Welp, this is awkward
I was seated on the same bed as Serah, who was glancing away silently.
Her expression was deadpan, but that was simply a front.
I was sure she simply didnt want to express how curious she was concerning my visit.
Still, the silence was unsettling, so I decided to speak first.
You couldnt sleep too why?
A sharp gaze came from her the very instant I asked, causing me to shiver slightly.
A-ah, sorry about that I murmured.
Even though I managed to beat Serah that one time, it wasnt like I was superior to her in power.
It was all because of planning.
I dont think I can replicate that situation right now
Besides, it wasnt my intention to have that kind of relationship with Serah.
My goal was to become closer to the woman, securing for myself a dependable ally.
But, to do that, I needed her to realize my worth in a way that would also diminish hers.
Most times, friendships are made when two parties have something of somewhat equal value.
The exchange is subtle, but it exists nonetheless.
But, no matter what I tried, there was seemingly nothing of value she could obtain from me.
If I made it glaring that I wanted an exchange, it would cease to become a friendship.
That was why I had to resort to beating her alongside the Beast Kingthough there were other reasons.
That was the carrot, though.
Time to give the stick.
Serah are you mad at me?
What? Why would I be? The red-haired woman gave a quizzical expression.
She wasnt exactly mad, but she simply couldnt come to terms with her weakness.
That meant Serahs annoyance was directed at herself.
That makes things easier.
I dont know.
It may have to do with the fact that I was too hard on you and Gerard.
Im sure by now you must have an apprehension of me.
The whole episode with Gerards family was seen by everyone.
While I was being efficient in my dealing, my lack of empathy towards the other party made me appear somewhat cold.
You did what you had to do.
I understand that perfectly.
The woman sighed.
I found myself grateful for having such an understanding woman.
It turned out that she really held nothing against me.
Then why are you like this? Why cant you sleep?
Why should I tell you that? Serah eyed me.
Despite her free-spirited personality, it seemed she still drew a close boundary between those she considered friends and those she didnt.
There really isnt a reason.
Then, if its alright is it fine if I tell you why I cant sleep? I smiled warmly at her.
Hmph! Do what you want.
Her gaze returned to the night being displayed through her window.
I feel pressured, Serah
My words, and the tone which I used to express them, got my targets attention.
This whole expedition its been taking a toll on me.
Any mistake I make could cost me the future of our Race.
And if I make a single error, I could lose my life.
I wasnt lying at this point.
While it was well within my plans to express a vulnerable side of myself to garner Serahs attention, I wasnt faking it.
It could be considered selfish, but I dont want to die.
Everything Ive done so far may seem like its for the Kingdoms benefit, but its just to satisfy my selfishness.
Serah simply watched me in silenceher gaze was already showing hints of surprise and affection.
Ive been getting more sleepless nights as the pressure builds.
I think to myself Will I die today? or Is it tomorrow that Ill draw my last breath? Either way the uncertain future keeps me thinking every time.
I returned my gaze to her and gave a tired smile.
Its pathetic, right? But thats whats keeping me awake.
For a moment, no one spoke.
We didnt even blink.
Our gazes were simply locked for an indefinite period.
Well, I think I feel much better telling that to someone.
I should be on my way.
Rising from the bed, I made my way to the door.
My target picked up the bait.
She tightly grabbed my hand, and then softly released it in hesitation.
Her gaze lacked focus, and I could tell that she was still conflicted about her next course of action.
Youre strong, Jared why are you so worried about survival? Her lips parted and she murmured.
I think I understand more about you now, Serah.
A thought trailed in my mind as I gave a sad expression.
Many believe that the powerful have nothing to concern themselves with.
But, we are actually the most miserable.
We suffer more than the weak.
Neron battled boredom daily.
Serah was the same.
It was easy to get lost in ones power that the very definition of existence became blurred.
That was the dangerous aspect of absolute strength.
I just want to reach the furthest heights and deepest depths.
But, at this point, Im worried that once I get there, all Ill find is solitude.
Alphonses words still echoed in my heart, even now, but I wondered how long they would restrain me.
Eventually will I really be able to rely on anyone?
The summit that I dreamed of reaching just how many people were capable of getting there?
Ultimately, I would have to leave everything and everyone I cherished to attain those heights.
Arent you suffering too, Serah? Dont you feel a void within you? Youre strong, so you understand as well.
Tell me what do you use to fill that emptiness that lurks within?
We locked eyes once more, but this time Serahs expression was different.
Something bright swelled within.
Ah, I see.
I understand what you mean.
She murmured looking at me with a smile.
For the first time, it was a genuine expression of warmth.
The answer is simple, Jared.
Its how I cope with everything.
This power I have attained, the reputation I have built everything seems hollow without the mold that holds everything together.
What could it be? I stared hard at Serah for an answer.
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