AN: Yeah, another chapter! Hehe, came a little bit faster than the last one, ne? Well, see the problem is with me I'm writing at least five other fics along with this one. What I do is I write in say two chapters for one then switch to another fic and write two chapters of that one until eventually I type them all out at once and then post them. That's why it takes me such a long time to update ^^. Anyhoo, hope you like this chapter and R&R!
P.S. Yeah, Eria, I didn't expect to write out how Alex was found out like that, either, but well *shrugs* it turned out that way ^^.
Chapter Five ~ The Reunion
"He's late," Yukie murmured to herself as she locked the door to the restaurant. Her words weren't meant to be heard, but Sakura looked up from her stack of dishes that she was putting away.
"Huh? Who's late, Yukie?" she asked her Estharian friends.
Yukie turned around, startled from her thoughts. "Huh? Oh...it's...it's nothing, really."
She headed out the back door, a deep foreboding creeping in her heart. "I'm going to go see if Alex came back, okay? Just remember to lock the back when you're done."
Sakura mumbled an incoherent response as she returned to her work, half of her body inside the cupboards on the bottom. Yukie giggled at the sight as she shut the door behind her.
Taking in a deep breath of fresh air to calm her worries, Yukie strolled about the remnants of the bar's gardens. From the rumors that she had heard, Raine Leonhart-Loire loved white lilies and planted them in the back of her bar. With her skills in gardening, the few seeds she had planted changed into a beautiful garden full of different kinds of flowers. Visitors and customers alike had often stopped by her bar just to see them. Now, only half of those flowers remained due to the decades of neglect. If it wasn't for Rinoa's intervention, the garden would just become a wasteland of dead branches and brush.
Yukie, remembering the stories she had heard, knelt down beside a withering rose. She wrapped her hands around it, whispering in an archaic language that only the Guardian Forces and few people she knew would understand. A gentle blue aura surrounded the withering flower, and it slowly regenerated itself into what it once was. When Yukie stopped, the red rose stood tall, showing off its color and beauty. She smiled to herself, admiring the flower's beauty.
"You seem to have control of your powers now, Yukie," said a voice behind her.
She froze; a chill of horror shot down through her spine. Slowly, hesitantly, Yukie turned around to face the eyes of her formally dead cousin.
<Raine's Bar ~ inside>
Sakura finished stacking away the last of the dishes, wiping the sweat off of her brow.
"Next time, I'm not going to listen to Iris," she muttered to herself.
Iris was one of the three new waitresses at the bar. She was the younger sister of a friend that Rinoa knew in Timber. Sakura had at first liked the other woman, but when Iris began to show her true colors, the two had become bitter rivals. She was the one who made Sakura into one of the most desired waitress and bartender, which Sakura despised. She hated being in the spotlight, especially when surrounded by a group of drunken men.
Shaking off bad memories, Sakura grabbed her set of keys to the restaurant and left.
"What did Yukie say to me before she left?" she asked herself, locking the door. "I remember it was something about Alex..."
She had just turned around when an Ultima spell hit her square in the chest, sending her body slamming back into the metallic door. She heard someone scream as a red haze covered her eyes. The last thing before Sakura Wolfe fell to unconsciousness was Yukie being held back by a man with light blue hair and piercing red eyes, disappearing in a grey mist.
<Winhill ~ entrance>
The trip back to town was mostly in silence. The twins had chatted a little but they had stopped as soon as they saw yet another chocobo corpse along the road. Rinoa had tried to cover their eyes, but they refused and continued walking. Even the three month old Sakura remained quiet sleeping. Alex desperately wanted to make conversation but was afraid that he would slip. So, he too walked in silence beside his mother. The look that she kept on giving him was nerve wracking, as if she KNEW that he was the same person she had met five years before as a young boy.
But she can't can she? Is Mom's memory that good? he mentally asked himself.
In his head, Griever decided to not answer.
As they walked through the town, Alex ignored the stares and whispers of the locals while Rinoa and her daughters politely greeted them. Alex knew what the topic of the minute was: him. He calmly glanced back at each person who passed by, and they quickly turned away. Inwardly, he sighed. Geez, why does everyone have to look at me like I'm a freak?
"...Mister Triest, where exactly are you taking us?" Rinoa finally asked to break the silence.
Good question, he thought. "Uh...I guess to Lily's home. If you tell her what's going on, she'll definitely help out." Oh, man, Lily's going to KILL me for this!
"Why?" Phoenix suddenly asked.
