Too light...her body feels too light. Is this what a body is supposed to feel like after someone has died? A husk? Empty?
But that's wrong. I saw Wutai with my own eyes. I saw death, and I held friends, and their bodies were heavy, held down by human cares and thoughts still present in their eyes after death. Glassy, dead, but only thinking about the death that was a breath away.
Not her. Her eyes were peaceful, as if she saw this coming. But she always lived with death, so I guess she never feared it.
Barret opens the door slowly, a breeze gusting into the house. On the table, behind him, my eyes are caught by a shallow bowl, with a piece of paper burning in it.
Probably AVALANCHE business.
But the breeze catches the last bits of burning paper, and blows it to the floor. Barret jerks in hurried, mechanical movements, and stomps down on the small bit of paper. He lifts his foot, ashes crumbling around the edges of the yellowed paper.
And then I look at him, and he's looking at the limp body held in my arms.
My throat feels rough as I speak, sore from screaming. I still don't know how I'm holding onto my sanity. I'm drained. I feel as if life has been sucked from me.
"We need to leave soon. They'll come here." I'm sure I've created a scene, carrying a dead body through the streets of Midgar. But no one questions a SOLDIER.
"Right." His eyes are rimmed, red. I expected him to throttle me when he saw her. I haven't told anyone...it makes me nervous, antsy like there's a thought that's crawling under my skin that I don't want to know.
"Could...she see her own?"
The question is obvious, laced with traces of apprehension. If she could, if she did, if she could've saved herself– I know she couldn't but I could've– if she died knowing, without telling me, I know I'll go crazy.
I think I already have, being this calm, but...
I told her no more green, no mako, and I'll stick true to that, if I can.
Barret hesitates, his mouth hanging open for half a second.
And then there's light footsteps, and a moment of fear flashes through me because Tifa dead is the last thing Marlene should see.
But it isn't Marlene. It's Aeris, clutching a fist to her mouth, knuckles whiter than her already pale skin. Her eyes blink, and flutter, and tears form.
"Both of us..." she whispers. "...I felt her...snuffed out like a light. I...never realized how big her presence was until it was gone." She covers her face quickly with her hands.
"Aeris got here an hour ago." Barret offers.
So that's how he knew.
But it's only been an hour? It feels like a day. I'm so stupid. So weak. If I hadn't passed out...if I hadn't lost to him...she'd be alive.
I feel anger surge into my chest, stabbing at my heart with little pinpricks. First Zack. Now... now
"ShinRa has to die." The words are hard in my mouth, and green swells at the edges of my vision. It's always there, the green, but just at the edges...I can never directly look at it, just catch it in the corner of my eyes. But now it presses against Aeris's form, and threatens to swallow her whole.
"The right way."
My eyes snap to Barret, and the green brushes back down. "What?"
His eyes hold conviction, and I see a plan, an idea already laid out behind them. "We do it right. For her death, they all burn. That tower will burn to the fucking ground before I take my last breath, and ShinRa will burn with it."
My eyes flicker to her neck. I don't look at her face, so close to mine. Her skin is still warm, but only because of me, and my mako.
I'm part of that tower, then. I must burn with it.
"Fine. But leave ShinRa to me. Give me that, or I'll take it."
Barret gives a curt nod.
"Cloud..." Aeris's voice is hesitant, and quiet. "We need to take care of her, ok?"
I nod my head, and I follow Aeris to the couch.
As I lay her body down softly on the couch, I hear Barret walk out of the room.
"Does Marlene know?"
There's a noise, like a cough, from her, as she kneels beside of the couch, brushing hair back from her face. Her skin looks like it could break around the edges of her mouth, little cracks of a frown splintering down through her cheeks. She breathes heavily, sighing. "No. Not yet."
I nod my head, thoughtfully. The green threatens to spill forward, as it has done since I found her body. But I focus on her hands, long fingers, bruised knuckles and broken fingernails.
"She's too light." The words slip from my mouth, a secret I had held to myself.
Aeris sighs again, standing slowly. "There is a myth, about Cetra souls, and human souls. Human souls remain within the body, so that when you die, and are buried, your soul can embrace the planet, and rejoin with the lifestream in the most literal terms." She turns her head slightly, looking at me with unnerving eyes. "But Cetra souls leave their bodies when we burn them."
"Because...they stay with the ones they love until they pass, and then they pass into the Promised Land, human, Cetra, whomever they love until they are reborn in the lifestream, or unless they choose to stay there for eternity."
I narrow my eyes. "Do you think Zack is waiting for you?"
Aeris brushes at her skirt, agitated movements. "If the planet wills it. If the myth is true. It's all I have. No." Then she clutches at the skirt, pulling at the fabric above her stomach. "That isn't true."
Then she jerks, as if waking, and remembering I am there. She walks away, slowly, as if in liquid, and I am left with the body of the woman I love.
Love. I never thought I was capable of it. I hadn't included that on my 'to do' list. It was the last thing on my mind, but she was the first, after that day. After she said blue, and I said red.
I don't know why...no one ever struck me like that before. If the planet wills it...if it felt the need to put her in my path...
I finally look at her face, paler than its ever been. Peaceful, but...something lies beneath it...like she's waiting for something...someone–
I can't...breathe. There's something missing in me.
I can't focus.
My eyes drift, landing on the bit of paper crushed beneath Barret's boot minutes before.
We need to get out of this house soon.
I walk over, bending to pick it up. It nearly fractures in my hand, weak and browned at the edges, and dusted with ash, but more importantly graced with familiar hand writing I've seen on grocery lists, crossword puzzles, and little notes for the past month and a half.
I pocket the paper.
Brush my fingers across her forehead one last time.
And let the green swim in a little more.
A/N: So I know it's been a while, but it was difficult on deciding how I wanted to end this story, and I decided not to. So I will be writing a sequel...I felt the way I had previously summed up the ending, and what happened to Tifa was just...too rushed and vague so I decided continue writing. Unfortunately Tifa's story has ended, but I don't feel that the actual STORY has, so I feel that in order to do it justice, I need to continue with a sequel, and this is sort of a 'preview' of what's to come next, and to ultimately explain tifa's seemingly early and totally wrong demise.
But to end with for now, I really appreciate all the comments and feedback I got for this story. I really do love it, and I loved telling it, and I hope, that despite the fact that Tifa is dead that you will read the sequel just to find out why she did sacrifice herself, and why her death was important for the ones she loved. Once again, I can't thank you all enough for your reviews and support, I really do appreciate them, so I hope you'll bear with me while I try to hash out the details to the sequel, which currently is roughly titled 'Cygnus Olor' but that could all change.
Till next time loves