Prologue

Prologue

"Would you like a flower sir? It's only one gil."

A by passer turned his head to look for the speaker. He saw a really polite girl in a pink dress standing behind him, carrying a basket of flowers and making a sweet smile at him.

This girl is...wow. She was like a goddess. Her long, brown hair that was neatly tied perfectly matched her emerald green eyes. Her innocent yet attractive looks were to die for. The way she held her basket, asking politely to buy her flower was so stunning that no man could resist from looking at her a little longer.

"I will have one."

The by passer replied and ransacked his pocket. He tried to act as calm as possible but he couldn't. This girl was simply amazing.

"Thank you sir."

The girl handed him a flower and took one gil from the man. She made another smile at him while thanking him. She slowly left the man, startled and started looking for another customer.

She was tired. Really tired. She looked around and found a clean spot in front of a doorstep and sat down to take a rest. She told herself that she would not give up. She had been traveling a lot for the past year. She picked flowers along the way and sold them whenever she entered a town. She pasted by many towns and seen many people but she still can't find the one she was looking for.

A few days ago, she entered this peace and quite town called Kalm. Though she only been here once but she instantly found out that this town had changed a lot since the last time she visited. Since the destruction of meteor, Midgar is no longer a high-populated city. When meteor arrived many took refuge in Kalm and when all this is over many decided to continue staying in this peaceful city.

She looked around for a moment, hoping to find the one she loved, the one she cared, the one that she was looking for the past whole year. She really wished that one day he would appear in front of her, telling her that he loved her.

The flower shook her thoughts away. She was now a little less tired. She stared into the sky, looked at the clouds, and inspired it. Then, sat up and continued selling flowers in the streets of Kalm.

Chapter 1

"I can't believed it!" Cid exclaimed with the top of his voice.

"Yes it's true." The person sitting next to him replied with a cool tone.

"No way! You actually proposed to Tifa?!" Cid asked again.

"Yes I did. And she agreed." The person replied with an even cooler tone.

Cid was sitting in a small bar in Kalm talking to a person next to him. Yup, and this person was the same person that saved the planet from Sephiroth. He was the hero, known as Cloud Strife.

Since the battle with Sephiroth, Cloud and the party stayed in Kalm. They opened an inn called 7th Heaven that was once Tifa's bar that was previously destroyed in the slum of Midgar.

"So when is the big day?" Cid asked.

"I don't know. But Tifa's really anxious so I guess we will get married real soon." Cloud answered.

Cid couldn't believe his ears. But come to think about it makes perfect sense. Cloud and Tifa had strong feelings for each other since they were still kids. Although it was just a month ago that Cloud told Tifa that he love her, they had been waiting for this moment for a long time already.

"So how are you and Shera? You haven't seen her in a long time already." Cloud asked Cid.

"Don't mention about her. I finally thought that I could get over with how I treated before, but she screwed up again!!!" It took me such a long time to repair the Little Bronco and when I finally though I could get it to fly again, she took a look at the damn engine and she said that something was wrong! And because of that she won't let me fly the tiny bronco! Man! Am I really pissed off!" Cid complained.

"But it wasn't her fault. Who knows you might be flying and the plane suddenly blew up!" Cloud said.

"But--"

"Get out of the kitchen!"

They were interrupted by a shout from the kitchen. They saw a young, childish girl running out of the kitchen. She glanced at Cid and Cloud. She had an evil grin on her face. Then she took off in full speed. Cloud and Cid looked at each other for a while.

"Came back here you thief!"

The chef of the bar burst out of the kitchen door with a rolling pin in his hand.

"Um, Cid. Is it materia or gil this time?" Cloud asked.

The rest of the party was in the 7th Heaven. The inn they opened after the meteor incident. Although their income wasn't a lot, they earned enough money to support their living.

In the inn, there was a girl sitting at the counter. A girl filled with grace and style with long black hair flowing freely down her back. The way she occasionally stroke her hair backwards made her extremely attractive.  If there was perfect beauty in this world, she will be the one that will come first.

This beauty was one of the ones that defeated Sephiroth and saved the world. Tifa Lockheart-that's her name.

Now, this beautiful heroin was sitting at the reception table, smiling all day long. For some reasons, she didn't stop smiling since that morning.

"Uh, Whassap with Tifa?" Barret asked the others curiously.

"It must be something really big to make her that happy." Red XIII answered without a clue.

"Didn't you all notice the ring on her finger? It wasn't there yesterday." Vincent interrupted.

Cait Sith immediately jump on his mog shouting happily. "Tifa is getting married!"

The others were shocked to hear this. Tifa's getting married? They all knew this day would come, but they didn't know it would come this early.

"What? Tiff! Why don't ya tell us sucha big thing?" Barret questioned Tifa.

"I thought that it would be best to wait till everyone's here."

Tifa replied and blushed. She played with the ring on her play and admired it. Someone she loved for a long, long time gave her this ring.

"Yea! And all of us thought that ya gone nuts or somethin'!"Barret looked at Tifa fiercely.

Red XIII shook his head and looked out of the window.

"Isn't that Yuffie outside being chased by the chef of the bar?" Red XIII asked.

Yuffie suddenly stormed into the room.

"Help me!!! That guy had gone berserk!!!"

Yuffie shouted pleading for help. She quickly hid behind the crowd and then a bang was heard. The man chasing Yuffie stormed into the 7th Heaven with steam on his head.

Tifa stood up and questioned the furious chef that couldn't control his temper.

"What happened?!"

"Th....That thief! She stole my mastered fire materia!" The furious man replied while pointing at Yuffie with his rolling pin. Yuffie made a face at the chef and made him angrier.

"Yuffie, did you?" Tifa interrogated Yuffie.

"Aw, it was just a materia." Yuffie answered while looking at everyone with sad puppy dog eyes.

"Serve yer right!" Barret scolded.

"But what are you doing with a mastered fire materia while you only cook in the kitchen?" Cait Sith asked the chef curiously.

"Of course I use it to cook!" the chef blurted out.

"What? You cook your food with a fire materia? No wonder it sucks!" Yuffie snapped out.

"How dare you insult my cooking techniques! Argggggggg!!!!" The chef became furious again and charged at Yuffie with his rolling pin. Yuffie ran round and round the room, making fun of him while trying to get away from him. Obviously, she was enjoying this.

"What the hell is going on here?!"

Everyone turned their heads towards the entrance and saw Cloud and Cid standing in front of the door.

"Cloud, help me!" Yuffie cried out and shelthered behind Cloud.

"Yuffie, what did you stealing from this man?" Cloud asked Yuffie while pointing at the furious man.

"Aw, it's only a materia." Yuffie answered innocently.

"It is a mastered fire materia you little witch!!!" The chef interrupted.

"Hand it out Yuffie." Cloud commanded.

"Must I hand it out now?" Yuffie looked more innocently.

"Now!!!!!" Cloud shouted at Yuffie furiously.

"Aw, OK." Yuffie said uneasily and returned the chef his materia.

The chef examined the mastered fire materia to ensure there are no tricks or whatsoever. His started to control his temper and walked towards the exit.

"If I ever catch you in my kitchen I swear I will whack you with my rolling pin!"

The chef warned Yuffie before he walked out. The others stared at Yuffie.

"Must you always get us into trouble?" Cloud asked Yuffie.

"I just wanted to help Wutai and...." Yuffie Replied but was cut off by Cloud.

"Nevermind. Everybody! I have an announcement to make! I am getting....."

"Married with Tifa!" Everyone replied except Cloud, Tifa and Yuffie.

"What? Tifa! You told them already?" Cloud asked Tifa with a surprised look in his face.

"I couldn't stop them from noticing my ring!" Tifa defended herself.

"Why am I the last one to know about this?" Yuffie asked everyone.

"Probably cuz if ya know earlier ya might even steal Tifa's wedding ring!" Barret replied with a touch of humor.

"If you all think me as such a person, I guess I rather go to look for more materia outside." Yuffie said and exited the 7th Heaven.

"Looks like today's a happy after all." Cid just finished a cigarette and wanted to pull out another one from his pocket. Suddenly his face turned white.

"Did anybody saw my mastered fire materia?"

Chapter 2

Cloud was walking down the streets of Kalm. He kept smiling to himself like he had gone nuts or something. But it was all quite natural. He was getting married, to Tifa! Who wouldn't be happy?

Cloud walked along and kept thinking about Tifa. He recalled his sweet memories with her. He recalled the first time they met, their childhood, the well in Nibelhelm, their battle against Sephiroth and all sort of other things. He couldn't had felt better.

"Cloud."

Cloud face turned white. He recognized this voice immediately. A voice he hasn't heard for a long time. A voice he shouldn't have heard.

"It couldn't. It couldn't possibly be......"

Cloud turned around and saw a girl. She wore an extremely familiar pink dress. Her hair was tied with a ribbon and she was holding a flower basket in her hands. Cloud's mouth was wide-open.

"It isn't her. No, it isn't her......"

No. It isn't the girl Cloud thought she was. Cloud calmed down a little and got back to his senses. He thought he stumbled into someone he knew, someone he will never see. But he didn't. It was someone else.

"Sir, would you like to buy some flowers? It is only one gil each." The girl carrying a basket of flowers asked.

"Er......Was it you that called out my name just now?" Cloud tried to ask as calm as he could.

"Um......Yes. It was me." the flower girl replied.

"How could you possibly......"Cloud asked but was interrupted by the flower girl.

"You became so famous after your battle with Sephiroth. Words had been spread all over the place and although I hadn't met you before, I know it's you because people said a lot about your hair." the flower girl replied with a smile.

"So you know me at first sight because I have a weird hair do?" Cloud joked.

"No...no, your hair isn't weird but it is just...... unique." the Flower girl said.

"Gee, my hair is that famous?" Cloud joked.

"Not only your hair, but even your enormous sword was famous too." the flower girl answered.

"Guess you are a big fan of me." Cloud said.

"I only know what other's do. And oh! Do you want to buy a flower? It is only a gil each." the flower girl said and took out a flower from her basket.

"I hadn't seen flowers this beautiful for a long time already, I remembered that this kind of flower could only be found in the northern continent. Alright, I will have one." Cloud replied and took a gil out of his pocket.

"Thanks. I guess I better get going." the flower girl handed Cloud a flower and disappeared among the crowd.

Cloud tried to look for her but he couldn't. He recalled the girl and thought about her. She really resembled someone he knew. The way she carried her flower basket, talked, giggled were exactly the same as the girl he knew long ago. Even the way he met her was familiar, this was same way as how he first knew that girl, in the slums.

Cloud looked at the flower for a moment. Then he stared off into space. He wasn't think whether this flower will impress Tifa or not, but he thinking about other things. That flower girl made him think. She made him think of someone he has lost for a long, long time. Aeris.

"I'm home!"

Cloud called out when he entered the 7th Heaven.

"Yo! Ya haven't got married yet but yer already start talkin' like a family man! What's wrong wit ya?" Barret exclaimed.

"Guess I gotta start to get use to it." Cloud answered with a smile. Suddenly Tifa came out from her room with a new wedding gown.

"So how do I look?"

Tifa said and posed. She looked...different than before. She usually dressed up like a sports women but now she looked so...pretty.

"Wow...let me check my heart. It's still beating." Cloud joked and Tifa blushed.

"So when is the big day?" Cait Sith suddenly popped out from nowhere.

"Red XIII said that this Friday is a good day to get married. You know, all this superstitious stuff. " Tifa answered.

"Isn't that two days after tomorrow? " Cloud asked with a surprised tone.

"Yes it is. Why? You not ready yet? " Tifa asked curiously.

"No, it's fine. It's really fine. " Cloud replied.

He looked at Tifa entering back her room happily, and then smiled at he before she went in. Cloud sighed for a while. He felt like there was something bothering him, but he didn't know what it was. Cloud stretched his arms and stood up. He then headed to the bar.

The bar was quite dimly lit at night. It was just like any other bar. Cloud scanned through the room and he saw Vincent sitting in a dark corner. Vincent was spooky enough in the day and in the dark he looked spookier.

"Cheer up, Vincent. " Cloud said while closing up towards Vincent.

"Leave me alone. " Vincent replied with a dark look in his eyes.

"Thinking about Lucrecia again? " Cloud asked him with a sympathetic voice.

"No, it is someone else. Aeris. " Vincent replied emotionlessly.

Cloud was shocked when he heard Vincent mention about Aeris. No one has mention that name to him for a long time already. He just wanted to forget his past and live on his life. He was surprised that Vincent will suddenly mention her name.

"I saw her. I saw her down the streets today. " Vincent continued.

Cloud was stunned for a while. But then he thought about the flower girl he met today, he started to calm down.

"I guess you mistaken someone for Aeris. I just met a flower girl today that looks just like Aeris. Maybe you didn't see her clearly and mistaken her for Aeris. " Cloud replied calmly.

"Just as I thought, you wouldn't believe me. Though I only saw her from a distance but I am real sure she is Aeris." Vincent said stubbornly.

"I saw her too. I thought that it was Aeris when I first saw her but after I had a closer look I found out that she wasn't Aeris. She was just a simple flower girl selling flowers in the streets. " Cloud explained.

"Suits yourself. " Vincent replied to end the conversation.

"See you later. " Cloud said goodbye to Vincent and stood up and wanted to leave. But before Cloud could leave, Vincent said something to him.

"If Sephiroth could come back once, why can't Aeris? "

Chapter 3

The flower girl was sitting on a bench somewhere in the streets of Kalm. She was smiling alone. Once in a while she giggled and caught the attention of others passing by. But she didn't feel awkward. She was too happy to think about other things.

Finally. She finally found the person she had been looking for. After all these efforts, after all these months, she finally made it.

But that person didn't noticed her yet, even though they met face to face. She didn't want to tell him yet. It would be too sudden for him. He couldn't possibly take it. She will have to wait, wait till the right time, and then she will tell him everything.

She got up and continued selling flowers. While walking down the streets, she saw a small, cozy building not far away. It was a church, a place she hadn't been for a long time. She loved churches, they reminded her so much about her memories. Beautiful ones, happy ones, sad ones... It was the kind of place she grew up in. A place that was holy and cozy.

The flower girl walked closer towards the church. From a distance, she could see some people in the church. They were carrying stuff up and down and hanging thing inside the church. It looked like they were having some sort of occasion, a party, maybe?

The flower girl tried to look inside but she was too far away. Filled with curiosity, she walked forward and headed towards the entrance.

 

It was a beautiful day. The weather was great. By listening carefully, the sweet sound of birds chirping happily could be heard. The atmosphere was perfect.

There was still two days left until the big day. A few hours ago, the team booked the newly built church in Kalm. Fortunately, there wasn't any queue waiting. Immediately after they were given the permission to enter the church, all of them except Cloud were in the church decorating the church for the big day.

"Do you think it is a good idea to decorate the church? It looked nice enough for me. " Tifa asked while putting on some colorful decorations.

"Why? Didn't you wanted to make your wedding unforgettable? " Cid replied while getting rid of his cigarette.

"No, but don't you all think it is a little too... fancy? " Tifa replied while looking at all the colorful decoration Cait Sith suggested to put up.

Well, it was fancy all right. Red, green and blue balloons tied in bundles, hanging in the middle of colorful paper cuts and ribbon... It looked like a kid's birthday party more than a wedding. What was Cait Sith thinking?

"What? You don't like my decorations? " Cait Sith asked afraid to hear an answer he didn't want to hear.

"It was...Well... " Tifa couldn't find a word that could describe the decorations without hurting Cait Sith's feelings. Cait Sith's looked at her, waiting for an answer.

"It was great." Tifa simply blurted out. Cait Sith relieved and continued hanging bundles of balloons.

"Hey, where the hell is Cloud? It is his wedding and he hasn't show up his ass yet! " Cid exclaimed.

"He just went to the store to get the food and other things. " Tifa answered while looking at the entrance.

"Ooo... if I knew earlier I would had followed him instead of doing all this stuff. Why didn't anybody tell me about this? " Yuffie asked.

"Cuz if ya followed Cloud ya might steal all the materia in the store and get everyone to chase ya on the streets. " Barret teased.

Yuffie made a face at Barret and then everyone continued their work.

"Um...excuse me...is there anything I can do to help? "

Everyone turned their heads and saw a girl in pink dress standing in front of the entrance.

"A...A..Aeris? " All of them called out.

The flower girl slowly walked towards them and looked at everybody.

"Um...I guess you all mistaken me for someone else. I just walked in here and see if I can provide any help. " The flower girl replied with a smile on her face.

The flower girl closed up even more towards everybody. At first they were all shocked. A girl, carrying a flower basket, wearing that familiar pink dress... They really thought it was she, someone they had lost for a long time. But after a while they realized it wasn't whom they thought she was. It was someone else, someone that really looked like her.

"We...we are sorry we mistook you for someone else, you really looked like her. And oh yah, we have more than enough people here so we don't really need your help. " Tifa replied politely.

"You all looked like you all are having something real big here. I am sure you all need some flowers right? It's only one gil each." the flower girl asked.

"I will certainly need flowers for my banquet... I think I will have thirty. " Tifa took thirty gil out from her pocket and hand it to the flower girl.

"Here. And mind if I ask you what is the occasion? " the flower girl asked while handing Tifa some flowers.

"Oh, it's my wedding. " Tifa answered.

"And ... who is that lucky man?" The flower girl asked.

"You probably never heard of him, but his name is Cloud Strife." Tifa answered and blushed.

"Oh I see….um…well, thanks and... I guess I better get going." The flower girl replied and walked out of the church.

"That girl really reminds me of Aeris. " Cait Sith exclaimed.

Tifa didn't reply Cait Sith. She was thinking about something else. She was thinking of the expression on the flower girl's face when she mentioned two words- "Wedding" and "Cloud". Tifa could see that the flower girl tried very hard to hide it from Tifa but Tifa could still feel it. She could see it in the way she reacted when she mentioned the two words. She saw sorrow and jealousy in the girl's eyes.

Marlene just came out from school and she was skipping happily towards the 7th Heaven. She was humming a cheerful song when she past by a small alley, and saw a girl in pink dress sitting in front of a doorstep with her head hung down. Marlene slowly approached her and tried to look at her face. Marlene bended down to look up into her face to have a better look and found out that she was crying.

"Why are you crying? " Marlene asked the girl with a sympathy voice.

The girl lifted up her head and saw a little girl standing in front of her. She wiped off her tears and managed a smile.

"Nothing...it was nothing. " the girl replied while whipping off more of her tears.

"Is it because you can't sell your flowers? " Marlene asked pointing at a basket of flowers next to the girl.

"Yes, it probably is. Would you like a flower? Here, don't be afraid, take it. " The flower girl took out a flower from her basket and offered it to Marlene.

"It's purrrty! Just like the one the flower girl in the slums gave me! " Marlene exclaimed while inspiring the beautiful flower.

"Marlene!!! Where are you?!"

"It's my dad calling me, see you next time. "Marlene excused herself and ran out of the alley but the flower girl stopped her for a moment.

"Marlene, could you promise me not to tell anybody we met today? " the flower girl asked Marlene. Marlene looked at her with a curious look.

"OK, I promise. "

Marlene replied with a cheerful tone and ran out of the alley towards Barret. The flower quickly picked up her basket and avoid from stumbling into Barret. She took a last look at Marlene and disappeared into the alley.

"Marlene!!! Where are you?! " Barret shouted out with a worried tone.

"I am here papa! " Marlene replied while running out of the alley.

"There you are! Don'tcha know I am damn worried bout' you? " Barret scolded.

"I just um... found a new friend. " Marlene replied.

"I don't care who yer new friend is, cuz now we're goin' back to help Tifa with her wedding. "Barret said and put Marlene on top of his shoulder and walked back to the 7th Heaven.

"So here you are! How is the food shopping for the wedding? " Barret asked Cloud that is leaning on the wall near the entrance.

"It went quite well. Luckily Yuffie wasn't there because they are having a Materia sale. " Cloud answered.

"He! He! He! If Yuffie was there I bet there will be no materia left. Errr...Cid, what is that dumb thing doin' there? " Barret asked Cid that is busy on some kind of machinery.

"It's a new ass-kicking engine for the tiny bronco. I wanted to complete it as soon as possible for Cloud's honeymoon. " Cid replied while checking on the engine.

"You want me to sit on the tiny bronco on my honeymoon?! " Cloud exclaimed.

"What's so bad with it? The tiny bronco is just fine and it will take ya to any place in the world in hours. " Cid answered convincingly.

"Is it safe? I thought that day you mentioned that Shera said that there's something wrong with the engine. " Cloud asked doubtfully.

"It is just all because of she was too damn careful! Don't you worry about a damn thing, just sit and wait." Cid protested with an angry tone.

"I will think about it. " Cloud told Cid and walked away.

Cloud is leaning towards a wall. He was thinking about something. It wasn't his wedding but it was something else. It was the flower girl. Her delicate face, her smile, her giggle, her……

Cloud shook the thoughts off his head. Woah...what was he thinking? He was going getting married with Tifa and now he was thinking about a flower girl he just met? He tried not to think about her but she is too much like Aeris, someone he cared before, someone he secretly, but deeply loved before…

"Cloud."

Cloud got a shock and turned his head. He saw Vincent standing next to him.

"You are really good in frightening people." Cloud said after recovering from a shock.

"I didn't intent to." Vincent replied coldly.

"What is it Vincent." Cloud asked.

"It's Aeris. She just entered the church today." Vincent answered with a sure tone.

Cloud didn't expect Vincent to say something like this. Aeris was dead for a long time already. Why would Vincent say that she entered the church today?

"It was she. I know it. Though I don't understand why she looked different." Vincent continued.

"What did you mean she looked different? She was someone else!" Cloud said.

"It's her. I recognized the way she walks, the way she talks and the way she smiles. It has to be her." Vincent answered stubbornly.

"Vincent, you think too much. The one you saw at the church is nothing other than an ordinary flower girl." Cloud explained.

"Suits yourself." Vincent ended the conversation and walked away.

"Aeris... " Cloud's thought wandered away. He was once again thinking about the flower girl.

"No...What was I think?" Cloud tried to stop thinking but was then brought back to reality by a big boom.

"Umm...Cid, I don't think Cloud wanna be on the tiny bronco on his honeymoon. " Barret told Cid that was kicking the blasted parts of the exploded engine and cursed as long as he could.

Chapter 4

It was midnight. Cloud was lying on his bed. He can't seem to sleep that night. Something has been bugging him, he was thinking about what Vincent told him just now. He admitted that the flower girl really looked like Aeris, but she just isn't! Why would Vincent think of something like that? He then thought about the flower girl. Her beautiful face, her sweet voice, her…..

"No…I can't…" Cloud said to himself.

"Come, come to me. Come."

Suddenly, he heard voices, familiar voices.

Cloud looked around. He saw nobody around him. A few seconds later, he heard it again. It came from...his head. Cloud tried to shake away those voices but he couldn't. It hadn't happen to him for a long time already, since the death of ...Sephiroth.

For no reason, Cloud got out of bed and strapped his weapon onto his back. He hadn't used his sword for a long time and he wondered why he would want to use it. Something told him to. He opened the door quietly and sneaked out of the 7th heaven. He didn't know why he was doing this. He just followed what the voice asked his to. He was following someone's command.

The streets of Kalm were extremely quiet at midnight. Unlike Midgar that was full with people all day long, the streets of Kalm were deserted. Cloud walked on. He felt like someone was commanding him to go somewhere, telepathically. He didn't thought of fighting it back and walk straight back home. He just followed the voice in his head and walked on.

Suddenly the voice stopped. He stand still at his position and saw a dark alley not far away. Without much doubt, Cloud walked into the alley and looked around.

From a distance he could see the figure of two people. One of them was standing tall and the other was either sitting or kneeling on the floor. Cloud walked closer to have a clearer look. His face turned white immediately. He instantly recognized the two people. The one kneeling was the flower girl he met yesterday. But the one standing gave him the fright.

Goosebumps oozed out from Cloud's body. Cloud just stood still, trying not to believe the man standing in front of him. This man, holding a long sword in his hand was once his worst nightmare. Although his long silver hair, blew by the wind hid his face, Cloud could still recognize him.

"I know you will come, puppet." the man with the long sword said and grinned.

"Sep.....Sephiroth?! It's.....it's impossible! How can you possibly be alive?! " Cloud exclaimed nervously.

Sephiroth. The Child of Hojo and Lucretia, a first Class Soldier, the most skillful swordsman, and of course, the planet's number one enemy was back. How he came back wasn't important, what was important was he came back, with a vengeance.

"So you still remember me. Good. I am not Sephiroth, I am a Sephiroth clone, just like you. But if you prefer to call me Sephiroth, continue calling me that name." Sephiroth answered.

"How...how could that possibly be?"

Cloud asked with a frightened tone. Cloud remembered the incident in the northern crater during his adventure to save the world. Sephiroth killed all the other clones, except for him. How come the real Sephiroth didn't manipulate this Sephiroth?

"I know what you are thinking. I should have been summoned and then killed by Sephiroth, right? Allow me to make a little explaining." Sephiroth said and walked a few steps around. He looked at Cloud straight in the eye and Cloud stepped two steps backwards.

"Remember Hojo gave numbers to all subjects that have to do with the Jenova Project? Everybody thought that he started from number 1 but actually he started it from zero. "

Sephiroth explained and then he stopped for a while. He folded up his sleeve and there was something on his shoulder. It was a tattoo with a zero on it.

"I am a special test subject created too by Hojo. But I was a little different. I was more powerful than the actual Sephiroth and I possessed strength that even the real Sephiroth didn't possess. I was the ultimate test subject." Sephiroth continued.

"Then why did you summon me? Why? " Cloud exclaimed.

"Since you managed to kill the first Sephiroth and the most powerful Sephiroth clone, I believe you possessed special strength to defeat them both. I, the ultimate Sephiroth clone, would like to challenge your skills." Sephiroth replied with a pointed his Musamane at Cloud.

"What does that girl has to do with everything? She's innocent! Leave her out of this!" Cloud tried to defend the flower girl that was still kneeling on the floor.

"This ancient? You don't recognize her? Fool. You made me laugh. She didn't tell you anything, did she? " Sephiroth finished and laugh hysterically like a madman. His evil laughter filled the sky and tortured every single cell in Cloud's body.

"No!!!!"

Cloud pulled out his enormous sword from it's sheath and dashed towards Sephiroth. He didn't even care to ready a stance or plan how to attack. He attacked with all his strength and might that was empowered with anger and hatred.

Sepiroth brought out his sword and blocked Cloud's first attack. There was a thunderous clash when the two swords met. Cloud quickly attacked Sephiroth again with his sword. He tried to immobilize Sephiroth by slashing his leg but Sephiroth easily ducked. Sephiroth was quicker than he thought.

 At first they looked like they were even matched but they actually weren't. Cloud's aggressively slashed his sword again and again, kept Sephiroth in a defensive position. But Sephiroth blocked every attack easily. Cloud couldn't pierce through Sephiroth's defense. Sephiroth was too skillful.  He had no choice but to keep on attacking.

In the middle of the battle, Sephiroth suddenly jumped backwards. To Cloud's surprise Sephiroth immediately pulled out a green materia and muttered something in his mouth. The bright green light of Ultima knocked Cloud off his feet.

Cloud quickly recovered but Sephiroth had charged at him with his sword. Cloud had no time to bring up his sword so he helplessly tried to dodge that attack. Unfortunately, Cloud failed to dodge this attack. Sephiroth long sword managed to wound his right arm and blood was gushing out instantly.

Cloud was in deep pain, he wanted to stop and heal himself but he couldn't. In the heat of the battle he got to ignore the pain and keep on fighting. He brought up his sword and attacked with his last ounce of strength.

After many clashing, Cloud was exhaust. Sephiroth now fight even better and viciously and the fight before that was only a warm up to him. Cloud has been slashed twice again and his whole body was screaming in pain, but he ignored them and kept on fighting Sephiroth. At last Sephiroth performed a killing blow and knocked Cloud onto the ground. Cloud was badly injured and exhausted. He couldn't fight anymore. He tried to be conscious but he could feel his life seeping away. Sephiroth had won.

Cloud couldn't see clearly now. Everything started to go blur. A figure appeared in front of him. It was looking down at him. Cloud gave up fighting and waited for his final blow.

 "Great Gospel. "

Cloud was shocked to hear this. Although he couldn't see clearly, he could see the figure that was kneeling down stood up already. He then saw green light surrounded the figure. The green light then disappeared and he felt a surge of energy flowing into him, he started to see clearly now. 

Cloud looked at his wounds and saw them sealing up, he felt like a new person filled with energy. Sephiroth's sword came down and slashed right at Cloud but Cloud wasn't injured at all. A strong shield the flower girl casted protected him. Cloud sprung forward and slashed Sephiroth without any though of defense. Sephiroth blocked a few slashes and then he jumped backwards. He was flying in the sky and he slided his sword back into its sheath.

"Nice try, Ancient. But you won't be so lucky next time. "

Sephiroth said and then he fly into the sky. Cloud gazed at the spot where Sephiroth disappeared, and then he looked back at the flower girl.

"How...how did you do that? " Cloud walked towards the flower girl and asked her. Cloud knew this spell very well. Only Aeris could perform it. This means...

The flower girl kept quiet. She turned her head away. She tried very hard to avoid eye contact with Cloud.

"Aeris? "

Cloud asked. The flower slowly turned her head and looked at Cloud. Cloud could see many different expressions in her eyes but now all he wanted was answers. Whether or not she was Aeris.

They stood there for some time. Both of them didn't make any move. The flower girl slowly walked towards Cloud. She bit her lower lips and looked at Cloud. Then, she hung down her and looked at the ground. She closed her eyes and nodded slowly.

Cloud shook his head with his mouth wide open and stepped backwards.

Chapter 5

Tifa was awake that night. She couldn't sleep, not because she was having health problem but it was because she was too excited of her wedding. She occasionally smiled to herself, giggled while looking at the ceiling. She had many different thoughts. She was thinking how would it feels being called as Mrs. Strife, having kids and all sorts of things. She was really excited.

She lied down, occasionally turning from side to side and after a few hours, she felt thirsty. She got up from bed and walked out of her room. She was heading to the kitchen to fetch a glass of water.

On her way to the kitchen, Tifa walked past Cloud's room. She didn't thought of entering it but something caught her attention. The door was opened. Tifa felt curious and she took a peek inside. Cloud wasn't in his room.

Tifa entered Cloud's room but Cloud was nowhere to be found. Tifa started to worry. Where can Cloud be at a time like this? Tifa looked around hoping to find some clue. She found out there was something missing. Cloud's sword was gone. Something really wrong was going on.

Cloud looked at Aeris with astonishment. He couldn't believe what was going on. At first this flower girl showed up, then came this Sephiroth that claimed to be more powerful than the actual Sephiroth. Now he found out that this girl was actually Aeris, someone he lost for a long time, someone he shouldn't be talking to right now.

"How...how can you possibly be alive? A year ago Sephiroth's sword ran right through you. " Cloud asked with a surprised look.

"I was gone once. But now I am back, in a different body. " Aeris replied.

"How...How? " Cloud asked with a more surprised look.

"If I explain how all this happen, will you believe me? " Aeris asked Cloud. Cloud didn't know what to say but to nod to know more.

"It all started this way..." Aeris started explaining and sat on a doorstep nearby. Cloud joined her and listened carefully.

"After I was killed by Sephiroth I entered the lifestream, just like everyone else. But when meteor came I know I have to do something so I prayed to holy for help. But as you know that holy wasn't strong enough so I summoned the lifestream for help. After meteor was destroyed, everything went back to normal. But the special thing was the planet offered me something, something I never though of. " Aeris explained.

"How could the planet "offer" you something? " Cloud interrupted.

"The planet isn't like what you think. It can think just like you and me. It can get hurt and even cry. But only an Ancient can talk to the planet. Remember what Bugenhagen said in the observatory in Cosmo Canyon? Every time something dies it will be reborn somewhere else on the planet. It is how thing work to keep the planet going. But when something is reborn all it past memories will not exist and it may be reborn in a different form. So the planet offered me something special. The planet won't erase my memories and I will be reborn in an adult human form like what you are seeing of me now. " Aeris continued.

"So you are trying to tell me that you are reincarnated without forgetting your past life? " Cloud asked. Aeris nodded as a reply.

"But how does Sephiroth know about this? And why are you with him just now? " Cloud asked again.

"This isn't actually the Sephiroth you encountered before. He is the most successful Sephiroth clone Hojo ever created so he is actually has abilities all the Sephiroth clones have, including the ability to talk to the planet." Aeris answered.

 Just now I tried to beg Sephiroth to let you go, but he didn't want to. He told me that he wanted to defeat you, no matter what it takes. And I don't want that to happen." Aeris said a little more.

"Why didn't you tell me who you actually are before? We met once before. " Cloud asked curiously.

"I am afraid. I am afraid that you couldn't take it. "

Aeris replied softly. Her eyes were fixed onto the ground. She looked so sad and she looked like she kept something away from Cloud. Cloud stared at her. Although she looked different, she really was Aeris. Her gesture, her speech...everything except for her looks indicated that she was Aeris. Now Cloud had to live his life in confusion, again.

"Because of that you didn't tell all of us that you came back? " Cloud asked again. Aeris just remained silent and continued looking at the tiles.

"I think you better come back with me. I don't want Sephiroth to harm you again. " Cloud suggested and stood up.

"No! I mean no. The others shouldn't know about this. In fact, even you shouldn't know too. " Aeris snapped out.

"You wanted to hide this from the others? Why? Everybody missed you and we will surely welcome you back and you know it. Why the secrecy? " Cloud exclaimed.

"It's because I...I..." Aeris replied softly but then she stopped. She was interrupted by a voice calling out Cloud from a distance.

"Please...just promise me not to tell anybody about what happened just now, please? I promise I will follow you back home. " Aeris pleaded.

Cloud didn't know what to do. The look on Aeris's face made her look desperate. He can't believe that Aeris didn't want the others to know that she came back. If it weren't because of this incident with Sephiroth he wouldn't even know about this either. What is wrong with Aeris? Why was she doing this? What was she hiding from him?

"Cloud!!! Where are you?!"

The voice calling out his name was heard again. Cloud got more anxious. Aeris still looked at Cloud with that desperate face. Cloud had no choice. He could only nod and agree.

"Ok, I promise. " Cloud answered. There was a sparkle in Aeris's eyes. That look on her face disappeared and changed into a thankful look. Aeris thanked Cloud and they walked out of the alley.

"Cloud! Cloud! "

After Tifa found out that Cloud was gone, she woke the others up and in a while all of them was out looking for Cloud. Although the other were still sleepy and were still in their pajamas, they still got dressed up and start the search. They had to find Cloud, no matter what it takes.

Everybody in the team headed to different places, hoping to stumble into Cloud. Tifa went to the church while the other went to other places. Cait Sith started his search on the streets.

Cait Sith kept on hopping and looking around. He shouted out Cloud's name and hoped to see a figure popped out of nowhere. His wished came true. When he was hopping by a small alley, he saw two figures coming out of the dark alley.

"They you are Cloud! What are you doing here in the middle night? Don't you know how worried Tifa was? We all can't get a wink of sleep because of you!"

Cait Sith scolded after Cloud gave everyone so much trouble. Cloud just kept quiet and looked at Cait Sith. Cait Sith calmed down and something caught his eye. It was Aeris that was standing next to Cloud.

"Hey!... I met you before somewhere..." Cait Sith exclaimed the minute he saw Aeris. He tried to recall who she was. Aeris bit her lower lips and hoped Cait Sith won't figure out who she was.

Oh yah! You are the flower girl at the church! Er... Cloud, what are doing with this girl here in the middle of the night? " Cait Sith asked with a shocked tone.

"He's um...my bodyguard! I got myself into trouble so I called in through the PHS for help. " Aeris blurted out what came by her mind.

"Cloud, you are a bodyguard? Why didn't you tell us earlier that you are one? We would at least know what happened to you and not get worried at a time like this! Oh well, better do all the explanation to Tifa. " Cait Sith said and led the two back to the 7th Heaven. Cloud looked at Aeris and saw her looking at the floor with her head down. He sensed that Aeris hid something from him, something real big.

Tifa was relieved when she heard her PHS rang bringing her good news. Cait Sith called her to tell her that he found Cloud. Soon the whole party was back at the 7th Heaven. The moment Tifa saw Cloud, Tifa was surprised to see the flower girl she met that day in the church sitting next to Cloud. She hoped that she was only being suspicious.

"Uh...Tifa..."

And so Cloud's explanation for the whole team started. He lied and made up things that made sense to cover up Aeris's identity. Aeris would once in a while back him up and made it sounded real.

"So Cloud is your bodyguard...I see...We already met twice but we don't even know your name. " Tifa asked Aeris after quite some explanation.

"It's Celes. " Aeris replied. Cloud looked at Aeris strangely but then quickly got rid of that look.

"Tifa, I know this sounds a little sudden but would you mind Celes staying with us? I am her bodyguard but I don't want to run away like just now every time she got into trouble. She will move out once everything is settled."

Cloud suggested. Tifa kept quiet and thought for a moment. Cloud's heart beat faster. Will Tifa agree?

"I don't mind. We have an empty room just down the hallway. You could sleep there if you wanted to. " Tifa replied and pointed to a door down the hallway.

"That's very kind of you. So uh...goodnight."

Aeris stood up and walked towards the room. Cloud looked at Tifa, hoping she wouldn't get suspicious and was relieved when she yawned and went up to her room. Cloud sat on his chair, thinking what will happen next.

"Do you really think having a stranger here is a good idea?" Red XIII asked to Cloud. Cloud didn't know how to reply. He could only ignore him and went up to his room.

Chapter 6

"Tomorrow..."

Cloud was sitting quietly in front of the windows staring at nowhere. One more day left to his wedding day. He was thinking about his wedding...and the incident with Aeris. He was thinking about many questions, questions that couldn't be figured out forever. Aeris's revival was too sudden. He never thought something like that would ever happen. He couldn't figure out Aeris didn't want the rest of the party that she's back, he also couldn't figure out what Sephiroth will do next. He had to think of a way out of this.

"Yo Cloud, wat's da hell's wrong with ya? You looked like that ever since you came back last night, don'tcha know your big day is tomorrow? " Barret suddenly appeared behind Cloud and pat him on the shoulder.

"It's nothing. Maybe I am just nervous. It's nothing, really. " Cloud replied while trying to hide the truth.

"Ya don't look like tha kind that will feel nervous before ya big day, well, just cheer up and get ready for tomorrow. " Barret consoled.

"Thanks. " Cloud answered and stood up and left Barret. He wanted to go out for a walk when he saw Marlene playing with a flower. That flower looked very familiar, it looked like the one...

"Where do you get that flower? " Cloud asked Marlene curiously

"Um...it's...my friend...yea, my friend in school gave it to me. " Marlene answered nervously.

Cloud took a better look at the flower. No doubt. This flower was exactly the same with the one he bought from Aeris a few days ago. As far as he know this flower could only grow in the northern continent. Why should Marlene lie to him?

"Marlene, tell me where you really got this flower, its not good to lie. " Cloud asked again.

Marlene started to look scared. She was afraid that something that happened to Pinocchio would happen to her if she lied.

"I promise her not to tell anyone. " Marlene said timidly. Cloud comforted Marlene with a pat on her shoulder.

"It's OK. I promise you not to tell anybody about this. " Cloud told Marlene with a polite tone.

"It's the flower girl in our house. I met her two days ago in an alley crying, so I talked to her and she gave me this flower. Is anything wrong with that? " Marlene answered.

These words struck Cloud like a lighting striking a tree. The word crying made him petrified.

Aeris crying? He hadn't seen Aeris crying before. As far as he know Aeris was a cheerful person, until he met her recently. Something hurt her, something that wounded her deep inside her heart...

"Uncle Cloud, are you alright? " Marlene spoke and brought Cloud back to reality.

"I am fine. " Cloud patted Marlene on the head and walked away.

This made him thought even more. Why would she cry? Marlene said it was two days ago, the day she entered the church.....and found out about my marriage......is that the reason she cried? Is that the reason why she didn't want the rest of the party know she was back? All that made senses. She still has feeling for Cloud. She also knew that Cloud....

Cloud immediately shook his thoughts off.

"No...I can't...I promised that I will marry Tifa and that is final. " He thought.

"If I go back to Aeris, Tifa would be devastated. " He thought again.

"But poor Aeris. She suffered and traveled so long and so far looking for me but suddenly found out that... "

Cloud was struggling with his thoughts. He didn't know what to do. His wedding was tomorrow. He had to decide whom he will going to be with. He admitted that for a time he liked Aeris more than Tifa but Tifa was his childhood friend. He joined soldier just to impress her and now when he was getting so close to her he just couldn't let it go.

Time flew by when he was thinking. It is already sunset but he hasn't decided whom to choose. He just couldn't leave Tifa, she was so excited with the wedding and she can't possibly take it if the wedding was canceled. But Aeris...what about Aeris? Deep down in his heart Cloud still has a part that loved her. He was devastated when Sephiroth killed her and he just couldn't leave her again.

"What am I going to do? " He cried out softly. He couldn't bear to break any of their heart. He needed more time to think.

"Yo Cloud! Wanna have a last drink before yer future wife forbid ya from drinkin' at the bar? "

Cloud got up from his dreams. It was already dark. He cleared off his head and opened the door. He saw both Cid and Barret standing in front of the door.

"Damn! You looked like a piece of s&*t! Come on, let's get a drink and flush that piece of s&*t off your face. " Cid said and made Cloud move.

"Ok, I will be down in a minute. " Cloud answered and slowly pushed himself up. He looked at the door, and walked out slowly.

 

Now Cloud, Barret and Cid were at the bar. At first Barret and Cid were pestering Cloud but after a few bottles, Barret and Cid were hopelessly drunk. Cloud could only rest his head and fell asleep on the table. He was too tired with his thoughts. He needed some sleep...

Cloud got up in a strange world. There were colors everywhere. They were really beautiful. Then something appeared in front of him. Something he didn't want to see. It was Aeris, locked in prayers in an altar.

Cloud shouted. He kept on shouting to ask her to run, but she couldn't hear his voice. Suddenly he saw Tifa behind him. She was wearing a red dress and a red hat and was carrying a long sword climbing up a flight of stairs. He ran towards her but then he hesitated. He knew Sephiroth is going to kill Aeris in any moment. He has to stop it. He ran towards Aeris. She was still locked in prayers. He shouted a few times but Aeris couldn't listen. She just continued to stay there. Suddenly he turned his head. He saw Tifa running further and further up the stairs. He didn't know what to do. Suddenly Sephiroth appeared in front of him.

"Choose Cloud. Choose. Aeris or Tifa? " Sephiroth had a wicked grin on his face. Suddenly two more Sephiroth appeared. One appeared in front of Aeris and another one in front of Tifa. Both of them readied their sword and they were ready to strike at any moment.

"No!!!!!!!!"

Cloud woke up and found himself laying on top of a table in the bar. He shook his head and found out that Cid and Barret were still hopelessly drunk. He stood up walked out of the bar.

"I know what I am going to do. "

Chapter 7

"What time is it Shera? " Cid moaned as he got up from a drunken state.

"He looked outside of the window. It was day already. He immediately jumped out of his chair and shake Barret violently.

"Marlene! Stop pesterin' me! " Barret moaned.

"God damn it Barret! Wake up you god damn SOB! We are late for the freakin' wedding!!! " Cid shouted.

Barret woke up instantly. He looked around. It was morning already. He took a look at the clock and saw the short hand pointed at nine. The wedding was supposed to start at eight.

"Come on old man! Tifa is gonna kill us if we were late! " Barret exclaimed and ran out of the bar with Cid without even paying. Boy they hoped the wedding was delayed.

"What took them so long? "

A girl in a wedding gown complained. It was nine fifteen already. Tifa was starting to get impatient.

Cloud, Barret and Cid hadn't shown up yet. The three of them must have got hopelessly drunk that night. Suddenly the church door opened and Barret and Cid rushed in while still putting on their coats.

"It's about time already. Where's Cloud? " Tifa asked when seeing only two man entering the church.

"I thought Cloud was here already. Isn't he here? " Barret asked with a surprised tone.

"No, Cloud hadn't show up yet. What did you two did to him yesterday? " Tifa asked nervously.

"We just got drunk and woke up finding ourselves late for the wedding. We thought Cloud came here already. " Cid answered.

"What happened to him? Why didn't he show up? " Tifa asked again.

Nobody answered. Tifa found a chair and sat down. Hours past by, but there are still no sign of Cloud. They tried to contact his PHS but he didn't turn it on. Tifa was afraid something happened to him. They wait for another hour but Cloud still didn't show up. Tifa had a bad feeling about this.

It was afternoon already. Cloud still didn't show up. Tifa was extremely worried about Cloud. All the members of the party started to look around. They were afraid that something bad has happened to Cloud.

Aeris was walking down the streets. She couldn't stop thinking about what happened today. She felt that she was responsible for that. She shouldn't have come to Kalm. She made Cloud had second thoughts about the wedding, he probably still...no it's impossible. He loved Tifa very much. He had feelings for her since he was a kid. He couldn't possibly...

"Aeris. "

"Aeris instantly recognized that voice. She turned around and she saw Cloud coming out from a dark alley. Cloud's hair was still in a mess and his clothes were crumbled. Cloud looked really desperate.

"Cloud, don't you know how worried we were because of you in that church? Why didn't you turn up? Tifa was really... "

"You know why I didn't turn up. You know. " Cloud said coldly.

"I...I don't understand. " Aeris replied with a bead sweat forming on her forehead.

"I don't know why I am doing this but deep in my heart I found out that I..." Cloud walked slowly towards Aeris. Aeris tried to step backwards but she couldn't. Her heart tell her not to.

"I actually still love you. " Cloud said when he was only less than a feet away from Aeris.

"No! This isn't true! Tell me that you still love Tifa! " Aeris shouted with her eyes shut and closed her ears with her hands.

"Aeris! Listen! " Cloud yelled. Aeris opened her eyes and looked at Cloud. Cloud was really desperate to act like this.

"I am not going to let you go, again." Cloud touched Aeris face with his hand. He slowly brought his other hand and held Aeris's hand. Her hand was trembling. Cloud brushed her hair and Aeris looked up. Their eyes met.

"Aeris, I still love you." Cloud said and pressed Aeris towards him. He hugged her and comforted her by caressing her back. Aeris rested her head on Cloud's shoulder. She didn't push Cloud away. She wanted this to happened ever since she knows him. But... she didn't want this to happen this way. Tears started to form in her eyes. . She felt guilty. She felt really sorry for Tifa.... She wanted to push him away but she too wanted to be in his arms a little longer, just a little longer....

"No...no..."

Cloud turned his head. To his shock he saw a girl in wedding dress standing not far from them covering her mouth with her hands. It's Tifa. There was a really an unspeakable expression in her face. She was really shocked to see her fiancée hugging another women.

Aeris immediately pushed Cloud away and wiped off her tears. Tifa turned around and ran away. Cloud wanted to pursue but then he hesitated.

"Go Cloud... go. Don't worry about me. I will be all right. " Aeris encouraged Cloud to pursue Tifa.

Cloud looked at Aeris for a moment then he nodded. He took off with the speed of the wind and disappeared among the buildings.

Aeris didn't know what to do. She felt really guilty. She didn't know how to confront Tifa in the future. She just stared at the spot where Cloud ran away.

"I am sorry, Tifa.....I am really, really sorry......"

"Tifa, wait! "

Cloud is chasing Tifa in the streets. He easily caught up with Tifa because Tifa was still in her wedding gown.

"Tifa, listen to me. I can explain..."

"No, I don't want to hear! I just couldn't take it. Maybe I don't really deserve you, Celes is more beautiful than I am! She is even more polite, kinder, more... "

"No, Tifa! It isn't because of that! It isn't because what you said just now! It's because Celes is..." Cloud spoke with a loud voice. Tifa closed her ears and tried to get away from Cloud.

"...Aeris. " Cloud finished and calmed down. Tifa looked up at him and a moment of silence occurred.

Chapter 8

Tifa stood there not moving staring at Cloud. She couldn't believe Cloud's words. Aeris is alive? How could that be possible? Everyone saw that. Sephiroth viciously stabbed her in the back. She couldn't possibly be alive. What wrong with Cloud? Had he gone mad? Unless...

"Cloud, you think you can get away with this by saying that Celes is Aeris? " Tifa spoke.

Tifa didn't buy it. She didn't believe Cloud this time.

"Tifa, I..." Cloud tried to explain but was cut off by Tifa.

"If you love her more than me, then stop torturing yourself and go back to her! " Tifa exclaimed. She then ran off leaving Cloud in a devastated state.

Cloud gazed at the spot where Tifa ran off. He didn't chase her. He wasn't sure what he had just done was right. He doubted his decision for not showing up at the wedding. Now he was really desperate.

Tifa went back to the 7th Heaven after that incident. She changed into her usual outfit and sat at the reception table. She stared at the door but actually her mind was somewhere else. She hadn't spoken a word since she came back. Only Yuffie, Red XIII and Cait Sith were in the 7th Heaven, trying to calm Cloud down.

"Tifa! Stop thinking about Cloud! He didn't show up at the wedding! He is a scum! He doesn't deserve a girl like you! Dump him! " Yuffie persuaded Tifa to dump Cloud.

"Yuffie you are making things worse. " Red XIII interrupted.

"Yea, Red's right! Tifa, don't worry. We will find him. " Cait Sith consoled.

"No, you all don't need to look for him. I already found him. " Tifa replied.

"You already found him? Where is he? " Red XIII asked curiously.

"He was with...someone else." Tifa answered and the others were astonished.

