Episode 1: A Lesson in FLight Biology
Welcome to the first episode of "The Secret Life of FLight." I am Dr Oerba Dia Vanille, and over the next few weeks, I will be taking you deep into the dark depths of the FLight ecosystem. You will discover things that frighten and things that amaze. But above all, you will discover that real life truly is stranger than fiction.
However, it is important to remember that I am an experienced researcher. Both the Fang and the Lightning are renowned for their capacity for violence and general meanness. The Lightning in particular is a creature of rare and impeccable cruelty when she puts her mind to it. If either of these deadly predators selects you as prey, you are almost certainly dead. Only a chosen few can expect to observe the Fang and the Lightning and expect to tell the tale.
In other words, do not try this at home. If you really must observe the Fang and the Lightning, then I would recommend a high-powered telescope or set of binoculars. Avoid close quarters contact at all costs. Should you obtain any interesting footage, please do forward it to the following email address:
And finally, before we begin, I would like to say a little something about piracy: pirate this film as much as you possibly can. Make sure that everyone you know watches it. Both the Fang and the Lightning are stubborn and emotionally dense. Only repeated exposure to romantic stimuli will be able to produce the desired outcome. If you are caught, claim that Serah Farron made you do it. The Serah is one of only a handful of creatures capable of disabling the Lightning and charming the Fang.
Above all, deny my involvement.
X X X
The key to any safari is preparation. Failure to properly prepare is responsible for at least 92% of all fatalities in FLight related research. As such, my first step is to ensure my own survival. In this respect, acquiring minions must be one of my key objectives.
"Come on, Sazh." Vanille threw herself at the ground in dramatic fashion. The dark-skinned man tried to escape, but she latched onto his ankle. "You have to help. Both Fang and Lightning respect you. Don't you want them to get together and have totally awesome kids?"
"Look, I'm not related to either of them and that means they will kill me if I mess with them." Sazh tried to pry Vanille off his leg and failed. Damn, she had a strong grip. Short of beating her over the head with a wrench, he was probably stuck with her until she decided to let go. He eyed the wrench on the table nearby… he could always heal her after he'd pried her off, but no… no, he was supposed to be the sane one. And sane people did not go around hitting other people over the head with wrenches, even if they were extremely clingy red heads that probably deserved it. "Do you want me to die, Vanille? Because that's what will happen if I get involved."
"But, come on!" Vanille tightened her hold on Sazh's ankle with one hand as she jabbed her other hand at Snow and Hope. "They're helping."
"Yeah, and they're both going to end up dead." Sazh looked around. If he couldn't use a wrench, maybe he could find a crowbar. His eyes widened as he spotted the camera. "Are you recording this?"
"Well, yeah." Sazh took one step toward the camera, and Vanille abandoned his ankle in favour of wrapping her arms around her camera. "Someone needs to. It's for science."
"Yeah." Vanille smiled beatifically, and Sazh could almost hear the toll of wedding bells as she prepared to launch into what was sure to be another long, detailed explanation of why Fang and Lightning were perfect for each other. So long as she didn't draw any frighteningly accurate diagrams of why they were sexually compatible, he would probably be able to ignore her. "I'm telling you, it's for science. Both Fang and Lightning are almost guaranteed to be highly influential in the years to come. A proper understanding of their decisions – decisions that could influence all of Gran Pulse for years to come – can only be achieved if we have a solid grasp of their psychology, which includes the interpersonal dynamics of their romantic liaisons."
"You just made that up right now, didn't you?" Sazh ran one hand through his hair and scowled at Serah. "And what do you think about this? Please tell me you're not buying into her craziness."
"I think my sister has every right to be happy, and if Fang can make her happy, I'm all for it." Serah folded her arms over her chest and levelled a very Lightning-like glare at Sazh. "Or don't you think my sister deserves to be happy? Maybe you'd like it if she remained lonely and grouchy for the rest of her life."
"That's not what I meant, and you know it." Sazh knew they were trying to guilt him into cooperating, and he refused to let it work. "I understand that you want Lightning and Fang to be happy, but stalking them with a camera is not going to help." He looked directly into the camera. "And please, if they end up watching this, let them known I had nothing to do with it. That's right, Lightning, Fang, if you're watching this, I was not involved."
"Meanie." Vanille jabbed one finger at him. "I bet you'll try and take credit if it works."
"Oh no, I'm staying as far away from this as I can. Besides, how are you going to keep Lighting from killing the camera?"
"That's easy." Vanille slung one arm around Serah's shoulders and took a close up of the pink haired woman's face. She may also have slipped in a close up of Serah's cleavage too. "Serah here may have mentioned to Lightning that she bought me an advance Christmas present: this brand new camera. Lightning might not like the camera, but there's no way she'll break something that Serah gave me. As for Fang, if she gets mad, I'll just pretend to cry or something."
