Appointment With Destiny Chapter 7
Aeris examined her eyes in the bathroom mirror. After rinsing them several times with cold water they still looked puffy. The last thing she wanted was for anyone to know she'd been crying. Especially Sephiroth.
What am I going to do? My eyes look terrible, she thought. I wish I knew what kind of powers I'm supposed to have. She turned on the water and rinsed her eyes again. It didn't help. They still looked puffy.
"All right," she said out loud. "Aeris Gainsborough is going to perform magic!"
She covered both eyes with her hands.
"Concentrate," she said to herself. "When you look at your eyes again, they're going to look perfectly normal. No more redness and no more puffiness!"
"Ta dah!" she looked into the mirror again. The redness and swelling was still there.
"One more time," she grumbled, covering her eyes again.
This time she concentrated harder, visualizing her eyes looking bright and cheerful. She thought back to all the pictures she'd ever taken when her eyes sparkled with merriment.
"Concentrate, concentrate," she said to herself. Was it her imagination or did her hands feel warmer?
It's that old black magic in me, she thought. I'm healing myself. She took her hands away from her eyes, keeping them closed.
"All right," she said. "On the count of three. One . . . two . . . three!"
Aeris opened her eyes and looked at her reflection. She let out a short scream and backed away from the sink. What she was seeing couldn't be true! The redness and swelling was gone. Her jaw dropped.
"I did it!" She looked at her hands in wonder. "I did it! I used magic! I healed my eyes!"
She forgot about her wedding or why she was crying in the first place. Aeris jumped up and down excitedly. I cured myself! I fixed my eyes!"
She leaned close to the mirror and looked at herself again. Her eyes looked perfectly normal. Aeris smiled. You can use magic, she thought.
Her doorbell rang. Aeris ran to answer it. Sephiroth looked at her then did a double take.
"Has something happened?" he asked.
"I did magic!" cried Aeris excitedly. "I did magic on my eyes!"
She jumped up and down, then ran to look at her reflection in the mirror just inside the door. Sephiroth came into the room uncertainly.
"What kind of magic?" he asked. "What did you do?"
"My eyes! See?" Aeris moved closer. "I fixed my eyes."
Sephiroth looked puzzled. "I don't see any difference in your eyes."
"They were red!" said Aeris impatiently, as though the answer was obvious. "They were red and swollen. I put my hands up like this . . . and concentrated and the red went away and the swelling too!"
"Why were your eyes red and swollen?" asked Sephiroth.
Aeris stopped short. A red flush crept over her face.
"Were you crying?" asked Sephiroth.
She didn't answer.
"Were you crying over what we talked about?"
Aeris put her hands behind her back. "I guess I was."
Sephiroth's face went back into that unreadable look again.
"I'm all right now," she said. "Really I am. Are we going to dinner now?"
He hesitated."I could tell them you don't feel well. I won't make you come if you don't want to."
Aeris squared her shoulders.
"I said I would marry you and I will," she said. "Like you told me before, I might as well get used to it."
"I said you might as well get used to me," he said.
"You, things, whatever." Aeris couldn't help the smile that came to her lips. "I did magic today. Nothing can bother me right now."
"Hojo will be there," said Sephiroth.
Aeris' smile vanished. "Except that."
"Don't worry," said Sephiroth. "I won't let him pester you. Shall we go?"
Aeris followed Sephiroth to the elevators. He pressed the button and they started up. It stopped on the Presidents floor. Sephiroth was just about to step out of the elevator when Aeris moved to his side looped her arm in his. He gave her a strange look.
"What are you doing?"
"We're engaged," she said. "We might as well act like it."
"Aeris," he asked cautiously, "Are you all right?"
She looked up at him. "I won't lie to you Sephiroth, I'm not keen on the idea of getting married right now, but you're right. It's not your fault or mine that we have to go through with this and it's not fair for me to take it out on you. Maybe things will work out for us, I don't know. What I do know is, I don't want to be responsible for the deaths of innocent villagers for my own selfish reasons."
"You're sure about this?" he asked.
She nodded. "I'm sure."
"Thank you," he said. "I'll try not to make it too hard for you to get used to me, but I have to confess I can be moody sometimes."
"Don't I know it."
He raised an eyebrow.
The elevator door slid shut in their faces.
Aeris pushed a button to open it again. "I think we'd better be going."
The Presidents apartment was even grander than their own, but that was to be expected. Aeris and Sephiroth were shown in by a servant. The President, Rufus, Heidegger and Hojo were sitting in the drawing room sipping drinks.
"Our guests of honor!" said the President with a smile. "Come on in and join us."
Sephiroth led Aeris to a sofa and sat next to her.
"Sephiroth doesn't drink," said President Shinra. "How about you Aeris? My personal bartender can make any drink you can think of."
"Thank you," said Aeris, "But I don't drink either."
Hojo's eyes lit up.
President Shinra smiled. "How about a glass of water then?"
"No thank you," she answered. "I'm fine."
"How are you getting along here?" asked Rufus. "From what I hear, our world is very different from the one you came from."
"You can't imagine," she said smiling at him, "But I'm learning more each day. Sephiroth has been a big help with my education."
"That's my son," said Heidegger. "What do you think of your new apartment?"
"I'm going to do some redecorating," she said. "I don't know what I'm going to do with it just yet, but I will redecorate."
"Make as many changes as you wish," said the President. "If you find that apartment is too small, let me know and we'll find you a bigger one."
A servant came in to announce dinner.
They moved into the dining room. The waiters brought in their salads. Aeris was uncomfortably aware of Hojo watching her every move. Sephiroth noticed too, but his warning looks went unheeded.
"There's a possibility that you're not immune to some of the germs in our world," said Hojo. "If you'd like, I could test your immunity system to make sure you'll stay healthy."
"Thank you for your concern," said Aeris. "But I feel perfectly fine."
"Still there's no reason to take chances," said Hojo. "It would only take a few minutes to run a test on you."
"No thank you," said Aeris.
"It's better to be safe-"
"Unless Aeris feels ill, there's no reason for her to worry about whether or not she's immune to the germs in this world," said Sephiroth. "After all, her ancestor lived here too."
"But it's so much better to absolutely sure,"insisted Hojo.
"I agree with Sephiroth," President Shinra broke in. "As long as Aeris feels fine, leave her be."
Hojo's lips tightened, but he let it drop.
"What did you call your planet?" asked Rufus.
"Earth," answered Aeris.
"Interesting." Rufus glanced at his father. "Normally we refer to this place as the planet with a capital P, but it's also known as earth."
Hojo perked up. "That confirms my theory that there are worlds parallel with this one that may have the same names but are altogether different in some way."
"What kinds of materia did you have in your world?" asked Heidegger. "Is it the same as ours?"
"I never heard of materia until I came here," said Aeris. "And there was magic, but it was all tricks. You use real magic here. That's something else for me to get used to."
"No magic?" The President looked thoughtful. "I suppose there was no army either."
"There was an army all right," replied Aeris. "Several. Every country had their own."
"But no materia," said Rufus. "How could they defend themselves?"
Sephiroth's eyes glowed. "This is beginning to sound like an inquisition."
"Is it?" The President looked surprised. "We apologize. We're just curious about earth."
"Did you see the Promised Land in the time stream?" asked Hojo.
Sephiroth stared at him.
"Promised Land?" Aeris looked confused. "I've never heard of it. Most of the places we saw were anything but promising."
"It's said to be a place full of energy and power," said Hojo. "Only the Cetra knew where it was."
"Really? I don't know anything about it."
"The magic in your world was fake, you say," Hojo leaned forward eagerly. "But have YOU ever used magic?"
"Why wouldn't she?" Sephiroth's voice was sharp. "She came to the battle didn't she?"
Aeris glanced at Sephiroth, her face neutral.
"That's another thing," said Hojo. "Sephiroth started dreaming about you six months ago. Were you dreaming of him as well?"
"You're getting personal Hojo," warned Sephiroth.
"I meant no offense," he said. "As a scientist these things perk my curiosity."
"Your curiosity has limits when it comes to my bride," answered Sephiroth. "Remember that."
"He's right," said Heidegger. "It's okay to ask questions. Aeris knows we're just trying to get to know her, but please watch what you ask."
Aeris smiled at him and Heidegger smiled back.
Hojo lapsed into silence.
The waiters took the salads away and began serving a roast beef dinner.
"How about the food?" asked Rufus. "Was there beef where you came from?"
"Yes." Aeris looked down at her plate. A lot of things on this world are the same as mine, but there are a lot of differences too."
"Like what?" asked Heidegger.
"Riding chocobos," answered Aeris. "People ride horses where I come from."
Everyone except Sephiroth looked blank. "What's a horse?"
Aeris tried to explain, but in the end, they looked more confused than ever. She went on to tell them about commercial airlines, bullet trains, space flights and freeways. They were fascinated but they couldn't pictures such things having never been exposed to them. Hojo, she noticed, absorbed every word with a hungry look on his face. Sephiroth let her do most of the talking, cutting in when he thought they were pushing too hard for information. By the time, they finished their desserts, Aeris was talked out.
"Earth is truly a fascinating place," said the President. "If only we could think of a way to commute back and forth, we might be able to form an alliance with the governments there."
"There's no way to go back," said Sephiroth. "The curse has run its course. The portal between worlds has closed forever."
"But Aeris could open it again," said Hojo with a gleam in this eyes. "If Lascinda could do it, Aeris has that power too."
"That's not going to happen," said Sephiroth.
"Do you really think she could?" President Shinra pretended not to see Sephiroth's expression.
"She's descended from the Cetra," said Hojo. They came to this Planet from another world! They would have left again had it not been for the war with Jenova. Lascinda was the only survivor of that fallout. She escaped. Why couldn't Aeris repeat her magic?"
"An alliance with her old world would be most beneficial to us," said Rufus with a hungry look on his face.
"They may have military technologies we can share," said Heidegger to the President. "Don't you think something like that would be helpful to us Sir?"
Sephiroth was looking from one to another. He slammed his fist against the table to get their attention. Everyone stopped talking and stared at him.
"Aeris can't open another path to the world she left behind," he said,.
"Why not?" asked Hojo.
"You're forgetting the terms of the curse," said Sephiroth. "Once Aeris is here, she becomes my wife. She has to stay in this world."
"You're right," said the President with a look of disappointment.
"That doesn't mean she can't open a path for US." Hojo's eyes gleamed." We could send emissaries through to negotiate with the powers on the other side. Think of the things we could learn! The scientific breakthroughs and yes, as General Heidegger suggests, military enhancements."
Aeris watched their faces as they talked. This conversation was taking a disturbing turn. When Hojo first suggested she might be able to make a path from this world to her own, Aeris felt a spark of hope. She could marry Sephiroth and still be able to go back and forth between worlds, but the these men seemed more interested in expanding their powers at her expense.
She thought Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The powers of "The Bomb," had intensified since then. What if the only man with power on this Planet got his hands on some of those weapons? What if he traded the wrong secrets to the wrong people and those people added the advances of this world to their own technology? Aeris visualized flying Hundred Gunners in the air.
The lives of Kalm and Elmyra would pale in comparison to what would happen to the lives on two worlds if something went wrong. Aeris suddenly remembered something from a television show called a Prime Directive. She'd dropped the show after a while in favor of more shoot 'em up programming, but now those words came back to haunt her. For the first time in her life, she understood exactly what they meant.
"You may or you may not be right," she said, addressing Hojo, "But I have to agree with Sephiroth. When I lost the battle and came here to this planet, I gave up my right to ever go home again. I've accepted my life here and this is where I'm going to stay. Earth and any pathway to it, is closed to me now. I'm sorry, but I can't help you."
"It's getting late," said Sephiroth, standing up. "Aeris and I have a few things we'd like to discuss about our wedding arrangements before she goes to bed. If you'll excuse us . . . "
"Of course," the President said quickly standing up. The others followed his cue.
Sephiroth helped Aeris with her chair. Taking her by the hand he led her to the dining room door.
"We'll show ourselves out," he said. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight," echoed Aeris.
Sephiroth led her through the apartment and out the main door.
"You didn't tell them I didn't know any magic," she said. "Why?"
"It was none of their business," said Sephiroth. "That battle was between you and me. Anything between us is personal. I won't discuss it with outsiders."
"Oh. What did you want to discuss about our wedding?" she asked.
"I just wanted to get you away from them," he said, leading her toward the elevators.
"I was getting a little uncomfortable with the conversation," she admitted. "There are weapons from my world that could hurt a lot of people over here and there are technologies here, that should never be used there."
"I thought you might jump at the chance to go home," said. Sephiroth, letting go of her hand. "You didn't answer the way I expected."
Aeris blushed as they stepped through the elevator door. "I said I would marry you and I will. Earth isn't home anymore. Even if I knew how to open the portal, I wouldn't."
The Hundred Gunner was sitting in the next shaft. Aeris pressed close to Sephiroth.
"I hate that thing," she said.
The elevator doors opened on the 61st floor. Aeris followed Sephiroth out into an area with benches, trees and tables.
"What's this?" asked Aeris, looking around.
"A rest area." Sephiroth sat down at one of the tables.
Aeris took a chair near him. "Why are we here?"
"To talk," he said. "I'm not going to be able to see you again before the wedding."
"I was determined to win our battle, but I made alternate plans just in case I didn't," he said. "I scheduled some very important military maneuvers next week and they can't be changed. The next time you see me, I'll be in the church in Kalm."
"And after the wedding, we'll go straight to Icicle Village?" she asked.
"Professor Gast was once the head of the Shinra Labs," he said. "As a boy, we became very close. He worked with Hojo on some very important projects. Something must have been troubling him, because the last time I saw him, he was very upset. I asked him what was wrong, but he wouldn't say."
"Did you ever find out?" she asked.
Sephiroth shook his head.
"He came to me one night, but he was only able to stay a few minutes. He told me, he had something very important to tell me. I was supposed to meet him at a special place outside Kalm in two days. I wasn't to tell anyone where I was going. I went, but he never showed up."
"What happened?" asked Aeris.
"He was killed by a car bomb," said Sephiroth.
"How terrible! Who would do such a thing?"
"AVALANCHE," said Sephiroth grimly.
"A terrorist organization that wants to destroy all the good President Shinra has done for the Planet and put themselves in power," he replied. "They're led by a former SOLDIER renegade named Cloud Strife. He left the military to bring Shinra to its knees. They've been causing problems all over the Planet."
"Like what?" she asked.
"Blowing up reactors, ambushing troops in the field," he said. "Anything they can think of."
"Oh my," said Aeris. "Do they know we're getting married?"
"They probably do," he said.
"Am I in danger?"
"I don't think so, but you're being watched," he said, searching her face. "You've never been alone in the village."
"I have men in the Kalm who report to me," he said.
Aeris frowned at him. "Is that how you knew I ran away?"
"But Elmyra said you went there asking for me!"
"I couldn't make her suspicious," he said. I knew you were gone before I got there. I thought you might try to run away, but I never expected you to get as far as you did."
Aeris' expression went cold. "You've got people spying on me!"
"I didn't do it just to keep you from running away," he said. "I did it for your protection too."
"Aeris," he said in a calm voice, "Cloud Strife doesn't like me either. I don't think he'd resort to hurting you to get to me, but I didn't want to take the chance."
Aeris turned pale.
"Don't worry," said Sephiroth, taking her hand. "You're safe. My people will protect you. They're fully trained SOLDIERS an elite division of the military. AVALANCHE won't touch you with them around."
"Was Cloud a SOLDIER too?"
Sephiroth snorted. "He thought he was. He washed out. He was only a trooper."
Aeris relaxed a bit. "Oh."
"As long as I'm confessing, remember that easel on the hill where we met?"
"That wasn't my easel or food."
"But I saw your painting!" Aeris looked confused. "Was all that just for show?"
"No." Sephiroth shook his head. "There was a man there when I arrived. He was waiting for the sunrise. I just put a sleep spell on him, and hid him behind the ruins, so you wouldn't see him when you arrived. I didn't want him to interfere with our battle."
Aeris folded her arms. "I should have known you weren't a painter.'
Sephiroth shrugged. "Still mad about the spying?"
She relented. "I guess not."
"Come on," said Sephiroth. "I'll take you back to your room. You'll find something to sleep in lying on your bed and a new outfit to wear back tomorrow."
"How do you know my size?" she asked as they stepped into the elevator.
He smiled at her.
Aeris looked shocked. "One of my dressmakers is a spy?"
Sephiroth didn't answer.
"Does she talk about me to you?" she asked.
"No." he answered. " She just passed on the information about your size, that's all."
The Hundred Gunner paced them again.
"If I ever learn some magic, I'm going to get rid of that thing," she said under her breath.
"It's just doing its job," said Sephiroth.
Sephiroth walked Aeris to her door.
"Goodnight," he said. "I'll take you home before I leave tomorrow."
"I'll see you in the morning," she answered. "Goodnight."
It was a long time before she fell asleep.
Go To Chapter 8
Return To FF7 Fanfic