Completion Part 5
You really think that he'd let Yuffie run off in the rain like that? I don't own "Like the Rain." Talk to Mr. Clint Black about that.
Accompaniment one: Like the Rain
Yuffie felt tears threaten as the door to her home slammed for the final time in her face. She tried to choke back her tears, but a rumble of thunder over the hot city shook them loose. The rain began suddenly. Yuffie had never liked the rain.
I never liked the rain until I walked through it with you. Every thunder cloud that came was one more I might not get through.
She wasn't going to go back to her friends for help this time. She couldn't. Yuffie felt so helpless, but some things people had to do alone didn't they? Where would people be if they couldn't do anything on their own? She ran to the bridge, slipping on the newly slick stones.
But on the darkest day there's always light and now I see it too. But I never liked the rain.
Rude watched her from the corner of the palace. As the rain began to pound down on his head it made the warm night fog up his ever present sunglasses. He removed them and followed her. "I hate the rain." he muttered
until I walked through it with you.
She was leaning on the bridge, as if the world had crashed down about her shoulders yet again. Some force seemed to be tugging her to the ground. He forgot about the rain, the only water that concerned him were the tears that fell from her eyes. He swore that he could hear them hit the river over the now some how silent storm. He knew for a fact that he felt every one.
I hear it falling in the night, filling up my mind. All of heaven's rivers come to light
The mist was so think that she couldn't see the moon. She slumped down further, barely able to see in front of her face. Yuffie felt someone look at her, she sat up not bothering to wipe her face. She peered into the mist. Concentrating to low to see what she was looking for. She looked up to see lightly glowing eyes the color of the moon she had wanted to see when she first came to the bridge. Their tall owner so close.
I see it all unwind. I hear it talking through the trees and on the window panes. When I hear it I just can't believe I never liked the rain
"Rude?" She asked in a hushed tone. He brushed a rain slicked lock of hair from her face and pulled her to him. "I-I- I'm sorry," she sobbed into his chest.
Like the rain I have fallen for you and I know just why
He looked down into her gray eyes with his, a half smile on his face. The rain had ceased to exist- it couldn't contend with the storm in her eyes. Yuffie reached up through the rain and the mist to touch his chin.
You like the rain always calling for you I'm falling for you now. Just like the rain.
The lightning made them both look up at the night, instinctively they moved closer together. Rude tilted his head back down to see the woman in his arms.
When the cloud is over, thunder striking me. It's as bright as lighting and I wonder why I couldn't see
He didn't care about Lord Godo, about Wutai, about anything but her right now. How could he have been so blind? To not realize she had been worried about losing him? The rain continued to pelt down and the mist rose up, entwining with their legs. "You're not getting rid of me." He assured her.
That its always good and when the flood is gone we still remain
She laughed and pulled herself closer to him, "who said I'd let you go?"
Guess I've known all along I just belong here with you falling like the rain, I have fallen for you and I know just why you like the rain
Rude smiled at that as she hugged him. Her wet face against his wetter shirt. For the first time since it started he noticed the rain falling on them. For the first time he realized how clean the rain made everything seem. The clouds began to shift, the rain continued to fall.
Always calling for you I'm falling for you now just like the rain.
Just like the rain I have fallen for you, I'm falling for you now just like the rain
Yuffie sat her chin on his chest, unwilling to let go of him and unable to see his face any other way. She had wanted to be strong like him, able to be alone. She needed him, now what was she to do about it? She took a deep breath, "I love you."
And when the night falls on our better days and we're looking to the sky for the winds to take us high above the plains.
"You don't have to love me back." She started to feel the tears return. Yuffie berated herself for the weakness. For needing anyone who didn't need back. He pushed her back gently against the rail of the bridge again. He put his arms on either side of her, bringing their faces close
I know that we'll find better ways to look into the eye of the storms that will be calling
He kissed her, letting one hand hold her waist. She kissed him back, hearing what he couldn't say and feeling what there weren't words to describe.
Forever we'll be falling, like the rain I have fallen for you and I know just why you like the rain always calling for you I'm falling for you now just like the rain
He broke from their kiss for one slow moment, "I love you." This time Yuffie pulled Rude to her. He didn't have to say it again, not now or ever, she knew.
I have fallen for you and I know just why you like the rain always calling for you I'm falling for you now. Just like the rain.
Rude had been wrong about one very simple thing, "Yuffie?"
Like the rain
She laughed at him, reading his mind, "Guess we both do now don't we?" at his raised eye brow she wiped the side of his cheek, "I think that we both-
Like the rain".
MOVEMENT 7: Loose Ends
The tall flowing grass of the Wutain plain was shimmering with dew. However, from the Highwind towards the Temple of Leviathan there was a dark path in the silver-toned grass. Reeve leaned over the railing, looking at the path. Scarlet noted her husband’s longing sigh, the look of worry. She put her hand on his shoulder, “They’ll come back.”
Reeve forced a smile and looked back over the ship. Barret and Elmyra were talking with Shera. Marlene was pouting because she hadn’t been allowed to go with Suzanna and the others to the temple. “I know, but I still-“
“Your too nice for your own good Reeve.” The worry was not very well hidden in her own voice.
Rude looked down at his now wet jeans. The grass came up to almost his knees, meaning that almost everyone else was wet from the waist down. Yuffie pushed on in front of him urgently, her conformer glistened with the dampness and the falling moon. She wanted off Wutai as soon as possible. Nanaki and Rovina were on either side of the Ninja, not seeming to care that they were soaked. Steam hissed up from the damp plant life unlucky enough to come in contact with their flame tipped tails. Directly behind him Reno had Suzanna on his shoulders, she was asking questions of Tifa and her father. On the other side of Reno he knew was Vincent, ominous and brooding. Cid, Cloud, and Elena made up the end of the odd procession.
“Hey guys?” at Reno’s question Rude turned around and looked eye to eye with the child on his shoulders. He arched his eyebrow, Reno’s look was classic. The older red head adjusted one of the guns in his holster and looked up at his bald friend “How many blondes does it take-?”
“SHUT UP RENO!” Came a chorus from Cid, Cloud, and Elena. Reno and Suzanna snickered.
Some time later, the very wet heroes sat on the temple steps awaiting the priest. As the sun at last came into view, the whole group turned to look at the temple. It was almost magically alight, with the rising sun making the ruddy bricks glow and the shadows of the statues reach down into the holy place. It was perfection of ancient design. A loud clearing of a throat broke the spell. “What may I ask are you people after?”
Cloud- who was busy checking the material in his ultima weapon- spoke first, “We need in the Temple of Leviathan.”
The priest looked at Cloud, fear writ on his round face. The old man looked from him to Vincent. His dark eyes glanced further about the others, noting that they all were carrying weapons of various types. It took a moment for the older man to find his voice, “I cannot-“
“We aren’t asking, Tueso.” Yuffie had a gentile tone in her voice for him. The priest was her friend and she didn’t want to cause him to much trauma. “Please, don’t fight with us, I don’t want you hurt.”
“So you would force your way in a holy place, M’lady?” The priest, Tueso swallowed again as he took in the large man at her side.
“We don’t want to force.” Yuffie made her way down the slick stone steps to face the priest. She motioned to Reno, “he needs in the inner chambers.”
Tueso shifted from foot to foot. He was an old and out of shape holy man, his knees worn from kneeling and prayer. Before him stood a seasoned group of fighters he looked up to the red heads and the two beasts beside them. “I will allow it then, there is no way I could stop you. Just know that Leviathan punishes those who defile his holy place.” He walked past the heroes as he spoke and tossed open the gates with practiced ease. He bowed and entered the temple, motioning for the others to follow him.
Vincent hung back, inspecting the elaborate doorway. Do you hear that?
All I hear is your annoying voice. Vincent let go of the doorway as he hissed back to the stinging in his brain.
THE SONG! You ignorant fool. Chaos sounded almost sad, there was a longing note to his voice that Vincent didn’t think the monster capable of.
Mind your own business Valentine. And that was that, for once he was silent. Vincent closed his eyes and tried to hear something, but there was nothing to hear save his comrades foot steps on the solid stone walkways.
As soon as Reno entered the inner chamber he heard a song. A brilliant hymnal, “Where’s the music coming from?” He turned to the priest.
The old man looked at him with a perplexed eye. “There is no music.”
“I hear it too.” Suzanna moved to the enormous Leviathan statue. Her red hair moved slightly, as though the statue was breathing.
Reno immediately scooped up the girl and gaped at the statue. He should have been concerned for his child, but that song was calming and familiar. “You heard it?” in all honesty Reno had almost expected her to.
“Yup.” Suzanna twisted to put her arms around her father’s neck. “It’s called the Hymn of Faith. Or something like that.”
“ Hymn of the Faith…” Reno corrected the meaning before it registered that he knew the words.
“How do you know that?” Tueso was getting agitated, he knew the hymn yes, but he had never heard it as these two were. He was not an overtly trusting man, but he could tell, the way they almost closed their eyes, the way the statue breathed, the two red heads were connected to this place in a way Tueso had only dreamed of. He didn’t understand, he had lived his whole life for the temple and prayed to the gods. How could these two be closer to them then he?
“I just do.” The statue seemed to draw Reno to it. He looked up into the sapphire eyes of the stone dragon and felt its cool salty breath on his face. “Trigg stay back with Tifa,” he muttered absentmindedly as he sat the girl down. He took one step slowly, eyes never leaving the glittering jewels.
Nanaki and Rovina also neared the statue it was carved from a lapis lazul, polished and brilliant. The song also rang in their ears, not coming from any one place but being of everything in the inner sanctum. “What are they singing?” Nanaki asked to Reno.
Reno moved forward again, torn between rushing back outside to the life that he knew was his and letting that dormant part of him awake and touch the statue. “Like all things, it lost meaning with time.” He lifted his hand to the statue. “My mom sang it to me…”
The great beasts noted Reno’s near trace state, they both stood in between him and the statue, touching it as well. “It’s warm!” Rovina exclaimed.
“It’s breathing….” Light flooded the room like a brilliant high tide. It soundlessly cut Nanaki’s voice off. The others were frozen in a state of complete shock. The wave of light washed about the sanctum hiding everything from view for just a second at a time.
Vincent looked at Cloud the blond was reacting differently to the light then most of the people in the chamber. He felt the same way Vincent himself did, even if the dark man refused to totally acknowledge the pain. The light was painful it stung almost as completely as Choas’ voice. It was a pure burning glare of acid, not a brilliant light.
Tifa let out a wordless sound of shock and the dark man stared at the statue. Reno, Nanaki and Rovina were gone.
Vincent moved to the statue in alarm, people didn’t just disappear. DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. Chaos thundered, the pain from the light was nothing compared to the smog the demon let out. Valentine you sit your ass down! You touch that thing and you will regret it. No one will leave this chamber alive but you and me. And I’ll start with that red headed brat. Understand?
Son of a whore! All right you don’t need to say it again. Chaos was the most bi-polar creature in existence Vincent hit his knees and took a deep breath, calming himself and pushing back at Chaos who still threatened to escape.
“Vinnie?” Yuffie was kneeling beside him, “you Ok Vinnie?”
He glared at her, not as angry as he pretended to be, “Chaos is very agitated…” He backed up to the doorway and leaned next to Cloud again. The blonde man looked confused, “you okay Strife?”
“My head’s killing me. I – I think that I am going to sit outside for a few.” Vincent nodded and turned to go with cloud, he too needed air.
“Wait,” Elena said startling even herself. “You guys don’t look so hot. I- I’ll go with you.” She cursed at herself for sounding like that, but she WAS worried. More so about Cloud, for some reason she just wanted to have him in eyesight.
Cloud smiled at her, both he and Vincent waited for her before they walked out of the inner sanctum.
Suzanna bit her lip as she clung to Tifa. The little girls green eyes were threatening tears. “Where’s Daddy?”
“He’ll come back Trigg,” Tifa brushed some red hair from the child’s face, “Ok?”
Cid ran his hand along the statue, “It feels like its alive or some shit like that.”
Everyone stood silently, trying to think of an explanation. The priest shook his head in disbelief. “Those two beasts were Ronsi? That could explain this, but he?”
“Ronsi?” Yuffie laughed halfheartedly. “That’s just a fairy tale… right?”
“I don’t know now M’lady.” He quickly took off to the relic chambers. Not even worrying now that the vagabond warriors would harm anything.
The little Ninja stood next to Rude looking at the various weapons displayed on the chamber walls, her head on his chest. “Ronsi were supposed to be the guides in and out of the Aeon plane. They could take Centra or Aeon’s back and forth. But- that means…”
Yuffie’s explanation was cut short as Cloud, Elena and Vincent ran back into the sanctum. Right on their heels was Apollyon. The statue of Leviathan seemed displeased with the Aeon’s intrusion. The Temple itself began to shake and a purple smoke flared from its nostrils. Tifa fell to her knees, arms around Suzanna in case anything was to fall from the old ceiling. The priest’s voice could be heard from the relic room. Things even in there were crashing to the stone floor. As the ground shook Elena fell. She kicked out as she hit the ground, skinning her elbows and hitting Apollyon in calf. She would have hit the knee and broken it, but the Aeon lifted his leg. He drew his blade, icy blue eyes burning with anger at her daring to strike him.
Elena’s elbows stung, she felt her skin scrape on the pale sandstone colored floor. She knew that Apollyon was about to kill her. She closed her brown eyes and cringed. The next thing that she heard was the clash of steel on steel. The ex-Turk rolled to her back and gasped.
Cloud had lunged at Apollyon, meeting the masume with the ultima weapon. He forced the Aeon’s blade over and faced off with him. Jenova blue eyes burned into ice blue ones. For the second time Cloud surprised Apollyon by being capable of fighting back. The blonde hero attacked, sparks flew from their blades. Both fighters never broke eye contact as they clashed again and again, Cloud driving back and Apollyon defending. The Aeon snarled, yet again insulted to be attacked by this creature. He wanted to draw Cloud out to where the SOLDJETSI and Yrene were waiting, but the blond had other plans.
Cloud leapt back after he had driven Apollyon out the doors. It took everyone to close them again. Vincent, Rude, and Cid lifted a huge blocker and placed it in the slots that hadn’t been used for years. Even Wutai’s temple had been built for war; to be defended. Yuffie was frantically talking into her PHS for Barret to get the Highwind off the ground. Cid was spewing curses and lit a cigarette. Tifa sat in the center of the room holding Suzanna close. The others stared wide eyed at the doors as Tuseo came up from the relic room.
The door shook violently; more then just Apollyon was banging on it, he had an army with him. Tueso looked to his stone deity and did the only thing he could think of, he fell to his knees with a grunt of pain. Then in old Wutain, Tuseo began begging Leviathan for help.
“What do we do?” Tifa stroked Suzanna’s hair as she spoke; the little girl was hiding her face in Tifa’s shoulder.
Cloud helped Elena off the ground then he leaned against the wall and closed his eyes. He left his arm around the ex-Turk. Elena pretended not to notice, but she leaned into him, putting her hand over the one of his that held the ultima weapon which was pointed to the floor. “I think that Tueso has the best idea.”
Nanaki opened his eye to see a young man looking at him with a very perplexed face. The powerful young warrior had almond red skin. Scars ran along his bare and defined chest. Two tattoos were on his left bicep, a tribal band and the Roman numeral for 13. His dark, near black hair fell like a mane over his strong shoulders. The low-cut buckskin pants barely concealed his powerful legs. Without a doubt this young man was truly a warrior. Nanaki tried to jump up, this young man did also. The great beast had no balance, he felt helpless. The young warrior only moved when Nanaki did and looked back at him with one green eye. Slowly the realization that this was a reflection dawned on the beast. He looked down to himself and saw that in fat HE was that warrior in the buckskinned pants. He tired to stand, but lacked the center of balance to use two legs and fell back onto something soft.
“OWW!” Came Reno's voice from behind him. Nanaki turned his head to see what was the matter with Reno but he fell to the side as his cushion was yanked out from under him. Nanaki then rolled to his stomach and looked at where Reno’s voice had came from. Once again his eye went wide with shock. The ex Turk had gone through drastic changes as well it seemed. Reno’s voice came out of a little, furry, aqua blue animal. It sat back on its haunches and hugged a tail longer then it was. It then glared at Nanaki with bright red eyes, under those eyes were twin white scars. If he needed any more proof that this creature was Reno it spoke, "DAMNIT Nanaki!" He indignantly let go of the tail, "That hurt!" Reno seemed more at ease with the situation then Nanaki had thought he would. Reno’s long rabbit-like ears swiveled to the side.
“Reno?” Came Rovina’s voice, Reno then found himself lifted up in the air. He came face to face with an ebony beauty. Her strong face shone in the sunlight, a river of blue-black hair cascaded down her proud back in flowing wonder. Despite all her beauty she was obviously a warrior herself, she was full of power and grace. And when she spoke, she was Rovina. “You are adorable!" Reno’s tail curled just above her knees, she lifted him effortlessly. "Look at you!" She teased, as though she was talking to a small pet, “you’re like a little rabbit.” She was elated, this was just as the tales of her people said it would be. Everything was making sense to her now. Even the change had happened.
Reno himself was just over three feet long, and most of that was tail. He let out a little growl at her cooing. "If you do not put me down I am going to give in to this lingering urge to bite you."
“Aww, your no fun.” Rovina bent down and replaced Reno on the polished floor. She then extended her hand to Nanaki. “Welcome home Nanaki.”
Reno looked at himself and shook his head, “I’ve only had dreams like this…” He curled the tail about him, finding it not to difficult to maneuver. However, he lacked the taller radial view of his 6’3” human form. “This makes a really creepy and twisted sense…”
“Nothing creepy about it. You remember Nanaki? How some Centra came here and some remained on the planet? You remember the tales right? We were supposed to be the guides to this world. It isn’t a fairy tale!” She jumped, up like a child. Somehow she even managed to be immature with a deep grace. “Don’t you see? We could NOT be the last! There could be others!”
Nanaki stood slowly, a smile widened on his handsome face. “Yes, holy!” He looked at her in awe, she was really a vision. Nanaki took her in his arms in an excited hug. “This is real! We could come back to the planet!” He swung her around.
All his life he had been told of how after the great war his people went with the Aeon race to their new world. But this new world, a part of the lifestream was too permanent for them. They wanted to live and love and die. Not to have everlasting life, they didn’t want eternity. They wanted to feel to love and to know that every moment was precious. So they were allowed to go between the worlds. However, they had to lose their human form on the planet, it was the only way to keep humans from knowing what they were and trying to once again enter the race and the Aeon world. And now he knew for a fact that it was the truth, that it wasn’t a legend, that maybe somehow he could bring his people back to the planet they loved so much.
“The temples were the gateways…” Reno looked down the brilliantly smooth path. He flipped a perfectly oval stone from it. Everything here was shining, polished and smooth, there were no harsh edges to anything. If his face would have been capable of it, Reno would have frowned. This was so permanent, so unchanging, like death itself. Only this was beautiful. But then great art could last forever as well.
“Reno? What’s wrong?” Rovina crouched to look him in the eye.
“This is so, unreal. It will be just this way in a thousand years. I just think that is sad for some reason.” His long ears drooped along his back as he spoke. He looked down at the tip of his long tail as he drooped closer to the ground. He looked over his shoulder at a Leviathan statue, a sapphire copy of the one they touched to get here. Reno wanted to go home where he was tall, where his daughter was, where Tifa was. But first they needed help. It was just a matter of finding it.
Reno picked his ears up and they swiveled to the side. He sat up on his haunches and looked over, “Some ones coming.”
Over the motionless hills a tall ruddy skinned man appeared. His hair had been black at one time, but now it had gone to a wizened gray. He bowed to the three newcomers and smiled. “My son, I am so proud of you.” His cultured voice slid like the perfect stream down the hill. He turned to Rovina, “My dear, it pleases me to no end that you two have found each other.” Both Nanaki and Rovina were gaping at the older man. He then turned to Reno, “come along then, sir.”
“Reno.” The ex-Turk corrected, “you are Seto?”
“I am,” The old warrior responded with a smile.
“Father?” Nanaki took a deep breath to quell his excitement, “where are we going?”
“To see Reno’s aunt. She is expecting us.”
CRESENDO THREE: DARKNESS RISING
Cloud looked down at Elena, her heart was pounding against his chest. No one had really moved. Nanaki, Rovina, and Reno had been gone for over twenty minutes. There was no sign of them returning. The door continued to shake, the supports were starting to crack, throwing splinters down to the ground. He tightened his arm about her, his own heart beating a mile a minute. “Tueso?”
The holy man finished his prayer and looked over at the blond hero. “Yes?” He slowly stood on his old legs, shaking in fear.
“Is there another way out of here?” The door was crackling as if it were on fire. A large chunk of it finally came lose and rested at Cloud’s feet. He ignored it, thin dusty pieces of the brace had dusted the stone. With every pound a crack down the center widened.
“No, there is only the door that is blocked. We are trapped.” Every beat made Tueso’s heart leap further; from his stomach to his shoes and back.
“GOT DAMN IT ALL TO HELL!” Cid bellowed in frustration, “I did NOT outlive that fight with Sephi-fucking-roth to end up dead because of some psychotic Aeons! What are we going to do Spike?”
“Fight, it’s all we can do.” Cloud forced himself off the wall, reluctantly leaving the other blonde alone. “Take those weapons off the wall, we are going to need them. Tueso, you hang back, stay out of the way. Rude and Yuffie, try to corner Yrene. Vincent your going to take Apollyon with me. Every one else keep us clear of those SOILDJETSI or whatever the hell they are called. Get ready.”
“My AUNT?” Reno questioned Seto. “I wasn’t aware that I had one.”
The wise old warrior chuckled, “She is your mother’s twin. I think that you will find her more then happy to see you.”
“How would she know about me?” He gave up on looking into the tall man’s face, in his current form now it was simply impossible.
“Ever have a dream like this?” Seto guided them over still, clean hills. They crossed a crystalline bridge over a silent stream. He stopped and looked up into the cloudless sky. It never rained, never snowed, never was below seventy degrees; this land was a picture, unchanging beauty.
The utter perfection was almost to much for Reno to bear. He never had stopped to think about his home before, rolling hills, starry nights, the ever changing life of his planet was missing here. “When my mom was alive I had them a lot, I have them less since I have gotten older.” Reno watched the fish that were aimlessly swimming about in the still water. They looked bored. “Why do you ask?”
“You Aeon’s are tied to this world at all times, you can visit in your dreams. Even though Sillian was unable to physically return she could be here in her dreams, like a ghost if you will.” Seto looked down to the young creature, “Sillian told her sister all about you.”
“Oh.” Whenever you could sleep in that damn roach motel you got to see your family. Reno closed his eyes, it had been almost twenty years since his mother was killed and he had been left with his scars. She had come from this strange, abstract perfection, lived through Hojo, all for what? To die on a hotel bed at the hands of some sick bastard. Reno pushed the lump in his throat back.
Nanaki saved Reno from his thoughts for a while. He was worried, Reno was never like this, dejected and down trodden. “Father, what are you doing here? I thought you would be in the lifestream. I admit that I am confused, all of this-” he motioned to the world about them, “-I read about. But you, how did you get here?”
“I am not dead yet. I am petrified. Our canyon was the ground site of the Holy Temple of Ifrit many years before even I was born. My spirit can reside here until I pass on into the lifestream.” He crouched near Reno, “please young one we must move on, you have a lot to accomplish today.”
As they continued past softly dome shaped houses and rounded, shining flower beds Seto explained more. About the Ronsi having the same ancestors as the Centra. About how the Ronsi had moved to this world while the Centra remained with the humans. Reno felt this odd familiarity with the town, he knew it. The place was growing on him, but he needed change, his life had thrived on it. It would be a nice place to visit however, calm and relaxing.
“We are here.” Seto knocked on a double door to a gently sloping house. The little flower bed was in perfect condition. The flowers nearly choked it, a rainbow of sparkling color. Two of the windows were extremely low on the side.
“Why two doors?” Rovina asked as she smelt the tulip shaped flowers. She could hardly contain her joy. The idea that there may be more of her kind, that the great Seto was here, that it all made sense. It made everything worth it.
“Cari is smaller then Reno, but she has many friends who are larger, such as myself. So she has two doors."
A sweet, perky voice came from within. “Come on in!”
“Well Reno?” Seto smiled, his tanned face resembling his son’s. "Go on."
“Aren’t you guys coming in?” Again his large ears laid down, he was nervous.
“In a while. I want to catch up with Nanaki and show them some things.”
Reno swallowed and pushed open the door.
Tifa pushed Suzanna behind her, eyes on the door. “Go into that other room Trigg.”
“I’m scared.” She hugged Tifa’s leg. She looked up to the brunette fighter, “don’t leave?”
“Wouldn’t dream of it. I just got you back.” I just got BOTH of you back… Tifa took her fighting stance as the brace finally snapped. Both doors flew open, throwing the broken plank in two directions across the room. The statue almost groaned in protest and the room shook. The SOILDJETSI stumbled into the room. Blood dripped from the formost’s hands only to be sucked up by the sawdust. Over a dozen flooded the room.
Then, eyes being seen long before bodies, entered Apollyon and Yrene. “He is gone, brother.” Yrene’s icy voice only enraged the statue more, its eyes began to glow. “You held us up.”
“We would have him still sister, had you not been fooled.” Apollyon drew his sword and snarled at Cloud, “just make your life easier and give up. You are making me angry.”
Cloud said nothing, he leveled the Ultima weapon with one arm at the Aeon.
Yrene saw Suzanna, still behind Tifa. “Give her to us and we won’t hurt her.”
“Over my dead body.” Tifa hissed at the Amazon.
“Territorial are we sparrow?” Yrene’s green eyes narrowed, her words like an ice pick at the smaller woman.
“You could say that.” Tifa Lockheart responded.
The door didn’t even have a chance to close before Reno found himself tackled under a smaller rabbit-fox like creature. They both tumbled end over end. “RENO!” she squeaked happily.
“What? Who?” Reno asked amidst paws plucking at his cheeks and looking at his ears. He yanked his tail back and regarded his gentle assailant. She looked like him, except for a jewel-like center to her forehead. She was a light green color, her long tail waiving with excitement.
“My you’re a big boy!" She sat up on her haunches as well and looked up at him, then she poked his stomach lightly with a small paw. "Kind of thin though, have you been eating?” She didn’t give him a chance to really answer, instead she wrapped him in a hug. “OH I still can’t believe that it’s you!” She held him at paws length, “how about some tea dear?”
Reno sat in stunned silence. He watched the little green creature as she hopped from stool to stool putting the tea on. His eyes drifted to her modest, tidy living room. She had different sized furniture, high stools for herself and larger chairs for company. He hopped to a stool himself. Not really thinking about how effortless the jump was. “I-“
“You have to tell me about yourself! I don’t know anything about you past five!” She hopped around and cocked her head at him.
