No Wish To Be Alone Chapter 1
By Chocobo Goddess
The Planet sang to her. Sweet child, it said, sweet loving child, lonely still, yes?
Yes, she said, lonely still.
So brave, so lovely, so lonely...
It was the tears that woke her this time, hopeless, angry, frustrated tears. She was so heartily sick of failing at every task set before her. She had been praying for Holy...and it had all gone wrong. She had known what her fate was to be, long before she ever left her friends. Then, just when she had been waiting to feel the cold pain of a blade in her back sever her ties to life, the Planet had cried out. Chaos. Terror. Wrong. Hands clenched into fists, the tears beginning anew. It wasnt supposed to be this way! Her mind screamed. Why am I still alive? I have failed! Her friend had become her enemy, and her enemy hadwell, that remained to be seen. A sound to her left made her turn her head.
He had been watching her, his own face unreadable. She sat up slowly, wiping her eyes. Forcing her feelings down so he couldnt see her misery, she looked at her hands.
"So...now what happens?"
He seemed startled that she spoke. He looked away. "I dont really know. I was thinking about that just now. Are you hungry?" He offered her a piece of roasted meat on a stick, the remains of some animal hapless enough to cross his path earlier. She took it gingerly, trying to ignore the headache that always followed her tears. The meat looked slightly burnt, but it smelled delicious. Was that...rosemary?? She took a bite, eyes widening in surprise as she glanced up at him.
He shrugged. "I got tired of eating plain food a long time ago. Herbs grow wild everywhere; its just a matter of knowing which ones arent poisonous." He handed her a canteen of water. "Drink this. Well get moving as soon as youre ready."
She stopped mid-chew. Swallowing hurriedly, she said, "What do you mean? Where are we going?" She tried to keep the note of hysteria out of her voice. She couldnt go anywhere with him, could she? What was he planning? Was he abducting her?
"I need to get you as far away from your friends as possible." At her gasp, he looked back at her, brow furrowing. "The blond one was going to kill you."
"And how is that different from your own plans?" She said bitterly. "Wouldnt that have just meant you didnt need to do the job yourself?" The headache was getting stronger.
He stood, brushing the leaves from his legs. "I didnt kill you, though, did I? I saved you from your friend. Mothum, Jenova wanted you dead. Shes been hammering the thought into my brain since I first laid eyes on you. She seems to think youre a threat to her plans." His expression clearly said that he didnt share that opinion. He also didnt mention that he no longer heard Jenovas voice shrieking her orders at him. He looked disturbed.
"Well, Im not much of a threat anymore. Something changed back there." She shuddered, waving a hand vaguely in what she thought was the direction of the Forgotten City. "I was supposed to die, give up my life to save the Planet, and you were supposed to kill me. It had been as good as foretold. Thats what my role was going to be...a martyr, killed by a feared enemy. I was going to do it!" Her voice grew tight with shame. "I was prepared! I knew all along that I would die when I got to the City, and I couldnt even do that right!" The tears were back now, and she pulled her knees up to her chest, burying her face on her arms. The sobs tore through her, mortification at revealing her weakness to him mixing with shame at not completing her duty. "Whywhy did you save me?"
Suddenly, she was grabbed roughly by the shoulders and hauled to her feet. She stood involuntarily, struggling against his vise-like grip on her arms. So this is what would happen now, she thought, I knew all along that this was his plan, hes going to rape me and I dont even care anymore. Her eyes were closed so tightly that she missed the shared sorrow in his face as he released her shoulders and pulled her into his arms.
For a moment, she froze, thinking she must be wrong somehow, that this couldnt be what it seemed. He was stroking her hair with one hand, hugging her close with the other. He was murmuring something in her ear about it being all right, how he had failed, too...no, that couldnt be right, could it?
The warmth from his body finally started to banish the cold from her own.
She sobbed against his chest, fingers curling about the lapels of his coat,
clinging to him as though she were drowning. After a while, she relaxed against
him, sniffling, just letting him hold her for the moment. What did it matter
that he was her enemy? He was the first person in ages who had tried to comfort
her, and not the other way around. She sighed, resting her head on his chest
and putting her arms around him, too.
They stood there for a long time, not saying anything, as the leaves fell around them. He kept stroking her hair, weaving his fingers through the ends. Finally her senses returned. What am I doing? She pulled back slowly, blushing. "IIm sorry about all that. I guess I just needed...well, ah, sorry."
His arms dropped to his sides and he turned slightly away, looking over his shoulder toward the City. "Dont mention it." He would probably never admit it, but his heart had twisted at the sight of the tracks of her tears glittering on her cheeks and disappearing into her hair. He seemed to give himself a little mental shake and crouched beside the fire, warming his hands. His face was troubled. When he had held her, it was as though he heard a million familiar voices in his mind telling him that what he was doing was right. It had felt right, somehow, and he wondered if he was going mad again.
She knelt a few feet away, rubbing her arms and hoping the fire would restore some of the warmth shed lost when they stepped apart. She Heard the Planet, closing her eyes at the sense of comfort it was sending her. It had asked her earlier if she was still lonely...it was rare for the Planet to ask her questions. Usually, it told her how it felt, and that was that.
"Are you ready to go?" His voice startled her out of her reverie. At her tentative nod, he stood, offering his hand. "Well head North. Theres a town not too far away; we can stay at the inn and make plans then." He sighed. "Too much has changed for me to make a split-second decision just yet."
Surprised, she asked softly, "What has changed for you?" When he looked at her, the lines of his face hardening into the mask she knew, she blushed in embarrassment. "I apologize, Im sure its personal. I wouldnt have shared my problems with you, myself, except I was kind of overwhelmed..."
The mask slipped a bit. "Thats not it. I am...still overwhelmed, as well." They both looked startled that he would admit something like that. To cover his reaction, he turned to the fire and briskly waved his hand. The flame flared up for a moment, then went out with one last puff of smoke.
So, the great General isnt as invincible as hed like everyone to believe, she thought, Hes as unsettled as I am. Somehow, the thought was comforting.
They traveled in silence for several hours. Both were pondering the events that had led them to this unforeseen situation. Neither one realized how closely their thoughts mirrored each other.
What happened in the city? He thought, Why did Jenovas presence disappear? It was as though something cut her off in midsentence...One moment she was urging me to kill the girl, the next, I swear I was being instructed to save her. It was a different voice, one Ive never heard before, but it seemed familiar somehow. He stole a glance at the solemn girl walking beside him. And what is she thinking? She knows who I am, she knows what I was about to do. I remember the fear in her eyes the first time she met me. For some reason, he felt a pang of regret at that memory. He sighed and shook his head, focusing on the path ahead. He ignored her questioning look and lengthened his stride, pulling ahead.
She, too, was thinking about their circumstances. The Planet was being increasingly vocal about her feelings. She took advantage of their silent travel to commune with it. My Friend, what is happening?
Not right, not right for you to be so alone.
But I thought that was my fate...Wasnt I supposed to die for you?
An impression of sheepishness. Was once. Could not let you do so.
Why not? I was ready...
If you gone...no one left to talk to. No one left to Listen.
She reflected upon that idea for a moment. You are lonely, too, arent you?
A feeling of affirmative, a swell of soft, sad music.
But what can I do? What will you do when I die? It will still happen someday.
Talk to your children then. Their children.
She stopped walking. My children?! She didnt notice that her companion had stopped, and was now looking at her strangely. My children?
The Planet hummed quietly. She stood in shock at its words. Her children? And who was supposed to be the father? Her blond friend, though she knew he loved her, belonged with the brunette fighter, even if he wasnt aware of it yet. She didnt even know anyone else she could consider.
A light touch on her arm brought her back to her surroundings. She opened her eyes, startled, and found her field of vision filled by his pale face, framed by his silver hair. The Planet hummed louder, and she felt happiness coming from it in waves.
She gasped, taking a step back. He followed her, brow furrowing. She was stopped by a tree.
"Are you all right? You looked like you were going to faint."
"IIm fine. The Planet...was talking to me. I didnt mean to worry you." She brought a hand up to her heart, hoping he didnt hear it beating. "I was startled."
The green Mako eyes flared a bit, narrowing. "I see." His hand moved away from her arm, and she shivered in the sudden cold as he withdrew. "Do you think you can make it to the next village?"
She nodded, not meeting his eyes.
"Good. Its not much further, and we will be able to stay at the inn long enough to gather supplies. I have an idea of where to go for a while. I need to think about all this before making any long-term plans."
"What kind of long-term plans are you thinking about?" She asked, curious. She trotted after him to keep up as he strode off down the path.
He glanced over his shoulder at her. "I need to think about what to do now, where to go. And what to do with you." She stopped in her tracks again. He wondered why she looked like a frightened rabbit when he said that, then remembered that he had been ready to kill her barely a day before. He hesitated and turned. "Im just trying to figure out what happened back there. Please work with me on this. I dont want to hurt you anymore...yes, I know I have in the past, but I really need you to believe me now. Will you at least give us both a chance to rest and recover?"
She was silent for a moment, then, "Yes."
"Good." He nodded, satisfied, and offered his hand. "Come on, Ill help you."
Tentatively, shyly, she took his hand. He helped her up over a series of roots in their way. They continued on, again not talking, and when they were back on the smooth path, he still held her hand. Though she never complained, he could tell when she began having a hard time keeping up with him. He wordlessly swept her up and carried her in his arms like a child. She was too tired to protest, so she just rested her head against his chest, enjoying the gentle rocking motion of his walk and the soft scent of leather from his coat.
She weighs less than nothing, he thought.
She slept the rest of the way to the village.
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