Author's Notes: Happy Holidays, guys! I hope that you and your loved ones will spend a meaningful and pleasant Christmas.

Anyways, this is me taking a break from my dark fic, in the hopes of producing something different. I just hope you'll like this one. Remember, those who review will automatically be swiped off Santa's list of naughty boys and girls! *wink* (trust me on this one. I have connections!)

The Hardest Word

Marguerite stared at the soup she was stirring, trying in her best to fight back the sudden onslaught of tears. She was successful in snuffing out a sob or two, after all, she didn't want Veronica and Finn to know just how close she was to crying then and there.

The day started out the usual way, with her and Roxton bickering about the smallest thing. It was almost soothing for Marguerite, actually, that way, she would still have the practice that her tongue needed. That was her greatest asset, to be able to talk through anything, to be able to use her feminine willies to her benefit. And Roxton also seemed to enjoy their verbal lashing, for he was more than able in deflecting any word she uses, and was also able to hurl in a few good insults. But what they didn't count on was the fact that some of their words meant more to the other than they had intended it to be. Eventually, friendly bickering turned into something far more dramatic. Marguerite always knew that an argument that involved both their feelings was not the smartest place to go, but there was no turning back now.

"Love," she had said, her face containing an expression a reminiscent of a sneer. She turned away from peeling her vegetables to face the man seated on their table. "It's not even a true emotion, is it? As Challenger would say, love is only the feeling brought about by the surging of hormones and other chemicals inside a person's body." She shook her head in amusement at the thought.

"So are you saying that you don't believe in love?" Roxton asked her, his eyes wide. Unbelieving.

Marguerite shrugged. "Only fools fall in love, John." She said casually.

He stared at her, his hand clutching the rag so tightly. Then he closed his eyes and looked down on himself. "I guess I'm a fool, then." He said lowly.

But she heard. "Maybe," she said with a slight smile. "But then again, it's only hormones. You know how stupid that sounds? People being controlled by their body fluids, like puppets on a string?" She snorted indelicately. "It's pathetic, if you ask me."

Marguerite could never forget the hurt expression that crossed his features when she said that. Roxton then quieted down, and resumed his task of cleaning his gun.

She was surprised that he had not said a word to her after that. Roxton wasn't the type of man who would go down without a fight. At least, that's what three years of living with him had shown her. But was there something in those words she had said that made him… surrender in their verbal dispute?

After a few moments of self-introspection, Marguerite found out what it was.

My God, she thought. How could she sound so insincere, so… emotionless? She knew that Roxton has feelings for her. More than lust. More than need. He hadn't said anything yet, but does he have to? The way he looked at her, the way he protected her, cherished her… he hasn't said anything yet but she could read the signs.

And now, with all those thoughtless words she'd carelessly thrown at him, it made her seem so…

"—and then, I grabbed my handy-dandy crossbow, I aimed at the guy, and *BAM*!!!" Finn sad excitedly. She jumped beside Marguerite and slapped her at the back. "My first raptor!"

Veronica smiled at the younger woman's excitement. "And I don't believe it'd be your last." She turned her eyes on the silent Marguerite. "How about that? A few more practices and maybe she'd—"

"—catch her own T-Rex? Hell, YEAH!" Finn finished Veronica's shortened sentence. "I can't wait!" Still feeling all the rush, she raced towards her own room.

After Finn was out of earshot, Veronica looked at Marguerite more seriously. "Hey," she said softly, concern coloring her voice. "You okay?"

Marguerite attempted to smile, but she felt so forlorn that it was a wasted effort. "Just peachy." She quipped instead. Then she thrust the ladle at Veronica. "Finish this, will you? I need some air." And before the other woman could speak, she had already moved towards the elevator.

Only one thing was on her mind as she rode down.

How on earth am I going to apologize?

*

Roxton was barely able to keep his attention on his prey. He took his aim, fired, and missed a chance. The raptor went wild after hearing the sound of a gun firing, and went by them so fast it disappeared from their view moments later. He shook his head and cursed loudly. For the third time that day, a raptor was able to escape his clutches without as much as a bullet in the skull. And those were the easy targets. If Roxton was on his prime self he would have felled each one of those three raptors without wasting a fourth bullet. But he wasn't on his predator mood; very far from that in fact.

He looked at Challenger and Malone, then shrugged. "I missed." He said. "Again."

Challenger just nodded at him. "Quite all right," he said. "I'm sure you'll get the next one."

"Or maybe I will," Malone told him as he picked up his backpack. "We'll never know, right?"

Roxton shrugged again, and then followed Challenger and Malone as they looked for another raptor in the deeper part of the forest.

He just focused his attention on keeping one foot ahead of the other; if he stumbled over his own two feet then it would definitely alarm the others that something was wrong with him. As of now, the others were already suspecting that that was the case; Challenger and Malone kept stealing glances at him left and right. Probably they were wondering, what was wrong with Roxton, anyway? He almost grunted, that was precisely what he wanted to know himself.

