You didn’t pull the trigger, the girl says - and behind the mask of humility Hojo’s eyes widen slightly, true surprise breaking through for the briefest of moments before he pulls the lines on his face back into place.
Was she trying to reassure him?
What a strange …
Ah yes, the flowers. Which, according to Ifalna, possessed souls and personalities all their own. The garden she used to tend floated back to mind - wispy memories triggered by the familiarity of this child - along with the blooms the older woman had insisted on bringing into his office, week after week, until she finally became too debilitated to sustain any life but her own and that of her daughter’s.
If you won’t tell me your troubles, Ifalna had said, fussing over another pot of tropical spectacles she had somehow coaxed into blossom in the sunless temperate of Midgar, you can try talking to them instead. Plants have ears, you know, and hearts as well. And maybe if you paid them some attention they’ll stop sulking and grow for a change!
By the time Aerith cultivated her own field in the slums of the city, Ifalna’s had long become a deserted patch of dirt and organic debris. Aerith chatted to the flowers too - Tseng’s reports had stated as much - and Hojo couldn’t decide now whether it was admirable or pitiful, the way she spoke of their company. At least I’ve still got my flowers. Was that really all she had? What had happened to the stray SOLDIER that held her affections for a while, and the band of rogue misfits she had found herself in before he lost track of her last?
Fragile. Confused. Vulnerable. Alone.
This was almost too easy.
So, why the nagging feeling of reluctance, obscuring his goals and impeding his actions like a fog? The rose left Hojo’s hand with another brush of flesh. The tear falling down Aerith’s face made the scientist inhale deeply, brows knitted for a moment as if impatient, and he would’ve looked away again had she not taken his sleeve and began once more to move.
Apparently, the weakness bestowed by her mother was still inherent in him; the weed visibly removed while the roots remained. But Hojo had vowed never to repeat the same mistake twice. Thrice. And this was just another obstacle with which to test his conviction.
"Your mother was pure-blooded, Miss Aerith," he answered, unresisting to her urgent pulling, "and that aside, she had had more time to come to terms with… the cries of the Planet." Just how much time was anyone’s guess, though it became clear almost immediately that the Ancient had been much older than her physical appearance. “With your… disposition, interpreting Gaia’s varied voices would be much harder than it was for her, and living as Ifalna did might be an impossible feat.
The hand extending from the sleeve she was holding turned upward, caught her slender wrist gently and slid down, until her palm was within his and her fingers were freed from their desperate grasp. Hojo held on for a moment, forcing himself to look into those turbulent pools of emerald green, and pouring into the gaze all the sympathy he could muster:
"…perhaps… if you came away with me… I could find some way to help you."
Before letting go, with a well-calculated apologetic laugh. “Though, of course, you have every reason to refuse!”
- ancientflower reblogged this from moralmisconduct and added:
- moralmisconduct reblogged this from ancientflower and added:
- ask-reeve likes this
- albedosoyna likes this