In Yusnaan, not long after their confrontation, Lightning sat with Snow on the palace balcony and watched the crowds in the Augur’s Quarter.
“Hey Light, was it really necessary to destroy my lovely palace wall?”
“It was the only way to reach you.” Lightning looked down at the wreckage. “And I gave your people a better show than you ever could.”
“Now those sound like fighting words.”
“You want a rematch with me, hero? You’re not even l’Cie now.”
“And I already miss the powers.” Snow felt along his forearm. “Just a plain ol’ Human now. And whose fault is…” Snow trailed off, someone far below in the square caught his eye. They were high above the streets, but he swore he could recognize someone. “Is that…?”
Lightning saw her too. “It can’t be.” They both squinted. “Fang? What is she wearing?”
“She’s in one of those Miqo’te outfits.”
“Then that’s not Fang.” Lighting was sure of it. “Another woman.”
“Another tall, tanned woman, with long curly hair and a tattoo on her arm?”
“Plenty of people who settled on Pulse got one. Fang’s isn’t unique.” Neither Lightning or Snow could make out exactly what the tattoo looked like. “But I can’t stay here all night looking at specks on the ground.” Lightning stood and straighted out her garb.
“They’re hardly specks…” Snow offered her a bottle of champagne. “Sure you can’t stay a while? It’s been a long time.”
“I have work to do. Hope found another area filled with Chaos, the Dead Dunes.”
Snow chuckled, “Fine, Saviour.” He raised the bottle to her. “I’ll keep order here. Hey- If you’re going back down there anyways, how about you see if that really is Fang?”
“I have better things than to do than chase girls.” Light stood on the balcony’s ledge and readied herself. “And you shouldn't chase after girls at all.”
“You know I only have eyes for one, Light.” Snow was disappointed to see Lightning leave so soon, but knew he couldn’t stop her. “Bring her home.”
Lightning didn’t look back before jumping, disappearing into the dimly lit gardens below.
It would be days before Lightning was certain she laid eyes on Fang. Finally dispelling the sandstorm around the bandit’s camp, Lightning proved her worth without issue and was reunited with her. The reunion was a pleasant, quiet affair. Fang seemed more excited to see Lightning, than Lightning was to see Fang. Lightning was still grateful for her company, Fang was a good friend. She also seemed to keep her mind on the job, something Lightning appreciated. Until they set off to find the clavis and got a ways from camp.
“So, Lightning.” Fang lagged behind her as they walked through the desert at sunset.
Light paused and looked behind her. Fang didn’t look to have anything more to say. “Is that it?”
“Been a while since I’ve seen you.”
“Right.” Lightning pressed on. “You said that.”
Fang stayed where she was. “I thought you’d have more to say.” Lightning stopped again. “I thought you were being quiet because of all the strangers around.” Fang folded her arms, looking Lightning over with concern. “I figured that once we were alone you’d at least want to get caught up. What’s with the silent treatment?”
“It’s getting dark, Fang.” Lightning surveyed their surroundings, looking for any monsters. “You know better than to stand around in the open at night.”
“Doesn’t matter.” Fang quickly caught up to Lightning. “From the looks of you, there’s nothing you can’t handle. And then there’s me!” Fang smiled, taking her lance and spinning it a few times. “Ready for a real challenge!” Lightning didn’t respond beyond a faint nod. “Even if I’m not the Saviour… You have to be happy, you always wanted to be strong.” Lightning didn’t say a word, so Fang tried again. “So strong, I don’t think I’d let you hit me again. Might send me flyin’.” Fang forced out a laugh, trying to get some kind of reaction from Lightning. Nothing.
Fang went for broke. She motioned to Lightning’s chest. “So when did God get into the business of Cocoon-brand cosmetic surgery? Shame you don’t have your l’Cie brand anymore, I’ll have to find another excuse to take a look this time-”
“-Fang.” Lightning stopped her. “What does this have to do with finding the clavis?”
Fang swept back her hair in frustration. “Nothing! We fought side by side as l’Cie, we were comrades in arms. If I didn’t get stuck in that crystal, I would have wanted me and Vanille to move in close with you and yours…” Fang felt uncomfortable at the lack of emotion on Lightning’s face. “This has nothing to do with the damn clavis, this is about a woman who hasn’t seen a loved one in five-hundred years wanting to chat!”
“Loved one? We only knew each other for a couple weeks.”
“I may have only spent a couple weeks with you lot, but don’t think it wasn’t meaningful.” Fang sighed. “I thought you’d be happy to see me. Even if you didn’t shout-”
“-Fang!” Lumina came out of nowhere, ran up behind Fang and threw her arms around her waist. She gave Fang such a huge hug, that she couldn’t help but smile. “I missed you so much!”
“We saw each other a few days ago, Sunshine.”
“Don’t pretend like you didn’t miss me!” Lumina danced around Fang and butted in between her and Lightning. “You know you did…”
Lightning looked at Fang, “You know her too?”
“Well…” Fang’s mood brightened, and she even seemed a little embarrassed. “Over the past years…”
Lumina giggled, “-We’ve spent plenty of time together! Going on all sorts of adventures!”
“Adventures…” Lightning had given up on pressing on, Lumina had a way of bringing things to a halt.
“Mmmhmm!” Lumina tapped Light’s chest. “Not as many now that she’s left the Order. But she’s always up for hunting!”
“You go hunting, with Fang?” Lighting didn’t believe that.
Fang was blushing, “Well, yeah… Some of the time… That’s the cover story at least…”
“Come on, Lightning!” Lumina was as wide eyed and energetic as ever. “Don’t tell me you never wanted to watch this huntress stalk and pounce on her prey!” It was the way she said it that made Lightning uncomfortable. “She’s better at slaying Chaos beasts than you! And then when we get bored with that…” Lumina looked up to Fang, “Wanna tell her?”
“Lightning doesn’t need to know.”
“She lets me sit on her lap while we curl up by the fire and she tells me old Pulsian fairy tales! And one time we went into town and I tricked her into selling-”
“-Lumina was there when me and Vanille woke up.” Fang managed to cut Lumina off. “She’s become a good friend.”
Lightning could guess why, “Because Vanille isn’t here?”
“Maybe…” Lumina ran up and pounced Fang, having the huntress catch her in her arms. Fang held Lumina close. “Sunshine’s been keeping us both company for thirteen years. Whenever we’re feeling down, this little scamp always knows how to cheer us up.” Fang ruffled Lumina’s hair. “Thirteen years of sittin’ around’s a long time, and with Oerba being swallowed up and Gran Pulse all but gone it gets, lonely…"
Lightning quickly became very uncomfortable, but tried to ignore it. “Her name is Lumina.”
Lumina gave Lightning a dramatic scowl before clutching Fang’s sari. “One night I got thinking, when things got bad and it felt like the Chaos was blotting everything out-”
“-I would come in, shining through the dark like a ray of sunshine!” Lumina finished Fang’s sentence before leaping out of her arms. “I’m always there to cheer her up.” She smiled at Lightning, “I was there for her when she and Vanille woke up. I was there for her when they split… And I’m always the one to remind her what she’s fighting for! Even when she goes a little crazy…” Lumina trailed off, looking towards the sunset and yawning. “Just like I livened her up now.”
Fang admitted, “I like it when she’s around.” She tried to get over her embarrassment, but Lighning’s stare wasn’t helping. “Can’t say the same?”
“She’s a menace.” Lighting drew her broken Crimson Blitz. “She did this.”
“You did that to yourself!” Lumina teased. “Friends shouldn’t be fighting each other.”
Lightning felt the last light on her skin fade with nightfall, and turned away from them both. “We really don’t have time for this.”
“Lightning, are you alright?” Fang was starting to worry, nothing either she or Lumina said got much of a reaction from her.
“Good luck getting an answer to that.” Lumina give Fang another hug. “She’s way too dense to answer you.” Lumina yawned again.
“Gettin’ sleepy, Sunshine?”
“Can I camp with you two?”
“No.” Lightning took a few steps forward. “Fang, I’ll do this myself if I have to.” She left the two behind.
Fang sighed and gave Lumina a pat on the head. “Tell Sazh to hang in there, will ya? And tell Vanille I’m thinking of her.” Fang knelt and told Lumina quietly, “I’m counting on you to watch over her.”
Lumina nodded to that and gave Fang an exaggerated curtsy. “You can count on me!” Fang peered at her, Lumina laughed. “Fine… But you know I’d be watching Vanille anyways.” As Lumina finished her sentence she faded away before Fang’s eyes.
Fang stood up and realized she’d forgotten how fast Lightning could move. “You’re not keeping all that treasure for yourself!” She sprinted to catch up to her.
Lumina sat watching from on top a ruined building
Fang and Lightning sat together under a ratty tent in a small valley hours later. By then the desert was completely dark. Lights flickered far off in the distance, and the stars shined overhead, but they did little to illuminate the sands. Chaos storms were getting worse, and beasts of all kinds were out in droves. As much as they hated to, they were stuck at least until dawn.
“And that’s when you’ll go back to the Ark.” Fang stoked a small fire. “And then you’ll appear back here, all freshened up? As you said, right? Do you even need to sleep?”
Hardly.” Lightning kept scanning the horizon for any sign of a temple entrance.
“How many days do we have left?”
“Three, but this is the last pocket of Chaos Hope said to unravel.”
“Three days…” Fang shook her head. “One-thousand years and all that’s left is three days. The blink of an eye. We could keep going.”
Fang tried to stand but Lightning pulled her back. “Remember, you’re Human now.”
Fang seemed a little hurt, but sat back down. “I guess we can’t all be the Savior. You’re like a machine.” Fang looked to Lightning’s eyes. “In more ways than one.”
Lightning shrugged. “I was called to do a job.”
“It’s more than that…” Now was as good at time as any to say it. “There’s something different about you, Light. You were never the most carefree woman I ever met, but I did see you smile once in a while. I saw how passionate you can be when we stood up to Orphan. I even saw a bit of vulnerability, right when we met.” Fang put her hand on Lightning’s shoulder. “That’s gone.” She squeezed Lighting slightly. “What happened to you?”
“Bhunivelze.” Lightning spoke with little emotion. “To make a better servant, he cut my emotions out of me.”
Fang’s eyes widened, she didn’t want to believe that. “And you let him?! He just came in and took them out of you?” Lightning’s gaze seemed so distant. “I'd say he cut more than that!” Fang could feel it, “You’re missing something else. Truth is Light, that I might not recognize you if you didn't look the same.
Lightning spoke calmly, “There is something missing.” She didn't seem concerned, even if she really wanted to be. “You’re right, it’s not just my emotions, he took something more from me. But I don’t know what.” She tried to explain as Fang listened. Lightning could feel Fang’s hand gently rubbing her arm. “I reach for the memory, and northing’s there.”
“That’s what I said when I lost my Focus.” Fang had gotten closer to Lightning, now running both hands along her arm, trying to comfort her. Lightning didn't notice. “Something important was removed… Something that would have messed up some damn god’s plan if I remembered!” She was angry, but clearly not at Lightning. “And now they’ve done the same to you!”
“Keep your voice down, you’ll attract monsters.”
“Lightning…” Fang held her tight. “You aren’t even mad.”
“I wish I was.” Was all she could say. “But it keeps me focused, to save Serah.”
“It keeps you God’s slave!” Fang kicked at the sand. “Forget three days, how about God comes back tonight! Right here!” Fang stood, clutching her lance. “Let him come! I’ll tear parts out of him!”
“Fang…” Lighting looked up at her, the glow of the campfire gave Fang a ferocious aura as she shouted at the sky. “You really care about me.”
“Of course I do!” Fang threw her spear into the sand and knelt before Lightning. “We’re kindred spirits. Think about it. Our pride, our morals… our sisters. We shared a lot, as we tore down gods that thought they could control us. You expect me to sit by, as another one does it to you again?” She looked down at the sand, it was difficult to look into Lightning’s vacant eyes. “You’re not Lightning.” She reached up and hid her eyes, trying not to show her true emotions. “Lightning would never let anyone get away with this!”
“Fang are you crying?” Lightning reached out and tried to pull Fang’s hand away. Fang swatted at her. “Fang… Look at me.”
“There you go again.” It was getting too much for her. “Your tranquil voice, can you even hear yourself?!”
“Fang, I know a part of me is missing and I will get it back.” Lightning held onto Fang’s hand. “Bhunivelze has Serah and-”
“-and what, you’re going to trust a god who needed to cut parts out of you to make you compliant?!” Fang looked up at her, she was crying but forced herself to stop. “That’s not a god that has Serah! That’s not a god who’s going to give her back! The truth’s clear as day, and you can’t see it!” Fang composed herself, taking a deep breath. “You know I’m right.”
Lightning pulled back, mouth agape. Fang kept looking into her eyes, searching for the real her. “I’m not god’s puppet, and I’ll never be.” Something stirred deep inside of her. She knew she was still Lightning, and she would prove it. “I don’t need to feel anger to know the truth. I know what Bhunivelze did, but I don’t know what I can do.” She tried to think. “I still felt something for Odin, I know I did. I still feel like myself, only…” Lightning rubbed her forehead. “Why can’t I remember?”
It was the first sign of emotion Fang saw in Lightning, as her words echoed Fang’s own when they met on Cocoon. Fang gently knelt down over Lightning’s feet, reaching over to hold her shoulders; holding her tight. “If I could get my Focus back, we can find what God took from you.” She reached up with one hand and stroked Lightning's cheek. “Took from me.”
“Fang, I-” Lightning felt along Fang’s hand for a moment before moving it away. “I don’t know what to say.” She sighed wearily. “I really don’t.”
“It’s alright.” Fang didn’t want to push Lightning too far. She rolled back over and lay beside Lightning, looking up at the stars. “Three days… We’ll find the clavis. Then we’ll find you.”
“Thank you.” Cold, impersonal, and pathetic. It was all Lighting could mange. She hated herself for it. Sitting there, God’s puppet. She only had a faint idea of how she could prove herself to Fang, and she had to grit her teeth and force herself to say it. “Meow meow choco chow.”
Fang thought she was hearing things. “What?”
Lightning felt a little embarrassed, good. “I’m still me.”
“Lighting would never say that.”
“Fang, look at me…” Fang could see Lightning’s blush in the flickering lights. “Meow meow choco chow…” Said with absolute disdain, enough to make Fang smile.
She could do nothing but smile. “Thank you.” She needed to see where this was going, that silly phrase might be the key to restoring Lightning’s humanity! “Enjoy your time in Yusnaan then, Light?”
Fang stopped smiling. “I was never in Yusnaan.”
“Snow and I saw you.”
“That was someone else.” Fang spouted. She quickly rolled over as if to go to sleep.
“I thought so too…” Lightning mused. “The woman was wearing a Miqo’te outfit.”
“And I am clearly in a sari, goodnight Light!”
Lightning reached out and rolled Fang back over. “How did you know that phrase was from Yusnaan?”
“Gods dammit…” Fang was caught, she knew it. “I may have been there with a friend.”
“You were selling fireworks for Lumina, why?”
Fang came clean, “Because I told her while hunting that no one could ever best me.”
“So she challenged you to sell fireworks…” Lightning figured it out. “More than the other girls? Not exactly the kind of competition you expected, was it?”
Fang threw up her hands. “When she invited me to compete in Yusnaan, I thought we were going to the arena!” Lightning laughed. Genuinely laughed. Suddenly Fang didn’t care about her embarrassment, seeing Light smile was all that mattered. “I would have won too, if some crazy bitch didn’t buy out all the other girl’s stock in order to blow up Augur’s Quarter!”
Lightning was enjoying this. “You could have sold to me as well.”
“Because you would never have seen through my brilliant disguise!” Fang chuckled. “Watching me dive behind a guard post in Pleasure Alley, when you came storming through, made Sunshine’s night more than my cat ears.”
“So that’s who that was…” Lightning thought Fang was a cowering guard. “All because Lumina challenged you?”
“Because she asked me to.” Fang grabbed onto Lightning and pulled herself up close, overjoyed to look into Lightning’s eyes and see a flicker of humanity.
Fang was the one at a loss now, “I can’t say no… I love the little scamp.”
“Not like that. I don’t-” Fang knew it wasn’t romantic, but there was certainly something between them. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s because she was there for Vanille and me. For being that ray of sunshine. There’s something there…” She lay her head on Lightning’s shoulder, watching the flickering campfire. “Her simper, her fire, the little hints of weakness, and she never takes no for an answer.” Fang was starting to yawn, the campfire was hypnotic.
Lightning didn’t quite know what to do about Fang, but she didn’t try to move her. “She’s still a menace.”
“There’s worse things to be.” The flickering lights were making Fang sleepy.
“You should sleep.” Lightning nudged her. “I’ll watch camp until dawn. Time doesn’t pass on the Ark, I’ll be gone and back in the blink of an eye.”
“Then we find the clavis.”
“And then we’ll find me.” Lightning felt like she should give Fang a hug, something to end the night with. She gave a small embrace that only lingered in her mind. Fang rolled over, weary but happier than she’d been all day.
“Good night, Light.”
“Fang.” Lightning reached down and gave Fang a soft pat. “Sleep well.” Fang was already contently asleep. Lightning sat up and wrapped her arms around her knees. She took a deep breath and tried to focus. They had made a lot of noise, surely something must be about to attack them.
Sadly nothing did, Lightning was forced to be alone with her thoughts. Mulling over how Fang spent her days. Even if she had to spend them with Lumina, they sounded... nice. Like, something a person did. Someone real. Lightning stopped thinking about it, nothing good could come from it. Instead she sat, scanning the horizon, looking up at the stars, trying not to look down at Fang.
When the clavis was discovered, and Lumina led the Order to them, Fang was beyond furious with the girl. She paced up and down at the Dead Dune’s train station venting her frustration, while Lightning was preparing to say goodbye. Lightning wasn’t sure why, but she liked listening to Fang rant about Lumina. “She really is a menace.”
Fang looked up to Lightning, hands on her hips and feeling more and more at a loss by the minute. “Why would she lead the Order right to us? I can’t believe she’d do that to Vanille.”
“Forget about her.” Lightning patted her shoulder. “Lumina can’t be trusted. Focus on what you have to do now.”
“In three days.” Fang looked to the clock which hung in the station. “At least Vanille is safe until then.” She stroked Lightning’s hand right before Lightning withdrew it. “So, where are you off to?”
“I’m done about as much as I can do.” Lightning had an idea. “But I can save a few more souls in Yusnaan.”
“Sounds nice.” Fang held out her arms. “Goodbye hug for an old friend?”
Lightning enjoyed Fang’s company, she didn’t want to part ways just yet. “Come with me. You can rant about Lumina some more. I can tell you about all the times she’s brought me trouble.”
The train was about to depart, but Lightning didn’t need to say anything else. Fang tossed a few gil to the station manager to pay her fare and hopped aboard right behind Lightning. She had to wonder, “You really can’t stand Sun- Lumina, can you?”
Lightning shrugged, finding a quiet seat in an empty car. “This isn’t time to be playing games.” Fang was about to sit next to Lightning, but she laid her weapons beside her. Fang took the opposite seat instead. “She has all that power, and what does she use it for?”
Fang was a little disappointed, she misjudged Lightning’s intentions. “Not like you.”
“I am the Savior.” Lightning said plainly. “I have a job… That’s almost done.”
Fang wondered, “Is that why you invited me? To have some fun before we kick down the Order’s front door?”
“I like your company.” More mixed messages from Lightning. It seemed she was falling back into her emotionless state. “You’re pretty strong, for someone who isn't l'Cie anymore.”
Fang asked her, “And?”
“And what?” Lighting really had no idea what was going on in Fang’s head. “If we’re going to interrupt the ceremony, we may as well stay together. Snow can put you up in better lodgings than a deserted bandit camp anyways.”
“Yeah…” Fang sighed. The train started moving and the scenery began to fly past. Fang was trying to hide her disappointment. For all the progress she made the night before, Lightning was still so distant. She didn’t want to sit there agonizing over it. “I’m going to find a bar.” She tried one last time, “Care to join me?”
“I don’t drink anymore.”
Fang waved her off, “Of course you don’t.” She left Lightning behind, muttering under her breath. “Not like there’d be anything else to do, like have some fun with me…”
“I’ll come!” Fang swung around as the door to Lightning’s car closed and found Lumina hopping between the seats. “But I’ve got a better idea!” Fang turned her back on Lumina and kept walking. “Aww…” Lumina appeared before Fang with a sad look on her face. “Did I do something wrong? Did Lightning say mean things about me? She does that.”
“You know what you did, Lumina. You’ve put Vanille at risk.”
“No… No I didn’t.” Lumina looked up as if thinking before explaining her master plan. “They can’t do anything until the ceremony, clavis or no clavis!”
“There’d be no ceremony if I still had it.”
“The Order knew you were looking for it.” Lumina was so sure of herself. “They would have hunted you down.”
“And I would have fought them off.”
“Like you did before? Even if you hid it in that camp of yours, they’d just show up with an army.” Lumina bounced up and hugged Fang. “This way, no one has to die.”
Fang had to hold herself back from hugging Lumina, but the more she thought on what Lumina said the more it made sense. “You know this for sure?”
“Even with Lightning there, you guys wouldn’t have been a match.” Lumina reached up and tried to find Fang’s arm to wrap around herself as she nestled into Fang’s chest. “You’d have died defending it.” Fang knew that to be true. Lumina grinned and looked up to her. “So really… I saved your life, and you know what that means!”
Fang scoffed, playfully pushing Lumina off her. “No.”
“Yes!” Lumina had such a mischievous grin on her face. “You, Oerba Yuny Fang have to do anything I want!”
“I already do!”
“Then forgive me! And call me Sunshine, I like that.”
Fang brushed back her hair thought aloud, “Maybe you make sense…”
“This way you’ll be alive to ambush the ceremony. This way you’ll save Vanille! But ‘maybe’ isn’t forgiveness! Come on, say it!”
Fang gave in, “I forgive you, Sunshine.”
Lumina clapped her hands once. “And now you have three whole days to spend with me instead of being too busy fighting an epic battle.”
“You cunning little…”
“Careful now.” Lumina’s eyes narrowed, but she didn’t lose the grin. “That’s no way to talk to the girl who saved your life. You’ve got some mouth on you, I heard you last night.”
“You were listening to us?” Fang wasn’t surprised. “Of course you were… Don’t you have anything better to do with your time?”
“Nah, not really.” Lumina looked to the car Lighting was in. “Unless, you’d like to hear my idea.”
