The blue lights of the Forgotten City slid along the flawless blade Masamune, Sephiroth's coat fanning out around him as he fell, the wind in his face tearing through his hair. The girl was kneeling, hands clasped in prayer, the girl he had been ordered to kill. His Mother's voice whispered in the back of his mind: She is dangerous, she cannot be allowed to live. We no longer need her; she has already found the Black Materia for you, sweet. Let her friends watch her die. He heard Mother chanting, Kill her, kill her, yes, my son, yes!

A young blond man stood before her, love in his Mako blue eyes. As Sephiroth fell, he saw the other raise his own sword, felt Mother reaching out a tendril of her power to take his mind as well. In that moment, when her attention was divided, something wrenched her control away. Sephiroth heard her shriek, furious that someone would interfere at this most important moment, then her voice went silent.

He came back to himself, the wind whistling in his ears, and some new voice was suddenly there, commanding him. His grip changed on Masamune's hilt in midair. Instead of stabbing the girl in the back, he defended her, stopping the blond's wide blade with Masamune in one hand even as his other arm went about her waist. He crushed her small form to him, leaping back in the same motion and across the staggered platforms to the other side of the room. The cries of her shocked friends pursued him out of the place even as he disappeared out through the roof and into the darkness.


The girl fainted somewhere along the way. He ran with her for hours, sheathing Masamune single-handedly and shifting her to carry her in both arms, all without breaking stride. He had to be sure her friends wouldn't foolishly try to get her back from him right now, especially now that he knew Mother had been able to control the blond as well. Somehow he knew that she was safest with him until she was awake and could travel on her own. She could make her own decisions then.

He stopped running when he was miles away from the City. He walked for a long while in the forest until he found a suitable place to rest. Gently, he placed her upon a bed of moss, under a low-hanging tree. She would wake soon, and he had to make a fire, and plan.


Warm...I'm warm now, was Aeris's first thought when she opened her eyes. Why is it so warm in the City? What a strange dreamso real She could swear she'd actually seen Cloud raise his sword against her. There had been the solid metallic clang when his sword descended. Then she had been caught up by a strong arm and pinned against an unyielding body that smelled pleasantly of leather...The sensation of great speed, crossing over mountains faster and more smoothly than anyone could actually run, carried in the arms of...Oh, dear Gods

Her eyes snapped open and she sat up suddenly. She was lying in front of a small materia-made fire, her legs covered by a rough woolen blanket. She stared into the flames for a moment, trying to reconcile the facts in her mind. She was no longer in the City of the Ancients. She had been attacked by a man she trusted implicitly, then rescued by her dire enemy! It hadn't been a dream. It hadn't been a dream!

"How are you?" A familiar, deep voice spoke from the shadows. A tall form seemed to materialize before her in the firelight, black boots, black pants, black gloves, black leather coat, white pauldrons, pale face, shining silver hair...Eyes widening as she looked up, up, up, she met the glow of his own Mako green ones and felt her world wrench away and spin out of control. The last thing her battered mind registered before the blackness hit her was the image of him kneeling down beside her to catch her, concern in his eyes.