As per the norm with fanfics, anything you recognize probably doesn't belong to me. Most characters herein, as well as any and all things from Final Fantasy belong to Square Enix and are only portrayed here as a fanwork with no infringement intended.

Chapter 1

She had no idea where it came from. She'd thought it had been destroyed when Cocoon fell. Yet here it was, newly polished and gleaming like new. Well, not entirely new. It still had a few of the small scratches where it had been repaired, but they were hardly noticeable.

She ran her hands along the top of the piano, almost in disbelief of its existence.

"Looks great doesn't it?" Serah's voice startled her enough to make her jump and turn, looking rather like the kid caught with their hand in the cookie jar.

"How..?" She turned back to the piano, once again placing her hands flat on the smooth finish. "I mean.. it should have been destroyed.."

"NORA's been put on contract to do some scavenger runs.. it's why Snow's been so busy." Serah stepped up next to her sister, then past her to sit on the matching bench. "They had a run to Bodhum a few weeks ago.." She lifted the cover off the keys and set it back into a resting position. "Snow got a little sentimental and took the opportunity to check on the places he knew. He went to our house to get these.." She reached into the bag she had slung over her shoulder as Light came to sit next to her on the bench. Light took the offered photo album from her with shaking hands. "He said he saw the piano too, and he knew how important it was to me."

"So he.. brought it home? How did it even survive?" She couldn't work up the nerve to open the album as she clutched it to her chest. The Farron history wasn't lost after all. Their parents weren't limited to their memory anymore. It had taken too many years to get this far.

"Well!" She clapped her hands together lightly and smiled, obviously proud of what her beau had done. "He had to get the others to help him move it and see if it was even salvageable. It was cracked along the top and two legs were busted." Light could see where the repair had been made to the top, though she had to search for it. Whoever had repaired it had done a very, very good job. "As it turns out, Lebreau knows a guy who worked on pianos. She met him through one of the musicians that had played at the Cafe I guess. He was more than happy to repair it and he didn't charge much."

Light was still in a bit of shock. The Piano had been their mother's. It had survived in the house when the sisters had been small and it was one of the few things Lightning felt she could still share with her mother; a love of music.

She had taught them both to play, though Light had picked up on it much faster since she had more interest. It wasn't until their mother had fallen ill that Serah started to pay more attention. Once they were alone, it was Light who ultimately taught her to play as well as she did now, though the lessons were few and far between.

But it wasn't just work and trying to raise her that had kept Light from playing. Claire had been hurt by their parents' deaths, and she couldn't find a way to express that while protecting Serah. So Claire had kept her emotions to herself, sealing them away and turning into what would eventually become Lightning.

Serah watched as Light set the album down and move her fingers reverently over the keys.

"I know it's kinda late after everything happened.. but I thought," she gave a half shrug, "you might need it now, with Fang gone."

"She'll be back." She stated confidently.

Serah nodded. "But in the meantime."

Nyx crept out from the hall and over to settle next to Light on the bench. She'd been sleeping in Fang's room but as usual she appeared whenever the Pulsian's name was spoken. "Mew?" Serah moved from the bench to pick her up.

"You're so adorable!" She snuggled the kitten as Light rolled her eyes. She was still convinced the feline was a con artist.

Nyx was just the distraction Light needed to get away from the piano. As Serah was occupied with the critter, she closed the cover over the keys and pulled the white sheet over the piano to cover it, as it had been when she found it.

"You're not going to play?" Serah pouted a little as she and Nyx both stared at her with sad eyes.

"Tch. The others will be here soon. You distracted me from getting everything ready."

"Oh right!" Serah brightened again and skipped toward the kitchen. "I'll help!"

Light rolled her eyes again as she followed.

As the week had rolled on, it became apparent that the entire group was feeling the loss of Fang. It had been Snow's idea to have a little get together, to support each other as they 'got past the rough part.'

Light wasn't sure if 'the rough part' was going to go away for her. At first she thought she'd be ok, but with each day she felt Fang's absence more and more. She expected the entire time she was gone she was going to feel it. But some part of her admitted that she'd been lonely; lonely enough to actually agree with Snow, and even offer to have the get together at her place. Since they were working on adding a room to their own home, Serah and Snow had happily taken her up on the offer.

Not even a week. It already seemed longer.

She slid the glass door leading to the back yard open. The lush grass and other plant life around the sizable yard was still a bit unusual for Oerba.

When she had first returned to Oerba after the Fall, the whole yard had been a layer of rocky, dried out soil. The crystal dust that had covered Oerba for 500 years had smothered most of the plant life and the soil had dried out. With the crystal dust gone the greenery had slowly begun to return. Hardy plants had come first since the soil wasn't very hospitable, but once people began working with it and fertilizing it, other plants had been able to make their home there. They still had to bring in many plants manually, but with each passing month, Oerba came more alive.

Light hadn't really noticed at first. She'd been too busy helping people find their place in this new world. When Fang and Vanille awoke they had nowhere to go and no money or assets with which to forge their way in a Cocoon based society. Light had offered for them to stay with her and Serah until they could get themselves started. They had agreed and in the time that they stayed there, they had transformed Light's barren back yard into a beautiful area to relax, as well as a place for friends to get together. Light had been so busy at the time, she hadn't even noticed until they were nearly finished. Once Fang started working with the Corps and they moved into their own place, they had still made the effort to attend the plants. It was mostly Vanille; Fang had been just as busy as Light for a while.

With Fang's absence, the yard had become her favorite place to sit. In her free time, she would relax in her lounge chair beneath the umbrella with Nyx curled up next to her or on her lap.

Now, it would be the main space of the eminent party. Snow had gone a little overboard on the invites and the entire extended family would be in attendance. She had relented perhaps a little too easily, but she felt the need to be around friends. Besides, she had the room and now she wanted to thank them in some way for their efforts with the piano, even if she couldn't -wouldn't- simply tell them so.

She busied herself with getting the fire going as Serah set up some portable tables on the stone patio. Tonight they would cook campfire style; more or less in homage of their trip through the wilds of Gran Pulse when they all got to know each other as family.

She heard an air bike settle out front and turned to see Serah dash from the kitchen toward the front door. "I got it!" Light dusted off her hands as she followed to help. She knew it would be Vanille and Lebreau; they had volunteered to bring the majority of the food.

As she stepped out the front door, she could see Lebreau and Serah struggling with a large cooler. Vanille was collecting a few bags from the back but paused to wave to Light as she approached.

Vanille had been somewhat surprising. Each day since Fang left, she had spent time with Light. Light suspected it was in effort to help them both and soothe over the loss as much as they could. Vanille had mostly stopped crying but everyone knew she was feeling Fang's loss the most. In turn, the two had been meeting in the evenings, just to talk over dinner; bonding. Light had to admit Vanille wasn't as annoying to her as she used to be and she even enjoyed her company.

"How much did you bring?" She asked, motioning for Serah to help Vanille as she moved to help Lebreau with the cooler.

"Enough, hopefully!" Lebreau laughed as they finally freed it. Light lifted one side by the handle as she got the other. "Brought the alcohol too," she grinned.

Light nodded as they carried the cooler inside, followed by the younger girls carrying the bags. Once in the kitchen, they worked together to unpack everything and take stock. Indeed, they had brought most of the food and plenty of alcohol. Light raised a brow at the sheer amount of bottles they were unpacking onto the table they'd set up to use as the bar. "What'd you do, pack up the entire bar?"

Lebreau laughed. "A good portion of it. I figured it was worth it." She shrugged, "It's no more than they'd drink if I had open bar at the cafe." She took the empty cooler and cleaned it out, then started putting ice into it. "It's mostly just beer anyhow."

Vanille bounced back inside; looking in better spirits than Light had seen her all week. "I've got to prep the meat. We ended up getting bigger pieces than we were going to, so they'll take longer to cook." Light moved out of her way and helped carry the cooler filled with ice outside to the 'bar', where Lebreau and Serah began burying the beer bottles in the ice.

Leaving them to that, she headed back inside to help Vanille. They worked in silence for awhile. Vanille continued cutting the partially butchered hunks, every so often tossing a small piece onto a plate she'd set aside for Nyx.

"Do you think she's ok?" Vanille asked softly, the sadness seeping into her voice.

Since her hands were covered in raw meat, Light pushed her lightly with her hip. "No doubts. She's fine. She'll be fine. She'll come home."

Vanille nodded, but didn't comment as she cut into another piece of the meat. "..How long do you think she'll be out there?"

Light paused, her own knife stilled against the cutting board. "I.. I'm not sure. We didn't really discuss how long she'd be gone."


"If she's gone more than a few months," she stated, staring blankly at the knife in her hand, "I'm going after her."

Vanille lit up. If she hadn't been holding raw meat, Light was certain she would have hugged her. It was enough for her to lean over and rest her head against Light's arm for a moment. Lightning understood her gratitude.

The music was loud; Snow's somewhat drunken voice even louder. Light was glad she'd had the foresight to not only warn her neighbors about the party but invite them to join in. Normally, it might have bothered her that what had started out as more or less family gathering had become more of a block party. Well, at least she could say their neighbors liked them.

The food had long since been cooked and placed on a table for everyone to get as they wished, leaving the fire pit to used for a small bon fire. She tossed a few more logs in as she surveyed the social interaction around her.

Snow, as usual, was holding court over most of NORA, and several other young men from the neighborhood who had ventured into the festivities. 'Several women too,' Light noted several girls around Snow who seemed entirely too taken with him. Serah seemed on top of the situation though, as she stayed close to him and was talking rather amicably with some of the group.

More surprisingly to her, Vanille's crowd was beginning to rival Snow's. It seemed they were interested in her stories of Gran Pulse, ages ago; specifically, tales of the ancient version of their new home.

Light knew that most of the people in Oerba had settled there partially because it was small and mostly quiet, and partially in show of their support of the ex-l'cie. Light had been confused over it at first, but had come to accept their views and was grateful for them. Oerba may be bigger than it had been in its previous life, but it was still a fairly small town, and most of those who lived there knew everyone else.

It reminded her of Bodhum, which was somehow comforting. A good deal of the people who had settled there were from Bodhum as well, also looking for the comfort of something like home. And just like Bodhum, Oerba was looking very much like it was going to become a seaside tourist trap. Talk had even gone around about reviving the fireworks display that Bodhum had put on each year.

But one notable thing was different, as stated by Serah and pretty much everyone else who knew her from Bodhum; Light was more sociable. In Bodhum, she'd known the names of her neighbors, but she'd rarely ever spoken to them. Here, people weren't afraid to approach her. Her temper was well known though and usually conversations were kept friendly and short, leaving her the control to continue it or move on to whatever duties she had to attend.

Fang had a lot to do with that. Fang, when not anxious about some worry or another, was openly sociable and found it easy to make friends. She was helpful to the elderly and quick to defend anyone who lived on what she considered her turf.

At first, Light had found the thought of being so open with everyone rather intimidating, but the more she was around Fang when she was being sociable, the easier she found it to fall into the same type of role. Though Light admitted Fang was much better with kids than she was. Light had found she was quick to lose her patience with most children under the age of ten. It wasn't that she didn't like them, she just felt incredibly awkward around them. She thought it might be because of how she'd disconnected herself from her childhood when her parents died. She was still working on that. She felt it may never get better; the damage was done, but she would try. After all, if Serah and Snow had kids, she'd be expected to take part in their lives and for that alone, she would try. 'Just.. not tonight.' she mused, sipping her beer.

Luckily for her, Sazh and Dadj were entertaining most of the kids, and making sure they stayed out of the alcohol.

As it got later, people started leaving. Most made sure to seek her out and thank her for her hospitality. It was.. refreshing. She was all smiles for everyone, thanking them for coming and wishing them a safe trip home; short as it may or may not be.

Soon enough, the music was shut down and most of NORA made their exit as well. Light said goodnight to them as Sazh and Hope put out the fire. Once everything was settled, cleaned up, or moved into the kitchen to deal with in the morning, they moved inside. The Pulsan night was too cold to be comfortable without the fire. Everyone filed in ahead as Light hesitated a moment, her gaze turning toward the crystallized husk of Cocoon, then toward the mountains in the north. "Be safe.." she murmured to herself before stepping inside and sliding the glass door closed.

Those that remained had gathered in the living room. All that remained was close family; Serah, Snow, Vanille and her Husband, Sazh, Dadj and Hope. Light sat down as Serah and Vanille passed out glasses of wine to everyone except Dadj, who had juice. When they finished, everyone held up their glass in a toast. "To family; those present and passed on." Light said, a prayer of sorts that was always spoken at their gatherings in remembrance. It was repeated by the group, and then together, they added, "To Fang."