DISCLAIMER: Final Fantasy and its characters are property of SquareSoft LTD. I did not create the characters or the world in this fanfic and the purpose of this fanfic is to pay homage to the greatness that is Final Fantasy III/VI.
WARNING: This fanfic is rated PG for intense emotional situations. Do not read if you have not completed the game yet.
Locke Cole lay contentedly by the shore on the edge of the town of Mobliz. Of course, the shore had only gotten there just over a year ago, when Kefka unleashed a terrible evil upon the world. What was once a backwater village on the Veldt was now a colony for orphans, headed by the well meaning Terra Branford. He had decided to pay her a visit just to check up on her and her kids. It had been only a month since Kefka had fallen and the world was slowly beginning to heal itself. He could smell it in the air as he gazed into the sky. He knew from the moment that Terra let her hair down on the Falcon that there was, indeed, hope for rebuilding the world from the ground up. He then began to wonder how Rachel would have reacted to his newfound heroism. He had saved the world and she would have been his bride. She would have been rubbing elbows with royalty, imperial generals, notorious gamblers, and legendary knights. He would have loved to see the look on her face when he walked through that door in the town of Kohlingen, knowing that her knight in shining armor had returned to her. A tear came to his eye as he continued thinking about Rachel. No matter how much he tried not to convince himself of it, he was still deeply in love with her and missed her terribly.
The only women he knew in the world well enough to start anything with were, of course, Terra and Celes. However, he had not seen Celes for about two weeks. As she desired, she decided to wipe away the anguish and despair of her past life as an imperial general and start anew. Ironically, she had chosen to take up a career as an opera singer after her debut performance in Aria de Mezzo Carattere received rave reviews. The Impresario had pressured for her to return ever since she, along with Sabin, Edgar, and Terra, had rid the Opera House of the Dirt Dragon. Upon her return, she was whisked away into a new world of daylong rehearsals, voice lessons, dance lessons, and acting classes. She had no time for anything else, not even those who helped her attain this lofty position. She was officially a diva. Terra, on the other hand, was much more down to earth. She returned to Mobliz after Kefka's defeat, as she had promised to the children. Since then, she had allowed the children to go outside to play more often than she had before. There were no more threats from either the Light of Judgment or Phunbaba. She had also been helping Katarin raise her newborn baby girl, whom she had named Hope. The name was supposed to be representative of the hope and joy that Terra had brought to them all in their time of need and would be a reminder of how they would all look forward to the future.
Changes had been made to the town itself, as well. The house where Terra and the orphans originally resided had been repaired with the help of Sabin and Cyan. The lower level was now devoted entirely to the children, serving as their bedroom and play area when the weather was bad. In addition, there was a small room for the adult who was supposed to be on night duty, in case that any of the children had nightmares or wet their beds. The upper floor served as the kitchen, where Terra and Katarin took turns at preparing the meals. The second house, where Katarin had given birth to Hope, now served as the dormitory for whichever adults were not on night duty.
Locke's daydream about Rachel was cut short by a splash of water to the face.
"Hey!" he shouted as he looked over in the direction of the splash. It was a group of the orphans that Terra cared for. He then remembered why he had come to Mobliz, not only to see Terra. He loved kids. He had wanted to have his own children with Rachel and raise a happy family. This, he knew, was more valuable to him than any treasure that he would ever find. He chuckled in response as the children giggled back. "All right, you caught me sleeping."
"Were you really asleep, Uncle Locke?" asked a girl. Locke recalled that her name was Mina. She was about six years old and looked amazingly like Relm. "We're sorry if we woke you up."
"Nah. I was just sitting here thinking about something."
"Probably about Mama." said a young boy in a sly sort of voice. "You're in love with her, aren't you?" It was Kyle, the wisecrack of the bunch. Kyle was about the same age as Mina, only a bit shorter and definitely more obnoxious and annoying. It was just all a part or growing up and being a child, however.
Locke, being as good-natured as ever, responded. "Now, Kyle, you know that Terra, er, your 'Mama' and I are just very good friends. We went through a lot together in the past year or so."
"That's right, said Mina. "Mama told me the same thing. Uncle Locke is here to help her take care of us. Not because he's in love with Mama."
"If you say so, responded Kyle, who rolled his eyes into the back of his head.
"Children! Lunch is ready!" called Terra as she emerged from the first house. As Kyle headed off towards his lunch, Locke followed. Suddenly, he felt a tug at his jacket. Mina stood there.
"Uncle Locke," asked Mina, "how long are you gonna stay here?"
Locke looked down and smiled. "As long as your Mama needs me here, I'll be here." Smiling, Mina hugged him. The hug made Locke feel warm inside. He knew where he belonged. He loved the children here just as much as Terra did. Still, though, there was that part of him that longed to seek out new adventures and find new treasures. And, of course, he wanted to see Celes more than ever. He knew that he had his best chance with Celes, if he wanted to find a new woman to be with. Terra was too preoccupied with the orphans for him to be able to be alone with her. He also wanted to see Celes again because she wanted the same thing that he did, essentially. He wanted to forget Rachel and finally set himself free from the chains of his past that still bound him as strongly as ever. Celes started anew, so why couldn't he? He patted Mina on the head. "Come on. Our lunches will get cold," he said as he and the child headed towards Terra.
"I see that you and Uncle Locke have been spending some time together," said Terra.
"Yup! Uncle Locke is lots of fun," said Mina. "Mama, will we ever get to meet any of your other friends?"
"Maybe, if they choose to visit us too." Terra responded.
"I hope they're all like Uncle Locke," stated Mina as she looked up at Locke again. Locke began to blush as Mina went scampering off. He smiled and looked at the loud, messy table of children.
"You know, they really do love you." said Terra, crossing her arms and standing beside Locke.
"I know they do. I love them too. I've only been here for three days and I'm already taken by them." Locke then paused. He knew that this moment would not last forever. "But, Terra, as much as I would love to stay here, I can't."
"Oh, I understand, Locke. After all, you're an adventurer. The world and all it's mysteries are out there calling your name." she said sarcastically. Locke then began to walk towards the shore again, turning his back to Terra.
"They are, Terra. I can hear them. But, there's more out there than just adventure and treasure. I'm sure you know what I mean."
"Well, what else are you looking for?" she asked as she approached him again.
Locke sighed. He didn't know how Terra would react when he said this, but he knew that it had to be said. He shrugged
"Oh, I don't know. Redemption, maybe?"
Terra knew what was going on. Locke was still dwelling on his past. He still had not forgiven himself with what had happened to Rachel all those years ago. Edgar was right. Locke held on to all his memories, even the bad ones, for dear life, never wanting to let go. He was still tortured with what should have been ancient history. Terra went over to him and put her hand on his shoulder.
"Locke, you did as much as you could to help Rachel. You ventured into the lost Phoenix Cave to seek a thousand-year old piece of magicite thought lost to the world. Can't you come to terms with yourself? Can't you make peace with yourself?"
Locke turned to her. "Ironic that this is coming from you."
"That it may be, but it is the truth. When you finally find your peace, like I did, you'll find the answer you're looking for." said Terra, putting her hands on her hips. She was right, and Locke knew it too. He had to place everything he had ever felt about Rachel and move on. He then remembered what he had said to Kefka one month ago, that he had come to terms with celebrating life and the living and not unearthing pain.
"You think that someone will be willing to help me along the way?" he asked.
"It depends on who that someone is."
Locke paused. "Celes, maybe?" Terra smiled.
"She should know better than any of us about wanting to forget the past. I still can't believe that she became an opera singer. I didn't even know she could sing."
"Neither did I, until we heard her." he paused. "Edgar, Sabin, and I, that is." Locke then remembered the opening performance of "Aria de Mezzo Carattere." He remembered sitting there with Edgar, Sabin, and the Impresario watching Celes make her debut. He remembered seeing her in the dressing room before it all started. How she looked in her dress, how her hair was done, how graceful she looked on stage as she moved. "She was so beautiful."
