Redemption Chapter 18
By Janet Monstwillo
"She wants to relay a message to you. 'I'm all right,' she says, 'and I need you to stop looking for me. I'll come back when I wish. Sending people to find me will only end up in them getting hurt.'"
Vincent glared at the PHS. "Legolas. You're saying Daniel found her and just let her go."
"She turned one of my best warriors into a frog."
"It's called 'transform magic.' It can easily be prevented with a ribbon or something."
"Which she was wearing. Especially since she's with Patrick, the only way to force her back home would be to knock her unconscious and drag her back. After killing him."
"You can't be serious about that, can you? Because I'm not going to send people out to kill the kid. And you have to be concerned enough whether your daughter will be okay..."
"I doubt she'll be okay with him."
"Danny said she looked perfectly fine. I wash my hands of the matter, Vincent. She's perfectly capable of taking care of herself, and she doesn't want to come back."
(How can she not want to come back...?)
"She told Daniel that she wanted you and Yuffie to know she was fine, but she made her decision."
"She's just a child..."
"According to Daniel, a child with fearsome strength in magic. You can make your own decision. It's beyond what we can do here. Out of bounds. It's a family matter. You can only hope someday she decides she wants to remedy whatever bond was broken there."
"Nothing was broken!"
"Vincent. It's not my concern. Go talk with your family. That's what you need to concentrate on."
Vincent slammed down the PHS as his wife walked into the room. "Who was that?"
He sighed. "Legolas."
"Any news from Undor-Hai?"
Worry crossed her face. "What is it?"
"They found Zuri. She's with Patrick, and she has no intentions of coming back. They manhandled a pair of warriors, of which one was Daniel Masterson."
"Yes. She told Dan to tell us that she isn't going to come back to see us until she's ready. She threatened anyone we might send after her."
Yuffie let out a sigh of relief. "So she's fine."
"Fine? She's out there, alone, with Patrick, and refuses to come home! That's just so fine!"
She shrugged. "She's at that stage..."
He returned her remark with a cold glare. "That stage?"
"Calm down honey. You were never a sixteen-year-old girl. Just think, how much better behaved she is than I was at sixteen!"
"I always appreciated that...but..." He glanced at Yuffie. "I also remember what you were doing when you were sixteen. You know, the whole reason for Kati's existence..."
"Oh." She sat down. "That."
"I'm slightly worried."
"You did mention birth control methods in the 'birds and the bees' talk, right?"
"Me? I thought you gave her that talk."
A startling realization crossed Yuffie's face. "Uh oh." She looked at her husband. "I hope Zuri cools down. Soon."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"This is very interesting, indeed. How long has it been hidden back in the library, do you think?" Red XIII examined the scroll.
Tifa shrugged. "I honestly have no idea. It wasn't until I learned to read that dialect that anyone would have had a clue to its importance."
"Why do you think it is important? Besides the fact that we haven't seen it before, that is."
"Well...as you know, the Cetra were expert word builders. Many words are just compounds...because there are so many syllables that have their own meanings, some that differ in context."
"Yes, that's one of the things that makes these ancient writings so difficult to decipher."
She looked at him. "A few years ago, I was lucky enough to get a good look at the scrolls that Raieyana had worked on about twenty years ago. The ones that talked about resurrection, and the prophecy about her resurrection. It was the only place that these two glyphs appeared together. Khazed."
"What does the word mean?"
"Sacred death. Raieyana sacrificed herself, so the prophecy of Khazed referred to that instance. The same word is in the title of this scroll I found."
"Another prediction of sacrifice."
Tifa shook her head. "Maybe, but I doubt it. I believe that if I get a chance to work on this, we'll find that it is referring to her death. The title...it's prophecies beyond the Calamity from the Skies and the Sacrifice."
Red XIII held up the scroll. "So what you are saying..." He spoke slowly. "That right here, in our hands, could lie the key to our future?"
"When do we begin?"
"Now. Unless you want to sleep tonight. I doubt we'll want to stop once we get into this."
He thought of Raieyana's words and how they piqued his curiosity. "I'll go get the things we need."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"Patrick?!" Aeris' eyes went wide in surprise.
"I was told that no one was here," he said in a low voice. "Don't worry, I'll be on my way." He turned to leave.
"Wait!" She ran to stop him. "You can't go. I was looking for you."
"You were trying oh so very hard."
"Well, in case you didn't notice, it's dark and kind of late. I was going to go out into the woods in the morning."
"Why did you need to find me? Do you want to attack me too or something?"
"Attack you? Patrick..." Her brow furrowed. "Is everything okay?"
Azura spoke softly. "That's really not the question to ask someone at a time like this."
Aeris looked sheepish. "Fine. This is all right. Now I don't have to search for Patrick, and he doesn't have to hide. Anyone comes by here, I just say I haven't seen you."
Patrick eyed Cloud with suspicion. "That would help. Now could you tell me who this is?"
He stepped forward. "Cloud Strife."
"I see. Never knew you were such great friends with my sister."
"Pat..." said Azura, a tone of warning in her voice.
"What?" He turned to her. "I have no right to ask what this strange guy is doing fondling a member of my family?"
"He didn't fondle me!" exclaimed Aeris.
Giving the girl a look of sympathy, Azura addressed Patrick. "Look. We need to discuss some things anyway, so why don't we go to your room and talk."
"Patrick?" Aeris stepped forward and looked at him. "You will come back with me to Cosmo Canyon in a few days, right? To see Mom?"
"What does Reeve have to say about that?" he spat out.
She winced. "If we find a way back without using the Airship, he'd never know."
"Tell me if you do. Then I'll come. Zuri?" He turned to her and they prepared to leave.
"She needs you. I know she does. I'll fight Dad on this, I know what's right here. I know the truth."
He sighed. "I just can't face him again now."
"You won't be alone."
"Let's hope that's enough..." He walked up the stairs to his room, followed by Azura.
Aeris sank down onto a couch and sighed.
"I thought that went rather well," said Cloud sarcastically.
"No, that's the best part of it all. For a conversation with him, it did go well. We never really got along too well. It was like Ishmael and I had our own world, and then there was Patrick."
"Not much family bliss, huh?"
"We were happy enough. Mom was always around, keeping the peace. God, she's so strong. To see everything collapse now that she's not well...makes me finally understand how strong."
"You seem pretty strong yourself." He sat down next to her.
"Eh, it's hereditary. Besides, I had to be. Two tough brothers. Especially that one upstairs, always too strong, too smart for his age."
"I know. I was surprised. I had a fourteen-year-old pictured in my mind. He looked...almost your age. Of course, I'm sure my surprise also had something to do with...I know Azura's sixteen, and next to him she looks so small and innocent."
"You say that, but if you knew her..." Aeris shook her head. "Before, she was innocent. She don't look all that innocent anymore."
Cloud was quiet for a moment, thinking. "You don't suppose that this change could be the result of anything he might have done to her...?"
She shook her head. "No. It's just the well-behaved princess didn't want to be sent back to Wutai the minute there were problems here. She'd always been friendly with Patrick, and she was there when my Dad went nuts on him. So she went to find him. I always knew deep down she was gonna be looking for him after I heard she ran away."
"So...we're going to try to get to Cosmo Canyon then? Without calling Cid?"
A nod. "Hopefully avoiding my father."
"The only way to get to that continent is to take a boat or fly out from Junon."
"I know that. But Dad is there, handling a problem with his company."
"We'll just have to stay away from the Alcor building." He smiled at her. "It's just sneaking four people through a major city. Nothing big."
"Right!" He laughed with her, but suddenly she stopped and looked at him.
"What is it?"
She blushed and looked down. "I dunno. I haven't been acting much like myself at all today."
"Like in what..."
"It's just...you must think I am such a big flirt and I'm really not at all. I've never really done anything at all. I've never even been kissed."
He leaned in closer and touched her hand. "So are you saying that you mind...that you kissed me earlier...and then when I kissed you--"
She didn't let him finish. She turned to face him, about to tell him... And then she noticed that her lips were a mere breadth from his. "No," she whispered, "I liked it."
He covered the small space between them and kissed her hungrily, then broke away. "Maybe I should let you finish what you meant to say before I butt in like that again," he said softly.
"I was just..." She broke eye contact. "I just wonder now what might have happened if Patrick hadn't interrupted us."
Cloud stood up. "Me too." He glanced at the stairs. "Where should I sleep tonight?"
"On the couch." She walked to the stairs. "I'm gonna go to my room now. Goodnight, Cloud." She ran up to her room before he could give her a response.
"Goodnight...Aeris," he murmured as he sat back down on the couch, trying to comprehend all the odd feelings coursing through him. (Too much happened today.)
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