The Other Battlefield
You'll have to suspend belief in this story, presuming that once Fang and Vanille came out of crystal stasis, they awoke to an already well-established world, filled with technology and the likes. As well as this, presume somewhere as tropical as Gran Pulse suffers from winter… because well yeah. It just makes things easier that's all.
Lastly, please don't kill me for not updating Components or Cloak & Dagger, I'm just gathering my thoughts on the two that's all!
If someone told Fang that she was going to be one of the two remaining Oerbans, or even known living members of Pulse, she would have laughed in their face and told them where to go. If that same person told her that she would one day meet, and become companions with Cocoon Vipers, she would threaten to lance that person in the face. Therefore the very thought of becoming infatuated with one, was simply obscure.
The former l'Cie leaned back in her seat, regarding the rest of the cluttered table, having just helped to finish a large roasted bird. From across the table, Fang studied the object of her affection quietly, looking away often in case others grew suspicious.
This celebration of 'Christmas' or whatever Snow had called it, was unheard of to the Pulsian until the start of the month. Of all the people to ask, Fang had asked him, realising she would receive the most unbiased answer from him, that and maybe Sazh, but he was unavailable at the time.
'It's a time of giving and sharing in the festive joy,' He had said, highlighting the most important element, 'as well being a pain in the arse for the need to buy loved ones presents, mind you.'
Unsurprisingly, Vanille took to this newfound holiday slightly better than she did, rushing out to the shops to buy gifts almost immediately after learning about it. On the contrary, Fang had stayed indoors to ask Serah more about the subject, knowing she would hear nothing but praise on the subject, which she did. Naturally the topic of Lightning's dislike of the holiday season cropped up, and Fang wondered if the older Farron was ever happy.
The group, which consisted of all the l'Cie, and Sazh's son all declared their fill of turkey and stuffing, patting their stomachs and washing down the food with a drink of cider, wine and juice. Beside her, Vanille reached across the table for a cracker, tapping Fang on the forearm to alert her to the offering of the free end of the traditional Christmas piece.
"Come one Fang you're the only one who isn't wearing a hat!"
Frowning because that was simply untrue, Fang pointed towards Lightning who sat opposite Vanille. "She isn't wearing one."
However, Vanille gave her a look that said 'but you're not Lightning'.
"Fine." She sighed, accepting the cracker and giving it a tug. She won the majority and pulled the purple festive hat out of the packaging.
"Hey Light," Fang called, gaining the attention of the soldier with ease, "you not gonna wear a hat?"
Lightning glanced around the room with a vacant expression, and then said simply, "I don't have a cracker."
A quick sweep of the table and Fang effortlessly found a spare, "Here we go."
Lightning placed her small glass of wine down to grasp the cracker, all the while staring at Fang as they each pulled their end. Fang won again, but she put that down to Lightning not putting much effort into the task.
"Aw, that looks lovely on you Claire, the red suits your hair colour well." Serah beamed at her sister's new adornment.
"Yeah it's great." Lightning droned, pushing the hat further up her head, where it refused to stay.
From the head of the table, Sazh stood up, cracking his knuckles and gesturing to the kitchen.
"I now declare it time for pudding!"
"As long as it's not an Ectopudding." Hope joked.
Vanille's chair scraped back as the redhead leapt up. "I'll help to clear up!"
"Me too!" Serah chirped, beginning to collect the plates on her side.
The absence of her sister allowed Fang to get a better look around the table, not that Vanille had been blocking her view; Hope was clutching a large pint glass filled to the brim with cider, his face flushed red. His father had allowed him the exception of one alcoholic drink for the special occasion, which he had been thoroughly excited about. Whilst Snow was quickly eating the remainder of his food before Serah took it away from him, despite objections.
Fang sighed contentedly, whatever this holiday was about, it was rather enjoyable.
After dinner, the group moved into Sazh's living room where they had all dropped off their presents to each other, which they had yet to open. Snow was first into the room, diving under the tree to retrieve the present he bought for Serah.
"I hope you like it! There's more at home but this was my favourite." He thrust the present into Serah's unsuspecting face, and the younger Farron took it as graciously as possible, rubbing her nose.
"Oh, Moogle pyjamas! Snow, they're lovely!"
Everyone else began to open their presents, including Fang, who was delighted to find her first gift from Sazh to be set of tribal necklaces, much like the ones she normally wore.
"So who's up for a nice Christmassy dvd?" Serah asked whiles wielding a few she had received for Christmas.
"Ooh, yeah! A nice romantic one." Vanille squealed, diving on the sofa.
"Oh no, come on!" Sazh pleaded, "Something with a little bit of action at least."
"Yeah, we're not all into hopeless, lovey-dovey romantic films." Fang moaned, seating herself beside Vanille.
Regardless of Fang and Sazh's protests, everyone settled down within ten minutes and Snow switched off the lights before cuddling into to Serah. Beside them, Sazh sat with Dajh on his knee, who was leaning back sleepily on his chest. Hope chose to sprawl out on the rug where there was more space.
"You gonna sit down sis?" Snow asked Lightning, who was leaning casually against the wall.
"I'm not your sister." She murmured sounding bored of her new recent catchphrase, and took the only space left beside Fang.
The huntress held her breath as Lightning took her seat, and instantly all Fang could think about was the sergeant's body heat, intermingling with her own through their festive jumpers. It was a strange feeling, to be so aware of someone's innocent contact, a feeling Fang wasn't quite used to when it came to Lightning.
She looked over to the tree to distract herself, noticing a pile of forgotten gifts still under the branches, all addressed to Lightning, as Fang recognised her own gift lying there.
What's the matter with her? Even I opened my presents.
Unsurprisingly, halfway into the movie Fang had already grown bored, choosing instead to play with the hem of the blanket that Vanille had scattered over the female trio to keep warm. The redhead to her right had progressively started to fall asleep and lean her head upon Fang, which she didn't mind at all. In fact, it meant the huntress was a lot warmer.
She gave Lightning a small nudge, glad to see that the soldier seemed just as bored as she did.
"Care to join in?" Fang whispered, shifting her arm to invite Lightning to snuggle in. As expected of the stoic woman, she declined with a stiff shake of the head, but Fang wasn't going to take no for an answer.
From her peripheral vision, Fang admired the blue hue upon Lightning's skin from the television glare and the purple glow it added to her fair, pink hair.
"You're staring." Lightning murmured quietly, eyes never leaving the screen in front.
Fang's head twitched away from the soldier's face in surprise, "No I'm not."
"You're up to something." The soldier said quietly and left it at that.
Lightning was certainly assertive, even when relaxing, but Fang was happy to prove the fair-skinned beauty's theory right. Pulling out the oldest trick in the book and stretching her arm upwards and around the soldier's shoulder, Fang forced the soldier into the crook of her arm.
Although she didn't expect the soldier to go along with it and instantly relax into to her friendly embrace, she didn't expect the soldier to remain stiff and elbow her under the blankets.
The breath escaped her before she had time to stop herself, causing Serah to look suspiciously over at them from her place in Snow's arms. Lightning continued to look cool and unperturbed, as if nothing had happened, despite Fang's arm positioned awkwardly between them.
The younger Farron looked back away and Fang continued her pestering of the soldier, walking her fingers up Lightning's shoulder obviously, to try again. Within the darkness of the room, Fang was unable to see a faint blush creeping over Light's face, but she was aware that the heat emanating from the soldier had increased tenfold.
Good, so she was having an effect on the woman, whether it meant anything or not, the Pulsian enjoyed the reaction to her playful antics.
Her hand had been resting on the other woman's shoulder for just a fraction of a second when the soldier leapt up from her seat, flinging the covers from her knees and into Fang's face, startling everyone in the process.
"I need some air." Lightning declared.
Serah watched her sister leave before frowning towards Fang, who sheepishly removed the blanket from her face and pretended to look innocent. Vanille stirred in her sleep leaving Fang torn between letting the girl sleep on her or simply putting her to bed.
It had been requested by Sazh that the crew were to sleep over in order to keep both of the Katzroy boys company. Sazh blamed the death of his wife on the quietness of his home and insisted that the extra company would keep Dajh happy.
'The only thing is I don't have beds on tap. There's one double bed to sleep in and a free bed in Dajh's room because he's with me tonight. You guys can fight between yourselves.'
After the film had finished, Fang moved to scoop up Vanille and place her into bed, when the girl promptly woke up with a jolt.
"Oh! Did I miss the ending?" She yawned, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
"You missed more than the ending, sleepyhead," Sazh laughed, "now how about some board games?"
"Lightning isn't back from taking a breather yet, and that was… over an hour ago." Hope pointed out.
Everyone exchanged looks of guilt that they hadn't noticed. Naturally, Lightning's departure had been sitting at the back of Fang's mind as she continued to watch the film as she missed the soldier's presence and warmth.
"Hmph! What a Scrooge! She had better be in the kitchen." Serah stormed off to find her sister.
"What's a Scrooge?" Vanille asked Fang, who shrugged.
"Hell do I know, must be another Cocoon thing." She said before following Serah out of the door, wanting nothing more to check up on her soldier.
Serah stepped into the spacious kitchen ahead of Fang, who with regret, pulled back and waited in the hallway once she saw Lightning's brooding expression. She knew the importance of a sisterly chat, as she and Vanille often did. Fang watched through the crack in the doorway as Serah pulled up a chair to join Lightning in her one-man party. Even from the hallway, Fang's hunter instinct sensed a dark aura from the older Farron.
"What's gotten into you?" She asked softly, placing a hand upon Light's wrist. The soldier didn't seem to like the contact.
"Nothing, like I said earlier, I just needed to get out of the hot, stuffy room."
Serah sighed as Lightning pulled away from her. "You haven't even opened your presents from everyone yet."
Fang's throat tightened at Lightning's uncaring, almost sad tone.
"We're playing board games soon so once you've… cooled down, feel free to join us."
"Or we could play a few drinking games instead." Fang offered from the doorway, choosing then to appear as self-appointed mood-lightener. Serah had her opportunity to coax Lightning's problems to the surface, but clearly her lips were sealed.
"Ooh, do you know any, Fang?" Serah asked hopefully, looking appreciative of Fang's help.
"Yeah, fetch a few glasses and we can start off easy."
The younger Farron scrambled for empty glasses, much to Lightning's surprise as her head shot up instantly. The older woman watched as Serah opened every cupboard in her search for suitable utensils; causing Lightning to stand hastily, close each of the cupboard doors that Serah had carelessly left open and sigh audibly.
"Serah, you're not playing a drinking game. With Fang of all people."
She had not expected Lightning to speak up like that, but hearing the words fall from her mouth caused the dark-haired huntress to laugh and cross her arms defiantly.
"And why's that? She's old enough. Come on, Light you need to loosen up a little. I'll ask everyone else if they wanna play."
"Hope's not old enough and Dajh is still awake, Fang."
"Then we adults can play in here, while Hope and Dajh play board games."
Lightning rose to her feet, fingers resting on the oak table, icy eyes burning into Fang's as if attempting to project lasers. Fang shook her head disbelievingly. Lightning definitely did not own any of this 'Holiday Spirit' that her sister Serah constantly spoke about. It surprised Fang greatly at times like this, on just how contrasting the two sisters were, although their eyes were the same crystalline blue, the older Farron's eyes contained ninety-nine percent more hostility in them.
Serah's squeal of joy broke the slight tension and two more glasses were placed on the table. Fang sat down across from Lightning, who remained standing but took a swig of her own drink.
I've probably set her off acting like this by messing with her before.
"I take it you're not gonna join, so how about we all enjoy a drink and we can do something you wanna do, does that sound good to you?"
"Anything?" Her voice didn't as much perk up but highlight an underlying devilish tone within.
"Anything." Fang smirked, mentally adding 'like if you suggested putting that double bed to some good uses, I'd be up for it.'
Fang watched as Lightning's slender fingers traced the outline of her glass over and over again as she thought. When her fingers stopped moving, Fang understood that she had come to an answer.
"Spar?" Fang's eyebrows rose, pleasantly surprised. "That's a good idea, hand to hand I'm guessing?"
Ignoring the calls of her sister, Lightning nodded to an open kitchen cupboard, filled with cleaning supplies.
"We could use broom handles and do it in the garage." Lightning suggested.
With that, Fang burst out laughing, slamming her palm forcefully on the table as she did so; the mental image of replacing her lance with a mop was too much. The whiskey in Light's glass must have taken effect, as this was the l'Cie leader she knew and loved, despite the seriousness still apparent in her tone.
