Author's Note: I know a lot of people like the Lightning/Hope pairing from Final Fantasy 13…and I'm one of them. However, in playing Dissidia Duodecim, am I one of the few who noticed that Lightning and Kain had a little thing going? Seriously, Lightning was kind of a bitch to everyone in her group…except for Kain. Please disregard any plot conflicts with the original story, I'm just having fun. (I also apologize to any archers out there; I don't think you're useless, it's just a plot device!)

The Warrior of Roses and a Violet Knight

Heaven knew Kain Highwind had been in more dire situations. But he was a levelheaded guy, strong, silent, and sharp, and he liked to read people.

Here, in the world he liked to call the 'Lapse', he was not alone, joined by five other warriors from different worlds. Vaan and Laguna were the two other male warriors, quite unlike Kain. Vaan was a friendly rogue, blue-eyed and blond with an easy smile and a sort of nonchalance to all of his actions. Even now, he looked relaxed, leaned up against the wall with his arms resting behind his head.

Laguna Loire was in his twenties, with long sable hair and gentle teal eyes; although he was a soldier he was a mess of inconsistencies. At once he was wise and stupid, focused and dreamy, willful and flexible. If he was not so kind, Kain might have found him annoying, but Laguna was indeed an enigma.

Then the ladies. Kain, having been raised in the presence of royalty, could not call any woman less than a lady, although the ladies with him now were nothing like the ones in Baron.

Tifa Lockhart was a voluptuous beauty from the world of Gaia, with long dark hair and kindness in her brown eyes. Although she was a savage martial artist, Tifa was nurturing, happy, and made friends easily. Her smile was infectious and although he was a gentleman, even Kain could not help but notice her gorgeous hourglass body.

Lady Yuna was actually royalty and she held herself as so. She was attired more modestly than Tifa and the two were nigh inseparable. She was altruistic, patient, and sweet as sugar; honestly, Kain didn't know what she was doing in a battle zone, as she adored peace more than anything.

The last lady's name was Lightning Farron.

Kain, even thinking of her, felt the urge to sidle up next to her and chat. Lightning was as harsh and brutal as her namesake: war-like, distrustful, with a glare that could freeze Ifrit. Her soft hair was an icy pink, her eyes were icy blue, she really was just an ice queen, and although she was a good leader, she was a poor communicator. Naturally, he liked her immensely.

He brushed against her just enough that she noticed his presence. Her eyes shot sparks but it was clear she was making an effort to be cordial. "Highwind." Was her only greeting.

"Lightning." He said, attempting to sound gallant, while maintaining an appropriate distance. "Should we move along?" Laguna and Lightning had taken unspoken control of the group, but Laguna was equally as likely to get them lost as he was to successfully lead a mission. Meanwhile, Lightning would brood or wander off by herself unless instigated to lead. So Kain had taken it upon himself to be the instigator.

Her glare increased but Kain stayed stoic and waited. Dealing with Lightning required otherworldly patience and calm.

Lightning sighed heavily. "Fine." Kain fought back a smile as she strode purposefully toward the remaining four.

He liked the way she asserted herself. Kain had loved Rosa for so long…that painful, unrequited love he had harbored for her for so long. His sweet, beautiful lady Rosa…who loved Cecil, Kain's best friend. Kain shook off the pain and continued to watch Lightning. She was nothing like gentle Rosa. Lightning was an amazon, a warrior-queen, a steel princess and Kain found that beautiful in it's own way.

With a small smile, he went to rejoin his new comrades as Lightning tried to create some semblance of a strategy.


Kain looked down the blade at Lightning who was shaking with fury and obvious pain. He knew it was not the time or place, but he admired her blade. It was unlike any he had seen before: a twisting clockwork confection of a gun and a sword. Sharp as death it was, but he had seen it when she made the death stroke with that magnificent sword and red rose petals fell like rain. It was almost as beautiful as she was, a perfect finishing move for a Valkyrie.

He could see her pearly teeth clench in anger but her blue eyes were shot with sadness. "You…Highwind! You had better have a good reason for…for betraying us! If not…" Her blade shook.

Kain had no doubt in his mind that Lightning could kill him, but he knew she would hate to do it.

