Hello readers (and hopefully fans :D)! Don't you just hate it when you get an awesome idea for a story and you start writing it—and then you get ANOTHER awesome idea? Yeah, me too. So anyways, this is my first fanfic on this site, though not the first one I intended. I hope you like it…a lot. I don't have a beta-reader, so all mistakes are my own. Review if you like it and want more!

And I guess I have to put a disclaimer here (I noticed that all the other stories have one). But I mean seriously, would anyone believe that I could come up with something as great as Final Fantasy XIII? I didn't.

It had been six months since the fall of Cocoon and the rebirth of civilization on Gran Pulse; three months since the ex-l'cie, fated to bring a new start in the form of demolition, were better off living a couple miles from New Bodhum rather than in the vicinity of the growing town; and another three months since they were guardedly accepted into the town, that without them, would've been impossible.

It was early on a cool November evening. Lightning had just gotten back from work, pointedly ignored Snow's habitual remark of why wasn't she dressed warmer, it was getting colder nowadays, and stared at the list Serah brandished in front of her face playfully. Her sister wanted to know if she'd go to the store and pick up a few things; Serah herself couldn't because she had just gotten over a cold, Snow would either forget half the stuff or get sidetracked, and Sazh claimed he was too old to be doing errands in the cold—plus he had to put Dajh to bed. And Hope didn't want to go alone. So, Light had thrown on a slim-fit long coat, plucked the list from her sister's fingertips and dragged the ever-eager Hope out the door.

And with that said, the story can now start.

"Here you are and thanks for shopping at Meryl's Market," the young cashier chirped in a friendly and practiced way. Her smile dropped in a matter of seconds and she looked at the clear automatic doors. "It's…snowing." She groaned. "Our weather forecasters are so bad…why can't the good fal'cies rule the world?"

Lightning held the brown paper bag against her chest with one arm and gave a tight-lipped smile. "I suppose I should thank you for not closing the store as soon as you saw us coming."

The girl waved her hand. "Puh-lease, you're a customer not a criminal and your gil doesn't turn into smoke in the palm of my hand. I don't get what the big deal is."

"Maybe so…" Lightning turned around, searching for the bright orange coat. "Hope! C'mon, we're leaving." She bit her lip; she still couldn't get over how…normal that felt. She wasn't calling him because they were leaving some make-shift camp; he wasn't in mortal danger, nor were they leaving because they absolutely had to. They were in a little grocery mart and leaving of their own free will and of that own free will, Hope had tagged along. Sure he didn't need her protecting him anymore in a sense, but he still chose to be under her care and command and was in no rush to prove his rebellious independence any more than necessary. And Light…could get used to that.

Weaving in-between the aisles, Hope stopped at the entrance, his pale green eyes widening. "Light, it's snowing!" He was shoved forward.

"I know, let's hope we get home before it comes down any harder. I'd hate for this bag to rip."

Ah-ha! Something I can help with… Hope looked up; while he had grown in the last months, he was still only barely past her shoulder. At least now it isn't so awkward when I hug her… "I can carry it," he said. Lightning kept her steady gaze straight ahead, but a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth.

"In all honesty, I think it's too heavy for you."

"Oh…" He stuffed his gloved hands into his coat pockets and shuffled along beside her, close enough to occasionally brush against her arm. She didn't pull away and he smiled. What he didn't expect was his foot to shoot out from under him. "Woooah!" He flailed his arms, frantically grabbing onto Lightning's coat, wincing as he felt her steel death grip on his arm.

She hissed as his hand fisted the front of her coat and inevitably, her skin. She pried his hands off her, catching a glimpse of his frightened face. She smirked and righted him. "Black ice, walk more carefully next time."

"Y-yeah no kidding…" Cheeks heating up with sheer embarrassment and glad that he had not been carrying the bag, Hope ducked his head, huffing into the scarf tied around his neck.

Lightning rolled her eyes. "Hope, you slipped—it's not like you fell asleep during your watch and let a pack of Amams maul us in our sleep. Chin up." She tightened her grip on the bag that was beginning to show the wear of water on paper and started forward again. "It helps if you pick up your feet."

The gentle amber glow of the street lamps softly illuminated their snow-covered path and Hope was mesmerized by the serene quietness and the leisurely fall of the thick snowflakes. Fighting a yawn, he let out a tiny whoosh of breath instead and on a rather childish impulse, linked arms with the female soldier beside him, snuggling his cheek onto her shoulder; he felt her tense up. He knew it was a daring move and half-expected to be shoved back and reprimanded. But truth be told, he was still a boy missing his mother's affections and the tranquil atmosphere only brought it out of him. If Mom would be here, she'd hold me. And the thought suddenly made him sad.

