Life is awful at the moment, but whenever life sucks, we can always turn to fanfiction to make us feel better. At a shitty time like this, there was only pairing I knew I could read in order to uplift my mood: Final Fantasy VII’s Tifa and Aerith. These two were my first foray into the wonderful world of femslash, and as I needed some happiness in my life, I decided to go back to them this week. Second Time Around is a death-fix-it fic where Aerith miraculously comes back from the dead. The first thing she does is show up at Tifa’s bar, where the two consummate their love and start dating like they should have been doing during the actual game.
Tifa thinks it’s she who lucked out. Aerith is sweet and kind, adventurous and open enough to push Tifa to experience so much more of life than her duties at the bar, but sympathetic and gentle enough to back off when Tifa reaches her boundaries.
She’s surprised, then, whenever Aerith seems giddy and starstruck over her. And it’s not just the special look Aerith gives her when she gazes at Tifa lifting weights and practicing her kicks. She does a simple inventory of the bar, figuring out what she needs to order and how much it will cost, and Aerith acts she’s witnessing magic.
“Look at my girlfriend, the genius businesswoman,” she purrs.
Tifa appreciates the compliment, but she feels like honesty requires her to point out it’s really nothing special. “I have to do this,” she protests. “It’s how we stay in business.”
“I couldn’t do it.” Aerith lays her head down on Tifa’s shoulder and quietly watches her work.
Tifa’s not one to see herself as special, but she thinks of all the failed businesses in the world and all the work she puts into running 7th Heaven, and she thinks that maybe she hasn’t been giving herself enough credit. Maybe Aerith is seeing something she couldn’t.
She wraps her hands around one of Aerith’s and whispers, for the first time, “I love you.”
Second Time Around has a bit of a dream-esque feel to it. Tifa doesn’t even ask Aerith how she’s alive until months into the dating process, and that’s because her return isn’t necessary to the tone the fic needs to convey. The main purpose of Second Time Around is to be happy fluff—a beloved character died, so here she is back alive and with the love of her life, no problems and no questions asked. Unsurprisingly, Second Time Around has a “they lived happily ever after” ending.
There’s not a lot of conflict, and instead we get to spend a couple thousand words just watching Tifa and Aerith comfort each other, go on dates, and fall even deeper in love. Both characters are written fairly true to their canon counterparts—Tifa is shy and withdrawn, while Aerith is more outgoing and outspoken, and they work so well together. Probably my favorite part of the story is when Tifa did manage to bring herself to ask Aerith about her miraculous return. The question makes Aerith upset, since she doesn’t want to talk about it, but when Tifa insists that she should know the truth, Aerith tells Tifa that she’s happy Tifa can stick up for herself. Due to support and love, the two are able to work out their differences there and figure out what they need to do in order to move forward
It was exactly the kind of story I needed to read, and if anyone is feeling as awful and uncertain as I am, it might be the kind of story you need as well. At only 3k words, you can blow through the fic fairly quickly, which is its only real downside—honestly, at this point, I’m upset it’s not 300k words, because then it could have distracted me longer. If you’re at all interested, be sure to check it out here on AO3.