"Do you trust me in the least, Lady Lightning?" He asked. The glare in her eyes was such that Kain knew it had been a poorly phrased question. He raised his armored palms in a sign of peace. "Allow me to ask again. Have you, in all our time together, trusted me even the slightest?" Lightning looked down in obvious pain. "Then you will honor even our shadow of friendship by listening to me before you run that blade through my heart. If you find my explanation lacking in any way, then I welcome it. But please…"

Lightning took a deep breath, before steeling herself. "Talk! Tell me why you killed Bartz and Zidane and…whoever else!"

Kain admired her blunt way of speaking. "First of all, I didn't kill them, I put them to sleep for the time being." Then Kain launched into his story: about how the cycle in Lapse would never end, how putting their comrades to sleep would protect them from the Manikins. "I'm sorry I didn't trust you with something so important, but I felt like you might have disagreed with my course of actions. Please forgive me, Lady Lightning. I meant no betrayal by my actions…" She had lowered her blade by that point, thankfully.

"Are you telling me the truth?"

"Well, you don't have much of a choice. If you kill me now, you'll never know whether I was truly on your side or not; but if I betray you later, I know you could slay me without even batting an eyelash. But please believe me when I say that we are on the same side."

Lightning gave a sigh that racked her athletic frame. "I…it appears that I'm running low on allies as it is. I'm forced to rely on you, it seems." She sounded so disgruntled that Kain had to fight very hard to keep from smiling.

"I will not fail you again." Kain said bowing low. He knew that Lightning hated being treated like anything less than a soldier. He couldn't help it; he was conditioned to treat ladies with the utmost respect. And she was glaring when he rose again. "What is our next course of action?"

Lightning put away her blade, looking very much haggard and exhausted; Kain got the urge to suggest that she rest, but fought it back down. Lightning was not the type to take kindly to others worrying about her well-being. "I was separated from Tifa and Yuna and naturally Vaan and Laguna are gone. I swear, I turned my back for five seconds…"

Kain had the feeling that Vaan had been enticed by something shiny while Laguna had probably taken several wrong turns and was now scratching his head at a solid wall that had appeared in front of him.

"We will find them eventually." Kain said optimistically, slinging his lance over his shoulder. "This world is not so large as I originally thought. So long as they don't run wild…" Lightning gave him a look as though she thought that never in a million years would that scenario ever come to fruition. Kain began to follow her, watching the place between her muscular shoulder blades. She was thinking, he could tell.

"Highwind?" She asked both hesitantly and like she was barking a command. Only Lightning could pull off such a feat.

But he humored her. "Yes?"

"Does it…does it ever bother you that you can't remember? That you don't know about your home or your mission or even whom you love? You seem so calm all the time. Aren't you ever bothered by the unknown?" Lightning was bothered. The fact that she did not know ate at her like a cancer, because Lightning without a mission was not Lightning at all. "What if everything I know is a lie? What if I've forgotten someone important?"

Kain patted her very softly on her exposed shoulder. "Well, if it's so important to me then I'll remember eventually. There's no point in worrying about things that may not even exist…Lost never means erased. I do remember some things, like my friendship with Cecil. Or my home, Baron, or how to treat a lady. I remember Lady Rosa…" He wished he could bite back the words as soon as they were out of his mouth, but Lightning seemed not to even notice. Her expression remained unchanged and she stayed silent in what he thought was contemplation.

"What was she like?" Lightning's voice cracked like a whip through the silence. "The woman you always talk about, Lady Rosa, what is she like?"

Kain treaded softly on this subject. "Lady Rosa was raised with us in the castle and she is in love with Cecil. They're both very similar…gentle, intelligent, courageous, and the people of Baron love them. Not like me…" By describing Rosa alongside Cecil, it made it seem like she was unattainable to Kain.

Lightning paused. "I suppose…she's very beautiful…"

Kain shrugged. "Many think so…" Himself included. Rosa was known to be one of the most beautiful women in all of Baron. With her angelic face, wavy honey-colored hair, and pale teal eyes that could root a man to the spot if she looked right into his. Kind as she was beautiful, Rosa was a national sensation paired with the hero knight, Cecil. Kain was content to fade into the shadowy background of the shining couple, so long as they still considered him their friend.

"Can she fight?" Kain smiled at this question; Lightning determined the worth of a person on their fighting prowess.

"Oh yes. She is our archer."

Lightning made a noise of discontent. "Archers are useless except in sieges. You're much more handy than she would ever be."

Kain almost laughed in shock. Almost. It may have been a clever trick, but it seemed as though stony Lightning Farron had just paid him a compliment (although he knew if he brought it up again, she would staunchly deny it). She was trying to make him feel better by accepting that he had worth. Although it would be a small compliment from another, from Lightning it had true worth.

"Is there anything that you can remember, Lightning?" He quickened his pace, ever so slightly so that he was abreast of her.

Her brow furrowed in thought. "Someone…someone I love is lost…They took her. I can see her face in my mind and I feel her in my heart…but for all that is holy, I cannot remember her name…" Lightning at that moment looked so much like a scared, fragile little girl that Kain momentarily wanted to put his arm around her. It was probably good that he didn't; she would have definitely broken his arms.

Still, he put his hand on her shoulder, like he would have done for a comrade, like he would have done for Cecil or Rosa. "Lightning. Don't worry. Soon this nightmare will be what you've forgotten and you'll remember what's truly important. Everything will be…it will work out."

Lightning turned to him and there was something like softness in the sharp icicles that were her blue eyes. "I…I do want to remember, but I don't want to forget this either, Highwind. Even if I go through hell, it will only make me stronger. I don't want to forget anything. Especially this place." Kain had to fight to keep a look of stoicism on his face; so cold, proud Lady Lightning did have some love in her heart. Whether or not she denied it, she did cherish this experience a little…she felt at least something for him. Kain bit back the bubble of happiness that was rising in his chest. "I wish I could be as upbeat as you, Highwind."

"Nonsense." Kain scoffed. "We have too many positive people in our group. We need someone sensible and straightforward to keep us realistic. We need you Lightning." She nodded softly in thanks.

As Kain watched her expression, he was suddenly overtaken by breathlessness as she blinked her faintly rose-colored eyelashes, her lips half open to release a soft sigh. Although it was most improper for a royal and chivalrous dragoon, Kain wondered, like an itch in his heart, whether or not those set and stony lips had ever been kissed by another. He bit his lips; if intimate contact would cost him broken limbs, a kiss would probably get him killed by her wonderful blade.

Kain fought back the feeling, taking a deep breath, before he continued to follow her. She was nothing like Rosa…and he found that he was beginning to like that more and more.

Night fell quickly over the sky of Lapse and Kain's dark armor blended very nicely with the shadows. But the place was cold, and the two of them dared not light a fire for fear of attracting the manikins. Kain was warm inside his armor, but it brought him no comfort as Lightning was freezing in her skirt and sleeveless jacket. Wherever she had come from, it must have been warmer, and she trembled ever so slightly, although not a word of complaint came from her. She would never admit to weakness in from of him.

It tortured him, knowing that a lady was freezing in front of his eyes.

"Don't you dare start a fire." She murmured so that he would not hear her teeth chatter. "We can't keep looking for shelter, it could take all night and we have to get some sleep. I will be fine, damn it. I'll even take the first watch if you want." It was almost like she could read his mind, for he had been contemplating all of those things.

Silently, and in unwanted assent, he rolled over so that his back was to her, but he heard her pace to get warm. And he could not sleep for thinking about it.

Eventually coming to terms with the fact that he would get no sleep that evening, Kain formulated a plan to keep his comrade from contracting frostbite. First, he would use his magic to cast a sleep spell on Lightning, making it so that she would not wake up for a good five hours. Meanwhile, the goddess Cosmos had given all of her warriors the ability to use alternate clothing, depending on their situation and one of Kain's was a desert-style outfit that he could disassemble more easily than armor and use as a blanket for Lightning. Of course, he would probably be unspeakably cold in the process, but it was a sacrifice he was willing to make.

When Lightning roused him for his turn on the watch, Kain executed his plan to perfection, watching as his spell was put to work, and the tense muscles in her shoulders relaxed in sleep. Kain then removed both his blue shirt and tattered brown cape, both of them imbued with his body heat, before he placed them lovingly over her exposed shoulders and legs. As a sign of her extreme cold, she instantly snuggled deeper into her rudimentary covers and Kain smiled outright.

Lightning reminded him of how he would act as a child: cold, cynical and strong, but in sleep, she was just as fragile and empathetic as anyone else. Before he could stop himself, Kain stroked some of her pink bangs from her forehead, noticing that her brow was smooth and peaceful. Of course, as he withdrew his hand, he would go no further than a chaste touch; Kain was a true gentleman, to his very core, and he would not even consider assaulting a lady while she slept.

Kain rubbed his cold arms, trying to ignore the iciness of his surroundings, his bare torso, as impressive as it was, had no fat to insulate him from the cold. Somehow, whenever his gaze wandered to sleeping form of Lightning Farron, he was filled with warmth, like liquid gold. To keep himself warm, Kain spent most of his watch gazing at her serene features until the sun rose lazily, turning the landscape all sorts of pink and orange. Kain jumped out of his thawing stupor; he had to work quickly before she woke up and killed him for treating her gently.

Light-fingered as a seamstress, he retrieved his warm shirt and cape and slid them back on, inhaling deeply. Lightning did not smell as sweet as most girls. She did not bother to hide the scent of her sweat, but underneath the smell of a warrior, there was the faintest trace of roses. Kain's eyes rolled back in his head.

He saw Lightning stir, first as the cold hit her warm skin and second as the light of the sun dawned on her face. Her brow furrowed and her ice blue eyes opened in confusion, perhaps at the warmth coming from her skin. She turned to Kain, who had quickly changed back into his violet armor. He gazed at her levelly.

"Good morning, lady." He said softly, nodding his head. Beneath his armor, he could still smell roses. "Shall we press on? Or do you need a moment?"

It was amazing how black of a look she could give, even after just waking up. But she stood instantly, her neck arching in fierce pride. She wanted to prove to him that she was not so delicate that she needed 'a moment' to compose herself. Kain bit back a smile but nodded to his leader.

"After you…"

Lightning stretched herself and looked to the sunrise before rubbing her arms. "Highwind…did you…?" She began to pose a question, confused.

Kain smiled softly. "Yes?"

Lightning looked down, thinking hard. "It's…nothing…" But as they continued walking, she kept feeling her skin. And the unaccustomed warmth.


Kain did not know the names for any of the places in the Lapse, save for the Order's Sanctuary (which he secretly called the Cradle of Cosmos). The ground was not ground at all, but water that could be walked on and the crystalline land shone white like pearls from where they jutted from the ground. Although the sky was always dark gray with clouds, it was indescribably beautiful in the Cradle.

"Kain! Lightning!" A familiar voice cried and Kain smiled as he saw lovely Tifa running towards them over the water. Gentle Yuna was not far behind with Laguna and Vaan staying close to the center of the Cradle, Laguna looking sheepish, Vaan nonchalant.

And in the center was the ethereal Cosmos. Somber and sweet, with long golden hair and insightful blue eyes, she was like Rosa: the epitome of a lady. She watched Kain and Lightning with bated joy. Kain was happy to see all of them.

"Light! You're ok!" Yuna sighed, wringing Lightning's hand. Only Yuna, angelic, darling Yuna, could get away with such an intimate gesture with Lightning and not get destroyed. Still, Lightning looked slightly uncomfortable. "We were all so worried about you…"

"Where is the Warrior of Light?" Kain asked as he joined up with the rest of the company. Usually the stoic and brave knight was always at Cosmos' side. But he was not among them.

Cosmos gave a sigh that rippled through her delicate body, and she lowered her blue eyes in sadness. "He was…he was defeated in battle. I only just managed to save him. But I have had to put him into the sleep stasis…to save him." Cosmos had always held a soft spot in her heart for the warrior and Kain felt pain for her. Lightning remained impassive.

"So it's true then that you were having Kain and the Warrior put us into sleep stasis?" Lightning asked sharply. Apparently, she had not entirely forgiven that fact.

Cosmos nodded softly. "It is so. But this has created an unforeseen problem. As the warriors sleep, the manikins continue to come from the Rift in untold numbers. I fear I might not be able to hold them all off in time for the stasis to complete." She looked at each of them levelly, pleading in her oceanic eyes. "I know that you all owe me nothing, that I, in fact, am indebted to you, but if I could impose upon you, my remaining warriors one last time." Kain felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. "I beg of you, for the sake of this world and for harmony itself, please, go to the Rift and attempt to cease the flow of the manikins."

"It…It's a suicide mission." Laguna said gravely.

Kain looked to the watery ground. His mind was already made. He would do it. But not for this ridiculous conflict he had been pulled into. He would do it to protect his comrades. He'd do it for Cecil and Bartz and Zidane for Yuna and Tifa…and Lightning. Most of all Lightning.

"I'll do it!" Vaan said valiantly, smiling roguishly. "It seems as though I'll die either way. Might as well go down swinging." His logic was twisted but at least he was brave.

"I'm in." Laguna said, slinging his gun over his shoulder. "I suppose it's heroic to die for a good cause. Plus I'm kind of an insomniac…"

Kain stepped up next, silently. But he noticed, in horror, as Tifa and Yuna also stepped forward. This was all wrong. They should not have to be killed…sacrificed for this endeavor. At least Lightning had not made a motion to move yet. They all looked back to where she stood brooding in the shadows. Her icy eyes flashed.

"I refuse."

Cosmos gasped, putting her hands over her heart and Laguna actually looked upset. "Lightning…why?"

She turned, her shoulders knotted with stress. "I refuse…to believe that this is the only way. I will not fight the manikins. I'm going to get us all out of here." As she walked away, Yuna moved to follow her but Kain stopped her with one arm outstretched. Yuna looked up at him questioningly and he nodded to her in deference.

"My lady Yuna." He said softly. "Let me try to talk to her. Please."

Yuna bit her lip and nodded and Kain felt the inquiring stares of his four remaining comrades burning into his back. Still, he followed Lightning into the darkness, thinking of what he could possibly say to her. It was not going well.

When he finally caught up to her, Lightning was outside of the Sanctuary, looking off to the horizon. Her blue eyes were thousands of miles away and her expression was unreadable. Kain cleared his throat as he came up beside her and she looked over to him, unseeing.

"Lightning…" He removed his violet helmet, setting it on the ground beside him. She should be able to look into his eyes. "Lady, what troubles you?"

"I remembered." She said softly, but her voice was like broken glass. "I remembered that the only person I've ever loved, the only family I have left was taken from me. I failed to protect my little sister and now she will die, all because I am weak. I don't want more innocents to die…because I'm weak."

Kain also looked to the horizon. "So…you admit that you are human. It is not so terrible a thing. I admire your weakness." She turned to him in either sadness or fury, but he continued. "Do you know why? It is because your weakness only makes your bravery more admirable. You cannot have true courage without knowing true fear. Now, in our darkest hour, when all hope is lost, that is when we must draw strength from our courage. You are the most exemplary human being, Lightning."

"There must be another way." She said her voice thick with emotion.

"We have no time for another way." Kain replied softly. "The manikins grow ever stronger and the time to act is now. It may be hard to bear, but our sacrifice will not be in vain. The cycle will continue and the fight for harmony will be stronger than ever. I am sure of it."

"How? How can you be so sure?"

"Because I have faith. I believe in our comrades. I believe in Cosmos and my own abilities. But most of all, I believe in you, Lightning. I know you have the strength."

"I feel…hopeless." She was scared. And more than that, she was just like Kain. Orphaned, alone, and lost in confusion…Kain knew the feeling all too well. He knew the pain and the indecision.

"If…if you don't consider it improper, Lady Lightning, I should…I should like to embrace you…" Kain had to struggle to find the right words…so she wouldn't kill him. "If it would ease your sorrow…"

Lightning laughed bitterly. "I can't even remember…the last time…" But she turned herself so she was facing him, although she stared sullenly at the ground. Kain's heart was in his throat.

Slowly, as if she was a butterfly and too quick of a movement could startle her away, Kain wove his arms around her solid back, pulling her close so that her pink hair was directly under his chin. Unsurprisingly, she did not make a move to return the embrace, remaining stiff as a board, her arms clenched at her side. She really was unused to human contact. But Kain was not deterred.

He began to rock her a little, like a child, stroking her hair, and gradually she began to burrow against his armored chest until her fists gripped the plates at his collar.

"H-How do you know…just what to do…to make me so at ease…?"

Kain rested his chin on the top of her head. It smelled like roses. "Because I'm just like you. I was orphaned. My sole purpose was to shield the weak so that they would not know the same sorrow I had to endure. And I too, have felt the grief in having what I love torn from my arms. I know helplessness. I know despair. And, most importantly, I know the aching desire to be treated like a child. To be comforted and told that everything will be fine. Even if it's an open lie. I know what I need and I am more than willing to give it to you…Even in our short time together, I care for you deeply, because you feel that no one else will."

She looked up at him, her lips and fists shaking. "You're treating me like a little girl…"

"I'm treating you like a human." Kain fired back. "Do you not think that if one of the others had left, I would have gone after them as well? I am regarding you as I would any of my comrades." She made a motion like she was going to push away, but Kain held tight. "However, I would never hold anyone like this. Not Tifa, not Lady Yuna, not even Lady Rosa."

Lightning stopped moving and her eyes were all ice. But it was thawing quickly. "Then why me?"

Kain grinned. "I cannot say exactly... But I like your prickly nature and your cool heart and your pride. I like your war-like demeanor and your complete and utter lack of femininity, as I know it. I like your glaring and the way you shout commands and isolate yourself from all of us. Or try to, at least."

Lightning twisted her lips. "Funny. Those are all the things people usually like least about me. It's almost as if…you're confessing."

Kain leaned his head back. He wished he hadn't worn his armor so that he could feel her body up against him. "Is that the word I was looking for?" There was a hilarious look of disbelief on her face. "Perhaps so…I fear as though I have fallen in love with you, my dear Lightning."

"Impossible." She said, wriggling out of his grasp. He let her go. "We're about to go on…what was Laguna's phrase? A 'suicide mission'? There's nothing…"

Kain was warmed. "Then you're coming with us?"

She shook her head. "I can't let you all die alone, as I do nothing…"

Kain, completely out of character, ran up to her and embraced her from behind. She instantly became stiff. "I knew you would help us. I knew it! And…if now is not the time to admit that I love you, then I do not know a more proper time. I love you, my lady, and even if the time we have left is hours or minutes, I am happy to have it to spend with you."

As he set her back down, her ears were bright red. "D-Don't call me 'my lady'." She turned on her heel so she was facing him, the ice in her eyes melted. Now they were blue as the winter sky, honest, open, and breathtakingly lovely. "Call me 'Light'." Like a viper, her hands took hold of his golden hair, yanking his head down so hard that he thought she would twist it off.

Her lips met his with all the sharp intensity of her namesake. Surprisingly, he found that he would not want it any other way. She was his cactus blossom, his amazon, his valkyrie, a bolt of electricity sent from heaven or hell…or both.

Well, if Lightning was going to take the part of 'all-out-passionate-need', Kain would practice the way he had always treated women: with gentleness that belied his appearance. As she jerked his neck, in ways that the human anatomy was not meant to bend, forcing his lips open with her sharp tongue, Kain was soft as he could manage, his lips barely brushing hers. If anyone had been watching, it would have appeared that she was the one assaulting him. He smiled.

As she bit his tongue and his lips, Kain stroked her cheeks, curled her hair behind her ears, and traced the muscles running down her neck. When she pulled away, gasping, Kain was glowing with happiness.

"Is something the matter?"

"Why won't you kiss me back?" She asked hotly.

"Don't you like to be treated like a princess?" He asked. He liked the feeling. He wanted to spoil her until she was numb.

"No." She snarled, practically tearing off her jacket. "I'm no princess. Don't insult me." She latched on his armor with sharp fingernails and attempted to pry it off. Kain let her do as she liked, peeling the violet armor off like scales. "How the hell…? How can you get this on or off?"

Smoothly, Kain found the latches underneath his metal outfit and unclipped them, the amethyst plating falling to the ground easily; this left him in his undershirt and blue slacks. Kain reveled in the look of disbelief she was giving him; she overcomplicated everything.

"Where were we?" He asked sweetly. Lightning shook her head.

She crushed up against him again, and he sighed as the softness of her crushed up against him. He heard the sound of a zipper and her tight little sweater dropped down her shoulders. Kain pulled away.

"May I touch you?" He asked breathlessly.

"Why do you ask stupid questions?" She asked, her eyes burning white hot.

He kissed her softly on the mouth. "I'm only afraid…that you'll break my hands." He set his hands on her muscular chest and encountered a fabric barrier. "What manner of garment is this?" It completely obscured her breasts from view and he stroked it curiously.

Impatiently, Lightning nearly tore it off. "It's a bra. And I won't hurt you, Kain."

Kain's lavender eyes grew wide in shock before her grabbed Lightning softly by the hair that framed her face and pulled her forward, kissing her furiously. She appeared confused, so Kain pulled away to explain, grinning like a fool. "You've always called me 'Highwind'. And you called me Kain…"

Lightning blushed and looked away sullenly. "…It's your name…isn't it?"

Kain kissed her lovingly. "Say it again?"

Lightning pulled his hands to her bare chest. "No." Kain did not expect anything less from his warrior princess. He wrapped his hands around her chest, feeling them warm under his palms. There was softness there, yes, but there was also raw and powerful muscle, twitching as she breathed.

Although she had ordered him to be more aggressive, he could not help himself. He ran his lips down her throat, never nipping or licking, and he felt goosebumps rise to his touch. He moved his hands softly, in circles, so as not to hurt her, and even though she bit his lip near to bleeding and almost pulled his golden hair out, he refused to go any faster.

Lightning pushed him hard to the ground so that he fell to a sitting position. Swiftly, before he could stand up again, she sat astride him, firmly pushing his face into her chest. He sighed, smelling roses.

"You're terrible at this!" She exclaimed as he laid chaste kisses on her sternum.

"I am not." He argued. "You're just being difficult." Gently, very gently, he kissed the side of her left breast and felt her shudder. Her brown skirt, which had slid up dangerously high on her hips, made it so that her pelvis was pressed firmly against his legs. Just one kiss and he could feel heat pouring from her. Overwhelmed with adoration so deep that he thought he might melt, Kain bit his lip to hold back a smile.

Lightning, blushing and miserable, averted her eyes. "Oh…fuck you…"

"As you wish." He said impertinently, pulling her hips up against his stomach. Lightning did her absolute best to bite back a cry as he flexed the muscles of his abdomen against the fabric over her crotch. She looked down at him, her bottom lip shaking.

Kain frowned, teasing. "You don't like this either, Light? You're unsurprisingly hard to please…"

She was not to be outdone. With a snarl, she reclaimed his lips and he was more than ready for her, his thin tongue winding sensuously through her mouth so she could not subdue him. He liked to frustrate her. As he did so, Kain rubbed her strong and skinny legs, feeling the flesh yield under his thumbs until he was pushing up against the hem of her skirt.

With a hint of madness, Lightning broke away from the kiss, just long enough to strip herself down to the skin, also yanking Kain's shirt over his head. As she made a motion to sit again, Kain tried to get her to remain standing. She looked at him questioningly as he held her legs, in awe.

"Just…let me look at you…" Lightning flushed scarlet in fury and embarrassment, but Kain held fast, looking up at her pleadingly. "Please! Only…for a moment…"

Looking like she would rather swallow poison, Lightning assented and Kain drowned in her. She was surprisingly small of frame, with thin arms and legs and petite breasts and hips; but every inch of that slender frame was laced with hard muscle. She was covered with scars and bruises, but all he could see was a most beautiful woman, rosy hair at her hips.

"You're beautiful…"

"Ok, that's enough!" She mumbled, yanking at the waist of his pants. He let her slide them off. "I showed you mine, now show me yours."

Kain leaned back easily, stretching so that all of his muscles were pulled taught. That was one thing he always had on Cecil: his body was always the more impressive of the two. Lightning tried very hard to act cool and business-like, but he could see the color flush through her skin as she crouched back down on top of him.

Kain had no problem lying under her. Heaven knew if he tried to subdue her it would get ugly.

"What…? No more foreplay?" He asked jokingly as she sat on top of him, golden hair meeting pink curls. His eyelids fluttered a bit at the feeling, like every muscle in her lovely body was trying to squeeze the life and breath out of him.

"You take too long." She replied, raking her nails over his chest as she moved her hips in circles, north to west, south to east. Kain gasped at the feeling as he dug his heels into the wet earth. Wet…it was everywhere.

Lightning did not cease, looking down at him as her rose-scented sweat hit his chest. She was astonishing. Even as he came, upwards of three times, she did not cease to ride him, her breath coming out of those petal-like lips in short gasps. Her pink hair, under the heat and moisture began to wave and curl; Kain stroked a piece of it. His pink lady…his archangel…she still showed no signs of slowing.

