Surrender

Lightning eased the front door open, and then kicked it shut behind her. It wad dark inside, dark and still and quiet, and she was startled by how much that bothered her. After Serah had moved out, she'd gotten used to an empty house. And then Fang and Vanille had moved in, and the house had never felt empty again. At times it even felt crowded.

More often than not, Vanille would still be awake when she got home. The red head would be sprawled on the couch, a bowl of cereal in front of her and another pointless show on the television. Years ago, Lightning probably would have grabbed her by the scruff of her shirt and thrown her off the couch, but things had changed. She had changed. Now, she just padded into the kitchen for a bowl, and sat down beside Vanille to enjoy her own bowl of cereal.

And then? Then they'd talk. It was easy, so easy to talk to Vanille. The Oerban liked to tease and poke and prod, but she always knew when to back away, she always knew how far she could push before Lightning finally decided to push back. And Vanille could see right through her, even if most of the time, she was content to let Lightning hold onto the masks she wore. The cold, aloof, uncaring soldier – Vanille let her have that, let her hold onto it because she understood that there was a part of Lightning that still needed it, would probably always need it. Once upon a time, she'd thought Vanille was a childish, naive fool, but those days were long gone. Vanille was like a sister to her now, another addition to the small, but growing list of people that Lightning actually gave a damn about.

Of course, Fang was on that list too. But Fang never greeted Lightning at the door. Instead, she let Lightning have her time with Vanille, let her bask, at least for a while, in the warm presence of the Dia. Fang always waited until Lightning had finished her first bowl of cereal, and then she'd come in and rest her head on Vanille's lap, her long, shapely legs left to dangle over the arm of the couch. And Vanille would flash Lightning that small, secretive smile. Oh yes, Vanille saw right through her.

Every time Lightning saw Fang's head in Vanille's lap, she shivered. Part of it was genuine mirth – more than once, Vanille had 'accidentally' dropped a spoonful of cereal into Fang's hair – but most of it was because of Fang's eyes. The dark haired woman might have her head in Vanille's lap, but her eyes – those damn eyes that understood exactly who and what Lightning was – never left Lightning. Lightning could feel Fang's gaze on her skin, each look, each glance a lingering caress that sent a shiver through her. Sometimes she dreamed of those eyes, and those dreams always left her dazed and almost feverish with want. She wanted Fang to brand her skin with her lips. She wanted Fang to pin her down and take what was hers – what had been hers almost since the day they'd met.

And all the while, she could feel Vanille watching the two of them, amused and just a little bit awkward. A smile, a smirk, a whisper – how well Vanille knew them both.

But right now, there was no one in the living room, and the stillness and quiet was almost enough to make her scream. She flicked the lights on, and her gaze drifted to the note on the coffee table. It was written in Vanille's playful yet precise hand, the edge tucked away beneath the corner of a half-full box of cereal:

"Went out with Serah. Enjoy yourselves."

And below that were Vanille's signature and a small smiley face. Her lips twitched. How like Vanille to do that. But what did the red head mean by 'yourselves'? Wait, the note hadn't mentioned Fang, which meant that Fang was still there. So… where was she?

"Fang," Lightning shouted. "Fang."

Nothing.

The other woman must be asleep. Lightning sighed, turned off the lights, and then headed up the stairs. Her boots thudded down on the stairs, and she felt a wave of tiredness sweep through her. Another long shift, another pile of paperwork. And nothing to do with all the money she earned – and it was a lot of money. The Guardian Corps paid very well to keep one of the legendary l'Cie on the books.

Sometimes she wondered why she was still working so hard. In the past, she'd have spent her money on Serah. But now there was only her. Vanille and Fang had their own jobs, and as much as it pained her to admit, Snow could look after her sister. He was a good man – one of the best she'd ever known – even if he could get on her nerves. So her money piled up, and piled up, and piled up. Maybe once Serah had children – and wasn't that a disconcerting thought, her baby sister having kids – she could spend it all on them. But that was still a long way off.

Upstairs, she plodded into her room and shrugged off her clothes. As tired as she was, there was a certain comfort to the routine as she carefully removed each piece of clothing and put it in the proper place. Her shower was hot, and the heat of it was almost enough to lull her into sleep. She pressed her head against the warm tiles, the water sluicing down her body, and tried not to think of Fang. If she did, her hands might wander and…

She hissed and switched the water to cold. But even that couldn't stop her mind from straying. A shudder swept through her. Fang's hands, she'd touched them before, had felt the calluses there from long years of handling weaponry. What would those hands feel like on her? Would Fang be gentle? Would she be rough? Somehow, Lightning suspected she'd be both, each touch accompanied by the press of Fang's full lips against her. But most of all, Lightning wanted to know what it would be like to let Fang just have her, to have all that strength, speed, and power directed at her, not to hurt, but to pleasure. A hoarse groan left her lips. She needed to stop right there. Any more and –

And what?

She still wasn't sure.

But all she'd have to do was give the word, and she'd find out. She knew what the look in Fang's eyes meant. She knew what Fang wanted but refused to take. So why hadn't she said anything? Fear. It hurt to admit, but that was the answer. If something happened, if something went wrong, she'd lose Fang, and most likely Vanille too, because there was no way that the red head would be able to steer clear of the fall out.

She left the bathroom, a towel wrapped around her body, and she was almost to the bed before she noticed that someone else was there. Fang stood in the door of her bedroom, and with a slow, deliberate motion, the dark haired woman pushed it shut behind her. The turning of the lock was as loud as thunder.

Lightning's pulse quickened. She wasn't sure if she should fight or run since the look in Fang's eyes was absolutely predator. Maybe she wanted to be caught. That might explain why she just stood and watched as Fang strode over, put one hand on her shoulder, and pushed

Lightning sprawled back onto the bed, and her hands went back to stop her fall. The harsh breath that Fang let out told her everything. She was exposed, her chest thrust forward by the position of her arms, and her legs slightly parted. Fang's eyes narrowed and then she stepped forward, pressing Lightning down onto the bed.

This was madness… pure and utter madness… and for a moment Lightning resisted. Then Fang's lips covered hers, and the world melted away in a haze of heat and desire so potent it sapped every bit of strength from her body. She was burning. Maker, she was burning, and Fang was the fire surging through her veins.

When Fang finally pulled away, she had one knee planted firmly between Lightning's thighs, and the pink haired woman's hands were pinned above her head. At some point, the towel had come loose. With her free hand, Fang stroked Lightning's cheek. Lightning had seen what Fang's hands could do, but there such tenderness in that touch, such gentleness that she couldn't help but press back against it. Still, the expression on Fang's face was almost violent, a curious mix of desire and agony.

"Why do we keep doing this, Lightning? Why do we pretend that this – right here – isn't what both of us want?" Fang's voice was a soft, velvet whisper against Lightning's senses. But Fang's eyes… they were so sad.

Lightning dragged in a deep breath. She could feel Fang's knee pressed against the warmth between her legs. Etro, all they'd done was kiss, and already she was so, so ready. Her stomach clenched, heavy with desire. "Because this is a mistake."

"A mistake?"

Fang gave a short, sharp bark of laughter. It grated on Lightning's nerves. Above her, Fang's eyes narrowed, became little more than slits, and the hand that had been on her cheek drifted lower, running gently over her collarbone before drifting down to wander first across one breast and then her toned stomach.

"Does this feel like a mistake?" Fang's words came out as something close to a groan. The hand ventured lower. "Does this feel like it's wrong?"

Lightning quivered. It would be so easy to throw Fang off. Fang's grip on her wrists had loosened. All she had to do was drive one leg up and then yank her arms free. Fang would lose her grip and tumble right off the bed. But she couldn't find the desire to do that, never mind the strength. Everywhere Fang touched her, she felt strange, her muscles loosening and tightening as though they weren't sure what to do. Surrender or fight? In the end, she just let Fang touch her, let Fang roam with eyes and hands over every inch of her.

And Fang was so gentle, like she couldn't quite believe what was happening and wanted to draw it out, to make it last in case it was only a dream.

"You're my best friend," Lightning whispered. "Doing this will change everything."

