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Completion Part 3


Elena woke quickly. She snapped her mako toned brown eyes open, bathing the dark cell in an eerie greenish light. The blond ex-Turk rolled to the side and surveyed her surroundings. Those mako eyes widened as she realized where she was. Oh Holy Ifrit, Hojo's lab. The desire to escape overwhelmed her, even with Hojo dead and gone his memory choked the place like radiation after nukeular fallout. She pushed herself swiftly off the still cold pavement. She hadn't been unconscious long. Reno could have put me out for hours.... A groan came from Yuffie behind her, taking her mind out of her confusion.

The little ninja had a small bruise on her neck. It wouldn't be painful, or even visible later tonight, but it did explain her difficulty waking. She moved over to the younger woman and checked her for broken bones, finding none she flopped down onto something hard. "Eep!" Elena felt in her back pocket and pulled out a small vile, smelling salt? She shook her head at her ability to prepare herself and then totally forget that she had done so. She broke the vile and held it under Yuffie's delicate nose. The ninja princess batted Elena's hand weakly away. "You okay Yuff?"

"I-I think so," she opened her stormy gray eyes and blinked at her friend. "'Lany, where are we?" Yuffie sat up and shook her head, clearing it. Elena stood and extended her hands to Yuffie, who accepted the help to her feet. She peered and Elena's eyes, "You know, I never really noticed the mako until now." Yuffie commented.

"Yeah, its the dark. We need to get outta here." The blonde looked to the door. "Right now," the blonde swallowed nervously, "this is one of Hojo's labs." Yuffie's eyes widened, even she was not immune to the dead man's poisonous aura.

She walked over to the door and smiled. "Those Aeons aren't so smart." She placed one hand on her hip as she turned to face Elena. The ninja then thrust her thumb over her thin shoulder, "They forgot to padlock the door!" There was a chain and lock laying on the desk across the narrow hall. "You know the way out of here?"

That is so not like Reno, he always paid attention to details.... "I know the way to the garage." Both women knew they would never be able to outrun the Aeons. They would need a car or something to escape them. "It is going to be pretty touch and go though."

Yuffie dug into her pocket and removed the lock pick she constantly carried with her. "Worth a shot right?" She popped the lock with no problem, this is too easy.


Reeve limped into the conference room, using Cid for support. The pilot helped his friend to a chair and lit a cigarette as Reeve propped his leg up on the table with a barely audible grunt of pain. "I must be getting soft," Reeve half chuckled as Vincent and Scarlet entered the room.

"You saying I pick bad Turks kid?" Vincent asked, leaning over the table.

"Kid," Reeve laughed. "I used to call Reno that all the time. Pissed him off something terrible."

Scarlet helped Reeve roll the loose leg of his pants up to the kneecap. "I have always said that you are too nice for your own good, never soft." She took out a needle and gave Reeve a shot directly into the knee. Reeve didn't make a sound, but his face contorted in pain.

"What is that shit?" Cid asked.

"Its called Quadramean, it is a very high grade mako enhancer." Scarlet stepped back and Reeve jerked his long leg to his chest. "It counteracts the Dopamine that grand king psycho freak put in his knee."

"I think I have hearda that." Cid gave one last puff on the cig before dropping into one of the many ashtrays Shera had the sense to litter about the airship. "Hojo did that to ya?"

"Yeah," Reeve sighed as he extended his limb again. "He didn't take to kindly to my meddling. He got his hands on all three of us. He kept Vince, and let Scarlet and myself go. Not without a nice memento though," he motioned to his knee. It was shot out during the fight with the SOLDIERs. Hojo replaced it with a Dopamine infused one."

"Dopamine eats mako, and anything infused with it. It is like an acid to mako." Scarlet explained. "Without the shots Reeve wouldn't be able to walk." She helped her husband to his feet. His knee was still too weak to totally support him. She wrapped her arms around his waist and put her head on his chest, steadying him with a hug. "Hades, Reeve. I thought I was going to lose you."

