Author's note: I remember thinking this area was the most beautiful sight ever after traveling inside that dark maze and endlessly enemy-ridden area just beforehand. And of course, that means a story.
Gran Pulse, with all its monastery horrors and death traps, sure had its glorious sights. Grassy plains that stretched out endlessly for the eyes to strain, mechanical wonders that sparked the imagination of days gone, and Cocoon, spherical and glowing in the sky. Destruction may have destroyed an enormous part of that world and rendered it incomplete, but watching it from such a distance and thinking of all the life continuing to thrive on it made Snow appreciate it more than before. He and his friends had visited some incredible places there.
The crashing waters of Sulyya Springs kept Snow company as he finished his conversation with Serah's crystal. The thrum of the waterfall nearby helped him calm down from monster attacks and think.
Vanille had approached him to chat. He was surprised to learn Vanille had met Serah.
Snow and Vanille were getting underway on the narrow stone paths of the springs when the girl abruptly stopped to stoop near the edge of one of the outcroppings. She peered into the deep, shimmering water.
"What's the matter?" Snow followed her line of sight and saw nothing unusual. In this world, he knew that wasn't true. The water could be a panacea for all he knew. Vanille naturally knew more about Gran Pulse's vegetation and ecosystem than he.
"I saw an Orobon, but it looked different than before."
Snow laughed before he could stop himself. Vanille sounded as if she had only been away for a few weeks instead of a few millennia. Creatures on Gran Pulse would have evolved from her original life here. She returned his chortle with a slightly affronted raised brow. "Sorry. Uh, so what's so strange?"
"There. Doesn't it have a glow to it? I don't remember it lighting up like that." Vanille pointed at a flicker of illumination.
Snow crouched next to her, being a good sport. "How can you remember all the details?" He waited a moment for this mysterious light and he saw it. A dim flash and a ripple of something swimming just beneath the lake's surface. The swimming beastie slipped deeper into the water before Snow could get a clearer view. Dang, it was fast.
Vanille sighed in nostalgia. "It's like an old song you haven't heard in a long time. You forget about it completely when you're busy with everything else and then when you stop the tune pops into your head. You recall everything about it. Tempo, instruments, voice." She closed her eyes. "It's nice to be back even if we have an important mission to complete."
Snow nodded. This world had so many strange beasts and he loved challenging every one of them. "Yep, Gran Pulse is a real beauty."
Opening her bright green eyes, Vanille concentrated hard at her spot again. "I'm not going until I see the Orobon for myself."
He could humor her for a few more minutes. By then, Lightning was likely going to shout at them to haul tush at Sulyya Springs' exit. Fang would undoubtedly put Vanille in a headlock if the brunette had to. Sazh and Hope might give her a chiding look, but Snow doubted Vanille would pay attention to those. Being around Vanille, there was a refreshing lift whenever Snow spoke to her. Maybe they didn't say much before but he was getting used to her bubbly presence.
They searched the gyrating water, waiting for the light to potentially surface. The faint glow shone, only it didn't disappear like previous passes. The illumination remained steady, almost pulsing to a heartbeat. He watched it for a good half minute when it still stayed immobile and didn't give any positive indication that the Orobon was about to come up for air by using its fins. "I think the light show is all we're going to get."
"Shh. If we don't say anything maybe it'll come." Vanille tried to shush him.
With some effort, Snow stayed unspeaking and tried to be patient. He held out for about a minute before he had to blurt out of boredom, "It's not coming. We should go."
When Vanille didn't answer, Snow broke his gaze and let her stare at the teasing swimmer by herself. The movement of light combined with the rippling waves of water was making him a little queasy, so he looked up to the unmoving, clear sky.
He gave her a bit longer with her hope before he cleared his throat. "We should get moving. C'mon." Snow rose to stand and stretched his arms over his head, holding the position as he turned to face behind them. The others should be here soon.
In Snow's periphery, Vanille slowly stood, her head lowered and eyes still trained on the effusing dot in the depths. Snow felt a pang of sympathy. Time had passed so many years for her since her last step on Gran Pulse's world, with familiar animals and environments winking out of existence. She really wanted to see the Orobon, like a kid antsy in line at a roller coaster ride at a theme park.
When Snow thought about it, another visit in the future wasn't impossible. After they saved Cocoon, Vanille could take all day to wait for the Orobon to show itself. Why, she could bring a camera.
Snow heard the shuffle of Vanille's boots. He turned his head to tell her his optimistic plan when he saw Vanille tipping forward to plunge into the cold water.
"Vanille!" Snow spun around. He grabbed her arm and it was his motion that snapped her out of her reverie. Vanille shrieked and tried to hold on with her other arm. Her jerk in weight drove Snow down to his knees and her legs dunked into the shallow lake with a splash.
The water came up to her waist so she wasn't drowning, thankfully. Snow breathed out in relief.
Her face scrunched at the numbing temperature and Snow speedily pulled her out. The sopping wet woman groaned in frustration and started to halfheartedly squeeze out her skirt. "What happened?"
How could she not know? "Why did you want to jump in? You're nuts!"
"I didn't! I was thinking about a memory I had with an Orobon, but I didn't plan to hop in. The light was so pretty. I wanted to keep looking at it."
Snow glanced dubiously out in the water and noticed a luminescent plant floating which wasn't there earlier. "That must be it."
Vanille saw what he meant and stamped her foot with an airy squish. "I can't believe I did that. The Orobon doesn't glow, like I thought. Fang is gonna yell if she sees me like this! Oh, but maybe not if I dry quickly. Hold on a sec." Without reservation, she slid off her damp footwear and her waterlogged pouch belt and dropped them at her feet. She then hurriedly reached to pull down her furry skirt.
"Whoa, warn a guy first!" Snow jerked his head sideways, feeling a flare of heat rise up his neck.
"Sorry." Heavy dripping splattered the ground as Vanille presumably wrung out her heavy skirt. "This dress is my favorite. I defeated the bear this pelt is from." Pride bloomed in her statement.
Impressed and very curious for battle details, Snow faced her without thinking. Vanille, not the speed dresser and still in her underwear, squeaked in embarrassment. Snow slapped his gloved hand over his eyes. "Sorry!"
He heard her giggle amidst the shuffling and wringing. "What's wrong? Don't like girls?"
"I like them just fine, thank you very much." Snow heard Vanille cast a wind spell and felt a gust blow past him. The rattle of beads came next. "Done yet?"
"Almost." The whiz of cords from her rod confused Snow, but then Vanille chirped an ok.
He moved his hand off his face and Vanille was dressed and in front of him. In her hands, she held out the problematic flora. "Thanks for your help."
Snow didn't have any use for a flower, but he didn't want to be completely rude and reject it. Vanille could tell, for she added, "When we're in a really dark area, I'll be looking your way for it. If I don't see it, you're in trouble and I'll come find you."
"Nice security measure." Snow chuckled. Vanille's face beamed in delight as he stored it away. "All right, shall we go before we get chewed out with stern voices?"
"Ooh, we don't want that." Vanille hopped into step next to him and they continued on their way.
- THE END -