An idea struck Fang, perhaps harder than any blow she ever received from Lightning, even including their first meeting. What if they combined a drinking game with sparring? Lightning couldn't possibly say no!
"You're on, but why don't we make it a little more interesting?" Fang asked, watching this time as Lightning tapped her nails against the glass instead, which was fairly distracting.
"We spar, but loser of each round has to drink a nasty cocktail of drinks… which Serah can make."
Lightning's following smirk caused Fang's heart to leap almost into her throat, just by the sheer beauty of her face.
"Is that a yes?"
Lightning didn't respond in the typical way, wasting no time in downing her drink. If the whiskey had a burn to it, she showed no signs of weakness as the liquid slid down her throat.
Fang mirrored her actions and followed her into the garage, which unlike the rest of the house was freezing cold. Clouds of breath followed their every exhale and Fang's wild hair stood even more on end. Taking the situation seriously, Lightning stretched the muscles in her left leg, holding it for ten seconds before changing to her right leg.
Fang was transfixed on the soldier's body as she relived the same stretching exercises that Lightning used to practice in the wilderness of Gran Pulse. When the pink haired beauty propped her leg upon Sazh's workbench to stretch further, Fang didn't hesitate to follow the length of Light's leg. She was clad in black shorts and grey woollen tights that highlighted the curve of her rear, whilst reminding Fang what the shape of her luscious legs looked like.
On the other hand, Fang's preparation was simply a crack of her knuckles.
It took another five minutes of drawn out waiting until Lightning was ready, yet for all it was worth, Fang could have watched her for hours. Did Lightning know she was this gorgeous?
"Are you ready?"
Fang mentally slapped herself and forced her drooling mouth closed. If Serah had been in the room, the Oerban would have been mortified for the girl at the very obvious display of her desire but she was sure Lightning hadn't noticed.
They both readied themselves to their individual battle stances; Fang preferred to be low, like a crouching panther, whilst Lightning always favoured being light on her toes.
"Three," Serah's voice cut in from the doorway, her tiny hands burdened by a tray of impressively coloured and downright disgusting looking drinks, "Two."
Deep breath, Fang.
Serah had barely finished the word when Lightning leapt forward with a right hook. Fang only just had time to block, crossing her arms in front of her face protectively. Her wrists took the blow, then moved swiftly downwards to block Lightning's oncoming left hook.
"Calm down, Light. This is a spar."
Fang's hands met the concrete floor as she twisted her body three-sixty, sweeping her taut leg out to knock Lightning off of her feet, the soldier jumped back easily but Fang wouldn't let her land before charging at her.
Usually their spars would consist of grappling moves only, but if the sergeant wanted it a bit rougher, well, she would get it.
Fang's charge was reminiscent of a Behemoth on a rampage, sending Light crashing back first into the wall with a grunt; one of the many homemade shelves rattled, sending paint cans toppling over the couple.
Fang was shoved away during the distracting commotion and she stumbled back, stepping on one of the tins of paint and fell unceremoniously upon her back in a move unfitting of a proud member of the Yun clan.
If her ancestors were watching her now, they'd either be howling at her slip up, or shaking their heads at her demise.
A boot pressed itself somewhat gently to her throat and to say that Lightning looked pleased would be an understatement.
She was allowed to sit up, as Serah passed the huntress a tall glass containing a questionable murky brown, dirty dishwater like drink. It tasted both strong and sweet and upon licking her lips; Fang could pick out vodka and wine.
"What's with the colour of it? And what are these little floaty bits? The texture is awful!" Fang spluttered.
Lightning silenced any more questions by tipping the glass towards Fang's mouth more, her lips pouting as she aided Fang in her drinking.
"Just down it, Fang."
Serah giggled, counting on her fingers as Fang took large gulps with disdain.
"Well it's got cola, pepper, cider, wine, vodka and strawberry milkshake – that's the little white bits you can see and feel."
Fang hacked at the texture of the drink sloshing down her throat, as laughter played on her drenched lips. Lightning still kept control of the glass, her fine eyebrows rose slightly as she tilted it upwards more, her mouth gradually opening in an expression not unlike when a parent feeding their baby. After what seemed an eternity, the nasty concoction was finally finished.
Lightning stood up slowly to take her place at the opposite side of the garage, picking up a wooden-handled broom as she did so.
Fang scrambled to her own end, choosing a mop as her weapon of choice, as Fang decided that Light's humiliation would come from being slapped in a face with a semi-wet mop.
Serah began to count down once more, however both women wasted no time with pointless battle stances. Just as she would her lance, Fang twirled the mop handle overhead, spinning it down her left side, before changing to her right.
Regretfully, Fang realised that she had not used her lance in a long time, as her recent busy schedule did not allow for hobbies.
"Gonna wipe that stupid ass smirk off your face literally, Light." Fang teased, brandishing the mop end towards the soldier.
Lightning moved first, holding the broom like she would her gunblade, however this weapon was thankfully blunted. Fang remembered only too well the burning feeling of steel slicing through her brand arm during one of their many spars.
A block, a parry and the huntress felt back in her element. Sure, they weren't as fast or as strong as they were in their l'Cie days, but under the circumstances they were in a year ago, it was understandably needed.
Lightning arced the stick upwards, slicing the air noisily past Fang's face. The wind it created sent a chill down the right side of Fang's cheek, it certainly would have hurt had it hit her.
It was clear to Fang that she was at a disadvantage, as the length of the mop handle was nowhere near the length of her spear, but it would have to do. Nevertheless, the minor draw back did not stop Fang from placing a hard strike on Lightning's thigh, drawing a hissing breath from the soldier.
Knowing all too well that Lightning's speed was far superior to her own due to her lighter form, Fang's tactics turned to slowing the soldier down, aim for her legs and slow her down with pain.
She felt motivated to win this round just to see her blue-eyed beauty chug a revolting drink, to watch her unwind and enjoy this 'Christmas' a bit more would surely make her evening.
And to get to that point, she would just have to wear her down with sparring, by the looks of it.
"Stuck for ideas?" Lightning roared, commenting on Fang's decision to reprise her sentinel role and take everything Lightning offered.
"Attack, for goodness sake!"
Twisting her weapon almost hypnotically, Lightning displayed to Fang the extent of her athletic, almost theatrical prowess, only to have her hit deflected to Fang's own surprise. Fang felt as though any block she made was down to sheer luck as he own moves became clumsy in her attempt to parry.
Between her thoughts of Sergeant Farron and trying to avoid a solid hit to the face with a broomstick, Fang noticed with a mild pleasure at Lightning's growing impatience with their fight.
"Serah, this next drink's gotta be a good'un," Fang twirled her makeshift lance overhead, "coz this one here is gonna be drinking it!"
Twirling like a dancer to the left, Fang leapt in the air with as much force as she could muster, bringing down the mop handle hard. As Lightning held her own weapon with both hands to block, a resounding crack echoed through the room as Fang snapped Lightning's weapon in half.
Lightning's face was a picture of shock and somewhere behind Fang, Serah gasped, also giggling out 'Whoa ho!' as if the two were going to get in trouble for causing a mess and breaking things.
Lightning stumbled back with the two halves of the cleaning utensil; from the look on her face the impact had caused some pain in her wrists. Using the mop end of her weapon, Fang made the finishing blows to Light's stomach, before forcing it upwards to uppercut her.
Stabbing the mop at the ground with victory, Fang stood back to watch Lightning flush red with embarrassment, wiping wet residue from her chin.
Fang and Serah shared a laugh as Lightning stepped towards the drinks tray.
"This one's yours." Serah giggled behind her hand, offering an opaque green drink to her sister, whose pride was now as hurt as her body.
Lightning snatched it away, eyeing it distastefully before taking an experimental sip, which resulted in the pink-haired woman poking his tongue out in disgust. Fang's heart swelled up in her chest at the sight of her face, which was the cutest expression Lightning had pulled to date. Fang smiled.
The soldier chose to look at her at that point and the huntress looked away, coughing nervously. She was acting like such a schoolchild! Had it been any other person, Fang might've been able to hold the stare, but right now those icy eyes were just too much.
Lightning took a little longer than Fang did to drink her forfeit, which she put down to her lesser practice in drinking.
"Heeeeeey! What's the hell's all this?" Sazh bellowed from the doorway that separated the kitchen and the garage.
With his hands placed almost comically at either side of his head, Sazh gawped at the tins of paint – which thankfully hadn't opened – scattered across the floor carelessly. He stared disbelievingly at the shards of a broom in Lightning's left hand, shaking his head as if he expected more from the l'Cie leader.
"Er…" Was all Lightning could offer, watching Serah slip past the older man with an unused drink still in her hands.
"Ignore what you see here, old man." Fang said, waving off the mess with her hand. Grasping Lightning by her tense shoulders, she guided them back into the living room.
"Gosh, Fang where've you been! We had to start the games without you!" Vanille whined, brandishing a set of dice. Hope also looked like he was playing between acting like a chocobo to Dajh's amusement, who was sat on his back, the baby chocobo hopping happily on Dajh's shoulder in kind.
From the sofa Snow sighed, looking bored of the board game that he wasn't playing and Fang certainly felt sorry for him.
"You look tired, big guy." Sazh observed. "Why not have an early night tonight?"
A well-timed yawn followed from the blonde brawler, who nodded in defeat.
"Actually," Serah chimed in, "I'm feeling pretty tired too…"
Fang instantly knew where this was going and as if someone had just flipped an on switch, Lightning went straight into protective sister mode.
"If you're suggesting that you're going to share a bed with – him – you have another thing coming!"
Her fists balled and she began to roll up the sleeves of her sweater and suddenly the atmosphere in the room turned tense.
"Now come on si- Lightning, it's Christmas! Let's not fight." Snow said calmly.
"Shut your face."
Serah rushed in front of Snow the second Lightning's fist raised and Sazh raced to grab Lightning's wrist. He didn't manage to keep hold for long as Lightning struggled her way out of his grip and shoved him aside.
"Hey, hey! Soldier girl, no violence."
"Obviously we didn't spar enough before." Fang joked, watching the soldier's eyes flare in her direction for a short while, before returning to Snow and Serah.
"Listen, Claire." Serah pleaded, grabbing her sister lovingly by the forearms, "whether you like it or not, he's my boyfriend."
Lightning flinched at the word 'boyfriend' and took a slow step back, her fist still quivering.
"You're not sleeping in the same bed as him, Serah."
"Yes, I am."
"No, you're not."
"Yes, I am, Claire. Stop acting like my parent, because you're not, you're my supportive sister who needs to accept the fact I'm not a little kid anymore!"
Serah leapt forward and gave Lightning a squeeze, before exiting with Snow in tow, who wished everyone a good night before exiting. Wisely, his eyes avoided Lightning's as he passed.
The tension that was left in the room, Fang was sure she could cut with her lance, had she brought it. Standing to attention, Hope retrieved his phone from his pocket.
"I'll… call my dad to pick me up now."
"Pick you up?" Vanille frowned. "But you live far away!"
Hope smiled faintly.
"I know but he's here in New Bodhum on business, he's staying at a hotel nearby, so I'll just be sleeping there."
"You sure? I mean you're welcome to stay." Sazh said, patting the silver-haired boy on the back for reassurance.
"No, I'm sure. But thanks for having me over."
Hope wasn't picked up until almost midnight; during which Dajh had been put to bed by his doting father. The three remaining females sat in silence, staring at the television – which had been turned off – out of habit. When Sazh returned, his own festive jumper had been replaced by blue striped pyjamas and a dressing gown.
"I hate to be the boring old timer, but I'm pretty damn tired myself, so feel free to make yourself at home and all that, you know where the fridge is."
"I'm pretty tired too actually." Vanille yawned, moving to the hallway to grab her own change of clothes.
Fang thanked Lady Luck herself that she was left with her favourite Cocoon native.
"What is it this time?" Lightning sighed.
"We've been left without beds."
Lightning contemplated the sentence, switching between looking at Fang and out into the hallway.
"Sofas it is. I'll grab some blankets."
Fang sank down into the seat behind her, watching the woman leave the room with a tempting sway of her hips. When Lightning returned, Fang prayed her half-lidded eyes were mistaken for sleepiness and not admiration.
They each sat on their respective sofa, with Fang sitting on the one Serah, Snow and Sazh had been using earlier. Without anything to say, the two were left in an awkward silence, and although Fang didn't want to blame Lightning for causing such as atmosphere to begin with, she did.
