Redemption

By: Quinctia

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Part 1— Even a Downward Spiral Starts in the Clouds

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Fourteen years after Reunion:

Chapter 1

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Beams of light peeked through the trees, resting finally in a speckle pattern on the floor of the forest. The crash of ocean waves against the rocky cliffs below could barely be heard on the top of Mt. Crist. Raieyana knelt at the last small monument in a row of others that were perfectly tended. She placed a few frail blossoms in front of it: lily of the valley, the first bloom of the new spring.

"I found them on the way up. They were the first I've seen since autumn, so I had to bring them here to show them to you. The trees are too thick for you to get flowers here anyway." She brushed a hand over the name carved in the stone. Jack Reno.

"If I had know this forest would grow over you...I would have cut the trees away. I hate to think you can't see light from here. Not that you are here all the time, but I like to think you can know that I'm here sometimes, remembering you. Remembering the times we shared, even though we were together for such a short time." Her voice fell to a whisper. "Reno, my love..." She did not notice the figure hiding amongst the trees, watching her. Standing, she brushed the grass from her dress, and walked back towards her house.

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She slid in, silently, and snuck up behind her husband, wrapping her arms around his waist.

"Ray!" The tall, dark-haired man pulled her close for a quick kiss.

"It's beautiful outside, Reeve," she said softly, "it's finally seasonal weather for this time of year."

"I can't believe it took close to twenty years for the Planet to recover from the effects of Meteor."

"Well, honey, Meteor was a small planet, you know. More than just some big rock."

"Oh, I know that all too well." Reeve winked at her and smiled. "I was just glad to actually have winter again. This year was the first time in ages I've seen snow anywhere but Icicle Inn. We'd get frosts before, but they were always way too short. They killed the flowers for a couple months. Now, we might be able to have winter festivals."

Raieyana sighed. "It's hard to believe that remembering winter used to exist in this part of the world marks you as an 'old person.' We're still young." She looked at Reeve, and tried not to notice the places where time had left a mark on his still-handsome face. (There are a few smile lines, and he has a little gray at the temples, but...he looks well for his age.) She still found it hard to believe that her dashing, adventurous lover had not only passed forty, but had been past it for a few years. (He can't be forty-seven...)

"No," Reeve laughed. "We're not old. I'm old. You're still young, vibrant, beautiful..." He let his voice trail off and slowly whispered in her ear. "...incredibly sexy." He let his gaze slide up and down her lithe, trim figure. Raieyana was thirty-eight, but looked about ten years younger, with a youthful face and a body with curves that had stayed in all the right places.

She giggled and showered him with kisses. "Good thing the kids aren't around, or they'd be rolling their eyes. Besides," she continued, "I'm aging too."

"You barely show it. I'm not being flattering without cause. You look like you spent the past ten years in an airtight container."

"I think I would be a rotting corpse if I were in an airtight container. I need air to breathe."

He grinned. "Nah, you wouldn't rot, microbes need air too..." "Reeve!" she groaned. "You are impossible."

"Thank you."

She kissed him one last time. "I see you started dinner."

"Yep!"

"Good...I love you! Today has been a long day." (I wonder if he remembered... What today is.)

"Take a nap, then, Ray. This will cook for awhile. Sweet dreams." Reeve smiled as Raieyana walked to their bedroom. (She looks so pretty today. I wonder what she did with those flowers I saw earlier...)


Raieyana lay back on the queen-sized bed she shared with Reeve. Nestling her head on a soft pillow, she drew the covers over herself and began to reflect on the strong emotions that had overtaken her at the memorial. (I have never felt so upset before at...the anniversary.) Her sadness was understandable, for that day had been the fourteenth anniversary of Jack Reno's death.

Fourteen years had passed since the mako explosion had obliterated the land within a two-mile radius of Midgar. Any talk of rebuilding ended that day; the charred remains of the city looked like the aftermath of a nuclear detonation. Few people in the world knew the events leading up to the destruction that took place that day. Avalanche kept quiet, and the only thing the public knew for sure was that Shinra had been defeated, once and for all. Its old city, Midgar, was uninhabitable, while its new glory, Edinborough, had been reduced to a charred shell by the attack of a mysterious army in transports from Junon.

