Title: Soul Sister
Characters/Pairing: Lightning, Serah, eventual OCs, hint of future Farroncest
Warnings: Angst, mention of death, shifting POV, language and violence later on
Notes: Beta'd by me, as a little present for finishing this semester. (I still have to pack and leave the dorm). And I appreciate all the readers who are still sticking to this story. I know I could've updated much earlier, and it's nice to read the reviews here and on FF.net.
Bonus points if you know the inspiration behind the academy and the uniform. In fact the first comment/PM that gets it correct can have a nice drabble of your choice.
Six months later
A tall pink-headed young woman’s footsteps padded through the hallway, just coming from a fresh shower early in the morning. Today, she would start a new semester in a different school, Etro, in a different city as well. For the past few months, she and her sister were planning for the move because they’re weren’t able to afford their old house. It was painful, but they simply just had to do it. Being wards of the state didn’t entitle you to anything much. She had talked to the doctor soon after her mother’s death, seeing the referred social services people. They told her she was able to take care of Serah at her current age; however there were limited choices. For one, most of her parents’ life insurances and whatever assets were left in the will her mother wrote were supposed to be distributed once she was of age. Which, in three years’ time, she would be—until then they had to wait it out. However, the social services people wanted her to resume her education, and not go right into job hunting, no matter how dire the situation was.
So she settled on being independent wards of the state. It meant that while the Cocoon government would foot the necessary bills, it also meant she had to serve the government eventually. Now here she was, in the Capital City of Eden, in a government-sponsored apartment used mainly as cheap housing for independent students or low-income families. And she was enrolled in the premier PSICOM academy, West Galden Academy, with regular high school subjects, and basic military classes for now, focusing on the structure of the various Cocoon military branches, and the rules and policies of all. Once she was sixteen, then she can begin basic combat training and more advanced military classes. Serah, in the meanwhile, would be attending a regular high school a quarter mile from the apartment, Eden Middle School, for a year, then hopefully the high school that was closer to the Academy.
‘Serah was getting better,’ Lightning thought. Little Claire Farron became ‘Lightning’ Farron soon after her mother’s death, and just a few days ago, Serah had called her Lightning instead of Claire, then Serah made a face once she said it. She said it would take more time to get used to it, if she would ever get used to it.
For Lightning though, she was cut off for most of her friends in their few months left back in Bodhum. They would ask her how she was doing, how she was feeling. How was she supposed to tell them that they didn’t know how painful it was until they have lost their parents? They couldn’t understand how she was feeling. And it was still too raw to try to explain it. The both of them—she and Serah, had to go through psychological evaluation. It wasn’t because the state was concerned with how they were coping; Lightning had to take one mostly because she was to be a future soldier and it was one of the requirements. At the time, Serah didn’t want to be left alone so she walked with Lightning to the psychologist’s office and while she was there, the psychologist gave her an evaluation and charged it to the government as a necessary evaluation. When Lightning became of age and ready to start her military career, she had to take another one, depending on where she went, to PSICOM, or the Guardian Corps, or even the Air Force.
For now, she was trying to get through the first day of school. While getting out the pan, she heard the door creak, and a little head of pink peeped out before veering straight to the bathroom to get ready. Lightning smiled a little before asking loudly, “Omelette?”
“Sure,” was the reply.
Well, okay, two omelettes with cheese then. A couple of steps to the right of the stove, she opened the fridge unit, and took out two eggs and two slices of cheese, individually wrapped in plastic. A couple of steps back, placing the ingredients on the counter Lightning used a dab of oil on the pan, waiting till it started to sizzle, before rotating the pan slightly so the oil covered the whole surface. Breaking one egg on one side, Lightning grabbed a spatula and carefully placed it on half of the pan, unwrapping the cheese slice and letting it cook. Then she went for the other egg and broke it, keeping the spatula at the middle of the pan, so the eggs didn’t overlap and mix together, placing the other slice of cheese on top.
Waiting for a minute or so, she folded the first one, and shortly after, the second one, before getting out the bread and toaster and placing slices into the appliance. Getting out two plates she placed each omelette into one and immediately placed the pan under the sink. Lightning heard the bathroom door open and Serah quickly went over to the kitchen. Just in time for breakfast.
“Orange juice?” Serah asked.
Getting two glasses for Serah, the toaster pinged as she set them on the table, signaling the bread was done. Using her index and thumb, Lightning carefully lifted the pieces of toast onto the plates as Serah got the utensils.
“Breakfast is served!”
Both sat down on the table and started to eat. Lightning had another 40 minutes to eat, get in uniform and go to the Academy for her assigned homeroom.
“Do you want me to come with you?” She asked Serah.
Serah paused in her bite, taking a moment to swallow. She looked like she was thinking hard.
“If...if you can. I don’t want you to be late, Claire.”
Lightning nodded. Yes, she would take a long time to get used to calling her Lightning, but she guessed she wouldn’t push it on her too much. It was fine if she called her that at home, in their own private little world.
“…I don’t mind at all.”
At the time I didn’t notice, but Serah was trying very hard to take care of me, in her own way. She might have been only twelve years old, but she was my sister. And she knew or felt-- I still wasn’t certain, and I did pride myself on thinking I knew—that I was bearing too much of the load. The same load I inherited just by being three years older. I just…I just couldn’t think of Serah as a burden. She…was my sister, she deserved better. She wasn’t a burden, and I didn’t notice she might have felt like one. I guess she didn’t want to add more to that. I never minded when it came to my little sister. Yea I realized this now, when it was a bit too damn late. I was too busy thinking about what I had to do, and not about how Serah felt.
Why couldn’t I see this before? I thought I wasn’t spending enough time with her. In a way, that was true. And my career didn’t exactly leave me with plenty of vacations or any relaxation time to check up on her. It got up to the point where Serah was alive, I was doing my job. If Serah was happy, I wouldn’t know, because I was too busy to ask.
What would happen if she didn’t need me anymore?
“You done yet?”
“Uh huh…all done!”
Lightning made a motion to grab the plates and take them to the sink but Serah had hers out of reach.
“C’mon you made breakfast today. Let me do the dishes and you get ready, ‘kay?”
“Okay then. Thanks.” Lightning quickly made for her room and went straight into her closet. There it was, the crisp cadet uniform every beginner had to wear. It was navy blue all over, and she opted not to have those clunky dresses, instead having trousers and a blazer. The white shirt collar was stiff, with a sailor’s tie in alternating stripes of gold and red. Not much different than the male uniform. ‘Whatever,’ Lightning thought, ‘Anything is better than that dress.’ She wouldn’t be caught dead or alive in it. Shimmying out of her pajama shorts, and worn shirt, she fastened the first bra she saw, and grabbed the pants and a fresh white top to go underneath the shirt. Arms finding the sleeves, Lightning made quick work of the tie before straightening the outfit. Everything was in place, so far, so good. Picking up the blazer when she put on socks and black boots, she left the room to find Serah waiting for her. A glance at the clock out of the corner of her eye said they had 30 minutes left, and the mass hover transportation was to be at the stop in five minutes.
“I’m all set.”
Taking a moment to activate the security system with her identification card, Serah and Lightning Farron quickly bounced down the stairs in sets of two or three steps, and ran across the little grassy courtyard that was right in front of their building’s main entrance. Serah’s new shoes were clickly sharply on the stony pavement that bordered the courtyard, while her own boots made little thumps that vibrated into her soles with every step. It was a powerful sensation thrumming all over the body, like she could be faster if she really tried. That was, if they didn’t already arrive at the stop. The day was getting shorter, a product of the benevolent fal’Cie Phoenix that watched over Eden and the rest of Cocoon. Phoenix had the most important task: to regulate day and night. Phoenix was light itself. Without Phoenix, the people of Cocoon would not survive. Lightning mused to herself that she will be as important as the fal’Cie one day, saving as many people as possible in the course of protecting her only family. It was only natural.
“Whoo! We made it!” Serah happily said as she breathed quickly from the exertion.
“Good, because the train’s almost arriving.”
“Even better Claire! Aren’t you excited for the first day of school…in Eden?”
Grabbing the fare cards for both her and Serah from the pocket of her bag, Claire nodded in agreement.
The ride towards the schools was uneventful. Even though Eden Middle School would take her an extra half hour of walking, it was only two stops away from the West Galden Academy. Actually, as Lightning figured out, a very quick two stops. Technology was always booming in the Capital City, and the mass transportation was no different. Cocoon was filled with rail transport able to go up to two hundred miles per second in one minute. It was nice to see the potential here…in Eden. Everything was fast-paced.
Once they arrived at Eden Middle School station, Serah gave her sister a quick kiss on the cheek, and ran out with a crowd of increasingly more people that seemed to go in one direction. Their ages were about the same as Serah’s, which made Lightning breathe a little easier. She would be safe, and she needed to go to the Academy on time. It would not do to be late on the very first day. Even though she had said she would escort Serah there, Serah decided at the last minute to go by herself and let Lightning take the train directly to the Academy. Squaring her shoulders as she arrived at West Galden, Lightning walked out of the station and directly into one of the main entrances of the Academy.
Scanning her identification card, the machine responded with “Unauthorized student. Please go to the main office—“a map then appeared, indicating where the main office was relevant to her position. Not that far, Claire guessed.
“—Thank you. Welcome to West Galden Academy.” The machine concluded. Ahh, best to move along towards the main office then, and Claire trodded towards the right, turning at the corner and walking down the corridor before making a left, where she saw a sign for the main office. People were walking all over the room, some with files in their hands, bypassing Lightning as she walked through the open door.
Hmm…West Galden Academy, come to think of it, was more confusing than anything. My first day…I was very nervous. No parents were there to comfort me. No parents were there to be a fallback. At that point I realized just how much I have to depend on myself to get through only the first day. Then the rest will follow. But that receptionist was something on the first day…