|Never too Late
Author: Valentine'sNinja PM
There was no recognition in his eyes, but even if there had been, their kind were not meant to be together. CloudTifa, VampireWerewolf fic. Gift for ObsessiveCompulsiveValkyrie!Rated: Fiction M - English - Supernatural/Romance - Cloud S. & Tifa L. - Chapters: 3 - Words: 19,996 - Reviews: 38 - Favs: 29 - Follows: 45 - Updated: 12-31-10 - Published: 08-05-10 - id: 6209687
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Woah, my fiftieth fic! First off, let me point out that this has nothing to do with Twilight or any of the books or movies, but expect to see VampireWerewolf romance. Seriously. Second, this was supposed to be a done yesterday as a gift for ObsessiveCompulsiveValkyrie's, but I fail. So, happy birthday! Valk, you're total awesomeness and I don't know where my writing would be without you.
Also, I just finished reading one of Laurell K. Hamilton's books, so this fic is heavily inspired by her work and Valk's Blood, Sweat, and Tears (which you should all read). If there are any similarities between our works, I take no credit for it! So, I really hope everyone likes this and if there is anything out of place, please feel free to let me know and I will correct it. I don't think I did enough research, but I'll still do my best. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy or any of the characters used in this piece of fiction.
Fear was clawing up her throat as her legs pumped, trying desperately to escape the looming shadows behind her. She had always known that danger had lurked in her small town, but she had always stayed indoors when the sun set, like a good girl. This time, she hadn't listened to her father's warnings. She had thought it all to be a folktale told to children to scare them into not running out in the dark to do mischief.
If only she had listened, she wouldn't be in this mess, running for her life. Her room had been unbearably hot and she had decided to crawl out of her window to go take a dip in the lake nearby. But after she had refreshed herself, she had felt eyes on her, something dangerous following her every move.
She had taken off at a run and despite her training in breathing exercises, and martial arts, it didn't appear that she would be fast enough to outrun the danger reaching for her. When she turned, there was nothing there, but she could hear the snap of twigs and the rush of air from something…
When she turned back around, she screamed as a long, rough hand closed around her neck, squeezing as it lifted her right off the ground. "You smell of fear, little rabbit."
"Let me go, please!" she choked, fingernails clawing at his hand.
"I can offer you so much more than this boring country life," he purred, settling her feet on the ground, keeping the rough grip on her neck. "I've been watching you for some time now and I know that you're a special child."
"W-what are you talking about?" she whispered, voice shaking as she stared into cold, blue eyes. The rest of his features were still obscured by the shadows, but his eyes seemed to glow.
"I can smell the sickness growing inside of you," said the deep voice, inhaling the air around her. "Within months, you will be dead."
"No… I've been sick recently, but the doctor said it wasn't serious!" she yelled, tears springing to her crimson eyes.
"The doctor as well as your fool father lied to you, young one. But I can see it all. I know what you are worth and I want to offer you the opportunity to be something… exceptional."
"H-how?" she asked, voice weak.
"Death and rebirth."
"What?" she asked, confused. She choked when his hand tightened around her neck once more.
Her eyes widened and her breath shuddered out in shock. Only one thought echoed in her head. "I'll stop being sick?"
He chuckled darkly. "Yes. But in exchange, you will leave everything behind and come with me. I will teach you all I know and you will be one of the most powerful of our kind."
She weighed her options. Death by a sickness her father—and probably everyone else—had kept from her, or… immortality. Being a monster until the end of days. She had read so much on things that she had always thought were nothing but fantasy and now it was here, staring her in the face. Giving her a choice; something her father hadn't done. She didn't want to die, but, despite it all, she didn't want to leave her father behind!
"He deceived you. He may have wanted to protect you, but how do you protect someone from death? A man who lies to you and tells you everything is okay deserves nothing but hate and contempt."
"Why me?" she whispered, tears trailing from the corner of her eyes.
"Because your soul called to mine. Will you accept my invitation?"
