Disclaimer: Squaresoft owns the two most important characters of this story, but Movitriss belongs to me - it doesn't make me feel very proud, but still… *sigh*
Author's Notes: There's going to be a lot of remarks this time… First of all:
"I hate Movitriss! Make her die!!!" - I practically burst out laughing every time somebody writes that. Keep flaming her - I don't mind your spiteful comments! ^_^ Actually, I'm very happy to know that the original character I created makes you show such signs of excitement… ^___^
Secondly, lots of people say my English is ok., so I guess I just have to trust them… (though I'm still very skeptical…) Thanks for the flattery, anyway!
It took me quite long to post this chapter, mostly because my flat was being redecorated (which means: ruined ^_^; ). My computer lay safely in a box (somewhere under lots of other boxes T_T ). Every day I had to get up at six o'clock, in order to do my homework in the school library, before the lessons would start (not to mention staying after hours for the same purpose). Plus, I had to sleep at my friend's house, which was - as expected - great, but also very exhausting (we didn't get much sleep that night, right?). Altogether, the previous four weeks have been terrible, I tell you… and the work's not finished yet.
Anyway, here's the next chapter of No choice left! I still can't believe I've made it so far! Oh, and thanks for the reviews! *bows deeply*
"We are never more true to ourselves than when we are inconsistent." (Oscar Wilde)
* * *
She slowly opened a window, tracing her fingers along its dilapidated, yellow frame. An incredibly sharp frost and a howling, bitter wind of an upcoming snowstorm greeted her. Ignoring the weather, she took a deep breath, inhaling the fresh air. Then she gracefully extended her hand and a thick snowflake fell on her palm.
"You shouldn't have stayed that late with your friends yesterday."
"Probably not." Kyro agreed. "…But I simply had to say goodbye to them. I'm not gonna see them for long, right? Gods! Coming to think about it… I've never been outside the Promised Land before. I'm so excited about this entire journey! …Aren't you!?"
The memory of his cheerful voice sent shivers down her spine.
(He was only twenty, for the gods' sake…) She had never felt so angry before. (Just a kid… Why did he have to die!?)
She hit the window's frame with her fist. The blow was hard and she nearly whimpered, raising her injured hand to her mouth. The physical pain made her dizzy. The sensation lasted only for a few seconds, though. Then it was replaced with something else… something much more painful.
She was doing her best to kill her feelings, but it didn't work very well…
(Don't try to pretend. You miss them. Both of them… Sephiroth… What made you go away? Did I do something wrong? Did I say something improper?)
Movitriss lowered her hand, which was still rolled into a fist.
Actually, he escaped like a coward, she thought. (And Aeris accompanied him out of cowardice, too. She didn't want to be left behind, she was afraid of staying alone…)
(The bastard probably thinks I'll be able to forget him easily… And, undoubtedly, he doesn't remember me anymore…)
but still… I love him
(Damn it! I'm so pathetic. I hope he's all right. Why does he insist on being so stubborn sometimes? Why did he try to run away? And… what's wrong with Valagar? Why hasn't he returned yet? What stopped him? …I'm all by myself now… lost in the middle of nowhere…)
There was a firm knock on the door and the hinges cracked. Movitriss turned her head, narrowing her golden eyes. She prayed that it would be Valagar. However, it was just a village girl, her temporal servant. She greeted the girl with a curt nod of her head.
"How are you feeling today, milady?"
"Don't call me 'milady'." Movitriss weakly protested, because reasoning with the simple-minded girl was like talking to a wall. "I've already told you my name…"
The girl walked up to the window and closed it, paying no attention to the fact that Movitriss would have gladly left it open.
"Go to bed, milady." in spite of the girl's polite voice, it was an order. Movitriss obediently took place on the edge of her bed. "No, milady. I didn't tell you to sit down. I told you to lie down."
She did as she was ordered, since she felt a little bit tired from standing at the window.
"You're still very weak, but your wounds heal very fast." the girl went on. "Honestly, I was sure you were going to die. It's a miracle you can already walk… Well, I don't care what the others say…" she definitely lacked manners "…but I think you're a witch. Or a priestess. Because the gods definitely favor you for some reason."
Yeah, right, Movitriss thought. (Like hell they do…)
"…I guess your injuries will disappear without a trace…"
Of course they would, Movitriss lazily thought, absently playing with her red hair. (Though not because I'm a 'witch'. It's because Sandalya's astral energy is helping me.)
* * *
Waking up in Aeris' arms was definitely the last thing he had ever dreamt of. And yet… he was right there, resting in her warm embrace.
hey… not bad…
"Sephiroth…" the woman was, of course, crying.
He blinked a few times, trying to understand what was going on. They were still underground. Surrounded by a few Räelans, Aeris sat on the floor, holding the man's head in her lap. Sephiroth met her clouded gaze. The whole situation was rather more amusing than threatening, he quickly decided.
"I healed your wounds."the female alien said. "You can thank me later. Just get up."
"I'm not getting up." Sephiroth said, mischievously narrowing his eyes at Aeris. "And if that's a dream…" he suddenly wanted to laugh and joke "…don't wake me up."
"Oh, stop it…" she frowned, though a small blush crept up her cheeks. "You could've died… I was worried sick…"
He wordlessly sat up and looked down at his chest. His ribs, once broken, were perfectly fine. He noticed that Aeris had completely crumpled his shirt. It was wet with her tears, stained with his blood and totally messed up.
The corners of Sephiroth's mouth twitched.
"What are you waiting for? You came to talk, right? I can take you to our captain."
"Yeah…"there was a subtle mockery in his thoughts. "I almost forgot…" he shrugged, standing up.
Aeris did the same thing. Looking around, she bit her upper lip in a mixture of confusion and embarrassment. (What happened to Valagar?) The doubt was nearly killing her.
"WHAT?"Sephiroth froze, silently turning in the Räelan's direction.
"She must have killed him."the answer came "When we found you, he was already dead."
Sephiroth mentally shook his head. "No way. She couldn't have done such a thing…"
"As far as I'm concerned, it was an act of self-defense."
"Sephiroth?" the change in the man's expression didn't went beyond Aeris' notice "What's wrong?"
He measured her with a calm, questioning stare. "Aeris… what happened exactly after I'd lost my consciousness? I'm asking because…" it was a rare thing to see him hesitate "…Valagar is dead."
Aeris turned white all of a sudden and for a second Sephiroth was sure that she was going to faint or to be sick.
Her gaze instantly sunk to her delicate, small fingers. She stared at them in disgust.
"I… I…" she stammered. "I… killed a man with my hands…?"
Sephiroth stirred and a small gasp escaped his lips.
(But… she's an angel… she's not capable of a murder… is she?)
She appeared to be immersed in some kind of a trance. It didn't look very well.
"Aeris…" he grasped her arms and shook her gently. Their faces were merely inches apart. "Listen to me…"
"Don't you understand!? I killed a man with my own hands!" she screamed at the top of her lungs. Overwhelmed with sorrow and anger, she noticed neither Sephiroth's frown, nor the hesitation in his slightly green eyes.
And suddenly he pulled her into a tight embrace and before Aeris could realize what she was doing, she felt herself resting her head on his shoulder. And, as if yanked by some invisible string, she started to weep uncontrollably.
"Shhh…" he said, lowering his lips to her ear. "Everything's going to be fine."
* * *
Nothing's going to be fine. I ruined a person's life. I killed Valagar. But I didn't mean it! I didn't want it!
Oh, but you did - a small, traitorous voice in the back of her conscience said. Actually, you killed him in cold blood - don't you remember?
But… but… it just happened! It's not my fault! I lost control over my body and…
Didn't you want to loose that control?
I had no choice! I was sure Sephiroth would die because of him!
Oh, the mocking voice said. So you wanted revenge, then? How sweet, how noble…
But… I have thought… I have…
On the contrary, my dear. You have nothing to excuse you.
* * *
A headless body of a child lay on the ground. Sephiroth stood next to him with a sword in his hand. He calmly brushed a few strands of his short, silver hair aside, watching the crimson river of blood flow.
There had been a combat between the two children. Well, not a real combat, just a regular sparring ordered by one of the scientists. And it just… happened. Before Sephiroth could even pause to think, he had killed the other boy. And, actually, he did it in a very spectacular way. Blood was nearly everywhere.
"Sephiroth." the voice of his father was not the most important thing right now.
(Did I just… kill him?) - the thought was… sickening. (But I was sure… I promised myself… that I would never lower myself to such level… I'm still human… right?)
"What's wrong, boy?" Hojo spoke in Wutaian.[author's note: he's Wutaian, or so I believe] The soft melody of this language deeply contrasted with the scientist's sharp, commanding voice.
"I didn't have to kill him." the child's large, green eyes were dispassionate, nearly apathetic, but that was just a mask the boy usually wore; Hojo knew well about that.
"So what?" the man snarled. "He was merely an experiment, just like you. And yet he proved to be much weaker, so he didn't deserve to live. No failure ever does."
Sephiroth's delicate face didn't betray any emotion. "But it was just unnecessary." Questioning the scientist's words wasn't exactly the wisest thing to do and even the boy was surprised with this sudden courage.
"And…? Who cares?" Hojo shrugged and knelt down in front of his son, forcing the boy to meet his cold gaze. "Look, it's a cruel word…"
yes, it is
"…in which only the strongest ones will survive. There's nothing wrong with killing."
nothing wrong… what if he's right…?
Hojo kept talking. Sephiroth listened, thinking very hard at the same time.
(Actually… it feels… quite nice… to be… not a victim… for the first time…)
"Do you feel sorry for him? Don't make me laugh, Sephiroth. Don't act as if you actually had feelings. You were born to kill for ShinRa and you still have to train very hard to become the best fighter this company's ever had. Believe me, that's the only thing you shall worry about." Hojo paused, getting back to his feet. "And Sephiroth…?" The boy looked up. "…Don't disappoint me."
* * *
'Everything is going to be fine' - these were the words he knew he had been supposed to say. He had heard them many times on the battlefield, when the most compassionate, sensitive officers had tried to console the youngest, shocked recruits who had just killed for the first time… but these were just empty words for him, words that were almost entirely devoid of meaning. Right now, he had only said them because he knew Aeris needed warmth and consolation. He could easily see how much she was suffering.
And he felt bad for Aeris, not for Valagar. The old man was dead. (Dead… So what? Did I know him very well? No. Did I like him? Not really… All right, so maybe I respected his wisdom and his general lack of prejudices, but it still doesn't make me miss him very much… Because… what should I care about people that are completely indifferent to me?)
Did my father… really manage to kill some of my emotions…?
(Then again… am I now supposed to feel anything but grief for Aeris…?)
He shook the bitter thoughts off, concentrating on the woman in his arms instead.
"You saved my life, Aeris." he said, slightly pulling away. "I would've died if it hadn't been for what you did."
It's as simple as that…
She slowly raised her head. Her eyes were swollen and red.
"That's why I did it… I had no choice but to…"
Defend you? Avenge you?
"You did the most human thing." he said and she was surprised to hear how soft his voice can sound. They still stood very close to each other. "Besides, I was a very courageous thing to do… You didn't run away for your life… It's admirable."
"That's what you think…" she opposed weakly.
"Am I wrong, then?" he asked very seriously.
"If I had run away, he would be alive now…" Aeris' voice trailed off.
And yet, instead of giving up and escaping, I decided to stay, she thought. (And I guess we can both say that… that I sacrificed something very important for you… my soul… my innocence… But I guess you're worth the sacrifice. And I will face the consequence of my actions… even if the guilt eventually devours me…)
She bit her lip. "Do you still like me? Now, while I'm a murderer? When I'm no longer innocent?"
Funny, Sephiroth thought. (I've never actually told her that I love her… Anyway… does she expect me to say something trivial like 'we all make mistakes'…? It would sound very cynical in my lips, wouldn't it?)
He looked straight into her green eyes. "And who am I to condemn you?" Aeris held her breath. For the first time Sephiroth was being so sincere and emotional with her. "You are cheerful and beautiful…" he said after a while. "…Please, don't let yourself drown in guilt. I can't let this happen to the woman I love."
