Disclaimer: Final Fantasy XIII and its respected characters are the property of Square Enix, Inc. This is a work of fanfiction, and no profit has or will be made off of the work. By stating this disclaimer, I refuse to be hold liable of violating copyrights.
Warning(?): This work features the pairing of Snow x Light, and will have adult situations in the future. The game only takes place in Final Fantasy XIII and will not consider XIII-2 at all. The story was actually conceptualized before XIII-2, but since there are elements that coincidentally collided, I just borrowed the names. ^^
“Miracles are what we make ourselves, here and now.”
Sound rushed to envelop me as I gasped for breath, my hand gripped my chest tighter as I opened my eyes. Scanning the beautiful scenary of setting sun reflecting off of the giant crysal pillar, I shield my eyes with my hand with slight confusion. I stared at the magnificent structure in front of me, the memory of Fang and Vanille joining hands and falling away from us flooding my mind. I pushed down the tears I could feel coming to my eyes, narrowing them instead as I breathed the humid air of Gran Pulse.
Taking a couple of testing steps, I felt the comfortable weight of my gunblade hitting my leg gently. “…They did it. They saved the world,” I whispered to myself, my chest tightened at my words, their promises still rang in my ears of seeing things through to the end with their new family. They held true to their words, but at too great a consequence.
“No,” a voice rang behind me, “They gave us a new one.”
I turned to look at the blonde that had been haunting me for some time now. The disturbing thoughts were thankfully oppressed when our life-threatening Focus and fiends hounded us every corner we turn. My focus momentarily distracted, I almost couldn’t understand why both Snow and Sazh gasped as they stared off to the distance, their eyes widened in disbelief. I turned as Snow brushed past me, running towards the two figures walking toward us. I didn’t know it was possible, but I felt both elation of seeing my sister alive and happily twirling in Snow’s arms, and pain from the cruel reminder to never want someone that was not yours to begin with.
When I found myself being held tightly by the slender yet strong arms of Serah, I closed my eyes and made a silent promise to myself to always put her happiness first, and to put my own desire away.
“I swear to you, I will make her happy.”
I opened my eyes, and I looked up at the man whose smile was brighter than the Pulsian sun. “I believe you,” I said, and a soft chuckle was my silent promise to Serah and a goodbye to Snow. I smiled, and watched with slight amusement how Snow’s eyes widened in surprise as I murmured, “Congrats.”
“Form!” I called out, pointing my gunblade at another cadet, whose hand trembles as he lifts his weapon higher into correct position. The rows of first-year cadets continued to call out the numbers of their moves in unison, wielding and swinging their wooden swords repeatedly. Though one of the basic skills for the newest Academy cadets, I narrowed my eyes as I sensed the first-year cadets began to tire with their slower responses and lowered stances.
“Stop!” I called again, and the collective groan of relief nearly drowned out my next command. “Fall back!”
The boys and girls of varying age shuffled slowly until they lined up in perfect formation, their breaths quick and ragged. I glared at the trio standing to my far right as they tried to slouch more than others, and they begrudgingly straightened up. Their eyes focused to the front as I walked about them, examining each one and making mental notes on their capabilities and endurance for future reference. I gave a short and curt lecture on their overall performance of the day, before dismissing them from the field.
Watching my students walked off quicker than I thought they had the stamina for, I trailed behind them to my sack that rested against a bench. I sat to make a couple more notes on my tablet to ensure I got my thoughts all documented before I started the trek back to the half-completed grand building that was Academy. It had been three years since that fateful day, when Orphan’s deranged conspiracy was fulfilled and Fang and Vanille sacrificed themselves for the world. Once we were reunited with Serah and Dajh, we planned the most extravagant wedding that was, as I was told by numerous people, any girl’s dream wedding.
I didn’t remember most of it, except I was both mentally and physically exhausted afterwards and slept for two days before I left my temporary housing. I heard Hope and Sazh did the same.
Shortly after the wedding, Serah and Snow made the announcement that they were moving back to Cocoon. Back to Bodhum. Despite my protest, Serah easily silenced my objection with a simple question:
“Do you not want me to be happy, Claire?”
So I watched in silent despair as Serah simply packed up their little hut, got on the hovercraft, and left with Snow. Since, we’ve barely heard from the happily-married couple, the last time we spoke on the phone was almost 18 months ago. I’ve tried calling Serah a couple of times, but she was often busy with her school work or some other stuff, but she assured me that she was happy, and Cocoon was rebuilding itself quickly despite its fall, and she was excited to be a part of the growing planet.
Eventually, I got the hint that she didn’t want her life disturbed, and I stopped calling.
Thankfully, Hope had approached me shortly after Snow and Serah’s departure with his and Bartholomew’s idea on rebuilding and expanding the Academy into a larger entity, and they wanted some people to join to brainstorm how to make it more suitable for this world. Together with Sazh and other surviving leaders of Cocoon who decided to make Gran Pulse their home, a boarding school of both researchers and military had been formed. Orphaned children and youth from the war were our main recruits, and they could choose to join the Academy Guardian, kind of de facto army for Gran Pulse, or the Academy Scholars that focus on research. While the goal was to mold Academy into a regulatory education entity, for right now classes were mixed with different ages because of the influx of students.
Even after voicing my doubts at the meeting, I was given the role of Commander of the Academy Guardian, which I soon found to be the role of babysitter, instructor, and administrator all mixed together. Since both planets were rebuilding, some people decided to stay on Cocoon for familiarity of the place, while some decided to move to Gran Pulse, it being a new world with new opportunities, so those with experience in either education or military training were limited in the new world. The three of us ex-l’Cie were all given a role in the new Academy, with Hope being the Director and Sazh the Dean of Studies and Aviation. Who knew underneath the cocky, foolish look lay the mind of an experienced educator that understood curriculum and child development more than all of us combined?
I guess it was a blessing that I was kept busy almost daily, especially trying to keep up with the demands of Sazh on teaching and Hope on developing training programs and processes for the Academy Guardian. After a disastrous first year Academy Guardian selection that nearly got the cadets and guiding instructors killed had Hope, Sazh and I not been there, we had to rework the program completely to be more rigorous in our selection process to build a stronger military force that could withstand the fiends of Gran Pulse. I had so much to learn that was beyond my training – teaching, budgeting, process developing, etc., that any vacation I had were spent sleeping or doing chores that tend to get neglected. It was sort of embarrassing finding all the food in my fridge, what little there was, expired once after three months of trying to put together a curriculum to decide the best weapons for the cadets and mandatory courses they had to take after they completed initial training.
After making notes on the last cadet in my class, I put my tablet away and stood, stretching as I bathed in the warm, afternoon Pulsian sun. Glancing at my watch, I began to jog back to the Academy, hoping to catch a quick shower before the budget meeting two hours hence.
With one hand over my head and another holding my shoulder, I winced before sighing in contentment when I heard the popping sound of my sore tendons. Whoever thought putting me in a board room was a good idea must have been insane, I thought to myself idly, wondering when Hope and Bartholomew would realize that they made a grave mistake when they forced me to go to all these ridiculous meetings that were about things that I had very little patience for. Granted, Hope always had a way to divert my homicidal thoughts when they arose, changing the subject or moving the discussion along before I drew my weapon, but I doubt that things will be productive if this continues. Why Hope and Sazh found each meeting amusing I have no idea.
Rubbing my sore shoulder as I walked towards the training field, I did a quick mental checklist of what needed to be done in today’s training for the high-level class. Almost to the Guardian test, these cadets had the skills of a warrior, but lacked real battle experience. My application to take them out of Academia and into the field just got approved, but they need more training before they’re completely ready. I certainly did not feel like battling some random wyrm while trying to calm a bunch of scared little children, even when the youngest of the bunch was already seventeen.
Maker, I felt like an old woman.
My thought drifted as I surveyed the practice field laid out before me. My assistant had set up the obstacles and fiend-summoning gear while I sat in that stupid boardroom. I remember how Fang had laughed while Vanille chuckled when they heard me mumble the exact same thought under my breath once. The Pulsian women teased me relentlessly while I blushed and glared at them. I guess comparing myself to two women who technically lived over 200 years was a lost cause to begin with.
My fingers moved on their own, changing the app on my tablet as I looked at the latest seeker report. The seekers are a newly developed robot that Hope and his scientists created to take the place of human sentinels, so they could traverse Gran Pulse’s different terrains and labyrinths, and automatically send the information to Academy’s mainframe. The one I have, though, only fed the information to my personal account, since what I’m doing had little to do with Academy business.
There has got to be a way to free them, I’m sure of it.
My dark thoughts were disrupted by a succession of quick footsteps, and I looked up to see a young cadet running towards me. “Commander! Commander!”
I arched an eyebrow, my eyes first drift over her uniform to see she was a Scholar cadet, and swallowed my lecture on being calm and collected at all times. Hope had made me promise not to make his Scholar cadets into mindless drones, and I’ve succumbed to his incessant nagging evidently. “Yes?”
“There’s someone at the gate that asked for you specifically.”
I frowned slightly. So what if some stranger asked for me? Surely this cadet knew better than to bother me with something trivial.
“He said he’s from Cocoon, and to tell you he’s here for Serah.”
My eyes widened slightly, a sense of panic arose in my chest. My battle instinct forced me to take a couple of deep breaths, and to control myself from doing anything that I would later regret. Passing by the curious cadet whose face had a faint flush that was probably not from her short jog, I gave a quick order to my approaching assistant to begin the training without me as I walked towards the gate of Academy.
Approaching the gate quickly, I gasped softly to myself when I saw the tall blonde, standing rather nervously by the entrance and playing with the bandanna in his hand. His hair was wild and untamed, something that used to be amusing to us whenever he had to take off his head covering, he seemed like a lost giant as he glanced at the cadets that milled about near him. The few curious kids squeaked and saluted as I drew near, and scampered away rapidly, leaving us with privacy.
“Snow?” I asked, my heart racing as I sensed the absence of my little sister. “What happened? Where’s Serah?”
He turned to me, his smile sheepish, and for the first time in three years, I was allowed to study the man that somehow kept my heart with him as he waited by the altar to marry my sister. While he looked well, he looked pathetically uncomfortable in the last garment that I’d imagine him in – a suit and tie that made him more handsome than I could’ve dreamed. He waved his hand quickly, dismissing my concern as he often did, “Serah’s fine. She’s at home and… Well… It was the only way I knew I’d get your attention. They wouldn’t let me in without stating my business and I…”
I finally felt I was able to breathe, and I could sense the return of the throbbing ache in my body, not knowing I was that tense just moments ago. My eyes softened before narrowing in confusion as I looked at the sack on the ground next to the fidgeting man, recognizing it from our l’Cie days. It was clear that there was something that was bothering Snow, and the fact that Serah wasn’t here with him…
I sighed, the words of disappointment died on my lips as I studied his lowered eyes, the man sadly looked like a beaten puppy that had been kicked one too many times. “Follow me,” I found myself saying, and turned to lead him into the Academy, wondering where I could find a place for him to stay. Snow trailed behind me closely, his sack bumping against his leg the only sound made between us as we travelled through the busy hallways of the dormitory wing. After a couple of turns and a short elevator ride to the top, I stood before my dorm that was a comfortable 2-bedroom, 2-bath apartment, calling Hope and Sazh to see if either of them were available so Snow could stay in their place that mirrored mine in layout. I doubt Serah would be thrilled to hear of Snow staying with me – she was visibly upset when I stayed with them the short time after the fall of Cocoon before they moved, and I had prayed she didn’t sense my illicit desire for her husband, one that I had suppressed and put aside when I embraced her in my arms after the war. Reaching both voice mails, I sighed again as I put my thumb on the sensor to open the door, and guided Snow through programming his thumb print into my system.
“Once those two come back, you can stay with them,” I said as I walked into my comfortable and minimalistic apartment that featured mainly white and chrome colors. Once the door closed behind him, Snow stood in the middle of my living room, looking around curiously as he took in the sight. It seemed his interest was piqued by my choice of decoration, or lack thereof, in my space. A white sofa with matching chairs face a large television, where I often laid to watch the news, stood on a white, fluffy area rug, along with a chrome glass-top coffee table where my personal tablet and remote control was tossed carelessly. I walked over to pick up the coffee mug that I had forgotten earlier in the morning, and put it away in my moderate gourmet kitchen, which I seldom use. Why cook when there was a decent cafeteria just down the stairs?
Looking absolutely out of place and not sure what to do, Snow gingerly placed his dirty sack on the white tiled floor. “Don’t worry about me, Light, I…”
“There’s some coffee and snacks in the cupboards,” I interrupted his apologies, placing a temporary card on the small, square dining table, “if you want food, there’s a cafeteria downstairs. Ask any cadets if you’re lost. You can get anything you want to eat with this card, so don’t lose it.” Gesturing at the remote control, I continued, “At least call her to let her know you’re all right, so Serah won’t worry.”
He mumbled something under his breath, and nodded after I glared at him for a while. Satisfied, I pointed at the spare bedroom down the hall, always prepared in my pitiful wish that Serah and Snow would come and visit, finding the irony that only he did and would be the one christening the unused bedroom. “There’s the guest bedroom. Go take a shower – you look like shit.”
He chuckled at that remark, and whispered a thanks as I nodded. Once he disappeared into the guest bedroom, I hurried back to the practice field, texting both Hope and Sazh to ask them to fetch Snow once they got back.
It was late when I decided to head back to my apartment, my office had became my refuge to escape from the presence of a certain blonde for the entire day. I was more than happy to bury myself in work, completing numerous reports and scrutinizing over every detail until there was nothing else that could be changed. The blip on my phone notified me that my card had been used at the cafeteria twice, and that was all the reminder I needed of Snow being in my apartment for me to dive right back to work. Unfortunately, my inbox queue showed zero way too soon, but I didn’t bother moving as I sat at my expansive desk, trying my very best to hold an interest in some random school reports that didn’t concern me. My secretary had long left the office, and I didn’t bother to get up and turn on the light, letting myself stay immersed in the comfortable darkness with the mesmerizing city light of Academia illuminating the room from the outside. For hours I tried my best to think of things that didn’t concern Snow, from fiend reports to departmental budget fights to even inner-office romance between my secretary and Hope’s, but soon, my mind ran out of topics to dwell on until only one thing remained.
When did I fall for Snow Villiers, the man I used to despise for his dramatic personality, his foolhardy attitude towards all things, and his boisterous charm that he used on every walking female being, so hard that I have long given up asking for my heart back?
Right, because two meddling Pulsian women insisted that I look deep into my heart when I was lost in self-loathing inner rampage of being attracted to him and hating myself for being a slut who wanted to throw herself at the man in the group for the reason that I kept wanting to reach out and touch him throughout our journey.
No offense, Sazh.
It could’ve been the time when he fell, jumping after Hope and getting himself hurt instead as I watched from afar, unable to do anything. Or the time at Hope’s place that, after I bandaged him, he reached up to push my hair away from my eyes with a smile and a soft ‘thank you’ in dazed delirium, but managed to address me as opposed to Serah. Or it could simply be the time where he needed my reassurance that we would see Serah again, that all of our struggles had not been in vain, and after I made him promise to stay strong that he turned, witnessing my moment of weakness and reached out to wipe away my escaping tear without a word. Memories of him putting himself between me and menacing PSICOM machines or roaring fiends when I sustained injury, or letting me use him as a propeller as I charged towards our opponents when we fought, or catching me when I fell after losing my footing from a series of somersaults flooded behind my closed eyes, and I turned away from the light, burying my face in my hand as I tried to regain my composure. Somehow, somewhere, he became no longer the bastard fool that I loathed for taking advantage of my innocent sister, but a man who was unafraid of taking responsibility for himself and others. In brief moments within his presence, I felt I could let go of “Lightning”, and become Claire again.
And what did I get in return for listening to my heart and soul? Knowing my heart was lost with no hope of retrieving.
Well, at least I know where it went. I guess I should be happy about that.
Pushing myself off the chair at last, I grabbed my phone and finally headed back to my dorm. With a harsh reminder of the clock, I was fairly certain that I would return to my comfortable, yet lonely, abode, as Snow would surely be in one of the men’s apartments, probably drinking and chatting away. Maybe one of them will have an opportunity to draw out the problem that prompted Snow to come to Gran Pulse without his wife. That way, I would be sure to get an earful, without intruding on his privacy.
The beep of my apartment door console snapped me out of my reverie, and I walked into the dark apartment, flipping on the light switch on the wall next to the door instinctively. A hiss caused me momentary alarm, before I laid my eyes on a squinting Snow, who still sat on my sofa rigidly. He blinked a few times to allow his eyes to get accustomed to the sudden brightness, but, as if it were possible, he looked even worse than when he first showed up. Dressed in the same suit as before, he looked disheveled with reddened eyes, his shirt untucked and wrinkled, his tie thrown on the other side of the sofa, and his shoes pointed at two different directions on the tiled floor nearby.
“…Snow?” I asked, not noticing how soft my voice was, almost as if I was afraid of startling him.
“Hey,” he said, his tone slightly apologetic. “I’m sorry, I…”
I tilted my head as he began to apologize for not leaving the apartment, and for making a mess in my living room, which, aside from the tie, looked exactly as I’d left it. Finally, I stopped him with a shake of my head as his voice trailed off. “…Why do you need to always apologize to me? You haven’t done anything wrong.” I asked softly, voicing my concern and confusion. It was as if every other word out of his mouth began with the phrase ‘I’m sorry’, and I failed to see the reason behind these incessant apologies.
His eyes widened, disbelief and surprise clearly visible, before he exhaled loudly and sank into the couch, his head tossed back to rest on the back of the couch along with his extended arms. There seemed to be a large weight suddenly lifted off of him, and he looked exhausted. After studying him for a little longer, I turned and headed into the kitchen. Setting my phone casually down on the counter, I rummaged through the cabinet and fished out the ingredients I was looking for.
The apartment was comfortably quiet, the only sound was the soft hiss of the stove as I heated the milk, and grew when I added in chocolate and sugar and began mixing slowly. Within minutes, I set a cup of hot chocolate in front of the man, who had watched me with curiosity shortly before I turned off the heat, and sat down in the chair next to him. He picked up the drink carefully, and mimicked my motion of blowing on it to cool the liquid before sipping it gingerly so as not to burn himself. The warm, rich sweetness was exactly how I remembered my mom had made it, and it took me years of trial and error before I was able to recreate her comforting drink. She passed away too soon, before we had time to bond in the kitchen. It was one of the few little things I knew how to make, and I did often when stress nearly overwhelmed me over the years.