She was dying, and her father had hid it from her. She had been offered the chance to become a vampire, a… a monster. What if it was a trick? What if he just wanted to lull her into a sense of trust and then kill her permanently? Staring into the eyes of death, she could feel her thoughts become jumbled, her feelings overtaken with resentment. Closing her eyes in silent acceptance, her cry of pain and anguish echoed through the forest of Nibelheim as sharp fangs pierced the soft flesh of her neck and her life was quickly drained away.
"Their stink is unbearable."
The brunette watched her companion wrinkle her nose delicately and smirked. "Patience, Aerith. We won't be here long." Together, the two females approached the bar and the bartender turned to them quickly.
"What can I get you two beautiful ladies?" he asked with a charming smile.
"Two shots of straight tequila and information on where we can find Shinra."
Aerith smiled and blinked big, green eyes. "We would be grateful if you helped us in this matter," she purred, her eyes shining unnaturally.
The man's features seemed to slack as he stared at her and nodded. "He's up in the VIP lounge, but not just anyone can get up there," he said, mechanically pouring the alcohol shots.
"Don't you worry your pretty red-head over that," Aerith said pleasantly. "I'm sure, we can find a way. Thanks a lot, handsome." She light in her eyes faded and the spell was broken.
"Drinks on me," he said hoarsely, watching the brunettes down the shots and walk away after thanking him.
"Humans… so easy to manipulate," said the darker haired woman.
"But they're useful, aren't they, Tifa?" Aerith asked, both slinking through the crowded room and avoiding being touched.
Tifa made a noise of assent that was drowned out by the chatter and music in the bar, but that her companion's ears heard quite clearly. They paused when the scent intensified towards the VIP section of the bar/club. "I don't think you'll be able to bend that bouncer to your will easily."
They both slipped onto stools at an empty table and watched the man there. He was talk, dark, handsome, and dressed in a pristine suit. "That suit is a little too neat," said Aerith calmly.
"He's one of Shinra's. Can you try grabbing him from here?" Tifa asked, checking her watch.
Aerith's eyes shifted to the man and the green in them began to glow once more. The man stood ramrod straight and looked around the room, searching. "He's strong-minded. It must me a requirement for the men who work with Shinra."
"Come on," said Tifa, sliding off the stool and approaching the man once more.
The look he gave them was anything but friendly, but within touching distance, Aerith slipped slim fingers against his wrist, her eyes lighting with green fire. "Let us through."
He blinked and fought her. "No need for tricks; Rufus is waiting for you."
Aerith's lips curved into a smile and she retracted her hand before she and Tifa moved past him without a backwards glance. "I'm going to have to work on controlling werewolves. I'm close."
Tifa shrugged and smiled. "It's a good thing that he didn't even bother to check our weapons. We don't know what Shinra wants, and had it not been for Genesis' coercing, I wouldn't have come here."
"Shinra has something he wants," murmured Aerith.
Tifa just nodded as they walked down a darkened hallway and to the last VIP room. They were stopped at the entry way by a tall, lanky man with vibrant red hair that couldn't possible be natural. He leered at the both of them and Tifa rolled her eyes.
"He's attracted to you," Aerith said with an amused grin.
"So the rumors are true," said a silky voice from inside the room.
"What rumors?" asked Tifa, walking into the room after brushing off the bodyguard.
"That your friend there can read and control minds," said the blond they had come to see.
"It was obvious on his face," said Tifa dryly.
Blue eyes narrowed, but his lips curved into a smirk. "Rude told me about the little run-in you had with him downstairs."
"He called you via phone?" Aerith asked, curious.
"Possibly," said Rufus Shinra, standing and motioning for them to take seat across from him. The man had either called him or Rufus was linked to his men in some other, more psychic way. "I was beginning to wonder if you'd show. Our man at the front door didn't report seeing you enter."
Crimson eyes flashed and she smiled. "What makes you think we used the front door?"
There was silence for only a few seconds before Rufus chuckled. "Very good. This means that all of the rumors we've heard about you are true."
Tifa and Aerith sat but had nothing to say to him about the rumors. "We're here because Genesis wants something from you, not to make small talk."
"Ah, so beautiful and so blunt. I heard you had a particularly interesting power," said Rufus, ignoring her curt words.
Tifa smiled enough that her fangs showed, and it was a purposely threatening gesture. "What have you heard about me?"
"While your friend can read minds and charm someone into doing her bidding, you can see into the future. You know things before they happen and that is why you have cheated death so many times," Rufus said, watching her reaction closely.
"No one can cheat death," Tifa replied coolly.
Rufus just chuckled and nodded. "How can you when you're already dead, right?"
Aerith's eyes narrowed and began to glow. "I don't care for you mocking my sister. Either tell us what you want or we will leave," she threatened.
Rufus blinked a few times, feeling disoriented and nodded. A guard at his back moved forward and dropped a thick envelope onto the table between them. "These are three targets that we need to be disposed of. You get it done and will give your master what he has been searching for."
"Why do you want them dead?" Tifa asked, taking the envelope but not opening it.
"I don't think that's any of your business. Just get it done." he watched both women bristle in anger and knew that he shouldn't have been picking on them, being as dangerous as they were.
They were both wrapped in beautiful, small packages, but he had learned the hard way that beauty was the most dangerous weapon. It was also a big reason why the two before him had been so successful in their jobs. Genesis had assured him that they were two of the bests killers he had ever trained, and that they would perfect for his next project. Rufus smiled to himself.
"Hope that I never catch you out alone, human," Aerith said as she and Tifa stood.
"I'm never alone," Rufus said, cocking his head to the side smugly.
"Of course, you always hide behind your dogs, don't you?" Tifa asked snidely.
Rufus' eyes changed in an instant, from pleasant to cold. Satisfied with his reaction, both she and Aerith turned towards the door.
"I'm much more dangerous than I look, ladies. If you encounter me alone some day, I can assure you that I will not go down without a fight," came Rufus' calm voice.
"We'll look forward to that day," Aerith said with a smile that was half sweet and half poisonous.
"I really don't like that guy," Tifa muttered and Aerith nodded empathically. She didn't know why Genesis was allowing them to take orders from a human who hid behind his wolves, but if Genesis needed something from him, it had to be important. "Should we go out the front door?"
Aerith grinned and looked up at a ladder that led to the roof. "When have we ever done things the easy way?"
Sitting in a chair of the underground home she shared with her fellow nightwalkers, Tifa stared at the images of the men they had been instructed to kill. There had to be some mistake, she thought, glaring at one photo sitting on the table.
"These are the targets?" asked Aerith, coming up behind her, already dressed in a pair of loose fitting pants and a tank-top. Tifa merely nodded and remained silent. "Do we have a last known location?"
"Gongaga," Tifa replied. "Recognize this one?"
Aerith took a closer look and her eyebrows forked thoughtfully. "I thought he was dead!"
"Apparently he isn't," Tifa said bitterly.
"You don't have to say anything, Aer. If he hasn't thought to contact me all of this time, then now he'll be well and truly dead to me."
Aerith turned the image around and looked at the information printed on there. "Look," she murmured, pointing at the status of the target. "He's not human anymore."
Even if he had looked for her, Tifa realized that their relationship wouldn't have worked out. Assassins had no place for emotions or loved ones. Some would even laugh at the prospect of a vampire loving someone, let alone a human. Well, she supposed that it was even worse now, since he had been turned into a werewolf.
In the time that she had been a vampire, she had learned to evolve and adapt to the changing times. Genesis had taught her much about the world and had trained her when her new powers had started to manifest. There were a few other things that no one knew she could do, but she had kept them in the dark. It was quite possible that they would try for her head if news got out.
