Redemption Chapter 29
By Janet Monstwillo
Azura tossed and turned in bed, waking with a startle. Clutching the blankets up to her chest, she shivered in the darkness. (It was so cold...) Vivid images from the dream still hung in her mind. (Was I the girl in the snow? Did fire fly from my hands once?)
(Is that all I've ever been supposed to do?)
The chills soon passed and the desert heat soon slipped back. She threw the blankets off and stood, walking to the window. (Once, a meteor fell from the sky and scarred the Planet. But the true damage was caused by the thing inside.) The starlight twinkling in the sky held no more warmth than the bright snows of Gaea's cliff.
(Life after life, for thousands of years...we've struggled. Struggled against one little creature. The Ancients thought it a plague, and the scientists thought it a deity.) Azura closed her eyes. (Every night for weeks I've gone to sleep only to learn the pain I knew two thousand years ago. I know what it's like to be alone, without a homeland.)
(Wutai may be no more, but I refuse to be alone. I can't let go of you, Pat, not until every speck of life has been driven from me.)
She clenched her fist and walked to the table, holding the huge piece of yellow materia from the observatory. (Jenova was not destroyed because Asula gave up. I once was weak, but now I am strong.) "I am..." A look of confusion crossed her face and she turned to the doorway. "...only going to tell you this once. Put him down."
Patrick entered her room soundlessly, dragging an unconscious Reeve behind him. He held a pistol to his sleeping stepfather's temple. "It's not my fault he didn't have the common sense to put on a ribbon."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
(The sun's been down for hours. Yet it's hot as hell here...but so dark.) Kati sat on the beach, about a mile or so from the limits of Wutai. (So, so dark.)
Few people had escaped the blaze. It seemed that Patrick's forces had used materia to start the fire in several places at once. The paper thin, flimsy buildings easily became prey to the flames, and those that did manage to get out of their homes were completely surrounded by the inferno of the rest of the town.
The Valentines' home and the five-tiered Pagoda were nearly the only structures that survived, and both bore the black, charred scars of their battles with the inferno. Yuffie had put on her leader façade to offer any consolation she possibly could to the survivors. Vincent and Sean were inside their house, seeing if any of their possessions could be salvaged.
The rest of the group, who didn't even live in Wutai, seemed to be the most affected at the moment. They huddled at the outskirts, dumbfounded by the chaos in front of them. It's almost as if they knew their sole purpose there was to comfort Yuffie and Vincent's family once the numbness of shock wore off and reality hit them.
Kati gazed out at the ocean. It always had a way of soothing her, no matter what troubles were on her mind. There was always something eerie about being on the shore at night, though. The horizon disappears, when pitch black night meets the midnight depths of the ocean. No matter what is going on in the rest of the world, the only thing there to greet someone is the darkness.
(I feel like I'm on the edge of the world.)
"Kati." A baritone voice stirred her from her reflections.
She turned and looked into deep brown eyes, so dark that the Mako glow was barely noticeable. She saw love and concern, but none of that seemed important at the moment. (Everyone here has lost so much, yet I've got all the important things right here. My family is safe. I don't deserve to still have things to make me happy!)
"I'm here for you, sweetie," Ishmael said, sounding a bit perplexed.
Looking back to the ocean, she sighed. "It's unfair that you are still here for me. Patrick's connection to us made him destroy Wutai, and we are all safe and sound. I'm sad the people in my home suffered, but no one I cared about is gone. Not one!"
He cautiously wrapped his arms around her shoulders. "That's not really something you should complain about, at least within earshot of anyone else."
"I just wish I felt bad. But the only thing I feel is an urge to get away from this place."
"I understand that. Everything has been destroyed...there isn't anything to hold you here anymore."
"That's not the way I meant it." Kati looked at him thoughtfully. "I want to leave because I don't want to see their pain. I don't have any pain about this, none at all. Yeah, I had some stuff here and too bad it's gone...but..." Her voice trailed off and she shrugged her shoulders.
Ishmael held her closer. "We all have our ways of dealing with this stuff."
"You know what's terrible?" A tiny laugh escaped her lips. "The first thing that came into my head, when we stepped off the Highwind... That this settles the argument about where we're going to live after we get married."
They stood there for a moment. The only sound carried in the air was that of the waves breaking along the shore.
"If we have kids...I won't be taking them to that damn Pagoda to prove their `worthiness,' and they won't have to visit Grandpa Godo's grave." A little shudder passed through her body.
She continued quickly, ignoring him. "I won't have to tell them to watch out for inflated prices at the Materia Shop...or to make sure the dirty old man behind the counter at the weapons' place doesn't leer at them too much." A small sniffle.
Biting his lip, Ishmael just tightened his hold on her.
"They won't try to bring home a new pet from the little shack full of stray cats." The tears were flowing freely down her face now. "Ish?" She turned to face him, her face now tear-stained.
He softly kissed her forehead. "What, hon?"
She drew in a shuddering breath. "We're ne-never gonna see Cid d-drunk off of Turtle Daiquiris again!"
Ishmael gazed silently at the ocean as Kati collapsed into his shoulder, sobbing.
"I hate him," she swore. "I didn't want to...I tried not to, but I can't help it. Ish, I don't want to hate him, for your sake..."
"Patrick hurt you," he said flatly.
The only response was more sniffling.
"Don't worry about me..." He stroked her hair softly. "I don't need a brother that could do something like this," he declared, raising his voice.
Raieyana and Tifa froze where they were standing, about to join the couple on the beach. Closing her eyes, Raieyana looked as if a blow had just struck her down.
"I'm sure he didn't mean it. We all know Patrick couldn't have been himself."
"I deserved to hear that."
"What does that mean?" asked Tifa.
"I often wondered, silently to myself, when I was pregnant with Patrick and hiding in that cave... How Lucrecia lived with herself, knowing that she'd given birth to a cold-blooded killer."
"Sephiroth was cold-blooded and calculating, a killer, before he was ever given a head job. He was raised to be that way. So I figured, no matter what the foreboding I felt within myself, the only thing I could do for Patrick was to raise him with love."
"He knows love..." Tifa placed her hand on her shoulder.
"I know that." Raieyana nodded. "I'm just saying now, that I get it. What Lucrecia must have felt within herself every day, since Vincent told her of Sephiroth's life after his birth. She had to hope that without the interference of Hojo and Jenova, and deep down inside, he was a good person. I have one up on her. I know that Patrick is a good person. I know he knows love and feels love. Care, concern, remorse. If nothing else, Patrick is human."
"Then we can't lose hope. We have to have faith in those prophecies."
She sighed and gazed once more upon her son and his fiancee. "It's not the strength of my own faith that I'm unsure of."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"I must say, that's a very different look you have there."
Azura shrugged a little. "I could say the same about you."
Patrick looked down at his dark shirt and black leather pants. "We do match though, Zuri."
"Maybe a little," she admitted, glancing at her own black tank top and leather pants. "But I don't have a hostage."
"Reeve?" He laughed heartily, filling the empty silence. "No, he's not a hostage. I didn't expect you to care about him one way or the other."
"I just wonder why you care enough to hold onto him."
Azura crossed her arms in front of her. "Look, if you wanted vengeance, he'd be dead by now. So it's obviously something else."
He cocked his head to one side, his eyes becoming cloudy. "Information," he mumbled.
"What do you want to know?"
Shaking his head, Patrick's voice gained strength. "I need the huge materia."
"You know it's in the observatory here. It's been here since way before you were born."
"It's gone." His voice turned to a low growl.
(I only took one of them.) Azura winced at the tone in his voice. "I've been asleep for awhile," she lied. "I don't know anything."
"Toying with me, sweetheart?" Patrick slapped Reeve across the facehard.
Blinking awake, Reeve found himself in a place different than the one he'd been put to sleep in. "Wha?"
Pulling a knife from a sheath strapped to his arm, Patrick slid the flat of it along his stepfather's neck. "Dear, dear Zuri...I know how you can't bear to see pain. It would be a shame if your lies killed the man who pretended to be my father, wouldn't it?"
Reeve gulped and glanced at the gray-eyed girl.
Azura shook her head. "Pat...I know you're in there somewhere! Look, I believe in you and I know you don't want to do these things...I love you!"
"You loved a lie. His love for you was a lie just like he was." Patrick's eyes narrowed. "I'm only repeating myself once. Where is the huge materia?"
"She doesn't know." Reeve's eyes flashed defiantly.
He nearly dropped the knife. "You do," he said, half-laughing in shock. "What, you actually did something pro-active for once, instead of sitting back and watching everyone else save the day?"
"I wouldn't say that...I was foolish enough to put my life on the line for you..."
Patrick kicked him sharply in the stomach.
Reeve doubled over in pain, groaning. "Oh come on, the last time you used this trick it didn't work, remember?"
"Are you going to tell me where the materia went?"
The only response was laughter. "Don't you get it? I'm the one that stayed behind because I'm the only one that I could trust not to talk!"
Taking care to miss any vital organs or blood vessels, Patrick stabbed Reeve in the shoulder with the knife. Blood trickled from the wound, slowly staining the white dress shirt that he always seemed to wear.
Azura turned away in despair. (I can't sit back and let this happen, not when I...) Her eyes fell upon the huge yellow materia. (Yellow means command...command means...)
"Patrick...I know some piece of you is still inside there," Reeve said calmly. "I want to tell you that I was wrong and I'm sorry."
"It's...lies..." he mumbled. It seemed like he was trying to convince himself. ("He's trying to trick you. He thinks you're so simple-minded that you'd believe a stupid dinky little apology."
No...what if he means it?
"He only said those things because you finally have power over him. You finally have him where you want him!")
"You should leave him alone," said Azura softly.
"Stay out of this"
"Pat, don't think about me. Forget about me for a second. What would your mother think?" She kept her hands wrapped around the yellow crystal, her eyes closed, channeling the manipulating energy towards Patrick.
This question was a mental stumbling block. "I..." He closed his eyes. "Mother," he whispered. The knife fell from his hand.
Taking a sigh of relief, she removed her hands from the materia and concentrated on a Cure spell for Reeve. Green waves of energy floated about his body, slowly sealing the wound in his shoulder.
"So this is what you were hiding, my Zuri," Patrick said.
She whirled around to see him holding the huge yellow materia. (Oh no! He recovered faster than I thought he would.)
"Stupid," he said, as he walked to the open window. "You won't do that again." He threw the crystal out the window.
Azura winced, knowing that the precious thing had shattered into countless pieces on the canyon floor.
"Even more stupid, considering that's not even the piece I wanted." He paused, seemingly conflicted. "You were right though...Reeve is not worth my revenge." He threw what was intended to be a withering glance at his stepfather.
Reeve looked into Patrick's eyes and saw the intense battle going on inside him. The expression on the boy's face changed between remorse and unfaltering, before he turned to Azura.
"There is still something here that I need." Before she could even react, she in Patrick's arms, in what seemed to be an embrace. He tore off her armlet and ribbon, then made sure she wasn't carrying a weapon.
(He still thinks I need materia to use magic.) Her eyes lit up a bit.
Holding a pistol to Reeve with one hand, he managed to tie her hands back with the other. "She's coming with me." It was a direct order.
Reeve attempted to get up. "No..." He trailed off in confusion. Patrick had made a threatening gesture with the pistol, but... (Zuri shook her head at me. What is she thinking?)
"You can't get hurt because of me," she said with a little too much of a self-sacrificing tone.
Grabbing her arm with a wrenching grip, Patrick forced her down the stairs and outside into the night.
He hoisted her onto his golden chocobo before mounting behind her. "We can still be in things together," he whispered. "Just the two of us. Nothing else matters." Patrick brought a hand to her face, caressing her cheek.
She closed her eyes, a tear slipping down her face.
Firmly wrapping one arm around her waist, he leaned in close and whispered something so softly to her...before sending them off at a gallop into the last bit of the night.
Azura contemplated his words in confusion, wondering if some part of him had finally begun to break free.
"Forgive me, Zuri. My heart knew not what my hands would do."
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic