TT-TT I'm sooooo horribly sorry for the long update-less span! We had three computers break down at once...It's been like that for the last few months, and unfortunately, my laptop needs new parts, I still don't know what's wrong with my desktop, and the other laptop is just plain toast. And now that I've got more time on my hands, I can at least write it all out in a notebook... I've also been working on It Starts With One, so don't worry, that one's not dead! The next chapter's almost done, so it'll be up soon!

Anyway, this chapter was a LOT of fun to write! Actually, I wrote most of this while either listening to the soundtrack, or while my friend was playing XIII... So much love! 3

Disclaimer: I don't own any other the characters or anything like that.

"Serah, is this really necessary?"

"Of course it is, Light! We have to have the baby shower perfectly planned out!"

"…even though you have seven and a half months left?"


This was how Lightning was to spend her afternoon today. She had set out to do some quick middle-of-the-week shopping, and had run into Serah in the fresh produce section. The two finished their shopping together, and the younger sibling had then deemed it time to head home and plan her baby shower. They now sat on the living room floor of Serah's house surrounded by magazines and notebooks. A long list of food was to Light's left, and a list of appropriate party games was to her right.

"Okay, so the color scheme will be as follows: if it's a boy, dark forest green and pale yellow. If it's a girl, burgundy and pale pink. If we don't know, it'll be neutral pastels. I refuse to subject my child to the standard boy/girl blue and pink. We'll finalize the menu closer to the date, and we'll send the invitations out a week from Tuesday."

"Have you made the guest list?"

"…put that down on our 'to-do' list. Now…there's one more issue…."

"That being..?"

"Can we have it at your place..?"

"…uh…w-why not at your house?"

"Well…Snow and the guys will be building something g in the baby's room, but it's a surprise…I need to stay out of the house, so…I figured, why not have the shower then, and stay the night at your house?"

"…can't he do it another time? That way you could use the house..."

"No…he's being a stubborn brute again… Snow said that can only see this surprise of his after the baby shower's done… Please..? It's just one day, and I'll clean everything up, I promise!"

"…there….there's..not enough room! Yeah! My apartment's much too small for a party."

"Don't you live in the Phoenix High-Rise complex? Those apartments are pretty spacey…"

"…um…w-well, I just got…I have a roommate, so I wouldn't want to bother hi-her…"

"…eh? Well, they can come, too! It'll be fun!"

"…here. How about I find an alternative location? Like Lebreau's? Or Fang and Vanille's?"

"Fang and Vanille's…pet will scare everyone off. You know that. And Lebreau lives above her bar. There's nowhere else….a-and we can't afford to rent out a place with everything else…"

"…well…we've got six months to plan, so…we'll figure something out."

"What's the problem with having it here?" Hope stood at the counter across from Light, carefully chopping up fresh vegetables for their dinner. "I wouldn't mind. Besides, I'm supposed to help Snow that day."

"That's not the point, Hope! …okay, maybe it is, but I can't impose on you!"

Hope set the knife down, and gave the pink-haired woman a stern gaze. "Light, just let your damned pride go for once. I'll let Serah know she can have it here, and everything will be fine."

"It's not that simple, Ho-"

"Lightning. Let it go. So what if you live with me? Quite frankly, I've never felt more comfortable in my own apartment before. And I can tell you feel that way, too." Hope opened his mouth to continue, but was stopped by a knock at the door. He cradled her face in his hands and gave her a warm smile. "I trust you can put the salad together while I get the door?"

She gave him a weak glare, but smiled. "Yeah, I think I can handle that. I'll work on the table, too…" Light slipped out of his hold to move to the table, giving Hope the chance to answer the door.

When he swung open the beautifully carved cherry wood door, he was slightly surprised to be looking down at the younger Farron, who was holding a few grocery bags. "…this…isn't right, is it? I asked the doorman which number hers was, but he gave me yours… Do you know which apartment is Light's? She left some groceries at my house…though it's a little odd, cause she can't cook, so why would she buy this stuff..?" As Serah rambled on, her sister crept around Hope to confirm her suspicions.