Reeve sat his chin on her shoulder and put his arm around her. "If I ever get it banged or injured then the Dopamine goes into overdrive," Reeve sighed and stretched his leg again. "He was bloody brilliant. Insane, but bloody brilliant."

"You Okie Paw Paw Reeve?" Suzanna asked as she, Tifa and Rude entered the room.

Reeve nodded, "yeah Trigger, I'm fine."

Rude glanced around as the rest of the team came into the conference room. "Where's 'Lany and Yuffie?" The silence was deafening, even to Rude. "What happened?"

"Reno's not acting himself," Rovina said lowly. "He took them."

Rude said nothing, he leaned against the doorway. In the space of less then a week he had now lost both of his best friends and Yuffie. Reno and Elena were like his little siblings. He felt responsible for them, he always had. Then there was Yuffie. He didn't want to admit how he felt about her. He didn't know how to admit it, he didn't have the words. "I should have gone," he said at length.

"You can't even turn your head around Rude." Scarlet reasoned. "We will get them back. All of them."


Elena moved swiftly down the twisting corridors, Yuffie on her heels. Yuffie was finding a strange comfort in Elena's softly glowing eyes. Like the nightlight I had in Wutai. A bitter sigh escaped the ninja's lips, don't think about Wutai, even after it all he still treated me like a child, like a commodity. Hell, he was going to marry me off to-

"You okay Yuffie?" Elena asked, "stay alert."

"Yeah sure, Reno." she quipped at Elena's change into Turk mode. It was scary how her group of friends- even Reeve- could go from nice to assassin mode in the bat of an eyelash. She recalled when Dio had wanted to hire them and Reeve scared the living piss out of him. Dio hadn't even stayed in Junion that night. At least you know they trust you, they talk to you like an equal. They depend on you. Yuffie comforted herself.

Elena half smiled at the off handed complement. Reno was a great Turk, a great leader. Even if his life had to be in danger for him to act like it. They turned another corner and halted just short of an open door. Elena peered inside and looked at the backs of Apollyon and Yrene as they sat at a coffee table. Reno was sitting facing her. He looked up and she ducked back behind the wall, sure that she had been seen. Yuffie took the cue and remained silent, she would have made a great Turk. Elena caught herself thinking. With nothing else to do she listened into their conversation.

"Any luck finding the orbs?" Reno asked as he leaned back in the chair.

"No, but the bonding is going well. The majesty has no clue." Yrene chuckled.

Reno shook his head. "I refuse to call him 'majesty.'"

"Take it easy young one." Apollyon responded. "Don't allow the pest to get to you," a rather dangerous smile crossed his face. "Speaking of pests how long will they be out? I am in need of some entertainment."

"The ninja will be out for at least two more hours and I hit the blonde one pretty hard. Give them until you are done with patrol." Elena made a face, Reno knows damn well he didn't hit me that hard.

"Fine then, I need to go to check on our hero." Apollyon stood and Elena's heart rose up her throat with him. If he sees us we are as good as dead.

"What's the point?" Reno also stood, giving Elena and Yuffie a chance to cross the doorway unnoticed. "I mean lab 422 isn't going anywhere and he can't exactly move. He's only got about an hour left before its done, why not wait till then?"

"He has a point, finnish your patrol then meet us back in the room. We can all go see this creation of yours brother."

"Ah yes, excellent idea sister. Things are shaping up rather well I would say." He glanced over at the other two. "Speaking of plans shouldn't you two be busy?"

Yrene stood and laughed, her icy voice sent a vicious chill up Yuffie's spine. "Certainly brother." The three started out the doorway, Elena and Yuffie were already down the hall like the smoke in the night.


"I cannot wait to be free of that moronic majesty." Yrene snarled as she and Reno entered her sleeping chambers.

Reno leaned against the door, an amused smirk on his face. "You are so tense Yrene, what happened to all that being patience that you and Apollyon have been feeding me?" He pushed off the door and sauntered up to her. He looked up at her face, she truly was beautiful, if only on the outside.

"I am tired of monotony." She lamented, like a spoilt child on the edge of sanity.

"Then let's spice it up." Reno pushed her swiftly, forcing her back against the wall. Her sharp eyes widened as he closed the distance between them with a hard kiss. With practiced expertise, Reno slid his hands up her lean body. Yrene closed her eyes and put her hands over his shoulders. Reno moved his mouth down to her neck, "see how easy it is to relax a bit?" his deep voice rumbled against her skin. He nipped her neck roughly.

Yrene felt the pinch to late, she shoved Reno away from her weekly and stared at the syringe in his hand. "You tricked me!" She was slurring her speech already. Reno backed up as she lurched forward, falling onto the floor.

Reno took another needle out of his pocket. He kneeled next to her. "You really should see someone about your delusions of grander." He injected her again. "Sleep tight, I know I will." He looked up to the clock, time to go.


Elena ran to lab 422, intent on getting Cloud and getting the hell out of this nightmare. She stopped cold at the sight of the hero of the planet. His body was white as a sheet, his face- Elena had always thought to be very handsome- had violet bags under the eyes. For all purposes, Cloud Strife looked like a vampire.

"Is he dead?" Yuffie whimpered, edging closer to her friend.

Elena took a deep breath and moved to him. She placed her fingers on his still warm skin. A faint pulse beat in the hero's muscular neck. "He's alive," she sighed in relief. Medical training took over for the ex-Turk, "Yuffie, find some Quadramean or Mako-cloroxide." she busied herself looking as well.

"Commina wha?" Yuffie responded. A glare from Elena stopped her, "right long 'Q' word or mako-something or other. Got it." Yuffie's materia hunter luck paid off, the first cabinet that she found contained over 20 jars of Quadramean. Elena tied off Cloud's arm while a very queasy Yuffie unhooked him from the odd table. "Now what?" Yuffie asked.

"This should work quickly." Elena stepped back and Cloud sat up gasping for air, red color rushed back into his pale face. He snapped his eyes open, they were an alarming violet color instead of his cobalt blue. "Cloud are you okay?"

Cloud shook his head slowly and fell back down to a laying position. "Re- Re-" he didn't even have the strength to speak.

Elena was strong, but there was no way that she could carry Cloud's dead weight without help. "We gotta go." she said desperately.

Amazingly Cloud forced himself to sit up again. "Can't leave Re-"

The door to the lab opened and Reno dashed into the room. "Grab your side 'Lany we gots ta GO!"

"WAIT a minute! Why should we-" Elena started laughing. "Holy, you are good Reno, did I ever tell you that? You shoulda been an actor!" She got on Cloud's right side while Reno lifted his left.

"You can praise me later, if Yrene wakes up and gets her hands on me I have a feeling that I will be incapable of having any more kids."


Barret and Rude were pacing about the Highwind, no one dared to interrupt them. Both were struggling silent battles, the others could only feel the tension and be glad they they were not involved. An old radio cackle broke the silence, "CID GET THE PLANE OFF THE GROUND! WE ARE ALMOST THERE!" Yuffie's voice cut the tense air.

Cid ran to the control room with a barrage of cussing. "Who all you have with you?" Reeve yelled.

"Every one! Reno needs the damn academy award! OH GAWD!" the line went out.

"Yuffie!" Rude yelled. The room stood still for a second and then everyone dashed up the stairs. "Tifa, you and Reeve stay down here with Trigger." The bald man ordered.

The scene on the deck of the Highwind was that of people watching a storm roll in. There was an army swiftly approaching the airship. The Highwind was hovering about ten or so feet above the earth as a beat up old Turk car slid to a stop below it in a cloud of dust. Reno and Elena had the still weak Cloud held up between them. Yuffie leaped out and caught the rope that Vincent tossed down. "Watch out!" Nanaki yelled as the zombie army opened fire. Cid turned on the guns of the Highwind to cover the escapees.

"I won't make that," Cloud said lowly as he looked up the rope.

"Don't give me that, this was your idea Spike." Reno growled. "Yuffie, send Vince or Rude down here to get him!" The army was coming closer, "tell the guys to shoot them in the head or don't bother!"

Yuffie suppressed the nausea that was threatening to overpower her. Her feet didn't even touch the ground before she rushed into Rude's arms. "I have NO idea what's going on!" she yelped. Rude hugged the young woman close, not caring that they were on a crowded ship.

Vincent jumped down from the still rising Highwind. He locked eyes with his son. Looking at the two- Reno decked out in a variation of Vincent's old costume and the now shorted hair on both men- there was no denying that Vincent was Reno's father. They said nothing, Vincent pulled Cloud up the rope with him with impressive ease. Elena and Reno followed.

Reno jumped to the deck and untied the rope, letting it and their pursuers who had reached it fall the 30 feet to the ground. He let out a ragged breath and and folded his arms over the rail of the airship sitting his head on top of them. "Thank Holy, that worked." he told himself.

"In coming!" Rovina yelled, causing Reno to snap his head up. Apollyon landed on the front of the Highwind, just beside the railing. Reno ran forward, Avalanche flanking him.

"You are a fool, Reno." the Aeon sneered. "You actually think that these insects have a chance against us?"

"What makes you any better then them?" Reno was too upset to be afraid. "Why don't you tell me that? You call them insects but they are free! You are a slave to an insane man!"

"Silence!" Apollyon almost roared.

"Hit a tender spot?" Reno smirked. "Leave before you are injured, Apollyon."

The Aeon jumped at Reno who blocked and dodged. Whatever Yrene had injected him with was wearing off, but he was still a fair match to Apollyon. For the moment at least. Apollyon drew his sword and swung. Reno hopped to the other side of the railing, balancing precariously on the outside of it. The railing took Apollyon's blow throwing a burst of sparks around them. Apollyon snarled as they danced about the railing. He missed Reno three more times.

"What's a mater? The half breed too fast for you and your pedigree?" Reno taunted as he jumped to the inside of the railing. The rail took yet another blow on his behalf. This time Apollyon's sword stuck into the rail. He was on the outside this round and Reno took the chance to shove at the Aeon. Apollyon released his sword and grabbed Reno by the back of the shirt as he fell. Both of them toppled off the Highwind. Reno felt an arm grab his, jerking him to a stop. Apollyon lost his hold and fell, Reno watched wide eyed as his attacker was lost from view. He tried to grab hold of the arm that held him, but it was to large. He was hanging by his wrist, totally helpless. Reno looked up, expecting to see Rude, the shock was plain on his face as he stared up at none other then Barret Wallice.

Ok Wallice, what do you do now? Barret asked himself as he looked down at the man that had killed so many of his friends. Pull him up or drop him?


            Reno looked down at clouds,  the planet was now far below him.  He didn't want to look back up at Barret Wallice again and see what the other was thinking. Sector seven could never be forgotten, by either of  them.  One would carry the guilt and the other a deep hate --both deserved and earned-- till the day they died.  Reno took a deep breath and looked back to the gun armed man, he was pretty sure that Wallice was going to drop him.  The other  man snarled at Reno, closed his eyes and jerked up.  Reno tumbled onto the deck of the Highwind, very unceremoniously, landing on his backside.  The red head looked  over to Barret, locking eyes with him.  Both were shocked at what had just happened,  Reno turned away and looked at the floor.  Barret looked confused or disgusted with himself. 
            Barret stalked away as a little form dashed up onto the deck, followed by Reeve and Tifa.  "DADDY!"  Suzanna yelled, rushing up to Reno.   She wrapped her arms  around his neck tightly.  Reno's face lit up, it was as if he hadn't just barely escaped death. As if life itself had suddenly became perfect.  He hugged his daughter close, putting his head on her shoulder.  He closed his eyes,  you're alright...  Thank Holy you are alright.   He let her go and pushed a red hair from her face.  She put her tiny hand on his scared cheek.  "You Okay?"  They asked at the same  time.  Reno hugged her again. 

"I am now."  He looked up to Rude, "thank you." The big Turk shrugged.  Reno turned to look at Cloud.  "You okay man?"

            Cloud was sagging between Vincent's shoulder and the rail of the Highwind, "I've been better."

            "I take back the meat head comment, nice plan."   Reno complimented as he stood up with Trigger still holding onto him. 

"Just the meat head one?"  Cloud coughed weakly.

"Yeah the others still stand."

"Fine, then I suppose I'll let the heroin addict one drop."  Cloud was trying to focus on something other then the way his head was spinning.  I haven't been motion sick for years.  He moved to the railing next to Yuffie.  "Urp."

"Thought you never got sick,"  a green faced ninja teased.  Yuffie turned to look at Cloud, her mouth agape,  "Oh holy Cloud what did they do to you?"  The hero did not look good at all.

"My fucking railing!  RENO!"  Cid yelled as he came around the ship.  "What the hell'd you do you son of a fucking bitch?"

"CID!"  Tifa yelled.  "Leave him alone, for christ's sake look at Cloud they just went through hell."

Reno looked at Tifa, she looked back at him.  "I've been called worse."  He mumbled to her.  "'Lany can you look at Cloud?  I have no idea how they made him that way."  As he spoke he felt the energy he had drain away. He dug into his pocket and handed Reeve a CD.  "This is all I could get.  I don't know what help it will be.  I need to sleep."



After Cloud introduced the contents of his stomach to the open skies, Elena began helping him down the stairs to the room she was using for lack of other options.  "Hey stay awake for me okay?  It won't be fun if you pass out and we both go over the stairs."

Cloud nodded.  She's strong, I know I am no lightweight.  Cloud fell to the bed with another lurch of his stomach.  "Thanks."  He muttered as he pulled over a trash can and willed his digestive system to behave.   He took a moment to look at Elena as she glanced into a medical bag.  She has great legs....

"You going to be sick again?"  She asked in a concerned tone.  Her mind was reeling, she was the medical expert of the group.  She had the best training, even worked under Gast for a time.  Elena had never seen anything like this before.  She was getting frustrated with the situation. This was confusing the hell out of her.  "When is the last time you ate?"

The hero shrugged, he was so tired.  "I don't even know."

She sat a comfortable distance from him.  I can't have him black out on me.  The quadramean worked the last time, so maybe another shot?  She frowned at the way Cloud's pupils were not dilating right.  "I am going to have to give you another shot."  She surmised. 

Cloud started a bit at that.  "Can't it wait?"

Elena bit her lip as she thought.  "I'm really sorry, but you don't look good at all."  You usually look DAMN good too, so that is saying allot.   Her eyes widened a bit at the thought.  She stood up and walked to her medical kit.  "It won't take long, promise. They don't hurt."

"I know."  He looked at the ground and felt a tremor threatening him.  Damnit Strife, stop this, it is just a shot.  No need to go into a full blown panic attack....  he wasn't helping himself and he knew it.

            "Do you want me to just surprise you?  Or do-"

            "Just get it over with."  Cloud snapped in sudden agitation.   I hate needles, I hate doctors....  I need to get a GRIP.

Elena blinked a few times at him.  She turned his arm over and tied it off above the elbow.   Holy, he's shaking...  Is it what they did to him? Or is something else wrong?  He flinched as she gave him the shot.

Cloud saw stars for a moment, he began to slide forward.  Elena caught him, the sudden contact brought him back to reality and he fell back to the head of the bed.  Propped up on one elbow he looked at her.  Pull it together man.  You are going to scare her.

"Are you sure you are alright?"  She looked into his bright blue eyes, very attractive blue... 'Lany, stop it woman!  You are supposed to be watching him, not anything else...  He looks so vulnerable,  its really sexy."

"I'm sorry, I just have this thing about being touched.  Hojo kinda fucked with my idea of human contact, I didn't mean to snap at you."  His unruly blond hair fell into his pained blue eyes.  The color had begun to return to his face. 

OH Holy,  Elena you idiot!  The whole shot thing makes sense now.  She stood.  "I am SO sorry.  I mean I just forgot.  Holy, Cloud I didn't mean to-"  She bit her lip, "I probably should leave you alone, I mean you need some rest and I talk to much."

"I don't think you do."  Cloud said, as he reached out held her wrist gently.  What am I thinking just grabbing her like this?  "I can't sleep right now anyway and I would much rather listen to you then stare at the ceiling."

All he did was touch her, why did it make her feel like electricity went up her spine?  Elena turned and looked at him, his eyes were so sad, so needy.  She wanted to hug him, but couldn't just do that too him.  It would be like taking advantage of him.  Why do I want to touch him so badly?  "Really?"  she asked at length.

"Yeah."  He turned so he could face her better, sitting up with his left leg off the bed, the foot of his right leg on the knee of his left. 

She sat down facing him,  twisting her hand up to hold his and sitting it on his right knee.  "Why is that?"  Elena asked in a huskier tone then she wanted to use, that wasn't flirty was it?

"You have much nicer legs then the ceiling, for one thing."   He blurted out.  Damn drugs... Why did I say that out loud?

She blushed and let out a laugh, "that was unexpected,"  she let go of him and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear.  "Nice, but unexpected."  She laughed again, a wild uncontrolled sound.  Very beautiful in Cloud's opinion.  They looked at each other neither one spoke for a few moments.  Elena talk to him!   "Hey I was going to ask you something."

"Shoot."  Cloud smiled weakly, hoping to have the topic introduced other then his interest in Elena's figure.

"You REALLY rode a Shirna CGM up the stairs in the Shinra building?"  Her tone was light and playful, well a little flirting never hurt anyone....

He blinked at her, bikes were safe to talk about.  He loved them,  machines in general made Cloud interested.  Motorcycles never pitied you, they never hurt you, they were just there. "Yeah I did,  it was a pain in the ass too.."

"On a CGM, I am so not surprised.  They have horrible steering."   Something glinted in her eyes.

"You  don't only drive cars I take it?"  Cloud sat up to look into her eyes better.  Aerith had been an exception for Cloud with her green eyes.  He had a thing for brown eyes, he really did.  Especially on blondes...

"No I drag raced before I was a Turk, don't get me wrong I love cars, but I wouldn't trade my Bahmute500 for anything."

Cloud's face lit up,  "You have a Bahmute500?  That's a Shinra special."  Well DUH Strife.  I mean she had to have access to it, she was a Turk.  "You have any others?"

"A Hemmy C78.   But that's just a trick bike."  She laughed again,  he's hot AND he likes bikes?  This is too good to be true.  "What about you?"

"I just finished my dragster.  Took the body of a Bahmute750, added the CGM's exhaust and intakes.  Made the blowers and used the axels from a HemmyS-Class." 

Elena's eyes widened,  "you are insane! All of that power?  Can the body take that?"  She was enjoying herself immensely now,  how many guys would even have the balls to TRY that.  I so gotta see it.

He shrugged.  "I know I'm crazy,"  his head still felt funny.  He looked over to the floor again, in a lower, almost ashamed tone he admitted,  "Thanks you know for talking to me,  I can't sleep without taking anything..."

She touched his shoulder, not even thinking about it.  He didn't move away from her this time.  Instead he just looked back up into her bright brown eyes.   "Hey, it's nothing to be ashamed of--  er I mean....  Sorry."  Open mouth insert foot.  Would you like fries with that?

"For what?"

"I talk to much."  She muttered looking at the floor.

"You don't."  When she looked back to him he smiled.  Elena found herself wishing he felt better.  "You are something.  Most woman half as pretty as you think that engines are nasty and messy." 

She blinked at him.  "You think I'm pretty?"



Rude and Yuffie were walking along the deck of the ship.  She found that as long as she wasn't thinking about being motion sick it wasn't that bad.  She smiled as him arm draped around her.  "Uhm ,  Rude?"  She asked as she leaned on the railing.

He looked at her in response.

"Do we have to go to Wutai?"  She turned her eyes up to him and moved closer, burring her head in his chest.  "I just don't want to go back there."  He hugged her,  "you won't leave me alone there will you?"

"No."   Rude answered.  "If he gives you problems we will leave.  Meet the others back in Junion."  The big Turk wasn't about to let Godo try to lord over her again.   It made him ill to think that he thought he could just marry her off when she returned from saving the whole planet.  Yuffie was a hero in her own right.  Maybe it was the after effects of Shinra, but he relished freedom now that he had it.  No one was going to take it from him or anyone he cared about again. 

He sounded so positive, so sure of himself.  It made her feel better about the whole thing.  "Thank you, Rude."  She closed her eyes,  what they had all talked about just moments ago made her frightened.  No one knew what was really wrong with Cloud.  No one knew if going to the temple of Leviathan was going to work.  All she knew was Rufus Shinra made her want to vomit and he wasn't dead yet.

Rude sighed and pulled her away from the railing. 

"What?"  She laughed, allowing him to lift her.  "Hey you big oaf.  Where are we going?"

"I want a shower."   He said flatly.

"Do you need help with that then?"  She teased.

"Yup."  He tossed her over his shoulder.

"Why do I have this feeling that I am getting carried away with you?"

He didn't answer her, but he smiled slightly.

I am going to tickle the living hell out of him.......



Nanaki, Rovina, Scarlet, Reeve and Vincent sat in the conference room.  The red beast shook his mane.  "I cannot believe that man is still alive.  What will we do if we can't get into the temple?"

Reeve's eyes narrowed.  "We will get in, Nanaki.  We have to."

Vincent nodded.  "We will force our way in if we have too."  The dark man sighed,  it was odd having almost all of his Turks working together again.  He missed Tseng badly sometimes.  The kid was so easy to annoy with his seriousness. 

"Force your way to a holy place?"  Rovina asked.  "I know that it may have to be done, but what if Reno can't connect?  What if he gets trapped in there.  Don't you have to be a priest of the temple to even be allowed in the altar?"

Nanaki nodded,  "What we are hoping is that Reno may use his bloodline to get in.  If he is half Aeon..."  His voice drifted off.  "And if not then we will cross that bridge when we come to it.  There could be other temples."

"If not, we will just have to find those orbs ourselves or die trying."  Scarlet interjected.  "I am NOT going to be a Shinra puppet ever again."   The entire room was filled with a silent agreement with her.  All minds were on the same circuit.  Never again.



 "I've been called worse."  Reno's words echoed in her head, it was  true.  He had been called worse, buy his best friend- his lover?  Tifa shook her head, they had agreed that until there was no Shinra they wouldn't be lovers.  That once it was gone they were planning on getting married,  having children- people could say what they wanted about Reno, but he was an amazing father-  have a family.  Now Shinra was gone, but she had lost Reno as well.

            What was I supposed to do?  He said he was going to crush part of my life.  He did crush it.  I love him still.  Despite all the blood shed he had caused and all the hurt, she loved him.  She missed those sad blue eyes that asked her to hold him, she missed TV on the couch.  More then anything she missed that feeling she got when she stood leaning on him in the doorway watching Suzanna sleep.  Just find him and tell him you miss him!

            Tifa took a minute to compose herself before opening Reno's door.  She was going to walk in and start talking, no room for him to say a word until she got what she wanted to say off her chest.  She had to get it out that no matter what he did, she would always love him.  She pushed the door open and stood in the peacefully silent room.   

Reno was asleep,  laying slightly on his side with one arm supporting his head.  Suzanna was also asleep, curled up with her head on his chest.  Reno's hand was on the small of her back, holding her close and safe.  Then gentle scene hit her as hard as a punch from Rude or Barret ever could. All of that self-righteousness was sucked from her.  Tifa realized that it was BECAUSE he was capable of such sacrifice for a loved one  that she loved him, not despite it.  Tears threatened her eyes,  I should go.

            Reno's eyes snapped open, bathing his face and his child in a soft blue light. He always was a light sleeper.  He looked over to her with those sad eyes that she had missed so badly.  Reno seemed confused to see Tifa there, standing at his door, her eyes full of tears. Then he smiled at her, a very weary smile. He could see his own longing reflected in her wine dipped eyes.  Holy, had he missed her.

            Tifa pushed the door the rest of the way closed.  Maybe we can talk about it?  She looked to Suzanna in peaceful child's slumber.  That odd feeling came over her again, almost an ache in the very core of her soul.  That feeling she had missed the most returned in all of it's wordless splendor.  She would call it love, but it was unlike any love she had felt before.  Had her own mother been alive, perhaps Tifa could have it explained to her.  That every mother could feel that happy pain.  She moved closer.

Reno slowly moved to not wake Suzanna.  He rolled to his back and the little girl shifted in her sleep, laying her head further down on his chest.  Reno extended the arm that had been behind his head and touched the empty opposite side of the bed.  It was no promise, it was no oath, it was all that it was.  A forgiving invitation.  He was the one offering to forgive.

She accepted, climbing next to them on the soft bed.  She put her forehead next to Reno's as he rolled back over and wrapped his arm around her shoulders.  Tifa slid one arm under Suzanna, who mumbled a  bit and fell back to sleep.  Her other arm found its way to Reno's hip.  She pulled herself closer to them both and realized how tired she was.  She fell asleep, finally feeling whole again.


Barret and Cid sat together in the cockpit.  The pilot was chain-smoking,  the gun armed man was silent.  "First Yuffie,  now Tifa...."  Barret muttered at length.  Two of is girls had grown up,  he was overwhelmed with the urge to see his own daughter again.  As much as he hated it, he felt old. Like he was being outdated.

Cid smashed one cigarette out and light another.  "I know man.  Holy,  Vincent surprised the piss outta me too."  The pilot let out a plume of smoke and jabbed his finger at it.  "I ain't going to say this to anyone else, but I would rather Yuffie be with Rude then who Godo had picked out.  No fuck'n wonder she ran away!"

Barret nodded,  it had been the chief shock of the evening to find out that Rufus was alive and well.  Yuffie had been vehement about not wanting to go to Wutai, but there were no other options.  It was the only temple they knew of in existence still.  In and of itself it was a long shot,  but then again so was the victory against Sephiroth. 

"Why didn't you drop him?"  Cid asked after about half a cigarette's worth of silence.

"I couldn't."  Barret growled.  "I mean look at his kid, I can't blame him for what he did.  I wanted to, but when I look back at it, I would have done the same fucking thing."  Maybe I am getting old.  I mean hell he's just a kid to me and that little girl a his....

"Really?  So you to getting along?  This is ONE fucked all to hell weekend."

The big man snarled at that.  "No, I understand him.  I still hate his fucking guts, wouldn't miss him if he happened to die a bloody death, but for Tifa's sake I can tolerate his presence." 

"Well, that makes two of us."  He leaned back in his chair,  "Hey have you seen Elena?"  Cid asked in an after thought.

Barret  thought for a minute.  "You think Spike coulda flipped out?"

Cid shook his head,  "he looked like he had it together for the most part.  I don't think that Reno and Rude would have let her alone with him if they thought that something could happen to her."

"You don't think that they--"  Barret started.

"No."  Cid shook his head,  "You really think that she and he'd....?"

They continued to sit in silence for a long while.  Both men missing their wives and homes.  Both feeling a little too old for what was going on.  Neither one ready to admit that just yet or throw in the towel.  If there was a fight to happen they were in it for the long hall, there was no way to keep them out of it.  They had families to protect, the world was not their main concern.  Let the young ones worry about things like that.   Life is too short for the world to hang in the balance,  isn't it?

Part 4

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