Title: N- Negotiations

Rating: T

Pairings: Luke/Selena, Kasey/Kathy

Game: Animal Parade

Disclaimer: I own none of the characters. Natsume does.


"Negotiations are the key to a happy marriage."

Luke can't even remember how often his Dad told him that over the past four years he's been married. Doesn't really want to remember. Can't remember even if he wants you because Selena's chewing him out again. Although maybe chewing him out is a stretch, after all she's not shouting, or even yelling. Maybe it's because Lucy's fast asleep in the other room. Maybe it's because raising her voice is so overrated. Maybe it's because the only people Luke ever knew to raise their voice in an argument was his dad, Kasey and Kathy. 'And aren't their fights legendary.' Luke thought remembering the few verbal boxing matches the blonde and brunet had had; Selena was preaching still and Luke found out the hard way that the easiest way to stop one of their "discussions" was to say nothing at all.

"Luke, are you even listening to me?" Selena asked, her voice never rose above it's hushed tone, the house they lived in had walls of cardboard and even if one of them rose their voice above a whisper Lucy would wake up and asked if they were arguing again. 'Poor things been conditioned.' He thought bitterly. Luke could feel Selena's eyes on him and he nodded slowly. "Then what did I just say?"

'Shit,' Luke stared at her blankly, "Ah, you, you said something..." Selena sighed, completely exasperated, and slumped against her pillow. "Something about...how...I did something wrong." Selena sat up a moment, looked at him then lay back down on her side.'Shit, shit, shit,' Her back was to him again, not a good sign. "And that something wrong is not...listening? When we have these...conversations?"

"Just forget it Luke." She replied thickly, the blue haired carpenter reached out a hand but she slipped just out of reach. He pulled his hand back and placed it on his lap, studying the calluses on his fingers.

He got each and every one from hard work. Dedication to his craft. Spending hours a day swinging his axe, not caring if it hit air or skin. Maybe he should try showing that much dedication towards his relationship, maybe he shouldn't.

"Goodnight 'Lena," He says softly. But she's already asleep. He can tell just by watching her side rise and fall, fall and rise, that she's dreaming of things that don't include this rundown house or this small town. She's dreaming of being a professional dancer, not one who gets paid minimum wage (if even that) at a bar that gets the same patrons every day. The worst thing she's dreaming of right now is a life without him.


"Dammit Kasey tell me what's going on!" Kathy yells, he looks up at her and smiles, it's the smile of a sadist, it's the smile of an adult appeasing a child, it's the smile of her husband every time she asks this question. She hates that she doesn't know where he's going at night, never quite sure if he's going to come home at all, if ever. That's why she cornered him tonight, tonight while Holden and Regan were at their Grandpa's house. Tonight where she could use any and all methods she knew to get the information out of him. Kathy already ruled out a mistress; frankly, they had far too much "alone time" for that to be an issue. It couldn't be drinking, they both tried to quit and were doing fairly well at it too. It couldn't be work. He hardly had work to do in the middle of winter.

She frowns as he tilts his head to the side. "There's nothing going on Kathy."

"Like hell there is!" It's Kasey's turn to frown, although on him it's more of a scowl. Their both in bed, had been about to enjoy a lovely evening with each other when she had stopped. Stopped so she could start some ridiculous...intervention. He sat back on his haunches and she propped herself up to look at him. "Just tell me, wasn't there something about honesty in our vows?"

"Was there? I thought it was privacy."

"I'm not joking Kasey." He groaned and sat up pulling on his old tank top and the pair of sweat pants that had been thrown onto the bedpost. "Please Kasey. You're going to make me beg aren't you?" Kasey shrugs as he stands up and stretches. 'Fuck,' Kathy thinks as he walks towards the door, he's leaving again and she watches him leave opens her mouth to protest only to hear the door slam behind him.

Gritting her teeth, she stands up and goes to the window, watching him leave to where ever it is he's running off too. It's hard keeping appearances like this. Like her family is more put together then she thinks. And as she falls back onto the bed and pulls a pillow over her head she can't help but wonder if every family in this town is facing the same kind of problem. She wants to hit herself. Kathy's being pathetic and she knows it. Kasey her husband, husband. She has every reason not to pry but she did and where did it get her. 'Kicked in the teeth.' Kathy thinks as she snaps off the light and tries to get some sleep.

Maybe he is cheating on her.

No, he can't be. It's impossible. Completely impossible. Improbable? No. Nothing's improbable. Kathy twitches slightly and snaps the light back on.


It's five o'clock the next night when Selena finally decides to talk to Luke. It was Sunday, a holiday, and Luke would like to think that when Selena went to go see her parents it raised her spirits, or maybe just made her more laid back.

It didn't.

"I'm taking Lucy." She states during dinner, meal untouched. Luke looks up and gulps down a mouthful of salad. "I don't know exactly when we'll be back, but we will." He bobs his head, it's the reaction she wasn't prepared for. He can tell that much by seeing the momentary shock in her lilac eyes but just as quickly as it appears, it's gone. Her thick ebony eyelashes lowering like a visor, masking her emotions because that was what Selena did best.

"To your parents?" Luke asks, hoping against hope that what that little voice in his head is telling him is wrong; that she is really going to her parents. That she's given up on her dreams to chase a new one. One were the two of them could be happy. One where they raised their child together, form a relationship that wasn't formed by temporary feeling. One where they could negotiate and reason. But he knows, knows by the way she fidgets in her seat that thats not what she meant at all. And as if to drive the knife deeper, she shakes her head.

She's going to chase her dreams with or without him.

Luke wants to say no so badly, to say that Lucy should stay with him because he was her father. He had a steady job, a solid place to stay. But marriage is all about negotiations so he pushes back his chair and smiles up at her, "Let me help you pack."

And for once in the past four years they've been together, Selena smiles.


The moment Kasey gets through the door Kathy doesn't know whether to beat him, castrate him, or kiss him.

She decides to play it safe and stays seated on the couch, the kids are fast asleep in their own rooms, she smiles slightly as Kasey leans down and kisses her cheek, squeezing her shoulders in his own way of showing that he missed her. Then Kathy remembers that she's supposed to be angry so she scowls. "About time you came home."

"Sorry Kat," Kasey murmurs as he slumps down in the place beside her. "I missed you if it makes you feel any better."

"Are you cheating on me?" It's out of her mouth before she can control it and she wants to smack herself. Kasey's warm chestnut eyes widen slightly and Kathy stares right at him. Silently cursing her light skin as she felt her cheeks redden.

"Is that a serious question?" When Kathy nods he laughs, a loud barking noise that resonates throughout the house. Finally he regains control of himself and grins at her. "It's nothing like that Kathy."

"Then what is it like?" Kasey's smile melts off his face and his eyes grow distant, haunted and that look scares her, scares her because she's never seen this face before, "Kasey?"

"I just...I need to clear my mind sometimes, that's all." He looks at her again; eyes back to normal. She nods, it's good enough for her- for now. She'll chisel the rest out of him sooner or later, but for now she leans against him and kisses the tip of his nose. Kasey wraps an arm around her waist and gazes at her; his eyes are warm again and she wants to breath out a sigh of relief but she holds it in. "I love you Kathy, just remember that hmm?"

"You're saying that like you're goin' somewhere." Kasey shrugs.

"Never know what might happen." Kathy frowns slightly; dying to ask more questions but she doesn't. He's not cheating on her, thats enough information for tonight.

After all marriage is all about negotiations even if it's with yourself.


A/N: Jeez this was a tough one, writing for Selena and Luke as a married couple is really difficult -.-, anyway; feed back is appreciated.