Vignette: Pear Blossoms

By Kimetara

One-shot

Disclaimer: FFVI isn't owned by me either.

          Locke stared up at the ceiling, thinking about his latest promise.

*****

          "You have amnesia?!?!"

          "Don't worry!  I'll protect you!"

          "I promise!"

*****

          He made these promises for her...

          Rachel.

          He had failed to protect her...he wouldn't fail another.

          Locke shifted in bed, trying to fall asleep.  Unfortunately, sleep wouldn't seem to come.

          *Well, no use just lying here, is there?*  The man sat up in his bed, thinking, when an idea struck him.

          *Maybe...*

          "Psst, Terra."

          "Hmmm?"  She turned her head in the direction of the voice, her long aqua hair brushing softly against her shoulder.  "Locke?"

          Locke smiled reassuringly and motioned her over.  "C'mon.  Now that Edgar's finally sleeping, I can show you around the castle."

          Terra tilted her head.  "Why when he's asleep?" she asked, sliding out of bed.

          "Eh..." Locke shrugged.  "If I tried while he was up and about, you'd probably end up getting ambushed.  My lady!" he mimicked, bowing on one knee, "you are the light of my heart, the bright spot in this darkness of despair, the-" Terra laughed, and Locke returned his gaze to her face, grinning.

          Terra padded over to the self-proclaimed treasure hunter, smiling shyly.  "What're you going to show me?"

          "Hey now, that'd ruin the surprise!"  Taking the woman's hand, he drew her out of the castle tower.  "Let's go!"

          They had great fun on Locke's tour of Figaro.  Locke showed off his "treasure hunting skills," and by the end of the night, Terra had picklocked a few doors herself, earning a ton of praise and the compliment of being a "fast learner."  The pair snuck slowly along, Terra giddy from the rush of "treasure hunting," Locke joking and grinning mischievously.  More than a few soldiers would have some surprises in the morning.

          At last, the clock chimed midnight, and Locke looked up from his most recent bout of laughter with Terra.

          "Look at that, midnight already.  Time for the princess to be getting back to bed."  Locked winked.

          Terra blushed at being called a "princess."  "Why midnight?" she asked, shifting the subject.

          "Because after midnight, the magic fades away."  Terra stared blankly at him, and Locke frowned, feeling his jest had taken a bad turn.  "Don't you remember..."  Too late, he realized his mistake.

          An awkward silence descended on the two, broken when Terra bowed her head.

          "I'm sorry..." she whispered softly, feeling the shattered merriment was her fault.

          The treasure hunter shook his head.  "Nothing to be sorry for.  It's the Empire's fault for messing with your mind like that..."

          Terra didn't raise her gaze back to Locke's.  "...I'm frightened, Locke.  What did they make me do?  What if I've done horrible, terrible things, and everybody hates me...?"  Terra sunk onto a castle step, hiding her face in her hands.

          Locke sat beside her and gently placed his arm around her shoulders.  "Don't worry.  I promised I'd protect you, and I will.  I swear it."

          Terra removed her hands and smiled weakly, but he could see the despair lurking in the depths of her emerald orbs.  The loss swirled in her vision, and his heart constricted, because he knew that what she feared most was true.

          The pair sat there together on the steps, Terra leaning against Locke's chest, each of them lost in their own private thoughts.  It was odd, how Locke didn't feel his usual urge to be up and about, but in its place a strange contentment.  There was a peace he thought he'd lost long ago...

          Eventually, Locke noticed Terra's gradual slipping into sleep.

          *Can't let that happen just yet,* he thought, recalling his original intention for showing her the castle in the first place.  "Let's go," Locke spoke, rising and pulling her up with him.  "I saved the best for last."

          "Huh?"  Terra blinked sleepily.  "But..." she protested half-heartedly against Locke's insistence.  Finally, she gave in and let herself be tugged along.  It was getting kind of cold anyway, without Locke next to her.

          "Where're we going now?" she asked, becoming fully awake.

          "That's the surprise."  Locke grinned and kept guiding her along the dark castle corridors.  A few times Terra stumbled, but the cheerful treasure hunter kept her from falling.

          "How can you see in this?" she complained, tripping over what could have been a pillow.

          Locke shrugged.  "Practice.  After a while, you can sort of sense when something's in front of you."

          "Sense?"  She hadn't thought of it that way.  Terra paused, concentrating.  To her surprise, she could almost see the outlines of the things blocking her vision, and her pace became rapidly more confident.

          Locke was startled, and almost tripped himself.  He couldn't deny though, Terra had learned how to navigate in the dark.

          His lips quirked into a smile, half-amused and half-admiration.  No doubt, she'd make a great treasure hunter...

          He shrugged that thought off though, and continued to lead the way.  Soon, they came to their destination.

          Locke stopped at a doorway at the end of the hallway, Terra halting behind him.  "We're here."

          She looked around, confused.  "Here?"

          Locke opened the door, and Terra stared in shock.

          "Oh my gosh...it's beautiful!" she exclaimed delightedly, running into the lush garden.  Indeed, with the moonlight streaming down upon it, the leaves seemed to shine with a mystical quality, and the nighttime breeze, fresh and cool, ran through her hair.

          "Yeah..."  He gave her a funny, sad smile.  "I wanted to show her this..." he murmured softly, gazing at nothing in particular.

          "Her?"  Terra looked up at him, puzzled.

         "...yes.  This is one of the most renowned gardens in the world," he explained, subtly changing the subject.  "Especially considering it grows in a desert."

