Rose of Mideel Chapter 6
Doubt, Mistrust, and Love
By Chocobo Goddess
YOU MAY WANT TO WAKE UP, SEPHIROTH.
Leave me alone. Im comfortable. He breathed in the scent of her hair. Heavenly.
I KNOW, BUT CLOUD IS NOT HAPPY.
He curled closer to her. So what? He never is.
Exasperation. THE ONLY REASON HE HASNT ATTACKED YOU YET IS BECAUSE HE KNOWS HED HIT AERITH.
Sephiroth opened one eye to see AVALANCHE standing very close to the bed, Cloud at the forefront. The blonds fists were clenched, his face red in outrage.
Sephiroth let his gaze wander from face to face, gauging the others reactions. Strange, Vincent Valentine and the girl ninja seemed to be unsurprised at finding him in bedon bed, he corrected himself innocentlywith Aerith. Tifa Lockheart seemed to be torn between looking at him and keeping an eye on Cloud. Barrett Wallace and Cid Highwind were positioned to attack if he made any false moves, and the firecat Nanaki had put two paws up on the footboard, regarding him with head cocked to the side.
So, Sephiroth began pleasantly, Good morning, everyone.
Let her go. Clouds voice was a whisper, he was so angry.
Cloud, Vincent began, but his leader cut him off with a gesture.
Let her go. He never broke eye contact with Sephiroth. Now, or so help me, Ill,
Youll what? Keep in mind, anything you do to me will probably harm her, too.
Aerith stirred, and suddenly, every eye was on her. Taking advantage of the distraction, Vincent and Yuffie moved to flank Cloud.
Aerith sat up slowly, shaking her head. Goodness, one would imagine you never thought youd see me again, she joked lightly, and the tension poured away. Tifa threw her arms around Aerith, crying. The startled girl smiled as she returned the embrace. Its okay, Teef, Im all right now.
Sephiroth found himself thanking her mentally for redirecting the attention. He quietly got up and went out to the balcony as her friends surrounded her, pelting her with questions. He knew she would be safe with them for a few minutes. He stood by the rail, letting the wind catch at his hair. A sound behind him drew his attention, and he turned.
Vincent was closing the door behind him. He glanced over his shoulder at the silver-haired man. We need to discuss a few things about you.
Sephiroth crossed his arms and leaned against the rail. What kind of things?
Things like what happened last night. What I saw between you and Aerith.
He started, shaken for once. Immediately, he tensed, expecting an attack of some kind. His eyes narrowed, the slit pupils wide and alert. And what did you see, exactly?
Dont play games with me, scoffed Vincent, I was in the room last night. He smiled at Sephiroths expression. I had planned to leave, but you two didnt give me much of a chance to without interrupting. So I stayed. Was that a blush on the other mans face? Vincent couldnt be sure, for Sephiroth turned away angrily.
A few moments passed in silence as the information sank in. Finally, Sephiroth said quietly, with an ache in his voice, How much did you hear?
Vincent felt a twinge of guilt, suddenly ashamed that he had intruded on a private moment. Even if it was Sephiroths private moment, it had been Aeriths, too. He looked down at the grille beneath his feet. Everything. He felt neon green eyes boring into him, and brought his own red ones up to meet them. I heard it all. About how Aerith cant hear the Planet, and you can. How she trusts you. How youthough I still find this hard to believeseem to care for her. I saw you kiss her, Sephiroth, and I saw her kiss you back. He took a deep breath, tearing his gaze away again to look out at the passing clouds.
I assume youve told Strife already. It was a statement, not a question.
No, I havent. I wanted to talk to you first. Vincent smiled faintly at the other mans surprise. Why did you call me?
Startled, Sephiroth responded with the truth. You were the only person I knew of who would believe me.
Vincent grinned darkly. Good thing for you that I did.
No, Sephiroth murmured, Good thing for Aerith.
Vincents grin slipped away. You said something about being her bodyguard. I wondered how far you planned on taking that responsibility.
Sephiroth turned back, green eyes flaring in defiance. As far as is necessary. Im here to make sure she lives. I was the one who killed her, so my punishment is to ensure her safety this time around.
Is that all?
I dont know what you mean, Valentine. He walked to the far side of the balcony, hands clenching and unclenching.
Of course you do. Yuffie pointed it out to me last night. You seem to take this very seriously; almost too seriously for someone whos merely doing penance. You seem to enjoy watching over her.
