Completion Part 4
Movement Five: Landing
The sun was rising behind them as they neared Wutai. The mountains were literally glowing in a cold, still, red and orange fire. The dirty clay- like rock held the Highwind's shadow for just a second here and there as it dance ever closer. A nervous lump in Yuffie's throat lifted with the mountains that seemed to reach out to her. She leaned back into Rude. The big man dropped his arms around the ninja, hiding her thin waist. Reno stood next to them, his daughter on one side and Tifa on the other. Tifa was leaning on him; his arm about her shoulder and her's about his waist. Suzanna insisted on standing on the railing to get a better view of Wutai. Hence, Reno's other hand was firmly on her shoulder. The three of them seemed to be very comfortable with the situation. Both Reno and Tifa knew that they would have to talk sooner or later, but for now they were both content with the silence.
Cloud and Elena were on the other side of Rude. The blonde hero appeared much better then the previous night, although he was still plagued by coughing fits at a fairly frequent schedule. The color had begun to return to his skin, making the purple bags under his eyes less noticeable. He noticed Yuffie's sudden retreat to hiding in Rude, he winked at her, "Don't worry Yuffie, we won't let him get to ya."
Elena nodded from where she leaned on the railing, "yeah, who would mess with all of us?" She swiped a hair out of her brown eyes.
"Thank you guys." Yuffie's voice was smaller then she wanted it to be. The ninja was so occupied with the dread of being back on Wutai that she was not motion sick in the slightest.
The Highwind touched down, spilling golden dust and emerald grass of the rich Wutain land up in the air. The jewel-toned debris clouded their landing from view. When the dust cleared, there was a small company of troops to engage them. One of Lord Godo's captains stood at their head. They were not his special forces (those were all ninja's) however; they were still about a dozen strong and armed. The troops surrounded the entrance of the airship and their captain shouted in a commanding voice. "What do you want here?"
The gangplank of the ship came out, revealing only two tall figures. There was a dead silence in the warm air as the figures became visible to the troops below. Vincent and Reno walked out to the company side by side. Vincent's red eyes took in every man slowly causing an uncomfortable shifting about in the troops. His intimidating gaze focused on the captain. "We need to be allowed into the Temple of Leviathan." The dark man spoke.
Shake, the captain, tried valiantly to not seem afraid of the two ex- assassins. To his surprise he seemed to be succeeding, if only slightly. "Only the Temple priest is allowed in the inner forums, riff raff is not allowed in the gates. I cannot let you in the Temple, even if I could you wouldn't get far." He crossed his arms in an attempt to finalize his decree.
Reno's mouth quirked up in a dangerous half smile. "Is that so?" He asked in a low tone, at the other man's nod the red head continued speaking, "so you have no control in the Temple what so ever?"
"We do not." Shake stood unmoving.
"Well then, looks like we will have to break in, thanks for nothing."
Shake's jaw hung open. His brave face faltered slightly, "you-"
"We will fight about it if we have to. Humanity is at stake here." Vincent interjected. The dark man was not above muscling the troopers, but with the Aeons after them they were pressed for time as it was. Maybe they could be threatened into backing down without the need of violence.
"Then you men shall have to have a fight on your hands. The Temple is a sacred ground." Shake swallowed, he didn't want to fight with them, tales of the violence and the raw power of Shinra still haunted both men's steps. No one made to back down; the only course of action was for the troops to draw their weapons. Shake lifted his hand, signaling to his men who took fearful aim. Even after its fall, Shinra carried enough fear in normal men to allow Vincent and Reno alone make a dozen men waiver. The moist air tumbled down on them as the sun cast the first lights on the meadow. The tension mounted.
"Stand down all of you!" Yuffie's voice came from the entrance of the airship. All attention turned up to the new pair on the gangplank. Yuffie stood with Rude protectively behind her. The big man had his arm on her shoulder. With a gentle tap from her small hands he let go and followed her to the dewy plain. She stopped to stand in front of Vincent and Reno, glaring at Shake. Vincent and Reno smiled at her and then looked expectantly at the troops. She looked odd standing protectively in front of her much larger friends, but her voice commanded attention and it was given to her.
"Lady Yuffie?" came the flabbergasted response to her appearance. Shake looked up to Rude and scowled, her father would NOT be pleased. "What do you mean by this?"
"You and your men are to leave them all alone. That is what I mean." She said frankly.
"Your father has been worried, m'lady." Shake's tone was one that many would use when talking to a small child. He was accustomed to her being a whiney, spoilt girl and it was all to easy for him to go strait back to treating so. After all, she was such a small woman in the first place.
Yuffie's reaction to the captain quickly smashed out his ideas of her character like a spent cigarette. She took in a pained breath and in a calm manner addressed her former protector. "Doubtful Shake, he is embarrassed." The captain's jaw slacked open for a second time as she continued, "Now, if you do NOT mind, I am taking them to the Temple." She spun on her heel and turned back to the Highwind, "report that to my father and tell him if he is man enough to deal with his own child that is where I will be."
Reno looked from Vincent to Rude and back to Shake. The captain's mouth was still hanging open even as he looked to Yuffie's retreating back. Vincent and Rude had silently turned with Yuffie to follow her back to the Highwind, leaving Reno alone with the frazzled troops. The red head did the only reasonable thing that he could think of. He tossed Shake a smirk and winked, "so sorry we couldn't stay and play. Duty calls ya know." With that he also spun on heel and followed her back up to the Highwind.