          Terra nodded.  "How does it ever get enough water?" she wondered aloud.

          Locke raised an eyebrow in a "who knows?" expression.  "Edgar has his ways.  C'mon, what I really wanted to show you is over here."

          The trusting woman followed as Locke led her to a corner of the flourishing greenery.  There, set somewhat apart from the all the others, was a blossoming pear tree.

          "Ohhh..."  Terra's eyes barely widened.  "It's exquisite..." she breathed.  The stars glinted silver off the dark leaves, causing its small white blossoms to stand out more vividly than usual.  Gently, she reached out and stroked the tiny velvet petals.

          Locke grinned, pleased she liked it.  "I thought about bringing some of the flowers to give to you, but..." he shrugged.  "I couldn't bring myself to break it like that..."

          "I'm glad you didn't," she interrupted quietly.

          Locke stood next to her, nodding.  The garden was silent.

          "...why did you bring me here?" Terra asked at last, almost hating to ruin the sereneness that had descended.  But she was curious...

          "Just to remind you, I guess."  Locke paused.  "Besides, don't you like it?"

          "It's lovely!" Terra reassured him hastily.  "But...remind me?" she pressed.

          "Well..." Locke shifted uncomfortably.  "I, uh, don't know how much you remember, or what you remember, so I just wanted to make sure you knew there were still...um...good things..." he trailed off, feeling slightly stupid.

          The feeling dissolved almost instantly at Terra's grateful smile.  "Thanks, Locke."

          "Any time."

          They stood there together, again silent, and yet comfortable with it.

          *It's the people you can be quiet around and not feel stupid you're really close to,* Locke remembered from somewhere.  He didn't know where that came from though.

          *Her eyes are the same color as the pear leaves...*  What?  Where was he getting these thoughts?  The treasure hunter shook his head, confused.

          "Locke?"  Terra turned, concerned.  Locke returned her gaze, observing his previous notion was correct.  Her eyes were the same deep green as the pear leaves...but they held such a beautiful translucency the leaves lacked...  "Is something wrong?"

          "...nothing...  Hey, we better be getting to bed."  Locke grinned.  "We've got a lot of traveling to do tomorrow...or, today," he corrected himself.

          "Yeah..."  Terra sighed.  She didn't want to fight.  She didn't want to hurt.  She just wanted...what was it she wanted?

          She didn't even know her own desires!  The aqua-haired woman could have cried from frustration.

          Her thoughts were abruptly broken by Locke's arm around her shoulders.  "Shall we be going?" he suggested cheerfully.

          Despite her chaotic thoughts, Terra couldn't help but smile.  His good mood was contagious.  "Lead the way."

          They had almost reached Terra's bedroom when Locke froze.  "Get down," he whispered fiercely to Terra, dragging her down before she even had a chance to respond.

          "What's the matter?" she whispered back.  Locke said nothing, only motioned with his hand to stay quiet.

          "Uweee hee hee!"  Kefka's unmistakable inane giggling reached the pair's ears.  "That's right!  Burn!  Torch it all to the grainy desert ground!"

          A shudder shook Terra's body.  She couldn't quite recall where she had heard that voice before, but something about it...

          "Thinks he can hide her from me, hmmm?  Stupid king of Figaro!  Hee hee, let's see how he deals with this one!" Kefka's voice faded gradually in the distance.

          As soon as he was sure Kefka was far enough away, Locke stood, grabbing Terra's hand.  "We have to get to the battlements," he announced grimly.

          "Locke, what's going on?" Terra asked, confused.

          "No time...just come on!" he pulled her along, so suddenly that at first Terra stumbled.  Immediately, Locke halted and loosened his grip.  "Sorry..." he apologized, placing a hand on her shoulder to help her regain her balance.  "But we have to get you out of here..."  He tugged her along again, but more gently this time.

          "Me?" she whispered as she ran, so softly it escaped his hearing, before she noticed an abnormal lighting behind her.

          Horrified, Terra turned back to see flames leaping through Figaro Castle.  *Am I the cause of this?* she thought, stunned.

          Locke had stopped for a moment as well, a worried expression crossing his face, but he shook it off as soon as he saw Edgar's form rushing out of the door and demanding explanations from Kefka.  "This way, Terra," he murmured lowly, his hand not releasing hers.  Still bewildered, Terra allowed herself to be dragged behind the treasure hunter.

          She trusted him, anyway.  He was the first person she could remember thinking that about...

          Locke held Terra's hand until it was time to jump.  The moment he was settled, he twisted in the saddle, half-afraid Terra wouldn't have made it.  To his immense relief, she was right there on the chocobo next to him.

          After all, he had promised to protect her...

          Oddly enough, the usual image of Rachel failed to appear in his mind.  In its stead stood a pair of swirling translucent eyes the color of pear tree leaves, and a gentle hand caressing tiny white blossoms.

          Locke shook it off and prepared for battle.


AN: Terra's quickness in "sensing" comes from her Esper half.

I just made this because...well...I don't know, a guy saying "wait for me" seems pretty intense, and there was nothing that really hinted before that at them becoming particularly close...and besides, I just like the Locke/Terra pairing.  ^_^

And...just as a note...no, I haven't finished the game (yet!).  I will as soon as school lets up a bit...but anyway, I'm sorry if anybody seems too OOC here.

Thanks to Lirillith for correcting the spelling of Rachel's name!  ^_^  This is my first FFVI story...please R&R!