1. Another Day in Sol
Warnings: Spoilerage, a tiny bit of bad language, teenage Cort angst, and pancakes. Postgame, and established Noa/Vahn. Liberties taken with the specifics of the ending, specifically about what happened with Cort.
Disclaimer: I don't own Legaia, or have any rights to it.
A/N: Although I've played the game multiple times, I currently don't have a working copy or access to a working copy. (That's how much I don't own Legaia.) I've tried to be fairly accurate, but if there's a glaring mistake, let me know and I'll fix it to the best of my ability.
When Cort woke up, he still heard the screams. They echoed in his ears, pure sounds of terror quickly fading into the noises of Seru. Every night, he dreamt of the day he unleashed the Mist upon an unsuspecting world; the day that he had destroyed Legaia itself. How could he have known that someone would have come along to pick up the pieces? After nights and nights of Seru and screaming, Cort wasn't horrified anymore once he woke. Uncomfortable? Most of the time. Upset? On occasion, when the dreams were particularly bad. But not horrified, no, he had learned to tune it all out, to concentrate on something else.
Cort often wished he could tune the dreams out or at least make them a little fuzzier when he was still sleeping. The previous night's dreams had been particularly bad- Cort had seen the Seru take over Zora.
He looked at his reflection in the door mirror that had come with the small apartment. His shoulder-length, dark gray hair was rumpled, and he knew from prior experience that Noa would nag him about that until it was fixed. She'd say something about how he was a good kid and good kids needed to look their best every day!, or if Cort was really lucky, maybe she would spout off some new expression that she just learned and couldn't wait to mangle. He ran his fingers through his hair until it was barely acceptable. Noa still wouldn't like it, but she couldn't say anything now. He smirked. Maybe (probably) he wouldn't do anything great today, but he wouldn't fuck up again.
The room's walls were bare. It had nothing to do with the fact that Vahn and Noa and Cort had just moved to Sol. Cort never decorated his room. There hadn't been a sense of ownership for Cort since... well, since the Mist, and anything he put up in his room could get smashed or ripped if he moved about while he dreamed, which sometimes he did. Cort still wore black for mourning, even years after he remembered that he had killed. That, and Cort didn't want to look like a good kid, because Cort knew he was not a good kid, no matter if Noa wanted him to fix his hair or not.
Noa was in the kitchen, cooking breakfast. She hummed a little song under her breath, as she glopped some kind of batter into a pan.
"Morning, Cort!" she happily greeted him as he stumbled out of his room. He muttered something incoherent at her. She had obviously made an effort to look presentable, but she was still wearing her nightgown, and Cort noticed a blue hair hanging off her neck. Even after 15 years of marriage, Vahn and Noa were still very much in love.
"Do you want breakfast?" Noa asked. "I found out about the round little things called cakepans! Aren't they cute?" She moved over so her brother could see. Apart from getting the word 'pancakes' wrongs, she was doing quite a good job. Some of the pancakes were already getting golden and crispy, and there was a warm, breakfasty smell throughout the kitchen.
"The word is pancakes, and you're doing it wrong," said Cort. He gave the pancakes the coldest stare he was capable of.
"Oh," said Noa sadly. "Well, do you still want any?"
"No," replied Cort, " but Vahn will just love them. Provided that he doesn't choke, of course." He managed to put extra scorn on the name 'Vahn'. Although he knew that messing with Noa was pretty cruel and didn't accomplish much, there wasn't much else to do in a new town.
"Cort..." Noa started to say, but she stopped when she heard the bedroom door opening behind her.
"Good morning," Vahn said to Noa and Cort, as he stepped into the kitchen. He strode over to his wife, picked her up (at which she happily squealed), and kissed her enthusiastically.
When they finally broke apart, Cort was gone.
Although he'd only lived in Sol for a few days now, Cort knew the city quite well. He knew the abandoned stores he could sneak into (he loved to do nothing but spend hours alone in thought, and even if he didn't really love it, it killed time); the old, empty restaurants where he could get a bite to eat and pretend he was with friends he had long since betrayed; the breathtaking view from the top of the tower.
He'd gotten used to moving so frequently that he was always able to quickly adjust (even to the hated Sol). Noa and Vahn worried that people would learn who Cort was, so they never stayed in one town long enough for anyone to find out. Cort still remembered when he was only five, and they had been living in Rim Elm. He remembered a man screaming that he was a monster. Back then, he thought it was because of his unusual eyes, and that the man was just a jerk. He didn't understand why Noa had started to cry. He didn't even know what the dreams meant, then. But they moved the next day. Vahn had told him to always use a pseudonym, but Cort rarely did. He liked the effect that his name had on people.
Cort strolled down the steps, until a group of teenage girls blocked his way. They stood, chattering and giggling, in a tight cluster in front of the old weapon store. No one should have been there; a newer weapon store had opened two floors down, and Cort knew people always gravitated away from anything old. The girls openly stared at Cort as they passed around a cigarette. Well, Cort would not be going any farther down today. He would go to the roof.
Briefly, he considered what it would be like to have friends again. But he didn't want new friends. He wanted his old friends back. Only they could understand his strange combination of remorse for what he had done to the world, and anger about it being stopped. Zora would probably have understood the best. But he quickly dismissed the thought. His friends were dead and gone; in fact, they'd been dead before this version of Cort even existed. And out of everyone, he had hurt Zora the most. Even if she wasn't dead, why would she ever forgive him?
From the top of the tower, he looked down on the Sol area. The scenery was absolutely beautiful, but Cort was thinking more about the tower town itself. Not many people lived there anymore. Sol had become a tourist town, and the few locals he had met had resigned themselves to poverty. Sol was dying, and Cort was happy about it. Even though he had spent sixteen years in this new body- sixteen years of having Noa shove lectures on fresh starts and tolerance down his throat- he still carried a prejudice against Solians. It reminded him of his old war.
Nowadays, his only war was against his perky sister and her husband. He would have liked a war against that stupid monk, too (Gala was the only one who always knew where Noa and Vahn lived. Letters from him were constantly arriving). He guessed that the lovebirds were still eating Noa's pancakes, and he laughed.
He stopped laughing when he remembered the first time he tried to cook. He and Zora had snuck into the royal kitchens to get some dessert, and had argued about Cort's inability to do things without servants. He couldn't quite recall exactly what he'd tried to make, but he knew it turned out horribly. Zora had laughed at how it looked, but once she was finished laughing, she pretended to enjoy the burnt mess. He hadn't ever thought of her as something he could use, not back then.
A loud scream jolted him from the bittersweet memory.
"Please, I don't know!" the same voice began to plead. "I wasn't there!" Something was happening on the floor below.
"This is your last chance, you ungrateful little bitch! How did he do it?" This voice seemed to come from a large male.
Cort thought he recognized something in the girl's voice. He moved a little closer down the stairs.
"You're going to... hurt people, aren't you?" she said, terrified. No response came from the man. "Then," the girl said, her voice a little stronger, "I wouldn't tell you even if I did remember!"
And Cort remembered where he had heard that voice. He'd heard it in his dreams and memories, and had thought of the speaker only moments before. But it couldn't be, it just wasn't possible. Nevertheless, Cort wouldn't run the risk of betraying her again. Running down the stairs, skipping steps and knocking into a tourist who was heading up to the roof, he saw a burly man in a stark white coat, holding a girl against the railing. One or two people walked by, looking away. Did they think this was some ordinary dispute, perhaps between a father and a daughter? Cort could see that with even a little push, the girl could fall to her death.
The man seemed quite willing to provide more than just a little push.
"Then, you're of no use to us," said the man to the girl. "If you don't remember, you aren't coming back. You'll..."
"Leave her alone!" Cort screamed. The man released her, and stared at Cort. The girl collapsed against the rail.
"Very interesting," said the man in the coat. "Why, I do believe... but it will require more investigation, of course..." And suddenly, he just disappeared. Cort now turned to the girl, thinking of how silly he would feel now that he risked his neck for a stranger.
But she wasn't a stranger. Her purple hair was now fashionably cropped, and she wore a short dress with leggings and boots. From a distance, she looked like any girl you'd see in Sol. But with that voice, and those eyes, she couldn't be anyone else.
"Zora..." said Cort, as he bent down and pulled her close to him. But something was wrong; she froze in his embrace, and asked,
"That's my name?"