Premonitions II-C: Crisis Core

BY : Hippo_and_Friends_with_Benefits
Category: Final Fantasy VII > General
Dragon prints: 708
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core, it any characters therin. I am not making any money here.

Chapter 15: Second Date

April 5, 0001

The aquarium was located in Sector Two. It did not stick out like a sore thumb, but the sign and parking lot easily gave it away.

Zack arrived early to find Aerith waiting for him under the awning; he had not forgotten her fear of the sky.

Having listened to Gehrig, Aerith was dressed in her white tank and skirt. She quickly smiled once she noticed that he had arrived; she was beyond happy to see him again. She was also thinking about the end of the date; she was sorely hoping they would kiss.

"Hey!" she greeted as she hugged him. "You're early!"

"You, too!" he replied. He could smell that she was wearing the perfume he had bought her.

Aerith then led him to the ticket booth. Of course, Zack paid for the tickets.

The first room featured fish that were native to the rivers of the Eastern Continent.

"So where are you from?" Aerith asked. "Originally, I mean."

"Gongaga," Zack replied.

"On the Western Continent?" Aerith asked.

"You got it," he answered.

"Do you have family back there?"

"Just my parents," Zack answered.

"Any brothers or sisters?"

Zack shook his head.

"I'm an only child," he said.

"Me, too," she said.

"So it's just you and your parents?" he asked.

"Me and my mom," Aerith corrected. "My dad died when I was seven."

"Oh," said Zack. "I'm sorry."

"Well," she continued, "actually, he would've been if he had lived. My mom adopted me right before he died."

"You're adopted?"

Aerith nodded.

"So I guess my biological father could still be alive, wherever he might be."

At that moment, the corridor ended, and the new couple found themselves at a flight of stairs.

"Stairs," she said out loud.

"No problem," Zack replied with a smile.

He then stood in front of her with his back turned. Then he bent down, reached back, grabbed her legs, and lifted her up onto his back.

Aerith squealed in delight as Zack began to carry her up the stairs, wrapping her arms around his neck. She toyed with the idea of pecking him on the cheek, but ended up resisting the urge. She wanted the timing to be perfect.

The second floor featured fish from the oceans. These were the more colorful ones that most people wanted to see.

"This one's beautiful," Aerith said when observing one of them.

Zack seized the opportunity to flirt.

"So are you," he complimented.

Aerith put her arm around him and hugged him from the side; she had never been complimented like that in her life. It was such a good feeling. She then squeezed his muscles again. She just had to.

"Do you play any sports?" she asked.

Zack shook his head.

"I played basketball until I was ten," he answered. "I don't think that counts. You?"

"I'm a cheerleader," Aerith replied. "I don't know if that counts, either. I've been doing it since I was in sixth grade. It's really fun."

Zack then took Aerith's hand in his.

Aerith was once again on cloud nine; it was something she had been waiting for

. She was still getting used to the fact she was dating someone. Even then, she was waiting for the moment their lips met. She was wondering how it would feel. But, for now, it was time for them to get to know each other.

"So this Angeal guy," Aerith began as they continued down the corridor.

"What about him?" Zack asked.

His mouth dried a little; he still had no idea of his whereabouts.

"Is he your best friend?" she inquired.

"I would say he's more of a mentor to me," he replied. "He's ten years older. I met him when I joined SOLDIER. I guess you could say he's the older brother I never had."

"So he's your best friend," she suggested.

Zack nodded in agreement.

"Gehrig's my best friend," she said. "She's five months older than me."

"How long have you known her?"

"Since I was eight," she replied. "I met her the first day of third grade. My teacher yelled at me on the way in and I was feeling pretty down."

"And Gehrig did something nice?" Zack asked.

"No," Aerith replied with a smirk. "She pulled the chair from me as I was sitting down and I fell on my butt. I looked at her dead in the eyes, and I just found the whole thing so funny I started laughing. And we've been best friends ever since."

"I take it she's not actually a mean person?" he suggested.

Aerith shook her head.

"Gehrig loves pranks," she continued. "In fourth grade she would knock on classroom doors and run away."

"Did she get in trouble?" Zack asked.

She shook her head again.

"She stopped once they were onto her, so no. She then just started laying down on the playground, pretending to be dead. Then, in fifth grade, she found out what a seizure was, so she always pretended to have one. She would also pretend to be drowning in the pool."

It was obvious to Zack that Aerith and Gehrig were rather close. He knew that if he let Aerith down, he would certainly be dealing with Gehrig.

"So where are you originally from?" Zack asked as they passed a tank full of morays.

"I've lived in Midgar since I can remember," Aerith replied. "I went from slum to slum with my biological mom. But she died at the Sector Seven Station when her heart gave out. I was lucky that Elmyra-that's my adoptive mom-just happened to be there. She took me home, and I've been there ever since."

Zack affectionately stroked Aerith's shoulder.

The feeling of his skin on hers was most certainly welcome for Aerith, and it caused her heart to beat faster. Still, she wanted to wait for the right moment.

Zack was silent. He really liked this girl, and her background touched him. Her presence even made him feel easier.

And yet, there was what Angeal had said to him. It remained in the back of his head, like a car scratch that couldn't be fixed.

"Hey, I never asked something." Aerith continued. "How old are you?"

"Seventeen," Zack answered. "You?"

"Sixteen," Aerith replied.

"Do you drive yet?"

Aerith giggled and shook her head. "Driving scares me almost as much as the sky."

There was that reminder. He had never known anyone afraid of the sky before.

"School's on the upper plate," Zack pointed out.

"I know," she agreed. "But it is inside. I'm okay being in the building and the stadium."

"Have you ever been outside the city?" Zack asked.

"Just once," she replied. "I went to Costa del Sol for my sixteenth birthday. And even that was under a roof."

"I see," said Zack.

"Are you sure it's not weird?" she asked.

"Positive," he assured her. "Everyone's afraid of something."

He's got that right. Men are afraid of stuff, too, we just won't admit it. I'm personally afraid of phone calls. Mind you, this is the texting age, and phone calls often bring news of something serious, like somebody's death. That's the burden of my fear of phone calls. Ironically, a lot of people you'll read about in this journal of mine do die, usually in outlandish or even hilarious manners.

"Really?" Aerith asked. "Can I ask you something?"

"Sure," Zack approved.

"What are you afraid of?"

Zack hesitated. He was certainly afraid for Angeal. The man had killed his own mother. Even if it was possible to redeem him, his life would be ruined.

But then, there was the other thing he had feared. Before the whole mess began.

"I guess not becoming a hero," he finally replied.

"Is that why you joined SOLDIER?" Aerith asked.

"Yeah," he confirmed. "My biggest fear is just coming and going and not becoming a hero. And..."

He stopped himself. He almost ranted about Angeal.

"And what?" she asked.

"Nah, forget it," Zack dismissed. "Nothing to talk about on a date."

"It's okay," Aerith insisted.

"My friend Angeal," Zack replied. "He's been acting...not himself lately."

"I hope he's okay," she said.

The upper corridor then ended. In front of them, the path descended, and the young couple could see a descending, spiral ramp, surrounded by glass walls with sun fish, rays, and sea turtles behind them. It was an ocean tank.

"Like this?" Zack asked as he began to lead her down the ramp.

"I love it, actually," Aerith. "It's so calming."

She gazed in amazement as the creatures swam by. She had never seen anything like it in her life.

Halfway down the ramp, Aerith stopped them.

"Can I get a selfie?" she requested.

"Sure," Zack approved.

She pulled out her cell phone, snuggled against him, and took the picture.

They then resumed their way down. At the bottom of the tank, there was a glass tunnel that led to a revolving door. To the right of the door read a sign: BEWARE: YOU ARE ENTERING THE NORTH.

"It's cold in there," Aerith pointed out.

"Do you still want to go in?" Zack asked. "It's okay if it's too cold."

She turned to him and smiled.

"I won't be as cold if you were holding me," she said.

Zack nodded with a smile and led her through the door.

It was almost a different world in the next room. There was artificial snow all over the ground, and snow machines made it continue to fall.

There was a tank with a walrus, one with a polar bear, and one with penguins. There was also sixty or so children there; it must have been some sort of field trip from a school.

Zack and Aerith gazed at each tank for a good five minutes. Each time, Zack stood behind her with his arms wrapped around her torso. She loved that feeling as well. Then, as he was watching the penguins, Zack felt something cold hit his face.

