(Hojo POV. At least one of those bikini girls wasn’t just in it for the money.)
In the increasingly fatalistic atmosphere of the day, Hojo pursues Precious, out of a want for continuation more than intimacy. Costa Del Sol still teems with people exuding their own personal humidity - sweat tinged sweetly with anxiety, sickening - and the bars have never been busier.
Meteor hangs over the ocean, a second moon above Costa’s much advertised horizon, apocalyptic. Romantic. The bartender jokes ‘last rounds’ to everyone too drunk to listen, and Precious is behind the counter with a white lily in her short dark hair, serving the usual cold drinks and lukewarm smiles.
"Long time, Professor," Precious says when he waves her over. It’s nearing 3am. Hojo never calls beforehand to say he is coming. Either he finds her or he doesn’t, but usually he does. Her routine is somewhat predictable. Hojo orders a lemon lime with vodka, and slips Precious two one hundred gil notes for his five gil drink.
"Keep the change," he advises.
She keeps the change, and still makes him wait until dawn, when her shift finishes.
Precious’ apartment is never devoid of flowers - big, tropical blooms suffocating in cheap ceramic vases, ten gil imitation bouquets in tall glass bowls. Hojo brings her the finest chocolates from Midgar’s upper plates, and the sweets sit melting on the kitchen bench while wine cools in the fridge. Without her high, high heels, Precious’ forehead presses neatly against his collarbones, the lily in her hair tickling his chin.
"Are we all going to die?" she murmurs, nonchalant, before he eats the words right off her lips.
Later, Precious is pulling up her underwear at the foot of the bed when she catches him watching. “Picturing you with a baby bump,” he answers, when her silhouette asks him what he’s looking at.
Her dimly lit frown carries over on waves of heat despite the column fan in the corner, but Precious only clicks her tongue as she lies back down beside him, breasts soft against the thin film of moisture on his chest. She pinches his belly fat. Swirls a finger around his navel in wide, lazy circles, spiralling down down down.
"I don’t want your baby," she sighs. "I’m going to find a blond man so my baby girl will be pretty and blond."
Hojo chuckles. “With those dark locks of yours, m’dear, there isn’t a man blond enough to father your fair-haired offspring.”
"And besides," she says, ignoring him, "I’m only going to have a baby with the man I marry. My daughter’s gonna have a proper dad, so she won’t go around messing with grumpy old men more than twice her age to try and fill the gap.”
Hojo continues giggling. The atmosphere of the day is increasingly fatalistic; everyone is clambering to fill the gaps in their lives before time runs out, some more desperately than others. Precious, petite and barely into her twenties, tumbles slowly down into Hojo’s own private hell, where the hands of a child he has no memories of and a wife he cannot forget reach up to meet her.
His grin is slightly manic as he pulls her closer. “Who says I wouldn’t marry you?”
She has to twist her head to stare at him, and her eyes are wide, wide as saucers. “You’d marry me?”
Meteor hangs over the ocean, overseeing the ship carrying the Sister Ray to Midgar. They’re all going to die, certainly - but sometimes the easiest way to obliterate a hole is to destroy its boundaries.
"Sure, kid." Hojo keeps laughing. "Why the hell not?"