[Author's Quickie:

Hi all. I've been decapitated from Fanfiction.net for a while (only if you haven't noticed). But I've recently decided to post my fanfiction up again…though not about Kingdom Hearts, and in Project: Trinity. I need to ask everyone a question. How much do you want me to continue? I've already written the 17th chapter, but I'm not sure if there's so-called public approval. [I have been out of reach for a year or so, after all]. Drop me a line, tell me how you feel. If not, I'll just let Project: Trinity where it hangs, though it pains me to do so.

Those characters tend to attach themselves to you….Damn it all.]

Disclaimer: Bzzz.. . Snap, Crackle, Pop!

Project: Trinity

Chapter 17: Addendum

This, Aerith decided unhappily as she smacked a sofa pillow, was the most horrible day of her life. For a moment she wondered if she was in a dream, and, after pinching herself without any fruitful result, had concluded it was not. All those ridiculous things that man said! He is insane, she thought to herself. Stark raving mad.

But she admitted to herself that he didn't seem like he was insane. True, he had a wonderfully fierce temper that made her want to chuck something at his head, something preferably sharp and pointy. He was tall, dark, and brooding. But he wasn't insane.
"Oh, right, Aerith," she murmured aloud, "your kidnapper is very sane. Incredibly sane. So sane that I think I'm going to cry." But she didn't, managing to persevere at the last moment. Nonetheless, her mind wandered back to their heated conversation.

"The marriage will bring about a merger, and then the Strife corporation will have an almost exclusive monopoly over Tokyo. And everyone knows the Strifes aren't the most benevolent of businessmen; they'll resort to underhanded tactics to gain more power and money."

The last sentence she had dismissed; she had known the Strife family for a while now, and not only were they the most well-mannered people she had ever met, they were also the most trustworthy. But why hadn't anyone--Cloud, her parents, Cloud's parents--told her anything about the merger? Maybe they knew she wouldn't have really cared, Aerith rationalized.

Truth to tell, she wasn't the type of person who could control the vast workings of the Gainsborough Corporation. As her father had said and Cloud had once echoed, "You're born to love, not to run a business."

But something as important as a merger…

"No," she said aloud, shaking her head to free herself of such worries, "he wouldn't. Cloud loves me." She was being ridiculous. She needed to focus. She needed to get out of here. But how could she? She was trapped, by this efficient kidnapping machination of a human. And then, out of nowhere, she started to cry.

Cloud…Cloud, I'm sorry…I might never see you again…

No. She had to be strong. She couldn't fall to pieces like this! She had withstood it all before…even the illness hadn't brought her down…she couldn't, just couldn't… A little unsteadily she rose to her feet, her legs shaking. Oh, God, she thought as she sat back down heavily. Her body was exhausted; it seemed like she hadn't eaten since…hadn't eaten since… Her eyes sought out a window, and the quiet darkness that was descending upon the streets of Midgar City told her it was past 6:00 pm. She hadn't eaten since that morning, and even then it was only a cranberry muffin with a glass of orange juice. Her stomach rumbled, as if bemoaning the circumstances.

Wait. The window. With a new hope fluttering in her chest, she ran towards the window on the left side of the condo and looked down. Her heart very nearly jumped into her throat. It was at least ten stories down, probably even more, so jumping out of it was an unpromising possibility.

Her knees gave way, and she sank down to the wooden floorboards, shoulders slumped in despair. Hopeless. It was all hopeless. Her stomach gave her another kick, as if to remind her of priorities. Right, she thought dimly, food first, escape routes later.

She stumbled towards the open kitchen, which overlooked the living room. Shards of glass littered the gleaming metallic sink, the remains of the kidnapper's shot glass after his burst of rage. With a sigh she reached in and started to scoop the shards into her palm, intending to clear it out, but caught herself angrily. What was she doing? Why was she helping him? He was the source of all her problems. Let him rot.

With a furious crash she flung the glass back into the sink, breaking them even more, and stood staring at the sink, breathing heavily. This wasn't supposed to happen. She was getting married in two months, damn it! She still needed to pick out her wedding dress, the bridesmaid dresses, the ring…she had so much to do, so much to give back… Why would anyone do this to her? What had she ever done to deserve this?

"Damn you!" she shouted, kicking the door of the dishwasher wrathfully, ignoring the spasm of pain it sent up her leg. "DAMN YOU!" She didn't know if the man had heard her or not, but it really didn't matter. She felt better after having screamed her frustration, though it didn't help her much.

Quieting down within moments, she gained control of herself and found her stomach growling again. Right, the food. Aerith reached out for the refrigerator door and tugged it open, and was relieved to see, at any case, that her kidnapper did not mean to starve her to death. Leafy green vegetables sat along the edge of the compartments, ripe oranges and crunchy apples tumbled out of the bin, milk and Tropicana strawberry-banana fruitblends, her favorite, on the top shelf.

Aerith was a little tickled to see that her kidnapper, the serious, angry man that he was, would have a craving for strawberry-banana juice. She opened the freezer compartment and saw a vast array of meat and poultry inside. For a moment she hovered in front of the fridge, a little leery of eating her kidnapper's food, then she decided, the hell with it, and took out large portion of frozen chicken, lettuce, tomato, and cabbage, and saw to her delight there was a bottle of Caesar dressing in a cabinet. Scooping everything into her arms and onto the kitchen counter, she started to rummage in the counters beneath the sink.

