Author's Note: (wish I had control over this muse... -.- ) N'iway... um, I had to split this up, cause it was getting wayyy too long. So this one and the next ch. were supposed to be one, there's a lot that happens in this particular day, but I just split it so it wouldn't be too demanding of your time. Also, keep in mind, my current active project is Vipers and Devils. I don't know what triggered me to start writing for this one again, but it did. I would say, don't hold out hope for an immediate update. I guess just take it as it goes. I hope you enjoy the update. ;)
Ch. 3: Hung Over
Chronology: Present Day
Pain is the first coherent sensation of the day. Even before emeralds flutter open to life, the pain throbs in her head. Incessant, steady drum beats of marching-band ruthlessness tear through her skull and all she wants to do bash her head against something to make it stop. For a moment, she even truly considers it. The further she awakens, however, some sense of intellect alerts her that this course of action would only further her current agony.
Hnnngghhh… a moaning complaint as she draws the thick quilt over her head to shut out the world of the living. Fal'Cie…someone…just shoot me now.
The migraine isn't the worst of her situation either. Her stomach feels as though some small, furry creature had the misfortune to expire and rot in her gut, poisoning her from the inside out. She knows it isn't so. It's only the over-consumption of alcohol that has poisoned her. And that, she did all on her own. So maybe it's right that she should suffer.
Nnnnnggg… she groans as a wave of nausea slams into her with the force of a speeding truck. Her heart beats harder, faster for a moment, then she feels it. The twisting, grueling shudder. The impending, undeniable doom of that inevitable outcome.
The quilt flies off her body as she kicks it away and leans over the side of the bed. Her sick hits the floor with a wet plop, yesterday's food splatters messily onto the carpet below.
She should get up out of bed and clean her own mess. She knows this. But her body is too weak. Her arms have no strength to push herself up. So she reaches over to her nightstand and presses the red button on the intercom. "…James…" she calls wearily.
"Miss Yun?" the familiar voice of her loyal butler floats through the machine to her sensitive ears. She cringes and cups a hand over her exposed ear, the other, she tucks tightly against the pillow.
"I've been sick…again," She feels sheepish and horrid that someone else should have to clean up after her, but on the plus side, she pays him extremely well.
"Yes, Miss Yun. Right away," his voice is softer now, he knows without being told. He's cleaned up after far too many nights like last night.
The woman known only to her sister as Claire Farron stirs to the steady pounding of a jackhammer outside her bedroom window. "Hhhnnnggg!" she grumbles, "Go away!" She disappears back under the blankets, clutching her pillow over her head in a bid to keep out the incessant racket of the construction workers. The jackhammer stops abruptly. For several blessed moments, there is only sweet silence. Claire sighs blissfully, the gentle caress of sleep's pull lulls her most of the way back to the dark, deaf world she desires.
She yelps, bolting upright, her heart nearly beating out of her chest when the jackhammer starts up again. The sudden action is immediately regretted. She grits her teeth against the icepick tearing through her skull, as her brain plays catch-up with her body. Her knees come up to her chest on instinct. Her head crouches down toward them, to shield her from the brightness in her room. "Serah…" she groans miserably.
Soft steps pad along the carpeted hallway and Claire is grateful for the sound-absorbent plush material. A gentle tap announces her baby sister who pokes her head inside the door. "Claire?"
"Nnnngg" the miserable Farron-creature moans in reply to the fermented grapes decomposing in her stomach.
"Claire…?" softly, from the doorway again, "Are you al-"
The over-abundance of wine and other liquors makes a quick and merciless escape from the Farron woman's gut.
"Claire!" The younger Farron rushes over to the bed. She sits beside her older sister and keeps her hair to one side as another wave of vomit hits the floor. "Oh Claire…" she coos sympathetically, "We need to get you to the hospital," she says, rubbing her sister's back.
