Title: Something about Her
Rating: T for language and Lightning's general bitchiness...
Summary: AU. She was unlike anyone he had ever met.
Word Count: 4,209
Prompt: Inspired by this one sentence written by Fairheartstrife on livejournal: As Baristas went she was kind of a nasty bite in the mornings, but she did make one helluva cup of coffee and she wasn't unpleasant on the eyes.
A/N: Fairheartstrife wrote ObsessiveCompulsiveValkyrie ten sentences for Kain/Lightning and gave permission for me to expand one into a story, so full credit for the idea goes to her. Thank you for letting me use this idea! Also… I'm not entirely sure how much taller than her Kain is, so if anyone knows throw it out there for me, won't you? It came out nice and fluffy, and with a hopeful ending. Anyway, I hope everyone enjoys, especially you Valk!
Disclaimer: I don't own Dissidia 012, Final Fantasy XIII, or any of the characters used in this piece of fiction. I am making no money off of them.
She had honestly never been a morning person… but, well, she'd needed the job, and then Serah had asked one of her friends to give her a chance to work at the Cosmos Café. Being in college and already working one job seemed like enough of a hassle, but she had needed the money of a second job to buy herself a hover bike she'd had her eye on for a while.
The two jobs had helped in meeting new people, but unfortunately it had been all weirdos so far. First some guy who could've been her male doppelganger had made her redo his latte… without foam. The brunette with him had nearly thrown her freshly brewed orange-spice tea in his face and had apologized profusely. She'd had a glare competition with the blond for a few tense seconds until Lebreau passed by and gave her a look; she'd never wanted to punch a man more than she did then. The only upside to the whole experience had been the generous tip brunette had dropped into the container by the cash register.
Next she'd tended to a tall woman in a smart business suit, extreme manicure, and one ear on her cellphone, and one hand typing away at another. She'd ordered ten espressos and one cappuccino with non-fat whipped cream. She'd only managed to tear herself from her phone once she had tasted the cappuccino and had informed her that it was most certainly not non-fat.
Lightning had given her a tight smile and would've told her where to put her non-fat when Lebreau had asked her to see to the next customer, knowing how volatile she could be that early in the mornings.
Turning toward the side of the café where the customers were sitting and waiting patiently to have their drinks at a table, she took up a notepad and approached the first person. "Morning. What will you have today?" she asked, suppressing the urge to talk in a monotone; Lebreau had already told her that she'd get the late shift if she was rude to the customers…
The man looked up at her curiously. "What would you recommend?"
Oh, she knew these types of customers. They would ask which drink she would recommend and then go on to ask for a black coffee after she'd wasted breath and saliva. "Any type of coffee, sir."
He leaned forward and took a look at her nametag. "Claire, is it?"
She finally looked up after doing her best to not roll her eyes. "Yeah. What can I get you, then?"
"Well, you haven't given me any suggestions," he replied.
She tried not to stare. It didn't matter that he was gorgeous, or that she'd never seen that particular shade of violet eyes before, either. The fact of the matter was that he was wasting her time and she had other people to attend. "Uh, well you can try the peppermint mocha which is popular right now. An espresso if you need a kick, or tea. Whatever suits your tastes, I guess."
"Okay. Thank you, Claire."
Her left eyebrow twitched at his use of her name.
"I am going to try the tea. Surprise me on the flavor," he replied.
She nodded and moved away to take more orders, feeling her annoyance grow as his eyes followed her around the room. What the hell was his problem? She hated being ogled, especially in a place where she wouldn't be able to punch him in the face for it. Besides, it distracted her and made her clumsy while preparing orders—though this she wouldn't admit to anyone.
After several minor burns and very frazzled patience, she returned with his Earl Grey tea in a pink mug. It was just as good as punching him in the face, she mused with a smirk.
He raised an elegant eyebrow at her and she hoped she didn't look as devious as she felt.
"Enjoy your drink, sir," she nearly sang.
