Disclaimer: I don't own any of the content written other than my own original plot. All characters, locations, etc. belong to the property of Squaresoft. (Or SquareEnix, respectively.)

Author's Note: Hey guys, it's been a good few years since I've posted anything on this site. (At least over 7 or so years!) My writing has changed and evolved a whole lot but like most writers, I still feel as though it can always improve. I've been wanting to write a Chrono Cross fanfiction for a while now, mostly because I've been in love with this game since I was really little, and I've only just started replaying the game. I always thought Glenn had a thing for Riddel, and I think together they would make a great romance story, so here it is!

I looked up at her as her body danced like a flickering flame on top of me. The ultra-violet hue of her hair was wild like a halo around her head. Her body glistened with sweat and gave her skin an ethereal glow of diamonds. Lady Riddel's aura remained unmatched by all and her beauty would become a thing of legend.

Out of all the years I had known Lady Riddel, I had never known her like this; uninhibited, passionate, and free from the political restraints of Viper Manor. When we lay in bed together the world fell out from under our feet, and even for just a few hours, we were numb to everything but each other.

Her fingers clutched at my chest as she tightened her hold on me. There was a certain desperateness, a neediness that I always enjoyed when she pulled me into the breadth of her arms and held me there as though she were too frightened to let go. To be needed by Lady Riddel, to be wanted by her, was a feeling I savored each time I put my hands on her body.

I could feel the sweat at my nape, the fair blonde of my hair sticking to my forehead as her gentle lips became fierce and left venomous kisses all over my neck. Her smooth thighs burned like hot coals against my hips and she pulled and clutched at my body with such fervent yearning it both scared and enticed me. Making love to the Lady Viper was an art; it was both sweet and sour with each time I fell victim to her lure and my desires.

I watched as her delicate features twisted and pulled, overtaken as she was by those familiar waves of pleasure that now ripped through her body. The whites of her eyes fluttered beneath the stark black of her lashes as they rolled back into her head, her brows knit and her nose crinkled, the soft plumpness of her lips that I so often took for granted breathed heavy air down her stomach. Everything about her was sensuous and beautiful, alluring as she was hypnotic; she was a queen whose slave I had already willingly become.

But she was a fallen queen whose allure was not without tragedy, and I readied myself for the bittersweet ending that would always follow our most intimate of moments. With hours wasted into the night I knew our time together would soon be over when I felt her lay her head down upon my quick breathing chest. It was our custom to lay like this in each other's arms, quiet so as to not drag the moors of reality so quickly upon us.

With her legs entwined with my own and her arms softly tangled around my neck, I knew what it was like to be completely and entirely at peace. The air was still but sweet and time felt suspended as our bodies lay collapsed in on each other, exhausted with fatigue and a drowsy sense of sleep. She breathed and I knew she was content, I could hear it in her voice and I could feel it in her bones; she dripped with pure satisfaction and I allowed my ego one small victory as I reveled in my ability to satisfy her desires. This is one thing I'm best at.

I cringed at the thought as the venomous poison pierced my flesh and spread like an infection. It was always like this after we made love, and it was that bitter taste that I rued most. My body tensed under Riddel's soft curves and I knew it would only be seconds before she sensed my uneasiness, my resentment. Lying with a Viper seemed too cruel an allegory for me to appreciate its play on words. Lying with a Viper always bit me where it hurt most: Dario.

Did she think of him? Did she miss him? Did she compare me to him often? These were all the things I worried over as I laid naked in bed with her. It didn't matter that she was mine, for these short few moments. It didn't matter that she had given herself to me freely time and time again, it only mattered what she thought, and I could not, for whatever reason, seem to shake my feelings of inferiority to Dario. Did I place second in lust and love too?

It was routine for us to part ways after several moments of listing away together twisted in sheets. It was also routine for us to never discuss anything that passed between us, romantically or sexually. Our relationship was secret, and I often wondered if it was because she could not bring herself to let go of Dario, if guilt tore its way so deeply and ferociously through her heart all that remained in the end was burning resentment and hatred for the younger brother of her former lover. Was I simply a means to an end, a means to Dario? Was I her last remaining link to him? These thoughts often crossed my mind, and the taste it left in my mouth was so bitter and sour I hardly felt capable of anything other than guilt myself. I felt guilt for being alive when my brother was dead, guilt for desiring a girl who was once his and was now his ghost's lover, and guilt for hating him for it all. I felt guilty for blaming him. I loved Dario… I love Dario, but with his death came great grief, confusion, and a love that should never have blossomed. My love for Riddel was as strong as my love for Dario, and for that, I felt guiltiest of all.

