#194 – Fall of the House of Ramble

Hojo: “Finally…we will have the fall of the house of ramble!”

Originally Published: 10/25/06 . 81 pages

Synopsis
Hojo has an idea to really take over the ramble room this time – by pitting the ramble gang against each other. The plan goes off as planned, but will it succeed? Meanwhile, Rufus opens a gas station.

Ramble Milestones
-Rufus evicts the Wild Arms gang.

I had been planning this ramble for so, so long, and to be honest it didn’t come out quite the way I imagined. But that happens with me a lot. I still like it well enough, but I really like the two Rufus subplots the best, especially the gas station. The scene with Mojo on fire is one of those moments where I really wish this was a cartoon. The title comes from the Edgar Allen Poe classic, Fall of the House of Usher.

 She said I don’t know why you ever would lie to me

Like I’m a little untrusting when

I think that the truth is gonna hurt ya

And I don’t know why you couldn’t just stay with me

You couldn’t stand to be near me

When my face don’t seem to want to shine

‘cuz It’s a little bit dirty well

Don’t just stand there,

Say nice things to me

I’ve been cheated I’ve been wronged you,

And you don’t know me

I can’t change

I won’t do anything at all

–“Push”, Matchbox Twenty

(we start with dream lines. I won’t tell you who’s dreaming, but you should be able to tell soon enough. ~~~~~~~~~~ we open in the hallway of a high school. In the middle of the hallway is elena, who has a hall monitor sash on. She blows on her whistle)

Elena: “Move it or lose it! I have the power to send all your asses to detention!”

(rufus comes over)

Rufus: “How’s everything this morning, Elena?”

Elena: “Everything’s running smoothly, Principal Rufus!”

Rufus: “You do an excellent job keeping the students in order. I think I’ll make sure you’re a line leader for graduation.”

Elena: “Really, President Rufus? Thanks!”

(rufus returns to his office where scarlet sits filing her nails as usual. Heidegger is laughing from his office. There is a line of students, including barret and cid, who are lining up in front of a door marked ‘guidance counselor’.)

Rufus: “Did you put that new box of erasers on my desk?”

Scarlet: “No.”

Rufus: “No?! What do you mean, no?! You didn’t give it to Vice Principal Heidegger again, did you? Because I’m pretty much 100 percent sure he’s eating him!”

Heidegger’s voice: *from his office* “You’re smart! Gya haa haa!”

Scarlet: “Exactly. We’ve used up so many erasers that Superintendent Cid said no more until next year.”

Rufus: “What?! Dammit! What if I make a mistake?! You see what your fat ass caused me, Heidegger?!”

Heidegger’s voice: “Kiss my ass! Gya haa haa!”

Rufus: “Argh! You’re lucky graduation is only a few days away!”

(he stalks into his office)

Barret: “Yo, I don’t see why I gotta be comin’ here talking about college!”

Cid: “@#$^&*$%^#$%&#&&*!”

Barret: “Damn right, Cid! We could be jammin’ to tunes or beatin’ up on sissy kids!”

(the guidance counselor’s door opens and out comes dante. He leaves. Koudelka sticks her head out)

Koudelka: “Okay, who’s next?”

Cid: *wide eyes* “@$%&*($%^@#&*!”

Koudelka: “*Excuse* me?”

Cid: “Um, me, ma’am.”

Koudelka: “That’s better. Get in here.”

(he goes in and she shuts the door.)

Barret: “Damn, foo! If dat be the guidance counselor, I shoulda come for counselin’ a long time ago!”

(the door to the office opens and kuja enters with twilight)

Kuja: “That’s it! I’ll make sure you’re not allowed to take the final. That way you won’t be able to graduate.”

Twilight: “Aw, come on! That’s not fair! I’ve got nothing lined up after graduation!” *laughs*

Scarlet: *bored* “Principal Rufus, Mr. Kuja is here to see you. *Again*.”

Rufus: *comes out of his office* “Twilight XyXia! This is the last straw!”

Kuja: “That’s what I said.”

Rufus: “I’m sorry about all the trouble he’s caused you, Mr. Kuja. You can return to your class.”

Kuja: *mumbles something about the bathroom and leaves*

Twilight: “You know he’s not going back to class right?”

Rufus: “Of course he is! Where else would he go?!”

(flash to kuja’s class where wufei and alucard sit, looking depressed as the clock ticks in the background)

Alucard: “I need to get a tutor.”

Wufei: “A tutor?! For study hall?!”

(back to the office)

Twilight: “Whatever. Since you never do anything to punish me, can I just go? I don’t wanna miss making fun of the nerd I sit next to next period.”

Rufus: “Twilight, I have tried everything. I’m glad that next year you’ll be somebody else’s problem.”

Twilight: “Does that mean I can go?”

Rufus: “Yes. But only because I don’t wanna fill out the discipline form because if I make a mistake, I don’t have any *ERASERS*!” *glares in the direction of heidegger’s office*

Heidegger’s voice: “That’s not gonna make them come back! Gya haa haa!”

(so twilight grins and leaves the office quite happily. Meanwhile, reno and rude are standing there in their hall monitor sashes)

Reno: “We’re almost outta here, man! Then we won’t have to worry about tests or homework or none of that sh*t anymore!”

Rude: “…What about college?”

Reno: “I’m still not sure if I’m gonna show up to that or not.”

Rude: “Hm.”

Reno: “But I know you better show up to my awesome graduation party! Everybody’s gonna be there! It’s gonna be like right outta the movies, where everybody gets drunk and a nerdy kid does something cool!”

Rude: “Gotta check with Shell.”

Reno: “Man, you always gotta check with Shell! You ain’t been to any of my parties all year!”

Rude: “Shut up, man. Here she comes.”

Reno: *mutters* “She always seems to show up when we’re talkin’ about her.”

(sure enough, shell and the rest of the dance team, consisting of tifa and rinoa, are coming down the hallway)

Shell: “I got into my first choice school *and* we won the state dancing championship. Does it get any better than that?”

Tifa: “Especially since we were the only sports related team in the school to accomplish anything.”

Rinoa: “Yeah. I feel bad for the basketball team. Talk about collapse.”

Shell: “Hi, Rude!” *gives him a kiss*

Reno: “Tifa, you coming to my totally awesome graduation party?”

Tifa: “Maybe, but it’s not to see you.”

Reno: “You’ve been less fun ever since you started dating that college guy.”

Tifa: “It’s not my fault Richter is actually mature.”

Reno: “Hey, I’m plenty mature! …And stuff.”

Rude: “Shell, can we go to Reno’s graduation party?”

Shell: “Of course, Rude! Everyone’s who’s anyone is going to be there!”

Rude: *smiles*

(meanwhile, tseng is talking with reeve in the hallway)

Reeve: “In just a few more days we’ll be high school graduates. Isn’t that exciting?”

Tseng: “Yeah, I guess.”

Reeve: *frowns* “What’s the matter, Tseng? You seem kinda depressed.”

Tseng: “…It’s nothing.”

Reeve: “You don’t have to help me write my valedictorian speech if you don’t want. I just thought you’d have some good ideas.”

Tseng: “…It’s not about that. It’s just…we’re going to different colleges next year. And we’ll be so far apart.”

Reeve: “So?”

Tseng: “So? Long distance relationships fail most of the time.”

Reeve: “That doesn’t mean we can’t make it work! If we’re really committed and we try our best, we can make it work! I know we can!”

Tseng: *smiles a little* “You really think so, Reeve?”

Reeve: “Tseng, you’ve made this last year of school my best one. I’m not about to let you go without a fight.”

Tseng: “…Same here.”

(meanwhile in the gym, the basketball team is kind of just standing around taking shots while the cheerleaders sit on the floor nearby. Quistis and steiner are standing in front of an equipment closet)

Steiner: “I do not understand! What happened to all our dodge balls?!”

Quistis: *shifty eyes* “I have no idea… Let’s go get our attendance sheets.”

(they leave)

Zidane: *taking a shot* “This sucks.”

Squall: “Totally.”

Seifer: “Those guys sucked! We should have won!”

Zell: “They totally sucked! And it was totally embarrassing to lose to those losers!”

Guys: *look at irvine*

Irvine: “Stop it! It’s not all my fault!”

Zidane: “You chucked the ball into the stands!”

Irvine: “It was an accident!”

Zidane: “Ten times!”

Irvine: “My hands were sweaty!”

Seifer: “Now the whole school is laughing at us!”

Zell: “And we’re graduating in a few days! We’ll never have another chance at the basketball championship!”

Irvine: “I feel crappy enough as it is! It’s not like I’m the only guy who ever messed up! Seifer pees himself when he gets scared!”

Seifer: “I do not!”

Irvine: “Zell’s been hitting on the dude who’s head of the bakery club!”

Zell: “Franswa and I are just friends!”

Irvine: “And Zidane’s ‘after school job’? He works for some weirdo who pays him in candy!”

Zidane: “I told you that in confidence!”

Irvine: “And Squall…well, you’re okay, Squall.”

Squall: “Whatever.”

Irvine: “My point is we all got flaws. Mine bein’ I suck when it comes to big games. I’m not gonna play sports anymore. Okay? Besides, we’ll all be at different schools next year anyway. We’ll be doin’ our own thing. This won’t matter.”

Zidane: “…Irvine’s right. Soon we’re all gonna be separated. We should enjoy what time we’ve got left together.”

Zell: “Yeah.”

Seifer: “Yeah.”

Squall: “Whatever. You really work for candy, Zidane?”

Zidane: “None of your business!”

(meanwhile, the cheerleaders, selphie, yuffie and hugh look glum.)

Yuffie: “Well we’ve got nothin’ else to do.”

Selphie: “Nope. We lost. And I thought having a male cheerleader would be really good for morale!”

Hugh: “They all make fun of me, but I don’t care! I’m going to a great college next year! So who’s laughing now?”

Yuffie: “We never got to use my cheer.”

Selphie: “Because it sucked.”

Yuffie: “I never heard you make up any cheers!”

Hugh: “I mostly did this because it looked good on my college applications.”

(the bell rings, and we go to lark’s locker where she is quickly fixing her hair. Brady comes over)

Brady: “Hey, babe.”

Lark: “Hey!” *gives him a kiss* “Walking me to class?”

Brady: “Of course.”

(she slams her locker and they start off down the hall)

Lark: “God, I cannot wait to get out of here.”

Brady: “Tell me about it. Especially Mr. Kuja’s class. We’d be better off teaching ourselves.”

Lark: “That’s pretty bad, but I still think I have it worse. Not only do I have skeevy Professor Hojo, but I have to sit next to my annoying ex-boyfriend.”

Brady: “He still being a prick?”

Lark: “Yes. And it’s gotten even worse since we got that new transfer student, Dante. He’s cool but Professor Hojo stuck him at our table and all he and Sephiroth do is fight.”

Brady: “Well, you only have to put up with it for a few more days.”

Lark: “It’s still too long.”

(reno comes up and falls into step with them)

Reno: “Not talking about me, I hope.”

Lark: “Not this time.”

Reno: “Very funny. So you two coming to my awesome party?”

Brady: “I guess so.”

Reno: “Don’t sound so enthusiastic.”

Brady: “I just don’t want the cops to show up like last time.”

Reno: “That was the first time that happened!”

Brady: *gives him a look*

Reno: “…Okay, eighth. But who’s counting?”

(lark gives Brady a kiss before they go their separate ways into their classrooms. She takes her seat with sephiroth and dante, and reno sits with tifa)

Sephiroth: “I don’t think you’ve been on time once this whole year.”

Lark: “So what? Neither has our teacher.”

Dante: “Yeah, Sephiroth. You really should have a talk with your daddy about that.”

Sephiroth: “F**k off, Dante!”

(hojo enters and comes to the front of the class)

Hojo: “The school year is almost over. I just don’t care anymore. I’ll stand here until Mr. Kuja finally returns to his classroom. Has anyone seen the escaped research specimen lately?”

Reno: “He comes around the back of the school where I smoke pot sometimes.” *blink blink* “Uh…I mean where other kids smoke pot. So I’ve heard.”

Hojo: “Right.” *looks out door* “Ah! There’s Mr. Kuja at last! Study for the final or something.”

(he leaves)

Twilight: “Why should I care about this class when the teacher doesn’t?!”

Nida: “He never even told us what’s on the final! And my lab partner keeps setting my notebooks on fire!”

Twilight: *laughs* “I love all the crappy teachers I have!”

Laguna: “Hey hey! I have a copy of the school newspaper if anyone wants to read it!”

Reno: “That thing sucks. You just copy it on the school copy machines.”

Laguna: *frowns* “They wouldn’t let us raise money from a bake sale.”

Reeve: *flipping through his notebook* “I don’t even know what he could test us on. We really didn’t learn anything this year.”

Reno: “I learned I like having a hot female lab partner!”

Tifa: “Get away from me!”

Sephiroth: “So, Lark. You still dating that same loser?”

Lark: “Stop it. I’m trying to study.”

Sephiroth: “Study? How are you going to study? You haven’t taken notes the whole year! You just don’t wanna talk to me!”

Lark: “Wow. You’re so smart.”

Dante: “In case you haven’t realized by now, no one wants to talk to you.”

Sephiroth: “No one wants to talk to *you*.”

Dante: “Plenty of people want to talk to me. I’m in a band. You’re a nobody who’s related to the creepy science teacher.”

Sephiroth: “Stop saying that!”

Dante: “Well you are.”

Nida: *calls* “Professor Hojo! Sephiroth and Dante are fighting again!”

Hojo’s voice: *from across the hall* “Consult your textbook!”

Nida: *frowns* “But you made us hand those back in.”

Reno: “Those things were from the stone age anyway.”

Reeve: “They were pretty outdated.”

Twilight: “Bio textbooks suck. Earth science ones are way better. I blacked out the H and part of the E on mine so it said ‘Fart Science’.” *laughs*

Nida: *calls* “Professor Hojo! Twilight admitted to defacing school property!”

Hojo’s voice: “Great work, Twilight!”

Nida: *frowns* “I don’t think he’s been listening.”

Sephiroth: “Lark, I really, really think we need to talk.”

Lark: “I really, really think we shouldn’t.”

Sephiroth: “I’m way better than him! Why aren’t you seeing this!?”

Dante: “You’re not even slightly better than anyone.”

Sephiroth: “Shut up, Dante!”

Lark: “Dante’s right, Sephiroth. You’re not that great. We weren’t compatible. And I don’t love you. And you don’t love me.” *glares and whispers* “You know who you really love.”

Sephiroth: *hisses* “That’s a lie.”

Lark: *softly* “The only lie is the one you’re telling to yourself.”

(the bell rings. everybody gets up and grabs their stuff)

Reno: “That was the longest period *ever*.”

Tifa: “Especially sitting next to you.”

Reno: “Aw, come on, baby! Why you gotta be like that!”

Lark: *starts to leave*

Sephiroth: “Lark…”

Lark: *turns around and snaps quietly* “Get yourself in order. And don’t try and talk to me about it again. We’re over. Why can’t you just accept that?”

(she leaves and goes into the cafeteria where zechs is talking to treize and wufei is looking annoyed)

Wufei: “Where’s my pretzel, you fruitcake! Stop chatting and serve me! ZECHS!”

Lark: “Hey, woofers.”

Wufei: “Hey, woman. Can you tell Treize to shut up? Because I’ve been trying for the last five minutes and he won’t.”

Treize: “The school year is almost to a close. And with the end of each new school year another chapter has been closed. It is the end of a battle. The battle of teaching. And just like in war each new battle is a struggle to gain ground and take prisoners. And at the end you are sad, but you still have a strange sense of fulfillment. Fulfillment like after having sex with you, Zechs.”

Zechs: *blushes*

Wufei: “INAPPROPRIATE! Give me my damn pretzel, Zechs!”

Zechs: *sigh* “Here, Wufei.” *hands him pretzel*

Wufei: “Thank Nataku I’m graduating and don’t have to battle for my damn snack every day!”

Lark: “You’ll miss it.”

Wufei: “Don’t talk like you understand Wufei, woman!”

(they go over to the table where heero, duo, quatre, trowa and Ashley are eating lunch.)

Ashley: “I have no idea what I’m doing for my photography final. I took a picture of a bridge, but Trowa said I should have taken a picture of a foot! But the professor mentioned bridges like ten times!”

Trowa: “It was a metaphor. If you push me in front of a bus after school you can have my project.”

Ashley: “Hmm…” *thinks*

Quatre: “Ashley!”

Ashley: “What? He does really good work!”

Duo: “I can’t wait to go to college. Then I don’t have to pretend to like rap music anymore.”

Heero: “No one ever believed you anyway.”

Duo: “They didn’t?! But I walked around singing the songs for months!”

Heero: “Everyone was laughing.”

Quatre: “I can’t wait till the graduation ceremony! It’s going to be beautiful! The stage will look beautiful, the students will be beautiful, the principal—“

Wufei: “You sound gay. Shut up.”

Ashley: “Are you guys all going to Reno’s party?”

Duo: “Yup!”

Heero: “I guess.”

Quatre: “Sure!”

Wufei: “Parties are weak!”

Trowa: “I hope to be dead by then.”

Ashley: “How about you, Lark?”

Lark: “Huh?”

Ashley: “I asked if you were going to Reno’s party.”

Lark: “Oh. Yeah. I’m going.”

Ashley: “You okay? You seem distracted.”

Lark: “Yeah, I’m fine. I’m just annoyed.”

Ashley: “Sephiroth again?”

Lark: “Why won’t he just shut up?”

Ashley: “I really don’t think he knows how.”

(the bell rings)

Duo: *jumps up* “One more day closer to getting outta here!”

Trowa: “So will you do it, Ashley?”

Ashley: “I don’t think so. I’ll just go home and take a picture of my foot.”

Trowa: “Dammit.”

Lark: “See you guys tomorrow.”

(she goes back to her locker, and as she goes there she takes a shortcut, passing through a short hallway full of empty classrooms. at least she thinks it’s empty. she hears voices and stops for a moment to listen)

???????: “The school year is almost over.”

?????????: “Yeah. So?”

???????: “So…I thought maybe…”

?????????: “Vincent, no. I don’t want my father to find out!”

(lark gasps and quickly claps a hand over her mouth. it’s sephiroth and vincent)

Vincent: “You’ll be going away to school. He doesn’t have to find out.”

Sephiroth: “He still might. He won’t pay for college if he does. Are you gonna pay for me to go?”

Vincent: “…If that’s what it takes…”

Sephiroth: “Oh, stop it, Vincent. This can’t work. I…I don’t even love you anymore.”

Vincent: “That’s not what your eyes tell me.”

(lark then hears footsteps and goes to leave, but then sephiroth comes out of the room and sees her standing there. she gasps and freezes)

Sephiroth: *frowns* “Lark… How long have you been standing there?”

Lark: “What? Oh, me? I just got here.”

Sephiroth: *frowns* “…You’re lying.”

Lark: “I have to get going…”

(she hurries over to her locker, but sephiroth follows her. he leans against the locker next to hers to face her and whispers quietly)

Sephiroth: “I don’t love him, Lark.”

Lark: “Anyone could tell you were lying.”

Sephiroth: “I wasn’t lying. I don’t love him. I love you.”

Lark: “You don’t want me. You only want me  because when we broke up you didn’t get hurt. Because you really didn’t care.”

Sephiroth: “That’s not true! What even makes you say that?”

Lark: “You think it’s not obvious? You’re not fighting for me. You’re fighting for yourself.”

(sephiroth frowns. then suddenly he grabs lark by the shoulders, pins her against the locker and kisses her hard. lark tries to push him away, but he’s much bigger than her. finally he backs off. that’s when lark sees Brady standing there staring at her looking angry and very shocked)

Lark: “Brady!”

Brady: “I don’t believe this!” *stalks off*

Lark: “Brady, no! It’s not what you think!” *slams locker and turns to sephiroth* “Stay outta my life!”

(she starts to walk away, but there the dream ends. lark’s eyes pop open and she sits up, looking around at the darkened room.)

Lark: *mumbles* “I haven’t had that dream in a long time…”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(later in loser land, hojo is sitting before his computer. nida and scarlet are standing in front of heidegger, who is lying on the couch, eyes closed)

Nida: “Is he dead?”

Scarlet: “I don’t know. I haven’t seen him breathe in awhile.”

Nida: “Maybe he choked on something and we didn’t notice.”

Scarlet: “That could be.”

Nida: “Or maybe he just died of being too fat. Could that happen?”

Scarlet: “That could probably happen.”

Hojo: “Would you two stop it? He’s not dead.”

Nida: “Oh yeah? You try and wake him up then, Professor genius!”

Hojo: “Very well!” *yells* “Ice cream man!”

Heidegger: *sits up* “Where? Gya haa haa!”

Scarlet: “Dammit.”

Nida: “I knew I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up.”

Hojo: “Have you checked your company e-mail lately, Scarlet? Because there’s quite an amusing memo here I think you should see.”

Scarlet: *walks over* “Rufus said he gave up on trying to make me cover up more!”

Hojo: “Oh, it’s worse than that. It says:” *reads* “Attention employees, this is your boss, Rufus Shinra. Some of you may not know that there are cameras all over the building. Well there are. And when I watched the footage I was disgusted and appalled to see employees engaging in sexual activities all over the building! So from now on if I catch anyone else having sex of any kind on camera they are fired! That means no conducting business in the building, Scarlet, or having sex on other people’s office furniture, Tseng, and that means no sneaking off to the bathroom to jerk off, Reno. This will be enforced! Your supreme leader, Rufus Shinra.”

Scarlet: “He had to name me!? By name!?”

Heidegger: “Gya haa haa! Of course!”

Hojo: “You are the only prostitute in the company. Well, female one. But Nick in finance is much more discreet than you.”

Nida: “Ha ha! Scarlet got in trouble! I never get in trouble! I only get praised!”

Scarlet: “You said yesterday you got in trouble for putting a tack on Squall’s chair!”

Nida: “I was framed!”

Hojo: “Now, now, we all knew Scarlet was a whore long ago. I have more interesting news.”

Scarlet: “You finally figured out why Heidegger can eat all these freaky things and not die?”

Hojo: “No.”

Heidegger: “Freak of nature! Gya haa haa!”

Nida: “You’re gonna tell us what the licky licky monster does if it isn’t licking?”

Hojo: “No. I thought of a brilliant, fool proof plan to take over the ramble room!”

Scarlet and Nida: “…Oh.”

Heidegger: “That’s not interesting! Gya haa haa!”

Hojo: “What!? What are you talking about?”

Scarlet: “We still trying to do that?”

Hojo: “Yes we’re still trying to do that!”

Scarlet: “It’s just…your plans never work. Ever.”

Hojo: “I’m bound to succeed one of these days!”

Heidegger: “Not necessarily! Gya haa haa!”

Nida: “And if this is a real plan to take over the ramble room, how come Kuja and Seymour aren’t here?”

Hojo: “Because I don’t trust them. Kuja has become quite chummy with several people in the ramble room. And Seymour has been following Kuja around like a pathetic dog.”

Nida: “What about Kefka?”

Hojo: *shudders* “I don’t want to be anywhere near that…thing. Besides, the last time I involved him in one of my schemes he completely messed it up!”

Scarlet: “You know, I haven’t seen him around lately.”

Nida: “And I haven’t been hearing that evil clown laughter in my sleep anymore.”

Hojo: *shudders* “Enough talk about that freak. Let’s talk about my foolproof plan.”

Scarlet: “Foolproof my ass. I bet you already made an antidote.”

Hojo: “Actually, no antidote is necessary. The effects will wear off on their own.”

Scarlet: “Then what the hell’s the point?”

Hojo: “The difference is I am not trying to create a physical abnormality this time. I am not trying to play with their minds on a long term scale. Once the effect of the potion wears off, normal human emotional damage will take care of the rest.”

Nida: “Emotional damage?! What the hell are you talking about!?”

Hojo: “Simple. I have potion meant for specific people. After unknowingly ingesting the potion they will suddenly want nothing but to copulate with another specific person who has also been given the potion!”

Nida: “Copulate?”

Scarlet: “It’s a fancy word that means have sex.”

Heidegger: “Gya haa haa! Scarlet knows a lot about sex!”

Scarlet: “Shut up, Heidegger!”

Nida: “I don’t get it! What’s the big deal? All they do is have sex at the ramble room!”

Hojo: “True, but the ‘big deal’ is the people involved. All of the ramble girls will be given the potion. And not only are they all attached to begin with, but I have chosen partners who I know will make their lovers even more upset.”

Nida: “Okay…so what?”

Hojo: *annoyed sigh* “So what?! So what indeed! They will cheat on their boyfriends! They will all fight about it and make enemies of their former friends! They will then leave the ramble room! And once they are gone it will be easy to get it!”

Scarlet: “And why do we want the ramble room again?”

Hojo: “You’re all hopeless. Who wants to hand out the potion?”

Nida: *raises hand* “Ooh! I do!”

(hojo takes out a small pouch and opens it. inside are six small vials which have been numbered)

Hojo: “Very well. As you can see, each of the vials is labeled properly. Ashley, Squall, Shell, Reno, Lark and Sephiroth. Anyone with half a brain can get this right.”

Nida: “I get to screw with Squall? Bonus!”

Hojo: “Get them to drink this any way you can. Make sure the right people get the right vial. It’s programmed for their DNA and it won’t work for anyone else.  So no mistakes. Especially since after this scheme I’m pretty much out of ideas for awhile.”

Nida: *grabs pouch* “You can count on me!”

(he leaves. hojo rubs his hands together eagerly)

Hojo: “Finally…we will have the fall of the house of ramble!”

Scarlet: “The what?”

Hojo: “……Just let me have my moment.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(so, vials in hand, nida sneaks over to the ramble room. he sneaks inside and hears voices in the ramble room. he stops and listens. it’s franswa and zell)

Zell: “You sure put a lot of work into this!”

Franswa: “Well, I was bored last night. So I thought I’d try out some of the special drink recipes I want to use for my restaurant.”

Zell: “So you made a different drink for everyone in the ramble room?”

Franswa: “Yup. You can see why I really need to get it narrowed down.”

Zell: “Are they alcoholic?”

Franswa: “Some of them are. For the people who like that kind of thing.”

Zell: “How long did this take you? You made up special name labels for each bottle!”

Franswa: “My label maker doesn’t get enough use. It didn’t take very long. Especially since I really need the feedback.”

Zell: “Well let’s go tell everyone to come pick up their bottles!”

(nida runs away and hides until they leave the room.)

Nida: *mutters* “Personalized drink bottles for everyone in the ramble room? I couldn’t have set this up better if I was writing it myself!”

(so he goes into the ramble room and he finds the bottles for lark, shell, and Ashley and he fills those with the proper liquid. then he does the bottles for reno and squall. and then he dumps the potion meant for sephiroth…into the bottle marked for seifer. only after he dumps it all in does he realize his mistake)

Nida: *softly* “Dammit! That says Seifer, not Sephiroth! I shoulda read more than two letters!”

(he goes to peel the label off the seifer bottle, but then he hears voices coming. he puts the bottles all into place and high tails it out of there. lark, shell, Ashley and Brady enter)

Lark: “I guess these were the drinks Franswa was talking about.”

Ashley: “He certainly knows how to make drinks in lots of different colors.”

Shell: “Where’s mine? He said it was called Diamond Passion. Doesn’t that sound like an expensive drink?”

Brady: “Here are all your bottles, and here’s mine.”

(they go to drink, but before they can, zidane, algus, rufus, squall, rinoa, seifer, rude, reno, irvine and sephiroth all enter)

Reno: “I heard there was free booze!”

Irvine: “Franswa is cool in my book now!”

Rinoa: “He certainly went through a lot of trouble.”

Squall: “Whatever.”

Algus: “Pour it in my mouth, slave.”

Zidane: “Pour it in your own mouth, Algus.”

Rufus: “I’m glad to see he’s doing such good research for the restaurant. It makes me even more comfortable with my decision to invest in it.”

Algus: “Here here.”

Sephiroth: *rolls eyes* “I’m with Squall. Whatever.”

(everyone finds their bottle and takes a drink.)

Shell: “Mm, this is great! How’s yours, Rude?”

Rude: “Good. I like when things are free.”

Rinoa: “I have to find Franswa and thank him. This is great! Coming, Squall?”

Squall: “No.”

Rinoa: *sigh* “Fine, I’ll meet up with you later.” *leaves*

Seifer: “Mine takes like expensive kool-aid! Awesome!”

Ashley: “You’re so immature, Seifer. Everything tastes like kool-aid to you.”

Irvine: “If he doesn’t wanna serve this drink at his restaurant, we can sure as hell use something great like this at the bar! Right, Reno?”

Reno: “Hells yeah!”

Irvine: “I’ll go ask him. Coming, Reno?”

Reno: “I’ll catch up with you.”

Irvine: “All right. You wanna come, Rude?”

Rude: “Can I, Shell?”

Brady: “You have to ask her for permission?”

Shell: “There’s nothing wrong with that! Yes, Rude. You can go.”

(irvine and rude leave. soon everyone trickles out of the room except for lark, seifer, Ashley and squall.)

Lark: “All right, I guess I better find Franswa and thank him myself. You wanna go, Ashley?”

Ashley: *looking at squall* “Maybe later.”

Seifer: “C’mon, Ashley! Let’s go!”

Ashley: “F**k off, Seifer!”

Seifer: “Geez! You don’t have to be a raging bitch about it! Forget it!”

(he and lark leave. that leaves Ashley and squall alone. they look at each other.)

Squall: “Rinoa’s spending the night at her father’s.”

Ashley: “She’s a crackwhore. And her father is an ass.”

Squall: “Yeah.”

Ashley: *fans herself* “Is it hot in here all of the sudden?”

Squall: “Yeah. I bet it’s nice and cool back in my room.”

Ashley: “Yeah…I bet it is…”

(she gives him a sexy grin, he smiles back at her and they leave together.)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, reno, rude and shell are walking down the hall together)

Reno: “Rude, aren’t ya gonna finish the rest of your drink?”

Rude: “No. I’ll save it for my lunch tomorrow.”

Reno: “You know…” *stops and suddenly looks at shell*

Rude: “…You know what?”

Reno: “Huh?”

Rude: “You okay, Reno?”

Shell: *staring at reno* “Go away, Rude.”

Rude: “What?”

Shell: “I need to talk to Reno. Go away.”

Rude: *sigh* “Yes, Shell.”

(he leaves. reno and shell still stand there staring at each other)

Reno: “You look really hot.”

Shell: “Rude bought this outfit for me.”

Reno: “I think we need to go to my room right now.”

Shell: “Me too.”

(and they hurry off together.)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, lark and Brady are standing by the door)

Lark: “You sure you have to leave?”

Brady: “I have some stuff to take care of. But I’ll be back in the morning.”

Lark: “Okay. Well, good night!”

(they kiss good-bye and he leaves. she starts walking down the hall. then suddenly she stops and just stands in the hall for a few moments. then she changes direction and quickly walks to sephiroth’s room, where she bangs on the door. he opens it, looking rather annoyed)

Sephiroth: “What is it?”

(lark doesn’t answer this question in words, instead she just throws herself at sephiroth, kissing him. he has his eyes wide open in shock. still kissing him she kicks the door shut behind her as she comes into the room. sephiroth gently pushes her off him)

Sephiroth: “Are you crazy?! What are you doing?”

Lark: “What do you mean, ‘what am I doing’?! I’m trying to have sex with you!”

Sephiroth: *blink blink* “What…?”

Lark: “I thought you wanted to have sex with me! You don’t wanna have sex with me? Well that’s too bad because I’m not taking no for an answer.”

(she goes to jump him again, but he holds her back)

Sephiroth: “Lark! This…this doesn’t make sense! You’ve been telling me to back off! Now…this doesn’t make sense!”

(lark backs off and makes a pouty face)

Lark: “…You don’t want me?”

Sephiroth: “Well…”

Lark: “Well?!”

Sephiroth: “………………”

Lark: *seductively* “Stop lying to yourself, Sephiroth…” *starts to unbutton her shirt* “You know you want me.”

(and with that sephiroth grabs her in his arms and kisses her…)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(the next morning…seifer is sitting on the porch swing looking kinda down when rinoa comes up the stairs)

Rinoa: “Hey, Seifer. Why the sour face?”

Seifer: “I think Ashley’s mad at me. She yelled at me last night and then she didn’t come back all night! And I really don’t know what I did this time! Really!”

Rinoa: “Oh. Well maybe someone else would know why she’s mad.”

Seifer: “Last time I saw her she was talking to Squall.”

Rinoa: “Well let’s go talk to Squall, then. I was heading back to my room anyway.”

(seifer gets up and they walk inside towards the room)

Seifer: “Where were you all night?”

Rinoa: *big sigh* “With my dad. After the whole strip club thing he wants us to become closer as a family.”

Seifer: “Is your dad gay?”

Rinoa: “No.”

Seifer: “Then why did he own a male strip club?”

Rinoa: “For the money, I guess.” *pause* “I hope.”

(she opens the door to her room and gasps. seifer’s jaw also drops in shock. because there are clothes scattered all over the room and Ashley and squall are both passed out in the bed)

Seifer: “Ashley!?!?”

Rinoa: “Squall! How could you?! And with that crackwhore?!”

Seifer: “With one of my many mortal enemies! Ashley! What the hell?!”

(Ashley and squall both start to groggily awaken)

Ashley: “Huh…?”

Squall: “What’s going on?”

(they open their eyes and then look at each other in confusion. then they both scream and grab the blankets to cover up)

Ashley: “What the hell happened?!”

Squall: “I don’t know.”

Ashley: “Did we have sex!?”

Rinoa: “Obviously!”

Squall: “Rinoa! I…I don’t remember anything…”

Ashley: “Me neither!”

Seifer: “Probably because you were drunk or something, you skank!”

Ashley: “That’s crazy! I don’t remember drinking!”

Squall: “Me neither.”

Rinoa: “I don’t believe this! How could you do this to me, Squall?!” *runs off crying*

Squall: “Rinoa, wait!” *puts on some pants and runs after her*

Ashley: *hand to her head* “How could I sleep with Squall and not remember it? This doesn’t make sense…”

Seifer: “I maybe could understand you cheating on me, Ashley! But with Squall?! Why didn’t you just have sex with Nida!”

Ashley: “Seifer, listen to me—“

Seifer: “No! I’m sick of listening to you! We’re over! I never thought I’d be the one to say it!”

Ashley: “Seifer, wait!”

(but seifer stalks out of the room. Ashley scrambles out of bed and starts grabbing her clothes)

Ashley: “If I had sex with Squall I would have at least remembered it!”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, rude is looking quite sad when he knocks on reno’s door. and knocks. and knocks. but there’s no answer. he looks confused)

Rude: “Reno?”

(still no answer. with a sigh, rude reaches into his pocket and pulls out a key.)

Rude: “If I have to take you to the hospital again you’ll have to pay me back with more than five bucks.”

(he opens the door and his eyes widen as the keys fall to the ground. because there are shell and reno passed out in bed together.)

Rude: “WHAT. THE. F**K.”

(both of them slowly start to stir)

Reno: “…Huh? What time is it?”

Rude: “How could you do this behind my back?! How long has this been going on?!”

Shell: *still not awake* “Quiet down, Rude.”

Rude: “No! I WILL NOT QUIET DOWN!”

(that wakes shell and reno up finally. they both stare at rude, and then turn and look at each other)

Both: “What the hell?!”

Reno: “We had sex?!”

Shell: “We did?! No way! I’d never have sex with you!”

Reno: “Hey! Why the hell not!? We’ve fooled around before, remember?”

Rude: “You’re supposed to be my best friend, Reno!”

Reno: “Rude. Man. I swear, if I slept with your girlfriend I really don’t remember any of it.”

Rude: “Of course not! You drunk!”

Shell: “I don’t remember it either! And I don’t remember drinking!”

Rude: “Sure you don’t! This has probably been going on for years!”

Shell: “No way, Rude! I really don’t know what happened!”

