Premonitions II-C: Crisis Core

BY : Hippo_and_Friends_with_Benefits
Category: Final Fantasy VII > General
Dragon prints: 709
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core, it any characters therin. I am not making any money here.

Chapter 22: The Mystery of the Pink Carnation

February 7, 0002

Aerith had a figure skating competition on her seventeenth birthday, so Gehrig and I went with Elmyra to support her. We got front row seats at the arena, and Gehrig brought one of those expensive cameras with a detachable lens.

Zack wasn't with us; the recent AVALANCHE attack forced him to Junon. He had been gone for over a week, and Aerith didn't seem to object, but the vibe she was leaving suggested otherwise.

It certainly didn't show when Aerith came out onto the ice. She was dressed in a red costume studded in rhinestones, and I almost didn't recognize her in it. I might have mentioned that Aerith started figure skating because cheerleading was rumored to be getting cut. It wasn't, but I was amazed at how graceful she was on the ice. She did triple lutzes. She did triple axles. It was a side of Ms. Gainsborough that I had never seen before. Elmyra told me she used to figure skate as a child, but didn't pick it up again until last summer. She seemed to be born for it.

The judges agreed with me, and awarded Aerith first place. Afterward, Aerith had a picture taken of myself, her mother, and the trophy. Gehrig took the picture, which was why she wasn't in it, but the two girls took a selfie with Gehrig's cell phone right afterward.

Afterwards, Aerith changed into a tee shirt and jeans, and joined Gehrig and I at the diner. We bought her dinner, of course, and had the entire staff sing to her. She seemed happy, and, needless to say, kept telling the both of us how grateful she was.

But when it was just the three of us, Aerith became rather quiet. At first, we though she was just exhausted from the day.

And then, a tear fell from Aerith's eye. One tear turned into several. Soon, her eyes were bright red.

"What's wrong, Aerie?" asked Gehrig as she put her hand on her friend's shoulder.

"It was my biggest moment," she sobbed. "And he missed it."

Gehrig stroked her shoulder; there was nothing she could do to change it.

"At least you guys were there," Aerith continued to sob as she put one hand on Gehrig's and clutched mine with the other. "Sorry," she apologized. "I know we're here to have fun."

"Don't worry about it," Gehrig assured her. "We're here for you."

She finished crying soon afterward, but she was completely drained from her boyfriend not being there. We eventually took Aerith home, hugging her and making sure she was okay.

I then walked Gehrig home, as she was still afraid to walk by herself.

"Thanks again for walking me," she said.

"No worries," I assured her.

"I'm a little worried about Aerie and Zack, though," she admitted. "They seemed perfect until tonight."

"Do you think they'll break up?" I asked.

"I hope not," Gehrig replied. "But I've never seen Aerie this upset before. I think it's because she wants to settle down, and live a peaceful life, and it doesn't quite mix with Zack being called away. First Modeoheim, then Junon. Where to next? The Eternal Wind Barrier?"

Gehrig had a point. Aerith and Zack's honeymoon period seemed over. It would be interesting to see what played out.

February 14, 0002

Regardless of whoever dates Aerith, they would have the rotten luck of dealing with the fact that her birthday and Valentine's Day happened to be a week apart.

I went to school that day to find Aerith by her locker, wearing a red baby shirt and a pair of black leggings.

"Hey, Tobin!" she greeted.

"Hey yourself," I greeted back.

"I was on my way to class," she announced. "Walk with me?"

"Sure," I agreed.

This was odd. Aerith hadn't walked with me to class since she had started dating Zack. Either she suddenly remembered her non-Gehrig friends, or the blinders had come off.

On Valentine's Day at my school, you could buy a carnation to give to someone. Red meant you loved them. Pink meant you were interested. White meant you were a friend.

I bring this up because, when we passed my locker, we simultaneously spotted a pink one taped to it.

I stopped in my tracks; I did not see that coming.

"It looks like somebody likes you," Aerith giggled.

"I wonder who," I asked aloud.

"Beats me," she replied.

