Kind of a post "Our Last Night" story… Idea came from Baby Capri 1990.
Beta'd by Baby Capri 1990.
Also, hope it doesn't seem TOO choppy. Tried to do little snippets throughout the time Fang and Lightning are apart...
One Last Day
Why did she do what she did? They say a person would do anything for the ones they loved. But there she is, trapped in that crystal with her sister. Lightning reached up to wipe the single tear that had slid down her cheek away. She used that same hand to press against the crystal column where Fang and Vanille were asleep. "Dammit!" Her fist came down against the pillar a few times before her knees collapsed under her.
She told Fang not to do anything stupid. In a way, it wasn't stupid. She did prevent the fall of Cocoon to Pulse. But now… now she was forever trapped in her crystal stasis. Lightning's forehead came to rest against the crystal. Her eyes locked with the form of her frozen lover she could see inside. Never again could she touch her. Never again would she hear her laughter, or her smart quips. She no longer fought against the tears that were threatening her eyes.
"Guys, where's Lightning?" Serah looked around once she noticed her sister had gone missing.
Hope looked around, seeing a small figure in the far distance, near the pillar. "There..." He knew Lightning was upset. Lightning loved Fang. They didn't vocalize it, but she did. He knew she did.
Serah looked on, debating whether or not she should go. "I'll go see her... Wait here."
Snow looked at her warily. "Are you sure you want to go alone?"
"She's my sister, Snow." Serah slowly made her way to her older sister. Her heart started breaking with each approaching step. "Lightning?" She gently called out. She was suddenly wary of approaching the woman, especially now that she could see the soldier's shoulders shaking with tears. "Claire?" Serah carefully put her hand on her sister's shoulder.
"Don't…" Lightning shrugged off her sister's hand before standing.
"Does it look like I'm alright, Serah?" The older woman snapped, turning to face her sister as she did so.
Serah stepped closer to her sister before wrapping her arms tightly around her. "It's gonna be okay sis."
"Get off of me!" Lightning struggled against the grasp before finally giving in. A fresh round of tears overtook her. She finally knew what a broken heart felt like. "It hurts Serah." The younger blonde stayed quiet as she rubbed Lightning's back. "Now I know why Snow stayed behind with you." She pulled away to look at the pillar again.
Serah stepped up beside her older sister to look into the crystal. She'd never met Fang, but based on everything Vanille had told her, she was a wonderful person. A person with the type of personality that would have been perfect for her sister. "Did you love her?"
"I did… and still do."
She pulled off her jacket before entering Lebreau's café. It was the three year anniversary. In a way, everybody was celebrating. They were celebrating Fang and Vanille saving Cocoon and Pulse. Lightning on the other hand... She was mourning the loss of the only person she'd ever loved. The only person she would ever love. She picked up the drink that Lebreau already had ready for her before going to a booth near the back of the café. While the others were laughing and carrying on, she just needed to be alone.
She stared up at the pillar. Would they ever come back? 'No... they won't... If they do we're all dead. They wouldn't do that...' A tear threatened her eyes. She quickly blinked them away. Alcohol always numbs the pain. For a moment, anyway...
"Do ya miss it?" Fang's voice rang in her ears.
She did miss it. She missed being on Cocoon. What she missed most of all was Fang. She ran her fingers through her wavy hair before leaning on her hand and looking at the pillar in the distance. It was the only spot she ever sat in when visiting the café. It was the most beautiful view. The crystallized Cocoon was seen from everywhere on Gran Pulse. From small settlements thousands of miles away to the darkest reaches.
At night, Lightning always sat down on the roof of the home her, Serah, and Snow shared and just stared at the pillar. She wondered if they were dreaming. She knew that one day, they'd wake up but it wouldn't be in her lifetime. In a way… that broke her heart. Whenever she thought of it, she'd break into tears.
"Whatever happens tomorrow won't change how I feel. Ya hear me?"
Was that still true? After all, what were words if you don't mean them…?
Lightning never told Fang how she felt about her. She just showed it. She should have told her… It was a constant reminder of what happened. She never told Fang that she loved her.
Lightning blinked back the tears, but one escaped. And one onlooker noticed. She walked over to Lightning with more alcohol. "Here, you look like you need it." Lightning looked up just as the woman sat down. Lebreau smiled at her and looked up at the pillar. "You know… Snow told me what happened."
"I don't want to talk about it."
"You're going to. I'm a bartender. That's my job. Listening to other peoples problems. Only difference is, I care about what you say," Lebreau took a sip of her water and leaned back. "Plus, I'm on break. So talk."
"Just leave me alone."
"Obviously, you've been sitting here for an hour looking like a kicked puppy."
Had it been that long?
"Fine, if you're not going to talk, I'll sit here with you until you do. I enjoy silence."
Lightning did too.
"Tell me about her."
Lightning jumped at the sound of Serah's voice. She wasn't expecting anybody to be awake. It was the same routine over the past five years. Wait until Serah and Snow were in bed, then sneak out and sit on the roof for hours – just watching the pillar – looking for any signs of life. "You should be in bed Serah."
"Well so should you Claire. It's 1 AM." The younger woman sat next to Lightning on the rooftop. She'd always been curious to know more about Fang, but never knew how to ask. "So, you can't sleep… I can't sleep… tell me about Fang."
Where should she start? She closed her eyes to gather her thoughts. Granted, she didn't know everything there was to know about Fang, but she knew enough to know that Fang was the one for her. The only one for her. After taking a deep breath to ward away the oncoming tears she began speaking. "We first met in Palumpolum, and I wanted to strangle her with me own two hands." She lifted her hand to her chest and chuckled softly.
"Come on now, don't be shy."
"That definitely sounds like something you'd do sis." Serah carefully rested her head on Lightning's shoulder.
"You know how Vanille was. Fang wasn't… bubbly like her. She was more of a smart ass." Lightning's eyes closed as she remembered all the times she called her that. Fang was. She was the definition of smart ass. "She had no filter. She spoke what was on her mind."
"Surprised she didn't drive you crazy." Serah spoke. There was a tone of laughter in her voice.
"By the time we got to Hope's dad's house, I was ready to cut her to bits. But… there was something else there that I couldn't quite put my finger on. There was something about her that made me smile." Lightning couldn't hide her own smile from forming. It had been months since she last smiled. The last time she was graced with one was when she was cleaning out Fang's old house – now her house – and found an old picture of Fang with Vanille. It was a picture she carried with her everywhere she went now. Wherever she was, the picture wasn't far away.
"By the time we made it to Pulse, things had changed between her and I were starting to change. I felt myself drawn more to her as she was to me. We often went on our nightly patrols together and just talked." The older woman's eyes closed again when she felt tears starting to overflow from her eyes and slide down her cheeks. "She told me all kinds of things from her childhood – growing up on Pulse with Vanille… I found I could tell her anything too. She didn't judge me for leaving you at Lake Bresha like I did. She understood that you were safe and I was trying to save myself."
They stayed like that, sitting on the roof until the sun broke the horizon. Serah listened to everything Lightning told her about Fang. The more she listened, the more she smiled. She'd never heard her sister so happy about anything before. Just listening to the way Lightning described everything to her made her own heart ache for her sister's loss. Serah knew firsthand what true love was. She found it with Snow. And everything that Lightning had told her… it all pointed to just that. True love.
The older woman turned away from the stove to see her sister's 8 year old son come into the kitchen before throwing his back-pack on the table. "What is it Bryson?" She moved one of the pans off the burner before shutting the stove off.
"Well, we had this project in school." He sat down at the table before looking up at his aunt. "They wanted us to talk about our family." He watched the older woman sit down beside him. "But all the other kids aunts and uncles are married. And they laughed at me when I told them you weren't."
Lightning bit her lower lip. She'd already explained everything to Kristy, Bryson's older sister. She knew this day would come where he would ask the same questions she had about 6 years prior. "You'll understand what I'm about to tell you a lot more when you're older. Just like your sister." She glanced over his shoulder just in time to see Kristy come around the corner with a sad smile on her face. It was obvious to Lightning that she'd heard Bryson's question to her.
"Why aren't you married?"
"About 25 years ago, I was in love with someone. Someone I wish you could have met, dear."
"What was his name?"
Lightning let out a small laugh. "Her name was Fang."
"What happened to her?"
The retired soldier let out a heavy sigh before leaning back in her chair. "Have they taught you the story of l'Cie in school yet? About the pillar and why we're all on Pulse now?" He nodded. "So you know that the pillar is actually two people holding up Cocoon from crashing down onto us. Right?" Again he nodded, obviously not following what Lightning was trying to tell him. He knew, through Serah and Snow, that he came from a very special family. His family was responsible for the livelihood they had today. If it wasn't for his dad, or his aunt, he never would have been born. "Fang's in that pillar Bryson."
"But mommy was a crystal too, right? And she woke up. Maybe Fang will wake up some day."
What if Fang did wake up one day? Would she even remember what she told Lightning the day before Orphan? Would she look at her differently now that 25 years have passed? Would she still even remember Lightning? She former soldier reached up to wipe at her eyes – preventing tears from falling that were already forming. "She's holding it up with her sister Vanille. If they wake up… Cocoon could fall."
Lightning pulled her coat tighter around her body as she struggled to make her way to the pillar. She didn't know how much more she'd be able to visit. Each time it was getting harder and harder to get to the pillar. To get to her love. "Hey Fang…" She found her spot along the crystal. The only spot she found she could see Fang inside. "Still in there I see." She smiled sadly before placing a gentle kiss to the blue barrier. "I don't even know if you can hear me in there."
She carefully sat down on the grassy patch near the pillar's base and leaned her forehead against it. The entire time her faded blue eyes remained locked with Fang. "I wish you were here. I had another dream last night. Where we were together. It was our last night together." She felt her lower lip tremble some at the memory. "I wish there could have been more memories like that. More nights like that. But I was too much of a coward." Lightning had since given up on fighting away her tears every time she paid a visit to Fang. "I was too afraid to let my feelings show. So scared of getting hurt. But… you never would have hurt me would you?"
"I don't think you would have…" She paused to wipe at her tear soaked cheeks. "I love you Fang. Why couldn't I say that when we were together? I never stopped loving you." Her eyes closed as she just sat there. It seemed like hours passed before she finally started to stand up. "I miss you so much... Do you know what I'd do to just hear your voice again? What I'd give just to feel your lips on mine again? At least just one last time. I would die happy and content if that was the last thing I were to feel. I love you Fang… I never said it before… because it hurt to not be able to hear it back… I just wish I could hear you say it back." She pressed a lingering kiss to the pillar before slowly walking away from it.
Fang looked up at the sky. She'd been in the same spot for what seemed like hours. Just laying there, on the grass, staring at the sky. Deep down, she hoped that Lightning could forgive her for what happened. It was never her intent to hurt the woman. She loved the woman. But here she was, trapped. She knew there was the opportunity to wake up, but she couldn't do it. Both her and Vanille knew that waking up would break the pillar. Waking up would destroy Pulse and Cocoon, as well as every living being on each of them.
"You miss her." Vanille sat down on the grass beside the older Pulsian and looked down at her.
"I haven't heard her in days Vanille. I used to hear her talking to me every hour."
"She needs you Fang." She carefully laid down next to her sister before placing her head on her shoulder. "You told me what she said to you."
The brunette couldn't help the few tears that broke out of her eyes at just the mere thought of what Lightning had told her. "She said she loves me Vanille."
"I know." The pink haired girl sat up and smiled down at her sister. "That's why you have to go back."
"What?" Fang shot upright and looked straight into Vanille's eyes. "I can't leave ya here."
Vanille just smiled before standing up. "I like it here. I can make this to be anything I want Fang. We've been here before, it's like a dream we can actually control. You have a reason to go back. Lightning needs you… you need her."
Vanille wrapped her arms around the taller woman and pulled her close. "You have to. I'll be okay." She closed her eyes as they began to water. "She needs you more than I do Fang." The only response she got was the body against hers shaking with tears. "Just promise to visit me k?"
"I will." Fang squeezed her sister just a little bit tighter as she felt herself start to fade. "I love ya Vanille."
"Say hi to everybody for me."
Just before vanishing Fang pressed her lips to Vanille's forehead and threw her a soft smile.
"Well that certainly wasn't there before…" Fang spoke to herself as she slowly walked away from the pillar toward a town. A town that looked like an updated Oerba to her. She paused to take in the sight before her. The houses were still there, plus there were several additions. All the roads had been repaired, and there were even cars traveling on them. Something wasn't right. Had she really been in her stasis that long?
She glanced at the people she passed on the street. Nobody paid her any mind as she continued along the once familiar path to her home. A smile grew on her lips when she spotted a familiar man walking toward the front steps of the house, holding the hand of a young girl. "Snow!"
The man stopped, but hesitated in turning around. "I'm sorry?"
Fang paused to get a better look at him. "Snow, it's me."
"My name's Bryson… Snow's my father." He glanced down at the girl by his side. "Go get grandma and grandpa honey." Once the girl bounced away from her father, Bryson stepped closer to the strange woman. "You look familiar to me…" He couldn't quite place it, but he knew he'd seen pictures of her before.
"Bry, what's going on? Alyssa came in saying there was a weird woman talking…" Snow stopped dead in his tracks when his son and Fang came into his view. "Bryson, go inside."
"Dad, what's going on?"
Fang was just as confused as to the older man's changed tone of voice. "Bryson… I'd like to introduce you to Fang. The woman who left your Aunt Claire heartbroken for all these years."
"Aunt Claire?" Fang looked between the younger man, to his father. Had she really been under that long?
"Yea Fang… Aunt Claire." Snow paused for a minute to allow his son to go into the house. He made sure the door was closed before taking a swing at the young woman in front of him. He wasn't able to put much strength behind it, but it was enough to knock her off balance. "You just up and left her. No hesitation. You just walked away from her!"
"I needed to save Cocoon."
"Yea, see what happened to it?" He turned her around and pointed up at the crystallized planet. "Sure saved it alright."
Fang froze in her spot, starring up at the planet, then her eyes lowered to the pillar she just came out of. "How long Snow?" She gingerly rubbed her jaw. It didn't hurt, but she didn't doubt it would leave a small bruise.
He chose to ignore her question. "She went out there to visit you every single week Fang. Did you even know that? Could you even hear her?"
"I heard her every time… She hasn't been out there in days though."
He started laughing softly. "Days Fang? She hasn't been out there in about 4 years."
Everything finally started to register in Fang's mind. Snow's age, the children… That meant Serah had aged as well. If both of them aged, Lightning would be even older than they were. "Is she…?" She closed her eyes to prepare for the worst.
"She's in the hospital…" His tone instantly softened when Fang's facial expression changed. "… Serah's there with her now."
Lightning was still alive. There was a chance that she could see her again. "Can I…" She wasn't even able to finish her sentence before she felt Snow pulling her toward his car.
Fang hesitated some as she followed Snow off the elevator on the fourth floor. She didn't know what to expect when she saw Lightning. "Are you coming?" He spoke over his shoulder when he saw Fang's hesitation.
"Yea." She hurried to keep pace with him. Even at his age, he could still move pretty quickly. She stopped though when she watched him enter a room. As she came to the doorway she could hear the quiet conversation between him and another woman.
She looked up to see Serah. A much older version of the Serah she had seen pictures of. There was a smile on the older woman's face. Before Fang even had a chance to react there was a comforting pair of arms wrapped around her waist. It was much more welcoming than the punch she'd received from Snow. Her attention though, was stuck on the seemingly lifeless body on the hospital bed. "What… what happened?"
Serah turned her head some to look at her sister's pale form. "She had a stroke… a massive one, three days ago. Al-all she does is sleep."
Fang could feel the silent tears sliding down her cheeks as she pulled away from Serah and went to Lightning's bedside. She gently traced her fingers along the back of her love's right hand. The simple touch sent a familiar jolt through her body. Lightning's skin – though aged – felt just the same as it did the night before Orphan. Her focus was entirely on Lightning's sleeping form that she barely noticed Snow and Serah leave the room.
Her eyes never left the woman on the bed as she sat in the chair she can only assume Serah was occupying. "Hey Sunshine…" She whispered. She wanted Lightning to wake up so badly, but didn't want to be the reason she woke from her much needed slumber. "I woke up…" Tears slid freely down her cheeks as her palm laid flat on the back of Lightning's hand before interlocking their fingers together. It was a simple gesture, but one she missed some much. The last time she touched her like that was right before they entered Orphan's Cradle.
A soft groan drew Fang's attention. She lifted her head and found herself looking deep into two very familiar, but faded, blue eyes. "F-Fang? No…" Lightning shook her head some as she closed her eyes. "Dreams… dreams still tormenting me." Her voice was weak and barely above a whisper.
"Hey Lightning." Fang smiled softly, her other hand sliding under to cradle Lightning's with it. "I woke up."
Lightning laid there for several minutes, to the point that Fang thought she fell back to sleep, before she spoke. "I'm… not dr-dreaming?" She slowly opened her eyes and looked right at Fang. The visual was too good for her to be dreaming. If she was dreaming, she wouldn't be able to feel Fang's skin against hers again – a feeling she never forgot.
"No Light… you're not dreamin."
The older woman let out a soft laughter as her eyes closed again, she was weak and she knew it. But she knew she would throw every ounce of strength she had left into this moment. "No… nobody's called me… Light…" she paused to take a few breaths, "in… about 35 years."
"Guess I'll call ya Claire then huh?" Fang pulled her hands away from Lightning's, just long enough to lean on one so she could get a better look at her love's face. Using her other hand she reached up to brush away some silver hair out of her face. "You're still as beautiful as I remember."
"Don't lie to me." Lightning couldn't help the smile that formed on her lips though at hearing Fang's words.
"Now…" The brunette stood from her chair to sit beside Lightning on the bed. "Why… would I lie to you?" The hand she was using to brush stray hair out of her love's face, cupped her cheek instead. "I missed ya Claire." Lightning just smiled. Talking took too much energy out of her. Instead though, she reached up to rest her hand on top of Fang's. "I heard everything ya said to me. Every time you were there… I heard it." She slowly leaned down and placed a kiss on Lightning's forehead before whispering. "And… I love you too." Fang looked into Lightning's eyes before drifting down to press their lips together. There was nothing passionate about it. It was a long, tender kiss that conveyed everything they felt for one another. Even through all the years they were apart.
"I love you." Lightning whispered when their lips finally parted.
"Come on now, don't cry." Fang's voice was just as soft she swiped at Lightning's eyes with her thumb. "Nothing changed how I felt about ya." That simple statement only drew more tears in response.
"Stay with me?" Lightning's eyes closed, she could feel sleep starting to take over her body again. It was the same as it was the last three days, she struggled to stay awake more than a few minutes at a time. "Don't leave me."
Fang placed another soft, lingering kiss on Lightning's lips before sliding back down to the chair. "I just got ya back…"
Lightning forced her eyes to stay open. "I love you."
A joyful smile came to Fang's lips at hearing the words in person. "I love you too Sunshine."
