Description: Hope Estheim's dreams always revolve around a certain girl in crystal slumber. FFXIII-2. HopexVanille.
Fine silver strands splayed out across the indigo satin pillowcase. His breath was steady and calm as he dozed peacefully.
"Hope," whispered a barely audible feminine voice. He began to stir. "Hope." This time the voice was right in his ear. He could feel her warm breath on his skin.
Turquoise eyes opened to find emerald ones staring back at him. "Vanille " he sleepily whispered as he caught sight of her flame red hair. She smiled that same familiar smile: the one that always rendered him speechless. She climbed onto the bed and laid down beside him. He reached a hand out to touch her fine, curly locks. One of her hands delicately glided up his chest while her eyes traced the outline of his blanket-covered body.
"You're all man-shaped now " she mused aloud.
He smiled. "I'm twenty-one now, Vanille."
Her hand had finally made its way up to his chin, and she used her index finger to trace along his facial features.
"Your chin's a little pointier," she continued, "and your cheeks aren't quite as round, but your eyes and your voice are the same "
She scooted closer and leaned the front of her body right up against his side. Her hand continued upward as her fingers entwined with his silver hair. Her face was mere inches from his now. He could feel his heart beat hasten as he stared directly at her distracted eyes.
"Your hair is a bit neater though," she commented.
"I'm still the same person, Vanille."
She released a tiny giggle. "Not entirely," she countered playfully, finally meeting his gaze. "You're a grown up now. You've had seven years of change. But not me. I'm still sound asleep, frozen in crystal."
Confusion was etched into his teal eyes. "But you're right here." He maneuvered his arm beneath her petite frame and pulled her against his chest. "See? I can touch you, hold you "
She softly giggled again. "This is just make-believe, Hope. We're both dreaming right now."
"Well then if that's the case, I don't ever want to wake up," he stubbornly replied as he pressed her more firmly against his chest.
"Oh, you'll wake up eventually," she replied, "you have a job to do, remember?"
"What if I don't want to do it anymore?" He was being an obstinate child now.
"So what then," she asked, pouting just as childishly, "you're just going to give up on ever seeing me again, for real?"
"Do you think it's possible?" he asked as he twirled a pair of fingers through one of her fiery pigtails.
She looked into his eyes and smiled. "Anything is. Remember? You're the one who told me that."
"Yeah, well, as I've gotten older I've also learned that life puts up a lot of walls along the way..."
She shrugged before snuggling closer. "So knock 'em down," came her reply, "I want to come home, and Fang does, too, even though she'll never admit it. You're the only one who can make our wish come true."
"Why?" he asked her, "because I'm the only person both smart and crazy enough to figure it out?"
She giggled. "No, because you're the person who wants it the most. Why else do you think we're able to have this dream together?"
He chuckled. "I don't know, maybe because I dream about you all the time? I've dreamed about meeting you in my dreams more times than I can count. So who's to say this time is any different?"
She shrugged again. "No idea. And for all I know, this could just be another one of my dreams about you. I guess we don't have any proof either way."
"Well, I'm happy regardless." He squeezed her a little bit tighter.
"Me too," she agreed.
Suddenly she bolted up into a sitting position, her face alert.
"What's the matter?" he asked, gently taking her hand into his.
"Fang's calling me," she answered, "it must be time for me to go back."
"What?" he said anxiously, "No, but you just got here!"
Her hand slipped right through his as her body began to dissolve before his eyes. She smiled at him.
"It's okay," she said as she stood up from the bed. "I'll see you on Sunday, when you come to visit us. After all, you never miss a week."
She winked at him just before she vanished.
Hope bolted into an upright position as he shouted Vanille's name.
He heard hurried footsteps coming down the hall outside his bedroom. Within moments his bedroom door swung open and the outline of his father appeared in the doorway. The overhead light flicked on.
"Hope? What's the matter?" asked Bartholomew worriedly. His greying blonde hair was disheveled as he placed his aging hands comfortingly upon his son's arm.
The young man released a sigh. "I'm okay, Dad. I just had another dream."
"I figured as much," the older man replied, carefully taking a seat on the bed beside his child.
Hope felt his father's arthritis-ridden hands envelop one of his still smooth ones.
"Do you want to tell me?" he heard the older man ask kindly.
He felt the warm tears begin to form behind his eyelids. "Vanille, she was here," he answered, gesturing with his free hand at his own chest. A few tears trailed down his cheeks, "I was holding her, and we were talking, and then she disintegrated, right before my eyes."
Bartholomew squeezed his son's hand. "It was just a dream," he reassured him, "She's still safe inside the pillar, Hope. You still have plenty of time to save her."
He ran his free hand through his hair in frustration. "I'm already two years older than her, Dad, and I'm no closer to finding a way to save her than when I first started my research. I'm going to be old enough to be her father, or even grandfather, before I figure it out!"
Bartholomew shook his head. "No, you won't. You'll figure it out soon, I'm sure. You and your friends all woke from crystal stasis once, so who's to say it won't happen again?" The father moved one of his hands to comfortingly squeeze his son's shoulder. "You are a brilliant young man, Hope, and you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. As long as you want it, you can make it happen."
He leaned into his father's shoulder and quietly said. "That's what Vanille told me in my dream. That because I want she and Fang back, I'm the only one who can do it."
"Well then you had best listen to her," his father replied, "all of the best decisions I ever made were ones your mother encouraged me to make. I don't know how they do it, but women are usually right about these things."
"How do I know it was really her talking to me, though? It was a dream "
His father carefully stood up again. "Does it matter? Even if it was just your subconscious mind talking, it made her speak those words for a reason." The older man then crossed the room and flipped the light switch back off. "Good night, son," he said before he closed the door behind him.
Hope sat there, staring into the dark expanse of his bedroom. His father was right. The Vanille in his dream was right. He crawled out of his bed, searched the floor for his navy blue slippers, then grabbed his white and yellow Academy coat off the back of his desk chair, and threw it over his shoulders. Silently, he stepped out into the hall and tiptoed through the living room until he reached the front door. He opened it and was greeted by the cool sting of the midnight air. Quietly, he padded down the front steps and across the small lawn. He quickly found his favorite tree, and sat down beneath it. As he reclined against the bark, his eyes gradually drifted up toward the pillar of crystal which stood tall in the sky.
He instinctively grabbed onto his left wrist, peeling back the yellow wristband, which he hadn't taken off in seven years. He examined the smooth, pale skin beneath the fabric, which once bore the brand of a l'Cie. He concentrated on that spot as he attempted to reach deep within his soul for the magic that once coursed through him. Nothing. He couldn't even produce a tiny flame. With just a flick of his wrist, he used to be able to ignite massive flames that decimated unwary monsters. Now he needed chemical compounds and matches to do it. How was he supposed to save two women from a magical crystal stasis, when all he was armed with was human science?
He heaved a sigh.
"So let me guess," he whispered as his gaze returned to the crystal that glowed pale blue in the night sky, "I just have to wait until all the missing puzzle pieces fall into my lap?"
The only reply came in the form of the breeze, which had somehow just changed from cool to warm.
The next day, Hope was able to calculate the exact time and place that his friend, Serah, and her time-traveling companion, Noel, would reappear. Three more years. He could hold out for three more years.