A/N: A collection of Aerith x –insert random person here- one-shots. Why you ask?

One, because Aerith is my favorite video game character EVER. I could write an essay explaining as to why I adore her character oh so much (and why you should too), but I won't. You should know that by now just from reading all of my Aerith!centric pieces written for the KH fandom.

Second, because Aerith is so darn shippable. I ship pretty much any coupling with the flower girl in it (fanfiction-wise; canon-wise, I'm a Clorith fangirl all the way). Somehow, she just makes every pairing adorable.

Third, because Aerith is love and love makes the world go round, which is essential to changing seasons and life on Earth PERIOD. No one cannot possibly argue with that logic, ne?

. . . and yes, this is an AU.

P.S. I AM taking requests. As long as I am confident in my ability to keep the other character in question IC, then I will write it. If that does not motivate you then I do not know what will.

Disclaimer: I don't own KH -- yet.


Heartprism

» (Roses : I love you)


It was a truly beautiful day.

The sky overhead was a brilliant navy blue, punctuated with fluffy rainbow-highlighted white cumulus clouds. The cherry trees were just starting to bloom, bringing a pink overview to the entire landscape as a quite obviously out-of-place teen wandered along the cobblestone streets of Radiant Garden. Papery petals rained down with every gentle toss of breeze in bright bursts of little blush-pink storms; he sneezed lightly when golden sunlight reflected off of pollen grains dancing in mid-air before his very eyes. Absently, the teenage youth's lowered gaze noted the tiny blooms of flowers that dotted the swaying grasses at his feet, unconsciously putting a name to each and every one: tulips, hydrangea, daffodils, daises, and narcissus. The list went on and on. Yet despite the picture of natural splendor before quiet sienna orbs, his attention was diverted wholly elsewhere as he had withdrawn into the tiniest recess of his mind.

The cheerful and upbeat expression that he usually managed to keep firmly in tact for all to see had been replaced with an uncharacteristic look of uncertainty. Cinnamon brows were drawn together implicitly as chapped lips quirked into the beginnings of a frown whilst he cast dark eyes to and fro, trying and failing miserably to maintain a nonchalant air while he searched for a mere glimpse of the flower girl. She was usually up and about by this hour, a basket filled to the brim with botanical beauties of every variety tucked under her arm, standing out like a bright spot in the midst of a crowded street. Her dark green eyes always shone sweet and bright as she offered a freshly blossomed flower to passerby for a single munny . . .

The mere thought of her was enough to send Pence's heart aflutter and stumble to a stop in his chest.

Unconsciously, he toyed with the stems of the flowers behind his back; the ones he had purchased for her that same morning. He wondered over her reaction to receiving such an unexpected gift. Would she gasp, blush a vivid shade of rose, and thank him breathlessly? Or perhaps she'd giggle and smile whimsically before bestowing a chaste kiss against his cheek?

Pence felt his entire face flush in a furious shade of crimson as he played out every possible scenario giddily in his head.

Since when had he become such a teenage romanticist?

So caught up in his thoughts was he that the teenaged boy failed to notice as the object of his thoughts, a delicate, slim figure of a lone woman stepping out into pale beams of sunlight, began to walk towards him with light steps. Curiosity was bright in those dark green eyes of hers, the brilliant color of which was only brought out more by the petal-pink hue of her demure dress. "Pence!" the flower girl said in greeting, smiling warmly as she came to a stop in front of him and snapped him out of his reverie. "What are you doing running about Radiant Garden so early?"

Despite his best efforts to eclipse his features with pure apathy, Pence's mouth hung open in a small "o" and breathing completely slipped his mind as the words he'd rehearsed in his head over and over in preparation for this occasion were beautifully wiped clean when gleaming emeralds captured glazed coffee-colored irises.

For the longest time, Pence had always thought that he was not anything special, eternally hanging in the background like some silvery cloud overshadowed by the sparkle of three bumblebee stars, the shining trio that was HaynerRoxasOlette. He'd often spend his time worrying that he would be inadequate, that he'd let everyone down when they needed him most, that he would make a fatal mistake and spend the rest of his life wishing everything were different. Sometimes, he'd worry that one day they'd turn to him and see him for the utterly hopeless, useless whelp he really was, and that he would be left alone (friend-less) in the aftermath. After all, he wasn't unique, he wasn't some knight in shining armor or a beautiful prince with perfect hair and perfect teeth and perfect everything to match. He was just Pence; anything and anyone but extraordinary even though he stayed up all night plagued with thoughts of not-real boys and swathing darkness.

Over the years, Pence had come to terms with his mediocre looks, awkward haircut, and crooked smile. He wasn't bitter, he told himself, as he was realistic. After all, who would notice him with people as beautiful as Hayner, Roxas, and Olette hanging around? No one, that was who. But they were his friends, and even though they outshined him to the point that he was almost blinded by their brilliance, their shining irrevent confidence and contagious golden laughter, he had become content with living in their shadows if only to treasure the precious time he had with them that he did not feel he truly deserved, and that had always suited him just fine . . . until now.

That is, until she came along.

It was Aerith . . . sweet, gentle, and beautiful Aerith who had taken the time to actually see him, notice him in such a way that no one of the likes ever had before. She had made him feel like he was something, so extraordinary that he was anything but ordinary. She had single-handedly managed to effortlessly dash away any and every doubt bubbling to the surface of his troubled psyche with her gentile smile and soft voice. He could barely refrain from reaching up to caress her soft cheek whenever the light touched her delicate face in such a way. When she tilted her head at a certain angle and looked down at him with smiling eyes, it was all he could do not to pull her down to him and kiss her breathless because he was just so amazed.

So amazed that someone like her would even give him the time of day.

You see me, he thought. Like no one else has or probably ever will.

The brunette-haired boy gulped nervously like there was cotton on his tongue and his mouth had gone dry; he shifted anxiously on his feet before managing a flimsy smile in her direction, trying to calm his racing heart. So far, it wasn't working.

"Uh, hey, Aerith. I was actually well, you know. . . just walking around and enjoying the sights. I thought I'd do some souvenir shopping and buy some more film for my camera." It was a half truth at the least, and she seemed to sense this as she looked doubtful for a second but chose to drop the subject.

She was too nice for her own good, he decided then.

"It's beautiful out today, isn't it?" Her words were pretty and tied with a string, arriving to the ears in a pretty package with a little cherry bow on top; she looked tranquil, comfortable as she basked in the dappled sunlight falling all around them in a myriad of multi-color. She tucked a strand of caramel hair behind her ear, and smiled.

Not nearly as beautiful as you, he wanted, wished he could gather up the courage to say. Once again, Pence was at a lost for words as he turned his gaze away from her, silent for a moment. As the branches above swayed with every gentle touch of wind, pale pink petals continued their graceful descent until finally reaching the earth. He watched them go, feeling saddened.

He knew he would have to leave Radiant Garden soon.

"Pence?" she prodded gently, as if sensing his distress.

"Yeah," he finally admitted quietly, "I . . . I've never seen anything quite like it before. The sun never rises in Twilight Town."

He could hear the frown in her soft, lilting voice without even looking up at her as he kicked at a tiny pebble distractedly. "Is something the matter?"

He felt his cheeks begin to redden underneath her scrutiny as he shifted his weight from foot to foot uneasily. After a moment, he hurriedly passed the amateur bouquet of crushed roses into her arms, covering up the words that he wasn't willing to say as he felt the blood rush to his face, and she gasped, accepting them with the same giggle and enthusiasm that she had accepted him, the sunlight playing on her flowing hair of amber. She cradled them in her pale arms and fingered the silken petals with as she smiled radiantly at him, beaming in genuine happiness.

"Thank you," she supplied gratefully, her peridot orbs shining. "You really didn't have to --"

"But I wanted to!" Pence exclaimed suddenly. His entire face flushed further in embarrassment but he continued. "I really wanted to . . ." To make you smile, he thought as he took in the amazed expression playing on her features. I wanted you to smile because of something I did.

She seemed to understand, lowering her luminous green gaze in an uncharacteristic bout of shyness as she continued to toy with the papery petals delicately. "Oh, Pence." A faint, rosy hue warmed her vanilla cheeks as she bowed her head. "That's the sweetest thing I think I've ever heard . . ." She trailed off, eyes widening a fraction as a flicker of light shimmered across her orbs at a sudden realization, a sudden burst of clarity, before blinking uncertainly.

Pence blushed an even brighter shade of red if that was even possible. "Well, it's the truth," he mumbled dejectedly, burying his hands in the recesses of his pants. "Listen Aerith, I just wanted to tell you --"

"Roses mean 'I love you'."

She ignored him, whether she meant to or not. She probably didn't. She had an affinity for flowers, which is why they were the perfect gift for her. He glanced up, expecting to see that oh so familiar smile he'd grown accustomed to, butterflies alighting in his vision as he intertwined her fingers with his, a sunny grin threatening to split his face in half because he was just so damn happy as he locked gazes with her.

Then everything came crashing down.

For the longest time, Pence had always thought that he was not anything special, eternally hanging in the background like some silvery cloud overshadowed by the sparkle of three bumblebee stars, the shining trio that was HaynerRoxasOlette. He'd often spend his time worrying that he would be inadequate, that he'd let everyone down when they needed him most, that he would make a fatal mistake and spend the rest of his life wishing everything was different. Sometimes, he'd worry that one day they'd turn to him and see him for the utterly hopeless, useless whelp he really was, and that he would be left alone (friend-less) in the aftermath. After all, he wasn't unique, he wasn't some knight in shining armor or a beautiful prince with perfect hair and perfect teeth and perfect everything to match. He was just Pence; anything and anyone but extraordinary even though he stayed up all night plagued with thoughts of not-real boys and swathing darkness.

That is, until she came along.

But there was something in her expression, in her eyes that gave it away. He froze on the spot, words utterly and entirely failing him as he stammered out in a gibberish rush uselessly, a bit like word-vomit. He took a step back away from her, feeling his heart crumble, break into tiny, worthless little heartshards that were stabbing at his lungs and making it difficult to breathe as his thoughts came to a singular, melancholy standstill, and he knew, he knew then and there even before she withdrew her hand from his and parted her soft lips:

She loved the roses, but she didn't love him.