Evolution of Innocence Chapter 13
By Janet Monstwillo
"So...this is a serious problem, right guys?"
The rest of the group stared at Yuffie in wonderment.
"What is your problem? I want to know why we're just sitting here when there's a reincarnated 'Calamity from the Skies' using our Cloudie as a puppet again!"
"Well, I kind of had to tell them it was Jenova first," remarked Derin.
"You told us, now let's get going!" She prepared to stand up, but Red XIII held her in place with a paw to the back of the shirt.
"Don't let a hasty decision throw us in the wrong direction."
Yuffie settled back down and pouted. "I could be pointing us in the right direction, you know."
Vincent stood up. "She's heading for the Lifestream. We need to go to all the places on the Planet where Mako is at the surface." He sat back down.
The ninja shook her head. (Why does he always have to be such a drama queen? Mr. "I think I'm a Vampire." Sheesh.)
Daphne thought for a moment. "There's Mt. Nibel."
"True," said Tifa. "There's also Mideel and the Northern Crater, but you weren't with us when we visited those places."
Daphne looked at her old friend for a moment. (Somehow, some way, she seems hostile to me. And this isn't the first time I've felt some sort of negative energy coming from her. Why does she resent me?)
Derin had seen the look of confusion pass through Daphne's face; he understood why Tifa was acting the way she did, and also why Daphne was hurt. (If Rissy understood everything that had happened since she died, she would know why Tifa is hurt. But now, she can't see anything more than anyone else could.) He knew the jealousy in Tifa's heart well. For, try as he might, he could not tell by looking whether Daphne's care and concern for Cloud led deep into the heart.
"We should split up into three groups of three then," said Reeve. "That works out, right?"
Cid nodded. "But how the hell are we gonna decide who goes with who? I'll be damned if I'm with Miss Maturity over here," he complained as he gestured to Yuffie.
"I resent that!"
"You would!" he retorted.
"Umm...I'm confused." Yuffie shook her head. "Anyway, I don't wanna be in your group!" That was all she said, though she made puppy-dog eyes at Reeve.
"I'm going to Mt. Nibel," said Tifa softly.
"So am I." Vincent looked around. (If this were a time for jokes, I would remark here how I miss my old coffin back at the mansion.)
"I'll go wit' y'all." Barret crossed his arms, looking for any objections.
Derin set his jaw. "I'm going to the crater." He shot a meaningful glance at Daphne.
"I'd like to see it too," she added.
Cid extinguished his cigarette. "You're in luck. The legendary Cid Highwind shall be your tour guide."
"Living legend, eh?" Derin grinned.
At this remark, the pilot turned an interesting shade of red and muttered "I ain't that fucking old yet" under his breath.
Suddenly, something dawned on the lion-like creature. (That leaves me, Reeve, and...and...!) "Oh no. You are not even doing this to me!" cried Red XIII in protest.
"But you're the closest in mental age to Yuffie," remarked Tifa with a wicked gleam in her eye.
Reeve let out a sigh of resignation. "Red, ol' chap, cheer up. We get to go to the only place that isn't freezing cold right now."
"I have fur," he growled. "Someone reconsider their group. Now."
But the only response he got was a few amused "apologies," and the bearer of each had a twinkle in his or her eye.
"Let's get a bite to eat before we head out in the Airship," suggested Daphne.
She led the group out from the observatory, until Red XIII and Yuffie were the last ones in the room. He glared at her and stormed off with disgust.
At that moment, she finally realized what he had been angry about. "Hey! Don't you want to be in a group with me?" She ran after him, demanding an answer.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Cloud landed the stolen helicopter in a daze.
(Who am I? Where am I?
He looked up at Kayley. "Is this the right place?" he asked flatly.
She glanced around at the landscape. (It is certainly the right area. But why are we so far from the place I want to be?) "Can't you get this thing any closer?" she demanded.
Surveying the area, Cloud shook his head. "This 'copter was the fastest, but it is the most sensitive. If I land it any closer, I doubt we could ever use it again. The gear would be so damaged, we'd crash."
Leaning back into her seat with dismay, she resigned herself to the long walk. (Although I will be able to withstand any crash by then, I don't want to lose my...precious puppet.) Before she could stop the urge, her hand was caressing Cloud's cheek. Fuming, she tore it back as soon as she regained control of herself. (Damn, damn, damn it! I have to be strong. I don't care what happens to this mere human, I can't!)
"Get up," she said menacingly.
Cloud sat up, although mechanically.
"Can't you do it more naturally?" As soon as the sentence came out of her mouth, Kayley giggled. "Don't you know any choreography?"
"I saw Loveless once."
"Do the Loveless dance," she demanded with a smirk. Cloud's attempts at the ballet and jazz steps were pitiful, at best. Throwing her head back with a laugh, Kayley decided it was time for her return to power. "That will be enough."
"Would you like me to sing?" asked Cloud.
She stared into his empty eyes. "Wait until I am stronger. Then I can make you do it, but with emotion." She sighed. (Using this manipulate materia is very taxing on this mortal body. Soon I will be one with my cells, though, and then I can throw away all of this worthless crystal.)
Kayley lifted her head up high. The day was beautiful. The sun was shining high up in the sky, and she would soon take over the Planet. It truly was a day to end all days. Wonderful, precious. Perfect.
She poked Cloud in the back. "Walk," she ordered. "I wish to be myself again by nightfall."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"Okay," said Cid to the other three people on the deck. "Now's the time. Remember, the goal is to kill the Kayley bitch before she turns back into Jenova." He headed towards the bridge, to steer the Airship to Mideel.
"Use only status-changing magic on Cloud." Daphne looked at Tifa and Vincent, making sure each nodded their affirmation. "We don't want to be his murderers."
A quiet hush descended at the mentioning of a murderer.
"Well, we don't." She rolled her eyes. "Guys, who cares that I was murdered? I'm back now."
"Who cares? Who cares?!" Tifa walked up to the taller girl and met her with a fiery glare. "I know you shouldn't care. You were the one who got to stop fighting, go to the Promised Land, while we had to work our asses off saving the world. All that while grieving for you." She shook her head. "Sure feels like a waste now," she muttered.
"Tifa?" Tears formed in Daphne's eyes. "You don't mean that, do you?"
"Why would I say something I didn't mean?" Her words were defensive only because the comment's aim had been so true. Tifa really didn't mean that her grief was a waste. Not when it was still so close to her, so real. She was just afraid to let it go. (I can't let it go. Because if I did, then who would be left to remember how much Cloud hurt after Aeris died? Just because she's back doesn't mean the pain never existed. Or that it magically goes away.)
Vincent walked up to Tifa and placed a hand on her shoulder. "We should not part ways on a disagreement. However, I think that it would take too much time to resolve this, and we are racing against time." He fixed red eyes on Daphne while he absentmindedly rubbed Tifa's shoulder.
Daphne nodded. "I'll go tell the others that we're near Mideel now. It's time to drop them off." She left them and went to the bridge.
"I didn't need your help dealing with that, you know," said Tifa. She brushed his hand off.
He looked down for a moment, then glanced at her. "What was I supposed to do? Let you two catfight on the deck over a moot point? You each have different views on Aeris' death, the reasons for which should be obvious."
"She doesn't understand that we hurt?"
"I think, Tifa...that she understood. Before she came back to the Planet. But now she's here and back to being a dim-witted mortal like the rest of us. She doesn't even have her part-Cetra body anymore."
"I guess you expect someone to be all knowing if they come back. More like Derin."
"He's got a fool soul. Just think. He's walking around the Promised Land, speaking the same way he does here, using the same tone and slang words."
Tifa smiled. "I hope my soul is a little deeper than that when it's my time. I'd like to think I learned a lot in this lifetime." She turned to Vincent with an amused look in her eyes. "So you really think I would have gotten into a catfight with 'Daph-ris'?"
"I would have won."
"Probably." Vincent shook his head. "I wouldn't like to see the state either of you would be in afterwards. I like women who haven't scratched each other up, and have left each other's hair inside the respective head."
"Well, what about the part where the girls tear off each other's clothes?" Tifa sat back, waiting for his response.
"Let me guess," he said dryly. "Another one of your questions to judge human nature by."
She nodded. "So...?"
Vincent walked to the doorway. "I'd prefer tearing your clothes off myself."
Tifa was stunned as she watched him walk out. Then gathering her wits, she ran after him, asking a Yuffie-esque question. "That was a joke, right?"
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