Frost and Flowers
The young flower lady certainly had a way of leaving Rufus in a situation of personal conflict. Perhaps it was the twinge of hate and jealously he felt at the ease her smile came. Or the bounce in her step. She braved very naturally, he could tell each movement the woman made was genuine. Never faked. She would make a very poor lier if not for that pretty smile which most men would not question. Those bright eyes, trying to capture him. Trying to insist that Midgar could in fact bloom again. That covering it in flowers, would make it a better place. Or at least hide the wretched stench of misery. He couldn’t believe such things. But he felt there was no harm in letting the Lady before him try. If only the snow wouldn’t blow in soon. The cold, rattling against the metal city. The water, polluted and dripping down to the world below. Flowers couldn’t bloom in these conditions. He could only admire her perseverance under such odds…. This city was a wasteland. Corroding slowly, until the world above would fall.
His thoughts proved his cynicism. He could he easily convince people that everything was about to break. Instilling fear into them. They would go to him for a solution. Control would be simple. Then, he could have whatever he pleased. The consequences were inconsequential. Finally, he would the ruler. He could watch the world from his Ivory tower and take from it as he saw fit. A small laugh. Reflecting his mind’s instability at the thoughts of power. But his tone was the same ice. “I’m not fond of the warmth Aerith. I prefer the winter.” But her tone made him question. “Perhaps… with time I could learn to endure a bit of heat…”
Her shock… the inability to know what to do. She most likely had never been offered even a hundred. Four was pushing it. “No…. I don’t need the entire cart.” I don’t know where I’d put them all. A small smile. Much more genuine than the odd laugh from a moment ago. This was an expression of amusement… not a reflection of an odd and tormented mind. “Aerith. I’m a ShinRa. four hundred gil is very little to me. Think of it as me simply giving you four gil. I know you would settle for less. Treat yourself with it. Buy a new dress or some fertilizer. Whatever pleases you. If you don’t take the money, I’ll toss it in the trash.”
Clearly this wasn’t about paying her properly…. it was simply to silently insult the man at the top floor of the ShinRa building. I gave a slum woman, 400 gil, for a single lily. It was a quiet backhanded slap. One he wished he could physically give. Frustration. At his inability to fight against his father. His eyes reflected the whirling thoughts. While his body was still, well framed, slightly shy in his posture. Guarded. Hidden in black and white attire. He could only slink in shadows… plan.
Maybe he was trying to tell her… but didn’t know how. He couldn’t keep himself in control forever. Eventually this man would break. Maybe the cracks were already showing. Knowing that his drive was taking him further into the ice, mist and snow…. it was all he knew. But still he held that flower softly. Twirling it between bony fingers. Pale hands, slenderly built. Pale eyes gazing on it fondly.
Midgar may have been in dire need of remedy, but her ailment was not so severe that it was completely incurable. What kind of woman would Aerith be, if she simply gave in to the ravages of a wounded city, when it was so easily within her power to tend to it’s aches and pains? Like a mother coddling an injured child, the flower girl remained permanently devoted to the place she called home. Corruption was rife certainly, the rotting streets and crumbling architecture betraying the city for what it was. It was still a place to be redeemed, still a utopia if one took the time to brush away the rust and dust off the ruby amidst a sea of dirt. Winter would come once again, encasing the world in ice and snow, yet she refused to let it die. There would always be hope, just as there would always be life, so long as people chose to seek it out.
Even now, when threatened by the promise of yet more arctic entrapment, a small plant still resided within Rufus. A tiny tendril of happiness almost threatening to creep out, if only someone would nurture it and encourage it to thrive. The world would not crumble around them, so long as they chose to believe in it. Perhaps the silver tongued blonde could spin a tale or two that affirmed the opposite, but the Cetra’s conviction was far too strong to bend beneath his words. One day, he would become the ruler of this empire of dirt, and perhaps foolishly Aerith chose to have faith in him. If he opened his eyes and thawed out his heart, perhaps the oppression and blatant division of the classes would be a thing of the past. He could unite the citizens of all the sectors, rather than choosing to eternally keep them squashed beneath a dictating fist.
Honestly, she was getting ahead of herself. The way her mind was roaming at that moment, anyone would think she was painting the miserable young man as some kind of messiah in waiting. He wasn’t holier than thou, nor was he divine, but he did have principles and a desire to see the world changed, even if he didn’t voice it openly. “I was born in the snow, sir. It’s in my blood, so if I can come from the land of ice and withstand the modest climes of this part of the world, I think you can manage to endure a little warmth.” Speculatively the brunette replied in kind, her smile vaguely ominous despite the truth in her words.
Crinkling her nose at the gentleman’s persistent candour, Aerith raised a hand to her hip as she shifted in earnest discomfort. “It must be nice to have that kind of money as tuppence Mr.Rufus. Down here, you could live quite merrily for a year on such a price.” She’d have to be insane to spend such an obscene amount of money on a dress and fertiliser was entirely out of the question. Everything she grew, she tended to without the aid of outside sources, it was Gaia herself that chose to bless the young woman with such a bountiful collection of blooms each month. “I still can’t take such a tip, sir, so into the trash I’m afraid it must go. Although if you feel compelled to part from your hard earned gil so badly, there’s some children a little further down the market that could do with a little charity from a blonde haired angel.”
Bringing bright emerald up to meet with her patron’s own troubled gaze, soft lips pursed slightly as she tilted her head in quiet thought, a maternal smile forever emblazoned across an undoubtedly young face as she resisted to pry into the intricacies of his ailing mind. “…Mr.Rufus, sir, would you maybe like to stay for some tea?”
The man knew well of the cities decay. He knew the cause of it. The very creators of this masterpiece of architectural prowess, were now stripping it down, corroding it. Reducing it too ash and rubble. Would he see his father’s will through? He hoped he wouldn’t have too. The dreams of the promised land… they seemed naive, but perhaps it was human nature to hope for something better in the future or at least something to build out of the rubble.
Time would tell what sort of man the youth before her was. Already a solemn creature, would he turn further embittered and dwell deeper into the ide. Or have some epiphany. He certainly was no Messiah. But yes, he was a man of defined character. He would change this world. For better or for worse he would hold this planet in his palm some day. It would be up to him whether people would suffer or prevail under his reign? It was up to the white clad man in front of her.
His slid his fingers through Aerith’s curls. A teasing motion. “Perhaps I could learn to endure the warmth. But winter is coming soon. So for now, I don’t need to worry about the heat.” He pulled his fingers away from her hair. Dragging a single strand of curl through his slim fingers. “I don’t give charity. I insist that you take my money darling. You may give it too the brats if you please. But keep 50 gil for yourself. If you keep the whole amount, then I shall find something to do with that cart of full of flowers. Deal hmm?”
He loathed the idea of actually letting the money be lost to a trash can. He had hoped that she would simply agree.
That smirk again. The only expression that hinted he was capable of true happiness. “My only other condition… Never call me an angel. again and I shall accompany you for tea without any complaint.” His eyes were locked with hers as he dropped the final curl. He didn’t know the girl’s eye colour. But they were clear and striking even in his monochromatic world. For a moment he allowed the stare. Then rapping his scarf about him again, he took her arm lightly.
“Lead the way…”
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