(That's the way we wanted the news to stay. We wanted the mystery to last. But because of that, Reno's sacrifice for us was forgotten. His sacrifice for maybe the entire Planet. After all, he destroyed any piece of Hojo's work left in Midgar. And except for a few people in Junon who remember how he and Reeve let themselves be taken hostage to save their city...no one has an inkling what happened to Jack...only that he disappeared and left his share of the company to his partner's wife. Sure, that doesn't look suspicious.)

After a few years in Junon, Reeve and Raieyana decided to move out of the city and back to Undor-Hai. Leaving the company in the trusty hands of Yorlain, they retained only stock in the company; that was, after all, the way the kids were going to have funding for any schooling they wanted. (Calling them kids is really stretching it these days) Raieyana mused, (and they would probably resent me doing so.)

The twins, Aeris and Ishmael, had reached twenty-one, and on their way to it, set the community on fire quite a few times. Aeris loved to wear her golden blond hair waist length, and she enjoyed flaunting her slender figure by wearing tight, short clothing, usually pink. She claimed it helped her fight more easily, and all she had to do was bat eyelashes over her pretty green eyes to convince her daddy that was the truth. Reeve always said that he could "never say no to Ray's eyes...even if they happen to be in the face of my strong-willed daughter."

Ishmael had grown to be as tall as his father and also looked quite a bit like him. Luckily for anyone trying to tell the difference between father and son, his dark hair contained some of his mother's fiery highlights, and his facial features were a delicate reminiscence of Professor Gast, his great-grandfather.

Brother and sister were strong as steel and rather devoted to one another, as well as their parents. In fact, they still hadn't moved out of the house, which Raieyana wasn't minding too much...yet. (I missed a bit of their childhood, and now I'm older, and I appreciate having them around while it lasts. I don't expect them to stay forever...I hope they get lives of their own in the future. But it's good that they're here. Patrick would miss them so much.)

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Patrick had grown up quite a bit in his fourteen years, but that was only normal. What wasn't normal was the rate of his development. He stood five feet, eleven inches tall, weighed about 180lbs., which happened to be almost all muscle, and had the look of someone who had reached, at the very least, eighteen. Raieyana knew his development wasn't totally complete, because her younger son still retained a bit of immaturity. Most of the time, Patrick only acted like the fourteen-year-old that he was.

His looks were striking. Pale, silvery-blond hair framed bright blue eyes, which glowed not only because of the mako in his veins, but also because of the fierceness contained beneath them. Even though the actual idea was rather absurd, Raieyana often thought to herself that her son looked like a hypothetical love-child of Cloud and Sephiroth. Patrick did not question that Reeve was his father, however; luckily for Raieyana's story, his sister also was a blonde, and that helped Patrick look a little less out of place.

His actions sometimes, however, were out of place with those of his family. Even as a small child, he had been an aggressor; also, while the antics of the twins were small bits of mischief that usually brought the community amusement, the things that Patrick had done sometimes ended up in the creation of outrage. Once, after falling off a chocobo, a nine-year-old Patrick killed half the settlement's livestock in a fit of rage. Reeve paid for replacement animals and duly punished the boy, but every single time Patrick was punished for something, even by Raieyana, it raised his level of resentment for Reeve. It was almost as if he could sense the lies about his origins.

(For all his faults, he's still a good boy, smart and strong...) Patrick also had a fierce dedication to his mother, one that seemed almost Oedipal in nature. (I know he'd protect me, and he is definitely not what I had expected fourteen years ago. I wish Reno could see him and see that all we fought for, just for the fruits of a crime... Perhaps that was all we thought it was, but Jack...it was worth it. Although I wish the price of his life hadn't cost us all so much.) Raieyana's last thought was so secret, that she whispered it even inside her own mind. (Sometimes, Reno, I wish he was your son. And that there was some way I could have proof that what we shared was real... It's getting fuzzier day by day... Can I even remember your smile? Your eyes? Other people leave behind paper trails...nearly all proof of your existence has been destroyed. All I have are a few newspaper clippings. No pictures of us, together. Sometimes I wonder if it was a dream...and if it was...am I better off having woken up...? Or would I be better off lost in slumber—if, while I was there, I was in your arms?)

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Raieyana nestled her head back against the soft pillows, sighing quietly. She slowly drifted off to sleep, willing herself all the while to dream of flaming red hair, a tousled blue suit, a cocky grin, and eyes. Blue-green mako eyes.