21/09/2010: Snippets edited slightly to be based on the Japanese version of the game rather than the localized English version.

bits and pieces

It looked like a red eye biding it's time to wake up. She brushed a finger against her brand, pressing lightly against skin, and now it looks like a strange sort of jewel.

Out of all the brands in their band of misfits, the ones Lightning had glanced at the most were Sazh's, Snow's, and Fang's. If only because they were the only ones not hidden by any form of clothing. She took the opportunity to observe and catalog the changes, because that was what she had been trained to do, had always done, and will always do.

And the growth rate was similar - she had been mildly alarmed to see Snow's brand shoot open before she could blink; it was during that time in the Ark - but it wasn't long before everyone else caught up to his. Due to one reason or another.

Except Fang's.

Hers was noticeably the largest. Only in white and grey, not black and red.

That brand was a mystery, and she hoped for the difference to be for the better, not the worse. Because despite everything, no one knew for certain what it meant, only what it may imply. Which was just not good enough. She wanted solid facts, and she didn't have it.

"How's the brand, soldier?" Fang's voice was light. The faint sound of crunching grass and pattering water drops reached Lightning's ears.

The soldier shrugged her jacket back on, and tugged at the zipper of her clothes.

"The same as everyone's." She reached for her belt, sword, pack; clasping them in place swiftly. The bath in the river did her good - she felt a lot more refreshed.

"Hmm." The sound of clothes rustling.

The strawberry blonde paused in her motions, and glanced behind her.

Fang cocked a questioning eyebrow at her. The raven haired woman was already halfway dressed, and hands were fiddling with the blue sari.

"What?"

Blue eyes looked into green; the leather sheath of her weapon brushed against the back of her thigh as she placed an easy hand on its handle. "You often think morbid thoughts, don't you?"

The taller woman gave her a momentarily surprised look.

She merely lifted an eyebrow back at her.

"I do." A grin curled on Fang's lips. "But so do you."

Her returning smile was slight, and almost ironic. "Hmm."

"Are you guys ready?" Vanille called from around the corner, apparently waiting for them to return to the camp.

"No room for doubts, you say?" Fang asked, even as she glanced up at Vanille who had her back to them, shifting almost restlessly from foot to foot with hands clasped behind her.

She followed her gaze, and thought of her sister, her young protégé, the annoying soon-to-be-brother-in-law, and...everything out and in between.

The grip on her weapon tightened a fraction.

"None whatsoever," she responded.

In Oerba, they had another conversation on the rooftop of Fang's and Vanille's former residence.

"What will you do once all of these is over?" The unsaid was: If we get out of this alive and kicking.

She glanced up. It would be daybreak in a couple more hours. Stars glimmered brightly despite the grey-blue sky, and unlike the manufactured sky ceiling in Cocoon, this one was...it was different. They were almost similar; a mix of blue, white and grey and black and twinkling stars - but at the same time, it was... completely different. Broader? Wider? Natural?

Whatever the difference was, she had come to the conclusion she preferred this one.

Lightning sighed, almost imperceptibly, and she leaned against the cold metallic panel behind her from where she sat.

"I haven't given it much thought." She said, and it was true. The past few weeks, all of them had been occupied with just trying to survive and get the answers they need. "And somehow I don't think life would be the same." What with us being broadcasted as l'cie to the whole of Cocoon.

A pause, and Fang watched curiously as Lightning reached into her pack before revealing something...paper-thin, and rectangular in shape.

The soldier fiddled with it almost absently, sliding it back and forth between her fingers.

"What about you?" Blue glanced up into green.

"Find a place to live, adept, move on." Was the simplistic answer. Green eyes moved to her hand. "What's that?"

Lightning's gaze trailed back to the card in her hand. "My badge."

"Badge?"

"Hmm. To identify myself as one of the Guardian Corps - as one of the military." A momentary pause. Her thumb moved to push the metallic card from between her fingers, allowing Fang to get a clearer view - there were some words the Oerban woman couldn't begin to read, but she could easily identify the picture of a younger looking Farron.

"Doesn't hold much meaning for me now, however..." Slender fingers resumed their motion of sliding the card around. "Being their pet all over again isn't exactly appealing." Lightning entertained the idea of destroying the card for a brief moment, only to dismiss it the next. Never know how useful it may be later on, after all.

"You sound morbid, Light. Isn't there anyone waiting for you back at home?"

Fingers paused again.

"No." Eyes slanted towards the taller woman who had her arms crossed, the lance hooked lazily under her right elbow. "You're inquisitive today." She remarked, almost suspicious.

And there it was - a glimmer in dark green eyes that Lightning was beginning to familiarize herself with - the first sign of mischief.

Fang's eyebrows raised teasingly, lips curling into a smile. "There's no one else here but us right now. What else is there to do but keep guard and talk? Unless.." Her words trailed off purposefully, a larger grin forming. "...If there's something else you would like to do?"

Her gaze narrowed briefly; Fang was baiting her. Again.

The taller woman uncrossed her arms, and crack, went her neck as she stretched lightly. Her hand grasped the lance loosely, and she stepped closer to the edge of the roof.

Lightning rose; Fang was still smiling, but the glint of humor had disappeared from her eyes, replaced by something colder, harder.

"A battle," the soldier responded to that question, easing the card back into her pouch before grasping the hilt of her weapon, "since it appears we have company."

The gunblade flicked open with a smooth swish even as blue eyes trailed past the house to the pathway.

Four vampires approached; their motions slow, almost unfocused, but clearly making its way towards them. Vampires. Why always vampires? They were quite possibly one of the most exasperating and annoying enemies to deal with in Oerba, given the amount that lurked around the area, and their sturdiness.

"Indeed we do," Fang murmured.

一一一

A/N: Hrm. Do I know where I'm going with this fic? Not really. This may turn out to be a collection of snippets in between what happened during game progress instead. Or pre-game, or post-game. Pairings...hrmmmm. Undecided. Maybe none. Maybe yes. See where my writing takes me, I suppose. FF13 has done exceptionally well in creating a character, a strong one, that's not boggled down by romance. I rather like that.

Speaking of which. A gripe I have.

Lightning's a character where you may easily go off-character on, I think, because sometimes people just forget or wants to think some things. I call it the Lightning Stereotype. For instance.. I've seen her being portrayed as a really defensive sort of person - due to that coldness of hers and whatnot. And...well. I won't bank in on that, but I'm not entirely in agreement with that particular idea. To each their own interpretation, I suppose.

I'll also admit I'm a little partial to Lightning/Fang interaction. I don't necessarily see them romantically (yet), but I can see why and how they work together well. The rest depends on how the fics I'm reading will convince me, but I digress. :) On the other popular pairing...Hope/Lightning, I'm going to have to say the same. I've more gripes with this pairing than any others, really. Not to say it's not workable, but people often pull the Lightning Stereotype to unacceptable degrees (by my standard) where this is concerned. But I'm picky, so, meh.

Updates will happen whenever inspiration strikes. Which...is usually erratic. Hope this was a good enough read to pass the time, in the meanwhile.

Also. Éclair or Claire? Food for thought.

- Extrinsical