A/n: Hi there! I'd like to preface this by saying I have not finished the game, but I have played through pretty much everything else, so there will be spoilers. There is also mention of Serah/Snow because, let's face it, they're engaged. However, this story is definitely a Noel/Serah, or if you prefer the affectionate term, Noerah. FFXIII-2 is a fantastic game, and the characters grew on me like crazy, so I had to write something for my favourites! I really hope you enjoy this looong oneshot, and a review would be kindly appreciated. Thank you for reading!

Serah was full of surprises.

Their first meeting brought with it Noel's first surprise - Serah was not at all like Lightning. Lightning was a clear force to be reckoned with, a seasoned warrior in unconventional armour. The way she carried herself was steady, and every swing of her sword was exact. She reminded him of the few hunters he'd known while growing up, what with her serious demeanour and her straight talk.

His first glimpse of Serah was from the sky. A head of pink hair and the same pale skin and he figured he'd got the right girl. He instantly assumed that she'd know how to fight, handing off the present Lightning had gifted him with to her. But at that first flash of uncertainty in her eyes, he felt uneasy, and his uneasiness grew watching her in battle that night.

As a hunter, Noel always knew where to hit a monster. Break its joints to debilitate. Stab its stomach for a sure shot at a major organ. Snap its neck for a near-guaranteed kill.

It was painfully obvious over their three, maybe four, battles that night that Serah had no idea what she was doing. She stood as straight as a beam. Her arrows flew off their marks and her slashes were ineffective.

He looked her over that night. He'd told himself before this all began that he had better prepare himself for a variety of worlds. But here he was, in a world that wasn't too shocking, and already there was something vastly different. Bubblegum pink hair and eyes like seaglass.

The following morning he raised an eyebrow at Mog and the moogle knew what to do, instantly transforming into a sword.

"Come on, Serah. I've got to show you how to handle a sword," he called to her, already walking out of her house. When she arrived moments later, he dropped Mog into her waiting hands.

He drew out his double-bladed sword and fell into his fighting stance. She copied him, and he had to admit she looked a little ridiculous. But when she'd finally settled into it, he saw her halfway between her old stiff posture and his own. He passed on his knowledge of where to hit a monster by enlisting the help of the kids on the beach - they built targets out of sand.

Enter the second surprise: "Meanie Miss Farron, meanie Miss Farron!"

He felt his eyebrows shoot up. He couldn't even think that this girl standing not two feet from him had a mean bone in her body. She'd even had trouble cutting down the sand monsters children had built.

But when he turned to see her reaction - expecting nervous stuttering or maybe embarassed blushing - there she was, batting not an eyelash, going so far as to reprimand them.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Training continued when Mog transformed into a bow. They set up along the oceanside so that any errant arrows wouldn't fly into passersby, and made a tree trunk their mark.

She took aim. One look and he spotted a multitude of things to fix. It was nearly enough to propel him over there. But as it was, he sat back on the sand, squinting into the sunset, and directed a lift of the elbow or a tweak of the shoulder.

When it was only evening light shining down on them and Serah had fired thirty or so arrows, he stood, trailing sand from the seat of his pants over to her. She was tiring, but she wasn't frustrated, and that was a good sign. He dared to put his hands on her, adjusting her forearm. "Try now," he directed.

She shot. The arrow overshot the tree by mere centimetres. She held steady and shot again. Again, it overshot.

The look on her face was too disappointed. He quickly got into position behind her, aligning his gaze with hers. "Okay, here we go. See where you've been aiming?" He pointed off into the distance, his arm over her shoulder.

He felt her nod, the air suddenly stirred with the smell of her hair.

"You've actually been aiming too high. These arrows - they're magic, they just appear when you draw back. They fly completely straight. No need to compensate."

"Okay," she said, new determination coming into her tone. She lowered her bow. His hand came up to pillow her elbow higher.

"Thanks," she murmured softly. Then she shot.

The arrow flew straight and true, blazing light, and hit the tree dead centre.

"Good job!" he said, smiling.

She stared at the tree a moment longer, then turned to him. Her smile was blinding. "Thank you so much!" she said, effusive. Her eyes were sparkling, she was that happy. "Noel, I-"

"Lesson over?"

He turned from Serah's smiling face to Gadot, walking slowly up the beach. Instantly, he was on guard. "Lesson over," he echoed back.

"Good. Serah, get inside," Gadot ordered, jerking a thumb over his shoulder to the house.

To his immediate left, Serah cleared her throat. Mog poofed back into existence and was folded into Serah's arms. She started for the house, looking back at him only once she was out of Gadot's line of sight. His gaze trailed her until she was over the threshold.

"Hey, look here, pretty boy," Gadot started. Noel jerked his attention back over to the hulking, unspoken leader. Gadot didn't even give him a chance to respond. "You better not be trying anything funny with Serah, got it?"

Noel felt his jaw set itself. "Funny? Wouldn't dream of it," he snapped back. "Last thing a person needs is funny."

Gadot's nostrils flared, and he took a step forward. "Yeah? Well, don't try anything funny with me either. I saw you pressing yourself up against her, and I don't know about where you come from, future boy, but that ain't acceptable behaviour around here."

Noel didn't bother to correct the other man. He looked at Gadot, unblinking, and tilted his head. Then he smiled a tight smile. "Got it. Laws of propriety and all that."

Gadot stared back, as if unsure if he was being made fun of. But then he turned, made a dismissive noise, and headed back to the house.

Noel turned back to the ocean, now glimmering in the moonlight. Guess he wasn't welcome in there tonight. He found a spot on the shoreline where he wouldn't likely be drenched or carried out to sea in his sleep, and settled in.

Third in Serah's line of surprises: she was engaged.

"Who's Snow?" he asked one morning, only to be assaulted with an extensive list of this Snow's good qualities.

"That's my Snow!" Serah exclaimed with a flourish.

He eyed her carefully. Something was a bit off. A few days ago, he might've believed that this was her usual behaviour, but he knew better now. He didn't want to ask - he didn't need her to be asking him questions he couldn't answer, either - but his good intentions got the better of him. "Something bothering you, Serah?"

She was silent, choosing to direct her gaze at his shoe.

Well, that showed him where to put his misplaced concern. He put a hand to the nape of his neck and started to speak-

"Yes. I mean- I mean, something is bothering me," she said.

He waited for her to continue.

Her fingers went to her necklace, closing around the pendant absent-mindedly, twirling, twisting. She looked up into his eyes, very directly. "But it would be unfair of me to unload my problems on you. Should we... keep going?"

So on they went. On they went to the Bresha Ruins and the Sunleth Waterscape and who should they meet there but "this really cool guy" - none other than the infamous Snow.

"Serah? ... Am I dreaming again?" Snow said softly, almost weakly, as Serah hovered over him. He said her name like a prayer.

Noel watched them with half a mind. And it continued that way for as long as Snow traveled with them. He wanted to be respectful of their relationship, but he wasn't one to fall by the wayside. This was a reunion, he saw that, but there were two worlds at stake.

They were surprisingly non-mushy. Maybe it was just because he was around. But there was barely a touch, only a few words, and nothing more. If he were in the same situation, he didn't think he could do that. He'd miss her so bad he'd scoop her up the second he saw her, couldn't help but sneak glances at her and want to rediscover everything about her. If he ever found someone - and at this time, he honestly doubted it - that would be what he wanted. For someone so passionate about the world around her, Noel thought that Serah would live that way through her relationship.

Only when Snow disappeared did Serah crack, and Noel found himself surprised again. Was this how she'd been all along? A quiet roar.

That night, he said little, roasting meat over the fire. They'd been traveling together long enough for him to know she was a good cook, but he was no slouch either. He watched the flames flash over the surface of the ceratosaur hide. Not the best comfort food, but he doubted veggies would do the trick, and that was all else left in this godforsaken-

Serah came up beside him with more kindling and an extra ceratosaur. "This one, too," she said. She took her seat across from him with an armload of flan leaves, wrapping them around the carcass. Noel noted absently that this seemed like a good idea, flavour-wise.

"I found another gate," she delivered over the carcass.

He smiled. "That's great! You lead the way in the morning," he said, and she nodded. Then he watched her spear the ceratosaur forcefully before lifting it over the fire.

Again, he let himself be surprised by her. He supposed a journey really did change a person. She took point half the time now, Mog floating faithfully by her side and offering a background chitchat that he'd grown used to. Her aim was leagues better, and her sword didn't look quite so odd in her hands anymore. He didn't quite believe that she had gotten so thick-skinned as she was acting now though.

He looked up from the fire when Serah stood. She had plucked the ceratosaur up and was restabbing it through. It wasn't staying though, and she was getting more aggressive.

"Hey, hey, let me see that," he offered, walking over to her side of the fire and trying to disconnect her hands from their dinner.

"I've got this," she insisted.

He kept on, too, despite her body-blocking. His forearms crossed her thinner ones, their hands forming a pattern on the spear. Gadot's needless warning from weeks before echoed over him now - better not try anything funny- he shrugged this off. "Go rotate the other one," he suggested.

"I can take care of this," she repeated stubbornly, giving a final heave and stabbing sideways through the monster's ribcage.

He let go, then threw his hands into the air. "I surrender," he joked. Then he took the spear in hand and lifted it easily over the fire. After positioning the ceratosaurs so they wouldn't burn, he turned to Serah. "What's going on?"

She sat, maiden-like with her legs together and folded beneath her, on the forest floor. The pendant was between her fingers again, the shining globe smudged with prints.

He turned fully away from the fire to crouch in front of her. "Hey. I'm really starting to worry about you, here."

With that, she said, muted, "I can take care of myself."

He tried not to bristle at her brush-off. His lips clamped together and he searched for her gaze. "I won't pry, then," he promised, resigning himself to an awkward next few days. He began to stand-

She caught his wrist. "Sorry," she blurted, blue eyes so big.

"It's fine," he said easily, drawing his arm away from her.

"No, that's- I meant I'm sorry for how it came out. I didn't mean- I didn't mean that I don't appreciate that you care about me," she babbled.

Despite this, he kept on drawing away, though not as far as before. He lifted one carcass from the fire and expertly tore it, handing Serah half a ribcage. She accepted it.

As they munched, Noel filed away another little fact about Serah: she ate when she was upset. He wasn't really one to notice such little things, but it wasn't quite so little in this case. She ate with more abandon than he did tonight. When she'd finished with her portion, she took the other ceratosaur off the flames, unwrapped it from its leaves, and split it just as he had.

He was maybe a little scared as she began eating her second half-rack of ribs. He dug in with more caution, wondering if she was going to give herself a stomachache.

That was when she started crying. It was a slow, sad kind of cry, tears gathering in her eyes and pooling, held only by surface tension. The second she blinked he was up and away, washing his hands clean in the water held by a giant flower, and back before the tears had fully spilt, his now-clean hands hovering helplessly as he murmured her name in concern.

She had set her food at her side. Her nose was running, and she couldn't stop it. Unabashedly, he wiped it all away. He stood her up and guided her to another flower where he rubbed her hands in the water.

She looked up at him over the bloom. Her eyelashes had all glued themselves together and her mouth was quivering.

He let go of her hands immediately, water splashing out with him. And as he stood there dripping, she took her hands out too and said, "Could I tell you something?"

He nodded.

Surprise number four: Serah was unhappy.

After they'd walked the short distance back to their camp, Serah had cried so hard she'd started hiccuping. She cried like she was mourning a death, straight from the gut. For awhile he didn't know what to do with himself, but in the end he'd draped his arm over her shoulders, letting the hiccups jerk their way through her body and into his, until finally, they died down.

He definitely wasn't one for confessions by campfire, but it seemed that the night had turned into that. And he actually didn't mind - not that they didn't finish dinner, not that his clothes were wet from water and tears, not that they weren't fighting monsters or meeting new people but just sitting and talking.

She leant against a tree and lowered herself to the ground. She seemed more balanced now, meditative even. "Do you remember when I first told you about Snow?" she opened finally, after calming down.

He thought to himself that it was kind of hard to forget. She had chattered for a probable solid five minutes. "I do," he answered instead.

She smiled a fragile smile. "You probably couldn't forget, huh? I talked an awful lot," she read his mind. "Well, when I was telling you all these great things about him, I just... couldn't stop thinking that even though it was all true... he wasn't there with me."

He sat down next to her, leaning against the giant tree as well. He remembered asking how she was then, too, and her choosing not to tell him. What a difference a few weeks made.

She continued, trying to speak with her hands, "It was like... I was trying to convince myself that even though he wasn't there, he still cared. That he was a good person still. That I still... knew him."

He shot her a sideways glance. This didn't sound good.

She was pinching each of her fingertips, methodical even in her fidgeting. "And then these past few days I got to see that he really hasn't changed. He's the same," she said, not faulting at all.

Okay, that was positive. Or at least, it sounded like it.

She sat up straighter, leant away from the tree to look at him now. Her hair flowed in waves over her shoulders and down her back. Her eyes fixed him with a mixture of excitement and uncertainty. "Now, I've realized something. It was me who changed. I've changed so much over these past three years and... what, five weeks? It's like I've..." she tried to work up the nerve to find an adjective, but she blushed and stopped short.

He looked at her. "Blossomed," he said. This was why he was always surprised by her, of course - it was because she was changing right in front of his eyes.

She cleared her throat. "That's, um, what I thought of. But I thought you would think I was being cheesy," she admitted.

He shrugged. "Not at all." He offered an encouraging half-smile. "So, you blossomed. And?"

"And it's because of you," she said earnestly.

He felt his eyebrows lift clear into his hairline.

She looked away, into the fire. "I mean, I started some of it myself. I became a teacher in our little town. Once Lightning disappeared and Snow left, I feel like that's when I started carving a niche for myself. Kind of sad, huh? That they had to leave for me to figure out who I was," she told him softly. Her gaze was equally soft when she turned back to look at him. "But the rest was you, and this journey. The growth has been... exponential," she laughed.

"I wouldn't call stabbing a flanbanero blossoming," he replied, burying a hand in his hair.

She looked at him directly again. "Thank you," she said, heartfelt.

"I didn't-"

She cut him off, "You trust me on my own. You've taught me plenty. You believed me about Lightning. You're with me now. So, thank you."

He gulped his words and put his hand on the nape of his neck again. "It's no problem."

She leant back against the tree beside him and looked up through the vines at the night sky. "I've outgrown needing to be taken care of. And to be honest... I'm not sure whether or not I've outgrown Snow."

All of Noel's internal alarms started going off. Don't get him wrong, he didn't like the thug one bit. But he didn't want to be even a little bit responsible for breaking up an engaged couple. "You sure? Snow's pretty tall," he said, trying to take the joking route.

Serah looked over at him, her face relaxing into a half-hearted smile. "Don't worry. I'm not about to do anything rash. Though," she laughed a little now, putting a hand to her mouth, "Since when did you care what happened to Snow?"

"I don't," he replied quickly, and maybe too honestly. "He's a total idiot. But he also loves you, doesn't he?"

Her gaze fell to around his collarbone. "Yes," she hesitated, "In his way."

He wanted to breathe a deep sigh. He could, sadly, see what she might be hinting at. Snow seemed like the type to always be go-go-going, running ahead at a million miles an hour and not once checking to make sure others were still on the track with him. It sounded like Serah wasn't chasing him anymore. Maybe she'd driven off the road completely, freewheeling away.

He let himself look at her for longer now, saw the contemplation in her brows and the optimism in her eyes.

"There's a world of possibilities out here," she said softly.

"More than one world, actually," he said, mouth twitching up at a corner.

She looked him in the eye. He couldn't place it, but there was something different about her, yet again. Her eyes seemed new, fresh somehow. She breathed in raggedly through her mouth. "Thank you for this evening," she told him. "I was a mess."

The it's nothing or yeah, sure were perched on his tongue. But before he could say them something else came tumbling out, "You're welcome."

She smiled her first real smile that day, looking from him to the stars. Then she gave him a quick hug, pulling him close, her breath ghosting over his neck.

He was too slow to hug her back. But as she pulled away and settled into a sleeping position beside him, he thought to himself that Snow was an idiot in more ways than one.

It wasn't until they reached the remade Academia that Noel got his next surprise.

"Noel!" Serah called.

He was looking out over the city, its shiny steel and clean concrete fanning out in front of him endlessly and steeping higher and higher into the sky. There were people everywhere here. Kids running all over and tripping, yelling each other's names and talking about the best toys. Adults standing around trying to advertise, waiting on dates, chattering about university and jobs at the Academy. The energy here was based entirely off of its population. It was a lot to take in.

"Yeah?" he responded, late, turning away from the cityline to the tiny store Serah was inside right now, doing shopping of some kind. She wasn't moving, so he supposed he had to go to her.

Once he was close enough, she thrust her hand out. "What do you think?"

He examined her thumbnail, which had been painted an ocean blue. Was there a point to doing this?

"You know," she said now, turning her thumb toward herself, gaze jumping from her nail to his face, "It matches your eyes."

He froze, unblinking.

She grinned. "I like it," she declared to the shopkeeper, who he now saw was waiting at the other side of the counter Serah was perched near. "This colour is best," she told the girl, to which the girl raised an eyebrow at him, then began painting the rest of Serah's nails that same colour.

He stood there watching the girl apply streaks of polish to Serah's fingernails, the same colour as his eyes. And then he felt a weird feeling overtake his stomach, and he had to look away.

"They look pretty good, huh?" she said happily after it was done, wiggling her fingers in front of them as they walked the streets.

"Y-yeah," he replied, hardly daring to glance at them. He let a burst of giggling distract him, whipping his head away to catch where it was coming from.

His mind as foggy as it was, he barely saw the gaggle of girls grouped around the benches to their right. It was obvious they were staring at he and Serah though, but for what it was hard to say. His weaponry was hardly something to laugh at, and Mog usually elicited a different kind of squealing. He knew his clothing was odd, at least for this era. Was that it?

As he reviewed the possibilities in his head, Serah chuckled from behind him. He hadn't realized she'd stopped walking, and he doubled back. "Why'd you stop?"

She smiled at him, a knowing stretch of the lips, and said slyly, "To allow them a longer look, of course."

So, she'd noticed them too. Her tone made him narrow his eyes, but he raised his eyebrows playfully. "I don't really think Mog needs more attention."

She shook her head, his joke sliding off of her completely. "Not at Mog, Noel. At you," she stated.

His eyebrows came down and peaked together confusedly.

She gave a short laugh. "Noel. Really?"

His hand went to the nape of his neck again, a knee-jerk reaction. "Really what?"

More cooing and hushed giggling erupted from the girls, and Noel twisted his torso to them, which only made a new wave of giggling spill forth.

He turned back to Serah. "My clothes are that bad, then?" he said, a self-deprecating smile making its way to his face.

She paused then, crossing her arms over her torso. She examined him a moment, which only made him hyper-aware of his posture. She looked over his shoulder too, presumedly at the peanut gallery. Finally, she uncrossed her arms and said, "No, it's not your clothes." She started down the street again, back the way they came.

"Hey," he called, taking long strides to catch her, "Why are we going back?"

She tossed a look over her shoulder, but she wasn't looking at him. The girls? She answered, "I saw a swimsuit earlier that I liked. I think I'll go check it out."

He rotated his shoulder, feeling his muscles flex and relax. "Okay," he said, hoping that whatever this swimsuit was it didn't dip into their weapon upgrade funding.

A few minutes later, Noel watched Serah disappear into the store, this one slightly bigger than the other one. With a smidgen of self-consciousness, he examined his own clothes in the glass covering a map of Academia. He finally gave a mental shrug and began to look out over the city again. Hope really knew what he was doing, didn't he? He and Serah would visit Hope tomorrow at the giant headquarters.

A cautious tap on his shoulder broke his thoughts. "Sir?" a wide-eyed woman of about 20 spoke, "Your girlfriend needs you."

His mouth immediately became a screwy line, but he didn't bother to correct the salesclerk. This assumption had been made many times before, after all. "Sure," he said instead, and followed her into the store.

As he was led to the back of the store, he looked at the clothes lining the walls. So these were what swimsuits looked like? The name alone told him that you swam in them, but they hadn't had much need for swimming so far on their journey. Why would Serah need a swimsuit?

The salesgirl knocked on a door, presumedly which Serah was behind. "Miss? He's here."

"Noel?" Serah called.

"Present," he called back, as the salesgirl stepped around him. "Meanie Miss Farron," he added with a laugh.

The door cracked open, but he had yet to see her. "Funny," she bit back with a little more spunk than usual. The door whipped open a little more forcefully now, and she stepped out with her hands on her hips.

Noel's eyes widened, almost scared. Not of her threatening pose - he always knew when she was joking - but at just how little she was wearing. That didn't look like the ones he saw hanging on the walls.

"What does that mean?" she half-laughed, but shot him a serious look. Her hands were on her hips still, those fingernails flashing blue against bare skin.

He fixed his gaze on a poster over her head and touched the back of his neck. "Can you swim in that?" he evaded.

She twisted this way and that in his peripheral vision, and he felt his throat dry up. "Yeah, I'm pretty sure. Is it nice enough?"

He cleared his throat and made a concentrated effort to focus solely on her face. "You look great," he answered.

She lit up with a smile. "I guess that settles it, then," she concluded, then disappeared back behind the door. "I had a feeling about this one," she chatted from the changeroom.

Moments later she emerged in her regular outfit, the two pieces from her swimsuit between her blue fingernails. She strode over to the cashier, and then remembering something, turned to Noel. "I forgot- I gave the money to you today," she said.

"Right," he responded, then quickly handed off their pooled collection of gil to her. He just wanted to get out of this store. He missed the cashier snickering at him.

After Serah had paid and given the gil back to him, he found his breathing settling back into its regular rhythm. And it wasn't until much later that he discovered that they had barely a gil to their name - definitely not enough for weapon upgrades.

He didn't know exactly when it happened, but it wasn't much of a surprise. One day she was wearing the necklace, and the next-

She wasn't.

He wasn't counting by now how many surprises this journey had handed him, but he was sure it was plenty. And this one, it was one he couldn't believe he had forgotten.

How could he have forgotten the law that binded the farseers? And dream or no, how could he have forgotten Serah?

She faced him bravely after he'd told her what could happen. With every paradox corrected, it was another twist of the knife. And it was Serah who walked the razor's edge.

But she told him she'd already decided. She had even given him hope - this last one might be the one to end it all, and then she wouldn't need to see anymore. Time would no longer whittle away at her precious life like it did Yeul's.

"I want to believe that we can solve this soon," he told her as they walked back across the barren plains. It was a chilling place - sound absorbed so quickly, leaving no echoes. He checked on her, trailing behind him.

She was hesistant even in her following, biting her lips, lost in thought just as he was. He wanted to protect her from Yeul's fate so badly. It was enough to hold one dying girl in your arms. Another and it just might send him to a dream even worse than this.

His breath caught in his chest. It... could never come to that. He wouldn't let it.

A sudden scream from her made his heart leap in his chest, much too high. He whirled quickly, panicked, and cursed himself for letting her take rear guard.

She was hacking at a monster he'd never seen before, and she was fading fast. He drew his swords and went at the monster with a ferocity he seldom felt. It fell soon after, dying with a whine.

"Serah!" He went to her prone figure on the ground, glowing green magic at his fingertips already. The light enveloped her, hopefully mending whatever was hurt. "Serah!" he yelled, desperation colouring his tone. He was always careful about the way he approached her, feeling that she was not his, but in this moment he knew that wasn't true - they each had a claim to each other that no one else did. He took her into his arms swiftly, and he felt as if he were holding onto her for both their sakes. The armlets she wore dug into his palms. "Serah, come on," he pleaded.

She awoke with a stuttering gasp, eyelids fluttering. It took all he had not to crush her with a hug. Even though they had faced worse, the possibility of losing her pressed in too close over their heads.

"Noel?" she croaked.

"Serah," he breathed.

She blinked slowly, organizing events on her own. "Thank you," she said. She sat up, and he moved back just enough for her not to smack their foreheads together.

He didn't have it in him to let her go yet. He looked at her wordlessly, not noticing how his thumbs ran over her skin. He gulped down what he could of his nervousness, swallowing nothing. He wanted to say something, but he didn't know what. She was... a paradox herself. So strong but so fragile. And this thing that was eating away at her... it wasn't anything he could protect her from.

Her hand came up to grip his bicep, steadying herself. "I wasn't out for long, I hope," she said, still sounding dazed.

"Long enough," he answered her quietly. "I take rear guard from now on."

She looked at him, assessing the leftovers of his frantic state, and simply nodded. "Thank you for healing me."

He looked tortured. "I wish I could do more," he said too honestly. He bit down hard on his lower jaw, gritting his teeth. How could he be so helpless? So powerless to protect the people he cared about?

She shifted again, sitting up higher and bringing her face closer to his. She brought her other hand up, debating with herself whether to touch him or not. "You can. We can. We'll take the timeline on, together." She rested her hand on his cheek. Her hands were so warm - proof that her body had yet to fail her.

He looked to her, at the seaglass cerulean of her eyes. They were still so close, close enough for him to see flecks of green there. If these eyes should close forever...

She was shifting again, grabbing tighter hold of his bicep, her other hand wandering to the nape of his neck - that spot he always touched. Only, this time her fingers wove up into his hair, and she was pulling him to her, and her lips were parted and she was suddenly kissing him. Kissing him.

His heart galloped into doubletime. They were as close as close could be, and he had to hold on tight. So he closed his eyes and kissed her back.

He should've been surprised. At the way she kissed like there was no tomorrow, at the clumsy, earnest crushing of her lips to his. At the fingers she wiped his tears away with, at the soft groans she emitted into the stale air. It was their first kiss, after all.

But he wasn't. I know you, he thought to her, as they met yet again. It was a long time coming.

No, he wasn't surprised.

Not at all.