Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy 7, just this story. My story. Not your's.
Author's Note: Sup ya'll? This's my first FF7 thing. Yay me! Anyway, I got the idea for this a while ago, and only recently have I been able to put it together properly. It deals with two pairings, and my thoughts on how they'd be possible after Dirge of Cerberus and Advent Children (I only mention them separately because of what each ending did for the main character). Enjoy.
P.S. This is my longest first chapter ever. It's mostly because I didn't write it in a way that would be easy to split up into two smaller chapters. Besides, there's a lot going on with each character in this story, and I wanted to give three of the main characters the intros they needed.
I weave thee a tale of unrequited love,
Of a man, whose beloved, from this world, was gone,
And of two, each bound by this love, to another,
Neither believing they could ever move on,
Until they found each other.
Cloud was on his knees, tending to his flowers. No, not his flowers. Their flowers. The pond was close by. It had been a long time since they had needed to use its cleansing properties to banish the Geostigma. It lay there if ever they needed it, never seeming to evaporate, never changing. Timeless.
He stopped long enough to take in the scent of the flowers. She would have been proud of him, he was sure. He'd done a good job tending them. Marlene told him so. And she knew more about how the Flower-Lady had tended her flowers than anyone.
Cloud breathed deeply, taking in as much of the fragrance as he could. He let it out in a contented sigh. He had done a good job. He looked around at the ruins of the church. It hadn't been touched since after the battle with Kadaj. He thought of the silver-headed young man, not with hatred or even contempt, but with kindness. He'd been confused when he did this. And She had forgiven him in the end. Anyone She was willing to forgive, Cloud was also.
Cloud stood up, taking one last look at the flowerbed. He smiled. They were safe here. No one ever touched them, or the church. He camped out in the building every Wednesday. He didn't know why he chose Wednesday, he just did. It's possible that it was because he had met Her on a Wednesday. He didn't really know though, so he just guessed.
He walked out of the church, heading towards his other home. He smiled. Tifa hated it when he was late to dinner. And she'd promised that next time he was, she'd send Barret after him. Tifa. His best friend. They had been friends since childhood, and Cloud knew that they would be friends their entire lives.
"Where is he?" asked the brunette, looking at the clock. "He's going to be late again!"
"Calm down," said a gruff voice. "He always gets here for dinner. 'Sides, he's down at the church tendin' his flowers. You know he does that every day."
"I know Barret," she said, "But still. I've warned him about being late to dinner."
"It's alright Tifa," said a young boy setting the table, "We can wait. The flowers are important to him. Marlene and I don't mind."
"Denzel's right," said Barret. "You jes' need to come down, Tifa. Them flowers is all he's got left of Aerith."
"I know," said Tifa, turning to look out the window. Cloud. He'd never gotten over Aerith. He'd said that she'd forgiven him- no, those weren't the words. He said that she'd told him she'd never blamed him for her death. But he still hadn't moved on, not completely. She sighed. Would he never fully realize how she felt about him? That she-
Her thoughts were cut off by the familiar sound of a motorcycle grinding to a halt. Outside, Cloud was being greeted by Marlene as he dismounted Fenrir.
"Cloud," Tifa heard Marlene say, "You're almost late again." Tifa imagined the smile on Cloud's face as he replied.
"Almost," he said. "Just almost. I'm still on time." Cloud came into the kitchen moments later, led by Marlene.
"Told you he'd be here on time," said Barret.
"She didn't think I'd make it?" asked Cloud, smiling. "When was the last time I was late?"
"Doesn't matter," said Tifa. "You've still got a history of being late." Cloud just smiled his faraway smile. It was useless to lecture him when he was like this. He was too at peace with the world right now. Tifa rolled her eyes and smiled. "Let's just eat, okay?"
Far to the north, in a forest of white, leafless trees, Vincent Valentine sat on the edge of a lake. It was a special lake, one which held memories for just about everyone who had participated in the battle three years prior. Vincent had already been to see Lucrecia. This was his other go-to spot, and where he usually spent the night. He gazed out on the mystical lake, thinking of the one who lay at the bottom.
He remembered the night She died. He had been there with Tifa, trying to stop a possessed Cloud. Just when it had seemed she was safe, He had come. Although it was Jenova's body, it was still Him. He had been in control, and He had killed Her. Cloud's grief had been enormous. Even the summoned Bahamut seemed to fight harder that night. Aerith had been the one who had looked after him the most.
Vincent closed his eyes for a moment. Aerith. Cloud's beloved. Vincent couldn't remember if Cloud had ever actually admitted it, but he knew. Cloud had loved Aerith so much. And then she was gone. Vincent knew of Cloud's occasional sojourn's into the other realm. Some would call it an "out of body experience", and others would call it "hallucination". But Vincent knew it was real. Cloud had talked with Aerith many times.
Vincent felt sympathy towards the blonde warrior. He knew what it was like to lose a loved one in that manner. He knew the others had they're own levels of identifying with such personal tragedy, but it was arguably Vincent's that came the closest. He too had loved a woman, who, due to another, he couldn't be with. Vincent had thought long and hard about Cloud's situation, and how it was connected with his own sin. No matter what, he would always feel that Sephiroth was in part his fault.
His red eyes opened again, in time to see something strange happening in the lake. 'The second time,' he thought. 'It shall happen again tomorrow night as well. I'll let him know. He deserves to know.' He watched the spot out on the lake, it's glow growing brighter. He had theories, but he wouldn't be sure until tomorrow.
"That was good," said Cloud, clearing the table. "Your cooking is improving, Tifa."
"I helped too ya know," said Barret from the kitchen. "It was my granny's recipe."
"Well," said Cloud, "She made wonderful spaghetti. I'm glad you still know the recipe." He brought the dishes to Barret, who Tifa had stuck with washing. Cloud was to dry ("Makes you wonder what she'll be doing," Barret had muttered to Cloud).
Tifa was putting the leftovers in the fridge. She looked at Cloud and Barret, and then at Marlene and Denzel, who were helping to put the dishes away after Cloud dried them. She smiled. They looked just like a normal family. Only, they weren't a normal family. Barret, a surrogate father, Marlene and Denzel, her surrogate children, and Cloud... Cloud, her best friend. Cloud, the man she had such strong feelings for. The man she-
Ring ring "I'll get it," she said. She picked up the phone. "Hello?"
"Tifa?" asked the voice on the other end of the line.
"Vincent?" she asked. Both Cloud and Barret looked up. Vincent never called.
"Yes," said Vincent. "Tifa. Ask Cloud to call me back later. I have something I need to talk with him about."
"Um, alright," she said. "But, how have you been? We never hear from you."
"I've been busy," said Vincent. "But I've been fine. I assume you have been as well."
"Yes," said Tifa.
"Good," said Vincent. "Please tell Cloud to call me, alright?"
"Thank you. Goodbye."
'That was weird,' she thought, hanging up. She went back and put the last of the leftovers in the fridge. 'What could he want to talk to Cloud about?'
"That was Vincent?" asked Barret. "You sure it was him? The dude never calls."
"It was him," said Tifa.
"What was he calling about?" asked Cloud, drying a plate.
"He wants you to call him later," said Tifa. Cloud nodded. Besides Vincent's call, the night progressed normally. Tifa and Cloud got the kids to bed, and Barret picked out something to read to Marlene. Cloud and Tifa went back downstairs.
They sat on the couch for a while, neither saying anything. Each were lost in their own thoughts. "Cloud," Tifa finally said. Cloud looked up. "If you could, would you make things different?" This question had been running through Tifa's mind for a long time. She decided she finally wanted to ask it.
"What do you mean?" asked Cloud, perplexed.
"If you could wish for something to be different," said Tifa, "And knew that it would come true, would you do it?"
"Different how?" asked Cloud. "I'd say the life we have right now is great. What would I want to change?"
"You know what I mean Cloud," said Tifa. "If you could wish her back, would you?" Cloud looked stunned. Of course that's what he'd thought about, but he didn't realize that that's what Tifa had meant.
"I... I don't know," said Cloud. "I don't know if she was happier here or where she is now. I would only do it if I thought she might be happier for it." Tifa was silent for a moment, not knowing what to say. She hadn't expected him to be so selfless about it. She knew how Cloud felt about Aerith. And she knew how she herself felt about Cloud, and about how Aerith felt about him. "Would you?"
"Well..." Tifa said, at length, "I think I would. I miss her, Cloud. She was our friend, after all."
"Is," corrected Cloud. "She is our friend." Tifa nodded. Yes. Cloud still loved Aerith. Could he ever learn to direct those feelings towards her? "But why are you asking all this?" Tifa looked up.
"Hmm? Oh, no reason," said Tifa. "Just something I was thinking about. You know how you sometimes just get a random thought." Cloud smiled.
"Yeah, I know," he said. Tifa smiled back. But she was thinking hard. She knew that just wishing someone back wouldn't actually do anything, but still. It had got her thinking. Would she be willing to bring Aerith back to make Cloud happy? Even knowing what it would mean for herself?
"Well," said Cloud, standing up, "I should go call Vincent. See what he wants to talk about." He walked to the kitchen, leaving Tifa with her thoughts.
"Just come by tomorrow night," said Vincent. "At around the time I first called."
"Why?" asked Cloud.
"I just need to show you something," said Vincent, looking at the lake.
"Alright," said Cloud. Vincent hung up. He kept looking at the lake. It had already receded. He knew it would be back tomorrow. He could feel it.
'I've tried doing something about it,' he thought. 'But I knew it wouldn't do any good. I know it will react to Cloud, though. I'm sure of it.'
And there you have it! Chapter 1! Phweeooof! I done did it! I'll get this out of the way right now. I've got something planned for the next chapter (part of which we saw in this one) that's been done before. I can't remember the story, or who wrote it, but I'd like to thank them for the bit of inspiration. The event itself is similar, but the circumstances are different. I'm only saying this so that no one will be getting on my case later about totally copying someone else. While the other story inspired me a bit, my version is still different.
I hope to update soon! See you then!