“We’ve been doing this for months now. I’m pretty sure I’m handling it.”
The Warrior of Light was, yet again, about to sally forth into the unknown—however, they were stopped by Y’shtola.
The pale haired Miqo’te narrowed her eyes and the Warrior got the distinct impression she was searching their aether. “...How curious.”
Alarmed, the Warrior dropped their travel bag and walked over to her. “What? Did you sense something? Is it another attack?! I swear to the gods, if Zenos didn’t keep his word, I’ll fucking—!”
Y’shtola chuckled. “My word, Warrior, you two are awfully familiar.”
The Warrior froze and then she continued, consoling them. “Fret not, my friend. I wasn’t referring to any danger. I was merely astounded by how obviously you avoided my question.”
The Warrior sighed heavily. “You can’t just scare me like that, Shtola.”
The Scion hummed. “Likewise.”
Frowning, the Warrior asked coldly, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Undaunted, Y’shtola continued. “You have been haunting these halls like a ghost ever since our return from the First, up until two months ago. And now, when I ask you if you are feeling much improved, you tell me you are ‘handling it’ with someone.”
Sharp yet vacant eyes seemed to stare straight through the Warrior, binding up their insides at the mild disapproval they found there.
Suddenly nervous, the Warrior muttered, “Because I am handling it, Y’shtola. Zenos and I go off and try to kill each other for a bit and then everything goes back to normal: no Garlean invasions, no sudden world-ending Primals and none of you suddenly dropping dead in the middle of a meeting—“
Their jaw snapped shut. Shit, shit, fuck, fuck, I’m fine, it’s fine, they’re fine, Zenos is— “I have to go. I have to make sure he’s—”
The Warrior backed up with jerking steps towards the door out to Seventh Heaven but was stopped by a gentle hand on their shoulder.
“ Please .” Y’shtola’s face was pained. The Warrior twitched but remained still, like an anxious animal.
“I am sorry,” she said.
“Wait, what the—for what?!” The Warrior looked about half as shocked as they felt. “Why are you...?”
Y’shtola, satisfied the Warrior would stay put, removed her hand and stepped back. She bowed her head. “I would be lying if I said I understood what you have been through, all on your own, as a Warrior of Light... as The Warrior of Light and Darkness.”
The Warrior shrugged, glancing away. “Uh, thanks, I guess? I... I really appreciate the sentiment. I’m just... Look, I know that, logically, nothing we went through is any of our faults but...”
When they tapered off, Y’shtola motioned for them to continue, remaining silent.
“But... I...” They started fidgeting again, becoming agitated. “I hate that Hades knew I... that I couldn’t...” They started breathing faster, trembling uncontrollably.
Y’shtola clenched her hands into fists. “What did he think you couldn’t you do, Warrior?”
The Warrior stilled and their voice was hollow and cold. “He knew I would do anything to save you. That I would become a monster just to keep you all safe... And then that useless old man made me fucking kill him.”
Their tired, empty eyes snapped up to Y’shtola’s unseeing gaze, their aether coiling dangerously. “That other soul inside of me... They used him, too, by holding his friends lives against him... his world against him.”
“...you speak of the Ascians and your fellow Warrior. You speak of Ardbert.”
“They’ll pay for what they did to him.” the Warrior had a smile in their voice; it sent a chill down Y’shtola’s spine. “I’ll hunt down every last one that dares to snap at my heels again—“
“I am so sorry.”
Snapped out of their fugue, the Warrior paused. “What are you sorry for this time?”
“I am sorry I had to leave that battle to you.” Her eyes were fierce when they went to the general area of the Warrior’s face. “I would have liked to thoroughly punish the ones who made you hurt like this.”
They were silent for a moment: Y’shtola fuming while the Warrior looked thoughtful.
Suddenly, the Warrior barked out a laugh. “Thanks, Shtola.”
Blinking in surprise, the Sharlayan cocked her head. “It seems the shoe is on the other foot: for what reason are you thanking me?”
The Warrior shrugged. “I guess... I just never talked about it. I just feel so helpless when I think about the First and... everything... So I really appreciate you listening without... going all ‘Thancred’ on me.”
She chuckled. “That bad, is he?”
“Ugh, he’s like the step-dad I never wanted somehow wrapped in a trashy best friend.”
Y’shtola actually let out a small laugh. “He means well.” She grew serious again. “He is worried for you. We all our, but he is exceptionally bad at asking after your well-being without... hmm... how to phrase it delicately?”
“Without fucking interrogating me?”
“...I was going to say he ‘lacks delicacy’ but your less-than-delicate description is far more fitting.”
They shared a laugh as, somewhere in Eorzea, a white-haired Gunbreaker let out a tremendous sneeze.
Composing herself, Y’shtola took in a sly expression. “Before I send you on your way, I must beg the question: you and Zenos, is it?”
The Warrior snorted, grateful the Scion may not be able to detect their blush with her altered eyes. “He’s... a distraction. I feel so awake when I’m with him.”
They looked at their scarred and calloused hands and thought of ones twice their size and steady around the grip of his Doman blades. “We keep each other sharp.”
Y’shtola stared at the Warrior for a moment before nodding. Then, she seemed to think of something and stepped forward. “If I could make one small request, Warrior?”
“Oh, uh, sure. Never took you for the ‘fetch quest’ type,” they snickered. “But really, what do you need?”
She reached out and clasped both her hands around the Warrior’s, staring unerringly into their eyes. “Please, don’t forget: you’re more than a weapon, my friend. To all of us.”
The silence that followed was quickly interrupted by small hiccups that Y’shtola politely ignored. After a few minutes of shaking, she was still a little surprised to be wrapped up in those god-slaying arms.
“Oh gods... Noooo...”
Y’shtola frowned at the sniffled voice. “What is it?”
“.... I have to apologize to Thancred for almost cutting him in half when he tried this exact conversation on me, don’t I?”
Patting the Warrior on the back a little awkwardly, she snickered. “I doubt he would accept. Even he is aware of his... rather abrasive tone.”
Stepping back, the Warrior totally didn’t wipe their eyes, it was just super dusty in the Rising Stones. “Alright, I better go make sure Zenos hasn’t made another species extinct from boredom again.”
“A wise decision. And Warrior?”
Halfway out the door, the Warrior paused. “Yeah?”
Y’shtola’s eyes flashed dangerously. “Do make sure the new Emperor is aware that killing the unkillable is something of a hobby for you now. In case he starts to act like that Little Sun boy.”
At that, the Warrior of Light and Darkness, Savior of Two Worlds, promptly tripped up the stairs.