The return trip to Midgar is looking to be a lot less enjoyable than the trip out to Nibelheim was. The truck, while it was roomy enough for just Cloud, User, and Zax, is rather more fully occupied this time.
Tea with the Strifes had been a somewhat bizarre affair, including, as it had, Vincent Valentine. Still, it had gone off as pleasantly as could be expected under the circumstances, with Mrs. Strife taking the ragged ex-Turk's presence in stride and doing her mother's best to embarrass Cloud as much as possible, and Zax wholeheartedly assisting her.
What came after the tea could be defined as mild karmic retribution against Zax on Cloud's behalf. Vincent, having no intention of going back to sleep, had quietly but very thoroughly interrogated Zax about Shin-Ra, Hojo, Sephiroth, Jenova, and all things related. Zax, resigned to the consequences of waking the ex-Turk up, provided the best answers he could. By the end of the night, there was no question about it. Vincent was coming back with them to Midgar for the upcoming battle.
Zax dares to hope this might offset some of Sephiroth's irritation with him.
The next morning, however, brought more personal worries than irate Generals, as Vash had arrived in Nibelheim with Merodi in tow. The girl was in a severe state of mental deterioration, barely able to remember anything, only barely holding on to her sense of self. Once surrounded by friends, she had seemed to stabilize, but remained in a pretty sorry state.
And, as ill luck would have it, the day after was when they were due to return. There had been no choice but to pile everybody that could fit into the truck. Even with one person riding Merodi's rental chocobo alongside the vehicle, that still leaves five people, a Malboro, and a Tonberry packed inside. The presence of the Tonberry puts nobody at ease, even as it seems perfectly content to sit near Merodi and eat mushrooms for the whole trip.
It's looking to be a long, trying ride back to Midgar.
((Permission was obtained in advance from involved muns to describe their pups' actions in this way. Just for the record. ♥))