Leaving Midgar was like leaving the labs all over again. The world widened and heightened further than conceivable. She knew – of course – the world was so much vaster than Midgar, but peering out into the world from the edge of the city did not compare to running barefoot across the grassland. Feeling the rain fall and the heat of the sun. All too quickly she discovered sun-burn, but there was so much more here. Other flowers to touch, to smell. Newer and unfamiliar foods to taste. A whole slew of new textures and people to meet.
But more people increased the chances the words would come to her again. Aeris did not say the words for President Shinra or any of those slain in the Shinra building. She held them back for people in Kalm, and recorded them; starting afresh in a new notebook. Her third book to hold the words. The words came after Fort Condor, Junon and Costa del Sol. All faithfully recorded. None for the deaths in the Gold Saucer, but-
Aeris perched on the wreck of a burnt out car not far outside the desert compound of the Corel Desert – once the town of North Corel. She kicked her heels, bored and too hot. The air was dry, the faint breeze too warm to offer any relief. Trapped under the open sky until Barret completed his business with Dyne; an unexpected relic from his past. She waited here with her new friends. Still a shame the decision to reveal her past had not been hers. At least her heritage and her nature did not seem to affect how they treated her. She was the flower girl and part of Avalanche.
The people she travelled with liked spending time with her, laughed and joked with her. People she could day-dream about – and might, when this was over, consider asking out. Not yet. But they had waited too long, the group too quiet-
Echoing cracks of thunder in the distance. The Barret had gone; the noise roused Avalanche, each of them concerned and wary. Barret would be okay. He had to be okay. Aeris opened her mouth to assure the group and the words almost tumbled out. For Marlene. For Barret. A blink. A relief. Barret had not returned to the Planet. But someone else had.
Marlene and Barret Wallace. Someone close to them had returned to the Planet. Not hard to figure out the truth before Barret returned, his gaze sombre. Marlene's biological father was now dead and his last thoughts went to his daughter and her adoptive Father. He would not want a reminder and Marlene was far too distant to tell. She could not say the words to Barret. Not something she wanted to say to anyone. Aeris scribbled the words in her notebook late at night when no one would ask what she wrote.
Gongaga sparked concerns, confusion and called old assumptions into questions. No answers there but a narrowing of possibilities. At Cosmo Canyon the Elders dashed a fleeting hope and told her she was the last of her kind. All the new delights their latest stop provided could not eclipse a new, glaring and unwanted certainty of her life.
No one else who could understand or feel the need relate to the words she wanted to. No one to tell her how to deal with them. No other weirdo in the world; another Cetra who had the same weird moniker as her, or better yet, one who had learned how to hide or embrace it. She remained alone and apart despite her friends; no one to advise on how to deal with her knowledge. Events rushed by after as Avalanche nipped at Sephiroth's heels.
She might have asked Cloud to accompany her during Enchantment Night as a way of paying what she owed, but it helped her push forward, to move on once more. She was alone as a Cetra, but she still had her friends. She had those wonderful little moments with Cloud and Tifa both. Honestly, if she could have gotten them both to come along on Enchantment Night, she would. The night settled the debt she owed Cloud, gave her the chance to admit the strange complexities of his association with Zack. After the Temple – after the completion of this next step – she would make more changes. Continue to see the world. Ask Cloud and Tifa out. Be weird. Find her own path.
One little mission for the Planet first.