Lightning cringes as Snow barrels through the door, sweeping Serah up into his arms and pressing their faces close in a kiss. To see her baby sister act like that with her only feet away, it makes her want to pull her hair out. It's not that she isn't happy for her, but all the lovey-dovey romance the two go through on a daily basis isn't helping. While they're caught up in themselves she leaves the couch and slips out the back door unnoticed.
Ever since the two got married, all three have lived together until Snow can either afford his own place or Lightning just gives them hers out of pure frustration with him. At this point Lightning is about to go with the latter. Which is why she finds herself walking until she finds herself at Hope's doorstep. He's been there for her through it all and then he was just a little kid. Now, he's a man. She shakes her head at the thought, long pink hair swaying with the movement.
"This is ridiculous..." The mumble leaves her lips just as the door opens, leaving her speechless more so at the fact that she hadn't even knocked.
She's not wearing her complete attire; settling with her brown, sleeveless turtleneck, short brown skirt, black shorts underneath, and her boots. After all, it's only a few hours after noon, almost evening now. Hope must have worked late; evident by his bare feet, light blue, flannel bottoms, and a t-shirt that's on backwards and inside out. His short, silvery hair is mused and his blue eyes are blurry from just having woken from sleep. Rubbing at his face, he yawns. "Light? Why are you here so early?"
Lightning scoffs and crosses her arms. "It's almost dinnertime Hope. Working yourself to death again, huh?"
Even so, Hope grins at her. "Come on in." As she walks past him, she pats his head as if he's still a kid. Lightning doesn't even notice the hurt look on his face as he shuts the door, not having wanted that response in the slightest. He follows her to the couch. There he can only think of how perfect she is just in that spot, not wanting her to have to leave. Rarely does he get a visit from his mentor and he cherishes each and every one of them. "Did Snow break something again?"
She gazes at the far wall where the curtains are pulled over the windows. "Tch, not this time."
He knows that response, it's one she uses when nothing is truly wrong on the outside but all internal. Hope sits down beside her, leaning back into the soft, gray material. "Getting tired of being a third wheel?" Her head turns suddenly, their eyes locking for the first time in months. Hope smiles, suppressing another yawn. "If you ever want to get away, you can come here."
"I do." Lightning admits slowly, returning her eyes back to the wall.
Hope stumbles in his own mind, choosing his words carefully. "I meant for more than five minutes at a time." The pink haired warrior looks at him from the corner of her eye. "I'm rarely home some days and there's an extra room. You wouldn't have to pay anything to live here. Maybe cook dinner every once in awhile."
It's with that response that Hope knows he's won, even though she doesn't. All the more he rubs at the back of his head. "I haven't had a home cooked meal in... years."
Lightning stands suddenly, taking long strides to the door. He moves to follow her when she stops, glancing over her shoulder. "You'd do anything to protect me, huh?" A slow blink is all she gets. "You told me that a long time ago." Her hand finds a place on her hip. "All I have to do is cook?"
Although Hope had said she had to cook, he quickly told her otherwise over the next few days. That she's a guest and guests don't have to anything. Despite that he's still been truthful on the fact that he's not home very often. He's gone before she gets up in the mornings and he's not home till after she goes to bed. Then again, she doesn't have much to do other than decide just what she's planning on doing for the rest of her life. Returning to the Guardian Corps isn't on her top priority.
Of course Serah has called her every day, multiple times each day. Never does her little sister pressure her into coming back or what to say what's she's thinking. It confuses Lightning, especially since even now she's still not... happy. Something still manages to elude her and frantically it's driving her crazy. For a second she thinks about asking Hope. Of any of her friends, she feels the most comfortable going to Fang, but cannot; said woman being out on a journey with Vanille.
Lightning stands in the kitchen with a glass of water in her hand. The house, as always, is spotless and the kitchen is just the same. She cleans up whatever she makes a mess of and does her own laundry. It makes her wonder of how Hope even has time to do his. Wearing her usual attire, excluding the jacket and boots, she tabs her sock clad foot against the floor. The sound of footsteps draws her immediate attention, since she's supposed to be the only one in the house.