Rinoa looked at her daughter in surprise. "Why what, Phoe?"
Alex scratched the back of his head, looking at the ground in embarrassment.
You forgot that they can hear you, Griever replied.
No it just slipped my mind, old man, Alex growled back sarcastically.
Phoenix gazed up at her mother as if she didn't know. "Mister Treist sed dat Miss Lily is goin' to kill him fer something."
"He did?" Rinoa asked incredulously. "How do you know, hon?"
Luna nodded in agreement with her twin. "He just said so, Mommy."
"And he said---" Phoenix was about to say when she was cut off by Alex's rather nervous laughter.
"Ah, kids, they make up so much stuff, don't they, Mo--er, Mrs. Leonhart?" Alex asked, giving a look at his sisters.
Rinoa smiled despite the worry of her husband and their friends. "I guess. Say, how do you know Lily?"
That was a question that he couldn't answer quickly enough. "Um..."
The scent of blood reached his nostrils. His head sharply turned at the direction it was coming from. Rinoa cocked her head curiously as Sakura woke up in her arms. "What's wrong?"
"I smell blood," he replied absentmindedly, walking towards Raine's bar.
"But wait a minute, I don't smell anything," Rinoa said as she and her daughters followed him.
They turned a corner to find Sakura Wolfe lying in a pool of her own blood. Rinoa gasped at the sigh, covering Luna and Phoenix's eyes, as Alex ran towards her limp body, carefully lifting her head. He instinctively cast a Life spell, and his friend's eyes slowly fluttered open, looking around in a dazed manner and blinking away the blood that had covered her face. She slowly turned her head to look at him.
"Ugh...Alex?" she whispered.
"Sh, don't speak," he said to her, brushing away the blood with his gloved hand. His mind was screaming for him to cast Curaga on her, but he simply refused the temptation knowing that she was took weak to handle the impact of the spell.
"Who did this to you?"
Rinoa looked on from a distance, her head snapping up at hearing Alex's name. Too absorbed in watching, the twins peeked out between the cracks of her fingers to see what was going on.
Sakura still stared at Alex, swallowing in a gulp of fresh air. She slowly shook her head, closing her eyes. "I...I don't know. Some...some guy with blue hair...and red eyes. Alex, he had really red eyes..."
Alex slowly let the description sink into his head. It sounded familiar to him, but he wasn't quite sure where to place it. Then he realized that someone was missing.
"Where's Yukie, Sakura?" he demanded.
"That...that guy took her with him," she replied in a soft whisper.
"Dammit," he cursed under his breath. "Think you can stand?"
Alex gently lifted his best friend up, slinging her arm across her shoulders. He looked at Rinoa, seeing in her eyes that she knew the truth. "Mom, can you take Sakura back to Lily's?"
She, surprised, dumbfoundedly nodded and walked over to them. She slowly let Sakura lean on her as Alex let go. She then looked at her twin daughters, signaling them to follow her.
"Why are you all here?" she asked Alex.
"Later...explain..." Sakura murmured.
"Yeah, we'll explain it to you later," Alex repeated. "I'm going back home and help Dad and the others, so be careful."
Rinoa nodded as he sprinted back from where they came. "Oh, and Alex!"
He skidded to a stop, turning around. She smiled at him, "You've grown into a handsome young man."
Alex blinked in confusion for a few seconds then grinned. "Hey, it runs in the family."
"Dammit, why won't these freakin' things just DIE?!?" Seifer yelled in frustration as he hacked down another shadow.
"Why don't you ask them?" Squall calmly replied as he battled against one shadow.
"Hahaha, since when did you have a sense of humor, Leonhart?" Seifer sarcastically retorted back.
The two men were slowly getting pushed back to Squall's home. They didn't know that the shadows had to be killed ten times for there were too many attacking them all at once. Even if one had died, they were too preoccupied to notice.
"Don't this remind you of the time when you an' me were in Centra?" Seifer asked as he took off the head of one. Unfortunately for him, the fallen head had grown back. He cursed to himself.
"What, when we were attacked by those herd of Bombs?" Squall asked, wincing in pain as one shadow managed to dig its nails into his right shoulder. He quickly sliced the Lionheart through its throat and it fell off him. "Oh yeah, I remember that. You kept on tossing them to me."
"Hey, didn't want to hog all the fun, Leonhart," Seifer replied, grinning.
"Whatever," Squall said. "And why are we talking about this?"
"Just to lighten up the mood, man."
"You're starting to sound like Zell."
Both men stopped, their backs pressed against the stone wall of the home. They were both out of breath and tired, not used to the heavy fighting since leaving Garden.
"Now...what?" Seifer asked, panting heavily.
"You...tell me," Squall muttered in reply.
They lowered their gunblades in surrender as the shadows crept closer. Squall gave a sideways glance at his friend.
"Ready for anything, PB."
Before they could move, a voice yelled, "Don't you even THINK of giving in!"
A gust of wind swept through, sending five shadows flying off from the ground. Some had landed on their heads, the sickening crunch of necks being broken echoed in the still air. Others were smashed into the ground, dark violet blood seeping out of their sudden bullet wounds. All in all, this had distracted the feline shadows' attention from their previous prey and frantically searched for their intruder. Squall and Seifer blinked in confusion, wondering what in Hyne's name had changed the tide. Finally they saw their savior reappearing in the middle of the feline shadows, shooting down two more. A young man around seventeen with jet black hair and a jagged scar over his left eye calmly stared back at the shadows as they began circling him. He raised his Exeter in deadly fashion as a warning to them. Squall squinted his eyes to see the young man's face, but he was too far to see clearly. Both men had lowered their gunblades, releasing the grip on the trigger.
"That kid's crazy," Seifer said. "What the hell is he doing?"
Squall felt as if he was being tugged. He glanced down at his hand where the Griever ring was and then back at the young man. He frowned at the sense of familiarity the young man emanated.
"Wait, Seifer," Squall said in a calm voice. "I know this may sound crazy, but just watch."
"Trust me. Watch."
Alex stared coldly at each of the shadows that surrounded him as they hissed in anger. His good eye had changed to a dark amber.
"Don't mess with them," he growled, his free hand reaching over his shoulder. The shadows continued to hiss as he slowly reached for the hilt of his gunblade. "Mess with them, you mess with me."
In one quick flash, he gripped onto the hilt of his gunblade. It appeared at his touch, and he brought it down on the first shadow in front of him. It screeched in pain as it fell to the ground, giving a signal to the others to attack. They pounced upon his body, only to crash into one another. Alex had jumped, letting the gunblade guide him to the shadows' vulnerable points. He attacked left and right with the weapon, firing his Exeter at the same time. His reflexes were fifty times quicker than the normal human, letting him reload his gun at the same time as he swung his gunblade. When a pack of thirty or so shadows tried to attack him from behind, he quickly cast a Flare spell on them and sent them to their deaths. The shadows' sounds were a mixture of fear, death, and anger all at once, creating a chilling symphony of the battle at hand. Alex let his basic instinct settle in, turning him into the demon that had given him the feared name Shion Triest.
The two men watched Alex fight, awed by his deadly accuracy and perception.
"He's good," Seifer managed to utter.
"You're right," Squall added, eyes narrowing in suspicion. His attacks are familiar...where are they from?
"He fights like you, too, only more so," Seifer commented.
Squall snapped his head up in surprise. "What?"
Seifer gestured his head at the fight. "That kid's fighting style reminds me of you when you're executing the Lionheart. Or when you're really pissed off. Ever noticed that?"
Slowly, Squall nodded. "Yeah..."
Alex, unaware of the two older men's suspicions, continued his deadly dance until each and every shadow was dead. Their corpses slowly melted into the earth in a violet mist. He breathed a sigh of relief, releasing the grip of his gunblade as it in turn faded into the surroundings. Hooking his gun back in its holster, he turned around to look at the two men behind him with a relieved smile on his face.
"You guys okay?" he asked.
Seifer rotated his shoulder while Squall put away his gunblade, he replied, "Nothing that a potion can't heal."
Alex nodded and approached the two older men, unafraid. He was well aware that they didn't know who he was and he wanted to keep it that way until the time was right.
"The name's Shion," he greeted them in a friendly manner, his other name second nature to him. "Shion Triest. Mrs. Leonhart ran into me when I was making a stop to town and asked me to see if I can help you guys out."
Squall's eyes narrowed slightly in suspicion again, but he quickly brushed the nagging feeling off. "Are they okay?"
"Did you see a woman with blond hair, a little munchkin that looks exactly like her, and a man that looks like this guy over here with them?" Seifer added.
Alex shrugged, not sure how to answer. "I...uh...well..."
