Epilogue: The Future Belongs to Us
In a slightly isolated corner of Midgar's Sector Five, three buildings stand. What was once a bed and breakfast is now a boarding house, run by the wife of a talented gunman.
In the front yard of their house, several tulips continue to bloom. The only other place where flowers bloom is inside a dilapidated old church down the street. The one who planted these flowers is long gone from this place, but her flowers are a constant reminder of her brief existence in the lives of many people.
No hobos or drug addicts dwell there anymore, as they were cleared out several months ago by a swordsman who is also no longer around. Instead, the local children like to stop by and play quietly.
Often, certain people stop by to remember their missing friends and enjoy the odd beauty coming from a patch of flowers growing in the middle of an abandoned building.
In the six months since the alliance between Shinra and Avalanche achieved its goal, many changes had occurred…
"I just can't believe it," Biggs said, shaking his head in disbelief.
"I wouldn't have to commute to work this way," Jessie reminded him, "Besides- I think it'll be fun to have my own place,"
"Is he gonna be coming over a lot?" Biggs asked.
"He's not that bad a guy," Jessie told her cousin, "If you wanna stop by, go ahead,"
"Jessie…" Biggs said worriedly, "He did create that big setup that killed his old man. He practically killed his own father!"
"And Vincent killed Professor Hojo," Jessie pointed out, "Did that stop Mrs. G- I mean, Mrs. V from marrying him?"
"You're already thinking about marrying Rufus?!" Biggs was incredulous.
"Hey, now, I never said that! Don't jump the gun! I'm still not even twenty for another three weeks yet!"
"But you're moving into the Shinra apartments," Biggs reminded her, "One elevator ride will take you to his place,"
Jessie smiled. "I know,"
"You're not making me feel any better, you know," Biggs sighed.
"Once you get to know him, you'll understand,"
Biggs looked at the girl helplessly. "I barely understand you sometimes. But whatever. I guess if things don't work out, you can always crash with us until you find a new place,"
"You're the best big cousin a girl could ask for," Jessie said as she gave him a hug, "I'll miss joking around with you and Wedge at the dinner table over canned spaghetti and take-out food,"
"So do the Shinra apartments have dining services there, or are you actually going to learn to cook?"
Jessie waved her hand dismissively. "Ah, cooking is over-rated,"
The sound of a horn honking could be heard from outside.
"Well, that's my cab," Jessie announced as she grabbed her suitcases. "I'd better get outta here,"
"Just be happy, kiddo," Biggs told her.
Jessie's eyes twinkled. "Somehow, I don't think that'll be very hard to do,"
She left, using her foot to close the door behind her.
Zack sat at a computer in the Sector Four library, typing an email.
Dear Mom and Dad, he wrote, I hope that computer I sent you is serving you well. President Rufus' girlfriend picked it out herself, so I'm sure it's amazing. Now that there's internet available back home, I hope we'll be able to keep in touch easier.
I saw Cloud and his sweetheart a couple weeks ago. Cloud's doing real well considering what he's gone through. But then, like a friend once told me, he's got Tifa by his side, so I'm sure he can take on anyone and anything.
As for me, no girls on my radar just yet. But never say never:D
I hope you two are doing well. I'll do my best to stop by in time for the holidays. Your son, Zack.
Just as he sent the email, he felt his PHS vibrating. He opened it up and read the text message from Reno.
PARTY SECT0R 2!!!!! Ur free 2nite, rite?
Zack chuckled quietly as he stood up and left the library.
"Sir, what the hell is this?!"
Rufus turned around to see one of his financial advisors standing in the middle of his office, barely controlling his temper as he clutched a piece of paper in his hand.
"We're already in the hole from tearing down every last mako reactor on the Planet," the man went on, "Then you fired Heidegger, Scarlet and Palmer, whom we needed the most, blacklisted one of our best Turks, and then hired your teenaged mistress as assistant head of software development, and now you're spending your own money furnishing her own apartment?!"
"Yes," Rufus told him, "My own money. So don't worry about it. Not like I'm embezzling company money to take her out on joyrides. Besides, she's been an incredible help these past few months,"
"Forgive me if I find this behavior to clash severely with your other romantic interests before. As I recall, you threw your last mistress out of headquarters after exactly two nights,"
"Forgive me if I find that to be none of your business," Rufus told him pointedly, "Besides- I'd hardly call those elaborate blind-dates set up by the old man 'romantic',"
"I still don't think that girl is ready to have such an important position in the company!"
"She's a prodigy. Just like I was. Should I be removed as president of this company? If age is a problem, then perhaps you'd like to run this show? You're what? Thirty years older than me? According to your logic, that makes you the perfect candidate. Hey- here I am- completely vulnerable! Go on- you can assassinate me right now!"
"Sir!" the man was horrified.
"Stupid thought, right? Good. Now unless we have any other financial crises, I thought I might take off for the day so I can help my girlfriend move into her new apartment. And you're kind of in my way,"
His financial advisor reluctantly stepped out of Rufus' path, and then followed the young president out of his office.
Tifa sat on the bench in the hallway outside Cloud's door. She knew he'd gone to the cemetery and was due back any minute now.
Cloud had secured a job as a cashier at the local item store. In the meantime, he had rented a room in the newly-renovated Shinra mansion, which was now a five-family apartment building. He had been able to afford a year's worth of rent thanks to the severance pay and bonus he'd gotten from Rufus upon his discharge from the army. Rufus had also set him up with the best doctor he could find to provide him with a high-quality prosthetic leg.
Cloud's old house, along with several others, had been destroyed in the large fire that consumed half the town. His mother was one of the many people who hadn't survived.
The town had begun almost instantly to try and rebuild itself, with donations from both Shinra and Avalanche. People around the world commended the townspeople for their resilience.
Tifa's father had become somewhat of a heroic figure, having taken up the task of leading the people through such a hard time. It was something she admired him for, even though he disapproved of her seeing Cloud. Still, his duties had kept him at work and away from Tifa for most of the time, leaving the young martial artist free to spend most of her time after school at the item store, free from her father's critical eye.
Cloud seemed to be adjusting to all the changes that had occurred in his life. Things had been rough, but Tifa hoped that their new closeness was a good change that could help balance out all the bad ones.
She smiled as she could hear the front door to the mansion opening, and Cloud's uneven footsteps coming up the stairs a few seconds later.
Everything's gonna be just fine, she thought as her smile grew bigger.
The sunsets in Mideel were something Medea never tired of. Standing on the back porch of the house she and Reidmar had bought months ago, she placed a hand on her swollen belly, smiling as she felt a tiny flutter.
"Aren't you going to come inside, sweetcakes?" Reidmar called from the living room, "Got a piece of pie here with your names on it!"
She felt another flutter.
"He said the magic word, did he?" Medea chuckled at her stomach, "Ah well- I suppose we should go have dessert,"
She turned and walked back inside, absently scratching at one of the two grey wings that now protruded from her back.
Starting over again has never been so wonderful…
In an isolated corner of one of Beud A'evori's largest cities lay a huge cemetery. On top of a hill stood one lone grave marker. A lone silhouetted figure flexed its one black wing, looking around before his turquoise eyes came to rest on the grave.
Sephiroth cleared his throat and began to speak:
"This wasn't easy for me," he said to the tombstone, "It's taken me over six months to finally come out here and see you. The professor told me I should. I suppose he's right…as usual,"
He took a deep breath and continued to talk.
"Given the circumstances of your death, it's not like I had much of a chance to say anything to you, nor was I in the right place at the time. But regardless…you did have an important role in my life, and I think you realized that on some level.
"Yet…you're marked here in the corner of some random cemetery. Given all that you did when you were alive, you probably deserve a whole crypt. Maybe someday when people realize that, they'll finally pay proper tribute.
"I'll never forget you as long as I live, even if the memories are still somewhat painful. But in any case, at least I think I'm finally beginning to heal now…"
A hand gently touched Sephiroth's shoulder. Startled, he spun around to see Aeris standing behind him.
"What are you doing on your feet?" he demanded.
Before the girl could answer, he scooped her up into his arms and carried her down the small hill to where a wheelchair sat, abandoned.
"You're only allowed to walk for one hour a day until the doctor says otherwise," Sephiroth reminded Aeris as he placed her back in the chair. "Am I going to have to strap you to that thing?"
Aeris pouted. "I was just trying to help. I know how hard it was for you to go see Jenova after all she's done,"
Sephiroth sighed as he reached over and smoothed Aeris' hair back. The teenager smiled, still a little shy about the new level of intimacy they'd begun to share since she'd come out of her coma three months ago.
An arm around the shoulder, a quick kiss, long embraces…Sephiroth hadn't gone any further than that. Mostly it was because of her still-fragile health(she still hadn't been permanently released from the hospital, and was expected back there in half-an-hour), the other reason being a lingering unease about the age difference. This was compounded by the fact that her parents were still having trouble reconciling the fact that to them, their little girl had aged ten years in two months. As it was, Sephiroth was now living in a small apartment of his own, knowing that the family dynamics had changed drastically.
"Resara Delrayo was a completely different person than Jenova," Sephiroth told her, "I used to feel nothing but hatred toward her, but now, I can only pity her,"
Aeris nodded. The two stayed there for a moment, looking up at the pioneer's grave.
"Do you think we could try to come back to the Planet someday?"
"I'd like that. I did tell Vincent I'd be back,"
"There's a lot of people we didn't even get to say goodbye to,"
"But…in the meantime…this place is nice. I really do feel free here. Free to be who I really am. No one thinks I'm crazy anymore when they catch me listening to this planet,"
Sephiroth flexed his wing once more. "I feel the same way,"
"I've always felt safe with my 'big brother', but now I feel completely at peace,"
The girl looked expectantly at Sephiroth.
He regarded her sternly. "Don't ever call me 'big brother' again,"
Aeris laughed as she took his hand in hers. "I suppose I shouldn't,"