Disclaimer: These characters are the property of Square Enix, et al. I make no claims to anything but the unabashed angst herein.
This story started life as a one shot over on LJ and is growing. And growing. So, yes, I did just post my third In Progress FFXIII story. And for some reason, it really wanted to be a...Romance?
Warning: Here there be pairings, romance and angst galore. Love unfulfilled, etc, etc. Spoilers for the entire game, including the ending. I'm gearing up for another long one here, so don't expect a quick and easy resolution. Slow buildup is how I roll.
Pairing: Snow/Lightning, Snow/Serah.

This story is not part of my story Evolution, though I'd say the relationship between these two characters in Evolution sparked this story. Confused? Me too!

"The saddest thing in the world, is loving someone who used to love you."

Chapter 1
Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?

She snaps awake with panic bubbling up inside her. She blinks to clear her mind. Lightning feels the goose flesh all over her body, feels the tiny hairs standing up on the back of her neck. She stays on her back in her bed, keeps her breathing even and scans her bedroom for whatever it is that roused her. She listens for other breathing, hears nothing and rolls in one smooth move from beneath her warm blankets to her knees beside the bed. She slides her hand under the bed, feels the grip of her Gunblade and pulls it, holds it at the ready beside her. She rises with every ounce of predatory grace she possesses and moves into the corner, waiting for whomever or whatever woke her to make a move. She's ready.

Bang. Bang. Bang. Someone pounds on her door from the outside. She jumps, feels her heart pound wildly in her chest and throat. Then she feels her face heat with embarrassment over being so jumpy.

She heaves a sigh, glances at the clock and frowns at it. It's way too late to even be considered the middle of the night anymore, and far too early to be morning yet. This is an ungodly hour, and there's no excuse for visitors. Who the hell is knocking at the door at...3:18 am?

Lightning relaxes as she heads to the door, but she keeps her Edged Carbine in her hand. The house is cold and drafty and makes the bare skin of her legs and arms prickle. The concrete floor is frigid beneath her bare feet, reminding her once again that she needs to get some rugs in this house. She glances at the ratty couch and collapsing coffee table. And some decent furnishings. She's been living here for months and the place still looks like a temporary dwelling. It's absurd.

She's absurd.

More pounding on the door and Lightning pauses mid-stride. Whatever this is cannot be good. Maybe she should ignore it. She debates a moment before deciding that she can handle whomever or whatever it is that stands on the other side of her door. She's an ex-Guardian Corps and ex-l'Cie. She's defeated monsters that would destroy humanity. There's very little she can't handle anymore. She reaches for the knob and hauls the door open as the next round of banging starts. Her heart stutters and wrenches.

She was wrong.

"Snow?" He stands with his head down and his fist raised in the interrupted act of banging on her door. He glances up at her once then looks back at his boots. She looks back at the clock then looks at him again. She half expects him to evaporate because there is no reason on any world that would make him standing at her doorway at any time acceptable, let alone at 3:21 am. "What the hell?" she snaps and then feels a sickening realization dawn. Her irritation disappears as she thinks of the only reason he might come to her door in the middle of the night. Her stomach flips. "Is it Serah? Has something happened?"

"I love Serah!" Snow declares.

Lightning stares at him in an attempt to divine the truth. His eyes are glassy, refusing to meet hers, but there's no sign that he's been crying. His cheeks and nose are red from the cold, not from fighting; his fists and jaw are clenched. There's no sign of battle on him anywhere. No blood. No bruising. Nothing to indicate why he might have come to her door in the middle of the night. Nothing in his look or his demeanor that tells her why he's standing here or what he's thinking. Before tonight, Lightning would have been positive that she could read Snow. He's a fairly simple guy, all in all. Not to mention that she spent months travelling around with him in fairly close quarters, fighting back to back and side by side. Reading his body language is second nature to her. But as she stares at him now, she's clueless.

"I love Serah!" Snow repeats. Lightning feels her eyes bug, confusion filling every molecule of her exhausted mind.

"I...know?" It comes out as a question not because she questions the veracity of the statement, but the point of it. "Did you come to my house at 3:30 in the morning to tell me that you love Serah? Because I gotta tell you Snow, I'm starting to think you've taken one too many hits to the head."

"No," he shakes his head. Then he nods, "Yes." Now she's concerned. Confusion and disorientation are signs of concussion. But he doesn't seem injured in any way. If he were drunk, she'd be able to smell it on him. Not to mention that being drunk might provide a reason for this odd and disconcerting behavior. Not an excuse, mind; but a reason. Alcohol has a tendency to make bad ideas seem fantastic, especially in the middle of the night. She knows this from unfortunate experience.

But he's stone sober and nonsensical at her doorstep in the middle of the night for no discernible reason. "Can I come in? It's cold out here."

Now that he mentions it, she realizes that she's freezing. It's the middle of winter after all and she's in her pajamas and bare feet standing with the frigid air pouring into her house. Her feet are numb from the blasting cold air. Her legs and arms burn with the cold. She shivers and bounces from foot to foot as she steps aside and motions him in with the hand holding her Edged Carbine. He steps through the door and she locks it behind him.

"Gonna shoot me?" Snow jokes as he shrugs out of his coat and hangs it on the coat rack. She blinks a few times, stumped until she follows his gaze to the weapon in her hand. Oh.

"I haven't decided." He laughs at that. The familiar sound warms her for a moment before she remembers that she's confused, tired and aggravated. "What the hell are you doing here Snow? It's the middle of the damn night!"

"Can I sit down?" He stands there looking at his feet in her hallway, looking for all the world like someone just kicked his damn puppy. She barks out an incredulous laugh, wonders how deep down the rabbit hole they are going to travel before she can go back to bed and crawl under her covers and go back to sleep.

"Yeah sure, why not? Have a seat." She doesn't bother to hide the sarcasm. Screw him if he can't deal with it. She gestures to the couch and watches as he slinks down onto it. She clicks the safety back on her Edged Carbine, looks around for a moment for a place to put it, realizes that there is no place to put it and just holds it. She turns her attention back to her uninvited guest.

He looks around the room, eyes roving over the ratty furniture, the crappy lamps, the concrete floors that still have no rugs. She feels her face flush with embarrassment at her shoddy living conditions before she gets angry all over again. What right did he have to come to her house and make her feel ashamed of her shitty house-keeping skills, or her miserable furniture? She'd been happily sleeping in her goddamn bed! "What the hell are you doing here, Snow?"

He looks at her and then glances away. She's starting to get really worried now. Even for him, this is screwed up behavior. "Would you sit down?" he asks and gestures to the couch next to him. "You're making me nervous." Her jaw drops.

"I'm making you nervous? Are you insane?" She starts pacing now to burn off the nervous energy. "Would you tell me what's going on before I change my mind and shoot you after all?"

He sits on the couch and picks at a small hole in the knee of his pants. His leg bounces up and down. He drums his fingers on his kneecaps. He grinds his teeth. He won't look at her. He opens his mouth once or twice in an aborted effort to speak before snapping it shut again. She feels her anxiety grow with each second of tense silence. Whatever is going on here can't be good.

Nothing good happens in the middle of the night. Not to her. Ever. It's, like, a rule she lives by.

She decides to try a different tactic. She pads over to him on numb, bare feet, places her Edged Carbine on the crappy table beside the crappy couch, kneels before him so she can meet his eyes and says, "Did something happen to Serah? Snow?"

Snow shakes his head, remains silent and her patience disappears. She stands up and stamps her foot, "If something has happened to my sister and you're dicking around instead of telling me, I WILL shoot you! Do you understand me?"

"Serah is fine," Snow says and Lightning feels the knot inside her untwist. "Serah is wonderful." Are they back to this again? He really did come at oh three thirty to wax poetical about her sister.

"I know. You love Serah." She is frustrated, not bitter. She hopes that it sounds that way. "So what the hell are you doing here?"

"Aren't you listening?" She stares at him wide-eyed and then she rushes forward and grabs his head, yanks off his bandana and runs her fingers over his skull looking for injuries. On Snow's most irritating day, he's never made this little sense before. There must be something wrong with him.

"What happened Snow?" she asks. She waits. There's a new knot of worry forming in her gut. How did he manage to get himself injured? "Where are you hurt?" He grabs her wrists and pulls them away from his head and down to his chest. He looks up at her to meet her eyes and she sees something there that makes her whole body heat and cool, flush and pale at once.

Oh God!

"Don't you get it Light?" He threads his fingers through hers and she pulls her hands to extricate them from his grip. He holds firm. "Serah is wonderful, and I love her, but..."

"Shut up!" She says and yanks her hands away from him, feels his blunt nails cut a groove into her flesh from the force of their separation. She needs to get as far away from him as possible. Obviously he's lost his mind somehow. Something has possessed him, or hijacked his brain. "Don't you dare say anything right now!"

"I have to." She shakes her head at him.

"No. You don't. You can't. You shut up and get the hell out of my house right now!" She stands on the far side of the room and points at her door. "You go home to your fiancée. My sister! And you keep your promise to make her happy."

"I can't," he says, sounding bereft. Like he's been trying all along to do just that and it isn't working.

"Oh yes you can. Whatever this is Snow, it doesn't mean anything! NOTHING!" She feels like she's going to throw up all over the floor. She wonders for a moment if maybe not putting down rugs was just an act of really excellent foresight. Because puke stinks and it's a pain in the ass to clean out of rugs. She's learned that one the hard way raising a teenage sister.


"You shut up," she points at him. She runs fingers through her hair. (Her tangled, un-brushed hair.) "I mean it." She chokes on the last word, feels hysteria frothing up inside her. She can't do this! She storms into her kitchen without giving him a second glance. She needs a drink! She feels hot tears burning in her eyes and she sniffles and snorts once as she pulls out a glass and pours out a tall glass of...something foul that Fang gave her on their journey. She swallows, gags, and swallows another mouthful. She's trembling all over, only not from the cold anymore. She feels his hand on her shoulder and she shrugs him off, slams her glass down hard enough to slosh the drink over the top and spill it all over her hand, turns around and shoves him as hard as she can. He stumbles back two steps.

"What the hell are you thinking?" She yells. "How can you do this to m...my sister?" How can you do this to me? How dare you ever mention this to me? How dare you come to my house and tear all the scabs off all my wounds? She steps forward and pokes a finger in his chest. "Serah deserves better than this Snow!" That she means. "You promised..."

The words break like glass on concrete. She inhales a breath that becomes a sob. She buries her face in her hands. She needs to pull herself together. This won't do. What the hell is happening here? There is no world where this is fair or acceptable. She hasn't done anything to deserve this sort of treatment.

"Lightning," Snow whispers and steps toward her. Her heartbreak disappears into the inferno of her infinite rage. Anger settles her, gives her a focus. She clenches a fist and lets it fly, delivers a right hook that sends Snow flailing into the cobbled together pile of wood that serves as her kitchen table. He lands on his back on the table and it collapses into toothpicks and kindling beneath him. The clatter and bang of furniture breaking makes her feel great. She refuses to wince as he rolls his head from side to side, sits up and shakes it off like a wet dog. She stares at him for a moment as he groans, sits up and rubs his jaw. He hauls himself back to his feet, plucks a few splinters from his pants, turns and gives her his best smirk. "Nice table."

She fights the smile that tugs at her mouth, presses instead on her right pinky with her left hand. She gasps at the unexpected fiery pain and Snow steps forward again. She steps back, refusing to allow him to get near her, and he holds his hands up in a surrendering gesture before saying, "Can I see your hand? Please?"

"It's fine." She replies, turns around and grabs her glass and downs the foul liquor inside it. The awful crap burns its way down her throat to land like a hot mess in her empty stomach.

He stands beside her and looks at her rapidly swelling and bruising finger. "It's broken." He slips the fingers of his left hand beneath her palm and lifts the hand, manipulates the pinky and ring finger until she winces. "It's a boxer's fracture. You need ice. And to learn how to punch."

"I know how to punch." She yanks her hand from his grasp and jerks open the freezer door to grab the ice bucket.

"I beg to differ. People who know how to punch, know how to injure their opponents and not themselves. People who don't know how to punch, break their own fingers."

"Get the hell out of my house Snow!" She grabs the dirty dishtowel and fills it with a half dozen ice cubes before balling it up and putting it on hand. The cold makes the pain flare up and she groans at the contact. God, she hates him right now! She really wishes she could go back to hating him all the time.

"Where's your first aid kit?" Snow asks, ignoring her outrage.

"Just GET OUT!" She hollers. She can't do this with him in her house. He's managed to upend her life in under twenty minutes. He ignores her shouting.

"Look Light, you need to stabilize those fingers or you'll make the injury worse. So stop being a stubborn bitch and tell me where your first aid kit is! You know what? Never mind!" He throws his hands up and storms out of the kitchen; she hears the telltale slam of the door.

She stands agog for a moment before snapping her jaw shut. Snow hasn't called her names since...the Purge. Since before their journey together. Before they got to know one another at all. He may not even have called her names then. (At least, not to her face.) She heaves a shaky sigh, chews on her bottom lip for a moment, dumps the ice out of her towel into her sink and feels all her barriers start collapsing. Her insides are wobbling like jello. She turns the water on, grabs her dirty glass from the counter and the sponge and scrubs the foul liquor from the inside and outside of the glass.

Her whole body is shaking and her eyes are burning. She wipes at them with the back of her left hand, feels the sob that's been building inside her tear her apart on its way out. She holds her breath to stop this madness but the next gut-wrenching moan breaks through the dam she's erected and is all the more painful for it. It's like an explosion in her chest that sucks her breath and will from her.

She slides to her knees on the miserable, stained linoleum, presses her forehead to the pressboard of the cabinet and weeps. Large, mournful, painful cries that make her feel like she's turning inside out. She thumps her head against the cabinet, feels the small pain blossom on her forehead and decides that she likes the distraction. Finds that the physical pain distracts her from the internal ones and quells the sadness. She lifts her head and thumps it again, this time harder.

Each thump gives her back some control, lets her forget her sorrow in favor of the pain. She's breathing hard now, but she's got some control back. The tears have stopped overflowing, but they still blur her vision as they pool in her eyes. She needs more pain. More control. She looks at her broken hand, now swelling and turning red and blue with bruising. She clenches the fist, feels the pain all the way up to her shoulder and raises it to thump against the cabinet.

A hand grabs hers before it makes contact and she startles, yelps and kicks out, catching her assailant the knee and forcing him to join her on her linoleum floor.

"What the hell are you doing?" Snow yells at her.

"What the hell are you doing HERE?" She'd heard him leave. She knows she did. She should have locked the goddamn door. What was she thinking? "You left! Why are you back?"

Snow looks confused, then his face softens in that frustrating and endearing way . "I was looking for your first aid kit!" She can't look at him anymore. He's shredded all her defenses and he'll see right through her. She looks away from him stares at her toenails. The polish looks a bit dull, and there's a chip in the paint on her big toenail. She needs to fix her feet. She looks like a mess. "Did you really think I'd just leave you here when you hurt yourself?" His voice is so soft. He may as well grab a knife and gut her now. It would be kinder.

Snow doesn't wait for an answer. Or wait for her to look at him for that matter. He stands up, moves around behind her and says, "Come on. Up you come." He lifts her to her feet and steps away knowing that touching her is a bad idea. She stands like a moron in the middle of her kitchen while Snow picks up the first aid kit from where it fell on the floor during his 'tumble' and looks around her ruined kitchen. The table is a pile of debris. The single chair doesn't look like it would hold his weight. "Alright. Living Room it is then." He looks at her and says, "After you."

She stares at him for a moment like he's some alien from another planet rather than a man she's known for the better part of a year. She cannot understand why he has chosen to upset their universe in this manner. She also can't think very clearly with the pain emanating from her right hand. She precedes him into the living room, flicks on the overhead light and plops down on the couch. The piece of crap creaks and groans under her weight and she's pretty sure a spring just broke and stuck her in her ass. Snow strolls in after her, gives the 'coffee table' the stink eye before shoving it aside with one foot and sitting on the floor. He holds out his hand palm up and looks at her expectantly. "May I?"

She snarls at him and he abandons his attempts at civility and grabs her by the wrist to examine her fingers. "Nice job you did here." He manipulates her pinky finger and pain flares through her hand up to her forearm. She stiffens but doesn't give him the satisfaction of wincing. He still glances up at her and whispers, "Sorry." He repeats the action with her ring finger. The movement hurts but nowhere near as much. "Looks like you got lucky and only broke the little one."

"Real lucky," she mumbles. He smirks at her, lifts those too blue eyes to her and she looks away. She's too angry at him to let him smooth things over right now.

"Well, yeah actually. You're really lucky you only broke the one. I know how fix that metacarpal. If you'd broken the first or second metacarpals, we'd be looking for a surgeon at 4 o'clock in the morning."

"You know what would have been really lucky?" He looks at her, curious. "If my asshole brother-in-law to be hadn't decided to wake me up at 3:15 in the frigging morning just to see if he could get me to punch him in the face and break my hand." He narrows his eyes at her before letting the whole scowl melt away into his most dazzling smile. The smile that kills her every time.

"Yep. That's it. You found me out, Light. I just really wanted to break your hand today." He rifles through the first aid kit until he comes up with a painkiller. "Take this. You're going to need it." She plucks the pill from his fingers and dry swallows it. The pill leaves a bitter taste in her mouth and she scowls. Snow laughs at her and she scowls more. He gets very serious.

"This is going to hurt." He presses on the bone a bit and she feels like she might throw up. Stars explode in front of her eyes and she thinks she might have shouted. When it's over she's panting and clammy. Snow looks worse than she feels but remains professional. He turns back to the first aid kit and pulls out tape.

"I'm going to tape your pinky to your ring finger. But you're probably going to want to go to a doctor tomorrow to make sure you don't need surgical repair. Or a better splint."

"Hmmm," she grunts. She can't speak right now anyway. Snow layers padding between her fingers and slowly wraps the tape around the two, careful not to constrict circulation. She watches him as he works, blue eyes fixated on her fingers. She feels his fingers slipping over hers, smoothing tape on each pass. He rips the tape off with his teeth and secures it, fingers twisting around hers in soft twirling caresses.

Silence hangs like an axe.

"Lightning..." No! She stands up and bumps into him in her struggle to get away. "Lightning," he repeats to her retreating back.

"Don't!" She stops at the far side of the room . "Just...just go home Snow." He stands and takes a step towards her. "Why would you do this?" She asks. "What's the point?"

"How can I not do this?"

"What did you think would happen here?" She asks and starts pacing. "Really. What?" She holds her arms out. "Did you think that..." She can't even finish the sentence. It's too hard to think about, let alone to speak about. "Why did you have to do this?"

"I love you."

"Oh god." She might throw up. She puts her good hand over her mouth. She feels the liquor and painkiller swirl together in her gut and thinks that she might just puke everything up onto the concrete in her living room. "No you don't!"

"Don't tell me what I feel!" He steps towards her and she takes another retreating step. "I lo..."

"DON'T!" she yells. "Don't say it again. Not ever!" Her stomach cramps and she presses her broken hand into the knotted pain in her gut. "You don't love me. You love Serah."

"I do love Serah." And god does that have to hurt too? What the hell is wrong with her?

"That's right. So what the hell are you doing here?"

"I love Serah. But I'm In love with you."

She holds her hands over her ears too late to block out the sound of it. "Don't say that! It's not true." She looks up at him and he looks broken. "Whatever it is you think you feel is not real!"


"Whatever you saw in me is only a shadow of what you see in Serah. Don't you get it? She's the best part of me!" She feels like she's going to fall apart. "Go home to Serah."

"Tell me you don't love me and I'll leave." Her whole body is going to split in half. She's shaking so hard that she feels like she might fly apart at any moment. Moreover, she hopes that she flies apart. She wants to melt into the floor, or run screaming into the night. She can't take this.

"You bastard!" She whispers. Then louder she says, "You have no right!"

"I have no right to find out if you love me?"

"No!" She wants to punch him again. If he gets any closer, she's going to hit him again, broken hand or no. "You don't. Because you belong to someone else. And not just anyone else. You belong to MY SISTER! Get out of my house!"

"I can't..."

"Go home," she says. She steps closer to him, pouring every ounce of hope she has into her request. He looks away from her, face creased and crumpled. "Go home and just look at Serah again. You love HER. She's the one you want to marry and you'll see that and remember that as soon as you look at her. Whatever craziness you think you feel right now is just that. It's crazy. You'll go home, and we'll forget this ever happened. And you'll marry my sister and you'll be both be happy."

Snow sniffs once and pins her with his knowing gaze. "What about you Lightning?" She turns away from him. She wants to grab her weapon and kill him for doing this to her. For waking her from her rest and mounting this assault upon her in the middle of the night. She goes to walk out on him but he grabs her by the arm and spins her around to look at him. "What about how you feel, huh? You going to tell me you don't love me?" He looks at where his fingers press bruises into her arm and loosens his grip, smoothes his fingers over the reddening skin. "Tell me that, and I'll do what you want."

She shrugs out of his grip and steps away from him. "Get out of my house."

"That's not the right answer," he whispers.

"You bastard!" she hisses and throws another punch with her broken hand. He catches her wrist before the hit connects. They stare at each other for an infinite moment before he closes his eyes, pulls her fingers to his mouth and lays a kiss on the spot where tape meets skin. She gasps once, closes her eyes at the feel of his lips on her skin before remembering that he's insane and determined to pollute her with his lunacy. She struggles out of his grip until he releases her and they stand toe to toe.

"You want me to tell you?" She asks. She steels herself. She can do this. Lying prettily has always been easy for her.

"No," he shakes his head and sounds so broken. "No. I need you to tell me, Lightning." His eyes beg her. She takes a deep breath and decides to give him what he wants.

"Alright. The only thing that we'll ever give one another Snow, is that bruise on your face, and this broken hand. The only thing between us, is Serah."

"What if I don't want to be with Serah anymore?" He asks and she feels like he's just gut punched her. All her air explodes out of her. She takes a moment, stands straight and looks him dead in his eyes.

"Then that's your choice. But if you think that I would take something from my sister, you're out of your mind. You leaving her won't change anything. You were never mine. And you never will be." She slides her broken hand over the bruise on his face from where her fist connected earlier. "I won't tell you anything because it will never matter. This," she presses on the bruise with her broken hand until they both cringe, "is all we'll ever have."

He covers her hand with his own and turns his face into her palm to lay a kiss there. She watches, feels her heart drop into her stomach so she can throw it up later with the liquor and painkillers. "You don't want me," she whispers. "I'm broken. Serah is so much...more than I'll ever be. And she loves you."

"I love Serah," he whispers into her palm.

"I know you do." She says, feels the first ray of hope since this nightmare started.

"I love you." How is it possible that the three most sought after words in the universe can destroy her?

"It doesn't matter." And it doesn't. "You'll get over it." He will. She knows that he will go home, kiss Serah. Maybe make love to her. Serah will sigh at him and cuddle with him and he'll remember that Lightning is just the prototype model. The broken, buggy piece of crap. He'll have some moments of 'what if' but he'll marry Serah and never have a moment's regret. And Serah will be happy. And that is all that matters to her.

"What about you Light?" He whispers to her. His right hand snakes its way around her hip, his left hand holds her right hand to his face and somehow she is in Snow's arms. She feels like she's suffocating. She feels like she's flying.

"I'll be fine," she gasps as he pulls her to him. "I'm always fine."

"Is that why you're living in this dump? Because you're always fine?" When did he learn to see right through her? How the hell is it possible that this...do-nothing asshole has managed to know her better than anyone else? "Is that why you have broken furniture? Is that why I never see you anymore? Why you won't see Serah? Is that why you've stopped returning Hope's messages? Because you're always fine?"

She can feel his breath on her face. How the hell did he get this close?

She snakes her left hand between them and puts it on his chest. Presses to keep him away from her. She needs distance. "You need to go home. This can't happen. This will never happen, Snow. Please go home."

"Lightning," he murmurs, presses his forehead against hers, exhales a breath in a hot gush of air over her face. She closes her eyes, twists her head away.

"If you really love me, you won't do this to me," it's a cheap shot. She doesn't care. She can't stand his hands on her. She can't live without his hands on her. "I've never asked you for anything Snow. I'm asking you to leave my house and not to ever bring this up again." Snow's grip on her hip lessens. The fingers covering hers disappear. "Go home to Serah. Don't hurt her." He exhales and her hair moves. She can feel him tilting his head, his nose sliding against hers. She whispers into his mouth before his lips brush hers: "Please don't do this to me."

He releases her and steps away. She keeps her eyes closed, her face turned away from him. She wants to weep. She wants to scream. She wants to collapse on the floor. She hears him walk over to the coat rack. She hears him slide into his overcoat and walk to the front door. She glances at him, sees his slumped shoulders, his dejected demeanor. She exhales and turns her back to the door, unable to watch him leave, unable to look at him again.

She hears the lock on the front door click in release. She closes her eyes and holds her breath.

Three large steps, a hand on her arm whipping her around, fingers in her hair and he says, "just once," before he swoops down and scalds her with his mouth. She's so surprised that she can't even protest as his tongue traces her lips, her teeth, her tongue. One long perfect moment and she's so stunned that she doesn't have time to protest before he pants into her mouth. "I'm sorry. Sorry." He kisses her once more because he's always been a bit of a liar and then he's gone and she's hot and cold and standing barefoot on the concrete floor of her miserable living room floor.

She touches her swollen mouth with her broken hand, looks around her miserable house, looks at the clock on the wall to find that it's 4:17 am. Her entire life has been destroyed in less than one hour. That might be a record, but she's not certain. She walks to the door and locks it and listens to the silence of his absence. She clicks off the living room light and walks back into her bedroom. She slips between blankets long since gone cold in her absence and decides that she needs a change. She licks her still swollen mouth and finds that she can still taste him. She feels a tear burn from the corner of her eye, to slide down and disappear into the pillow of her hair. She wipes at her eyes with her broken hand. Tomorrow morning she'll move closer to Fang and Vanille (oh how she misses them) and Cocoon. There are still people who might need her help. There's got to be someplace where she can be useful. She needs a change of scenery. Snow and Serah will get married and maybe one day, they can all be a family again.

Maybe one day, that won't kill her inside.

She closes her eyes and sighs, and longs for the thrum of battle.


This started out as a one shot and it was meant as such. However...the story continued on and Lightning really wanted to keep it moving and what Lightning says, goes!

I have held this story off this site because so MANY PEOPLE keep thinking I'm going to pair these two up in Evolution. I'm not.