Character(s)/Pairings: Tifa, Aerith, light Aerith/Tifa
Summary: Tifa is a worrywart, and nobody knows this better than Aerith. The solution? Handholding, of course.
Note: Forget this love triangle business, I'm determined to re-write FF7 with lesbians. I feel like this should have been longer, for some reason.
Kalm, the little village just outside of Midgar, is not a fancy tourist attraction. Even a few visitors from the city manage to raise a few eyebrows from the local townsfolk, so when Avalanche enters, big swords, gun arms, dog-like creatures, short leather skirts and all, the town is more alive than its been all year. The manager at the inn isn't used to so much business at once—and certainly not used to company like this, but he ushers them in anyway, and they file into the second floor, taking only a few minutes to get comfortable as the attention eventually turns to Cloud.
The rest of Avalanche listens to his story with utmost attention, and aside from a few interruptions by Barret, he gets through his story smoothly. Something about his tale doesn't sit right with Aerith, but she knows better than to call him out on it now, and looking across the room she can by the way Tifa is chewing her lip and playing with the ends of her hair that something isn't right. Their gazes lock for a moment and there is a silent agreement that they will meet up later, when they can talk alone.
It's not a long wait as the others disperse, and some decided to enjoy Kalm before heading off on the long journey ahead, like Barret, who is determined to make himself a hit at the bar (or a complete fool, no one is sure which), and Red XIII, who is both curious about the town and wholly relived to be anywhere but Hojo's lab. Tifa isn't sure what to do with herself yet, aside from wander the town and admire the scenery. In a way it reminds her of Nibelheim, but that's not an entirely comforting thought, especially not at the moment. She finds herself a nice bench to sit on while she's musing.
"Gil for your thoughts?" A pleasant voice interrupts her thoughts, and the marital artist doesn't have to look up to know who it is. Aerith is standing there, leaning forward slightly and smiling at her. Tifa doesn't question how she caught up to her, or how she always seems to know exactly where she wanders off, and accepts it as another one of Aerith's strange quirks. Without waiting for an invitation (because she is always invited), Aerith places herself on the bench next to Tifa, scooting in close.
Tifa response with a small smile. "I miss Marlene," she says, hoping Aerith will understand she fully trusts Elmyra to take care of Marlene, but is so used to being the young girl's mother that it's hard not to worry about how she's doing, if she's eating enough, and if Elmyra is tucking her in at night the way she likes. Aerith doesn't take offense, and while she's never had to raise a child, she knows Tifa well enough to know how she worries about people.
"She'll be fine, don't worry," Aerith responds, and smiles in the way that only she can, which makes Tifa think that she doesn't have to be such a nervous wreck after all. There is something looming over the both of them, though, but Aerith doesn't push the subject just yet. Instead, she kicks her feet a bit and admires the plant life scattered around the area, a welcome change from the metallic feel of Midgar. Tifa desperately wants to break the silence and ask about Cloud—actually, there are several things she'd like to ask Aerith when it came to him, but some matters were more pressing than others.
"You know," Aerith says, scanning the area, "I don't think I could charge so much for flowers if I sold them here, instead." She turns to her friend and smiles in such a way that it's hard not to respond in kind, but the smile on Tifa's face slips easily; there is too much on her mind.
"What are we going to do?" Tifa asks. She knows that she always thinks too much, but Aerith makes every solution seem easy, and when it comes to Cloud is brave in a way that she can't be, at least not now.
Aerith blinks. "Well, we could go shopping, or grab something at the bar..."
Tifa isn't having it. "What are we going to do about Cloud?" she nearly demands, because she can't stand it any longer and she needs to talk to someone about it before she goes insane. Aerith leans back and tilts her head up so that she can look into the sky while considering the question. "Nothing, yet," she says, but that's not good enough for her companion.
"Nothing? That's your solution?" Tifa bites her lip and turns away, the anxiety in her heart worse than ever. "I thought you had all the answers."
Aerith laughs at that, and Tifa's head snaps back to glare at the older woman for daring to make fun of her at a time like this. The flower seller waves her hand apologetically, but still has a grin on her face. "I'm glad you have so much confidence in me, Miss Tifa," she teases. Tifa feels herself heat up in embarrassment and barely resists the urge to scowl.
"Don't make fun, I'm serious. This is serious," she says, and Aerith's smile is gone and replaced with that look, the one that always makes Tifa a little uncomfortable because she feels like she's naked and there's nowhere to hide, because Aerith can see right through her.
"You can't force someone to find themselves. Cloud is strong, we have to trust that he can get himself together." As Aerith speaks, she slides her hand into Tifa's giving the martial artist's hand a tight squeeze. Tifa's eyes drifts down to their clasped hands—Aerith's delicate bangles slide against the brazen leather running up Tifa's arm, but despite the contradiction, their hands fit nicely together, and if Aerith wants to spend her time holding hands and cheering her up, Tifa's in no mood to argue.
"You're right. But until then, we'll look over him, won't we?" Tifa asks, and finds herself squeezing Aerith's hand for reassurance. Aerith brightens and nods, and now it's her turn to let her eyes drift down to their entwined hands on the bench.
"Together," the flower seller promises, and they are content to sit together and chat about everything until the late hour forces them to retire for the night—but neither one is ready to let go of the other, and they walk hand in hand back to the hotel.