"You are one evil woman." Sazh shook his head. "Remind me never to cross you."
"You just did." Vanille cackled and then turned to Hope and Snow. "I'll be counting on you two to get me extra footage. It'll be too suspicious if I try and follow Lightning everywhere, but between the two of you it should be okay. Try and drop some hints too." She glared at Snow. "And try to be smarter about it."
"Hey!" Snow held up his hands. "I was only trying to help."
"You told Lightning that Fang was, and I quote, 'An awesomely hot lady in search of some pink haired companionship for the night.' Do you know what Lightning did? She came home and tried to beat the crap out of Fang. She thought Fang was trying to hit on Serah." Vanille made a disgusted sound. "Okay, sure, only someone with the emotional density of a lump of lead would think that, but it's Lightning we're dealing with. You need to be more obvious, as in blindingly obvious. Next time, just tell her that Fang wants her."
"Uh…" Snow winced. "I think she'll kill me if I say that."
"You're sleeping with her sister. If she hasn't killed you for that, she's not going to kill you." Vanille sighed. Hope had his hand raised. "Yes, Hope?"
"Couldn't we try being subtler? Maybe we could try locking them in an elevator or something."
"I tried that already. They got out in less than two minutes."
"How about a closet?"
"Fang summoned Bahamut."
"Oh." After everything Lightning had done for him, Hope wanted Lightning to be happy. He also happened to be a teenage boy, and it was getting increasingly awkward to watch Lightning and Fang whenever they were in the same room. It was like they could jump each other at any moment. And while he was a little worried about how much violence would probably be involved, he would have been lying if he said that a little part of him wasn't also hoping he was around to see it happen. Sure, they'd kill him later, but they might be so occupied with each other that he'd get to… well, watch. Okay, maybe it was creepy, but he was a teenage boy, damn it, and there was only so much he could take before his mind went back into the gutter.
"As you can see, Hope, they don't deal well with subtle." Vanille raised one fist at the sky. "We have to show them both how stupid they're being. Only then will they acknowledge their true feelings."
Serah nodded and joined Vanille in staring off into the distance, presumably at the bright future that awaited them. "Giving us ultimate victory and finally getting my sister to be less cranky."
Hope's brows furrowed. "What?"
Snow patted the younger man on the shoulder. "What Serah means is that Lightning might be less of a jerk if she got laid. Like, a lot."
"Oh." Hope forced himself not to picture it. And failed. "Makes sense."
"Good. Then we're all agreed." Vanille stretched her hand out and waited for all of the others to put their hands on top of hers. "Tomorrow it begins. On the count of three… one, two, three… FLight!"
Sazh watched all of this unfold with a growing sense of impending doom. Quietly, he went out of the room. He came back with Dajh. The boy gave all of them a sunny smile.
"My dad has something he wants me to say to the camera."
"You have a message for Fang and Lightning?" Vanille grinned. "How cute."
Sazh put his hands on Dajh's shoulders and looked deep into his son's eyes. "Okay, son. Say it just like I taught you."
Dajh stared into the camera and smiled as cutely as he could manage. "Aunt Fang, Aunt Lightning, please don't kill my dad. He had absolutely nothing to do with Aunt Vanille and Aunt Serah's plans. I love him very much, and I would be very sad if he got mangled."
"Do the rest." Sazh gestured for his son to continue.
"If you're angry, please don't take it out on my dad. Instead, you can beat up Uncle Snow and Uncle Hope. They were both in on it."
Sazh hugged his son. "You're such a good boy, Dajh."
"Uh, thanks, dad." Dajh wrapped his arms around Sazh's middle. "Can we go get ice cream?"
"Anything for my boy."
"Wait!" Vanille hurried after the pair. "I want ice cream too!"
X X X
In order to understand the Lightning, it is necessary to observe her in her natural habitat. This can often be quite treacherous, as the Lightning prefers a life of danger and excitement. Many a FLight biologist has been wounded trying to keep up.
Nevertheless, we begin early on a Saturday morning. As the rest of New Bodhum slumbers, the Lightning arises early so that it can further hone its already imposing physical abilities. To better understand the Lightning, I had no choice but to arise early as well.
"Ugh…" Vanille rolled over at glared at the clock on her bedside table. 5:30 AM. Was that even a real time? Lightning was a monster. That was the only explanation for how she could get up at 5:30 AM on a Saturday morning to go jogging. It wasn't enough that Lightning spent most of her week patrolling and killing things. No, she had to run a few miles every Saturday, to boot.
Vanille scrubbed at her face. She shouldn't have stayed up so late hanging out with the others, but a little jog couldn't be that hard. She wasn't soft like the people of Cocoon. She'd lived her whole life on Gran Pulse, and she could keep up with anything that Lightning could dish out.
