Disclaimer: Nope, don't own FF7.

Author's Note: Yeah. Spontaneous. Or rather, I finished Crisis Core yesterday. Would you hit me if I said that that was the first FF I've ever finished (not including KH stuff)? –hides- I'm serious here! XD rofl. But I know what happens at the end of most of them so meh. Any who! Enjoy the oneshot!


WAITING


I'm here, I'm here, I'm here.

I'm standing here. On your left, as always.

It's okay.

You know all those times that you cried and wished that I was there? I was, I was. And I'd put my arms around you to the best of my ability, and say it was okay. Because it was. And it still is. It's okay to cry. No need to feel ashamed. You know what? I'd be crying some of those times too, because I can't be there for you anymore. Because you can't feel me anymore. Because you can't hear me anymore. Because I'd say all those pointless nothings and they'd fall on deaf ears. Because I'd say that where as you waited for me, I will now wait for you.

It's not okay.

Alright, I'll admit it – I'm super edgy here. I'm chewing on my black glove with two words going through my head, and one massive fear swimming through me. No pun intended. Swimming. Lifestream. Get it? Hah. Ahem. Yeah I'm pretty shocking with jokes, and you know that from first hand experience… Remember when –

But now's not the time for jokes, even as I look over my right shoulder, seeing through aqua eyes people run towards where you are, desperately looking for you. I can hear running footsteps bounce between the cavernous walls along with your name. And still, those two words are embodying my whole being. I focus, hoping through some ghostly-technique thing that it'll get through to them, and to you – because you need it right now, so badly.

Hurry up hurry up hurry up hurry up hurry up hurryuphurryuphurryuphurryuphurryuphurryuphurryup.

Hey?

Please open your eyes.

Come on come on come on come on come on comeoncomeoncomeoncomeoncomeoncomeoncomeon.

Now.

There's slower footsteps, and they're closer than the other six legs pounding the stone. I'm following the owner of these slower footsteps with my eyes. They're narrowed into slits, and amongst other thoughts, I wonder how he can be alive… After what happened way back when. Way. Back. When. How can it be that he lives and breathes and walks and sneers and fights and taunts; when he too, by all rights, should be an apparition like I'm forced to be…?

Oh God –

Open them.

Come on, open your eyes!

You know, it sucks to be dead. I can't do anything. I can't touch, I can't hold, and I can't speak. And in return, I can't be touched or held, I can't be seen and I can't be heard. How can you break down the barrier between worlds to get one or two simple thoughts or feelings across to those you care about? Especially when it involves a critical situation such as this one? Do you know what its like to be the spectator? To sit by and watch as things unfold and know you can't do anything about it?

Oh man –

Oh man, oh man no –

Nonononononononono –

Open your damn eyes!

I hear the unsheathing of that ridiculously long sword – then again what am I on about – and start to panic. I'm dead for God's sake, and I hear it so clearly… yet you're clearly alive, though mediating or whatever, and you don't hear it! Surely something like that could've knocked you out of that ridiculous trance by now! Even the other guys calling you're your damn name so loudly that the dead can hear it –

Why did you have to go without them? Why!? Why?!

My hand rears away from my mouth, shaking violently, because I'm petrified at what's about to happen… and again, knowing I can't do anything. Both of them clench as I look above you, seeing that streak of long, flowing silver hair. I'm on your left, and I always have been, you know that? Of course you wouldn't, because I'm dead. Okay fine, you have your little Ancient powers, but –

Come on Spiky, come on.

Despite my own knowledge, I still speak, "Hey, this'd be a lovely time to snap out of that trance."

A galloping of footsteps.

Run.

Like a stampede.

Run run.

Coming closer.

Run run run.

And closer.

Run run run.

And closer.

Run, damn you!

"Open your eyes," I growl desperately under my breath, wanting to grab you by the shoulders and shake you, "Please."

It's hopeless…

The merry little band of AVALANCHE fighters arrive at the base of the stairs. All running has ceased. Tifa and Barret – yes I know their names – stand there behind you, Spiky. And behind them are the rest of them. Red XIII, Yuffie, Cid, Vincent… And they stand there. Holding their breath. Biting their bottom lip. Wondering. Waiting.

He steps forward and looks at you. You look so cute when your eyes are closed. Like an innocent little kitten. Hah. How about that. I'm the 'Restless Puppy', and you're the 'Adorable Kitty'. Polar opposites in more ways than one. Our beliefs conflicted, as did our knowledge and our fears… You were afraid of SOLDIER guys, like me. Funnily enough, you weren't afraid of me. …Not to mention how we are now conflicts.

I'm just a guy watching over a girl.

And another guy.

You finally opened your sea blue eyes, and it's with this that I inwardly feel my heart give a little flutter of its own. I smile. My worries are forgotten. Everyone's are, because that's the effect you have on us. For a good long moment, you stare into Spiky's eyes. I wonder, past the blond spikes, do you see me in there? First class SOLDIER (yeah right Cloud, you're just a little Shinra guard), blue eyes, chaotically spiky hair, kick ass smile –

Look at that. You're smiling.

And then that serene environment is shattered, and I swear to God I feel that stupid Masamune impale me just as it impales you. Sephiroth has leapt down from his little hiding place, and stabbed you. And killed you. You. The honest girl. My beautiful little flower. My beautiful little flower… petals now stained with blood. Like despondency forever tainting the shiniest piece of hope.

Cloud catches you as you fall from the weapon. I don't notice the Holy Materia fall from the ribbon in your hair – I can't believe you still wear that, for me – and I don't hear it bounce down the stairs either. Glass upon stone, singing melodically until it ends with a simple splash into the deep, deep water around the area. And its with that single splash do I feel the first tear fall down my cheek.

I'm sorry, I'm sorry.

I couldn't protect you.

We're both thinking that. He and I.

But you still look up at him through cold eyes, that wonderful smile still faintly on your face.

'Its okay', you were saying without speaking, 'I forgive you.'

But it's not okay. I should've been able to do something. Anything.

But… I couldn't.

I can see his teeth pressing closer and closer together, before finally, Cloud lashes out at your killer with Angeal's… mine… his Buster Sword. Tifa and Barret come up to help, and the others follow thereafter, but before a single hit can be land on Sephiroth, he leaves you with yet another part of Jenova to battle against. That stupid thing started it all… It started it all.

Even through all the fighting, all the screaming, the crying, the anger… I still stand. Always on your left. Always on Spiky's right. I stand like a transparent statue, feeling everything they're feeling, and more, because she was mine. I feel Cloud's heart breaking. I feel Tifa's despair rising. I feel Barret's fury strengthen. I feel Red XIII's frustration flourish. I feel Cid's disbelief surge. I feel Yuffie's shock stand tall. I feel Vincent's wrath collect. I feel my own helplessness double, triple even… My beautiful little flower.

They eventually won the battle and defended your honour. Did you know that? They whooped Jenova's ugly ass, but there was no Sephiroth. He had long high-tailed it outta there. And it was the smartest thing, in my opinion, that he's ever done so far. But he can't run forever, and when they catch him… When they catch him, you'll see. You will see. I promise.

I follow them out of the area, going back to the main building of the Ancient City. It looks like a shell. AVALANCHE stands out before it, still choked up in tears and anger, as Spiky wades out into the lake, still holding your body in his strong arms. He's not holding together very well. I know what he's thinking, too, and it hurts me to know just as much as it'd hurt you.

I… failed you. As a bodyguard. As a friend, He thinks, looking at your picture perfect face, his frown set deep in his own.

He looks up at the moon, barely hearing a wolf cry out, And I failed you too, Zack.

Tears rise up in me once again. My throat is tight.

Spiky looks back at you. His sky blue eyes well up, …Good bye.

Good bye.

Good bye.

Good bye…

His arms slip out from underneath you, and he takes a step back, watching as blurs of pink, red, brown and cream sink to the bottom of the lake. Delicately. Slowly. Agonisingly slowly. Its not until you're swallowed by dark blue waters does he turn to the rest of his friends, head hung low, and trudge out, the SOLDIER pants that I found him all those years ago weighing him down, absorbing the liquid. But that's not the only thing weighing him down. I can see it. I'm sure you could too. And Tifa. And the others. The guilt is almost as bad as the water he's leaving.

He slinks by the rest of the group, who follow. Tifa stands by for one moment, staring out into the water. She turns her head away to her right, where the others are leaving, her wine eyes watery. I don't notice it, nor really pay attention to it, but if I weren't transparent… she would've been looking at me. But that's not important, because I'm still looking out over you.

She too finally leaves, leaving me alone to mourn. I walk to the water's edge, staring down, down into the depths that have now swallowed you whole. More tears leak from my aqua eyes. I hold my breath, trying to keep them in, trying not to sob. I fought through four years of experiments for you. I fought through countless Shinra Troops, keeping myself and Cloud alive… for you. Because I wanted to see you one last time, just one last time, and tell you that I love you.

The bottom of the lake glows an eerie green colour. It moves in the lake itself as though it has its own stream, convulsing this way and that. I look away and wrap my arms around myself, reluctantly following Spiky and his friends. My footsteps are silent, as though they aren't there in the first place. The tears are dry on my cheeks, as though they weren't there at all. I'm looking at the ground, as though my head were never raised originally.

I'm just a guy watching over another guy now.

You've left them. You've left him… just like I left you.

They eventually found a spot in silence and set up camp for the night, all around me. Not a word of 'good night' slipped from anyone, because they were still caught up in the emotions of the previous moments, and also pondering what in the world to do now. How could it be the same without you brightening their day? It's just not the same. It's just… not… the same… And I of all people should know such a fact. Years and years without it…

Who will look after the flowers in the church now…?

I'm still looking down as I find a wall to lean against. My arms are folded across my stomach, and back is firmly pressed against it. As I look at my black gloves, I wonder for a moment why I haven't exactly gone through it. But it doesn't matter, I'm just grateful that I haven't fallen through it and made an ass of myself… yet.

I can't even laugh at myself anymore.

I hear footsteps. They're so, so soft, and feather light. Must be a monster trying to sneak up on them all or something. With a sigh, I close my eyes, mentally willing for Cloud to wake up before it eats all of them. I don't really wanna see that. One death is bad enough. I don't need to see my best friend die either, or his friends. Especially by being gobbled up.

The footsteps have ceased. In agony, I open my eyes again, realising that it's failed. But when I open them, I see a pair of brown boots standing in front of me. The tops of them are decorated by the bottom of a flowing, pink dress, which is slightly open at the front. I'm confused, shocked and wondering, all at the same time. It's like all my emotions have been rolled up into one big ball and shoved halfway down my throat, causing me to choke.

Up, I growl at myself, Lift your head up.

Slowly higher.

Delicate hands that I've held.

Slowly higher.

Thin, fragile arms that have held me.

Slowly higher.

The bottom of a red jacket that keeps you warm.

Slowly higher.

The end of brown hair I have curled through my fingers.

Slowly higher.

Your face.

You.

You.

"Hellooo."

You're here.

You.

It takes all of my will power to say six words through a smile, "I've been waiting for you, Aerith."