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Chance Encounter

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Clearly, Angeal was out of place. He didn't try to fit in either, but it wouldn't have mattered even if he did. Sure, he could've changed outfits, and worn something a bit more civilian looking than his SOLDIER uniform, but that wouldn't have disguised his gigantic build or his glowing eyes. Especially his eyes, in a place as dark as the slums.

And besides, changing clothes would've involved going all the way back to the ShinRa Tower, and then what would the point be? The only reason he was out wandering the slums in the first place was because he had finished his mission early, and now he simply wanted to enjoy the free time.

He wasn't normally one to do something like this; Holding off on reporting back was more up Zack's or Genesis's alley than his. He believed firmly in efficiency. Today, though. . . Well, let's just say he was indulging himself. It wasn't often that he got the chance to actually visit the slums, after all.

Definitely didn't hurt that he was being followed.

Angeal had noticed his pursuer a while ago. Needless to say, he was curious. If it was for whatever reason a Turk, then he wouldn't have noticed them at all, and his follower wasn't exactly being subtle. It'd be odd if it were a slum dweller, seeing as they were equal parts fearful and hateful of SOLDIERs. It wasn't something he was proud of, but it was true nonetheless. Still, he can't imagine it being a slummer hoping to catch him alone and teach him a lesson. No one was that stupid.

He turned another corner, carelessly strolling through the slums. People hurried out of his way without him even having to look, some shooting glares his way. His follower continued nonetheless. Really, it's like they weren't even trying to be hidden. Were they cocky, curious, or what?

Angeal stole a glance at the time on his PHS, and decided to nip this in the bud.

He scanned the area, eventually laying eyes on a path that seemed more-or-less devoid of people. Choosing to walk down that way, he resisted the urge to glance behind him. His follower continued. Soon, they came upon what looked like an abandoned playground. Angeal stood there a moment, straining his senses to make sure they really were alone. His pursuer stopped when he did, and didn't seem to make any move to jump at him. Once he was relatively sure it was just the two of them, he called out.

"You can come out now."

A surprisingly young and girlish squeak followed. Unsure footsteps came to stop behind him, and he turned. The girl, his apparent stalker, was young, around Zack's age. She had light brown hair, falling in curls around her face, and tied back into a braid by a pink ribbon. She wore a simple white dress, accented blue, and carried a basket that seemed to be full of. . . flowers?

Her brilliant green eyes were full of uncertainty as she spoke to him. "Um, sorry. . . I didn't mean to freak you out, or anything."

"Don't worry about it," He replied, and shook his head softly. There was no way this girl was a threat. Though, there was something oddly familiar about her. "Now, do you mind telling me why you were following me?"

The girl reddened, probably embarressed at being caught. "Um, well, it's just. . ." She looked away. Angeal waited patiently as she fidgeted, and as she glanced back at him, he got the impression that she was probably scared of him a little.

"It's okay, I'm not going to hurt you. Take your time." He gave her a reassuring smile.

That seemed to be just the push she needed. The girl straightened her shoulders and looked him in the eyes. Taking a deep breath, she asked, "You're Angeal Hewley, aren't you?"

He blinked, nodding. He really shouldn't be surprised she knows who he is, but somehow he was. Though, that doesn't explain what she was doing. Unless she was some sort of fangirl? He repressed a groan.

The girl relaxed at his affirmation, though. " I thought so," She smiled at him, then. "Zack's told me all about you, and when I though I saw you walking down the slums, I just couldn't help myself. Again, sorry." She added the last bit bashfully, but he didn't hear it.

This girl knew Zack? How? And then it dawned on him.

Brown hair, green eyes, pink ribbon, flowers. . . Zack's been talking non-stop about a friend he made down in the slums recently that sold flowers. What was her name again? OH!

"You're Aerith, aren't you?" Angeal blurted out. He watched as surprise filled her face, and slowly get replaced by pleasure. She nodded. Aha! That's why she seemed so familiar!

The girl, Aerith, giggled. "I guess he's been doing his fair share of talking about me, too, then?"

Angeal couldn't resisted a chuckle as well. "You're just the only thing he talks about these days, that's all." She blushed at his joke, and he grinned. "He's just been dying to find an excuse to drag me down here to meet you, you know."

"Oh, I'm sure he'll just be torn apart knowing that we met without him." There was a hint of sarcasm in her voice, and they both shared a laugh (Somewhere, above the Plate, in ShinRa Tower, Zack sneezed.) The moment was interrupted, however, by the ding of Angeal's PHS.

"Ah, that's my cue to leave." He said regretfully. He felt as though he might really come to like this girl. "It was nice meeting you, Aerith." He nodded, and turned to leave, but was stopped by a pair of hands on his arm.

"Wait a sec," Aerith said. He stopped and looked at her curiously as she went through her basket. Suddenly, she reached up on her tip-toes - because he built like a mountain, and simply towered over her - and then leaned back, satisfied. His hand reached up, and he was surprised to find a flower tucked behind his ear. Aerith winked mischeiviously.

"Free of charge, as long as you don't tell Zack where you got it."

Angeal 'ah'd, nodding, and they parted ways. If anyone noticed on his walk back the flower in his hair, no one said anyting.

Except Zack, of course.