Wow, it's been a really long time since I wrote anything for this story. I've just been super busy and my laptop broke. I was rereading some of the chapters I have from before and some of the parts were just awful. The mood and everything was just not good, but I'm too lazy to go and fix it right now. So, it's just gonna stay like that for now. This is kind of more of an informational chapter, so I apoligize for that.
I heard myself let out a groan as I attempted to sit up. Why did it seem like I was always getting knocked unconsious while I was here? I was really beginning to grow tired of it. Not one single time, except for during the accident of course, had I ever passed out, but here it was beginning to become somewhat of a daily occurence. One that I could'nt say I was enjoying. The light in the room was bright, and more than anything I just wanted to lay back down and fall asleep, even if it was just to remove the throbbing pain of my head. Seriously, I had one of the worst headaches I had even experienced, but I knew that I had to wake up. Who knew what time it was or even where I was.
Where was I anyway? My eyes were finally beginning to adjust to the light and I realized it was a ray of sunlight shining throught the window that was causing it. I sat up, obviously a bit too fast because I felt like I was about to fall back down again. You know that feeling when everything starts to go black? Yeah, that's what happened.
A quick glance around the room determined that there was no one else in there with me. They hadn't all decided to leave me agian had they? I forced myself to get up out of the bed and walk over to the window. The room was a light shade of pink, and that alone should have given me a clue about where I was. Upon walking to the window, I was greeted with the sight of at least a million yellow flowers. They same type that I had seen at Tifa's bar when I arrived at Midgar. Flowers? There was only one place in the entire Final Fantasy 7 world that contained this many, and that was the garden outside Aeris' house. It really was beautiful, and I was sure the smell was amazing. I really wanted to go out there. Even if it was just to smell something other than the awful smell of the slums.
I realized that I was still wearing the same outfit I had been wearing when I was up on the tower... with Reno. My eyes widened, what had happened to the tower anyway? After I passed out had they managed to stop Reno before the entire thing collapsed? All those people from the slums. Had they all been crushed. What about the kind old man from the weapons shop. My thoughts were frantic, but I managed to calm myself. Perhaps they had stopped him. I could only hope, I had to find the others and get some answers. My eyes landed on my boots, which whoever had put me in the bed had remembered to remove. After lacing them up I exited the room.
There were voices coming from downstairs, and the one currently speaking did not sound very happy. "You're her father!? How in the world could you ever leave a child alone like that!?" It was a women's voice, one that I didn't recognize. But, I did remember this scene from playing the game. It was Aeris' mother, well step mother at least. Her real mother had been killed by Shinra. I paused at the top of the steps, unsure whether I should go down or not. I decided to at least wait until this part of the conversation was over. I didn't want to interrupt.
Barret's voice sounded close to tears when he finally spoke. Strange for a man that strong and muscular to cry, though I suppose anyone would have in the situation he was in. He nearly lost his daughter. "please don't start with that. I think about it all the time. What would happen to Marlene, if I... but you gotta understand somethin', I don't got an answer. I wanna be with Marlene, but I gotta fight. 'Cause if I don't, the planet's gonna die. So I'm gonna keep fightin'! But, I'm worried 'bout Marlene. I really just wanna be with her…always. See? I'm goin' in circles, now."
His speech was nearly heartbreaking, and I could tell the Elmyra, Aeris' stepmom, felt the same way because when she spoke she seemed close to tears as well. Or, maybe that was because her own daughter had just been kidnapped. Or at least I assumed she had been becasue that's what happened in the game. But, then Cloud and Aeris had never shown up at Don Corneos', so I wasn't sure how much the knowledge applied. "I think I understand what you're saying. She's upstairs asleep, why don't you go and see her."
Without another word Barret was hurrying up the stairs, barely even sending me a glance as he ran passed. The room he finally entered wasn't the same one I had recently occupied, it was the next one over. Which I assumed belonged to Elmyra. With no reason to just stand at the top of the stairs I made my way down them. I saw everyone from the group sitting around the kitchen table. They all glanced up at me when I entered, probably assuming I was Barret and wondering why I was back so soon.
"Umm... so what happened?" I asked cautiously, the situation was already rather awkward. No one really knew how to greet me when I walked down the steps, so I decided to initiate a conversation myself, hoping that the answer would be that the tower had stayed up and that the people of Sector 7 were safe.
"You mean with the tower?" Tifa asked.
I nodded, and this time Cloud was the one to answer. "It's still standing. We managed to stop Reno at the last minute."
I couldn't help the smile that appeared on my face. I knew what would have happened if that tower fell and this alternative was so much better. "So all the people are still safe in their homes. And, Seventh Heaven is alright and everything?"
"Well, not really. It wouldn't have been safe for them to stay there, in case Shinra tried anything again. AVALANCHE doesn't think they will, but you never know with Shinra." Tifa was about to continue but Cloud cut her off.
"You may not know Shira, but I do. The do everything to get a product. They won't gain anything from knocking down the tower now because AVALANCHE isn't there for now. Sector 7 should be safe for a while." He said all this with complete certainty. He did work for Shinra before, even if a bunch of his memories will all lies. Whether 1st class or just as soldier, it's still working for Shinra.
I nodded again. When Cloud spoke he was really hard to argue with because nearly everything he said he seemed to be positive about. He said it like there was no room for argument. Tifa glanced at Cloud, seeing if he would continue and then looked back toward me. "Anyway, we had everyone evacuate Sector 7. Just incase. They all scattered throughout the slums. We probably won't be going back to my bar for a while."
"Any idea what we're going to do now? I heard you guys talking about Aeris. She was the one that ran past me while I was going up the tower. Oh." My eyes lit up with realization, "What about Biggs, Wedge, and Jesse?" I could feel the room tense up with my question, and my breath caught in my throat as I realized the answer I was going to recieve. But, all three of them? That couldn't have happened. There was no way.
"Biggs and Jesse are okay. There somewhere in Sector 3." Tifa finally said, not meeting my eyes, but even with these words the atmosphere of the room didn't change at all. I glanced over at Elmyra, who hadn't said anything this entire time. Her eyes were filled with tears. How could a woman who hadn't even known them be upset? She really was one the the most kind hearted people I had ever met.
"You can't expect every battle to not have any losses." Cloud finally said. I turned cold eyes on him.
"How can you say that? They were teammates, and they were friends. You can't just act like it was nothing. He died and you don't even care!" My chin quivered and I bit my lower lip in an attempt to stop myself from crying. My eyes welled up with tears, but I refused to let them fall, at least not while there was anyone around. I would cry at night where no one could see.
"If I got upset about every person I knew that died..." He trailed off his eyes drifting over towards the wall, his face turned so that I couldn't see his expression, but his intended meaning had been clear. He had witnessed a lot of death throughout his entire life. He looked back at me, his expression unreadable. "What does getting upset do. It's not going to bring him back. You just have to get over it and move on."
I was left unsure of what to say. My eyes drifted to the ground, not wanting to meet anyone's eyes. I couldn't help but feel empathetic toward Cloud. Sure, his words had been cold, but hadn't it been within reason. Back in the real world I had never lost anyone, not even a grandparent, so I couldn't even begin to compare myself to him.
About a minute later Barret came rushing down the steps, which was extremely noticeable becasue the ground shook with nearly every step. He failed to notice the awkward situation as he walked towards Marlene and quietly asked, "Sorry, but can you take care of Marlene a bit longer?"
Elmyra nodded a small smile on her face. She was probably happy that she wouldn't be alone since Aeris was currently at Shinra headquarters. "Sure. But promise me that you'll come back to her. Don't get yourself killed."
"Don' worry. I'll be back for her." With that said he left the house and Cloud, Tifa, and I quickly followed. Barret glanced over at me, "You comin' too?"
"Yeah, I think I will." I said, and then realized it would probably seem kind of strange for someone with no connection at all to Aeris to want to go on her rescue mission. I looked at the three of them meeting all their eyes before glancing at the ground, "I don't really have anyone else to go. So, yeah, I'll come" I said, and then quickly added, "If you'll let me."
"I'm coming too." Tifa said and everyone looked over her. She knew Aeris no better than I did.
"We're going right to Shinra Headquarters. You gotta be prepared for the worst." Cloud said. I couldn't really tell if he liked the idea of us coming or not. Maybe he was just indifferent about it.
"I know, but right now, I feel I have to push myself to the limit. If I stayed here, I'll go crazy." Hm, I watched Tifa out of the corner of my eye. She kind of stumbled over her words, like maybe they were only have true. Maybe she didn't really care about rescuing Aeris or 'pushing herself to the limit' as she did about staying with Cloud, the man that I was fairly certain he was in love with.
"So, where is Shinra headquarters anyway?" I asked curiously as the four of us left Aeris' house. I just followed them, not wanting to seem like I knew exactly where I was going.
"On top o' the plate, but there ain't no trains that go up there."
"Well, let's just go to Wall Market. We might be able to find something there." I winced as Tifa said this. That was where Don Corneo was, and my memories of him were not that great. I'd rather avoid that place and that man as much as possible, but I knew that the only way to get to the top of the plate was to go through there, so I bit my tounge and kept quiet.
The walk to Wall Market was a lot longer than it seemed in the game. We had already been walking for at least a half hour. Tifa was talking to Barret about Aeris, telling her how she had asked her to go save Marlene, giving Barret even more reason to rescue her. I caught bits and pieces of their conversation, but for the most part I wasn't listening since I already knew the story.
With the two of them talking Cloud was left walking by himself, and so was I. Heading back toward Wall Market really brought back memories of when Cloud and I had been there. Why hadn't he shown up to rescue us like he had in the game? Where had he even been? Well, I wasn't going to answer unless I asked. I walked a little bit faster to match my stride with Cloud's. "So, umm... I'm guessing Tifa told you about what happened to us?"
"Yeah, she told me all about Don Corneo and Shinra."
How was I supposed to even ask him about this? I couldn't just be like oh by the way you were supposed to show up as our rescuer dressed as a woman. Why didn't you show up? I had really been wanting to see that too. The image would have been priceless, but for whatever reason he hadn't shown up. "Where were you during all that? Like, after the reactor and everything?"
"Barret and I blew up the reactor, but we got separated. I met Aeris and brought her back to Sector 7 with me, even if I hadn't intended to. I never should have gotten her involved in all this. Tifa and you still weren't there, but then Shinra showed up..." He stopped becasue I knew the rest of the story. That was the point when Tifa and I had shown up.
But, that still didn't explain anything. Why had he gone back to Sector 7 instead of coming to Wall Market. "Oh!" I said aloud with realization. Cloud glanced over at me with a look that said what's-wrong-with-you. "Nevermind." I said, waving my hand in a forget about it motion. The only reason Cloud had shown up in the game was becasue he saw Tifa getting taken away. That hadn't happened this time, so Cloud had no reason to go. All becasue I had caused Tifa and I to get kidnapped. I really could change a lot of stuff that happened this time around, for better or worse. I would have to keep that thought at the back of my mind.