Aside from that, the partnership between vampires and werewolves was a tenuous one and anything could break it easily. Though Genesis wasn't by far the oldest of vampires, he was one of the ones who was working towards a peace goal. It had been harder than he had anticipated, but they were moving forward. Tifa imagined that whatever he wanted from Shinra so badly would help with that.
The human man that had left her was in the past, and the werewolf standing between her goals had already been marked. If she didn't kill him, then someone else would be sent in their place and he would be dead anyway. This way, she would get closure, as cold as it seemed.
"We leave tomorrow at sundown. We'll then have to be in Gongaga in two hours, maybe three, and from there we hunt."
"You're sure you'll be able to kill him?" Aerith asked, dubious.
"If I don't, someone else will do it and Genesis will be angry. I'll do it," said Tifa, waving a hand vaguely. "And stop trying to read my thoughts."
Aerith giggled, and had Tifa not known her for more than sixty years now, she would've thought that the other woman was human. "You know I always liked a challenge."
"You can read their minds before we kill them," Tifa replied, packing up the information and surveillance images back into the envelope before throwing them into the waste basket and setting fire to it.
"Why would I do that?" Aerith asked, mischief clear in her tone.
"I want to know why Shinra wants them dead. Maybe the information can be useful," Tifa said, winking and smiling.
"I like the way you think, sister." Aerith grinned patting her on the back before retiring to her room.
Tifa was silent as she watched her go and sighed—a human gesture that had yet to leave her. She could still remember how her life had been before her death, before Genesis had come and offered her a chance at survival. She had been a nice girl, always following her father's rules, and she had been loved by everyone in her village. But the years after her human life had ended had been lonely and cold ones until her friend had been brought to her.
Aerith had been there whenever she needed her, but despite that, her profession had driven her to be cold; a complete shadow of who she had been in life. Having a human man fall in love with her had been something new and interesting, even though it had been foolish. She had thought that he had been killed five years ago, but when she had opened up the envelope, the image with his face had shocked her the way nothing else had in years. It didn't matter anymore because he had been marked and he would die, even if it wasn't her finger which pulled the trigger.
Turning and walking out of the common room, Tifa brushed her bangs out of her eyes and made for her room. Contrary to popular belief, vampires didn't die during the day, nor did they sleep in coffins, but Tifa found that it was during her sleep in the day that she received her premonitions far more clearly. Aerith's own energy needed to replenish every time she used her powers, and that meant that sleep was like refueling, though not essentially vital to their health the way it was for humans. Sometimes it took a feeding to be able to get back the energy they had lost.
In the hall, she passed a few comrades who were either off to sleep or feed. Though most gave her a wide berth out of fear and some admiration. Her visions had proved to be accurate, though it had been known that if she told someone of it, the future changed.
Before settling down for the day, she prepared her weapons and other things she would take with her on their hunt. The weapons of choice were guns with silver bullets and other dangerous blades that would get the job done if the bullets didn't. When she set hands on her trusted gun, her eyes unfocused and a fog swept over her eyesight.
Taking a breath, she relaxed and allowed the vision to come to her.
It was a race through dense jungle and all three wolves seemed to know where they were going, even in the dark. A snarl filled the air when black boots rushed to catch up to them, gun ready and in hand.
The direction of one of them changed and suddenly disappeared. Shit, where had he gone and why couldn't she hear him anymore? Through the bond she shared with her friend, she sent her puzzlement to her, and Aerith was only able to send back a feeling of alarm before the darker haired brunette was tackled from the side.
The momentum was enough to drop the gun from her hand and roll her and the furred body above her many times. They slammed into a massive tree and before the jaws could snap against her jaw, she had produced a silver blade and jammed it into the wolf's shoulder.
It howled its rage to the moon and claws dug into her own shoulder in reprisal. She grunted in pain, but when he leaned close to her, baring massive canines, all that filled her eyesight were its eyes. Eyes the color of the sky during summer, set in fur of the palest blond she had ever seen.
Her lips parted in surprise to say his name, but before she could utter it, a scream tore through the air and broke them apart.
