Catching Glimpses Chapter 10

Crystal Snowflakes

By Kiyara

"He's my brother and he was flirting with me!"-Kiyara Maiden Shinra


Dinah walked slowly along the icy path. She had just finished getting the tour of the rocket with Cid, and was on her way back to the house. After two days in the town, she was bored stiff. Especially after the constant action of her life and the past three days or so, this inaction was intolerable.

Reno had stayed behind to check out more of the rocket, so at least she’d have him out of her hair for a little while. Reno had proved to be as bored as she was, and a bored Reno equals not much fun for Dinah. Cid had grumbled about Reno staying, but had displayed a grudging admiration for Reno’s intelligence and interest in Cid and Shera’s brainchild. Dinah raised the collar of her jacket and hunched her shoulders against the biting wind.

Suddenly, she heard childish giggling, and her face unconsciously creased into a smile. Kat and Josh had been the only bright spot in the last two days. Dinah followed the sound to an area right next to the house. When someone had shoveled the path to the rocket, they had piled it all on either side of the trail. Dinah used the resulting snowbank to her advantage, peering over the top of it to find Shera and the twins cavorting and playing in the snow.

An idea struck her, and Dinah grinned wider. She scooped up a handful of snow in her borrowed gloves and molded and packed it into a perfect snowball. She aimed, then threw. The snowball flew straight and true, and exploded in a shower of icy crystals in the middle of Shera's back. Shera and the twins spun to find Dinah grinning and waving at them.

"SNOWBALL FIGHT!" Joshua roared. The three charged up the snowbank, wielding snowballs and yelling fierce war cries. All three threw, but Katania's snowball was the only one that met its target. It struck Dinah in the back of the head as she turned to flee.

She flopped down comically. "Argh! Ya got me!" she moaned. Kat giggled and pounced on her. The two rolled around in the snow, Dinah pretending to fight back while the little girl pushed snow in her face. Then Kat stuffed a handful of snow down the collar of Dinah's jacket.

Dinah yelped and leapt up, dancing around and grabbing at her back. "It's going down my back! Ooh, I'm gonna get you for that one!"

She made a powdery snowball and tossed it at Kat, who dodged it easily. Kat stuck her little pink tongue out. "Nyah, nyah!"

It became a free-for-all from there. Shera, Josh, Kat, and Dinah picked up handfuls of snow and flung them at each other, laughing. This went on for several minutes, until Shera happened to glance down the path toward the rocket.

She grinned mischievously as she hissed, "Stop! Truce!" Everyone froze where they were. Josh and Kat were in the process of wrestling, and Dinah was holding a snowball with her arm cocked back to throw.

"Everybody, c'mere!" Shera said quietly.

They all huddled in together, and their whispered conversation was punctuated by giggles. They broke apart swiftly, laughing quietly.

Shera and Kat dashed across the path to station themselves behind a snowbank, while Dinah and Josh did the same on the other side. They made snowballs, Dinah taking care to make sure hers was a rock hard ice-ball, and then settled in to wait. Then didn't have to wait for very long.

Reno came into sight, walking slowly down the path with his hands jammed deep into his pockets.

"Ready?" Dinah whispered. Grinning, her little cohort nodded. Reno unwittingly walked closer and closer to the trap set for him.

"Aim," Dinah hissed. She and Josh cocked their arms back. Reno walked the last few critical steps, and he was right in between the two teams.

"FIRE!" Dinah yelled, popping up over the snowbank and firing off her ice-ball; Joshua rising and firing beside her. Shera and Kat appeared on the opposite side, and did the same. The air was suddenly full of flying snowballs.

Reno yelped as Dinah's ice-ball hit him square in the back with a thud, and just as he turned around, Josh's snowball struck him in the chest. Then Shera's snowball hit him in the back of the head. Reno spun again.

"What the f-" he began to say, then Kat's snowball exploded in his face. Reno frantically cleared off his face, and glared around at the laughing conspirators.

Out of the blue, he grinned ruefully. "Man, you guys got me good!" He chuckled with them. Suddenly, he scooped up some snow and made it into a snowball, then let it fly. It struck Dinah hard and fast on the shoulder. She grinned and hopped up on top of the snowbank to get a better shot at him. Then she happened to glance down the path.

Dinah flung herself off of the snowbank. "Hey, temporary truce!" she yelled.

Reno paused in the act of throwing a snowball. "Why?" he asked, the snow chunks caught in his fiery hair glistening in the sunlight.

Dinah smiled roguishly. "Cid's coming."

The twins hopped up and down. "Let's get Daddy!" Joshua said, laughing.

Dinah and Josh ducked back behind their snowbank, while Reno dove behind the opposite one with Shera and Kat.

Dinah swiftly made two large snowballs.

"Why're you makin' two?" Josh asked curiously.

Dinah winked at him. "You'll see."

Just then, Cid strode into sight, moving along fairly quickly. He appeared to be planning something because he was mumbling to himself and was waving his hands around in the frigid air in front of him. He sauntered right between the two snowbanks.

"FIRE!" yelled Dinah for the second time that day. Everyone popped up and let loose snowballs.

Cid tried to duck, but didn't succeed. "What the hell?!"

Josh and Katania shrieked with laughter. "Daddy said a naughty word!"

Cid grinned sheepishly. "Whoops."

Dinah shifted her leftover snowball to her throwing hand and let it fly in a long, high arc over the icy path and Cid's head. She waited, and was rewarded by a yell from Reno. She giggled, then called out innocently, "Oops! It slipped!"

A muffled curse from Reno was her only answer. They all continued to barrage Cid, but he had figured out what was going on, and was laughing and returning some of the snowballs. Josh and Kat ran out from behind their respective snowbanks and jumped on Cid, wrestling him to the ground.

Shera laughed. "Y'know, that looks like fun! I think I'll join them!" So saying, she came out from behind her snowbank and joined the cloud of snow that was her husband and children. They were all laughing and shouting as Shera tickled them unmercifully.

Dinah watched for a few moments, suddenly feeling alone and depressed. They look so happy together… Then an ice-ball struck her in the back of the head. She turned to glare, and found Reno grinning mischievously at her. Okay, maybe not so alone… Dinah thought wryly. She growled something inarticulate, then she and Reno launched into a particularly vicious and fierce snowball fight that lasted for several minutes.

It ended when Reno flopped down in the snow and announced wearily, "I give up."

"That's actually not such a bad idea," Dinah agreed, throwing one last snowball at his still form and sitting down. She smiled and nodded to the still-tussling Highwinds. "Think they'd notice if we went inside?"

Reno shook his head. "Naw."

Dinah cupped her hands to her mouth, and got ready to shout down the path, then dropped her hands. "They stopped."

Reno laughed. "It's amazing!" The four Highwinds were all exhaustedly spread out along the trail.

Dinah turned to speak to Reno, then found that he was staring at her. "What?" she asked.

"We were actually civil to each other, and for an extended period of time, no less!"

Dinah thought for a moment. "Heey, you're right! I'll just have to do something about that, bastard!" She shoved him further into the deep snowdrift, and stuffed a handful of snow into his face.

"Damn it, bitch!" Reno yelled, digging himself out of the snow and wiping his face off.

Dinah fell over laughing when he stood up. "You look like a giant snowman!"

Reno looked down at himself and grinned. "I think I really have to go inside now. But so do you!" So saying, he pushed her into the nearest snowbank. Then he waited for her to stand up angrily, sputtering with indignation. Instead was laughing.

"I guess I do. I should have expected that," Dinah said ruefully, getting up and dusting herself off as best she could.

Reno cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted down the path, "Hey, we're going inside now!"

Cid and Shera nodded wearily while the twins picked themselves up and bounded down the path energetically. "Hey, us too!"

Dinah looked to Shera, and the other woman's hand went up in the air, waving them on. "Go ahead, guys."

"C'mon, Dinah!" Joshua said, latching onto her hand.

Reno felt someone grab his hand, and heard Dinah's giggle. "Don't look now, Lynley, but I think you've got yourself a new friend," she said.

Reno looked down to find Kat's brown eyes looking up at him; her childish, round face turned upward as if to catch the rays of the sun. Suddenly, in his mind, he saw a pair of wider, intelligent green eyes replace the almond shaped brown ones. Her straight black hair became shorter, curly ringlets, red as molten sunlight. His brain changed the shape of the face to a slightly longer, thinner one. Aimee…

Reno shook his head furiously, and the image faded away to be replaced by Katania's puzzled face. He felt a sense of déjà vu as he hesitated, then smiled slightly and made a funny face. "Boo!" This caused Kat to burst into gales of laughter.

"I like you, Mista Reno!" she giggled.

"Why thank you, Mistress Katania," he replied gravely, hoisting her up so that she sat on his shoulders. Reno walked away toward the house, the little girl chattering away happily.

Dinah stared after him for a moment. Where did he learn to be so good with kids? She shrugged and followed, with Joshua in tow. She glanced behind herself one more time, and smiled at the sight that met her eyes.

Cid had started to get up and follow, his eyes on the retreating backs of Reno and his daughter, when Shera put a hand on his arm. She said something that sounded like, "They'll be fine, Cid." She began to get up herself, when Cid pulled her back down, laughing. Shera fell on top of him with a squeal and a giggle.

Dinah turned away at that point to give them privacy. But Joshua had no such qualms. He giggled. "Mommy and Daddy are kissing!"

Dinah smiled at his amusement. You'll understand some day… They walked off toward the house together, Josh talking excitedly.

* * * * * *

Later, everyone was back in the house. The twins had both taken a liking to Reno and had dragged him upstairs, saying something about an "invenshun." Cid was at the crude airstrip, supervising the repairs on the Highwind. The good natured baby, Raven, who had been staying at a neighbor's house while the Great Snow War went on, was sitting in a high chair in the kitchen, giggling and eating Cheerios.

Dinah was in the same room as Raven, curled up in a chair and fighting with her tangled golden locks. They cascaded all the way down her back, almost to her waist, and had gotten hopelessly snarled during the snowball fight. She wrenched her borrowed brush through again and again, tears of pain springing to her eyes.

Shera paused on her way to stop Raven from throwing Cheerios to watch the battle. "Do you need some help with that?" she offered.

Dinah looked up gratefully. "Would you?"

Shera stepped up and took the proffered hairbrush. "Be glad to." She began brushing through Dinah's hair with long, gentle tugs.

"Your hair is so soft!" she exclaimed as she worked.

Dinah smiled. "Thank you."

A crash and loud laughter from upstairs echoed through the house. "I'll be right back," Shera said, putting down the brush and going to the foot of the stairs. "Is everything alright up there?" she called up the stairs.

"Everything's fine, Mommy!" Joshua and Kat answered, giggling. Reno's voice shouted an affirmation.

Shera returned to Dinah, smiling as she heard another bout of laughter.

"Shera, I'm curious. How come Joshua and Katania look nothing like you and Cid?" Dinah asked curiously.

"That's simple. Cid found them in the ruins of Midgar. We tried, but couldn’t find anyone who knew them, so we adopted them. All we know is that someone from their family was from Wutai, which is pretty obvious when you look at them," Shera answered.

"And Raven?" Dinah asked as Shera began to brush her hair again.

Shera smiled. "She's ours. Four months old."

Dinah closed her eyes and let her mind wander as Shera's gentle hands pulled the knots out of her hair. God, this feels good. I haven't had anyone besides me do my hair in years. Not since… not since…

The memory struck suddenly, rising from the back of her mind; feeling like it was smashing into the front of her skull. Dinah was vaguely aware of crying out, then everything went black.

* * * * * *

A woman's voice rang out, full of laughter. "Kiyara Maiden Shinra! Get back here, young lady!"

Dinah, not purposefully, looked down at herself to see that she was just a little girl, barely older than Katania. What the… Dinah found that she couldn't control her movements, and settled in to watch. She gave a high pitched, childish giggle and ran off down the well lit, expensive looking hallway.

On the way, she paused to look at herself in a mirror. Good thing I was a conceited child… Dinah mused. And she knew that it was herself as a child. The mirror confirmed it. She was wearing a well-made ice blue dress, and had wild looking blonde hair that was sticking up all over the place and looked snarled. The eyes staring back at her were gray-blue, and despite the passage of some twenty years, the face was unmistakably a young Dinah.

A boy that looked to be about ten years old stood ran up behind her. He looked nothing like Dinah, with his chocolatey brown hair, and looked to be also dressed up. "Why are girls so dumb?" he asked, rolling his brown eyes.

Dinah reached out and hit him on the shoulder, her eyes flashing angrily. "Take that back, Azrael Shinra!"

He smiled smugly at her, unfazed by the smack, and crossed his arms over his chest. "No."

The woman's voice rang out again. "Kiyara! Kiy!"

"Uh oh. Gotta run!" So saying, Dinah stomped on his foot and ran off again, leaving him hopping up and down. She turned around for a moment, giggling as she watched him jump. While she was looking over her shoulder, she wasn't watching where she was going. "Oof!" She ran straight into her pursuer's arms.

"Ha ha! Gotcha!" the woman said triumphantly. Dinah's young brain tagged her as 'Mommy.'

Dinah wriggled and kicked and struggled. She fought and shook all over the place, but she managed to catch several glimpses of the woman. 'Mommy' was tall and slim, much like Dinah herself, with long blonde hair and brown eyes. She was wearing a long, pale green gown, and the face looking down at Dinah looked like a cross between Dinah's and the little boy's. Obviously the children hadn't gotten much in the way of looks from their father.

"Mommy!" the little girl whined.

"We have to brush your hair, Kiy. Daddy's having a work party here later, and you want to look pretty for the guests, right?"

The little girl set her face stubbornly, crossed her arms, and shook her head. "No, I don't wanna look pretty! And why does Daddy always have work parties?"

The woman smiled. "Your daddy always has balls because it's the kind thing to do for all of the nice people who work for him."

The little girl pondered this. "But the people who work for him aren't nice! The red lady that pats me on the head and tells me I look pretty always looks like she's pretending to have a good time, and so do Fessor Mojo and Mister Hi…Mister Hi-digger. Mister Eeve is the only nice one."

"Kiyara! That's not a nice thing to say!" Her mother was reprimanding her, but sounded faintly amused. "And their names are Miss Scarlet, Professor Hojo, General Heidegger, and Mister Reeve. Now, enough stalling!" She produced a hairbrush and began brushing Dinah's hair as the little girl squirmed.

* * * * * *

Dinah awoke to find herself sitting on the kitchen floor, propped up against her chair, with Shera looking down on her anxiously.

"Dinah? Are you alright?"

The words, spoken softly, echoed around and around in her head. Dinah felt the way she did when she woke up in the morning with a hangover.

She managed to smile in satisfaction, while wincing and holding her aching head. "I'm more than alright, Shera. That was a memory! I know my name!"

Shera had heard Dinah's whole story over the last two days, so she understood the reference.

"That's great, Dinah!" Shera exclaimed. "What is it?" She hugged Dinah as the blonde woman climbed to her feet shakily.

"Kiyara Maiden Shinra," Dinah replied. There's something familiar about that name, and something I know I should remember from my memory… But her normally razor sharp mind was dulled from her blinding headache. She looked up to find Shera staring at her, open-mouthed.

"What?" Dinah asked, massaging her head.

"Shinra!" Shera answered.

Dinah stared blankly for a moment. Then realization struck her. She nearly fell out of her chair. "Holy shit!"

Shera nodded. "My thoughts exactly."

Dinah's eyes went wide as she realized the full extent of the name. Her mouth opened and closed, but no sound came out.

Shera snapped her fingers. "You must be one of the kids that they said died twenty years ago!"

"What?" Dinah asked, her voice squeaking.

"It happened when I was about…twelve I'd say," Shera answered. "We were told that President Shinra's wife and two young children were kidnapped, tortured, and eventually killed by the Wutaiin government. In fact, that's one of the main reasons the Wutai-Shinra War took place seven years later. President Shinra eventually remarried and his new wife had Rufus, who later became the Shinra president. What really happened?"

"I don't know! All I remember is that memory, then being in Hojo's lab!"

Shera looked bewildered. "They had horrible tapes of the torture and everything."

Dinah shook her head. "It's obviously not true, since I'm alive. You said children. What about the others?"

"A ten-year-old boy, named Azrael. After the whole thing was over, Azrael and Kiyara became two of the most used children's names in the world."

Dinah gasped as she remembered. "Oh God."

"What is it?" Shera asked.

"Azrael was in my memory!"

Shera blinked. "Well, that's good. But why is that a bad thing?"

"Azrael as in Azrael Maiden!"

That got Shera's attention. "Are you sure?"

"It looked just like him! And did you ever see pictures of President Shinra's first wife, the one that 'died'?"

Shera thought back in her mind. "I did. And…oh. You're right! She looks just like you and Azrael! I never even thought of it!"

"So this mean…this means…" Dinah trailed off.

"That Azrael is your brother," Shera finished.

Dinah smiled weakly. "I knew there was something familiar about him from the moment I met him!" Then she stopped and turned a sickly shade of green. "He's my brother, and he was flirting with me!"

All that she had learned about her family all in a rush, her earlier nausea from her headache, and that last thought all combined to push her over the edge of the precipice of nausea that she had been teetering upon ever since her headache. Dinah dashed for the bathroom, hand clapped over her mouth.


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