Fang folded her arms and peered at Lumina, “I’m listening…”
Lightning sat up and looked at the empty seat across from her. She recalled what Fang had said about being lonely, realizing it had been so long that she had gotten used to the feeling. It wasn't right to brush Fang off, and she did want the company. Lightning decided to head to the bar car and meet up with her, tripping over her shield and sword as she got to her feet. The train was so silent. Only a few people occupied several train cars, and as pretty the scenery which passed her by was, it all felt so hallow.
She walked into the bar and found it empty aside from a bored looking bartender. He heard her come in and welcomed her over. "What'll it be?"
"Nothing." Lighting glanced around to make sure she hadn't missed Fang. "I'm looking for someone. Tall, tanned, toned, curly brown hair, green eyes, scars, has a tattoo of a... thing on her left arm."
The bartender chuckled, "You're the first customer I've had in hours."
"I'm not a customer." Lightning walked to the other side of the car and looked again.
"You look like you could use a drink. " The bartender looked her over before reaching under the bar and bringing up a bottle of clear alcohol, splashing some into a glass. "Maybe your friend will show."
Lightning didn't want to be rude, reluctantly walking to the bar and picking up the glass. Swirling it around, before downing the whole thing in one gulp. Landing the glass bottoms-up on the hardwood. The bartender expected Lightning to gag, but found her licking her lips, relishing the taste. "I missed that." She sighed, hating herself for ignoring Fang even more.
"More? The world's ending, I'll even join you."
She politely declined. "When I find her." She left a nice tip and continued the search.
She scoured every nook and cranny, but couldn't find Fang. "Lumina..." It was the only explanation. She had spent nearly an hour searching, and all the while Lumina must have been playing with Fang. How could she have stolen Fang away? Lightning had been content knowing that Fang would probably never speak to Lumina again. Unless Lumina had turned on them, and put Fang in danger.
She leaned against a seat, trying to figure it out when something slammed into the roof of the train car. Acting on instinct she grabbed her sword and stood at the ready, looking up at the ceiling and preparing for something to burst through. She was left waiting. There was something moving up there, at times slamming down, but it hadn’t torn a hole in the roof just yet. That’s when something caught the corner of her eye, right outside the window. She swung around and nearly blasted fire in Lumina’s face. The girl was hanging upside down, giggling and looking at Lightning while shouting something towards the roof. Lumina gave Lightning a big smile and a wave. Someone was holding her, moments later they pulled her back up and out of sight. The noise on the roof began again.
Lightning didn’t like this. She stormed out between the cars and found a ladder to the roof, climbing quickly. Looking down across the roof of her train car to see Lumina and Fang laying flat against it. Both of them caught a glimpse of Lightning, and both smiled at her. Fang had sweat dripping from her forehead.
“Fang!” Lighting tried calling to her. Fang managed to stand up, holding onto Lumina while bracing herself against the wind. “What are you doing?!” Lumina was the only one who seemed to hear her. As the train hurried through the countryside, Fang grabbed Lumina and leapt down between the cars on the opposite side from her. When Lightning got back inside, she found Fang panting and sweating with Lumina happily sprawled out on the seats. Lumina applauded, “I can’t believe you jumped over that signal!”
Fang seemed rather proud of herself. “Please, I could leap over a Adamantoise.”
“So was this more exciting than the bar?” Lumina nudged Fang with her foot. “I know what you like.”
Lighting ran up to them. “Fang, have you lost your mind?!”
Fang looked to Lumina. “You were right about her.” She reclined and wiped her forehead, speaking to Lightning, “I thought you’d appreciate such a display of acrobatics.”
“You could have gotten yourself killed.”
Lumina crawled over and curled up next to Fang. “Come on, Lightning… Don’t tell me you didn’t enjoy jumping around that purge train on Cocoon. Let Yuny have her fun!” Fang wrapped her arms around Lumina, who was all too happy to rest her head and listen to Fang’s heart pound in her chest. Lightning saw Fang look at Lumina, feeling completely ignored. Fang was busy running her hand through Lumina’s hair while the girl played up being cute. Lumina looked up to Fang, “I hated those turtles… I bet you’d have been great at taking them out!”
“I brought down more than a few in my day.”
“Well, I had friends.”
Lightning blurted out, “Me!” She stopped herself, wondering where that came from. She felt angry. Angry at Lumina, and for being ignored. “She had me to help, when we were on Gran Pulse. I was that friend.” She said it with such conviction that it confused her. The more she looked at Lumina, and saw that bouncy, selfish little brat with her arms around Fang, the more she couldn’t stand it. “And Fang can only jump as high as one, not over one.” These were her experiences, Lumina didn’t know what she was talking about.
Fang smirked. “I’m pretty sure I could jump over one.”
Lightning leaned in. “Then prove it.”
“When we get to Yusnaan, I bet you can’t make it up the Cactaur statue. I don’t think you can even jump two stories. You could only jump that high before because you were l’Cie!”
“Is that so?” Fang gently brushed Lumina aside and tried to get to her feet. “You’re on-”
Lumina pushed Fang back down and pounced her. “You don’t have to prove anything to her!” She nestled back into Fang’s chest. “It’s easy being so strong when you’re the Savior.” She looked Lightning dead in the eye. “What’s that, the third time you had to tell someone they were weak? After calling her a speck? Well, we can’t all be the Savior; handcrafted by God and given everything!”
Fang had to agree. “Lightning, I might not be at your level, but l’Cie or not I can still hold my own.”
Lightning was silent for a moment. She knew that she had been too hard on Fang, but couldn’t for the life of her figure out why. Why had she become so obsessed with her task and abilities? “Lumina’s no good for you.” What was wrong with her? Lightning couldn’t believe how jealous she sounded. It was Lumina, whenever the kid showed up things always went awry. Seeing her with Fang made things far worse. “It’s too risky to be playing around like that.”
Fang sighed and wrapped her arm back around Lumina. “How’s about you leave us little people alone to have our fun, huh?” Lightning stood there until she realized that Fang was serious. “Go be the Savior.” Fang was really feeling hurt. “I’ll be here content knowing God didn’t choose me.” Fang and Lumina went back to ignoring Lightning, laughing and joking as they relaxed and cuddled up next to each other.
Lightning was speechless. She looked down and felt the symbol over her heart. The mark of the Savior. God’s chosen champion, and Etro’s before that. She had a mission, a calling, one higher than anyone else. Something only she could do. It wasn’t an easy task, but- Her train of thought was broken as she heard Lumina laugh. She looked up, at the two of them, thinking about all the adventures they had mentioned. All the time spent together. She remembered the day they saved Cocoon. She stood with her friends and family about to start a new life, when it was taken from her. Torn from everyone she card about. For what? To spend eternity fighting on behalf of some god?
It was more than that. It was how happy Lumina looked. It was the long nights the six l’Cie spent on Gran Pulse fighting together to survive. It was Fang. There at her side, through thick and thin. Forging a new path together. The two of them, and the joy that brought her. Now Fang spent her days with Lumina. The brat didn’t deserve her. Lightning knew she was the one who fought hard to be with her loved ones. She was the one who deserved to spend her days with Fang. To have adventures, to laugh and play together. To have a life together! Instead Lumina, who had done nothing, got to have that. Lumina had Fang for years whenever she wanted. But no matter what Lightning did, some fal’Cie or god was always going to take it away from her! Was she going to stand by and let that happen again?! While some other girl got to curl up beside Fang?!
It was hearing Lumina’s voice that broke her, it echoed through her mind, “I love you, Fang!”
Lightning’s lips moved as she heard those words, then she realized that she had said them aloud.
Fang sat up, and Lumina stared at her. Lightning closed her eyes for a moment, tried to compose herself but the anger was too strong. “I deserve to be with her.” She looked down at Lumina. “I’m the one who loves her.”
Lumina narrowed her eyes, she wasn’t having any of that. “You have a funny way of showing it.”
“Lightning…” Fang was at a loss. “She’s right. I tried, and thought we were finally reunited but you-”
Lightning stayed focused on Lumina. “-Had this brat steal you away. What has she done to deserve you?”
“I kept her company! I was there for her!” Lumina clutched Fang who stroked her back. “Just leave us be, soldier!”
“I have to be a soldier.” Lightning justified herself to Lumina. “I have to protect the ones I love! Don’t you understand? You can’t be like this! You can’t just laugh it off, spend your days being foolish, doing things that’ll get you hurt!” An emotional torrent. “You can’t be so selfish! So reckless! So weak!” She berated Lumina while the girl sat there, taking all of it. “The world’s ending, and you’re playing like a child?! Flirting like some schoolgirl?! Don’t you know how dangerous things are?! Don’t you know how bad things are going to get?!” Lumina never looked away.
“Don’t you know you’re going to get Serah killed?!”
The world went silent. She couldn’t even hear the clatter of the train running along the tracks. She could only look into Lumina’s eyes, swallow, as the missing piece of her soul stared back. Trying not to cry. Fang didn’t know what to do; her gaze darted between Lumina and Lightning, both of them so still.
Lumina was ashamed of herself, “But if I can’t have my own life to live… Then what are you fighting for?” Lumina had stopped smiling. “Bhunivelze took so much from you, I had to run and hide. I couldn’t let him destroy me!” She shook her head, “I know you hate me. But people love you, all of you…” She wrapped her arms around her knees, wanting to disappear. “You can’t be strong all the time, it’s okay to be weak. You can’t be Lightning all the time, and you shouldn’t have to be.”
Fang instinctively stroked Lumina’s hair, trying to comfort her like a protective mother. “Lightning, what’s she talking about?”
There it was, all laid out before her. Lightning had shunned this piece of her for so long, she didn’t realize the kind of person she became without it. In a small but vital way, she needed it. She wasn’t herself without it. Lightning walked up to Lumina who had buried her head in her knees. She reached out, her hand gracing Fang’s as she stroked Lumina’s hair. Petting her gently, she finally manged to say, “I don’t hate you, Claire.”
“Claire Farron?” Fang realized who she held in her arms. She couldn’t believe she didn’t realize it earlier, suddenly the last thirteen years made perfect sense. Chuckling faintly, “Even when we’ve been apart, we’ve been together…”
Lumina came out of hiding, peeking at Lightning. “I needed to show you that I matter, even if you never wanted me.”
“I do want you…” Lighting spoke honestly, “You’ve done things I never could.” Lightning knelt down to be closer to her. She glanced past the girl, looking to Fang, who treated Lumina with such love and care. “Found the love that I couldn’t. Fang, I should have-”
Fang nodded understandingly. "You know we need each other. If there's one thing we learned on Cocoon, it's that we can't go it alone." She reached over and patted Lightning's shoulder, "But you remember that now, right?"
Lightning smiled at Fang, but still felt so guilty. “Claire, I’m so sorry…” The hole in her soul ached. “Please, forgive me.” She was down on her knees, and she begged. “I need you. Please come home.”
A meek smile came across Lumina’s face, and she nodded gently. She reached out for Lightning who offered her a hug, but stopped short and looked towards Fang. “Promise we’ll still have adventures?”
Both Fang and Lightning spoke, “I promise.”
Lightning Farron stepped off the train in Yusnaan, looked back, and reached out her hand for Fang to take. Hopping off the train, Fang let herself fall forward and bump up against Lightning. Wrapping their arms together, everyone in the station witnessed the Savior and the Bandit passionately kiss in a loving embrace. The conductor had to ask them to move along after a while, they were blocking other people from getting off. Fang chuckled at that and led Lightning off to the side where they could talk.
“I have to say, I wish you didn’t bring her back into your soul so quickly."
“Well… I had an empty train car, with Claire Farron in my lap and Lightning at my feet.” Fang seemed very disappointed. “I’ll never have a chance at that threesome again.”
“Don’t ever change, Fang.”
“You either.” Fang tapped the symbol on Lightning’s chest. “I finally have you back, and I’ll be damned if I’ll let anyone change that.” She smiled. “You looked good at my feet too, I can see why Bhunivelze chose you to be his slav-” Lighting grabbed Fang’s sari and brought her in for another kiss.
Content that Fang’s thoughts were now elsewhere she broke the kiss, but still gripped Fang’s clothes. “There’ll be no more talk of that.”
Fang whined, “But…”
Lightning looked her straight in the eye. “That’s no way to talk to the woman who saved your life.”
“But you didn’t…”
“Didn’t I?” In that instant, Fang could see the whole of Lightning’s soul reflected in her eyes. Every single part. Lightning winked, “I’m not calling you Yuny, though. Got it?”
Fang grinned, “Anything you want, Sunshine.” Lightning moaned, letting go of her. “What, no good? Don’t like that?”
Lighting tapped her ear and shouted, “Hope, I’m trying to have a moment here!”
“Ah…” Fang laughed, “I see.” She stepped back from Lightning. “Good, because I’m not changing it.”
Lightning sighed as Hope kept pestering her on the com. “Hope, you have the worst timing.”
“Light, this can’t wait. You have to listen to me.”
Lightning looked over to Fang and held up one finger. Fang folded her arms and scoffed, “Don’t you two have time for this on the Ark?”
“This had better be important-”
“We change things all the time, Hope.”
“No-” Hope tapped at his console, “Something big just changed. Something not according to plan. Are you alright?”
“I’ve never been better."
“It’s Lumina isn’t it? I could hear what happened.” Hope seemed nervous, “God isn’t going to be happy about this.”
“Can’t say I’m too happy with him either.”
“He’ll be back soon. He’ll know what you’ve done.” Lightning looked into Fang’s eyes, her heart skipped a beat. “Light, are you listening?”
Fang gave Lightning a knowing wink, and reached out to her. “Let him come.” She muted the com and took Fang’s hand. “I’m not alone anymore.”