Very Important: as most of these chapters were written two years ago, the beginning ones are very, very bad. I urge, if this is your first time looking at this story, to skip, at least, the first two chapters. My more recent stuff, however, begins at chapter five. That is all.


.X. Gamble

Emerald eyes darted around the darkness of the Mah'habara caverns as quick, hurried footsteps echoed off stone walls. Somewhere behind the light footsteps, a heavy, metallic sounded crash bounced off the walls. Whatever was making said sound was big, and was likely the cause of the desperate sounding breaths of air escaping from a certain Oerban's lips.

Fang darted through the unfamiliar pathways of the mechanical haven. Her chestnut locks fluttered about from the sheer speed she was going at. One might even think she'd taken a lesson or two from Lightning if they saw her at that exact moment.

Unfortunately, however, that was not the reason why she was running as though her life depended on it. The unconscious soldier on her back and the Juggarnaut decimating anything in its path some thirty feet behind her were.

"Ya bloody twit!" she hissed under her breath, thanking Etro for the confined space of the tunnels that was significantly slowing down the Juggarnaut behind her. All she needed to do was to slip around a corner somewhere and hope that the Pulse machinery gave up the chase.

Oh, if only she'd taken the time to work on her Medic role! A simple Raise spell and this whole situation would be reversed. She and Lightning would be tearing after the Juggarnaut as it tried in vain to extend its life. But it was hard to fight such a formidable opponent by oneself, even more so when you had to protect a downed comrade.

"Had ta go an' act like a moron!" the brunette continued, tugging on the two delicate hands that she held within her right hand so as to not allow Light's limp form to slide down her back.

It had been a regular scouting mission. Lightning and Snow had decided to go on a scouting mission to plot out a course for them to take to get through Mah'habara - it was more like Light had decided she'd be going and Snow wanted to tag along - but the two hadn't even left before the soldier had been ready to tear Snow's head off. Fang had told Snow that it might be better that he sit this one out, but he'd been concerned about Lightning's safety. He should have been more worried about his own safety, she told him, but also said she'd go along just to make sure the sergeant didn't get maimed by a robot - like that would ever happen.

They'd made some good progress through the caverns, destroying anything they came across so as to clear a path, until the two had walked out onto a platform and come face to face with a Juggarnaut.

It hadn't seen them, and Light had suggested simply going around it. Fang, on the other hand, had said it would be better to just get killing the thing out of the way. Both hadn't wanted to do it the other's way, and so finally Fang, reckless as she was, had taken off towards the thing, intending to catch it off guard and stagger it quickly. Lightning had been forced to follow, although she did so with a livid look to her eyes that had nothing to do with the thing they were fighting.

The battle had been going well. Fang had succeeded in getting a preemptive strike, and the Juggarnaut had been staggered and launched almost instantly. Perhaps that was why the brunette had gotten so cocky.

The moment the thing was back on the ground and had regained its senses, it went about spewing flames and swinging its large arms. That hadn't been too much for them to handle. No, the problem had occurred when Fang went in close for the kill.

She'd just speared the thing, slashing through mechanical plating and wires, with a triumphant look in her eyes. She had been sure it was over. They had, after all, laid waste to it when it had been staggered and continued chipping away at its health afterward.

Fang had turned to look at Lightning, a rather feral grin playing at her lips, but had been surprised to find the soldier yelling at her to get out of the way.

She had turned back around, seen the Juggarnaut rearing up ever so slightly, cannonball in its middle getting ready to be shot right at her. She was too close. No way she'd have ever gotten out of the way.

But that had been when three scorching hot balls of fire had blind sided the Juggarnaut, turning its attention on their caster and prompting it to shoot the steel ball at the sergeant instead.

Lightning had tried to get out of the way, but the shot was simply too quick. She'd been blown straight across the platform and been knocked out cold.

"Yer not made fer takin' hits like that!" Fang growled to the unconscious woman on her back, turning a sharp corner and immediately ducking behind the nearest thing that looked as though it could withstand a beating if the Juggarnaut happened to slam into it.

Her heart pounded in her chest as the Oerban made herself and the woman she was carrying as small as possible by ducking down. She tried to conceal her sharp intakes of air, but found it utterly impossible to completely silence herself. Hopefully the Juggarnaut wouldn't hear her…

The warrior waited, side pressed against the rock column she was hiding behind, as the daunting footsteps of the Juggarnaut drew closer. Anticipation flooded her veins, and she was second guessing her decision to hide. She should have continued running. But it was too late now. It'd be right upon her if she tried anything now.

The Juggarnaut had turned the corner now, and was only a few feet away from the two l'cie. Eyelids slammed shut over emerald orbs as Fang sent silent prayers to the Fal'cie that the mechanical beast would just pass right by her.

Some job she'd done keeping Lightning safe; having to resort to praying to the very things they were out to destroy. She'd taken a gamble by attacking the Juggarnaut - the very thing Light had wanted to avoid - and the soldier was the one paying for it.

The Juggarnaut paused, no doubt searching for the form of the escaping l'cie, and Fang held her breath. Of course it would notice they were not running ahead of it! How had she been so stupid?

The Pulsian could already see it. In a fit of frustration, the Juggarnaut would begin to decimate the area around it, flailing its arms around and spewing red hot flames. One of its arms would slam into the column keeping the two l'cie hidden, and then it would collapse onto the two women.

And that would be it for them.

But that wasn't what happened at all. The Juggarnaut, after only a few seconds of stillness, seemed to suddenly jump to life once more. Its heavy, clunking footsteps started down the pathway, past the spot where Fang and an unconscious Lightning were positioned.

It was only after the footsteps had become distant that the bronze warrior let out a heavy sigh of relief. She stood up, her legs feeling a little wobbly, and once again tugged on Lightning's arms.

"Lightnin'." The Puslian started in a rather breathless voice. "Remind me ta get ya ta beat tha hell outta me after we get ya ta Vanille."


.X.X. Occupied

Lightning was as quiet as she slid open the window of the upstairs bathroom in the house that she and three other people shared. She slipped out onto the sill, being careful not to lose her balance and fall two stories to the ground below.

She was lithe and agile, but even she had trouble reaching up and pulling herself onto the roof without making a sound.

Why was the sergeant of the Guardian Corps sneaking out of a bathroom window and onto the roof? Simple. Vanille and Serah were waiting just outside the bathroom door, armed with brushes, a curling iron, and hair ties, and saying they wanted to try something.

They had already succeeded in tying a few locks of her long pink hair into a braid, which they positioned just behind her left ear - proof that she hadn't escaped untouched. She silently wondered why it had taken so much convincing to get them to let her go to the restroom where she would make her escape.

Grunting silently, the soldier hoisted herself onto the rough surface of the roof and paused. Her eyes had yet to adjust to suit the darkness of a Gran Pulse night.

It wasn't as dark as one of Cocoon's nights, she noted, because of the many stars that adorned the sky. So many stars… She'd never even seen a real star before coming here. Catching herself staring, the soldier quickly turned her attention to getting out of dodge. If either Vanille or Serah decided to bust into the bathroom and stick their head out the window, they'd see her hovering on the edge of the roof.

The strawberry blond shuffled carefully away from the edge and up the slope of the roof towards the center. She figured she could sit up here for an hour or two and then come back down once the two teens had tired themselves out looking for her and gone to sleep.

Light's heart also jumped from her chest, however, when an accented voice called to her in a low tone from the other side of the roof.

"Ya hidin' too, Sunshine?"

Fang.

Azure eyes scanned the expanse of the roof, at least the side that she was on, but could not locate the Pulsian. Until, that is, she ventured over the top of the roof and onto the other side.

Immediately, even in the dim light, the sergeant noted something incredibly off about the Oerban reclining with her hands under her head, emerald gaze turned skyward.

Was Fang's hair… Was it styled like hers?

Lightning blinked, unsure, but then remembered the small braid behind her left ear that Vanille had managed to put in before she'd made the excuse of needing to go to the bathroom. So they'd been trying to switch the two older women's hair styles? How did Vanille and Serah come up with these things…?

The brunette turned her brilliant emerald eyes onto the soldier and gave a small grin. "Well, this spots occupied, but I s'pose if it's ya, than I kin share." As if to add proof to her claim, the sari clad woman lightly patted the spot next to her, motioning for Lightning to sit down.

The soldier eyed her critically for a moment, but then supposed that there was no harm in it. After all, they were both in the same position.

She sat down next to the Pulsian, and, together, the two stared up at the glimmering stars above them, waiting for their siblings to give up and go to sleep.


.X.X.X. One Sided

Fang wasn't sure when it had started, nor was she sure it even mattered. All she knew was that she was helplessly entranced by the stalwart soldier that their little group of l'cie had started to call their leader.

She wasn't sure what it was about the sergeant that drew her close - perhaps it was the similarities of their situations, the determined glint in her azure sapphire eyes that mirrored the ones in Fang's own emerald ones, that bloody temper that was just so fun to test, or, and one couldn't forget about this, those gorgeous looks that had her heart hammering in her chest the moment she laid eyes on Lightning Farron.

While the warrior was unsure the exact reasons why she was so drawn to the other woman, she was well aware of the effects that had on her. She'd been bending over backwards for Light for Etro knows how long.

It started on the Palamecia, she supposed. Her mind was on Vanille, but she couldn't help but cast a glance or two towards the strawberry blond as she went about fighting with all of her flips and spins, almost as if she'd forgotten they were thousands of feet up. More than that, she'd realized that every time Snow said something idiotic, the soldier didn't even have to move to hit him. Fang was doing it for her.

That was just the beginning, though, and went unchecked because, well, the Pulsian figured that Snow could use a few knocks to the head. It wasn't as though Light had asked her to, after all.

In the Fifth Arc, there were less subtle signs. Anything that got anywhere near Lightning was instantly ripped to shreds by an angry member of the Yun clan. She endured the constant chiding of Vanille about her recklessness and none too many 'thank you's from the soldier.

Again. That went unchecked because Fang hadn't really even noticed herself doing it. It seemed almost natural to spring to Lighting's aid even if she didn't exactly need any help.

And then there was Bahamut. She'd been ready to turn on her friends, her family, if it meant protecting them. It was only when Lightning asked her to continue to fight with them did she cave.

It was apparent at that point, that she simply couldn't say no to Lightning unless there were some pretty dire circumstances. Like. More dire than a dragoon breathing down her neck and the fate of the world on her shoulders.

Once they'd reached Gran Pulse things had gotten even worse.

Fang had started going out of her way to please the sergeant, but did it as discreetly as possible so her pride remained intact. Nevertheless, she'd settled on the grounds that Lightning picked on their first day there instead of insisting on the location just north of that one. Vanille had been incredibly surprised.

And then she'd started bringing back things that she'd noted the sergeant taking a liking to. Even if that did happen to be Behemoth, a rather tricky beast to slay and not on her list of favorite things to eat. It just wasn't salty enough for her.

She had also been more cooperative than she might have been for someone as commanding as Lightning. The gods knew Fang was, if nothing else, a rebel who enjoyed nothing more than flaunting her disregard for the rules. So even when she didn't particularly want to play the Saboteur role - she would always favor charging right in as a Commando - the brunette would do it, for no other reason than to please Light.

And occasionally she'd be sitting by the fire, thinking about all of this, and Fang would suddenly ask herself why. Why did she go out of her way for this Cocoon soldier?

And then Lightning would look over at her, almost as if sensing a disturbance, and the warrior would catch sight of the thing that made her heart flutter and cleared her mind of all questions. That smile that Light would only do for her.