Step 04: Friendly Gathering
Step 04: Friendly Gathering
When I arrived at the Seventh Heaven, I was breathing heavily. It's not that I'm tired or out of breath, I was trying to calm myself. However, my attempt at relaxing deep breaths came out as heavy panting.
"Wow, I never thought I would see you out of breath," Reno looked at me curiously. "Have a seat buddy, rest up and have fun," then he attempted to push me into a stool in front of the bar, after having the audacity to call me 'buddy'. He pushed me gently at first, then with all his strength when that didn't work. I didn't move an inch, my eyes were closed and my breathing had stopped, as I mentally counted to ten and summoned the willpower not to kill Reno.
Finally, I opened my eyes and sat down. To my left, there sat Reno and next to him Rude, then Elena and Tseng in the far corner. To my right, there sat Cloud Strife. I looked at Cloud curiously from the corner of my eyes, half-hidden behind my hair. It was ridiculous, hair doesn't really hide anyone, but I created the illusion of being invisible by partially covering my face like a school girl would do, as if that would make the act of passing notes impossible to detect. The thought made me shudder and sit straight.
Cloud looked at me curiously, his eyes were hard at first, but then he seemed to remember something and his look softened. Why is it taking him this long to bring out his sword? I thought he would pick a fight the second a set foot in here. "Nice costume."
My mouth hung open for a few seconds before I finally muttered, "thanks." Cloud thinks this is a disguise. I glance at Reno who gives me a knowing grin. Maybe he's not so stupid after all; it looks like he did prepare Strife for my arrival. "Do you hate me, him, Sephiroth?" I hate how the words came out all mixed up, but I can hardly articulate a coherent sentence in my state of shock. That was a very stupid question.
"Of course not!" I stare at Cloud in shock, "not you I mean, I hate Sephiroth, everyone knows that, but I don't hate you. I know what it's like needing a job. I've taken on a few troublesome deliveries myself. I'm not going to judge you by the character you play. Acting out the part of the villain doesn't mean you're evil; it's just another character that someone has to represent. There's not need to be embarrassed, it's an honest job."
I nod at Cloud's words. I'm not going to burst his bubble and tell him I'm the real Sephiroth. That would be a very foolish action, which would surely bring about the chaos I've been trying so hard to avoid.
"Hi! What can I bring you?" The Seventh Heaven is packed with people and it took Tifa a moment to free herself enough to ask. I order a drink and suddenly I find myself remembering my time with Angeal and Genesis. I haven't thought about them in a long time, but I realize that I miss them.
Tifa placed my drink on the counter in front of me and I think she said something, but I was too lost in memory lane to notice right away. Ridiculously enough, the image of Angeal, Genesis and I starts to shift and I see myself laughing like old times, but my companions are Cloud and Reno. This is indeed ridiculous.
The chatter around me continues and I finally notice how noisy this place is, but I suppose I can't expect a bar to be quiet. I finish my glass and order another drink, the effect of alcohol is lost on mako, I've never been drunk, I don't think I'm capable of that regardless of how much I drink.
"You know, he wasn't always so bad," I'm not sure what possessed me to suddenly speak again. "Sephiroth, I mean."
"Oh," Cloud's attention was captured by my statement. "I know, I heard and I know; it's complicated." He paused as if trying to find a way to explain something that a regular person wouldn't understand. "My friend Zack knew Sephiroth, I know him through Zack."
This isn't a simple matter of meeting a person after being introduced by a mutual friend, there is something more, but I will not question it. With Soldier and mako, the possibilities are endless and I know first hand that it is possible to end up with a reality that is not one's own, fictional or borrowed. I simply nod unsure of what to say, I don't want to push the issue too much or Cloud and the eavesdroppers, bars are always full of them, are going to think I'm defending a villain too much and I am trying to avoid fights.
Nevertheless, I can't help it but to hold on to that memory of me before I lost my mind, my true self, the person I am hoping to restore. Yes, I want to go back to that, though I know it should be impossible. For now I'll just focus on staying out of trouble, which shouldn't be too hard since no one believes I'm the real Sephiroth. That also bothers me a little, how can I clean my tainted name by being someone else? Should I attempt to prove I changed before revealing myself? That appears to be the wisest course of action.
When I snap out of my thoughts, I find Cloud staring at my eyes with an unsure look on his face. "Your eyes," he mutters in a nearly inaudible whisper.
"Contact lenses," I'm quick to make up an excuse for the unnatural glow in my mako eyes.
Cloud's laugh suddenly rings out, causing all the people around us, the Turks and Tifa included, to look at him.
"How did you do that?" Reno questions. "I've been trying to make Mr. Emo laugh for ages. I thought he just didn't have a sense of humor!"
Tifa smiled widely at the scene, while Cloud calmed his laughter. "For a second there I thought you were the real one. That's impossible, the real Sephiroth wouldn't just sit here drinking and talking. He would be trying to kill me and destroy humanity or searching for traces of Jenova leftovers or something. I've been listening to too many of Reno's 'three solders walk into a bar' jokes."
I force myself to laugh, but it comes out somewhat bitter.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Final Fantasy VII.