Redemption Chapter 19
By Janet Monstwillo
"You do know that the only way to get on that continent by ourselves is by boat from Junon, right?"
Patrick nodded, glancing at the girl sitting cross-legged on his bed. (Still seems like I only first truly saw her a second ago. Can't believe she's sitting there. With me. Every time I turn my head, I'm afraid that she'll vanish straight into the night air.)
Azura watched him pacing back and forth across the room, as she smoothed a tangle from her long hair. "Will it work?"
"It should. Aeris isn't stupid enough to lead us anywhere where Reeve might be."
"Pat." She pleaded with her eyes. "I know you're angry with him, but shouldn't you call him 'Dad' out of respect?"
"Respect for what? His hatred?"
"He doesn't hate you."
He sighed and stared out the window. "There's a trait...passed down from my mother, and I think I received it. Dreams that are actually messages from somewhere beyond the physical Planet. Ever since that...that one night, I've been having dreams."
"Me too. Some scare me."
"Mine have been showing scenes from the past," he said, half-patronizing. "My mother's past. I have good reason to believe that Reeve isn't really my father."
"So?" Azura stood up and walked over next to him. "He was there for you. He's still your dad." She placed a hand on his.
He turned away. "He was always cold to me."
"He probably tried his best. If the truth seems harsh to you, it must be duly so for him."
(Why does she take his side?) "Does he need your defense now, too?"
A few tears glittered in her eyes in response to his harsh words, but she willed them not to fall. "Even if he hated you, nothing good will ever come from you hating him back. I thought you wanted to help your mother. Even if Reeve is not above hating a stepson, you should love her enough to face him with strength. Hatred is weak."
He turned to her in time to see a drop fall from her eyes to the floor. It sparkled in the dull lamplight. "Zuri. I always knew he didn't like me. I'm just so...so tired of it all. Aeris was nice today, but it always seemed that Mother was the only one who really wanted me around. One of my dreams has told me even that might not be true."
She reached up and touched his face. "I want you around."
His eyes flashed and he covered her hand with his own.
"And just because you weren't planned--Pat, everyone knows that no one meant for Kati to be born. Your siblings probably weren't planned. That doesn't mean our mothers love us any less. Your mother is one of the most truthful people I have known. If you think she loves you, it's because she does. It's not a charade."
"Do you truly believe that, Zuri?"
She smiled and nodded. "Of course." She shyly closed her eyes and turned her face downward. "I know because...I love you too."
Azura quickly walked to the other side of the room, towards the suitcase she had left sitting there before she fled. It was as if she didn't want to hear his response. Her cheeks burned at her revelation. (How could you just come out and say that to him? He wasn't expecting that. What if he didn't want that? What if he doesn't want you around now?) "Which room should I stay in tonight?" she asked lightly.
Patrick turned away. "You mean you don't want to stay here?"
"I just thought you wouldn't want me...especially with Aeris around."
"You stayed in here when both sets of our parents were down the hall."
She noticed that he included Reeve as his parent in that particular statement, storing it away in her memory for use later. "Well I wouldn't mind staying, but I don't want to get you in any trouble..."
He laughed. "Right. Zuri...if you want to take your slip of the tongue back, go right ahead."
She turned her back to him and went back to her nightgown search.
She whirled around. "What, you expect me to say I didn't mean it? I am not a liar!" Her knees felt weak, her throat tight. Slowly, she turned and kneeled in front of her bag. She pretended like looking through that suitcase was the most important thing in the world to her. However, right then and there, the most important thing was standing behind her.
Patrick's eyes went wide when he heard a muffled cry come from the raven-haired girl. (What have I done?) "Zuri?"
"Don't worry..." She swallowed hard. "I'll just go. Find a room on my own or something."
(No!) He slowly walked over to her, kneeling beside her. "Stay," he whispered.
She turned her tear-streaked face to him and began to shake her head.
"Stay," he pleaded. "Because the worst moment in my life was when I realized that you were the one hurt by that dragon. And the best moment was when I realized that you had braved that wilderness out there to find me."
"It's not enough if you don't believe me," she said softly.
"I'm so sorry, god, I am. I just...couldn't...at first...it seemed too wonderful to be true. Then you wouldn't look at me."
"I'm looking at you now."
"I know..." his voice trailed off as his eyes searched her face. "Zuri, you're just so beautiful. Why would you be looking at me?" His eyes closed in pain. "I'm a killer."
She leaned forward and her lips traced a path across his face, light as a feather, opening slightly when they found Patrick's. "No," she whispered, "you gave me a life."
He kissed her, with more passion. "I love you," he stated simply.
Azura nodded and she wrapped her arms around his neck. There was something in her eyes.
Suddenly, he understood. He lifted her carefully as he began to stand, smiling softly all the while, as she planted soft kisses all over his face...his neck. He began to carry her--then he remembered.
Reaching over to the nightstand, Patrick turned off the oil lamp.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Tifa closed her eyes and brought her fingers up to her temples, massaging them.
"You know, you probably wouldn't get the headaches if you wore your glasses."
"Yeah, yeah." She looked at him. "Red...you're still young in terms of your lifetime. You don't know what it's like to have delusions of youthfulness. Especially when most of your friends had Mako and Jenova treatments...and look ten years younger than their ages! Or Vincent." She scoffed. "It's not fair."
"You kept your figure."
She patted the part of her physique she was well-known for. "Thank the Planet for that, huh? I can wear bifocals and have dentures and have white hair, but as long as my fucking breasts are perky, I'll never be old." She shook her head. "You know part of this fatigue is because these texts are so impossible."
"The Khazed scroll seems easy when you have Raieyana around to correct you on it. Remember the one time she went to finish it and locked herself in a room on Highwind I for three hours? She told me she only did a sentence and a half."
"It was an important sentence!"
"True. But she forgot the last sentence. Turns out it was way more important to her than she ever would have guessed."
"But we know that outcome!"
Red XIII studied his passage. "So far, all I can come up with is there once was a happy village, then Jenova came and everyone died."
"Tell us something we didn't know."
"Actually, there are a few names dropped. Maybe they don't seem too interesting at first glance within the passage. Let me read them to you in a group. Riana, Kal'od, Reiven, Pa'at Rich, Asula, Erhiz..."
"Wait a minute!"
"Stranger still is that there is an accent on Erhiz. The 'e' isn't pronounced."
Tifa looked extremely confused. "If I thought you weren't speaking clearly, I would have thought you said 'Raieyana, Cloud, Reeve, Patrick, Azura, and Riss.'"
"Yes, that's the point. Is it a coincidence, or does it have meaning? Take into consideration Rissy's claim to know how to help the situation. Add in the fact that the Cetra word has been altered so it wouldn't be mistaken for Aeris..."
"It's like the writer knew that there would be confusion if he had just said 'Aeris.'"
"Perhaps they did know. The problem here is that the author is talking about the past. But it sounds familiar. Cloud and Raieyana are to have a child named Patrick. Reeve doesn't want the child to be born."
"You never knew?"
"About what?" She looked at him. "What the hell are you talking about? Cloud and Raieyana having...Patrick?!"
The lion sighed. "It's a good thing you're sitting down. You probably don't want to hear what I have to tell you. It's about something that happened about fourteen and a half years ago..."
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