Disclaimer: I had hoped you'd all have noticed that I don't own Final Fantasy and its characters yet, but hey. Some people are slow learners. I can respect that. So here it is: I don't own anything here.

Final-Chapter Author's Note!:

Wow…Just wow. When I wrote chapter one last August, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and certainly had no idea that this would stretch out for so long. Whether or not that is a good thing, I will let you decide, but while I have bitched and moaned about updating every day now for almost a year, I have had fun with this story, and I hope you have, too. Enough of my babbling!! Chapter time!


When the phone sang out its cheerless alarm of three shrill beeps, Leon and I knew it was time to put Operation Beat Bitch into action. While naming said operation had been fun, I couldn't say I was feeling too enthusiastic about what I had to do next, even though I knew it was for a greater good.

I stared at the cell phone blankly, wishing it would just disappear when I heard Leon snort his amusement from the couch next to me. I guess he realized my plan to just wish it into nonexistence and felt obligated to do me the service of handing me to phone.

"HURRY! She's dragging me to the door!"

I rolled my eyes at Zack's text message, only feeling slightly sorry for him. He should learn how to clean up his own messes.

"Just do it and get it over with, Cloud." Leon said while grinning slightly at me. Of course he thought this was entertaining. Especially since realizing that Roxas was much too old to require a baby sitter, let alone two of them. This meant we had had to wrack our brains for a new excuse, Zack and Leon finally settling on one that I could have definitely lived without.

I tossed Leon a furious glare made him do nothing but settle down into the couch a little more, appearing to get comfortable for the show he was about to watch.

Licking my lips and dialing Zack's phone number, I tried to forget that Leon was even in the room.

"Cloud! Hey! What's up?" Came the abrupt answer. I swear to God, the phone hadn't even RANG yet. I tried not to picture Zack just randomly picking up his phone in hopes of me being on the other end. I heard a dull 'blip' that I assumed meant that I was now on speaker phone.

"It's Cloud, Aerith. I won't be long?" I could hear Zack inform the girl. I heard her yell her greetings into the phone as I kept my silence. Mother of Holy I did not want to go through with this. "...Cloud? You there?"

I felt a nudge on my side and Leon poked me with his foot, and I noted, with much amusement, that he was wearing the socks that Zack had given us.

Swallowing my pride, I decided to do what was best for my friend, no matter how embarrassing it was going to be for me.

"Oh, Zack!" I cried into the phone, trying to put as much emotion as I could into those two words alone. I was going for grief-stricken, brink of tears, and I think I achieved it as Leon was doing everything in his power to keep from laughing.

"Cloud? Are you all right?!" Came Zack's practiced concern.

"Zack! I…I….." I paused for some whimpering before releasing and all out wail.

"LEON BROKE UP WITH ME!" I tried to ignore the fact that Leon appeared to be smothering his own face with a pillow as his body racked and shook while I conjured up some pathetic sobs.

In the midst of all of Zack's babbles of friendly comfort, I could hear Aerith's soft gasp and inquiry of

"They were dating?"

Bitch. My heart was shattering and that's all she's worried about?

"Please Zack! Can you come over? I just don't think….don't think I can be alone right now.." I paused before releasing agony-ridden bellow.

"Even though I am going to be alone for the rest of my life! God I miss him so much!"

I tried to ignore the fact that Leon had rolled off of the couch at this point, and hung up after I heard Zack inform me he would 'be here in ten minutes.' In reality, he was probably going home to take a nap or harass his brother.

Once off the phone I huffed and threw it at Leon, hitting him in the middle of his back. I waited a few moments as he tried to get the last of the giggles out of him, not helping my self but noticing how much I loved to hear him laugh.

After calming down, Leon pulled himself from the floor and sat down beside me, much closer than before. Curiously, I noticed that he still wore an amused grin.

"Cloud, I am so sorry for breaking your heart." He began, smirking, and I tried to ignore the mischievous glint his eyes had taken on.

"I only hope that you could…give me a second chance. I promise I'll be better. What do you say? ...Take me back?"

Whoa, wait. He was getting awfully close to my face. Did he mean…?

I could barely mumble out an unsure "Yes" before his eyes slid shut and his mouth covered my own.

I would have to thank Zack for this later.


Aerith's POV

"They were dating?!" Tifa stopped walking and just stared at me in shock. Poor girl. She had had a rather large crush on Cloud for quite some time now, and I hated to tell her that Cloud had been with Leon, apparently, all this time.

