Bitter Ash: Part 2: Cry Not for Me
Dying... Im dying...
The Turks illustrious leader fell against a hard, stone
altar, cursing the pain that coursed through his weakening body.
His blood, sticky and warm, congealed on his hands. Inside of the
Temple of the Ancients, Tseng had run into the great Sephiroth.
His proof of the meeting was a thin hole straight through his
chest where the Masamune had sliced through. Stumbling against
the sandstone walls of the ziggurat, wounded, he had reached the
entry chamber. Telling himself he would only rest for a moment,
Tseng slumped over the altar in the rooms center, staining
Dying... Im going to die alone...
Things were slowly beginning to fade away when he heard voices
coming from outside. All three were familiar, but the one he
She bounded into the room and exclaimed in her usual, cheerful
manner, "Hey! Its Tseng!"
Cant... let her see me like this. She always... seems
to find me... in weakness, he thought, and forced himself
from the altar, grunting with pain.
"Tseng?" Cloud said, entering behind her. "The
Tseng knew he had to tell them, no matter how much he despised
them; someone had to stop Sephiroth, and it didnt seem that
he would have much longer to find someone to tell. If he
didnt, everything would be destroyed-- his family and his
Turks. A tiny smile crossed his lips. Elena would be a good Turk
someday-- she was just new. It was too bad he wouldnt be
around to see it, but he could do what was in his power to make
sure she got the chance. Only Tseng held the truth.
"Uh..." he grunted. "Weve... been had."
Breathing heavily with exertion, he slumped onto the floor.
"Its not... the Promised Land... Sephiroth is
Cloud moved quickly forward. "Sephiroth? is he
Tseng raised a quivering hand towards the altar. "Look...
for yourself..." Strength gone, his arm dropped of its own
accord. "Damn..." he muttered. "Letting Aeris go
was the start... of my... bad luck." It had been. Why had he
done it then? Why had he let her go?
Because youre a pathetic sap, that why. You thought
that somewhere, deep down, the little brats games
werent just games, he told himself bitterly. You
thought that maybe, just maybe she cared what happened to you,
and so you were gonna care what happened to her. This is what you
get for it. And now Aeris waltzes in, looks at you, and says--
cheerfully-- "Oh look! Heres Tseng!" Nevermind
that hes dying.
But he had to tell them... "The President... he was
wrong..." Tseng managed.
Aeris stepped up to him, hands on hips. "Youre wrong,"
she cried, seeming rather like a child who thinks he has won an
argument. "The Promised Land isnt like what you
imagined." She turned away from all of them.
Could she not even let him finish? He was dying, and she would
not even let him finish a sentence.
"And Im not going to help you," the Ancient
continued. "Either way, there was no way Shinra could have
won." Moving into the farthest corner, she leaned against
it, mouth set stubbornly.
A bitter smile twisted Tsengs cracked lips, but it
quickly changed into an anguished expression as a he spasmed in
pain. "...pretty harsh..." he forced out. "Sounds
like something... youd say."
Forcing himself up, he pulled a small, hard object from the
pocket of his expensive suit-- one that was now covered in blood.
Holding it out to Cloud, he instructed, "The Keystone...
place it... on... the altar..." Cloud took the ancient
stone. His task complete, Tseng stumbled into a corner and
slumped over. No one offered to help him, not even the girl he
had grown up with, the girl he had allowed to toy with him for
years. She gave him no assistance, even in his dying moments.
Cloud pocketed the Keystone and walked over to Aeris, facing
away from her back. "You crying?" he asked softly.
Aeris shook her head lightly and turned to face him.
Of course she isnt, Tseng thought angrily. Has
she ever? She has gone through life cheerfully, smiling, never
stopping to think about the consequences of anything she did.
Everything was a game to her... even other people...
"...Tsengs with our enemy, the Turks, but Ive
known him since we were little... Theres not alot of people
I can say that about. In fact, theres probably only a
handful of people in the world who really know me." Aeris
looked at him for a brief moment.
Oh, and Im one of the lucky few, right, Aeris? One of
the few people who know how you really are. Who are the others? Certainly
not Elmyra, but that SOLDIER, Zack, probably knew. Yes, he
did, didnt he Aeris? And look what happened to him. What
about you, Cloud Strife? Will you ever know? Are you next? Yes,
it was truly a pity that only a few people in the world really
Cloud and the others stood around the altar. "Lets
put the Keystone in," he said, pulling it from somewhere on
Im dying... Not long now...
They could not leave; she could not leave him. If they
did, he would die alone.
Does she really care about anyone? he wondered. Does
she really care about me? If she had any sympathy for him,
she would stay. Even Aeris could not leave a man she had grown up
with to die alone in this ancient temple.
The Keystone clicked into place. As it had for Tseng, the
altar began to glow a brilliant blue.
She couldnt leave him. No now, not here. She
wont; I know it...
An elevator opened in the floor. It led to a vast underground
maze, he knew. Aeris and her companions stepped onto the elevator
platform. It whirred to life and sunk into the floor. Cloud,
Aeris, and the Seventh Heaven waitress slowly disappeared.
The Ancient didnt even look back, Tseng thought,
just a little sorrowful. His body didnt hurt anymore; a
numbness was slowly spreading to his limbs. But another hurt
flickered in his mind, faintly-- one that he tried desperately to
stamp out with anger. Why did he always manage to let her hurt
I am dying, and she seemed like it wasnt a big deal
to her, Aeris acted like she didnt even care, he
thought angrily. No words of comfort had been offered; the only
thing she had even said to him had been harsh, cruel. She was an
Ancient; they were supposed to have some sort of powers,
werent they? Why then, did she not even try to help him?!
Tseng had always assumed-- or hoped-- that she cared,
somewhere, even just a small bit, about him. Not so much because
he wanted any feeling returned, but because it would somehow make
life seem right to him, more just. But now he knew that
she didnt care-- not about him, Tseng, her childhood
companion, and not about him as a person in general, a dying
person in need of assistance that he would never ask for. As the
numbness encompassed him and life drained from his body, he
heaved a bitter sigh and knew the truth, finally. She didnt
She didnt... give... a damn...
Author's Notes: One section in which
Square made Aeris seem rather cruel and inhuman to me was Tseng's
death. She professed to have known him for a long time, but yet
she hardly seemed to care when he died. In fact, she really
didn't even talk him, or try to lessen his pain-- even if it was
impossible to heal him. This is simply how I thought Tseng, in
this scenario, might see it.
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