"Take her hand? Whose hand?" Noel turned to Hope, who wasn't there. He spotted him leaving the room, "Hope, where-?"

"He knows what he's doing... Follow him Noel..."

He turned back to Lightning, then followed Hope to the entrance of the Temple.

Hope stopped in front of Vanille's crystal. He hesitated as he stared into the crystal features of her face. He wondered what would happen when he took her hand. He had his suspicions, but while they excited him, he was also afraid. If he was right, then he'd worked his entire adult life for this very moment. Now that it was here, why did he find himself choking?

"Hope?" Noel was standing a few feet away, watching him.

Forcing his illogical anxieties to the very back of his mind, Hope took a breath.

"It's okay, Hope..."

Slowly, carefully, he took Vanille's crystal hand in his. Even through his gloves, her hand was oddly warm to the touch. A warmth that spread throughout his body, flushing every worry from his system. For a few moments, nothing happened. Her crystal eyes still stared blankly at nothing. But then suddenly, the warmth receded. It leaked through Hope's fingertips, and light began to course through the crystal girl.

The more of her body that was infused with light, the brighter it got, the harder it became to look at her. Noel turned away, his arm covering his eyes. But Hope didn't look away, and even when she began to rise into the air, he didn't let go. The intensity of the light grew, and grew...

And as it began to fade, the young redhead slowly sank into Hope's arms; still very much asleep, but so much more alive.

Noel stepped to Hope's side, "So. This is Vanille?"

Hope gazed softly into her sleeping face, "Yeah." It was amazing, feeling her warmth, her heartbeat. She'd been in crystal stasis for so long... But he hadn't forgotten, anything about her. Her knack to see something, anything positive in any situation. The way she skipped around, appearing oblivious to the world, but inside, feeling the weight of the world on her heart. The way she always tried to make everyone feel better, even when she felt like hell. Her laugh... Her smile...

A voice came from directly behind them, "You gonna let me see her or what?"

The voice startled Noel, and he pivoted violently. But the accented tones were very familliar to Hope, and he turned more slowly, a smile on his face, "Hey, Fang."

"Huh." She raised an eyebrow, and studied his face, "Well, never thought I'd see the day you were actually taller than me." she nodded to Vanille, "You drop her, kid, and I kill you." but she was smiling.

Hope chuckled at the empty threat, "Don't worry, I won't. And don't call me 'kid', I'm twenty-seven now."

"Damn."

Noel laughed.

Fang cocked her head at him, "You're Noel, right?"

"That's me." he pointed his thumb at his chest. Fang rolled her eyes.

"Wake up..."

The command was clearly meant for Vanille, though they all heard it. As did she, it seemed. It was only seconds later that she stirred, blinking her eyes open for the first time in 500 years. She was startled at first, for the face above her wasn't familliar. But then she saw his eyes...

"H-Hope?"

He smiled, "Yeah."

Vanille lifted her hand to touch his face. She traced his jaw with her finger. "Is it, really you?" she asked.

"Yes, but... it's been a while."

Vanille thought for a moment, "I remember... I remember, you came to visit us, didn't you?"

Hope nodded, "As often as I could."

"Kid never could keep his eyes off you."

Hope rolled his eyes at being called 'kid' again, but Vanille grew excited upon hearing her sister's voice, and almost fell out of Hope's arms. She clung to his neck to keep herself stable (though Hope had already tightened his grip), and cried, "Fang!"

Fang laughed, "Try not to fall, okay kiddo?"

Vanille blushed.

Noel chucked.

Vanille turned her head, and wondered why she hadn't noticed him before, considering how close he was, "Noel?"

"Yeah." Noel smirked, "I've never met either of you, yet you both know my name."

Vanille giggled, "So, if you're Noel, where's Serah?"

Dead silence.

Noel's face twisted in pain. Vanille looked up and saw that Hope's had done the same. She looked between the two, confused, and a little scared.

"Uh, guys..." Fang said, getting a little scared herself.

"She-" Noel's voice cracked, "S-she's dead."

"But she doesn't have to be..."


And the thick plottens...

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