A Moment of Happiness Part 3

By Shiroi Ryu

"I want you and you," Hojo pointed to two strong-looking members of Shinra's Honor Guard. "Names," he commanded.

"Rive Layla!" shouted one, saluting.

"Cloud Strife!" shouted the other, also saluting.

"Good," Hojo nodded. "You are to come with me to…ah…retrieve someone." The two men nodded, and followed Hojo out to the compound gates.

Sephiroth lay in the darkened alley, thinking. He had learned so much today… He looked over at Briala, seemingly asleep, and noticed that his feelings for her had changed. She was no longer just his route to escape and knowledge, she was…something else. She had induced him to play earlier that day, after breaking the news to him about Lucrecia. What was it that she had called that game...? Oh yes, 'tag'. It had almost been, well, fun… Much better than an injection of mako anyway, even if it wasn't warrior work. And when she let him catch her, one time, she had put her arms around him, just briefly…a 'hug', she'd called it. He remembered hugs, though he'd never had one before…

"Lena," the silver-haired boy asked, "why is Professor Gast holding that woman…? Are they fighting?"

"No, you stupid child," she'd snapped. "It's called a 'hug'. The fools are hugging."

"Why don't I ever get hugged?" he asked.

"Because," she snarled, cuffing him so hard his head swam, "you don't need a hug." Then she slapped him for good measure. It stung, but he didn't cry. He'd learned long ago not to cry…

He growled softly. Lena… With time, he learned how to hate, and Lena had been the first to know. She'd died that night… He looked back over at Briala, so different form Lena, and everyone else at SOLDIER. She was like…Professor Gast… Yes, that was it. She was like the Professor, the man he'd come closest to calling 'father'… But what would he call Briala? Mother? Sister? No, there had to be something else…

Slowly, he got up, and went to lay down beside Briala. She stirred ever so slightly. Breathlessly, he wondered if she'd wake up. But, after a while, she settled down again. Lying next to her, he felt her magic stir in his veins. Awkwardly, he put his arms around her, and fell asleep.

Sephiroth woke before Briala did, and so helped her to her feet. As she put her tiny hand in his, he realized what he wanted to call her. "Wife," he said matter-of-factly.

"Huh?" she asked, bewildered.

"Never mind," he told her. His voice was still as cold and even as ever. He'd have to work on this emotion thing… "Before I go to kill Hojo, we will play one more game."

"Why?" she asked.

"Because!" he snapped. "I want to," he added, seeing the hurt look she got.

"All right," she nodded. "Which one?"

"Tag," he smiled.

"Hey!" Briala cried out as he caught her-again.

This is kind of fun, he thought. But, I have work to do. One more time, then I leave. He let her go, and she ran off again. He took off after her, and caught her easily, as he was much faster and stronger. "Gotcha," he said, trying to sound playful. It almost worked.

"Okay, let me go now,' she pleaded, laughing. But instead of letting her go, he turned her in his arms, and embraced her. "What…?" she asked, bewildered. He said nothing, but held her tighter, gently lowering his lips to hers. He new he needed to go, but this all felt so good compared to Hojo's abuse…

Suddenly, he sensed movement, but it was too late. The bullet caught Briala in the back. She let out a small moan of pain, and sagged in his arms.

"Briala!" he shouted her name. She looked up at him through quickly dimming eyes.

"Oh Sephiroth," she whispered, "I'm so sorry…" then the light faded from her eyes entirely, and she went limp. Gently, he stroked her face, then lay her down, scanning the alley for her killer. If he found them, they were so dead…

Hojo emerged, accompanied by two members of the Honor Guard, one of whom carried a gun. "You!" cried Sephiroth. "You did this, didn't you?!" Hojo nodded.

"Yes," he said. "To protect you. She was undoing all of your training..." Sephiroth had had it. How much more must he endure Hojo? Not any more, he decided. With a feral cry, he leapt at the nearest Guardsman, one with green eyes. The Masamune was in his hands, and then, through the throat of the Guard. The other Guard, who had blue eyes, and carried the gun, attacked him. He whirled, and caught the Guard, throwing him over his head, and into the alley wall. He stood, sword in striking position, and advanced on Hojo.

"Now wait just a minute!" the doctor cried. "Sephiroth, you don't know what you're doing…!"

"Oh yes I do," Sephiroth growled. "I know very well." He prepared to spear the scientist, when, suddenly, he felt a small pinprick in his leg. He whirled, to see the blue eyed Guard injecting him with a potent tranquilizer, one he knew even he couldn't fight. It had brought down dragons before…he knew. He'd been the one doing the injecting… "No!" he screamed, kicking the Guard. But it was too late. The sedative was working, even as he fought it. He felt dizzy, and fell. The last things he saw before blacking out were the infuriating faces of Hojo and the blue-eyed Guard…Briala's killer…

Sephiroth awoke on a hard, cold surface. No…he thought, realizing where he was. An examination table. As his eyes adjusted, he became aware of the figure at the foot of the bed. Briala's killer. The man was nursing a broken arm, he noted with satisfaction. And when I get free, he'll be nursing a lot more than that…he thought maliciously. Suddenly, the opening of a door drew his attention away. Hojo entered, carrying a syringe full of strange red liquid.

"Ah, awake I see," he smiled wickedly. "Thinking about Briala no doubt…" he laughed. "Think as much as you can, because when I'm through, you won't remember her…or anything about her. I'm going to wipe your memory."

What? Sephiroth thought feverishly. No! If he does that, I'll forget about my past…and Briala…no! Viciously, he bit at Hojo, as he attempted to plunge the syringe into his neck.

"Oh no," Hojo admonished him. "This behavior will never do from a SOLDIER. Good SOLDIERS are obedient."

"Screw obedience, old man," spat Sephiroth.

"Such language," Hojo scolded mockingly. "Cloud, come and hold our friend here, so I can give him this." The Guard had taken his hood off, and now Sephiroth saw his hair, a shocking bright yellow. The Guard nodded, and went to the other side of the bed. There, he grasped Sephiroth's head with his good hand. Sephiroth fought, but between the Guard and the doctor, he couldn't wrench his neck free.

No…he thought desperately, as the liquid emptied into his veins. He glared venomously at Cloud. "You cost me everything…" he rumbled. "You took my past…and my future. But I'll get even. You wait and see. I may forget everything else, but I won't forget you…and someday, I'll take the one you love, when you least expect it…you'll pay for this. I will see to it personally…" then darkness overtook him, and he dreamed of Briala, for what he knew would be the first…and last…time.


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