Aeris' heart skipped a beat. For the first time in her life she experienced such happiness. It was next to pure ecstasy. A warm tear of relief trickled down her reddened cheek.
From the look on his face she knew he had the intention to kiss her, so she gently threw her head back, not being able to resist the temptation, wishing she had a little bit more experience when it came to such things.
"Humans are so strange."the voice in Sephiroth's head said. "First she's immersed in grief and a few seconds later she's in ecstasy…"
Sephiroth never did what he had been about to do. He just shook his head, looking at the Räelan with some humorous sparks in his green irises. Feeling that nothing was happening - and pretty much disappointed - Aeris finally opened her eyes.
"We still have company." the man explained, making a gesture in the aliens' direction.
Aeris felt like saying: "screw this, let's proceed!", but she quickly composed herself. She only rolled one of her hands into a fist, hoping that Sephiroth wouldn't hear her sigh. The amused smirk on the man's face told her that he actually did.
"Come on, let's follow them out of here." he said. "We'll finish this… talk… later."
* * *
"If you stay here, everyone will suffer."
The captain turned out to be female. She was neither very tall, nor muscular, and yet appeared to be quite powerful; no doubt her subordinates respected her. Sephiroth stood right in front of her with one of his arms touching his chin and the other one resting across his waist.
They were alone in a large, hermetic chamber. And, since they both talked without speaking, the humming of air-conditioning was the only sound they could hear.
"You wanted to say: the humans of Sandalya will suffer…"the captain said slyly.
"They have the right to live. Why won't you respect it?"Sephiroth stated with equal force.
"Have you ever considered our reasons?Our right to live?"
"I understand what you're implying…"Sephiroth shook his head, making his unbraided hair dance in the artificial wind. "…But… do you really want to wage war against the Cetra? They will most probably support the humans."
"You're not a Cetra and you can't be sure of that. Besides, I can already sense that you are hesitating."she paused "Please, tell me just one thing… Why are you afraid of me? You regard us all with distrust. What have we done so far?"
Sephiroth didn't answer.
"One of my kind…"the Räelan slowly started, obviously struggling to read Sephiroth's mind. "Fooled you into living a lie… Made you hate the humans more than anything… Actually… I can sense you never liked them very much… the society… Such hatred… I can sense it's almost gone by now… but where did it come from…?"
Suddenly the Räelan's lavender eyes widened in anger.
"This can't be…"
"Stop it."Sephiroth said quietly, shaking his head, briefly closing his eyes. "I don't want to remember."
"Impossible."the alien was shocked, sickened, disgusted. "They did such things to one of their kind…" she raised from her 'chair'. "Your father…"
She slowly walked up to him - slowly for a Räelan, that is - and delicately raised his chin with one of her 'hands'. He didn't know why he allowed her to do this familiar gesture.
"Why do you want to defend them, child? After everything they've done… You fully realize what they're capable of… And you still stand on their side? You still want to be… human?"
He moved the warm tentacle away and met the aliens' deep gaze.
"Maybe I just want to be… better. Better than them. Don't ask me why, though…"
"I'm sorry for you, child."
"Cut it off."he said coldly, still not lowering his eyes. He was furious with the alien for bringing up the painful subject and he practically loathed her piteous gaze. "Save your compassion for the ones you plan to kill."
The alien didn't let him change the topic so easily. "Why siding with the humans? Answer me."
"These are not the same people who…"
Sephiroth shrugged, still being able to control his emotions. "I have no reason to hate them."
"And also no reason to defend them." the immediate riposte came.
"Than what should I do?" he hissed through clenched teeth, breaking the silence in the chamber for the first time. "Sit with my arms forded? Spend my entire life contemplating my previous glory, wishing it was back? Cry over my failures? I must act, do something!"
I must do something or else I'll go insane… Thinking doesn't seem to serve me very well…
"I see."the Räelan slowly answered. "Yes, it makes perfect sense."
"Enough of your games."Sephiroth interrupted her rather unceremoniously. "Well, now it's time for you to answer me a few questions. Did you really attack the members of the Cetra Council?"
"How should I know? The entire group was killed. We only found the bodies and a trail of blood leading to a small human village."
