Disclaimer: Okay, I know it's been a VERY long time. I apologize to those who wanted to see more of the story. Unfortunately, my USB seemed to have broken down. Which means that I had lost all of my works and works-in-progress. I was already halfway done with this chapter, but now I have to rewrite this all over again. Grr! And not only that, college is really tiring and I really need to concentrate.

Oh well, looks like I'll have to rewrite all of the chapters and stories that I had been working on. Sorry. Blame it on my stupid external drive USB. Anyway, I'll have everything rewritten as soon as I can.

Summary: Family is one of the things that keep us on our feet. But what if family isn't enough? Sooner or later, one must choose


Chapter VIII: The Times Before

Lightning woke up early the next day.

She sighed and rose up from her bed groggily and went into her bathroom for her morning shower. She turned on the cold water of the shower, allowing the cold spray to wake her up. She reached for her shampoo, lathering her hair with the rose-scented gel.
The cold water washed away the foam from her strawberry-blonde locks. Lightning shook her head, spraying the foam and water droplets from her head. Her sharp ears caught the sound of footsteps from the inside of her room. She sighed.

Lightning washed herself, dried herself, then dressed

She dried her hair with a smaller towel as she went back into her room. Lightning raised an eyebrow. Noctis sat on her bed, looking concerned. "What?" Lightning said suddenly, startling Noctis out of his thoughts.

He shook his head then looked at Lightning. "Sorry." Lightning shrugged and placed her towel aside. "What's wrong?" "I…had a nightmare." Noctis said, blushing a bright red in embarrassment. Lightning stared at him in slight disbelief. "Are you kidding me?"
Noctis shook his head. "I know it's stupid and childish but…it felt real. Too real." His adopted sister frowned and sat beside him. "What happened?" She asked.

"It was…weird. I really didn't understand it at all." Noctis admitted. Lightning nodded in understanding. "Just tell me. It might actually help."
He chuckled in embarrassment. "Everything was all foggy though. I kept seeing these places that I know I have never seen or been to before. It was like…a meeting room of some sort, and…I think I saw Tenebrae too. I also kept seeing these foggy faces all around me. But for some reason, I didn't feel scared. But at the same time, it kind of scared me because I know I have never seen those people or places in my dream. Yet it's almost like I know them…somehow."

Lightning's eyes never left Noctis as he spoke. She frowned, deep in thought. "Was that all?" Noctis nodded. "Yeah, that was all."

"It was just a dream, don't worry about it." She reassured, placing a hand on his shoulder. Noctis inhaled the smell of Lightning's rose-scented shampoo. "I know. But it feels as if it meant something." "Then maybe it means that you miss your real family. That would be natural though; anyone who lost their families would always miss them, no matter what." Lightning said.
Noctis smiled at her. "You're really something, you know that?"

Lightning blushed slightly. "Whatever." Noctis chuckled and ruffled her damp hair. "Thanks for comforting your adopted big brother." Lightning frowned in embarrassment. "Don't sweat it. That's what families do." She mumbled. Noctis only chuckled again and stood up. "I'll start breakfast today. Sorry for bothering you, Light."
She nodded and watched as he left her room and closed the door behind him. She exhaled loudly and shook her head, ruffling her untamed bangs in confusion. Something was definitely wrong with her.

Deciding was it probably nothing, Lightning rolled her neck and shoulders, unwind the creaks in her body. She smirked to herself, remembering what day it was. The relatives were coming to visit.

"Might as well get the place fixed up." She sighed and went downstairs to the kitchen where Noctis was busy frying the eggs in a pan. Lightning simply made her way beside him and got out a mixing bowl from the cupboard along with the ingredients for pancakes. Noctis blushed when he glanced in her direction as she mixed the pancake batter, and tried concentrating on the eggs.
Lightning noticed. "What?" "Nothing. Just thought you were going to stay in bed a little longer." Noctis said coolly. Lightning gave him a look then rolled her eyes. "Stop trying to act cool. It won't work on me. I know you." Noctis mentally cursed but kept his cool.

Lightning rolled her eyes again as she got out a second pan onto the stove on poured some of the pancake batter. "You can just let me do the cooking, I don't mind." Noctis said. Lightning only shrugged and did not say a word.

The silence between them was rather comfortable, neither minded each other's presence as they worked in the kitchen.

As they finished with the cooking and began fixing up the table, the sound of yawning and light footsteps could be heard above. The rest of the Farron brothers padded down the stairs. Lightning and Noctis smirked when they saw how Cloud managed to keep his hair completely spiked, despite just getting out of bed. Squall was nothing new since his hair had always been in a handsome mess. Zack on the other hand had a slight case of bed hair. His short spikes were everywhere and fuzzier than usual, making him look a somewhat puffy.

Noctis went over to his seat at the table and Lightning did the same as the rest of her brothers followed.

Zack yawned loudly and nearly tripped on his own feet as he went over to his seat at the table. The younger brothers chuckled and Lightning raised an eyebrow. "Klutz." She muttered. "Not everyone is a morning riser, Miss Early Bird." Zack groaned back. "This coming from the same person who wakes up early every Saturday just to watch his vampire soap operas." Squall said. The party at the table snickered and Zack's jaw dropped while his face went red. "What soap operas? I don't watch soap operas!" "Right…" Lightning said, unbelievingly.

Zack blushed and quickly tucked in the food on the table. They ate in comfortable silence until Zack and Squall both placed their fork on the last egg. The two glared at each other, obviously fighting over the last egg. They clashed their forks while trying to grab the egg, much to the others' amusement. Lightning rolled her eyes. The little struggle over the egg lasted until Squall flicked Zack in the nose harshly and took the egg for himself. Zack growled and glared at his younger brother. Squall paid him no mind and ate the egg.

"Too slow, puppy." Lightning said. "That's not funny!" Zack yelled. Noctis laughed a bit and Cloud shook his head in amusement while Squall and Lightning only shrugged and drank their orange juice.

After breakfast, the brothers volunteered to clean up the dishes while Lightning headed back up into her room. Noctis watched her go then slipped away from his adopted brothers as they began fighting each other with the tap water and dish soap.

Noctis headed upstairs and knocked on Lightning's door. She took quite a while to answer it and Noctis wondered if she had gone back to sleep. Slowly, he opened the door and peeked inside. Lightning was nowhere in sight. She must have gone to the bathroom, he told himself. He then let himself in and looked around her room.

Lightning liked having everything in place and kept her room clean at all times. He smirked when he remembered how she almost threw a fit when Zack messed up her collection of books, which were mostly manuals or war and peace books. He shook his head; same old Lightning.

He then noticed something sticking out from underneath her pillow. He approached the bed and pulled the object out. He smiled softly when he recognized the photo album Serah gave to Lightning before Serah left to live with Snow. Lightning had been very upset at Serah's decision, but in the end, she had to accept it. She disliked Snow so much but she knew she could not keep her little sister from her own happiness.

Noctis knew that Lightning was only trying to learn to let go a bit. Serah being the youngest meant Lightning had to watch over her more than her brothers and Serah going off to live on her own with her boyfriend was hard for Lightning to do since she had always taken care of Serah as best as she could.

It was thanks to Squall and Cloud that Lightning managed to calm down and accept the fact, albeit reluctantly.

He sat on the bed and opened the album to look at the photographs. He smiled at each one. He then came across a picture that had Lightning in between Serah and Vanille who were both clinging to her arms. Noctis chuckled; Lightning was practically the guy in the photo.
The next picture had him, Squall, and Cloud sitting at a table at their favorite burger joint. The three of them stared at the camera grumpily and lazily as it was taken. By Serah, of course.

The next made Noctis laugh a bit. It was Serah and Snow sitting on a park bench together and leaning against each other affectionately. Lightning was in the background—coincidentally, since she had gone off to get herself and Serah a hotdog and had just returned while the picture had been taken—and was glaring at the back of Snow's head like death itself.

Noctis remembered the huge fit Lightning had after Vanille had snapped the picture. He and Fang had to pull her back and defend Snow's head before Lightning actually threw the hotdogs at him.

He turned to the next page which had pictures of the family along with Fang, Vanille, and even Snow—much to Lightning's dismay at that time—at the beach. Among all of them, Squall, Lightning, and Noctis himself had refused to wear any beach attire had had settled with summer clothes instead. Fang, Serah, and Vanille had tried to pull Lightning over to the water and get her to swim with them. Much to the three's dismay, however, Lightning was as strong as a man and had managed to yank her arm away and shoved Fang into the water then made Vanille trip in and picked Serah up in her arms and tossed her in with the two.

The brothers and Snow had laughed at that and Lightning had been yelled at by a pouting Vanille who had said "You are such a guy!" to Lightning.

The eldest Farron sister merely shrugged and headed back to her shade without another word. After a while, Snow, who had been dig a bit in the sand, had encountered a crab and had gotten himself pinched by it. Lightning was the first to see this and snickered smugly at the scene of Snow waving his hand around in the air when the crab refused to let go of his finger. Serah had rushed over to help him and everyone else laughed.

Noctis was so deep in his memories that he did not notice Lightning standing at the doorway of her bathroom, looking at him.

She saw his soft smile and smiled herself. Noctis was sweet, that much she would admit out loud. He was the best brother she or anyone could have and he became part of the family so quickly that even Lightning herself forgot that he was a stranger that they had taken in.

She must admit, she had grown attached and fond of Noctis after his first two weeks as a Farron. And she was surprisingly glad that she did; he was probably the only one among her brothers who fully understood her like no one else did, and like how only she understood herself. He was always there to comfort her like an ideal older brother would and was always the one to bring the first aid kit to her after she would come home covered in wounds.

He was also a shy boy but would always try to hide it by acting cool. Lightning would always roll her eyes at him when he did that. Men and their pride. But then again, she was like that at times as well. Who was she to judge anyway?

She watched as he flipped through the album, smiling to himself and sometimes laughing. Like her, he liked to actually reminisce the times before. She expected it; after all, he had been found on the streets under the harsh and pouring rain by Zack and did not remember a thing about his family except for his own name.

The Farrons had sent out messages that they had found him and waited for his family to come for him and bring him home. Noctis too had waited to be taken home. But when no one came for him, he had been saddened but at the same time, he had already grown attached to the Farrons, and they had felt the same about him as well.

After that, they took him in as their own brother and everything worked out perfectly. Serah loved having a new brother and the boys enjoyed his company, especially Squall and Cloud who finally had an ideal older brother role model instead of Zack.

And for Lightning, she was glad to have someone who understood her perfectly and did not take her insecurities as insults and saw past her cold façade since he too had a façade on at times. He was probably her only brother, aside from Squall and Cloud who could calm her down when she was close to the boiling point.

Lightning smirked and walked over to Noctis who still did not notice her presence.

He flipped through another page then paused and looked up at Lightning. He blushed and cleared his throat. She shook her head and sat beside him. "I miss those times too." She said suddenly. Noctis nodded in agreement and placed the album between them.

They both looked at the pictures and smiled as they recalled the times they all had before; the good and the bad, as well as the times that could not be caught on camera. Noctis ruffled Lightning's untamed hair and pulled her close so her head rested on his shoulder. She blushed slightly then blinked and moved her eyes back to the pictures in the album.

Noctis always knew exactly when she needed the company or comfort. He was the one she could trust with secrets that even her other siblings would disapprove of or must not know.
She glanced up at Noctis and smiled a bit; he was wonderfully, inside and out, a good brother and friend. Lightning sighed and she knew she would never want to give him or the rest of her family up for anything in the world.

There you go! Ahh! Finally, I think I might be starting to get back on my feet slowly with my stories. The next chapter might take some time again but I assure you I will submit more chapters soon and continue on with this story.

Another thing I wanted to say is: HAPPY BITRHDAY, nisu-chan25! I hope you like your birthday present! I did my best here and I hope you like it!

Well, that will be all for now. I will get back to you all soon.

Until then…