Today, Cloud was particularly bored.
Usually, he'd spend his days reflecting, and just kind of wandering. Nothing in Radiant Garden particularly interested him. It was peaceful enough, and quite pretty, but very, very boring. He almost wanted the Heartless to come back, just so he'd have something to do, something to look forward to. How selfish, he thought. Either way, he would've liked to see that Sora kid again.
But as long as he was here, he figured he might as well make the best of what he had. There was Aerith, and now Zack was here. What more could he ask for? He couldn't bring himself to think of how a puppy like Zack would find ways to wreak havoc on the sleepy town, though. Fun, fun.
Wandering mindlessly, Cloud bumped into his favorite flower girl.
"Cloud! I've been looking for you!"
"Well..." She smiled. "I figured you had nothing going on tonight...I, uhm, I set you up on a date. A blind date."
"W-what? With who?"
"Silly, I can't tell you. It's a blind date."
"Aerith...I don't need-"
"No, trust me, this'll be fun!"
Poor Cloud hadn't even known of any diner in Radiant Garden, but that was exactly the place he was expected to meet Aerith and his...date. He was terrified to even think of who Aerith could've possibly chosen for him.
She's not asking you to get married, Cloud thought, trying to be optimistic. Just go with it.
But, c'mon, this is Aerith we're talking about here. After all, someone has to assist Cloud with his social life, right? He sure wouldn't do it.
He was 15 minutes late, but nonetheless present.
"Lemme show you to your table...oh, wait-"
Aerith tied a blindfold over the blonde's eyes.
Aerith guided Cloud to his table, and somewhat impatient date. "You can take the blindfold off now."
Cloud wished he hadn't.
"Z-Zack? ZACK? Of all people!"
"Dammit, Zack, I'm not gay!"
"I never said you were. I just thoght this'd be fun for you. I mean, you've gotta loosen up."
"Is this seriously a date?"
"Do you want it to be?"
Cloud almost asked the same question, but it wouldn't help control his temper. Zack desperately waited for his 'date' to answer, dying to break the awkward silence that had fallen between them.
"Sure. Whatever. But you owe me. Big time."
"Yay! Oh, do you have any money? I'm broke, man."
And he thought being set up to date his best friend was disturbing. Now he had to pay for it.
"Uhmm...Nothing fancy, okay? I'm not exactly rich."
"Sure...uh, what're you getting?"
"Oh...a salad, I guess."
"Cloud! You can't order a salad on a first date!"
"Why not? I'm paying. And please, don't use that word."
Everyone stared at them.
Cloud, unable to bear the current situation after a mere five minutes, was lost in a daydream when the waitress came by to take their order.
"Sir? Sir, what would you like?"
Cloud thought he heard something...
"What? Oh um...A salad, please?"
"We have many salads."
The waitress walked away, slightly disturbed. Zack couldn't say anything against Cloud, as he daydreamed like that all the time. But now, several people were keeping a close watch on them, carelessly staring as if they were about to witness a freak show. Maybe, with Cloud being so annoyed, that wasn't so far from the truth.
The wait was spent in awkward silence. Again, Zack had an urge to break it, but tried his best to keep quiet. By the time their food arrived, Cloud was lost in thought again.
"Spike, your food."
Cloud, out of nowhere, began to ponder the nickname Zack had given to him. You're one to talk, he thought. Your hair's spikier than mine!
Apparently, in the middle of Cloud's daydream, Zack had taken the opportunity to order some gourmet dish that the blonde would never be able to pay for.
"Zack, what is that?"
"Wutainese, duh! It's my favorite."
Cloud sighed. "Zack, it's like, the most expensive thing on the menu!"
"Do they accept Gil here?"
"Oops. Well...you want some?"
Cloud ignored his 'date' and turned his attention to his food. Apparently, he should've elaborated on the type of salad: it was a fruit salad. At least it was cheap. Couldn't anything go right tonight?
"I really owe you, don't I?" Zack asked innocently, preparing his apologetic puppy-dog eyes.
"More than you could ever make up in one lifetime, Zack."
"I was afraid of that."
"So, what're we gonna do?"
"We could always do dishes."
"I guess we don't have a choice."
So, a while later (Cloud just drowned out the conversation with Zack and the staff. He was annoyed and very, very tired) the two found themselves in the back with a stack of dishes up to the ceiling, and with the expectation to wash them all before closing hour.
"See, Cloud? Isn't this romantic? Great date, huh?"
"Zack. Don't say a word."
The time passed like the rest of the night: in awkward silence.
As if she'd been waiting for them, Aerith was standing in the doorway. It was late. "So how'd it go?"
Cloud met her eyes. He was tired, annoyed, and scarred for life. He had never wanted to know what people in restaurants could possibly do with their food that would make their dishes so dirty.
"Well, I dunno about Cloudy here, but I really enjoyed myself tonight. Though I could've gone without the dishes..."
"Why didn't you just borrow some cash off of me?"
Cloud stomped. Of course! Why hadn't they thought of that?
"And Cloud, y'know...no first date is ever complete without-"
"Zack, nonono, wait! Wait I'm not-"
Too late. Cloud's protests were silenced as Zack fearlessly kissed the blonde, which really wouldn't have been so bad if Aerith weren't standing right there. At least it couldn't get any weirder, right?
Cloud, stuck in a daze, realized that Aerith had her cell phone in hand. Dammit, that phone has a camera!
"Ohh, I'm sure Tifa would love this-"
"Don't worry, you know I wouldn't do that to you. But I want you to know that this was all Zack's idea."
"Oh, puh-leez Aerith, I just volunteered."
"Guys." Cloud was especially enraged now. "When I wake up tomorrow morning none of us will know anything about tonight, is that clear? Not a word. None of this ever happened. Ever."
"Except maybe- "
"Not. A. Word."
Of course, when has Zack ever really been able to keep such a good secret, especially when it comes to love? It wasn't a matter of life and death (he hoped) so what was the harm?
Let's just say that the picture on Aerith's phone was never deleted, and that was really the only proof, and some former members of the HBRC got really curious...
...And someone had to buy Aerith a new phone, as it ended up in a million pieces by the time it got back to poor Cloud.