Rude: “Save it! I’m not taking orders from you anymore!”

Shell: *gasp*

(he runs out. shell leaps out of bed and starts to get dressed)

Reno: “…I don’t remember sex sometimes, but this time it seems extra hazy. I’d at least remember getting drunk!”

Shell: “I have to talk to Rude. Rude!”

(and she runs out the door after him.)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, in sephiroth’s room, lark’s still passed out in bed. sephiroth sitting there looking down at her with a frown)

Sephiroth: “…That was weak of me. I guess that’s what being lonely can do to a person.”

(there’s a knock at the door. with a sigh sephiroth puts on some pants and answers the door. it’s Brady. his eyes widen immediately and he freezes)

Brady: “Hey. Have you seen—LARK!?”

(he pushes past sephiroth into the room and stares at where lark is passed out in the bed. he then turns back and looks at sephiroth in shock)

Brady: “WHAT DID YOU DO?!”

Sephiroth: “Don’t blame me! She wanted it!”

Brady: “WHAT!?”

(lark stirs, and sits up, rubbing her eyes.)

Lark: “What’s everybody yelling about?”

Brady: “Is this true, Lark?”

Lark: “Huh?”

Brady: “That you *wanted* to have sex with Sephiroth?”

Lark: “What?!” *sees sephiroth and looks down at herself* “Omg! What the hell happened?!”

Brady: “Don’t play dumb! You know what you did!”

Lark: “I had sex with Sephiroth?!” *gets up holding the sheet around her* “But—but that’s crazy! I’d never—I don’t remember any of it! I don’t remember it at all!”

Brady: “Sure you don’t! How dumb do you think am I!?”

Lark: “Brady, I swear—“

Brady: “You can keep her!”

Lark: “Brady!”

(but Brady storms out. lark looks really upset. she quickly fumbles for her clothes)

Lark: “This is crazy! I would never, ever cheat on him! And how could I have sex with you, and not remember it!? It makes no sense!”

Sephiroth: “You were acting kind of weird.”

Lark: “I bet this was the work of a certain someone. And I’ll be damned if he’s gonna f**k with me like this!”

(she storms out. sephiroth stands there looking lost)

Sephiroth: “…How could I be so stupid?”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(lark is rushing down the hall trying to find Brady when she runs into a frantic looking Ashley and an equally frantic looking shell)

Shell: “Have you seen Rude?”

Ashley: “Have you seen Seifer?”

Lark: “Have you seen Brady?”

All: “…………”

Lark: “What happened?”

Shell: “I slept with Reno! But I don’t remember it!”

Ashley: “I slept with Squall but I don’t remember it.”

Lark: “Yeah, well I slept with Sephiroth and I don’t remember it. So either we all picked the same day to cheat on our guys and conveniently not remember it, or this was the doing of you-know-who.”

Shell and Ashley: “Hojo.”

Lark: “Exactly.”

(then rude, seifer, rinoa and Brady come over, and they all look pissed)

Seifer: “Well, well, well! If it isn’t the three cheaters!”

Ashley: “We didn’t cheat! …At least not on purpose.”

Lark: “This is crazy! Don’t you think it’s weird we *all* decided to cheat on the same day? And we *all* claim we don’t remember it!”

Rude: “You’re all friends.”

Brady: “Yeah. You could have planned this.”

Shell: “What a stupid thing to plan!”

Rinoa: “Who’s the crackwhore now!”

Ashley: “Don’t you *dare* say that to me!”

Lark: “I bet Hojo had something to do with this!”

Seifer: “Sure he did! Blame it on Hojo like always! Well we’re not buying the Hojo story this time!”

Lark: “You will when I prove it! I’ll go to loser land right now and make that disgusting pervert confess! Because I would never cheat on you, Brady! And with Sephiroth?! Come on!”

Brady: “Oh, he’s been all over you for months! Don’t act so surprised!”

Lark: “I don’t love him! I love you!”

(then rufus, algus and zidane walk over looking confused)

Rufus: “What’s going on here?”

Algus: “Why is everyone yelling like in a tenement house?”

Shell: “Because Hojo drugged us!”

Rude: “I’m not buying it.”

Ashley: “I wouldn’t sleep with Squall, Seifer!”

Seifer: “You were probably just waiting for me to turn my back!”

Rufus: “What?”

Lark: “I’m going over to Hojo’s right now! And then you’ll see the truth!”

Brady: “You can’t always blame everything on Hojo!”

(the ramble girls stalk off, and the others also leave in a huff. rufus, algus and zidane are left standing there confused)

Zidane: “…O…kay…”

Algus: “I’m confused.”

Rufus: “Me too. I don’t really wanna get involved. I was going to take Max to see my new gas station. Wanna go?”

Algus: “Certainly, Rufus! You know I’m always interested in seeing your new businesses!”

Zidane: “Gas station? I never heard anything about any gas station!”

Rufus: “It was an impulse buy.”

Zidane: “Gum is an impulse buy. Not a gas station.”

Algus: “Silence, Zidane. You wish you had enough pocket change to buy gum.”

Zidane: *frowns* “You know it.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(so lark, shell and Ashley go over to loser land and bang on the door.)

Lark: “Open up, Hojo!”

Ashley: “I can’t believe they’d think we’d cheat on them!”

Shell: “I know! I’d never cheat on Rude, but if I did it would be with someone rich! Not a bum like Reno!”

(finally the door opens. it’s kuja)

Kuja: “Hi, girls.”

Lark: “Hi, Kuja. You’re remotely trustworthy. Do you know of any scheme Hojo had to try and take over the ramble room?”

Kuja: “Um…not that I know about. But I wasn’t here yesterday. I was shopping. That’s an all day event.”

Shell: “Damn straight it is.”

Ashley: “Well can we come in?”

Lark: “I’d like to confront Dr. jerk-off myself.”

Kuja: “I know you didn’t mean it that way, but that name is more appropriate than you realize.”

(he steps aside and the girls come in. nida is playing a video game with scarlet and heidegger and hojo is at the computer)

Nida: “Whoo! I’m the Mario Party Superstar!”

Scarlet: “Whatever. You totally cheated.”

Nida: “Nuh-uh! I totally won fair and square!”

Scarlet: “No you didn’t. You gave yourself nine stars to start with!”

Nida: “You’re full of lies!”

Heidegger: “Gya haa haa! I ate my controller!”

Lark: “Hojo! What did you do to us?”

Hojo: “*You*? Who let you girls in here?!”

Kuja: *flips hair over shoulder* “I did.”

Hojo: “Darling! Why would you do something like that?”

Kuja: “Because I like them. And it’ll improve the smell in here for sure.”

Heidegger: “It mostly smells like my farts! Gya haa haa!”

Kuja: “Now I have to go help Seymour with his seaweed mask.”

(he leaves. the girls go over to confront hojo and they look pissed. they glare at him with their hands on their hips. hojo looks quite nervous)

Hojo: “Heh…what can I do for you girls? Are you looking to buy sperm? I have some from the guys in the condos now.”

Lark: “No, Hojo. We don’t want to buy your stolen sperm. What did you do to us?!”

Hojo: “I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about…”

Ashley: “Sure you don’t! We all cheated on our boyfriends last night but none of us remember it!”

Shell: “Now they won’t talk to us!”

Hojo: “Exxxxcell—“ *coughs violently* “Er…that’s horrible.”

Lark: “We know you’re behind this, Hojo! Now tell us what you did or you’ll pay for it!”

Hojo: “You can’t make me admit to anything.”

Lark: “Shell.”

(shell takes a mask out from her purse and holds it up. it’s a scary clown mask)

Shell: “I think we can.”

Hojo: *slinking away* “I’m not scared of…”

Ashley: “I will put that mask on right now!”

Hojo: “All right! All right! I’ll tell you! Just put the mask away!”

(shell puts the mask away)

Scarlet: “I tried to tell you your stupid scheme wouldn’t work. Now they’re just too smart for you.”

Lark: “What did you do?!”

Hojo: “I crafted a brilliant solution that programmed you to want to have sex with a specific person. Afterwards you would simply pass out until you were awakened by others, not remembering a thing. It was a brilliant plan! Brilliant I tell you!”

Scarlet: “So brilliant they pretty much saw through it in five seconds.”

Hojo: “Brilliant!”

Ashley: “Why would you do a sick thing like that?!”

Hojo: “Because! If you were fighting with your friends you’d leave! And then I could take over the ramble room!”

Lark: “You’re still trying to do that?!”

Scarlet: “That’s what I said.”

Shell: “How’d you give us the solution?”

Nida: “Ooh, that was my job! And that idiot Franswa pretty much made it a piece of cake too!”

Ashley: “So you spiked Franswa’s drinks.”

Nida: “Yeah I did!”

Lark: “So Ashley, Shell, Reno, Squall, Sephiroth and myself all got this potion.”

Hojo: “Naturally.”

Nida: “Er…”

Hojo: *sharply* “What?”

Nida: “Well…I kinda messed up a little.”

Hojo: “What do you mean you messed up a little?! Apparently your opportunity was given to you on a silver platter!”

Nida: “It was! But I kinda wasn’t paying attention so I poured the vial meant for Sephiroth into the vial meant for Seifer.”

Lark: *eyes widen* “*What*?!”

Ashley: “But…you said you slept with him…didn’t you Lark?”

Shell: “But he didn’t get the potion…”

Hojo: “Oh. Well it seems my son was desperate anyway. You’re off the hook, Nida.”

Lark: “I’ll deal with you later, Hojo. Let’s go, girls.”

(they leave loser land and stand outside a minute)

Shell: “You get it on tape, Ashley?”

Ashley: *holds up tape recorder* “Yup. And now that we have his confession, I guess everyone else should believe us.”

Shell: “Yeah. But Sephiroth… He knew what he was doing when he…”

Lark: *sharply* “I know.” *clenches fist* “I’ll deal with him myself.”

Ashley: “I can’t believe he’d do that!”

Lark: “Heh. …Really? Because I can.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, rufus takes max, algus and zidane to see his gas station, which is called Rufus’ Gas Co. it is done up in all shinra colors. there are a couple of cars getting filled up, and there is a straw guy wearing a crown made of candles running around filling tanks up)

Algus: “Things seem to be moving smoothly, Rufus!”

Rufus: “This place practically runs itself.”

Zidane: “I would have thought you’d pick something that can’t possibly light on fire, instead of something that will totally explode with a single spark.”

Rufus: “I like adventure.”

Max: “Daddy?”

Rufus: “Yes?”

Max: “Who’s that?” *points to the straw guy*

Rufus: “That’s daddy’s employee! He works for straw!”

Zidane: “He’s made of straw.”

Rufus: “That he is.”

Zidane: “He’s wearing candles on his head.”

Rufus: “Yup!”

Zidane: “And he’s working at a gas station.”

Rufus: “*My* gas station!”

Zidane: “That guy is like a walking fire hazard.”

Rufus: “Yeah, but…he’ll work for straw.”

Algus: “As he should! As should all peasants! Or peasant…related…things…”

Everyone: *stares at the straw guy*

Algus: “What *is* that?”

Rufus: “I don’t know. Said he was some kind of good luck charm from the east or something. Whatever that means. His name is Mojo. Or Mojoy. Or something dumb like that. He’s working for straw. That’s all that matters.”

Mojo: *running around* “Boogum! I like-om my new job!”

Zidane: “Where did you find this guy?”

Rufus: “Never mind. You wanna see the garage? There are some familiar faces!” *frowns* “Who better know how to work on cars.”

(just then the garage opens and nightmare and nemesis come out)

Nightmare: “Nightmare likes that he can fix cars and listen to his music at the same time!”

Nemesis: “STARS!”

Max: *hides behind rufus* “Daddy, I’m scared.”

Rufus: “Daddy’s a little scared too, honey. Zidane, why don’t you take Max inside the convenience mart to get a candy bar?”

Zidane: “Can *I* get a candy bar?”

Algus: “I don’t know about that, Zidane!”

Rufus: *big sigh* “Fine. But just one.”

Zidane: “Hooray! Come on, Max!”

(they run inside the store. and who is at the counter reading a book? bryatt.)

