Chapter 13: Love Me
She loved her.
No matter what she did, no matter what she said, she knew she loved her.
[BGM: The Flow of Life – FF7 OST
It was cold, it was desolate, and it was driving Tifa crazy. What the hell happened? Everything was going according to plan, and then her body just crapped out on her! Her mind felt heavy, as if it was taking all of her will power just to think coherent thoughts. It had been a few hours, actually. Probably. The fighter wasn’t certain, but she knew it definitely felt like more than a few hours. She could barely open her eyelids halfway, and her body felt numb. Did her body just crash on her or something?
[BGM: Aeris' Theme - FF7 Piano Collection
Tifa wasn’t quite sure if she was opening her eyes or closing them, but she knew she did hear a familiar voice, “You lazy bum.”
Now the Ex-SOLDIER knew she was hallucinating, “..Aeris?”
“Damn right, it’s me,” The face of the late ancient peeked through the blinding light around the fighter, “Didn’t you figure it out yet? You’re dead!”
Tifa stared, jaw dropped and dumbfounded. “Wh-..” She tried to look at herself, but her body wasn’t there, “How did I..” She was too stunned to even finish her sentence. It kind of made sense.. It was cold after all. She always imagined death to be pretty cold and metallic. It was a strange feeling.. Cold and desolate, while still a contrasted light and warm. It was as if she was sitting in a paradoxical world. Or maybe she felt as if she was in two places at once.
Aeris just grinned that playful grin of hers, “Nah, I’m just joking. You’re still alive.” The full view of the flower girl, dressed in that same pink dress and that same red jacket that Tifa remembered so well, “I just wanted to see your reaction when I said you died.”
Tifa didn’t know what to say. She wasn’t impressed with Aeris’ bad taste in jokes, but she was definitely relieved. The furrow in her eyebrows and the confusion in her eyes were apparent, but slowly, she began to see her own limbs through the light, “Where are we? Why are you here?”
“Now, is that any way to treat an old friend, Tif?” Aeris smiled, hands behind her back and leaning forward in that inquisitive way she always had done.
Now, Tifa had thought she had been in a bed or some kind of horizontal position.. But she felt like she was floating in some kind of strange sea of air that could sustain her. ‘Maybe this is all just some crazy hallucination..’ She thought to herself.
“Bingo! That’s absolutely right, Miss Lockhart!” Aeris exclaimed, ever-smiling, “This is all just a figment of your imagination.” The smile wavered for a moment as she softly added on, “Even me.” But the smile quickly returned. If Aeris was good for anything, it was bringing someone’s spirits up. The ancient half-crossed her arms, holding her elbows with her hands, “Whether I’m really here or not is up to you. I mean, I do have that kind of power, but it’s rare that I’m actually able to be consciously..” She examined Tifa’s face a little, “Well, maybe not-so-consciously seen.” And she pouted her lips a little, “Or maybe this is all just in your head, and I’m not really here, you know? It’s nice that you still think about me!”
Tifa took a closer look at Aeris’ face. This isn’t real.. Or is it? Did she even want to know? Her hand lifted and floated towards Aeris’ cheek, just to verify the reality of the situation, but Aeris retreated back a few inches, and so did Tifa’s hand. “So is this supposed to be some kind of divine intervention, or are you just here to check up on me?”
Aeris seemed to take a seat on something, though it was more like she just leaned back onto nothing, “A little bit of both. I mean, look at you. You totally need it.” Aeris giggled, but continued, “I mean, do you even know what kind of situation you’re in? Not exactly the best party to go to on a Saturday night, if you know what I mean.”
Tifa arched an eyebrow. She clearly didn’t remember what exactly was going on, but this was all in her head anyway. It was probably just a dream! Yeah. Just a dream. Tifa still let curiosity get the better of her, though, “What do you mean?”
“I’ll let you figure that out on your own,” Aeris smirked, “It’s more fun that way.” She floated closer to the Ex-SOLDIER and put her hands on her hips, a stern look taking over her face, “But hey! Someone’s quite the little player, aren’t you?” She demanded to know.
Caught aback by the accusation, Tifa’s eyes widened, “What!”
“Psh, you can’t lie to me, Tifa. I’m an angel. I know what’s going on,” Aeris crossed her arms defiantly, “You have a thing for blondes, don’t you? Even turning down Yuffie for her.. Elena, right? That Turk?”
Tifa just turned red at that. Although she had been getting used to her relationship with Elena, no one had really outwardly asked her if they were together. Yuffie implied it but.. Aeris was so damn forward! “Yeah, so?” She shot back in good nature, “I’m not the only one into blondes.”
Aeris rolled her eyes and smiled, “Well, Cloud wasn’t always the only one I was interested in, you know.” She winked at the fighter.
Tifa stared in disbelief again. ‘What the hell is with all of these sudden proclamations of.. Ugh, never mind.’ She knew she was being conceited and presumptuous by thinking this.. But.. It was her turn to cross her arms now, “Don’t tell me..”
“Yes, yes, okay? I liked you.” Aeris sighed in mock-exasperation, “But how would you know if I actually said that or if you just came up with it in your subconscious?” Aeris had that evil grin on her face again, which was really ironic for someone who claims to be an angel, “Geez, you’re so conceited. Imagining I like you, I didn’t know you felt that way about me!”
Tifa laughed. This was ridiculous. Of course it was all just in her head. She had always, in the back of her mind, wanted Aeris’ attention when they both fought over Cloud. Though Tifa wasn’t exactly aware of it herself, since she was in denial.. “Well, since this is just my subconscious, I guess you wouldn’t mind if I said that I liked you too.”
Aeris’ eyes opened in surprise. She didn’t expect that kind of reaction, “Really?” Tifa actually thought she was hallucinating, “Wow..” Maybe it was better that way, but.. “Anyway! I don’t have much time, so let’s make this quick.” The ancient quickly changed the subject, her cheeks reddening a little under Tifa’s gaze.
It was Aeris’ turn to reach out. She placed her hand over the fighter’s heart and touched the fabric of her shirt gently, “This won’t hurt a bit.” Then, as if it couldn’t get any brighter, her hand glowed with a soft, healing light.
Tifa was shocked that she could actually physically feel her, but it was mixed with a warm, inviting feeling.. What was it? Her body began to feel normal again. In fact, better than normal! She felt re-energized, revitalized! Tifa looked down at herself, “Whoa, what happened?”
Aeris cast her eyes to the side, “Well, you know us ancients, angels and ghosts. We’ve got crazy powers.” She said with a grin, “Actually, there’s a whole explanation! The EVA cells inside your body actually react to the prayers and spirits of the Ancients. Can you guess why?”
Tifa blinked.. “Why?” She always had this feeling around Aeris for some reason. The girl was supposed to be her opposing force, but she was simply shocking the words out of Tifa’s system this time.
“It’s a secret!”
Tifa smacked her own forehead. It couldn’t have been Aeris right in front of her. She wouldn’t believe it. Aeris was dead. This was just her mind playing weird tricks on her. Either way, she was feeling refreshed and ready to kick some more ShinRa ass! She had no time to be dreaming of Aeris.
“Well..” Aeris continued, taking an air-step closer to Tifa, “Wish I could stay longer, but.. You know, they get mad.” She sadly smiled as she began to float upwards, but before she could be out of reach, Aeris placed a soft, quick peck on Tifa’s lips. A kiss so light, Tifa didn’t know if she actually felt it or not. Her hand caressed her old comrade’s soft cheek and lingered there until she was completely out of reach.
The light began to fade as Tifa’s eyes opened and adjusted to the room. It looked almost blue in color. The brunette in pink who had been floating in front of her had faded away as suddenly as she came.
“Just a dream..” Tifa rationalized, “Of course it was. There’s no way Aeris could have talked to me and stuff from the dead.” She sat up and examined her surroundings. A ShinRa detention cell. It was a cold, yet familiar place. She had definitely been here before during Meteorfall before they met Red XIII. When they came to rescue Aeris.. And..
Even when she was in SOLDIER.
No, Tifa. Focus on what’s happening right now. Was she caught? Tifa tried to recall the events leading up to her in the detention cell.
Still, a recognizable figure floated above her, out of sight.. Aeris, though simply the spirit of an ancient long gone, touched her lips with a small smile on her face, “I’ve always wanted to do that.” She whispered to herself with a bit of a giggle. “Tifa.. Such a player, aren’t you? Elena, Yuffie, Rude, Cloud.. And even me.” Aeris shook her head and sighed softly, “At least I got a kiss.”
[BGM: Infiltrating Shinra Tower – FF7 OST
“Yuffie, do you read me?” The informative voice of Jessie, buzzed in the ninja’s ear. Yuffie had the job which required the smallest physical build, the stealth, and the speed to get through the security undetected, secure a route to the detention wing of the building, and disable the security system.
“I hear ya,” Yuffie whispered back into her COM link. She was the first, and possibly the most important, part of the plan. That is, if they wanted it all to go smoothly. They weren’t there to destroy the company this time. The group of four was there solely to rescue the kids who were kidnapped.
“There should be an exit that leads to the 64th floor’s hallway approximately 50 meters ahead of you,” Jessie told her.
Yuffie, however, despite her being so pumped up to do the most important job originally, didn’t exactly feel like army crawling through air ducts, “Thank Shiva.. I can finally get out of this thing.” Jessie’s soft giggle could be heard through the earpiece and Yuffie smiled at hearing it.
Yuffie glanced through the vent opening to check if the coast was clear. She arched an eyebrow, but a sweat drop nearly appeared above her head, “The bathroom?” She sighed a little. The dirtiest job is always given to her, “You’ve gotta be kidding..” She muttered as she hopped out of the vent and onto the floor in front of the toilet. “So that’s what I was smelling..”
She looked back at the toilet and gave it a flush for good measure. She knew she was trying to be stealthy, but.. Then no one would get suspicious if they saw her leave the washroom.
“Did you just..” Yuffie heard Tifa’s voice in the COM link.
“No!” Yuffie whispered, embarrassed. She rolled her eyes and just continued on with the mission. Yuffie stalked through the halls of the 64th floor, using Jessie’s instructions to make her way there but.. “Oh crap.”
“What crap?” Elena interjected, “You actually took a crap?”
“No!” Yuffie shushed the blonde, who was laughing on the other side of the communicator. Even though this was a serious mission, it was clear that the four of them were confident enough to be able to joke around. They’ve done so many dangerous missions, thefts, or assignments before that this one didn’t require the usual level of seriousness, especially when it’s just the three of them watching Yuffie crawl through vents.
“What’s wrong?” Jessie asked.
“Security..” Yuffie whispered as she pressed against a wall.
Wait. What was she doing? She had no reason to be afraid of a stupid security guard! She was the great Yuffie Kisaragi!
She waited beside the corner for the guard to pass her, then stepped out of her hiding place and waved innocently, grinning as she greeted the guard. There was a mask over their face, but she could still see the look of initial surprise in their body actions. That didn’t last long, however, because before the guard even knew it, Yuffie had them pinned to the wall, her elbow at the guard’s neck lifting them a few centimeters off the ground and a shuriken pointed at where their eyes would be. Oh, not to mention her knee so far up their crotch that it would leave any man crying for their mothers.
Except.. Yuffie arched her eyebrow. There was nothing there? A smirk spread along that ninja’s coy lips. She never saw too many female security guards around. Of course, the girl was struggling to fight back, but with her neck holding her up via Yuffie’s elbow and Yuffie’s knee shoved in places she’d rather not have her knee shoved, the guard was a little more than frozen.
Tifa, Elena and Jessie all stared at the camera that was placed in Yuffie’s headband. “What the hell is she doing?” Tifa asked, tilting her head to get a better view.
“Oh Shiva, is she..” Elena began. She mimicked Tifa’s movement of tilting her head and her eyes widened slightly, “I knew Yuffie was fast but..”
Jessie just silently watched, stared. She didn’t know what to think really. There was Yuffie, forcing a female security guard to go to a storage room and.. Now she was forcing her to undress?
Tifa put her hands on her hips, “She realizes we can see what she’s doing right?” There was a logical explanation, Tifa knew.. “If she needed a uniform, we could have just stolen one from a locker or something.”
Elena rolled her eyes, “She must think it’s more fun this way. I mean look at her.”
Yuffie had momentarily taken off the headband to change into the newly obtained uniform, after her captive had been successfully tied up, that is. She stepped up to the guard and grinned, “Was it as good for you as it was for me?”
