No Wish To Be Alone Chapter 14
Leaving The Valley Behind
By Chocobo Goddess
The strange assortment of people made their way out of the valley, moving Southwest. After arguing for a long time, they had decided to leave the continent and head back to Cosmo Canyon. There were too many questions, too many problems to solve. Perhaps Bugenhagen would have the answers they needed, at very least, perhaps he could point them in the right direction.
As they reached the ridge on the opposite side of the valley, they stopped to catch their breaths after the arduous climb. While the others shared oatcakes for breakfast, the girl with the chestnut hair stood apart, looking wistfully back at the grassy, tree-dotted expanse. I will miss this place, her heart cried, I wonder if I will return someday.
A pair of strong arms surrounded her from behind, and the sweet scent of well-worn leather came with them. She leaned back into the embrace, eyes never leaving the breathtaking vista. "I wish we didnt have to leave."
"I know," he said, lifting her hair from her neck and placing a light kiss there. "Maybe we can come live here when this is all done."
She looked at him, face shining with hope. "II would like that very much." She snuggled into the warmth of his coat, holding his arms where they crossed in front of her. Well be married then, she thought. I will be his wife. A delicious thrill went through her at that. She sighed and closed her eyes, enjoying the peace of the cold morning air, the warm heartbeat next to her ear, the low chatter of her friends. I feel content.
Good. Chose well.
She smiled slightly. Not that you had any say in it.
Of course not. Silly child. Was always meant to be so. He loves you.
She sighed again, looking up at him. He was regarding her bemusedly. I know.
You know, I can hear everything you say to the Planet when youre this close.
She started. You can??
Yes. Since last night I can. His eyes narrowed as he smiled at her, a genuine, warm, open smile. You know, youre absolutely beautiful when you look at me like that.
Funny, I was going to say the same thing to you, she teased. They laughed together. The others looked at them in surprise, first at her sudden laugh, then at the expression on his face. None of them had ever thought to see such happiness on his normally expressionless visage.
Ah, such peace. Deep blue sparkled with soft gold. Good for each other.
Cloud, as mystified as the rest of them, shook his head. They seemed to find humor in something no one else apparently knew about. "All right, then, lets mosey."
Barrett scowled. "Boy, if youre supposed to be our leader, cant you at least say somethin that dont make you sound like a wuss? Damn, how about Lets go or Move out?"
The younger man sighed. "Fine, then, move out," he said with some annoyance. "Sheesh. Happy now?"
"Yeah, thats better." They began the trek down the mountain, loosely in single file. Cloud and Tifa led, followed by Barrett, Cid, Cait Sith, Yuffie, and Nanaki. Vincent waited for the last two, who were stealing one last look at the peaceful valley.
"Wed better go," he said quietly. They turned to see him patiently waiting, as the rest of the AVALANCHE team disappeared down the path behind him. Wordlessly, they nodded and joined him.
Ill be back someday, I promise
Once they left the valley, the environment changed dramatically. Gone were the temperate breezes, the soft grassy plains. The temperature dropped sharply as they wound through the mountain pass, and the air became thinner. Only Vincent and Sephiroth seemed not to feel the effects of the altitude; the others needed to stop and rest often. Toward the end of the afternoon, they were able to see the bottom of the mountain and the snow-covered field past it.
"Well camp down there," said Cloud, pointing. "As uncomfortable as the snow will be, itll be easier to set up tents on flat ground. It should take about an hour or two; everyone ok?" At the nods from everyone, he stood shakily. "Ill be glad when Im in my sleeping bag. Dont think I could take much more of this."
He glanced over at the General, as if expecting him to say something cutting in return. To his surprise, it appeared as if the man hadnt even heard him. Instead, he seemed to be paying close attention to Aeris, who looked very small and fragile under her white quilted cloak. She would have been barely visible against the snow but for the red triangles that edged the border of the heavy fabric. She looked exhausted from the trek, but she smiled brightly at her lover in answer to some question of his.
Turning his blue gaze back down the trail ahead of them, he sighed, then picked up his pack. They had a long way to go.
As soon as dinner was finished, everyone decided to retire early. Aeris went to curl up in her tent, saying that she wanted to talk to the Planet. Going to Sephiroth and kissing him on the cheek, she whispered, "Dont be long, love. Id really like your warmth tonight."
He grinned in reply. "Then Ill be there in a moment." He watched her take a small lantern into the little shelter, then, just as she was silhouetted on the wall, she extinguished the light. He sighed, looking around. Tifa would be taking first watch, and he wanted a word with her before he joined his lover.
The brunette came out of Clouds tent, blushing, he noted with amusement. She looked as though shed been quite thoroughly kissed. He waited for her to sit down by the fire across from him before speaking.
"I wanted to talk to you," he said, and she jumped.
"Oh, Sephiroth, its you." She laid a hand over her heart. "I didnt even notice you there."
He raised an eyebrow. "And youre on first watch tonight?" He smiled, to show there was no malice behind his words. "I feel safer already."
