~Two Years Ago

"I'll be right back." Serah announced as she pushed her seat out from under the table. She stood, and then walked into the interior of the restaurant. Snow lifted his cup of ice water to his lips, then picked up his sub sandwich and gladly bit into it. Lightning crossed her legs, meanwhile staring mindlessly down the street. The breeze was calm and soft, and the shade of the sun roof blocked out the bright sunlight. Couples sat behind and next to them at their tables, chatting away and munching on their delectable lunch.

"Beautiful day, isn't it?" Snow declared, biting another chunk of his sandwich into his mouth.

"Yeah."

"Something bothering you?" Snow asked out of the quiet. "You're quiet today." Lightning peered downward to her half-eaten plate of salad, then took her glass of juice and sipped it.

"Something's wrong with Hope."

"What's up?"

"Last night he asked me something, and it's been bothering me since." She admitted. "The question was random. And then, after I gave him my answer, he told me that he's been feeling that way."

"Well, what did he ask?"

"…He asked if I'd ever wanted something that I couldn't have." She paused. "I don't understand. I mean, I asked him what he wanted, but I just butted out."

"Maybe his parents?" He suggested.

"I don't know. For some reason, I feel like I have to know." Snow sat his chin on the palm of his hand while he leaned his elbow against the table, staring out along the street.

"Oh. Oh." Snow turned his head to Lightning, and raised his eyebrows. "I think I know." He chuckled mischievously.

"You better tell me." She growled.

"You sure you wanna know, sis?" He asked. "Of course, it might be completely wrong, but I think I have a good hunch."

"Tell me."

"This might be a little weird, but… maybe he was talking about you. Now, I may be completely wrong… But, consider the thought." Snow shrugged.

Lightning's stomach fluttered. Of course she'd thought about it before, but never expected it to come to terms between them. Hope said he wanted "it" more than anything. Suddenly, she understood. Hope was her priority responsibility, and now she would pay the consequences; it was no wonder he felt that way. All these years she'd taken him into her own life, giving him chances and opportunities he wouldn't have had without her. It hit Lightning like a slap in the face; why didn't she think of this before?

At that point, Serah arrived at the table, taking her seat as she pushed her chair with herself forward. She alternated gazes at the two, who looked uncertain.

"So, what'd I miss?

******************

"Hope, come in here." Lightning called through the hall, awaiting Hope as he finished clearing the kitchen. He followed her voice to her bedroom, and then opened the door to step inside. The bedside lamp was turned on, and the rest of the room remained unlit. Lightning sat cross-legged on her bed with a folded piece of paper in her hand. She was wearing what she'd worn that morning, except now, her hair was pulled in a messy bun. "I have something for you."

Hope advanced towards her bed, and then silently grasped the folded paper she held out in her hand. Lightning kept her expression calm, meanwhile her heart beating hard against her chest. He jumped up on her bed and sat next to her. His heart's pace quickened as he studied the paper while he began to unfold it. He peered down at what appeared to be a whole list of paragraphs and small printed words. Assuming that the paper was some sort of contract, he skimmed over the text, which didn't make very much sense to him at all, and then his eyes reached the bottom of the page. Lightning's signature was printed on a former blank line, and then saw his own printed on another space next to it. He portrayed a puzzled look as he turned his head to Lightning, who pulled her knees to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. She stared back at him, her face still emotionless.

"Light, what is this…?" Hope asked as Lightning sighed and looked away. Silence filled the room as she finally opened her mouth to speak.

"I'm unadopting you, Hope."

It took a moment for Hope to process the meaning of her words. His heart nearly skipped a beat as he felt constriction in his throat. He turned his head to stare at Lightning in disbelief. What did this mean? Did she not want him anymore?

"Light, why…? I don't understand…" His eyes began to swell with light tears, meanwhile Lightning keeping her stare from him. This is not the way she intended this to work out.

"It means exactly what it means."

Hope's tears finally traveled down his cheeks as he closed his eyes shut. He opened his eyes to stare blankly down into the paper as he read some of the important lines of text. Hope was an orphan all over again.

"Hope, please… stop crying."

"Why are you doing this?" Hope immediately responded, his voice now angered. "Why don't you want me anymore?" He turned his head to Lightning, whose face was covered in shyness and guilt. She remained quiet. "Answer me!"

"I do want you, Hope. You don't get it, do you?" She asked sternly, now staring at Hope as his remaining tears left his eyes.

"So what, now you want me, but you're unadopting me? You're throwing everything away!" He raised his voice as his tears dried. Lightning bowed her head, gathering thoughts in her mind as to what to say next; she intended the unadoption to be their chance now that he'd turn eighteen. She leaned forward to touch his arm. He flinched his arm back, his eyes beading at her with anger, confusion and sadness. She sat back against the pillows burrowed against the backboard of the bed and folded her arms over her chest.

"I would never throw everything away, Hope. We've been through too much."

"But Light, why…?" He stuttered. He shifted so he sat comfortably, and then simply gazed at Lightning, waiting for an explanation. Lightning leaned forward again, this time cupping his hands with her own. Hope's surprise and anger lead to confusion, and was now changing into sadness and wonder. The image of Lightning that morning completely left his mind. His mind was now occupied with what had just happened, and now, he just wanted to know the truth. He gazed downward at their hands together, and he felt his stomach flutter as more questions began to rise.

"Look at our hands, Hope." She told him. "You finally have what you've always wanted, right here, right now." She let her thumb nuzzle the sides of his palms. His eyes rose to meet Lightning's, who looked at him earnestly. She was completely right; she was the one thing he wanted the most, and the one thing he couldn't have… until now. His cheeks flushed as he felt his heart soften from the anger.

"I… think I understand, now." He smiled up to her. "But… why the unadoption?" He wondered.

"Because, Hope…" she paused. "Mothers can't do this." And with that, she leaned in closer to Hope, taking her hands from his. She placed them underneath his jaw, and then lifted her chin to meet level with his. The emerald pigment in his eyes glistened from his leftover tears, only encouraging Lightning even more to take Hope all her own. Slowly inching forward, she let her lips touch his, slightly pursing them as she applied pressure. Hope's body instantly warmed as he let his eyelids cover his pupils, exhaling breath from his nostrils slowly, taking every touch from her as deliberately as he could. He lifted his hands and gently gripped her waist as Lightning parted her lips gradually. Her plush lips felt so warm and inviting; he parted his lips along with her and propelled them hard against hers. Lightning adjusted herself so that she sat on her bottom, meanwhile Hope wrapping his arms tightly around her. He hovered over her body, letting her lay on her back. He pulled his face away from hers, and gazed into her blazing eyes, meanwhile his knees straddling her upper legs. She smiled up to him, lifting her hand to caress his cheek. Her expression exhibited no likeness of restraint and only felt her heart beating against her chest.

"Light, are you sure you want to…?" He asked sheepishly. His cheeks began to burn, feeling the goose bumps on his arms deepen. Lightning nodded and studied Hope's features as his jaw clenched. He hesitated for a moment, not knowing what to do with her. He lowered himself downward as he kissed her cheek, and then switched to the next, gently caressing her neck with his hands simultaneously. He let his hands drift over her shoulders, and then glided his fingertips down to her palms. He kissed her lips softly as she found his fingers and intertwined hers with his. She let her eyes close as he pressed his lips harder onto hers, enjoying every minute of his physical attention towards her.

Lightning tightened her grip on Hope's hand. Her touch felt mesmerizing to him, and even as her breath exhaled onto his upper lip he ached and wanted her more. This birthday was definitely one he would never forget.

Lightning unraveled her hand from Hope's grasp as she reached for the lamp post nearby, twisting the light switch. The room instantly went dark and their breaths became louder as the entire house crept with its silence. Light from outside shown through the windows, and their faces became illuminated. Hope traced her jaw with his lips and reached her neck as his hands moved to her waist, his hands peeling underneath her snug tank. He stopped his hands a few inches forward and arched his back, letting his body move slightly forward over her.

"I love you, Light…" he breathed. His lips glued back to her neck. Lightning stared up to the unlit ceiling, hearing him say the words so passionately and easily, almost as if he'd waited forever to say them. She turned her head slightly and kissed his head, lifting her hands to stroke his hair.

"I love you, too." She whispered into his ear.

It's everything we want.