Reunion Chapter 10
By Janet Monstwillo
They had gone to Mideel to find the Soldiers who were having problems, in the chance that the symptoms would give a glimpse into the illness. No such luck.
"God...and...power...why...is...it...over...this...don't...know...is...no...freedom... while...alive..." Ruther mumbled in his delirium.
Three other ex-Soldiers were also writhing and mumbling. This is what the rebuilt health clinic had become. A sanctuary for sick Soldiers. Red XIII walked over to Yuffie, Vincent, Tifa, and Barret.
"I've checked all of their medical records. It seems that they have nothing in common...except this. There are also many different symptoms between the four of them. They have little in common. However, it all seems to be an affliction due to the Jenova...and perhaps some minor Mako poisoning as well. Hojo played with fire, and these men have gotten burned. We'll need to find some of Hojo's original experiment files to even hope to be able to determine the cause and/or the cure. And if we don't do it quickly...there will be few of us in shape to do research. Vincent, Cloud, Legolas, myself, Raieyana...all of us, and even more...we have been exposed to Jenova. We may be the next to fall."
Tifa hit Red XIII with a barrage of questions. "But what decides? Why is it that you are standing here, fully competent, while they are out of their minds and sick? How much longer do you have before your turn? Do you even have an idea?"
"Tifa," said Vincent gently, "maybe our downfall is not going to happen with our bodies. Red mentions Cloud. How do we know that his...instabilities do not arise from the Jenova? Perhaps this was Sephiroth's downfall. From what I have heard, it seems he was born with a human mind, with fragilities and even some compassion. Maybe the monster killed the man. I go so far as to suggest Sephiroth as a human being died years before Cloud ran him through with his sword in the Northern Crater. And Ishmael...I sense Raieyana never told us the whole truth about his death. Or Blane or Denmae's, for that matter. I had a dream...it said that only those of strong body, will, and mind will pass through the fire... I don't know exactly what that means, but..."
"These are obviously an example of the weak-bodied," said Yuffie, "and Cloud...maybe has a weak will...open to suggestion. But I don't know where we could find proof for the weak mind part."
"Doesn't matter," said Barret, "Cloud's dumb ass ran off. He was still mumbling about the blossom...and some legacy...and how he's failed Aeris and everyone who'd given some great gift... I tried to get 'im to explain that pile of horseshit, but he wandered off blankly. Weak will, ha! What he needs is a great big can of 'Wake Up, You Moron! We Need You Again, You Bastard!' And Vince, you and Legolas are looking fine...nothing to worry about."
"What about Raieyana?" asked Yuffie. Powerless to answer her, the rest of them fidgeted in the uncomfortable silence.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
A week had come and gone without any sign of death, destruction, or Shinra in Junon. Ignoring her protests, Reeve dropped Raieyana off at Reno's place. "I have to work. He took the day off and is going to show you the sights. Maybe he'll take you to the zoo."
"Reeve," she said, "that would only excite me if I was still a kid. I thought I wasn't a child. Why can't I just sit around your office?"
Reno opened his door and smiled. "Hey, Ray. Ready for a fun-filled day jam-packed with..."
"Fun, I bet," said Raieyana with mock excitement, "whoopee."
He turned to Reeve. "I can't believe nothing has happened. No one has even been mugged since you came back. Oh, and Lavs is takin' a week off."
"A week! My God, am I going to have to work my ass off today. I'm so glad I came back early, Jack. So glad. But," Reeve said, turning to Raieyana, "if all goes well, I'll pick you up for dinner at five. Bye. Love you."
Reno found their good-bye kiss a little lengthy for his taste. "C'mon kids, you're gonna see each other again in about...eight hours. So save some for tonight, eh?" Reeve shook his head and went out the door.
Raieyana sat gingerly on Reno's filthy couch. "Well, I'm waiting," she said, "entertain me."
"What do you want to do?" he asked.
Raieyana was suddenly overcome by a wave of nausea. "Where's the bathroom?" she asked.
"Down the hall...second door on the right..." By the time he finished, she had the bathroom door shut behind her. (I knew she didn't like me. I had no idea I had that kind of effect on her.)
After being safely sick in the bathroom, Raieyana rinsed her face and checked herself in the mirror. (That's funny. I don't think I've been sick like that since, since...) She tried to think back to the last time she had even felt the slightest bit sick to her stomach. (Oh God, no. Not that.) Her memory flashed back in a horror. (It can't be that. It's not that. It's too soon after to possibly be...) Her own words came back to her, however.
