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The Road We Choose – Pt. VII

Author: The Magic Rat
Rating: PG
Pairings: Numerous. Some even make sense.
Warnings: Disturbing imagry.
Word Count: 6472
Website – Ex Libris:  www.winter-wood.net/ex-libris/…
Live Journal: delaese.livejournal.com/profil…

If you are new to the Rabid Tiger story arc, you can find the entire thing here:
rabid-tiger.deviantart.com/gal…

Just start at ‘Porcupine Love’ and go from there.

Disclaimer: All Final Fantasy Seven characters, places and situations are the property of Square Soft/Square Enix and are used without permission and without intent of plagiarism or profit. Metalocalypse, the members of Dethklok, and lyrics to Dethklok songs belong to Brendon Small, Cartoon Network and Turner Music. Copyright for all stories and original characters such as Badger the Roadie is with the author, and may not be published, copied, distributed or archived without the author's prior written consent.

Summary: Rufus and Reeve have an argument, Ryu has a problem, and Aeris is alone.

Author’s notes: If you play the original FFVII game, when you get to the Honeybee Inn, you can peek into two of the rooms, which are occupied. It’s not easy, but if you fuss with the controller a bit you can do it. One is inhabited by Rufus’ dad doing something or other weird while dressed as a king, the second with Reeve’s parents and a mini Cait Sith playing in the bath. And yes, Reeve’s parents were complaining the room was too nice.

Never a dull moment, I tells ya…




It was barely mid-morning. Outside of Midgar, Aeris and Sephiroth waited for Tseng to explore the reactor. Near Cosmo Canyon, Barret and Genesis had just met up with Angeal at the gas station. And in Shinra Manor, Reeve and Rufus were having their first argument.

Reeve was rather surprised Rufus was digging his heels in. Usually Rufus just caved in to whatever Reeve wanted. Sometimes Reeve didn’t even bother to let Rufus know what he was up to, such with branching Shinra Industries into animatronic toys. Most husbands would have had a royal fit, but Rufus had enough faith Reeve to overlook the issue. Reeve in fact had begun to forget that Rufus could be incredibly hard-headed as well as aggressive. Well today Rufus did not treat Reeve to his aggressive side, but he did show off his ability to dig in his heels.

“No,” said Rufus.

Reeve stared at him. “I can’t believe you are choosing now of all times to make an issue of something. I thought you wanted to meet my parents.”

“I do want to meet your parents.”

“Then why are you doing this to me?”

“Because I think you are being unreasonable,” said Rufus.

Ruskin began to fuss, his tiny voice alerting two parents and a large pack of Turks to his esteemed presence, as well as one Charles Offdensen, who still called Shinra Manor home for at least another week. Charles had managed to procure Ruskin for the time being, and was currently pretending he didn’t notice Veld prowling after him like a starving animal.

“I live in a nut house,” said Rufus, watching Charles depart with the baby. “I have ninja accountants stealing my infant.”

“Rufus,” said Reeve, “can we stick to the subject? I want you to meet my parents.”

Rufus turned around. “Your parents are perfectly welcome to come here.”

“Why does it have to be here? Why not the small house by the beach? The one built for two?”

“Because, darling, once your parents and our 18 children arrive, it will be a box of sardines.”

“Rufus, my parents are terrified of wealth and opulence, they have lived their entire lives in a tiny wooden house with a thatch roof. I didn’t have a bedroom; I shared space with my parents until I was six, which is when my father managed to finally finish the nursery he was making out of scrap wood he found in dumpsters.”

“Reeve be reasonable! I cannot pull nearly twenty kids out of preschool and school and daycare, haul them all down to the lake house and jam them into a house literally built to hold two people so they can meet your parents, it’s madness! They can come here, they can stay in the tiny little hut that used to house the gardener.”

“They won’t be comfortable, they’ll be scared to death.”

“And how do you expect the children will feel?!” exclaimed Rufus. “Think about this!”

“Why are you being so bloody hard-headed about this?” snapped Reeve, unwilling to admit that Rufus had a valid point.

“Because until this argument started I had no idea you were ashamed of me!” Rufus shouted. “And I am sick to fucking death of apologizing for who I am! I didn’t think I had to do it with you!”

Reeve backed up, shaking his head as if he had been physically slapped. “What?!”

Everything became oddly quiet, save for the soft scamper of kids, Turks, rock stars, pets, and household staff diving for cover before the parents Really Got Into It. As Charles and Veld suddenly decided that Ruskin really needed a stroll in the garden, Reeve and Rufus faced off like angry animals. Anything could happen, and Reeve dreaded the worst. He’d hurt Rufus, leaned on some wounds that were still oozing, and he knew if he tried to make this a case of who was right and wrong, the relationship would be over. It was hard to look at Rufus and remember that somewhere under the arrogance and occasionally inappropriate behaviour and other antics was a very scared kid who had been locked up and abandoned.

“I’m not ashamed of you,” said Reeve very softly. “I love you.”

Rufus was not placated. There was an icy look in the blue eyes that scared Reeve. “Then tell your damned parents to come here or stay home, as it suits them, but I am not grovelling for their approval and I am not disrupting my family.”

Reeve stepped closer, watching Rufus’ reactions. He’d seen him this angry before, but never at himself, and it was frightening.

“I didn’t mean to hurt you,” said Reeve quietly. “I just… was thinking too much about my parents’ needs and not enough about our needs as a whole. And then when I realized you were right I just… got mad. I want everything to work with them.”

Rufus was hurt, and angry, and in no mood to be mollified. “Well darling after you have appeased them that the hideous monster you married only eats children on special occasions I’m sure it will be fine.”

He left in a swirl of expensive cologne and white vicuna. Reeve sighed heavily, hanging his head. Then, after a few moments, he decided to go after his husband. He caught up with Rufus in one of their three music rooms and gently captured him. Holding him from behind, he spoke softly into his ear.

“I am not ashamed of you, and you have nothing to be sorry for. I truly did not mean to hurt you; I was just being selfish. And you told me yourself you don’t eat children because they give you gas.”

“Reeve, after what you just pulled, don’t even try to joke with me.”

“I didn’t ‘pull’ anything! I just want my parents to be happy!”

“And I wanted mine to give me a heads up that I was nailing my brother. We all have issues. But I never thought you would take it out on me.”

“Rufus…” said Reeve quietly, “I’m not taking anything out on you because I have nothing to take out. I’m happy with you. I love you. And you promised you’d let me get you pregnant again sometime in the future. I’m looking forward to it.”

“Reeve I am frightfully angry right now…”

“What can I do to make it better?”

“Admitting that idea you had about the lake house and the eighteen kids was a bad one would be a start.”

“I’ll admit it if you admit you can see my point.”

“No I can’t see your point because it all boils down to you not wanting mummy and daddy to know you married big bad Rufus Shinra.”

Reeve sighed loudly and turned Rufus around, looking into the cold blue eyes. “I want them to meet you. I want them to meet the kids. I want them to see me married and happy.”

“Why didn’t you tell them you married me?” asked Rufus softly.

“Not because I didn’t want them to know I love you. But because it’s an eight mile hike to the nearest neighbour who has a phone.”

Rufus seemed to process that thought a while. “Reeve?”

“Yes?”

“How the hell did these people end up making you?”

“That is a question for the ages.” Reeve chanced a soft kiss. “Rufus you are more dear to me than I can express. And if I made you feel like a dirty secret, I’m sorry. It’s just that all I could think about was how they would react to the staff and the Turks and the house and the chocobos and the stables and… and I became wrapped up in how to make them comfortable without thinking how this would hurt you. I’m sorry. And to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure they ever heard of you.”

Rufus pulled back, blue eyes enormous. “Bullshit.”

Reeve laughed. “No, I’m quite serious. There is a very good chance they will have no idea who you are.”

“Blasphemy! How could anyone on this planet not know who I am?”

“Rufus my love until about ten years ago they did not believe in the existence of the car.”

Rufus stared at his lover, his head slowly cocking to one side in utter disbelief. “You’re serious.”

“Yes. Back when your father was still alive, I rented them a room at the Honeybee Inn…”

Rufus’ head went further to one side, and the expression on his face spoke of utter astonishment. Reeve kept talking.

“It was for their anniversary and according to the staff…”

“Reeve you ARE aware that the Honeybee Inn is a whorehouse.”

“Well not technically. Anyway I rented them a room…”

Rufus shook his head. “I’m sorry, I am not going to hear anything over the thought that you rented your parents a room in a whorehouse, but you don’t want them to meet me in my house.”

“It’s not a whorehouse! It’s a private club!”

“Where people go to rent friends for a few hours, yes I get it.”

“The point is,” said Reeve, “they complained to the staff the entire time that the place was too nice for them because it had a tub and an indoor toilet.”

Rufus slapped his hands over his face. “Oh good grief.”

“So you see my point!” said Reeve, desperate to gain a little ground on this matter. But Rufus would not be moved.

“Reeve with all due respect to your parents they are going to have to learn to deal with the situation, because I will NOT for the rest of my life pretend to be something other than what I am for their comfort. You married Rufus Shinra; corporate monster whose last name is a dirty word. I am not an on-line porn site you can hide when mommy and daddy show up, I am your husband, and furthermore – I AM THE MOTHER OF YOUR DAMNED CHILD!”

Reeve was beaten and he knew it. Rufus had all the cards in this debate and he would use them, especially the big card, being one Ruskin Tuesti-Shinra. Reeve backed up, conceding defeat.

“All right, yes, you are right, I was wrong. In that case would it be possible to furnish a ground-floor room in a manner that will make them more comfortable?”

Rufus looked thoughtful, and for a moment, Reeve feared they were gearing up for round two. But that was not where his mind was at.

“Ground floor?”

“Yes,” said Reeve.

“Are you sure you want them on the ground floor?”

“I think they would be happier on the ground floor, yes. Why?”

“Well it’s haunted.”

Reeve made the sort of face that, in cartoons, would be accompanied by the shriek of a chimp.

“I’m sorry, did you say ‘haunted’?”

“I did say ‘haunted’, yes,” said Rufus.

Suddenly the deck of cards was in the other hand. “ARE YOU HONESTLY TRYING TO AVOID HAVING MY PARENTS HERE BY TELLING ME THE GROUND FLOOR IS HAUNTED?!”

“NO I’M NOT BUT I WISH I’D THOUGHT OF IT!”

“Who says the ground floor is haunted?!”

