Step Closer (Hope/Vanille)

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A/N: Hope/Vanille oneshot, request from TheSoundOfSilver. Hope you like it! :)

Summary: After Lightning defeated Bhunivhelze, the world is once again safe and back to normal. Everyone are back together. Snow and Serah are finally married, Sazh is with his son, Lightning is back to army while Fang and Vanille travel around. Hope is the leader of Academy as before. Everything seems fine until one day Vanille and Fang pay him a visit which awakens a long forgotten memories and feelings inside him. Will he have enough courage to deal with himself and face the truth?

I looked at myself in the mirror. As a Director I was in charge of a big organization and a lot of people knew me. Rumours about my beautiful silver hair and enchanting green eyes spread quickly. This was not the person I saw in the mirror. I still found myself as lonely boy who was once weak. I still feel weak.
Before a few days I recieved a message from Fang. She told me they are near Academia and they would like to finally see this marvelous city I started and finished. I am proud of my work, but still...
Since then I feel somehow lost. Why? I don't know. I should be happy Fang and Vanille are paying me a visit. But instead, I feel nervous and just thinking about it gives me a headache. It is like I know deep isnide myself what is the cause of this, but I just keep to push it away. Am I coward? I probably am. Nothing changed since Cocoon's crystalization. I still feel smaller than a fly. I still feel... empty.
The sound of doorbell made me jump. I was to tensed. I felt my heartbeat rising. Stop it. Why are you feeling like this?
My hand touched the cold metal of door knob. I pressed it and the door opened. In front of me stood tall and tanned woman. Aside her was a bit shorter and paler one. Her reddish hair cuppedd her face perfectly and matched her apple-green eyes. Fang and Vanille. Friends I missed a lot.
Immidiately I felt a pair of hands wraping around my neck. It was Vanille who hugged me tightly and chuckled.
"Hope!"
Her high-pitched voice tickled my ears. I smiled lightly and clumsly returned the hug.
"You are tall. That's not fair! You used to be so cute back then."
She said as she broke the hug and put her hands on my shoulders. She smiled at me. Her smile was so sincere and cute. It awoke something long forgotten in me. What is that?
"Com'on, 'Nille! Leave him be! You will choke him."
Fang rolled her eyes and smirked at us. Vanille's hands let go of me and I missed them already. Fang approached me and hit my shoulder with fist. It hurt.
"So, kid, how's goin'?"
She spoke with husky voice with that slight accent.
"You know, Fang, I am older than you now."
I said raising my eyebrows. I showed them a way to living room. They sat on couch.
"Nah..You'll always be kid."
She said. I rolled my eyes.
"I won't be staying for long, Hope. I heard Lightning is now in Academia too, right?"
Fang spoke after a few seconds of silence.
"Yes. You'll catch her sooner or later."
"That's great. I am leaving you and Vanille now. See ya. And sorry for going so fast."
"No problem. Say hello to Light, when you find her."
I said. Fang stood up and winked at me. She shut the door behind herself and left me and Vanille sitting in silence.
I looked at her. She smiled and her eyes seemed like spark. I felt my heart skipping a beat. No. Stop it.
"Wanna see the city?"
I finally asked her. She just smiled and took my hand.

🔹 🔹 🔹

"Wow! It's incredible! It's just like you planned?"
Vanille asked me. She walked around and spined in circles. She was the same as before. Bright and childish.
"Even better."
I admitted. The effort the people put in all of this was enoromous even for dreams. I hoped Academia will shine as Sun. Instead, it shines as thousands of stars.
"You know, Hope, I am proud of you."
"You are?"
"Why wouldn't I be?"
"Well, it wasn't my hands who built it after all. It was just an idea in the beginning. Almost a dream."
"Hope, you should admire yourself a bit more. This is a big deal and it exists only because of you."
She said seriously. The green eyes looked at me for a few seconds and she smiled once again. She broke the eye contact and left me once again with that tinglings in my heart. It was almost like torture. Was she cause of this? I felt almost like she never returned from her crystal state. She was in front of me. Alive and well. Yet it wasn't enough. Why?
"I can show you the Academy if you want?"
"Of course!"

🔹 🔹 🔹

We walked past the green hallways. Vanille jumped around happly and amazed with complex architecture of this building. Her hair was wiggling around with her every step. That's when she reminded me at the time before the fall of Cocoon. The feeling came back again. But now, I remembered what was it about. I remembered when I was 14 and madly in love with the girl in front of me. I was. Not anymore. I cannot be.
"Er...Vanille?"
"Yeah?"
"We haven't got a good chance for talk, you know-"
"Oh! Wait! No way! You have those little quizes all over the city? I love them!"
She interrupted me with the voice full of exceitment. It hurt a bit, but there wasn't any reason for it. I just wanted to hear her laugh over and over. I would never get bored. Her-No! Stop! Get a grip!
"You can play them...If you want. Nah, you don't need permission."
I gave up when she was already on third question. I played that quiz for at least thousand times. There wasn't answer I did not know. Yet, it was funny to watch Vanille trying to figure out questions. Everytime she would frown slightly and scretched her chin.
"Need help?"
I asked after I couldn't stand watching her staring at the question for almost five minutes.
"Of course not! I will do it on my own."
After her twentieth try, I had to stop her. A touched her hand and slowly removed it away of the screen. She looked at it. Then at me. I was again mesmerized by those beautiful tones of green. Her pink lips matched her hair. They were parted and looked soft.
"Vanille.."
"Hope.."
Then I widened my eyes after realizing what am I doing. She immitated me.
"Uh, sor-"
"Show me the rest of Academy. I really would like to see everything."
She said and happy tone and made the most kawaii face ever. It melted my heart. Now I knew she was the reason of this feeling. She was never a crush.
"Hm...I know some place. You'll like it. Come!"
I reached a hand towards her. She entwined her fingers with mine. We started walkong through green halls and suddenly we found ourselves on the rooftop of the building. It was a place a personally designed. A garden full of blue flowers and grass.
Vanille looked around in awe. Then I caught a few teardrops running of her cheeks. Only then I realized that I created a place exact to how Oerba must have looked like.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Vanille. I shouldn't take you here. I am so stupid..."
"Hope! You are not."
She said in angry tone now and faced me. Her green eyes now seemed like two lasers who will soon cut a hole in me. She approached me. Her footsteps were fast and I was to slow. She grabed me behind the neck before I could react.
"Vanille?"
Her name was the last word I managed to say before she pulled me towards her and crushed her lips with mine. A sudden energy errupted inside me and made my heart beat harder and faster then ever before. It made my brain to become drunk and uncapable of thinking. Those soft lips caressed mine in the exact way and feeling I imagined. If not even better because it was real. Suddenly, I remembered every moment of thinking about and waiting this moment. I remembered the time I looked at her and couldn't move away my gaze not even if my eyes got burned. And now, it was real. And she was never a crush. She was always the love of my life.
She broke the kiss and hugged me tightly. I returned it and enjoyed the colour and smell of her hair. My nose was filled with scents of rain, wind and wild flowers.
"Hope..Thank you. For building this place."
She paused to move her head to face me.
"I love you, Vanille."
She giggled and touched my cheek. Those sounds she made were so adorable. I knew that my heart is already placed in the her hands. She can do aything with it. I won't mind. I will love her forever.
"I know now. I was afraid you don't feel the same way. I love you too."
Those words coming out of her mouth seemed like oil on fire. My chest flamed. My heart beat for her. And hers beat for mine.
"You have no idea how glad I am you love me back."


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