It was quiet within the Estheim residence. Lightning had been spending a rare moment of peace and quiet carefully taking apart and cleaning her gunblade bit by bit. Hope was in his study, finishing up his work. Their young two-year-old daughter had recently been put down for a nap, and their five year old son Rainstorm had gone out to play with the other neighborhood children. The streets were quiet and safe, and he knew better than to wander off too far so she didn't worry about him.
She soon had become so focused on the task at hand that she failed to notice when it began to rain outside. A few minutes later, the front door swung open to reveal a sopped Rain, who looked rather annoyed.
She looked up when she heard the door open, then sighed as she stood up and got him a clean towel from the bathroom. This wasn't the first time this sort of thing had happened. Rain was also the type of kid who accidentally got himself covered in dirt while out playing. When that happened, he could go around to the side of the house and use their hose to quickly rinse himself off before coming inside.
"I hate the rain," he grumbled as he took the towel from his mom and began drying himself off. "It always comes and ruins my fun outside!" he complained.
"Now Rain, you know no one's purposely controlling the weather. Nature makes it happen on its own."
He just grunted in reply as he finished drying his short, pink, fluffy hair. Then he slid out of his wet shoes and put them by the door before running to his room to put on a pair of fresh dry clothes.
"Hey, Mom, can I ask a question?" he asked as Lightning laid Serah in bed for the night.
"Of course," she said, silently hoping it wasn't something like "Where do babies come from?"
"Why did you name me Rainstorm anyway?"
He understood why his parents had named his sister Serah, as he had been told it was after an aunt that had died long before he was born, but the reason behind his own name was a mystery to him.
She smiled a bit, then turned to him and ruffled his hair.
"You know I saved your father's life once when the weather was like this," she said, glancing out the window at the downpour outside.
"Can I hear the story then?" he asked, his face brightening up.
"When it's your bed time," she told him.
With that he raced to the bathroom. Within fifteen minutes he had showered, brushed his teeth, combed his hair, put on his pjs, and had practically jumped into his bed, eager to hear a story from his mom.
"Ok, I'm ready for bed now!" he called.
Lightning walked into his room a few moments later, chuckling at the sight of him pulling off his "Look how patient and quiet I'm being" face.
"Alright," she said as she sat down beside him. "Like I said, it started on a rainy day like this..."
"This weather's crazy..." Lightning muttered as she walked beside Hope on the way to the Academy Headquarters.
It had been nothing but a torrential downpour all week, making the skies and streets dark and gloomy. Anyone out at all was under an umbrella, but Hope was holding theirs, thus making her stand awkwardly close to him.
She was his bodyguard, nothing more, and wanted to have some personal space, but the weather wouldn't let her.
"I'm sure it'll let up soon," Hope said. Silently, he was thanking the rain for making Lightning stand so close to him.
"That's what you said yesterday," she muttered.
Seeing the Academy building up ahead, she sighed, glad that in just a minute she would once again have her space. However, she suddenly tensed, the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end. Something wasn't right. She stopped, grabbing his arm as she did so while her other hand reached for her gunblade.
"Something wrong?" he asked, noticing her now tense and cold stance.
"Just let me go ahead of you," she said as she calmly drew and transformed her gunblade into its gun mode, as if she were on patrol.
She wasn't sure what was amiss, if anything at all, but her soldier instincts had kicked in, telling her that some sort of danger was near. Better to be safe than sorry.
She could hear her boots softly splash along the puddles on the side walk, and the rain dripping down on her as she walked a few paces ahead of Hope. She occasionally glanced back to make sure he was still right behind her, just in case.
She lowered her weapon as she approached the entrance, but still kept a firm grip on it, her finger hovering over the trigger just in case. A glance through the glass front doors told her all she needed to know. Muttering a curse, she quickly turned and flattened herself against the wall, grabbing and pulling him along with her.
"What's going on?" he asked, alarmed.
"Terrorists,." she answered curtly , making his eyes widen.
She had seen a few armed men in black clothes and ski masks, holding Academy workers hostage in the lobby. The employees were all tied up with cable ties and lined up along the back wall of the large room, but thankfully, they appeared unharmed. But that still left the question of what the men were after. It could be information only the Academy held, or they could be trying to assassinate someone like Hope; after all, he WAS the director.
Not wasting time, she grabbed her standard-issue GC communicator and listened to it crackle to life. She was about to call for back up before she took any action, but it was just her luck that the battery would short-circuit, no doubt the effect of waterlogged technology due to all the rain.
Muttering another curse, she put it away and was about to pull Hope away from the building entirely when she noticed a cluster of tightly grouped soldiers rounding the corner and heading her away. Apparently they had already been alerted of the situation inside.
"Farron," One of them said as he approached her.
She didn't know him, but apparently he knew of her. She noticed his rank was above his, and quickly snapped into a salute.
"Sir," she greeted.
"Stay by the Director's side and keep him safe," he ordered before he led the rest of the squad inside.
Nodding to him, she grabbed a hold of Hope's arm and dragged him away from the building. He looked back as the others ran outside, worry written all over his face.
"Do you think those terrorists could be after me?" he asked.
"It's possible," she said as she ducked around the corner into an alley a few yards away where she could still peak out and have a good view of building. "They'll try not to kill them so they can bring them in for questioning later."
He nodded, hoping she was indeed right so he could have answers. It was HIS Academy after all, and he wouldn't stand for this!
Lightning knew he was probably frustrated about the situation. She looked back at him and noticed his fist was clenched tightly around his boomerang, and realized he was probably feeling helpless as well. He wanted to fight as much as she did, but she wouldn't let him. She wasn't going to leave his side either, orders or not. A million things could go wrong if she did, and she couldn't bear it if she saw him die again.
"Let them take care of it Hope, they know what they're doing."
Only moments after she spoke they heard an explosion in the building, shattering some of the windows. Both of them flinched and were caught off guard by it, for they knew it had to be from the other side. Civilian safety was always military personnel's first and main concern—there was no way they would have set off a grenade or the like so close to the hostages.
Both of them caught sight of two of the armed terrorist suspects escape through the now broken windows, and unknowingly head their direction. Pushing Hope back, she stepped forward and took aim at them. She struck one in the knee,but missed the other one entirely, giving him the chance to fire back. She ducked behind the walls of the alley to avoid his gunfire, only to notice he had also thrown a grenade at them that landed only a few feet away.
"Get down!" she yelled, tackling Hope to the ground as it exploded behind them.
Hope blacked out from the explosion briefly, and when he came to his ears were ringing. He groaned as he tried to sit up, only to realize that Lightning was still shielding his body with hers. He noticed immediately that something was wrong, for her breathing was ragged and her heat beat was slow.
"Light?" he asked, alarmed.
"I'm ok..." she whispered weakly.
He knew it was a lie. He gently wrapped his arms around her as he slowly sat up. She winced at the movement, but didn't fight as Hope held her.
"Lightning..." he whispered as he looked at her severe wounds with wide eyes.
Her uniform was soaked with the rain water as well as her own blood. There were scratches and tears all over her from the shrapnel of the blast, but she also had bullet wounds from the back: They had shot her even after that explosion.
"I'll be ok..." she said as she fought to stay awake.
"Stay with me!" he begged, feeling the rain continue to pour down on them and mix with his tears.
Don't die! He wanted to scream.
He was so focused on her he hadn't even noticed the few scratches he had gotten from the blast as well.
"Director!" a voice shouted, and he looked up to see three medics coming towards them, two of them carrying a stretcher.
"Help her!" he begged as he got to his own feet and helped place her onto the stretcher.
They wheeled her away at once, while the other medic quickly examined his minor wounds and told him that he would need to go to the hospital as well. However he barely heard him, and was only vaguely aware of his surroundings.
Everything past by in a complete blur, for his focus was on Lightning. They had driven away with her to the hospital before him, and while he wanted to see how she was doing immediately, he was to be taken care of first. Before he knew it his wounds were stitched up and bandaged, and he was told he would be free to leave as long as he took it easy and got some rest.
He quickly thanked the nurse as he hurried out of the room with his now bloodstained uniform jacket over his arm. It only took a moment to ask what room she was in, and only a couple minutes to find it. Just as he was about to go in, he caught the doctor coming out, his face looking rather grim.
"How is she?" he asked as he stopped him.
"Are you family?"
"Old friend," he said curtly, anxious to see her. "I'm afraid she has no family..." he added softly, remembering Serah's unexpected and sudden death as he spoke.
All she had left now were her few friends...
"I see...Well, we were able to remove all the shrapnel and bullets, but her wounds are very serious. For now she's stable, but I can't say that she'll make it for sure."
Hope stiffened and paled at his words, his heart skipping a beat. No. He couldn't lose her too, not after all those years of looking for her!
"Can I see her?"
He received a nod, and entered the room at once. Upon seeing her in her weak condition,his heart sank even further. Her pale skin as she laid unconscious and silent, the oxygen mask on her face, and the many IV lines and machines hooked up to her that monitored her vitals and kept her alive, seeing it all made him flinch.She looked so fragile, like a doll made of porcelain; she wasn't at all like the strong and powerful Lightning he had come to know from the very beginning.
"Light..." he murmured as he quietly pulled up a chair by her bedside and gently placed his hand over hers.
He sat beside her quietly as he held her hand for a few moments, listening to the soft beeping of the machines around them and the rain that tapped on the windows. After a couple minutes, he began to focus his energy on reaching for the magic deep inside him and castingCuraga on her a couple times. He may not have been a l'Cie anymore, but he still had his magic, and while he knew that while it wasn't nearly as strong as it was back then, and it may not do too much for her, he just had to do something to try and help.
Feeling his energy drain after a few spells, he sighed and stopped, only to be startled by a flash of lightning and loud thunder from the storm outside. He flinched at it, and ended up squeezing her hand because of it. He was met with silence once more, and he suddenly felt tears filling up his eyes.
"You were wrong Light..."he said softly. "You told me once, that lightning can't protect, it can only destroy. But...You protected me, you've always protected me!"
He remembered this wasn't the first time she had laid her life down on the line for his sake. That time when they were l'Cie and surrounded by soldiers. If Snow and Fang hadn't shown up then, she would have taken them all on her own, allowing him to get away to safety, and probably wouldn't have survived that battle.
"You promised me that you would keep me safe..."
In return he had promised that he would try and watch out for her, too...He now saw how foolish he had been to say something like that. She had taught him how to fight and stay strong, but even if he wasn't a helpless kid anymore, he had been useless and now Lightning was on Death's doorstep because of it.
"Lightning, if you die, then I won't be able to try and keep my promise. Not only that, but-"
His mother, Alyssa, Serah… They were all gone now, each and every one of them.
"I can't lose you, too!"
He felt the tears run down his face as he closed her eyes and held her hand. At first he had merely just looked up to her, but over the years he had fallen for her. He had realized that when she had disappeared after the fall of Cocoon.
"I want you by my side, so you can't die, you just can't...I love you too much."
It was then when he felt her handtwitch, then gently squeeze his own. Startled, he opened his eyes to see her awake, and softly smiling at him despite her wounded state.
"I won't leave you, Hope," she said, a single tear running down her cheek. "I can promise you that."
"And that's when I realized I was also in love with him," she said, finishing her story with a smile.
"Ew," Rain said flatly with a rather annoyed look on his face. "Why'd it have to get all mushy like that! It was fine before that," he said as he lay down with a bit of a grunt and a pout.
His mother, of course, couldn't help chuckling. He had been intrigued the whole time, but any five year old boy would be grossed out by some "mushy" romance.
"Goodnight, Rain," she said before she kissed him on the forehead and tucked him in.
She turned off the lights and quietly closed his door as she left his room, then poked her head into Serah's. The young toddler was still sleeping soundlessly, making her smile. She had never expected a life like this for her, happily married with two loving children, but that's how it had turned out.
