03-21-2017, 07:16 PM
It's official, this stupid story is haunting me and won't die...

Elena was just leaving the hospital, where she had visited Reno, when her phone rang. It was Tseng, telling her that they were to deliver the babies at dawn to Gongaga. Acknowledging the order, she said she would be at the helipad in just a few minutes. Boarding the helicopter, she tried to avoid looking at the babies, especially the redheaded girl. She felt more guilty looking at them than she did when she visited Reno.

The doctors were sure the physical injuries would heal that he received when he tried to single-handedly defeat the Deepground squad leader in Mideel. He was victorious, but the rest of the squad had attacked him as well, and she and Rude were barely able to rescue him. They had both spent a week in the hospital. That was a month ago, and Reno was still in intensive care. Whenever anyone asked him how he was doing, he said he was cold, no matter what the thermometer said. Elena knew Rude was worried about him as well. At least Mideel had gotten them over their petulance. Reno was going to need that support when�or if�he resumed his duties after he was released from the hospital. She had seen three different versions of Reno over the past year, the old Reno she wanted back, the �lost� Reno, and briefly in Mideel there was the bloodthirsty/vengeful Reno, and Elena really hoped there wouldn�t be a fourth version.

Tseng was surprised at Elena�s silence. She wasn�t always talkative, but she wasn�t always this quiet either. Events had not turned out quite as he and Rufus had planned, Kunnia was not supposed to die. Nor was Reno supposed to find her like that. And if he ever found out the truth, Tseng doubted Reno would stick around, and Rude would follow him. Tseng was determined to keep the Turks together. He looked down at the babies, who were sleeping in their crib. They had none of Aerith�s appearance, and he had to remind himself again that they were not her children, she was more like a distant aunt, genetically speaking. At least they had made progress in repairing the damage they had done to the planet, by making sure the Ancients� line had not ended with Aerith.

A jeep was waiting for them when they landed on the outskirts of Gongaga. The babies were still asleep as they loaded the babies into carseats in the back seat and strapped the crib to the roof. Other baby supplies were put in the jeep as well. However, there was only room for the driver and one other passenger when it was all loaded up.

�You go, Elena.� Tseng announced. �I�ll stay with the helicopter.�

Elena nodded and climbed into the dirty passenger seat. The driver, an old grizzly man who had done them �favors� before, tried to chat her up on the drive to Zack�s parents� house, but thankfully the bumpy ride woke the babies up, and their crying silenced him. When they arrived at their destination, Elena ordered the man to get the crib off the roof and put it next to the door. She got the supplies out and put them in the crib, then lastly got the carseats out of the jeep and put them in front of the door. She pulled an envelope out of her jacket and placed it in the crib, along with some gil to help them afford three new babies, before getting back in the jeep and heading back to the helicopter. She hoped Tseng would never find out about that envelope. Elena�s mind flashed back to that day in Mideel.

After Reno ran off to find Kunnia, Tseng caught up to Elena at the entrance. �Go find Dr. Bandi�s office and get Kunnia�s file, I�ll help Reno and Rude.� Tseng ordered her.

Elena nodded and went to the third floor where the doctors� offices were. Finding the one labeled Dr. Bandi, Elena didn�t have to break in, someone already saved her the trouble. She stepped over Dr. Bandi�s body and jimmied open the file cabinet, looking for the Ks. The file on Kunnia wasn�t that big, but Elena found a picture of a smiling Kunnia caressing her enlarged stomach, and judging from the date stamp, it was taken during the sixth month of her pregnancy. The file said Dr. Bandi was keeping the picture until Kunnia remembered the babies on her own. She suddenly heard Rude shouting out for Reno to slow down. She hurriedly put the picture inside her jacket on the left side, and the file on the right side, before leaving to chase after Reno and Rude to see what trouble they were getting into now.

On the ride back to helicopter, Elena hoped she had done the right thing, leaving the picture in the envelope. If the picture led the triplets back to Reno, it would be known her loyalty wasn�t as strong as it should be.

Jonathan and Alicia opened their front door, and stood there in shock at the sight of the three squalling infants with all the accoutrements on their doorstep. Alicia was first to notice the envelope in the crib. She opened it and a picture and a note fell out. Jonathan picked up the picture, while Alicia picked up the note.

If you are reading this, it means I must have died, just like their father did. Please take care of my babies for me. I loved them very much. Alicia read, then looked over at the picture Jonathan was holding. �Oh, wasn�t she pretty?�

�Why would someone leave these babies here?� Jonathan wondered. �We can�t afford them.�

Alicia looked in the crib and found the bag of gil. �I think we can.�

�Alicia, these babies could be kidnapped for all we know.� Jonathan warned her.

�Let�s just get these babies inside where it�s warm and see what we can find out, alright?�

She was doing her usual dawn patrol when she heard the helicopter land on the outskirts of town. Suspicious, she tracked the jeep, and was surprised to find it stop at Zack�s parents� house. She recognized the driver, but the blonde was unfamiliar, though her suit wasn�t. She was even more surprised to see them drop off babies. She found a tree where she could get a clear view without being seen, and used her binoculars to look at the babies. The redheaded girl caught her eye immediately. Reno was a father? That explained the Turks� involvement, but was�was he dead? And why give them to Zack�s parents? She needed to find out what was going on. After all, she had promised him that she would look after his parents.

Alicia patiently brushed Ivy�s red hair. It was hard to control sometimes, and it was easiest to just put it in braids in the morning so it wouldn�t get so tangled. Alicia smiled, thinking back over the last four years. Jonathan may have been suspicious, but the babies soon won him over, especially when they couldn�t find any reports of lost or stolen triplets.

�Are you done yet, Gamma?� Ivy asked.

�Not yet, dear.� Alicia finished brushing Ivy�s hair and started braiding it. �You�re in a hurry this morning, aren�t you?�

�The lady in black said we could play at her house today.� Ivy explained.

Alicia was startled. The �lady in black� was a mysterious woman who lived up on a hill behind them. She had shown up a few years ago, no one was sure of the exact date she had first appeared, but they definitely know it was after the reactor blew. Some say she wore the black dress and veil because her husband and son died in the explosion, some say it was because she had been horribly disfigured then. Whatever the reason, no one had seen her face, and she never spoke. She would go into stores with a typewritten list of what she wanted and pay for it to be delivered to her house. Alicia had never of the woman being friendly to anyone. Not necessarily unfriendly either, but the only ones who ever came to her house were deliverymen.

�She actually talked to you?� Alicia questioned her.

�Well, I�m not supposed to tell. She had a note that she gave to Ian, but we had to tell her we can�t read good enough yet, so she told us. She makes good cookies.� Ivy explained.

�Better than my cookies?� Alicia asked.

�Oh, nobody makes better cookies than you, Gamma!� Ivy exclaimed.

�Alright, and your braids are done, you go eat your breakfast before you go play, okay sweetie?�

�Yes, Gamma.� Ivy said as she got down off the chair and gave Alicia a hug before heading off to the kitchen.

Alicia put the hairbrush back on Ivy�s dressing table. The two girls shared a room, with two of everything for them. Half of it was paid for by the money that was left with them. Alicia looked around the room to see if there were any toys to pick up. Lily was usually very good about keeping her side of the room nice and tidy, but Ivy had a short attention span and tended to forget neatness. Except when it came to her hair. She was content to sit at her dressing table and let Alicia brush and braid her hair, like a little princess. And she would ramble on about anything that caught her fancy. Lily and Ian were quiet as mice in comparison.

Alicia walked downstairs to the kitchen and stood in the doorway, watching Little Miss Chatterbox talk to Jonathan about butterflies, kittens, climbing trees, and trying to keep from spilling breakfast on her new dress. When Ivy was done with her breakfast, she wiped her mouth off with her hand and kissed Jonathan on the cheek before starting to head out the door.

�Ivy�is that where your empty plate goes?� Alicia walked into the room and gestured at Ivy�s place at the table.

�Oops�sorry, Gamma.� Ivy walked back over to the table and picked up her plate and silverware and took them to the sink.

�And wash your hands too.� Alicia reminded her.

�Yes, Gamma.� Ivy complied, drying her hands on the dish towel before hurrying out the door.

Alicia shook her head as she sat down next to Jonathan. �Why didn�t you tell her to put her dishes away?�

�She never gave me a chance to say anything. You know how she is.� Jonathan replied.

Alicia sighed. �Yes.� Then she smiled. �But I wouldn�t have it any other way. It was too�quiet�before they got here.�

Jonathan nodded. It was good to have life in the house again. And they were growing so fast, it seemed like just yesterday they were all in diapers. Once they got big enough to have their own beds, they put Ian in Zack�s old room, which was hard for them both to do. Lily and Ivy got the biggest of the spare bedrooms. When they had started talking, Ivy quickly became the most vocal. Lily and Ian talked only when they had something to say, but Ivy seemed to either be enamored by the sound of her own voice or unable to tolerate silence.

Occasionally there would be an envelope with some gil in it in their mailbox, but they never found who was behind it. It was always typewritten For the children on the envelope. It made Jonathan and Alicia both afraid that maybe one of the parents was still alive and would try and take them away one day.