Never Loveless

'Pretty…'

'My face?' he said as he glanced at me.

'No silly! Your eyes…their like…l-like…'

'The sky right?' he smiled confidently.

'Huh?'

'The sky!' I looked at him, confused by what he's telling me. He sighed, and then pointed up.

'The sky? Really? If that's how the sky looks like then I won't be afraid to look up anymore!' I giggled.

'Are you for real? You're afraid of the sky?' he asked as if it was the craziest thing that anyone's told him.

I nodded, embarrassed that I was indeed afraid.

'That's the craziest thing that anyone's ever told me.' He said and he shook his head—then he ever so slightly beamed at me.

He's the sole reason why I'm still here.

I moved the dirty plates to the dishwasher then went to Yuffie's bar to see if I can help with anything, then after that I'd go back to the meadow. I know he'll come home…

'Do you need to go with them?' I asked as I stared at my feet, refusing to meet his gaze.

He turned to me and said, 'Do you love me that much that you can't bear a few days without me?' I twisted my fingers and felt my cheeks burn, but I didn't care.

Why does he have to go to the stupid mission? My vision blurred a bit and I grabbed him closer so that my head rests on his chest.

He patted my head then he said, 'Oh come on! Don't get all weepy on me! Besides I'm with Cloud and Vincent so don't worry okay!'

I turned towards Cloud and looked at him expectantly. Cloud smiled and he said, 'Don't worry Aerith. I'll bring the little puppy home,' then gave Zack a pat.I looked at Zack, unsure about everything but I trust him—trust him enough to be sure that he'll be back. Zack will be back.

'It'll just be for a couple of days. We just have to bring a package. Everything will be fine!' I snorted.

'A package that needs all you three? The three greatest fighters I know? Yeah right!' Yuffie added. Tifa and I stared at her in disbelief. Why didn't I get that? Then, out of the blue, someone stepped on her foot.

'Ouch!' she squeaked. Even more worried than before, I looked at my feet again and said with a big sigh, 'Promise me.' He started to argue but said, 'Promise.' I stared at his warm blue eyes and hugged him.

'Stupid package.' I muttered. He chuckled and looked at me as if he was memorizing my face then I motioned him to come closer.

I stroke his hair and kissed him on his forehead. He looked at me in surprise and I told him, 'Hurry back to me okay'.

I ran back to the house as fast as I could so that I won't need to watch him go, but I swear that I heard him whisper, 'Always'.

I walked along the small alley ways of Midgard where you can still see the traces of the past war. I looked up to the sky and thought to myself, 'It's been almost two weeks Zack. When are you coming home', I sighed.

I sat at the house staring at the night sky. I just hope that everything's alright and that they're probably halfway to Nibelheim.

I was sure everything's alright but something keeps on nagging me—it's Cloud and Zack's conversation the night Zack agreed to come with them. I had gone out to see Yuffie that night and came back to make Zack dinner.

As I entered the room I heard someone say, 'It's a war were fighting here Zack!' I stopped dead on my tracks. What's this all about?

'How do you think I feel about leaving Tifa? Do you think I want to runoff to a war?'Cloud said, raising his voice.

'No! Of course not! Zack argued. 'I just don't want to loose anything anymore! The war took everything that I have—Aerith is my life, I can't lose her too, do you think I don't want this war to stop so that she'd be happy?'

Cloud didn't say anything… 'It's just that…I…Okay…I'll help you, Cloud. If it means letting Aerith live a life without a war endangering her, I'll do it. Silence.

Then Zack whispered, 'Even if it kills me…'

I just stood there, shaken by what I just heard. Then all of a sudden, Cloud opened the door and looked away from me. I looked down then I smiled looking up at him and told him that Tifa's looking for him and I bid him goodbye. Zack just sat there as if nothing happened and beamed at me like always—that's when all my worries boiled down to nothingness. I trust him. I trust him with my life.

I went outside so that I can take a lungful of air and saw Yuffie jumping up and down to get my attention. Yuffie waved at me from her shop and ran to meet me outside.

'I have something for you!' she said. 'It's …really very urgent that… Cloud told me that…this was…so you can… it was very sad…' her voice sounded far as if she was in another place—as am I.

I was sitting by the meadow overlooking the roads. The flowers are at their best as spring has just touched Midgard. The wind carried a vague scent of the woods, of dandelions and wild orchids plus a hint of freesia. I lay down on the soft grass and stared at the sky. I miss him having to come with me to find flowers in the forest, where he'll laugh at almost anything that I say.

The corners of my lips pulled up to a smile with the memory. I just hope he comes back soon. Then all of a sudden my phone rang—it was Zack. I answered the phone and a familiar voice said, 'Hey there, flower girl?' He told me that he'll be back in three days time then he asked, 'Um, did you receive my voice message?'

'What voice message?' I asked.

'Well if you didn't then I'll just tell you when I get home. And don't forget to prepare a feast for me when I get home! Cloud's not feeding me good enough!' and a grumble came probably from Cloud. So I bid him goodbye and told him that I would wait in the meadow till the day he gets here.

I saw Yuffie, busy preparing tea, still animatedly talking about something which was important. I just wish that I'm like her—always cheerful and sunny. She set the cup in front of me and told me to drink. While I drank the tea, she started talking about that thing which was for me although Cloud didn't elaborate anymore, but couldn't care less. I'm half-broken without him—that's why I'll be waiting, else, I'll never be whole again.

I was still waiting in the meadow late one afternoon and it's been more than three days. I paced by the meadow and then I saw Cloud's motorcycle which and I came running down to greet them. Everybody was already there, Tifa and Yuffie too, when I reached the road, and then I turned to Cloud who looked worn, then to Vincent who was wounded.

'What happened?' I asked them puzzled by their pleading faces.

'Where's Zack?' I asked again.

Nobody answered me, I began to worry 'Where's Zack!' I asked Vincent but he just turned away from me.

Tears welled up my eyes and my stomach twisted with worry. My knees buckled as I held my face in my hands, Cloud knelt down beside me and hugged my shaking frame against his body.

'I'm sorry… I'm sorry Aerith… I can't bring him back.' he whispered. '

No, it can't be…It's just not possible…' Everybody looked at me with sadness.

'No, your wrong Cloud! Maybe he went to the house to surprise me!' I said as I groped to free myself from him.

'No, Aerith! He's not there! He won't be in the house! I'm sorry…We ran into some soldiers and thought that we were a part of the resistance…We fought them…We were on our way home…and Vincent got injured badly…Zack told us to go and that he'd catch up! I'm sorry Aerith…He told us to leave him behind…I'm sorry…' he pleaded. I can't feel anything… I felt like I'm frozen…

I wiped a tear from my cheek. Yuffie just stared at me, all her cheerfulness gone. I sighed then smiled at her, 'So, what was that you were talking about? About Cloud?' I asked.

She walked to the counter and pulled a small package from under the cabinet where she kept all her priceless things.

She handed the package to me and said, 'Cloud told me to give it to you because it was very important for you to have it. He said that it's Zack's gift…' she trailed. I opened the package and saw Cloud's phone with a little piece of paper folded inside.

I flipped the phone open and read the note, that says,

'The little puppy sent his message for you to my number, it's a voice message and I think I know what it says.'-Cloud

Confused, I browsed through the voice mails and found the message that Cloud was talking about. I clicked open and placed the phone near my ear.

'My dearest Aerith, you will never believe that this is me, Zack, yes Zack, who is saying all this so please take this very seriously.

Aerith the day that I met you was the best day of my life, no, of my existence really.

I've never seen anyone who can make me laugh for hours and who cares for me like you do.

I love you. So now, the little puppy is asking, flower girl, will you marry me and spend the rest of forever with me?'

'Yes.'

'Yes. I will.' I said out loud.

Yuffie hugged me and I cried. I suddenly stood up and stormed out. I heard Cloud who just walked in and Yuffie calling me back but I just ran towards the meadow.

'Liar! You promised! You promised to come back!' I yelled at the top of my lungs.

My feet gave way and I stumbled into the flowery patch, it hurts but I didn't feel anything—my heart has just been torn. I can't breathe and I wanted to die. Just curl up and die.

'Why so angry, flower girl?' a voice said.

In an instant I stopped crying. I whipped around to see who said that, and then I saw him. He looked tired but his eyes are shining, a few scratches on his face and his arm has a bloodied bandage but other than that he was fine. We stood there in the meadow, looking at each other. I took a step forward and tears ran down my cheek.

'Don't tell me you didn't miss me or I'll just go away again.' he started, a smile crawled to his face.

Please, I thought. Please, just please let this be real.

I took another step, 'Please tell me I'm not dreaming. Please tell me you're really here and I'm not just imagining all of this' I begged.

'I really don't think you're that creative', he smiled and I finally ran into him seizing him with my arms.

I looked up at him and said, 'Zack!'

He laughed and said, 'Now you're dreaming of me too!' He laughed so hard then said, 'You love me more than I deserve.'

He pulled my chin up and said his eyes warm and happy, 'I promised didn't I?