Rose of Mideel Chapter 12

Leaving Kalm

By Chocobo Goddess

"She won’t eat. She won’t sleep. She just sits and looks out the window, or paces around her room. I don’t 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 don’t know either, Teef. It’s been—what, a month?—and she’s 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?"

"Didn’t 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 she’s in…Gods, Cloud, we’re 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—,"

"DON’T SAY THAT!" He yelled, turning away and clenching his fists. "Don’t even think that. It’s not possible."

Tifa glared at him. "It is possible, and I believe it now. I didn’t want to, I still don’t want to, but Aerith is suffering from a broken heart. I was a bartender, remember? I’ve seen it often enough. And there’s more."

"More?" He looked back at her, worried. "What else?"

She shook her head. "I’m not sure. Aerith won’t 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 that’s just the depression."

"Either way, something has to be done. I almost wish you hadn’t killed him." She studied her hands, clasped in her lap, so she wouldn’t 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. Don’t you remember what it was like? How we had to fight that—that monster? And the things he did to us? And our families? He DESERVED TO DIE!"

Aerith couldn’t quite make out Tifa’s response, but the tone was low and angry. She decided she’d 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 Cloud’s heavy footsteps pause outside her room, then stomp down the stairs. He slammed the front door on his way out. The sound of Tifa’s 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. I’m 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 Tifa’s door, through which the sound of crying could be heard. I’m 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 wouldn’t 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, Tifa’s 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 wouldn’t 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 you’ve been crying."

"Oh, no, no, it’s nothing. I’m 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. "I’ve been looking for Aerith. Sephiroth believes she’s with you and Cloud. You have no idea what it took to find this number."

She felt her face turn white. "S-Sephiroth? But—isn’t he—?"

"He’s 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 I’ve been taking care of him this whole time." Tifa could almost make out Sephiroth’s baritone asking a question in the background. Vincent replied, then spoke back into the PHS. "He wants to know if she’s all right. He’s been worried about her."

"Hold on, Vin, I’ll get her. She’s 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 Aerith’s 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? What’s wrong?" Sephiroth demanded. "What happened to her?"

"She’s 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 didn’t 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, what’s wrong? Where’s Aerith?"

"She left, Cloud. She left! I don’t know when. It could have been anytime."

He gathered her up into his arms. "It’s okay. We’ll find her. She can’t have gone far."

She struggled. "No, you don’t understand! That’s not all. Vincent called…"

Glancing at the broken PHS, pieces scattered where it had hit the wall, he said, "What about?"

"Cloud, you didn’t kill him. You didn’t kill Sephiroth."


"Sephiroth is alive. And he wants to find Aerith."

Chapter 13

Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic