Disclaimer: I own nothing, as per usual.

Author's Notes: For the sake of irony, I'm going to say this all happens on that mission Vivio is so concerned about in DezoPenguin's "I Never Knew You Could Take It Literally". Mostly because it amuses me to think that in some way, Vivio was right to be concerned!

The first thing Lutecia became aware of was voices; the hum, the mix, of voices. They sang through her brain and seeped into her ears, setting a magnificently painful tempo for the headache she could feel pounding at her temples. She tried to open her mouth, tried to process what she was hearing and kindly request that the speakers please be quiet, but her lips and her tongue wouldn't work the way she wanted to.

She couldn't see. She knew she had opened her eyes, clearly recalled commanding her eyes to open, but all she saw was endless black. Her eyes were open, but she couldn't see. That was probably a bad sign.

"Damn, damn, damn!" She recognized Victor's voice, knew it was his hand on her back as she was carried away from the site. "Alphine, hey, Alphine! You hear me, right? Just listen to my voice! Don't you dare stop listening!"

Her vocal cords finally obeyed her request to move, even if speaking sent a lightning bolt of pain through her body. "Hard to… stop listening, Storm."

He laughed; a ragged, broken, frightened sound. "Yeah, yeah. I know I annoy you."

She groaned and coughed, tasted something metallic and warm on her tongue. Blood? Probably blood. Wonderful. "Don't… tell Vivio."

"I won't. I swear I won't, Alphine, if you just stay with me right now."

"Good of you," she murmured, and blacked out again.

In the end, it was a miracle she was still alive. Several broken ribs, a fractured collarbone, internal bleeding and a punctured lung; and that was all simply from the force of being thrown into the wall when the explosion had gone off, not even taking into account the force of the ceiling when it had collapsed onto her.

It was a testament to Garyuu's loyalty and grit that she was even breathing when she had been found; her insect knight, seeing the danger only seconds before his mistress had, had thrown himself at her the moment she had hit the wall, curling around her in a protective embrace. He hadn't been able to protect her completely, but it was because of him that she hadn't been killed.

"I don't want you back here for at least a month." Bonneville scowled as he said it, but he was still pale as a sheet from when she had first been brought in. "Rest, stay off your goddamn feet, do your very best to stay still." He jabbed his pen at her as he finished with his report. "Hell, I don't even know why I'm letting you go home. You should be staying here for another three days, at the most."

"I'll be fine." Lutecia slowly slid off the medical bed, and could have sworn she felt her ribs move with her. Healing had repaired the worst of the damage, but most of it would need to recover naturally. "I'd feel better at home, anyway."

Bonneville grumbled. "Just remember what I said. Take the medicine once a day, twice if the pain is really too much for you to handle. If you aren't feeling any better, come back in. I'll call your girl and have her drag you in here if you don't come in on your own."

The summoner winced, as she always did whenever her young girlfriend was used against her. "You play dirty."

"I wouldn't have gotten this far if I didn't do it from time to time." He sighed, then glanced at her. "Alphine, I'm serious. Come in if it gets worse. The last thing I need is you dying on me when you no longer have a death wish."

Lutecia grumbled. "I never had a death wish."

Bonneville simply lifted a brow before he returned to his cabinet, grabbing the medicine she would need. "By the way, tell your girlfriend to cool it. You're recovering. I'm sure you appreciate the attention, but even pleasure can have pain."

"Why am I always the one being scolded?"

The complaint made Lutecia smile as she leaned back against the car seat, Vivio expertly maneuvering her vehicle as they drove home. It hadn't surprised the older woman to see her lover already outside waiting for her, and she hadn't questioned it.

"Seriously," the honey blonde muttered, sliding off her glasses with one hand. "Everyone always acts like I ravage you or something. You're just as bad as me."

The smile became a smirk; Lutecia closed her eyes, one hand tightly wrapped around her midsection. "Because unlike you, I never got drunk and bragged about our sex life."

Vivio blushed at that. "How did he even hear about that?"

"Word travels fast. I imagine that kind of thing catches like wildfire."

"I'm never going to live that down," the young librarian sighed, and was pleased when her girlfriend laughed softly. She kept a sharp gaze on the road, but once or twice her eyes drifted over to Lutecia.

Her breathing was still ragged and shallow; it was slight, but Vivio saw the crease between her brows, and knew she was in pain. She frowned. "Cia?"

"I'm all right." Her hand tightened slightly against her side.

She wasn't all right, not in the least; clearly, even the small bumps of a car ride were completely destroying her from the inside out. It was worrying, and quite frankly Vivio wanted to turn around and take her back for more treatment, but Lutecia had insisted on coming home. And while the younger girl was willing to argue many points, she knew that trying to push this one would only make things worse.

Swallowing instead so she wouldn't say it, Vivio forced a slight smile. "So," she began, "are you going to tell me what happened?"

But Lutecia had fallen asleep, lulled by the rhythm of the car and bone tired in every way. She still had one arm wrapped tightly around herself, as if she was afraid she would fall apart the moment she let go.

Everything felt like a learning experience; every time she moved, Lutecia felt her insides and her bones move with her. She saw the concern in Vivio's eyes, and once or twice the younger woman opened her mouth as if to speak, but the summoner was determined not to go back.

She hated hospitals. Always had, always would.

She was still alive. If she was still alive, she would be fine.

She couldn't even recall getting out of the car, or entering the apartment; it was all a blurry, hazy passage in her mind. The only moment her brain cleared was when the hot water beat down on her, and she dimly realized she was in the shower.

With a clear mind, came the brilliant, colorful surge of pain.

Lutecia had to bite her tongue to keep from crying out, and rested her head against the shower wall. It was slight, but the searing heat from above soothed the pain she felt inside.

Absently, she traced her body with her fingers; over the curve of her breast, down her side, skimming along her belly. She could still imagine in her mind where the gashes and bruises had been; could feel them, faded but still very much felt, in her skin. She would probably have at least a few scars.

"… I need to thank Garyuu when I get the chance."

So she would resist the urge to check on Lutecia, Vivio busied herself with a romance novel Hayate had lent her way back when she and her girlfriend had started regularly sleeping together. It was an old novel, and she had read it a million times, but it was the kind of thing she could read even when she wasn't completely focused on it.

It felt like an eternity, but she finally heard the water turn off in the bathroom and looked up; the moment Lutecia left the bathroom, steam rolling in her wake, she got to her feet.

She looked better, even if she only wore a large, loose white shirt and a pair of gray pants. But she moved with more ease than she had before, and what skin the younger woman did see still gleamed wetly from her shower.

When Vivio's mouth dried, she hastily reminded herself that until she was told otherwise, Lutecia was off limits.

Her mind still clouded anyway.

She crossed the distance and tentatively opened her arms, delighted when the summoner went into them. She gently nuzzled her hair. "How do you feel?"

"Better." Lutecia's fingers traced small patterns on Vivio's back, and made her shiver. "I took some of the medicine Bonneville gave me. I should be fine for the night, at least."

A small tremor, unrelated to Lutecia's touch, ran down Vivio's spine; her grip on the older woman tightened. She hadn't been there when her girlfriend had been brought in, but she could imagine what she must have looked like; bloody, broken, blood coming up from the mouth and temporarily blind.

The image chilled her insides.

As if sensing this, Lutecia lightly nipped Vivio's neck; the younger woman hissed. "Hey," she murmured.

"Hey," Vivio repeated, smiling in spite of herself. "What's up?"

"I interrupted your lunch with Nanoha-san, didn't I? I'm sorry."

The librarian shrugged. "It's all right. She understood."

Like a hole to the head, Lutecia mused, but she wasn't about to poke at Vivio's bond with Nanoha; it was still on shaky ground even now, but they were managing well enough. And she had other things on her mind, anyway, that seemed far less appealing when she thought of her girlfriend's mother.

When lips and tongue soothed the faint sting left by her teeth, Vivio jolted and squeaked. When Lutecia moved lower, at an absolutely aching pace, the honey blonde couldn't quite stifle the soft moan. She rocked slightly, against the summoner, and the older woman murmured softly in approval.

That was one of the things Lutecia had quickly found she loved about seducing Vivio; the younger woman was amazingly responsive to anything she did. It was maddening.

"I thought I was told to cool it?" Her voice was soft and ragged; when Lutecia pulled back to look up at her, Vivio cupped her face and pulled her in for a long, slow kiss, a lazy meeting of lips and tongues that only increased the heat of the air around them. When they parted, Lutecia had a wicked gleam in her eye and somehow, Vivio's ribbon between her fingers.

"I wasn't, though."

Lutecia was sleeping again; a deep, long slumber brought about by a combination of mental fatigue, physical pain, and chemicals from the pill she had swallowed after showering. Her head was nestled in the crook of Vivio's arm, and the younger woman knew that in an hour or two she would probably be going numb from the shoulder down if her girlfriend didn't move.

Her fingers played gently with long, silky strands of lilac hair; it was an absent gesture, one born from desire and routine, and Vivio had always enjoyed it. As it was, she was content to just lay there and watch Lutecia sleep, especially when she knew all too easily that this could have been the day she went to bed alone.

Before, there would have been demands for an explanation of what had happened, stubbornness on both sides until one or both of them cracked. Over two years, though, Vivio learned that sometimes it was just better to let things settle on their own; sometimes Lutecia fought her, and sometimes Lutecia told her without Vivio even saying a word to start it. As much as she wanted to ask, she would wait until her girlfriend had recovered a bit, and take it from there.

It was one of the things she did, one of the things she had accepted when Lutecia had decided to remain an active Shadow. She hadn't liked it—a part of her thought she would probably never like it. But she knew it was what her lover wanted to do, and as long as she came back safe and alive, as long as she stayed happy and whole, she could do her years as a Shadow for as long as she wanted to.

Even if every time Lutecia had a brush with death, Vivio had to swallow the desperate urge to drag her somewhere safe and lock her away so she was never hurt.

"You're thinking dark thoughts," a sleepy voice murmured; Vivio blinked, and she found Lutecia's cloudy red gaze meeting hers.

She smiled sheepishly. "Sorry. Did I wake you up?"

"You did. It's all right. I forgive you for it."

Vivio laughed, pleased that Lutecia could still joke even in her state. After a moment, she curled her arm around her and pulled her in, hugging her close. Lutecia sighed softly, resting her forehead against the librarian's shoulder.

"… You could have died."

"Vi, don't."

Vivio shook her head and pulled back, lightly brushing her girlfriend's cheek. "You could have died," she repeated, and her heart was in her eyes. "I'm allowed to be shaken up by that fact."

"As long as you don't cry." Because she saw the tears forming already, Lutecia lifted her finger.

Vivio laughed raggedly and dropped her forehead to Lutecia's. They stayed that way for a long moment, content with the silence. Her hand slid down, along the summoner's side, up her belly, to her breasts. It was a confirmation, of sorts; that she was solid, that she was there, that there was warmth in her skin.

It seemed to be having an unintended side effect, as Lutecia's eyes were now clouding over. "You're starting something, now," she murmured.

She wanted to again, very much so; she was firmly of the opinion that she would never get bored of having sex with Lutecia. But still… "Will you be okay?"

"I'll be fine, Vi."

"If it hurts—"

To silence her, Lutecia bit her neck again; a harder bite, a mixture of pain and pleasure that sent a jolt down Vivio's spine. Before she could even process the sensation Lutecia had grabbed her hand in a gentle grasp and had pulled her fingers down, guiding her, pressing her fingers gently against—

Vivio's brain short-circuited at the warm, wet sensation against her fingertips; her exhale was shaky. "Since you said it won't hurt," she managed, and pulled the older woman on top of her.

In the early morning hours, at the soft sound of bird song and the faint rays of sunlight, Lutecia slept again, this time without stirring. Vivio herself was barely even awake as it was, but her mind wouldn't settle.

It was all right. Lutecia was all right. It had been bad, but she had survived. She would need recovery time, but in the end, she was still alive.

Maybe, in a few days' time, Lutecia would tell her what had happened.

Content, then, to wait, Vivio gently rested her hand over Lutecia's heart and, soothed by the steady, strong sensation of its beat, closed her eyes and drifted to sleep.

Dedications time!

First and foremost is Shigan, who's recent update for her HayaVivi story "The Things We Tame" inspired this one-shot because what she wrote was gritty, hot, and hilarious. Of course, special thanks goes to Deathcurse, who if not for her own HayaVivi stories/universe ("Lose By Holding Back", "You Never Lose By Loving", and her ongoing "Prerogative of the Brave), Shigan would have probably never started cranking out her story. Another shout out goes to DezoPenguin, who suggested the name for this one-shot; if not for him, I might be uploading it under "Still Untitled Shadowverse One-shot"!

As with all post-Shadowverse stories, this takes place two years after the main story arc. So Vivio is 19, Lutecia 23.

Read and review, please!