"Nnnn…" the older Farron replies. She swallows thickly and regrets it, tasting the yuck still on her tongue, "What…what are you…?" she pants. Still doing here? She finishes in her head.
The younger woman blushes. "…I didn't want to wake you…"
"SHIT!" Lightning yells. It's Serah's first day of high school all over again, at least, in the champagne blonde's mind. Lightning is supposed to go with her to register her for classes and set up a payment plan for her tuition.
"That's right," she mutters, ignoring her nausea, and throwing her legs over the side of the bed. "How could I forget?" she whispers, wondering aloud as she clutches her painful head in her hands.
She is answered immediately, memory flashing in the details for her.
…The brunette. Those strong, dexterous, anxious and desperate hands roaming all over her melting her into a mushpile of tingly shivers. She can't help herself, her voice carries on the night…
Her cheeks tint bright red. The momentary flash now gone, but the lingering memory of the tingles…
A shiver trails teasingly down the path of her spine.
"Ugh!" she scoffs, shaking her head at the involuntary intrusion of her mind by that woman.
!Nnngg! The pain is immediate. Her regret shortly following.
…Claire…note to self…No more sudden movement…got it?
"Yeah," she nods slowly as the pounding in her brain gradually subsides again.
Serah offers a hand, but her sister is reluctant to take it. The younger Farron quietly retracts said hand when her sister proves able to push herself from the bed under her own power.
The pink-haired temptress of Cocoon, that agile seductress, the graceful vixen of fantasy, alluring, the desire of all men-
-tangles in her own feet and comes crashing unattractively to the floor. The room spins violently, taunting her with the privileged knowledge of how much she had to drink the previous night, a sum that even Claire herself is uncertain of, in light of the new evidence.
"Shit!" she yells again, rubbing her aching jaw and shaking the cobwebs from her brain, in a bid to force herself sober. "Go. Get ready," she instructs, gathering her legs under her and pushing herself to her feet. "You're gonna have to drive,"
The younger Farron gives her sister one last pitying glance before rushing out of the room to get her purse and Lightning's car keys. The older Farron, meanwhile, leans against the doorframe with one hand and carefully picks the carpet fuzz from her tongue and teeth with the other.
"Hmm, hmmm, hm, lalala hm, hm…" A sweet voice hums cheerily. This at least is a voice Fang recognizes as she stumbles her weak and sickened way down the long, quiet hallway. She follows the sound of the voice, a source she knows is her comfort. Someone she's known her whole life, and yet, they've only recently become close. Vanille…
Fang's little redheaded shadow is rather happily making breakfast, skipping about the kitchen with an unnatural amount of enthusiasm. "Van…" Fang whispers softly, her tone heavy with pity.
Her miniature personage bounces about the kitchen, tending to the delicious-smelling foods. The dark sleeves adorning her forearms, an obvious mask for the guilt of a survivor. Fang's heart twitches painfully for her cousin, now her sole family.
The little redhead reaches for the skillet, intent on scrambling the eggs that lay frying in it, but her grip falters and she lets out a pained cry. Fang walks over to her side. The younger woman startles at her cousin's firm grip on her shoulders, before she is pulled into a warm, tight embrace.
"Fng!" she gasps, snuggling affectionately into the taller woman. Fang presses Vanille's head against her, laying her own on top of the ginger's. "weh uu na fishnet moo"
Fang pulls away. "What?" she asks, brow cocked over a jade eye.
Vanille giggles. "I said, "well you're in an affectionate mood!" She gasps. A smile lights her face. "Omigosh!… You got laid last night!" she squeals, stars sparkling in her eyes as she clasps her hands together in front of her.
Fang scoffs off-handedly and takes a step back. "It wasn't like that.."
"Don't try to lie," Vanille warns, "I can tell… So…who was she? Another rabid fan-girl? Falling all over herself with lust? Oh, I bet she thought she was straight, too! I mean, before she met you! How can anyone resist the handsome Oerba Yun Fang?" she gloats, brows waggling suggestively as she nudges Fang in the side with an inquisitive elbow.
