Premonitions II-C: Crisis Core

BY : Hippo_and_Friends_with_Benefits
Category: Final Fantasy VII > General
Dragon prints: 702
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core, it any characters therin. I am not making any money here.

Chapter 19: The Fall: Secrets, Body Bags, and Elopements

August 30, 0001

Things more or less returned to normal once the four of us returned home. Zack returned to the SOLDIER floor, often to see Lazard droning into his computer.

Aerith returned to cheer camp that Monday, but had her promised girls' night with Gehrig, which was of course held in Gehrig's kitchen.

"You didn't plan it, did you?" Gehrig asked.

"We made out on the gondola and it got him horny," Aerith replied. "But...wow, you were right. Doing it's amazing."

"Don't just stop there," Gehrig said. "Now you can feel free to be sexy for him."

"Like wearing a crop top on a date?" Aerith asked.

"That," Gehrig replied. "And letting him see some of your underwear, showing off some cleavage..."

"I don't have any low-cut tops," Aerith informed her.

"Then show him the other, hotter cleavage," Gehrig suggested.

"Other cleavage?"

In response, Gehrig stood up and smacked her behind through her jeans with both of her hands.

"Oh," Aerith realized.

Suddenly, Gehrig's face became serious.

"What's on your mind?" Aerith asked.

"Well, now that you've been naked with a guy," Gehrig began, "would you reconsider coming to Costa del Luna with me?"

"The nude beach?" Aerith replied. "I'm afraid not. I'm comfortable naked around Zack, and I'm okay changing in front of girls I know, but a whole bunch of strangers...hey, why don't you just go?"

"By myself?" Gehrig asked. "I don't feel safe doing that. Who wouldn't want to take advantage of a beautiful girl like me?"

"You could always take Mary Ellen," Aerith half-playfully suggested.

"No way!" Gehrig exclaimed. "She's my mom!"

"You could always find a boyfriend and take him," Aerith suggested.

"No thanks," Gehrig dismissed. "No more boyfriends as along as I'm alive."

"You don't think there's dating in heaven, do you?" Aerith asked.

Gehrig shrugged.

"Do you think there's sex in heaven?" Aerith asked.

"There better be sex in heaven!" Gehrig said.

Just then, Mary Ellen came downstairs and appeared in the kitchen, along with another young guy that neither girl had seen before.

Mary Ellen gave Gehrig an embarrassed look.

"You didn't hear us, did you?"

September 6, 0001

Junior year started right on schedule. Gehrig was in three of my classes, so I didn't feel as alone as I previously did. Ronaldo was in a couple as well, but he stayed away from Gehrig, to avoid any Mary Ellen-related awkwardness. On a sour note, Durham was in my chemistry class, but we were good enough to stay the hell away from each other.

September 6 was Gehrig's seventeenth birthday, but Aerith had to cheer at a game, so she, Zack, and I went to the game together, where Aerith would sometimes blow Zack kisses in the middle of a cheer.

We went to the diner afterward. In the background, I could see Croydon and Durham making out.

"Tobin," began Aerith, who was still in her cheer uniform, "don't let it get to you."

"I'm letting it get to me," Gehrig said. "What she did was disgusting."

Zack then turned to Aerith.

"I wish she would just turn to dust," he groaned.

I did feel some relief, knowing that Durham's actions were being met with serious disapproval.

October 25, 0001

"Aerith?" began Zack. "Are you alright?"

Aerith silently nodded.

He was on his back, she was on her stomach. Both of them were naked, as they had just been intimate. But now, it looked like she wanted to cry. In their months of dating, he had never seen her this sad.

"If it's about how they might cut cheerleading next year," he began, "it's just a rumor. Besides, you already got approved for figure skating."

Aerith didn't respond. She retained the same sad look.

"Look," he continued, "I'll still want to date you, regardless of what happens."

Aerith then looked him in the eyes.

"You might change your mind when I tell you something," she finally said.

"I won't," he promised.

He kissed her, pulled her close, and began to stroke her bare back.

And he wondered if this had anything to do with what Angeal had said.

October 31, 0001

I don't celebrate Halloween, because I grew up in bumblefuck, where I had no neighbors to get candy from. Instead, I stayed in. My building was for adults only, so I wasn't expecting anyone to come to my door.

I was sitting on the couch next to Cissnei, and watching whatever show was on. It was one of those nights where we were both off and just decided to stay in.

And then, there was a knock on the door.

"Kids aren't allowed here!" Cissnei groaned.

She got up off of the couch and opened the door. Then, she look down, and became very tense and quiet.

"Tobin," she began in a shaky voice. "Can you come here, please?"

I got up off the couch and joined her at the door, and saw what was troubling her. There was a body bag on the doorstep, and it was occupied.

Cissnei was shaking. As a Turk, she had probably seen dead bodies before, but never at her own home.

"W-who would put it here?" she stammered. "D-do you have any enemies?"

"Not really," I replied.

The only person I could think of was Durham, and how the hell would she get her hands on a dead body?

"This is freaky!" Cissnei protested.

And then, the body bag moved.

Cissnei shrieked and jumped backward, and clutched my arm.

The body bag jolted again.

"Oh my God!" Cissnei cried.

I knew exactly what to do. I bent down and pulled the zipper.

"Tobin, you're crazy," Cissnei commented.

A moment later, the dead body sprang up, giggling.

"Trick-or-treat!" Gehrig shouted with a grin.

She then hugged me before getting up on her feet. She turned her attention to the person she did manage to spook.

"And you must be Sarah?"

"Cissnei," she corrected as she folded her arms.

I found the whole thing hilarious. Cissnei did not.

"So what are you doing in on Halloween?" Gehrig asked.

"I grew up out in the middle of nowhere," I replied. "There were no neighbors, so I never celebrated."

"I was always too...busy as a child to celebrate," Cissnei added.

Gehrig put her hands on her hips.

"Neither of you have ever been trick-or-treating before?" she asked.

Cissnei and I both shook our heads in unison.

Gehrig gave us both one of her evil grins.

"Come with me," she commanded.

MEANWHILE...

Also staying in were Aerith and Zack, but maybe they had a more ligit reason to. Aerith had arrived at Zack's top floor apartment looking innocent, dressed in her white tank and striped skirt. He kissed her and picked her up off the ground. It was then that he noticed the grocery bag where she had been standing.

"I'm going to get into costume," Aerith announced with a smirk as she picked up the bag and walked right by Zack as if he wasn't there, heading straight for the bathroom and closing the door behind her.

Zack, confused, closed the front door and sat down on the couch, wondering what was going on.

And then, he heard the bathroom door open again. A moment later, Aerith appeared in front of him. She was wearing a pair of jeans, along with sandals, a bandana, and a pair of groovy colored glasses. She was topless.

"Happy Halloween!" she said as she pulled Zack off the couch and kissed him.

"So much for a selfie!" he laughed.

"How about one with my back?" Aerith suggested.

Zack attached his phone to a selfie stick as he and Aerith turned their backs to it. Both of them made the peace sign as he took the picture.

"This is such a good feeling!" Aerith exclaimed. "Maybe I should dress like this for the Halloween party?" she teased.

"If you want a decade of detention," replied.

"What's the big deal?" Aerith asked with a smile. "They're just boobs!"

Aerith cooked for Zack that night, remaining topless the whole time. After that, they were cuddled on the sofa. Aerith felt very safe with his arm around her, and yet...

It's time to tell him, she thought. I can't hold this off any longer.

She sat up and turned to face Zack, folding her legs like a pretzel.

"Zack," she began softly, "it's time."

Zack became troubled.

"Time for what?" he asked, although he had a feeling it was what she had hinted in bed earlier.

"Time I told you the truth about me," she said as she clutched his hands. "You need to know this if we're going to keep dating." She then closed her eyes, and lowered her head. "And if you don't want to keep dating me after I tell you, I'll understand."

"Don't tell me she's a Genesis copy!" Zack remembered exclaiming.

"You might wish she was," he remembered Angeal warning him.

Could it be that bad? he thought.

"My mom adopted me when I was seven," Aerith began. "My biological mom and I were on the run, and her heart actually burst from all the stress. She ended up dying at the train station. That's where Elmyra found me."

That's it? Zack thought. She barely told me anything I didn't already know.

Aerith then opened her eyes.

"My biological mother was Ifalna," she continued. "Do you know who that is?"

Zack worked for the Shinra. He was in SOLDIER. Of course he knew who that was.

"The Cetra that was captured by the Shinra," he softly replied.

"Which means I'm a Cetra, too," she said. "Technically, I'm an alien."

He would admit he didn't see it coming. But he also realized that she was the same girl she was yesterday. He found it even more surprising that the whole thing didn't matter too badly to him.

"You're more human than most people I know," Zack assured her. "Especially some of the folks at Shinra."

He then put his fingers to her chin, and gently raised her head. He looked her in the eyes.

"I'm not going anywhere," he assured her.

And he softly kissed her on her mouth.

Aerith smiled, gently stroking his face.

"I want to dance," she announced suddenly as pulled out her cell phone.

That's the thing about Aerith. She liked to giggle and have fun at the most inappropriate times.

A moment later, Jeri Lyons started playing, and Aerith got up off of the couch and started shaking her hips.

"Aren't you going to dance with your girlfriend?" she giggled as she pulled him up.

They danced together through the stupid bubblegum pop song. Thank God I wasn't there, even if I did miss out on seeing Aerith's tits.

At the end of the song, Aerith placed her hands on Zack's shoulders and looked him directly in the eyes. Hers were wet.

"My boobs are out and you're making eye-contact!" she said.

"I'm not dating you for your boobs," he replied. "I'm dating you for you."

Aerith nodded.

"And that's why..."

She stopped. She was nervous. She didn't want to be too forward, either.

"Why...?" Zack repeated.

She blushed, nearly embarrassed. She turned her bare back to him as she spotted a pen and notepad on the TV stand. She quickly wrote something on the notepad and gave it to Zack.

It read: "I want to say the three words, but I've never said them to a guy before. I've always been careful. I don't ever want to get hurt."

Zack knew exactly what she wanted to say.

"I'll never hurt you," he said. "I mean it. I'm not going anywhere."

Aerith nodded. She then greatly took both of his hands and looked him in the eyes.

"I love you," she whispered.

"I love you, too," Zack responded.

He kissed her and pulled her in for a hug.

She squeezed him back and planted multiple kisses on his face.

"You okay now?" he asked.

"Mostly," Aerith replied.

"Mostly?!" Zack inquired.

Aerith smiled.

"Well, we can't do it with out pants on, right?"

Aerith took up the courage to tell me the same thing a couple of days later.

Only with me she was wearing a shirt.

MEANWHILE...

Cissnei, Gehrig, and I were seated at the diner, each with full sacks of candy at our feet. We were all still in our costumes; Gehrig was a witch, Cissnei was a princess, and I was a werewolf.

"This was so fun!" Cissnei said happily.

"Second," I added. "Thanks for taking us."

"Don't mention it," Gehrig replied.

"I can't believe I spent my whole life missing that," Cissnei said quietly. "Actually, I can't believe how much I missed."

That comment left me curious. Cissnei was noticeably less dysfunctional than just about anyone else I knew. She didn't play head games (like Durham), act all arrogant (like Zack), played crude but hilarious pranks (like Gehrig), or try and have fun at inappropriate times (like Aerith).

Now that I realized it, I didn't know anything about her background. It sounded like it was quite different than anyone else's. I wondered what her parents were like. Or if she even had parents.

November 11, 0001

I cloaked myself one evening and spied on Zack on the soldier floor. He was in Lazard's office, awaiting assignment. Lazard was, like before, droning at his computer.

"Still no sign of Angeal?" Zack asked him.

Lazard shook his head without saying a word.

"You'll let me know if you do, right?" Zack then asked.

Lazard did not respond.

Feeling defeated, Zack walked out of the SOLDIER office.

He hadn't seen or heard from Angeal in seven months. He was almost wondering if he was still alive.

And then, Zack heard the tone. It was his email alert.

He pulled out his phone and checked the email.

"Another anonymous note hints at a secret treasure hidden in the marine caves," it read. "If it gets into the wrong hands, it may become a threat to Shinra's very existence. Though the claim is dubious, we should make sure."

Zack was suspicious, but decided not to bother Lazard any more.

LATER...

The marine cave could be accessed to the north of Costa del Sol. As the caves were under the ocean, the temperature was less than pleasant, but the walls naturally illuminated.

Zack encountered his fair share of nasties, and weird ones at that. These included bouncy orange balls that were rather hard to strike, and more green bat-like creatures. Slowly but surely, Zack made his way across the path, and eventually reached the box that presumably contained the treasure.

"I gave you the information on that item," announced a female voice. "Now, if you want it, leave behind a hundred gil."

There was, sure enough, Yuffie Kisaragi, standing next to a large rock she had been hiding behind.

"Whoa, I wasn't expecting that," Zack said. "But it's her again, just as I thought. She's always saying something about restoring Wutai. I can leave a hundred gil for that."

Of course, Zack didn't tell Lazard. The mission did not exist.

December 26, 0001

That December, Zack and Aerith spent their first Christmas together. They spent part of the day with Elmyra, and the rest with Zack's parents in Gongaga.

Gehrig, of course, spent hers with Mary Ellen. The next day, Gehrig was kind enough to invite me over, since I couldn't go home for Christmas. We mainly watched movies and had take out, but I'll skip to the interesting part. Obviously, that was when Mary Ellen butted in.

"My bedroom door's broken," she announced. "A screw fell out at the top."

She then, predictably, turned towards me.

"I have a screw driver," Mary Ellen continued, "but it's the top latch and I can't reach. Would you mind screwing it back in?"

You mean, "would you mind screwing me?" Gehrig thought.

"No problem," I agreed.

I agreed because I didn't want to sound like a dick, if you'll pardon the pun. Gehrig gave me a troubled look as I began to follow Mary Ellen upstairs.

I gave her a "don't worry" wink.

Mary Ellen was, by all means, hot for a woman her age. But the fact that she was old enough to be my mother meant that she had no chance with me. No way and no how.

Anyway, she led me to her bedroom. Marks on the carpet suggested a stool had been there; she had unscrewed it on purpose. She just wanted to get me up here.

I duly climbed up on the stool and screwed the screw back in. Before I get anyone's hopes up, I'll tell you right now that's all I screwed up there.

I got down, and Mary Ellen made her move. She put her hands on my shoulders.

"You've been a really good friend to my Gehrig," Mary Ellen began.

"She's been good to me," I said as I gently tried to resist. "It's only fair."

"Want me to take your pants off?" she offered.

I was surprised. I knew she was a notorious cougar, but I never thought she'd move that fast.

"No thanks," I replied as I backed away.

In response, Mary Ellen lifted up her shirt and bra, exposing her breasts.

"Are you sure?" she asked seductively.

"Positive," I replied as I turned around and darted down the steps.

Mary Ellen didn't follow me; at least she knew that no meant no.

Gehrig was standing in the parlor.

"You heard?" I asked.

Gehrig nodded.

"I'm speechless," she replied. "You're the first boy who's ever resisted her."

"I didn't come to see her," I said.

Gehrig smiled, almost as if she wanted to cry. In a good way, of course.

Meanwhile, we could smell the odor of Mary Ellen smoking marijuana coming from the stairs.

December 31, 0001

Meanwhile, Aerith and Zack were spending New Year's at the latter's place. The TV was on, and at the moment they were at the part where they play that sad music and show pictures of everyone who died that year.

Suddenly, Aerith began to look into her phone in shock.

"What's wrong?" Zack inquired.

"She got married!" she exclaimed.

"Who?" he asked.

"Durham," she clarified. "Tobin's ex."

"Where?" Zack asked.

"At a chapel in Wall Market," she replied. "About an hour ago. Looks like she did it on a whim!"

"How old is she?"

