Disclaimer: I don't own Dissidia or anything from the Final Fantasy franchise, which belongs to Square Enix.
A/N: Well, to start off, I want to apologize for taking such a long time to post another Dissidia story, but here it is nonetheless! It's my shortest one so far, but I think I packed quite a bit into it, and considering the nature of this story, it didn't need to be long. Now, I dunno what you want to call this, as it has both elements of romance and friendship in it, so it could go either way, (hence the genre I chose) and due to this fact, really it's up to you, the readers, to decide. Now, this fanfic takes place during the 012 war after Vaan rescues Terra from Kefka's Tower, but before the two of them have their conversation in the Rift and Vaan leaves Terra behind after she tells him her name. This takes place in between those two cutscenes, and as is the norm with me so far, this fic does fit with the canon storyline. Let me know what you think, as this is the first time I've had a chance to show off either my successful for failed abilities at writing Terra. And now to make fun of my own story, I leave you with the wise words of Kefka Palazzo.
"This is sickening! You sound like chapters from a self-help booklet!" -Kefka Palazzo (Final Fantasy VI)
Dare to Dream
Dream's End. The end of a dream. It was a fitting name for the empty ruins of what looked as if it might once have been an extravagant venue for sporting events, the whispers of long lost memories echoing in the darkness, and gazing up at the deep velvet blue sky, the stars twinkling like millions of tiny candles glimmering faintly in the heavens, the troubled warrior known as Terra Branford let out a soft sound of distress, her sapphire eyes fluttering shut to block out the view of the gateway where she was currently taking a moment to reflect upon the unexpected events that had transpired earlier, allowing her to escape the evil clutches of a certain psychotic and most likely certifiably insane harlequin, better known as Kefka Palazzo.
A minion of Chaos, much like herself.
We're the same really. Not so different in this war between harmony and discord...
Listening to the faint voices of the lost souls haunting the ruins of the stadium, Terra could not deny that she was quite confused and more than a little uncertain of the wisdom her cheerful companion had shown in allowing her to slip free of Kefka's grasp, but even the sorrow festering in her heart was nothing compared to the fear she felt for what may or may not come to pass in the near future.
She was a tool. A mere object to be used on a whim. The power to destroy, the power to hurt others. The power to wipe out any object in her path.
Chaos and destruction. It was the only path she knew, the only road that she could see stretching out before her. How then was she to escape her fate? Vaan had made it sound so easy, but could anything that was truly worth fighting for ever be that simple?
The end of a dream. Or...maybe the beginning of a new dream?
Terra sighed, her smooth forehead wrinkling into a slight frown.
But...what if you're too afraid to dream? What if you don't dare to dream? What path is there left to follow for those without hope?
"The sky looks amazing, doesn't it?" Vaan suddenly said mildly, his words interrupting the quiet, almost sorrowful, atmosphere of the gateway.
Terra glanced at the young warrior of Cosmos sprawled out next to her on the circular blue platform where they were currently resting, a curious look overcoming her pale features. Vaan was lying on his back, his arms curled leisurely behind his dusty blond head, and with one knee raised for comfort, he looked quite relaxed, as if he didn't have a care in the world. Terra knew this was no easy feat, as they had only just recently escaped Kefka's clutches, and studying him, she couldn't help feeling both impressed and a little bit envious. With dark blond hair, intense gray eyes, dusky skin, and an easygoing smile, Terra wondered if perhaps he had come from a desert town or city, as he seemed to give off that kind of air, and with the way he was able to put the past behind him without a second thought, she suspected perhaps as a child he hadn't lived an easy life, which had only made him stronger as he grew up.
It was hard to say, but watching him now, she suspected she was on the right track.
"What I wouldn't give right now to be up there in an airship," Vaan continued, a faraway look in his eyes. "I know there's still stuff I have to do here, but it'd be nice to kinda leave everything behind, just for a little while, you know?"
Terra hesitated, unsure of what to say, and pulling her knees up to her chest, she turned her own gaze back to the stars, trying to make sense of Vaan's words. No one had asked or forced him to come to her aid, but he had done so regardless, simply because he had believed it was the right thing to do. He'd done it because he had wanted to, and that had been a good enough reason for him, not because he had to.
"People are people, aren't they? It doesn't matter what 'side' you're on."
"Once this is all over and we get to go home, the first thing I'm gonna do is fly an airship," Vaan elaborated, smiling with enthusiasm. "I don't remember much about my home world, but I do remember the airships. Actually, now that I think about it, they're really the only thing I remember."
"I guess then...they must have been very important to you."
Vaan nodded in agreement, and giving her a curious look, he asked, "Do they have airships in your world?"
Terra paused for a moment before deciding to answer. "I'm not sure, but the term does sound familiar. Maybe..."
Faintly in her mind, she thought she saw the vague image of a handsome man with long, silver hair standing beside an airship, and shaking her head to clear it, she glanced at Vaan again, a little confused about where their conversation was going.
"One day, I want to own my own airship," Vaan announced, his gaze shifting from her face to settle once more on the stars twinkling above them. "Up there, in the sky, it's real easy to leave all of your worries behind. It's like...when you're high above the clouds, there's nothing holding you back. I dunno if I can explain it real well or not, but there's no other feeling like it in the world."
Terra watched his face, a wistful smile overtaking her pretty features. "Sounds...nice."
"It's the best kind of feeling," Vaan agreed easily, unperturbed by her hesitation. "There's nothing like the freedom of the skies. Every flight is like a new adventure. You never know what's waiting for you at the end of your journey, but that's half the fun of it."
His excitement was catching, but even so...
"Aren't you ever afraid of...falling?"
"No way. I have this friend, Bartz. He's a warrior of Cosmos like me, and like he always says, 'the wind is calling me.' The thrill of adventure, it's not an easy thing for someone like me to resist."
Terra could understand his feelings, but to be so calm when facing the unknown, that was something she herself had never been able to muster the courage for, though admittedly she had never really tried. "But...it must be pretty scary, too."
"Sometimes, but if you don't take the risk, you'll never know what it feels like to fly. Hopes and dreams are easy to believe in when there's nothing pulling you down. You have to learn to live a little if you want to leave your fears behind."
"That's what it feels like to ride an airship. You leave all of that stuff behind you and focus on what's ahead of you. You might not know what the future holds, but it's still yours to decide. Still your choice to make. 'Don't follow a path, make your own.' That's what Bartz always says, and I think he's got the right idea. Maybe one day you'll get to meet him. Oh, and my others friends, too."
"I don't know..."
Could it really be so easy?
Freedom had always been an elusive dream for her, one she had never allowed herself to indulge in before. Could leaving all of your fears behind and allowing yourself to hope for the future truly be something she could put her faith in? Gazing at Vaan now, his gray eyes sparkling in the light of the stars, his calm demeanor and his laid-back attitude having a soothing effect on her, it was becoming more and more difficult for her to believe otherwise.
It must be nice, to be free...
He did not even know her name, and yet here he was, making an effort to try and cheer her up. She was a weapon for war, and yet to Vaan that didn't seem to matter. It didn't mean anything to him that they fought on different sides of the battlefield.
She had to wonder. Is that what being a warrior of Cosmos was like? Being able to make your own decisions, to follow your own path, to fight for what you believe in. She didn't want to fight, but...
"You're doing it again," Vaan teased, nudging her lightly in the ribs with his elbow.
"Huh? Doing what?"
"Thinking too much. Sometimes you just gotta learn to let yourself go."
"Listen, we've still got a ways to travel if we want to put some distance between ourselves and...what was that place called again? Kefka's Tower?"
Terra nodded, a shiver racing up and down her spine. "Yes, Kefka. He's the one..."
"Oh, I get it. The crazy clown, huh? So...that's his name. Well, anyways, we better get some rest and then head out again as soon as we're ready. The further away we are from Kefka, the better."
Vaan reached out, and taking hold of her wrist, he moved to the edge of the circular blue platform, intending to head towards the stands. On instinct, Terra put her flying abilities to good use, and taking Vaan's warm hands in her own, she pulled him into the air and twirled them both in a circle, their bodies hovering above what looked to be a fiery pit down below.
"Whoa!" Vaan gasped, gazing in awe at the pit before turning to study the lonely buildings watching over them in the distance.
Smiling somewhat shyly, Terra said softly, "It's not exactly an airship, but close enough."
Vaan looked at her then, and giving her hands a gentle squeeze, he smiled and said, "Now that's more like it."
"More like what?"
Vaan tilted his head to the side, studying her, and leaning close, he whispered in her ear, "Live a little, and don't be afraid to dream. No one's holding you back but you."
"Freedom," Terra said softly, squeezing Vaan's hands in return.
"Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?"
Terra didn't reply. Instead, she rested her forehead against Vaan's, allowing herself a moment to absorb his words.
It did have a nice ring to it.
They stayed that way for a moment, and closing her eyes, Terra wrapped her arms around Vaan's waist, holding him tightly to her chest, the excuse of not wanting to accidentally let go of him giving her a perfectly sound reason for doing so. They stayed that way for a long time, neither of them speaking, and for the first time since she could remember, Terra felt truly at piece with herself.
This feels nice. It's strange, but with Vaan here, I feel like the fear in my heart cannot take hold of me...
"Hey," Vaan finally murmured into her hair, nodding his head towards the stands. "As much as I love flying, we really do need to rest."
Terra nodded in agreement, and feeling somewhat embarrassed, she quickly flew them over to the spot Vaan had indicated. Leaning his back against the crumbling wall of the bleachers, his legs stretched out in front of him, Vaan motioned her to sit next to him, a warm smile on his handsome face.
Without a word, Terra curled up against his side, her head coming to rest on his shoulder. The warmth of his skin made her feel safe and secure, and smiling in return, she touched his cheek in thanks before snuggling against him.
Vaan seemed a bit surprised at first, but instead of commenting he merely shrugged it off and wrapped his arm around her shoulders, shifting slightly to make them both a little more comfortable.
Dream's End. Where one dream ends and another begins, and gazing up at the stars, the feel of Vaan's heart beating beneath her hand, for the first time in a long time Terra found herself daring to dream, the hope that had been buried deep within her heart for so long beginning to bubble to the surface, yearning for the elusive freedom that came so easily to Vaan. It was faint, but it was there, flickering in the darkness that plagued her soul. He still did not know her name, and yet he had not abandoned her when he'd had plenty of opportunities to do so. That alone was a testament to his strength of character.
A tool of war indeed, but Vaan was right, and by the sounds of it so were his fellow warriors and the friends he had made on his journey.
If you wanted to break free from the chains binding you to a fate not of your own choosing, you had to make your own path through life, one that no one could make for you but you.
Thank you, Vaan. I hope...one day, I can meet your friends. Will they so easily accept me as you have done?
It was a question Terra did not have an answer for, but deep inside her soul, she felt that they would, and maybe, just maybe, freedom wasn't such an elusive dream after all.