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Light Up the Night All Around Us

Chapter Text

Well, it was an attempt at a tent?

“Kratos said it was supposed to be this way…” Lloyd had put down the metal poles for their camping, hands still shaky from hammering them to the ground. But the structure of the tent was all lopsided and a bit defeated looking. The kind of work that Genis would snicker at and Raine to dock points from. Colette, however, clapped her hands with pride.

“You did it! You made us a tent!”

Lloyd still pouted at his work. “Eh, it’s barely enough to fit either of us in. It’s barely any bigger than Noishe! There’d be no space for him at all.”

Said Noishe seemed to be perfectly fine at not being cramped in confined spaces. The dog creature curled by a tree, nose buried in his bushy tail as he quickly fell asleep.

“He seems happy to stay out here,” Colette commented. “But it’s big enough for us both if we stay close, I think?”

Lloyd scratched his head, debating. He had only set up the tent because the night was cold, and he wanted to do something different! Colette understood that, and there was something very cozy about being huddled up in a tent together. She didn’t mind at all if it wasn’t the most professional. It was still Lloyd’s handiwork in the end.

A particular breeze made Lloyd shiver. Unlike Noishe, neither had fur to ward it off. “Okay, okay. I really don’t want to redo it anyway…”

Both of them kinda had to…crawl in there. The ceiling of the tent was low, Lloyd’s half crouching form was not enough to keep him from hitting his head at the top. It was only wide enough for both, but even that was pushing it. Still, Colette was able to roll out their blankets with ease. In the soft darkness of the tent, she smiled. “See? It’s still really comfortable. And it’s warm, too!”

She saw Lloyd eventually had to assent to that, until even he was smiling, too. “Yeah.. Yeah! I think I did pretty good here actually!” He fist pumped the air, succeeding in punching the cloth of the tent and nearly dragging it even further on its side. He sat back down quickly. “…Maybe if Kratos could have been clearer on it when he was teaching me.”

Colette nodded. “Yeah. I miss him, too.”

It didn’t take long of them to get settled for sleep. They had to improvise though, pushing their blankets together so that neither would be half out of the tent. The tent was well insulated despite its construction, enough for Lloyd to take off his jacket. He scratched at an itch near the collar of his undershirt, already yawning loudly.

“We should sleep soon though,” Colette helpfully reminded him. “Dirk told me to make sure you did!”

Lloyd had to choke in mid-yawn. “Seriously? He knows I can take care of myself…”

“Yeah! But he just cares, that’s all.”

“I know, I know.” Lloyd crawled into the layer of blankets that covered the floor of the tent. It was blanket city basically. Colette always made sure that they would sleep in as much comfort as they could. She followed him shortly, her dress gone but wearing a light vest that covered her well, until both were cuddled with each other.

Colette saw Lloyd’s blush when he got close. This was still very new to them. They had only kissed a few times since they started this new journey, but there were still a few physical hurdles to go. And the way Lloyd wrapped their blankets around each other so that he was cocooned with her reassured her that he wanted to keep going with this new relationship.

The wind blew strongly, making the tent shiver. Colette looked above her, but knew the place would not fall on them. “When we wake up, maybe we can go to Asgard for a break? We’ve already gathered a lot of Exspheres. I think it’d be-“

She was interrupted by snoring.

Turning, Lloyd’s face was at her shoulder, mouth half-parted as he slept. She giggled at the sight, and was tempted then to kiss at the corner of his lips. She saw him scrunch his forehead at the contact, moving around a little, but still stay sleeping.

She wished she could give him more kisses than that. But the hour was late, and poor Lloyd was tired. She curled up to his chest, hearing him breathe, and feeling the warmth of his body.

She wished she could go further than this.

Lloyd had been so careful since the beginning, only kissing her when she asked him, and careful to not linger on a stare. But she felt it. And she wanted it. Even though her and Lloyd could talk about anything, how could she bring this up? To say he could love her in however way he wanted?

He shifted a bit in his sleep, making her press close to him. At the most, they hadn’t even cuddled as much, or at least this close for bed. She wondered if the tent had been an excuse from him? But as she thought on that… she felt something.

Maybe it was because of the cold outside, contrasting with the warmth of their small tent. Or maybe her kiss had affected him more than she thought. Either way, the hardness that pressed against her thigh was very new.

Her eyes had gotten used to the darkness, so she could see very well the way it lifted up the front of his pants. Did this usually happen when he slept? Or was it really because of her?

Unconsciously, her hand reached out for it.

She stopped herself before she did, surprised at her own boldness. I shouldn’t do that while he’s sleeping! Then re-thought that as well. I shouldn’t touch him like that at all!

Still, she barely moved away. Her thigh was still lightly pressed against it. Lloyd shifted forward, and the hardness became harder to ignore. A soft sound broke through his gentle snoring, a stutter of his voice.

I should ask about doing this first anyway…

But Lloyd was still deep in sleep, and she didn’t want to wake him. Not like her, where she still felt wide awake, still hearing the strong wind outside. Lloyd shivered a bit; maybe from the weather, maybe from a dream. She thought it felt pretty warm in this tent, but maybe that wasn’t enough for Lloyd.

Maybe she could help.

The sensation of being hot or cold was something she had taken for granted and was now so glad for. Her hands went to rub at his arm, very gently. Lloyd made another sound, half of his face now in her hair. She giggled at his motions, and pecked another kiss, this time more on his cheek. Another scrunch of his forehead, another soft sound from him.

She still.. felt him.

There were other places that needed warming too.