Tifa gasped as the vision stopped and realized that the scream could only have belonged to Aerith. Well, now that she had seen the vision, she and Aerith would make the necessary plans in order to remain close during their hunt. No one would hurt her and get away with it, Tifa thought viciously, slamming the gun magazine in far more roughly than necessary.
After setting all her weapons out and covering them with a cloth just in case someone decided they were stupid enough to sneak into her room, she took a shower and changed into more comfortable clothes. One vision had come, but maybe more would follow if she could well and truly rest.
Shutting her eyes, she forced any thoughts from her head and tried to forget the eyes she had seen on the wolf's face. Why did he look so familiar to her? Maybe when night fell once more she would figure it out.
Their trip from Cosmo Canyon to Gongaga was a fairly quick one when considering Aerith's driving and an all-terrain vehicle. If Tifa had been alive she would've been afraid for her life. As it was, she and Aerith had gotten used to living life on the fast lane and with death—permanent death—looming at their backs, so a bit of manic driving wasn't really something to worry over.
They left the car on the outskirts of the small town and both gathered their weapons.
"Take this one," Tifa said, handing over a shot gun. "I need you to stay close to me."
Green eyes gave her a shrewd look but she didn't attempt to read her thoughts. "Did you see a vision of something happening to me?"
Tifa nodded once and slipped a long blade into a sheath at her thigh. "We need to stay together if we're going to stay alive. If we have to give chase to them into the jungle, we need to stay within touching distance."
Aerith nodded and slung the strap of the shot gun across her back for easy access. "I'll stay close."
Satisfied, Tifa smiled and they both set off towards the town, steps near silent and quick. Stopping in the middle of the dark square in the center of the town, they both inspected the lights in the homes, though many had begun to turn in for the night. Down the block was a small restaurant still serving its customers and both women walked over.
Standing in the darkened space off to the side, they use their sharp eyesight and hearing to watch the place for any sign of the men. "Catching the whiff of wet dog?" Tifa asked.
Aerith nodded and finally spotted their first target sitting at the small bar counter of the restaurant. "There," she said with a nod towards him.
"But where are the other two?" asked Tifa, shifting her coat around her to hide the weapons. She imagined that even with their coats, they both looked as if they were looking for trouble, dressed in all black, pale skin, and eerie colored eyes. "Should we take him out from here or lure him out?"
"I would rather not disturb the humans. I remember what it was like to be afraid of shadows, Teef. Let's do our business and be on our way," said Aerith with a sigh.
"Fine," Tifa murmured. "I'll draw him out and I'll incapacitate him so that you can find the location of the others before we kill him."
Aerith slipped into deeper shadows and waited patiently, readying her weapons.
Stepping into the establishment drew some minor attention, but with a sigh of power from Tifa, the patrons went back to their business and ignored her. The click of her boots alerted the man at the bar of her presence and she smiled, taking a seat next to him.
Blue eyes turned to her and he sniffed the air lightly as his lips pulled into a small grin. "You look and smell like death."
Tifa hummed. "That's because I am death."
"Never knew death could be hot," he said, winking at her.
"Would you rather we do this here or move outside? You're dead either way, but if it makes you comfortable, we can take a few humans with you so that you won't be lonely as you die."
He heard the safety of a gun click off and stood to his full height, nearly towering over her. "You'll have to catch me first."
Tifa felt a slight displacement of air and looked back to see the door closing slowly behind her. With a rush of adrenaline, she disappeared just as quickly and was racing into the shadows where she could hear him in the distance, Aerith's scent following.
She was a blur of movement and before long she had caught of to her old friend and their target, who was proving that werewolves could hold their own when it came to speed. The gun left Tifa's shoulder holster and she aimed as she ran, her eyes focusing even in the dark.
Damn it, this had been part of her vision but they were only chasing one of the wolves. Where had the other two gone? Were they still in town or had they been alerted by their companion? Sighting down the barrel of her gun, her finger began to squeeze the trigger when a snarl filled the air and something with incredible strength slammed into her, bodily taking her down.
