A/N: And chapter 4 is up! I've tried to keep everyone in character, but there may be the occasional slip up as needed to fit with the story. Comments and reviews are much appreciated.
A special thanks goes to my friend Lily for being my beta reader. And thank you to those who have read this far, favorited the story and left comments. ^^
For those of you who've left unsigned reviews after the completion of this fanfic, see my replies below:
Animehost - Thanks for the review! I realize this piece was a little short. Lol. It was meant to be a short one, but then the storyline got away from me and hence the need for a sequel. XD I hope you enjoyed reading "Tainted Fal'Cie"!
Choboco ProdoCo - Thanks for the review! That part also made me teary eyed. Playing the game, we just become so used to the characters, so when they're gone, it's really sad. But they'll come back. You'll see. :)
Disclaimer: There are end game spoilers included in this piece. If you don't like spoilers, don't read ahead.
Disclaimer: The characters and the worlds I write in do not belong to me. The stories that I write are intended for entertainment purposes. I do not make any money from them.
*** ~ Chapter 5: Worried ~ ***
Miracles are things we make for ourselves.
The sound of glass breaking jarred Lightning from darkness. "W-wha…?" She murmured weakly, her head in a fog.
We held the light of hope in our hearts, and achieved the impossible.
"Ah man…" someone whined. "Sis is so going to kill me once she finds out-"
"Once I find out what?" Lightning's voice cracked mid sentence, the inside of her throat feeling like sandpaper. She didn't need to open her eyes to know who was stumbling around on the opposite end of the room.
"Sis! You're awake!" Heavy footsteps thumped up to her. "We were so worried!"
The first thing that greeted Lightning when she opened her eyes was Snow. Right up in her face. Like really close to her face. So close in fact, she could almost count the hairs on his chin close.
"You're invading my bubble."
"Bubble?" Snow looked around in confusion.
Lightning sighed. "I need some space Hero."
"Oh right! Sorry…"
Snow backed up a couple of steps, chuckling. That is when Lightning spotted two pieces of broken dishes in his gloved hands. She blinked. "Umm… Snow?"
"What's up Sis?"
"What's that in your hands?"
"In my–Oh shi-" Snow quickly hid the broken pieces of plates behind his back. His face went pink and he smiled at her wearily. "It's nothing…" Nothing a bit of glue can't fix that is…
Lightning stared at Snow in silence for a few seconds before sighing again. She was in no mood to pick a fight with him right now. He had obviously done something wrong, hiding whatever it was behind his back like a kid who got caught doing something they shouldn't have. Shifting her gaze around the room, it dawned on Lightning that she was home. Home. Her home in New Oerba. Lighting smiled. She didn't know what changed, but for whatever the reason, this place finally felt like home.
Looking around again, Lightning noted that everything seemed to be in one piece and just where she left it. Though, from the looks of things, something was going on in her kitchen and Snow was the culprit. Snow followed her gaze, his jaw slackening.
"Are you hungry?" Snow dashed off to the kitchen before Lightning could even reply. Dishes and food were everywhere. In the sink. On the countertops. On the floor. Well… broken dishes were on the floor. But those were hidden out of sight from Lightning because of the dinner table which sat between her and the kitchen. Something sizzled in the frying pan on the stove.
"Serah should be back soon" the blonde said, picking up the shards of broken dishes from the floor. "She just went to check on the others. The first time in days she's been out of the house."
Days? Lightning frowned at the thought. That didn't sound right. Judging by the lack of light streaming through the windows, it looked to be nighttime still. While she didn't know how she ended up in bed, it couldn't have been more than a couple of hours since she came in from watch.
"Sno-" Lightning cried out in agony falling back into bed, a scorching pain streaking across her stomach as she tried to sit up.
Ceramic bits clattered to the floor as the tall blonde zipped his way around the dinner table with amazing agility and raced up to his soon to be sister-in-law's bedside. Lightning clenched fistfuls of her blanket in death grips at her sides, sweat rolling down the side of her face as she huffed and wheezed. She would not scream. She refused to scream.
"Easy now" Snow said, untangling one of her hands from the blanket and taking it in his own. "Don't try to get up. You're still recovering."
That's right. There was a battle. With a freak of a beast. She was injured. And after that… after that…
"Oerba Yun Fang always keeps her promises!"
A promise was made.
Lightning closed her eyes. "Snow."
"How long have I been out?"
"Not that long."
"How long Snow?!"
Snow furled his brow. "Almost five days Sis."
"F-five days?" Lightning stared at the blonde as if he just sprouted another head right then and there.
"Yeah" Snow continued. "You were hurt pretty bad. Had us all freaked out about it." He gave her a half smile. "Serah cried for hours and wouldn't leave your side. We thought we'd lose you."
Serah… Lightning looked down at herself. Though with the blanket pretty much up to her chest, there really wasn't much to see. She could feel the bandages though, underneath what she currently wore. She could feel them every time she breathed. With her free hand, she pulled up the blanket a couple of inches, her gaze falling upon her shredded and bloodied turtleneck and fresh white bandages. She dropped the blanket and her arm down, the motion having exhausted her already.
Lightning flinched when she felt something cool press up against her face. Eyes darting to the side, she caught herself in Snow's intense gaze. He was wiping the sweat off her face with a cool damp cloth. In his eyes she could see a flicker of so many emotions. Concern. Anxiety. Fear. But not the fear from one of Lightning's beatings. Fear of losing her.
The pink haired soldier looked down to her hand that was still enveloped in his own. It was a rather strange feeling. Being pampered like this. By Snow of all people. No one had ever gotten this close before, with the exception of Serah. And if Lightning had a choice, she probably wouldn't have let Snow get this close either. But it was not like she could stop this right now, under the current circumstances. Besides, this was… nice. But you never heard that from her.
"You were feverish…" Snow said, using the cool damp cloth to pat down her chin and neck.
Lightning went a few shades darker from Snow's attention to her, but he didn't seem to notice.
"… for the first few nights." Snow set the cloth down in the basin of water on the floor at the head of her bed. He turned his gaze upon her once more. "You had us really scared Light. Really scared."
There was a softness to his voice that surprised Lightning. Whenever he usually spoke, he always had this brash, arrogant tint to his words. Like a typical naïve hero wannabe. Spouting nonsense about saving the world and heroes not dying. But this, this tone now, it was so surreal to her. Had he always spoken like this and she just didn't notice? Or was it that he only saved this tone for Serah? Lightning looked up to meet his gaze.
"We couldn't heal you…" The grip on her hand tightened. "None of us could use our magic anymore." Pain. So much pain in those eyes.
"What happened to the soldiers?" Lightning asked, turning her gaze to the wall on her right. She couldn't bear to see such pain anymore. So she changed the subject. Well… kind of…
"We buried them" Snow said, his voice eerily flat. He cupped Lightning's hand in both of his own. "What was left of them that is." The blonde giant hung his head. "Their families were told of their valiant effort to protect the town. They were heroes."
"Tch." Wasted life. Lightning's hand squeezed Snow's. "What happened to… the monster?"
"It was… dealt with…"
Had Lightning's head been clear, she would have noticed his hesitation. But as she was now, it was hard to concentrate and her thoughts floated to the twisted Behemoth King. What was that thing? It was like she knew the answer and it was on the tip of her tongue, but she just couldn't pin it down.
About to ask Snow something else, an almost putrid yet familiar smell came to her nose. "Umm… Snow?"
"You smell that?"
Snow sat up straighter, his nose pointed upwards as he sniffed. "Yeah I do actually" he said, looking back to the kitchen. "It smells like-Oh fal'Cie! Your food!"
The big man bolted into the kitchen, bowling over one of the dining chairs in the process. From where she lay, Lightning could just barely make out the frying pan on the wood burning stove with flames leaping halfway up to the ceiling from it. Had she been her regular self, she would have screamed at him for his carelessness and stupidity, ready to shoot him with her gunblade to teach him a lesson. But right now, she just laughed.
It hurt so much to laugh right now, but she couldn't help it. Snow seemed to be performing some sort of ritualist dance around the kitchen as he tried to figure out how to put out the fire. First he tried patting the fire out with the wooden spatula he was cooking with. But that ended up catching fire itself, freaking Snow out even more. Then he tried to blow the fire out himself, which did nothing at all. Then he picked up the flaming frying pan and spatula, turning this way and that before he turned to the window with a look of desperation on his face.
Thankfully, through the intervention of the Maker or some fal'Cie, the door to Lightning's house opened and Serah walked through at that very moment. For a split second her face twisted in absolute horror at the scene of her fiancé holding a flaming frying pan, Snow getting ready to throw it out the window. The bags she was carrying dropped to the floor with a thud.
Lightning's younger self raced over to the blonde, yanked him over to the sink and yelled at him to drop the flaming objects in it. Snow immediately relinquished the flaming mess and Serah quickly turned on the pipe full blast, snuffing out the flames. Thank Eden the water still worked in this place, even after hundreds of years. Otherwise someone could have gotten seriously hurt by a flying flaming frying pan.
A flying flaming frying pan! Try saying that one ten times fast.
At this point, Lightning clutched her stomach wheezing and coughing on her side, the occasional half laugh, half chuckle in between as she tried to survive this moment of hilarity.
"I'm alright, I'm alright" Lightning managed to say through pants, after the giggles had passed.
Serah tilted her head up, a hand supporting the back of her head as she brought a glass of water up to Lightning's lips. Lightning greedily swallowed the cooling liquid, her parched throat begging for relief. Serah helped her finish the whole glass before setting the empty glass aside.
"T-thanks…" Lightning said, gasping a bit. It hurt to breathe now, no doubt her healing body strained from all the laughing. Hopefully it would settle down soon enough.
"Serah…" Lightning said in exasperation. "I think… *huff* … your fiancé… *huff* … wants to kill me." A smile formed on her lips.
"Serah, it's not like that! I swear!" There was such panic in Snow's voice when he looked at the younger Farron. But soon Snow realized that Lightning meant no harm and flashed a grin himself. "Oh I get it. Ha ha ha, very funny Sis."
Lightning could only smile more.
"Next time Mister" Serah said slapping Snow on the arm playfully. "Let me do the cooking. The last thing Lightning and I need is you blowing up her house."
"Yeah" Snow said scratching the back of his head in embarrassment. "Sorry about that Light. I was only trying to help out."
"I know" Lightning said. Another smile graced her face.
Feeling in a much lighter mood now (as compared to her and Snow's depressing talk earlier), Lightning's thoughts wandered over to the rest of her family. Were they alright? She obviously didn't fare too well against the beast. But Snow mentioned something about Serah going to check on everyone else. Were the others luckier than her?
"Serah, how are the others doing?" Aqua eyes focused on matching aqua eyes.
Serah pulled some locks of pink hair from her sister's face. "They're all fine. Hope is with his dad and Sazh with his son. They're a little worse for wear, but all alive and in one piece."
That was music to Lightning's ears. She sighed in relief knowing her family was safe (at least for the moment). They were home. That's what mattered. And two more were on the way. Looking up, Lightning caught Serah staring down at her blanketed body. "Serah, I'm sor-"
"Don't you ever do that again Claire! You hear me!?" Serah clutched Lightning's hand between her own, resting her forehead against it as tears rolled down her cheeks.
Snow gritted his teeth. This was obviously a touchy moment for the Farron sisters. Serah was absolutely terrified to the point of hysterics after they all made it back to town. She wouldn't let Lightning out of her sight. All that blood… and a ghastly pale Lightning… Without a doubt, that experience left her shook up pretty bad. Heck, it left him messed up. It was only through pure will power that he wasn't shaking right now. Over their journey as l'Cie, he had seen horrible, horrible things. But those bodies… and seeing Lighting limply on the ground there… Snow made a fist.
"Promise me Claire…" Serah choked, the tremble in her sister's voice tearing at Lightning's heart. "Promise me you'll never go out alone like that again..."
"I promise Serah. I promise." Lightning squeezed her sister's hand.
Serah whimpered softly.
"Hey now" Snow said putting a hand on Serah's shoulder. "Don't cry Serah. Sis is strong." He gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze. "Besides, she's not alone. She has your Hero with her."
Snow pumped his fist into the air. "I'll make sure nothing happens to her. You can count on me baby." A wink.
Lightning's eyebrows went way up, before she inwardly sighed to herself. Just when she was starting to change her opinion of the oaf, he goes and says something like that. Lightning leaned back into her pillow and closed her eyes. She was tired.
"Thank you Snow" Serah said, turning around to hug the blonde around the stomach. "I know I could always count on you."
What about me? The soldier silently scoffed. If Lightning had her eyes open, she would have rolled them. Lightning was never good at that mushy stuff after all. It was… just… girly… And by no means was Lightning so girly. Lightning cracked her eyes open a bit at the touch of a hand on her forehead.
"You're not feverish anymore" Serah said smiling slightly. She moved her hand to Lightning's cheek to double check. "I was so worried when your fever didn't break the first day. Even after the seventeen potions we gave you."
