The blue lights of the Forgotten City slid along Masamune's flawless blade, his coat fanning out around him as he fell, the wind in his face tearing through his hair. The girl was kneeling, hands clasped in prayer, the girl his "mother" had ordered him to kill. She was dangerous, she was to be feared, she was fatal to their plan, and she had served her purpose. She had already found the Black Materia for him, and she was no longer useful to his cause. He was going to let her friends watch her die, especially the young man who stood before her with love in his Mako blue eyes. He heard Mother chanting kill her, kill her, yes, my son, yes!

As he fell, he saw her friend raise his own sword, responding as he himself had to Mother's cries. Then, something happened: Mother's voice was no longer in his mind, it was gone, and his grip changed on Masamune's hilt. Instead of stabbing her in the back, he defended the girl, stopping the boy's wide blade with Masamune in one hand even as his other arm went about her waist. He crushed her small form to him, leaping back in the same motion and across the staggered platforms to the other side of the room. The cries of her shocked friends pursuing him and going to the other boy's aid followed him out of the place even as he disappeared out through the roof and into the darkness.


The girl fainted somewhere along the way. He ran with her for hours, sheathing Masamune single-handedly and shifting her to carry her in both arms, all without breaking stride. He had to be sure her friends wouldn't foolishly try to get her back from him right now, especially now that he knew Mother had been able to control the boy as well. Somehow he knew that she was safest with him until she was awake and could travel on her own. She could make her own decisions then.
He stopped running when he was miles away from the City. He walked for a long while in the forest until he found a suitable place to rest. He gently placed her on a bed of moss, under a low-hanging tree. She would wake soon, and he had to make a fire, and plan.


Warm...I'm warm now, was her first thought when she opened her eyes. What a strange dream. She could swear she'd actually seen her friend raise his sword against her. Why is it so warm in the City? There had been the solid metallic clang when his sword descended. Then she had been caught up by a strong arm and pinned against an unyielding body that smelled pleasantly of leather...great speed, crossing over mountains faster than anyone could actually run, smooth speed, carried in the arms of...Him.

Her eyes snapped open and she sat up suddenly. She was lying in front of a small magefire, her legs covered by a rough woolen blanket. She stared into the flames for a moment, trying to reconcile the facts in her mind. She was no longer in the City of the Ancients. She had been attacked by a man she trusted implicitly, then rescued by her dire enemy! It hadn't been a dream...

"How are you?" A deep, cultured voice spoke from the shadows. A tall form seemed to materialize before her in the firelight, black boots, black pants, black gloves, black leather coat, white pauldrons, pale face, shining silver hair...Eyes widening as she looked up, up, up, she met the glow of his own Mako green ones and felt her world wrench away and spin out of control. The last thing her battered mind registered before the blackness hit her was the image of him kneeling down beside her to catch her, concern in his eyes.