Nautilus Lights

The lights of Nautilus were blinding, obscuring the night sky above with a kaleidoscope of colors. Neon signs of all shapes dotted the walls, some pointing to Chocobo and Carbuncle plushes, others to different entertainment areas for guests. All of the combined light was almost harsh, but it didnt’ seem to bother Cocoon’s citizens at all, as they ran about from one section of the park to the next, not a care in the world. The cool breeze that came off the venue’s large lake certainly helped as well. When it brushed Vanille’s cheek as she stood in front of the city’s gates, it felt different from Pulse’s, though the wind that carried it was the same. The girl glanced at Fang, who was standing next to her with the all-knowing smile that she usually carried on full-display.

“Are you sure we should be doing this now?” Vanille asked, frowning. “We’re about to…you know…”

“What?” Fang asked, eyebrow raised. “Attack Eden?”

“Fang, shh!”

“Stop being such a worrywart! Eden’s not going anywhere, and your L’Cie mark hasn’t grown all that much. We deserve to take a break and have a little fun before we save the whole damn world, I think.”

Vanille’s gaze lowered to the floor.

“But…”

Before she could mope any further, Fang pushed the girl in front of her.

“Come on, then!” she said. “Everyone is already out having fun! Well, except for Lightning, but that’s to be expected, isn’t it?”

With that, the pair made their way into Nautilus. The gate gave way to a flowing crowd of packed citizens making their way to everything from the Chocobo Ranch to the Arcade nearby. The buzz of excitement almost swept through Vanille, but her anxiousness of losing sight of Fang overrode it.

“Fang!” the girl shouted, twisting around and against the surge of bodies to search for her partner.

“Right here.” She appeared amongst the sea of citizens, grabbing Vanille’s hand and leading the two of them to a quieter area of the park. Vanille gasped, hands on her knees, when they finally broke free from the crowd.

“That was…a lot of people…” she said between breathes. Fang smirked.

“Yeah. I’m just happy nobody knocked the cloth off my arm,” she said, gesturing at the make-shift fabric she used to hide her L’Cie mark.

“That’s why I’m saying we shouldn’t be here!” Vanille replied, shooting upwards and pointing at the girl. “If we get caught, we’re done for!”

Fang scratched the back of her head. “Yeah, yeah…listen, the park seems pretty busy as is, so we don’t have to go anywhere too crowded. But I know a place we can go. Come on!”

She took Vanille’s hand again, leading her around the corner where they resting. They found themselves walking parallel to Nautilus’ lake. This part of the park was much quieter, and darker, with the only light coming from the street lamps that illuminated their passage as they walked under them. Only a few park-goers seemed to have made their way to this area, most of them more content to be swept up in the excitement of Nautilus’ main events.

Vanille took a deep breath.

“Ah, this is much nicer,” she said. Fang laughed.

“This isn’t the norm for you, is it V? You’re usually one to jump right into the action.”

“You’re right, but…I think I’m just nervous. Plus, who are you to talk about ‘the norm’? You’re not usually one to hold my hand!”

Fang, realizing that she was still clinging to the shorter girl’s hand, yanked herself away and cleared her throat.

“I just…wanted to make sure you didn’t get lost, is all.”

“In an empty section of the park?” Vanille asked, a mischievous smile dancing across her lips. She was amused — Fang wasn’t so easily riled up. It was a nice change of pace. On that note, Fang scoffed.

“Whatever! Do you want to see this spot or not?”

“Sure I do!” Vanille replied. She skipped ahead.

“Lead the way!”

Fang showed Vanille a side-path against the row of buildings that ran up against the lake, leading to a long, winding stairway that snaked its way upwards. When they finally made their way to the top, Vanille found herself gasping.

“It’s beautiful!”

It was. The stairway led onto a spaceous balcony that hung just above the lake, which stretched out beneath them. The glittering lights of Nautilus reflected off of the pool of water, creating a dazzling array of colors that shined back onto the balcony. And best of all — there wasn’t a single soul around. Vanille turned to Fang, beaming.

“How did you find this place?”

“Hope told me about it,” she replied, leaning against the balcony. His mother showed it to him when they came here, a long time ago.”

“Oh…”

Vanille frowned. It didn’t feel right to enjoy a spot that Nora found.

“Stop that,” Fang said, reading the girl’s mind.

“Wha—”

“—You can’t keep blaming yourself for everything that happened to everyone, Vanille,” she interrupted, pointing a finger at the girl. “Like everything, the Fal’Cie did this to us. Made us who we are, and hurt the people we care about. It’s not our burden to bear.”

“I know, but…”

Warmth blossomed against Vanille’s cheek as Fang held her hand against it.