"Well, what the hell we doin' now?" The pilot asked as the gangplank pulled back up. "They don't look to happy."
"They are not." Vincent replied, "they will be even less happy when Yuffie's message is received." He leaned on the railing of the ship and sighed. How much more difficult can this situation become?
Yuffie looked shame faced. She realized that she very well could have made this whole trip a loss with her big mouth. "I'm sorry guys. I just-" she started.
"Hey, I'm proud a ya." Reno slapped her on the back. "It is about time you stood up for yourself with those morons." He laughed as the ninja smiled, "As long as you don't start a big brawl here we will be fine." Reno made as if he was contemplating something, "If all else fails we will just tell them that poor lil' Rude here would be a mess without you." He winked up at his best friend, but the big man just shook his head.
The group stood in an almost circle on the deck of the Highwind. No one knew what exactly to say, or who to look at to say it. There had been mixed feelings about going to the Temple of Leviathan in the first place. It was only a legend Nanaki knew of, that people could travel from other worlds to the Aeons. The basic idea was that if they were on this planet then why couldn't they send someone out as well? Maybe Reno could even get help if he made it to another place. A long shot was the only thing they had and time was wearing thin.
Barret Wallice wanted to see his daughter and his wife. He needed to hold them, to feel something that was for sure and for real. "I wanna go get Marlene and Elmyra." He said, breaking the silence. "They are at an inn with Shera." No one said a word to him in response. No one moved all thirteen of them were waiting for someone else to speak. The Turks looked from Reno to Reeve and back, while Avalanche looked to Barret and Cloud. "Well got damn it Spike what's going on!" Barret snapped when his patience was gone.
Cloud blinked, as if he just realized that he was supposed to be the leader of Avalanche. All eyes turned to the blonde hero of the planet. He looked over to Reno, "first off who is in charge here?"
"As far as I am concerned you can be," Reno replied. "You got us out of that lovely Midgar lab and all." He turned to Vincent and Reeve, "I am not really in charge of the Turks anyway."
"Yes you are." Both Reeve and Vincent spoke at once.
"Okay then," Cloud opened his mouth to speak, but instead he coughed deeply. Elena patted his back with a worried look on her face that her fellow Turks didn't miss. The hero cleared his throat and continued, "Barret you and Cid go get Marlene, Shera and Elmyra." At the pilot's worried look he added, "don't worry Cid, I won't leave the Highwind unguarded. Bring them back here and try not to cause a huge fight about it." He then turned to Reeve, "You and Scarlet stay here with Elena, me, Tifa and Vincent. We will keep an eye on things here. The rest of you head out to the Temple, get in and then get out."
To his surprise every nodded and began to get ready. They still think your some huge hero. Even after everything. He took a deep breath and suppressed another coughing fit. Elena's hand was still lightly on his back, he didn't completely mind. He looked over at her and she took her hand away quickly as if she too had just noticed it. As he watched this new team of hero's take off at his command to try to save the planet again he could have laughed. Cloud Strife, he realized, was no more prepared for this then he was the first time.
As they neared the Temple, Rovina, Nanaki, Yuffie, Rude, and Reno were intercepted by Lord Godo and his ninjas. The Wutain Lord stood at the head of his special forces, his dark eyes widened as he saw Rude's arm about his daughter's slender shoulder. "Yuvette!" Godo snapped at his child, "What are you doing here like this?" The ten men with him put their hands on the katanas at their hips.
Yuffie leaned back into Rude, enjoying the look of shock that sprang onto her father's face. "We need in the Temple, Lord Godo. We will get in one way or another."
Her request had no effect on the large man. "Who is he?" Godo stammered, still a bit shocked at her boldness to allow some common man to embrace her in front of him.
"None of your business." Yuffie retorted, "are you going to allow us through or not?"
"I cannot allow anyone into the Temple one way or another, it is locked till morning when the priest returns." Godo sighed, "Yuffie I have been worried." He added sternly.
"No you haven't, don't give me that!" She growled at him, "you only want to marry me off like some damn door prize to better Wutai!" Try as she might, Yuffie couldn't put the way he had treated her in the past. She raised her voice as she spoke, "even after I helped take down Sephiroth and save the Planet."
"You are my only child, Yuffie. I was doing all of that in your interest." His tone had changed swiftly, from an angry ruler to a worried father.
"Marrying Rufus Shinra was NOT in my interest Father, it was in yours. I come back and WHAT do you do? You try to marry off to some Junion man instead. I am not yours to pass around!" He cheeks had flushed, while she tried to sound angry Yuffie only succeeded in sounding hurt.
Her father's face flushed in his own anger. "So you pass yourself around it seems?" He glared at Rude whose face was impassive even as he pulled the ninja closer.
"It is none of your business what I do with myself." Yuffie said smugly, looking away from him to the Temple.
"You are MY daughter!" He was getting angrier by the moment.
"This is not what we came for." Rude interjected shocking everyone. "We will return in the morning then." He was tired of Godo, the man had upset Yuffie, and that in turn had upset Rude.
"You are not welcome here." The leader of Wutai hissed. Lord Godo crossed his arms over his chest and in frustration added, "none of you are."
"To damn bad." Reno replied. "We need in the Temple. This is important, your deals with your daughter are not the issue here."
"What would YOU know about raising a child?" Godo whirled to face the scar faced man.
"I seem to get along better with my daughter then you ever have with yours." The red head quipped, silencing Godo. The ninja's prepared to battle from behind their Lord.
