The House of Strife
By GQ and Zhak
Disclaimer: We don't own anything. Final Fantasy 7 and Kingdom Hearts belong to their respective owners.
GQ's Note: Uhm… this is like an Alternate Universe fic, so stop wondering why Aerith and Rufus and President ShinRa (plus several other "dead" guys) are alive in some parts. Anyway, the concept is somewhat based from the movie Ju-On (…or The Grudge, both parts one and two… the original Japanese version)
Chapter 1: Tseng
That morning was cold. Clouds hung low and oppressive in the stark blue sky. A chilly wind flew through the cemetery in the peaceful town of Kalm. The scent of flowers smelled fragrant, but left a bitter feeling for those who smelt it. Everyone was dressed in black. It was the burial of the Strifes.
Friends and family all gathered round as they paid their last respects to the couple. The coffins were closed. They wouldn't smell the blood that had once covered them both.
"I understand they hadn't found their son yet," whispered a man to a woman.
"Kyah… I think the President isn't stopping the search yet… even though it's been quite a while now. For all we know, Sora might have been killed too." she answered in a whisper.
The President heard them, but said nothing. He felt the lump in his throat grow bigger, but he still wore the poker-face he is so known for. He turned to his wife. Her crimson eyes were blood-shot. She held a wet handkerchief in one hand. "Tifa…" he said in a low voice, almost gently.
"I can't believe they're dead now… why? What has gotten into Cloud that night?" she whispered. She sobbed again.
Rufus said nothing. He put an arm around his wife's shoulders.
One by one, they went to the coffins and either prayed for their souls or say a few words that they didn't had the chance to say to them before. Then they were buried.
Flowers and handfuls of dirt were thrown in before Cloud and Aerith were buried, with hopes of sleeping peacefully under the earth…
She looked up curiously from her paperwork. Then she stood up quickly and saluted. It was the President. Rufus was looking at her with a cold look on his face and he looked a bit troubled too. "Follow me." He instructed.
She blinked in curiosity before nodding. Rufus went ahead of her and she followed quietly. "What is it this time?" she thought silently to herself. As they rode the elevator, she thought silently, "Maybe he found more clues on where Mr. and Mrs. Strife's son is… and he wants me to verify it. Poor kid… I wonder what happened to him… it's been a month ever since after his parents had been buried…" she thought to herself.
Her eyes widened when they finally reached the floor where the quarters are located. Rufus went straight to his Old Man's room.
Tifa was just standing in one corner with a tired look on her face. Elena could hear Old Man ShinRa's babbling, scolding Tifa about several things, emphasizing to her that he hated her so much. "You don't deserve my son! You're just a girl from the slums and he's…" he was stating when Rufus entered with a stern look on his face. The Old Man turned to his son and smiled sweetly. "Oh hello sonny boy! I was just telling your wife that she's the loveliest creature in this building." He lied.
"Elena, I want you to phone Reno and the other Turks. Take this disgusting old bastard to that old house in Sector 2." Rufus instructed coldly.
"WHAT?!" Old Man demanded, but he could not get out of bed. He could not even walk. His legs had been paralyzed because he suffered from a stroke just five months earlier. Rufus hoped that he would just die but unfortunately, he survived and is living with the family again because the doctors said so.
Tifa turned around, gazing outside the window with an annoyed look on her face. "At last the Old Man's going away. I can't take him anymore…" she thought to herself.
"Old house, sir?" Elena asked.
"The Strife's old house. The bank just sold it to me. I figured we could put Old Man there instead of putting him at the Home for the Aged." Rufus explained.
"Why you…" and Old Man ShinRa started cursing his own son. Rufus just rolled his eyes, numb to all of his father's words and cursing. "Be thankful that I am still considerate to let you have your own house to live in instead of just dropping you off somewhere in Sector 7 and letting you live a life of a beggar!" Rufus snapped impatiently before turning to Elena who was already phoning Reno.
"Who told you to do this to me? Don't you have any respect for me, boy?!" Old Man gasped and turned to Tifa. "You whore! You brainwashed my son into thinking that I am a bad father, didn't you!?" he demanded angrily.
"I beg your pardon?!" she demanded in shock, turning back to him with a look of disbelief on her face.
"Hey, watch it, Old Man! My wife is not a whore unlike your concubines! And no, she was not the one who brainwashed me into thinking that you are a bad father, because you are a bad father in the first place!" Rufus snapped angrily before turning to the door when the rest of the Turks finally arrived. Rude, Reno, Tseng and Vincent just stared curiously at the scenario. Rufus approached Vincent, the new leader of the Turks who is also one of his closest friends with Cloud. "Take Old Man to Cloud's old house. He's going to live there from now on. I'm sending a nurse there to take care of him." He instructed.
"A nurse?" Vincent asked.
Tifa frowned and approached Rufus. "Make sure the nurse isn't voluptuous or else he might do something stupid to her." She muttered before stepping out of the room with a frustrated look on her face.
The former President Eikichi ShinRa now found himself being wheeled by one of his Turks in the abandoned Sector 2 House. Despite being in a well-to-do Sector, the house is quite small and rather humble-looking. It wasn't the extravagant mansion that the Old Man was thinking of. "Oi, Rufus… You've really disowned me and sent me to die a miserable death here," he muttered, loud enough for the Turk to hear.
