A/N: This is a quick filler chapter with some information that will be useful later. I'll have one more chapter up soon before I disapear to write my other stories, and I'm going to have to leave it on a cliff hanger, but it'll be something. And the next chapter will probablly be long. haha.
By the way, in this chapter, I'm bringing in the "Originol AVALANCHE," who only appear in the Japanese-Only game "Before Crisis." Now, I'll be honest. I'm a stupid American. So no, I don't own the game, and don't know much about it. However I have done as much research as time has alotted me. Saying that, if you've never heard of the game, know that Sears (aka Shears, depending on the translation), Elfe, and Fuhito are real characters in the FFVII universe. I tried to keep them as in character as I could, however, I have never seen any true dialouge said by them. I've only read some game scripts about them and multiple character bios. So, saything that as well, Sears is most likely out of character. Elfe is the best I could do, and I left Fuhito out of the conversations because I sorely dislike him. For anyone who knows what I'm talking about, you'll agree, no?
So I hope you enjoy this chapter, for as filler-ish as it is. It gets me to where I need to go quite nicely, however. Also, if you HAVE played "Before Crisis" or have more information that I could read/watch/learn from, I'd love it.
Next to Cloud and Vincent, Elfe is my favorite character.
Disclamers apply as always.
Cloud opened his eyes and was assaulted by the harsh white light he always associated with infirmaries. He turned his head slowly to the side. Xi was sitting at his bedside, watching him intently.
"You're awake," she said simply, carefully. Cloud nodded and looked back at the ceiling. He didn't say anything. "They ran some tests. Everything…is normal." Cloud nodded again. "No one can explain why you had something similar to an epileptic episode."
"Zack can tell you."
"Cloud…you're at the Feywood, remember? Zack is in Midgar. He can't tell us anything right now."
Xi sighed and looked down at her hands.
"You're not human, are you?" she whispered, and she didn't have to look up to know that Cloud was watching her intently. "Not all the way…There's something different about you. Humans don't do what you did. They can't…they just don't know things or act like you. You're different, Cloud Strife."
"I know." She looked up at his comment, and found him staring at the ceiling again. "I know I'm different. I know I don't belong here. But I don't know why and that scares me."
"I'm sorry Cloud."
"You're not all you say you are either," Cloud replied, staring at her again. His eyes seemed to peer into her soul, and Xi looked away.
"I know," she replied. Her hands twisted in her lap as she struggled to find words. Cloud felt thoughts drifting into his head and frowned.
"Stop," he ordered suddenly. "Just stop…thinking…" Xi frowned at him and stood up, looking worried. "I can hear your thoughts. You should go, if you don't want me to find out." She looked sad, but smiled slightly.
"You are a good soul, Cloud Strife. Something about you shines with light in this terribly dark world…" She kissed his forehead. "I'll get Fey and Aion."
Cloud watched as she left, wondering exactly what thoughts he'd stopped himself from hearing.
"Miss Fey, Aion, he's awake." Xi stood awkwardly in the door, waiting for the reply from either the Commander or the Elite. Neither spoke.
She looked at Aion, who was busy scribbling a letter to his sister. Knowing him, he wasn't leaving anything out about the situation Cloud was in, and was probably highly recommending a rescue mission.
Fey was occupying the desk, her back to the door and to her fiancé. The desktop was covered with papers from a black file-folder that was lying on the floor. She was reading over every bit of paper, staring at ever picture, trying to make sense of it all.
"When did he awaken?" Fey finally asked.
"Just a few minutes ago."
"Did he say anything?"
"He's afraid…" Xi replied. Fey turned in her chair and crossed her arms.
"Has he figured out that you're the AVALANCHE spy yet?" Xi's head shot up and she backed away. Aion's gaze flicked between the two women. "I've known for awhile, Xi. Don't worry. If I thought you—or they—were any true threat, I'd have turned you in a long time ago."
"I-I…" Xi fumbled for an excuse or something to say.
"Just assure me that Cynthia isn't AVALANCHE."
"She's not. I…I have no idea who she really is. I thought…I thought maybe she was one of…one of us…but she's not…"
"Good. I'm still holding on to your secret, but I think your connections might help us out. I need to talk to Cloud, to see what he will let me tell you, and then I think I want you to leak this information to your superiors."
"You mean…Mistress Elfé?" Xi looked nervous. "You want me to tell her about Cloud?"
"Why are you nervous? I thought she was a shy little thing."
"She…if she knows about Cloud, she may try to steal him."
"What? Like she keeps trying to do with that flower girl in the Slums? Okay, that's fine," Fey said, smiling and standing up. "He may be safer with you. And plus, you don't even know the half of it. Come on; let's go see what he as to say." She walked over to Xi and patted her head before walking out. Xi scrambled after her.
Aion jumped to his feet, dropping the letter and running after the two girls. He just about ran into the back of Xi, however, when he made it to the infirmary.
"Hey, what's up?" Aion asked.
"Where is he?" Xi asked, looking at the empty bed. "He just woke up! With the sedatives, he still shouldn't be able to move."
Cloud walked silently along the halls, relishing the feel of the cool tile on his bare feet. He was not wearing his uniform; they'd taken that from him to run the tests. He was in loose white pants and a matching scrub-top. He assumed he looked like a ghost. He certainly felt like one.
He wasn't too sure where he was walking to, either. He knew he was walking on autopilot, and that he should really still be in the infirmary, taking a nap or something.
His feet stopped moving and he looked around to see where he'd ended up.
He was in the same hallway where he'd had his last episode. The place was deserted. He wondered why he'd come here, of all places.
Suddenly, he heard someone talking. The voice kept getting closer, and it didn't take him long to figure out it was Cynthia.
She was talking heatedly to someone on a PHS. And, if he wasn't mistaken, it seemed she was talking about him.
"No, you don't get it!" Cynthia hissed, coming into view. She was too focused on her conversation to see Cloud was watching her. "This kid's the one we've been looking for! He had this whole fit last week…" she trailed off for a moment, and Cloud scowled to himself.
He'd been out for a week? Why?
"No, he started spouting out this stuff about bells. Yes those bells, you dingbat. What else rings thirteen times and no one hears it but a certain person? Yes, of course I heard something. What do you mean why didn't I start having a seizure? I can just hear the damn things. You have to be a certain person for them to actually affect." Cynthia looked annoyed, and rubbed her face in anguish. "Look, you idiot, just tell Gensig that I found the…"She stopped, finally catching sight of Cloud. Her mouth hung open slightly and her eyes widened.
"Hello Cynthia," Cloud said quietly. "Who are you talking to?"
"Shouldn't you be in the infirmary?" she hissed, trying to adopt her cruel demeanor again to hide her shock. Cloud took a step towards her.
"I was taking a walk. Who are you talking to?"
"Nobody. Get lost."
"I know you're lying," Cloud said, shrugging. "No use hiding it." He now stood about two feet from her. She took a step back.
"You're asking for it, kid. Bug off before I kick your face into the middle of next week."
"I wanted to say that I apologize for…I guess it was a week ago." Cynthia was taken about by that statement. "Whatever I said, ignore it. I wasn't the one talking."
"What the hell? Are you possessed or something?" But Cloud ignored her and reached up, taking the still activated PHS from her hand.
"Hello?" he said to the person on the phone. A startled reply answered. "Yeah, Cynthia is still here. No, sorry, she can't talk right now. Bye, Mister." He hung up the PHS and put it in his pocket. "Bye Cynthia." He turned and started drifting back towards the infirmary.
"You little…!" Cloud stopped and turned only his head to face her. His eyes glowed unnaturally, in a way that was different from mako but ever bit unsettling.
"What?" he asked, and to Cynthia he looked so frail, so inconspicuous. He looked like he was no threat at all, but Cynthia knew better. She knew, or assumed, that there was a lurking power behind that frail form.
"My PHS," she held out her hand expectantly. "It's stealing, if you take it." Her voice was level, and she tried her best to stare him in the eye.
"Oh," he said absently, as if he'd forgotten he'd taken it only a moment before. He pulled it out of his pocket and tossed it to her. She caught it. "Sorry." He turned away again, and Cynthia watched him go. She then quickly dialed into the PHS and waited.
There was no dial tone, no ringing. She looked at the offending item, confused. Then she saw it.
He'd taken the battery.
Cloud walked quietly back into the infirmary, not looking at Aion, Xi, or Fey as he passed by them. He set the PHS battery on the side table and lay back in the bed. He closed his eyes for a moment, and then opened them.
"Where were you?" Fey asked, dislodging herself from the shocked trio at the door and marching to his bedside.
"I was taking a walk," he replied.
"You're sick, you shouldn't be taking walks!" Fey replied, eyes filled to the brim with worry and bloodshot from lack of sleep. Cloud read her thoughts to figure out why.
"I'm sorry," he said, and rolled onto his side so they couldn't see his face. "I didn't think I'd worry you."
"Of course you didn't! For someone so selfless you sure do think about yourself a lot!" Fey exclaimed, and both Aion and Xi tried in vain to calm her down. "Cloud, haven't you ever once stopped to realize people care about you?" She grabbed his shoulder and forced him to stare her. "Well?"
"Mom does," he replied. "I guess Zack does. Lei and Iah, you guys. See, I do know."
"Anyone else?" Aion asked, suddenly, and Fey turned to peer at the normally quiet man. "Don't you have anyone like I have Fey? Or like Xi has?"
"I'm alone," Cloud replied, turning away again.
"What about Tifa?" Aion prodded, and Cloud tensed. He couldn't see it, but Xi and Fey looked terribly confused. "She's the girl you like, the one you're fighting for. Vinia told me. You keep a picture of her in a secret compartment that you fashioned in your left shoe."
Cloud started laughing, but it was that kind of laughing that sounded more like sobs.
"Can't I have just one secret?" he asked no one. "Something nobody knows so that they can't hold it against me. God damnit, Fey, just tell them already." He sat up and stared at them all, his eyes blazing. He was holding back tears, pushed this far to the edge of his sanity.
"We just care about you, Chi-san," Xi whispered. "That's why we want to know."
"I can read minds! Sometimes I can manipulate things, make them appear or disappear. I can teleport, I think. Or maybe just move very fast when I want to…I'm weak, mad in the head, worthless, and I'm part bat! What more do you need to know?"
That was probably the most they'd ever heard him say in one breath.
"Part…bat?" Aion asked, raising one eyebrow. Cloud just pointed at Fey and faced away from them again.
She explained best she could, about everything in the file that she had collected. Cloud put in a few comments, otherwise he, for the most part, stayed silent.
It was only hard for him because he had to relive it all. The falling, the cloaked man, the glass. And now this. She mentioned Lazard and he saw Xi bow her head to pray for the man.
Cloud hadn't been totally honest when he said he didn't know who Lazard was. He did, in a way… the first mission he'd ever gone on with Zack was because of that man. He remembered the day he'd been picked, because it had been strange. He remembered standing in his ranks with Colby walking up and down the lines and Vinia being four people away from him. He remembered the instructors standing in front saying something about the mission and Tseng was there but he had looked bored. The instructors had called out Stevenson's name, he remembered that too. Stevenson was his partner. But they hadn't called Cloud's name, because originally only one grunt, one SOLDIER, and Tseng were supposed to go.
He remembered that day because Lazard had slipped into the ranks and grabbed Cloud by the shoulder, gently pushing him forward and announcing to the room that "he was going too."
But that was it. The rest of what he knew about the old Soldier Head came from rumors and what he'd read.
They were asking him for his opinion. He no longer knew what to say.
"I just want to go home," he whispered, and buried his face into the pillow.
He had no idea where home was.
Cloud told Fey about Cynthia's phone call. He handed the battery off to her and Aion decided to stay behind while the two women left. Cloud told him he could leave; he was just going to sleep. Aion asked instead if the two of them could talk.
It didn't have to be about anything, just as long as it was something.
"Ever heard of this Gensig guy?" Fey asked Xi when they were safely out of earshot of anyone. Xi looked very worried, staring at the ground.
"I remember his name, but I cannot remember what faction he belongs to. I think Cynthia is using an alias now, but I have no proof of why."
"Are you using an alias?"
"In a way, yes. But you're the one who gave it to me. I am legally under the name Xyfing-Tei. You're the one who told them all to call me Siren."
"Well…shit on a shingle…." Fey shrugged. "Anyway, Xi, got your PHS on you?" Fey asked, stopping suddenly. Xi stopped too and looked at the Commander questioningly.
"Yes ma'am, always do." She got it out and showed it to Fey.
"Call her now. I need her to know what's going on. If we've got to get this kid out of here, it's got to be soon."
"Hun, I haven't turned you in. That is treason. But if Elfé is as strong as they say, she can keep Cloud safe. Maybe she'll know why he has these attacks."
"They're a lot alike," Xi muttered. "Like mirrors of each other. If Cloud was more driven…they'd be twins…"
"I have got to meet this girl. Now call. And tell them I'm listening. Hell, if we survive this mess, I may even join in. Dial, damn it! Didn't you hear the kid? Something's happening!" Fey was shaking, and Xi quickly dialed the PHS.
"Are you afraid?" She whispered to Fey, and was surprised when the woman nodded back. She didn't say anything more though, because they both heard:
"Xi! What are you doing calling in the middle of the day over there? Aren't you gonna get caught? Oh wait, does this mean you ARE caught? Do I need to come over there—shut UP Fuhito, she called me not you—"
"Sears, I'm fine, I swear. How's the Mistress?" Xi said to the man on the phone. They heard him laugh slightly and his voice slowed.
"Oh, she's…fine, I guess. Sleeping now."
"It's late there."
"Nah, not really. Just after supper, but you know how she is. Always working herself near to death…by the way, is someone listening in on this conversation?" Fey started and backed away from where Xi was holding the PHS.
"Yes," Xi answered. "My commanding officer, Feyore." Fey gestured for them to move into her room, which they did, and she locked the door. Over the PHS, they heard shuffling and a door shut and Sears was whispering now.
"Any reason why a full fledged 1st is being allowed to eavesdrop? Oh, hello, Miss Feyore, my name is Sears, field leader of AVALANCHE."
"Hello Sears," Fey answered. "And we have an emergency, and may need your help."
Sears did not reply to them at first. He was yelling something back at the man called Fuhito, before he spoke to them again.
"What's up? Obviously, it must be serious enough for you to be risking your neck, Feyore."
"Please, call me Fey. Everyone does."
"I don't got the right."
"Then I order you to!"
"Then I defiantly won't," Sears replied simply.
"Sears, please!" Xi cut in.
"Fey it is. What's the problem? Did Sephiroth finally lose it?" Xi snickered but Fey shot her a look and she quieted down. "Sorry, joke. You don't like it, sorry sorry. Make our lives easier, though. What can this ol' Terrorist do for you?"
"I have a soldier here that may need your protection and he might be attracting the attention of other terrorist organizations," Fey laid out the bare minimum. Xi supplied a little more.
"Remember Cynthia, the untrustworthy one here?" Sears made a noise of affirmation. "She's in league with Gensig." They heard a loud sounding "pop" as Sears' phone hit the ground and he scrambled to pick it back up on his end.
"Ah shit, wait a tick. I'll get Elfé up."
"You don't even know why their after this kid, and you're already taking it to your leader?" Fey asked, surprised.
"Gensig is only concerned with one thing, and that's bringing about Ragnarok. Damn it, that's what Elfé meant by the 'bells are ringing again.'"
"Chi-san mentioned those too!" Xi shouted into the phone. Sears seemed to groan.
"It's never good when you give someone a nickname like that," he muttered, and it sounded like he was putting his PHS down somewhere. Fey heard him whispering kind words as if to awaken someone in the nicest way possible. The two women couldn't help but smile at each other, as they both recognized the words and actions of a man in love. But Fey hid a cringe, as Sears was playing a dangerous game, falling in with the leader of the most wanted known terrorist group in the world.
They heard shifting and a muffled hello, before Sears picked up the PHS again.
"Kay, she's awake and filled in. Keep going, she can hear us now."
"Mistress Elfé!" Xi called.
"Hello there, Soldier," Elfé replied, and Fey was startled to hear how quiet the esteemed leader's voice was. It was soft, and sounded like it was rarely used. But Fey could hear the power behind the whispered speech, and knew that when this woman spoke, the world should listen. "You are well?"
"Wonderful…I was, at least"
"Sears told me. I felt change coming; now it is here. What of this Soldier?" There was a pause, but before Xi answered. "Feyore, hello." Fey felt a shiver run down her spine, but ignored it.
"Uh, Xi, continue please," Sears said.
Xi told them now, the best she could, without using Cloud's name or too many specifics, about the weird things occurring that the SOLDIER base.
"Man, this is bad," Sears muttered, at the end of the tale. He didn't seem to mind the holes in the story at all. Elfé whispered something, to him alone. "Oh, uh…Fuhito's busy, that's why he's not here." Sears' answer was loud enough for them all to hear.
"Are you two fighting again?" Xi giggled.
"Fighting? No, no Fuhito and I never fight," Sears replied sarcastically. "Don't know what you're talking about… We just disagree…a lot…about everything…" They heard a light giggling coming from his side. "Xi, you made her laugh."
Xi beamed and Fey tried not to be blinded by the other girl's happiness. She wondered what it was like, to be such a person that the sightless laugh made one's followers' glow in such a way.
"But seriously, Xi, you've got a real something going on there."
"Mistress Elfé, if I may be so bold…he seems to be a lot like you," Xi muttered.
"This Soldier?" Sears asked.
"Yes. They are like twins, Field Leader. I wonder what it would be like, if he was a 1st. The world would follow, I bet. Just like you, Mistress."
"Not so," Elfé whispered quickly. Fey decided not to point out that Cloud denied his own abilities on a regular basis as well. "This Soldier, does he…" her voice faded off. Xi seemed to understand what Fey did not.
"Not that I know of, Mistress. He...he seemed perfectly human, until the outburst."
"Then he is human," Sears said simply. "Just unlucky, but human."
"Sorry there, Sears, but no human I know has wings and sees dead people," Fey scoffed.
"Cetra?" Xi suggested. "Like her?"
"No, she'd know if there were others," Elfé negated. "He's something new. Human, perhaps, and something more."
"Like you," Fey muttered.
"I am…a creation. He is not like me. He is of the Planet's design…I am… of man's."
Fey pondered those words with a sickening feeling.
"If they catch you…" Fey started.
"They won't," Sears interrupted, his jovial tone forced. "No worries." He sounded worried.
"Right. Look…Sears, Elfé…I want you to come and get him and Xi out of here…"
"Kidnap a Soldier, huh?" Sears asked, pondering.
"Yes…We'd help you do it. He may be safer with you," Fey said.
"Look, we'll see what we can do. Do a bit more research on our end. We can't go flying into this blind. As much as I trust you, Fey, I won't risk it not being a trap," Sears said. "Xi, is that reasonable?"
"I will keep you updated," she replied. Fey nodded too, and conveyed her agreement over the PHS.
"But if things start getting hectic, Fey, Xi….you guys get us notified A.S.A.P. We can do our best to help."
"That's all we ask. This is risky business," Fey agreed.
"Feyore…" Elfé whispered.
"Does ShinRa know? About this Soldier?"
"No…I do not believe so."
"Keep it that way. I beg…" Her voice trailed again.
"I'm not handing this kid to Hojo on a plate, Elfé. I'm not," she paused. "One more thing."
"Quickly," Elfé whispered.
"Yeah, we need to stop tying up the phone lines, they'll get the suspicious on us," Sears added.
"What are the bells?" Fey asked. Xi shifted uncomfortably.
"When they ring, two types will hear them," Elfé answered. "Those who restore and those who destroy." She sounded mystified by her own speech. Sears cut in.
"Um, Elfé, Fey's not gonna get you if you start speaking like it…Fey, the Bells everyone keeps talking are known simply as the Apocalypse Bells, and legend says that when the world is near it's end, certain people will hear the Bells ring, and every time that happens, some sort of significant event will occur," Sears explained. "But, the Legends also say that those who hear, and are affected, by the Bells, have something special about them. The Bells ring in intervals, with one being minor…and so on…"
"He said he heard them ring thirteen times," Fey said evenly.
"Yes, I heard that," Elfé added. "Thirteen."
"So…that's bad, right?" Fey asked.
"Yes, Feyore," Elfé replied. "It marks the beginning of the end."
A/N : Then again, I bet Cloud is OOC too. Oh well. Enjoy! I'm going to sleep now.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? I know, the name for the "Bells" is so orginol, don't you think? haha
To Grow Wings
To Grow Wings