A/n: This little story popped into my head when I realized just what stereotype Noel would appear to fit. Serah, being the extraordinary girl she is though, knows better. I hope you enjoy this. Thanks for reading, and leave a review if you like!

Serah stretched her arms high above her head and gave a blissful sigh. This place was beautiful - full of greenery and giant blooms. There wasn't a cloud in the sky either, and the air felt good just to breathe in.

Hope had yet to arrive back from a survey site and they needed to speak with him, so they were just waiting around, time ticking on without them. It was one of the few true moments of rest they'd had so far, and this was the absolute perfect place to have it.

Noel was straight ahead in her line of vision, shouting distance away. He was running his fingers through a chocobo's plumage, and the chocobo was clearly enjoying it, tail wagging in contentment. Mog bobbed around Noel's head, observing.

"Hey, Serah. Could I ask you something?"

Serah looked over from Noel to a young scientist she and Noel had spoke with a few times before. She couldn't remember his name, but it felt impolite to tell him so. "Sure," she replied, doing her best to smile and ensure him that she was a good person, since she'd likely ask what his name was at the endof this conversation.

His voice shook. Nervous? "Why... why are you with him?"

She was momentarily confused. But then she realized that the only him that the scientist could be referring to was Noel.

Now, why was she with Noel? He came through a time gate per request of her sister, believed her about Lightning being alive, taught her how to fight so she could travel the timeline... He also came from a dying future in which he was the last human alive, was somehow connected to the man who seemed to be their nemesis, was fiercely protective of her personally...

How could she even begin to answer?

Luckily, she didn't have to. The scientist continued to speak, "You're a teacher, right? So why are you going out with someone... like him?"

Her eyebrows came down over her eyes, arching deeply. Never mind the assumption that she and Noel were dating or what-have-you. Many people had made the assumption, and she was used to it. What got her was- "Someone like him?" What did that mean?

The scientist hemmed and hawed a bit before elaborating. He kept his gaze on Noel, a mixture of fear and disdain on his face. "He's just the kind of guy that used to pick on me in school," the scientist said. When Serah raised an eyebrow, he continued, "The- the popular guy. With the muscles and the good looks and his parent's money. Everything handed to him. Except for brains."

As the scientist said all of this, looking at Noel, she looked too. Noel was holding court with three chocobos now, two enjoying his petting and the third sniffing at the pouch she knew he kept Gysahl greens in. Mog hesitantly reached out to touch one of their beaks, and it reacted by bucking Mog about ten feet up the canyon. Noel gave one short laugh before reaching up to catch the stunned, falling moogle. She felt a smile come to her face.

It wasn't just that, though. It was his ability to smile, laugh and joke despite all that he'd lost. It was the soft looks he gave her when she talked about Lightning. It was how he stood there, eyes darting every which way, thinking about how to solve time rifts (which she personally thought required a bit of brains). It was even the disapproval with which he spoke of Snow, forcing her to examine what was really there. It was how he helped her grow.

She stood, dusting off the seat of her dress.

"H-hey, Serah?" the young scientist said, waiting for an answer.

She turned to him and did her best to smile. He had no idea, and it was a terrible pity for him. She shook her head. "I'm sorry," she told him. Then she turned back to the canyon stretching out in front of her, trained her eyes on Noel, and began to walk.