EPILOGUE

The groan to the side went silent as the captive was pummeled into submission. The tranquillizer wore off sooner than expected, which didn't bother Cloud in the least as he continued to barrage the con with a punch after a punch. Once Rufus stopped moving, the warrior returned his attention to the road and the jeep he burrowed from Reeve. Around the bend, Cloud released a long, held breath as Nibelhiem was still standing.

Cloud couldn't help but smile as he slung Rufus over his shoulder as he left the jeep, being swarmed by his friends and comrades from AVALANCHE. Barret slapped the warrior on the back as Cid patted him on the shoulder. Red just smiled and nodded while Vincent leaned against the well, not making a move. Finally, Tifa approached, carrying some cloth with a stonewall expression on her face.

"I'm happy to see you all are safe. Bahamut ZERO was on its way to destroy the town and I thought—"

"It almost did," Tifa interrupted weakly, looking to Vincent for support which she knew she wouldn't get. "I saw Bahamut ZERO or at least I saw its Terra Flare in the air. I don't know what happened but I found this after a large explosion lit the sky."

As she began to remove the cloth, the entire AVALANCHE became wide eyed as they saw a severed arm holding Masamune in a death grip. The sight sent a vision or more like a memory into the warrior's head. It felt so real, as the last moments of Sephiroth's life appeared before the warrior. There was no regret in the general's face as he shoved his sword into ZERO's jaw, causing the beast to self-destruct by its own breath weapon. The vision lasted but a moment, yet it had Cloud reeling. Tifa looked up, confused.

Taking the arm in hand, the warrior, for the first time, thought perhaps he was wrong about Sephiroth. Perhaps it wasn't how you were born but rather how you grew up that made you who you are. It killed the warrior, feeling the way he felt at that moment. He should've known that the general would sacrifice himself for people he didn't even know, even if Sephiroth had so much more Jenova cells in his body than he did. Cloud was the perfect example that being different didn't mean you should be ill towards those around you.

Nonchalantly did the warrior sling the sword over his other shoulder before taking his final leg of his mission. AVALANCHE followed, still lost over what's been happening. Anytime Cloud opened his mouth, everyone expected he would explain but it either came out as a yawn or a sigh. The rift grew beyond the limit he thought it could but the warrior needed this finished and quickly.

"Cid, get me over it," Cloud instructed, fearing the tear was still burrowing into the earth.

The captain would've preferred to jump over with the con alone and drop him high from the ground for what he did to his precious Highwind but he followed his friend's instructions. With a single grab and unfathomable leap, the captain easily got all three over the two dimensional tear. Landing gently on the ground, Cid pulled out a cigarette and lit up while turning his back to Cloud. If his friend couldn't close the rift, the captain wanted at least one more smoke before it all ended.

With a nod, Cloud entered the rift, exiting on the other side in a split second later as if he stepped through air. Everyone he left behind in the second world awaited him. Chatting amongst themselves in two groups; Professor Gast, Ifalna, Lucrecia and Aeris were off to the side discussing someway to better the world while Detective Valentine, Colonel DeAnthony and Zack stood before the rift, wondering how they could be of some help even though time was about up. Everyone went silent as Cloud exited the tear.

"One Rufus Shinra for you," Cloud coolly said, dropping the con to the stone without a care. "Can you close the rift now?"

"Yes," Ifalna replied, taking the Time materia from Cloud. "Since he is here, I can channel his spirit through the stone and seal the rift."

Turning his attention to more emotional matters, the warrior noticed a passive feature on Detective Valentine's face, showing Cloud without a doubt that the detective was Vincent's double. The warrior knew the detective was on edge. Perhaps because there has been no sign of his son or the fact that he held Masamune over his shoulder that disturbed him.

"I'm sorry, my friend but Sephiroth isn't coming home," Cloud paused and handed Detective Valentine the legendary blade with his son's arm still gripping the handle. "He died a hero, saving my friends and my old hometown. No. He died saving both worlds."

Those words meant nothing to the distressed Lucrecia. With a wail, she leapt into her husband arms, which Vincent moved Masamune just before she would hurt herself and she began to weep in her husband's shoulder. Professor Gast, Ifalna, and Aeris were saddened but kept their posture for the rift was more important than any one man's life and that included a legendary hero. Meanwhile, Zack shook his head, believing that it couldn't be possible to kill Sephiroth while Colonel DeAnthony put on a strong front, thinking that his friend chose his fate but deep inside, he was in as much pain as his friend's parents.

The reactions from them all didn't surprise the warrior, not anymore. They all felt a great loss, no different when Cloud's friends lost Aeris and he knew their hearts were not misplaced.

"How?" Colonel DeAnthony asked.

"Rufus captured a powerful summon materia and commanded the creature to annihilate Nibelhiem. Sephiroth wouldn't allow it. He rode the beast, killed it and in doing so, sacrificed his life for everyone," Cloud replied, turning his eyes to the blade, Masamune in Detective Valentine's hand. "I think Sephiroth would've liked you to have Masamune, Colonel DeAnthony."

With that said, the warrior moved to Aeris with purpose. He wanted to embrace her, to hold her, to finally say good-bye but Cloud stopped in front of her. This experience with this world's Sephiroth taught him that to say good-bye to this Aeris would be pointless for the friend he lost was not her and this Aeris's wise words held great merits to him.His Aeris was gone but Cloud believed honestly that his Aeris knew how he felt and never could such a wonderful person, dead or alive, could ever think of Cloud as nothing less than a kind hearted soul.

"Take care of Zack. You two truly belong together," Cloud whispered to Aeris. Before she could reply, her father called out, "Cloud Strife, you got to get going. We're closing the rift."

Hearing Gast's statement, Cloud knew his time was limited and so being satisfied that he said all he needed to say, he sprinted right to the edge of the tear. Spinning around, Cloud waved to the shadows of his past, silently wishing them the best. Zack and DeAnthony gave the warrior a solute while Ifalna and Aeris waved back. Gast and Detective Valentine nodded as Lucrecia couldn't even turn around from her grief. With a little smile, Cloud nodded, leaving this world behind him, forevermore.

As the warrior exited, Cid still had his back turned, smoking his cigarette. It seemed the pilot never noticed Cloud and as he took a deep drag, Cloud snuck up and slapped his friend on the back. The smoke that filled Cid's lungs burst out from that single crack as the wind was completely knocked out of the pilot, sending him to his knees and into a coughing fit. A sound from behind had Cloud spinning. In a blink of an eye, the rift was simply gone.


Only Tifa, Reeve and Red joined Cloud later that day in the town of Mideel, where the last bit of business needed to be settled. The fissure in the earth continued to spout Mako from its wound. It was questionable to Cloud. Did he collect all the materia in the entire world? Was the materia in his hand the last? The moment of truth lied before him. With a flick of his wrist, the summon materia fell and immediately was engulfed in the Mako with a splash.

In moments, the Mako brightened a brilliant white and slowly faded to a thick black and red color. The hole immediately began to warm the area surrounding it as the liquid flowed below the group. Not a sign of Mako was seen.

"What the heck is that?" Reeve asked his redfang friend.

"That, Reeve, is the true physical entity of the Lifestream. Its molted rock called magma or you could call it lava. Truly a spectacle, for I never knew I would witness lava instead of Mako. Cloud, you did it," Red finished and turned to Cloud only to turn his head back to the flow of molten rock.

Surprisingly, even to Tifa, Cloud spun her around and held her tightly in a strong embrace, kissing her deeply and passionately. At first, Tifa was shocked and didn't respond, which made Cloud loosen his hold as if he done something wrong. But as his closeness was slipping away, that long awaited touch, Tifa jumped onto Cloud while wrapping her arms around the warrior's neck, giving him and equally delightful kiss.

In that moment, Cloud relieved himself of all the sins that was or was not his own. He appreciated Tifa's patience's for waiting for him and that in itself, made the warrior wanting never again to make her wait. As he grew, more in the last week than his entire life, Cloud came to realize that the past simply makes you who you are but the future is what you make of it. Life is far too short for what ifs or regrets, so Cloud held Tifa even closer, silently promising never to let her go, for there maybe no tomorrow. From that day forth, Cloud swore to take the day as his own and to enjoy it with all of those he held dear, sealing the rift in his heart.

Author Note: I would like to take this time to thank those who made "Rift Between Worlds" possible. Thanks to Nistelle and her inspirational story, "The Grace of God," which made me come up with this story. I would like to thank Daryl Falchion for giving me the encouragement to finish this, when at times, seemed too much of a hassle to bother. Thank you to my one and only reviewer at this time, Fifielicity for the input and enjoying the story. And finally, to all of you who is reading this and finished "Rift Between Worlds." I really hoped you enjoyed yourselves.