A/N This is my first fanfic, so please R & R with care (I have a mental image of being stabbed to death like Julius Caesar, but with red correction pens– Et tu reviewers?). I did play the game and loved every minute of it, and I've enjoyed so many of the fanfics for the Hope/Light pairing that I feel it's only right I post something of my own to (hopefully) inspire the other writers in this fandom to put their ideas out there for the first time or persevere in their already awesome stories till completion! I finally discovered what OTP means, and Hope/Light is mine.
***Please note that since this is post-game, there will be spoilers.
Also, the title is based on the song "In Repair" by Our Lady Peace, and chapter titles are from the lyrics of that song. Interesting song, but it was a tough choice for the title.
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Square Enix, except the titles, which belong to Our Lady Peace.
Always in Repair
Waiting for This
Lightning was aware of the bright, cheery voice, but in the blankness of her mind could not wrap her head around the presence of Vanille somewhere in the midst of nothing. Concentrating, she felt more than heard – felt the pressure against her arms and legs, and a vague sense of movement in real time that she had not known since, well, falling out of Cocoon, out of the sky, and out of time.
Where AM I?
She didn't wait long for an answer. Moments later, Lightning's senses were bombarded with reality as the crystal shell dissolved away in seconds and she found herself in the hands of four bewildered PSICOM grunts, all of whom unceremoniously dropped her onto the concrete floor like a live grenade and backed off.
Instinctively reacting to possible hostility, Lightning was at the ready in an instant, gunblade out and swinging. The soldiers had no time to bring out their guns before she had already whipped a leg into the back of the knees of the one nearest her, knocking him flat on the ground, and then leaped into a somersault to land a flying kick at the heads of two others. The fourth man unsteadily aimed his weapon toward the chaotic blur incapacitating his comrades, and Lightning tried to fling a thunder spell in his direction. She was stunned for a moment as the magic didn't spark on her fingers, but she immediately recovered and closed the distance at a dead sprint, gunblade whirling around and deflecting bullets, and kicked the gun from his shaking hand before knocking him unconscious with a smack from the hilt of her weapon.
Fun. Decades could have gone by, and PSICOM is still a pain in the ass.
In the corner of her eye, Lightning spotted the first soldier desperately whispering into his communicator and calling for reinforcements as he crawled toward an exit. Rather than waste time on him, she turned and ran down a different hallway to escape from whatever god-forsaken compound she had ended up in. There had to be a decent way out.
Lightning put a considerable amount of distance between herself and whatever reinforcements may have gone to the aid of the one conscious soldier, and after rounding what seemed like the hundredth corner, she stepped into a small inset area to check on her brand, finding nothing but unblemished skin in its place. Lightning breathed a sigh of relief, but that discovery was slightly overshadowed by her current predicament.
Just when I really could have used some magic. Perfect.
Slinking like a cat through the empty hallways, the only things Lightning encountered for several minutes were flashing red emergency lights, accompanied by the repeated warning over the 1MC:
"Intruder alert. Intruder alert. All personnel man your stations. Do not attempt to engage target. I repeat, do not engage target."
She rounded one more corner to hit a short hallway with a fire escape – finally, it seemed there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Judging from the sounds coming from above and below, she was most likely on the second or third storey of the building. Lightning slowly opened the door to glance outside for enemies, and seeing that the space was clear, she stepped out onto the exterior stairwell.
It was morning outside, and had it not been for the steadily growing formation of PSICOM soldiers on the north side of the compound, it would have been a beautiful sight. Watching from the building's western face, Lightning knew that any sudden movements could attract their unwelcomed attention, so she crept slowly down the metal stairs.
Her left foot was about the leave the final step when she spotted a cluster of unmistakably Guardian Corps uniforms coming around from the south side, still at least two or three hundred meters off. Spying the black bandanna and white trench coat of the lead figure, she began to fear for her successful escape.
