Celes returns to the Solitary Island, with Locke.
She was enjoying the view much more this time around.
Locke stood behind her, one arm wrapped lightly around her waist and his cheek pressed against hers. "So this is where you woke up?"
She nodded. "The first time I came up here, I could barely walk. I'd been unconscious for a year, and Cid did the best he could, but I felt so weak." Even admitting it made her edgy. She'd never say such a thing to anyone but him.
He twined his fingers through hers and hugged her closer. "Why did you come?"
"Before he...." She swallowed hard. She'd watched countless soldiers die, had taken the news to their families, and yet this one death was so hard to speak of. "Before he died, Cid told me that the others who had washed up here with us used to take a leap of faith off the cliffs to cheer themselves up."
He was silent for a moment, and then she felt the gentle pressure of his hand against her waist. "But?"
She shifted restlessly. "There didn't seem to be any point. I was out here in this godforsaken middle of nowhere. For all I knew, you were dead. Everyone had probably died when Kefka unleashed the Statues. What was I going to do?"
"What changed your mind?" It was only when he voiced the question that she realized that in all their journeys and struggles after they'd found him in the Phoenix Cave, he'd never asked her that. They'd spoken of the future. They'd spoken of Rachel, and that was as far as their discussions of the past went. He'd never even asked her how she'd found his bandanna.
Admitting that it was his bandanna that had restored her resolve seemed stupid, so she squared her shoulders and summoned the discipline that had been beaten into her in the army. "It doesn't matter."
His arm dropped away from her waist and then his hands were on her shoulders, spinning her around to face him, his grey eyes dark and intense as he stared into hers. "It matters to me."
She turned away, only to have him gently but implacably turn her face back. "Celes."
"I...I jumped off. And I washed up near the cottage. There was....a bird. Your bandanna. You had tied your bandanna around it, so I knew you must still be alive. Cid had made a raft, so I got on it and made my way to Albrook."
He pressed his lips gently to her forehead and smiled. "No wonder you insisted on going back for it when that damn tower was falling apart all around us."
"Yes." She didn't have words for more than that.
Locke was staring over her shoulder, a thoughtful look in his eyes and a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. Celes knew that look. It meant trouble.
"Let's take another leap of faith," he suggested, the smile growing into his familiar reckless grin.
Celes gaped. "Are you out of your mind?"
"Oh, come on. It'll be fun." He laughed, his eyes sparkling with challenge.
Celes thought about listing all the reasons that jumping off the cliff would be a bad idea, but hell, she'd already done it once, for a more frivolous reason. Even so, she was surprised when she agreed. "All right."
They walked to the edge of the cliff, hands clasped. He kissed her thoroughly, then stepped back a little and grinned at her. "Well?"
This time, it felt more like soaring than falling.