"Yes, it will." Fang leaned forward, her knee pressing more firmly against Lightning, her hand touching more firmly too, and her lips whispering a prayer against Lightning's throat, her cheeks, her lips. "But is that so bad?"

"I…"

Fang pressed her down into the bed. Somewhere, in the part of her mind that was still trying to make sense of everything, Lightning realised her hands were free. She could shove Fang back. She could –

"Do you love me?" Fang eased back, more vulnerable than Lightning had ever seen her.

In that instant, Lightning knew she could break Fang. Just a word, and the warrior's heart would shatter. What the fal'Cie couldn't do, what a war couldn't do, what nothing had ever been able to do – Lightning could do with one simple word. She had never felt so powerful in her life. Yet seeing the affection – the love – in Fang's eyes, she knew what answer she would give. And she had never felt so humbled.

"Yes."

Fang pressed a kiss to Lightning's cheek, and Lightning realised that somehow, a single, solitary tear had trickled from her eyes.

"Then let me have you." Fang smiled shakily. It was a prayer, and Lightning was her goddess as she tried to show with each touch, each caress, each kiss how much Lightning meant to her. "Just let it happen."

So Lightning did.

Again.

And again.

And again.

X X X

Lightning woke slowly. It was Saturday, one of the few times in the week when she could indulge herself. Vanille would be downstairs making pancakes – it was the red head's way of saying thank you for all the things Lightning did for her during the week – and halfway through the first pancake, Fang would pad into the dining room looking sleepy but utterly delectable.

Only something was different. She was in her room, but she wasn't alone. For a split-second, she wondered if she'd done something stupid. Had she finally gotten drunk enough to take a stranger home? No. She only ever drank at Lebreau's bar, and neither Fang nor Lebreau would ever let her go home with a stranger.

Then she remembered the previous night. Her cheeks flamed. Fang had… had accosted her. And she'd let her. More than that, she'd encouraged her – quite vocally, in fact, and on multiple occasions. She gulped.

"Hey."

She rolled over in Fang's embrace and found herself looking into a pair of emerald eyes. There was vulnerability there, that same look that told Lightning she could, with a word, ruin everything.

"Morning." Fang smiled faintly. "Uh…"

Lightning put one finger on Fang's lips, and then she moved that finger aside and kissed her. "Morning."

Fang's smile widened, but was still a little shaky. "About last night. If… if you… I mean…"

"I'm glad," Lightning said quietly. How strange. She'd only been in Fang's arms for a night, and already she never wanted to leave them. A wry smile tugged at her lips. "Finally, one of us was stupid enough to make a move. It's a good thing that sometimes stupid works."

Fang stared, and then she began to laugh. It did very nice things to her chest. Slowly, she calmed. "It worked for Snow, didn't it? I figured it might work for me too."

Lightning rolled her eyes. Fang was naked, but strangely, that didn't bother her. Instead, she had to fight the urge to press herself against the other woman. A few seconds later, she stopped fighting it. Fang's chest made for a very comfortable pillow. "This isn't a one time thing, Fang, so I expect you to see it through. Nothing less than the best will do, and neither of us gets to quit."

"I've never quite a thing in my life." Fang chuckled and ran one fhand through Lightning's hair. "I don't plan on starting now." Then her stomach gave an angry growl.

Lightning laughed. "Let's go make some breakfast." She stood, utterly aware of Fang's eyes on her, and relishing the feel of it. Maybe Serah had been right. She really did have a lot of pent up aggression, well, not exactly aggression…

She was about to throw on a robe – it was her house, but she wasn't about to go around naked – when she heard the front door slam open. A few seconds later, there were some footsteps, or rather a pair of footsteps.

"Hey, Fang, I'm sorry about last night. I tried to call you, but you didn't answer." It was Vanille, and her voice carried easily through the house. "Serah and I kind of hit the town last night, and well… it was a bit late when we were done, I just crashed over at her place." She laughed. "And wouldn't you know it, Snow makes the best omelettes."

A giggle. Serah. "What she means, Fang, is that she didn't want you to see her drunk."

"Hey! I'm not a kid. Besides, I can hold my liquor better than a certain someone." Vanille huffed.

Lightning looked at Fang. "What do we do?"

