"Does that really have to be pink?"
Sephiroth stood in the doorway of the bedroom, watching Aeris with wary eyes as she spread a pale pink quilt dotted with a pattern of deeper colored roses across the double bed in the center of the room, which she had already fitted with matching sheets.
"Why, what's wrong with it?" she asked over her shoulder, still wearing her usual sunny smile. "I think it's so pretty!"
"But..." he attempted to protest as she continued to neatly smooth it out, watching in mild horror with his arms folded stiffly across his chest. "I have to sleep here, too," he finally managed, annoyed by how close his statement sounded to whining.
Aeris noted his tone as well, finally pausing to turn and look at him. She clearly did not understand what was wrong, but was instantly concerned by his change in mood.
"What do you mean?" she asked, frowning in confusion. "Don't you like it? Or... do you just not want to...?" She trailed off nervously, as if afraid he was about to tell her moving in together had been a mistake after all.
"It is... pink," he stated after a pause, not wanting to hurt her feelings. They had been living there together for only two days, and he still felt rather awkward with the arrangement. At every turn, he expected what they had to either vanish before his eyes or be forcibly taken from him, leaving him alone as he had always been before. The uncertainty left him tense despite the fact that he was happier than he had ever been in his life. He knew that she could sense his discomfort, and the worry it had already caused her left him feeling guilty enough. All he wanted was for her to be happy, preferably with him.
"Yeah… it is," Aeris said in reply after briefly studying the sheet, still frowning slightly and looking at him in question. "Don't you like pink, Seph?"
"Er..." He was afraid to answer, noting that she was wearing a pink shirt and had a matching ribbon entwined in her long braid, also recalling that most of her wardrobe was of the same color. "On you," he finally settled for, figuring it was a safe, even complimentary reply.
Aeris smiled, her cheeks flushing a bit red. She was still getting used to hearing him speak about her that way. "Aww, thanks, Seph. But... not on the bed?" she asked a moment later, turning to give it another appraising look, one hand held to her chin in thought.
"Well... Aeris..." he stumbled, trying to explain himself while looking at the quilt with poorly veiled disgust. "I am a man," he stated simply, assuming she would understand instantly.
Aeris laughed, however, a soft, beautiful sound that reminded him of a clear lake or a cloudless blue sky. "I think I figured that one out by now!" she exclaimed between giggles, grinning at him widely.
Sephiroth frowned despite her obvious amusement, embarrassed and quickly looking down at his boots. "That is not what I meant. But..."
"You feel silly sleeping in a bed with pink flowery sheets on it?" Aeris asked with another giggle, finally catching on to what he had been trying to explain to her. "What's the matter, Seph, a big tough soldier like you is afraid someone might find out he sleeps in a pink bed?"
"Yes," he muttered.
Aeris, unable to help herself, burst into a helpless fit of laughter, sitting down on the offending bed and wiping a hand across her eyes as her shoulders shook with amusement. Sephiroth remained in the doorway, glowering at her, wondering just what was so funny. He kept his arms folded tightly, green eyes shining. He stood perfectly still, just watching her until she finally took a deep breath and looked up, instantly noting his stern expression.
"I'm sorry, Seph... I wasn't laughing at you," she said, standing and taking a few steps toward him. It was so easy to forget how sensitive he could be. "But sometimes, you're really funny, and you don't even know it." She punctuated the sentence with an affectionate grin, her eyes warm and filled with love as she studied his face.
"Hmph," he replied, though his expression softened a bit and he unfolded his arms, dropping them to rest at his sides.
"I can find other bedding," Aeris told him, not wanting to make him more uncomfortable than the transition of moving in together already had. "I didn't really think about it when I saw them... I just thought they were pretty. I should have thought about you, too, since this place belongs to both of us."
"No, no, that is all right... I suppose it really does not matter," he said, waving a dismissive hand in the air. He looked as if he regretted ever having brought up the subject.
"Are you sure?" she asked, still looking a bit worried. She knew that Sephiroth still had many issues to deal with, and she was determined to make their relationship work and help him deal with them, no matter what it cost her. If simply changing the color of the sheets on their bed made him more comfortable, it was certainly something she could manage.
"Yes," he said, his voice a bit less stern, a quiet warmth filling his eyes as he met hers. "I do not care what it looks like... as long as I share it with you."
Aeris almost melted where she stood, but managed to walk the few feet between them and wrap her arms around his neck, standing up on the tips of her toes to softly kiss his lips. He may not have been the most romantic man alive, or the most articulate about his feelings, but when he said something she knew that it came from his heart. That only made it more meaningful since she knew how difficult such things were for him to admit.
"You're such a sweetheart," she said with a smile, looking up into his hypnotic gaze, shining green eyes that were even more remarkable in the dark.
"That is your fault," he said accusingly, though a slight smile had crossed his face. "You are making me soft."
Aeris giggled, lifting a hand and running it softly down his smooth cheek. "I love you," she said, instantly serious, watching as he relaxed and closed his eyes at her touch. "I'm so happy we decided to do this."
"So am I," he replied quietly a moment later, reaching out for one of her hands and taking it in his. Aeris briefly wondered how she was ever going to break him of wearing his gloves so much of the time, but quickly dismissed it as unimportant, lacing her fingers through his despite the black leather still covering them.
"Even with the pink sheets?" she asked, gazing up into his shining eyes, which were now filled with the love he was still learning to express.
"Yes..." he answered, clearly distracted as he leaned down and softly kissed her neck. Aeris shivered and tightened her hold on him, a mischievous grin crossing her face.
"And the plants and flowers in the kitchen and living room?"
"And the lacey pink curtains I got to match the sheets?" she asked with a grin he couldn't see, running one hand back through his hair.
Sephiroth abruptly stopped what he was doing, his head snapping up in alarm.
"I'm kidding!" she said, giggling at the horrified expression on his face. "Seriously, I'm kidding! They're white, I promise!"
He looked at her with narrowed eyes for a moment, but a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. "Very well..." he said, leaning down to kiss her a bit more passionately. "Now, I suppose I ought to... inspect the bed, to make sure it is satisfactory. And I may require your assistance."
Aeris laughed, her arms tightly wrapped around his neck. Effortlessly, he bent down and lifted her up off of her feet, cradling her against his chest with his arms wrapped protectively around her.
"That is a very good idea."