I'd forgotten what it was like to be a crystal. It's strange when you think about it… Five hundred years, and not a single memory of it. Now that I'm a crystal once again, it makes sense. Time… just sort of stops for you. It's not that I'm unaware of time. I know it's passing outside, but it doesn't pass for me. I'm trapped in a single moment.

It's not as bad as it sounds, really. There was a Cie'th Stone back on Pulse; she wanted to spend her time as a crystal looking over the chocobos. To live that one moment with the birds for eternity… I don't think anything could have made her happier. I hope she knows that we saved them.

Fang is with me. I can't see or feel her, but I'm somehow aware that she's close by, also crystallised. I wonder if she's thinking the same things. I wonder if she's as happy as I am.

A feeling of satisfaction enters my mind. I recognise it as not my own feeling – and there's only one other person here. Amusement follows the satisfaction, and then I hear Fang's voice. Or rather, Fang's voice is in my head.

It could've been worse. If I gotta spend forever with someone, I'm glad it's you.

I love you, Fang.

Appreciated. A short pause. I love you too, Vanille.

For a moment, we say nothing. Fang's affection floods me, and I'm certain that Fang experiences my affection just as much. I wonder why we've never had that exchange before. Fang would do anything for me, and I'd do anything for her. Yet we never acknowledged it the way we just did.

Hey… Fang?

Yeah?

Do you think we'll ever wake up?

A long moment of silence follows. I don't know what answer to expect. I'm not even sure what answer I'm hoping for. The answer I get is short and simple.

I don't know.

More silence. I suppose that when you're together forever, conversations needn't be fast. After a while, Fang resumes talking, having collected her thoughts.

I think we can wake up whenever we want to. The others did… Might be tough getting out of the crystal pillar, but we can probably manage.

I had reached the same conclusion. With that question answered, a new question arose. Fang seems to have that same question on her mind, yet both of us are afraid to ask it. I turn out to be the first one to conquer that fear.

Do you want to wake up?

I… I'm gonna miss living, sure. I'm gonna miss it immensely. But if we wake up… Well, we won't live forever. If we stay like this, that won't be a problem. We'd always be together. And I'll sacrifice anything for that.

I know she's telling the truth. She'd be OK with making that sacrifice for me. But I'm also painfully aware of how much sacrifice it would be. I know, because I can feel her loss. Fang doesn't want a single, everlasting moment. Fang wants life.

We go quiet for a long time. We take comfort in each other's presence, we enjoy it. Still, that sense of loss lingers. She wants to be with me, but not as a crystal. I can't let her make that sacrifice. It's time I made one for her.

Fang.

Let's wake up.

Are you sure?

Absolutely.

Thank you so much.

Suddenly, I see a bright light all around me. I feel Fang's hands in mine. When the light fades, I see her face for a split-second. The next moment, I'm lying in the grass before the pillar we created. I try to catch my breath – why am I exhausted? – and look around me. Fang is lying a short distance away. Our eyes meet.

"You remember anything from the crystal sleep?" she asks. I shake my head. I know time has passed, but it feels like I awoke immediately after turning to crystal. "Yeah, me neither," she continues. "So now what do we do?"

There are so many things I want to do. I want to restore Oerba; I want to see our friends again; I want to explore Cocoon. But above all, I feel like I have to tell Fang something. Something I, for some reason, never told her before.

"I love you, Fang."

"Of course you do." A short pause. "I love you too, Vanille."


A/N: I didn't cry when I saw the ending. I just had something in my eye. Honest.