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GetMeOffTheMoonRockman PMTRRL
Fan Fiction by Dashe
Press Start to Continue - Chapter 19: Tying Up the Loose Ends

Chapter 19: Tying Up the Loose Ends. Chapter image depicts Teisel yelling at Max in Max's room, which is pretty much just cardboard boxes everywhere.

It wasn't until the fifth day after the rescue that Teisel remembered his card key wasn't in Tron's book anymore. It already felt like a lifetime had passed since he'd been trapped in the ruins. Every morning, he woke up hoping the whole thing had all just been a bad dream, but the moment he caught a glimpse of that purple crystal on the end table, he realized that he'd really had himself convinced the Bright Bats were going to abandon him up there. It got so hard for him to deal with that he eventually just stuffed the artifact into the old zenny pouch from their bet with Seedy Leigh. That way, he wouldn't have to look at it anymore. More than anything, he wanted to put that whole ordeal behind him and find something new to take his mind off of things, but in order to do that, he didn't want to leave any unfinished business behind that would have the potential to nag at the back of his mind later.

"I told you to get that card for me, right, Max?" He frantically asked as he paced the floor in front of the TV, holding Tron's book in one hand and flipping through the pages. "You have it, don't you?"

"Uh...yeah." Max replied.

The two of them had been watching a show about a blue robot, and when the hero picked up a card key with a similar pattern, Teisel suddenly remembered that he still had a vital component required to reach the Klicke Lafonica in his possession. He knew he didn't want to go back down into the ruins again, at least not for a while, but he figured Russell would probably want it. He hadn't heard from his coach since they got back to Teomo City, and the longer he put off telling him that he wasn't planning on continuing his career as a digger, the less he wanted to contact Russell at all.

Max reached into his pocket and suddenly frowned. "I, uh...oh man. Yeah. Crap. I know you told me to get it, and I know I went straight back here and found the card in the book right away, but...uh...I don't think I remember where I put it!"

"Did you leave the base with it?" Teisel pressed. He stared at the gang leader with an intensity that would have had any stranger convinced that he was the one in charge.

"Well...uh...wait!" Max suddenly exclaimed as he hopped off the couch and headed for his room. "Maybe I left it in my other pants!"

As Max and Teisel passed by Pic's room, the reclusive young man cracked the door open and glanced down the hall after them.

"Looking for something?" He asked.

"Yeah," Teisel replied. "I put a small black card in Tron's book and told Max to get it. You're good at finding things, right? Think you could help us out?"

Pic opened the door the rest of the way. Teisel didn't want to know what kind of trash the boy kept stored in there if he had junk piles spilling out into the common room. "He checked his pockets from that day, right?" He asked.

"Checking them now!" Max shouted from within the depths of his own hoarding cache.

The youngest member of their gang thought hard for a few minutes. Then, without warning, he darted into the kitchen. Not even a minute later, Teisel and Max heard him shout, "Found it!"

"Are you serious?" Teisel sputtered. "What's it doing in there, and more importantly, how the heck did you think to look in the kitchen first?!"

Pic calmly walked back out and handed Teisel the card. "I had your dog use your book to track your ship's position and she took me to a bakery instead." He explained. "The only logical explanation is that the last person who read that book got up to go get something to eat. Probably bagels. That shop makes good bagels."

If Teisel'd had pupils, he would have rolled his eyes at the revelation. Of course. "Maaaaaaax!" He groaned. "How much of that book did you end up reading when I told you to get that card?"

Max froze in his tracks with a pair of dirty boxer shorts, some socks, and the pants he'd worn five days earlier clutched in his grasp. That guy was too perceptive for his own good. "It was an accident!" He heard himself shout before he had the chance to work out some kind of an excuse.

"Does that mean I can read it too?" Pic asked. Teisel ignored him and marched straight down the hall to Max's room.

"Max, how much of it did you read?" Teisel repeated.

"Enough to know you probably liked watching Rockman Hyper Adventure as much as I did just now?" Max sheepishly forced a grin.

Teisel just frowned and impatiently crossed his arms. "Come on, Max, that's not what I meant."

"Aero caught me when I got to the part where you were on the roof of the airship shooting at the bad guys and you were just about to fall off." Max sighed. He twisted a graying sock in his hands as he loosened his grip on the rest of the garments he'd been holding. "And, uh, if it's any consolation, it's the only thing I've read all year that didn't have pictures. You can tell me how it ends if you want. I felt really crappy about getting distracted and reading it instead of trying to find everyone, anyway."

"I hate to break it to you, but it doesn't."

"It doesn't?" Max squinted at him in confusion. "What do you mean it doesn't..." he began, but then the likely conclusion smacked him right in the gut. "Oh."

"Yeah." Teisel finished for him. "She never got to write the ending. She didn't even make it to a decent stopping point."

The two of them just stood awkwardly in the bedroom until Max balled his sock up and aimed it at his laundry basket. Like most of the clothes he tried to toss in there, it missed. "Did you ever think about just finishing it yourself?" he finally asked. Once it slipped out, he immediately realized how stupidly obvious that must have sounded, but if it made the conversation any harder to get through, Teisel certainly didn't show it.

"All the time," he admitted with a wistful sigh, "but it just...well, you matter how hard I may try to write the way she did, and no matter how much time I could spend picking through all the little details and trying to get into her head, it still wouldn't be the ending Tron meant to give it."

"Yeah, I guess I can see what you're getting at. Could you at least tell me what happens next? Aero kind of interrupted me in the middle of a cliffhanger."

Teisel shook his head with a surprisingly playful smirk and replied, "Nope."

"What? Hey, that's not fair!" Max shouted as he kicked a cardboard box in frustration. Upon realizing the hard way that it contained a set of weights he'd ordered online, he clenched his teeth and began to hop up and down clutching his foot. Teisel bit the inside of his cheek to keep from bursting into hysterical laughter. The last thing he needed was for Pic to rush in thinking something had happened to them. Still, he couldn't help but let an awkwardly subdued chuckle out.

"You've got to read it yourself," Teisel elaborated once Max stopped making such a ridiculous ruckus and the two of them had calmed down. "Just, uh...don't eat while you're reading it, okay? If something spills on that book, I can't exactly go to the store and buy another one."

"Sorry about that."

"You know you could've just asked me and saved us both this conversation, right?"

"Oh come on!" Pic cut in. The other two men nearly jumped out of their skins as they turned to find him loitering on the fringes of the doorway, rocking on his heels impatiently. Neither of them could say for sure how long he'd been there. "I asked if I could read it at least six minutes ago and you didn't say anything!"

"Oh." Teisel frowned. "Yeah, sure, go ahead, I guess. But no food around that book, alright?

"And you can't add it to your weird book piles, either," Max added for good measure. When Teisel cast a skeptical glance in the leader's direction, Max assured him, "You'll need to worry about that more than the food thing. Trust me."

Teisel finally willed himself into leaving the base the next evening. When he first woke up after that long night in the ruins, he learned that Grill had completely exhausted himself fixing the Drache and building the drill drone. As thanks, Teisel had explicitly promised the mechanic that he would buy him a five-star dinner for his efforts, and it was high time he made good on that promise.

He also needed to get his hair touched up. As soon as he'd decided he was coherent enough to use a pair of scissors, he'd tried to repair the damage that the Reaverbot's laser cannon had done, with questionable results.

The meal was worth the trip, even though Grill and Teisel were both pretty sure that the waitress had herself convinced that the two of them were on a date. It probably didn't help that Grill had shown up in his mechanic's jumpsuit and Teisel had opted to pick that moment to give Grill the crystal from the ruins to check out.

"Awww, isn't that sweet?" The waitress gushed as she topped off their drinks.

"He's researching it, not keeping it on his vanity table as a trinket," Teisel sarcastically grumbled.

Grill deadpanned and uttered, "H-how did you know I have a vanity in my room?"

"You're not helping with this, Grill."

The waitress was beside herself with gawky fangirlish giddiness. For an employee at an upscale establishment, she sure didn't seem concerned about how big of a tip they'd give her later. As she scurried back into the kitchen, Grill just shook his head. "You think she's related to the manager or something?" He asked.

Teisel just shrugged, took a bite of his chicken, and replied, "Just let me know if you can figure out what that crystal is. I'd do this research myself, but...looking at it makes me sick to my stomach right now."

"Oh, right. Guess I probably shouldn't keep it out while we're eating, then." Grill exclaimed. He shoved the mysterious treasure into his pocket. "I'll see what I can do."

The two of them parted ways after they finished their meals. Grill planned on heading straight back to the base, but Teisel had more unfinished business from his last trip to the ruins to sort out.

He headed to Diggers' Square. It was past sunset. The place was illuminated in the orange glow of the street lamps and mobbed with diggers of all skill levels trying to pawn off their latest finds. "Have you seen a veteran digger by the name of Russell pass through here?" He asked nearly everyone who made eye contact with him.



"Get away from me, you creep!"

Finally, an old man in a green cap and a red scarf replied in the affirmative when Teisel asked him about Russell. He almost looked less like a digger than Teisel did at the moment. "Russell, eh?" He repeated. "He's the blond guy with the cape, right?"

Teisel grabbed the old guy by the shirt and exclaimed. "Yes! That's the guy! You've seen him?"

The old man seemed more than a little unnerved by Teisel's desperation, but he nodded and replied, "He comes by my bakery almost every night once he's done digging and orders two donuts and a coffee. Only missed one night this week."

"I really need to talk to him," Teisel insisted. "You haven't closed for the night, have you?"

"Nah, I usually take a break right about now," the old man shrugged.

"What's a baker doing taking a break in this part of town, anyway?"

That old man shot Teisel a glare so surprisingly intense that Teisel started to break a sweat. "I'm just a baker, got it?" He snarled. Even though the statement made almost no sense in the context of their conversation, Teisel responded with a rattled, silent nod. "The shop'll be back open around seven, and we close at ten. No sooner, no later."

Russell never did come around Bakerly's Bakery that night, and after buying a cupcake and getting promptly ejected by the proprietor precisely at ten o'clock, Teisel plodded down the street. Somewhere along the way back to the Bright Bats' headquarters, he heard the jingling sound of dog tags behind him.

"Sprocket, that you?" He inquired, as if there were any other stray dogs on Klickelan Island with ID tags. His companion sprinted across the road. She knocked him to the ground right there on the sidewalk and licked his face.

"Come on, now, it's only been a week," he said, though he couldn't help grinning and petting her behind the ears as he did. "You don't have to worry about me leaving you alone anymore. I won't be going back underground for a long time."

Since spending some impromptu down time with his dog sounded a lot nicer than confronting Russell with his concerns, he sat down on the curb to get out of the way of any oncoming foot traffic. Sprocket cocked her head and let out a high-pitched whine as she gently sniffed around Teisel's pockets to make sure there really wasn't any food stuffed in there.

Teisel wished there had been a burger stand open at such a late hour, and regretted not ordering a bigger meal at the restaurant when he'd had the chance. "Sorry," he sighed. "I don't have anything to eat tonight."

Sprocket flattened her ears against the sides of her head and snorted in mild annoyance before nudging her nose up against Teisel and going in for a snuggle anyway. That man had always been noticeably easier to interpret than most people, even if most of the noises he emitted didn't make much sense.

"...I don't know if I want to go chasing Russell down every night like this," Teisel mumbled. He absentmindedly stroked the dog's back. "He's going to need that card sooner or later if he wants to get to the Klicke Lafonica, right? It'd probably just be easier to let him come to me."

And on the bright side, he mentally added, despite Bakerly's unsettling demeanor, that cupcake was the best he'd had in years.

Back in the base, Pic and Max had decided to tackle the book together to save some time. It was probably for the better, since Max had a hard time remembering things that he'd read. They'd spent a good portion of the day rearranging the boxes in Max's room and building a blanket fort so they could read by flashlight.

"Chapter fifteen," Pic read aloud in a hushed voice. It was half past midnight, and the two of them had been reading and guzzling root beer since before dinner would have been, if they'd bothered to get up and eat any. Teisel hadn't told them they weren't allowed any beverages around the book, after all. "Are you ready for this, Max?"

The first time Max had picked up the book, he'd barely made a dent in chapter seven. Pic seemed to have a hard time getting through some of the more awkward sentences, and sometimes his voice slipped into monotone, but it was still easier than trying to read through the story himself and getting distracted as he imagined what it might have been like to actually know all of these people while they were still alive. The thought that most of them were probably dead was, despite everything, hard for Max to grasp without Teisel in the room to remind him.

"Yeah," Max nodded. He drained another can of root beer, tossed it into a pile in the corner of the fort, and leaned over Pic's shoulder. The awkward teenager hunched over the book and began to read out loud:

"Mega Man found himself scrambling down the docks to the Flutter. He wasn't watching where he was going and found himself barreling straight into his grandfather.

'Ah, Mega Man! Looks like you've saved the island from those pirates!' He exclaimed with a hearty laugh. 'Good going. I'm proud of you...I was wondering when you'd get back into your old routine!'

'Thanks, uh, I guess...' Mega Man muttered awkwardly. 'It's good to be back...?'

'I'm sure you'll find yourself making headlines again in no time!' The professor assured him. 'You do have quite a bit of ground to make up. While you were away...this youngster named...Barrett..."

Pic trailed off, too stunned to continue past that point. "Come on, Pic!" Max exclaimed. "Finish the sentence already!"

"That's OUR Barrett." Pic shook his head. "The professor goes on to describe a Klickelan-based digger who could keep up with Mega Man Volnutt. That has to be him. Tron Bonne must have known Barrett."

Max's eyes grew wide. "You serious? Then that means..."

Pic responded with a solemn nod that did little to betray how astonished he really was. He raised his hand to cut off his boss's sentence before he could get too loud and wake anybody else. "Yeah. If Tron Bonne knew Barrett, then there's a good chance that she knew Aero, too."


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