An Angels Pain
Chapter 12: Return
Cloud's head snapped to the side where his gaze met with the lavender orbs that belonged to Arios.
"Arios...I...I thought angels couldn't die..."
Arios sighed and gave Cloud a sympathetic shrug. "I'm not quite sure what happened. My best guess is that Vincent gave up his angelic powers to heal you and the change in state...well, that may have been too much for his mortal body to handle and..." Arios stopped when he noticed the look Cloud had given him at that statement. It was almost like staring into the eyes of a child who had just lost one of their parents...only somehow, it seemed so much worse, Cloud helpless and alone. Cloud looked back down at his fallen lover, a lone tear carelessly falling upon Vincent's too-pale cheek.
"Is...is there anything you can do, being an angel?" Cloud asked, desperation evident in his voice. Arios didn't answer; he didn't need to break the mortal's heart any further. Cloud slouched when he heard no answer.
"So...this is it then, is it?" Cloud asked to no one in particular. "Val..." he whispered, "I know you're stronger than this, I know it." He placed his hand against Vincent's cold cheek, stroking gently. "Please, prove to me I'm right. Come back to me. I can't do this. I need you..."
Cloud made no move to acknowledge the new voice, but Arios turned and his eyes widened in surprise at the newcomer. "Lady Aeris?"
Aeris smiled. "No formalities, archangel. I'm no longer you're superior. I'm mortal once again."
"When I gave you my angelic powers, a small amount of it stayed with me, enough to revive my body and return me to the Planet as a mortal. You see I wished to see my friends so badly that...well, my wish came true. I'm afraid I'll have to leave it at that, for I really don't know why some of my power chose to stay or why it chose to revive me. I guess a few things must remain a mystery."
Arios blinked. "Well, who did you leave in charge?"
"No one is 'in charge' as you say. Although I guess the reigning angel would have to be the Eldest..."
"Gabriel..." Arios immediately scowled.
"I'm sorry Arios. But he isn't as bad as you think." Aeris chided. She cocked her head to the side, noticing a slight movement from Cloud. She gasped when she realized the body who lay next to Cloud was Vincent.
"What happened?" She asked, kneeling next to Cloud and pulling him into a tight embrace. Cloud fell into the embrace, but his eyes remained locked on Vincent.
"Vincent's dead, isn't he?" Aeris asked, looking to Arios. The angel nodded sadly.
Aeris let go of Cloud and stood, a thoughtful look painting her pretty face. She slammed her fist into her other hand and smiled broadly; an idea had struck her.
"Arios, call Gabriel."
"Please nothing. I am not bringing that ass of an angel down here. Enough shit has happened."
"Please, I've a favor to ask of him and it may help us bring Vincent back to us." Aeris pleaded, her eyes wide, giving it the perfect puppy dog affect.
Arios sighed as he rolled his violet eyes into the back of his head for a moment. When he returned, he turned a reproachful eye on Aeris.
"I hate that angel." Arios mumbled.
Aeris giggled as she wrapped her arms around Cloud. "Cloud, honey, it's going to be all right." Cloud didn't hear her. His one focus was Vincent.
Gabriel arrived a moment later, ignoring everyone else's presence save for Aeris. "My Lady, what is it you want?" he asked humbly. Arios snorted.
She pointed down at Vincent. "Bring that mortal's life back to the Planet."
"Please." She turned her puppy dog look back on. No one could resist, not even the highest ranking archangel.
Gabriel sighed. "As you wish. The gates of Heaven will arrive here in short notice. I bid you farewell." Gabriel disappeared as Arios slyly flicked him off during his departure. Aeris made a face at Arios, but ended up laughing at him anyways.
"What?" he asked innocently.
Her answer was interrupted by the earth below them trembling slightly. The quake grew with more force as two massive golden gates rose from the ground. The doors were vastly decorated, a number of heavenly depictions adorning each gate, each capable of telling a thousand stories through the carvings alone. The gates seemed to shine with a light all there own. Blinded by the oncoming light of the intruding structure, Cloud turned his face to the side to examine what was going on.
"What...is that?" Cloud breathed.
"The gates of Heaven." Arios replied without missing a beat, his eyes gazing at the golden gates with sheer admiration.
The massive gates then swung open, revealing yet another blinding flash of light. The three of them had to turn the eyes away, lest they be blinded by the new illumination. It was then Cloud noticed something wrong. Vincent's body seemed to be getting lighter. When he returned his watch upon the fallen angel, he realized that Vincent's body was fading away.
"Vincent?" Desperately he tried to keep hold of his dead lover, but nothing his mortal hands could do would stop Vincent's body from fading away. "Vincent, please, no..."
"Cloud, stop, and look." Aeris said quietly, pulling his arms away from Vincent and pointing towards the gates. Cloud looked up at the gate.
A lone figure stood at the gate, the bright luminosity shadowing his identity. Slowly, the figure made his way forward until he was at last recognizable. Cloud gasped, his sapphire eyes growing wide with shock and delight.
"Vincent!" he exclaimed as he leapt to his feat and ran to his lover. Vincent laughed as Cloud almost tackled him in a tight embrace. Vincent snaked one arm around Cloud and returned the hug.
"Hey there, Strife. I brought a surprise."
Cloud looked up at him. "What?"
Cloud backed away as Vincent pulled his other arm out, his hand holding tight to someone Cloud had thought he'd never see again.
"Tifa..." Cloud breathed, eyes wide as the brunette drew closer.
"Cloud, I missed you so much." She said, tears rimming her eyes as she pulled Cloud into another hug. Cloud, awestruck, returned the hug and pulled her even tighter. "Tifa!"
Vincent stared at their reunion. For the first time in a long time, Vincent's heart didn't swell with jealousy at the sight of their embrace. Although he knew very well what was to happen now that she had returned. Cloud would return to loving her and he would again be alone. The thought depressed him but as long as Cloud was happy...
Vincent averted his crimson gaze as he felt a few hot tears surface at the thought that he'd be alone again.
"Hey guys, let's get out of here. I'm sure the others are curious as to what's happened to us." Vincent announced. As the group began their trek home, Vincent turned to Arios, smiling sadly.
Arios held up a finger, smiling. "Vincent, my place is in Heaven as yours is here."
"Or course. I'll see you around then?"
"It could be arranged." Arios grinned. "Go on. They're waiting for you." He chided, pointing at the others who were watching Vincent and waving at him. Vincent' scratched his head ruefully then turned away as Arios dematerialized and left the mortal realm.
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