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You can see them both now, can't you Cloud?

Flowers and water.

That is what they are, you've thought of it enough times. Why not admit you can't stop thinking of them. If it's not one, it's the other, and both times you feel guilt and regret. You feel like you've let both of them down. You do not feel worthy of either of them.

You always took things out of perspective.

She thinks that too, she told me.

The flower girl.

I was mesmerized too, the first time I saw her. She seemed so out of place on the drab streets of Midgar. It was a wonder she didn't wilt at the lack of sunlight, like most plants. She seemed to contain her own life source. I guess that's how she got all those flowers to grow, in the church.

Yes, I was there too, in that haven. Even in Slums of Midgar, she made that place sacred.

You realized that too, didn't you? When you fell, crashing down into her garden bed. Did you feel guilty about ruining her flowers? I would of.

What made you agree to be her bodyguard? Was it because she looked so fragile, delicate? Was it her smile? Were you charmed, underneath your stolid expression?

Did you want to be a hero?

I think it was all those things. You were entranced by the way that she seemed to oppose you in every way. Her light to your dark.

Did you want to be saved?

Did you realize how precious she truly was at that first encounter? No, neither did I. But I realized soon enough. And at the end of it all.

Underneath my bravado and confidence, I too, just wanted to be worthy of something.

It seems strange now, doesn't it, to think of how we protected her. We wanted to shelter her, protect her from the world. But I was pulled away by my duties as a SOLDIER, and you were waging a war against yourself.

We were foolish. We did not recognize her inner strength. While you fought the monsters that surrounded you, she fought the heavy burden she had to carry. She fought not to give in, not to care. She was the last of her race, the last one who could save you.

For all that she was shaped like a flower, she had an iron core. Her rots ran deep in the earth.

A flower is flexible. It bends in the breeze.

Water moves with it.

How do you feel about her, Cloud? The other one that is in your thoughts. For they are both haunting you now.

I did not know her like I knew the Flower. But I know your history, now.

She moves like water, doesn't she? Fluid and seamlessly. You wouldn't have thought it at a first glance, that she could be so graceful.

She fights like that too.

Water embodies her.

You do not know what to think about her. Once, you promised to protect her, but she does not need much protection, does she? She does not need a bodyguard.

And, the two times that she did, you were late.

How does that make you feel, Cloud?

You never spoke about it to her. Were you too ashamed?

I only met her briefly, when I was alive. What did I think of her?

She did not shine out, like the Flower did. She sparkled, like sunlight on the water, in fragments. Only noticed out the corner of your eye.

She was flowing even then.

Still waters run deep, as they say, but you never seemed to make the connection. She was like that too. I watched her face; she perfected the guarded mask that hid her emotions. She hid them so well that you barely even knew they were there, or how deep they ran. And they run deep, Cloud. You should have realized that by now.

Water is patient, it wears away stone in time.

She has been waiting a long time, Cloud. For you.

I admire that in her.

She can be a force of nature. The ocean in a storm, you've seen her like that more then once, but you never really paid attention, did you? Like the tempest.

She will not stop you. Up close, water is not a solid wall. Dip your hand in it and it will slid through your fingers. When you leave, she will let you, for she moves around you, like a shadow.

And you feel guilt about it. The same way you feel guilt about the wilted flower.

Did you betray both of them? Is that what you think?

Is that why you cannot face either of them, accept either of them?

When you see a flower in the wind, all you remember is how easily it was snapped, and how you could do nothing.

You avoid water, you're afraid to touch it.

Are you afraid, Cloud? Afraid that they might hate you? Isn't that the reason why you can't sleep at night? All you can see is their faces and your failings. You look at their image but don't see them. You look in their eyes and see your guilt, your mistakes, your regrets reflected back at you.

It's not about them at all. It's about you.

And yet, they dance around you. They love you, both of them.

Floating petals and falling rain.

Authors note: For those who didn't pick it up, this is Zack talking, from sometime during advent children. Hope you like it.