It’s been harder to hold on to yourself lately. It’s becoming harder and harder to put a lid on the simmering pot of corrupt light that stirs within you, mingling itself with your aether, your soul. It’s painful, when it bubbles over, threatens to take you with it.
You won’t let it though. There’s too many counting on you. There’s too much at stake. Simply letting go would be easier, wouldn’t it? But what would it be for, when you’ve already come so far? All of the Lightwardens are gone, but in essence, haven’t you become one? Emmet-Selch had said as such, hadn’t he? In all but physical form and mental faculties, you’ve become the monster that everyone fears. A true Warrior of Light.
In a way, you’re not surprised. Maybe you knew it, from the first time you called yourself a villian in this place. Not that you’re ready to simply accept becoming a Sin Eater, because to accept that, you’d also have to accept that you’d hurt your friends. They’d beg and plead with a monster that was unreasonable, and possibly, give their lives to try and gain a ilm of recognition from a monstrous creature of light.
You’d kill them.
Or maybe not. Your mind flashes back to Lamitt, Ardberts’ companion, who had become a Sin Eater. Out of instinct, she had raised her fallen Sin Eaters, the drive to help never leaving her once.
Would you be the same? If you’d turned them, would you do everything within your corrupt power to protect them? Your corrupted friends?
In the moment of calm, here in the silence of your room in the Crystarium, you consider Ardberts’ companion again.. How she turned into a Sin Eater in the wake of the Flood. How she’d healed other Sin Eaters, not out of a Sin Eater Malice, but out of a desire so strong as to keep those she’d loved safe, so strong, it’d carried on when she’d become a monster herself, it’d carried on despite losing her own sense of self..
And yet, never once had Lamitt’s Sin Eater attacked a human. It had only gone around raising its fallen friends.
Maybe you’d be the same. You’d like to think so, anyway. That even if you’d lost the fight in containing the corrupted light, you’d still protect those you hold so dear to you.
Alisaie is giving you that look again. The look where she’s smiling, but it doesn’t reach her eyes. Considering her circumstances, your circumstances, it's completely understandable. She’s seen so much. She’s been in the First for over a year now. She’s seen what happens when people turn into Sin Eaters. She was there when you struck Tesleen down.
It’s clear when she’s looking at you, she’s thinking of her, of Tesleen. Of her fate, and now yours. She’s not like Alphinaud, ever the optimist. Alisaie is practical and bullheaded, not one to assuage someone's fears that it’ll be alright when it so clearly isn’t. But maybe that’s all you need right now. Not blind hope that Alphinaud and the other Scions give oh so willingly. The false promise that everything will be okay, that it’ll be figured out in time, when time just isn’t on your side, when the light within you rumbles in a hungry manner, but thankfully it’s quieter than it’s been lately.
The silence… isn’t exactly comfortable, but it’s clear that Alisaie doesn’t really know what to say. Neither do you, really.
But maybe you don’t have to talk. Your hand moves to hers, and you grip it, not tightly, just enough for the physical comfort that you think she needs more than you do. It’s kind of funny that way, isn’t it? That everyone is more worried about your circumstances that you are.
Maybe you’re just used to things going poorly by now.
Either way, the touch seems to startle Alisaie, rousing her from her thoughts, and she returns your loose grip with a fiercer one that tells you she hasn’t forgotten the promise she’d made, that she’s not leaving you alone, so you’d better not leave her.
“I’m charged with watching you today, Champion.” She says, tone teasing enough that you can’t help the quirk of a lip yourself in amusement. “And I’m under strict orders to not let you do anything heroic until the others return from their searches.” For a cure, she so clearly means.
Both of you aren’t so naive as to think it’ll be found so easily. If it’s found at all, anyway.
You give a content hum of consideration to her words, before pulling on her hand suddenly, making Alisaie squawk in surprise as she’s suddenly pulled against you, and you laugh, until the corrupt light you’re holding in surges in your chest, causing your vision to blur, and for Alisaie’s visage to become.. Muddled.
You see her, but not as she is. You see the Aether making up her soul and life, a glowing warmth that stirs a hunger in you nigh uncontainable, and worse, you can scent it in the air at this close distance, and before you can really think about what it is that you’re doing, you find yourself burying your nose in the crook of her neck and breathing deeply.
Her aether, you find, is extremely enticing, surging just beneath the skin. Your hands grip her, just slightly tighter, but another indignant, and quite frankly, well timed squawk on Alisaie’s part saves you from quite literally trying to take a bite out of her like she’s a fresh meal straight out of the oven. She shoves you, cheeks red in embarrassment, and you just tilt your head, and try to play off the fact that Emet-Selch, once again, was right. That you are becoming a monster that will kill your friends and drain them of their aether. Thankfully, your companion speaks up, snapping your focus back to reality and saves you from having to explain what just happened. What you were about to do.