A flag went up in Terra's mind. She could see the look in his eyes as he remembered the experience. "Locke?" asked Terra. "Do you have feelings for Celes?" She saw Locke turn his back again and walk further away.
"It's...It's just that...you're right. She does understand me. She understands me better than anyone else does."
"You didn't answer my question. Do you have feelings for her, Locke?"
Locke was cornered. He wanted to say that he didn't have feelings for Celes, but then he would be lying not only to Terra, but also to himself. How was he ever going to understand himself better if he kept putting up lies to block out other lies? He had to tell Terra the truth. It was all he could do.
"Yes. I do, I suppose." he said as he looked back at Terra.
"Well then, Locke Cole, I think you should go to her. Tell her how you feel." Locke shied away again.
"I'm afraid to, Terra. What if I screw up again?" Locke could feel the frustration build within him. "What if I can't protect her?" He was nearly in tears as he turned away from Terra and looked down at the ground. "What if...What if I fail her too?"
"If you keep thinking like that, you will." She came up behind him and hugged him around his waist. "Believe in yourself, Locke. You once loved a girl whom you thought was the most wonderful girl in the world; the only one you ever wanted to be with. Surely, you can do it again. Don't fear failure." She felt Locke sigh heavily. He was obviously not the same person she met over a year ago. She then knew what she could say to cheer him up. "You were there for me when I needed you." Locke's head jumped up, Terra's embrace continuing. "I was completely helpless and afraid after I was left alone in Narshe. You helped me get over my fears. You didn't fail me." Locke felt a soothing comfort in Terra's voice. She believed in him, maybe even loved him for what he did for her. He finally broke her embrace, turned to her, and put his hand on her cheek.
"Terra. Thank you." He then removed his hand from her cheek, turned around again, and looked over his shoulder. "I think I can do this now."
"Locke, I know you can." she said as she smiled. "Besides, I'm sure Celes would love seeing you again." Terra hesitated to continue. She was unsure of whether or not she should point out to Locke that Celes would obviously return his feelings. She had been flirting with him pretty blatantly and was clearly in love with him. At least, that was the Celes she knew before Kefka's defeat. Now, who knows what might be going through her mind. She didn't want to put Locke in a false sense security and boost his confidence just to have him come crashing back down to earth. She went back over to him and started to fix his jacket collar. "You might want to get fixed up before you head to Jidoor and the Opera House. You know how they are over there."
"Yeah, you're right." He backed away from Terra and looked down at his dirty clothes. "I can't remember the last time I got some new clothes. These have lasted me a good while."
"Just remember this, lover boy." Terra stated. Locke looked at her curiously. "Stop trying to be a hero to every girl you meet and start being you." Terra then planted a light kiss on his cheek. When she was finished she spoke again. "You know I love you and admire you, Locke. But you belong with Celes. I have always thought that she was the one for you." Locke chuckled and smiled back.
"I appreciate your concern and your feelings, Terra."
"Anytime." she responded. They then gazed into each other's eyes, smiling. The moment was then interrupted by the sound of "Ooo-ing" from the children. Terra and Locke jumped in surprise. "Children!" said Terra.
"See! I told you that Uncle Locke was in love with Mama! They were kissing!" said Kyle. Locke looked at Terra.
"This one I'll let you handle." Locke said. Terra winked back. She had a plan.
"Oh, I will, Locke." she said looking at him. She then turned to the children. "Children, Uncle Locke has told me that he's been a very bad boy. I think we should punish him by giving him a bath!" Locke jumped again in surprise and gaped at Terra.
"What???!!!" he shouted.
"Children, get him!" shouted Terra as she pointed at Locke.
"Yeah!" yelled the children as they charged towards Locke, overpowering him. He fell to the ground and was flat on his back as he looked at Terra, who was covering her laugh with her hand.
"Oh, I'll get you for this one." he thought.