Hubert von Vestra from Fire Emblem looking down and to the side

Nightmare: Ferdibert Week 2020 FE3H Fanfiction

Word count: 2100 (5 to 17 minutes) | Rating: T (Referenced child death in the context of the nightmare and intrusive thoughts)| Fire Emblem: Three Houses Fanfiction | Characters: Ferdinand von Aegir and Hubert von Vestra


The war was over. Had been for years. Ferdinand was even better suited to peacetime than he was to war, clad in polished armor and his stately ministerial uniform and charging proudly into battle. Now he spent his days in the latest Adrestian fashions, penning letters to Lorenz and diplomats from territories outside of Fódlan. He championed the educational system he discussed at length with Linhardt and Edelgard, where several of their allies now taught—Hubert included.

He was far less equipped for peace, however. The strongholds of the Agarthans were destroyed, and any useful information was distributed to the person most suited to designing constructive inventions from it. Hubert maintained his network and his vigilance, but that demanded far less from him than active warfare with two nations and a religious power over the course of six years or so.

With less to apply his mind to, his intellect evidently chose to turn on him directly.

He was not the only one, of course. Manuela had opened an institution of healing through words commonly referred to as counseling, which Hubert had determined was a less private version of the advice box. Caspar went regularly, as did Linhardt. Most of the Strike Force, in fact. Even if Hubert wanted to go, and he didn’t, he simply could not bring himself to disclose his most vulnerable moments to either a perfect stranger or someone he knew professionally.

So when the nightmares crept in, he sat in the reading chair in the central room of their house and waited for dawn. This seat was more familiar with their two children, watching him intently as he read through Bernadetta’s latest children’s story. The last stretch of summer sunlight peeked through arched windows and across the ornate rug depicting some legend of old beneath a thin coat of Aegir hound fur.

But tonight, even though smiled faintly in the dark, it was his security post. Only bugs waited outside at present and he knew that as an unmovable fact. In the heart of Enbarr, there was no chance of an attack on the ministers’ estate. That changed nothing. Only when the first staff members came in to see to the first tasks of their day, Hubert would retire for a few hours of sleep. Lately, he’d awakened Ferdinand on his return, and he knew the conversation about where he was all night was not far off.

The candle on the engraved table beside the worn seat flickered weakly as Hubert wove thin traces of dark magic through his fingers. He opened and closed his hand around it, prepared for whatever may come in the night to threaten the peace he’d carved out for himself. There, in the late hours of the evening or early hours of morning, it meant nothing that Hubert did not have any right to the idyllic domesticity of his life. It was his, given to him by the man he loved and the children they adopted who found it in their hearts to see past his many layers to find a suitable father. He fought this far for it, and he would fight again if ever the need arose.

“Darling?”

A sensation not unlike nausea roiled in his stomach, but Hubert gradually brought himself to look at Ferdinand waiting at the edge of the candle’s light. His hair was in a loose ponytail, curls falling free to frame his face. He still had a healthy tan and a light dusting of freckles that always intensified in the summer. Perhaps he wasn’t quite as sculpted as he was when he was a general in field rather than a minister at his desk for the majority of his day… But his was a beauty only enhanced by the passage of time. His loose nightgown swept around him while he approached, resting a warm hand on Hubert’s forearm.

“My love, it’s late.” The flames danced in his eyes, melding with the open concern there. Even in Hubert’s peripheral, he could see the furrow of his brow. Even before the gentle, reassuring squeeze on his arm, he sensed that distress as if it were his own. Such was the effect of falling in love, he supposed.

“I’m aware,” Hubert answered.

“And yet you are not in bed.”

“No,” he agreed. Conversations about Hubert’s emotional state always began like this: roundabout and simple statements of fact as Ferdinand endeavored to find his way to the heart of the matter.

Correctly interpreting Hubert’s stillness as permission, Ferdinand moved closer and slid his hand up his arm and around his shoulder to have a seat on the sturdy arm of the chair. They purposefully chose it to support the children plus one of them, and as a result, it supported the two of them at once with ease. And in the gravity of moments such as these, that was invaluable. Hubert shifted closer to lean into Ferdinand’s embrace, take in the scent of him. Tea and sleep and that herbal soap Dorothea introduced him to. Of course, there was the unshakable traces of hay and horses as well. His ponytail rested over his shoulder and between them, the culprit for every stray orange strand he found on his black blazers and cloaks.

“Is there no way I can persuade you to bed, my love?”

Patient as always, Ferdinand waited in the pensive silence Hubert left. It took time to assess his mental state, determine the path he wished to take from there, and gather his words in his mind to communicate that effectively. Hubert spent years training himself to ignore the ghoulish recollections that haunted the chambers of his heart, forging ahead at any cost to himself. The safe path was meaningless to him if it endangered Her Majesty and those who allied themselves with her when she made her stand in the Holy Tomb. It was as though that was a separate lifetime, as distinct and severed from the rest as his childhood before the incident that tore Lady Edelgard from his side.

It could very well be that was where the problem found its origins.

“As a child,” he began, snaking an arm around Ferdinand as well to rest on his waist. “I dreaded the notion that the goddess would punish me for any misdeed. Failing to better protect Lady Edelgard. Disappointing my father and all the Vestras who served before me.” The very mention of such an abhorrent creature as the late Lord Vestra set him on edge. With a bracing breath, Hubert did manage to continue regardless. “Even when that was behind me in the later portion of my childhood, I feared what grudges the dead might hold.” There was no need to elaborate from there. Ferdinand knew well that Hubert was quite young when he claimed his first life.

“But now, when there are few situations to speak of that could strike noteworthy fear in me, I encounter it merely by existing.” Hubert had done nothing exceptional that day to invite that nightmare into his dreams. There was no cloaked assignment to stir up memories of contacts and agents murdered in service to Hubert, or the lives he’d cruelly cut short in the name of Her Majesty.

All those who survived them may bear him ill will and the easiest, most sensible target was his family. It would be very tactical and efficiently done. They had a routine, like most families, and discovering it was an effortless task. Hubert ordered his favorite coffee from the same merchant as always, their preferred housekeeping staff had been the same since the war ended, the children had school nearly every day of the week with schedules that were readily accessible simply by pretending to be a parent. With no warning or reason to it, all Hubert could see on certain days was the various ways he could one day come home to their dead bodies—or worse.

Ferdinand would die defending their children. Against the right soldiers or simply outnumbered, he would fall. They were all out of practice and for the sake of their happiness, they should remain so. But that meant leaving an obvious risk of being outmatched by even a single well-trained assassin striking from the shadows. The children would never stand a chance.

All in all, that horrific possibility distorted to a certain, inevitable reality on those occasions when Hubert could not clear the weighted fog from his thoughts.

“Zealots and grudges of the living. If those led to my death, it would simply be reaping what I have sown.” He wouldn’t lay down and accept it, not with his family waiting for him to return safely each day, but Hubert would prefer it to the cursed visions his sleeping mind conjured for him. Tightening his grip on Ferdinand, his voice strained taut while tears pricked at his eyes. Fatherhood had made him soft. “But if anything were to happen to you or the children, I—”

He brought a hand stained by dark magic to his mouth reflexively, biting back tears as Ferdinand gently shushed him.

“My dear, it’s alright to be afraid.” This was a reminder he was familiar with. Hubert had found Ferdinand furiously maintaining retired weapons on more than one occasion, or having tea go cold in his hands as a far-off look took hold of his normally sunny husband. They all had ghosts left behind from the war, but Hubert could not just choose to see himself in the same light as the others. As if reading his thoughts, Ferdinand offered another practiced reminder with as much affection as the first time he shared it. “You don’t need to bear this burden alone any longer.”

He placed a delicate kiss to the top of his head, the curls of his ponytail brushing against Hubert’s shoulder as he did. He closed his eyes in an effort to center all his attention on only Ferdinand there alongside him. “We shall check on our little ones and the defenses of our home, and we can retire to bed when you’ve seen all is well for yourself.”

Drifting his eyes open once more, he was greeted by Ferdinand smiling down at him. Even weary from partial rest, the man was a beacon of light and warmth. That smile reached his eyes as visibly as the reflected candlelight from the table opposite him.

“Well? It’s a promising plan, is it not?”

“It is,” Hubert relented. He’d done as much himself twice that night already, but together, it may be different. There was certainly nothing better he could be doing with his evening. His eyes seared with exhaustion and now, remnants of tears that didn’t quite fall. “I’m very tired.”

“I know,” he acknowledged, sympathetic as ever while he smoothed his hair. Hubert chose to grow it out somewhat after the war and parted it to show both of his eyes at the behest of Ferdinand and Edelgard. Or more of his face, at least. Progress was progress, and they accepted his compromise gladly. “Tomorrow, we can discuss arranging a meeting with Manuela. She can help you find a counselor you can trust if you so choose.”

He almost laughed. Trust was eternally a battle for Hubert. But Ferdinand simply wanted to help him and if nothing else, he could humor the chance that such a task was possible. “Perhaps.”

“Thank you, Hubert.” He stood, drawing his arm away to trail his hand back down to Hubert’s with the goal of leading him to stand. A rather successful method, considering he took Ferdinand’s hand in his and essentially guaranteed that outcome with that gesture.

“Shouldn’t I be thanking you?”

Gently, Ferdinand pulled Hubert to his feet and bestowed another kiss onto Hubert with soft lips on the back of his marred hand. With enough repetition, the sight inspired a sense of peace in Hubert at last instead of the previous crawling apprehension.

“The highest form of gratitude I could ever hope for is your presence beside me throughout the night, side by side as we are in our hearts.”

That did earn him a breathed chuckle from Hubert. “So dramatic. But if you wish it, then… For you, I will do it gladly.”


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Recovery: Ferdibert Week 2020 FE3H Fanfiction

Word count: 2000 (4 to 16 minutes) | Rating: T | Fire Emblem: Three Houses Fanfiction | Characters: Ferdinand von Aegir, Edelgard Hresvelg, Dorothea Arnault, Linhardt von Hevring, and Hubert von Vestra


Day 1:

Hubert is still unresponsive. He never was especially fond of Lord Arundel, so I cannot help but be suspicious of this secretive procedure he performed at Edelgard’s request to save his life. She’s assured me that his white hair is a normal side effect and I should not be alarmed, but how can I not be? Hubert in such anguish, yet every inch as stubborn as usual. He clung to consciousness to order me about as though we are not both ministers to Edelgard and as such, we are equals.

I had no interest in what he had to say about the event of his death. I insisted that he would be fine as always. Hubert has overcome more injuries and adversaries than most full battalions ever will, and that is based only on what I am permitted to know. None of us ever imagined he would fall in battle. It just did not seem possible. And then he was lifeless, stained with his own blood for—

But he is alright now. Linhardt and Dorothea are both seeing to him now, and this time, there is a life left to restore. I should be grateful.

Day 5:

Excellent news! Hubert has begun reacting to his environment! Dorothea was all smiles and even hugged me as she relayed the update to me. True, it is only a glance or a nod, and he does not speak still. But he is present in the moment! He even rolled his eyes when I arrived with a full bouquet to wish him well and bizarrely, I was thrilled with that reaction.

There may have been a trace of a smile there as well. Or perhaps I had only imagined it in my eagerness to see him well, giving orders to his agents, having his morning coffee in the meeting room, even hearing that foreboding laugh of his in the halls… I have missed him terribly. I simply wish to tell him as much, whether he scolds me to be less theatrical or maybe something kinder. Over the course of the war, I have seen glimpses of his compassionate nature that is as hidden and enigmatic as the rest of that infuriatingly enthralling man.

And whether the statement is excessive in his eyes or not, his brush with death and subsequent absence while Edelgard’s uncle saw to this mysterious treatment has it made it very apparent how much I rely on him. How much we all have come to.

Not that the Empire has been greatly hindered. His agents are presently carrying out various contingency plans to uphold the network and their own assignments from Hubert while he is in recovery. How ever does he manage such far-reaching foresight? Someday soon, I hope to ask him myself.

Day 7:

As expected, Hubert is progressing well on his recovery! He is speaking articulately but unable to recall anyone, not even Edelgard. Although his personality does appear to be intact… He did try to conceal his lack of awareness as long as possible. Even asked directly, Hubert claimed to know who was present and did know the titles of those in his company. But he could not offer even a single birthday!

We have all been receiving small gifts and calligraphed cards discreetly on our birthdays for years. Typically, it was an item we had needed for some time and put off acquiring or was unattainable through all available to channels—to us, at least. Who else could have kept track of all that and a war while observing us to select gifts we would all appreciate? Still, no one expected him to be completely recovered within a week of his return. There is time yet!

Day 12:

Hubert was concealing more than the disconcerting state of not remembering the people dearest to him, which I suppose I should have anticipated. While he does recognize his fellow Black Eagles now, he doesn’t acknowledge his own name. He understood that people said Hubert in application to him and consciously chose to respond to it rather than recognizing it instinctively.

The discovery came gradually in several mundane events, such as when he was called out to while reading and did not even answer. No one could accuse him of being particularly friendly, but even Hubert was above purposefully ignoring someone for no cause whatsoever. Of course, he held to this ruse as long as possible as well.

When he could not any longer, he admitted to Edelgard that it was because we all seemed distressed enough as it was. Even without his memories at his disposal, Hubert adamantly placed the needs of others above his own while he remains confined to a cot. As concerning as his condition is, I’m finding myself impressed at the breadth and depth of his attentiveness to those around him. Come what may, I know now that Hubert will always be just as I remember him. And admire him, truly.

Day 19:

In a week’s time, Hubert has made remarkable progress yet again! He greeted me today before I even spoke to him, and so fondly at that. The sharp perception of his eyes has returned, and his smirk is perfectly done. This, I am confident, is no ruse! He is no longer confused by people he was close to, although he seems generally disoriented in areas too far removed from his usual places now that he can go for walks. While supervised by an upstanding ally, naturally.

We can visit the library and the specific table we usually occupied for our tea breaks, although I refuse to bring him to his office lest he be tempted to overexert himself, but the fishing pond or the stables leaves him staring at me for guidance. Or he may be hoping to ground himself in seeing a familiar face? I didn’t dare ask and risk his recuperation.

As it is, he is acting unusually despite his persistent sacrificial character. Why, just at tea today, he apologized to me! In broad daylight and plain sight and earshot of our peers! Hubert expressed his remorse for a perceived failing as a minister to serve alongside me and lead Edelgard together. He even referred to us a couplet. A couplet! I was disgracefully flustered into a broken answer to reassure him, but it did seem to do him some good.

…Then again… Oh, dear. Perhaps that was not enough. I shall just have to work harder to prove that taking time to restore his health is no failure! And when he is ready to return, we shall move forward as impressively as ever—together.

Day 23:

Abruptly, today did not go well for Hubert. Linhardt explained that magical procedures may sometimes regress sharply like that, but there was a weariness in his eyes that suggested he was despairing at this turn of events. From what I have heard, he experienced some kind of hallucination and forgot himself entirely. It must have been a horrid vision to inspire him to attack a medic working under Linhardt in a grand, if misguided, attempt to escape the palace.

He’s been restrained to his cot now, of course, and he is being kept asleep magically in the hopes that this will put his mind at ease.

Healing is a long, difficult path, and I knew this before he returned to us. I wish I understood more of what he was suffering through. The stripped clean white of his hair, the tormented hallucinations that plague him, his displacement in his own life and mind, I just… I desire nothing more than to reach out and hold him. Considering where we began at the academy, it is a relatively new impulse to protect Hubert, but how could I not? He has always been so capable and logical, regardless of how viciously we fought in our youth. Now that he is in need, it is all I can do to be at his side however I am able.

Which, at present, is shamefully little.

Linhardt theorized that his Crest’s power flared due to a weather event or celestial change beyond our understanding, something conditional like with the Crests of Lysithea or Catherine. It is Linhardt’s belief his mind is trying to reconcile the new existence of the Crest. Should that be the case, that would mean memories are stored within Crests as well, but they go unnoticed to those born with them while potentially causing madness in those granted them.

I can think of nothing more horrific than Hubert von Vestra losing his mind due to a risk we took without his knowledge or approval. Did Edelgard truly make the right choice by sending him away with Lord Arundel? Did I, by remaining silent?

Day 25:

Yesterday, Hubert was utterly vacant, and the entire medical wing of the palace had the atmosphere of a crypt. But the update that he was non-verbal and responding to friends anew has broken through that gloom like a vibrant parade. …My heart is simply not in characteristically poetic analogies just yet, but I am grateful for the joy others have found in this. All I feel is terror that we will be trapped in this loop of restoration and loss forever as punishment for our decision.

Day 28:

I went to visit today, and Hubert was extraordinarily cross at being restrained. How strange, that his glower made me beam with delight. Just to witness it reinforced my faith that he would be himself again for good this time around. The process of helping him drink coffee went more smoothly than I expected, and he did seem soothed by my reading of the latest heroic tale from my favorite author. He claimed he would rather hear the reports from his agents, of course. That soft look in his eyes spoke to the truth of the matter, however!

I dreaded that he would hate us for our choice to save him by any means. Instead, it may very well be that we are closer than ever.

…Focus, Ferdinand! Now is not the time for flightful fantasies of the heart.

Day 35:

I ran into Hubert unattended in the halls today! He dismissed an agent for assignment and greeted me with the warmest smile I have ever seen grace his expression. We walked together to the stables, and he went out of his way to confess he had no business whatsoever there but to be with me.

We spoke of how Linhardt noted that it was remarkable how quickly Hubert has adapted since the last jarring episode. There is no evidence yet to confirm if it’s the Crest acclimating to his body and vice versa or Hubert being “too smart and stubborn”.

Vastly inspiring as that is, the true miracle is what came next.

When we were alone in the stables, Hubert stood so close to me that I imagined I felt his heartbeat syncing with my own. Those piercing green eyes lingered on me in a way that revealed such devotion and admiration that I was locked in place as though I was a statue. He brushed my hair from my face so tenderly, bringing his slightly chapped lips to rest against my cheek with such lightness that I barely know if it happened or I dreamt it from moons of longing for that very act.

But I could never forget the brush of his breath against my ear as he whispered his gratitude for my support before withdrawing in a sweep of his black cloak to Goddess knows where. Saints, my face blazes just to write it out! Wherever our journey takes us next, my heart swells with pride that we will see it through together, hand-in-hand, shining for all the world to see. If our love for one another is the only deed of mine that is ever documented, I will be honored beyond measure.


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full moon through a window on a cloudy night

A Way Forward: Kingdom Hearts Fanfiction

Word count: 679 (2 to 6 minutes) | Rating: T | Note: Spoilers, nightmares, scarring, and canon character death | Characters: Ienzo, Axel, and Riku Replica


“He’s as good a place to start as any.”

He didn’t need a heart to feel the fear cut into him. “You can’t do this,” Zexion insisted, barely able to stand upright, never mind fight back. And yet he tried as the Riku replica slammed him into the wall as easily as if he were a paper doll. The magic channeled between them was searing and numbing all at once as the hand closed around his throat.

An exact recreation of the person he just fought and nearly lost to stared at him, smirking as darkness ate the edge of Zexion’s vision—and his form. His hands grabbed at the replica’s arm holding him above the floor and tightening on his neck as the magic continued eroding his body. Zexion could calculate the very rate of the energy transfer from his heartless body to that of the Riku replica, and he did not have long now. Yet his greatest fear was in not knowing what was to come after.

Would he be with Lexaeus and Vexen? Would this distant, aching pain endure into that next life? Smoke billowed around his hands, and his grip failed. Zexion could only barely make out Axel watching him die on his deceptive suggestion, eyelids fluttering shut while the last of him transferred to the replica.

Deplorable. What of the ties that held us together, Axel?

Ienzo jolted from sleep with a gasp, keenly aware of the cold Radiant Garden castle air. Perhaps because the faded navy blanket was on the floor and his grey sheets were tangled around his legs. Certainly, the sweat soaking his long-sleeved turtleneck sleep shirt didn’t help the matter.

“Just a dream,” he breathed, reassuring himself against the tingling, burning sensation around the scar on his neck and trying to slow the thundering heartbeat in his chest. How interesting that the sleeping world could follow him into the real one so intensely.

The first order of business was to free his legs, getting up from the bed to change his shirt. Whatever he chose to do next, he wouldn’t be comfortable in that. He paused for only a moment to calm himself further and took a moment to appreciate the silver-blue glow of moonlight washing over his familiar bedroom.

This room had been his before the Organization and fall of Radiant Garden, though all but the furniture was new. Well, aside from the bed. He didn’t grow to be tall, but he had indeed grown since he was a little boy.

Peeling his shirt off and into the hamper, Ienzo took a towel from his armoire drawers to dry off the residual sweat. He tossed that in the hamper as well and paused again, this time by the mirror. Even in the late evening light—or was it early morning?—the scars were too visible. Ienzo traced the path from his neck scar to the Lichtenberg-like scarring splintering out and down his torso and arms.

He had some muscle definition now, at least. Perhaps because he was slight as it was, but he preferred to credit the short exercise routine that Aeleus and Dilan devised for him at his request. Still, he did not look well. Pale with tired eyes, Ienzo felt only a glance would betray how truly fragile he felt in this life. And he resented that fact completely.

Everyone was recovering. He didn’t need to match their pace, but he refused to slow them down. Ienzo picked up his latest book from the nightstand along with his gummi phone, leaving his bedroom to warm up water for tea. Returning to sleep was not an option, not after a nightmare like that one. He had tried in the past with little success. More often, he was greeted with another nightmare if sleep came at all.

He would overcome this too, in time. He had to. There was too much on the line and more still to make up for. Ienzo may be haunted by the past, but he would find the path to this future in those mistakes.


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FFXV Meta: Too Much is Never Enough

I’ve recently beaten Final Fantasy XV and have been sating my need for more content by consuming all the DLC, scripts, and anime (which I’m sure you understand if you’ve also played). The other way I’m coping with the fact that I’m done FFXV is by analyzing one of my favorite songs from the OST, Too Much is Never Enough by Florence + the Machine.

Mind you, these lyrics are subjective and you may find other metas that have a different take. Enjoy them all! The fun is in gathering all the different ideas to discuss. And since you’re here, this is my perspective on what the lyrics mean in Too Much is Never Enough.

BEWARE: FFXV Spoilers Abound

Proceed with Caution

About 1500 words | 5- to 10-minute read

ffxv ff15 chocobros too much is never enough


 

A year like this passes so strangely

Somewhere between sorrow and bliss

He never really grieved his father fully, not on screen at least, and I think these lyrics really speak to that. He’s on the road with three people he loves like family*, but in the meantime, he’s lost his father without really getting to say goodbye. And they had such an emotionally charged but unexpressed (or under-expressed) father-son relationship that he’s never quite fully recovered from or processed his loss.

* not negating any ships here, just acknowledging his bond with all of the Chocobros

– – –

Oh, who decides from where up high?

I couldn’t say I need more time

Oh, grant that I can stay the night

Or one more day inside this life

I love this direct contradiction because that’s just so Noctis: to conceal what you really need emotionally even as you know that’s what you need.

To say you don’t need more time, but praying for the one night or maybe just one more day there, with his family—that’s all he needs before he lays down his life for them.

Because Noctis naturally doesn’t say what he feels, sometimes even saying the opposite, or says just the tip of the iceberg of his real feelings. That cloaked duality comes across here in a really meaningful, subtle (and yeah, hurtful) way.

But it also shows this desperate (not sure if this is the best word, but it’s that quality of needing someone), vulnerable side to Noctis that just wants a single night more even as he also says he couldn’t say he needs more (not that he’s singing, just going on the Noctis angle).

As much as Noctis is kind of spoiled and definitely takes his friends for granted, that doesn’t change the depth of his love for them.

And though this is the official lyrics line break, I do think it’s interesting that it can be heard either as shown above or:

Oh, who decides from where up high? I couldn’t say

I need more time

As an alternate interpretation of “who says it has to be this way, I don’t know” and then the plea for a little more time here with the ones he holds so dear to his heart. This ability to hear it differently really reinforces the duality/contradiction of these lines.

FINAL_FANTASY_XV chocobros selfie

– – –

And the crown it weighs heavy

‘Till it’s banging on my eyelids

Retreating in covers and closing the curtains

I once told my friends that Noctis was like a cat that hides beneath the bed and the Chocobros all have different tactics for getting him out—this section of lyrics reminds me of that, but way prettier and more poetic.

Retreating in covers and closing the curtains, shutting out the world, because he’s avoiding feelings, the pressures of royalty, etc. The specific things being avoided in these lines are royal obligations and the cost of being the True King, of course.

And it does remind me of the pointedly kingly moments of Noctis—like when Jared was killed, he focused on Talcott, speaking to him like his king rather than as his friend. He showed empathy, understanding that this situation wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right, but he promised to make it right.

FFX Noctis Talcott

That’s not something he’d say like that to his boys or Luna—similar, maybe, but not the same. If you know him as Prince Noctis, you aren’t getting past the curtains. He won’t let you in because you need him to be an icon, and he won’t disappoint you that way. But if you know Noct? You stand a better chance, at least.

Another moment is kiddo Noctis declaring to Gladio in Brotherhood that he won’t lose their sparring match—he has lost every one at that point, he has no reason to believe he’ll succeed. But that’s what is expected of him, that’s what he needs to do as prince.

And as much as that pressure is a lot—that crown weighs heavy—he embraces it, he wants to meet that expectation and make them proud. But the cost is both his closed nature and in a way, being blind to the costs of the crown. He knows there’s a cost, he’s said to Prompto that being a normal person is kind of nice. But he doesn’t acknowledge a limit to how much cost is too much (an interesting twist on the title, now that I think of it).

There’s a bit of idle dialogue in-game where Ignis comments on Noctis looking worn down, and Gladio says he needs to take better care of himself—and Noctis tells them that’s their job. I’m using this as an example of him not seeing self-care as worth it, seeing this cost as not being too much to pay, blind to its toll—and his friends have to take on that toll for him so he can keep on going.

But honestly, even the fact that Prompto says nothing is part of the cost. You know this boy probably wanted to speak up, but he 1) might’ve felt it wasn’t his place, thanks Noctis and 2) is the least pushy of his friends.

He lets Noctis come to him when he wants or needs something, so he puts his own feelings aside for Noctis’ benefit. Prompto is someone he can avoid the crown/feelings with who won’t bring it up before he’s ready, which is important, but it’s Prompto who shoulders that burden in the meantime.

Though I also want to say I think the really beautiful thing with Luna is that she gets the special privilege of seeing Noctis as himself and the True King simultaneously— they are one and the same to her, and I think that’s a big part of his feelings for her too.

Again, not negating any ships here! I’m a multishipper, so this game is a grand ol’ buffet of cute ships to me. :sparkling_heart:

– – –

And who cares about the thing I did that night?

So what, maybe Luna had it right

And who cares if I’m coming back alive?

So what, least I have the strength to fight

Okay, so if you look at these four lines separately, you get more options, but I’m choosing to look at them all together because angst.

When Luna dies and sees Noctis one last time, she says they can’t see each other again “because my prayers have been answered, my calling fulfilled”.

That’s what I’m thinking of with “maybe Luna had it right”, but this introduces an interesting thought that Noctis thought she was wrong before. Suggesting that perhaps he was angry with her for praying to die for them even if that is the cost of the Oracle’s covenant. Basically his thought path would be along the lines of “wtf Luna, haven’t I lost enough?”

ffxv luna noctis field scene.jpg

One of the five stages of grief is anger, so that’s especially intriguing to me because I have a feeling Noctis would also feel guilty about being angry, and of course he’s all caught up in his own feelings for the indefinite future as he works this whole mess out.

The first and third lines of this section apply well to the endgame. He’s referring to his own death for the safety of all without actually using the word itself. Avoidant even now, because sometimes it is just too much to take, whether you’ve made your peace or not (and of course he had, he says as much).

But it’s also an extension of not having any idea of what cost is too much—he’ll pay any cost for them and the world. Let’s be real, it’s mostly for the ones he loves, but he lives up to his duty with pride.

But he’s still being dismissive of their feelings. He doesn’t care if he comes back alive, but they do. One last cost he leaves them to pay, but that is part of their duty in this. They filled the time he had with love and a good deal of patience, so they must be among those not exactly celebrating at the return of natural order.

In a way, that last line is for all of them—having the strength to be there, to fight, to live up to the honorable, painful duty set before them—they can be proud of that despite the steep cost.

Thanks for reading!

If you’ve got thoughts to share, I’m happy to see them.

BioQuest: Free

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Was she ready? It was a good question even if she didn’t feel any fear at facing Fontaine… There was someone she was afraid of leaving behind. Almost without thinking, Elizabeth reached out for the front of Jack’s sweater, her fingers twisting around plush, worn cabled yarn as she pulled him into a kiss.

Not a chaste one either. The last they might ever share if something went wrong, as this things so often did, and she put all that feeling into it. Jack gasped and she took the opportunity to deepen the kiss, her face flushing at how bold she was being.

But this was it, perhaps the only chance she’d have. Elizabeth had no idea what she doing outside of the romance books from the tower she read time and again.

The hand he’d held out to her found its way to her back and for a moment, she could pretend they were safe and the fight was already over.

Then Jack pulled away, resting his forehead against hers and gently rubbing her back. “It’s time, Elizabeth.” He didn’t have to say any more. “I love you with everything I am, whatever that might be… I’m yours.”

Elizabeth chuckled warmly as tears pricked at her eyes, not quite coming. “You’re whoever you want to be, Jack. And wherever your path takes you, no matter what comes, I will always love you.”

She opened her eyes to see his still closed, and he bit his lip to keep from crying– she assumed. He turned to the stairs, going up and into the elevator and kept his head down.

“Thanks, Elizabeth. For everything you’ve done. I…” His voice wavered for a second and he recovered as she came to join him, holding his hand. “Thanks.”

— Fontaine’s Lair —

“We didn’ know one another long, boyo,” Atlas droned as the elevator rose. At the gates of the last stand, it made sense that she felt Jack’s hand tighten around hers. “But you? You were like a second son t’me.”

The ADAM distorted his voice and she almost couldn’t believe it hadn’t warped his mind so far that he’d drop the Atlas ruse.

“Way I see it, your old man took my family from me. All of it,” he spat. “And that’s why this hurts. Betrayal, boyo… I know life ain’t fair, I know it better than most. But this one’s personal.”

And the elevator stopped, pausing for only a moment before the deco doors slid open to reveal the massive empty room. In its center stood some device, Atlas— no, Fontaine suspended and barely recognizable as human, never mind himself. Ryan was slumped over in a chair beside him, bloodied but still breathing.

“I’ll take care of draining the ADAM,” Jack explained, pulling his hand away as his eyes hardened. “And I’ll fight with everything I’ve got.”

“You won’t be alone in that,” Elizabeth answered curtly, holding her gun at the ready.

The fighting truly began once Jack drained him of ADAM, and Fontaine broke free, backhanding Jack clear across the foyer. It was chaos from then out– a cycle of super-powered plasmids overtaking Fontaine’s body as his ADAM resources became more and more depleted.

He screamed at them from the device, how he was going to cut them to pieces and the girls would be next, all the most horrible things he could think of. Elizabeth wondered if there was another version of him in some reality that might be horrified by this, but somehow, she doubted it.

It was luck that she found the bot shutdown panel before the security bots got too out of hand, and that bought her time to hack them to their side too. The splicers were another story altogether, even with Jack turning them with Enrage…

Every muscle in her body screamed, and there were far too many close calls to count. Jack drove the needle into Fontaine’s chest for the fourth time, hopefully the last. But he didn’t move fast enough to evade another brutal backhand from Atlas that sent him flying.

“Jack!” She started reloading, cursing the exhaustion that fighting this long brought with it.

“I made you,” Fontaine began, stomping towards Jack as he scrambled back. “Showed you what you were, all you were capable of… If you don’call that family, I don’t know what is!”

She finished reloading, aiming for his heart, when the first little girl leapt at him. But it wasn’t until the rest of the girls came from the tunnels of Rapture, stabbing him as their cries mixed with his, that Elizabeth could let herself believe it was over. Well and truly over.

Everyone was free.

She ran to Jack, dropping her weapon uselessly to the ground as she helped him to his feet. “Jack, are you hurt?”

“All over,” he breathed but smiled. “But… I can be free. I can go anywhere, be anyone.” He didn’t seem to believe it himself. One of the little ones ran up to him as Tenenbaum and Booker stepped out of the elevator, going straight for Ryan.

“I think I’d like to be with you. In Paris,” he added, laughing tiredly. “I don’t even know where that is or what it looks like.”

Elizabeth threw her arms around him, pulling him in tightly. “It’s alright. We’ll see it for the first time together.”


An epilogue turned out to not be necessary, so this is the end! Thank you for all your support.

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BioQuest: To the Point

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The presentation of two doses of Lot 192 from Tenenbaum got more of a reaction from Jack than the message from Atlas did. As pained as he was, he seemed suddenly… Unsure was the closest word Elizabeth had. He stared at the bottles as if they might disappear at any second.

“Drink them both quickly,” she ordered, somberly staring him down. “This will not be pleasant.”

Like a spell was lifted, Jack took both bottles without a moment’s hesitation and downed the first. He almost dropped the bottle once it was empty, a shuddering gasp escaping him the second he was finished drinking.

“Tenenbaum,” Elizabeth warned, reaching out to Jack to– she didn’t know what. How could she help when she didn’t even know what was happening? She could feel the tremors in his body even with a light touch.

“Nein, Jack, the second bottle,” the mother in her kicked in, pushing his other hand up to jolt him out of whatever the effects of the first were. Fire and electricity ran up his forearms and over his hands as he drank the second bottle, his face twisted in pain.

“Jesus, Mary’n Joseph,” McDonough exclaimed, taking a few hearty steps back. “What in blazes?!”

“It’s… It’s over now.” Jack did drop the bottles now, color back in his face even as he trembled– however slightly. “We need to go.”

Elizabeth nodded, knowing this is exactly what she would want in his place. “And we will.” She marched over to him, met with a tired, confused stare as his shoulders slumped. And Elizabeth hugged him gently, feeling his breath steadying and finding a bit of solace in that. “I love you, Jack. Now that I’ve said it, we can go.”

She tried to ignore Booker and Tenenbaum sharing a grin, but her own smile wouldn’t quit.

“I’m… Right behind you!” Jack caught up, walking beside her with a bright-eyed smirk. Whatever Point Prometheus held, she knew they could handle it. Together, they could handle anything.

“W-wait,” a young girl’s voice called after them, and she turned to see Sylvette. She gave Jack the present from the girls at his birthday party, and she was close with Carol, but Elizabeth didn’t know much else about her. “You’ll need help… From a former Little Sister. Fontaine, he… He’s splicing now. I can help you against him. Me and my sisters.”

Without missing a beat, Jack nodded. “Thank you, Sylvette. This means a lot to me.”

Her smile was faint, almost invisible in the dark, and even less obvious as she shrank in shy delight. “Oh… Of course. We’re family.”

— At Point Prometheus —

Leaving the Bathysphere station, everything was calm… Even if it was in shambles.

“Watch your step,” Sylvette advised, flitting over the wreckage like a natural. Her boots helped with that, no doubt, though her floral overalls were well out of place here. Elizabeth figured her dress and Jack’s knit sweater were too, though.

“Oi remember puttin’ you into that sub,” Atlas drawled on overhead speakers, so sincerely hurt. Jack exhaled sharply, but otherwise, his mouth was set in a hard line and he never stopped scanning their surroundings as they pushed ahead.

Atlas had to have his people eating up some story or another, a hint of the truth drowned out by pretty lies. “T’help you escape this awful place. And what’s my thanks? You come right on back, but to save your daddy even after he tried to kill your mum.”

Turrets and splicers broke up his speeches, inaudible underneath her calls out to Jack, Sylvette warning about more splicers, and the general chaos of combat.

“S’ppose there’s no helpin’ it. Blood’s blood, and yours is tainted,” he accused. Even if Jack didn’t feel that, she did. Her grip tightened on her weapon, and Elizabeth got a second wind. Atlas would eat those words.

“You wanna find me, save your wretch of a father?” He chuckled drily, a twinge of… Something else layering his voice now. Something inhuman. “Come to the top o’ the Point. We’ll settle this like men.”

The overhead speakers hissed off, and they came out from their long trek to an atrium of sorts… Filled with vending machines and weapons, and the odd corpse or leak. Had Fontaine been preparing for them here, just like they would now? And where was Ryan?

Sylvette darted over to a Little Sister holding out a needle from the flower tunnel, muttering something to her before running back.

“We… We can’t beat him without this.” She bit her lip, looking down at it before presenting it to Jack. “Drain him of ADAM. It’s the only way.”

He took the needle, pulling her into a one-armed hug. His voice was low, tender, but Elizabeth could just make out the words. “Thanks again. You’re the family I’ve always wanted. All of you.”

With a sniff, she nodded and took off to the tunnel. Soon, she would be too big to use it. Carol was already, and she was so proud of herself for it. For them, they had to win. This was why they came here from Columbia in the first place, and she got so much more than she ever hoped for.

“Elizabeth?” Jack held his open hand out to her, waiting for her on the first few steps to the elevator that would take them to Fontaine. “Are you ready?”


What do you want to do, Elizabeth?

Two chapters remain, potentially one (an epilogue will only happen if I need to tie up any loose ends). 

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BioQuest: The Fray

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Tenenbaum didn’t say a word, just kept getting her supplies together in preparation to make Lot 192. Looked like she was coming along, at least, but it was up to Elizabeth to decide anything that remained.

With a careful breath as she watched Jack, Elizabeth reached for the radio from Diane. She only hesitated for a second before opening the channel. “Booker, do you read me?”

“Yes,” he answered, curt with the expectation of worse news he always seemed to carry. He wouldn’t be wrong, not this time. “McDonough’s secure.”

“Can you meet us Suchong’s old apartment? We need Lot 192 for Jack now.” As if on cue, Jack hissed and tensed while he was getting his weapons together for braving the city. Try as he might to be subtle about it, Elizabeth couldn’t keep from noticing his every expression and stumble.

“The hell happened?” An echo of McDonough in the background layered with Booker’s response, but they didn’t have time for either. Not yet.

“We’ll tell you when we get there,” Elizabeth explained, picking up extra ammo for her gun.

“Right,” he grumbled and the line went to static.

“Ready to go?” Tenenbaum hadn’t wasted a moment, her pistol and science equipment ready.

“As I’ll ever be,” Jack breathed, pale but determined as he made his way to the exit.

“I’ll stay with the girls and watch the clinic. You be safe out there, you hear me?” Diane squeezed Elizabeth’s hand gently, giving her a worried smile.

“Of course, Diane.” Elizabeth felt a pang of guilt that it couldn’t be a promise, but she would do her best. They all needed to come home.

– – – Outside Suchong’s Old Apartment – – –

bioshock_s11_207218741202578438319.jpg

Slowed down by Jack, they arrived to gunfire and shouting already underway. Without a word, everyone reacted like a well-oiled machine. They covered each other’s back and pushed forward to the apartment itself– no sign of Booker or McDonough, unless the dead splicers they passed counted as evidence.

“Elizabeth,” Jack called out, pointing down the hallway to a lit room across from a slumped over, bloody splicer. “The– there. I saw Booker.”

How he caught so much in battle, she would never know. She nodded, leading the way with her gun ready. Tenenbaum shoved past, going directly for the shelves and muttering in German.

“Thank God,” Booker muttered, stepping back to give her space. Science was… Out of his scope, so she couldn’t be surprised.

booker dewitt bioshock.jpg

“Good to see you too,” she teased him, smirking. Everything had been so chaotic from possible treaties to Atlas’ ambitions, this was a shred of normalcy Elizabeth needed.

“Aha!” That was the only alert from Tenenbaum that she was making progress before she cleared off a battered desk and set to work.

“So…” McDonough cleared his throat, thumbing to Jack. He looked older than she thought he’d be, but he had a naturally fatherly air about him that made you want to trust him. “This the kid?”

bill mcdonough bioshock

“Yeah,” Booker answered, studying Jack and his unsteady breathing. “Yeah, that’s the one.”

“Ryan’s kid,” McDonough said through a laugh. “Yer dad’s not a bad man, son, he’s just…” He scratched the back of his head awkwardly, the sentence dying. “I’m Bill McDonough. ‘S great to meet ya.”

“Thanks,” Jack answered, taking Bill’s offered hand. “He… Kind of is.”

“Almost done,” Tenenbaum interrupted, though Elizabeth doubted that she’d known she had. This was Tenenbaum’s area of expertise, after all.

“Hello, boyo,” came the fizzled voice of Atlas through Booker’s radio. “Hope you ‘ad fun cutting down my people,” he spat, a sure sign he wasn’t alone. He only had to put on a show for his people, not one of them mattered to him.

atlas1858422307852987457.jpg

“‘Cause we’re gonna get even.” Elizabeth raised her eyebrows, distantly impressed with his emotion. For a person who can’t bring himself to genuinely connect, he almost sounded invested. “Hurry now to Point Prometheus, an’ you might just be in time to save yer old man.”

Thankfully, they had Tenenbaum to break up the staticy silence that followed.

“Jack,” she called him over, holding up two bottles. “You’re a free man.”


What do you want to do, Elizabeth?

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BioQuest: Sideways

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Elizabeth didn’t have an exact count on how many people from the Family were with Grace, but she believed Grace wouldn’t let harm come to them. Even if they didn’t agree to the truce, she’d keep the peace. Elizabeth had to believe that.

“I have considered your offer, but I actually come here with one of my own.” She holstered her weapon, hearing Diane doing the very same behind her. If anyone recognized her in connection to Ryan, they didn’t mention it.

“We’ve made a truce with Ryan,” she started frankly, hoping that honesty would earn her some leniency. Elizabeth saw anger come to Grace quickly, spreading to the Family with her like wildfire.

“A truce with that monster! Like he cares what happens to the good people of Rapture,” she scoffed. “Throw your lot in with him if you like, but we–”

“Grace, please hear me out before you decide. I implore you,” Elizabeth begged, trying to pull this back from the brink. She only had this one chance. “This is our opportunity to bring peace to Rapture for everyone.”

Grace shook her head, scowl unwavering. “Peace? That animal doesn’t want any peace.” Muttering agreement rippled through the group beyond her. “How can you tell me about peace with Ryan when he holds Dr. Lamb, the one who really cares about us little people?”

bioshock rapture family

“We’ll talk to him about Dr. Lamb,” Diane interjected, stepping up to stand beside Elizabeth. “It’s the only right thing to do.”

It was a tall order, but they had to try it. And the fact that Diane came forward… Elizabeth couldn’t be happier. Her friend was finding the self-esteem to be brave when she had to be.

“You do that,” Grace bit back, but at least her expression had softened slightly. “But you hear this, and you remember it well: his answer is ours.”

“I understand,” Elizabeth nodded, taking the unspoken command to leave. Diane walked alongside her in silence until they were far enough from the Limbo Room for comfort when the radio she carried crackled to life.

“Zur Hölle fahren,” came the first distant words, and Elizabeth’s heart froze. Gunfire followed while Diane scrambled to get the radio where they could both speak into it.

“Tenenbaum! Can you hear me?” Elizabeth waited for what felt like ages in static.

“Yes, yes, I hear you,” she snapped back. “Scheisse.” More gunfire burst in the background. “Fontaine was watching us. With you both and Booker gone, he attacked.”

atlas fontaine bioshock

“Oh, oh no,” Diane worried, her brows furrowing. “What about the girls?”

“And Jack?” They only just opened up to one another, finally starting to date. She waited for him to ask, why did she do that? What if he was–

“We pushed him back. They’re safe, but not for long.” Static punctuated her sentence and it was all Elizabeth could do not to run off without a word.

“We’ll be there soon,” Elizabeth promised, rushing ahead as Diane hurried to keep up.

– – – Back at the clinic – – –

The first thing she heard was Jack biting back a scream, and Elizabeth couldn’t hold back anymore.

“Lizzie, wait,” Diane tried to shout, breathless, but with no luck in stopping her.

“Jack, where are you? Jack,” she called again, running through the second set of clinic doors to see him breathless, pale, and sweaty, leaning again a counter.

“H-here,” he forced out, wincing.

“Fontaine used a command, one I need Lot 192 to reverse,” Tenenbaum explained from her lab area. “Ryan hasn’t delivered, so we would have to go and get the supplies ourselves. But he can’t go anywhere.”

“I can–” Jack cut off in a horrid gasp, gripping the edge of the counter he was against. “I can go. I’ve had worse.”

“You aren’t convincing anyone, Jack,” Elizabeth said, tempted to be gentler but knowing she had to be honest first.

“I need the dose, or I’ll die waiting here for it. My heart is stopping every–” He cringed, eyes shut tight for a few seconds. “It’s stopping too often. I won’t make it unless I go too.”


What do you want to do, Elizabeth?

Read the next chapter.

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A Hero’s Burden: KH3 Spoilers

So I was doing some thinking on Luxu and Sora, and the parallels between them as protagonists of their own stories (though Luxu doesn’t have a game at the moment, of course)… And how much I’d love to analyze that like the nerd I am. And here we are!

Luxu

Sadly, there’s not much on Luxu himself before he returns as Xigbar. But I can glean some information from The Case of Luxu!

And yeah, he’s not exactly a hero, per se, but he’s got a quest and a mentor and bear with me here

The Gazing Eye

kingdom hearts back cover luxu.jpg

The Keyblade he was given didn’t have a name, but Luxu assumed this was its name. It’s something both literal and philosophical— there is literally an eye in it and it gives MoM the ability to see into the future.

And once he’s told it has no name, he repeats “No Name” with a breathless interest, giving the Keyblade a closer look. It’s safe for us to assume, then, that he’s a philosophical person who looks for deeper meaning in things and that he also reveres the Master of Masters like all the Foretellers do.

Whatever he told Luxu, the seventh member would have been interested and sought depth in the message he was given— whether it was there or not.

EWWW

But when he’s told that it’s the Master’s eye, he recoils and says “ew” immediately. From his voice here in particular, we can assume Luxu was young. Perhaps Sora’s age at Kingdom Hearts 1, but likely a little bit older.

Here’s where it gets interesting, though. When MoM asks him accusingly if he thinks that’s gross, Luxu hesitantly answers, “N-no.” He holds his hand out towards MoM in a disarming gesture, looking a little crestfallen.

So even though he just said Ew and clearly thinks it’s gross, he said he didn’t. Why lie? Based on his body language, he either didn’t want to disappoint MoM or didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

Later in life, I would call that a manipulation, but Luxu’s overall sincerity and inability to hold back his emotional responses here (such as recoiling and saying ew), I think it’s truly a little bit of both.

His Role

kingdom hearts back cover luxu box.png

When he’s told his role, he makes the connections quickly— his role is what allows the Book of Prophecies to exist. Luxu is smart, but for now, he tends to think in linear patterns. As most people do.

MoM tries to congratulate him on a job well done, but Luxu only said, “But I haven’t done anything yet.” This is a far cry from his actions as Xigbar, who sits on ceilings and casually warps space regularly while also helping out with some heart science and time travel.

The first step of his role was the most brutal, which I’ll expand on in this next section.

Luxu’s Disposition

Given how jumpy he can be, he’s likely kept to himself for the most part in his youth, possibly even being distrusting.

At one point, MoM says bingo and points in Luxu’s face and the younger man jumps and draws back to get some distance between them. This tells me Luxu dislikes sudden movements and people being in his space.

That said, all the Foretellers knew who he was even when he was Xigbar and presumably didn’t look like himself. So they knew him well enough to recognize his heart regardless of its vessel, at least.

His isolation during his role that took literally hundreds of years to see to fruition did not do him any favors in this regard. Especially considering he didn’t want to go alone and asked if he really had to, even wondering aloud what the other Foretellers would be doing.

With that and his eagerness to help MoM when pulling out the box, I think it’s a fair claim that Luxu doesn’t necessarily like people, but he’s loyal to those who are close to him. He dismissed his Keyblade the second he realized MoM was struggling with the box, running over to help him even though the job was mostly done.

And his promise to not open the box if he was told what was inside was softly spoken, but sincere, further cementing the notion that he’s devoted to those he already holds close.

But he’s also very curious and loves to push boundaries. If he’s told no, it just makes him want to do whatever it is more. Like not knowing what was in the box paired with not being able to open it made him really want to know what was inside.

And even when MoM told him what was in the box, he wanted to know why. This driven curiosity carried over to his time as Xigbar in the most destructive of ways, where learning secrets was worth nearly any cost.

His Descent

When he was told to just stand by and watch “as things unfold between the others”, the direct instructions from MoM, it was probably actually difficult to do. See them turning on one another, these people that he cared about and trusted, and worse yet— they were bringing the whole world down with them.

It’s no wonder that he grew to value emotional ties so little. It was those ties, their hearts, that led them so wrong. This affirmed that Luxu was right to distrust people, even friends, and that was the start of his descent down a slippery slope.

And now I draw my parallel.

With Sora!

sora riku soriku kingdom hearts

He’s curious, competitive, thoughtful, and loyal. Sora values his friends above all else and there’s nothing he won’t do for them.

To someone like Luxu, who started his journey by watching his friends destroy each other and the lives of those around him, it must be hard to see someone with a good deal in common with his younger self.

Sora also watched one of his friends turn on him, even going so far as to make him feel worthless.

But he was able to act. He wasn’t confined to a role. Sora stepped in and didn’t lose faith in his friends. Whether Luxu thinks he’s a fool who only put off the inevitable betrayal or resents him for being able to save the people he cared about (or a third option I can’t see yet), Sora is a reminder of how Luxu used to be.

Worse, how he could have been.

Then you get into meta narrative bits, like Kairi and Riku either expressly telling Sora or implying that he should never change.

As Sora battles with his insecurities, especially in KH3, it’s possible for him to go down a similar path as Luxu and lose his hope and optimism. For someone like Sora, that would make him change completely.

I can’t say that Kairi and Riku knew that was a risk or if Nomura is teasing that option with Sora. But I personally find it interesting that Luxu can be paralleled with Sora, at least with how they began their journeys, and I hope it is highlighted in some future game or DLC.

But most of all, I hope you had fun reading this!

Hearts’ Reunion: Zemyx

“I’m sorry you had to see me that way, Demyx,” Ienzo explained. It wasn’t much of a greeting for their agreed upon “chat” in the labs, but it had to be said sooner rather than later. Demyx seemed uncomfortable in the moment between Ienzo and Ansem the Wise, and it took Demyx speaking up for him to even realize that. Ienzo shook his head at such a serious oversight. And to think he believed he’d improved so much in understanding social cues since recompletion. He was proud of it, even.

“Nah, it’s no big deal,” Demyx dismissed with a wave, or as much of one as he could manage with two cups in his hands. Thick straws jutted out of the plastic film covering them and dark spheres sat at the bottom inch or two. Ienzo eyed the drinks, glancing up to Demyx questioningly. This was not part of their plans for this reunion and he couldn’t resist his curiosity.

A trait Demyx knew well from his regular visits to see him in the castle labs. He avoided his missions at all costs, but Demyx certainly always found time for social calls… Which led to their friendship and eventually evolved into something quite a bit more despite their lack of hearts. Pushing that thought away for now, Ienzo drew himself back to the present and willed his mind to stay on track.

“I just wasn’t really sure how to handle it. And, uhh, the others might’ve caught on if I dragged my feet.” After a thoughtful pause and a pout, he laughed. “Eventually. And Vexen, man, he is a terrible liar! He’d probably get me into more trouble with whatever story he cooked up.”

Ienzo chuckled at the thought. Even could keep his fair share of secrets, but it’s true that he had insufficient skills in impromptu lies. Given time to plan, at least, Even could deceive as well as any of them. But he had another question to address. “Demyx, what are those…?” He pointed to the cups and Demyx started as if he had completely forgotten they were there. Perhaps he had.

“Oh! Right!” He offered one to Ienzo, smiling from ear to ear. “You gotta try this! There’s a world out there with this stuff called bubble tea,” he answered with a shake of the cup he held out. The black orbs in the bottom jostled about to demonstrate his point that they were the reason for the name. Rather, Ienzo presumed that was the case. “I wanted to surprise ya, so I went with something I thought you’d like.”

“Thank you, but,” he trailed off, folding his arms as he examined the drink. “What is it, exactly? You’ve brought me a fair share of tea, but never anything like this.”

“I found it out—” Demyx cut himself off with a grumble, frowning. “Doing stuff.” Ienzo raised an eyebrow at that. Had Demyx taken up pretending his missions with the Organization didn’t exist? They were both well aware that he’d been deceived back into their ranks, so there was nothing to benefit from acting as though that wasn’t the case.

“It’s tea with some flavored milk, sugar, and they let you put a buncha stuff in it. I stuck with the classic chewy tapioca because the popping boba has this little flim that gets stuck in your teeth, and it’s just kinda weird. Still fun, though, you gotta try that next,” he ended through a giggle.

“Well, thank you,” Ienzo accepted, taking the cup from Demyx. “And now that we’re… getting to chat, I have some questions for you.”

“Huh?” Demyx fiddled with the straw in his cup, angling for the tapioca. “Umm, sure. Shoot.”

“The time at the castle… When we were both with the Organization, I…” Ienzo idly moved the cup around in his hands, busying himself to steady his mind. “Did it mean something to you?” It came out harsher than he meant it to. But what other way was there to ask and get an honest answer?

“You mean dating?” Demyx had a sip of his drink at the single worst time for Ienzo’s nerves, meeting his distressed gaze over the tea. “Aaah. I mean, sure. Even if it was in secret and all, like you wanted, I really lo— Sorry, sorry. I really like you.”

Ienzo sighed in relief, but it seemed there were more problems to resolve. “You can say love, Demyx. And I’m sorry I told you that you couldn’t before. Without believing I had a heart, I…” He shook his head, staring down at his untouched tea. “That was in the past, I suppose.”

Demyx watched him hopefully, brow furrowed but his smile intact. “Right, gotcha. I, uhh, I love you, so yeah, it, umm, it meant a lot to me, Zexion.”

“Please, call me Ienzo,” he diverted, not prepared for his confession even though he had prompted it. “I acknowledge that I am responsible for my actions as a Nobody, but I am using my human name now, and I… I love you as well.” To preoccupy himself, Ienzo finally had a sip of the tea. “Oh, this is delicious.”

“Ha! Called it!”