Hihi! I've written a one-shot, since it doesn't seem like I get the concept of updating my multi-chapter. Oh well. At least my writing mood is back, hooray! Well, enjoy this little rather cute thing. I love it, and for once I feel smart, coming up with the idea for it ^^
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Final Fantasy VII. You know it, I know it, SE know it.
DEDICATION: This one-shot is dedicated one of my bestest buddies ever, PastelSweet! I hope that you'll like it ^^
"...And thus, the third and last war ended, and the world found peace. And we've kept this peace ever since, isn't that great? We really learned a lesson back then, we can't drain our planet of its energy, or it will die. Any questions?"
It was almost three o'clock, a warm and sunny summer Friday in New Midgar. The children, who were at the age of twelve years old, would normally have been tired by now, wanting to go home. But this special day, their teacher had been clever enough to save the most interesting subject of the day to the last lesson. Now, the children had been listening carefully for over two hours, with only a short break between the Second Jenova War and the DeepGround War.
Hands begun to rise in the air. The teacher smiled, and pointed her finger at a dark-skinned girl, small for her age with huge, brown eyes.
"There won't be another company like the Shin-Ra, right miss?" the girl asked.
"Hopefully not. After Rufus Shinra had realised his mistakes, he did everything he possibly could to restore the world to its former glory. It was rumoured, but never proved, that he was the one who funded the WRO. And who would want to take the Planet's energy away from her, when they know that all this beautiful greenery would disappear?"
The teacher looked out through the open window, as a gentle summer breeze made her chestnut hair dance in the air, and the sun glimpsing through the foliage of the trees outside reflected in her glasses. Out there was New Midgar, rebuilt in harmony with nature, where Old Midgar and Edge had been. Trees, grass, bushes and flowers everywhere, houses in nature's own colours, lots of parks and no planet-killing electric companies to be seen. Humanity had learned its lesson; now it lived in peace alongside the Planet.
"Can't we visit the graves of the members of AVALANCHE some day, miss? They have got to be buried somewhere near, right?"
The teacher smiled at the red-headed boy and shook her head.
"It's wonderful to hear that you're so interested, Samy, but I'm afraid we can't. No one knows where they are buried. If we did, their graves would be trampled by thousands of feet. No, the great heroes of AVALANCHE are all resting in a secret place. Yes, Yunume?"
The raven-haired girl frowned, as if thinking of something very difficult to understand.
"But, miss, how can their graves be so secret, if every single person in the world knew who they were? Didn't Tifa Lockhart have a bar where the AVALANCHE memorial is today? You said they all used to come there at least once a year to see each other, and normal people were still in the bar, right? So, everyone in Edge must've known that it was them. Who buried them when they died? Someone must've known..."
"Yes, Yunume, it is a mystery indeed. Who buried them? Didn't anyone place gravestones where the greatest heroes of all time rested? How could such things be kept secret? Nobody knows, but still, a secret it is. Now, children, I want you to write an essay until Monday. Call it 'My favourite AVALANCHE hero', and write who you liked the best, and why. The longer the better! See you all at Monday!"
The class, seventeen kids, didn't sigh and moan as they usually did when they got homework, instead they looked excited. The teacher smiled; she knew that this was the favourite subject in school for most of the kids, all her previous classes had loved hearing the tales of the great heroes of past.
The children left the classroom, and got out in the sun. They quickly dispersed, heading home either by themselves or with one or several friends. Daizena and Samy grouped with their best friends, another boy named Faiku, whose hair was so blond it was almost white, and two girls, Manyu and Equa. Together, the group started moving towards the nearest park, Park Tuesti, named after the founder of the WRO. At the entrance of the park they stopped and bought an ice-cream each from the candy stall, and then continued until they reached their favourite park bench, where they sat down. Across the path, a few metres to their right, sat a man and his dog on another bench. Dogs were not allowed to be on the seats; however, the man didn't seem to care and neither did the kids. Furthermore, even if they did, they wouldn't just tell a complete stranger that his dog had to be on the ground, kept on a leash.
"So, who are you gonna write about?" Samy asked.
"I'm gonna write about Tifa. She was definitely the coolest", Daizena responded. "She proved that girls can be really strong, too! Plus she was like everybody's mum or sister. She kept them together as a family, all the time."
"Tifa was cool, but not as cool as Cloud. After all, he was the one who defeated Sephiroth" Manyu protested. "And he had the coolest hair ever. Without him, they never would've been able to win, because the others weren't strong enough to beat Sephiroth."
"No, Barret was the coolest", Faiku said. "I mean, come on guys, he was huge, and black, and had that cute little adoptive daughter who he took care of. And he had a gun-arm. That's just awesome! But, I really like Yuffie too. A materia obsessed princess, that's pretty awesome too."
"Do you think it's okay to write about one of the Turks?" Samy wondered. "'Cause I really liked Reno. He was the coolest, hands down."
"Miss Kaeji said AVALANCHE members..." Daizena pointed out.
"Aw well, then I'll choose Nanaki instead. I mean come on, a furry kitty-puppy?"
"The only reason you want to write about Reno and Nanaki is because they've got the same hair colour as you!" Faiku teased. This was true; Samy always thought that red-heads were better than everybody else.
"It's not! They were the best, that's why!" Samy yelled.
"I liked Cait Sith, too", Manyu said. "Now that was a furry kitty."
"Come on!" Samy exclaimed. "He was a robot, and a traitor!"
"He was not! He was a spy, yes, but he went over to the good side later! I mean hel-lo, he was controlled by the man who founded the WRO. Any bells ringing?"
"He was still a robot. They can't be furry kitties, even if they look like they were."
"Hey, Equa, who're you gonna choose?" Daizena asked.
Equa smiled shyly; she knew that her hero of choice wasn't really a part of AVALANCHE.
"I like Zack."
"He wasn't part of AVALANCHE."
"I know... But Cloud wouldn't have been what he was without Zack, right? He fought with Zack's sword, with Zack's strength and Zack's memories. It was Zack who saved him...it was Zack who was there when Cloud was close to giving in, Zack who gave him the might he needed to beat Sephiroth once and for all. That's...that's why I like Zack."
They were quiet for a while, everyone carefully considering what Equa just had said.
"...And he was really cute, too."
The three girls started to giggle, and the boys rolled their eyes.
"Yeah, he was", Daizena tittered, "but Vincent Valentine was more good-looking."
"And Rufus Shinra was a cutie, too", Manyu added. The girls giggled even more.
"You girls are sooo silly", Faiku moaned.
"And you boys all drool over Tifa 'cause she's got big breasts!" Equa responded. The boys blushed; and the girls started laughing out loud. When they finally managed to stop, they had to catch their breaths for a couple of seconds. The boys had started laughing too, and now Samy inhaled the fresh, warm summer air and said:
"What do you say we go looking for their graves? What if we found them! We'd be famous!"
"It's not a good idea", Equa said and frowned. "It is as miss Kaeji said. Their graves would get trampled. We must honour their memory, even if their bodies have since long turned to dust. The DeepGround War...it was 507 years ago."
"Wow, they'd be pretty old now, wouldn't they?" Daizena said, pondering.
"Yeah, over 500 years! How good-looking would your Vincent and Zack and Rufus be now, eh?" Faiku teased.
"Mmm..." Manyu said, her eyes shining. "I just love old men."
They all started laughing again, more this time, and it took over a minute before the laughter ceased.
From their right, a deep voice said:
"They are talking about us, Nanaki."
"Yeas, Vincent, they are", a lighter, smoother voice answered.
The kids turned their heads. It must've been the man on the other bench who had just spoken. He was dressed in a black cotton shirt, black leather trousers and black leather boots with silver buckles. His long, black hair reached all the way to his waist, and was kept in a thick ponytail. But if he was the one who had talked, who answered him? The dog?
"They called you...a furry kitty-puppy."
"I heard that. Most embarrassing. At least they didn't call you a vampire."
"Hn. I thought that I would never have to be called that again, not after Yuffie died."
"We must honour her memory."
"Well, that is not exactly the best way of doing that, at least I do not think so."
"You're right, as always, Vince."
"Another thing...they seem to believe that we are dead, Nan."
"After all, most of us are, Vince. How long was it since Yuffie departed for the Lifestream?"
"430 years ago. She was 96. 96 years old, and yet just as spirited and jesting as she was when she was sixteen..." He sighed.
"You still miss her."
"Of course I do. I miss them all."
The man and the dog were silent for a while, the kids still looking at them, their eyes wide.
"Talking about spirited...", the dog continued, "my girl is killing me. If Yuffie only was as calm as Cloud..."
The raven-haired man laughed. It was a warm, joyful laugh.
"You really gave them suiting names, Nan."
"Honouring the memories of my friends, our friends. Oh, wait, I never told you, did I? Deneh's pregnant."
"Again? I thought you said that your cubs, or at least one of them, were killing you?"
"Hah! It's true, it's true. But...the happiness they bring to me... It can't be compared to anything."
"I guess so. I never had any children, as you know, but I think I can imagine at least parts of the joy it must give you. Do you know how many new lives are growing inside Deneh?"
The dog nodded. Two thick braids of its mane dangled from behind its ears when it did so; two polished wooden pearls shone in the sunlight.
"Three. Two females and one male. We've decided to call them Aerith, Tifa and Cid."
"Let us hope that your son doesn't start chain-smoking."
"No worries. Have you ever tried to hold a cigarette with paws?"
"...I have not. By the way, Nan...does it not feel kind of unfair to name your children after some of your friends only?"
"Yes. But I believe that I and Deneh will have more cubs, although we'll probably wait twenty or so years first."
"And didn't I tell you about the young, newly married couple who got their first child, a baby boy? They wanted me and Deneh, as the guardians of Cosmo Canyon, to name him. Deneh let me do it."
"Well... The boy was big and rather chubby, so I named him Barret."
They both laughed; the man's deep, a little raspy chuckle, and the beast's smooth humming. They laughed like old friends did, friends that had known each other for a very long time.
"If I get another son, I will name him Reeve. Then I'll let Deneh decide too, of course. But she's always told me that I might name our cubs after my friends, because she thinks it is important that I do honour their memory. And she likes the thought of her children being named after the greatest heroes of all time."
"Don't forget yourself, Nanaki."
"Thanks, Vincent. But remembering my friends is the most important thing. What do you do to not forget them?"
The man leaned his head backwards, closed his eyes and seemed lost in thought. Dreamingly, like from a faraway place, he answered:
"I think of them. Every day, every hour, every minute. I remember their faces, their smiles, their laughs. I remember their eyes, their voices, their thoughts. I remember their comments, their battle cries, and I remember the tears we shed together. One thing is sure in this world; those dear memories will never fade away. Never."
He opened his eyes again. They were filled with tears. He smiled and quickly wiped them away.
"I especially remember her."
"You mean Yuffie?"
"You know I do. You know I loved her, although I never admitted it. Not even when she was dying. That... that I regret."
He shook his head again; smiled.
"None of us will forget them, Nan. What do you say we go visit them?"
"You mean in Aerith's church?"
"Of course. And let's stop by the AVALANCHE memorial first, and think of good times long lost, when we met up every year at 7th Heaven."
"Good idea, Vince."
The man rose from the park bench; the dog jumped down on the ground. They went along the path, but stopped in front of the five children who were still staring at them.
"Kids, never stop believing in the unbelievable", the man said. His eyes glowed gently, and they had the same colour as blood.
The kids watched the man and the beast as they continued down the path, until they disappeared behind a crook. They all thought the same thing: They had seen those two just half an hour ago. There had been pictures of them in their history book, and the caption had informed the reader of that these warriors were Vincent Valentine and Nanaki of Cosmo Canyon.
They had just seen two of the great AVALANCHE heroes, and they were alive. Not ghosts, not phantoms, but real people. They looked at each other. This was such an unimaginable event that none of them ever even thought of running after the heroes and ask for their autographs, or start screaming that the defenders of the Planet were alive. They were too shocked.
In a since long abandoned, ruined church in the old Sector 5, which had never been rebuilt, Vincent and Nanaki were sitting respectively lying at the edge of the huge pool of water which covered what had been Aerith's flowerbed. In the water , on the bottom, resting among the yellow and white flowers, the bodies of six people were lying. Aerith's healing water had not made them come to life again, but it had turned them back to how they had looked when they defeated DeepGround. Vincent's gaze wandered from face to face; from memory to memory, and he knew that Nanaki was doing the same thing.
It didn't pain him any more to see them, instead it soothed his soul. Every year, when he and Nanaki met in Midgar, they went here, just sitting side by side and looking at the since long dead warriors in the water. And this year, just like every year before, his gaze stopped at the last and youngest member of AVALANCHE.
Yuffie... Forgive me for never speaking out my love for you.
Even in death she had a tiny smile on her lips, where she was sleeping for eternity embraced by flowers and crystal water. And Vincent knew that he would keep her smile with him for ever, never to be forgotten. That was the least he could do for her, and for the rest of the warriors resting here, here where it all once begun.
The sun shone down on the sparkling water through the hole in the roof.
You gotta admit that was kinda cute, wasn't it? I hope that you all liked it, so now please Review? I'll give you a rainbow pony if you do!