[ficlet] And All Our Yesterdays Have Lighted Fools

Title: And All Our Yesterdays Have Lighted Fools
Fandom: FF7
'Verse: Harrowverse
Notes: This came from a drabble challenge I did on my livejournal/insanejournal/dreamwidth, and as I wrote it, I realized how important it was to the whole Harrowverse, which is why I'm posting it separately (and slightly expanded and cleaned up, heh). This takes place during the FF7 game timeline, and is pretty much one of those big, pivotal moments.

The original prompt challenge was: "Pick one of my fics or drabbles, or any other project you happen to know I am/was doing. Request a future or past scene set in that fic-verse with any characters you want." This specific request was "Harrow Children, past, Zack, Aerith, Sephiroth."


Aerith picked her way over quietly.

It was night, and everyone was sleeping except for her and Zack.

Zack had taken the second watch while they camped. It was the watch no one wanted - the middle of the night, it started too late for you to really get a good night's sleep, and ended too early for you to just stay up. But what it was was quiet. Even most of the more nocturnal monsters were quiet.

It was terrible for getting rest, but wonderful for thinking.

She sat down next to him, and there was a long silence before she spoke, her eyes down at the ground where her toe was digging a small hole in the dirt. "What he said really got to you, didn't it?"

Zack didn't answer for a long time, just kept staring out at the nothingness that was the dark stillness of 3 AM in the forest. He finally sighed. "He was right," Zack said softly, not looking at her and his face stiff.

"He was messing with your head," Aerith shot back.

"That doesn't mean he wasn't right," Zack said heavily.

"It was not your fault," Aerith said emphatically.

Zack stared at his feet, then, not at her, and Aerith realized horribly that she had been wrong; what Sephiroth had said that had gotten Zack so upset wasn't Sephiroth saying his realizing how inhuman he was had been because of Zack's words.

It had been the other thing Sephiroth said to Zack, the thing she thought so ridiculous she hadn't even entertained it.

"Zack...oh, Zack," she said, and put her head on his shoulder. "That's not the reason you're still trying to help Cloud. Zack. I know you, Zack, that's--"

Her words trailed off, and Zack didn't say anything, just stared at his feet. She finally heard him swallow thickly before he spoke, the words so soft she almost missed them. "Can I...can I just be alone for a while? I need to think," he said, and Aerith sighed.

"Get some sleep," she said. "I'll finish your watch."

Zack looked at her, briefly, before he nodded and stood up. He brushed the dirt off his pants, then shrugged, his eyes still downcast - even in the dark she could tell, with the way his eyes gleamed. "I'm not tired, but...I'm gonna go for a walk," he said, his voice heavy, and he walked off before she could answer.

Sephiroth's words rang in her ears. "And as for why you tote my broken little puppet around...you failed him once, and you're still just trying to make up for it now, aren't you? It's not 'friendship' at all. Just guilt. Over him, and over Angeal. You think that you can actually save someone?"

Sephiroth's words, and Zack's quietly pained, "He was right."

She sat there, silent, lost in her own thoughts, for a long while. "Leave this place," she finally whispered softly to herself. "And find your Promised Land."

In the morning, when Zack returned, Aerith was gone...and Cloud with her.
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For someone who doesn't do human all that well, Sephiroth has a surprisingly good line in psychological manipulation, doesn't he? Find the aching place inside, the one which hasn't healed over, the one which is still tender, and prod. Really, really hard.

Then continue doing it.
I'm not sure it's so much as "prod" as "attack with surgical strike precision." :(
Still prod. Just done with the Masamune. Very prolonged, very sharp, very damaging prod, carried out with much force. Leaves rather nasty scars, particularly if one twists the blade to remove it (which I suspect has to be done, since Masamune is a rather thin blade which would get a certain amount of sealing effect from bloodflow otherwise, and be difficult to remove in a straight stab).

Either way, very nasty.