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.

Comments are loved and welcomed and worshipped! ^^

“It’s easy to lose sight of things in a world as wide as this one, but if you keep going you are sure to find what you are looking for sooner or later.”


Second Movement
April 2013


Feeling the sun on my skin, and the cooling wind caressing my body, I watched with mild amusement as Snow demonstrated another round of somersaults to his wide-eyed students, who clapped and cheered as the man stood up proudly. The fiend he was battling fell to the ground with a loud thud, stirring up dust that covered the young children who didn’t mind one bit, and I shook my head mentally as he encouraged the boys and girls that they could, one day, be as powerful as him if they continued their practice. Whether he knew I was watching and didn’t care for the fact that this group of students were simply too young for him to use the fiend generator was beyond me.

As he dismissed the class, the group of children waved good-bye to him, and talked amongst themselves as they brushed past me, their conversation mainly involved their admiration for their new instructor for the past month. A few students saluted me as they passed the bench I sat on, and I returned the acknowledgement with a nod. Some kids hung around Snow as he made notes on his tablet, and whatever he said to them they seemed to enjoy it, since the huddle of children suddenly shrieked with laughter. I couldn’t help but smile at the sight; the man’s charm was irresistible by default, and he wasn’t afraid to use it to his advantage.

Shooing the last batch of kids to their next class, he grinned as he traded banter with another kid before he turned to me, and gave me a quick but bright-as-sun smile and a wink. I arched an eyebrow at him with a silent threat to make him finish his work or else, and he chuckled to himself as he returned to his tablet once again.

I studied the man in front of me, enjoying what I would consider the perfect break for me. Selphie, my secretary, kept on insisting that I needed one every day, and I couldn’t think of anything but doing what I did now. The perfect weather with the warmth of the sun without scorching heat, and the chance to watch the man I love, but could never have, openly without reserve.

I’m content with what I can get.

He looked much better than when he first showed up at the Academy. His skin tanned once again from his daily teaching under the sun, which suited him much better than the paler color a month ago. His cerulean eyes were no longer beaten down, he exuded confidence as he worked with his students, while fiery passion burned when he faced a challenge posed by his position as guest instructor. The week-long arrangement extended to what now would’ve been two months, and he settled into his role quite comfortably at a rapid pace. The brute had no qualm fighting for his department in any meetings he attended, and inserted himself into different activities so long as it benefited his students. It was no wonder that he quickly became one of the most popular instructors in the Academy.

Finishing his notes, he strode over to me and plumped himself down on the bench next to me. He picked up the water bottle he had left on the bench, and gulped down several mouthfuls before he turned to look at me.

“So, how did I do, Commander?” he asked, his tone light and teasing, and I couldn’t help but smile back ever so slightly. How could anyone resist his natural charm?

It was easy for me to say what came into my mind without any worry of misconception. For the past ten years since I joined the Guardian Corp, every day was like walking on the edge of a very fragile cliff. Even one slip could’ve landed me somewhere dark and destructive. It was much easier for me to simply keep my thoughts to myself and turn into a fighting machine; the Corps preferred it that way. As the ‘Commander’ of Academy Guardians, I was placed on a pedestal that I wasn’t ready for, and I tried my best to meet all expectations the job came with. It wasn’t easy, but if it would help Gran Pulse move into a positive way, I didn’t mind the stress… too much, I think.

I tilted my head and studied Snow, “…Your form has improved.”

His eyes brightened as his smile widened, “You noticed?! Awesome!” He pumped his fist in the air in victory, and he jumped up, bouncing on the balls of his feet as he punched the air in a fighting stance. “I learned a lot from Zell! I always thought fighting was the same regardless, but damn you Guardian Corp really know something!”

Shaking my head with a scoff, I remembered one of the first conversations, though more like verbal fighting, between us after we embarked on the journey to save Serah. I remembered him denigrating Guardian Corps and PSICOM, claiming that the reason he never joined was because military types were all talk and no action, and they fought like, as the word he used, pussies. He felt the training was useless and his rogue-style, learned-in-the-streets was more functional and practical, and those military types could just “kiss his ass”. I believe I punched him in the guts, doubling him over in pain as we continued on, Fang finding the entire situation hilarious while Vanille and Hope checked on him. Needless to say, he never made the mistake of badmouthing the military ever again.

Snow proceeded to show me several moves that Zell had corrected for him, and spoke in excitement of the differences he noticed when he fought in his last mission. Zell Dincht was one of the Guardian Corp captains from another sector that survived the Fall, and Hope recruited him two years ago to serve as the hand-to-hand instructor. The tattooed man refused at first, the bitterness of the ex-l’Cie killing and maiming both PSICOM and Guardian Corp still fresh in his mind, but eventually he was convinced after the release of Cocoon Falcie’s intention and conspiracies that Cid had planned before he was completely taken over by the demi-God. Even those of us who were involved in bringing down Orphan and Barthandelus were shocked at some of the information that the man had collected, and how long the Falcies had planned for the war. According to the report released, there were many Ragnoraks scattered and sealed away on both Pulse and Cocoon, waiting for whichever deity that placed them there to wake them. For centuries, there were incidents of l’Cies and potential Ragnoraks who were set on the journey to destroy Falcies, but they were either killed or their time ran out before they completed their Focus. We just happened to be the only group of l’Cies that were successful in accompanying the Ragnorak to Orphan, it seemed.

Snow’s loud and excited babbling drew me out of my thoughts, and I nodded absent-mindedly to let him know that I was still listening. It seemed to satisfy him as he went on about some fighting strategies that he and Zell had been discussing lately. Unbuckling my gunblade as I watched Snow doing another set of punches that were supposedly a combination between formal and field training, I felt a predatory smirk widen my lips as I tightened my fists. Noticing an opening of weakness, I dashed forward from my seat, and swung my right foot in a low arc, aiming for his stomach. He noticed a second too late, and flew backwards with a yelp, steadying himself quickly and grimacing. “Hey! What the hell, Light?!”

“Let’s see how good you’ve become, Hero,” I challenged, my fighting stance ready.

He widened his eyes as he recognized the proper hand-to-hand battle stance, and he grinned as he rubbed the back of his head, the annoying bandanna no longer a fixture on him, his wild hair made him even more attractive and mature. “Well, well. Standard training for all Corp members, huh?” he asked, not expecting an answer. His eyes narrow at me, watching my every move so he wouldn’t be caught by surprise again, and his smile turned ferocious as well. “All right, whoever wins the most out of three points gets to order the other one around.”

I retorted, “Prepare to lose, then,” before I charged him again. Stopping shortly before him, I jumped to his eye-level as I strike, aiming for his cheek, but he quickly dodged. Taking my wrist that I was unable to retract from the momentum, his other hand clenched my shoulder, and within seconds the world toppled over for me as he threw me over his shoulder and slammed me onto the grassy ground, knocking the wind out of me. I guess I did underestimate him a little. The man was a skilled fighter and sentinel to begin with, but his lack of training prevented him from being useful in complex fighting situations with other experienced martial artists. With proper training from Zell, his impressive improvements caught me off guard and was a pleasant surprise.

He grinned down at me victoriously, “Who knows, you just might lose this battle, Commander.” I found myself smiling back, my legs curled under him, and before he could block, both soles of my feet connected with his toned abdomen, sending him backwards yet again as I flipped away, jumping to my feet. Before he could straighten himself from what obviously was a painful attack, I used his crouching stance to my advantage and sent him to the ground on his belly by driving my elbow into the small of his back. He ‘oofed’ out loud as I jumped back from him, resuming a ready stance as I watched him carefully.

“One-one,” I said, flexing my fists, my fingers itched with the need of my trusted weapon, but I was determined to beat the man at his game. Snow got up from the ground slowly, almost casually, as he rubbed his back with one hand and his abdomen another.

“Ouch. You don’t hold back, do ya?” he complained lightly, but the light in his eyes told me he was definitely excited with the spar. He readied himself into his own fighting stance, and charged me after looking me over for weaknesses. I blocked his string of punches with both of my arms shielded in front of my head, wincing at his strength, and before he could ready himself for another round of assault, I shook out my arms and began attacking him. He dodged my kicks quickly and blocked my fists with ease, and it was nice to see his sentinel skills hadn’t softened from years of being a real-estate agent. Once I stopped my attacks, he immediately retaliated, and we sparred in a dance around the field, not noticing several students walking to and from class had stopped to watch with amazement.

Losing track of how long our spar continued, I knew I had drawn too close the minute he put me into a choke hold, his other arm at my waist as he used his sheer strength to send me crashing to the ground again. One massive leg pressing both of mine down, he grinned down at me a little too smugly as he declared, “Two! I win!” before releasing me and standing up.

I coughed from the attack, mildly missing the feel of his heat and weight on top of me, before I took his offered hand and stood, brushing grass and dirt off of my clothes. That was when I heard the applause from gathered cadets, and he bowed theatrically with my hand still in his. Pulling away quickly, I resisted the urge to roll my eyes as he apologized to Zell for taking the field time from his class, and walked towards the bench where our tablets and my Lion Heart rested. He joined me shortly as Zell began to set up his class, the shorter ex-soldier gave me a nod as his more advanced cadets began warming up, and started gathering his stuff into his sack.

“So, what’s this I heard about you giving three idiot cadets who missed their last advancement exam a make-up?” he asked, and I couldn’t help but groan inwardly. I cast a glance at the instructor barking orders at his cadets for his big mouth, and nodded to Snow.

“There’s a new entrance found in Mah’habara Tunnels,” I said, picking up my tablet and turning on the app of my seekers. “It seemed ancient enough so I’d like to see if there’s some records about freeing Ragnoraks.”

“Hmm,” he hummed, studying the map and findings on my tablet’s screen. I shared with him my determination of finding a way to free Fang and Vnille when he looked over my shoulder at my tablet screen once, and he volunteered himself in the search immediately. While I didn’t need any help, I didn’t mind the chance of spending some time with him, since as a Commander and an instructor we have little interaction outside of staff meetings. “Can I come with?”

I looked up at him in confusion, and he grinned, “Well, you could go and evaluate those forgetful idiots, and I can go take a look at the cavern in question. That’ll save time and, if there’s any trouble, you and I can take the fiends and give those boys something to learn about. ‘Sides,” he shrugged, “I’ve never seen an advancement exam before.”

I nodded, his reasoning was practical but cocky, just like his personality. I just have to make sure he brings back everything that looked remotely suspicious – he always boasted about his sheer strength, didn’t he? He could carry some extra stuff.

By the time I finished strapping my gunblade to my back, I almost got knocked off my feet because he draped an arm around my shoulders while reaching around me to grab his tablet.

“Come on,” he smirked, pulling me toward the direction of the campus. “As a loser, you get to make me that chocolate coffee thing with milk foam that you made last time.”

“…It’s called mocha cappuccino, you idiot.”


“…Five times three is fifteen, five times four is twenty…” I sat at the dinner table along with Dajh and Light, waiting idly for Sazh to finish cooking dinner and Hope to arrive back from his meeting with the new government. Neo-Sanctum, they called themselves. Why they still want to associate themselves with Sanctum was beyond me, but Hope said they’re cool so I’m just going to have to trust the kid. Light sat next to Dajh, watching the kid counting his fingers and reciting the multiplication table for a math problem he was working on for homework. The kid is adorable, for sure.

