The Flower Complex

[01.09.02] » by SilvyrWing

Sixty years passed like the blink of an eye for me, and now I stood once more outside this hallowed ground where everything began. I'd never been inside… the city life just wasn't suited for one of my tastes… but as the days wore on, I had the insatiable desire to explore it and add to the library of information that my mind had become. I liked to learn, and liked to share my information with the inhabitants of the canyon. This, however, was an experiment of sorts for me, since I would be the first intelligent creature to even see the inside of Midgar since Meteor, Holy, and the Lifestream had converged there.

"Wait up, Nanaki!" The voice came from behind. "What's your hurry, huh? Midgar ain't goin' anywhere."

"Grandmother…" I replied, turning to slow my pace for her. It was easy to forget how frail and slow humans could be at such a young age. She had to come, though. She had to be there to see… for she was there at the beginning, too.

"None of that grandmother stuff! I'm younger than you!" She smiled, running a gloved hand through her short-cropped gray hair. Admittedly, she was still strong despite the fact that she was nearing ninety human years, and she pulled herself over the rocks we climbed with only a little difficulty. It pained me to see her so aged, where not too long ago as my life goes, she had been full of energy and spirit. Her red-wine eyes still gleamed with that spirit, even if her body was reluctant to do the same.

"Tifa, then," I corrected myself, also smiling. I couldn't help thinking that my smile was, perhaps, sad. She was the last one, outliving Cloud for a year already, and Many of the others for almost a decade. Never once did that sweet smile waver, though, and for that, I was glad.

It was quite a shock to both of us, after climbing over all the rubble and plant matter, to learn that the Sector 5 gate was still sealed tight. A green bar of light still glowed over the sealed door, which meant that the Mako reactors inside were still functioning at some level. Amazing, though not amazing enough to hide my disappointment. I started to turn from it and look for another way in, but the base of the city was still solid, even if the top was completely crushed. I pawed at a rock, defeated.

Tifa, however, giggled. It was a pleasing sound, and gave me a bit of hope. I looked up at her as she spoke. "Ah, I may be slower than you, but I thought ahead, see? I have the cardkey." She inserted the shiny silver plate into the slot next to the door, and it slid open, pouring a good amount of dust onto both of us. "Cloud never threw anything away… perhaps that was one of his better ideas."

I took a step inside, anticipation overwhelming me. When the dust cleared… I saw perhaps the most beautiful thing nature had ever created… The entire sector was encased in a shell of diamond, which sparkled brilliantly in the afternoon sun. The pressure from the Three Forces must have crushed the very city itself, even before it was leveled. I couldn't quite explain it… but all the buildings were perfectly preserved, only… diamond. Even the ground was transformed, and it was almost as if we walked on glass. "This is incredible," I said, breathing in the air. It was pure and clean.

Tifa looked eastward, toward a crystalline steeple that rose in the distance. The air itself was silent for several moments before she finally spoke, and in her voice I detected an uncharacteristic melancholy. "Ah, sweet Aeris… What's become of your garden?"

I bowed my head, also remembering. Aeris was a wonderful human. I didn't even mind when she scratched behind my ears. Though she had only been gone a short time for me, it literally seemed like an eternity. "She is watching all of us," I said.

Tifa suddenly appeared to be ten times frailer than ever before, and she slumped to the ground with a pitiful "oof."

"I cannot wait to rejoin them all," she whispered, grinning through the tears. "Cloud… Aeris… Barret… Even…. Even Sephiroth We can talk about old times again. Dear Yuffie, and Cid. I wonder if Reeve has a Cait Sith in the Lifestream? Did Vincent finally find Lucrecia? Ah, Nanaki, I shant be leaving this place. I feel… this is where I've been called."

"What?! Tifa? Of course we will be leaving…!"

She smiled sadly, and shook her head. "Please, I'd like to be alone now… You've encouraged me all along our journey here, and now I'm tired."

Her beautiful head lay back against the crystal ground, and she shut her eyes. I watched for a long time but she made no movement except for breathing. I am ashamed to admit that watching that display grew quite boring, and I was finally compelled to leave her to her reverie and slip away on quiet paws toward the church.

It was hard not to look back to her, since she had been my best friend and companion since Meteor had been destroyed. I watched her children and grandchildren grow up and have families of their own, while I still remained young. My century of winters saw both war and peace, times of hardship, and times of plenty, yet I still had one thing that remained to be accomplished; Never once had love come my way. I was in the prime of my life, approaching an age where I felt compelled to make something of myself, yet there was nothing for me to do. In this world, I was alone.

"Sweet Aeris indeed." My voice was awed as I looked upon the crystal-covered church. "I've heard so many stories of Midgar, yet none did this place justice." The door to the church had fallen slightly off its hinges before it had been compressed into diamond, allowing me entrance. Sun glinted off the many facets on the floor and around the alter, causing colorful halos to dance gleefully around like little faeries. As I stood admiring the natural beauty that had risen from the slum, a chromatic panel caught my eye, one that was encased in crystal. I could see the stained glass windows right through the shell of diamond.

"Wha…?" I wondered out loud, drawing closer to it. It was a physical impossibility. The window should have become diamond itself, not simply been covered by it.

"It'sss beautiful, isssn't it? Nexsst time you might want to asssk beforrre you enterrr somebody'sss home."

The voice was sweet and musical. Heavily accented, yet perfect in every way. I turned, my eye scanning the shadows for its source. Nothing.

"Eckk Rrrwo Ml'Orrr Cssst."

My native language. Fate has brought you here. Silence reigned for many minutes before the two red eyes appeared. I was instantly defensive, backing up a ways to accommodate the fact that whatever was in the shadows was nearly on top of me.

It didn't attack, merely laughed an alluring chuckle. Silver paws revealed themselves gracefully, stepping out of the shadows in the likeness that the sun danced between the crystal facets. I saw her tail then, tipped with a glowing sapphire flame. She was tattooed in red, swirled with the images of a proud hunter. A silky black mane covered her neck and back, a color that sorely stood out against the pureness of the diamond.

"Who are you?" I asked, my fear successfully quenched, and my interest piqued. "How did you get into Midgar? The perimeter is sealed."

"Therrre arrre otherrr waysss," she said, looking up at the giant vines that hung everywhere. "Many, many waysss, but you, child of the humansss… You arrre, sshall I sssay… Out of prrracticsse.

"I've been herrre, in and out, forrr yearsss. I keep the company of the ssspirrritsss that dwell within. Ssshe's told me about you… The one named Aerrrisss… And… I've been waiting. I knew you would come."

"Aeris? You talk to her?" I smiled, stepping forward, closer to her.

"Yesss… I guarrrd this garrrden. My talent… We all have one… Isss talking to thossse that have passsed on, into the lifessstrrream. It helpsss them to heal… And many, many ssspirrritsss that lived herrre needed healing. They werrre thossse that werrre not rrready to die. The coming of Meteorrr… it took them by sssurrrprrrissse."

"You speak as if your task is finished, Mysterious One."

"It isss, and you may call me Django."

"Django. These people that died here… They are at rest now?" I looked down at the floor, noting the perfectly preserved flowerbed beneath my feet. It was as if it had been encased in ice. I wondered if the people that lived here suffered the same fate as those flowers.

"They arrre," She replied. "I am frrree of my tasssk. The ssspirrritsss bid me farrrewell. They have gone on to become parrrt of the life forcsse of thisss planet."

I pondered a while, allowing her to size me up for a time. "I wish to ask you a question," I finally said. She tilted her head to one side, and nodded once. "Perhaps you know the answer. Why didn't the very walls themselves become diamond? Why is it only a shell?"

She laughed heartily, raising a paw as if to strike. I cowered back a little, expecting a good cuff upside the head. Instead, she lowered outstretched talons to the floor, digging a trail of clawmarks within it. Clear shards whipped up into my face.

"It isss glasss," Django said. "Beautiful, yet brrreakable, jussst asss we all arrre." She chuckled again, seating herself comfortably before continuing. "Holy and the Lifessstrrream vaporizssed Meteorrr, and it was ssso hot, that it fell to the grrround asss molten glasss. At leassst, that isss what I believe. I wasss not herrre."

"It's a good theory," I said. "Ah, I could never imagine that glass could fool me in such a way. It was as beautiful as crystal."

"Beautiful and frrragile," Django whispered. "They tell me that one named Tifa hasss joined them."




She was just as I'd left her, lying on her back and gazing upwards at the setting sun. Seeing her filled my heart with a sullen melancholy. I knew she was gone, but from a distance it looked as if she was only resting; the sun played tricks upon the faceted glass, dancing around and giving the illusion that she was breathing.

"I do not understand, Django," I whimpered. The distinct tremble in my voice embarrassed me, as only a cub would cry as I was crying now now. Django, however, placed a silver paw on my shoulder, urging me forward. Her fiery eyes were somber now, the ruby sparkle all but gone, and it hurt me to see her so. I did not understand why such a beautiful creature should ever have to suffer.

"You mussst go to herrr. You mussst pay yourrr lassst rrrespectsss. Then we ssshall carrry herrr to the chapel…"

"The chapel…? Why?" I blinked my astonishment.

"Go, Nanaki…" She chuckled gravely. "You will sssee. My time herrre hasss taught me thingsss…"

How desperately I longed for her to continue! The sweetness of her voice would surely sooth the bitterness of Tifa's death, but the silence that fell upon the city of glass was the only comfort offered. Countless moments passed before I stalked forward on heavy paws, each footfall hitting the crystal floor with a gentle tick. The bouncing sunlight served as a curb of sorts, skirting me around the slight rise where Tifa lay. Hesitation caused the curb to become an impregnable fortress.

Why was I so upset? My mind raced as I slowly circled - there was no reason for this misery. Tifa had led a marvelous life, and she had even admitted that she was more than ready to die. Perhaps it was because she was the last of those that stood on the airship, Highwind, as Meteor was reduced to a memory? No, it was more than simple nostalgia. She'd been a friend, and a dear one at that, for many years.

The life of a human… Was it really nothing? I still looked forward to ten thousand years of life, so ninety years of human existence should not have mattered.

But it did.

It mattered, just as a single rose within the thorns matters. The rose's life is short, limited to a single summer, while the thorns around it live on and on for a long time. Yet even in that single summer, the rose has such a profound effect. It makes the thorns beautiful.

Tifa… Aeris, Cloud, Vincent… All of them… They had been my roses. They had never failed to brighten my life. And now…

I broke through the fortress, stepping into the casket of sunlight that had formed around her. To my surprise, the frailty that had overcome her just before death had vanished, and though Tifa was still physically aged, her smiling expression conveyed youthful vigor. Unable to help myself, I gently trailed outstretched claws through her hair. She was happy, thus, it would be logical for me to feel the same.

I was unable to convey any emotion, other than remorse, until my eyes fell upon the yellow flower she had firmly clasped in her hand. Shocked, I looked around for where such a thing may have come from, but saw only glass.

"That isss the mysssterrry of thisss plassce." Django approached as if on angels' wings, so silently did she tread. "All who die herrre are prrresented with a gift. She wasss the firrrssst sssince Meteorrr ssstrrruck. You arrre the firrrssst live witnesss besssidesss me, who hasss ssseen it."

"I think… I am sure that I would like to know more." I touched the petals of the flower, taking care that I did not harm it.

"Then you ssshould asssissst me in trrransssporrrting herrr to the churrrch," Django replied, easing her nose under Tifa's neck. I did likewise, lifting Tifa over my nose and on to my back. We stood close together with our cargo stretched between us, neither one willing to admit to the other that we could have each carried her easily individually. I liked this closeness. It created a warm feeling in my heart that remained.

It was no wonder, either. She was a beautiful creature, and I found myself enthralled by her very presence. Carefully, reverently, I nuzzled under her chin, into the soft black angora fur that grew there. Instinctively, we both knew that it was a symbol of acceptance. Personally, I knew that if she drew nearer, she had accepted me as well.

She came closer then, delicately coming into contact with my flank. In my elation, I nearly forgot that Django had yet to show me the funerary rights due to those that had died within Midgar. It was a confused heart that approached the church then. The structure rose nearer now, and the sun, now almost vacant from the sky, painted rainbows around the stained glass. It seemed to be a perfect setting, one with the beauty due to a dear friend.

We set Tifa down in front of the alter, and as Django arranged the flower with practiced paws, I was content to watch from a distance.

After many minutes, those ruby eyes turned upwards. "Join me…" she said softly, and then she began to hum. At first, the notes seemed random, and I could not comprehend the melody. After a time, however, my voice joined in on its own accord, and the song of the Lifestream, long forgotten by myself, filled the dusky air.






"Daddy! DADDY!!!"

It was with some persuasion from my life-mate that I lifted my head off of my front paws, and glared at the twins. I couldn't suppress a chuckle; they looked so much like me when I was that age… ah, the tender age of fifteen summers. It was obvious that they were already agile, as they bounded over the rocky terrain with ease, but they still had so much growing to do.

"Daddy! Aeris says you met Mommy in a big metal city! Izzat true? Huh?" The young one looked at his sister, and received a rather rude raspberry in response.

" 'Course it's true, y'ol Firetail!" Aeris turned to me, her lower lip extended in a pitiful pout. "Tifa tol' me so! Daddy! Tell Hagan that it's true!"

I looked over at our oldest daughter, who wore a ridiculously silly grin. She shrugged her shoulders casually while allowing a bit of a chuckle to escape her parted maw. "Tifa?" My voice held a hint of scolding, but it was hard to remain angry with her. Our firstborn was as beautiful as her mother, with her eyes, her build, even the blue flame on her tail. She was a strange, peppered blend of red and gray fur, and when she moved, the varying colors made her the likeness of a wildfire. Tifa was just entering her two-hundredth summer, and by all rights, could have left long ago. Her younger brother, who was seventy-five years Tifa's junior, had left just last year, and yet Tifa remained. Perhaps it was a female thing…

"Daddy!!" Aeris, demanding as ever, hailed my attention again.

"Izzit true?" Hagan asked, trying to shove Aeris aside.

Django spoke up at last. "It isss trrrue, my childrrren. Perrrhaps yourrr fatherrr will take you therrre? Eh, Nanaki?"

I laughed heartily, which drew confused gazes from the twins. "Ah, I suppose. It is time for you to stretch your legs, my children. Are you prepared for a good run?"

Aeris and Hagan simply looked at each other and smiled. They had never yet left Cosmo Canyon and had been bothering me to take them on their first Age-Journey for several weeks now. It would be to the exact same place I'd taken Tifa, and then Feral, when he'd come of age. "It won't be easy, you know! It's very far away! We will have to cross water, and forests…"

"We'll go!" They answered in unison, paws stamping the earth in anticipation. The beads and feathers in their manes jingled as the bounced.

"Will you be okay with our newborn son, my Flower?"

Django moved her paw aside as I nuzzled her, to reveal a tiny silver cub. He turned over, and looked up at me with strange green eyes. He had my father's eyes…

"Sssephirrroth will be fine," she replied with a purr. "And our daughter will help me take care of him while you are away."

"Of course I will!" Tifa nodded, a smile spreading across her maw. "That's what I'm here for!"

"You jussst have a sssafe trrrip, and hurrry back," Django said. She lowered her nose to Sephiroth's forehead, and his tiny claws batted at it. He would be a handful one day, just as his namesake was.

"Let us go, my children," I said. "Let us go see where everything began."

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