“…thanks, Light….” he said gently, holding the warm mug in his hands. I hummed in acknowledgement, but offered nothing as a silent invitation to him to talk if he needed. We sat and enjoyed the sweet drinks, and he finished his shortly, declined my offer of a second helping, and looked down at his empty mug as he held it in his hands. I tried my best not to stare at him, hiding my studying eyes behind the steam of my drink, but I couldn’t help but take in the stolen luxury of watching his angled jaw covered in newly-grown stubble, his wild mane that reminded me of a lion without the confines of his headbands, and his mesmering sapphire eyes that were hidden under his surprisingly long eyelashes. I felt my heart quicken as my eyes trailed to his thin, pink lips that pursed in restraint from his internal turmoil, and I quickly looked away before he could catch me.
How could he have such hold over me without even trying?
“I tried my best, Light, I really did…” his murmured words pulled my attention from my wandering mind back to the present, and I looked up at him inquisitively. When he didn’t continue, I said the only thing that came into my mind.
“I know you did,” because he always did, even when I was close to giving up. He fought the PSICOM, the Fal’cie, and the ridiculous task of defeating the Orphan and the Maker of Cocoon with only his determination and his promise to Serah. I had no doubt that, when he put his mind to it, he would really try until there was nothing else to try anymore. Though what he was referring to, I could only guess, and I hoped my guesses were incorrect.
He gave me a small, grateful smile, his eyes still focused on the drying chocolate stains inside the mug. “I don’t know what else I could do to make her happy, you know? And I thought that things would bedifferent… Now that Orphan is gone, and we lost Fang and Vanille in order to save Cocoon, and so many things have happened… I don’t know why it’s so difficult.” He paused, putting his mug down on the coffee table and stared at it while he went on.
“You know what I do in Cocoon, Light?” he continued after I shook my head, “I’m a real estate agent, believe it or not.” He chuckled dryly while I raised an eyebrow in surprise. Raising his voice in a mocking falsetto, he sneered, “This is a charming three bedroom, two bath with a view of Downtown Bodhum. And if you put in an offer now we will upgrade your kitchen appliance to stainless steel!”
Real estate agent? I tried my best to picture Snow Villiers taking random strangers to an empty house, and trying to upsell a slum project as a 4-star hotel. Before I knew it, I couldn’t stop myself from chuckling at the images I conjured in my mind, my body shaking as I looked away, trying in vain by pressing the back of my hand to my lips to try to cover my smile. While not exactly a laugh, it was as close to one as I’ve had for years, and I felt bad that it was at his expense.
“I… I’m sorry,” I said between chuckles, “I didn’t mean to…” Taking a deep breath, I said without conviction, “Well, it’s still a good job…”
“Some job,” Snow scoffed, waving his hand at me in dismissal, “It’s all right, you can laugh all you want. Godot couldn’t stop laughing for over 30 minutes when I told him.”
Getting myself back under control, I felt the lingering of a smile on my lips as I turned back to face him. “I take it you don’t like it?”
He shook his head almost vehemently. “Are you kidding? I hate it with a passion! The only good thing about the job is I get to travel all around Bodhum and other reconstructing cities, but that’s it!”
I frowned, biting my lip to keep from asking the obvious question. If you hate it, why don’t you get another job?
As if hearing my thoughts, Snow sighed heavily and shook his head. “It’s decent money, and safe and stable… Serah didn’t want me to work dangerous jobs such as monster hunting or Guardian Corp. She said she didn’t want to be afraid all the time like in the past of whether or not I’ll come home, so…”
“Mm,” I nodded in understanding. It sounded like something Serah would say, and I guess I’ve put her through a long time of worry and fear with my work in the Guardian Corp. But it’s disheartening to see the once bigger-than-life man now sadly defeated and exhausted from putting up with the stress of doing something he loathed.
“I just… I wanted to do something that mattered, you know? Like taking out monsters that harass remote towns! Or, or… Teach kids how to defend themselves and fight…” He paused, rubbing the back of his neck as he tried to say what was on his mind. “And… And I miss you. And the kid, and the old man, and… I don’t know…” He trailed off, looking lost once again, and eventually huffed out the air he had been holding and sank back into the sofa.
I watched him for a while before commenting, “Our work isn’t exactly adventurous,” I said, biting my lower lip in thought. “We have grading and meetings and stuff that are very… Administrative.”
“Beats lying just to get the deal done,” he countered, and my eyes narrowed slightly at the thought of him being untruthful. Could that even be possible?
He shook his head, “Not me, I just introduce the properties… There are these deal closers that do that to clients at the office, and I had to bite my tongue every time because I couldn’t say anything. That’s what makes this job so miserable,” he tightened his fist, his knuckles white in anger. “And when the boss offered me the promotion of becoming one of the deal closers, I just… I couldn’t take it anymore.”
It was clear to me that Snow was at his wits’ end, and really pained by what his life had become. Before I could catch myself, I asked without thinking, “Do you want to come and work for us?”
His head snapped up as he looked at me, and had I a weaker mind I would’ve blushed from the intensity of his gaze as he looked into my eyes. “Really?”
Having no way of taking back my words, I nodded, “There’s a hand-to-hand trainer that has requested a leave of absence just a couple days ago, and I’ve been hesitant to grant it because I couldn’t find a suitable substitute. However–”
“I’ll take it!” He interrupted with a cry, jumping from his current seat to move closer to my chair in excitement.
I looked at him with uncertainty. “It’s for beginning courses though, and you’ll be working with cadets for both Academy Guardians and Scholars, since it’s a required course. Are you–”
“Yes! I’ll take it!! Light, please, I’ll do anything!” Snow grabbed my hands tightly, desperation clear in his voice.
I looked down at my hand in his, mildly amused as I thought how small mine looked where his large hands enveloped mine. He followed my gaze as he looked down, and let go of my hand slowly, chuckling nervously as he scratched the back of his head. “Heh, sorry, Light, I didn’t…”
“It’s fine,” I said, getting up as I escaped to the kitchen with the two empty mugs in hand. Putting them in the sink, I turned on the water for nothing else better than to let the cool, almost freezing stream calm the heat on my face down. I only hoped he didn’t notice in his excitement. After I felt composed, I gestured at the remote control again.
“Call Serah and tell her you’ll be here a week, and I can get a room for the two of you.”
His excitement died almost instantly, and he shook his head. “It… It’s fine. We had a big fight before I came… And again earlier. She didn’t like it that I wanted to turn down the promotion.”
“Oh,” I said idly, not knowing how to respond. I should’ve yelled at him for not keeping his promise of making my little sister happy, but I also sensed that he wasn’t completely at fault here. I didn’t want to beat him down when it looked like he already did my job for me, and it broke my heart just to see him so sad and defeated.
Unable to stand the awkward silence, I turned toward the door quickly. “Still, call her and let her know. I’ll go get Hope and Sazh so we can get this worked out.” With that, I quickly left the room, leaving the slightly bewildered man behind. Leaning against the closed door, I bowed my head and closed my eyes, berating myself with the repeated mantra of, “Stupid, unthoughtful, selfish…” I should’ve forced him back home to Serah; she was only looking out for their family, and he should’ve been more considerate of her fear of losing him from a dangerous job. Instead, I took him away from her, even for just a week, and it was all because of my stupid desire to just be in his presence for a little bit longer. That must’ve been why I made the offer, nothing else.
Hating myself, I walked toward Hope’s room, promising myself in my mind to never let my guard down and my desire overpower me. He could only be my brother-in-law, and nothing more.
After struggling for so many years of stuck in a job – it couldn’t even be called a career – the prospect of finally doing something that I’ve wanted to brought a large grin to my face, and I couldn’t help but be grateful to Light for the suggestion. How she always knew to say the things I needed the most was beyond me.
My slightly-lifted mood plummeted again as I sighed, casting a sidelong glance at the remote control sitting on the table for her television/phone. The poor thing was nearly destroyed earlier when Serah hung up on me mid-argument, until I remembered that this was Light’s home and if I hurt what’s hers, the consequences would be dire. So I put it down gently and instead tore off my tie, which is now laying divided as two pieces of cloth strips on the sofa.
Which brought me to my current predicament. I found myself asking the question I’ve been having in my head for the last six months – How did things ever get this way?
Something was off since the Fall of Cocoon, and I couldn’t really place it, even now. When we woke up from the crystal chassis and after the elation of seeing Serah wore off, the truth that we lost Fang and Vanille hit us pretty hard. Sazh had to put up a good front for Dajh, the little munchkin just thought he fell asleep and woke up to a completely new world. I couldn’t really enjoy life as I once had, every pleasure that nature gave made me think about the two Pulsian women’s sacrifice. And I could see that Light was bothered, and she couldn’t process her emotions properly so she was caught between anger and depression. I became quite worried when she disappeared one day for hours without telling Serah where she had gone, and came back with a bleeding arm. Without our l’Cie powers, we no longer have the full magical power we used to have. It took Hope several hours before finally curing her completely, and I couldn’t believe afterwards that I got away with yelling at her for over an hour and Light didn’t deck me. When I sat down across from her, panting as I watched Hope start curing her again, exhausted from my rant on how dangerous it was for her to challenge an adanmantoise alone and how she needed to figure out why she was doing all these suicidal things in her mind, she bowed her head and whispered a single phrase that stopped me eventually.
What troubled me then and now fully disturbs me was that Serah insisted on going through with the wedding. She said that it was something that would take our minds off of the negatives, and looked at the positives in life. And I simply couldn’t watch any disappointment on her delicate little face. So I agreed, and insisted that Light help out, much to her chagrin. Light was all smiles and patient in front of Serah, but the minute my bride-to-be walked out of the room she took her frustration out on me, glaring and hissing at me for every choice I asked her about. It was quite amusing to watch her enjoy the chocolate cake so immensely, her eyes closing as she savored the dense chocolate ganache, sucking on her fork a little way too long. But when I asked her about any fetish for chocolate or forks, she pretended she didn’t care for any particular flavor, and kick me under the table, hard, that I couldn’t help but laughed out loud until Serah came back into the room and was puzzled and slightly annoyed when I wouldn’t tell her.
We went with strawberry, by the way.
Light had a cute pout when Serah made her choice, but I was pretty sure that if I were to mention it Light would hit me so hard I’d have a black eye for months.
After Serah and I got married, Sazh, Dajh, Light and us eventually travelled to the sandy beach of New Bodhum, where Hope had run off with his dad to do something important, which later was revealed to be the planning of Academia. There weren’t enough huts built on the land yet, and Light would have to wait about three weeks before she could obtain one, her being single and priorities were given to those with family or kids, so I insisted Light stay with us. That was the first disagreement that Serah and I had. I admit, I shouldn’t have asked Light before talking to Serah, but I thought she would’ve loved the idea, especially since we got ourselves a 2-bedroom hut. Granted, it was much smaller than what Serah was used to back in Bodhum, but it was temporary housing until proper housing could be built.
Light caught the tail-end of our fight, and scolded me for not being considerate to Serah. She moved in with Sazh that very night.
When Serah came out with the idea of going back to Cocoon, I was against it at first. I felt we could stay in New Bodhum, build a life and perhaps help others settle into their new cities as well. There was a great need for people with fighting skills against Pulsian fiends. I felt I could make a difference in Gran Pulse, killing fiends and teaching the kids or anybody who wanted to learn how to, as well. It’d be a simple life with everyone around – N.O.R.A. gang, Sazh, Dajh, Hope….
I shook my head, trying to get away from the thoughts of Light. I would be lying if I said I didn’t find Lightning to be an attractive woman. She has always been beautiful and striking, yet her cold demeanor, toughness and endurance made her unapproachable for any weaker man. Yet after the fall of Cocoon, it seemed as if her shell had been shattered, even if just slightly. While still quiet and aloof, she seemed more comfortable around the ex-l’Cies, and she actually started smiling more, by Lightning standards. She no longer had the weight of the world on her shoulders, literally, and she seemed visibly relaxed. We all changed in our own way after the Fall of Cocoon and lost of our friends, and I think for Light, she no longer push people away and knew she could count on any one of us. I especially enjoyed the fond memory of Sazh taking Dajh and Light out to the beach of New Bodhum one night, and built a little campfire as he told the story of Fang and Vanille and our adventure to the kid. The little munchkin found a perfect spot in Lightning’s lap, and by the time I went out to look for them since they hadn’t come back to their hut late into the night, Sazh had sprawled on the ground by the fire and Dajh snuggled to Light as they were both fast asleep. The beautiful warmth and smile on Light’s face was something I could never forget.
It was also after that when I stopped calling her Sis, or even Lightning, for that matter. I knew I didn’t have the right or permission to call her Claire, so I settled with Light. She never said anything, so I got away with it. Of course, this was one of the very few battles I won between Serah and I.
I really didn’t want to blame Serah for the troubles we’ve had for the past six months. To be honest, I felt both of us share the blame for our, I hate to say it, failing marriage. We never had time to talk about our lives together, since the war began almost immediately after I proposed to Serah. And the war changed many people, and us ex-l’Cies were effected most significantly, for obvious reasons. But for Serah and Dajh, it was a blessing in disguise that they slept, frozen in time and oblivious to the changes in the world. For the year and a half that we were struggling to survive on both Cocoon and Gran Pulse had no effect on the two crystalized ex-l’Cies.
I still loved Serah, at least I thought so, but… the spark was gone. The differences between us were magnified immensely when I grew up too fast and she not at all. The life-and-death experiences coupled with learning the truth about the world and finding ourselves fighting against manipulating hands of a deranged “God” was sure to make anyone mature and change their points of view forever. I just don’t think Serah understands. She couldn’t understand why I was so distressed over Fang and Vanille, or why I wanted to be something more than just a salaryman, someone that mattered and contributed to the growing worlds. Hope had asked me to join the Academy when they were short on staff, and I was more than ready to say ‘yes’, the prospect of building something important to the new society of Gran Pulse was so exciting that I was already planning how I would teach the kids under my tutelage. But when I went home and spoke for probably an hour of my excitement, Serah looked at me with a pout and a frown, and told me that she had already planned on going back to Cocoon once the transport between the two worlds was completed.
After harsh words were exchanged, I eventually gave in when Serah said I was being selfish, and reminded me of my promise to always be good to her and let her crystalized tear be the last tear she’d shed. It was a low-blow, and she knew it, but she didn’t seem to care.
