I'm posting this for Zemydemyx66 the guest: OhHaiItsMe. Who after all that time came back and reviewed. Thank you. Chapter 40 is already finished, but for us getting to the big 4-0, it's shorter than all the other chapters but super special.
For anyone that might be wondering, which might be many, My plan is to stay with the Canon timeline. Meaning Zack will die. However if a person or two is interested in me typing up an AU version of everything(meaning a mini series of sorts), I would gladly do so.
Lazard was kind enough to return and inform me of our progress in great detail since I lost consciousness in Gongaga. The Army was fighting against the Turks to find us first. Genesis was prodding us towards Banora and the worst part was that with me knocked out the way I was, this was taking longer than it needed to. Lazard mimicked Zack's words, claiming it'd be easier with me awake to help.
I don't know how long after it was that Zack woke up but when he did you could almost visibly see the weight had lifted from his shoulders. It warmed me in my very core to see him better than before. It wasn't long until we continued our trip out. Lazard flew above us, scouting almost as we moved along the road, occasionally going off the road when we were given a signal.
We stopped other times moving quickly to hide, or leaving Cloud with Lazard as Zack and I fought to save our lives. I couldn't understand why this was so terribly important for them.
Why did they want us back so badly? My thoughts rampaged and I could feel the power of the poison spread. I fought with it by myself until Zack intervened speaking to me assertively and brought me back to myself. "I've only been awake a day, when is this going to stop Zack?"
He shook his head simply, "I don't know." I took a deep breath and nodded. I couldn't understand how Zack had done this. The poison was practically eating me alive. Its presence in my body causing my mental capability to fall. I found it hard to sleep for days and more often than not I was mentally attending to myself whenever I was left with Cloud. I wondered how he was doing. Now that I was conscious again I couldn't sense him like I could before.
We moved from island to island on smaller boats, easily getting rid of the little cash we had on us. By the time we reached the mainland we had nothing but the clothing and swords on our backs. Lazard was getting more tired as the days passed by us. I stopped keeping track after a week. I had never traveled so far, or so long in my life.
I pulled my dead cell phone from my pocket, wondering what time or what day it was. I stared at the black screen hopelessly, the roar of the engine surrounding me. My dug my head into Zack's back, the Buster sword underneath my chin as I felt the urge to cry overwhelm me. It was such a sad tired fate we had come to face.
How many years ago was I an icon to the world? How many months? I barely fought in the true Wutai war, but as soon as Sephiroth pulled me under his wing I was pulled into the fray. I was given a crash course in the bloody, horrifying affair of war. I was barely a Second class then. It was one thing to kill a fiend. It was another to take someone's life. Sephiroth was much more refined in the way of it, but as my mentor he walked me through the recovery stages. Barely a week later, I was back into the fray and now, taking a life didn't bother me so much.
Third class SOLDIERs didn't see nearly as much action as the higher leveled SOLDIERs. It wasn't my prowess in battle that gained me attention. It was Sephiroth. My fame rode off of his. I was famous because he was famous. Shinra started pushing me into the front lines of publicity stunts so the people started to get used to me, and start to realize who I was and why I was so important.
My image blew up, I was everywhere Sephiroth was. There was a significant rise in interest among the citizens as my image became well known. Women wanted to join SOLDIER, little girls wanted to grow up to be as Strong as me and in the children games they'd always choose me as who they played as, men wanted to join SOLDIER to meet me, boys wanted to be my friend. SOLDIER grew in size as my face spread across the world. From Wutai to Mideel.
None of that mattered now. What was I to do…. As if sensing what was wrong with me, Zack pulled one of his hands from the handle and covered his larger one with my own. I didn't say anything. I was grateful that he could be so strong for the both of us. A strength I myself didn't have.
We were stopping for the night I noticed. I lifted my head to see a defensive clearing. Lazard stumbled to the ground from the skies and Zack turned the motorcycle off. I wondered briefly when the gas would finally run out. But we had been lucky as of yet so I remained silent on the matter, not wanting to ruin our luck. In the end it was I who had pulled my hand away from him and got off the bike.I was determined to give meaning to my duties and walked around straight to Cloud.
"Hey there big Guy, feeling alright today?" I asked him as I pulled him up quickly. I pulled his arm around my shoulders as Zack moved to set his place to "sleep". "We've been traveling so much and I've been doing so much thinking sometimes I forget about you. I hope you're doing okay though." I paused pretending to hear his voice finally respond to me as I began to lay him down. "Thanks Chocobo." I mumbled finally as I smiled at his face despite it not looking at me and put him down. I returned to the bike where Zack was fumbling with something.
As I stopped next to the bike to grab my blanket out he stopped his fumbling suddenly. I glanced at him slowly, my hand and body moving away from the blanket gradually. He looked like he had something to say.
"What's bothering you Eves?" My heart stopped, he had noticed. My eyes fell from his Mako blue ones and to the grass underneath us. I turned my gaze to Lazard but he didn't seem to be paying attention.
"Honestly? All of this. Everything about it… It's gut wrenching. I don't remember being so sad in my life Zack. Ever. Being so unsure of what was going to happen," he laughed ever so lightly, and I could tell what a hollow sound it was.
"I know Eves, it's…. something we're going to get through. We're SOLDIERs we can handle anything. Even…" he paused, to look up at the night sky. "Even this." He looked back at me, his gaze was piercing, strong. I wasn't good at reading people's eyes, I didn't see the sparkles everyone else saw or anything, but just this once as I stared at Zack, I could see what his eyes were saying.
I pursed my lips and nodded once. This is what we had to do. This. We had to fight Genesis, escape the army, the turks, the copies and make it to Midgar. Where Zack would speak with Aerith about something or other and I… well I would be a shadow. Forced to hide from the public in an attempt to stay away from Shinra's eyes. I felt my SOLDIER courage fill up and I looked at Zack who was watching my face.
"What are…" I trailed off. Zack walked up to me and nodded asking me to continue. "Have you decided on what you're telling Aerith?" It was his turn to freeze. I knew this would be touchy, but why not ask now when we were alone?
"I… have. I decided before this ordeal what I was going to tell her. She needs to know…" he voice began getting smaller and softer. "To know that I've made my decision and that I'm sorry I hadn't told her sooner. I didn't know this would happen. It took even me by surprise."
I chuckled, "I've seen you Zack, you've been seriously thinking about this. This isn't a spur of the moment ordeal. You've been thinking long and hard."
"I didn't think that my feelings would change. Certainly not this fast," said Zack.
"You've cared for Aerith for a long time. A few solid months, I'm sure even if you break up that she would understand and remain friends. Aerith is much too sweet to hate you." I encouraged easily, finally grabbing for my blanket.
"What if I'm not worried about Aerith and I staying friends?" My eyebrows rose as my eyes returned to his.
I looked him up and down once, a nervous feeling filling up my body, "What does that mean?" His expression turned resolute. He was going to say something and whatever it was, I knew I wasn't going to like. My eyes fell quickly and I shook my head before he could answer. "Never mind." I took my blanket and walked away from him. I didn't turn around to see his face, or even stay up long enough to let him convince me to come back and talk.
I laid my blanket down, ripped Harpenger from my back and stabbed it into the ground with ease. Instantly, I plopped down facing away from the fire Lazard had been taught to build. I refused to stay awake, even to eat. Suddenly, I wasn't very hungry.
The two boys whispered, and I made quiet noises so I wouldn't hear them. I was being such a child I realized. I sniffed and stared at the forest waiting to fall asleep.
I wasn't sure when I had fallen asleep, but Lazard woke me up instead of Zack. His touch was on my shoulder and my eyes flicked open. I turned to look at him and he nodded. When I looked around, the boys had already packed up. I rolled my blanket up quickly and pulled Harpenger onto my back. Zack was silent; his gaze was away from mine. He looked tired, terribly so. I forced myself to not comment on it. I sat on the back of the motorcycle and stared out. Today I would enjoy the view. I watched as the trees flew by, as mountains grew tall, and as Lazard flew overhead.
We were riding faster today than any other day that I remembered. My thoughts naturally flew to Zack. I thought about the very first time I had met him.
We had only seen a glimpse of each other. The day I had come in for my SOLDIER test he was the one removing his helmet. Sure I didn't know that then, but now that I did I chuckled realizing how much he had been a part of my life in SOLDIER. He was so important to me and he wasn't leaving anytime soon…. At least I hoped.
I had been having a particularly good day, Zack just managed to put the cherry on it. I had a checkup with Hojo early in the morning and that went perfectly. He was upset that I hadn't grown differently than the rest of the SOLDIERs but he had taken to muttering to himself about it rather than actually saying anything to me. Soon after the checkup, one of the second class soldiers had spoken to me, commenting on my gender. As if I wasn't aware that I was female.
Back then I didn't have near as much backbone or ability to back up any threats so I attempted to respond respectfully. Turns out Zack had been looking for me, his interest in me the same as the Second class before. Females weren't supposed to be SOLDIERs. By the time I was ready to deck the guy in the face Zack came running over telling him how I knew the Great Hero Sephiroth personally. The guy left immediately afterwards, and I assumed it was so that Sephiroth didn't come after him.
As soon as the guy was gone Zack was hitting on me. Back then I had only stared at him confused. My gloved hand rose up to touch the earrings he had gotten for me. Even when after we fell out for a few months it was like nothing had ever changed. As soon as we get to Midgar things would change again. Whatever he was going to tell Aerith would change things. Not including the fact that the world's most powerful company wanted our heads on a silver platter.
I sighed, the weight of everything hitting me and my SODLIER confidence dancing away with the landscape. I couldn't fight with the one person in the whole world who was trying to help me rather than kill me. My forehead thumped against his sword but I could hear him turn his head at the sound. One of my arms wrapped round his waist and he squeezed it.
What would I do without Zack? What would I do when he left Aerith and we couldn't return to Midgar?
I glanced at Cloud. What if Cloud never gets better? My stomach was sloshing violently with worry. It felt like every time a good feeling filled me I remembered all of the bad things that were happening now and it was gone as soon as it came. Even being close to Zack didn't help my nerves. Combing my thoughts just led me back to how did all these things happen. It was a circle. A vicious circle.
There was a tug on my mind. That same tug from before. My eyes flew open and I Squeezed Zack's hand scared that I would fall into that vicious sea green again. His hair tickled my face as he turned in concern I locked eyes with him trying to silently convey what was happening.
We pulled over and he parked the motorcycle to look at me, the pale color of his face hit me, but he was focused on trying to figure what was wrong.
"Evie, look at me. Is it the Mako?" I nodded, afraid that my voice would fail me. "Just stay with me Eves. Don't move." I gave him another nod and he smiled softly. "We're getting closer to Banora, I promise. Just stay with me. I need you to watch Cloud for me." All of my senses were focusing on him, I was rooted to this world through him. I kept telling myself that at least. I took deep breaths and watched his features, the bags under his eyes, the pale color of his cheeks and the thin look his face had. We needed a real meal. We needed so much.
But we needed our freedom from this torture. My lips moved before I could filter my thoughts. "This… is going to kill us; isn't it?" Zack seemed taken aback by my words.
"Eves your mako poi-" I cut him off abruptly.
"No. This running and fighting, and running some more… it's going to kill us. Look at yourself Zack. I've never seen you look so unhealthy." His eyes fell at those words and he pulled some out from the motorcycle bag. A potion. The bright green color shimmered before us, like a beacon of hope.
