--^-@ Second Chances, Valentines Day Chapter @-^--
I know I had labeled chapter 7 as the final chapter, but for those who prefer happy endings, consider this a bonus chapter. I'm just a sap when it comes to romance, and I wanted to make a sweet ending. lol I refuse to let this story end!
* * * * *
The soft golden lights lights slowly danced around the room. The church, which had been built just like Aeris' church in Midgar, had been decorated with wonderous flowers across the walls. At the alter, stood Cloud, a beam across the face, the first time Aeris had seen him smile. She couldn't believe it when they announced their engagement and Tifa had demanded that Aeris be a bridesmaid.
A murmuring rose from the crowds, as the door behind opened, and a brunette in a sparkling ivory dress drifted into the room. Tifa blushed at the attention when her gaze met Cloud's, and Aeris smiled at the love between them. She knew what Tifa was feeling, a warm happiness in knowing that the one you love feels the same about you. This thought lingered in her mind for a moment, but it faded as well as her smile. Rufus...
How she missed him dearly, his hair, his clothing, his eyes, the way he looked over her without looking to obvious, just him. He had died for her, the man whom Midgar bragged of being the Planet's most uncaring soul. Even Sephiroth loved someone, Jenova. But Rufus had died for her, taking the blade that was meant for her.
Suddenly a peaceful feeling swept over her, and everything faded softly...
* * * * *
She opened her eyes, and the area around her slipped into view. The place seemed very familiar, and she was filled with a peaceful feeling. This area was easily recognised as the Sleeping Forest.
A figure materialized in front of her, and she found herself gazing into those wonderful blue eyes that she had missed so much. "Rufus?" She flew into his arms and he wrapped them around her. Tears began welling in her eyes.
She was welcomed by his trademark smirk, and he reached out and held her cheek. Her hand found his. "But I thought,"
"Shhh," he whispered, and looked around at the area. It was so beatiful. The last time Aeris had seen it was when Cloud and the others had led her away as she cried softly.
"This isn't the Sleeping Forest, is it?" she asked, and he shook his head.
"This is the Promised Land. It appears this way to me because this is how I like to think of it, it looks different for everyone. But that's not why I'm here."
"I've missed you. I've never been able to thank you."
"Don't worry about it, sweetie. I did it because I wanted to."
"You're still dead, aren't you?"
"Regretfully, yes. But the Lifestream has permitted me to speak with you once more. There's something that I wish to ask of you." His blue eyes sparkled with anxiety.
She looked at him questionly. "What is it, Rufus?" He flicked his hair and lowered himself until he was on one knee. A surprised grin spread across her face. "Rufie?"
"Ms. Gainsborough, will you grant me the greatest happiness in all of the world by becoming my wife?" His eyes, the cold stare no longer remaining. All she could see in them was a pleading young child.
"I'd love to." she said through sudden tears, and flew into his arms once more. He pulled a ring out of his pocket, and slid it around her finger.
She gazed at the ring. It was a wonderful golden woven with ivory, much like the colors of Holy. They looked from their hands, and embraced in a kiss.
He pulled away softly, regret in his eyes. "What's wrong?" she asked.
"I cannot stay any longer, Aeris. I fear I must return to the other side and you to your world." He tore his eyes from hers and looked off at nothing in particullar.
"I understand." Somehow those were the hardest words to speak.
He held her hands and looked into her shining emerald eyes. "I'll be waiting for you."
He faded away reluctently, and the forest around her slowly followed suit. He was pulled away from her once more.
* * * * *
She opened her eyes, and Cloud and Tifa were still standing at the alter. She sighed. Just another daydream. But it felt so real, like all the other ones did. The preacher's voice snapped her back into reality.
"If anyone has any objections, speak now or forever hold your peace."
Sudden murmuring rang out as a figure in the back raised from his seat. "I object."
All color drained from Tifa and Cloud's face at the sound of this.
"Why?" demanded Barret with his booming voice.
Reno's face finally came into focus. "I love you, Teef." That was all he could think of saying, and he nearly whacked himself. He had spent the last week rehearsing his speech. He knew instantly when he heard that she was engaged that he wanted her, just her. He had grown quite interested with her during their little journey together, and the Turks had aided in Sephiroth's downfall, but he kept telling himself it was nothing special.
Elena and Rude looked at each other with surprise. They had been invited to the wedding, but weren't even planning on going until Reno, with white knuckles gripping his nightstick, ordered that they go.
Tifa exchanged a look with Cloud, her just a surprised as he was. What was she supposed to do now? "I-I'm sorry, Reno." she said, and Cloud's hand tightened slowly on hers. "I love Cloud."
That hurt. Reno's face lost color as the color in Cloud's returned victoriously. He slowly sank into his seat and was rewarded with Elena slapping him in the back of the head. He glared at her, but his eyes went straight to the floor as he concentrated on fighting back that annoying catch in his throat.
The wedding resumed happily, all execpt for Reno of course, and cheering exploded when Cloud and Tifa both said 'I do.' and kissed.
