Author's Note: This was an actual scene of the game (although you have to go back to 700AF New Bodhum after you beat the game to see it), and it stuck with me ever since I saw it. It's a very powerful thing when characters are faced with a consequence of their actions, but choose to do it anyway for the better good. I did take a few creative liberties with this, so it isn't script-comparable, but I figured you guys wouldn't care too much.

Disclaimer: I don't own FFXIII-2

I Regret Nothing

It was the glint of gold that caught her eye first; the refracting of light in radial motions that told her this was a special fragment.

"Look," Serah said, pointing as Mog's crystal began to flicker. "Why didn't we see this here before?"

"It was hidden, kupo," Mog said, floating toward the slight outline of a hovering cube. "We couldn't see it until after Lightning left, kupo."

Noel grinned, the corner of his lips tilted upwards in a lopsided shape that Serah secretly loved. "Do you want to do us the honors?" He asked the moogle, motioning with one hand towards the fragment.

Mog nodded, and Serah watched him wave his little wand, performing the same action he had done to many fragments countless times before. When the box appeared, fully-formed and tangible, Serah stepped forward to open it. A recording device toppled into her hands, and Mog and Noel leaned in to peer at it.

"Looks like something from Academia," Mog observed. He put out a small arm to poke at it. "Very futuristic, kupo!"

"Why is it here?" Noel mused.

At the sound of Noel's voice, a light blinked on and a recording stuttered to life. Suddenly Noel's voice, magnified through the speakers on the machine, filled the air.

Hey, Noel. You're not going to believe this, but this is a message from you.

"Of course I don't believe it!" Noel exclaimed, disbelief written all over his face. "I never left myself-"

"Shh!" Serah gently pressed her fingers over his mouth, trying hard not to smile at his reaction.

I'm just a little further ahead in the timeline than where you are now, the recording said, and Noel and Serah's expressions grew serious.

I've got a warning for you, my past self. Things are going to get a lot harder from here on out.

Something happened that nearly broke me.

Just remember to hang in there, no matter what. You just might surprise yourself; you're a lot tougher than you think.

They waited several seconds for more, but nothing came. "Kupopo," Mog said quietly, looking up at Noel.

"That... sounded bad," Serah said slowly.

Noel scowled at the worry on her face. "Hey, I'm not even sure if that was a message from me. How do we know we can trust it?"

She glanced sidelong at him. "But it was your voice and everything."

Noel crossed his arms. "But maybe it's a trap, or-or something. I mean, I'm not the type of person to look back like that."

The chilling words were still echoing in Serah's head. One look at Noel told her that he was secretly unnerved by the message, too. With an effort, Serah smiled at him. "That may be true," she said, amusement in her voice, "but if you can't trust yourself, who can you trust?"

Noel sighed. "I trust you."

Serah ducked her head, blushing when she realized how happy she was to hear that small admission. "Well, I am choosing to believe the future Noel," Serah said, enclosing his hand with both of hers, "because I know that he's right: you're a strong person."

"You're too generous, Serah." Noel cleared his throat and looked away from Mog's bemused expression, where he floated a few feet away. "And just so you know, I'm going to take your word for it, not mine."

Serah bobbed her head in one decisive motion. "That's good enough for me."

They made their way across the beach under the scorched palm trees, in direction of the gate. Serah was trying hard to ignore the sea debris that crunched under her feet; she didn't like seeing the little hermit crabs and salt-water crustaceans shriveled inside their shells.

"Kupo! Kupo, kupo!" Mog called flying towards another glint of gold. "Something else is hidden here, kupo!"

Noel let out his breath in relief. "Good, something to distract us."

This time, when Serah opened up the revealed fragment box, a small sheet of paper slipped out. Noel caught it before it reached the ground, and as Serah took it into her hands, she felt a small flicker of familiarity.

"I carry some paper just like this," she murmured, fingering the corner of the thin paper. "Just for notes, so I don't forget anything."

"Maybe it's a note from you, kupo," Mog said. Noel shot the moogle a dark look, but the moogle continued, "maybe it's from the future you. A future Serah."

"Serah," Noel interjected, "if you don't want to, you don't need to-"

"No, I think Mog's right." She brushed a hand over the stream of letters, all written in the Cocoon alphabet. "If I went to the trouble to write this, then... I think I need to read it."

Noel looked away, and then turned back to look at her, unable to divert himself for long. Mog hovered over Serah's shoulder, waiting.

Serah looked back at the paper and read slowly.

I don't know where I am. I can't hear anything. I can't see anything. It's cold, and dark, and I'm all alone.

This place is... dead.

But I don't have any regrets. I fought to the end. I never ran away.

I just hope someone will remember me, now that I'm gone.

Noel let out his breath in a long, audible sigh. Mog slowly dropped a few inches, his crystal bobble drooping over his head sadly. Serah lowered the paper. "Our future doesn't look very bright, does it?" She asked quietly.

The look on her face sent shivers down Noel's back. "Damn it, I knew we shouldn't have read it," he said, running a hand through his hair. "Serah, I... you shouldn't believe it. I mean, true, that could happen in a possible future, right?" He strode to her and took the letter, stuffing it hurriedly into the pouch that hung at his waist. "But we're here to change that! We're trying to make a new future, one that isn't filled with such sadness."

She swallowed and nodded, her lashes hiding her eyes.

"Serah." Noel took her by the shoulders and squeezed gently, feeling the small bones beneath her skin. She was so fragile, this girl. He was her protector. He was going to protect her. "Serah," he said softly, "this isn't our fate. Do you hear me? We will not live in that future."

Slowly she looked up at him, and for a brief moment he saw a rare glimpse of her fear, her innocence, her vulnerability. Then she smiled, just like she always did, just to put him at ease. "You're right, Noel," she said. "I'm sorry... you're right, we will change the future."

Suddenly, in that moment, Noel knew without a doubt what could break him. His hands tightened on her arms. "Serah..." He began, but couldn't finish.

Serah, stay with me.

I can't live in a future without you, smiling at me just like this.


Don't leave me.

"Noel?" Serah was blinking up at him.

"The gate is nearby, kupo," Mog said, turning to point with his wand. "We need to stop Caius soon, kupo!"

"Are you alright?" Serah tilted her head to look up into Noel's eyes. "We could take a break for a bit, if you're tired."

The words stuck in Noel's throat. "N-No, I... I'm fine."

He pasted a smile on his face-even though everything was not fine, not at all-and carefully uncurled his hands from Serah's shoulders. He opened up his hands and, wondering if he would ever be this close to her or touch her in the same way again, he let her go.