First time writing an emotional storyline, but I just had to after seeing these two. Please review, no matter how harshly.

Maternal Instinct

Gapra Whitewood.

Lightning zipped along the path, shooting and slashing, easily dispatching the leeches and hounds that populated the area. She shot a look back at her young follower: Hope. He was slowing, trying to hide it, but he was definitely becoming worn out.

Sighing, but doing her best not to express her annoyance, she turned her neck, looking up and down the path for any of the Guardian Corps or the native creatures. Nothing. Good.

"You need to stop?" she turned to looking at the struggling Hope.

"Can we?" Hope looked up at her, mildly surprised.

"Sure" she nodded.

What was it? She didn't know, but she just felt the need to protect the boy. The old soldier going soft? She could imagine what Serah would be thinking. Serah…

Hope sat down, resting against one of the pale trees. Lightning took one last look around of the path before positioning her near the edge of the opposite side of the path. She kept one knee raised, near her head, and kept the other leg flat. She pressed her back against a tree.

She watched with mild amusement as Hope tried to mimic her position, lifting one of his legs to bring the knee near his face. After a moment or so he flattened his leg, giving up.

"Hey, Lightning?" Hope looked up at her, his hand unconsciously nearing the survival knife she'd given him.

"Yeah?"

"When'd you think we're gonna find Snow?" he flicked the knife blade out and retracted it.

"Sometime" she paused, "find a plan and stick to it, remember?"

"Right… Operation Nora" Hope nodded slowly. Lightning felt a pang of guilt for starting him on the scheme, but she kept silent.

"Say, Lightning" Hope spoke up again to his new idol

"Call me Light" she responded shortly.

"What was your mother like?"

"I don't know" Lightning let her head roll back. "She died when I was fifteen" her voice grew softer.

"I'm sorry" Hope added, slightly awkwardly.

"Don't be" the last thing she needed was Hope's whining. She wasn't cut out for this.

Then why didn't she leave him behind?

The sweet, seductive voice in her head murmured, almost convincing her. But she kept thinking one other thing: Hope needed protection. He couldn't fend off the whole of Cocoon with a boomerang.

That hadn't stopped her abandoning Snow, or Vanille, or Sazh… This one boy could make her break every rule she'd ever lived by. What was so special about him? He was whiney, slightly bratty, a coward and couldn't fight to save his life. So why was she still here?

"Time to go" Lightning quickly got to her feet, watching Hope follow suite. He was improving, she'd give him that, but she wouldn't abandon the code she lived her life by solely because of one kid.

The fal'Cie based light over the two wanderers started to dim into the simulation of night and denizens of Cocoon lived with. The unlikely companions set up a temporary camp outside of the whitewood, staring out over the sea to Palumpolum.

Hope was the first to fall asleep, closed eyes facing his home. Lightning sat above him, looking at him with the softness she reserved for Serah. Almost without realizing it, she rested a hand gently on his soft cheek.

"Mom?" Hope suddenly said, voice clear despite the fact he was sleeping.

Lightning froze for a brief, endless moment. Was that why…

"If only" she whispered.