Nodding apologetically, Terra walked forward towards the hidden sanctum as she lowered her gaze, her nails digging into the sides of her thumbs due to the age-old habit that could never be broken. The soft sound of her boots making contact with the surface water seemed to compliment the abandoned sanctuary's construction—here, in a place no one knew except for the two of them who stumbled upon it accidently, making this to be a location used for the most clandestine of purposes; here, where the white pillars captured the magnificence of the lunar eclipse of their meeting; and here, where the sweet scent of lilacs perfumed the quiet air that captured the faint whispers of her anticipation. Her steps were slow and careful, though her position clumsier than usual, and she fought to keep down the rampant beating in her chest when she neared the other woman who waited for her in the middle of the site.
"I am sorry," she softly replied, gathering her hands for an absentminded prayer. "I have been a bit careless."
Yet, her somewhat attempt at regaining whatever poise she previously possessed was unsuccessful, if the way she lost focus as color flooded her cheeks: For she could feel Lightning's acute eyes surveying her from the centre of the little sanctuary—could perceive the punctual and definite nature behind those crossed arms and apparent candidness—and suddenly, her feet chose that moment to break off from her chain of command, to lock in place. It had been a while since they had last seen each other, never mind the notion of being alone without the constant variable of salvation, and her fingers trembled when she finally stood in front of the latter being. Her voice, she found, seemed much thicker as she found her seat beside her, under the curve of a pristine dome.
Lightning brought one leg over the other before she spoke, laying her gunblade to the side. "Inattention will make you falter."
"Y-Yes, of course."
"And so does hesitation."
Turning her head to her right, the older female stared straight at Terra with all the forthrightness one could ever muster; the other found that impatience was truly not embedded in her stance—only her keen perception on her apprehensive aura drove her to have the curt tone sharper. "But that doesn't explain the delay."
Terra hesitated before she said: "I was thinking about …" Wavering was sure to have been understated in the fashion she presented her words. "I was just thinking …"
Uneasily, she halted her broken train of phrases and looked down at her clasped fingers, mindful of Lightning's meticulous analysis of the entire cause of tardiness—however, the latter did not push her to speak about the thoughts that preoccupied her mind; rather, she simply looked at her bowed head and allowed the silence to ring louder than any of their voices, something Terra was grateful for while she collected her thoughts. And she must've truly looked like a fool: making their one time to be together to be burdened with ideas and uncertainties that took up whatever precious minutes they had sans the call of duty. Always, it had invariably been her to lose her end of the tie, her to retreat and run when Lightning had secured her since that fateful day, and the slight shift beside her only reinforced her need to fulfill her part of their bond. If she had anything else she needed to do as a priority, it was to speak and voice the thought that plagued her, to explain everything that had been obstacles to close the distance this very night.
"What is love?" she blurted, turning her flushed face in the other's direction. "What is it?"
Again: "What is love?" Terra awkwardly balled her hands into tight fists as she knit her brow. "I want to know."
"You mean to tell me that you're three hours late because of that?"
The rush of color on the former's cheeks accelerated at the frank inquiry, and she found herself to be a bigger fool than before, fluttering her eyes shut in dismay. Though she knew that a flaw was a flaw, she had not expected the older being's reaction to be so incredulously blunt, as if it was the most stupid thing in Gaia to be late because of that particular pondering. Perhaps, she simply was just hysterically silly—no serious answer would surely come from that, she concluded as she rapidly rose from her place, and Lightning was not one to ever deeply remark on that subject.
Strangely, her eyes felt heavy, and they stung in a way she could not bear to tolerate in front of the direct female. "I-I-I … I'm sorry. That was a dumb question," she barely managed to let out, gritting her teeth. "Let me just clear my head over there—"
"You're looking at her."
She froze, confused. "W-What?"
"The definition." Those lips, she soon discovered, were warm, as Lightning drew her closer for the briefest touch that radiated security, that had her back next to the other woman without resistance. Her voice, for the first time, reflected the mollification that was greater than any of the previous rarities Terra treasured in her heart, and yet, it showed that it was already obvious—the meaning of that sacred word. "You're looking at her."
Thus, Terra softened her gaze.
"Then, she is beautiful," she whispered, skimming the curve of a cheek. "She is truly beautiful.
She is the most beautiful of all."
And it was so.