Wow, it's been a while since I actually wrote a Final Fantasy related fic. This one has been nearly complete for about two months now, but I hadn't been able to come up with an ending I was satisfied with. I'm still not, since I get the feeling that this fic is too much like 'Distance Between,' but I'll let the readers decide.:) Please enjoy and apologies for those waiting for updates on my other works. I'm getting out of my writer's block, so expect some updates soon!
Disclaimer: I don't own Dissidia Final Fantasy(or DD012), or any of the characters used in this piece of fiction. I am making no money off of them.
The first time she had shown up to aid him, he chalked it up to some sort of delusion and had pushed the memory to the back of his mind. The second time, she nearly cost him his victory against his enemy. Aside from that, the gentle quirk of her lips had sent something painful shooting through his chest in a place that was usually cold and dormant.
Her eyes stayed with him even in his dreams—or nightmares—and he somehow began to understand what Strife had been ignoring when regarding the female brawler from their world.
This woman was somehow important, with those clear, jade eyes, and the pink that surrounded her. He knew her in a way that no other could claim, Sephiroth reasoned, because why would someone like her show up for a warrior of Chaos?
Moving silently through the Planet's Core, he hoped to either encounter her or the other brunette so that he could finish what he had started. It would be like killing two birds with one stone; he would regain more memories, and he would cause Strife some grief. Sephiroth smirked to himself and glanced at his surroundings slowly.
Pushing his inhuman speed to the limit, he still missed her by seconds, the ends of her chestnut hair slipping through his gloved fingers as she disappeared into her portal. Sephiroth sneered to himself and debated on whether he should follow her or not.
Placing his hand on the hilt of his blade, he stepped back before turning to go.
Returning to his fellow warriors, he purposely sought out Strife, catching the blond in one of his broody moods. "Troubles?" Sephiroth mocked.
Cloud's eyebrows furrowed in slight annoyance. "Apparently you don't have any yourself."
"Oh, but I do, puppet. But I do not bother with chasing after short skirts like you. Did you think no one would notice your absences?" He was being hypocritical, he knew, but found he didn't care.
The blond merely smirked and shrugged one shoulder. "You think yourself above any weakness, don't you? But you chase after your own ghosts from the past. I've noticed your absences, too. Why don't you worry about yourself and stop pestering me?"
Sephiroth made no indication that Cloud's words affected him, and instead continued on his way. "I'll have your woman's blood on my hands soon, Strife," he called before he disappeared.
Foolish puppet, Sephiroth thought to himself. He wouldn't bother chasing anyone because he was very sure she would come to him of her own accord. The brawler was also curious, and the… ah, yes, the flower girl was tied to him and Masamune, and Sephiroth was sure that she felt it as well. He would have them both, and he would destroy them both.
He didn't see her again for a few days, and even then, she was always on his opponent's side. That fact irritated him beyond anything, but he was not willing to admit that he was waiting for her to come to his aid again. He didn't know if she was the one who chose to assist him, or if it was a random occurrence, but the truth of the matter was that he had been expecting her to show up.
There was something in her smile that drove him crazy and not in a good way. It was as if she were keeping a secret from him, or maybe… a memory.
He had attempted to get at the brawler again, but the flower girl had interfered, allowing for the darker brunette to leave their battle unscathed. Before the object of his interest could disappear though, Sephiroth had reached for and had caught nothing but air. At least that had been what he had initially thought. Staring down at the center of his glove, he'd found a pink ribbon resting there.
Darting his gaze up quickly, he saw a tumble of chestnut curls and dancing green eyes before she disappeared once more. Forcing down the growl that rose in his throat, Sephiroth clenched his hand and stuffed the scrap of pink into a hidden pocket. He'd get rid of it later.
The following time that she showed up, it was during one of his clashes with the puppet.
"Stay away from Tifa," Cloud growled in a low, threatening voice.
"My, my. Have I touched a nerve?" Sephiroth asked pleasantly. "She should mind her surroundings better, Strife, otherwise, who knows what kind of tragedy might befall such a pretty girl."
Unable to keep his anger at bay, the foolish boy attacked in a series of jabs that were a touch too sloppy. Going in for the kill, Sephiroth grunted when he was blocked by a barrier of some kind that knocked him back. Glaring up, he was met with a picture that set off images in his head.
