Redemption Chapter 2
By Janet Monstwillo
"Da Valentines are in da house!" yelled Ishmael, as he walked in with Kati and Sean Valentine.
Reeve turned to his son. "Keep it down, your mother is sleeping."
"Not anymore," called Raieyana from the hallway.
He shook his head and grinned in spite of himself. "Kati, Sean, where are your parents?"
"They're carrying our luggage. Zuri too." Kati exploded into giggles that seemed quite juvenile for her twenty-one years.
"Oh it's not that bad," she continued, rolling her eyes, "they asked us to come and get Rissy and Ishmael to help."
"Oh... Aeris isn't here; she went to Kalm for the day to visit Elmyra, Barret, and Marlene. She'll be back by tomorrow, though." Reeve turned to Ishmael. "Patrick's in his room though, he can help out."
Ishmael was wary. "Are you sure about that Dad?"
"Of course he's sure!" said Raieyana. "I'll go get Patrick." She turned back towards the bedrooms.
Sean was none the happier for the arrangement. "Great," he muttered. "We'd be better off doing it without any help at all."
A very loud conversation came streaming in from the hallway. "Why should I help them haul their crap? No one should bring on trip more than they can carry. It's not my job to be their slave!"
"You are fourteen years old, Patrick. A little responsibility isn't too much to ask of you. These are our guests and it would be polite to go and help them. It's not like you will be by yourself; Ishmael is going, too!"
"Ishmael? HA! I can carry twice what he can."
"Then I guess you would really be of service to them, huh?"
Patrick sulkily emerged into the living room. Raieyana, having won the argument, followed close behind him. "Which trail are they on?" he asked scornfully.
"The back one," said Kati quietly.
Patrick stalked out the door without another word.
Ishmael motioned to Kati and Sean. "C'mon, let's get back to your folks before 'the Welcome Wagon' arrives." The three walked quietly out the door.
Reeve and Raieyana just looked at each other. "He's a teenager, that's always a difficult time," she said softly.
"The twins weren't too trying on my patience. He always seems to find a way to do it, though. The worst is when he looks at me with total disrespect."
Raieyana looked shocked. "He does?!"
"All the time." Reeve gave her a wry smile. "At least he respects you. There's still hope if he listens to one of us." He pulled her closer. "Most of the time, I think we're not doing half bad."
She let her finger trace a path over his lips before bringing her own up to meet them. "We never do anything bad together," she whispered, her words heavy with innuendo. She raised an eyebrow and tilted her head back towards the bedroom. "Do you think they'll get up the trail before we'd finish?"
He slid his hand up her back and undid the catch to the neck of her dress. "Only one way to find out," he said, grinning as he led her down the hallway.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Azura Valentine set down the three suitcases she was holding and pouted. "Daddy, we should wait until they come back. I'm exhausted. Mom's exhausted. You look like you're about to turn into Chaos."
Vincent looked at his daughter and cracked one of his not-so-rare-anymore smiles. "Honey, I'm not going to turn into Chaos. If my back aches anymore, I could see the Gallian Beast coming out. Maybe."
Yuffie came around the bend in the trail, in the rear, as she tended to be. She set down the trunk she was lugging and proceeded to trip over it and land on her head. "Owww!"
Hiding a smile, Azura walked back to help her mother up. "I'm sure glad I didn't inherit your coordination, Mom."
"Eh, you're just sixteen honey, you've got some growing left to do."
"Yeah right. When you were my age, you were running around saving the world, and you met Daddy. Then you had Kati. If that's growing, I'd rather wait a bit before I pop out the kids."
Yuffie flipped her hair, which was still short-styled and held back with a ninja headband. "But none of your friends ever had such a young, stylish mother. Just think, your children's grandma will be younger than some of their friends' mothers."
"I'd take the traditional cookie baker any day," teased Azura.
"What about me?" asked Vincent with a wry smile, waving his claw in the air.
"You're too interesting to complain about," she said as she hugged him.
"Hey!" Yuffie pouted.
Vincent stuck his tongue out at her.
"Boy, I'm sure sorry I loosened you up!"
"Yeah, too bad I lost maturity instead of you gaining it." He chuckled. "Dammit though, I wonder if Kati forgot we needed help."
"Well, Kati might take after me, but that's why we sent Sean."
Patrick was slightly disgusted when he had gotten halfway down the trail and still hadn't seen any trace of the Valentines. (How the heck did these people ever save the Planet? Talk about losing your touch as you age.)
Azura glanced up the mountain and she saw someone coming down towards them. (Someone tall and handsome...)
"Patrick," Vincent said quietly. Then he raised his voice in a greeting. "Hello there!"
"Hi," muttered Patrick. "Mother said you needed assistance?" He raised an eyebrow.
Yuffie and Vincent felt almost ashamed under his gaze. Maybe they had been a little too demanding of their hosts.
"Hi," said Azura shyly.
His eyes met hers. The closest in age of all the children, the two had often been playmates. Though Patrick had a tendency to bully, he always protected Azura. But it had been three years since they had seen each other. The last three summers Reeve took his family to Wutai, and Patrick had remained home as punishment for some wrong deed or another.
In those three years, he had grown from her equal to her superior. Gray eyes held blue in awe. But...Patrick actually saw them and smiled.
"Zuri!" he said, in a pleasant tone.
"Do you still go by Pat?" she asked uncertainly.
"I will if that's what you're going to call me." His smile reached his eyes for once. He turned back to her parents. "Ishmael is right behind me with Kati and Sean." His tone was cool as ice as he picked up all of the bags Azura had been handling. "Will they be enough or should I take the trunk, too?" he asked sarcastically.
"You've done more than enough," said Yuffie carefully.
"I can go with Pat, right?" Azura's eyes were sparkling like stars.
Vincent's brow furrowed, but he nodded. "Of course. I think five people can handle what's left here. Tell Ray and Reeve we'll be there as soon as humanly possible."
He could hear her voice, chatting away happily to her companion. Vincent sighed. "Tell me I shouldn't have this odd feeling about that child."
Yuffie was quiet. "I can't tell you not to feel how I feel myself. You know Zuri's a big girl though. And we keep forgetting Patrick's only...why he just turned fourteen."
"And he looks older than her. He could easily overpower her."
"Hush. He always could, but never did. Until we get a hint that that has changed, leave them be or Zuri'll be pissed."
"The slightest inkling of a hint, Vince. Her spending time with him worries me too."
Their conversation was cut short by the arrival of Ishmael, Sean, and Kati. The luggage was divided up and worries were set aside for the time being. The two families were going to visit together like they always did.
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