A/N: Hi everyone. This is my first attempt at a fanfiction, far-a-less a FFXIII fanfiction. I've tried to keep everyone in character, but there may be the occasional slip up as needed to fit with the story. Comments and reviews are much appreciated. Enjoy!
November 1, 2010: I decided to change the story title from The Unspoken to Finding Home. I feel this is a much better description of the story to come.
Disclaimer: There are end game spoilers included in this piece. If you don't like spoilers, don't read ahead.
Disclaimer: The characters and the worlds I write in do not belong to me. The stories that I write are intended for entertainment purposes. I do not make any money from them.
*** ~ Chapter 1: Will you be okay? ~ ***
There was not a day which passed by that she didn't think of them. Their laughter. Their life. Their sacrifice. How long had it been since that fateful day? The day that Cocoon fell from the sky and everything changed…
This is as much as we can do. The rest is up to you.
Whether by quick thinking or pure devotion to their new family, Cocoon was saved, held high in the sky by a stem of crystal which wrapped around Cocoon like a closed rosebud. But that miracle was not without its sacrifices.
When prayers turn to promises, not even fate can stand in their way.
Serah was saved. That was what she set out to do, right? Free her sister from the crystal bounds that held her. Free her from the hold of that wretched fal'Cie. But it had never occurred to Lighting the cost of it all.
The silver haired boy held on for dear life, just a few branches below where she sat. Lightning was on watch at this very moment, high up in one of the taller trees that bordered New Oerba.
It took them months to get this far. When they defeated Orphan, and Cocoon dropped from the sky, the fal'Cie disappeared without a trace leaving the survivors confused and scared. Gran Pulse was now their home, and having always had the fal'Cie to provide everything for them, people were lost.
With no government to tell them what to do anymore, PSICOM and the Guard Corps merged together to create a single entity, the sole force of protection the survivors had against the beasts of Gran Pulse. Without the fal'Cie around anymore, anything magically inclined stopped working as well. That being almost everything. No one ever stopped to consider just how dependent they were on the fal'Cie, not until they were gone. Funny how that worked out.
"Hope! What are you doing down there?"
Hope laughed nervously looking up at the pink haired soldier. "It didn't look so bad from the ground" the boy said, gripping the tree trunk with a white knuckled grip. "But now that I'm up this far, it's just a bit scary. Hehehe…"
The withdrawal of magic from their world was not immediate. They were able to use the transport carriers for another month or two before they were no longer operational. And even though their brands were gone, the former l'Cie could still tap into their magical abilities. But as time continued on, their abilities started to fade as well. They weren't completely gone yet, but it now took a lot more effort to summon them anytime they needed them. And soon, they would no longer be able to use magic at all.
"Are you trying to get yourself killed?" Lightning scolded the boy, but there was no malice in her voice.
"I was just coming up to tell you that dinner was ready" Hope said. He tried to inch up the tree a bit further but didn't get very far before he slipped down a foot and let out a yelp.
Living up to her name, Lightning zipped down to Hope like a flash of lightning. She caught the boy by the wrist before he slipped any further, holding onto one of the upper branches with her free arm and balancing her feet vertical on the tree trunk.
"You really gotta show me your secret" Hope said in exasperation, an attempt to lighten the mood despite his current predicament. "Seriously. You scramble through the trees just as fast as a Cactuar scrambles away from you."
"I shall take that… as a compliment… I think…" Lightning grunted as she heaved her young charge up to a thick branch where they both were able to regain their footing and sit down. Had it been anyone else, she probably would have kicked them down the tree. The only exception to that would be Serah.
Hope held his chest hunched over and panting. "T-thanks…"
"Are you hurt?"
Silver locks swirled left and right as Hope shook his head. "I probably would have been if you didn't save me down there." The young one blushed in embarrassment.
Lightning gave her friend a half smile, something that happened more and more as of late. It was not something she openly admitted to anyone and they typically didn't show up around anyone except for Serah and now Hope. Though on occasion, it did make an appearance when Snow's back was turned.
"Looking up at Cocoon again?" Hope said, turning his gaze skywards. "I was shouting at you about dinner, but you didn't seem to hear me. That is why I started to climb up the tree in the first place."
The now crystallized Cocoon could be seen from pretty much anywhere on Gran Pulse. Taller and larger than the missing-in-action fal'Cie Titan, it was very hard to miss.
Lightning sighed inwardly. She had been caught. Turning her gaze upwards, her eyes settled on her former home once again. Hope glanced over to her, noticing the flicker of sadness in her eyes. But he said nothing. Something she was very thankful for. Aside from Serah, he seemed to be the only one who understood how she was feeling. The loneliness. The sorrow. The guilt.
