Summary: Flonne watched Laharl walk away from his throne; watched as he gave up on himself. But what happens when she refuses to accept his absense? Will she be able to convince him to return to his throne, and to her? Sequel to Monster in the Night.
Disclaimer: I don't own Disgaea. Don't make me go Overlord's Wrath on you. RxR.
Flonne could still see him as he once was. Cape billowing, antennae bristling, his smirk triumphant, Prince Laharl had finally seized the throne that had been his right since birth.
He had become the undeniable Overlord of the Netherworld, and he had never looked better since the day Flonne met him. In the beginning, there seemed to be something off about Laharl, as though someone had curled a fist around his heart and refused to let it go. How he hated love then. But soon, things began to change. Laharl started to become more merciful, more compassionate and understanding. He had even started calling Flonne by her name. It only took that one uttered syllable to fill her with hope for the future--hope for a newer, happier Netherworld.
But now, everything had changed.
You're too important for anyone,
You play the role of all you long to be,
But I, I know who you really are,
You're the one who cries when you're alone...
Flonne's hand drifted around her neck and grasped a golden chain--it was the pendant that she had given Laharl before she had been turned into a flower. She frowned as she remembered how it had been found, lying on the floor in front of the dimensional gate. She had hoped that he would have kept it, that it would have meant something to him. Instead, he merely threw it away, leaving his friends--leaving her behind.
She felt as though he had thrown her away.
But a part of her had been grateful for the find. At least now she had some sort of clue as to where Laharl had gone. It wasn't much to go by, Flonne had to admit that sad fact to herself. But the pendant still retained some of its holy power. She would use it to help her track him down.
And that was exactly what she did.
"Oh, Laharl," she sighed, her voice barely audible over the chilling breeze. She shivered and drew her cloak tighter around her body. Flonne had lost weight since she had left the Overlord's castle in the middle of the night, six months ago. She had simply gotten up, packed her things and left without saying good-bye. After all, it was Laharl who taught her how painful good-byes could be. Flonne, always the love freak, had spared her friends by simply vanishing without a trace. But she hoped that one day, she would return.
But not before she found Laharl.
The stars above her twinkled and danced in the night sky as her shallow breaths misted in the cool air. Flonne was starting to get a bad cough--and to make things worse, she had run out of money a week ago. She couldn't afford to stay at an inn or to buy herself medicine. She barely had time to forage for food before she had to move on. Her greatest fear was not illness, but that she would arrive too late--that she would just lose sight of Laharl all together. She was barely able to keep up with him as he moved from city to city. And with every village she passed through, the answer was always the same.
"Oh, that noisy kid with the blue antennae hair? Is he really Krichevskoy's son? Yeah, I saw him passing through a week ago. You just missed him."
Flonne groaned quietly, coming to rest at the bottom of a valley. She had hoped that the dunes around her would be an effective shield against the wind, and she hadn't been disappointed. She sank down against a boulder as she allowed herself a few minutes rest, holding the pendant in her hands. A red moon was reflected in its surface.
I will find you, Laharl, she promised to herself, as she had done every night since she first started her journey. I won't rest until I bring you home with me.
But where will you go
with no one left to save you from yourself?
You can't escape;
you don't want to escape.
Her eyes rolled shut. I won't rest...she protested mentally as she drifted off to sleep.
Flonne had no idea that she was being watched. Standing on one of the dunes was a lone figure, his dark cape billowing in the breeze. His crimson eyes scanned the crumpled form of the fallen angel before he disappeared amongst the sand. He had simply vanished into the shadows.
But he wasn't the only one watching.
Within moments, the sleeping girl had been surrounded as she lay oblivious beside the boulder. But Flonne had become a notoriously light sleeper ever since Laharl left. As soon as she heard the grim laughter ringing in her ears, she jolted awake. Her eyes snapped open, catching sight of a number of travel-worn looking demons--scruffy and unkept, they leered and smirked down at her. They could sense how helpless she was at that moment.
Bandits, Flonne thought, her eyes wide and alarmed.
One of them, obviously the leader, unsheathed a blood-stained dagger, tucking it neatly under her chin, lifting her face into the light. "Well, well..." he said in a low, rough voice. "Isn't she a cute one?"