A bit of muffled retort and struggle came from the girl. Soon enough, Yuffie removed the mask from the girl’s face too, to find a young brunette girl, probably not even a few years older than Yuffie was. The ninja put the girl’s mask partially on her head and smiled, “You know, if you didn’t work for ShinRa, we could have had something special.” She winked at the girl and put her headband back on, putting the mask on overtop of it. “Bye-bye now!”
It was needless to say that Yuffie had safely completed her part of the mission. She disabled the security cameras and alarms that would trigger massive amounts of SOLDIER to come. She could have easily done the same job without stealing the uniform, but it was extra insurance..
Tifa and Elena had prepared themselves while Yuffie was sneaking through the vents. Their COM links were all directly connected and would be able to hear each other from other ends of the building. All Tifa really needed, and all she really had, were her comfortable clothes, her fighting gloves, and a few select materia.
Elena had her baton, her materia and some borrowed clothes from Jessie. Nothing too complicated, it was just a spandex-like material body suit that was designed for ShinRa employees. Jessie explained to the blonde when she supplied her with it, “I had taken one for myself since they were black, warm, and water resistant. It also doesn’t conduct electricity, so I thought it might come in handy.” That was about an hour before they started the mission.
The duo was prepared for their part of the mission, which was to use the secured paths to reach the children—Denzel who was being held in the normal containment cells and Marlene who was in the lab. There was one person, however, who was still a little distracted.
Jessie stared at the little monitor supervising Yuffie’s endeavors, wordlessly rolling the events around in her head as the cogs turned in her brain. She was dumbfounded by Yuffie’s forward actions. For the short time she had known the girl, she had only seen the side of the ninja that she allowed Jessie to see. No more, no less. Perhaps this infatuation that she has with Yuffie, this stupid little crush, is nothing more than that—A stupid crush. It was pretty clear now that Yuffie had just been flirting with her and not really giving a crap about her. From her unbelievable actions towards that security guard, that stranger.. Maybe that was the real Yuffie. Maybe that was the side that Jessie had missed. And now the technician didn’t know what to think. Was Yuffie just playing with her emotions this whole time? Did she not mean any of the things she had said to her? Did she really need her when she was rejected by Tifa? Or was she just conveniently there?
“Jess, I’m heading out. Buzz me if there’s any trouble,” Tifa said as she poked her head into the control room.
Jessie snapped out of her daze and nodded at Tifa, “All clear so far, Yuffie’s secured all necessary routes and you’ll be taking the path to the labs, Marlene should be there, unless they’ve moved her since the last time Reno contacted us.”
Tifa nodded back and put on a choker, with a camera inside, “Camera check. Clear?”
Checking the monitor for Tifa’s camera, her eyes glanced to Yuffie’s once again, who was heading back towards the jet. Once Elena and Tifa were gone, she’d be left alone with Yuffie until they got back.. When normally she would be ecstatic to have such a chance.. After that encounter with the guard, Jessie was unknowingly jealous. “Clear. You’re good to go,” Jessie replied, “Good luck, Tif.”
“Thanks. Elena already went in?” Tifa half-turned, ready to get her part of the mission started. This was going to be a piece of cake.
“Yeah, if it goes as planned, she should take less than 20 minutes.”
“Okay. I’ll be back before you know it!” Tifa said, a smile on her face and a V shape on her fingers as she exited.
And so there she was again, Jessie, alone with her computers and gadgets, to contemplate on her emotions and confusing questions she had no answer to. She thought she had found someone she could fall in love with. Would Yuffie simply break her heart? Had she been lying this whole time?
[BGM: Descendent of Shinobi - FF7 Piano Collection
Yuffie snuck her way back onto the ship. She knew that Jessie would be in the bridge and that she had been watching the camera.. Would Jessie be all cute and jealous? Or maybe she’ll be all hot and bothered from her sexy display? She was excited to see how the technician would react to her entering with a security guard uniform on. ‘Hmm..’
Yuffie grinned to herself as she removed her helmet and unbuttoned the first few buttons of the blouse. ‘Maybe this’ll do it,’ She thought slyly. So, sliding open the door to the bridge, Yuffie saluted the pilot, “Yuffie Kisaragi here, reporting for duty!”
Jessie froze at the sudden proclamation. She was lost in her own thoughts for the moment, and she honestly didn’t want to really look at Yuffie, “Ah, hey. Good work.” She continued to type on the computer, not missing a beat as she attempted to seem unphased. Jessie didn’t even turn around to acknowledge the girl..
That was not the reaction that Yuffie wanted at all. Good work? That’s it?
So Yuffie, like a child, pouted. She took a few steps towards Jessie, completely forgetting about the camera that was in her headband. Jessie watched the camera out of the corner of her eye and she could feel her heart rate increase with every step she could hear behind her and the sight of the back of her own head in the monitor. Why the hell was she getting so nervous?
Yuffie interjected her face into Jessie’s line of vision and said, “Not happy to see me?”
If this had been any other time, Jessie probably would have found the vision of Yuffie’s face and her own surprised face in the monitor off to the side to be comical. Now, however, she allowed herself to be a little stubborn, “It’s not that. It’s just..” She hesitated a little as she glanced at the security guard uniform that the ninja was wearing, “It’s nothing, don’t worry about it.”
Yuffie caught the glance and grinned as she reached an understanding, “Oh, I see.. You’re jealous!”
Jessie’s eyes widened for a second then went back to normal behind her glasses, “I am not jealous.”
“You are so jealous.”
Jessie retorted, “Of what?”
Yuffie leaned in closer to her face and stared right into the brunette’s eyes, “The security guard.”
The momentarily panicked look of someone caught off guard appeared behind the girl's glasses and she quickly masked it again, “You’re full of it..” She said with a mixed tinge of sadness, annoyance and even a little regret. Jessie felt used, as if being the only one in the immediate vicinity when Yuffie needed help was her only reason for even looking at her and spending time with her. That if she had the choice, Yuffie would go for Tifa at the drop of a hat and leave Jessie as everyone else had. Or if a better offer came along, then Yuffie would go off with them. Jessie didn’t need that kind of drama in her life.
“Jess..” Yuffie hadn’t considered the possibility of hurting Jessie. She thought that the girl would have taken it how everyone else does, and not really give a damn.. But Jessie actually gave a damn. And it showed in the tear that slid down her face. Yuffie reached out and gently wiped it away.
Jessie hadn’t even realized she was crying, so when the tear was wiped off her face, she noticed her vision blurred from the tears. Still, Jessie didn’t say anything.
“Jess, look..” Yuffie looked at her apologetically, “I.. um.. I wasn’t thinking. I thought that you would just get jealous or something cute like that.” She still had her hand on the girl’s cheek, “I didn’t think it would make you upset..”
The brunette listened, but she didn’t trust her voice enough to reply, so Yuffie watched her for a moment. She remembered the other day when they were talking about Jessie’s glasses and how they looked cute on her, and how they were in a very similar position to this. Jessie had even said she was full of it then, too. Yuffie had to think and she had to think fast. What could she say to fix this? How could she show Jessie that she wasn’t interested in any other girl?
Yuffie knew she liked her for sure now. The little show she put on with the security guard was her pathetic attempt at forcing Jessie to say it out loud in an angry way like, ‘I like you, okay? That’s why I’m jealous!’ But things didn’t really go quite as she had planned. Instead, by seeing the degree that Jessie was upset, Yuffie could safely assume she had hurt her because the girl liked her that much. So what would Yuffie do with this newfound knowledge?
Jessie was searching the ninja’s eyes for what she was thinking. She swallowed a lump in her throat as Yuffie’s face inched closer to hers. Was she going to kiss her? Was she going to KISS her? Would she just be used again, or is this for real? Was she being real before or was Jessie just a rebound case?
Yuffie, only a few centimeters away, whispered softly, “I just wanted your attention..”
So Jessie, slightly dazed, replied, “Well, you got it..”
“Why don’t you two just kiss and make up already?” The voice of Elena rang through the COM Links.
Both Yuffie and Jessie’s eyes opened wide, suddenly remembering that Tifa and Elena could hear what they were saying. She pulled back quickly as if they had just been caught, “Holy Crap! Way to ruin a moment!” Yuffie said with annoyance into the COM link once she regained her composure, “And I was just about to tell her I liked her!”
A snicker came from Tifa’s link, while Elena just laughed softly. It took a few seconds for Yuffie to realize what she had just said, but once she realized it, she looked at Jessie once again with a worried look, “Uh.. I mean..”
Jessie’s small smile grew into a grin, which turned into a chuckle, which turned into a full on relieved laugh at the whole situation. Jessie stood up and took the steps needed to close the space between herself and the ninja and wrapped her arms around her neck, hugging her tightly.
Yuffie blinked a couple of times, then flushed red, “So does that mean—“
Before she could finish that sentence, Jessie had kissed her on the lips.
[BGM: Underneath the Rotting Pizza - FF7 OST
“I knew it,” Elena stated proudly, though softly into the COM link. She knew this building like the back of her hand, so she knew the security routes, she knew where the detention cells were.. This was a piece of cake.
Just being in this setting was sending electrical currents through her brain. She didn’t know if it was adrenaline, EVA cells working through muscle memory, or if it was just a psychological reaction to being near this place. She had been there a thousand times before, bringing traitors, criminals and other victims to their confinement, but it was just so unusually familiar that her brain was aching with memories.
This hallway. This door. This keypad with the same code used for how many years. For security’s sake, she typed in Reno’s code to release the lock and the door slid open. There was Denzel, hugging his knees to his chest in fear, worry and most of all, dejection at his own helplessness.
The boy looked up at the blonde in the doorway and he was about to exclaim, but Elena shushed him with a gesture of her index finger in front of her lips. She took another glance in both directions of the hallway, then motioned for him to follow her.
The boy complied, excited to finally be released from his confinement.
Elena led him back through the way she entered, her head pounding and pulsating with new memories to the beat of each step that they took towards the jet. Her SOLDIER memories were mingling with her naïve Turk memories, but she knew they were both true.. Except for one that kept recurring.
That powerless, restraining feeling surrounded Elena as she stared at nothing but the figure in front of her. The only sensation that coursed through her was this numb feeling of betrayal. Because of that, all other senses seemed merely secondary compared to that pain that was stabbing at her heart.
Tifa stood in front of her, arms crossed with a scornful look on her face.. “Take her away.”
“No! It didn’t happen!” Elena said, her hands gripping her head in a desperate attempt to deny the false memories. She snapped quickly back into reality once she felt the confused, worried eyes on her of Jessie, Yuffie and Denzel. She had made it back to the ship with the boy, but.. “Where’s Tifa?” She felt herself becoming weak, but if that was how her body felt, then Tifa’s probably felt the next stage of that. Elena had discerned that everything that Tifa goes through happens to Elena shortly after. Fainting, regaining memories, regaining confidence in her abilities..
She had to go help her. The blonde didn’t even wait for Jessie or Yuffie to reply. She just had this sixth sense in the back of her mind that Tifa was in danger. She sprinted out of the jet, leaving a confused trio in her wake.
Elena sped through the halls as fast as her weakening body would allow. She knew it was foolish and headstrong to believe she could be Tifa’s heroine this time, instead of the other way around as it usually was. She knew it was foolish and headstrong for her to believe her body wouldn’t crap out on her by the time she reached Tifa.. But she had to try. She loved her, and she wasn’t about to let her be captured, or worse, killed.
[BGM: Trail of Blood – FF7 OST
Weak. That was one word to describe how Tifa’s body was feeling as she attempted to ward off the two SOLDIER X5’s guarding the lab. Dizzy was another good word. She could feel her energy slowly, gradually, being sapped from her body. She knew when her body started feeling weaker, that she should have turned back, but her stubborn pride and her determination to save Marlene from the evil clutches of this company’s hands stopped her from turning around, and now she was going to pay for it.
She was able to recall her training as a young student of Zangan back in Nibelheim, but all of her muscle memory from SOLDIER, her reflexes and her battle strategies, were fading from her head as if they were only a figment of her imagination.
Here she was, the mighty Ex-SOLDIER Tifa fighting off two robots that should have been a piece of cake for her. Yet, here she was, barely able to lift her leg into a kick, or throw her fist as a punch.
A solid, metallic kick in the ribs, followed with a solid punch to her gut and an axe kick to the top of her head sent Tifa plummeting to the ground. She pushed herself back onto her feet, but soon, everything turned into a dull white-gray, and she collapsed once again.
The last thing she saw before passing out was a blur of black and blonde as Elena bulleted into one of the SOLDIER X5’s, landing a side kick square in the robot’s gut as her baton froze the other X5 in place. Seeing the first one stagger back towards the wall, she took the opportunity to follow suit and freeze it with a powerful Ice 3 spell. She had to force herself to forget that there were beings that used to be human inside those suits.
A sudden haughty, boisterous laugh emanated from the intercom sound system around them. Elena recognized that laugh as the woman who was inside the Behemoth when they were escaping from Midgar. Elena kneeled before Tifa’s limp body and checked her pulse and breathing quickly before her protective side took over again. She looked around with only her eyes hiding any kind of weakness her body had felt, “Show yourself, you coward!” She thought it was suspicious that there were no other employees around, but she wasn’t about to complain.. Unless this was part of that bitch’s plan.
“My dear, Prodigy,” The voice started in a motherly voice, echoing down the halls and ringing in Elena’s ears, “You’ve forgotten everything, haven’t you?”
Elena could feel her mind swirling and her body beginning to feel even weaker, “No.. I had forgotten everything before, and we’ve both been remembering the shit ShinRa has done to us..!”
“To us?” The woman repeated, almost mockingly, “I hope you mean what she has done to you.” Unlike the first time they encountered the scientist, her voice wasn’t as mocking as before.
[BGM: Who Am I – FF7 OST
The memories that she had been trying to force away since the morning before were rushing back in a torrent of denial, but truth.
Elena remembered what it felt like to feel her heart ache at the sight of Tifa staring at her with cold, heartless eyes. Her body not responding to her own inward cries of resistance as she was taken to a detention cell and injected with that amnesia inducing serum. She remembered everything. The betrayal, the heartbreak, and the one who caused it all.
“Do you remember now, my dear?” The voice said softly from behind her.
Elena didn’t even turn to look at the woman. She sensed her there. It was that familiar scent that she recognized. This time, it wasn’t Tifa’s familiar scent of a mix of cherries or strawberries, but that strange indescribable scent.
“She.. Betrayed me.” As if in a trance, Elena stood with the remaining energy she had left, staring at the body of the woman she thought she loved. She knew she loved.. But now knew never loved her in return. She had only used her to get to ShinRa.
Suddenly, it seemed like everything they had remembered and gone through in the past few days meant nothing. The blonde was hypnotized by the thought that the girl had never loved her to begin with, and sent her to her own demise of having her memories erased and to live as a Turk.
“Sergeant Elena White. You are now under arrest for conspiracy against ShinRa Inc.,” The voice of a younger Tifa played from the intercom and in Elena’s memory.
It was in a hallway similar to the one they were in at that moment, when Tifa was standing before her with a troupe of SOLDIERs ready to arrest her.
And Elena didn’t even put up a fight because she was too stunned, too betrayed, and too heartbroken to even move. It was a convincing act, if nothing else. So convincing, that she even tricked herself into feeling the pain.
Tifa stood in front of her, arms crossed with a scornful look on her face.. “Take her away.”
Elena felt her body weakening again, further this time, as she collapsed to her hands and knees once again beside Tifa, silent, defeated tears slowing from her eyes to the fabric of Tifa’s top.
Jessie and Yuffie had been desperately trying to reach them through the COM link, but their shouts were subjected only to deafened ears. Yuffie had even tried to re-enter the building, but was stopped by a mass of SOLDIER X5 prototypes. ShinRa wouldn’t allow anyone to interfere with the scientist’s mind games. They had planned for all of this to happen, and the people in the jet could only stare in horror as the events unfolded.
Elena rested her head on top of Tifa’s chest, listening to her steady heartbeat, unaligned with her own racing—doubting—heart filled with confusion and a feeling of dread. For the first time in a long time, they weren’t in sync, and one of the first memories she had regained kept playing in her head in repeat mode.
“Hey, Elena.. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but..”
“Don’t make it sound like we’re gonna die, Tif.. I’ll definitely see you again.”
“But.. In case I don’t see you for a while, then.. I just wanted to say that I’d never forget you.”
“Neither will I. No matter what happens, I’ll always remember you.”
“..I love you, Elena.”
“I love you too, Tifa.”