Again, I do not own Final Fantasy Seven, or any of its affiliates. So please, be nice and don't sue me or beat me with a blunt object if what I write annoys and/or infuriates you.

Amarant frowned, his thin lips pulled back into a grimace, his heavy footfalls leaving indents on the muddy streets of Alexandria. Cold, lifeless rain, gray and dismal like his surroundings, cascaded in wet rivets, plastering his fiery-red hair to already sodden clothes. Sighing, he trudged on-ignoring the individuals that quickly skirted out of his way as he recklessly paced the streets, head down and eyes emotionless.

He was headed to the bar, to drown himself in as much liquor as possible.

It wasn't as if he didn't WANT to remember, it was just that remembering pained him, made the skin on his back crawl, and his heart prickle with an invisible conscience. Irked, he reminded himself the things of the past where past-and must stay there.

Amarant had always been a person of little moral character-he stole when he could, dabbling in illegal activities when the occasion presented itself-and his thoughts on ladies in general were most impure. He lived life by his rules, and it had treated him fairly well these past couplea years. Not to say he hadn't had his batch of mishaps, like hooking up with that Zidane-Creature, who was, in his own opinion, more monkey then boy. But Zidane had gotten his princess, Vivi, the little good-two-shoes, had met Vera, and Steiner--talk about a head fulla bull right there! That guy was always complaining about something, and the rattle of his extremely rusted armor grated on Amarant's nerves like no other. It was impossible to sneak unsuspecting on ones adversary when his lewd, belligerent guffaw and rattling gaunt saturated the perimeter with unneeded NOISE!

Finally, the wooden door of the saloon presented itself, and Amarant heedlessly charged in, startling two bar maids and knocking over three precariously placed chairs. He grunted, and placed his rumpled posterior in a creaking stool, and waited impatiently for service.

After everything they'd been though as a team, those days were long- forgotten, and never could be reinstated, much to his chagrin. He had become very close to them-his comrades in arms-confiding things he himself thought long forgotten.

They had been partners in crime, working together, trying to rid the world of a reckless evil that threatened to consume it.

What a laugh!! After everything was said and done, and they had sorrowfully gotten over grieving for the mysteriously dead Zidane who turned out wasn't dead after all, the crew had pretty much lost contact with each other, going their own ways, paving their own road. Last he had heard, Zidane was settling "nice and comfy" in princely life, Vivi had opened a quaint little magic shop somewhere, Stiner was now happily married to that woman Betrix, and Eico, for all Amarant was concerned, was as far away from his person as possible. He realized with a certain amount of shock that Freya had been the only one he had politely gotten along with. They had never really talked much, but she had seemed quite, reserved, and so her disposition demanded respect from those around her. She had inquired nothing of him, therefore, he had requested nothing from her.

"She was the only one I never fought with." He murmured to himself. "God!"

He looked up to meet the startled eyes of a blond beauty, whom was fairly shaking behind her menu.

"Ma-may I take your o-order, Sir?" She asked, quivering, fawnlike eyes stretched wide as if he would soon lash out and ferociously bite.

He sized her up a bit, just to intimidate her. A crisp clean uniform clothed her person, and the child had pinned the top of it closed in modesty that looked alien in the smoggy smoke-filled room of the bar. Her dress had no stains, so she was fresh, possibly this was even her first day, her first customer.

Amarant felt cheated. He had come hear expecting easy flirtation, beautiful women, and gallons of refreshing beverages. Now all he had was a sniveling girl who looked like at any moment she would dash away from the scary scarlet-enflamed man who sat glaring in front of her, and bolt desperately for the door.

He almost chuckled at the thought of what the child would do if he tried to kiss her. Scream? Flail about in anger? Faint into his arms?

But yet she was so different from the ostensible Eico that something about her personage caught his attention. She was frightened...sure...but stood there in determination, triumphing over the task at hand, now meeting his eyes with her clear, bright blue ones, as if sizing HIM up for size, and laughing at what a poor target he created.

Amarant flinched, caught in her penetrating gaze. He consciously glanced down at his gnarled hands, circling them into tight fists to keep his anger locked inside.

How DARE she... How dare she presume to know him that deeply?

Already he felt scarred, the boundaries of his soul unrightfully infringed upon, the anger and sorrow building in the confines of his body, battering him on the inside for release-and yet he would not let it.

He was a cool man in nature, his cold clever eyes infiltrating though most people, and seeing their hypocrisy, the evil inside themselves they tried so franticly to hide. Then he could peg them for the liars they were, degrading them to mere unfit, sinful humans like himself.

This girl...

Her gaze was unfaltering, soft, and innocent; her azure eyes almost blaming him for a cruelty he could not deny. She stood there, insisting to be judged, withholding nothing of herself, yet demanding everything from him.

And he was frightened.

Glaring at her nameless, lithe form, he leapt from the bar stool, turned his back, and marched into the flowing rain that seemed to eagerly drench his slopping frame.

------------------------------- Well what do you think? I don't know if I like it...seems second-rate to my Aeris fics-but again, this is my first chance at writing from a male perceptive. If you've read, please review and offer some constructive criticism!