Reno couldn't help but feel welcome by her. "Thank you but really I don’t-"
“Don’t you be silly dear, I’m your aunt! Are you married? Do you have a family?”
He laughed, she was so much like his mom, just much more excitable. “What’s your name?”
She put her paws to her mouth, “oh Holy! I was so excited to actually see you that I forgot! I’m Carbunkle, but you call me Cari. Everyone else does.” She immediately wrapped him in a hug again. “Now. Talk!” she demanded playfully.
“Well, I have a daughter-”
“A DAUGHTER!” Cari chirped. “Where is she? You have a wife?”
“No," He rubbed behind his ears and looked at the ground, "I am not married. She’s with my- uhm friend.” He wanted to call Tifa his girlfriend, but he wasn’t one to jump to conclusions.
Cari nodded, she didn’t seem to need an explanation of that. “Her mother passed on I assume?”
“Yeah,” he continued to look at the ground, only for a moment more. He was hugged again.
“Oh, poor dear. I really don't care about things like that. I know she has to be prefect. I will meet her soon I hope. Don’t be sad.”
Reno hugged her back this time, very loath to hurt her feelings. He immediately liked her. “I will bring her soon. This isn’t a social call though.”
The tea whistled and she turned about to take it off the burner. “I know, I could tell that much.” She handed him a cup, “start from the beginning Reno. You’ll have to catch me up.”
Reno related his life to her. From his mother’s death on to the fall of Shinra. He then began to get into Yrene and Apollyon.
“SHE DID WHAT?” The little Aeon bristled with anger. “How dare she! She didn’t hurt you did she?”
“No,” Reno lifted his paws to calm her. “I am alright for now, but I doubt she will be taking no for an answer.”
Cari seemed to calm slightly, but her bushy tail still bristled. “No, brats like her rarely do. Continue please, I am sorry I interrupted.”
“No, its fine.” He continued to tell her about Cloud, Jenova and Havoc. Then he mentioned that Vincent was around.
“You mean Vickaler? Your father?” Cari blinked, “He is alive?”
“Yeah that’s the same guy. Trigg's the only one that calls him Vic any more. I think his is alive, sort of.” Reno rubbed his ear. “He’s more like bonded to Chaos-“
“WHO!” Cari dropped her cup. Whatever it was made of didn't break, it simply bounced on the floor. "Chaos? You are certain?"
Reno nodded, "Yes. For some time now. Vincent- err- he and I don't really talk much."
"And, this Cloud you are with. He is bonded to Havoc? Please be absolutely certain…"
"Yes, like I told you, they basically told me everything. I am positive."
She shook her head, "I'm proud of you, being so clever. But make SURE this Cloud fellow and Vickaler never meet-"
"What? Its too late for that!" Reno could feel panic in his voice. "Why, how do you know them?"
She leapt from the stool, "Come on, we have to go! I'll explain later."
"No, what is wrong? Please, my daughter's where they are!"
She halted and turned her red eyes up to his. "Oh, Holy… Reno, Havoc and Chaos hate each other. They will stop at nothing to kill each other." With that she tore out the door. "Hurry! Follow me!" They dashed out the door.
Yrene wasted no time, with a snap of her long fingers the SOILDJETSI rushed forward in a stumbling, mindless troop. Elena began the retaliation by pulling her death penalties and firing. Tifa used the little bought time to push Suzanna with Tueso into the relic room. The brunette pulled a pair of katana's off the wall and threw them to Rude.
While the main force was making an effort to keep the SOILDJETSI at bay Cloud circled with Apollyon. The two combatants said nothing, their eyes locked. Then three shots rang out. The Aeon ducked, but was hit by three bullets from Vincent's weapon. As Apollyon whirled on the ex-Turk Cloud attacked. The Aeon had to spin and catch the blonde's blade to the side. Vincent scored deep on his arm with his claw as Apollyon spun. The Aeon snarled in agitation. He jumped up and grabbed Vincent's shoulder. Apollyon jumped over Vincent's head, at the last moment he threw hard, casting the ex-Turk under him and into Cloud.
Cloud fell, just out of the way of Vincent's claw, both men hit their backs. At the same moment Apollyon's sword hit the stone in between them. The Aeon swung his sword in an arch forcing the two further apart. Leaving Cloud alone for a split second he centered on Vincent. The masume blade came down yet again, with a shower for sparks and a squealing of metal Vincent caught the blade in his claw. They spun in a half circle, Apollyon trying to force the blade down and Vincent holding.
The Aeon snarled, he lifted his blade and swung it like a bat, both of his strong hands on the blade. Vincent twisted, using his metal arm to tip the blade. The flat of the masume hit the ex-Turk on the side of the head, throwing him over. He lifted Vincent and threw the dark man against the wall. The stone cracked slightly as Vincent's head connected. The ex-Turk slumped down against the wall, conscious but his head spinning.
Cloud attacked from the side, feinting to the left. He grunted as the blades cracked against each other. They passed each other three times, the taller Aeon continuously attacked downward making Cloud keep the heavy ultima weapon above his head. The blonde's arms began to tingle, his muscles bunching up in knots. Sweat fell from his hair into his face, stinging his eyes. They danced back to the doors of the chamber. Apollyon ducked swiftly, scooping up a handful of sawdust and he threw it into the blonde's face.
When Cloud flinched the Aeon dropped his sword, and grabbed him. He bent Cloud's wrist back forcing the blonde to let go of his blade and lift his other hand to the Aeon's arm. Cloud hissed in pain and tried to break the Apollyon's hold. The blonde kicked out to trip the Aeon. He failed, instead he was spun about, both of his wrists trapped in front of his body by one of Apollyon's hands. He felt the Aeon's nails dig into the back of his neck. Apollyon's voice rang out " Sentio obscurum ortus, oscuritê, Ascensore dentro. Permissum is sicco , deprehendo vos!"
Cloud was thrown to his knees, his vision blurred. Suddenly there was a stinging within his veins. He was used to pain, Hojo saw to that. Pain of the body was something as familiar as his own face, but this burned. This consumed him. Cloud closed his eyes, his muscles started popping, his left arm felt like it was on fire.
"Cloud!" Elena watched him hit his knees and rushed over to him. She touched his shoulder and gasped at the heat she felt. He clenched his teeth and then, with no exclamation of pain on his part, a single dark wing sprang from the hero's back. It extended with a loud crunching sound, blood flew from it and was soaked up by Cloud's now torn tee-shirt. Elena worked her mouth, but no words came out, she let go of his shoulder and stared at her hand. His blood dripped from it. A bestial snarl came from deep in his throat. She touched him again. Elena was so intent on looking at Cloud's face that she didn't notice the claw that had formed on his left hand.
The blonde stopped shaking, he turned navy colored eyes up to the ex-Turk. Elena found herself lifted into the air and hauled backwards. She looked over her shoulder to see Rude.
The bald ex-Turk had possibly saved Elena's life. Cloud's newly clawed hand was buried into the stone floor where Elena had been sitting. With another snarl he ripped the claw out leaving a hole. He rose to his feet slowly, the leather wing outstretched with more loud popping. Then his navy eyes looked over his body. While the face and most of the body was still Cloud's the voice was from some outer region of hell. "Apollyon! What the hell is wrong?" He ignored the heroes and strode to the Aeon, "Vos no a travisare tu pazzo!"
The Aeon was gripped by the collar and dragged nose to nose with whatever Cloud had become. "We can fix it, just get the girl." Was that fear in Apollyon's voice?
He dropped Apollyon and took a deep breath through the nose, senting the air like an enormous wolf. Another low growl escaped his deep chest and he lunged to the relic room. He didn't need another wing to fly it seemed, he cleared the distance in one bound. The door flew open.
Suzanna ran out ducking under the ultima weapon, which only barley missed her. With a snarl the monster rushed after her. She hit a wall and spun around, pressing her small back against it. "Who- who are you?" She stammered trying to scoot even further back into the stone wall.
"Deliverance." The deep snarling voice echoed off the walls.
Her green eyes narrowed, the little girl reached down into her boots and pulled out a butterfly knife. She had been taught how to use it well. Reno saw to it that she could protect herself. She ducked under the blade again and ran to the monster, it hadn't expected this. It's dark eyes widened as she cut down it's side and then darted the other way. She didn't score deeply, but the wound drew blood.
It howled in anger and clawed at the child as she ran away. "Meretricis!" It cursed. It slashed again, this time catching her with it's talons and throwing her a few feet. Sword drawn, it leapt at her. Suzanna rolled into a sitting position, the sparks from the blade hitting the stone singed her. The little girl was frozen in fear and badly hurt, she couldn't run any more. Tears fell down her face, blood came from her cheek, neck and arm where the claws broke the skin. She was shaking, her wide emerald eyes pleaded in vain.
Whatever Cloud had become lifted the ultima weapon above its head. It then fell to the side. Navy eyes widened in surprise. With another snarl it looked up at Tifa Lockheart standing in front of the girl. "You want to fight I will give you one." The brunette proclaimed.
It stood slowly, sheathing Cloud's sword and popping the wing out again to relieve a kink. Once the wing was folded again it laughed sending a chill up her spine. Cloud's hair drooped slightly, touching his broad shoulders. "You humans are pitiful, girl. Getting yourself killed over a child that isn't even yours."
Vincent shook his head, Chaos' voice beat into it like a storm. HAVOC kill him! Kill him! Kill him! Vincent had no power to stand, he sunk to the floor and let Chaos have his way.
With a gross snapping of bone and flesh Chaos took over the body. He slammed into the other demon in a hissing rage.
The monster's eyes widened, "Chaos…." It whirled drawing the blade and slashing.
"Havoc!" The demon's red eyes flared as it caught the sword and pulled, "still to weak to fight on your own pup?"
With another snarl the beast let go of Cloud's sword and threw his shoulder into Chaos. The demon hit the wall, cracking the stone, and creating an indentation. "I don’t need a blade to hold you off you old fool." He noted that Tifa was trying to sneak away with Suzanna and threw a roundhouse to her.
Cloud before Havoc's bonding was more then powerful enough to break bones. This raw power was unbelievable. Tifa twisted, taking the blow in her ribs. She felt them crack as she was thrown to the next wall. Both the little red head and Tifa smashed into the wall with force. "Did I tell you to move girl?" Suzanna whimpered in response and hugged Tifa's unconscious form.
Chaos flew up from his indent in the wall and snarled. "Sto slake," he murmured, waving his claws. A skull formed below Havoc, who flapped his single wing and launched himself into the air. The stone floor crackled to powder, more skulls began to form around the ceiling. They smashed through an alter, the doors, the walls and the floor.
"Nice try." Havoc hissed. Once again the two demons clashed, snarling like a cat and a dog. The temple itself cried and shook, stones falling. They hit the walls, the ceiling, the floor, paying no attention to the SOLDJETSI they crushed or the other combatants that had to dive out of the way. Havoc pushed off from above the statue of Leviathan and bailed into Chaos. Rude and Yuffie fell backward, leaving Yrene to be slammed into by the raging demons. They hit the already broken alter reducing it to ornate, sparkling rubble. The Aeon snarled, she kicked back hard with her legs, freeing herself from the rolling demons.
Apollyon stood behind her, "Interesting don't you think sister?" He looked about the demolished temple. His eyes found the heroes, regrouping in a corner. Tifa was slowly coming around. Elena and Rude stood guarding her as Cid and Yuffie saw to Tifa and Suzanna's wounds. The blonde looked up and daylight entered the temple through a new hole in the ceiling. She then looked at the statue, hurry Reno…
CRESCENDO THREE CONTINUES: DARKNESS SLEEPS
The two Aeons drew their blades. The heroes were cornered, attacking now would mean victory for Apollyon and Yrene. There was a snarling above their heads, the ceiling cracked open, pouring even more daylight into the now bright room. The demon's roared at each other. They fell together, like two eagles at war, plummeting at the Aeons. Apollyon and Yrene hopped over as the demons hit the ground between them. Chaos pushing in this time, to Havoc who hit the ground, causing more cracks to the temple floor. Havoc threw his arms up, driving Chaos back and yet again they were both in the air, snarling curses in their demon tongue. The temple wouldn't be able to take much more of this abuse. Like a force of nature, there was no stopping the demons. The Aeons looked back to the heroes.
"Looks like you lose." Yrene extended a hand to point at the frightened Suzanna, "Hand her over or she'll die like the rest of you when this temple-" A bright flash from the statue crashed about them, her hand flew up from pointing to shield her eyes. Yrene and all action froze as light hit the room in a dangerous, all encompassing wave. It was so loud it was without sound, but one could feel the vibrations coming from within their souls. The light faded to nothing almost as soon as it appeared, giving the beings in the temple no time for their eyes to adjust. Silence drowned them.
"Suzanna!" Reno's voice echoed through the chamber, eliciting gasps from his friends. His voice was the catalyst for action to continue. The Aeon's rubbed their eyes and the red head bailed through Rude and Elena to kneel by Tifa and his daughter. Cid and Yuffie stood up to give him room.
"Daddy?" The little girl jumped into his arms, the blood from her cheek and neck coloring his light blue shirt purple. She whimpered about Tifa and trembled. "Daddy I'm scared!"
Reno hugged Suzanna close, waiting for her shaking to stop. The demons crashed to the ground yet again, and Yrene and Apollyon snarled at them. Reno didn't care. He didn't even bother to look up to Havoc and Chaos, somehow Yrene and Apollyon he had expected. His daughter was all that had his attention at this moment. He held her away from him just a moment, looking her cuts over in parental worry. Once he was satisfied that they weren't life threatening he hugged her again.
While Suzanna clung to his neck he shook Tifa. "Teef?" The brunette opened her eyes about halfway but said nothing. Reno brushed her hair from her face, "You okay Tifa?" She nodded slowly, it looked like she had a concussion. He looked up at Yuffie worry and anger evident on his scarred face. "What's going on?"
The little Ninja was standing next to Rude, her back to Reno and watching the fighting demons. Her large companion was watching the Aeons regrouping. When Yuffie did speak there was fear in her voice. "I only have low level cure, Cloud has the master materia."
Reno now looked where she was looking, his eyes went wide. One of the monsters tearing the temple apart was obviously Chaos. The other- he wished Cari had been wrong- was Cloud. Carbunkle had said it would be this way, they were determined to kill each other. They were crashing into the walls, ceiling and floor, taking everything in their path out like twin wreaking balls.
Nanaki looked up at Carbunkle, she had dragged them back here at all speed. She had attained human form, just as Reno had become an animal in the other world. Long hair the same fire-bright shade as Reno's and Suzanna's waved down a slim back. Physically, she looked no where near as intimating as Apollyon and Yrene, but he could feel her power. Nanaki pushed against Rovina with his head, "They need our help!"
Carbunkle watched the two beasts rush to their companions sides. Her eyes focused on her nephew, the small girl was obviously the daughter he had mentioned. She noted the wounds on the girl, Havoc you coward. Still ignoring the other two Aeons completely she stared at the warring demons. A barrier spell may help it hold…
Reno sat his wide eyed, hurt daughter down. "I'm not going to let them hurt you again, promise, Baby." he assured her. With another look over to the still half conscious Tifa, Reno stood. It had been years since he had truly felt helpless. Winning a fight with those two was a near impossibility, he understood. But this would not continue. He has a family to protect and Reno would give up his life for that if he had to. Calmly pushing past Rude, he drew his nightstick from his belt. "I have had enough."
Yrene hadn't expected him to actually attack, before Reno was been all dodging and running. She felt the charge of the lightning stick up her side before she drew her blade. The Aeon hissed and danced back, barely being missed by the ex-Turk's second attack. He kept coming at her, going through attacks that Turk training had burned into his brain. Blocking another blow with her metal guard only earned a hard jolt from the lighting rod. Reno had the timing of that switch down to a fine art. Three more times he actually connected with her before Yrene drew her blade. The masume came at Reno cutting the air with a sharp hiss. Yrene missed and snarled, her slashes became almost fever-paced at last Reno couldn't dodge her.
The red head locked his nightstick with her blade sending white hot electricity up the sword. It sparked at the hilt, a rain of light fell to the floor. Reno turned up the amp on the stick, both it and the sword were getting hotter to the touch. His arms ached with holding her, the nightstick began to buzz, it wouldn't take much more. He shoved back, sending the blade deeper into his weapon and forcing Yrene to steady her sword closer to the metal, he could see the pain in her face; the sparks from the blade were hitting her hand.
Anger made the mako in his system affect his vision. The room and his opponent loomed before him in bright, perfection. Reno was too mad to care about the pain; unlike true clarity of better vision, mako enhancement was painful, like a spotlight in the face. Neon green light from his eyes played off the sparks of lighting between himself and Yrene. The fire between their green eyes as deadly as the lighting flowing around them. Yrene gave one final push and sliced the lightning rod in two creating an explosion of electricity.
The blast took Reno off his feet and forced Yrene to totter backwards. Reno's back hit the floor, he slid and tried to roll up to his feet. Before Reno could push up he felt Yrene's blade on his throat. Propped up on his elbows Reno locked eyes with the Aeon again. He was sick of running, his hands burned from the lighting rod's explosion. He could feel them blister. He knew that giving up was not an option, anger took over where fear should have. He would not lay down.
Yrene didn't bother to hide shock on her face, the Aeon took a moment to catch her breath. Once she did, Yrene let out a barking laugh, "you are pathetic! Imagine, all I had to do to get some fight out of you was threaten a few humans insects." She pressed the blade slightly, but still Reno remained where he was. "Even then it was a sorry attempt," the blade was still hot on his neck, he could feel it start to cut his skin. "Look at yourself, I thought I could talk sense into you, but you are as crazy as your damn mother. Incompetent human fucker. All that came of her worthless hide is you," she took a deep breath to continue when she flew backwards into her brother.
Cari had watched the exchange intently, waiting for a good time to intervene. She stood in-between Reno, who was getting back to his feet, and the Aeons. Her pretty face held anger and a deep disgust dripped from her voice, "keep my sister out of your blasphemous mouth and your dirty paws OFF my nephew Yrene." She shook her head sadly, red hair shaking as she did so. "You sicken me truly. Call these humans insects? At least they are not brats. I have seen enough of this."
Apollyon threw Yrene off of him, this was humiliating, her own pride was in the way of what in his mind was a sure victory. Now they had Carbunkle to deal with, the smaller and much older Aeon didn't look like much to him. He snarled and lunged at Cari who disappeared in a flash of light to reappear behind him. The red head threw her elbow into his back, throwing the larger Aeon to the ground. She was obviously stronger then she looked. Cari then kicked out, proving much faster the Apollyon and sending him back across the floor at Yrene's feet. She began to walk towards them, "It is time to go home children."
"CHILDREN?" Yrene bristled at the insult, "I will show you a child Carbunkle!" Both Yrene and Apollyon drew their swords and advanced form either side. They were attempting to box her in. It appeared that Cari did not care, or that she did not notice. Yrene was getting more agitated by the moment, "Havoc! Stop your nonsense and kill them!" There was a distinct whine in her ice river voice.
Cari lifted her eyes to the fighting demons, giving Apollyon and Yrene a moment to charge. "Reno, box them in." she ordered and disappeared in another bright flash. Yrene and her brother almost collided, so intent were they to attack. Carbunkle was beside Yrene with another burst of light throwing a tornado to her head. By the time Cari landed her jump Yrene had been cast to the wall, creating yet another hole in the temple.
She then faced off with Apollyon. A smirk on her face that was eerily like Reno's. The large Aeon swung at her wildly. She hoped over, to the side and under the blade with ease. There was no hitting her. Without warning Carbunkle slid forward and grabbed the wrist of Apollyon. She snapped into a cat stance- feet at a ninety degree angle and all the weight on her back leg- and brought her hand to her ear. A precise slide of her hips into a wider stance made the larger Aeon fall forward, the hand she held before at her ear was thrust as a knife hand to the side of his neck. There was a crack at his collar bone and he flipped landing flat on his back. Now she had his masume in her hand. She met Yrene's second attack with ease.
While the three Aeons battled below the demons clashed above. Havoc heard Yrene's order plainly, but for now he was consumed with rage against Chaos. This body wasn't as strong as he was used to, but it was still adequate for now. He slammed the older demon to the ground and alighted across the room from him. They threw themselves at each other again.
Reno took this moment to hop in between the two. He touched his left hand up to his forehead, touched his shoulder and then threw the arm down. Chaos was caught in a pyramid, the demon hissed for a few moments and then resigned himself to his predicament with an icy glare at Reno.
Reno dived to the side of Chaos' pyramid to be missed by Havoc. The demon with Cloud Strife's body hit the ground, his eyes narrowed at the red head. Navy blue eyes burned with anger. Before him was the son of the Aeon who had let Chaos live, the descendent of the being who robbed him of his closure for his families demise. He drew his blade, "Son of Sillian?"
Reno quirked his eyebrow up, "Yes. I am."
"Then get ready to die," Havoc pushed off the wall, it cracked in protest. The demon lifted Cloud's sword, intent on slicing Reno in two. He suddenly hit a wall. "What the-" He snarled, "DAMN your incessant kind and their barrier spells! LET me out of here!" He clawed at the pyramid, it only made him feel tired. With a final roar he slashed in Reno's direction.
Reno cocked his head to one side then the other. "So you can kill me? That would be REALLY stupid buddy." With that he went back to his daughter, picking her up and watching the Aeons with interest.
Yrene and Apollyon picked themselves off the broken stones, fury burning out their very pores. This was the fourth attack to fail on the red headed Aeon. She now held both of their swords, a smirk still on her pretty face. Together they began a chant, the only words that were audible were "Ultigaga" and "Aeroes."
Cari threw the blades to the ground, they both disappeared up to hilts in the floor. She ran in front of the heroes, "diamond light! Ruby light!" she yelled before the other two finished. A gentle glow of white and red drifted around the heroes and the trapped demons like fireflies. As the dusty glitter settled a blast hit them. The magic attack was absorbed by the lights. Not a hair of the heroes was moved as the blast bounced off them and seemed to double in force back at a wide eyed Yrene and Apollyon. The Aeons were tossed back through a wall and into the relic room beyond. Cari again stood in front. "I can keep this up all day children."
The pair stood slowly, their bodies damaged and pain writ on their faces. A new pain washed over them, Yrene hissed and held her head. "DAMNIT."
Apollyon also appeared to have a sudden head ache. "Lets go Yrene. We can finnish them later."
Cari started laughing, she felt the pull of the individual who held their orbs. "So you are answering to a human master? Go on then, while your master is calling."
Yrene limped after her already retreating brother. "This is NOT over, Carbunkle. Mark my words I will kill you."
"Idle threats are not actions, child." The red head turned back to the demons. The retreating Aeons were no longer a concern of hers. All attention followed her. Stepping over fallen SOILDJETSI and rubble a circle formed about the two demons. She slowly walked in between them surveying first one then the other. "Now, can't you two play nice?"
"Let me OUT of here Carbunkle!" Havoc snarled, still clawing at the prison.
Chaos was more relaxed then his younger counterpart. "Valentine finds this utterly hilarious, just so you realize." He spoke to Reno. The red head smiled, Suzanna's face buried in his shoulder. "We were in the middle of something Aeon. Let us finish."
"You have fought quite enough! Let them both back out." Cari demanded.
"Who are you to demand of ME Aeon. I will keep him hidden as long as I want to." Chaos' wings shifted restlessly in his confinement.
"You could at least show some respect to Sillian and let him go. You know what he meant to her." There was obviously much more to this then any of the other's knew. There was pain in Carbunkle's voice.
Now the demon moved he stood as close as he could to Carbunkle with the pyramid in his way. His red eyes bore into her, there was emotion for once in the monster's voice as well, "and that is the exact reason I want to keep him. She deserves no quarter from me."
The red head balked at his statement. "You ungrateful slime! How can you say that? If not for her you would be dead-"
"He deserves to die for what he did!" Havoc hissed. "You left your troops to die! My family, dead all because YOU are a coward!"
"Oh don't get me started you little whelp!" Chaos roared. "You were too weak to join the battle, you wouldn't know. I very well was dead!"
"But my sister found you. Sillian went against DIRECT orders to help you!"
"To be dragged in front of a trial and exiled! To have you BOTH betray me? Some help she or you were Carbunkle. Leave me an enemy to your kind and my own. I owe you nothing!" The pyramid shook with Chaos' anger.
"ENOUGH." Cari stood between the pyramids, touching them both. "Fine, you want to act like children as well?" She began a quick chant, more a low mumble of words. Both the demons hit their knees and the pyramids faded. Their wings withdrew with groans and snaps, leaving their shirts in tatters. Talons were replaced with hands and pale skin came back to Vincent while Cloud's eyes retained their eerie glow.
Both men stared at each other, the tension of the demons filling the air even with Cloud and Vincent back. Blue eyes looked into red ones, and the next moment they closed their eyes. The people around them took a step or more back.
HAVOC kill him... KILL him. Do it NOW Valentine! Chaos was growing deafening in his head. He had never been this forceful.
Vincent Valentine looked at Cloud, the younger man was confused. He would figure it out soon enough. Vincent was getting angry with his parasite. This time he wasn't blacking out. Cloud is my friend. I will not kill him. GO AWAY. It would be easier to give in. But then Chaos backed down.
FINE let him kill us both, that damnable Aeon is not any help anyway. Do this on your own you ungrateful bastard.
GLADLY Again his eyes opened, Cloud was having his own battle.
Kill him. Kill him. See the way he looks at you boy? That is Chaos KILL him.
Cloud blinked, shaking his head. The words burned yes, but on the outside all one could see was that the Hero of the planet was pissed. Whatever you are ROT in hell. Get OUT of my head.
Cloud took a deep breath, he closed his eyes. He could step outside of himself, of his pain. He had five years with Hojo to learn. He hissed, It's my body. If I have to put up with you at least shut the hell up!
You have to sleep sometime. With that Havoc's voice slid away.
Then there was a lance butt at Cloud's midsection. The blonde was pushed over and then so was Vincent. "Spike over there!" Cid pointed in an agitated fashion, "Goth boy over there! Either of you even looks like you are THINKING about fucking sprouting got damn wings I will stick my lance in your fucking ears!" he then whirled on Cari, lance at her nose. "YOU talk."
The Aeon smiled at Cid, humans are amusing. "I will explain everything while we are safer. This is going to take a while to explain. Please just trust me?"
Vincent's face showed rare shock. The red head talking to Cid, it couldn't be. Suzi is dead… But it looked just like her. The same illumining smile, the same red hair and green eyes. That deep, almost heather green as inviting as a forest grove. Her body was the same as well. He had memorized every curve long ago. But when she spoke it wasn't her. His wife had a calm, deeper voice. This woman sounded as Yuffie would in about ten years. She turned to look at him, extending a hand to help him up.
"Victor?" She asked, he only nodded still dumbstruck. He looked even more confused when she hugged him. "Its really you!"
Vincent stepped back and looked down at her. "Who-"
Reno cut him off, still holding Suzanna he hooked his arm around the shorter woman's shoulder. "Aunt Cari, this is my father, Vincent. Vince, this is my aunt. She's heard a lot about you."
Reeves voice came from above them. He was using the Highwind's speakers. "Guys get OUT of there! You there? Reno!? Cloud!? Where are you guys!"
"I will explain everything I promise, Victor."
INTERLUDE FOUR: Understanding
Reno hit his head on the shower wall. He wanted to go stay with his daughter, not rest and take a shower. But he was forced by a very stern Elmyra and Shera to take a shower and sleep at least for at least three hours. The cure materia had left him drained and he was still sore. Just because you were healed didn't mean your body knew it yet. He let out a haggard breath. How was he supposed to be a hero? He was a Turk; he wasn't a hero, at least not anymore. There had been a time when he had thought he could make a difference; when he had saved Tifa, when he was leaking that information for Avalanche. Now he was just a guy trying to get by, to get past not being a hero but a Turk.
Was the world worth saving? In all honesty, the things that Yrene had told him made some twisted sense. Many, if not most, of the people on this planet were in a whole intolerant, evil, and cruel. The planet had almost been destroyed by the greed of two men. He himself was fighting tooth and nail to even stay alive and keep his daughter fed. So what made this planet worth even trying to save? What could he have here that he couldn't have in the Aeon world?
As if to answer his mind's questions, Tifa's voice came timidly through the bathroom door. "Re? Are you okay?"
He had to smile at the nickname; she always called him that. Gods, had it been over 16 years since he met her? Maybe that's why the year apart was so easy to forget. They had been close for years, best friends. Then he had rescued her and she moved in with him. Every day she had been there. When she wasn't it was hell, Reno hadn't even missed Bethany as much as he had missed Tifa. "Yeah, I guess." He turned off the water and dried off, damn he was sore.
When he threw his pants on and opened the door she was still standing there. "You don't look it." Tifa wanted to run up to him, she restrained herself by placing her arms behind her back.
Reno forced himself to stay where he was by leaning up against the doorframe. "You should be asleep." He chided. It was just like Tifa to wander about still feeling three cracked ribs. He lost the battle not to go to her and crossed the room.
She sat down on the bed, watching him walk over to her. "Yeah and so should you." Tifa sighed, she didn't want to have to save the world right now. Now she wanted to save Reno. She watched him dry off his unruly red hair, taking the opportunity to look him over. Tifa told herself that it was to make sure he wasn't hurt more then he claimed. That and she also looked at how nicely he had filled out over this year apart. He always had a great build, but now he was tan, shoulder's broad from working outside. That splash of freckles almost hid his scars, almost made them stand out more- the only truly pale place visible on his skin. "You look stiff Re, please you really need to rest."
He sat down next to her, their bodies almost close enough to touch. "I am stiff. I got fried too," he looked over at her. Reno then blew a long red bang out of his face, "You however, have a concussion and three cracked ribs." The piece of hair hit the bridge of his nose again and he growled at it, "I need a hair cut."
"I could do it for you, now that you are bothering to cut it again." Tifa laughed and moved it for him, tucking it behind his ear. "If you don't mind."
"Well, now that I don't have someone telling me I have to cut my hair, I think it needs to be. I should just go like Rude."
"No! I like your hair." Tifa exclaimed.
He smiled, "Really now? You always said it was a rats nest."
"That’s just because you teased me. I always-" She smacked him on the arm, "You always fluster me when I want to be nice!" He flinched, still sore. "That’s it Reno," Tifa grumbled. She moved behind him and began to work on his stiff shoulders. "Holy, you are tight Re…"
It was nice to have someone rub his back; Tifa always had a knack for things like this. She even got Tseng addicted to her back rubs. Reno had never been one to enjoy physical contact. The more he had worked for Shinra- had been forced to sleep around for their covert wants- the more he wanted nothing to do with people. It was almost heaven to have someone touch him because they cared about him. Someone who knew his name. He leaned forward, giving out a contented sigh as her hands worked out another knot further down his back.
Tifa finished that last knot at his pants line and shook out sore hands. She traced the outside of one of the broken angel's wings tattooed on his back. She remembered when he had first gotten it over ten years ago. The stray thought that the color held well ran through her mind. Realizing what she was doing, she scooted back from him and pulled her legs up Indian style. "Do you feel better?"
On an impulse Reno laid back, resting his head in Tifa's lap, "yeah, I do." He closed his eyes, thinking about things they had told each other a long time ago. Something made him have to ask her again. It hit Reno that maybe this was the answer to his question. Two questions in one, giving meaning to this fight they found themselves thrown in. When he opened his eyes again Tifa had leaned forward, her hair fell around their faces like a curtain. "Teef?"
Those wine toned eyes locked with blue ones, "yeah?" When she spoke it was a whisper, as if this intimate zone her hair had made begged more quiet tones.
A lump formed in Reno's throat. He swallowed it. "You remember what I had asked you, just before the Avalanche thing?"
She looked down into his face, how could she forget? Her 20th birthday, Reno had asked her if she could do it. If she thought that they could stop Shinra. She had been sure then, positive that Shinra would fall.
Then, then he asked her something else, if she would want to stay with him after the fall. Tifa had laughed, told him he was her reason for fighting Shinra, so he could have his freedom.
Lastly, he had asked if she would want to marry him…
"You mean on my birthday?" She brushed those bangs back yet again.
She remembers… That nagging voice of Reno's had all but made him to believe that she had forgotten about him. "Yeah, you didn't…" How was he going to ask this? "Did you change your mind?" Reno had to know. He wasn't going to toss his heart in for a fling. He needed a promise.
"Did I change my mind?" Tifa blinked, then she moved forward, brushing her lips with his. "No, did you?"
He looked shocked at first, then he sat up and looked at her over his shoulder. He turned all the way to face her, pulling his own long legs into the same position Tifa was in. "So, Tifa? Would you marry me?"
Instead of talking she moved forward, bringing their faces close. "Yes." She let herself slide next to him. "And you still need to sleep."
"So do you." He laid down on the bed, pulling her down with him. "Only for another two hours. Then I am going up to the sick bay."
She snuggled her back into his chest, letting his arm tighten around her waist. Then she felt his lips barely brush the nape of her neck. Tifa arched her back, pressing herself into him. She shivered as his hand drifted down from her stomach to her hip. "I thought I was supposed to get some sleep?" She murmured dreamily, her own hand reached behind her to touch his cheek.
"I said in two hours…" Reno's voice trailed off into her soft hair. She rolled over, his hand traveled over her hip to the small of her back. He pulled Tifa closer and kissed her, feeling her hands on his shoulders and her lips parting slightly. She pulled him over her. Reno propped himself up on his elbows, looking down at her. "I love you."
"I never stopped loving you Reno." Tifa reached up and sat her hand on the side of his face. She meant that, she loved him.
Reno blinked at her statement. It wasn't the admission of love that surprised him. Reno realized for the first time in seven years he was with someone who knew his name. Someone who knew HIM and actually cared. He touched his forehead to hers, staring into her wine toned eyes. "I know."
Vincent Valentine didn't know what to think at all, since the episode in the temple Chaos had been silent. Carbunkle was not a topic to discuss with the creature that lived in his body with him. The dark man's grip tightened on the railing of the Highwind. Carbunckle… Gods the resemblance to Suzi was perfect. She didn't sound the same, just a few moments being near her was enough to convince Vincent that she was not his dead wife. But still, looking at her felt like someone was ripping out his heart.
He heard her coming up next to him on the deck, he turned his red eyes to look her over. Crimson hair fell wildly over her shoulders and into her face. One of Tifa's jackets covered pale, thin shoulders. Her deep green eyes bore into him sadly. "Can I talk to you Vic?"
He swallowed, nodded, and turned away.
She leaned next to him, a breeze picked up and she closed her eyes, tilting her head to feel the wind in her hair. The smile on her face a haunting reminder of Suzi. Her eyes were still closed with the passing moment when she at last spoke. "I wanted to thank you."
He let out a humorless laugh, "thank me?"
"Yes, thank you." When the tall man did not speak she cleared her throat. "I mean, this is hard…" He voice drifted off. A moment later she pointed over to the rising moon. "You see that?" There was almost a childlike wonder in her voice.
"Yeah, it’s the moon." He tried not to soften his tone, it was impossible to be cold to Carbunkle. "Carbunkle?"
"Cari, dear. Please, you of all creatures call me Cari." She looked into his face, into his eyes, seeing a haunted soul and a tortured spirit. "What Vic?"
"You wanted to- to thank me?" Part of him wanted to touch her, to make absolutely sure that she wasn't who she resembled. The other part of him knew already and was hating his false hopes. She didn't give off the same air as Suzi. Carbunkle seemed ageless, timeless, something beyond feelings. Emotion, however flooded her voice, face and being.
"I need to thank you." She ground out, those heather eyes almost trapping him. "I need to –to-" she looked to the side, watching a flock of bats cross the moon. "Everything here is so beautiful, so alive. I believed Sillian, but this is so much more then I imagined."
"What are you talking about?" Vincent watched the bats as well, it was easier not to look at Cari as she spoke. He could pretend that she didn't look like the woman he missed with every breath.
"Sillian and I come from a place that is as changeless and ageless as I am. Nothing but eternity and time. We Aeon's do not know the things that you write off as the wind or the moon. We can't feel the things you do."
Vincent snapped his head back over, "what are you trying to tell me?"
The red head shrunk a bit. "Vickalor, When Sillian came here she had never felt love, she couldn't even comprehend it. Love can't last forever, no matter what poems tell you. Hate can't last forever, nothing can, nor will it ever. Then Hojo," Her voice lased with a bitterness that it was clearly not accustomed to. "He- he-" it took a few deep breathes before she could speak again. "He took forever from her, showed her hate. Gave her a life that would end one day. He took eternity and left her with nothing."
The railing squealed as Vincent's claw raked down it. "I know Hojo." Came the response. "I sent him to hell where he belongs."
She nodded, "I never want to talk of him again, that isn't what I wanted to say at all…" She watched the moving clouds and the sea below her. "She wanted to die, my own sister- my twin. Part of me, she would beg at night to die. I never cried, never once during the war, not when Chaos left, but hearing her I did." She choked back something before continuing. "I was ready to damn humanity. Then she met you."
He looked at her, hard. For the first time he really studied Cari, taking in what was unnatural- an Aeon feeling pain. For all his own torment, his own strife this was far more damning. He couldn't imagine not being able to feel love, but when one actually does? And then to lose that forever? To lose a sister and feel that forever? Vincent knew that all to well. All her pain and she was actually thanking him? "Me?" Vincent asked simply.
Cari laughed, a light natural sound. "Yes, you. Vic, you make it sound hard to believe, but is it? You let her see the other side of humanity. You showed her how to love." The Aeon put a hand on Vincent's human shoulder. "You made her happy. For the time you were together, I had never seen her so happy."
"Really?" Vincent blinked at the sound of his own voice. It had been years since that note was in it. Was it hope? "I did?"
"You know that you did. You knew her. You and Reno were her world. And she would have rather had the life she did, live that pain and be gone now then have never known you and loved you." She stepped to the dark ex- Turk and looked in his face. "Thank you for that Vic." Then she hugged him.
He hugged her back, watching those bats fly around the Highwind again. The earth didn't move, nothing flickered, it was more of a settling. This would be over, this would end and he would see Suzi again. For right now, he would let this happen, he would hope. It felt too good to let it go. "Your welcome."
Elena pulled her sweater around her as she walked through the hallways of the Highwind. She had checked on the chocobos for lack of something to do. She had paced the ship for lack of something to do. She was now wandering with the lack of something to do. Or someone to talk to… she thought. She hadn't felt this lonely in a long time. Not that she begrudged anyone their happiness. Barret and Elmyra, Cid and Shera they were talking old times, probably trying to talk Cid into parenthood. Reeve and Scarlet conveniently had disappeared to their room. If Elena knew them and she did, they had a chair under the doorknob. Those two were so in love it was a laugh. Rude and Yuffie? They deserved each other. Nanaki and Rovina were talking so were Vincent and Cari. As for Reno and Tifa, they needed time alone. It had been WAY too long for them to be apart.
But she was lonely. No one had time for her, it wasn't their fault. That knowledge didn't make her any less lonely. She turned a corner, her thoughts wandering the last place that she thought they would- Cloud. He was in her head a lot lately. It was strange, she was over Tseng. Really she was, after hearing from Tifa that he had died well it was all she needed. Cloud was just someone to talk to though. Someone she had a lot in common with. Even though she didn't know a great deal about him, sometimes you just know when you are like someone else.
A punching bag flew past her, barely missing her nose. She leaped back with her guards raised. The bag hit the wall in a splat of white sand. "Holy Elle are you ok?" Cloud's voice came from behind her.
She laughed, "yeah, Turk reflexes save the day again. What may I ask did that bag do to you?" Her voice trialed off slightly. Cloud walked in front of her and picked up the leaking bag. She had never seen the blond hero with his shirt off, she realized why. Cloud's torso was literally covered with surgical looking scars. Some were larger then others, but they all stood out white on his flushed skin. He threw the bag back in the corner leaving a dent. "Really man, did it insult you?" She asked again, trying not to feel sorry for him, not to want to comfort him.
"Yeah it called me fat." He joked, throwing a shirt on. He locked his haunted blue eyes with her amber ones. The look on his face told her that he knew she had been staring at his scars. He didn't say anything else, just grabbed his thick jacket.
"Are you ok?" She lifted a hand and then put it back down. Had this been Rude or Reno she wouldn't have felt this awkward.
Cloud looked at the bag and gave a deep sigh. "I really suck at this 'hero' bullshit."
Elena looked at him, confused. "You are kidding right Hero Boy?" She moved into the doorway, stopping a few feet away from Cloud. "You ARE a hero. You aren't trying you kinda already saved the damn planet once. I should know, we were trying to stop you."
He threw her a "you really have no idea" look. "WE saved the planet. I didn't do it alone. And you were not trying very hard to stop us. Were you now Villain Girl?"
She bit her lip, "well no, I guess we weren't. But try telling that to the rest of the planet. Everyone hates us." A thought crossed Elena's head, "You wanna go for a walk? You really look like you could use someone to talk to."
"I don't hate you." Cloud said simply, he didn't think long about Elena's offer. "Yeah, a walk would be nice. Its just… I really hate having voices in my head. I almost killed-"
"Hey!" Elena whirled around, "That wasn't you. Ok? Don't feel bad for things that you can't control Hero Boy."
The hero pushed past her, "Take your own advise Villain Girl" They walked in silence, Cloud wished his head was as quiet.
Now this is interesting….
Rot in hell…
Been there done that. You should visit.
Been there done that. GO AWAY. At least for now that was all it took. With a hiss and a tremor Havoc's voice left him.
He watched Elena walk next to him, he had gotten used to her being around him and he liked it. She seemed on a level with him when they talked, it wasn't just the motorcycles or the fact that they knew the same people. It was deeper. Something about letting Tifa go had hurt him, but it had healed him more then it hurt. By telling Tifa to go where she belonged Cloud had closed that chapter of his life. Trying to replace Aeris wasn't his concern anymore. In fact he hadn't really thought to miss her for a few weeks now.
They pushed out onto the ship's deck. Cold air making her pull her sweater tighter. "Where did you grow up?" Cloud asked at length.
"Junon." She looked at the railing and shivered.
"Are you cold?"
Smooth Strife… "You don't have to say anything Elle, I'm sorry."
Elena laughed, "You are doing it again. Saying sorry for nothing." She looked up at Cloud, wondering if her own face was lit up as well with the light from his eyes. She made up her mind then, to tell him. She needed to tell someone, maybe he would understand. "My family wasn't poor like Reno's mom, they weren't down and out like Rude's, I wasn't exiled like Tseng. I just was born and that was enough. My mom and dad were working class from the harbor. Both real sturdy with dark hair and eyes. Then I was born, a little blonde." She hugged herself. "My dad was certain that I wasn't his child. He took it out on my mom. He started beating her, often. One day he just snapped." Elena's voice hitched, she pulled her shoulders closer. The final words came out in a rush. "He threw her down the stairs of our house but that didn't kill her so he took her back up and threw her down again. I just- just watched…"
Cloud looked at her and did the only thing he could think of- he put his arm around her shoulders and hugged her. He bit back that part of him that hated human contact, over riding it with wanting to help her.
Elena leaned into him, continuing her story. It seemed like once she started she couldn't stop. "He started in on me after that, all I could do is run away. I started racing bikes to make money so I could really run away. He always got me back. You ever beg anyone for something Cloud? Something really simple?"
Cloud adjusted himself to her, letting his other arm go around her. He had begged Hojo every day for five years to just kill him. Wasn't that’s simple enough? All he said was "Yeah."
It seemed that Elena knew what he was thinking about. "I did too. I wanted him to kill me, or to leave. Just stop hurting. I couldn't take it anymore and I killed him when I was sixteen." She waited for something.
Cloud filled in the blank. "He deserved it."
"I know." She muttered. "Of course I am the one to go to a detention center. From there I was shipped to SOLDIER to clear my name. I kept racing bikes and then I met Tseng. He was my friend. My first real friend. So I trusted him when he brought up the Turks…" She stopped talking as suddenly as she had finished.
Cloud didn't say a word, he understood. Shinra got what they wanted when they wanted it. No one could fight them, no one but Avalanche. Now they had to pick up pieces of a company they were all forced into. Now they had to fight again, as if their whole lives had already not been fighting to stay alive. They watched the sun come up like that, in a moment of understanding.