A Promise Kept Chapter 13
" I love you " (Aeris)
Sephiroth turned his head and saw what Tseng was smirking about. His eyes widened in horror as he leapt toward her in desperation: "Aeris! Watch "
But this time, the warning was a second too late. Just as the effect of Wall started to wear off, a black icicle appeared from behind Aeris and shot into her back.
Like a knife into butter.
Time seemed frozen as she looked down in utter disbelief; the sharp end of a crystalline icicle, black as the midnight sky, stuck out of her abdomen. Her ribbon was sliced in the process, as the White Materia fell out from her braid, bouncing down the stairs and out of her reach with a deathly grace.
Is this real?
Her knees buckled, she began to fall.
Almost everyone dashed for her, but it was Sephiroth who caught her in his arms.
"Aeris Aeris!" The legendary SOLDIER finally lost his cool as he chanted spells, pressed his hand against her wound, frantically trying to stop the bleeding.
Tseng took in the shocked expressions of Avalanche and spoke cruelly: "Death rain a limit break I designed for this Turk but it really should be called Death Raindrop All those icicles were all just one big façade, the only lethal one was aimed at the Cetra, and so, death will claim her now "
Clouds hand clenched the sword so tight that his knuckles were turning white.
"Bitch " He whispered hatefully.
"All the same. The Cetra is out of my way now! Im invincible! Soon I will have the whole universe at my commend!" Jenova began to rise, "Farewell, you pathetic fools!"
"You cursed bitch!" Cloud swung his sword at the Jenova-possessed body of Tseng but he was already out of reach, disappearing from their sight.
Cloud cursed loudly, his face was white as a sheet.
"Jenova! We will get you for this! God damn it! We will!" Tears blurred Tifas vision as she looked at her friends dying form in Sephiroths arms. Everyone else turned to, gathering around the two, and stared in utter horror and helplessness as life was visibly being drained out of Aeris body.
However, neither Aeris nor Sephiroth noticed them. Aeris lifted her head with some difficulty to look at the silver haired SOLDIER, her proud mythical warrior
Tears rolled down her cheeks. Too short was her time with him and too little time she had left
"Will you forgive me?" Aeris coughed, blood triggered down from the corner of her mouth. She whispered weakly: "I wanted to be strong, but in the end It was not enough to let me go through it all by your side "
"Dont speak." Sephiroth pleaded with her, casting the strongest healing spells he knew on her, "Reserve your strength, you will be alright. Its nothing that serious "
He was silenced by the two bloody fingers she put over his lips, he could almost taste the saltiness. Aeris smiled sadly: "Promise me youll live on? Someday someday I will meet you again but for now please go on without me. I "
She whispered through tears: "I really love you "
Sephiroths whole body shuttered as if some great unseen force dealt him a mighty blow. He stared into her tear-glazed emerald eyes, unable to think, unable to say anything.
Aeris let out a sigh and her eyelids slowly closed. "Se...phiro..." Her whole body jerked once, then completely relaxed into his arms, her head dropping to the side and her breathing ceased.
The last of the Cetra clan had died fighting Jenova.
"Ae ris " Sephiroth muttered, staring at her blood stained face. He stared so hard that his eyes began to hurt, but he was hardly aware of it. In his mind he screamed to himself, refusing to accept what had just happened.
She cant be dead! This is not happening! It must be some kind of a nightmare, a sick joke Jenova is playing on his mind. No way this is true!
Shakily he cupped her face and brushed strands of hair out of her face, but she didnt respond, her face was covered with a grayness of death. Sephiroth reached down and kissed her on the lips, desperately, as if he could somehow call her back by doing that. But she remained passive, motionless in his arms, her lips lost the warmth and sensation it brought him when they shared their first, and last kiss before the Meteor appeared.
Sephiroth finally pulled away, looking down at her, his voice choking as his vision was blurred by a sudden wetness in his eyes. "No Aeris This cant be You told me you loved me. Then stay, if you really do. Please Aeris, you cant leave me!"
Tears streamed down his face, dripping onto her face and mixed with her blood. Gazing at her beautiful face, he suddenly recalled a time when they had just began the journey together, how she had looked at him and firmly whispered those words
You are NOT a monster Sephiroth. You are human, just like the rest of us Please remember that.
Those words had held him through so many sleepless nights of turmoil. Every time the pain becomes unbearable, he would try to call forth her face, her soft voice from his mind, and take comfort in the faith of the only person who believed him that much. Yet in the depth of his heart, he had always thought of himself as an abhorring freak of nature. Different he always knew he was different. He had never truly believed her words, until now.
As the grief and anguish threatened to consume his heart, Sephiroth realized that he was indeed very human.
"AERIS!!!" He buried his face into her hair to muffle a cry that shattered his very soul. In the end, he was every bit as human as anyone else, because he had loved.
He had truly loved her.
Outside the structure, there was a lake. With the cleanest, purest water they had ever seen, as pure as the heart of their deceased friend. Therefore, without many words being exchanged, everyone came to the agreement to lay their friend here for her eternal rest.
Sephiroth carried Aeris in his arms and slowly walked into the water, while the rest of Avalanche watched from the shore. No one had challenged Sephiroth for the right, not even Cloud. For however unwillingly, they had to admit Aeris loved him. She used the last of her breath to say his name
She would want it done this way.
They had carefully wiped the blood off her face. Tifa and Yuffie took care of the rest, dressing her in a flowing white gown. Her hair was unbraided, curls of chestnut hair framed her heart-shaped face. Sephiroth stood in the water for long moments, looking at her peaceful features, unwilling to let go.
A current of gentle wind suddenly swept by, blowing strands of hair onto her cheek.
Sephiroth snapped out of his painful trance. He gently brushed the hair out of her face, and whispered: "Aeris "
His voice was so hoarse that he had to swallow hard, and try again: "Aeris you asked me to forgive you, for not being able to go through it all with me You asked me to live on You always knew me too well, didnt you?"
A sad smiled formed on the corner of his lips as he continued to whisper: "Dont worry Aeris, dont worry about it anymore. I will destroy Meteor and Jenova I don't know how yet, but I will I give you my word."
He bent down and slowly placed a kiss on her forehead: "Wait for me Aeris As you said, well meet again someday. And "
He tried hard not to tremble as the grief overwhelmed him: "And I love you I always had, and always will. I love you so much "
Slowly, he let her go and watched the gentle waves surround her, sending her slowly into the depth of the lake, where her final resting place lies.
After long moments, Sephiroth finally turned to the others, not bothering to hide the tears in his eyes. His hands were clenched into tight fists, and in as calm a voice as he could muster, he said: "We have Jenova to deal with. Lets go."
"Alright. So Meteor's in the sky, Rufus Shinra still in power, and Jenova has the Black Materia. And we have nothing " Yuffie concluded, and groaned, burying her head in her hands with great frustration, "Gawd I have a headache!"
"&%$^! You think you've got a %$&^ headache?" Cid spat.
"Hey! Don't start with me you Err " Yuffie was about to retort with some rich vocabulary of her own when a glare from Sephiroth silenced her. The ex-General had been very quiet since they left the City of Ancients, looking even more dark and foreboding than ever before. She definitely did not want to get on his bad side right now.
Surprisingly, Sephiroth chose to speak up at the moment, in a voice that was rather emotionless: "We have to stop the Meteor, somehow "
"Tell us something that we don't know!" Barret snapped, but unexpectedly, Cloud raised a hand to stop him.
"I know." For the first time, the young SOLDIER addressed his former superior without malice in his voice, "But how? I mean, Aeris she "
A look of pain flashed in Sephiroth's eyes. He looked away from the group and continued to speak: "We must find Jenova and beat her. This is our best option right now. Jenova summoned the Meteor, she must bear a connection with it "
Red XIII caught on: "You are saying, by destroying Jenova, there is a chance that Meteor will be destroyed as well?"
"A slim chance, but our best at the moment." Sephiroth admitted.
Tifa slowly nodded: "I agree with you. But where is Jenova? How do we find her?"
Cloud looked thoughtful: "If we know what she wants to do with the Meteor, maybe that'll tell us where she is." He turned to Sephiroth and asked: "Do you know what's her plan?"
Sephiroth shook his head: "Aeris told me she wants to harvest the energy of the Planet Other than that, I do not know."
"I know someone who might know more." Red XIII spoke up, "My grandfather in Cosmo Canyon knows a lot about astronomy, maybe he would be able to help us out."
Cloud considered and then nodded: "Alright, let's go to Cosmo Canyon then. We have no time to waste."
"Ho ho ho Nanaki, welcome home." The old man grinned broadly, "I have been expecting you, ever since that thing appeared." He gestured toward the sky.
"Grandpa, you know what we are supposed to do, then?"
"You must journey across the Great Glazier, to the Northern Crater where everything started " Bugenhagen's eyes shone with a mysterious light that somehow resembled Aeris's. Sephiroth turned his head away involuntarily, painfully reminded of his lost.
"Do you have time for a story?" He heard Bugenhagen ask Cloud, and the young man replied a "Go ahead."
"Two thousand years ago, on this planet resided a group of people who called themselves the Cetra. They belonged to a race that had the ability to communicate with spirits and in some cases, with the conscience of the planet itself." Bugenhagen smiled a bit: "They were a gentle race with good temper and kind hearts. It was said that although they possessed extraordinary powers, they treated all others as equals."
This brought a sad smile to some people's faces, as they were all reminded of their deceased friend. Red XIII choked out a response: "We know grandpa We had a friend who was a half-Cetra."
"Oh? Although this is a desolated place, I did hear of a girl wanted by the Shinra, who was rumored to be the last of the Cetra " Bugenhagen shook his head and then asked: "Is she with you?"
"She was but she was killed by Jenova, when she attempted to summon Holy "
"I see " Bugenhagen lowered his head as well, "That race they gave everything to stop Jenova, the Crisis from Sky "
Sephiroth clenched his fists. In a tight voice, he asked: "What exactly is Jenova? "
"She is an alien, in a way, she is similar to the Cetra. She crashed into the planet two thousand years ago, creating the Northern Crater. She posed as a friend to the Cetra and gave them a deadly disease. Most of them died in order to seal Jenova " Bugenhagen sighed, "Now she was freed and summoned a Meteor. We humans are such fools to bring her back to this world "
"Shinra." Tifa whispered the word as if it was a curse.
"We will deal with them later." Cloud's Mako eyes were glowing more than usual as he turned his attention to Bugenhagen again: "Tell us, is there any way we can stop the Meteor?"
"As I mentioned, you must go to the Northern Crater. It is the wound of the planet, Jenova will be there, waiting to harvest the energy once Meteor hits."
"Once we get rid of her, the Meteor will be stopped?" Tifa asked.
"No but killing her will set the Cetra's prayer free "
Sephiroth felt his chest tighten: "You mean Aeris?"
"Yes." Bugenhagen nodded, "You said she was summoning Holy when she died. Jenova must've used Black Materia to block her prayer to the planet. Once you get rid of Jenova, her prayer will reach its destination, and Holy will answer it "
"Aeris's prayer " Cloud stood up, "Alright. We are heading for the Northern Crater at dawn."
In a lower voice, he added: "Let's help Aeris finish what she started."
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