Do Not Weep


Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind.
Because the lover threw wild hands toward the sky
And the affrighted steed ran on alone,
Do not weep.
War is kind.
Do Not Weep, Maiden, for War is Kind, STEPHEN CRANE


(Because the Lover)

Brown hair, light eyes. Like me, so much like me. Your skills are nothing to what mine were at your age, but you are brighter than I was, because your brightness is real. Your grasp of this language is far better than mine. I learned from twenty year old children's cartoons and the few who would talk to a Wutaian girl. You learned... I don't think you really learned. You inhaled it.

There was not always you. There was not always the man you call Leon, or the girl we all call Aerith. Well, before this, there was Aerith and there was Cid and there was Cloud, but that wasn't all of them.

I think Reeve would have liked you; I know for certain that you would have intrigued Red XIII. You would have pulled the strings in Tifa's heart, and Barrett would have wanted to lock you up because you're just a kid, you're even younger than I was.

I miss them, you know. The world gives and takes away, and sometimes you call it karma and sometimes you call it shitty luck and sometimes you don't call it anything at all. I think somehow the world thought that Aerith would be an even trade for Tifa and Barrett and Shera and Reeve and Red and Vincent, and it was so. Fucking. Wrong. I miss them all, the way Squall misses Rinoa and Aerith misses her unity with the Planet.

She loves Cloud. She really does. Did you know that? She really does love Cloud. And Cloud loves her back, but when he finally got over her death, when he finally realized that she would have wanted him to LIVE, damnit, and not sit around and act like he was motherfucking dead...

The whole freakin' world stole it all away. Just when he'd finally started to realize what Tifa felt for him, just when he'd finally learned how to show her how he felt... The Heartless snatched her away. And in the height of his need for Tifa, when he was going insane without her, and he was slamming me up against a wall because I hadn't kept her safe like I'd promised and I was crying about the fact that he'd probably taken Vincent's cloak off Vincent's corpse and was wearing Vincent's claw...

Cid brought Aerith in, and Aerith couldn't make anything better. Aerith is an awesome person. We all love her. She was like a sister to me, and it felt so good to have her back, even with the ache of not knowing where anybody else was. But not even Aerith, whose death saved the Planet, could fix Cloud.

And it hurt. It hurt so much. I wished so desperately, when I saw their reunion (lower-case reunion, D-duck— no need to worry about the Evil S coming back with his mommy JENOVA to kill us all just one more time, for old time's sake), that I had Vincent or Reeve and I could just squeeze, squeeze, squeeze them 'til all their breath ran out and all my tears were dry.

Maybe not Reeve. Reeve would suffocate. But Vincent... I couldn't suffocate Vincent. I couldn't even throw the man in a Judo match where I had four unfair advantages.

I wished, so badly, that Vincent was there for me to hug and cry on and blubber over how much I missed everybody. Because only Vincent wouldn't care if I blubbered, because it wouldn't be very Vincenty to care. It's always been Vincent who let me drop the entire "Yuffie the Butterfly" thing.

Funny, how I'm trapped in a universe where "Yuffie the Butterfly" wants to sit in a corner and cry, and I'm trapped with the one man who would never under any circumstances let me stop being "Yuffie the Butterfly".

And Aerith. Aerith too, but seeing her sometimes makes me feel bitter inside. I get this metallic taste in the back of my mouth and throat. Like I bit the back of my tongue or the inside of my tonsils so hard I'm bleeding, bleeding, bleeding.


(Threw Wild Hands)

Stop staring at me.

That's what I want to say to you right now.

It's your turn to save the universe; I've done it before, and it cost me one of my first friends, and one of my best friends. So just stop staring at me and go save the universe like you think you have to.

But you stand there, staring at me. That ridiculous sword held loosely in your right hand— Gawd, your sword is dumber than Cloud's— like you don't care if you drop it, you stare at me.

Stop staring. Go home. Go save the universe. Let me talk to the voices in my head, the little personalities of theirs that I made up and crammed in a corner of my cranium. I might not be able to save the universe anymore, because that's your job, but I can probably hang you by your armpits from one of the thousand thousand high places around here. The trick is to surprise your enemy.

In ninjutsu, we call that 'capture the mind'. By making your enemy think you're there, and not being there, or by using smoke or strange attacks or bursting into maniacal laughter for no real reason.

Save the universe, I want to say. Because I'm old, now, compared to you and I'm tired and I hate you so much, because you have everybody you need, and I'm one of those people you need, and all I've got are a girl who should be dead and a chain-smoking maniac who misses his wife, with an angsty scarhead I don't really know.

The thing about this crisis is... everybody you meet? You're meetin' 'em in the worst times of their lives. Their worlds are gone, their families are scattered, their friends may or may not be alive.

There is no unique refugee. Your situation is no different from anybody else's. Ever.

I hate to admit that I'm in the same boat (ugh, I hate boats!) as the people who wander around Traverse Town with their souls in their eyes, completely hopeless. I hate admitting that I am anything like them. They're weak. They refuse to move on.

But I am. My situation is no different. Sure, I've found a few of my friends. Sure, I'm strong enough to survive without anybody having to come rescue me. But I'm still refusing to move on.

I feel like Vincent. I know that AVALANCHE is probably dead, and definitely scattered, almost certainly never coming back. But I just can't let go. I can't move on. I swear I hear Tifa's laugh sometimes, even though I know she's not there and even if she were there she wouldn't be laughing. And every time I see anything with a goatee, I'll think, OHMYGAWD IT'S REEVE, but it never is, because Reeve is wherever everybody else is. When I hear gunfire, I think of Vincent. When I see dark-skinned people, I think of Barrett.

I came this close to confusing Cloud with Vincent, when I first saw him. But he wasn't tall enough, and I nearly cried. I just hung onto the cloak and I cried like a little baby.

You're still staring at me.

GO AWAY.

I DON'T WANT TO BE NEAR YOU RIGHT NOW BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE PEOPLE YOU NEED AND YOU'RE GOING TO SAVE THE WORLD AND YOU HAVE EVERYTHING I DON'T AND I'LL NEVER BE ABLE TO FORGET YOU THE WAY I'M FORGETTING HOW TIFA SMILED AND I'M NOT SURE WHAT COLOUR REEVE'S EYES ARE. WERE. WHATEVER.

Go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away.

I want to bust out laughing, because I'm not the person who says go away. That's Squall, and Squall is a great big dickhead, I swear he defines the term great big dickhead. I bet if you looked in the dictionary, his picture would be on the side and underneath his picture it would say "SQUALL LEONHART: BIGGEST DICKHEAD IN THE HISTORY OF EVER", and if you looked at "Biggest Dickhead in the History of Ever", it'd have his name there.

Go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away go away.

Why are you still staring at me? What do you want from me? What haven't I given you? Why won't you just shut your piehole and GO THE FUCK AWAY! Why! What did I ever do to you, huh! Is my karma that freaking bad, because if it is, then I'm sorry for every smartass comment I ever made and everything I ever stole and the time I 'borrowed' Vinnie's clothes when he fell asleep in the sun at that beach at Costa Del Sol.

Oh good. You finally got bored and went away.


(The Affrighted Steed)

This probably sounds totally crazy, but one of the totally stupid things I miss is...

Chocobos.

Don't know what a Chocobo is? No surprise here.

Never mind. I'm not going to bother explaining.


(Run On Alone)

I am never alone. I am always with Aerith or Leon or Cid or Cloud or Belle or the Beast (and oh LEVIATHAN, Beast makes me cry because I look at him and I think of Galian, and I don't think you could ever imagine how much that hurts).

I don't run anymore. I backflip and I cartwheel and I roll. I somersault and quadruple flip and twist and contort my body in the air, but I don't run.

Leon runs. He charges at you like he's some sort of lion and you're dinner. The fact that he was carrying a lion around in a rock doesn't surprise me at all, because that man is like a lion.

He's all pride and beauty, gorgeous tan skin and compelling eyes and presence, he's got loads and loads of presence, the same way Vincent had (oh Leviathan). He's got "ponce" and "dangerous" and "silky" and "stubble" down pat. He rolls Biker and Pretty Boy and Purr and Feel Like A Failure into one gorgeous sexy package.

The same way Vincent rolled Dracula and Gorgeous and Murmur and Anguish into one. The way Leon makes permanent 5 o'clock shadow look sexy... Vincent made thirty years of bed hair work.

I think you understand why I hang out with Leon so much. We're so similar, and he's so like Vincent and yet so different. Not only that, but hanging out with Leon is about as close to being alone as I can get.

"Yo, Leon," I say to him when he's in Lean Mode.

Total silence.

"Yo, Leon," I say to him when he's in Fight Mode.

Total silence.

"Yo, Leon," I say to an empty corner.

If I'm lucky, total silence. If I'm unlucky, which I usually am, the corner gets full real quick, and it gets full of Angel Wings (note that Leon never once said that Rinoa wasn't possessive and territorial and insane, because she apparently is, and she's insane because she has more to fear from Aerith than from me).

Anyway, yeah. I'm thinking I might as well be alone. I think I'd rather be alone, actually. Because frankly, being alone would probably be a lot more interesting, seeing as I'd at least be in greater physical danger.

There's another reason I might as well be alone when I'm with Leon. When I'm with Leon, Aerith tries her very best to Not Be There. And no, it's not because she's a match maker.

It's because I'm a match maker, and the match was made ages and ages ago, something like eight years, and they tend to avoid each other when they aren't sharing the Green Room in the hotel.

Much as Leon and Aerith love each other— despite her light hair and eyes, that creamy skin and loving nature and doll-like complexion reminds him of his Angel— Aerith can't stand to be around him for very long. Especially when he's around me, because we're so much alike, and he's so much like Vincent, and I've grown to be like Vincent.

In other words, we sit (or stand) and salt each other's wounds. We explore each other's pain, mapping it out like it's a forest or a house. I ask him all about the world he failed, I ask him all about the appearance of the Heartless. I ask him how his Angel got turned into a bunch of winged lightbulbs and he tells me.

He tells me everything, he puts his head in my lap, and makes that sound that is something like a cross between a sob and a lion's roar and a moan and he tells me.

He tells me about Zell, who was all porcelain skin and electric blue eyes and a black tat onna face (and here I'm all like "WHOAH THAT IS SO COOL LIKE WHOAH") and wild spiky hair like Cloud and was just a total bundle of energy and used his fists like Tifa, like me, and was so strong but who had a body like a little twig.

And he tells me of how much he owed Zell, how Zell was his best friend, his only real friend. He tells me about the time Irvine fired one of Zell's grandfather's guns, and how Zell totally freaked and Squall could only stand there and laugh, and then they were all laughing at each other, and then they went downstairs and beat the shit out of two people Zell had always hated.

And he asks me about Vincent, and he explores the weird dynamic between Reeve, Vincent and I. He explores how Cait Sith and I used to drive Vincent crazy, how once Cait Sith got me so totally drunk and I stripped and sang Cell Block Tango, and I did it well, which shocked the hell out of Vincent. Not just the fact that I was naked in his lap, but that I could sing when I was drunk, but at no other time.

I tell him everything he wants to know. I tell him how the first time I ever kissed Vincent was in the beginning of the Heartless thing, because I was afraid and he was afraid and we were both trying to be strong and Cid had (damn him to hell and bless him at the same fucking time) given me way WAY too much to drink earlier and when I'm drunk I get really ridiculously flirty (Squall would NEVER HAVE GUESSED, what with knowing about my little strip show thing, heh-heh-heh) and it just sort of happened. And how after that, we just couldn't seem to keep our hands off each other when we weren't fighting for our lives.

Yeah, sometimes I'd rather be alone than be with Leon, but it's like I'm addicted to pain . His pain or my pain, it doesn't matter, I have to poke it and prod it and roll it around in my mouth until I taste my own blood. I have to map it out like a house. With some sort of morbid curiosity, I DEMAND to know all the little psychoses that make our friend Leon, and I try to evaluate my case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and I try and tell myself that no, I'm not a basket case (lie) I'm just hurting (lie).

It's addicting, like too much candy, or Cid and his stash of kumiz from Agrabah and the cigarettes Shera finally got him to quit smoking.

Sometimes I wish I could iron out the wrinkles in my own brain, so my stupid orange shoes would lift the way I wanted them to. So my thighs wouldn't burn whenever I think of breaking into a run. So I can make noise when I walk, so I can stop being the most visible ninja you've ever seen and start being better at being... Myself.


(Do Not Weep)

I miss him. I am very much Not Going To Cry.

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA IT HURTS HA HA HA HA HA HA. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA IT HURTS HA HA HA. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA IT HURTS HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA IT HURTS HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA IT HURTS HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA IT HURTS. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA IT HURTS HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.

OH GOD IT HURTS.


(Kind)

Aerith. That is all I want to think about, and all I don't want to think about. She's alive, she's supposed to be dead, she's so fucking sweet, all the time. I can't seem to get over how gorgeous and loving she is.

Being near Aerith makes me miss Tifa even more. It's not that Aerith doesn't have a spine, it's that Tifa was just...

More my type of person. They're both entirely too matronly and kind, yes, I know that. They're both too trusting and gullible, but Aerith had secrets. Aerith was dangerous for me.

Tifa was more straightforward. She was the more gullible of the two, I think, even while being more strong-willed. She was stronger. She survived what Aerith didn't, and she never smiled that STUPID FUCKING SECRET SMILE, and she didn't leave me when I was sixteen years old and totally unable to cope with that.

Sure, Aerith came back and Tifa's nowhere to be seen, but you know what? Aerith sat around in the stupid fucking Lifestream and didn't do a goddamn thing, while Tifa fought on. Aerith murmured yatta and sank into death.

Tifa shouted "GANBATTE!" and did it. She kept on fighting. She kept going, pushing herself and Everybody's Favourite Spiky Headed Kupo Nut, straining and STRAINING to bring him back to sanity.

And she won. In the end, Tifa did what even Aerith can't fix today. Sure, Tifa's death sent Cloud plunging straight back into Crazyland but at least he was SANE FOR A LITTLE WHILE.

I miss Tifa. I miss her kindness, I miss her fried chicken, I miss her laughter, I miss her smile, I miss the way she'd kick Vincent's ass if he didn't show up to dinner, I miss the way she and Barrett got along, I miss the way she used to tell me "No alcohol until you can prove that you're eighteen" and I would say, "Dude, tell that to Cait Sith" and she would look over at Cait Sith and Vincent would nod once and she would bust out laughing and say, "There's no point in it, is there? Fine. Mix what you want, but don't use anything too strong." And then she'd ruffle my hair and I'd yelp and mix myself whatever the hell I felt like.

And I used what I wanted, too.

I guess in the end, Aerith is like cake, and Tifa was more like chocolate. If you had to pick, which would you take?

I could ask myself that same question five minutes from now, and the answer won't be the same.