A Slightly Happier Reunion
Nanaki's Note: This story was somewhat inspired by Odessa's "Final Fantasy VII: Twisted" stories. But it is not necessarily "twisted", because this story could be true without any twist on the plotline. Anyway, I never believed that Tseng was dead. Even when Elena was ranting to Cloud about how he "did her boss in like that," I couldn't believe that he had died. My brain shouted, "No way! Tseng is too tough! You don't get to be the leader of the Turks without being tough. I'm sure he's just missing in action somewhere." So I took that idea and ran with it. The result is below.
Tseng cursed as the rock he had thrown totally missed the mark. He cursed even louder when the rock bounced off the tree trunk and hit him on the head, causing him to fall to the ground. The choice piece of fruit he had been staring at seemed to gloat. Tseng winced as he stood back up, fresh blood seeping into his wound.
His professional business tux had long since disentegrated into one big bandage which haphazardly covered the huge gash Sephiroth had given him. Tseng grimaced as he pressed the fabric up against the wound, trying to staunch the blood flow. Even for a wound as severe as this, it was healing slowly. But then, the Masamune was no ordinary sword. Tseng wasn't sure if he would survive long enough for anyone to discover that he had lived past the destruction of the Temple of the Ancients. Sephiroth had smashed his PHS in the same stroke that had nearly killed him.
But he gathered hope from the fact that Tifa Lockhart had also suffered a similar injury when she was younger, and had survived to be in perfect health today. At least, the official reports of the Nibelheim incident indicated that. But then, a member of SOLDIER and a Jenova receptive trooper had been there to help her.
But there was no one to help him. Heidegger had ordered that Tseng was to finish the job alone, and the other Turks had obeyed to the letter. So he had been left to drag himself back up to the entrance room, having not finished the job, only to have to surrender the Keystone to that lousy failed Sephiroth clone. Then Aerith had just left him there to rot, to die.
When the temple started collapsing, they had obviously assumed that he had chased after them, got lost, and been crushed inside. As if he would just surrender and submit to fate. He had never been one to do that. He had thrown himself outside, tumbling down the stairs, leaving a trail of blood comparable to when Sephiroth and Jenova had murdered all those guards in the Shin-Ra building. Since he didn't want to see Sephiroth or Cloud in the state he had been in, he dragged himself into the jungle, to watch the results.
Sure enough, Cloud, Aerith, and Red XIII had come running out of the temple at the last second, while Reeve's stupid cat body stayed inside. Reeve had been so arrogant thinking that the odd robot would allow him to join up with Avalanche in secret. Half of the Shin-Ra executives had known about it since the stupid toy was built. He had known long before Reeve actually admitted it for the purpose of collecting the Keystone. The temple then collapsed on itself, shrinking until it it fell down into a square shaped crater.
Then, things had gotten confusing. Cloud and Aerith went down into the crater, obviously seeking to collect the black materia. Next, he was none too pleased to see Sephiroth enter the scene, hovering around in that annoying way of his. Sephiroth had said something, although Tseng hadn't been able to hear from his distant vantage point. Then, he too had entered the crater. A few minutes later, he exited and flew off, an arrogant smirk on his face. Tseng had cursed the flying form soundly, but that did nothing to stop Sephiroth from departing with his catch. Tseng had thought that was the worst of it, but then he saw Red XIII staring in amazement, as if the animal couldn't believe what it was seeing. Another copy of Reeve's toy arrived, greeting Red XIII warmly, but he paid no attention. Then he sprang down into the crater, clearly roaring at Cloud.
Tseng hadn't waited to see what happened next. Whether Cloud was acting as Sephiroth or on his own, he was dangerous to anyone around him. Now he squinted up at the clear sky, wondering how many of Cloud's Avalanche sympathizers were still alive. From all reports, there had been eight main players in Cloud's party. The one most likely to still be alive was Vincent Valentine, a former Turk. He hadn't been heard of since before Sephiroth was born, only to show up again now. Second most likely was Cloud himself. A failed clone he might be, but if he managed to retain his free will, then he was still very powerful. The others all had verying degrees of survivability, but he was pretty sure Aerith wouldn't have survived the conflict.
Only a select few knew that, besides the black materia, there was also an appropriate counter, the Holy summoning white materia. Even fewer suspected that Aerith owned it. But Tseng didn't just suspect, he knew. Before he got his first job at Shin-Ra, when they were both just kids in the Midgar slums, he had seen her tuck it into her hair many times. Since Sephiroth had succeeded in obtaining the black materia, that made Aerith his number one enemy.
Tseng shook his head sadly. It was such a waste all the way around. After he had crawled back into the underbrush, he had gone into a feverish period which he remembered little of. All he clearly recalled was waking up after several days had passed, immensely hungry and even more thirsty. He had wandered the island for nearly a month, spending most of his time lost in the jungle, subsiding on native fruits, roots, and whatever streams happened to be flowing through the greenery. He had finally come to the shoreline one day, but had been very disappointed. First off, a giant meteor was hovering in the sky, looking ready to smash the planet at any moment. But he hadn't much cared then, since his survival was pretty much on a day to day basis. He had obviously been on the north side of the island. The water was fairly shallow all the way across, but he didn't think he was strong enough to swim the whole distance. Even if he had been, the nearest town on the opposite shore was Fort Condor, and he seriously doubted the people there would be willing to help him. He knew he couldn't make it to Junon, so he had dejectedly turned back inland.
He had wandered around again for a good period of time, hoping to find the eastern shore, and also hoping that when he arrived, he would be strong enough to swim to Mideel. But he had not yet found the eastern shore, as the jungle canopy was usually too thick to use either the sun or the stars for navigation. Occasionally, he would see a shadow that must have been made by some huge animal passing overhead, but he had never been able to get a clear look. The only good thing was that, on the last occassion when he had bothered to climb above the treetops, it was obvious that Meteor was gone. Well, someone had taken out Sephiroth, but at what cost?
Now he stared at the offending fruit with an angry expression. The way he was going, he wouldn't be strong enough to do anything if he ever arrived anywhere. The wound was still restricting him badly. If by some chance, he was still out here when winter arrived, he would need some new clothes too. His pants were pretty much just ragged strings up to his knees, and even above there, they were full of holes.
He suddenly looked up as he heard the sound of a helicopter passing overhead. He couldn't really see it, but he could follow the shadow it made as it passed. The chances were slim that he would be able to attract it's attention, but he had to try. He quickly turned and hobbled after the shadow as fast as he could.
In a surprisingly short time, he spotted a clearing up ahead. As he got closer, he saw that the helicopter had landed there, and it was definitely of Shin-Ra design. In fact, it looked like his helicopter. Had the Turks finally come back to look for him? Pushing himself to a near-run now, he saw that the helicopter was deserted. Scanning the area quickly, he saw that no one was around. His first impulse was to jump into the helicopter and get the hell off this island. But then, he had a second look and realized where he was.
He was right back at the Temple of the Ancients' crater, where the whole mess had started. He must have gotten completely turned around since that day on the north shore. His brain also told him that this helicopter wouldn't have flown here by itself, and at least one person had to have flown it in. Seeing the crater as the most likely place for anyone to be, he walked over to the entrance. He was taken aback to see the person who stood just inside, with her back to him. She no longer wore perfectly ironed, blue dress pants, and she only wore a white tank top instead of her business tux, but there was no mistaking Elena. Tseng again resisted his first impulse, which was to rush forward and risk toppling them both into the crater. Instead, he waited behind the arch to see what just what she was doing here.
She was holding a small, white flower, native to his ancestral homeland of Wutai. "Tseng, I hope that wherever you are, you can hear me." Smiling, Tseng nodded from behind the archway. "It seems like everyone's forgotten about you. They're all still cheering Cloud, and how he saved the world from Sephiroth and Meteor." She shook her head in disgust. "If it wasn't for Hojo, the Sister Ray could've handled Sephiroth. Or Proud Clad. Or the Weapons. Or even us. It might've taken all of that, but he wasn't the only on who could have defeated Sephiroth." She shook her head again. "No one even remembers that it was Aerith who stopped Meteor. Without Holy, none of us would be here right now. She died almost right after you did. I suppose you know that though. You two are probably swirling through the lifestream together right now." With that, Elena raised the flower, and dropped it into the crater. "Goodbye Tseng." She stood there silently, watching it fall. Tseng finally stepped forward.
He walked up silently, then gently put his hand on her shoulder. Before she could whirl around, he let himself be heard. "Could we get some dinner after this is done? I'm quite literally starving here." Elena turned slowly, as if she couldn't quite believe what she was hearing. She finally turned around, and her jaw dropped. She was obviously struggling to say something, but no sound was coming out. "Speechless Elena?" Tseng smiled.
"How... How are you... Why didn't you contact us?!" She finally blurted out.
"Sephiroth destroyed my PHS. Apparently all of you assumed I was dead, and didn't even bother to search."
"I-I thought Cloud killed you!"
"What? That lousy clone? No way! Did he really defeat Sephiroth?"
"All by himself. But I still think he's a bastard. He is, uh, he was the only one who understood how I felt, or so I thought. But lucky for pretty much everyone involved, I guess, Tifa snapped him up almost right after Aerith died."
Tseng digested that information. He felt a small pain welling up in his stomach, but it wasn't very bad. He had thought that Sephiroth would kill Aerith. This just proved him right. "What about the others on his team?"
"Red XIII is searching everything that remains of Hojo's labs," she shuddered, "desperately hoping that there might be more of his kind trapped there. I don't know. Cloud and Tifa hooked together, like I said, and headed back to Nibelheim. The others pretty much went their separate ways, back to their hometowns."
Tseng shook his head. "Just typical of my luck lately to have missed everything." He looked up, and saw Elena had a tear in her eye. "What?"
"I'm just so glad you're alive! I thought I'd never see you again!" Tseng walked up to her slowly. "What?"
"I'm going to do something I should have done a long time ago. I just wasn't over my infatuation with Aerith." Tseng bent his head down and kissed Elena on the lips. She responded not with the cold indifference she showed others, or with the reserved formality she had always shown him, but with all her heart and soul. As they slowly parted, Tseng's stomach growled, effectively ruining teh moment. "Ow. I wasn't kidding about starving out here."
Elena looked him up and down. "I guess not. You were thin before, and now you're skinny as one of those tree branches." She pointed to where the tattered remains of his shirt were thickest. "What's under there?"
"That's where Sephiroth sliced me up. It hasn't healed yet, and I don't know if it ever will."
"It will. I'll see to that." Elena said with conviction. "Come on. We'd better get you back to Junon." She automatically answered his questioning glance. "Midgar isn't in such good shape anymore." With that, they slowly walked back to the helicopter. Elena wanted to break down crying in happiness, but instead, she just helped him into the rear seat, started up the rotor, and took off back toward Junon as fast as the machine would go. Looking at his wound, she wanted to push the helicopter past it's safety limits, but she told herself that if he had lived with it for two months, he could live a few hours longer. Despite his hunger, Tseng was asleep before they were even halfway there. Elena looked back at him and smiled. If they ever ran into Cloud again, she would have to apologize, although Tseng might have some legitimate complaints. But one thing was certain. As long as she lived, she was never letting Tseng out of her sight again.