Why didn't I keep writing for Final Fantasy XV
? I wrote a couple of fics there and went 'yes
, this fandom's so alive, there's an AO3 audience of thousands, it feels great, TIME TO PLUNGE INTO YET ANOTHER DYING FANDOM.'
In fairness, Oxenfree
does contain a lot of themes I find really hard to resist. Time shenanigans, sibling relationships, strangers bonding under intense pressure. Sibling relationships between strangers who bond under intense pressure! That's not a combination you get to see often. I was doomed from the start.Title:
A Thousand First ImpressionsFandom: OxenfreeRating:
Spoilers for the entire game. Jonas meets his stepsister for the first time.
Jonas really doesn’t know what to expect from his new stepsister. A hostile, awkward beach party doesn’t seem like the best place to get to know each other. And then the night turns into a horrifying struggle with ghosts, which, frankly, seems like it’s probably going to be worse.
When the dust’s settled, though, when they’re on the ferry back home... well. He’s bringing a lot of psychological trauma back with him. But he’s also bringing a sister.
Their first meeting could have gone better
, yeah. But something has been forged between them, in the midst of all the mortal danger. Not long ago, he wouldn’t have been able to imagine getting a new sister out of the blue. Now, after one intense night trying to survive together, he can barely imagine life without her.
He wouldn’t want to go back and do things differently, not really.
Of course, he wouldn’t want to go back at all.###
Jonas’s new stepsister really doesn’t want him to check out the cool caves, apparently.
“Can’t we just go back to the beach?” she asks, pleadingly. “Have a nice night?”
He raises his eyebrows. “With Clarissa?”
“Have an adequate night? Have a night where we don’t probably die in a rockfall or something? I really
don’t think those caves look safe.”
“You know, you’re less adventurous than I’d expected from someone with blue hair.”
She doesn’t go for the bait. “Yeah, I’m full of surprises.”
“You don’t have to come with me.”
“Oh, so I’m the one who has to explain to your dad that you got trapped in a cave-in? I don’t think so.”
Jonas groans. “Fine
. I guess I’m spending the rest of my night around a load of strangers who hate each other.”
“Yep,” Alex says. “It’s going to suck. But I swear it’ll be better than anything that could happen in there.”
They hop back over the fence. Jonas is pretty sure he’s not going to enjoy himself; he’s already mentally making plans to sneak back to the caves when Alex isn’t looking. But actually... Alex seems to be in a way better mood, now. And it spreads out to the others, makes everyone seem a little less on edge. Jonas gets into a long conversation with Nona. It’s not too bad, even if Ren keeps shooting him glares.
Alex sits up very straight, suddenly.
“Shit,” she says. Her voice sounds... strange, somehow. Distorted. “We’re looping early.”
Jonas frowns. “What—”###
Jonas’s new stepsister doesn’t really seem the sociable type. She doesn’t jump into conversations; she answers direct questions like someone’s rationed her syllables; she seems to be off in her own head most of the time. She definitely doesn’t seem to be looking forward to this island thing, despite Ren’s efforts to psych her up for it.
“Hey,” Jonas says to her, quietly. “If you’re not feeling this, we could just turn around and go home.”
“What?” Ren asks. “No, you can’t. You absolutely cannot.”
“We can’t,” Alex agrees. Somehow, it sounds a lot heavier when it comes from her.
She stays quiet until they enter the caves. They tap into something
there, Jonas doesn’t know what exactly, but it’s incredible. Alex’s grip on the radio is so tight that her knuckles have gone pale.
And then she pulls back, lets whatever’s happening die away.
“Why’d you stop?” Jonas demands. The radio was... communicating with the triangle above them or something, it was cool as shit
, and Alex didn’t let it keep going?
Alex looks at him. Turns the dial of the radio, very deliberately. The triangle starts to vibrate.
“I knew you were going to say that,” she says. “You always do.”
She turns the dial again. She’s not looking at the radio or the light display above them; she’s looking straight at Jonas. It’s starting to unsettle him.
“I don’t remember how this started,” she says. “We’ve gone around way too many times since then. But I’m guessing you
dragged me into these caves and you
kept pushing me to keep going with this stupid radio thing. Because that’s what happens every fucking time
“What the hell is wrong with you? What are you even talking about?”
