[fic] Hide And Seek

Title: Hide And Seek
Author: joudama
Fandom: FF7
Rating: worksafe
Warnings: none!
Word count: 1,581
Summary: Aerith and Tseng play hide and seek. Only Tseng doesn't know the rules.
A/N: Written because I needed a grip on Aerith-voice. :D Also, references to the Wutai that I've been slowly mapping out in other fic. For flavor!
Also, I have no idea why Tseng comes out first-person. This is the second time I've written a fic from Tseng's POV, and both times, they've made themselves first-person.
Prompt: Aerith post CC, seeing how many times she can avoid Tseng.

--

As far as ShinRa knows, the first time that I officially saw Aerith Gainsborough was when she was just shy of her tenth birthday and I, freshly hired and trained, was assigned to watch her and watch over her, and be prepared to bring her in at a moment's call.

Unofficially, I met her when she was seven and I was a thirteen-year-old with an identity crisis and rapidly on the way to delinquency.

--

"Tag, you're It!"

The hand that came out of nowhere and smacked Tseng's arm surprised him so much he jumped a good foot in the air, almost bolting out of the swing he'd been sitting on. He whirled around, ready for a fight, and instead saw a little girl covering her mouth as she laughed.


"What do you want, you stupid little bitch?" Tseng hissed angrily in Taishang Wutai. He didn't feel like dealing with anyone, certainly not some stupid little ghost, not after how everything had been going that day. Speaking in Taishangese usually made the Midgar ghosts go away, and the Wutai tended to avoid him--when they weren't throwing things at him--because of the tattoo.

She regarded him solemnly before her lips twitched up in a grin. "Your face is all scrunchy."

He just stared at her, scowling.

"And doesn't that hurt when your face is scrunchy like that? 'Specially when you're bleeding," she said softly, looking right at the blood at the corner of his mouth. His nose was still swollen, and he knew dried blood ringed one of his nostrils. The fact that he looked like he'd been in a fight normally would have kept people away, so he had no idea why this stupid girl was bothering him.

"And you're It. That
means you're supposed to find me now."

He gave the girl a glare, one that was just his eyes but made even grown-ups back away, muttering.

"Don't you know how to play?" she said, completely ignoring the glare and settling into the swing next to his. She didn't really start swinging, just moved enough for the swing to not be still.

"I don't wanna play with little girls," Tseng said, smirking at her with attitude only a thirteen-year-old boy could have.

She rolled her eyes. "Just because you don't know how to play hide and seek, you don't have to make scrunchy-face. Doesn't scrunchy face hurt?" she said again, and went still, staring straight at him as his scowl deepened. "'Cause you are still bleeding."

Her eyes suddenly turned an even deeper green, and Tseng stared at her, the scowl falling away.

"It's not your fault," she said softly. She raised her hand up and put it against his cheek. He started to flinch back away from her hand but
couldn't. Her eyes were greener than anything he'd ever seen, greener even than the grass he saw on the vidscreens and in movies, and seemed to look completely through him and into him, like she knew him better than anyone in the entire world. "Just be you, and it'll be OK."

She knew. Somehow, the little girl
knew and--

Her hand was soft and warm, and suddenly, his face didn't hurt any more. He just stared at her, his mouth hanging open slightly in his shock, not sure if he wanted to hit her or hug her and cry, but knowing that she wasn't like anyone else, maybe wasn't even hu--

"Aerith!"

A woman was running over to them, looking panicked. She all but pulled Aerith off the swing, looking around frantically to see if anyone had seen what had just happened.

"Who are you? What are you doing to my daughter?" she said, settling on Tseng and clutching her daughter's hand tightly.

Tseng felt his face go blank. "I didn't do anything. She came bothering me."

The woman stared at him sharply, narrowing her eyes, and Tseng stared back, his face impassive.

The girl rolled at her eyes at the two of them. "Mommy, I just wanted to play Hide and Seek. But he doesn't know the
rules So we didn't."

"Aerith, you can't talk to strangers, you know that," her mother said softly, still giving Tseng looks. He just raised an eyebrow at her, daring her to say or do something. "Aerith, I'm done shopping, so let's go home," she said, and tugged on the girl's hand. She followed happily, but right before they left the playground, she stopped and turned to look at Tseng again.

"It'll be OK," she said, and smiled, her eyes deeply green for a split second before fading back.

"Whatever," he said, and watched them leave, not letting his face show just how shaken he really was.


--

I was assigned to watch her three years later, and I never let on that I had ever met her before. It would have made no difference, but I preferred to keep it to myself. ShinRa had given me a place to belong and I had done my best to forget everything I could of my life before. And while the memories of the strange little girl who had healed me were not bad memories, they were something...separate, private in a way that had nothing to do with ShinRa.

She knew I watched her, of course, and I'm sure she even knew why, given the suit. And I never tried to hide that I was there--I made sure no one else saw me, but I already knew it was useless to try and hide from Aerith Gainsborough, and so I made no attempts to.

I knew my presence made Elmyra Gainsborough nervous--she started sheltering Aerith more, trying to keep her inside when she could, and doing her best to limit the places that Aerith could go. Aerith was never allowed out of the slums; never ventured above the Plate or even towards ShinRa Tower.

I knew this was my fault, but there was nothing that could be done. All I could do was the not hide from them. They had to know that as long as she could see me, it meant that ShinRa was not serious about taking her. Aerith had to know that it was when she didn't know that I was there that she would have to worry. She certainly knew it after Zack Fair's disappearance, when for the first time, she really saw what kind of danger ShinRa might hold for her. She was told Zack Fair had died, but anyone who had watched her as long as I had, who knew her, knew that she didn't believe it for a moment.

Things...changed after Zack Fair died. I have no idea how it was that Aerith knew but...she did. Somehow, she did. People from the slums are not unfamiliar with death, but I think it was the first time that it hit so close to her--she had only been a baby when her parents died, and Elmyra had done almost too good of a job shielding Aerith from everything.

After Zack died, it stopped being that I was watching her and changed into her letting herself be watched. It was as if she had decided enough was enough, and now this would be done on her terms.

Which was how I found myself in the situation I was in now: having no idea where under the Heavens Aerith Gainsborough was.

All day it had been like this, like some insane game of Hide And Seek, where I would catch a glimpse of her and then she was gone, vanished like some will-o'-wisp, and I'd see her again, slipping out of alleys I had passed, out of doorways I was sure I had looked into.

And now she was just gone, nowhere to be seen at all.

I shouldn't have been surprised--or as surprised--when she found me by laying a hand on my shoulder from behind. I whirled, instantly on alert, and found myself face to face with someone who should have known how dangerous it was to surprise a Turk from behind.

"Tag, you're it," Aerith said, a smile on her face and her hands were on her hips in a way she wouldn't have done only a few months ago.

She wouldn't have done this before Lt. Fair's death.

"Do you have any idea how dangerous that is, Miss Gainsborough?" I said, narrowing my eyes.

"To surprise a Turk? Or to play with one?" she said, never losing that teasing smile. But something darkened her eyes, made it clear that she was more than she looked.

"Both," I finally said, not letting my expression change. "Although I wonder sometimes who exactly is in danger."

"I'm harmless," she said, her eyes glittering with a secret amusement.

"Hardly," I said, and felt my lips tug up, just slightly. "If you were harmless, I would not be 'It'."

She laughed at that. "Well, at least you know the rules this time," she said, and her eyes that very same vivid green as they had been when she was a child. They were that sharp green all the time now. She had stopped hiding whatever she was and let her power flow freely, almost like a challenge to ShinRa.

Maybe it was.

And maybe I still didn't know the rules.

Not the rules she played by, at any rate.

She vanished into the crowd in the blink of an eye, and the 'game' began again.
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Comments

Ha! Poor Tseng, completely pwned.
heh, pretty much.
Tseng never had a chance really did he? XD
Nope, he never, ever did. XD
*snicker* Poor Tseng. He doesn't have a clue what he's dealing with.
He really, really doesn't--never did, never will. XD