Aerith, Dreaming of Forever Part 1

Alone in the Cold

By Aerith's Man

    Aerith Gainsborough, a beautiful, graceful girl of twenty-two years, sat by herself, cold, hungry, and alone, against a tall, strong tree in a clearing somewhere in the Sleeping Forest.  Her every bone seemed to ache with the chill.  However, her expression showed no ire, and in fact was very peaceful.  She hadn't brought many things with her for her trip, just a sleeping bag, some clothes and equipment, and a little food.  She had misjudged the distance between the town of Fossil and the City of the Ancients, and had brought enough food to only last her a few days, and since she had never tried to hunt a wild animal, she couldn't catch anything to eat, either..
    Can't think about....can't think about the hunger.....the chill.......Cloud and the others..... I have a mission.  My own mission, and I can't rest until I fulfill it.  I can feel it in my heart....there's something in the City of the Ancients, something left by my ancestors.....the Cetra.....and it's my job to discover it.  It's fate, it's destiny.  So don't think about the hardships.  You knew it was going to be hard before you set out.
   Aerith was dressed in a long, slender, thin white dress, and had let her long brown ponytail out so that her hair fell freely across her shoulders.  She was wrapped up tightly in a large fur blanket that Cloud Strife, her friend, had bought for her.  Or at least, she thought Cloud was her friend.  He never really acted friendly...  never said much, very withdrawn, too cool....  or maybe he really didn't care.  "I'm just doing my job," he had said.  Is that all it is for him?  Just his 'job'?  Does he care about Tifa, or Barret, or Cid, or....  me?  About the people whose lives he took  defending himself and us?  Or is he just an efficient killing machine, like Shinra wants SOLDIER's  to be?  He always acts like he doesn't care about anything, or anyone, but I can tell...  In the Gold Saucer, when he took me-or rather, I took him—A  slight giggle escaped her lips despite her afflictions, inside and out—when he took me on the ferry ride, his face—the cold facade, the impenetrable wall against emotion— seemed to soften a bit.....almost as if being around a woman, alone, eased him of the pressure to act tough and sarcastic, and showed the real personality inside.  The personality I love about him, not the fake act of coolness.  I think that's what the others love about him, too, the few times he shows it.  He appears to be mean, and cynical beyond his years, but he's not really that way.
    At least, I think he's not....
    She knew she would start daydreaming about Cloud.  She always did when she was alone.  He was so perplexing to her, nothing he did seemed to make sense.  Tifa and Barret and Cid were usually open with her, and would talk to her, although Barret was hard to understand with his Midgar slums accent and Cid spouted foul language like a Marlboro used Bad Breath, but they were still good to talk to, when she needed a friend.  Except Tifa....she was always so perky, and optimistic, and full of hope that it made Aerith jealous to be around her.
    Tifa, no matter what happens....she's always so happy, for no reason at all...she doesn't doubt herself, she's got tons of self-esteem, and she can talk to Cloud whenever she feel likes it....while I'm always wondering, wondering, wondering, who am I, who were my ancestors, why can't I just stand up and tell Cloud how I feel...
    How DO I feel?
    I feel that......Cloud doesn't like me.  That he puts up with me just because I'm friends with the others. Because it's his job.  I just want to have a normal conversation with him, like Tifa. That's all.  Because he's the only one in the group who's really like me.  Introspective, introverted, drawn within ourselves as if we were living our lives alone....
    You think too much, Aerith Gainsborough.
    And it's dangerous to think of yourself in the third person.
    So stop doing it already.
    She saw the long pink ribbon she used to tie her hair lying on the ground where she had left it, and, unable to go to sleep, gently lifted it off the ground and studied it, finding herself comparing the ribbon to herself.  It was fragile, and weak, and the very color of it, that light, pastel-shaded pink, suggested a faintness of heart.  Just as she was.  Fragile, weak, faint-hearted, unable to express her true feelings for anyone, toward anyone, about anyone.  Sighing, she laid it upon her chest and looked up at the stars.
   As her thoughts wandered on, and on, she found herself drifting off....    Aerith slowly lay down next to her failed attempts to start a fire, down on her soft sleeping bag, brushed her hair away from her face, and slowly drifted to sleep. A deep, deep sleep that would bring her many dreams.


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