Rose of Mideel Chapter 12
By Chocobo Goddess
"She wont eat. She wont sleep. She just sits and looks out the window, or paces around her room. I dont know what to do anymore." Tifa fell into a chair, sprawling her arms and legs. They were in his office at their home in Kalm. The dark-paneled walls were lined with books from the previous owner, as well as souvenirs from their travels. One of the two tall windows sat directly behind the desk chair, letting in the pink evening light. The room was furnished with heavy wood and leather furniture, most of it old but in decent condition. A dark fireplace along the far wall waited patiently for the cold season.
Cloud rested his face in his hands. "I dont know either, Teef. Its beenwhat, a month?and shes still like this. I wish I knew what spell he put her under. Hey, maybe if we try a dispel tonic " He looked at Tifa, who had made a disgusted sound and jumped up. "What?"
"Didnt it ever occur to you that there was no spell? That there was no manipulation? Cloud, honey, I know you wanted to help Aerith, and all you ever wanted was to keep her safe. But this this sadness, this depression shes in Gods, Cloud, were talking about Aerith! Even when she knew she was going to die, she never acted like this."
He stood angrily. "And what is that supposed to mean?"
"It means that I think she really was in lo,"
"DONT SAY THAT!" He yelled, turning away and clenching his fists. "Dont even think that. Its not possible."
Tifa glared at him. "It is possible, and I believe it now. I didnt want to, I still dont want to, but Aerith is suffering from a broken heart. I was a bartender, remember? Ive seen it often enough. And theres more."
"More?" He looked back at her, worried. "What else?"
She shook her head. "Im not sure. Aerith wont talk to me about it, but she lost more than we know. I only wish I could pin it down to something specific. But she seems more alone, I suppose."
He sat back down wearily, all anger gone again. "Maybe thats just the depression."
"Either way, something has to be done. I almost wish you hadnt killed him." She studied her hands, clasped in her lap, so she wouldnt have to see his expression at her words.
"Dammit, I had to! Why am I the bad guy here? I did it to save her and all of us from going through what we did last time! It was only last year, Tifa. Dont you remember what it was like? How we had to fight thatthat monster? And the things he did to us? And our families? He DESERVED TO DIE!"
Aerith couldnt quite make out Tifas response, but the tone was low and angry. She decided shed heard enough, and carefully moved away from the wall and back to her room.
I remember when we were all together, she thought, but it was different then. He was different. Sephiroth She lay on the bed in her cozy little room and stared up at the ceiling. If I stay here, nothing will change. Cloud and Tifa will still fight, and I will never feel whole again. I need to leave. I have some gil, and my pack
The office door opened. She heard Clouds heavy footsteps pause outside her room, then stomp down the stairs. He slammed the front door on his way out. The sound of Tifas lighter tread went toward their bedroom. Aerith waited for a moment, then got out of bed. Loading up her leather pack, she picked up the staff Cloud had bought for her.
The smooth, lightweight metal felt like satin. Im ready. She took a deep breath and went out into the hall.
The light seemed too bright, and yellow, after the dimness of her room. She tiptoed past Tifas door, through which the sound of crying could be heard. Im sorry, Tifa, but I have to go. I wish it could be like it was but too much has changed. Goodbye, my friend.
One of the stairs creaked slightly, and she froze, hoping Tifa wouldnt hear her. When the pitiful sobs in the other room continued unabated, she took the rest as quickly as possible. The front door was only a few feet away
The PHS rang. It lay on the downstairs table where Cloud usually threw his keys. Oh, no, Tifas going to answer it! What do I do? She heard floorboards move above, then a door opened. At the last second, Aerith crossed to the door and whisked herself outside, slowly turning the knob to catch the latch just so Through the small window, she could just make out Tifa reaching the bottom of the stairs and answering the PHS. Forgetting herself, she stumbled against the mailbox on the porch. Terrified of discovery, Aerith fled down the remaining steps and out into the night.
Cloud must have only gone out to the porch, Tifa thought as she picked up the ringing instrument. Hoping her voice wouldnt give away her tears, she said brightly, "Strife and Lockheart, how may I help you?"
"Vincent! How are you?"
"Are you all right?" He immediately sounded concerned. "You sound like youve been crying."
"Oh, no, no, its nothing. Im fine." Damn him for being perceptive. Injecting a false note of cheerfulness into her voice, she asked, "What can I do for you? I thought you hated the PHS."
He seemed not to believe her, but he went on anyway. "Ive been looking for Aerith. Sephiroth believes shes with you and Cloud. You have no idea what it took to find this number."
She felt her face turn white. "S-Sephiroth? Butisnt he?"
"Hes alive, Tifa, very much so. Though it looked like he might not make it for a while. I found him in the woods nearby almost a month ago. He was unconscious for about a fortnight, and Ive been taking care of him this whole time." Tifa could almost make out Sephiroths baritone asking a question in the background. Vincent replied, then spoke back into the PHS. "He wants to know if shes all right. Hes been worried about her."
"Hold on, Vin, Ill get her. Shes been really upset since we left Nibelheim. Cloud thought he killed Sephiroth."
"He was nearly right." Sephiroth said, taking over. Even through the phone, his voice could send shivers up her spine. Tifa knocked on Aeriths door.
"Aerith, honey, are you awake?" She went in, expecting to see her friend in bed or by the window. Instead, she was greeted by an empty room. Panic surged through her when she noticed the neatly-made bed, the empty closet standing open, and the missing travel pack. "Oh, gods, no."
"What is it? Whats wrong?" Sephiroth demanded. "What happened to her?"
"Shes gone " Tifa spoke mostly to herself, sinking to her knees in the doorway. "She left. She ran away." The voices coming from the fallen PHS sounded tinny, angry, but she didnt notice them.
When Cloud returned, hours later, he found her sitting on the bed, crying. He ran over and knelt before her, taking her hands. "Teef, hon, whats wrong? Wheres Aerith?"
"She left, Cloud. She left! I dont know when. It could have been anytime."
He gathered her up into his arms. "Its okay. Well find her. She cant have gone far."
She struggled. "No, you dont understand! Thats not all. Vincent called "
Glancing at the broken PHS, pieces scattered where it had hit the wall, he said, "What about?"
"Cloud, you didnt kill him. You didnt kill Sephiroth."
"Sephiroth is alive. And he wants to find Aerith."
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic