The muffled thump reminds her of a body hitting a wall, a little bit. It's still not quite that, so Sephiroth doesn't bring along her sword when she goes down the stairs to check.
She finds Aerith in the backroom, hoisting a large canvas bag over his shoulder. He bends his knees, breathing out in a huff as he attempts to redistribute the weight. Sephiroth catches a corner of the bag and lifts before it can tip him over.
"Oh, good morning, Sephiroth." He grins at her from under the bag, head craned, already straining a little.
Sephiroth breathes in. "Is that... earth?"
"Soil, yes. I managed to strike a deal with Billings; I now have a greenhouse of my own!" He beams, proud and happy.
"Congratulations," she says. She's seen the tiny corner of land Billings was selling; it's barely big enough for a garage, and, stuck between the building the bar is part of and another as it is, little direct sunlight gets to it. The only advantage is how close it is to Tipheret's bar. Then again, Aerith did manage to make plants grow under the Plate; he must enjoy a challenge.
"Alright, I've got to go before I fall over," he sayd good-naturedly, and starts toward the door. Sephiroth snorts quietly and opens it for him, pointedly. "... It was open a second ago!" he protests, laughing, and wobbles a little. "Dang traitorous wind."
Sephiroth gives him a dubious look. He firms his stance, gives her a look that's half challenge and half 'yes, I know, okay?' with a dash of sheepish added on.
There are three more bags of soils waiting. He'll have broken his back out of pure stubbornness by the time he makes the second trip. Sighing a little bit, she swings two of them over her shoulder and tucks the last under her opposite arm. "Lead the way."
"I should probably -- huff -- be hurt in my manly pride," he comments, trudging down the street, bent double under his load. "I think. Must be in the handbook."
She smirks a little. "You would, if you hadn't planned it that way."
"Well." He laughs, utterly unrepentent. "It's a shame not to make use of a valuable asset, and it just so happens there's you three SOLDIER-types in this very house."
"Zack took Cloud for a spar, actually, so I suppose you were down to me and Tipheret."
"Might be better this way," he says brightly as they turn the corner, and frees a couple of fingers to wave hello at a neighbor watching them go past. The bag almost slides off. "You'd think after -- gnh -- knowing Cloud all these years, the neighborhood 'd be less scandalized, but... Little blonde, taller guy who lets her do all the heavy lifting... I'm a cad!" he concludes.
He seems entirely too happy about it. Sephiroth tries not to smile, and fails. Aerith shouldn't be able to see it, but he seems to know anyway, because he almost tips over trying to turn to her and grin his "hah! gotcha!".
"You are a cad," she confirms obligingly, though the notion is so removed from her reality it becomes ridiculous. Aerith wheezes out another laugh.
"I detect a lack of enthusiasm in that answer, dear."
"I suppose being a cad is still preferable to having no manly pride left," she replies, slow and indifferent. A beat. "Speaking of. Perhaps I should carry that last bag as well before you strain something."
Aerith splutters, and then he laughs and laughs, so hard even the bag trembles on his back.
Sephiroth doesn't bother hiding her faint, satisfied smile from the next three neighbors they pass by, either.
"You know, I think I should let you," he says. Sephiroth knows he means it, he knows she's stronger and there's no competition, and he's fine with it; though that doesn't mean he's going to. She doesn't push, though. Friendly jabs are one thing but he would thank her for sparing his abused back just about as much as she would thank him for trying to shield her in battle, no matter how much she's bleeding at the time.
She has a book she was reading, and the household accounts to sort out, but she digs out parcels and waters seeds for the rest of the afternoon.