Dream of Me
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Sephiroth paced the length of his chamber, his body tense, green eyes smoldering with deadly menace. Damn that little bitch! Five years and he still couldn't forget her. Damn her for those tempting, rosy lips and eyes that spoke of illicit pleasures and a true innocence to hide all of that beneath.
A jeweled dagger flew from his clenched hand into the dead center of an elaborately carved and outrageously expensive wooden chest – a gift from some stupid minor noble that he'd already forgotten.
"My lord?" The timid voice of his current mistress interrupted his dark thoughts.
He glanced towards where she lay, using her elbow to prop herself up on his bed. Her golden mane spilled down her back in a glorious waterfall of waves and her large blue eyes were filled for concern. Not for him though, it would be foolish to think that. No, she was concerned for her own welfare, as she should be. Sephiroth tended to become unpredictable when angered.
She stood gracefully and made her way over to where he stood in the center of the massive chamber. Her black silk nightgown clung enticingly to her curves, but he didn't notice.
"My lord, have I done something to displease you?" she asked in a soft, breathy whisper as she folded herself into his arms.
He stared down at her dispassionately, taking in every feature. She was beautiful, of course, but…mentally he imagined her hair deepening in shade to a dark auburn, and her eyes changing to emerald green, full of naive confusion and endless compassion.
"No," he told her curtly.
Shinra had fallen easily under his assault, what with all the SOLDIERs being truly loyal to him, and under President Shinra's power only in name. The world was his entirely. He had everything.
Living this corrupt life in a world that could only be described as disgusting. Power had somehow become so…unfulfilling.
He suddenly lifted the blonde into his arms roughly and crossed the room to his bed in a few long strides. Laying her down, he bent and tried to drown out his previous thoughts in the sweetness of her mouth.
But gold-green eyes continued to haunt him.
He was going to kill her. That girl that he'd met for only a fleeting instant upon a plateau outside of Midgar. That girl whose name he still didn't know. He'd send out an entire team to comb the world for her on the morrow, and when they finally brought her to him, he'd kill her and finally put the spellbinding little witch from his mind.
"Who could she be?"
"Who knows? Maybe an ex-lover?"
" 'Wanted alive,' wonder what she did to attract his lordship's attention?"
News of Sephiroth's award for the capture of a certain brown-haired, green-eyed girl of unknown name and indeterminate location had spread like wildfire, reaching even the northernmost Icicle Village in a matter of hours.
"Two million gil!" a man whistled, "I could sure use that."
Cloud and Tifa glanced apprehensively at each other.
"Stay close," Cloud whispered in her ear.
"Don't worry," Tifa responded, "I'm not the one they're looking for."
The pair approached the nearest friendly looking face, a matronly woman holding the hand of a young girl.
"Excuse me miss, but could you please tell us what's going on?"
"I'm afraid we missed the announcement," Tifa added.
"Oh, of course." The woman smiled at the couple sadly. "It seems some poor girl's tangled with the wrong man. Lord Sephiroth's issued an award of two million gil for the her capture – alive that is." She paused as an expression of genuine pity crossed her features. "For her sake, I hope the child finds a way to hide somewhere. Goodness knows what he wants her for!"
Tifa's glanced up at Cloud's face and saw the worry there. They had both overheard the snippets of others' conversations, and she knew that he was thinking the same thing as her. Their ruler had a reputation for being cruel and destructive when it suited him.
"Did he provide a description?" Tifa asked.
"Hmm, I think they said she was slightly on the small side – delicate. Brown hair, green eyes, and they said that she probably used to work as a flower girl."
Tifa bit down on her lip upon hearing that to stifle a startled a cry. She felt Cloud's grip on her hand tighten.
"His Lordship has sent out a special team to find her as well." The woman added. "Poor, poor girl."
Cloud hastily thanked the older woman and pulled Tifa along with him quickly around the corner of an empty alley.
"It can't be." Tifa stated, truly frightened for her friend.
"She fits the description perfectly. Do you know any other flower girls with brown hair and green eyes?"
"Just because I don't doesn't mean they don't exist."
"Tif," Cloud began.
She interrupted, "Let's go find her. Whatever the case, she might be in trouble and not know it."
Aeris' house was several blocks away from the town center. The home that she'd spent precious little time in as a baby.
After Shinra's fall from power, Avalanche had disbanded. Their reactor bombings were no longer necessary after Sephiroth had redirected the research facility's focus to finding better sources of power. A new underground rebellion had sprung roots shortly after though, when it became apparent that though the mako drain had ceased, their new ruler controlled the populace with more than a mere iron fist.
Any who stepped out of line met with instant execution. And too many had died simply from angering Sephiroth.
They reached the house and Tifa lifted her hand to knock on the door.
"Come in!" Aeris called from within.
Pushing open the door, they stepped into the cozy interior of Aeris' home.
"Aeris, I thought I told you to keep your door locked." Cloud admonished her gently as he stepped into the kitchen to find her in the process of baking something that smelled delectable. "There are some crazy people out there."
She smiled at him as they exchanged a warm hug. "Yes, father." She turned to hug Tifa next. "Oh guys, I've missed you. Shame on you for not coming to visit more often."
"It's my fault. The new bar's kept us so busy. I'm sorry." Tifa apologized. "But you're lucky that we came when we did. There's something going on that you need to know about."
Aeris walked over to the counter where a cake pan filled with batter rested. She picked it up and headed towards the oven. "Oh? What might that be."
"Sephiroth's looking for a small, brown haired, green eyed, ex-flower girl."
The pan slipped from Aeris' fingers and crashed to the floor, sending batter flying in all directions.
"Oh, Gods. I'm so sorry!" She exclaimed. Picking up a towel, she helped Tifa wipe off the uncooked cake contents that coated a portion of her leg, desperately wondering if they could hear the rapid beating of her heart.
"I can't believe I did that. Ugh, so clumsy," she stated, trying to cover up her mixed reaction to what Tifa had said. She continued to wipe at the floor, avoiding eye contact with her friends.
She felt two hands on her arms, urging her to stand up. She did so, unwillingly, still avoiding Tifa's eyes from shame. Yet why she felt ashamed, she didn't know.
"Aeris, is Sephiroth looking for you?"
Aeris licked her suddenly dry lips anxiously. It couldn't be. He…certainly he would have forgotten her by now.
"I don't know," she answered in a small voice, looking horribly uncertain.
"Whatever's going on, it's serious," Cloud spoke up. "He's offering two million to anyone who turns this girl in alive and apparently there's a task force out looking for her as well. Is there any way that it's you he wants?"
"Aeris, please tell us what's going on," Tifa pleaded quietly. "You know how dangerous he is."
Aeris closed her eyes as memories of forbidden dreams and that one day five years ago came back to her.
He remembers! A part of her cried excitedly while another side only felt mind-numbing fear. God's what does he want with me?
Planet! She called. Her eyes began to lose their focus and she only vaguely noticed the concern in Tifa's eyes before all physical perception ceased to exist.
Do you believe in fate, child? It whispered.
Do you believe in dreams?
A shiver passed through her body at the mention of dreams. Believe in those dreams…?
What do you mean? I don't understand! She exclaimed in frustration.
Ah, the sweet irony of fate. You shall see in time.
Aeris sputtered, But-
To love the devil – he'll be your downfall you know.
Love him? That's impossible. He's a monster! He's killed so many.
She felt the Planet smile. But even the devil can find redemption…in the arms of his angel. So the question is…
Will you let him be your downfall? Or will you be his salvation?
Will you run and hide, force him to chase you? Or will you go to him?
My friend, what are you saying? Aeris asked, now more bewildered than ever before.
Whatever your choice, you will meet again. Destiny shan't be denied.
From somewhere infinitely far away, she heard the near hysterical voices of Cloud and Tifa calling her name.
The slow, painful pulsation of blood seemed to push against the barrier of her skull, trying to force its way out. Fire shot from her neck to her hip down one side of her body as her sudden jerking movement disturbed the stiffened muscles that had been held tensed in the same position for too long.
"She looks about right."
"I'm telling you, she's the one our Lord is looking for. She's got this crazy ability to make flowers grow even when it should be impossible."