When she finally came, Kain cried out at the sheer heat and pressure, his feet kicking the earth helplessly. Lightning leaned her head back, eyes closed in ecstasy before she sort of folded in on herself. Her head landed on Kain's chest and he began to stroke her hair.

"I feel…tired…" She murmured. "Kind of like…I want to sleep."

Kain kissed her forehead, her ears, her cheeks, her shoulders, clearing the wet pink hair from her face before he looped his arms around her. "Then sleep, love. I'll wake you when the world ends…"


Kain watched as Lightning fell.

She was the last to hit the ground, the manikins surrounding all of the felled warriors. Like crystalline copies the manikins had no soul, no heart, no light in their flat eyes. Kain struggled to reach for his lance, so close and yet so far. He could not protect her. His fighter…his love…

"Lightning…" He gasped sorrowfully and she turned to face him, dirt and blood on her pretty face. At least the intensity in her icy eyes had not diminished at all. He smiled at her.

"Kain." Although he couldn't hear her, he saw her lips move. And then she smiled. Lightning smiled. And it was absolutely, indescribably, and achingly beautiful. "I…have faith…in you…" Kain nodded and closed his violet eyes. Her smile would be the last thing he ever saw.

As he heard the manikins pull back for their final deathblow, Kain felt warmth spread across his body like love and acceptance. The air rippled with power.

"My warriors," Kain opened his eyes at the sound of Cosmos' melodious voice. "I thank you for your sacrifice. Thanks to your effort, the cycle will be completed successfully. As a show of my gratitude, I will return you to your worlds. Your bravery and love is most admirable."

Kain looked to his body and it began to glow violet. The manikins around him sliced and diced, but they could not touch him. With a gasp of laughter and amazement, Kain found the strength to get to his feet. Around him, his comrades also got to their feet, glowing as well.

Laguna, glowing teal, helped glowing yellow Yuna to her feet, while Vaan, a pale icy blue, looked around in awe. Tifa, shining green, also stood shakily; Lightining, of course colored rose, used her blade to rise, Kain helping her the rest of the way.

"We…We're leaving then?" Vaan asked grinning madly as the six of them were surrounded by white light.

"It seems…that way." Yuna said happily. "We…did it."

"I… will always consider you my friends and allies." Tifa murmured.

"It's been real." Laguna said, waving madly. "I hope I'll remember you again someday." He was the first to vanish, followed by Tifa. They shot to the distance like multicolored stars. Then Yuna, bowing, faded from view, followed by Vaan.

Kain and Lightning stood alone in the light.

"You will find your sister." Kain said surely. "I know you will. And if we should forget one another…I pray that you just remember this. What we had was real. And there will always be someone in this universe who has faith in you. I love you Lightning Farron."

"Sentimental fool." She whispered, but when she turned she was smiling broadly. "I love you too. In my own way…"

The two of them kissed each other softly, glowing ever brighter with the light of Harmony. They shot into the distance, in each other's arms, and Kain felt something wet hit his cheek… He looked into her blue eyes and…

"Lord Kain!"

Kain blinked, the sky of Baron a riveting blue above him. He was lost in it. He turned to see a messenger following him desperately across the fields, a royal summon in his fist.

"What is it, sir?" He asked politely, not wanting to tear away from his reverie.

"I-It's just…" The poor man was out of breath and Kain waited patiently. "The…the wedding of…Lord Cecil and…Lady Rosa i-is today! W-will you not attend? L-Lord Kain? H-have you been…crying?"

Kain jolted and felt his cheek. There was one solitary tear there, but he knew not how it came to be. He did not cry, first of all, and secondly…the wedding seemed not to affect him as much. He found that his love for Lady Rosa had mellowed into the love one would bear a sister. What epiphany had affected him in his moment of lapse…?

He cared not.

"No. The tear is not my own." He murmured thoughtfully, a lightness in his heart not there a few moments before. "And I find…I shall not attend. Send Cecil and Rosa my best, but I'm about to take a journey…to find out who I really am. They shall understand…"

The messenger was shocked beyond words as Kain strode through the grasses, hopeful and smiling. Although there were no flowers around him…he smelled roses.