Title: Dance of the Devil
Author: Cecil Kain Cerberus
Characters: Kain, Lightning, Bartz, Prishe, Cosmos; Kain/Lightning, Bartz/Prishe
Rating: T for suggestive themes and violence
Setting: Alternative universe where exorcists and demons live
Prompt/Wish: Something supernatural, with Bartz/Prishe romance, and Kain/Lightning wouldn't hurt ;)
Summary: Lightning and Bartz are sent a simple task to destroy a demon. Unfortunately, neither suspected that they'd be led on more than just a simple exorcism.
Word Count: 6,702
Genre: Romance/Supernatural
Special Mention: Giftfic for ObsessiveCompulsiveValkyrie. I'm still new to this whole thing, but I hope to improve this skill set in the near future ;)
A/N: I never tried a love/hate relationship between characters yet, so I wanted to give it a whirl with Light and Kain. Oh, and while reading this, try thinking of this in anime/manga format. You know, facial expression and actions, etc.

Exorcists. Servants chosen by God to destroy the evil that has plagued the Earth since the Fall. Their mission is a simple yet difficult task: Destroy all demons who dared to mess with the Great Balance.

Lightning marched through the darkened street, her blue eyes glancing every so often into the occasional shady-looking street. Night was always a beckoning call for the evil spirits of the damned, and she knew with no moon in the sky, not even the stars, there would be increased activity.

Headquarters was up the hill she was trekking on, but even so, some demons were just plain stupid when it came to safety.

Like now, for instance.

Lightning jerked her leg out, kicking the face of a ghoulish fiend as it leapt out of the shadows. Several more of the little beasties jumped out, wicked claws and bloody fangs ready to stink into her flesh.

But this was almost an average day for Lightning. Jumping up, almost casually, she stomped one boot into the face of a demon and swung up her other leg out, smashing into the head of another goblin like creature.

This particular goblin went flying, slammed into a few others of its kind, and flew squarely on the ground. Without breaking a step, Lightning snagged two other demons who were attempting a slash at her, gave them a twirl while hitting that one demon, then released them both, sending them flailing helplessly in the air. They flew like that for a moment before smashing into the walls of two different buildings, echoing a sickening thump!

Landing on her feet like a cat, Lightning reached into her holster as five more demons charged her. Out of her holster came a midnight black gunblade, a wicked sword with four different openings for bullets to come flying out. She pulled the trigger, releasing four bullets into the air before leaping forward, blade carving through the air like a knife through melted butter.

The first two goblins take two bullets each. They collapse, the anti-demonic weapon throwing through their innards. The last three were unfortunately in meeting Lightning's gunblade, which sliced easily through them in one clean swipe.

Well, it was clean in the sense of being easy.

When all was said and done, Light replaced the bloodied weapon back into its holster and continued to walk towards headquarters.

Just another day as an exorcist.

"Okay, say that again," Lightning demanded, slapping her hands on her manager's desk. Cosmos merely smiled playfully with an arched eyebrow. "I've already said it twice, Claire. I don't think a third time will change the facts."

"But why him?" Lightning asked. "Bartz is a total noob! He'll get killed out there!"

"Which is why I'm pairing him up with you," Cosmos replied coolly. "Someone with excellent demon slaying skills will be perfect in tutoring the young, inexperienced exorcist like Bartz. Besides, he's not completely helpless. He's managed his own for three years now, fighting demons."

"Yeah, but the tasks you give us are way tougher than the ones some kid running around without a compass gets."

"He's only one year younger than you." Cosmos spread out her hands. "Give him a chance, Claire. The task I'm about to assign you is fairly easy by your standing, although it shouldn't be too dangerous for Bartz." She held out a paper with the information to Lightning.

The exorcist snatched the paper out of her hand with a growl. "Never underestimate a demon," she snarled before stomping off, going to retrieve Bartz.

Cosmos sighed and rested her chin on her folded hands. "Perhaps this will do you some good, Lightning," she said with a sigh. "I would hope so, anyway."

By simple, it basically means straight-forward. No cryptic words, no beating around the bushes. By difficult, the task involved exorcists traveling the world searching for the damned, and once finding them, destroying them and setting free the people whom where cursed with its presence.

