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Alvis knew things that Fiora didn’t.

Wielding the Monado was a concentrated effort for her, an act that drained her of everything that she had. Focus, vigor, willpower — every ounce of ability within her lithe body and rattled mind was funneled into the mythical blade every time she lifted it above her head. She didn’t consider herself a particularly adept swordswoman — her knives were more her forte, picked for their ease of use and how their light weight adapted well to her naturally poor composition — and the Monado itself did the bulk of the work for her with its awe-inspiring feats, with the rest of it left to the Bionis’ blessing and her tendency to swing wildly until her target stopped moving.

Alvis took to the Monado effortlessly. No feedback or arcs of Ether current destroying his body from the inside out, no frenzied swings and desperate cycles through the Monado’s different Arts to find a way out of the conflict he had engaged with. He even smiled as he disabled the Telethia’s sixth sense and dismembered them by the azure halo of his weapon’s blade.

His weapon, she noted. The Monado officially belonged to Fiora or so Dunban had said: he had given her his blessings up on the mountainside the evening before. So why, then, was Alvis already showcasing that he was far more worthy to use it than she was?

He even darted just out of the way of the Telethia’s attacks after disabling them — almost as if he could see the future, read their movements before they even happened.

Fiora wasn’t special after all.

All of this in an instant as he offered the handle out to her, eyes fixated on the bursts of blue that ran up and down the Monado’s veins. Fiora let her jaw hang open before she looked up at Alvis and blurred out, “Why are you giving it back to me...?”

Alvis quirked a brow, though his serene expression took a turn for the smug as his lips tightened up at the corners. “What do you mean, Fiora?”

“You’re—... well, aren’t you better at it than me? Wouldn’t you better be suited to wield the Monado?”

He scoffed through his nose. “Well, if you’re offering it to me and wish to discard it, then I would have no reservations about—“

”No,” Fiora interjected as she reached out to take the handle and squeezed, pulling the Monado out of the stranger’s grip. The familiar buzz of Ether in her bloodstream crept up her arm, and the blade’s tip fell so that it embedded in the ground. “I... I need it. If I don’t have it then I’m useless, I can’t stop the Mechon. I just... I want to know how you can use it, and why you’re giving it back to me if you know it that well.”

Alvis hesitated before shutting his eyes and smiling. He acted as if he were so in control of it all, so composed. Fiora missed that sense of peace. “It isn’t my decision. The Monado has chosen you as its heiress, and not myself. You must choose it as well.” Alvis gestured to the weapon with a now-empty hand. “My ability to utilize it to its full potential is simply a matter of willpower.”

He looked up at her. “Are you willful, Fiora?”

Fiora stared down at the Monado, and decided that she was. She lifted it and hoisted it back on her back.

When Reyn found her, Alvis was nowhere to be found. “C’mon,” Reyn directed with a quick tilt of his head. “Gonna meet up wit’ da rest of ‘em back at our li’l camp. Better come quick, don’t wanna leave yer’ imaginary boyfriend waitin’, yeah...?” He spoke with a goofy grin, enthralled with his own joke and the charm necessary to make it work.

Fiora wished that Alvis was merely imaginary. If he was, she would have nothing to worry about.