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Oujia

*Chapter 4*

Vincent shook his head. "I brought it back to him this morning, he keeps it in his garden shed because apparently it's easier for spirits to come and go, so it was easy enough to return it. I didn't want my parents to notice I had it, I did have to leave quite late last night to retrieve it, and they're not too fond of me leaving the house that late." He sighed, "You did let me know you needed it at an unusual hour. I was just trying to re-create it in case I couldn't get it back again." He looked at Cloud, confused. "YOU want to meet with ghosts again? After what happened last night? I thought you might have been scarred for life."

Cloud sat down on Vincent's other side, still with that slightly vacant expression on his face. "Don't worry, I'm fine now," he said. "I think it might have been the atmosphere that scared me more than anything. Or it might have been the cold. Your basement is freezing."

Suddenly, Cloud twitched and his eyes wandered over to stare at the doorframe. "Um..the sooner we get started, the better, I think!" he laughed shakily.

Vincent quickly glanced over to the door to see what had caught Cloud's attention. There was nobody there, was Cloud still doing his talking-to-thin-air-act to try and teach them a lesson for freaking him out last night?

"Yeah, right? I was surprised too. But chocobo-head insisted." Reno sighed, stealing another quick glance at Vincent. The boy's raven black hair spilled over his shoulders and it looked so shiny and smooth... Reno felt the overwhelming urge to tug at it, but he kept his twitching hands to himself.

Meanwhile Sephiroth had a look through the messy room before his eyes settled on the dark haired, pale youth. "You. Have you been summoned against your will too?" Sephiroth didn't recognize the demon, but then again there were hundreds of thousands of demonic ghosts in the afterworld.

Vincent gave Cloud a very confused look as his friend ducked his head down and his shoulders and started to shake. Was he...crying?

"Don't be upset Cloud, last night was a once off, I'm sure. The next ghost will definitely NOT be a total pervert and we can do the summoning in my room so there will be no chance of you passing out from the cold." he reached out to pat Cloud's hair a little awkwardly, since he wasn't used to too much contact with people who weren't his family. Still, he believed that this was what people usually did in situations like this.

Cloud could feel Vincent's fingers in his spiky hair but he could barely hear him as he struggled not to laugh out loud. This was the second time Vince had been mistaken for a demon, and this time it was by a creature who very might be a demon itself! He could see it though, Vincent was incredibly pale and his dark hair was like a sudden splash of ink on a clear page, and he was almost always dressed in black. He spoke properly and had good posture, so maybe the creature following him had taken a liking to him since they acted similarly. When Sephiroth wasn't shouting, that is.

"Ah..haha..I'm fine, sorry again." Cloud sniffed and tried to get his giggles under control.

Sephiroth himself was slowly getting impatient.

Why was the demon talking to lowly humans, but ignoring him?!

Didn't he know who Sephiroth was?!

Straightening to his full height, the demon towered over the dark haired creature, crossing his arms. "Answer me!"

Cloud jumped as the demon snapped at Vincent again, but he tried his best to turn it into a bounce so he didn't look too crazy. He rocked around on the bed. He wanted more than anything for the black fog to re-appear so it would take the demon away, back to wherever it came from and out of his life.

"Vincent Valentine." Cloud began, to somewhat pacify the situation and letting Sephiroth know that Vincent was actually human... "Would you do me the honour of telling me if you would know how to contact the same ghost that we talked to last night?"

What he really wanted to know, of course, was if he or his parents would ever know what to do if, in a hypothetical situation, a demon was to appear in this world and then said demon wanted to go back home but for some reason it couldn't and it could only talk to one person and that person didn't know how to send it home but a ghost that had already talked to the person might know, could that ghost be contacted again? Cloud took a deep breath, trying to calm himself.

Vincent was confused at the sudden formality of Cloud's tone. "Um...I'm sure I could. All we have to do is do everything we did last time, but in the dining room." He looked over at Reno. "Are you alright with the idea?"

"Yeah sure, let's go and get this over with." Reno got up from the bed and leaned over to get the make-shift Oujia board. Hm, Vincent had glued this together... he wanted to hectically sneak it under his shirt and fanboy over it later, but again, he refrained. He was way too cool for this.

Way too cool.

Sephiroth frowned and unfolded his arms, imperiously reaching out and trying to poke Vincent in the eye to reprimand him and punish him for his insolence, but his finger went through, not hitting anything solid. Disbelievingly he stared down at the shivering youth, only now noticing his strong smell.

It couldn't be that... this was a human being?

His green gaze snapped over to Cloud for an explanation. Coming to think of it, hadn't that boy been with them last night too? Sephiroth had been too furious to pay much attention to anyone but the blond haired menace...

Vincent shivered as soon as the demon's finger made contact with him. He felt cold, but from the inside, like someone had cracked a raw egg on his head and it was currently trickling down his insides. He felt Cloud squeeze his arm as he took a shuddering breath. What on earth had made him feel like that? Somebody must be standing on his grave, as his grandmother would say.

"Let's go downstairs..." Cloud pulled Vincent along with him. He was more than a little worried at the demon's sudden behaviour. Why did he poke Vincent? What if he got angrier? What if it started off as a poke and it ended with a sword through the chest? At least it didn't seem to have hurt Vincent. He stared over at Reno – this would be the perfect time for him to come over, wrap his arm around Vincent and say he was keeping him warm and they would finally get together.

However Reno didn't seem to be in a very receptive mood today, even as he was willing his thoughts at the back of his spiky red head.

Frustrated at the lack of answer, Sephiroth had no choice but to follow them downstairs. This house was strange, there were signs of witchcraft and strong bans to keep ghosts and demons away. They were not enough to make Sephiroth feel more than an unpleasant tingling, but as he took a closer look the aura lazily radiating around the Vincent-boy was not a demonic one. Also, the name Valentine sounded vaguely familiar...

"I hope your grandma is off for her nap, yo. Don't wanna know what kinda brain eating zombies will come out of the dark if she's around," Reno said over his shoulder as he walked into the living room. It was a surprisingly normal looking living room, with a modern black leather couch, a few comfortable chairs and a stylish small glass table. There even was a TV and a fire place. It would have been a non-creepy room, if it hadn't been for the orderly arranged urns above the fireplace that held the cold ashes of Vincent's ancestors up to the fifth generation.

Vincent laughed, still a little shaken up from the strange feeling inside him. Cloud stayed close beside him since Reno showed no intention of slowing down. "Reno's nervous I guess" he thought to himself, "Maybe he doesn't want to say anything to Vincent in front of me. After this whole situation is over and done with, I'll talk to him again and maybe they can get together."

Out of habit, Vincent waved over at the urns before he sat down on the leather couch. Cloud sat beside him, lancing over at the demon as he did so. He was starting to feel dizzy and as if he lived in two dimensions at the same time – one the one hand he was busy acting normal and keeping track of Vincent and Reno's shy circling each other. And then he also had to take care of that scary demon who kept following him. It was all a bit overwhelming and unreal, but Cloud tried to manage as best as he could.

"We'll probably need to use Grandfather's board. It probably has more magic in it than a scrap of paper. I know it has an interesting history, but it's been a while since I've heard the story." Vincent sat back and thought to himself. "Since you're both so eager to have this summoning as fast as possible, let me head over to Grandfathers right now. I'll bring the board back and we can begin."

"We can come with you!" Cloud said. He knew the demon would be furious to leave right away, but if it was just a quick walk down the road to collect the special board, then it would all be worth it. He could be back where he came from before sundown if everything went according to plan.

"Nah, come on, just let Vince get the board. Until he comes back you can get into ghosty summoning mood or something." Reno flopped down on the sofa and watched as Vincent left.

Discreetly, he folded the makeshift Oujia board and slipped it into a pocket.

Sephiroth watched the party with distaste, but there was nothing he could do about it. They were so painstakingly slow! He secretly wished that he could flop down on the couch too, expressing his frustration by sullenly lounging on the comfortable looking leather. But he had to maintain an image here or the blond boy would never get his ass up to send him back to the demon world. 'That boy is so easily distracted...' Sephiroth thought grumpily to himself as his attention got caught by a black box with a shiny surface.

Cloud lay back into the leather couch and yawned. "What should we do to make the place spooky? It's already pretty spooky. Should we draw the curtains? Um..maybe we could light some candles? Or we could get some sheets and hide under them and pretend we're ghosts and that way the spirit will think he's among friends?"

He couldn't help but notice the demon wandering around. He seemed to have an unusual attraction to shiny things. Maybe they didn't have shiny things where he came from?

"Hey Reno..." he asked, as an idea began to come together in his mind, "Should I turn the TV on?"

Reno's lazy gaze glided over to the blind TV. For a second he thought he had seen something strange reflecting in the screen. With a shiver he sat up, but it was gone. "Uhm... maybe not. Vince should be back any sec." And who knew what would come out of this "TV". Everything in this house was dangerous and creepy.

Cloud shrugged and started walking around instead, too fidgety and nervous to stay seated. He was starting to worry at the prospect of meeting the ghost again. He was fine with it earlier, but his whole day had been so surreal. 'I can't believe I'm not freaking out, why aren't I freaking out, what's wrong with me...'

Outside, Vincent had already pushed open the incredibly rusted gate in their oversized and slightly overgrown back garden with some difficulty to make his way to his grandfather's house. It wasn't much compared to his own home, more of a glorified garden shed than anything, but Vincent's grandfather preferred to spend his time as close as he could to his family without actually visiting them. He'd been horribly jumpy when he used to live with them and often stared into corners of a room or at blank walls like he could see something that was never there, his eyes twitching, following something only he could see. It was easier for everyone when he decided to move out.

Vincent's family took it in turns to bring food out to him, as he usually became so involved in one project or other that he could go days without eating anything.

It didn't take him too long before the garden leading to the shed became more tangled with herbs and unusual plants that his grandfather had grown. He ducked under the wind chimes and dream catchers that hung from the bare branches of the trees that laced together overhead to create a tunnel of twigs and string. Finally the stone path that had been engraved with symbols Vincent didn't recognise became more visible and the shed came into view, but it was a little more difficult to make out than usual.

His grandfather was sitting outside a paintbrush in his hand, feverishly painting the shed with greens and browns so it was almost indistinguishable from the trees and shrubs in the background. There were more stones with strange shapes arranged in what could have been a precise pattern but they could also have been thrown there in a hurry. Not wanting to disturb his grandfather for fear he might be asked to joining in on the paining, Vincent quickly slipped inside the shed and picked the board up from the shelf where it lay, and carried it outside. He padded quietly along the path as his grandfather took no notice of him and continued to mutter protection spells to himself.

Something was here, nearby, where it had no business being. Something bad, something evil and incredibly powerful. Grandfather Valentine wouldn't taking any chances; the creature had to be destroyed.

Tbc?


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