Her footsteps were automatic and her mind whirled with suggestions of how to respond. She too, had been swept by peaceful surrounding, but the clinging to her arm abruptly pulled her head from the clouds. She glanced at the head of platinum locks resting on her shoulder and moved her arm a little. "You cold?"

"A little," came the muffled reply.

"Well…I'll make some hot chocolate when we get home, ok? We're almost there." Hot chocolate…way to be caring. The bag was starting to get heavy and she wanted to switch arms. She also had the urge to shake the snow from her hair; it had started to drip down her back. "Hey Hope—" her next words were cut off as Hope was suddenly wrenched from her and she was thrown to her knees by a force so strong her lungs were temporarily unable to fill with air.


The paper bag tore before it hit the ground, its contents spilling out; a few cans rolling down the bank. Lightning forced herself to look up, bracing herself on one leg. What the…? At the sight in front of her, her blood grew cold with numbing fear before becoming scalded by her boiling rage.

Hope was bent back at a nearly impossible angle and behind him, a man dressed in black, a hood shadowing his face. But what caught her eye was the glint of metal against the fourteen-year-old's exposed neck; the teal scarf held down by thick fingers.

"LET HIM GO!" Quicker than a flash, Lightning drew out her gunblade, swinging it above her head and freezing in an instant as a bright red line appeared on Hope's neck. Her jaw clenched as her knuckles turned white from the vice-like grip on her weapon. She seemed to turn to ice.

The man chuckled, reveling in the way the soldier seemed to freeze and radiate such seething anger and hate. His malicious grin grew wider not because she narrowed her icy blue eyes at him, but because of the sliver of fear he saw in them. In all his years, he'd thought he'd never see the day. And he wanted to see more. "So, now we know the one who has been thawing your heart, Farron." He pressed the blade against the bleeding wound, eliciting a whimper from the teenager.

"Stop it!" She rushed forward, only stopping again when the man moved back. She felt movement behind her and knew that he wasn't alone. She locked eyes with Hope for a second and felt her heart tear at the confusion, panic and agony in them; they were watching her, pleading for her to do something. I'll keep you safe… Her own words echoed back to her. She had failed to do that. "Hope, it'll be ok," she tried reassure soothingly. Her heart panged when he tried to nod, his eyes wide and fearful, but trusting her. She directed her stern gaze at the stranger. "Who are you and what do you want?"

He gave another dry chuckle. "Are you sure you're in the position to be confirming this l'cie's state? You should know who I am, Farron, but what do I want? To rid the new world of the ones who murdered Cocoon!"

So this is what this is about. "We're not l'cie anymore! And we saved Cocoon, haven't you heard? If it weren't for us, there would've been more l'cie made to do what we did. Your primar—"

"Enough! You will pay for what you've done—one by one." The hooded-man took another step backward.

Lightning glanced around, eyeing the three big men behind her. Was there no one else out? No one to witness what was happening? There was obviously no way to reason with this man, not without him hurting Hope. Which he was bold enough to show… If she attacked, Hope was gone. She had never felt so out of control. "Then let him go and take me!"

"Oh, but he's the perfect bait…we take him in front of your very helpless eyes...and you'll be sure to play chase, and the others will follow."

He couldn't take it anymore. He struggled, trying to worm himself out of the man's grasp, wincing as the man dug the blade harder into his skin. He felt faint as warm blood started a steady trickle down his neck. It was getting hard to breathe. "Light," he managed to cry. He thought he wasn't seeing right when he saw something sparkle down her cheek. No, don't cry…don't cry because of me.

"You have ninety-six hours to find him until we dispose of him." The man gave a nod and the three men briskly stepped forward; two of them grabbing her arms, wrenching her gunblade away and tossing it on the ground, and the other one, tightening his hands around her throat.

The captor threw his hood back and Lightning's eyes widened. "You!" she hissed, gasping for breath as the hands squeezed. She started thrashing as a black car pulled up and Hope was dragged away. Her heart filled with dread. "You'll pay for this—let him go! LET HIM GO!" She was panting now, her eyes unique to that of a crazy woman. "Hope!"

"You'll find me, I know you will, Light!" It was suddenly impossible for Hope to breathe as Lightning was kicked to the ground; he caught a glimpse of a syringe. "Lightning! Leave her alone you bastards!" He yelped as he was forced into the car. No, this can't be happening!

Feeling the sharp pain in her neck, Lightning's world was rapidly growing dim. Her body thudded against the ground once more, her cheek pressed against the cold, burning snow. Each breath was labored. Hope… She barely heard the screech of tires. The echo of his scream was so faint and distorted, her mind gave up on figuring it out. …Where'd you…go? The suffocating warmth stilled her and she gave up on everything else.

Oh noes, what happens next? Review, read and find out!