"Accelerated growth...caused by Mako and Jenova...I have both of them in me by the metric ton..." (And so does Cloud. My dream.) And she could hear the words of her dream. "A child will be born...more things than you realize are inevitable." (Stop thinking crazy things. There's no way to know for sure. But if I am carrying a child...the danger is great. Not to my own health, but maybe even the health of the Planet itself.) She emerged from the bathroom.
"Are you okay?" asked Reno.
"Yeah," said Raieyana, "and I even have an idea of what to do. Could you take me to the drugstore?"
He gave her a strange look. "I hope there's nothing wrong with you."
When they arrived at the drugstore, Raieyana tried to convince Reno to wait for her outside. "No," he said, "too dangerous. If you're recognized from seven years ago...or as a friend of Reeve's...hey, shit happens. I won't be embarrassed by anything you have to buy. Hell, I'll even pay for it." He was surprised, however, when she bypassed the feminine products aisle and went towards the back of the store. He looked at the shelves around him. (Condoms? No wonder she didn't want me following her.)
Raieyana followed his stare and blushed when she saw what his attention was focused on. (He thinks I...) She left him gawking at the contraceptives and quickly chose one of the e.p.t.'s from the shelf above them. She quickly headed to pay for it.
Reno didn't catch up with her until she was going through the exit. "Hey, don't be embarrassed. It's not like I've never had to buy condoms before. What kind did you get, huh? Are they a nice color?" He grabbed her bag from her and looked into it. "It didn't take you and Reeve very long to get back into the swing of things, did it?"
"Just...just...you don't what you're talking about. You don't understand." Raieyana snatched the bag back and swiftly started to walk away.
"Wait," Reno said, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you cry."
She wiped a tear from her eye. "I'm not crying," she said stubbornly, "and you're not sorry. You don't give a damn about anyone. You insult me, you insult Reeve, and even though she deserves it, you insult Lavana. And he...Reeve left me with...you, of all people! And after what happened."
They had reached Reno's place. He unlocked the door and they walked in. "Look, Raieyana," he said, "I don't want to know what that thing tells you. Whatever it is, it's your business and Reeve's. When I grabbed the bag, I wasn't expecting to find anything like that in there."
Silently, she went to take the pregnancy test. But Raieyana knew truly in her heart what the result would be. She was pregnant with Cloud Strife's child. A child that, more likely than not, would truly be a monster. Why had the voice in her dream warned her? And how many more of the things she has seen while dreaming would become reality?
* * * * * * * * * * * *
All emotion had left her. She was an empty vessel, made only for the purposes of a sadistic god. A thousand trials were not enough for this ungrateful deity. (How much humility do I have to show to this terrible being? If there was an omnipotent god, I would not need to have gone through any of this torture. Create an apocalyptic being from dust. Why did you need me?) Raieyana flung the pregnancy test across the bathroom which she had locked herself in twenty minutes ago. (Two lines if you're pregnant; one line if you're not. There should be another classification: three lines if you're carrying the child of a psycho-lunatic, and you're the daughter of another psycho-lunatic, and your sister turned into a psycho-lunatic.)
She heard a light knock on the door. "Raieyana, how're ya doin' in there? You okay?"
She opened the door and stared Reno in the face. "Just peachy. Call Reeve. I want to talk to Reeve."
"I can't," said Reno, "he'll bitch me out. 'Sides, you should tell him the news in person. Can't tell your lover that you're pregnant over the phone."
"Please. I have to talk to someone who knows about this...whole situation."
Reno scratched his head. "Whole situation? Tell me, I won't say anything stupid, I promise. It'll make you feel better."
They were interrupted by a harsh rapping at the door. Reno looked through the peephole. "Hey, you. Come on in. It's funny, last time I saw you I wanted to beat your ass and..." Raieyana paled as Cloud Strife walked into the room and stood before her.
"So what's new?" he asked.
She looked at him. "I think you know."
"Raieyana, sometimes I lose self-control and blank out. The only thing I remember for sure about that night was...the last words I said to you...and Reeve throwing me out the room."
"That's easy for you to say, I have to live with it."
He cut her off. "I have to live with myself, and that's a hundred times worse. Now tell me, Raieyana, for the love of God, what the hell did I do that was so fucking awful?"
"Think," she said, "think about the worst crime ever committed...what you did was worse."
"It was just one time...you never have to do it again, forget about it."
She shook her head. "One time? One time? Every time I look at your baby I'm going to see that one time. And every flutter I feel until then will remind me of your cold touch. And every time I hear that child's voice I'm going to remember your voice as it taunted me. One time. I'd rather you'd have killed me."
"It's not like I have no remorse. But I cannot change what happened. I...I didn't want it to happen. But it...it's always there...and... My child? It's a little too soon to know about that, isn't it?"
"Somehow I think that's what that night was all about. Not pent-up feelings of any kind. Whatever caused it to happen received the pleasure of seeing me humiliated and will watch me suffer for the rest of my life. Why did you come here? To rub it in? If Reeve finds out you came, you won't see another sunrise. And he will know, when I see him tonight. You better leave while you still enjoy the exquisite ecstasy of breathing."
"If Reeve attacks me," Cloud said, "he'll have it on his conscience. I threw my sword into the sea. I will not perform any more violence. I'm sorry I didn't see the error in my ways in time to save you from...this eternal pain. I'm sorry I broke from the force of this...rage again. But, just remember...I saved the world from Sephiroth."
"Who'll save the world from you, Cloud? Who'll save the world from you?" Raieyana was all too glad to see him go. Too glad.
"Should I ask what all that was about? Or would I draw the wrong conclusions?"
Raieyana looked at Reno, and shrugged.
"Well," he continued, "correct me when I'm wrong. You're pregnant, Cloud is...the father, and from the sound of things...you didn't have much choice in the matter."
"He raped me in my own bed," she said matter-of-factly.
"If it were me," he said, "I would have killed him the instant he stepped through that door. The instant."
"You're not me. I've seen enough people die in my time. I couldn't bear to cause another death." She checked the clock. 4:30 P.M. (Reeve will be coming soon. A day has never been so long.)
Reno's cell phone rang, almost as an answer to her thoughts. "Hello. Yes, this is Jack. What? God, that sucks ass. Are you sure? She won't want to hear that. It's gonna make her cry. This hasn't been the best day. Fine. Yeah, I'll see you whenever. Bye." He looked at Raieyana. "That was Reeve. He's not getting off tonight. He wants you to spend the night here, for safety's sake. And with Strife loose in Junon, I agree with him you'll be safer here."
"I'm so tired," she said, "I just want to sleep now. Even though it is early. Sleep until I wake up and realize that this nightmare of a day is finally over."
Reno led her to his spare bedroom. It was decorated with lace curtains and a pretty velour bedspread. She gave him a questioning look. "My mom visits once a year. She sleeps here. No biggie."
Raieyana walked over to the window. "Boy, the sunset looks funny. Glowing...almost flaming. Strange. Well... 'Night, Jack Reno."
Reno walked out to the living room and turned on the television. (Poor kid. She has gotten the short end of the stick more than once. But she hardly shows it. Except for that one time she cried, she has kept an absolute cool. She was doing the "Tseng" thing. He never showed his feelings, either. He handled Aeris Gainsborough in a completely professional manner, even though he was in love with her. And his daughter is so beautiful. If she were with anyone else but Reeve...)
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Lavana entered the lobby of the Shinra building, and went right up to the counter. "I'm here to see Laida Quinn," she said.
The Soldier on duty checked his lists. "What's your name?"
She straightened her shoulders. "Lavana Earlham."
He checked off her name. "Go right up. Ms. Quinn's been waiting for you." She sauntered over to the elevator.
Lavana got off at the thirty-second floor.
"Lavana, so you did get out of Junon." Laida motioned towards a chair. "Have a seat. My agents in Junon were supposed to set the fire at about...five o'clock. From my monitors, I can see they were successful. And the winds are blowing straight towards the Alcor building. We've got some damn good luck."
Lavana shrugged. "I don't care; I just want to get paid. And I hope you haven't forgotten about my bonus."
Laida smiled. "Don't worry. You'll have full access to Reeve when we have him in custody. We'll even allow you to make him an offer he can't refuse."
"All I want," said Lavana, "is full control over him for a moment, at least. After I have my time, you can do whatever the hell you want with him. He's just another conquest to me."
What about your other pursuit?" asked Laida.
Lavana laughed. "That egg is almost cracked."
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