Tch, what can I say about this one? I let myself get bullied into hooking up an original character with a game character, breaking my own cardinal rule! Tragic! Well, I like it anyway. It's also post-Timeline and post two sequels that never got completely written. So just smile and nod at the inconsistencies.

Flurry and Zero

It was in the haze of early afternoon that Flurry stumbled from the computer lab, hand pressed to her forehead as if she had an unusually severe strain of headache. As things stood, she did. Turi's constant heckling about her nonexistent love life was finally beginning to wear on the independent Reploid's resources. She leaned against the wall for support as she made her way up the stairs to the living room, eyes heavy-lidded and weary. I swear, she said to herself, rounding the corner to the living room and finding no one there, if she ever brings it up again, I'll rip her tail off and strangle her with it.

She paused, looking around the living room with a vaguely dissatisfied air. Something was missing. Oh, of course. The viewscreen was off, because X and Turi had skipped their evening movie to help Scava in the lab, and Zero wasn't present, playing -- and losing -- on his GameBoy. Fine by me ... he's the last person I want to see.

A low sigh escaped her, and she wandered toward the front door, bored. She couldn't visit the sims; Turbulence and Aurora were probably in there. Oh yes, everybody's the happy, lovey-dovey couple. How ironic. Grumbling to herself, she stomped out the front door and slammed it behind her, sitting down on the steps with a clank of her armor. She sighed again, picking up a nearby twig and pushing it through the dirt.

She was so absorbed in her boredom, she didn't hear the door open and close behind her with a half-hearted slam. Only when he had sat down beside her and tugged his helmet off, setting it next to him on the step, did she realize he was there.

"You hiding, too?" she asked, refusing to take her eyes from the dirt.

"Yeah," Zero answered her, leaning back slightly. "They were taking a break from the lab work, and I split before she could find me."

"You picked a bad place to hide," she told him glumly. "This is exactly where she'd want you to be."

He didn't answer her for a long moment, and she regretfully turned her gaze from the dirt, which was etched beyond retrieval, to look at his face. His gaze, however, was at some fixed point beyond them both, to her deep and unwarranted relief. She looked away again and was about to stand up and relieve both her tension and his by leaving, when he finally spoke up.

"You ever think about it?"

She looked at him again, a feeling close to dread building in the pit of her stomach. "About what?" she asked numbly, willing him to be talking about something else.

The look he directed her dispelled all hope of that. You know what I mean, said his eyes.

"No," she lied comfortably, resolving to settle her gaze elsewhere for the duration of the conversation.

"When we decided that, then," he continued, ignoring her, "What if we were wrong?"

"We weren't," she told him shortly.

"How do you know, Flurry?" he asked, voice growing soft. There was a note of tenderness in it that frightened her, and she jerked her hand away as he reached for it. "How do we know the reality we chose was the right one?"

"We made it the right one!" she snapped. "The choice determined the reality. Remember?" Her voice faltered. "We --"

"We sacrificed our possibility to save a friend," he finished for her, and she glared at him.

"Damn you!" she snapped, jumping to her feet. "She's really been getting to you, hasn't she?" her anger faded to dry sarcasm. "We made a deal, Zero."

He looked up at her -- a rare circumstance -- and grinned. Funny, she hadn't realized how incredibly charming that grin was. She'd spent so much time being irritated with it. "Yeah, we did," he said, his voice startling her from her reverie.

"Then --"

"A deal," he murmured, "doesn't change feelings."

She swore at him again, but he didn't seem the least bit perturbed by it, and she couldn't bring herself to stalk off and leave him there. He was expecting her to. She could tell: the barely lidded tilt of his eyes, the amused quirk of his mouth. Are you gonna run off again? asked his expression.

She folded her arms and sat down sharply, mouth set in a furious sulk. No. He didn't say anything to her, waiting, and she put up her hands to make a place for her face to go, so she wouldn't have to look at him. Her resistance was already weak enough.

"Flurry ..."

"No." The sound of her voice was muffled by her hands.

"Flurry, look at me."

"I said no."

"Are you afraid to?" His tone took on the taunt of a dare, and she almost rose to the bait. Only for a moment.

"No!" Flurry allowed a split second for silence before plunging on. "The possibility we chose --"

"If that mattered," Zero broke in, tone compelling her to drop her shaking hands into her lap, "we wouldn't be having this conversation." He paused, looking her in the eye. "Would we?"

She swallowed back a sound that could have been anything from a groan to a sob, completely trapped in his gaze.

"And, for example," he continued, reaching one hand to touch her cheek, her jaw, "would you let me do this?" In a sudden, startlingly smooth motion, he leaned forward and kissed her gently. Fear and betrayal showed in her eyes, for just a moment, before she closed them, and after a moment that warred between too short and too long, he pulled away. "Or would I even want to?" he asked, his mouth still very close to hers.

She opened her eyes. I give up.

He smiled at her. I love you.

The dark of her eyes hardened slightly. Go to hell.

She could almost taste his laughter as they kissed again.

Neither of the two heard the stifled giggle from the window, but Zero caught a flash of black and white fur as Turi vanished from sight, a gleeful grin spread all across her features.