Her eyes slowly drifted open, and the early morning sunlight broke through the sheer curtains covering the wide-paneled windows to the wall facing her. It must have been extremely early; the sun was just rising and the room was still dim. She then faced to the bare back of the body that was curled next to her, and smiled sweetly; today was Hope's eighteenth birthday.

Lightning leaned herself over Hope to see if he was awake. When she looked, he appeared to be sound asleep. Long white tufts of hair swept along his cheek. His breathing was steady and quiet, and he looked so peaceful. She'd never seen something look so beautiful before, and it was sleeping in her own bed. She leaned down and gently kissed his temple softly.

"Happy birthday, Hope."


Hope peeled his eyes open to a beautiful morning; The French glass doors had been kept open, and the draperies swayed with the breeze, sending a soft, charming breeze through the room. He could hear the small river behind the house ripple, and he felt dissonant warmth hit his bare chest. The bluest skies and the whitest clouds shrouded over the Pulsian sky that morning. He began to remember that previous night; he crept into her room, hoping not to wake her, which failed, and lay beside her, unmoving.


Intentions in mind, he then wrapped his arms around her in his embrace. She remained still and didn't move at all. It was as if she let him touch her… almost as if she wanted him to.

He turned his head to see no one lying beside him. The sheets were wrinkled and the pillow was crooked. Assuming she was already awake, he yanked himself out of bed, and picked his light t-shirt off the floor and slipped it back on. Ruffling his hand through his messy hair, he started towards the door and down the hallway to the everlasting awakening scent of bacon. Peering through the doorframe, there Lightning was, hovering over the fry pan full of snapping bacon. Her cotton shorts hugged her hips perfectly as her snug tank swam along her waistline. Her light, pink toned hair lay limp over her shoulders, swaying softly in the breeze from an open window. She hummed softly; her voice was milk and honey to his ears.

"Good morning," He chimed, rubbing his eyes. Surprised, Lightning jumped and began to chuckle softly.

"Hey! Happy birthday!" She smiled, continuing her flustered attempt to perfect the bacon. "Uh… We have a lot to do today. Your party is tonight, I have a ton of things to get done, and you have the day to do whatever. But you have to leave the house." Her voice was steady and certain; she held no restrain in her voice. He recalled to the night before, realizing that she acted like nothing happened.

"Um, okay." He cracked a small grin, feeling a rush of excitement over the party he was having tonight. A small group of close friends would be there. That's all he truly wanted. He walked towards the large kitchen table and sank into the nearest reachable chair. With Lightning's back to him, she proceeded preparing their breakfast. She retreated back and forth from the stove to the refrigerator. He watched her diligently as she hummed and mindlessly watched the television from across the kitchen into the living area.

"Light, do you need any help?" Hope asked, peering up to Lightning as she began to assemble the eggs. She aggregately sighed and replied,

"It's your birthday. I'm making you breakfast."

"So? Let me help. I love helping you." He stood, and then watched her as she turned to face him, who had no redness to her cheeks at all.

After the two gladly prepared their breakfast, they sat down across from each other. Pleased with the meal, they ate deliberately, sharing small talk as they chuckled and argued aimlessly.

"So, what's the big one eight like?" She asked in a sarcastic tone, popping a forkful of hash browns into her mouth.

"Honestly, I do not feel eighteen. At all." He shrugged. "I still feel like a kid."

"You are."

"What?! Yeah right! Eighteen qualifies as an adult. Man. Manly-hood." He chewed on a mouthful of eggs, and then stuffed bacon into his cheeks, listening to Lightning's scoffing.

"You? A man? First of all, men don't stuff their faces with bacon while they're talking. You look like an idiot." Hope gulped down his food, raising his eyebrows in defense.

"Women don't call men idiots." He raised his glass of milk and sipped it silently as he stared at Lightning, who glared at him in disbelief.

"Really? Are you serious?"


Lightning paused, and then sipped her milk. Licking the milk off her lips, she stared downward as her face contorted into a softer expression.

"Men knock."

Instantly feeling his face flush, he suddenly asked,


"Last night." She responded coldly. Hiding his shyness, Hope filled his mouth with another helping of eggs.

"But then again…" She continued unexpectedly. "I don't think I would have let you in if you did." Lightning kept her eyes to her plate, slowly raising the fork to her lips. Hope scratched his scalp while his heart beat raced, and then slowed to a steady beat as silence filled the kitchen. Lightning exhaled and proceeded to stand.

"You go ahead and get ready for the day. I'll clean up."

Not wanting to annoy her, he simply nodded and headed towards the guestroom (where he was supposed to sleep). His mind filled with thoughts, he took a long, hot shower, and then finished cleaning himself up. Gazing at himself in the mirror, he noted his appearance. Short, wisped white hair. Blue dress button-down shirt. Dark denim jeans. The norm, he thought. And then Lightning entered his mind.

He'd been living in custody with Lightning for the past four years ever since they'd awoken from their crystal sleep. She considered the idea after discovering that Hope's father hadn't evacuated out of Cocoon before the destruction. Both she and Hope agreed to the plan, and have lived in a well-accustomed house ever since. Lightning was literally his mother, and in a sense, their relationship was portrayed as this relationship. But sometimes, Hope wished she was something else.

She raised him from her soil. That was all Hope could really manage to name it; she was never romantic towards him. She was only kind and motherly, like a mother would expect. Hope rarely looked at Lightning and thought, "Mother", like he thought of his real mom. The only thing he could think of when he saw her, was simply… Lightning.

Hope continued to address his hygiene. Opening a cabinet full of his necessities, he pulled out a toothpaste tube. Squeezing the tube onto his toothbrush, he was aggravated to see that there was no toothpaste.

Lightning has some.

He appeared at her door soon, and this time, knocked.

No answer.

He slowly reached for the doorknob, his stomach churning at the thought of what his action's consequence may be. His mind retraced its steps to the previous night. In that instant, he turned it quickly and silently opened the door. Noting that no one was in the room, he heard a familiar noise: water. Lightning was taking a shower. Panicked, Hope stopped in his footsteps until all was silent except for the running water of a shower. He listened closely; she was humming a tune he'd heard before. He chuckled softly, grinning at the carpet as he continued to listen to the voice that kept his hopes up all these years.

But then, he noticed something else. The bathroom door was cracked open slightly. Tiptoeing quietly, he peered through the open crack, and all that his eyes met was her mirror attached to her vanity. Suddenly, he caught a glimpse of something different. When he inched closer across the mirror, her back suddenly appeared. Instantly his body was sent backward. His whole body went numb; his face flushed entirely and his knees felt weak.

Just one more look.

He inhaled deeply, and then peered once again into the bathroom. Her body appeared again, but this time, Hope kept his eyes put.

Hope couldn't decide if what he was doing was right or wrong. Needless to say, he continued to stare hopelessly at her impossibly perfect body. He was simply star struck at her pale features. Her hair was darkened as the water drenched it, sticking to her bare back. She raised her arms to smooth her hair, and tilted her head back to let the water fall down her front side. Thinking he'd seen enough, Hope quickly retreated out of the room speechless, picked up his keys, and left the house.

The toothpaste will have to wait.