No Wish To Be Alone Chapter 7
By Chocobo Goddess
Night had fallen by the time he awoke. She was still there, humming peacefully. Her face was turned up to the moon, her eyes closed, smiling faintly. He was achingly reminded of how she had looked that first night in the valley, when he had found her wading in the stream. He stirred, and she looked down at him. "Well, hello."
"Love ," he said, his throat raw as though hed been screaming. "Youyou stopped the pain."
Her gaze softened as she drew one finger down the side of his face. "Did I? Good. You looked so hurt. I used a sleep spell to make you rest. Can you walk?" At his nod, she continued. "We should get into the bedrolls; its starting to get cold out here." She helped him sit up, then stand, putting her arm about his waist to steady him. He did feel weak, now that he thought about it. Together, arms around each other, they moved to the place where their blankets lay. She helped him get comfortable, then, to his surprise, she lay beside him and covered them both with her open sleeping bag. Feeling his questioning glance, she shrugged up at him. "I want to be near you, and I think you need someone to hold onto tonight. And you," she giggled, "Dont get any ideas. I really just want to sleep."
He smiled, for real this time. "My lady, for you, I can be a gentleman in every sense of the word. I merely ask one thing ," He tilted her face up to his, whispering, "One touch of your lips?"
A delicious shiver went down her spine. "Of course, my lord." She leaned over him, her braid falling over one shoulder. He pulled her down to him, meeting her halfway. His hand cupped the back of her neck, fingertips tracing designs under her hair. The other caught her chin, tilting her head to give him better access to her soft lips. His mouth closed over hers, and she arched against him, hands drawing him closer. He rolled so she lay half beneath him, weaving fingers in and out of her hair. Finally, he pulled away, leaving her breathless and wanting.
Taking a steadying breath, he said, "Well, its a good thing I am a gentleman." She giggled again, snuggling into his embrace.
"Hmm if I wasnt a good girl, Id probably let you keep going." They both laughed a bit nervously.
Soon they were both settled. He marveled at how perfectly she fit against him, her body lying comfortably in the niche between his and the ground. Her head was pillowed on his arm, her hands lying flat against his chest. He cradled her in his arms, his free hand at her waist. They stayed like that for a long time, neither one speaking. He was beginning to drift when he heard her small voice, somewhat muffled by the blankets. "What is it, love?"
She was quiet for a moment, but he sensed she was trying to find the words. Turning a serious gaze upon him, she said, "Youre not going to like it, but I need to ask you something."
"All right. Go ahead." He frowned a bit.
"What happened out there today?"
Ah, so that was it. "Its nothing for you to worry about. Its something I have to work out on my own."
"No, its not!" She replied vehemently. "I need to know!"
He sighed. "Now?"
"Very well, then." He sounded annoyed. "I have, of late, been having visions. They torment me when I least expect it, usually when doing my katas." He flinched inwardly at the memory of burning flesh, blood staining his hands. "I think of it as my penance."
"A punishment for the terrible things Ive done." We have not the power to forgive you, General. You must forgive yourself.
"You mean from when you were the head of SOLDIER?"
"No! I have no regrets for that part of my life. What I did then was part of war; if I killed then, it was on the battlefield, or in self-defense. I fought men who were prepared to die, who would kill me if I didnt get them first."
"Then what is eating you up inside like this? What do you have to atone for?"
He realized she knew the answer, but he said it anyway. "For Nibelheim. For the people I killed while under Jenovas spell. For the innocent workers in the ShinRa building, who were unfortunate enough to merely be in my way. For the SOLDIERS I murdered, many of whom knew me before I changed."
His fingers gripped her arms too tightly, but she dared not interrupt him. She bit her lip instead.
"I destroyed a village! Nibelheim burned because of me!" He was shaking. Why was she making him talk about this now? "Dont you understand? I killed everyone! I was insane! And I can never bring them back!" The angry, red, burning despair was coming back. He waited for it to engulf him, as it always did, waited for the faces to appear, laughing, taunting him.
He blinked back tears once more, but instead of hurting, they healed. He felt her arms around him again, felt her stroking his hair and murmuring in his ear just as he had done that first night he ran away with her. He buried his face against her neck and wept.
"I have forgiven you. You didnt know what you were doing. It was Jenova, not you. Please, love, let it go." She put her hands on either side of his face and forced him to look at her. "I dont mean you should forget it ever happened. It did, and no, you cant bring them back. But you need to realize that it wasnt you, it wasnt your mind, it was Jenova, using your body to do her dirty work. She needed a scapegoat. You were perfect for her. Youre the strongest man alive, the most powerful magic-user, and you have her cells running throughout your body. The only chink in your flawless armor was your need to be accepted, loved by someone or something.
"I think she sensed that. When you got close enough to her, she promised you everything, didnt she? And you were ready to grasp anything that might get you what you needed.
"But its a very human failing, to desire acceptance. It makes us all do things we normally wouldnt do. I gave in to that failing, myself, when I tried to pretend that I couldnt hear the Planet calling me when I was a child. Everyone whispered about me behind their hands. She hears voices, theyd say, and shake their heads sadly. It hurt so much, knowing what I knew, and realizing how cruel people can be without thinking."
His tears had slowed, and he gaped at her, astonished. She had suffered the way he had? How could people be so blind? She was so kind, sweet, loving, openand they still had treated her like that?
And she still wanted to save them all?
He needed to think about this.
"Please, love, you need to let this go," she repeated. "For my sake." She dropped her voice to a whisper. "For your sake."
"How did you know all that?" He asked wonderingly. "No one knows my story of that day."
"I dreamed it when it happened, five years ago." His arms tightened around her. "Thats why I could never hate you. I remember the look on your face when you began reading the books in that library. I wanted to hold you then, especially when you found out about Dr. Hojos plans for you. I was seventeen; I thought Id only had a nightmare, and you had just been on television when it happened, so I tried to pretend it was all part of my subconscious making things up. But then I heard the news reports that youd died, and suddenly, I knew. The Planet confirmed it for me. I knew the truth about you. I always have. I know how heartsick you were."
His eyes locked with hers. "You knew, even when you went to the City to die."
A slight nod, then, "Thats why I went." She huddled closer. "Please, love, you need to forgive yourself. Until then, Jenova will always have a piece of your heart, whether you want her to or not."
"Gods, woman, you amaze me. How did you do that?"
"Get me to go from relaxed, to angry, to penitent, to shocked, to curious, and finally to thoughtful, all in the space of a few minutes."
She sighed again, shifting against him to get comfortable. "Its a gift."
He closed his eyes, trying not to think of what her movement was doing to him. "Ahem then consider this a gift in return." Cupping her face once more, he placed a tender kiss on her forehead. "Now go to sleep."
"Hmmm goodnight, love. Think about what I said."
"I will." He pulled the blanket over her head as a chilly breeze flew through the camp.
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic