The Wall Comes Down
Warnings: Spoilers, Mei/Ixis, some Mei/Vahn which is perhaps one-sided and perhaps not really, a very vague mention of Vahn/Noa, a mention of romance novels, pre-Vahn/Noa ending but not really about Vahn or Noa.
Disclaimer: I don't own Legend of Legaia. This is just a fanfic.
A/N: I've never really liked Mei or Ixis, and I've especially never liked Mei as a love interest for Vahn, which kind of pushes me in the direction of the Vahn/Noa ending, where Mei stops waiting for Vahn to come back, and chooses to marry Ixis instead. (I also generally like Vahn/Noa.) Since Mei seemed to be quite faithful to Vahn over the course of the game, I wondered what would cause her to change her mind. I've probably taken some liberties with Mei's character, but I can picture her hating when people leave Rim Elm, given that her father dies when outside the village and then Vahn is gone for a long period of time, and also because she seems to be a more traditional sort of person and would want to end up living in Rim Elm herself (I take it that her wanting to see the world with Vahn in that ending would be more based on wanting to not be separated from Vahn anymore than on actually wanting to see the world.) Ixis seems to be kind of wrapped up with the little world of Rim Elm, too, rather than the big picture, and that's part of the connection I can see them having.
After writing this, I have more sympathy toward Mei, even if she still isn't my favorite. If she's TOO out of character, let me know and I will attempt to revise again. :3
There was talk all over the village about "when the Mist is gone." When the Mist was gone, people would go visit all of the places they'd heard about. When the Mist was gone they'd see family outside of Rim Elm, family they'd been cut off from when the Mist came. When the Mist was gone, they'd maybe move away or pursue a life somewhere outside of Tieg-forsaken Rim Elm. One day, the Mist would be gone from the entire world, and nobody would have to stay in little Rim Elm anymore, with the crumbling, broken wall and the same people and dirt and huts they've been stuck with their entire lives. Everyone's going to leave, everyone, and really, who would blame them? The wall kept them in, took away their freedom, and now they have it again. Why would people who could go anywhere in the world (and suddenly knew it) stay here?
Mei likes to look at the wall… or what's left of it. She's walked through town, down to the Genesis tree, over to see Nene, and then to the ruined wall. She never goes there first. It won't do for people to think she's dwelling on this, which is why she makes her roundabout little loop in the first place. Mei is a good girl. People would feel bad to see that the new freedom they're about to get is hurting her, so she's determined not to let it show. They'd temper their enthusiasm, maybe even stay in Rim Elm on her behalf. A good girl wouldn't do that to them. She'll smile when they're leaving, wish them goodbye, and let them go on their way.
But still, she feels a little sorry about the village. She liked it better the way it was before.
There's a crumbled place where she'd like to sit. She's even seen other people sitting up there, looking at the outside world (although there didn't seem to be much to look at out there). Of course, Mei won't climb up. She'd rip her skirt if she did, and it's just common sense that it's better to take care of one's clothes in the first place than to have to mend them. She sits on the ground, instead, legs curled under her. It's been a while since she's climbed anything, and she's probably more comfortable anyway here. It's okay.
And Mei hates the Mist, really. It's the Mist's fault her father died, it's the Mist's fault that she can't remember what her mother looks like… and it's the Mist's fault that Vahn went away, too. But even though Mei hates the Mist, she kind of misses the wall. People are going to leave Rim Elm now that, well, now that they can. The wall trapped them in, but it kept them safe, too. The outside world didn't look like much, but Mei knew it was dangerous. If her father had stayed in the village that day… but that's silly. Of course hunters had to leave, that was the way it had always been.
Maybe it's somehow the Mist's fault that people are leaving. Mei tries to develop that line of thought, tries to have a reason this could happen. It could be that she's not good at this type of thinking, but it's not because the Mist came at all, is it? Maybe… She'll think on it some more, perhaps, a little later.
"Hey." Mei looks back over, and there's Ixis, perched right where the wall opens up, right where Mei had wanted to sit. Damn it. Maybe she didn't sit there, but she could have, and now he's there, taking up her spot. The one that she didn't take in the first place, but still. It's the principle of the thing. But she can't let herself feel angry or petty. That would be stupid.
"Hello," Mei replies, but she takes care not to look him in the eye. He's an attractive young man, and he probably makes a great hunter. And of course he seems to care about Mei, but Mei can't excuse the way he talks about Vahn. She's been going out of her way not to see him lately, because that's the right thing to do if she really cares about Vahn. And she does.
But she can't just leave.
They stare outside of Rim Elm for a moment, Ixis looking over his shoulder, and Mei looking over Ixis. His neck is craned at an unnatural angle, and she can tell he's trying his best not to seem like he's staring (if he hadn't been so awful to Vahn, she'd have appreciated the gesture.) The outside world isn't much, but Mei knows that Vahn's out there somewhere, doing whatever he's doing, maybe even thinking about her now. Wouldn't it be beautiful, her thinking of him and him thinking of her at the same time?
"He's not coming back, you know," Ixis finally says.
"What?" It's an automatic response. Whatever he said was so sudden that she didn't really catch the meaning, just the noise. Ixis has an abrasive sort of voice. It wasn't unpleasant, at least not to Mei, but it was jarring.
"Vahn," says Ixis. "He's not coming back here." He's so nonchalant about it, saying Vahn's going to die, or be taken by the mist, or something, something not good at all, and maybe he isn't exactly smiling but he sure isn't sorry. Mei can't stand it.
"What do you mean?" she cries. "He'll come back, he promised me!" She folds her arms across her chest, looks up to the sky instead of at Ixis. He's wrong. Mei can't remember if he really promised or not, but it's good to say he did, because Vahn's a good person, and he can't help it if he forgot to really promise, if he even did.
"You know how many Seru people had?" Ixis asks her, barreling on. Mei doesn't really know. Seru as helpful little things aren't really of Mei's time, and it would have been nice to live as people lived before, but it just wasn't a practical idea. Practical ideas were better, weren't they? It was practical to make sure Vahn was fed and clothed before he went off, and it was impractical to be sad about him leaving and drag everyone down with her, and which was the most beneficial?
It's also practical to answer Ixis, because he isn't really interested in Mei's knowledge of the history of Seru. He wants to make a point. So Mei nods.
"Think of all those Seru out there now," he continues. "Vahn's going to have to fight his way through each and every one of them." He's choosing his words now. This is deliberate.
"Not all of them!" It's not as if every Seru in the world is about to gang up on Vahn and… those people he was with. Ixis is making the situation seem impossible, and it can't be impossible, because Vahn is going to come home…
"Most of them, then." Ixis says. "That's still a lot more than he can handle."
"He'll be fine," Mei says. She hasn't thought about all the things Vahn has really gone through. It'll make her worry even more if she does, and he's come back once already. He's been handling it so far. He did come back, after all.
"Against most of the Seru in the world, not to mention whatever else is out there?" Ixis is almost taunting her, now. "Vahn's strong, I'll give him that, but he can't do it, Mei."
Her blood is rushing, her face is flushed, and somewhere during their argument, she's gotten off the ground and onto her feet. She'd never admit it, but this feels good. She's been praying for Vahn to come home, visiting his sister and waiting, waiting. This doesn't feel like waiting for something, it feels like she's talking to someone now. And the discussion is a little angry, a little harsh, but at least it's something in the now.
"And you can?" she replies. It's almost unlike her, and yes, she's doing this to defend Vahn, not to argue with Ixis, because she has to remind herself of that, has to explain why she's being so rude. Good girls aren't rude. He turns red, looks away from her. She pulls her face into a serious expression, tight, because she's caught herself with her mouth wide open in what really shouldn't be a smile, not when Vahn's being insulted and Mei's being…unlike herself. This isn't the kind of woman she wanted to be.
But it's okay, since it's for Vahn.
"…No," says Ixis, hesitatingly. "Nobody can."
"He could before you could," Mei almost taunts. Teases.
"Only because of that… that thing on his arm!"
"Well, it picked him instead of you, didn't it?"
"Shut up!" Both of them are blushing now, no, they're not blushing—blushing would mean they're feeling something, feeling something in the way they mean in those romance novels that Mei used to like to read when her dad wasn't around. It's always the same with those characters. They blush, and before they know it, they're kissing each other. (And then several scenes later, they're doing things together that Mei skips over, because she's a good girl and those things are embarrassing to read about. She'd rather they just blush and kiss and fall in love, and then marry, and then have children, and then grow old and happy together. The blushing and kissing is nice. Someday that's going to happen between her and Vahn, if he ever comes back. If he hasn't already fallen in love with whatsername. If he's alive.)
So of course she isn't blushing now, here with Ixis. She's only a little red and out of breath and feeling alive for the first time in months.
"Sorry, Mei," he mumbles. And really, the correct response is that it's fine, don't worry. He didn't really do anything to hurt her, and it wasn't as if the things he said really hurt Vahn. But it wasn't as if she didn't know the real reason he was apologizing, either, the real reason he was being so nice. She runs over the responses in her head, trying to come up with something appropriately witty, something that would defend Vahn and at the same time cause Ixis to strike back, because she was enjoying this conversation, this fight, this whatever it was. It didn't really matter, because she wasn't waiting anymore.
But she's not used to this. She can't think of anything to say, and she doesn't really want to hurt him, anyway. She stays silent.
"Hey," Ixis says, "Do you wanna come up here?" Mei glances up, again, because she was definitely looking away from Ixis, definitely not looking at him. No. "On the wall." She can't quite remember, but maybe he was one of the people looking outside, too. Outside. Maybe it's the adrenaline, but just thinking it makes her angry.
There's nothing out there, just a whole lot of nothing! A whole lot of everyone's going to go away! And if she were a good girl, she'd be happy for everyone who wants to leave and now finally can. But she is, she is—she's the kind of girl who'd try her best to ignore Ixis' advances even when she's sick of waiting around for Vahn to come back… She is?
She hadn't thought that way before. Good girls didn't think that way, good girls waited around forever and ever until the boys they'd promised themselves to came home. And if the boys didn't come home, well, then the girls would keep waiting. That was what Mei wanted to be. She'd really thought herself capable of it, too.
"To watch the outside world?" Mei asks Ixis. He'll say he is, of course, like everybody else. But then she'll tell him what she really thinks about it.
"Nah," said Ixis. "It might sound kind of weird, but… there's really not that much out there. But from up here, there's a really great view of the village."
He was looking inside? Not out?
Mei didn't have some far-off dream of becoming something other than she was supposed to be, and she knew that home was the place she grew up instead of somewhere far away. So somehow, she never thought she could completely miss what was right in front of her.