He chuckled quietly at her stubbornness and watched her move away and back to the counter. In truth, he had been taking his morning drinks in the same place from the moment she had nearly bowled him over on the street a week and a half before. No apology or even a glance. He had watched her march right into the café near his place of work and had decided to investigate.
He hadn't had a chance to speak to her until that very day, though he hadn't honestly given it a try. She was curiously hot tempered but he had never seen her snap at a customer directly. This was one of the reasons why he kept returning and wondering if she ever would.
Now she had finally taken notice of him and he supposed that she didn't like him very much, if the pink mug was any indication.
When he had sat there for nearly an hour, reading through his notes for the next lecture, she approached him once more. "Can I get you anything else?"
Kain looked up at her and noted that she didn't look too happy. Well, this was just the best customer service he'd ever received. "I'd like another cup of that delightful tea you prepared for me, but I will take it to go."
"Okay. Sure," she replied, turning and marching away.
Kain sighed to himself and found his eyes trailing the long line of her legs. He couldn't believe that such a cranky girl could be one of the most beautiful he had ever run across. He also had to wonder why she was working in a place filled with people when she had such a short temper.
"Here you go. Thank you and have a good day," she said, setting his cup and bill on the table.
He pulled out a gil note from his pocket and set it under the bill. "Keep the change. After all, I've never had such exceptional service from such a beautiful lady."
She stared after him as he walked away and then took up the bill, her mouth dropping open at the amount. What the hell? She knew that her customer service had not been that good.
The next time he showed up at the café, the morning rush had died down and there were very few seated. He decided to make things interesting and sat at the counter, watching Claire as she prepared lattes and cappuccinos efficiently and with ease. She worked with serious precision and kept her temper in check for the variety of customers that crossed her path.
He saw her choke a rag at the sight of a blond with spiky hair, but wisely she moved away from the counter and closer to his direction.
Again, she didn't look up immediately when she approached him. "Good morning. What can I get you?"
"Good mornings, Claire," he said, smiling slightly as she glanced at him through narrowed eyes.
"Oh. It's you."
Kain chuckled at her flat tone and nodded. "I'm glad that you remember me."
Was this guy for real? "Look, don't address me by my given name. All of my friends and the people who deal with me here at work call me Lightning."
"Would it make us make us friends if I did?"
He chuckled. "Why not?"
"Because frankly, a man who stares at a woman's ass while she's working is nothing but a pig."
Well, he hadn't been staring at her ass. At her legs, yes, and maybe he had glanced a little higher momentarily, but… that was beside the point. "I was not."
"Please. I don't need eyes on the back of my head to know," she muttered, rolling her eyes.
"But you cannot blame me for admiring a lovely woman, can you, Lightning?"
That was the lamest pick-up line she had ever heard! But damn it, why was she blushing? "Right… What will you have today?" she muttered, hoping he hadn't noticed her discomfort.
"Any recommendations?" Kain asked, smirking as he spotted the pink on her cheeks, nearly matching her hair.
"Same as they were last time."
"Well, surprise me."
Lightning sighed to herself and walked away, nearly shaking her head. What was with this guy? Was he hitting on her or just out to annoy her? She couldn't deny that he was nice to look at, but she didn't like getting distracted during work. Distractions, like rude customers, made her cranky.
Well, if she was honest with herself she'd admit that she was almost always cranky or pissed off at something or someone. And to prove her point, she prepared Kain a tea-latte she'd only learned how to make the day before. The kicker was that she hadn't found it particularly good…
"Here you go," she said, placing the cup in front of him. "Anything else?"
"How about your phone number?"
"I don't have one," was her immediate reply, as if she'd known he would ask.
Kain hummed and took a sip of his drink, nodding slightly as he savored it. "E-mail address?"
"I don't have a computer."
They both knew that she was lying, but Kain didn't call her out on it.
"You are… very difficult."
"Every man I meet seems to think the same thing," Lightning replied, shrugging. "You could save yourself a lot of trouble and hit on someone else, you know. Lebreau is available and I know she thinks you're 'dashing.'" She even made the quotation marks with her fingers…
"And I take it that you don't?"
Lightning shrugged. "Are you seriously going to do this?"
"Do what?" Kain asked, pulling out his wallet to pay for his drink.
"Waste your time with me," Lightning said, eyeing his money and nearly snorting at his generous tip. She wanted to say something about it but she knew that it wouldn't be fair to the rest of the girls who were working with the tougher crowd that day.
Kain stood to his full height and Lightning was impressed that he was more than a head taller than her. He made a really nice sight in a business suit, too. "As far as I am concerned, Lightning, no woman is a waste of time." He inclined his head, a small smile on his lips, before he left.
Lightning watched him go, squashing the giddy feeling in her chest and cleaned up his cup—taking note that it was only half-empty—before getting back to filling orders. She couldn't say that he annoyed her as much as he had when she had first met him, but she really wasn't in the mood to fend off another admirer.
Her last boyfriend had left her with a bad taste and had more than likely ruined any future relationships for her. Well, at least for the time being. She couldn't deny that having the attention of a handsome stranger like Kain was flattering, either.
Sighing to herself, Lightning returned to her duties and shoved off annoying girly fantasies. She was anything but girly, and sadly, Kain would realize this sooner or later.
Unfortunately for her, after a few days of being there at the café at the same hour each day, his presence suddenly stopped and Kain didn't return for the following week. She didn't know what to feel about it, but it did make her feel a little sad. And whenever she felt sad… she felt mad soon after. She had been stupid to even think about giving that jerk her number. She hadn't actually done it but she had considered it. Though deep down she knew that she was being irrational. Hadn't this been exactly what she had wanted? For him to leave her alone?
As she ferociously scrubbed the counter with a rag, Terra—one of the newer girls—approached her.
"Wow. I think I can see my reflection on the counter already," she said with a smile. When Lightning didn't let up, the girl frowned. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," Lightning replied immediately; she'd never been good at making friends, either.
Terra sighed. "Is this about that guy who was coming by? The blond one?" she asked timidly.
Lightning shrugged. "It's good that he stopped bothering me."
"You can't mean that," Terra said, smile softening. "He took time to ask questions about you, just so that he could talk to you!"
Blue eyes narrowed. "Were you giving him my personal information?" she asked darkly.
Terra shook her head quickly. "No! Of course, not!" She cleared her throat and stared at her hands. "All he wanted to know were the times that you worked here so that he could see you."
That piece of news seemed to calm her down a little. But… "How long ago was this?"
"About a month ago, I think."
Huh. And she'd only met him about two weeks ago… She shook her head. "Look, I know you're new and you that you want to help, but next time tell any guy that asks about me that I like girls, okay?"
Terra frowned in confusion. "Do you… like girls?"
Lightning shook her head. "It's just easier to get them off my back if they think I do," she said, shrugging.
"But… I think that this guy really did like you."
"And yet he didn't come back this week, did he?"
Terra realized that this was the problem with her coworker. "Well, I'm sure something came up and that he'll be back soon enough." Before Lightning could shoot her down, Terra wisely walked away to tend to some other customers.
"Hey, Light? Shouldn't you get going?" Lebreau asked from where she was brewing the next batch of regular coffee.
Lightning checked the clock on the wall in the shape of a moogle and bit back a curse. Now she'd have to run if she wanted to catch the bus back to campus… "See you girls tomorrow," she said, pulling off her apron and grabbing her book bag before running out of the door.
"Good luck!" Terra called with a smile.
A few seconds after Lightning had raced out of the café, the doorbell jingled and in stepped a very damp blond.
"Oh, no. Did it start to rain?" Terra asked him as he approached the counter.
Kain nodded and wiped some droplets from his face with the napkin the girl before him had offered. "It seems like a storm is coming," he said, looking around.
