Disclaimer and Author's Note: FF7:AC is not mine. I haven't even seen it yet. I have, however, seen the trailer featured on the Steamboy DVD. This trailer poses a question--why is Cloud fighting again?

"Is it for the children? For a memory? Or...is it for himself?"

This story was inspired by those questions, and it's my opinion of Cloud's answer.

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This Isn't For Them

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They hope I'm doing this for the children. That I'm hunting and hurting and causing so much destruction--that I'm using these powers He gave me for those little lives that are being lost every day. They hope I'm doing this for the children.

I know better. The loss of these children is painful, watching them fade away a little more each day while we--we, of all people--remain clean. While the filthiest of the human race remain untainted by this filth, the cleanest are sullied. The innocents are made dirty, and the murderers are viewed as clean.

So many lost, so many dead.

But this isn't for them.

The others think I'm probably doing this for my memories, for Aerith and Zack, for everything we did those long two years ago. They think that, maybe, I'm doing this for Sephiroth. for the vengeance I might never have been allowed to taste. They're all wrong. I don't hate Sephiroth, not anymore. I'm ashamed by His weakness, and by mine--both of us broke so easily to that rusted power that was Jenova, we both fell without more than a moment of opposition. He was the strongest man the world had ever seen, and He broke just as quickly as the weakest. He broke just as easily as I did.

So it's not for a memory. It's not for the chaotic mess that is my past. It's not for any of that.

For the first time in my life, I'm not doing this for anything, anyone, except myself. I'm fighting and killing for me, because I want to know that I'm capable of fighting without Zack whispering advice in my head or Sephiroth taunting me from the sidelines. That I can kill without having a nervous breakdown when I see the blood on my hands.

I'm a Clone, numbered or not, and I have power equalling His. Blue energy crackles at my command and with a swing of my sword it can strike down a dozen men. But these men--these children that are the remaining Clones--are not struck down by my power. For the first time since Sephiroth, since I awoke to this power sleeping inside me, I have a challenge to face.

When I think of it, I can't help but smile. The merest thought makes a flavor rise in my mouth, electricty and happiness, power and anxiety. This power I'm using isn't Zack's, these skills aren't things I stole from him. They aren't even Sephiroth's, not anymore. I don't care if Hojo gave them to me--they're mine. I'm using my power for my purposes.

For the first time in my life, I'm using my power for myself.

Screw the Planet, the children, the Clones.

This battle is mine, and I'm keeping it for myself. Just this once, something is mine.

All mine.

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End

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