"Well, if you're right, we'll get that reward once we reach the palace."
Aeris groaned softly, wondering where on the planet she was. Her head was pounding with malicious intent and she tried to raise her arm to clutch at it, only to realize that she'd been tied up very securely. She froze, and strained her ears to hear what she could of the conversation between what sounded like two men.
"What does he want her so badly for anyways?"
A pause. Aeris could imagine the man shrugging in response.
"Don't know for sure. Palace rumor has it that she's been driving him nuts for a while now. Sandria complains all the times these days about how rough he's gotten with her."
Oh Gods. Aeris' eyes widened with dread.
They'd taken her! And from the sounds of it they were headed towards Midgar. Towards the newly constructed, opulent palace that had been erected over the ashes of the old Shinra tower.
"Maybe she's some old girlfriend that got away?" the first man's voice spoke again musingly.
"Could be. But it doesn't matter. I heard he wants her dead."
Aeris stifled a cry of alarm and prayed that they hadn't noticed that she was awake yet.
Wonderful. Just plain wonderful.
"Dead, huh? You don't say. Man, what I wouldn't give to know what the crazy little bitch did to him."
She twisted around carefully, trying to get a grasp of her surroundings and at the same time struggling to not let the men's words drive her insane through anxiety. There – a window, behind her to the right. She leaned towards it as far as she could, bound as she was, until she could just see the world beyond. Just as she feared, she was aboard an airship. No way to get off and keep her body intact.
She leaned back against the wall as hopelessness threatened to consume her.
I have to find a way to escape!
But then the planet's worlds came back to her. Maybe it'd be better if she just accepted this maligned fate quietly and gracefully. If it was meant to be, if she was meant to die now, then just let it come.
Of course, when presented with the choices of oblivion and finding some way to save your own life, there was really only one option. People were configured like that.
I hope Cloud and Tifa are okay, she thought, forcing herself to think of something other than her current predicament. I wonder what happened. How did I wind up here?
The men interrupted her thoughts as they resumed their conversation. "Wait a minute. If he wants her dead, then why specifically ask for her to be brought in alive and well?"
"Maybe he wants to kill her himself. I can imagine that. Or," he chuckled, "Maybe he just wants to fuck her first."
The first man joined in the second one's amusement. Aeris clamped her teeth down on her lower lip until she drew blood. It was too humiliating.
"She is a hot one."
"Too flat if you ask me. I don't know why he'd want her when he's got Sandria to warm his bed. Now there's a chick with a rack!"
It continued for what felt like hours. In that time, Aeris had carefully worked the small dagger that she always kept hidden in her boot out and cut the bindings from her hands and feet. If she was correct, the ship seemed to be structured like the Highwind and it seemed to have only the minimal required crew running it. They had been overconfident, probably thinking that she was just another weak little girl.
If luck was on her side, she'd be able to make a break for it the second the airship landed. Before they came to collect her, before they realized she was no longer bound, maybe even before they realized that she was gone.
Please, she prayed.
And if that failed, well, then it was over.
Aeris carefully raised her body into a crouch as she felt the air pressure increase and her ears pop during the descent.
"I can already taste the wealth."
One. Two. Three…she counted silently to keep herself calm until they touched down.
Una, duae, tria…
She sprang up when the ship stopped moving. The pilots saw her in their peripheral vision, as she knew they would, but she paid no attention. Running at a speed she had never attained before in her life, she flew through the corridor and towards the door that led to deck. It felt like her heart stopped beating in the split second it took for the automatic door to open.
"Get back here!" one of the men yelled. Both were right behind her.
She reached the ladder that would take her to ground and climbed down as fast as humanly possible, jumping when she reached halfway. Her knees and ankles screamed from the impact. She gasped in pain, but otherwise ignored it.
Completely unfamiliar territory, unarmed, with two men chasing her, and a fate that apparently wanted nothing more than to screw her over.
She dodged through the first set of doors she saw, into the terminal building which was, just as she'd hoped, full of milling people.
This was life, in all of its glorious unfairness.
"Don't let her get away!" she heard one of her pursuers cry, followed by a loud, vile curse.
She dodged the busy human traffic, turning left and right randomly, having absolutely no idea where she was. Only two things mattered – getting away from the two that had kidnapped her and keeping her face and features hidden. Having more greedy people hoping to claim Sephiroth's award on her trail was the last thing she needed.
A restroom lay just ahead of her. Deciding to chance it, she ran into the room and thanked the fates that there was no line. She quickly shut herself into the stall and waited.
Una, duae, tria, quattuor, quinque, sex, septum, octo, novem, decem.
Had she really lost them?
Leaning wearily against the wall of the tiny stall, she let out a sob of relief, her hands pressed to her face. Gods, she wanted to hide away from the world, but she couldn't stay within the stall forever.
Think, Aeris! She commanded herself.
She needed to somehow disguise her appearance. Everyone was on the lookout for a girl of her description, so she couldn't chance walking around out in the open looking the way she normally did.
There's a gift shop just across from here. But how do I get there without being recognized?
She'd checked her pockets back on the airship and had been indescribably relieved to realize that they hadn't bothered to take any of her possessions. She still had a thin wallet of limited cash in her pocket, so that took care of temporary money problems. She could by a change of clothes and some shades to hide her eyes at the shop.
Aeris looked down at her skirt, a softly flowing pink, full length. She picked up the hem of it and pulled it up to reveal the lining layer beneath. It would have to do. With her now prized dagger, she made quick work of the skirt, separating the outer and inner layer. She used the lining as a scarf, wrapping it over the top of her head and tying it at the back of her neck to conceal her hair.
Cautiously, she stepped out of the stall and tried to act nonchalant, hoping that the woman primping in front of one of the mirrors wouldn't take any notice of her. She didn't. She spared a moment to check the effectiveness of her shoddy disguise, pulling the skirt lining further over her forehead. Maybe if she just kept her eyes downcast, no one would think to match her to the girl Sephiroth was looking for.
She stepped out of the restroom and walked towards the shop, making her best effort to not look like a runaway fugitive.
Keep your eyes down, she reminded herself, fighting with the urge to glance around and make sure the two men weren't around. Almost there.
In the shop she grabbed the first pair of pants she laid eyes on, a blue t-shirt and scarf as well as pair of black sunglasses.
I hope I have enough money to pay for this.
"That'll be ninety seven gil, miss" the cashier informed her.
Aeris never looked at him. She kept her head bent down as she passed him a one hundred bill.
"Keep the change," she muttered as she grabbed the back her purchased items had been placed in and hurried out of the store and back to the restroom.
In the privacy of a stall, she stripped off her clothes and changed into her new ones, grimacing at the color. At least they fit properly. Lastly, she replaced the frayed pink skirt lining covering her hair with the blue scarf and donned the sunglasses. So what if people didn't normally dress like this unless they were trying to hide their physical appearance for some reason. It was still better than her hair and eyes showing up like a neon sign in the night that read "Get rich instantly if you nab me."
She left the airport, all the while wondering what on the planet she was going to do now.
Damn you, Sephiroth.
"What do you mean you lost her?" Sephiroth demanded. His voice was low and quiet – a razor sharp blade disguised beneath the smoothness of silk.
The two men before him began to sweat profusely. "She just…escaped. We couldn't catch her."
"Poor excuse, gentlemen," the last word emphasized with a sarcastic sneer. "She should never even have had the chance to get three feet away from you."
The men swallowed in unison. They knew that there was no excuse for their carelessness.
"My lord, you don't even know if the girl they caught was the right one. They could just be leading you on a wild goose chase." Sandria purred. The second she met the bitch she was going to tear her apart. Everything had been going perfectly for her. That is until Sephiroth had suddenly become obsessed with some unfathomable memory of this girl from years past.
"Don't question me, Sandria." Sephiroth snapped. Frustration permeated from his bones at this sudden turn of event. She was so close – right in his capital city.
He propped his elbows up on the grand mahogany desk in front of his and rested his chin on his clenched hands.
"Sandria," he didn't bother to look at her as he gave his next order. "Go get my armor. I'm going to look for her myself."
To read the rest of this abandoned story of 7 chapters, visit my site. Url's in the profile.