I felt her stir against my body. The warmth of her stomach sliding against my own put to rest my thoughts for a moment and I looked down at her sprawling form; she was truly a vision. The haze in her eyes cleared as she looked up at me and I could feel my heart nearly swell in my chest; there was something so sincere, so honest about the brilliant ruby red of her maroon colored eyes that I felt as though she could almost hear my thoughts. I suddenly felt ashamed for thinking about Dario.

"Glenn…" I lost count of how many times she called my name this night, but I would never get tired of hearing her ask for me, of having her want me. I ran my fingertips along the side of her arm to let her know she had my attention. I was admittedly apprehensive, however, of the dialogue that would follow. The Lady and myself hardly ever spoke once our hour was finally over. Instead, we parted ways quietly, trying hard to pretend the boundaries of grieving widow, consoling brother-in-law, and friendship had never been blurred in the first place. I think, in a way, our silence was a reflection of our guilt for forgetting a lover and a brother, for wanting to move on when Dario could never make that journey with us.

"Why do you always look so sad after…" She trailed off, as though she could not bring herself to even put words to what we did so often with each other. My heart beat fast, half in shock that she brought up my dire disposition and half in shock that she said anything at all. I furrowed my eyebrows, trying as best as I could to feign ignorance and keep firmly established the role of consoling, understanding Glenn that Riddel was most comfortable with. I never had want to give her reason to think otherwise of me, and I didn't want my inferiorities to conclude this unconventional romance between us. As much as I loathed it I loved it, and I would be positively lost without Riddel to hold at night.

"What do you mean, my lady? Do I somehow disappoint you? Does my disposition seem not right? Have I offended you in some manner or another? For I assure you, I have no want to ever cause assault on your mind or-"

"Glenn, stop." Her finger pressed against my lips as she looked up at me sternly. Her eyes burned now, with an intensity I was not familiar with. She was not quiet nor was she eager to forget the night with the dawning morning; she seemed utterly and entirely invested in me. "Stop… speaking to me like that, stop being so formal, stop… stop being so distant. I've known you since we were both children, Glenn, and I know when something is wrong."

She gathered the sheets up around her breasts and sat herself upright. She seemed so beautiful tonight, so fervent and alive. It took almost every strength within me not to tell her I loved her. Her soft hand glided over my cheek and I felt nearly intoxicated by the aromatic scent of her body. Confusion pulsed all up and down my body fused with a certain sense of drunken love. The Viper had successfully imbibed me with her venom; a poison that I would forever be dependent upon from this moment on. Her brows furrowed and she looked deeply concerned. I had not seen her express much emotion other than sheer pleasure or chilly cordiality when we spent these nights together, but this night, she seemed anything but apathetic. Riddel burned bright with bursting emotions.

Her thumb passed affectionately over the X shape of my scar and I could feel my skin tingle under her touch. She caressed it as though she thought it were the most beautiful thing she had so far seen in life. I hardly knew what to do at all other than to somewhat clumsily stare back at her, feeling my youth and inexperience under her gaze. Her voice was but a shadow of a whisper when she spoke to me next, her face very close as she continued to caress that soft spot on my face.

"Do I… displease you…?" Her voice trailed off. Her words seemed more a hopeless statement than a curious question, as though she were afraid of what answer I would give her. Those big, bright, wine colored eyes of hers stared back at me with a mixture of fear, hope, and a conviction so passionate I felt my bones rattle in my body. She seemed to me the epitome of a woman, and I wondered how I could ever have been so lucky as to be chosen by one such Lady.

My brows furrowed at her question and my hand slid slowly up her arm and over the hand that touched my face. I let my fingers boldly circle her delicate wrist and hold her.

"Displease me? Lady Ridde-" I stopped myself at her incredulous look and began again, softer and more intimate, with a conscious attempt to be her equal instead of her inferior in almost every aspect; age, experience, love, and life. No matter how many times I lay with her, I feel I still have so much to learn, and I always strive to hide this boyish side of mine from her. Her look tonight, however, seemed to beg to talk with the boy she once knew, the Glenn before the knight. "Riddel."

I had said her name, and suddenly everything seemed slightly changed. The biting poison of her would-be lover gone, the ripping guilt for my knighted brother dissolved, the tethers of our reality temporarily suspended for a fleeting moment of genuine understanding. No longer were we Lady Riddel and Sir Glenn, instead we were our former selves; Riddel and Glenn, two people, two friends, and perhaps even… two lovers. I felt my courage building as I stared back into her eyes, that soft, hypnotic gaze of hers encouraging me with each ticking second. This time it was me who laid a reassuring hand on the smooth porcelain of her skin.

