The next morning was almost sad. I didn't know what to do, where to go…I was in this weird daze. I woke up to find, much to my surprise I was in my nightgown, although I remember falling asleep in my jeans. My mom told me at breakfast it was her that dressed me after Zack left.

"He carried you home last night. Did something…" a small mixture of worry and embarrassment crossed her face, "…happen?"

"No, I just fell asleep on the train," I mumbled into my cereal.

"I see…he's kind of handsome, don't you think?" She gave me a reassuring smile which made me feel a little bad.

"Yeah," I agreed finally. It was true. He did have a nice face. She looked at me with a raised eyebrow. "He'll come back, you know. Sooner than you'll ever know." She stood, wiping her hands on her apron as if something were on them. A small grin crossed her face as she said something that startled me out of my daze, "my little girl's first love!"

That made my heart sink. It might have been true. I was a little reluctant to admit it but I had fallen for him hard.


Of course, life went on and eventually Zack slipped completely from my memory. This wasn't entirely a bad thing. When you want to crush on someone, you want to; when you are crushing on someone, you don't want to. I hate irony.

Without THEIR leader, THEY didn't call me flexi-girl. Actually, those guys weren't that bad at all; through the fence I had a very nice conversation with Reno about the pros and cons of Ronson and Zippo lighters.

At first, Tifa and Yuffie were eager to hear about my lost "lip-virginity" but…well…after they heard it; they refused to believe he told me to wait.

"No, he couldn't have told her…" Tifa mumbled.

"Far too proud," added Yuffie. "Plus, there's that one girl in his class…"

"She's hot too…" Tifa said grudgingly, as if she really wanted to punch this girl in the face.

"But he chose me!" I tried to cut in. "He said he wanted for me to wait. He said he liked me!"

Yuffie gave Tifa a look before saying something that felt as sharp as a dagger. "Or maybe he just doesn't want you to go anywhere. Has he even called you?"

Tifa nodded in agreement but before I could answer Yuffie's question, Cloud walked over to Tifa with a small smile.

"Hey Ti—"

Tifa kept going on with her conversation as if Cloud wasn't there. You'd think he'd be insulted by this…but well, you haven't met Cloud Strife.

"He did it to me, Aer! Don't trust—"Cloud put his hand over Tifa's mouth with a stern look on his face. I had never seen him so un-passive…

As he took his hand from her face, she gave him a tiny smile. Her whole body leaned into him as if he were her own human magnet. "Right. Let me finish, Cloud." Her voice got softer, almost reassuring. "Zack's unpredictable. I forget that." With that she leaned up on her toes for a kiss and Cloud turned crimson, filling in the small space between them.

Yuffie retched, breaking the romantic moment, turning her back from the couple. "Get. A. Freaking. Room." She stomped off without much other explanation.

"Without Zack, I wouldn't have met Cloud again," she shrugged. "He did what he did with good intentions…but…"

"Watch your back, okay?" Cloud finished.

And on that happy note, they left hand in hand. That kind of stuff doesn't make me feel very fuzzy inside, but it left me wanting to talk to him more.


I had gotten used to taking baths after school because I had found my schedule empty when I had nobody to wait up for. Also, since I had all this time to myself, I was a bit lonely, and kept my phone on me 24-7.

I submerged my head for about a second in the warm water and when I game up, my phone was about in the dead middle of its ringtone.

Skidding across the floor while trying to wrap a towel around myself, I grabbed my phone just before it cut to voicemail.

"Um…Hello?" I was wondering who the heck would call me while I was taking a bath. It didn't occur to me until later that most people don't know when that happens.

"Remember me?" The voice sounded so odd from the other end of the phone I couldn't put my finger on the owner. It was a man, so I figured I should tell him he called the wrong number or something.

Apparently, I took too long and the voice got aggravated. "It's Zack, okay?"

I checked the ID on the cell, and sure enough 'THE IDIOT' read right above the number. It was Zack. I guess everyone does sound a bit different on the phone.

The voice sounded like it was defending itself. "Look, sorry. Couldn't call sooner. Crummy service here. Oh…and we're coming back to Midgar."

"What? You're coming back home?" I didn't know until later that I was shouting into the receiver.

"Um…Yeah!" The other end began to crackle. "Soon—"

"How soon?"

"Real soon. Maybe by—"The phone started cutting out spots of the conversation. "Seph's gonna come ahead…Shit. Babe, I gotta go. I'll see you—"

The connection died.

I slid my way back to the tub and nearly fell in, submerging my head all the way under the water. Coming back home, huh? My mind snapped back to what Yuffie had told Zack weeks ago but I had troubles remembering. Shouldn't I be expecting something?


The next day at gym, I did see Sephiroth, but no Zack. Cloud had told me to meet him at the fountain in Sector 7. Don't bring Tifa, don't bring Yuffie. He said it was really important. So, after school, naturally I walked down to the fountain and sat there waiting for Cloud to show. I took a novel from my bag and began to read it as I waited.

Unfortunately, there were so many distractions. A tall SOLDIER was making too much ruckus pushing Sephiroth around at the entrance. Sephiroth didn't seem at all pleased. In fact, he looked very business-like. At least, his face did. He wore a long, black trench coat with tons of belts instead of the clothes I normally saw him in. His sword, the masamune, was gripped in his left hand like he was about to slaughter the poor…enthusiastic…SOLDIER. Sephiroth looked at me and smiled. It kind of creeped me out so I turned back to my book despite the other SOLDIER's loudness.

I never did get to turn the page, but I didn't dare look up from the book. A loud clatter echoed off the ground and I guessed it was the SOLDIER's helmet. I caught a glimpse of Sephiroth's smirk as Masamune disappeared from sight. Did he…

"What you do that for?!" The other SOLDIER yelped. Turned out, Sephiroth just tripped the guy. "General—!" General Sephiroth kept walking.

I figured I had better pretend I didn't see the SOLDIER fall. In fact, I should ignore the SOLDIER…he seemed a bit…not all there. Of course, this SOLDIER wouldn't let me do that.

"Hey. Did you see that?"

I kept my nose in my book, pretending it was more interesting than he was.

"You. With the book. Hey!"

He gave an aggravated sigh. "Fine then, fine." I listened to the soles of his boots on the cobblestones leaving me. Finally I was able to actually read. I felt sort of bad for the SOLDIER…I mean, maybe I should have looked at the guy.

I heard a sigh right next to me then. He didn't leave…suddenly; I noticed I was being stalked

"AER-ITH!"

And like that these arms—and trust me, if you saw them you would know why I would need emphasis—wrapped around my waist, nearly hoisting me off the fountain. I did the natural thing…screamed and kicked as my novel splashed into the water.

(While I was still kicking and screaming…) He tried to explain himself. "Well, you coulda just said hi or something…honestly…" This guy wasn't even struggling with me, and I was kicking my hardest. I started screaming more girly—you know those high pitched shrieks…

"Okay, well…enough of this," he chuckled. He actually was having fun doing this to me. A gloved hand clapped over my mouth, then he used his own legs to pin my feet.

"Didn't think re-meeting would be exactly like this," he mumbled. I calmed down a little…I was still thrashing around, but I'd stopped shrieking because of embarassment.

…Shouldn't we be in the fountain by now?

He leaned over me just enough I could catch a glimpse of his suspenders. And the dark hair that had gotten tangled into them when he was trying to hold me still.

"You're kidding me…" I groaned. Well…it should've sounded like that; but because his hand was over my mouth, it sounded more like, "Mrf middin' meef!" I'd figured out who my captor was…no, he didn't make a great first impression.

"Excuse me?" He took his hand away, but left his legs where they were. It made me wonder what we looked like to the other people passing to get to the Shin-Ra building.

"Zack!" I growled.

"Heh." He leaned over to get my book out of the fountain. I shoved him and with my fantastic luck, we both went into the water. I didn't realize he still had my legs pinned.

"Don't scare me like that!" I shouted, my entire school uniform drenched.

"I didn't mean to…! But look—see? You figured it out so fast and I knew you would…at least I didn't get too far…!"

I wondered how far he intended to go.

I hit him. He deserved it.

He was yelling over the water that was spraying into the giant pool around us. "Didn't Cloud say I was coming?!"

"No!"

"I'll have to talk to him 'bout that!" He grinned. Zack was more soaked than I was—probably because he fell in head-first. He had changed a lot. His hair had grown past his shoulders again. Which most people would think of as odd for a month gone but well, this was Zack. A lot more had changed in a month other than his hair. I think he had grown taller than Sephiroth…and he looked older.

"H-how old are you, Zack?"

He looked at me as if that was a really stupid question. "…Seventeen as of last Monday. Why?"

Well, it's because you look twenty-five…but I didn't say that.

"Thought you were younger," I lied. "You seem different." My voice came out really quiet. I knew he couldn't have heard it, but he did somehow over the water. He waded out to the edge of the fountain, handed me my book, and offered me a hand.

"I feel kinda different." He shrugged as he tugged me out of the water. "I'll walk you home?" He acted as if it was no big deal but it seemed really important to me.

"Thanks," I muttered.

Suddenly, that familiar spark glinted in his eyes. He took my hand with a grin. "Oh you missed me."

"Nuh-uh," I lied again. I was actually so happy about this meeting but I wasn't going to tell him that.

He rolled his eyes, his grin getting larger. "If only you could have seen yourself." He acted like he was going to drop the subject, but then he added, "You're blushing like crazy."

Now that he mentioned it, my face did feel kinda hot. I managed to whine, "Just take me home!"


Chapter 9 is up. Aren't you guys happy? Personally I'm really glad to have Zack back. He's not done changing either. Keep an eye out! Looking foward to chapter 10. You're going to love it can't tell you any details, though. I own nothing. Not even Zack. (boo)