Reunion Chapter 24

By Janet Monstwillo

Reeve paced back and forth in his office. (What do I do? I mean, I should probably tell Reno what's going on right now. I should probably be telling him right now. But does he have any right, any right at all to know what's going on here?) He looked at the PHS, where he had slammed it down in frustration after Raieyana's call. (I should be there, damn it anyway, and it's his fault that I'm not there. He doesn't trust me and he damn well shouldn't. Because I'm willing to do whatever it takes.)

Reno walked into Reeve's office. "Who was on the phone, Reeve?" he asked.

Reeve broke eye contact first. "Ray. She's in labor."

"Shit, man, then what the hell are you waiting for? I gotta get over there, I--"

"Reno, we're both staying here."

"Huh? Are you nuts? She needs somebody right now. I know you wouldn't let me go alone, but--"

Reeve nodded. "And we can't both leave, so we'll both stay. Raieyana's in no danger, she'll just be alone right now. I can't say it's my fault."

"Don't blame me for this."

"Didn't say I did."

"Reeve, you implied. But I can't say that it's my fault you're such a stubborn sonofa... I don't understand why you would want to leave the job now, anyway. You didn't leave the first time, did you? What's different now?"


"Nothing, because if you cared, you'd be breaking the fucking door down trying to get over there. If you thought about her first and yourself second for once, she'd have a hand to hold when she went through it all this time. Well, not me, because you'll have to put a bullet in my brain before you can keep me from going to her. And if you do, you'll really have to explain your actions to her this time. Or maybe she'll eat up your excuses now like she did for the last crime you committed."

"Reno, what are you talking about?"

Reno put on his leather jacket. "I'm leaving. You can stay in this damn city for all the hell I care." He turned to leave and found himself face-to-face with Elena.

"Reeve, Reno," she said, "we have some major problems on our hands. Major problems."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Laida was confused. "I don't understand, Lucas. Why pull the Gens out now and attack Junon?"

Lucas took off his glasses and massaged his temples. "It's simple, Laida. We were getting nowhere holding the Highwind at stalemate. The other group has found nothing of Raieyana Amine. So we go to the head base of the Anti-Shinra coalition, and using our inside information, extract the head guys there, who know where Raieyana is, and who have contact with our enemies on the Airship. Two birds with one stone. Or should I say more, Lavana? If what you say is true..."

"It's absolutely certain, Luke," Lavana assured him, "Raieyana had two children with Reeve Jordan. If the children aren't with him, then they're wherever she is."

"And there is where my plan is so brilliant. I will have everything I want, at very little cost to myself. We saw Junon's defenses during that whole 'fire incident.' Their defenses suck. The Gens will easily plow through them. Here's the greatest part: we have Reno and Reeve give themselves over as prisoners in return for Junon's 'safety.' We occupy Junon, torture the prisoners for information, and we win. It's a win-win situation, because if they refuse, we attack Junon, take them as prisoners, occupy Junon, and torture the prisoners for information. Bottom line: we win."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Cloud stared at the blue-green glow in front of him. (The Lifestream. Here is where I will get all my answers.) He knew he would be able to find some open place between the Lifestream and the surface, here, in the Nibel mountains. He stepped slowly towards it, and he placed his hands cautiously in the flow of the Lifestream. Then he slowly entered.

("Here is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega. All the answers, all the questions are here, though maybe not in the proper order. You seek the answers for your questions, here. Isn't that right, Cloud?"

I doubt that anyone or anything can answer all of my questions. But they all combine into this one... Tell me, why am I the way I am?

"I could explain Hojo's experiments to you again. But that is not what you want to know. You want to know what force has hold of you, and what is it that makes you do these intolerable acts for which you condemn yourself. But why do you condemn yourself?"

Because of the evil things I have done. I...I am ashamed of my actions.

"Someday you will understand that you are not condemned for the things you do that are decided by destiny. I thought that I was very evil, but...I see now that all I did was what I was born to do."