Life in Cocoon was painful, at least for me. Thankfully the Farron house still stood even after all the chaos, so that part was easy. However, there were many changes Serah wanted to make, and that meant money became an issue. If I could work as a monster hunter, I could make the money we’d need to support her ideal lifestyle much easier. However, Serah didn’t like the fact that I would be away from home for a prolonged period of time, and I could understand how she feared the inherent danger of the job. But her wishlist cost a lot of money, especially when there weren’t a lot of people remaining in Cocoon anymore, most leaving for the new world and the promise it had. It was as if the minute anything crossed the border of the planets, its price hiked three times just for fun.
What really stressed me out the most was the fact that we seldom had the opportunity to talk to our friends. We rarely called to talk to anyone, Serah preferred to spend most of the time at home and in bed. While I definitely enjoyed it at first, I became increasingly annoyed. Whenever I tried to call Hope or Sazh I would get the pout and tearful treatment, and if Light would call to check up on us Serah would never let me talk to her, disconnecting always too soon. That I found disturbing. Shouldn’t sisters sit and chat for hours on end until the husband pulls the phone line?
I sighed as I raked my hand through my messy hair, my eyes casting a sideways glance at the remote control again. My mind couldn’t help but drift back to the fight that made me do the one thing that I’d never thought I would – flee from my own home. When I got home from work late this afternoon, I was angry. Furious. Ready to take off the head of any fiend that came across me. In fact, I was almost sure I had. I needed to sit down and talk to Serah – ask her to forgive me for not keeping this job that was slowly driving me insane. And tell her that I’ve talked to Korg’s monster hunting team, one of the most prominent teams in Cocoon, that had asked me to join them many times in the past several years, and that I finally agreed when he called again this afternoon after I left the office. But when I opened the door, it took me nearly two hours before I was able to get a word in, since I had to first admire the new dresses and shoes and household items that Serah had bought in the morning, then entertain her on the idea of changing the kitchen cabinets. When I finally was able to tell her my decision, trying my best to convince her that this would be the best for both of us, that maybe I could work more for this and next year and then we could be more set and comfortable and I’d work less after that, she wouldn’t hear it. She kept on saying that I never listen to her, and that I should know she’d worry if I took a dangerous job, and asked why I always make decisions without talking to her first.
I begged Serah to understand how miserable I was at the job, and she insinuated that I just wanted to be a ‘hero’ and didn’t care about her whatsoever. I guess I just had enough then – there was no reasoning with her no matter how hard I tried – so I grabbed the sack I had lying in the deep end of our closet that always had some changes of clothes, some hi-potions, a week’s worth of rations and a short dagger. By the time I got here and was interrogated by one of the Academy cadets, I said the only name that came to mind.
Now that I’ve thought about it… This was the first time in three years that I’ve seen Light in person.
My fingers graced the delicate remote, the fight tonight came into my mind, and I sighed heavily. When Serah heard that I was in the Academy, she made the connection way too quickly when she recognized the apartment’s style being Light’s. She screamed at me for being in another woman’s apartment and expecting her to understand, even when I tried to remind her that Light was her sister. Our conversation hadn’t even reached the topic I really called about, to stay here in Gran Pulse for a week to work as a substitute hand-to-hand instructor, when the argument got sidetracked into how I was always flirting with any woman that came across my vision. I probably said the one thing I really shouldn’t have: “I travelled with Light for 24-hours a day for over a year and a half and it wasn’t a problem, why’s it a problem now? You’re the one that’s seeing things!” That was when Serah really lost it and cut off the line.
In the end, I decided to text Serah using Light’s phone, not really caring how this would send Serah into another jealous rage. I trusted her completely when she hung around Maqui, the only N.O.R.A. member that remained on Cocoon with us, more than necessary. Why couldn’t she trust me to be around with Light when nothing happened during our journey when she was presumably dead?
Finished with my task, I lay down on the couch, my body sore thanks to the stress from the whole day, and closed my eyes. I pulled the throw that draped over the couch onto myself, and sighed heavily. There was something comfortable in this sparsely-decorated apartment, a calm, patient aura that mirrored its owner, and I found myself relaxing all-too-quickly. Before I drifted off to the blissful darkness, I silently prayed to the non-existing Maker out of habit, hoping that Light would take pity on me and let me stay just a little bit longer, so I could bask in this comfortable aura that a home should have a little bit longer. Maker knows I need it now.
Author’s Note: So this will be the first hetero series fanfiction that I will be writing, and I’m loving every second of it. It helps that Light is such a lovable character as well. >w< I am deeply in love with this pairing, and I have to warn you, I really, really don’t like Serah… See, with Rinoa from FF8 my distaste of her started after I read many fics that protrayed her with logical disdain, but with Serah I detested her the minute she showed up in the game. It was THAT bad. So you’ve been warned, lol.
As usualy, all constructive criticism and comments are loved and welcomed and worshipped. I just got back to writing after a long hiatus, and I’m loving every minute of it. Thank you all for reading and going on this joruney with me, and I will try my best to release the next chapter soon. Until next time!