"…Lightning, talk to your sister. I need to finish dinner." Hope removed himself from the doorway, to reveal the older Farron behind him.

"Light…? What're you-"

"I'll take these…they need to be refrigerated…"

"….Lightning? Why are you at Hope's? Are you-…Light, are you on a date~?" Though, as Serah took in her sister's somewhat fashionable sweats and a t-shirt, that theory was quickly vetoed. "I'm…confused, Light. I won't lie."

Her voice was slightly muffled with her head in the fridge, but Serah could still make out those three words. "…you live here? You live here…with…Hope? F...for how long? A-are…are you two..together?"

As soon as the word left Serah's mouth, a loud thunk could be heard from the kitchen, followed by a curse. Light came into the room with Hope's hand attached to an ice pack on her head, and a light shimmer of red on her cheeks. "This isn't necessary, Hope…"

"No, a big bump's gonna form… You'll have a headache soon… I'll go get you some pain killers or something…" Hope left the room, leaving the sisters alone.

"So…you like it here? Is he treating you well? ! Are you two sharing a room? Ahh, this is wonderful!" She hopped up to capture her sister in a tight hug, and skipped over to the door. "I think I'll head home now, Sis~! I'll see you two tomorrow night~!" Serah gave her sister a look the seemed to know a little too much, and rushed through the door.

"Here you go, Light… Where'd your sister go?" Hope pushed a glass of water and a capsule into her hands. "She must have been busy… I was gonna invite her to join us for dinner…"

"Thanks, but I don't think she would have stayed…"

"Why's that?"

"She's sharp. Wants things to progress along. You'll figure it out soon enough, Hope. Hopefully I will, too…"

"Happy birthday…sorry I haven't stopped by in a while…" Lightning found herself a little off the path of the park, sitting cross-legged on the ground in front of her mother's grave. "Everything's so weird right now…I could really use your advice, mom…" She placed a small bouquet of sunburst lilies on the warm, sun-lit stone. "I mean, Serah's married now, and pregnant with her first kid…. It's with that Snow guy Serah told you about… The house belongs to them, now, so it's still in the family… It suits them better, anyway…y'know, big enough for raising a family…

"I'm living in the Felix High-Rise complex with this guy named Hope now…well…he's not just 'some guy,' though. He's a tall, handsome, kind man… I don't know how, but he gets to me like no one else can. It's not in a bad way, though. He kind of levels me out, y'know? Since Snow started taking over my job, I've not really known what to do or how to feel about much…I mean, after you left, I took full responsibility of Serah, but now…now that's Snow's job. He takes care of her and loves her and treats her well, so don't worry. But Hope's seemed to fill whatever it was I lost when Snow took over… I know I like him…a lot, actually, but I'm not quite sure what to do about it… I didn't really have time for the whole 'high-school romance' thing, so it's not like I've got any experience under my belt, but…well, I think Serah's taken notice…and you know how Serah's mind works when it comes to this sort of stuff.

"We've gone on a coupe dates already, and I think he's planning another one soon… I saw a note about dinner reservations sitting on the dryer the other day. I'm actually kind of excited about it, to be honest! I'll need a few new outfits if we keep going to such nice restaurants… I mean, I've got nice business-like outfits for work, but that's…work. Which come to think of it, I think Hope's getting a little annoyed at our boss… Raine's been flirting with me ever since the job interview… I'd punch him, but Hope worked so hard to get me this job. It wouldn't be right or kind of me to just throw that away…"


"Huh?" The pinkette glanced in the direction of the melodic voice to find Hope, standing by an almond tree with a beautiful bouquet of flowers in his hands. "What brings you here..?"

"Just came to visit my mom… Do you mind me asking why..?"

Lightning smiled, and shook her head. She hopped up off the ground and gently grabbed onto Hope's hand, pulling him forward. "Hope, I'd like you to meet my mom…and to her left is my dad… I know I didn't really know him that much, but I think he'd like you…I know mom would."

"Yeah? Good. Well, it's certainly a pleasure to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Farron. I'll take good care of her, I promise." Hope flashed a warm smile at the grave stones, and plucked a white daisy from his bouquet. "I know it's not much, but y'know… Are sunburst lilies her favorite, too?"

"Yeah…wait, too? How'd you figure out what my favorite flower is?"

"Serah told me. She thought I'd try to get you red roses, since you think they're—"

"Lovely, but overdone. I mean, they're pretty, yeah, but there's no variation in it and it's just not as romantic to me… They don't seem very personal, either…just generic, I guess."

"Excellent! I…hope you don't have plans this Saturday… I know you're going shopping with the girls on Friday… You might just have to have them pick out a dress or two for you! Don't worry about money, though. I'll buy you whatever you want."

"Hope…you've gotta stop buying me things. I'm running out of ways to pay you back!"

"Lightning…we've already settled this. So…how often do you come here…?"

"Oh…well…I used to come here all the time, but with everything that's been going on… I'd like to visit more often…"

"Let's do that, then. I come here every Wednesday afternoon… If you want, you can come with me. In fact…if you're done, I'd like you to meet someone." Hope pulled the slender woman off the ground, offering her resting parents a smile. He led her past a few rows of stones by the hand, and stopped in front of a beautifully cut grave. "Light…this is Nora, my mother…"

"Oh…yes, I remember her picture… She was beautiful… You look a lot like her… O-oh, but you're more handsome than anything… I love the color of your hair, to be honest…"

"What? No, it makes me look old…"

"No, no! It looks good on you… I don't think any other color would fit you… It goes well with the beautiful brightness of your eyes. And your warm, comforting smile brings everything together… It's like every feature sounds a different note, but all together…altogether, you're like a symphony to the senses…to my senses…"

"….Light..?" Hope placed one hand on her shoulder and one on her hip, turning her to face him. "Lightning…your features can't even compare to mine… Your eyes are such a beautiful color, and the serenity they hold…well, it's no match for mine. When I first met you, they held such anger, such…distaste for the world around you…but now… Now they're so calm, like…like something..or someone entered your life, and calmed those rough, blue seas. I wonder…was that me? Did I bring out the true beauty in your eyes? Did I bring a wave of peace to the unhappy and unsettling chaos in your heart..?" The hand on her shoulder slowly moved to cradle her cheek, and he reveled in how soft and delicate the rose-colored flesh was. "Has anyone ever made you smile like this, Light..? When I make you smile, you can see happiness spread from cheek to cheek, all the way into your eyes… When I think about someone else making you smile like that, someone else would be making you so happy, I…"


"It's not someone else's job to make you happy. I know no one else could make you feel this way… Ever since Serah first told us about you, ever since she first showed me your picture, I knew that there was something only I could do… A-and..just think, Light…if I can make you this happy now, if I can make you smile this much, then… I know how I feel. I don't want this to be something temporary, something that will just fizzle out…and I know that you're probably scared, and I want to help you through that…" He pressed his forehead against hers, and smiled at the warmth in her eyes. "I don't think I've ever felt anything quite this strong for anyone else…"

Lightning closed small distance between the two in a kiss, and circled her arms around him. She could feel a tingling sensation burst from her heart, and shivered as it traveled all the way to her fingertips. She could feel him smirk into her lips, and she almost laughed. What were they doing her, confessing their feelings in words and kisses in front of his mother's grave? The more she thought about it, the more she realized that it didn't matter. The more their lips collided in soft, gentle touches, the more she realized that didn't matter where they were, and that it would have made Nora, Hope's mother, happy to see her son so happy.

Well, there you go! Between school, writing, knitting, playing XIII-2, and restarting XIII, I've become a zombie of sorts. And quite frankly, I'm fine with that. I'm doing what I love~