Cursed for some and blessed for a few…

Vanille jumped up and down excitedly as she waved to Hope, who was coming out of Social Studies room down the hall. He didn't appear to be too happy about something.

I wonder what's wrong? Vanille thought as she began to walk down the soon-to-be crowed hallway.

Hope Estiem walked out of the classroom at Eden High very tired. His head was down low and he seemed out of it, and Vanille was met with silence when she offered a very heartfelt greeting.

"Hope? Are you okay?"

The fifteen year old looked up at his friend, who was a Junior, and shook his head, "Sorry Vanille, just stayed up late last night, studying for that test."

"You mean the one your dad wanted you to pass so you wouldn't fail the class?"

A simple nod gave her the answer. "I barely passed, but…"

"Oh, cheer up little Hope, things will look up once you're energized."

Hope ran a hand through his silver hair, wondering what Vanille was talking about. Lunch wasn't much of an appetizer and dinner was light years away. "What—"

Vanille grabbed him by his right hand, dragging him down the hall as Hope tried to keep a firm hold on his books to no avail as they started to fall on the floor.

After getting his stuff back in possession, Vanille was able to drag Hope to a vending machine in the lobby, beverages and candy bars galore in three of the large machines. However, there was a third machine that held more nutritional drinks like fruit juices and milks in plastic bottles.

That was Vanille's target, depositing some gil and pressing a button for a drink. Hope didn't see what she got, as his eyes were watching for anyone else. As students, he and Vanille were not allowed in the lobby during the school day, even if it was the last period. They could get in great trouble, but Vanille didn't seem to care either way.

Out popped a drink of some sorts, and Hope saw out of the corner of his eye that it was chocolate milk.


Hope turned to Vanille, "You got me that?"

"A refresher. You more than need it after working so hard, Hope."

Taking the small brown bottle in his hand and opening it, the scent of liquid chocolate emitted from it and Hope had to smile. He could almost taste it already.

But he didn't feel like having it right now, "Mind if I take this later?"

Vanille smiled, "Sure, just try not to take it all in one sitting. Okay?"

Hope nodded, "Thanks."

An hour later, outside the school entrance, Vanille and Hope were walking out after the final period. Vanille was holding her school jacket over her shoulder while she held her handbag in her right hand. Hope had left everything in his locker, not really wanting to do any homework during the weekend, which he never did anyway.

Vanille was holding the milk bottle she had bought Hope earlier, and took a quick drink. Her tongue grew excited as her taste buds went crazy over the taste, "Mmmmm! Good!"

Hope wasn't even noticing, his mind was obviously preoccupied.

Vanille closed the bottle, turning her attention to Hope, "You're still bummed out? What in the name of the Maker is wrong now?"

"Sorry!" Hope shouted.

Vanille took a step back, silently wishing she hadn't asked.

Hope put his head down quickly apologizing, "I had trouble with other things."

"What do you mean? The test?"

"The book I read to prepare myself involved an old story—"

Almost immediately Vanille out her left hand on her hip, "You mean…"

"Yeah, it was a rather mushy story. At least to me it was."

"Hope, I know you've never had experience in that department, but don't burdened with something like that. You're still young and have time."

"Being in love was simple for you Vanille."

"Hell no it wasn't Hope, but I won't get into that right now. You just have to wait for that special someone to come to you."


"If you're lucky, she'll literally walk into you and knock you on your butt."

Hope felt the conversation going nowhere, he started to walk away, uttering the words, "I'll see you later."

Vanille turned around to yell smiling, "You take a nap and call me later so we can talk more!"

Hope ran as far as he could and as fast as he could, desperately hoping that the words he had said left his mind permanently.

Why in the hell can I not keep my big mouth shut?

Romance wasn't one of his favorite subjects, even if it was fictional, he always felt uncomfortable whenever he had to work around that subject. Sure, he was fifteen and without a girlfriend, but it was the fact that he didn't have a girlfriend that he was also not too fond of talking about it.

Going around a corner, Hope was then knocked back, like he had run straight into a metal wall. He landed flat on his backside, and he had a major headache, he stood up frantically apologizing not knowing who or what he had run into. He slowed down long enough to look—

And wished that he hadn't.

On the ground was a girl. A girl with strawberry pink hair that was shoulder length, and in her lap was Hope's now empty milk can, with all the chocolate milk was all over the girl's uniform and some was even in her hair.

Panic struck the boy, silently cursing himself as he stood over the girl, "Dammit! I'm so sorry!"

Wiping a bit of milk that was about to fall from her eyebrow, she stood up, appearing to be nearly a foot or so taller than Hope. He gulped in nervousness.

"Watch where you're going—" she said as a drop fell from her chin to her chest, her white dress shirt had a large wet spot all along that, "Next time anyway."

"I will…" That was simple… Hope gave a sigh of relief, but had a suspicion that that was way too easy.

The boy held his head down in shame, walking past her and trying not to look at her.

The run home was quick for Hope, he didn't even think he opened his eyes to see where he was going, acting on instinct alone apparently.

Hope unlocked the door to his home, and upon entering found a note on the dinning room table. Taking the note into his hand, Hope saw that the note had been written by his dad's hand:


Sorry, but I just got a call from the office in Bodhum. Your mother and I left early this morning. Don't know how long we'll be gone so please behave until we call back.

Mom and Dad

"Great…I'll be here by myself…"

That note hit Hope like a brick wall, though the thought of being alone for the weekend made him relax as much as he felt stressed at being alone.

Making a list of chores in his head, Hope went and went to wash his hands. He started to think about what he had done earlier.

He had run off on Vanille when she started to get complicated.

Not to mention he had completely doused a stranger in milk and run off without properly asking for forgiveness.

Those two options, coupled with his past problems with romance he came to the very obvious conclusion that his experience with women sucked big time.

As he started to wash the dishes, Hope stopped in time to hear the doorbell. Wondering what that was about, he went to the door and opened it.

His jaw dropped as he saw the pink haired girl from earlier looking him straight in the eye, a book bag in her right hand, and a look of seriousness on her face. "You're—"

"My name is Lightning, and you owe me."