Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VII is property of Square-Enix.

Foreword: This was formerly "Imperceptible Perceptions" but I didn't like where it was heading after the third chapter and so I decided to condense the work and go for something different. Sorry in advance for those who were enjoying all the chapters. I apologize. Cloud's chapter hasn't changed.


'Black or White'

Cloud

I am the light.

Or… so I thought I was. Perhaps this light's fading.

Disillusioned with reality. A forefront of complexity. A web of intricate lies and embellishments.

Here I am and here I stand amongst my peers, drawing them all in. Like a leech sucking on its precious supply line of blood.

I'm to be judged, examined, ridiculed, praised and deceived. I'm to be loved and hated, despised at times, adored during others.

As I sit here, mesmerized by the hypnotic orange and yellow hues of the flames, I ponder.

I ponder what it's like for one day, to be a legend.

For exactly one day, what is it like to be on top of the world? What is it like, to be at the center of attention on a grand scale? Would you succumb to the overwhelming desire to simply fade into mediocrity? Would the immense amount of pressure weigh you down into submission?

Would the spirit of Cloud Strife cave and give in?

At times, I wonder. I wonder but I realize that I am the anchor that holds this ship together and prevents it from sinking. I know this. I know that not even for one second, am I given the simple luxury of being able to second guess and question my motives, my goals, my ultimate mission and quest.

I'm here and I'm now.

I'm on the cusp of doing something great. I can feel it. I can feel it but I have to hold myself. Can't give in to temptation now. Can't give in to desire, to lust, to cowardice, to indolence. I can't give in to any inferior inhibition.

As I look across the flames. I spot Tifa on one side and Aeris on the other. Both separated by a degree of thought.

They don't know it. They don't know that I realize what's apparently going on.

To think that they believe me to be the dense one. The thick headed fool completely oblivious to his surroundings.

It's a lie. A façade I put up to protect myself from the potential emotional complexities that would surely come from being too personally attached.

No. Don't get too attached. Let it happen and you'll find judgment to be impaired. Your decisions no longer seamlessly precise and calculating. Your own words no longer as daunting or powerful. Your lack of command apparent and your respect diminishing. For to let that happen, would constitute you admitting to weakness.

With a set goal in hand, you have to absolutely dedicate every inch of breath into the task at hand. No exceptions. No side rules. No unnecessary distractions.

I'm ridden with guilt. Guilt from the past. Inevitable guilt as a result of the unforeseeable future.

I've let too many down. My hometown. My mother. Zack. Sephiroth. Tifa to an extent.

Nibelheim burnt to a crisp and a shadow of its former self. Rising from despair, my hometown is a synthetic joke. A re-crafted work of art in the hands of the despicable Shinra. A toy that has been remodeled and forged, shaped to a faceless company's needs, its past and history stripped bare, leaving it naked to the internal eye.

My mother was taken mercilessly without consent, without approval and worst of all, without warning. She was my last blood and she went before the rage of scientific creation. Defenseless.

Zack was perhaps the only person I've ever befriended genuinely. He was fascinating, appreciating me for who I was, neglecting my shortcomings and praising instead criticizing. Encouraging instead of degrading. Striving to help instead of abuse. A true role model. I failed you. For all your strengths, your courage, determination, it was your blind trust and faith in another that led to your demise. I'm sorry old friend. I'm sorry for not being able to do more. For being unable to have you here by my side, aiding me. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

Sephiroth why? What happened to you? You were the greatest there ever was and possibly will be. An epitome of perfection. A true legend. Why Sephiroth? Why did you succumb? Was it to the pressure? Was it for fear of being far greater than you imagined? A living nightmare. That is you. Can you hear me Sephiroth? You are my negative. I will balance it all out and return things to place. Hopefully. I'm not afraid. I embrace it.

Tifa as I look at you through the flames, I see all I need to see. I see your pain. I see your imperfections. I see your beauty and your unwavering optimism. But it's all for naught Tifa. You don't have to lie to me. You're not as strong as you appear. You need a pillar of support. I don't know if it can be me anymore Tifa. I failed. I failed you as I did with the others. When you give me that look out of the corner of your eye, I see it. I see it just as I see and feel all the other looks from everyone else. Your subtle hints, your body language, your messages. I can read them all.

But Tifa, I'm sorry.

I'm sorry I can't be there for you anymore. I can't simply sacrifice my purpose for your needs. Understand that I wish I could do more but I have to focus solely on my task.

Aeris, I'm sorry for the very same reason. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for any upcoming moments when I may let you down.

I'm sorry.

You both need to understand that this is not time for trivial romance. No time for simple or complex infatuations. No time for attachment.

No.

I am an army of one. I am Cloud Strife and I will do what I do best. I will bring down my opposite. I will open the gates and flood the area with light, as dim as it may be. It's been far too long that the darkness has resided within.