"I didn't know either! I thought they were just friends!" I walked back and took her hand, trying to comfort her in her new depression. I grinned as we began walking through the mall once more.

"Though you know what this means, right?" She looked at me questioningly and I squeezed her hand.

"He's single again! Now's your chance!"

"You're right! Maybe the only reason he never responded to me before was because he was with Leon! Who knows! Maybe Leon threatened to beat him if he showed interest in anyone else! Well now that he is free, I will help him recover. Then you, me, Cloud, and Zack can double-date!"

We both squealed in delight. Double-Dating would be so much fun! We would have the cutest boyfriends in town!

"Hey Aerith…." Tifa seemed to be staring across the walkway, her smile gone and replaced with concentration and uncertainty.

"Isn't that Sephiroth?"

What? Sephiroth? Why would he be at the mall? Turning to follow her pointing finger, pushing it down as I did (ladies didn't point, after all), I saw Sephiroth walking side by side with Zack's other little friend, Rufus.

"He's dating Shinra now? Man, shoulda seen that coming a mile away." Tifa observed, both of us watching as an empty-handed Rufus looked around happily, talking quickly to Sephiroth who was toting two or three bags that probably didn't belong to him.

I sighed. If only those two were together.

"I don't think so, Tifa. Rufus is dating Sephiroth's best friend, Tseng. You knew that. And besides….." I bit my lip and Tifa gave me a concerned look, rubbing my arm to coax me into continuing.

"I think he is trying to take Zack back." Tifa's mouth dropped in a silent gasp as her look went from concern to determination. She was always the greatest friend.

Grabbing my hand, she began leaping me over towards Sephiroth and Rufus. The two not seeming to notice us just yet.

"Come on, Aer. We're going to let this guy know that he can't just march back here and steal your man!"

I suddenly got the feeling that things were not going to go exactly as Tifa believed.


Rufus's POV

"Can't just march back here and steal your man!"

Hmm…That certainly sounded interesting. I paused from telling Sephiroth all of the girly Tseng-related love gossip that I had held in for half a year now to turn and see if I would get to see a fight.

I found myself not that ecstatic to see Zack's girlfriend being dragged by an irate, dark haired woman. It was that Lockhart girl. We had shared a few classes last year and I had never particularly cared for her. She was hot-headed and too ruled by her emotions for my tastes.

And the fact that she was storming towards us after what she had just said was a telltale sign that my opinion wasn't going to be changing of her anytime soon.

"This should be good." I said coldly, looking up to give Seph a side glance. He looked down at me blankly and raised an eyebrow. I had missed this. There are few things as fun as looking at someone like they were the lowest piece of filth on the planet while they thought they were telling you off.

By the time the girls reached us, we were already in the perfect "I'm sorry, were you talking to me, you insignificant worm?" position, not that it took any thought to achieve this look. It was kind of a permanent setting Seph and I had.

"Excuse me, yea, you." I mentally tsk'ed the girl. So rude.

Sephiroth didn't spare her a glance before looking to Aerith, tipping his head slightly to acknowledge her, which caught me off guard.

"Hey, Sephiroth." Lockhart was standing directly in front of him now. I think that she had gotten cocky in a public setting. Had we been in a more private location, she would never express such boldness. Such cockiness should be stomped out.

"I suppose he couldn't hear you past your breasts, allow me to apologize on his behalf." She looked shocked and embarrassed by my comment, which made me feel sated for the moment.

She stared at me furiously before turning to Sephiroth once more. Here I thought we had escaped high school drama. How wrong I was.

"I realize that you may think your Mister Perfect, buddy, and that you're just the hottest thing out there, but ya know what? You can't have Zack. You lost him because you didn't care, and now he's with Aerith. So Back. Off."

Please….Please tell me that Tifa did not just tell Sephiroth to "back off." The smug look she was giving us said that she did, and it also gave me the impression that she expected Sephiroth to just stand there and take it. Not happening, babe.

Seph looked down at the girl with a bored expression.

"I'm sorry. Who are you?"

Tifa's face fell as Sephiroth appeared to have not even heard her 'brutal' rant just moments ago, and Aerith just looked embarrassed and apologetic.

"I'm sorr-" The brown haired girl began before Seph rose a hand to interrupt.

"There is no need for you to apologize. It is hardly your own fault that your friend lacks the self control to keep from storming up to someone and begin accusing them of things they can not begin to understand, and then lack the oral finesse to even do it in a semi-impressive manner."

He returned his now glaring eyes back to Tifa.

"I would suggest that you never speak to me in such a manner again, if you must insist on speaking to me at all. I don't know who you think you are, that you could walk up and tell me that I never cared about Zackary, because I most certainly did, and still do. I am going to do everyone in the building the favor of pretending that you didn't tell me to 'back off' and pretend that you are, instead, just a silly prostitute who had mistaken me for someone else."

He once more rounded his gaze to Aerith.

"And with all due respect, I simply can not sit back without trying to regain Zack's feelings. I am sorry if this is rude or immoral of me, but it is something I must do. If I fail, you have my blessings and the assurance that I will not interfere again."

Aerith looked up to Sephiroth and smiled sadly.

"I think it will be easier than you think. I think Zack and I need to have a talk. I am not so clueless as to realize how much you meant to him, and he you probably still do."

She had apparently caught on the fact that Zack's feelings were less than genuine. So she has a brain after all? Shocking.

With a quiet good-bye, Aerith and a very shunned looking Tifa turned and walked back the way they came.

Smirking up at Seph, I gave him an expectant look.

"Well what are you waiting for? You still have to buy me lunch."

He rolled his eyes as we walked to the Food Court, him carrying bags full of things I convinced him to buy for me.

Sometimes I liked to 'forget' I was the one with all the money.


Zack's POV

It had probably been three hours since Aerith had left my house, and I still wasn't quite sure what had happened.

She had come over to my house and sat us down on my bed, the whole time wearing a sad but knowing smile.

"I know you still care about him." She had said. She hadn't needed to say who, and I felt like the worlds biggest asshole for not denying it.

"It's not fair to be with me when you don't really love me, Zack. Not to either of us." She had told me that it hurt more than I could know, but she did want to see me happy, even if that meant crushing all aspirations she had built up since being with me. Yep, I felt like an asshole. A bigger asshole than Rufus. Why? Because I was relieved. I was relieved that she had come in here and ended our relationship at the price of her own tears, and lots of them.

A knock on my bedroom door alarmed me, and I looked up to see Tseng already walking in.

"Are you all right? Mom said you haven't come out of your room since Aerith left. She's afraid she broke up with you. I don't think you could have been that lucky."

A grinned at my brother and his loathing of my now ex-relationship.

"Actually, dear Tseng, you're wrong. She did break up with me."

Tseng smirked and I got the feeling that he really had known that.

"Good," he said. "Because that would make the next few minutes pretty awkward if you were in a relationship."

That was all he said as he got up and walked out of the room. I was about to yell at him and ask just what in the hell he was getting at when Sephiroth walked into my doorway.

He looked…ashamed. Definitely something new. It was pulling at my heart, but I'd be damned before I let it get to me….maybe. Hopefully.

"Zack." He seemed to not know what to say and instead walked in to my room, closing the door behind him. Six months ago the man giving us privacy would have made me rip my pants off, but not now.

"No." I said. I was going to be strong. I wanted to forgive him, but it couldn't just be that easy. I tried to focus on all the pain he caused me when he left, and I was confident that nothing he could say would necessarily convince me, as he was not very 'in-touch' with his personal side. He was always more of an 'actions' person, which if I had any kind of functioning foresight, I would have realized that would be what did me in.

When he offered me a soft smile, I knew I was pretty much done for.

With every step that he came closer, the hurt inside of me diminished more and more. By the time he reached me where I stood, all the anger and bad feelings were gone, and as his hand rose to clutch my cheek, those feelings were replaced with a desire and a burning need that I couldn't remember having felt before.

"Se-" I didn't have time to get his name off of my tongue before the hand on my cheek, now joined by its twin, found its way into my hair and roughly forced our lips together.

At the moment that our lips met, it felt like fire danced throughout my entire body, each part of me reawakening with the love that I had triedto put away for this man.

After a few moments of standing there, letting him for all intensive purposes, rape my mouth, I found the ability to return the near-violent kiss. It was almost as though he were trying to drain the life out of me, not that I had any intention of stoppinghim.

Then something peculiar happened. Just as my own ferocity and flame in the kiss had risen to match his, everything slowed down. His tongue no longer was trying to hog-tie my own, and there was no more biting or mashing our lips together.

Instead, the angry, passionate kiss turned into something else.

As he pulled back away from me and looked into my eyes before softly meeting our lips together once more, the kiss turned into something gentle.

Something that I could love.


I can't believe it's over! YESSS! Thank you so much to everyone who read and reviewed, and enjoyed it. And a big thanks to Sam for bullying me into writing the kiss that gave me the motivation to write the entire chapter….so what if it took a whole month..

Anyway. thanks fo reading and all that.