Intertwined- Thriving

Synopsis: Two weeks later, Cloud and Lightning have revealed that they are dating to the rest of the gang. After celebrating three months of success for The Storm Delivery Service, the gang decides to go to Palumpolum to relax for a while. Hope catches wind of what's going on with Cloud and Lightning and decides to play Cupid in his own way in hopes of making Lightning happier.

"We're here," said Lightning.

Cloud shot up from his nap. Snow opened the car door and turned back.

"Next stop, Hope's place!" he announced.

Cloud shook his head free of drowsiness and wiped his face with his hand. Lightning looked at him before she began to sling bags over her arm. Serah was already out of the car, holding three bags waiting for the others. They quickly gathered their belongings and set off for Hope's home where they were to meet the rest of the group. They arrived to see Hope waiting for them outside with Vanille beside him.

"Hey everyone!" said Vanille.

Serah ran and hugged Vanille while Hope approached Lightning with a smile. She affectionately rubbed his head and smiled at him. Snow smiled at Hope as well as he playfully punched him in the shoulder. Cloud stayed silent and waited for them to reacquaint themselves. Lightning noticed him being shy before she led him inside the house. Bartholomew was waiting for them inside.

"Mr. Estheim," said Lightning with a smile.
"Hello there, long time no see Lightning," he replied as he shook her hands eagerly.

She turned back to see Hope smiling at her.

"Long time no see Light," he said.
"Hope," she said.

She affectionately nuzzled his silver hair and his smile widened before she hugged him. He timidly returned the hug. Cloud watched silently as he leaned against the doorframe. Lightning turned to Bartholomew.

"Oh, this is our friend Cloud, he's living with us," said Lightning as she gestured towards Cloud.

Bartholomew held out a hand to him which he slowly shook.

"A friend of Lightning's is a friend of ours, welcome," he said.
"Thank you, please to meet you," replied Cloud.

Bartholomew let them in and Cloud sat down on the large couch, staring out into the setting sun over the ocean. Lightning let him be alone and followed Hope into his room. Hope had been telling for a while about things he wanted to show her. The first thing she noticed was that he got his own gunblade. It was larger than her own and after firing a few blanks, it proved to have a faster rate of fire. She was impressed.

"So you joined the Guardian Corps?" she asked.
"Yeah, it turns out they really help with college fees, not to mention it gives me a chance to get stronger," he replied.

He indeed had grown stronger; it had been three long years since she last saw him. He was just as tall as she was and his build became firm but not over muscular. From the shirt he worse, she could tell he was sporting at the very least a six pack but his arms weren't much bigger although they were toned nicely. He put the gunblade back on its stand and turned to her.

"So who's your new friend?" he asked.
"His name is Cloud," she replied.
"Where'd you meet him?" he asked again.
"It's a long story…" she mumbled
"I've got time; you know you can tell me anything," he said in an almost concerned voice.

She then began to tell him about everything that happened from the time she found Cloud up until the very moment they entered the house. Hope seemed to be smiling at her and his eyes narrowed slyly.

"Sounds like you got a crush on him," he teased.

Lightning snapped out of her blank stare and blushed slightly before turning her face away.

"I'm not talking about it," she replied.
"Oh? I think I hit a soft spot," he continued.
"Hope…I'm warning you…" she snarled.
"Yeah but you gotta admit, it's so true," he teased again.

She lunged at him but he quickly reversed and pinned her to his bed with his hands. He definitely got faster and stronger. He looked at her still laughing and she couldn't help but smile at him; it was Hope's own way of saying that he was happy for her. He let her up.

"Have you told him yet?" he asked.
"No…" she mumbled.
"Why don't you tell him?" he asked again.
"Because I don't know how…you already know I'm not good with emotions…we are dating but I don't know if it's the right time to tell him my true feelings…" she said blushing.
"You don't have to be good to tell someone how you feel about them…for example," he said.

He walked up to her and hugged her deeply.

"You're the most important woman in my life," he said.

Lightning lit up like a red Christmas light. He let her go and smiled at her.

"See? Not hard and before you think it's something else, no I don't like you in that way, you're practically a big sister to me," he said smiling.

Lightning let out a deep sigh of relief.

"What do I do…I don't want to tell him and he rejects me," she said.
"I bet he loves you back, I saw him looking at you earlier and I swear I haven't seen anyone look at you like that before without dying," he chuckled.
"Hope…" she said in embarrassment.
"The worst thing he can do is talk to you about it Light, he doesn't look like a guy who would outright reject you, especially since he's dating you," reasoned Hope.

He chuckled again and got up.

"I'll find out for you, leave it to me," he said.
"No…don't you dare," she warned.
"Nope, I dare," he said sticking his tongue out as he left the room and immediately sealed it shut with his voice lock.

She sat down, completely helpless as Hope ran off to help his friend.