The gun was knocked at out of her hand as they rolled together and underneath Tifa's fingerless gloves, she felt fur right before sharp teeth sunk into her shoulder. Choking back the scream that bubbled up in her throat, Tifa used the momentum of their roll to jam her knee into the wolf's pale, yellow belly with all of her strength. Her knuckles aimed to the side of his head, but unless she wanted him to rip off a piece of her shoulder, she only used half her strength.
Despite her soft hit, it let her go and they separated before they were both on their feet. Tifa took only a second to inspect the creature, recognizing him as the one from her vision, before he lunged at her. She jumped to her left and the snout came close to snapping at her ankles.
Tifa reached for the blade at her thigh and let it loose with precise aim, watching in satisfaction as it hit the wolf's shoulder on the same place he had bitten her. He howled in pain and pulled the burning silver from his body, blue eyes turning back to her as he stood on two hind legs, nearly a foot taller than her. "Surrender and I will make your death painless," she said, shoving off her coat and gloves.
"Shinra scum," the rough voice growled at her.
Tifa's eyebrow twitched and she was tempted to tell him they weren't associated to Shinra, even though they had been sent by Rufus. Another thought occurred to her… usually marks were oblivious of the fact that there was a price on their heads. Why, then, did this wolf know that Shinra had wanted him and his companions dead?
She didn't have much time to ponder before he was running full on at her. Tifa was ready for him this time and she sidestepped him with inhuman speed, using a leg to trip his two hind ones. The pale wolf stumbled and Tifa's fist slammed into his side, cracking one or two of his ribs.
The long tail whipped her roughly in the face and blinded her for a second, but he took the opportunity to pounce and tackle her to the hard ground, claws digging into her already wounded shoulder until it cracked. A noise escaped her lips, but despite his weight on her back and her incapacitated shoulder, her eyes began to glow like red fire.
His grip on her shoulder loosened, and it was enough for Tifa to shove with her good hand against the ground and throw him off. Getting to her feet, she pushed at her dislocated shoulder and grunted when it was set back in place. Reaching for a second gun at her hip, she approached the wolf that was panting on the floor, nearly whimpering as one claw dug into the soft earth and the other gripped at its head.
"Did you really think that you would best me, filthy beast?" she hissed, setting the gun at his temple. This was no longer the man she had known and it was best that she didn't think of him as Cloud. He was nothing but her mark, now.
Tifa! Aerith's voice echoed in her head before a second wolf pounced from the shadows, as if materializing from thin air. It didn't tackle her with its body the way the pale wolf had done, but instead it took her down with a hand on her neck, slamming her into the ground hard enough to make her vision swim.
"Release him—" his growling voice said, the bass even deeper than the pale wolf's. "Or I will snap your neck like a twig."
Tifa's eyes cut over to the wolf she still held in her mental grasp and she smirked as she felt her throat being crushed. She wouldn't die of asphyxiation but she would die of getting her neck crushed. "Break my neck and he'll die with me," she coughed out.
The whine from the other wolf was getting louder as he writhed on his side, holding his head. The silver wolf stared at her with eyes that would've looked better on a cat, not a variation of dog, she thought with a sneer. Green eyes burned into her and had she had the physical strength, this one would've been in her grasp as well.
Both froze when the sound of a shotgun being cocked broke through their glaring contest. The barrel of the gun pressed to the back of the silver's head and his hand momentarily tightened on Tifa's throat. "Let her go or I will assure you that you will not be able to heal from a silver bullet from this range," Aerith's voice said.
Silver turned slightly to look at her and his eyes narrowed when he saw a black wolf at her feet, passively sitting there as if awaiting orders from its master. "What have you done to him, vampire bitch?"
Aerith's free hand moved down to scratch behind the black's ear. "Would you like to find out?" she asked, smirking when the wolf at her feet bumped his head up against her hand for more.
The silver backed away and released Tifa slowly, allowing her to get to her feet. Both turned to look when the pale wolf began to revert to his human form, still clutching at his head.
"Let him go," the silver wolf hissed, a threatening growl working its way up from his chest.
Tifa picked up her fallen guns and pointed with her good hand while she only held the other gun with her hurt arm. "You knew someone would be sent to kill you. Why didn't you leave town?"
Her eyes fall on pale skin and blond hair, but she gritted her fangs and forced herself to look away. "Answer me!" she spat, making the man groan out in pain.
"Release your hold on Cloud and I will tell you what you wish to know."
Tifa looked at Aerith and the brunette nodded once. It meant that her friend—no, sister—trusted her with what she was doing. Tifa blinked slowly and the man on the ground stopped making pained sounds.
Instead of pointing the shotgun at the silver wolf, Aerith moved around to point it at the man on the ground, knowing it would be far easier to kill him and not give him the chance to heal the damage. "Talk," she said, keeping her control over the black wolf. She didn't know how long she would be able to do it, either, but she hoped it would last until the silver wolf answered their questions.
Before he could say anything, the fur began to slip back as if being pulled under skin slowly, and suddenly they had another man standing there. Had the two women been human, the fact that he was tall, slender and naked would've been very distracting. "A week ago we escaped a Shinra lab," he said in a low voice, silver hair ruffling in the wind.
"Why do they want you dead?" asked Aerith, covertly checking out the goods. Tifa glared slightly at her, but turned back to the man.
"We were part of secret experiments that involved the lycanthrope virus. We were SOLDIERs before it all began, but during war, it was reported that we had been killed. The experiments began then, after we had been taken underground."
"How did you break out?"
"The doctor in charge of us got cocky, and he made the mistake of taking us all out of containment at the same time," he replied.
"And now Shinra wants proof of his dark experiments destroyed," Tifa finished.
The man nodded. "We were human a few years ago, and Shinra felt that they owned us because we were part of their SOLDIER program. They took our humanity from us," he nearly snarled.
"And Cloud?" Tifa asked, her eyes darting to the blond.
"He was the most damaged out of all of us. He has no recollection of his past, even with Zack and I trying to fill in the blanks." Green eyes gave her a speculative look. "You knew him."
It wasn't a question. "I knew the human. I can't help what he is now," Tifa said, clicking off the safety of her gun. "If we don't kill you tonight, others will come who will not hesitate."
Aerith felt the last of her control over the black wolf give and released him, scoffing when he snarled at her, snapping his fangs. And again there was suddenly a naked man standing in the dense jungle with them.
"I didn't know vampires could be beautiful and evil bitches at the same time," he spat.
"I'll take that as a compliment," Aerith replied sweetly.
"Why aren't we dead yet, Sephiroth?" Zack asked, remaining where he was on the ground, attempting to cover his most important bits. "They aren't even Shinra."
"The vampires are hesitating."
Tifa narrowed her eyes. "What would we get in return for our help?"
Sephiroth's smile wasn't pleasant. "Shinra is attempting to create an army like us. Ask yourselves why he would be doing something like this."
Aerith and Tifa shared a look, but all Tifa could sense from her friend was confusion. "If you already know, stop beating around the bush."
"Such a human saying," Sephiroth commented. Tifa glared and he looked at her in amusement. "They want the next experiments to be on your kind. But none of the weaklings that I have heard exist. They will come after the powerful ones like you, and your friend. They want to exploit your talents and see if they can be replicated."
"It's not possible," Aerith said. "Each power is unique and is triggered after we die as humans."
"Their doctors seem to think that it's possible and they will cut and torture thousands and millions of your kind until they see for themselves that it can't be done." Green eyes glittered maliciously. "And we're the only ones who know where their labs are."
Do you know what you're doing? Aerith whispered in her mind. Tifa sighed. "I don't know," she replied out loud to her question. "But if there's ever a choice between you or my sister, guess who I'm going to pick?"
