Disclaimer:

I do not own nor claim to own any aspect of Final Fantasy VII including the plot, characters, music or anything else applicable. All rights belong to Square Enix. I do, however, own the idea for this story. All rights for that goes to me. There will be no other disclaimers for this story so please refer to this chapter in the future. Thank you.

Author's Note:

Update October 4th, 2012

As of this date, the edit on this fic has been completed. Thank you to everyone that continues to support me. I'll always be appreciative.


The Ghost and the Darkness

By: Jenna Duffy


Chapter 1

Gray and Green


(Tifa)

Gray. And a little green. A bright, neon green mixed with gray. The only two colors I've ever known. I've always wondered if there are any other colors that exist besides the green mixed with gray.

Impossible, I thought to myself. If there were other colors besides green and gray then why can I not see them?

I've always hated the green. It's my reminder that I'm stuck here in this unparalleled universe with nothing but a horizon of green with specs of gray as far as the eye can see.

But, the green is also my life force. It keeps me alive. It flows gently around me, soothing me with its cool, yet warm caress.

I begin to wonder what my life was like before the green mixed with gray. Did I have a life? If so, who was I and what was my name? Where did I live? Who were my friends and family?

Ding.

An unfamiliar sound suddenly floats through the green, causing me to frown. The sound of rushing water immediately follows and the sensation of the green rushing past my body makes me panic. I feebly try to lift my arms to claw at the retreating warmth, but find myself being pulled forward. I stretch my arms out in a futile attempt to catch myself, but my body is so weak that I crumple to the floor in a heap.

The green that I had become so accustomed to transformed into a blinding white. Small dots of fluorescent color danced before my vision, making me dizzy. Staring at the light for too long made my eyes burn so I resorted to closing them, finding comfort in the black abyss.

I opened my eyes again after what seemed like an eternity later and I was surprised to find that I could make out some distinct objects in the room around me. I dared to move my limbs and succeeded in propping myself up on my elbows. My head swam and it felt like I might pass out, but I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, waiting for the dizziness in my head to subside.

After a few moments, I was able to sit up all the way with no more dizzying effects. I squinted my eyes, trying to make out the shapes around me. I closed my eyes and rubbed them, hoping that it would help. I looked back up and was pleased to find that I could see clearly.

I peered around the room for a few moments before my eyes settled on an examination table that had a pile of what looked like clothing on top of it. In anticipation of getting into warm, dry clothes I placed my hands firmly on the ground and pushed myself up, but slipped, hitting the hard ground.

I stared down and lifted my hands up, finding the same neon green liquid on my palms that had once surrounded me and kept me alive. I wiped them off on the stained green hospital gown that I wore and tried to stand up once again.

I pushed myself up onto my knees then slowly but steadily planted both my feet on the floor and rose hesitantly. I slid one of my feet forward then the next, testing how well I could stand on my feet before walking forward.

I stopped in front of the examination table and looked at the clothing that was on the surface. There was a white tank top, blue jeans, a black zip up sweater and clean undergarments.

I gathered them up into my arms and looked around for a place I could clean all the green liquid from my body. I spotted a door in the back of the room and opened it, finding a shower, sink and toilet within.

I frowned, wondering if this room had been placed here specifically for me.

I stepped toward the sink carefully and was immediately disappointed to see no mirror hanging above it.

If I could see what I look like then maybe I could remember what happened in my past, I thought, my shoulders slumping.

I set my new clothes down on the floor and pulled the sticky gown off of me before stepping into the shower and turning it on. At first the water was cold, but quickly warmed up, making me sigh in relief. There was nothing but a rag and bar of soap on the small shelf for me to use, but it was better than nothing.

I began to feverishly scrub my body to get rid of the sticky green fluid that had once kept me alive. Once I thought I was clean, I began to run my fingers through my tangled hair. When I was done, I turned the shower off and stepped out, looking around for something to dry off with. I looked in the cupboard under the sink and smiled when I found a single white towel. I grabbed it and wrapped it around my body, wiping all the water away as the cool air in the room chilled my heated skin.

After I was dry, I placed the towel down on the toilet seat and began to dress, enjoying the feeling of the soft cotton opposed to the starchy fabric of the hospital gown. I dried my hair as best as I could before leaving the bathroom, standing in the doorway and taking in my surroundings for the first time since waking up.

The floor was plain white tile, the walls and ceiling white stucco. I stared at the green puddle of liquid that was still on the floor, my eyes following the trail of liquid before landed on the glass tube that I had been suspended in for who knows how long. I carefully stepped over the puddle of liquid and ventured into another area of the room, narrowing my eyes as I heard a low crackling sound like someone was wading up a piece of paper. I frowned and tried to find the origin of the strange sound.

I walked past a filing cabinet then spotted a small television sitting on a counter with a VCR next to it.

I walked toward it and flipped open the video cover, seeing that a tape was inside. I pulled over a chair from an empty desk and sat in front of the television then pressed the play button, a feeling of anticipation crawling across my skin. I stared intently at the screen as it turned blue then quickly switched to the face of a middle aged man. My eyebrows pinched together. That face was so familiar, but I couldn't remember how I knew him.

"Hello, Tifa," the man said, smiling widely. "You must be confused about what you're doing here so I'll get busy explaining. A few years after the Meteor and Sephiroth incident, you contracted a fatal disease and almost died. Luckily, you were placed in suspended animation while mako, the only cure, worked to rid you of the disease. The only bad thing about this process is that it is very slow working and you would be asleep for a very, very long time. By the time you get this, myself and everyone else from Avalanche will have long passed away. Well, maybe besides Nanaki. When you are able, try to get transportation to Cosmo Canyon. I know he will be very happy to see you. You'll be the only two left. Before I go, I want to let you know how much everyone misses you. This strange new disease picked the wrong person to attack. I hope you are doing well and that you can adjust to the changes you are bound to encounter. Good bye, Tifa. Take care of yourself."

The video cut out and the white static continued once again for many long moments before I reached forward and shut the television off.

"Tifa." I repeated the name over and over again. "Tifa Lockhart."

I looked back up at the black screen. The man in the video was Reeve, the operator of the fortuneteller, Cait Sith. Then, like a wave, the memories of my days in Avalanche came flooding back to me. Memories of my closest friend's faces flashed in my mind's eye. Barrett, Red XIII, Aeris, Yuffie, Cid, Cloud…and someone else. A tall man with black hair and red eyes.

I frowned as I dug into my memory. This ma with the red cape and gold gauntlet on his left hand was a stranger to me. The feeling that there was something special about him bugged me like an itch I couldn't scratch. I knew that we had been close before I had been placed in stasis, but I just couldn't remember. It was frustrating that I couldn't remember what felt like had been a very important part of my life.

I spent nearly half an hour looking for some shoes or something that I could wear on my feet. I didn't know what the world outside this room looked like so I wanted to make sure I was properly prepared. I was about ready to give up when I noticed there were drawers on the sides of the examination table that my clothes had been lying on top of. I began opening the drawers and sorting through them before I finally found a pair of brown boots that eerily resembled my old ones and a pair of socks.

Obviously, someone had expecting me to come back to consciousness eventually.

I quickly laced up the boots and walked toward the stark white door that would, hopefully, lead me to the outside world so I could travel to Cosmo Canyon like Reeve said I should. I had no clue how many years had gone by so my best bet was getting out of this room and finding civilization.

I opened the door and peered out, finding the corridor completely black. I stuck my head out of the doorway and looked both ways before stepping out. I was getting ready to close the door behind me when small circular lights started flickering to life to my right.

Yeah, someone had definitely been waiting for me to wake up. But the question was who?

I followed the small lights left and right down the long hallways before coming to a set of large doors. Light was spilling through them, making a wide smile stretch across my face. I ran toward them and burst through into the outside world, breathing in fresh air for the first time in a long time.

I looked around for a few moments and realized that I was in the ruins of Midgar. The wreckage was covered in a thick layer of overgrowth, signaling that more than a few decades had passed, and I began to despair. What if so much time had passed that even Red XIII was gone? Who would I turn to then? I fisted my hands in the fabric of my sweater and took in a deep, calming breath. Knowing that Reeve had isolated me from the rest of the world so no one could bother me while the mako cured me made a sense of peace fall over me.

I sighed and glanced around with unease, wondering exactly how I was going to get out of this place. Midgar had probably changed drastically when Meteor destroyed it and time was also a factor to consider. After a moment of regaining my bearings, I took a deep breath and trekked down to the lower plate to see if I could find a route through one of the slums to find an exit door. It took a couple of hours, but I finally managed to find one and left Midgar.

I stopped once I reached the grassy portion of the plains so I could rest for a moment and try to find which way Kalm was located. I plopped down into the grass and scanned the horizon, spotting Kalm right where I remember it being, along the shoreline. I decided to sit and rest for a few more minutes before getting up and starting my journey to Kalm.

When I escaped from Midgar, by the position of the sun it looked to be about mid-afternoon, but by the time I arrived in Kalm the sun had already begun to creep behind the mountains. As I entered the town, my eyes widened at how much it had changed. Big, beautiful houses filled the streets and expensive looking cars raced down wide paved roads. The well that had been in the middle of town was now a very large fountain. The quaint seaside town from my memory was no more.

"Do you need help, miss?"

I jumped when a voice suddenly appeared next to me and looked over with wide eyes. "Excuse me?" I asked, not really hearing what he had said.

The young man smiled. "Do you need some help?" he repeated.