"Hey, Claire, wait up!" Bartz hollered as he ran after the woman, who hadn't slowed her pace since telling him about their task.

"First of all, it's Lightning, not Claire," Lightning snapped. "And second of all, if you want to be a good exorcist, keep up with people, alright? A demon could easily take you out in a blink of an eye."

Bartz huffed a sigh. He never having a full-blown race with Tidus has probably not been the best idea, but he couldn't resist the challenge. Now, however, without some time to rest, he had been forced to stagger on tired legs and an empty belly.

His stomach growled in protest. He really wished he had stopped to grab a red bean bun or something . . .

Suddenly, Lightning halted. Bartz didn't have the time to notice, so he found himself bumping roughly into her. Lightning shot him a glare and hissed, "Quiet!"

Bartz held his breathe as Lightning scanned the alleyway they were walking down. It was dawn by now, but some demons weren't picky on day or night. She could even think of a particular annoyance that didn't really care if it was night or day, and she prayed to God that it wasn't him.

Thankfully, it wasn't.

It was a black cat, padding happily down the street with its head and tail held high. A little crown like ornament sat on its head, and its blue eyes glowed, even in the light it was walking in.

Bartz let out a sigh. "Aww," he cooed. "It's just a cat." He walked out from behind Light and began to approach the cat. "Here, kitty, kitty. Here, pretty kitty."

Suddenly the cat's ears perched up. It eyed Bartz curiously, then lowered itself on its hindquarters, butt in the air with the tail flickering back and forth. Lightning felt her stomach drop as she watched the cat suspiciously. The evil flicker in the cat's eyes . . .

"Bartz, watch out!" she cried out, but it was too late. The cat launched forward, taking the boy by surprise. He stumbled back, throwing his hands out to stop the cat from clawing him in the face. However, he had completely forgotten that the piece of paper with the directions to their assignment, the only copy Cosmos gave Lightning, was still in his hands.

The cat was clever. In one jump, it snatched the paper out of his hand, landed on his head, leapt off, and ran into the shadows of the alleys. Bartz himself landed on his butt, hopelessly confused and disoriented. Lightning ran to his side, grasping his shoulder. "Are you okay?"

"Huh?" Bartz looked at her, slightly dazed. Then he glanced over at where the cat disappeared off to with a puzzled look. "What was that all about?"

Lightning held out her hand to help Bartz up. "I have no idea, but you should know, Bartz, that you can't trust black cats."

"But it was just a harmless little kitty," Bartz said, taking her hand and standing up. Lightning rolled her eyes and snorted. "Please, there's no such thing as 'harmless little kitty.'"

Bartz tilted his head with a smirk. "What's the matter? You hate cats or something?"

Lightning made a face as if she was about to say something in return, but instead turned around in the direction they were heading. "Whatever. Let's go."

"Uh, right." Bartz brushed himself off, then suddenly realized the paper he was in charge of was no longer in his hand. "Oh, shoot!"

"What?" Lightning whirled around and looked at him with a tis-bit of concern. Bartz held out his hands guiltily. "I think that cat snatched our directions."

"What? Impossible." Lightning's brow furrowed. "Do you at least remember the directions?"

"Uh . . ." For once, Bartz felt rather foolish. Not only did he not get a chance to rest or eat, he had completely forgotten to check and memorize the information on the paper. He had been so busy self-pitying in his head that he didn't get the chance. "No?" he finally admitted sheepishly.

Lightning groaned loudly and began muttering a slogan of curses that Bartz was certain should not come out of a woman's mouth. "Come on," she snapped, "we'll head back to Cosmos and get that paper back."

Bartz paused and pointed. "Or we could follow the cat that took our paper."

"Huh?" Lightning glanced over her shoulder to see Bartz pointing at something. Curiously, she turned in the direction of his finger and saw the same black cat from before, sitting on the ledge of one of the building with its tail whipping back and forth with amusement. In its mouth with the piece of paper it stole.

Lightning glanced at Bartz, and the two nodded. Now it was their turn to play Cat chasing Mouse.

The next several minutes were rather humorously spent chasing after the annoying black cat. The little pest was fast and clever for an animal, to which Lightning was sure the little beast had to have some part of it being demonic, or at least be a servant to a demon. After all, just how vile could a mortal creature get? They chased the little rascal up and down alley after alley, in what should have been a chase for the paper quickly turned into a chase for their pride. It just didn't set right for either exorcist, no matter the experience, to be outdone by a cat!

However, Bartz was beginning to think this chase was becoming hopeless. After all, they were chasing the creature up and down, and now the sun was high in the sky. He was ready to give up, but Lightning. Oh, poor Light. She was still marching through the streets, searching aimlessly for that annoying black cat.

Who knew such a small creature could cause this much trouble?

"Light, can we just stop?" Bartz asked. "We can just head back to Cosmos and get a new paper. It's not that important."

"No, we're not." Lightning stomped her foot angrily. "It's one thing to lose that paper. It's another thing entirely to lose it to a stupid, black cat and have to chase it all the way to Chinatown!"

Bartz ducked. Lightning was mad, and quickly remembering the warnings issued by his friends, he kept quiet as Lightning continued to search.

While the traveling alone should make it sound hard enough, it's even more tedious as the demonic come in various forms. Some come in the form of wicked, physical beasts that can be easily done anyway with by a well-aimed bullet. Others chose the spiritual form, yet still show their roots by their grotesque appearance. And still others have the audacity to waltz in this world in a charming, misleading form, playing humans like puppets.

"Uh, Lightning?"

"What?" Lightning snapped again. Bartz flinched, but put a finger to his lips. "I think the cat's sleeping over there."

Lightning arched an eyebrow, but once more followed his finger to where it was pointing at. In a little barrel on the side of the road, a black tail stuck out. After a little bit of further inspection, both realized it was indeed the black cat from before, with the piece of paper tucked firmly under its paws.

Lightning then gave Bartz a plan. It was simple. She was going to grab the cat while he went for the paper. After he asked what she was intending to do with the cat, she merely gave a nasty grin and said not to worry. But that only made Bartz worry more.

So here he was, waiting for the signal. The signal being the wailing of a black cat woken up from its sleep.

Lightning glowered at the cat, waiting for her chance. It came just when the clock struck twelve.

The cat perked its ears up, and just then, it felt its tail being grabbed. It wailed loudly, digging its claws into the wood of the barrel before it was promptly yanked out by a very pleased Lightning.

"So now," she said, smiling devilishly. "What should we do with you?" The cat, if cats could sweat, was sweating profusely as Bartz got up and held out the paper it had stolen earlier. "There," he sighed, glancing over the paper a few times. "This time I know where we're going . . . Erm, Light, why are you looking at the cat like that?"

But she merely shot him a glare and held up the cat by the tail. The cat was struggling now, trying to get free and probably get as far away from the exorcists as possible. "Maybe I should this beast into a shady canal. I hear that's where all the meat-loving demons hang out . . ."

"Lightning!" Bartz said. But someone else beat him to the catch, as a shrill voice cried out, "No, don't!"

Both Lightning and Bartz looked at one another. Then they both looked at the cat, which had stopped struggling and was looked at them desperately. "You really don't want to throw an innocent, little kitty in the canal, do you?" the cat asked pathetically.

Bartz merely gaped as Lightning hummed and gave the cat a shake. "I knew it," Lightning said. "This cat's a demon. Nice try, puss, but now I AM going to throw you into the canal."

"No-no-no!" the cat wailed, frantically waving its legs. "I can prove I'm not a demon! I swear! Just don't kill me!"

"You remember the witch hunts, Bartz?" Lightning asked absently, still glaring at the cat. Bartz nodded, not sure where she was going with that. "The villagers judged if the criminal was a witch by dropped them into a river and seeing if they floated," Lightning continued. Grinning devilishly, she then said, "And if she floated, they killed her. If she didn't, she drowned, and the village was one less trouble-maker."

"Lightning!" Bartz cried out. The cat flailed around so much that it looked like it had multiple sets of limbs. "Wait, wait! I can prove it! I really can!"

"Oh, yeah?" Lightning demanded. "How so?"

"Just shoot me with one of your anti-demon bullets!" the cat cried. "They only kill demons, right? It's just like the witch trials, right? Shoot me, and if I end up dead, I was a demon! Shoot me, and if I don't, I'm telling the truth!"

Lightning furrowed her brow. "Those bullets can also injury civilians," she snapped. "Even if you're not a demon, I hit you at point-blank range, you're still dead, demon or not."

"Then just shot her in the leg," Bartz suggested. He took out his exorcist-issued anti-demon gun and pointed it at the cat's leg. "See? Like this!"

BANG! The gun smoked as the bullet raced through the air and through the cat's leg. Lightning blinked, surprised not to hear the cat scream in pain. The bullet had phased through the cat's leg, more or less, and left no marking or damage what-so-ever.

Even Bartz was surprised, because he had expected some kind of yelp of pain. Even if it was anti-demon, it still hurt humans and animals, hence why people don't shoot possessed humans.

But it had no effect on the cat. Grinning widely, the cat then moved its forepaws in a way only a person could. Clawing Lightning's hand, who cried out at the scratches, the cat dropped, landing on two legs. Suddenly, the cat began to glow, and, once the light had vanished and the two exorcists had regained their sight, they saw not a cat but a girl with tanned skin, lavender hair, and unbelievable long, pointed ears that pointed horizontally.

"Whoa, that was a close one," the cat-girl said. "I was worried for a second there. But you really came through for me, Mr. Exorcist. Thanks a heap."

"Wha—" was all Bartz could say before Lightning stormed in front of the cat-girl and shouted, "Alright, whatever you are! You have about three seconds to tell me what the hell you are before I give you—"

The cat-girl waved her arms, saying, "Whoa, whoa! Easy there, I don't wanna fight." Pointing at herself, she said, "My name is Prishe. And I'm not a demon, like I told you. I'm a shape-shifter."

"That's why the bullet phased through you!" Bartz exclaimed. "Anti-demon weapons don't have any effect on shape-shifters."

"Be that as it may," Lightning snapped, "but you still gave us a lot of grief for just taking something that wasn't yours."

Prishe sweat-dropped. "Err, yeah, sorry 'bout that. The thing is, I get bored sometimes . . . so I like tricking people every so often."

Lightning snarled. "So what? We were your entertainment value? Well, I hope it was worth it, because I'm turning you in for interfering with state exorcists on the job."

Bartz, however, stepped between the two before things could turn for the worst. "Come on, Lightning," he said gently. "Prishe didn't mean any harm. Let's just forget this ever happened and continue on our merry ways, kay?"

"I agree," Prishe stated. "Besides, if your mission is so important, why bother with a little stray cat like me when you obviously have bigger fish to fry?"

Lightning growled. She would never admit it, but Prishe had a point: she DID have a job to do, and it needed to be done. Turning around suddenly, she declared, "Whatever. We'll finish this later. Bartz, let's go."

"Huh?" Bartz glanced at Prishe, who merely shrugged. As Bartz went after the other exorcist, he barely heard Prishe call out, "Bye, bye Bartz!" He paused, turned around, but didn't see the shape-shifter anywhere. Scratching his head, he wondered, Huh, how did she know my name? He shrugged. Well, maybe she overheard Lightning say it. Whatever. Gotta catch up or I'm toast!

Lightning sighed and looked over her shoulder. "Hey, Bartz, you sure this is the place?"

Bartz nodded, holding up the paper. "Yup. This is the place." He glanced over at her. "Creepy place, huh?"

Lightning rolled her eyes. "Whatever. Just stay close to me and try not to do anything stupid, okay?"

"Sure." Bartz was relieved that the hardest part was over. Now all they had to do was remove the demon described on the paper, then they were on their way home.

Bartz' stomach complained about its lack of nutrition, and he groaned silently to himself. Note to self, remember to bring snacks next time.

However, just when it was beginning to look better, the door slammed shut behind them and a demonic laugh sounded from all around.

Bartz groaned again, this time loudly. Why did those freaks always try to make things difficult? Lightning, however, was not phased and merely pulled out her gunblade, whispering to Bartz, "Keep your guard up. Don't EVER underestimate a demon."

Bartz nodded, pulling out his standard-issued gun. There wasn't much light in the room, so he had to step quickly to catch up with Lightning. Her silhouette was moving down one corridor, and just when he thought he had caught up, something grabbed him from behind, covering his mouth and dragging him to wherever it wanted.


Lightning whirled, seeing nothing. But her eyes were well adjusted to the dark, a trait exorcists had to gain in order to properly fight demons. Her trained eyes caught something with a shiny surface, and cautiously, she stepped towards it, going for a better inspection.

Much to her shock, it was Bartz' anti-demon weapon. Cursing to herself, she quickly scanned the room, looking for any sign of where Bartz might have gone. By the sound of position of the gun, he was dragged back the way they came. But other then that, she had no clue as to where he was, or more importantly what dragged him away.

"I suggest taking the stairs to the basement. That's his favorite hiding place."

Unfortunately for a certain Lightning Farron, one of her most distasted enemies happened to be the last of the demonic.

Lightning's back stiffened at the voice. She KNEW that voice, and she knew it well. And unfortunately for her, it was a voice she must rather avoid all together.

When she gave no reaction, the voice asked, "Did I startle you? Or perhaps you're still holding that grudge on me?"

"Hmm," Lightning snapped, not answering his questions. "Well, now isn't exactly good timing for walking down memory lane, now is it?" Slowly, she shifted so as to get a good look at his face. "After all, this is demon territory. And you are still, by state definition, a demon. Right, Kain?"

The former-exorcist-turned-vampire. Kain Highwind.

Kain chuckled, brushing a stray strand of blond out of his blood red eyes. "True, but I am not here to fight." His eyes were glittering darkly, in that sick and twisted way vampires normally look at their next dinner. "Like every other time I came to see you."

"What do you want?" Lightning demanded. "In case you haven't noticed, I'm missing an exorcist, and need I remind you where we are?"

Kain shook his head. "Not at all. We're in demon territory. Exactly what you said." He frowned then, cocking his head a bit. "But I did suggest going to the basement. That's where demons often hide themselves. Surely I've taught you that much."

Lightning hissed between her teeth. She did not want to think about the past. That blissful time, where nothing seemed wrong, that was gone. Now only a shard of it remained, and Lightning did the best she could to snuff it out, wanting only to forget.

If only that shard would stop following her!

Once considered the greatest man to fight against the demons, he fell from grace, consumed by the vampiric darkness.

Kain stepped forward, touching Lightning's cheek gently. "Do you not trust me?"

Lightning narrowed her human eyes to his demon ones. "I stopped doing that when you betrayed us."

"I did not betray you. You of all people should know that."

Lightning continued to glare as she carefully, slowly, began to move her gunblade into an easier position to use. "Maybe I choose not to know. Maybe I'm better off with you dead." The hand touching her cheek was surprisingly warm for one of the undead, but she did not let that fact faze her. "Besides, you also taught me to never trust a demon. Why should I follow your instructions, when you could be luring me into a trap? Speaking of which, you could have also taken Bartz for all I know."

"But I didn't," Kain stated. "And if I truly wanted to feed on you and your pupil, I would have done it." He brought her face closer to the point where she could actually feel his breath on her face. She did her best to glare up at him, but from previous experiences, she knew that alone wouldn't make him back off.

Chuckling, Kain pulled back, releasing her. "You are too predictable, Lightning. Perhaps it's time for the old dog to learn new tricks?"

"Huh," Lightning snorted, "well, aren't you considerate? Since you're in such a good mood, why don't you leave me be so I can look for Bartz?"

Kain smirked, and took a step forward. Lightning half-expected him to grab her again, another part of her expected him to actually act upon his inner darkness and kill her. Yet he was suddenly gone.

No, that was the wrong thing to say. By gone, Lightning should have guessed 'moved-so-fast-her-human-eyes-could-not-follow.' Kain was suddenly behind her, glancing causally over his shoulder.

"If you're so eager to find him, then follow another exorcist's advice."

And then he was gone, just like that. Lightning sighed, shaking her head. The guy couldn't take a hint? However, even with Kain's presence, Lightning felt she should take the vampire's advice and head start for the basement . . .

Oh yeah, the demon was definitely in the basement. Lightning could feel it through her marrow.

Taking a cautious step forward, she paused, listening for movement. She caught the sound of ragged breathing, and following the sound, found Bartz, dangling from the ceiling, panting with sweat dripped from his forehead.

Bartz looked down at her, gave a weak smile, and attempted to speak. But Lightning gestured for him to be silent as she slowly continued to creep along the dark cellar, eyes trained and sensitive to any changes.

The evil energy was pooling in the corner of the room. Not taking any chances, Lightning slowly approached the energy pool, checking every angle she could using her peripheral vision. Finally, she caught it.

'It' was actually a poor word to use for the thing she saw, curled into the corner of the basement. The viper-like demon was enormous, a bloody tongue slipping in and out of a massive head probably three times the size of her torso. Slowly continuing to flick its tongue out at her, it watched her with dark, hate-filled eyes.

Lightning readied her gunblade, preparing herself.

The beast shot out like a cannonball out of a cannon. It moved fast, deadly with precision. Lightning barely had the time to run out of the way.

Hissing, the demon pulled back and turned to her direction. It rose up, ready to strike again—

When a familiar, yet completely unexpected figure came sailing in and gave a heart kick into the serpent's face.

Lightning could only gawk as Prishe flexed her tiny arms victoriously. "And that's why you don't mess with a shape-shifter! Take that, you filthy rattlesnake!"

"Prishe!" Lightning turned to see Bartz, who seemed to have regained his voice. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"Saving your ass, what else?" Prishe snorted. "Jeez, show a little gratification, why don'cha—"

"Watch out!" Lightning screamed. Prishe gasped as the snake demon rose up and attempted to eat her. I say attempted because another figure came into view, this one not so happily greeted by Lightning, but at the same time, she was glad that Kain stopped the demon from eating the shape-shifter.

Of course, once the snake demon was done again, Kain turned to Prishe and asked a very unexpected question, "You do realize I wanted Lightning to finish off the demon, not you?"

Prishe rolled her eyes. "Whatever. Bartz and Hothead needed some help. This demon they're facing is a level five demon. They'll need my help."

"Despite the fact that I assured you neither would be harmed?" Kain sighed, then shook his head. Lightning took a step forward, glaring at the duo. "Wait a minute," she said slowly. "You—You planned the whole thing?"

"Yup!" Prishe winked. "I took your fancy paper and switched it with another. 'Course, I was SUPPOSED to give it back to you, but hey, I was having way too much fun being chased by Butterfingers over there." She pointed at Bartz and giggled.

Kain crossed his arms over his chest and apologized. "Prishe is, what you can call, my assistant," he explained. "I gave her the simple task for switching your directions."

"So this whole thing is a setup!" Lightning snapped. "How . . . how dare you! I actually trusted you for five seconds, and now I can really see how much of a demon you really are! And you!" She pointed accursedly at Prishe. "I should have thrown you into the canal like I promised. Now I've got three evils to deal with."

"You misunderstand me, Lightning," Kain said softly. "This is not a setup. I need you to defeat this demon for me."

"And why the hell should I? How can I trust you?"

"You trusted me before, didn't you? What's to stop you from trusting me again?"

"Your actions!" But even Lightning wasn't so sure about that.

Lightning once trusted him with her heart; now she hated him for breaking such a trust.

Or did she?

Sighing, Lightning shook her head. "Fine. I'll help you. But free Bartz first."

"Already on it," Prishe stated, scampering up to him. Freeing him from his imprisonment, Bartz thanked her. "Nah, it was nothing," she said, winking. "After all, you stopped Hothead from throwing me into the canal."

"So now what?" Lightning asked, crossing her arms. Kain gave a dark smile. "Now you fight him. And you defeat it."

"And why can't you or your little sidekick fight it?"

"Snakey over there is smarter than it looks," Prishe answered. "It knows both Kain's and my weaknesses."

"Oh, and what would those be?"

"Like I'm telling you!" Prishe waved her hand. "Now what are you two exorcists waiting for? Kick its ass already!"

Lightning stood her ground as she watched the snake slowly rise up and scan the room. Even though real snakes had horrible eye-sight, demon snakes were different entirely. Hate-filled eyes burning with hell's fire glared into the basement, looking for the two exorcists (and their allies) in hopes for setting the score.