"Cold?" She had said to him, eyes widening when she realized what he meant. "You think that I'm… cold?"

Roxton looked at her as though she had just told him that the earth was round. "Colder than the arctic, I suppose." He said, his own eyes flashing. He set his mouth on that grim, determined line. "I always wait for you, Marguerite. Maybe a few scraps of attention. Or, perhaps, a good word to say to me." He crossed his arms in front of him. "I am a lord, a person of royal blood. I am not a beggar, and I am very sure that you are aware of that fact. But why—" He dropped his head. "But why do I feel like I am one when I'm around you?"

Marguerite looked at him. Shocked. Appalled. "Roxton, I—" She started to say. Wicked as her tongue was, she had absolutely nothing to say to him now. She took a step backwards to distance herself from him. "I'm not—"

"Why don't we just talk about this later?" He said, his face containing an almost cruel smile. "In your own time, of course." And then he walked away.

Roxton almost cursed again as he remembered. He swore he heard a gasp from her as he left, but idiot that he was, did he even bother to check? He was totally focused on inflicting pain; an eye for an eye for a bruised ego. And yet…

He hurt her. Of that fact he was very sure of. Roxton wanted Marguerite to open up to him, to make her see him as a man who loves her as a woman. She was very secretive, always had something to hide, and yet, she was a different woman whenever she's with him. She hasn't told him that she feels the same way he felt for her, and yet, she didn't have to. Everything about her just gave it away.

And now, with all those thoughtless words he'd carelessly thrown at her, it made him seem so…

"Why are we bothering, anyway?" Malone suddenly asked aloud. "It's not like Finn wasn't able to catch anything earlier."

Challenger stopped to look at the younger man. "We have to stock up." He stated simply. "Finn's catch wasn't as big as we had hoped it'd be. We need another one to last the duration of the week." Challenger looked up at the sky. "We have to catch a second one in order to brave the coming cold front—"

Roxton stopped in his tracks. "Why don't you just go without me," he said to them. "I have to settle something." Without waiting for either of them to speak, he turned away.

Only one thing was on his mind as he made his way back to their home.

How on earth am I going to apologize?

*

Their eyes met.

Marguerite, who was walking around the tree-house, drew her gun out when she heard the rustling of some leaves. She took her aim and was about to fire when Roxton came out with his hands held high in the air. He tried to smile at her. "You're not going to shoot an unarmed man, would you?" he asked.

She pointed at his guns with her eyes. "Seemed like weapons to me," she said as she lowered her gun.

Roxton lowered his hands and then stepped closer to her. He stopped when he saw Marguerite visibly flinch at his actions. He opened his mouth, but not a word came out. He just stared at her face, and noted with some concern the crimson flush that colored her cheeks.

Marguerite looked away. She was sure that her face was burning up with… shame? Embarrassment? She wasn't sure she could face him now. That was why she flinched when he attempted to close the distance between them. And that was why she visibly relaxed when he stood still.

Silence stretched out between them; an uncomfortable silence that seemed to stretch out without any hopes of breaking. One shuffled his feet, the other looked around her in a mindless wander. It was the last thing that they needed, and yet it was the first one to greet them when they met again.

Suddenly Roxton spoke, unable to stand it any much longer. "Marguerite," he started to say. "I'm—"

"Roxton," she said the same time he did. "I'm—"

They both looked at each other and waited.

Nobody spoke.

Until Marguerite did. "This is ridiculous," she said softly. Then she bravely faced him. "Roxton, I'm so… I'm so sorry." Her eyes sparkled like the diamonds she seemed to cherish so much. "I… I didn't mean to—"

"No, Marguerite. I'm the one who's sorry. I shouldn't have said those things to you." He took a step towards her, and took her hands in his own, encouraged when she had made the first move. "I was an insensitive fool. You were right when you called me one. I deserved it."

"No, Roxton. You were making perfect sense. I was… I am cold. I haven't realized it until you told me." She gave a hollow laugh. "I just wish you could have told me sooner so that at least I could have—"

He silenced her with a finger on her lips. "The last thing that you are is cold, Marguerite Krux." He said with an adoring smile. "You have had a lot of experiences to make you the way you are. I was merely being impatient. I was talking with a bruised ego. I was looking for a way to hurt you, and I… I did."

"Well," she said as she took his hand and held it tight. "I hurt you too, so maybe we're… even?"

Roxton chuckled. "Not even," he said. "Equals." He lowered his face and gave her gentle kiss on the forehead. "Now, I've told you before and I'll tell you again. I'll wait. We'll talk about this, but only when you're ready."

This time, there was no cruelty in Roxton's words. Only openness, honesty. Love.

Marguerite smiled at him. "Thank you, John."

This time, her words were filled with emotions that echoed what was in her eyes. Warmth. Tenderness. Love.

And they both appreciated that.

Fin