"No, Bighead," Fang shakes her head, ruffling both hands through Vanille's hair. "And don't try to change the subject." Fang gives the smaller girl a steady, knowing glare and reaches for the skillet. She scrambles the eggs. Vanille blushes and attempts to walk away, turning to go sit at the table. Fang's voice stops her in her tracks.
"You said you wouldn't do it anymore…" Silence rules the air for a beat, then, softer, "Van, …you promised,"
Guilt stabs the redhead sharply. "I know," she sighs, ducking her head as she turns back toward the taller woman to plead her case. "I tried! Fang, I really tried this time!" her voice cracks as she begins to choke on the sudden wash of shameful tears strangling her. She sniffles loudly and buries her face in her hands. "…you…weren't there…"
Fang turns off the stove, breakfast forgotten. She strides over to Vanille and grasps the smaller woman in her arms again. Her own guilt assaulting her at Vanille's implication. Last night, while Fang was having the time of her life, the best lay she's ever had, with the most beautiful creature on the Maker's green Cocoon, Vanille was somewhere in this house, doing that awful thing, she'd sworn never to do again. Fang's heart, light upon waking, despite her physical misery, now breaks. It isn't that she's disappointed in Vanille. No, poor little Vanille. Instead, Fang is disappointed in herself. Maker, I need a drink. she thinks, squeezing Vanille tighter to her body, the younger crying into her shoulder, whimpering softly, "their faces…"
No. Fang asserts in her mind, left hand closing into a resolute fist where it rests against Vanille's back. No, you're not goin' down that road, again, Van.
"Hey…" Fang opens, pulling slightly away.
Vanille glances up, crystal greens expectant.
"Whatcha got planned for today?"
Vanille tilts her head and dons an inquisitive countenance, cherry brows furrowing, lips pursed to one side of her face "Well… I was supposed to register for classes… but… other than that I'm free all day." Here, she pauses a moment. "Why, Fang?"
The older woman pretends to consider something. Then, after a moment, "Y' wanna come t' work with me today? Check out some new candidates?"
"Sure!" Vanille throws her arms around her cousin and squeezes generously. "It's been so long since we've hung out! Fang, this is gonna be awesome! Thank you so much!"
"Ehhh..Vanille…not so…hard…" Fang wheezes around the growing constriction, as she tries to push the smaller girl away a little bit. Vanille's grip remains tight and true. Sighing in surrender to her squishy fate, Fang gently ruffles a hand through carroty locks.
A small blue Kia races through the streets. Tires screech a hissing halt at the warning red. The driver and passenger lurch forward and just as suddenly are thrown back. The passenger eyes the driver incredulously.
"Where the hell'd you learn how t' drive?" the woman in the passenger seat demands, clinging tightly to the oh shit! handle.
The driver replies with a sheepish smile. "From…you,"
The passenger nods, eyes wide. "Yeah, well… just…be careful…"
The driver glances at the time display the radio. "Shit," she mutters gently. "Hold on!" she warns the passenger and slams the pedal to the ground once the light is green.
Serah groans helplessly, head buried against her hands that still grip the top of the wheel. Blue lights flash angrily behind them. The police car comes to a halt. "Why me?" the younger Farron moans, utter despair taking her features.
The loudspeakers blare to life from behind. "Car 448-…"
Serah's eyes fill with fear as she turns to her sister while the loudspeaker calls out the license number of Claire's car. "What am I gonna do?"
"-and come to a complete stop. You are ordered to turn off your engine. Repeat. You are order-…"
Lightning's eyes light up. A gentle twitch takes the corner of her lips. "Switch places,"
Serah looks at her. "Claire, no. You'll get a DUI. It's your third strike, you'll go to jail! Do you know what they'd do to…" Serah blushes beet red at the thought, "…what they'd do to someone as pretty as you, in jail!" Serah is insistent on this, she's seen the movies and cop dramas on TV, and she isn't stupid enough to believe that it's all make-believe.
