Summary: Sephiroth and Aerith pretend that they met while Midgar still stood, when he was a powerful General and she was a pretty girl below the plate.
Contents: Roleplay - Power dynamics, exploitation, survival sex.
Notes: Set after Path and its eventual sequel, but before the Marriageverse. In the 'dating' period, essentially. Plenty as yet unexplained about the world and relationships around them, but this is for them alone.
They are playing a game. They are playing pretend. It’s an expensive sort of pretend but Sephiroth’s good for it, flush with his unexpected windfall, from his accidental investments. They are pretending that years have not passed, that things have not changed. That the old city still rises and they are as they were then, with him high above, and her far below.
The game they play is one others lived. He finds her, the little lost waif, and takes a fancy to her face. They’ll pretend it’s her face. The ones who lived this, the ones who didn’t call it a game, they pretended too. So they pretend within pretending that he is honest and that she is free, that he likes her face and is kind, and that she doesn’t feel the pull of hungry desperation.
An invitation is made and accepted and then she’s on his arm, shy and pretty and following his debonair lead. He spoils her, shows her things she can’t have without him, but he is there, so she can have them now, and they pretend that they are pretending she always will. He takes her to places she would never dare go near, places not for the likes of her. He has her dressed by pale, perfect women who coo and titter around her like doves. They dress her and pamper her and parade her out before him and all the mirrors but she barely sees her own reflection. She turns when he bids, eyes for him alone and the doves coo their praises.
Chiffon wisps around bare legs. Silk encases trembling thighs. A sash for her waist. A bow for her hair. Breasts are nestled in fitted satin, offered up to him with ruffled trimming. Then her back and her hips, hidden only by lace. Bit by bit, part by part, her body is bared to him in turn and he can put the pieces together in his mind’s eye and formulate a picture of the whole. And pale women flit about all atwitter, waiting to see which he likes best. It’s lovely, it’s perfect, but no, he says, not good enough, never good enough, and if she thinks it is, it doesn’t matter, because he’s seeking perfection for her and he will find it.
In the end it doesn’t matter, perfect or not, which silk or what chiffon, what lace or what baring neckline. He buys them all without a thought and she is a princess for a day. Only a day, they both pretend.
He buys her something that sparkles and says it matches her eyes. She looks away, daring to hope. Or at least looking like she does. She’s good at pretending. The ones who lived it, sometimes this part was pretending too. He takes her to some small place that is grander than any she would have seen. He feeds her, enjoys her simple joy, and she is content and grateful.
He takes her to a place rife with comfort she isn’t supposed to know ever existed and in that place she has only her pretty face and her shyness when all else is stripped away. The bed is larger and softer than any bed has a right to be and he is above, and she is below, and she is grateful, so grateful, as he fucks her.
She lies alone with her thoughts while he showers. Sweat cools on bared breasts and her heart is thunderous beneath. She feels each beat like a runner’s foot striking slanted earth, seeking solid ground to forestall a fall.
The shower stops and a ray of light shines in. He enters in silence, towelling his hair. The bed dips as he sits, his back to her nakedness. He is still pretending. Pretending that bare skin holds no interest for him once he has already explored its breadths. Pretending that he feels nothing. He was always good at that. When he stretches out on his half of the bed, body bare to night air, he is still pretending. He pretends that he isn’t waiting for some sign from her.
She obeys gravity’s gentle call, body flowing in the path water would take, seeking the lowest point. She rolls to a stop beside him, cheek against his shoulder. For the ones who lived this game, who were living it still, this part could be a pretence too. He would pretend he wanted to keep her, at least for a while. She would pretend with all her heart that it was love.
The game is over, though, for them. They made this game. They made the rules. He recognizes the sign that is her familiar touch. He catches one small hand to his chest and she can feel his own heart’s marathon. His fingers are light on her skin, and the smile light on his lips as he asks if she likes her new clothes.
It’s as much for him as for her that they play this. She wouldn’t let herself be spoiled this way otherwise, would not indulge that need he has. They lie there, side by side, limbs about to intertwine. She could shower, but the game is over, so it does not matter if sleep takes her first. Eyes close, hers and his, but mouths still murmur in the dark.
In the old high citadel, gone all these years, they might have lived the game had they ever met. Might have, but not likely. He had been too busy, and in his habits, too stiff. She had never been so naïve. It’s for the best they play their game now, like this. Among those who lived it then, who even in this new city were living it still, winners were dreadfully few.