3610

"25 years and my life is still. Tryin' to get up that great big hill of hope. For a destination." I sang along with the radio. I hadn't heard this song in years. In fact I hadn't heard this song in 10 years. It was kind of ironic I was now 25.

"I realized quickly when I should. That the world was made up of this brotherhood of man. For whatever that means." I stepped behind the screen in my room having to get dressed. I was impressed I knew as many words as I did.

"And so I cry sometimes when I'm lying in bed. Just to get it all out what's in my head. And I, I am feeling a little peculiar." I pulled the black thigh high stockings on glad that my legs had gotten waxed yesterday no matter how much it hurt. I really didn't want to dress in drag though, but needs must.

"And so I wake up in the morning and I step outside. And I take a deep breath and I get real high. And I scream at the top of my lungs "What's going on?" I made sure to scream out along with the radio. It was for the song I swear and not in frustration.

The thong soon followed the stockings. I hated thongs but I couldn't show underwear lines in my outfit. I just knew that I was going to have that wedgie feeling all day.

"And I say Hey-ey-ey. Hey-ey-ey. I said "Hey what's going on?" And I say, hey-ey-ey. Hey-ey-ey. I said "Hey what's going on?"" I placed my legs in the tight black knee length pencil skirt thankful for the slit in the side. Without it I didn't think I could move if I needed to. Still women wear these things? Give me pants any days of the week.

"Ooh, ooh. Ooh. Ooh, Uh huh. Ooh, ooh. Ooh. Ooh, uh huh." I grabbed the padded bra to put on, wondering why people wore them. I never understood breasts. 'Maybe it's because I'm gay' I thought ignoring how weird the bra was. It was a water bra with extra padding so my flat chest instantly looked like a D cup. Since I was short it was a big difference. I could have lived with small boobs but noooo. Someone who shall remain nameless said go big or go home.

A long sleeve, tight, black turtleneck sweater followed. I was thankful the sleeves had thumb holes to keep the sleeves down. I hated it when my shirts rose up.

I pulled my long, curly black hair from under my shirt. My hair was past my butt at this stage but I hadn't cut it since I was a child. My mother had long hair, my grandfather even my dead beat dad did. Not that he knew who I was, but it was tradition.

My disguise was almost done and I was thankful. If I was lucky I could get away without using makeup or anything else overly done. As it is if I have to fight it's in a skirt. I suddenly had a greater appreciation for mom now.

I came out from behind the screen as the chorus came on again. "And I try. Oh my God, do I try. I try all this time. In this institution." I grabbed the hairbrush from the vanity to use as a microphone. This song brought back some good memories.

"And I pray. Oh my God, do I pray. I pray every single day. For a revolution." A female voice joined mine. I turned to see my sister-in-all-but-blood enter my room. Thankfully it was just her, I would hate it if it was anyone else. Talk about embarrassing.

I was jealous of her. She didn't have to wear the skirt. Instead Jessie was wearing a short sleeve black shirt that said SOLDIER over the left breast in white. On her back had the last name Rhapsodos. Her brown hair was pulled back into an intricate set of braids, tied off with her old red bandana. Black woman's combat cargo pants tucked into black Doc Martens completed the picture.

Jessie was a complete surprise to me and I was glad to have her in my life. Back when we first met she still had her original last name of Raspberry. While she was in Avalaunch about 5 years ago she met and bonded with her soul mark Genesis. When she lay dying as Sector 7 plate fell I was able to save her in time. Since then we've been family.

"And so I cry sometimes when I'm lying in bed." We both jumped on my bed landing on our backs. "Just to get it all out what's in my head. And I, I am feeling peculiar."

We get off the bed giggling. There's no way to get upset with this song. We ran to my open window on the second floor and stuck our heads out. There were SOLDIERS all around the grounds.

"And so I wake up in the morning and I step outside. And I take a deep breath and I get real high. And I scream at the top of my lungs "What's going on?"" We both shouted the words out pulling our heads back in when they turned to look at us. Really like they should expect anything different with us.