"And…?"Sephiroth held his breath. (Movitriss… If something happened to her… My feelings have nothing to do with this… but I don't want her to die…)
"The scouts left them alone and came back for further orders."
"I can see that you hasn't decided yet…"
The Räelan hissed in a way that was an equivalent of subtle laugh. "Indeed… Child, it has been an amusing conversation… I would've never guessed that you're such a dreamer… You're so intelligent, and yet so naive and unwise… Do you really think the world can be changed for the better? Them you should be more careful. Well, society often forgives the criminal but it never forgives the dreamer…" she was serious. Sephiroth answered her with his usual, cynical smile. "I shall talk with my officers now. Tomorrow… Tomorrow you will know my final answer."
* * *
At least they were tactful enough to leave us alone, Aeris thought. (I still can't believe they let us spend the night in their starship. Are we entirely safe? Besides, I wish our bed was more comfortable…)
Actually, it was not a real bed, but a large, steel platform horizontally attached to one of the chamber's walls. Fortunately, it was covered with some soft, synthetic material that could eventually serve as a sheet. Obviously, the Räelans used no bedding. The chamber was warm, air-conditioned, so there was no need for blankets, but the lack of pillows was slightly irritating. Aeris had quickly solved this problem by using her coat.
Sephiroth lay next to her, only a meter away, stretched on his back with his hands clasped under his head and his legs crossed. His eyes were closed at the moment, but he wasn't asleep. He seemed to be irritated and absent-minded.
"What's wrong?" Aeris repeated her question.
"Nothing… it's just that… I can hear them thinking… everybody at once…"
"The Räelans…?" still lying on her stomach, Aeris lifted her chest of the ground, supporting her weight with her elbows.
"Mhm… Their thoughts and emotions are not very coherent, but still… I think I won't be able to take a nap tonight." he sighed.
"Ah." she said and fell silent.
She couldn't take her eyes off him, since, as far as she was concerned, he was the pure embodiment of beauty. Besides, it was much better to stare at him than to think about Valagar's death. However, there was also something else that bothered her very deeply. She opened her mouth so speak… and hesitated. Her unspoken question hung in the air. Sephiroth noticed a slight change in Aeris' breathing and opened his incredibly calm eyes.
"What is it?"
She wordlessly rolled onto her back, fixing her gaze on the ceiling.
"Sephiroth… If they decide to stay here and declare war on the humans, whose side will you be on?"
His expression suddenly changed, but Aeris wasn't even able to notice that. He could nearly hear the female Räelan say: "Why do you want to defend them, child? After everything they've done… You fully realize what they're capable of… And you still stand on their side?"
(I had these doubts from the beginning… Why did she have to voice them…?)
"You still want to be… human?"(The surprise in her thoughts… the compassion… Everything was real. And then…) "I'm sorry for you, child."
(Oh, how I hate such words…)
"You already know the answer, don't you? You wouldn't have asked instead…"
She closed her eyes, lowering her hands to her waist. She nearly trembled. "You're not sure anymore… aren't you…" it wasn't a question.
They still didn't look at each other. Sephiroth's eyebrows were furrowed in pain.
"I wish things were entirely black or white… It would've spared us all the difficult choices…"
End of Chapter 14
* * *
Author's Notes: Poor Sephy… I'll never stop torturing him… What happens next?
Maybe the aliens will just leave to find a different planet… because if the war starts, Aeris and Sephiroth will die as its first martyrs… Keep in mind that the female Räelan hasn't decided yet… (Whereas I have ^__^ …but it's still a secret!) Next chapter is going to be very important.
And when it comes to the romantic part of this story… Will Sephiroth and Aeris ever kiss!? (Yes, I know I'm a very mean author! *grins* They ended up in the same bed and they did absolutely nothing… *keeps grinning* Mwahahaha!) Will Sephiroth and Movitriss talk? Will they find happiness… in life or death? ('Or death?' Yeah, I can see that joy in your eyes - you think I'm gonna kill her, right? Quit dreaming… :-p )
Please, wait patiently for the next chapter and don't forget to review this one! Feel free to criticize - just let it be some constructive criticism, okay? Your reviews really make me work much faster!