RFA TRIES PROMPT 1 AND GETS CARRIED AWAY
1. a Bachelor type show where Hope is the Bachelor and Lightning is a contestant because Serah/Fang convinced her to do it and the rest is history!
RFA: I’m going to be a bit creative with this and try the Chinese If You Are the One format where there are 1 bachelor and 24 female contestants. The bachelor introduces himself in sections as the women deliberate over him and choose to keep their lights on (maintain interest) or turn them off (reject him). He gets to choose from the women who remain after the final round.
>Lightning: be bored.
“Why did you reject contestant number 3, Miss Farron?” The host asks, all smiles on his face and gesturing with his mic, no doubt hoping for another controversial comment from her.
“He won’t last two seconds against a proto behemoth,” she responds, rolling her eyes at the camera because she knows everyone is watching at home, “I’d sooner not have that kind of burden in my life.”
A few gasps in the crowd. The man looks just the right amount of wounded. She shifts her weight impatiently at her stand, glimpsing a sign in the crowd - does it say something along the lines of GO LIGHTNING FARRON, THE ICE QUEEN OF MY HEART? She won’t be surprised. Her crudeness has made her surprisingly popular, and Serah gushes constantly about the amount of fanmail she receives (and reads) on the behalf of her sister. Lightning doesn’t have the time for that kind of thing. Lightning would sooner not be here at all. Lightning’s only here because she lost a bet to Fang and she was getting a bit tired of Snow and Serah pestering her about her single status like five times every day.
I’m pretty sure the kind of man I’m interested in won’t be into these kinds of shows anyway, she thinks to herself, sullen, as the rejected man bows to the women and walks off the stage. I know I hate these kinds of things. It’s people like Serah and Vanille who worship them like religion.
“Let’s welcome our next contestant! Mr. Estheim, director of Academy Research, team alpha. 24. Born and raised in Palumpolum.”
Oh no, another boring one, she groans internally, balancing her weight awkwardly in her flowing rose dress. She hates wearing dresses for these shows, too. If only -
“Wait, is this the Hope Estheim?”
“Wasn’t he rumored to be in a relationship with the daughter of the Primarch?”
Lightning perks up ever so slightly. So he’s famous.
“Thank you for the introduction, Mr. Meng,” the man responds politely after the crowd has died down - his voice is strangely familiar somehow - and when he performs the customary preliminary scan of all the female contestants, Lightning notices that his gaze lingers on her for a second more than everyone else. Long enough for me to notice, but not anyone else. And he knows I only noticed because I’ve been trained in the Corps with minute reactions and quick assessments.
What has been his eye color? Green? Serah used to tease her about green-eyed boys when they were younger. Not that she hasn’t passed up plenty of them on this show.
“Let’s see the first segment,” the host announces, and Hope Estheim settles comfortably into his chair, seemingly completely unfazed by the stage. A few contestants have already declared for him.
The figure of the silver-haired man glides onto the screen, surrounded by a line of scientists and marching machines.
“I am a scientist. I have been fascinated by machinery and the inner workings of the world since a very young age, and I find it awarding to improve people’s lives through inventing new tools, structures, and ways of thinking. I was behind the overhaul of Eden’s transport system and also oversaw the construction of the new Academy headquarters.”
Respectable, Lightning muses, remembering the terrible traffic jams that used to plague Eden. But still boring.
“Lately I’ve been working on a prototype for a brand new Guardian Corps gunblade.” All eyes zoom to her, including the stage lights; she blinks, turns to Hope Estheim - and sees him sitting as calmly as ever in his seat, although there’s a mischievous glint in his eyes. “Automatic target selection, the highest grades of precision and accuracy, as well as being foolproof - it will allow someone as inexperienced as me to match a veteran like Contestant Farron.”
“Well, Mr. Estheim,” the host takes his cue on a silver platter and turns to Estheim, “This is certainly a new development. Will we get to see you make a case for your claim, here on our show?”
She smashes her light. Estheim’s smug confidence is ticking her off. Who is he to challenge her? Plenty of men have thought themselves capable of taking her down a notch, put her into her place. This of all places is not where she’ll back down. “No one can beat me,” she hisses, “scientific cheats or no.”
“I do not speak of beat,” Estheim corrects, and suddenly his face is so soft that it catches her off guard, “I speak of match. But yes, sir, I would like to demonstrate the effectiveness of my invention. I have brought my prototype with me to the show today.”
The host smiles. “And we have brought you your gunblade, Miss Farron, just for this special occasion.”
She grits her teeth as she walks forward. Estheim doesn’t look like a marksman - he’s too lean, too polished, too pretty along the edges. She wonders if he’s ever seen real battle, felt anyone’s soul depart from under his hands. He’s always had it easy. One real obstacle and he will crumble. She raises her arm to aim, almost tempted to shoot the pillar next to him so as to get that stupid smile off of his face.
He isn’t smiling. His face is somber instead as he raises an opposing arm, a strength in his eyes that makes her blink in surprise. He knows, she realizes, and he’s practiced with this, too. “I lost my mother when I was fourteen,” he says evenly, to her and to her alone. “I’ve been looking for things worth protecting.”
She shoots to get the significance of his words out of her head. He shoots right after her.
The crowd is silent. She doesn’t look up. For the first time in her life, she’s afraid of having been defeated.
“Two 9.9s,” the host announces, and there’s something resembling victory in the elderly man’s eyes. Ah, yes, the ratings. “A perfect match.”
She can feel Estheim’s gaze on her. She’s failed her shot - she usually scores above a 10.5 - and she knows he’s capable of more than that, a 11 if he wanted. Perhaps a 11 even if he’s shooting with a normal gunblade. But he’s pulled back, chosen to match her instead. Why?
“I quit this show,” she blurts out, sheathing her blade and walking off the stage. In the shock that follows, no one chases after her.
“You were too harsh on Hope Estheim,” Serah admonishes, shoving a plate of fruit into her face. “It’s dead obvious that he’s head over heels over you.”
“Well, I don’t care,” she spits, crossing her arms together behind her back. It’s not completely true. She’d caught a glimpse of his face as she walked off and there had been a deep sadness there, a loneliness that hurt her where no previous male contestant had hurt her before. “He can sleep with his pile of guns and machines.”
The doorbell rings.
“You don’t have to - ah.” Serah’s annoyed voice suddenly stops as she answers the door. “Come in, please.”
She closes her eyes and hopes she can just take a quick nap.
“Miss Farron?” That voice speaks up behind her and she jumps, unsheathing the gunblade in under a second and pointing the tip of it at his nose. Hope Estheim is standing in front of her in the flesh, sweat on his brow and dark circles under his eyes, and he’s holding a huge package. “I, uh, wanted to apologize. I’m so sorry for what I did to you the other day. But I wanted you to have this.”
She stares at him as if he’s crazy. “What?” Serah has apparently already fled the scene. Damn those meddling younger sisters. “Why - ”
“A gunblade,” he says quietly, still catching his breath. “Fresh from the lab. But it’s not a prototype anymore. I’ve added a few more things, to take into consideration how your movements change when you’re anxious. But I just want you to have it. Because I don’t want you to get hurt anymore protecting children from monsters.”
She studies him. This time, he looks almost like a child, simply wanting to please. There’s an idealism in his eyes that she wants to punch out even as she wants to hold it in her raw palms. “That injury never happened.”
Frustration enters his face now exactly where she thought it would. “But - ”
“Thank you,” she says, and extends a hand out. He stares at her for a long time before taking it. “And my apologies to you, too. Let’s go find a shooting range.”