|By : Hippo_and_Friends_with_Benefits|
Category: Final Fantasy VII > General
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|Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core, it any characters therin. I am not making any money here.|
Chapter 11: Unhappy Months
February 8, 0001
I had my first formal date with Durham the next evening. For obvious reasons, we met in public, rather than the Haverford Estate.
We kept it casual, leaving it one of those informal tee shirt and jeans dates. We ended up going to the shopping complex, where where two hours were spent with her trying on clothes (despite the previous night, she valued her privacy in the fitting room), and another two hours were spent with her trying on shoes. I had never had a girlfriend, or even been on a date before, so I just went with the flow. Yes, it got bothersome after the first half hour, but what the hell was I going to do?
We ended up eating at Xing Garden for dinner, on my nickel, obviously. Despite the fact that Durham had a hell of a lot of more money than I did, I still felt the need to be a gentleman, and she certainly appreciated it. In any case, she smiled and held hands with me the whole time, so it was all worth it.
Outside the food court, I saw the damndest thing. There was a giant moogle standing there with a cat on top. The cat had a crown, cape, and a megaphone in its hand. And it talked, by the way; it had an accent like it was from McDougal Island. We'll visit that place near the end of this journal, by the way.
"You there!" the cat greeted.
Durham gave the creature a funny look.
"Yeah, you!" the cat continued. "You look like a cute couple!"
"Thanks," my blond companion said, trying to be polite. It so happened that we were both dog people.
"The name's Cait Sith," the cat introduced. "I read fortunes. Would you like yours read?"
"Sure," Durham replied in a neutral tone of voice, mainly to get him over with. It was obvious that he wasn't going to leave us alone.
"Ten gil," Cait Sith said.
I covered it. Again, I was a gentleman.
With that, Cait Sith started doing this weird dance.
"What the hell is this?" Durham mouthed to me, obviously unimpressed.
"Yellow to black to...red?" Cait Sith finally said.
What a letdown. Of course, I knew it was all bullshit anyway.
"You call that a fortune?" I demanded angrily.
"I think I've had enough," Durham said.
We then left the complex. We went to my place, where, as Cissnei wasn't home, we were free to make out on the couch.
We kissed and ran our hands over each other's clothes. She kept her pants on this time, though. I tried to initiate, but she kept it stalled.
"Nothing's coming off tonight," she gasped between kisses.
It did kind of make sense. Despite what we had already been through, it was still a first date.
February 9, 0001
I went to school the next morning happy. I had a girlfriend, which was something I could never say before. I was so happy I wanted to tell everyone I saw.
But I didn't. The first people I knew who I saw there were Aerith and Gehrig. They were chatting by the former's locker, which had her name decorated on it. I would have to think of how to kindly tell Aerith that she lost.
"Hi Tobin!" They both greeted in unison.
"Hey, ladies," I greeted back.
I noticed that Aerith was dressed differently; she was wearing a white tank top and white skirt with blue stripes. It made her look very soft and feminine.
Then it hit me like a kick in the nuts: she might have dressed like that for me. Hell, she might have even bought the outfit for me. She didn't know I had a girlfriend yet. I realized that I needed to tell her as soon as possible.
"Hey there!" suddenly shouted a low baritone of a voice.
I turned to see Ronaldo approaching the three of us. We all groaned inside; he was a notorious perverted pigpen.
Ronaldo was one of the fatter ones. He played the bass drum in band, but that was his only activity. Other than that, he was just seen waddling through the halls and goofing off.
"So Aerith," he began, "I heard you turned sixteen last Saturday."
"That's right," she replied skeptically as she folded her arms; she knew he was up to no good.
In response, Ronaldo turned a hundred and eighty degrees and pulled down his pants and boxers, exposing is fat ass to the two girls.
Half of a car steering wheel was drawn in marker on one cheek. The other half was drawn on the other.
"So are you going to learn to drive now?" he asked.
"Ew!" squealed Aerith as Gehrig looked away in disgust.
"Hold it right there!" I suddenly heard a familiar voice shout.
I turned to see Cissnei approaching, dressed in her Turk suit and leading two Shinra infantryman.
"Sorry!" Ronaldo apologized as he quickly pulled his pants up and gave Cissnei a sheepish look.
For some reason, Aerith also had a nervous look on her face.
"Take him away!" Cissnei ordered.
I never thought mooning could warrant a visit from the Turks.
"You don't need to arrest him," Aerith said, looking more relieved. "Everybody has a butt."
"That's not what we're arresting him for," Cissnei dismissed. "Surveillance spotted him outside Headquarters last night. He took his bass drum and tried to bowl down a flagpole."
The infantrymen cuffed Ronaldo and escorted him away.
Cissnei then turned to me.
"You again!" she greeted.
"That's right," I said.
"I almost forgot you went to school here," Cissnei pointed out. She then turned to Aerith. "Is this your girlfriend?" she asked.
Aerith quickly shook her head.
"We're just friends," she replied.
"Oh," Cissnei said. "My bad."
With that, she walked away.
"Did she make you uncomfortable?" I asked.
Aerith shook her head.
Just then, the warning bell rang.
"I gotta get upstairs!" Gehrig announced as she walked off.
"My class is next to yours," Aerith said with a smile. "Walk with me?"
I nodded with a sad little smile as we began to make our way to class. This was where I had to tell her.
"When did you get that outfit?" I asked her for an icebreaker.
"Over the weekend," she replied. "I wanted to look a little more girly."
"It looks good on you," I complimented.
"Thanks," she said.
And then, we passed my locker. I saw that it now had my name on it with construction paper cut-outs. At the bottom was a heart with the words "Love, Durham XOXO" written on it.
Durham had decorated my locker.
Aerith stopped and scanned my locker for several seconds.
My stomach tightened. It looked like I wouldn't have to tell her after all.
"Tobin," Aerith finally began, "is Durham...your girlfriend now?"
I had to be honest.
"Yes," I replied. "She is. Since Saturday night."
"Oh," she said in a neutral voice. "That's nice."
We finished our trip to our classrooms, but Aerith was quiet the whole way there. She just gave me a weak smile before disappearing into her classroom.
She did an okay job of hiding it, but I got the vibe that her heart was most certainly broken.
March 17, 0001
We had the second half of the school day as a St. Patrick's Day celebration. We had a dance party, mainly to wear us out so we wouldn't engage in any underage drinking.
Aerith and Gehrig were both wearing green baby shirts and blue jeans with patches of green paint on them. Meanwhile, Durham was sick that day, thus leaving me to miss the slow dances.
During the first and second ones, I stood on the side and watched the more fortunate couples. By the third, it became so awkward that I retreated to a deserted part of the cafeteria. I stood alone, looking out the window.
"Hey, you!" greeted a familiar voice.
I turned to see Gehrig approaching. She had obviously seen me leave.
"Hey yourself," I greeted.
"What are you doing all by yourself?" she asked.
"Durham's home with a sore throat," I replied.
"Oh," Gehrig said. "I'm sorry to hear that." She paused. "Why don't you come hang with us? We really haven't seen you in a while."
"I think Aerith is mad at me," I said.
Gehrig gave me a skeptical look.
"She's not," she assured me. "why would she be?"
"Because I'm dating Durham," I replied.
Gehrig laughed and shook her head.
"Don't worry about that," she assured me. "She's happy for you. She loves you like a brother, you know."
"Like a brother?" I asked. "You mean she doesn't have a crush on..."
"She doesn't," Gehrig interrupted. "I even once asked her if she wanted to date you. She said she didn't want to ruin your friendship."
"Oh," I said.
It was kind of one of those things that was both disappointing and liberating at the same time.
"Aerith just wants a boyfriend," Gehrig explained. "She wants to get married right out of high school."
"I remember she did say something like that," I said.
"Lots of people think Aerith is weird, but I'm not one of them," Gehrig continued. "She was just unfortunate enough to have been born in wrong decade."
"Come again?" I asked.
"She would've fit in really well forty or fifty years ago, when that was a girl's lot in life. She wouldn't have even finished high school back then."
I turned to watch Aerith dancing to the music. I knew she would make some lucky guy a good girlfriend. If something did happen between me and Durham, and she wanted to talk, I could definitely sit still long enough to listen.
"Well, don't be too anti-social," Gehrig said as she walked away singing.
That's one thing I forgot to mention: Gehrig always sang a lot. She was singing during Aerith's party, especially in the pool. Sometimes I would hear her singing in the halls on the way to class as well.
There was just something unique about her voice: it was soothing. Whenever Gehrig sang around me, I felt easier. I think it made everyone feel that way.
April 1, 0001
I wonder if Zack would have felt better if Gehrig had sang to him. Over the weeks, I saw him sporadically at Shinra Headquarters. He was constantly in a funk, still dwelling, after nearly three months now, over Angeal's betrayal.
One night, I cloaked myself and went up to where I expected to find him. His back was turned to me, and he was staring into the window. The pool guy had lost it.
"Angeal," he said to the window, "the war is over. Everyone's real happy. As for me..."
I could tell what he was thinking. He was remembering Angeal talking about how his buster sword represented his family honor. He was also remembering how he killed his mother with it.
"Where did you go?" Zack sighed as he put his head down.
A moment later, his phone rang.
"Zack here," he greeted.
"It's been a while, Zack," said the voice on the other end.
"Come to Lazard's room," Sephiroth ordered.
Zack did as ordered. When he got there, he found Sephiroth leaning against a table, with Lazard sitting at his desk.
"The Company has decided to eliminate Genesis and his cohorts," Lazard announced. He then stood up. "This includes Angeal as well."
I knew this would not fly too well.
"And you want me to do it?!" Zack asked in a somewhat confrontational tone of voice.
"No," Lazard replied as he turned away. "The Shinra army will handle it."
"What about me?" Zack asked.
Lazard turned around.
"They don't trust you," he replied.
"They believe your emotions will hamper your judgement," Sephiroth added.
"Well, of course!" Zack protested.
"That's why I'm going, too," Sephiroth announced.
Zack slowly turned to face Sephiroth.
"To kill them?"
For a few seconds, Sephiroth simply stood there without a response.
Suddenly, red lights began to flash, and an alarm began to sound. Windows began to seal.
I thought it might be an April Fools' Day prank.
"An intruder!" Lazard shouted.
"Where?!" shouted Zack.
"Close!" Lazard replied. "Sephiroth, the president! Zack, enterance!"
"Yeah, you got it!" Zack replied.
He ran into the elevator, but it stopped before it reached the ground level.
Outside the elevator stood a woman in a lab coat. She had a panicked look on her face.
"SOLDIER!" she gasped. "Thank goodness! Please do something about that quickly!"
"That?" Zack asked.
That turned out to be three small red robot walkers with spikes coming from their backs.
"Whoa!" Zack exclaimed. "What is this?"
He quickly destroyed them.
"Thanks," said the woman. "You're a life saver."
"What was that?" Zack asked.
"You've never seen one before," the woman asked. "That was a Shinra Building intruder neutralization mech."
"Intruder neutralization?" Zack asked. "Then why was it attacking Shinra staff?"
"It just suddenly went out of control," the woman replied. "They're stationed in other areas. Can you go check on them?"
"Hmm..." Zack mumbled when he was alone. "The director told me to go to the entrance, but..."
Out of the corner of his eye, Zack spotted a Third Class Soldier laying face-down on the ground. He then rushed to his aid.
"Hey!" Zack called. "Are you all right?"
"Behind you!" the fallen soldier called.
Four more neutralizers we're behind Zack, which he destroyed in one swat.
Meanwhile, the SOLDIER rose to his feet.
"Thank you for saving me," he said.
"Did that mech get you?" Zack asked.
"Pathetic, isn't it?" the SOLDIER replied. "A SOLDIER member getting beaten by something like that?"
"Even SOLDIER members have bad days," Zack assured him.
"This was a good day for me," the SOLDIER said. "To be honest, I'm not really fond of fighting."
"Come on, pull yourself together!" Zack reprimanded. "You're SOLDIER!"
"I apologize, sir," the SOLDIER said. "I'm on my way now."
Zack continued down the hall, past Palmer, who was frantically running through the hall.
Suddenly, his phone rang.
"Zack, where are you now?" demanded Lazard.
"Oh, Director, I'm sorry!" Zack apologized. "I'm on the SOLDIER floor."
"You have to head to the entrance immediately!" Lazard ordered. "We have been massively compromised."
"Massively?" Zack exclaimed. "I'm on my way!"
"I'm counting on you," Lazard said.
Zack took the elevator to the lobby to find two infantrymen fighting two robotic invaders. The lobby was completely trashed.
"Why are Shinra weapons attacking the Shinra building?" Zack exclaimed. "Is Genesis responsible for this?"
He then spotted a Genesis copy with a robot invader, which he easily destroyed.
More enemies then came in through the front.
"Damn, they're everywhere!" Zack shouted.
He dispatched several more intruders before he was joined by somebody in the lobby.
"Sephiroth!" Zack greeted. "The intruders are Genesis copies."
"Hollander must be behind this," Sephiroth suggested.
"Who is that?" Zack asked.
"A Shinra scientist who vanished after lifting the copy technology," Sephiroth answered.
"Are you saying that Hollander and Genesis are working together?" Zack suggested.
"Perhaps," Sephiroth replied as he turned around.
"What is it that they're after?" Zack asked.
"Hollander lost his bid for leadership of the science department," Sephiroth said. "He has borne a grudge against Shinra ever since. Revenge is most likely his objective."
"That's just petty," Zack dismissed. "Are you telling me that Genesis is supporting that idiotic cause?"
"I would prefer not to believe it," Sephiroth replied. "But..."
"Then don't believe it," Zack interrupted.
"Very well," said Sephiroth as he turned around. "I won't. Now, Zack, Genesis copies have been sighted in Sector Eight as well." He began to walk toward the entrance. "Let's go."
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