You Were Always Late

Doesn't matter how bad it was going to be, I always thought the day I would die, I would be in his arms.

But what was I thinking?

He's always late.

I grunt as I drag myself across the lilies, destroying what few were left from the fight. Sorry about that, Aeris. I guess we got a little carried away...'S not like I wanted to fight here, either. Oh, and the pillar...and those few pews...yeah, sorry about those, too.

Even if I am going to die, and it's not going to be in his arms, I'll be damned if I'm just going to lie here like a dog and let death take me. That's not how it's going to happen.

I know I don't have the strength to make it to anywhere that could keep me alive or give me medical attention, but, I'm going to get out of these flowers if it's the last thing I do.

...well, I think it's rather obvious this is going to be the last thing I do.

I'm going to show them, that even facing death, I had some strength left...that I was still strong. And it's not like I was going to lie there where that idiot punched me down with that freaking cheap-shot.

Bastard..

I hiss, pulling myself up out of the flowers, and onto the floorboards. My stomach contracts, and I fight vomiting. Digging my fingers down, I pull myself across the planks, teeth gritted, until I reach a column. Pulling myself up with heavy breaths, I wince as I prop myself up against the large column. I give out a sigh, relaxing up against the thing.

I pull off my gloves.

I honestly never thought the day I died, I would be propped up against a pillar, the stone cold and unforgiving on my back.

I sigh, tilting my head away from the flowers.

You'd probably think I'd be more comfortable there, right? And they were Aeris' flowers, and that alone should bring me ease and comfort.

You're wrong.

I'm more comfortable on this dusty, creaky floor than in her flowers.

You're thinking, bitchy, huh?

Well, it's not like that. Let me explain first.

I owe the woman too much as it is, and it's my own fault for getting myself mixed up into this mess. And those flowers, they would just lull me into a sleep with no pain, but here...here on this floor, I feel the pain, and I know I'm alive.

And since I'm alive, there's a chance he might show up, and I might get to see him.

I'm foolish, no?

Maybe I am, for waiting for my knight in shining armor to show up.

They say your first love isn't your only love...I'd like to stuff my foot in the mouths of the people who say that.

Selfish, eh? But...it's the only thing that I have left. It's the only hope that I have that he might actually love me.

Desperate, aren't I?

I know...but...maybe my first love is my only love. And if I die here today, that'll only be confirming it. I sigh again, eyes downcast.

I pull my hand across my stomach to hide the blood that's seeping through my white shirt and dripping off my hips.

He lives here...so maybe he does love her...or maybe he doesn't. Does it really matter, honestly? I mean, he never said he did, and he never said he didn't...so there's still hope, right?

But honestly, I sometimes wish he would've said he loved her, so that way...that way there'd be a reason why he doesn't love me. There would be a reason as to how after everything we've been through, he still doesn't love me.

Without him loving her, there's no reason why he doesn't love me.

The only reason is, is merely the fact that I'm not the woman he's supposed to love.

And I think that's the thing that scares me the most.

He may not love me because I'm merely me.

Still, I can't stop loving him. That's the way love goes, isn't it? Your heart dictates, not your brain. Sure, my brain's told me a thousand times over to pick up and move on.

But my heart anchors me to him, and I can't just let him go like that.

Sure, we were never close as kids...but we're all that's left of Nibelhiem. Him and me...that's it. That's got to count for something, right?

My eyes land on a fallen lily.

They say that only those untouched by greed go to the Promised Land.

I won't be going there.

I've never been greedy for objects, or money...but I have been greedy.

For his love. That's the only thing I have greed for, that I wish and yearn for. So, I guess I'm not pure, not untainted. I guess I won't be going to the Promise Land. I guess I'll join the thousands of dormant souls in the Lifestream, and float aimlessly along the waves.

I regard the lily harshly.

"So that means...I can't come back and talk to him...or see you..." I actually speak to it, as if she doesn't know what I'm thinking, anyways. "I can't do the things you do...so when I die, you have to take care of him, promise?"

A soft breeze ruffles the air of the church and I swallow.

That means it's true, doesn't it? Is that a sign? I've never really been one for signs...but there are those you can't deny...or at least I can't.

Another sharp pain stabs my stomach, and I grunt, folding over for a minute, before straightening again.

It's coming, I can feel it...the way the air seeps into a chill around me, despite the sun that streams through the roof. The areas in my peripheral vision darkens, and I literally have tunnel vision. I'm staring at that door, waiting for it to open. Waiting to see him. Just a glimpse, really, is all I want. Just something to take with me to the Lifestream, if I get to take anything. I just want to have his face engraved in my mind perfectly. That's all I want.

There's a metallic tang in my mouth, and a cool liquid seeps from the corner of my lips.

I hiss, another pain, gripping my entire body and I shake.

I should've just stayed in the flowers.

The pain slaps me full force, and I ball up my fist, my other hand clutching my leg until the pain passes.

I let out a heavy sigh, my breathing labored, tilting my head towards the door again.

It's okay if I die.

It's okay...I know you've got a lot on your shoulders, and I'm sorry to add this to it.

It's selfish of me to think that maybe my death will affect you as much as hers, to show that you loved me...but I hope it doesn't. I hope you don't care, because I want you to live. I want you to breathe, and smile, and be happy, and enjoy life for once. You've done so much already for all of us, so you shouldn't have to suffer anymore.

I know you have Geostigma, I think I sorta knew for a long time. I hope you get better, and I hope you learn to fight, and be the brave man I know you can be.

And I know there are times when you just want to hide away like the little boy from Nibelhiem. But you can't do that now, as much as you'd like. I won't let you, and I don't think Aeris or Zack will either...because like it or not, you brought yourself into the world of heros, and that's where you're going to stay.

Because we have faith in you.

And why am I saying this, when you aren't even here? When I know you can't hear me? Well, maybe by some grace of Aeris, she'll let you hear this...even after I've passed into the Lifestream, and fallen asleep.

And maybe, by some grace of Aeris, I'll still have you...that image of your face, when you're happy, and when you're sad, and those rare moments when anger or frustration show through; and then...when you laugh, or when you're shocked.

Maybe she'll just let me have those. Maybe she'll let me live eternity in that night under the Highwind. I read a lot of adventure novels, you know (what's the point, right? We've lived in one) And in each and every one, the girl always got the guy or visa versa. But that didn't happen with us, did it? That night...I know you didn't say you loved me, and I know I never said it to you, but if it ever felt that we were lovers, it was that night...that night when we watched the stars drift, and when you held me in your arms.

That was the night I felt you loved me...

Even if you don't love me now, and even if you didn't love me before...I think you loved me then...even if it was just for me, just to humor me and soothe me. I still appreciate that, and I still love you, and I always will.

And I'm going to wait for you here, propped up against this column, as death takes me. I'll just wait here. You'll get here eventually. Yes, I'll just wait here for you, even if I'm already dead...I'm waiting.

I always have to wait on you, but that's okay. I'm use to it.

After all, you were always late.

A/N: Morbid, eh? Well, I was listening to slow piano music, and drawing a picture from this actually, and I kept thinking thoughts Tifa might've thought...and I came up with this. I think that Tifa wouldn't have just laid there and died (if she'd actually have died) I twisted things, and what do you know, I left you hanging. Did she die? Did she see Cloud before she died? Did Cloud love her or Aeris? Did she go to the Promise Land? Questions I believe you can answer for yourself, with your own opinions. What do ya know, I gave a tragic yet hopeful ending...and I switched out my usual Aerith for Aeris...just giving it a try...so who knows? Enjoy.