No Wish To Be Alone Chapter 10
Truce For Now
By Chocobo Goddess
Back at the camp, things were not going so well. The two reached the edge of the clearing to find a fight about to break out again.
"I dont want to hear anything you have to say!" The boy shouted, restrained by a worried-looking Tifa. "You tell nothing but lies, anyway! You actually expect us to believe she stayed with you because she wanted to? I still say you used some kind of Manipulation spell on her or something!"
"Believe what you want. I told the truth, and so did she. Unless you think shes lying too?" The man had drawn himself up to his full height. "Didnt you listen to her when she talked about the Planets intervention?"
Cloud looked uncertain. When he felt the Generals eyes boring through him, he met them defiantly. They stared, unblinking, across the fire at each other as the seconds ticked by. Cloud was the first to drop his gaze as the other smirked. Gnashing his teeth, he moved around the fire to stand toe-to-toe with his former idol. "Damn you, you bastard, I wish I understood what she sees in you!"
One snowy brow rose coolly. "Maybe its because Im not a short, weak, failure," he replied, looking down his nose.
Half a second later, while the other man watched in amusement, arms crossed, the majority of the group was holding back a violently struggling Cloud. "Well, if Id realized that all I had to do to win her was kill innocent people, maybe Idve had a chance with her too, you insane freak!" he growled, watching with satisfaction as the composed, handsome face broke into a mask of fury.
The General advanced on him, Masamune suddenly in hand. "Lets settle this now, boy," he spat, lunging forward.
"Gladly!" Cloud threw the rest of his friends off him and rushed to meet his enemy.
"THAT IS ENOUGH!!"
The blades stopped mid-swing.
Eight heads turned around in surprise to see the object of their fight standing at the edge of the firelight, spine ramrod straight, glaring at everyone through her tears. Vincent stood behind her, looking somewhat astonished at the near-carnage. "Umm, Aeris, we," Cloud began.
"Stop!" she interrupted. "I think Ive heard plenty." She snatched up her wrap from the ground, whirling away as she drew it on. She began to walk away, then spun to face them again. "I give up. Kill each other, for all I care! I am done trying, and Im sick of being put in the middle EVERY SINGLE TIME. Not another word from ANYONE," she held her hands up as the whole group tried to speak at once. A soft swell of concern entered her head. "That goes for you, too!" she cried, pointing at the ground. Immediately, the music faded. After meeting each persons eyes with a hurt expression in her own, lingering on the two men who loved her most, she stalked off into the darkness.
As she brushed past Vincent, he reached out his human hand and caught her arm gently. "Where are you going?"
"Ill be fine. I thought I was ready to handle this, but Im not." She looked up at him, trying to contain the tears that threatened to fall just then. "Please, Vincent," she whispered, "I wont go far."
He hesitated, searching her eyes, then nodded. Letting go of her arm, he said, "All right." She turned and ran back toward the stream.
Her lover began to follow her, but found Vincent blocking his way. "Let me pass," he growled. Red eyes met Mako green, not even flinching at the younger mans frosty glare.
"She specifically said she wished to be alone." To all of them, he said, "I suggest we work all this out right now. It will give her a bit of time to calm down. Again."
Tifa moved to Clouds side. "Cmon, I think all this fighting really hurt her. Shes been through a lot in the last few days," she glanced at Sephiroth, whose hands clenched and unclenched at his sides as he looked out into the darkness, "I think we owe it to her to work together. Thats what she wanted, right?"
Everyone looked at her in varying degrees of surprise. Tifa was suggesting that they work with their nemesis?
"Please, I dont like it any more than you do. Frankly, General, I would rather let you and Cloud work out your differences with your swords, but Aeris is right. We need to stay together on this. You cant fight Jenova on your own, and, though I hate to admit it, we need your strength. And Aeriss magic. And if you dont help us, neither will she." She put a hand on Clouds arm.
Nanaki lashed his tail. "I would hate to put her in the position of having to choose."
"Yeah," said Yuffie, "I mean, we came all this way to get her back, and the first thing we do is fight over her like aa, "
"Like a piece of stolen materia?" Cid supplied, eyeing her warily.
"No! Well, it doesnt matter," the girl huffed, "I just mean we cant keep treating her like shes got no say in her destiny. Shes not an object, or a piece of luggage, or something. Doesnt Aeris have feelings and ideas, like the rest of us? Just cause she always watches out for us, and is always asking us if were okay, we act like she doesnt hurt, too." Silence met her words. Everyone was shocked that, for once, Yuffie had stated the painful truth with total clarity.
"Goddamn, girl," said Cid, "Thats frickin it, isnt it?" He crushed a cigarette to death with his bootheel.
"I agree," Cait Sith added. "Shes been through enough, like Tifa said."
Barrett nodded. "Yeah, this was sposed to be a rescue mission." He looked down at his hand and gun arm. "Damn, some rescue."
"Please, Cloud, Sephiroth, cant we just unite this once? We have a common enemy, here, and you guys can kill each other all you want afterwards. OK?" Tifa pleaded, looking up at each man as she stood between them.
Vincent looked at the two men. "Perhaps you two should shake for now. Then BOTH of you go find her, and apologize. Shes angriest at you."
Sephiroth felt a twinge in his heart at the thought of having hurt her. Cloud reluctantly stuck out his hand, and the taller man grasped it, for just a moment. The others breathed a sigh of relief. He let go of the boys hand and scooped up his coat and sword. Without another word, he pivoted on his heel and strode out of the camp. He had a good idea of where his lover was. He heard Clouds footsteps hurrying to catch up. "Hey, wait a minute! Were supposed to go together." His sensitive hearing caught the muttered, "Big jerk," under his rivals breath. He smiled coldly.
"Im not stopping you from following me, now, am I?" He quickened his pace a bit, until the blond dropped behind him a pace or two. He hesitated long enough to let the boy pull even, then set off again. "No wonder you never made it through SOLDIER training. You cant even keep up a decent pace."
"You know what?" Cloud stormed, cutting in front of him. His blue eyes glowed fiercely in the darkness. "Im really sick of hearing about what a failure I am. Youre not so perfect yourself." Ignoring the hostility in the green eyes in front of him, he continued, "Youre the one who burned Nibelhei," He choked as a gloved hand snaked out and wrapped around his throat. It drew him forward until their noses nearly touched.
"You know what?" the General sneered, "I hate you. And I look forward to killing you when were done with Jenova. Until then, you will not mention the town you were about to name. You will not call me freak, insane, jerk, murderer, or whatever other names you have for me. You will do this, for HER sake, because I would hate to see her face when I tell her I had to kill you, though I had promised not to. Remember, the only reason you are still alive is because I love her. I told her Id work with her friendsI never said Id pretend to LIKE any of you. Understand?"
Cloud, beginning to black out from lack of oxygen, nodded as best he could. The hand around his throat opened suddenly, and he fell to the ground gasping. He recovered quickly, sitting up to see Sephiroth standing over him. The other man offered his hand, the same one that had nearly cut off his air supply, with a genial smile on his lips and a threat in his eyes. "This isnt a trick, is it?" Cloud asked, eyeing the hand.
He snorted. "Of course not. Come on, shes exactly where I thought shed be. She usually goes to the same place to be alone." He looked over in the direction hed indicated, face softening. "Theres a willow tree beside the stream that she likes." Cloud accepted the help up, surprised to see any emotion other than anger or arrogance on his rivals face. Then, before his eyes, the mans expression hardened as he turned to face Cloud. "Are you quite ready?" Without waiting for an answer, he headed toward the stream, black coat and silver hair billowing behind him.
Amazed, Cloud shook his head at the others mercurial moods, then followed once more.
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic