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Final Fantasy VII--Resurrection
by Quinctia

Part 3- The Darkest Hour

Chapter 8

"The end is near," Raieyana was saying, "I can sense it. We need the other White materia orbs, and we need them fast."

Cid looked at her. "Where the hell are they?" he asked.

"Well," she said, "to my knowledge, a woman named Lucrecia has Hope. Holy, of course, is in the City of the Ancients. Spirit, as we found out from our friends the Turks, is buried on Cactus Island. From my translation, I have learned Renew is in the Mythrill Mine. And we have Mercy." She held up the Evenstar, and Mercy glimmered.

"Isn't there one more?" Red XIII asked.

"Yes. Its name is Faith. According to the translation, it disappeared with a certain band of the Cetra."

Barret just looked at her. "You mean you want us to go through all this hassle of finding materia when she can't do nothing because no one knows where one of them is, anyway?"

Raieyana raised her eyebrows. "I guess I never told you guys that each of the materia does a specific job in resurrecting. Even without Faith, Sephiroth's spirit can be withdrawn from the Lifestream. And after that happens..."

"Wait a minute," said Tifa, "I got it. Sephiroth looks for someone, probably Cloud, and just takes over their body, right?" Everyone looked from Tifa to Cloud back to Raieyana.

"Basically, yes. And with Sephiroth's Lifeforce being so strong, I wouldn't risk Aysta getting her hands on any of the White materia."

"Look, Ray," said Ishmael, "I know you didn't want us to split to get these before, but we need to get them quickly. We should split up into three groups of three and one group of four. And I suggest the group of four go to Cactus Island just because of the threat of the Turks being there."

"Okay," said Raieyana, "let's do that. Vincent, you want to see Lucrecia, right?" He nodded. "Take Yuffie and Cid and go do what you need to do. Ruther, Legolas, Blane, umm you guys go to the Mythrill Mine. There might be some monsters there, but I trust you can..."

"Sure, Ray," said Blane.

Cloud spoke up. "Hey Raieyana, I'll go with Tifa, Barret, and Red to Cactus Island. You can take Reeve and Ishmael and go to the City of Ancients."

"Okay," she said, "that's settled. How long do you think it will take?"

Barret removed two PHS's from his bag. He gave one to Blane and the other to Raieyana. "When you get your materia, you call everyone and go to, umm..." he stalled.

Raieyana brightened. "I know. Undor-Hai. That way, no one will get caught by Shinra, unless Aysta goes and invades it. But I don't think Aysta would want the Shinra guys to know about it, even now. So I guess we'll see you..."

"...when we see you," Blane finished. "Ray, take care of yourself." Then the group broke up, in search of the White materia.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The roar of the waterfall was overwhelming. Vincent, Yuffie, and Cid jumped off of their black chocobos.

"Sit tight Bage," Yuffie said to her chocobo.

"Y'know, Yuffster," said Cid, "they can't understand what you're saying to them, so don't both--ugh..." Cid's chocobo, Ulage, had kicked him in the groin. Vincent sighed, and cast Full Cure. "Oh, thanks, man," Cid said, glowering at Ulage.

"We must go see Lucrecia now," said Vincent. He watched Cid go in, but stopped Yuffie. "Please," he said, "don't say anything about, about what happened in Wutai."

"Fine, Vincent, but you knew exactly what you were doing. Maybe I could allow stupidity as a reason, but it is not like you were drunk or something." She walked under the waterfall, and into the cave.

Vincent closed his eyes (I'm sorry you took it that way, but it's just-- I'm just--) and walked into Lucrecia's cave.


Lucrecia was sitting in the shadows, holding something that looked like a baby blanket. (Why can't I just die? I am sitting in the darkness waiting for death.) She was crying. Vincent walked up to her.

"Lucrecia?" he said.

She stood up. "Vincent? Why have you come back?"

"I, I need to tell you the truth...about Sephiroth..." he said.

Lucrecia looked at him. "Is he still alive?" she asked.

He shook his head. "No. But he was the last time I saw you. I'm sorry. But before, there were problems that needed to be taken care of. The Planet, it was about to die."

"I know," she said, "I heard it crying. But it hasn't stopped, Vincent."

Yuffie stepped forward. "There are different problems now, and we're all searching for White materia. Shinra, too. And we heard them say something...about you having one of them."

Lucrecia nodded. "Yes, Hope." She walked over to a place in the wall and withdrew the white orb. "Here. Save the Planet. I don't need this anymore. All my hope is gone now. I just want everything to end. I want... peace, I guess."

Yuffie took her hand. "We will make peace," she said, "with this, with what you have given to us."

Lucrecia smiled weakly. "Peace for the Planet, but not peace for me," she said. "I will never have peace. No, no matter what you do, what you say, Vincent, you cannot change anything for me. You couldn't change me then, and you can't change me now."

"That is my sin," Vincent said.

"No," said Lucrecia, "your sin is letting the world and all it has to offer slip by while you sulk over the fact that I made a horrible mistake. And you try to protect me, even now. Tell me, Vincent, why did you tell me Sephiroth was dead last time you saw me? What was it you weren't telling me? Had he done something? Was he the enemy? Didn't I have the right to know?" She sighed. "For all I know, he's still alive. It doesn't matter. Take the materia, kill him once, kill him again. But don't lose what you have now for what I did then. And don't try to fool me. I really did know the truth then and I do now. Sephiroth's dead, and Shinra wants him back. For whatever reason he needs to stay dead, make sure he does. But forget me, Vincent. I might as well be dead. I should be dead. But not you..."

"Lucrecia," he whispered.

"Go live your life, Vincent. Not for me, because there is nothing left for me. Live it for...I don't know, her." She pointed to Yuffie. "But live your life, Vincent. It would be worse if I had to think I had destroyed another life besides my own."

"I never realized you felt that way. I can never forgive myself for... Well, I guess this is good-bye, Lucrecia," Vincent said. Then they left.


"Yuffie," Vincent said.

"What?" she asked. She was crying. "Is it enough you had to tell me to make sure to keep our little 'mistake' a secret? I think I got the picture then. I don't need a rerun of your past statement of: 'Yuffie you don't matter. You were just something to pass the time.'"

Cid looked at them. "Did I miss something?" Then the Wutai events came back to him in the semi-drunken haze of his memory. "Never mind. I don't want to know." He walked towards his chocobo.

Vincent shook his head. "The way you were in there...I don't know. It's like you've all of a sudden grown up. Trying to comfort Lucrecia. Yuffie, there was nothing shallow in that. You are nothing like you were before..."

"I grew up because I thought maybe you'd want me then. I guess not," she said. She started to walk away.

"Stop, Yuffie," he said.

"Give me one good reason," she began.

"I think I'm in love with you."

"What? I think I'm deaf. It just sounded like you said you loved me."

Vincent reached up and touched her face. "I did. All this time I'd been guilty about it because of Lucrecia. Forgetting, for a moment, all my regrets and sorrow. Because of you. But she woke me up, right then. I've been living my life with nothing but remorse for...I don't know..."

"Something that maybe," said Yuffie, "you didn't do quite right, but isn't exactly worth ruining your whole life about. Or mine. I said nothing about us, but I think she knew anyway. It's probably the Jenova coming out in her."

"I will never forget you, will always stay...inside..." He sighed. "C'mon, I think Cid's waiting."

"And choco-Bage," Yuffie said. She took out her PHS. "Hey guys, we have Hope," she said. "Repeat, we have Hope."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The Mythrill Mine was dark and drippy. "I hate this place," said Blane. "Gimme Ray's map." Ruther handed it to him. "This way." Blane pointed to an even drippier passageway. They walked into it.

Almost immediately a slimy voice said: "It'ss beenn a loong time since I've hadd annyonne to pplay withh..." A large serpent loomed up ahead of them.

"I hate this place," said Blane. The serpent's tail started coiling around Legolas.

"Umm, guys?" he said.

"Yeah, okay, Leg," said Ruther.

"I hate it when you call me that."

"Look, Leg, do you want me to kill it or not?" Ruther said.

Blane blew off its head with his semi-automatic. "Eww, green blood," he said.

"I swear, Blane," said Legolas, "you are just like a girl."

"Am not."

"Are too."

"Shut up!" yelled Ruther. "Look, there's a treasure chest over there. Snake-boy must have been guarding it."

Blane opened it. "He must have been getting a little rusty all back here by his lonesome. Look, it's Renew." He took out the PHS. "Ray, white number two has now been acquired. Fine, white number three. But they didn't have to fight, so of course they got it first. Oh, shut up, Yuffie." He slammed the PHS, figuratively. "Monster-Man, Chinese-Chick, and the Drunk-Guy beat us. Even though we only had to kill Wimpy-Snake."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Cactus Island was hot and dry. "My nose is drying out," said Red XIII.

"What do you expect, it's a desert," Cloud said, disgusted. He brought out something that looked like a metal detector. "I present to you the Materia-Detect 5000."

"Like that's really gonna find it," said Tifa.

"It should," Cloud said, "it was 38,000 gil. I bought it from the guy who used to own the weapons shop in Wall Market."

Barret snorted. "It probably is just a cheap metal detector."

"We'll just see," said Cloud. He turned it on. Bzzz, Bzzz, *Beep*, *Beep*. "Oh, dig right there, Barret."

"Why me?" Barret asked.

"Because you have the shovel!" yelled Cloud, Tifa, and Red XIII at the same time.

"Probably a waste of time," he muttered, and started digging. Almost right away he hit something solid. (Probably one of those stupid cactuses.) He reached down, and pulled up a little gold case. He opened it up. "Well, I'll be dam--"

Tifa jumped up and down. "Spirit!"

"We'll be a-takin' that Spirit now," said Rude.

"Do you fellows know," Red XIII said, "that you annoy us to no end."

"Shut up," said Elena, "and put 'em up. It's time for revenge. Reno may be too injured to be with us, but we'll fight twice as hard..."

Tifa cast Tornado on them, and they ran away. "Is it just me, or are they getting weaker and weaker?"

Cloud shrugged. "Uhh, they're getting weaker and weaker," he said. He took out the PHS. "Hey Raieyana, we got Spirit, yes we do, we got Spirit, how 'bout you? Uh-huh, just got past that yellow fish to the stairs to the altar. Yes, that fish is quite annoying. What? They all got their materia, too? This is almost too easy..."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

(So easy for them. And they almost have all of them.) Aysta smiled. (Father, it's almost time. I'm sure it won't be hard for you to find a body after I bring your soul back.) She reached into her desk an pulled out a circle fitted with materia slots. Six. (The five White materia right here with Mutate in the center. A few incantations, Father, and you will return. And Raieyana will know pain like she never has before.)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Raieyana looked down the long stairway which led down to the place where Sephiroth had killed her mother. Ishmael looked at her. "It's hard for you, isn't it, Ray?" he asked.

She shook her head. "No, not really." Ishmael reached for her hand, but she pulled away. She looked at Reeve. (It's good to see only his fists are clenched after that episode with those guards. But it's only Ish, Reeve, only Ish...he would never do anything to hurt me...) "I mean, even though I can definitely feel bad vibes, I don't know, I guess there just isn't much meaning in this place for me. It would be harder to go to the ruins of the Temple of the Ancients."

"Because of Tseng?" Reeve asked.

Raieyana nodded. "Because of Tseng. Well, I hope no one is worried about getting their clothes wet..." She glanced at Reeve's suit. "...because Holy is underwater and we only know vaguely where it is. But it's glowing green, so..."

"Hey," yelled Ishmael, "over here! I see it!" He pointed to a spot in the water, and they could all see a faint glowing, and deeper, a materia orb: Holy. "Just stay there you two, and I'll go get it." He dived into the water with a splash.

Reeve raised an eyebrow. "He is way too enthusiastic about some things."

"Well, Reeve," said Raieyana, "you have personality problems as well, you know."

"Like what?" he asked.

"For one, the little skirmish in the Shinra building..."

"Ray, we got out alive, didn't we?"

"You didn't have to cut off all their heads."

Reeve moved closer towards her. "That guard didn't have to touch you like that, look at you like that, say anything... I didn't want anything to happen to you, and look--nothing did. Don't I deserve at least a 'thank you' for that?"

Ishmael hoisted himself out of the water. (I have Holy. Now where's Ray...) He glanced around and saw Raieyana...kissing Reeve. ('ll never be good enough for her...) Aysta's voice rang through his head. He turned around so Raieyana wouldn't know he had seen them. "Hey, Ray," he called. Raieyana and Reeve pulled apart quickly. Ishmael turned back around. "Got Holy," he said.

"Great," she said hoarsely, clearing her throat. She pulled out the PHS. (I hope Ish didn't see us. It would break his heart...) "Guys," she said, "we have Holy. Uh-huh, yeah. Now we're heading over to Undor-Hai ourselves. All right, see ya. Yes Blane, that also includes you. Bye." "C'mon, guys. Everyone is waiting for us." Raieyana started back up the stairs, with Reeve following her.

Ishmael brought up the rear. (Ray, I'm sorry...but I never thought you would betray me. I can't stop this if you're the one who started it. Aysta was right. You will never love me. Never.)


