Love and Life Chapter 10
Cloud watched the glow that had enveloped Tifas body subside only but an hour before, and was still amazed. Shocked, too, but nonetheless amazed. He sat down amidst the flowers, and plucked up two that were nearest to him. Pink. Aeris loved the color pink -- it suited her as well, her sweetness and gentle nature reflected back through the bubblegum pink dress that she often wore. Purple. Tifa had loved purple, and though she rarely wore it, unlike the way Aeris did her pink, she did only on special occasions. The hue, somewhere between red and blue, passion and sadness, described Tifa in a way that words never could. Plucked flowers. Both were gone now... their sweet lives ended far too early, too tragically, one taken by a madman, the other... by Cloud himself.
Letting the pink flower go, he crushed the purple one in frustration.
It was his fault.
Had he never blown up at her, had he never held on so tightly to the love that he had never truly had to begin with, had he never ignored the love that was right in front of him, it would still be there. She wouldnt have run off into the cold, only to be stricken with illness and waste away.
The chocobos were ready to leave and were restless, warking at Cloud to get a move on. He stood, and with another glance back, took to the birds and was about to leave. The pool began to shimmer again behind his back, and the Chocobos began to run out of control in fright. Cloud looked back and saw a figure appear, rising from the water.
It was Tifa.
Cloud looked on, dumbfounded, and as the light subsided again, Tifa stepped down from the spot on which she had been hovering, and looked at Cloud.
Cloud! Youre still here! she shouted joyfully and ran to greet him. Cloud was grinning from ear to ear, but still not uttering a word, looked her over to see if she was real, touched her hand, her face.
Im real, Cloud, well... sorta, she said. She held her hand up to the light that came in from above, and faintly, just faintly there was an oddness to it -- her hand was slightly see-through. Cloud looked at her again, still not speaking, this time with confusion etched on his face.
Why dont you sit down, I have a bit of explaining to do, about all of this, she told him with a wry smile.
Amazing, Cloud said, all this time, youve had their genes of the Ancients, Sephiroth and Materia spliced into you. So you saw Aeris? Tifa nodded, and Cloud smiled even more.
I... I have a gift for you, Cloud, Tifa said, hesitantly. It was her plan and her idea, but it was still hard for her to do. Cloud looked on intently. As you know, Im not permanently here, and when I go back, Im sending Aeris here for a week. I know that you wanted to see her again, and since I have the power to do it, Im doing it. I think that it will be good for you.
You really mean it? he asked, not as wildly ecstatic as Tifa had feared he might be, but not as disinterested as she hoped either.
Yes. Ill go back and get her as soon as you want me to. During that time Ill... go and see what life is like in other dimensions. Ill be alright, dont worry, she told him with much strength.
Thanks Tifa, really. And, stay here for the night, please? I dont want you to go running off right after you came back to me so miraculously. Come back to my place at Costa Del Sol. I want to spend a little time with just you, he told her. She smiled.
Aeris! Time to come back! Tifa shouted, banging on the door to the dimensions. That girl must have been really into wherever it was that she had sent herself. Tifa had spent the rest of that day and night with Cloud. They had talked and laughed, and mended. Tifa felt that she really had a chance in this now, that Cloud really did love her. But what about Aeris now? If the poor girl got rejected by him, Tifa would feel for her, knowing what she would be going through. It was too late now for second guesses, and she banged on the door again. Aeeeeeriiiiisss! she bellowed. The door swung open and the pink wonder stepped out, bright smile plastered onto her doll-face.
You rang? she said jokingly.
Time for you to go. Hes ready for you, Tifa said seriously.
So thats what your unfinished business was, eh? Aeris asked, winking. Sounds great. Whenever youre ready? Tifa concentrated into the dimension where their Cloud awaited the flower girl, and the door swung open again.
Good luck, Tifa said earnestly. Aeris looked back with hesitant eyes.
You too, she said, then stepped in. The door closed. It had been done.
Cloud was asleep at Costa Del Sol. Tifa had not needed sleep in her ethereal form, so Cloud had stayed up with her the whole night, and saw her off when she left. In a bright wash of light, Aeris form appeared in his room. She looked around the place and recognized it immediately.
Im really back! she said, and then saw Cloud sleeping. She tiptoed to his side, and looked at him. I thought that Id never see you again, she stroked his cheek with her hand and sat down beside him on the bed. Not wanting to wake him, and because the bed was big enough, she lay down next to him and stared up at the ceiling, just happy to be back. So many people she knew here had died, though, and her home, Midgar, was gone too. Even though it was a dump, she felt a pang of regret now that it was gone.
I guess most of my old boyfriends are gone too... Zacks been gone for a long time, Tseng too. The others probably died in the destruction of Midgar. Sigh... she thought to herself, still staring up at the blank ceiling.
Cloud felt something stirring on his bed, and was awaken from his sleep. He could feel that there was someone on the bed next to him, and not a very large person at that.
Tifa? he asked, turning around to look, and when he did, caught a glimpse of a bright pink dress and an odd hairdo. AERIS! he cried, immediately jumping up out of bed, and gesturing his hands towards her. Tifa told me that you were coming, but I- I never even imagined, well, I mean, seeing you, and in my bed, and in the... well... he stammered on as Aeris simply smiled back at him the way that she had a tendency of doing.
Id say youre shocked. But Im so glad to see you too, Cloud. I really want to catch up, see how the world is doing now. I dont hear the planet crying anymore... it tells me that its healing... its thanking all of us who helped... she looked around, smiling, with teary eyes. All of my life, I never heard the planet do anything but cry, but now.... thanks to all of you it can heal, she looked back at cloud with gratitude.
Its all thanks to you, Aeris, not me. You knew how to save the planet with your white materia -- you went to your death to save us! Cloud said, grasping her dear hand. Aeris blushed, and turned her head to the side.
I did what had to be done. If I hadnt have done it, the planet would have found someone else. Just because I have Cetra blood I was very easy for the planet to talk to. It could have asked anyone, you, Cid, Tifa, its just that my ears were already open, she looked down at the floor.
But... well, you knew that Sephiroth was going to kill you, didnt you? I mean, it seemed that way to me, he asked, more hesitantly now. Aeris turned her gaze to him suddenly.
I did not! I felt that all I had to do was sit in on the altar at the Capital of the Cetra pray until Holy had done its job and it was all over. Thats what I meant, Id be back when it was all over... she told him, feeling a little upset now. How could they all think that she knew that she was going to die? She had been looking forward to another date with Cloud, and maybe some girl-talk with Yuffie and Tifa.
Dont be angry... how could I know what you were thinking? Anyway, we have a lot to do. Cids bringing the Highwind by, and hes letting me take it for the week that I have with you, though he doesnt know that youre here -- no one does, Im making sure that this is our time, he said to her, looking into her eyes. She smiled, but she didnt feel quite right yet. The world was a different one than the one that she left.
Okay, Cloud, anytime youre ready.
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