“Is now truly the best time for those sorts of things!?” She asks- squeaks,, cheeks still right and red and she turns her head with a fiery indignance that makes you smile, that lets you pretend that things are… maybe normal, or as close as it can get where you’re concerned, for a moment. And you just shrug in response, giving an awkward, lopsided smile as you answer.
“I’ve been confined in this room for days now.” You lie, surprisingly smoothly. “I was hoping maybe we could--”
“Absolutely not! You were told not to strain yourself!” Her face is, at this point, certainly red enough to put Dalamud to shame. “And the others could be back at any moment and-”
And Alisaie gives you the verbal lashing of at least three lifetimes for your suggestion. But it’s brought her back to her spirits, and by the time she’s done with it, and you’ve been properly admonished, she’s grinning again, her eyes a little more lit with her usual fire.
“Nay, I think we’d best keep that bit for when you’ve been cured.”
“What do you suppose I’d look like?” You ask, perhaps suddenly, before you realize you’ve ruined the mood that had only just lifted.
“If I were to turn into a Sin Eater.” You continue on with a shrug, leaning back onto your arms, palms flat against the bed as Alisaie takes on an extremely displeased scowl.
“Well, you certainly know how to ruin a mood.” She scolds, again, eyebrows furrowed together in a look you can only describe as adorably irate. Which Alisaie would promptly cuff you for if you’d told her that out loud.
She sits herself on the edge of the bed, facing herself towards the wall, probably so she doesn’t have to look at you as she thinks, maybe remembers how Tesleen’s face warped and twisted hideously as she’d changed. As you watch her intently, you watch her lip twitch, and her eyes focus slightly, like she’s trying not to cry, like she’s trying to hold it in.
Alisaie won’t give you empty words, she won’t tell you that you’ll be fine, because she doesn’t know, and she’s not that type of person. You can see it as her expression twists, how she wants to tell you that you’ll be fine, because she wants to believe it herself, but she’s not Alphinaud. She deals in certainties, and not ideals.
It’s probably why you love her so much that it makes your heart hurt to think of any scenario where you might hurt her. Any of the Scions, really, but you know that Alisaie would take it the hardest. All of them look up to you, but Alisaie…
She hasn’t yet seen herself to be the Hero you think she is. She’s still scared and insecure, she still thinks herself as powerless, which is a load of Dzo dung, in your honest opinion, because you’ve seen her and what she’s capable of.
“Don’t.” She says, softly, voice breaking the silence after far too long a moment. “Don’t leave me here alone. You promised you wouldn’t. We promised each other that we wouldn’t leave each other. I know you remember.”
As her voice cracks in desperation, so does your heart.
“I won’t.” You decide, firmly. The corrupt light bubbles and simmers in your chest, as if agitated at your words, and you see Alisaie’s aetherial outline, and smell the all too enticing smell again, but this time you don’t move. Instead, you drum your fingers on the bed as an outlet for your inner agitation as Alisaie fixes her gaze on the wall, unwilling to look at you while on the verge of crying.
“Even if the Light wins, I won’t leave you. I won’t.”
That’s what gets Alisaies' attention enough to look at you, angry, incredulous- sad. “Don’t you dare make promises you can’t keep! You know as well as I do that if you turn you won’t be you! You won’t be able to just- to just decide not to hurt anyone!”
You drum your fingers again and hum, as if her words are entirely inconsequential in the face of your decision. “I just did.”
This in turn, makes the woman you treasure the most seethe, face red with anger now instead of embarrassment, and while it’s not as adorable, you still find yourself enjoying it. Anger is more preferable to her despondence, you think.
“Clearly you’d look like the Eater equivalent of an Aldgoat because you’re as stubborn as one!”
There’s a silence that follows, as the two of you parse what was just said. You blink at her once, twice, before her words fully register, and you-
Alisaie is the one to make the move this time, tackling you and shoving you back down against the bed with enough force that your elbows buckle, and you land back against it. You’re still laughing as she roughly shakes you by the lapels of your shirt and calls you all manner of unfortunate names that would make Giott proud.
When she finally tires herself of trying (and failing) to verbally beat sense into you, it’s (probably) late into the night. It’s late into the night, and Alisaie, having worn herself out, on top of you, her weight slight beneath your quite frankly unnatural strength. You’ve yet to let sleep claim you, out of fear of losing yourself so close to someone you love so much. Or maybe the silence is welcome, and for a change, Alisaie doesn’t have the worried purse of her lip on her face, or the tense posture she’s come to carry herself with around you and your condition. She’s peaceful, and maybe in her dreams, you’re not on the verge of being corrupted by light and becoming the monster that would usher in the 8th Umbral Calamity.
Gently, you throw your free arm that isn’t being clutched by her tight enough to threaten your circulation around the small elezen, and in response, she murmurs something soft in her sleep, and snuggles closer.
You’ll be fine, you reason internally. You’ll be fine, because there’s simply no other choice.