Disc: I do not own Final Fantasy VII

A/N: While revamping the entire sequel for Sinfull, I heard a marvelous piano version of Anastasia's "Once Upon a December", and, of course, thought of TifaxAerith.

(Truth be told, any sort of piano-ized love song makes me think of TifaxAerith. :)

Also, I dislike Cloud very much, but I can't outright bash him. I can't bash any character, really.

It's bitterly cold. Aerith knows that the bar has become an arctic wasteland, and she remembers the bite of frost; if she thinks hard enough, she can imagine it on her skin. Her imagination wanders, predictably, and her thoughts morph from ice to fire; she thinks of calloused hands sheathed in black leather slipping down her body, lover's (killer's) fingers working upon a melody of passion that only the owner can think of. Aerith knows that, had she been alive, these thoughts might have ignited some sort of forbidden passion.

But she's only a ghost now. Nothing more than a piece of the Lifestream. She can't feel anything here, and can only speak to the people closest to her when she drags their spirits to the Promised Land; temporarily, of course.

She has been watching them, all of her friends, partly to play the over-protective mother and partly due to selfishness, because when she watches them live, she feels a little more alive too. And maybe she's a bit jealous, but only a bit, because she knows in her heart she did the right thing and saved them, gave them all another chance to live.

Still. Aerith didn't want to die. She wanted (still wants) a happily ever after of her own. The sudden, lonely notes of a piano echo around the room, innocently dark. They flow into a slow, morbid song that Aerith cannot place, and very softly, words are whispered.

"...On the winds, 'cross the sea..."

Like the mice who followed the Pied Piper oh so mindlessly to their deaths, she follows the sound of the piano and its lonely singer, drawn to the hidden pleas within; Please come back...

"...Hear this song and remember..."

Aerith slips around the bar, spies the narrow staircase cleverly hidden from the patrons of the Seventh Heaven. She begins to asscend the stairs, her feet silent as death. She knows the singer of the song; in fact, she has come to this forgotten place to see the pianist personally.

"...Soon you'll be, home with me..."

She has cleared the top step, and notes that the place is clean; a sign of hope, she thinks. She pads down the hallway, stopping to see a room, dark and dusty from the years of neglect. The two beds are perfectly made, and pictures covered with the scribbles of a toddler dance limply in the frigid wind of the air conditioner. A teddy bear, wrapped up in black fabric, sits on one of the beds; the fur on its head has been spiked up. Aerith knows who this portrays.

"...Once upon a December..."

The next room she goes to is empty as well; the only signs that someone was ever there to begin with is the slightly rumpled bed, the picture on the nightstand, and the can of men's cologne on the dresser. Aerith traces the doorframe, slightly bitter with the man who had once lived there; she had thought he had changed, but apparently not. She wonders how long he's been gone this time, but then knows by the amount of dust on the top of the nightstand that he's never coming back.

The final room she stops by belongs solely to a woman; there's an assorment of lotions and other skin products in a cute, tin box on the dresser, a worn paperback on the nightstand, and a lovely, raven haired female on the piano. Aerith knows that, had she had breath, it would have rushed out at the sight. The woman on the piano isn't singing anymore, but the words belong to the song she plays.

Aerith has seen the exploits the woman has gone through; she's seen the physical battle with the three remnants of the man who'd tried to doom them all, saw the endless bouts with the pain of the distant man who needed a family more than anything. She's seen everything the pianist has seen, and knows her better than anyone on the planet. Aerith is not arrogant in saying that, because she was the only one who really cared enough to wonder about what was hidden beneath a smile and the words, "Be strong..."

She slips behind the other woman, hands fondly tracing muscles built from years of fighting and training. The smell of shampoo makes the corner of her lips twitch, and she buries her nose into the crown of black hair. The pianist can't feel her touches; no one on the plane of the living can. Her hands slide from the fighter's shoulders to wrap around slender wrists; the hands are busy, after all.

Aerith sits behind her, her legs on either side of the black haired woman's own. She rests her chin on the woman's shoulder, watching the fingers fly over the keys. The song is near its end, Aerith notices, and her fingers itch to slide between the pianist's own. When the sad, lonely song finishes, Aerith covers her hands, and realizes that the skin is ice cold. She bites her lip, worried.


She starts, freezing in place; it was impossible that the pianist had seen her, because she is intangible, invisable. Aerith lets out a tiny breath when she realizes the woman was only thinking aloud, then wonders why she was thinking of her. She releases her ghostly hold on the hands, instead bringing them up to tenderly cross over cold skin of the beating heart. Then she closes her eyes, thinks of the Promised Land, pulling the raven haired beauty with her.

