A/N: This fic is rated T for sexual references and language. :) just in case you missed it in the summary..
I wrote this fic over the summer and I'm just now getting around to posting it. I'm like...80-90 percent finished writing the whole thing? Um, so yeah...that's all I have to say. Oh, and expect it to be very different from my other fic. I was a terrible writer then, so please, think of this as..."starting over."
Rune Factory doesn't belong to me, obviously. :O
Lukas jerked awake at the sound of a door slamming somewhere else in the inn. He tensed for a moment in confusion, forgetting at first where he was. He opened his eyes slowly, drawing his sheets closer until his sleepy, aching brain remembered.
He rolled over instantly, sensing already that he was alone. His hand flew over to the spot next to him on the bed. It was still warm.
He smiled at the memory of her and then rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hands. He was hung over and exhausted but he could still recall her voice.
Lukas, she said. That was all that she needed to say.
Yes, he remembered everything from the night before now: her skin, glowing faintly in the dark; the feeling of her bare arms around his neck; her always-cool body, even in the heat of the moment.
Sharron, he'd answered.
He rolled over all the way onto his stomach, pressing his face into the sheets and willing the memory to stay before he'd have to get up.
Tori looked at the girl in front of her. She hated her. Look at you, she thought. You're ugly, and dull, and you're just so…
"Useless," she accidentally finished out loud, and then sighed. Worst of all, she was talking to her own insecure reflection.
"What did you say?" her brother Zavier snapped from the other side of the room. He was already acting grumpy this morning. "Who are you talking to?"
"…" She paused, feeling her face getting hot in spite of herself. "I'm…um…it's…nothing."
Zavier hopped off his bed, muttering something under his breath, and walked over to the stairs. Tori listened as he took the stairs two at a time and slammed the door as he left. The echoing sound made her wince.
She sighed again, finishing the braid she'd been working on and tossing it over her shoulder. She stared into the mirror, trying to motivate her face to maybe suddenly acquire a couple of attractive features. Fuller lips, maybe, or a more graceful complexion, opposed to her pale-and-blushing one.
It didn't work. She turned away and went downstairs.
Zavier felt the itchy, hot, guilty feeling he always got when he lost his temper with his sister. It's not her fault, his mother always said. She needs a stronger male figure in her life. You can be that for her, Zavier.
"How is that my responsibility?" he complained under his breath, and then clapped a hand over his mouth. Oh, now I'm as bad as her, talking to myself! …Next I'll start stuttering on every word and…
All of his thoughts came to a grinding halt as he bumped straight into someone standing right outside the inn's entrance.
"Gah—M-M-Mist!" he cried, backing up against the inn door. I'm already stuttering like her, too! he thought furiously. He stuck his hands in his pockets to hide the shaking. Clearing his throat, he asked as casually as possible, "What are you doing, just standing in the middle of the walk?"
She was facing away from him, and turned slowly at the sound of his voice. "Oh. Zavier." Her voice had an odd hint of disappointment.
Zavier stared at her, waiting for her to say something else. He felt his face slowly redden as she stared searchingly back into his eyes. She didn't speak.
"You know, Mist, I think I'll be heading off now," he finally said, feeling awkward in her silence. He stepped around her and when he was almost out of earshot, she spoke.
"I had a strange feeling," she said. He stopped and turned around.
"I had a strange feeling," she repeated, in the same tone.
"Yeah, I heard what you said…"
Zavier scratched his head when she didn't offer an explanation. "I meant, 'huh?' As in, 'what do you mean?'"
Mist pressed her fingertips together and brought them towards her lips, like she was deeply analyzing something. "I felt something happened here, at the inn."
"Like what?" As much as he liked her, her ability to be vague about everything was slightly irritating.
"Oh, you know," she said, waving her arm at him, as if the answer was in the space between them, in plain sight.
"I don't…I mean…"
"Have you been doing anything naughty lately, Zavier?" Her tone suddenly switched to something playful. Her eyes locked intensely with his. He felt the flush creep back up his neck. He thought of what he'd done to Tori earlier. There's no way she could've know, of course, but it still reminded him of his guilt.
"N-no, of course not, what are you saying…"
She giggled, a tiny sound, and then pivoted on her heel to go in the opposite direction. "It wasn't you, so don't worry…"
He watched her go, bewildered, his heart still pounding from her words.
Camus could feel the light filtering in through his windows and under his eyelids. He took a deep, calm breath and opened his eyes, squinting a little at the brightness.