"You, er… had a nice day then?" Fang tried pathetically.
Lightning leaned her head back to rest against the sofa. "Yeah, minus what happened earlier, it's definitely been one of my better Christmases."
"It doesn't sound like it has been, I mean you still sound pretty sad about this whole affair."
Lightning laughed, although it sounded more like a small huff.
"I'm just not a fan of Christmas, but believe me, it… hasn't been bad this year."
"So when are you gonna open your presents?"
Lightning's head reluctantly moved towards her forgotten gifts under the tree, but Fang wasn't sure if that was because she hadn't bought gifts for anyone herself. The Oerban watched as Lightning took a deep breath, bracing herself to meet the cold air from he place under the blankets.
The soldier took a long time to choose a present to open, which Fang put down to Lightning wanting to open the gift she had gotten for her, out of courtesy. This she didn't mind at all, as it meant Fang could appreciate Lightning from behind once again, loving the fact her pyjamas bottoms were patterned with roses. It reminded Fang of their Eidolon crystals and more specifically, Lightning's.
Lightning returned to her makeshift bed, cradling the small package in her hand, as if holding raindrops. Fang was right in that Lightning had been looking for her gift she had gotten her.
Eyes never straying, Lightning picked at the packaging and nipped at the ribbons that Fang chose to include. Her cheeks felt ablaze when Lightning picked out several different coloured, fine bracelets.
"It's er, the same bracelets me and Vanille wear-"
Her voice was soft, "Yeah... I know."
Although her face was straight when she said it, Lightning's voice betrayed her emotion, with a peculiar softness in her tone that Fang had never heard before. Had it not been for the strands of hair covering her eyes, Fang was pretty damn sure her eyes would have told a tale as well.
"Thought you deserved some too, y'know? The three of us worked pretty good together in battle." Fang awkwardly rattled on, rubbing the back of her neck, embarrassed.
Lightning placed the bracelets on her small wrist and admired each separate piece by tracing the metal with her finger.
Fang's heart skipped a beat yet again that night, and she couldn't help but give in to the smile tugging at her lips.
"Ahh, it's nothin' really."
The two women snuggled further into their respective covers, until Fang grew bored of the silence and reached back lazily, she was about to withdraw back under the warmth when her fingernails tapped against a glass cabinet behind her.
"Hmm?" Fang said, sounding almost if she were in a daze. "Ah."
Her peculiar noises must've alerted Lightning as the sofa moaned under her movement, meaning her next few moves of rummaging through the cabinet had to be graceful as possible to draw as much attention to her elegance. Except instead, bottles tipped and clattered, chiming throughout the room noisily.
Oh yeah, smoothly does it, Fang.
Her restless fingers settled on a fat bottle with a thin neck. She had just discovered her favourite brand of flavoured vodka shots.
"Care for a round three?" Fang smirked, shaking the three-quarter full bottle with glee.
Silence, and then…
Lightning rose from her seat, taking blankets and all with her, forcing Fang to shift over to give her some room. As Lightning tried to get comfortable, Fang began to unscrew the lid, clumsily pouring the liquid into her mouth, for the lack of shot glasses present.
The drink was sweet, with a vodka kick that only hit Fang's tongue once she'd swallowed.
Offering the bottle with a cheeky wink, Fang watched Lightning with nothing less than high regard as she took a swig.
"Gah! That's sweet." Fang chuckled at her reaction, taking the bottle back to take another drink. "Cherry. Not bad."
They exchanged the bottle between one another until there was only enough for one mouthful. Wanting to display her chivalry, Fang offered the last drops to the solider, who took it with a shrug.
"So… what's your favourite colour?" Fang asked, once again walking her fingers up the sergeant's bared arm, feeling nothing but satisfaction when her trail left Lightning shivering.
Obviously the alcohol had lowered her defences, but not by much, as Fang received another elbow to the side, although softer than earlier.
"Teal." Lightning muttered, pulling the covers up to her chin to halt Fang's annoying touches. "But that's a random thing to ask."
"Ah you know, just trying to know you better… you're very reserved." She brushed some hair away from Lightning's face, to which the soldier responded with an awkward twitch of her head. "And terrible with physical contact."
Head tilting lazily back, Lightning exhaled softly, displaying how tired she was feeling.
"I know I'm not… good with… people." She yawned.
Lightning in a sleepy state was not something Fang could remember from their days trawling around Gran Pulse. As the self-appointed leader, she was always last to sleep and first to rise, which Fang found impossible to keep up with. But here she was, slightly intoxicated, sleepy and sitting by Fang. In a last attempt to get what she wanted from the soldier, Fang shuffled closer.
"Well, y'know how you didn't get anyone presents?"
A flash of regret.
"I think I'd like my gift from you to be a nice cuddle."
Lightning's head tilted to look at Fang sceptically through half-closed eyes, without another word she shuffled closer to Fang's shoulder, lips drawing closer to Fang's burning ear. Fang involuntarily shuddered.
"No." Lightning giggled.
And it almost made up for the rejection of a cuddle. Despite the refusal for the hug, Lightning didn't move from her seat by Fang, choosing instead to rest her head on the opposite arm of the sofa.
"And just because I'm going to sleep," She muttered with her eyes closed, "it doesn't mean you can stare at me."
Fang's breath hitched uncomfortably in her throat, and regardless of Lightning's comment she stared at her in disbelief. Was her staring really that obvious? Or was that a comment meant to wind her up?
Either way, Lightning's hot breath still tickled her ear, her fingers tingled and her heartbeat doubled, no, tripled.
"What? Not even a yes to spooning?" Fang pouted in the darkness, believing Lightning to be sound asleep.
Fang lay back against the opposite arm of the sofa, not quite lying down, but not quite sitting up either. Against Lightning's wishes, Fang stared anyway, because admiring her porcelain frame was the next best thing from touching it.
It was discomforting being so close to Lightning, yet knowing that she would never be closer. She felt empty, like her stomach was in fact where her throat should be, leaving her feeling hollow and unable to swallow. Had she been a weaker being, she would have shed a tear.