And then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a short-haired blond girl eyeing me. I put two and two together.

THAT AFTERNOON...

Zack returned to Midgar several days later. Despite the debacle regarding her birthday, Aerith still opted to spend Valentine's Day with Zack. She figured that their relationship might improve if they made it special.

"Do you think it's bossy of me to ask Zack to dress up for Valentine's Day?" Aerith asked Gehrig before class.

"Not really," Gehrig replied. "Especially after dissing you on your birthday. Did you ask him?"

Aerith shook her head.

"I wanted to check with you first," she said. "You do have more experience."

"I've never actually had a boyfriend on Valentine's Day," Gehrig said. "I wouldn't say it's bossy, but it's not what I would do."

"Wouldn't you want him to dress up?" Aerith asked.

Gehrig shook her head.

"What would you want him to be wearing, then?"

"I'd want him to be nude," she replied with a grin.

Aerith let out a naughty giggle.

"Dare I ask what you'd be wearing?" Aerith inquired.

"Red tee shirt and jeans," Gehrig answered.

Aerith gave her a look.

"I've kind of got a CFNM thing," Gehrig added.

"What's-"

"Clothed female, nude male," Gehrig interrupted. She then paused. "After dinner, I'd be in a tee shirt and undies if I'm not nude myself."

"I'm a little different," Aerith said. "I like to be the submissive one."

If I hadn't already mentioned, Aerith is the more traditional one, which is why she prefers girly activities and all. Gehrig, on the other hand, was practically ahead of her time.

"I got it," Gehrig suddenly said. "You said he lives on the top floor of an apartment building and nobody else lives on said floor?"

"Yeah, that's right," Aerith confirmed.

Gehrig got a grin on her face.

"Tonight, show up at his door," she commanded.

"Wearing what?" Aerith asked.

"A red bra and nothing else," Gehrig said. "Covering your lady parts with a heart-shaped box of chocolates."

Aerith began to feel tense inside, but not in a bad way. It seemed so naughty and...sexy. It would be the perfect way to enhance their relationship.

"I think I like this idea," she said with a grin.

THAT NIGHT...

It would follow through as planned.

Gehrig drove Aerith to Zack's apartment building. The latter was clothed in a lacy silk robe and sandals, wearing nothing but a red bra underneath. A heart-shaped box of chocolates was on her lap. She was somewhat nervous, not because of what Zack might think, but what others would think if they saw her on the street or in the hallway or elevator.

Fortunately, she got no stares in the five seconds she was outdoors. The elevator was in the lobby, and she and Gehrig had it all to themselves. Soon, they reached the top, and took the short walk down the hall.

"Well," said Gehrig, "we're here."

Aerith slowly slid off the sandals and handed them to her friend.

"He is home, right?" Gehrig asked in precaution.

"Oh, yeah," Aerith replied. "I texted him."

"Good," Gehrig said. "I'll stand by the elevator to make sure no one comes up here."

Aerith smiled and nodded.

"Thank you," she said.

Aerith then slipped off the robe and handed it to Gehrig. She didn't feel that uncomfortable disrobing in front of her, as she was like a sister, but the fact that Gehrig hugged her goodbye before she went to the elevator caused Aerith to cringe a bit.

Facing Zack's door wearing nothing but her bra and positioning the chocolates where she had planned to, Aerith knocked. She then stood in anticipation as she wondered how Zack would respond.

Moments later, Zack answered the door, and gasped to his girlfriend standing there, almost completely naked and smiling at him.

"Happy Valentine's Day!" Aerith giggled as she, while still holding the chocolates, wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him softly.

He then picked her up and carried her inside, still kissing her all the way.

MEANWHILE...

As it turned out, that short-haired blond girl who was eyeing me was Addie Drake. The fact that she was doing that when I noticed the pink carnation on my locker strongly implied she was the one who left it there.

I learned my lesson of playing it too slow the first time. I went up to her after school and asked her out on a date for the evening. She happily agreed, and we met at the diner in the evening. After about half an hour of a not-so-hot time, I stopped the date and told her she had to go.

