Disclaimer: I own nothing, as per usual. Just having some fun in the post Shadow-arc Shadowverse!
Author's Notes: A companion piece to DezoPenguin's "I Didn't Know You Could Take It Literally", so read that first to understand this one. Seriously. It's a funny piece, and a good look at Vivio in this 'verse!
It was rare to see Lutecia Alphine in a bad mood.
As the closest thing she had to a regular partner, Victor Stormhawk could say with some degree of certainty that he had seen the woman in a bad mood. The problem was, when Lutecia was usually in a bad mood, it was a quiet thing; something that you could sense from her eyes and her voice, but otherwise it was usually a thing kept carefully locked away, under some form of control.
But the only thing he could figure was that today must have been really bad, because she was leaking.
Currently, she sat by herself in the cafeteria, leafing through the folder for tomorrow's mission. The aura around her would have made even a veteran Shadow back away fearing his life. While not exactly a veteran, Victor had a decent sense of self-preservation. But he also had a secret weapon.
"Hey, Alphine." Pulling up the chair next to her, he easily plopped down. "What's up? You've been reading the same line now for five minutes."
Lutecia didn't respond. Victor had the distinct impression that she wanted to be left alone. Shrugging to himself, he set down his tray and reached into his bag, rummaging a bit before he pulled out the one thing he knew would break through the woman's every defense. With no shame, he dangled the bottle of cherry Coke in front of the woman's face and waited.
It was slow, but it happened; Lutecia's eyes darted up, fixing on the bottle. Victor moved it lightly to the right, and her eyes followed; to the left, and once again a red gaze trailed it. Finally, grumbling, Lutecia snatched the beverage from the man's hand and opened it, drinking it. "Very funny, Storm."
The blonde chuckled, leaning back in his chair. Ever so slightly, the killing aura around the slim woman decreased. Slight, but noticeable. "I heard through the grapevine you missed your session this morning."
The summoner winced, setting down the bottle. "Ah," was her only response. Despite her best attempts to keep it quiet, it was no secret that Lutecia had been regularly seeing a therapist ever since her return from Mau Gram. For Victor, it was less of a surprise that she needed the counseling and more surprising to know she actually had a good track record of showing up for her appointments. Then again, he supposed the threat of sleeping on the couch was a big one with a girlfriend like Vivio Takamachi.
"Chief's going to be all over you if you don't make it up, you know."
"I know, I know." Lutecia grimaced. "I already called and arranged another meeting later today. I came in late, and I wanted to make up for missing the mission report."
"What happened? Forgot to set your alarm clock last night?"
He didn't expect her to go into details. Even now, nearly two years after her breakdown, Lutecia had a hard time fully sharing her problems and thoughts with the people around her. It was understandable; you could only repair so much damage in two years, even with a supportive lover, friends and family who cared, and a boss who bent over backwards to ensure you didn't go back out into the field unhinged. She was improving, but it would be a long, long time before she could open herself up without any fear or hesitation.
So Victor was surprised when she slumped back in her chair and sighed, flipping the report shut. "I got into a fight with Vivio."
"The kid?" He arched an eyebrow. "That's rare."
"Yeah, well. She has a temper when she gets mad enough." As Lutecia had learned in full detail this morning. "It's about the mission tomorrow." The summoner sipped from her Coke, wanting to wet her throat. "She wasn't happy that I couldn't tell her where I was going."
"Ahh." That explained it, then. Full of sympathy, Victor patted Lutecia on the shoulder. "So it wasn't your fault this time."
A groan. "I can't be blamed for the fact that our mission is sometimes kept under wraps. Whether she likes it or not, Vi is still a civilian. She could get the clearance if she wanted to, but it's strictly on a need to know basis." She blew out a long breath in frustration. "It's not that I didn't want to tell her. I just couldn't."
"I imagine she didn't like it either way."
Lutecia's responding shudder was answer enough. Still sympathetic, Victor lowered his hand. With a sigh, the summoner ran a hand through her hair. "I just don't understand her, sometimes," she admitted at last, her voice soft.
"Well, in her defense," Victor commented, "you have a bit of a track record when it comes to holding back details."
Another shudder from Lutecia. No doubt the thought had already crossed her mind, and being reminded of the fact by her on-again, off-again partner didn't help.
"I want to tell her," she muttered, taking another long gulp from her cherry Coke. "I really do. If I could, I would." She rubbed her eyes.
It was, Victor mused, an interesting little contradiction; Lutecia's anger and frustration wasn't born from the fight itself; her feelings came from her own guilt over the fact that as much as she wanted to tell Vivio, she couldn't do it.
"… It's annoying," the purple-haired woman murmured at last. "The one time I want to tell Vivio what's going on, I'm not allowed to."
They both ignored the fact that if one followed the rules closely, she never should have told Vivio she was a Shadow in the first place; that particular line in the book tended to be more of a suggestion than a fact for the agents, and they were allowed to make their own decision on whether or not to be honest about their job with their loved ones. For everyone who chose to keep quiet about it, another was openly honest.
Dismissing the thought, Victor scooped up Lutecia's folder. "My advice, Alphine? Crawl. Get her flowers, a stuffed animal, something. It won't fix the fight, but it will make things a bit easier."
Lutecia chuckled softly. "Advice from a man who's done it a few times?"
He smirked. "I've had my share of arguments."
She lifted a brow, but as with most things related to her partner's love life that didn't involve Celica, she didn't ask. "Right. Flowers."
"Just something to warm her up for when you start apologizing."
Snorting softly, Lutecia absently capped her bottle. "I'll think about it." She pushed back her chair, getting to her feet. "Unfortunately, I need to go. I need to give Hawke a better reason for nearly missing the report other than 'I got into a fight with my girlfriend'."
Victor couldn't resist.
He grinned. "Did she put you on the couch?"
The brilliant blush that flooded Lutecia's face and the strangled sound that escaped her throat was worth the bottle of cherry Coke that smacked him right in the forehead as she made her hasty escape.
Now sprawled out on the floor, he grinned up at the underside of the table, ignoring the stares and whispers aimed his way.
"I'm going to take that as a yes."
Oh, Lutecia. Even without the angst, you just never win.
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