Evolution of Innocence Chapter 11
By Janet Monstwillo
Tifas martial arts training had long insisted on her body awakening at the break of dawn. No matter how hard she attempted to shake this habit off, she found herself always losing her extra couple hours of sleep to an ingrained memory. (Damn training.)
She walked down to the lobby of the Junon inn, wondering if there was any chance in hell that a continental breakfast would be set out so early. (I want a bagel. With cream cheese. And then some donuts and coffee. If there are any hard-boiled eggs, Im gonna eat a bunch. So there, body!) She suppressed a giggle at her bizarre thoughts.
I suppose if there was any person who would giggle at this ungodly hour, it would be you, Tifa.
Startled, she jumped around and met the amused glance of Vincent. He was holding a glass of some sort of red liquid and had made himself comfortable on the loveseat, facing a television. The screen was black, though. Raising an eyebrow, he patted the seat cushion next to him.
Wont you? Nothings on, anyway.
Tifa attempted to suppress all feelings of surprise, both at the fact that Vincent was just sitting on a couch in a hotel lobby, and also that he was patting a couch cushion and inviting her to sit down. She gingerly sat down at the opposite end, still leaving hardly any room between them. The word loveseat is not a misnomer.
You seem suddenly quiet. I havent bothered you, have I? He sipped his red beverage thoughtfully. Would you like a drink or something?
What do you have there? she asked cautiously.
Blood. Then suddenly, a smile cracked his somber features. No. I just wanted to see your reaction.
Tifa smiled. I didnt believe you!
Cranberry juice and vodka, which is probably more surprising to you. He shrugged. Throwback to my Turk days, I suppose. The bars about to close though, so if you want anything...
Nah. Id just complain about the skill of their bartending.
I suppose you would. You were probably the best Midgar had ever seen.
Hmm? She gave him an inquisitive glance.
He shifted his weight and became seemingly closer to her. I just pick up the perfectionist vibes in you. I doubt you can help it. Youre awake because wake up at dawn has been engraved on the inside of your skull.
He stared at her in wonderment, then actually let a little laugh escape from his lips.
So that is your reaction.
You were testing me? Vincent was surprised.
Youre not the only one who can be a silent observer on human nature. Tifa paused. No, thats wrong. No one can sit back and just be an observer. No matter how hard they try.
You really think so?
She stood up. You can sit here and watch life through a little window you allow yourself. Thats one choice. Theres another one, though. Participating in life instead of letting it stream by. Her eyes were off on some introspective tangent, but eventually returned to Vincent. Anyway, the discipline smushed into my brain tells me I need to find that granola bar I stashed in my backpack. Just in case I might faint before breakfast without it. See you later, Vincent.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Daphne sat in her room that morning with a feeling of dread that just wouldnt go away. She was still in the hotel room she had been sharing with Cloud. There was one problem, however. (Sharing a room with someone usually means that they actually are in the room, too...
(Cloud never came back last night. I knew he was upset with me...but I waited so long for him to go back. He couldve come back and kicked me out or whatever, but he has no right to make me worry so much.) She sighed. (I havent been this worried about him since the day I died. Since the time he almost stabbed me. I have to wonder sometimes if hes in complete control of himself. I know that Tifa and Cloud supposedly found each other in the Lifestream...but...
(The endless searching for Sephiroth, the endless searching for me...I think through it all, Cloud was really searching for himself. Just like he said he wanted to prove to me that he was more than just a wannabe version of Zack...when the thing he really needs to do is prove that to himself. Maybe he cant do that with Zack back here, but he cant really help that now.)
She grabbed a pair of black pants and a pink shirt. (I hope he soon reappears, if just to let us know hes okay.)
* * * * * * * * * * * *
You were sure asleep long enough.
Cloud looked up at his companion from the previous night. Whatever. I had a long day yesterday. He shook his head, trying to detach himself from his actions. It didnt quite work.
Are you just going to leave me now? Kayley pouted.
Im really sorry, he said, disinterested, but I do have pressing business here in Junon. (Just the news that someone I cared deeply for is back from the dead, along with her ex-boyfriend. The person I emulated, and the person shes probably truly in love with.)
Can I come along?
No. Sorry. Its private business. He looked at the disappointed girl. Personal problems.
You would think from the way it was last night, Id understand personal problems, she retorted.
Annoyed, he turned and glared at her as he attempted to put his pants back on. Look. In case you havent figured it out, you were a one-night stand. Sorry. Its not really my style, but I couldnt help myself. You asked me if I wanted it.
Kayley appraised him with cold eyes. I just need a ride somewhere. Could you arrange that, in return for my supposed favor to you?
(Even for me, the fuck-and-runs get fucked up royally.) I got a connection at the airport; Ill see what I can do. Cloud narrowed his eyes at her. You come with me now, you get your lift, and youre going to leave me alone, right?
She smirked. (Ill let you think that.) Sure. Unless we made Cloud Junior last night.
(What a bitch!) I hope to whatever god there is we didnt. He might take after you, and that would suck royally.
Inside, Kayley steamed. (Even if I dont kill you painfully, you will pay for that comment. For an excruciatingly long period of time.)
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Derin had met Daphne at the hotel for the walk back to Red XIIIs observatory. The meeting was going to be a discussion of how to go about searching for the mysterious red-headed woman. They all had decided late last night that there was no possible way she would have been stupid enough to stay in Junon after her deflected attack of Tifa.
She smiled to herself as she walked along the familiar street, remembering the conversation with Reeve.
Yep, the Masamune.
Barret looked at him cautiously. Can yall be so kind as to tell us what th hell yous doing with that thing?
Reeve smiled. Of course. I got sick of the stuffed cat.
Umm, pardon me, said Red XIII. Youre not the newest avatar of Sephiroth, are you Reeve?
Certainly not. I like my life now. I got to take over the company, shut down the three largest Mako reactors, and set up three test plants. One is solar, one is thermal, and one is hydroelectric. The most productive one will be used to replace the rest of the Mako reactors.
Maybe you dont understand us, Reeve, said Tifa. What the hell do you have Sephiroths sword for?
In case you didnt notice the cape, he replied sarcastically, Sephiroth is my costume.
The sound of multiple people slapping their foreheads could be heard down on the street.
This is, he continued, a real Masamune though. For some reason, Rufus hung up the sword that was left in his fathers body, up in his office. Which I inherited. I took it with me, and boy, it came in handy, didnt it... His sentence trailed off, and he looked at Derin. Should I call you Derin or Zack?
There was a moment of deep thought before he responded. Lets just go with Derin. Thats what all my I.D.s say, and no one here besides Cloud or Rissy knew me in my previous life, anyway.
Daphne raised an eyebrow. Then why dont you call me Daphne? she teased.
Well he knew that you were Aeris for a long damn time, said Yuffie. Were just all confused, so we call you Daphne still. Wait until we get used to the idea enough, and we get mixed up and call you Daph-ris.
She wrinkled her nose. Ew. That sounds like a disease. She turned to the group as a whole. You can call me anything you want, just make sure its one name by itself, and not a disgusting combo.
Sure thing, Araphne, said Cid.
He had to dodge many rolled up pieces of paper as they were tossed at
his head. Hey!
Hey is right, said Red XIII. How am I supposed to solve any problems if you throw my notes at Cid!
So even after Clouds disappearance, the night had ended on a slightly positive note. The entire group had been reunitedalmost.
Daphne and Derin made their way up to the roof; they were the last ones to arrive. We can finally begin, said Red XIII. Our main pressing point of interest is how to locate our new adversary.
Maybe we should split up, suggested Vincent.
The conversation stopped as they heard someone walking up the stairs to join them. They all looked up and were very surprised. Extremely surprised.
Hi guys, said Cloud. Following close behind him was the red-headed woman.
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