41. Pet

"No."

"Come on, Light, please?"

"Fang, I said no! We are NOT keeping a baby behemoth in the house."

42. Shadow

Every sound in the shadows made the soldier nearly jump out of her skin, not at all trusting of their surroundings. Arriving on Gran Pulse had been enough of a hassle - really, leaping out of airships and dealing with a Fal'Cie that liked to scare the living daylights out of them... It was ridiculous. She worried for Hope, the boy had been acting strange. Vanille seemed to be hiding something. Sazh was... being Sazh, and Snow kept talking to her sister's crystal. Fang seemed completely unperturbed by all of this, the huntress must simply be happy to be home on Pulse.

Gran Pulse, she could hear her correcting her in her mind. The pinektte frowned at the thought, glancing in the direction of the tanned woman, who'd only hours before had faced off against them, saying she'd take all of them out and knock Cocoon out of the sky herself if she had to. But Light had seen it. The fear and pain in those verde eyes,for the fate of herself, for Vanille, and the world from where they both came from. Lightning felt a twist within her stomach, grimacing, and turned her head away, instead taking a look around the makeshift basecamp they'd set up from finding scraps laying around. She looked at Snow, who was leaning against a large metal part, Hope tucked underneath one of his arms.

She didn't know what had happened between those two, exactly, all she knew was that Project NORA hadn't worked out, and she'd been given her hunting knife back. Sazh slept with his back to the flames, one hand tucked underneath his head, the chocobo chick nestled in his afro. She looked back again to the sight that had caused all of this inner turmoil in the first place.

Fang and Vanille, keeping watch together. Sitting close, side by side, bodies touching and heads close, talking about something or other. The ex-sergeant was unable to sleep in the first place, on edge on acount of their wild new surroundings, but a twinge of jealousy at her heart was what worried her the most. Right now, none of them could afford any distractions, but Farron felt as if she might have to fess up sooner or later for the almost undeniable "interest" she felt when it came to the Pulse natives. One in particular being Oerba Yun Fang, who was currently laughing at something her redheaded compaion had said.

Light frowned, and turned away again.

43. Always

The mark on her chest was, if anything, a constant reminder that their time was wearing thin. Being a l'cie was certainly not glamorous, not that she'd ever thought otherwise. Lightning just didn't enjoy how it seemed to suck the life out of everything. Fighting enemies no longer got her riled up, as she would simply battle them to follow the process of advancing towards an impossible goal. A goal, one ultimate Focus that would either break or... break them. The rag-tag band of l'cie had come together in albeit unorthodox ways, but when they had finally joined up, some sort of excitement sparked back in to the way she looked at things.

Farron found herself especially more terrified once they'd reached Gran Pulse. The monsters down here were horrifying in both their number and strength. Exhausted to the point of nearly collapsing day in and day out, running around the Steppe and exploring where all the other crevices and path ways led them, trying to find an answer to the question of escaping their Focus. She was doubting if it could be done, and for the longest time she tried to believe in Snow for assuring them all that Serah wanted them to save Cocoon. But most nights it annoyed her to hear him muttering to her sister's crystal tear, and was being slowly worn down. The pink-haired soldier blew her hair out of her face, rolling her shoulders, muscles sore and strained.

They'd stopped to camp the night in some clearing they'd more or less made, tearing through a pack of gorgonsopid pups. Best to rest while they were safe, even if she wanted to continue on despite her body's desperate pleas for succor. She allowed her cornflower gaze sweep around the settlement, spotting Hope learning some sort of strange clapping pattern from Vanille. The Oerban saboteur piqued her interest on account of seemingly being able to constantly keep smiling no matter what they faced here. Sazh, Snow, and Fang were all huddled around the fire, working over cooking the party up a feast of fiend meat.

Lightning then shifted where she sat, separated from the rest of the group, back to the wilderness that was always surrounding them, making her on edge. This untamed place was both beautiful and frightening. It was fierce and unpredictable, yet on the more calm nights, one could see and appreciate the landscape with its unending rolls of hills and canyons, mountains and lakes and ponds that stretched for miles or simply rested in an odd bend. The animals, when not trying to rip their heads off, demonstrated both how natural selection was a bitch, and also when a megistotherean mother would defend her pups, even fighting a mighty king behemoth for their sakes.

She closed her eyes and sighed, a ghost of a smile flickering across her lips.

44. Content

The ravine was rather cramped. Lightning tried again, shifting her shoulder - only for her pauldron to groan and screech against the rockface. She grit her teeth, brow furrowing with mild frustration at the situation. "Any ideas..?" came Snow's troubled chuckled above her. She was terrified that if he lost his grip, he'd come tumbling down on top of her, Fang, and Sazh. Hope and Vanille had been small enough to not get caught, and had climbed out of the crevice. They'd gone to fetch something Vanille had promised would get them out.

"We wait," Fang cut in, and Lightning tried not to shiver, feeling the hot breath against her leg. Cerulean orbs flickered to the Pulsian warrior, every muscle of her tanned body straining to keep from plummeting to a sharp, wet death from the rocks and rushing river water below. Sazh laughed dryly, Snow helping keep the older man up. "Yeah. Waiting's not exactly our best option right here," he gruffed, the chocobo chick flying around in circles above them, chirping loudly.

The champagne-haired ex-sergeant's gaze lingered on Fang. She'd dug her bladed lance in to the stone, one leg brought up and around it to stay still, but she dared not move. Almost hanging fully upside down even, her wild mane of hair tickled Light's skin, every breath she took caressing her knee. And if she didn't know any better, she'd say the tribeswoman was perfectly content, as if she could stay there all day.

Fang paled slightly when her form suddenly gave a jerk, and for one terrifying moment, Lightning's heart stopped as pebbles rained down to the rushing waters some fifty feet beneath them, the huntress's staff giving a groaning sound. "Etro, don't let this place break m'lance!" Fang grumbled, shaking her head. Farron had to fight the urge to squirm at the tickling that followed. With a grunt, she tried to straight her legs, rasping sharply at the rocks digging in to her back still. The place was too narrow to summon anyone's Eidolons, even if they could bring about their crystals. She wasn't too keen on dying here...

45. Certain

"I think you would have liked it here, Lightning!" Vanille giggled, helping the pinkette hold a chobobo still. Farron paused a moment, smiling softly at the redhead's enthusiasm. She found it hard to be... serious towards the bubbly Saboteur. Which the others took great joy in teasing her about, "others" being Fang and Snow, the two chatting some ways away, plotting where they should head next no doubt. Lightning reached back and wiped sticky sweat from the back of her neck, the hot sun beating down mercilessly in the small clearing.

"I suppose I would. In another life," she mused, before mounting the animal and holding herself steady, Vanille aiding in keeping the creature still.

"What d'you mean by that?" the redhead quipped, tilting her ginger head up at the pinkette, curiosity in her verde gaze. Farron paused a moment, before explaining,"If we weren't all l'cie, and if this mess between Pulse and Cocoon wasn't such a big deal... I'm certain I would enjoy visiting."

"... It was so wondrous here. The ruins would still be in one piece, and there wouldn't be nearly as many Undying or Cie'th stones... Five hundred years..." The ex-sergeant watched the girl trail off, sighing and pressing her face against the chocobo. Lightning merely stayed still and silent, sky-sapphires combing over their surroundings once more, drinking in the dilapidated area, run down and weary, dulled with erosion and the curse of time. It was heart-wrenching, to try and even comprehend what it must be like for the two Pulse natives to return to their home land only to see it in such a state.

46. Scorch

Fang hissed out between clenched teeth, clutching a handful of her sari hard. Sweat beading her brow, the huntress lolled her head back with a heavy breath, panting out,"Light..." The pinkette silenced her with a hard stare, stern but swimming in concern. She lifted her free hand to brush from dark locks back from Fang's face, a gesture that surprised the tanned woman slightly.

"Don't worry. Vanille will be here soon," Lightning said, continuing to press down on the gash in Fang's leg. She glanced up as she said this however, swift to scan their surroundings. She'd sent Snow off almost ten minutes ago to fetch the other group, she dimly hoped the lummox hadn't gotten eaten by some Pulse beast. She herself was drained of any energy, not nearly enough to conjure a Cure spell, that was certain.

The Pulsian had heard the strain in her voice however. It hurt the ex-sergeant that she couldn't help her, not even ease her pain. She had to sit and watch, and simply hold down a bundle of cloth in some attempt to stop the bleeding from her wound. Fang chuckled breathlessly, coming off the arm she'd been leaning on and instead hunkering forward, placing her now free hand on Light's shoulder.

"I'll be alright, Sunshine. S'just a scratch, yeah?" she chuckled, tilting her head with clouded green eyes flinching with the rest of her at a jolt of scorching pain shooting through the injured limb. She grunted, her hold on Light's shoulder tightening. The pinkette gulped, cupping her face,"Fang?"

The huntress lifted her head again, huffing now for her breaths. She was pale, with a sickly complexion and fog in her eyes. Even being l'cie didn't make you invincible, but Lightning was still glad that their durability meant that the native to these very lands wouldn't bleed out before they even had a chance to reach the top of Taejin's Tower.

"M... M'alright." Still, she insisted on reassuring the champagne-haired soldier, though she could feel her hold on her shoulder loosening considerably.

"Fang?" Lightning repeated, panic suddenly filling her stomach, an icy squeeze, her expression merely a dent in her brow and a frown on her lips. The Pulsian's own verde orbs rolled skywards before they shut, her head tilting back once more but this time her body slumped with the motion. Quick, Light grabbed her around the shoulders and torso to keep her upright, needing both hands to do some and cradling the woman's head against her shoulder in result. "Fang!"

47. Bore

The solider had been in a very bad mood since the beginning of the day. Maybe it was the ambush of flans, leaving the party sticky with golden goo that had done it, or the ambush of goblins in the Yaschif Madas that afternoon, or the pack of gorgonsopids they'd run in to shortly after... Well, a lot could be wrong. So how on Gran Pulse could Vanille be in such high spirits? How could Fang have an almost bored look on her face? Were these waves of beast after beast after beast simply not challenging enough for the older Pulsian? Lightning worked the tick in her jaw a moment or two, glancing away as the brunette busied herself chit-chatting with hero boy about their most recent kills along the Steppe.

Hope and Sazh lingered along, side by side, near the back of the group, the two Synerists' conversation out of her earshot. Vanille simply bounced happily along, almost managing to keep up with Lightning's curt pacing. It was simply irritation with the huntress that made her core ache and her body pulse with heat, making her legs move that much more swiftly.

48. Study
(This one is more of an AU than anything, my apologies)

"I know you can do this. It isn't that hard, and the test is tomorrow. If you fail, Vanille won't be too happy," Lightning Farron chided. Fang gaze her an unamused glare. She'd sought help from the school's coldest, smartest student. She'd always been a vigilant studier, with top grades. All the teachers loved the pinkette, and she was even the captain of various sports teams and athletic clubs. Word had it she'd be joining Cocoon's military after graduating from Pulse - and that put the Yun clan woman in a foul mood. Who else would she tease during gym class, or fight on equal grounds when they went to Judo club? Not even the boys in this school were a match for her, but Lightning...

"I'm not doin' this for Vanille," Fang sighed, laying her head down on her book, tugging at the skirt of her school uniform with a frown. She'd modified her clothes as much as she could to be comfortable without arguing the school's staff. Her tutor arched a brow at her, the strawberry hotcake, leaning back in her chair with her arms folded across her chest, one leg over the other. The Pulse native shook her head and sat up again. The knot in her chest tightened. "You're leaving."

For a moment, Farron merely gave her that usual, serious look, before she blinked slowly once, not an inkling of surprise on her face. "Yes. After graduation. I'm moving to Cocoon for a job to look after Serah." Right. It was always about her sister with this one. Not that Fang would blame her, of course. She herself had been extremely protective of her fiery-haired surrogate sister until she'd decided to let her grow up for a change. "Why does it matter?"

"I- us at the Judo club will miss you, y'know. And you'll miss all the fun hunting lessons at the college..." Fang said. She felt a rush when she saw that twitch in Lightning's jaw, hinting towards the beginnings of an amused smile.

"Then you'll go on to be educated barbarians," she stated flatly, completely flooring Fang's confidence and her argument, if only for a moment. "This transfer program was a mistake. I would have preferred being schooled in Cocoon." The tanned student frowned.

"Hey now. Gran Pulse High ain't such a bad place. Y'just gotta let it in. Plus, we kick the crap out of you Cocoonians when it comes t'scenery." She then gestured to the open window, the breeze flowing in to the library warm and inviting, the sunny outdoors beckoning. It was why she couldn't focus on her books, why she couldn't study. It couldn't have anything to do with the transfer beauty beside her. Yeah. Amazing scenery...

49. Minute

This was all happening so fast. Fang easily ducked out of the way of a sharp slash from the gunblade, before bringing up her staff and swinging at the soldier. She watched that red cape flutter while its wearer slid in to a backflip through the air, gracefully landing and rearing her blade's gun form. The Pulsian leaped back as a spray of bullets peppered at her feet, a bead of sweat shaking loose from her brow with the movement. Really, she appreciated the help the woman was giving to help her hone her new Ravager skills. She hadn't been pushed like this in a while, magic never having really been her strong point, even her Sabotaging needing some work.

With a click of the tongue, Fang suddenly threw a ball of Ruinga, exploding in a flash of white light. Once it had cleared, she spotted Lightning on on her back some feet away. She made her way over and offered a hand to the fallen woman, who merely gruffed and clasped grips, pulling herself to her feet with only a bit of Fang's help. The brunette of the two jabbed her lance in to the ground and leaned against it, huffing.

"Caught ya by surprise, did I?" she chuckled, earning a glare from the ivory-skinned beauty who was retrieving her weapon from the ground, sliding her gunblade back in to its holster.

"No," Lightning replied coolly, dusting her jacket off, ignoring Fang's snort of disbelief. If she had been paying attention, the little sparring match would have lasted much longer than just a minute. What had she been distracted by?

50. Limit

As if she didn't have enough to be frustrated about, Lightning found her temper rising. She must have been a little too adamant and serious lately - what else could explain Fang's sudden urge to just pluck the pinkette up and haul her over her shoulder like a sack of components? Even more, she felt the hand hold her hip sliding ever so dangerously down as the Oerban carried her across a few rocks that bespeckled a stretch a river, water lapping at the stones and making them slippery, yet she had no doubt that Fang would not slip.

"Put me down," she growled, clenched fists pressing against Fang's back to try and lift herself, steady herself over Fang's shoulder, only to be shrugged as the dragoon adjusted her hold on her, laughing. That laugh! Oh, she'd love to harm the tan woman to just get her to stop being so happy and charismatic all of the time!