The Second Incarnation Part 7
The Princess and the Pea
By Shelly Ichishita
Yuffie and the two girls walked into the bedroom. "It's not much but the beds are really soft and comfy." Yuffie reached out and fluffed a pillow. "If you have any trouble just let me know, alright?" without waiting for either girl to respond the ninja rushed out of the room.
The girls stared at each other, seemingly fascinated by their similar appearance. "So what do we do now?" the first one asked.
"I think that the first thing we should do is introduce ourselves to each other. How about it?" the second girl suggested. "Oh and thank you for healing me."
The first girl sat on one of the beds. "I don't know."
"You don't know about what?" the other girl tilted her head and sat on the other bed.
"I don't know my name so I really can't introduce myself."
"Well I don't know my name for sure either, so lets just give each other names. That way everybody will be able to distinguish us."
"That sounds like a good idea. I'll go first. How does Nia sound to you?"
"Sounds good. How about Ellie for you?" responded the newly named Nia.
"That's a nice name, how did you come up with it?" asked Ellie, curious about her new name.
"I don't know, it was just something floating around in my head." Nia replied.
"Maybe it's your name." Ellie suggested.
"No, I think it must have been someone I knew though."
"Same here." Ellie exclaimed. "Maybe we have more in common than just stunning good looks."
Nia laughed mirthfully. She really couldn't remember the last time she had genuinely laughed but it felt good. Like some sort of release. The girls began to get settled in the beds. "So how did we end up here? Do you know those people?"
Ellie lifted her head from the pillow. "Not at all. I was in the inn looking for the owner when these two guys practically jumped at me! At first I was a little scared but then I realized that they meant no harm so I went with them. That may sound a little strange to you but its just that I'm really eager to find out who I am and they seemed to recognize me." Ellie sat up to face Nia. "So what's your story?"
"Well, I've been traveling trying to piece together who I am and I had just got here when I met up with the red lion and the ninja on the beach. I've been getting awful headaches and I was trying to get some fresh air when they came up to me. I blacked out and the next thing I know you're standing over me completing the pulse of life."
Ellie looked at Nia in shock. "And here I was thinking I was the only one..."
"That's what I thought when I saw you." Nia said. "You know I'd hate to impose on this group's hospitality but I really could use something to eat. Are you hungry too?"
"Actually I'm famished." Ellie began to get up off the bed. "That ninja girl was right. These beds are soo comfy." She extended a hand to Nia. "Let's ask if we could get a little snack. I'm sure that they don't intend to starve us."
Nia and Ellie started to walk towards the living room when they heard the group deep in discussion.
"Look I just think that it'd be prudent to exercise some caution." A man's voice said. Just then everyone noticed the girls standing in the hall.
"Sorry to interrupt you but we were wondering if we could get a snack?" Nia looked Cloud in the eye. "We don't want to be a bother but we're both very hungry."
"You aren't interrupting anything. I'm sorry we didn't get you something sooner." Cloud said apologetically. "After all we practically kidnapped you." Cloud got up from the couch. "Shera made some refreshments, why don't you sit down and enjoy." Cloud looked at the others and said in a sterner voice; "We'll continue this later."
"Thank you very much." Ellie and Nia both reached for the sandwiches Shera had made from the leftover crab. Cloud motioned for the girls to sit and they sat on the red couch that he had previously occupied. They both took a bite of their sandwiches. "Oh, this is heavenly." Ellie cried out.
"Umm, it really is." Nia noted.
Tifa poured them each a glass of pink lemonade. "I think that we should introduce ourselves." She said. "I'm Tifa Lockheart."
Cloud smiled and extended his hand. "The name's Cloud."
Nia reached out and shook his hand. Cloud felt a charge rush through him, almost like an electrical current. They released each other's hands and sat back, both looking a little surprised.
"I'm Barret." He waved his gun arm and grinned. Wait 'til Elmira sees this; he thought.
"I'm Yuffie, the greatest ninja ever!" Yuffie shouted. She jumped up with her arms extended. "I am invincible." She stated in an incredibly phony Russian accent.
Nanaki rolled his eyes. "And I am Nanaki, son of Seto, protector of Cosmo Canyon. My friends call me Red."
Ellie jumped a little, taken aback by Nanaki's voice. Nia smiled, she remembered how shocked she had been when he had approached her on the beach.
"Cid Highwind here, and this is Shera." He put an arm around her. "She's the best engineer on the whole damn planet." Shera looked at him in shock. "Well you are." Cid told her. Shera smiled and gave him a kiss.
Ellie looked at them and smiled. In between bites of her sandwich she found the opportunity to speak. "You've all introduced yourselves. We'd like to do so also." She said indicating herself and Nia. "We really don't remember the names we were born with so we named each other. I'm Ellie."
Nia continued. "And I'm Nia."
"It's good that you decided on names." Cloud said. "After all we couldn't keep calling both of you Aeris."
"Aeris?" Nia said the name aloud, wondering why it sounded so familiar.
"She was our friend." Tifa replied to the unasked question.
"So that's why we're here." Ellie stated. "Where is she now?"
They uttered a collective sigh; "Aeris is dead." Barret told them.
"I'm sorry." Ellie apologized. "I should have realized."
Nia spoke up; "I think it'd be in everyone's best interests if we were to leave. We're probably just dredging up old emotions just by siting here." She looked directly at Ellie as she finished speaking. "Traveling won't be as bad now that I have a name."
