A/N:It appears there was some miscommunication between ET and I regarding Lightning's Wedding Dress from the previous drabble. For those of you curious about how Lightning looks, I've posted the link in my profile page here in FFnet. It's aptly labeled, too.

I've also found the perfect picture for the cover of this series, as you all can see. An anonymous reader had arcbuncle (formerly arc-oblivion) draw this simple piece during a time when I was feeling down about shipping an unpopular ship. Granted, that wasn't the main reason I was feeling blue, but meh, that's not the point I'm trying to get at either.

Thank you very much anon for your support! I hope you're still here reading this series so you could see this note of gratitude.

Now, about this piece:

This started out with a small idea, the idea being the subject discussed in this drabble's conclusion, but I, as usual, went off on a tangent at the beginning when I was writing the introduction. I do hope the transition between parts still feels fluid.

Another point to take note of is that this drabble is set at the early stages of Squall and Lightning's relationship. Squall is still a wandering SeeD while Lightning is still colonising Gran Pulse. The two have just begun dating in the aftermath of Theme 20.

Speaking of which, dayum. I can't believe I've written 43 drabbles of this, plus a few Tiny Titans 'Verse side-stories on the side. Beyond that, it's hard to believe people are still reading this. Huh.

Anyways, thanks for your continued interest in this drabble series, dear readers reading this small note. Hope you enjoy this one as well!


Theme 43: Onward

Pairing: Lightning Farron / Squall Leonhart


A tired, drawn out sigh escaped Lightning Farron's lips as she locked the door to her bastard of a boyfriend's room behind her. There was a thin sheen of exertion coating her reddened skin from her time in the Training Area; she would have stayed for longer but, with SeeD out to do what it is they had set out to do in this port city, the place had gotten dull after the fifth T-Rexaur she had thrashed.

A lock of pink fell against her right side as she straightened up after dropping her duffel bag. Her sapphire eyes hardened in concentration as she carefully appraised her boyfriend's quarters.

It was her first time visiting that prick's plentifully lacking lodging in the mobile fortress, and so she took this opportunity to inspect its every unsavory detail.

As expected of the taciturn tool, the tasteless tick's room was distinctly plain. One might even say it was orderly, and though while true, the room was only without clutter for lack of actual ephemerae and keepsakes to clutter it with. The only hint as to what kind of a sorry sap lived in this particular room built specifically for SeeD's housing in the mobile city-fortress Balamb Garden was the large black briefcase – the case where the Black Lion's pathetic milk tooth used to house before the scarred schoolboy met a certain wanderer who had a penchant for carrying an arsenal of mimicked weapons.

The neatly piled Weapons Monthly collection sitting atop the desk attached to the wall did not help identify the room, Lightning found, as it seemed every inhabitant of Balamb Garden had a stash or two.

War-maniacs. The lot of them.

Nevertheless, this place, albeit smaller and clearly designed to only accommodate one, reminded the newly appointed Brigadier General of her own room in New Bodhum.

Simple; not resplendent.

It was a welcomed reminder…

…A welcomed reminder that did manage to relieve the suddenly alone woman's irritation, albeit only slightly.

Lightning tossed her hair off her face with a huff.

"Better hurry back, schoolboy." She muttered to herself darkly, hoping her words would somehow be carried to the Black Lion's ears and penetrate his thick brick-like skull.

Maybe then, that asshole could hurry up with whatever SeeD was attending to – despite her partnership with Squall, she was yet to be privy to and she never insisted in knowing the details of his operations - and they both could start to enjoy her break.

Her eyelids pressed tightly while the knuckles of her right hand flew to her lips as Lightning suppressed a yawn. She glared at the beckoning bed before her, its pristine white sheets and comfy-looking mattress seemingly serenading her into their embrace to catch a wink.

Lightning scoffed and she, instead, pulled the chair from under the desk then sat herself down. She had to shake off the lightheadedness that threatened to lull her into sleep when her body registered the comfy seat.

"I'm not jetlagged…" She grumbled tiredly – childishly - as she recalled that Squall's words before he granted her access to his dorm. "I don't need rest."

Really, that stupid Squall didn't know everything about her. If he did, then he wouldn't have wasted her morning doing his business where he attended to Etro only knew what. Or Hyne. Or Cosmos.

Gods damn it.

Idly, Lightning wondered if it would have been better to not have memories of the world as it was before the Merging – the event that those that knew aptly named when their own respective horizons had suddenly widened in the aftermath of their skirmish against the Hatchling God. It was, at times, jarring to suddenly have to take in so much new information but, Lightning figured, she could have had it a lot worse.

Cocoon was isolated from the rest of the world, after all. Lightning could only imagine the headache the rest of her allies had as they sorted out this new reality.

Maybe they all should have just taken a page out of Squall's book as the man simply shrugged it off and proceeded to not care about the details. Sometimes, it paid to be a thickheaded mule like Squall Leonhart.

…Huh.

Lightning blinked with sudden self-awareness, her fingers slowly tracing the warmth of her lips. When did she stop cursing Squall's name?

Ah, screw it; she couldn't stay angry at the scrotumless stooge for long, it seemed, especially when, much to her chagrin, Squall may have been the slightest bit right about how she was feeling. So maybe he could be thoughtful.

And he did promise to return for lunch, too…

Her gaze drifted towards the digital clock on his desk, brushing thoughts about how there was something special about the way Balamb Garden's marine chronometers were constructed to render them immune to external tampering of any kind, and pouted, that is, frowned, in displeasure.

Even after she had killed time in the Training Area, Squall would not be back for another hour and a half, still.

Really, that damn schoolboy could be so...

An affectionate smile unconsciously formed on her lips.

Fortunately, Squall was a man that kept his promises, and reminded of his virtue, Lightning felt herself relax in her seat, prepared to wait for him patiently-

No!

-before abruptly standing with renewed fire in her eyes and a harsh scowl on her face.

Lightning was also a woman of her word, and she had promised herself not to waste a single second of her vacation! With or without Squall, she was going to be productive. She just needed something to do, and her consciousness would be wide awake again…

Shaking off the sleep from her eyes, the proud woman glanced around the room looking for something to do before her eyes finally stopped at the discarded duffel bag she had left near the door.

That's it!

Lightning could unpack her stuff. It was a week to Midgard, after all, and Squall had told her to settle herself comfortably in his room while he quickly attended to his matters. She had been offered her own room, of course, but…

…but Lightning had felt it more appropriate that she bunk with Squall. It wasn't like she could spend her every day with him, after all. He was busy travelling the world doing SeeD ops while she was busy stabilizing Gran Pulse. It was a wonder how their relationship worked, but both Squall and Lightning just took events one step at a time.

They both knew what was important, and proximity was not it… even if it was much preferred.

Focusing back on the task at hand, the woman stalked towards her bag while tossing curious looks around the room, searching for a spot to place her clothes. Her gaze lingered on his wardrobe; if she knew Squall half as well as she thought, then she was sure there was plenty of space in there for her things. If not, well, she can always move his clothes to make room for her own.

As Lightning hefted her bag with one arm, she could not help but think of how truly barren his room was.

Were all men's rooms like this?

A wry smile curled on her lips as she began to muse. It was said that one's room reflected one's character, so that must mean Squall was…

Her eyes shimmered with amusement at all the wonderful descriptions Squall lacked before a knowing, playful voice that sounded eerily like Tifa whispered in her ear; wasn't a man's taste in women reflected by the dirty magazines he hid?

Scratch that. Lightning was sure the worldly martial artist had spoken those words at one point.

Lightning's eyes darted around despite her ambivalent feelings regarding Tifa's counsel. She wasn't sure whether she should be jealous of the women that filled Squall's lonely nights, but Lightning knew that, maybe, she could take notes.

However, just as suddenly as Tifa's insidious whispers came, another curious whisper followed.

Did Squall even keep any fap material?

That was a very tough question.

While it was easy to say that Squall was just a normal guy underneath his stoic exterior, and Lightning suspected that he was a depraved closet pervert after all the pleasures he had put her body through, Lightning knew of how untrue such generalizations could be. Her thoughts briefly reminisced to that one fiasco regarding the saying about tight leather jeans and supposed compensation with large blades.

A hand unconsciously flew to her now reddened cheek; her skin could still feel vestiges of Squall's monster slapping her in the face when she investigated how much Squall conformed to that stigma.

Come to think, Tifa Lockhart was behind that embarrassing event as well.

Damn that woman. The martial artist could be such a pervert.

Regardless, there was a certain breed of insanity or abnormality in the minds of the SeeDs that allowed them to excel in their tasks, and it was this breed of 'not normal' that made deciding Squall's likes and dislikes difficult. In Squall's case, his abnormality was probably that stick she had yet to extract from his delicious rear.

Ahem.

Lightning calmed her thoughts down.

One step at a time.

Squall may or may not have pornographic paraphernalia.

It was her duty as his girlfriend to dispose of the aforementioned filth if she found them.

Satisfied with her sound reasoning on the matter, Lightning settled her clothes in his severely lacking wardrobe – she was right! – and then began her hunt. Besides, if it did come to pass that Squall hid no such erotica then maybe she could find out what it was that Squall found attractive in a woman.

Or, she could mold his mind to her tastes. That would be a fun learning experience, she had no doubt.

After thirty minutes, Lightning had checked the usual spots. Under his bed, under his mattress, inside his wardrobe, underneath his wardrobe, above his wardrobe, behind his wardrobe, all his drawers, behind his toilet, etcetera. There was a frown that tugged at her lips when her initial search was fruitless, but she stubbornly persevered.

Squall could be a very cunning bastard, after all.

After an hour, Lightning was getting more irritated. She had double checked the room and even checked his window. It would also not be a stretch to say that she had patted every surface for hidden compartments.

She had found three of such compartments, yes, but zilch on the pornos.

Seriously, was his room really this empty?!

…Damn it all.

Lightning resumed her search with the single-minded determination she was known for. That thought may be disturbing if one paused to consider that Lightning was looking for porn. Thankfully, the irritated woman was too vexed to think of it.

When Squall finally arrived when he said he would, he blinked stupidly at the unusual sight of Lightning's rear sticking out as she seemed to be searching for something under his bed.

"…Lightning, what are you doing?"

His voice felt like a bomb going off in her ears.

Lightning visibly tensed for a moment that felt much longer than it actually was, and Squall reminded himself not to get too distracted as he watched his girlfriend slowly crawl out and sit herself on her legs. Squall did swallow his trepidation when he was besieged by another of Lightning's expectant glares.

"I was cleaning." Lightning stated clearly.

With a spot of dust on her nose, Squall would have found her statement convincing if not for the harshness in her eyes that threatened bloody murder if he dared comment. Naturally, Squall was undaunted; Hyne bless his soul. Even if it was stupid.

Oh, and Lightning's face was very red.

"Were you searching for something?" He pressed her, calmly closing the distance and reaching out to wipe her face.

Lightning quickly ducked out of his reach and shoved him with a harsh snarl, "The hell are you doing?"

"Cleaning." Squall rolled his eyes at her hostility. He expected as much; Lightning hadn't slept for over a day and, looking at the way she was now, she didn't heed his advice. Such a stubborn woman. "You've got something on you."

"You could have just said something!"

The suitably embarrassed woman quickly spun around and wiped her face roughly. Squall grasped this opportunity where Lightning was no longer dissecting him to scan his room for anything out of the ordinary.

"You've settled in." He observed the bag near his wardrobe.

"Yeah." Lightning turned to him. Her sapphire eyes were unusually unfocused. It was as if she was distracted; perhaps it was related to whatever Lightning was doing in his quarters before he arrived? "There wasn't much to do."

A curious brow arched on Squall's forehead. Once again, he asked, "Is that why you were searching for something?"

Squall blinked when Lightning's cheeks exploded with red.

"S-searching?" If Squall could trust his ears, Lightning had squawked. Was that even possible? Lightning seemed to hear herself as well and she added with a more controlled, "I wasn't searching for anything!"

Squall remained aloof, if mildly curious, and commented, "There's nothing hidden beneath my bed."

"Yeah, I noticed." Lightning huffed. Her eyes slowly widened at her slip and she glared at her smirking boyfriend.

"You were searching for something, then." He concluded triumphantly.

Damn those smug grey eyes!

Lightning folded her arms.

"What were you searching for?"

Lightning's jaw tightened.

"You've searched my entire room."

Lightning cocked her head to the side with an incredulous look. The state of his room was exactly as he left it.

"So," Squall paid her look no heed. "What were you searching for?"

He was giving her that look.

She really hated that look.

It was unnerving.

It was a damnable look that spoke of how much he knew her.

Lightning sighed deeply before giving him an aquiline stare.

Squall was still waiting.

Throwing caution and embarrassment to the wind, Lightning clearly stated.

"I was checking for porn."

There was an awkward pause that followed Lightning's unabashed declaration.

Squall blinked.

Squall blinked again.

By Hyne, she was serious!

If Squall was expecting an answer, that definitely was not it.

Squall blinked once more.

"It's not what you think!" Lightning finally shouted; her face shaded with so much embarrassment that she almost considered giving Squall a concussion then pretend the last few minutes never happened. And what the hell was Squall acting all flustered for?!

"What do you mean it's not what I think?" Squall finally spoke. His ears were burning with embarrassment while his thoughts ran wildly in an attempt to figure out what precipitated Lightning's rather unexpected choice of activity to pass the time.

"It's just not!" Lightning stubbornly shouted. "And stop looking at me like I'm crazy! I had nothing to occupy my time, alright?"

"So you decided to search my room for nonexistent porn?"

"Not immediately!" Her eyes narrowed and she rounded on him so closely that their lips were only a heated breath apart. "And what do you mean you don't have any porn? Are you a man or what?!"

Squall blinked. Hard.

Lightning continued to glower at him.

He staggered backwards as if struck by Lightning's sudden outburst, raising a hand to stall her advance as he steadied himself while digesting her words.

"Wait. Let me get this straight: you're mad at me for not having any porn?"

"Damn it schoolboy! What type of woman do you prefer?!"

"Where did that come from?!"

It was clear to the two proud militants that they still had much to learn from each other.

They had fun learning, anyway.