Final Fantasy VII
The Diamond Rose Glass
Notes: The characters from the games are not mine. Dalton, the Rakesh brothers, and all other OCs are mine, as well as the story. This takes place between Weep Not for the Memories and Good Luck and Goodbye, and began as a way to explain what happened to Dalton when he vanished in the former story. A mystery dream I had inspired most of the rest of the basic plot. The above stories do not need to be read for understanding of this one. It takes place in my Twilight and Dawn verse after Dirge of Cerberus. Sephiroth is sane again and they're on Earth. (And I've actually seen a park with the . . . unique monument that the park has in the first chapter.) Many thanks to Kaze, Lisa, Crystal Rose of Pollux, and anyone else who has helped with the plot!
The sound of the keyboard echoed through the otherwise silent office. With efficient, rapid clicks, the document was being brought to a close.
At last the typist leaned back, removing his reading glasses. Tired green eyes looked towards the panoramic view of the city through the window. Evening had fallen some time ago, the last rays of twilight fading into night while the other buildings' lights illuminated the darkness. Their silhouettes cast varied black shapes against the sky.
A slight motion seen out of the corner of his eye caused him to turn and look towards the green couch. Cloud had been looking over paperwork for a while. Somewhere during the time the silver-haired man had been typing, Cloud had fallen asleep. Now he was laying on his back, the folder open on his chest. It rose and fell as he breathed, the pages rustling.
A vague smirk crossed the other's features before it faded. They were all so exhausted.
It had not been that long ago when Zack had tumbled over a cliff with their enemy Dalton. For days Sephiroth, Cloud, and the others had searched diligently to find him, but to no avail. Even though Sephiroth had not given up hope, it had been hard not to fear the worst. To even consider that Zack was lost to them was too much to bear, yet it had seemed the truth.
But then Zack had returned--cold and weak and stumbling down the mountain, yet alive. To even try to describe what Sephiroth and the others had felt at that moment was nigh to impossible. So many emotions had overwhelmed them all when they had seen Zack struggling to get over to them. They had already lost Zack before, when he had perished saving Cloud. Sephiroth had deliberately pushed Zack away from him before that, when he had lost his mind at Nibelheim. And now that he was sane again, he had been Zack's close friend once more. He had gone out to meet Zack, hugging him close when Zack had embraced him. His heart had been full.
Zack was recovering steadily, much to his friends' joy and relief. He would not suffer any lingering ill effects from the fall.
But he did not remember what had happened to Dalton. The man largely responsible for Zack's spill had not been seen or heard of since then. The Rakesh brothers had continued to search for him, without success as far as anyone knew. By all indications, he had plunged into the frozen current and had been killed over the waterfall.
Sephiroth was not certain he believed it. Zack was safe. What if someone had found Dalton too? Or maybe Dalton was deliberately in hiding. Though it did not seem that he would turn against the Rakeshes. Maybe they were hiding him. Maybe for some reason, they wanted Dalton to be thought dead by most people. It could be part of some new scheme they were plotting.
With a sigh, he leaned back in his chair. He could not deny that some part of him would be relieved if Dalton would not be able to hurt them anymore. But at the same time, he did not want even that man to suffer a painful death. He could not forget the utter horror and dread when he and the others had wondered if Zack had crashed into the jagged rocks at the bottom of the waterfall. That would be a sickening death for anyone.
He stared at the computer screen. There had certainly not been a lack of work to be done during the current two weeks of Zack's recovery. Sephiroth, Cloud, and Angeal had taken on more of the load, and Zack's secretary was doing her best to keep the promotions department afloat. Zack insisted on doing whatever he could, and had been having Seph and the others bring work from the company so he could take care of it at home.
Now Sephiroth looked back to Cloud. The blond was still sound asleep. He turned his head to the side, a low snore issuing from his lips. The smirk crossed Sephiroth's features again.
He turned back to the computer, switching to the browser window. It had been a while since he had gone through the emails received for the company. There were several more that had arrived by now. Dalton often sent messages to taunt his hated enemy, though today there was nothing from him, of course. But there was instead an email that did not look familiar. Sephiroth frowned. How did strangers keep finding his email address? It was supposed to be private. Bringing the cursor over to the link, he clicked.
The message that loaded was not pleasing.
Mr. Sephiroth, sir, I know you don't know me, but I work in one of the departments at Jenova Corp.
Recently I've found out about some illegal activities going on right under our noses. I know you wouldn't
be involved in it, so you must not be aware of it. But I don't want to say too much through email;
this could be intercepted. Please call me so we can arrange a meeting to discuss it.
What followed was the person's cellphone number. There was not a name or even the department where the sender worked.
Sephiroth's eyes narrowed. There had not been any illegal activities at Jenova Corp since the embezzler a while back. But this did not sound like a joke. And there was still the matter of how his email address had been gained. An employee at the company would be able to find it out. He had better try calling the number, at least. If he was being told the truth, then something needed to be done. He would not tolerate Jenova Corp being used by criminals.
With another glance at Cloud, he swerved his chair to face the window. Drawing out his cellphone, he tapped in the number from the email and brought the phone to his ear to wait. It rang once, twice. . . . After the fifth ring, he was ready to hang up. Maybe it was a prank after all. Or maybe the person did not currently have access to the phone.
"Hello?" The voice was muffled. It sounded feminine, but it was hard to tell for certain.
Sephiroth kept his voice lowered as he spoke, not wanting to awaken Cloud. "This is Sephiroth, the company president of Jenova Corp," he said. "I received a message informing me to call this number."
"Oh!" The person sounded both relieved and worried at the same time. "Mr. Sephiroth, sir, I must speak with you, as I said. But it can't be on the phone, either."
"Then come to my office," Sephiroth said.
"I'm afraid they'll see me going there, sir," was the apologetic response. "I'm at my home, but some of them may still be at the company building. Can't we meet somewhere else?"
Sephiroth grunted. "There's a park near the edge of the business district," he said. "Is that agreeable?"
"Yes, sir. But can you pick the exact spot in it, too? I don't want them to hear a thing about where I'm going. I don't know what might be bugged or if I even might have been followed home."
Either the employee was paranoid or this was very serious. Sephiroth leaned back. "Within twenty minutes I'll be waiting in the east parking lot under a street lamp," he said. The only reason he knew of the park's layout was because he had been present once or twice when Marlene had wanted to go ice-skating. Sephiroth had never engaged in it himself, of course, but he had taken her there.
"Thank you, sir!" The relief in the voice was evident. But a click followed these words. The call had been ended--hopefully by her and not by whoever might be following her.
Sephiroth closed the phone, easing himself out of his chair. This was very odd. But her concern and worry had been genuine. She believed something was amiss, whether or not it actually was the case. He would have to leave immediately to make it to the park first.
He turned back to the computer, clicking the word processor. After saving his document, he closed the program and selected Shut Down from the Start menu. Once the computer was at work accomplishing the task, he walked past to the door.
Cloud stirred, blinking sleep-filled eyes at his friend. "Where are you going?" he mumbled.
"To the park," Sephiroth grunted. "I won't be long."
"Okay." Cloud shifted position, beginning to doze again.
Sephiroth allowed a bit of amusement to creep onto his features as he took up his coat from the other couch. If Cloud had really been awake at all, he would have wondered what on earth Sephiroth was doing going to a park on a cold winter's night. He still wondered that a bit himself.
Slipping his arms into the coat sleeves, he pulled the black cloth around his body. It felt warm and familiar after all these years. He had had many coats made to look like it, since it had been his favorite thing to wear. And it still held that position. He hooked the belt at the waist, heading out the door. Behind him, Cloud had fully sunk back into sleep.
It was an especially biting night. The sky was clear, revealing the stars twinkling in its midst. They shined on the snow covering the ground, adding new sparkle to the ice crystals. As Sephiroth stepped out of the limousine after parking in the east parking lot, he could see his breath in the air. But he had never been a slave to the cold. Ignoring the chill, he walked to the lamppost by which he had located his car. It had almost been twenty minutes now. The employee should be coming before long.
Yet after ten minutes he was still alone. A frown crossed his features. It was doubtful that she would have gotten sidetracked. Had her enemies caught up with her? Or maybe she was just wandering the park in confusion, unable to find the right spot. He drew out his cellphone, pressing the redial button to contact her again. The ringing continued to echo in his ears. No one answered. Frowning more, he ended the call attempt and placed the cellphone in his pocket.
He would wait a few more minutes and then look through the park, just in case she did not realize which was the east parking lot.
Perhaps in spite of his surety of her sincere nature, he had been wrong. Maybe this was an elaborate practical joke. He would have to hope that she was not really an employee of Jenova Corp in that case. It would be serious grounds for firing her. No one had the right to play a joke on him unless they knew him very well, and even then, he would hope that they would have enough courtesy not to waste his time. This was extremely unfunny.
Five more minutes passed. The disgruntled businessman turned, making his way to the cleared walk. Hopefully she would be somewhere on the path. He did not have his boots with him, and snow gathering in his dress shoes was not a pleasant prospect.
The park was empty and silent, save for himself. Without any breeze, even the trees were still. For most it would be eerie and unsettling, perhaps almost like a cemetery. (There was actually reportedly someone buried in the park, one of the early settlers of the town, though Sephiroth had never bothered to look up the location of their tombstone.) But Sephiroth had faced far worse than a lonely spot of snow and trees--most of which were hibernating. There was little that could frighten him anymore--not that much ever had.
Though his one worst fear had been his destruction in the end. And not only his, but many others', as well.
That would never happen again.
He had accepted what he was; having Jenova's cells in his body did not make him a monster. He had made that out of himself by his own actions. But now, after everything . . . he was just a man. Just a tired, determined man wishing to live out his life with his friends. They were what made his life meaningful and rich.
What was that, laying off to the side in the snow? His eyes narrowed as he turned for a better look. No one in their right minds would be sprawled like that for the fun of it. His dress shoes forgotten, he plowed into the white. It was definitely a body, sprawled over a slab embedded in the ground. A thick coat and a hat prevented much about the person from being seen. Two sets of footprints were leading away from the form. At the side, a purse's contents were strewn every which way--minus the wallet. It looked like a random mugging.
Sephiroth bent down, pulling off his left glove to touch his fingers to the neck. A weak pulse throbbed, the indication of continuing life. He dug into his pocket for his cellphone.
The body recoiled from his touch. Feminine eyes flew open, focusing on the man crouched beside her. The bleeding lips parted.
"Mr. Sephiroth . . . sir. . . ."
It was the same voice from the telephone, as he had feared. He looked to her, his finger poised to dial nine-one-one.
"They came . . ." she whispered.
"Who is 'they'?" he demanded.
"Smugglers," she choked out. Her eyes fell shut again, her body going limp. The weak breath continued to rasp out of her beaten body, but it was slowing. There was no time to process her words. Immediately he tapped out the desired number, placing the phone to his ear.
"Send an ambulance to the Domino City Park," he ordered as soon the dispatcher answered. "A woman's been badly beaten."
"Which part of the park?" the dispatcher asked.
Underneath her body, Sephiroth could just make out some of the writing on the slab.
"The East side. . . . She's laying on top of the monument to whomever is buried here," he replied.