Lightning, however, was not going to give that creature a chance. As soon as its head turned away from her hiding place, she leapt out, running onto its slithery body. The snake realized, however, what she was doing and attempted to throw her off by jerking and snapping its jaws after her.

Bartz had been put in a place to prevent that. He aimed the gun in his hand and started firing, distracting the beast with round after round.

Hissing angrily, the beast charged downward, mouth gaping wide open. Bartz rolled back in the nick of time. Face crushing into the concrete, the snake hissed again, this time in pain.

Lightning had to jump off the creature when its face hit the ground. Good thing she had landed near its head, so she could whirl around and stab it in the skull. However, she missed, as the snake jerked away before she could do any harm.

Huffing in annoyance, Lightning back-pedaled and shouted, "Bartz, flank him with your gun! I'll try for the head again!"

"Roger!" Bartz started firing once more. The snake demon hissed with irritation as the bullets pedaled against its skin.

Kain had been right, Lightning thought. That snake has some kind of armor that protects itself from anti-demon weapons. And from the demonic as well. Narrowing her eyes, she ran into the corner of the room, waiting for the moment to strike.

She had to find a weak point, a place to strike that would hopefully destroy the monster's exoskeleton shield.

Concentrating, she watched as its scales moved back and forth with ease as it attempted to eat Bartz over and over again. She had to give the wandering kid some credit; he sure could run.

Grunting, she realized this was getting nowhere. Bartz would eventually run out of breathe, and then he would be a sitting duck for the demon. She had to find that weak spot and fast. Kain had recommended watching the scales for any sign of disturbance.

But that was the problem! She might not have been a snake anatomy expert, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary for the snake. Everything seemed perfect—

But wait. Don't things usually show their true form in the light? Looking up, her mind now racing with ideas, she noticed the set of lights above her head that weren't turned on. If she could get the lights on, she could see how the light hit the scales. If her theory was right, she would then be able to see the disturbance.

She just hoped she was right.

Ducking and rolling, she made her way past the giant snake's long body and ran to where she had noticed earlier a protruding metal box. That was most likely the fuse box, and if she could turn the fuse box on, she could get the lights on.

The snake's tail wiped out. Jumping, her legs barely caught the thing's anatomy, yet it had enough force to send her tumbling forward uncontrollably.

She felt someone grunt and catch her. She stopped rolling, and looking up, she noticed Kain had caught her.

"Idiot," she snapped. "I don't need help."

"No," he grunted in return. "But I can't have you fail, either." He looked around. "Where are you heading?"

"Fuse box. I turn the lights on, and I can see that weak point you were talking about."

"Ah, a wise move." His eyes narrowed. "You do realize you'll need to have the light switch on as well?"

She just smirked in turn. "That's where you come in."

"Ha, a vampire taking orders from an exorcist?" He returned the smirk. "Very well. I'll find this switch and light this place up."

Lightning stood up and looked out. The fuse box, she noticed, had a part of the snake's massive body curling around underneath. She would have to get past that part without letting the snake know what she was up to. Of course, having the lights suddenly turn on would announce exactly what she was doing, but she was hoping the demon would be caught so off guard with the bright light that it would be shunned for a moment.

Running again, she heard Bartz, and not surprising, Prishe shout and holler to get the snake's attention. Lightning had no idea why, but she suspected that Prishe had taken a liking to Bartz. Must have been his compliments to her when she was a cat.

A part of the snake uncurled, nearly taking Lightning out with it. However, she leapt, twirled and cleared the obstacle before it became a problem.

Now all that was left was to get over that part of the snake without letting it now. The fuse box was within reach, but only if she touched the snake's body could she get to it. And it wouldn't be a quick tough. She would have to look for the switch that return power to the lights. By that time, however, the demon would have gotten wind of her plan and stop her before she could pull the switch.

Looking up, she saw part of the pipes hung a little lower than the rest. Jumping up, she reached out and grabbed them. Swinging back and forth, she made it to the point where her legs bumped the other pipes that hung right over the fuse box. On the next swing, she jerked her legs up, slipping them in-between some of the bars and curling them downward.

Releasing the first set of bars, she now hung right over the serpent's body, and right in front of the fuse box. Not wasting a moment, she opened the box and glanced over the labels to the switches. Being upside-down certainly made things a little more difficult to read, and the faded labels definitely did not aid her any support. Grunting in frustration, she made a quick call and turned all the switches on.

Better safe than sorry, right?

The room was suddenly filled with tremendous light. Lightning was actually caught off guard by how bright it was. The bulbs here must have never been used, or they were recently replaced.

Either way worked, because she could heard the snake wailing in pain as the bright light burned its eyes. It was so used to the dark, so content in its blackness that it was completely unaccustomed to the light. Of course, she was tearing up and see spots, so she was one to talk, but she also adjusted quickly, and glared hard at the serpent's flesh.

There! Right between its eyes! The hardest place to get to, the easiest to defend. Taking aim, she fired three shots, straight into the snake demon's face.

The reaction she did not expect. She was thinking the shield would be removed, or at best, wound the creature. But as quickly as the fight began, the beast shivered and curled, then dropped dead, right before their eyes.

Cosmos glanced between Bartz and Lightning. The two were covered in dust and cobwebs, and Bartz was continuously complaining about 'bright lights'.

"So let me get this straight," the woman said, turning to Lightning. "Kain, a former-exorcist-turned-vampire, used a shape-shifter to replace the directions I had given you with a map to an old mansion where a giant snake demon lived, and he and his assistant aided you in defeating the monster. Then they just disappeared." She sighed. "I got that right, correct?"

Lightning groaned heavily. She knew how far-fetched the story was, but every bit of it was true. The only bad thing was the damn snake was too huge to carry home, otherwise she would have staked it to her wall like a trophy for proof.

Of course, Bartz didn't understand the system quite yet. "But it's true!" he exclaimed. "Prishe and Kain did help us, and that snake was huge! It was a full-blown level 5 demon snake! Really!"

"I specifically remember giving you a level 1 demon to take care of, Lightning," Cosmos interrupted. "Not some giant monstrosity that could have killed you and Bartz in a heart-beat."

"Cosmos," Lightning sighed. "It was true, even if you don't believe me."

"You're right, I don't want to believe you." Cosmos shook her head. "The snake story is one thing, the fact that Kain has returned, and was helping you is completely different. You were better off just telling me you had gotten the address mixed up and defeat the demon yourselves."

Lightning stepped forward. "Look, you can't just turn a blind eye to this—" Cosmos raised a hand to stop her.

"I've heard enough." Cosmos pitched the bridge of her nose. "Tomorrow, you and Bartz will be performing the mediocre house chores as punishment."


"You are dismissed."

Lightning and Bartz found themselves stepping out of the room, and Light narrowly walked straight into the Warrior, aka Cid.

Cid looked at her sympathetically. "Is something wrong?" he asked. Lightning shook her head. "No, nothing's wrong."

Bartz and Cid watched her walk away, and when she was out of earshot, Bartz quickly explained to him what had transpired. Saying good night, Bartz ran off to bed, as tired as he was. Cid then chose to walk into Cosmos's office to talk.

"Was it really that necessary to punish them for doing good?"

"Are you questioning my judgment, Cid?"

"No." Cid glanced out of the room. "It's just Lightning wouldn't lie about things about this."

"I know she's telling the truth." Cosmos's brows were furrowed.

"Then why punish her for a crime she didn't commit?"

"If you asked her, she might tell you my real reason."

"Is it because she helped Kain? Or let him get away again?"

Cosmos was silent for a moment. Then she looked Cid directly in the eye. "Cid, I must warn you; if you keep pursuing your feelings for Lightning, you will find yourself looking into the barrel of a gun."

Cid blinked, then narrowed his eyes slightly as he turned to walk out. "Cosmos," he said calmly, "I understand you look out for the best good for us all, but you cannot control our feelings for our comrades."

"Then you will not cease?"

He gave a sad smile. "I only want her to be happy. If it is with Kain, then I shall serve as his shield until death takes me."

An unexpected ending, but I am tired and wanted to finish this stupid thing! I hope you like it, OCValk! (Note, this is completely unbeta'ed but I will edit it later. I just wanted to post this bad boy before I burst with impatience)