Reunion Chapter 4

By Janet Monstwillo

Raieyana checked on Ishmael and Aeris before heading to bed. (Asleep. And so peacefully, too.) She had startled herself with her reaction to Reeve's words. (He wants a life with you, Ray. With you--still. And you...I'm just pushing him away again. Because I'm too proud--because I think that I'm so strong that I don't need anyone. Ever.) She slowly started changing into a T-shirt and a pair of flannel pajama pants. Then she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. (The collarbone is extremely pronounced, the shoulder blades and ribcage easily seen...and I think I'm strong?) Raieyana shuddered involuntarily. (I'm weaker than someone on the verge of death. Because I'm having delusions that I am so strong. But I'm not. And that could kill me. More easily than Sephiroth ever could have.)

The funny thing was, in the conversation, she could tell that Reeve had anticipated her self-reliant stance towards their relationship, or lack of such. There was no suspicion of her own personal motives in the fact that he had been misled to come a day earlier than the others. (Maybe I could have tried harder to tell him...but then, maybe a chance to break the news alone was what I wanted, deep down inside. After all, "Hi, how's it been? By the way, you have two six-year old kids..." is not the way to break the ice of seven years of silence.) She climbed into bed and lay down. She closed her eyes as the rush of emotions overcame her. (He's here, just right next, after all this time...) She clutched her blanket and pulled it tighter around herself. (He's here, from way back when...when he used to hold me...when he loved me...)

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

The voice held her. Back from what seemed like a thousand years, and it still held her, now. The voice which she had believed belonged to Sephiroth, and that was now grasping at her like a blind man stumbling in his unique darkness... And it hurt, and threatened, narrating a web of horrible tales as it spoke of the future. Her future.

"It all comes down to power," it said, "power and the desire for power. The craving that leads the men who are able to handle it, and some who are unable to handle it, to search for it. And although few find it, the hunt destroys those lost along the way. Those who find this precious power, those worthy of it, become their own end through it. Some find their end through the very means used to accomplish their goals. Who alter their physical being, on account of their enslavement to this desire, for power. They have had use of the power without paying the price set for it. If you take out a loan for ten thousand gil, eventually you must pay it back. If you take out a loan from the physical world for physical power, you must pay it back. But if you have nothing remaining in the physical world, perhaps this debt is paid from the spiritual frame...

"Do no pity the Soldiers in suffering now for their desire of power in the past. They have reaped the rewards, and now must pay back that which is owed. Everyone has this desire for power: me, Reeve, Cloud, all those former Soldiers, and even you yourself. Some of us overcome the desire. Some aren't allowed to fulfill their desire. Some are given the power as a birthright. Most of them squander it and pay dearly in the next plane. A few have payback in the physical realm, suddenly losing the gift that they were born with. And those given the Mako, Jenova, for strength and excellence, will find out the penalty may be unbearable. But those born of strong body, will, and mind will pass through the fire, but not unscathed, and pay their debt to power... And what of you? See your future through my eyes..."

Raieyana pulled suddenly from the abyss of her dream. She closed her eyes, as if to ward of the flashes of scenes of horror that she had seen. (I am...I am in all of them. What price do I have to pay? I've been murdered, beaten, seen most of the people whom I love die, yet still I have a debt to whatever decided in the beginning to give me physical power? And what now? I'm weak, frail, closer to death now than I was moments after I returned to life. But I owe? Why, because some scientist created me in his twisted image of a human woman? He is dead, he died quickly, and I will be penalized for his lack of foresight? He tried to bring me above humanity; will that attempt drag me below humanity, into the agony of those sick men? And other good people, too, like Cloud, Legolas, and Vincent? My children, my innocent children?) Raieyana tried to hold back tears as she thought of her plight, and that of her children. (What is going to happen to us? And whose fault is it? But most importantly, can it be stopped?)

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

Morning brought more visitors to Lia and Legolas' house. First to arrive were Yuffie, Vincent, and their three kids: Kati, 7; Sean, 5; and Azura, 2.

"I'm sorry, but we had to bring them along," Vincent apologized, "I wasn't about to leave them alone in the care of Godo."

Yuffie glared at him. "He is my father, you know." Vincent shook his head. "He's drunker than Cid, and you know it!"

Lia smiled. "It's okay, I can get someone to watch all the kids. But first, meet Danny." She softly coaxed Danny out of his hiding spot behind her. She glanced around. "Hey Reeve," she said, "go find Ray and her kids, would you?"

He nodded, but the words cut him like a knife. (She said go find Ray and her kids. Her kids. Not your kids. Because they're not mine. As of now.) He went to find Raieyana and her kids.

"So how is Raieyana doing?" asked Yuffie in a low voice. Yuffie and Vincent were the only ones in the group who had remained in close contact with those in Undor-Hai except for Ruther.

Lia shrugged. "She's getting stronger...but she's still not well. At least not as well as she thinks herself to be, at any rate. I'm afraid for her. Especially now that these Soldiers are having all these problems. Afraid for her, her kids, and, of course, Legolas and Danny."

"I have often wondered," said Vincent, "whether or not Hojo's alteration of people's physical states would have any adverse effects. I just hope it's not too late to prevent them from happening to everyone who has been changed."

"Hello." Everyone looked up and saw Raieyana.

"Hi," said Yuffie. (Raieyana, girl, you're still so painfully thin... It scares me.)

"Hello," Vincent said. (She is so weak now. And there was Hojo's attempt to make her super-strong. But it did not prevent this. Soon, she may be plagued also by the side-effects of Hojo's rashness.)

"Awww, your kids are so cute," Raieyana said.

Yuffie shook her head. "These little monsters? Come on," she said, "so are yours. Cute to the extreme." She cast a side-long glance at Reeve. (They take after their parents... I wonder if he knows.) She caught the pained look on his face when he looked at Aeris and Ishmael. (He knows.)

The group was interrupted by the outcry of a very familiar voice.

"I don't got no invitation! Don't need one, 'cause I organized the meeting! And if you don't get your white ass up there and tell Lia or Raieyana that I'm here, I'll help it out, if you know what I mean!"

Lia's eyes opened wide. "Be right back," she said, then hurried outside to see what problem Barret was having.

"Lia," wavered Tonia's frightened voice, "I tried to tell him you said..." She was close to tears.

Barret showed no sympathy, however. "I ain't comin' to take over the joint, and that's so damn obvious! Hell, I have my daughter with me! Tell her, Marlene! Marlene?"

Marlene emerged from behind a tree. "God, Dad, why are you always embarrassing me? She's just doing her job, and, like, could you use language that was any more profane?"

Lia intervened. "Look, Tonia. Be on the lookout for a few more people. Let them up without such a hassle. Barret," she said, addressing him, "she's just doing what I told her. Remember, it's not so easy to get up here. I mean, I threatened you all the first time you came up the trail. Finally, Marlene, he could use more profane language. I know from experience."

"So," said Barret, climbing up, "who all's here?"

"Only Reeve, Vincent, and Yuffie. Well, and their kids..."

"Whose?" asked Barret, confused.

"Just come in and you'll find out," she said simply. (I have no idea what the hell Ray and Reeve are going to tell people about their kids, but I'm not going to screw up and say something that they don't want me to.)


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