Sephiroth looked angrily over his shoulder. Why shouldnt I? Shes beautiful, intelligent, kind she was the one who agreed first to the idea. He sighed. I didnt think I should have come back. The Cetra didnt think so, either. This whole thing is the will of the Planet. I should, by rights, still be in Hell. He thought about what the Planet had said, about his chains being of his own making.
Do you really believe that, Sephiroth? It was a simple question, but it made him turn to look at Vincent.
Iyesnowhy does it matter? He finished in irritation. I am here now, and Aerith is my charge. I promised the Planet and the Cetra that I would take care of her, and so I will. Thats all there is to it.
Vincent smiled, for real this time. Its that cut-and-dried, is it?
You make it sound like it should be complicated. Its not, Valentine.
What about your feelings for her?
Vincents goading found its mark. Sephiroth whirled and crossed the balcony to stand toe-to-toe with him. What about them? Since when is it your business?
So you dont deny that you love her.
I cant deny what I dont know for sure. Why, are you going to tell me to stay away from her, the way Strife does every time he sees me? Because I wont. I need to be near her.
Then you do love her.
Dammit, Valentine, thats not what I mean! I need to be near her, he repeated, thoughtfully, as though he had just noticed what hed said. I can feel it. Ihave to be close by her.
The dark mans brows drew together. You mean, like someone is telling you that?
No, Silver hair rippled as he shook his head. Like its something ingrained. I cant ignore it. Even out here, I can feel her in the next room. Shes worried about you being here with me, but glad youre not Cloud. He chuckled ruefully. Im glad, too.
I would be interested in learning more about this, but now is not the time. As far as your relationship with Aerith is concerned, Yuffie and I will say nothing. I will not protect you, however, I will not volunteer any information. You should talk with her about the Planet, though. That may be important for the others to know. Vincent drew his cloak around him tighter. It is too cold out here. I suggest we go back inside.
You go. I want to think about some things. Ill be in later. Sephiroth leaned back against the wall, arms crossed over his chest, and turned his head away to signal the end of the conversation. Vincent nodded, knowing the other man was aware of the gesture, even if he didnt respond. He quietly opened the door and went back into the noisy warmth of Aeriths room.
Sephiroth waited for the door to close, then let out the breath he had been holding in. The voice of the Planet rose inside his mind.
YOU ARE DIFFERENT NOW. DIFFERENT THAN YOU WERE BEFORE.
Who asked you? And Im not. I swear.
SAY WHAT YOU WANT. I REMEMBER. A laugh, like beams of soft light, accompanied the thought. IS WHY WE CHOSE YOU.
Why do I feel the need to be around Aerith? Is it part of my role as her bodyguard, or is it the feelings Valentine was talking about?
He got the impression it knew exactly what he was asking, but he answered anyway. He asked if I was in love with her.
The Planet laughed outright.
Im glad you seem to find this funny, he scowled, but I dont.
SORRY. IS JUST VERY STRANGE TO HEAR THAT THOUGHT FROM YOU.
Come on, what is it? Is it this new body you made for me? Is there something in me that drives me to stay within earshot of her? Even now, I dont want to be out here. I want to be in there, beside her. But her friends hate me. And they have good reason.
YES, AND IT DOESNT MAKE YOU FEEL ANY BETTER TO KNOW THAT. When Sephiroth shook his head, it went on. I DID NOT ARRANGE FOR YOU TO BE COMPELLED TO DO ANYTHING. YOUR FEELINGS, YOUR DESIRES, ARE YOUR OWN.
Then what does that mean?
A sigh. FOR ONE SO ILLUSTRIOUS, YOU CAN BE VERY DENSE, SEPHIROTH. YOU LOVE HER.
You are sure? He turned the thought over and around in his mind, examining it like a child with a sparkling gem. He, in love?
The Planet sounded indignant as it said, I SHOULD KNOW. CAN HEAR BOTH OF YOU CLEARLY. SILLY HUMANS.
Silly human and silly Cetra, you mean.
A PITY I COULD NOT SPEAK WITH YOU BEFORE, it sent warmly, YOU ARE FUNNY.
Glad Im a source of endless amusment, he sent wryly back. He took one more deep breath, letting it out slowly and deliberately. I suppose I should go back in and join them.
WILL BE WITH YOU. AND HER. TAKE CARE CLOUD IS STILL UNSURE OF YOU, BUT WILL NOT HARM YOU AS LONG AS YOU TREAD CAREFULLY.
A cold smile crossed his handsome features. Have no fear, Planet, he thought, half to himself, I will. He should just watch where he treads, himself. Or I will have to show him just how protective I can be, too.
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