Lightning blinked. SEVENTEEN!? Lightning gawked at her sister. It was a lot worse than she had ever imagined. Seventeen!? That was… that was just… Seventeen? And she still felt like this? Lightning had a new appreciation of their faded magic skills. A pity they could no longer use them anymore. It would have really come in handy, especially if there were more of those twisted freaks out there. Just thinking about that thing again made her even more tired.
"You should get some more rest Claire" Serah said, pulling up the blanket a bit higher. She leaned over and kissed Lightning on the forehead. "I'll come and check on you again in a bit. Just get some rest, alright?"
Lightning smiled at her. "I will. Thank you Serah. Snow."
"Anytime Sis" Snow flashed his signature grin and gave her a thumbs up. "If you need anything, just yell. We won't be far."
Lightning nodded slightly before closing her eyes again. She was really tired.
As quiet as they could, Snow and Serah tiptoed their way to the door and opened it.
The younger Farron turned to look back at her sister.
"I'm sorry for making you cry."
"I'm fine Claire" Serah said giving her a soft smile. "Really. You on the other hand, focus on getting better. Because if you don't, I'll just have to torture you with something pink and frilly until you do."
Lightning immediately grimaced at the thought. Pink and frilly? Her hair was pink, but still. And frilly? Ugh…
"So you'll get better soon, right Claire?" There was a hint of mischief in that voice of hers.
"Be careful what you wish for Serah" Lightning said cracking a grin. "Because before you know it, I'll be up and about and then I'd like to see you try to get me into something pink and frilly. Pfft!"
"I accept your challenge Claire" Serah said with a teethy smile.
"Now this I gotta see" Snow punched his right fist into his left palm. "May the best sister win!"
The trio shared a chuckle before Snow and Serah let themselves out of Lightning's house and closed the door behind them. The light and cheerful mood of the pair immediately darkened when the door shut and they started to make their way back home. Their house was five doors down from Lightning's place, so it wouldn't be too much of a walk. The pair got halfway there before Serah stopped and spoke. "She didn't remember what happened, did she?"
Snow looked at his fiancé.
"Snow, I know that look. It's the look you have when there's more going on than you'd like to say."
Snow sighed. Serah could always read him like a book.
"What is it? What aren't you telling me?"
Snow scratched the back of his bandana. "I just got a bad feeling about things Serah."
"Is it about Claire?" Serah bit her lip, clenching her hands together and bringing them up to her chest.
Snow sighed again. "Yes and no" he replied.
When he didn't say anything afterwards for another good few seconds, Serah poked him in the chest. "Well? Out with it already!" If this had to do with her sister, she wanted to know. All of it. She wanted to protect Claire for a change and not be the one being protected. And to do that, she needed to know. Everything.
"Well…" Snow looked at the ground. "Light didn't seem to remember anything about summoning Odin…" he said, eyes going unfocused as he thought back. "But I'm not so much worried about that. After all, the first time our Eidolans appeared to each of us, we didn't exactly summon them either. They're funny… things… those Eidolans…"
Serah pursed her lips together tightly. "Then what is it? Is it that monster?"
"Snow! Please tell me. You're scaring me." The younger Farron clutched Snow's jacket, her head resting against his chest. She could hear his heart beating, faster than it normally would. And she didn't like that. She didn't like it one bit.
Snow was always the laid back, easy going, action oriented kind of guy. That's one of the things she loved about him. A guy that went with his heart. For him to suddenly start fussing over things like this, it couldn't be good.
"You remembered what happened to the thing after Odin killed it?"
"Yeah…" Serah said, a shiver going through her at the thought of the beast. "It just… dissolved into ash and was blown away by the wind." The smaller pink haired girl looked up, to the face of her future husband. His expression was tense. Pained.
"Snow? What's this all about?"
Snow made a fist. "That's what worries me" he said. There was a gravity to his voice, something that made Serah's heart sink. "Because there is only one thing that I know of, that we all know of, on Gran Pulse that does that when it dies."
Serah's heart skipped a beat. "What's that?"
To be continued…
A/N: I hope you all enjoyed this fanfiction. I am in the process of writing up the sequel to it, Tainted Fal'Cie. Updates to the sequel will be posted on a weekly basis. The sequel will further explain and explore things I've stirred up in this fanfiction, such as what that twisted Behemoth King was etc. I know I've spoiled everyone with the frequent posting for this one, but that was only because I had the week off to be able to focus on my writing. It's back to work for me now. XD
As for what's in store for Light and Fang in the sequel, I'm sorry to disappoint all the Flight fans out there, but Light and Fang will not be partnering up together. They are just really close friends.
Stay tuned for my next fanfiction within a week's time!