Yuffie was quick to interject in the name of time. "Please, Lord Godo, please. I wouldn't come to Wutai unless I had no other choice; we are all in danger here. Avalanche and the Turks are working together, that has to mean something to you. Do you want to lose what you have?"
As was his nature, Godo only took in what information he wanted to. "So you are a Turk then?" He asked Rude angrily.
"Listen to me!" Yuffie stomped her foot in an effort to pull her father back to her. "We will be gone as soon as possible, all we ask is to be left alone."
While he would never even admit it to himself, Lord Godo was more impressed then insulted by Yuffie's actions. The large man rubbed his chin in thought for a few moments. He looked to his daughter and the people she had following her. He had heard enough tales of how vicious Turks could be; he needed no display of it. "Yuffie, your friends may stay unhindered. But I wish for you and him," he motioned to Rude, "to come home and speak with me."
Yuffie looked up at Rude for verification; it seemed like an innocent enough request. She held her head high as she looked at her father. "Swear on Leviathan and the health of Wutai that they will not be hurt?"
Godo nodded, "I swear Yuffie, the ship will be untouched and no one on it shall be harmed."
A deceptively calming breeze swept Cloud's unkempt hair around. Elena leaned on the railing next to him as they listened to what had transpired in front of the Temple. Reno related the whole Godo encounter and the fact that they couldn't reach the Temple until the morning. Cloud frowned at the information. "You think Godo will try anything?" he asked at length.
"If he does Rude won't take it. He's not the type to be taken in just like that. I am not to worried about it." The red head commented. He looked over to Suzanna as she patted Rovina. Things weren't going well in the red head's mind. He was worried that they would be caught again. He was worried that his daughter would be caught. Reno was worried that his daughter could end up in the clutches of Yrene and Appollyon. Not going to happen. There's got to be a way around it. There has to be.
Rovina purred as Suzanna itched behind her ear. "I wish I could do this myself..." Her voice drifted off happily. The sent of people approaching caused her to sit up. "Who is coming?"
"Barret, Cid and their families." Nanaki responded from the railing.
Suzanna came up next to the red beast and hugged him, "Is Marlene with 'em?" The little girl asked as she craned her next to see.
Reno gave a half smile at his daughter, "don't be a pest Trigger."
"She isn't, " Rovina responded. The black beast sounded almost wistful.
Barret sat his little daughter down on the deck of the Highwind. As soon as she saw the other child she smiled broadly, "Trigger!"
"Yay Marlene!" The two little girls hugged, talking at once. The trained ear could probably only pick up "how are you?!" "I missed you!" "What'cha been up to?!" amidst the playful chatter. They had gotten very close during the time that Marlene was kidnapped. The girls had wanted to keep in touch, both cried when they were told that couldn't be. It had been a year since they had seen each other and it showed in their excitement.
Barret smiled at them both, it always made him happy to see Marlene happy. The innocence from them made him almost forget who his daughter's friend's father was. Almost enough, but this his eyes drifted over. He looked up to see a similar smile on Reno's face that graced his own. The red head lifted his eyes to Barret's, both men immediately scowled at each other. The change was automatic and instant; pride and joy were displaced by pure hate.
Elmyra didn't miss the tension. She kneeled by the girls, "why don't you two go play? Are there any chocobo's in the pens?" Suzanna nodded and the two girls took off, laughing all the way. Reno turned to walk the other way and Barret looked over to the opposite side of the ship. She placed her hand on her husband's large arm. "Reno." She called in a stern voice. The red head stopped but did not turn around, "you get over here right now, mister." She scolded. As Barret tired to walk away she grabbed his shirt. "You too. Turn around."
Reno looked at both of them. "What?" he snapped. He began to walk over to her albeit reluctantly. "You aren't gonna hit me with anything are you? Like a pan or a rolling pin?"
"I just may if you don't behave." She put her arms on her hips. "Those two little girls of yours are good friends. Look at how happy they were to see each other." Reno stood next to Barret, both men looked at her. Very uncomfortable looks on their faces. "You two need to get along."
"WHAT?" both said at once and immediately glared at each other yet again.
"He is an assassin!" Barret snapped at Reno.
"Your no damn better! You think that reactor was empty when it blew?" Reno growled defensively.
"That is NOTHING like sector seven!"
"I didn't have a-"
Elmrya's eyes narrowed. She crossed her arms over her chest. "ENOUGH! Both of you stop this now!" They turned again to look at her, shocked that she would interrupt them. "Barret, I love you, but you need to grow up! What would you do if someone threatened Marlene?" The big man was speechless. "You and I both know that plate would drop if it were you in Reno's shoes." She whirled to the red head "And you. The reactor was a necessity. It had to happen and you know it. You have a little girl to fight for to. YOU of all people should understand what Barret did."
Reno and Barret felt like five year olds. Both men stared at their shoes. "Now I don't care if you two hate each other. I don't give a damn if you really wish the other would have a bloody death. I DO care about those poor little girls not being able to be friends because their fathers are to bull headed to let it go." She arched her eyebrows at them. "Can you two get along or do I have to find that rolling pin?"
"Find the rolling pin, when your done with it I am going to shove it up his- " Reno started.
"I would love to see your scrawny ass TRY that!" Barret glared. The two men stood face to face again. Ready to kill.
Tifa ran up behind them followed by Vincent and Cloud. "Reno! Stop picking a fight!" Tifa pleaded as once again she was in-between a Turk and Barret. "Please guys this is no time to be fighting with each other!"
Vincent moved in front of Barret, "she is right and you both know it." The dark man's voice was level. "We need to work together here Barret. You didn't want anyone to die and neither did Reno. But people did. More are going to die if Rufus and those Aeons get their way. We only bought a day at best by wounding Appollyon." Not even Barret Wallice could stand up to the red eyes of Vincent Valentine. "Honestly Barret, it isn't like you can tell Marlene not to be Suzanna's friend. You both are wrapped around those kid's fingers." With that the ex-Turk walked off down to check on said girls.
Reno looked at Barret and sighed, "Okay okay." He raked a hand through his hair, "I am sorry man, for everything. Don't hold me against my kid." I can let it go if you can."
"I won't forgive you." Barret extended his hand in spite of his words. "But I can accept you, I suppose. For our kids." He looked to Tifa who was letting out a breath in relief that she had been holding. "You make one wrong move wit Tifa and I will smear you all over the planet and back though."
"Ya don't gotta worry about that." Reno took the older mans hand and shook it once. An alliance was finally formed. Even if it was a reluctant one. Reno looked around and nodded to Cloud, "so what now Spike?"
"Well, as long as we get to that Temple in the morning I don't care. So lets call it a free night? Odds are we ain't gett'n many more." WHOOT *hums "back in the saddle again"* I am back! New computer on the way found my files. SO here we go. Tell me what you think about this? Next up Lord Godo and Rude have a "chat". Cloud and Elena bond. See ya soon!
MOVEMENT SIX: TENSION
Rude looked about as he and Yuffie followed her father into the palace. He had never been inside the palace itself. As expected, it was splendid; so easily hiding the poor family and the lies that lied within it. He pulled her closer to his body as she shivered despite the heat of the night. The entire place reeked of a trap, there were people watching the three of them closely. He sent a glare over his left shoulder, to the people he knew were there, just think about it.
They stopped in a large, elegant conference room, complete with an oaken table displaying a gold laden top. Everything was shining, from the dark imported wood to the native gold. An older woman entered the room, her eyes widened at the sight of the huge ex-Turk and her tiny princess. She bowed to both, hiding her shock.
"Yuvette could you go with TeLin? I want to talk with this young man," The Lord of Wutai's voice was clear and level but Rude didn't miss the note of warning to it.
Yuffie's eye narrowed for a moment, sizing up the intentions of her father. "As you wish, Sire." She bowed to him as if she were a commoner and followed the kimono clad woman out of the room.
Lord Godo sat at the head of the golden topped table. His reflection clear on the highly polished surface. He glared at Rude; it was obvious to him that he would not be able to threaten the large ex-Turk.
Rude's own eyes were busy, he looked about the room. Lord Godo's ninja's were masters-that was certain, but they seemed afraid. All attention was turned to the large man at the foot of the daunting center table. Rude remained standing, he had counted about three people watching him. After he was sure that they were no real threat to him he looked down at Godo over the tops of his sunglasses. Rude knew that Godo wouldn't have anything pleasant to say to him. He found himself thinking about how Yuffie had beaten him in hand to hand combat. Rude wondered how Lord Godo must have felt after the fact; he still had so little faith in her. With a heavy sigh he waited for the Lord to speak.
Lord Godo let the silence choke the space until he was certain that Yuffie was far out of earshot. He glared across the table at Rude. "What do you mean by being here with my daughter?" While he tried to sound conversational his voice was threatening.
Rude raised one eyebrow and said nothing. When the Lord began to drum his fingers in agitation the ex-Turk sighed and sat down. "Whatever I have to tell you won't be good enough." He responded, "So why tell you anything?"
Godo smirked slightly at that. "She won't have a cent from me you know."
Rude shrugged; in all honesty he had more then enough money to go around. It was a non issue how rich Yuffie would be.
"So you aren't after her money or power?"
Rude rolled his eyes from behind his glasses. He didn't want to say that he was in love with Yuffie. But he knew it was more then sex or a physical attraction- much more. There was that way she made him actually smile, a feet only Reno could claim to until her. There was the way she held him, the way her face lit up when she saw him. The way she seemed to depend on him without seeming needy. After it was plain the Wutain Lord was waiting for an answer he growled. "No."
"Then what is it? You actually are in love with her?" Godo was getting frustrated with the monotone nearly mute man his child had decided to bed.
Rude stood up in agitation. "Your daughter is a hero of the planet. She even beat you in combat. She needs no help to rule Wutai. If you could get your head out of your ass to see that then maybe you would get the honor of knowing her for yourself." He turned to leave.
"I have not dismissed you!" Godo stood. As Rude ignored him his ninjas jumped in front of the doorway. "You won't make it off this island alive."
The big man ignored the ninja's and whirled to face Lord Godo. "You think you are the first person to threaten my life?!" Rude's intimidating voice raised in his agitation. "You are not the first or the last, what gets me is how little faith you have in her."
"I have enough faith to know that street trash like yourself isn't good enough for her!"
"You want to throw names around? Mine is Ashira." Rude crossed his arms over his broad chest and waited.
"Of the Junion Ashiras?" Godo's jaw dropped at the powerful name. He knew many Ashira's from Junion. He had been told many times about how their eldest son had been killed in a reactor bombing in Midgar. His wife and children had disappeared in the bowels of Midgar like many others. Was it really possible that one of his children had survived?
Rude nodded, "so take your money and shove it up your ass." He then turned on the ninja's behind him, "Move." They obeyed. Lord Godo of Wutai watched his daughter's lover- the lost Ashira heir- walk uncaring into the deep purple night.
Yuffie sat on the widow ledge of her old room. She looked out just in time to see Rude storm out of the palace and away. Her heart crashed to her feet, what did he say to Rude? She pushed TeLin aside roughly and bolted back down the stairs. "GODO!" She yelled as she skidded into the room
Her father was sitting, very uncharacteristically in deep thought. He started as his daughter's voice hit him. He composed himself quickly before she slid into the room. "You can address me as Sir, Lord Godo, or Highness, NOT by name."
Yuffie ignored his comment, "Where is he going? What did you say to him?"
"Obviously he felt you weren't worth fighting for." Godo sniffed
Yuffie swallowed. No, he wouldn't just give up on me like that would he?
"That man is probably just toying with you. He has no need of you what so ever. Can't you see that in your lovesick head?" The lord walked around the table to her, his callous tone stung more then his words. He walked to be face to face with his defiant child. "Now what?"
"I'm going back to my friends." Her sure, clear tone masking how she felt.
"Back to hide behind them? Can't you do anything for yourself?"
"Yes. I can." She spun around as her jaw snapped shut. "Leave you and this horrible lie filled place." Once again the ninja's moved as she walked outside. Lord Godo was on her heels.
"Don't bother coming home." He stood in the doorway with all his regal bearing.
"This never was home." She said to the slamming door. Biting her lip she looked up at the overcast sky, the thunder rolled.
The wind from the oncoming storm whipped Tifa's hair up, pulling light strands away from her pony tail. She brushed them back as she walked with Reno up the winding paths of Da-chao mountains. They were side by side, just walking. The sun was setting, painting the mountains gold, red, and orange. The two of them walked in silence, she didn't even remember how they decided to go for a walk. She was almost afraid to break the silence, as if speaking would some how rip him from her again.
As they got to the place they had rescued Yuffie and Elena just a year ago. Reno sat down on the hand of the mountain god. He looked over Wutai and back to Tifa, watching her sit down, "what are you thinking?" He asked her at length.
Tifa looked at him looking over the village below them. This had been where she could have spoke up. Where she could have run up to him and told him she was sorry, that she missed him. He had looked right at her, sad blue eyes wishing that she would have. But she didn't; she acted like he was an enemy, a person that she had never met before. Right here, he let them go. Right in this spot he and Rude had helped them and she never acknowledged them. "Reno, I'm sorry."
He wanted so badly to forgive her, but he couldn't forget how his daughter had cried. How when she had just been given back to him from Shinra he had to tell her Tifa wasn't coming back. That she was alive, but didn't want him any more. The little girl hadn't understood, she thought that it was her fault for some reason. It had taken weeks for her to think otherwise. And Reno was pretty sure that she still blamed herself. He closed his eyes.
She forced the lump in her throat down; a waiver was in her voice the next time she spoke. "Reno I should have never left. I never once believed those things I told you-"
"You should. They were the truth." Reno finally looked over to her.
She frowned, "No. Reno they are not." God, all the things I called him, they weren't true. He wasn't a coward, he wasn't a murderer, he wasn't a whore. He just did what he had to do.
"Tell that to the world Tifa. I have been denied jobs, credit, places to live, you name it. I can't go to Costa Del Sol, to Rocket Town, to most anywhere without cops watching my every move. Junion laws are so strict on people enhanced by mako that I got a week in jail for a pocket knife. I got lucky to find a little town that tolerated me long enough to get to know me. The whole world is waiting for me to screw up."
Reno hadn't been exaggerating; Tifa knew that the new Junion Chief of police was anti Shinra. All mako enhanced people had to have their ID cards marked, they couldn't carry weapons of any kind, and they couldn't join the police force or the fire fighting squad. He had a special beef with Reeve for some reason. But Junion was the only place that they could stay and so they put up with the persecution to try to have a normal life. Even Cloud wasn't immune to theses new anti-mako laws. People were so afraid of another Midgar that they created a new form of racism to beat every one who had been involved down.
"I don't care about the world anymore Reno. I am sick of pleasing other people, of doing what I thought I should do because I don't want to rock the boat." She moved closer to him and traced one of his scars with her finger. "I just want to tell that to you. As long as you know it wasn't the truth." He put his own hand over her's. Suzanna had said she wanted Tifa to come back when he asked earlier in the day. She had been excited to see her, happy that things were back to what the little girl had considered normal. "I don't know what I am anymore Tifa. One minute I am just a guy, then a Turk, and now I'm supposed to help save the planet."
"You helped save it before Reno. I know you were there." She responded. "Quit beating yourself up about what you had to do to get by. Please Reno, listen to me. You told me a long time ago that I deserved better, well I looked. And there isn't any "better" as far as I'm concerned all there is, is you."
Reno blinked; he remembered when Cloud had told him she left. He smiled and let himself pull her over to him. It had been over a year since he hugged her. Since he hugged anyone like this. Actually caring about them. "So maybe we could give it another try?" Reno asked as he pressed his forehead against Tifa's.
"I would really like that Reno."
The sun vanished behind the mountains as they kissed for the first time since before the sector seven plate fell. Reno moved a hand to her hair, using his other arm to hold her waist. Tifa's hands traveled around his body and to his shoulder blades. They kissed that first time like it was their last, needing every minute of it. As the thunder opened the sky up they paid no heed to the rain.
Nanaki and Rovina ushered Suzanna and Marlene inside as the rain began to fall. They entered the conference room to find Cid, Shera, Barret, Elmyra, and Scarlet. Scarlet was shuffling a deck of cards. Shera was looking over some manuscripts. Cid was smoking while Barret and Elmyra stood up to say hello. "It rain'n?" Barret asked Marlene as he scooped the four year old up.
She nodded, brown braid flopping. "Yeah, but its too much ta play in."
"That's a pretty braid there." Elmrya looked down at Suzanna, "you do that Trigger?"
"Uh huh." She looked around, "Daddy and Auntie Teef ain't back yet?"
"Yo Daddy's smart enough ta get out the rain. They'll be back." Barret reassured.
"Say, Nanaki? You two think that we could go over these manuscripts tonight?" Shera asked not looking up from her reading. "Centra language is astounding."
Rovina nodded, "I think it would be a good idea. Three heads are better then two."
At that Shera Rolled up the paper she was reading and placed it in her bag with the others. She stood up and smiled at Cid. "Okay Cid, be good." She kissed the top of his head as she passed making the pilot flush slightly.
"Damnit woman!" He snapped. As the three scholars left he noted the other's barely controlled laughs. "LAUGH it up you crack heads." Cid took a long drag on his smoke in frustration.
Elmyra shook her head at the pilot. She then took Marlene from her father. "Comon you bath time."
"Aww I don't wanna." The little girl protested.
"Nope. Don't you start that. Bath." She said sternly. The little girl allowed herself to be drug out of the room. Leaving Suzanna with the three adults.
"Still playing poker when Reeve gets back?" Scarlet asked.
"Hell yeah. I'll take ya to the cleaners." Cid smirked as he lit another cigarette with the butt of the first.
Suzanna stood up on an empty chair. "Can I play?" She asked sweetly.
"If mister Wallice and mister Highwind say its okay," Scarlet winked at the girl and the red head winked back unnoticed by both of the other men.
"Sure, can't hurt much teaching her how to play." Barret sat down.
"Kinda young ain't ya?" Cid looked the little girl over after dumping his ashtray.
Suzanna sent a smile to the pilot that was strait from Reno. "You think I'm gonna take your gil pops?"
Cid snatched the cards from scarlet and slammed them in front of the girl. "Deal, Twerp."
Two orange boxes were ripped open and tossed carelessly in the corner of the lunch room. Cloud and Elena were side by side at a table covered with various tools, pipes and gears. The contents of the boxes- two remote control four wheelers- were ripped apart. They were getting along as though they had known each other for ages. Cloud and Elena had more in common then motorcycles, and they were figuring this out slowly.
"You are SO not adding a muffler are you?" Elena laughed as she peered over Cloud's shoulder, her eyes drifted, such nice arms.
Cloud held a section of thin piping in one hand, "you think Cid wants this?" It was a cover for an out of the way control panel. Not to important. With a shrug he split it apart. So what if he was showing off a bit? "I'm gonna have blowers!" He grinned triumphantly.
Elena rolled her eyes, "Nothing is going to matter, you are still going to eat my dust hero boy." She took the back off her controller to see if there was a way of adding a turbo button.
Cloud started a bit at that. "Hero boy?"
She laughed, "what's wrong with that?"
Cloud shook his head, "you really don't know me." He turned the toy around to better fit the blowers on it.
"It fits." Elena stuck her tongue out at him, "Gimmie the wrench over there hero boy."
"Whatever, villain girl." Cloud was really enjoying himself, Elena was just a lot of fun to be around. She had a sunny disposition and really nice legs. He playfully tossed the wrench onto her lap. "Just promise not to cry when I smoke you."
"Villain girl huh? Well I always wanted to be the femme fatale. Mwaaa haa haa." She snickered. This was the most fun she'd had in a very long time. She wouldn't have ever thought that it would happen with Cloud Strife of all people.
"Don't you start laughing like certain Shinra execs now," Cloud warned in a joking tone. "I may just have to stab you."
Elena thought his smile was really nice too, but she wasn't going to say anything. "Oh hell no. I can't sound that evil. They were more like 'gyhahahaha' and stuff like that."
Cloud laughed at her and threw her a lopsided grin. "That was perhaps the scariest thing I have head all week." He sat the four wheeler right side up and frowned, "damn it. Now I need a lift kit."
"Resistance is futile! 'GYAhahaha." Elena teased.
"EEP!" Cloud jumped up in mock fright. The blondes looked at each other for a few minutes and then burst out laughing. Just when he was going to say something else, Cloud sat the toy down and started to cough again, a deep, painful sounding popping could be heard from his broadly built chest.
Elena bit her lip in concern but didn't say anything. He was much better now then he had been. And she didn't want to fuss over him, that would make him uncomfortable wouldn't it? To change the subject she pulled out a tiny engine. It was a rocket, at about 1/13th size. "You think that this'll fit?"
Cloud's eyes lit up. "And where did you get that, villain girl?" He walked around the room a moment. "A lift kit!" he smiled and began to unscrew the control panel box in the corner.
"I found it." In Cid's locked tool room, under some files in a box. Even though it dwarfed the body of her four wheeler, it looked cool. She bet it would be really loud, too. She glanced at him to see his reaction. Well, that, and to check out his arms again now that he was pulling on the box. That voice in her head that told her not to do that with him was oddly silent. She turned back around quickly to not get caught staring.
Cloud looked over his shoulder to Elena, since she was preoccupied with her toy he took the opportunity to look her over again. Not that he was glaring or thinking to hop in bed with her, she was just very nice to look at. With her perfectly toned body and those legs. He grunted and pulled the box free at last. "Stupid welding." He plopped back down next to her. "You mean like I found this?" he held up a small can of rocket fuel.
"No way! Share?" She reached for it and Cloud jumped back.
"Hmmm, ask nice villain girl." He lifted the can above his head.
Elena was laughing so hard she couldn't make a good attempt at getting the can. She put one hand on his shoulder and jumped. "Damnit hero boy!" She said in between laughing fits. She was really having fun, not that Rude and Reno weren't a blast, but somehow Cloud was different. If she had stopped to look at it she would realize that she hadn't thought about how lonely she was all day. For the first time since Tseng died she hadn't thought about how much it hurt without him. All Elena wanted right now was to race Cloud.
Cloud backed up quickly, putting the can behind his back. Elena fell forward with the sudden movement. Her hands went to his chest to catch herself. Cloud put his free arm to her hip to keep her up. She looked up at him, wow you have a nice chest. Cloud almost dropped the can of fuel. He took a second to recognize that he still had his hand on her hip. They both started laughing again.
Reeve had to walk out his leg. The pain was finally starting to go away, it had dissipated to a dull throb that only went up half of his body. He at last figured that it was as good as it was going to get. He went back into the conference room.
As Reeve entered the conference room he could have cut the tension with a knife. Cid was losing his poker face, sweat dripped onto his half smoked cigg. Barret seemed THROUGHLY confused, he kept looking from his cards to the gil on the table and back to the 10 gil coin he had left in front of him. Scarlet also seemed to be thinking very hard, the blond made her mind up and sat her cards down. On two phone books sat the only person who wasn't thinking with all of her facilities- Trigger smiled, "heya paw paw Reeve!" The exceedingly large pile of chips in front of the seven year old was more then comical.
Scarlet and Reeve shared a look, "Fold." The blond said. Reeve pulled a chair up next to her and sat down slowly. "how's the leg?"
"Been better," he leaned over and whispered in Scarlet's ear, "please tell me you told them?" Scarlet shook her head and laughed.
Barret pushed his last coin on the table, "hit me twice, brat." Trigger flipped him two cards quickly. All heads turned to study Cid Highwind.
The tiny red head fixed the pilot with a Reno style smirk. "Ya gonna play pops?" She wrinkled her freckled nose at the ashtray, "It's full again."
"Hey Reno junior's getting impatient over here." Scarlet tried not to laugh.
"Shut the FU-" Cid caught himself this time -"uudge up! I'm thinking woman!"
Scarlet looked to Barret as she got up to dump the tray. "I thought he was a genius..."
"He's the smartest dumbass I know." The gun armed man laughed
Cid glared at them, then at the little girl. "I'll hold." He snapped with finality.
"Dealer takes three." Suzanna chirped, "Okay guys show 'em."
"I got two pair." Barret mumbled, this was not a good poker day. Elmyra was going to kill him.
Cid beamed, "Read 'em and WEEP. Full house! Beat THAT ya little card shark!" he reached for the gil in front of him.
"Uhm? Pops?" Suzanna asked.
"What the hell you want?" Cid was already counting.
"What's this again?" She turned her cards to display a royal flush of diamonds.
Scarlet and Reeve began to laugh while Barret simply stared. Cid blinked and his jaw slacked open.
"Isn't it called a royal flush?" the little girl giggled. "Yay I win!"
His smoke bounced on the table from his open jaw. "You- but I." He snatched the Cigarette off the table, "she fucking cleaned me out!"
Reeve and Scarlet looked at each other and then to Cid. They knew a spew of cuss words was impending and the pilot didn't disappoint, "What the fucking God's fucked all to hells damned shit is this shit?!!!"
Suzanna's sea green eyes widened, "wow, you cuss better then Daddy."
Reeve sighed, "honestly Cid there is a child present."
"I don't fucking damn well give a shit!" Cid snatched the cards from the table to examine them, "I don't fucking believe this fucked in the ass shit." He trialed off into a river of profanities.
"Way better then Daddy." The little girl said in wonderment.
Just as Cid stopped to take a breath the back door flew open, Two little remote control four wheelers raced into the room and about the conference table. Everyone momentarally forgot the card game to watch them in silence. Cid's brow wrinkled as he examined the toys. Cloud and Elena followed their toys into the room, oblivious to everyone else.
"Hey watch it Barbie, you poke me again and you'll regret it!" Cloud laughed, "three laps."
"Fine hero boy!" She poked him anyway laughing as his little four wheeler hit the leg of a chair. Cloud tickled her quickly, "EEP!" she dropped her control.
"Take that!" Cloud took the lead about the table.
Cid finally noticed his stolen parts, particularly the engine that Elena stole. "Where the hell did THAT come from?!" he demanded.
"What was that Cid?" Cloud joked as he steered his toy around the last lap and to the door, Elena gaining. There was a little flare as she hit the nause. Cloud responded with more laughing and a "get back here villain girl!"
Three whole minutes went by before everything clicked in Cid's head. Grabbing his lance he took off after the blondes, screaming at the top of his lungs about how he was going to spit them both on it, and turn them into the new bow ornament for the Highwind. Silence reigned in the room for only half a second then the room roared with laughter.
"Oh holy did you SEE his face?" Scarlet asked wiping tears from her dark eyes.
"Gods first you two trick him outta all his gil and THEN-" Reeve was laughing to hard to finish.