She was in prayer.
And it suddenly brought with it memories of her in a different time, a different world, kneeling as he swooped in on her. Without consciously knowing what he was doing, he attacked. Not the puppet, but her. The flower girl. And it wasn't the first time she had perished at the jab of his blade. Masamune seemed to sing with triumph in his hand, but Sephiroth simply stared as she fell, eyes wide and touched with surprise. Then she was gone.
Strife spouted some nonsense about staying away from his pet before he walked away, leaving a disturbed Sephiroth behind. He stared at the spot where she had last been in and easily recalled the memory from their own world. The feeling of power; the peaceful look on her face as he had ended her life; her blood on his hands and on his weapon…
He had killed her and she now taunted him in this world, seeking him and then running away. What had she been thinking? And why had he destroyed her without a second thought when she had started her ultimate attack? He wasn't like the other fools filled with bloodlust, even when he could admit that he enjoyed the battle once it started. Had he been a mindless beast like one of the other Chaos Warriors, he would've killed Strife by now.
Still, it continued to disturb him that she seemed to not fear her murderer. It was obvious to him that the flower girl remembered far more than either he, Strife, or the brawler did, so why wasn't she trying to sabotage him at every battle he had?
Reaching into his pocket, Sephiroth removed the ribbon and stared down at it, wondering why he hadn't already burnt it to ashes. Maybe then he would be able to shove that strange feeling away from his mind and he would be able to return to tormenting Cloud and his girl.
Shaking his head to himself, he began to walk away. He had better things to do than to waste his time thinking about that slip of a girl.
A week later, after doing his fair share of brooding and taking out his moodiness on the likes of Kefka—the disturbing clown—and pretty-boy Kuja, Sephiroth had come to the conclusion that he had lost his mind. He imagined that he had left it with the flower girl after he had impaled her with Masamune the first time…
Bullshit, he thought inwardly. Normally he wasn't one to resort to cursing, but he was in the mood for some verbal abuse—swearwords included. Too bad the puppet wasn't around. It wasn't guilt that he felt over having attacked her, but he did regret the fact that he hadn't been able to catch her before it had happened. He didn't know where his interest stemmed from, or why he wished she were still around, but the feeling was there, festering in his chest.
He sat up from his slouch when the echo of a gentle laugh reached his ears. His sharp eyes darted to every corner of the ruins he was sitting, occupying the demolished throne. She was nowhere in the area that he could tell, but… Ah, there was that laugh—almost a giggle—being carried away by the wind.
Standing, he unfurled his wing and rose into the air, hand at the ready on Masamune. Touching down on the higher area, he surveyed his surroundings and narrowed his eyes when he heard nothing but howling wind.
"You have something that belongs to me," said a gentle, melodic voice.
Had he been a lesser warrior, he would've jumped and cursed at the fact that she had had snuck up on him so easily. Instead, he slowly glanced at her at out of the corner of his eye before turning around fully. She was even tinier up-close, he realized, staring down at her. Her eyes were big and green, cheeks rosy, and pink lips curled into a soft smile. Her long hair was also loose and tumbling down her back in rich waves of auburn.
He wasn't staring.
Though if someone asked Aerith, she'd say that he was glaring.
"What are you doing so far away from safety, girl?" he asked, hands itching to either wrap around her neck or around her hair.
"I told you that you have something of mine. I would like it back, please," she replied, voice light as she stepped away and began to circle him.
The wind blew her hair around her shoulders and carried the scent of lilies over to him, making his nose twitch in annoyance. "I want something in exchange," he said in a cool tone, watching her fixedly.
She paused then, standing at his side, and glanced up at him curiously. "What do you want? My assistance in battle? A friend? A… kiss?" she asked, a small giggle making it past her lips.
Sephiroth refused to look at her and stared ahead, his wing beginning to retract. Before it could begin to dissolve, he jerked at the feel of gentle fingers touching the midnight-hued feathers. He whirled then, reaching for her wrist but his hand seemed to pass through her; he stared hard at her. "My memories," he said finally.
Aerith tilted her head slightly and looked at him. "What makes you think that I can give them back to you?"
"I know you can."
She smiled wider. "Well, unfortunately I can't give you what you're asking for."
"Can't or won't?" Sephiroth asked, beginning to lose his cool.
"A little of both. Now, if you would return my ribbon to me, please?"
Sephiroth's lips thinned into an unhappy line. "Why can't I touch you?"
"Ah, because I didn't want you to."
This displeased him even more, and it showed on his face, he realized. He wanted to kill her now more than he did in the memory he had regained. "Why are you here?"
"Well, I just repeated it twice to you. Maybe you're hard of hearing?" she teased.
Sephiroth's eyes narrowed. "I heard you fine the first two times. But since you just informed me that I cannot touch you without your consent, why did you allow me to remove your ribbon then?"
Aerith smiled secretively. "A girl likes to be chased after, you know."
Sephiroth felt confusion rise at her words. Was she implying that she wanted him to chase after her in a romantic sense? If she did then this girl was completely delusional. Had she not realized yet that they were on opposing sides? "Ridiculous woman."
That seemed to annoy her and the smile on her face faded, making her eyes darken a shade. "You should learn that if you want someone's help, it's best not to insult them."
"I wouldn't insult you if you would stop acting like an airhead." Well, he hadn't honestly meant to say that to her, but she just seemed to be asking for it; she was too soft and gentle for her own good.
She forced a smile and nodded. "I guess I shouldn't have expected an intelligent conversation from someone on Chaos' side," Aerith snarked before she began to walk away.
Aerith refused to comply to any of his demands. "Goodbye, General Sephiroth."
Sephiroth glared at the spot where she had just disappeared and cursed colorfully. That conversation hadn't gone as he had planned and it irked him in a way that not even the puppet could accomplish. He would not give her the pleasure of thinking that he had been running after her. She would come back to him if she wanted her ribbon back, he concluded. Until then he would just have to wait and figure out what to say to her once she was before him again.
He waited for her in the same place they had last stood in together, but it took her another few days to return. Except that when she did show up again, she did it before he arrived. He found her sitting in a large, overturned pillar, her legs dangling and swinging slightly.
"I'm here, but I'm not really here."
He stared for a moment and wondered what in the hell she was talking about. "What?"
"I can't give you back the memories you're asking for," Aerith supplied.
He gave her a flat look. "Why?"
"Because I was called to assist the warriors, not to fight. I can't… interact with everyone the way I'm doing with you," Aerith said, staring down at her boots.
"I am the only one you can speak to?" Sephiroth asked, raising a skeptical eyebrow.
Aerith nodded, curls bouncing across her back. "They know I'm there, and they see me help in their fights, but they don't remember who I am." She was silent for a moment before she continued. "Whether you realize it or not, you call me to your side when I am not assisting my friends. I came back to see you today because I wanted someone to talk to. I'll just warn you that if you insult me again, I will leave."
"Fine," he replied, leaning back against the pillar and crossing his arms over his chest.
The silence stretched for many minutes until Aerith sighed gently, the noise nearly carried away with the wind.
"You have a sad existence," murmured Sephiroth.
This brought an ironic smile to her face. "If you only knew," she replied.
He felt a tug on the ends of his hair and looked down, finding the silver strands entwined with her slim fingers. He reached up for her, but again his hand went right through her wrist, his hair falling back into place. "You're testing my patience."
"Because I won't let you touch me?" Aerith grinned and looked away from the frown on his face. "Have you wondered if you came to this place without memories for a reason?"
"This war matters little to me. We will win, Cosmos' side will lose, and I will regain all that I have lost."
He hadn't understood her question, Aerith supposed. She had asked him if he realized that he had no memory of his past because it was a bad one.
"I killed you."
"Not really," she mused, tapping her chin. "My energy is depleted, but I'm not really killed when assisting someone."
He turned his entire body towards her. "I killed you. In our world."
She stared at him in surprise and then in sorrow before nodding. "You did."
Another long pause.
"I thought you hadn't remembered anything," she murmured, her hair blowing across her eyes.
"Why are you here?" he repeated his question from their first true meeting.
"To get my ribbon back."
He stared hard at her. "Does it mean that much to you, flower girl?"
Aerith looked up at the nickname and wondered just how much it was that he remembered, though she had a feeling that he wouldn't tell her no matter how nicely she asked. "It was a gift from someone… special."
