Authoress Notes: I had written this songfic back in January and never got around to posting it on FF.Net. Well, here it is. I simply love it. The game is a lot of fun and I adore Josh Groban. His voice is strong and pure; it sends shivers down my spine. And this song practically screamed Aerith and Cloud. So, I hope you enjoy!

Never Let Go © Josh Groban; Characters © Disney and Square Enix; All rights reserved

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[Blah] – Song Lyrics

"Blah" – Talking

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Her Warmth

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Shadows.


The shallow darkness surrounded him as he walked across the grounds and up the stone steps. A cold, dark wind blew against him, his cape waving with it. The sword felt heavy against his back, but he ignored it. It was the only little comfort he carried with him. Other than that, pain and cold followed him; a stray dog tagging along and never going away. It craved and devoured the attention from him. And because of this, his anger and frustration grew, but so did the pain.


Clenching his fists, he hesitated.


[I can't understand it]
[The search for an answer is met with darker days]


Her face flashed in his mind. Her eyes, filled. They were brimming with tears and pain. At once his frustration shot up; his balled up fist slamming painfully against the stone pillar closest to him. A resounding crunch followed suit, leaving a dent buried nearly halfway through the pillar. Cracks splintered out from it, weakening it. Her face. Slowly, he pulled his hand back. It then went under his cloak, into a pocket where he felt for something. His fingers closed around it, gentle and soft. Pulling it back out, he gazed at it. he couldn't help but chuckle softly. It was a small square glass, no bigger than two inches wide and in height. Inside was a flower, pressed between the two sheets of glass. The petals were velvet blue, spread out and open.


Her face.


Her touch.


Her laugh.


Her smile.


Her tears.


[And we've been handed these moments forever]


"Hey there kid. Whatcha doin' out here so late, eh?"


This voice snapped him out of his little world. Whirling about, he stashed the treasure away with one hand while the other grabbed the sword hilt and swung it over his head and in front of him, ready to strike. Despite its heavy weight, he wielded it with great ease, moving as graceful as the wind itself.


"Whoa! Settle down there! I'm not gonna attack you."


"Show yourself," he demanded. His eyes narrowed; tense and prepared.


"All right, all right. Just lower that thing, jeez!" But he did not lower his sword. Instead, he waited. A torch that was stationed near the doors revealed the stranger as the newcomer walked closer. Or, to be more precise: glided toward him. Black smoke withered and twisted on the ground. Moving up, it was really to be a black toga over a deep, charcoal gray elbow length shirt with a pattern of triangles around the collar and sleeve ends. Ash gray skin, golden eyes and blue flames he assumed to be hair greeted him. A lazy smile curled across the stranger's features as his gold eyes fixed their beady stare on him. "Not one to trust people, are ya?"

Faces of his friends flashed in his mind for a brief moment causing him to tighten his grip on his weapon. "I avoid it whenever possible."

The newcomer chuckled, never breaking his stare. "I like you kid." he said after a moment. "That punch you did there was pretty impressive. So was the way you swung that sword around! Jeez, how much does that thing weigh anyway?" The bandages wrapped around the blade rustled in the breeze as silence fell for a brief time.


He answered, "Who are you?"


"Well mannered I see," said the stranger, his tone was dripping with sarcasm. But this was quickly dropped, as he held out his hand in a friendly gesture. "Name's Hades, Lord of the Underworld. Always ready to help out somebody if needed!"


He regarded him warily, never dropping his guard. "You help...with what?"


"Why, with anything you need! Anything between winning a race to finding your lost pet dog!" His voice was cheerful, but there was a sharpness to it that wasn't right. But what this guy said had struck him.


"You can find anything?"


"Anything pal! Why?" he then asked, drawing closer. "Lose something?"


Moving the sword up higher to stop him from coming closer, he replied, "What's your price?"


"Price? Oh nothing too big, really. I would just need you to sign a simple, little contract selling your soul to me for all eternity." Noticing his look, he quickly added, "I mean, c'mon! What do you need with your soul anyway? It hasn't done much except just hang around inside ya, you know? So, you need help with somethin?"
But he had already lowered his sword and turned away.


"Whoa there! Hang on a second!" Hades was instantly in front of him, holding his hands up. "Listen buddy, if you lost something, I can help you. Tell you what: you don't have sell your soul ya me. I'll just need you to do something for me..."


"What."


"Just a teensy, weensy little favor, that's all." Smirking, he explained, "You just take down this annoying guy named Hercules for me and I'll find that...whatever it is you're missin'."


"Why not take him down yourself?" he asked.


"You think I haven't already tried that?" Hades snapped, his hair rising and turning red for a second. But then it returned to blue as he closed his eyes and let out a deep breath. "Breath in, breath out...there, all better!" Snapping his fingers, Hades grinned. A scroll appeared before the blonde-haired man with a brush with its tip fresh with black ink. "I just need you to sign along the dotted line. Do that favor for me, and you'll find that something."


This Hades reeked with darkness, he could tell. He wasn't stupid. Going through with this was a terrible risk. He could just walk away and wander aimlessly through this world, searching for her...


"C'mon on now. Whatever you were doing before to find this thing wasn't working, right? I promise ya I won't let ya down."


The man stared at the contract. Was he really willing to step into the darkness freely?


"So...we got a deal?"


"It's a person, not a thing," was the response as the man took the brush and signed his name on the scroll. As soon as he finished, it disappeared in a puff of gray smoke, as did the writing tool. The scroll appeared in Hades hand, a satisfied smile on his face.


"Well now..." his eyes scanned the signature, "Cloud. Who is this lucky person you need to find?"



[But I'm reassured there's another way]



"Aerith. Her name is Aerith," Cloud said softly, lowering his eyes to fight back the tears that begged to fall freely. "My light..."



[You don't have to close your eyes]
[There is room for love again]



Standing underneath the bleachers, Cloud watched quietly. On the stone platform, three figures were fighting their hardest to pass through the series of Heartless beings thrown at them. Their struggle seemed to some-what interest him. Especially the boy.


As the boy ran to the side edge of the platform, panting, he had quickly used a Potion to regain his health. While doing this, Cloud studied his weapon. It was a bizarre looking one. It reminded him of a rather large key. But other than that, this match was simply for viewing. The boy ran back inside and cast a Thunder Spell, knocking out a Red Nocturne and two Blue Rhapsodies.


Suddenly, a Solider had crept up behind him, knocking the lad onto his back. Two more Red Nocturnes came at him and both shot Fire Balls at him. His team-mate, the one who was a duck in blue clothing, immediately noticed.


"Here Sora!" it shouted, throwing up a Potion. The potion then appeared over Sora, replenishing his health. Quickly scrambling to his feet, Sora whacked the solider rapidly and watched it be destroyed.


"Thanks Donald!" he shouted back with a grin.


Though they struggled, the group still continued to fight on and grow stronger. Cloud was no fool to realize the basis of their strength: their trust and friendship for each other.



[Ease the pain to realize all that love can be]



A small smile curled across his lips as memories of his own friends surfaced in his mind: Yuffie, Tifa, Barret, Aerith...
Her face.



[Forced apart by time and sand]



Swinging the blade around, he felt it connect with Sora's body, send him spiraling to the ground. To the right of him, Cloud saw out of the corner of his eye the one named Donald casting a Blizzard spell. At once he deflected it and shot across at high speed at the duck. Crying out, he swung the sword and hit Donald, knocking him across the arena.


He felt a Fire Ball connect with his back, causing him to stumble. Whirling about, it had been Sora. But the boy had already jumped up into the air and landing three aerial strikes on Cloud, before rolling away. Grunting, Cloud, shot at the boy and swung again.


He would not lose to this boy. Not with what was on the line. The sword connected once more and Cloud, without waiting for the boy to get up, struck him again. Sora cried out in pain. The other, Goofy, Cloud soon learned, came at Cloud and attempted to smack him with his shield. But Cloud lifted his sword in time to block it. Then whirling about in a full turn, the sword knocked Goofy into the nearest pillar, depleting nearly all of his health.


"Goofy!" shouted Sora in fear. Quickly digging out a Potion, he moved to use it. But no, Cloud would not let him. Shooting at him, Cloud successfully knocked Sora to the ground and wasting the Potion. This was his chance to finish off the boy and win the match.


Lifting the sword up, he brought it down with a painful crunch. Sora screamed but it was done. Cloud had won the match. But inside, he felt sick to his stomach. Hades was using him as toy, his puppet. He was forcing him to fight a boy innocence. Of light.


Light.


Her light.



[Take a step and take my hand]



Sitting outside the Coliseum, but the gates on the steps, he was infuriated with himself. After defeating the boy, Sora, he was unceremoniously knocked out by Hades three-headed mutt, Cerberus. It wasn't until after he woke up did he find out it was Hercules who rescued him. And it was Sora and his friends who had defeated the demon dog from the Underworld.


A part of him was relieved though. Glad that his contract with the Dead King's contract. Yet, at the same time, grief washed over him. His chance at finding Aerith had vanished. Flickered away as a candle in the vast darkness. He had let the darkness consume him. Because of this, he no longer could find a way to her light.

Not ever.


The sound of footsteps greeted his ears. Looking up, he was it was Sora and his friends. They appeared pleased and proud of themselves. It made Cloud sick, thinking that it was he who brutally beaten this boy of life.


But when Sora spoke to him this time, there was no anger or malice. Only wonder and respect. Cloud hid his smile.


[And don't let it go]


After teaching Sora the ability 'Sonic Blade', he got to his feet and walked past the group. When Sora had asked him for a fair rematch in the future, Cloud thought for a moment. But then, smiling to himself, he declined. He did not want to distract this boy from his mission. He already done enough to him. While he walked away, though, he felt a warm inside. A warmth that he hadn't felt in such a long time. It reminded him of her.
Her warmth.



[Never let go]



It had been weeks, possibly months, since the Cerberus incident. And Cloud was still on this world. Still wandering the sands of the ancient grounds of the Gods. Away from all of those he knew and loved. His only companion was darkness. Abandonment. Cold. Sitting alone in the arena, he watched the Tournaments occurring. Still the Heartless continued to infest and plague this world. Their darkness swallowing the light. How he craved to see and hold the light once.


But then his eyes widened as he recognized the cry coming from the arena.


It was the boy of light.


Sora.


[Broken, once connected]


Quiet, silent.


He felt awkward aboard their ship. At the helm was Sora, piloting the Gummi Ship while Donald and Goofy remained with him. The trip to a world called 'Traverse Town' was going along smoothly. No Heartless ships were in site. Cloud could only assume that Sora had defeated them with this ship. But how? They were so strong. So powerful. So...dark. But all he could really think about was his light. His Aerith. Finally, he would be able to see her again.
His light.



[We were so strong and so blessed in a simple way]


Reaching inside the folds of his cloak, he again took out the pressed flower. Staring at it, he lightly traced the petals with his finger. He could just faintly feel her warmth. Her flower was all he had of her. His last connection to her. Suddenly, he felt the ship slowing down. It was minutes before Sora came to him, smiling.


"We're here!" he stated. "I'm sorry, but we can't stay to help you find her. You understand, right?" Cloud nodded, standing up. "But don't worry, you won't be alone too long down there. I'm sure Leon or Yuffie can help you!"


Yes, those two. He remembered how happy Yuffie was to see him alive at the Coliseum. The ninja girl practically tackled him while the man, Leon, simply watched in amusement. He and Leon had teamed up to fight Sora in the Hades Cup Tournament. He wasn't alone anymore.



[So don't let me go it alone]



His boots clicked against the stone ground of the world. He looked around, feeling out of place suddenly. All around him people were bustling about, popping in and out stores, shops and restaurants. Night had fallen on this world, the torches and lamps lit. Carefully he crossed to the stone steps leading to a shop. Around him, people stared but said nothing, quickly hurrying back to whatever they were doing.


Pushing the door open, he entered inside. At the counter stood a blonde-haired man. When he looked a Cloud, his expression seemed puzzled and startled, but the guy said nothing. Cloud moved towards him, halting in front of the counter.


"Can I help ya?" asked the man.


"I'm looking for somebody..." Cloud said quietly. "Maybe you can help me?"


"I can try, but then again, I don't know everybody here in Traverse."


"Her name is Aerith. I was told that she was here."


"Hm, Aerith?" The man leaned his elbows against the counter, chewing on the toothpick between his teeth, deep in thought. After a few seconds, he straightened back up, shrugging. "Yeah, I know her. But I don't know exactly where she is. You might wanna check the Second or Third District."


"Thanks."


Just as Cloud turned to leave, the guy asked, "Who told ya about her anyway?"


"A kid, named Sora."


The man smiled. "Well, good luck. You must be a pretty good guy if you know Sora."


Cloud hid his grimace. No he wasn't, but he didn't tell him that. Instead, he left the shop without another word. Once he stepped out, he sighed, putting his hands in his pockets and turned his gaze to the night sky. Each star...each world twinkled down at him, winking as if to say they knew something he didn't.



[Turn your head up to the sky]



Shaking his head, he wandered around the First District and then opening a door to the Third District and searching everywhere. There was every person imaginable there, except for his light. He even visited a magician named Merlin, seeking his help. But the great sorcerer could only give him this answer: "Fear not, you will find her soon! Just stop looking for her and she will be found!"


To be honest, he found Merlin to be somewhat of a crackpot fool.

 

[Nothing down below but me]



Everywhere he searched. She was nowhere to be seen, as the same it was with the Second District. Every single room in the Hotel was occupied, but not by her. He had even remembered Leon telling him of the Secret Waterway. But it was void of any life, except for the fireflies. With every minute that passed, he felt his hope diminish more and more. He would never find his light.



[Face the truth to realize all that we could be]



Hours had past until he found himself sitting on the steps of the First District once more. By now the people had gone home. No one was around. Well, only the fireflies and their warm light. Cold breezes blew by, ruffling his cloak and hair. Fingers interlacing each other, he rested his elbows on his knees as he rested his closed hands against his mouth and stared off into space. Occasionally, a firefly would fly in close, hovering for a few moments before flying off. And in those few moments, Cloud would feel their warmth.