"And I said Hey-ey-ey. Hey-ey-ey. I said Hey, What's going on?" A rich male voice joined ours from the doorway. A familiar red-head stood there in his 6'2" glory. He was wearing the male version of Jessie's uniform complete with Rhapsodos on the back. It should since his name was Genesis Rhapsodos.

"And I said Hey-ey-ey. Hey-ey-ey. I said Hey, what's going on? And I said Hey-ey-ey." Jessie and I sang this part while Genesis did the background verse of "Wake in the morning and step outside."

Jessie and I started to giggle harder, no longer able to keep up with the song. Genesis had a fond shake of his head at our antics. We had seen this many times.

We quickly got our giggling under control to finish the song. "25 years and my life is still. Tryin' to get up that great big hill of hope. For a destination, Mmm."

"You know what I realized," Jessie said with a wide smile on her face. Her brown eyes sparkled with both joy and Mako, and wasn't that a surprise. Who knew Mako could be transferred from a SOLDIER FIRST CLASS during sex. I didn't and sometimes I wish I didn't know.

The less I knew about thier sex life the happier I would be. Some things just don't need to be shared and I really didn't need to walk into a room again by accident. I saw more than I ever cared to.

"What's that?" I asked walking to the vanity to sit down. The radio had an advertisement for SOLDIER Days in Edge.

"You're 25 now, kinda like the song." I stopped when she said that. It was true I was 25 now, and I had been for a few months. I turned to look in the mirror to see if I looked any different. Long, curly black hair that reached just below my butt when down, it was longer than straight. Almond shaped green eyes that occasionally glowed just like my mother before me surrounded by thick black lashes.

I was just glad I finally looked like I was legal. That was a pain trying to buy alcohol and people thinking you were 16. I still barely looked over 21 but most people know me around here so they don't card me anymore.

My skin was pale but I was Wutain so the ivory skin was considered a boon. I had inherited my mom's nose and mouth, for while I was thankful. I saw pictures of my dad and he had a small mouth. Maybe he just didn't smile enough.

With Jessie's help we began to put my hair into braids. First we french braid the sides before adding the bottom. Soon my hair was in a series of braids securing my hair to my head. Nothing short of an act of god was getting my hair undone. I had so many bobby pins that I could set off a metal detector.

Genesis put a curly, blood-red haired wig on my head covering up my braids and said "You look just like Mama Lils."

It was true, with the wig I looked like I could be a twin of my mother, Lily Himura. I felt my eyes start to water. My mom had been dead these last 5 years and it just wasn't the same. She was the reason I was still alive and made it this far.

"Harry" Genesis leaned over my shoulder pulling me into a hug. I guess I should be upset. I Am a 25 year old man, wearing my mom's old clothes to sneak into a building. "She was a remarkable woman. A complete badass."

I choked out a laugh. "Yeah she was." My mother was a fighter, having been taught by her father before her. Grandfather died when I was young but I could still see his purple eyes and red hair whenever I picture him.

"I'm sorry it has to be you?" Jessie said from my other side as she began to pin the wig into place. I was glad she was doing it. I would have no idea what to do, but Jessie had been an actress before she joined Avalaunch and Genesis had been a thespian for as long as I've known him.

"I know" I sighed. "I'm the only one who won't set off the sensors." It was true. Everyone at the compound had been in SOLDIER or equivalent and should be dead. If they went they would set off the mako detectors, and that would cause questions we couldn't answer.

The sensors are a new invention that gave your body a scan as you entered the building. Like a metal detector but instead of metal it sent a pulse and checked how much mako you have in your system. Everyone in SOLDIER and those sleeping with them will set them off. As I've only been around everyone I wouldn't set them off. I might show a higher than normal count but not enough for SOLDIER levels.

"Are you worried about running into Him?" Jessie reached her hand over to rest it on wrist where my soul mark was covered. I pulled my arm back resting my hands in my lap while Genesis put my locket on my neck.

