So, here it is—The Last Chapter. *SQUEEEEEEEE!* I am so excited to finally have this done and posted! Took me long enough.
Closing thoughts after the main course!
Reeve stood in his office at the edge of ruined Midgar, smiling out the window and up at the sky. In the months since the final battle against Jenova, things had quieted down and stabilized at a new state of normal. Things would never be quite the same again, but that was all to the good.
The tent town at the edge of Sector Six had simply failed to dissolve following the battle. Already, new buildings were being erected there, streets beginning to wind through the Wastes. The town was already being called 'Edge,' and anyone who had anything to do with Midgar's reconstruction or the governance of the world seemed to have set up shop there.
Reeve had to include himself in that number. Formal elections had been held—elections by the people of Midgar-Edge, by Reeve's own insistence—and he had found himself unexpectedly President of the new Shinra Corporation. Unexpectedly to him, anyway—Reno had informed him that everyone else had been so certain of the outcome, he hadn't even been able to get a betting pool set up. At least the obnoxiously endearing Cetra had lost in the pool about when Cloud and Sephiroth would quit dilly-dallying and get engaged again—one of Cloud's SOLDIER friends, a woman called Artemis, had taken that one by betting that Cloud would be the one to pop the question. She'd used the money on a shopping spree to make her feel better about the hand Cloud had crushed in his pain when channeling Holy. She'd only bought practical items though, and cheerfully ignored anyone who suggested she should buy something 'nice' or 'splurge.'
The ground forces from Junon had arrived just a bit late to the party—Jenova had apparently had foresight enough to send some of her monsters to harry them into a late arrival. But they had fortunately brought medical aid with them, and the Midgar defenders had been in dire need of it. By the end, losses had been ghastly, with some of the monsters even managing to get as far as the Militias guarding the civilians. The Junon forces also helped hunt down the last remaining Jenova-monsters, and maintained order when news of the victory made it to the shantytown.
Obviously, there had been one hell of a party. Reeve hadn't thought a city under siege could possibly have that much alcohol, but that night the dirt tracks between tents had practically run with the stuff. And over night a weird sort of monument had appeared at the site of the final showdown, consisting of a stake driven into the ground where each of the forty-nine SOLDIERs, AVALANCHE, and Cetra had stood when Jenova fell. The troopers on duty at the time had to have seen something, but they all professed ignorance of who could possibly have done the deed, and neither Reeve nor the military leadership had been inclined to press.
Over the months, the Monument had become much more permanent, with white marble obelisks put in place for each of the AVALANCHE members, mythril for the Cetra, and adamant for the SOLDIERs. A chunk of Meteor had been reclaimed from the Ruins and set in Jenova's place—the pile of burned-out Materia dust that was all that initially remained of her had dissolved into the Lifestream over the days immediately afterward. Someone had suggested putting a garden in the center of the circle, but the brutalized ground wouldn't support life, just yet. The rock garden put in as a place-holder had become a popular hang-out for those who weren't bothered by the memories the place contained.
While the wounds of the event were beginning to fade, there could be no doubt that people still felt the scars. So soon after Meteor fell, many people couldn't help but feel that some new tragedy must be just around the corner. There was an entire generation of children whose formative years were shaped primarily by Meteor and Jenova, the ramifications of which were still unknown.
And the threat wasn't completely over. Everyone knew that the Others were still coming, called by Jenova to a Reunion that now would never take place. It might be tomorrow, or centuries from now, but they would certainly be here eventually. Preparedness was the only possible response. One of Reeve's first acts as President had been to get the help of Nanaki and the rest of Cosmo Canyon to set up a world-wide network of monitoring stations to watch for any sign of alien incursion—telescopes, seismometers, and Lifestream monitors, among other things. They could no longer hope to use Cloud or Sephiroth's intuition to detect the proximity of the Others—or 'Shards,' as Sephiroth had taken to calling them.
Not one single Jenova cell remained within any of those who had been part of the circle calling Holy.
The changes for the regular SOLDIERs had been mild—a few days of mild Mako sickness while their bodies readjusted to their Mako levels and their new burn-rates. For Sephiroth and Cloud, however, the results had been much more drastic.
Years ago, Cloud had suffered a spinal injury that Hojo had mended with Jenova and Mako. With the Jenova cells gone, the partial healing that his own body had managed with the Mako's aid had been insufficient to allow him full feeling and mobility. Months later, he was still getting Mako treatments and physical therapy, though he was making great progress, and should even be back up to fighting trim eventually.
Sephiroth's entire being had been interlaced with Jenova cells. Everything had been affected, from his vision to his hearing, his memory to his coordination. Still, by sheer effort, and because he felt he had to protect Cloud while he was so vulnerable, the silver-haired general had managed to remain among the strongest, fastest, and most tactically brilliant SOLDIERs in all of Shinra. Cloud bitched about being 'protected,' but as long as no one else mentioned it, he seemed content to let Sephiroth take care of him while he recovered.
A rap at the door brought his attention back to the here and now. Elena entered with a stack of paperwork, a spare magazine for her handgun placed on top as a paperweight. As much of a help as she could be, there was no denying she was occasionally a little...odd. Once a Turk, always a Turk, apparently—not that she'd ever professed to have stopped being a Turk. She just combined her duties as Turk with those as his secretary. As long as he kept her away from Lord Godo, she usually was more help than harm. And everyone had troubles with the in-laws at some point—her in-law just happened to be a hidebound old warhorse who was still trying to wrap his head around the fact he'd likely never have grandchildren.
Not that Reeve would ever say so.
At least not to his face.
Please, he'd worked for the Turks himself—he'd managed to learn at least a little tact along the way.
"Planet to Reeve!" Elena singsonged, bringing him back to reality again. She smirked. "You haven't heard a thing I said, have you?" She gave a playful huff. "This is why I play for the other team."
Reeve cocked a brow. "So, Yuffie listens to you? That's amazing, because she certainly doesn't listen to anyone else."
Elena just smiled more widely. "No, of course she doesn't listen. But she does a better job of camouflaging the fact she isn't listening." She tapped the stack of papers, returning to business. "Most of this is just the usual junk getting passed up the chain, but probably too important for me to just rubber-stamp for you. The interesting bits are that Reno finally got off his lazy butt to write down the stuff he needs for that Cetra class they're putting on, and Cid's brought back the latest of Nanaki's reports. Riveting, I'm sure."
Reeve chuckled. "Doubtless. I wonder what hilarious mistakes his dictation software has made this time?"
Elena snickered. "I'll leave you to it, then, boss. Have fun. Shout if you need something. And if you're not out of here by the time I'm leaving, I will set Cait Sith on you. Or worse—Yuffie."
"Is that any way to talk about your princess?" he joked as he sat down to the paperwork.
Elena shrugged. "Friendship is loving someone despite their faults. True love is loving someone because of them. If she weren't such a pain in everybody's butts, she just wouldn't be my girl."
Reeve smiled as the door shut behind her. "Cute," he sighed wistfully to himself. It was a bit petty, but watching what seemed like the whole world pair off around him, he couldn't help but feel a little left out. Shaking his head, he determinedly focused his attention on the paperwork.
Reno's little class was an attempt to make sure that the skill critical to Jenova's defeat wasn't lost before the Shards arrived. Sephiroth had insisted that every human being was, more or less, a Cetra, and should therefore be able to summon Holy with a bit of training and effort. Given how few remained who could really be classed as 'Cetra' and how few of those were likely to leave children, anything that would allow them to retain the ability to summon Holy at need was welcome. Galen and Cloud had gotten their heads together and come up with a hypothesis that, now that Jenova was gone, humankind would begin to revert back into Cetra, but it would be many years before that could be proven.
So Reno had decided to try to teach regular human beings how to call on Holy. Of course, the redheaded Turk had the attention span of a fruit fly, and quickly grew bored of it, preferring to spend his time with Tseng and Taka, or communing with the Planet—'shaking up those old geezers,' he called it. So Galen wound up teaching most of it. It was hard work—Reeve had himself gone to a few sessions, just to find out what it really took to tap into the Planet's own power—but there had already been a few reports of small successes.
