Appointment With Destiny Chapter 38
Aeris turned red. Tears filled her eyes. She lowered her head.
"I thought you were working with Hojo to get me into his lab."
"Aeris," Sephiroth forced her to raise her head with his hand. "Why would you think I'd do something like that to you? What did I ever do to make you doubt me?"
Her voice was shaky. "It took, me two days to read the journal. Right after I read the part in the journal where Hojo said you were going to take me to him, I heard you on the phone telling someone you were looking forward to turning me over to them."
Sephiroth's eyes widened in surprise.
"And then you said you were going to going to find something else to keep you amused. You said you were going to look over the new platoon of women recruits in Midgar and you were hoping there were four or five good ones in the bunch! And then you said you were going to decide which ones to keep for yourself and turn the rest over to your officers!"
He stared at her.
"I convinced myself I was wrong, but when you said Hojo was coming over the next day, I just knew you were really going to do it. You were going to give me and the baby to Hojo!"
Aeris broke into tears.
"Oh Aeris." Sephiroth put his arms around her and hugged her to him. "No wonder you were acting so strange. I was talking to Elmyra. She and her friends were planning a baby shower for you."
"A baby shower," repeated Sephiroth. "I was supposed to keep you in the dark until I delivered you to her doorstep. "I wasn't going to hang around with a bunch of women fussing over baby things. I was going to go to Midgar and look over the new recruits to get out of the way. As for the four or five good ones in the bunch, I was going to be looking for SOLDIER material."
Aeris cried harder.
"What's wrong now?" asked Sephiroth. "I'd thought that would make you feel better."
"I feel so stupid!" sobbed Aeris. "How could I have been so dumb?"
"Under the circumstances, I can understand your confusion," said Sephiroth. "I'm not so sure I would have acted differently in your place. This life is still new you to Aeris. You've and I have got a long ways to go before we truly know each other. I forgive you for leaving. Hojo is gone now. We'll deal with Rufus and the President too."
"The President is dead." Aeris wiped her eyes. "The weapon him. I heard it on the radio."
"Then that just leaves Rufus," mused Sephiroth. "I can handle him."
"Cloud and his friends went after Rufus," answered Aeris. "You might not have to bother."
Sephiroth shrugged. "Fine. Are we straight now?"
"No." Aeris started crying again.
"What's wrong now?" he asked.
"You don't know what I've done."
He hesitated. "Should I sit down and listen to this?"
"You're going to start from the beginning, right?"
She nodded again.
They found an abandoned house and sat down in the livingroom. Aeris told him everything about her trip to Midgar and Biggs visit, right up to the time she came back to the mansion. Sephiroth listened quietly."
"Can you forgive me NOW?" she asked. "After all this?"
Sephiroth looked away. "I don't know Aeris. I'm seriously considering either locking you up in a cell to keep you out of trouble, or getting out of this marriage and running for my life."
Aeris broke into fresh tears.
"Hey I was only kidding!" he said, gathering into her arms. "I'm not going anywhere, but I am going to insist on some conditions in this marriage.:
She raised her face. "What?"
"I want your trust," he said. "That most of all. If you don't trust me, we don't have a marriage."
She nodded. "I'll never doubt you again Sephiroth. I'm sorry I ever did."
"Next, no secrets." He looked at her intently. "There are still a lot of Hojo's monsters running around and people you don't want to meet in a dark alley, much less the daylight. If you want to go somewhere beyond our usual area, tell me. I'll take you there myself. Don't sneak out anymore."
"When you want to practice your powers, I want to be there," he said. "You didn't have your chest, but I still have mine. Maybe I can help you learn to use your powers. We can't have Meteors or whatever appearing and endangering lives."
"I agree," she said. "Anything else?"
"Yes." He sighed. "I want you to help me set up a meeting with AVALANCHE. I've been on the wrong side too long. Cloud tried to warn me long ago, but I didn't listen. I want a truce between us. Maybe if we all work together, we can get life on this planet back on the right track."
Aeris smiled at him. "I'll do anything I can to help."
"Good." Sephiroth hugged her. "That part is out of the way. Now for the next part."
Aeris tilted her head. "What's that?"
"Hojo burned the mansion down," answered Sephiroth. "Do you want to move back to the apartment in Midgar?"
Aeris shook her head. "Why don't we find an somewhere close by? You'd still be near your job, but I won't have to put up with those stupid robots watching me every time I step in an elevator."
Sephiroth nodded. "That's a reasonable request. I'll call Junon and have them send a helicopter for us. We'll use one of their guest rooms for the night."
Aeris yawned. "Good. I could use the rest."
Sephiroth reached for the phone.
* * * * *
"You really cut that close," said Yuffie. "For a minute there, I thought we were goners!"
"Yeah. You should have heard her screaming," said Cid. "I'm still having trouble hearing.
Yuffie made a face at him. "Whatever."
Cid cupped his hand around his ear. "Eh?"
Yuffie narrowed her eyes at him.
Aeris looked embarrassed. "That's one thing I won't try again."
"Forget it," said Reeve. "Everything worked out okay. The Shinra's are gone and with the exception of the Turks, so are their cronies."
"Are you really going to rebuild the tower?" Tifa looked skeptical. "Why would you even bother?"
"The building wasn't bad," answered Reeve. "Only the people running it. The tower will make a splendid base of operations. I'm going to reform a committee to make changes to the city."
"Like what?" asked Red.
"For one thing," said Reeve. "I'm going to find a way to get some light down to the lower levels. It's a shame people have to live in such shabby conditions. There's so much pollution down there, it's a wonder any babies survive."
"That's going to take a lot of redesigning," mused Barret.
"I know." Reeve's face lit up. "I'd appreciate it if you'd join me on the committee. Midgar isn't the only place I plan to rebuild. It's just the start. There are other villages out there that could use some help too. What do you say?"
Barret shrugged. "Why not? I've been fighting a long time to make the world a better place to live. I might as well go the rest of the way!"
Reeve smiled and shook his hand. "Welcome aboard! What about the rest of you?"
"I've got to get back home," said Cid. "Now that Shinra is out of my hair, I want to see about getting my rocket off the ground."
"Daddy will be expecting me," said Yuffie. "I promised to help him get Wauti back in shape.
"Thanks but no," said Red XIII. "Grandfather isn't feeling well these days. I want to go back and take care of him."
"I'll sign on," said Vincent, "But first I'd like to take a long vacation and work out the stress we've been under fighting Shinra. I think I'll be of more use to you when my head is clear."
Reeve nodded. "I understand. What about you Cloud? Tifa?"
"It sounds like a good idea," said Tifa. "I have to agree with Vincent though. I'd like a vacation before I get down to work."
She looked at Cloud. He reached out and took her hand.
"We could both use some time away from work," he said. "Say, maybe three weeks?"
"That's fine," said Reeve, rubbing his hands together. "Barret and I can hold things together until then. You'll both make fine committee members."
"Tifa will make a fine committee member," said Sephiroth shortly. "Cloud is going to be too busy."
Cloud gave him a look. "What do you mean by that?"
"You were in SOLDIER," answered Sephiroth, "Or at least you tried to be. We were wrong about you. Zack and I could use some help getting the army back together."
"You and Zack were officers," said Cloud giving Sephiroth a sidelong look. "I was just a trooper."
"As the general, I can promote or recommend anyone for officers school," answered Sephiroth. "I've followed your exploits ever since you left the service. From what I hear and from what I've seen of the men lucky enough to keep their lives after fighting with you, there's no reason, you wouldn't make a good officer. You didn't do so bad leading your friends either."
Cloud looked as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing.
"A compliment . . . from you?"
"I was merely stating facts," said Sephiroth. "Zack said you were good. I think you've proven it."
Cloud blinked, speechless.
Tifa nudged him. "Say yes. I know how much your heart was set on being in SOLDIER. I don't think your dream ever died. You just pushed it aside."
Cloud squeezed her hand. He looked at Sephiroth.
"All right. I accept your offer."
Sephiroth nodded. "Report to me in three weeks at eight o'clock sharp."
Cloud grinned. "You've got it."
Sephiroth frowned. "I'm still a general Cloud."
Cloud looked surprised, then snapped out a smart salute. "Yes Sir!"
Sephiroth looked mollified. He turned to Aeris. "Tired?"
She smiled at him gratefully. "Am I ever. I'm standing for two you know."
Reeve laughed, then turned serious when Sephiroth raised an eyebrow.
"Are you sure you two won't move back into the building?" He looked from one to another. "I'm sure could get you a bigger apartment."
"No thanks!" Aeris shook her head. "I've had enough of those metal monsters running loose around here and following me into elevators."
Reeve grinned. "You too? Don't worry. I'm having most of them scrapped. I think we can afford some decent security around here without making anyone feel like a prisoner."
"Really?" Aeris looked at Sephiroth. "Well I did kind of like having shopping centers close by. And I could always take the baby to the indoor park. At least I wouldn't have to worry about running into monsters."
Sephiroth folded his arms. "It's up to you."
Aeris looked at Reeve. "A bigger apartment?"
Reeve smiled. "You can have whichever one you want."
"Big enough to have a small greenhouse so I can grow flowers?" asked Aeris.
"Big enough to grow trees if you want," answered Reeve.
Aeris smiled at him. "We'll stay then."
Sephiroth looked at Cloud. "You'd better get used to this, if you get married."
Cloud turned to look at Tifa.
She fluttered her eyelashes at him.
He grinned. He turned back to Sephiroth.
"I'll consider myself warned."
"Come on," said Sephiroth taking Aeris by the hand. "You look as if you could go to sleep any minute. Besides, Elmyra is waiting in my office to say goodbye before she leaves."
Aeris waved as they walked out of Reeve's office.
I'd better get going too," said Cid. "Shera will be looking for me. Anyone need a ride home?"
"Here, here!" answered Yuffie.
"Me too," added Red.
"I'm going down to the harbor and catch a ship," said Vincent. "The ocean will relax me."
"Can you drop us off in Costa Del Sol?" asked Cloud.
"Sure. Come on." Cid turned back to Reeve. "Does helping all the villages include giving me the funds to help me build my space ship?"
"Absolutely," answered Reeve. "Just give me an estimate of what you need to the committee.
Cid was whistling as he led the others away.
Reeve went to his window and looked out over the Junon Harbor. With the Shinra's, Heidegger, Scarlet and Hojo gone, things were going to be different on the Planet now. The committee would find another source of power for the reactors. The villages Shinra ruined could be rebuilt. It felt good to know the millions they'd left behind would be used for something positive. Reeve was smiling as walked back to his desk and sat down. He leaned back in his chair and swung his feet up on the desk. It felt very good indeed
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