Proper story’s supposed to start at the beginning. Ain’t so simple with this one.
Kid wakes up to the orange glow of the sunrise, the Rippling Walls groaning like they're welcoming him home.
His first thought is, did it work?
He sits up in a body with no cuts or bruises, none of those aches that made their home in his bones over these past couple ‘a weeks. (Months? Time didn’t mean much after the Calamity.) Looks at his hands like he ain’t never seen 'em before. Wobbles outside on shaky legs, one hand wrapped tight around the shaft of his Companion, to see The City laid out before him, glowing and pristine and beautiful in all its glory. He almost cries at the sight.
Not everything's perfect, though. Kid ain't supposed to remember.
He figures this is the Bastion punishing him for everything. Kid always thought it was justified, a life for a life and all that (though he probably killed a lot more Squirts than he should've, training at Windbag Ranch), but maybe the Bastion didn't think so.
Or maybe it just didn't want everything they'd gone through to be forgotten.
Didn't matter, though. Caelondia was restored, from the briny air of the Wharf District to the Hanging Gardens to the far reaches of Urzendra. They'd done what they were meant to do. They have their second chance.
Kid just hopes they don't screw it all up.
He barely remembers what the old grind was like, and at first it's a hell of an adjustment. Before (well, after, because now is before, isn't it?), he was always on guard. Didn't have much time to rest between collecting the Cores, and the Shards, and then... the rest of it all.
But what used to feel like an exciting life out on the Walls, now just feels so damn boring. Fending off the stray Peckers ever so often makes him melancholic, when everyone else is hollering and taking potshots at the bird. (He hopes their little guy came back, too, and that he stays far away from the City.) Talking shop with the rest of the squad don’t mean anything anymore, not when the Kid’s forgotten all the drama and half of the characters involved. The Rippling Walls ain’t half as exciting as they used to be.
Kid keeps finding himself waking up in the middle of the night, hand tight on the handle of his hammer, heart pounding in his chest. Keeps finding himself side eying the mate he’s patrolling with, waiting for the draw of a repeater. He doesn’t want to be wary of everything that moves, but it’s a reflex that’s tough to shake when not so long ago he was fighting for his life.
Same goes for the Kid’s kneejerk reaction to the Ura. First one he sees out in the City nearly has him reaching for a weapon, but realizes it when the young woman catches his eye and scurries away, terrified. Has the Kid’s eyes burning with tears he don’t want to fall.
It wasn’t Zu - his fault. It wasn’t their fault. The Calamity was no one’s fault.
(A lie. Kid knows who’s to blame. But they made up for it, right?)
After that, Kid sticks to himself on the Walls. He don’t like walking around the City, ‘cause inevitably he finds himself looking for faces he ought never to see again. Every flash of Ura fabric (yellow ochre, royal blue) makes him double-take, every whisper of a hum or a song makes his ears strain to pick up the words. (one day that wall is gonna-) Every mention of the Bastion has him squashing a desire to ask so very innocently, “So who made that thing, anyway?”
They weren’t meant to be -
Friends. Traveling companions. Family. More.
They weren’t meant to be anything.
Nobody notices the change in the Kid. He was always an enigma, anyway. It’s fine. Kid don’t need people asking after him, ‘cause then he’d feel obligated to explain, and warnin’ people that the apocalypse might have happened don’t make people take kindly to you. He just goes on, life goes on, day in day out, Rippling Walls rippling, moving ever forward.
It gets easier.
Kid never thought it would. But he finds himself forgetting – leaving the Cael Hammer at camp, smiling a little more, opening up a little more. He doesn’t think about them every day. They don’t remember him, so maybe it’s better if he moves on instead of dwelling on a past-future that don’t exist anymore.
With some encouragement, Kid asks out Nacie. No time like the present.
Kid sees him, clipboard in hand, white hair looking like a tornado’s blown through it but mustache nice and groomed, walking the Walls and barking orders in that gruff tone of his. Takes the Kid by surprise, at first, and he almost calls out to him. He’d never tried to reach out, to see if they remember him too. Maybe the whole Bastion glitched.
But Rucks glances at him and moves on, without a shred of recognition, and the Kid is relieved.
Kid sees her, one day, a passing glimpse while strolling down the Sundown Path. Same colorful garments, same blunt bangs hiding her eyes, same melodious voice. She’s carrying a basket in her arms and she glances up at him and then away, the same way most Ura do when they come across a Cael, with that polite apprehension, and somehow it makes the Kid’s heart ache.
Zia hadn’t wanted this, but she’s better off now. They all are. Kid lets her pass.
Kid sees him last, but barely, almost misses him in the hustle and bustle of the Melting Pot. It’s the colors that catch him, as always. He’s with a Cael woman, hair flaxen gold in the dying sun, and the Kid stares as she picks up something and talks to him. Zulf looks her with the brightest smile, an expression the Kid never once saw on him after the Calamity, and that one that pierces him like a Pincushion spike.
He’s happy again. What else matters?
For once, the Kid’s mind is quiet and free of doubt. He goes to sleep on the Rippling Walls with a smile on his face.
Wakes up to chaos.
Now here’s a kid whose whole world’s gone twisted, leaving him stranded on a rock in the sky...