Disclaimer: I wish I owned Sephy but I don't.  I don't even have a plushie of him (;_;)  but I do have a blue chevy.  Is that ok?

Author's notes:  Ok, this is my first time posting this anywhere.  It's an alt. universe fic, which means AERIS AND SEPHY DO NOT ACT LIKE THIS IN THE GAME!!!  So no flames about it.  I like them in love. =P  So…on with the fic!







Aeris wondered if the storm would ever end.

For two days, the ship had been trying to stay afloat and barely succeeding.  Though everyone had found rooms, Aeris couldn't sleep with the tossing and rolling of the waves.  She had no idea how Barrett and Red had managed to fall deeply enough asleep that they snored like two children.  Poor Yuffie was so sick, she'd reached the point of having emptied her stomach completely and now huddled in a tight, miserable ball on her hammock.  Cait Sith watched over her, worried, and only mildly comforting.  Cid and Vincent were both stoically dealing with the weather, helping the captain and crew whenever they could.  Cloud and Tifa had found a quiet corner where he could drape his arm about her shoulders, and now they, too, were sleeping.

But Aeris could not.

It was so hard to hear the Planet for some reason.  Aeris wondered if it wasn't because they were so far from dry land, where she could take handfuls of rich earth and inhale the sweet scent of her ancient friend.  That thought alone was enough to drive her from her own hammock.  Cloud looked up at her questioningly as she pulled on her jacket.  So he'd been awake, too.

Softly, so she wouldn't wake the others, she murmured, "I'm going for a walk.  I can't sleep."

He looked mildly worried, then Tifa shifted under his arm.  Sparing only another moment to glance at Aeris, he nodded.  "Be careful and stay belowdecks, then.  The Captain said this is no night to be out on top."

"I will," she replied, but he'd already turned his attention back to the other girl.  Aeris sighed and went quietly out the door.

She had taken her pack with her, partly out of habit, partly because her journal was inside.  She hoped the cargo hold would be empty, so she could write a page or two in peace.  It felt strange to write her private thoughts with everyone around, and it would be a good thing to keep her mind off the storm.  As she went, she thought about the next entry she planned to write.  She reached the hold without running into a soul along the way.  Then she was inside, the heavy door swung shut and bolted, and she turned around to look for a place to sit.

Someone else was there.

Not just someone…HIM.

"Well, this is an unexpected surprise," came his mocking voice, "I didn't even have to lure you.  How nice of you to come willingly to your death."

"Sephiroth," she breathed.  She didn't even have time to turn around, he moved so fast.  She found her back against the wall, his hands on her arms, pinning her.  Aeris quailed at the unholy gleam in his eyes as they raked over her.  "H-how did you get here without them knowing?"

He laughed harshly, hands tightening.  "I've been here all along, pretty one.  Not even I can cross the sea unaided."

"But—but we're following you!  I thought—"

"Enough!" he cut her off.  "I don't care what you thought.  I have been looking for just the right time to do this, and you have obliged me by walking directly into the perfect situation."  He backed up half a step, hand going to Masamune's hilt.  "If you'd be so kind, stand right there for just a moment.  This won't take long."

She was going to die, that was all there was to it.  He was going to kill her, and she didn't even have a weapon or anything.  No one would hear her if she screamed, and no one would think to look for her until the morning.  By then, he'd be gone, or hiding, and she'd never know again what solid ground felt like…

The floor heaved suddenly, a sharp, explosive clang reverberated through the hull.  Sephiroth began to resheathe his sword in disgust.  "What the—"

The rest of his words were lost when a section of the wall peeled away like tin.  Wind and rain and seawater poured through the opening, drenching them both in an instant.  Both soldier and flower seller looked out into the night, wondering what the ship could have hit that tore a vertical hole in the hull.

A roar like an insane herd of elephants crossed with a pride of angry lions sounded, piercing and louder than any roar should be.  Aeris and Sephiroth covered their ears out of reflex, though the sound still reached them, jangling in their heads.  Then a flash of lightning revealed a horrifyingly huge sea serpent, its jaws coming down for a second time to attack the ship.

Sephiroth swore, drawing Masamune once again to take on this unexpected opponent.  Aeris ran for the door, but he caught her by the pack on her back.  "Oh, no, you don't, you're not going anywhere."

"But I can't fight it!" she cried, desperately wishing that this was all some terrible nightmare.

"I don't want you to fight it," he answered, "I want you to feed it!"

What happened next would later be looked back upon as a mystery, one of those "chances-that-leads-to-more-chances" moments.  Sephiroth swung her around, intending to cast her out into the water.  The floor bucked again, however, and instead of flying over the edge of the hole, she fell against him.  Her hands, grasping automatically for anything, anything at all, found the leather straps that crossed his chest.  She registered his surprise for only a moment as her fingers closed around them.  He staggered back a step, Masamune jostling from his grasp and skittering away across the floor.  Its sharp edge cut one of the restraining cords on the cargo, which came tumbling about them.

Then the ship rolled, and a wave hit the open hole, and everything that wasn't bolted down was swept from the room.

They hit the icy water hard, though luckily none of the big boxes landed on top of them.  A broken board, however, struck Sephiroth on the head, rendering him unconscious.  Aerith caught the board and clung to it, then found herself with a dilemma.  Should she hold on to him, and save him?  Or should she let go, and thus finish the job she and her friends had set out to do?  Though wind and rain battered at her, and the ship was moving steadily away, the monster being driven back by the people on deck, all she could think about was whether to let Sephiroth die, or save him.

The man who planned such terrible things for her Planet.

The man who had, mere moments ago, been ready to either slice her in half or feed her to a sea monster.

The man who, at this moment, looked nothing like the horrible creature she knew he could be, and was helpless and defenseless.  Blood oozed from a cut on his forehead, only to be washed off right away.

Aeris sighed, dragged him up to rest on the board with her, and began to kick her feet.  Her Planet seemed to tell her to go in a certain direction.  Perhaps, when they were on land, she could figure out what to do then.


What was this roaring in his ears?

The storm!

The monster!

The girl!

Sephiroth snapped awake, only to shut his eyes immediately against bright sunlight.  A heavy weight lay across his chest, which revealed itself to be one unconscious flower girl.  Carefully, he tried to shift, but found a sharp pain in his ribs with every move.  His hiss of pain woke her, and she gingerly sat up.

"Where are we?" she asked groggily.  "Gods, I ache."

He growled.  "You pulled us both into the water."

"Only because you were trying to throw me in alone!" She retorted, poking him in the chest.  He managed to avoid making any noise this time, but his grimace told her anyway.  "Oh, goodness, are you hurt?"

He tried to push her away, to no avail.  "I will be fine."

"Liar."  She prodded him a few times, deftly avoiding the gloved hands that swatted at her, then said firmly, "Lie back down."


"Lie," she pushed on his breastbone, making white agony shoot through him, "DOWN."

He grumbled, but complied.  "Where is my armor?  My pauldrons?  My SWORD?"

"I don't know anything about your precious Masamune, but the armor is resting on the bottom of  the ocean right now.  Now, if you'd kindly shut up, Sephiroth, I'm concentrating."

"They're WHAT?"  He struggled to sit up, but she thumped his chest.  Collapsing in a fit of pain, he gasped, "Do you have any idea the trouble I had to go through to get that armor custom-made?  And what of the materia?  I had six pieces, all mastered!  Is IT gone, too?"

"Of course not.  I took them from their slots before getting the armor off you.  As to why I removed it, well, it was either that or send you to the bottom with it.  It was weighing you down."  The glow of Cure surrounded them both, and the pain eased.  "There, now you can sit up."

He glared at her and pushed her off of him.  It really was impressive, how much better he felt, but he was too angry to pay much attention to it.  The loss of his armor and weapons, coupled with her audacity… "Where the hell are we?" he demanded, clambering to his feet.  He had never seen this place before.  The sand was fine and soft, nearly white, the broad strip stretching for a quarter mile in each direction.  Huge cliffs rose on either side, with rocks tumbled at their feet in the water.  All in all, it reminded him of a pair of giant hands, cradling the beach and the profusion of green plants that began about a hundred feet from where they stood.

Sephiroth heard her stand, the unmistakable hiss of pain she tried to keep from him.  He felt smug at her weakness, selectively ignoring the fact that he'd made just such a sound moments before.  He turned, about to make a flippant comment when he saw all color drain from her face.  A flash of panic crossed her expression as she collapsed, her pain-filled eyes meeting his.

Without thinking, he reflexively caught her before she could hit the ground again.  "What happened?"

"My leg," she gasped, "I think it's broken."  Her fingers dug into the leather of his coat.  "Can—" she took a deep breath and willed her voice to steady, "—Can you check?"

Keeping one arm around her back, he expertly probed at the limb she indicated.  He didn't need to look very hard.  Her calf was marked by a massive purple bruise and a swelling.  With any luck, he should be able to set it, but he wondered how she'd managed to stand, even for a moment, with an injury like that.  "It's not your shin, but you were right.  Can you heal it?"

To his surprise, she shook her head.  "I—I'm not very good at healing myself.  If I can set it, I might have a potion in my bag that will help.  But it won't be enough.  I'll need to splint it."

"Then wait here," he ordered, "I'll get something."  He stood to go, but her laugh stopped him.  Turning back to her, he asked irritably, "What?  What's so funny?"

Amusement mixed with her pain.  "Just last night you were trying to feed me to a sea monster.  Now you're running to splint my broken leg."  She grimaced as she shrugged off the pack.  "Make up your mind, Sephiroth.  You want to kill me, or heal me?"

He snorted.  "Maybe I just want to make sure the healer is alive just in case I require her services."

He pretended he didn't hear her laughter as he stormed off to find something for her leg.









~~~~~~~~~~~~author's notes

Well, here I am, first ficcy!  W00t! I have another chapter, but it's not done yet.  I promise to upload more, but I wanna see if anyone reads this one first. _