After she had made a full and steady recovery from her injuries, she and Hope had begun a steady long term relationship. He had proposed to her after almost two years, and while she hadn't been sure about having and raising children, they had decided to go through with it after talking about it for a long time.
She hadn't regretted anything since. Rain was proving to be a good smart kid so far, as well as a good older brother for Serah, the daughter neither of them had hesitated to name after her late sister. However seeing them as the happy siblings they were reminded her so much of how she and Serah had been...It almost hurt.
Sighing quietly, she gave her daughter a kiss goodnight as well, gently brushing her silver hair out her face, then quietly walked out of her room, down the hall, and into Hope's study. As she had expected, he had once again fallen asleep at his desk with the computer still on. Shaking her head as she walked over, she saved what he was working on, then shut off the computer before tapping him on the shoulder. Not wanting to be like his father had been; always busy with little time for family he had made sure to put most of his work off for the nights and evenings, thus resulting in frequent unplanned naps at his desk.
"Hmm?" he asked blearily, blinking his eyes open.
"Bed time for you, too," she half joked.
He was too tired to protest, so he merely got up from his chair and made his way into the bedroom. He had already plopped down and gotten under the covers by the time she had followed him. She only took a minute to change into her nightgown before laying down beside him and feeling him gently wrap his arms around her and pull her closer.
"My Light," he whispered.
She chuckled, still not believing that it had come to this. Sometimes it felt too good to be real, but the day she decided to be by his side was still clear in her mind, for it was that day that started it all.
"Lightning?" Hope asked, clearly not expecting her at his door.
It had only been a couple weeks since the rise of Bhunivelze...As well as Serah's funeral. Since then, he hadn't heard a single word from her, Snow, or Noel.
"Can I come in?" she asked.
He nodded, and stepped aside to let her through.
"Can I get you anything?" he offered.
"No," she said as she sat down on his living room couch. "I just came to talk," she said getting straight to the point.
"Is this about Serah?" he asked, sitting down in a chair across from her.
"Not really..." she muttered, glancing down.
She knew that Hope, too, knew how it felt to lose a close family member, and that he could probably help her through the pain she felt, but that wasn't why she was here. Sighing, she looked up at him.
"You were aware that I could see the entire time line from Valhalla."
"And you're also aware what the original outcome was of your Proto Fal'Cie project before Serah and Noel changed the future."
"Y-Yeah..." he said, remembering clearly that they had told him his own creations would have killed him had they been built.
"Do you remember what I said to you when we were l'Cie?"
"You said a lot of things to me back then Light, but yes, I remember all of them."
"I said I'd keep you safe."
He now knew what she was getting at: She blamed herself for his death in the previous time line.
"Which is why I have a proposal for you, Director," she continued, making him raise an eyebrow.
"I know you're not a kid anymore, I can see that, but if you'll let me I want to be by your side to protect you should danger like that arise again."
"You want to be true to your word."
She nodded firmly.
"I WILL keep you safe, that I promise you."
"I don't see how I could convince you otherwise even if I was against it," he said with a smile. "But just remember Light, I also said I'd watch out for you too, that I promise you."
"It's settled then."
She stood up and offered her hand to shake on it, and while Hope did take it at first, he then pulled her into an unexpected hug.
"Welcome back, Lightning."
She blinked and blushed a bit, caught offguard by his sudden gesture, but she supposed it has been the same way for him when she had hugged him during that time.
"It's good to be back," she said, returning his hug.
Serah may have been gone, but that wouldn't stop her from living out the rest of her life. She still had friends like Hope...Friends that would unknowingly develop into something more...
When I created my OC Rain a little while ago, I gave no thoughts on his name, I simply wanted him to have a weather related name XD But then as I got thinking, I decided that he needed to have a story behind it, and after a somewhat traumatizing accidentle M rated suggestion that someone gave me Natsucon by pure accident, I recovered and coughed out this. Thanks to shippudenfanatic for betaing and then putting up with some nagging to get it back XD