Thanks to Makorain for beta-ing.
Aerith turned around to face the intruders, knife falling from her fingers on the floor next to her. Her eyes quickly found Zack's. He stood utterly motionless, his eyes connecting unwaveringly with hers.
She opened her mouth but she could not find words to say. Zack's eyes slowly moved from hers to the body on the floor behind her.
"Are you alright?" He asked worriedly, his eyes searching her body for any signs of injury as he helped her to her feet.
She shook her head her eyes only now noticing his odd stance. She took a few steps toward him, his black uniform making it hard to see any injury. She noticed one of his hands was pressed tightly against his side, as she got closer she saw blood.
She quickly rushed to his side, prying his hand away to get a better look.
"How did this happen?" she asked.
Zack was silent for a long moment, eyes looking lost.
"I killed your father." He croaked.
Aerith froze. She did not know how to react. Her father had tried to kill Zack. She knew that was how it would have had to start. Zack would not have gone out and killed her father without being provoked. The more she thought about it the less it bothered her. She hated the man who was called her father. He had never treated her as anything but a possession. She knew what he had done during the wars, she had heard the stories. She knew he was a monster. His death would mean others would live. Still she did not know what she should say.
The couple turned to the door way seeing Cloud approach them. He eyed the couple quickly, noting Aerith attending to his friend.
"You alright?" Cloud asked worriedly.
Zack nodded numbly.
"It's not too bad, it didn't hit any organs." She said softly, a finger running along the outside of the bruising wound. "It should heal just fine in a day or two."
She raised her eyes to meet Zack's. His eyes looked scared, saddened.
"I'll go back to your room and clean the wound out for you."
Zack was too tired to mask his surprise. He nodded, raising an eyebrow at the sly smile coming across her lips.
"Is everyone alright?" Sephiroth's voice reached his ears pulling his attention away from the woman before him.
As he looked at the General the Governor's words ran through his head. This man had been protecting him since he was a child, even while he was still a child himself. The General seemed to read something in his eyes. He raised an eyebrow.
"You alright?" He repeated.
His eyes landed on his wound, narrowing, appearing as if he was glaring at the wound. The thought brought a smile to Zack's face.
"You were injured." He stated simply.
Vincent came into view, his expression mirroring that of the Generals as he saw the wound.
"The Governor attacked him." Aerith said, wrapping her arm around Zack's waist.
Both Vincent and Sephiroth raised their heads to look at her.
"And what pray tell happened to the Governor?" Vincent questioned in his usually silky monotone.
Aerith bowed her head slightly, once again unsure how to feel.
Sephiroth nodded his head. He walked towards the door and placed a sympathetic hand on her shoulder.
"I'm sorry." He spoke honestly.
Zack shot his an incredulous look. How could this man feel bad about the death of this monster, after what he had done to the General as a child? Again the General noticed his expression, but misinterpreted it as aggression.
"Is there something you wish to say to me?"
Zack's eyes softened. He bowed his head feeling unable to hold the man's gaze.
Zack raised his head slightly but did not meet the other man's searching eyes.
Sephiroth looked confused but nodded.
The group turned to where Vincent stood crouched over the body of the dead king. Vincent's eyes glided across the floor. He reached out a hand and picked up the silver dagger twirling it in his hand. He rose to his feet and slowly approached Aerith.
"This is the blade of a Priestess." He said smoothly. He stilled the blade in his hand, handle held out towards Aerith.
"You killed him." Vincent stated.
"Are we going to die?"
Much to Zack and Aerith's surprise, Vincent smiled.
"I don't think so, the King will no doubt pardon you."
Cloud raised an eyebrow taking a step closer to the couple to join the conversation.
"You think Kadaj would pardon them for killing his father?" He asked incredulously.
"Yes, he would actually, but he is not the King."
Zack started at Vincent as if he had gone mad. Perhaps the assassin had fallen on his head on the way here.
"I don't want to be King." Sephiroth muttered.
All eyes in the room turned to land on him.
"What?" Cloud and Zack asked in unison.
Vincent smiled; he had always wished to be present when Sephiroth would tell the others about his heritage.
Sephiroth sighed and looked at the rapt faces of his audience.
"I am Queen Jenova's eldest son. I was born before my mother married Shinra"
Zack frowned slightly, why did this all sound familiar, as if he had heard it all before earlier?
The General turned at the panicked sound of his name. Prince Kadaj came running into view.
"I thought I told you-" Sephiroth began.
The General froze, his blood running cold.
"What?" he asked in a horse voice.
Kadaj's whole body shook, tears were pouring down his porcelain cheeks.
"She's dead, mother's dead."
The sword slipped from Sephiroth's fingers falling to the floor with a load clank.
Vincent moved towards the General.
"Seph?" Vincent asked worriedly.
Suddenly Sephiroth rushed to the door brushing past Zack and the others.
"Seph!" Vincent yelled.
Sephiroth threw the door open. The lights were off in the room, the only light streamed threw the windows onto the only occupant on the bed, casting her in shadow. Sephiroth felt his heart drop, even where he stood in the doorway he could tell the woman was not moving. He walked further into the room until he was standing at the woman's bed side. Her head was tilted to the window, a content smile on her face. Most would look upon her and think she was simply asleep. He fell to his knees next to the bed, reaching out a hand to her face. He choked out a sob as he felt the cold skin under his fingers. He traced his fingers over closed eyes, trailing them to her neck. He desperately felt for a pulse, breath held. None came. He bowed his head. His mother was dead. He could not save her, he failed. He reached both arms out and pulled her cold body to his. He cradled her against him, rocking her as he cried.
Vincent stood in the doorway, watching as his lover cried for his beloved dead mother. He had left Kadaj with Zack, who had seemed more than willing to look after the boy while the General was gone. He wished to comfort the man but knew that at the moment the General would want to be alone. So he stood vigil over the beautiful green eyes and his mother of angelic beauty.