"Aha!" she said in triumph as she found a large frying pan, which looked like it hadn't been used a long, long time. Further digging produced a spatula, and a couple of salad bowls. With practiced motions she braided her hair up, securing it in a loose bun with her ribbon, and began slicing the cabbage and lettuce into smaller parts. After the chicken had defrosted a while, she chopped it up into small chunks, which she then placed on the frying pan on low heat. Soon the air was thick was the smell of freshly-cooked chicken and the crisp tang of lettuce.

So intent on making a perfect dinner was she that Aerith hadn't even realized the man was watching her from the partial doorway. "What are you doing?" he said loudly, startling her into dropping the salad tongs to the tiled floor.

After Aerith had gotten her breath back into her lungs, she bent down to pick up the tongs and glared at him. "Cooking."

"No, really?" the man said sarcastically. "I had no idea; I just thought you were planning to set the place on fire." She wanted to smack him; instead, she washed the tongs under the sink and coolly returned to tossing the salad. "I meant, what are you making?" he said finally, when she ignored him.

"A salad. Isn't that obvious?" she retorted. God help her, she certainly wasn't going to be civil to this man, since he wasn't at all civil to her. When the man hadn't responded, she glanced at him from the corner of her eyes. To her surprise, there was an almost sorrowful look in his eyes, eyes the color of a storm-shot sky. Aerith found her anger cooling, against her will; being angry was simply not in her nature, and though she thoroughly hated this man, she found her curiosity growing. Why?

As Aerith finished tossing the salad, she found she had made more than needed. She couldn't eat possibly so much, even though her hunger was ravenous by now. She brought out two salad bowls, split the contents between them, and took both bowls to the dining table, along with two silver forks. Closing her eyes, she resigned herself and said to him, "I can't eat all of this by myself, you know."

With confusion in his eyes the man turned to face her, his expression mostly unreadable. "Are you…asking me to eat with you?"

Setting her jaw tight, Aerith nodded. "I don't like wasting food. But if you don't want to eat it, then by no means…" She drifted off as the man slowly made his way towards the table, and sat down on a metal chair. Stiffly, knowing her every movement was being watched by him, Aerith speared a couple pieces of lettuce on her fork and chewed it thoughtfully. Damn it, she had forgotten the vinegar and oil.

"I've never eaten a homemade salad before," the man said suddenly, his own fork poised halfway towards his mouth. He was staring at his salad as if it had sprouted wings.

She was startled into an honest reply. "Why not? Hadn't your mother ever made one for you?"

The corners of his lips curled up ever so slightly, as if in derision. "I've never known her." Aerith bit her lip, digging in her salad just so she wouldn't have to reply. Don't let yourself back down, she told herself fiercely. Don't feel sorry for him! He kidnapped you! But how could she help it? How could her heart not feel pity for this strange, brooding man, so laden down with premature grief and endless sorrow?

"Oh." If she had been anyone else, she would have said she was sorry; but she knew, instinctively, that he was the kind of man who resented those empty words, words that did nothing to make the pain less. "What about your father?"

"Never knew him, either." The contempt in his face was so clearly evident that Aerith felt she shouldn't press any further. For a few moments the two of them picked at their salads in silence. "You're…an odd person," he said after a couple of minutes, studying her.

Aerith looked up, an almost bemused look on her face. "I'm an odd person?" she repeated, poking at the chunks of chicken in her bowl, "What do you mean?"

"Not everyone would sit down to dinner with their kidnapper so blithely," he said dryly. Aerith had to admit, he had a point there.

"I…am odd, I suppose. But…" here she hesitated, trying to shuffle her thoughts in order, "you're an odd kidnapper. It goes both ways." He blinked, as if considering.

"Yeah. Guess so," he murmured, taking a bite of sliced tomato. The rich, juicy flavor exploded in his mouth, and suddenly, for the first time in his life, he wondered how life would have been if he had had a mother to cook for him, to care for him, to love him. No use thinking about it now, he thought resolutely.

"I've…been wondering…" Aerith said, glancing down at her salad, which she had managed to finish only half of, "Well…what your name is."

Another silence, this time longer than before. She could practically see him contemplating whether or not to tell her. His fork pushed various chunks of chicken and cabbage around in his bowl. "Call me Leon," he answered at last.

"Leon," she said, nodding. "I'm Aerith."

"I know," he replied wryly. He sighed, and pushed his salad away from him. "I just don't understand…" he whispered quietly, almost as if to himself.

"Don't understand what?" she found herself asking, then knew immediately she had gone too far as Leon's face contorted into one of anger.

"None of your business," he snarled, shoving his chair back so that it fell to the floor with a loud clang. Aerith stared up fearfully at his glowering expression, where before it had been thoughtful, contemplative. What had happened? "Don't get too friendly--it won't last long, anyway," he snapped at her, before running to his door and slamming it behind him.

Oh my God, Aerith thought, her lips trembling from such an onslaught of fury. What kind of person was he?