Lightning shakes her head quickly. "Serah," she glances back toward the lone officer who has stepped out of the squad car and is writing down her plate number on his notepad. "We don't have time, just do it. Come on, switch with me"
Serah reluctantly unsnaps her seatbelt buckle and is hauled by the wrist, over her sister's lap, who is quickly and simultaneously moving into the driver's seat. The younger Farron gives a worried sigh and snaps the passenger side seat belt across her body. She glances at her sister. Claire hastily adjusts her… bodily assets, to a more… readily viewable position, by a slip of the shoulder straps of last night's dress. Serah blushes heatedly, when she notices Claire purposefully inching the hem of the dress higher up her thighs. Her blush deepens when her sister spreads her legs slightly.
The sound of the officer's boots on the pavement draws her attention, just as Claire manages to snap her seatbelt in place. The older Farron glances out the window, all smiles for the unsuspecting man. "Good Morning, Officer," she placates toward the man, fluffy pink lashes batting unabashedly, voice holding up a fake, innocent lilt. "Is…something wrong…?"
Serah winces at the artificially high pitch to Claire's voice. Her heart sinks at the known signals, all the little not-so-unconscious things her sister is doing to distract the man, to direct his attention elsewhere. Serah has learned all of Claire's little tricks, the tools of her trade, and winces at how easily -almost automatically- Claire uses them.
"Do you know how fast you were going, Miss?" the officer demands, leaning slightly on the window.
Lightning gasps, an unusually girly sound coming from her. She looks up at the man, eyes wide, trembling only just so, just a flicker of fear. There's the hook…, Serah thinks ruefully, as she continues to watch the shameful display. Lightning touches her chest, a gesture meant, not to show concern, but rather to draw attention to her exposed cleavage, with just a teensy upward push of her hand, to plump. …Line… Now she's going to really lay it on thick, Serah knows.
Lightning's face mutates into the most cherubic expression the younger Farron didn't even know was possible. Her older sister looks positively adorable as she chews the thumb of her right hand and twirls her long, curly tresses around the index finger of her right hand. She has the most apologetic sincerity to belie her true intent. "Was I going fast?" she asks in that impossibly high, girlish voice that is not Claire's.
…beautiful setup…she really is good…
Lightning's bottom lip trembles precariously.
…here it comes…
Her eyes begin to water as her hands -seemingly absent-mindedly- trail down to her thighs, which she -seemingly nervously- spreads apart with her hands on her knees. She repeats the gesture, bowing her legs closed, then open again, as her face begins to crumble. "I'm sorry, Sir," she -seemingly- chokes, "..it's just…" she glances briefly to Serah, then back up at the officer. "This is my sister, she's on scholarship at Bodhum. Otherwise, we can't…can't afford- I - I didn't want her to be late…" she gasps for breath between fake sobs, "be-because of me…" Lightning lets go with the flood of crocodile tears.
Serah can't see his eyes behind the dark shades, but his brow creases, his head tilts, the line of his jaw softens.
The policeman steps back from the car and opens the door for Lightning. His voice is gentle. "Step out of the car, Miss"
Lightning follows along, seemingly playing into his hand, but Serah doesn't miss the quick thumbs-up Lightning throws her behind her back as she exits the car. The pair walk a few feet away, their voices trailing out.
"I'm sorry, Sir," Lightning sobs, " I didn't mean…"
The officer walks her slowly back toward his car, one arm around her, rubbing her shoulder lightly. "I'm sure we can work something out, Miss…"
Serah sighs and watches them in the rear-view mirror. She can't hear them now, but she doesn't need words. The gestures tell enough. Lightning doesn't say much, only looks down and away, rubs her arms conspicuously, but Serah can't tell if she's trying to look uncomfortable to the officer… or if she really just is uncomfortable right now.