The glass barely makes a sound as she sets it on the counter. Showing her true skills, Lightning stays glued to the wall while waiting for whoever it is to make themselves known. The footfalls move closer until they're just around the corner. She takes a shallow breath before dropping down low and lunging around the corner. One long leg trips the person, who lands face first, while she sits on top with her hands grabbing at the person's wrists.
A laugh is what greets her. "You still got it, Light."
Taking a better look at the situation, Lightning hurries to climb off and sit on the floor. This allows Hope to properly sit up as well. His white button-up shirt is a little wrinkled now but still remains tucked into his gray pants. "I thought you were gone." She slowly meets his gaze. "Sorry."
"No, no it's my fault. I slept in late." Hope brushes at his shirt, stopping as she looks away. "Do you need me to get anything?"
"Work on the weekend?"
For a second he seems to stumble over his own thoughts. Standing up, Hope extends a hand and helps Lightning to her feet. "Actually no. I'm just running out to grab something, but I'll be right back." His hand lingers, staying clasped with hers. But Lightning doesn't pull away either. Standing closer than they probably ever have, Hope sighs softly. "I know I haven't been here lately. But I'll always be here for you Lightning." He leans closer as his thumb rubs over the top of her hand soothingly. Lightning doesn't move, barely even blinks, as he does. She's frozen and lost in his eyes as he gets even closer.
Unable to do anything, Lightning finds herself tilting her head back just enough so that she can look at Hope properly. Just as his lips are about to brush over hers, he stops. "I love you." and turns away, dropping her hand to hang back by her side. Keeping his head down, Hope rushes to the front door and leaves her standing there lost in the reverie.
Shortly after leaving, Hope returns with a few bags of groceries. Lightning watches him from the couch as he hurries to the kitchen. She slowly follows the man to see him putting the rest of the food away till later. Only one item sits out on the counter, ready to be eaten. A two layered, chocolate cake with strawberries around the edge and one in the middle. Staring at it, she's unaware of Hope as he walks around the island counter, preparing to leave the room. Lightning reaches out to the bottom of the cake where it sits on the plate, wiping at some chocolate that didn't make it to the cake. As she does, she looks up to see him gone. Immediately, the pink haired woman dashes toward the living room. But as she rounds the corner she smacks right into Hope, sending whatever he's been holding across the floor.
Lightning stares down at him and the small smear of chocolate across his left cheek. About to rise so that he can get up, she's stopped. Hope's hands cups the side of her cheek, thumb brushing against her soft skin. "Happy Birthday Lightning."
Three words, quite different from the three he spoke earlier, make her throat tighten and her mouth dry. She licks at her lips, unable to deny him as he lies there; silver hair brushed away from his face, loving and sincere blue eyes staring up at her, pale lips slightly parted - inviting her, and that chocolate smear. Suddenly the room is a lot warmer and she can't think straight. All she knows is that he's older now, he loves her, he's romancing her, he wants this too... and if he doesn't stop with that look she'll go crazy.
Letting go of everything, Lightning leans down and presses their lips together. Her hands lift up the sides of his face to comb through his hair, while Hope's own rest on her waist. His fingertips run circles on her skin, pushing her shirt up just enough for him to do so. The touch seems to leave fire wake as their lips part and tongues begin to brush against one another. As Lightning dives hers into his mouth, he bites down lightly, trapping and distracting her at the same time.
Hope rolls them over, pulling away and placing his hands beside either of her shoulders. Leaning down slowly, Hope closes his eyes just as she does. Their lips barely have the chance to meet when the silence is shattered.
The ringing of the phone stops them altogether. Lightning lies still as Hope gets up, moving quickly enough to answer it. She stares, flustered, up at the ceiling. "Light, it's Serah." Lightning sits up, straightening herself even though Serah can't see her, and heads over to Hope. Taking the phone from his hand, their fingers brush together. She hesitates for just a moment before lifting the phone to her ear.
"Sis! Snow's gone off with NORA and I don't have anything to do today. Why don't you and Hope come over?"
"Sure. I'll see you in a little bit."
Lightning sets the phone down, almost hating that the moment is ruined and she's to go over to see everyone. Obviously, Serah's planned a surprise party for her under the lure of being home alone today. Hope walks up behind her, arms wrapping around her waist as his lips graze her ear. "It's okay. We'll have our own party later."