Before he could answer a complete sentence, Alex felt a strong aura above him. His head snapped up towards the sky, eye flickering in between colors. The other two, noticing their stranger's sudden reaction, looked around curiously as the hairs behind their necks began to rise. A strong gust of cold wind swept through the prairie; something that was rather unusual in the area of Winhill. Soon afterward, mocking laughter echoed in the sky as the winds became stronger, the skies darker, and the once lush green grass whiter.
"What the hell?" Seifer muttered, clenching his teeth tightly together as the wind bit into his bare arms. "What is this??"
"I don't know.." Squall murmured back.
Unknown to the two former rivals, Alex's eye was darting back and forth like a kitten trying to focus on its mock prey. He knew the sound of that laughter from anywhere even though it had been a hectic year past when Yukie had been first placed under his care.
"For Hyne's sake, why can't you just stay DEAD?!?" he shouted at the top of his lungs at the winds.
"Oh, staying dead won't be fun tormenting your little circle," the laughing voice taunted. "And you can't hide your name forever, Alexander Leonhart."
Rinoa flinched at the sound of Kirean's voice as she fed Sakura in the guest room of Laguna's old home. It had been an hour since she, Quistis, Laguna, and the children arrive in the home that was occupied by inhabitants who weren't supposed to exist as adults until twenty years from now. It had been a few minutes ago since Sion told the others about the appearance of their enemies. Kenji had taken the news in mutual understanding; Lily took out her anger by "accidentally" breaking the coffee table while Kirean shouted in frustration. In other words, their reactions were normal for them.
"Man, why can't he shut his big mouth?" Sakura Wolfe groaned about her brother's outburst, rolling over to one side.
Rinoa suppressed a giggle as a wave of relief swept through her thoughts, glad that the teenager was still alive. Quistis, who was sitting next to Sakura on the other side of the bed with a child Lily sleeping in her arms, smiled. Luna and Phoenix had also fallen asleep in between, exhausted from the stress and fear of the day.
"Feeling better, Sakura?" Quistis asked in a soft voice so as to not wake up the children.
Rinoa remained silent as she lifted her baby daughter, patting her on the back gently. Sakura Wolfe slowly rolled back to her original position with a hand over her eyes.
"I feel like I've been hit by a truck going on a rampage in Deling," she mumbled. "...Maybe getting slammed into a door makes you feel that way."
She slowly sat up, not realizing that Luna was holding onto the belt loop of her jeans. The teenager heard a tiny yawn from the two year old and froze, biting her lower lip.
Rinoa smiled in mild amusement as she began to hook back on her bra from breast feeding with one hand. "It's okay, Sakura. Those two have had a long day, so they won't wake up for a while."
Sakura nodded with relief and gently pried off Luna's fingers from her belt and got out of bed. She stood still for a moment as a wave of dizziness washed through.
"You lost a lot of blood," Quistis explained. "Personally, I'm surprised you're awake and able to stand."
Sakura managed a small smile and shrugged. "I guess you can say that I'm used to it." She looked around the room as if something or someone was missing. "Where's Laguna?"
"Laguna's resting upstairs, recovering from his wounds," Rinoa answered and closed her eyes as she remembered what her father-in-law looked like when she and her daughters first entered in the home with Sakura. "He hasn't woken up yet, though."
"Oh," Sakura merely responded, unable to think of what to say. Then, a bit hesitantly, she asked, "Is he okay?"
"For the most part, yes," Rinoa replied. "None of his vitals were touched, and Kenji was able to heal him a bit before I came in."
It was Quistis' turn to remain silent, gently stroking her daughter's honey-blonde hair. As they had gotten separated at home, Laguna had taken the responsibility of taking care of his daughter-in-law and granddaughters while getting injured in the process. It was Quistis who carried the older man with her after he had covered for Rinoa's escape as the shadows continued to pursue them. She wondered to herself how her husband was doing. Then a thought came to her.
"You know, Sakura," she asked. Sakura turned around with a questioning look on her face, "how come Lily doesn't look at me?"
Sakura thought for a moment. "...I don't know. I'm not sure how Lily's past really goes 'cuz she doesn't really like to talk about it."
"Does she hate me?"
"Now, I was only half conscious when I came in, so I didn't really get what was going on at the time, but I don't think that Lily hates you," Sakura reassured her. Then she shrugged. "But that's what you get from me. You'd have to ask Alex's sister or Kenji."
"...How are they doing, by the way?"
Sakura sighed, slumping back down on the bed as she looked out of the window. "A lot has happened, Quistis. I don't know where to start. I guess you can say for the most part that everybody's okay. Kenji's a lot quieter than how he used to be, Lily's preoccupied with her job most of the time, Sakura's...well...I guess you can say that she's having a sorta normal life, and Alex is just Alex."
Deciding to change the subject, she stood up and walked towards the window. "He hasn't come back yet, has he?"
Knowing who the teenager was referring to, Rinoa sullenly shook her head. "No...it's been over two hours now."
Sakura put on her best smile as she turned around. "Don't worry. Alex always keeps his word."
Alex growled in anger and frustration as he continued to follow the laughter, not caring that his real name had been revealed. He was so tempted to release his gunblade and let it find the source of the chaos. However, Griever strictly ordered him not to do so.
Alceste has a mind of its own, he explained. If you release them from your hold too often, they will break out of your hold and become uncontrollable to any other human that touches it.
This explanation made Alex even more frustrated than before. He carefully sifted through his memory bank for a spell that would be safe for the two men behind him to handle but would also be powerful enough to knock out his opponent. The other man had apparently read his thoughts and chuckled sinisterly at him.
"Now, I wouldn't do that if I were you," the man said as his voice remained in one area. "You wouldn't want to hurt our little guest, would you?"
A smoky grey mist swirled around a figure who stood on the roof of the home. The mist faded to reveal a man who was slightly older than Alex with hair that was a tad shade darker than Yukie's. He had pale, ghostlike features that stood out under dark clothing. Yet what had frightened Squall and Seifer the most were the man's eyes. They were a deep blood-like crimson without any pupils, eyes that were common with those of the undead. He was grinning maliciously, and Yukie was in his capture. Her aqua blue eyes widened in surprise as she struggled against her cousin's deathlike grip.
"Yukie," Squall heard Alex murmur. He turned to look at him, wondering what the young woman held captive meant to his newly discovered son.
"I thought you'd be more careful than to let my cousin wander by herself, Alex," the man continued as he held his grip.
"Let her go, Suguru," Alex said in a calm yet demanding voice. "She's got nothing to do with this."
"Oh, no, you're wrong, Alex," Suguru replied. "My dear cousin has anything and everything to do with this." His red eyes gleamed in delight. "Now who will you choose, Alex?" He slid out a poison dart shuriken from his sleeve and pressed it against Yukie's jugular. "Yourself or your dear summoner?"
Before Alex could figure out what the other man was talking about, the sensation of pain struck his entire body like fire. He struggled to fight against it and fell to one knee, straining his head around to see both Squall and Seifer engulfed by two shadows with their bodies barely transparent inside.
"Alex, don't worry about me!" Yukie shouted in desperation. "Save yourself!"
Suguru roughly pulled her back, smiling. "You better decide fast, Leonhart, because my pets aren't very patient in your thoughts."
"Shit," Alex cursed to himself as another wave of pain overwhelmed him, sending him to both knees. He could only imagine what hell his father and "uncle" were going through. His vision began to blur. I can't! C'mon, Dad, stay with me!
<Esthar ~ five years in the future>
After her first incident of disappearing, Sakura Leonhart once again dropped her knife, clutching her head in pain. Gene rushed over to her, grabbing her shoulders tightly as she sunk down to the floor.
"Sakura? Sakura!" Gene shouted at her. "C'mon, hang in there!"
Sakura shook her head vigorously as she struggled with the pain pinching her nerves. "...Alex...Dad..."
Holding her close to him, Gene leaned in closer as he heard her words. "What?"
"Alex...and Dad," Sakura muttered. A white aura began to surround her body. "They're...they're in trouble."
<Leonhart home ~ five years in the past>
Alex, wake up!
Alex opened his eye suddenly and looked around for the sound of the voice. All around him, time had stopped. He stared back at his own body, which was still how he thought he was only a few minutes ago. "What the?"
He was about to reenter his body when his sister's voice stopped him. Alex!
He quickly turned around to face Luna as he always had seen her. It looked as if she had never died. "Sis?!? What are you doing here?"
Luna Leonhart stared back at her brother with a calm look in her eyes. Call Griever.
She frowned at him. Don't ask why, stupid! Do you want to die? What do you think Yukie's going to do if you're dead?!?
Call on Griever. He'll be able to help you.
Time resumed in a flash, but Alex no longer felt pain. He let himself succumb to his sorcerer abilities, concentrating on his ancestor within him.
In mere seconds, the devil-like lion appeared at its descendant's command, gathering up the fallen pieces in a blinding white light. Then everything became dark.
AN: Ow, my hands hurt from typing. Maybe that's why I get so many typos when I type too fast ^^;;;