Meanwhile, Nanaki had taken on a role as guardian of the Planet, not just Cosmo Canyon. He and the Planetary Scientists at Cosmo Canyon had taken to recording and analyzing the outputs of the anti-Shard sensor net. One of the major difficulties was in deciding what was normal, so they could then figure out what was abnormal and subsequently how to respond. The current report detailed recent studies on using various geological markers as proxies for sensor data to build a historical record on which to base future observations. It was actually very interesting stuff, even if the dictation software the leonine guardian had to use occasionally made some epically funny errors. Something about the low growling undertone in his voice apparently confused the software. Reeve was never going to let the lion live down the fact that for fully half of a report, 'crevasse' had been rendered 'crave ass,' and poor Nanaki had missed a few instances of the error while proofreading.
The rebuilt Highwind, along with the fleet of smaller military aircraft, was the fastest method of carrying messages between continents. Even so long after Meteor fell, electronics still tended to glitch a lot in the Midgar area, so most important messages were physically carried from point A to point B. This put Cid Highwind in high demand, both as a messenger himself, and as a keen airship designer.
Vincent was still hanging out with the surly pilot, like an ever-present shadow. He seemed completely content to do so, too—or at least, he had never indicated any wish for things to be any other way to anyone Reeve knew. Reeve wondered if the two men were more than platonic, even though it was really none of his business. On the other hand, if he knew he was single, Reeve might try to catch Vincent's attention himself. Not that he would ever breathe a word of that anywhere anyone would ever hear of it—after all, the man had been a Turk, and if the knowledge existed anywhere, it was a safe bet Vincent would hear of it eventually. His efforts to keep his interest concealed were especially important given he saw the ex-Turk ever week to finish repairs to his mangled left-arm. He didn't know whether Vincent or his own mortification would kill him first if the admittedly hot ex-Turk ever found out.
Not that he had time for such entanglements, though. Being President of the company everyone on the Planet—even Wutai, to some extent—looked to for direction and protection was a lot more work than either Rufus or Old Man Shinra had ever made it look. Reeve personally didn't think the Company had any business trying to rule the world—they were a frigging utility company, for love of Holy!—but he was versed enough in human psychology and sociology to know that in the wake of such crises, it was best not to rock the boat too much. Besides, the state of the communications systems across the world necessitated a certain amount of autonomy among the outlying regions. They tended to look to him, to Shinra, for intercontinental affairs, or anything of sufficiently large scale, but the day-to-day business of getting on with life and survival seemed to run just fine at more local levels. And he was grateful for that. Maybe some day, they'd all be able to elect a real world-wide government. Until that day, he would do his best.
Another knock at the door again interrupted his musings and mechanical reading and signing of reams of documents. Elena leaned in the doorway, her jacket slung casually over her shoulder. "Come on, boss-man. Time to go."
He blinked and looked at his computer clock—as much as he loved mechanisms and gadgets, he couldn't stand a ticking wall clock. Geeze, it really was time to leave if he wanted to catch any of the Festival at all. He looked at the heap of work he still had to do, then shrugged. Screw it—not like anyone else was in the office today, not with the Meteor Festival on. In the wake of the Meteor crisis, the survivors had mostly thrown huge parties to celebrate their survival. Somehow, this had already become a tradition.
He tossed the documents in one of the locking drawers of his desk and logged off his computer. He'd read the most interesting bits, according to what Elena had pointed out, so if he was a little late getting to the rest...well. He wondered if it made him a workaholic that he was already calculating how early he'd have to come in tomorrow to make up for all he didn't get to.
"No coming in early tomorrow," Elena said.
He rolled his eyes. "Am I that transparent?"
She laughed. "No, you do pretty well showing only what you want to show—probably how you survived being an executive in the old days. But, I've been working for you long enough now to know your habits." She came in and threaded her arm through his and pulled him gently out of the office. "It sort of defeats the purpose of a holiday if you spend the whole time worried about work."
Reeve knew when he was beaten, and he didn't want the Turk to resort to more underhanded tactics, so he just went along with her guiding pull. They were nearly all the way to the festival location when he finally noticed the light level, and turned his eyes to the top of her blonde head.
"You hacked my computer and changed the time settings, didn't you?"
She blinked wide, innocent eyes up at him. "I never! I'm hurt you think so badly of me!" She grinned. "I didn't have to hack—I just remoted in. Administrator privileges."
Reeve smirked. "I guess it's true what they say about married couples coming to resemble each other. I could have sworn I was just talking to Yuffie."
She resumed the innocent expression. "Who do you think put me up to it, boss-man? Seriously, though, your friends are worried that you never take any time for yourself. You'll work yourself into an early grave, you know. No one wants that. Especially now that we finally have a boss worth working for. Rufus was," she paused, thinking. "Well, he was sort of like family. But you don't get to choose family, whereas the whole population of this city chose you. So do the job, but remember you have to take care of yourself, too. Holy knows you don't want me to try to do it!"
Reeve chuckled, but inside he was touched. He hadn't thought anyone cared that much. He was used to being essentially invisible, the least of all the Shinra Department Heads, if only because he didn't care to make a spectacle of himself and beg for money the way Palmer did. It had served him well on those occasions he was required to assist the Turks, and even now it helped when he needed to slip out of the office and not be bothered. At least it meant he could come to the Festival without a huge security detail, though he knew between Elena and the handful of others that were bound to be close by, he was better guarded than most supposed.
Elena suddenly grinned and jerked her chin at one of the festival booths they were approaching. "Hey, if couples start to resemble each other over time, what do you figure those two will be like, years from now?"
Reeve looked over and saw Cloud and Sephiroth at the stall, being offered garlands of flowers by the vendor. Cloud was leaning on his cane lightly but chattering animatedly with the vendor—Sephiroth merely looked long-suffering. Cloud took a necklace of red flowers from the vendor and moved to place it around a suddenly shocked Sephiroth's neck. The taller man made a warding gesture, leaning away. Predictably, Cloud gave him puppy-dog eyes, and the most fearsome general Shinra ever had buckled.
Reeve snickered. "You mean besides pretty enough to make angels envious?" Elena snickered, too. "I don't know. Plenty of time to find out, though. In fact, I think I'm going to go say hello."
Elena patted him on the shoulder. "Okay. I'm supposed to meet Yuffie soon, anyway. Try to have fun, okay? Channel Cait, or something." The Turk sauntered off, leaving the President to walk over to his friends.
Sephiroth seemed to be negotiating with the vendor for a retaliatory necklace—in pink—for Cloud. Reeve smiled at their antics. For two of the most dangerous individuals ever to walk the Planet, they were awfully cute sometimes.
"Good evening, Cloud, Sephiroth," he said when he was close enough. Sephiroth waved distractedly at him, intent on getting his 'revenge,' but Cloud looked over with a smile.
"Reeve! Hey! No one was sure you were going to make it." The blond seemed more relaxed than Reeve had ever before known him to be, and it made him suddenly glad Elena had gotten him out of the office.
"I probably wouldn't have," he admitted. "But I guess Elena promised Yuffie, or something. It's nice to take a break."
"Good," Sephiroth said, draping a pretty pink necklace around Cloud's shoulders without giving him a chance to protest. Cloud pouted, but the general kept his eyes on Reeve. Reeve was still startled by the sheer human-ness of them whenever he saw them. "It would not do for you to make yourself ill."
Reeve rubbed the back of his neck abashedly. "Elena said something similar. Am I really that bad?"
"Yes." Their chorus left no room for disagreement.
"Um, e-excuse me?" All three of them looked over at the vendor, who was looking right at Reeve. "Are you President Reeve?" she asked, sounding almost breathless. At Reeve's wary nod, the lady squealed excitedly. "Oh, my stars, the President is at my stall!" She started rustling around the stall. "Oh, please take some flowers! Free of charge!" The woman continued to babble excitedly about how much everyone owed him and how lucky it was for her to have so many heroes coming by her stall today.
Sephiroth looked a bit uncomfortable. "I think I'll go get some food while you get your flowers. Would you care for something?"
Reeve blinked. "Oh, you don't have to go to any trouble," he said distractedly, trying to talk the flower vendor out of her determination to have him walking around with some of her flowers. Eventually he just gave up, turning to Cloud, who was grinning at him.
"I could have told you it was useless trying to talk her out of it," the blond said with a smile. "As she told me, she lived in Midgar during Meteor, and her home was destroyed during the fall. The only reason she survived was that a nice man in a suit came door-to-door in her neighborhood telling people to leave. Just let her express a little gratitude, Reeve."
Reeve blinked. He hadn't recognized her as one of those he'd met during that hectic night spent trying to evacuate everyone from the city. On the other hand, he had met so many, and his memory for names and faces was mediocre at best. So he politely told the lady he'd be happy to take some of her flowers and let her pick out the ones she thought best.
He watched her string the blossoms onto a string for a moment, then turned to Cloud. "So. It's nice to see you, Cloud. How've you been?"
The blond toyed with the pink flowers around his neck. "Actually, pretty good. The doctors say I probably won't even need this," he held up his cane, "in another month or so. I really don't need it often, anyway, just when I'm on my feet for a while. And it's been nice to finally have a little bit of peace."
"So you can enjoy your husband, huh?" Reeve asked, waggling his brows with a grin. The two of them had tied the knot barely six weeks after defeating Jenova under the theory that if they waited too long, something was bound to pop up and interfere. Cloud had still been in a wheelchair, but both had put on their dress uniforms to be married in a small ceremony held at Aeris's church in front of only a couple dozen friends. The reception had been a lot bigger, but then, they were prominent figures in the world, these days.
Cloud meanwhile, was smiling at his own memories. "Yeah. Though the peace is nice just for itself, too."
Reeve nodded, looking down the way to where Sephiroth was waiting patiently in line at a food vendor's booth. "And how's he doing?"
Cloud looked over toward Sephiroth, too, his eyes a little sad. "Better. He doesn't show it, but losing a part of himself has really shaken him. It used to be, he would have been able to hear us talking over here, even over the noise. Now he can't. It's taking him some getting used to. Things he's come to expect of himself he'll suddenly discover are no longer possible. Sometimes he gets pretty mopey about it."
"Not at all like his husband, right?" Reeve asked gently.
Cloud smiled—it was amazing to Reeve how much more free the blond was with smiles, these days. Married life clearly suited him. "Nah, I'm okay. A couple more issues to deal with, I guess. Did you hear? Seph took it into his head that he was going to compile all the relevant bits of Project Pink and our experiences with Jenova and write the definitive resource about her in case the Shards don't arrive until long after our time. It's been rough—that stuff gives him nightmares. But since he got some version of their history from Jenova herself, I guess he thinks it's his job to make sure it doesn't get lost to time."
"Huh," Reeve said. "No, I hadn't heard that. It's a good idea, though." He saw Sephiroth step up to the food vendor's counter, point at a couple items, and hold up three fingers. "Just so long as he doesn't hurt himself doing it."
"Hello, Pot!" Cloud chirped. "I see you've met Kettle." Reeve rolled his eyes, but let the comment go—apparently he was a workaholic, enough that everyone felt the need to inform him of such.
Just then, the flower lady got done stringing the flowers on his necklace and offered it to him. He thanked her graciously, especially after she persisted in refusing his money, then set the garland of cheerful yellow flowers around his neck. She cooed over how wonderful he made them look, and while he rather thought it was the other way around, he couldn't deny that the contrast of the bright yellow against his blue suit jacket was rather fetching. He thanked her again, then moved to stroll with Cloud toward the concession stand.
"And how's Tifa?" Reeve continued.
Cloud blinked at him. "You've got a Turk for a secretary and you don't know? Geeze, you really have been working too hard. Anyway, it seems Tifa finally allowed Rude to take her on a date a few weeks back. Ever since, they've been...cuddly."
Reeve couldn't help but snicker. "I always knew that big wall of muscle was a big softie."
Cloud grinned. "You should have seen the interrogation Barret did. Turk meets Terrorist. It was classic. Of course, Barret was just worried for Tifa and Marlene, but Rude was not going to be run off.
"Barret and Marlene are fine, by the way. I'm sure you knew Barret decided to go scout new sources of energy, and Marlene is delighted that he takes her with him sometimes. I think she's got a little bit of wanderlust in her. When she's here with Tifa, she's an absolute angel, though. She told Barret the other day that she wanted to learn how to make things grow 'like the Flower-Lady did' and travel all over the world fixing the places the Reactors damaged."
Reeve sighed. He'd been the one to design the latest Mako Reactors, to make them cost-effective enough to be placed in locations that didn't already boast Mako fountains. To some extent, he felt responsible for making it so easy for Shinra to make a profit off the Planet's pain. But he pushed the guilty feelings aside and managed a smile for Cloud. "Sounds like Aeris really made an impact on that little girl. I'm glad someone her age is thinking about trying to heal the Planet. This is her world, after all, and will be after we're all gone. She shouldn't have to think of things only in terms of how to prepare for the Shards." His mind already was ticking over how he could covertly help ensure she got whatever training she wanted. Having kidnapped the child once—something he felt terribly about—he liked to do whatever he could to make amends. Plus she was bright and sweet and deserved to be encouraged in all her endeavors.
Cloud shook a finger at him. "Hey. It's a holiday, Reeve. If I can lighten up for a day, so can you."
"Seconded," Sephiroth added as he arrived with the food. "The work will still be there in the morning, and you taking a little time to unwind isn't going to cause the end of the world." He handed a portion of food to Cloud, and another to Reeve.
"Oh, you didn't have to—" Reeve began, but Sephiroth cut him off.
"I know I didn't have to, but I felt like it. Eat your food, President Workaholic."
Reeve snorted. "This from one of the few men in Shinra I know is worse than I am?"
Cloud grinned. "Not since the wedding, he's not. I guess stacks of paperwork just don't seem as important when you've got a lover waiting at home who might cut you off if you come back too late, too often." He took a bite of his food, looking thoughtful. "Maybe we should set you up with someone, Reeve. That'd get you out of the office!" he teased.
Reeve rolled his eyes. "Funny." Cloud giggled, and Reeve blinked at him incredulously. "Well, the world has certainly changed. Cloud Strife, Prince of Angst, not just smiling, but giggling." He looked with exaggerated mock-suspicion at the food, which only made Cloud laugh more.
Sephiroth rolled his eyes, though his eyes shone with amusement. "Captain Strife-Valentine, stop annoying the President so we can all enjoy our holiday."
Cloud fired off a sharp salute, ruined by his giggle-fit. "Yes, General Valentine-Strife, sir!"
"Ugh, what a mouthful," Reeve opined, but he was smiling, too, by now. "Couldn't you at least have kept it short?"
Sephiroth shrugged. "Vincent gave his blessings before we did it, and I find it rather...nice to have a connection to other people, a family."
Cloud looped an arm in Reeve's, pulling him toward the heart of the Festival. "Yeah, Vincent doesn't even blink anymore. It still makes Cid go all cross-eyed, though—funny as hell. Not as bad as whenever someone tries to call Elena 'Mrs. Kisaragi,' though. I thought she was going to blow up right on the spot. You should have seen..."
Reeve allowed the compact blond to drag him down the street. It was good to see Cloud so happy. He'd been very concerned for him for a very long time. So, even though things weren't perfect yet, and knowing he'd have to go back to worries and paperwork tomorrow, Reeve very consciously decided to just have fun tonight. "Channel Cait," Elena had said.
"Oh, look!" he exclaimed, interrupting Cloud's description of the latest trouble his SOLDIER buddies had gotten into. "A fortune-teller!"
Cloud smacked him companionably on the back. "Ha! Guess you better go take a look. Professional curiosity, right?"
Sephiroth harrumphed. "Professional? Please tell me you don't believe in that charlatanry."
Cloud reached around Reeve to whack his husband. "Hey, don't say that. Cait was right on the money, back then. A little vague, maybe, but he was right. Besides, you and your constant, unrelenting logic can take a break—we're here to have fun!"
"Yes, dear," Sephiroth chimed.
Reeve marveled again at how much the world had changed, then sat down in front of the fortune-teller with a smile.
Somehow, he already knew that the future was bright.
Cloud sighed deeply, happily curling against Sephiroth's side and pillowing his head on a well-muscled shoulder. Sephiroth purred, languidly stroking fingertips over Cloud's bare, sweat-slicked spine. The breeze that sighed in through the open window held just the hint of chill as summer rolled inexorably toward autumn. Due to the slant of the plate, the window was angled up at the sky, and Cloud looked out at the stars. They still weren't as bright as they would have been in Nibelheim, but it was nice to finally have a clear enough sky and enough peace and quiet to just take a moment to look up.
"You're thinking awfully hard, Cloud," Sephiroth murmured, pressing a kiss to his hair. "I must not have worn you out enough."
Cloud smiled and stole a proper kiss from his husband, before looking back at the night sky. "Reeve seemed pretty preoccupied by the thought of the Shards."
Sephiroth sighed. "Not you, too." He tilted Cloud's chin so their eyes locked. "Don't worry about it. You could waste your whole life waiting for them to show up and never set eyes on one. Or maybe they'll show up in our living room tomorrow. There's nothing we can do about it that we aren't already doing, so let's not waste the time between worrying about it."
"So you think they'll really come?" Cloud asked, annoyed by how child-like the question sounded, even in his raspy voice.
Sephiroth snorted indelicately. "Of course they'll come. And they'll probably keep coming and coming and coming, at least until all those Jenova was able to reach directly have gotten here. Maybe more, if they've passed the word."
Cloud stared incredulously at his lover. "And you're telling me to relax and not worry about it?"
Sephiroth crooked a brow. "What else can you do? Odds are most we'll have to leave to future generations. You worrying yourself into an early grave only hurts the chances of you passing your knowledge into the future. And makes me worry about you." He smirked. "Besides, we killed one psycho space bitch—when the Shards get here, we'll curb-stomp them, too."
Cloud frowned at him, thinking "someone's been spending too much time around Reno," but the expression cleared quickly just from looking into those Mako-green eyes. He smiled and stroked Sephiroth's cheek. "So much has changed. You. Me. The Planet itself, I think."
"For the better?" Sephiroth asked, and Cloud knew this was one of those things they were probably going to be working through for years to come. Sephiroth was still ungodly fast and strong, still healed faster than anyone would normally, but while those on the outside would never know the difference, Sephiroth knew, and worried about it. Cloud, however, was just grateful they at least didn't have to worry about any lingering effects from Jenova here on the Planet. With himself, Sephiroth, and Vincent all clear of her taint, all remaining fragments of her were tiny, weak, and doomed to die with their hosts. The small trade-off in durability and preternatural senses was a price Cloud didn't mind paying for such freedom.
"Yeah, Seph. Definitely for the better." He let out a put-upon sigh. "Though I do miss all that extra stamina..."
Sephiroth growled playfully and rolled over on top of him. "Shall I show you my 'stamina,' Captain Strife-Valentine?"
Cloud grinned and hooked an ankle around Sephiroth's legs. "Do try to keep up, General Valentine-Strife."
So what if there was still an enemy force of unknown numbers and abilities headed toward them? He had all he could ever wish for right here.
"Sometimes, if you wish hard enough, you just might get it."
So, I hope you all liked the end of All You Can Know. It's been a long trip, hasn't it? The world has changed a lot since I started this—way back when Final Fantasy was always final, mind. Canon has changed, and it has been a nightmare trying to keep my little piece of fanon straight with the changes to Canon and all the evolution Fanon has gone through since. (OMG, I'm such a sucker for TimeTravel!fic!) So, I know that Meteor supposedly came down in January, and I have the Meteor festival in late summer—sue me, it doesn't look like winter to me in game. Besides, summer festivals are so much fun!
Playing around with Reeve's POV...honestly, once I played Dirge of Cerberus, I completely fell in love with Reeve as a character. He's...cute. (Might have to make some Reeve!fic, since there isn't nearly enough out there.) Plus, I figured he was the one character in a position to give us a recap on how everyone's doing after killing Her Royal Sliminess. I debated going to Tseng or Reno for that, but remembered I did a short bit from Reno's POV waaaay back when they rescued Sephiroth. So Reeve it was.
So. One last time I'd like to thank all the lovely people who reviewed this story. Thanks to those who stuck with it all this long way, and welcome to those just reading it. I have never been so happy to type the words 'The End' and hope you all achieved the same sense of satisfaction I did. If the muse ever comes back, I may dabble some more in this universe (and anyone else who wants to is welcome, just let me know so I can be sure to read and review!). However, I mostly consider this finally to be complete.
Just because it's over doesn't mean you can skate out on reviews, though! I'm still and always polishing my writing (and I cringe with horror whenever I read earlier fic...), so all comments are deeply appreciated.
-Akuma no Tsubasa