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Nesting

“Barbershop day?” Sazh asks behind her, and she feels her mouth quirk up a little.

“Hope’s hair was getting long,” she explains, and Sazh says, like he always says, “Guess we’re all looking a little ragged.”



In which Hope is still a vampire, Sazh and Dajh see eye-to-eye, and Lightning cuts everyone's hair. Takes place about three years after the end of the game, and is chockfull of domesticity, because omg I love domesticity. D: Sidefic to the vampire!fic. You know, that one.



Nesting


Every couple of months, she cuts Hope’s hair.

She touches his face, right under his chin, and turns him this way and that.

“Your hair,” she says, “is getting pretty long.”

He shrugs as she turns his face to the right, then to the left again.

“This weekend,” she says, and he says, “okay.”

On Saturday, when the sun is high up in the morning sky, Hope drags a chair out the kitchen door, a beautiful thing with wood polished to the warm golden brown of honey. Lightning doesn’t know where Sazh found the chairs, or even the table; from a home in Cocoon, probably, smashed and scattered after the world fell apart.

Sazh had dragged the whole set in the day before she’d moved in with Hope; a chair for each of them, and a table to pull them together.

A family that eats together, her father had always said, and that night, Sazh had said, it’s big enough for all four of us--

Hope drags one of the chairs out to the grass, and it leans a little to the left, the legs sinking into the soft ground. He sits in the chair, his back to the house, and Lightning watches him from the kitchen window, running the water from the faucet until it’s warm.

She had watched Serah cut Snow’s hair years ago, just weeks after Cocoon had fallen; she’d watched the way Serah had dipped the comb into a bowl of water, then separate the hair section by section, combing out the tangles from the ends of Snow’s hair. Serah’s fingers had been slow, gentle, sure, and Lightning had watched, and listening, and thought, I can do this, too.

She fills a bowl full of warm water, and tucks it between her arm and her chest; the water sloshes a little, dampening the shirt right over her left breast. She slips the comb into her back pocket, and hooks a finger through a loop of the hair shears.

Hope had left the door open, and she blinks in the sunlight, shuffling across the grass.

“Bowl,” she says, and Hope turns to take the bowl, then straightens out in the chair again, staring ahead. She switches the shears and the comb, shoving the scissors loops first into her back pocket, and spreads her feet behind the chair.

She can feel her heels sinking into the ground, and the sun warming her skin. She leans over the back of the chair, and over Hope’s body, and dips the comb into the bowl, then pulls it out. Begins to comb through Hope’s hair, from the ends to the roots, combing out the tangles and snarls, her fingers bumping over the tiniest knots.

She’s not as careful as Serah, and not as slow, either; she can’t be, because Hope’s skin is already starting to burn, the skin around the collar of his shirt turning pink. She sections out his hair, cuts of a couple inches, and then evens it out all out; leans over to wet the comb again as his hair starts to dry unevenly, the ends fluffing like chocobo chick feathers.

When she leans close enough, she can feel his eyelashes on her cheek.

She tugs at his hair, checking the evenness of the ends that lay against his neck, and says, “I think we’re done.”

He moves then, his shoulders slumping as he sighs, sinking into the chair. Lightning leans a little into him, looping her arms lightly around his shoulders; it’s not much, she knows-- she’s not very affectionate, not very loving, so she gives this, as hard as it is to give. She presses the side of her face against his, and closes her eyes. His body is hot, like a tiny sun, and after a very little time, she opens her eyes, takes the bowl from his hands, and straightens up.

“You should take a nap,” she says, because his skin is a dry, painful-looking red. He’ll be blistering tonight, and his skin will peel by early tomorrow morning, fresh, raw skin that makes him hiss when it’s touched.

“Yeah,” he says, and he stands up from the chair with a slow, tired groan. He stretches his arms over his head, his back cracking, and his sleeves slide down his thin, white wrists. Three years after the fall, and he still looks like a little boy. “Are you gonna cut Sazh’s hair?”

“Might as well.” She sinks down into the chair, holding the bowl in her lap. “See if you can find Dajh, too.”

The slam of the kitchen’s storm door is metallic, and she tips her head back, turns until the tender spot beneath her ear is pressed against the edge of the chair’s back. The sun is beating down on her, heat and light sinking into her skin, and she closes her eyes, sighs long and heavy. The sigh feels like her body is collapsing beneath her, and she sighs again, longer and heavier. A collapse of her lungs, sinking down through her stomach, and she feels little smaller, a little lighter. She can feel sweat trickling down her face.

“Barbershop day?” Sazh asks behind her, and she feels her mouth quirk up a little.

“Hope’s hair was getting long,” she explains, and Sazh says, like he always says, “Guess we’re all looking a little ragged.”

She trims Dajh’s hair first, Sazh standing beside her, watching critically. The first time had been a disaster; Sazh had looked at Dajh afterwards, and his face had looked like he was trying to decide between laughing and bitching Lightning out. He’d said, Guess it’s a bit much, to expect you to know what to do with kinky hair. It’d stung, like all of Sazh’s bites have always stung, and she’d tightened her jaw, lifted her chin.

She’s better now, knows how short to trim Dajh’s hair, to fluff it out and check to see that it’s uniform on all sides. The curls kink around her fingers, knotting in her hands, and she wets her fingers in the bowl, plays with his hair a little. It’s soft, thick, and feels like the cotton stuffing that leaks from the hole in their old couch, only tighter.

“Better,” Sazh says when Lightning’s tapping Dajh’s jawline, telling him to tilt his head so she can check the left side.

“Glad you approve,” Lightning mutters, and she smiles at Dajh when Sazh laughs.

“Good enough,” they agree, and Lightning fluffs Dajh’s hair a little more. She wants to press her face into it, against the soft thickness of it, and feel the sunlight and summertime all around her; she wants to pick Dajh up and hug him, like she never has, and feel a little bit like a kid again. Things aren’t that simple, though, are never that simple, so she brushes the tight curls from Dajh’s shoulders.

Sazh pulls Dajh from the chair, tugging him a few feet away, then holding him still with his hands on Dajh’s shoulders. Sazh crouches a little, so his face is only a little higher than Dajh, and he looks at Dajh with the same critical eye, his mouth in a tight line.

Lightning leans on the chair and, with the shears dangling from her little finger, she watches. Dajh’s shoulders are stiff and pushed back, and Dajh is holding so still, Lightning can see his body quivering with effort. She can’t help but smile, and she has to look away for a moment so she doesn’t laugh and break the moment.

“Handsome man,” Sazh finally says, his voice gruff, and he claps a hand on Dajh’s shoulder. Dajh says something that Lightning can’t hear, and when she looks back, she sees the tail-end of a fond smile on Sazh’s face. She doesn’t feel like laughing anymore; now she feels like an intruder, like she’s seeing something she’s not supposed to see.

“Quite the handsome man,” Sazh repeats, and he pulls Dajh forward for a tight, brief hug. He pushes Dajh back the tiniest fraction, and says something that Lightning can’t really hear, that sounds like, just like your granddaddy.

The weight of dead parents and grandparents must not weigh heavily on children, though, because Dajh is running off before Sazh has even finished telling him not to go past the field, or someone have mercy on Dajh’s soul, Sazh will tan that hide. Lightning’s sure that Dajh is going to be past the field in five minutes flat, and if Sazh’s rueful smile means anything, Sazh must be laying the same bets.

“He looks like his granddad,” Sazh says, and he’s throwing himself into the chair with a tired sigh. “On his mom’s side, not mine. Good man, he was.” He tilts his head back far enough to see Lightning’s face, and he asks, “Did you know your grandparents?”

“One,” Lightning says, and she has to look away and lick her lips. “My grandmother, on my mother’s side. She died a few months after my parents--” She licks her lips again, then says, “I thought Dajh looked like you.”

“Me?” Sazh laughs, and Lightning can see his hands, bunching up in the fabric of his trousers. “No, not really. He really looks like her side of the family.”

“Oh.” It’s lame, stilted and dumb, and Lightning has to wipe her palms against her skirt. “Did you--”

“All off,” Sazh interrupts, and he’s shifting around so he’s sitting up straight in the chair, his face turned towards the field where Dajh is supposed to stay. “Summer’s gonna be hot.”

They don’t have clippers, and Lightning would probably just knick his head all over if she tried to use a razor, so she cuts his hair all off with the shears, painstakingly slow. Chunks of hair cling to her fingers, to the folds of her hands, and she has to wipe her hands off on her skirt again and again, trying to get all the hair to fall to the ground. It tickles her, her palms and wrists and thighs, beneath the edge of her skirt.

When the hair is chopped close to his skull, she leans in close and uses the short nails of her thumb and middle finger to grab little clumps of hair, pull them straight, and cut them shorter. Closer and closer to the scalp, and she says, as she cuts, “you’re going grey.”

“Am I?”

“Yeah.” She can see it now, with his hair cut down to the scalp; the roots are scattered with grey, at the temples and in a bridge across the crown of his head. She traces the grey as she cuts his hair, and she ends on a whorl on the left side of his head, just above and behind his ear.

“Done,” she says, and she wipes the shears against the back of her skirt. She doesn’t brush off his shoulders, and he doesn’t look at her. He leans forward, scruffing his head like he would a dog, then claps his hands together. A few curls of hair float down, scattering on the grass.

“Thanks,” he says, and she says, “yeah, of course.”

When he stands up, she steps back from the chair, and she can feel the cool metal of the shears pressed against the skin of her thigh. She moves her hand, just a little, and the metal slides smoothly up her thigh; it makes her shiver, and she looks away, far across the field.

Sazh doesn’t say anything else, just stands up and grabs the chair, carrying it back into the house. He leaves the bowl of water on the grass where he dropped it, and it’s tilted to one side, water dripping down the curved surface.

He’d offered to cut her hair once; had asked her, do you want me to? She had, she’d said, and he’d cut her hair for her, cutting it straight across the back, just below her shoulders. His fingers had made her shiver, and when the edge of the shears had brushed against the back of her neck, she’d felt something inside her turn cold and awkward and wanting.

Cold and awkward and wanting, and he must’ve seen it, because he never asked again; never stayed after she finished cutting his hair, never asked her to sit and bare her neck.

She cuts her hair by herself instead. She bends at the waist and flips her hair over her head, so it’s dangling down, pulled loose gravity. She bunches her hair in one hand, and holds the shears in her other hand, and cuts it fast and careless, clumps of her hair falling to her feet. The loose curls never really fall even anyway, and she cuts off inches and inches, then she flips her hair back, shaking it back over her shoulders. Good enough, more than enough; she’ll trim her bangs in the bathroom tonight, standing in front of the mirror, frowning and wondering if she can make her hair look like Serah’s.

She drags a hand through her hair, then goes to pick up the bowl; tosses the water out on the grass, a few feet past the clippings of hair. She drops the shears into the bowl, and goes back to the house. The storm door slams metallically, and she leaves the bowl and shears on beautiful, honey-brown table.

Hours later, when the sun is angling in through the kitchen window, she stands at the sink. There are birds in the grass, picking at the clippings of hair. There’s something pretty about it, and painful and strange; something a little bit sad. She watches the birds for a long time, holding an empty glass in her hands, her fingers damp and cold. She watches the birds for a long time, and when there is the tickle of hair on her face, she wipes it away with the back of her hand.

Date: 2011-04-22 01:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hiza-chan.livejournal.com
ahslf;fah;fg THIS MADE MY DAY, I LOVE YOU. ♥

Date: 2011-04-22 04:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] midnightdiddle.livejournal.com
♥ Thank you! :D I'm glad you liked it~

(randomly, do you like Kurogane/Fai?)

Date: 2011-04-22 04:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hiza-chan.livejournal.com
I do~ ♥ I haven't read it or technically even finished the rest of Tsubasa, but it remains close to my heart. Always. ♥

Date: 2011-04-22 06:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] midnightdiddle.livejournal.com
I see, I see... I admit, I'm writing a college/grad school AU that's Kurogane/Fai, mostly because I adore Fai and adore him in terrible, painful situations, and right now, I can't imagine anything more painful than grad school, but that is just. Me. Me on a huge Kurogane/Fai kick. :D

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Date: 2016-09-04 07:40 am (UTC)
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