Chapter 9

After a nice reprisal of "welcome home Ray" from Lia, Raieyana, Reeve, and Ishmael met up with the others. Yuffie jumped up and ran over to Raieyana triumphantly. "I give you Hope," she said.

"Okay," said Raieyana, "two from Yuffie, now is anyone else going to give me a White materia?" Cloud walked over and handed her Spirit.

Blane sauntered over. "I'll give you Renew, if you'll give me a kiss."

(Blane we broke up, remember?) she thought. But, she leaned over and gave him a peck on the cheek.

"Here you are m'lady," he said, handing her Renew.

Raieyana hauled out the Evenstar. "There's Mercy, now Spirit, Renew, Hope, and...Holy," she said, placing each orb in its respective slot.

"Now what?" asked Ruther.

"Ray," said Ishmael, "we have to do something about Aysta."

"I know, I know," she said, "but we shouldn't rush into anything. I--"

"Ray," said Blane, "Aysta is the immediate problem. If we don't finish her off now, there was no point in getting the materia. We might as well just hand it all over to her now. I mean, I understand this is hard for you. It's hard for me, too."

"It's not the same, Blane," she said, "to you, it's like 'well, she was my friend, but she's gone bad.' To me it means another member of my family is going to be dead when this is all over."

Cid walked over and put a hand on her shoulder. "I thought that's what it always meant."

"I know, I just...well, I thought maybe she would come to her senses. I understand why I have to do this, I just never brought myself to face reality before. Aysta must die...but, can we at least wait until tomorrow?"

Reeve took her hand. "No one's asking you to go out and do it right this second. Right?" he asked, addressing the others. They nodded. "So," he continued, "we all need tonight to rest, anyway. Then...well, we'll go do what has to be done."

Raieyana nodded. "Tomorrow it all ends."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

It was a little past midnight when Blane met Ishmael outside Lia's house, where they were staying. "So," he whispered, "are you ready to do what needs to be done?"

"But," Ishmael said, "Ray..." His voice trailed off into the darkness.

Blane grabbed his shoulders and shook him. "Ishmael," he said, "she has forgotten you. So what if you love her? She will never love you."

Ishmael looked at him. "Shut up. You sound just like Aysta."

"So," said Blane, "did you ever think for a minute that maybe Aysta's right? C'mon, you know what you could do."

"What?" Ishmael asked warily.

"Help Aysta. I mean, after all, look what Ray's been doing to you. It would just be a little practical joke. Like old times."

"Old times..." Ishmael whispered. Then he nodded. "Okay Blane, you win. Where's Ray's room?" Blane pointed to a window in Lia's house. "Be back in five," Ishmael said. "Wait. Take the sword?"

Blane shook his head. "Just the materia. We'll head to Junon right away, so take your stuff with you."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"Yes, come," Aysta whispered. "closer and closer to the end, my goal, Sephiroth's glorious return. Right Denmae?" She looked over at Denmae. Her eyes were glassy, she uttered no reply. "Too much mind control for one day?" Aysta ruffled Denmae's hair. "Well, when the boys get here, I won't be so intense with them, okay? I just can't believe Ish went along with Blane. Surprise, surprise. But then I guess he never expected to see innocent little Ray tongue-in-cheek with another man. But then, life's just full of surprises."

"President?" Scarlet walked into the room. "Are you okay? I heard your voice in the next room and I thought..."

"I know what you thought," said Aysta, "you thought I was talking to myself. Going crazy, perhaps? No. I was just talking to my friend Denmae." She smiled at Denmae. "So don't bother yourself about me, Scarlet. Just bother with getting me a Gelnika prepared. Three others and myself are going to the Northern Crater tomorrow. Oh, and if two ex-Soldiers come in..." She handed Scarlet a picture of Blane and a picture of Ishmael. "Bring them up here. I will be expecting them. They have a present for me."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Raieyana woke up with the sun streaming across her face. She stretched her arms over her head and yawned. Then she noticed the note taped to the Evenstar. She walked slowly towards it, puzzled. (Ish's handwriting? What does it say?)



I never wanted it to end this way. I never expected it to end like this. But then, I never expected that we wouldn't be together. I guess I woke up yesterday. I saw you and Reeve. Have a nice life with the path you chose, if you can live with it, knowing now how it has affected mine. Blane, Aysta, they knew--but never mind what they knew. The only thing that matters now is what I know, and what you know. I couldn't leave without saying something, anything. And I say it now--forgive me, forgive me, for being to weak to ignore the suggestions. They've slowly come on, the voices telling me things I never wanted to hear. But there was only so long I could hold them out of me. Forgive me Raieyana. I always will love you, me. Maybe I'm just not me anymore.



Raieyana caught her breath. (Forgive you for what, Ish? For leaving? What about Blane, Aysta?) Then she turned over the sword. All the slots were empty. "Oh God, Ish," she whispered. "Not the materia..." Tears welled up in her eyes. She ran to room Ishmael and Blane were sharing. She whipped open the door. (Empty, all their stuff gone...) She was starting to panic. She ran to Reeve's room. He was sound asleep. "Reeve, wake up." She shook him. He kissed her on the cheek.

"Ray? What is it, hon?" he mumbled.

"The materia's gone, and so are Blane and Ish."

He sat up, now wide awake. "What? I swore I just heard--"

"You did. We gotta get the others, tell them."

"Raieyana," he said slowly, "did they go to Aysta?"

She shook her head. "I don't know. But they're probably in Junon by now. We have to catch her before she does anything. Now where would she go with the materia?"

They both looked at each other. "The Northern Crater!" they said at the same time.


"The hell? Raieyana, they're your friends," Barret said.

"Barret," said Reeve, "don't you think she's upset enough, without you..."

Cloud held up his hand to silence Reeve. He was holding Ishmael's letter. "Actually Reeve," he said, "I think you're the one who caused all this."

"So what, now it's all my fault? It's not like I'm the one who goes crazy anytime someone with a little bit of Jenova in them walks by. I saw you coming on to Ray the other day."

"Well," said Tifa, coming to Cloud's defense, "at least he's only five years older than her, not ten, like some cradle robbers I know."

"Please," pleaded Raieyana. Everyone calmed down a little. She continued softly. "Arguing is not going to stop Aysta. There's only one way, and I think I'm the only one who can. After all, there is no way I can be susceptible to her mind control."

"She's right. She needs to go and stop Aysta, quickly. Maybe you can win Ishmael back. From the letter, he doesn't sound completely with Aysta's camp, yet," said Legolas.

"Allright," said Cid, "never wanted to go back there, but I guess it's off to the Northern Crater."


Chapter 10

There was a chill in the Northern Crater. Raieyana shivered. (When this place collapsed, it made new caverns, with new demons. Demons for me to conquer. Me, alone.) She heard a sound behind her. She whirled around. (Nothing.) She breathed a sigh of relief, and turned back around.

"Hi, honey," snarled a large mutant wolf, about three times the size of the wolves around Nibelheim. Raieyana was taking no chances. She whipped out the Evenstar.

"You caught up with me at a very bad time," she began, moving towards it. She heard more snarls. Raieyana was surrounded.

"Kar," growled one, sniffing Raieyana, "can we have a little fun with her first? I've never had a two-legger before."

"Whatever you want," said Kar. Suddenly Kar split in half.

"Reeve?" said Raieyana, astonished.

"Hey, Ray," he said. "I followed you." In a flash the four other wolves were dead.

Raieyana smiled, relieved. "Cloud had no idea what danger he was putting himself in when he was flirting with me the other day."

Reeve shrugged. "Anyone who makes a lurid pass at you, dies. It's just that simple." He looked at her. "I didn't want you facing her alone," he murmured, "I just couldn't let myself leave you by yourself."

"Well," she said, "it's great that you did, Reeve. But I have a job to do. Can you let me do that by myself?"

"Unless Aysta comes out of the closet, no problem," said Reeve.

She looked at him. "Y'know, that's my sister," she said.

He shrugged. "I keep forgetting because you two have no similarities."

"Come on," Raieyana said.


Four hours later, they still hadn't reached Aysta. Suddenly the narrow tunnel opened into a large cavern. "Reeve can come with me," a male voice said. "Blane?" whispered Raieyana. "Don't do this--"

"Shut up," he said. He pressed a revolver against Reeve's neck. "We're going to see Aysta, understand?" he said. Raieyana nodded. He led them over to a corner of the cavern. A circlet with materia was glowing.

"Denmae," Aysta said, "take Reeve off Blane's hands for the moment. Now dear sister, you will see the power I have over others, even your precious Ishmael."

"Ish? What have you done to him?" Raieyana asked.

"Nothing...yet. Why, do you think I should?" Aysta smiled wickedly. "Now, back to business. Blane, put the gun in your mouth." He did as she said.

"No," Raieyana whispered.

"Pull the trigger," said Aysta.

"Stop!" Raieyana yelled, but it was no use. She closed her eyes when she heard the bang and didn't open them until she heard Blane's body hit the ground.

"Don't think, Ray, that I wouldn't make you watch Ishmael do the same thing. Or your new lover-boy, whoever the hell he thinks he is." Raieyana suddenly noticed Ishmael and Reeve were standing behind Aysta, hands at their sides.

Reeve was looking straight into her eyes. (Ray, don't worry about me. Get Aysta...)

Ishmael was looking at the ground. (What have I done...

only what she deserves...

I love her...

you used to love her. Not anymore.)

"Oh, Aysta," Raieyana said, "what makes you think you can make me do anything?"

"Well, Ray, if you don't do what I ask, know that I can torture Ish and what's-his-name the same way as Blane," said Aysta, "I really don't think that you would enjoy that. Either way, you see my power, either way you get punished for your disobedience to our dear, beloved Father."

"Aysta, the only thing you have on your mind is revenge on me, for God knows only what. Whatever I did to you, sure make me pay, but Ish, Reeve, they've done nothing to you. They have nothing to do with this. This is between you and me, sister. Unless you need hostages because you can't do it by yourself..." (Always hit the inferiority complex first, the rest of her later...)

"Fine," said Aysta, and she waved her hand. Reeve and Ishmael fell flat on their faces But Reeve only fell because Denmae, who was behind him with a gun to his head, fell. It was apparent that Aysta's mind control had kept her and Ishmael where they stood, but not Reeve. That was done with Denmae's gun. "I really didn't want to do anything to them anyway. It's hard to get men who are really good slaves to mind control."

"Reeve," said Raieyana, "take Ish out of here. He looks bad."

"What about you, Ray?" Reeve asked.

"Just go!" He nodded, put Ishmael's arm around his shoulder, and led him out of there.

(If you can control minds, sis, then me too.) "Denmae," Raieyana said, looking deep into her eyes, "sleep." Denmae immediately passed out.

Aysta chuckled. "Did you really think you were ever gonna stop me?" she taunted. "Even now, it's basically all over. Father's back, and really, it's all thanks to you...for trusting your old friends when you knew I had the powers of mind control... But, hey, Ish never would have hopped on the Aysta bandwagon if you didn't have a new man. By the way, what is so great about this Reeve guy? All he does is decimate men that so much as glance at you with this jealous rage he seems to have. Well, sis, I'd even forgive you now if you apologized, but really it's up to Father." She climbed on a tall rock jutting out from above a huge drop-off. She raised her arms above her head. "Oh, Father, with your infinite wisdom, judge your prodigal daughter as she dares to defy you, even now, in your moment of glory..." she began. Than she slipped, and fell.

"Aysta," cried Raieyana, running to the edge. Aysta was gone. Raieyana glanced at the circlet. (That was rather anti-climatic. Damn you, Aysta. Sephiroth's coming back now. But maybe I can still stop it all still, if...) She grabbed Mutate, and stuck it in the center slot of the Evenstar. She put the White materia around it. (One empty slot...too bad Aysta didn't know where Faith was. But I can end this now, here.) She started to reach for something, but she heard Reeve's voice.

"Ray...are you okay? If everything's settled, you can come over here now." She hesitated, glancing at the glowing materia, then headed to join Reeve.

"Aysta?" Reeve asked.

"Fell off a rock. Dead. Never had much coordination," Raieyana said.

Ishmael moaned. He was on his knees, obviously ailing. "Ray, I'm sorry. I...I..."

Raieyana stopped him. "Now, Ish, it's okay. It's not your fault--it's Aysta's."

Ishmael shook his head. "I tried to fight it. For so long now, I... Ray, I can't do it anymore."


Ishmael closed his eyes. "I still hear it, telling me...things. But it's not Aysta anymore, it's Sephiroth. Ray, I don't want to hurt you."

"Ish, you haven't. There's nothing you could ever do to hurt me."

(Here it comes) thought Reeve. (I'm just waiting for her to say the words to comfort him that will break my heart. Go on, Ray, Tell him you love him. After all, you do, don't you? Nothing could faze me, really. But this guy, he's suffering, you can ease the pain. Go on Ray. I'll understand. It's too soon to think you could even possibly love me...) There was a loud crash. Then another. "Ray, this thing's going to collapse pretty soon," said Reeve shakily.

"Ray," said Ish.

"Yes," she answered.

"Make it all end, please."

Raieyana was confused. "What?"

"I can't live like this," he said, "I'm in love with you, yet every second, every minute, is filled with voices telling me to...Ray, I'm going to lose my mind. I'm half-way there already." Another crash. "It's going to cave in, you have to get out of here. Ray, just don't take me with you when you go back up. Tell them Aysta killed me."

She shook her head, and smoothed back his hair. (Always too long, never stayed in place... I'd do anything for you Ish, but I can't do this, please...) "No Ish, if I do that Aysta will have killed you."

"But Ray," Ishmael said, "if you take me with you it will kill me anyway. Not my body, but my soul..."

Raieyana started to cry. "I can't leave you here, Ish. This sounds so selfish, but I need you. Everything from my past is gone. Bet you don't know this, or Reeve either, but when we were in the Shinra building, I saw a newspaper opened to the obituary page. I saw my aunt's...Aula, she's dead. Aysta must have killed her, because my aunt wasn't very old. Not old enough to die on her own. And Ish, Blane's gone, and Aysta, my father... If you die, I won't have one..."

"Shhh..." He put his finger to her lips. "Him." He pointed to Reeve. "He loves you. You'll have him. Reeve, you'll take care of Ray, won't you?"

Reeve nodded slowly. (How could he know that her?)

"All I want is peace," Ishmael said. "Give it to me, please."

"Okay Ish," she said, "close your eyes. Sleep." Raieyana was grateful for her skills is hypnosis once again as Ishmael went into a peaceful slumber. "Please don't feel any more pain." She kissed him. Reeve took her hand. "Good-bye, my friend," she said.

Reeve was silent. (Aysta was on a level well below the destruction she caused. Another thing to blame Sephiroth for? Who is to blame because this boy dies? Hojo, Ray, or perhaps...even me?)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

From the deck of the Airship, they could see the crater collapsing on itself. "I don't know if that's a good sign or a bad sign," Red XIII said.

"Look," said Cloud, "there's Reeve and Raieyana." Reeve climbed up the ladder first and put his hand down to help up Raieyana, who was still very upset.

"What's wrong?" asked Tifa. "What happened?"

"Well," said Reeve, "Aysta's dead."

"A relief," said Legolas, "Denmae?"


"Umm, Blane?" asked Ruther.


"Ishmael?" asked Vincent quietly.

"He's dead," Raieyana said. "Aysta killed him. (Ish, no one will ever know. I swear.) And, well, she succeeded in her plans."

"What?" said Cloud.

"The materia was glowing when I got there, already working. I could have stopped it even then, but..."

"So why didn't you?" asked Barret angrily.

"You know what?" she said, "I'm sorry. I'm just so sorry that I had to be with my friend when he died. I'm so sorry that I got all the materia back. And Mutate as well. I'm so sorry that I still have a plan to stop Sephiroth before he takes over someone's body, especially when the most likely candidate for that is sitting among us." She got up and started to leave. "Wait. Why don't we keep going here? I'm sorry I was born, because then Aysta wouldn't have been born. I'm sorry my father existed, because maybe then Aeris wouldn't be dead. I'm so sorry that I disappointed all of you by thinking 'Maybe Sephiroth's going to come no matter what the hell I do, but I'll never see Ish again after today, so I should be there.' I'm so sorry, so damn sorry!" She left the deck.

"She's had a hard day," said Cid.

"Yeah," said Reeve coldly, "she has had a time."

Barret walked over guiltily. "Take her to Costa Del Sol for tonight. Let her get rid of the bad vibes. Come back tomorrow."

Reeve looked at him suspiciously, wondering what he knew. "Why me?"

Barret shrugged. "Because from where I stand, I think you're the best friend that she has left. Mebbe she needs someone to talk to. I don't think I would make the best choice. So you go with her. Give her a peaceful night."


Chapter 11

They had arrived at the villa two hours ago. Reeve was watching Raieyana. (Motionless. No sound. For two hours. Ray, talk to me. Maybe I couldn't understand, but maybe this just isn't a time when someone should be alone. Don't shut me out. Please.) He walked over to her bed and sat down next to her. "You okay?" he asked.

"Sure," she said.

"Ray, say something. Please."

"What for?"

"Hmm, gosh I don't know. Hell, Ray, two of your closest friends and your sister just died. Not to mention Denmae. Me, being a real dumb-ass, I guess, thought maybe you would want to talk to someone who cares about you. A whole damn lot." (Don't push me away.)

"Reeve," said Raieyana, "you should stop, then. Everyone who has ever cared a smidgen about me is dead. I don't want you to end up dead."

"Ray." He kissed her softly on the cheek. "I love you."

She started shaking. "Love, love, that's what it was all about. I wish I could have loved him. God, I would have told him I did, if I thought he would have believed me. If I could have let myself lie to him. Don't love me, Reeve. You saw how the last one went. Not you." He wrapped his arms around her. She started sobbing in his shoulder. "Don't love me..."

"Shhh, Ray."

"...everyone I have ever loved is dead. Not you, not you..."

Reeve stood up. "Ray, I'm not leaving you. I'm staying right here."

"Forever? Forever is a long time, you know."

"God, Ray, do you want me to prove myself or what?" he asked. Raieyana nodded. He brushed away her tears. "I'd do anything for you to trust in me."

She kissed him full on the lips. "Show me that you love me," she whispered. Reeve willingly obliged.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Raieyana was dreaming.

"Father knows your weakness... Your latest weakness, that is. You've had so many...Tseng, Aula, Ishmael. You don't seriously expect to survive, do you? Do you expect to win? Why don't you accept who you are and face your reality? Sephiroth lives, he lives--forever. In you." Aysta's voice trailed off into the darkness of the cavern Raieyana was in. Her companion turned to face her. He wielded a sword. (The Evenstar.) She felt the cold metal as the blade went through her. He leaned forward and she could see his face. (Reeve.) Then his face changed. (Sephiroth?)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Raieyana woke up with a start. (What does it all mean? What is Reeve going to do? What is Sephiroth going to do?) Reeve stirred beside her.

"Hey, you moved," he mumbled, taking her back into his arms.

She got up out of bed. "I need to go outside and do some contemplating."

Reeve was wide awake now. "Do you need to do this 'contemplating' alone?" he asked.

She shrugged. "I guess not."

"Good," he said, "contemplating was my best subject in school, you know."

"Reeve, this is serious."


Raieyana walked out onto the balcony, with Reeve following behind. "It's so dark, like the earth's mourning Ishmael as well. Actually, it reminds me of a night a little while back. Blane and I dated a couple years ago. We had just broken up, and I was talking to Ishmael...


"So, Ray," said Ishmael, "are you and Blane officially 'over' now?"

Raieyana shrugged. "I guess so," she said.

"Good, because if you two had stayed together much longer I would have had to fight him for you."

There was always this joke between the four of us that I "belonged" to Ish.

Raieyana shook her head. "Sure, Ish, just so I could get thrown away with yesterday's trash when you meet the girl who really is meant for you."

Ishmael turned and looked into her eyes. "There'll never be anyone for me but you, Ray," he said, "even fifty years from now when you've lived your life and I've lived mine and we're both old and grey, I'll still be there waiting for you. No matter how many 'Blanes' come along for you, I will always be in the background, hoping 'maybe someday Ray will be mine.' But it will never happen, because you always attract tons of other guys who are better than I ever will be."

"No, Ish," said Raieyana, "no one can ever be as good as you. I don't deserve you."


And so I tried to laugh the whole thing off, but he was serious. I've remembered it all this time. He was so good to me. I didn't deserve him then and I'm still not worthy of him now."

"So what does that make me?" asked Reeve.

Raieyana looked thoughtful. "Besides the man I love?"

"Never mind," said Reeve, "I like that answer just fine. So what is bothering you, anyway. Another bad dream?" She nodded. "Did you die again?" She nodded. They sat for a few moments in silence, listening to the gentle sound of the waves crashing into the shore.

"I don't know why it worries me so much," she said, "it's just a little eerie, that's all, and I sit here, so upset and everything." They sat there a little longer, while Raieyana was thinking. "Well," she said, apparently coming to some sort of decision, "we should probably go back to bed."

"I like the way you think," said Reeve. Raieyana rolled her eyes. "Oh," he said, "that's not what you meant."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Raieyana awoke at the break of dawn the next morning. (I now realize what I need to do. I just wish it didn't have to be this hard.) She kissed Reeve on the cheek and climbed out of bed softly, so not to wake him. She quickly got dressed and gathered up her things.

"I love you," she wrote, "so much, but I have some things that I need to take care of. And I realize now that I have to do it alone. I hope that I will see you really soon." (He can't hurt me if he's not with me. I'll just go undo the resurrection spell and come back to him. I only need to finish the last part of the translation first. And take care of some business in Junon...) She was silhouetted for a moment in the doorway by the sun, surrounded by light. But then she closed the door behind her and left. For the boat dock. For Junon.


I leave you here today

There's nothing you can change

I still love you, but it has to be this way

I can't hold your hand

As I fly away

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