Chapter Three

"You're alright, kid," Amador was saying to Lightning. He didn't look over at her when he spoke—and for good reason, considering that he was driving a car. After spending two days in the hospital. Lightning was more than just glad that she was finally allowed to go home, and glad that Lieutenant Amador was able to take her there. A lot had happened in the past two days, that was for sure. All of it was still clear in Lightning's mind.

Except for what happened right after the tree hit her. The pain of being crushed made her lose consciousness almost immediately. Serah called her name once or twice from what she heard, but according to Serah, she screamed her name several times before calling for help. She didn't dare leave Lightning alone underneath that tree, so she screamed and screamed hoping that somebody would hear her.

This was where Amador filled in some details of the story, since he was the one that came to Lightning's rescue. He said he heard a dog howling. Stray had begun howling a minute or two after Lightning was down, but it wasn't because Lacey was under that tree as well. Lightning had kicked the dog out of the way as soon as she realized what was happening. No—Stray was howling so Lightning could get some help. Amador heard the call and came to the rescue.

Two days in the hospital for some broken ribs was what she had to suffer through. And the pain that she was dealing with now, even on a road that was mostly smooth. All the debris from that horrible storm were cleared up while Lightning was in the hospital. If her father was still alive, he would have probably assisted right alongside Amador. The Guardian Corp had a hand in making sure that everyone was safe and they helped out where they could as well. The whole reason that Amador was in the GC was because Lightning's father recruited him when nobody else would. He said he saw potential in the kid that nobody else did. Even if there was a ten year difference between Amador and her father, they became quick friends. And now that he was gone, Amador looked after Lightning when he could. Like right now.

"You were lucky though," Amador continued. "If you wouldn't have tried jumping forward, it would have smacked you in the head."

"I know."And I don't want to think about that.

Lieutenant Amador pulled up to the house, where Lightning would be spending the next few hours alone. Serah was at school since it was the middle of the day. If she had known that Lightning was coming home, she probably would have skipped the day, even if academics were extremely important to her.

"Thanks for the ride," Lightning said, opening the door. She winced at the pain the movement caused in her mid torso, but she got out of the car all the same.

"You're welcome," he said. "I'll come to check up on you every once in a while. Remember to take it easy, future soldier."

She smirked at the words. It was no secret that she planned on joining the GC as soon as she was of age. Amador was determined to be her officer, too. So that he could pay back the debt that he owed to her father for what he did years ago. Amador was a good man.

They said their farewells and Lightning let herself into her home as the Lieutenant drove away. He'd be back soon, whether she wanted him to or not. For now, though, she would enjoy some peace and quiet. That was what she thought as she as she opened the door.

The yapping of a puppy changed her perspective though. Lacey rushed the door, barking happily to see Lightning. Yeah, yeah, glad to see you too, she thought a bit annoyingly. Now let me through so I can go to bed and sleep.

Stray stood in a nearby doorway, growling lowly. Not at Lightning, for once, but at Lacey. The pup stopped barking and backed off Lightning immediately at the scolding. She was a bit surprised, but not really. Stray was Lacey's older, protective sister. After running off in the storm, she was certain that Lacey received a lot of scolding.

Lightning looked at the dog who looked back at her, but this time, she couldn't decipher the dog's thoughts. She nodded faintly to her, but then headed towards her bedroom to get some rest. She began to shut the door to keep Lacey out, yet a dog slipped through before she could stop it. "Hey-"

It was Stray.

Once Lightning realized this, she actually alright with it. "Okay," she said. "But I'm not going to be getting up to let you out anytime soon." The dog, in her silence, seemed to accept that. That was good enough for her. If that dog started barking while she was resting though, she'd be really ticked off.

The moment she laid down in bed, she realized that she had another reason to be annoyed. She grunted roughly in pain when the bed trembled underneath the weight of the dog that jumped onto the free side of the bed. "Not cool."

Yet the dog didn't respond to Lightning's irritation. She actually whined and cuddled up to Lightning. What happened to the dog who growled at her all the time? The dog who held her head high all the time and never showed kindness to anyone but Lacey?

"You're alright, Stray," she heard herself saying as she put her hand on the back of the dog that laid in front of her. "You're alright."

*…*…*…*…*…*

The next few days, Lightning stayed in bed. So did Stray. The dog that was once so cold towards Lightning now stayed by her side twenty-four/seven. She figured that it was because Lightning saved Lacey from the tree collapsing on her. Or Stray saw the goodness in Lightning that she hadn't seen before.

It worked in reverse too. Lightning noticed now that the dog was very loyal. Dedicated enough to stay in bed with Lightning all day when Serah was gone at school or staying there at night. Stray was proving to be compassionate, loyal, and intelligent.

Much like Lightning, if she would have ever allowed herself to reveal that side of her personality. Yet she was the same. Compassionate to those that suffered, loyal to those she loved, and very intelligent in everything that she did.

"You're a strange one, Stray," she commented quietly, stroking the dog's fur as she sat propped up in bed against some pillows. But so am I.

Even more strange was how Lightning just began to speak her mind to the pooch. "You're called 'man's best friend', huh?" she asked rhetorically. "I'll admit you've been a good friend to me the past few days. Never would have guessed that something abandoned on the streets could turn into a good thing like you."

You're talking to yourself now. You were abandoned when your parents died. You didn't think that you could ever be good again after the extreme grief that caused you to change your name. You're just like Stray, protecting her younger sister.

It all made sense now. That was why Serah was so attached to these dogs! She saw the two of them in them. Lacey was a bit like her—mischievous, focused once she made up her mind, and fun-loving. And Lightning was like Stray in the ways that she thought of. Serah wanted to see the ending of the dogs' stories, because if they turned out okay, then so would Lightning and Serah.

"You know what matters," Lightning continued as she stroked the dog. Whether the words were spoken towards herself or to the dog, the message was the same. "You protect it with everything that you have within you. You know that as long as you do that…things will be all right in the end. Maybe."

Loyalty and dedication. Isn't that what you emphasize to yourself all the time?

"Being a stray doesn't define you any more than being an orphan defines me," Lightning realized. It suddenly clicked in her mind. What happened to her didn't define her. What she did with it did. Suddenly, a peace she hadn't known before flooded her veins. The past didn't have to define her. She wasn't the orphan girl. She was Lightning, and Lightning was a strong individual who was loyal, strong, and intelligent.

"You need a new name," she said suddenly to the dog. "Stray" wasn't going to do it anymore. She needed to give the dog a new name, because when she did, Lightning would feel freer as well. For now, they were one.

She wasn't good at this type of thing though. Serah was the one who inherited the creative genes in the family. Yet she couldn't ask her sister for help, because she'd try to choose something too sentimental. Lightning wasn't that type of person, and neither was the stray. After a few seconds, though, an idea came into her mind. "How about…Blitz?"

The dog's tail began to wag. The name fit. She sounded like an attack dog, and yet there was a soft interior beneath that pride that shone in her eyes.

"All right, then," Lightning smiled faintly.

Blitz. Lightning and Blitz. Two beings abandoned and left to face the world on their own. We'll show the world that we're more than the past.

They'll see we're more than strays and orphans.