Ahh, I'm so nervous about posting here. . . but whatever. Some of you may have seen this on Livejournal already, but I thought I might as well get around to posting something on here. Enjoy! Chapters and epilogue will be put up quickly. (Seeing as they're already done.)

Also, to explain my wacked out AU: I haven't finished the game yet, sob. BUT I KNOW WHAT HAPPENS . . . now. I know a lot of things aren't canonically accurate to the post-game-ness (Fang and Vanille, Cocoon, etc.) but just bear with me, if you will!

A little ways away, she sat polishing the blade of her weapon, occasionally flipping it to switch it into a gun. Thoroughly and efficiently making sure everything worked, that everything was in place. He wasn't facing her – a little off to the side, actually. Snow finally gave in to building curiosity, and walked up to Hope as he continued to stare and tilt his head from side to side.

"Okay, this is bugging me." Snow crossed his arms after flicking Hope's shoulder to get the boy's attention. "Just what the hell are you doing?"

"H-huh? What?" Hope shuddered out of his zoning state, taken by surprise. He looked up at Snow. "Er. . ."

"You've been staring into space for a good twenty minutes now."

"I-it doesn't matter."

"I think it does." Snow sat down next to Hope, staring in the same direction he had been all that time. Besides the vast scenery, the only thing to see in said direction was Lightning's back, as she continued to load ammo and polish.

Hope grumbled. "I'm trying to figure out how tall Lightning is."

"She's 5'7"."

"Yeah, that's what I—WHAT." Hope looked at Snow like he had a foreign growth on his face. "How the hell do you know?"

Snow shrugged. "Serah told me once. She tried to get Lightning to go dress shopping at some point, but all the stuff Serah tried to get her to wear ended up too short for Lightning's liking, 'cause she was too tall for some of it. I don't see a problem, but I guess she's just real obtuse when it comes to dressing up."

Hope pulled his knees closer and sank. "Dammit. . . seven whole inches. . ."

"Why? She's a tall lady, I don't see what the problem is."

Was he really going to tell this to Snow, of all people? Well, yes.

"Because I'm only 5'0"."

Snow laughed. "Aw, don't worry 'bout it munchkin. Sooner or later you'll grow your first chest hair and grow a foot taller and –"

"Snow!" Hope smacked his arm, less effectively than he wished. "That's not the point. I mean . . . I was thinking –"

"You're not man enough to stand next to Lightning, right?" Another overly peppy voice invaded from behind. Vanille's creamsicle curls filled the space between Snow and Hope, Fang close behind.

"Wha—well, er. . ." Hope blushed furiously, hiding his face again.

"Aw, how cute! The little boy's got a crush on a woman!" Fang grinned mischievously.

He was in love with her. Through a well-progressed, unquestionable turn of events. Pre-l'cie, Hope would admit, Lightning was scary as hell turned over. And that didn't change for a good chunk of their journey. But in his own head, his own sort view, she completes him – in the sense that she is everything he is not. She's outwardly strong, tall, mature and knows no fear. She can take command and hold her own in any situation. He, on the other hand, was short and naïve, with a childish stubborn quality that he just couldn't seem to remedy. He wasn't particularly interesting or outstanding and she was someone you could stare at for hours just to wonder what kind of person she is, with that cold outer shell and everything else.

She is a palette of strong, noticeable colours, and he is beige. She's absolutely gorgeous, stunningly so, and he is a child.

"I'm not a little boy!" Hope protested with another grumble. "B-but . . . I haven't stopped growing yet!"

"So then what's the plan, young man?" Vanille poked his cheek playfully, before stepping back so Hope had room to stand up.

"I-I'm working on it. I'll . . . I'll tell her. . . when I'm taller. When I get to 5 foot 7 too. Then I won't seem like such a kid." Hope clenched a fist purposefully. Snow stood up too, and punched him in the arm.

"That's the spirit!" Snow laughed.

"What're you doing?"

Lightning approached them, eyebrow quirked. Everyone – well, mostly Hope – turned a blind eye and whistled.