Flonne didn't dare to move. The man's breath stank of stale whiskey. She cringed, but said nothing as he continued to scour her with a single pointed gaze.
"And I think I'm in luck," he murmured, his hand reaching down inevitably towards her chest. "I like 'em flat."
"Don't touch me!" she breathed, the terror evident in her voice. "Please...!"
"Hey, boss," another demon piped up. "She said please. Ain't she polite?"
"Yeah, we should show her a good time!"
"Not without a price," the leader replied smoothly, bringing his gaze back towards Flonne again. "And I think I have just the thing."
His eyes were on her pendant.
"This is pretty," he said. His hand edged closer, she tried to squirm out of his reach. Unfortunately, the knife at her throat reminded her just how helpless she was to the entire situation. If she didn't want to die, she would have to keep still.
"No...!" she begged. "Please, anything but that! Do whatever you like to me, just please...please don't touch it!"
The demon merely chuckled, his hand closing around Flonne's pendant. The fallen angel felt her heart skip a beat as a bright light suddenly flared up around the gem, consuming the bandit's limb in a harsh flame. A scream ripped from his throat, and he let the pendant slip from his grip. He was clutching his hand to his chest, which was suddenly severely burned.
Flonne saw this as her chance. Though it morally pained her to do so, she had no choice but to grab a fistful of sand and throw it directly into the bandit's eyes. The demon cursed and fell backwards, leaving his crew to amble about in confusion. Clearly they weren't the brightest bananas in the bunch. The fallen angel scrambled to her feet and took off at a dead sprint, not caring where she went so long as she put as much distance between her and those hellions as humanly possible.
Unfortunately, the bandits were used to chasing their prey. Within moments, they were after her.
Someone! she thought frantically. Anyone! Please, help me!!!
You think that I can't see right through your eyes,
Scared to death to face reality.
No one seems to hear your hidden cries;
you're left to face yourself alone...
Flonne stumbled over the uneven sand as she dodged around another boulder. She fell face-forward to the ground, her blond locks now matted with the grainy fragments. As she turned over, felt her cough starting up. She curled into a ball, her chest heaving as she started hacking. Her slender body trembled, and she glanced over her shoulder fearfully. The bandits charging in her direction, causing Flonne's stomach to rise to her throat. It couldn't end this way. It just couldn't.
She closed her eyes tightly, a single frightened tear rolling down her cheek. "Laharl..." she breathed, waiting for the worst.
That was when she heard the screams.
Her eyes snapped open, and a terrifying sight met her eyes. A dark figure darted in and out of the horde of thieves, his sword drawn and cutting mercilessly into their hides. The bandits had been startled by his sudden appearance, and were only now drawing weapons to engage this new foe. But it seemed as if he was too strong.
"Mercy!" one of the demons screamed, falling to his knees. "I'll give you my undying loyalty! Please, I..."
His voice suddenly ebbed as the stranger slit his throat. Flonne gasped in horror.
"Fool," he said in an emotionless voice. "Anyone who dares to harm her, dies."
The sword rose and the sword fell. And every time the blade sang with vengeance, blood spilled onto the sand. Flonne felt an eerie horror in watching the gore unfolding. Men were losing limbs, being cut open, being disembowled on the edge of her savior's blade. She couldn't even scream--her voice had simply left her.
Within five minutes, all pile of corpses lay on the ground. The figure towered over them, his sword still dripping from their fluids, his crimson eyes scanning the fiends, searching for any survivors. Of course, there were none.
Slowly, he turned to face her.
Flonne felt the color draining from her cheeks, and felt a strange swooping sensation in her heart. Half of it was joy, half of it was sorrow. But her shock at seeing him again caused her to burst out coughing. "L-Laharl!" she gasped.
Her voice startled him. He backed away several steps, clutching his sword like an anchor to the world. "No..." he murmured like a man in a dream. "It really is you..."
The fallen angel felt herself recovering as she rose shakily to her feet. A teary smile unfolded onto her face. "Laharl!" she cried, running towards him.
She only had time to see him stiffen as he turned heel and fled. Her heart sank as she watching him go. Why was he so intent on leaving her behind??? Flonne felt uncertainty and anxiety rising--she couldn't let him leave again. Not after everything it had cost her to find him. She inhaled sharply and sprinted after him, struggling to keep him in her sights.
But where will you go [Where will you go?]
with no one left to save you from yourself?
"Laharl-san!" she yelled, tearing after him. The distance between them was starting to close, as if he was growing reluctant of running away from her. "Laharl, please! Don't go!"
Instead of stopping him, like she had hoped to do, Flonne found that her words only caused him to pick up the pace. She frowned in frustration as she started to feel winded from the exertion. Stubborn as always, she thought bitterly, her heart pounding. Feeling cheated somehow, Flonne lifted her hand in the air and summoned her staff. A dazzling light glowed around her palm, and suddenly a golden staff was clenched tightly in her fist.
She wasted no time. "Giga Ice!"
A large cluster of icicles sprouted out of the ground in front of Laharl's feet. But to her dismay, the ex-Overlord had kept his wits about him. He leapt effortlessly over them and kept running. Flonne suddenly felt light headed. She couldn't keep this up for much longer.
Without warning, the once demon king had stopped short, his cape molding into a pair of wings. He looked nervously over his shoulder at the fallen angel bent at pursuing him. "Stay back!" he yelled at her. "I'm warning you, don't come any closer!!!"
You can't escape...the truth...
I realize you're afraid [I realize],
but you can't abandon everyone.
Flonne simply knit her brow and raced forward. But her thoughts at catching Laharl suddenly vanished as her feet no longer touched the ground. The earth had simply caved under her weight, and the fallen angel plunged down into a ravine that she hadn't noticed in her desperation to reach the Overlord. A startled cry left her lips as she fell to her doom.
Frantically, she groped the walls of the cavern as she fell, grabbing at branches and sharp stones in her attempt to stop her descent. Her hands became scraped and bloody, but she never slowed in her plunge.
I failed...she thought numbly, feeling the wind whipping her face. Why now...? So close...!
Then, she felt a pair of hands grab her by the waist.
"Dammit, Love Freak!" a familiar voice hissed in her ear. "Stop squirming!!!"
Flonne opened her eyes and found herself staring into a pair of crimson eyes. It was Laharl. With his weight, he was gently pinning her against the wall, his face inches away from hers. His wings were outstretched, keeping them both in the air.
Glaring at her, Laharl scooped her up into his arms so that he was carrying her bridal style. He pulled her away from the side of the ravine, touching down at the very bottom. Carefully, he placed her onto solid ground.
Flonne stared up at him, her eyes wide. "L-Laharl...!"
You can't escape;
you don't want to escape.
Without warning, the fallen angel felt herself coughing uncontrollably, her body trembling from the closeness. She had been scared one time too many, and now she was in bad shape. But that didn't stop Laharl from giving her his two cents.
"You idiot!" he snarled in a low voice. "What the hell were you thinking?! You could have been killed!"
"I'm...I'm s-sorry," she choked. Her body was heaving from the strain of her coughs. "I...I didn't...know that the..that the c-cliff was...there..."
Laharl's glare softened slightly, but only slightly. "What's the matter with you? Why are you coughing like that?"
Flonne shook her head feebly, indicating that she didn't know. "It just...started up a...a few weeks...ago..."
He knelt down beside her. His brow was knit with unease as he regared her. "And you didn't see a healer?"
She couldn't answer him. Her breathing had become ragged as she slumped against his shoulder, feeling incredibly light-headed. Laharl went rigid, gripping her shoulders tightly in his hands. Her sudden frailty had surprised him.
"Whatever! Just forget it," he muttered hastily. "Don't try to talk if you know what's good for you..."
Flonne wasn't used to him being so caring. Laharl had already laid her down at the face of the cliff, away from the wind and sand, and hidden safely in the shade. He had reached out to check her pulse when he noticed her bleeding hands.
"What the hell did you do?!" he snapped, grabbing one of her hands. It was all scraped from the fall down the cliff.
"I...I couldn't stop..." she murmured. "You caught me..."
Laharl mumbled something sarcastic under his breath as he proceeded to tear off scraps of his luxorious red velvet cape and dress her wounds. Whatever it was, Flonne couldn't make it out. She didn't try to understand, anyway--she just wasn't up for a love and justice speech at the moment. In fact, she hadn't been up for one since he left her behind in Celestia.
I'm so sick of speaking words that no one understands.
Is it clear enough that you can't live your whole life all alone?
I can hear you when you whisper,
but you can't even hear me screaming...
"You shouldn't even be here," Laharl continued irritably. "You must have hit your head pretty hard to want to go wandering around a freaking desert...moron."
Flonne would have been offended if it weren't for the fact that his hands were so gentle against her skin. It was a contradiction in and of itself. And she savored every minute of it. In fact, she was so content to have Laharl verbally sniping at her again that she hardly listened to a word he was saying.
She turned her face to face him, a happy smile lighting up her features. Some of the shine was returning to her eyes. "I missed you, Laharl..."
Laharl didn't reply. Though Flonne did notice him become stiff and uneasy, as though he wanted to bolt. Feeling nervous all of a sudden, she reached out and caught his hand in hers, despite the fact that it was still raw from the scrapes. She was too afraid that he would leave her again.
"Didn't you miss me?" she asked softly. "At all?"
He glowered at the contact she had initiated with him, but did not rip his hand out of her grip like he was clearly tempted to do.
"You have no business missing me," he said coldly.
"You're wrong," Flonne protested weakly. "I care about you very much! Why can't you see that?"
Laharl said nothing. He had hoped a stone-cold silence would discourage her into thinking that he wasn't interested in whatever she had to say. However, if he thought that the fallen angel would simply allow him to shrug her off after months of relentless searching, even in the face of illness, he didn't know Flonne very well. In any case, his lack of dialogue only served to strengthen her resolve.
"I came all this way to find you."
"And why," he said slowly, "would you do something stupid like that?"
Flonne shot him a rebuking look. "I know deep down that youhave what it takes to be Overlord, even if you refuse to admit it. But you just gave up on yourself...after everything you went through to win your throne...you just threw it away."
"Do you really think that?" he asked her quietly. His tone was icy, and the look he gave her was a direct laser beam of hate. Clearly he didn't appreciate what he considered to be a callous judgement of his actions. I "threw it away" because I didn't deserve it, he thought bitterly. Either she's a complete idiot, or she never thought much for the Seraph in the first place...
The look he gave her made her pause. "Laharl-san...?"
"Answer the damn question, or I'm leaving!"
Flonne looked upset, and worried as well. "If I really didn't believe in you, would I be here right now?"
Laharl didn't answer her. He had had a nagging suspicion from the very beginning as to what her true motives are. Does she really think I have what it takes...? he thought to himself. Or is she just needy...?
"That's interesting," he said dryly. "You want me to come home with you--you followed me all this way because you believed that I finally understood your stupid love crap and became a noble and kind-hearted ruler...?"
"Yes," she replied firmly.
"Even after I slaughtered your precious Seraph in cold blood?"
His words were a slap in the face, a harsh reminder of the fact that she had exiled to the bowels of her mind in her haste to bring Laharl home--he killed Seraph Lamington. There was no erasing it. Lives could be erased, but murder--death--could not. Laharl knew that all too well.
But his blunt honesty served to make her look twice at her own intentions. Am I really doing this for the sake of others? For Laharl's sake? she asked herself. Or...am I doing this for myself...?
Her grip tightened on his hand, even though it hurt so much--her wounds were still fresh, and the slightest contact caused her to wince. But the pain must have been evident on her face because Laharl's expression looked suddenly less hateful. "Flonne..."
"What you did," said Flonne fervently, ignoring his half-uttered syllable that was her name, "you did out of love! This sin you committed, you committed it for...for my sake...! If anything, I should be the one to blame! I should have known how badly Lamington-sama was hurting; I should have known that he would never endanger the lives of others without bearing some sort of punishment..."
Tears clouded her eyes. She could no longer look at him--the guilt and self-doubt that had been plaguing her since Laharl's departure, the confused feelings that she had been trying to hold back for weeks suddenly ruptured. She couldn't hide how torn she was anymore. There was no doubt that Flonne cared very deeply for him, otherwise she wouldn't have bothered going after him. But in doing so, the fallen angel made a sever personal sacrifice--every step she took felt like betrayal to the memory of Seraph Lamington...
...not because she blamed Laharl for his death. It was because all this time, Flonne had blamed herself.
Laharl's gaze swivelled to her again, only this time he looked angry. He leaned in so close that their faces were only inches apart wearing an expression so terrifying that it made the fallen angel freeze. Her heart almost stopped beating as he glared into her eyes. And suddenly, one of his hands was cupping her windpipe, almost carressing it--it was a very lethal suggestion that his fingertips made.
"If you even dare to hint that you're the one to blame for all this, Love Freak," he breathed. "I'll kill you."
Flonne shuddered as he added pressure to his grip on her neck. It didn't hurt, but it was forceful and cold. It made her heart skip a beat.
"Good," he muttered, looking satisfied, yet very lonely. "You're afraid. You should be. What I did to Lamington, I could do to you in a heartbeat...without flinching...without hesitation. Just like I butchered those bandits before, granting mercy to no one."
"Even...even if you are the monster you make yourself out to be...I was the one who made you this way," she protested nervously. "And anyway...I don't think you would actually hurt me..."
Laharl looked enraged. "Want to bet? Want to go back and take a closer look at what I did to those bandits?" He leered down at her, his expression truly frightening now. "You can't lie to me, Flonne--it's obvious how much I scare you now..."
Flonne felt a tear sliding down her cheek. "I am afraid..." she whispered. "Right now, I'm afraid of the things you've become capable of, but I also know that these fears have no bearing on who you really are."
The demon didn't seem to have a comeback for that one, so the fallen angel swallowed and kept up the resolve to continue.
"When I saw you...killing...those bandits," she explained, "I was truly afraid...but not for the reasons you think. I was worried that all of these months of living alone had changed you...made you hostile towards everyone. I was afraid you had given into the darkness left behind from all of the tragic things in your life--your mother's death, her redemption at the Red Moon, and the death of Seraph Lamington...I was scared that all of those bad memories had warped you into a completely different person."
"I haven't changed," Laharl snapped. "I was always a freaking murderer! Why do you think my mother went and...and...saved me?" His voice broke. "I as good as killed her..."
"No...!" Flonne murmured. "Laharl, that isn't true! Your mother loved you! She chose to give her life to save yours..." She shook her head bewilderedly at him. "You aren't a murderer...! The Laharl-sama I know is truly a loving, caring person. And even though he is hurting others, even though he claims to do so without remorse...something inside of him cries out for forgiveness. The Laharl-sama I know..."
"...doesn't exist," he finished savagely. "You've been telling yourself a lie that a complete moron wouldn't believe."
"You're wrong," Flonne murmured sadly. "That Laharl is right in front of me..."
She hesitated. She knew she was taking a major risk in admitting what she was about to admit next, but at this point Flonne had nothing left to lose. If she didn't tell Laharl exactly what she was feeling--exactly what she had been feeling ever since he had started to reveal the kindness in her own heart. It had come as a startling realization when he left her behind. It was only then that Flonne realized the truth...
"He's right here..." she continued, looking him straight in the eyes. "...and I love him..."
Laharl gritted his teeth, his face shadowed by his bangs as a low growl rumbled in his throat. Inadvertantly, his grip tightened on her trachea.
"Don't..." he hissed. "Don't you dare...say...that...word...in front of me...!!!"
Where will you go [Where will you go?]
with no one left to save you from yourself?
Flonne's eyes widened perceptibly as she struggled against his grip, trying to get air into her lungs. "La...harl...sama...!!!" she gasped.
Her voice completely doused him in ice-cold water. He let go of her so quickly, it was as though his hand had been burned. Flonne lay on the ground, curled up on her side and coughing uncontrollably, her eyes stinging with tears. Her ruby eyes looked questionably up at him, like a small child who had been struck for no reason. It was torment to him.
Laharl sat a good distance away from her now, looking down at his own hands as though transfixed. His crimson eyes were filled with horror.
"Tell me why," he said, his voice shaking. "Why should I return? What good am I to anyone if I can't even protect the ones that I...I..." His eyes squeezed themselves shut, no doubt to shut away the tears. "All I can do is cause others pain! Tell me how that's love!" Laharl screamed.
"Why would you love the person who murdered the closest thing you ever had to a father?" he demanded. His hands buried themselves into the sand and clenched into fists so that the tiny fragments slipped right through his fingers. "I killed the one person who held your undying respect and devotion! And you say that you love me?!"
She pulled herself into a sitting position. "Yes..." she whispered. "That's exactly what I'm saying."
"Well, then what's love?! What's justice?! I don't understand your rules, you stupid Love Freak!"
Flonne wept quietly as she stared at Laharl. Slowly, she gathered the courage to pick herself up off the floor and moved so that she was directly behind him. Carefully, she slid her arms around him and rested her chin on top of his shoulder, nuzzling his neck. The ex-Overlord became very tense, but did not push her away...though it certainly had crossed his mind a few times, he couldn't bring himself to rip himself out of her arms. He could feel her heartbeat, throbbing relentlessly against his spine. It was racing.
You can't escape...the truth...
I realize you're afraid [I realize],
but you can't reject the whole world.
"Love," she whispered in his ear, "is the reason why you're angry right now. It's the reason why you gave up your throne and left all of your friends behind, even though you needed them. The fact that you killed Lamington-sama to avenge me was love. The fact that you regret killing Lamington-sama is also love. And love," she murmured, "love is wanting to be by someone's side no matter what sins burden them--love is refusing to give up on that person, no matter what. And love...love is everything I have ever wanted for you."
Laharl seemed to be frozen. The feeling of her lips so close to his ear made him feel as though someone took an icicle and traced it down his spinal cord. A nervous tremor was the only indication he gave that he even heard her. Swallowing heavily, the ex-Overlord closed his eyes. He could still feel her tears trailing down his collar bone.
"Love...must be a form of insanity, then," he replied. He tried to sound defiant and rude, but instead he came off as shaken. His voice was husky and low, very unsteady in the face of raw longing.
"If it is," said Flonne quietly, "then I'd rather be insane."
Laharl became silent and contemplative. However, he pulled her arms tighter around his torso. Even though her closeness clearly made him edgy, he was reluctant to have her leave his side. Her touch also seemed to be having a calming effect on him. Already, Laharl felt the lump in his throat receeding, though his heart was dancing frantically beneath his ribcage. And when he finally spoke again, his tone of voice had become quieter.
"Your persistence," he mumbled after a long pause, "is frightening. But what the hell are you trying to prove? What do you want?"
The fallen angel seemed to take courage now that Laharl had stopped yelling at her.
"I want you to come home."
"Hmmph," he grunted. "And what will you do if I won't come with you?"
Flonne shifted slightly, tracing the muscles of his chest with the hand that was less badly scraped. The subtle action made Laharl glance at her from over his shoulder. Was she trying to be seductive? The thought was almost amusing--but the situation at hand was too sobering as it was. I wonder if that's her demonic nature kicking in, he mused. She certainly wasn't this bold as an angel...
"I'll follow you to the ends of the world if I have to," she said firmly.
Laharl rolled his eyes. "You really are insane; but you and I know damn well that you can't. You're getting sicker. If you keep this up, then you'll die."
Flonne closed her eyes. "I don't care. I won't give up on you...I'll always be here...for you..."
Laharl shook his head slowly from side to side. Gingerly, he peeled her hands away, but did not let them go as he turned to face her. His crimson eyes were sad and frustrated. "I won't let you," he said bluntly. "The last thing I need right now is your blood on my hands. Go home."
"No," Flonne replied simply.
"No?! What do you mean no? Flonne, I'm telling you to leave!"
"And why would you want me to do that? What are you afraid of, Laharl???"
His face flushed a deep red as he glared at her. "N-nothing! Do I look scared to you?! You're the one who should be scared!" He turned his face away as he muttered, "You're the one who's running yourself into the ground just to find me...!"
"And you don't like that?" Flonne enquired softly.
"No," he muttered. "I don't like it. I think it's the dumbest thing I ever heard. In fact, I wouldn't have believed it at all if you hadn't followed me off a cliff like a complete moron."
The fallen angel grinned to herself, barely restraining the laughter that threatened to overflow like the rising tide. The effort resulted in a mixture of giggles and severe coughing.
"It's not funny!" Laharl snapped. "And look at you...dammit, Flonne...!" He pushed her back against the boulder. "It's bad enough you went on this stupid excursion; but no, you had to get sick too!"