It would be a lie to say that had thought about giving up on the solider, as any moves she'd made in the past were met with rejection. However, the huntress knew that it was always her Lightning looked to for comfort - an awkward hug instigated by Fang and joyful whisperings the day of her reawakening from Cocoon's crystal base told her that.
Ah, but I have the rest of my life to figure this one out.
The fact she was still twenty-one – physically – even proved that Lady Luck was on her side.
Pleased to be even sharing a seat with Lightning, Fang renewed her thoughts of this fairly close contact as a blessing, finally resting her head upon the pillow wedged between her and the sofa.
Jolting awake, Fang instantly switched between clutching at her heated forehead and cheeks. Her train of thought from the night had lead to her shamefully dreaming about her ex-l'Cie leader, and it wasn't innocent. She'd started off lying where she was now, yet her dream-self was unaware of her previous feelings of rejection. Starting from the soldier's feet, she'd trailed kisses up her toned leg, caressing the other as not to neglect, before lazily licking her way up to Lightning's lips from her stomach upwards. Her hand daringly tested the elastic waistband of rose patterned pyjamas, before slipping their way between Lightning's ready thighs.
Upon remembering, a wave of fresh arousal flooded through her, causing Fang to dig her nails deeply into the flesh of her leg where her hand was resting, surprising herself only when she didn't feel the biting of her nails. Instead, her resting companion jumped miles high into the air.
A laugh escaped Fang's lips before she could fully comprehend what she'd done.
"Sorry, Light. I thought that was my leg." Fang explained as the Cocoon native ripped the covers over their bodies to inspect the damage.
Her pyjamas had ridden up her calf, allowing both women to see the pattern of five crescent shaped nail marks that trailed like footsteps in the sand up Lightning's leg. The marks were an ugly red blemish against her naturally pale and ever so lovely skin, as was the crease forming between her brows as she gradually woke up with irritation to start her day.
"I don't care if it was meant to be your leg or not, what were you trying to achieve by digging your nails in so hard?"
I was trying to achieve a bloody clear head.
"I was pinching myself to see if I was awake," Fang retorted more harshly than she intended, "and goin' by the rule book… since I didn't feel anything I'm therefore still dreamin' so g'night."
"That makes no sense, Fang."
Instead of flopping back down and pretending to sleep again, Fang threw her covers over Lightning's fuming head, drowning her in darkness. Judging from the muted sigh of defeat from under the blanket, Fang guessed she had just gotten away with the little accident.
Whatever time is was, it was surely time for a hot coffee.
"Gooooood mooooorning!" Vanille sang as she entered the bright kitchen. Fang's back faced the table that everyone had gathered around, each holding an assorted mug of the golden liquid. The smell of coffee wafting throughout the sleepy household had alerted everyone to the fact it was a new day, or Boxing Day, as Fang remembered Serah mentioning.
"Morning, little lady!" Sazh greeted from the head of the table, which was followed by less enthusiastic chorus from Fang and the others. As Fang grabbed another mug, the chairs behind her scraped clockwise around the table to accommodate the extra person. The kettle clicked, signalling the end of it boiling, and Fang welcomed the hot steam pouring skywards with a cold hand, which she hovered over the spout.
Gran Pulse was always a land of extremes: extreme monsters, extreme climates and extremely cool people such as Vanille and herself. Yes, the Cocoon side of the l'Cie party brushed off the fact that somewhere as tropical as Gran Pulse could suffer from the wildest of winters. Until they experienced it firsthand, of course.
Finished stirring the milk and three sugars, Fang handed the hot drink to Vanille, who, much to everyone else's annoyance, disregarded the space made for her at the table to leap on the counter next to her.
"So guys," Snow spoke, sensing Vanille being glared at from Lightning's side of the table, "what's on the agenda today? I reckon a good snowball fight would be fun later."
"Yeah! And perhaps Vanille and I could bake cakes and brownies and oh… that is if it's okay with you Sazh?" Serah asked. Her eyes, though the same striking icy blue as her sister, were strangely more heart warming and welcoming. And persuading.
So much bloody difference between the two.
"Yeah, that'll be fun!" Vanille cheered.
"Wait what're we doing?" Fang frowned, torn from her deep thoughts of comparison.
From her left, Vanille prodded invasively at Fang's temple, telling her to listen harder. "A snowman building competition, Fang. Stay alert."
"Sounds good… only if Light plays." Fang smirked over her own warm coffee. She grasped the mug a little tighter when the soldier's eyes flicked up in a fierce, heart-stopping stare.
"If it means I get to make one that looks like Snow, then knock it's block off, then I'm in."
The group laughed once at the thought, then twice at Snow's delayed reaction of mock hurt. As the party began to file out of the kitchen to get ready, Snow shook his head disbelievingly, placing his bear-like hands upon Serah's tiny shoulders.
"Sis is still out to get me." He whispered out of earshot to Lightning, to which Serah responded by lightly grasping his hand affectionately in a way that made Fang smile inwardly.
"Just be thankful that it'll be the snowman on the receiving end of her punches."
After a speedy change into warmer attire than she was used to, Fang emerged from the house and into the crisp outdoors, tugging at the blue woollen scarf Serah had bought for her as a present. It wasn't that she was ungrateful for the gift, but the huntress wasn't used to such a constraint around her neck, with the exception of Lightning's hands when she pissed her off occasionally.
The winters of Gran Pulse were harsher than she remembered; although it had been well over five hundred years now since she'd last witnessed one. Her warmer clothes were not traditional-looking like her sari, nor did they shout about her uniqueness as a Pulsian. Within her mind, Fang could've complained about most of the things she was currently wearing, which was until a ball of intrusive snow hit her face.
The stinging sensation was instant, freezing the right side of her face so that one side appeared as dumbstruck as some of Snow's expressions.
"Who the bloody fuck was that?" She half-laughed, wiping the substance from her face.
"Language, missy!" Sazh hissed, pointing to his son who had taken interest in the new word.
After a quick apology, Fang scanned the area for a guilty face, bending low to scoop up a missile of her own to throw. Lightning wasn't out of the house yet and, glancing to her left, Vanille was too occupied in rolling snow by the corner of the house.
However a light, innocent giggle sounded Snow's direction, which by Fang's reckoning, could never belong to such a hefty man as him.
"What you planning on doing with that snowball, Fang?" Snow laughed, concealing Serah behind his back.