“Everyone in this bloody house who has tried to spend the night there!”

Reeve crossed his arms. “You’re being unreasonable.”

“Fine. If you want to put your aged parents in a haunted chamber, it is fine with me. I shall decorate it in whatever manner pleases them best, and even rip out all the plumbing and install an outhouse among my prized black roses for their convenience. Is there anything else I can provide for them? A rooster? Pigs? A whittling chair?”

“I am going to slap you.”

“Ooh, kinky, does that mean we get to have make-up sex?”

Reeve stared at him, crossing his arms. “It’s really haunted?”

“Reeve if I was trying to avoid having your parents here, don’t you think I could lie just a little better than that?”

“Yes I do, that’s why I’m concerned.”

“Well it’s haunted. But if they don’t mind, then I don’t.”

Reeve stepped closer. “And no jokes about roosters and whittling chairs?”

“Not a one, I swear on my Turks. But you know we still have a problem, my love.”

“We have a few,” said Reeve. “Namely explaining to them that you and I really are married, and that Ruskin really is ours.”

“Those are the two biggest ones, yes. I figure the animatronic talking cat with the megaphone will be easier. Reeve – if your parents are so bloody technologically challenged they can’t work a phone, where did you come from?”

“Well believe it or not – my great grandfather is one of the three men who invented the mako engine. He then sold the idea to a fat red-haired man for a plot of land.” Reeve placed the tip of his finger on the end of Rufus’ nose. “So if my great-grandfather had been a better business man, *I* would own most of the world and you would have grown up sleeping in a nursery made out of dumpster-wood.”

“That would have never happened.”

“Why not?”

“I’d have killed myself.”

Reeve laughed, then leaned close to kiss him. “Still love me?

“Of course I love you, I’m just… a little shaken up.”

Reeve stroked the soft red hair, then pulled Rufus close, holding him. “I am not ashamed of you, Rufus. I would not be here if I was. I love you.”

“All right. I believe you. So let us go pick out a room for your parents and ensure it is done in a manner suitable to their tastes.”

“All right.”

They shared a few more kisses, then stepped out of the music room and into a hall, just in time to observe Pickles and Lukis engaged in a little kissing and nibbling of their own. Before the pair had a chance to react, Rufus had snatched up Lukis. Reeve scooped up Pickles.

“Mine squeaks,” said Rufus, as Lukis expressed his displeasure at being treated like a kitten with a series of adorably indignant noises.

“Mine yodels,” said Reeve.

“I AHM NAHT A PUPPY-DAHG!” Pickles complained.

Lukis poked at his glasses with one finger. “My world, welcome to it.”

Nathan appeared in the hall, walking over to where Rufus and Reeve were mortifying Pickles and Lukis.

“Are you going to do something about this?” asked Pickles.

Nathan left briefly, then returned with a camera, taking their photos.

“That’s great, Nat’an, thank a laht.”

Charles appeared just then, holding Ruskin who was loudly informing the entire house his nappy was full, his belly was empty, and he cared not at all for the situation and demanded it be reversed immediately. Rufus released Lukis to take his distraught infant, while Charles walked over to Nathan, looking up at him.

“I have a conference call with the record label executives at five pm. I expect to be pregnant by then.”

“Okay,” growled Nathan.

“What about me?!” complained Pickles.

“I think getting you pregnant is Darren’s job,” said Rufus. “But if you like, my husband can make a fully anatomically-correct version of you.”

“Can it play the drums?” asked Nathan.

“DOOD! Naht cool!”

***---***

“So what did you find?” asked Sephiroth, as Tseng untied his wife.

Tseng gave him an annoyed look as he freed Aeris and helped her to sit up.

“Nothing,” he said. “No one has been there in years.”

“Well that can’t be!” said Aeris. “We smelled the mako, both of us! We saw the green light, we saw the smoke!”

“I don’t know what to tell you,” said Tseng. “It hasn’t been used in years.”

“I want a look inside,” said Sephiroth.

Tseng nodded, helping Aeris to her feet. Together the three approached the reactor, following a badly overgrown path to the building. The base was surrounded by brambles and small trees, and the door was rusted and hanging off on hinge. The only indication that the reactor had ever been in use were a few small dead spots dotted around the area. Aeris looked up at Sephiroth, seeing that he was as puzzled as she.

“We smelled the mako,” she quietly. “We saw the light.”

“Yes,” he said softly, slowly drawing his sword. “And I must admit I’m rather glad I have you here to prove I’m not delusional.”

Tseng and Aeris watched as Sephiroth slowly walked up the stairs to the old reactor, sword in his left hand, his right hand reaching out to take hold of the door and pull it open. It came free of its remaining hinge and hit the walkway with a resounding boom; rust and dust rising up from it. A small deer bolted out of the reactor and fled, dodging past the humans.

“Something funny is going on around here!” said Aeris. She looked at Tseng. “What’s going on here?”

“How should I know?”

“Because you’re a Turk, and Turks know everything.”

Sephiroth looked to Tseng. “What do you know about this reactor?”

“It was too far from any settlement to be profitable and the mako reserves under it were tainted.”

“Tainted how?” asked Sephiroth.

“There’s a layer of black-rock further up the mountain. The toxins leak down and combine with the mako, poisoning it. It was one of the chief causes of the geo-stigma outbreak a few years back.”

