No Wish To Be Alone Chapter 16
By Chocobo Goddess
"We need to think about where were going." The General spoke without preamble, walking up to the others huddled around the tiny fire.
Barrett shrugged, irritated. "Where do you get off giving orders?" he rumbled.
He didnt rise to the bait. Ignoring the question, he turned to Cloud. "I know we are headed to Cosmo Canyon, but we need to resupply. Theres a town nearly due West from here, Icicle Inn. Its a resort town. We should head there, then go to the coast."
Cloud looked at his former rival with a measuring gaze. "Youre worried about her, arent you?" he asked gently, if a bit sadly. Sephiroth nodded, then, noticing the amazement mixed with distrust on the others faces, his mouth quirked up at one corner.
"It appears my presence is...unsettling. I will let you discuss my suggestion. If you need me, Ill be over there." He indicated the edge of camp with a wave. At Clouds nod, he inclined his head to Tifa and turned to go. Soon the sounds of Masamune whipping through katas cut the cold morning air.
"Hes definitely changed," Cloud said softly, "For the better." Tifa put her arms around him and nodded in agreement.
Everyone looked at them in surprise. They had all been ready to hold him down if he decided to take offense at the other mans suggestion. Nanaki recovered first, silently noticing how strangely relaxed Tifa and Vincent were.
"Somethin goin on here we dont know about?" demanded Barrett.
"Yeah, since when arent you trying to kill each other?" Yuffie piped up.
"Friggin weird," said Cid.
"Spooky," supplied Cait Sith.
"Actually," Nanaki grinned, "I think we need to be brought up to speed, eh, Tifa? Vincent?"
Vincents red eyes smiled in his dark way. "As usual, the most perceptive person is the scholar."
Shrugging, Nanaki said, "I merely observe and think things through." He sounded very pleased, however.
The golden claw gestured. "I spoke with Aeris the first day we met up in the valley. She convinced me that she truly loved Sephiroth. I take her words at face value. Im quite certain the girl couldnt lie about her feelings if she tried, and I give her enough credit to know her own heart. I am willing to trust him."
Cloud spoke. "Aeris talked to both of us that night, too, when we went to apologize to her. She essentially said the same thing to us...with a few things that opened my eyes, as well." His glance flicked over Tifas face and he smiled faintly.
She took a deep breath. "My tale is the most compelling, though, Im sure. Just last night, when I was on watch, he...asked for my forgiveness." Barretts jaw dropped.
"Goddamn." Cid seemed as shocked as anyone had ever seen him.
Yuffie pursed her lips thoughtfully. "How do you know he wasnt just pretending?"
Tifa sighed. "Trust me. I know."
Cloud looked askance at her. "You failed to mention that last night."
"Im sorry...I just needed to let it sink in."
"Well?" Yuffie planted her hands on her hips.
She made an exasperated sound. "What did you tell him? Did you tell him to go to hell? What happened?"
Another sigh. "I forgave him."
Silence, broken only by the sound of Masamunes complex path through the air at the edge of the camp.
How is she, my Friend? The blade whirled about him.
Tired...will wake soon. Needs warmth, true bed...
I know. I told them about Icicle Inn. We're going there first.
A surge of worry. Good. She is weak. Needs help.
The blade stopped moving as he drew his arms up, the shining steel held horizontally at eye level beside his head.. He stood perfectly still, eyes narrowing in anger. She is still in danger, isnt she?
Yes. A whisper of concern.
He sheathed his weapon and spun to go back to the tent. He found himself face-to-face with Cloud. The younger man took a step back at the expression on his face. Immediately the mask fell into place. "Excuse me. I didnt hear you approach." He began to walk around the boy.
Sephiroth, of all people, didnt notice me?? "What was that? You blanked out for a moment there. I came to tell you that the others have agreed to go to Icicle Inn."
He gave a curt nod in reply, choosing not to answer the direct question. "Good. We need to get moving immediately."
"Theyre already packing. Sephiroth, whats wrong? It looked like you wanted to kill something."
"Shes still in danger."
"What?! You mean Jenova could dowhatever it was she did, again?"
"No, but she wont leave Aeris alone for long. I have a very bad feeling about this." A note of helplessness crept into his voice. "Im not letting her out of my sight."
Cloud stared after him as he entered the tent. Hes afraid? The unflappable man who never even trembled when faced with hordes of enemies charging him across the battlefield? And whats going on with the daydreaming? He pulls thoughts from the air, continues conversations with Aeris as though he could read her thoughts. Hes acting just like Aeris when she talks to the Planet.
The thought brought him up short, made his blood run cold. No, it couldnt be. I dont even want to think that. He saw the other man moving around in the cramped space, heard Aeriss muffled question and an answering murmur in Sephiroths deep melodic voice. He decided to help break camp with the others. As much as he hated to admit it, he knew Sephiroth would take care of her, regardless of what the others thought.
They trudged through the heavy, calf-deep snow, wrapped in cloaks and coats. Even Sephiroth buttoned his leather trenchcoat up all the way to his neck, though he seemed to be unaffected by the cold otherwise. He walked just ahead of Aeris as though he were strolling through a field of flowers, clearing a path for her so she wouldnt have to struggle so much. However, this was no ordinary stroll; he was heavily on alert, all senses open, eyes scanning the frigid drifts like a bird of prey looking for a mouse. The others cast glances at him throughout the morning. His tension put them all on edge.
Aeris, meanwhile, had resorted to using her staff to help her along. Why am I so tired? I feel drained.
Love, are you all right? His thoughts were soft as a caress.
She paused in her stride. I feel so tired. And I hate this.
He waited, looking over his shoulder at her. I know. Youve been dealing with this considerably well.
You think so? I cant stand always being the weak one.
A playful smile warmed his eyes as he rubbed the cheek shed slapped days ago. I will never make the mistake of thinking youre weak, ever again. He was rewarded with an impish grin from her.
Well, now you know better. She began to move forward again, when both of them froze in place. Some internal alarm went off in their connected consciousnesses, and her eyes widened in terror. The rest of AVALANCHE had stopped and was looking at her curiously. As her face turned as white as her cloak, she whispered, "Shes coming."
Then, before anyone could react, her entire body went rigid in pain. Her head snapped backward as she screamed, then her legs buckled and she fell to the snow, arms covering her head as though to ward off a beating. Sephiroth was upon her, mentally throwing shields around her mind, and he felt the furious assault that Jenova had launched against her.
KILL KILL KILL KILL STUPID CETRA BITCH YOU WILL PAY HE WAS MINE YOU RUINED HIM BITCH I WILL DESTROY YOU AND I WILL ENJOY TEARING YOUR MIND APART WITH MY FINGERS BITCH
The shields set themselves in place. It was a temporary measure; though he was exceptional at keeping things hidden inside his mind, he had never been very good at keeping things out. The girl went limp in his arms, whimpering pitifully. He gathered her to him, the fear he had been suppressing all day now etched plainly on his face. "Im here, love, please stay with me. I will hold her off as long as I can." Already, pain was beginning to creep into his head, unaccustomed as he was to shielding someone else.
Slowly, she began to breathe normally. "I think shes retreated now," she said shakily.
Not finished. Will return. The Planets warning was tempered with soothing music that reminded her of Elmyra stroking her brow when she was a child. She drifted in and out of wakefulness.
The music failed to ease her lovers thoughts, however. What? He pulled her closer. You mean shes going to have to suffer like this again? No!
...Must hurry, then. Bond can help. Permanent.
Sephiroth looked up earnestly at the people surrounding them. "I know what needs to be done to help her, but it means leaving you all behind. I can carry her to Icicle Inn; when were done, we will wait there for you."
The others looked at Cloud for his decision. Tifa had knelt on Aeriss other side. It appeared she was trying to keep from crying as she held her friends hand. Aeris seemed smaller than ever, her normally creamy skin now rivalling the snow in its pale translucence. Her eyes were closed, her breathing still shallow. He imagined he could see her life being sapped away as they waited. He met Sephiroths desperate Mako eyes. "If you can help her, then I will not stop you. II trust you to save her."
Immediately, the General stood with her in his arms, adjusting the red-edged cloak to cover her as much as possible. "I can do it," he said, "Just dont be angry with me when you get there."
Clouds countenance hardened. "What do you mean? What exactly are you planning?"
Vincent stopped him by placing his clawed hand on his friends shoulder. "I will accompany them." He looked the silver-haired man up and down. "I can keep up with him easily."
Sephiroth snorted. "If you can, I will not stop you from coming."
Nanaki stepped forward. "I, too, will follow. My people are designed to cover great distances swiftly."
Cloud looked at the two volunteers, then back up at the silent General. "Fine. Well meet at Icicle Inn as soon as we can get there."
The two men and the red beast nodded, then soundlessly turned and leapt into a run. Those remaining were amazed at the speed with which they moved over the snow, as though it were not even there. Within moments, they had disappeared from sight.
Tifa stood, brushing snow from her cold knees, and huddled next to Cloud for warmth. He put an arm around her shoulders and kissed the top of her head. "Wed better get moving again. At least now we have a trail broken for us."
They tread wearily on.
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic