No Wish To Be Alone Chapter 20
By Chocobo Goddess
Aeris happily murmured her new name under her breath. The four of them had left Erons office and were strolling back to the inn. She coyly looked up at her husband. "Sephiroth, do you think maybe we could change our names on the hotel registry to Valentine?"
He laughed, the rich sound surprising Vincent, who had never heard it before. "I already did. We stopped there before meeting you." He glanced over at his father. "I hope you did not mind. It was nice to know I had a name. I would never have taken Hojos name by choice."
"Not at all. Im flattered." Vincent looked happy.
"Wasnt there a big story years ago about how you didnt have a last name? And celebrities were copying you, like Tomath the actor and that singer, Rieka?" Aeris asked.
"Hmm, I seem to remember something like that." One corner of Sephiroths mouth quirked upward. "I believe my response was, Hmph, artists."
They fell silent again as they walked, Vincent and Nanaki ahead and Sephiroth and Aeris behind. Their breath made temporary clouds about their heads in the crisp, frigid air, backlit by the globe-shaped streetlamps. The stars had come out in glorious force while they were in Erons office. Several times, the four stopped so Aeris could exclaim about a falling star. Her companions were amused at her childlike joy, knowing that she had never seen the stars before she left Midgar. Here, near the North Pole, they carpeted the sky.
Lost in thought, Vincent stopped without warning. Aeris nearly ran into him, but Sephiroth steadied her.
"Goodness, Vincent," she declared, "A little notice next time?"
"Sorry. I just thought of something. I cant call you Little Sister now, can I? I should be calling you Daughter."
"Oh! Youre right!" Her face lit up. "Then I shall call you Father," she said formally.
Sephiroth spoke up. "Ah, what an interesting family we are. All we need now is for Nanaki to reveal that he is actually related to Aeris somehow."
"Well, now that you mention it...Aeris, if Vincents not your brother any more, Ill take over the job!" Nanaki announced. Aeris knelt and hugged him.
"There you go, Sephiroth. Your new brother-in-law." Vincent studied the cat for a moment. "Though he must take after Gast. He looks nothing like Ifalna."
Aeriss mood changed visibly. Her laughter died away as she stroked Nanakis thick fur. "I keep forgetting that you knew my parents, Vincent," she said sadly. "I should ask you about them someday."
Vincent touched the top of her head with his good hand. "I apologize. I shouldnt have brought it up." He cursed himself for making her sad. It had been good to see his son find happiness, and even better to know that Aeris was the cause of it. Its about time, he thought, Hes had more than his share of pain. Just like his father.
Aeris stood, brushing the snow from her knees. "Anyway, I want to look at Professor Gasts house while were here. Perhaps I can learn a little more about my past by seeing the place where my parents lived."
Sephiroth took her hand. "We can go tomorrow. Right now, I want to go back to the inn and get warm." He smiled softly. "Besides, I want to see what you bought with my money."
His words cheered her. Kissing him, she said, "All right. Maybe the others have arrived by now."
Gods, I sincerely hope not, he replied in thought.
She poked him in the ribs. Hmph. Poor things are probably half-frozen.
He merely smiled mischievously in return.
Nanaki lifted his head, sniffing the wind. "I believe theyre here." They could see the inn now, its yellow light pouring out into the snow. Several figures were silhouetted against the windows.
They entered the inn just in time to hear Cloud exclaim, "WHAT? Married?!"
And so it begins, Aeris heard in her mind, Ah, peace and quiet at last.
Sarcasm doesnt become you, she admonished gently. Besides, you knew it would happen sooner or later.
His reply was to put an arm about her waist and pull her back against him. Maybe they will not attack me if I use you as a shield, he thought dryly. She rolled her eyes.
Cloud spun to face them. "Sephiroth!" He cried, "What the HELL were you thinking?"
Seemingly unconcerned, Sephiroth looked him up and down. The evil smirk came back as he said, "Hello to you, too, Strife. I believe I can safely assume you have heard the good news."
"You could have told us what you were planning, you bastard!" His worried blue eyes focused on Aeriss face. "He didnt hurt you, did he?"
Sephiroth snarled, his cool humor evaporated. "You did not just ask her that, Strife, I know I did not just hear you ask her that."
"How do I know you didnt force her into it?" Cloud ignored Tifa trying to hold him back. His hand went to the hilt of his sword. "You could have manipulated her into it for all we know."
Masamune appeared in Sephiroths grasp. "I warned you about saying things like that, Strife."
Oh, for goodness sake. "BOTH of you, stop it right now!" Aeris cried, stepping between them, arms outstretched. The two men stopped advancing on each other. She glared up at Cloud. "I cant believe this is happening again. I thought you two promised me you wouldnt fight!"
"But, Aeris," Cloud protested, falling silent at her sharp wave. He scowled over her shoulder at Sephiroth, who seemed to enjoy watching his wife yell at the blond man. Aeris caught the gesture and whirled on her husband.
"And you! Dont think youre not in trouble, too!" She poked a finger into his chest. "WE will talk about this later." Looking at each man, she sighed, aggravated. "Now, may I suggest that we all go upstairs, warm up, and eat a nice hot meal? I think it will be easier to talk about it after youve rested. Theres a lot to explain."
Yuffie looked as if she would fall over at any moment. Cid ran a hand over his unshaven face, while Barrett leaned against the counter. Tifa yawned and rested her head on Clouds shoulder. "Come on," she said, "I agree with Aeris. I want a hot bath."
He looked as if he would argue, then seemed to realize how exhausted everyone was. "Fine," he said, meeting Sephiroths hard green eyes evenly. "But I expect to hear an explanation in the morning."
"Youll get it, Cloud." Aeris spoke up before Sephiroth could respond.
Let me at him, he thought, I told him I would never hurt you. He needs to learn
She grabbed his arm. "I want to talk to you upstairs. Now." Before the astonished members of AVALANCHE, Aeris dragged her husband behind her up the stairs. Too surprised to resist, he followed.
Cid threw back his head and laughed. "Oh, shes got him now. That was worth the goddamn price of admission."
"Never thought Id see the day that ol Sephiroth got towed around by a woman," Barrett snorted.
Vincent and Nanaki looked at each other. Hiding his grin with a toothy yawn, Nanaki trotted upstairs to his room. Vincent went after him, pausing to steady the swaying Yuffie. She glanced up thankfully.
"I feel like Im gonna fall asleep on my feet," she said, gripping his arm. Cloud sighed and began to take some gil from his wallet.
"What are you doing?" asked Vincent. Nanaki halted on the stairs, turning.
Cloud motioned irritably. "Im getting rooms for everyone. What does it look like Im doing?"
The desk clerk, glad that no fight had actually broken out, finally piped up, "Oh, General Sephiroth already made arrangements for you." He blinked uncertainly. "You are his wifes friends, arent you?"
They nodded in unison. Cloud peered at him as though he thought the man was joking. "Arrangements?"
"Oh, yes, the day they arrived. He had me reserve some of our nicest rooms. He insisted they have fires burning at all times, since he didnt know when you would be arriving. He also made certain hot food was available, and extra blankets." The clerk smiled brightly. "Oh, and Mrs. Valentine made some purchases for all of you, lets see, whered I put the list?" He looked in a file behind the counter, heedless of the stares they gave him.
Yuffie looked at Vincent. "Mrs...Valentine?" Vincent smiled down at her with an indecipherable gleam in his eye. Her expression shifted from confusion to understanding. "Oooooohhhhhh...right...Heh, Im surprised no one thought of that earlier."
Cloud found his voice again. "What the hell is going on here? I thought Aeris married Sephiroth!" He glared accusingly at Vincent. "Unless you got married, too?"
"No, I certainly did not marry. The mans talking about my son."
"You have a son? Why didnt you tell us?" It still hadnt clicked in Clouds mind yet. "Is he staying here in Icicle Inn, too?"
Vincent laughed darkly. "You could say that." He turned back to Yuffie, who rolled her eyes when Cloud wasnt looking. "Do you need help? I know which rooms have been prepared." He took her hand and led her up the stairs. Nanaki strolled ahead of them, tail waving.
Down in the main room, the remaining AVALANCHE members were still staring at the clerk. He held up a list and a set of keys. "All right! Lets get you all warmed up!"
They filed after him, Cloud shaking his head in wonder. "He got us rooms? Sephiroth got us rooms?"
In their own room, Aeris and Sephiroth were having a silent argument. It was really more Aeris thinking angrily at Sephiroth, who tried to interrupt her both vocally and mentally, and completely unsuccessfully.
The Planet sent a tiny tendril of thought directly to him, too softly for Aeris to notice. She is angry. Do not envy you.
Just as softly, Sephiroth replied with humor, Thank you, my friend. I keep forgetting how angry she can get. She seems so young and childish sometimes, but...
Holds her fury in. Then waits. Temper, temper. A flash of orange, like flame.
He nearly smirked.
Are you listening to me, Sephiroth?! Aeriss sending was tinged with heat.
Of course, Love, he replied, hoping she wouldnt ask him to repeat what shed just said. He had missed most of it. When she continued, he thought to the Planet, She is more upset than I thought.
A slightly concerned twinge of aqua. Perhaps let her finish, then talk with her. The voices took on a chiding tone. Should listen to her.
He finally decided to stay quiet and let her rant wash over him. Taking the opportunity to study her, he saw that she was no longer wearing her old pink dress. He admired the close-fitting black sweater with its wide cowl neck, the slim denim jeans hugging her legs and hips. She wore new materia bracelets, he noted with pleasure. She stood across from him, eyes flashing, arms crossed under her breasts. A faint flush had worked its way into her cheeks, and every muscle in her body was taut. She looked absolutely beautiful.
Too late, he became aware that her mind had fallen silent. A hurt look came to her eyes, and he knew she had discovered that he hadnt been paying attention. She stared at him for a long moment, then turned away to sit on the far side of the bed.
Never mind, she thought, Nothing I say is going to make any difference. It never does where you and Cloud are concerned.
Aeris, please do not say that.
She looked over at him, angry again. Why not? Dammit, Sephiroth, you promised me! You and Cloud both! Her hands clenched in her lap as she fought back tears. As you love me, please, please refrain from killing my friends!
It is only the one friend I have problems with. The others are fine. He climbed over the other side of the bed to sit behind her, putting his arms about her. She leaned back against him.
I know. And I appreciate that. But Cloud is their leader. And he was my protector before you. Aeris reached up to touch her husbands face. "I wish you could see how much this tears me apart," she said softly.
Sephiroth closed his eyes, resting his forehead on hers. "I am sorry, love. He just pushes every one of my buttons. Deliberately." He frowned. "He still thinks I am going to harm you. After all this!" He sounded incredulous.
Aeris smiled a little. "You push his buttons, too. Dont deny it, Ive heard you. Unless you dont think hes sensitive about being called a short, weak, failure."
"That was only because he did not believe that I loved you."
Her expression softened at the distress in his eyes. "He doesnt understand what happened."
"Well, I will have to make him understand." He shifted her in his lap so she faced him. "Maybe I can get the Planet to help."
Will help if able, came a soft thought, threaded with violet. Sephiroth chuckled and sent it his thanks.
Aeris hugged him. "We will get the chance to tell the whole story tomorrow. Just do one favor for me."
"Dont let Clouds words get to you. You need to be the understanding one here, not him. If he seems to insult you, remember that hes doing it to protect me. If you react violently at a few words from him, he wont ever see how you can be gentle with me. However, if you ignore him, or at least dont bait him, perhaps he will come to understand." She twined a lock of his hair about her finger and tugged on it teasingly. "Think you can do that?"
He put his hands on her hips and pulled her up to kiss him. "I will...try."
She sighed. "I suppose thats a more honest answer than, Of course, no problem."
"Can we talk about something else now?" he asked plaintively.
She tried to look stern, but failed. "What would you like to talk about?"
He gazed at her hungrily. "I like the new clothes you bought. Black looks good on you." He ran his hands over her waist and up her back, under her sweater. "Of course, I think it looks better off of you."
"You already thought that earlier. Glad you like it." She pushed his shoulders back down to the bed, leaning over him. At his innocent expression, she giggled dangerously. "Just watch out. I heard you talking to the Planet. Your thoughts arent very private when were communicating mind-to-mind like that."
"You heard me? You knew I was not listening?" He realized hed just admitted to not paying attention to her. "I mean, I...,"
"HA!" cried Aeris, "Caught you!" She pointed at him. "I bet you didnt listen to a single word I thought, did you?"
She crossed her arms and sniffed. "I suppose it was too much to ask that you keep your mind on your loving wife, who was doing all she could to keep you alive, but no. You had to stand there and admire my body."
He grinned up at her. "It is quite distracting."
"Really?" She leaned down to brush her lips over his. "How distracting?"
A low laugh was his only reply as he pulled her down beside him.
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic