Reunion Chapter 28

By Janet Monstwillo

"Aunt Lia, when’s Mommy coming home? When can we go to Daddy’s office again?"

Lia looked at Aeris with a pained expression. "Aeris, can’t you see I’m busy right now? Your mommy is safe and so is your daddy." (I hope.)

"Where is she, Auntie Lia?" asked Ishmael, "is she going to the Re-un-ion?"

Tonia walked into Lia’s house. "Ma’am? All of our forces are safely on board the Alcor helicopters."

Lia sighed. "Thank you, Tonia. Have you seen Marlene?"

"She’s probably flirting with my fourteen-year-old brother again."

"She was supposed to have been back here an hour ago to baby-sit. Tell her that I’ll tell her father about that skinny-dipping incident if I can’t trust her to do what she’s supposed to do. For god’s sake, you’d think she was sixteen and horny, not twelve and ornery."

Tonia smiled. "Yes, ma’am."

"Stop that! I’m too young to be a ‘ma’am!’ Do I look old enough to you?"

"If you weren’t the leader, Lia... I can’t call you ‘miss,’ that would be like you were inferior to me... You do understand, right?"

"Of course I do, it’s just that...I’m worried, Tonia. I’m so scared."

She nodded. "I think we all are. We’ve never sent our warriors outside before."

"We’ve never needed to. Just remember this day, Tonia. The day we dared to show ourselves to the world because the world needed us. And because one day we might need the world."

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

"Can’t this Airship go any faster!"

"Raieyana, you sound like you’re looking forward to this," said Vincent, "I for one, dread having to confront Lucrecia."

"You won’t have to, Vincent, she’s dead." She looked at his shocked expression. "She was out of her mind, Vincent. Hojo’s experiments never prepared her for something as mind-revolving as this Reunion. Surely you must feel it, too."

"I just pushed it back and hoped I wasn’t going crazy."

"And you were allowed to push things back because you never got that close. Are you strong enough?"

"Raieyana, are you?"

She looked at Vincent. "Look at me. What is there that I’m not strong enough for? I used to be so afraid... There isn’t anything left that could hurt me. Nothing left to give me pain. I don’t fear death. Shelding and types like him feed off fear. Everything he does is out of fear. All this ‘experimenting?’ It stems from his fear of his own mortality."

"The reason some of us fear it is not for our own sake. It is because we are needed by others."

"Vincent, don’t you realize every day is a gift, and when your time is up, then everyone has to let you go? I’m not saying be apathetic and stupid and don’t defend yourself; I’m saying give life everything that you’ve got while you’ve got it, because it’s better to die young and have fought for what you believe in than to die at an old age and have been oppressed."

"It’s just...Raieyana. This could be the last time we talk. You...or I..."

"Don’t worry about me. I can’t die. This isn’t my time. I just feel it." She turned her face to the east. Midgar.

Vincent was silent. (I’m not afraid that something will happen to you. I just don’t know what will happen if the rest of us cannot keep control of ourselves.)

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

"Whoa, Camilla! Where’d you learn to fly one of these things?"

She laughed. "Silly Blake, while you all languished in Undor-Hai, I was on the outside getting my pilot’s license."

"Just in case?" asked Drake, raising an eyebrow.

"Of course. Sure is useful now, ain’t it? Where’s Quake?"

Blake and Drake exchanged glances.

"I see. Airsick. No biggie. You guys will be parachuting down into Edinborough in about five minutes."

"What about you," said Drake, "aren’t you coming?"

"No," she said, a gleam in her eye, "I get to drop bombs on the Mako reactors. Just remember, if there’s no call to retreat, I’ll pick you up on the shore at 1800 hours. Kick some Shinra ass! For Raieyana and Lia!"

Blake shook his head. "Never should’ve let you, of all people, on the outside. Next thing, you’ll be telling us about all the steaks you ate."

"Well, there was this one hamburger joint--what the hell are you doing? It’s almost time. Get ready!"

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

Lavana peered out the Gelnika window. "Laida, what’s that?"

Laida’s eyes widened. "They’re bombing Edinborough!"

"We have to go back!"

"We can’t!" Laida glanced at Lucas. "He’ll go nuts on you. On all of us."

Someone tugged at her shoulder. "Laida?"

"Yes, Martin?"

He lowered his voice to a whisper. "I just got a message over the radio. It’s the Gens. Junon’s forces weren’t as weak as Lucas estimated. Almost all of our Gens, weapons, everything--have been destroyed. There has also been an air raid on Edinborough--"

She waved her hand. "I know. I saw."

"--along with a massive ground assault. I have no idea where the hell we’re going, Laida, but there won’t be any Shinra left for us to go back to. So Lucas sure as hell better be leading us to the Promised Land, or I’m going to go get a position at Alcor."

"If you tell Lucas what you told me, he’ll kill you."

"Notice that I’m telling you."

"Why do you think I’d have mercy, Martin? Just because I enjoy the sex? You should know it wouldn’t be that hard to replace you...improve upon what I’ve got..."

"Laida, I’m telling you because you’re not a fucking lunatic."

"I know Martin, just a poor attempt on my part to joke. You know that. It’s just... Lucas did some experiment on himself...tried to turn himself into Hojo. I don’t know if it worked, or he just drove himself nuts. Either way, we’re all going to some little thing he calls the ‘Reunion.’" She paused and put her hands to her head. (Damn...another migraine...

"It’s almost time...RAIEYANA...")

She screamed and fainted.

"Laida..." Martin caught her in his arms.

"What’s going on?" asked Lucas, coming back to where they were sitting.

"I think...I don’t think she feels well...I’ll lay her down in the sleeping quarters."

"Be careful with her." (I wouldn’t want her to...

"miss the would be such a shame...")

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

"Is this seat taken?"

Tifa looked up into those blue eyes...those bright blue eyes... "No Cloud, go ahead. You’re not sick, are you? We’ll need you."

" least not motion sick, if that’s what you mean. I just don’t feel well."

"Is it the Reunion?"

He nodded. "I don’t hear a beckoning, or a just feels like occasionally a telephone conversation is switched on in my head. Between Hojo and Sephiroth and..." (I don’t want to say it when I’m not sure. I don’t hear Aeris’ voice. I don’t hear Raieyana’s voice. But I can feel their strength. I don’t know if they’re protecting me...or if they’re trying to stay Sephiroth and Hojo, keep them from our minds...from my mind.)

Tifa smiled sympathetically. "It must be hard. I guess I’m lucky." (What can I say? I don’t know what it feels like to have voices in my head. All I ever had, all I have, is my feelings, my emotions. They give me strength, they can make me weak, they can give me empathy...but not for this. Because I have no idea what this is.)

"Tifa, I’ve been stupid."

"What in the world are you talking about?"

"I pushed you away, I pushed everyone away. Because I couldn’t let go of the hope, that some way, somehow, I could bring Aeris back to me."

Tifa’s face fell a little. "Oh."

"But I’m sorry. I pretended not to hear your words, see your eyes. I never tried to see your love. I never tried to love you."

"Cloud," Tifa said, putting her hand on his shoulder. "Love isn’t something you try to do. It just happens. It’s better for both of us that you never pretended, never tried. We would have tried to make love where there wasn’t any. We would have ended up with what we started with. Nothing but good intentions."

"No, that’s not what I meant. I never tried to comprehend what I felt for you. It was just like, ‘There’s Tifa. She’s my friend. When she’s around, it’s good; when she’s not, it’s bad.’ I never tried to understand it more than that. But I realize now that I care about you, Tifa. I don’t know if I love you. But I hope you can let me try and figure out if I do or not."

"I don’t know if I can..."

"Tifa, please."

"Cloud, there was a time when I would have given you the world. I would have done anything to get you. That was a long time ago. I think I’m just finally starting to heal."

"I never wanted to make you unhappy."

"I know’s just... It’s not that I don’t still love you. I just don’t know if I’m willing to open myself up to so much hurt again. Besides, this isn’t the right time for any of us to make promises. We have no idea what the hell is going to happen to us out there."

"How far are we?"

"I can see the shore... We’re almost back...back to Midgar."


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