Her warmth.



[Torn apart by rage and fear]
[Hold onto what brought you here]



Groaning, he closed his eyes. It was hopeless. He had looked everywhere, but Aerith was nowhere. Sora's kindness had been nothing more than a waste of hope. He had traveled all the way to this world to be greeted by no one. His hope still struggled to surface, but the darkness of his sorrow and despair was beating it down. It was pointless to continue the search. He would never see her face or feel her warmth. He had to let everything go and be consumed by his own darkness.


[Don't let it go]
[Never let go]


Suddenly, a firefly was hovering right in front of his face, between his eyes. Blinking, he looked at it. Astonishingly, it settled on his nose, buzzing softly. Cloud wrinkled his nose, trying to get it off. It did but almost immediately landed right back on the tip of his nose. Raising his hand, he pushed it away, grunting in annoyance. But again it settled back down.


"Persistent little bug, aren't you?" Cloud muttered as he wiped it away once more. Again it came back. Now he was getting annoyed. "Why won't you stop it?" he grunted, whacking it away. This time, it stayed in the air and rose up. He followed it and watched it vanish, blending with the other stars in the sky.


[Turn your head up to the sky]


"Finally gave up," Cloud said to himself. His nose, however, felt strangely cold. The warmth of the firefly had lingered briefly, before vanishing completely. In those few moments, though he wanted it off his nose, he felt at peace; almost happy. As if it had been her with him instead of...
At once he climbed to his feet, watching the fireflies as he did. He wasn't going to give up, not like the little firefly. He wanted the warmth of his light. His hope was slowly rising once more as he turned, his cape moving with him, and hurried up the stone steps. He didn't know where he was going, but something deep down inside was leading him.


[Nothing down below but me]


His boots clacked against the stones. Grunting, he pushed the doors to the Second District open and turned to the left, racing across the cobblestone walk. Then, at last second, he leapt over the side and landed cat-like on the ground. The entrance to the Alley was there, in which he took.



[Face the truth to realize all that we could be]



The water splashed around him. Once more he practically ripped off his cloak and sword, throwing it to the side. Splashing through the entrance to the Secret Underway passage, he dove in as soon as the water grew too deep for him to run. His heart was racing rapidly, feeling himself grow warm inside. Why he was going here again, eh did not know. Already he had checked it thoroughly for her, but she wasn't there. But it felt as though it was calling to him. As if she was calling.


[Turn your head to the sky]
[Nothing down below]



Climbing out of the water, he stood their in the darkened room, soaked to the bone, shivering. The only lights were the torches and the fireflies. Again fireflies. Slowly, he walked across the place, watching everything with his sharp eyes. There was no one. The only sounds were his feet and the water dripping from him.
It was bitter and freezing there. He wrapped his arms around himself, rubbing them and trying to keep warm. But it was hard: it felt as though the water was freezing on his skin. And to be honest, he wouldn't have been surprised. It was night and the temperatures always dropped to freezing temps. Sighing, he sat down heavily, resting his back against a wall. He felt vulnerable without his sword. But it couldn't be helped: it would have weighed him down like it did the first time he came here searching. He chuckled, remembering how he struggled to keep a float with the ton-weight sword pulling him.


Leaning his head back, he closed his eyes and sighed. He needed a nap. Badly.



[Don't let it go]


Without realizing it, he had drifted off to sleep. He didn't know this until he had opened his eyes, blinking sleepily. Lifting hand, he covered his mouth as he yawned rather loudly. Lifting his arms over his head, he stretched, groaning. It was then, however, he noticed that something had their head resting on his lap. Blinking in surprise, he studied the face. He held his breath, eyes widening. Ever so gently, he gently brushed away a mass of brown hair away from the face.


Her face.


Sleeping soundly, she was curled against him, using his lap as a pillow. The fireflies' glow illuminated her gentle face. He traced her, as though to confirm that it wasn't a dream. But it wasn't. It was her.


Her warmth.


She stirred. Holding his breath, he watched her. Very slowly, her eyes opened. Long lashes framed her crystal eyes as she blinked and shifted. She looked up at him and a smile passed over her face. Reaching up, her hand rested against his cheek and leaned into her touch, closing his eyes.


Her touch.


Her smile.


When he opened them once more, he noticed sparkles in her eyes.


Her tears.


"...would you like to buy a flower sir?" she then asked, her voice soft and quiet. Cloud fought back a laugh as he struggled with his tears. He so much wanted to throw his arms around her, embrace her. But for some reason, his body wanted to do no such thing. Instead, he enjoyed the weight on his lap, her hand on his cheek. Carefully, he covered her hand with his and smiled lovingly at her. He found no words worthy of this moment. Silence would do just fine.



[Never let go]

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