"It was for keeps right?" Suzanna queried.
"No." Reeve said sternly.
"What you talking 'bout?" Barret asked.
"I stacked the deck." Suzanna frowned, "I'll give ya money back." She began counting.
"She does what?" the gun armed man took back his money with a confused face. He put it back in his pocket, "you betta not rub off on Marlene." He warned.
Suzanna seemed to shrink a bit at that, "I'm not a bad girl really. I was just have'n fun."
"Aww holy, look kid I'm sorry. Don't take it personal." He mumbled something about putting Marlene to bed and walked out of the room.
The door no sooner closed then Cid stormed back in, his face bright red. The two ex-Shinra execs moved over to Suzanna, the pilot looked ready to kill. "FUCKIN RENO smashed my railing! GOT DAMN KID of his takes my GIL AND NOW I HAVE TWO OVERSIZED TEN YEAR FREEKN OLDS TEARING MY SHIP UP!" The little red head had never seen anyone's face turn purple, but Cid's was getting very close to it.
Reno opened the back door to the conference room, just in time to hear his name, "What's going on here? He rushed up to his daughter, dripping wet from the rain.
"Pops cusses better then you do Daddy." Suzanna slipped behind him pockets full of gil.
Reno snagged her by the collar. "Hold it." He turned his bright blue eyes up to Reeve, "what happened."
Scarlet interjected, "I got her to play poker with Barret and Cid."
"Scarlet!" Reno said shocked, "you did tell them right?"
"Tell us WHAT?" Cid snapped. Then his eyes widened, "She got fucking damn stacked the deck!"
"Aww, Daddy!" said child protested, "his fault he didn't catch on!"
"Suzanna Mariah!" Reno yelled, surprising Cid with his sudden parental action. "Give him back his gil, NOW."
"Sir," she handed the pilot his 200 gil.
"OUT side now. Don't you MOVE till I get out there." Reno pointed to the door in an agitated fashion. He rarely raised his voice to Suzanna, in fact Reeve had never heard him do so before.
"Sir," Suzanna repeated and eked out the door, hoping Reno would be awhile.
The door closed and Cid let into Reno. "WHERE do you fucking get off Teaching a got damn CHILD how to stack a deck!"
Reno's eyes narrowed, "I knew worse things at seven then card games.
"I bet you did." Cid lit another cigarette and shook his head, "that was the most fucking impressive thing I have ever seen."
Reno laughed, "yeah well, she knows better. I'm sorry,"
The pilot shook his head, "could she teach me?" Above them there was another slight explosion, followed by Cloud and Elena's laughter. "GONNA LANCE YOUR ASS SPIKE!" Cid thundered, once again grabbing his lance and rushing out the door spewing a multitude of harms to befall the blondes.
"Will life ever be normal?" Reeve protested.
"Nope," Reno and scarlet answered in Unison.
The rain slid from Vincent's nose down his arm and into the stream below him. He was deep enough in thought to not care about the dampness. The stream connected with the ocean in a gentle lull. He was making patterns in the sand with his claw before the rain had come and washed them away. The same way Shinra washed my life away..
Oh gods and Bahamute's grave. Chaos' voice burned in his head like acid.
Can you give me a moment? Vincent hated Chaos in more ways then one. All the Ex-Turk had wanted was a moment of peace. To pretend that he was alone.
You don't have the common sense to get us out of the rain and you want peace?
Vincent didn't respond but he resolved to remain in the storm until it stopped.
Valentine, you are the most irritating human in existence. You know that right? Answer me!
I am not a human any more then you are. And anything to make you happy, love.
Chaos hissed at him. The monster hated the rain, water, anything wet. He was like a giant cat in many respects. He tried another tactic. I can tell you if your plan will work you know?
You lie more then I ever have.
You will have the worst nightmares of your life tonight Valentine.
Sleeping pills. Came the frank response.
I hate you, Chaos rumbled deeper then the thunder.
Where would you be without me? You think that you would be with her? If I see you replay that last night one more time I will fucking vomit. Damn Aeons did this to us in the first place.
I would be allowed to die.
Ungrateful shit. People pray for everlasting life.
They never fell in love then. Vincent looked at his claw. He missed Suzie. All he wanted ever was just to die and have that chance to see her again. But Chaos needed him alive. Needed him strong and so he stayed alive.
You aren't the only one who loved and lost. Chaos snorted like a bull.
Oh like you know. Go to sleep or something.
I know more then you think.
And all I hear are half truths of what you do know. You would think that after all this time you would learn to be honest with me or shut up.
Be honest with yourself first. Coward.
What do you mean?
I'm not the one who never talks to his own son or holds his own grandchild.
Vincent's face contorted in pain with the accusation. He hissed himself as Chaos' words stung both physically and emotionally. Why? Just to watch them both grow old, sick and die?
You don't get it DO you. Why don't we just go lay back in that coffin then? Or go find Yrene and Appollyon. They'd take care of us.
How do you know them; why do you hate them?
They are as stupid as you are.
They see this world as you do. Not real because it fades. What you in your damned ignorance cannot see is the moment of reality IS in the fading. You humans were blessed with the eyes of a child that you close yourselves. One moment of love is worth an eternity of heartache. Think about that.
Vincent blinked in surprise, I will.
Can we get out of the gods damned rain?
Vincent sighed; the monster was very multi faceted. This was the most civil conversation they had ever had. There was only one thing he could think of to do, Vincent Valentine got up off the beach to find some shelter from the rain.