Tseng frowned. He turned to his other colleagues and his boss. "Aren't you coming in with me?" he asked.
Reno shrugged. "Nah, I'll stay out here and have a look around… probably find a dead body or something," he went towards the garden, full of yellow, pink and white flowers that Aerith used to take care of. Rude shook his head and followed him.
Elena bit her lower lip. "I'll be watching the car, sir," she said before going in their vehicle again.
Tseng desperately turned to Vincent. Vincent was looking up at the house, as if searching for someone in the windows. "Sir?" he asked.
"Tseng," he began. Then he shook his head. "No, I'm not coming in. Too many bad memories… I'm sorry."
The Turk sighed. "I understand sir." Then he turned to his former President. "So, let's go in now."
"Yeah, whatever," he grumbled. The wheelchair moved smoothly towards the front door. Tseng opened the door.
"Let me see… I think this is your room, sir," he opened one of the sliding rooms from the living room. It was a small guestroom, fit for one person. The design was almost minimalist, if it wasn't for a few flowers hanging by the windows. "See, it isn't as bad as you thought initially."
"Don't talk to me like that, Tseng. Rufus left me here to die. I guess I'll have to die living like a poor man. Stupid room," he grumbled. "Well, carry me to my bed. I'm never leaving it again."
Tseng cringed before he did as he was told. Once the Old Man settled in, he opened the bedside lamp. "Make me my dinner and bring it to me. Then you and your other Turks may leave me…"
"Yes sir." Tseng left the room. Eikichi sighed as he looked around the room. "It's not so bad, once I get used to it… I sure hope it isn't haunted," he muttered to himself.
He froze. Something on the ceiling moved. He looked up. It was only the shadows of the cars that pass by. "I wonder if I can survive a night alone here…"
Meanwhile, Tseng was in the kitchen, putting the spaghetti they had packed for the Old Man in a plate and getting some water. He was arranging the utensils on a tray. "Those Turks… just because they're disgusted by the Old Man doesn't mean they have to make me do all the dirty work… next thing I know, I'll have to change his adult diapers for him, too…" He flipped his hair over his shoulders. "Oh well. I hope Mr. Valentine gives me a raise." He carried the tray and started walking to the former President's room.
From the corner of his eye, he saw a figure run in between the sliding doors from the living room. He jerked. Some water spilled from the glass. "Was that… Reno?" he asked himself. No… the figure was too small.
"This house is giving me the heebie-jeebies…" he thought to himself as he shook his head. He walked in the ex-President's room.
"Hey, Tseng, we're at your place now."
He snapped out of his thoughts. "Oh… thank you," he said as he opened the car door to get down.
"Heh… by the way, thanks for doing most of our Old Man duty," said Reno, giving him a U ROCK hand signal.
"If only I were your boss again," Tseng said teasingly. "I could have given you a salary deduction."
"Well, you're not. Right, Vinny?" Reno said, nudging Vincent. He frowned at Reno before turning to Tseng. "Once again, Tseng, I must thank you for taking care of Mr. ShinRa. I might give you a raise."
"Thank you, sir. Well then," Tseng waved at them. He heard the car zoom away as he entered his building.
He reached the elevators and opened the doors. He pressed the button to his floor and leaned against the wall, closing his eyes. The lower floors are seen zooming past the grates at the door.
Briefly, Tseng opened his eyes. He could have sworn someone was staring at him, even though he was alone.
The elevator rang. "Well… that was weird," he muttered to himself. Getting his room keys from his pocket, he walked towards the door to his room.
He entered. It was the same lonely apartment. Clean, but lonely. He was the only one who lived there. Sighing, he clicked on the lights and dropped on the sofa. "What a day."
He stared up at the ceiling. The room was so quiet. It reminded him of the fact that he is, indeed, alone in this world, at that moment. He desperately wanted another person in the room, somebody to talk to, somebody to look at—
Preferably, the one he had been treasuring ever since his younger days. Aerith Gainsborough.
She's Aerith Strife, Tseng. Was Aerith Strife, he thought to himself bitterly. She was it—she was the only one who had the ability to make him feel…
And he hated Cloud Strife more. Tseng had been content to see Aerith so happy with her new life with him. He was content watching over her…
But now she's gone. And Cloud is to blame.
I wonder sometimes… what life would be like if the impossible happened. If Aerith somehow chose me to be her husband, instead of that bastard Cloud…
"What?" He felt a suspicious shadow move in the room. He stood up quickly. "What the hell?!" he searched the room frantically, looking left to right. Nothing visible, but the presence is there.
He turned around. His eyes widened. "Ae… rith?" he said in a hoarse whisper.
But… no. That is not Aerith. Aerith was beautiful. The being looking at the Turk is a corpse… a corpse with the same hair, the same build, the same eyes…
She strangled him. "Ou-a-a-a-a…" a loud croaking sound, inhuman to the ears, escaped from her mouth. Her eyes were wide, as if she was trying to shout, but unable to.
Tseng couldn't breathe. "Aerith! What are you doing?!" he wanted to shout, but he could only choke. "No… I'm dying…"
Extra note from Zhak: We picked "Eikichi" as President ShinRa's name… well, because we felt like it. grin It's based from a character from the anime/manga/TV series Great Teacher Onizuka, named Onizuka Eikichi. Well, there's your bit of trivia. On to the next chapter!