Lost in the Shadows

Prologue

Disclaimer: I do not own FF7 and its characters, settings or the like. These words, however, are mine.


Eight figures stood on the edge of a deep and dark crater, a forever living memory of the struggle of the Planet. The eight had done all they could to save the Planet from the psychopath, Sephiroth, but this moment was the one to decide their fate. The wind gently caressing their faces and the faint green glow of the earth around them went completely unnoticed to them all; their eyes were for a sight hopefully never to be seen again.

Meteor.

Holy.

Holy had created what looked like a shimmering white barrier over Meteor's striking target; Midgar. Barret's curses mixed with the gasps of the rest of Avalanche were heard, when time seemed to have stopped; for a moment, it looked as though Meteor wasn't going to move any further, but it soon began to plunge onwards, vaporizing Holy.

Soon, it was swallow up Midgar.

"Holy is having the opposite effect!" Nanaki growled, falling stance conveying his rage and helplessness.

"Dammit, you foo', why? Fuck!" Barret snapped back at him.

Nobody had an answer to his question. Avalanche found themselves staring at the mass of destructive material plunging down faster now that Holy had been decimated. Tifa fell to her knees and tears streamed down her cheeks. Cloud moved to comfort her, but halted when he saw parts of the earth split open in various places.

"What the... What is that?" Cloud said, motioning towards green spirals flowing upwards out of the cracks and crevices that suddenly surrounded them. Everyone turned their attention to the anomalies and stood baffled by the sight.

"Is that not the the Lifestream?" Nanaki asked aloud, more to himself then the others standing around him.

Everyone looked at him for a moment, understanding dawning on their faces, before turning back to see what effect the Lifestream would have on Meteor. The huge mass of rock and storm seemed to stop in its place for a moment, though it looked like it was battling to move forward to further destroy Midgar. Holy was holding it back.

Suddenly, a bigger burst of the Lifestream seeped out of the cracks and crevices, coming together to surround Meteor. A flash of blinding white light caused the members of Avalanche to turn away and shield their eyes.

And then a ringing silence filled their ears.

Hesitantly, Avalanche turned back around. Shocked gasps mixed with cries of relief and joy escaped them.

Meteor and Holy had completely vanished. The Lifestream was slowly flowing back into the earth, the cracks and crevices slowly closing. It was finally finished... Meteor, Sephiroth, Holy...

It was all over.

Tifa and Yuffie were hugging each other and crying hysterically, but not without happiness. Cid, Barret and Cloud were all clapping each others shoulders and laughing to themselves. Nanaki sat on his haunches, quietly as ever while Cait pranced around the airship, occasionally running into things. Vincent stood alone in a corner of the ship.

Everyone turned their eyes toward him, smiling slyly at each other only moments after. They lunged at him and Vincent's eyes widened as he realized what was about to happen. They succeeded in knocking both him and themselves to the ground after pouncing on him in one great leap and everyone, not excluding Vincent to everyone's great surprise, started to laugh or hug each other.

They stood after the moment of complete and utter silliness and formed a circle facing each other.

"Well, we've done it guys. We did what we thought would be impossible. We saved the Planet..." Cloud started, suddenly trailing off. "Though, this means we'll be going our separate ways..." He looked wistfully at everyone before continuing on, "But, I want us all to stay in touch with each other and get together as often as possible! I think it's pretty accurate to say... We've all become more then friends... We're basically our own really mixed up family." A few of them laughed sadly at the last statement.

"Well..." said Tifa, "I guess everyone should start thinking about where they want to be dropped off, right?" She looked to Cid. "I hope it won't be too much trouble -- to drop us all off, I mean."

"Never trouble, Tif." He sighed. "But you all better figure out where the hell you wanna go, 'cause I ain't waitin' all fucking day!" Everyone laughed.

"Hey! Spiky-boy! Where's my Materia?" Yuffie spoke up, grinning wildly. "I only came on this journey 'cause you promised!" Sighs were heard and everyone walked away from her. "H-hey! Where do you think you're goin'?" She said, running after Cloud's retreating form.


Later into the night, after almost everyone had been dropped off at their respective towns, one of the only two people left could be found leaning against the railing outside the Highwind, looking at the stars and singing a soft melody.

"What's up, Tif?" Asked a familiar voice. Cloud watched as Tifa jumped in surprise and turned to face him. "Sorry." He scratched the back of his head sheepishly.

"Oh, Cloud... I was just thinking about how Aerith should be here..." She trailed off, sighing and lowering her head. She turned back around and looked at the stars once more. "I mean... She saved us all Cloud. She has every right, even more then us, to be here, but..." She stopped as she felt tears sting her eyes. "It isn't right."

She started when she felt Cloud's arms slide around her waist, but she lay back against him, closing her eyes and savoring what might very well be the only time Cloud would ever show her any sort of affection like he was now.

"I wonder... If she can hear me..." Tifa said, barely audible enough for Cloud to hear, though he did. "I'm sorry Aerith..." She sighed after a moment and turned to face Cloud. "Let's get back inside... We need to get our things ready." She smiled at him and when he smiled back, she took his hand and led the way into the Highwind.

Little did she know, Aerith had heard her and many surprising things were going to be happening only too soon, turning all of Avalanche's lives upside down all over again.