Venus Gospel Epilogos

By Princess Artemis

They gathered around the corner table of the Shanghai-Tei, quietly enjoying various beverages. It had taking Cloud nearly two days to travel the distance from Kalm to Rocket Town, riding Boco hard. Red XIII came a half-day later. Seir was long dead by the time they arrived. All four of them, Cid, Shera, Cloud, and Red XIII were lodged in the Shanghai Inn, as Cid’s house was uninhabitable at the moment. Progress was being made cleaning up the mess Cid left in his wake, but it was slow; almost everything needed to be replaced, right down to that lumpy old red-checkered couch. Just now, Cid had finished telling the others about the events surrounding Seir’s death.

Cloud set his empty mug on the table, shaking his head. "That’s a strange tale you just told. I’d have trouble believing it if I hadn’t seen Mr. Fruit Loop deader than a doornail with my own eyes. Did you ever figure out what he was up to?"

Cid shook his head. "Nope. Only thing I can figure is he wanted to make a dragon-thing outta me."

"It fed on all Cid’s bad feelings. Somehow it made them physical," Shera added simply, recalling the strange familiarity of the shadow dragon. Cloud noted silently that she hadn’t called him ‘Captain’.

Cid reached down and stroked Red XIII’s tall mane, looking into his one good eye. Red XIII looked back, accepting the silent thanks in Cid’s blue eyes. Both Cloud and Shera were surprised when Red XIII didn’t rip the pilot’s arm off. Red XIII looked over at both of them in turn then said hesitantly, "It’s something higher…it’s new…I can’t explain, I don’t understand yet." He was still a child; the fiery beast trusted that someday he would have that wisdom.

"Red, you are one of the best damn friends I got. You kept me ‘n Shera saved me. Hell, I don’t deserve what I got," Cid added gruffly to his silent words as he sipped his hot tea.

Red XIII dipped his head in acknowledgment then lapped some water from a small bowl the bartender had lent him. The animal had wanted a Cosmo Candle, but the bartender botched it, so he settled for water. "So, what are you two going to do now?"

Cid paused a moment to exhale some smoke before answering. "Go on as we did before," he answered matter-of-factly. He turned his head toward Shera and his entire demeanor changed. He still held himself as he always did, in that slightly cocky way, but without the rough edges. Something in his face had changed dramatically, and neither Cloud nor Red XIII could place just what. Whatever it was had washed ten years straight off. "We’ve got a whole hell of a lot of repair work ta do."

Cloud shrugged, then became very quiet. It seemed to him that they should follow a different path, if they loved each other. However, the path he tread with Tifa was crooked and full of confusion, although he would never dare admit it. He lost trust, couldn’t trust, didn’t want to trust…feared trust… Cid was alive because he believed Shera, took her at her word. Cloud would not allow himself to know that freedom that came from having faith in the ones he claimed to love, the freedom to live. He would not because he would not let go of his soul. Cloud held his hands tight around, thinking he protected himself, not knowing he killed instead.

Shera caught the look in Cloud’s bright eyes and sighed. She took Cid’s hand and said to Cloud, "Cid didn’t exactly tell the whole story; he told you the events, but not his heart, or mine. Let me tell you something about the Venus Gospel and the dragon who wields it…"


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