His eyes became glacial at her words, and he turned away. "The puppet?"
She giggled and shook her head. "No. Cloud has someone to pine over and it's not me."
That much Sephiroth knew. The brawler was oblivious and Strife was a coward. "Then who?"
"Why do you care? It's not like we're friends, right?" she asked, cheeky.
"Maybe I will tear your ribbon into pieces so that you can hunt each one down if it means that much to you," he replied venomously.
Aerith shook her head at his petty threat. "Just because I won't tell you who it's from?" Her reply was sullen silence. "Fine, fine. My first boyfriend gave it to me."
He had a sudden flash of a grinning face with bright blue eyes… but it was quickly gone before he could grasp the memory. He looked at her out of the corner of his eye and noted that the longer strands of her hair were brushing against his glove. She was staring into the distance, as if lost in memory, and he took the chance to reach over and tug at her hair, smirking when his hand didn't go through. "Losing your touch, girl?"
Her lips quirked as she looked at him from under long lashes. "Or I'm just in the mood to let you touch me."
He raised an eyebrow at her and reached a finger up to brush against her cheekbone. "I don't…" he trailed off, frowning darkly at what he had been about to say. 'I don't understand why I would've killed someone like you.' But he wasn't in the mood to bare his thoughts to her. Not yet, at least.
"You don't what?" she asked, giving him a knowing look.
Sephiroth didn't like the idea that she could read his very thoughts so easily. Being as innocent and kind as she was, she seemed to understand him more than he did himself. "Forget it," he muttered, turning to walk away.
"This is a first," she called, watching him go.
His hair shimmered in the light as he turned to give her a side glance. "What is?"
"You walking away from me."
"Go back to your solitude, flower girl. If you won't give me back my memories, there's no point for me to keep talking to you."
He ignored the flash of hurt that passed through her eyes before she shut the feeling out and gazed at him, neutral and betraying nothing more. He refused to acknowledge the fact that he felt guilt in his chest. Guilt was the weak-minded like Strife.
Against his better judgment, he went to her a few days later.
He'd been on Cosmos' territory, and he idly wondered why the Goddess had not sent any of her warriors to confront him. He'd been quite sure that wherever the brawler was, the flower girl would be as well, and he wasn't disappointed.
He found her standing a distance away from the Cosmos warrior, easily twirling the staff in her hands with practiced ease, as if she were a warrior at heart and not a healer. He supposed that she hadn't been given a chance to prove herself because she was dead back in their world.
Sephiroth found himself reaching for her, intent on surprising her and finally getting his hands on that cascade of rich curls. But… as always, his hand went right through her.
"I swore to myself that you would never again catch me off guard," she murmured, voice soft but with a touch of steel.
He had a feeling that she was talking about the moment that had resulted in her death. No, no guilt.
She turned to look at him and smiled. "What are you doing here in Cosmos' territory? If I remember correctly, you said that talking to me was a waste of your precious time," she mocked.
Sephiroth narrowed his eyes and opened a portal. "We should talk somewhere else. I can sense the puppet nearby."
"I wonder what his excuse for visiting Tifa will be today," Aerith said with an amused grin, following the trail of silver hair.
They stepped into the Planet's Core and Aerith stopped and waited for Sephiroth to say what he needed to. Even she had to see that this wasn't the same mad man from their home world, but it still made her feel reluctance at letting him catch a glimpse of any other memories. She didn't know what it was that he made her feel inside, but pity had been one of those feelings not so long ago. Now… he caused something between dread and excitement in her heart.
Sephiroth took note of the troubled expression on her face and sighed to himself in irritation. Why was he going through all this trouble for a woman he felt nothing but exasperation for?
Aerith was startled from her thoughts when her beloved ribbon landed at her feet. She looked up with wide eyes and was met with Sephiroth's back, silver hair looking as unnaturally pristine as always. Kneeling, she picked up the scrap of pink and folded it gently. "Thank you."
"There's nothing to be grateful for, girl. It belongs to you and I took it by force." The same way I took your life, he added inwardly. "You can rest assured that I will not bother you again."
Aerith stepped closer to him, confused. "I thought you wanted your memories back."
"Will you give them back to me?"
"I don't even know if I can."