Carefully inching forward, Fang tossed the snowball up into the air before catching it again in her palm, "Hidin' her won't stop me, big guy!" Fang warned with a devilish smile.
Aiming well and true, Fang's grip on the snowball loosened and, watching with glee, the snowball pelted Snow firmly in the neck. Snow choked, rolling off to the side wounded, to reveal her attacker.
Taking cautious steps back, Serah gave Fang one of her innocent stares, "You know you don't want to get me back…"
"Oh, but I do! There's no one to protect you now!"
A new voice joined the conversation.
The euphoric sound of whistling reached her ears from behind, the next feeling sending shivers down her spine as if someone had poured snow down her back. Seconds later, Fang realised she had gotten snow down her back as it seeped through her sweater and into her skin.
Turning sharply, Fang's vision was cut off prematurely as another wad of snow smashed her in the face. The culprit was certainly going to get their face scrubbed with the dirtiest snow she could find.
"You got it in my bloody ear!" Fang shuddered, wasting no time on grabbing ammunition. There was only one person who would dare to hit her twice.
The huntress ducked low, sensing a snowball glide through the air towards her from Snow – which missed - and sprang forward towards Lightning, who ran left, close to where Vanille was playing.
The tail of Lightning's crimson scarf danced behind the soldier as Fang pursued the woman. The item brought a nostalgic feeling to Fang, whose thoughts quickly flickered to imagine Lightning running ahead in Palumpolum, cape flapping in the wind.
Fang continued to chase the other woman until it was clear that Lightning had the speed advantage and soon after pausing for breath, Lightning ensured a fair distance between them before stopping also.
Fang bent low, scooping snow into her palms whilst keeping light on her toes in case of another attack by her so called 'friends'. She compressed the snow until she was happy that it would travel a fair distance and wouldn't fall apart mid-flight, before judging how far she'd need to throw it to hit Lightning.
"If you think I'm going to take my eyes off you for a second, then think again." Lightning warned from across the snow-covered yard. The soldier's keen eyes watched her like a predator, hungry and almost unblinkingly. Except Fang knew, that she was the only predator here.
At the back of her mind, Fang knew that with Light watching, she was not going to succeed in a direct hit, therefore when Sazh sneaked up from behind to grab the sergeant by the arms, Fang rejoiced loudly.
"What the- get off!"
"Hurry up! Or she'll get out and break these old bones!" Sazh panted, heaving Lightning's arms back further so he could provide Fang more time.
Wasting no time, Fang jogged up to Lightning, tossing the ball of snow up in the air as she closed in.
"Ooh Fang… I wouldn't do that if I were you…" Serah advised somewhere from the sidelines, but Fang knew exactly what she was getting herself in for.
The soldier's glare was as icy as the weather around them, her next words sounding equally as threatening as they did challenging. "You dare."
"Oh, I dare." Fang purred, and in one swift motion, the snow in her hand connected with Lightning's stunned face. For good measure, as well as for the payback she would receive later, Fang continued to scrub it into Lightning's scrunched up face.
Fang staggered back with laughter, admiring her work; the pissed off older Farron's face was caked in white, although the skin behind it was flushed as pink as her hair.
Unbeknownst to Fang, Sazh had long let go of Lightning who, after a quick recovery of composure, threw herself at Fang with a great force that knocked the remaining air from her lungs.
The landing was surprisingly hard, and unsurprisingly cold as her back met the chill of the blanketed ground. She opened her eyes with a squint to see Lightning kneeling over her; legs placed either side of her waist. At least she would die under such a pleasing sight, with Lightning's lips curling ever so slightly upwards at one corner.
And that was all she saw, as the woman towering over her relentlessly scooped, piled, shoved and dropped snow over Fang's entire face.
Between desperate coughs and the feeling of being suffocated, Fang attempted to subdue the attack by blindly feeling around for Light's wrists, but every time she managed to grab one, the wrist slipped free.
"Having fun?" Lightning asked from her perch on top of Fang.
Had the iciness not kept her breathing from being any more than shallow gasps, she would have nodded in affirmation, made a sarcastic quip and proceeded to keep Lightning on her as long as possible.
After another successful grab of a wrist, Fang used her free hand to wipe the snow from her face, although the water began to sting her eyes.
"Gah! Okay I get it, dear Etro." Fang coughed and spluttered, "You're killin' me."
Lightning sat back slightly as if to admire her work, finishing her assault by sprinkling powdery snow over Fang's face the same way she'd sprinkle salt into a boiling pan.
"Just getting you back." She shrugged.
"You started it!" Fang gawked.
"You dug your nails into me this morning."
Fang stuck her tongue out slightly, "Well that's what you get for denying me of a hug last night."
"Hey ladies, ladies, enough of the play fighting," Sazh cut in, "Dajh wants to build snowmen."
With a small harrumph and the tiniest of blushes, Fang was relieved of Lightning's weight and left lying on her own in the bed of snow.
Joining Vanille in her snowman building, Fang watched contentedly from the sidelines as her little sister rolled a giant ball of snow across the lawn of Sazh's front garden.
"You enjoyed that," Vanille said rather nonchalantly, "her straddling you like that."
Fang looked up slowly from drawing her name in Pulsian letters in the ground, "Excuse me?"
"Lightning on top of you… I said you enjoyed that."
Fang swallowed a lump that had formed in her throat, "Be quiet, she might hear you."
Ignoring Fang's suggestion to lower her voice, Vanille continued to roll snow, "I thought as much. Now are you going to help me make this snowman? I want to win our little competition."
"Yeah if you promise to keep quiet, ya little minx."
"Deal, now you finish rolling this, I want that to be the bottom of the snowman."
Trudging over to where Vanille had finished half a job, Fang heaved the snow across the lawn, gathering more snow as she went. As she rolled, she glanced at the others and their attempts at building, chuckling as she watched a red-faced Snow lift a ton of his namesake to pile onto the base of his Serah's and Lightning's sculpture. To her left, Sazh and his son had yet to stack the snow they had rolled, but were making better progress than she and Vanille were.
After fifteen minutes of chipping away and smoothing the snowman to create a remotely human shape, Vanille offered to make everyone a hot drink to warm their hands, to which everyone agreed to with a thankful nod.
In the time it took for Vanille to plod her way indoors, Fang was overcome with the best idea on the whole of Gran Pulse. Not wanting to be seen, Fang snuck round the back of the house after Vanille, thankful that their own frozen creation was concealed behind the side of the house.
