I aimed for a 4-5K chapter but it's only 3k. Mostly because I spent the entire day reading other fanfictions and watching Crisis Core walkthroughs.

Btw, have you read the FAQ on "FFVII Love Triangle Debate" on the ? If you haven't, do so now!

Oh, do you guys think I should continue replying review on new chapters? If not, I'll just PM them. Sorry to the anons then.

Need beta reader... I'm usually too tired to really edit the chapters. Mistakes go unnoticed. Damn me, damn me to hell!

Anyway, here's chapter 7. Thanks for the support!


To The Crossroads Of Fate: Chapter 7

The Aesthete


When I finally regained consciousness, the burning sensation reduced to a dull ache and I took a luxurious breath of stale air. This time, my body was not pressed against the wall and my unconstrained vision scanned the room. The answer for the staleness was evident in the lack of windows for ventilation, I'm mildly surprised that I've yet to die from suffocation. If this is the place he lived, then I guess I can understand the way he "welcomed" me earlier. At least I'm not tied like a prisoner anymore.

The sullied white paint on the walls hanged in patches and I had to swallow the urge to peel them in habit. Other than the small bed flimsily laid on a wooden frame that showed signs of termite invasion, only an ebony chest with some clothes spilling and a leather jacket hanging on a hook by the door indicate that this was a bedroom. While in deep thoughts of how anyone could live with such accommodations (even less than my apartment in Midgar, which had windows), the door open with a bone-chilling creak.

Cloud walked in with a tray of food and a metal flask, rather too casually for a kidnapper.

"Hello." The word escaped my lips before I could form a sarcastic remark and I sounded like he was a family friend. -Oh hiya, how have you been? It's been a long time, how has the crops grown in your village? Not much in mine. Now, let's enjoy some tea, ha-ha-ha.- I struggled to keep up a poker face.

"Hello" He took it as a cue to enter and set the tray on the bed. "How are you feeling?" his nonchalance only serves to amplify my embarrassment.

"Horrible." I lied in defiance. I hated him, or rather, I hated how self-conscious I was with him. "Horrible…" I repeated softly under my breath.

My heart ached with my lungs. I love him so much, without reason, without basis and without his knowledge. Why was I so dumb to think that he was really kind to me in the inn? He was a stranger, and I deserved all these. I turned away to silently blink away the tear that was forming in my eyes. I was able to distract myself from this pain before I met him again. But now… This is the painful one-sided love again. Unrequited, Unrequired, Unappreciated.

When I turned back to face him, his face was just as expressionless, but his eyes were a shade darker. "I shouldn't have." He murmured.

Knowing that he wasn't exactly keen in murdering me now, I couldn't help but feel for him again. Strongly. Is he feeling guilty?

"Where's the 'I'm sorry' that should follow?" I smiled, trying to comfort him in a futile effort. He looked at me with a marionette face and nodded. I can't help but wonder what kind of a person he was. What happened to him in the past that froze his emotions? I sighed. "Well… I'm the one that's supposed to be sorry. I shouldn't have followed you, and look so suspicious at that."

He focused his gaze into my eyes and I gave him a warm smile, which diverted his gaze from me. "I'm sorry."

Even after I apologized, his eyes were focused on the floor, away from me. His eyebrows knitted into a solemn knot and his lips turned down slightly in his deep thoughts. I frowned and shifted closer to him. Softly, I pinched his right cheek, when he looked up, I took the chance to pinch his other cheek.

He stared at me wide eyed, lips slightly parted as my fingers pulled his cheeks in different angles. My eyes sparkled and I chuckled softly at his distorted features."You should have looked at me when I'm apolo-" I was unceremoniously cut off by a loud ring. With a movement too fast for the naked eye, he pulled my arms away from his face, tamed to the bed with his one arm.

