Evolution of Innocence Chapter 8
By Janet Monstwillo
Tifa had decided that the convention was definitely not the place for her. At least, it wasnt while she was dressed the way she was. So, she thought it would ultimately be the best decision if she changed out of her battle gear and into some casual wear.
(I am not some slutty girl walking around with my breasts hanging out. I wear what I wear to fight easily. It has nothing to do with sex.) She thought for a bit and laid a hand on her chest. (I suppose a sports bra really wouldnt hurt anything, though.) She had made up her mind. She turned and walked towards the nearest exit she could find. (I have jeans and other casual things in my room at the inn. Ill come back here in a better state of mind.)
When Tifa was out of the old Shinra building and on the street, she paused to look around and figure out where she was. There was no chance that she was lost; she knew Junon like the back of her hand. She only needed to find a street sign so she would know the way she should walk to reach the inn.
Suddenly, she was jumped from behind. In her surprise, Tifa lost her balance and slipped to the hard asphalt. (Oh shit, not now.) She twisted around with a jerk and catapulted her opponent off of her with a trick move, involving her feet making contact with the enemys midsection.
Tifa sprang up from the ground and cautiously approached her attacker, who was lying in a heap on the other side of the street. Her eyes widened in surprise at what she saw. (A little red-headed woman?)
The woman sat up and glared at Tifa with a piercing amount of viciousness. Her eyes became aglow suddenly, and the woman held out her arms in a ritualistic motion. Tornado, she whispered.
Tifa felt her body tossed up high into the air like it was as light as a feather. But the swirling fury of the winds threw her around in a dizzying spiral, and before she knew it, she was hurtling towards the ground. (This is going to hurt. Bad!) The only precaution she could make was to pray that her body stayed limp, so it could absorb the shock of the impact a little more easily.
I should have known youd be here, a male voice said angrily.
The woman tossed her head. Who are you to meddle in my affairs? she asked haughtily. Im just settling a score here. This is none of your business.
The man was tall, and his dark eyes were full of fury. The harm you do is my business. After what you did to me! He ran towards the woman, prepared to fight to the death.
The woman laughed, and waved an arm, eyes glowing once more. Wall, she announced.
Before the word was even finished, Derin uttered one of his own. His eyes flashed as he cast Dispel. Im not a little order follower this time. I do things my way now.
Tifa moaned. It felt like every bone in her body was broken. She slowly sat up and looked at the materia in her gloves. Everything would be all right if she could just will the strength to cast...
Derins eyes flashed, and he whispered Regen so softly no one realized he said it. (I can sense her pride would be wounded if I cured her myself...so Ill just give her a little bit to do her own work.)
Feeling a little bit stronger, Tifa stretched out her arms and let the energy flow from the crystal into her body. Full-cure! she said, the word gaining intensity even as she said it. Swirls of light surrounded her body and she sprang up lightly from the ground. She didnt know if she trusted the man who had saved her, but she prepared to battle alongside him anyway, for the moment at least.
If you know who I am, foolish boy, said the woman, you know your piddly magic spells are futile against my innate powers. She tossed an arm lightly in the air and stepped back from them slightly. A red glow began to seep into the air around Derin and Tifathe atmosphere became almost electricuntil the woman started to become hazy.
No! He realized all too late what the woman meant to do.
Oh yes, fools! Her eyes glowed with an almost blinding intensity. Tifa shielded her eyes from them almost as one would shield them from the sun. Then the woman began to finish the casting she had started. Ultimate En
She was interrupted as a dark-haired man attacked her, jumping down from above. He slashed at the woman many times with a long, thin sword.
Tifa looked at this new person, thinking to herself that both the man and his weapon were hauntingly familiar. (Something about the eyes...the hair...the goatee...)
Derin watched this attack with a careful eye, debating in his mind between facts he knew and possibilities that might have come to pass. (Could this be...)
The red-haired woman glanced between her three enemies. She was warding off the blows of the swordsman, but not for long. Casting a withering eye upon Tifa, she allowed herself one more spell. Death Sentence, she cried out, before fleeing into the heart of the city, with the swordsman in hot pursuit.
Tifa was instantly shrouded in a dark smoke that was visible only to her. She began coughing in a fit, knowing she didnt have long before the magic worked completely and she became comatose.
Derin looked over at her, with concern. He saw her strength dwindling and looked at the materia he was wearing. (How foolish of me to leave my Heal at the inn...but I had to limit what I brought. Not much can be stored in a Buster Sword.) He searched his pockets but found his items were limited to a couple potions and some Sylkis greens. He looked one more time at his materia in despair. He had two Command materia. (One is Steal, the other is...)
Closing her eyes as the darkness was about to overtake her, Tifa was suddenly aware of a voice calling out into the dusky air. Clear and bright, she heard the two most beautiful words that she had heard in a long time...
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Cloud had lost Derin. (Dammit, dammit, dammit!) He decided that he just went out the wrong exit. (If I haul ass around the side of the building, I should be able to find where Derin went.) He winced as he rounded a corner and sounds of battle and spells came to his ears.
All of a sudden, a red-headed woman tore by, with a swordsman in hot pursuit. Cloud debated with himself for a few seconds whether or not to help her. Then he heard a scream of Ice2 and the man cursing in pain. (No matter if theyre playing or not, neither one sounds helpless, so I have no side to join.)
He ran quickly in the direction from which they had come. He saw a flash up ahead as a spell was cast, and further up the road... (Derin. There you are, you bastard. Hmm, hes kneeling over someone.) Cloud drew his sword and slowly walked up to them. (Wait a minute. Thats...thats...)
Tifa looked into Derins eyes. (I dont know who this guy is, but...he saved me. At least twice over.) Thank you, she said softly. Who are She was interrupted by a furious cry.
Tifa! Get away from her you lying bastard! Cloud ran up to Derin and swung at him with the Ultima Weapon.
Derin was barely able to raise his Buster Sword in time to block the violent swing. Calm down, buddy, he said.
Calm down? You are attacking one of my friends! He withdrew his sword and prepared to lay another blow. Prepare to pay for what youre doing in this life and what youve done in your past one.
Tifa jumped in front of him. The point of the blade was only a breadth from her chest. First of all, Mr. Heroic, she spit out sarcastically, where do you get off calling me one of your friends?
Get out of the way, growled Cloud, inching forward a bit.
She leaned back a bit to try to wriggle away from the sword tip, which had actually pierced the cloth of her shirt. (This is a very uncomfortable situation) she mused to herself.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Daphne peered out into the street. Dusk was upon them, and soon the only light they would have would be that of the streetlights. She glanced around. (Where did he go?)
Red XIII stepped beside her and pricked up his ears. Puzzled, he raised his nose to the air and sniffed as a light breeze passed the group by. (What the?) The scents that had been carried to him were extremely confusing. But there was no time to ponder them, if Cloud was possibly fighting their enemy.
Can you see, hear, or smell anything, Reddie? asked Yuffie impatiently.
He narrowed his eyes and gestured with his head. Cloud is down that street over there. I hear angry voices. A few battle noises.
The group was startled as a red-haired woman ran past them. She seemed not to notice the group and whispered a few words. Her body turned to mist and she simply disappeared.
A man ran up in hot pursuit, breathing heavily. He looked straight at them. Where did she go?
Man, she just disappeared, said Cid with a touch of disinterest.
Barret gave the guy a strange look. Reeve?! What in the hell?
We dont have time for that, said Vincent. We need to go to Cloud.
Reeve glanced at the group and sheathed his sword. With a small shake of his head, he asked if he could go with them.
Red XIII looked him over. You might as well. I have a few questions to ask you about that woman after our current issue is settled. She smelled...odd to me.
Nodding in response, he replied. I would think she would.
Daphne looked at Red XIII. Lets go find Cloud, she said softly.
He nodded and began following Clouds scent. This way.
Get out of the way, and hell pay for hurting you.
Tifa laughed. Hell pay for hurting me? Who refuses to acknowledge my feelings? Who parades a little slut in front of my face? A tear rolled down her cheek, which she brushed away in scorn. (Damn me for being weak.)
Red XIII walked up and was startled by the scene in front of him. Cloud, with his sword drawn, seemingly aimed at Tifa. She was crying, and she was still pale from the Death Sentence spell.
Daphne was following behind him, stopping as he stopped. (What is Cloud doing? Aiming at Tifa.... And theres Derin!)
The rest of the group came up behind the two and was just as surprised at the sight. There was too much surprise for any one of them to even make a sound. They just watched the events playing out, like a movie.
Cloud pressed on, even closer. Tifa, he said softly. Every cadence of his voice seemed to shout a warning, which fell on deaf ears.
She looked at him hauntingly. As she leaned forward suddenly, the material of her shirt was slashed completely across the front. But she stood there, bare. He was there to save me. And youre poking me with your damn sword. Ever word she uttered ached with a spiteful poison.
The spell of the scene was unlocked as Daphne rushed forward between the two. Here, she said to Tifa, pulling off the sweater from her costume.
Tifa accepted the offer silently, pulling it on, fastening the buttons, and glaring at Cloud all the while. She glanced at Daphne. A passage of forgiveness, however brief, was placed in her heart for the violet-eyed girl. Maybe now I can have the chance to thank you for saving my life. She turned to Derin.
I only did what I had to do, he said, not without kindness. His eyes, however, were fixed on Daphne.
A bit of realization struck her...
Whyd you do it, Rissy? asked Zack. Wait there for Sephiroth on the altar?
Aeris sighed, pulling her silvery gown around her. I only did what I had to do.
Had to do? Theres a thing called free will. Eldor seems to live off of it. Human free will is the path to salvation, blah blah blah... He flashed a mischievous smile at Aeris.
(Even in a higher plane, when were all supposed to have unclouded knowledge...hes still Zack.) She giggled. Perhaps humans do. Youre forgetting Im an Ancient.
No Im not. I was just poking fun at you. I know that your sacrifice was what you had to do. You wanna know why?
Oh why, genius Zackie? Her green eyes sparkled.
His voice was serious, and his eyes on her were... Aeris shivered. She had to admit, this unadulterated love still gave her the tingles. (Damn the cloudiness of mortality, no matter how irreverent the thought is. All this, here, is pure beauty.)
Zack continued. ...if you didnt do that, you wouldnt be Aeris. Rissy, love, you had to do it because you are you. No other reason.
I would go back just to do it again, too, she said with a grave certainty.
Zack looked into her eyes. If you ever do... He paused to kiss her on the cheek. ...I promise you this. Ill come with you. Ill find you there no matter what clouds us from our truth. Because then, Ill be doing the only thing I have to do.
You wouldnt have to...
Aeris. Id only be doing what I had to do...
Daphne looked at Derin, half-frightened. What...?
He gazed back at her. (I can see she remembers...oh, for the sake of the Planet, shes got to remember!) He walked up to her and took her hand. Do you remember now?
She met his eyes in bewilderment. But...I...and...you...
He nodded. Its not complicated. Just close your eyes. Tell me who you are.
Daphne closed her eyes and allowed the images that had been haunting her for the past few weeks flood her brain again. When she opened them again, they seemed alight with an intense knowledge.
I am Aeris.
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