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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AKAI~!! - The All-Holy Shrine to Flut! [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
The All-Holy Shrine to Flut!

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AKAI~!! [Jun. 5th, 2005|02:03 am]
The All-Holy Shrine to Flut!

flutteriffic

[kmegumi2]
[mood |sleepysleepy]
[music |Savage Garden - Chica Cherry Cola]

Bwah, here it is, finally, my Zack/Se proposal fic! No content to speak of and shouldn't be a problem to read even if you've never seen anything of Zack/Se before. So yes...now that the b-day girl has seen it, enjoy!


It was hard to say exactly when Zack made the decision to ask his girlfriend to take one more step, but it didn’t take much to say why. Zack had met a lot of women over the years--and that was no overstatement--but none had struck him nearly the way she had. He found that he could even think of a certain brown-haired girl now--still with fond memories but with less sadness than not so long ago.

There was something about Semai, something about the way she made him feel--about the way they made each other feel--that he knew he couldn’t get from anyone else. She was one-of-a-kind, small and pretty, gentle when she wanted to be, but she could also string like a scorpion and was one of a handful of people who could make Midgar’s general truly fear for his life. She was proud, but she was so talented that she had good reason to be. She worked hard, but her work was to help others, and sometimes she seemed to work even harder to make him happy than she did to do anything else. She was someone special, and she had chosen him against unbelievable odds. It wasn’t a choice that he would ever take lightly or neglect.

Thinking about it more, he had to admit that her eighteenth birthday was probably the moment that he had really realized what he wanted to do--not because she had turned eighteen, although that had certainly figured into it, but because of the way the day had gone. He had taken her to the Gold Saucer to celebrate, thinking she would love a place like that--after all, he was sure there was nothing like it on Sadamei. But to his dismay, he had quickly realized that all the machinery was making his girl more uncomfortable than anything. He’d asked if she wanted to leave. And she, with all her pride and all her principles, had said no and asked to ride the gondola that she had seen him looking at, despite not even knowing what it was called. Her motive couldn’t have been more obvious, and he had loved her for it.

When they’d been inside it, Semai had, for once, clung to him out of fear, unwilling to even look out the window until he had reassured her profusely that it was perfectly safe and was really quite a beautiful view. And then she’d finally looked up and had just stared. He’d laughed at her, and she’d gotten embarrassed, and he’d realized something in that moment. He wasn’t sure why, but something about seeing her act this way--his Semai, who was always so calm and in control--had made him hold her tighter against him and want the gondola to stop where it was and stay there forever. Because she wasn’t just the perfect girl that she sometimes tried to act like. She was just as real as any of the rest of them and had just as many flaws coupled with her talents. She was a person, with hopes and fears, dreams and feelings. And she wanted him to be part of her life and was even inviting him to see the side of her that the military specialist tried to keep hidden. Not to mention he would never forget that the same had happened in reverse as well--she had learned more about him in a few days than most people heard in years, and he had never regretted it. How could he ever think of letting a relationship like this go?

But if he was going to do this, he was going to do it right. He wasn’t that young anymore--appearance notwithstanding--and if you didn’t take those nine years of non-existence into account, there was quite a gap between Zack and Semai--enough that it could make any parent uncomfortable. And Semai, if she loved anything, loved her family, and her father lived right next door. Not to mention Zack had a lot of respect for Tellur Iddou, and he didn’t want to create any friction. So after making his decision, Zack’s first course of action was to talk to him.

The look on Fei’s face when Zack came over--while he knew Semai was at work, of course--and asked if his father was home was honestly priceless. Even through his nervousness, Zack couldn’t help cracking up. He patted Fei on the shoulder. “I need to talk to him,” he clarified, although he doubted that explained much. So he added, both for clarity and to be on the safe side, “Don’t mention this to Se, all right?” And winked.

Fei’s eyes lit up with understanding, and he grinned in a way that was a bit too un-Fei-ish for comfort. Zack couldn’t help it as his nervousness returned. “He’s working in the garden,” Fei replied, “Go ahead.” He gestured unnecessarily into the house toward the back, still grinning.

Zack eyed him in a manner that he hoped made it clear he would get him back later, but Fei didn’t even bother to look sheepish. Zack sighed, realizing he would have to take this one defeat, and headed through the Iddou household.

Tellur Iddou was indeed out back, kneeling in the grass and tending to his garden, apparently so absorbed in watering the plants that he didn’t even hear Zack come up behind him. “How are they doing?” Zack piped up for lack of something better to say, gesturing at the flowers before Tellur as the man jumped and turned to him in surprise.

“Oh, Zack!” Tellur declared, laughing sheepishly and putting a gloved hand to the back of his head, heedless of the dirt that covered it, “I didn’t see you there.”

“Just got here,” Zack replied, “And you looked like you were pretty busy.”

“Busy? Ah...just the normal maintenance. The garden’s doing really well this year.”

“Oh? That’s good. It...looks really nice.”

Tellur raised an eyebrow, still looking at Zack, and the other man couldn’t help shifting his weight uncomfortably, stuffing his hands in his pockets. Since when did he get this nervous over a simple question?

Since I met her...

“Did you need something?” Tellur asked, still eyeing him curiously.

Zack hoped he wasn’t reddening. That would be acting way too much like Fei for his comfort. “Yeah, actually. Do you have a minute?”

Tellur raised an eyebrow, setting down the watering can and dusting off his hands. “Sure thing. Take a seat.” He gestured to a stone bench behind Zack that was nestled between two flower beds, and Zack sat down on it, trying to recline and look as casual as possible as he waited for Tellur to come sit beside him. It took him a second to realize he was tapping the bench with one hand, and he quickly put a stop to that.

Tellur was still eyeing him--which was understandable, really. “Is something wrong, Zack?”

“Nah, not wrong.” Zack frowned. He’d never been one to beat around the bush, so... “You have one amazing daughter, Tellur.”

Tellur looked at him for a moment and then smiled a smile that was just a little too close to the un-Fei-ish grin he’d had to put up with before. “She’s a very special girl.”

“One-of-a-kind...” Zack murmured. Inwardly he was balking at himself for being so hesitant in saying what he’d come here for, but outwardly he just couldn’t seem to form the words.

Great, Zackary Faolan, general of Midgar. Number 1 weakness--a pretty girl. With dark hair and golden skin and gorgeous gray eyes...

...erm...got a little side-tracked there.


“Things have been going really great between us,” he spoke up, ignoring the lump in his throat because he was Zack, and he just didn’t get nervous like that.

“I noticed that.” Tellur was still smiling that odd smile for a moment, but then his look softened. “You make her very happy.”

Zack blinked. Well, that was certainly a good sign. “But I’m old enough to be her father,” he commented, watching Tellur carefully.

Tellur blinked back. “You mean you’re having trouble seeing her the way you should?”

Zack just stared for a moment. He had thought his question would have made his intention perfectly clear, but apparently not. He resisted a sudden urge to bury his head in his hands.

It’s like talking to -Fei-! That’s not what I was saying at all!

I guess...I need to be a little more blunt.


“No! She’s wonderful. Incredible. I’m lucky she doesn’t think I’m too old...” This wasn’t like him. Why couldn’t he just say the words?

Tellur frowned, considering. “So what is it?”

Zack shifted, trying to look casual and not as uncomfortable as he felt. And then he took a deep breath and finally went for it. “I want to marry your daughter.”

Tellur’s eyes widened in response, and he just stared for a minute. “You do?” he finally choked out, his expression still one of shock, giving no clues as to how he felt about the question.

“But I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t bother you,” Zack admitted, “I am a lot older than she is.”

“You want to marry her!?” Tellur repeated.

Zack couldn’t help smiling faintly at the reaction. Something in Tellur’s tone told his heart that it didn’t have the bad connotations that his mind feared it did. “Yeah, I do.”

“Have you asked her yet?”

Zack looked at the other man for a moment, blinking in surprise, and then he laughed. “I thought I’d ask you first in case my age was a problem. But I’m going to ask her. As long as it isn’t?” He didn’t know why he bothered checking, but he wanted to make sure.

Tellur waved a hand. “Of course not! Why would it be? You make each other happy. A little bit of age difference isn’t going to come between that!”

Zack grinned. “Cool. Thanks, Tellur.” He moved to stand, but Tellur’s voice stopped him short.

“Hey, hang on, Zack! You haven’t picked out flowers yet.”

“...zuh?”

Tellur stared at him. “You’re going to give her flowers when you ask, aren’t you?”

Zack blinked. “I guess so. I hadn’t thought about it yet.”

Tellur smiled, standing up and heading over to a bed of especially-bright flowers that Zack knew to be the ones he had brought seeds for from Sadamei. “Let me show you something.”

Zack followed, curious now. Not to mention, if someone with Tellur Iddou’s expertise was going to choose flowers for him, he certainly wasn’t going to complain.

Tellur knelt beside the flowers, gesturing at a small patch of bright silver ones that sparkled in the sunlight. “Do you know what these are?” he asked, glancing back at the other man.

“Uh...no. But they’re from Sadamei, right?” Zack ventured.

Tellur nodded. “They’re rare even there. They were...my wife’s favorites.”

“Ohh.” Zack thought he could see where this was going.

“Did you know, I tried to grow a bouquet of them without her knowing so I could give them to her when I proposed? She found out about the flowers ahead of time, but...I don’t think she minded losing that surprise.”

“Heh.” Zack grinned. “I’m sure she didn’t. But...” And he looked at the other man with an expression that bordered on mischievous. “...you gave them to her then? Does Se know that?”

Tellur smiled, looking up at him. “Of course she does. You know how much things like that mean to her.”

“Yeah...” Zack knelt beside him, looking at the blooms. “Hey, do you think you could-”

“Just tell me when you need them.”

Zack grinned. “Thanks.”

And Tellur grinned back. “Just keep making my daughter happy.”

Zack gave a mock salute. “Will do.”

He had to admit that had gone rather well.

***

The ring was the next obstacle, but luckily Zack had an expert assistant to help him in that endeavor. Meiro’s estimate of a ring size of six certainly sounded better than anything he could have come up with, but she went so far as to verify it with the help of a shopping trip and convincing Semai to try on a ring from a display “for fun.”

Now the only problem was actually finding the ring that he’d need a size six of. He dragged Meiro along for that trip, too--or more like she dragged him, despite the fact that she was currently midway through her pregnancy and Zack didn’t rightfully think she should be that mobile. But he had honestly been ready to give up when the first store came up with nothing, and yet, with Meiro’s prodding, they had already searched two more. And were apparently about to head to a third, if Meiro had her way.

“Come on, Zack, you don’t want to be hunting for a ring for the next year,” Meiro stated, eyeing him as she tried to prod him into moving. “She thinks you’re still at work; we have plenty time for another shop.”

“There is another?” Zack asked, stubbornly staying put.

Meiro sighed, taking his arm and half-pulling him down the street. “Midgar’s a big city with a lot of women. And if you can’t find anything here, then we can head to other towns.”

“Mei...” Zack whined, but she gave him a look that cut that protest short.

“You can’t do this without a ring, Zack, and they take time to order. Do you really think putting it off is going to make it any easier?”

Zack gave her a conspiratorial look. “For the next twenty-four hours it will.”

“Zack!”

Zack sighed, defeated by yet another Iddou--which was becoming a bit too frequent of an occurrence lately for his comfort--and picked up his pace. “Let’s just get this over with.”

Meiro eyed him again. “Just don’t forget to be thorough.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Zack waved a hand. “Come on!” And off they went to the fourth jewelry shop of the day.

Zack knew this shop was different than the others they had visited from the moment he and Meiro stepped in to the sound of a bell jingling over the door. The shopkeeper greeted them warmly from behind the counter. She was a short, old woman with a mass of curly white hair on her head, bright makeup, and quite a bit of expensive jewelry accenting her plain clothing. “May I help you two?” she asked, her voice nothing like the stiff, stuck-up tones that they had heard from the owners of the other stores.

“Uh...yeah. We’re looking at engagement rings,” Zack replied.

The woman gave him an odd look, but then she smiled pleasantly, looking strangely cheerful, and gestured to one of the cases before her. “Right here. Did you two have anything particular in mind?”

Zack blinked. “We...two...?” And then he turned to the pregnant Meiro and burst out laughing. The other woman, for her part, looked rather angry in typical Meiro fashion, which just made Zack feel even more like rolling around on the floor. After all this stress, having a sweet old lady assume he had knocked Meiro up and was now going to marry her was just too much for him to handle.

Red-faced, Meiro cut through Zack’s laughter, saying tightly, “Thanks, but he’s just browsing.” And she gave Zack another look. Somehow Zack was starting to pity Fei.

“Oh dear, I’m sorry!” The woman was red as well, her face screaming of embarrassment almost as brightly as Fei’s usually did, “Feel free to take a look, and I’m happy to help with any questions.”

“Come on, Mei.” Zack took her hand, grinning, as he stepped up to the case. Meiro’s expression said that she was about to slap him, but that just made him grin all the wider. “Too bad Fei isn’t here,” he commented.

Meiro eyed him for a moment, and then her anger abruptly faded, and she burst out laughing as well. “Too bad for us. I’m sure he’s happier this way. And anyway, I think he’d be hard-pressed to keep his mouth shut about it.”

Zack winced. “Good point.” He turned to the case, quickly looking over the rings in it and eliminating them just as rapidly. Until about three-quarters of the way through when he stopped abruptly.

The ring caught his eye because it was smaller than most of the others. Semai never wore jewelry, so Zack had been avoiding anything too flashy. This ring, however, had a thin band with only a faint pattern on it. And the jewel itself, well...the shopkeeper, after Zack’s questioning, identified it as a variation on the “princess” cut. But to Zack, the delicate gem with four raised ridges--one on each of the square corners--looked more like a flower than anything else. And it was obviously intended as such, considering the faint leaves visible in the metal of the band. Zack was stunned.

That’s -perfect-! It’s not just some fancy jewel that would show off my paycheck. Giving her a flower ring with those Sadameian flowers her mother loved...isn’t that exactly what Se would want?

“A ring for a love that’s in bloom,” the old woman commented, smiling complacently.

Zack couldn’t help staring at her for a moment, shocked that things could go so well after three failures. “How do I order it?”

***

Zack wasn’t a man to do anything halfway. Just giving her flowers and asking the question didn’t seem like quite enough. So he came up with another idea--one that landed him at the Iddou house again.

Fei wasn’t so surprised when Zack asked to talk to Tellur this time. In fact, he seemed to skip the surprise completely and go straight to the grinning. Zack didn’t think he could really consider this an improvement.

Tellur was out back again, tending to his garden. Zack walked up behind him and cleared his throat. If it had been any other member of the Iddou family, he might have attempted a prank, but somehow that didn’t seem like the best idea in this situation. Especially not when Tellur looked like he was doing delicate work in his garden. Zack didn’t want to consider what the other man’s reaction might be if he messed something like that up. Although, granted, if it was half as amusing as Fei when he was angry...

Ahem. There were more important things to worry about right now.

“Zack! Your flowers are coming along beautifully.” Tellur dusted his hands off, adjusting a goofy-looking wide-brimmed hat. “Come to take a look?”

Zack blinked. He hadn’t even thought about doing that. After all, he knew Tellur wouldn’t let him down. But while he was here, why not? “Sure. But...I came to ask another favor, too.”

“Oh?” Tellur hardly seemed to be listening. “The patch is right here. Take a look; they’re already starting to bloom!”

Zack obliged, following him over to the same patch as before, except now there were about twice times as many flowers, growing quite tall and just beginning to open. They were all reflecting the sun, creating their own little light show of glare. Zack began to grin faintly. They looked just like her eyes...

“So, what else is on your mind?” Tellur piped up, revealing that perhaps he had been paying a little more attention than he had appeared to be.

Zack turned back to him, trying not to look as sheepish as he felt for the question he was about to ask. “Got any good Sadameian dishes you could teach me to cook?”

Tellur blinked for a moment, then smiled. “I know just the one. Come on inside!”

***

When the big night finally arrived, he invited her over for dinner, giving no particular occasion, but she knew him and had simply laughed it off as an attempt to earn more points and let him be, keeping any suspicions she might have had quiet. Zack wasn’t sure whether to be grateful for this or suspicious of what she might know.

Tellur helped him get a hold of the necessary ingredients, but Zack valiantly attempted to cook the meal himself--following Tellur’s directions exactly, of course. Well, almost exactly. The dish that they had decided on was a fig-apple stir fry with chicken--simple enough to make and one that Tellur promised Semai would have fond memories of from home. So while Zack was tempted to “adjust” the sauce and make other modifications, he tried to resist, more concerned with making something special to her than anything else.

A little worried that the dish might not come out quite right, and, of course, being Zack, he went all-out. Tellur helped him pick out some bright, golden Sadameian flowers for the table. The color had been chosen by the older man, and when Zack had tried to ask why, he had just smiled and looked sheepish, assuring him to trust him and that Semai would love them.

Zack wouldn’t let Tellur orchestrate the whole affair, though. He bought a tablecloth and brought out a fancy set of dishes he’d found buried in a cabinet and didn’t think he’d ever used before. And then there were the candles... No, Zack never did anything halfway.

He hadn’t been able to tell her to dress up since she (hopefully) thought she was just coming to his house for dinner, but Semai, of course, was female, and Zack had suspected that a surprise dinner would immediately be interpreted as an opportunity to look her best.

Her attire was a light dress, as all of Semai’s dresses were. She often complained she was cold here in Midgar, but Zack knew her style of clothing would never change. It was one of many things from home that she clung to.

This particular dress was pale green with short sleeves of translucent gauze and a straight neck that did not come down at all. It was simple and rather plain, the main feature being the scattering of silver sparkles barely visible in the fabric, catching the light as she moved. The dress itself also swirled around her legs as she walked, drawing Zack’s attention enough that he was glad she was only going to his house in it. The hem was also marked by a faint print, so small as to be indistinguishable, making it no more than an accent. After all, Semai liked to keep things simple, whether it be clothes, jewelry...anything, really. With one exception--her hair was styled in an elaborate-looking bun, a silver pin imprinted with a flower holding it up. Several strands hung down from the rest, framing her face and that vibrant smile that stood out more for him than anything else.

He had been anticipating a dress from her, and, considering the occasion, Zack had wanted to be prepared. He wore a simple suit--navy blue with a white shirt beneath. He’d even made an attempt to comb his hair, not that it showed, but somehow he had the feeling that Semai would notice. Nothing about his hair seemed to get past that girl.

As she entered the house, seeing his appearance and the dim lighting, Semai’s smile quickly turned to surprise. “Zack...” she breathed, “What is all this?”

“I owed you for the Gondola,” Zack replied, grinning.

Semai blinked for a moment and then smiled warmly. “That was a gift from you, not from me, you know.”

Zack shook his head, taking her hand, “Then this can be a gift from you.”

She laughed, allowing him to lead her into the dining room, where she gasped at the sight of the table. “Zack!” she squeaked, “This is beautiful.” And then her eyes widened. “The flowers...” She stepped up next to the table, leaning forward toward the vase in the center. “Are those...?”

Zack just stood back, watching her and feeling rather pleased with himself. He smiled. “Your gifts are always beautiful, Se.”

Semai reached out, touching one of the blooms gingerly. “Not as beautiful as your eyes...” she murmured. Zack blinked, and she turned to him, smiling widely. “So what’s next?” she asked, “We aren’t to the fireworks yet, are we?”

Ohh, she knew him too well. Zack stepped over to her, pulling out a chair and taking her hand, leading her to sit down. She might have been prideful, but Zack had learned from experience that even his independent little Semai absolutely ate up common courtesy. And he hadn’t gotten his reputation as a ladies’ man for nothing. Not that he was like that anymore, though. It was hard to picture being anything like what he’d once been when this dark-haired girl lived next door...

“Now, we have dinner.” Zack grinned at her, pouring a glass of a fruit punch that Tellur had assured him would be perfect for this. He took the lid off the rice next, dishing some up for her. And then finally, Zack lifted the lid from the main course.

Semai gasped, and as Zack leaned over to serve her meal, she quite abruptly threw her arms around him, holding on tight. “Zack...” she breathed, “That’s Mom’s stir fry! How did you...?”

Zack paused, her plate in one hand, the lid in the other, and no real way to put either down without disturbing the girl attached to him. “I asked your dad for the recipe?” he offered feebly. He was grinning like a fool, but he could have cared less.

Semai laughed, and Zack blinked in surprise as she let go of him and wiped at her eyes. She was crying?

Tellur was right. This sort of thing really means a lot to her, doesn’t it?

Just wait until she sees the other flowers...


Semai put her hands in her lap, smiling brightly despite her glistening eyes and looking very excited. “Well?” she asked, looking meaningfully at the dish.

“Coming right up,” Zack assured her, pulling himself from his surprise and filling her plate. The stir fry looked like it was supposed to, at least as far as he could tell, and when he’d sampled a bite after it had finished cooking, it had tasted fine to him as well--a bit exotic, but that was the point. However, here came the real test. Zack set the plate before her, heading over to take his own seat. He paused for a moment, waiting for her to take a bite before dishing up his own, but she was watching him, and he realized she was waiting for him to be served as well. After all, anyone who liked receiving common courtesy was likely to give it back.

“Are you going to have some, or should I be worried to try it?” she joked.

“Hey!” Zack tried to look offended. “You know I can cook.”

She smiled. “I do. But you don’t usually hesitate to eat.”

Zack pouted. “Just making sure it lives up to your expectations.” He served himself then, but again paused, waiting for her to try it before he did.

She watched him for a moment and laughed faintly, obliging him by taking the first bite. And having the gall to savor it as he watched in anticipation. And then not saying a word but simply looking at him instead.

“Se...how is it?” Zack asked, resisting the urge to whine.

She smiled widely, the wetness in her eyes reflecting the candlelight. “It’s perfect.”

“I knew it.” And she laughed again as they both began to eat.

***

Zack brought Semai into the living room after dinner, and they both sat on the couch, the girl resting her head against his shoulder. They stayed in silence for a while, Zack watching her as she idly stroked his hair. She finally paused, though, turning her head toward him, expression amused. “You combed this, didn’t you?”

Zack blinked and grinned. “How can you tell?”

She grinned back. “Because I know every strand.”

Zack laughed, then reached out, stroking her hair now. “You’re amazing, Se,” he breathed softly.

Semai looked at him thoughtfully for a moment and then smiled. “So are you.”

Zack shook his head. “Do you know how lucky I am? Se, I almost didn’t even meet you, and then you almost didn’t come here, and then...”

She put a finger to his lips, cutting him off and frowning slightly. “I was just as lucky every time. Even more, because I never thought I wanted it.”

Zack just shook his head again, smiling faintly and pulling away from her, standing. “We’re...looking out the gondola window,” he stated, “And the fireworks are just starting. So the view is the best right now.” He reached forward and ruffled her hair slightly. “That means it’s the best part, so...” He took a deep breath, trying not to let the nervousness that had just overtaken him show. “I’ll be right back.” And, without waiting for a response, he left the room, going farther into the house to retrieve the item that this night was really all about.

He paused on his way back into the room, the bouquet of flowers held securely in his arm with a small box nestled between the blooms, hidden from sight as long as they weren’t disturbed. Here it was, the moment he’d been waiting for. He felt a sudden urge to flee the house and go bother Fei, but he tried to crush that. He hadn’t set all this up and come this far for nothing, after all.

And he would never leave her hanging...

As Zack entered the room, Semai gasped, standing at the sight of him, a hand flying to her mouth. “Zack!”

Zack held out the bouquet, feeling a little silly that he wasn’t giving her more, considering the look on her face. But after her reaction to the stir fry, he supposed he shouldn’t be surprised. No, just happy.

Semai took the flowers almost hesitantly, bringing them up to her face and breathing in their aroma. “You’re right,” she stated, eyes wet again, “This is the best part.”

Zack smiled faintly, butterflies in his stomach as he watched the bouquet in her hand, waiting for her to notice the box the way he’d meant her to. He wasn’t quite sure whether she saw it herself as she lowered the flowers or whether she saw his gaze and looked, but in any case, Semai brought the flowers down low, frowning slightly. “Is there something else here?” And then she reached a hand in, retrieving the box.

“Open it,” Zack prodded gently, stepping up next to her, preparing himself. The look in her eyes was one of shock but also excitement--a look like something long anticipated was finally here. It made him think that she already knew the contents of the box, but at the same time, he was afraid to hope that her reaction would be quite so clear-cut and overjoyed.

But then she obeyed, a small gasp escaping her throat as tears began to slide down her cheeks. Zack took the box gently from her hand, turning it around and offering out the contents to her as he got down on one knee. “Semai Iddou...” he asked, “...will you marry me?”

She just stared at him for a moment before she was on her knees right with him, throwing her arms around his neck. “Yes!” she cried, “Yes...”

He blinked for a moment, box and ring still in his hand, before he smiled, putting his arms around her and holding her tight, leaning his head against hers as he realized his own eyes were wet as well. “I love you, Se.”

“I love you!”

They stayed that way for a long moment before he finally let go and she leaned back, holding up a hand and letting him slide the ring onto her finger.

“It’s so beautiful,” she breathed, “It’s like a flower...”

“It’s for a love that’s in bloom,” Zack quoted, smiling gently and keeping her fingers held loosely in his, rubbing them tenderly as she stared at the jewel.

“Zack...” She looked up at him, flowers still held in one hand, and pulled her other hand gently out of his, cupping his chin with it. “You don’t understand how lucky I am.”

“Is this really what you want?” he asked, his voice almost feeble, “You know I work all the time, and...well...” I’m from Midgar, and you’re from Sadamei. Shouldn’t that make you hesitate?

But she put a finger to his lips again. “Yes,” she repeated, “Zack, you cooked my mother’s stir fry recipe. You gave me our favorite flowers--the ones Dad gave to her when he proposed! No one else would do that. No one else...” She smiled, bringing up the hand that now bore a ring, running it gently through his hair. “No one else could be you. I love you just like you are.”

“You deserve it, Se,” he replied, gently rubbing her cheek, “I love you so much.”

And suddenly she dropped the bouquet off to the side, throwing her other arm around him and burying herself against his chest as he wrapped his arms around her. They stayed that way, dinner, the flowers, and even the ring forgotten as they simply took in each other. After all, that was all either of them really needed.

Memories were wonderful, as was courtesy, surprises, and gifts, but what was most important was the person you loved. And as Zack and Semai held each other, kneeling on the carpet in the middle of Zack’s living room, Semai’s hair slowly coming loose even as his suit was getting wrinkled, nothing else mattered. Just feeling each other, they were both the happiest they’d been in forever.

It was a long time before either of them moved, and then it was only to add in a kiss.
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