He immediately turned to see Aerith with a playfully guilty look on her face. Her hands were wet with melted snow.

"Sorry!" she said sheepishly.

Immediately, Zack scooped some snow into his hands, made a snowball, and threw it, gently hitting Aerith in the shoulder.

"Sorry doesn't cut it!" he said.

Aerith grinned as she quickly gathered more snow and tossed it in Zack's direction, but the snowball landed at his feet.

"You throw like a girl," he teased.

"I am a girl!" she retorted.

Zack tossed another snowball.

Aerith dodged it, and it rolled down a ramp and disappeared into the darkness.

"What's down there?" she asked.

"Dunno," Zack replied. "I haven't been here in eleven years." He then started down the ramp. "There's only one way to find out."

Aerith took his hand again and followed him down the dark tunnel. Around the corridor, they beheld lights, and could quickly see what was in the tanks: hammerheads, tiger sharks, and mako sharks.

"Wow!" Aerith exclaimed. "This is the closest I've ever been to a shark!"

"This is the closest I ever want to be to a shark!" Zack added.

Aerith giggled.

Zack took a look at one of the mako sharks.

"This one kind of looks like Sephiroth," he observed.

"Who's Seth Roth?" she asked.

"Someone I work with," Zack replied. "Probably one of the best fighter's I've ever seen."

Beyond the shark tanks was a double door that read: STRANGER CREATURES THIS WAY.

"Now this, I've got to see!" Zack announced as he led Aerith through the doors.

The room beyond was still minimally lit. Only here, soothing music was playing over the speaker. There were ten or so tanks in the room, and each of them were full of jellyfish, seemingly pulsating gently to the music. They were illuminated in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple by artificial lights.

Aerith had both her hands placed on her heart.

"Zack!" she gasped. "This is amazing!"

She slowly turned three hundred and sixty degrees, gazing in amazement. When she stopped turning, she was facing Zack, the man who brought her here.

"Zack," she said, "thank you for this."

"Don't mention it," he insisted.

Aerith looked him in the eyes.

It's time, she thought.

She gently placed her hands on his shoulders.

She closed her eyes.

She slowly leaned forward.

And their lips met.

And he wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her back.

It was her first kiss; she had spent her late childhood and early adolescence dreaming of that moment; she now felt like her body was on fire. It lasted a long five seconds. Then they broke the kiss, slightly pulled back, and gazed at each other's faces as Zack gently stroked her hair.

"Does this make you my boyfriend?" she asked.

"You bet it does," Zack replied happily.

Aerith smiled, and put her hands on Zack's cheeks. She then kissed him again for much longer than before. The feeling of his lips pressed against hers gave her a sensation she had never felt before. It was something she couldn't describe, but she didn't care. It was the best feeling she had had yet.

And then, the door opened, followed by the sound of fifty kids entering the room. Zack and Aerith broke the kiss-too late.

"Ew!" cried one of the boys. "They're making out in here!"

"Woooo!" cried another boy. "I bet that's his girlfriend!"

"I think it's time to move on!" Zack suggested.

THAT NIGHT...

"We kissed!" Aerith squealed.

"Great!" Gehrig cheered into her phone.

The two girls were on a video call.

"I got the selfie," Gehrig continued. "How did you get so lucky?"

"I was asking the same thing!" Aerith giggled.

"Well, are you going on date number three?" Gehrig asked.

"The day after tomorrow," Aerith replied. "We're seeing a movie. I guess I need to wear something different this time?"

Gehrig nodded.

"Wear pants this time," she suggested. "He's probably curious about what your legs look like."

"Will do," Aerith said. "Thanks. I wouldn't know. My life's so 'Suitable-for-All-Ages!'"

"My life's been rated 'Eighteen and Up' since last year when I dated Chuckie Knox for three months," Gehrig reminded her. "It leaves you wiser."

Just then, the door to Gehrig's room opened, and an eighteen-year-old with his shirt off appeared in the doorway.

Gehrig spun her head around.

"No, that's my daughter's room!" Mary Ellen called from the hallway.

The shirtless guest disappeared as the humiliated Gehrig dropped her head into her pillow.  She plugged her ears as she heard Mary Ellen start moaning.



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