When she opens her eyes again, their positions have changed; instead of holding her friend close, Aerith notices that her head is cushioned on her lap, ebony strands standing out against the baby pink of her dress. Her eyes are closed, and the she notices the black marks beneath them. The flowers of this blank, white world actually lean toward the woman clad in black, as if to give some of their warmth to the shivering form. Aerith wonders if that's a sign of things to come, but stores it for later when her friend's eyelids flutter open.

Burgandy eyes are slowly revealed; in this light, however, the color is similar to glittering rubies or freshly spilt blood. Aerith remembers once thinking that those eyes should have belonged to a demon, but were given to a guardian instead. Crimson orbs finally focus on her face, and pale lips part in surprise. Instead of an joyous whoop and holler, she whispers in a voice that seemed as brittle and fragile as a snowflake.

"Am I dead?"

Aerith smiles, her fingers playing with the wisps of hair at the younger woman's temples.

"No," she replies. "You're not dead. I wanted to talk to you." She paused, then says, "I missed you."

"No one misses me," the woman says wryly.

"I do."

A smile appears at that, but Aerith knows it's fake; Tifa Lockhart was a master at flinging a lie to keep someone happy, after all. Tifa's smile fades quickly though, as if it takes too much energy to try that. The fighter averts her eyes, and it's then that the flower-girl sees the weary woman beneath the frozen shell.

"I've really missed you Tifa," Aerith says, her fingers slipping from Tifa's temples to stroke her jawline. She even pauses to fiddle with her pearl tear-drop earrings.

"...Aerith," Tifa breathes. There's a small catch in her voice. "I missed you too...everyone has."

She knows that everyone translates to his name.

"I know," she says simply. And that's that. She wasn't here for him; she came to see just Tifa.

"Have you visited everyone, then?"

"Does it matter? I'm here to see you, not everyone else."

Tifa's lips part in surprise. Then she closes her mouth, looks away again. Aerith sees the bit of pink on her cheeks, and giggles, her hands framing the fighter's face gently. She cocks her head to the side, leans down. When they are eye to eye, she grins a bit.

"You look so surprised," Aerith comments.

"Mm..." Tifa turns her head, her breath slipping under the folds of her dress and ghosting over the sensitive skin of her thigh. Aerith gasps softly, but Tifa doesn't notice; her eyes are closed. Cold skin presses against her knee, and she shivers, just a bit. Tifa looks up and there's the faintest hint of smile on her pale, chapped lips.

"Silly," Aerith murmurs softly, her fingers gently smoothing back Tifa's bangs. "You must be part penguin. The bar's temperature is so low."

The faint smile leaves as soon as it had come.

"...It's not my fault he forgot to fix the heater," Tifa says, her voice just a bit bitter. And Aerith can't blame her; Tifa is not a saint, she is a woman, she is human. She is entitled to become frustrated with him, because after everything she has sacrificed for him, he still needs to find his "forgiveness". It's unfair to Tifa, it's unfair to poor Denzel and Marlene, who were both taken away by Barret.

It's just unfair to them all.

Tifa sits up, and Aerith misses the cold feel of the other's body. Then Tifa turns around and wraps her arms around her shoulders, and the Cetra can only sigh as goosebumps rise on the spots the fighter touches. The black leather gloves only make the cold worse, Aerith notes, but she doesn't care. She scoots closer, sliding her legs between Tifa's, and returns the embrace; the younger woman smells of something both exotic and intoxicating, the heady perfume making her thoughts swirl.

"I missed you," the fighter whispers against her neck, her breath a blast of ice-air against her skin. Aerith merely tightens her grip, closing her eyes. One of Tifa's hands drift down her back, barely skimming the fabric of the dress, and wraps around her waist, pulling her closer.

Her heart beats faster in response. Aerith licks her lips, a nervous habit, and tries to ignore it. She can't. Not when the arms around her body tighten in a vise-like grip, not when she can feel the very slight trembling of the other's shoulders. Aerith turns her head, places a tiny kiss to Tifa's jaw. It's enough, she thinks to herself, burying her face into the crook of the pianist's neck.

The hand on her lower back slides up, beneath her jacket; the feather light scrape of nails against the nape of her neck wring giggles from her throat.

"Tif--" Aerith giggles. "Tifa...stop..."

The chuckle that rumbles in her ear is like pure heat, and causes an uncomfortable tingle in her lower belly. The nails form a circle, then move away oh so slowly. This feeling causes her to grind her teeth to prevent the small moan from escaping her chest. Aerith shivers again.

Tifa notices, pulls away. "Are you cold?"

"No," the Cetra answers, her belly curling. An odd sensation stabs her lower body when those demon (guardian) eyes meet hers, with an odd light in their depths. Tifa swallows, begins to lean forward. Aerith freezes; the skin of their lips touch, barely any contact. The brunette quakes, her hands reaching up to hold onto the fighter's biceps. She can feel steel beneath the satin smooth texture of the other woman's skin, and, if she presses hard enough, she can feel the tiny ridges of scars. She lets out a tiny breath, tilts her head to the side.

Their lips meet again. The roughness of the other woman's chapped lips chafes her own, somewhat, but Aerith ignores it. She pulls away, breathes, and does it again. Tifa makes a small noise in the back of her throat, and presses closer, making the kiss just a bit harder. Aerith doesn't mind; the tender way her hands are splayed on her back makes up for it. She sighs, breathlessly, as they pull away for air. Tifa's eyes are closed and, briefly, Aerith wonders is she is thinking of him.

"Aerith," the fighter whispers, voice thick. The flower girl melts a little because, god, her name sounds lovely when Tifa whispers it so sweetly. She repeats her name in between quick pecks of lips, and then pushes her down to the soft grass. Tifa's body is supple and warm and strong, and her breath tickles the skin of Aerith's neck. Her hands come up to rest on the fighter's shoulders, tilting her head as lips work on her neck. The flowers seem to lean towards them, as if to sheild the moment from prying eyes.

She inhales sharply when she feels the tiny little lace ribbon around her neck pulled away, then watches in amusement as Tifa turns up her head, said object in between her teeth. Aerith giggles, slipping her hands behind the other woman's neck to undo the chain, and very, very carefully sets the necklace aside; at the end is the ring that once belonged to Tifa's mother, after all.

As she smoothes her hands down the stiff, armor-like leather of Tifa's vest, she wonders why this is happening. A small rush of air is pulled into the fighter's throat as Aerith's hands graze over her breasts. She pauses, her fingertips just brushing against the underside of the breasts, biting her lip. Logic, no, morals scream at her to stop what she's doing. For one, she's dead. If that isn't enough, she's a woman and women shouldn't sleep with other women. She knows this.

Aerith just doesn't give a rat's ass.

So when she moves her hands up and cups her partner's breasts, boldly, she delights in the way Tifa croaks out her name. Their legs slide and tangle together, and when the woman above her leans down to swoop her into a heated kiss, Aerith gives out a tiny sigh. Heat spreads from her lips, curls into her belly, trickling down to the apex of her thighs. She squirms, mewls softly when Tifa presses her own hips down to still Areith's. The flower girl digs her nails into the woman's shoulders, grinding her teeth.

"Tifa," Aerith whispers when the fighter pulls back. "What is this?"

"I don't know," Tifa says, and the brunette can feel deft, blood stained fingers sliding over her braid. "But I know that we're here. That's okay, right?"

"Mm," she mumbles. The warm, solid weight of the other woman makes her feel alive. "But...this. What is this?" She leans down to nip at the brunette's ear.

"Love, maybe," she says, and that makes Aerith's heart skip a beat. "I told you; I'm not sure. You're here, with me, and that's all that makes sense."

It doesn't, actually, but Aerith doesn't mind. She arches up, kissing Tifa again, because, Planet help her, the taste of the woman's lips is addicting.

"Nn," Tifa grunts softly. She pulls back, but only slightly, so that with each word, their lips brush. "I'm so tired, Aerith." Her forehead rests on the swell of the flower girl's bosom. "I'm so cold."

Aerith sighs. "I know. I know, Tifa." Her hand slips between them, splays over her heart. The beat is fast against her palm. She tilts her head up to peck Tifa gently on the corner of her mouth. The fighter mumbles her name, and then they're kissing again. Aerith gasps when the tip of a tongue skims her lips; Tifa doesn't take advantage of the situation, to her delight. She allows this unfamiliar act to pass, and, while it is slightly awkward, the heat blossoms into a full blown inferno. Her dress is rough and scratchy against her skin, and she lets out a small groan at the feeling.

That changes when the buttons of her dress are undone, and cool air skins over her sternum.

"Ti..." Aerith whimpers, unable to finish. White teeth nibble on her collarbone, a low rumble of satisfaction bubbling from the fighter's throat. The smaller woman inhales sharply when the pink fabric is slid from her shoulders. Kisses are peppered all over her skin, making her keen softly in reply. She shivers, undulating against Tifa's hips with wild abandon, the burning ache between her thighs sharp. The pianist hisses against the swell of her left breast.

"God, Aerith," she whispers. "You're..." The rest is lost in a harsh exhale; the pink-clad woman's hand is a brand on her thigh. "Oh..." Tifa swallows. "F-forgot what I was gonna say..."

"Mm-hm," the brunette chuckles. She shrugs out of the dress, the fabric fluttering to the ground, and sits up, forcing the fighter to do the same, and shimmies out from beneath the other woman. She leans forward, grasping the zipper of the vest between her teeth, and tugs down. Tifa freezes, as she watches the older woman's head drift lower, lower, lower...She swallowed again, her hands fisting in the grass. The zipper is undone, and the vest is pulled away from her torso, and so is the white vest beneath. Her shorts and shoes are next, and then her undergarments. Finally, she pulls off the leather gloves from the woman's hands, tracing the lines of her palms and the shape of her knuckles.

To Aerith's amusement, Tifa is blushing.

"Pretty," she says, leaning forward to press a chaste kiss to the fighter's lips. Tifa mumbles something in reply, her bangs hiding her eyes as her head is cast down timidly. Aerith giggles, and slides closer, her arms loosly draped around the other woman's bare waist. She reaches up to fiddle with the tips of Tifa's shoulder length hair, remembering that, once upon a time, it had been a flowing waterfall of obsidian.

She squeaks when Tifa pins her to the ground, again, arms on either side of her body. The fighter's hips fit snugly into the cradle of hers, and God, it feels fantastic. Aerith sighs, gently scraping her nails down the woman's spine. Tifa shudders, and she can feel kisses drifting over her exposed neck. She gives a little hum of content, smiling softly and titling her head slightly. She hugs her close, whispers, "Tifa..." and arches her hips. Electricity zings up her spine, causing her to gasp, and the fighter's own, choked reaction is loud in her ear.

"A-Aer..." Tifa hisses. Her muscles are shaking beneath Aerith's hands, and she turns her head to bury her face in the crook of her friend's neck, whimpering softly. She pushes up, deliberatly, unable to stop. Tifa makes the same, choked sound in her throat, and presses down. Aerith lets out a tiny cry, barely audibal, and her legs wind around Tifa's hips, tilting her head back. The fighter pushes up, her hands slipping over the flower girl's, and uses her leverage to push a little harder, a little faster. A curtain of raven wing strands, Tifa's hair, falls around their faces, swaying with the movement.

"Tifa...oh Tifa..." Aerith's breath hitches, and she leans up, to pepper her partner with kisses on her chin, her jawline, her lips.

"I can't stop," the fighter says, and her voice is tinged with a little fear. Her strength is frightening, and she doesn't want to hurt the fragile woman beneath her. "I..."

"Don't," she groans, pulling Tifa closer. "Don't...stop...please..." The slow, rythmic movement of their hips is, quite frankly, driving her insane. Fire races over her body, chasing away the loneliness she'd been ignoring, and she can't breathe.

"Aerith," Tifa growls, and the sound is deliciously primal and erotic, hitting something deep in her soul and making the pressure in her belly that much tighter. "I...faster..."

"Yes," she hisses in relief, and the fighter increases the tempo, to her delight. "Oh yes...yes..."

The surge and grind of hips make her senses reel; wildly, perhaps a bit desperatly, she kisses Tifa with lips and teeth and tongue, small sounds slipping from her throat. The taste and smell of the other woman finally snaps the coil, and she arches up to give out a small, orgasmic cry that loosely resembles the syllables of Tifa's name. The fighter drives harder, sweat slicked skin against skin, and joins Aerith in the break, her voice wavery as she cries, "Aerith..."

When Tifa wakes up, she isn't with Aerith, nor is she in the Promised Land. She's in her bed, her sheets toasty and warm, and a single, pink ribbon in her hand. Her gloves are missing too, she notices. She sits up and pads to the kitchen, the hard-wood floor warm against her bare feet.

He is there, looking for all the world a lost little puppy.

"Hey," she greets, but there is none of the silly, school girl warmth she'd held for him once; years of abuse has made sure the fairytale image of him is forever banished.

"Hi," is his reply. He purses his lips. "You've seen her, right?"

She wonders how he knows. "Yeah."

Cloud smiles, actually smiles, and laces his fingers together. "That's good."

"What about you?" Her voice is slightly bitter when she says, "Found your forgiveness yet?"

He has the decency to look down. "Yeah." He catches her eye. "You found yours too."

Tifa is confused by his meaning, but the pink ribbon in her hand is proof. She smiles softly, turning away. Now that Cloud's back, Denzel would be coming back, and Marlene, if Barret is still working. She walks back to her bedroom and sits at the piano, planning to write something happy this time, and her lips spread into a full blown grin when she sees the flower petals strewn amongst the keys.

"...How romantic."