1. The First Day
Rating: K? I don't know, there's no language or death, and nobody gets frisky.
Warnings: Babies are messy, and somewhat unpleasant. Spoilers.
Disclaimer: I may own a copy of Legaia soon, because it's not too expensive on eBay. However, I still don't own rights.
A/N: It's going to be this short, barely multichapter thing, based off of the (spoiler) ending where Noa runs off with baby Cort, unless this happens in all of the endings. Probably compliant with Destruction Again. Review, because it's Christmas.
Noa's been seeing green in everything. Clothes, jewelry, the plants and trees: it's everywhere. And it's not just those things that are green no matter which way you look at it, either. No, she sees a hint of green in the reflection on a lake, or in a shadow so dark, it could really be any color, or in the sky when it's so blue that it almost seems to need a dash of yellow to even it out.
She's not denying what happened to Terra. She's not forgetting that Terra's gone. It's just that everything seems to look like Terra lately.
When Cort opens his eyes, one of them is green, too. It's late at night, and he's screaming and crying and flailing around in his crib, and his eyes open for a second, and see? Green again. Noa takes him into her arms, rocking and swaying, and she hums a little tune. It's off-key, and she can't really remember the words, but she's not doing badly for herself. As she holds him, he hits out at her with his tiny little baby fists, and of course it doesn't hurt her, but he won't stop it, he won't sleep. And as long as he can't sleep, then neither can she.
Was that too fast? she wonders. Or… maybe he didn't like my song? There are other questions she won't ask herself. If he was sick, or hurt, she would have no idea what to do. Or maybe there's something vital that she's forgetting, something that nobody had ever told her to do, but that was still the most important thing to know when raising a child. It wouldn't surprise her.
There's also the question of whether Cort simply hates her. She refuses to think about it, but the worry keeps floating through her mind, louder and louder every time she tries to push it away.
He threw up earlier in the day, but it didn't mean he was sick, it was just what babies do. Noa is learning these things that babies do, or anyway, she's trying. She scrambled around, cleaning up after him and fishing around in the drawers for the soap, and where, oh where did she put that towel? By the time everything was clean, there was a diaper to change (again?) and Noa suddenly realized that there were no clean diapers left. She'd bought them just a couple of days ago, and it was much too soon for them to be gone already. Wasn't it? It didn't matter, the diapers were gone, and she needed to go out and get some more, but she couldn't just leave Cort without anything. She wrapped his bottom in one of her shirts that she liked least, since none of the towels were clean anymore. Then, still wearing what she slept in, she scrambled out the door to the marketplace with Cort in her arms, who was bundled in a blanket. The ratty shirt stuck out a bit.
"Of course nothing's wrong with him," the woman next to Noa had said when she'd found a place to buy diapers. "Babies throw up all the time." (This is how Noa learned it was normal). There was something unspoken in her tone, as if to say that any idiot would know nothing was wrong with Cort. The woman had a baby with her, too, who was dressed in a cute little outfit full of ruffles and bows, and who undoubtedly wasn't wearing an old shirt underneath it. The mother wasn't wearing anything fancy, but she definitely looked presentable, unlike Noa with the circles under her eyes, and the pajamas, and the scraggly hair. Noa looked down and away, getting her supplies and leaving, trying to avoid the stares. A hero turned into a mess, now that was something to look at. Someone whispered, "She's so young."
She got back, and she changed him (the shirt had been ruined by then, and even though it wasn't one of Noa's favorites, it still bothered her that it now belonged in the garbage), and there were a few minutes of peace and calm when Noa washed out one of the towels and put the diapers away. And then he started screaming. He started screaming and wailing, and after an hour or two, he still hasn't stopped screaming and wailing, and Noa's tried everything she could think of to do. She could lie down on the bed and try to sleep, but he'll keep at it all night, and she can't just leave him screaming. Something could be actually wrong. No, sleep isn't a possibility.
Noa doesn't have a great sense of time—so far, she had gotten by with going to bed whenever she felt tired, and getting up whenever she felt rested—but she knows she hasn't gotten enough sleep in these past few days to keep her going properly. Her appearance is one of the last things she thinks about, but she can tell her clothes are getting looser, and her hips are sticking out more than they used to. Cort shushes for a moment, and Noa breathes a sigh of relief, and coos that he's such a good boy. She tickles his chin with her finger, and he nods his head a little with the motion—then he opens his mouth and bites her. She screams, and nearly drops him, and is that blood? He's got a self-satisfied look on his little baby face, and then starts crying away again.
"I can't do this," she murmurs under her breath. She's not good enough at raising kids. It was all too sudden, her becoming a… what? Mother? Sister? Whatever she is, she's making a fool out of herself. But everybody else would look at Cort and see the madman who brought on the Mist, not someone who could grow and love and try again. Noa was just naïve enough to believe in him, just silly enough to give him a chance. It had to be her, there was nobody else to raise him, and really, maybe Noa could do a decent job of it. Maybe. If he'd stop crying.
She looks around, desperate, and a flutter outside her window catches her eye. It's green, waving around in the wind and the fog. (She's getting used to fog, just as everyone else is—they all jump inside a little bit when they see it first, but then don't worry, don't worry, it's not the Mist. It's harmless.) She looks for a moment, squints a bit, because it has to be something or other, and she can't exactly tell what. It's rippling through the air, and maybe it's not much of anything, but it gives her a sense of peace.
If Terra was here…
It's not that Noa's denying what happened to Terra, what Terra sacrificed. It's just that Terra never really was alive in the same way Noa was. Terra didn't breathe, or eat, or sleep like a human, so why would she die in the same way that a human would, either? It was too sudden for it to be final, sudden like Cort becoming a baby, sudden like how the next day, she was alone, and there wasn't any Vahn or Gala to help her. If something like Terra had existed since… so long ago Noa couldn't picture it properly, then how could she disappear in the blink of an eye? She couldn't just be nothing now. Maybe she was more like everything.
Is there any reason, Noa wonders, that Terra's not here? It couldn't be impossible. Terra was like the wind, and outside the window, Noa could see there was a breeze, since whatever it was out there was flapping about. And green, too. Green and floating, like Seru breeze. It couldn't be completely a coincidence.
What would Terra do in a situation like this?
Well, first of all, she wouldn't let it get to her that Cort was crying. Noa must have cried as a baby, too. Terra was never hurt, never fazed. She was a good (mother?) guardian to Noa. Whatever she was. She'd know that crying was just a baby's nature, biting, too. She'd stay calm, loving, maybe try again to see what would happen if she rocked Cort and sang to him. It wouldn't have been about Terra getting to sleep, it would have been about Cort calming down, and she would remember that. Even if it took a long time, she'd rock him and sing, sing and rock, wait for him to sleep. She'd know that eventually, he'd sleep, that all of this was just to make it easier. Above all, she would be patient. Perhaps she'd get Cort some warm milk, but what would count most of all—what would really get him to sleep—would be patience and love.
So Noa rocks him, and sings, and warms up some milk on the stove for him to drink from his bottle, and makes sure to keep a serene expression on her face. Her song's a little better, and the milk definitely helps, but the panic, the urgency, all of that is gone. Shortly after, he quiets down. It's not like before, when he bit her, but real sleep, with his eyes closed and his chest rising and falling evenly. And of course, it's because this is what Terra would have done.
Noa puts Cort to bed in his crib, and after tucking him in, collapses on her bed and sleeps more peacefully than she had for days.