Translated by me. Dear Serah…
Translated by me.
Translated by me. This one was especially tricky. I had to take a bit of creative license.
A Hoperai oneshot, for the gorgeous fans.
Lightning lowered herself onto the stark white couch and let her head fall back, her eyes traveling without really looking from the chair where Hope usually sat in front of his white surveillance monitor atop his white desk, up past the white nothingness beyond to the white nothingness above. White. White. White. She closed her eyes and exhaled slowly. When she opened them again, she found Hope in front of her, a blanket in his hands. White, of course.
“I thought you might want this,” he said, offering her the blanket. “You look like you could use a little rest.”
Lightning’s eyes swept over Hope’s youthful face, taking in his features. White skin, white hair, pale eyes; perhaps God picked him to match the decor.
“Thanks,” she said simply, taking the blanket from him and unfolding it to drape it across herself. Maybe in the past she would’ve argued with him; declared that she would rest on her own time and he shouldn’t concern himself, but her need to be contrary had apparently been taken from her just as her emotions had.
Hope surprised her by taking a seat next to her, placing his gloved hands on his knees, his back straight and his feet planted firmly on the ground. In all the time she’d spent here in the Ark with him since receiving her holy mission, he’d rarely left his chair, and not once had he initiated any kind of physical closeness with her. Of course he made a point to remind her often that he was, and always would be, on her side, and he was always ready to talk with her whenever she wanted it, but there’d always been a measure of distance between them. A line. Unspoken and uncrossed. She supposed a thousand years of absence could do that, though.
A thousand years, she mused. We’ve both changed.
“Hope,” she said, when it seemed like he wasn’t going to initiate conversation.
He turned his face toward her and his eyes met hers, as steady, as unwavering, as ever. “Yes?” he responded, waiting to hear what she had to say.
She wanted to ask him so many things. What had happened to him during the time she’d spent in voluntary stasis? Why had Bhunivelze chosen him to command the Ark? How could he bear living all alone in this empty, colorless, lonely place for so many years? But most importantly… “What are you thinking about right now?” she asked directly.
To her, the most unsettling thing about Hope now was that she could no longer understand him. She had no idea what motivated him, what he felt about his situation, how he really felt about seeing her again after so many centuries. The last time she’d spoken to him, before all this God nonsense, was in a dream. She’d reached out to him from Valhalla in the only way she could with her limited powers. She’d marveled at how much he’d grown, but despite his increased age and maturity, he was still the same Hope; the same passionate, intelligent, diligent boy she’d fought alongside and saved cocoon together with. Now, though, his heart was closed to her. She could no more read him than she could the hearts of humans, and even though that should no longer bother her, it did. Something deep inside her, too deep for even the mighty god of light to reach, didn’t want him to be a mystery. Not him. Not Hope.
Her question caused Hope’s features to shift into a look of confusion. “What am I thinking about?” he repeated. He broke their eye contact to lift his pale green irises upward in thought. “Well, I was thinking about how good a nap actually sounds right now, but now I’m wondering why you’re suddenly asking me what I’m thinking.”
It was a joking response, but Lightning answered it promptly and seriously. “I’m asking because I don’t understand you anymore.”
Hope’s eyes found hers again and he frowned. “What do you mean?”
“I mean I can’t read you anymore. I don’t know what you’re feeling. That concerns me.” Lightning wasn’t known for being particularly public about her feelings, but she had no problem with honesty in situations such as these.
“I see,” was Hope’s response, as if her confession were data and he was processing it. “You know, I can’t read you either, Light,” he said. “I guess it makes sense, considering how detached we’ve become from the rest of humanity. By logical extension, that would affect our ability to understand each other’s hearts as well.”
Hope’s words caused something like anger to bubble up inside Lightning, taking her by surprise. It had been so long since she’d felt it. “Doesn’t that bother you?” she accused, her voice rising slightly with the surge of emotion. The more she thought about it, the more wrong this whole situation was beginning to feel. Hope was her partner. He was always the person on the team she’d felt the most comfortable confiding in. He understood things about her that the others didn’t. Their relationship came naturally. They’d never struggled to understand each other. Not where it counted. A bond like theirs couldn’t just be taken away. God would’ve had to change their very natures. In which case…
Hope shook his head. “I know it should. I know that. But it doesn’t.”
…either the Hope she was talking to now wasn’t, in fact, the Hope she remembered, or something very serious had happened to him in the time Bhunivelze had kept him captive in the Ark.
The wheels in her head turned as she considered how to go about testing these theories. She needed to spark some kind of emotional reaction from him; find some trigger that Hope couldn’t help but react to, to find out if this was the real Hope, or just a Hope-shaped puppet God was dangling in front of her to ensure her cooperation. Just like Serah.
Her first thought was to use his mother in some way. If there was one thing that could get a reaction from Hope, it was his mom. But what could she say? Lightning was at a loss.
She sighed. Even if she did come up with something, Hope had had a thousand years to get over her death. Nora might not be enough to move him anymore. If only Snow were here, she thought. He could get a reaction, I’m sure.
She looked at Hope’s face and a mad idea came to her. It was such an absurd idea that her immediate response upon thinking it was to cast it away to the furthest recesses of her mind and give herself a good smack with her gunblade for ever entertaining such a thought, but then again…
It’s the end of the world. There’s no better time than this.
Steeling herself for the stupid thing she was about to do, she turned her body so that she was facing Hope and let the blanket slip to her lap. Hope followed the blanket’s descent with his eyes before flicking them back up to meet hers again in that same unwavering stare. It always felt like he was looking straight into her soul with those eyes.
She brought her hands up and cupped his face lightly. She frowned then and took her hands away to remove her gloves before bringing them back up to his face, this time feeling smooth, warm skin under her fingertips. The youthful softness of his skin belied his age. Hope studied her curiously as she touched him. “Light?” he questioned.
Lightning wondered if she should warn him of what she was about to do, but she thought that rather defeated the purpose. Instead of answering him, she smoothed the locks of pale hair away from his cheeks with her thumbs and leaned forward to touch her lips against his, applying gentle pressure.
Hope inhaled sharply through his nose and stiffened, but he didn’t make a move to pull away or respond to her kiss. He just sat there ramrod straight and still as she held her mouth against his. After several seconds, Lightning pulled away, her lips pulling down into a frown. It hadn’t worked. His lack of reaction could surely be taken as strong evidence, if not outright confirmation, of her fears. She looked back at Hope’s face and her breath caught when she saw his expression.
Hope’s eyes were wider than she’d ever seen them and his jaw had gone slack. He was looking at her with a gleam in his eyes that she’d failed to noticed had been missing from them since she’d woken from her stasis. Not breaking eye contact, he slowly lifted his right hand and extended it toward her face as though intending to touch her, and Lightning noticed that his hand was shaking. “Light…” he said in wonder, her name more of an exhale than an address.
Then the gleam vanished and Hope used his extended hand to feel her forehead as though checking for a fever. “Wow. Are you okay, Light? I think you really do need rest,” he said, brushing off the incident.
But Lightning wasn’t fooled. That had been Hope. Just for a moment, the boy in front of her had really been Hope. She didn’t know what had happened to him, and she had a feeling she wasn’t going to like the answer when she found out, but one thing was clear to her now. Whatever God’s agenda was, it wasn’t anywhere near as noble as he’d like her to think.
Lightning stood abruptly and turned away so that Hope wouldn’t see the murderous expression on her face. I’ll play your little game, Bhunivelze, but rest assured that in the end, your piece will be the one to fall, she promised silently.