She didnt seem to know how to reply to his light jests. Angry Sephiroth, insane Sephiroth, cold Sephiroth, she knew how to handle all of those men. But this, the quiet, gentle Sephiroth, who seemed to have a sense of humor, who smiled, and laughed, and looked at her friend with such tendernessthis man was a mystery to her. "Iwell, right. I guess I should be paying more attention, right?"
He looked up at the cloudy sky. "Well, its all right this once. I was out here, after all." The Mako eyes caught her burgundy ones. "It seems you and Strife haveworked out some of your differences, yes?"
She blushed again, studying her hands. "Ah, I guess you could say we did." Her mind was confused. She wasnt sitting here, talking about her love life with the man who had burned her home to the ground, and killed everyone she grew up with! It couldnt be! She looked back up at him again, to find him regarding her with a slight quirk of his lips. It wasnt the familiar, I am superior smirk, this was more like a genial, Caught you expression, something shed see on a friends or brothers face, teasing her.
"What do you want?" she whispered, suddenly fearful. "Is this some game youre playing? I dont understand!"
The smile disappeared, and instantly a subtle sadness came over him. "I apologize for making you think this is a game, Miss Lockheart. I simply remained behind so I could talk to you about ," he let the thought hang in the air.
She felt her eyes tear up. I will not cry, not in front of him. I wont give him the satisfaction of hurting me again. "About what?" So help her, shed make this difficult for him.
"About Nibelheim. Your father. Everything after that." He had dropped his own gaze to the tips of his black boots. I wanted to tell youthat I am sorry."
Sephiroth was apologizing? To her?!
He continued. "There is nothing I can do to undo the damage and grief I have left in my path. If I could, please believe me, I would. Their faces haunt me still, the men and women and children."
She stood, for once towering over him as he sat dejectedly in front of the fire. "No, youre right, there isnt anything you can do. How could you have killed them? What were you thinking? What was so terrible in your life that you had to destroy the lives of all those people?" The tears couldnt be stopped now. She was shaking in fury. She wanted him to give her some excuse, any excuse, so she could launch herself at him and scratch his eyes out, break the bones in that handsome face, kick him as he lay on the ground. Anything to make him feel the pain he had caused her.
He looked up at her, eyes glowing softly, brow knitting in sorrow. "I have no excuse, Miss Lockheart." Turning his head, he stared into the fire. "There was no good reason for any of it, and that is why I am sorry."
She had expected a reason, something like, I had a bad childhood, or, Because I was insane, but he hadnt said that. Instead, he had said the one true thing. I have no excuse, Miss Lockheart. I am sorry.
Suddenly, she realized that the reason the man sitting before her barely resembled the one she rememberedwas that he wasnt that man. Here, in the camp of AVALANCHE, was a man who regretted his actions. She had felt it, the apology, as though a chorus of voices were supporting him behind his words. He is sorry he wants a new life, a new chance
He stood up and met her eyes. "I came to you first, because I have hurt you the most of all. I dont expect you to accept my apology right away. Please, think about it. I will understand if you decide not to forgive me, but until you do, I will never be able to forgive myself. And if I cannot do that," he hesitated, looking back at the tent he shared with his love, "Then I will never be worthy of her." A flash of pain crossed his face, so swiftly she barely caught it, but it had most definitely been there. He faced her again, bowing slightly. "I will leave you now. Good evening."
As he moved toward his tent, her hand caught the sleeve of his leather coat. "Wait."
He turned slowly. "Yes?"
She searched his eyes with hers, looking for some hint of indifference, or evil, or anything that would show her he was lying to her. Instead, she saw intense pain, sorrow, self-loathing. "II can answer you now."
He cocked his head to one side, expression carefully blank. She saw the mask as it fell into place, but now she knew the truth. Under all that cool exterior of marble and snow, he hid emotions that ran fathoms deep. And he truly was sorry.
She drew a deep breath. "Sephiroth, I...I f-forgive you ," she forced the words from her lips, pushing aside the old grief, the comfortable vengeance. Louder, more clearly, she repeated it. "I forgive you." She couldnt see him anymore, the haze of tears blinding her. "I forgive you." Her legs wobbled, then gave out as she collapsed to the ground.
Before he knew what he was doing, he had caught her before she fell. He held her close for just a moment, letting her words sink in, then set her down gently. He knelt in front of her. "Miss Lockheart?"
Tifa sniffled, quickly getting herself under control. "Im fine," she said, wiping her eyes with the sleeve of her parka. "Ugh, I hate crying when the weather is so cold, yknow? The tears just freeze right on your face." She smiled weakly up at him.
He returned the smile. "I wouldnt know, but I will take your word for it."
She waved toward his tent. "Go on, Im sure shes waiting for you."
His expression warmed a bit more. He stood to go.
"Oh, and Sephiroth?"
"If this is the new you, I dont think you have to worry about being worthy. Of anyone."
She caught the suggestion of a grin, but he didnt say anything else as he walked away.
A light snow began to fall as Tifa looked up at the sky, the flakes landing softly on her face, washing away her tears. I hope you understand, Father I think I do Everyone deserves a chance at forgiveness.
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic