Past Hauntings
By Dora Cianfarra
Chapter 1

Writer's comment- This is my first time ever, characters are not mine (don't I wish) story is. I have dyslexia, so any grammar problems, please be constructive. thought,

The survivors of the virus, called Geostigma, decided to pay their respect to those dearly departed by having an annual reunion at the 7th Heaven bar. Later it became a statuary holiday celebrated in the community hall of Midgar.

At the first annual, Tifa had made sure that the whole gang was present to be honored and were seated as per their function in the new assembly. Reeve Tuesti and Rufus Shinra were at the head of the table (behind them was Rude and Reno as heads of security) and while Tseng and Tifa, Executive Assistants sat opposite of each other-next to their bosses. Cloud Strife, Chief Trainer was opposite to Elena-Assistant Trainer. At the other end sat Vincent Valentine-Region Director, Cid Highwind and Mr. Barret Wallace-Public Directors. Red had returned to his native land to visit family and would return when the next meeting was in session.

The public was sitting as per region like in hockey arena format. Each region brought out lists of needs by priority. As Tuesti and Shinra reviewed some of the lists, Tseng and Tifa handed out packages of census to all regions.

Tseng spoke into the mike," Once these census packages have been returned to us filled, we will begin to address your requests as soon as possible. If you have skills in administration and can spare some time to volunteer, it would help us to help you process your needs faster. Please see Mr. Valentine, who will be in charge".

Valentine visually stiffed to the word of "Mr." but said nothing because it was going to be a new system and the regions administrators had to have something to call him. Vince's eyes glowed in soft amber as he stared at Reeve responsible for the predicament he was in. Reeve gave a small smirk but it was Shinra's eyes that caught his attention. Lately, Vincent had noted Rufus, at odd times, gazed at him. Those eyes brought reminders of the previous Shinra, who was responsible for sending him to Hojo because of that one night.

Security had been tight due the flu and he had the misfortune of doing guard duties for the old Shinra,which released him from guarding Ms Crescent, research scientist. This particular shift, the elder Shinra had company in his suite. There was quite a bit of screams coming from that room. Vincent thought to himself that the old fart had some kinks going on that was too gross even to think about.

Suddenly, the door flew open and a girl ran out screaming for help meanwhile old Shinra screamed at Valentine for her capture. Seeing the knife wounds on her skin was the first step to his betrayal towards the old boss and the beginning of his dismal life. The boss had ordered his last punishment of 20 lashes for his disobedience and drugged to be manhandled by Hojo as he greedily accepted the boss's 'gift' for his lab.

Vincent remembered the look of the young Rufus, when he saw Vincent in chains being led to Hojo's laboratory - it was a shocked whitened face. Vincent had been aware of the boy's crush but he barely paid any heed to it when working for the father, he was a professional and would not be distracted by such nonsense.

Vincent felt a nudge, looking at the direction it came from, he saw Cid mouth out "what's up". Vincent gazed at him as to say 'let it go'. Cid knew that vacant look was about memories but he knew when not to push.

Ears back to the meeting; Rufus spoke to the crowd, "Dear citizens of Midgar – We, the new assembly, keep these positions temporarily until we can find qualified people to replace us. We will maintain order and police the city to the best of our abilities, depending on the amount of manpower supporting us. If there is anyone who would like to join forces in maintaining peace they may do so. Please give your names to Mr. Cid Highwind and Mr. Barret Wallace"

It was two hours later after the last civilian left the bar with the information of a new meeting place, hours of operation and the various departments available. The gang hung out a little more when Tifa gave them a free round of beer to savor their first day, what was to be the dawn of a new world. Both Reeve and Rufus discussed about the efforts required to bring back the city back on its feet. The co-operation of all citizens was needed to bring it back to life.

Vincent had kindly refused the beverage and opted to leave the premise…being part of this made him feel out of place. His lungs craved for fresh air and was aware of eyes on him as he left 7th heaven bar. The evening air was crisp and after a lungful, he stared out to rising full moon. He smiled to himself when he was tempted to howl, as Cid always bugged him about it when they were out on nights restoring the city on its feet.

"Now that something you don't often see" an amusing voice trailed behind him. Cid came into view to join him. "What was on 'your' mind that brought on the smile, hey Vince? Me underneath you, with your splendid naked body on top of mine, meanwhile we are both screwing beneath the moon?"

Vincent looked all flushed and turned away from Cid preventing himself from gutting his friend. He understood the teasing but it was always difficult to listen to the jibes. His distraught soul would never allow another being come close to his person again. Cid tried to bring him out of his shell but every sensation held him paralyzed. Cid knew Vincent needed help with the traumas of his life and it seemed his efforts were for naught. That didn't stop him though. "Cid …you are so vile ...please!!"

"Damn-sonabitch what's so vile about that? Is it me-"

"No, it has nothing to do with you but me …just leave me out of the equation" Vince moved further into his raised collar as to hide from the world.

The world wouldn't let him be.

He heard the footsteps coming behind him "Humph, sorry to disturb you but Rufus wants to see you." announced the ever so faithful servant- Tseng.

"What does he want now? I'm leaving soon" Vincent eyed him with an angry stare.

"He wants to clarify some information on the people that saw you earlier" Tseng responded in bored-mild manner.

"Fine, let's go." He turned around and gave Cid a quick farewell with downcast eyes.

Cid only stared back with an itch to slam his friend against the wall and kiss him passionately but luckily it was only a passing itch which died instantly. "See you at the next meet. Vince" with hunched shoulders, he left the area.

Vincent stared at the retreating friend and inhaled a pained breath for a sec. Vince turned to follow the Turk inside, a mark of another sin.

Rufus watched the dark specter coming to join him and he forced his mind to return to the thoughts of work rather than thoughts of tortured memories. Ever since the last meeting when Vincent brought his Turks – Elena and Tseng, seeing him alive had shocked his being to the core. He had barely maintained it under wraps. Although his anxiety for his friends had took over control and helped him to maintain a conversation.

Vincent had arrived at the table as he noted that Rufus was distraught with something on his mind. "Rufus, do we need to continue tonight? I want to leave now."

Sensed that Vincent was brimming on impatience, just made harder to face him right away. Focus your mind on the papers in front of you, geez man trailed in his mind when looking down the papers in front of him then to Vincent, said with an easy smile, "Sorry to keep you waiting Vincent but I needed tell you where you would be stationed tomorrow morning unless you wanted a 5am call."

"Why so early?" Vincent eyes drew wide.

"Only to set up the office as you would like it, in order to meet your needs. I also had to give your keys since you had left the bar early." Rufus eyed him quietly as waiting for a response or retort.

"Oh I see… thank you" Vincent took the keys but Rufus held on to tell him" I will be dropping by tomorrow to see how things are, if you need anything else"

Vincent eyes met Rufus for moment as he responded, "If I need anything, I call- thanks"

Rufus wished for longer moment and acted instinctively- held Vincent's human hand in a excuse of a handshake."Welcome aboard Mr. Valentine" with a teasing smile.

Vincent saw he was trying to break the ice and had not gutted him for the gesture. If he wanted to help the people of this city, he had to get use to the feel of the human handshake at least. Vincent gave a quick nod and left. Leaving Rufus staring at his back.

TBC