Zidane: *blink blink* “Bryatt? What are you doing here?”

Bryatt: “Oh, hey, Zidane. What am I doing here? I thought it was the library – no, I’m working.”

Zidane: “Working? For Rufus? Why?”

Bryatt: “Because he’s paying me. And I don’t really have to do anything.”

Zidane: “Oh. I guess that kinda makes sense.”

Bryatt: “Who’s your friend there?”

Zidane: “This is Max. Say hi to Bryatt, Max.”

Max: *shyly* “Hi…”

Zidane: “Why don’t you run over there and pick out a candy bar for both of us.”

Max: “Okay!”

(max runs over to the candy)

Zidane: “Max is Rufus’ adopted son.”

Bryatt: “I had no idea Rufus had an adopted son.”

Zidane: “Yeah. He’s a good kid. So how’s working here?”

Bryatt: “Boring. Weird. My co-workers belong in a freak show. But it’s kind of entertaining.”

Zidane: “That pretty much sums up working for Rufus. Tseng know you’re doing this?”

Bryatt: “No! Hell no. He wouldn’t approve. But I can sit back here and read or write all day while I earn money. So it could be worse.”

Zidane: “Yeah. You could be working candy.”

Max: *comes over* “Zidane! I got you a candy bar like you wanted!”

Bryatt: *gives zidane a look* “Yeah…like someone else I know.”

Zidane: *sweat drops* “Heh.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(back at the ramble room, Ashley and shell have gathered reno, rude, seifer, squall, and rinoa together. everyone is yelling)

Seifer: “What the hell is this?! An announcement that you’re dumping me for Squall!?”

Rinoa: “You can have her, because I sure as hell don’t want you!”

Squall: “Rinoa…”

Rude: “You are no friend of mine, Reno!”

Reno: “Dude, I may sometimes do stuff that’s not really honorable, but I’d never sleep with my best friend’s girl!”

Rude: “Liar!”

Shell: “Shut up! Everybody just shut up!”

Ashley: “We have proof that this was all Hojo’s doing!”

Everyone: *freezes* “What?”

(Ashley holds up the tape recorder and plays the tape. everyone listens quietly until it’s over)

Seifer: “…Oh.”

Rude: “So…you really don’t remember anything?”

Reno: “No! Honestly! See, I was drugged! The bad kind of drugged!”

Squall: “Rinoa, I told you I’d never cheat on you!”

Rinoa: “Well…I guess since it was Hojo…”

Shell: “Rude? Do you forgive me, considering I was drugged by a skeevy scientist?”

Rude: “…Few others could afford you anyway, Shell.”

(rude and shell, Ashley and seifer, and rinoa and squall all hug each other. reno shrugs)

Reno: “Well, that worked out quick enough.”

(irvine comes in)

Irvine: “Dude! I heard you slept with Shell! *Nice*!”

Reno: “Uh, dude. I was drugged.”

Irvine: “So?”

Reno: “I mean by Hojo.”

Irvine: “Oh. That kinda sucks.”

Reno: “Let’s just get to the bar.”

(they leave)

Rinoa: “What about Lark?”

Ashley: “Yeah…things weren’t quite so simple there.”

Squall: “What do you mean?”

Ashley: “I mean she was drugged, but Sephiroth kinda wasn’t.”

Rinoa: *gasp* “Seriously? And he…”

Ashley: “Yeah.”

Rinoa: “What is she gonna do?”

(Ashley and shell look at each other and sadly shake their heads)

Ashley: “I’m really not sure…”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(lark finally manages to find Brady sitting in the tv room.)

Lark: “Brady! There you are!”

Brady: *coldly* “What.”

Lark: “Look, I really need to talk to you about what happened. It’s not what it looked like at all. I mean, it’s kind of what it looked like, but it wasn’t on purpose. Hojo drugged us. He drugged all of us with this stuff that made me sleep with Sephiroth. I know that sounds crazy but I have the proof that he did it. And you know I would never, ever cheat on you like that!”

Brady: “Proof, huh? ‘Cause to me, the only proof I really need to see are your clothes on his floor.”

Lark: “…I didn’t really sleep with him. Not on purpose. I don’t even remember it! I was drugged!”

Brady: “I don’t care!! I don’t care if you were sober, I don’t care of you were drunk, I don’t care if you were drugged – what you did was wrong! How the hell am I supposed to feel about this??”

Lark: “I don’t know! Not like this! I didn’t do this on my own! I didn’t do it consciously! Not like Sephiroth did!”

(lark suddenly stops short and puts a hand over her mouth.)

Brady: “…So he wasn’t drugged?”

Lark: “…No. According to Nida he messed up and Sephiroth never got the potion like the rest of us.”

Brady: *angry* “THAT SON OF A F**CKING BITCH! I know he could kill me, but I’d sure like to punch him in the f**king face!”

Lark: “I know, I’m pissed at him too. I don’t know what he was thinking.” *goes to touch him*

Brady: *moves away* “Don’t touch me! This doesn’t absolve you!”

Lark: *furrows brow* “…What? I…I don’t understand…”

Brady: “Just keep away from me! Just keep away from me and leave me alone!”

Lark: “But Brady! What about the wedding?”

Brady: “…Who says we’re still getting married?”

(and with that Brady walks away. Lark looks like she’s confused and is about to cry. But soon that expression hardens into anger, and she storms out of the room.)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(lark storms over to sephiroth’s room and bangs on the door. she looks livid. he answers it looking pretty depressed)

Sephiroth: “Lark.”

Lark: “Sephiroth.”

Sephiroth: “Look, about last night—“

Lark: “We were all drugged. Me, Reno, Squall, Shell, Ashley – everybody. Everybody but you.”

Sephiroth: “I—“

Lark: “Nida messed up. You didn’t get the drug like you were supposed to. And yet Hojo’s plan still worked.”

Sephiroth: “Look—“

Lark: “You knew what you were doing. And you did it anyway.”

Sephiroth: “I—“

Lark: “You knew I was with someone else and you slept with me anyway! You have no excuse! You should have known something was wrong!”

Sephiroth: “For your information you came on really strong! I thought you changed your mind or something!”

Lark: “Bullsh*t! I would never cheat on Brady! I’m going to marry him! I love him! And you know that! Are you honestly trying to tell me you thought I would cheat on him?!”

Sephiroth: “………………”

Lark: “He won’t even look at me now! And it’s all your fault!” *she starts to cry* “How could you do this to me?! After everything I’ve ever done for you?! How could you?!”

Sephiroth: “I’m…sorry.”

Lark: “Sorry! You’re not sorry! You’re probably happy! Happy that you made me miserable – just like you are!”

Sephiroth: “Lark—“

(lark is still crying and she starts to hit sephiroth. he tries to restrain her by grabbing her wrists. this is when tseng walks over and sees what’s going on. he stops and looks stunned for a moment.)

Sephiroth: “Lark, stop it!”

Lark: “Don’t touch me!”

(she reels back and then punches sephiroth in the face. he looks stunned. tseng comes over and takes lark gently by the shoulders)

Tseng: “What’s going on here?”

Sephiroth: *opens mouth*

Lark: “Don’t talk! Don’t say another word! I want you out! Get out of here! I never want to see you around here again!”

(sephiroth closes his mouth and he looks very sad. lark turns to tseng and sobs into his shoulder. sephiroth goes into his room and shuts the door.)

Tseng: “Lark…what happened? Lark?”

(but lark is crying too hard to answer him.)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

(so sephiroth leaves the ramble room, holding a suitcase and hanging his head in shame. he goes over to the castle next door and rings the freaky screaming doorbell. moments later, dracula answers)

Dracula: “Hello!”

Sephiroth: *dully* “Is Alucard here?”

Dracula: “Are you a girl scout?! Are you selling girl scout cookies?! I love to eat girl scout cookies!” *cocks head and thinks* “Wait. Maybe I like to eat girl scouts.”

Sephiroth: “Is Alucard here?”

Dracula: “I know a girl scout song! Let’s sing it together!” *sings* “There’s something in my pocket!” *puts hand in pocket* “Hey! There really is something in my pocket!” *takes out one of his fingers* “Hey! I was looking for that!”

Sephiroth: *is walking away*

Dracula: “Good-bye, girl scout! Fare thee well on your journey across the dangerous Atlantis moon continent!” *looks at the finger* “Ah! What the hell is this?!”

(he closes the door and probably wanders back inside confused for a few moments. sephiroth plods across the street to dante’s condo. he really truly looks awful. he knocks on the door with a sad sigh. alucard answers)

Alucard: “Hi.” *blink blink* “You okay?”

Sephiroth: “……Is Dante here?”

Alucard: “No. Are you okay, Sephiroth?”

(but sephiroth just bursts into tears and puts his head on alucard’s shoulder)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, back at the ramble room, tseng has taken lark back to his room. she’s sitting at a table and he brings over a cup of tea for her)

Tseng: “Reeve swears by this stuff. He says it’s invigorating. I’m not really sure what’s in it, but it tastes pretty good.”

Lark: “Thanks.”

(he sits across from her with a cup of tea himself.)

Tseng: “So now that I’ve heard the whole story…”

Lark: “I just can’t believe it. I don’t know who I’m more upset at! Hojo… Sephiroth… Myself…”

Tseng: “It’s not really your fault. You were drugged. That’s like if someone slipped something into your drink and—“

Lark: “I don’t really wanna go there. What he did was wrong, but…it wasn’t quite that bad.”

Tseng: “I see.”

Lark: “I don’t understand why Brady’s so mad at *me*! Sephiroth – fine! I totally understand him being mad at *him*. He knew what he was doing. But I didn’t! I really, honestly didn’t!”

Tseng: “I know. But from a male perspective, he can’t really see it that way. It’s still cheating to him. It may not have been on purpose, but it still happened. You know what I mean?”

Lark: *shrugs* “I just can’t believe that the wedding may be off…”

Tseng: “I’m sure he’ll come around.”

Lark: “You really think so? Because you didn’t see how upset he was…”

Tseng: “Give him some time of cool off. I can talk to him too if you want.”

Lark: “That might help.” *sigh* “And I still have to deal with Hojo too. I was so shocked by the Sephiroth thing that I totally let him slide.”

Tseng: “I can handle that too.”

Lark: “Really?”

Tseng: “Oh yeah. It would be my pleasure.”

Lark: “Thanks for helping.”

Tseng: “Are you kidding? Lark, after all you’ve done for me and Reeve over the years, it’s the least I can do.”

Lark: *shakes head* “It seems so strange… After all Sephiroth and I have been through together… I just… I just don’t have any desire to ever see him again.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, back over at dante’s, it’s some time later. dante is by the kitchen talking quietly with alucard. sephiroth is on the couch staring at the tv still looking very depressed. lloyd is happily walking upstairs with some boxes)

Alucard: “So she told him he can’t come back. He wants to know if he can stay here for a little while.”

Dante: *looking at him* “He looks like sh*t.”

Alucard: “I know. I told him it would probably be okay, but I’d have to clear it with you.”

(dante nods and walks over to sephiroth. he climbs over the back of the couch and plops down next to sephiroth)

Dante: “Hey.”

Sephiroth: “I’m not in the mood.”

Dante: “I can see that. I’m just letting you know that you can stay here for awhile. You can have Lloyd’s room.”

Lloyd: *freezes* “What?! But you said I could have my room back now that Chris moved out!”

Dante: “I did. But now Sephiroth is staying here. So I’m taking it back.”

Lloyd: “That’s crap! You don’t even like him!!”

Dante: “Maybe not, but believe it or not I like him tons better than I like you.”

Lloyd: “You’re an asshole! I’m your twin brother!”

Dante: “I don’t care.”

Lloyd: “I hate you!” *stomps up the stairs*

Dante: “So, do you have anything you’d like to say to me?”

Sephiroth: *mumbles something*

Dante: “Sorry, didn’t quite catch that.”

Sephiroth: “…………………………Thanks.”

Dante: “You’re welcome! Now what are we getting for dinner? Pizza?” *vaults over the back of the couch and walks over to alucard*

Alucard: “With the amount of pizza you consume we should own a pizza parlor instead of a strip club.”

(they walk into the kitchen. sephiroth sighs sadly again)

Sephiroth: *mutters* “Great. I’m at the mercy of Dante. What a path I’ve chosen for myself.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, tseng goes next door to loser land and knocks on the door. and knocks. and knocks)

Hojo’s voice: “The door is open!”

(tseng walks inside and shuts the door behind him. hojo is over at the computer and he’s the only one in the room. he looks at tseng in confusion)

Hojo: “You? What are you doing here? I thought you were the others. They went to the grocery store. But then again that always takes at least three hours…”

Tseng: “You should know why I’m here, Hojo.”

Hojo: “I never had sex on any of my own tapes! I knew where all the blind spots were!”

Tseng: “I’m not here for Rufus.” *walks forward*

Hojo: “If you aren’t here on orders, then why are you here?”

(tseng strides right up to hojo, grabs him by his lab coat and shoves him up against the wall)

Tseng: “This is the only time I’m gonna say this. You try anything like this again, it won’t end nicely for you.”

Hojo: “It will if you put your hands on me.”

(tseng looks pissed and he slams hojo against the wall again)

Tseng: “Do *not* talk to me that way! I could kill you right now if I wanted to!”

Hojo: “You could. But you won’t.”

Tseng: “You deserve it.” *drops him and backs off* “Stop f**king with other people, Hojo. I would have thought you’d gotten your fill of that by now.”

Hojo: “I’ve done so many things to you in the past. And now you come to me like this?”

Tseng: “Screwing around with people’s relationships like that is not a game! I’m not f**king around! You try anything like that again and next time I won’t ask!” *turns to leave*

Hojo: “You never have to ask.”

(tseng looks totally pissed. he whirls around and just punches hojo in the face. he hits him so hard he just slumps down, totally knocked out. tseng flexes his fingers and heads for the door.)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(the next day over at dante’s, twilight is sitting there with sephiroth. they’re playing checkers. twilight looks way more into the game than sephiroth)

Twilight: “King me!”

Sephiroth: “Here.” *glumly hands over his checker*

Twilight: “You know, you should be a little more excited to be hanging out with me!”

Sephiroth: “…Sorry.”

Twilight: “So you got kicked out of the ramble room! So what? Most of the people in there are total losers anyway! Now you don’t have to be bothered kicking them out of your way anymore!”

Sephiroth: “I never kicked anyone out of my way.”

Twilight: “I used to, but Opal made me stop.” *moves piece* “King me! I am awesome at this game!”

Sephiroth: *hands over checker* “Yeah.”

Twilight: “Besides, I’ll still come over and visit you! So you should consider yourself lucky! I’ll come over even though you’re living with that weirdo who pulled out a chunk of his own hair right in front of us.”

Lloyd’s voice: “It was in my face! And now it really hurts!”

Sephiroth: “I know. And I appreciate that. But I don’t want to be staying here. And I really don’t want Lark mad at me.”

Twilight: “It’s Lark! She’ll get over it! She won’t take a grudge to the grave like I do! Once this guy stepped on my foot – he’ll never step on another foot again.”

Sephiroth: “I don’t know… She’s been mad at me plenty of times before, but this time was different… This time…it really looked like she hated me. And I can’t even blame her for it.”

Twilight: “How could anyone hate you? You’re almost as cool as me!”

Sephiroth: “……………”

Twilight: “Come on now! I didn’t come over here to watch you mope!”

Sephiroth: *standing* “Then you better leave.”

(he walks away. twilight sits there looking a bit angry)

Twilight: “Hey! Nobody walks away from Twilight! I was about to win a checkers game here!”

(lloyd comes running over and sits in sephiroth’s place)

Lloyd: “I’ll play! We can start a new game! Maybe we can be friends! I’m Vergil, what’s your name?”

Twilight: “…I don’t think so, buddy.” *stands up* “Just looking at you makes me feel like I already won!” *leaves*

Lloyd: *frowns* “…I wish I could say that was the first time I heard that.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, back at the gas station, nightmare and nemesis are standing in the store part talking. bryatt is watching them with a slightly scared expression.)

Nightmare: “Nightmare was fixing a car this morning when Siegfried burst in to fight Nightmare! Broke three windows of the car! Boss said that’s coming out of Nightmare’s paycheck!”

Nemesis: *shakes head sadly* “STARS…”

(zidane enters)

Zidane: “Hey, Bryatt.”

Bryatt: “Hey, Zidane. Thank god you’re here. Where’s Rufus? He said he wanted to count the money.”

Zidane: “He’s outside. He said he already counted it.”

Bryatt: “Uh…okay…I don’t see how that’s possible…”

Zidane: *loudly whispers* “He’s probably somehow watching you right now.”

Bryatt: “Wow…okay…that’s…scary.”

Nemesis: “STARS!”

Bryatt: “…So is that.”

Zidane: “Rufus said both of you better get back to work and to stop hanging out in here.”

Nightmare: “He works Nightmare too hard!”

Nemesis: “STARS!”

(they leave.)

Zidane: “So what’s that straw guy like?”

Bryatt: “Weird. He told me I was lucky. Then he scared some crows away. I felt like we were about to be joined by a lion and a tin man and go skipping down the road to find the Emerald City.”

(rufus and algus enter)

Rufus: “And how’s everything in here?”

Bryatt: “I heard you already counted the money.”

Rufus: “You’d be surprised what you can do with cameras nowadays.”

(then mojo enters)

Mojo: “Boogum! Yoou-om wanna cooin-om?”

Rufus: *blink blink* “What?”

Mojo: *holds out quarter* “I found-om it outside-om!”

Rufus: *takes it* “Oh. Thanks.”

Mojo: “Yoou’re welcome-om!” *leaves*

Rufus: “I don’t know what he’s saying half the time, but he hands me money he found on the ground. I like it!”

Algus: “Why can’t you be more like that straw abomination, Zidane?”

Zidane: “Because I’m not made of straw.”

Rufus: “Anyway, we’re doing great business! I hope my gas station will be here for many, many years to come!”

Everyone: *watches mojo dance around outside with the candles on his head*

Rufus: “Yes, many, many years to come.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, at the ramble room, tseng is talking to reeve)

Reeve: “So Brady still won’t talk to her?”

Tseng: “No. And she’s been in her room all day. She barely talks to me.”

Reeve: “You know…Hojo could never be punished enough for all the pain he’s brought to other people.”

Tseng: “Oh, trust me. I know.”

Reeve: “Poor Lark. I can only imagine how she must be feeling right now.”

Tseng: “Especially since the other girls were easily forgiven.”

Reeve: “Well, their boyfriends are more used to Hojo and his twisted plans.”

Tseng: “I don’t even think most people even know Sephiroth is gone.”

Reeve: “Has anyone tried to talk to him?”

Tseng: “Not that I know of.”

Reeve: “I thought if anyone…”

Tseng: “Me?”

Reeve: “You’re friends.”

Tseng: “So? Lark’s also my friend.”

Reeve: “I can’t imagine he’s feeling good about what happened.”

Tseng: “………I know.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(later that night, sephiroth is lying in bed in what was formerly lloyd’s room, very unhappily listening to dante and alucard having sex. it goes on for several more minutes before the noises stop.)

Sephiroth: *mutters* “Finally.” *closes eyes and prepares to go to sleep* “……………” *opens his eyes again* “Great. Now I have to go to the bathroom.”

(so he gets up and goes to the bathroom and does his thing. he then comes back into the hallway, which is totally black, except for a little square from down the hall that flashes ‘sex god’. sephiroth squints to try and tell what the heck it is.)

Sephiroth: “What the hell…?”

?????: “You don’t have to strain. I’ve got nothing to hide!”

(then the hallway light is turned on. and there stands dante, who is totally naked except for a belt he’s wearing that has one of those programmable belt buckles that says sex god on it.)

Sephiroth: *adverting his eyes* “Oh, god!”

Dante: *grins* “That’s right.”

Sephiroth: “That is false advertising.”

Dante: “You wouldn’t know that unless you tried for yourself.”

Sephiroth: “I would never give you the pleasure.”

Dante: “Right, because I’m the one who usually does that.” *grin* “Good night!” *shuts the light*

Sephiroth: “…Put on some damn pants!”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(the next day. shell, Ashley and tseng are in the ramble room and have set up the table with some breakfast. they’re standing around talking.)

Ashley: “I feel so bad for her. I mean, once we had the proof the others forgave us in ten seconds!”

Shell: “Rude even bought me a gift. Well, I told him to. But he still did it.”

Ashley: “She’s just been sitting around in her room?”

Tseng: *nods* “I called her and told her to meet us here this morning and she said she’d come. But she sounded really depressed.”

Shell: “I’m sure breakfast will help. Who doesn’t like breakfast?”

(just then lark enters. and she doesn’t look like her usual self at all. she looks very tired and sad.)

Lark: “Hey.”

Shell: “Hi, sis!”

Tseng: “Good morning, Lark.”

Ashley: “We made some breakfast for you!”

Shell: “We didn’t really make it, but we heated it up. And that took effort!”

Lark: “Thanks, but I’m not really hungry.”

Tseng: “You should really try to eat.”

(lark sits down but she just sits there still looking depressed. everyone sits down around her)

Shell: “He’ll forgive you.”

Lark: “Easy for you to say.”

Shell: “He won’t forgive Sephiroth, but he’ll forgive you.”

Lark: “I don’t know if I can forgive Sephiroth.”

Ashley: “Do you even know where he went?”

Lark: “No…and right now I don’t really care.”

Tseng: “Has Brady tried to contact you at all?”

Lark: *shakes head no*

Ashley: “Well…we could talk to him for you!”

Shell: “Yeah! Let us handle it!”

Lark: *stands up* “Look, I know you’re trying to help, but it’s just not making me feel better. I just… I just need to be alone for awhile.”

(she leaves. the others frown)

Shell: “She didn’t even touch her breakfast.”

Ashley: “Poor Lark. There must be *something* we could do.”

Shell: “I guess I could give it to Rude.”

Tseng: “Sometimes people just need to be alone.”

Shell: “He likes free food.”

Ashley: “Shell! What are you talking about?”

Shell: “Sorry. I got distracted thinking about the food. What were you talking about?”

Ashley: *sigh* “Never mind…”

Tseng: “Well, so much for that idea. I’ll see you girls later.”

Girls: “Bye, Tseng.”

(tseng leaves and heads towards the front door, when vincent approaches him)

Vincent: “Hello, Tseng.”

Tseng: “Oh. Hey…Vincent.”

Vincent: “Have you seen my angel around lately?”

Tseng: “…Oh. You…haven’t heard, have you.”

Vincent: “Heard about what? Is something the matter?”

Tseng: “Everything’s pretty crazy right now…and I guess it’s kind of a long story…”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(some time later, vincent goes over to dante’s condo and knocks on the door. lloyd answers)

Vincent: “Hello. Is Sephiroth staying here?”

Lloyd: “Yeah. He’s moping on the couch.” *yells* “Sephiroth! You actually have a friend!”

Sephiroth’s voice: “Shut up, Lloyd!”

Lloyd: “Vergil! God! Why do I even bother?!”

(vincent comes in and lloyd slams the door behind him and goes off. vincent comes into the room where sephiroth is sitting on the couch just staring at the tv again.)

Vincent: “Hello, angel.”

Sephiroth: *surprised* “Vincent?! What the hell are you doing here?”

Vincent: “Well…Tseng told me what happened. I thought I’d pay you a visit.”

Sephiroth: *pouts*

(vincent comes over and sits next to sephiroth)

Vincent: “So how are you?”

Sephiroth: “Oh, I’m fantastically happy! I just feel like dancing around and singing about sprinkles! I’m miserable! How do you think I am?”

Vincent: “The sarcasm was unnecessary.”

Sephiroth: “So Tseng told you what happened, huh? So I guess you’re here to yell at me?”

Vincent: “I didn’t come here to yell. Why would I?”

Sephiroth: “Because I was a total idiot. I slept with Lark even though I kinda thought it was weird. I mean *normally* I would not have…”

Vincent: “What do you mean normally?”

Sephiroth: “……Nothing.”

Vincent: “You don’t have to be this way.”

Sephiroth: “Yeah I do! She kicked me out! And I don’t blame her!”

Vincent: “That’s not what I meant.”

Sephiroth: *mumbles* “I don’t even know why you came here.”

Vincent: “I came here to remind you. Not like I think you could forget.”

Sephiroth: “…………………”

Vincent: “Rufus…showed me a video recently. I don’t know if you’re already aware of this, but there are cameras all over the Shinra building. There have been for years.”

Sephiroth: “Yeah, so?”

Vincent: “So, you’d be surprised what a camera can capture when no one knows it’s around.”

Sephiroth: *cautiously* “…What are you talking about…?”

Vincent: *stands up smiling a little* “You were right. Even if I had been fired, I would never have abandoned you like that. I made a promise. And I’ll always keep it.

Sephiroth: “How—“

Vincent: “Lark is a forgiving person. I’m sure if you say what’s in your heart, she’ll forgive you. Just like you forgave me.”

Sephiroth: “Vincent—“ *stands up*

Vincent: “That’s all I came to say.”

(vincent turns and leaves. sephiroth just stands there looking stunned)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, rufus is now over at the condos, standing in front of the one belonging to the wild arms characters. he and algus are standing outside with max)

Rufus: “They haven’t paid their rent.”

Algus: “Debtors prison for them!”

Rufus: “I’ve been repeatedly trying to reach them with no luck. So now I have to take time out of *my* day to come down here.”

Max: “Daddy, can we go to the park?”

Rufus: “Right after daddy takes care of these deadbeats, son.”

(he knocks on the door. and knocks. and knocks)

Rufus: “What am I, at loser land?! Open up!” *bangs harder*

(finally the door opens and cecilia appears. she looks like crap. her hair is all a mess and she looks like she hasn’t slept in months. there is loud crying in the background.)

Cecilia: “Oh…Mr. Shinra. It’s you. I’m really sorry.”

Algus: “Princess Cecilia, I don’t understand! How can a person like you not afford their rent?”

Cecilia: “Well…maybe you better come in…”

(they do. the place is a disaster. there is blue hair all over the place. the crying is hanpan, who is standing in the middle just sobbing hysterically. he has chunks of hair missing all over his body. jack is standing there trying to comfort him)

Jack: “It’s okay. It’s okay, Hanpan. Rudy’s at therapy now. He can’t hurt you anymore.”

Hanpan: “…I’m dirty! I’m so dirty, Jack! I need to be cleansed! Cleansed of it all! Cleanse me of my sins!”

Rufus and Algus: “…………………”

Max: “…Why is that mouse crying?”

Hanpan: “Why won’t he stop touching me??” *sobs*

Jack: “Why won’t he touch me??” *sobs*

Rufus: “………………Wow.”

Cecilia: “This has been going on ever since Rudy started talking again. I’m pretty sure it was the biggest mistake we ever made.”

Jack: “You leave Rudy alone! Rudy is a saint! He just needs help!”

Hanpan: “Rudy is the devil! He takes pictures of me while I’m asleep!” *sobs*

Algus: “What is all this blue fluff lying around?”

Cecilia: “Oh, that’s Hanpan. He’s started shedding. The doctor said it’s stress.”

Hanpan: “I’m hideous! HIDEOUS!”

(rufus and algus take a step back towards the door)

Rufus: “Well, I can see you’re having some difficult times right now! So don’t worry about the rent!” *leans over and whispers to cecilia* “I’m going to evict them! I suggest you run for it!” *normally* “Take care!”

(he and algus make a bolt for the door and escape back outside.)

Algus: “Unpleasant is hardly a strong enough word for what we just experienced.”

Rufus: “Are you kidding?! Hellhole isn’t a strong enough word for what we just experienced!”

Max: “Daddy, was that mouse sick?”

Rufus: “Yeah. Yeah he was. But don’t worry about that, Max! Now we’re going to go to the park! And Uncle Algus will push you in the swing while daddy calls his lawyer!”

Max: “Hooray!”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(later that day, sephiroth is in the kitchen at dante’s condo getting a drink. dante and alucard are talking)

Alucard: “So I think I better go home for a few hours and check on dad. I don’t want to find him trapped in the refrigerator again.”

Dante: “How’d that happen again?”

Alucard: “He thought it would take him to Narnia. And that would make some kind of messed up sense if he had ever seen the movie or heard of the book. But he hasn’t.”

Dante: “Have fun. I’ll see ya later.”

(they kiss. sephiroth rolls his eyes and then alucard leaves the house.)

Dante: “So, looks like it’s you and me tonight!”

Sephiroth: “Kill me.”

(dante grabs a cup and goes to get himself a drink. sephiroth watches dante thoughtfully for a moment)

Sephiroth: “So do you love him?”

Dante: “Who, Lloyd? Eh. In a sick, sad way I guess.”

Sephiroth: “Not Lloyd. Alucard.”

Dante: “Al? Of course I do. What kind of stupid question is that?”

Sephiroth: “I just don’t see how you two can work.”

Dante: “I can tell you why you two didn’t work.”

Sephiroth: “Yeah right.”

Dante: “You’re too similar. You both freak out way too easily!”

Sephiroth: “I do not!!!” *pause* “Er…no I don’t.”

Dante: “Yeah you do, and so does Al. I don’t. So I calm him down. And he’s normally pretty serious and low key, but I like that. It balances me out a bit. That’s what relationships are all about.”

Sephiroth: “Don’t lecture me about relationships.”

Dante: “First of all, you asked. And second of all, I can do whatever the hell I want. I’m in one, and you’re not.”

(dante walks out and sephiroth glares at him)

Sephiroth: *mutters* “……I could be, if I wanted to.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, back over at the wild arms condo, cecilia comes down the stairs carrying a suitcase. downstairs, jack is struggling to keep rudy and hanpan apart. hanpan is shedding hair by the second. hanpan is holding a knife and shaking)

Hanpan: “Keep him away from me! Keep him away from me, Jack! I’ll kill him! I swear!”

Rudy: “You are *so* cute!”

Jack: “Hanpan, calm down.”

Rudy: “I just wanna cuddle with you!”

Hanpan: “I’ll cut you!”

(cecilia comes over and clears her throat loudly. they all look at her)

Cecilia: “I’m leaving.”

Jack: “You’re leaving?! What do you mean you’re leaving?!”

Cecilia: “I’m leaving. I can’t take this anymore. I’m moving in with the Quarter Knights.”

Jack: “The Quarter Knights?! Are you crazy!?”

Cecilia: “No. This is crazy. And you’re getting evicted. So you might want to find a new place that accepts shedding wind mice.” *walks away*

Hanpan: *sobs* “Who will love me now?!”

Rudy: “I will.”

Hanpan: *cries harder*

Jack: “Cecilia, no! You can’t leave me like this! Cecilia!”

(but cecilia leaves. jack looks totally scared)

Jack: *yells* “Cecilia?!”

Rudy: “Just let me pet you!”

Hanpan: *swinging knife* “Die!!”

Jack: *yells* “CECILIA!!!”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(the next day. tseng is sitting at the table in his and reeve’s room with lily on his lap. he’s just finishing up reading her a story. it’s pat the bunny. he puts it down on the table)

Tseng: “What was your favorite part? You like to pat the soft bunny?”

Lily: *bounces* “Bun! Bun!”

Tseng: *chuckles* “Yup. Bun bun.”

(reeve comes in)

Reeve: “Hey, hon.”

Tseng: “Hey. Any luck talking to Lark?”

Reeve: “Nope. She said she didn’t feel like talking, but thanked me for coming by.” *sigh* “She really looks bad.”

Tseng: “I’ve never seen her like this. I’ve gotta do something.”

Reeve: “I don’t know what else you can do. You can’t force her to talk to you.”

Tseng: “No…but I can talk to the one person she *does* want to talk to.”

Reeve: “Brady? You think he’ll listen to you?”

Tseng: “I don’t know. But I know I have to try. Do you mind watching Lily for a bit?”

Reeve: “Of course not.”

(tseng hands lily off to reeve and reeve gives him a kiss)

Reeve: “Good luck.”

Tseng: “I might need it.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(and so tseng goes and finds Brady, who is in the tv room again, just watching tv)

Tseng: “Hey, Brady.”

Brady: *ignores him*

Tseng: *sits on the couch* “I know you probably don’t feel like talking right now, especially about this…but…I really think it might help.”

Brady: “……………How is talking to you going to dissuade me from the feeling that while my fiancée was getting screwed physically I was getting screwed mentally?”

Tseng: “I know you’re upset about it. And I don’t blame you. But Lark’s really shut down. She’s locked up in her room and she won’t talk to anyone.”

Brady: “Not my problem anymore.”

Tseng: “Pretty harsh words. It’s not like she did it on purpose.”

Brady: “Yeah, yeah. I know the story. Hojo’s magical potion did it.”

Tseng: “Yeah, it did. Unfortunately Hojo does a lot of f**ked up stuff like that. I mean he cloned you three times over. He also put his mind in your body and had you make out with other men. I don’t think that’s something that’s too easy to forget.”

Brady: “No I didn’t forget. But this is different.”

Tseng: “Different? How is it different?”

Brady: “Because this time it didn’t take over one of our minds and it was him doing the work. It didn’t split anyone’s personality. All it did this time was reignite old flames of passion. Don’t you think something had to still be there for that to still work?”

Tseng: “No. Lark has no feelings for Sephiroth anymore. Trust me. These last few weeks she’s constantly been telling him to back off. And he doesn’t love her either. He’s just a phony.”

Brady: “Why couldn’t be a little more of a phony the other night?”

Tseng: “Because he’s an idiot. And you probably won’t even believe me or care, but I bet he does feel bad about it. But I didn’t come here to try and talk you into forgiving Sephiroth. I just really think you should talk to Lark.” *gets up and starts to walk away*

Brady: “………It only hurts this bad because I love her.”

Tseng: *stops* “I know that. And that’s why you have to go talk to her.”

(he leaves. Brady sits there alone for a moment. Then he gets up with a sigh and leaves the room.)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, back at the gas station, algus and rufus are standing across the street looking at it. max stands there with them, eating an ice cream)

Max: “Thank you for the ice cream, daddy!”

Rufus: “You’re welcome!”

Algus: “He’s such a polite little boy. I’m sure he will grow up to be a fine young man!”

Rufus: “You bet he will! And he can be whatever he wants when he grows up! And if he wants to be a businessman like me, that’s fine! But I’m not going to force him!”

Algus: “Why are we standing across the street gazing at your gas station?”

Rufus: “I’m trying to figure out if there would be room to expand. Business is booming! And bigger businesses make more money!”

Algus: “That they do!”

(then zidane and bryatt come over)

Rufus: “What are you two doing?! Is something on fire? Because you should only be over here if something’s on fire!”

Bryatt: “I need to get into the safe.”

Rufus: “Why? So you can buy candy for Zidane?”

Bryatt: “No. Because I thought we were supposed to have only twenty dollars in change in the register. In case we get robbed.”

Rufus: “You can’t get robbed! I have two scary monsters working in the garage! And it’s not really for their mechanic skills!”

(then nightmare and nemesis come running over frantically)

Nemesis: “STARS!”

Rufus: “What is this?! Something better be on fire!”

(suddenly with one big whoosh the whole gas station just turns into a big fireball. everyone just stares at it in shock)

Everyone: “………………………”

Zidane: “…Something is now.”

Rufus: “What the hell!? How could this happen!?! My gas station! It barely had the chance to live!”

Nightmare: “Another job of Nightmare’s that gets burned to the ground!” *hangs head* “Nightmare is cursed for using that cursed sword!”

Nemesis: “STARS!”

Rufus: *sigh* “Well, I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again a million times. Thank god for insurance. And at least no one was inside.”

????: “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

(suddenly mojo runs out, totally on fire. everyone’s eyes widen in shock. he runs around in circles just screaming his head off)

Mojo: “Boooooooooooogum!!!! It burns-om!!! Help me-om!!!!!!!!”

Everyone: *stares in shock*

Bryatt: “……I’m not usually at a loss for words…but this pretty much does the trick.”

Mojo: “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!” *stops suddenly and just falls on his face*

Everyone: “…………………………”

Rufus: “…Call my lawyer.”

Zidane: “You mean your sister?”

Rufus: “Yes. Call her right now.” *turns to algus* “He was made of straw anyway. How much could he possibly be worth? Ten cents?”

Algus: “At most!”

Zidane: “I told you having the walking fire hazard working at your flammable gas station wasn’t the best idea.”

Bryatt: “Oh, what a world, what a world.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, in loser land, kuja is sitting on the couch having his toenails painted by seymour. heidegger is practically inhaling a bag of chips while stinky watches tv, and scarlet and nida are talking. hojo is plodding around by his computer wearing a neck brace)

Nida: “What’s wrong with creepo over there? We come home to find him passed out, then he hides in his lab for a few days, and now he comes out wearing a neck brace!”

Scarlet: “Probably someone from the ramble room came to beat him up.”

Nida: “Why? ‘Cause of that new plan we tried to take over the ramble room?”

Scarlet: “Obviously.”

Heidegger: “Gya haa haa! We’ve been failing for years!”

Kuja: “Seriously. You should just give it up already.”

Seymour: “How are your feet so smooth?”

Kuja: “Moisturizer. If you used it your skin probably wouldn’t feel like sandpaper anymore.”

Nida: “Hey, Hojo! Are we gonna try anymore plans to take over the ramble room?”

Hojo: “…No.”

Nida: “No?! But why not?! We’ve gotta succeed one of these days! Right?” *pause* “Right?”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, Brady goes to lark’s room and knocks on her door. She answers it and she looks surprised to see him)

Lark: “Oh. Brady!”

Brady: “Can I come in?”

Lark: “Yeah, sure!”

(she lets him in and closes the door behind him)

Brady: “I just want to talk to you about how I feel.”

Lark: “Okay.”

Brady: “I understand that Hojo essentially drugged you. But, it doesn’t change the fact that it hurt me.”

Lark: “I know. …I’m sure it didn’t help that it was Sephiroth.”

Brady: “No. No it didn’t. It also makes it even worse because he did it under his own free will.”

Lark: “……I know. Trust me, I wasn’t too happy about that either.”

Brady: “I need you to understand the fact that the reason why it hurts is because I love you and the thought of somebody interfering with the love that we have bothers me.”

Lark: “It bothers me too. I feel like I was taken advantage of. And not even by Sephiroth. But by Hojo and his stupid potion. And when you got mad at me…I don’t know. I guess I just didn’t understand why you got mad at me while the other girls got forgiveness.”

Brady: “Yeah, but their relationships are totally different from ours. Rude and Shell are based on money, and Ashley and Seifer…well…I don’t even know why they’re still together.”

Lark: *chuckles* “That’s true.”

Brady: “I think one of the reasons why I got really upset was the possibility that you still had feelings for the one winged asshole.”

Lark: “Really? Brady, I have no feelings for Sephiroth anymore. Trust me. Those died a long time ago. If I didn’t truly love you, would I have agreed to marry you?”

Brady: *shrugs* “I don’t know. It could have been a bunch of reasons.”

Lark: “Well that was the only reason.”

Brady: “And from what I’ve heard you jumped him. Why the hell don’t you ever jump me?” *laughs*

Lark: *smiles* “Now I will!”

(and then she does just that.)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(a short time later, tseng goes outside and spots vincent on the porch swing)

Tseng: “Hey.”

Vincent: “Hello. I’m glad to see you actually.”

Tseng: “Oh?”

Vincent: “I think you should go over and speak to Sephiroth.”

Tseng: “Over where?”

Vincent: “At Dante’s. That’s where he’s staying.”

Tseng: “How do you know that?”

Vincent: “I visited with him yesterday.”

Tseng: “You did? But…how did you know he was there?”

Vincent: “Simple…he had nowhere else to go.”

Tseng: “……”

Vincent: “You should speak with him. He won’t listen to me right now. I know that if you talk to him, he’ll be able to come back here and face Lark again. He has a lot on his mind right now and really feels horrible about what happened.”

Tseng: “I’m sure he does. But I don’t really know what to say to him.”

Vincent: “I’m sure you’ll think of something. We can’t have our family broken up over something that Hojo did.”

Tseng: “Well…now that I know Brady and Lark are going to patch things up, I guess she might be ready to hear him out. I guess it’s worth a try.”

Vincent: “All you can do is try. The rest is up to them.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(so tseng goes over to dante’s and rings the bell. he stares curiously over at the condo on the end where rufus is forcing hanpan out the door)

Hanpan: “No! The sunlight! People will see my shame!”

Rufus: “Then you should have paid your rent!”

(the door opens and dante’s standing there)

Dante: “Hey! Tseng! Long time no see! What brings you over here?”

Tseng: “Sephiroth I’m afraid.”

Dante: “Ah, I get it. Come on in. He’s hogging the couch.”

Tseng: “That sounds like him.”

(he walks inside to see sephiroth sitting on the couch just staring at the tv again. tseng goes over)

Tseng: “Hey.”

Sephiroth: “Now *you’re* coming over here? Who’s next? The ghost of idiot decisions yet to come?”

Tseng: “Vincent said I should come talk to you.”

Sephiroth: “Vincent says a lot of stupid things.”

Tseng: “I think Lark might be able to talk to you now.”

Sephiroth: “Yeah. Right. She said she never wanted to see me again.”

Tseng: “I know. But I’m pretty sure she and Brady patched things up. So she might be willing to hear you out.” *sits next to him* “Vincent said you have a lot on your mind.”

Sephiroth: “Vincent doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about.”

Tseng: “We both know that’s not true.”

Sephiroth: “……………”

Tseng: “Why’d you do it anyway, Sephiroth? Are you that lonely?”

Sephiroth: “…………………”

Tseng: “I’ll take that as a yes.”

Sephiroth: *mutters* “…I couldn’t resist feeling wanted.”

Tseng: “You are wanted by someone. And you know that.”

Sephiroth: “……………………”

Tseng: “Look, I’ll go over and talk to Lark. If she agrees to talk to you, I’ll have her wait on the porch. If you want to come over, that’s your decision.”

Sephiroth: “…………”

Tseng: *stands* “Vincent knows you better than anyone, Sephiroth. Don’t pretend he doesn’t.”

(and with that tseng leaves. dante comes in)

Dante: “You gonna make up with your friends or what?”

Lloyd: *runs in* “He better! I want my #$@%#$% room back!”

Dante: “Just because he moves out doesn’t mean you’re getting it back.”

Lloyd: “What?! What the #$@% Dante?! You’re a liar! You said I could have it back!”

Dante: “Start paying the rent, Lloyd. Or you’ll end up like that mouse Rufus is pushing down the street.”

Lloyd: “#$%@ you, Dante! You’re an evicted mouse! And call me Vergil! I’m sick of correcting you!”

Dante: “And I’m sick of your face, but you don’t hear me complaining about it.”

Lloyd: “Argh!!!” *stomps up the stairs*

Dante: *chuckles* “Awesome.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, back across the street, tseng knocks on lark’s door. she answers and is looking much happier)

Lark: “Hey, Tseng!” *hugs him* “Thank you so much! You have no idea. Brady told me you came to talk to him.”

Tseng: “It was the least I could do. Nobody liked seeing you so upset.”

Lark: “Aw…everybody’s so sweet.”

Tseng: “Everybody…including Sephiroth.”

Lark: *eyes widen* “You’ve talked to him?”

Tseng: “Yeah.”

Lark: “Where is he?”

Tseng: “At Dante’s.”

Lark: “Dante’s?”

Tseng: “Yeah. I guess he felt like he had nowhere else to go.”

Lark: “…Oh. Well…how is he?”

Tseng: “He looks miserable. He would barely say anything to me. But it’s pretty obvious that he’s sorry.”

Lark: “Well what did he say?”

Tseng: “That he pretty much did it because he’s so lonely he couldn’t resist feeling wanted.”

Lark: “Are you serious? Sephiroth said that?”

Tseng: *nods*

Lark: “………You know, I believe that. That’s so sad, but I believe that.”

Tseng: “I know he wants to talk to you. I wasn’t sure if you’d want to or not, but I told him you’d go out to the porch swing if you wanted to.”

Lark: “…Oh, okay. Thanks, Tseng. I’ll…think about it.”

Tseng: “No problem. I’m glad to you see you happy again. I’ll see you later, Lark.”

(he leaves. lark leans against the doorframe with a sigh)

Lark: “…I really can’t let it end this way.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(later…lark is standing on the porch. she watches as sephiroth crosses the street and walks over. he comes up to the steps but no further. they both just look at each other for a moment)

Sephiroth: “………I’m sorry.”

Lark: “Are you?”

Sephiroth: “You have no idea.”

Lark: “Then keep talking.”

Sephiroth: “It was a stupid, stupid thing to do. As soon as I opened the door you jumped me. And I tried to push you away. I really did. Because…”

Lark: “Because why.”

Sephiroth: *sighs and mutters* “Because I never really wanted you back.”

Lark: “Then why did you keep hitting on me like that all the time?”

Sephiroth: “…Because I was jealous. And lonely.”

Lark: “That’s stupid.”

Sephiroth: “………………Trust me. I know. After awhile…I just couldn’t help it. And when you were coming onto me like that…it felt good just being wanted again. And I just lost it. And afterwards…I felt so horrible. I knew I had made a mistake.”

Lark: “You caused me a lot of grief, you know that?”

Sephiroth: “I know. I’m really sorry. I never wanted… I never want anything but happiness for you, Lark. Really. And if you’re happy with Brady…then, I’m happy too.”

Lark: “You really do mean that, don’t you?”

Sephiroth: “I wouldn’t say all this stuff otherwise. Your friendship…is really important to me. And that’s not something I want to lose.”

Lark: “…It’s not something I want to lose either. And I can see you’re really sorry. And besides, I know a couple of other idiots in the ramble room who would have done the exact same thing you did. So I forgive you. But there are two things before you move back in.”

Sephiroth: “What’s that?”

Lark: “First, you have to apologize to Brady. He’s not going to accept your apology, and the sun will probably burn out before he ever does, but I still want you to do it.”

Sephiroth: “Fine. What else?”

Lark: “I don’t wanna hear anymore about you being lonely. You are loved, Sephiroth. You’ve had someone who has loved you all along. So you have no excuse.”

Sephiroth: “………Fine.”

Lark: “All right, enough of this. Let’s go inside.”

(he comes up the steps and they start to go inside together)

Lark: “So how was it living at Dante’s?”

Sephiroth: “Utterly disturbing in so many ways…”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(later, sephiroth goes up to Brady in the tv room. Brady is playing a video game.)

Sephiroth: “Hey. I’m sorry.”

Brady: “……I think I hear the sound of four horses coming down the street.”

Sephiroth: “What?”

Brady: “It’s a joke. About the end of the world. The four horsemen of the apocalypse.”

Sephiroth: “Yeah. I get it. So you accept my apology? Great. Bye.” *goes to leave*

Brady: “No. I don’t accept it. And I have something I wanna say to you.”

Sephiroth: *pauses*

Brady: “When everything happened I was pissed. But after I thought about it, I realized that this wasn’t Lark’s fault. It was yours. You claim you’re so lonely, and I believe it. I believe it because of the way you’ve always treated people. People may love you now, Sephiroth, but with the way you act that won’t last forever. In the end, you’ll be left all alone. And then you’ll really know the feeling of being lonely.”

Sephiroth: “………Whatever.”

(sephiroth just shrugs his shoulders and leaves the room. he goes out to the front porch where vincent is sitting on the swing.)

Vincent: “Angel…I see you’re back.”

Sephiroth: “Yeah…Lark forgave me.”

Vincent: “I knew she would.”

Sephiroth: “Yeah, well, I’m gonna go move back in.”

Vincent: “Do you need any help?”

Sephiroth: “No, I’ll be okay.” *mutters* “But…thanks. Thanks for everything.”

(he heads back across the street and vincent watches him go. in the background there is screaming and yelling because rufus is now trying to force jack out of the condo. sephiroth stops halfway across the street and glances back quickly before continuing on his way. vincent smiles a little)

Vincent: “Sephiroth… You never have to thank me.”

 

THE END

 

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