Rose of Mideel Chapter 4

The Highwind

By Chocobo Goddess

Sephiroth’s head swam as he sat up. His body felt too hot; why was he covered in blankets? Kicking them off, he stood shakily. It took a moment for his mind to register that he was no longer in the Ancient City. The floor beneath his feet was metal. He felt the sensation of movement, as though he was on a train, or…an airship.

That’s right, he thought groggily, AVALANCHE stole the Highwind from ShinRa. They must still use it. He groped his way to the door of the room, finding it surprisingly unlocked. They must not have believed I’d wake up. Otherwise, I’m sure there would have been someone with a weapon pointed at my head.

Using the wall for support, he went out into the corridor. Left or right were his choices. A wave of dizziness swept over him. Fighting it, he thought tentatively, Planet?


Is Aerith all right? Can you tell where she is?

It seemed pleased. IS ASLEEP. GO LEFT. BUT, he got the sensation that it was worried for him, HOW DO YOU FEEL? NOT READY TO FIGHT IN YOUR CONDITION.

Gods, what do you see?


Thanks for the warning. He paused at a corner. An open door poured light into the hall, and a familiar angry voice reached his ears. Inching closer, he was able to see obliquely inside.

“I don’t care what your impressions were! I want to know why the hell you didn’t leave him there!”

Vincent crossed his arms and sighed. Cloud hadn’t taken the news of both Aerith and Sephiroth’s resurrection well. It was a good thing he hadn’t brought the blond along when he, Nanaki, Yuffie, and Cid had gone to the City to find them. “Cloud, listen. We wouldn’t have known about Aerith if he hadn’t called us. He knew he was taking a risk, but he did it anyway.”

Cloud stopped pacing to glare at his friend. “I don’t want that monster anywhere near me or her. And if he so much as looks like he’s going insane again, so much as breathes wrong, I will kill him.” A shadow by the door caught his attention. “Who’s there?” he snarled.

Sephiroth sighed, fighting another wave of dizziness, and leaned against the doorframe. “I need to see Aerith.” He rubbed at his eyes, trying to make them focus. One Cloud was bad enough; seeing two just made it worse.

“Stay away from her,” Cloud said through clenched teeth.

He met the glowing blue eyes evenly. “I cannot.” His head began to pound with the effort of staying upright. “I must see her.”

Vincent caught Cloud’s shoulder as the younger man began to advance angrily. “Wait.” To Sephiroth, he said, “Why didn’t you kill her in the Ancient City? Why call us to come and get her?”

Sephiroth sent a grateful look to Vincent. “Because I don’t want to kill her.”

Cloud snorted in derision. “Why should we believe you?”

“I don’t care if you believe me or not. I need to see Aerith.”

HE DOES NOT LIKE YOU. The Planet sent swirls of pink and orange.

You don’t say, he thought wryly. Aloud, he said, “Please. I just need to know that she’s all right. Then I’ll lie back down and be quiet. Please, Vincent.” I hate begging. It’s killing me to be so weak.


I need to see her with my own eyes. What kind of bodyguard would I be if I just took everyone else’s word for it that my charge was fine?


Vincent was saying something. “Sephiroth?” He regarded the silver-haired man worriedly. “Are you all right?”

He shook his head. “Sorry. What?”

“I said that I will take you to her.” Cloud scowled at them both. Vincent ignored him. “She’s just down the hall.”

“I’m going, too.” Cloud pushed away from the wall he’d been leaning against. “I want to be sure you don’t try anything.”

If he expects me to argue with him, thought Sephiroth, He’ll be sorely disappointed. I don’t have the energy to fight right now.

The lightest touch on his mind, like a cool breeze, told him the Planet had heard him.

Thank you, he sent, and received a swirl of music in repsonse.

Vincent led the way to another room on the left. He knocked on the door.

A girl with short-cropped brown hair answered it. She smiled tiredly at Vincent and Cloud, then frowned when she saw Sephiroth. “What is he doing here?”

“He wants to see Aerith. How is she, Yuffie?”

Reluctantly, the girl opened the door wider and stepped back. “Her fever finally broke, and she’s sleeping for real now. Tifa went to get some air.” She paused. “Do you think it’s such a good idea for him to be here?”

Vincent nodded, still watching Sephiroth, who had moved to stand beside the bed.

SHE IS MUCH BETTER. The Planet sounded wistful. WISH SHE COULD HEAR ME.

I know. I’m sure she’d heal faster. Aerith looked much better with the dangerous flush gone from her cheeks. He began to reach a hand out to brush her hair back. The sound of three people holding their breaths annoyed him, though, and he stopped, looking over his shoulder at them.

Even Vincent was poised for…what? A fight? He grimaced in pain. The throbbing ache in his head would not let him ignore it any longer. He sank to his knees, gripping the edge of the bed with a strangled cry. Vincent was by his side in an instant, but he pushed the other man away.

“Don’t argue with me. You’re not well, Sephiroth.” Vincent took his shoulder firmly.

“Just…let…me stay…here,” he gasped. “W-with her.”

As if she heard him, Aerith turned in her sleep. Her hand moved and touched his, the delicate fingers curling around it as if by instinct. Cloud’s brows drew together while Yuffie’s rose.

Vincent noted it, as well, and sighed, releasing him. “Then sit.” He pulled the chair closer and helped his former enemy into it. “I will stand guard.”

“I will, too.” Cloud glowered at Sephiroth, who merely nodded wearily.

“Umm, I’m gonna go see if Tifa needs any help.” Yuffie ducked out the door, leaving it open behind her.

They made an interesting tableau: three men, one focused on the girl in the bed, the other two ranged so they could both watch the first. Cloud stood tensely, keeping his hand free to draw his sword, just in case. Vincent himself was ready for either man to make a move.

Sephiroth didn’t care.

Aerith was going to be all right.

He fell asleep in the chair, still holding her hand.


Tifa bit her nails as she paced the kitchen. She was happy to see her friend alive again, though she very much wanted to know the whole story. How had Aerith been resurrected, and why? And why was Sephiroth acting so differently? The ideas that crossed her mind were anything but pleasant. I can think of only one reason for Aerith to come back

Trouble is brewing.

Yuffie stuck her head inside the room, looking around quickly, before coming in all the way. She hoisted herself up to sit on the counter, swinging her legs.

“What’s up with you?” Tifa asked. “I thought you were going to take over for Vincent and Cloud.”

The teenaged ninja made a face. “So did I. GAWD, it’s like a big ‘I’m so tough and male’ convention in there. Sephiroth—like I can even believe I’m saying this—needs rest, but he’s totally into watching over Aerith. Then Spike is watching him like a hawk, and Vinny is hanging out in the corner. It’s nerve-wracking.” She examined the toes of her boots. “I gave up. No one wants to move. So I came to see if you were doing any better.”

Tifa put some water on to boil. The Highwind’s galley kitchen was equipped with a special stove that locked pots and pans in place. Satisfied that the kettle was secure, she leaned against the opposite counter. “I guess I am.”

“Worried about Cloud?”

“Yeah.” She kicked at an imaginary piece of dirt. “I’m really worried about Aerith, though. What happens next? Why is she back?”

Yuffie bit her lip, a habit she’d unconsciously picked up from Aerith when they’d traveled together. “I kinda got part of the story from Sephiroth. He said that the Planet wanted Aerith to return, and the Cetra arranged it. He’s here as her…well, her bodyguard, I guess. He said something about it being part of his penance for his sins. That’s why he’s been so overprotective of her. But he’s not doing too well. I think he’s getting a fever now, too.”

“Did he say anything about how they got so sick?”

The girl nodded. “He said that when they came back, it was exactly in the place their bodies last were. So he showed up in Northern Crater, with a new body, since Cloud destroyed the old one. And Aerith—,”

“—Came back in the lake! Oh, gods above. No wonder she had that terrible fever! She probably suffered from hypothermia. It’s amazing she survived.”

“Well, that’s only because he ran—if you can believe that—from Northern Crater to the Ancient City. He said he found her just before she passed out the first time. Then he brought her to one of the houses, made a fire, and took care of her until Vinny called us.”

The teakettle whistled. Tifa jumped, realizing that she’d been in a trance listening to Yuffie’s story. As she prepared two mugs of tea, she asked, “He told you all that?”

“Yeah, he did. In bits and pieces, y’know, but it all came out. Cloud kept interrupting him, and Vinny kept shushing Cloud. I’m just glad you guys weren’t there when we found them.”


“’Cause Spike would’ve blown a gasket if he’d seen them. As it was, I think Cid made up a few new swear words.” She cringed when the hot tea burned her tongue. “I mean, really.”

Tifa looked exasperated. “What? Why would Sp—Cloud have been upset?”

“Oh! Yeah. Well, Sephiroth said she’d passed out again, and he was trying to revive her when he blacked out, but…”

“But what!?”

“…They kinda looked like they were…umm…sleeping together.” At Tifa’s expression of alarm, she hurriedly added, “I mean, his arms were wrapped around her, and she looked really comfortable, like she’d snuggled up to him, and they were both on the bed. They were, like, dressed, and all, but it was just…weird. Y’know?”

“Oh, gods…”

They fell silent, drinking their tea. Then Yuffie spoke.

“Hey, Tifa?”


“Umm…he said that he’s just concerned about her, but I was thinking…Sephiroth is taking it way beyond that. He won’t leave her side. And no matter what he says about penance, I don’t believe that for all the materia in Wutai. He wants to protect her.”

“What makes you say that?”

“C’mon, Teef, haven’t you ever seen a guy trying to convince himself that he doesn’t like a girl, and he’s just doing something nice for her ‘cause he had to or something? He looks just like that.”

“Ugh,” said Tifa, “But it’s Sephiroth! That is so…wrong.” She shuddered.

“Yeah. Eewwww.” Yuffie laughed humorlessly, but she still looked uncertain. Sipping her tea to hide her expression, she thought, If the Planet really did bring him back with Aerith, doesn’t that mean that it forgave him? And would that mean that he’s on our side now?

Looks like I’m gonna have to go find out, she thought with an internal grin, or I’m not the Great Ninja Yuffie!

Chapter 5

Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic