You only live once.

That's what they all say, don't they? It matters not if you are young or old, rich or poor- you only have one life, and thus, one should always explore new possibilities. But what classifies as "living"?

Would it be being the richest man alive, with servants at his beck and call? With gold and jewels decorated finely in his lodgings? Being able to buy- or steal- anything that he desires? Power, all around him, ready to be used, any time?

Or would it be finding a loved one that he would gladly spend the rest of his life with, giving up the finery and riches that he had spent the most of his life accumulating? Being able to be with the one he loved, without worries ,with just the want of seeing her smiles, wiping away her sorrows?

If it was one of those two... then, he no longer is among the living. His wealth, broken up and no longer the finest in the whole world. His power, sapped away, for avenging his love. His love, dead, all due to his mistakes. Truly, would that not mean that he is dead, inside?

"Sir? The other heroes are waiting. Would you like to meet them now, or are you busy starting to take a bath?"

Hero. He is no hero. He only joined their band of going against the Black Mage to avenge Her. Nothing more, nothing less. So why is he classified with them? Nothing, but a mistake.

"Hm? They are waiting? Ah, then, it's best to not let them wait any longer, right, Gaston?"

"Of course, sir. Would you like to head out to the room now, or continue lazing about?"

"You wound me! Fine, fine, I will head out now! Seriously, they should be grateful I am taking time out of my busy schedule to even allow this meeting on the Lumiere.."

So why does he still allow this to play out, like he is part of them? Aran does not remember herself, or the others. Mercedes? She is busy with her own kingdom, and coaching young Cygnus on hers. There is no way she would ever care about a "petty thief". Evan? Young and naive, that boy should have given up a long time ago. The footsteps of Freud are big, can he even fill them?

Luminous? That petty, stuck-up light mage? But not so light now, is he? Cursed with darkness, perhaps that stick of his would loosen. How dare he even try to demean Her views?! He should have struck down that fool, the moment he tried. But no, Freud had to stop him. But Luminous is kind of right, isn't he? He didn't join their group to save the MapleWorld, or something so righteous. No, he joined them, to avenge Her. For revenge.

"Finally, you've shown yourself! What took you so long?!" Mercedes.
"Mercedes is right. What excuse do you have?" Aran.
"Erm...maybe we should just start..?" Evan.
"I agree with Evan. There's no way Phantom can ever change." Luminous.

That stung. Change? Of course he can. That fool wouldn't know if he had changed, unless it came to bite him in the ass. But that fool is set in his views, Black will always be Black and White will forever be White. There is no in-between.

"..So I recommend that some of us will look for the Black Wings hidden bases, while the others look for ways to prevent the rise of the Black Mage. Evan, Aran, can you look for the bases? Luminous, please join me in searching for ways."

Evan, Aran, Luminous. There was no mention of him. What happened while he was thinking? Had he missed it?

"Phantom... just do whatever you want. It's what you do best, after all."

Stabbed. That's the only way to describe it. He may have disobeyed a few plans or so, but to be just written off, like that..? Like he was worth nothing, at all? Nothing but a speck of dust to be swept away? Automatically, his mouth moved.

"As you command, Mercedes. Would you like a cup of tea, to go with that?"

Having said his piece- really? What happened was habit. A pitiful habit, for a pitiful thief- he left. He could not take the accusing looks, anymore.

"What's his problem now?"

Exasperation. Aran. Seems like he was truly nothing, but a speck of dust.

"M-Maybe he was just having a bad day..?"

Timid, fearful. Evan. Forever concerned about matters that does not concern him. Enough. If he was truly worthless to them, then he will walk his path alone.

With that parting thought, he left.

Luminous was not happy. No. Scratch that. Luminous is annoyed. Another meeting, descended into chaos and uselessness, all because of that idiot. What had even set him off, this time?

No one spoke badly of Aria, or Freud, nor did he start an argument with Phantom. So, what-

Oh. Oh. Feeling himself go rigid, he realized.

"Mercedes, why did you not give him something to do?"
"He never fulfills his share of the work. Why do you even ask?"
"You idiot!"

He ran.

Leaning against the balcony, he attempted a fake smile, only to fail. What would Freud do, in times like this? What would She do? Giving up on divining an answer from the stars, he looked out at the scenery- only to catch something hanging on the top corner of the glass plane, marring the other-wise perfect scenery.

As he climbed onto the balcony to slowly walk and crawl over to the glass plane to wipe it or move it away, he wondered- perhaps this was a bad idea after all?


A slip.