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 23: The Pool Party

June 23, 0002

Gehrig's parents separated in June of 0001 and divorced that July, with her father remarrying that August. He settled in Junon, and his new wife was knocked up already.

Gehrig and her dad kept in touch through social media, of course, but they had not seen each other since the wedding. It seemed like he was already forgetting about his old family in favor of his new one.

It was when Mary Ellen took weekend vacations by herself that the sting of it all really hit Gehrig. This particular time, she invited Zack, Aerith, and yours truly over to somewhat forget about her sorrows. So there we were, seated at the kitchen table in the Cline house, with nothing interesting going on above our heads.

"Seven!" Gehrig announced as she displayed the appropriate card.

Gehrig was the first to reach for the heavens, followed by Aerith. Zack and I didn't reach.

"You both have to!" Gehrig declared as Zack and I took a drink.

"Five," I then said as I drew a card. "Guys."

Zack and I took a drink again.

Aerith was the next to draw a card. "Four. What's four?"

"Touch the floor!" I replied as Zack, Gehrig, and I touched the floor in unison. Aerith, being the odd girl out, took a drink.

"My turn!" Zack announced as he drew a card. "Six. Chicks."

Aerith and Gehrig took a drink.

Gehrig was the next to draw a card. "Jack," she announced as we all held up three fingers. "Okay. Never have I ever been to a nude beach." She paused. "Unfortunately."

"This again," Aerith giggled.

"Well, you won't go with me," Gehrig giggled back.

"I'm way too nervous," Aerith dismissed.

"Why don't you start out topless, and then go all the way when you're comfortable?" Gehrig suggested.

"I'll go," Zack offered. I couldn't tell whether her was serious or not.

"You certainly will not!" Aerith playfully snapped. "I don't want other girls seeing your junk!"

"I tried," sighed Zack.

"You could always go with Mary Ellen," Aerith suggested.

"No thanks," Gehrig sighed. She then looked at the three of us. "You know, this game would probably be a lot more fun if we were drinking real alcohol."

The three of us nodded in unison.

"So why don't we all go in the pool instead?"

LATER...

We had stripped to our trunks and bikinis and settled in the pool. Immediately, we started playing another game. This one was a lot nastier. Here we had to say inappropriate words by letter.

"I'll start," Aerith volunteered. "Ass."

"Ass?!" Zack asked. "That's it?"

"Well," Aerith explained, "everyone has one."

I was also taken by surprise; Aerith really didn't swear that often.

"Booty," I said.

"That's the same thing!" Aerith protested. "Come on, something other than people's butts."

"Cunt," Zack said.

"Zack!" Aerith exclaimed.

"You said something other than people's butts!" he defended.

"Durham," Gehrig said.

I groaned. I was hoping never to hear that name again for a while.

"What?" asked Gehrig. "I can't stand her." She then turned to Aerith. "Your turn."

"Elevator," Aerith said.

"That's not NSFW!" Zack protested.

"Until we do it in one," Aerith retorted.

"Fuck," I said. "Well, who didn't see that coming."

"Genitals," Zack added.

"Humping," Gehrig said.

"Um...intimacy?" Aerith suggested.

"Lame!" Zack called.

"Jugs," I said.

"What is it with you guys and our boobs?" Aerith sighed. "Fat guys have them, too!"

"Knockers," Gehrig contributed. "I'll do a double. Latex."

Suddenly, a smirk appeared on Aerith's face.

"Mary Ellen," she said.

"Hey!" Gehrig protested.

"Who's that?" Zack asked.

"My mom!" she replied.

"Nipples," I said.

"Orgies," Zack contributed.

"Punani!" Gehrig shouted.

"What?!" Aerith exclaimed.

"It's what we have, dear," Gehrig informed her.

"Queef," said Aerith, causing the four of us to laugh in unison.

"Rump rubbing," I said.

"Sex," Zack said.

"Titties," Gehrig added.

"Undies," Aerith mentioned.

"Vagina," I announced.

"Pervert," Gehrig muttered in my direction.

"Whore," Zack said.

"X-rated movie," Gehrig added.

"Yes," Aerith said.

"That's not a dirty word," Zack dismissed.

"It is when we moan it," Gehrig retorted.

"Zipper," I lamely said.

"Okay," announced Gehrig, "now it's time for the memory test." She scanned us all before picking the victim. "Zack, you're up."

Zack cracked his knuckles.

"Ass, booty, cunt, Durham, elevator, fuck, genitals, humping, intimacy, jugs, knockers, latex...Mary Ellen, nipples, orgies, punami, queef, rump rubbing-"

And then, at that very moment, Zack's cell phone dinged. It was the ding he had set to alert him of any messages from the Shinra.

"Shit," he groaned.

He got out of the pool, dried his hands off, and checked the phone.

"I have to go," he announced as he dried the rest of himself off and put on his clothes.

Gehrig sighed as Aerith quickly swam to the edge of the pool and climbed out.

All I could see was a rear view of the red bikini-clad Aerith putting her hands on her hips and saying something to Zack. I couldn't hear what, but I could tell she was pissed.

"I'll make it up to you," I heard Zack say before hissing her on the cheek and hugging her.

She didn't hug back.

A moment later, Zack was gone, but Aerith remained frozen in her position.

And, to end the awkwardness, nature suddenly called.

"Mind if I go to the bathroom?" I asked.

"I'm not a teacher yet," Gehrig replied. "You don't need my permission to go to the bathroom."

I got out of the pool, dried myself off, and went into the bathroom, avoiding the agitated Aerith.

A few seconds later, I heard two female voices enter the house. It was obviously Aerith and Gehrig entering the house.

"This really pisses me off!" Aerith groaned.

"I know," replied Gehrig in empathy. "I was hoping this would stop."

"I don't know how much longer I can take this!" she sighed.

"Well," Gehrig tried to assure her, "it's only the second time in more than a year."

"What if he pulls this at our wedding? Or when I'm in labor?" Aerith sighed. "I trust him, but it don't trust his job."

"Is this the only reason you're thinking about breaking up with him?" Gehrig asked.

"I don't know," Aerith replied. "The sex is always good, but maybe I'm thinking with my vagina too much."

"Well," said Gehrig, "if you break up with him, do you have a plan B?"

"I might," she replied.

Which, of course, was me. The pink carnation would not leave my mind.

I stayed in the bathroom until the girls' voices were gone. I then did what I went in there to do, and returned to the pool. When I went outside again, the sky had gone from blue to orange. Gehrig had thrown a tee shirt on and was sitting in one of the lounger chairs. She was all by herself.

"Where's Aerith?" I asked.

"She went home," Gehrig replied.

I was silent. I figured the next thing I would hear was that she had broken up with Zack. I also figured that the next thing I would hear after that would be that Aerith was asking me out. I still hadn't forgotten the pink carnation that nobody but Aerith could have possibly sent.

"You know, there's an empty chair," Gehrig continued, pointing to the lounge chair next to her. "If you want, we can have some cider."

I sat down in the empty lounge chair as Gehrig poured me a glass.

"She's thinking about breaking up with him," she began. "She can't stand his job anymore."

"Sorry to hear that," I said as I took a sip.

"I kind of feel bad for him," she continued. "It's not like he wants to do it. But it's what SOLDIER demands."

I chuckled.

"Zack has a buddy named Cloud," I began. "He keeps trying to get into SOLDIER, but so far, he's just an infantryman. Maybe it's for the best."

"Sounds like Aerith should date this Cloud guy," Gehrig suggested. She then giggled. "Fat chance."

"Zack could always find another job," I suggested.

"An even fatter chance," she dismissed. "He's obsessed with being a hero."

"The heart wants what it wants," I suggested.

"You don't need to join SOLDIER to be a hero," Gehrig said. "My dad's my hero. God, I miss him."

"When are you seeing him again?" I asked.

"This Christmas," she replied. "I hope. Mary Ellen's making a big stink about it. This is the problem with relationships. They're practically radioactive."

"Now I see why you don't want to date anyone," I mentioned.

"You know," Gehrig began, "I'm really not saying 'absolutely not' to dating anymore. It's more like 'well, I dunno.' I haven't the foggiest how that might happen, but if a guy I like wanted to talk about it, I can sit down at least long enough to listen." She paused. "Maybe it's because Aerith has someone. Who knows. I'm just saying it's possible in theory, as it doesn't violate the known laws of physics. In practice, I'd really have to look at things in a whole new way."

We stayed out by the pool until it got dark. Eventually, as it got cold and we got goosebumps on our legs, we did decide to go inside.

Gehrig led me into the kitchen. She then began to stare out the window. She was thinking something for sure.

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

"Do you know why you can't ever step into the same river twice?" she replied.

I had heard the answer a million times.

"Because it's always moving," I said.

"And you're always growing," she added. "That's how I feel now. We'll all be adults next year. You have Xing waiting for you. Whether it's Zack or someone else, Aerith will be married for sure within the next couple of years, and she'll disappear into her nest and pop out a few kids." She paused, and sighed. "And I'll be all alone."

She then continued to stare out the window as I continued to look on. She did have a point. In the year and a half that I had known her, this was the most she had ever opened up. It seemed as if all reality was getting to her.

MEANWHILE...

This was the email that sent Zack on his way:

"I can't tell you my name, but I know something of interest to you. I'm not the same person as the sender of the last two anonymous messages, so don't worry. I heard there's a secret item somewhere inside some cave. If an anti-Shinra entity finds this, then stick a fork in Shinra; it's done! You really should find it before it's too late."

Zack wasn't stupid; he knew right away that Yuffie Kisaragi had sent the email. He also knew that he would get it from Lazard if he didn't follow through with it.

It turned out that this particular cave was somewhere between Banora and Mideel. The walls were tinted greener than the last cave he had visited. The cave, being down south, was full of mosquitoes. They became so pesky that Zack had to use materia to wipe them out.

Eventually, Zack came upon the treasure chest.

"I gave you the information on that item," a voice announced. "If you want it, leave behind a potion."

"That voice again," Zack sighed. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Yuffie hiding behind a rock. "Gotta give it to her; she's trying hard. I'm gonna have to act all grown-up here. I can leave a potion. No problem."

He left the potion and took the treasure.

"Yuffie," he sighed as he walked away. "I don't know how she manages to make her way into dangerous places like this."

TWO NIGHTS LATER...

I was sitting alone in my room when something struck my mind. It was what I overheard Aerith and Gehrig talking about when the former was venting about Zack.

Gehrig mentioned that she had wanted to try out a nude beach. I don't really know why; all I know is that Gehrig was the most free-spirited and colorful of the four of us. Maybe she wanted to avoid the tan lines, maybe she just wanted the experience. God only knows.

As I continued to sit there, I kind of wondered what would happen if I invited her to go to Costa del Luna with me. I had never been naked with a girl before (Durham skinny dipping was CMNF, remember?), and I realized this would be my chance. It would be a unique experience; two opposite-sex friends naked together in a non-sexual fashion. Of course, she might also be irked by the idea, and not want to talk to me anymore.

And, before I knew it, and maybe subconsciously, I pressed Gehrig's contact number on my phone. I then heard the dial tone.

I don't know why that happened. What I do know is that there would be no turning back at this point.

"Hey, Tobin!" she greeted.

"Hey!" I greeted back.

"How are you?" she then asked me.

"Not bad," I replied. "You?"

"I'm great!" she said. "Hey, thanks for staying the other day! I was kind of pissed that Aerith left."

"No problem," I said. I then found the perfect way to lead her into it. "Maybe we could take them to the Western Continent next time. Then they can't run off."

Gehrig laughed.

"That's a great idea!" she complimented.

"Didn't you say you wanted to go to the Western Continent anyway?"

"Oh yeah," Gehrig replied. "I did."

"It was something you wanted to see there?" I asked, hoping to fish it out of her.

"Refresh my memory," she asked.

My heart was starting to beat faster. Of course, I had to be careful; I couldn't sound eager. She needed to say it herself.

"Wasn't it one of the beaches you wanted to go to?"

That was as specific as I was willing to get.

"Oh, that's right, she replied. "Nude."

"Oh yeah," I said. "Costa del Luna."

I had gotten it out of her. Now came the invite. There was no way to flush that out of her. I just had to be blunt. It would just be a quick few seconds, and it would be over.

"So, Gehrig," I began, "I was actually thinking of going to Costa del Luna this weekend. Want to come with me?"

I got no response.

She was obviously irked, and I should've seen that coming. She probably now thought I was some scumbag just trying to get into her pants.

And then, I did get a response.

"You there?" she asked.

"I'm here," I replied in relief.

"Okay," she said. "I thought I heard you whisper something, but maybe it's the reception. Want to text instead?"

"No," I dismissed quickly. "That's okay."

I got ready to repeat the question. My heart was racing and my tongue was dry. I felt sweat on my forehead. I gathered my confidence and asked so I was definitely not whispering.

"I was just saying I was thinking about going to Costa del Luna this weekend," I repeated. "Want to come with me?"

"Yeah!" she affirmed enthusiastically.

I couldn't believe my years. She had actually said yes!

"You'd be comfortable going with me?" I asked. I was kind of surprised.

"Of course I would!" she replied. "You're my best guy friend!"

"Alright," I choked, not sure how to feel. "I'll see you this Saturday!"

It was then settled. I would indeed be seeing Gehrig Cline in all her naked glory. And she would be seeing me likewise.

This would be a serious test of our friendship, and, one way or another, it would never be the same again.

THE STUFF THAT MIGHT HAVE GONE UNNOTICED...

The game Zack, Aerith, Tobin, and Gehrig are playing is a real drinking game called Kings.

Gehrig's question about the river came from a proverb by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus.



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