“And that is all you know about this reactor.”

“That is all I know. Rufus deactivated it the day his father was killed. It was not only unprofitable, it was a toxic nightmare. There was no reason, either ecological or financial, to keep it running.”

“How about scientific?”

“The only reactor involved in the biological experiments was at Nibelheim.”

“Any history on this one?” asked Sephiroth.

“The usual,” said Tseng. “Accidents, poor working conditions, worker death… all the reactors under the Old Man were death traps.”

“You don’t think it’s haunted, do you?” asked Aeris.

“Not in the traditional sense,” said Sephiroth.

He stepped into the reactor. Aeris looked at Tseng.

“What does he mean by that?”

“No idea.” He looked at Aeris. She looked like hell. She was pale and thin, and her eyes were circled in black. It was not so hard to believe she had been possessed by a monster. He found himself smiling as she looked back at him in confusion.

“What?” she asked.

“I was just wondering what you were going to do with that demon skin.”

She took his hand and rose up onto her toes to kiss him. “That is a secret. And… I’m so sorry, Tseng. I know there are times when you’ve probably wanted to wring my neck but I would never do anything so hideous to you or the kids.”

“It’s all right,” he said quietly. “We know it wasn’t your fault. I forgive you.”

“It’s myself I can’t forgive,” she said quietly. “You’ve done so much for me. And this was just one more slap in the face.”

“Aeris… if there had not been a demon possessing you, I swear I would have let Veld dine on your flesh.”

“Lovely image, thank you. With fava beans and a nice chianti I suppose.”

“How did you guess?”

“Because he hates me. He has always hated me. In fact he once told me that if he had his way I would be hanging upside-down over a vat of acid.”

“It’s just his way of saying he’s mad about you.”

“Oh he’s mad about me all right,” said Aeris. “The way he foams at the mouth when he sees me proves it.”

“Just don’t have any more affairs with demonically-possessed men. Or any other men.”

“Fine,” said Aeris. “I’ll keep my pants on if you promise not to get yourself killed again.”

“Deal. Let’s go see what the Silver Tiger is up to.”

They stepped inside, and paused. Aeris was no Turk, but she’d been around them enough to know when they thought something stunk. And Tseng’s body-language told her that he thought something was very, very wrong. She paused, letting him get ahead of her, then followed as he prowled silently into the old reactor. It was silent as a tomb, save for an eerie tinkling noise, and a strange, unidentifiable noise, almost like a cough….

For the first time in her life, Aeris heard her husband scream.

“SEPH!”

He broke into a run, and Aeris chased after him, but she stopped dead when she saw what had disturbed Tseng. Sephiroth was dangling from a steel beam, struggling weakly, his feet at least two feet above the floor. There was blood everywhere, and wrapped around his neck was a barbed chain, slowly cutting deeper and deeper into his flesh.

“Take the masamune and cut the chain!” Tseng yelled, moving himself under Sephiroth in an attempt to take the weight of the great warrior off his throat.

“You can’t pick him up!” she cried.

“Neither can you! Now cut the damn chain!”

Aeris bent to pick up the masamune, and was stunned at the sheer weight of the thing. Sephiroth carried it one-handed, and she could scarcely lift it. But there was no time to complain; if Sephiroth hung much longer, the serrated chain would cut off his head. As Tseng struggled to support Sephiroth’s weight, she struggled to get onto a box to be able to reach high enough to strike at the chain.

“Aeris, hurry!”

Tseng was shaking visibly. He was not a weak man, but six hundred pounds was a lot for anyone. Aeris reached into herself to find every ounce of strength she could, raising the masamune, and striking at the chain. There was a shower of sparks, and it began to give, but she would need one more hit.

“Did it do anything?” asked Tseng.

“Once more and he’s down!” she said.

She hoisted the great sword once more, feeling the muscles in her arms threaten to give way from the sheer weight. No wonder none but Sephiroth could wield this blade; no one else on the planet had the strength. Raising it up, she clumsily swatted at the chain once more. There was another shower of sparks, and the chain snapped. Sephiroth’s full weight landed on Tseng, and for a brief moment she feared they were both dead. Clutching the sword in both hands, shaking with emotion, her brown eyes huge, she managed to squeak one little word.

“Honey?”

“I’m fine,” he said, his voice tight with pain. “Get the chain off his neck.”

She hopped off of the box and was about to set down the sword, when she heard an ominous boom somewhere deep in the reactor. She froze, listening as it came again.

“We have to get him out of here,” she said.

Tseng managed to get out from under Sephiroth and to his feet. “I’ll grab one hand, you grab the other, and we pull.”

She put the sword down on Sephiroth’s body and grabbed one gloved hand. Together they pulled, dragging him out of the reactor, his head flung back, the serrated chain glinting in the blood about his throat. They managed to get him outside and on the grass just as there came a third resounding ‘boom!’, and suddenly there was an enormous puff of greenish smoke from the top of the reactor. Slowly the smoke dissipated, the stench faded, and all was silent again.

“Is he dead?” Aeris asked, staring in horror at the mutilations around Sephiroth’s white throat.

“I don’t think so. I’m going to get the chain off while you heal, okay?”

She nodded. “What happened? Did you see?”

“No. I just saw him hanging. I don’t…” Tseng pulled at the chain, then froze.

“What is it?” asked Aeris.

“It… it’s fighting back. Every time I try to pull the chain off it tightens. If I keep this up it will kill him.”

“It’s alive?!”

“I don’t know if it’s alive, but it’s reacting. We’re in over our heads, we need the cavalry. Keep healing. I’m calling Veld.”

“Not Rufus?”

“I think Rufus is stressed enough right now without me calling to tell him he has a haunted reactor that attacked Sephiroth. I’m also calling Yazoo because we need muscle.”

Aeris nodded and kept focusing her healing powers on Sephiroth, even though she didn’t think it was doing any good. At best she was slowing the bleeding to a bare trickle, but he was still bleeding, and the sight of his green eyes staring up at nothing as the chain bit into his throat was almost more than she could stand. He was breathing, but it was laboured, and when she dared to touch the chain it tightened ever so slightly, like a petulant snake. She felt an urge to just angrily grasp it and tear it from his throat, but that might do a great deal more harm than good.

Aeris knew she had done some bad things in her life; she didn’t want making Zack a single parent to be one of them.

***---***

Ryu was a scientist. He believed in facts and scientific method and tested theory. He did not believe in ghosts or spooks or hauntings, and the only monsters he believed in were man-made. So he was finding it rather stressful and frightening to be seeing things.

The first thing he had seen was in the room of an elderly patient. He was certain he had seen the woman’s dead husband standing beside her bed just hours before she died. But how could that be? The man was gone, and had been for weeks. He tried to tell himself he was just tired, and for a while he believed it. But then he saw a woman who was in for a health check. She was getting ready to become pregnant with her first child, and he was sure he saw a pair of little girls chasing after her. They clearly were not real, and they couldn’t be ghosts, so what were they? They would point at him and giggle, and when he drew closer they would flee. No one else ever seemed to see them, however.

Then there was Yazoo, Andy’s beautiful and lethal lover. Yazoo walked in a swirl of ghosts, all trying desperately to get his attention, all trying to take him someplace or other, but for what reasons, Ryu did not know. Clearly Yazoo did not see them. Or did he? Sometimes Ryu swore he saw him move out of the way of something that wasn’t really there. Were they all cracking up of late? He’d never seen ghosts before. Not until Zack arrived.

Tea. The only possible solution to all this spectral nonsense was tea.

So Ryu stood in the coffee room, dipping a bag of good Oolong into a cup of hot water, when Yazoo appeared. This time the children swarming around him were quite real. In fact he would swear the oldest looked a great deal like the afore-mentioned Zack Fair. Much to Ryu’s utter dismay, Yazoo gave him a stroller with two babies in it.

“I have to go,” said Yazoo. “Something’s happened. There was no one else to mind the children so I brought them up to see their father.”

The last time Ryu had been this scared, three First Classes were chasing him down the hall. “But I know nothing about babies! And their father is unconscious!”

“Andy breaks for lunch in ten minutes, he’ll come get them,” said Yazoo.

“But..!”

“Tell Andy I will be home later.”

“But you…!”

Then Yazoo left, leaving the somewhat fragile little geneticist in charge of two toddles, a small child, and their big sister. Ryu watched him go, eyes large, still holding his tea bag in one hand. Then he cleared his throat and set the bag aside. Ten minutes. Well surely he could amuse four little ones for ten minutes. Hands behind his back, hair dangling like a pair of antennae, Ryu leaned forward to face the little girl, who was staring at him as if he was the largest cockroach she had ever seen.

“Hello. What’s your name?”

She and the second oldest child screamed bloody murder, grabbed the stroller and ran. Ryu chased after them.

“Come back! I’m responsible for you!”

“GET AWAY FROM ME OR I’LL TELL MY MOMMY!”

“But I’m not going to hurt you! Yazoo asked me to…!”

Miki whirled around and, just like Mommy and Daddy had taught her, drove a perfectly aimed fist right into his diaphragm. Ryu dropped like a bag of dirty laundry, lying on the floor struggling to breathe as Miki and her siblings escaped. He was not appeased in the least when the two little spectral girls ran up to point and giggle at him. After a few moments, he was carefully picked up by an orderly.

“Professor, are you all right?”

“No I am not all right! I’ve been assaulted by a little girl! I’m both injured and humiliated, and giving serious thought to either becoming homosexual, or performing a vasectomy on myself!”

“Well it better be the vasectomy, because thanks to your doppelgänger, being gay is no guarantee against children.”

“Then I would like pair of scissors, a big box of Band-Aids and a bottle of rum. Who was the rotten little Amazon, anyway?”

“Miki Fair, daughter of Zack Fair and Sephiroth.”

“I thought I recognized the hair…”

The orderly helped Ryu to sit in the coffee room, then went chasing after Miki and her siblings. Ryu rubbed his stomach and worked to steady his breathing. He was still sitting when Tifa walked in.

Ah yes, Miss Tifa Lockheart, friend of Zack. If he was thirty years younger… ah who the hell was he kidding? If he was thirty years younger he’d stare at her in terror and squeak.

“I came by to invite you to a party,” she said, smiling. “You’ve done so much for Zack…”

He accepted the invitation and looked at it. A party? He didn’t think he’d ever been to one. At least not as an adult.

“It’s a Halloween party!” she said brightly.