"No idea." Fang's eyes darted around the room frantically. Damn it, even if they threw on some clothes, anyone with eyes and a nose could tell what they'd been up to. Maybe she could have a shower and then sneak out the window.

"Hmmm…" Vanille sounded worried. "Fang's not in her room."

"That's all right." Serah padded back down the hallway toward Lightning's bedroom. "We can just ask Lightning."

Knock. Knock.

Lightning twitched. "Fang, fix it!"

"How?"

"I don't know… just… think of something. You're the one who's supposed to be good at improvising."

Fang winced. "I think I used up most of my creativity last night." She ignored the glare Lightning sent her and then grinned. "Would it really be so bad if they found out about us?"

Fang's tone was light, but her eyes were serious. Lightning swallowed thickly. "No," she said softly. "I don't think it would."

Fang smiled. "That's my girl." She grinned impishly and raised her voice. "Come back later, we're busy!"

There was a pair of shocked gasps, and then a great deal of giggling.

"Congratulations," Serah shouted through the door. "It took you two long enough."

"Yeah," Vanille added. "And thanks."

"Thanks?" Lightning murmured as a horrible, horrible thought occurred to her. "Vanille, why are you thanking me?"

"Oh, no reason." Vanille sounded very nervous. "Come on, Serah, let's go."

A moment later, the front door slammed shut.

"Fang, is there a betting pool going on about us?" Lightning asked. "And did Vanille just win it?"

Fang smirked. "Maybe, but you can't really argue with results, can you?"

Lightning's lips twitched. No, she couldn't. "I suppose."

"Good, now come back to bed." Fang leaned back into the pillows. "We have the house to ourselves and a whole weekend ahead of us."

Lightning felt what had to be the most idiotic grin slip across her face. "Yes… yes we do. But you're wrong about one thing. We've got a lot more than a weekend ahead of us. We've got a lifetime."

The look on Fang's face was priceless, and Lightning pounced. Last night, she'd let Fang have her way. Now, it was time for some payback of the very best kind.

X X X

Author's Notes

As always, I own neither Final Fantasy, nor am I making any money off of this.

So, this is based on Fangrai February Prompt #55: "Just let it happen." When I saw that prompt, I immediately pictured the exact moment that Fang says that line in this chapter (yes, my mind does make occasional trips to the gutter), and I wrote the rest of the chapter around that. It was also nice to get into more serious territory again after going all over the place in the preceding chapters.

As before, I've cut out the exact details of what they get up to in the bedroom. In this case, I think it works for the story, because the story isn't really so much about Lightning and Fang getting it on as it is about what occurs before that. Love is, in some ways, the purest form of surrender, because when you tell someone you love them, you're basically telling them that they can crush you if they feel like it, and that's something I wanted to get across in this chapter. Fang knows that she's putting herself in a very vulnerably position (even if it is her on top of Lightning), but she trusts Lightning to not hurt her. If that all sounds a bit sappy, I blame my childhood, and the fact that I read anything I could get my hands on, up to and including, romance novels, horror stories, and fairy tales.

While writing this chapter, I also realised that it could actually be interpreted as being at least slightly Neapolitan (if you don't get the reference, just think of ice cream and then of our favourite soldier and her housemates). This wasn't intentional. Rather it's something I only noticed afterward. That said, the first section isn't one I want to change. How Lightning relates to Vanille (the very fact that she can relate to Vanille) is important, because not only is Vanille very important to Fang, she's there to help Lightning manage her separation from Serah better. Lightning isn't someone who'll come out of her shell on her own – someone needs to go in there and drag her out, and while she might be willing to punch Fang in the head, she's not going to do that to Vanille. Anyway, this is a FLight story, and the last section makes that pretty clear.

As an aside, as someone who occasionally suffers insomnia… cereal tastes a lot better at night.

If you have the time check out my blog over at razieltwelve(period)wordpress(period)com. I've got a post up talking about what it means to have a broad range as a writer and why that might be a good thing to have. You should also check out Fangrai February at fangrai(dash)February(period)tumblr(period)com.

As always, I appreciate feedback. Reviews and feedback are welcome.