Chapter 65: My Final Fantasy
I know you
I know that
You have always been beside me waiting
I know that
You were there
Yes, you were
You were always with
If you know
What it takes
To find me a place inside
I know that
I will stay
If you want
It is inside of me
It's everywhere I go
As long as you are there
It is easy to see
You're my fantasy
My Final Fantasy (To Aeris' Theme) - Lyrics by Kat097, music by Nobuo Uematsu
The audience started to applaud loudly as the show's music began to play. A stunning woman with dark red hair and a dazzling smile lifted a microphone to her mouth and smiled into the camera.
"Good evening and welcome to Talk with Tina! I'm your host, Tina Macarthur and joining me tonight is, and I can barely believe this myself, Aeris Valentine!"
The cheers from the crowd were deafening as Tina moved over to a pair of chairs. Already sat down was Aeris. She smiled brightly as Tina shook her hand.
"Aeris, how are you?"
"I'm fantastic. I'm so excited to be here!" Aeris laughed. Tina smiled.
"Well, we're excited to have you here. Now, you're staying here in Junon. How do you like it?"
"It's wonderful, everyone is so friendly. It's my first visit here and I've been doing the whole tourist thing, going around the see the sights." Aeris said.
Tina laughed and said,
"OK, your album is coming out tomorrow. Are you nervous?"
"Terrified." Aeris admitted. "I never planned to be a singer; I had my heart set on just being a songwriter. So it's a little weird to be releasing my own album. I'm excited though, I really hope people like it."
"What sort of songs are on there?"
"I don't have a particular sound, I do a bit of everything. Guitar, saxophone, piano, it's got everything. I'm also trying to learn the drums, but I don't seem to be getting anywhere fast with that!"
Appreciative laughter echoed around the studio. Tina smiled and said,
"So, you graduated from University a year ago. Still in contact with your friends?"
"Of course! They'd kill me if I didn't stay in contact. My best friend, Cloud Strife, is directing a movie next year."
"You're best friends with Cloud Strife?" Tina seemed impressed. Aeris laughed.
"Oh yeah, we've been best friends since we were in diapers. And in turn, he's dating one of my other best friends, Tifa Lockheart who's running a Martial Arts school in Midgar. And Tifa's sister, Marlene, just married my manager, Mike. My other friend Yuffie is working at Midgar Media, so I see her a lot in the studios and she's dating Cloud's old roommate. So there's no way I could lose contact with any of them!"
"What have you been up to for the last year?"
"I've spent a lot of it touring and meeting with other artists. I've had a few requests for songs, so I spend a lot of time writing music and stuff like that. But right now I'm looking forward to getting home to be with Vincent."
"Vincent Valentine, your husband, he doesn't tour with you?"
"No, he's got a lot of commitment in Midgar. He's an artist and the Midgar museums love his work, so he spends a lot of time there. But we're talking on the phone for hours everyday and I try to get home at weekends." Aeris explained. Tina grinned and said,
"What are you going to do next?"
"Promotional work mostly. Getting the album out there and hoping and praying that it sells! But I'm mostly sticking to Midgar. I'll be flying out to a few major cities, like Wutai and Mideel but I really went to settle down for a while." Aeris said, smiling at the thought.
Tina leant in, as though conspiring with her.
"OK, you and Vincent have been married for four years now. Any sign of kids on the horizon?" Aeris flushed slightly and said,
"We haven't really talked about it. We've both been so busy it just hasn't been the right time."
"OK, we won't embarrass you again. But tell us, what do you think of Vincent being voted the second sexiest man in Midgar?"
Aeris burst out laughing.
"I thought that was great! He was so embarrassed, especially when I framed the article and hung it up in our living room!"
"I did. He glares at me every time I bring it up! But I think Rufus Shinra deserved to win that one." She winked and Tina laughed, as most of the female audience cheered and whooped. Aeris grinned.
After composing herself, Tina said,
"So, you've worked with The Turks, Alyssa Raven, Shelley Jackson and The Avalanche. Do you still keep in touch with them all?"
"Not really. Mostly we speak through our managers and stuff, except for the Turks. I'm pretty close with them. They're the best, they really are." Aeris said, smiling fondly. Tina checked the piece of paper with her list of questions and grinned.
"OK, your album has fifteen songs on it, including I'll Be There For You. Is that your favourite song?"
"I can't pick a favourite! I love all of them!" Aeris cried but Tina shook her head.
"No, come on. One of them has to be your favourite."
"I really don't have one. All of them are really special and they're all so different you can't compare them." Aeris protested.
"OK, OK. No more. And now you're going to perform one for us?"
"Yes, I am." Aeris grinned. Tina smiled and asked,
"The one I named the album after. It's written especially for Vincent." Aeris admitted.
"Oh, that's so sweet! OK then, Ladies and Gentlemen, fresh from her new album, we've got Aeris Valentine singing My Final Fantasy!"
Aeris rose and moved over to the microphone. She was about to start singing when…
… The tape paused.
Yuffie, Reeve, Tifa, Cloud and Vincent all groaned and protested but Aeris stuck her tongue out.
"No! It's embarrassing!" she said but Cloud wrestled the remote off of her and pressed play. Aeris pulled a face and went into the kitchen of the apartment in Midgar. She had done that interview two days ago, but it had only been aired last night and since Tifa, Reeve and Yuffie had all missed it, Cloud had recorded it for them.
She poured herself some coffee and glanced over at the television. The camera panned over her face, showing her best angles. She pulled a face. It really was embarrassing. She always avoided watching herself on television and reading articles about herself. It hadn't stopped Infalna creating a small shrine at her parent's house, books filled with newspaper clippings, videotapes filled with interviews and performances.
Vincent joined her in the kitchen kissing her.
"Are you alright?" he asked and she smiled.
"Yeah. It's too embarrassing to watch."
"You performed well."
"But still…" she gestured at the screen and shuddered. Vincent smiled and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her to him. She smiled and kissed him before sipping her coffee and pulling a face. She'd only arrived in Midgar that morning and as the tape ended she said,
"Let's get to Barret's. I really need his coffee. I'm telling you, you just can't get the same coffee anywhere else."
"Hey, you're a superstar. You should throw a tantrum and have it flown in." Yuffie laughed. Aeris chuckled.
"My head isn't that big yet. Give it time."
Barret looked up as the gang entered and grinned.
"Wondered when I'd be seeing you lot." Aeris moved forward and hugged him.
"I missed you, Barret!"
"Missed you too. By the way, you still owe me for your college tab." He winked at her.
"Oh probably, we stopped paying after the first week." Cloud said, as they sat down at the counter. Aeris was about to reply when someone tapped her shoulder. A college student, about eighteen years old smiled nervously.
"You are who I think you are, aren't you?"
"Depends who you think I am." Aeris smiled and the student blushed.
"Yup, I am." Aeris laughed and shook her hand. The student grinned and dug in her bag.
"Hey, can you sign the CD? I literally just went out and bought your album!"
Aeris stared at her.
"You bought my album? Really?"
"Of course!" Aeris squealed and hugged the shocked girl. "Oh my god, thank you! I was terrified that no one would buy it!"
The girl smiled and handed her the album. Aeris looked at her.
"What's your name?"
"OK…" Aeris wrote a message and handed it back to her. "Thank you so much for buying it!"
"Thank you for signing it!" Terri smiled and laughed. "I have to go tell my friends! I just got hugged by Aeris Valentine!"
She rushed off and Aeris turned back to the counter, grinning widely. She noticed the others trying to stifle laughter and stuck her tongue out.
"You probably scared the living daylights outta the poor girl!" Yuffie snorted. Aeris shrugged.
"I don't care. She bought my album!"
Barret put a cup of coffee in front of her. Aeris took a sip and moaned.
"Oh my god, that's good coffee. I'm telling you, this is the best coffee ever. There is nothing to compare to it." Barret grinned and set down a plate of doughnuts. Yuffie grabbed one, bit into and shouted as a blob of jam squirted onto her shirt. Everyone started to laugh as she stormed off to the bathroom, shouting, "Every single time!"
Aeris picked up her mobile phone as it began to ring.
"'Ello?" she said, through a mouthful of doughnut.
"It's Mike. Got a special request for you and Vincent." Aeris swallowed and wiped her sugary mouth.
"What is it?"
"Midgar Tonight wants to do a joint interview with you both. You don't have to answer now, and I've got to run to a meeting. See what Vincent says and I'll call you tonight."
"OK, thanks Mike. I'll ask him."
She closed the phone and looked over at Vincent.
"Mike wants to know if we'll do a joint interview for Midgar Tonight." She said, sipping coffee. He considered her and then asked,
"Do you want to?"
"It's up to you. I really don't mind. Of course, we'll get all the questions about our private life and everything."
"True… but it could be interesting." Vincent said thoughtfully. Aeris smiled.
"We'll say yes then?"
"Yes, might as well."
Aeris drank some more coffee and then smiled as she noticed the board behind the counter. This was where Barret kept his important notices and things. There was a picture of them all after graduation, grinning brightly.
"Nice picture." She commented. Barret glanced at it and smiled.
"Hey, you guys were my best customers."
"Despite the fact we never paid?"
"Hmm. But I get loads of students in, asking if you really used to hang out here."
Aeris laughed and looked around the café.
"Wow. So many memories." She commented. Cloud nodded.
"Yeah. Like over there, that's where Vincent slammed James into the wall."
"And that seat is where James bled all over the place after getting stabbed in the stomach." Tifa said, gesturing at a chair.
"That table over there? That's where Reeve put together that tracking thingy so we could escape from the psycho who was trying to kill us." Yuffie said casually.
"Good times." Aeris nodded solemnly.
There was a moment of silence and they all snorted with laughter.
Aeris wandered along the brightly lit paths of the university. She was going to call in on Shera in the music room. She wore a pair of sunglasses, not to avoid being notice, but because the sun was beating down gloriously.
She walked up the familiar steps to the music building. How long had it been since she'd last been here? A year, maybe a bit more. And yet it seemed exactly the same. She felt like she could have been going to class for the first time.
She glanced in the door to the music room. The students were off playing their separate instruments or singing, or writing music. Aeris smiled and knocked on the door. Shera glanced up from her desk and her jaw dropped.
"Come in!" she mouthed. Aeris smiled and opened the door, pushing her sunglasses up on her head. Shera crossed and hugged her.
"Aeris! How are you?"
"I'm great Shera, but look at you!" Aeris said, admiring the bump on Shera's stomach. "Faith's expecting a sibling?"
"Yes, in about three months." Shera smiled, glowingly. She turned to get the class' attention but had no need. They had all stopped to stare in utter amazement that an international star had wandered into their music class.
"Class, I expect you already know, but this is Aeris. She was a student of mine before she shot to fame."
"Couldn't have done it without you, Shera." Aeris grinned. "Hey everyone."
"OK, everyone back to work. I'm sure Aeris will do autographs afterwards." Shera laughed, sitting down.
Aeris sat beside her and smiled.
"How's it going, Shera?"
"It's wonderful. We've had so many people join up the music programme."
"I can see. This has got to be twice the size of my class." Aeris said, glancing around.
"I heard you singing on that television show the other day. That was a gorgeous song." Shera commented.
"It's a special one. I wrote it on my honeymoon." Shera dug around in a drawer and pulled out a copy of Aeris' album.
"I bought it this morning before work." she teased. Aeris laughed and glanced at the cover. It was a simple one of Aeris sat in a garden with her guitar. She was barefoot, dressed in jeans and summery top, her hair falling free. She was leaning with her arms folded on the guitar, looking straight at the camera with a slight smile on her face. Across the top of the album was Aeris' name and across the bottom, in a swirling elegant script was the title of the album 'My Final Fantasy'.
Aeris pulled a face and quickly put a piece of paper over her face on the album.
"She keeps staring at me!" Shera laughed and said,
She took a pen and wrote
You helped to get me where I am. I never would have come this far without you and it means so much to me that you believed I could make it.
Love Aeris Valentine
Shera sniffed and dabbed at her eyes.
"Oh, Aeris, don't! I'm incredibly hormonal!" Aeris hugged her old teacher quickly.
"Oh, it's fine. Come on, I can see you're wanted for autographs." Shera said, gesturing at the dozen or so students hopefully holding pieces of paper and pens.
Tifa and Cloud walked through the streets of Fort Condor, hand in hand through the warm sunshine. It had been two months since Aeris' return and she and Vincent had gone to Fort Condor to spend some quality time together.
"It's so nice here." Tifa commented. Cloud nodded and grinned at her,
"Do you think we should have told them that we were coming to visit?"
"Oh, they'll be OK. It's not like we've never randomly shown up on their doorstep before." Tifa said dismissively as they approached the door of the cottage and knocked.
A moment later the door swung open and Vincent glowered out. His face lit up.
"Thank god you're here!"
"What's happened?" Cloud asked worriedly.
"Who is it?" Aeris shouted, storming downstairs. She grinned and hugged them both tightly. "Tifa, Cloud! God, it's so good to see you!"
"What's going on?" Tifa asked warily.
Aeris and Vincent glared at each other.
"This fantastic 'artist' got paint on my guitar!" Aeris snarled.
"You left it under my canvas." Vincent replied angrily. Tifa and Cloud exchanged a glance as Aeris snapped,
"Well, you can clean it up, because I'm not going to!"
"Fine. But I'm not going to wash up those cups that are growing mould."
"They're your cups!"
"It's your guitar!" Vincent replied sharply.
"It's your paint!" Aeris shot back.
They glared at each other for a moment and then Aeris smiled at her bewildered friends.
"Tea? Coffee? If I'd known you were coming to see us I would have gotten some more food in."
"Did you get the train out?" Vincent asked as they went into the kitchen. Tifa nodded warily and Cloud said,
"Yuffie and Reeve say hi, by the way."
"Say hi to them for me." Aeris smiled. Vincent nodded. "And me."
"Can I just say hi from 'Aeris and Vincent' or does it have to be 'Aeris says hi' and 'Vincent says hi'?" Cloud grinned.
Aeris and Vincent glanced at each other and then turned away, with noises of irritation. Tifa sighed,
"How wonderful married life is." Aeris snorted and Vincent raised an eyebrow saying,
"It can be overrated at times."
"At which times?" Aeris asked dangerously and he narrowed his eyes.
"Times when your wife leaves her guitar under your canvas."
"If you were more careful with your paint, we wouldn't have this problem!"
"If you were more careful with your guitar, we wouldn't have this problem!" Vincent said crossly.
Aeris crossed her arms across her chest.
"Don't you dare talk to me about being careful!"
"And why shouldn't I?" Vincent said, picking up two mugs to pour coffee. Aeris narrowed her eyes.
"Because if you were more careful I wouldn't have a pregnancy test waiting upstairs!"
The stunned silence that followed this announcement was broken only by the shattering of the two mugs. Aeris watched Vincent closely for a reaction. He didn't seem particularly capable of giving one. He simply stared at her.
"Pregnancy test?" he managed to say after several moments. Aeris nodded nervously, chewing her nail.
"Have you…?" he asked and she shook her head.
"I don't know what the result is. These two arrived whilst I was waiting."
Tifa and Cloud looked at each other as Vincent stared at his wife.
"Why didn't you tell me?" he spluttered. She shrugged.
"I was upset about my guitar."
"Your gui…" he began and then shook his head, took Aeris' hand and dragged her out of the kitchen and upstairs.
Tifa and Cloud hesitated and then Tifa whispered,
"Do you think we can get out before they come back?"
"Go for it." Cloud hissed back. But they hadn't made it two steps before there came a scream from upstairs. Cloud looked at Tifa in horror.
"Good lord, he's killed her."
They rushed into the living room to find Aeris rushing downstairs, Vincent just behind her, waving the pregnancy test.
"Positive! It's positive!" Aeris screamed, hugging them both tightly. Tifa and Cloud grinned and hugged them both. And then they looked a tiny bit awkward as Vincent seized Aeris and kissed her passionately. For several minutes.
When they came up for air, Tifa laughed,
"Celebration! We've got to have a celebration!"
"Call Yuffie, Reeve and Barret!" Cloud said. Aeris shook her head.
"No, my parents! We've got to call my parents!"
She seized the phone as Cloud shook Vincent's hand, clapping him on the back.
"Way to go, Vincent!"
"I can't believe this." Vincent said, sinking onto the sofa. Tifa hugged him.
"You're gonna be a daddy!"
Aeris grinned as the Matthew answered the phone.
"Aeris, sweetie, this really isn't a good time." Matthew said, sounding stressed, "We've got some people here to discuss a vaccination we're working on and-"
"Dad, we're having a baby!"
Matthew was silent for a moment and said,
"You're going to be a granddad!"
"Oh my god… Infalna!" She heard him shout and her mother called back,
"Aeris is pregnant!"
"WHAT!" There was a scuffling sound and Infalna shrieked down the phone.
"You're having a what?"
"Mom, we're having a baby."
"Oh my god! Are you sure?"
"Yes, we're sure!"
Infalna began to shriek and cry and Aeris held the phone away from her ear in shock. After several minutes she managed to say,
"I can't believe it! Oh, Aeris!"
"I know. Here, talk to Vincent." She thrust the phone at her husband who looked horrified but began to talk politely to his mother-in-law. She sank onto the sofa and grinned at her friends.
"Boy or a girl?"
"Girl." Tifa said quickly. Cloud grinned.
"I'd say boy, but Tifa might hurt me. What do you want?"
"I don't know…" Aeris said happily. Vincent managed to get Infalna off the phone and sat down beside Aeris.
"You realise that in fifteen minutes everyone in Kalm is going to know?"
"Yup. And once we've told Reeve and Yuffie and Barret, most of Midgar as well." Aeris laughed, wrapping her arms around him.
Tifa and Cloud smiled and then Cloud said cautiously,
"So… what about the guitar?"
"He's still cleaning it." Aeris said. Vincent looked at her indignantly.
"I am not."
"Yes, you are!"
"No, I won't because it's your guitar and if you can't be bothered to take care of it properly-"
Cloud grinned at Tifa.
"Artists. Very temperamental."
Six Months Later
Cloud tapped his glass and everyone sat at the table looked towards him as he stood.
"OK, just got a few things to say."
"Gawd, I'm asleep already." Yuffie called out, earning a few laughs. Cloud gave her an unamused look and then grinned, looking around at everyone. And there were a lot of people to look at.
Reno, Elena, Tseng and Rude sat with Mike and Marlene. Beside them were Cloud's parents, Jenny and Daniel, who were sat with Matthew and Infalna. Beside them were Aeris and Vincent, Yuffie, Reeve, Tifa and Barret.
"OK, here's what I've got to say. We all know why we're here."
"I forgot." Yuffie said. Cloud looked at Reeve.
"Control your woman, Reeve. As I was saying. We're here because I finally got off my backside and asked Tifa to marry me and for some reason she said yes. So first of all, I want to make a toast to her. To Tifa!"
"To Tifa!" the words echoed around the table and Tifa blushed prettily, staring down at her lap with a shy smile on her face. Cloud smiled.
"I want to thank you all for being here for us today and celebrating with us. But most of all I want to thank Tifa. Because she's just condemned herself for life."
He bent down and kissed her. There was a round of applause and they began to eat. Yuffie leant over to touch Aeris' bump.
"That is so weird."
"Tell me about it. In three months a person is going to come shooting out of there." Aeris smiled. Vincent smiled and said,
"We found out what it was today."
Infalna gasped and clutched Vincent's arm.
"Oh my gosh, is it a girl? Or a boy?"
"Twins." Aeris said casually. Infalna blinked.
"It's twins. We decided that we don't want to know if it's a boy or girl. But we did find out that its twins."
"So two people are going to come shooting out of there? Ow. Wouldn't want to be you Aeris." Yuffie pulled a face and Aeris laughed.
"I'll manage. It's so exciting!"
Marlene leaned over the table and said,
"And once they're born you can write a song about labour!"
"I can see it now. And here's Aeris Valentine with her latest hit 'Oh my god, get it the hell out of me!'" Cloud grinned. They all laughed and Matthew said,
"I remember when you were born, Aeris. Midnight feeding, changing diapers, sleepless nights."
"Well, Vincent hardly sleeps at night anyway. He's usually up painting." Aeris pointed out. Tifa laughed.
"So you're sorted! Aeris takes day duty, Vincent does nights."
"I wish it was that easy." Aeris laughed.
When they got back to their cottage, Aeris pressed the button on answer phone machine. Three messages played. One from the studios, two about interviews. By this time it was quite late and she decided to answer them in the morning.
Vincent smiled as she collapsed onto the sofa.
"Exhausted. These two aren't helping." She patted her large bump and Vincent laughed, sitting down beside her.
"What sort do you want?" he asked, running his hand over the bump. Aeris smiled.
"One of each."
"You choose. I picked the girl name. You choose the boy."
Vincent considered, still stroking her swollen stomach.
"What about… Richard?"
"After your father."
"That's a lovely idea." Aeris smiled. Vincent returned the smile and kissed her. She yawned suddenly and grinned. Vincent rolled his eyes.
"Go to bed, Aeris. I'll lock up."
"Are you sure?"
As Aeris climbed into her nightclothes, she glanced at the photograph on the bedside table. It was same picture that Barret had had pinned to the board in the café. She examined it closely and then put it back, smiling. It had been an interesting few years.
One of the more important things was that Eric hadn't been in contact since the trial. Aeris sometimes wondered what had happened to him. But she decided she'd rather not know. As far as she was concerned, she had a father.
She lay down on the bed, pulling the covers over her, feeling sleep rushing to her. A few minutes later Vincent joined her in the bed. He wrapped his arms around her, burying his face in her hair.
"Goodnight." She whispered.
After a few minutes, she whispered,
"Did you ever think we'd end up like this?"
"Like what?" He murmured sleepily.
"You did?" Aeris asked.
"How did you know?"
"Because I married you. Now go to sleep." He said tiredly.
Aeris smiled and closed her eyes. But a moment later she sat up. Vincent groaned.
"What is it now?"
"I need to go to the bathroom." Aeris said. Vincent raised his eyebrows and she stuck her tongue out.
"It's not my fault. I've got two human beings sat on my bladder."
"And with that lovely mental image, I'm going to sleep." Vincent muttered, falling back into the pillows. When Aeris returned from the bathroom, he was still awake. She climbed into bed and looked at him.
"Nothing. I just can't sleep." He said and then looked at her accusingly. "This is your fault."
"Sorry." She said happily, lying down with her head on his chest. He put his arms around her and sighed contentedly.
Aeris closed her eyes, snuggling closer to her husband. How strangely things could turn out. What would have happened to her if she hadn't chased after Vincent that day to return his sketchbook? Or if they hadn't happened to be at the Art Gallery on the same day? How different would things have been?
She didn't know. And she didn't care. Things were perfect, she didn't need anything else. Vincent had fallen asleep and she lifted her head slightly to look at him with a smile before putting her head back down and letting sleep come.
I'll be there for you
When the rain starts to fall
I'll be there for you
Like I've been there before
I'll be there for you
Because you're there for me too
I know, you had to wait so long for this chapter! I've been putting off writing
it because I didn't want the story to end! Also, I haven't been able to log in for a couple of days.
I can't believe it's over. It's so sad, this is my longest story… and now of course, I have to say my thank yous to everyone who reviewed but an enormous hug to Masterwolf. You're the best, Wolfie. You guys all rock my world. You've been so supportive through the whole thing and you're just great. I'm really going to miss this story!
I'm going to stop now, purely because if I don't this chapter will NEVER get posted. As usual, since it's your last chance, leave a review on your way out.
Once more – thank you and goodbye.
Lotsa luv 'n' huggles