"Not really" I answered honestly. "He made his choice a long time ago, and it wasn't me." It did hurt though, especially at night when my mind would bring his face to my dreams. I had gotten good at ignoring his existence just like he had mine.

"I still can't believe that your soulmate is" Jessie started to say before Genesis cleared his throat and gave his head a little shake.

It was sweet that they were avoiding bringing up his name. If we hadn't consummate the bond almost a decade ago it would have been easier, but like my mother I was strong. Himura's always was.

I reached below the vanity to grab the shoes to go with the outfit. I was lucky that the shoes weren't stilettos or anything like that. Instead they were matte black dress shoes with a chunk heel. It raised my height by 2 inches and when you were 5'2" you take all you could get.

The only jewelry I allowed myself to wear was my mother's gold locket. On one side had a picture of my mom holding me in the hospital. The other side had a picture of mom and I when I was 14. I had just graduated from college. She had her arms wrapped around me wearing a matching smile to mine. That was the last time I had a photo with my mom, something I regret now.

"I wonder" Jessie stood up next to me. I wanted to glare that she was still taller than me. I hated being short sometimes. "It's just, let's say everything goes to plan."

"Alright" I nodded as we began to walk out of my room. "What's the issue?"

"Let's say we get the information and we're able to go back in time. I guess I'm just scared that I'll forget everything and everyone."

Jesse had made a valid point and it would normally be something to worry about but not in this. This I knew would work.

"I wouldn't worry about that so much. I would worry about the other things" I told her before grabbing the messenger bag and throwing it over my head. The strap fit in between my fake breasts bringing more attention to them. Gaia that bra was uncomfortable. I couldn't wait to get rid of it. I'll take the skirt and thong anyday over the bra.

"You already have a mated soulmate band" I pointed out the look of red flames lined with green tattooed around her left wrist. "You also have the glowing Mako eyes of a SOLDIER and while it isn't as noticeable as a FIRST or even a SECOND you still have the shine. That's going to travel back with you along with your memories. That's something to think about."

Both Jessie and Genesis stopped and looked at each other in horror. I couldn't stop the laugh that escaped my throat. Oh sometimes it was good to be me.

I made it a few steps in the room before a bag with my normal clothes in it was given to me. Oh sweet merciful Gaia there were pants in the bag. No skirt for me.

"I grabbed everything including a pair of shoes." The speaker was another redhead with purple mako eyes. This was another closer friend of mine.

"Thanks Kunsel" I grabbed the clothes and put them into my item bag, knowing they would be safe there. My messenger bag held a notebook and pens. A special pair of glasses, along with a burner PHS. If I was searched I didn't want them to ask about the clothes. When I changed I was to throw my clothes now into it.

"I don't like this" Kunsel walked up to me, leading me through the 'war room' as it was now called. It was actually the former formal sitting room but since I didn't have guests we took over. There were bulletin boards up with strings connecting pictures. A map with red markings on it was on the giant table in the middle. "Edge had just brought us the newest information. The monsters are getting bigger and crazier, no doubt from all the mako poisoning. People have been having instances of going crazy and killing people. Normal people

Harry and not anyone who had a history of drugs or anything." We walked through the room and out the main hall to the front door.

That was discouraging to hear. I had hoped we would have more time. It was why we were doing this. It was also why SOLDIER was still around.

We were in Wutai in the Himura ancestral home safe behind the runes on the gates. It was one of my mother's greatest accomplishments. With it the manor and grounds were safe from invasions and any attacks even from above. The manor had become a safe haven for SOLDIERS that had started to be persecuted. Now it also served as a base of operations on our efforts to save the planet.

Only a few SOLDIERS had been able to be saved when degeneration had started to befall. They were lucky though, when Geostigma hit they were already safe and cured. Jenova would never find a way to take control of their bodies. Of all the SOLDIERs Genesis had left ShinRa with, only three hadn't made it.

"What don't you like about this?" I stopped to talk to my oldest friend. Even before Genesis, Kunsel had been there for me. When mom died and Genesis started going through Degeneration. Kunsel was there during my worst, soul mark rejection and all.

It was a hard time for all of us. Both Genesis and Kunsel were my Guardians and the fact in some way Jenova had her claws in them was bad.

"You won't have any backup, not really." Kunsel tightened his fists. "I have a ride for you out of town, if needed but Harry you really won't like it. SOLDIER days are going on in Edge and what if you run into them."

"Stop" I had to stop him. I still couldn't bear to hear that name and the decisions that had followed. I willed my heart to stop beating so hard, as it always did when he was brought up.

"I'll be ok" I told him after a big breath. I had a mission and didn't have time to stress about this. If it wasn't for ShinRa and now the WRC having this information I wouldn't even be going through this now.

Before my mother died and joined the Lifestream she told me about a ritual to send us back in time. To before Sephiroth burns Nibelheim and before He leaves to join SOLDIER.

The last note we needed was found in Icicle Inn almost 30 years ago. It was a runic equation written in the old language. When ShinRa fell all notes and books were moved to the WRC library and that's where I had to break into.

Kunsel grabbed my covered wrist where my soul mark laid. He knew better than to touch it but this needed to be said. "I would like to think that if I was gay we would have been soul marked. Gaia knows you need someone to take care of you, but even though we aren't Harry you're my best friend. If something happened to you I don't think I could handle it."

I leaned into Kunsel's chest for a hug. He was one of the few that I felt comfortable being touched by. "No matter what happens, you'll always be my best friend and Guardian Kunsel and when this is all over I expect you to come and visit ok. I know Mom was always mad you didn't visit enough."

"You're Mom was a force of nature." Kunsel released me once I began to pull away from the hug. He knew I hated to be touched but felt honored that he wasn't one of them.

"You just say that because Mom wouldn't let you wear your helmet" I giggled. It was true the first time Lily had met Kunsel the helmet was not allowed in the house and the rule stuck. Kunsel had very expressional eyes, which is why he wore it. He also had the looks of a bastard Himura, his coloring much like my grandfathers. Gaia wasn't kind to bastards, trust me I should know.

"Like I said, a force of nature" Kunsel pulled back with his arms on my shoulders. "There's also a chance you might run into HIM."

This Him was an old scientist from Avalaunch before the others took them over. He worshipped Hojo and he was always following me around. First he wanted to date me and has been trying to partition Lord Godo Kisaragi for permission. Lucky for us, Lord Godo knew better than to demand anything from the Himuras. We weren't under his rule anymore but that doesn't mean we don't help out occasionally.

He was creepy though and over a decade older than me. The fact that the number of monsters that appeared and how strong they are wouldn't

surprise me that he had a hand in it. The monsters were coming and soon Gaia was going to clean the world, and none will survive.

I began to walk away again before turning and giving a small wave. Genesis and Jessie had joined Kunsel waving bye. I normally didn't do missions, or head about by myself. But I was the only one who could do it this time.

I smiled back before throwing my hand out in front of me and focused my power. I knew my eyes were glowing as I opened a portal to a prearranged spot. It was with one last smile and a wave that I left Wutai and ended up in Edge.

"You're following right?" Jessie asked Kunsel from where he was standing as the portal closed.

"I'm a Guardian'' Kunsel walked over to the parking garage stopping at a Hardin Davinson motorcycle. The saddle bags were already bulging of all that was needed. "Harry isn't getting rid of me that easily."

"I'll keep you updated, we've got a few more SOLDIERS coming in with reports." Genesis told him. "We'll leave a few hours from now and meet you in Edge."

"I'll see you there" Kunsel roared the engine of the bike before roaring off down the driveway. He was already 8 hours away from Edge. He would have left sooner but then Harry would have known he was being followed and would have expected to see them before he left.

"So it begins" Jessie leans into Genesis' side smiling as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders.

"The arrow has left the bow of the Goddess." Genesis spoke softly in Jessie's hair before giving it a small kiss.

Jessie gave a small smile as she pulled away from Genesis. "Let's go pack, you've got date night."