Ellie smiled. "Don't forget that you have a friend now too."
"Why don't you two stay here for awhile until you get everything worked out?" Tifa suggested. "We're supposed to meet some friends in Midgar next week so you can have the villa to yourselves then."
Ellie stood up with a start. "Midgar? But Midgar is extremely dangerous! They aren't even going to try to rebuild the city because of all the tremors."
Cid and Shera exchanged a look. Shera began to speak, "Actually most of Midgar is structurally sound. That was just the official reasoning for avoiding reconstruction. You see, without mako energy it would cost over 180 billion gil to rebuild and the only people who had that kind of money was Shinra.
"We'll only be there a short while." Barret added. "My daughter needs to get back to school soon so we'll be going to Kalm from there."
"Thanks for the offer and the sandwiches." Ellie looked over at Nia and nodded. "I think we'll take you up on it. But I'm going to turn in for the night now, if that's alright with everyone."
Nia smiled. "Thanks from me too." She stood and brushed off her dress. "Is there somewhere I can get freshened up?"
Tifa got up. "I'll show you to the bathroom. You two can borrow some of my clothes while we wash the ones you're wearing."
"That's okay." Ellie said. "I have some extra clothes."
The four girls started towards the room.
"Yuffie, Tifa." Cloud called after them.
"Could you come back after you get Nia and Ellie settled?"
Tifa nodded and they continued down the hall. When everyone in the living room was out of earshot Nia turned toward Tifa and asked; "Tifa, I'm sorry to ask you this but what's the background on 'Aeris'? I'd really like to know if it's connected to me and Ellie."
"She was supposed to be the last of the ancients. She gave her life to save the earth." Tifa replied in a pensive voice. "Aeris was murdered about a month ago. We'd better get inside the room if I'm going to tell you what happened."
While Tifa was relating Aeris' story to Nia and Ellie in the bedroom, Cloud and the others were discussing the girl's true identities. Cid and Barret were starring at Cloud with a puzzled expression on their faces. "I don't understand Cloud, you wanted Aeris back didn't you?" Cid was truly dumfounded.
Cloud was very quiet. "I don't know how to explain it but I just have a feeling that something's not quite legit, and I trust my instincts."
Nanaki spoke up. "That may be so Cloud, but you have to remember that there is a possibility that one of the two is Aeris. I mean look at their choice of names."
Cid interrupted. "What about their names? I think Ellie and Nia are both pretty common names, why once I dated these twins..." Cid trailed off when he realized that Shera was glaring at him. He started to sweat. "That was way before you came into my life sugar." Shera smiled and shrugged and Cid let out a huge sigh of relief.
"I can't believe you Cid." Barret commented. "You ain't been going out for more than a month and already you're whipped!" Shera gave Barret a hard stare. He stammered; "not that Shera isn't worth it, she's a pearl, a real doll. You should hang on to her!"
Red and Cloud were practically rolling on the ground laughing. Finally they got up off the ground. "Shera, you've got to show me how to do that. Anything that can shut up those guys is worth Barret's weight in mithril."
"Very funny Cloud." Cid looked like his pride had just been split apart like a piñata. "I was just saying that I didn't see anything remarkable about the names Nia and Ellie."
"I'll explain." Nanaki crouched by the coffee table. His eyes started to glaze over and his voice became deeper and more serious. "While Hojo was holding me captive I remember his assistants dissecting a rotting corpse. Hojo came into the room and started to laugh. He walked over to the body and whispered; 'I wonder what Gast would think about his precious Nia now.' His lips were touching the cadaver's ear and he was stroking its slimy cheek with his hand!" Red shuddered. "I believe that Nia was Professor Gast's nickname for Ilfana. Aeris would have heard her father calling her mother that."
"And Ellie is Elmira's nickname!" Barret said, catching on to Red's theory.
"But that still doesn't prove anything." Cloud argued. He looked at Nanaki; "and you said that Hojo called the body Nia. That could have been his nickname for Aeris' mother for all we know."
Shera spoke up. "Why don't we just see who can handle the Princess Guard? That'd prove their identities without a doubt."
Nanaki nodded. "Yes, the Princess Guard was made especially for Aeris. It will work for no other."
"Okay that's a good idea, but how do we implement it?" Cloud asked.
Shera's face fell. "You're right. We can't exactly ask them to hold a weapon for no reason."
"Why don't we just tell them that we want to be sure that they can protect themselves when they leave on their own?"
"That's a very good idea sweetheart." Shera cooed.
Barret rolled his eyes toward the ceiling and Red started to make a gagging sound.
Cloud gave them a look and shrugged. "Okay so it's settled." He looked towards the bedroom. "What's taking Yuffie and Tifa so long?" He stood up and started to pace. "Why don't you guys go to bed? I'll stay here and fill Yuffie and Tifa in on our plan."
"Alright." Barret smiled and slapped Cloud on the back. "Don't stay up too late 'kay?"
"Yeah Pops, don't worry about me." Cloud replied, then he ducked to avoid Barret's fist.
Barret, Cid and Shera headed down the stairs. Cloud turned to see Nanaki. "I think I'll stay and keep you company." Nanaki said in answer to Cloud's questioning look. "I also think that we have to talk." He added.
"Okay by me Red. What do you want to talk about?" Cloud scratched his head and sat down on the red couch.
Red moved closer. "I just wanted to know what's going on with you and Tifa. You've been acting real strange towards her since Ellie and Nia appeared."
Go To Part 8
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