A/N: Written in response to the Fanfic50, 25 fics + 25 icons (for icons, please visit the fanfic50 community). The Cloud/Tifa relationship described in 50 words. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. For Entertainment Purposes Only.
Prompt: #9 Appreciate
Summary: There wasn't a thing that he didn't.
Sephiroth asked me what it was that I cherished the most. All so that he could have the pleasure of taking it away from me. The reason for it had been a way to taunt me. To fill me with a sense of despair. He'd wanted me to picture all the images of the ones that I cared about, so that he would know them as clearly as I did. I knew that his intent had been to fill me with fear and hopeless defeat, so that he could savor his revenge against me. What he hadn't counted on was that by reminding me of all those people, it gave me enough strength to ignore my wounds and beat him... again. Which, Zack had reminded me of and I was glad for the reminder from him. Even though, really, I hadn't really forgotten that I'd already beaten Sephiroth twice. Because I'd already known and marveled at that. Heck, everyone knew that and it was because of that, that Sephiroth was so determined to taunt me like he had been. I'd just been too much of an idiot to accept what everyone else already knew. Things also got easier the more we did it, right? If I could beat him twice before, I could do it a third time. I was the only one that was holding me back. Everyone was already all ahead of me. It was simple and it was obvious.
That was one of the things that I miss most about Zack. His unfailing way of making everything sound so simple. Zack had loved every aspect of life and despite everything, had never accepted that he was a monster. Anyone who had known Zack would never have thought him one either, because he wasn't. No matter what anyone else told him. Being what he was and who he was, made him, him and it's why his being in the Lifestream with Aerith was definitely a good thing. Every plain needed a little Zack and I'm lucky enough to have a piece of him always with me. Zack wouldn't have taken so long to see what I do now.
For too long I beat myself up about not living up to the promise I'd made to Zack on that hillside. How I had to live a life for two people. My vow to take on Zack's dreams and live how he would have lived. I was to do all the things that he hadn't been able to do himself. It took me way too long to realize that I was looking at it all wrong. That instead of keeping things simple, like Zack totally would have, I'd gone off the deep end. I had complicated things that weren't complicated at all. Simple wasn't stressful. Which is probably why Zack never seemed stressed out about anything. To live. To live and live well. To appreciate what I have and cherish those that I love. Simple and already in front of me and I'd almost thrown it all away by wallowing in self pity and self disgust.
Sometimes I wonder why Zack hadn't smacked me upside the head about my confusion with Aerith. I'm sure he wanted to. I'm sure he was frustrated too. Cause I knew how I felt about Tifa. I knew that I wanted to be with her. But I'd also known that Zack had wanted to live with Aerith in that same way. I knew how he had felt about her. I took that all wrong too and I just wish Aerith had been more upfront about what she had suspected about me instead of being coy. I know it's given Tifa an insecurity about my feelings that shouldn't ever be there. My feelings for her have never changed. I don't deserve Tifa anymore than I did when I was a kid. Trying to be worthy didn't add up to actually being worthy. I'd failed that too. Miserably. But I'm gonna make it up to her. I have the rest of my life to do it and I'm not going to waste anymore time.
When I told Sephiroth there wasn't a thing that I didn't cherish, I meant it. Good with the bad, him included. I appreciate him too. Maybe more than anyone may think. He'd been my hero and larger than life in my eyes. But he'd let his own insecurities and his cockiness become his downfall. He could have chosen differently and he'd had the backing of people who'd cared about him, me included, if he had. But instead of relying on them, his pride got in the way and he lost his head. I can't afford to make those same mistakes. Denzel considers me his hero, like I had considered Sephiroth mine. I can't ever let what happened to Sephiroth happen to me too. I can't be selfish anymore and... I don't think I like being selfish either.
So yeah. All it took was a well placed question, at the right time, to put me back on track. For that, I'll always appreciate the good that can come from the bad. I'm just glad I figured it out before it was too late and have been given a second chance to make things right. I have another chance to live and to live with Tifa. That, is what I appreciate the most.