“It’s all your fault,” Alex says, viciously. “Everything that’s about to happen is your fault
She twists the dial one last time.-
Jonas wakes up outside some kind of communications tower, Alex lying next to him. Once he’s made sure she’s not actually dead
, he leaves her where she is and climbs up the tower to see what he can find.
Not much up there that actually seems of use. But he gets a call from Ren, and then one from Clarissa, who’s apparently somewhere that has radio equipment.
When he gets back down to the base of the tower, Alex is conscious and looking puzzled.
“You weren’t there when I woke up,” she says.
He shrugs. “I guess I wasn’t.”
He outlines the situation, Ren in the woods, Clarissa at Fort Milner. She barely seems to be paying attention until he says, “So you go find Ren. I’ll see if I can help Clarissa.”
“What? No, we’re meant to go together.”
“As much as I’d love to get yelled at
for no reason
again,” Jonas says, “I think I’m gonna spend some time on my own. Question one: how did you know something bad was going to happen? Question two: why didn’t you just tell me
instead of making it happen anyway and then blaming me
“You know what? I don’t care. See you, Alex.”-This is new,
Clarissa says. Her eyes are red. Look at him, all by himself.
“Clarissa?” Jonas asks. He’s trying not to freak out. It’s not working.Did you and Alex have a fight? Conflict is normal in a change of family circumstances, they say.
Clarissa walks slowly towards him, if ‘walks’ is the right word. Her movements are wrong
; it’s like a wooden puppet being half-dragged along the floor by a child. Jonas’s mind screams at him to run. He can’t move.
Clarissa lays a hand on his cheek.Not that it matters. You don’t have the radio. You don’t have a way to defend yourself. You belong to us now.-
He’s with his mother, he thinks. The colours are soft, the edges of the world are fuzzy. He feels... good. He can’t really think clearly. But it’s good.
Sometimes, if he really focuses on that blurry point at the edge of the world, it’s like he can see something behind it. Someone with blue hair, maybe. He doesn’t know who she is. He thinks he might have known, a long time ago. She’s sobbing.God, Jonas, come back, Jonas, I’m so fucking sorryshake them off, just trywe’re okay, it wasn’t your fault, I was just frustrated, you didn’t do anything wronggive him back, you assholes, give him back
It’s just noise. He turns away, back to his mom.###
Jonas isn’t really sure how he’s supposed to greet his new stepsister when she shows up. A handshake? A hug? Somehow, he’s never come across the social protocol for ‘hey, we’ve never met each other, but I guess we’re siblings now!’
Alex answers the question for him; she runs down the sidewalk and throws herself straight at him, slams into him like a motorcycle. He barely manages to catch her in his arms.
“Um,” he says, when he’s managed to get his breath back. “Nice to meet you, too?”
“Jonas,” Alex says. She buries her face in his jacket. “I’m so sorry, I’m so fucking sorry.”
“Are you... crying?” Shit. “Are our parents okay?”
“They’re fine,” Alex says. “I’m just really, really
glad to see you.”###
Jonas’s new stepsister seems...
She seems familiar.
“Hey, have we ever met before?” he asks her.
She whips around and stares
at him. It’s slightly frightening.
“Sorry,” he says. “I just... I felt like we’d been friends once, or something. I’m probably thinking of someone else.”
She’s still staring. “You’ve never said that before.”
“Uh, when would I have said it before?”
“You’re remembering,” she says. “You’re remembering, right? Oh, my God.”
She presses her hands over her heart for a moment. “It’s been... it’s been really
tough,” she says. “Like, it’s all been tough, but I think the worst part is just... I’m a stranger to you, every time
. And we’re so close in my head. And I keep screwing up our relationship, just... being overfamiliar, or not paying attention, or getting pissed off, and I can’t explain it because you don’t remember
Jonas stares at her. Nothing she’s saying right now makes sense. And yet, to some part of him, it does. It’s like she’s talking in a language he learned when he was a kid and mostly forgot, and he just has to try a little more to get at the right vocabulary.
She takes a deep, shaky breath. “I’m sorry you’re remembering. You’re gonna have to go through this over and over again, and it’s gonna be awful
. But we’re in this together now. We’ll find a way out.”
He surprises himself by going in to hug her. It seems too early; they’ve only just met. But it feels right, somehow. “Yeah, we’ll get through this.”
He still doesn’t know what they’re meant to be getting through, but he’s pretty sure it’s true.