This chapter was difficult. I've been pounding at my writer's block for a looong time. You can see the dents in the cement. sigh


The morning dawned fresh and early. Well, as much as a morning can dawn in a world where the sun doesn't rise or set. In fact, the only definition they had of morning was when Sephiroth decided he was no longer tired. This suited Aeris fine, as she'd been up for nearly an hour already, pacing back and forth and conversing with the dreary, unfortunate chocobos.

Morning in the city of the dead was quite the same as afternoon, evening, and (presumably) night. The same crowds bustled about the city, some of them cheerful, as if they'd just woken up; some of them tired, as if they'd been up far too long; and some of them completely plastered, barely able to keep on their feet.

All in all, it was hard to imagine how this city kept functioning properly.

Nonetheless, it all seemed so normal, if a little dysfunctional, that Aeris was beginning to forget that she even had another life to return to. It seemed like an everyday occurance to wake up, wait for Sephiroth, and then get going. In fact, she was almost starting to enjoy the exciting routine.

That is, until she remembered she was standing next to the man that had stolen her life from her. TWICE.

A plan was what she needed. It was also very likely the most difficult thing for her to get. She had already decided that she would do any task set up for her if it would get her back to the world of the living, but it ended up a lot more difficult when you had no clue at all what you were supposed to be going about. She went over the facts she'd been given in her head once more.

So, Sephiroth had to atone, apparently, since this was the land of reform. But what that man had said, that Sephiroth only needed to learn, what did he mean by that? What could he learn from her? Aeris didn't feel she was qualified to teach anything, with the possible exception of growing flowers in tough conditions, so how was she supposed to teach Sephiroth anything? Especially when she had no clue what she should be teaching.

It was beginning to seem like their time in this world would be long. She didn't know how long she would be able to tolerate Sephiroth. The only benefit was that she seemed to be getting more of a travel companion treatment than a bug-under-my-foot treatment from him.
She would take as much control of their quest as possible, she decided. Sephiroth himself obviously had no idea whatsoever about how to solve this type of riddle.

First thing, this was long-term. Meaning that first and foremost they needed some means by which to sustain themselves for however long this took.

By this time, Sephiroth was almost completely done suiting up. He had so much armor and weaponry this always took a while. With the amount of hostility they recieved in this land, she was quite surprised he even bothered. The only person stupid enough to attack someone with even just a sword like Sephiroth's would have to be so drunk he couldn't tell his feet from the ceiling. And though there were often a few people that were that drunk, it took extreme effort for them to even notice the two, much less make any kind of motion in their direction. Nonetheless, he insisted on what totaled at least three blades of varying length, his typical armor, and several small disguised weapons in places you wouldn't want to know about.

If Aeris were honestly his teacher, she would establish a one-blade-only rule. In fact, she was supposed to be his teacher, so the rule didn't seem like such a bad idea.

One beautiful feeling ran through her entire body as she looked up at the back of his head and tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention. They were both dead, meaning his ability to kill her now meant nothing. They were finally on the same level, and authority was for the one that claimed it first.


He turned around, a bit surprised at the defiant tone her voice had taken on. The confident grin she was wearing only served to confuse him more. She grabbed one of the swords he'd armed himself with.

"This comes off," she told him, "we need to be making a good first impression to live around here, and you're giving the kind of first impression you'd want to give to the other side of a battlefield."

He frowned, and gave her one of the coldest looks she'd ever seen. Expecting her to back down, he got the shock of his life when she added to the statement.

"You should probably lose the ones down your boots too."

After a long staring match, he finally spoke.

"Why do expect me to follow your orders?"

"Because," she let a smug look cross her face, "I'm your teacher."

Maybe Sephiroth realized he wasn't going to win this. Maybe he figured that this was his only way out. Either way, in a couple minutes, Aeris' hands were full with the two extra swords he wore with the big one, three curiously shaped daggers (from down the boots), two small handguns (he'd been informed firearms were prohibited), and one larger gun.

By the end of it, Sephiroth was angrier than he'd been on the way down here. He was growling and grumbling and cursing and using other forms of vocal expressions of disapproval as they left the stable.

They were out the door and halfway across the street before either spoke. Aeris, seeming to enjoy rubbing it in, was the first to speak. Sephiroth dreaded what she would say.

"Hmmm... It might be best to remove the ones behind your ears, too."

He could have ripped her limb from limb.


Holy Pants, a chapter! We ought to catch a good shot of that one, no, explorer James? Ahhhh.
By the way, I took my mandatory "Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test" today. You all better wish me luck on being literate. I need it to pass high school.