So you are saying I was born to be a criminal?

"No, I am saying you are what you are, and you cannot change that. What happens, will happen and you have little control over the things which destiny has declared for you. I'm not saying that there isn't free will on the path of any person's life. Free will doesn't change the actions; free will reshapes the actions."

I have no control over myself. I do not see where free will comes into play.

"Then I will give you examples. If Sephiroth hadn't killed Aeris, something else would have come into play so she would have died. So she would have fulfilled her destiny. If Raieyana hadn't left me in the Northern cave when it collapsed, if she had taken me with her, something else would have happened to me so I could fulfill my destiny. I don't know if I would have died. Eventually, I probably would have, for this is probably part of my destiny..."

Then, Ishmael, are you saying that...that the things that didn't happen...weren't meant to be? That they never could have happened?

"If I knew the answer to that, I wouldn't... I just don't know."

How come it is that I can talk to you like this, and not Aeris? Bugenhagen said there were exceptions, that not every spirit is assimilated into the Lifestream. And that's why you're here. So is she, is she...

"No, she's not gone. As long as something holds her to the Planet, she is not gone. She's still here."

She's here...

"Yes, Cloud, she's still here. And until you let her go, she'll never be able to go to the Promised Land. Speak with her. Let her be free."

And you're here. Is it because you are held back?

"I wish it were. But this is just simply my destiny. But I will be there, soon. Don't worry about me. Go and talk to Aeris..."

Aeris...I have waited for this for a long time.

"Waited for what?"

To see your face, to hear your voice. It's been such a long time.

"What happiness can this bring you? How can this be what you wanted? I am just a shade of who I was. I can't laugh, I can't cry. You can't touch me. You would barely know who I am, what I am. You didn't want it to be like this. I didn't want it to be like this."

This is better than nothing. Maybe I could never have had what I wanted, so let me have this...

"One more faded memory? Why can't you remember me like I was? Why can't you remember me like I was when I was alive? Why couldn't you just let it be and let it be enough?"

Because it's not enough. I wanted to hold you, to tell you what I never got the chance to. I wanted to give you a second chance. Okay, I'll confess, I did beat up Raieyana seven years ago because I thought if I could get the materia she had, then I had a chance to bring you back. I would have done anything, I still would do anything.

"Even if you had, Cloud, even if you'd brought me back, it wouldn't have been right. It wouldn't have been what you wanted. It would have been something ugly and disfigured."

You would have been alive, Aeris.

"I swear, Cloud, you wouldn't have known who I was. You would have destroyed all of our memories."

Am I destroying them now?

"It hurts me every day to see you in pain. If this helps you, it will make me happy enough. Does that answer your question?"

I will never have peace. I will never be happy with myself. What am I supposed to do? The only hope I ever had was you. Seeing you again. What do I have left now? Last time I tried to remember, I couldn't see your face. It's been over eight years, Aeris. I can't continue anymore like this, without you.

"But he will need you. Sephiroth didn't have a father, and that is what destroyed him."

My child? He would be better not knowing me.

"I do not know if he will know you, but I know you will be the one to save him."

How much can you see?

"I can't see very much of what is to be, but I can look back at my past. And I do know when the time will come, and you can be with me."

Will it be very long?

"No time is a long time compared with eternity. I think the time will come and you might have wanted a little longer. But then everyone wishes that they could have had a little longer."

Even you?

"Especially me."

I understand now. I didn't know that my search for you held you here, away from the Promised Land. I can't forget you, though.

"You don't need to. Just accept my destiny, accept your destiny..."

I will...)

"I will...Aeris, I promise." Cloud awoke on the floor of the cave. He got up and started to return to the Airship. He had a feeling that they wouldn't be stuck in the mountains much longer.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"There you are, Cloud," said Cid, "I was beginning to wonder whether or not we needed to go out and search for you. Where the hell have you been?"

Cloud shrugged. "Nowhere."

Barret shook his fist. "Well, while you were out doing hell knows what, those Gens just picked up their sorry little asses and runned away."

"They've had us hostage here for months, Barret," said Tifa, "even though they ran away, I still wouldn't call their asses sorry or little. But at least we can get away now."

"What is it's a trap?"

"Cloud, it's not a trap. They wouldn't have left after all this time unless they had received other orders. If they'd wanted to trap us, you'd think they would have tried the 'fake retreat' thing before three months had gone by. And remember, they tried to before, about a week after we got here. We can get away and help Vincent and the others in Costa Del Sol. So let's do it."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The voice coming from the helicopter was terse and demanding. "I repeat, if the two citizens Reeve Jordan and Jack Reno allow themselves to be taken into our custody, our forces will leave the Junon area immediately. They will not be harmed in any way. If our gracious offer is refused, we will have no choice but to enter the city and take it by force."

Elena glanced between Reeve and Reno. "I don't think they're bluffing. About fifteen minutes ago, the chief of police called and told me that Reeve's house outside the city had been broken into and completely sacked. But I just don't understand why they'd do all this, now..."

Reeve sighed. "It's plain and simple, Elena. They've gotten nowhere with all their other methods. They've destroyed this city, kidnapped Raieyana, and still they haven't destroyed this company or gotten their hands on Raieyana. They figure we know where she is, and they're right. The whole 'sparing Junon' promise is a ploy to get us to hand ourselves over. And it's a good plot. People should be coming here in an angry mob just about now to demand we hand ourselves over."

"Why? You both were excellent leaders during the fire. These people haven't forgotten the treachery of Shinra. Duh, they know Shinra set the fire six months ago. They won't... What's that noise?" Elena walked over to the window. "People really don't have any loyalty, do they?"

"What do we do now, Jack?"

"What can we do?"

Elena slammed her hand on Reeve's desk. "You two are not seriously considering handing yourselves over to them, are you?"

Reno took her hand. "Elena, don't you understand that either way, they destroy Junon, they destroy Alcor, and they take us hostage? If we go through this charade of surrender, then they'll partially go through their charade of withdrawal. To trick the people here completely."

"Elena, don't you understand that this is the only way to buy you enough time to get out of this city and warn Raieyana?" asked Reeve.

She shook her head. "I'm not running away. I can't leave."

"Elena," said Reno, "we can't call her on the PHS, they're going to be intercepting all communication connections. You know that they can listen in on our conversations. You know they have the technology. Neither Reeve nor I trust that we can keep Raieyana's location a secret under torture. We need you to escape so you can help her get away. We can't let them succeed."

"I don't understand. Aren't you letting them succeed?"

"No, Elena. We're letting them think they succeed." Reeve smiled weakly. "There is a small difference, although it doesn't change much for us. Let's go, Reno."

Reno stood up. "We've been through a lot Elena, and I hope this isn't it for either of us. The helicopters are on the roof, I know you can fly one. Yorlain will hold camp down here. I've told him what to do. No matter what happens Elena, remember that you're a Turk. That's an order."

She nodded. Reeve and Reno turned to leave. "Wait. I just want you to know that they're not going to get her. I swear to you, I'll keep them from her until my dying breath. I promise you won't be doing this for nothing."

Reno raised an eyebrow. "So I guess you've finally gotten over your petty little hatred for her. That's wonderful."

Elena shook her head. "She never deserved my hatred. I know that I was a bitch before."

"At least you figured it out in time to change. Take care, Elena," said Reeve, softly shutting the door behind himself.

Elena carefully turned on the television. She saw live news coverage of the crowd cheering as Reeve and Reno were taken into Shinra custody. "Those bastards," she swore, "they deserve to be taken over by the Shinra. Those damn bastards! I promise, I'll come back and win Junon back for you, Reno. For the Turks. And I'll save Raieyana. Maybe not because she's my most favorite person in the world, but..." Her words trailed off as she realized she had been talking to herself. (...I'll save her for Tseng's sake. And for yours. Reno.)


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