Melody was still sleeping, her head on his chest and their legs tangled together. Her pink hair was untied and disheveled, and she had both arms around him. She looked peaceful, so he tried not to disturb her as he laid his head back on the pillows.
"I know you're awake," he heard her say, and he reopened his eyes. Her eyes were open now, too. She was peeking up at him. He smiled back.
"We should get up," he said with some reluctance, trying to sit up with her still on top of him.
"Noo," Melody whined, rolling off his bare stomach onto the bed next to him. "I'm not ready yet."
"Neither am I, but I've got to get back to the shop…"
"Who cares about the shop? No one's going to come today!"
"I care about the shop." He stopped, looking at her naked back. She curled up into a ball beneath the blankets. "Come on, Melody…you have to get the bathhouse ready…"
"Uuuh," she grumbled in defeat, turning over on her side so her back was to him.
He broke off, lying in silence next to her for a moment. Then he traced a finger down her side. "Come on…"
She immediately dissolved into giggles. "T-tickles!" she said, wriggling away. "Cut it out!"
"Nope," Camus said, tickling her even further. "Not until you get out of bed."
"Okay, okay!" she exclaimed, near tears with laughter. "I'm going, I'm going! Cut it out!"
Tori came slowly down the stairs, half-hoping Lukas had already left the inn and half-hoping that he hadn't at the same time.
She knew it was wrong of her. He was the kind of person her mother warned her about. She knew she didn't have a chance with him to begin with. And, most importantly, he belonged to Rosetta. She knew all that.
But she couldn't stop herself.
She pressed both her hands tight across her mouth, wishing she could erase her thoughts. As she did this, her foot missed the last step and she banged her heel against the floor.
"Oh," she whispered to herself, feeling the pain in her now throbbing foot. This is my punishment, she thought ruefully. This is what I get, for thinking that way…
"All right, Tori?" someone said, and Tori raised her head timidly, finding herself looking up at none other than Lukas. He flashed her a charming smile, but it was tired somehow. Not as charming. He seemed paler than usual.
"Guh—," she managed to blurt out, cringing at how much she was blushing. "I…"
He nodded at her, obviously distracted and not listening. "Careful," he said. He strode over to the door and walked out, closing it quietly behind him.
Tori almost fell over in mortification, the four words he'd spoken to her playing on infinite loop in her mind. All right, Tori? Careful…
Rosetta had learned a long time ago to not expect anything of Lukas.
And yet she found herself wondering:
Where is he?
Where was he last night?
Was he drinking?
Is he hung over?
Was he with another girl?
Is he with another girl right now?
Is he even coming?
The endless questions cycling through her brain served only to fuel her anger, which grew and grew as she swept the broom across the floor of her father's store. What agitated her even more was the fact that he'd come swooping in and she'd forget what she'd been thinking of him.
"Ugh!" she said in disgust. Her swift mechanical motion with the broom faltered a moment, making her fingers slip and sending the broom clattering to the floor. She let it lie there and went over to sit on an unopened crate. She clasped her hands together and hunched over, resting her elbows on her knees. She wanted so badly to hate him like she used to, and yet couldn't find the nerve to do it.
Her heart leapt at the sound of the door's bell jangling, and promptly sank when she saw it was only her father, Jean.
"I'm back," he said good-naturedly, smiling widely despite her reaction. "What's wrong, Rose?"
She pulled at the ends of her hair in frustration. She hated talking about Lukas with her father. "I'm still waiting…"
"Why don't you go to him for a change?"
"He's not worth it," she said, using the excuse she always used. But it was only half-true. The bigger, real reason was that she was too afraid. Afraid that she'd find him in bed with someone else.
Her father smiled sympathetically, which only made her feel more pathetic. "He'll show, just wait. He always does."
That's what I'm doing, she growled in her mind. Always waiting, waiting, waiting…
Then the door opened again. Rosetta rose instantly in spite of herself.
"Morning," Lukas said breezily, nodding at Jean in greeting as he headed straight for Rosetta. She wanted to pull back, to turn her face away, to refuse. But instead, she let him kiss her.
"Morning…" she mumbled in response, trying to sound mad. But she felt the corners of her mouth already turning up in a smile as she examined her shoes.
"Rosetta," he said, cupping her chin in his hands and forcing her to look at him. She wanted to squirm under his gaze.
"What?" she said, finally mustering up some irritation. "What're you looking at?" There was something strange in his eyes.
He looked at her a moment longer and then dropped his hands.
"Nothing," he answered easily, and then he was back to normal, like nothing had happened.