Not really sure where this came from, but Light/Fang/Vanille are totally my OT3 right now and I decided that Vanille should have followed Lightning toward the beginning of the game instead of Hope because he sucks worse than a hooker with no teeth. This was written in a rush, so I apologize if my intention isn't clear enough.

Also, Vanille/Lightning is a way awesome pairing and there need to be more fic of them.

LASTLY, this is sort of AU, I guess, in the sense that Vanille is taking Hope's place (or switching with, I s'pose) and it's set just after the battle with Odin, which would drastically change the happenings of the game and such, so. Okay. :)


It feels like mosaic glass has been placed over her eyes as she looks around, and the rain doesn't help her to see. She's cold, the water is sinking into her skin like dry soil and her bones grip onto the chill until her blood circulates it throughout her whole body and she's freezing. Gravel is pricking at the bare skin of her back like a bed of uneven nails.

Her forehead is hot. On fire.

Her fingers weakly clench and she finds that she can't lift her hand to inspect why it feels as though flames are climbing from the wisps of her fringe and the rain isn't putting it out.

Hands firmly push on her shoulders for a moment before they briefly, gently shake her and she responds with soft noises that aren't words. It's her attempt at asking them to stop because everything hurts and she can't so much as see who they are, but she's hoping they're kind enough to listen to her.

They start speaking to her. Her brain feels too large for her skull and not only is her vision foggy, but her hearing as well. Her eyebrows reach toward one another in the middle of her face as she tries in a frustratingly vain attempt to understand the words coming from this person's mouth, or even to see the mouth those words are leaving.

" - with the others -"

" - shouldn't have followed me -"

There's a hand at the back of her head and she hisses with her tongue between her teeth as it cradles her forward. Technicolor blots pepper her watercolor vision, her stomach lurches and for a fleeting moment she thinks she's going to throw up, but then those fingers release the pressure on the back of her head and tie a red - she thinks - cloth with a tight knot at her temple. The dots fade away and all she sees is a mess of color again.

Rough, partially gloved hands rest on her cheeks, like an old open book split and separated down the middle and calloused thumbs stroke her sore cheekbones. Whatever is being said is extremely soft, pleading.

"Come on, come on -"

"Focus -"

"Stay with me, here -"

She strains to chain the words together to make sensible sentences and the pain in her head throbs harder at the effort.

" - Can't deal with this -"

They're standing now.

" - 've already lost Serah -"

Her squinted eyes snap open at that and she roughly shovels her palms into the ground below her to try and gain the leverage to sit up. Her muscles are worn rubber bands that are stretching too far for their limit and she pathetically crumples back down to the ground. Air rushes inside of her lungs the moment she gasps and her back arches off the ground, her body a drawn bowstring, tense with pain.

Everything hits her all at once and she begins to cry. Harsh, raw sobs until her body is limp again, and then the tears run faster in a marathon down her face.

Irrevocably in love with a military woman who has a vow to stay as far away as she can from everyone, other than her sister. Guilt robs her breath as she thinks of Serah.

Fang brings an overwhelming rush of self loathing over her and she wishes she never woke up, and it's the first real time that she's been ashamed of her Gran Pulse origin. This is all her fault.

"I'm sorry," is all she manages to breathe. She says it again and again, because she remembers, although she's lied and said she doesn't, and she knows who she's with and what she's done.

Lightning is hovering over her, trying to comfort her with the awkward hands of a guarded soldier and Vanille only cries harder.

- x -

When she wakes, the ground is shifting backwards underneath her. Trees are passing by and she's not just watching the clouds travel above her; she's moving too. It takes her a moment to register the hand under her knees and the other curved around her back, fingers digging a little uncomfortably into her ribs. A few strands of hair here and there are sticking out oddly from the makeshift bandage wrapped around her head, which has gathered an insanitary amount of dried blood. She's cuddled up to Lightning's chest and she notices the rain has stopped and it's no longer night. For a moment, Vanille wonders if the soldier slept at all and how long she's been carrying her.

Lightning didn't leave her behind. Vanille blinks and clings to the lapels on Lightning's sleeveless coat as something burrows deep inside her chest, snaking into veins before exploding somewhere in her heart. It's bittersweet, warm and cold at the same time because she sees both a gunblade strapped to the back of Lightning's thighs and a blue sari wrapped around a body that belongs to someone else. She's reaching for two outstretched hands, but the familiar one is a little too ghostly to firmly grasp and she's desperate to know if Fang is even alive.

Lightning knows the girl in her arms has woken up, though she chooses to ignore it for the sake of staying on the move. They lost too much time when Lightning's Eidolon had broken loose and managed to beat the blood and sense out of Vanille within a few minutes. She tips her chin up a bit higher than usual to avoid the conversation she knows is coming.

"I can walk," Vanille murmurs softly, fingers unclenching from the collar of Lightning's coat.

"I'm pretty sure you suffered a concussion less than eight hours ago," comes the stoic reply, military sculpted arms pulling Vanille a little closer. Oddly possessive and protective. Vanille feels sick. "You're not walking."

"I didn't -" Vanille says so quickly she nearly clips the end of the other girl's reply. "I mean, I'm fine. Was just a, um, a - a shock," she offers Lightning a dimpled smile and laughs a bit at her terrible pun, but the humor isn't appreciated.

Lightning grounds her teeth, aquamarine eyes glaring at the horizon ahead of them and Vanille wonders if she was like this with Serah. If she protected her like this, cared with her actions and hurt with her words.

She obviously wouldn't be able to ask Snow.

"This isn't a joke. You could have died," she answers lowly, eyes still trained on the line between the ground and the sky. "You're just a kid, I can't have your blood on my hands, Vanille." Her eyes flicker briefly to the ones looking up at her and she sighs as she looks away.

"You have lots of blood on your hands," Vanille answers quietly, lowering her head. Feeling guilty for acknowledging the murders (Lightning would call them something else out loud, but Vanille knows she's aware of what they really are) she's had to commit for her sake, for her sister, for anyone she needed to protect, regardless of the fact that she thinks she's incapable of saving anyone. Even herself.

Lightning takes a breath and shakes her head, hoisting them up onto a small ledge with Vanille still tucked safely against her chest.

"But not yours," she says boldly. "Not you."

She hears the words, sees them come out of Lightning's mouth, knows they're for her and that they mean something more than she'd ever have the nerve to say. But she can't help but hear them in Fang's voice, lazy smile on her lips and the guilt sucks the light right out of her own eyes.