A/N: Omgoodness. My style's changed so much since I wrote this . . . but I simply cannot bear to part with it. This was my first Clorith ever.

Disclaimer: Pfft. A girl can dream, right?

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She walked along the cobblestone street with nothing more than the sound of drizzling rain and the steady pitter pat pat of her own footsteps filling the air, not nearly loud enough to overshadow the racing beating of her own frenzied heart. Thunder rumbled in the distance and lighting lit up the sky in an explosion of smoky-grays and purples, causing her feet to give way, a bit more of pep to her step as she subconsciously walked in the general direction of the ramshackle, comfortable old house she called home a bit more hurriedly, clutching her whicker basket closer to her chest.

Aerith glanced down at the wilted, rain-drop laden daffodils. Why had she turned down Yuffie's exuberant offer to accompany her to the town square? Silently, the flower girl mentally berated herself, quivering as a gust of wind blew past her slight, trembling form. Strands of her amber hair had come loose from her braid, hanging around her livid face, the thin, flimsy cloth of her delicate fuchsia dress beginning to cling like a second skin.

She flushed a slight pink as she hurried past the swinging door of an open bar, the dreary restaurant aglow both with dim lanterns and raucous laughter that hounded her all the way down the street like some pack of snarling wolves. "Hey, pretty thang come back her!" was the slurred call, lost on another booming rumble of thunder.

How foolish of her not to heed Leon's warning of foul weather approaching! Her garden boots were soaked through, splashes of murky water decorating her frame as she picked up her pace hastily, cascading rain drops falling faster and faster. Something about the rain scared her, striking her somewhere deep in her silvery heart, shattering it over and over again. It gave her flowers life, true. But it seemed to be the very essence of something bigger, something more ominous.

A blue, quiet lake flashed across her mind, placid yet calm waters the very opposite of serenity as her eyes bubbled over with not-quite-there memories. Not-quite-real. That horrifying image seemed to always stay with her whenever he was absent, leaving another gaping whole in their (her) lives with his ever going hello's and goodbye's . . .

An arm hooked around her waist and yanked her to the side so quickly that Aerith didn't even have enough time to issue a sound of protest, finding herself bracketed against a masculine chest so abruptly it took her breath away. Dazedly, she blinked to clear her vision, wondering if it had stopped raining when she felt no more raindrops falling on her head. Anger immediately seized her as she valiantly, but vainly tried to push this unwanted presence away, staring up petulantly to give this wise-guy a piece of her mind only for her melodic voice to fall away to silence.

Grave, aquamarine-blue returned her shocked emerald gaze almost amusedly, a slight bruise marring his gruff, handsome features but nothing else amiss nonetheless. He was still the same as the last time she'd seen him, his shock of blonde hair a little longer, strong hands a little coarser but other than that simply just him. Cloud. Cloud Strife's heart thumped wildly under her palm, and she flushed when their close, physical proximity dawned on her, burying her face more into his chest embarrassedly. To avoid his gaze or be closer to him she wasn't really sure.

Aerith breathed fondly, eyelashes fluttering gently.

"Cloud . . . you're here . . ."

He made no reply, simply brushing his hand through her hair gently.

They stood just like that for almost an eternity, she tucked under the flap of his jacket to escape the chill, he holding the umbrella over both their heads, his eyes stoically riveted straight ahead. Their breath misted as they breathed, their gazes watching the rain drenched twilight sharply, no sound betraying their shadowy presence over the soft patter of crystalline droplets falling against the top of their umbrella. The town was quiet as if to acknowledge this solemn reunion respectfully, the raindrops seeming to hush into murmurs of April as Cloud's voice whispered by her ear, sending shivers that had nothing to do with the rain down her spine.

"What were you doing out in the rain, Aerith?"

She bit her lip uncertainly, curling and uncurling her fingers from the edge of his coat as she chanced another jade glance up at him, eyes shining with some unnamed emotion.

"Honestly? I was waiting for you."