Set before Before Crisis. Of Tseng, his mother, and a battle.
"Mother! Mother, mother! Where are you?"
A weak voice, but he could hear it clearly in the tomb-like hush of the field strewn with bodies and wreckage and ensanguined with their-most not trained fighters- blood-they'd won the battle, mostly due to Lord Godo-and his men-alone atop their black chocobos, a fully-iniquitous advantage as the other side's soldiers were strictly on foot, sure, but the mainland's troops hadn't suffered so many casualties by far. Wutai would be crushed, for certain, if only by the running out-of of troops-and if the mainland determined to launch another attack so close to home; they would learn from their oversights--as they always did.
The boy half fell half climbed down the gravelly embankment into the muddy trench, falling at his mother's side, taking her arm.
The women moaned, flinching, trying to sit up and failing, falling back to the ground, but opened her dark eyes.
"Tseng..." Weakly, she reached up to brush his face, pushing his damp black hair back from it, running a finger lovingly around his angled eyes, lingering curled on his cheek, before falling back on to her chest, a tear soaking down her battered face, her eyes clamped together in pain.The boy's face-more of a man's face worn by war and hollowed by lack of food and jaded by sights that should be reserved for soldiers and not children well-really, for no one.
"Momma... Momma... " He shook her shoulder, sobbing now.
/"Tseng..." /She gritted her teeth as she fought to hide the pain she obviously felt from her son, and she shook her head.
"Can't you get up?"
"I can not, Tseng."
/"M...Momma... Who..." /
His mother looked away as best she could, unable to hide her expression. Tseng gathered her in his arms, cradling her bleeding head, sniffling and rocking on his wooden shoes, the edge of his robelike outfit in the mud where the water pouch she had been carrying had been dropped.
"It was an accident, it was an accident..."
/"Momma, answer..." /He buried his head in her bosom, uncontrollably weeping.
"It was an accident, Tseng, it wasn't his fault..."
"He... Godo?" Tseng looked up, face infuriated.
/"It was an accident... They didn't know I was there..." /The women's face rumpled. "Don't blame them, Tseng..."
/"Momma, please... please... don't leave me alone..."/
Tseng's arms quivered as he pulled her to his heaving chest, not heeding the trickling blood from her wounded head that stained his shirt, adding a second layer of colour over his own bloodstained top, already dried to a maroon-brown.
"You can't leave me all alone here. You can't..." Even as he spoke, his mother's breathing slowed, her eyes closed, leaning heavily on him and holding to his arm.
"N...No. You can't abandon me alone here! You can't...!"
"I... can't think of a better way to..."
/"No...momma."/A slow, warm rain started falling as he crouched over her limp body, running down his face, soaking his hair and combining with his hot tears and dripping from the end of his face onto her torn, burned kimono.-;-
"Leaving Wutai, are you Tseng?" Godo's hands were on his hips, as he stood near the entrance to Wutai, face snarled like always.
"Yes. Nothing here for me, with mother gone." /He shouldered his pack. "Maybe I'll find my father." /
Godo winced. Tseng's fathering was a sensitive subject; Tseng didn't know who he was, didn't really care, but it seemed to bother greatly some of the older residents, most noticeably Godo. He had never noticed before, but since his mother had died forcing him to function fully by himself he realized, hearing their scarcely disguised whispering behind fans as they contributed nothing to the war effort-- l/ook there's Tseng you know his /son It's his fault his mother's dead now don't you know? Just like /him always knew he was his father's son disgusting isn't it?-- /what was being said about him, realizing that perhaps the place he'd grown up in wasn't fit to be his home, possibly it never had been and he'd been sightless in his youth, and more agonizing was realizing now that his mother hadn't exactly been a favourite either, and that hurt, it always aches, realizing you're not so welcome as you always thought you were, learning or realizing something is or was false. Godo Kisaragi's face wrinkled almost in an angry way.
"Think you can speak the local language well enough," he inquired in a cocky faux-Midgarian accent, seeming to probe for a weakness.
Tseng swallowed his animosity and forced a diminutive smile, after sorting out the harsh-sounding words in his mind "Yes, I think it'll be fine."
"What will you do with yourself in this day and age? Work for the Shin-ra, join the army?" He almost spat the last sentence.
"I don't know what else I would do," he replied, shortly, turning away from the man.
"Don't fail to remember your home, Tseng," Godo snarled, /"Don't you dare."/
"...Traitor. I see now why you won't stay and fight here..."
"I have little care for those who don't care for their own, with all due respect." he carefully replied, placing special stress on the last four words.
"Save your words." Tseng turned and smiled acrimoniously and almost cruelly./ "Save them for your little brat, maybe?"/
Godo's face mouthed wordlessly at the unkind (to say the least!) mention of his young and undeniably spoiled-- even in this time-- daughter Yuffie, giving him the appearance of a bloated fish out of water, as the dark-haired man--his hair shortened now, and tied behind his head, Godo noted, turned and stalked stiffly away from the red pagodas and stone dragons that had once housed him, no longer a place he could stand to remain. Midgar's army would welcome him; as Wutai was crushed further under its thumb, they welcomed any coming from the other side to assist in the crushing of Wutai-and nothing would give Tseng a greater sense of satisfaction, pleasure even, he decided, as he ducked aboard the ship that would carry him across the ocean clutching his few things close, then seeing Lord Godo brought to his knees like the dog the Wutasian ruler really was.