Everyone shares a bit of embarrassment, and Alex takes an unexpected turn for the worse.

Warnings: None yet.

Disclaimer: I do not own Last Exile. If I did certain people would have gotten much happier endings than they did.

Pre-notes: Some of the things mentioned in this chapter are things I kind of remember from searching for Last Exile info on the net. Most of it is crap I made up for the story.

In the end, none of them knew how long they stayed there. The sky was beginning to darken when Alex finally managed to calm himself. Vincent was about to suggest finding a ship to take them back to the city when Claus, Lavie, and Alvis walked in. The teens stopped dead in their tracks and seemed to consider just turning and leaving without a word. Alvis on the other hand ran forward to where they sat, a look of distress on her face. "Did Alex get hurt?"

Sophia smiled and shook her head. "No." She answered quietly. "He's just sad."

The girl pouted and hugged her goat for a moment. Then held it out toward the captain. "Here."

Alex turned his head from where it rested Sophia's shoulder. His eyes were red and a bit swollen, which along with the remaining bruises did nothing for his appearance. He shook his head and buried his face back in Sophia's shoulder.

"Poor Alex." Vincent thought. "He must be so embarrassed right now..."

Lavie walked forward and put a hand on Alvis' shoulder. "Al, why don't we give them so..." Before Lavie could finish Alvis set the goat on the floor and threw her arms around Alex in the biggest hug the girl could manage. Vincent had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing at the look on Claus and Lavie's faces.

Alex did nothing to acknowledge that anything had happened, but Vincent noticed he looked to be holding him self a bit more stiffly than before. The Admiral looked at his Empress, nodding his head toward the shocked teens. Sophia nodded back and Vincent stood up walking over to Claus, and Lavie smiling. "Come on lets go find a ship back to the city."


Vincent grabbed both their coveralls by the shoulder and dragged them out of the room. Once outside with the door closed, he let the protesting children go. "I think it would be a good idea not to mention this to anyone else."

A few moments after Vincent left with Claus and Lavie Alex sat up causing Alvis to move. He wiped eyes with the palm of his hand being very careful to not look at the two girls who had stayed. He sighed, but had to clear his throat before he was able to speak. "I'm fine....Vince is never going let me hear the end of this is he?....What are Clause and Lavie going to do with Hamilcar and Georges?"

Sophia smiled at Alvis who had picked up her goat and moved to sit beside the woman. The girl yawned, and leaned against Sophia, she gently placed her hand on the girl's head. "There going to take them to the planet, and bury them there."

Alex stared at the vanship for a while. When he finally turned back to Sophia, the guilt on his face was so clear she felt her heart breaking. "There's nothing for Euris."

He was right. There was nothing. Her father had never allowed Euris to be declared dead. It was his punishment to Marius, and Alex for the failure of a plan he had never agreed with. No grave, not even a memorial. She had never even learned what had happened to Euris' possessions, a few days after Alex had reported the failure of the peace mission she'd wandered into what had been Euris' bed chambers at the palace, searching for what comfort she could find among her lost cousin’s belongings only to find them empty. Like Euris had never existed at all. Her father was gone now though, she could change that. She could finally lay Euris to rest. She looked and smiled sadly fighting tears of her own. "There can be. We'll make something."

After what had to be only a few moments, but seemed like ages to Sophia. Alex nodded. He said nothing but seemed more relaxed now than he had all day. "Alvis fell asleep."

Sophia blinked at the sudden change of subject, and looked to her side at the girl about to fall on her. She carefully lifted the child onto her lap. "It is getting late, I wonder what's taking them so long...We should have had you back at the hospital hours ago."

Alex grunted obviously unhappy at the thought of being confined to his hospital bed again. He stared at the vanship, looking half asleep himself. "Sophia." He didn't turn to look at her.


He was silent for a while. When he did speak it was barely more than a whisper, but still seemed too loud in the mostly empty room. "...In my quarters, there is a case on the floor in the closet. It has all the letters from Marius, Hamilcar, and Georges, before the Grand Stream when the Silvana was still under construction. Claus should have them, he wanted to know about his father. He should know everything.... Euris' ring is in there too, and mine...You can have them if you want. I know your father never let you have anything to remember her by."

Sophia felt like her breath had been knocked out of her. She unconsciously held Alvis a little tighter at the sudden memory.

It hadn't been very expensive, fake silver, a tiny diamond chip surrounded by even smaller crystals of unknown quality. The only thing the unofficially adopted son of a fallen noble working as a courier could afford. Even then it had taken him months to earn the money. He had promised her something better down the road, but to Euris it had been priceless. Her most prized possession because of what it meant, but mostly because it was from him. Which was why the day they left she pulled her little cousin to the side as the men discussed the mission. She would be going not only as Alex's navi but also as an imperial ambassador. She slipped the ring off her finger and placed it in its small velvet box, and put the box in Sophia's hands. "I know it's silly, but I'm so worried something will happen to it. Will you look after my ring until I get back?"

Sophia nodded, promising to look after it. When Sophia told Alex he had laughed, and hugged her. Telling her, he was going to miss her, and promising to tell her all about Disith when they got back. Sophia had kept her promise, constantly checking the contents of the small velvet box on her dresser. When she woke in the morning, before going to bed at night, after meals and between lessons, for two days she kept watch over the ring.

...And then, Alex came back. Far too early, and alone. There was not a word spoken between them when she tearfully handed him the box. He hadn't asked for it, probably hadn't even thought about it. He took it all the same, placing it in his pocket without so much as a glance, and walked back to his ship, preparing to tell Justina that her husband, and Lavie's father would never return.

Sophia didn't see Alex again until she was sent to the Silvana as a spy. "Alex...Euris' ring..Are you sure?"

He nodded. "I haven't even looked at them Sophia, not since that day. They've been sitting in a box at the bottom of my closet for eight years. I...." He sighed, unable to finish whatever he was going to say. For a while they sat in silence. Even through the hull of Exile they could hear the Disith winds picking up as night drew closer.

Finally Alex grabbed his chair. Sophia asked if he needed help but he gave her a short annoyed glare, and reminded her she had Alvis in her lap. He managed with a string of quietly grumbled curses, and hisses of pain to pull himself onto it. Afterward he sat as still as possible for a few moments catching his breath.

Sophia stood carefully trying not to jostle Alvis, though the girl was proving to be quite the heavy sleeper. Alex looked at them both and sighed again. "Hand her over, lets go find out what's taking that idiot so long."

Sophia smiled as she carefully placed Alvis on Alex's lap, the girl remained undisturbed by the movement.

After leaving the storage room they eventually found Vincent, and Lavie at Claus and Lavie's vanship

"Where is Claus?" Sophia asked pushing the chair toward them.

"We ran into some other pilots from Norkia. He's still talking to them." Lavie answered not looking up, she was looking for something around Claus' seat. Vincent however was grinning at the site of Alvis asleep on Alex's lap. "Do you have any idea how much I wish I had a camera right now?"

Alex glared at him. "About as much as I wish I had a gun right now?" He growled in response.

Whatever else he was going to say was interrupted by Lavie's triumphant cry of "Here it is!" as she pulled out, of all things Alex's cape. She stopped and blinked finally seeing where Alvis was. She handed the cape to an astonished Sophia. "Er...Do you want me to take her?" She asked climbing down off the ship.

"Where did you find this?" Sophia asked watching Lavie take Alvis, moving away from Alex a bit more quickly than was necessary.

"Dio volunteered us to help sort out his sister's things. We were there nearly all day. Alis found it in the closet. When we got Dio back to the hospital the doctor told us you weren't back yet so we looked for you at the Silvana, other than you not being there either we couldn't get much out of anyone because Dunya was yelling at the mechanics. Something about her little brother. So we got in our vanship and came to see if you were still here...eh..The doctor is kind of mad at you for staying out so long..."

Sophia sighed, and Alex snorted. Not getting any more of a response than that Lavie continued. "He's decided to give all her stuff away, Dio I mean. He wanted to know if you want anything." Surprisingly Alex only shook his head. She had imagined he would ask for something along the lines of using a "certain someone's" corpse as a dart board.

He sat quietly staring at the returned cape now folded on his lap. "You didn't find my boots did you?"

Lavie blinked. "They took your boots? Why?"

"Because I managed kick Cricket, or whatever the hell his name was in the head while they were turning me into a garden ornament."

She couldn't think of anything to say in response to that. Luckily for her Claus returned and informed them that the airship they had found heading back to the guild city was ready to go. "The captain said we can load our vanship with the others on board. I don't want to take Al all the way back to the city out in this cold....Did Al fall asleep?"

"I'll take her." Vincent offered reaching for the girl. "We'll wait for you onboard. She sleeps like a rock doesn't she?" Vincent, Alex, Sophia, and a still sound asleep Alvis boarded the ship, a Disith vessel called The Vasilisa. They found place to wait in the mess hall, and were mostly ignored by the other passengers, and crew. It didn't take Alex himself long to fall asleep, and Vincent and Sophia were glad he did as they both began to hear the "Whispered" conversation a table away between two Anatoray solders. The subject of the conversation happened to be Alex himself.

By the time Claus and Lavie arrived Vincent was quietly fuming, and Sophia was trying not to laugh at one boy's conviction that "He knew someone, who knew someone who had seen the captain walk away from the wreckage of the Maestro's ship." There was of course, no mention of hours of surgery, and a coma lasting several days.

"How can you laugh at that? Some of the things there saying...He is not a cannibal, demon or vampire." Vincent stayed seated but glared at the boys who moved away when they noticed him. He didn't notice Lavie blush slightly at the vampire comment.

"Vincent... They're just silly rumors. There isn't anything we can do about it. I'm just glad he's asleep he'd probably make it worse." Sophia smiled affectionately at her captain as she took the cape and spread it over him like a blanket. "I'll have to remember to tell him some of those later."

Alex moved another paper to the growing pile on his bed side table after making a few careful notes in the note pad at his side. He glared at the note pad and sighed, at least it was legible. He set the pencil he'd been using down, and moved onto the next paper when Sophia entered grumbling to herself. She slammed the documents she carried with her down on her bed hard enough to make a loud ‘Whumph’ and cause a slight breeze in the room.

"No wonder Father went mad! They make me want to become a tyrant, So I can have them all executed." The Empress sat on her bed putting her head in her hands grumbling in frustration.

"Typical council meeting I take it?" Alex asked not looking up.

Sophia frowned at him then brightened up a bit. "Would you like to be one of my advisers?" She asked smiling sweetly.

Alex did look at her this time raising an eyebrow as he motioned to the papers on his lap, Which happened to be from a previous meeting.

"I mean officially so I can make you suffer through the councils with me."

Alex smirked. "I'll think about it."

"I'm serious you know, it would be nice to have another person besides David, and Vincent who disagree with me because they see a flaw in my ideas, and not because I'm a little girl who needs to stop playing pretend, and start listening to the grownup men who know better." She couldn't keep the bitterness from creeping into her voice as she finished. She looked tired, and her stress was obvious.

"So am I." Alex replied leaning back on the bed ignoring the paperwork for now. "There is a lot to consider...I've..had a lot to think about in the past few days."

Sophia nodded quietly thinking of the two rings she now wore on a silver chain tucked under the collar of her dress. One far too large, the other ever so slightly too small. As far as she knew Claus and Lavie hadn't yet gone through the documents and letters she had given them in Alex's stead. She sighed, softly and decided to change to less somber subject. "Luna said you didn't finish breakfast, and Dr. Actias told me you hardly touched your lunch."

Alex glared at her, but she glared right back. It surprised her when he was the first to look away. "Whatever breakfast was, it was disgusting, and lunch was some kind of fish. You know I hate fish." He knew she was unconvinced, he'd grown up eating whatever he was given without complaint, people in his station in life couldn't afford to be picky. Even after his "adoption" at age six he'd never gotten out of the habit.

He jumped a bit Sophia put a hand on his forehead. She frowned at him. "Alex.."

"I'm fine, it's probably all the damn medications they have me taking." Despite his protest Sophia went to fetch the doctor, and ended up staying with him the rest of the day out of worry.

It wasn't until the pain killers wore off and a terrible pain in his right arm, woke him in the night that he realized the situation was far worse than he had thought. His attempts to reach the call switch without agitating his arm woke Sophia. Becoming frantic on seeing his condition she pushed the switch several more times than she needed to.

Dr. Actias, his daughters and several nurses soon arrived, Actias still wearing what probably passed for pajamas in the guild. Actias immediately went to one of the machines and began pushing buttons, looking through the data on the screen. His eye widened in shock. "Dammit all to hell! Why didn't the scanners pick this up? Get him prepped for surgery! I want that cast off his arm NOW!"

Sophia felt as if her heart had stopped. "Didn't pick up what? What's wrong with his arm?"

"Your Majesty, I need you to stay calm. Isis stay with her. Do. Not. Let. Her. Follow!"

"Yes Father."

"Why? What is wrong with him? Doctor!" Isis stood in Sophia's way not letting her past as Alex was wheeled toward Surgery. "Wait!"

Luna took off down the hall in the opposite direction.

Claus knew he should be sleeping. He wasn't even sure of the hour, but his mind would not let him rest as he sat in Sophia's quarters, she had allowed him, Lavie, and Alvis to use them, instead of having all the papers take up space in their own small sleeping quarters. He poured over the letters between his father and the Prime Minister, Lavie snoring quietly on the sofa beside him.

"My father was supposed to be captain of the Silvana?" He just couldn't imagine it, not the gentle, kind man he remembered. Not The Silvana with its bloody history, its black armor, its dark uniforms...There was no place for his father here. But there it was in his fathers own hand writing.

"I understand your concerns Marius, but I certainly won't leave Justina and the children behind. After all isn't this ship you're building for me supposed to be the safest place in the world?"

"How different would things be if they had lived?" Claus wondered he was startled by a muffled sound coming from Alex's room. He wondered if Sophia was there, maybe she could answer some of the questions burning in his mind.

It turned out not to be Sophia. Vincent about a foot in the air when he came in. "Alex asked me to get something so don't you try any..Oh, Claus it you, you just about scared me half to death. Is something wrong?"

Claus handed him the letter. "Um...Did you know about this?"

Vincent looked the letter over. "You want to sit down?"

Claus took a seat on the sofa while Vincent sat in Alex's chair. "I was never directly involved in any of this, but yeah I knew your Father was supposed to be captain. We weren't much older than you at time, you know. After...everything happened there was no one else Marius trusted but Alex. I think he wanted to give Alex a purpose too, something to concentrate on other than the past. I know he regretted it in the end, not keeping Alex where he could be taken care of I mean."

He handed the letter back to Claus. He was about to say something else when the door flew open again. Dio, Luna, and Atlas were standing there all trying to catch their breath. Luna was the first to speak."The Captain,...His arm.."

The color drained from Vincent's face. "Oh god...Where is Sophia?" He asked standing.

"Isis is with her, but she's really upset." Dio answered. "We came to get you because she didn't want to leave the hospital."

Vincent and Claus followed them back to hospital running as fast as they could. When they arrived Sophia was pacing in the hall outside Alex's room trembling. The first thing Vincent did was pull her into a strong embrace, she started crying. "They won't tell me anything. They won't let me see him!"

Vincent hugged her tighter rubbing his hand up and down her back. Dio and Claus exchanged anxious looks. "Shhh, shhh, It will be all right. He's come this far he won't quit on us now."

A few moments later Isis walked out of the room followed by a nurse, they both looked very unhappy. She turned to her brother. "Atlas, search through all the security footage for this section of the hospital. Luna check over all the personnel records involving the captain's bio-scanners. Someone has tampered with that equipment, and I want to know who."

Everything afterwards was a ballet of chaos. Security and hospital personnel everywhere, checking asking questions. Several nurses, and other hospital workers were taken off duty to be questioned. Luna made Sophia some tea which turned out to have a mild tranquilizer in it, allowing the distressed woman to rest. It seemed like years had passed to Claus, Vincent, and Dio when Dr. Actias finally came in.

"He'll recover,...but there was too much damage, most of his hand was already lost to Necrosis, and gangrene. We had to amputate.”

Author's notes: I'm so sorry Alex! I really am!

Even back in the planing stages Alex was always going to lose something off that arm. I debated with myself forever over how much he would lose. It was anywhere from a few fingers, to most of his arm. In the end I decided to go with what I'm personally most familiar with. My Father lost a hand in a farming accident, So I hope to be able to write from life, without having to ask dad any awkward questions. (Seriously how do you explain "It's for a fanfic.") I also get to play with Prosthesis of the FUTURE! eventually.

Originally I wasn't sure if he would regain his hearing either, or have hearing aids for the rest of his life. This lead to some funny scenes where Alex tormented Vincent by turning the hearing aids off and making him "Play Charades" to tell him something but it seemed to out of place/out of character in the end, so I scraped it.

The scene at the beginning was supposed to be the end of the last chapter. I like it better here.

I worry that Alex seems to be moving on too fast...He is on antidepressants now, I just can't find away to bring it up in the story. I'm not sure if he knows he's on them, but Sophia definitely does. And seeing Hamilcar and Georges was definitely something that affected him very deeply. I still worry he's moving on too fast.

The Vasilisa is named after Vasilisa, the beautiful, of Russian fairy tales.

Hamilcar being the original captain of the Silvana in the planing stages, and Euris being Sophia's cousin are the things I remember from the net. (I'm still always so surprised by how many people I run into on the net that still think Sophia, and Euris were sisters, or worse yet think Sophia, and Euris are the same person.) I think reading through again that the rest is made up. I'm not sure though I may have missed something.

The Valca's, specifically Claus' grandparents, are the nobles who "adopted" Alex, (He was really more like an indentured servant, which is why he still uses his own family name, until Hamilcar noticed how intelligent he was and convinced his parents to educate the boy.) I was never able to fit it into this fic, but I might have a side story about it someday.


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