Besides, the whole morning jog thing was yet another one of the little conflicts that punctuated Fang and Lightning's relationship. Lightning couldn't do normal things like invite Fang to a movie or dinner. No, Lightning was very much into activities that didn't require a great deal of talking or emotional intimacy. Jogging was right near the top of her list, but Fang absolutely refused to drag herself out of bed this early on a Saturday morning. Lightning thought it was stubborn, but Vanille had to admit that Fang had a point. It was common sense. Saturday was for sleeping – the two words even began with the same letter, just like Sunday and sleeping.
However, Fang might change her mind if she had a chance to see Lightning in her exercise clothes. Vanille giggled. She'd seen Lightning's exercise clothes in the laundry a few times, and they were definitely the kind of thing that Fang would appreciate. To be honest, though, Fang probably would have thought Lightning was sexy in a paper bag.
Vanille slipped on a t-shirt, a pair of shorts, and some running shoes then headed downstairs. Despite how sleepy she was, she managed to negotiate the corridor and stairs without tripping over and breaking her neck, all while carrying her camera. Then it was time to head into the kitchen to make some coffee.
She was so into making the coffee that she never heard someone else come into the kitchen until someone tapped her on the shoulder.
"Take this burglar!" Vanille cried as she spun and threw a wild, haymaker of a punch.
Lightning didn't even both to dodge the attack. Instead, she caught Vanille' fist in one of her hands and used the other to keep Vanille from spilling her coffee. "Calm down." Her eyes narrowed. "Are you bringing a camera with us?"
Vanille took a big swig of her coffee. Ah, enough caffeine to kill a horse – exactly how she liked it. A wide grin spread across her lips as she studied Lightning. The pink haired woman looked… delicious. Wearing some wonderfully short shorts that showed off her long, toned legs, Lightning completed the sporty look with a grey tank top and black sports bra. Her hair was tied back into a loose ponytail, and her blue eyes were cool, calm, and alert. Perfect – for Fang that is.
"I'm doing a project." Vanille lifted the camera and pointed it at Lightning. "I need to keep track of what I do during the week, so I thought I'd bring it along."
Lightning scowled. "You better not point that thing at me."
"Relax, this isn't about you." Vanille had already gotten a nice close up of Lightning's face. Ah, the other woman had a wonderful profile up against the darkness beyond the kitchen window. Really, Lightning was quite photogenic when her expression wasn't one of murderous rage. Vanille stepped back and tracked Lightning as she stepped toward the corridor. For a moment, Lightning was silhouetted against the corridor light, all slim waist, womanly hips, and full bust. Hehehehe… once she saw this, Fang would be dying to get up early in the morning. "Pretend that the camera isn't here."
Lightning's eyes narrowed ominously. She took one step toward Vanille and then another. The red head found herself backing up until she was pressed against the fridge. Lightning was only a foot away now, and Vanille tried to get a shot of her chest before Lightning made a grab for the camera. "Give me the camera, Vanille."
Against the Lightning, relying on mere physical force is a recipe for disaster. Instead, the cunning researcher must rely on their wits and guile. As an expert in FLight biology, I am well versed in the techniques required to survive prolonged periods of close observation. In this case, observe how the Lightning is able to adopt a highly attractive physical appearance without conscious effort. Indeed, the Lightning has become a welcome sight to many of the early rising creatures of New Bodhum. It is not unusual for the Lightning to receive attention from both males and females during her morning jog. So far, all such attempts have failed.
But to return to the problem at hand, the key to surviving the Lightning's ire is to invoke the Serah, her only known blood relative. The Serah is an altogether friendlier species, and any attempts to approach the Lightning should always be preceded by approaching the Serah. If necessary, the Serah is perhaps the only species capable of offering shelter to unfortunate researchers that have roused the Lightning's fury.
"You can't have it. I need it." Lightning made another grab for the camera, and Vanille played her trump card. "It's a present from Serah, you know, She'd be so disappointed if something happened to it."
Lightning's jaw clenched, but Vanille knew she'd won. "Fine. But if I catch you zooming in on my ass or something stupid like that, I'll arrest you. Are we clear?"
"Crystal clear." Vanille adjusted the camera. She wasn't zooming in on Lightning's ass – although it was, by all objective standards, a very nice ass. No, she was zooming in on Lightning's legs.
"Let's go then." Lightning eyed the two cups of coffee that Vanille had somehow managed to consume during their exchange. "I hope you can keep up."
"Hah." Vanille puffed out her chest. "I'll have you know, I was raised on Gran Pulse. I might not be a Yun, but I can definitely hold my own."
It took Vanille a grand total of ten minutes to realise how wrong she was.
"I think I'm going to die." Vanille gasped and fought to keep the camera steady. That was easier said than done. Anyone viewing the footage later would probably get motion sickness.
Jogging wasn't that bad, but what Lightning did wasn't jogging. The soldier started off at something close to a flat out run and maintained that pace without once breaking her stride. And what a stride it was. Vanille could understand now why Fang spent so much time at the Guardian Corps training facility gawping at Lighting like a lovesick puppy. The older Farron truly was poetry in motion, and Vanille would have taken more time to admire her if her lungs hadn't been so set on exploding.
On the upside, Vanille had managed to catch quite a few good shots of Lightning in between coughing her lungs out and trying not to die of a heart attack. She glanced down at the camera. Yep, Fang would definitely –
"Vanille!" Lightning barked. "Watch out for that –"
When Vanille regained conscious, Lightning was kneeling over her. The soldier had dragged her off the sidewalk and onto a nearby bench so that she could heal her. Acutely aware of the in pain her face, Vanille was content to lay back and let Lightning do her thing. At the same time she was glad to angle the camera – thankfully undamaged and still taping – up to catch the expression on Lightning's face – a look of bemused, gentle affection mixed with no small amount of exasperation and love.
Although a predator of terrible ferocity, The Lightning is also capable of great gentleness. However, this side of the Lightning is only revealed to a select few: those that she considers family. The Hope, for example, has long been under the Lightning's protection, and it is not unusual to find her acting in manner similar to a parent. Even the Snow – long an enemy of the Lightning – is treated with some measure of kindness after demonstrating his willingness to protect the Serah.
The Lightning, therefore, does not easily form relationships with others, but once formed, those bonds are close to unbreakable. Any injury to those the Lightning deems her family will result in her entering "super crazy, overprotective mode" in which any perceived enemy will be immediately mangled and the wounded loved one offered pampering and protection unrivalled in New Bodhum.
Vanille allowed herself a few moments to savour the warmth radiating from Lightning's back as the other woman jogged back home while giving Vanille a piggyback. Vanille might have feigned a little bit of dizziness to hitch a ride, but she wasn't about to turn down an opportunity to get carried home. It didn't hurt that she got to record the whole way too. Lightning might try to strangle her on a regular basis, but Vanille knew she cared. And Vanille knew from experience that Fang awarded about a billion bonus points to anyone who looked after her little sister.
Not that Lightning needed the bonus points. Just being Lightning pretty much maxed out her score. Well, almost. A naked Lightning would probably score even higher.
X X X
Vanille was somehow miraculously healed the moment they got home. Limping away while Lightning was in sight, she skipped back to her room the moment she heard the soldier start up her shower. If Serah were around, she would have tried to get the younger Farron to "accidentally" wander into the shower with the camera. As it was, she'd have to leave that for another day. Lightning might have come to see her as a little sister of sorts, but Vanille had a long, long way to go before Lightning cut her the kind of slack that Serah got.
Besides, it was time to get some footage of Fang. Vanille might be a little bit biased, but she thought her older sister was a definite ten out of ten. The only problem was that Lightning was too dense to notice. Well, by the time Vanille was finished filming, Lightning would be all over Fang.
For a second, Vanille spaced out. She could see it now: Fang and Lightning living in a big house with a white picket fence. They'd have at least two children. One would be a bit grumpy like Lightning, and the other would be more like Fang. And Vanille… Vanille would be the happy-go-lucky aunt who got to stuff the kids full of sugar and mischief and then ship them back to Fang and Lightning to worry about.
With one hand over her mouth to muffle her cackles, Vanille crept over to Fang's door.
Although a mighty predator, unmatched in wit and snark, the Fang is ill suited to the demands of early rising. Attempts to rouse the Fang can often be quite dangerous. Only two things can be counted on to draw the Fang from her lair early on a weekend morning: the Vanille – the prettiest, smartest, and most engaging of the creatures of New Bodhum – and the promise of a delicious breakfast.
In the past, the Lightning used to try and awaken the Fang. However, such attempts came to a close upon the Lightning's discovery that the Fang often slept naked. In keeping with the customs of the Yun clan, the Fang is both proud of her body and unashamed of showing it off. Indeed, there is good reason for this. The Fang has quite a remarkable body and is extremely good at choosing attire that will flatter it. However, some species, most notably the Lightning, have raised objections to this behaviour.
Interestingly, although the Lightning will regularly scold and otherwise attempt to verbally mangle the Fang for not dressing more demurely around the house, she will, nevertheless, do her fair share of the ogling. I hypothesise that the Lightning's complaints are largely the result of her actually enjoying the sight of the Fang prancing about half-naked but being unable to make an advance without stuttering and blushing like a schoolgirl. As a FLight biologist, the sight of the mighty Lightning reduced to such a state is both intriguing and hilarious. Furthermore, the sight of a rosy-cheeked Lightning has only served to encourage the Fang's behaviour.
