The Ocean and the Moon

She slowly sways from shore to shore undern the touch of his silver rays; fingers of foam reach out, rolling the shimmering sparks over the tip of each wave. From the heights of the deep velvet sky he showers her with elusive laces of moonlight.She’s captured and enchanted; he has a power she cannot resist. Invisible threads connect them through the the hollow space, subtle energies flow back and forth as he pulls her up then releases her….He’s always there; even when the rising sun washes away the thoughtful image of his face,shunning the shades of night, repainting the canopy of air in bright azure, she cannot leave his magic circle, she cannot forget the intensity of his touch.
She splashes out in sparkles of rainbow over the white sands just to receed into a distance inside herself, lifted by the same gentle power that moves her constantly.She swirls and twists, she runs around the tiny globe, chasing ribbons of white froth, she soars against the tempests, then calms down softly whispering while the sun dies in crimson and gold in her outstretched arms of horizons.
Invisible to the eyes but eternally engraved in her translucent soul, he reaches through the ever moving layers of water until he touches the core that echoes his name. She opens the gates of her world and fills up her pathways with his light. She’ll keep it glow and blaze during the nights when he fades out and leaves the skies.
Those are hollow and lonely moments when everything seem to crumble inside…She washes the ragged coastal lines, the silky sands, she rolls and whispers and cries out in the anguish of loss…She calms in the arms of the solid land embracing her, the one that is her longtime stronghold and protector. She closes her eyes of turquoise waters, dreaming of the silver god, the Moon , eternal traveler of the waters of Earth and Sky, key holder of her magic driven soul…

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Orion 2 Beyond…

disclaimer:THIS IS A SEQUEL TO FINAL FANTASY7. I DON”T OWN ANYTHING,ALL CHARACTERS BELONG TO SQUARE ENIX….EXCEPT FOR ORION AND CAITLIN. THOSE 2CHARCTERS ARE BORN OUT OF MY IMAGINATION IN A HOPE TO REDEEM SEPHIROTH. I AM THANKFUL FOR THE OPPORTUNITY,SQUARE ENIX.

ORION 2

 

 

Ten years have passed since then. The Planet was healing beautifully; it looked like humans and their land never got so well together since the day the Cetras have descended on the very young Gaia.

Genesis’ and Orion’s attempt to expand the Banora White to other regions has proven to be a real success. Blooming and ripening orchards were scattered all over the planet and new products of the fragrant fruit were created almost on a daily basis, much to the pleasure of the customers. The World Regenesis Organization has gained a well deserved reputation for the recovering of the large areas affected by the exploitation of Mako and by the latest conflict generated by the abominable Jenova. The Gaians were happy and trustful about their future. Only a very small area of the planet’s surface was still barren; it was the Northern Crater, the place where once Jenova landed with the Meteor. It looked liked this particular area needed a very peculiar solution that wasn’t found yet. Though Reeve Tuesti and his team of dedicated and gifted scientists were working hard to find a solution to heal this last scar on the planet’s skin, they weren’t reaching any satisfactory result.

Reeve has acknowledged another peculiarity in their surrounding; all of the former Soldiers, all those who have been subjected to the Jenova–cell treatment had quietly  vanished  over the last ten years. Only Genesis was still alive and well but he was known as the appointed Guardian of the Planet and he was clearly protected by the Goddess Minerva. On the other side there was Orion, child of Sephiroth, bearing all his father’s features but protected both by Gaia and Minerva. Reeve shrugged and dismissed these troubling thoughts. Genesis and Orion were his long-time friends. The solution for the problem of the Northern Crater must be somewhere else…

Yet Reeve Tuesti was pretty close to the real problem. The planet has almost completed her healing process and there was only one obstacle in her way in closing the hurtful gap: Orion. The young man was the last remnant living on the planet surface who carried Jenova’s cellular legacy. As long as he lived there, Gaia was unable to finish the healing process. On the other hand, he was the one that saved her from Jenova so removing him without his consent was out of question even for the Planet. It was greatly disturbed by the fact that It had to talk him into leaving his life long before time. And there was Orion’s great love for Genesis…

As time was ticking, the Planet and the Goddess decided to contact Orion. There was no more time left; if the planet wasn’t completing the healing process, It would have become unstable and dangerous for the humans.

Orion sensed something; for weeks he has had moments of weakness and short black-outs that he was carefully hiding from Genesis. That night he slept badly. Glimpses of his entire life, his struggle and fight against Jenova were surfacing from time to time from the troubled waters of the dreams.  The whole scenery cleared as a sudden glow enveloped the surroundings and Minerva appeared in front of him.  Orion could clearly sense another presence behind her: it was the Planet.

-Orion-said the Goddess in a grave voice. Meet us tomorrow at the Cavern. We have to talk. There’s a good chance now that Genesis would be in Midgar. Please! It’s very important.

Before Orion could answer her the image blurred and he fell back into the dark waters of the Land of Nod.  The rest of the night went on uneventful, yet the morning found him tired and deeply disturbed. He did his best to avoid any question from Genesis. Luckily his companion was busy to put things in order for the meeting he was about to have in the capital city. After a quick breakfast they parted and Genesis drove off. Orion followed him until the road shrank and plunged into the greenery stretching all over the horizon. He sighed then took out his car and proceeded towards the Great Banora Cavern.

 

As business went on smoothly, Genesis finished long before he expected. The city has grown bigger and more colorful. Though he was slightly tempted to look around for a while, he soon discovered that there’s no fun for him without Orion. The feelings have not faded at all during the ten years spent together. Genesis decided to turn back home to Banora.

He arrived shortly after noon and found the house empty. There were no signs of Orion around and the car was missing. Genesis was surprised; it wasn’t like Orion to vanish without a trace. He asked around but it seems that nobody saw him leaving. Genesis meticulously recalled all the moments they’ve spent in the morning. He suddenly remembered that his loved one looked paler than usual and that he was somehow silent and seemed preoccupied. Even when they parted, there was a tint of despair in his embrace…

As hours passed by, Genesis became increasingly frustrated and worried. He was just about to explode when he detected the faint hum of a car motor. In a few moments, Orion’s car parked in front of the house. Genesis flew out the door in a mix of worry and anger. He arrived just in time; the memory flash helped him act in a split second. He caught Orion before he could hit the ground. He carried him inside and laid him on a sofa.

Soon the younger man got back to his senses; he opened his eyes and looked right into Genesis’s sparkling blues.

-Where were you?! What happened?! Why haven’t you left a notice?! I was worried sick…

Pain washed over Orion’s handsome face.

-I couldn’t…I was at the Cavern, summoned by Minerva and the planet.

Genesis was puzzled.

-Why? What’s wrong?

-Everything.

Orion sighed.

-Genny…I’m dying. The Planet kills me slowly; it has to. No…please, listen. I am the last remnant of Jenova. The Planet cannot close the Northern Crater area because of my Jenova genes. They interfere with its healing power and if this closure is not performed soon, then the Planet will become unstable and dangerous for the Gaians. So it’s all up to me; I have to join the Lifestream before time. There is no other choice….

Genesis sat in silence then asked in a muffled voice:

-How much time do we have?

-Not much…it ends this evening…

Orion’s voice broke. He closed his eyes trying to hold back the tears that were running down his cheeks. Genesis sat next to him and held him close, burying his face in the silver strands. Orion’s body shook as he sobbed quietly for a while; Genesis bit his lips in anger and despair.

-Read me “ Loveless”, Genny-whispered the young man. I love the sound of your voice…

Genesis complied; he emptied his mind and opened the book they both loved. He started to read with his velvety, chanting voice while he held Orion as he was leaning against his shoulder. The shadows of the night covered the meadows and hills and the stars lit, one by one. Genesis kept reading like he was reading for his life…In fact, he was; life without Orion was meaningless and empty.

When the last line was over, Orion was already in a state of suspended animation. He wasn’t conscientious but he wasn’t gone either. He couldn’t enter the Lifestream; their connection was too strong. Genesis took a swift decision. He left a short note for Reeve Tuesti and then took Orion in his car and drove off to the Cavern.

 

 

He placed Orion in a comfortable spot and looked around; he knew that the Goddess was watching them. She quickly appeared and Genesis faced her defiantly.

-Give him back to me-he said, looking straight in her eyes.

-It’s not possible; you know well by now, Genesis. He has to go. I’m sorry.

-Then I’ll go to. I have no wish to stay behind.

-It’s not your time yet-protested Minerva. Besides, you’re the Guardian of the Planet. I have appointed you, remember.

Genesis laughed a short, bitter laugh.

-The planet can take care of itself by now; it doesn’t need me. But I need Orion. And he doesn’t want to leave; not without me. You have no other choice but to release us together!

The Goddess watched him with sorrowful eyes.

-I’m jealous, Genesis. You’re ready to give up on me for this mortal. I could make you immortal. What can he give to you?

-All I ever needed: himself and his love. I don’t need anything else. Not even your immortality. Let us go together. Peacefully. Please.

Minerva watched him silently for a moment; Genesis stood her stare. She lowered her face and whispered:

-So be it. Good by, Genesis Rhapsodos…

There was a sudden gush of strong wind and Genesis plunged into darkness. He woke up dizzy and nauseating. He was lying on his back in the grass, eyes closed. The air had a strange scent; pleasant but unfamiliar. He stirred, trying to clear his mind.

-Are you going to sleep all day here, Genesis? –came a deep baritone voice from above him.

Genesis’ eyes popped open and he quickly sat up, looking incredulously at the dark, handsome guy in front of him.

-Angeal? What are you doing here? Where am I?

His old friend laughed and helped him to his feet.

-You just fell from the skies –he heard the purring soft voice behind him. He took a sharp turn and bumped into Sephiroth. The Legendary Soldier watched him with a grin, laughing silently.

-Wait.Wait. Are we in the Lifestream?

-No-answered Angeal. In fact we are somewhere…behind it. This is The Promised Land of the Cetra. We ended up here by the courtesy of the planet. We cannot go back but we’re fine here. All those subjected to the Jenova experiments were transferred here. Luckily. Of course, the Planet disposed of our tormenters…

-Just in case you missed Hollander…Sephiroth gave a friendly push to his longtime friend.

Genesis grinned and shook his head.

-No, thanks. Seph, have I landed alone ?

-No. Don’t worry. He is the house with Caitlin. He is still asleep but he’ll be fine. Thank you for standing up for him.

Genesis felt immensely relieved. He looked around for the first time. It was a beautiful land, peaceful and buoyant with life. Another…Gaia. There were charming houses scattered all over the place, with blooming gardens and …Banora White orchards. There were birds and butterflies and a translucent, blue sky above, with fluffy flocks of clouds floating slowly.

-Do you all live here?-he asked incredulously.

Angeal smiled and patted his back.

-We are and so would both of you. There is a perfect place meeting your taste. It’s right there, beyond that spot of trees. We already fixed it for you when we heard that you’d be about to come.

-Who told you that?

-It was the Planet. It contacted us while you were pleading with the Goddess. The Planet has already guessed the outcome of that conversation. She realized that neither you, nor Orion would part from the other. On the other hand, it was a more suitable solution for the Planet itself. It felt badly about hurting any of you…

Genesis felt his heart warming up.

-Thank you, guys…he murmured. I am a lucky bastard.

-So you’re Genesis!-said a pleasant voice from the house.

Genesis turned and saw a smiling, pretty brunette crossing the grassy spot and watching him with undisclosed curiosity. There was a soft, warm glow surrounding her and Genesis felt a pang in his heart. He could easily identify that glow; just like his mother, Orion had the same soothing aura. Overwhelmed by the sudden burst of emotion,   the Crimson Soldier turned red and remained speechless, much to his old friends’ amusement.

-Well, Caitlin-chuckled Sephiroth while Angeal was smirking –you managed to rend our friend mute. That is almost the equivalent of a miracle…

-Can I see him now?-came a coarse whisper from Genesis.

Caitlin smiled and pushed him gently towards the house.

-Go! He’ll be soon awake.

The redhead turned and fled away.

-Shame on you, boys!-said Caitlin, looking to the two Soldiers. Tormenting your poor friend like this…Come, let’s take a walk. After all, they deserve some privacy.

The house was pleasantly cool and shaded. Silence was deep but somehow soothing. Genesis stopped for a moment, trying to detect the room where Orion was asleep. Finally he spotted the cracked door and hurried to the small bedroom. His love was still adrift in the realm of dreams but was slightly stirring as the waters of that elusive world were clearing and thinning. Like somebody surfacing from the depths, he took a deep breath and sighed. The translucent green eyes opened right into the piercing azure ones.

-Genny…-whispered the younger man, happy and amazed by his lover’s sight.

-Precious…you’re back, thanks to the Goddess! Genesis was relieved to see that life and color have returned to Orion’s face. He helped him up and they embraced each other closely.

-How did you end up with me here? –asked Orion. It wasn’t your time yet…

-I’ve told you several times before that I would not give up on you, no matter what. It seems that the same happened to you: the Planet was unable to separate us and the Goddess had to give in to my request. They both sent us to the Promised Land of the Cetras. It seems that we would be safe here. By the way, your family and my friends are also here…

-Mom? Is my mother here? –Orion watched incredulously his lover.

-Seph is here to along with Angeal and many more… Come, let’s go out and find them. I suspect they’ve left us alone on purpose…Genesis chuckled and ran his fingers through Orion’s silver strands.

The younger man laughed softly and they both got out, looking for the rest of the team.

 

 

 

During that week, Genesis and Orion moved to their own house. It was a small piece of jewelry, friendly and familiar. They felt home in an instant. Just as Angeal told them, they had their own Banora White orchard. The following weeks they met a lot of new people from this enchanted land and learned about how things work. Just like the Cetras long before, they became some kind of a Cosmic Guardians for young planets and emerging civilizations.

Orion Chapter 12-15 StepONE and…/Recovery and getting happy

disclaimer:THIS IS A SEQUEL TO FINAL FANTASY7. I DON”T OWN ANYTHING,ALL CHARACTERS BELONG TO SQUARE ENIX….EXCEPT FOR ORION AND CAITLIN. THOSE 2CHARCTERS ARE BORN OUT OF MY IMAGINATION IN A HOPE TO REDEEM SEPHIROTH. I AM THANKFUL FOR THE OPPORTUNITY,SQUARE ENIX.

Chapter 12. Step One and a surprise visit through Step 2

 

 

It was almost morning when we broke up to get some sleep and return to the planning board. I don’t remember how Genesis managed to drive home; he was exhausted to. Light blue shades were underlining his intent eyes. I was so tired I could’ve slept on the floor; luckily Genesis dragged me to the bed and…I don’t remember anything from there.

To my eternal shame he was the first to wake up in the morning and fix the breakfast for both of us. I loved his cooking; Angeal had taught him well. I woke up realizing that the challenge of our lives has been set in motion the previous evening. I washed and stumbled into the kitchen, much to Genesis’ amusement.

-Don’t break a leg, kid. Not now when you’re our shining star…-he chuckled and took a sip of coffee, watching me with a playful smile.

I laughed and shook my head to wake up entirely. I’ve eaten my breakfast and took a glass of Banora Apple juice. It was better than any coffee. Genesis continued to smile with satisfaction.

-You were great, kid. It warmed my heart to see Rufus swallowing his bile and admitting his own defeat. On the other hand, things are now turning deadly serious. Reeve already called and told me that they are ready to close on Jenova but you have to give them the spot. As soon as you’re ready, we have to go to him. The Sister Ray has been adapted to this particular task.

I jumped to my feet and in seconds we were on the way. Step One was about to start.

 

Reeve was watching excitedly as the guiding ray searched through the Lifestream. Orion was connected mentally to the ray and was looking for his father and Jenova. But it wasn’t an easy task; the Lifestream turned into a dense, mushy mass with powerful currents, threatening to wash him away. Several times he felt lost and crushed by the power of the green flow of energy. It was Caitlin’s loving guidance that helped her son through the turmoil. She slowly took him near the Vortex of darkness generated by Jenova and Reeve instantly connected the modified Sister Ray on that hot spot. He also brought back Orion to protect him from the monster’s retaliation.

As the walls built around the swirling black mist the temperature inside the enclosure rose dangerously; Jenova, realizing what was happening was exploding in rage. Despite the fact that he’s been disconnected from there, Orion felt deep inside his mind the pain of his father and the rage of the maddened creature mixing in a speeding whirlwind inside the hardening Mako-cage. Reeve “played” the key board of the commanding computer like a real wizard, not letting even for a moment Jenova to skip out from her hardening cell.

It took hours while the battle raged, draining all the energy from the scientist and tormenting Orion with an excruciating head ache. Jenova gave a last shriek as the Cage closed around her and Sephiroth. She could not harm the Lifestream anymore; the planet itself sighed imperceptibly and relaxed from the more than 2000 year old poisonous pressure.

Genesis relaxed to; Orion was safe for now though he was slumped along with Reeve Tuesti on the couch. The scientist has done his part brilliantly. Genesis prepared some energizing apple juice and handed them both. He took a glass for himself and sat down, watching them slowly getting stronger. Reeve called Rufus and debriefed him about all the success of their first mission. Now it was a question of a few days to embark to the Starship and extract the prisoners from the Lifestream and get as far from the planet as they could.

Genesis drove Orion home and ordered him to rest. Step Two was increasingly dangerous and he needed a full recovery. He watched over his sleep, wondering how much this untrained young mind could endure. Letting Orion to damage himself was not an option for Genesis; he has made a promise at Caitlin’s grave and beside, Orion was far too important for him to. The Commander growled in frustration as he watched the quietly sleeping youth.

“You’re driving me crazy, kid…I ended up baby-sitting you…desperately.”

The starship was ready next day by mid-morning so they embarked hurriedly. Reeve showed them that Jenova’s pressure on the cage was rising with each moment; she wanted out. It took them almost half of the day to leave the Lifestream and take a proper position towards the cage. The tracking beam closed on the cage and the ship begun to rise slowly towards the Sun. As the cage left the Lifestream, Jenova’s struggle lost from its velocity. She wasn’t able to feed on the Energy of the planet. Yet the pressure constantly built up inside Orion. He knew that Step Three was about to be put on stage.

Reeve showed Orion, Genesis and Vincent the two special containers for the separation of Sephiroth from Jenova. The starship slowed down and stopped at a safe distance from the planet.

As they prepared for the separation the Ship’s alarm system started. Something huge was outside, near them. Reeve opened the communication system hoping to capture an unusual sound since there was nothing detectable outside. Then the space around them undulated and a magnificent alien Starship emerged from its cloak of invisibility. It was of epic proportion compared to their young starship. The communication screen cracked and a humanoid face looked straight to them and greeted them in an approximate Gaian language.

-We’re a Patrol ship from the Guardians of the Universe. Please excuse us for interfering but we would like to come to your ship if you allow us.

From the oval face two golden eyes speckled with blue were looking them with intelligence and respect. Reeve greeted the Chief Guardian and invited him aboard. It was so sudden and unexpected that they had no time to think it over.

The delegation of three guardians landed almost instantly in the room. They were about Orion’s height and were very close to humans. After a brief exchange of greetings and basic information, the Chief Guardian explained the reason why they asked for the meeting.

-You have a creature in your custody, the one you call Jenova. We are here to collect her and bring her to justice. She’s a fugitive and even after such a lengthy time her crimes are still fresh in the memory of the planets she almost ruined. We couldn’t approach your planet because our technology would’ve damaged the Lifestream. We kept your entire civilization under surveillance and we cherish it. You have to know that your planet and the whole system are unique in the Universe. We can help you separate Jenova from her symbiotic victim.

Reeve turned to his companions questioningly.

-Is there a good chance to separate my father safely from her?-asked Orion with rising hope.

-Yes. We’ll clean him from her tiniest connection and he could regain his own identity.

-Well-said Reeve-in that case we should start as soon as possible. Jenova is not a complacent prisoner. The problem is who would connect with them to send the separating beam. It’s highly dangerous.

Genesis stepped in front, cutting off Orion with a short gesture.

-I know, kid that you want to do it but I’m the only trained SOLDIER here. There’s no need for unnecessary sacrifice…

Orion watched him silently and shook his head with a secret smile.

-Genesis, please…This is my task and I want to do it. Stay by my side and I’ll manage.

-The young man is right; he’s a better subject. From what I can detect in his mind he already has established a good connection with his father. You also have one but it’s older and it faded through time. Don’t worry; we’ll keep him safe, just stay close to him.

As the basics were finally agreed, they all hurried to stage the separation.

 

Chapter13. Jenova

 

The chamber was isolated and it had a strong force field surrounding it. The Guardians created another extra enclosure inside the secluded separation chamber. There were two separated, special conceived tanks, each with a transparent front door. These two tanks were connected to another one that held the interconnected energetic form of Jenova and Sephiroth, brought inside from the Cage. Even if the container and the protective force field were unbreakable, tension was slowly filling up the space of the room.

Jenova’s powerful, mad personality almost shone through the special built walls. She was deeply enraged, frantically searching for the slightest chance to break free and take revenge over her captors. As the preparations ended it was Orion’s turn to lie down and connect to the mixed energetic forms and open the way for the Guardians to separate them. Orion was strapped to the bed and he was connected to the intricate energetic system. He closed his eyes and plunged into the depth of his own mind, searching for the connecting point with Sephiroth.

His mind moved cautiously, searching for the proper signal before it was sucked all of a sudden into the raging storm inside the steel cell. The darkness around him was boiling hot, with whirling currents that tried to rip him apart. He moved relentlessly until he felt the presence of that shimmering grain of light. He closed on it with all his strength and will and let the Guardians penetrate into that world through his mind.

The guardians came like a glowing red blade, cutting trough that clawing, biting, swarming darkness that was Jenova’s personality. She fled than turned and bit back, spitting venom and fire, shredding the space around her, trying to kill every inch of light. But the glowing redness followed her, slashing her bit by bit, slowly creating a clear space around that spot where Orion kept himself braced against his father’s fading energy form. The red rapier of light turned into a close-knit net, gathering Jenova’s dark form piece by piece. Her fury burst all over like a deadly flood, trying to escape from the closing net. But her fate was sealed; more and more of her content was captured inside the glowing red filaments and her connection with Sephiroth thinned every moment.

She turned her attention to Orion’s spirit connected to Seph. She made a sharp turn towards him and the concentrated dark matter clawed through the youth’s connection, trying to tear him down. Outside, in the separation room all that the bystanders saw was a sudden burst of darkness out of nowhere cutting through Orion’s chest, tearing the skin and flesh. Blood gushed through the wound and the young man almost lost consciousness. He held strong as the pain tore him like a fiery knife. The contact wavered as he struggled to stand back Jenova’s kill. In a split second Genesis realized that he was about to lose Orion; his mind expanded and reached Sephiroth, breaking the last tie that held him connected to the monstrous creature. She fell back with a deafening shriek and the net closed around her, isolating and cutting down her power over Sephiroth and anybody else. Inside the tank containing her energetic form the darkness was still swirling but there was no escape. She was sent instantly to the ship above and the Guardians turned to help the wounded Orion.

Genesis has already use Cure but the wound inflicted by Jenova wasn’t healing easily. The Guardians gave a shot to Orion and the pain subsided for the moment.

-It will heal in time; Jenova’s touch is poisonous so your body needs some time to eliminate the toxins. Take some rest; you did great, young Gaian. Your father is safe.

-Thank you- whispered Orion. Thank you all…She almost got me.

The Guardians left Orion with Genesis while they talked to Reeve and to Vincent. They left a message for the planet to be delivered to the inhabitants of the planet, explaining all that was related to Jenova and redeeming The Legendary SOLDIERs. The two starships split and each of them took its own way.

Reeve transferred Sephiroth’s form into the body synthesizer.

-It will take some time-he said to Genesis and Vincent. You should look after Orion and I’ll call you when we’re ready.

They agreed and turned to Orion; the youth was exhausted from the intense struggle and the blood loss. He was half asleep. Genesis lifted and carried him to his room where he tucked him in bed. Vincent took some rest to, waiting for Tuesti’s call.

Genesis wiped off the sweat from the youth’s forehead; Orion sighed and opened his eyes.

-You saved me-he whispered almost inaudibly. Thank you, Genesis…

-You scared the hell out of me, kid. It’s good to have you back…Now, get some strength before you can meet your father. I’ll let you know when he’s here, ok?

Orion gave a small smile.

-Ok but…don’t go away yet. Stay with me…

He slowly drifted into the world of dreams as Genesis sit there, watching him, not daring to make out too much of those few words.

Genesis was troubled by his own feelings. His whole life was upside-down; his best friend was about to come back from the dead while he was developing deep feelings towards his friend’s son…This was a total mess, yet Genesis couldn’t help but let things go on and find their proper way. He sat and watched over the young man, his fingers playing with the silver strands spread over the pillow…

Vincent knocked at the door.

-Genesis…he called in a restrained voice. Come, it’s almost ready.

He saw Orion sleeping.

-Let him rest for a while; you need your own time with your friend. We’ll be back for him later.

 

 

Chapter 14. Sephiroth

 

 

The pressurized tank opened with a hiss; a hand grabbed the rim of the tank and a human form emerged from the mist inside. It was a man in his mid-forties, well built, graceful and quite handsome. The long, thick silver hair was flowing and enveloping him like an eerie curtain of liquid light. He dressed up with the clothes he found outside the tank then turned towards the three men watching him behind the large glass window. The moment he recognized Genesis, the green, cat-like eyes filled with joy and he smiled.

He opened the door.

-Genesis…he said in his deep, velvety voice. It’s been a while, old friend!

The two SOLDIER hugged for long moments.

-Seph, my friend!-burst out Genesis. I thought I’d never see you again! Aren’t you mad at me?! Am I forgiven?

Sephiroth shook his head and laughed his silent laugh.

-Don’t be silly, Genny! I grew wiser and I’ve learned a lot all these miserable years. I can see that you’ve matured to, though you’re younger now than me…huh

Genesis grinned, his azure eyes lighting up with happiness. He introduced Sephiroth to Reeve and Vincent.

-I’m grateful for all you did for me and my son-said Seph, shaking hands with them.

-I tried to compensate for all that I couldn’t do for you-said Vincent. You have a fine boy. He’s under Genesis’ wings now-he added with a small smile.

-I hope you haven’t told him all about our younger years?-chuckled Sephiroth looking straight to his old friend.

Genesis reddened and then they all burst into laughter. They talked for about an hour then Reeve and Vincent left the two Legendary SOLDIERs alone.

-Where is he? –asked Sephiroth. Can I see him now?

-He’s asleep. Let’s pay him a visit-said Genesis. I promised him that I’d wake him up when you’d be ready.

They found Orion still sleeping. Sephiroth was visibly touched watching the young man that was sleeping peacefully like a child.

-Though he looks like me, I can see how he resembles to his mom. It is her cheerful, optimistic spirit that fills him from inside. I’m glad that he was raised in love-Sephiroth’s voice trailed.

-Seph…Genesis put a hand on his friend’s shoulder.

-I watch his face and I wonder what have they done to us…We were just like him; fragile boys, filled with dreams and hopes…They used us and they broke us for their selfish purposes…Monsters!

Sephiroth’s face clouded in pain and frustration, remembering the past. He kept silent for a few moments, hiding his face from Genesis. Finally, he sighed deeply, shook his head and turned to his friend with a gentle smile.

-Genny, my friend! Don’t worry; I’m OK. I’m far beyond that.

He sat on the rim of the bed and placed a hand on Orion’s hand. The youth stirred in his sleep and opened his eyes.

The light-green eyes looked into the Mako-green ones with split pupils…Orion sat up abruptly, watching in disbelief the impressive man sitting face to face with him.

-Father…he whispered and almost choked on the overwhelming emotions.

-You have your mother’s smile and her aura-said Sephiroth and helped his son up.

They stood there, watching each other for moments. Orion was more slender and gracious while Sephiroth was a little taller and he kept his overwhelmingly powerful appearance. Years and years of pain and agony under Jenova’s constant torment matured him but since he became free of her entirely he has lost his previous stiffness.

He felt relieved and relaxed and even his dry sense of humor surfaced more easily this time. Genesis was mesmerized as he looked from one to another. They were so alike yet so different. His own feelings were slowly clearing up while he watched them closely.

Sephiroth was his closest friend and a brother in arms. They shared a deep connection and an equally deep friendship.

But Orion was something else. He was the one who warmed up his soul and made him feel alive again. Though he was ten years older than the youth, Genesis held a small, almost foolish hope that there was something real and personal in Orion’s words that he said previously…

Father and son embraced for the first time, each of the savoring the brand new feeling. Genesis silently closed the door behind him.

They all reunited around the table late in the evening. Each of them lived the events in his own way; Reeve Tuesti was excited as ascientist, Vincent Valentine felt relieved for the first time in his life, Genesis was absentminded and slightly disturbed by father and son. Sephiroth was at peace, calm and restrained while the youngest member of the team was highly excited.

-I’ve contacted Gaia and I’ve distributed the message left by The Guardians. It was an instant hit! You’re most welcomed to the planet! This whole expedition became the highlight of the day and for the days to come. Even Rufus sends his greetings!

Sephiroth smirked at the news.

-I wish I could see his face while he had to make his apologies…

Genesis chuckled.

-Orion cornered him and he had to admit defeat! It was a gem!

They all laughed and resumed the evening. They were all exhausted and the following day they were ready to turn back to Gaia. While they split for the night, Sephiroth stopped Genesis.

-Old pal, let’s talk a little bit. Come to my room. You don’t mind, son? We still have topics to discuss…

Genesis shut the door behind him; he looked to his friend questioningly.

-Sit down, Genny. You know that I’m not coming back to Gaia, aren’t you?

Genesis was taken aback.

-But why?!

-Genny, I don’t belong there. I’m happy that I had the chance to see you once again and to hold my son in my arms. But it’s not my time; it’s a new era. Two Sephiroths would be more than the world can face.

-What about me?!-exclaimed Genesis desperately.

-You stay here and take care of my son. Don’t be silly and don’t make him unhappy!

Genesis blushed and turned away.

-I don’t know what you are implying…

-Genesis, don’t lie to me! You’ve almost cut me in half to protect him!

-He’s your living legacy!

-No! He’s a bright young man with an identity of his own, with hopes and dreams of his own! He deserves a life of his own! He’s my son and I won’t overshadow his future.

Sephiroth stood up and went to the port-hole and looked into the deep space sprinkled with stars. Genesis came close and embraced his friend.

-We had such a short time…Do you think he will understand your reasons?

Genesis was thinking about Orion’s reaction. Sephiroth sighed.

-Help him through, my friend. But I’ll talk to him first. He already knows more about me than I know about him. I don’t want to leave like this.

They embraced, holding each other close; Genesis left to look for Orion. He found him in his cabin, gazing into the air.

-What’s wrong, kid?-asked him though he knew that the youth must have sensed something from Sephiroth’s voice tone.

-He’s not coming back, isn’t it?

The young man’s voice broke as he finished the question.

-He’s waiting for you. Go to him, kid, don’t waste precious time…

Genesis was unable to face Orion while he spoke. The youth stormed out from the cabin.

 

Sephiroth watched his son from the corner of his eyes; he was the image of his younger years, but more confident, almost cocky. He had the chance to be raised by a mother who loved him and it showed. He still sensed that the youth was troubled by something. As expected, it didn’t take him much to voice his discontent.

-I had such a short time with you, yet you’re ready to leave…I never had a father, only a story recounted over and over by mom…Orion’s voice was bitter.

-I never had a mother; my crazed scientist father let her die of heartbreak over me… You are lucky; though I never had the chance to know you I can tell you for sure that we are two who love you: your mom and …I. You are a fine young man and I feel lucky to have such a son. But I have to go; it’s my time and I feel the need to rest along those of my loved ones who are already there. You brought justice and cleared my name; you can proudly assume it now…Don’t be upset, please!

Orion sighed; he understood Sephiroth, yet he craved for his presence beside him. Sephiroth smiled shortly and continued, his velvety voice soothing slowly his son’s heartache.

-I leave you in charge of something/ somebody dear to me: take care of Genesis. Despite all the show-off, he can’t survive without his closest friends. You are very much like I was when he met me so he can easily relate to you…

-Do I look like a baby-sitter?-asked Orion with a slight edge in his voice.

-Don’t be disrespectful, young man; I’m not blind. I saw that you get along…very well…

Sephiroth chuckled watching Orion getting slightly red.

-If there’s anything you want to ask me, now it would be the time…he continued and put a hand on his son’s shoulder.

They’ve talked for hours, friendly and quietly.

 

The Lifestream was flowing in front of us; it was moving slowly, calmly. Its color was lighter and brighter than before. It embraced us tenderly, bringing some peace to our troubled heart. Faint whispers surrounded us and I heard mom’s voice calling me:

-Orion…Orion, my darling…You’ve made it! I’m so proud of you…Don’t be upset…

-Mom!-I shouted. I had such a short time…Everybody I loved left me! Now he’s leaving me to…

-You’re not alone…take a closer look! Live your life and be happy! We love you! Genesis…Thank you!….

I saw the genuine surprise on Genesis face; he smiled then and whispered:

-Thank you to, Caitlin…Take care of Seph!

-Genesis!-a deep, pleasant baritone called for my friend from the glowing mist and he stood there, eyes filling with sudden tears.

-Angeal…-he whispered turning brusquely in the direction of the voice.

-Genesis, it’s not your time yet, my friend…Don’t worry, we’ll meet again. Give Seph some rest…he had his fair share of fight! Take care!

-Angeal!…

Sephiroth smiled and embraced both of us; he then entered the quietly waving green light and disappeared. We looked to each other trying to get over the heartbreak.

-This was a short lived family reunion-I said as pain cut through my heart.

-Your father loved you-replied Genesis fighting his own emotions.

I knew he was right; just as my mom said, Sephiroth  always protected his few loved ones. This time it was me; he stepped aside to give me the freedom of choice for my own life. I understood him but it still hurt to lose him so soon. I swallowed my tears and turned to Genesis. His shining blue eyes were clouded by sadness; he was watching my struggle with increasing worry. He proved to be right; I felt a sharp pain in the chest and the world turned blank.

 

Chapter 15. Recovering and getting…happy

 

Genesis saw trouble coming; just seconds before he collapsed Orion turned pale. He grabbed the youth before he hit the floor and quickly left the entrance of the Lifestream. He felt the young man shivering in his arms and his skin getting hot and moist. Orion’s fever was mounting rapidly; he was barely conscious when they entered the spaceship.

As they all suspected the wound inflicted by Jenova was causing all the symptoms. Her touch was poisonous for humans and Orion never received Mako treatment to enhance his resistance to Jenova’s action. Only those enlisted to SOLDIER had been subjected to that kind of treatment and after a while it failed miserably, turning humans into monsters.

So the only hope for Orion was his young and healthy body and a lot of rest. Genesis spent almost all his time watching over him, wiping off the sweat, trying to feed him and to lower the body temperature. Orion’s health was wavering and Genesis got increasingly desperate. More than ever he felt that he’d been such a fool wasting time with stupid tribulation over his feelings when all he needed was the courage to assume them and enjoy the luck of being loved. He wasn’t going to give up on Orion!

There was a medical team waiting for them on Gaia and they rushed the young man to the hospital. Genesis had to stay with Reeve Tuesti and Vincent to meet Rufus Shin-Ra and the whole media gathered for this special event. He did his best to satisfy their insatiable curiosity, though his mind was set on Orion. It took almost two hours to get off the media and Genesis took his car and drove to the hospital. He quickly found the doctor and cornered him anxiously:

-How is he now? What can I do for him?

The doctor explained Genesis that Orion is not in immediate danger but the lingering poison and fever might undermine his health for good. He also told him that they need at least a few days to watch over the young man before they can decide a proper treatment. Until then, Genesis as his closest…relative can visit him and stay with him as much as he wants. There were things that a happy world couldn’t refuse to her saviors.

Genesis spent his next days and weeks commuting between televisions/for endless talk-shows and Orion’s sick-bed.

-You should be here instead of me-chuckled the young man watching Genesis arriving from another television-show. They’re gonna dry you out with those questions and invitations. I’m afraid you have to do my share to…

-You just get well, kid-grumbled Genesis, fighting to catch his breath. I already had enough of the publicity around us! I’m afraid I might find a reporter at home hiding in the closet…

Orion laughed and got off from the bed. He encircled Genesis’ neck with both arms and looked deep into his eyes.

-Take me home, Genesis. To Banora. This way we can escape all of them…

-I wish I could, kid but last time you scared me to death. You need to rest until you get over Jenova’s poison.

Orion sighed and left Genesis; he looked disappointed.

-You still don’t understand, do you? I’m not a kid and I choke here in hospital! I need space and air and I’m fed up with the sickness!

Genesis was taken by surprise by the sudden burst of rebellion. Afraid that it might cause Orion another black-out, he tried to calm him down but the young man gave him a hurt look and backed from his touch.

-No! Go away, please! Please…

He turned his back to Genesis and stood there until he heard the door closing behind his friend. He then let his emotions flow freely and he cried like a child…

Genesis left the premises in anger. What was wrong with this stubborn youth? He wanted to die or what? Why was he acting irrationally? Couldn’t he see that he, Genesis wanted to protect him? What went wrong? What was he missing in the picture? And so on…

Genesis went home/Orion’s flat in fact and sat on the balcony with a glass of apple-juice in his hands. His mind drifted and bit by bit he recounted the time he has spent with Orion since they’ve met. Darkness replaced light as the night reclaimed the city and suddenly Genesis jumped to his feet.

He quickly gathered some necessary clothes from the closets, packed them up then jumped into the car and rushed to the hospital. He found Orion sleeping deeply under the evening pills. Genesis lifted him up and he never stopped until he reached the car. He placed the young man on the front seat and tucked him into a warm blanket. He took his seat and drove off at high speed…towards Banora.

 

The moment the door closed behind Genesis I fell apart…What was I doing? Why have I chased him away? All he did was to worry and care for me, so why did I react so foolishly? I was so devastated I couldn’t stop crying. When the nurses found me I was collapsed on the floor, sobbing uncontrollably…They sedated me and put me in bed. I fell asleep almost instantly.

I woke up next morning and I knew I wasn’t in hospital. The air was scented; it smelled like…Banora White. I opened my eyes and I saw Genesis sitting in a soft chair next to me, leafing through one of his favorite editions of “Loveless”. He sensed that I was awake and looked right to me with a hopeful expression. I smiled while the tears were running down my face but I couldn’t care less. We looked at each other and there was no need for words, no need for explanations and no place for quarrel anymore.

 

For Genesis that shy but happy smile on Orion’s face was the proof that Heaven moved to Banora. As Orion sensed before, all he needed was the peaceful environment of Banora and Genesis’ closeness. In less than a week he was up and well, the temperature and the seizures gone.

In fact, Orion was radiating with happiness and so was Genesis. The weather in Banora was warm and mild so they went out every evening and sat under the large Banora White tree, counting the shooting stars and laughing.

Each night as he held Orion in his arms Genesis wondered if this wasn’t just a dream. It was too perfect and beautiful to be true. Only when finally Orion tricked him into their first kiss that Genesis let go his obsession for “ Loveless”. This wasn’t a mysterious piece of poetry; this was his life for real. So he dared to reach out for all that his young and passionate lover had to offer and bit by bit, he got it all. He never complained in the morning; he was/for sure/ the luckiest man on Gaia.

With his sanity restored, his name and pride redeemed and blessed with the love of Orion, his incomparable companion, Genesis could say that he has found the Gift of the Goddess.

 

Hi! I’m Orion and I guess that you know me well by now. This story ends here just to open the way for a new era. The world of SOLDIER has come to rest between the pages of history books or heroic novels.

Genesis and me, we found our peace and paradise here in Banora. You might doubt my love for him and pretend that I was looking for a father figure instead of finding somebody suitable in my own generation.

Feel free to do it; in fact you can do even your dissertation for a Ph.D on the subject.I don’t give a damn! All I know is that we love each other and that we are happy together. That’s all I need, that’s all we both need!

We both work on developing the Banora White business and we hope to start another orchard in Wutai perhaps. The climate there is generous enough and people there are open minded and truly interested in our research.

Friends come to visit from Midgar from time to time. Reeve Tuesti and even Cloud Strife come with their families and, needless to say, their children love being here. They have all the freedom they need and a lot of fun.

Vincent visits mainly in autumn and winter when the big city becomes increasingly dull and grey. We talk a lot about the legendary times; Vincent and Genesis, they both spoil me with stories and I shamelessly bask in their attention like a child.

My tragic but wonderful father, Sephiroth is at peace now, so our story ends here.

I know that other people’s happiness is of no interest to any reader. Thank you for lending me your time and attention.

Live a happy life!

 

 

Orion Crescent

ORION Chapter 6-11 On my own/Confronting the Shin-Ra

THIS IS A SEQUEL TO FINAL FANTASY7. I DON”T OWN ANYTHING,ALL CHARACTERS BELONG TO SQUARE ENIX….EXCEPT FOR ORION AND CAITLIN. THOSE 2CHARCTERS ARE BORN OUT OF MY IMAGINATION IN A HOPE TO REDEEM SEPHIROTH. I AM THANKFUL FOR THE OPPORTUNITY,SQUARE ENIX.

Chapter 6. On my own

 

 

 

My mother died five years ago in tragic accident. They never caught the drunk driver who hit her. She survived only to die in my arms, leaving me completely devastated.

For the first time in my life, loneliness came upon me crushingly. The only person who ever loved me, who cared and protected me was taken away from me. I was ALONE, alone in the middle of the crowd.

The day of the burial, I came home and shut the door closely behind me. At least here I was surrounded by her things. It seemed like she was out just for an assignment… I sat on the bed and closed my eyes trying to feel her scent, any trail of her lingering presence…

Somebody knocked at the door. I was stunned. Who could it be? I stumbled on my feet and opened the door. We watched each other with equal astonishment. The man in front of me was visibly shaken.

-Sephiroth…-he murmured in a deep, low voice.

-Not. Just his son. I’m Orion. And yes, I know who you are, Mr. Valentine. Come in, please.

I recognized him easily. The elusive, secretive Vincent Valentine looked the same as ever. We both looked very close in age but there was a lot more behind those crimson eyes.

-I’m very sorry about your mother- he said.

Surprised, I turned to him questioningly. Ever since I knew mom and me, we kept a low profile. Because of my father, mom was constantly worrying that somebody might want to hurt me. She never let me  wear long hair, because  I’ve inherited Sephiroth’s every distinctive feature: green, almond shaped eyes, but no split pupils, silver hair, fair complexion and almost 6,1 foot height.

I went to private schools and I easily graduated from each of it. I was on vacation when tragedy hit, turning my life upside down.

From what he told me, Vincent had discovered our small family during Sephiroth’s latest arrival. His sharp eyes and enhanced senses detected near the ruins where Cloud fought my father a young woman sobbing wildly after Sephiroth’s demise. It was obvious that her tears were shed for him. Intrigued by that, Vincent decided to follow her. He soon discovered that she had a small son and nobody else to support her.

The memory of a woman he had loved, the memory of her child that he couldn’t protect were still haunting him. He decided to keep the discovery to himself and keep an eye on them. The following years he watched over us, keeping us out of harm’s way.

-What are you going to do now?-he asked, turning to me.

-First, I have to find myself a job.

-It won’t be easy to get a proper job in Midgar, something according to your credentials. You carry a heavy legacy and your look is a constant reminder of your father- said Vincent thoughtfully. But I’ll do my best to help you. Until then, try to find something inconspicuous.

I agreed. I wasn’t in distress because of money and I wanted to make some research about my father on my own. A sports cap and a pair of thin rimmed glasses made me an average guy so I took a job in a pub in one of the favorite spots of the city. I became a regular reader at the City Library; my main interest was in newspapers. I wanted to know more about what was the image created about Sephiroth both by Shin-Ra and the Avalanche. I didn’t want to disturb Vincent; I quickly understood that he himself was struggling with a legacy/ a memory that wasn’t an easy one.  And Vincent had never spoken personally with Sephiroth so I had to dig out somebody with personal memories about my father.

As my mom suggested, the real Sephiroth was hidden deep under the exaggerated images created by employers or enemies. But where can I find a friend of the “Enemy of the World” after 25 years? “Patience!-I said to myself. Let’s read and there has to be something worth of it”.

 

 

A cold wind rustled through the fallen leaves, brushing small pecks of dust against the man’s cheek. He shook his head impatiently and closed his grip on the bunch of white and yellow flowers in his hand. He kneeled in front of the small grave and gently laid the flowers near the headstone. He stood silent for a moment then rose to his feet with a deep, sorrowful sigh. He turned towards the old house and left the grave with hurried steps.

It has been a difficult day and it has been like this each year for more then 25 years. His mind was clear from madness, rage or vain frustration but it was filled with pain and a deep sense of loss. Year after year during this day he was confronted with the tragic demise of all his loved ones, family and friends. For a moment he felt so alone that he could scream.

As a young man he has had such high hopes and dreams of fame. When he finally reached his goals, he realized it hadn’t been worth all of the sacrifices. All that Gift of the Goddess, his redemption was nothing compared to the death of his parents and the loss of his best/ only friends. He buried his face in his hands and shut his eyes trying to recall their features. The hurt was cutting deep…

Yes, he has killed his parents in a fit of maddening rage. Yes, they had been hired by Shin-Ra to raise him but they loved him, cherished him, encouraged him and they had been proud of him just like real parents. He had loved them to…They did their best and he killed them for what Shin-Ra has done to him. It was a monstrous burden.

His best friend had decided to die before he ended up taking innocent lives. He died an honorable death, leaving his legacy of pride and honor to his beloved apprentice. This was just another death he wasn’t able to prevent.

But his biggest failure, the one that hurt most was the loss

– of their common friend, a world acclaimed hero who succumbed to madness and ended up killed…

The man jumped to his feet and he begun to pace up and down the room. The memory of this particular friend haunted him, shame and regret tearing down his heart. It has been a unique, wonderful person, incredibly intelligent, strong and gifted yet unbelievably vulnerable deep inside, trustful and almost naïve with his closest friends. His only friends…

They had been separated by the insane competition of two mad scientists, fueled by the greed and hunger for power of the Shin-Ra president and his executives. Before they could realize what was happening to them, they were competing like Hell, hurting each other and burning down the bridges of friendship…

The man pushed away a rebellious auburn strand of hair from his piercing blue eyes. He hadn’t changed much. His features matured during the last 20 years but he remained the same handsome, tall and slender guy, with a silver earring dangling from his right earlobe. He still moved around with feline grace and even his passionate, snappish temperament was basically the same.