"Oh, can you show me where the inn is?" I asked, chuckling nervously. "I'm a little lost."

He nodded. "It's right over there," he said, pointing to a large hotel that resembled the one I remembered only slightly.

I thanked him, mentally kicking myself for not paying better attention, and opened the door, stepping inside the hotel. I glanced around the lobby as I went toward the front desk. Of course, this place wasn't the original inn, but the atmosphere reminded me of it a lot.

A young woman looking to still be in her teens looked up at me and smiled. When her eyes met mine a frown graced her eyebrows, but only lingered there for a few seconds before she cleared her throat and shook her head as if to get rid of whatever she was thinking about. "How may I help you?" she asked, the smile returning to her face.

"I just wanted to know if I could get transportation to Cosmo Canyon?" I asked hopefully, stuffing my hands in the pockets of my sweater.

"Oh, of course!" she said happily, pulling a piece of paper out from under the desk. "I'll just need your name."

I bit my lip, kind of nervous about telling her who I was. I still had no clue how long it had been since the Meteor incident, but I was pretty sure that people still may know about me and I didn't want to draw unwanted attention to myself. The girl glanced up at me expectantly, her pen poised above the paper ready to write my name down, and I sighed heavily, not having another alternative. "Tifa Lockhart."

She started writing my name down in her curvy script, but after only taking down two letters of my first name she snapped her head up, staring at me with wide eyes. "I knew I've seen you somewhere before!" she exclaimed, jumping back and pointing her index finger at me. "I've been learning about you in my history class! But you were lived over three hundred years ago! How are you still alive?!"

I gaped at her, staggering backwards like she had reached across the counter and struck me. Three hundred years… Reeve's estimation had been a severe understatement. I was in a world full of strangers and the only other one of my team members that I knew for sure was alive was Red XIII.

I shook my head, shaking myself out of my stupor. "It's a long story."

She nodded vigorously. "I've always wanted to meet you! All the history books said you died after Cloud so you have no idea how excited I am!"

My eyebrows furrowed. My last memory of Cloud before I went into suspended animation was nothing big. I saw him a week before and he had no clue that I was sick or that I would be kept alive in a tube of mako for who knows how long. I had confused that he hadn't shown up like everyone else did to tell me goodbye, but we didn't have the time to wait on him. I only hoped that he had found someone that filled the empty spot in his soul I never could.

I shook those thoughts from my head and stuffed my hands into my pockets once again. "I don't have any gil." I wanted to get off the subject we were on because it would just bring back memories that I didn't care to relive at the moment.

"Oh, that's alright," she replied, reaching inside a drawer and producing a key. "You can stay here tonight for free. There's a café upstairs. Guests eat there for free. When you get hungry you can show the hostess your key and she'll seat you."

She handed me the key and I smiled at her. "Thanks."

"No problem, Miss Lockhart."

"Please, just call me Tifa."

She smiled and nodded before I turned to go up the stairs. I found my room and entered, tossing my key down on the dresser and collapsed onto the bed, sighing heavily. My walk to town had exhausted me and all I wanted to do was fall asleep, but I knew that sooner or later I'd have to eat something.

I groaned as I lifted myself off of the bed, collected my key and walked out, trudging down the hallway. I was really sure where I was going so when I came to a pair of open double doors with two large ferns stationed on either side I couldn't help the sigh of relief that pushed past my lips. I walked through the doors and approached a small podium that was stationed off to the side.

An older woman was standing behind it and smiled when she saw me. "Good evening!" she greeted, cheerfully.

I kept my eyes on her for a moment longer before digging my key out of my pocket and showing it to her. "Oh, wonderful," she said, glancing down at a seating chart before meeting my eyes once again. "Please follow me."

I nodded and fell in step behind her, trailing her through the restaurant until she stopped in front of a two-person booth. I sat and looked up at her expectantly. "If you need anything just flag down one of the waitresses. I hope you enjoy your meal."

"Thank you," I said, returning her smile as best as I could.

I watched her walk away before getting up and making my way over to the buffet. I enjoyed a wonderful dinner, forgetting only momentarily the kind of situation I was in, then returned to my room, extremely exhausted. After returning, I stopped next to the dresser and took my room key out of my pocket, placing it on top. That prompted me to look down at my clothes, realizing that these were the only ones I owned now.

Maybe Red XIII might be able to lend me some gil so I can buy more, I thought, a sense of hopefulness making the corners of my lips turn up.

I sighed heavily then stripped down to my undergarments before climbing under the cool sheets, nuzzling my head into the pillow. I stared up at the lamp on my bed side table for a few moments before reaching up and turning it off. After tucking the blankets tighter around my body and praying that all of this was just some sort of crazy dream and it really wasn't three hundred years into the future, I fell into a light, restless sleep.