She must be dreaming. This is just far too bizarre to be reality. She would laugh at him if she had the energy, or if the effort wouldn't make her cough up her insides. Instead, she holds it in and ends up coughing anyway from the strain.
"Stop dying over there!" he calls from her mother's tiny kitchen. "I'm doing this for your health, not mine."
He sounds so disgruntled and looks so out of place that this time Aerith has to laugh. She simply can't help herself, sick or not.
"I never pegged you for the domestic type, Cloud," she croaks past a weak smile, clearing her throat. "This is new and exciting information to me." He doesn't even need to turn around for her to know that he's rolling his eyes.
There's clanging and a crash and she thinks he may have broken something from all the swearing under his breath, but waking up to extra blankets piled on top of her and him cooking in her mother's kitchen is more than worth the eventual clean-up. Thankfully her mother was out of town or she'd have them both killed by now.
"You act like it's a wonder that I know how to use a stove," he drawls, putting the steaming soup down on the side table and sitting beside her badger den of blankets on the divan. It smells fantastic but the thought of food right now just makes her want to retch. "We camped a lot in SOLDIER, Aerith. Had to cook our own food. How else do you think I've survived this long?"
She thinks on it for a moment and smiles. "Sephiroth doubled as a domestic servant?"
Cloud's eyes widen in shock and then he closes them, shaking his head as he lets out a snort of laughter. "You're terrible."
She laughs with him, a sick coughing laugh that quickly escalates into a fit. He sits her up and gently pats her back. Reaching over, he picks the soup mug off the table and wraps a dishcloth securely around the base before handing it to her. She smiles her thanks and takes a sip.
This is a side of Cloud she's never seen before and it makes her heart swell that he's allowed her in as far as he has, if only inch by inch. It's moments like these that she sees the real Cloud, the insecure yet loving boy who only wants to do good.
"I don't know," she says, coughing again, and Cloud tips the mug to her lips, indicating she should drink more despite her protesting stomach. "I figured you for a typical bachelor living out of bars and take-away menus."
He offers her one of those rare smiles of his and leans over, lightly kissing her forehead. It's an innocent gesture, yet it seems far more intimate than a kiss on the forehead should be.
"Ye of little faith, Aerith," he says, smiling into her hair before pulling back.
She burrows against his side and he puts an arm around her shoulders. Sighing contently as she holds onto her homemade soup, Aerith finds herself wishing that she got sick more often. How fortunate it would be, indeed.
Author's notes: Fluff overload! The timeline for this drabble? Think of it like the Costa del Sol drabble: it can take place before or after their date at the Golden Saucer. After all, Aerith was with the group for a while before she was killed. She was bound to get a cold, of which no potion could cure, and Cloud would have to take care of her. ^_~