“Done!” cried Dajh, and he proudly pushed his work towards Light, who exhibited patience that I never thought possible. She studied the question with an equal amount of seriousness as she would a field report, but her eyes were warm and gentle. Pushing the kid’s tablet back to him, she asked softly, “Are you sure? Do you want to look at it again?”

“Yeah….?” Dajh whined, though he started to doubt himself as he stared at the equation once again, falling silent as he tried to figure out just what might have been wrong that his ‘Auntie Lightning’ found that he didn’t.

Light waited for a good five minutes to allow Dajh the time he needed to try to figure out the problem himself, before she gently prodded, “What was the order of operations again?” she asked, leading the boy with a soft, “Please….”

“…Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally!” Dajh chirped happily, the kid pumping his chest proudly.

Light nodded with a small, but visible smile, and she nodded at his tablet once more. “All right, look at your problem again.”

The kid followed her suggestion, and within minutes he began scribbling on the tablet with his stylus. “Thirteen! The answer was thirteen!”

“Good work,” with a gentle pat on his head, I could see how the little boy was absolutely enamored with the Commander that so many had feared. I wondered as I watched Light encourage Dajh to try on a more difficult question what it would feel like if I had had a mother like her. Maybe I wouldn’t have been such a great fighter, but maybe I wouldn’t have been lonely all the time. Despite what I had hoped, being with Serah for the past three years at Cocoon didn’t erase that feeling of loneliness inside me. I knew I always wanted a large family, with my friends and family and kids all around me. I knew most of us NORA members felt the same way; I guess us orphans all share the same dreams. I wanted to have everyone live close to me, so we can hang out and drink beer or spar or do something fun together every weekend, instead of seeing them maybe once or twice a year, if that. Before I came to Gran Pulse, I saw Gadot, Yuj and Lebreau maybe less than half a dozen times in three years, and never saw Sazh, Hope and Light in person. It was disheartening and disappointing, despite Serah’s best attempts in decorating holidays.

My thoughts inevitably wandered to kids. Personally, I’d like to see two or three little Villiers running around, though it’d definitely be up to Serah, since she would have to carry the children and I heard that’s a difficult task. My mood darkened when I remembered finding Serah’s birth control pills. Not that she didn’t have the right to choose when she would want to get pregnant, but I wouldn’t have been so distressed if she would’ve just talked to me. Instead, i had to find out when I was cleaning our bathroom one day and found her prescription. Concerned about my wife’s health, I called the doctor listed on the label. Imagine my surprise when I was told what those pills were about. But when I confronted Serah, she became extremely upset, saying that I wasn’t thinking about her and her desire of just being the two of us, and asked if I only wanted to marry her so I could have kids.

I was livid, of course, but when she wouldn’t talk to me and whenever she looked at me she had that accusing look in her eyes, I gave in and apologized for something that I never did or even thought of. A man eventually gets used to apologizing for things he didn’t do, I guess, though it was a really taxing thing to do continuously.

I turned my eyes on Light again, who quietly spoke to Dajh, pointing out mistakes and giving him pointers on how to improve, and I felt myself sigh mentally. Without the stress of the Focus looming over us, the past two months spent close to my ex-l’Cie friends gave me the chance to learn about them more, especially Light. While whenever we were together, it was always in the accompaniment of other people, I felt I learned something about the soldier girl every time. She had a motherly side that I never knew about, even though she cared for Hope and may have contributed to his growth into an important man today. I always thought she would be cold-hearted and rather strangle a crying child than to console him, but then again, my understanding of Light beyond her as a traveling and fighting companion was all secondhand information from my wife in the past, so this new revelation was surprising and… attractive.

Slapping myself on the head once again, I steered myself away from the thoughts of Light being anything more than Serah’s sister, even though I couldn’t even call her my ‘sister-in-law’ anymore in my mind. Watching her like this, dressed casually in a comfortable T-shirt one size too big that had “The Academy” text across her chest, her pink sports bra strap could be seen beneath, I couldn’t help but admire her natural beauty as her hair draped over her left shoulder. She sat properly with her back straight, her fitted jeans covered those fine, toned legs that went on forever. Sazh and I used to admire Light from behind when she wasn’t looking, that was, until Fang noticed it and beat us senseless. I wondered if Hope and Vanille knew why we had black eyes out of nowhere when they cured the two of us, heh.

I knew I was on a slippery slope with my attraction towards Light, especially with the way Serah has been behaving lately; but just being here with Light has deepened my feelings for her way beyond my wildest imagination. Our spar this afternoon was so easy and carefree. I thoroughly enjoyed not having to hold back or worry that any bad move I made I might upset her. In fact, that is the feeling I always get when I’m around Light, that I am able to talk to a woman and breathe around her without worry. When had talking to Light become so much easier? She used to hate my guts and would beat me senseless for talking like an idiot. But I also knew that if I dared to say or act anything remotely against Serah that Light would have my head… literally. Hell, she’ll probably chop off my head and my dick and serve them cold on a platter to Serah to appease her. The bruises that were still sore on my stomach and my back were solid proof telling me to keep everything in my mind only.

I would rather see Light smile at me than anything else, anyway.


After putting the last plate Light handed me into the cupboard, the woman ordered me out of the kitchen with a look and told me to go join Hope and Sazh in the living room. Dajh was sent to take a shower and get ready for bed, and the kid seemed strangely excited about the prospect. When I prodded the boy, he just gave me a shy smile and ran off to the bathroom. I guess I didn’t know kids as well as I thought I did.

Hope was finishing his conversation on the phone by the time I sat down on the couch, and Sazh unmuted the TV where the blitzball game was going on. Even just four years after the Fall of Cocoon, life began to resemble something similar to before the Fall, with entertainment such as blitzball and variety game shows on television. People seemed desperate to return to a normal life, and change Gran Pulse from its wildland atmosphere to one of civilization. Hope spoke to Sazh quickly about some meeting that required both of their and Light’s attendance a couple days from now, and Sazh whined loudly about being in suits again. I laughed, completely sympathetic to the old man’s predicament.

A wave of shadow moved in my peripheral vision, and Light emerged from the kitchen with a tray balancing two beers, juice, coffee, and pretzels. She set the tray down and handed Hope his juice, while Sazh and I both grabbed the cold beers gratefully. It was almost hilarious and completely ironic to see that our boss, one of the key players in Neo-Sanctum, Director of the largest (and only) education/military base, The Academy, was not old enough to drink and must always be served with soda or juice. He glared viciously at me when I grinned at him, the joke not lost to the young man, as he thanked Light before taking the glass. Light returned with a small smile, and took a seat between the silver-haired boy and me, sipping the coffee and watching us with a relaxed expression. She looked absolutely breathtaking.

“So what’s this meeting about?” I asked, curious, the blitzball was getting boring since one side clearly dominated the other.

“Neo-Sanctum had some thoughts about how they’d like to contract with the Academy Guardians,” Hope replied, sipping his juice. He had changed into his casual clothes of tank top and shorts before coming over, and he finally looked seventeen instead of the serious, mature boss that he tried hard to be. I almost wondered why Light didn’t give the kid a straw, because that would simply be too adorable.

“Then why do I have to go?!” Sazh whined, and I laughed at the man’s misery. Light also found some amusement as well, and I spied her lips curled upward slightly from behind my beer bottle. It had become almost an obsession to me, stealing glances at the beautiful yet unobtainable woman as much as I could, and savor each smile, each twinkle in her eyes, and each beautiful moment into my mind and seal them away.

Hope rolled his eyes at Sazh, and sighed exasperatedly. “You wanted more funding for more professors, didn’t you? It’s called bargaining, old man.”

“Great, glad to see our youth today is so thoroughly corrupted by bureaucracies,” Sazh grunted, and I couldn’t help but burst out laughing.

Light chuckled, her eyes sparkled in joy as she watched Hope and Sazh exchanged banter that was mostly age-related, where one liked to point out he’s too young to even drink or gamble or smoke and the other suggesting the man to start planning for retirement parties. The laughter and shouting paused when Dajh emerged from the hallway, steam followed the boy, now dressed in pajamas and holding his tablet in his hands.

“Auntie Lightning?” Dajh asked, and Light rose from her seat between Hope and me, placing her coffee on the table.

“Try to keep it down a notch,” she warned us, and the bantering men nodded while I followed in confusion. She approached Dajh, and took the tablet away from him with one hand and the little boy’s hand in another. The duo soon disappeared down the hallway, and I could hear the door closing gently behind them.

“What’s that about?” I asked curiously.

Sazh took a swig of his beer, finishing the bottle and put the empty container on the table. “Whenever Lightning comes over for dinner, she’d put Dajh to bed and read him some bedtime stories,” the old man paused and smiled sadly, his hand stroking his wedding ring absentmindedly. “She’s the closest he has to a mom right now, and he needed it, ya know?”

I was stunned by the information, and I could feel my heart melt from the thought of Light holding little Dajh in her arms and reading softly to him. It was an overwhelming transformation for the soldier that was more than happy to kick my ass using my choice of weapons during the day, to this warm and loving woman that assumed the role of a surrogate mother for the kid that lost his when he was young and never dared to breath a word, afraid to hurt his already-heartbroken father at such a young age. How could a woman be so amazing at all the roles she had to play in a day?

“So,” Hope interrupted my daydreaming by placing his empty glass on the table with a thud, and reached over to turn off the television. “What’s up with you and Serah?”

My heart that was previously filled with warmth from learning about Light’s soft side plummeted with the question, and I sighed heavily, my head dipped in defeat. Sazh popped open another beer and handed it to me wordlessly, which I’m grateful for. I gulped down probably a third of the beer, before I shrugged and sank deeper into my seat.

“Well, for one thing,” I started after organizing my thoughts, “She’s still not talking to me.”

Sazh frowned, “It’s been two months, man! What is wrong with you two?! This is not healthy for a relationship, ya know?!”

“Tell me about it,” I said, sighing heavily. “I kept trying to call her, but…” Reaching into my pocket to fish out my phone, I dialed her number quickly, and turned on the speaker phone. The phone rang several times, before I was kicked into voice mail, again.

‘Hi, this is Serah. I’m not here right now, so please leave a message!’ my wife’s chirpy voice came through the line clearly, but what she added to her message at the end was what really frustrated me as of late. ‘And if this is Snow, unless you’re ready to come home and take that promotion… don’t bother leaving a message.’

The phone beeped, but I just set it on the table while the other two men gaped, each with an interesting expression on his face. Finally, the phone beeped again when the time limit of the voice mail expired, and I reached over to disconnect the call. The silence that befell the room was deafening, and I stared at the innocent-looking phone that lay on the table, feeling tired and exhausted about the situation. For the past two months, I called Serah first every day, then every other day, until I heard this new version of her voice mail. Then I stopped calling.

Light asked me a couple of times about working things out with Serah, and I begged her to not get involved. She agreed, reluctantly.

Sazh shook his head after a while, he too was staring at my cell phone as if a fiend had just crawled out of it and bit him in the ass. I had told both Hope and Sazh about the argument and the difficulties that Serah and I had a couple days after I arrived, but not as detailed as I did when I told Light. The two men had become my little support group ever since, along with Gadot and Lebreau, now happily engaged, and Yuj. Maqui… Well, I haven’t talked to the kid since I got here, so I have no idea where he stands.

“She sounded like a spoiled brat,” Hope commented, his tone flat as he cast a sidelong glance at the dark hallway. “I’m no expert, but shouldn’t what you want matter as well? Knowing you, I’m guessing that you’d do whatever she wanted, but there has to be a line drawn somewhere.”

Sazh nodded in agreement, “Kid’s right, man. You gotta work it out with her,” he paused, and added, “Your position is yours when you want it, right Director?”

Hope scoffed, and nodded. I tossed the silver-haired boy a grateful smile, to which he rolled his eyes at me.

“I plan on going back to Cocoon during holiday break in a month,” I said, trying to sound enthusiastic, but from both Sazh’s and Hope’s expressions, I guess I’m failing miserably. “That way I don’t mess up the kids’ schedules.”

“Mm-hmm,” Sazh hummed, taking another swig to empty his beer so he could get up to the kitchen to get another one. Returning to his seat, he was quiet for a while before he turned to look at me, his eyes boring into mine with the sharpness that most people tend to forget he has. “And your reasoning of leaving in a month as opposed to next week when your kids are out on field trips has nothing to do with your infatuation with Lightning?”

I choked on my beer at that blasé comment, coughing violently and spilling my drink onto my shirt. I cursed loudly, jumping up and holding my shirt as best as I could so the liquid wouldn’t drip onto the sofa or floor, and ignored both Hope’s and Sazh’s laughter at me as I ran to the kitchen to grab a towel and dry the excess wetness. Just because I’m not at Light’s home doesn’t mean she won’t kick my behind for dirtying Sazh’s place… She’s such a stickler for cleanliness.

Returning to my seat at last, I glared at the laughing duo who seemed to be enjoying my misery a little too much. I watched them with a deadly glare as they finally calmed themselves down, and shook my head. “I’m a married man, idiots,” and to prove my point, I waved my hand with the wedding ring on in front of them.

“But that didn’t stop you from ogling Light whenever you can,” Hope said dryly, his gaze at me had a tinge of danger that made my stomach twinge slightly in fear.

I continued to shake my head, having been caught completely off guard with that line of questioning, and felt suddenly under interrogation of my feelings. I couldn’t help but look over at the dark hallway Light had disappeared into, and wonder how I could dig myself out of this hole. Maybe I could tell them they were thinking too much, that I love Serah and Light is just my sister-in-law.

But would I be telling the truth? Can I still proclaim my love for Serah with the same passion and gusto that I used to have when we were trekking through the harsh lands of Gran Pulse, and my belief in bringing her back from her crystalized state the only thing that drove me to complete my Focus, when Serah and I haven’t spoken to each other for two months? When, as I looked at my phone, I felt so tired and exhausted that smiling became a chore, and the thought of going home to Cocoon weighed on me as if a wyrm had decided to use my chest as a resting cushion?

When, the image of Light speaking gently with Dajh and caring for him like she would her own child, was forever imprinted in my mind and stored away in a little mental treasure chest so I could review it in the future, the chest specifically created just to store the images of the older Farron sister?

“Listen, kiddo,” Sazh said, his tone deep and serious as he looked at me almost father-like. The man was in his early forties, but at some point in the journey we all started looking at him as a surrogate dad, that was, if he was being serious and not cracking jokes or talking to his baby chocobo. Then we just looked at him like a deranged old man. “It’s not hard to understand why you’d have feelings for Lightning, especially after all the stuff you went through with the little sister. But you gotta realize that you need to make a decision. Either you sit down with Serah and work out all the kinks and issues, or you make a clean cut before you even let Lightning realize what you’re holding inside. Otherwise,” he paused, and looked at me intently, “you will lose more than you’d think possible.”

I looked down at my stained shirt, fingering the the hem idly as I listened to the advice. To be honest, it wasn’t anything I haven’t heard before – I’ve told myself the same thing every day since I realized I was looking at Light differently than before. But to hear it said out loud… It somehow made it more real. More… frightening.

Hope sighed, and he reached over to Sazh’s beer, only to have his hand slapped away none-too-gently. Grunting in displeasure, he turned to look at me, his deadly look softened slightly. “And Lightning… She may be a tough and hardcore fighter, but when it comes to emotions, she’s naive and can be easily hurt.” With that, the harsh edge returned to the boy’s eyes, sharper than before, which sent a chill down my spine. “So you better not hurt her, or you won’t live to regret it.”

“And,” Sazh started after a quick silence, “Marriage isn’t about giving up what you are, man. It’s about compromising and accepting each other, and working together to build a life. If you can’t be happy for your life, then, you’ll end up with resentment.” He looked down at his wedding ring, before looking up at me again. “You better make a wise decision that you won’t later regret in life.”

“…..Noted,” I said after a long pause. The duo thankfully didn’t say anything else and allowed me time to process. I looked out the window of Sazh’s living room, staring at the distant city lights of Academia.

Light would be the last person that I’d ever want to hurt. Period.

With a bang of glass hitting the wood veneer bar, the noise around the patron died briefly before resuming its full power. The burly bartender watched the woman who held the glass in her small hand with deadly grip a bit warily, before approaching her with the bottle of whiskey in hand.

“Another, young lady?” he asked testingly, as if he were ready to bolt to the other end of the bar at the first sign of trouble. This wasn’t his first time bartending – in fact, he had been doing this for thirty years. He was a tough bartender at the low-end part of Eden before the Fall, and now he occupied a small, rowdy bar in the dark corner of Academia. But he knew trouble when he saw it, and the small, petite young woman sitting at his bar definitely qualified as trouble.

A big, scary, crazy trouble.

The woman nodded, and he poured the strong liquor into her glass, before skittering away to put the drink on her tab. Well, at least the girl’s rich – the golden credit card did say so itself. And the high-end rental car she pulled in as well.

“…and the bitch still wanted us to make up for the fucking test, what’s up with that?!” a loud, drunken curse cut through the noise, followed by a round of laughter and clinks of beer bottles and glasses. “What a stuck-up bitch.”

“That whore probably just needs to get fucking laid,” a second voice slurred, the crude comment earning him another round of laughter and jeers. One man got up from the table that the group corralled in and made a crude, hip thrusting motion as the others cheered and clapped.

A third voice cut in, sounding less inebriated in comparison to the others, “Yeah, but the bitch can easily cut us into pieces if we ever try.” That earned him a punch in the guts, to which he ‘oofed’, amid more jeering and loud suggestions on how they would ‘put the bitch in her place’.

The bartender took a look at the group, then back at his point of sale systems, doing mental calculation on how much the group bought and if now would be a good time to kick the group of rowdy kids out. He might run a low-end bar, but he’d rather have paying, quiet customers than cheap kids that acquire the best real estate in his bar.

The crazy woman that he stayed away from suddenly stood up, the sound of her stool scraping the dirty concrete floor loud and obnoxious. She grabbed her drink, and hopped off her seat, walking slowly with a slight, drunken sway towards the group. The bartender almost wanted to warn her against approaching those kids, but thought better of putting himself in front of the her path. He’s not suicidal, after all.

The group quieted when the woman got to their table, lusty looks and treacherous grins across their faces. She smiled coyly, brushing her hair away from her face as she leaned against the booth.

“So… You guys need help putting a bitch in her place, huh?”

Author’s Note: Wow, it has been quite a while since I was able to write two chapters in so short a time. Hehehe. This chapter is shorter than I would like, but I figure that since I anticipate next chapter will be longer I should be okay. My friend kept trying to tell me to not limit myself, but I guess it’s just my personality coming through. Heh.

Thank you to all those that have reviewed! I really enjoy reading and responding to your reviews, and please keep them coming~!

Next chapter might take me a little longer than what I’ve been able to do lately, since my work will be more busy than I was this month. That, and next chapter will have more graphical details. Please make sure you do read the warning next time, especially if you are a FFN reader. Hehe. You’ve been forewarned.

Thank you, and see you next chapter! ^^

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