"First, we need a plan. Can you gather more of your kind to help us in this?" Sephiroth asked.
Tifa shook her head. "I don't think anyone would believe us without proof. It's farfetched even for the two of us," she motioned to Aerith and herself, "and we've been around for a while. It'll be just us and maybe two or three more of us."
"We'll need to form a strategy first and maybe we can find a way to get into the lab and dig up the old doctor's notes on what he plans to do," Zack said after remaining quiet for too long.
They all turned to look when Cloud stirred and sat up, probably unaware that he was naked, too. Blue eyes blinked a few times and he looked around at everyone standing near him, including the shotgun that was more or less still pointed at the middle of his chest. "What the hell happened?" he asked, eyes finding Tifa.
She waited for some type of recognition from him but got none. Tifa didn't know why she had been expecting more from him, but she knew now that it had been some silly, human wish. It was funny how she seemed to forget sometimes that she hadn't been human in years. This was exactly why vampires were not supposed to get involved in anything remotely similar to love or any other soft feelings.
Sneering slightly, she holstered her gun and turned back to Sephiroth. "We have a place in the Midgar slums that will take you in. In sector seven, search out a man named Barret and he will give you somewhere to stay. Aerith and I will have to return to Shinra to let him know that you're dead."
"How will you convince them?" Cloud asked, addressing Tifa.
"I'll need blood from all three of you on this blade," she said, lifting the one that already had Cloud's.
Zack looked suspicious, but he sliced a clean line of his forearm, allowing the blood to pool on the blade before passing it to Sephiroth, who did the same. "This won't prove anything."
Tifa shrugged. "It will buy us some time to get the proof we need."
Cloud shakily got to his feet and Tifa had to look away from him. "Why are you helping us?" he asked.
Aerith smiled at him. "Because we just lost an old friend to Shinra."
Cloud looked confused but nodded his head in understanding.
Tifa took the blade back and motioned Aerith to her side. "If you've lied to us this night, we will find out, and we will hunt you down to finish what we started. Now, go. Aerith needs to burn some of the surrounding area."
Before any of the men could say anything, flames erupted from the lighter Aerith had lit and thrown to the ground. As the red orange flames rose, Tifa's eyes met Cloud's and he stared at her for a moment. Something in them flickered, but was gone as if burned up by the flames. With one last look, he turned and disappeared into denser jungle.
"You let them go because of Cloud, didn't you?" Aerith asked.
Tifa turned away from the flames. "We'll see if my instincts failed me tonight. The next time we won't show them any mercy if it turns out that they lied."
"What are you going to tell Genesis?"
"For now, only that the marks are dead. The blade can be delivered to Shinra if he wishes. But until we have solid proof of what that bastard wants to do to our people, we won't tell Genesis anything," said Tifa, picking up her coat and gloves before they began their trek back.
Aerith sighed and sometimes wondered if her friend retained human emotions without even knowing it. Compassion was something she had never given any of their victims, until… it had been Cloud. "We'll have to search some sort of job in Midgar so that it won't seem so suspicious for us to travel there."
Tifa nodded in agreement but said nothing else. Her usually clear and calm mind was a mishmash of conflicting thoughts. She didn't know if she had done good in letting them go, but there was a part of her, so deep and dormant—and human—that had wanted to believe in them. Maybe Aerith was right and she had done this for Cloud, but why? It wasn't worth going through all of this trouble for a man who had forgotten who she was.
She just hoped that this plan didn't backfire on her. They were about to take on an empire, and as far as Tifa knew, none had gone against Shinra and survived.
I will try to get the next chapter up soon, and I'm hoping it won't turn into a monster. This should be five chapters or less. Anyway, though it may same that vampire-Tifa is similar to the Tifa from my fic Coming Undone, she isn't. More information will come up on their world and why she is the way she is in the next chapter. I bet you all want to know more of Cloud, too, so have a bit of patience, please! Thanks so much for reading and Valky, I hoped you liked this piece!