He handed her back the invitation. “Thank you, Miss Lockheart, but no. I try to avoid parties where I could be mistaken for part of the horror-décor.”

She accepted the invitation, big brown eyes filled with sympathy. “Oh professor I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…”

“You didn’t mean to hurt me, you were trying to be kind. I understand. And trust me I believe you, and I appreciate the gesture. But I think I’m better off staying here.”

“I’m so sorry, professor. It’s so unfair.”

“What’s fair?” he asked, carefully standing up to cross the floor to get his tea. “It’s not fair children are hurt while some people have no children to love. It’s not fair some people eat from gold dishes while others starve. It’s not fair we still look for reasons to separate people into categories of who is worthy and who is not.”

“But you didn’t do those horrible things, and it’s not fair you have no friends and no home!”

Ryu picked up his tea and sipped it. “Please, Miss Lockheart, I already have Genesis trying to find me a man, I do not need you finding me a home.”

“Well do you want a man?”

“I can’t say I have ever felt the need for one, but that does not seem to stop him.”

“Well… keep the invitation,” said Tifa. “Just in case you change your mind.”

“I’ll think about it,” said Ryu.

A form appeared in the doorway. Another ghost, Ryu thought wearily. Where were they all coming from? Maybe he was just… not well. He would have to ask someone about it. The boy before him was endlessly pretty, dressed in his floor-length lace skirts, his face painted dead white in the manner of ages past, the reddish-brown eyes blinking at him. So very pretty. So very tragic. So very dead. He was splashed with blood. It stained his face, soaked his skirts, and left trails that slowly faded behind him when he walked.

Then the ghost took Tifa’s hand, and she turned to look at him.

“Oh there you are!” she said. “Come on, let’s go see Zack.”

“Can you see him?!” asked Ryu, shocked.

Tifa looked at Ryu, eyes large. Slowly one eyebrow kept up her brow.

“Yes. This is Azurea, he’s Vincent’s grandson. Azurea, this is Professor Ryu, he’s helping Zack.”

“Pleased to meet you.”

“The same,” said Ryu.

“We’ll see you again soon,” said Tifa. She took Azurea’s hand, not seeming to see the cold sticky blood clinging to it. “Come on.”

They hurried off to see Zack, Azurea trailing swaths of blood as he walked. He was the murdered dead, passing himself off as the living, and apparently successfully. But why? How? And how was he even able to see these things?

Ryu glanced down at the cup of oolong in his hand. He dumped the hot liquid into the sink, and began making himself a cup of mint.

***---***

It was not long before the “cavalry” arrived; Yazoo and Loz pulled up on matching motorcycles, clad in their black leathers, looking as they had long ago. Yazoo parked his bike and dismounted, hurrying to Sephiroth’s side, staring down at him. Moments later Loz was as well, his lower lip already beginning to quiver. After a few moments, Yazoo raised his head to look at his brother.

“Don’t cry, Loz.”

Loz wiped at his eyes with the back of one hand, sniffling. Overheard they heard the unmistakeable sound of a Shinra helicopter, which landed close by. Moments later Rude appeared, called from his assignment in Wutai. Then Elena and Veld stepped out, followed by Yuffie. It was odd to see her in the black uniform and realize their little ninja materia thief had grown up to be… well… something not terribly different. But she’d kept the headband and the shuriken. Yuffie ran over to Aeris, then skidded to a halt as she saw the bloodied mess on the ground.

“What happened?”

“We don’t know,” said Tseng. “We can’t get it off. Every time we so much as touch it, the thing tightens.  We’re afraid that if we try it will cut his head right off.”

Tseng straightened up and faced Veld, following his first instinct to let the older and more experienced Turk take charge. Veld looked around, assessing the scene before making his decision.

“Aeris!” he snapped, and she jumped, facing him, her eyes huge. She expected to be dressed down, but instead he simply shot orders. There would be time for telling her what he thought of her later.

“Stay with Sephiroth and do what you can for him. Yuffie, stay with Aeris. Keep guard and bring her the medical supplies from the helicopter. Elena, I want you scouring this whole area for anything that looks like secret entrances. Tseng, Rude, come with me. Yazoo, Loz, go in through the roof. And be careful.”

“Hey!” said Loz indignantly. “How come you’re giving orders?”

Yazoo rolled his eyes. “Come along, Loz.”

“Okay…”

Aeris watched as Tseng and Veld went into the reactor, followed by Rude. Elena went off to scout the area, searching for any secret entrances. Loz and Yazoo went to the top of the reactor, and entered through a hole on the roof. Overhead the grey and wet day had turned to clear skies and brilliant sunlight. Aeris looked down at Sephiroth, hating the thin trail of blood that crossed his lips and stained his white flesh, and hating more the ghastly wound about his throat, and the chain slowly eating its way into his neck.

“Yuffie,” said Aeris, “check and see if they have any Halcinol. I don’t think it would be a good thing if Sephiroth suddenly came up fighting. I think that chain will tear him to bits.”

Yuffie ran off to get the medical kit, returning with it in a few moments.

“Glad to see you still alive,” said Yuffie. “We were all sure Veld or Rufus would have had you killed by now.”

“It still may happen,” she said softly. “And for what it’s worth, I’m sorry.”

“Aeris, I stole the entire party’s materia and ended up getting my girlfriend tied upside-down to a giant statue. All you did was have kinky sex with a demon while your husband was undead and catch the wildest STD in history. We all do dumb shit.”

Aeris smiled. “Thanks Yuffie.”

“No problem.” Yuffie carefully injected Sephiroth with the Halcinol. “There. Now nothing left to do but keep him quiet and wait.”

They sat together, Aeris focussing her powers on keeping Sephiroth from bleeding to death, even though she knew it was a losing battle. Drop by drop, it was leaking away, and every time his body tried to regenerate, the chain cut deeper. Time drifted on, and Aeris, who was already not in a good way, found she was becoming exhausted.

“Yuffie I can’t keep this up. Go to the helicopter and radio for help. Sephiroth is dying and my power is waning.”

Yuffie nodded and ran off to the helicopter to call for help. Neither she nor anyone else came back.
The Road We Choose – Pt. VII

Author: The Magic Rat
Rating: PG
Pairings: Numerous. Some even make sense.
Warnings: Disturbing imagry.
Word Count: 6472
Website – Ex Libris: [link]
Live Journal: [link]

If you are new to the Rabid Tiger story arc, you can find the entire thing here:
[link]

Just start at ‘Porcupine Love’ and go from there.

Disclaimer: All Final Fantasy Seven characters, places and situations are the property of Square Soft/Square Enix and are used without permission and without intent of plagiarism or profit. Metalocalypse, the members of Dethklok, and lyrics to Dethklok songs belong to Brendon Small, Cartoon Network and Turner Music. Copyright for all stories and original characters such as Badger the Roadie is with the author, and may not be published, copied, distributed or archived without the author's prior written consent.

Summary: Rufus and Reeve have an argument, Ryu has a problem, and Aeris is alone.

Author’s notes: If you play the original FFVII game, when you get to the Honeybee Inn, you can peek into two of the rooms, which are occupied. It’s not easy, but if you fuss with the controller a bit you can do it. One is inhabited by Rufus’ dad doing something or other weird while dressed as a king, the second with Reeve’s parents and a mini Cait Sith playing in the bath. And yes, Reeve’s parents were complaining the room was too nice.

Never a dull moment, I tells ya…
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:iconphoneix-faerie:
Phoneix-Faerie Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist

Sorry for the delay in reviews – real life ate me and I’ve been really busy and stressed, and then as I tried to catch up there were just so many fics that I fell really behind.  But today I’m making a concentrated effort to catch up at least some of the way, and once that’s done it’ll be easier to get it all done!

Apologies out of the way, so glad to be back in this verse.  Ruskin is adorable, and the argument was really interesting – you can strongly see both points of view.  As always some great lines, especially with everyone diving for cover, and Reeve’s explanation, and how you write conversation so easily.  It’s been almost a year and I’ve really missed these fics!  So many ghosts, poor Sephiroth with the nearly-getting-strangled! You really do feel for Ryu, and lots of interesting things happening.  Such an ominous ending as well.  I hope he’s okay!

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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2014

MISSED YOU! I was getting worried wondering where you were! Don't scare me like that - I *do* notice when you are not around!


Muahahahaha... more soon!

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:iconphoneix-faerie:
Phoneix-Faerie Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
you're welcome! :hug:awww! So glad that I was missed, thank you! :cuddle: *hugs*
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2014
Hug 
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:iconphoneix-faerie:
Phoneix-Faerie Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:cuddle:
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:iconsikesaner:
SikeSaner Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Reeve made the sort of face that, in cartoons, would be accompanied by the shriek of a chimp.

I am picturing this. It's pretty spectacular.

“I AHM NAHT A PUPPY-DAHG!” Pickles complained.

Of course not! Puppies typically don't have tentacles.

Nathan appeared in the hall, walking over to where Rufus and Reeve were mortifying Pickles and Lukis.

“Are you going to do something about this?” asked Pickles.

Nathan left briefly, then returned with a camera, taking their photos.


claps

He broke into a run, and Aeris chased after him, but she stopped dead when she saw what had disturbed Tseng. Sephiroth was dangling from a steel beam, struggling weakly, his feet at least two feet above the floor. There was blood everywhere, and wrapped around his neck was a barbed chain, slowly cutting deeper and deeper into his flesh.

Oh man, ouch...

Yuffie nodded and ran off to the helicopter to call for help. Neither she nor anyone else came back.

Oh shit. Hell yeah cliffhangers!
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2013
Hee! I love them, I does!
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:iconwerehere101:
werehere101 Featured By Owner May 26, 2013
Shhh I'm :icondemyxluvswaffles: in disguise and I've been dying of legionella for the past two years-- And STALKING THIS FANFIC OMFGHDHXYSYRSYTCJGCHRZYCJVKVHSYCI KGJGK :iconexplosionplz:Last thing I remember that I read Rufus had a baby AND NOW SEPHIROTH AND ZACK ARE CLOSE TO DEATHOMFG MAGICRAT MY FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERLINGS
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner May 26, 2013
:: Cuddles you tight! :: I'm so sorry! It's okay! There will be a new chapter up soon! I promise! Don't explode, little waffle-lover!
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:iconlady-avalon:
Lady-Avalon Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013
I do not like all the bad things going on. Not one bit B|
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013
Hugs.
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:iconbaladyna:
Baladyna Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013
Hi, ehm I have an offtopic question. How old are exactly people in Rabbid Tiger? I was bored, so I tried to figure it out but I failed.

Anyway thank you for new chapter. I hope things for Seph's family get better soon :)
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013
I don't really know. Cloud was 21 in FFVII, Seph was thirty, Vincent was 57... so add about 12 years to that.
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:iconbkay3:
bkay3 Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2013
love it. keep em coming. =)
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2013
:D Will do.
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:iconmoonbaydesigns:
moonbaydesigns Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2013   Traditional Artist
The murdered dead you say... I'm listening
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2013
Muahahahahahaha...
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:iconarkiel-pixie:
Arkiel-Pixie Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hmmmmm.................. Sephiroth said "Not haunted in the traditional sense." And the mako (read afterlife/theforce/sourceofallthingsliving) is tainted.

I smell bugshit crazy explosions of plot soon.
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013
Sorry I think that was actually me...
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:iconarkiel-pixie:
Arkiel-Pixie Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
OH GAWD THE INHUMANITY! *dies*
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013
Pokes carefully with a stick...
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:iconarkiel-pixie:
Arkiel-Pixie Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Blurps strawberry rainbows
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2013
Screams and runs away.
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:iconarkiel-pixie:
Arkiel-Pixie Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
hehehehe, gets them every time.
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:iconfetherhdsfanfic:
fetherhdsfanfic Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
OH...the fricken suspense is KILLING me...and I feel so sorry for Ryu...it totally sucks to be him. Eagerly awaiting more!!
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013
More soon love!

BTW - sorry I've been a bad friend and not kept up on your fics.
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:iconfetherhdsfanfic:
fetherhdsfanfic Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
No apology necessary....My fics are long convoluted things...well except maybe "To Race the Wild Wind" You are busy and I totally understand. I was not aware that you had not read them....I just figured you did not like them and were too polite to say so. :) Which would be okay...not everyone likes them and that fact does not really bother me!! :hug: you are a good friend in all of the ways that it really counts!
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013
No if I didn't like them and was too polite to say so I would just comment on the aspects of the fic I found good, like "Oh wonderful dialogue interation!" or some such. I never tell anyone, friend or foe, their stuff is crap because everyone has something they do well, and if I DID think it was utter drek I would just say something like "I noticed you did this here, I was wondering if maybe it would not have been better to try option B?"

I never just ignore friends. It's just that right now I'm so stressed I can't settle to read a long fic.
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:iconfetherhdsfanfic:
fetherhdsfanfic Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I totally understand Ratty. This is not a big deal to me. Life is giving you a rough ride right now and you have more important things to concentrate on. If/when you do read them I DO value your opinion...but my friendship to you certainly does NOT hinge on whether you have read my fics or not or whether you review them if you do. I offer my friendship because I like you for you. ;)
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013
::Huggles.:: I swear as soon as life gets over being REALLY stupid instead of average stupid, I will look at then and give you my honest opinion.
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:iconfetherhdsfanfic:
fetherhdsfanfic Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:hug: Things will get better...then we'll PARTY :party: like there is no tomorrow!!
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2013
YES!!
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:iconvinvalenwind:
Vinvalenwind Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Dang, this just keeps getting gooder and gooder! I have a few favorite speculations (especially concerning Ryu) but will keep 'em under my hat until I see if I was right of not!
AWESOME chapter!!
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013
Ooh like what? Curious rodents want to know!
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:iconvinvalenwind:
Vinvalenwind Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I'll note ya! :D
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013
Kinky wench!
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:iconvinvalenwind:
Vinvalenwind Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Heh...pot, meet kettle.
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013
:D
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:iconilovwinning:
ilovwinning Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013
OH MOY GOSH! MORE PUHLLLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I love Ryu. :) :) :) :) :)

OH! I had a funny dream where I was at work and then you showed up there and I was the only one who knew who you were. It wasn't funny ha-ha but I woke up and I'm like "Nah, never happen."
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013
More soon!
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:iconilovwinning:
ilovwinning Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013
:iconherotimeplz:
Reply
:icondethklokbabe:
Dethklokbabe Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
LOVED IT!!!!!! Can't wait for the next chapter!
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013
Thanks love!
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:iconshadowhaloedangel:
ShadowHaloedAngel Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013  Student General Artist
Awesome as ever, I can't wait to hear more about what's going on with the reactor, and I'm sure you're not going to let Sephiroth die. I do love Ryu, though, and all of them. The fight between Reeve and Rufus was very well handled, great job as ever :)
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013
Thanks love.
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:iconshadowhaloedangel:
ShadowHaloedAngel Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013  Student General Artist
Always welcome
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:iconriverotter7:
riverotter7 Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
AAUUUUUUGH!!!!! (forgive the scream) Great chapter Love, but now you've me on the edge of my seat wondering who or what is in that reactor.

I understand about Dr. Ryu. Some days I see them all too. You do too if I'm remembering correctly. :heart::huggle:
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013
Sometimes. Not often. I feel them more than see them.
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:iconsparklinburgndy:
SparklinBurgndy Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
“I have a conference call with the record label executives at five pm. I expect to be pregnant by then.”

“Okay,” growled Nathan.


Is ded from laughter. Charles is so organized. Poor Ryu. Poor Sephiroth.
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:iconmagicrat:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013
Charlie is a wee bit of a control freak but that's what we love about him. :D
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