Chapter 1: Invisible
Disclaimer: Square Enix owns Final Fantasy VII
It's been 16 minutes and 42 seconds since class ended, 16 minutes 45 seconds since then I've been watching you… Like I always do from the distance. I know every detail of your perfect face by now; the way your hair catches the rays of the setting sun and shimmers like finely spun gold, the deep azure blue of your eyes that remind me of the deepest oceans, all the way to that cute freckle against the left side of your finely chiseled nose.
I wish you could see me, notice me just ONCE, but whenever I look into your eyes, I see the warmth in your gaze. Always… always… directed towards HER, Tifa Lockhart, star student, president of the student council, the most popular girl in Midgar High, also… My best friend. My sole purpose to exist on the world seems to be only for her, I am after all… Compared to her… Nothing more then her shadow.
Aeris laid down her pen, closed her diary slowly and sighed; stealing a quick glance at the boy she loved so much but didn't know she existed, feeling that familiar ache that echoed in the depths of her chest. She spied the time on the class clock and frowned slightly. Here we go again… "Tifa! Don't you have to get going to the Student Council meeting?" A pretty girl with chestnut locks and lovely golden brown almond shaped eyes checked her watch on her slim wrist and frowned slightly. "Aww… Darn! I totally forgot! Plus I wanted to go shopping with you too… No choice I guess… See you tomorrow then?" Aeris smiled fondly and gave Tifa a small wave back as she watched her friend giving an apologetic wave before rushing towards the classroom door.
"Student Council meeting?"
Tifa stopped short and smiled shyly, blushing a pretty peach colour and started twirling a lock of dark brown hair nervously with her fingers, her amber eyes lighting up instantly at a certain blonde boy's attention. "Well… Don't make plans to overwork the student body now." He said a light blush tinting his tanned cheeks.
Tifa pouted at this and retorted indignantly. "I do NOT! The Student Council is about freedom of speech! It's the voice of the student body." "Hmm… Isn't that what they always say?"Heteased. Tifa gasped like a fish out of water. He chuckled and the two started laughing, simply basking in the stillness of the moment and enjoying each other's company.
Aeris rested, leaning against the wall by the window, staring out towards the vast orange sky, the rays of the setting sun made the townof Midgar looked as if it was sleeping in a golden blanket.Tears were threatening to spill from her verdant green eyes. Why…? I like him… But I can't have him. She wished she had the courage to walk up to him and tell him how she felt, but she knew deep down that professing her feelings would not change the way things were… She knew deep down that…
The both of them have yet to notice… That the feelings the have for each other… Are reciprocated.
"I'm off!" Tifa chirruped as she turned her head towards the boy of her affections and smiled, flipping her hair lightly and with a quick wink, ran out of the class.
He sat there for a while until her footsteps faded off down the hall, his eyes glazed over with saccharine sweet affection, before he snapped back to reality. "Time to head home." He mumbled to no one in particular - the reason for him to linger on in class having left already - as he slowly stood up from his creaking wooden chair and started packing his school things systematically into his navy blue and silver backpack.
Another day, without him noticing me, and the day is over.
"C… Cloud!" Aeris heard herself squeak as he headed towards the door. Wait… Did I just? Her heart just stopped short of going into cardiac arrest as he directed his gaze towards her. His eyes… Are on me… Aeris found herself blushing profusely and meekly hung her head, staring quietly at the floor. She could hear her heart pounding in her ears like a machine gun as he made his way towards her, his scent reaching her, the refreshingly light scent of dewdrops and freshly fallen snow. "What's up? It must be really important if someone as quiet as youtalks to someone like me… Do you need help?" His voice was teasing yet soft and gentle, plucking the strings of Aeris's heart.
What can I do?
Do I and… Cloud Strife have anything in common at all?
What can I… Say to him? What can I possible say?
"Help you. I would… Like… To help you." Aeris found herself whispering nervously as she clamped and unclamped her hands together, fingers fidgeting. She looked up into his eyes and found herself shivering, drowning under the power of his brilliant sapphire gaze. "Would you like that? If I… Helped you… Win Tifa's heart?" Shiva… I'm just so pathetic. Cloud's eyes were wide, blinking rapidly in disbelief, a faint blush tinting his cheeks at the sound of Tifa's name. "Would you… Really?"
That was all I could say to him? I'm such an idiot…
She forced a smile. "Yes, I would."
"Sorry to intrude…"
"It's ok Cloud… There's no one else here." Aeris explained as she peeled off her shoes and socks before making her way across the tatami mats. It was a single, traditional Japanese styled room with an attached bathroom. She knelt before the study table, and started rummaging through a pile of textbooks and loose sheets of handwritten notes, searching for her scrapbooks.
Cloud stood motionless for a while, taking in the details of the small but cozy and neat home and blinked, evidently startled. "You mean… You live alone?" Aeris nodded as she pulled out a few dried flower patterned scrapbooks, trying to suppress the urge to blush. He's talking to me… "My parents died when I was 3. My parents were caught in a crossfire. My father died on the spot and my mom died a week later from her wounds." "I'm… Sorry to hear…You must have had it rough." Aeris nodded and started rummaging under the desk. "You get used to it..." Then as if to ease the slight awkwardness that had been brought forth and realizing what him being alone in her home meant, Cloud gave a shaky laugh "Don't worry… I promise! I won't lay a finger on you! I'm not that kind of guy. You can relax." He blushed a brilliant beet red before raising his hands up innocently in a futile attempt to defend himself.
"It's alright, really. It's no big deal." Aeris smiled sadly in understanding. She knew why… All he thinks about is her. Yet, he's in my house… Somehow, it doesn't seem real… Am I… Dreaming?
"Choose whichever picture you like." Aeris mumbled, trying to hide her despair beneath her honey brown bangs as she pulled out several photo albums and scrapbooks from under the table and pushed it towards him. He can't see me cry… Not in my house… Cloud padded over to the study table and started slowly flipping through the scrapbooks. "Wow… You guys go way back… You two must be really close." Aeris peeped over and spied the photograph he was fingering in his hands; it was of her and Tifa in middle school.
It was too perfect… The fact that Tifa and I are friends.
"Yeah… There wasn't much of a choice there…" Aeris replied, smiling slightly. Tifa had always been a good friend… She'd always been there for her. And yet…
"Incredible… She did it again! Tifa Lockhart got another 100!"
I had looked down on my exam paper and saw a 99. I had lost to her again. My hands were trembling, the exam paper crinkled slightly. The 99 in bright red ink looked as if it was screaming at me, taunting me.
"Let's all give Tifa a round of applause!" Even as the classroom exploded with cheers and congratulations, I couldn't help but lower my head in sorrow and shame, the tears streaking down my face and splattering on my exam paper, blurring the red and blue inks. I had lost the scholarship to Tifa, the scholarship I needed so badly to put me through high school.
Although in the end, she had rejected the scholarship offer and given it to me. I couldn't help but feel that I didn't earn it. I hadn't gotten it based on my own merits. I was nothing. Am nothing without her.
Always… Time and again and again and again… I'm always unable to do better than Tifa, no matter how hard I try… She's always been one step ahead of me… Always so effortlessly… Even now. That's right… I've already known all too clearly, that I am nothing but her shadow.
"Hey… Can I keep this?" Cloud asked, smiling widely, his face flushed, holding up a photograph. Aeris looked over; it was a picture of Tifa… Only Tifa… Flashing a radiant smile in her school uniform during the spring… The photograph had caught not just her perfectly flawless features but all her emotions as well; you could sense her excitement of being in school, the joy practically bubbling out from being around the friends she loved. Mainly…me. Aeris diverted her eyes way and bowed her head down, staring straight at the tatami covered floor. Her heart was threatening to burst out of her chest.
Please… Don't look so happy when you think of her… I'm here… Right in front of you… It hurts me so…
"Cloud… Tifa… She already has a boyfriend." Aeris found herself saying out loud without thinking. Her words almost echoing in the quiet room.
What… What am I saying? Why did I say that?
Cloud's smile faded. He was shocked into a silent stupor. His face paled and drained blood, his skin the color of chalk, his eyes so wide, Aeris could see the whites surrounding the cerulean orbs. "That's a lie… It can't be… She…" Cloud stuttered, his anguish audible in his wavering tone.
The truth is… I'm not even sure what to do anymore… Or what I'm doing anymore…
Aeris reached forward with both hands to caress the smooth skin of his cheeks lightly, she could feel his warm breath against her skin. She pushed him backwards against the tatami mats and gently lowered her lips to his, she trembled at the contact. Cloud's eyes flew open; the sapphire pools were wide with shock as she slowly pulled away, touching her lips gingerly with her fingers, trembling slightly at the contact. My first kiss… "What… Are we doing?" Cloud choked out a nervous laugh, a quiet blue fire burning in his eyes, his cheeks blazing. "We'd better stop… Or we'll get carried away." He whispered, avoiding her gaze.
No… Don't turn away from me… Don't turn your eyes away… Look at me…
"She's… Already done this with him." Aeris whispered softly and slowly with a trembling hand wrapped around his long fingers and placed it on her chest. Cloud's breathing quickened, his blue eyes reflecting despair and guilt warring with desire. Aeris lowered her face slowly, until his eyes reflected, like the moon, nothing else but her. Only her…
Cloud gasped softly and his hands found their way intertwined in her soft honey brown strands. Aeris lowered her lips to his as he raised his own forward sealing it from a tentative touch to a passionate kiss…
Aeris couldn't stop… His touch felt so good on the bare skin of her neck. The taste of his lips was like a drug she couldn't get enough of. She pressed herself against him and traced her fingers lightly against his chest, kissing lightly against the soft skin of his collarbone. She heard him inhale sharply and felt his control break, his hands slipping urgently beneath her shirt and softly caressing the bare skin of her back; Aeris shivered and bit back a moan, as a single thought coursed through her mind, as she delved and bathed in forbidden pleasure… As she damned herself to the fiery depths of hell.
I like you… I may be selfish by doing this… But… I won't let a person like Tifa Lockhart have you… I won't let myself be invisiblein your eyes anymore.
And there we have it! The first chappie of my 3rd fic… Was inspired by a series of events, so I figured… "Why not?" Although I DO feel bad for making Aeris seem like the 3rd party in this story since she is one of my favorite characters in FF7… I guess I wanted to try out a new perspective?
Sorry out there to all my loyal readers for not having updated for such a long time… I ran into a series of relationship problems so I kind of lost my inspiration to continue writing… Hope I haven't gotten rusty…
So please read and review and tell me what you think ok? Cheerio!