He watched her move over to stand before him, green eyes sad as she looked up at him. He stood silent and startled as she reached down and grasped his hand, her small fingers pulling off his glove. Sephiroth grit his teeth when their skin came into contact, sending jolts up his body from something he could not explain.
He did not pull away or do anything but breathe when she moved his hand up to her cheek, brushing his fingers against her soft skin there. She was watching him, gauging his reaction to her forward move and expecting some sort of violent reaction, but he barely even blinked.
"Nothing is happening," Sephiroth stated flatly.
"Then that means that I can't help you," Aerith replied, taking a step back and letting his hand fall back into place.
Sephiroth drew her back, ungloved hand moving up to cup her jaw, tilting it upwards. He was mildly surprised that she hadn't become transparent to his touch, but he could tell that he had startled her.
Before she could run off and he lost his damned nerve, he swooped down and nearly slammed his lips against hers. He swallowed her gasp and used his still gloved hand to hold her face while the other sank into the thick curls that had continued to taunt him in his thoughts.
She made a small whimpering noise as his tongue slipped into her mouth, tangling with hers. Her lips were soft and plush, and tasted of something he had never experienced before. Her hair was softer than his own, and despite the way his fingers tightened around it, the strands would not tangle.
He drew away from her when the hunched over position he was in became a touch uncomfortable, and held her at arm's length. He had somehow hoped that her kiss would unlock his memories, but nothing was happening. Would killing her do the trick? He wondered idly. He'd been more than willing to sacrifice the brawler to see if his memories returned that way. Why not try it on the flower girl?
The answer was simple and unpleasant: he didn't want to.
Sephiroth had to look away from the haunted flash in her eyes as her fingers hovered over a spot on her midsection.
She swallowed hard and looked away, a long breath leaving those pink, luscious lips. "We shouldn't."
Sephiroth did not deign that with a reply.
"I just—when you kissed me…" she trailed off and shook her head and stared at his boots.
He didn't need her to elaborate further. There was only one thing that he could think of, and it made him want to bring out Masamune to see if the sword recognized her despair. The feeling this brought to him was even worse.
"If you return, I will not be held accountable for my actions," he said, voice glacial. He knew what he had to do in order to recover the rest of his memories, but he would not be able to do it with her so close.
"I didn't mean to insult you by rejecting your kiss—"
Sephiroth sniffed in annoyance and turned his back to her. "Do not think yourself so important, girl."
Aerith pursed her lips, but did not allow him to bully her into leaving. Instead, she cocked her head to the side and looked at him shrewdly. "You know, I think you're going to miss me once I go."
He let out a short, derisive laugh. "And how do you figure that, girl?"
"I just do," Aerith said, her small, sad smile returning. This would more than likely be the last time she saw him. She was aware of the reasons, but she would sooner allow him to impale her again than let him know the plans the Warriors of Cosmos had made.
Sephiroth stared at her, at those distant green eyes and realized that maybe she was right. He would miss her. He just wasn't inclined to tell her so.
She turned to look at him, losing some of the innocence in her eyes and looking more world-weary. "Have you ever regretted any of your actions?"
He didn't think he meant her death only; she was talking about anything and everything he'd done in his past life and this life. "No." Deep, deep down, he knew that was a lie. There was only one thing he did regret doing.
Aerith smiled dejectedly and nodded. "Goodbye, General Sephiroth."
"Goodbye, flower girl."
She turned to begin walking away, but paused after a few steps. He watched curiously as she tugged at the ribbon in her hair and those silky curls tumbled down. She then returned to his side, took his hand, and placed the ribbon in the center of his palm.
"Something to remember me by," she informed him with a tiny grin. She would've kissed him, but he was just too tall, and she had a feeling that he would resist if she tried pulling him down to her level.
Then she was off, at a light run, and Sephiroth couldn't find the strength to make his feet move. Instead, he watched her hair bounce with her movement and the breeze. He let her go without a word knowing somehow that this would be the last time he saw her. He'd never had the right to keep her coming back to him.
She had never been his to begin with. Neither in this world or their own.
Kind of sad, kind of vague, but I was okay with this type of ending. I might've rushed it, but maybe I'll come back in a few weeks to revise it. Don't know yet. Anyway, I really hope everyone enjoyed this short piece. Thanks for reading!