"Talking about irritable bowel syndrome doesn't make sparks fly," I told her.

She did not take that well. As it turned out, she was "emotionally fragile," as Aerith put it later.

"I thought you were understanding, you shit!" she shouted as she stormed out of the diner, knocking over a table on the way out.

"There's a wrong time to talk about that," I said. "Look, I feel bad after you sent me the carnation and everything, but-"

"No, I didn't send you that fucking carnation!" she snapped. "It was probably Amory Harris. She has a crush on you. I was just hoping to get to you before she did. Unfortunately I did!"

She then smacked me in the face and stormed off.

I rubbed my cheek as she disappeared down the street. I had dodged a bullet, but the pain lingered.

A second later, a car pulled up, and I recognized the driver.

"Hey, you!" Gehrig greeted as she rolled down the window.

"Hey there!" I greeted back.

"Disaster date?" she asked.

"You could say that," I replied.

"At least let me drive you home," she offered. "It'll get you away from here."

"Thanks," I said as I opened the passenger door.

The lacy robe Aerith had been wearing was on the passenger's seat.

"What's with the robe?" I asked her.

"You don't really want to know," Gehrig replied. "Why'd she do that to you?"

"I think she likes me," I replied sarcastically.

"She smacks you in the face because she likes you?" Gehrig asked.

I shrugged.

"Listen," Gehrig continued. "Mary Ellen was a little frisky this morning and now I'm being sexiled. Wanna do something?"

"Sure," I replied.

MEANWHILE...

Zack and Aerith were sitting on the sofa. She was on his lap, and his arms were gently embraced around her lower torso. She was still in just her red bra; Zack wore nothing at the moment.

Aerith sighed. As difficult as the past week had been, she was happy to simply be in his arms. It was her first Valentine's Day with a boyfriend, and she wanted to make the most of it.

And then, Zack suddenly seemed like he had something on his mind.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

"Nothing, really," he replied as he kissed her cheek from behind. "I was just wondering what you were going to wear home."

Aerith put her hand to her mouth and gasped slightly; she had completely forgotten that she had no other clothes with her!

"I guess I should've thought that through..."

MEANWHILE...

Gehrig and I were laying on our backs, on top of the clock in Sector Eight, right by the fountain. I liked it because it was a rather peaceful way for two friends to pass the time. Gehrig liked it because it's against the law.

"Think we'll get arrested?" I asked her.

"Definitely not," she dismissed. "I've been doing this since I was twelve." She then sighed, and became quiet. "Needless to say, Aerie and Zack are having their private Valentine's Day as we speak."

"So they're doing better?" I asked.

"I don't know," Gehrig replied. "They seem to be, but, like an elephant, a girl never forgets."

"It is his job," I pointed out. "He didn't exactly ask to go. Not to mention, he just lost his best friend."

"He can find another job," Gehrig said. "If my career was ruining my relationship, I'd change it."

I didn't want to argue; she was impossible to argue with anyway.

"What do you want to do after high school?" I asked her.

"Me?" she asked as she looked up at the stars. "Go to college in Midgar. Become a teacher. Coach softball at a high school. I don't think I'll be going anywhere." She paused. "How about you? Will you stay in Midgar after graduation?"

"No," I replied. "I'm going to train in Xing. It's part of Shinra's new stealth unit."

Gehrig was silent for a moment as fireflies began to glow around us.

"And what if it broke your friends' hearts when you left?"

I saw her point. I was attached to those three: Zack, Gehrig, and, of course, Aerith. The thought of leaving them behind when I went away to Xing saddened me.

"It would break my heart," I replied. "That's for sure."

The fireflies began to hover over us, still twinkling.

"Maybe they might come with you?" she suggested. "I'm sure someone who cared enough about you would follow you to Xing."

"Maybe you're right," I said. "Maybe you're right."

And at that moment, a shooting star raced across the sky.

March 30, 0002

Amory Harris was possibility #2. After what had happened with Addie Drake, I decided to talk to her for a week before asking her out. After said week went by without any cringe-worthy conversations, I invited her out for a date. As I had suspected she had given me the pink carnation, I got her a bouquet of pink carnations, with a tag reading "I know it was you, Amory."

Sadly, while my date with Addie Drake lasted thirty minutes, my date with Amory Harris lasted thirty seconds.

The moment she answered the door, her nose immediately became red, and she started sneezing and coughing. Soon, she retreated into her house and locked the door.

Highly allergic to flowers...

Obviously, she didn't send the carnation.

May 7, 0002

I found out about possibility #3 when Aerith walked up to me giggling.

"What's so funny?" I asked her.

"Tobin," she began through her giggles, "please don't take this the wrong way, but you'll never guess what one of the sophomores from the cheer squad said."

"What's that?" I asked her.

"Cale Yu said she wants you to be the father of her children," Aerith said.

"Really now?" I asked skeptically.

Aerith giggled and nodded.

"She was saying how wonderful you are, and how you're so smart and handsome, and show she wants her kids to take after you."

Eureka! I thought. Cale Yu sent the pink carnation. There's no doubt in that now.

"I'll try her out," I announced.

The smile faded from Aerith's face.

"But, Tobin," she began.

"No worries," I assured her. "I know it sounds forward, but I can make sure I slow it down."

"But, Tobin!" she repeated.

"Trust me," I insisted. "It's still better than Durham's snail relationship.

Aerith then gave me one of those "don't say I didn't warn you" looks.

LATER...

I wasted no time, and sat right across from Cale at lunch that afternoon.

"Tobin!" Cale happily greeted.

"Hey, Cale!" I greeted back.

"You're eating with me?" she asked with a smile.

"If that's okay," I replied.

"That's beyond okay!" she confirmed. "I was just telling Aerith how wonderful you are."

"Thanks!" I said as I began to blush; Aerith certainly hadn't been kidding.

"I mean it," Cale continued. "You want to know something?"

"Tell me," I commanded.

"I want you to be the father of my children!" she replied with a giggle.

She was cutting right to the chase. I did get a little concerned that she might be desperate. Still, I was confident I could slow things down if they got too fast.

"Well," I said cautiously, "why don't we get to know each other a bit first."

"I already know enough about you. It's the one thing I've decided on," Cale continued. "We just haven't decided if we'd use my eggs or Brogan's."

Wait a minute, I thought.

"Who's Brogan?" I asked her.

I realized right then and there that this wasn't what I thought it was.

"She's my girlfriend," Cale replied.

So yeah. She didn't like me that way; she just wanted my sperm.

I told Aerith about the whole thing on the way out of school, and, sure enough, she laughed her ass off.

June 12, 0002

On the ante-penultimate day of school (that's third-to-last, for the vocabularily challenged), Aerith came trotting up to me as if she was walking on air.

"What are you so happy about?" I asked.

"I'm cheer captain!" she announced enthusiastically.

She then threw her arms around me and giggled. She then backed up and looked me in the eye.

"You are going to come to all my games, aren't you?" Aerith asked me.

"Of course," I replied.

"Promise?" she asked hopefully.

Ronaldo, who was behind me, answered for me.

"Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye, spill my guts, sell my dick, turn my body to a...a...um..."

"Prick," I finished unenthusiastically for him.

And so ended my junior year. It wasn't a bad year. I didn't find a girlfriend, but I didn't get dumped, either. But there was one disappointment: I never did find out who gave me the pink carnation.

And then, something struck my mind.

Valentine's Day was a week after Aerith's birthday. This was when Zack missed her birthday/figure skating competition. She was beyond upset, and Aerith is not the type to get upset easily.

Gehrig and I were already considering the possibility that Aerith was losing interest in Zack.

And now I had to deal with the very real possibility that Aerith had sent me the carnation herself.

THE STUFF THAT MIGHT HAVE GONE UNNOTICED...

The "recent AVALANCHE attack" is, of course, the same one that occurs in Before Crisis, as both stories take place simultaneously.



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