That's what bothers Serah about all this. Not that her sister is a hooker, she can deal with that, but… does she really like doing it? Or…
Is she just doing it… for me?
Serah breaks from her thoughts, eyes drawing back to the rear-view. Lightning now has the officer putty in her manipulative little hands. She leans up on her toes and flirtatiously scrapes the nape of his hairline with her fingers. A few more words are exchanged. Lightning pulls back, but remains flirty, rubbing her hands over the man's shirted chest. The officer reaches into a pocket and quickly pulls out a bill. Lightning discreetly takes it, glancing around to make sure no one else has seen the exchange. A few moments later, they return to the car.
Lightning leans in to the driver's side window. "Don't worry, Serah," she says in her fake girly tone, "I'm going to go talk to the nice officer, so we can work things out. But I don't want you to be late, so you go on ahead while I handle this, and I'll meet up with you later, okay?"
Serah's jaw gapes. "Claire!" she protests loudly.
Lightning silences her with a stern look. " Serah." she warns, voice just a fraction lower, "Let me handle this. I'll meet up with you later, okay?"
Serah sighs dejectedly. She unclasps her seatbelt and slides over as her sister and the officer walk back to the squad car. Claire links one of the officer's arms in her own and rubs it in a way that makes Serah shudder to see it. Why does she have to be so straight all the time? Ugh!
"Wow, Van…" Fang marvels at the size and prestige of the campus, "Ya really did good with all them books, yeah?" She lets out a slow whistle as she scans the entire scope of the enormous college grounds. "It's sure a beaut," she concedes finally.
Vanille just beams at her and squeezes Fang's arm where it's linked with her own. Fang isn't put off by the touchy-feelyness of her cousin. It's just the way Van is, so she walks arm in arm with her, while all the jealous little college girls make googly eyes at her and then glare daggers at Vanille. Fortunately, Vanille remains blessedly oblivious, chattering away about her choice of classes.
They make their way through the twisting paths, Fang sometimes preferring to cut a short way across the nicely scaped lawn. Nearing the counselor's offices to confirm Vanille's choice of classes, Fang pauses.
Her heart hammers hard at the familiar champagne tresses. Hands sweating, she tries to think of something smooth to say. She opens her mouth, makes her approach.
The woman turns her head slightly. The words die on Fang's tongue.
Fang closes her mouth. She could have sworn…
But now that the young woman is turned closer to her and Vanille, Fang can see for certain that it isn't the same woman from last night. But that particular color… Fang has no words to truly describe the shade of light pinkish-somewhere between champagne and lilac, hair.
She studies the new pinkette curiously. The woman is young, perhaps just a freshman, like Vanille, and small. Fang can tell, even with the young woman sitting dejectedly on the steps leading up to the offices, that the she is physically just a tad smaller than Vanille. Her eyes are dark, just a shade darker than Lightning's.
A flash of memory snaps into Fang's mind. Those same eyes staring back at her.
Last night, Midnight:
Wait…what should I call you…if I wanna call you again..?
Lightning. Call me Lightning.
With that, the woman had walked out, and Fang had reached for a bottle, to drown the insistent loneliness that threatened to be her total undoing.
Etro's Breath, Fang thinks, shaking her head to clear her thoughts of the other woman. Why do I need to hold you so bad?
Even now, she can feel it. A nervous fidgeting of her hands. Usually, in Fang's case, that very same feeling leads to a bottle, but right now, all she can think of is that woman. The look in those haunting crystal blue eyes that had broken her heart when Lightning had asked of Fang only tenderness.
Fang has a thought as she studies the pink-haired girl. They must be family, the resemblance is…uncanny. A daughter, perhaps? It isn't impossible. The girl looks fairly young and hell, who knows how long that "Lightning" woman has been working the streets? Fang wasn't exactly sober last night, she could have mistaken the woman's age. Fang settles into deep thought, Vanille's chattering at her side nearly forgotten, as she keeps an eye on the young pinkette.