"Hey, there she is!" Snow was yelling back at his comrades, still running full force toward where Lightning had frozen on the steps of the fire escape. It was clear now that his group consisted of at least one NORA member in addition to the GC soldiers. Their little commotion had, not surprisingly, turned the heads of the PSICOM unit, and she could hear the scraping of boots on the pavement and shouting of orders as they began to approach from behind.
Looks like we're doing this "hero" style – guns blazing and lives on the line. Ugh.
The first group of soldiers had closed in on Lightning, and she wasted no time in climbing back up the steps and launching off the railing to fire a volley of bullets into the group, followed up with several well-aimed kicks and slashes from her blade as she plowed into the fray. She quickly dispatched the first six men, finding that her muscles were more than willing to stretch and flex into the motions of battle after such a long period of stagnation. It was exhilarating, and before Lightning knew it, every soldier in proximity lay motionless at her feet, well before Snow and his team had fired a single shot.
Huffing loudly from the run, Snow looked surprised and disappointed at the sight. "We coulda handled that," he spluttered, "but it's all good. Didn't expect to see you awake!"
"I'm not going into all the thingsI didn't expect," Lightning shot back, still irritated about the whole situation. "Here's hoping you have an escape plan."
"Oh yeah! We gotta get movin'!" Snow grabbed onto her arm and started to pull her back in the direction from which they had come, and she jerked her arm away with a sharp glare at his audacity as she broke into a run for the southwest corner of the building. When Lightning noticed some of the GC soldiers had formed a barrier between their group and another approaching PSICOM unit, she was tempted to join their ranks, but Snow would have none of it.
"Lightning, just – no! You're the entire point of this mission!" he shouted, barely restraining himself from making another futile attempt at using force to drag her along.
"So you plan to just leave them here?" Lightning was getting indignant, and she had already retracted the gunblade into its pistol form and taken aim.
"No, of course not! They have their own velocycles – it's part of the plan, but we have to get to the transport before they regroup!"
Snow had a point, and Lightning reluctantly sheathed her weapon as they sped around the back of the main structure and wove through a maze of smaller storage buildings and crate stacks. A few minutes later, Gadot and the remaining Guardian Corps support turned to break away, and the hulking NORA member looked to his leader as he gave Snow's hand a firm shake.
"Saw the med lab storage shed on the way in – might as well hit it up while we're here; I mean, Lightning's not gonna need the lift crew," Gadot said, and he chuckled as he punched Snow in the shoulder. "See ya at the base!" He waved as they left.
"Don't stick around too long!" Snow called out as Gadot and the others took off into a narrow passage between a low-rise building and the southern perimeter fence, heading east.
Snow began to move along the fence in the opposite direction, and Lightning followed silently, questions filling her head with every step. She needed to know what was happening, the where and why of the situation, and most urgently – the when.
"Snow," she began, still jogging just behind him toward the unknown destination, "how long was I in crystalstasis? And what in hell is going on here?" Lightning didn't mean to come across so harshly, but patience wasn't really one of her virtues.
"Well, this certainly is 'Hell'," Snow replied with a sardonic grin, bringing his pace down to a fast walk. "Serah says it's been over five years since Cocoon crashed into Pulse, and she woke up right after that, so I tend to believe her. Guess that means you get a five-year freebie on aging," he teased, and a few seconds later his grin widened and he let out a stifled laugh.
"What's your problem?" Lightning was in no mood for jokes, not with five years worth of questions needing to be answered now.
"Oh wow, you do realize this makes you the baby sister, right? Can't wait to tell Serah!" Snow had already been treading on dangerous ground, and that little comment earned him a sharp elbow to the ribs.
"Oww! Fine, I'll cut the crap," he whined, continuing as they began to approach the southwest corner of the perimeter. "In a nutshell, PSICOM's as power-crazy as ever, and they didn't exactly see the error of their ways after we l'Cie wrecked Cocoon and turned it into a giant crystal. The majority of the people died in the events leading up to the landing, and thousands of bodies are crystallized onto the surface. Evacuation ships probably saved around fifty thousand people total, 'bout a fifth of them military. Reconstruction was the focus of everything for a while, so things stayed pretty peaceful, but about three years ago things came to a head politically, and a lot of the former Guardian Corps sympathized with the l'Cie, so there ended up being a huge split, then some violence. That's how you ended up here, and that's why we're bustin' you out – well, it would have been more like stealing a weapon, but this is even easier."
"Thanks for keeping it to the point," Lightning commented, a rare moment of open consideration for her annoying brother-in-law-to-be. They had come to a damaged fusebox on the side of a building near the corner of the compound, and as Snow peeled back the wire from a pre-cut opening in the fence, he jerked a thumb toward the rigged switchboard dangling from the box.
"Just in case you were wondering how we snuck into this hellhole."
A device buzzed with static on Snow's belt, and he pulled it off to listen. The voice on the other end sounded vaguely familiar to Light, but she couldn't place it.
"Snow, do you cop…? What is…current posit…?"
"Point of entry. Be there in five," Snow replied.
"Make it two! W…need t…eave now," the strange voice fired back, clearly frustrated.
"Fine, in two." Snow put the device away and squeezed through the hole in the fence.
Lightning managed a "Hmph" before going through herself and darting into a patch of trees just a few meters away. A smaller, dilapidated-looking transport ship was hidden among the foliage a little ways off, ramp lowered in expectation of the "cargo." She wondered if Sazh had awakened, and maybe was even flying the ship, and then she thought about Fang and Vanille. Something in the back of her mind told her that they were permanently out of the picture – that their presences were immutably fixed to the fate of Cocoon.
Above all, a simple question incessantly tugged at her: WhataboutHope? Part of her hoped he hadn't been awake long, surviving Pulse without her protection.
Running toward their goal, Lightning heard the roar of the engine and felt the ground rumble as the ship started up, and she saw a taller figure run out onto the ramp and wave wildly in their direction before going back inside.
"We're outta here!" Snow yelled as they closed the distance and sprinted up the ramp and into the belly of the ship. The ramp began to retract and the doors closed while Lightning and Snow, somewhat out of breath from the exertion, took their seats. The soldier was only hazily aware that the unfamiliar person had joined them and handed her a bottle of water, which she gladly took.
"Thanks," she said quickly, before gulping the water down. More questions had already begun to flood her mind – questions about where they were going, how her sister had been living all those years, and why the ship's engine was so insufferably loud.
"Not a problem, Light," he replied, and the familiarity of both the voice and form of address caught her attention again. Finally looking up, she casually appraised the young man, apparently their pilot, as he strode toward the cockpit. He was nothing out of the ordinary in simple brown coveralls tied at the waist and a white t-shirt, but the shock of silver hair was too unusual to ignore. Once he was out of sight and the ship began to lift off, Lightning took the opportunity to sate her curiosity.
"So Snow, who's flying this thing?" she asked, trying to sound nonchalant.
"You're kidding, right?" Snow exclaimed, incredulous. Lightning was taken aback by his reaction, and she huffed in exasperation.
"Do I look like I'm kidding?" She clearly wasn't. Unless 'kidding' was somehow Pulsian slang for 'shooting daggers from one's eyes.'
"Unbelievable," Snow said, throwing his hands in the air. Then he yelled toward the cockpit. "Hey Hope, you owe me five hundred gil!"
Wide-eyed with her jaw irretrievably dropped to the floor, Lightning didn't expect the aftershock of hearing the pilot's response… and definitively recognizing the voice.
"Thanks a lot Snow – you've got 'jumping the gun' down to an art!" came Hope's reply, dripping with disdain.
"Sure, sure. You know the terms, and she had a decent shot at getting it right." Snow had never looked so self-satisfied in his life, arms folded across his chest as he smugly regarded Lightning in her state of bewilderment.
I can't believe this.