Could it be any different than making one’s own self warm? (Not that she ever mentioned it to Lloyd. And maybe she should have?) Her hand pressed against his hardness, remaining still as she understood its shape. The flat of her palm pressed even more. It was very hard, staying in its shape against the force of her hand. Lloyd shifted again.

There were better ways to feel him.

She gave him one more kiss, this time gently on his lips. That first time, he had asked her if it would be okay to. And she had done all she could to not jump into his arms and say she wished he had done so sooner, quick and deep, and leave her breathless. But Colette had felt herself wanting to rush through every sensation ever since she reclaimed her body. If Lloyd could give her such an experience, she would take it gladly. She had always wanted him to.

Her kiss lingered over his mouth as she softly rubbed against the fabric of his pants. The shape of him stayed the same, but she could feel its warmth through his clothes. It wasn’t good to be cold, but it wasn’t good to overheat.

I should ask, I should ask, she kept saying to herself, all while her hands went to unbutton his pants.

The blankets covering them made her feel safe, made her feel that this was their secret. His erection stuck out through the air, bigger than she realized it to be, fascinated at the way it fit against her palm. Fingers curled around it, a thumb pressed against the tip. Soft as velvet, a wetness there that she was suddenly eager to taste. This was vastly different to anything she had known, but… she really liked holding it.

The soft rubbing she initiated became stroking. The textures of skin were different, depending on where her hand made contact. From soft and malleable, to smooth and firm. She pressed her body near him still, as she continued exploring his cock in guarded silence.

She heard Lloyd’s breath quicken in his sleep.

Maybe she could give him a good dream if she did this. Sometimes he woke up so tired and frazzled. The Exsphere journey had its own worries and troubles, even when he tried to hide it from her. But now Lloyd swallowed hard. She wanted to watch his face, like how his slightly parted lips opened a little wider as he took in a breath.

She kissed him again, this time with a little more firmness. Her tongue brushed against his bottom lip, and she felt his breath enter her mouth. His own voice broke slightly from the sensation.

“Wha… Co…Colette…”

She kept her strokes, giving him small kisses every once in a while. He was still sleeping. Maybe he was dreaming of her. Dreaming of kissing her? Or more than that? She wrapped her fingers more firmly around him, then quickened her pace.

Lloyd’s eyes were shut, but he breathed hard still. What else was he seeing, she wondered. What else was he feeling? Was it really just her hand?

She had always wanted to touch him like this.

Lloyd arched his back, still sleepy and still so very lost in it. His shirt was wrinkled, she noticed, and how some of it was lifted off his stomach. Still, in her curiousness, she let her free hand trail across his revealed skin, feeling the muscle built deep there, and his toned skin overall. He looked so nice this way. Could there be a way that he could… dress less when with her?

What a weird thing she had been thinking of, but still she stroked Lloyd’s cock, all while he continued to sleep and breathlessly call out for her.

In here, she felt like that Lloyd was her very own. One that she could touch and kiss when she wanted. The blankets shifted under them as Lloyd moved slightly in his sleep.

She laid another kiss on his mouth. His now messy hair, the shape of his lips. He just looked so good.

“Mm… what…” He breathed into her mouth, sending pleasant thrums through her. His eyes were half-open.

But Colette couldn’t find it in herself to stop.

She gripped him a little tighter, pressing her hips near his so that he could feel the fabric of her leggings. She was very warm herself, and there were moments she wished she could feel herself too. Or if he could. Sometimes his hands would stay in their hugs, over her back, or her waist, a small shift that told her he wanted to go more. But he was considerate, he was patient. Except Colette wasn’t. She wanted to say it was all okay for him to want her.

She wondered if he was actually awake. He looked at her, but didn’t really seem to notice her. He breathed through his mouth, hips moving to the rhythm of her touch. His head pressed back into the ground as a particular shudder went through him.

Something about him like this was so helpless. How could her own hand make him act this way? Some of the wetness that leaked out of him went onto her fingers, coating a side of his cock. She concentrated there and then Lloyd made this noise she had never heard, a crack in his voice that sounded so bare and needy, making her heart tighten so well in her chest.

“Lloyd?” she said reflexively. She didn’t mean to call out just yet, and she said it so softly, the touch of her hand on him louder in comparison.

His body shifted more to her, enough that his chest pressed against hers. It was enough to feel the force of his heartbeat. “More…” Another lost breath, hitching in his throat. She had never seen him like this at all. “Tighter.”

There were other things she wanted to do to him. Her free hand kept circling up his chest, playing with what she found, the textures she felt. But she did go tighter on him. He curled a fist into the floor, bringing his hips up and down. His neck was tense, and she kissed him there to help relieve some of it. That and… it was easier to hear him this way. How his voice traveled through her, and how his breath hit against her ear.

“Ah… ah fuck…” he whispered even more, and then suddenly he grabbed her arm, rolling her more onto him. She felt his strength through his body, how his hips moved to the friction, how his voice cracked again. His moan during his orgasm was so new and delicious to hear that she could barely take it. She gathered whatever of him that leaked out onto her hand, trying to keep it from staining their clothes. But his body kept moving, even after she knew it was over, slowing down as the seconds passed, yet his breathing still so harsh and fast.

The wind was loud outside, making the tent fabric flap. Still, it kept standing. Lloyd’s breath caught up, the feel of it in her neck.

She figured he must have been awake now.

Colette was too afraid to let him go, suddenly wondering at herself at how she did that to him. She saw his eyes start to gain recognition, even in the dark. A small line formed in his forehead, and she knew then that she messed up. Why would she do that to him when he wanted to take things slow? That’s how it should have been, even if…

“I…” she started, feeling disgusted with herself. “I’m sor-“

His kiss was deep and searching, and his tongue against hers made her moan soft and wet. She was rolled gently onto her back, careful enough that her hand never left his cock. It was like he was trying to keep her there.

He was still hard against her. It made her feel so warm.

His hands wandered to the front of her dress, unclasping the buttons more easily than she thought he would have known. Sometimes his eyes lingered on her. Did he imagine how he could…?

“I didn’t mean to take so long,” he said to her. Her breasts were bare, a little chill even in the tent. His tongue glided over a nipple, and the heat was suddenly so intense. “Colette…”

She shivered as he sucked and kissed her breasts, still feeling him, and wanting now so badly to touch herself. She tried to, shifting her hand, still wet with him, to slip through her leggings. And then she felt his own touch, how he followed her down there, how his fingers edged against hers, still wondering and slightly unsure, but he-

“L-Lloyd…” she called out to him again. Colette let him explore there as much as he wanted, the sound of his kisses on her making her stretch her body, the way he did not so long ago.

Chapter Text

Colette realized she needed some help.

The issue was, it wasn’t exactly an easy thing to ask help for. That and she was probably overthinking it anyway! It was what couples did all the time, right? Well, maybe not all. But couples like her and Lloyd, if they wanted to… if Lloyd even wanted to.

She sat still on her bed, dressed in nothing but her underwear, feeling so unsure and lost about everything.

The city they moved to was new and frightening. There were so many subway lines to remember, and getting used to the constant stream of people walking the streets compared to their little town. But her university was close by, and though Lloyd wasn’t going to school, he moved with her anyway, bringing his small savings along to help with the rent. Much of it had been acquired through carpentry and working at his dad’s crafts shop. Colette had enough from her family, but she never said a word of that to Lloyd, glad he could come, wanting him to come. Their apartment was small, maybe a little ragged with the walls, and the heater didn’t always work, and the windowpanes still needed replacing which Lloyd promised he would get to really soon… but she wouldn’t trade if it meant she got to stay nearer to Lloyd than she ever could before.

She sighed. Not like she was helping herself on that front at all.

Gripping the coverlet one last time, she finally stood up, ready to head for the door out of her bedroom and into the hallway. She slept here while Lloyd insisted on choosing the living room and making the second-hand couch his bed. Although it wasn’t like they hadn’t slept on one bed before. And they had done that! Just slept, or cuddled, or tried to watch videos on Colette’s tiny laptop without accidentally pushing it off her knees. But she felt selfish. That wasn’t all she wanted.

She turned towards a mirror set up by a study desk. She studied herself, all the contours of her body, and found every imaginable flaw there. She had a weird bruise on her upper arm that she couldn’t at all remember how it had come to be there. Her hair was a little frizzy because of the recent humidity, prompting both her and Lloyd to crank the AC to full max, conveniently forgetting about the electricity bill. Even during the heat of summer, her skin was still so pale from spending so much time indoors for her classes. And underneath were eyes were small bags from so much late-night studying. She had plopped makeup on, but it hadn’t done much. She was never good with makeup anyway.

The only thing she could see was good about herself was the underwear she wore; both bra and panties decorated with small frills and of a light mix of sky-blue and white patterns. Except… her bra only accentuated how little she really had to show. She wrapped an arm around her chest, with her other laying across her stomach. She had been gaining weight, hadn’t she? She shook her head. She didn’t want to let her thoughts run like this! She just wanted to -

Sigh. Colette knew she had been gone for a while. Hopefully Lloyd was too busy with his game to notice…

The hour was a bit late, usually for her to sleep, and Lloyd probably assumed that was what she did. Once she finally opened the door, she heard the sounds of the television, but kept her eyes rapt on the wine-colored carpet that covered the length of the narrow hallway. To the very front was the door to her apartment, while to the side was the entrance that led into the living room.

She heard Lloyd make little groans of defeat as tinny music played. Oh, he was busy right now, wasn’t he? She should just abandon this and go to sleep! She had to arrive early tomorrow at the dog shelter anyway. Why did she think this was a good idea? Especially tonight?

“Genis, this is impossible!” Lloyd cried.

“Lloyd. Its blocks. I’m sorry blocks are too advanced for you.”

Colette froze. Oh, was Genis here? But wasn’t he still back in Iselia? She instantly wrapped her arms around herself, feeling so exposed. Wait, but his voice had sounded different. It took Colette a moment more to realize her old friend was on speaker, the phone most likely set on the couch. They must have been playing together. A shooter game, maybe? Those looked very difficult…

“Seriously! How are you doing all that so quickly? I can’t get rid of my rows that fast!”

“It’s just tetris! An actual little kid’s game, come on.”

Oh! She liked that one! She and Genis used to play that all the time!

Although she couldn’t really think on that for long. She was still out here, in the hallway, just barely dressed. She looked to her shoulder, suddenly noticing one of her bra straps was slightly torn. When did that happen…?

The signs were clear. Clearly, she was not meant to do this. To try and… seduce Lloyd. Just the thought of it made her flush red with embarrassment and her neck feel hot. This was the wrong to go about it, wasn’t it?

Bare feet walked across the carpet with trepidation. A soft swish of her footfalls as she leaned against a wall, hands brushing against her sides. Lloyd was busy, and talking with Genis. This was a bad time. A very bad time.

But… she had already come this far! And, even though she felt she still needed help with this, the truth was she had asked someone just the other day. One of her friends. Not Genis, as that would only make her feel so ashamed. Not Raine, even though she was an adult, as she had a feeling her old schoolteacher would just say something a bit too clinical instead of helping her with romance… She had tried to call Sheena, but the older girl hadn’t answered, most likely busy with family. So… she had gone to her very last phone contact on her list.

“Just get naked!” Zelos’ voice had rung so loud over her phone that she feared that she had somehow put it on speaker. But no. Zelos was just very excited. “Believe me. Guys love that. Girls too, actually. But yeah, just show your stuff and he’ll be all over you! Even Lloyd ain’t that clueless.”

“Just… like that?” she had questioned, sitting on the floor in a corner, knees bent near her face. The act of making herself as small as possible felt like it would make their conversation quieter too. But Zelos kept breaking the illusion by being as loud as ever. “Shouldn’t I maybe… take things slow?”

“You know, angel, usually I would agree. Romance is all about the slow dance and everlasting patience. Except Lloyd is as thick-headed as a rock. You’re gonna need to go in there, guns blazing. And by guns, I mean your boobs.”

“Ah! But…!”

“And your butt, too! Nice catch, Colette!”

Her heart had been beating so fast. She had only known Zelos since the start of her school year, along with Sheena, but had become fast friends with her and Lloyd. And he had dated so much in the past, so, he must know what he was talking about, right?

“Besides, you’ve been officially dating for like months by now, haven’t ya? It’s about time already! And to make sure you’re following my advice, I’m asking Lloyd on the details by the end of the week! So go get lucky, angel!”

Well, if that was the case, that meant she had no choice but to try this, right? Fists clenched, she steeled herself to go out there into the living room, determined to finally make Lloyd see her for all she was worth. And… and maybe he would like it! You can do it, Colette! she told herself. I just need to get out there! Right now! A pause. Right… right now!

She forgot then about Lloyd’s game, about Genis on speaker, about the fact that she was shivering. She gathered up as much confidence as she could, and headed for Lloyd.

…But she hadn’t realized how part of her foot had gotten caught underneath the carpet until it was too late. It had always been kinda loose, and it was not the first time she had tripped over it. So it was all very familiar, when she suddenly went tumbling to the floor, instantly reaching for the wall and knocking aside a little table and the dish where she and Lloyd would set down their keys. She, along with some objects, plopped to the ground, in full view of Lloyd who had stood up in reflex on hearing her fall. But also remained still once he saw her in the light of a nearby lamp.

“C… Colette…?”

“Hey.” Genis’ voice broke through the phone. “What happened? You just stopped moving your pieces!”

Ow. She had bashed her knee into the floor, so it hurt slightly. She barely lifted her head up before she heard Lloyd quietly say, “Sorry, gotta go,” fumbling with his phone as he did so, then go to Colette. “Are you okay? How come you’re…”

She was helped to her feet, Lloyd holding both her hands gently. His right hand still held the game controller, which he then seemed to realize and proceeded to set down on a small coffee table before holding her hand again. She could see that Lloyd was trying very hard to keep his eyes on her face.

Oh, this isn’t how she wanted it to go…

“I’m sorry,” she said, quickly leaving his hands and stepping back. She hugged her chest, feeling so stupid. “I… um… I didn’t mean… I’ll just go!”

“Colette, wait!” He reached for her shoulders, holding them tight. They felt a little damp. It must have been from playing his game, and she had just interrupted that… “I mean, it’s fine! And… um, I’m not complaining!” A grin. She noticed that his cheeks were red, too. Probably just embarrassed for her.

“I just… I wanted to do something different. And… something nice. Because, I really love you, Lloyd, and I wanted to show that I…” She hugged herself tighter. “But I’m just making it all weird instead.”

Lloyd didn’t say anything. Instead, his hands trailed from her shoulders to her folded arms, slowly extricating themselves from each other. Her chest was revealed once more, along with the bra that now seemed lopsided and wrinkled. Oh no. But Lloyd held her arms, gently. She didn’t really want to step away from that.

He embraced her suddenly, tightly. A small breath left her throat as she felt the softness of his shirt brush against her bare stomach. “You… must be pretty cold like that, huh?”

A small giggle. She leaned into his hair, her own hands finally reaching up to his back to curl her fingers into the fabric. “A little… the air conditioner is on high still, I think…”

His palms rushed over her skin, the friction feeling both nice and heated. Fingers made contact with the bra straps. She hoped he hadn’t noticed how damaged they looked. But he was looking down at her, face close, loosening their hug so he could see her. She was so close that she could see herself in his eyes. It wasn’t like the mirror, where everything that she could see was wrong needed to be covered up. She couldn’t explain it.

“You look really good, Colette,” he told her, still holding on. “You… you always do.”

She couldn’t even think that maybe that wasn’t right. That maybe she fooled him into thinking that, or lied to him somehow or something. The truthfulness of what he was saying struck hard at her chest, and she felt the threat of tears coming down. But he had kissed her before that, hands traveling across the open plain of her back, the rush of it almost too much.

“I meant… to do more than…” she tried to say, but Lloyd was all over her. He planted his mouth over her neck, and felt the warmth of his tongue. His hands went back to her bra, slowly, carefully, pulling the straps down. His movements held an excitement that she had only vaguely known. From nights seated together at the couch, watching late movies and curled by the other. She would lay her head against his chest, feel his fingers rap against her arm, both content but also… something else. Even before they had ever moved here, counting the stars from the porch of her house – something that she missed now living in the city – their hands close, and the drifting fireflies making the expanse of the surrounding woods more darker and softer than before.

He seemed to realize what he was doing then, hands stopping their exploration, though still on her. They were warm, they made the chill of their apartment easier to bear. “I, uh… got a little carried away.” He smiled, but she noted the change in his voice. Softer. It reached underneath her skin and moved through her bones in the most pleasant way. “It’s just, I usually only imagine this kind of thing…”

Somehow, his sudden nervousness made Colette brave. Her hands reached behind his head, threading through his hair. “Hm, you don’t have to imagine now,” she said, then gently brought him forward, toward her bare chest. Goosebumps raised over her skin. It must have been from the cold.

His mouth was still so warm, and though she gasped at the contact, she only arched her back, falling deeper into him. His hands resumed their wanderlust over her – over the hem of her underwear in particular. She never wanted his tongue to stop tracing over her, but she wondered if maybe it would be easier somewhere else…

Lloyd kissed her cheek, his hands over her chest, taking the place of where his lips were, so that she could still stay warm. “Your legs are shaking a little… Did you wanna sit?”

She nodded, her throat full of emotion and started to lead him back to her room. “I’ll try not to trip again,” she said with a smile. He had gone into her room countless times, but the image of him walking through her doorway, eyes full of admiration for her body and more, made her feel weak in such an addictive way. The lamps were dim here, casting shadows over the curve of her hips that Lloyd was already tracing with his fingers.

“You dork,” he told her, breathless, and kissed her cheek, her neck, her lips all in succession. He didn’t stop once they reached her bed, once she felt all of him and tried to keep him warm in return. Hands over a back, between thighs, and a soft mouth to make the other moan. It was easier than she had thought, as if both of them had been waiting for a signal before taking this next step. She always thought she made more mistakes than good choices, but this time, she knew she had made the best choice she could ever hope for.

Chapter Text

With the clock striking closer to the hour, Colette found it harder and harder to stem her nervousness.

He’s been gone a while… But she shook her head, trying to busy herself with her assignment that she had gotten over the winter break. She had already gone more than halfway through it though, and the rest seemed too mindless to concentrate on. There really was not much else to do but wait.. She wished they had gotten Noishe for the day, so that at least she wouldn’t feel completely alone.

Maybe I should call… no, he’ll be too busy to answer… or maybe something happened. The worries only continued to build. She had even tried watching tv, though its volume was low enough to just be background noise. The brightness of the electric lights, along with panning shots of so many people, kept being there at her edge of vision, reminding her of the current day, or night actually. I should have just gone with him… or went myself. What if he misses it?

At the front, the doorknob jiggled suddenly, accompanied by a familiar voice outside that sounded like he was having trouble. Colette instantly got to her feet, her every nerve sparking with excitement as she rushed to open the door.

“Oh! Thanks!” Lloyd was grinning wide – in his arms he carried grocery bags, some of them holding maybe a wine bottle or two, along with snacks. Were there decorations there too? She saw some colorful things, like a few party hats, even though it was only going to be the two of them. But she didn’t stare long at that, because Lloyd was wearing a funny decoration himself.

“I just got a couple of things! Like those cool party poppers, and the store was selling really cheap candy… oh, what is it?”

Colette couldn’t stop her giggles. Half of Lloyd’s face was obscured by the 2019 plastic glasses he wore, their entire surface covered in red glitter that was definitely going to get everywhere in the apartment, even more than Noishe’s fur. “Did you get one of those for me?” she asked, pointing at it.

“Of course I did!” He finally unhooked the bags from his arms and took one such glasses from one of them, handing it over to Colette. “I got one in blue, if that’s okay.”

She nodded, already fitting it on her face. It was wide enough for her to see well for the most part, though her side vision was now a bit obscured. Lloyd was grinning at her with his own party glasses, hands on his hips. She loved it when they matched, even on such silly things.

“Thanks, Lloyd! Though, you didn’t need to get these. We were only missing the wine..”

“I know! But these looked neat!” He took out another party item from the bag, a little noisemaker that was wrapped in bright green foil. It looked like a tiny flute almost. He blew on it, and the end of it unfurled, tapping Colette on the nose. “Oh, sorry.”

“That tickled!” She couldn’t help but laugh more, knowing he also bought plenty of these. “You’re really excited for New Years, aren’t you?” She now saw why he took a while – the stores would be putting out every colorful thing they could display for last-minute sales and Lloyd would have been drawn to nearly every one of them.

He smiled a little shyly. “Yeah, just I’ve never had it here in the city. There’s supposed to be a bunch if fireworks, right? I only ever saw it on tv.” That smile widened, and even his eyes must have twinkled a little at the anticipation of it, helped out by those bright glasses. “My dad sometimes set off fireworks but he always had to be careful so there was never a lot… also Noishe got too scared of them anyway, so we don’t do it too much.”

“Oh, right.. I wish he could be here though.” Noishe was staying at Dirk’s home back out in the calmer countryside. She had thought about going there for celebrating New Year’s, but Lloyd had mentioned before about the city. She had seen it each time, so it wasn’t anything too new for her. Maybe that was what Lloyd felt about his home, too.

“He’d be hiding under the bed for hours if he heard any fireworks,” Lloyd explained. “But we can get him tomorrow!”

Colette instantly grew excited. However, while still staring at Lloyd’s silly headwear, she then remembered. “Oh, we only have like 10 minutes left! You took a while, I was.. getting worried.”

“Wh- It’s that soon?!” Lloyd instantly reached for the wine bottle, along with multiple party poppers and noisemakers in hand. “Um, maybe we can drink after… Do you think they’d start early?”

Colette was already putting on her jacket, clasping the silver buttons, smiling softly at the red material of the clothing. She saw the same with what Lloyd wore now too, which would be helpfully bright against the dark of outside. “Maybe people with their personal fireworks… but the big ones always start at 12!” She reached for his hand, taking a few of the party favors for herself. “So we should hurry.”

“Yeah, alright! Let me just, uh-” He shoved the wine and other quick foods across the kitchen counter, nearly uptipping the bottle but saving it at the last second. But he grasped her hand back, already going out the door with her. “Okay! Wanna race again?”

“N-not if you’re gonna cheat!” she said back, grinning. They just rushed off together to the stairwell instead. The night would be cold, but the skies would be bright. Colette had never felt as excited for this as before… but Lloyd always made everything more exciting.

Luckily no one was on the rooftop as she had been afraid of. It really did feel like a special place, even on this day. By the time they reached it, she could already hear the soft whistle of a firework arching through the air, ready to ignite. An early one, but not the main event yet.

Lloyd swiveled his head towards the sound, looking up wide-eyed as one firework exploded, showering lights through the air. “Whoa… is that it?”

“It’s gonna start soon!” Colette reassured. The night was still cold, and she bunched her jacket tighter to herself. The sleeves still went over her wrists, but she liked it that way. She really did. Adjusting her party glasses, she took one noisemaker, and blew it behind Lloyd’s head.

“Hey!” Lloyd jumped, grinning as he turned around. He blew his own into her face. “Bet I can do it longer!” And he proceeded to do just that, the sound so harsh but making Colette nearly double over in laughter. He just looked so silly, and it made her want to do what she promised herself before it was time…

Then finally, the real fireworks started.

Lloyd noticed, and turned back towards the skies, the noisemaker still in his mouth but silent. Some fireworks did the usual spreading out of lights, while others formed pictures – of hearts, of stars, and even of words! ‘Happy New Year’ was lit up against the dark, like briefly formed stars, before falling away, trails of smoke following after them.

“Wow!” he said aloud, dropping the noisemaker from his lips and catching it in time with a fumble. “There’s way many than I thought.”

Colette was watching too, but her hands fidgeted with themselves a little. It was midnight right now, and she wanted to help make it count before the seconds ticked by too fast. It was just hard to make Lloyd turn away, he looked so happy…

Still, maybe this would make him happy, too. “Lloyd?”

She was surprised he could hear her through the constant booms and crackles of the fireworks. She had taken off the party glasses, and then reached out to take his own from his face. It looked so cute on him, but it would only get in the way.

“What’s up? You feeling okay?” he asked her, but then she leaned in quickly to kiss him. Lloyd’s lips felt chilled from his time outside, but still soft, drawing her even closer.

I always wanted to share this moment with someone, she thought, hands gripping his shoulders tight.

She only pulled back once she felt it was enough – he probably wanted to go back to looking at the fireworks. “H-happy new year, Lloyd,” she whispered, eyes lowered. “It’s.. been a really a good year, meeting you and…living together and everything. I want.. more of that for next year, too. I…” she paused, suddenly feeling shy. “Sorry, you should go back to watching! There’s still a bunch more.”

But Lloyd was moving forward, kissing her more deeply than she had. She opened her mouth at that, hands reaching up to thread her fingers through his hair. His tongue rushed through her, and she felt him press their bodies even closer.

She still heard the fireworks, could see their lights through her shut eyes as she kept kissing him, her face feeling so hot from his closeness.

The kiss lasted so long that once they finally moved apart, the night wind felt biting without his mouth to cover her in warmth.

“Colette,” he whispered, lips still so, so close. “I love you.. This has been the best year for me.” He kissed her again, his breath quickening against her lips. “I want you for every year.” His kisses grew desperate, moving from her lips to her chin before halting. “Ah, sorry… got carried away.” She felt his grin at her ear.

His hands moved to wander across her sides. They hadn’t even drunk the wine yet, and already she felt Lloyd wanting her so much. It made her feel so comforted, not alone in her feelings.

“It’s okay… we can.. keep going.” She wanted to celebrate with him the best way she could. “If that’s okay..”

Another kiss, and she was lost with him.

Colette still wondered sometimes if she went through things too fast.

Her room was dark, only punctuated by the brief flashes of the fireworks, their light still making it through even her shuttered curtains. “Are you sure you don’t want…?” she started to ask, then stopped, a small nervousness going through her.

Lloyd’s hands were traveling up her chest, squeezing her gently there, his kisses dressing around the necklace she still wore, the necklace he made for her. “Hm? What is it?” he asked her, head raised.

His cheeks were a bit flushed – from the cold, and from the wine he had bought for them. They had stayed on the rooftop for only a little while longer before feeling the need to go back. And she had wanted to drink, to really celebrate the New Year right! But not even after one full glass did Lloyd had her arms around her, whispering needy things to her.

“It’s still going outside. If you wanted to see that instead..”

Lloyd’s eyes shifted quickly to the windows, then back to her. “I can still hear them,” he said. “That’s good enough for me.” He moved forward, his mouth hovering just over her own. “But… this is what I want now. I always keep wanting it too much though..”

She shook her head, not meaning to mess this up. “No, I want it too. I want you, Lloyd.” Her arms encircled his neck, bringing him near. She’d never been able to kiss so freely with anyone like this, never loved anyone so intensely as she did with him – and having him reflect it back just as much. She moved her legs apart, and his length already shifted in her, so easily, so deeply.

“You always feel so good,” he was whispering, his soft panting slowly devolving to moans as he found the rhythm again. It was a beat that they discovered together, one that fell into place ever since their first night. Another kiss that took her breath away, his tongue sliding across her lips. “Just want…”

And maybe it should be a little scary, how easily they found each other like this, how him touching her made her want to give nearly everything of herself right away. But Lloyd handled her so well, his hands always so gentle and knowing. The same hands that made her necklace, that she couldn’t bear to ever take off, its weight letting her know that Lloyd would always be with her.

“Go.. as fast as you want…” Her body arched, the sheets beneath her tangling up with their constant movements. “Do anything.. you want..” Only she could say that to him without the old fear freezing her up.

Lloyd’s mouth traveled back to her chest, sometimes his lips hitting the necklace as he continued to move inside her. “You’re too good, Colette,” he said before taking a breast in his mouth. She gasped, trusting him to do anything to her at all. “But.. want you happy..”

Colette had to take a moment, her hips pressing against his to feel even deeper. The fireworks were still going, still loud enough to rattle the windows a little, lighting up her room. She gripped Lloyd’s back as he continued to love her chest. “I’m happy, I’m so happy-” and she was already coming, even before Lloyd could go harder in her. She saw through half-lidded eyes how Lloyd raised his head to watch, as if in wonder, as if this was the first of everything again.

He was shaking a little too, but his strokes were slow, going as she continued to come. Her nerves were on fire in the most pleasant way, feeling how wet she still was with Lloyd in her. “I’m happy too..” he was saying, lips pressed against her ear. “I… want it to always be like this.. Colette…”

It was the tell-tale way of when his hips would move just a bit more, when his words fell from him in jumbles, that she knew he would come. So she was always prepared for it, accepting it all as she had done every time. His groans echoed around her room, his sound so unchained by anything. “I love you,” she whispered, feeling his thrusts start to lessen.

It was then the fireworks finally ended outside.

She kissed his forehead, hoping that maybe she hadn’t robbed him of something he wanted to see. Even with his reassurances, she worried. “Lloyd?” she called out to him, when he continued to lay on her chest, trying to recover.

He looked up at her, grinning. “That’s the best way to start a new year, huh?”

Something about the way he said that made her laugh. “Y-yeah!” She hugged him tight. She really had only meant to kiss him tonight… but she couldn’t deny that she loved how it turned out too.

“Maybe… this can be like a New Year’s tradition for us?” she said off-handedly. “Or, uh, is that too weird?”

In response, Lloyd kissed her again, still unable to stop smiling.

She had a feeling he liked that idea very much.

Chapter Text

Lloyd was different on their last night together.

They had nearly been rejected from another inn, the innkeeper being so kind and apologetic. He hadn’t wanted any trouble, he said, but everyone was scared of the new world that had appeared, and the strange decree that all Exspheres needed to be returned. Monsters still appeared on the roads outside, and the weather went through all four seasons in just under a few weeks. And didn’t they have Exspheres of their own? He wanted no trouble at all.

Colette was unsure how she had convinced the innkeeper to let them stay. Maybe her practiced bright smiles, or her pleasant tones, had helped somewhat. To her side, she watched Lloyd underneath lowered eyelashes, seeing him so quiet, so tired, his shoulders pulled down as if he carried some unknown weight. But she couldn’t ask him about it there.

Colette knew she could be incredibly lucky at times – her standing alive right there at that moment proved it. By now, her soul should have been shackled, her memories buried deep, but here she was, in the middle of a room, exchanging soft words with another. When the innkeeper finally handed over a room key, she gave it to Lloyd. “Do you wanna put our things away?” And maybe rest?

Lloyd must have been exhausted. He hadn’t responded at first, blinking at the key in her hand. “Oh. Uh, yeah! Sorry.” His smile was brief, a muted pain in his eyes. Her fingers brushed against his, but he was already moving towards the stairs.

For the past few days, Lloyd had barely said a word. There would be long stretches of silence between them, his gaze always fixated on something ahead. Colette would try to prompt something from him, but only get a few noncommittal answers here and there. Lloyd, who had always told Colette everything, suddenly hid something from her.

The journey had been long, over a year at most, but she was able to whether the aches with him. She knew that if the inn had turned them away, they could still sleep under a dark sky.

But Lloyd had looked so tired. Maybe a bed was what he needed.

“Thank you!” she said to the innkeeper, waving politely, as she finished paying him and finally headed for their room. The floorboards creaked as she walked, the hallways decorated with potted flowers, of lilacs, roses, and lilies. It still reminded her of the outside, but with the added protection of walls. She walked quickly down the hallway, grateful to find their designated door unlocked. Sometimes she had a terrible habit of locking it automatically, and Lloyd would need to knock to be let in. One reason she thought it was best he went to their room first…

Once Colette opened the door, arms took her before she could think to say a word.

The room was dark, but even in the darkness, she recognized Lloyd’s familiar red jacket. The memory of the scent of flowers were replaced with Lloyd’s, also familiar, also comforting. She breathed him in, hands instinctively reaching to hug him back.


She couldn’t see his face. He buried himself within the crook of her neck, his breathing even, but his hands slightly trembling. They gripped the back of her overcoat. She could hear the cloth crinkling between his fingers.

“I love you,” he whispered to her.

It could simply have been her own thoughts, becoming so lucid at the nearness of him, at how densely he surrounded her. It could be the darkness giving rise to small imaginings, the feel of his warm breath on her neck.

She couldn’t say anything at first. Her voice was gone, her head began to sway.

But he held her up. She gripped him back tighter. She felt the steady rising of his chest move against hers.

The hands that held her shook a little more. “Colette.”

Lloyd was always so gentle, lifting her easily from tumbles and scrapes. But now they gripped her desperately. The voice that came out of his throat held something else she rarely heard – desperate and a little wild.

“I…” She tried to speak again, but her voice trailed off in the presence of Lloyd’s despair.

She heard him tell the words she had always wanted to hear. But then, why was he hurting so?

His breath moved from his neck to her ear. She shivered. “Colette…” he said again, finally moving back to see her.

His kiss was hard and bruising, but she was grateful for such sensations, for harshness and pain. She felt through his hands how much he tried to control himself. In his kiss was that same despair she couldn’t understand, but she pushed against him, moved with him. Her lips were wet from him, her tongue reaching out, answering his need.

She let out a sound, tight in her throat, already so out of breath. Lloyd would not let go of her. She didn’t want him to.

It was either the darkness or her own fragmented memory, but soon she found themselves in the bed, his body over her, the powerful way he gripped her feeling so raw and barely restrained. His jacket was already unbuttoned, his hands moving up her dress. She arched into his touch, her sounds never stopping.

Hands that were once so gentle, roamed her skin feverishly, fingers making indents in her skin. Maybe once before, such an experience would frighten her.

But in Lloyd’s voice, she heard something broken.

“Colette…” he whispered again, unzipping her dress. He said little else, panting into her chest, until she felt his kiss that was so strong against her skin.

“It… ah…” She gasped, her head feeling so numb, floating in the dark. The harsh sounds of his mouth on her, the patterns that his tongue engraved on her. She bit her lip. “Lloyd…”

Lloyd, tell me what’s wrong.

Even as her body moved with his hands, hearing his belts fall to the floor, along with the soft rustle of her underwear as he pulled it past her knees, there was someplace out of reach. Something she didn’t really understand.

But would this help things?

She was rooted in place, but she’d never want to be anywhere else. His mouth took her where he could, eyes closed, hands gripping her waist tight, as if she would disappear.

“Ah… Lloyd… Are you…?”

He moved from her chest to take her mouth again, muffling her words. Hard muscle pressed against her skin. She threaded her fingers in his hair, dizzy and losing breath. He took everything as he kissed her, rough and desperate. She had never felt him be this desperate before, except for when he thought…

Are you afraid you’ll lose me? I promised I would stay by your side…

It was too much to say. She was selfish and wanted his kisses, the sensation of his breath mingling with her own, the sight of his face so near hers in the dark, his hair falling across his eyes. She felt his fingers trace down her stomach, slipping between her thighs before she could comprehend it.

“Ah! Lloyd, Lloyd…”

In that darkness, she saw the light in his eyes, always staying close as edged inside her as much as he could. He didn’t pause, or stall, or anything. He kept going, and still, and still, he looked like he was in pain.

“Does it feel good?” he asked her, still going, watching Colette writhe under him. The feel of his naked chest against hers, his other hand still gripping her waist tight.

“Y-yes.. but…” Please tell me what’s wrong.

You always said we shouldn’t hide things from each other.

Did he know what she wanted to ask? Another rough kiss, their teeth hitting occasionally, but still continuing. Her vision was fading. Those same fingers that would hold her hand tight, that would cup her face so gently on those nights when she thought he would kiss her, but then would only say goodnight… they left from their place inside, but still he wouldn’t leave her. She was filled again, and the suddenness, the rush of skin, the long slow gasp that Lloyd let free from his throat-

Colette embraced him tight, losing herself in skin and sweat. The pain was always welcome. It reminded her that she was still alive. She wasn’t stuck in a long dream, locked inside a sphere that was slowly burying further inside her body until she was consumed whole.

I’m here… but you seem to think…

Lloyd moved through her until she was completely engulfed in the feeling. His hips hit against hers, the rhythm changing, his own words slipping. Always her name, and then something else. Part of her pain was in not understanding his own, but she would take everything gladly if this helped. Besides, she was selfish – taking everything he would give was what she had always wanted.

She couldn’t remember when she fell asleep. But the dull ache between her thighs woke her up, warm and tingling. She felt cocooned in something so protective, close to losing consciousness again.

Lloyd was holding her as he cried softly.

She was stunned once more, her voice gone again. She felt his hot tears against her skin, him still half in her, hands clutching her shoulders.

But different. Much softer, gentler. He pressed his forehead against her own.

“I’m sorry,” he told her, then buried his face in her neck again.

Colette hugged him back, her legs moving to keep him enclosed within her. “It’s okay,” she said, wishing her voice didn’t sound so breathless when she finally got it back. Was that why he was worried? “I’m not hurt.”

He wouldn’t lift his head away. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”

Colette held him close, as he had done with her. She kissed the space just beneath his hair. “You should… tell me… because I love… too…”

She couldn’t stay awake, and maybe that was the problem. If she had stayed awake, if she had listened more to him… but the darkness of the inn room was so comfortable, and his hands on her had never felt any safer than now. She let her fingers stroke his hair, wanting to brush away whatever fears he had, as easily as brushing lint off her dress.

But she couldn’t stay awake, she could only breathe softly, she could only leave him a kiss as he hid away his tears in her neck, echoing so many, many nights ago, underneath an array of stars that she had been in the middle of counting.

She had been selfish, the happiness of being together with him like this slowly lulling her to sleep.

The letter she found the next morning let her know how little she understood.

Lloyd was not good at masking his pain, his worries, his fears. But Colette was experienced in it. It was why she could stand on his balcony and lie to his face about when she would leave. Only in the quietness of her room did she allow herself to cry, careful to not let any tears hit the parchment as she wrote.

She noted Lloyd’s letter was dry. He had already spent all his tears with her last night.

The inn room was empty. His own pack was gone, leaving her alone with her things. She knew that if she left to ask that kind innkeeper, he would tell her that Lloyd had left earlier that morning, or maybe even during the night.

But for now, he was gone and she was alone.

Colette felt herself start to cry, only now after everything. Unlike her, Lloyd had always been brave enough to show her his tears, hadn’t he? She wished she could do the same.

If she found him, she could do the same.