The girl on the steps before the counselor's office lays her chin in her hand, elbow balanced sloppily on a knee. She huffs a slow breath, blowing pink bangs out of her eyes. A few obviously boring moments pass drolly by her notice, before she checks the watch on her left wrist. With another sighing huff, she rolls her eyes and reaches into the small purse at her side. A quick hunt produces a small pink cell phone decorated in fake candy rhinestones, pink and white, of course. The girl flips the phone open, starts to dial, then shuts the phone and stands up, hands on her hips, attention drawn to the distance behind Fang and to the right.
A Bodhum Police cruiser lulls in the student parking lot, engine humming idly. Fang spares a glance back at the freshman. The girl's jaw is set tight, hand still on that slender hip, opposite foot tapping impatiently. Obviously upset.
The clacking of purposeful heels on concrete draws her attention back to the focus of the freshman's attention. Déjà vu hits Fang as she realizes, she recognizes those heels. And the legs that belong to them. The dress. That figure. Champagne tresses. Those eyes.
Fang is caught, dumbfounded, the proverbial deer-in-headlights as Lightning makes her approach to the younger version of herself. She further finds herself wondering when the younger "Lightning" makes her complaint vocal to her Lightning.
My Lightning. Hands fidgetting, fingers fumbling for something to grasp, Fang can feel herself smile stupidly. Her Lightning. She likes the sound of that.
"Ooofff!" Fang is caught off-guard by an elbow to the side, from an equally oblivious redhead.
"Fang look! She's… so beautiful…" Vanille murmurs, voice gone soft and hazy.
Fang glances over to her pink-haired goddess, "Yeah…" Fang likewise trails, "…she is…"
Vanille turns on Fang, eyes dangerous in all sincerity. "Don't you dare, Fang. She's mine! I saw her first!"
Cousin sufficiently warned, the redhead takes off, sprinting toward the pink goddess and her daughter(?) figure. Fang jogs behind, unsure what she's going to say to Lighting when she gets there, already trying to think up an apology for her over-enthused cousin.
"Um, hi," Vanille starts, blushing slightly as the two pinkettes turn around at the same time, "Are you like, new around here?" the blush crawls further up the redhead's neck, heating up her face and ears.
Fang catches up, huffing gently, lips curled apologetically at Lightning. Lightning's attention breaks from Vanille. Ice blue eyes glance over Fang, then narrow slightly.
"No," Serah replies, "We live here," she openly admits.
"Oh!" Vanille nods, "Well, I'm new, um, kinda. I just moved here a few months back, with my cousin. I'm Vanille by the way," she says, sticking out an expectant hand.
"Serah," the younger pinkette replies.
Vanille tilts her head, "So, what classes are you taking?"
While this is going on, Lightning stalks over to last night's job and pulls her aside, out of earshot of the youngers.
"What are you doing here?" she hisses.
The brunette has the gall to look slightly confused as she runs a nervous hand through her thick, dark mane. "Uh, registering my cousin?" she says, turning the statement into a question at the end.
"Cousin?" Lightning echoes.
The brunette points back the way they came, to the redhead conversing merrily with Lighting's sister. "Vanille. She's talkin to your… uh…your…" Please don't be her daughter. That would be really awkward. My cousin has a crush on your daughter. Yeah, extremely awkward. Especially after last night. "…your…" Fang spares the younger pinkette another glance. The answer mercifully presents itself. The resemblance between the two is uncanny. A daughter would mean they only shared half of their DNA, through Lightning, but the other girl looked far too much like Lightning. Much more so than an offspring would. As if they had both the same mother and father.
Lighting eyes the brunette, suspicious. "Are you stalking me?"
The brunette gives a snort and a chuckle, "Am I what?"
"Stalking me." Lightning reiterates, unamused.
The brunette furrows a brow. "Now why would I wanna do that?"
Lightning's eyes narrow. The hangover migraine is doing it's best to make her an irritable bitch, and she does little to actively fight it. "What do you want from me? And how'd you know she's my sister?" she demands.
Fang blushes hands fidgeting nervously at her sides. "I just…wanted to talk…and you, well, you just told me."
Lightning eyes the brunette a moment longer, sizing her up, weighing the honesty of her words. After a few grueling moments of harsh scrutiny under those intense crystalline eyes, Fang is released from their hold. Lightning glances away, down at the ground. Her voice is lower, nearly a whisper.
"Listen, I'm not-" gay, is what she wants to say. To assure the other woman, that last night was-is-just a job. It's just work, to a girl like Lightning. She finds she can't bring herself to say it. Don't fuck up a good thing, Light, she warns herself. Instead,
"I don't see clients, outside of work,"
Realization dawns in the emerald gems in front of her. "Ah…discretion. I get it," the brunette shrugs one shoulder, smiling openly at Lightning. She frowns slightly, a minute darkening of the eyes, a slight tensity to her features. She closes the gap between them and takes Lightning's hand in her own, gently caresses her thumb over Lightning's knuckles.
"What if I wanna see you again?" she whispers quietly.
Lightning swallows past a sudden thick sensation in her throat. Just that one touch, that simple tone in the other woman's voice is enough to summon a tittering swarm of flutterbys to her abdomen. Her defense is weak, but she throws it up anyway, a last resort.
"I don't even know your name,"
The other woman smiles disarmingly. "Fang. Call me Fang," she says, a gentle smirk playing at her mouth.
Lightning seems to break from her thoughts. She digs around in her purse and pulls out a pen and a scrap of paper. She jots down a number and hands the scrap to Fang.
"If you need me again, just page me."
Fang smiles confidently back at her. "I will."
Lightning nods politely and walks back to her sister. She arches one brow at the sight of Vanille and Serah, all four hands linked tightly, chattering away like they've known each other forever. Lightning rolls her eyes and lets out a soft sigh. Always knew she was too trusting.
"Come on, Serah," she says, taking the younger Farron's arm. Serah, caught by surprise, squeaks.
"Bye Vanille!" she calls affectionately, "See you tomorrow?"
"For sure!," Vanille calls back, waving. She turns at Fang's presence. "Oh, hi Fang!"
"Hey Bighead," Fang chuckles, running her hands through Vanille's orange bangs, "who ya got there?" she inclines her head toward the retreating pinkettes, the smaller of which keeps glancing back and waving in their direction, a slight blush on her cheeks.
"Oh, that's Serah. She's my new BFF! She's so smart, Fang! And Etro! Just … beautiful! Isn't she amazing, Fang?"
Fang just chuckles. "Someone's-got-a-cruuush…" she teases in a songlike tone, while poking the redhead in her sides. Vanille thrusts out an arm and tags Fang in the stomach.
"Oh, grow up, Fang," she dismisses, "I haven't got a crush."
Fang raises an eyebrow. "Oh, no? Cuz ya seem pretty crushed there to me,"
Vanille crosses her arms in front of her. "I'm in love, Fang. There's a difference!"
"Oh…really…?" Fang humors her cousin good-naturedly as they walk toward the guidance counselor's office.
"Serah, you know I don't like you talking to strangers," Lightning warns as they sit quietly in the guidance counselor's office waiting for the guidance counselor to finish with Serah's paperwork.
"She's not a stranger, Claire. Her name's Vanille. And she's so amazing, Claire! Did you know she's taking almost all the same classes I am? She's sooo smart! Maybe she can help me with the subjects I don't quite get." Serah lets out a soft sigh that sounds just a little too affectionate for Lightning's comfort.
"Oh…Claire…" she says with another soft sigh, as she clutches one hand to her heart "… is this what Love feels like?"
Lightning buries her head in her hands. The irony isn't lost on her. She thinks, Why are you asking me? Like I would know?