I WENT THROUGH THE VALEDICTORY CEREMONY! I HAVE NOW OFFICIALLY GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL!!!! WHOA!!!

University of British Columbia, AKA the prestigious UBC, here I come! Kelowa campus, so I'll be leaving my family to experience TRUE University life.

Previously: After biting Tidus and preventing him from looking into her mind, Yuffie sets off a series of seals that locked everyone out of her cell. Yazoo, Kadaj, and Zell sees a movie in making and Reno playing vampire, much to Yazoo's amusement. Seifer Almasy, former exile and ex-SEED Commander, interrupts and demands Zell takes him to Riku. Zell refuses, but Seifer uses force to make Zell take him to the skyscraper, where a fight nearly occurs with the rest of the SEED. Riku orders them to stop, and when he unintentionally triggered Seifer's anger Fujin interferes on Riku's behalf. Seifer warns Riku of a dangerous stone sent by 'Her' to Traverse Town, before indirectly asking to return to Riku's clan. After another mind probe, Tidus deems Seifer temporally trustworthy, and Riku allows the former exile back into his forces.

"Long term consumption and you will be guaranteed that she will die"

Martin looked at the beautiful young woman in front of him. Karen's smile was sly and coy, just the way he had loved it. She placed her hand on his chest and trailed downward "get rid of her, get the insurance, and we'll be together and rich."

"You sure this will work?" He asked.

"Yes," the woman breathed heavily as she pressed the small bottle in his hand. "Tell her its vitamins or something, say it's to prepare her for your child or whatnot, coming from you; she'll take them, no questions asked. One or two tablets won't work, but if she keeps taking it…her body will die. Guadosalam is filled with many plants and herbs; we can always blame something else if the need arises. What's important is that you get rid of her and get the money."

Martin took the bottle with one hand, while the other grabbed her around the waist and pulled her closer to him "You think of everything, dear."

"Yes, I finally got this. With this poison, tonight, we can finally get rid of that annoying girl!" Martin smirked at her gleeful voice.

A few hours later, he returned to his home. Kairi smiled gently at him, he could see the barely-contained misery in her eyes, no doubt the result of being left alone with his mother. She was always the good one though, and would try to tolerate his hateful mother. He would be putting her out of her misery soon.

Taking her into his arms, he embraced her with false tenderness before giving her the bottle of tablets. He charmed her into taking them, telling her he wanted her to be healthy so that they could live a long life together, maybe with a child or a pet as well. As expected, Kairi believed him, her smile innocent and her eyes bright with hopes of their future – a future she would never see.

Martin almost felt sorry for her, almost.

What he didn't know was that, the next day when he left for work, his mother nearly had a heart attack. Kairi, trying to be helpful, decided Martin's medicine was more needed for seniors. As a result, the poison was passed onto Martin's mother instead, and Kairi never tasted the poison all.

xXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

"Squall, please eat something now."

The scarred face man looked up to see Selphie standing in front of him, a tray of food in her hands. She was tired, there were bags under her eyes, and her posture was no longer as energetic as before. Squall looked at the food, it was his favourite, but he only turned his head away and hunched deeper into the shadows.

"Squall…"

"Leave, Selphie"

"Squall, please, you haven't been eating for days now. I know that Rinoa's death upsets you, and it upsets the rest of us too but…"

"Leave, Selphie!" The snarl would have normally scared many cadets, but Selphie wasn't afraid. Rather, she set the tray down on a table and stormed over to where Squall was hunched on his bed – just a short time ago it had been Rinoa's as well. One hand grabbed Squall's fur collar and shook him.

"No, you listen to me! I've had enough! You haven't been eating since her death and it's destroying you! If you're going to go commit suicide, at least do it when your affairs are settled! The Garden still needs you! Your friends still care for you! You, Squall, are the most selfish person in the world if you think you can grieve like this while still holding the headmaster position here! We offer you a break and you refuse, but all you do is mope around locked in your room, refusing to even come out to face the sun! What happened to the efficient Squall Leonhart that I knew?!"

"He's dead!" Squall flung her arms off him and stood up. He towered over her, and Selphie briefly thanked whatever heavenly sources out there that the dark room prevented her from seeing her Commander's angry face. "He failed her! Rinoa died and Squall wasn't there to save her! If it wasn't because I left her for my duties, she would never have died!"

"And that's an excuse for you to go moping around like this and slowly kill yourself?!" Selphie yelled back "in case you haven't forgotten, Squall, Rinoa isn't the only person who cared for you! The rest of us do as well! You're so centered in your own grief; you forget the rest of us! Open up your eyes! Save yourself from fading away now (1)! Do you realize the grief you're causing US as well?! You're making us deal double with your pain, don't you realize we are also people who will do anything for you?!"

"Anything?" Squall sneered "You ought to be more careful with your words; you don't know the lengths you will all have to go through!"

"Try me!" Selphie yelled "or do you want me to call Seifer up for you? You at least have some response when dealing with him!"

"Don't you dare bring him up!" Before Selphie could blink, she found herself slammed against the wall, one of Squall's hands around her throat. Since when did he become this fast? She choked, and then sneered.

"Well, you seem all fine and dandy whenever he's here, at least I can hear some yelling back and forth. Is he your ticket to a new life, Squall?" Judging by Squall's angry breathing, she had hit some nerve. Then, just as suddenly, a soft groan escaped his lips and Squall let her go as he suddenly dropped to the floor, face lowered and hands shaking.

Selphie blinked "Squall?" He didn't respond to her, his body was shaking. She knelt in front of him "Squall…"

"Leave!" Squall threw himself back, keeping his face lowered. "Leave, Selphie! Don't come back here ever again!"

"Oh, so now you're pushing me away again?!" Selphie's voice trembled with anger. She stormed forward and grabbed his collar again, this time with both hands. "Were you listening to a word I was saying you –" She never got to finish, words died in her throat as for the first time she saw Squall's face in the light. From underneath his upper lip, two white fangs gleamed up at her. Selphie's eyes widened and she made to move back, but Squall grabbed her again and slammed her down.

"You said you'll do anything for me, right?" Squall's body was still shaking, but his grip was strong…too strong for a normal human. "I haven't eaten for so long, partly because of Rinoa's death, and partly because I CAN'T eat human food anymore. I am no longer human, Selphie. Do you know something? When Rinoa was dying, I tried changing her too, but she refused. She'll choose death over eternity with me. At that decision, I couldn't bring myself to drink from her. But now I can't resist it…the hunger is killing me…I told you to leave Selphie…but you wouldn't listen…"

Selphie didn't say anything, even she knew fighting would be useless. When she felt teeth sink into her neck, she cringed, and gripped on Squall's shoulder. His body was cold, no longer warm, no longer living, but at her last moment she'll take any comfort. She smelled her own blood, felt a ribbon of it trickle down her throat, and she closed her eyes. Squall wasn't restraining himself, he was just drinking, and with this intimate contact of death Selphie's life flashed before her eyes. Her happiness and regrets plastered themselves over her eyes, and her grip tightened. Squall continued draining her life force out of her.

Until there was a clatter of something being dropped to the floor.

Surprised, Squall looked up, withdrawing his fangs. Zell stood there in the door way, broken glass littering the floor in front of him. He was staring at Squall in pure horror.

"No…" The tattooed boy's voice cracked "No!" Before Squall could stop him, Zell stumbled back and made to turn and run, but someone else grabbed him. Zell was spun back to face Squall, his hands held to the side of his head as if in a surrender position by Seifer himself. The other scarred man was laughing.

"Finally, Squall! I was afraid you would soon die on me!" Seifer was smiling at the almost horrified look on Squall's face/ "Nice to know that you won't die yet! My blood would be wasted if I helped you, only to have you commit suicide."

"Help him?" Zell repeated, and realized what Seifer was saying "You turned him?!"

"No, I didn't" Seifer sneered at the other boy "He was dying, I offered him my blood, and he accepted eternal life with it. Because there was no exchange with his blood, your headmaster isn't even my fledging." Seifer turned his attention back at Squall "But shame on you, Squall, to drink from your own subordinate and' friend'. If you were going to drink, drink from those you won't miss. Now you'll be going through another grieving stage, as you watch another person you care for die. Unless, of course, you give her your blood"

"You sick bastard!" Zell yelled as he struggled harder, Seifer ignored him.

"Can you live with the fact that you let another woman who cared for you die, Squall?" Zell could see Seifer was enjoying this, watching the conflict in Squall tear him apart, and time was running out, each second Squall pondered was a second closer to death for Selphie. Seifer's smirk turned crueler.

"Or…do you wish to see how it's properly done?"

Zell knew what was going to happen, Seifer pulled him closer against his body and sank his teeth into Zell's neck. Like Selphie, Zell knew resistance was futile, but he tried anyways. He struggled to escape Seifer's grip and clawed at the cold vampire skin, with a sharp hiss Seifer temporally let him go. Zell stumbled forward, making a few steps, before collapsing to his knees. He looked at Selphie's eyes, which were turning blank, before turning up to Squall.

"You…murderer…" He was gasping, panting, but those words were laced with anger. Squall was watching him, expression carefully blank even as Zell finally fell to his side. He took in a few more breaths before he heard Seifer behind him. The scarred man bit his wrist, before holding it over Zell's lips.

"Life or death, chicken wuss? Darkness or venge…?"

Zell didn't know why, but even without his command his body chose life. He launched onto Seifer's hand and drank his blood almost greedily, like a child wanting more. Seifer pulled his hand back, drawing Zell closer to him like an obedient puppy. When he looked back, Zell would beat himself over it, but for that moment all that mattered was Seifer's blood. Seifer looked amused at Zell's antics, until it became obvious that Zell's thirst was unnaturally strong.

"Enough!" Seifer sharply drew his hand away, prompting Zell to make a noise resembling a small whine. The boy sniffed at the air, before nosing at Seifer's side. Seifer's smirk returned.

"For a fledging, you are already hypersensitive to blood." From his side, Seifer drew out a small pack of blood. Zell yanked it away with his fangs, piercing through the bag, before lapping at the small stream that flowed out. Seifer ran his hand down Zell's hair, and the other boy let out something resembling a purr before continuing to satisfy his thirst. Once he was finished with the bag, Zell curled up to Seifer's side and licked at the blood drops on Seifer's face.

Watching them, Squall felt less guilty about giving Selphie his blood. The girl had no chance of struggling or refusing anyways. When her eyes cleared their earlier fog, she only sat up silently. The two of them watched Zell pass through his blood high, neither wanting to meet the other's eyes.

As it turns out, Selphie didn't outright reject the prospect of becoming a vampire like Rinoa had done. Nor did she seem to need persuading to get her to drink. She first started with blood donations and supplies, before slowly moving off to drinking from criminals or people the mercenaries were paid to kill. Zell didn't want to accept his fate at all, but his body was very intent on surviving, and he moved onto feeding off humans quickly. He would smile broadly before giving into the urge to feed, crying only when the deed was done. Selphie's body didn't adjust as quickly, and for a short while she was the one who finished off Zell's victims, for there were times when after draining their will to fight Zell tried to stop himself – not realizing that the person was already going to die either way.

Through their sudden transformation, Zell and Selphie grew closer and became great friends. They helped each other recover from the trauma quickly and it wasn't long before the two of them were back the way they were before their transformation. The two began to relate more to each other, playing pranks and teasing each other about potential relationships. Squall, watching them, realized Selphie and Zell were becoming independent of their masters quickly. Zell, too, soon made it obvious he was passing the fledging stage at a remarkable pace, and many vampires they soon met were impressed with his rapid growth, Riku being no exception.

When Seifer committed his betrayal, Zell played a key role in his downfall. Acting as the obedient fledging, the tattooed boy soon proved his amazing resistance to even his Master's commands through their bond. Looking back, even Squall and Riku had to admit, were it not for Zell's role, Seifer might not have dealt with so easily.

At the same time, the acknowledgment of this accomplishment shook the vampire world. The fact that a fledging could not only disobey his Master, but block their bond from sharing information without the Master's knowledge, stunned the supernatural community. In wake of events, many masters were forced to pay more attention to their fledglings, especially the ones turned unwillingly. Luckily or unluckily, no trace of such resistance proved possible among the other ranks, in fact Squall, now Leon, was sure that Sora was probably the only other Fledging to have been able to resist. This piece of news hasn't been leaked out yet, vampires not fitting the norm were not that tolerated, after all.

It made sense then that the Jenova Vampires were now in hiding. Too bad they chose to go trespass on Riku and his SEED forces' territory, going against them in the process.

Leon silently walked down the corridors, wondering where he could start looking for the Werewolf Head. Although it was supposed to be Tidus' job, he could tell the Medium was tired after all the mind probing he had to do. In a rare show of concern, he had offered to find Zexion himself instead, allowing a relieved Tidus to head home.

Apparently Zexion was not in his usual hangouts, and none of the werewolves appeared to know where he was. As he had told Tidus he would find the werewolf, Leon was supposed to spend some effort in looking for the silver-haired leader.

Yet, when he passed by the corridor leading to the Jenova Vampire's prison, he couldn't help it. Something in him clicked, something telling him to go see the other vampire who had potential to shake the vampire community again.

The door opened before he even touched it. It bounced lightly off the wall, creaking as it moved forward in slow motion. Leon walked into the room and stared. He could only see the spikes of blond hair in the glass coffin; he couldn't see the abnormal vampire's facial expression. The spikes were moving; the Jenova Vampire appeared to be shifting, as if trying to make himself comfortable. The discomfort, Leon knew, was not because of the coffin but of the lack of blood. It was obviously beginning to affect the blond, for the prisoner was no longer screaming at him.

Amazing endurance or no, in the end, lack of food would weaken even the strong.

In fact, the Jenova vampire said nothing even as Leon approached the glass. He walked around it, so that he could see his prisoner's face. The vampire was still in his human form, there were no fangs sprouting from his lips, and by all appearances he was an innocent and harmless human. The eyes were closed, but sensing Leon's presence they opened and glowing blue stared up at him. For a while neither of them said anything, until Leon summoned up a chair and sat down beside the coffin.

"Reaching your breaking point by now?" Leon smirked. "Want me to bring a human for you?"

"As wonderful as that may be, I wouldn't put it past you to have poisoned the victim's blood already. I'll prefer human food, as I can tell right away if there's poison in it." At Leon's raised eyebrow, the other vampire confirmed "Yes, unlike you normal vampires, I can consume human food."

"You are blood-sucking creature of the night too, and let's not forget you drain your victims completely. Don't act so high and mighty."

"That I can't help, we were made that way. At least we can limit our human prey by consuming normal food. As for being of a higher class, you are the ones who force the lower vampires to work while the elite laze about. In my clan, everyone works for their share, except our leader."

"In the end, our basis is still the same. Just because you treat each other more fairly doesn't mean you're better then us."

"Vampires can still be divided to good or bad; for you, being a vampire is just plain upsetting. I have no idea how to help you with that"

At that statement of fact, Leon stood up and ran a hand over the surface of the glass coffin "If you wish to survive this, keep silent." He slammed his hand on the glass surface, and Cloud flinched. Leon made to leave, but Cloud's next words stopped him.

"Looks like Aerith won't be disappointed in you after all" Leon stopped, and turned back to his prisoner. Seeing he had Leon's attention, Cloud continued "you don't want people calling you bad, which mean you don't want to be a bad vampire."

"Tell it to a wall"

"Well, you might be a vampire in a bad mood at the moment." The blonde's lips curled upwards, Leon couldn't tell if it was a smile or a smirk. As for being in a bad mood…well, Seifer returned, enough said. Cloud looked at his captor.

"Question, how old are you? I'm a hundred and two now, you?"

"A hundred and five"

"You're older then me? How long have you been a vampire?"

"None of your concern"

"Just tell me, it's not like its confidential information"

"Eighty"

"Looks like I have more experience then, I've been one for eighty-seven years. You may call me your senior now" (2)

Leon allowed an amused smirk to take over his features. This Jenova Vampire was certainly not a normal vampire, to be able to talk and joke even despite the situation. Sure, there was no humor in his voice, and the jokes were not the ha-ha type, but it made the atmosphere more relaxed. Strange, how this Jenova Vampire could make him almost lower his guard when most of Leon's fellow comrades have been failing to for years. To ponder on these ideas would not be a good idea though, so he turned away.

"Don't just leave yet. If you have any sad emotions you want to express, you can talk to your senior here."

Hearing those words, Leon moved back to the coffin. His gaze betrayed nothing as he spoke "How would you know I am unhappy?"

"Because coming here for so long, you didn't tell me any lies, nor did you tell me the truth. So I know you're unhappy."

Leon folded his arms on the glass coffin and stared down at the blonde, yet his words were empty "How is this any of your business?"

"There you go again; not wanting to tell lies yet unwilling to speak the truth. Is it because after being a vampire, you've been unhappy?"

"You speak as if you and your leader can be vampires who are happy."

"If others won't let us be happy humans, we'll be happy vampires."

"I don't need you to teach me how to live my life"

"Don't say teaching, this is just a little heart to heart thing. When I'm unhappy, Aerith will tell me those words." The blonde stared almost innocently up at Leon, unintentionally reminding the commander of Zell. Remembering that this Jenova Vampire had fought Zell before, it made the idea strangely funny. "Don't you have anyone to talk to? Those people you were with when you caught me, aren't they your friends? To quote Aerith, if there are people, try to build good relationships with them. It makes life more bearable. It's a pity you can't talk with my leader, you'll either be fighting to talk or not say a thing at all."

"Don't think that just because you can befriend me, I'll let you go"

"I never thought you will. I just think in this world, few vampires are up to our level of respect, if Aerith was here, she'll say we should listen to each other. Everybody will be happier that way."

"Someday, you two won't think that"

"They can't break what's inside (3), Commander, remember that."

"No, but we can utterly destroy it so that there would be no inside." Leon turned to leave again, and Cloud called out his parting words.

"If you have time, you can come down and talk to me."

Leon turned back to him, but changed the subject "You and I both know that my presence could be to send you to death."

"So stay with me now that I'm facing my last solemn hour (4)" The almost accepting way Cloud said those words made something tug in Leon's cold heart. The request, too, surprised him. Leon wasn't a stranger to the fact that when people died, many wanted to have someone with them. The idea that Cloud wouldn't mind where the 'other person' was from made him remember despite his vampiric nature, despite both their natures, he could still feel like a human.

Of course, the Jenova Vampire might be just trying to lure him into lowering his guard. Leon knew if he stayed with his prisoner any longer, the success of that might become better then he was comfortable with, so instead he changed the subject.

"I'll bring some fitting food for you the next time I come."

"Thank you, I did say Aerith would not be disappointed in you." Leon gave no reply, he simply left the room and closed the door. Once alone, Cloud gave the coffin a small kick.

Sephiroth…when will you come help me? Despite what I say, I don't trust them, but I can't resist my hunger either.

Leon, in the meantime, walked out of the skyscraper and into Traverse Town's streets. His eyes examined the people he passed, but he couldn't find the Werewolf Head at all. He wandered about, keeping in touch with the vampires at the skyscraper to make sure he knew whether Zexion had returned or not. Before he knew it, he found himself in the poorer streets of the city. He walked on, keeping an eye on anyone who came into this vision.

From above, a potted plant fell. His vampire reflexes kicked in as one hand quickly shot out and grabbed the plant. He was about to put it aside on the floor, when he noticed that the plant had a message attached. A message in the form of the plant being soaked in what was very obviously werewolf blood, and there were strands of silver hair tied around the stem. Judging by smell and appearance alone, it was Zexion's.

"You received the message?" A deep voice spoke. Leon's head shot up, from above, his face covered in shadow, stood a tall man. He was standing on the edge of the balcony; no doubt this person wasn't a human. He was well built, and dressed in dark leather. The man's hair was short, but very obviously silver.

He may not be the leader they were looking for, but Leon quickly realized that he was dealing with a hostile supernatural element.

"Well, then, I suppose you know what I'm trying to prove to you." Despite the shadows, Leon glimpsed a human mouth smirking with too much teeth, teeth that changed to fangs. This only confirmed to Leon what he was dealing with. Normal vampires like him had their vampiric fangs on as part of themselves, but Jenova Vampires could morph their fangs into human teeth, effectively disguising themselves as mortals.

"Who are you?" Leon tried to ask.

"Who I am makes no difference" Leon didn't even blink, but one moment the Jenova Vampire was there on the balcony, the next he was at the street where Leon was, walking away with his back towards the Vampire Commander. "You already know what group I belong to, don't you?" Leon took off after him in a quick trot.

"Jenova"

"To know that name, you must have used your Medium." Disappear, reappear at a rooftop.

"How do you know it wasn't your associate who told us?" Jump, land on the rooftop.

"Because unless he remembers the Forbidden, he has no reason to betray us" Walk, back still to the commander, identity unrevealed.

"Are you responsible for our Werewolf Head's disappearance?" Follow; try to keep up without breaking into a run.

"If only he was just that, no, no, no, he's no normal werewolf. He's probably more then we can handle. Had we known what he was sooner, we would have reconsidered capturing him." Chuckle, disappear, reappear at another building's rooftop.

"For you to capture him so quickly, how did you do it?" Appear, walk forward, body tense.

"That's for us to know, and you to find out" More chuckling, disappear, reappear on a parking lot and blend into the cars.

"How long have you been keeping him prisoner?" Jump down to parking lot, follow the laughing shadow.

"Quite a while in fact, we planned for it even before you captured Brother" Turn a corner, disappear around it.

"What do you want?!" Leon ran and turned the corner, only to be greeted with emptiness. Something else was flung at him, and once again he caught it. It was a ticket…to Traverse Town museum.

"You probably already know this, but there's a rather worrisome stone arriving, donated by a rather suspicious patron after a request from the Guado." Leon looked up to see the shadow of the man talking to him through the window of a rather large car. The shadow spread out his hands "Wait for a call then, and we'll see how you will act. If you prove yourself trustworthy, we will discuss the conditions for a prisoner exchange."

"A prisoner exchange" Leon repeated "You want to exchange Zexion for Cloud."

"Please don't call brother that, it implies familiarity, something which would be frowned upon as much as if you had gone for a mortal without changing them." There was another deep chuckle. "I don't think I have to tell you that it would be a bad idea to tell anyone of this conversation until after the task. Be good, Squall Leonhart, you've made enough personal mistakes in your life, don't start with business ones as well. Or very soon you'll be embraced on the other side (5)."

And just like that, the shadow disappeared completely; there was a silence as Leon realized that the man had truly disappeared. He just…wasn't there anymore.

Leon looked at the ticket, so the Jenova Vampires were also concerned about the stone that Seifer had mentioned. Did this imply weakness? He didn't have much hope for that. For all he knew, the stone was probably just a test for him, to see how he would act. The Undefined Vampires were also aware of something the rest of them didn't know – the stone was donated under the request of the Guado. Well, maybe Seifer did know, and it was one of those things he reserved for Riku's ears.

The Undefined Vampires seemed to know a lot about Riku's forces. Hell, they even know that name.

He looked at the ticket. It was the opening date. Those Jenova Vampires certainly weren't wasting time.

At the mansion of said vampires, Sephiroth leaned back against the chair he was sitting on. Zack had an arm around Aerith, and they were both sitting on a couch. Kadaj sat on the floor, while nearby Yazoo remained standing by a counter as he polished a gun. The malicious smile had left his face, but Kadaj could see traces of it still lingered on his brother. Shortly after Zell had left them, Kadaj had dragged Yazoo away from the filming site. The silver haired Jenova Vampire had really been interested in watching the former slayer play vampire. Kadaj wasn't as interested, and knew better then to let his brother stay and get himself seen by the redhead. Once that happened, there was a very good chance there would be a fight right in front of the humans, and Sephiroth had told them before not to reveal their identities when they first arrived to Traverse Town.

The door opened and Loz walked in. "The Vampire Commander has received our message."

"I trust you didn't show any hint of your identity to them?" Sephiroth asked.

"Of course not" Loz answered.

"Good" The leader of the Jenova Vampires was understandably angry. Finding out that Cloud had been taken by the Traverse Town Vampires was a certainly a cause for concern. While none of them doubted Cloud's loyalty, they were very wary of the Medium, whose allegiance went to Riku. What was more, they all knew what might happen if Cloud was left alone too long. It was best for all of them if Cloud remained on Sephiroth's side, because there was a chance that without the presence of another Jenova Child, he might start to remember his past. At least they can take comfort in that his memories alone would not mean betrayal.

No, Zack's and Aerith's existence made sure of that. As long as those two were here, Cloud wouldn't try anything drastic.

This was where Zack's proposal came in. Sephiroth had decided that there was be a prisoner exchange, and it would happen preferably quickly. The sooner Cloud was back among them, the better. Since it was Zexion they had caught, Riku's vampires would most likely follow their conditions.

While they were at it, they might as well see whether or not they can get rid of that stone as well. The Jenova Vampires knew enough of the stone to be worried about its presence here. So to kill two birds with one stone, why not send one of Riku's most powerful vampires to deal with the problem?

"Knowing the Vampire Commander, even if he doesn't tell the whole SEED force, he still might tell someone. We will have to be more indirect about what we need him to do." Sephiroth turned to the other two Stigma brothers "How is the stone?"

"We went out earlier with one of Riku's vampires under the guise of simply passing by." Yazoo began.

"From what we heard, the stone's already arrived; they're setting it up now, under surveillance of several Guado" Kadaj finished.

"Zack, turn on the television." The dark-haired man obeyed, picking up the remote and switching the huge screen on. They were in the right channel, for there in the screen were several Guado and a large dark rock, pulsing with faint purple electricity.

In another mansion, Tidus returned to his home to see the grim faces of Wakka and the YRP group. They didn't say anything to him. Wakka only led him to the television and pointed at the screen, where the same rock was shown. A reporter's voice was talking.

"…this is one of the most sacred treasures the museum has ever had the honour of holding, the stone is well known for its legends of exorcising demons and other evil, supernatural spirits…"

Tidus' eyes widened. He stared at the screen, and turned to the YRP group, the three girls looked grim.

"That's…"

"It's the right stone, alright" Rikku grimaced.

"As much as I'll like it to be otherwise, I'll recognize the stone anywhere" Yuna confirmed.

Tidus looked at Wakka. The redhead's fists were clenched tightly; his eyes looked torn between anger and fear. It was an expression Tidus hadn't seen for years, and it spelled disaster for the rest of them. Tidus looked back at the screen, proudly displaying the stone, and felt his throat constrict. He forced himself to talk.

"An exiled vampire came back to Riku today, warning us of a dangerous stone sent by a dubious source. I didn't think it was as dangerous as this…"

"Well, this is definitely bad, especially to us" Paine added. "How much did the exiled vampire know?"

"I didn't hear his full explanation about his knowledge, but I don't think he knows about our…role in the stone."

"Are you sure of that?"

"If he was aware of it, knowing his personality, he would have thrown a few veiled insults or mockery in my way. No, I don't think the vampire knew of the history of the stone, just its potential."

"Does Riku know of this?"

"The stone?"

"No, our role in the stone"

"Well…"

"Tidus, don't beat around the bush! We created this stone; we were the ones who hid it! We need to know exactly how much Riku knows! Did you ever tell him what you did?"

"Yes" Tidus nodded "I told him, that was why he took me in. Because I tried to do what I have done, and it nearly killed me." Tidus looked at the rest of them "I'm still aware, to this day, that were it not for the rest of you I might have died. To this day, I regret it (6). Riku doesn't know in detail what your roles are though; he just knows you were all involved."

"Is that so…" Yuna ran a hand through her hair "I don't know whether that will turn to our favor or not, but as of the moment, keep the information quiet. That information, however, isn't the main problem."

"We have to destroy the stone" Rikku clarified "But by ourselves, we can't do it, we're not powerful enough."

"At the same time, we can't ask for Riku's help. Telling him that would have him asking us for more information" Paine pointed out. Wakka groaned.

"In other words, we have to try it ourselves? As we all know and stated, we're not powerful enough! Otherwise we would've destroyed it from the very beginning!"

"We weren't powerful enough back then, but we can try again!" Rikku shouted.

"And how do you expect us to do that?! It's right in the museum! And you heard the reporter earlier! There are Guado guards keeping the stone guarded!" Wakka shot back.

"As if that would stop you! You were the one that started fighting back when we were at Guadosalam!"

"I unintentionally got involved with the mercenaries, it wasn't intentional!"

"Well, you certainly had no qualms about killing several Guado units!" Paine countered.

They were fighting, and it was pretty serious. His abilities as a Medium allowed Tidus to feel their emotions. They were angry, but frightened as well. They remembered what happened with the stone, and it still affected them deeply. Tidus raised his hands, trying to stop the quarrel, but they were no longer paying attention to him. His four friends were all shouting, and their fiery feelings overwhelmed him, drowned his soul, and he felt like choking at the onslaught.

"ENOUGH!!" He roared, and his voice effectively spread over the room and silenced his friends. They stared at him, taken aback at his sudden and uncalled for fury, before remembering what they were doing. Wakka swore.

"Shit! I'm sorry, man! Are you alright? Did our anger-?"

"Yes" Tidus answered, voice barely a whisper. He closed his eyes, and reached up to massage his forehead; at least his yell had effectively doused the flames of his friends' anger. Now they felt quieted and slightly shamed, more passive emotions in comparison to earlier. He opened his eyes again, making a point of avoiding his friends'. "I need to sleep; Riku's kept me up with poking into several vampires' and a werewolf's minds enough. I don't need to feel your wraths as well" The others didn't stop him, though Wakka made to move to his side. Tidus gripped on the other Blitzball player's hand as he was lead to his room. He didn't need the help, but it made him glad that there was someone who would always help him even after he yelled at them.

He took a quick shower and changed. Once he stepped out, Wakka wordlessly handed him a glass of water and a sleeping pill. The blonde thanked him with a grateful nod before heading to his bed. After he swallowed the pill, he fell into his dreams, but while his body rested his mind kept him up.

He found himself in a familiar room, surrounded by beautiful decorations and lights. He sat down, and the other person in the room surveyed him with an almost pleased expression.

"I didn't think you'll actually come into my dreams" He smiled, Tidus shrugged.

"I didn't think I would, either, but for the sake of treaties I should pay my respects. Speaking of that," Tidus eyes' narrowed "why are you letting the Stone into Traverse Town? Exactly what are you plotting?"

"Now, now, no need to be so suspicious" The other continued to smile "I'm just…curious about the full extent of the stone's legendary power. It is something that should be displayed to the whole world."

Tidus said nothing, he understood Seymour Guado's words. Seymour wanted to display the power of the stone to the whole world by testing its powers, potentially starting with Riku's forces. The Maester would never admit it either; he would probably orchestrate the attack and make it seem as if everything was an accident or something along those lines to keep himself blameless. Tidus felt the other man's barely-contained excitement brush over him, and his own body grew cold.

He knew he couldn't do anything, not in this dream, and not in reality, for politics and Riku forbid him. Not only that, but Seymour already suspected him as being responsible for Guadosalam's latest tragedy. Strangely, the Maester had kept silent about the issue.

It made Tidus uneasy, and even more wary of the political manipulations Seymour was planning against Riku and the vampires. The Maester had already moved in, announced himself to Riku, literally purchased Sunset Street, almost had Riku's fledging killed, and was now bringing in a stone that could destroy the vampires. What was he planning next?

How Tidus wished, at its creation, that they had been strong enough to destroy the Yu Yevon Stone.

(1) "Open up your eyes / Save yourself from fading away now" came from the song Heart of Everything by Within Temptation. It's one of the most awe-inspiring songs I've heard
(2)
Leon and Cloud were 25 and 22 in the game; I changed it to 105 and 102. Assuming Leon was turned at that age, 105-25 is 80, so Leon's been a vampire for 80 years. Cloud became part of Hojo's experiments at 15, so 102-15 is 87, but at that time his body was not truly 'adjusted' to Jenova so his vampire traits were non-existent. It isn't till the Sleeping Forest memory does Cloud become a true Jenova Vampire, not aging and stronger.
(3)
"They can't break what's inside" also from Heart of Everything
(4)
"Stay with me now / I am facing my last solemn hour" originally missing the 'That'
(5)
Actually "Very soon I'll embrace you on the other side", but that wouldn't fit would it?
(6)
This is the beginning of an answer to the question in Chapter Six Supposedly Honest Answers, exactly what did Riku meant when he said Tidus tried something he regrets to this very day?

If you want to hear the song, simply go check it out on youtube. For me, I listened to a fan video someone made of the Harry Potter movies, that was how I fell in love with the song: http://www DOT youtube DOT com SLASH watch?vv4JJ-fxeV44

I crammed in today's promotion. First scene with Martin and Karen from Guadosalam, it was based on a scene in the 2nd volume of Godchild. Really nice art, the manga, but it was never made into an anime so it's not that popular.

Chapter Twenty Promotion Anime: Godchild