Strangers and Soda Pop

The stranger waltzed into the saloon like he owned into, a swagger in his step and no small amount of money in his pockets. A small smirk crossed his lips as he took in the crowd around the bar. Not a one of them looked like they were worth a damn and he felt his right hand twitch. Nobody would care if something happened to one or two of them and it had been a long time since he'd picked a gunfight indoors.

He walked to the bar and slouched into one of the free stools.

"What'll it be, stranger?" the bartender asked, a wary look in his eyes.

The stranger shrugged, loose and easy, the movement just large enough to show the barman the two pistols he wore at his side. "Make it a whiskey." As the bartender turned to get the drink, the stranger looked the other people at the bar over and smiled coldly as he settled on a target. "What are you looking at her?" he sneered at the man closest to him.

The other man, slim and just shy of medium height, reacted exactly like the stranger wanted. He turned a funny sort of pale and tried to shrink away.

"Well, I'm talking to you. What are you looking at?"

"Nothing," the other man said. "I wasn't looking at anything."

The stranger snorted in disdain and leaned forward. "Nothing? It didn't look like that to me. It looked a lot like you were staring at me." The corner of his lips twitched. "I don't like it when people stare."

The slim man shrank further into his seat. "Listen, I don't want any trouble. I wasn't looking at you."

The stranger grinned. That was what he'd been waiting for. "Are you calling me a liar?"

The other man paled even more as he realised the trap he'd walked right into. "Listen, mister…"

"No," the stranger said as he stood and patted one of his pistols. "I think you called me a liar. Now are you going to grovel or are you going to back those words of yours up."

The other man was clearly shaking now, but all the same he pushed away from the bar. Out here, all a man really had was his dignity and if it took a gun to back it up so be it, even if it was plain that the stranger knew how to handle a gun better than him.

The stranger smirked and reached down for his pistol but stopped short as a voice cut in.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you."

Both of them froze and the stranger turned to look for the owner of the voice. It was a woman's voice and for all that the words were quietly spoken there was steel in them, real steel, the kind they couldn't teach through school or books. It was the kind of steel that only life could teach, and a hard life at that. Finally, he found her. She was sitting at one of the tables away from the bar, her features hidden under a wide-brimmed Stetson hat, a bottle of what looked to soda pop in front of her.

"I don't recall this being your business, lady," the stranger said. "Besides, I don't think someone drinking soda pop should be butting into business between men."

She looked up and then took her hat off and set it on the table, and the stranger had to force his features to stay calm. She was a pretty thing, alright, with lush pink hair and sharp blue eyes. As those eyes met his he almost flinched away. Just like with her voice, there was steel behind those eyes, hardness that spoke of suffering measured not in moments but in years. Smiling now, he turned to face her more squarely and moved to stand opposite her, perhaps ten yards away, the other man forgotten. He'd come looking for a fight and somehow he had a feeling he'd found it.

"And what are you going to do, lady, if I decide that I want to make trouble?"

Her expression never wavered. "I'll stop you, that's what." And as calmly as could be, she reached into the pockets of the jacket that hung off the back of her chair and pulled out a gold plated star.

He chuckled. "A lady sheriff? What kind of town is this?" He shook his head slowly and shot her a cocky smile. "Let's see how fast you are then." And just like that he reached down to pull a pistol free and –


He stared stupidly at his hand, now suddenly empty. A few feet away, his gun arced lazily through the air before it clattered noisily onto the floor of the saloon. Eyes wide with disbelief, instinct drove him to go for his other pistol and once more a shot rang out. Again, his hand trembled, relieved of its weapon and he could only gape and wonder exactly what would happen next.

"Careful there, stranger," the lady sheriff murmured. "My next shot won't be so merciful." Anyone else would have been grinning, but on her fine features there was nothing, no trace of emotion save for the very faintest upturning of her lips. "Well, what are you waiting for? Get out of here. Unless that is, you have anything else to say about soda pop?"

He didn't need any further urging. Leaving his guns on the floor and his whiskey at the bar, he fled. It was only later, much later, as he turned in for the night several miles out of town that he remembered. There were tales of a town out west with a lady sheriff but he'd considered the rumours so utterly ridiculous that he'd never given them much credit and until tonight they'd all but slipped his mind.

The rumours spoke of a lady sheriff with the quickest draw in the world, so fast and accurate she could shoot the buttons off your shirt and all you'd feel would be the breeze. They said she too, that she had hair the colour of the dawn and eyes like the wide open sky. Despite the humiliation that burned in him, he'd have a hell of a story to tell. After all, how many men could say they'd survived a gunfight with Sheriff Clair "Lighting" Farron.


Author's Notes

First of all, I neither own Final Fantasy, nor am I making a dime off of this.

Well, what can I say? I don't normally write about Final Fantasy, but somewhere along the line I got the image of Lightning as a sheriff in a Western themed AU got stuck in my head. I had an hour free so I thought I'd get something jotted down. For those wondering about the other characters, I already have a pretty decent idea of what the others will be. If you're wondering about the soda pop, it's a reference to probably my favourite Western novel.

As always, I look forward to your feedback. Reviews and comments are welcome.