It's been three days since she woke up. She didn't imagine that three days after waking up she'd be sitting at the funeral of the woman she loved with all of her heart. The day she saw her, she felt complete. Her life was complete. She'd gotten to see Lightning one more time. She'd gotten to talk to her one more time. She got… one last day with her. She fell asleep shortly after they shared their words of love. Thing was, she never woke back up. During that night Lightning passed away. She died happy. Content…
Fang took a moment to look around the room she was sitting in. There were so many people around her that she didn't know. But as she looked up at the last few people coming in, she recognized them. Hope was walking toward the front few rows, there was a woman at his side, as well as a younger man that Fang assumed to be his son. Behind them she spotted a man that looked surprisingly like Sazh being pushed in a wheelchair by a man she assumed to be Dajh. She smiled softly at him, she would have thought that the old man would be gone by now.
The last to trickle in were Snow and Serah, surrounded by their children, and their grandchildren. Her eyes locked with Serah's. "What are you doing?" The older woman held out her hand toward Fang. "You sit with us…"
"Are ya sure?"
Serah glared down at her, drawing a small smile from Fang. It was obvious she'd learned that look from Lightning. "It's what Claire would want." She smiled down at Fang when the younger woman finally slipped her hand into her own. She led her to the front row to take a seat.
Fang never let go of Serah's hand throughout the entire service. She also never looked up from her ground near her feet. Now, as she approached the grave… almost everybody had already gone home. She stood at the gravestone, looking down at it. General Claire "Lightning" Farron. Her tears had not stopped since the moment she took Serah's hand and moved to the front row of seats. She'd just gotten Lightning back, and just as quickly as she got her… she was gone again. This time, she was gone for good. There was no waking up to see her again. Lightning wouldn't wake up. Not from this.
"Hey Sunshine." She whispered as she placed her hand on the top of the marble stone. She didn't even know how long she just stood there, crying.
"You really did love my sister… didn't you?"
Fang jumped at the sound of another voice behind her. She turned her head slightly to see Serah approaching, alone. "I did… still do."
"She never loved anybody but you Fang." Serah carefully rested her hand on the younger woman's shoulder.
"Sure she had offers. Someone as beautiful as her… personality of a behemoth, but beautiful."
Serah laughed softly. The laughter brought a smile to Fang's lips, it reminded her of Lightning's laugh. "I can see why you drove her nuts."
"I drove her nuts?" Fang emphasized between bits of laughter. "Think you've got it all wrong there."
A comfortable silence fell between them for several minutes. Until Serah finally spoke again. "Every time she talked about you… I saw something in her that I'd never seen before. Ever." Serah reached up to rest her palm against Fang's cheek. "She was in love with you Fang… Everybody who offered her a date, men or women… she turned them down. Told them her heart belonged to another." She used her thumb to wipe the few tears away from Fang's eyes. "Her heart was yours. Through all these years, it was always yours."
"I shouldn't have waited so long… I should have come back sooner." She shook her head, trying to stop her emotions from taking over.
"What matters Fang… You came back. Claire got to see you one more time. That's all she ever wanted. I'm sure those few hours you were in her room with her, were the happiest ones she'd had in years. You were the last one to see her alive. You were the last one she saw when she was alive. She died happy… Fang… She died knowing that you loved her." Fang just nodded. She knew that she was the last person to see Lightning alive… She already knew all of that, but it didn't make things any less painful for her. "Snow and I are heading back home… don't be a stranger okay? I want to know the person my sister loved for so many years."
"Alright." She nodded softly and watched Serah slowly make her way away from the grave. "I love you Lightning. I always have… and I always will." She leaned down to place a lingering kiss to the top of the polished marble. "I promise to visit. Just like ya did with me through all those years." Her head tilted back and she looked up at the sky. "I don't know if you're watchin me from somewhere up there. But just know… my heart is yours." She wiped at her eyes one last time, thankful the tears had finally stopped. "Guess I got so caught up in the moment of seein ya again… forgot to tell ya Vanille said hi. For all I know you're talkin to her now wherever you are." Fang slowly pulled her hand off the marble. "I promise to be back soon okay? Gotta go visit Vanille before she kills me." She smiled softly.
"I love you."
Yes, it was suppose to be sad. I had to take breaks from writing it because some parts got me all choked up. Hope you enjoyed it :)