Aerith's First Love Part 3

Mixed Blessings

By Hyper Angel

A few months had past since the War-end Celebration. Slowly, things had begun to return to normal. And most of all, the fear of the war that had raged for so many years had finally ended. Now the only fear the gripped the streets of Midgar was that of the slum's startling crime rate. In other words, things truly were going as usual.

Aerith stood at the altar of the Sector 5 church, though the once sacred building had gradually fallen into disrepair over the years. Pews lay overturned, the steeple was beginning to fall in on it self, and sunlight filtered though large holes that dotted the roof. She stared thoughtfully at the small patch of dirt beneath her feet, the floor boards had obviously rotted away at some point. She grinned to herself, pulling a small packet of seeds from her pocket. "This should be perfect." She mused.

Carefully, Aerith bent down over the dirt, running her hand over the moist ground to make sure. A warm feeling washed over her, which was rare in the dead polluted land of the drained city. She uttered a hushed sigh and closed her eyes slightly. "Yes…" She whispered softly.

Opening the packet, she sprinkled the seeds in the dirt, taking care to gently cover them in the exposed soil of the church. Though the low creaking of the main door, interrupted Aerith in her work. Startled she spun around and stood up. Her mind raced for a moment, surely it wasn't….them?

A dark figure stepped into the bright light that poured from the door. Aerith held her breath nervously as it drew closer. "W-who's there?" She demanded to the figure.

Slowly, her eyes adjusted to the bright light. And as the form moved closer, Aerith realized just who it was.

"Zack!!" She cried out angrily. "You stupid jerk! Don't sneak in like that!"

Zack merely grinned nonchalantly and calmly ran his hand through his wild black hair. "Oh c'mon, Aerith." He laughed. "Who'd you think it was?"

She scowled at him stubbornly, though she dare not give the answer. That would only worry Zack, and she'd rather prefer to keep her little 'acquaintances' to herself. Unless of course, it really did matter for her safety. Though she tried her best to assure herself it was nothing to worry about. Too much at least.

"Look, you just…surprised me, okay?" She sighed, Zack slowly moved to join her at the dusty altar as she scolded him.

"What's all this?" He asked her, nudging his foot at a loose floorboard. "This?" Aerith echoed. "I'm going to see if I can get flowers to grow here." She smiled to herself and ran her fingers the soil thoughtfully. "Maybe I can add some life to these dreary old slums.

Again, Zack laughed. The sound echoed through the deserted church. "Good luck to that!"

Aerith grinned at his words. It was true that the excessive amounts of mako that Midgar drained away made it almost impossible for anything, even grass to grow. Though Aerith always had a talent for horticulture. The yard surrounding her house was a far cry from the decrepit looks of the Sector 5 & 6 areas. Like a small piece of heaven surrounded by hell

Zack stared down at the bare patch of dirt for a while, a far off look fixed in his eyes. "Mako…." He muttered softly. "I don't see why it's such a big deal. Besides, why drain away the planet's energy just so someone can power some screwed-up city like Midgar…?" He stopped for a moment, and looked around the ruined church.

"And worse still are the people in the slums." He continued. "Everyday there's some other murder or mugging in the streets, and everyday something else happens to make this place more of a hellhole…And what do the high-and-mighty-Shinra do about it? Nothing."

"Yes, Zack." Aerith agreed softly. "But many don't have any choice about living in the slums." She slowly ran her fingers through the soft dirt as she spoke. "This place, no matter how dismal it is, is all they have." She stood up, turning her gaze upwards. "And even if the Shinra do look down at us from way up there, thinking we're nothing but insects compared to those above; we still have to go on with life and hold our own. It's just the way life is, whether it's fair or not."

With an low scoff, Zack kicked the dirt. "Yet still, they just watch… Never doing a damn thing for those below."

"That's just how it is." Aerith replied sullenly, turning her gaze up to meet his. "But who knows? It may change one day…"

Zack looked to her and smiled wanly. "You and your optimism, Aerith." He chuckled. "That's why I love you so much…"

She grinned and nodded, though she knew why Zack was so annoyed by the way the Shinra had run things.

Aerith knew Zack had come from the town of Gongaga, where a mako reactor had only recently been build. Thus, the lifestyles of the people there were completely changed. From what she had heard, the reactor had been built in a rush to begin generation from it, making it a bit unstable in several ways.

Zack always spoke in contempt of the whole thing, the reactor may have even been an addition the reasons he had left there to join SOLDIER. Aerith often wondered exactly what his motifs for his opinions were, and she often had the compulsion to ask him sometimes.

"So….." She muttered instead, still carefully sewing the seeds into the moist soil. "What brings you all the way over to this sector-?"

Zack looked up again, startled by her question. "Huh?"

"Well, the main barracks for the Shinra are over in Sector 1 right?"

"Yeah," Zack replied, still a bit confused. "What's that have to do with it-?"

Aerith rolled her eyes, "You must have a reason for coming all the way over to Sector 5, right?"

"What's wrong with just coming to be with you, Hon'? Besides, It'd n-"

Aerith stood up from her work with the garden, giving Zack a stern look in return. "Zack."

Zack turned away from her quickly at that, folding his arms tightly. He hesitated to answer her, she could tell he was meticulously trying to pick the right words for whatever it was he wanted to say. She waited anxiously to hear his reply, fearing it was grave news.


"I….I've been assigned on an away mission, over in Nibelheim…" He whispered. "Along with Sephiroth."

Aerith clapped her hands to gather in excitement. "That's great!" She whooped with joy. "Your dream's finally come true, Zack!"

Though the young soldier didn't seem to share the girl's enthusiasm on the subject. Still, he had his back turned to her, a blank look on his face. "Yeah…" He murmured hesitantly." But see, they said it may last a while. Months….or years even.: Zack paused, finally turning back to face Aerith. "I dunno what I'd do being away from you for so long."

She blushed at Zack's simple honesty toward her. Though Aerith knew that she couldn't be the one to hold him back for his mission.

Aerith smiled warmly, shaking her head ever so slightly to him. "No, don't let me hold you back. I want you to be happy, so if it means going on this mission; so be it. I promise… I'll wait for you.

Zack nodded ecstatically, kissing her several times in return. "I'm glad." He smiled, finally showing the same eagerness as she had. Aerith grinned again, walking a wide circle around the newly planted seeds in the dirt. "And when you get back," She said, taking his hand in hers. "Promise you'll come see the garden here."

He nodded, smiling thoughtfully in turn. "But only if you'll come see me off tomorrow." He added with an even broader grin. Aerith knew he had something planned then, though the idea made her heart skip a beat. She grinned back and nodded excitedly.


To Be Continued…..


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