(God this is hard work. Never exercised so much in my life.) Reeve wondered how they were going to be able to stop Sephiroth if they were going to get all worn out first at Undor-Hai. (The only people who don't look exhausted are Yuffie, Cloud, and Raieyana. Well, Ruther and Legolas just broke a sweat, but the rest of us?) Cid was wheezing, finally showing side-effects from the chain-smoking. (Note to self: quit smoking after all the crater stuff is over. But I really need one now...) Reeve felt his pockets for his cigarettes, but they weren't there. (I did not leave them in my bag, did I?)
"Okay," said Lia, "now for training on separate weapons. First up, guns and projectiles. Throwing stars, bow and arrows, etc."
"Are you trying to kill me?" asked Barret.
Raieyana, who was still exercising, said, "Whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger. Besides, gun training doesn't take as much energy as, for example, staff training or double-edged sword training."
"Oh, and Yuffie," said Lia, "be sure to stick around after this for training on that spiral of yours. Those of you who don't use guns or projectiles can go for break now. I'm sure Ray can get you guys some refreshments."
Raieyana half-jogged back to Lia's house. Reeve was absolutely amazed. (How does she still have a spring in her step? Maybe she's used to this, but God...)
"Okay," she said, "we have any kind of fruit juice imaginable..."
"How about beer?" asked Cid.
She shook her head. "No, sorry. You can help yourselves to food in the cabinets, but a word of advice: Don't eat too much before you go back to weapons training." She got herself some water and sat down. She started examining her staff. Reeve sat down next to her.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"Well," she said, "if my weapons needed to be repaired, now would be the time to have it done. But the staff looks okay." She took out the sabres.
"What are those made of?" asked Cloud with a mouthful of food.
"Crystal. Any nick in the blade and the whole thing might shatter. But I don't see any in either of them." She put them away.
"What about the sword?" asked Reeve.
"Since I've never used it, there should be no problem," she said. She looked at Cloud's large plate of food. "You really shouldn't be eating all that. Makes it really hard to work out later."
"So," he said, "I'm hungry."
"Well," she said, getting up, "I'm going to go change into something more suitable for weapons training. Don't want to restrict my movement, you know." She walked to her room, with Tifa following. Cloud took a large bite into his third bean sprout sandwich.
Raieyana opened her closet and took out an old "Junon Academy" T-shirt, a pair of jeans, and a pair of shorts.
"Wear the shorts," said Tifa.
"Oh," said Raieyana, "you surprised me. But I am wearing the shorts. These pants were just in the way." She quickly changed.
"I wonder what he sees in you," said Tifa.
Tifa stood up. "Cloud. And Reeve. What do they see in you that they don't see in me? I just thought maybe you had some idea, that's all."
(A lot less silicone, perhaps... Well, I can't say that to her face.) "Ummm, I didn't know Cloud saw anything in me," said Raieyana, purposely avoiding the subject of Reeve for the time-being.
"Well, he does. I don't know what it could be, since I'm better-looking, smarter, stronger..."
(More conceited, maybe?) "To each his own, I guess," said Raieyana, "maybe they just have a less cultured taste, to not want you." (Boy am I the queen of b.s., or what? Right now, she's making me want to leave the room. Wonder what the guys' reactions were when she was coming on to them?)
"That's probably it," said Tifa, "Cloud's just attracted to you because you've got the whole Jenova thing inside, and Reeve..."
"Yes, what about Reeve?" Raieyana asked.
"...just has psychological problems, obviously. After all, he worked for Shinra for eight years, straight out of business school." However, Tifa was aware of the more tasteful approach of Raieyana's T-shirt and shorts getup. (Well, if you got it, no use in hiding it. And that Raieyana, she definitely has not got it.) Tifa left Raieyana, who was now puzzled.
(Does she actually realize the way she's acting? I mean, it's probably not acting, but she really needs to take a long look at herself. What do they see in me that they don't see in her? And the funny thing is, I always thought that Tifa really cared about Cloud.)
* * * * * * * * * * * *
It was night. Finally. Reeve was completely and utterly exhausted, mentally and physically. (Slash, stab, block. Slash, stab, block.) Lia's commands still echoed through his skull three hours later. (I could do it all in my sleep, for crying out loud.) He pulled out his knives and went through the exercises, ending with the crossed block. He sighed and put them away. He remembered more of the lesson. ("Mastery is more than these simple techniques, but mastery includes these techniques. Without them, you cannot effectively use the weapon.") Raieyana hadn't joined them for that particular training session. She had gone to get some more people to go with them to the crater. (Wish she would have been there. I haven't seen her since she left.)
"Reeve," said Raieyana, "you look really tired." She sat down next to him. He kissed her on the cheek.
"Ray, I was just thinking about you," he said.
"Wonderful," she said. But her voice was sad.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"If Cloud did something else to me, because of Sephiroth, would you forgive him?"
He took her hand. "Of course. I know it wouldn't be his fault," he said.
"Well, what if," she said, "what if he killed me? Would you forgive him then?"
He looked at her, stunned. "Well, Ray, I would understand it wasn't his fault, but I don't know if I'd ever forgive and forget. If you died, that is. Why do you want to know these things?"
"Reeve," she said, "I've been thinking about a lot of things. My dream, for one thing. I die in my dream. And it has made me wonder if maybe I would have to die to stop all this. Like Aeris. Could you forgive him if it happened like that?"
"But Ray, why do you keep asking me if I would forgive him if he killed you?" he asked.
"Because I want you, if anything happens to me, to blame no one but Sephiroth, no matter how it all occurs."
He hugged her. "Fine," he said, "I understand what you want."
"If something happens to me..."
"Ray," Reeve said sharply, "nothing is going to happen to you. I'll make sure of it."
She smiled. "I know. But just in case... I am planning to make a memorial, up here in Undor-Hai, for everyone I loved that has died. Aeris, Tseng, my aunt, Aysta, Blane, and Ish. I just want you to know that if something happens, I would want you to do this, and put me there with them."
"Fine, Ray," said Reeve, "I promise you I will do this, in the unlikely occurrence of something happening to you."
She leaned into his shoulder. "That's all I wanted to know," she said. (I hope he will understand, when it all falls into place. That the blame would not lie on him, but elsewhere.)