Did Locke love Terra? I think he did, and I also believe that she in turn had feelings for him. After completeing Sonya's Story, I STILL wasn't quite finished with emotion so I decided to start this short fic.
I love him.
Terra Branford made her way slowly down the hard-packed path to Kohlingen, the same thought repeating itself again and again, battering her tender emotions until she thought she would lose her mind.
Her emerald hair swirled around her shoulders as she crept down the road, her eyes drifting across the blooming flora. Briefly, she wished Setzer had been available to transport her in the Falcon. Then, she wouldn't have had to endure the long trip over land and sea from Mobliz. But perhaps walking was for the best.
It gave her plenty of time to damn herself for what she was about to do.
Why couldn't she leave it alone? Why couldn't she admit that Locke loved HER? Was she doomed to be a walking wound forever? Would she ever understand the true meaning of love?
Lately, she had begun to believe that she was at last beginning to comprehend that most confusing of emotions. After all, weren't there dozens of very real people to shower her affection on?
The children of Mobliz. She loved them all, with their souls so pure and innocent. But she was still a young woman, and she longed for a different kind of affection. An affection she only wanted from one man. He was her first love, her only love.
And he was taken.
Her footsteps were soft as they touched the ground, her passage almost completely silent. She seemed to glide forward like some ethreal creature, her mind occupied solely with forbidden love.
Fate was doubly cruel: First, for dividing her and Locke when something had just begun to blossom. Secondly, for having Edgar, Edgar of all people, pay a little visit to Mobliz and mention that Locke and Celes were having a fight.
It was nothing new; the two of them had tiffs on a regular basis. But this was the first time Celes had run out on him. This was the first time Terra had acted on her raw, secret feelings. The first time she had visited Kohlingen to-
(Steal him away)
-chat with him about his relationship with the former imperial general.
Over and over, she told herself that she only planned to talk with Locke. Help him over this rough time in his life....
And hug him and kiss him and tempt him and sleep with him, her conscience accused. You're worse than a Vector whore, Terra.
No, she insisted. I only want to talk with him a while.
It seemed odd that a conscience could snort in derision, but hers did.
If only things hadn't been so.... so twisted around early on in the fight against the Empire. If only... if only....
There had been no opera.
She shook her head violently, once again trying to understand just why she was doing this, why she was about to risk destroying her friendship with Celes, and possibly Locke as well. Her emotions roiled in turmoil as she walked and once again she tried desperately to convince herself that she was only trying to catch up on old times with her "pal" Locke.
She had come to shatter a loving bond between two friends. She had come to take Locke away, entice him to hold and kiss and whisper sweet nothings to her. She had come to erase Celes from his mind forever.
Terra knew she shouldn't feel this way, shouldn't feel such jealousy towards her friend, perhaps the only other sane person on earth who understood the true burden of magic. Celes knew the pain that came with the magic arts, had dealt with the hardship of spellcasting since she was a child. In that aspect, she and Terra were kindred spirits. She wanted Celes to be happy, just as she wanted Locke to be happy.
If it hadn't been for the damn dreams, she would have been able to resist meddling in their relationship. But several months after the fall of Kefka, they began, astonishing in their frequency and intensity.
They were of Locke. Specifically, the time he and Terra had shared before her transformation. The charge in the air on that last night in the Returners' hideout.....
Terra closed her eyes, and the events of that night flooded back.
She shivered as the cool night wind whistled past her, hugging herself as goosebumps sprang into being on her exposed skin. It was cold as hell out here on the cliff and she should probably be going inside to sleep, but the view was just so beautiful.
Terra stood on a grass-covered spur that jutted out of the mountain, marvelling at the sights that stretched out before and below her.
The river Lete wound its lazy way through the mountains, glittering like a trail of diamonds as it bathed in the light of the glorious full moon. Crickets chirped gleefully, and as the young esper-woman gazed down into the valley below, she was filled with a sense of being in a totally different world. It was as if every drab rock, every blade of grass was magical under the gaze of that silvery orb. It was a world where anything seemed possible.
"Terra?" the warm voice drifted through the night to her.
She found herself smiling at the sound. It was the voice of the first person she had ever truly known, the first friend she had ever really met. It was the voice of her rescuer, her hero, a man that had vowed to stand by and protect her no matter what.
"Yes, Locke?" she answered in her own tinkling tones.
"It's very late, and we all have a lot of travelling to do tomorrow. You should be asleep." He moved to stand by her side.
"But look at this, Locke! It's so pretty!" She extended her arm to indicate the entire panorama before them.
"Not half as pretty as you," he said under his breath. Terra heard him anyway, and leaned against him. It took all her courage, but he didn't resist.
"I'm cold, Locke," she whispered. As she had hoped, his arms spread wide to encircle her. Terra sighed in the moonlight, consumed with bliss at being this close to the one she loved. She was pressed so near, she could feel his heart thumping in a rapid staccato beat.
"Terra," he breathed, revelling in the soft, clean smell of her emerald tresses.
"Are you really going to South Figaro?" she asked. He pulled away, and she knew she had inadvertantly spoiled the moment.
"Yes," he said, "We've got to hinder the Empire any way we can."
"You will.....you will come back, won't you?" Her eyes shined at him like two pricks of starlight.
"Of course, on one condition," his voice was jaunty now. "You must promise to come back safe and sound from your little trip down the River Lete."
"I promise," she said, filled suddenly with an impulse that she couldn't totally understand. Stepping forward, she raised her arms, wrapping them about his neck. Her eyes closed as she leaned towards him.
She felt his arms enfold her, felt his breath upon her face. And then, their lips were touching, moving swiftly and eagerly in a passionate kiss. She sighed happily, realizing this was better than anything she could have hoped for.
They might have stayed that way for as long as five minutes, isolated from anything in the world except each other. And as the embrace drew to a close, as they whispered each other's names one last time, Terra knew it was an experience she would never forget in her entire life.
My first kiss......
She opened her mouth, tried to speak to him about the powerful moment they had both shared, but he held up his hand.
"Please, Terra," he said, "Let's not talk about this now. Let's wait."
"Locke, I-" her eyes filled with tears, and suddenly she knew, she understood that this kiss meant nothing to him, that she was nothing but one more name on his list of conquests. It hurt more than anything imaginable. He looked at her, studied her face, and read the thoughts behind it.
"No, I don't mean it like that! It's just.... if we talk any more I'll never be able to get you out of my mind. I could put my whole mission at risk. I promise we'll get our feelings settled just as soon as this is over." He trailed off, smiling at her. "Please don't cry, Terra. Just give this a little time."
"All right," she whispered. "I'll wait."
But there had been no settling of feelings, no fulfillment of the promise he made to her on that starry night. After his return from South Figaro, there had been no time to talk before the battle at Narshe. Immediately afterwards, the esper Tritoch had linked with her and spurred her transformation and subsequent flight.
Locke had come after her. But during that journey, he and Celes had performed at the opera, made a special connection, and Locke became enamored of her. He never spoke to Terra of his feelings again.
Terra sighed. She couldn't feel resentment toward either Locke or Celes, they were both her friends. It was just that she couldn't rid herself of this longing. A longing for a man she loved. The only man she had ever loved. The only man she had ever kissed.
There had been General Leo, but her time with him was just too short. She hadn't gotten to know or understand him, and no sooner had she begun to open up to him than he was dead. One more victim of Kefka's bloodlust.
It seemed to her that there was only Locke, had only been Locke, would always be Locke. She was bound and determined to see him, to capture his heart or to crash and burn.
Celes, forgive me.....
She was nearing Locke's new dwelling now, a quaint little villa on the beach. The house was beautiful, even from the rear, surrounded by flowerbeds that exploded with color. Celes had obviously been working hard.
Just thinking her friend's name brought a hot rush to her cheeks, a distant pain to her heart. She was going to hurt Celes. She understood what the consequences of her actions today would be. She knew the price she would pay, the pain she would cause.
And she was going to see Locke anyway.
Terra paused for a minute or two, gazing distantly over the ocean and listening to the crash of surf on sand. She appeared otherworldy as she stood there, her hair blowing in the wind, her emerald eyes highlighted in the wan light of the setting sun. Anyone who looked at her would have thought she possessed perfect inner peace.
But that wasn't the case, was it? As she began to walk around the house to the front door, her inner voice hammered away at her:
What are you doing, Terra? Just what in the hell do you think you're doing? What are you going to say to him? "Hello, Locke, I hear you and Celes are having problems- want me to kiss you and make it better?" Do you want to kiss him, Terra? Do you? Do you? DO YOU?
"Leave me alone," she whispered urgently. "She took him from me, she took him, and I know he still loves me."
You're deluding yourself. If she "took" him, he sure didn't mind going along. Locke doesn't love you. He even brushed you off that night at the hideout. Give this up, stop before all three of you get hurt.
She neared the corner of the house. That's when she heard the giggling.
Turn around, Terra. Turn around and get the hell out of here.
She knew that was exactly what she should do. But she just couldn't. Crouching low, she crept to the corner of the house and peeked around.
She breathed in sharply when she saw them together. Locke and Celes, lying entwined on the beach, covered by nothing but a thin blanket. It was obvious to even someone as sexually naive as herself what was going on.
Whatever had happened, it was over now. But the two of them did not move apart. Terra knew this was wrong, knew she should leave, but she had to hear what was being said. Straining her ears, she listened.
"I'm sorry we fought," Celes whispered, holding Locke's face in her hands. "I could never stand to lose you, Locke. I love you."
He leaned in to kiss her lightly, then spoke endearing words to him. Words designed to please and comfort. They shattered Terra's soul like brittle glass.
"I love you, Celes Chere, forever and always, you and only you. Marry me."
"Yes." A simple statement that said so much, vast depths of emotion expressed in a single word.
The young woman who watched them tried her hardest to hold in the strangled sob that fought to escape her lungs, but only partially succeeded. In reality the squeak that emerged was very small, but in the still afternoon air it was amplified tenfold. There was a good chance that they had heard it.
But that didn't matter now, did it? For she was running, barreling away at top speed in a vain attempt to escape the pain that dogged her. It was as if her innermost emotions were being shredded, her delicate, virginal soul plunged into a vat of boiling grease. Tears poured from the corner of her eyes, but she bit her lip fiercely to hold back the sobs that would emerge. Warm, salty blood flowed down her chin as she ran, a red badge proclaiming her sin and her failure.
He loved Celes.
Surprisingly, she felt no hatred towards her friend, and only a hint of anger. Vaguely, she wished that she could allow herself to feel such things, if only for a moment. Surely, it would be a great release to scream her anger to the heavens, rant and rave and cry and hate them both.
They would be happy together, as fate had declared. They would live in daily bliss, filled with the confidence that each had found their soulmate. Meanwhile, she would pine away in her cottage at Mobliz, caring for the children in contentment but filled with a longing for her own true match, a man who would love and care for her as Locke had for that short time.
Terra allowed herself one last tear.
She had lost him.
But in time, perhaps, she would find another....
Drying her eyes, Terra set out across the countryside.
Locke Cole sighed, running his hands through Celes's elegant blond hair.
She smiled and responded, leaning forward for a kiss even as she wriggled her body suggestively against him. He shut his eyes.
He loved her. She was his world and his purpose, the last thing he thought of at night and the best incentive for waking up. When she had walked out on him this last time, it was a pain almost too severe to bear. The thought of living the rest of his life without her had been savagely real, more frightening than any of the perils they had faced in their adventure. But now she was back, and he was determined to never let her go again. He would ask her to marry him.
Their hands began to roam each others' bodies wildly, lust fueled by days of separation and abstinence. As he held Celes close, Locke tried to ward off the demons that swam into his mind.
Did he love her? He was afraid he knew the answer to that question. Once he had met the former imperial general, he had been for the most part free of tender feelings for Terra, or had at least been able to hide them away. But when Celes had left him, all the confused longings had returned.
As he had brooded alone in the house, he would suddenly find himself thinking about Terra. The way her skin was beautiful like porcelain but at the same time warm and soft and so very there. The way her hair smelled or her eyes caught the light. The way she had kissed him that night so long ago.....
A half dozen times he almost raced off to Mobliz to ravish her, but thankfully something had held him back until Celes had returned, and those troublesome thoughts were banished from his mind.
"Locke..." Celes whispered urgently beneath him. He flashed her a rougish grin.
Afterwards, as they lay there listening to the pounding surf and the cries of the gulls, he decided to ask the question. She raised her hands to cup his face, spoke sweet words of love to him, and he said:
"I love you, Celes Chere, forever and always, you and only you. Marry me."
Her answer had filled his heart with joy.
They both heard the sound from the corner of the house, but only Locke turned quickly enough to see the flash of green hair as Terra retreated. His heart constricted in its shell of bone, and he was filled with a simultaneous longing and sorrow that he could not quite understand.
"What was that?" Celes asked, alarmed. He could feel the rapid flutter of her heart.
At that moment, he saw two roads open to him. He could be up and dressed in a second, racing towards Terra. He could tell her that he still loved her and hold her in the light of the setting sun. He could be with the wild esper-woman who had ensnared his heart in the mines of Narshe.
Or, he could stay here with the woman who had sung for him, the woman who had saved them all in the Magitek Research Faciliy and had glued the shattered party back together in a quest to defeat Kefka.
Two roads, each leading to an equally worthy destination. Which path was he going to choose?
It took him only a second to make his decision. Did Celes see the tears that pricked his eyes? Did she catch a glimpse of the pain in his heart? He hoped not.
"It was nothing," he whispered. "Nothing at all."