Love and Life Chapter 1

Life Goes On...

By Medina

“I miss having Aeris around, Tifa, I really do. She was so sweet– and she would have loved to see that the world was back in its natural order, and it’s all thanks to her,” said Cloud Strife as he sat down at an outdoor cafe in the town of Kalm, ready to dine with his companion, Tifa Lockheart. He had invited her to meet him there before they went to explore the forest that had grown out of the rubble heap which was once called Midgar.

“Yeah, Aeris would have loved the forest, and everything. That Aeris was one perky girl,” Tifa agreed, as she stirred her latte with a straw, her tone laced with a complacent dismay. Tifa was in love with the man that sat opposite her; with his abnormally spiky hair, and blue eyes that glowed with Mako energy– lifestream energy. The very same lifestream that left some of its presence in Cloud was the same force that their friend Aeris was now a part of. But besides those parts of Cloud that stood out, there was nothing extraordinary about the man. He was not an incredibly interesting guy when it came to personality, or looks, or build, (he was a rather skinny young man now that Tifa was thinking about it,) but, nonetheless, Tifa loved him. Unconditionally, she did. That was also her problem.

“She would have wanted to see the forest there, since she loved nature so much. Hey, maybe her flowers still grow in there somewhere!” he said with a great big smile coming over his face.

“Perhaps,” stated Tifa, her mood of voice still unchanged, though she smiled back at Cloud. She loved his smile, and could not help from reflecting it herself, even though she knew that the joy he had inside was not for her, but to Aeris. Aeris, the beautiful, the kind, the gentle, the spunky, the departed Aeris. And because of all theses things, Cloud had come to love the girl, and the girl had loved him too. Tifa had seen herself to be no match for her before, and now, even after the girl’s death, she was even less. It would have been easy for Tifa to hate Aeris for taking Cloud away from her, but Tifa didn’t, no, not at all. She had liked Aeris as much as everyone else had, adding more to her problem.

But, Tifa had thought, with Aeris gone, and the knowledge that Cloud did have feelings for herself, shouldn’t they be able to have the relationship that Tifa had wanted? No. Aeris had never rejected Cloud, she was never spiteful, and she had a certain spirit that was unmatched. Cloud seemed to hang on to the memory of Aeris as tightly as he could, leaving no room for Tifa to come into his heart. She sighed a long sigh, which Cloud did not even hear amidst his munching. How would she cope with this?

She finished her small breakfast, which was small because, strangely, she did not feel as hungry as she usually was, and waited for Cloud to finish scarfing his down.

Cloud roughly wiped his mouth with the napkin, threw down a few gil to pay for the meal, and stood up. “Shall we go?” he asked the young woman across from him.

“Why not?” she said as heavily as ever.

They trekked out by foot from Kalm, and by midday, they came upon the Midgar Forest. This was a strange forest, for the trees were like none that had ever been seen on that world, well, almost. There had been a few trees like that at the City of the Ancients, but they were all long-since dead. These trees grew in lush splendor, and reached for the blue sky with their wild branches with blue and green needles. These trees were dubbed, “Mako Pines”, for they grew out of Mako energy, which was highly concentrated in the area. The Lifestream no longer came up at Mideel, but came closest to the surface here, at Midgar, which had advanced the growth of theses trees so much, as if it were there as a scab might be, to protect the wound and let it heal. Tifa and Cloud, upon entering the woods, proceeded slowly, taking in every sight, smell and feel that they could perceive from the place. It felt much like the Sleeping Forest had, but with less mist and more peace to it. Many animals had taken to this place; the sweet sparrow and blackbird came to roost in the branches among hawks and owls, unafraid. This place did have a pacific presence, all thanks to the Lifestream. They continued at their slow pace until they came upon a grouping of trees that seemed impregnable, which caught their attention. With much thanks to Tifa’s acrobatic abilities, she was first able to get up into the trees, and then help Cloud up. Once they were over, they were stunned at what they saw.

There was a small clearing, surrounded by the trees, with grass, and flowers in it. The canopy of trees all but blocked out the sun except for in one small circle, where it came in like a holy blessing, and shone down upon a spring of water. They examined the whole place; the flowers were Mako Blooms, the same sort that Aeris used to sell when she lived in Midgar, but these were not only white, but lavender, pink and powder blue. The pool was not only water, but water mixed with Lifestream energy in its natural form, and completely non-toxic to living beings, unlike the way that Mako energy would poison people. In Mako form, it was too concentrated, so it overwhelmed anything biological.

They decided to set for a while in this place, seeing it as the perfect place to have a picnic. Tifa had made sandwiches and brought a blanket, so she and Cloud had lunch there. Afterwards, they picked flowers, talked with each other, and even took a dip into the pool, which was rather warm and refreshing.

Later on, they were both lying down on the grass beside one another, watching the world go by from the hole in the canopy, and pointing out what passing clouds looked like.

“That cloud looks kind of like your head, Cloud. A Cloud cloud!” Tifa said, starting them both out into a series of laughter.

“This has been a great day, Tifa. I’m glad that I spent it with you,” Cloud said to her as he turned to her.

“This has been one of the best days I have had in a very long time. I guess I owe it to you, don’t I?” she turned to him as well. “Thanks a lot for getting me to come with you.”

Cloud sat up, and began to look about, then he drew his hand through his yellow hair anxiously. “This is going to sound really macabre, or morbid, or whatever,” he said, making sure he had Tifa’s attention. Her doe-like eyes were fixed on him, so he continued. “Tifa, when I, er, pass on, whenever that is, would you make sure that my body gets buried here?” he paused, blushing. Tifa was smiling, as to say, ‘it’s ok,’ so he went on again. “I know that we’ll always have each other, so, what do you think? Would you do that for me?”

Tifa sat up, and took her eyes off of him. Could Cloud have meant that he wanted to be with her? She smiled. “Of course I would , Cloud, I’d do anything for you,” she plucked a young shoot of grass and flicked it, then returned her gaze to him; “But what makes you so sure that I’m going to outlast you?”

“Well, women generally live longer than men...” he thought for a moment, “I’m a year older than you, and you didn’t get all beat up and go through all of that Mako testing, and... uh,” he scratched his head.

“Cloud Strife, you’re pushing it,” she said playfully. “But, alright. Just, you promise me the same thing. If I go before you do, you’ll take me here, ok?”

“Ok, then, that’s right. Seal it with a kiss,” he said. Tifa remembered this; back when they were kids in Nibelheim, all of the good friends of the opposite sex would do this to seal a promise. She and Cloud had done that before they parted at the water tower the night he promised to be her hero forever. he had suggested it now, and was suggesting it again. She was wondering if it were nostalgia, or romance. She puckered up and closed her eyes, and they both gave a clean kiss. She opened her eyes, and noticed that Cloud had not moved his face away from hers, so she was looking right into his eyes. They both sat for a moment, staring, then burst out laughing again.

Tifa and Cloud continued talking for a little longer, when all of a sudden, it occurred to her that this was all a little too-perfect. She hoped not, but Cloud did have a way of messing things up sometimes... “You know, I was just thinking about Aeris, and where she was laid to rest,” Cloud began in a more serious tone. “I wish we wouldn’t have had to lay her anywhere, but if there was a perfect place for Aeris, it was in the City of the Ancients. Beautiful, mysterious, just like her. Is something wrong, Tifa?” he asked, when he noticed that she had stood up. “It’s getting cold. I think we should go now,” she said, as the wind purged her light clothing.


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