I can't believe he actually managed to do it, Light thought, shaking her head faintly as she approached his apartment. It had been a few days since she confronted him and blamed him for the problem, and a few days since the problem was fixed. As she walked, she recalled what happened that day.
She had been called to Lieutenant Amador's office on Tuesday, the day after the accusations. She waited outside in one of the chairs, able to hear that Cid Raines from PSICOM was already inside and preparing to show the evidence to Amador to prove that Lightning was in the wrong. But in reality, something went wrong on Raines's part. The audio that he had proving her "guilt" was erased from his audio device. Then Lieutenant Amador lost his temper.
He scolded Raines severely, saying that this was all a part of his plot to take away one of Amador's best soldiers. And, from now on, he wouldn't be trusting anything Cid said at face value. Light still remembered the words that she heard clearly through the door: "You almost made me fire my greatest soldier. I hope you're happy."
After it was all said and done, Raines left and Lightning went into the office alone. He apologized profusely and assured her that she wasn't being demoted at all, and that he was wrong to question her integrity. But he didn't promise her a promotion either. That made Lightning upset, but she didn't say anything to his face. She was still too shocked that Raines actually couldn't provide the evidence he promised.
Riku came through after all.
And now, she was too.
It felt so strange, to be on her way to a date. She wouldn't admit it, but…this was her first date. She never looked for another significant other in life because she didn't believe she could find one. She was always in survival mode, always preparing for the next fight. Always preparing for the losses in life. But to gain…That would be something truly new to her.
"Tch," she grunted, lifting her hand to the curly hair that dangled over her soldier as always. There was no need to get sentimental here. Nothing was going to change…She couldn't change. She was who she was. She was only going on this date because she was forced to, not because she believed Riku could actually be her life partner. Or so she told herself.
Riku was really confusing, that was for sure. He gave her specific instructions for the date: show up to his apartment in clothes that she could be active in and bring nicer clothes along in another bag. She tried to figure out why, but Riku was one of the few people that she couldn't read. It was somewhat irritating, but at the same time…appealing. Tonight would be interesting.
She knocked on the door of his apartment as her bag was slung over her shoulder, the soldier wearing black yoga pants and a grey tank top. She hoped that this was alright for whatever Riku was planning.
When he opened the door and she saw him wearing sweats and a wife-beater, she felt reassured. But also a little flustered. Even dressed down, he was really handsome. Really out of her league. Little did she know that he was thinking the same about her. "Hey," she greeted with a slight nod.
"Hey," Riku said as he stepped aside and motioned for her to come in. As she did, he gave her further instruction. "You can just throw your bag on the couch or something. We'll be back later."
"Where are we going?" Lightning asked, doing as Riku said and setting her bag on the couch.
"Not telling yet," he responded with a slight smirk. He held out an item in his hand for Light to take, a water bottle. "You're going to need this."
"For what?" she asked again.
"You're a nosey one, aren't you?" Riku asked as his own smirk grew. He didn't even bother waiting for a response since her expression clearly answered the question. "Tell you what: Let's start walking, and then you can ask all the questions you want."
"Sort of like the other night?" Like when they were talking about Light's job and Riku had to ask twenty questions to pry something out of her?
"Exactly," he said, offering Lightning a small smile. "C'mon. Let's get going."
This was most certainly the strangest date Lightning had ever been on…and the only one. But before she left, Serah told her what to expect. None of that was happening. Riku wasn't being extremely flirtatious with her or touching her all the time. She could only remember one instance where he touched her in a way that could be considered flirtatious, and that was when she was about to walk the wrong direction. And the location of their date wasn't romantic either. After about twenty questions (and seeing the sign on the building when they got there), she figured out what his plans were.
They were at a rock-climbing building.
After Riku paid for the both of them, he helped strap her in to her harness (though she didn't need assistance) and then belayed her. And though he insisted that she didn't need to belay him, she took time to do that for a while. She was a soldier; she could handle his weight even if he was more built and taller than she was. It was alright if she wasn't always climbing; she still had fun.
After a while though, two of the workers belayed the both of them so that they could climb together. That was when they really started having conversation, just about each other and random topics in general. Nothing was forced, and Riku was careful with the questions that he asked. What she didn't understand was how he could read her so easily. She wasn't an open book, yet he knew to be careful asking about family and friends. It seemed like he cared more about her than her relationships with those around her anyway.
But rock climbing didn't last forever. The two of them returned to Riku's apartment and they both got cleaned up. Riku was also wise enough not to go to a very fancy restaurant after they were both sweating at the rock climbing center. New clothes could only clean them up so much, after all. Instead, they went to the beach and ate the picnic-type food that he brought. It wasn't great food, but it wasn't terrible either. Riku clearly put effort into it so she took it with a small smile and just ate. This whole thing was really…sweet. Not intimidating, even for her. It helped that they were just in jeans and casual shirts and not dressed up in cocktail dresses or anything. She was comfortable with him.
"Now that we're alone-ish," Riku said, glancing out of the corner of his eye at another group further down the beach who clearly couldn't hear them and weren't interested in them, "do you mind if I ask more personal questions?"
"Guess not," she said with a shrug. "Just as long as you don't mind me not answering some of them."
"Fair enough. …What's the deal with your family? Is it just you and Serah?"
Lightning nodded faintly as she chewed on her sandwich. She had seen this question coming; Riku had been subtly building up to it. Who wouldn't be curious about the situation? They had a party the other night in their house and no parents were around. Sure, they were grown up (eighteen and twenty-one), but sisters normally didn't live together in such a nice house unless they were still with their parents. She swallowed and elaborated on the family situation so Riku wouldn't have to ask any awkward questions. "My dad died when I was seven. Mom passed when I was fifteen."
"Wow…" Riku trailed off, gazing at the ocean as his eyebrows furrowed. "What…What happened?"
"My dad was in the Corps," she said. "He was killed on some kind of top-secret mission. And Mom…she was sick for a long time. A disease that ran in her family."
"…I'm…I'm so sorry."
She only shrugged. "Don't say sorry. You didn't do anything." She didn't like it when people apologized pointlessly; it was more empty words to her. Even if people said it with good intentions, she felt a little irritated with whoever said it.
"No, but it's sad when two girls lose their parents when they're so young."
"Yeah, but we survived," Lightning said stoically. "I became Serah's legal guardian when I was fifteen." Predicting the next, obvious question, she answered it automatically. "No other family members to take us in."
Riku looked over at Light, his aqua eyes studying her in a new light. It was like he was analyzing her, which she wasn't sure if she liked or not. She wasn't used to anybody actually trying to step into her life like Riku was trying to.
"What did you do after that?" he asked after a moment.
Again, Light shrugged. "We kept living. We went to school, and I managed to get a grade ahead while working a job to sustain me and Serah. I graduated soon after I turned seventeen and then joined the Corps." She looked over at Riku and saw the same look she had been feeling for a while, the gaze that said he was trying to figure something out. "What?"
"Nothing," he said as he shook his head. "Just…You're the only person I know who would rise out of adversity like that and come out on top. It's admirable."
Even if she wasn't accustomed to getting them, Light knew a compliment when she heard one. "Well, thanks," she said softly, unable to take her eyes off Riku for some reason. His gaze was so…earnest. Sincere. That wasn't something that she often saw in the young men in Bodhum. "Do you mind if I ask you a question or two now?"
"If it's about my family, I can just explain right out front."
"It's not about your family, it's about you," Light said. She wasn't used to having this type of conversation with anyone, ever, but there was something about Riku that compelled her to be honest. "I'm just…trying to understand…Why would you want to go on a date with me?"
A small smile tugged at Riku's lips as he answered. "Because," he said simply. "You're special."
Special? Light rolled her eyes, shaking her head in disbelief as she looked to the ocean. "I'm the black sheep of Bodhum," she said. "While every other girl is concerned with the next date, what they're wearing, and their friends, I'm concerned with working out and getting stronger."
"Exactly," he said without batting an eye. "You're not shallow." He lifted a hand and set it on Light's shoulder, that being the first very intimate touch of the date. "You're not selfish, either. You gave up your life for the sake of your sister." As soon as he said those words, he noticed Light shaking her head. "What?"
"I didn't do everything for Serah," she said quietly, looking down at her lap. "I did a lot of it for me. It was my way of coping with the loss of my mom."
Still Riku didn't shun her. "So?" he asked softly. "That doesn't change anything. You're a good person, Light. I know you love your sister, and you joined the Corps to help others too. You may not speak much of yourself, but I can tell that much."
"Why are you doing this, Riku?" she inquired quietly. Why was he so interested in her? There were other girls in this city who would love to be with him, yet he pursued her. He was different than every other person she knew; better. So much better.
"Because, Light," he said softly, moving his hand off her shoulder. He lifted his hand closer to her face, the backs of his fingers trailing over her cheek. "I like you. And I…I haven't had anybody in the past who made such a lasting impression on me after just one meeting. I want to have you in my life."
"You don't even know me," she whispered, though she got chills at Riku's gentle movement.
"I know," he whispered in response, nodding faintly. "But I want to. Will you let me know you, Light?"
Lightning shook her head automatically, though that wasn't her actual response. "Riku," she started. "I don't…" I don't let anyone know me. But when she looked into his aqua eyes, she couldn't just push him away. He was the first person to actually want to know her…And the first person who was wise enough to approach her in a way that didn't scare her off. That made her change her mind. "…Yes," she said softly. "I'll let you know me."
Riku smiled widely, nodding to her but keeping his hands to himself. "We'll go at your pace," he said softly, referring to whatever type of relationship they'd have. "You let me in at your pace and I'll take whatever you give me."
This time, it was Light's turn to smile. "Alright," she said quietly. "Deal."
Author's note: That's it! That's the end of the story. (: I know, I know. You're asking yourself what comes next. That's good. YOU decide what comes next, whether it's a happy ending or something else. But for now, I'm done working on this story. If I ever decide to change it and add more, I will. But I'd rather provide new, fresh stories if I can.
So that's that, kiddies. Review, check out my other stories, and have a good day!