Fiora had supported Shulk’s feelings and wants in regards to becoming half-Machina. He was one of the most important people in the world to her, how could she not? That didn’t mean she could handle looking at him, though.
Especially not seeing as how it had come about. The panic on Egil’s face when he explained what he was doing, the way his voice had cracked…
Seeing Shulk like this was hard, but the idea of losing him was harder.
So she smiled, pushed the thoughts of her own metallic body to the back of her mind. Egil had been more careful than he and Vanea had been with the Face Pilots, surely. There had been a good ten years to perfect it (not that Egil likely looked at the blueprints most of that time, but she pushed that thought to the back of her head), so Shulk was surely in less pain than she had been, right?
That’s what she had to tell herself, in order to be able to look him in the eye. In order to pull him along by his cold, metallic hand.
But sometimes, that reasoning would fall apart around her.
Shulk was talking with Dunban, a nice and normal visit for the pair of siblings, when things suddenly went very wrong. The sound of a body hitting the floor, Dunban calling out in worry, the clatter of the ladle hitting the ground as she ran to them… Shulk laying on the group grasping his chest in pain.
“Shulk!” She fell to her knees, pulling him onto her lap. “What’s wrong? Should I get Sharla? Linada?”
“He just felt, grasping his chest.” Dunban frowned. “I’ll be back with the two of them, keep an eye on him.”
And with that, he was out the door, leaving Fiora alone with her best friend. She pushed back his bangs, her hands shaking as she did so. He was breathing heavily, and there were tears in his eyes. He looked to be in as much pain as when the Monado had started to reject him.
“It’s gonna be okay, Shulk.” She forced her voice to be steady. “We’ll get Sharla and Linada and it’ll be fine.”
“I’m already fine…” His voice was strained as he finally spoke, breathing heavily. “This is just… a side effect. Egil said… it should stop in a few months, when I… get used to the body.”
“That doesn’t mean it’s fine!” Fiora frowned down at him. “Do you like being in pain?”
“Does anyone who’s seen one of these episodes seem to like it?”
“No…” He groaned, still ripping at his chest. “Usually Egil makes it stop without too much trouble, if he puts enough pressure on it.”
“I see…” Fiora laid his head on the ground and moved to kneel on his chest. “Then I’ll try that myself! Just tell me if it starts to hurt more than help!”
“Fiora…” Shulk sighed a bit as she put more pressure onto his chest with her knees. “It’s not as precise as Egil can get with his hand, but… it’s helping, thank you.”
“No problem.” She gave a soft smile. “You guys all helped me so much, when my body was hurting and failing. The least I can do is help any of you, better yet I can help you in ways I’m sure you would have for me, if I needed it.”
“I don’t know if I would have ever knelt on your chest, maybe Melia…” Shulk laughed a bit. “But… I think I understand where you’re coming from.”
“You don’t have to be so exact, Shulk.” She stuck out her tongue as she repositioned himself on his chest. “You risked yourself to save me, and did so much more. What I’m doing is small beans compared to that!”
“Don’t say that.” He frowned at her. “Every bit of help from you or anyone else makes my heart soar!”
“I… I suppose, but… Still…” Fiora frowned. “I have to make up. For all the times looking at you has given me a scare.”
“Fiora…” Shulk frowned up at her. “Is it because of how your body used to be?”
She nodded, feeling a bit numb as she admitted to it. “I just remember my pain and difficulty. The fear of my body giving out at any moment, the feeling that without Meyneth it would be even sooner… When I look at you, that’s what I remember.”
“Fiora. I’m sorry, seeing me must be hard.”
“It is, I’m always so afraid you’ll feel that, too. But Egil had to do it to save you… and…” Tears were starting to spill, even as she tried to fight them back. “You said you didn’t want to use the regeneration chamber, and I get it! You want to have longer with Egil, and I would never want to take that from you. My heart just aches looking at you, I…”
“Oh, Fiora…” He sat up, knocking her onto the ground, before pulling her into a hug. “I’ve been a bad friend, haven’t I?”
Tears really started to fall then, as she clung to him. “Don’t say that! You aren’t a bad friend! Things are just… a little hard right now.” She buried her face into his chest. “Just promise me things are gonna be okay.”
“Don’t worry…” He ran a hand through her hair. “It’ll be fine. With some time, we’re all going to be fine and it’ll be like nothing changed.”
“Besides you being extremely blue now…” Fiora was able to give a little laugh. “And Reyn won’t be able to send you tumbling with a slap on the back.”
“So the changes are for the better, at least.” Shulk stuck out his tongue. “At least the Reyn thing…”
She giggled a bit, pulling away from the hug. “Reyn might disagree with that!”
“Well, he’ll get used to it!” Shulk laughed. “Besides, don’t you think it’d be pretty funny to see him slap my back and realize his mistake?”
“Hmmm…. Good point.”
The door opened then, and in came Dunban, followed by Sharla and Linada. Ah, that was right… Fiora had almost forgotten about that.
“Shulk! You seem to be doing better.” Dunban let out a thankful sigh, hand over his chest. “Thank the Bionis!”
“That’s good, but…” Linada walked over, pulling Shulk to his feet. “I think we’ll still give you a look over.”
“I agree, it’s for the best.” Sharla nodded, hand on her hip. “We don’t want this to happen again.”
“N-no, it’s fine!” Shulk shook his head. “It’s just a side-effect of the new body. Give it a few months and it should be fine.”
“Yeah… Not buying that.” Sharla shook her head. “Are you, Linada?”
“Not at all…” She started pushing him towards the door. “Come on, then. Let’s go.”
“But… Fiora!” He turned to her. “Tell them it’s a side effect! Come on, you know!”
“Hmmm, I think a check up could do you good!” She stuck her tongue out at him. “Sorry!”