H o m e

cloud x aerith.

Happy Birthday, Alyssa!
You're such an amazing authoress
and an even more amazing friend —

I love you!
Love, your Kairi.

It is dawn. The sky is an array of sterling amethyst and powder blue; that magical time when the cumulous clouds flush hibiscus pink, tinged with a fluorescent orange, then bloom slowly into a soft, hazy cobalt that overcomes the wet glitter of the formerly sizzling stars and banishes a romantic moon. Most people enjoy the beauty of the sunset on regular basis, but to Aerith, it is sunrise that is truly breathtaking. She stretches and sits up, still facing the window; emerald hues fixated on the arising sun as it reaches the horizon line and graces the land with its undeniably supreme warmth. She thinks of the percentage of townsfolk in Radiant Garden who are sleeping through this incredible sight. Except maybe Leon. He was always an early riser, and didn't believe in sleeping more than he had to.

She smiles at that thought, but reality trickles in too soon when she hears a loud rap at the front door.

Her radiant smile soon dissipates, as well as the light in her chartreuse orbs. A frown finds its way onto her china doll face, devastating her joyful quality and dubious confusion quickly taking its place. She throws back the thin bed sheet and walks to the door. The knob turns silently and Aerith opens the door a tiny crack. She can hear the faint snoring of a certain slumbering ninja, but she sometimes gets up early and is very grumpy. Aerith lets her door slide open — consciously grateful, for the first time in her life, for well-oiled hinges — and walks silently down the hall toward the kitchen.

The room is adorned with shimmering opalescent sunlight that pours in through a window. Her naked feet soon leave the carpet and meet the cold linoleum. She takes in Leon's silent form sitting at the small table with a mug filled to the brim with steaming coffee in his grip. His eyes are narrowed sapphire mirrors, with lighter blue accents.

"Leon," she greets, oh so sweetly, and he grunts. He is still fixing her with that violently stirring stare before tautly lowering his head downward to stare at his untouched beverage; hiding his dark rain-cloud orbs behind his brown fringe and letting his mouth tense into a thin line.

"I could have sworn I heard someone — "

Another knock on the door resounds, cutting her off.

"You don't have to answer it," Leon mumbles suddenly; he limply raises a clenched ebony gloved hand and jerks in the direction of the wooden door at the end of the hall, painted a brilliant vermillion, patterned with latticed streaks of gold. He seems to be trying to communicate something to her . . . something slight, but something momentous. She blinks and her eyes widen in uncertainty, puzzled about the hidden meaning of his words.

"Of course I do," she muses softly, and she brushes past him in a whirl of light and airy perfume and rose-folds.

And so she misses how his throat constricts as he inhales raggedly; the way his grasp tightens dangerously on the handle of the ceramic cup. The way he grits his pearly whites in unbridled consternation.

No, she doesn't notice any of these things, because she is crossing the small space from the kitchen to the front door; delicate mind spiraling and twirling with words and exclamations and questions because who could be knocking at the door at this time in the morning? Her hands are unsteady and fumbling with the lock as the door is finally tugged open . . .

And she is left staring into the face of the person she loves the most.

"Cloud." Her shoulders go limp. Her elegant spiraled chocolate bangs fall across her pale heart-shaped face. Her eyelids are rimmed with twinkling tears. Her breathing quickens. "What are you doing here?"

Yes, it's unmistakably Cloud Strife, with his jagged blond hair and pretty aquamarine eyes; standing motionless on her doorstep.

And his voice alone is still enough to make her heart rev, skipping a beat or even two.

"Aerith," he says her name with a slight stutter. "I know . . ."

"It's early," she gently puts out in the open, tilting her head up at him inquiringly.

They are standing less than a meter away, simply gazing in deep immersion at the other. The flower girl's light green diamond irises are wide with amazement and naiveté of what is to come next, whereas oceanic orbs are looking identical to a pair of poorly polished azure sapphires because of his sickening throbs. Burnished gold spikes and dark sienna locks begin to pendulant in the upcoming breeze — placid winds that send multi-colored flora swaying and leaves rustling and kiss their cheeks sweetly — springs always provided a warm and relaxing atmosphere in the small village on the outskirts of the ruined castle.

"But," Cloud mumbles lamely, glancing down at her with those indecipherable aqua eyes. She wants more, and he must know she wants more, because he continues. "Here . . . for you."

His hands that had been hiding behind his back come into view. One of them he outstretches, and he holds out something in shiny yellow-and-white paper. The gesture would look silly on anyone and does, in fact, look pretty silly on him, but she accepts it half in awe, if not in wonder. For it's a bouquet, a bouquet of red, pink and sublime roses bigger than cupcakes, that are silky velvet to the touch when they come in contact with the warm cradle of her fragile flower-like arms, and sends her vanilla-hued cheeks tinting a fierce shade of cherry.

The overwhelming combination of shock, relief, amazement and sheer elation causes her pulse to quicken as green semi-precious stone eyes slowly flutter with bewilderment. She lovingly fingers the petals, gently lifting the little plants with their long trailing emerald stems with her slender and soft fingers, mindful of the thorns. She takes a deep breath, inhaling the captivating scent of rose petals and dewdrops tainting the blithe, dawn air.

For the longest time, he has always been searching for the right terms and sentiments and horribly failing. But this time, he has found them, covering up the words he is unable to articulate, and she understands, oh she understands. For they are after all her area of expertise; and it makes perfect sense that he is giving her ripe blossoms encased in pastel wrapping paper and dressed up with a lacy ribbon.

"Do you mean it?" Aerith breathes out the achingly familiar words, bringing a hand up to her now-quivering rosy lips; great globes of lime-tinted emerald eyes shimmering due to a hopeful gleam contained within them.

"Yeah," he says slowly, his voice faint, hoarse. He shuffles his feet uncertainly, gesturing weakly to the colorful bouquet of roses in her arms that she is hugging against her chest so amorously. "I do."

"Are you sure?" Releasing a chiming giggle, her face warms with a faint, scarlet tinge.

Cloud looks at her, and nods solemnly.

"But . . . your light — "

"I found it," he promises, moving closing to her. Those dark eyes are huge and watery with desperation for her to believe in him just this one last time. He licks his chapped lips nervously, thin mouth usually twisted into a cold, emotionless scowl blooming into an awkward, yet genuine smile, for her.

"Oh," Aerith simply whispers in realization, closing her eyes in sheer bliss, a small ghost of a smile shimmering on her pink lips. A crystalline tear careens down her cheek, and her voice quivers. "Oh."

And she tosses the bouquet to the ground haphazardly; the glossy crimson and pink petals splash in a symphony of passion, just as their bodies collide together like flowers, warmed by the scattered beams of ochre, honey and tangerine spilling over Radiant Garden.

" Here . . . for you."
the flowers say: I'm home.



SecretBox's Note:
I know. It's. Like. About time I wrote more Cloud/Aerith, ne? But I really hope anyone and everyone who read enjoyed this; I don't know, I thought it was sweet.

Also, in case it wasn't obvious, this story takes place sometime after that suh-sweet conversation between Cloud and Aerith in KH2. & Cloud defeated the darkness in his heart and returned just like he said he would. Ya'll can interpret his light as whatever/whoever you want. ;D

Please tell me what you think?

Disclaimer: I don't own anything — not even the coffee mug.