That Voice in my Head
Cloud remember the bullet, he remembered the flash the white hot pain and then darkness. So, death is dark, definitely not what he had expected, although, he had not given much to the afterlife. He had heard other people's versions of death, fluffy clouds, white robes, harps. He had always thought these were silly things to wish for. No what he loved, what he wanted to believe was being surrounded by those you love. To be greeted at deaths door by the ones you love that had passed before you. Cloud felt his chest begin to ach at the thought. He wanted it so badly, to be able to say he was sorry to their faces, to tell them he loved them. But death was darkness, no last goodbyes or apologies just darkness.
"Of course it's going to appear dark if you never open your eyes there Spiky."
Cloud felt himself frown. That voice sounded familiar, almost like, Zack. Cloud concentrated for a moment, trying to remember how to open his eyes, which seemed difficult for some reason.
"You feel a little sluggish at first but eventually it wears off."
Cloud slowly fluttered his eyes, finally opening them. He was wrong, death wasn't black, and it was a garden. A garden that seemed a little odd to him. A beautiful garden with fountains, flowers and stone marble benches. As his eyes scanned the landed on a bench that was occupied. From where he lay on the ground all he could see where a pair of scuffed black military combat boots. He had boots like that.
"Every one in Soldier had boots like this."
The man was right he remembered that now, they were military issue for all troops. They were actually quite comfy, plenty of toe room. He hated polishing them, always put it off.
"More times then not I ended up polishing your boots for you while you slept. I thought it would have been pretty pathetic if you were kicked out of soldier because of scuff marks."
True, in the end Cloud only remembered polished his boots only a handful of times. The boots seemed to know a lot about him.
"Cloud look up."
Cloud decided to listen to the boots. He slowly moved his head watching as the boots appeared to be connected to legs then to a body and finally a face. That face, smiling purple eyes looking down on him. He looked so familiar. He almost looked like Zack.
"I am Zack, Spiky."
Cloud frowned, it couldn't be, and Zack was dead. Why would he be speaking to him unless he was dead as well? He had already come to that concussion earlier.
He spoke the words with out feeling. He did not feel like he cared, he was better off here.
Cloud raised an eyebrow.
"No." He repeated questioningly.
Zack smiled down at him.
"You're not dead Spiky, not yet. You still have a lot to live for."
Zack leaned forward until his elbows were resting on his knees, so he could get a better look at the young man lying on the ground before him.
Love, what love? He had loved Aerith like a sister. She was his family, so was Zack and they were both here.
"Not us idiot."
Cloud shot Zack a glare.
Cloud's mind went blank. That name sounded so familiar. Images began flashing before his eyes. A beautiful raven haired girl, skin like ivory, intense brown eyes that held such warmth. Why would a girl like that want him? She was perfect.
"Haven't looked in the mirror lately have ya buddy?"
Cloud slowly pulled himself up into a sitting position. He glanced down at his body. When he was younger he had been told that he was handsome, but most mothers thought that of their sons. His body was toned but it also had scars, the newest being on his brow.
"Chicks dig scars."
Cloud turned his gaze back to Zack.
"How do you know what I am thinking?"
Zack graced him with a toothy grin.
"Because I'm in your mind. You chose me."
Cloud's frown deepened. He did not remember choosing Zack; he did not remember being given a choice.
"The life stream needed a consultant to speak with you. Normally it's my girl Aerith but apparently you wanted to see me so here I am."
Cloud tore his eyes from his friend and starred out into the forest before him. There was a pleasant breeze, shifting his spikes against his head. What do you say to someone who saved your life while forfeiting his own? Sorry was a little too simple.
"Why did the life stream want to talk to me?"
Zack rose to his feet moving over to where he sat before sitting on the ground next to him, shoulder to shoulder.
"We, the planet, owe a lot to you Spiky. Yet you never seem to be happy when the day is done. We want to remedy that."
Cloud shrugged. Why was his life so important to the planet? Why was everyone so interested in prying into his personal life?
"We just want you happy, besides it's not like you really have a personal life."
Cloud let out a sigh. Zack was right, although he would never admit it.
"You just did I can hear your thoughts remember."
Cloud remained silent for a moment eyeing his friends face. He hadn't changed. It was the same face he remembered. The ever present smile, the clear purple eyes. A flash of Zack's dead cold face moved before his eyes. He quickly shook his head to dislodge it. Remembering that Zack could hear his thought, he quickly glanced at the man. Zack appeared to be unfazed.
"It's not you is it?" he asked quietly.
