Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VII is the property of SquareEnix. This story was written for fun, not profit.

Blame this on a) a really crappy plot-bunny I've had for umpteen years, b) an annoyingly fascinating in-game comment about the Lifestream's cycle of death and rebirth, and c) the sheer shininess of the Crisis Core trailer. This was written in about ten minutes, and I can only apologize for the suckage and the weirdness. Oops?

second verse
(same as the first)

Dee Gladsheim has only been to the Midgar ruins once. Even then it was just a few paces over the old city limits, her footsteps loud on the cracked concrete and her squadmates lending her giddy courage. But now she sprawls on her belly with her head hanging over the edge of a cliff, spiky dark hair whipping in the wind, and the old city is an imposing sprawl in front of her. She imagines that she can see things moving inside it - the Jenova crazies, maybe, the old first-class SOLDIERs gone hopelessly mad.

Or maybe she's seeing what they want to bring back, and she tastes bile in the back of her throat.

She climbs up to her hands and knees and then slowly rises to her feet - and she grins sunshine-bright as she looks over her shoulder, because that's almost the only weapon she has now. "Which sector?"

"The old ShinRa headquarters." The man behind her is twice again her age, thin lines at the corners of his eyes and white hair at his temples, and he speaks very softly. He is the best swordfighter in the entire world, maybe even the best that ever was.

That's what the Planet's counting on now.

"Right." Dee's wearing her squadmates' dogtags on her belt, spaced out so they won't jangle; the rest of the Defense Force's Rockfall Squad has been dead ten days, left in the open because there was no time to bury them or burn them up, and only her alive to fight off monsters when he found her. "Sector Four gate's loose, sir. That's how I got in last time, if you're up to climbing."

He isn't - there's no potions to be had for love or gil and not even the great Cloud Strife can heal the gash in his stomach all on his own, even if anyone else would be long dead from it - but he just presses his lips together in a thin tired line. "That's fine. I know a path we can take from there."

Dee nods and slings her rifle around, where it'll be easier to fire her last few bullets. She's trying not to think about Midgar and what might be waiting there, because right now she's not sure Strife's in any condition to fight off all the crazies. She's not even sure he'll make it down the cliff without collapsing.

But he'll get to the gate, even if she has to carry him. She'll fight next to him and guard his back - whatever needs to be done. He's the only chance the Planet's got.

She draws herself up as tall as she can. "Ready to kick space-bitch ass when you are, sir."

Strife nods and maybe smiles a little - and she's not sure why that's important, just that it is - and right then she decides that no matter how hopeless this looks and how screwed they are, it's not just about getting him to headquarters. It's not just about killing Jenova once and for all.

She promises herself that no matter what happens to her, she's going to get Strife out alive. She's going to make sure he's okay - that he gets home safe.

And Dee has never been one to break her promises.


(We're friends, right?)