(Cloud has fallen into the lifespring...what awaits him in the mist? O, yeah, before I forget: I don't own the characters...I just own my own ostensible imagination ^_~)

Tifa... His mind writhed; full of an eternity of screaming agony. My Tifa... Her emerald eyes were full of tears, reminding him how much he'd failed to care for her, love her, enfold her in his strong arms... "Goodbye...My beloved..."

Bubbles cascaded, floating in the blue-wide ocean of ambiguous pain, eating at his pride, sentimentally brushing their tendrils; infiltrating his hollow mind. The golden hair that framed him was mucky; stringy pieces clinging to his thin shoulders as a second birth seized his lithe body.

"Tifa..." He rasped, limbs convulsing.

Softy, her angelic face rose before him once more. Full of ethereal beauty, it danced, flinging long hair, damp with spring, into the wind, and flaunting fiery eyes who's very essence sparkled in the voluminous moonlight.

Was this the world that had taken her supple form and twisted it? Or had it been his own malevolent touch?

"I am a puppet of the prisoner fate, a faux pas to the sneering faces that cloister around my hideous corpse", Cloud whispered miserably, closing his eyes against the rising panic that threatened to consume him. "I am nothing, a misanthropy to mankind...captured, discarded, shunned..."

Something floated, dazzling, peppered with blinding sparkles, a gift from the heavens above. Enthralled, he reached for it; every fiber of his body straining, combing the water with his hands for that glittering pod.

Grappling with the ocean, he tenderly caught it, cupping the tiny thing in his enormous paw.

"It" was a flower, blossomed and bathed in yellow light, tinged with rose and lavender, fluttering from a starless night into his glimmering haven of salty fluid. He had caught it nimbly, the slightly sticky green stalk vibrating in his white hand, the full bloom of the flower wafting in his face.

"Aeris..." He muttered, stroking the purple velveteen pedals with tenderness.

This was a bitter night, one full of painful memories.

He was alone, smothered in the pulsing, moving current, a pawn to its whims. Everything was cold and damp around him, he was shivering violently trying to cower within his torn clothing, the flower the only sliver of light in the opaque paradise.

"How...strange" He muttered, pulling at a single strand of his yellow hair, "Here I am...alive...and still the world goes on." The tendril gleamed in the scant moonlight, wavy and dark beneath the waves.

"I am a part of a whole. One, yet many...Just as this single piece of hair. I, too, have a purpose...a dream." He yanked the splinter cruelly, reveling in the quite snap it made, and the pain that cleared his head as the blond piece mingled with the tangy sea.

"And I will one day be 'plucked' as Aeries was." Somehow the murky water seemed even more clouded, even more diluted around him, and he squinted to try and vainly see where the placid lake ended. He ripped more hair from his head, till it fell like a golden sheen around him, a cloak of spotless humanity.

"Does everyone of this world have a dream? Do we all hurt? Do we all suffer needlessly?"

His brow furred in contemplation, and absentmindedly he stroked the silken blossom, feeling the sweetness of its intoxicating scent.

Faster, Faster! Now, his head pounded with his revelation, his senses screaming for relief. Wonder, unspeakable, jolted his body, flinging his arms wide in acceptance. Joy fizzed down his legs, sending vibrations through the blue orbs of bubbles that were ascending rapidly to the surface.

"I am ALIVE!" He screamed, to the water, as it superciliously tickled his face.

His body was crazed, thrashing, limbs protruding at odd angles.

"...no matter what happens...or who I meet...I will always be alive. She...she has shone me that." His heart soared above the livid sky, proclaiming his joy.

"And...and while I live, I must use my life to help others. The less fortunate." He clutched his sword in determination, making simple arcs in the air and prodding invisible enemies.

"I mean something to this world." Cloud's gaze now became scorn-filled, his eyes laden with roughness, proud, commanding the sniveling darkness to grovel at his feet. It was not meant to be so, something forced. His valor faded, replaced with looming death, and he shivered; the cool chill blurring as he retreated into himself, his body stiffening, his face loosing its grandeur.

"I must protect those I love." He spoke, voice flat. Heavily the burden crushed him, suffocating, a iron stone placed upon his ribs. He sheathed his sword, now-amber eyes piercing, liquefying his emotions into a hollow muck that enfolded him.

"I can never win. There will always...be something between us. Aeris' death. My love. Nothing is ever as it seems."

He closed his eyes in anguish, the shadows reforming in his mind, crowding out all pictures of conjured happiness.

Down, deep into the depths, he saw something, dappled black outlined with solid gray.


It was Tifa, patiently waiting for him at the bottom of the sea-green ocean, her arms uplifted in glee, her raven hair blowing, billowing in the current. In his excitement, his mind strayed, his grip loosened on the silver flower, and it was yanked away, drowning in the swift and merciless current.

Panic issued. He fought with it, gasping in agony as paralysis tore at his limbs. "Aeris!" He screamed, but his voice was soft, week, plea unheard. The fragile blossom withered in the violent tempest, dashed to ashes on the waves, invisible, gone.

He wrenched his gaze from it, spiteless tears blooming in his yellowed eyes. "I loved you, Aeris."

But now below him lay another, who waited, face uplifted to his, their hearts beating to the same rhythm. While all else had failed him, she had been true, she had endured. He managed a sad, mangled smile, concealing his feelings behind his love, his hope and dreams for her, and what she symbolized. A welcome grin spread her face, as if she somehow guessed all the suffering of the past few hours, and had emphasized with every painful moment of it.

He laughed once, and she spoke, her voice like a thousand angles with alabaster bells raised in chorus to the Most High.

"Hello, Cloud" She said softy, "Are you ready to go home?"