Author's note: Hey there people. I was suddenly inspired to write this the other day and envisioned it being a oneshot, but once I started writing, I just couldn't stop. xD Thus this is not the only part of the story. The next chapters will be up soon. As of now, it's just going to be a three-shot with a SLIM chance of turning into a full story.
All that being said, enjoy what I'm giving you now. (:
"Lightning, you stay in your room and sulk forever," Serah's voice called from outside Lightning's bedroom door.
The soldier rolled her eyes as she sat on her bed, a book in her hands as she looked to the door out of the corner of her eye. "Who's sulking?" she called in return. Not her. She just didn't want to be at the party that Serah was throwing in the other parts of the house, even if Serah invited certain people for Lightning's sake. She found such joy with Snow that she wanted Lightning to have the same type of joy, even if she had to beat her over the head with twenty men until Lightning found the right one.
Well, Lightning wasn't interested in playing that game. She worked alone.
"Um, you are," Serah said. She peeked her head in the door, her blue eyes stern but also gentle with her twenty-one year old sister. "C'mon, Lightning, you can't stay in here forever. I know you had a bad day at work, but still…Socializing could help you feel better."
"Doubt it," Lightning mumbled lowly, mostly to herself. Especially if Serah invited NORA, which she did. Serah invited a lot of people, because she was friends with every person she met. She easily made friends…but Lightning didn't. She didn't have the urge to.
Serah sighed. "I didn't want to do this, but if you don't come out, I'm breaking out the baby pictures."
Lightning looked away from her book, pale blue eyes studying Serah. "You wouldn't…" But she knew that she would. Serah always meant what she said.
"Be out in two minutes," Serah said sternly to her older sister. She shut the door and walked away.
This time, it was Lightning's turn to sigh. Why did she have to get dragged into this? Like Serah said, she had a bad day at work today. All that she wanted to do was stay in her room and-And what? Mope? That was pathetic. Suddenly, she had new motivation to go to the party. She wouldn't let herself be immature and mope just because of another empty promise.
She tsked, getting off the bed and walking over to the mirror. She was still in her Guardian Corps outfit. Serah would kill her if she came out to the party like this…Shaking her head in disapproval at the thought of getting more dressed up, she did it anyway. She put in a pair of dark skinny-jeans and a white tank top underneath a black sweater. The only reason she had these clothes was because of Serah; she wouldn't let her walk around in her uniform twenty-four/seven.
She straightened her shirt and fixed her hair in silence, her curls dangling over one shoulder as always. "This'll have to do," she said mostly to herself. Nodding to the image in the mirror, she turned and exited her room, walking to the living room where all the people were gathered. It looked there were two dozen people packed into this area, and Light could get that there were others outside hanging out. Serah's parties were always popular.
"Lightning, you came out!" a voice to her right said. The girl looked over and nodded, looking pretty solemn at the girl she knew but didn't like.
"Lebreau," she greeted.
"I was wondering how Serah would coax you out of your room," Lebreau, a member of NORA, said with a laugh. "What final got you out?"
Lightning shrugged. "Blackmail."
"My sweet Serah, using blackmail against her sister the soldier?" a person said to her left. Lightning barely had time to turn her head in time to see who the person was, though she recognized the voice immediately. Snow Villiers, the boyfriend of her sister who just wouldn't buzz off. "Hey, sis," he formally greeted Lightning, setting a hand on her shoulder.
She shrugged out from underneath Snow's hand with ease. "I'm not your sister."
"No, of course not," Gadot, yet another member of NORA, said as he suddenly approached the group. "He hasn't put a ring on Serah's finger yet. And besides, who would want to admit being related to this loser?"
Snow laughed, stepping over as he put an arm around Gadot's neck in a fake choke-hold. "Why I oughta…" he said playfully, smirking down at his best friend and partner in crime. That was what they were. Masquerading around as heroes, they thought they were more effective than the Guardian Corps. They weren't even in the same league as them.
Lightning slipped away from the group while they were wrapped up in their own goofiness. She backed up cautiously from the group so that nobody could catch her off guard, but they weren't paying attention to her anymore. She couldn't have been more grateful. If she had to be out here and socializing with people at the party, it wouldn't be with any of those people.
"Don't like NORA very much, do you?"
She turned around and saw a young man leaning against the wall of the living room, arms folded across his chest casually. But that stance also showed off the muscles in his arms and chest, along with the button-up shirt that was black and a little tight on him. The black in his shirt contrasted his silver hair and aqua eyes, which were bright. Altogether, she guessed that he was right around her age of twenty-one. She shook her head to chase away the thoughts, answering his inquiry.
"NORA stands for 'No Obligations, Rules, or Authority'. That's the opposite of what's true for real heroes."
"Agreed," the stranger said without hesitation. His boldness and acceptance of Lightning's words made her blink. She wasn't used to that. "They're reckless."
"And immature," Lightning added. "A code like that only proves that they have no idea that life isn't a game. They go around killing monsters, but they don't know what real danger is."
"I've never heard somebody actually put my thoughts into words like that," the young man said, smirking as he uncrossed his arms from over his chest. He stuck out a hand towards Lightning as he introduced himself. "I'm Riku. You must be Serah's 'grumpy' older sister."
"Grumpy, huh?" Lightning asked with a small smirk of her own, shaking Riku's hand. "Where'd you hear that?"
"Snow Villiers, though he said it in an affectionate tone."
"Ugh. I may as well slap him for the tone," Lightning said, lifting a hand to her forehead as she shook her head. Snow was way too chummy with people, especially her. It ticked her off.
"Hopefully you can restrain yourself for a while," Riku stated. "Wouldn't want to make a scene."
"My sister would kill me if I beat up her boyfriend."
Riku arched a brow. "You could take her. You're the soldier in the family."
Lightning chuckled briefly, shaking her head once more as she lifted her pale blue eyes to Riku, who was a few inches taller than her. "In a physical fight, yeah. But Serah always wins our arguments. It's impossible for me to stand seeing her sad."
"You love your sister, huh?" Riku asked softly.
The soldier nodded, turning a little bit to see Serah laughing and smiling with her boyfriend Snow. "I do," she said quietly. "I love her enough to let her keep dating that kook. I just hope she comes to her senses soon and ditches him."
"You're not one to mince words, are you?" he asked with some amusement in his tone. Lightning only shrugged in response.
"My feelings about Snow aren't a secret from anyone. Most people just ignore them." When Riku hummed to confirm that he understood, she continued, though she was mumbling now. "Besides, today was such a bad day I don't care what anybody thinks."
"That bad, huh?" Riku said to Lightning. Apparently he had a good ear if he could hear and decipher what she said. "You wanna talk about it?"
"What, you mean, pour out my heart to a stranger?" Lightning asked with an arched brow. Right after the words left her lips, the music in the area was turned up so it was blaring very loudly. Clearly everyone was meant to start dancing now.
"It's either that or stay in here and dance," Riku stated with a casual shrug. "Up to you."
"Hmph," Lightning hummed with a bitter smile, glancing at Serah and seeing her smile at her. As long as Serah knew she was socializing with somebody, then she wouldn't bring out the baby pictures. Going with Riku seemed to be her only option, since she refused to dance. "Alright. Let's go outside."
She turned and started out of the room, weaving her way between the people who were dancing and already acting like maniacs. Thank goodness nobody from NORA noticed her or tried to stop her on her way out. If she had to choose between dancing and talking, she'd choose talking.
The two stepped outside Lightning's front door, the air comfortable in the night as the stars shone brightly in the sky. It was a beautiful night. She ignored it, walking towards the bench that was out front and sitting down on one side of it. Riku, quite wisely, didn't try to make a move on her and sit within extremely close proximity. He sat just the right distance away to give her space but also show he wasn't put off by her boldness.
"So, you work with the Corps?" Riku asked after a moment. When he saw Lightning nod out of the corner of her eye, he asked another question. "And you were working there today, and it put you in a bad mood?" Again she nodded, not being prodded by the questions like she was meant to be. "…Are you gonna talk about it or just nod your head?"
"I don't know…it could be funny to see how long you can keep the questions going. And it would kill more time so I don't have to go back to the actual party."
"Ah, so that's what you're scheming," Riku said with a small smirk. "Can't say I blame you. I'm not big on parties either."
Finally, Lightning turned her head and looked over at the young man who was staring up at the stars. "What brought you to this party, then?" she asked.
"Peer pressure, basically. I've got friends who say I'm anti-social, so I came to prove to them I'm not. It should get them off my backs for…oh say, a week."
"Lucky you," Lightning said, surprisingly amused. "Serah will be bugging me by the end of the night because I'm not in there dancing."
"Still time to change your mind," Riku stated, as if were offering her a million dollar prize.
She only shook her head. "I'm good," she said. "Go on, keep asking all the questions."
"Hmph. Alright then…" The silver haired young man shifted his gaze to the sky, as if thinking. "What's your rank?"
"You been working there long?"
"Over three years, since I graduated high school."
"You like it?"
She shrugged. "Most of the time." Shockingly, Riku could read her easily enough that he could tell that she had more to say than just that. After a few moments, she did continue talking, and instead of giving the same stoic answers she had before, her response was more personal. "I just…I'm sick of all the empty promises. It's been six months since the Lieutenant above me promised me a promotion. And he's been bringing it up for a while, yet he hasn't done a single thing to make it happen. I deserve to be an Officer. I'm more dedicated than most of the people who are already Officers. I've proven myself much more than they have. Yet I'm stuck in my current position."
"Must be rough," Riku said quietly.
Lightning nodded faintly, looking down at her hands in her lap. "I don't want to live a boring, mundane life. But that's what my life is right now. I'm dedicating all my time to work and putting the rest of my life on hold until I'm promoted. I'm sick of living like this."
"Seems like you're irritated with more than just that," Riku stated. Confused, Lightning looked over at him. "You're frustrated with being manipulated by your boss. I would be too."
"Empty promises and empty words," Lightning muttered, shaking her head. "All that I get are loaded threats. You know they don't mince words when it comes to your faults, but when it comes to recognizing success…well…"
"They don't," Riku finished.
Once again, Lightning nodded. "Yeah." Her hands curled into fists in her lap, her eyebrows furrowing as she looked up towards the sky. Riku was right; the Corps didn't show gratitude or recognition for actions. It was all politics. The people who were in power weren't there because of skill necessarily. A lot of them were there because politics got them there. She tsked, shaking her head in disbelief. "Listen to me. I really am spilling my guts to a stranger."
"Yeah, well, it happens," Riku said with a shrug.
"Not with me." She didn't make friends easily, and yet she could talk to a guy she just met about all her frustrations? "I don't know what's wrong with me today."
"Probably a lot, but everyone's got a lot wrong with them. It's normal."
Lightning found herself shaking her head again, trying to get in a different place mentally. She didn't want to talk about this anymore. Now that she was done venting, she was more curious to find out more about the person who put up with her. "So, Riku-"
"Lightning!" an irritating familiar voice said from behind her. She and Riku both turned their heads just as Snow came over and put a hand on her shoulder. Her eye twitched in annoyance, but Snow didn't notice. "Serah sent me out to get you. Said you need to come back in and be social for a while."
"I'm being social out here," Lightning stated, lifting a hand and moving Snow's off her shoulder and onto the back of the bench.
"I can see that," he said, arching an eyebrow in interest. He probably never saw her talking to a guy alone before, especially not one who was so close to her own age and so handsome. "Still, Serah's orders remain. She said you'd know what happens if you don't come back in."
"I came out to the party. That wasn't a part of the deal," she responded icily, getting ticked off. Even Snow could tell, raising his hands in surrender as if to say, Don't kill the messenger. Lightning sighed, pushing herself up off the bench. "Fine," she said to Snow. She'd come back inside.
"Good choice," Snow Villiers said, giving her a thumbs-up in approval before. He turned around and walked back inside, shutting the door behind him to give Lightning and Riku a moment more of privacy. It didn't matter to her now; they weren't going to get deep in conversation now that she was getting dragged inside again.
Sighing, Lightning rose to her feet. "Guess I have no choice," she said, turning to face Riku as he too stood up. He nodded faintly in understanding.
"If you don't mind me asking…What did your sister threaten would happen if you didn't go back in?"
"She'd break out the baby pictures," Lightning said as she made a face.
Riku laughed, and that was when Lightning realized what a beautiful laugh he had. It was sweet. "That's something I actually wouldn't mind seeing," he stated. "You sure you don't want to stay out here?"
Lightning's face showed more disgust, the expression dramatic. It was unlike her to get this…juvenile, but she was enjoying it. She didn't question it. "No, I'm sure," she said, stepping around the bench and heading towards the door. That was when she noticed that Riku wasn't following. "Aren't you coming?" she asked with an arched brow.
"Wish I could, but I gotta get home," he said with a sheepish expression. "I work early tomorrow morning."
"On a Saturday? That's no fun," she said with some pity.
This time, it was Riku's turn to give an apathetic response. "Yeah, well, that's life." He stepped around the bench to stand closer to Lightning, though he wasn't imposing on her. He was smart enough not to do that. "But maybe I'll see you around sometime?"
"Yeah, maybe you will," Lightning said with a small nod. Her lips turned up in a faint smile, and Riku's did as well. For the first time that night, both of them felt a little shy. She chased away the feeling, holding out her hand for Riku to shake. "It was nice to meet you, Riku."
"You too, Lightning."
"Light," she said. When Riku gave her a confused look, she realized that she needed to explain further. "Call me Light."
"Light, hm," he hummed, his smile increasing a little in size. "I think that name suites you a little better than 'Lightning'."
Light's smile widened as well, and it was then that she and Riku let go of each other's hands in the handshake. She realized he was complimenting her, though it was subtle. It was…endearing.
Chuckling faintly in shyness, Riku lifted his hand to the back of his head and ran it over his shoulder-length silver hair. "Alright, Light, I'll see you around." He waved smoothly with that hand before he turned and walked away, leaving Lightning alone where she was.
The smile that she wore didn't wear off for a few seconds, her pale blue eyes on the young man who didn't turn around. But when she realized that she needed to get back inside, she wiped that smile off her expression before she turned around and went to face the torture that was waiting for her.