"I have no regrets," she replied, smiling warmly at him. "You try so hard to deny love--even now. But I think that you're one of the most caring people I've ever met. The fact that you care so much about whether I live or die pretty much proves it."
"Hmph....If that's true, then your love mania is a freaking disease."
You can't escape;
you won't escape...
"Laharl," she said quietly, looking serious again. "Please...come home."
He regarded her for a moment. The more he talked to her, the more unlikely it was that he would convince her to leave without him. And he knew that if he just got up and left, she would just get back on her shaky two legs and follow him until she either found him again or died. There was something desperate in her plea...as though she was on the point of breaking. It frightened him.
"You're not going to give up on this, are you?"
Laharl frowned sadly at her. He had no choice now. He couldn't let this continue. As much as he loathed to admit it, he cared too deeply for the fallen angel to let her wear herself down to nothing for his sake.
"I'm sorry to hear that," he told her quietly. Then, quickly, before he could change his mind, Laharl cupped her chin in his hand and pulled her face to his. He could sense Flonne stiffening in surprise as he caught her parched lips in a kiss. It was as though a tremor of electricity coursed from his lips to hers, and the fallen angel actually shivered in his arms. But soon, her muscles relaxed, practically melting in the midst of all these muddled sensations. Laharl felt his heart skip a beat as she started to respond to his advances, wrapping her arms around his shoulders.
But it all made Laharl feel guilty. He hadn't expected to enjoy it this much; but it didn't excuse his true motives in kissing her. Her eyes were now closed in a state of contentment, rendering her incapable of seeing the glowing fist he had raised in her direction.
I'm sorry for this...Flonne...
The fallen angel barely had time to register what was happening before Laharl clonked her over the head. Her vision swam, and even as she felt herself sinking backwards against the face of the jagged rock, she struggled to keep him in her sight. Her hands refused to relinquish his own--the one thought that persisted throughout this sluggish episode was to never let go, no matter what happened. However, she soon felt her hands being pulled away.
"Laharl..." she whispered.
And then her world faded to black.
You can't escape;
you don't want to escape...
Hours later, Flonne found herself lying on something really soft. Her brow scrunched slightly as she attempted to roll onto her side, but felt a sharp pain in her head. Groaning to herself, the fallen angel allowed her eyes to slide open. Her head was swimming uncomfortably as the objects around her seemed to spin. But her vision focused soon enough for her to dispell the sense of disorientation she was feeling. Even so, it took her a few minutes to register the fact that Laharl was gone.
Her breath hitched in her throat. Laharl!!!
Flonne bolted upright, her hands clutching her forehead as her head-ache grew steadily worse. She felt something cool and moist land on her lap with a squelching sound and glanced down. Someone had put a cold compress on her while she was sleeping. Whoever it was had also bandaged up her hands with gauze and medical tape.
"Where...where am I?" she murmured. Flonne looked around her and found that she was sitting on a bed in a particularly clean looking room. But there was something familiar about the arrangement of the furniture, as well as the stone-gothic architecture. "This...looks like the Overlord's castle...but it can't be? I was in the desert, and...what happened...?"
"You know, talking to yourself is the first sign of insanity," came a familiar voice from the doorway.
Flonne's gaze snapped to the source of the sound and locked on Etna, who was standing with her hands on her hips. Her tail was dancing in a restless, irate manner.
"Then again, you never were that sane to begin with," the demon girl sighed, striding forward until she was directly in front of Flonne. "I can't believe that you actually went looking for the Prince like that! You must really be out of your freaking mind..."
"Where's Laharl???" Flonne demanded, fear evident in her voice. "How did I get here?"
Etna rolled her eyes. Clearly the fallen angel would not be distracted so easily.
"Relax," she said. "He's right outside. He wanted to leave after he brought you back here, but I managed to convince him to at least wait until you woke up."
Flonne breathed a sigh of relief, falling backwards onto her pillows. Etna took the opportunity to sit down on the edge of the mattress and put the cold compress back on her forehead.
"Keep that on," she told her sternly. "The Prince clonked you a little too hard when he knocked you out, and you actually had a concussion. You're fine now...nothing an Omega Heal couldn't fix, anyway. It's a bit overkill, but..."
"Laharl knocked me out?" Flonne interrupted, a look of realization crossing her features. She had remembered the kiss, and how she suddenly felt something striking her on the back of the head. Hurt filled her eyes as she realized that the demon's true intent had been to distract her.
Etna might have sensed how betrayed she felt, because the next thing she tried to do was console her.
"You know, the Prince is almost as stubborn as you are. Neither of you will budge once you get an idea in your head. He was absolutely determined that you got adequate medical attention...he even allowed himself to come out of his self-induced exile just to get you healed up."
She paused, letting the words sink in.
"It's a good thing he cares about you so damn much. Your bronchitus was starting to turn into pneumonia," she said in an as-a-matter-of-factly tone. "I don't know if I would have done it. Especially after that little stunt you pulled..."
Flonne had the decency to look guilty. "I should have left a note..."
"It's no good trying to talk to her," came another voice. "That Love Freak just won't listen to common sense."
The fallen angel felt her spirits rise as she saw Laharl hovering sheepishly in the doorway, his arms folded to his chest in an awkward manner. He was trying hard not to look at her.
"I'll just leave you two alone," Etna decided, smirking broadly. "You two love-birds need some alone time."
"Can it, Etna!"
"Hee! I'll see you later, Flonne," she replied, turning and walking out the door. "King Laharl," she added as she brushed past Laharl. He swiveled around to glare at her, but did nothing to stop her as she disappeared into the hallway. However, he continued to sulk even after her footsteps faded into the distance.
After what seemed like an eternity to both of them, Laharl turned to face Flonne again. "You're awake," he said, stating the obvious.
"Yes," she replied. "And I see you've taken your throne back."
"Don't be stupid," he muttered, turning red. He hesitated before coming over to the bed and sinking down beside her, eyeing her cautiously. "The only reason I'm here is because...well..." he looked away. "...I figured that if you were dumb enough to just run off without a trace, get yourself sick, and run off a freaking cliff...then you're dumb enough not to give up on me too..."
"Laharl...!" she admonished.
"Shut up," he snapped. "I'm not finished!"
Flonne pouted, but fell silent, allowing Laharl to effectively voice whatever was on his mind.
"As I was saying," he continued loftily, "it became clear to me that you have no intention on listening to sense. It...well...it made me think that maybe...maybe I shouldn't be quick to give up either."
The fallen angel was stunned. Did this mean...?
"Therefore," he said, subtlely giving her a sidelong glance to see how she'd react, "I have decided to stick around a little while longer...at least until I can figure out what I'm going to do about you."
A long silence followed this. Flonne couldn't take her eyes off Laharl, so great was her disbelief. But he wasn't looking at her anymore. He just kept fidgeting and moving his gaze from one thing to another--anywhere but at the girl in front of him.
"What do you mean, what you're going to do about me?" she asked.
Laharl flinched at ths sound of her voice. His crimson eyes locked against her persistant stare, causing him to shudder quietly. What he was feeling was so strong, it completely caught him off guard and made him squirm in ways he never imagined.
What surprised him even more was that he liked this feeling she gave him. Which is why he reached down and scooped her up into his arms, hastily folding her in an embrace. The motion was awkward, and his hands fumbled slightly as they moved to a comfortable spot on her lower back. Flonne gave a slight start as he pulled her against him, but did not protest at this sudden display of affection. Nonetheless, a heated blush could be seen plainly in her now scarlet face.
"Just...just so you know," he muttered in her ear. "I did miss you...Flonne..."
Flonne closed her eyes. She was too caught up in the torrent of her own emotions to reply intelligently. All she could do was cling to him tightly and pray deep inside her heart that Laharl would never let her go.
The demon's nails clawed against the back of her white frock, sharing exactly the same sentiment. Words were completely unnecessary.
Authors Note: The End. I really hope you all enjoyed reading this because I totally procrastinated on my philosophy paper just to write this. O_O I haven't slept in days. So please, please, please review! Don't make me doubt my ability as a writer with utter silence. Instead, make me doubt my ability as a writer by leaving some constructive criticism (because then I'll get all passionate about it and slave away for hours to improve my technique!!!).
So come on! If you liked what you read, make some noise!!!!