“Listen to me,” she said, looking the most serious Vanille had ever seen her. “This is why we’re going to Eden. We’re going to change our fate, and make up for the things we’ve done, understand?”

Vanille nodded, closing her eyes, and letting herself fall into Fang’s hand a little further. Fang responded by grabbing the girl into a hug, catching Vanille by surprise.

“I’m glad we could spend this time together, before the end,” Fang whispered. Vanille leaned back, still wrapped in Fang’s arms.

“Fang…”

“Yes?”

Vanille poked her partner roughly, making her flinch.

“Ow! What was that for?”

“Don’t ever leave me like that again!” Vanille said, pouting. “I was so worried about you! You should have come with me!”

“Alright, alright,” Fang said gently, stroking the girl’s hair. Despite her attempt at chastising, Vanille felt a shiver go up her spine.

“P-promise!” she spluttered. Fang bent forward, pressing her lips against Vanille’s. The girl was shocked for a moment, before closing her eyes and kissing her in turn. Finally Fang stepped back.

“How’s that for a promise?” she asked, smirking.

Vanille’s heart was slamming against her chest, and heat rose up all the way to her forehead. A sort of dizzyness was overcoming her, but it didn’t feel bad — in fact, it felt amazing.

“I…I don’t think that promise was good enough, Fang,” the girl whispered.

“Oh?”

“Y-yeah. You’re gonna have to show me you really mean it.”

Fang put a finger on her chin. “Oh really? Let me try again.”

With that, Fang grabbed Vanille by the waist and lifted her into the air. As the girl yelped in surprise, Fang placed her on the balcony divider, before leaning forward to kiss her again.

“Fang!”


Fang and Vanille met the rest of the L’Cie at Nautilus’ center pavilion. Hope waved at the pair as they approached. Snow spoke first.

“Where’d you two run off to?” he asked. “And Vanille, why do you look so…riled up? Did someone see your L’Cie mark?

Someone did,” Fang said, smirking. Vanille’s embarrassment was such that she literally squealed in frustration, stomping away from the rest of the group. Snow was even more confused.

“What the heck? What’s her problem?” Snow asked. “If someone did see her mark, we should probably get out of here before PSICOM shows up.”

Fang burst into laughter, Sazh only shaking his head.

“Boy, you have a lot to learn,” he said, as the group went on to enjoy the rest of Nautilus’ entertainment, leaving Snow staring blankly.

“Why do I feel like I’m missing something!?”

The lights of Nautilus were blinding, obscuring the night sky above with a kaleidoscope of colors. Neon signs of all shapes dotted the walls, some pointing to Chocobo and Carbuncle plushies, others to different entertainment areas for guests. All of the combined light was almost harsh, but it didnt’ seem to bother Cocoon’s citizens at all, as they ran about from one section of the park to the next, not a care in the world. The cool breeze that came off the venue’s large lake certainly helped as well. When it brushed Vanille’s cheek as she stood in front of the city’s gates, it felt different from Pulse’s, though the wind that carried it was the same. The girl glanced at Fang, who was standing next to her with the all-knowing smile that she usually carried on full-display.

“Are you sure we should be doing this now?” Vanille asked, frowning. “We’re about to…you know…”

“What?” Fang asked, eyebrow raised. “Attack Eden?”

“Fang, shh!”

“Stop being such a worrywart! Eden’s not going anywhere, and your L’Cie mark hasn’t grown all that much. We deserve to take a break and have a little fun before we save the whole damn world, I think.”

Vanille’s gaze lowered to the floor.

“But…”

Before she could mope any further, Fang pushed the girl in front of her.

“Come on, then!” she said. “Everyone is already out having fun! Well, except for Lightning, but that’s to be expected, isn’t it?”

With that, the pair made their way into Nautilus. The gate gave way to a flowing crowd of packed citizens making their way to everything from the Chocobo Ranch to the Arcade nearby. The buzz of excitement almost swept through Vanille, but her anxiousness of losing sight of Fang overrode it.

“Fang!” the girl shouted, twisting around and against the surge of bodies to search for her partner.

“Right here.” She appeared amongst the sea of citizens, grabbing Vanille’s hand and leading the two of them to a quieter area of the park. Vanille gasped, hands on her knees, when they finally broke free from the crowd.

“That was…a lot of people…” she said between breathes. Fang smirked.

“Yeah. I’m just happy nobody knocked the cloth off my arm,” she said, gesturing at the make-shift fabric she used to hide her L’Cie mark.

“That’s why I’m saying we shouldn’t be here!” Vanille replied, shooting upwards and pointing at the girl. “If we get caught, we’re done for!”

Fang scratched the back of her head. “Yeah, yeah…listen, the park seems pretty busy as is, so we don’t have to go anywhere too crowded. But I know a place we can go. Come on!”

She took Vanille’s hand again, leading her around the corner where they were resting. They found themselves walking parallel to Nautilus’ lake. This part of the park was much quieter, and darker, with the only light coming from the street lamps that illuminated their passage as they walked under them. Only a few park-goers seemed to have made their way to this area, most of them more content to be swept up in the excitement of Nautilus’ main events.

Vanille took a deep breath.

“Ah, this is much nicer,” she said. Fang laughed.

“This isn’t the norm for you, is it V? You’re usually one to jump right into the action.”

“You’re right, but…I think I’m just nervous. Plus, who are you to talk about ‘the norm’? You’re not usually one to hold my hand!”

Fang, realizing that she was still clinging to the shorter girl’s hand, yanked herself away and cleared her throat.

“I just…wanted to make sure you didn’t get lost, is all.”

“In an empty section of the park?” Vanille asked, a mischievous smile dancing across her lips. She was amused — Fang wasn’t so easily riled up. It was a nice change of pace. On that note, Fang scoffed.

“Whatever! Do you want to see this spot or not?”

“Sure I do!” Vanille replied. She skipped ahead.

“Lead the way!”

Fang showed Vanille a side-path against the row of buildings that ran up against the lake, leading to a long, winding stairway that snaked its way upwards. When they finally made their way to the top, Vanille found herself gasping.

“It’s beautiful!”

It was. The stairway led onto a spacious balcony that hung just above the lake, which stretched out beneath them. The glittering lights of Nautilus reflected off of the pool of water, creating a dazzling array of colors that shined back onto the balcony. And best of all — there wasn’t a single soul around. Vanille turned to Fang, beaming.

“How did you find this place?”

“Hope told me about it,” she replied, leaning against the balcony. His mother showed it to him when they came here, a long time ago.”

“Oh…”

Vanille frowned. It didn’t feel right to enjoy a spot that Nora found.

“Stop that,” Fang said, reading the girl’s mind.

“Wha—”

“—You can’t keep blaming yourself for everything that happened to everyone, Vanille,” she interrupted, pointing a finger at the girl. “Like everything, the Fal’Cie did this to us. Made us who we are, and hurt the people we care about. It’s not our burden to bear.”

“I know, but…”

Warmth blossomed against Vanille’s cheek as Fang held her hand against it.

“Listen to me,” she said, looking the most serious Vanille had ever seen her. “This is why we’re going to Eden. We’re going to change our fate, and make up for the things we’ve done, understand?”

Vanille nodded, closing her eyes, and letting herself fall into Fang’s hand a little further. Fang responded by grabbing the girl into a hug, catching Vanille by surprise.

“I’m glad we could spend this time together, before the end,” Fang whispered. Vanille leaned back, still wrapped in Fang’s arms.

“Fang…”

“Yes?”

Vanille poked her partner roughly, making her flinch.

“Ow! What was that for?”

“Don’t ever leave me like that again!” Vanille said, pouting. “I was so worried about you! You should have come with me!”

“Alright, alright,” Fang said gently, stroking the girl’s hair. Despite her attempt at chastising, Vanille felt a shiver go up her spine.

“P-promise!” she spluttered. Fang bent forward, pressing her lips against Vanille’s. The girl was shocked for a moment, before closing her eyes and kissing her in turn. Finally, Fang stepped back.

“How’s that for a promise?” she asked, smirking.

Vanille’s heart was slamming against her chest, and heat rose up all the way to her forehead. A sort of dizziness was overcoming her, but it didn’t feel bad — in fact, it felt amazing.

“I…I don’t think that promise was good enough, Fang,” the girl whispered.

“Oh?”

“Y-yeah. You’re gonna have to show me you really mean it.”

Fang put a finger on her chin. “Oh really? Let me try again.”

With that, Fang grabbed Vanille by the waist and lifted her into the air. As the girl yelped in surprise, Fang placed her on the balcony divider, before leaning forward to kiss her again.


“Fang!”

Fang and Vanille met the rest of the L’Cie at Nautilus’ center pavilion. Hope waved at the pair as they approached. Snow spoke first.

“Where’d you two run off to?” he asked. “And Vanille, why do you look so…riled up? Did someone see your L’Cie mark?

Someone did,” Fang said, smirking. Vanille’s embarrassment was such that she literally squealed in frustration, stomping away from the rest of the group. Snow was even more confused.

“What the heck? What’s her problem?” Snow asked. “If someone did see her mark, we should probably get out of here before PSICOM shows up.”

Fang burst into laughter, Sazh only shaking his head.

“Boy, you have a lot to learn,” he said, as the group went on to enjoy the rest of Nautilus’ entertainment, leaving Snow staring blankly.

“Why do I feel like I’m missing something!?”

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