The phrase "swan song" is a reference to an ancient belief that the Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) is completely mute during its lifetime until the moment just before it dies, when it sings one beautiful song.
The last act or manifestation of someone or something; farewell appearance.Everyone else...I could lie to them. I could tell them that everything would be okay...that in the end, it would all work out, even if that meant I was lying. No matter how gruesome or torn, I could always smile, and say something that would give them hope. I wanted to give everyone hope. I could.
But not him. I couldn't lie to him.
I couldn't give him hope.
I have always had visions, for as long as I can remember. I think I was born with them, and I have no idea how or why. I also have no idea why they are predominantly a person's death. That is just what they have been, and what they will always be I think.
My mother died when I was seven; I had seen her death many times in my mind, but never spoke of it. After she died, though, I couldn't stay silent for a while. I scared some of the townspeople with my visions.
My mother, though, knew as well as I did the fate that awaited her. However, despite the fact that death had been before my mother for over two years, when she passed, my father suffered greatly. His only one condolence of my mother's death was that she did not live to see the beginning of the war with Wutai. You see, my mother was part Wutain, and once the war started, so did long buried prejudices, foolish ones at that.
The war started when I was nine. I am now twenty, and the war shows no signs of stopping.
When I turned sixteen, the boys went to war, and I was sent to Midgar. Soldiers passed through our towns frequently, and with them brought the vision of the destruction of my tiny home. I saw flames engulf my village, and I saw my father die amongst them.
Such a vision could not be hidden, and so instead of warning the mayor (he had never felt comfortable around me anyways) my father shipped me off to Midgar to save me. I tried to convince him to come with me, but he refused. He said my visions had always been true, and that he could not deny fate.
I believe my father had wanted to die for a very, very long time. I refuse to be like that. I refuse to want to die.
It is a blessing, though, that I never encountered someone from Midgar that would've given me visions that hinted of the future and city that awaited me while I was still in my home town.
My father surely would've never sent me, and would've kept me on the rock of Mt. Nibel, to die in the flames with him.
It is two o'clock when I finally stand, stretching my toes; I've been sitting down too long. My head throbs slightly, and I put fingers to my temple. Forcing visions, especially those not pertaining to death always give me head aches.
I answer the door before Barret can knock on it. He growls, glaring at me; he hates it when I do that.
Barret is my landlord; he owns the club beneath my small apartment, and the boarding house across the street that he and his daughter live in.
"Well?" He doesn't even completely form the question anymore. He comes here everyday to ask the question that everyone wants the answer to.
I shake my head grimly; I have not glimpsed any end to this war.
He shakes his head slowly in response, as if he already knew the answer. He's been wanting to know the answer since he found out about my visions. He wants to ensure a safe future for Marlene. I can't look at Marlene's future, though, I refuse. I refuse to see how that girl dies; I refuse to see if her life is worth living in this time. I think he's almost grateful of that, though. It gives him hope that his daughter can have a normal life, or at least, a semblance to one.
Barret walks his way into my apartment. "Have you been sleeping all morning? Marlene missed you at breakfast."
Ah... I forgot.
"I was...distracted." He knows I can't sleep in, not really.
Barret spots the tiny hand mirror laying on my table. He walks over to it, and picks it up.
"Any luck?" He asks, holding the tiny mirror in his massive hand.
Sometimes I wish I could see into the past, so I could know how exactly Barret came about his strange prosthetic arm.
"No," I say, shaking my head. I knew it would be so. "It's pointless to try... I just... had this feeling this morning... a pull, or maybe a push, right at my navel."
"You ain't preggie, are ya?"
"Sorry... had to ask. So...you had a feelin... and you think it has to do with you?"
I nod my head. "I've never felt anything like it before. Something is going to happen..."
He frowns. "Maybe it has something to do with the war."
"Maybe..." I shake my head to rid the thoughts. "I'll go pick Marlene up...cheer her up for missing breakfast this morning. Lord knows what you fed her."
"Hey...watch it." But he nods his head. "She'll like that. Listen." He places the mirror back onto the table. "Another squad is getting in from Wutai today... prolly already here. They'll be hitting up the clubs tonight." He points a finger at me. "Watch yourself."
"I'm serious girl! You wanna get hurt? Those men are ruthless. They've seen things...makes 'em dead to the rest of us. Mentally speaking."
"Seriously? I can handle myself Barret." I take a menacing step towards him.
"Hey." He holds up his hand defensively. "I don't need you knockin out another tooth of mine. I know you can. All I'm saying, is that they're SOLDIERs. Not your typical guys."
I put my hands on my hips. "And I'm not your typical girl, either."
Barret rolls his eyes. "Women are crazy." He heads for the door.
"Except for your baby!" I call after him.
"Except for my baby!" He yells as he shuts the door.
I enjoy picking up and taking Marlene to school. The school is one of the precious few places, public ones, at that, that offer the wonders of trees and grass. Someone wasn't thinking straight when they designed this city.
You see, the slums, where the club and apartment are located, are covered by a metal roof. The plate, as it is better known as. The high end businesses and families live on top of the plate, and restrict any type of garden or park to filth like those of the underworld. Like me. And I grew up in a mountain town, a place where there was always dirt, grass, flowers, rain, sunshine and trees. I want these things, all the time.
And luckily the school is located above the plate. At least they realized children need sun and trees growing up.
I walk over towards a bench beneath an apple tree. I relax as I sit down, staring up at the blue sky that is so very rare, and also, very tainted. The smog from the city always turns the sky a sickly grayish color. Blue skies are more rare than grass.
A man shuffles past me, flipping through a folder in his hands. He's young, not much older than me, and has so much life before him it seems.
Bullet holes riddle his chest, and he inhales sharply, grasping at his chest...as if he can heal his lungs... as if he can heal his heart. He glares up at his murders, the fervently whispered name of the woman he loves on his lips as his own heart kills him, pumping blood from his many wounds. Betrayal hangs thick in the air, but he will not give up. He has to reach her... he has to. He promised her...
I glance away guiltily.
I do not try to stop my visions for everyone, only one person: Marlene. It's hard, very difficult, because every person I pass, I see their death in a heartbeat. I throw up all pretenses to keep Marlene's future from my eyes. I refuse to see it. I block it out at all costs. And it's incredibly hard, because my visions are amplified by touch and eye contact, and I'm always carrying, or holding Marlene's hands or looking at her.
It's painful, but I feel it is worth it.
I can't change the future...I can only see it. I've tried before. I tried with my father, though it was his own stubbornness that condemned him to that death.
There was a woman, once, that I met working a small deli beneath the plate. She was far too kind to have grown up beneath the plate, but she had. She volunteered at hospitals on Wednesday nights, and worked at a day care center on the weekends. She was also, achingly beautiful and incredibly smart.
She was going to die a horrendous death.
The next time that it would pour above the plate, and the drains would filter down beneath the plate and flood our world, she would be raped, and then murdered coming home from volunteering at the hospital.
I could not allow this injustice. I have seen many gruesome deaths, and situations, but this was too cruel.
I befriended her quickly, and the night it rained, I met her at the hospital. I took her out for coffee, and then I walked with her home, using an excuse to borrow a scarf I had seen her wear once.
She handed it over gratefully, and we chatted on her couch for two hours. Then, I left, and I waited outside in the pouring rain until her light turned off, and she went to bed. I went home so happy, so satisfied, clutching a grey scarf in my hand. My entire outlook on life had changed. I could save people now.
My mother had said once that you must take the good with the bad. I thought that meant that I could see their futures, warn them, but I could do nothing else. That was the bad.
It changed in that instance.
Her building burned down that night...within a torrential rainstorm. She died, burned to death, or died from smoke asphyxiation. I sometimes think this fate was better than the one that awaited her, but...
Death will not be denied. The moment I saved her life, I saw that she had a million futures and no future all at once. By all accounts she should be dead, but she wasn't. She was smiling at something I said.
And then she died. So quick. Maybe a moment after I left.
I have never tried to save a person's life after that. I cannot change the future, I can only see it for what it is. With this grim truth, I have learned how to lie to people, how to conceal what is coming for them. I give them hope when there is none. I think sometimes, this is what I'm supposed to do. No one should regret living.
Even my best friend, Barret, I give him hope, and the death I see while glorious and completely heroic, it is still a death I feel far too early for his time.
The bell rings within the school, and I look towards it.
Another man in black clothing moves past me, exiting one of the short buildings next to the school.
The man lies on the ground, a gash on his forearm, but more excruciating is the burning, gaping hole in his chest. He can't feel his fingers, his arms... his vision is closing up on him, the blackness coming from all corners, and he shivers beneath the hot, Wutai sun.
I wince, looking away.
As I said before, someone wasn't thinking straight when they designed this city. You see, the school is nestled amongst many military offices, and once a squad comes in from Wutai or anywhere, they are sent here for debriefing.
It's not that I believe or feel how Barret does about military men, and the way war changes them... it is just their deaths are usually far more gruesome and painful than the average person walking on the street. This man has death on his doorstep, and while he probably knows that it comes with the territory, he does not realize how close he is to it.
Perhaps during his next tour of duty...
"Tifa!" Marlene is belting her way across the grass and to the bench. I grin wide at the sight of her, as she clumsily pushes brown strands of hair from her pale face.
"Look! I made a picture of daddy!" She thrusts a macaroni picture of Barret's face at me, the macaroni's painted jet black. It's got a glob of glue beneath his nose, and looks like the largest booger on this side of the planet. He'll stick this to his refrigerator in a heart beat.
I take it, smiling appreciatively. "It's very accurate."
"I know. That's what Ms. Teacher said!"
"Marlene,"I frown, reprimanding her. I stand, taking her hand as we walk towards the train station that will take us back beneath the plate. A vicious light pushes at my mind, an urge to tell me what's going to happen to this little girl, but I block it out, ignoring her future. "You should say her name."
Marlene groans. "But she says it's okay! She knows it's hard to pronounce."
The girl can say pronounce...she can say a last name.
"Marlene..." I hum.
"Fine," she grumbles.
I grin at her as we walk past the military building.
A brush– skin on skin, arm against arm– and the world cuts off, in a swirl of gray.
He's there, the bullet wedged between two of his ribs. It'll save him, for the moment, but he doubts the next shot will be so lucky. He has to kill him before he fires, because his death will be guaranteed with that gun.Hell, he can shoot him after he mortally wounds him. He caused this...it's his fault and he will perish in agony. Such guilt, such pain and ache he feels. Such satisfaction at bringing this blade through his enemy's heart. Two deaths in one moment. The second shot. Relief...relief at dying... finally, he's thinking. The happiness mingles with the sadness, and his breath is a sigh so twisted and confused it hurts worse than his wounds.
I feel myself jerk to a stop, gasping in full surprise. I whip my head around, my eyes turn fleetingly to see the man that will die and murder in the same instant, not even in Wutai, but here...in Midgar.
Marlene tugs on my hand as I stop, but I ignore her.
The stranger turns, his hair a yellow blonde that sticks out at all directions; he's wearing the uniform of a First Class SOLDIER...incredibly dangerous and unpredictable.
His face is serious, smooth olive skin interrupted by the occasional small scar. His nose is straight as an arrow...most soldiers have a bump, a hint of a broken nose in the past. He doesn't. He's perfect. His scars are perfect.
His eyes are outlined by pale lashes and ginger freckles, and they are the most startlingly blue I've seen in four years. They look like the sky above Nibelhiem. They look like home.
I take this all in a heartbeat, and my heart is racing like chocobo galloping across open land.
The man's brows lower in an emotion he conceals, something I can tell he's an expert at.
His voice is near smooth, a touch of gravel and rocks on the lower end. "Never seen a SOLDIER before?"
He asks it like I should be awed, like I am awed by it. But I'm not... I've seen plenty of SOLDIERs, probably as many as he has. And now that he has said that, I notice the tell tale sign of green mako hinting about his pupils.
It does not taint the blue in his eyes, not for me at least.
"Tifa? Tifa come on! Daddy's waiting." Marlene tugs against my arm again.
The man's eyes flick to Marlene for an instant, and the break of eye contact breaks my trance.
I bow my head apologetically to him. "I'm sorry for hitting you." It's the best excuse I can come up with. I don't raise my eyes to his again, afraid that I'll lose myself in another gruesome image or the color of his eyes.
I turn as swiftly as possible, not giving him the chance to reply, but I don't think he was too concerned with replying so I don't feel rude or guilty.
Now I am the one tugging Marlene along. She looks over her shoulder, ever the curious child.
"Who was he Tifa? Did you know him?"
I shake my head stupidly. "No...just his eyes..."
"What about them?"
"The color...the blue..." My eyes widen though, and I remember. SOLDIERs, mako, enhanced sight, night vision, strength, healing, and hearing.
I glance over my shoulder as we turn the corner.
He's watching me with those eyes, and I can't read anything else about him.
His future is as blank to me as a piece of paper.
A/N: This story was inspired by many different things, and the two definitions come from wikipedia, and respectively. This, in my opinion, is easily different than anything I've ever done before. I reaaaaaaaaaaaally love this story, and want to tell it, so I hope you guys will enjoy it as much as I enjoy writing it. I feel like this first chapter is a little rough, but that's something I personally need to work on; I think all my first chapters need work. Consider it like, a gift, for all you so patiently waiting for other stories to be updated. I'm going to try and get everything updated ASAP but this story has consumed me lately. Till next time, loves. I hope you all enjoy it very much.