The Pure Love of an Angel
Cloud had always had a hard time talking to her. She was always sunny, always smiling, and always optimistic, no matter the situation.
She was beautiful, courageous and kind, and she made him feel complete.
He had wanted to tell her this so many times, but he never did, and now she was... gone.
He could no longer tell her what he felt for her.
He didn't at first because he was unsure, but when he realized what it was, he was too afraid to tell her.
He didn't want to be rejected, because he was already on the edge as it was, and he felt that if she had said no that he would have broken, shattered, and fallen into the darkness that slowly invaded his mind, spirit and body.
He had felt cold tears flow when he had stared down at her pale face that was graced forevermore with a smile that was so humble, and yet so sad to look upon.
He had trembled and quaked, sorrow racking his body like a poison, consuming him from the inside out.
He had wanted to tell her, tell her he cared, and tell her that he was hers forever.
But she's gone.
He couldn't get over it, and though it was years after her death, if still felt raw, like an unhealed wound.
He took care of the flowers in her church as a way of being close to her, but he always felt guilty, as he tended them, because they reminded him of her.
He cried out for her in the night, his mind full of the images of the woman he couldn't defend.
He remembered her words, her last words to him, the ones that felt so bitter in his mouth.
"I'm doing this for the planet Cloud. I may die, but you must go on... Just know this... I will always love you."
She said these words, and then placed a gentle kiss onto his forehead, and looked up at him with her blazing green eyes.
"I have failed you." Cloud said gently, tears rushing out to streak silently down his cheeks.
"I have failed you, failed you for the last time... I'm sorry." He whispered, his hand clutching the rail of the porch he was standing on.
He trembled as a wave of fresh sorrow crashed over him, and he gripped the rail with his hands, staring out at the stormy sky, his eyes unseeing.
He was lost in his misery, and he would never forgive himself for what had befallen the flower girl, his flower girl, that night.
He had never expected that her life would end in a single moment, a moment that would burn so painfully in the back of his mind, like and ember that was cast away, only to start a forest fire later when the original flame had been doused.
He stood, consumed by sorrow, surrounded by lies, just a mold of a man he could never be.
It was too much for anyone to handle, and yet he plunged on, his mind careening in chaos, captured in self-loathing, seeking the light he thought had been left at the bottom of the Life Stream a few years ago.
He had contemplated death on more than one occasion, but his friends would always be there to help pull him out of the rut, and for that he was beyond grateful.
But now, as he stood in the billowing winds and the vicious rain, as he stood there letting the rain slash his face, and the wind blow his clothing, he felt a gentle hand rest on his shoulder.
"Cloud?" Came a soft voice from behind him.
He didn't respond, he just stood, letting the weather bathe him clean.
"Cloud?" The voice said again, its tone gentle and sweet.
"I'm sorry..." He finally said, his hands white from gripping the rail so hard.
"You need not be sorry Cloud. I knew what was to befall me before I even left. I chose to do what I did, despite knowing the consequences." The voice was sure in its tone, and it made Cloud flinch.
"I... I could have... saved you." Cloud said, struggling to say the words.
"No Cloud. You couldn't have stopped a fate that was set before the beginning of time."
"I was right there... Right by your side... I could have..." He was silenced as a thin finger pressed against his lips.
"Shhh. I know you feel that way but you can't change fate Cloud."
"But I..." The finger silenced him again, as it pressed gently against his mouth.
"I know Cloud... You feel that it's your fault that I died, but it wasn't you. My death was the only thing that could have stopped Meteor from destroying my ancestor's sacred planet. I had to save them Cloud."
Slowly, a pair of lily-white arms wrapped themselves around Cloud's waist.
"Not everything is your fault Cloud." Aeris whispered in his ear.
Cloud's eyes shifted so that he could see her arms, wrapped so lovingly around him.
"I... I need to tell you something." Cloud said, his voice shaking slightly.
"Yes?" Aeris replied.
"I've never told you this before... but, I loved you Aeris... I loved you more than anything..." Cloud choked a little on his words as he stared off at the maelstrom that was raging around them.
"I know Cloud... I knew it before, and I've known it since... and I have always cherished that in my heart... You where the one who helped me realize what I had to do. You where the one who gave me the strength to do it, even when I was afraid... I knew." She said into his hair.
He sighed a little, and then he turned his gaze to meet hers.
"I've failed you Aeris... I didn't keep my promise of moving on... I'm sorry." He said, as he watched her reaction.
Her face faded slightly, but the smile appeared after a few moments.
"No Cloud, you haven't failed me... You may have been stuck in the past, but you moved on. You fought against Sephiroth despite feeling like it was useless. You pulled out of your sorrow long enough to complete what you had started. But now, now that that is out of the way, there is nothing left to keep you occupied. Your mind now can roam, and you find that you think of the things that you miss most, and with the guilt in your heart, you turn on yourself, and fall into depression. Don't ask me for forgiveness, for I have never thought it was you who killed me. You must ask yourself for forgiveness." She said, and then vanished.
Cloud caught the smell of flowers, and he looked down, and found that Aeris had left him.
"Thank you Aeris... I will forgive myself." He said, releasing the railing from his death grip, and turning to the door.
In his head, a voice echoed.
"There is more to life than a simple flower girl. Put that behind, and start anew Cloud... I'll always be here, but find someone who cares about you... You deserve the love that I couldn't give you."
Cloud felt a slight pain as those words rang in his head, but he knew that she was right.
"I will Aeris, and I know just the person." Cloud said, as he went in to find Tifa.