She had saved Serah, her only blood relative left, yes. But in doing so, she had lost two members of her new family as well. Fang and Vanille. Surely there was something that she could have done differently. There must have been something she missed or overlooked or just… just… She didn't know. All she knew was that until Fang and Vanille came back to them, there would be this giant, unending void inside of her. But they would come back. They had to.
They had to…
Lightning snapped out of her thoughts and turned back to Hope. "Hmm?"
"They'll come back… Vanille and Fang … right?"
For a moment, all Lightning saw in Hope's eyes was despair. But he quickly squashed it and replaced it with a sad smile. She wasn't the only one hurting. Hope was missing them just as much as she was. Having grown up all alone, being passed back and forth between mother and father, Hope wasn't sure what a real family felt like. Not until he encountered Vanille did he truly understand the feeling of family.
The orange haired girl with pigtails was like a big sister he never had. The fact that she looked around his age and was five years his senior didn't change anything. At first, he wasn't too sure what to make of her. Bubbly. Seemingly ditzy. Though Fang did scare him quite a bit. But soon enough, before he even realized what happened, they were family. And never did he ever think they would be separated. Just like Lightning.
"Of course they will" Lightning said, a small tremble in her voice. "They just need some time. That's all…"
The normally stoic soldier forced a smile, hoping it enough to reassure the broken hearted boy. But was it really to reassure him, or was it to reassure herself?
"One of these days, when we're least expecting it, they'll show up. I'm sure of it."
Lightning ruffled Hope's hair playfully. "Stop frowning Hope, it doesn't suit you."
"H-hey! Watch the hair!"
Lightning chuckled. "Since when did you become so vain?"
"I'm not" Hope said trying to bat away her hand, just as playfully.
"Oyyyyyyyyyyyyye!" came the sound of a third voice, much to Lightning's annoyance. "Sis, you up there?"
Lightning rolled her eyes. "I'm on watch Snow. What do you want?" Lightning peered over the edge of the branch they sat on, trying to spot the hooligan that was her future brother-in-law.
"Is Hope with you? Bartholomew is looking for him."
"Dad is?" Hope looked down at Snow also. Being so high up, Snow was about the size of his hand. "Oh fal'Cie! I forgot!"
Lightning raised an eyebrow at Hope.
"I was supposed to help Dad with gathering supplies when I got back. Oops..."
"You should head back then" Lightning said, putting a hand on his shoulder and giving it a gentle squeeze. "You don't want to keep him waiting now. He must have been worried if he sent that oaf to come find you." She nodded in Snow's direction.
"What was that?" Snow shouted. He heard the two say something, but he couldn't quite make out what.
"He's coming down" Lightning shouted almost immediately in return. She rolled her eyes again.
"I still can't believe I gave Serah my blessings to married this guy…" Lightning mumbled to herself.
"Will you be okay?" Hope looked at his adopted mother of sorts, a deep concern in his eyes.
"I won't be up here too much lon-"
"No Light" Hope said reaching out to hold her hand. "That's not what I meant. Will you be okay?"
Lightning initially stiffened, feeling Hope's gloved hand on her own. But she soon relaxed and mentally kicked herself. He was worried about her. The seemingly uncaring, disconnected-from-emotion mask she typically wore was slipping. Either that, or Hope had become damn good at reading her. Or maybe it was both. Whatever it was, he was worried about her.
Lighting put her free hand over his. "Don't worry about me Hope" she said. "I'll be alright. I just… I just need some time too…"
Hope nodded, seeming to understand what she meant. He squeezed her hand softly.
"Oyyyyyyyyye!" came the annoying voice again. "Hope! What's the matter buddy? You stuck up there or something?"
"If you're in such a rush for him to come down, why don't you climb up here and get him yourself?" Lightning growled back. Lightning removed her hand from Hope's.
Snow laughed. "If I was your size, I would. But I'm a little bigger than you and I don't think the tree could handle me." The large oaf that was Snow punched his right fist into his open left palm. A grin widened over his face as if he entertained Lightning's very suggestion.
"I don't think there's a lot of things that could handle you" Lighting muttered under her breath.
Hope smiled, having heard Lightning's remark.
That was Lightning for you.
"I'm coming!" the boy said, stopping any further yelling on Snow's part.
For a good few seconds afterwards, there was an awkward silence as both Lightning and Hope stared down at Snow.
"You don't know how to get down, do you?"
"Ehehehe…" Hope scratched the back of his head wearily. "Not a clue."
Lightning sighed. This was going to be a long night.