He'd been suffering silently for who knows how long.
Too intimidated to let her know he'd been poisoned. He didn't want to be a burden. Maybe it would wear off. If he could push through it with no help he'd be stronger, able to stand up to Snow-
But it soon became an issue as to whether or not he could stand up period.
Hope clutched his chest where the wound lay, fresh and fizzing with something acidic and burning and he didn't want to look-
He hears her asking him something over the throb of his blood pounding in his ears, and finally sinks to his knees, groaning and crying like the baby he was trying not to be. Lightning is a blur in front of him; she checks his eyes, which are clouding over; and she's recognized the symptoms, because she's swearing and holding him steady.
"Where is it? Hope-!" His mouth is filling with an unpleasant, fuzzy, saltiness, inkiness coating his tongue, and he thinks he might be too far gone already. Unable to get a response out of him, Lightning begins patting him down roughly, until her hands glance across his chest and evoke a guttural cry of intense pain. Again, she curses as she fumbles for an antidote that isn't there. She wastes no time and shoves him onto his back, ripping his shirt open and tucking a soft strand of pink hair out of place before moving and pressing her lips down over the puncture, drawing out the poison with careful sucking.
In his nauseous haze, a brief feeling of elation sweeps through him; her lips are soft, but firmed in their determination, quick, precise. The changing current of gentle and rough suction feels relaxing, the way wisps of feathery hair tickle his chest. If he closes his eyes and imagines hard enough, it could be a loving, prolonged kiss.
Lightning sits up and spits the poison to the side in disgust until it's all out, gagging at the taste. Her body is stronger, she's had practice building up resistances to the stuff, but it didn't change the fact that it tasted nasty.
Hope was feeling better already; at least he could see now, but he feels very weak and very sore. Before he can sit up, Lightning barks at him to wait, eyes full of warning.
"We're not done yet. It's been there a while so it's gone further and your blood flow will slow down if we don't go deeper fast."
He only feels a little guilty for inwardly encouraging (pleading) her to do whatever she wants to him, though he knows he can't completely blame it on his delirious state of mind. Lightning shuffles around somewhere to the side of him and re-emerges with the small knife she'd handed him not too long ago.
"This might sting a bit." She gives him little time to brace himself before shoving the tip under the broken skin and twisting. It is now that he realizes the soreness he's feeling is from how thick his blood feels, the pronounced feel of his veins in his arms and hands in particular. Hope whimpers under her touch, unaware if the cause is pain or something else.
"Tch...it's clotting too fast. Your heart is slowing down too much, Hope, stay with me-" Lightning sounds slightly frantic now and it worries him. "There's just a little left, hang in there, just-damn...Think of something like...how much you hate Snow!" She growls out desperately, pressing a healing spell right against him to try helping things along, "Think of anything that'll get your heart pumping, do whatever you have to do to-huh?"
Hope finds the strength to reach up, grab a fistful of pink tresses, and tug her forward until her surprised oh of a mouth is planted firmly over his, ceasing her husky, panicked cries. She can definitely tell the heat in his face is not solely from sickness anymore. His eyes are closed, expression of anguish melting into one of conflicting neediness and gratefulness, perhaps even a little apprehension in case she was going to push him away and really leave him for dead this time. Lightning is deathly still against him: he's already moving his mouth quite a bit and she's a deer in headlights. Discomfort sets in because she can tell it's his first kiss, and she feels like it's highly inappropriate, even though he was just trying to stay alive.
She looks anywhere but his face, because the kid's having the time of his life.
Beneath her hand, there is a definite stirring as his heartbeat throbs hard and fast in her open palm, and it's her turn to feel grateful: he'd gotten what he needed without her having to make the awkward choice of whether or not to play along. The only choice she had to make was what to do next, which was to pull away and finish fishing out the last stubborn drops of poison. She hesitates like she didn't before, because the first time she'd slipped into her element without worrying about anything but instinct.
This time she knows what her touch does to him and she'd rather not know, rather pretend they're still just partners working their way through.
Now though, she knows he's seeing her differently, but she'll worry about it later; he still needs treatment. Quickly blocking out the thoughts, she draws the last bit out of his skin and spits again. Hope's breath is even and back to normal, and she makes him wait a moment before moving to let his blood start flowing normally again. Eventually she helps him stand up, and he's rubbing the back of his head and staring at the ground sheepishly.
"Hey." She puts her hands on her knees to talk to him at a more comfortable level, "You've got to tell me if you're seriously hurt. It's reckless and a danger to leave it untreated. To both of us." She adds, to hopefully cut how concerned she sounds. Hope tries to look up at her, fidgeting with his gloves and looking positively apologetic. To be fair, she was aware she wasn't the easiest person to approach.
Not that that had stopped him from-
"Light, I'm...s-sorry about-you know."
"I understand about wanting to be tough," Lightning continues, hoping to avoid the subject, "but ignoring your body is not-"
Try as she might to appear unflappable, she can feel the pink tingling in her cheeks. As the boy stammers uncomfortably, she relents: Hope is a good kid. What he did in a moment of debilitating sickness shouldn't drive an unnecessary wedge between them, and threaten their communication.
Regardless of what the driving force really was.
"Don't worry. It was a working strategy, and quick thinking given your position." All she had to do was rationalize it, put it in survival terms rather than personal, and it did wonders to clear most of the tension between them. Hope could even now meet her gaze with a tiny half-grin.
"Yeah." She turned and started moving along the path again, Hope ambling along after her. "Good work."
A/N: Just a little Lightning/Hope cuteness~. They're such an awkward and cute duo in the game that it's one of those rare ones I don't want to write smut of. XD Lightning of course is so aloof and cool and Hope, gah~, he's such a sweet kid. It's hard keeping Lightning IC because she cares, but in her own distant way. XD Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read, and it would mean so much to me if you felt like leaving a review!