Lebreau approached them with a grin on her face. "She left already. She had a final to take and you missed her by seconds."
"Which way would she have gone?" Kain asked, glancing at the door.
"Right. She takes the campus bus that's about a block away," Lebreau replied
"I think she may have missed you," Terra informed him in a whisper, shrugging when Lebreau glared at her.
"How can you tell?" Kain asked, intrigued even though he knew Lightning would not be happy if she knew they were talking about her.
"Maybe you should just go find her before you miss her completely," said the brunette, waving as he thanked them and jogged out, back into the rain.
The light drizzle was starting to morph into fatter water drops as he moved quickly down the street, wondering how he would recognize her. Would she be carrying an umbrella? Wearing a hood?
He came to a stop on the corner before crossing the street to where the bus stop was located. Frowning, he inspected the students waiting. Most were already drenched from the rain, while others were huddled together under bright umbrellas. And as he began to cross the street, the campus bus rolled to a stop in front of them.
He spotted her then, sporting a hoodie that was pulled low over her face, but with a few stray, pink strands of hair curling down the front of the sweater. She was also wearing shorts and boots, leaving her long legs splattered with raindrops.
"Excuse me, Miss," he said, tapping her shoulder.
She whirled around to face him and gave him a glare when she realized that it was him. Pulling out the earphones she'd had on, she stepped back to let others onto the bus. "What are you doing here? Stalking me now?"
"I wanted to speak to you… explain to you why I did not come the last few days," he said quickly, hoping that he could hold her back if only for a minute.
"And you couldn't do this tomorrow? I have a final and I really need to take this bus so that I can get there on time," she said, annoyed.
"Apologies, but it was something I thought needed to be done before more time passed by," he said seriously.
Lightning crossed her arms over her chest, keeping an eye on the dwindling line of students entering the bus. "I don't have time for this. Besides, I told you that it would be a bad idea for you to pursue me."
"Why don't you let me decide for myself, Claire?"
"Because I'm not interested," Lightning replied in exasperation. "I have school, two jobs, and a sister to watch over. The last thing I need is a man who wants to control me," she snapped before she could stop herself.
Kain stared at her and shook his head. "That is not my intention, and if you allowed me to show you, you would see that your opinion on men might change."
He looked so sincere, and hearing his words made something in her chest want to open up, but… she couldn't. "Look, as flattered as I am—and it ticks me off to admit it—I'm not the kind of girl you want to get involved with," she informed him, missing the fact that the bus had just pulled away and she had missed it completely.
Kain pulled off his long overcoat and offered it to her as the rain began to come down harder.
Lightning tried not to be impressed once more by the vision he made in such a nice suit, or at the fact that he had been gentleman enough to offer his coat; she just didn't know if she wanted to take it. "I don't… I'm not the typical girl guys go after. I won't text you sweet nothings at all hours of the day, and I won't call you at night and talk to you for hours on end. I won't even hold hands in public!"
He slipped the coat over her shoulders while she tried to sell herself as bad girlfriend material, but he was not swayed. "There's something about you, Claire Farron, alias Lightning. I am a man who can get any drink he desires in the comfort of his office. But would you like to know something curious?"
Lightning sighed and nodded, ignoring the pleasant masculine scent surrounding her courtesy of his coat.
"I… am not a fan of teas."
A laugh bubbled from her lips against her will. "Then why did you take the one I gave you?"
Kain offered her a smile. "Because I did not want to anger you. Or ruin my chances of wooing you."
She knew that the blush was more pronounced then and she shook her head. "And here I was purposely being a bitch to you by giving you tea. Not many customers like the hot versions of tea." She turned to look behind her and sighed irritably. "You made me miss my bus."
"Well, we can return and take my car," he said, motioning back in the direction of the café.
She looked about ready to say no, but the crackle of thunder and then lightning made her sigh and her shoulders sag. "Fine," Lightning muttered, walking with him. "You're getting wet."