"What do you mean?" Zack asked eyes on the forest.
Cloud felt his throat tighten.
"You're not really Zack."
Zack's head turned to look at him.
"No, the life stream is using my body. I am in here, just not on the surface."
Cloud nodded. He plucked up a blade of grass twisting it around his fingers.
"We wish you to be happy."
"I picked up on that."
Zack nodded. Cloud could not help but feel the smile was fake, plastic somehow, knowing it was not really Zack.
"Can I speak with him?"
Cloud asked quietly fearing the response.
Zack seemed to think about the question for a moment.
"I suppose you could. He watches you constantly you know, always watching over you."
Cloud smiled his first smile since arriving here.
"He did when we were alive, I didn't think it would change in death."
"Would speaking with him make you happy?"
Cloud was quiet thinking the question over in his head. Would it make him happy? He needed to see his friend tell him thank you and that he was sorry. He did not know if it would make him happy, but it would make him feel whole. Cloud nodded finally.
Zack grew still suddenly, his body slumping slightly.
Cloud reached out a hand and touched the other man's shoulder gently. He felt the muscles tense below his fingers. Zack's head whirled to look at him, eyes wide.
"Zack?" Cloud repeated.
Zack's face remained blank, spare the wide eyes.
"It's Cloud, do you remember me?"
The eyes blinked.
"Does that mean yes? If that means yes blink once again."
Cloud was greeted with a hand to the back of the head.
Cloud removed his hand from the other man, moving it up to where he was swatted.
"Spiky, why are we in a garden?"
The voice sounded the same but Cloud could not help but feel that it was warmer, fuller of life.
Zack nodded his head in understanding.
"Can you still tell what I am thinking?" Cloud asked wearily.
Zack glanced around the Garden, eyes traveling out into the forest.
"Always could Spiky."
Cloud smiled, that meant no.
Zack turned back to Cloud, his normal smile gone replaced by a frown.
"Why are you here? You can't be dead."
Cloud shook his head.
"No, the life stream wanted to help me."
"Ya, I've been watching you." He said jovially. "You need help. Last time I checked you still hadn't told Tifa that you were in love with her and she's to afraid to tell you."
Cloud felt his face flush. Tifa loved him? When did this happen? He had loved her since childhood but he always thought she looked to him like a brother.
"that didn't really answer my question kiddo."
Cloud raised an eyebrow, smiling.
"Kiddo." Cloud repeated.
Zack brushed him off.
"The Life stream uses people as guides. The real people are there but they are dormant."
Cloud bowed his head slightly, glancing down at the blade of grass he still held. It was frayed now.
"I asked to speak to you." Cloud admitted in a whisper. "I said it would make me happy."
Zack's arm wrapped around his shoulder jostling him slightly.
"I'm flattered, but how can I help?"
Cloud threw the weathered blade of grass out of his hand reaching out and plucking a fresh one.
"I wanted to say I'm sorry."
The arm around his shoulder stiffened.
"I wanted to tell you I would do anything to change what happened."
Cloud took a shuddering breath in.
"I wanted to thank you."
The arm removed itself from around him. Cloud felt tears begin to sting his eyes. Had he upset him, made it worse?
"You never needed to thank me."
Cloud felt a hand ruffle his spikes.
"If you really want to make up to me marry Tifa, have lots of sex, and name a kid after me."
Cloud smiled, a laugh escaping his lips.
"You need to head back kiddo, I can hear them calling your name."
Cloud raised his head. He didn't hear anything. He glanced over at Zack. The man looked calm, his eyes on the fountain, watching the water tumble.
That sounded like Tifa's voice.
Zack's eyes turned back to him.
"Cloud can you hear me?"
Zack smile grew wider.
"A kid named Zack huh?" Cloud asked returning the smile.
"Girl or boy, I'm not picky."
His vision turned white, his mind clung tightly onto his last image of Zack smiling at him.
Cloud felt a hand on his arm, a soft hand.
"Cloud wake up."
A musical laugh reached his eyes, sending butterflies a flutter in his stomach.
"Wake up, you were dreaming."
Cloud slowly opened his eyes, blinking to dislodge the blur. He looked over to where Tifa lay in their bed. Their bed? Cloud glanced down at his hand, noting the gold band on his ring finger.
Tifa's hand reached up and ruffled his head.
"Are you alright?"
Cloud raised his eyes to hers, seeing the concern in there brown depths.
He slowly nodded, giving her a weak smile.
She gave him an understanding smile, opening her arms invitingly. Cloud quickly moved into her embrace, placing his ear over her heart.