"I was saving this for if we ever had an emergency. I know we used most of our supply earlier when we thought this would end sooner, but I did save this one. We'll drink it. Together." I felt little as he popped the top off and made me drink half before finishing it. It was bitter but the warmth that followed was unmistakable. Strength filled me, and I noticed Zack's face return to normal. My thoughts weren't nagging me, the feel of the Mako wasn't tugging at my conscious.
It wasn't perfect, but it was enough. I smiled to see Zack's features healthy again. I bit my lip and took a deep breath. He nodded and jumped back on the motorcycle.
It was so much easier to focus now and to not feel so tired or burdened. Suddenly Lazard swooped down and pressed a finger to his lips. The motorcycle was shut off and we listened silently. My enhanced hearing picking up on nearby movement as we waited silently. Lazard rose to the sky slowly and gave us a nod. With a turn of the key we were off again, this time moving around whatever had been following us. The moon was up and a hand of mine reached out to pat Cloud's head.
Things were looking better. I wasn't so caught up in my emotions and my poisoning seemed to be under control for now. Zack looked like he wasn't nearly so frazzled himself. I squeezed his side gently and smiled at the smirk he threw at me.
It was some hours later, after traveling off road that we pulled up to… somewhere. Zack walked off the bike, his eyes only on what lay before us. "it's so different now." I heard him breathe. Lazard landed in front of Cloud and I, stumbling a bit. I hadn't even thought about the kind of degradation he was going through.
"Can you watch those two for me?" I heard Zack ask. I started to step away from the bike as Lazard responded positively. Then we felt it, a spike of some sort. Zack and I snapped our gaze over to swirling… something. He turned to glance at me before running off.
"H-hey!" I called after him. He slowed to a stop and turned as though in a hurry. "I.. Just… Be careful." He saluted me and I only nodded in response. He was gone soon after that. Lazard sat soon after and I walked to the edge of the cliff, where Zack had been standing. I pulled Harpenger from my back and gazed at the way the full moon and the mako fields shimmered across the metal.
She was long and weighty. Or very cumbersome, in Sephiroth's eloquent words. Smaller than the Buster Sword, she was in the same condition my brother had bought her in. Just above the hilt was a place where an inscription could be written. I don't know if my brother had even mentioned what he wanted to put there, but in his honor I never so much as dared to have something engraved on it.
My thoughts to my twin brother. I never found him. Even now, years after joining SOLDIER, I hadn't even heard so much as a whisper of where he was, or if he was alive. My head dropped solemnly, and now it was too late; defected from Shinra, I would never find out now.
My Mako infused eyes turned to Lazard, Gaia he looked so tired. I turned away from him and placed Harpenger back on my back. "You ever think things would turn out this way?"
"Never," I turned to glance at him just as he shook his Angeal head.
"When things get bad like things, it's the last thing anyone expects…You being a copy, Zack and I being defected, and Cloud being practically dead." I sighed softly.
"You and him had the potential to take over the media; the corporation had such high expectations for you two to be worth money," he breathed. My eyebrows furrowed and I gazed at him confused. "Way Before this, we were expecting you two to be together, become Midgar's hottest couple. People love that stuff." My cheeks turned a brightly red and I spun on my heel, my long hair tickling my elbows. He continued, "So Why not?"
"Why not, what?" came my oblivious remark.
"Why not date?" I laughed sardonically.
"Lazard… I don't know if you notice, but now is not the time to be focused on dating my best friend. We're running for our lives. We're fighting every day for our freedom. He just ran off to go very possibly fight Genesis to the death," My voice had raised as I spoke. I retracted it now. "Besides he has a girlfriend."
"Word has it, his heart cares for someone else more now."
"Maybe so, but whoever this new girl is can't replace what Aerith meant to him. First Love and all that. He'll always love her, even if she lives miles away…"
"Sounds like you know that feeling," I choked in response and shook my head stubbornly.