|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 16: Date Tales
And so, Zack and Aerith went on more dates over the course of the spring.
April 7, 0001
LOCATION: Sector Six Cinemas
Zack stood next to Aerith in the theater lobby, ready to buy the tickets on his cell phone. Being the gentleman that he was, he let his girlfriend pick the movie.
"What are we seeing?" he asked.
"Cat in a Tree," Aerith replied.
She had listened to Gehrig, and was wearing a pair of black leggings with a baby tee. It flattered her body shape, and she hoped Zack noticed. They had kissed when they met, and Zack picked her up off the ground, causing her to slightly squeal in delight.
"Sounds good," he agreed as he bought the tickets. He also got them drinks and popcorn.
Then, they went into the theater, and Zack felt his heart sink. The theater was full of girls; Zack was the only man there. It didn't take him long to figure out the situation.
"Is this a chick flick?" he asked.
"Yes," Aerith giggled. "I'm a chick, aren't I?"
He checked his phone again. Sure enough, the words "romantic epic" appeared in the synopsis.
Zack groaned inside, realizing that it was the nature of the beast. Then he saw the bottom line: NO ONE UNDER 16 ADMITTED.
Maybe I'll see some tits and ass, he thought to himself.
The lights dimmed, and the title "Cat in a Tree" appeared on the screen.
Five seconds later, the screen went blank, and the lights came on.
The whole theater began to grumble over the sudden change.
Meanwhile, Zack, Aerith, and a few other moviegoers looked up to discover the reason for the delay.
A thirteen-year-old girl was on the catwalk near the roof; she had obviously hid there to get past the rating.
Three ushers had climbed up there and apprehended her.
Then one girl in the crowd made her opinion known.
"I came to see Cat in a Tree, not a fucking monkey on a wire!"
The nudity Zack has been hoping to see can be summed up thus:
"You've got to take Mary Ellen to see this!" Aerith advised Gehrig over the phone. "It shows the guy's fireman!"
"Will do!" Gehrig agreed enthusiastically. "My life is rated 'Eighteen and Up' anyway. I wouldn't mind."
"I know too well," Aerith said with a smirk.
The female lead, for the record, exposed nothing more than her shoulder blades.
April 13, 0001
LOCATION: SECTOR FIVE SLUMS
Zack knew that he would eventually meet Elmyra. As he stood waiting at Aerith's front door, he reminded himself about how he did his best to impress Mrs. G. He had dressed in a button-down and khakis, and wore cologne. All I'll say is that he was lucky he wasn't dating Gehrig. Mary Ellen would have ripped his clothes off right away.
Elmyra was the one who answered the door.
"Hello!" she greeted. "You must be Zack!"
"I am," he replied as he shook hands with her.
"Come on in!" she invited.
Aerith was waiting for him in the kitchen. She was wearing a black tank top and a pair of skinny jeans.
"Hey!" she greeted as she threw her arms around him and kissed him.
Elmyra ordered takeout for dinner, where she more or less got to know Zack really well. After that, Elmyra went upstairs, leaving Zack and Aerith with the kitchen to themselves.
"How old were you when she adopted you?" Zack asked.
"Seven," she replied.
"So she's been your mom for nine years," he realized as he noticed a set of pictures. "I see those pictures on the wall. She was there for all the milestones."
"You know," she said. "You're right." She then glanced at the pictures. "Those were my last eight birthdays."
"Those pics look lit up," Zack observed.
"Oh, they're electronic," Aerith said as she stood up. "Come over for a closer look."
Zack followed her over to the pictures.
The first one read "Fifteenth Birthday."
The picture featured Aerith wearing a white crop top and a pair of jean shorts.
"I think that was the only time I ever wore a crop top out in public," she said, slightly embarrassed. "It was when Jeri Lyons was famous."
"She's still famous," he pointed out.
"She's not as famous," she corrected. "Nobody's downloading her fifth album. Besides, she's getting old. She's almost twenty-five."
"Do you still like her?" Zack asked.
"Maybe," Aerith replied with a grin.
The next picture read "Fourteenth Birthday."
This picture looked like it was taken at an indoor pool. There were two girls wearing one-pieces with their arms around each other. One was Aerith. The other had black hair. Zack had never seen that girl before, but he quickly deduced who it was.
"Is that Gehrig?" Zack asked.
"That's my bestie," she replied. "Of seven years."
"You're really close, aren't you?" Zack observed.
She nodded again.
"I don't know where I'd be without her," she replied. "She's got me through the worst of times. She's one of the three most important people in my life."
"Another one's my mom," she continued.
"And the third?" he asked hopefully.
She turned to face him. "Take a wild guess," she said as she kissed him on the mouth.
The next picture read: "Thirteenth Birthday."
Gehrig and Aerith were wearing ski gear. Snow and evergreens were surrounding them.
"Where's this?" Zack asked.
"We went skiing outside of Modeoheim," Aerith replied. "It was my first time skiing there. And my last."
"You got hurt?" he asked.
Aerith shook her head.
"I was getting a strange feeling the whole time I was there," she answered.
"I've gotten those," Zack informed her. "There's less oxygen up there."
Aerith shook her head again.
"Something seemed to be...calling me to the south," she clarified. "It was really creepy."
The following picture read "Twelfth Birthday."
It featured Aerith, Gehrig, and a couple of other girls at what looked like a bowling alley.
Aerith had a sour look on her face.
"Someone wasn't having a happy birthday," Zack pointed out.
"I was jealous," Aerith replied. "Gehrig was allowed to wear a crop top, and my mom wouldn't let me." She paused. "It's funny how being a kid really sucks."
The next picture read "Tenth Birthday."
It featured Aerith, Gehrig, and several more girls in their pajamas and on sleeping bags.
"That was my first and only slumber party," she explained. "We were so loud my mom got three calls!"
"There was no eleventh birthday?" Zack asked.
Aerith shook her head.
"I was grounded," she said weakly. "Because of my report card."
"Oh," said Zack. "I'm sorry."
Somehow, it didn't ring true to him. He realized that it was probably something she was just not ready to tell him yet.
The next picture read "Ninth Birthday."
It had Aerith, Gehrig, and eight other girls at some sort of family fun center.
"I can't even remember who half of these girls were," she said. "I haven't talked to them since middle school."
"Did they move?" Zack asked.
"Two of them did," Aerith replied. "The others I just stopped talking to once we hit middle school."
The last picture read "Eighth Birthday."
It only had Aerith and Elmyra.
"I didn't have any friends yet," she said. "But it was my first birthday with her as my mom. She adopted me when I was seven."
Zack then became curious about something.
"What was before that?" he asked.
"Nothing," replied Aerith as she shook her head. "Nothing was before that."
"Nothing at all?" asked the perplexed Zack.
"I don't even have any baby pictures," she added.
It sounded strange. Aerith was, no doubt, a nice girl, but Zack was left a little sketchy about the whole thing. He also still had what Angeal had said to him. She was not a Genesis copy, but he would almost wish she was.
What does Angeal know about Aerith that I don't? he thought to himself.
At the end of the night, Elmyra walked Zack out.
"Just let my girl finish high school, okay?" She requested.
"No problem," he replied.
Zack was perplexed again, not knowing what she had meant.
I knew, of course. Aerith wanted to get married young, and if she somehow had the chance to do it at sixteen or seventeen, she would.
April 18, 0001
LOCATION: Midgar Zoological Garden
Zack had taken Aerith to the zoo. She was happy, as she loved most animals, but it got annoying for Zack when she had them spend way too much time in the petting zoo. Aerith did have a childish personality, and here it really stuck out like a sore thumb.
The one place she wanted to avoid was the reptile house.
"I hate snakes!" she exclaimed.
So they avoided it.
The most memorable event of the day was the big cats. They stopped by the cougar exhibit, where said cougar was sitting innocently behind a thick sheet of glass. It won someone's heart right away.
"Why, hello there!" Aerith greeted sweetly.
The cougar licked its lips and flicked its ears.
Aerith reached the glass and stroked her hand against it, pretending to pet the cougar.
The cougar lowered its head, as if to accept the petting.
"Awwww!" she squealed. "I want to take him home with me!"
"I thought you were a dog person," Zack said.
"I am," she agreed. "But at least he's the size of a dog."
"What do you want to name the cougar?" he asked.
"Mary Ellen," Aerith giggled.
Mind you, Zack didn't get it at this point.
Then, suddenly, the cougar got up on its hind legs and pressed its front paws against the glass.
Aerith shrieked and staggered towards Zack, wrapping her arms around him tightly.
"Never mind!" she gasped. "It's a bad idea!"
April 30, 0001
It was eventually time for Aerith to meet Zack's parents as well.
Zack chartered a plane to fly to Gongaga, where Aerith sat next to him nervously, due to her fear of the sky.
Zack's parents immediately took a liking to Aerith.
"Those eyes!" Mrs. Fair exclaimed. "What kind of contacts are you wearing?"
"None!" Aerith giggle. They're my natural eye color!"
Zack's mom cooked dinner for everyone. After dinner, his parents pulled him into the other room. Aerith was left to sit alone in the kitchen. All she heard was the last thing said.
"Keep your pecker in your pocket!" ordered Mr. Fair.
"Yes, sir," Zack sighed.
He then duly returned to the kitchen.
"Everything ok?" Aerith asked.
"Just pep talk," he said.
In response, Aerith wrapped her arms around him and kissed him.
"They do like you," he assured her.
Aerith smiled weakly.
Zack could tell she was uncomfortable about the pending flight home. He then got an idea.
"I'll show you something," he suddenly announced.
"What's that?" she asked.
"Come with me," he commanded.
He led her down a corridor until it dead-ended. He then reached for a string that was attached to the ceiling.
Aerith felt her stomach tighten.
"Zack," she said in a concerned tone of voice, "is this the sky?"
"Will you trust me?" he requested.
She hesitated for a moment. Then she nodded. She realized that their relationship couldn't work if she didn't trust him.
He took her hand, and noticed that her palm was sweaty. With his free hand, he pulled the string. A set of wooden stairs gently descended until they touched the ground.
Zack slowly led Aerith up the stairs; she tightened her grip as she climbed. A moment later, they were standing on the roof.
Zack then took both of Aerith's hands, and looked her directly in the eyes.
"Look up," he commanded.
Gathering her trust, she did so.
The sky was a blanket of stars from one horizon to the other.
She gasped in awe; she had never seen anything like it in her life.
"Zack," she said as she squeezed both of his hands. "It's beautiful!"
"You'll never see this in Midgar!" Zack exclaimed.
She continued to gaze at the stars she had never viewed before. And then, she let go of his hands. She slowly spun three hundred and sixty degrees in sheer amazement. Then, she turned to the man who had brought her up there.
"I-I don't think I'm afraid of the sky anymore," Aerith began as she placed her hands on his shoulders.
"Really?" he asked. "That's great!"
"And it's all because of you," she said sincerely.
She then leaned in and kissed him.
"Thank you!" she whispered.
And she kissed him again.
I don't think anything will ever scare me again, she thought.
May 6, 0001
"I'm beyond scared!" Aerith exclaimed as she gripped the steering wheel.
"Just keep you hands on the wheel and your foot on the gas," Zack insisted. "You'll be fine."
As you might have figured, Zack was teaching Aerith to drive. She could easily work the wheel and pedals, but those were the least of her concerns. There were few functioning traffic lights in the slums, so it was a general rule for most people to stop at every intersection.
Eventually, they came upon a ramp under a big green sign that read "TO: UPPER PLATE."
"Let's go for it!" Zack suggested.
"Okay," Aerith replied. "I'm trusting you!"
She took the ramp up, and nicer architecture, as well as functioning traffic lights, came into view.
The drivers up there were friendlier as well. It was nothing like the slums.
"This isn't so bad!" Aerith said happily.
She continued down the street until she reached a red stoplight.
"Red light!" she announced as she pressed her lips against Zack's.
She repeated the feat at every red light she stopped at.
And then, there was a ramp to the Inner Beltway.
"Now, for the expressway," Zack announced.
"Are you crazy?!" Aerith exclaimed. "I'm going to get us killed!"
"You won't," he assured her. "Trust me."
Aerith turned nervously onto the ramp and began to accelerate. At first, she was driving half the speed limit, with everyone passing her (and a few flipping her off in the process). Soon, she was able to maintain herself. And then, without realizing it, she began to go faster and faster.
"I think I'm getting the hang of this!" she said.
A moment later, it was ruined.
Red and blue lights appeared in the rear view mirror.
"Oh my God!" she gasped as her eyes became wet and her heart became fast. "What should I do?"
"Just pull over," Zack gently commanded.
She pulled over. Her hands began to sweat as she could see the police officer approaching the car.
"License, registration, and insurance, please?" the cop requested.
Aerith began to shake; she thought she would be arrested for sure.
"Ummm..." she weakly began.
"I'm teaching her to drive!" Zack announced.
For a moment, there was dead silence.
Aerith felt sweat trickle down her back.
"Hey!" the cop suddenly shouted. "You're Zack Fair!"
"That's me," Zack said.
"Shit!" the cop continued. "You're obviously on your way to a mission!" He then turned to Aerith. "Missy, my apologies! I didn't know you were working for him. Carry on!"
A minute later, the cop was gone.
Aerith sighed in relief as she rested her head against Zack's chest.
"Take the wheel," she sighed. "I think I've driven enough today."
THE STUFF THAT MIGHT HAVE GONE UNNOTICED...
The scene where Aerith and Zack look at the former's pictures heavily parallels the scene where she and Cloud do the same in the original Premonitions. This is, of course, done intentionally.
The "calling" Aerith was feeling was coming from, of course, the Forgotten Capital, which is otherwise neither seen nor mentioned in this novel.
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