The inside of Fang's room was exactly what Vanille had come to expect: the opposite of Lightning's room. On the rare occasions that she'd managed to sneak into Lightning's room – and during the even rarer occasions when she'd been invited in – the soldier's room had been a paragon of obsessive tidiness and order. Everything had its own place. Everything was tidy. And even the dust was too scared to settle anywhere Lightning might notice.
Fang wasn't exactly messy, but her version of order was a great deal looser than Lightning's. Everything had its place – either under something else or tucked away in a manner that only Fang could understand.
The Fang is fiercely protective of her lair. Her possessions are often organised in a manner that makes no logical sense to the outside observer. Attempts to fiddle with this order or redecorate are generally met with extreme hostility and biting witticisms. Even the Vanille – wisest and noblest of the creatures of Gran Pulse – cannot convince the Fang to change her ways. Despite regularly complaining about misplacing her belongings, the Fang will insist that her lair is, in fact, well organised.
Every now and then, the Lightning will be unable to tolerate the disorganisation of the Fang's lair. The Lightning will then attempt to institute a more rigid system of organisation. Such efforts are typically met with strong resistance, which lasts until the Lightning shows up in cleaning clothes. Such clothes typically involve short shorts, tank tops, and possibly a tight apron. At that point, the Fang's resistance will mysteriously vanish, and the Fang will become remarkably helpful.
The only island of order in the room was the corner where Fang put her weapons. Fang might be untidy about some things, but she didn't cut any corners when it came to her weapons. Each was polished almost to a glow, and each was kept in perfect working order. Unfortunately, everything else was… well… less than organised.
Vanille crept toward the bed. Fang had left some more of her clothes on the floor, a few of them only inches from the basket that Lightning had labelled 'the laundry basket.' It was the sort of thing that drove Lightning insane, and Vanille wondered how much of it was unintentional and how much it was because Fang liked the way Lightning looked when she was on the warpath.
The look on Lightning's face the last time she'd stomped in to berate Fang only to find the huntress asleep and very naked had been priceless. Vanille had maintained a discrete eye on things from her bedroom down the corridor. Lightning had stumbled out of Fang's room with the biggest blush Vanille had ever seen. Then, she'd proceeded to yell threats through the door before sneaking one last look and then running for it. Lightning liked to think that she was a perfectly upstanding, moral member of the Guardian Corps, but Vanille knew better. Lightning was a pervert – but only when it came to Fang.
But Fang's nudity didn't bother Vanille. Not only did Vanille happen to appreciate the female form, she'd also grown up with Fang. She was used to it. Any ogling she might do would be down right weird. It would be like Lightning getting off on seeing Serah naked – wait. Not the best comparison. Vanille definitely didn't have a fixation on her sister, but she was pretty sure that Lightning did.
In any case, all the ruckus that had come from Lightning seeing Fang naked the last time had led to House Rule #11: Whenever Fang has to be woken up, Vanille has to do it.
"Fang." Vanille kept the camera focused on Fang's face. The huntress looked so adorable cuddled up to her pillow, and Vanille didn't want to scare Lightning off by showing anything too explicit. Besides, if her plan worked, Lightning would be managing that part on her own, sooner rather than later. "It's time for breakfast."
The smell of pancakes had started to drift up from downstairs. Ah, Lightning, so good at everything. No wonder Fang was in love.
"Go away. Sleeping." Fang grabbed her blanket and pulled it over herself in a pathetic bid to block out Vanille's voice. Vanille responded by zooming in on the cute, little pout on Fang's face. How could Lightning resist that?
"I can't do that." Vanille put the camera down and used both hands to yank the blanket away. Fang tumbled to the ground. "It's time for breakfast, and if you don't eat your food, I will."
"You're an evil, little monster, you know that, right?" Fang shot Vanille a dirty look and fumbled for some clothes. "If you weren't my sister, I would definitely spear you."
"But I am your sister, so you won't."
"Is that a camera?" Fang was suddenly wide-awake, her green eyes narrowed in suspicion until another yawn ruined the look.
"I'm working on something, so I need to record everything I do for the next week or so." Vanille smiled innocently. "I got it from Serah."
"Did you, now?" Fang tugged on some underwear, a pair of shorts, and a baggy t-shirt that seemed to show more than it hid. "Why do I get the feeling that this is another one of your crazy schemes? I bet you're going to do something nuts like try and use all this footage to get Lightning and me together."
"Wait…" Fang's eyes widened. "Are you actually –"
The Fang is a deadly predator, cunning and blessed with incredible strength, speed, and agility. However, it is the Fang's instincts that are truly dangerous. Capable of smelling trouble from miles away and seeing through the most complex schemes in moments, the Fang has only one weakness: she is highly susceptible to emotional pressure from those she considers family. This is a critical weakness, one that I, Oerba Dia Vanille, have often taken advantage of during my career as a FLight biologist.
"I can't believe you think I'd do something like that." Vanille sniffled and covered her face with her hands. Moments later, her shoulders began to shake. "Don't you trust me, Fang?"
Fang waved her hands around. "Uh… of course, I trust you." She paused. "But you do scheme a lot and –"
"I'm your sister!" Vanille wailed and threw herself onto Fang's bed. "I only want what's best for you. And now, when I'm working on this film project, you accuse me of plotting to interfere with your love life? I can't believe you'd think that." She waited for Fang to sit down on the bed beside her and then upped the ragged, body wrenching sobs by a factor of five. "I… I… why can't you believe me? I'm just… just… doing this project with Serah, and I came in here to wake you up for breakfast, and all you do is accuse me of –"
"Fine." Fang pulled Vanille into her arms and kissed the red head's forehead. "Sorry. Maybe I was jumping to conclusions a bit too fast."
"You totally were."
"But you have to admit, you have done some scheming before."
'Maybe a little."
Fang chuckled. "Look, if you really need to carry that camera around, then fine. But you didn't get any footage of me naked did you?"
"Of course not." Vanille hopped out of Fang's lap, all traces of sadness gone. "I wouldn't do something like that." However, she had gotten a few teasing shots. Not enough to freak Lightning out but enough to get the soldier wondering. "Now, come on, it's breakfast."
"Sure, sure." Fang yawned again. "I'll be down in a minute."
Vanille bit back a giggle as she walked out of Fang's room. Her sister wanted to make sure she looked her best. It was a waste of time. Based on the heat in Lightning's gaze whenever she looked at Fang, Vanille was pretty sure that Fang looked awesome to Lightning all of the time.
With Fang still upstairs, Vanille made her way over to the dining table. If she wanted to get good footage, she needed to position the camera perfectly. Then it was simply a matter of waiting for the show to start. She didn't have to wait long.
Fang sauntered into the dining room like she owned it. She'd changed her baggy t-shirt for a soft, comfortable button-up shirt that both hinted at and concealed the toned body beneath. Fang was exactly the sort of thing most people wanted to see in the morning, but Lightning wasn't most people.
The Fang is proud of her appearance and will not shy away from taking full advantage of it against her prey, especially the Lightning. Despite the casual appearance of her clothing, it is actually carefully chosen to maximise her good looks. However, this will often draw the ire of the Lightning, who believes that such behaviour has no place at the breakfast table. Curiously, the Lightning will still take the time to ogle the Fang whenever she believes no one is looking.
"What are you wearing?" Lightning stomped in from the kitchen and jabbed her spatula at Fang. Not only did her bright pink apron take the edge off her words, the fact that her eyes immediately dropped to the cleavage revealed by the shirt made her look like quite the hypocrite. "Button that shirt up!"
Vanille angled the camera toward Lightning's face. Lightning's face always turned the most interesting shades of red. Fang made a show of buttoning up her shirt only to undo another button, and Lightning's face got even redder.
"What are you doing?" Lightning growled. "I told you to button up your shirt, not unbutton it."
Lightning might have sounded angry, but her eyes still hadn't left Fang's chest.
When the Fang senses weakness, she will not hesitate to pounce. Even the dreaded Lightning can find herself on the back foot against the Fang's ruthless pursuit.
"See something you like?" Fang leaned back in her chair, and Vanille stifled a giggle as the shirt somehow managed to cover even less. "Because you're staring an awful lot, Lightning."
"I –" Lightning turned around so fast Vanille could almost here the sonic boom. "I was not staring."
When confronted with danger, the Lightning will often fall back upon insults and anger.
"Why can't you wear something normal to breakfast?"
"Like you?" Fang let her eyes roam over Lightning's clothing. The pink haired woman had opted for yoga pants and a tank top. Very nice. "You look good, by the way."
Lightning turned, opened her mouth, and then closed it again.
The Lightning is remarkably vulnerable to compliments from the Fang. It is an intricate dance between two deadly predators, marked by a mix of idiocy, stubbornness, and a disturbing amount of emotional blindness. The Fang is drawn to the Lightning but is afraid of pursuing a closer relationship lest their friendship be put at risk. So, the Fang tries to test the waters with compliments. However, the Lightning is so emotionally dense that she is both incapable of properly interpreting the signals that the Fang sends and incapable of sending back clear signals of her own.
A classic example of this is that complimenting the Lightning too much may result in the Fang being punched. However, failure to compliment the Lighting enough may also lead to the same outcome. In a more general sense, the Lightning will often take steps to keep other females and males away from the Fang while making no attempt to claim the Fang for herself. In FLight biology, this is referred to as "Lightning's romantic blindness and general idiocy."
In the end, Lightning mumbled out a "thanks" before practically running back into the kitchen to get the pancakes.
Lightning made such wonderful pancakes, and Vanille always did her best to inhale as many of them as possible. Being as cheerful as she was took a lot of energy. And as much as she denied it, Vanille knew that Lightning liked fussing over her precious people. Why else would she have bothered to knit Hope a sweater? All Lightning asked for in return was a word of thanks and the pleasure of their company.
The Lightning is a stickler for protocol. Failure to thank her for her efforts can result in extreme unpleasantness.
"Fang," Lightning said as the last of the pancakes vanished. "Don't you have something to say?"
Fang paused. The icy tone in Lightning's voice somehow made her break into a sweat. "Uh, sorry. I mean thanks. Thanks for making the pancakes. They were really great." Lightning's expression relaxed, Vanille was sorely tempted to bash her sister over the head with her camera when Fang decided to add to what had been a reasonably phrased reply. "Nothing like pancakes in the morning with a side of Lightning in an apron."
Fang's comment was accompanied by the kind of smile that would have had most people weak at the knees. Naturally, Lightning chose to interpret the comment – and the smile – in the worst way possible. Lightning's reply was silence, the kind that was sharp enough to cut.
"Okay…" Fang trailed off. "How about I get everyone some toast?" Then she was hurrying into the kitchen, Lightning's eyes on her the entire way.
"Hey," Vanille whispered to Lightning. "Don't be mean. Fang was trying to be nice."
"Nice?" Lightning's eyes narrowed. "I've seen that smile before, Vanille. She uses it whenever we go out for drinks." Lightning's eye twitched and she bent the fork in her hands. "All the girls love it. You should see them. They're a bunch of hussies. Does Fang think I'm like that? That all I need is a smile and…"
Vanille sighed. Lightning was such a dummy sometimes. The only reason Fang smiled like that at Lightning was because she wasn't sure how else to go about it. People liked Fang, and Fang was used to quickly charming the few that didn't like her on sight. But Fang didn't know what to do about Lightning because she'd never met anyone like Lightning before. And Lightning, being Lightning, didn't even notice how unsure she could make Fang feel about herself.
They were both idiots, and they deserved each other very much.
"Look." Vanille cut Lightning off mid-rant. "She was just trying to be nice. If you can't appreciate that, then you're the one being mean."
That stopped Lightning in her tracks, and Vanille braced herself for the backlash. Lightning hated being told what to think, but someone needed to do it. And with Serah not available, it was up to Vanille. However, the backlash never came as Fang ambled back into dining room.
"Here." A smile tugged at the edges of Fang's lips as she put a mug of hot chocolate down in front of Lightning. "I know you like something sweet with your toast."
"Fang…" Lightning's voice was uncharacteristically soft. And then she looked at her toast, and her voice got much, much harder. "Fang…"
The Fang and the Lightning are both fiercely opinionated creatures. Short periods of peace and tranquillity are often broken over seemingly petty and inconsequential differences. Like toast.
"What?" Fang asked.
"You know I hate it when you burn my toast." Lightning glared at the toast on her plate. It didn't look burnt to Vanille, but Lightning was such a stickler for routine that anything more than the exact level of crispiness she was used to was probably the equivalent of charcoal to the soldier. "You always burn the toast."
"Burned?" Fang scowled and reached down to take a bite out of Lightning's toast. "This isn't burned. It's perfect."
Lightning's eyes narrowed, and she took a sip of her hot chocolate only to spray it all over Vanille. Thankfully, the camera remained unharmed. "What is this? Did you put salt in this? Are you trying to pick a fight?"
Vanille wouldn't have put it past Fang to do something like that in the middle of a prank war. In fact, Fang had already done something like this to Lightning before. But that probably wasn't the case this time. Knowing Fang, she'd gone into the kitchen looking for a way to placate Lightning after her comment earlier. Fang would have been so worried about getting the toast right after messing up earlier that she'd simply gotten the sugar and salt mixed up. It was kind of cute imagining Fang all nervous and flustered like that.
Any doubt Vanille might have had vanished when Fang's lower lip began to tremble. This wasn't good. Lightning had genuinely managed to ruffle Fang's feathers. And for once Lightning seemed to notice, but being the stubborn, prideful blockhead that she was, Lightning couldn't – or wouldn't – back down.
"I was trying to do something nice." Fang's jaw clenched. "You know I'm not good in the kitchen. And you know I can never get your damn toaster to work right. It has got about fifty buttons on it and a million settings. Heck, Vanille could build a simpler toaster." She grabbed the mug of hot chocolate. "But if you think I was trying to pick a fight with you, I wasn't."
And then, to Vanille's horror, she started to drink it.
Even Lightning was speechless. Then the impossible happened – Lightning grabbed Fang's wrist and pulled the mug of salty hot chocolate out of her hands.
"Fine, I believe you." Lightning looked away. "Besides, it's not that bad." She lifted the mug of hot chocolate to her lips. "The salt brings out the sweetness."
Vanille was convinced she was back in crystal stasis. This could not be real. Had Lightning actually given ground on something? Wait… the camera. Ignoring the two other women who seemed to be in their own world, Vanille rewound the footage. Yep, it was real.
"I'm sorry about the toast." Fang looked at the table. "I tried but –"
"It's fine. You're right about the toaster."
The rest of breakfast went much more smoothly, and Vanille made sure to film Fang and Lightning as they tidied up and washed the dishes. Despite the teasing and glaring that went on, the two worked together perfectly. Honestly, they were like a married couple already, minus the sex.
Regardless of how it may appear at times, both the Fang and the Lightning care deeply for one another. They're simply too stubborn to admit it. That is why esteemed FLight researchers, such as myself, need to do everything in their power to help them overcome their romantic stupidity.
"So, what now?" Fang asked once they were done with the dishes.
"I was going to take Serah shopping. Maybe afterwards we could spar."
Vanille bit back a grin. Shopping with Serah? That was perfect. And then sparring? Even better. Watching those two spar was almost like watching pornography where nobody got naked. The tension was thick enough to cut with a knife and in between all the "accidental" touching and heated staring that went on, there was no way they could deny things if she got footage of it.
Yep, she could see it now. The Secret Life of Flight, Episode 2: Sparring and Sex – the Intricacies of FLight Courtship Behaviour.
Now all she had to do was call Serah to make sure the other woman recorded her shopping trip with Lightning. Better yet, maybe she could get Serah to convince Lightning that Vanille needed to come.
Yes, it was all falling into place.
X X X
Tune in for our next episode, The Secret Life of FLight, Episode 2: Sparring and Sex – the Intricacies of FLight Courtship Behaviour. What many species would consider to be terrifying violence, the Fang and the Lightning consider foreplay.
X X X
As always, I neither own Final Fantasy, nor am I making any money off of this.
So, I finally got the first episode out. As you can see, it's going to be a mixed format with the parts in italics (i.e., Vanille's voiceover) being mixed in with more standard narration.
In this story, Vanille is even quirkier than she usually is. I put this down to her having to watch Lightning and Fang make a complete mess of things so often (e.g., the toaster thing). She's sick of their indecision and general idiocy, so she's decided to take charge. Naturally, Serah is only too happy to jump on board, and Snow and Hope aren't far behind. Sazh is a little more reluctant, but one way or another, she'll get him onside too. There is no escaping Vanille.
You'll notice, too, that Fang and Lightning are quite awkward in this story. They're at that awkward stage where both are, at least vaguely, aware of the desire for something more, but neither of them has the guts to be too obvious about it. Sure, Fang flirts, but she's careful never to flirt too much, and Lightning is busy telling herself that she can't read too much into it. In short, you have Fang trying to send signals but toning them down because she's worried about scaring Lightning off while at the same time Lightning is too emotionally dense to properly read those signals or send back signals of her own. Luckily, Vanille is filming everything because once they see things laid out for them through the cold, objective lens of a camera, they won't have anything to hide behind.
Also, I now have two stories up on Amazon, and you can find links to them in my profile. If you're interested in fantasy, you might want to look at "The Last Huntress." If you're interested in a paranormal Western, you might want to give "The Gunslinger and the Necromancer" a try. You won't be disappointed.
Finally, I now have a preview for my next original short story up. It's called "The Lord of Dark Waters" and it's the follow up to "The Last Huntress." If you like fantasy with a good dose of action, you'll probably enjoy it. You can find a link to the preview in my profile, but here is the blurb:
Scarlett is the last of her line – a huntress sworn to kill all monsters
Rose is a girl searching for the power to take back her homeland.
In the frozen wastes of the north, Scarlett confronted the dark truth of her origins. Now, she journeys south with Rose, desperate to leave the horror of the north behind. But the past is never far away, especially when they are drawn to the Swamp of Darkwater to hunt down a rogue vampire.
There, amidst the cursed, whisperings waters filled with muck and memories, Scarlett and Rose will have not choice but to face an evil far greater than they imagined. For the swamp is an old place, filled with old evils. It is a place where the churning waters hide the ruins of a cruel legacy centuries in the making.
The Lord of Dark Waters has awakened, and they are the only ones who can stop him. If they fail, then all of the south may fall, drowned beneath the dark, hungry tide of an ancient evil.
As always, I appreciate feedback. Reviews and comments are welcome.