"Eighteen," Aerith replied. "Unless, of course, she lied about her age." She paused. "Poor Tobin."

"He dodged a bullet," Zack suggested.

"His rebound time is over," she said. "One of the sophomores on the cheer squad likes him."

I found out, too, but I didn't really care. Zack was right; I dodged a bullet.

Durham duly dropped out of school, and I never saw her there again. And that ended the last chapter of my life with Durham. And good riddance.

January 1, 0002

The next day, I cloaked my self and went to the SOLDIER floor to find Zack staring out the window. His phone was to his ear, and I could hear the endless dial tone.

"Come on, pick up!" he muttered.

"Who are you trying to call?" asked the infantryman nearby.

"Sephiroth," Zack replied. "I haven't been able to reach him in ages.

"Haven't you heard?" asked the infantryman. "Mr. Sephiroth has shit himself inside the data room and hasn't come out. Handsets are prohibited in the data room, so there's not much you can do."

"Data room?" Zack asked.

"He is apparently researching the history of the Shinra Science Department," the infantryman explained.

And then, his phone rang.

"Is this Sephiroth?" Zack asked himself before checking the caller ID.

Not even close.

"Aerith, what's up?" he answered.

"Um, I wanted to ask...when will you make it for me?"

"Make what?" he began.

"The flower wagon," Aerith confirmed. "Did you forget?"

Oh, shit!

"No!" Zack quickly said. "Of course I didn't forget. Hold on, I'll be right there!"

He was able to leave pretty easily, as it was New Year's Day, and most employees were only coming in to fix odds and ends.

So off Zack went, out of the Shinra Building and through the streets. He ran, so I had to run to keep up with him.

I got in the elevator to the slums with him, and, I'll be damned, he noticed me...sort of.

"This elevator smells like Tobin's body spray," he said to himself.

He never did find out the bigger truth.

When we hit the slums, I realized he was heading for the church.

What Aerith always does there is beyond me. Her mom used to take her there every Sunday, but Aerith's religious beliefs are some odd pantheistic animism.

In any case, as he passed the market, he got an encounter seven months in the making.

Angeal landed behind him.

Zack could almost tell by his presence, and quickly spun around.

"Angeal?!" he exclaimed. "Where have you been?!"

"Apologies," Angeal replied, "but I am a busy man."

"Yeah, whatever," Zack said. "I haven't been able to contact Sephiroth either."

"Has something happened?" asked Angeal.

"Not really," Zack replied. "He's just been holed up in the data room, reading old reports and such."

"I see," said Angeal.

With that, he turned, and prepared to launch himself.

"Hey!" Zack protested. "No where are you off to? I just don't know with you these days!"

"Genesis and Hollander are in Modeoheim," Angeal replied.

"You came to tell me that?" Zack protested. "Are you actually working?"

"I'm still SOLDIER at heart, I suppose," Angeal answered. "I've informed Lazard as well. They'll come pick you up soon."

And then, off Angeal went.

Zack shrugged. There was so much on his plate, he had little time to consider what Angeal was up to. But in any case, Aerith was waiting for him. I would say hoes before bros, but Aerith was anything but. She was becoming a sexaholic fast, but at least she was exclusive.

He ran through the playground and made it to the church. He then began to climb the steps.

"Zack, I need you in Modeoheim," called a familiar voice.

"I know," Zack replied without turning around; he already knew it was Tseng. "Just give me a minute."

"Aerith isn't there," Tseng informed him.

And then, Zack did turn around.

"Problem?" Tseng continued.

"And how is it you know Aerith?" Zack inquired.

"It's complicated," Tseng replied as he folded his arms.

"Really," said Zack suspiciously.

"Did she tell you anything?" Tseng asked.

"Not a thing," Zack lied.

"Then...I won't, either," Tseng said.

I think he knew Zack was full of shit, but he certainly had more important things to worry about.

Suddenly, dirt began to fly, and a helicopter landed behind Tseng.

Zack groaned as he duly walked toward the chopper.

"Well, whatever, I guess," he muttered. "Whaaaatever."

He did not see the white feather blow away behind him.



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