"Vanille!" Fang almost giggled, but Fang wasn't ever one for such a delicate, dainty noise, "I have the best idea… I bet this will win it for us."
It took but a few persuasive words from her silver-tongued mouth for Fang to win Vanille over, and now she was watching with her most childish grin to date, as the redhead fished around in the arts and crafts box she received for Christmas.
"Anything?" Fang asked impatiently, clutching a red bathroom towel in one hand whilst sifting through one of Sazh's cupboards.
"Yep! Got some pink wool here and some blue beads." Vanille replied with a swell of triumph forming in her chest.
"Excellent, let's go!"
The two exchanged their sisterly gesture of bumping their wrists together before exiting the room, clutching their equipment possessively.
Hot drinks long forgotten, they crept slowly and as quietly as possible towards their unfinished snowman, despite the loud crunching of fresh snow beneath their frozen feet.
"I'll place the finishing touches." Vanille insisted, humming as she unravelled the pink wool, cutting various lengths from the ball with scissors.
Fang nodded in response, "And I'll continue to… sculpt, I guess."
With gloved hands, Fang picked up two large handfuls of snow, slapping them roughly against the body of the snowman, before inspecting her accuracy. In no time at all, her swift hands had smoothed, chiselled and moulded a perfect body, whilst Vanille had created features that showed a resemblance to its original.
Taking a few steps back, both Fang and Vanille admired their work with a devilish glint in their eyes.
"You don't think adding boobs on that thing makes it too over the top? I mean, I think we should be more modest with the size…"
"You kidding?" Fang chuckled, "that's a damn accurate portrayal right there."
"She's gonna flip."
"The bigger the reaction the better." Fang shrugged.
Vanille sighed, "She's going to knock it down."
Patting Vanille on her hat-adorned head, Fang winked, "It may get destroyed in an instant, but the look on her face will leave a lasting impression, I bet."
A voice from the front of the house sounded, it was Serah.
"Oh, I thought you were both inside. You guys nearly done?"
Giggling, Vanille rushed around the corner, to peek around at the competition, "Yep! Are you?"
A chill crawled down her back like little paws as a blast of icy wind hit her tanned skin, which even looked pale in comparison to usual. Studying her hands from underneath the gloves, they had turned an unappealing reddish colour, burning from the cold.
As she turned the corner to view the competition, the sight of what looked to be a crooked chocobo with no legs greeted her eyes, with stones for eyes and evergreen branches for wings. It was a nice attempt for a small boy and his father, as well as original and both Vanille and herself nodded and laughed in approval of the creation. Eyes darting further right, she saw the Farron sisters stood somewhat proudly beside their own sculpture.
Vanille had approached the snowman first, rather tentatively, as the sculpture was rather intimidating to behold. With squared shoulders, the snowman was positioned with it's back against a snow-covered hedge, legs stretched out in front of it.
"One of its eyes has fallen off." Vanille observed, picking up the fallen stone to place it back onto the creation, when the entire thing shook and sneezed.
Vanille leapt back in fright, throwing the stone 'eye' at the moving monster.
"What sort of snowman is this?" She whimpered as the rest of them laughed.
"It's a Snow snowman." The sculpture guffawed, standing up to wipe the remainder of the stuff from his body. "Jeez Lightning, I was really starting to suffocate under all that."
"Shame." Lightning clicked her tongue, although Fang could hear an ounce of humour in her tone.
With her arms outstretched as if to embrace the air, Fang called out to the rest of the group, "So… you guys wanna see ours?"
"Lemme guess, something to do with Gran Pulse?" Sazh asked, plodding over to the side of the house with Dajh in tow.
"Something to do with Oerba?" Serah chimed in, "I really want to go there some day."
Lightning shook her head, "It'll be linked to the both of them, but I bet it's Ragna…rok."
The group, minus Lightning, joined in a session of laughter at the snowman, which resembled their favourite soldier. Other than the angle of the hair due to the wind, Fang thought they had done an ample job of recreating a statuette of Lightning.
"Oh wow, you even got the cape." Snow said, circling the piece like an inspecting art critic. It was highly amusing to Fang that he was still encrusted with his white namesake, which he had not bothered to wipe off properly.
"Is that meant to be me? Lightning asked from the back sneeringly, stomping dangerously close to the sculpture.
"Yeah," Vanille grinned, her cheeks bright red in the cold "isn't it cool?"
"Get rid of it."
The sour tone placed Serah immediately into defensive mode and Fang found herself stepping forward in front of the snowman, between Vanille and Lightning.
"Come on now, it's just a bit of fun, Claire." Serah insisted.
"I don't like it. Get rid of it, please."
Fang shook her head with a grin, allowing snow to drift loosely from her hair and back to the ground.
"Nah, I fancy keeping it."
Really, Fang couldn't care less about the piece they'd made, because although it was fun, garnering a reaction from Light was even more fun.
"Don't you think it's accurate?" Fang nodded towards the snowman, "I mean look at the curve of that waist."
Her hand traced an outline of the sculpture, ignoring looks of uncertainty from the rest of the gang.
Lightning's fist clenched.
Snaking behind the figurine, Fang rested her chin on its 'shoulders', embracing the thing from behind.
"Lovely and cuddly too." She pressed further. "Unlike someone I know."
Serah grabbed for her sister's arm to pull her back as Fang cupped the bust of the snow-woman suggestively.
"And I even made these babies to scale! Hah!"
Fang dived headfirst into a snowy flowerbed before Lightning could reach her, as she became nothing but a pink blur. With a punch fit for a burly man, the soldier demolished her snowman counterpart until it was unrecognisable, hitting it mercilessly in the face first.
"Calm down soldier girl!" Sazh pleaded, his hands covering Dajh's small shoulders, "and you warrior girl, don't bait her!"
But Fang wasn't listening; as Lightning yanked her from the flowerbed she lay in and forced her to stand. The soldier's face was red, a mixture of her embarrassment and the temperature.
"Alright there, Light?" Fang smirked, receiving another wad of icy cold snow to her face.
It was only just the beginning…
I'm a bit late with the Christmas theme but that's because it was Christmas when I started writing this.
And the first time I uploaded this, decided to take the breaks out, cheers for that!