A/n: Hey, hope everyone enjoyed the last chapter ^^; The drills the same here, Phoenix is the reader/beta, and I own nothing other than this little 'What-if' concept that I'm writing (Square Enix is responsible for providing the characters that make this thing possible). Telling you guys up front, I don't know when I'll have a chance to update again...school takes up a lotta time AND money. So, enjoy and tell me what you think! Also, this chapter takes place a week after the previous chapter.
Chapter 15: Adjustments
So, enjoy and tell me what you think!
Also, this chapter takes place a week after the previous chapter.
"Man something smells good!" Snow proclaimed as he exited his bedroom and sniffed the air happily.
Sazh approach the blonde hero. He raised his head and inhaled the delicious aroma of food that filled the air. "Serah certainly knows how to get people up," he commented.
The smell of food in their house was pretty much all it took to get everyone up and moving.
The larger male nodded in agreement. "Smells great baby!" he shouted down the stairs to the cook.
At that moment, a door opened upstairs and gained the two friends attention. Slowly, another body exited the room; when they saw who the person was their eyes widened in shock.
"Serah!" both men hollered in unison, surprise etched on both their faces.
The younger Farron rubbed her eye sleepily. With her strawberry blonde locks going in all directions and the tired look on her face, it was clear that the young woman had just woken up.
"What is it Snow?" she inquired in a sleepy tone, since she had yet to fully awaken.
The man in question began to look between her and down the stairs and in the direction of the kitchen; he did this multiple times. The gunner simply stood there in shock and unmoving.
By the time Snow was finally able to form words, all he was able to say was, "I…I thought you were downstairs making breakfast," in a stunned tone.
The crystal blue eyed girl looked at him in confusion. "Snow…" she groaned out. "I don't start making breakfast for at least another two hours." She pointed out, remembering the time on the clock and knowing when she normally awoke to start breakfast.
Her mind wasn't fully cleared yet, so she didn't fully take notice of the look on her fiancés face; it looked like Snow's facial expression was caught between him being stabbed and brain freeze.
Shaking his head, Sazh finally snapped out of it.
"Then…if you're up here, then who's down there…" the afro wearing male trailed off, brown eyes glancing towards the stairs.
And by "there" he simply meant in the kitchen cooking. Serah was pretty the only one who handled cooking—hot meals anyway. It wasn't as if they others couldn't cook, of fix themselves a sandwich or bowl of cereal, it was just the fact that Serah preferred the roll of cook for the group.
She was met with no resistance from the others on this fact either.
After that question was asked, Serah's mind cleared a bit. She sniffed the air, and her mind clear even further until she was fully awake now.
"Wh-Who's cooking?" she shuddered, as she looked in the direction of the kitchen.
"That's what we would like to know," the pilot mumbled more to himself, than his friends.
The bandana wearing male spoke up. "Well, only one way to find out," he said. The other two nodded in agreement and the three began to descend the stairs.
When they hit the landing they were met with Hope groggily exiting the living room; he looked exactly like Serah had when she had woken up. The only exception was that he looked far more tired than the younger Farron did.
Noting the game controller in his opposite hand, his other one was rubbing the sleep from his eyes, told why. He'd likely been up over half the night playing videogames.
The young teen paused when he spotted the trio; specifically, he stopped in his tracks when he saw Serah.
"Serah?" the silver haired male said in confusion. "You're…not…cooking…" he pointed out slowly, when he heard things shifting in the kitchen and the smell of food in the air.
"Give the kid a prize," the oldest member of the group remarked. Sweets popped out of his hair and chirped before dying back into the ebony sea.
Completely missing the sarcasm in the black man's voice, either due to sleep or just not catching it, Hope proceeded to ask another question.
"Then…who's in there fixing breakfast?" he pondered, his tone a little clearer as his body woke up more.
Serah looked at him. "That's what we're about to find out," she informed him. Before the group could move forward, the door to the basement opened and out stepped Fang and Vanille.
Unlike Serah and Hope, the two were bright eyed and bushy tailed, when they exited their room. That wasn't really a surprise seeing as how Fang always awoke at sunrise and Vanille tended to wake up roughly an hour later.
The entire household knew this because the couple tended to be extremely active in the morning hours; it annoyed the others in the house to no end—namely the light sleepers, aka. Claire.
Fang inhaled deeply the delicious aroma of food wafting through the air, as she turned her head to the kitchen and heard noise emitting from it. Focusing back ahead and being met with Serah the lancer did a double take; she then looked at the group and arched any eyebrow asking silent questions.
"Did someone break in our house?" Vanille questioned quite seriously because of the oddity of the situation. What other explanation could there be for someone cooking in the kitchen that wasn't Serah?
"As dangerous as one of us is, let alone all of us, if someone was desperate enough to break in here, despite the consequences, and start cookin'…I say let 'em have it," Fang replied to the question her girlfriend asked.
With everyone there, the group decided to sate their curiosity, and made their way to the entrance of the kitchen; they were bunched up in the doorway. The sight they were greeted with earned a collective gasp.
"Whoa…" Snow breathed out.
Sazh simply shuddered out, "S-Soldier girl."
Both Vanille and Hope opened and closed their mouths. When either of them tried to speak, it came out completely incoherent. Fang was simply stunned into silence.
"C-Claire…" Serah called her sister's name.
The older Farron stopped what she was doing momentarily and glanced over her shoulder, noting not only her sister but also the other housemates.
"Hey!" the former soldier greeted cheerfully, flashing a grin. "Good morning!" she added as she turned her face back around to finish her task.
Everyone couldn't believe that out of them all, including someone breaking in, that Claire was the one who was cooking. It hadn't crossed their minds that she'd be the one they find in the kitchen.
None of them had ever seen the taller Farron fixing a meal. While on their journey, Lightning and Fang had hunted the food, but the soldier left it up to everyone else but Snow to prepare it. Because of this, the others assumed she couldn't cook.
"The food will be ready soon," the new cook informed them, eyes never leaving from the pancakes she was flipping. "So you won't be waiting too long."
The six that were crowding the entrance way quickly removed themselves from the doorway; in fact, within the span of thirty seconds the six had relocated to the living room, and huddled up in a circle.
They spoke in hushed voices not wanting the elder Farron to hear them.
"Just what the hell is going on?" Fang demanded to know harshly, while struggling to keep her voice down.
"Calm down Fang," Snow said to her, noticing how tense she was.
Her piercing green eyes snapped towards him; the hero flinched from the intensity of the look. "Calm down? How can I calm down when Sunshine's in there cooking," she countered. "How many of you have ever seen her do that?"
The others all groaned in response to her question, which the lancer took as a confirmation for 'Never'.
"The tracker's got a point," the gunner conceded.
"Lightning…cooked," Hope said in awe as his mind replayed the previous scene.
Serah looked at the silver haired boy. "Claire," she insisted. "She wants us all to call her Claire now remember." She pointed out to them.
The other five nodded. They remembered what the once upon a time Sergeant had told them; the elder Farron had kept her promise and told the entire group why she had left and how she'd changed. They also recalled her, telling to call her "Claire" from now on—since that was her real name to begin with.
They had to admit, Serah included, it was a tough transition for them to call her that after calling her "Lightning" all the time. But hey, they were making progress—adjusting slowly—but this…this was just too much, or rather too soon, for the family to handle.
"Calling 'Lightning' Claire now I have no problem with," Vanille began. "But this…" she trailed off, eyes and head leaning in the direction of the kitchen.
Serah let out a sigh. "It's weird," she supplied. "I know, its freaking me out too," she admitted to them.
"Guys! Breakfast's ready!" Claire shouted from the kitchen.
"What are we going to do?" Sazh inquired.
Suddenly Snow's stomach growled loudly. The NORA leader looked sheepish for a moment. "Well, it does smell good," he began. Another loud growl. "We could always eat it?" he offered, speaking from his stomach.
The huntress scoffed. "And that'd be the last meal you'd ever eat," she muttered.
"We could just go out to eat?" Hope suggested.
Vanille shook her head in protest, despite her girlfriend's rapid nod. "But if we do that, won't that hurt Lig—Claire's feelings?" she wondered curiously.
"As opposed to her food hurting our stomachs?" Fang threw out there. "…No."
Serah bit her lower lip. "Vanille's right," she agreed with the medic of the group. "Doing that would hurt Claire's feelings and I don't want to do that to her. It would shut her down and she'd go back to being Lightning again."
She saw the mixed reactions on the others faces and decided to explain.
"Look, she said she's changed, and we've seen that by her wanting us to call her by her birth name. I know, her behavior change is an adjustment for all of us, but we've got to give ourselves a chance to get used to it," Serah pointed out. "And what better way to start by eating a meal she's prepared?"
"Guys come on or the food will get cold!" the gun blade owner yelled again.
Everyone seemed to have given in except Fang; she was always the stubborn one. Still, seeing the eyes of everyone on her, pleading with her, the lancer gave it.
"Alright!" the brunette said in a huff as she broke their huddle formation. "But if I die, I'm blaming you lil'Farron," she made known before stalking to the kitchen with Vanille right behind her.
The others quickly followed suit.
Serah was the last to enter into the kitchen; the others were already seated around the table, looking cautiously at their plates.
The younger Farron made her way over and sat next to her fiancé. Before she could even get properly seated, a plate was being placed in front of her by her sister; the other sibling simply grinned before making her way back over to her own seat.
Claire dug into her food earnestly. She seemed completely oblivious to the rest of the groups discomfort towards the meal she had prepared.
"Well, what are you guys waiting for?" Claire inquired as she looked up to notice the others not eating. "Eat up before it gets cold."
Snow poked at a hotcake cautiously while Hope fiddled with his sausage…not that sausage.
"So…" Serah drew out after minutes of silence. "What else are you planning on doing today?" she asked her sibling, focusing her attention on the woman who was seated at the far end of the table.
Without looking up from her food, the older of the two responded, "Make dinner," bluntly.
"Like h—" Fang was set to protest until her girlfriend's hands clamped over her mouth.
Vanille just flashed a nervous smile, as Fang continued her muffled rant. Claire looked at the pair briefly, but curiously, before shrugging and stuffing half a biscuit into her mouth.
While the former soldier did this, the other members of the family all turned to Serah; their eyes pleaded with her to talk Claire out of cooking dinner…or anymore meals for that matter. Except Fang, the lancer was practically demanding with her eyes that Serah tell her sister to never pull this stunt again.
The younger Farron sweat dropped from all the looks. "That's sweet of you Claire," the younger sibling praised and focused back on her sister "But you don't have to. I've got it."
When Claire looked up again her plate was clean. "But, you always cook," she pointed out gently.
"That's because her cooking is the best in the house, unlike yours Sunshine," Fang muttered out before her lover tightened her hand over her mouth.
Thankfully, the former Guardian Corps soldier didn't hear that remark and continued on speaking. "I wanted to give you a break," she added.
The smaller Farron was truly touched. Her sister had always done nice things for her but the former soldier had never outright and admitted to the deed.
Having Claire voice her intention, especially aloud and around others, touched Serah. It touched her…as well as freaked her out; she wasn't used to her sister being this direct outside of anger and fighting.
It would definitely take time for the younger strawberry blonde to get used to. Glancing around, it would take them all time to adjust to.
"And I enjoyed it, truly," the engaged sister informed the older sibling. "It was nice to not have breakfast duty, but I love cooking for everyone."
"Not cooking throws me off," Serah added sheepishly, making sure her words didn't sound offensive because she didn't want to hurt her sister's feelings.
The former Sgt. appeared to be deep in thought for a few moments, rolling the words around in her head. Before she could say anything her stomach spoke up.
Claire flushed lightly. "Sorry," she apologized placing a hand over her stomach. "I'm still hungry."
It was then that the others noticed the elder Farron's empty plate; they hadn't even been sitting at the table a good ten minutes!
"Damn!" Sazh exclaimed. "Not even Snow clears his plate that fast!" he pointed out.
The blonde hero turned to the older man. "Hey!" he protested with a frown. "Big man's gotta eat."
Hope chipped in. "But that's just the thing Snow, you're not just a 'Big man'…you're a Bhelmoth!"
The comment earned laughs from the others at the table. Serah did lean over and kiss Snow's jaw to help make him feel better; it did.
"Um…I hate to ruin the moment," Claire spoke up, earning attention once again. "But…" she trailed off pointing to Serah's plate. "Are you gonna eat that? I don't wanna take it from you, but seeing as there aren't any leftovers, and you haven't really started eating yet and I'm still hungry…"
"Here!" Fang all but shouted, shoving her plate in the direction of the elder Farron, successfully halting the other fighter's rant. "You can have mine," she offered.
Jade eyes noticed Vanille's food. "And 'Nille's too," she added as an afterthought, shoving the plate before the fighter.
The strawberry blonde looked at the food before looking at the two Pulsians. "Are you sure?" she questioned, eyebrows knitted together. "I don't—"
The huntress cut her off. "It's fine Sunshine…really," she all but insisted. The look on her face and the tone in her voice let the others know that she was relieved that she didn't have to eat Claire's cooking.
Blue eyes focused on the redhead seated naturally next to Fang. Vanille flashed a smile. "She's right Lightning…I mean Claire, sorry…we'll be fine. If you're still hungry have ours," she encouraged the older Farron.
"A-Alright," Claire stumbled over the word before turning her attention to the two plates filled with steaming food. She was too busy stuffing her face to notice that none of the food on the plate had been touched.
Moved around yes, but eaten, no.
The others at the table watched in awe as the leader among them ate; they had never seen her eat with this much vigor or eat so much. Seeing as how "Soldier Girl" still looked hungry after finishing off Fang and Vanille's plates, Sazh slid his over the temporary chef.
Thirty minutes later, Claire had finished off six and a half plates of food.
"I'm full now," she commented as she put her fork down. She then looked at her path of destruction. "Whoa…I so beasted," she added.
Suddenly Claire panicked. "Fal'Cie! Do you know how many calories I just took in?" she asked aloud.
The others at the table didn't answer because they didn't know if she was asking them or if the question was rhetorical.
The leader jumped up. "I gotta go exercise!" she proclaimed.
"What are you going to do?" Hope inquired, from his seat.
"Run, jump, climb a mountain…anything to burn what I just ate off!"
She ran to her room, making record time, and was back in the kitchen. She was dressed in black sweats with a white t-shirt, and wore matching black sneakers.
Claire focused on her sister. "Now you're sure about you doing dinner tonight?" she questioned. Serah nodded. "Alright then, I won't be back til later then. See ya!" she said before exiting the backdoor and running towards town.
Silence followed after the former soldier left.
"Um…what just happened?" Vanille voiced the question that was on everybody's mind.
Snow answered. "I can honestly say, I have no clue, but seeing Sis act like this is…weird," he added in, while wrapping an arm around Serah's waist—pulling her into him.
"Weird? …Try down right, horrifying," the black man chipped in. His baby chocobo emerged from his hair and started fluttering around, chirping in agreement.
"Well, now that's she's gone…" Fang began, leaning back in her chair. "…How's about some real grub? I'm starved," she said, her stomach growling loudly in agreement.
The others stomachs followed suit and growled as well.
Serah chuckled, before dislocating herself from her fiancé. "Alright, alright…I'll get started," she responded and went about preparing brunch for her family, seeing as how it was past breakfast time but not quite lunch time.
Man you gotta love it
Get butterflies when I think of it
Girl your love like a race
I'mma keep runnin (I'mma keep runnin)
You got a kiss that's so wet
I wanna drink from it (can I drink from it?)
Claire hummed along to the song as she jogged into town. She had her hair, which was no longer asymmetrical since she allowed it to grow out, up in a pony tail; there were a few loose strands dangling about.
I can't believe I let myself smash that many plates of food, the former l'Cie chastised herself mentally while shaking her head—her ponytail shaking from the action.
As she jogged along the sidewalk, the leader of the group was unaware of the stares she was receiving from passer bys. People literally stopped whatever they were doing to stare at her; all of them slack jawed.
A large reason that people were staring was because it had been a week since anyone had seen Lightning—as that's what they called her, because they were unaware of the name change. The last time the public saw her, was during the book convention and they all ended up pretty much chasing her.
After Lightning escaped from them, more like was rescued, the excitement of seeing her for the first time wore off and people beg to speculate. There were some who believed that the person they were chasing wasn't the real Lightning; it was simply someone who was paid to look like her and give the fans a show.
It was a small percent who thought this, but it was there none the less.
The rest of the fan population though, believed that was indeed the real Lightning they had seen and chased after; after all, what other reason could make the rest of the former l'Cie run after her, if she wasn't the real thing?
Whatever one believed, none of them were able to confirm their suspicions because after Lightning had been rescued she hadn't been seen since. Now, everyone pretty much knew that Lightning was at home with the rest of her family—and if you were a true fan of theirs you knew exactly where the group lived.
Yet, just because they knew where the group resided, did not mean that they went they; it wasn't out of respect that the fans, news crews, reporters, and etc didn't go there. It was the fact that they family stayed ten miles out—the distance between town and their home was Pulse wilderness that contained massively ferocious or deadly cute beasts.
If not for that factor, people would be camped around the house day and night, ogling the family.
Now, to see Lightning again, here in town, people were going to have a field day…and Claire was going to get more than her share of fan adoration.
It was ya lips that made me want ya (more)
It was ya kiss that made me need ya (more)
It was ya kiss that got me on ya
It was ya kiss
It was ya kiss (no lie girl)
As Claire paused to cross the street, looking both ways because the last thing she wanted was to get ploughed over, a random person approached her. When it was clear that the elder Farron wasn't going to notice them, they decided to cautiously tap her shoulder.
Feeling this caused the gunblader to turn her head to the right. Standing beside her, was a young woman. The nameless girl was an inch or two shorter than the former l'Cie and looked to be in her earlier twenties.
She noticed how the unknown woman swayed slightly, nervously, and chewed on her lower lip while also glancing from her feet to Claire's face.
"Yeah?" the strawberry blonde inquired, as she removed the headphones from her ear, pausing the music in the process.
The young woman pulled out a poster and sharpie from behind her back—presenting it to the jogging female.
"Can I…can I…have your…autograph?" the nameless girl asked, shyly.
Claire was shocked, having not expected such a request nor was she expecting to sign a poster of herself; it was one of her in her old military outfit.
"Uh…sure," Claire said as she reached out and took the items offered her. "Should I sign it to you?" she questioned.
The girl nodded.
"What's your name?"
The young woman moved her black hair out of her face. "Delafuente," she answered. "But you can just make it out to 'Dela' for short," the slightly shorter female added.
The gunblader nodded. She quickly signed her name—Lightning as that's what the fans believed her name still was—and made it out to the woman. When she was done, she handed the items back to the fair skinned young adult.
The brown eyed fan smiled. "Thanks," she praised before glancing up once again at the older Farron and hurrying off.
After the Dela girl had walked off, several other fans had crowded around; though they made sure to keep a safe distance as no one wanted to incur "Lightning's" wrath. She noticed how people had books, posters, cameras, and other things held in their hands and how the looks on their faces told that they wanted to get closer to have them signed or whatever.
Doing a mental eye roll, Claire beckoned them closer with a quick motion of her hand; in seconds they surrounded her
The crystal eyed female let out a sigh. It would take some time for her to get use to people walking up to her and asking for autographs, pictures, and a bunch of other things. It still blew her mind that she and her family where celebrities now; it surprised her even more that she was so popular and didn't even have a book published or own anything else.
'People are no doubt simply intrigued by the 'Lightning' persona,' she thought to herself as she checked the street again before crossing.
Resuming her running again, the former Sgt. ran passed a few stores. She was able to run the next five blocks before she was blindsided by something a thousand times worse than adoring fans—the media.
Within seconds she was surrounded on all sides; microphones and cameras being shoved into her face. The flashers from cameras were going off and her ears were assaulted by a dozen questions per second.
"Lightning! Are the rumors true that you had disappeared for a year?"
"Where did you go? Did you even leave at all, was it just a publicity stunt?"
"Why did you leave? Did you do some type of special training?"
"Based upon Hope's comments about you, what I your relationship with him? Is it that of a brother and sister? A mother and son? Or are you two in some type of relationship?"
"Forget about Hope, what about your relationship with you sister? You two seem awfully close…perhaps you two are closer than normal sisters?"
"What about Fang? How do you feel that she's dating Vanille in the public when you two are clearly together?"
"And what of Sazh and Snow?"
Even though it had only been five minutes, it felt like it had been days with all the questions that were assaulting her. Claire simply couldn't take it; not only were there so many questions, but they were also stupid fucking questions.
"No comment, no comment, no comment, no comment!" Claire repeated before forcing her way through the crowd before taking off.
The media gave chase because well…they're the media.
The elder Farron sighed heavily as she ran from the press. "I don't think I'll ever get used to this," she said aloud to herself.
"Still, I guess the silver lining here is that they help me burn off these calories."