Back to 13! I would just like to say that I DID NOT finish the game (stupid college), but I have unfortunately come into contact with some spoilers, so I'm trying my best to keep this story of post-13 semi-accurate. if there's something blatantly wrong (like outlandish...i'm talking aerith's-alive-post-7 wrong), please inform me in the least spoil-ish way :D

but hopefully that won't affect the story too much!

Disclaimer: characters aren't mine, hence this being on fanfic.

"Are you going or not?"

He blinked for a second, trying to let the full words on the card dig into his brain. Of course he was going. There was never any possibility of him not. But then why did he have so much doubt? "I don't know." Such a lie. He had to go. There was no feasible way he could ever blow such an opportunity.

"It's soon though. You've been indecisive about that for weeks."

He nodded slowly at his father, letting his silvery hair drop over his face, blurring the card's words for a moment. It was tomorrow. The RSVP deadline had been a week ago, and he had never replied. Maybe it would be selfish to show up now; they probably didn't prepare for him. He would only be a burden. And besides, this card was probably just a formality. He hadn't seen any of them for 4 years, but after all they went through, they were socially obligated to invite him. Just because he was dying to see them didn't mean they felt the same.

But Snow had called him, rather enthusiastically too. The older man seemed only confused that he might not show up.

"Huh? You don't know? What kind of answer is that?"

He paused for a second, "…I don't know."

"Hey, we haven't seen you for years. This'll mean a lot for the whole bunch. Just come stop by Bodum for a day. You won't have to stay the whole weekend."

"But Snow…"

"What?" Snow was laughing to himself a little, "Is there something wrong, Hope?"


"Then come! I'll save you a seat. Sounds like you've been through a bit of changing too, huh?"

Hope sniffed, "Sure." His voice didn't really sound too different at all.

"I'm taking that as a yes, see you soon!"

So maybe he had…sort of RSVP'd, without really meaning too. And they were expecting him. They did want him to come. His green eyes glanced back at the invitation. "I guess I'm going."

"Then you better start packing. The train leaves early tomorrow morning." His dad patted his back firmly before turning back to the blasting TV.

Hope just nodded and retreated back to his room. He paced around the small perimeter of his bedroom before collapsing on his bed, the invitation still clasped in my hand. "Stop being so nervous."

There was literally nothing to be nervous about. He's faced fal' cie and more monsters than he could even count, but for some reason, that little card was scaring him more than anything of those.

Hope Estheim-

Serah and Snow Villiers would like to invite you for a three day celebration for their new child:

Eira Villiers

It would be an honor for you to attend this magical moment in their lives.

He folded the thick piece of pink paper and slipped it into his jeans pocket, before dragging out his suitcase. He packed a fair amount of clothes, enough for at least 3 days, in the large black rolling suitcase and soon fell into his bed once again, letting sleep takeover.

'I'm just a kid, aren't I?'


'You can say it…I'm stronger now. Even if you don't see it.'

'Fine then. You are. You're just a kid. You'll always be just a kid.'

His stomach hurt when he woke up that morning. Hope scratched his eyes before forcing himself to stand and looked at himself in the mirror, half expecting to see a short, young boy staring back at him. But he wasn't short…not as short at least. 5' 9" is never really considered tall by anyone, but compared to his height four years ago, it was quite a change. He supposed his face looked different too, more like an adult. Well at least that's what he expected. He didn't really notice any change. Maybe she will.

He shut the thought off. Promise not to think about that.

But the rest of his body wasn't agreeing. It was practically all he could think about. How they fought together, how she comforted him, how she would never…

He shook his head again. Those thoughts wouldn't be making this trip any easier. And he couldn't believe that still, after 4 years, that he still had a crush on her. Grow up.

As much as he thought he was growing up, Hope immediately started feeling like a kid again. He was 18. He was, technically, an adult. But being dropped off at the train station by his dad, who insisted not to leave until he got on the train, made him feel quite the opposite. He traveled to Gran Pulse for Eden's sake. The least he could do was board a train to Bodum.

That was another thing he was dreading…besides the obvious reason of course. He hadn't been to the seaside city since before the Purge. It had been with his mother too. It was one of the last moments of her in his memory.

Hope shook his head thoroughly. This is a happy occasion. Don't ruin it with those memories. He nodded his head in confirmation. That's what he'd think about: Snow and Serah's daughter and nothing else. That was why he was coming, and it should be the only thing on his mind.

But that quickly turned into how he couldn't believe that Lightning was an aunt. The thought made him smile a little, thinking of Lightning holding a little baby with her gloved, callused hands. He doubted she was the type to coddle, but knew that she would always be caring, and loving, and…

Hope blinked his eyes away from the image. "There goes not thinking about it."

The long train ride wasn't helping either. There wasn't really much to do except for let his mind wander, which was the last thing he wanted. He looked forward to the brief interruptions by stewardess, asking him questions that briefly distracted his mind. Hope thought about those questions long and hard, sometimes never actually coming to a decision at all. "…No thanks, I'm actually not that thirsty."

The young woman smiled and began to walk forward, when something drew her attention back to him, "Hey…I think I know you."

Hope smiled a little. It had been years since he was famously marked as a l'cie. People didn't really recognize him too often anymore. "Yeah, I'm sure you've seen me on the news before."

"Yeah!" The lady giggled, "Wow, you were that little one! The boy! You sure haven't changed a bit."

His smile immediately faded, "Um, thanks." He was just about ready to get this girl out of his sight when a sudden question came to mind, "Hey, how long is it until we get to Bodum?"

She quickly glanced at a watch on her wrist, "Approximate arrival time is in about 10 minutes."

Great. "Actually, can I have a beer?"

Her eyes widened, "I'll need to see your ID…that is, if you have…"

"Here." He grimly took the picture ID from his pocket. "You'll see that I was born 18 years ago."

The lady kept smiling, ignoring his exasperated tone. "I'll be right back, Mr. Estheim."

"Thanks." Hope shrunk back into the fairly cushioned train passenger seat. That was not what I needed.

A beer, however, was just what he needed, but unfortunately for Hope, the train arrived in Bodum before he ever got it.

Bodum, when not being gruesomely purged, was actually a beautiful city. Everything felt peaceful, the skies and nearby water perfect shades of blue. The majority of people stepping off the train were probably on vacation, relaxing in the easygoing town for a few weeks before getting back to their lives.

But that was not how Hope felt at all. Though the city seemed to be a symbol of serene relaxation, all Hope felt was tense. The bright colored sun, to him, only emphasized where he was, who he was going to see in a matter of minutes. It practically made him incapable of breathing.

"Look daddy!"

For some reason, that voice sounded familiar. Hope turned around, to face the voice, only to see a young boy running up to him. "Hey! Dajh!" He hugged the boy back, glad that this would be his first reunion. "You grew so much. What are you? Ten now?"

"He's not the only one. That you Hope?"

Hope turned away from Dajh and smiled even more. There was Sazh, a huge grin on his face, something that slightly surprised Hope. "Yeah. I guess…it's been a while." He held out his gloved hand for Sazh to take, but the older man didn't accept it. Instead, he dragged the teenager into a deep hug, strongly patting his back.

"Can't believe it. You finally broke 5 feet, haven't you?"

Hope laughed a little, "I was never that short…"

"For a while I thought maybe that was just in your genes. Proved me wrong, huh?"

He shrugged, "I don't think I changed that much really."

"Huh, suit yourself. I'd say the only one of us that's changed even more is Chocobo."

The thought of the tiny little bird immediately made Hope smile. "I guess he's not in your hair anymore?"

"No! I can ride him now!" Dajh exclaimed enthusiastically. "Daddy wouldn't let me bring him here though."

Sazh patted his son's head lovingly, only seeming to annoy Dajh a little. "Anyway, we should be getting a move on. This whole thing starts soon, doesn't it?"

Hope went through his pants pockets, feeling the now very crinkled invitation in his hand, "Um…yeah, let's go."


The question caught him off guard. Was he really that easy to read? "Nah. I'm excited." That was actually true; he just didn't realize how much he was until right now.

"Hmph. I would be too, I guess, if I were in your shoes." Sazh patted him on the back again and walked forward, Dajh trailing behind him.

Hope just stood there, momentarily stuck in thought. What was that supposed to mean? He ran back up to meet them, playing it off in his mind that Sazh was only referring to how much he's grown. Because…of course Sazh didn't know the real reason. He didn't know how excited he was to see Lightning again.


I'm sure there are stories like this already out there on fanfic (...i'm not really sure, maybe i should research), but I would like to thank you all for reading this :D i'll try to update soon now that classes are over, but reviews are always great motivators!

Oh and sorry for the super obvious baby name. I'm bad with names T__T