His other hand searched his pocket and pulled out a metallic object. In an equally swift moment, he flipped it open, showing a screen which had lights glowing from it, and pressed a button, generating a clear beep sound. "Genesis." He spoke into the metallic object, as if he was talking to a human. There seems to be replies from the other side and his eyes darted to the floor, his brows kissed again.

"…Yes. No, no, awake… Hojo? No!" He snarled, before something from the other side cooled him down. "Tomorrow… I understand." With yet another gracious swipe, he flipped it close and slid it into his back pocket.

"What's that thing?" I asked.

"A PHS. Personal Handheld System. We call it a cell phone." I opened my eyes wide and urged him to continue. "It transmits sounds to another person with a PHS, each has a number. You need their phone number to communicate." Wow, why won't we have this in the future? Somehow, isn't the past more advanced than the future? "Only Shinra personnels of high ranks get to have this. It's a military gadget."

He eyed me with brows tightly pulled together. I wish I could iron out the crease for him. "My mentor… He wants to make sure you're not a threat."

I refocused my wondering eyes on him. "Your mentor? What mentor?"

He sat back down beside me and glanced over my body, his eyes left traces of fire dancing on my skin. His eyes stopped at my wrist, where it was still blue from the friction from the tight ropes. "My SOLDIER mentor."

I nodded, signalling him to continue.

"He needs to make sure you're not a scout from Wutai."

"Okay." I replied bluntly. "Tomorrow morning?"

He nodded, his eyes had a slight apologetic look. We remained silent for a moment until he stood and walked towards the chest. "Turn right from this door and there's a bath chamber." He threw a towel and a set of leather clothing which landed perfectly calculated on my lap.

I nodded and walked towards the door. "I… Don't have proper clothing for you." His words stopped me in my track and I looked back at him.

"These are perfect." I smiled, "Much better than what I have on."

xXx

Yuffie paced around the cottage, extremities cold as ice as she waited. It's been three days since she last saw Tifa, as much as she forced herself to believe in her, worry overtook rationality. It was almost morning, and she shivered under the two layers of quilt. A sudden scrape of wood against wood awaken her from her daydream, and she turned to the source of the sound.

"G' Mornin'" Reno yawned and scratched his neck while he wobbled into the kitchen. After fetching two warm glasses of water, he sat down beside Yuffie on the couch, both on the edge.

"You haven't slept in two days, am I right?" He asked, sipping on his water and placing the other onto the side table, before crossing his leg onto the couch.

"I couldn't." Yuffie replied simply, watching the way his dishevelled red hair glistens in the dark, unrestrained by the normal band he tied around the longer strains. "Tifa might come back and find the door locked."

He stretched his arms behind his back and straightened his legs. "I'll wait for you. Go to bed." He yawned again, and slumped into the couch with a soft thud.

"No…" Yuffie shook her head slightly. "You'll fall asleep."

Reno scoffed softly and looked at Yuffie with lazy eyes. "Then we'll wait together."

xXx

I've made the biggest mistake ever.

I washed my hair.

Now there is no way I can push it all into my beanie (worn for sleep) without getting it drenched. I don't think there's hairdryer in this era… I kept rubbing the towel through my hair, all in vain. In the end, I had to wrap the towel around my head and head back to the room. I have no sense of time in this house, but I guessed it was late at night, since the SOLDIER mentor didn't expect to see me immediately, despite being a suspect.

Just when I was about to open the door, a thought struck me. I'm wearing Cloud's clothes, in Cloud's house, with him alone, his towel around my head… My cheeks colour and my heart started thumping against my ribs hard. I smell like Cloud

The room was empty, so was the rest of the apartment, which includes a dwarf sized living room and the bath chamber. Not the type to leave a message, huh. I finished the tray of food he left for me, which tasted cold and bland before washing the plates in the bath chamber and set it on the small side table by the living room couch, equally rotten as the bed frame. While rubbing against my wet hair, I slowly slide the towel off my head and hung it over the spare hooks beside the door. I closed the door behind me and prepared to sleep.

He won't be back until tomorrow morning. I just knew.

xXx

He patted the back seat of his bike and I nodded and seated on with ease, carefully adjusted myself on it, a leg on each side. He passed me a helmet and I buckled it on my head.

"Not your first time on a bike?" He asked.

Somehow, an alarm went off in my head. The question doesn't seem as innocent as it sounds. The gears in my head spun at an inhuman speed.

In this world, most of the people ride horses. Yet he has a bike. He's from SOLDIER, has a "First Class" plated on his shoulder guard. Has a metallic thing that transmits voice messages instantly to someone far away.

This only shows one thing: SOLDIERS and Shinra are privileged, and even more advanced than those in the future.

My futuristic knowledge allowed me to identify this as a bike, and that made me more suspicious. I have to find an excuse out of this. "My master used to trade parts used for mechanics with Shinra, bikes included. I've always wanted to ride one." I gave the most innocent smile I could muster.

"…" He stared at me for a few seconds before asking again. "Who is your master?"

I Snapped my head to the side and frowned. The best answer for this is… "I cannot say. His businesses are confidential… Even if I'm not working for him anymore… If I say… He might…" I lied, and blinked a tear from my eye, letting it drop to the ground.

"I see…" He pressed a button on the handle bar and the fairings opened to reveal hidden compartments, with 6 sharp swords. I jumped and lifted my legs. I stayed in that awkward position, afraid of being amputated. He gave me a slightly amused look. From one of the secret compartments, he retrieved a pair of wind goggles. With a soft nudge, the secret compartments fall back into the bike, no sign from the exterior. This Cloud's agent 007 or what?

I had to close my eyes throughout the ride. Even with the helmet screen protecting me, the speed he was travelling at made my stomach cringe whenever I opened my eyes. We reached the destination within minutes, I couldn't quite gauge the distance travelled, but it shouldn't be too far from where he kept me.

My legs turned jelly from the ride, and Cloud had to help me off the bike. I breathed deeply to sate the urge to puke. He patted me softly on my back with a clumsy hand, my skin burnt at his touch. "I-I'm okay… Just motion sickness. You have to slow down a little on our ride back." I watched as he shrugged, his perfectly shaped lips tilted upwards with the faintest smirk and my heart sang. There's a boy in there that loves to show-off.

The SOLDIER base, from the surroundings, seems to be in a secluded part of Junon, surrounded by a deserted plain, probably used as a training ground. In the centre, where we are facing, stood a building made of metal, reproduced to be stronger and harder than any I've seen, distinct from the widely used ersatz metal used by the lower classes. Cloud signaled to the guards and they greeted him frightfully before scurrying to his bike and pushed it down the car park with elaborate efforts. Another guard rushed up and kneeled in front of him, an eye mask in hand. Cloud nodded.

"You'll have to cover your eyes before we can bring you in." He stated, passing me the black eye mask, with the word "Shinra" sown neatly at its elastic strap.

I nodded and wrapped it around my eyes. Cloud took my hand and led me inside. In the dark world, all I could sense was his warmth, radiating through the synthetic leather glove around his hands. He didn't talk, or make any sound.

He led me into the building and I could feel a wave of coolness in the air. Air conditioner. Wow, I thought this was the past. Not even the home of Lockheart household had one, despite being one of the most established aristocrat family. The Shinra family sure is distinguished even from the most noble of ranks. We stepped into an elevator and it moved upwards.

When the door opened, I could hear greeting made to Cloud as he pulled me out. "Good morning,sir." He pulled me further into the building and we turned corners, first left, then left, and finally right before he pushed open a door and brought me in.

"Genesis." Cloud addressed the mentor plainly, without honorifics but with reverence in his voice. "I've brought the suspect."

"Un-cuffed?" The other voice asked. It sounded husky yet clear, from it, I could sense an urbane man with great pride.

"I believe he is innocent." There was defensiveness in Cloud's voice and I beamed silently in my heart.

"Oh? Bring him closer."

Cloud squeezed my hand slightly to assure me and pulled me forward to the voice.

A cold finger tucked my chin upwards. I remained in that position after the finger left to pull the eye covers away. I winced slightly at the burst of light that invaded and slowly cleared my vision to meet a pair of cerulean eyes. "Well, well. Isn't he a little too beautiful to be a man?"

My eyes widened in horror. If he pulls my beret…

Unexpectedly, he laughed. "'Infinite in mystery is the gift of the Goddess'. I guess you are blessed." He mocked, "Or, cursed - it must be an arduous task to get a lover with a feminine face like that."

This man, named Genesis, is dressed fairly… flamboyantly for a SOLDIER mentor. Beyond his SOLDIER uniform, which was quite similar to Cloud's, except for the additional metallic belt around his knees and calves, another set criss-crossed over his chest, both used as accessories. He wore a dark magenta coat with a silky texture complementing his reddish bronze hair that was swept charmingly in a side parting on his right, ending a comfortable length below his ears. On his right ear, he wore a long silver earring that stretched like a compressed vase, intricate designs dancing as he moved. On his other ear, a simple metal ear stud amplified his sense of taste in fashion. His accessories only serve to accentuate his allure.

"Nice to meet you. I'm Genesis Rhapsodos." He smiled with lips perfectly arched, his sharp cupid's bow stretched slightly. "My name reflects my being. I often am coded the origins of beautiful rhapsodies."

I smiled faintly, "Nice to meet you too. I'm Billy Cole Crescent."

"Say, Billy. Would you like to join SOLDIER?"

I gave him a confused look. "Aren't I a suspect?" I asked.

He laughed heartily, as though I've just cracked a stupid joke. "Your beauty is enough of an exoneration."

This guy is ridiculous. Sins, to him, can be measured by physical appearance. He almost takes pride in being this shallow. I shot him a deadpan look and turned to meet Cloud's eyes. He nodded, confirming my thoughts.

"Beautiful things shouldn't be punished. Heavenly things shouldn't even be suspected. The law of an Aesthete." Genesis smiled, now uncomfortably close to me. Okay, this is somewhat unexpected… Is he gay? "So… would you like to take up the offer of SOLDIER?"

I pondered for a moment. This was what I wanted, an inextricable link with Cloud, and that is nothing else but SOLDIER. If I'm in SOLDIER with him, then there is no reason for us to part ways, he'll be expected to protect me, since he brought me into all this. "I…"

I didn't have the chance of finishing my sentence when Cloud bellowed. "No way!"

"Oh, Cloud. Aren't you overly protective?" Genesis teased. I tensed at the thought, my face bright red. "Well, I've decided, with your consent or not, that Billy here will join SOLDIER. 3rd class, squad 1, under my command. And yours, as a matter of fact." He pointed at Cloud, eyes gleaming with interest.

Somehow, infiltration into SOLDIER succeeded without effort. Now, I just have to contact Yuffie.

xXx

Message from Tifa arrived four days later, in the form of a letter at their doorstep, left by the village post-man.

"Will,

I am now in SOLDIER 3rd Class. You don't have to join me, you can return. But we will always be friends.

I miss you.

Love, Bill."

Surprisingly short. Was that all? She definitely found the man she was looking for, is this it then? Will Yuffie really leave Tifa alone?

No. If Tifa dropped into an abyss, she will jump right in after. If Tifa joined SOLDIER, that's where she will go. Maybe not as a SOLDIER, but she will be close by Tifa. Definitely.

I miss you too.


A/N:

Genesis will have some of the best quotes ever! If you read my previous A/Ns, I said that I'm working on a certain character's quotes... and tada! It's Genesis! I personally love this guy!

More of Yuffie in the next chapter. Hopefully it will be a quick update. Depends on how I will spend my time tomorrow!

Maybe I'll update "Take Me With You" instead...

Anyways, see ya!