* * * * *
Next came the reception, and everyone went. Even Reno, but only because he felt relieved by the fact that everyone assumed he only did it for the attention. Everyone was fooled, except for Tifa of course. She knew he meant what she said, and was doing her best to avoid eye contact.
Tifa, Cloud, Aeris, Barret, Yuffie and Cid all sat at the head table with everyone sitting in their regular clichés, and the Turks took a table in a quiet corner by the stage. Elena glared at him as she dug into her cake. "I can't believe you did that, Reno! Sure, you embarrassed AVALANCHE but you made the Turks look bad!"
"You do know that we're not exactly Turks anymore, Elena." said Reno. "Now that ShinRa was destroyed." This surprised the blonde mildly, as he usually shot her back with an equally cruel comment, but she didn't realise that event ripped his heart apart. He shot Cloud an envious glare, and wondered if anyone would really miss 'ole Spike if he went missing 'suspiciously.' A wonderful plan for Cloud's demise began forming in his eyes, but he became distracted when the music began softly playing, and several couples took the dance floor.
Cloud stood up and offered his hand to Tifa, who blushed, accepted it, and they drifted onto the the dance floor. Reno, recognising an opportunity to live up to his reputation, left his seat, his eyes on his target. Elena and Rude exchanged looks, as his actions have been wild lately, but didn't pay much attention as the redhead was usually strange.
Aeris, whose envious eyes watched the love between Cloud and Tifa, when a soft yet frightening voice filled her ear. "Aeris Gainsborough, I have come for your soul." She jumped and turned her head to see Reno smirking at her. He stood up and held his hand out. "Do you care to dance with such a handsome charming hearthrob?"
"Sure, where is he?" smiled Aeris as she stood up to join him. As she had suspected, he was subtly led her to the center of the dance floor, coincidently near Tifa and Cloud.
"So how are ya doing, babe?" he asked.
"Well well, the great Reno asking about the welfare of another person, I'm shocked!" she teased, but they both knew he was serious in his Reno-like-way. That one period in their lives had brought a lot of them together, and he had been assigned to guarding her.
"Well, I'm always curious when it comes to women, my dear." he grinned. "That and it's also a part of the Turk image." She smiled as they slowly danced towards the middle. Strange, she thought. She had danced with Rufus, a man whom she thought was out to hurt her, and now she's dancing with another man just as sadistic. In some way she had completed a circle.
But this one had different goals, and she looked at his envious eyes gazing upon Tifa and Cloud. "Hey guys!" she chirped as they finally reached them. "Shall we trade partners?"
She and Tifa laughed as they started dancing together, while Cloud and Reno exchanged glares of daggers, but Aeris took Cloud and Tifa took Reno before a fight could break out.
"Oh, Cloud!" sighed Aeris when they reached a distance. "I'm so happy for you and Tifa."
He smiled in thanks, his mind briefly off Reno. "You know, I never got to apologise for the way I treated Rufus, I never did trust the man."
The smile faded from her lips. "It's alright, you didn't know him enough."
Reno hesitated as he looked into Tifa's scarlet eyes. "Tifa,"
"I'm sorry, Reno, but I love Cloud. I married the man." she cut him off and he looked at her with pleading eyes.
"Alright, I can deal. Just tell me one thing, please." He licked his lips hesitantly, "How do you feel about me?"
"Oh come on," laughed Aeris. "You didn't honestly think of me as the 'slum drunk,' did you?"
"Weeell," said Cloud, a michevious smirk on his face. "You did look slightly suspicous taking the innocent role in a hard-core city..." He trailed off and she gave him a small playful slap on the arm.
"I have feelings for you," said Tifa slowly, "But I love Cloud more. I'm sorry."
"Yeah, me too." he said and left the floor, leaving her behind. With a slight gesture Rude and Elena got up and followed him out the door. Tifa just stood watching, and not knowing how to feel. Today was the happiest day of her life, but she felt like she had lost someone dear to her.
"Hey," said a familiar voice from behind her. She turned around and welcomed Cloud's arms. Aeris backed off slowly, smiling as she watched them dance. She sat down at a table nearby which held Yuffie, Nanaki (though the beast had some difficulty sitting in his chair), Elmyra, Barret and Marlene.
"How are you doing?" asked Elmyra with her motherly worrying. Tifa had slowly explained everything to Aeris' adopted mother.
"I'm fine." Aeris replied sadly, when Marlene spoke up suddenly from her father's lap.
"Aunty Aeris, what's that on your finger?" she asked, and Barret quietly explained to her what a ring was.
It was normally a natural thing, but Aeris, not recalling anything about putting a ring on that morning, raised her hand into the light. Something sparkled, reflecting light onto her face.
Upon her ring finger, was a small golden ring with curious ivory woven into the ring with the gold, and the small beautiful carving sparkled with every slight movement. She smiled warmly, her emerald eyes twinkling. It wasn't just a daydream after all.....
--^-@ The End @-^--
A/N: HAPPY VALENTINES DAY! May all of you have a wonderfully romantic day! (If not, maybe you at least 'accidently' bumped into your crushes...like me.....lol!)
Have a heart, send a review!!