Kain nodded. "I'll live," he replied, inwardly happy that she had accepted to spend a bit of time with him. "How old is your sister?" he asked after a moment of silence.
"She's nineteen," Lightning replied. "Her name is Serah."
"And you say that she's under your care?" Kain ventured.
"Yeah. Our parents died when we were little, so we lived with some aunts until we were of legal age to be on our own. We're both in school on scholarships," she added as they stopped in front of a sleek, dark blue car that screamed money.
Kain looked at her through the water droplets trailing down from his hair. "Would you be offended if I opened the car door for you?"
Lightning smirked and shook her head. "I don't mind… just this once. Nice of you to ask though."
He opened the door for her and waited until she had gotten in and pulled his coat after her before he closed the door and moved toward the other side. When the engine of the car purred to life, he set the heater on until he was sure that it would be comfortable for his passenger. She looked a bit uncomfortable, but she was not complaining about their arrangement.
"Where should I drop you off?" he asked, pulling away from the curb.
"The south side of campus. I have about ten minutes to get to class," she said, looking at her watch.
"We'll be there shortly," he said, beginning to drive at a good, safe speed.
"…Why is a guy like you interested in someone like me?" she asked, unable to stop herself.
"What do you mean?"
Lightning rolled her eyes and basked in the warmth of the coat and the air circulating the car. "I'm a student working in a little café. And you're obviously someone from a very important position in some company. I'm sure you can get any woman you want… Why is your focus on me instead?"
"I already told you this, Lightning. You are unique, and you don't do things the way every other woman would. I like this about you."
"I'm pretty sure you won't like it a month from now," Lightning replied.
"Why do you insist on trying to paint yourself in such a bad light?" Kain asked as they stopped at a red light.
She shrugged one shoulder and stared moodily at the rivers of raindrops trailing down the car window. "Past experiences made me this way," she said in a low voice.
"Have you ever stopped to think that maybe someone will come along who can change your mind?" he asked, pulling into the campus parking lot and finding the closest space to the building.
Lightning looked at him and bit back a scoff. "It's not something I want to try right now," she said, and sadly she meant it.
Kain opened the door and stepped out of the car, pulling a black umbrella from his back seat and moving quickly over to cover Lightning with it as she got out, too. "I'll walk you," he said, taking his coat back when she took it off.
They walked slowly toward the nearest door, Lightning fidgeting with the strap of her book bag.
"I stand by everything I said to you, Lightning. There's something special about you," Kain said, watching the raindrops dripping from his umbrella.
"Thank you… Kain." She let out a long breath. "It's been a long time since I last heard someone say that to me." Her parents had made her feel special, and so had Serah, but for some reason she herself hadn't believed it in a while.
"You're welcome, Lightning," he replied, inclining his head. "Good luck with your test."
She remained where she was standing, with Kain protecting them from the rain, but with her damp bangs falling into her eyes. "Maybe you should come to the café again and try some of the coffee. I'm told it's one of the best drinks I can make."
Kain smiled and his violet eyes lit up pleasantly. "I would enjoy that very much."
Moving away from the safety of his umbrella, Lightning took a step up, putting her at near eyelevel with Kain. She couldn't understand why it felt so hard to walk away—especially with her test looming over her—but she figured that his words had had something to do with it. Here was this stranger who had done nothing but be nice to her, who had seen her at her bitchiest, and he had still found a way to look past it all to see who she was underneath.
They were still strangers, but he appealed to her in a way that no other man had. His words seemed honest and his actions real. This wasn't a man looking for a good time. Damn it… she'd been afraid of this.
Huffing out a breath when she realized that her bag was getting soaked, she looked up at Kain and smirked. Before her brain could force her to turn and run, she moved forward and pressed a quick, chaste kiss to his lips. "See you soon, Kain."
"Soon, Lightning," Kain said with a nod, smiling openly now.
Turning on her heel, Lightning raced up the stairs without a backward glance. For some reason she knew that he would still be there, watching her go. There was just something about him…