Lucina wasn't sure why she found herself dropping back as the others marched on ahead of her, but she slowed her pace regardless and followed her instincts. Something seemed off, warning her to move slowly instead of carrying on with the others like she wanted to. Her mother, father and brother were at the front of the column, and though she wanted to jog ahead and join them...

Her eyes moved of their own accord, to the rear where she had noticed Inigo lingering. For some reason he was moving more slowly than usual back to camp, where he was normally the first to be going once the orders to march were given. His expression was tight, devoid of his usual smile, and while she wanted to be pleased to see he wasn't wearing that damned foolish grin that truly irked her... It seemed wrong that he wasn't in better spirits.

She cringed as she wondered if she was the reason he was looking so sour. He'd been going out of his way to avoid her in camp, and while she was gladdened that he wasn't hounding her footsteps with his constant reminders to smile... She did miss his pestering, in a strange way that hurt her chest and made her feel terribly lonely. She'd almost gotten used to his antics before she had lost her temper with him, and ever since then he'd made sure to leave her alone like she'd demanded. If they crossed paths, he'd simply duck his head without a word, stepping out of her way with a gracious air that was painfully cold to see, and by the time she'd bucked up her courage to call out to him, he was always gone.

She couldn't blame him for it, as her words had been unnecessarily cruel even with the heat of her anger. She still had a difficult time believing she had snapped at him like she had, and worse, she couldn't think of anyone to ask for advice on how to apologize to him properly. Morgan was strangely like Inigo in his optimism, and she knew her brother would be upset with her if she told him what she'd said. Worse, she didn't want to offend him with the comparison, and so she bit her tongue and said nothing.

It didn't help that they were already in strained spirits, as her suggestion to have him wield Falchion in the event of her death had angered him beyond anything she'd ever seen before. Her brother, usually so chipper and gung-ho, had completely lost his temper, and she'd been stunned into complete and utter silence when he'd left with the threat of using her sword on another batch of apples if she ever raised the question to him again. His eyes had burned in the exact same way her father's did when he lost his temper, but for all his shouting, he was too much like their mother to show any other signs of rage. He'd simply turned around and left her where she was, hurting her with silence when his words could no longer be used.

'Blast... I anger everyone close to me without even trying... Why can't I be more tactful...? Gods, why can't I be more like my brother, or even like Inigo? Of course, it's only when I've successfully isolated myself from everyone that I realize that he has a very sound point. I owe him much more than a simple apology...'

Curling her hands into fists as she resolved to face the dark-haired mercenary and clear the air regardless of how awkward it would be, Lucina turned completely around with the intent of joining him at the back of the guard where she'd noticed he'd now completely dropped behind to. She froze though when she realized someone else had beat her there, and her eyes widened as she saw Inigo and Lon'qu now well behind everyone else and talking in what seemed to be extremely heated voices.

Not wanting to be seen and yet now well behind the column too, Lucina did the only thing she could think of and that was to duck behind one of the trees that dotted the country road they had chosen for the route back to camp. Now that the steady marching of the army had faded away, she could hear Lon'qu speaking with surprising disgust and anger to his son. She realized it wasn't that they were arguing, but rather Lon'qu was the one doing most of the talking while Inigo was saying nothing, almost like he was ashamed.

"... Honestly, I'm disappointed. You have no idea what it means to be at war."

There was silence, and Lucina's eyes widened as she heard the similarities between Lon'qu's voice and her own. The disgust and anger and disappointment almost morphed his tone to hers, and she remembered her growl as she dismissed Inigo's joking and demanded he just leave her be. That she had no time for his games, that she had no desire for his mirth, and that he was nothing but a fool. '... I...'

"You don't know a damned thing."

Inigo's voice had taken on a shocking change, and for a second Lucina hadn't even recognized it in its coldness and anger. She'd never heard him speak that way, and it was obvious Lon'qu was just as shocked as his son shook his head and continued on in that same oddly unreal voice, "You're the one who's clueless, Father! Do you think I'd be out here if I were only after girls? Out here fighting every day, wondering if this is the time I don't make it home?!"

"Inigo, I didn't–"

Inigo raised a hand and then dropped it in a slashing gesture, cutting of his father's surprised protest. Lucina could see him shaking his head, disgust twisting his handsome features into a scowl that didn't belong on his face as he interrupted angrily in explanation, "You may think me a dandy and a fool, but a lot of people depended on me in the future. Every day, I was out there fighting Risen and risking my life. With everyone looking to me to be strong, I had no choice. I had to be invincible. I couldn't complain or show any weakness. Not with everyone else struggling in that damn war-torn wasteland... Even with you and Mother gone, I had to pretend I was fine. That I wasn't hurting. I had to fight every day of my sorry life and wear a smile while I did it!"

"Now is precisely the time! In dark times like this, you just have to keep grinning until you feel happy."

A weak and bitter snort left the younger man, and he shook his head almost sadly as he spoke in a much quieter tone than before. Though he was no longer yelling, and the anger had left his tone, his voice was still cold and twisted in a way so much unlike him as he asked sarcastically, "You said I looked like I didn't have a care in the world? Well, I'm sorry to tell you, but that's not the case at all. I smile and joke around because I don't want to show the world any weakness. If that disappoints you... then I guess you'll just have to be disappointed."

"Unlike you, my head is not filled with rainbows and sunshine. I carry enough sense to realize the dire straits we find ourselves in. I have no desire to smile right now, and even less to fake one! If you're too dense to understand that, I don't know how to help you!"

Lucina felt a cold sort of horror fill her chest as the guilt she had been feeling earlier compounded itself until it was difficult to breathe. Everything he had just said completely shattered the image she had of him, letting her finally see for once that his fascination with her smile had always been more than he'd ever let on. His care for her was deeper than she'd ever have known, and she knew with a stabbing pain in her stomach that had she apologized, had she tried to clear the air with him... He wouldn't have even flinched. He'd never have let her know. 'He... He knew. All this time... All this damned time... and I never saw it. A perfect facade... Oh gods... What have I done? What did I say? Inigo... I'm so sorry... I'm so, so sorry...'

A quiet and defeated sigh told her that Inigo had spent all of his pent-up emotions, but she didn't have the strength or the heart to peek around the tree again to see what expression he was wearing now. "That said, I do appreciate the concern... I'll get the leg looked at."

There was silence, and Lucina pressed herself against the tree's broad trunk as if wishing she could simply melt into the bark and disappear. She knew he'd come walking by any moment, and she wasn't sure if she could handle him knowing she had heard every word that had passed between him and his father. As footsteps approached, Lucina thought of simply ducking around to the other side to mask her presence, but her body refused to listen to her mental commands. She was in shock, in pain, and nothing seemed to want to work whether it was her body or her mind.

She was grateful then, when she realized it was Lon'qu walking by her and not his son, and the swordsman didn't look anywhere but straight down the path. His strides were long but measured, and as he moved past her, Lucina jerked as she noted the pain in his eyes and the tight set of his jaw. For all of his upset though, he just kept walking, understanding that anything he said now in the silence of that outburst wouldn't be right. Wouldn't be taken. He had too much to absorb, and for the sake of his son's injured pride and his own disbelief... he would walk away and give them both the time and space they needed from each other.

When Inigo didn't follow after him, even after a few long minutes, the dim words he'd spoken in cold farewell to Lon'qu clicked in Lucina's head and answered the initial question that had made her drop back in the first place. 'He's hurt his leg...? He won't make it back on his own quickly enough... Lon'qu will send someone for him once he catches up with the others, but... in the meantime...'

Closing her eyes tightly, Lucina took in a deep breath to steady herself as she prepared to step out from the behind the tree. Any awkwardness she felt about revealing herself was put aside as she considered Inigo's safety, and even if he didn't forgive her, she didn't really care. She couldn't leave him here by himself, even if someone would be coming back to attend to him sooner or later at Lon'qu's request. 'Gods...'

A soft almost exasperated laugh made her eyes shoot open, and her stomach dropped to her feet as she saw Inigo standing in front of her with a hand on his hip. He'd caught her before she had a chance to reveal herself, too lost in her own emotional turmoil to hear him coming, and she cringed as she fully expected him to unleash his wrath on her now for daring to eavesdrop, for saying such cruel things to him without even trying to understand him.

She was stunned then when she felt his hand touch her cheek and trace the path of a tear she hadn't even realized she had shed in her guilt over her words. Looking up to meet his eyes, she wasn't sure what to say as he sighed and pulled his hand away. He awkwardly set it back on his hip, like he was sorry he even dared to touch her as he shook his head and muttered under his breath, "Well, I guess it's pointless to ask you how much you heard, especially if you're looking as upset as you are. I guess the cat's out of the bag."

Lucina wasn't sure what she would have done if he hadn't tried to smile at her, but he tried and he failed miserably. His lips simply wouldn't pull up the way they were commanded to, and in his eyes was too much pain that he couldn't mask no matter how hard he tried. It hurt, worse than any physical wound she had ever taken to see that facade breaking right in front of her, and a broken sob escaped her as she begged weakly, "Oh gods, Inigo please don't. Don't smile like that. Why would you even try after everything you just said?"

"Because I hate seeing a pretty girl cry. Especially if that girl is you." Inigo answered her just as weakly, and again he reached out to catch her tears and brush them away. The kindness of his words and actions made her lose her control, and without thinking she moved forward to embrace him just as he did the same. He crushed her against his chest, burying his face into her hair as she clung to his shoulders, and she let herself cry for him since he obviously refused to do so even if he hated it. "Lucina..."

"I'm sorry... Everything I said... I'm so sorry." Lucina whispered hoarsely against his chest, refusing to let him go and hating herself for how desperately she clung to him. She didn't want to, didn't think she deserved it, but he held her too tightly and she couldn't find the strength to push him away. He was comforting her of all things, when it was what she wanted to give to him, and she felt even more terrible as she apologized repeatedly and brokenly, "I didn't understand. I didn't even try. It doesn't excuse anything I did, but oh gods, I am so sorry. Please Inigo, please forgive me. I shouldn't have been so cruel. I'm sorry."

"You don't need to apologize on my behalf. If I was fool enough to make you think it was all real, then it means I've done well in what I'd set out to do." Inigo sighed as he shook his head and denied her the apology she wanted to make, but he did hold her even closer to him if that was possible. She was trembling in his arms, like she was going to fall apart at any given moment, and it scared him to see her come so undone. Yet, knowing that it was for him that she was so broken, he couldn't in good faith release her. His voice was weak, quiet and pained as he repeated her earlier curse to him like it was a compliment, "Rainbows and sunshine, right? I liked the sound of it."

Lucina groaned as the words sent a prong of guilt-tipped agony through her chest, and though she knew he didn't mean it, she knocked her head against his shoulder and squeezed her fingers tight into his back as she whispered, "Don't... Please. Gods, Inigo... Why didn't you just tell me? You have every right to be furious with me... to be disgusted by me. Stop being so kind for once in your life and just let me have it like I deserve."

"You don't need that, and you definitely don't deserve it." Inigo said firmly, and again he shook his head as he gentled the arms around her body somewhat. His left hand moved up her quivering shoulders to smooth down her hair, and unsure if she even knew she was doing it, Lucina nuzzled closer to him. Flushing a little despite himself, Inigo reminded himself that she probably had no idea what kind of signals she was giving him as he reminded her quietly, "How much pain have you been in since this whole mess started? If anyone is in need of some kindness, it's you. It's alright, and you don't need to apologize. Really. I'm okay. I always am."

Scowling, Lucina pulled away just enough to tilt her chin and stubbornly glare up at him. Tears continued rolling down her cheeks, but her eyes shone with fire as she demanded of him, "Then why are there tears in your eyes, and why are you shaking? If you're really okay, then tell me why you look to be in even more pain than I am. Don't lie to me, Inigo. If anything you just told your father was true, then don't lie to me now."

Laughing bitterly, Inigo let out a deep and weary sigh before he let one hand go from around her waist to trace the tears that left stains on her cheeks. A hint of a blush was left in the wake of his fingers, and he closed his eyes as he felt her doing the same to him to prove her words to be true. "One-upped by the princess, I guess... But you should know I'm not upset because of you. Never because of you. It's true, I wish you hadn't heard what I'd told my father, but not because of what you inferred by it. It's not exactly the best image of me to give you."

Blinking in disbelief and now unsure if she still wanted to be embracing this man, Lucina shook her head slowly from side to side as she asked weakly, "You care about what image I have of you because of what you told your father? What kind of priorities do you have?"

"The best kind, if you really want to know." Inigo laughed without real mirth, and he released her as he sensed her surprise and read the disbelief in her face. He shrugged a little bit, but he mused that now that she truly understood what kind of man he was, there was little he had left to hide and lose by revealing the last of himself to her. Spreading his arms wide and stepping back from her though it hurt his leg to put any pressure on it, Inigo asked her without shame as he presented himself to her, "Tell me, what kind of man doesn't care about how the woman he loves sees him?"

Lucina's eyes widened and her mouth dropped open in complete and utter surprise at his words and rather nonchalant delivery. For a moment she wasn't sure if she believed him, wasn't sure if he was putting her on in an attempt to make her smile. Then she saw his eyes, saw the worry and fear in them that she'd reject him, that she wouldn't believe him, and she had no choice but to accept his words as the truth. "I-Inigo..."

"I've been in love with you since the day we first met. I just decided it was best I never told you. You're royalty, you're Chrom's daughter... and you're so far out of my league that it's painful sometimes." Inigo smiled weakly, and he folded his arms back around his waist as he leaned his weight awkwardly back on his good leg as the gouge began to hurt again. "I know I drive you crazy, and I know you can't stand me, but I had to tell you. If I didn't, I thought I'd go mad. It's alright to reject me flat out, and to be honest I think that's what I'd prefer. So don't worry about my feelings and just–"

"Be quiet, Inigo." Lucina interrupted him in a soft whisper as she stepped forward, reaching up to wind her arms around her shoulders as she pulled him down to kiss him. He gasped in surprise, and honestly she had caught herself off guard too with her boldness, but she hadn't known how else to make him believe she didn't care about any of the things he was talking about. All she could do was exactly what she was doing, and as she twined her fingers in his dark hair, she mused that actions sometimes did speak much louder than words.

To her surprise, Inigo didn't respond to her kiss like she'd hoped he would. There was only the slightest reply of pressure of his lips moving against hers before he stopped, and frowning deeply, Lucina pulled back. Her voice was weak, shaky with her hesitation as she met his gaze and saw the troubled darkness stirring in them when she whispered, "A-Am I... misinterpreting something? You just told me you loved me. You weren't lying, were you?"

"N-No! Of course I wasn't lying! Who'd lie about something like that?!" Inigo flushed to his ears, and he shook his head quickly from side to side as he registered the hurt in her eyes from what she'd thought to be rejection. He sighed and jerked his chin in the direction of the leg he was now leaning fully off of as he explained sheepishly, "It's just... Well, I think if I kiss you like I want to, I'll fall flat on my face. I can't really stand very well."

"Oh gods, I completely forgot you were hurt!" Lucina felt the desire to smack herself for being so damn dense, and automatically she wrapped her arm around his side to help him take her place against the tree so he could get his weight off of the leg and help himself get seated while waiting for a healer to be sent back to them. He was surprisingly larger and heavier than her, and she wondered with embarrassment why she had never noticed his size before. She would probably collapse before she could get him back to camp if she was by herself, and he didn't really look that well either. She wasn't going to run the risk of having him pass out on the road, and she instructed with a hint of a blush, "Sit down and try and get comfortable. I have some vulneraries in my pouch along with some bandages, so I can treat it as best I can until someone comes for us."

Raising an eyebrow at the change in her tone, Inigo took her advice and slid himself carefully down into a seated position. He stretched his injured leg out gingerly, and as Lucina knelt down beside him with the intent of taking a look at his wound, Inigo reached forward and gently brushed her bangs back behind her ear. Her face reddened at his touch, and she turned to look at him but he only shook his head before saying quietly, "Don't mind me. I just wanted to see your face."

"Erm... O-Okay..." Blushing to the roots of her hair, Lucina fought to control the sudden jitters that had started up in her stomach. He'd just brushed her hair back, but the places where his fingers had brushed her skin felt unbearably warm. She could feel his stare on her almost like a caress, and she had to remind herself that his leg needed her utmost attention before she forgot what she was supposed to be doing.

Seeing that his pantleg was already soaked through with blood, Lucina knew there was no point in trying to roll it up to get a good look at his wound. Instead she pulled a dagger free from her belt and apologized quietly as she found the seam, "Sorry about your trousers, but it'll hurt more if I try to keep them intact. I'll try and cut along the seam so they can be fixed later though..."

"Not the worst way to have them removed." Inigo laughed, and to his delight her face turned even redder than before as she made a quick and surgical cut along the seams to open his pantleg from ankle to knee. She hissed with surprise as she saw the extent of the damage done to him, but without balking once went to work with the practised ease of a well-seasoned healer.

The axe that had cut his leg open had done a terrific job on him, cutting cleanly through his skin in a long line from his calf to ankle. His bone actually showed through in one place where he'd been hit the worst. He'd tried his best to stem the bloodflow with a tourniquet, but it hadn't done the job and he was a bit surprised he hadn't fainted from bloodloss already. If Lucina thought his actions foolish she didn't say so, but rather silently wiped away the blood with a kerchief before she started applying the stinging solution of medicine to his open wound.

Though he tried not to, Inigo couldn't suppress a curse as the medicine stung at his injury like vinegar. Even though it hurt he could feel it taking immediate affect, numbing the area so he wouldn't feel it too much when Lucina began the process of cleaning it out in case of infection. She was quick if nothing else, and he was glad for it when she finally reached for the roll of bandages she'd unearthed from her pack and began tying a tight swathe around his leg. It would hold until a healer could have a look at him and properly assess the damage, and as she drew back she said with a small hint of satisfaction, "There, that should do for now."

"All done?"

"Yes, at least until–" Lucina didn't get a chance to finish as Inigo leaned forward and seized her wrist, and with a powerful tug, she went sprawling off her knees and into his lap. She almost hit the leg she had just finished bandaging in her fall, but she didn't have time to think about that as Inigo's right hand closed around the back of her neck and his lips crashed down onto hers.

A small moan she couldn't stifle left her as Inigo expertly cradled her against his chest and kissed her passionately, and though some small part of her warned her this wasn't exactly good for him, she couldn't draw away. Instead her own arms snaked up to curl around his neck and pull him further down against her, and she parted her lips with a sigh as his tongue swept inside to tease and caress in a way she'd never experienced before. It set her entire body aflame, making a mockery of the heat she had experienced when he'd brushed aside her bangs a few short minutes earlier.

He pulled her up against him, leaning back against the broad trunk of the tree as her fingers tangled themselves in his hair as strange new courage emboldened her to reply to him. This time it was her tongue exploring his mouth, and a satisfied groan from the man in her arms told her she was doing well for her first kiss. Yet it didn't feel like it was enough, and she pushed herself closer into the arms now fully wound around her, seeking more as his groan sent deep trembles through her body.

His hand clutched and caressed the back of her neck through her hair, sending electricity down her spine and making her lose control of her posture. He seemed to know exactly where to touch her to make her forget what she was doing, and she found she didn't really mind as she slumped against his chest and surrendered to his passion. He kissed her like he would never get the chance to do it again, stealing quick breaths whenever their lips parted for a moment before crashing them back together with a desperate hunger she shared completely.

All too soon though he pulled away, breathing heavily as he slowly lessened his iron-tight grip on her body. She still was seated across his lap, but in the chaos of their tugging arms, she had nearly been pulled astride him. Her face reddened as she realized the position she had nearly been put in, though she had to remind herself that she hadn't exactly been complaining half a moment ago. Breathing deeply, she slowly loosened her own arms from around his neck as she murmured somewhat breathlessly, "That... definitely dispelled any worries I may have had about misunderstanding you."

Inigo laughed shortly before he leaned forwards to kiss her gently on the mouth, not allowing either of them to get too involved again lest they lost track of what they were doing, or worse, were seen. "Sorry. You have absolutely no idea how attractive you can be. It makes you pretty hard to resist..." A playful smile pulled at his mouth as she blushed and glanced down at herself from the inability to meet his eyes, and he stroked her cheek as he teased, "Which reminds me... You never really answered my confession properly. Usually when someone confesses their love for you, you tell them how you feel about them. I think we skipped a crucial step."

"A-Are you completely–" Lucina burst out with a mix of frustration and embarrassment, but Inigo's laughing eyes were impossible to resist and she shook her head, trying to hide her own giggles that would only make him tease her more. Blushing and smiling, Lucina asked him almost petulantly, "Are you really going to make me say it? Wasn't kissing you enough?"

"Nope. And you can ask anybody else, they'll tell you the same. How am I ever gonna know how you really feel about me unless you say it? It's true that I can learn more from your actions than your words sometimes, but words are still important." Inigo pointed out with a shameless smile, and before Lucina could think of a point to argue just because it was in her nature to, he stroked the shape of her cheek as he added slyly, "Unless you don't really love me."

"Of course I–" Lucina began hotly, and her eyes widened as she realized what she had just been about to say without even thinking it. She could see that Inigo was just as surprised as she was, and she raised a hand to her mouth as she repeated herself in a stunned whisper, "Of... course I... Ah, I see... That's why I hurt so much when I heard what you were saying... It was because I loved you. I just didn't know what it was until now..."

His smile softened, and Inigo kissed her cheek before turning her face gently back to his. His dark eyes were shining with emotion, and he brought her forward for another kiss before murmuring against her lips, "Yeah... It does hurt... but it's a sweet kind of pain. There's nothing like it. Can I ask you to stay with me, Lucina? To be with me, no matter what?"

"You don't need to ask. I love you, Inigo." Lucina whispered back, and she closed her eyes as she surrendered to the feeling that had brought her so much pain and yet still managed to fill her with a new and twisting joy. She loved this man more than she'd ever thought she could love a person in her life, and there was no escaping the sensation now that she knew what it was. She repeated quietly before he kissed her again, savouring the way the words tasted on her tongue and the sweet pain that filled her chest when she spoke them, "I love you."


Bweeheehee... XD At first I only paired Inigo and Lucina because I was running out of ideas on how to pair the kids, and I thought it'd be a fun one to put the super-serious daughter of Chrom with the hilarious skirt-chaser of a mercenary. (Actually, I paired Gerome and Cynthia for this exact reason, because of polar opposite personalities, and boy was that a hilarious surprise!) And I fell in love with all of the unspoken words in their support. Lucina never got a chance to really understand what drove Inigo's 'sunshine and rainbows', and nor did I, until I went through Inigo's parental supports. (If you haven't noticed, his dad is Lon'qu... I've never shipped Olivia with anybody else. XD) And I found myself wishing Lucina had a chance to hear him lay his heart bare for once so she could understand the guy she'd eventually confess to.

I ended up putting her through the ringer, which really wasn't my intention at first... but after I'd done Lon'qu and Inigo's support, I was shocked by how goddamn kind he'd been to Lucina when he had pretty much every right to go off on her like he did with his father. For a man in a lot more pain than he ever lets on... He's still driven by kindness first, and it makes me see just how much he's got to love this girl if he never once even entertained the thought of letting her know that no, he's really not an idiot and he gets how serious this war is too.

Of course, I still love the lightheartedness of their S support... at least until he ruins it and makes that really dumb comment about making all the girls happy. I got a wild laugh out of her warning him that she'll be the one chopping him to bloody bits if she even catches him so much as looking at another woman. Never mess with a woman who knows her way around a sword better than you do. XD

Which reminds me, Severa probably ties with Cherche and Lucina for threats against their husband's potential to cheat on them. Severa will pull their eyebrows off their pliers, Cherche will feed them to Minerva, and Lucina will pretty much slice and dice 'em. THESE WOMEN ARE AWESOME.

Though Tiki, Nah and Nowi are all dragons... and they will more than likely eat you if you are stupid enough to cheat on them... Tiki scares me most out of all three of them, mostly because she made that threat to Anna and everybody bought it... I wonder if Nah and Nowi ever threaten to eat anybody. I'd love to see that. XD

PS: I just realized I had Lucina playing nurse in two fics now... XD I'm going to say she just learned a little about healing from her Aunt Lissa and leave it at that. I mean, she was constantly in a war... It kinda makes sense that she'd have to learn a little about sewing up a wound if a healer wasn't close by... Excuses, excuses. (runs away laughing)

Mood: Intensely Entertained

Listening To: "Key of the Twilight" - .Hack/Sign OST

~ Sky