I have finally come to the end of FF-Online. It has been long and fun-filled, but alas, the end must come sooner or later!
Before I start, I want to say a big slushy Oscar-award-inspired 'Thank you' to everyone who put in some fabulous suggestions, and to all those who reviewed and made this whole thing worthwhile writing. I've enjoyed every bit of it.
Please note that in this Epilogue there are some "in-jokes", i.e. references to previous chapters and prologue that you will not find the slightest bit funny or even significant if you have not read this thing from the very start. You will kill the fun for yourself unless you've read at least the first chapter.
You have been warned.
So bye-bye for now, my friends, and enjoy! ;-)
For a moment, Cloud simply sat back in his chair and gazed nonchalantly at the computer screen. Trying his best to let the morning's events seep into his still-not-quite-awake mind, he slowly rose from his seat and shuffled lazily towards the kitchen. Perhaps he would make a coffee or something... Anything containing copious amounts of caffeine.
As Cloud entered the kitchen, his senses were rudely awakened by a strong waft of what had to be a particularly flowery type of perfume.
Hmm… he thought suspiciously. Eau de KleptoNinja.
Trying hard to breathe through his mouth to avoid the over-sweet stench of teenage girls, Cloud filled the coffee machine and turned it on. He paused. Black today, I think.
He leant back on the counter, listening to Tifa humming melodiously to something crap on the radio. The sun looked very nice today…
"WE LOVE YOU, HOJO!"
All of a sudden, something ugly wearing a filthy lab-coat flew past the kitchen window uttering yells of terror. Cloud took a double take before seeing an enormous, raucous wave of hot pink and high-pitched commotion hurtling along in Hojo's wake, too fast for Cloud to make out. But he suspected – by the noise it was making – that it was a large army of materia-influenced fan girls.
They also seemed to be followed very swiftly behind by a sort of... mad red blur.
"Haha! Let's see you deal with THIS, flea magnet!"
Something gold was flung past the window.
Cloud sought to get a mug from the shelf, but was distracted by the commotion and opened the window instead.
Peering around at the foam-covered debris that was beginning to accumulate along with the increasing metres of pink toilet roll, Cloud soon recognised the tall, grinning, crimson-clad figure striding triumphantly along nearby.
"Hey Vincent!" Cloud called. "Over here!"
"Ah, good 'morrow to thee, Cloud!" Vincent bellowed, his eyes glinting with joy as he jogged over to Cloud's window.
This sure was a sight to behold. The formerly solemn statue of a man was now standing tall and proud; his cheeks flushed a mild yet extremely uncharacteristic tinge of red. Cloud took it into account that Vincent's barmy grin and perfect white teeth would be a priceless image that was never to be forgotten.
"I see you're enjoying yourself." Cloud said optimistically as Vincent leaned casually on the windowsill.
Vincent merely grinned wider.
"Erm…" Cloud glanced at the man's left arm. "Where's your scary brass claw thing?"
"Lodged in Hojo's right ass cheek." Vincent replied conversationally.
"Oh." Cloud feigned a cheery smile to cover his growing sense of wariness. "Well well… caught back by his own creation, huh? Heh heh…"
"Here's a bit of gossip for you…" Vincent leaned in next to Cloud's ear, but suddenly brandished something black, hairy and thoroughly hideous into the air in front of him.
Cloud yelped in horror and stumbled backwards. "WHAT IN THE HECK IS THAT?"
Vincent smirked darkly. "Incriminating evidence that Hojo went prematurely bald."
"Oh…" Cloud squeaked, clutching at his thudding heart and staring in horror at the revolting wig. "…Dear Lord."
"Well, I must be off." Vincent straightened up, starting to walk away. "Toodloo, lad – have a fabulous day. Dum-de-dum… DID I TELL YOU GIRLS TO STOP PUTTING MAKE-UP ON THE GREASY PERVERT? BRING OUT THAT LIPSTICK!"
Cloud stood inattentively next to the window, feeling inwardly rather miffed that none of this was caught on camera.
I wonder where that thing's gone…
Cloud pranced - swearing, soaking wet and very cold - around the kitchen.
Cloud was nearly blinded by what had to be said camera.
He picked up the offending contraption from beside the microwave and looked at the photo it was producing. Arms in the air, mouth wide open, face screwed up in indignation… Pyjamas saturated...
Great. Another one for Tifa's Sick Demented Photo Album of Doom and Humiliation.
Cloud sought to answer the door and slid rather un-gracefully on the remains of the water balloon, his backside colliding painfully with the cheap lino floor.
"Ow… My butt…"
"I'm coming!" Cloud yelled, scrambling to his feet and running across the living room, attempting to dodge overturning bags of feathers hanging from the ceiling, as he went. But he was not so fortunate on one occasion, and soon found himself covered.
Spitting white fluffy plumage from out his mouth as he went, Cloud rushed to the door and wrenched it open.
"ARGH, CRAP!" he yelled as his view of the visitor was abruptly blocked by a cascade of tiny white polystyrene balls.
"Sucker!" giggled Yuffie, sprinting away holding at least five rather flat Beanie-Babies.
Pulling assorted debris and remnants of purple water balloon out of his hair, Cloud froze as he recognised the tall, leather-clad figure standing bewildered on the doorstep.
"Sephiroth?" Cloud mumbled, a feather flying out of his mouth.
The graceful silver-haired man continued staring in awkward perplexity at him. "Hmm… Bad time?"
"No, of course not…" Cloud mumbled, brushing himself off uneasily. "Why?"
Sephiroth scratched his head and glanced around. "Well, I was just wondering…"
"Uh…" Sephiroth continued, "I just wondered… If you, well…"
"Go on…" Cloud prompted.
Sephiroth shuffled his feet uncomfortably. "If you… well, if you… you know, meant… what you said-"
"About me falling madly in love with you?"
"Something like that."
"Uh… Yeah, I did."
"…I KNEW IT!" yelled someone manically from around the corner of the house, who on inspection was quite clearly Kadaj; his two brothers close at hand. Loz guffawed stupidly from behind Yazoo.
All three were sent screaming down the road as Cloud grabbed his buster sword out of nowhere and flung it rapidly in their direction.
"So…" Cloud said quietly. He then looked with sudden longing at Sephiroth's partly-bared chest and soft, flowing hair… So smooth and silvery… "Uh, you were saying?"
"Well…" muttered Sephiroth. "I just wanted to make sure, because… You know, I love you too… sort of thing."
Cloud's eyebrows raised in surprise. "…Oh. I see."
There came a long, discomfited silence.
Cloud glanced at the doormat, then back up at his former nemesis. "…Coffee?"
And so, the two of them entered the soggy, feathery house; escaping the chaotic site of Operation Bubbles.
…It was then – just as the new couple discarded said coffee idea and moved romantically towards each other for what was seemingly to be a profoundly erotic Yaoi moment – that Cloud's computer exploded.
For a while he stared unblinkingly at the smoking, sooty wreckage of what used to be the new PC, then took Sephiroth's hand and headed calmly towards the nearest bedroom.
Tifa soon appeared at the doorway, gasping in horror at the sight of the explosion. "Good grief! What happened?"
"I fixed the blender." Cloud muttered, before shutting the bedroom door on the detonated living room.