Genesis Rhapsodos was back in Banora. The Goddess has restored him and she has also restored the White Banora Orchard. So he restarted the Apple Juice Factory, he developed new products and the whole business rocketed high. Genesis kept himself out of the public highlights. The factory was lead by a Committee and he kept in touch only with its president. Though he liked the remoteness of his homeland, Genesis used to take a trip from time to time to Midgar.

Just like the planet itself, the city has changed a lot and became a better place to live. For the first time in its history the city had a clear blue sky above and the air wasn’t choking anymore. The flowers that grew in Aerith’s Church were blossoming freely outside the sacred ground and life/greenery and animals/ were returning to this place. There were no more Mako Reactors to drain the vital energy of the planet. Thanks to scientists like Reeve Tuesti and his research team, new and healthier energy sources were used to maintain a proper comfort for everyone.

Shin-Ra and its unpleasant memory faded slowly into oblivion. World Regenesis Organisation took up the leading role in rebuilding the whole planetary society on new basis. Genesis suspected that the money funding the projects came from the late Shin-Ra, via Rufus Shinra, the sole survivor of the entire bunch. He shrugged: that money was blood-money and it was rightfully returned to the benefit of those who had long suffered because of Shin-Ra’s madness.

The day when Genesis arrived in Midgar was a pleasant one, the weather showing unexpected kindness towards the inhabitants of the big city. To avoid any chance of recognition, Genesis hid behind a pair of sunglasses and was wearing a reddish-brown jacket over his black, sleeveless turtleneck. Though he liked his SOLDIER boots, he opted for more usual ones with slightly high heels. He stopped to take a cocktail based on Banora Juice at one of his favorite pubs.

The young man at the counter took his order and filled his glass with the fragrant liquid. Genesis was oblivious to everything until he heard the voice of the young bartender. It was deep and soft, almost like a purr. Genesis’ head jerked up instinctively, eyes searching for the source of the so familiar sound. The young man stood in front of him, a slight smile curving up his lips.

-Is there anything else I can offer you, Sir?- he asked politely, light green eyes watching intently from behind the thin rimmed glasses.

It took Genesis a few seconds to swallow the lump in his throat. He stared for a moment at the bartender then mumbled something like “No, thanks”, finished his drink, paid leaving a generous tip and left the pub in a hurry. He stopped outside the pub to catch his breath and to stop the shivering of his whole body. He leaned against a larger tree bordering the street and looked back to the pub. His enhanced vision allowed him to detect people’s movements even from a wider distance. He could see the young bartender moving graciously, his gestures almost flowing…It was a natural grace rarely seen at someone towering at 6,1 feet. It reminded him hurtfully of …Sephiroth. Genesis was so caught in sightseeing the young man that he almost forgot to breathe. He gasped for air, eyes filling with unexpected tears…He turned sharply on his heels and left.

 

Working at the pub wasn’t hard. I never had difficulties in socializing with others. There was also a wide range of people coming to this particular pub. It was like social study unfolding under my eyes. Of course, they brought with them the gossip of the city so I was kept up-to-date about anybody/ anything interesting.

Today I had a very peculiar client. He was a guy in his late thirties, tall and slender with a handsome face and eyes hidden behind sunglasses. He seemed to be coming from artistic ground; he had a very interesting way of speaking, almost like chanting and he had one silver earring dandling from his right ear. He ordered a Banora Sun Cocktail and was sipping it quietly. I was taking other orders when the guy broke off from his dreamy state and stared at me. I asked him about what else he might have liked but he remained frozen and speechless. A few moments later he mumbled something and left in a hurry, not before paying and leaving a generous tip. He looked deeply disturbed, just like someone seeing a ghost. It was very odd. I never met him before, I’m sure. One couldn’t easily forget such a guy, with an outstanding look and fiery hair. But I’m sure that I reminded him of somebody he thought lost. The shock radiating from his entire person was genuine. I wonder if he’ll be back…

 

Genesis slammed the door behind him and slumped into an armchair. He was still shaking from the inside. It can’t be-he repeated on and on, trying to convince himself. That velvety voice, the cat-like grace, the light-green almond-shaped eyes, the nicely curved lips and the unusual tall and slender frame-all these were the marking features of Sephiroth. But he knew for sure that Sephiroth was dead.

Even if Jenova was still lurking in the Lifestream, Sephiroth ceased to reappear for almost twenty years. So this had to be an odd coincidence, a dirty trick of life meant to turn him upside down…Genesis sighed; he was lying to himself. This wasn’t just an ordinary avatar of his long lost friend; this was a sign.

Something was boiling under the surface of that tranquil reality and he was caught in. The same reality pushed him from behind to make up his mind and leave his hiding place.

Genesis groaned; he didn’t like to be pushed around but this encounter was way out of the ordinary. He would keep a watchful eye on this young man and see what’s behind his appearance.

So during the following days, Genesis rented a room in Midgar and begun his watch over the intriguing young bartender. It seemed that he lived alone and that he was doing some kind of research at the City Library. He was spending hours at the newspaper section, reading over and over articles about events 40 years old. Now, why was he so interested in the Golden Age of SOLDIER? Has he lost somebody during those troubled, deceitful years?

Genesis kept on following him. One day, the young man woke up early. The previous day Genesis spotted him buying flowers. The gesture made him curious; was there anybody in the youngster’s life, somebody unseen until now? He followed him like a shadow; the young man walked towards the cemetery. He pushed the entrance door and took a path under the willow trees. The small grave was nested in the grass in a slightly shaded spot. The young man kneeled and replaced the flowers from the delicate glass vase.

-I’m here, mom-he whispered. Did you miss me? ‘Cause I surely miss you…I’m working on selecting information about father; I still hope that some day I’ll stumble upon one of his friends. Love you, mom! I have to go now but I’ll be back. You know I will.

He stood up and sighed. He turned towards the exit and left hurriedly. He was working in the afternoon shift. Genesis waited patiently until he was out of sight then he approached the small grave in an attempt to read the name on the headstone.

“Caitlin Saeki/ O’Brian-journalist and beloved mother”- read the inscription. The name sounded familiar but he wasn’t able to remember exactly; at least not yet. Genesis decided to make some research about her. O’Brian. O’Brian…O’Brian? Not THE O’Brian?! Genesis frantically searched through the pile of information. Yes! O’Brian was assigned to write about the SOLDIER and the Wutai War right after he has run AWOL. And that O’Brian was… a girl of barely his age. She wrote constantly, almost on a daily basis until the Niebelheim Incident. Suddenly she disappeared from the newspaper and she never surfaced again.

She died later, leaving behind a son…the living image of…Oh, Goddess!!! Genesis was overwhelmed by the sudden revelation: the young man was almost sure Sephiroth’s son! He leaned against the cold stone, trying to calm down. Sephiroth had a son. A son. But he has never known about him. Jenova grabbed him and never released him from her deadly grip. If only he, Genesis hadn’t pushed him over his human limits…

The new discovery only added to Genesis’ guilt. He turned to Caitlin’s grave:

-I promise to take care of your son. I owe it to Seph and to you!

 

I left moms grave with an odd feeling. I’m almost sure that somebody was watching me. I couldn’t spot him but there was a remote sense of radiating personality right behind me, hidden in the entwining shadows. Since the feeling wasn’t a menacing one, I decided to leave it like this. If somebody wanted to contact me, I wanted him to make it in his own terms. The pub was filled up by the usual crowd, keeping me busy for hours. It looked like an average working day until half an hour before closing time.

Most of the clients were slowly finishing their drinks and the band was playing just for another 4-5 minutes. Then the pub door opened and the guy took place at the counter, right in front of me. He wasn’t wearing his sunglasses; his azure-blue eyes were watching me intently.

-We have to talk- he said in a serious voice. I assume you were looking for me; your father was my best friend.

He took a Banora Sun Cocktail and waited, sipping patiently his drink, until I finished all my work and closed the pub. We walked side by side towards my flat. He seemed to know where we were going since he never asked about it. I/correctly/ assumed that he’s been the one watching me since our first encounter. Genesis Rhapsodos, former Crimson Commander entered my life that evening.

For the first time since my mom died I had two powerful men guarding me and helping me to stand up to the challenges of life. And Genesis was the best source of information about my father’s history as well as the back-story of the once almighty Shin-Ra. From what he has told me and what my mom gathered during her assignment at SOLDIER there emerged the image of a powerful and ruthless enterprise, ruled by strong willed, greedy people, using the best minds in order to conquer all that could be engulfed in their empire. But the worst thing they did was the use of an alien creature to create the ultimate soldiers, capable to defend them and conquer whatever they were ordered to. My father was the top soldier of this military organization, the one who received the most of that alien cell infusion. The other two were his closest friends, Angeal Hewley and Genesis Rhapsodos. From the Legendary Trio only Genesis survived, thanks to the gift of the goddess Minerva. My father lost the battle with Jenova.

Yet my mom died with the conviction that Sephiroth survived somehow in the Lifestream. She has known him intimately and she trusted the goodness constituting his inner self. So my task was to find a way to get in touch with the Lifestream and track down my father. I had no idea where to start.

Thankfully Genesis suggested that I take a week of leave out and go back with him to Banora. I’m slightly nervous and excited about this trip. Banora holds so many secrets and memories of the three friends. I could see the same excitement in Genesis’ eyes. He might hold some hopes to, hopes that he’s not ready to reveal yet. Oh well, we’ll see…

 

 

 

Chapter7. Back to Banora

 

Genesis was restless. He fought hard to keep in mind that he was dealing with Orion and not with Sephiroth. Each day the son looked more like his father, especially now that his hair has grown, touching the shoulders and his bangs were framing his face just like Seph’s. Orion got a well-balanced personality and he didn’t look so dispassionate like the former SOLDIER. In fact you could guess that there was some temper boiling not so far from the educated surface. Orion got an acute sense of justice acquired from his mother. He trusted her above all and the image she depicted about Sephiroth was strongly driving him.

Genesis secretly hoped that the young man wouldn’t be disappointed. He himself held an unspoken hope: to meet Seph again and to be forgiven by him. He agreed that if Sephiroth was to be found, it could’ve been only in the Lifestream. He was also aware that Jenova was still capable of grim surprises. Hatred and the lust for revenge fueled her indefinitely. After more than 2000 years she was as deadly as ever.

They both traveled from Midgar to Genesis’ place in Banora and planned to visit the Cave. But before that Genesis wanted to show Orion around the Banora White orchard. It was his favorite place ever; his sometimes troubled mind and storming soul regained its peace and balance under the fragrant shade of the apple trees. The milder climate of the whole region rent him less conflicted. Healed from the madness induced by the Mako treatment combined with the infusion of the Jenova cells Genesis was constantly struggling with itself. Surprisingly Orion’s presence had a soothing effect upon him. The young man’s friendship and confidence in him gave a boost to the former SOLDIER.

The morning was crisp and bright. The sky was slowly turning its hazy blue into a more definite azure as the autumn closed on the land. Thin silver threaded clouds were lining the upper atmosphere, adding a little chill to the still warm morning breeze. Genesis watched as his young companion dived into the pleasant open air, stretching like a cat, filling his lungs with the spicy scent of the ripening apples. For Orion this was the first time that he came to the countryside, where space stretched freely between fields, orchards, hills and forests, unstopped by towering, clustering buildings. He really enjoyed the site; his eyes were glowing in the sunshine, his cheeks were getting a rosy tint and his silver strands were flowing freely around, catching the early morning wind.

Genesis himself was rejuvenating as the swirling gush of air caught into his shiny copper strands and his azure- blue eyes fille4d with light and undisturbed pleasure. He brought Orion to the giant White Banora tree, picked a purple fruit and handed it to the young man. Orion took the apple, turning it curiously in his hand, took a sip of the spicy scent and cautiously took a bite. The apple was juicy and tasted like white wine.

-It’s…very good-said Orion smiling to Genesis. You have a real fortune here.

-I’m glad you like it-commented Genesis. I could never persuade your father to taste it. Being raised in Hojo’s lab ruined his appetite for fresh fruits.

-Let’s make a deal: you help me find Sephiroth and I’ll persuade him to eat one of this apples-chuckled Orion, giving him a playful look.

-Mind you- smirked Genesis. I might have the easiest task.

They both laughed, picked some more apples filling the basket brought by Genesis and they returned to the house for a short breakfast. They were preparing to descend into the Cave.

 

The first morning in Banora proved to be delicious. I’m still in a blissful state. Everything is so…natural and free here. Thanks to the Banora Orchard the air is fragrant you can almost bite it. I savored every bit and breath of it. Genesis looks livelier here. Sometimes I have the feeling that he relives the happy days of his younger life, the blissful days spent with Angeal and my father. In fact he told me not once that I ressemble more and more to the young Sephiroth.

Now, we are going to descent into the Mako Cave under Banora. Genesis told me a lot about it and I’m anxious to see it with my own eyes. I’ve never seen Mako pools and crystals in my life. Mako is forbidden stuff now. We use only the energy that’s safe for the planet. We had overused her energy a lot in the Shin-Ra guarded past.

Mako-enhanced warriors had disappeared to. They were not needed anymore. But Genesis still has his famous Rapier and has his own personal reserve of enhanced Materia.

He is training constantly, keeping himself fit.

“You never know when these skills might be needed-he says.”

I can’t help but to agree; if that alien, Jenova is so powerful, she might break out one day and try to destroy the planet. The Goddess has appointed Genesis as Guardian to the Planet so he has to keep up with the task.

 

The entrance of the Cave was well hidden after so many years. People seldom came here, fearing the monsters that once lurked in the shadows and not wanting to slip accidentally in one of the scattered Mako pools. Since his childhood, Genesis was at home in the cave. He has built up his secret kingdom and used it later to get away from the Turks and Shin-Ra.

He even built a secret lab and aided by Hollander created his own army of copies to piss off Shin-Ra. Things turned up badly when he slowly fell into madness and killed his parents and the residents of Banora. Genesis recounted everything to Orion; he considered that the hurtful confession could be the first real step to his redeeming in the eyes of this young man who was now the unexpected bridge between the long lost past and a hopeful future. So he took him and introduced him to every hidden corner of his hiding place. Orion was amazed by the place itself and touched by the sincerity of such a personal confession.

The cave deepened and the green glitter of the crystal covered walls created an eerie light. The air became colder, sending a chill down on both men spine. From time to time, translucent green sources surfaced from the cracks, bubbling, boiling then calming down again. After an endless row of steep, ragged stairs carved in the hard rock of the cave, the place opened into a huge cavern where every step echoed from the high ceiling. In the middle of the scenery there was a crumbled statue of the Goddess.

Orion approached the statue eyes wide open in sheer curiosity. He reach out tentatively and touched her stone shape. He turned to Genesis questioningly:

-Is she the one that helped you?

Genesis gave a small nod.

-Do you think she would help me to?-asked Orion, voice filled with an almost childish hope.

-I don’t know-mumbled Genesis, lowering his eyes. You never know what’s in the gods mind. But this cavern is a possible passageway to the Lifestream, so we have to try…

Orion turned again to the statue, trailing his fingers across the stone with a wishful expression on his face.

-I wonder-he whispered but he never finished the sentence.

The sudden burst of white light erupted from the statue, engulfing the young man for a few seconds. He shuddered under the powerful shower of light and shut his eyes. Before Genesis could even think to react, the light subsided and Orion collapsed to the ground.

Genesis quickly lifted him up and moved him away from the statue. He was alive and looked unharmed. After less than ten minutes Orion shifted and the light-green eyes popped open. Genesis sighed.

-Goddess, Orion I almost had a heart attack. I thought I lost you! What happened?

-She talked to me-came the hesitant answer. She showed me the Lifestream and she said that it is open for me. Do you know what that means?

Genesis shook his head.

-I’m not sure but I’m confident. She’ll show you the way when she thinks that you’re ready for it. Now, if you’re fine, we should return to the house. We could use some rest and sleep.

They took the way back and by the time the sky was lighting up with stars, Genesis and Orion were sitting side by side on the stairs, each of them cupping a mug of hot tea.

 

 

Chapter8. First encounter in the Lifestream

 

 

Exhausted by the day’s high density of events I quickly fell asleep. I must have slept for a couple of hours when I heard mom calling me:

-Orion, my darling wake up! Wake up!

-Huh?! Mom?!

-Wake up! I found him!

-Mom! But…

-Hush! Listen! We don’t have too much time; I found your father. He’s trapped inside the Lifestream.

-Mom? Where are you?

-I’m still in the Lifestream. I couldn’t leave him stranded like this and I pleaded with the Planet. She understood.

-What can I do?

-I’ll show you the place. You have to watch carefully and keep it in your mind; it’s the only way to locate him.

-Mom? Is this a dream?

-It is but it’s for real. Your father needs our help and I won’t rest until he’s free.

-Show me! I’m ready to follow you.

Mom’s voice faded but I could clearly feel her presence. The thick, glowing green mist was twirling around us like a river of light. It wasn’t easy to move through it; sometimes the currents were very strong and the faint hum in the background turned to a choir of eerie voices. From time to time I had the distinct feeling of bumping into something/somebody. It was both disturbing and confusing, yet mom’s presence guided me safely through.

After a while, the light dimmed, the color changed from emerald-green to moss-green, strands of deep-grey entwining with the filaments of green. I felt mom stopping.

-We’re here-she whispered. Beware my dear, this is a dangerous place. The Lifestream has managed to weave a cocoon around the place where Jenova and your father are. She took hold of him and she uses him to act as her embodiment.

-How do you know?

-I can feel his presence. If you get closer, you could feel him to. But be careful: she might want to capture you as well.

I shut my eyes and tried to empty my mind. Suddenly I felt a huge pressure like something with many arms trying smoldering me. I fought back, pushing away the tentacles of black fog, then I saw a small grain of green light, pulsing timidly in the middle of the dark, choking vortex. With a sudden jerk I expanded my mind and touched the light.

-Who…who’s there?-came a faint whisper.

The voice was deep but sounded tired.

-Sephiroth?!-I asked tentatively.

-Who are you? How did you find me?-asked him incredulously.

-I’m Orion. I’m Caitlin’s son. And YOUR’s…

-Goddess…-he whispered. I never knew…

Before we could say anything else a deafening screech invaded the space in both our mind. The hysterical laughter shattered the fragile connection built up between us. I could still detect a faint, whispered warning:

-Run, run before she gets you! GO!!!…please…-his voice slowly subsided.

I jumped and opened my eyes. I was outside the dark spot, my head churning. I barely heard my mother speaking to me:

-It’s her, isn’t it? She’s tormenting him; she’s afraid that he might free himself and then she could be more easily defeated. We have to save him, for him and for the Planet. She cannot heal until Jenova is shadowing her existence. Go now, my darling. Think! I’ll watch over him.

I woke up in my bed, soaked in sweat and tangled in sheets. I was shivering. Sephiroth’s voice was ringing in my ears:

“I never knew…GO!!!…please…”

I was determined to take action.

 

Genesis jumped. There were light footsteps on the corridor in the middle of the night coming to his bedroom. Genesis was slightly blurred after the chaotic day and he needed some moments to adjust. There was a small tap at the door and he heard Orion’s voice whispering:

-Genesis! Wake up! I had a dream. I found Sephiroth in the Lifestream!

The young man stood at the door, trying to catch his breath. His eyes sparkled in the dark and he was highly excited. Genesis sobered and became alert instantly; he knew that the young man was reliable and that there was an important break-through in their search for his long lost friend. So he sat down and listened to Orion’s recount with maximized attention.

The recount was outraging and terrifying at the same time. Nobody would have expected that Jenova could have such a strong grip on her unfortunate victim and that she had been able to survive to so many defeats in a chilling good condition. Genesis was angry as Hell at the thought of the torments Sephiroth suffered such a long time. He knew Jenova was a constant threat for humanity and the planet itself but it looked like people around him were content to think that Jenova was a closed chapter. The time of SOLDIER   and other heroes has ended and people were back in track, rebuilding their lives, adapting to a world without Mako energy and Materia. As Shin-Ra collapsed, the war with Wutai became meaningless and the wutaian way of life became a reliable model for the new world.

A new generation of scientists emerged, lead by Reeve Tuesti; their goal was to unravel new, clean sources of energy to replace Mako.  The face of the planet was slowly changing into something peaceful, blooming and friendly.

I a relatively short time the skills that made SOLDIER famous became part of a mythical history and even heroes like Cloud could finally resume their duty and start to live a life of their own. To think about himself as a relic from the past was a funny if not awkward feeling for Genesis. But finding Orion has changed the whole perspective; the young man was an unexpected and pleasant addition to his life. For the first time after so many troubled years Genesis had a purpose in life, other than simply surviving to loneliness and boredom. Though the close resemblance Orion bore to his father, Sephiroth made Genesis sometimes uneasy deep inside, he did his best to separate the two images and to acknowledge that, despite his deceitful appearance, Orion was an entire different person. Most of all, he was pleasant and likeable. So Genesis couldn’t be happier at the moment.

But what was lurking in the Lifestream was truly bothering. Defeating Jenova bare handed was out of question. Even with Genesis’ skills as Crimson Commander and his load of Materia stored in the Banoran caves, it was a risqué business to approach Jenova without a proper plan. They needed a very good one and strong allies standing by.

Genesis and Orion spent days and weeks in the secret laboratories trying to find a technical solution for their problems. Some interesting ideas popped up from their work but there wasn’t a satisfactory solution. They agreed that since Jenova was hiding in that specific spot of  the Lifestream, they have to isolate her somehow and remove her from the vital flow of the planet. The other task was to separate her from Sephiroth and release him before she totally engulfed him. This really was an emergency since Seph’s willpower seemed to diminish each day under her tremendous pressure.

The third task was to get Jenova off the Lifestream and get her off the planetary system. Orion suggested that they contact Vincent and ask for his help. After all, Vincent has watched over Orion since his birth and he was also connected to Lucrecia Crescent, Sephiroth’s real mother. So they both decided to gather their results and their load of information and return to the City to look for Vincent Valentine.

They spent their last evening in Banora under the great Banora apple tree, watching the starlit skies and enjoying the low humming of Nature. Orion confidently leaned against Genesis’ shoulder, his silver bangs tickling the older guys face and neck.

-I like this place-murmured the young man. It’s so peaceful and quiet…I’d like to live here for the rest of my life.

-You’re welcome anytime-said Genesis running his fingers absentmindedly through the silver strands, over and over…

The warm silence enveloped them slowly. Genesis turned to his young companion and smiled; Orion has fallen asleep under his caressing. He was sleeping like a child, relieved under the pressure of the previous days. Genesis sighed and held him closely; the young man stirred and mumbled something. Genesis bent over him trying to understand the muffled words.

-Genesis…stay with me…please…

The soft murmur made Genesis blush; he gently squeezed Orion.

-Sssst…relax,kid…I’m here; I’m not going anywhere.

 

 

Chapter 9. Facing the Shin-Ra

 

 

I woke up in bed unable to remember how I got there last night. All I remembered were the stars lighting up the Banoran skies and the sweet, crisp scent of the apples above us. So I assumed that somehow poor Genesis dragged me home and tucked me in bed. I quickly jumped out from the comfortable place and washed.

As I expected Genesis was already in the sunny kitchen drinking his coffee. He looked at me with a mischievous light in his blazing-blue eyes and invited me to eat my breakfast.

-I shouldn’t feed you if I have to carry you back every time we go out; you’re going to break my back…he chuckled.

I felt my face catching fire and I almost choked on something…but then we both burst into laughter!

-I’m sorry, Genesis. It won’t happen again; there are no apple-trees in Midgar, not even where I live. You know it well, so don’t worry…

He smirked and there was a short sparkle in his eyes as he looked at me for a moment; I stood his stare and returned the grin. For a moment it was like an invisible connection; there was a hidden message traveling from one –another, without exchanging a word. Finally, Genesis blinked and turned away.

-Let’s go, kid-he said. We have a long journey ahead of us.

We took our bags and hopped into Genesis’ car. The road to the confrontation with Jenova has started.

We arrived late at night in the City; my flat was quiet and undisturbed. We took a shower, eat something and stood on the small balcony trying to find out where to start our future quest. Genesis suggested that due to the emergency of our task I should leave my work; he offered to provide the necessary amount of money for me to. I wasn’t at loss myself; mom left me with some cash so things were comfortable for the moment and we could concentrate on our problem.

Vincent Valentine’s whereabouts were totally unknown for both of us; he was a very secretive, quiet person. All we could do was to hope that he would contact us; I knew that he was still keeping an eye on me and that he knew about my encounter with Genesis. Though they belonged to the same moment in history, they had never actually met. They looked almost the same age but that was just an illusion; Vincent had slept…for almost 30 years after my father was born and Lucrecia died. Genesis was slightly nervous about the encounter with this elusive stranger; he was more interested in getting in contact with….president Rufus Shin-Ra. Though he has long disappeared from the public eye, Genesis knew he was still holding some strings on the world. We both had a definite reason to face him sooner or later.

There was a slight tap on the door; it was midnight…We looked at each other and Genesis gave a short nod. We knew it was the one we were looking for. As I opened the door and let Vincent in, Genesis stood up and came to meet him.

-Commander Rhapsodos-said Vincent holding out his hand.

-Mister Valentine of the Turks; glad to meet you-said Genesis shaking the slim hand. Don’t smirk, young man-he said turning to me. We both made some research about the other since we knew nothing on a personal basis.

I couldn’t help but chuckle seeing them so serious and diffident towards the other; for a moment I had the feeling that they were somehow competing over me or that Genesis was slightly pissed off by a possible claim from Vincent above my…wellbeing.

We finally sat down; I opened a bottle of wine to ease the tension and we talked about the things that happened during my journey in Banora. Vincent was utterly surprised by my encounter in the Lifestream and became even more worried thinking about the threat a very much alive and furious Jenova meant to the whole planet.

-Well-he said in his deep baritone-it seems that we were over optimistic assuming that she was defeated. We had a good, peaceful life until now but you’re right; she has to be stopped for good. About Sephiroth…well, that’s an entirely different business. You must know, both of you that he’s not popular at all…

I knew it but I was determined anyway.

-I won’t stop until he’s free again and his name cleared. I’ve heard all from both of you, I have my mom’s recording about those events. I need your help; I want to meet the head scientist, Reeve Tuesti and I need a chance to talk to Rufus Shin-Ra. I’m ready to face the consequences!!!

My both friends looked at me in slight disbelief, pondering about my declaration if it should be taken as a youth’s bragging or a real commitment. I was angry and hurt. I left them and slammed the door behind me.

As I got on the street, I took the path towards the cemetery. It was well passed midnight and the streets were deserted and silent. A sick-pale full moon was shinning up in the blurry sky. I entered the small garden door and searched for mom’s grave. I sat there on the rim of the grave, trying to catch a glimpse of my mom’s presence. The night turned breezy and cold and I was shivering while I tried to swallow the tears of frustration running down my cheeks.

“Mom, they take me for a foolish child…How am I to succeed to reach Father in time? Is he still holding his ground against her? Mom? Where are you? I hate being alone like this…”

 

Genesis watched him sitting there, bracing himself against the head-stone, talking to his late mother and desperately seeking for help and support. The moment the young man fled the house he and Vincent realized how deeply committed and sensitive in fact Orion was. They quickly exchanged some basic information and agreed on meeting the next evening. Genesis left in a hurry to catch up with his young friend. Something told him that the cemetery was the only place where Orion would go; he had nobody close to his heart except his late mother.

Genesis crouched near him and put a hand on the youth’s shoulder.

-Orion…come with me. Don’t be upset; I’m sorry for hurting your feelings.

There was a moment of silence then Orion stood up and turned to him.

-Genesis-he said and his voice broke in pain. I have no one left but you; don’t abandon me! I have to go through this quest, even if it might cost my life! But I need you beside me; I rely on you! You are my FRIEND !

-Vincent is your friend to…said Genesis quietly.

-Vincent is my guardian! YOU are MY FRIEND!

Orion almost shouted these words as he confronted him. Genesis shuddered.

-I don’t know what exactly is in your mind, kid…he sighed.

-Don’t underestimate me Genesis; I am not a child though I’m younger than you. I am a man and I know exactly what I want. I think you know it to. You just don’t want to admit it. Not yet…

Orion stood there, silently watching him.

Genesis looked into those beautiful, saddened eyes and felt a pang in his heart. It looked that their fate was deeply entwined and that there was no other option for the two of them than to jump into the fire hand in hand. Vincent could provide some important support but this was a matter of his and Orion’s. He put an arm around the young man’s shoulder and they turned home, talking quietly. He even succeeded to convince him to sleep at least a few hours. The morning was almost breaking. Genesis fell asleep almost instantly; he’s had enough troubling topics for just one day. His mind was drifting away in a blurry world of indefinite dreams when he heard Orion shouting out loud. Genesis jumped from the bed and almost stumbled into the other room; Orion was sitting on the rim of the bed, clutching to his shoulders and shaking, eyes closely shut like trying to avoid a frightening view.

-What happened?…asked Genesis, his own voice trembling from the shock and lack of sleep.

-Jenova…came the muffled answer. I…I got into her in my dream; somehow I ended up in the Lifestream, near my father and suddenly she was there…all around me. Have you ever see her?-the young man asked turning to his older friend.

-No-said Genesis. Actually I had never met her or saw her. All I know about her is the way she affected my life and my friends’. She slowly turned us into monsters and she left us with no control over our mind or body.

Genesis’ face darkened as he recalled the tragic events of the Legendary Soldiers. He turned back to the deeply shaken youth.

-I saw her…not as a distinct shape but as a dark, heavy mass that tried to corner me and engulf me. She is…horrible: murderous, angry, relentless…inhuman! How…how could they use her in those experiments on humans?! On unborn babies and young people…She tried to get into my mind but she backed off as I screamed. Genesis, I have to stop her but…please, don’t get angry on me!

Orion looked straight into Genesis’ eyes.

-I need a strong hold here; I need to know that I am important for somebody. Otherwise she’ll tear me down and turn me into pieces…You are my stronghold; please, don’t run away from me…Orion’s voice faded as he buried his face into his palms. He sighed.

-Sephiroth was alone at Niebelheim; he had no reason to fight back. You and Angeal, you were lost for him and he knew that Shin-Ra would have interfered in his relationship with Caitlin. He wanted to protect her so he asked her to go away and hide; Jenova got hold on his despair, anger, loss and everything he couldn’t handle anymore. She feeds on human weakness. Loneliness kills the heart, Genesis. You know it well yourself…

They both sat in silence for a few moments; then, Orion leaned against Genesis, his head resting on his friend’s shoulder. Genesis placed his arm around the youth’s shoulder and shut his eyes for a while. His mind was trying to asses all that was said; he was still reluctant to give in to his deepest feelings but he knew he was loosing the battle with himself. This fight was his fight to; it was not only about saving the Planet or getting his best friend free but it was about getting his own life back and being redeemed. The crimes that burdened his past were slowly suffocating him; Orion was like a breath of fresh air: priceless. So he had to protect him-at any cost.

-I’m here right beside you for you! For you only! For good. Don’t worry anymore, kid…

The morning caught them sleeping in the same bed, Orion cuddled in Genesis’ arms. The older man stood up and left the younger one to sleep on. He was…beautiful. Genesis quickly turned away and left for the kitchen; he needed some time by himself to put some order in the chaos that was swirling in his mind.

He washed and fixed some breakfast for him and Orion. He took a cup of coffee and sat on the balcony watching the sun fighting his way through the morning mist.

 

I woke up after a short but comforting sleep; I soon remembered the nightmare I had and the promise Genesis made. I got angry on myself; I have acted childishly, I became vulnerable because my anger and frustration and …how would I face Genesis…now?

I had no choice but to face my own stupidity; what was in my mind the night before? Not that I regretted what I said; Genesis was all I had after mom died and my feelings towards him were deepening each day. Those feelings left me confused and troubled sometimes but loneliness wasn’t a suitable alternative. Genesis was a fascinating, wonderful person and I could easily relate to him. Before we met I had a few…friends of my age but we had only a superficial connection, mainly sports or fun. My personal history was something I could not share so I couldn’t open to them. On the other hand Genesis and I we shared the same history so I could communicate with him on a very close and deep level; well, there were some difficult topics for both of us…I decided to pull myself up and stop being a burden. Love could wait for a while.

I found Genesis in the balcony with his coffee; I took a cup and poured some for myself. I took a seat next to him.

-Good morning!-I said. Sorry for being a nuisance yesterday. I hope you could catch some sleep…

Genesis smirked.

-Yep. Don’t worry, kid. I’m SOLDIER; this is not the only…very short night of my life. But your dream worries me; it looks like Jenova is getting restless. She seems to notice that we are planning something and she’s not happy about it. You’re not safe anymore so we have to get into action before she grabs you or she wipes out your father’s personality entirely.

I had to admit that the latest encounter with Jenova proved to be shocking; I knew she was powerful and my father’s warning sounded truthful enough. But the previous night proved me how dangerous that murderous monster was. It was a miracle escape…

-Vincent promised to contact and to persuade Reeve Tuesti to meet us and to listen to what we have to say. I have high hopes on him; he’s entirely different from Hojo and Hollander. But Rufus Shin-Ra is a different story; we have to be careful. He’s a deceitful, dangerous guy and from his point of view I’m a runaway SOLDIER and you’re the son of Sephiroth, The Enemy of the World.

Genesis voice lowered and turned into an angry growl. He deeply resented anything related to Shin-Ra. His face stiffened as he spoke and the azure-blue eyes glowed dangerously. I felt my blood boiling; there were so many questions that needed an answer. But I have put my trust in Genesis’ hands and I trusted Vincent to. The problem was…Jenova; she wasn’t patient at all.

We decided to spend the day in the city until the evening; Vincent was due to come around only after dark. Genesis took me around in places I have never been before; though the city has changed a lot, there were corners that still held the memory of the legendary days of SOLDIER. And…LOVELESS was still playing. The mysterious, beautiful poem and story survived all. Though Genesis wasn’t quoting it like he once did…to the despair of his friends, I knew he loved it. He had some beautiful editions in his library. I could recall some peaceful moments at Banora when his amazing blue eyes clouded and his mind drifted along the verses he recited in his pleasant, chanting voice. Those were moments of pure bliss…

We returned just in time to wait for Vincent. He arrived while the darkness was slowly enveloping the city.  He was moderately optimistic: Reeve has agreed to meet us the next day at his office, late in the afternoon when he could be alone.

-It was a bit of a shock for him what I said about your findings. People were comfortable on thinking this problem has ended for good twenty years ago. But you’re the best proof that this is just a dangerous illusion. Orion, you mustn’t have great expectation about ordinary/or even extraordinary people. They all tend to turn away from tricky things in their lives and pretend that those aren’t there. If you try too hard to open their eyes they would rather take you down than listen to you. So don’t get too emotional; use your head first.

Vincent looked at me for a moment, searching for an answer.

-I know and I’m sorry if I’ve lost control the other day-I said. I didn’t expect that Jenova would come out so powerfully on me. She turned me upside –down a bit. But this won’t happen again; I’m not going to let her win another hand. Thank you for the warnings; I assure you I’d take them seriously.

-Well then, it seems that we settled this down. Good luck, Commander. Good luck, Orion. We’ll meet tomorrow at Reeve’s; I’ll wait for you there.

Vincent left soon so Genesis and I, we ran over all the data we had for the meeting once again. We went to bed early to catch some sleep; the previous night has drained both of us.

But things never come up as expected; despite my best efforts, I was unable to fall asleep. I felt nervous and couldn’t find my place in bed. I stood up and walked out, went to the kitchen to find some cold drink in the fridge…Genesis was already there, tired and morose, holding a frosty glass. I chuckled as I saw his face; we both looked miserably unhappy and sleepless.

-Uhm…not too sleepy, aren’t you?-I asked cautiously. I didn’t want to stir up the angry dragon from inside the Crimson Commander.

He looked at me, wondering if he should answer me or kick me. He decided that I’m dumb enough so he laughed and made room for another chair next to him for me. I took my own frosty juice and sat. The night breeze cooled us pleasantly and the few visible stars were trembling in the misty skies of the big City.

-Genesis…I’m…nervous and confused…I feel like I’m opening a door to a dark and unknown space. I’m a little bit lost in your world; I mean in the world of the former SOLDIER, Turks and Shin-Ra. I can feel your mistrust over Vincent; I can feel his hidden fear that you might be still prone to insanity because of the Jenova Cells. I…trust both of you but I know nothing about that guy we’re going to meet tomorrow. It’s a total mess…The worst of it is that I’m scared that I might blow everything. What if I fail?

Suddenly, I felt exhausted; my worst fears were finally out…What would Genesis say?

 

 

Chapter 10. Reeve Tuesti

 

Genesis sat in silence, watching the young man bursting out with his anxieties and hidden fears. He had his own share of such unhappy thoughts and sensations. Of course he was mistrusting a former Turk; it was almost in their genes as SOLDIER. The Turks were Shin-Ra dogs, hired assassins and secret police. Though Valentine had been also a victim of that wretched Hojo…

Shin-Ra had turned their world upside-down for selfish reasons. Genesis thought about Reeve Tuesti…The scientist whom he didn’t know on a personal basis, should have been in his late forties-early fifties. Genesis himself was totally out of his own real time at 35 as he was at this moment. The worst of them was Vincent who was the eldest; his real age was way over sixty yet he was stuck in the same early thirties…though his life experience and tiredness told a whole different story. And above all it was this disturbingly good looking and trustful youth, who inherited all the astonishing features of his father, Sephiroth, less the Jenova cells.

What was he to become? What was he carrying unknowingly? Genesis knew that they were inexorably attracted by each other but he was scared by the fact that in long term they might get older in a very different rhythm. He didn’t want to make Orion unhappy and he couldn’t face loosing him… Genesis loathed Shin-Ra for all the mess they’ve made of people’s life; he didn’t trust any of them.

Even Rufus Shin-Ra whom he remembered as a cheeky teenager, should have been older than Genesis by now…It was madness, a real nightmare. Genesis shook his head to clear his mind from all these thoughts. For now he had to focus on their goal and he had to support Orion as much as he could. He sighed and turned towards the young man.

-Stop worrying, kid. We’ll figure it out somehow. You’re crazy enough to succeed and I am as sane as I want to be. Come, let’s go to sleep.

He stood up, took Orion by hand and took him to his room. He ordered him in bed and hopped next to him. He ruffled the silver strands and Orion soon fell asleep. Genesis watched his sleep until he also fell into the world of dreams.

Reeve Tuesti watched with great interest the two men. The young one was almost mirroring the Legendary General of the SOLDIER; yet he felt milder and much more a civilian than a trained military. The older guy, who looked younger than Reeve was a real SOLDIER and the surname of Crimson Commander was not due only to his flaming copper hair or his red leather coat. He had a powerful aura that talked about a well restrained but very consistent, dangerous, volatile temper. He was the last top SOLDIER alive and there were rumors about the fact that he was a protégé of the Goddess Minerva. He had striking azure-blue eyes and a piercing look.

Reeve shook hands with both of them and invited them to sit around the large table from the Scientific Council Room. Vincent was already seated. The two men debriefed Reeve about their story and the scientist listened carefully. He knew these guys were not some babbling fools; Jenova was alive and active. The whole world was in danger. For hours the discussions went over problems and solutions. Reeve was impressed by the younger man’s troubling experience about his father’s torments under Jenova’s grip. He felt the anguish of the young heart over the fate of his unknown yet deeply missed parent. It was an odd situation; Sephiroth was feared and loathed by the humans yet Orion’s wish to free him and to meet him felt equally legitimate. Reeve’s mind worked feverishly to find a way to reconcile these two opposite visions about the same person.

They all agreed that they would meet soon again to see what Reeve could do. Until then Vincent promised to find a way to bring them together with Rufus. Despite what the world knew about him, Rufus was cashing the money for the rebuilding of the crumbled civilization. He was holding the strings of power but this time he was threading carefully. People were on the edge remembering Shin-Ra. As an ex-Turk Vincent could more easily approach him; and Rufus knew about the way Vincent helped them defeat Sephiroth last time. So, in way he was indebted to him. Though Vincent was still reluctant about getting Sephiroth free, he knew that the discussion about it couldn’t be avoided. The key to the problem was how much Orion could persuade the others to help him in this particular quest. And above all, it looked like Seph and Jenova were coming in one pack.

Vincent was preoccupied by Cloud to. The former Savior of the Planet was in his early forties; he had finally settled down, successfully raised two orphans and was happily married with Tifa. Cloud still had nightmares from time to time but he was also confident that his ordeal was finally over. It wasn’t fair to drag him back in this, yet he couldn’t be avoided. And Aerith wasn’t around anymore; she and Zack were at peace in a land that was beyond hurt. The humans were on their own in this final battle. Vincent growled in frustration but he had to admit that there was a good chance to end this recurring nightmare that was Jenova and maybe Orion was the unexpected…hero that would save this world once for all.  Shin-Ra’s reign was just a page of history and nothing more. Vincent flipped a coin: well, his first visit was due to Rufus. That left at least another happy day for Cloud…

 

We left Reeve Tuesti after a very long and dense talk; he looked genuinely interested in what we had to say and in the solutions we proposed. He proved to be a pleasant and sharp minded guy, with no hidden thoughts. A real scientist, he was focused and surprisingly empathic.

It looks like there’s a good chance that the Sister Ray could be modified and used to encircle Jenova in the Lifestream. But we need a starship to capture her inside and take her out of the Planet’s life system. Probably we should carry her close enough to our Sun to send her into the star. It would be a risky business but letting her hide indefinitely in the Lifestream means a lot more trouble. Reeve said that the late Shin-Ra had a starship that was almost fully operable but only Rufus knows where that ship is and what are its capabilities.

Genesis agreed on the schedule and we turned home to have a rest and think over the possible argument with Rufus Shin-Ra. It wasn’t like Genesis to sit and keep silent but this time it was my task to confront Rufus and his allies and make them understand what I was asking for and the reason why they should help me. Meeting Rufus and winning the argument was the turning point of our quest. So both Genesis and me, we ended up nervous and restless the following days. On the top of it, the more anxious I felt, the closer I felt Jenova’s presence. It was like she could sense my weakness and tried to get a grip on me even before I could confront her. I never complained or talked about this, not even to Genesis.

He had his own inner fights; I could clearly see that he was troubled and uneasy. He needed some space and his moments of silent reflection so I kept a low profile. I used to leave him sitting in the balcony with a glass of drink at his side, eyes lost somewhere in the distance, his mind drifting into unknown. I went out to refill the fridge and to stroll aimlessly, just to clear my own mind. It wasn’t easy for me to sit aside with Genesis around; I became used to our endless conversations. I missed his insights on problems I knew only from other’s recount. All I knew was my determination to win the argument because I knew I was right.

Days passed by like this, with almost no talk at all except for a few necessary sentences. My only comfort was that we shared the same bed at night so I didn’t feel so lost and lonely and Jenova couldn’t reach me in the world of dreams anymore. Then Vincent called and said that Rufus has finally decided to meet us; he also said that Cloud Strife would be there to. I sighed as my heart sank; the final countdown has begun…

 

Genesis watched him from the corner of his eyes; Orion sighed and his face turned serious. From now on there was no return; it was only a chain of battles to be won and the outcome was still blurry.

-I’m sorry, kid for being such a morose old man these days. I’ve tried over and over again to find an easier way out from this; I’m worried about meeting with Rufus because he’s a cunning bastard and he has already called for Cloud Strife’s assistance. It won’t be an easy task to win an argument with them and I have a feeling that he’ll use some dirty tricks via the Turks. Fortunately, Vincent is no fool and he’s mainly on your side, despite all his unspoken doubts. Ask me anything you think it would be helpful…

Orion smiled.

-Maybe a little bit of silence was welcome for both of us; I think I’ll have my share of talking tomorrow. But I hoped we could revise together some of my mom’s notices about the SOLDIER and the entire Shin-Ra business. I’m sure we can find something Rufus wouldn’t like to hear…

Genesis watched him with real admiration.

-I see that you’re a fast learner…Hmph! Let’s beat the enemy with his own weapons!

Orion brought out Caitlin’s files and they both sat and talked for hours over them. The night caught them arguing excitedly about different issues. When they finally went to sleep, they fell into the Land of Nod effortlessly.

 

Chapter 11. Confronting the Shin-Ra

 

The steel-blue eyes were scrutinizing the empty square from the large window of the eleventh floor office. He was a handsome man in his early fifties, well built/ maybe a little overweight. His golden-blond hair was shortly cropped on the neck. He was wearing an expensive navy-blue suit and he looked like a real VIP.

In fact he was one; Rufus Shin-Ra was waiting for his visitors. He noticed somebody approaching the building. It was a young man with spiky blond hair and a brisk walk. He wasn’t the skinny boy anymore but he has kept his sporty allure. In a few moments Cloud Strife was entering the room where Rufus was waiting. He looked around intently and asked:

-Just the two of us?

-Yes-answered Rufus-They are about to come soon. We can see them from here.

Cloud shook his head slightly.

-I can’t believe this is actually happening. After twenty years of peace I thought we have escaped from Jenova’s malicious grip. We’re not the same anymore; I’ve lost my grip on the battle. Family life made me complacent…

Rufus grumbled.

-You’re not the only one; I hate to be pushed around by people or to be taken by surprise by such events. But before we take any decision we should listen to them. Hmph…Look, Cloud! They’re here.

Cloud approached the window and looked down at the square; the sports car halted on the spot and two men emerged from it. The driver was unmistakable; Crimson Commander Genesis Rhapsodos was a fully equipped SOLDIER One. He was wearing not only his long red leather coat but he had also the Crimson Rapier, his legendary sword. From this height it looked like Genesis has not changed a bit.

The young man accompanying him was slightly taller and he was wearing asbestos-grey suit and an open-neck white shirt. He was slender and gracious; his middle-length silver hair was tied in a pony tail. He was handsome just like his legendary father but he looked milder. Cloud felt a chill running down his spine but he knew this was not Sephiroth.

-Good looking guy, isn’t it?-smirked Rufus. Don’t worry, Cloud, I’ve made some checking on him; he bears his father’s resemblance but he is entirely human. Though you can’t be entirely sure when it comes about Sephiroth…

-I can vouch for him-came a deep voice from behind them. Orion is a straightforward guy and his friendship with Genesis has not damaged his character.

Rufus and Cloud turned to greet Vincent Valentine.

-We trust your judgment that’s why this meeting is taking place-said Rufus.

-I just hope you’re right-sighed Cloud. I won’t let anybody to mess with this world anymore!

-I see that Commander Rhapsodos comes fully equipped-commented Vincent. It looks like he doesn’t trust you, Rufus.

-I wouldn’t trust myself either-smirked Rufus Shin-Ra. He has no reason to trust me; for the former Shin-Ra he’s still a SOLDIER run AWOL!

There was a knock on the door and the two awaited men entered the room. The three others instantly turned towards them, each with a different reaction. Vincent silently nodded; Rufus eyes narrowed with hungry anticipation, trying to asses the couple but mainly the very young Sephiroth sibling. Cloud shuddered unwillingly as he faced the ever haunting features but he quickly calmed as Orion didn’t feel so overwhelming. Rufus invited them to sit around the table and the talking started. Genesis debriefed Rufus and Cloud about their findings and the results of the talking with Reeve Tuesti.

-So-said Rufus slowly, like pondering each word-you say that you need a space-ship to remove both Jenova and Sephiroth from the Lifestream, once Reeve can corner them successfully. It sounds like a risky business; I don’t know if you can succeed or even if you can be trusted with this.

Genesis face reddened and a dangerous light was building up in the piercing azure eyes.

-Goddess,Rufus!-he shouted angrily. You really think there’s anyone to fighjt Sephiroth if he’s sent back by Jenova?It’s been more than twenty years ago! Look at Cloud; he’s finally settled and he deserves a life of his own!

Cloud stirred uncomfortably in his seat.

-You might be right-said Rufus undisturbed by the sudden burst of anger. I still believe that the techniques we’ve developed since that would allow us to win against whoever might come. After all even Geostigma has been finally cured.

-But not by you! You know that Jenova would never quit the Lifestream on her own will. And all she can do is to concoct another way to use Sephiroth as a vessel to her murderous instincts.

-I’m fully aware of that but every conflict has its casualties-smirked Rufus as he secretly enjoyed Genesis’ torment.

-I see…said Genesis and laid back on his chair, taking a deep breath to calm down. You’ve never changed; from the spoiled brat you’ve once were, you turned into a Shin-Ra bastard, ready to sacrifice everything and everybody except his own money and power…

There was a moment of frozen silence; then Orion jumped from his seat and shouted:

-Enough!!! I didn’t come here to listen to this crap and I won’t let Jenova to slaughter my father on and on. I hold Shin-Ra directly and willfully responsible for what Sephiroth has become!

-Young man, you’re part of that abomination; you can’t seriously expect people to trust you and risk their safety by giving up such an important weapon as a spaceship-replied Rufus, watching Orion with growing interest.

The air in the room filled with sudden electicity; there was an unexpected flow of powerful aura coming from the young man that took everybody by surprise. The calm and collected Orion seemed taller and stronger than before. Genesis chuckled inside; the kid was really impressive…

-Don’t lecture me,Rufus. You’re not entitled to do it. Not me. I have here all the necessary documents to show and prove the world the real face of evil. All your deeds and decisions, Shin-Ra executives are written down here.

From my early childhood I remember two names for EVIL: your father’s and that of the insane Hojo. They’ve created the perfect SOLDIERS to use them to gain more and more power for Shin-Ra and to preserve it at all cost. Then, when their former human toys started to fall apart due to the horrible, uncontrollable experiments they were subjected to, these two tried to discard them.

But SOLDIER weren’t machines to be simply taken apart and crush. Even in their madness they were still humans: they’ve realized they were doomed but they wanted to take down the rotten mechanism created by Shin-Ra.

You question my reliability and my good will but what good have you done to this planet or to the children of Gaia?

For a moment Rufus opened his mouth to say something but seeing the others’ face he decided to shut up, at least for the moment. The light-green eyes looked deep into the steel-blue ones.

-Am I not to be trusted because I’m the son of Sephiroth? You call him a monster?

Shin-Ra had unearthed Jenova and used her dangerous cells to create the perfect tools to rule the world. You have kept her remains hidden for further plans and you brought upon us the Remnants and the Geostigma. Jenova is in the Lifestream, holding your and her best asset in order to use him over and over again, whenever she can. You and her are almost the same: you’ve used Sephiroth without remorse. He died miserably three times; he died three useless deaths and he’s still a prisoner. He is held captive in your mindless game with Jenova and you call HIM a MONSTER?!!!

What are YOU, then?! I am the living legacy of his humanity and his short lived sanity! And I’m not talking now only about him! What have you done to Angeal Hewley?

He was the embodiment of honor and morality. You, Shin-Ra people pushed him into insanity and he committed suicide be cause he knew what his fate would soon be. He had already witnessed his dearest friend tormented and fallen into mindless rage. Genesis was bright, sparkling and hopeful when he enlisted SOLDIER. The three of them were the Legendary Trio; he was the first to fall into madness and strike back on Shin-Ra. Loosing his only two friends he ever had, the ones he trusted with his life was the last step towards self-destruction for my father. On the last moment he sent away my mother to protect her from you. He was now totally defenseless in front of Jenova and the hurtful truth about his own birth.

DRIVEN TO MADNESS<DEMONIZED<SLAUGHTERED-these are the turning points of his life. It’s all your work, Shin-Ra’s work!!! You did it to him, you did it to us!

Orion was deeply disturbed and angered. He kept pacing up and down as the others watched him silently. He stopped in front of the window, looking down and trying to calm down. Finally Rufus decided to speak.

-I can’t deny most of your sayings but these are just words. If you can’t prove them, you can’t expect to corner us into giving in to your demands.

Rufus’ voice was mainly a sneer; Orion turned brusquely and fixed him, his cheeks flushed by emotion.

-I’m no fool, Rufus Shin-Ra! The documents proving all of this are ready to go viral the moment you try to stop us in any way.

Rufus’ handsome face darkened.

-Little bastard…-he mumbled. So be it your way!-he added anger washing over him.

-Don’t try to trick me!-warned Orion, his voice getting a chilling edge. The dangerous spark flickering in the green eyes and the seriousness of that handsome face froze Rufus. For a moment Sephiroth’s image overlapped his son’s with deadly accuracy. The former President of Shin-Ra sighed and gave up:

-You can take it. Cloud, you have nothing against?

Cloud gave a short nod and turned to Orion.

-I have my own recollection about what the enlisting to SOLDIER meant to me. I still have my recurring nightmares of loosing my mind to Jenova’s grip. I understand that you’ve met her at least twice so you know what I am talking about.

Your kinship to Sephiroth might be your strongest but also your weakest point in this fight against her. Are you ready to give up on your father and cut off all ties if things turn out wrong in order to protect this world?

Orion stopped and took a seat facing Cloud.

-Mr.Strife-he said-you have all my respect and consideration for everything you did for this planet. Despite what happened between the two of you, I’m sure that even my father would admit that you’re a real hero. You went beyond your worst fears to protect your loved ones. In my own way I’m aiming to the same goal.

I must admit that I started this quest with the strong determination to be a victor. I still believe in our chances to win against Jenova but I’ll do my best to redeem my father. Vincent and Genesis are endorsing me and I’m sure they’d watch over me and stop me before anything tragic occurs. If you have doubts about my skills, you have to trust them…

Cloud looked to Vincent for a sign.

-I’ll be aboard the ship and I vouch for him-said the former Turk.

-Rufus? Cloud turned questioningly to the Shin-Ra descendant.

-It’s agreed. Let me know what else you need. I’ll call for Reeve to come; we’re running short on time.

The talking and planning prolonged way into the night. There were numerous and complicated things to discuss and set. Genesis watched his protégé with undisguised pride; Orion’ straightforwardness, determination and sincerity won the battle.

“ You can be proud, Seph! Your son is a man for real…”

ORION Chapter 1-5 First encounter/ The road to Hell

THIS IS A SEQUEL TO FINAL FANTASY7. I DON”T OWN ANYTHING,ALL CHARACTERS BELONG TO SQUARE ENIX….EXCEPT FOR ORION AND CAITLIN. THOSE 2CHARCTERS ARE BORN OUT OF MY IMAGINATION IN A HOPE TO REDEEM SEPHIROTH. I AM THANKFUL FOR THE OPPORTUNITY,SQUARE ENIX.

Chapter 1. First encounter

 

 

 

Hi! My name is Orion and for the beginning it’s all you should know about me. I’d like to show you some pages from my mother’s diary.

Her name was Caitlin O’Brian and she was a freelancer. She wrote several reports for various newspapers, mainly about the Wutai War. She was in her early twenties, a bold and adventurous girl. She came from a good family, graduated with A+ in high school but then she ran away to see the world and to prove herself. She took several jobs to pay for her needs but kept thorough notices about places and people she met. When she finally settled in Midgar, she had an extensive personal data-base that she could use for her articles.

Being a fresh, new voice determined but compassionated at the same time she quickly became a star. Yet, only her editor and a very few friends knew that the strong voice of O.Brian belonged actually to a young girl.

So when SOLDIER Director Lazard first met the now famous journalist he was in for a surprise. The young woman in front of his desk looked very much like a school girl in her casual clothes and with her short cropped reddish-brown hair, inquisitive brown eyes and full lips smiling at him. But the ID tag on her shirt stated undoubtedly:  C. O’Brian- journalist, Midgar News.

    “After the first shock, Director Lazard offered to show me around Shin-Ra headquarters. We left his office and crossed the courtyard towards the main building. The perimeter was buzzing with SOLDIERS and MPs. It was quite understandable as the conflict with the Wutai seemed to deepen with each day. We were heading towards the training rooms when somebody called from behind.

  -Are you going to join the training today, sir?

The voice was deep and pleasant. Lazard turned swiftly to greet the man.

-General ! Let me introduce you to our newly assigned war correspondent: O’Brian from The Midgar News.

I turned to face the Legendary SOLDIER. It was a brief moment of surprise for both of us . Sephiroth’s eyes flickered then he shook my hand in a professional manner.

-Nice to meet you, Miss…O’Brian.

As for me…well, I had to gather all my strength not to look thunderstruck. It was for the first time that I was face to face with him. For someone mainly known for his fighting and commanding skills, Sephiroth was stunningly beautiful.

  Towering at 1,90m above my 1,65m there stood a young man in his mid-twenties. From the oval of his face the most unbelievably light-green cat-like eyes looked at me intently. A thin nose and nicely curved lips completed his features. Long, thick silver strands fell around him like an eerie curtain. His body was well worked out but he looked slim and gracious in every aspect.

  I was mesmerized and only my long trained self control and instinct saved me from blushing like a teenager. Sephiroth greeted us curtly and returned to his everyday routine. I followed Lazard down the hall, my inner world turned upside down by this unexpected meeting.

 After a few steps, he turned to me smiling amusedly:

-That was quite a performance, Caitlin! You’ve managed to hold your gaze in front of the General, while most of the people-especially girls-tend to burst out in ecstatic cries, much to Sephiroth’ annoyance !

 “If only you’d known how much energy took me to perform this…”-I thought but all I managed to say was:

-Hmph…

  Anyway, Lazard seemed oblivious to my struggle. As for myself, I knew that this was just the beginning. Damn! I was falling in love…Hopelessly…

 

Though he’s never shown, Sephiroth was slightly taken aback by the encounter with the young journalist. And yes, he was surprised to find out that” the famous O.Brian” was in fact…a woman. A girl. Nobody would’ve guessed. The articles, highly popular among SOLDIER, were powerful and …manly.

Sephiroth tried to gather his first impressions about her. A young woman, likely his age with a boyish allure. Short, ruffled chestnut hair, an oval face, straight hose and smiling, full lips. Sporty clothes and black boots. Friendly and confident manner. A normal girl. Apparently.

There was something about her that caught his attention: her eyes. Big, dark brown that watched him intently. She held his gaze unblinkingly, smiling and Sephiroth could have sworn that there was some playful provocation in those glittering eyes.

“Hmph…” He decided to put aside the thoughts about Miss O’Brian and returned to his own problems. Where the Hell was Genesis?!

 

 

Chapter 2.Denial

 

 

      As you might know, Genesis didn’t return to SOLDIER, leaving behind two of his best friend deeply troubled. Though even at that time, Angeal Hewley, second in command after Sephiroth, knew something about what was troubling Genesis, he couldn’t share his thoughts with the General.

  Angeal was a man with high moral standards, a true man of honor and a loyal and caring friend. The ambitious and flamboyant Genesis was his childhood friend and he took very personally when the latter disappeared with a whole company of 3rd Class SOLDIERS . When he also went missing after a mission in Wutai, I was very disturbed. I liked Commander Hewley a lot. Though the official version was “killed in action” I knew at that very moment it wasn’t true.

  For days, the playful and energetic Zack Fair-Angeal’s pupil-looked like he’s lost his compass and I could sense a tension building up in Sephiroth to. He never talked about it, at least not to me but I could feel it whenever I was next to him.

Previously Lazard told me about the close friendship between the three Legendary SOLDIER and I had the opportunity to see at least the two of them interact.

 

Sephiroth shifted uneasily while Angeal kept talking to her. Uneasiness slowly turned into annoyance and restrained anger though it was difficult to explain why he felt that way. Everyone seemed to be at ease with Caitlin, except, of course, himself.

Relating to women wasn’t Sephiroth’ strong side and this particular one seemed to surface almost everywhere. Ok, it was her job and he had to admit that she was good at it; she had a sharp mind and an even sharper pen. Half turned away, he could sense her eyes fixing him from time to time. She was talking to Angeal but her focus seemed to be on Sephiroth.

-Angeal! We have to go!-grumbled the General trying to put an end to this irritating moment. Good day, Miss O’Brian.

He walked away briskly, dragging his friend with him. For a few moments they walked in silence until he heard Angeal chuckle.

-What’s the matter with you, Seph?

-What do you mean?- grumbled Sephiroth.

-Are you troubled by Miss O’Brian?

-Why should I?- came the swift answer. It’s just that she’s pestering all around…

-She’s a reporter; she needs to be nosy…sometimes. Besides, people seem to like her.

-I know, I know…Well, maybe this war and Genesis missing are finally getting to me…sighed Sephiroth.

Angeal’s face shadowed. “Genesis…”he murmured. He was distressed and he knew Sephiroth felt the same to. Yet he couldn’t notice that his friend somehow tended to snap in Caitlin’s proximity. Was he falling for her? Now that would be a real premiere…

“We’ll see…” he thought and he followed his friend with a grin on his face.

 

 

Chapter3. Hyde and …seek

 

 

 

I had a clear feeling that Sephiroth was avoiding me .Though he kept his usual polite and professional demeanor, I could sense him stiffening around me, his voice getting a sharper edge.

   I had my own share of misery, my cheeks flushing uncontrollably and choking on my words whenever he was around .Fortunately nobody seemed to notice our struggle or at least that’s how I thought at the time. It turned out later that Angeal was aware that something was happening and that we were driven to each other despite our best efforts to stay apart.

  At Shin-Ra headquarters there was never a dull moment and my activity stretched from dawn till late at night .My editor was happy; I kept him busy-the readers as well- with my seemingly endless correspondence of war. I tried to focus on the SOLDIER’s personality, trying to portray each of them with accuracy and empathy.

   As any war, this was a brutal and messy busyness. I was taken aback by the fact that many of the troopers were incredibly young, children dropping out of school, running away from home in search for fame and status…then facing the horror of killing and sufferance.

They were under a lot of stress for such a young age and training also proved to be shattering for some of them .Since SOLDIER was considered the Army Elite it wasn’t easy to get admittance.

  My young favorite was Zack Fair, Angeal’s protégée. By the time I met him, he has already made to SOLDIER 2nd Class. A handsome boy with sparkling blue eyes, he was friendly and easy going. For his restlessness Angeal affectionately called him “Zack-the-puppy” and took a great pride in training and educating him, watching over Zack just like an elder brother.

 Zack worshipped his mentor and did his best to fall in his steps. Angeal was a gifted trainer and easily related with the young soldiers and MPs. They admired him and, most of it, they liked him.

    As for Sephiroth, the story was slightly different .He was revered and feared at the same time. He was known to be the strongest and the deadliest of all SOLDIER. At 16 he has made already to General.

It’s not that he wasn’t a good example or a good teacher for his subordinates. In fact I don’t remember him ever loosing his temper during training sessions. He also proved to be a very good tactician and his rank as a General was fully earned. He was skillful, highly intelligent, incredibly powerful and efficient. He really was the TOP SOLDIER of Shin-Ra. No one could match him, not even his closest friends, Genesis and Angeal .Though he wasn’t vain, his personality powerfully radiated around him, warning everybody off. Except for a very few ones people kept a safe distance from him.

  I’ve spent a whole lot of time watching him, trying to figure out what lies beneath that cool appearance. One of those watchful moments ended up in a breakthrough in our relationship.

    The training room at Level 49 had a small, secret chamber above, well hidden in the building’s structure. I’ve learned about it from Angeal, who took me there once to watch the 2nds and3rds training undisturbed. He also handed me a key-card to have free access whenever I could find a spare moment.

   That particular day, the 2nds left the training room early. I was packing my notices when I heard the door bellow open and somebody entered the training room.I looked down: it was Sephiroth. He was alone.

  He scrutinized the place then with a swift movement, left his leather coat in a corner and unsheathed the Masamune. For a moment he seemed to ponder about changing the site but he dropped the idea.

  He started a series of complicated exercises with his katana and for almost two hours he moved around graciously and ceaselessly, with deadly accuracy. In the vast emptiness of the training room he looked like a silver flame, jumping, whirling, swiftly changing direction until my eyes filled with tears, unable to follow his pace. I watched him in wonder and while my neck stiffened with tension, he never seemed to lose breath or sweat.

   I was surprised to see how his knee-long silver hair never got in his way but created an eerie halo around his slender body. It was like an alien creature protecting his symbiotic pair. The air around …them filled with electricity, sparkling from time to time. Sephiroth ended his training session in a burst of light and energy that caught me by surprise. I jumped from my seat, tripping over it with much of noise.

  In a flash of a moment Sephiroth turned towards the source of noise, watching intently. His face, magnified by the polarized window was tense, the split pupils suddenly narrowing in search, the look in his eyes pinning me down even at that height.

 He turned abruptly and resumed his training. Picking up his coat, he brushed away a couple of loose strands from his face and left the room noiselessly.

    I finally caught my breath. God! What was in my head?!  Never in my short life have I violated somebody’s intimacy…I never intended to break into Sephiroth’s!  Yes, Angeal let me watch the soldiers training but this wasn’t the case. Sephiroth was their General!

    So…I must have looked miserable enough when the door cracked behind me and I found myself face to face with a very much annoyed Legendary SOLDIER!

 

Sephiroth WAS annoyed. He knew about the watching room but no one dared to sneak about him until now. Finding out the identity of that person only added to his frustration. Weren’t she a guest of Shin-Ra…

Anyway, he was about to set things right. This girl has reached his cracking point. So Sephiroth took the flight of stairs in a moment, brushing everybody aside and quickly opened the door. She turned to him with such a desperate and perplexed face that his anger evaporated in a moment and he chuckled.

-Lurking in the dark, Miss O’Brian?-asked him, the deep, pleasant voice tinted with irony.

Caitlin blushed and biting her lower lip, turned away. Tears of shame and frustration filled her eyes. She was speechless. Surprised, Sephiroth watched her, eyebrows arched in curiosity. He never thought that the cheeky and daring young girl can be so easily broken. “ Hmph…” In the silence that filled the room he walked to the window, looking down at the empty training room.

-You seem to have a lot of interest in my doings. Now, why would you do that?

There was no response. He turned towards her, genuine curiosity in his eyes. She sighed, trying to gather all her courage to face him.

-I’m sorry, I’m not proud of myself. I sincerely hope, General that you can forgive my indiscretion…It wasn’t meant to be.

She raised her head, looking straight into his eyes, trying to decipher the future of their relationship. Sephiroth was taken aback by the sudden flow of her emotions. Caitlin looked sincerely shattered and somehow he felt a sudden pang of guilt. After all he might have driven her into this by constantly and unexplainably avoiding any close encounter. He had to admit that Angeal was right and that he’s been running away from her. Unwillingly, she generated certain emotions inside him, ones that he didn’t know how to handle.

-General?-the soft voice seemed to call from far away.

Sephiroth shook his head and smiled briefly. She returned the smile, relaxing for the first time during the last half an hour.

-I might be the one to blame for all this. Let’s make a truce and please, call me Sephiroth.

-I’m Caitlin. Caitlin Saeki. O’Brian is my pen name.

-You’ve managed to fool us all-smirked Sephiroth and for a moment he wondered how easy conversation became.

They left the premises together.

Chapter4. Troubled waters

 

 

The time spent at Shin-Ra headquarters proved to be very useful in time. When I was assigned there I already had my doubts about their entire business but I kept them for myself. Even their SOLDIER project looked very close to unethical experiments on humans. The Mako showers used to enhance Soldier’s capabilities gave me the shivers. What was the long term effect of such a treatment? How did those men cope with their civilian life after retirement from SOLDIER?

   I soon realized that things weren’t going too well at Shin-Ra. Commander Genesis Rhapsodos disappeared along with the men assigned to him. Commander Angeal Hewley disappeared later without any warning. As a result Soldier 2nd Class Zack Fair was quickly promoted to SOLDIER 1st.After a short time SOLDIER Director Lazard vanished…in the thin air.

  These unfortunate events left Sephiroth and Zack deeply disturbed. Sephiroth never complained but I knew that he felt betrayed by his closest friends. They didn’t trust him enough to share their troubles with him. They’ve left behind many unanswered questions tormenting him and he was stuck with a deeply shaken young soldier who had lost his mentor. I did my best to ease their pain. I was there whenever any of them needed an open mind and open ears. Earning their trust was the best thing happening to me.

   The new responsibilities helped Zack to mature quickly and he managed well in every aspect. Angeal would’ve been proud of his pupil. The young man became a mentor himself for a young blond  MP, Cloud Strife.

  As for Sephiroth he was busy as ever and we found hard to get some free time to spend together. Even so those moments were unforgettable. In private, Sephiroth was a very different person from the cold and professional General of the Shin-Ra Army.

It took me a while to peel off the many protective layers to reach his inner self. I’ve learned to read his emotions and to communicate with him without too many words. What I found out about him is still troubling me and it hurts like it was yesterday.

    It happens very often that the public image created for a person resembles more to the advertising of a product. It lacks the human touch. It’s more like a “ make believe” than the real thing. Shin-Ra wanted a product labeled “Super Soldier” so they’ve created through media a powerful image about SOLDIER and mainly about General Sephiroth. Unfortunately for him, they treated and also thought about him as a product. Despite their/mainly prof.Hojo’s best efforts to erase any trace of human frailness from him, Sephiroth remained human. His human side was so well hidden that for a long time he wasn’t aware about it himself. From what I’ve learned during our private moments, it was the friendship with Genesis and Angeal that made the breakthrough. Now all the treasure of human emotions was there but the inexplicable loss of his friends left him shattered and somehow unbalanced.

I would have given my life to help him heal this wound; unfortunately time proved to be short and the blows kept on coming. So I kept close to him as much as I could, picking up the pieces, turning him back from despair whenever I could.

 

When Zack was forced to kill Angeal and inherited from him the Buster Sword, he was blown away for days. It was the gentle care and love of his girlfriend Aerith that helped him out from despair and put him back on track.

On the other side Sephiroth was tormented with pain and anger. The proof of Angeal’s death was a terrible blow for him and the fact that both his friends were showing signs of monstrous mutations enraged him. He was blaming prof.Hollander for his failed experiments and he blamed Shin-Ra for allowing it. Caitlin was devastated to; she kept a vivid memory of the proud yet gentle and honorable soldier. She’d liked the man and it seemed that he liked her to. She couldn’t accept that he might have turned into a monster: he was too strongly moral fur such a sharp turn.

This was the moment when even Sephiroth thought about leaving Shin-Ra. He was fed up and knew that if he wanted some answers, he had to free himself from his oath. This was a crucial moment and if only he would have made that step before the assignment in Niebelheim…

 

Chapter 5.The road to Hell

 

 

 

At5.30 in the morning it was cold and unfriendly all around. The air was thick and moist and clanged about us. Sephiroth was tensed, Zack was ruffled and sleepy and the two MPs looked lost. I sunk deeper in my coat and sighed. Sephiroth looked at me quiestioningly.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. It’s just a feeling…”

-Let’s go. We have a long road ahead.-he said loudly.

We hopped into the army car and our journey to the point of no return started. With 3 other people around there was no intimacy so we were mainly silent. Sephiroth kept on reading his papers about the troubles from the Niebelheim reactor, I was leafing through my notes and occasionally talking to Zack. I tried to lift his mood by asking about his girlfriend, the little flower girl. My intuition proved right and it was really entertaining to listen to his enthusiastic flow of words. Even Sephiroth looked up from his paper from time to time and smiled briefly. My teasing of Zack and his happy chatter eased the atmosphere in the car. Sephiroth relaxed and put his papers aside.

He wasn’t listening to us. His gaze was somewhere out, on the road. I could see some concern shadowing his jade-green eyes, a light stiffening of his jaw and an imperceptible twitch of his lips. He gave a small sigh and turned back and met my eyes.

“What’s wrong?” It was my turn to ask, silently.

“Nothing.” he shook his head with a small grin. ”It’s probably…just a feeling.”

 The car halted with a thud. We were in Niebelheim.

 

The small gathering descended in the middle of the sleepy little town. They headed to the local inn to stay for the night. To reach the reactor they needed an entire day and a good rest for the night. The huge dark mass of Mt.Niebel towering about the city looked very impressive. Sephiroth and Caitlin retired to their own rooms, leaving the younger ones to visit the city or their families. Caitlin unpacked her bag and took a shower to wash away the dust and fatigue of the long road. She was now sitting on the top of her bed, trying to assess her thoughts about the latest developments. It was particularly the short dialogue between Zack and Sephiroth that hung on her mind.

“-What about your parents?-asked Zack.

-My mothers name is Jenova. She died shortly after I was born. As for my father…-Sephiroth gave a short, bitter laugh and resumed his way.”

There was a look of confusion on Zack’s face hearing the name of Jenova but it lasted only for a moment. He saw the silent question in Caitlin’s eyes but he turned away abruptly. She knew from that moment that there was something deadly serious that made the easygoing young man sneak away from her.

This combined with the nagging feeling that something’s very wrong kept her mind tick alarmingly. She decided to try her luck with Sephiroth. She prepared two coffees and knocked on his door.

-Am I intruding? –she asked with a playful grin on her face.

He shook his head, motioning her in. He has just come out of the shower, his long silver hair dewed with water. Dressed in casual clothes, refreshed by the warmth of the water he looked much younger, almost a boy. Only his deep, pleasant voice and the confident moving indicated a young man.

-I thought you might like a coffee break…-she said tentatively.

-Sit. I think I’ve learned those papers by heart-he said, cupping the steaming mug.

Smells good. He looked up smiling and saw curiosity lingering in her eyes.

-There’s something in your mind…he started.

She shifted a little but decided to blurt it out.

-I never knew you were an orphan-she said and her voice trailed off a little.

-And I never knew more than that-he completed, sadness seeping in his voice.

Caitlin knew that Sephiroth’ childhood was spent in labs and training rooms but somehow it wasn’t so striking like now. She just understood that this was a deeply buried wound  in his heart and that his childhood yearning for the love of a mother never died, only sunk deeper and deeper, burning a hole in his soul.

-You never talk of your mother. Do you have one?-he asked, watching her with inquisitive eyes.

-Yes. I do. She’s a nice person. Both my parents are. It’s just that they don’t seem to understand my need for globetrotting. They expect me to settle down and get married-she said with a soft laughter.

-I wish I had a mother to nag me…-he sighed.

-I wish you had a mother…said Caitlin, swallowing the lump in her throat. She stood up abruptly and walked to the window. Passing by she put for a moment a hand on his shoulder. It was for the first time that she dared to touch him. He looked up, surprised but…decided to say nothing.

They talked on till the night muffled all the noises outside and a handful of stars spotted the small patch of sky behind Mt.Niebel’s ragged outline. They’ve heard the young soldiers stumbling into their rooms and they decided to part to.

Caitlin picked the empty coffee mugs and turned towards Sephiroth. They stood there for a moment motionlessly, gazing at each other, unable to speak out whatever was in their mind.

-Good night, Sephiroth.

-Good night, Caitlin.

 

I wasn’t able to sleep. An hour later I was staring at a sickly shinning yellow moon and I felt the headache slowly pressing my skull. In the room the air felt chokingly dense and I needed to break out. I stepped on the hall and I heard some small noise from Sephiroth’s room. He wasn’t sleeping either…I knocked on his door but there was no reply. I cracked the door, trying to figure out what was happening. Apparently Sephiroth was sleeping but it looked like he was having a nightmare.

Beads of perspiration were gathering on his forehead, trapping a few silver strands across his face. I brushed away a rebellious strand, wiping away the sweat. Feeling the touch of my fingers he moaned in his sleep:”Mother?!”

  There was so much pain in his voice that my heart fell to pieces. No one knew that this proud, courageous and very private man, a hero in the eyes of many had such a deep yearning for his unknown mother.

  Troubled by the intimacy of this moment and of the pain involved, I whispered his name:”Sephiroth”. He woke up instantly, gazing at me through the darkness. There was a flicker in the green, glowing Mako eyes, then their light softened. He watched me for a moment, then took my hand and pulled me down in the bed beside him. The rest was…bliss. The gates of his heart burst open and the turmoil of feelings swept us both…

  The rising sun caught us sitting silently side by side in the small veranda of his room. Sephiroth regained his composure: cool, calm and preoccupied.

-Promise me you’ll leave at once if I won’t be back tonight-he said in a strained voice.

 I shook my head unable to say a word.

-Listen to me. Please. You’re in danger here. Shin-Ra is bad news for anyone who knows too much about them.

  He grabbed my shoulders and turned me towards him.

-Promise.

 I looked up in his beautiful eyes. He was deadly serious. Reluctantly I agreed. We held hands for a moment and then he gently whispered:

-You should leave now. Zack would be here in any moment. We have to go. It’s time to begin mission.

Nine month later Orion was born. I named him after the brightest star in the sky. He was a beautiful baby-boy, the living image of his father who was declared “killed in mission”. He was the precious legacy of the man I LOVED, a wonderful man who during his short and tragic life was so many times MISTREATED and MISUNDERSTOOD.”

     So this was some of my mom’s diary. And I’m that Orion. I’m 25 and now it’s time to take care about my legacy. I have to find my father. I have to find Sephiroth.

 

The Lost Butterfly Chapter 5. Epilogue

The future has an odd sense of humor

LJ started the day with a minor headache; the previous day has been an overcrowded one with all kind of meetings and an endless pile of paperwork towering on his desk. Though he liked his work and the occurring responsibilities, he longed for more free time. As a bachelor he has allowed work to invade his personal time. Now it was hard to get it back.

But having a pool all for him in the basement of his house, he could enjoy his favorite sport: swimming. The place was comfortable, air conditioned and pleasantly lit. It was a quiet and undisturbed space that belonged only to him. So he started the day descending in this peaceful spot; he immersed in the cool liquid and swam up and down the length of the pool until the pressure in his skull subsided.

Now that hid mind has cleared, he came out and leaned on a couch trying to gather his thoughts for the challenges of the new day. Something was bothering him. At the age of 30 LJ was a handsome guy, clever and well placed, an eligible bachelor, courted by many ladies.

He was tall (1.9m), athletic with a pleasant, manly face, slightly exotic due to his native ancestors. The high cheekbones gave an interesting shape to the dark-brown eyes. He had a straight nose and nice, full lips. His skin was light-amber and his thick black hair was cropped short above his neck. By the whole he gave the impression of a powerful, big cat something like a mountain lion.

His co-workers liked him because he was reliable and dedicated. He had a well developed sense of humor but he wasn’t joking about his tasks. The one who seemed to give him headaches in the future was the new guy employed at the Art department.

It looked that he was quite blasé, totally unimpressed by those working beside him. He seemed to live in a world of his own; he was polite but out of reach except for a limited amount of sentences. They haven’t met yet face to face. All that LJ knew about him came from his colleagues working with him.

“ Artists…”mumbled LJ and stood up. It was time to go to work. He dressed up and eat something; he then took his car and left for work.

He left his car in the parking lot and quickly headed to the elevator, his mind wandering. As the automatic door opened he almost bumped into a person has just arrived from the opposite side. He let him in, mumbling some apologies; the other guy nodded curtly but said nothing and turned his back on LJ. It looked that he wasn’t in a mood to socialize.

He was almost as tall as LJ /around1.8m/ slender with long limbs. The medium long rebellious black hair was tied in a short pony tail. As they stopped at their floor the silent guy took left and headed to the Art department. LJ watched him departing; so this was the odd new guy; he made a mental note and turned to his own headquarters.

After a brief look over the daily duties he called for Eric Rocha, his friend from the Art Department. They both took a cup of coffee and stood to talk about some new developments.

-By the way-said LJ casually. I think I just bumped into the new member of your crew. He wasn’t very talkative; all I could see from him was his back.

-Well, usually it’s the best you can get from him if it’s not about work-chuckled Eric. He’s not a bad guy; he’s just very private. He has already helped a lot with the art-work and the younger ones like him. But he hates small talk.

By the way, have you ever seen his works? No? Let me show you; he’s quite impressive.

Eric’s fingers flew over the keyboard and there were lots of art-works signed simply “FB”. LJ watched intently and he had to agree that the guy was talented. His works were powerful but filled with a sensitive mystery that was quite elusive. Oddly enough LJ had a familiar feeling looking at the works…

-You’re right-he said to Eric. But what made him to come and work for us? He was already famous as a freelancer.

-He said something about personal issues and that he needed a permanent job. On the other hand we needed a fresh view and a personality like him came at hand.

LJ turned his head thoughtfully.

-I hope that in time we’ll find a way to communicate. Until then we have to work.

They both laughed and returned to their offices. The days went on uneventful until LJ got himself buried under a load of urgent matters so he decided to stay at the office late. It was quiet around as the evening was setting on the city. The building looked deserted except for the caretakers and those cleaning the offices.

LJ stretched and turned off the computer, locked up his things and took his coat. He locked the office and headed to the elevator when he spotted a dim light coming from the Art Department. Surprised he turned back and headed there to see who else was still working at that hour.  The new guy was working on the computer, his back turned at the door. LJ hesitated for a moment but curiosity got the best of him. He knocked and stepped inside. The young man didn’t seem to notice; he was changing and twisting some images with the ease of a magician.

-Good evening-said LJ as he came closer. I thought I was alone on this floor…

-Creative work requires some intimacy-came the reply in a soft voice. I’m still adjusting to the work in a crowded office.

The young man kept working while he was talking; LJ couldn’t see much of his face. Some of the rebellious black strands were falling forward, hiding him from the viewer.

-I’m LJ White-said him hoping to capture the young man’s attention.

The latter gave a small nod and kept focusing on his work.

-I know. And you know me to. I’m FB, the new guy from the Art Dept.

Suddenly he raised his face and took LJ by surprise. The young man was stunningly beautiful. He was in his mid-twenties; there was a sweet softness lingering in the oval of his face, in the fine line of the jaw, in the fresh, nicely curved lips… But the straight nose had fine, nervous nostrils and above all, he had mesmerizing lavender eyes, underlined by thick, black eyelashes. Those eyes were clear but deep like the water of a glacier lake high in the mountains.

LJ saw a quick flicker in those eyes as they connected with his eyes but it died out almost instantly. LJ stared at the young man, unable to utter a sound until the latter turned pink under his gaze.

-I’d rather you don’t stare at me. I’m not some freak of Nature-he whispered and turned back to work.

Surprised and embarrassed LJ said a short “Sorry” and left in a hurry. He felt stupid…yet he captured a faint comment that lately kept nagging him:

“ Cocky as usual…watching but not seeing.”

At home he took a shower and then sat on the top of the bed, recounting all that happened. The beauty of that face took him by surprise but he found those eyes the most disturbing feature. He felt that there was some kind of expectation in their look that it faded into…disappointment. LJ felt angry, confused and discomforted.

What was that youth thinking? Was he testing him? How dared he?

 

But no matter how humiliating the previous night seemed, LJ woke with a restlessness pushing him to get to work early. Despite anger and frustration he wanted to meet again the young artist. As he was the first one to arrive he could watch the others coming one by one. He saw the small, two seated silver sports car stopping at the parking lot outside the building. The young man descended and locked the vehicle. He was dressed simply, casually with a white, Russian style shirt and blue jeans. He walked gracefully, his long, untied hair flowing around in the same rhythm.

LJ counted the moment he would arrive at their floor and he took a few steps towards the elevator. They met face to face and stood still, watching each-other in silence. The lavender eyes shone with a mysterious inner light.

-Good morning-said the young man. You’re early- he added with an amused smile and turned towards his office, leaving a speechless LJ behind. A sudden rush of air blew a scent of wildflowers in his direction and he staggered. That scent was stirring up memories that he couldn’t yet properly touch. He desperately tried to unlock that place where something was building up and pushing the surface. At that moment he couldn’t see the young man staring back at him, watching unhappily his struggle…His face turned blank as he entered the office.

From a shaded corner a clearly surprised Eric Rocha was watching the unfolding of the events. It looked that somehow his friend was in connection with this young artist but at the same time he looked uncertain.

Eric took two coffees and knocked at his friend’s office. LJ looked slightly confused and thoughtful.

-You look like you have seen a ghost-said Eric jokingly.

-I might have-murmured LJ. But I can’t remember him properly.

-You mean FB?

-Yes. How do you know?

-I’ve seen his face; he looked…pained and desperate as he watched you. He didn’t know I was there. Is he bothering you? Shall we get rid of him?

LJ shook his head.

-No, no…on the contrary. I need to know more about him. This nagging feeling that’s coming from inside is genuine. There’s more than meets the eyes and I want to know what lies beneath.

He was back to his old self.

-Now, let’s get back to work. We still have a great deal ahead and I’d like to finish the projects as soon as possible.

 

LJ was pleased with the way the projects worked out. He could not ignore the fact that FB proved to be a great addition to their team; he had skills and good instinct so things worked out excellently. Even the communication between them got better. The young artist became less monosyllabic and he was more at ease with LJ.

Since the projects were finished successfully they decided to throw an office party to ease the tension and fatigue built up during work. LJ talked FB into joining the party and give up his shyness.

-Why should I?-asked the young man looking at LJ thoughtfully.

-Because a great deal of the success is due to your work and talent and you deserve to be known for it.

-Is that all?-came the following question.

-No. I would like you to be there. It’s… a personal request.

LJ reddened as he finished the request.

-Ok then-said the young man in a soft voice. I’ll come; I promise.

 

 

The two shapes of light watched them attentively.

-Do you think he’ll manage this time?-asked the taller.

-I hope so; he’s very much involved. I’m a little bit worried; he looks so desperate sometimes…

-He’ll be fine, you’ll see-said the taller.

-He’s so fragile-murmured the shorter one. He’s our special Child; I don’t like to watch his sufferance.

-I know, I know…but we didn’t expect this…

 

 

They all met at a small restaurant with a pleasant garden running down to a grassy meadow and a thick spot of forest. The place was lovely and had a familiar atmosphere. The music was good and the mainly young team greatly enjoyed every moment of the party. LJ scanned the happy crowd looking for FB. He was already there, talking with some girls; though he was very simply dressed, he stood out from the others. He was wearing a white T-shirt decorated with an intricate pattern and he wore a silver wrist-band on each wrist. He wore jeans and his hair was tied up as usual but one or two strands fell on his face.

He was slightly smiling while the girls were giggling around him. LJ watched him in amazement; the young man proved to be a pleasant company; only on certain occasions something made him withdrawn.

LJ made the tour of the party, talking and enjoying his colleagues’ company but he kept a constant watch on the young artist. The latter seemed oblivious about the watch; he had acknowledged LJ by the flicker in his lavender eyes and a short smile. The party went on and the afternoon turned almost too warm. Luckily the garden had many shaded, cool spots and narrow alleys where you could relax. LJ approached the young artist and invited him to find a quiet place to talk. They walked until they got near a wide, old tree and they sat on the ground, leaning against the rugged trunk. LJ lead the conversation and his companion listened with a slightly amused smile on his face. He rarely commented but this time he seemed to enjoy LJ’s company. LJ turned to him from time to time, watching the delicate profile and wondering why was he feeling so comfortable sitting here with this unusual young man.

There was an inner sense telling him that they shared a connection deeper and older that those days and weeks at the office. He had recalled many times the whispered words about his lack of ability to really see what was in front of him. LJ was determined to find out this time what was buried deep down in his memory. He also had to admit that the proximity of the young man made him restless. LJ stopped talking and gazed at him; the young man returned his gaze. His beautiful eyes were thoughtful and he turned serious. LJ felt as warmth built up inside him and he stood up while his companion followed him. They looked at each other silently then LJ closed one arm around his waist, pushed him with his back against the tree and kissed him. He felt the slender body stiffening but then giving in to him. The bittersweet, fresh scent of wildflowers surrounded them stirring up memories.  A shining expanse of water and long, thick grass passed in front of his eyes…a lovely face looking back at him, eyes filled with tears and sadness…LJ’s vision blurred. He held the young man closer and buried his face into the warm hollow of the neck; he felt his breath quickening and he moaned as LJ kissed his neck…He tried to free himself from the grip; LJ grabbed his wrists and one of the silver bands fell to the ground. LJ felt under his palm the twitching pulse and the long, thin scar crossing the wrist. Shocked by the finding he released the hand while his mind was overwhelmed by strong images; there was a sudden pain in his chest as he helplessly watched the blood dripping into a bath tub filled with water… He grabbed the young man’s shoulders and asked in a coarse voice:

-Is this something I have caused to you?! Tell me!!!!

The young man freed himself and turned away from him.

-It’s no use…he whispered in a desperate tone. Leave me, please…We’ll end up hurt, both of us!

-No! I won’t!-LJ shouted. I want to know what is this all about!

-It’s no use!

The young artist pushed him aside and ran down the faraway meadow; LJ fled after him angry but puzzled. His mind was ticking feverishly and he was taken aback by the turmoil of feelings and fragmented memories surfacing from the cracks of his mind. He realized that this wasn’t the only time in his life when he had chased this elusive young man. His image was carved deep inside his soul and it was bitter-sweet. LJ ran and took off his shirt; it was getting hot in this pursuit. FB was light as a feather and was running at top speed trying to escape from LJ. But the older man was strong and well trained and after a while he got the younger man, grabbing his T-shirt in his attempt to stop him.

The fabric of the shirt tore up revealing a colorful tattoo on the young artist’s shoulder; it was a beautiful butterfly that looked almost alive. Suddenly everything in LJ’s mind fell into place: the elusive butterfly, the mesmerizing amethyst eyes, the scent of wildflowers, all the pain and the passion…He barely heard the young man’s plea: ”Leave me, please…just let me go…”

He grabbed him and shook him:

-Stop! Stop it!-he shouted. FUYUKI!!! How many times are you going to run away from me?!

Fuyuki fell into his arms shaking and panting; tears were running down his face and he was unable to utter a sound for long minutes. Little John held him gently and caressed him to ease the shock; his whole life changed its perspective. By some strange twist of fate he was holding the forbidden and lost love of his previous life. He wasn’t about to question that; all he wanted for now was to keep him and never let go. As Fuyuki calmed down he took him round the shoulders and they sat on a shaded spot near the small forest.

-Fuyuki…asked LJ in a soft voice. Is this a dream or is it for real?

-It’s for real-whispered Fuyuki. You wished for it and so…did I; besides I made a promise. So here we are…

Little John buried his face in his hair and inhaled deeply the familiar scent. He squeezed him lovingly while Fuyuki folded in his arms.

-What about Yoshiasu?-he asked casually.

-He’s not here in this cycle. It’s only you and me.

-You’re younger-said Little John watching him closely.

-I had to wait a little until you get wiser and less cocky-chuckled Fuyuki. You’re still overconfident sometimes. I thought you’d never remember me…

-But I fell in love with you anyway. I’m sorry if I made you worry but why didn’t you tell me?

-It doesn’t work like that-said Fuyuki. Anyway, you wouldn’t have believed me; I had to annoy you a little to get you into act.

He laughed softly; Little John bent and kissed him.

-Would you move with me, Fuyuki?-he asked. Like…today?

-Don’t be afraid, I won’t fade away-smiled the young artist.

-You’re a gift of the gods so I won’t take any unnecessary risks. Anyway, I owe you a new shirt-chuckled Little John. Let’s go back; the others might be looking for us. I’ll ask Eric to help me out with your T-shirt.

They stood up and slowly walked back to the party. Little John found his shirt and dressed up; he called Eric and asked him to find something for Fuyuki and bring it to them. Eric was slightly taken aback by the strange request but he has seen them leaving together more than an hour ago. Finally he managed to get a proper shirt for the slim young man; he descended in the garden, looking for his friend and the young artist. He saw them coming; LJ was holding FB by the shoulders and they looked very happy together. It was a surprising development even for Eric Rocha; the two young men were radiant and for the first time the young artist’s unexpected beauty became evident. Their ease together spoke about a long and deep relationship…As they got closer LJ smiled and his companion blushed; he was half naked and he had a wonderful butterfly tattoo on his left shoulder. Eric quickly remembered a photo taken by a magazine from a young artist called “The Lost Butterfly”. He was almost sure that the young man in front of him was the same man; he handed on the shirt and turned to LJ while the other man dressed up.

-I knew there were some difficulties between the two of you but I didn’t expect to turn out so stormy-he chuckled. I see that you made amends and that apologies were accepted-he said to LJ.

Little John smirked.

-All for the best-he said. At least my memory has returned and it wasn’t empty handed. Fuyuki and I were high school sweethearts but we’ve lost track of each other; even then I had caused him a lot of pain but it seems that the good days were more important to him so he searched for me until we finally met.

Eric looked at him somehow incredulously but decided to accept the story delivered by his friend, at least for now. They all turned back inside where the party was still on; there were some surprised looks as people realized the intimacy of the relationship between LJ and their new colleague. There was a new light coming from inside in both young men and the young artist looked stunningly beautiful and relaxed. Soon everybody returned to the music, drink and chatter and the evening went on without any more disturbances.

Little John and Fuyuki drove together to LJ’s house. They had already taken some of Fuyuki’s personal things from his place. As the night fell over the city, they stood side by side under the stars, enjoying each other’s company. Fuyuki leaned against Little John; he untied the young man’s pony tail and ran his fingers through the silky black strands. He bent over the beautiful face and kissed his love until he melted in his arms. He then carried him in his arms into the bedroom; he placed him on the bed and sat beside him, running his fingers slowly and gently across that delicate face. Fuyuki blushed and turned, his breath speeding up.

-Please-said Little John. Stay; don’t turn away. I never had the chance to watch you closely as much as I wanted. Don’t get shy; you’re so beautiful…

He ran his fingers over the soft lips and then over the fine line of the jaw, running down to the warm hollow of the neck. Fuyuki moaned and shivered under the touch.

-First time I saw you Old John warned me: Don’t stare! He’s already taken! I wondered even then: Why?! Why are you there?! Why are you so fuckin’ beautiful and friendly?!

Why are you already taken?! Why was that happening to me?!

Little John’s hand brushed gently over the chest and over the sensitive nipples. Fuyuki closed his eyes as his breath hitched. He turned towards Little John and braced himself against him raising his body to meet him. Little John rolled atop and kissed him deeply and whispered into his ears:

-You are pure beauty and joy and I love you…Don’t leave me anymore!

Fuyuki cried out as he felt him inside and they made love passionately, over and over again as they did last time when they were together. Just that this time they belonged to each other so they gave in uninhibitedly.

Taken up by the maelstrom of feelings and emotions Little John mentally thanked the gods who allowed him to live this magic, to love and being loved by Fuyuki.

 

They woke up holding each other; Little John was pleased to see happiness sparkling in the lavender eyes. They descended to the basement and both enjoyed the morning swimming. After a short breakfast they left for work together, in Little John’s car. Fuyuki took farewell from the Art Team but offered them his help and inviting them to call whenever they needed. He shook hands with Eric Rocha:

-I hope I haven’t created too many problems to you. Please, excuse my previous behavior; it wasn’t meant to you…I really enjoyed working with your team-he said.

Eric laughed pleasantly.

-I’m accustomed to artists’ oddities; you’re a mild case! We will miss you and your skills. By the way, may I know your real name?

-I’m Fuyuki Tanaka and yes, I’m the Butterfly Artist. I’m working on my next exhibition and all of you are invited. And as I’ve already told everyone…my house is your house.

They’ve parted in good terms; Fuyuki returned to Little John and they agreed to meet at lunch time. Little John watched him walking away; life with Fuyuki wouldn’t be a quiet, dull one, he knew it well from their previous existence. But he was madly in love with him and he knew that this time Fuyuki belonged body and soul only to him. A gift from the gods…

 

 

 

Fuyuki woke up in the middle of the night and sit up in bed. The room was dimly lit by the fool moon peeking through the windows.

The young man looked at his sleeping lover. Little John slept peacefully breathing slowly; Fuyuki smiled, his companion was quite handsome. He looked content and his manly features softened as he relaxed in his dream. The slightly pouting full lips reminded Fuyuki of the cocky young native he once knew. Now that young man was a more responsible adult and a proud man in his early thirties. The roles were reversed; Fuyuki was five years younger, with more delicate features but with the same passionate heart.

He sat in the half-lit room deeply immersed in thoughts. It looked like he was connecting with somebody on a mind-level. As minutes passed by his concentration deepened and his breath sped up. He was slightly trembling but stood still and continued the effort. The air around filled with electricity and two dim silhouettes emerged from the darkness. Their contour was underlined by a shade of phosphorescent light. Each of them sat on a chair looking silently to Fuyuki. The young man raised his eyes and fixed them.

-So…he whispered. You came.

-You have called us, Child- answered one of them in deep baritone.

-Aren’t you happy now?-asked the other one with a lighter voice.

Fuyuki sighed and bit his lower lip.

-Happy…What do YOU know about happiness? Or…do you care?

-You are with him now-said the baritone. Wasn’t that your deepest wish?

-Yes-said Fuyuki and his voice sank. Yes, I wanted to be with him because I was and I am in love and I missed him. I missed the love that never had a chance to become reality because at that time it wasn’t meant to be.

Yes, I am happy with him now; but each day of happiness brings with it another day of deep despair in the future. The more I love him, the more I’ll suffer when we’ll have to part. Then you’ll ask me to choose one of them for the next cycle and you’ll sit there watching the new story unfold.

-What’s wrong with it?-asked tenor. Don’t you love them both? You seem to be equally happy with both of them…

-What’s wrong?!!!-Fuyuki stood up and came near them. He stopped in front of the shapes. Everything is wrong! What am I to YOU?! A toy?  A gadget?  A pet? An object of experiment? I am less than your damned ship….

He braced himself for a moment then burst out passionately:

-I am YOUR Child! You let me be born and raised as a human. I am a human! I have a heart, I have feelings! I love and I hurt! YOU know nothing of it! You see only the outside but you haven’t experienced it from the inside!

Yes, I love both of them and that’s why I can’t choose between them! YOU…YOU are tearing me apart and you don’t even realize that! I don’t want to choose between them!

I want to DIE! And I want the two of you to live forever with the thought that you caused my death! I curse you for your stupid kindness that knows nothing and understands nothing! Now I know why people hate their gods! They understand nothing about the poor, unhappy creatures they’ve created…

Fuyuki fell on his knees crying desperately. The two shapes looked at each other in surprise. The baritone tried to say something but the tenor stopped him by raising a hand. He stood up and stopped next to the sobbing young man. He crouched and gently touched his shoulder.

-Child, don’t cry. I can’t say that I fully understand your reproaches but I realize the depth of your sorrow and despair. Maybe you’re right; we played a cruel game with you and you’re the one who lost.

Not knowing it doesn’t excuse us; we’ve failed you. This won’t happen again. Look at me please.

Fuyuki raised his face and looked into the shadow-face. The tenor cupped his face with both hands, gazing deeply into the lavender eyes shimmering with tears. He spoke softly.

-Relax, Child; your fight is over…

Fuyuki’s eyes shut and he fell asleep. The baritone helped the tenor to place him in bed.

-What are you going to do?-asked the baritone.

-I’ll relieve him from his burden and put an end to his torment. I have suppressed their previous memories. All they know are the present facts: that they are in love with each other. Let them fully enjoy the cycle…

-What about the future?-asked the baritone.

-I made the choice for him and he doesn’t have to find out anymore about that.

The baritone thought for a moment then he nodded.

-Whom have you chosen?

-You might find it surprising but I’ve chosen this young guy. He’s very passionate and quite untamed; I have a feeling that no matter what would we do, he would not give up on Fuyuki…

-So be it-said the baritone. He caressed the face of the sleeping young artist. You are a wonderful Child but you are quite a handful. These humans with their intense and contradictory feelings…I don’t think I’ll ever understand them properly.

He turned to the tenor.

-Let’s go-said the other. We have some reports to fill and we have a lot to explain…

They turned and slowly faded. A rush of cold air flew around the room and made Fuyuki stir in sleep. He cuddled in Little John’s arms; instinctively, his lover held him closer and they slept quietly till morning.

 

 

 

Little John sat on the edge of the bed watching silently the sleeping young man. His sleep was deadly deep; there wasn’t much hope that he’ll wake up again. He wasn’t sick or drugged or anything like this; he just didn’t want to wake up. He faded away inside him and shut the doors behind. There was only a thin channel of communication left but that was connected only to Little John.

The two silhouettes were sitting in this room just as they did before once upon a cycle, long time before. They were stunned by the young man’s resolve.

-Don’t take him away-said Little John in a restrained voice. He doesn’t want to go.

-But…we have to go. Our mission has ended and we’re about to depart. He cannot stay here; he doesn’t belong here. He’s …our Child.

-He’s human now and we belong to each other. We have developed our own connection during the cycles. I can follow him to the edge of the solar system, but as soon as you cross it, our connection will break and then…he will die. Are you ready to face that?

-He’ll die anyway if we’ll leave him here! It’s an awful choice! We were not prepared for this!!!

Little John sighed and watched them closely.

-Then you can understand now his torments and dilemmas…Leave him with me! We love each other and I’ll do anything to protect him and make him happy, even if this is the last cycle of our life.

The baritone gave an inquisitive look to the tenor; the other one was sunk in deep thinking. After a while he looked up and spoke to Little John.

-I always had special feelings for him; I knew this was our most unusual and precious Child. We leave him in your care…we cannot save his life against his will. I think this is what humans face when their own children are starting their life…Come-he said turning to the baritone-there’s no need for us here anymore.

-Little John!-said the baritone to the young man. Tell our Child that…we love him and we wish him to be happy on his own terms!

The silhouettes slowly faded. Little John ran his fingers over Fuyuki’s soft cheeks. The Lost Butterfly stirred in his sleep and mumbled something, then turned towards the caressing hand and sighed in sleep. He was back, close to the real world.

Little John leaned over him and kissed him lovingly. They had the whole life ahead…

 

 

 

 

The two silhouettes were woven of light; one of them was taller and stronger than the other that looked slender. They embraced and held each other for minutes. When they parted (for a moment) the slender one was holding a cocoon of light in his hands. He offered it to his companion and they both supported it with their entwined hands until the cocoon started to glow with a soft light. The light became shinier with each moment and the cocoon slowly lifted in the air. It hovered over their hands…then rose higher and higher until it disappeared in the azure background of the sky. The two silhouettes embraced once again, the slender one cuddling in his companion’s arms. They watched the cocoon departing then they turned on the opposite direction, walking slowly in the twilight.

-He’ll manage, don’t worry-said the slender one.

-Our first Child…how wonderful-murmured the taller.

-We’ll be around whenever he needs us-completed Fuyuki, leaning against Little John.

His lover squeezed him gently, lovingly and kissed him. He encircled his shoulders with an arm and they slowly faded into the shadows, leaving behind a warm, golden glow.

Somewhere in the colorful world of the Blue Planet a new Butterfly was ready to emerge from his cocoon of light…

FIN/for now

 

 

 

“Hey, hey come on…

“What?

“I have wonderful news…

“?

“The first half light-half human Child was born!

“They succeeded?

“ YESSSS!

“Oh! But how…?

“It’s what humans call “the Power of LOVE”

“I’m happy and I’m impressed; there’s hope for both our races.

“And our Child is really…special.

“You were right from the beginning. Probably that’s why…I love you, if I may say that.

“So do I, you big fool…humanly speaking.

They laughed a happy laugh; the Universe kept spinning but in a better mood. His Children were improving, slowly but surely…

The Lost Butterfly Chapter 4.

A blow from the past

 

The man at the door was medium high, fortyish and well dressed but inconspicuous. He took off his sunglasses before he addressed to Fuyuki. He had piercing blue eyes watching intently under the strong eyebrows.

-Mr. Tanaka? May I talk to you?-he asked handing him a personal card.

The name was unknown but Fuyuki remembered the firm. It was of that man from his past. He let the man in and offered him an easy chair.

-What can I do for you?-asked Fuyuki looking at the mysterious visitor.

The secretary (he was the secretary of …the man) watched him intently.

-My master died recently.

-I’m sorry to hear that.

-Thank you. His death relieves me from certain obligations about keeping certain things secret. He never ceased to feel guilt for the way he treated you…

-That was…buried and long forgotten-said Fuyuki following the man’s account with attention.

The latter returned the attention and stared at him with undisclosed curiosity.

-It’s for the first time that I can see you from close. I have to admit that you really are attractive…I followed you while he lived because he wanted to know about your whereabouts. Now that he died I followed you for my own reasons.

Fuyuki’s eyes flickered.

-And what would be your reason?-he asked quietly.

I wanted to find a crack on your perfect image-said the guy with scorn in his voice. And I found it some time ago but I never had the heart to show it to my Master. But he’s gone and all I have is my need for revenge over you!

Fuyuki blinked, taken aback by the hatred flowing from the man; he tried to ease the tension.

-I’m sorry if I hurt your master but I never did anything on purpose. I had the feeling that he finally understood and that he came to term with all…

-He did. But it was an entire chain of unhappiness generated by your pretty face and your damned perfection. He loved you, you didn’t love him, I loved him but he had no eyes for me…

-So-said Fuyuki slightly puzzled-what do you want from me?

The man took out an envelope and handed it to him. It looked that there were some photos inside. Fuyuki took them out and watched them one by one. He turned pale and he felt sick. He raised his eyes and looked into those blue ones fixing him:

-What do you want?

-Do you agree that I caught you red handed?-he asked with malice.

-Yes and no-said Fuyuki in a restrained voice. I can’t remember anything from this even if I can identify the persons.

The man looked at him incredulously but Fuyuki seemed genuinely shocked by the photos.

-I know that you’re not a liar-agreed the man. But these shots are for real, I assure you. Well, if you don’t have any recollection of the events, you have to unravel this moment of your past and live with it. Consider it a…gift from your sworn enemy.

The man got to his feet and left the room. He silently closed the door behind him, leaving a very distraught young man behind. As the door clicked shut, Fuyuki broke out in despair. He grabbed his head with both hands, closed his eyes and franticly searched through his memories. But his mind was silent, the doors of memory sealed and he was left only with a void filled with pain and despair. He bit his lips until they bled and curled up in bed shaking violently, moaning and crying helplessly. It took him a good deal to calm down and put himself together.

He started the computer and called Little John on cell phone. While the phone was ringing, he scanned the photos and sent them to his friend. He barely finished the sending that a deep, pleasant voice answered his call.

-Fuyuki? Is that you, my friend?

Fuyuki Swallowed hard to calm down but even so, his voice came out coarse and insecure:

-Yes…Little John, open your mail. I’ve sent you something and I need you to watch it now!

Little john sensed the emergency of the call so he proceeded as instructed. He opened the attachment and…almost fell off his chair. The images were unmistakable; his deepest secret, the wild night spent with Fuyuki on the night of his bachelor party was poignantly depicted by those pictures. They had been captured with a powerful camera so the faces were clearly visible. Their passionate kissing under the starlit sky, Fuyuki lost in his arms as he carried him to the small rear room, the moment they entered and the moment he carried him out in the morning and took him home to Old John…

Little John was speechless; he could hardly utter a sound.

-Fuyuki…he whispered. Who gave you these pictures?

-A friendly…. enemy of mine. He wanted to take revenge upon me and he came to confront me with these photos…Little John, tell me why can’t I remember this?!

Little John was unable to answer; his mind was searching for a reasonable excuse but he couldn’t find one. He could clearly sense Fuyuki’s torment and he was afraid of what he might do in such a state of mind.

-Fuyuki-he pleaded in a worried voice. I’ll come and we’ll talk this over! Please, don’t do anything stupid! I’ll leave tonight and tomorrow morning I’ll be at your place. Please, Fuyuki! It’s my entire fault…

Fuyuki sighed and kept silent for a few moments. When he finally spoke, his voice was broken:

-I’ll wait for you but you have to restore my memory no matter how painful that would be. I can’t take anymore lies about my life…Please, ask Soraya to forgive me for taking you away right now; but I need help. Good day, Little John. Take care!

-You to, my friend. Wait for me-said Little John and hung up. He deleted the photos and hurried to pack up for and early plane.

Soraya was worried about Fuyuki; she urged her husband to leave at once. Little John felt like a cheater that moment; His stupid and selfish actions from his past were getting back on all those he loved and cherished.

Fuyuki disposed of the photos but kept them on the computer. He did his best in behaving normally. He told Yoshiasu that Little John was coming to visit them the next day; Yoshiasu had a small, nagging feeling that Fuyuki was troubled by something but he was too tired to dig deeply. All he could do is to hold him closely and reassuringly.

 

 

Little John arrived early and found Fuyuki waiting for him. They embraced and he watched his friend closer; clouded by inner turmoil, Fuyuki’s eyes were almost black. He looked tired and subdued. He moved around like a sleepwalker, unable to find his balance. He had already made some coffee so he handed a mug to Little John; they sat in the living, around the small table, silently, unable to start to speak about what was bothering both of them.

Fuyuki stood up, slowly pacing up and down, fingers clutched to his mug; Little John watched him for a while then he set his mug on the table.

-Fuyuki…Fuyuki, my friend…Forgive me; it’s entirely my fault!

At the sound of his voice the young artist shuddered and almost dropped his mug.

-Why? Why can’t I remember?! What have I done?!-his voice trailed. He buried his face into his palms, shaking his head…

Little John wished he could comfort him but he was afraid to touch him; he came close, talking in a warm, soft voice.

-Fuyuki, you were made to forget in order to protect you from the burden of this memory.

When I came to Old John to invite you to the bachelor party, you were reluctant. Old John took me aside and warned me: “Be careful; he is your friend and he loves you. Take care of him; he’s more vulnerable than he looks. Don’t take advantage on him!”

I easily dismissed his concerns; I was overconfident. Then you came and I fell apart. Old John gave you some sleeping potion and used a spell to block your memories. He wanted to protect you…from me. You wanted to help me get over my obsession for you and follow the proper path for me. You generously gave up all and selfishly I took all! My madness was finally cured but you were deeply scarred. That’s why Old John decided to lock up those memories.

Fuyuki my friend, I would do anything to bring back your peace of mind! I am ashamed and I admit that I badly screwed up all!

Fuyuki listened quietly Little John’s confession; his suppressed memories slowly seeped back in his consciousness.

-Oh, gods!-he whispered. What have I done?

He staggered…he then grabbed his coat and his keys and stopped for a moment, looking into Little John’s puzzled face. He sighed…then he shook his head.

-I’m sorry…I have to go out…I need some air…Yoshiasu-his voice broke-he’ll be here; wait for him, please! Tell him that…that…I love him!

Before Little John could even protest, Fuyuki fled without telling where he was going. Fearing the worst, Little John sent a message to Yoshiasu; there was no way back.

“Yoshiasu, we have a problem; Fuyuki left but I don’t know where he went. Come home quickly; you’ll find me here!”

 

 

Fuyuki stormed out of the building. His head was spinning and he couldn’t focus properly on anything. He couldn’t face himself, he couldn’t face Yoshiasu. He was like a cornered, wild animal: desperate and ready to snap! He was quickly falling apart. His face was flushed and tears were building up in his eyes. He took a cab; he didn’t want to cry on the street. The cab left him in front of his studio. There was no one around to see him entering.

He shut the door behind him and sat on a chair, trying to gather his thoughts. He could see no way out of this mess. He knew that Yoshiasu would be deeply hurt and Fuyuki couldn’t bear that thought. He has reached the end; he couldn’t fight anymore. He looked around the studio, looking for something. He looked up and saw himself in a mirror; he shuddered. All that beauty has caused him only trouble and pain. The only good thing in his life was Yoshiasu and his love; now that he foolishly lost it, he had no more reasons to get going. He took a cutter from a shelf and went to the bathroom. He started the warm water and let it fill the bath tub. He slowly undressed…

Outside in the street the man sitting in an inconspicuous cart was watching intently. He was pleased to notice how much those photos had affected the young artist. He was quite curious what else would follow. He waited patiently, like a spider waiting for his catch…

 

 

Yoshiasu was intrigued by Little John’s message but he suspected that it has to do with Fuyuki’s odd behavior and clouded face. Little John opened the door and shook hands with the older man. To Yoshiasu the young native looked deeply under the weather. He decided to let him speak on his terms. Little John turned the computer screen towards Yoshiasu and opened the photo file. He said nothing just pointed to the images, stood up and stopped at the window, his head buried in his hands. While Yoshiasu watched the photos, the silence in the room became heavy, dense almost tangible.

-I won’t mind if you’d beat out the hell of me-said slowly Little John-But don’t blame him! He couldn’t remember anything! I was totally crazed at that time and I wasn’t accustomed to take no for an answer. The moment I laid my hands on him, he cried out for you. After four months without you he was almost desperate though he never let it show.
I was a stupid, cocky, selfish bastard at a major crossroad of my life but I was unable to let go. The world was mine, at least I thought so. He was afraid I might do something foolish and hurt everyone/including myself/ so he gave in to my pressure to satisfy my ego and get me back on the right track.

All I can say in my defense is that I was young and confused and that he has always been beautiful and magic. It was Old John’s decision to make him forget; he cared about Fuyuki and wanted to protect him. He was a gifted medicine man; he gave him a powerful drogue and kept him in a deep sleep while he suggested him with a false memory. But now that he knows all, I’m afraid of what he might do…

-And that’s not the only dilemma-murmured Yoshiasu. He wasn’t even angry; his logical and analytical mind followed the recount but his inside was numbed.

-Where did those photos come from?-he finally asked.

-Fuyuki said that it was given to him by a friendly enemy. Somebody visited him two days ago and gave him the pictures. Fuyuki was shocked and disturbed by them and mainly by the fact that he was unable to remember anything. Here is the man’s card…

Yoshiasu took the man’s card and read it; he quickly realized who it was. He also understood that this whole thing was meant to destroy Fuyuki by breaking up his relationship with Yoshiasu. His mind cleared in an instant; Fuyuki wasn’t an ordinary person. Despite all the good moments of his recent life, he was still very vulnerable and defenseless. Deep inside, he has remained the same trustful child, unable to see the evil in the people around, always considering himself the only one to blame for whatever occurs.

Yoshiasu turned towards the young native; Little John has matured quickly after marriage and the birth of his first child. He was a handsome young man, powerful and attractive but much more composed than when they first met. He could understand why Fuyuki has fallen for him, lonely and confused. Little John proved to be at that time an irresistible…stalker. As these things settled in his mind, Yoshiasu grew increasingly worried about Fuyuki. By now he blamed only himself for not being around Fuyuki when he needed him. His mind raced to find where he could go; he stood up and looked for the keys. The ones from the studio were not in place; Yoshiasu turned to Little John.

-Come on, hurry up! We have to find him before it’s too late and he does something to himself.
-My car is outside-said Little John. Let’s go; just tell where…

They arrived at the studio but there was silence all around. There was only one parked car on the opposite side of the street. They left Little John’s car and hurried inside.

The moment they burst inside the studio Little John already sensed the nauseating smell of iron: it was blood, fresh blood. The studio was dead silent; there was nobody in the small kitchen or in any of the rooms. As they turned towards the bathroom, the smell increased, hitting hard the young native’s keen senses. He signaled towards Yoshiasu and gave a strong push to the bathroom door. For a moment they both stared in horror; the one they were looking for was in the bath tub, eyes shut and very pale. He was barely breathing. The water around him was reddened by the blood seeping from his slashed wrists. Fuyuki has committed suicide.

Little John Quickly pulled him out and carried him to the bed while Yoshiasu was franticly searching for something to stop the bleeding. They finally garroted Fuyuki’s arms; put some bandages on the wrists and Yoshiasu called 911. They sat on the bed and tried to get Fuyuki back to his senses. It was a hopeless try; he was barely alive.

Seeing Fuyuki lying there, broken and bleeding to death Yoshiasu realized what a fool

he had been even for a moment. All his life, Fuyuki has given away what everybody wanted from him: his body. He has kept for himself only what was untouchable: his heart and his soul.

His heart belonged to Yoshiasu; he was in love with him and that was something he wouldn’t have given away. Just as he said, he gave Little John all he could give; the rest was not for him to give away. But when his memories returned, Fuyuki realized that Yoshiasu might not understand that and his only reason to live/his love/ could be lost forever.

Yoshiasu felt ashamed; once again he failed to protect the one he really loved, the one who really counted in his life. Swallowing hard he gently ruffled the black strands lying on disarray on the pillow. His hand was visibly shaking as he caressed Fuyuki’s face. He desperately cried out:

-I am such a fool! How could I let this happen?! What was in my mind? I’ve promised so many times that I’ll protect him…

-I’d never forgive myself if anything happens to him-said Little John in a restrained voice. I have equally caused this; I breached his trust and used his feelings for me to satisfy my own selfish ego…

They looked at each other desperately searching for hope in the other’s eyes. At that moment the paramedics arrived and took care of Fuyuki. They asked the two men to come down to the hospital and give some blood for their injured friend; after that they left in a hurry.

Yoshiasu and Little John returned to the flat; the young native sank on the bed, numbed while Yoshiasu did his best to put himself together and prepare a small bag of personal items for Fuyuki. Little John went to the bathroom to wash his face; when he remembered the blood streaks on the bath tub and the smell of blood, he got sick. Yoshiasu put a hand on his back.

-Come-he said comfortingly. I’ve made a strong coffee for you and me; there’s something to eat to before we leave for the hospital. You should call your family; Soraya must be worried by now.

Little John washed his face and gave a silent nod. He called Soraya and told her that Fuyuki has been rushed to the hospital and that he would stay overnight at Yoshiasu until their friend is stabilized. Soraya was very upset to hear about Fuyuki; she expressed her concerns and her hopes for the best. Fuyuki was their beloved friend; she made Little John promise to call her as soon as possible about his condition.

The two men sat at the kitchen table, holding the coffee mugs and picking from time to time small bits of food from a plate. Little John looked around; in this modern environment there were a few colored spots, discreetly placed. Those were the unmistakable signs of Fuyuki’s touch. It was Fuyuki’s natural gift to fill the world around him with warmth and magic. He did it with the same ease as he was breathing and he asked for nothing in exchange.

-He never asked for anything-said suddenly Yoshiasu, like he was guessing Little John’s thoughts. He never kept anything for himself. What have we done to him?

He looked straight into Little John’s eyes.

-We cornered him until he broke-he continued. I should have known how fragile he was inside…

-I knew nothing about him and it was so easy and comfortable to take him for its face value…sighed Little John.

He stood up and washed his empty mug and so did Yoshiasu. They left the house and hurried to the hospital. Fuyuki was still in critical state; the doctors stopped the bleeding but he needed a transfusion. Yoshiasu and Little John were compatible so they quickly donated the necessary amount. They were not allowed to see him; the doctor asked them to return the next morning and promised to keep them informed about Fuyuki. For the moment he was in intensive care, his life hanging on a thread.  The two men returned to Yoshiasu’s flat. They took a brief lunch and looked for something to fill the day. So they talked. Yoshiasu played for a moment with a silver wristband left on the table by Fuyuki; he then broke the silence and turned to Little John.

-As you can easily imagine, I am upset about the photos. Yet, you have an excuse in all this: you didn’t know and even now you know nothing about Fuyuki’s past.

Little John raised an eyebrow questioningly.

-Fuyuki has never owned his body. Since his early childhood he has been constantly used and abused by his father. All he could keep for himself were his deeply buried feelings. The two of us we share a special connection; I’m sure that finding him on that cold morning, buried under a pile of leaves and dirt was something meant for me. And we really love each other.

The only thing that comforts me in this mess is that I know that Fuyuki cares for you. If things were meant to happen, at least he wasn’t taken by force. In his own, unusual way he has given himself willingly.

My pride is hurt but my mind says that it’s only male selfishness. I’ll survive that; I love him more than anything.

Little John was shocked but for the first time in his life he came to a deeper understanding of people. What Yoshiasu has just said explained Fuyuki’s vulnerability and torment. Little John regretted deeply all that happened; if only he had known, he wouldn’t have touched his friend even with a finger. Old John’s insight about the young artist proved correct…

-Despite all this mess-he said in a low voice- you are lucky Yoshiasu. I know that Fuyuki loves you deeply.

You know, at the beginning things went smoothly and he enjoyed the time spent in our land. But as time went on the separation from you started to wear him down. After he realized my interest in him, he did his best to avoid me. For him it was another blow and by now it was too much. While I was busy with my wedding preparations, he worked along with Old John and the craftsmen of the neighborhood. All these things filled his days but the evenings were empty. So each evening he rode out in a spot where you used to stay together and he curled up in the grass, crying for hours. Each evening, each night. For hours. Desperately, heartbreakingly. He never complained but I knew.

I was worried about him so I followed him silently and witnessed his pain. I couldn’t comfort him; I knew it would end badly. But it was deeply disturbing to watch his torment and not being able to help.

Little John paused for a moment and looked to Yoshiasu; the older man was visibly shaken by this recount.

-I never suspected that it will affect him so much…For a moment I took his bravery for real. You’re right; I was so lucky but I haven’t properly noticed it. Fuyuki is more than meets the eyes…

Little John hesitantly put a hand on Yoshiasu’s shoulder.

-It won’t do us any good to stay here all day long and think about our mistakes. Let’s go back to the studio and clean up the place. Some real work will at least exhaust us properly.

Yoshiasu agreed; they drove to the studio and stopped in front of it. They were about to leave the car when Yoshiasu grabbed Little John’s arm.

-Stay still for a moment; we’ve been followed-he said in a tense voice. His face was dark with anger. I think it’s the bastard who has caused all this!-he said. He’s following us to gloat over our grief!

Little John lifted his eyes and looked into the rearview mirror; a car stopped on the opposite side of the street. The young man remembered the car and the shaded face inside it. His eyes n arrowed dangerously; he could sense Yoshiasu tensing and breathing heavily next to him. Finally the young Japanese made up his mind.

-Let’s go inside before he realizes that we know about him. I have something in my mind.

 

 

The man in the car watched as the young native drove off leaving behind the Japanese guy at the studio. After a while, the latter descended and placed a notice on the entrance door, then returned inside. The man waited for a while but curiosity got the best of him; he came out and crossed the street to read the notice. It stated that the studio was for rent. Well, it looked like the young artist was in trouble; the man knew about the suicide attempt. He smirked then he rang the bell. When the young Japanese opened the door he pretended to be interested in renting the place.  The young man let him in and showed him around. The place has been cleaned but there was a faint odor of blood lingering in the air. The man smiled inside; this was the place where a tragedy has freshly unfolded. He watched everything with eager eyes, looking furtively from time to time to his host.

The young man was visibly upset but composed. The man asked about the previous owner but the answer was that he was ill. The man promised to return the next day with answer; but as he was heading to the door he found himself face to face with the young native. The well built young man was baring his way out on purpose; his eyes were dark and his face tense.

-So-he said slowly. You became curious; but curiosity killed the cat…You came to see us crumble and rejoice over our misery…That’s not nice, not nice at all!

-And it wasn’t wise either-came the voice from behind.

The Japanese was staring at the man in cold furry. The man felt cold sweat running down his spine; he was trapped between two tall, strong and very determined young men. He had no chance against them. He tried to deny his identity but they laughed at him. Yoshiasu had kept the card and he had the memory of a high-tech computer. The man knew that the trick was useless. He was at their mercy.

And they toyed with him; they didn’t touch him but talked about him and his fate over his head. They made him sweat profusely and tremble for his life. They knew he was almost broken after two hours of talk but they looked through him and proceeded. By the end of the third hour the man was a total mess, begging for his life and trying to capture their attention. Then they stopped and turned to him.

-You’re a speck of dirt, nothing else. If anything happens to Fuyuki what you have heard is only a tiny bit of what you’ll get from us-said the young native.

-Now, take this pencil and write down that you’ve blackmailed Fuyuki into suicide and that you are ready to face the consequences.

The Japanese guy held out a paper and a pen and watched over him until he finished the declaration. He read carefully the paper then he folded it.

-You can leave now-he said in a cold voice. Go and prey for Fuyuki’s recovery and for your miserable life.

He opened the door and let the man out. He shut the door without even looking after the departing guy. Yoshiasu turned to Little John.

-Mission accomplished. Let’s go home, my friend.

As they arrived home, they called the hospital and asked about Fuyuki; he’s been stabilized and the hopes for his recovery were higher by now. Both young men felt relieved; suddenly they were leaning on each other for hope and com fort. Just like before, Fuyuki was bringing them together. They sat on atop of the bed with the TV on but with their mind set elsewhere.

-Yoshiasu-said Little John quietly. Would you talk to me about Fuyuki? Please…

-Only if you tell me more about you and your family-came the answer.

Little John smiled.

-Gladly; I promise. I wanted to tell you about a certain moment. You know, at the bachelor party my friends tried their best to convince Fuyuki to dress up as a girl. They wanted to trick me and they all agreed that he was the best candidate. Fuyuki said that he had once such an experience and that it was more than enough for him.

After the endless nagging of the boys he talked them about the party and they all laughed a lot listening to his recount. He made it sound very funny; it was quite enjoyable. He found a picture on his cell phone and we could finally see him dressed up.

Yoshiasu, weren’t his unmistakable lavender eyes, I would have never guessed that it wasn’t a real girl…she was stunning; the boys looked incredulously at the picture and with a lot more respect to him.

-It was our friend Angela’s idea and neither I, or her boyfriend knew what to expect-said Yoshiasu as he was recalling the memory of that party.

We were already dressed up/I was a …samurai and George was a knight/ and we were surrounded by happily chatting young ladies. There was enough noise mixed with music around us to realize that at one moment, it ended brusquely.

I saw George’s eyes rounding up and I turned when Angela called me telling that she has found what I’ve lost. I stood there speechless and watched him for minutes. Just as you said, only those unusually beautiful eyes hinted out that it was Fuyuki. I was afraid to even touch him; he was so beautiful and delicate. George said that he was afraid that I might faint.

On the other hand Fuyuki felt scared and intimidated by all those people staring at him and by my silence. He turned pink and I saw the tears building up in the corner of his eyes. Only then I was able to speak and finally tell him that he was beautiful and that I loved him. George himself was amazed and he couldn’t believe that this image was not due to make up tricks. All that evening and night nobody knew that my companion was a young…man. Fuyuki himself stood close to me, afraid that somebody might ask him for a dance. Probably I looked menacing enough to keep him safe but I assure you, Fuyuki was the most beautiful girl at that New Year’s Eve party.

-I see…murmured Little John.

Yoshiasu turned to him.

-Tell me about your family, Little John. Are you happy?

-I-‘m the luckiest bastard on Earth, believe me-said Little John, his mood suddenly lifting. I have a wife that is equally beautiful and wise. I’m blessed with her love and a wonderful child. What else should I wish for? Well, I hope our next baby to be a girl, just like her mom-he grinned. The riding school is a real success, thanks to both of your help so we have a good life together! By the way, I’m going to call Soraya to tell her that Fuyuki is getting better. I know she worries about that.

Little John went to the living to call Soraya. They spoke for quite a while until Little John was sure that she has relaxed a bit. Her pregnancy went well and her young husband was doting over her. Yoshiasu smiled for himself; the young man was concerned and protective with his loved ones. He really was lucky. Yoshiasu thought about Fuyuki; the house…no, his whole life was empty without him. He fell asleep with his mind set on his love.

The next day they were at the hospital almost at the first hour; they looked for the doctor and found him at his personal headquarter, looking over some medical files when the two young men knocked on his door.

-You can visit him now. He’s still very weak and dizzy but he can put up with a 10 minutes visit.

Yoshiasu and Little John looked at each other with embarrassed faces. The doctor raised an eyebrow:

-Is there a problem?

Yoshiasu swallowed and opened his mouth.

-Yes. In fact there is…

-And what would that be -asked the doctor, his curiosity aroused by the two grown –ups looking like two guilty school-boys.

-The problem is that we don’t know how he will react…

-Aren’t you his closest relatives? He’s married to you, isn’t it?-he asked watching Yoshiasu blush.

-Yes…but…

-But we are the two idiots who caused this!-blurted out Little John.

The doctor looked from one another.

-Then-he said stressing each word- it is about time to make amends and prove him that he’s important for both of you. He needs a reason to get well and live. Quit being idiots! You’ll find me here if anything occurs.

He turned back to his papers while the two men left the room. They looked at each other, trying to find the necessary resolve to face Fuyuki. Finally Yoshiasu sighed and gave a friendly push to Little John.

-Let’s go; we deserved this.

-I know-mumbled the young native. But I’ve never been so nervous in my life…

The room had a large window facing the corridor. Surrounded by ticking instruments, hoses and wires Fuyuki looked even thinner than he was. He was still asleep.

The two men cautiously stepped inside, closed the door and stood next to him, watching in silence. Fuyuki was pale, almost translucent with dark shades underlining his eyes. His breath was shallow but even. Each wrist was wrapped in bandages so his hands looked like broken wings resting on the blanket. Seeing him so fragile and torn, Yoshiasu turned his head in pain while Little John growled in frustration. Fuyuki opened his eyes and looked at them. The deep, violet eyes were glazed by pain. The moment he focused on them, Fuyuki bit his lower lip and shut his eyes but he couldn’t stop the sudden flow of tears. For a few moments he struggled to hold back but he choked then burst in violent sobs.

The two were numbed by this sudden burst of pain and anguish; they felt helpless and unhappy with what they’ve caused. Yoshiasu broke first; he sat on the bed and took Fuyuki in his arms, holding him tight.

-Fuyuki, please…please, stop crying! I’m sorry, I’m sorry; I’m such a fool and an idiot! Please, don’t cry anymore!

Fuyuki encircled his neck with his arms and hid his face in Yoshiasu’s shoulder. His body was still convulsing but he was crying silently. Little John sat on the opposite side and put a hand on his shoulder:

-Fuyuki, please…we’ve been through Hell; we thought we’ve lost you. Can you forgive us?

Fuyuki slowly turned back but he was shaking from weakness and the overwhelming emotions. Yoshiasu laid him own but kept holding his hand. Little John gently placed his palm on the other hand. Fuyuki closed his eyes for a moment then opened them again.

-I messed up everything-he whispered. I thought you would be better without me. I’m a nuisance and all I can do is to make trouble; I’m not able to take even a decent decision…

-Don’t be silly-said Yoshiasu. We might be fools and idiots but we both love you…

-Each of us in his own way-chuckled Little John. Soraya is expecting her second child; you have to come to see it, you are my best friend.

A tiny smile lit up Fuyuki’s face.

-Give her my love-he said –but tell her I need a little time to get over this.

-Ok, I will but don’t do anything stupid anymore! You’ve been quite a handful! Promise me!

-I promise…whispered Fuyuki.

Little John squeezed his hand and left. Yoshiasu accompanied him; they shook hands.

-Take care-he said as he turned to leave.

-You too-said Yoshiasu and returned to the room.

Fuyuki watched him intently, sadness washing over his face.

-You’ll always remember it and you’ll end up hating me-he said and his voice broke.

He turned away and closed his eyes; he felt deadly tired. His body was weak and his heart was broken. He wished he had died before anybody could’ve found him. Yoshiasu sat down and watched for a moment his broken and confused butterfly.

-Stop blaming and tormenting yourself for nothing-he said. I blame myself for all that happened; I have let myself forget how lucky I was to be loved by you and how empty my life was before I found you. Little John and I we agreed on the fact that both of us were selfish bastards, trying to own you and competing over your feelings. We almost lost you. At least he has a beautiful family that makes him whole and happy; but for me…you are everything. You make me whole and I’m happy and proud to protect you. Please, don’t fade away. Please!

Fuyuki looked at Yoshiasu with eyes filled with a mix of hope and despair.

-I feel so lost-he whispered.

Yoshiasu gently kissed him and held close.

-Don’t be lost; you’re my precious and I love you.

He caressed him until Fuyuki fell asleep; Yoshiasu took off his coat and took a chair. He sat next to his sleeping lover; he wasn’t going to let Fuyuki alone, desperate and insecure. Ever.

 

As days passed by Fuyuki was slowly recovering; yet one day the doctor called Yoshiasu for a close talk. He was worried about Fuyuki’s state of mind.

-Mr. Tanaka-he said. We face a very serious problem; despite his very mild and kind personality, for the first time in his life Fuyuki hates somebody. Unfortunately he hates himself. If you hate somebody else it is easy to demonize him and to prove yourself that the person deserves your negative feelings. You can more easily dismiss him.

But once you hate yourself, the problem becomes more complicated. If you end up feeling guilty, worthless and despicable it’s hard to find the necessary strength to forgive yourself and heal.

If you will not succeed in proving Fuyuki that he is wrong about himself, he’ll try to end up his life until he’ll succeed.

The doctor left, letting Yoshiasu to think it over; he knew Fuyuki was on the edge. Despite the best efforts he was fading away slowly but steadily. Just like the young martian of Ray Bradbury’s story, he was about to die trying to make happy the humans who fought over him. Fuyuki was torn apart by the fact that he wanted to help his crazed friend get over his obsession and he sacrificed his peace of mind. He couldn’t believe that his companion would accept that without resentment and he hated himself for betraying the one and only person he was in love with. And Yoshiasu knew that all arguments were futile; he had to act quickly, before it was too late.

So at the end of the week he came for Fuyuki. He thanked to the doctor and took his love away. There was a cab waiting for them at the rear door; Yoshiasu did his best to avoid the eager eye of the press. They’ve already learned about the young artist’s gesture and were ready to make it front page news. So Yoshiasu luckily skipped them and got his love into the car. The young man looked a little bit surprised but he couldn’t find the necessary strength to react. He was just tired, hopelessly tired. He closed his eyes and leaned against his companion. The cab stopped at the airport and they quickly embarked on a plane.

They ended up in a quiet resort with small, pleasant houses, a nice forest surrounding the place and clean, crispy air. Yoshiasu quickly unpacked then took Fuyuki by the hand and left the house. They took a narrow pathway and after a while they ended up in a small, sunny clearing. They sat in a half-shaded spot, Fuyuki leaning against Yoshiasu, eyes closed. He still looked fragile and pale but there was a shade of pink in his cheeks after the walk.

Yoshiasu untied the short pony tail and let the silky, black strands fall freely and frame the delicate oval of the face. A small smile crossed Fuyuki’s lips at Yoshiasu’s touch over his hair and his neck. He sighed and cuddled in his arms.

“Fuyuki”…whispered Yoshiasu and the young man opened his eyes, looking at him. The sun sparkled through the foliage above them and lighted the deep, pure amethyst irises. They were beautiful and spotless. Yoshiasu bent closer to him and felt Fuyuki’s breath speeding up. He kissed him gently and Fuyuki’s stiffness was slowly melting. He moved carefully, not to scare him away. He unbuttoned  Fuyuki’s shirt and kissed the soft curve of the neck; Fuyuki moaned and closed his eyes, leaning against Yoshiasu. He caressed and kissed his fragile love until all the bad memories were washed away.

During that week of rest and recovery, they talked less but held each other closer and closer, bonding again, entwining intimately as they always were. Their deepest ties, not severed by all the external pressures and misshappennings, got even stronger. Lovingly and patiently, Yoshiasu rebuilt Fuyuki’s broken inner world and trust. Step by step, with each gentle touch and kiss, with each passionate night of love he re-conquered his lost butterfly and mended his shredded wings.

As they returned to the city, Yoshiasu reconsidered his priorities; he never again allowed his work to take him away from Fuyuki.

 

 

The cycle ended without any more unpredicted trouble; at least that’s what the creatures of light thought so. But they were completely wrong; the moment the Child had to part from his human companion and leave him in the stasis he suffered a real heartbreak. In a split second all his memories were completely restored and he had to face so many hurtful and contradicting facts that he almost collapsed.

He found himself in the middle of a crowd of curious light creatures who were, in a way his closest relatives. At the same time he has been separated from the humans who were equally his…relatives and, unlike the other Children, he was the only one that still looked and…felt like a human. He felt alienated and lost; he soon also realized that all his sufferance came from these curious creatures who had already gathered a lot of data about humans but were unable to really understand not only the mind but the heart of the humans.

His life throughout the cycle turned out well but there was a part of him that was connected secretly and intimately to another human. By a twist of fortune their souls connected for a moment only to be separated again by fate. It had hurt both of them and they longed for another chance. The spirit of that human was stubborn and passionate, unwilling to give up on that short connection. Just like the creatures of light who were driven by an insatiable curiosity to get a deeper knowledge of other intelligent life-forms, the human was driven by the strong curiosity about the Child, that particular Child.

The Child was unhappy and lonely; he was trapped between worlds and there was nothing he could do to end that. He sat on a corner, leaned against the wall and shut his eyes. The tears were slowly seeping through and running down his cheeks; at first he cried silently but he ended up curled in fetal position, crying desperately like a human child lost among the stars… The other light creatures were deeply disturbed; they called his…parents and showed them what was happening. The taller one picked up the Child and carried him to their rooms. The thinner one followed, shaking his head in disbelief.

 

“This is what humans call “a narrow escape”. What are we going to do now?-asked the first shape of light.

He gave a short look at the Child that was sitting in a corner of the room, looking out silently to the stars. They have tried to talk to him but he was constantly ignoring them.

“His whole memory is back and he’s unhappy. We have to put them together somehow. Maybe if they spend a cycle together, he’ll get over his pain.

“And what if he won’t?

“Then we’ll reconsider things as they’d be at the time. The Child has become unpredictable to…-said the second creature of light.

“We’re walking on thin ice…Well, maybe you’re right; let’s see what happens this time. After all we have collected a huge amount of priceless data due to our Child. He deserves a little happiness of his own…

“And what about the first, Yoshiasu?

“He’s almost ready but he’s in standby. We can’t let them mix again. He might join us into the light; amazing how the Child has changed his whole life-cycle…”

“I know he is the most talented Child ever…But his second choice gives me the creeps; he’s too powerful.

“Listen to yourself…you are talking like the humans: the creeps, you say?

His companion…chuckled.

-This proved to be our most challenging assignment until now; I’ll ask for a vacation at home…This Child wore me out!

-Don’t complain-said the other. He’s our Child and that makes him…special!

-Now, you are talking like humans!

-I’ve told you, he’s talented; he’s affected even the two of us…

They walked away to start the preparations for the Child’s returning to Earth; the thinner one gave a look to the Child. He was sleeping quietly in his corner…the creature sighed and closed the door.