"How could you think you displease me?" My hand moved further back across her face, eventually burying itself into her hair and holding onto the nape of her neck with a fervor and vigor I hardly knew was there. "I would follow you to the ends of the earth if you asked such a task of me, Riddel. I would lay down my life before I would see harm come your way." I pushed my face closer to hers and I could feel the breadth of bravery and anxiety begin to blur, culminating together into one lump of pure emotion; pure energy. "Can you really not tell how I feel about you, Riddel?" My lips could nearly taste her own my face was so close to hers. Her scent drowned me in a sea of unconditional love, and I wanted nothing more than to tell her exactly the extent of my love for her.

I could see the apprehension on her face though. My words sent her wavering, perhaps overwhelmed by a sentiment she did not know I possessed, or perhaps, a sentiment she did not want to believe I possessed. Regardless, for even just a flickering moment, I think she saw the love and adoration I so desperately tried to hide from her. I was exposed suddenly, my secret unraveled so it would seem, and with it, an indescribable feeling of liberation and freedom. I loved Riddel and I think in this moment she knew it. I no longer had anything to fear, and with that knowledge I very gently pressed my lips against her own, savoring her kiss and the freedom to taste her without having to be physical with her. It was the most exhilarating kiss of my life, far surpassing even the most indulgent of bodily pleasures.

She was hesitant for a moment before I felt her soft lips kiss me back. I could feel her hair fall over her shoulder, grazing the side of my arm as the two of us sat separate of the world in this moment. Her kiss seemed sweetest of all when she gave it free of guilt. My hands went to her face, unaware to what depths I deepened this kiss. I could vaguely feel her own hands at my chest before they snaked their way around my neck and pulled me even closer to the one woman I had wanted to be closest of all to.

It seemed a dream that she should reciprocate my deepest affections for her, but the passion that exuded from her lips told me quite plainly that perhaps this love was not as damned as I had once believed it to be; and that perhaps, even, great things could come from great sorrow. We sat like this for a while, lingering listlessly in each other's embrace. Having pulled her legs around my waist once more I was only half aware of the bundle of white sheets that sat crumpled between our two bodies, completely consumed in the very simple act of just kissing her. My hands ran the sides of her slender waist, my chest pressed tight against her own as I tried and failed to get even closer to her than I already was. Nothing, so it would seem, would satisfy my deepest craving to be with her; to be near her as humanly possible. I felt some strange urge building in the depths of my chest before I realized what I was saying.

"I love you Riddel." My lips kissed her neck and yet I still seemed uncontrollable. "I love you so much." They moved to her jaw; I rambled on without a filter. "I love your face," I kissed further up, "I love your cheeks," I kissed her feathery lashes, "I love your eyes, I love your nose," and finally I kissed her mouth, "and I love your lips." I could feel her withdraw with each kiss, and I knew that something was very clearly amiss now. I wondered if my deepest fears would soon be confirmed.

As our lips touched once more in a brief, half-broken kiss, Riddel pulled her head away, putting distance between us by pushing me back with her hands. I felt my back hit the headboard and my eyes went to hers in confusion. She averted my gaze by turning her head, and I knew things were very quickly beginning to disintegrate. The kiss of death, I could hear myself thinking, the kiss that would deliver the final blow; the venomous poison. I had been successfully bitten by the snake, and only now was I beginning to feel its toxic effects.

I stared at her at first, only somewhat confused by her actions. A small part of me that I wanted to deny knew she pushed me away because of him, because of Dario. But I persisted anyway, perhaps half out of desperation, the other half out of spite.

"Why do you turn away from me?" I watched her sink glistening white teeth into her bottom lip, hesitant to answer me. I hated to see her in pain but I could not help but hate her loyalty to my dead brother. "Is it because of him?" Riddel and I had discussed Dario few and far between since we had started sleeping with each other. Before that I was the ever comforting old friend to lean on, the young boy who grew up into the young man who would gallantly rise to the occasion of consoling his brother's grieving widow. And for a time, we worked well together like that. In fact, one could go so far as to say it was Dario's death that drew us closer, and I think that, more than anything, was what shamed Riddel so much. Mentioning his name so suddenly, in the place where we defiled his memory, seemed too much for Riddel to bear.

Very suddenly she drew up all the sheets to her body, as though I had not laid my eyes on her naked body before, and quite modestly walked towards where her clothes were strewn over a silk chaise-lounge. Her silence was all the answer I needed, and never had I wanted to be so wrong as much as I had in that moment. I looked down at my outstretched palms, some would say in despair, others would say in anger; I felt nothing. I spoke without feeling.

"So I am not wrong then. The shadow of my brother will forever consume me, so it seems. I can see my Lady that your heart belongs to Dario and to Dario alone." I began to get out of bed mindlessly, only half noticing her turn around somewhat startled, a silk robe the color of champagne fastened around her waist. I did not want to look at her though, for fear of all my vulnerabilities exposing themselves and betraying my stoic demeanor. "It was my mistake to ever presume to move you from a love lost. I bear you no ill will but I rather do think we should put an end to this once and for-"

"Glenn." It was the first time she had said anything since I embarrassed myself by telling her how I really felt; how much I had really grown to love her. It would be easier if she thought I had only needed her as much as she had needed me; to drown out the bitter sorrow of death and cope with the destruction of a reality without Dario. Half dressed in my trousers I looked up at her, pulling the last of my shirt over my head as I stared back at her. "This isn't what I want. I don't want you to leave."

I looked down, and this time I had to clench my teeth in frustration. Riddel was making it insufferably hard to cut ties with her, and yet she made it clear I was not bound to her through love but through lust. To suffer her bites would surely lead to death by poison. I did not want to drown in this toxic environment. "Quite frankly, I don't think you know what you want Miss. Riddel, but I know for certain now that it is clearly not me." I was rambling, trying hard to withstand her gaze and gather my belongings in a timely fashion to leave Viper Manor. Her room seemed the core of a cobra's den and I could not escape it quick enough.

"You don't mean that." I had turned suddenly on her, viciously even, and grabbed her arm in my hand.

"You don't know what I mean and I suggest you don't presume to either." I watched her brows pull together; she was frightened. I hated myself in this moment but I knew I had to be firm in order to truly end it, to save us both from a fate filled with guilt and shame. In this world, we could never be.

But she did look up at me with such a sorrow to her eyes, with such a somber, desperate sense of abandonment my resolve nearly gave from under me in an instant. She looked beautiful, even as a tragedy. She caught my momentary weakness and seized her moment. Suddenly I felt her hand on my cheek, gliding over my scar yet again. Her eyes swelled and brimmed with tears and I could feel my resolve start to slip slowly away.

"I'm sorry, Glenn. I am… it's just… I don't mean to push you away. I don't and you must believe that. Please believe that..." Her voice stammered but her eyes were alight. Her skin glowed like jumping embers and she seemed, for the first time in a long time, to be alive. She looked so much like the young Riddel I knew, the young Riddel I grew up with, the young Riddel who would grow into the mature Riddel, my Lady, the Riddel who I loved dearly. Dario could not deny me my love, as I could not deny him his, nor could I deny my own.

"It's just I don't know what to feel with Dario gone. I don't know how I should feel. We've hardly ever talked about… this… about us… and every time I let myself run away with you I feel so… so guilty. And I know you feel it too, I feel it in your bones, in the way you lay, in how you hold me. It's like you're gone… somewhere else… it's like… it's like Dario is always with us and it makes me sick and angry and sad all at once and I hate it!"

She had collapsed into my arms and I could feel her cry on my chest. It was true; we had never discussed Dario once we began sleeping with each other. Instead we let it fester inside of ourselves, until it built into an explosive time bomb. Everything we had ever done lead up to this one moment, and I couldn't have been happier to see Riddel explode so ungraciously and magnificently. She was so human, and so flawed, and it was everything that I loved about her. I watched her try so hard to keep neat as a pin, flawless and perfect in what she said and did that it was truly the most beautiful thing to see her break down and reveal a pain that I could understand and help her with. I suddenly felt useful. I suddenly felt as though I could fit into her life.

"It's alright, Riddel…" I tightened my hold on her. The strength of my arms seemed only relevant so long as she needed to be held. We had never been like this, but I hoped we would be more often in the future. To hold Riddel was to hold a precious treasure; she was meant to be relished. "I think…" I paused, thinking of something intelligent and articulate to say, until I realized that was not who she wanted. Riddel had asked for me, for Glenn, not the knighted Sir who tried hard to fill the shoes of his older brother. "I think, Riddel, we're supposed to not know how to feel. I don't know a lot of things, but I do know sometimes not knowing is okay. Sometimes… being confused isn't bad… we're not bad people, Riddel, we're just… two really lost people who found something through their grief. Actually… I think… we're lucky… because we have each other when most people have nothing."

I surprised myself as to the extent to which I was able to grasp our unique situation and put it into words. I may have not been the most articulate, but I was the most sincere, and I could see in her eyes when she looked up at me, that sincerity and honesty were far more valuable than eloquence and adornment.

"I like it most when you talk to me like that, Glenn." I hadn't realized how little I had seen Riddel smile until she smiled up at me, but I realized it was the most beautiful thing in the world, and I had wanted to see her smile again. I wanted to be her reason for being happy.

"Then I will talk as plainly as you like, for years to come, if you will only but give me that chance." There was a clarity to her eyes I had not seen before; a litheness if you will that could not exist when the weight of her guilt bore down on her shoulders. She looked genuinely happy as she stared up at me, but I could still sense a natural uneasiness that I could not be angry with her for.

"Glenn… do you think…" She fumbled over her words, and I knew before she asked me that this question would concern Dario. Admittedly, I, myself, wondered the same thing about him. "What would Dario say about this?" Her question was a difficult one, but valid in its importance. What would my older brother, best at almost everything we ever did, have to say about his little brother falling in love with his betrothed? It seemed almost too hard a question, but deep within me somewhere I felt I knew the answer. Perhaps because we were brothers, and we shared a bond that was never quite severed, even in death, I felt I knew his answer.

"I think… I think he would be hurt." I could see this was not the answer Riddel was looking for, but she said nothing. I smiled inwardly at her and was quick to continue my thought. "And I think he would be angry-"


"Let me finish," I said with a faint smile. "I think at first he would be hurt and inevitably angry. These things I could not deny him, but I also think… I know… that he would come to accept it. And not just tolerate it, but… I do know, deep in my heart, that he would be happiest of all our friends and family that together, we could find some semblance of happiness after so much of it has been taken away. Dario was many things, Riddel, you know that best of all, and you should know that above all else, he was…" I stopped here, feeling myself turn surprisingly emotional as I talked about the brother I always admired through childhood and adulthood, and tried to compose my thoughts for her.

"He was a good man," she finished my words for me, as though deep in her own heart, Dario spoke to her the same way he spoke to me. I nodded.

"Yes, he was a good man, who loved us both dearly." I felt free, finally, to acknowledge my brother and rid myself of this guilt I carried so heavily. The air cleared, so it seemed, and I felt for the first time in years, I could breathe easy. I allowed myself a moment to finally miss Dario, to truly miss him for myself and myself alone. I did not miss him for a grieving widow, I did not miss him for a lost nation; I missed him as a little boy who desperately wanted his older brother back, and through this loss, I knew he looked down on me with no ill will. My guilt was gone, absolved by my brother's love and approval.

I felt Riddel's warm hands slide over my face and hold my cheeks in her hands. When I looked at her she was smiling again, and I realized this was something I would see more often in the future. This promise made me happy.

"Your brother loved you very much, Glenn… don't ever forget that."

"I know he did… I know."

"And you have nothing to feel ashamed about, Glenn. You are a good brother… you are a good person too."

"As are you, Riddel. My brother loved you because of your kind heart and generous soul. There is no place for guilt in your heart." Mending the holes in our hearts left by the scars of time seemed less daunting with her by my side. I thanked Dario for sending her my way.

I felt her hands tighten on my face, and I thought how nice it felt to be held by her. I watched her inhale deeply before she told me quite simply,

"Glenn, I love you. I love… your face and your nose…" she smiled, her laughter sounding like music as she made fun of my words from before, but she continued, "I love your eyes and your lips," I felt her fingers touch my bottom lip, " and I love your scar, your beautiful, handsome… very, very attractive scar." She finished with a fire in her eyes and a playful smile, her fingers running back and forth along the lines of my scar.

I would serve as her knight for as long as my Lady wanted me, and I knew in that moment that I very dearly wanted to spend the rest of my days with Riddel, as happy and free as I felt in this moment. She gave me purpose when I felt for so long that I wandered with none.

And then I felt it, the Viper's bite that sent that glorious, euphoric venom coursing through my veins and running through my blood. Her lips kissed my scar, they kissed the corner of my mouth, and finally they kissed my lips, and I had very willingly wanted to taste this Viper's venom for as long as she would have me.

With Riddel in my arms and my shame a thing of time's past, I kissed her as best as I knew how and savored the knowledge that in every way I could be, I was bitten.

Author's Note: Well, there it was, my first official return to the world of fanfiction. I really hope those of you who read it liked it. I really have only one request at the end of this one-shot, and that is to please, to anyone who read this, even as just a casual read, even if you thought very little of it, please, please, please review! Honestly, I cannot stress enough how important reviews are to authors, even if it is just to say "Good," or "I hated it," or anything. One word or a paragraph, it really makes me happy to see people take the time out to let me know how I am doing as an author. Constructive criticism is something I always welcome, and any other thoughts on my work are extremely appreciated by me. Reviews help me gauge where I stand on my writing, where I need to improve, and where I am excelling. Thank you again for checking out my short story, and I really hope you all enjoyed it!