"When I found him, he was...he was with Celes. Celes was in his arms and they were..." Tifa stopped. She couldn't bear to continue. Tears began to form in her eyes.

"See! I told ya! Cloud is a scum! He just knew that girl for a couple of days and on his wedding day he was with her instead of you! God know what they were doing in that alley that night! Dump him Tifa! Dump him! " Yuffie persuaded Tifa to dump Cloud even more.

"I am sure Cloud won't do something like that! He must have his reasons. Right Red? " Cait Sith asked Red XIII.

"I am not sure. I had to admit I was quite shocked with this at first, but I believed Cloud still has feelings for Aeris, and since Celes looked so much like Aeris, I fear that..." Red XIII gave his opinion.

"No! I don't want to hear! Just leave me alone! "

Tifa cried out loud and then burst out into tears. They others looked at her with sympathy. She was once such a strong female that could resist any type of pain and go through all sorts of hardships. Now she was crying, because of someone, someone called Cloud.

"What's da hell wrong witcha Cloud?! How could yer just dump Tifa back at dat wedding?! Arggg!!! If it isn't because of Tifa I would had already blasted yer spiky ass! " Barret shouted out with his gunarm in the air.

"Barret's damn right Cloud. You really screwed up! I mean you really, really screwed up! How could you do that to Tifa?! I thought that dumb Shera screwed up enough, but you are ten times even worst than her! Goddammit! I felt like shove my spear into yer f*(kin' ass! " Cid continued.

Barret and Cid found Cloud later that day in the bar. The minute they saw Cloud, all sorts of "phrases" were heard in a kilometer's radius. The both of them nearly killed him for not showing up at the wedding.

"It's Aeris. It's because I still love Aeris. " Cloud said coldly.

"Whatcha doin' wit a dead person?! Goddammit, Aeris was dead, you hurt Tifa's feelings for a dead person?! " Barret shouted again.

"Aeris is alive. She is alive. " Cloud continued.

"What did ya mean Aeris alive?! Have you gone nuts because of the freakin' drink last night?! Did you want me to slap your f*&kin' ass so hard to make you wake up?! " Cid scolded.

"Aeris is here. You know her. You actually saw her but you don't know it's her. " Cloud replied.

"So who the hell is her?! " Cid and Barret asked with the top of their voices.

"Celes. " Cloud answered and took a sip of his drink. Cid and Barret looked at each other. Cloud needed a medical checkup.

A few hours past by and Aeris was still sitting on the sidewalks of the streets, alone. She felt really bad for what happened just now. She  didn't know what to do next.

Tifa....poor Tifa, how could she take it? She loved Cloud so much but all in a sudden her heart was mercilessly broken into pieces, all because of her. She shouldn't come to Kalm at the first place. She shouldn't even have been revived too. Tears formed in her eyes and they suddenly just burst out.

"Aeris. "

Aeris lifted up her head and saw Vincent standing in front of her. She was shocked to hear Vincent called her Aeris. She stood up to start a conversation.

"I am sorry that you mistaken me for someone..."

"Don't deny it, Aeris. Don't deny it. I know it's you. From the way you talk and walk I am absolutely sure that you are Aeris. " Vincent replied coldly.

Aeris was really shocked to hear Vincent said something like this. She didn't know that she was so transparent. She remained silent for a moment, and then Vincent spoke.

"Why are you crying? Is it because of Tifa? "

Aeris was even more shocked, how could Vincent know about everything? Did Cloud tell him about this?

"Did Cloud..." Aeris spoke but was cut off.

"No. Cloud didn't tell me. I just know. Tell me, do you love Cloud?"

Aeris didn't expect Vincent to ask something so directly. She didn't know what to say, but eventually she hung down her head and spoke.

"I do love Cloud. I love him very much. But I shouldn't. Cloud belongs to Tifa, they knew each other since they were still kids, and Tifa really cared for him. She could stay by him in the hospital of Mideel when Cloud lost his mind; she even risked her life to save him in the life stream. She loved him so much and she was so excited about the wedding. They were meant to be together, I couldn't just walk in and break them up. "

"So that's why you concealed your true identity so that they can be together? " Vincent said.

Aeris nodded.

"Come on, I got to bring you back. You got a lot of explanation to make. "

Vincent said and then stood up to lead Aeris back to the 7th Heaven. Aeris at first hesitated but then she knew she must explain what was going on. She looked at Vincent's back, and slowly followed him to face the others.

Cloud was now in the 7th Heaven. After Cid and Barret heard that he said Celes is Aeris, they brought him back for investigation. Everyone was there except for Vincent and Aeris.

Tifa was in her room. She was crying her heart out. She couldn't believe what had just happened. Had Cloud gone crazy and took Celes for Aeris? Why must he did that to her? More of her tears started to come down. But what if she really is Aeris? Aeris had always been a good friend to her, she treated her just like a sister, she just couldn't hate her, Aeris is just too…. nice.

Probably Cloud and Aeris were meant to be together. Even Cait Sith said that in the Temple of the Ancients. Cloud was really devastated when they lost Aeris. She just couldn't break them apart after all this had happened. But…She still love Cloud, she couldn't bear to him go...

Tifa sank her head down and broke into tears again. Suddenly there was some loud noise outside the room. Tifa quickly wiped off her tears and walked out of the room.

"What da hell ya mean Celes is Aeris? Are ya nuts or what? " Barret exclaimed.

"Aeris is an ancient, we don't know what she is capable of. " Red XIII interrupted.

"But if all ancient can revive like she could, their race won't even extinct! " Yuffie added.

"But Aeris is special! She probably is the last of her kind so the planet doesn't want her to die! " Cait Sith added some more.

Everyone was busy arguing about this issue. But Cloud and Tifa just stay still at their positions quietly listening to the others. They just don't have the mood to talk about this. After all this that happened, they couldn't just stop thinking about it.

Suddenly the door opened. Two person came in. It was Vincent and Aeris. Cloud walked towards Aeris, faced everyone and announced.

"Everyone, meet Aeris. "

Chapter 9

The entire room went silent. Aeris slowly walked towards everyone and looked at them. She tried to avoid eye contact with everybody and slowly walked towards the main hall.

Aeris found a couch and sat down. Everyone stared at her waiting for an explanation. She didn't like that feeling. Everyone with their eyes on her... She just didn't feel right. Tifa gave her a cup of tea to calm her down. Then she started her long explanation one what was going on.

"I see, because you saved the planet so the planet let you reincarnate without erasing your memories? " Red XIII asked.

Aeris nodded. After the long explanation, everyone believed that Celes is Aeris. They kept firing questions at Aeris until she didn't know which to answer first. Suddenly Cloud stood up and spoke.

"I am afraid that there's a bigger problem we are going to face. Aeris left out an important matter. Sephiroth is back. "

Everyone stared at Cloud in horror. Sephiroth is... back? After all the trouble and hardships they've been to. Sephiroth is back? They have to face him again? They just couldn't accept this. It was too sudden.

"Sephiroth is back? " Tifa asked nervously.

Cloud nodded. He then slowly explained what happened that night in that alley.

"Cloud! Sephiroth was back and you didn't even wanted to tell us?! Are you nuts?!" Cid exclaimed after hearing Cloud explanation.

"It's nothing to do with Cloud. It is I. I don't want to ruin the wedding and...." Aeris answered for Cloud but Cloud and Tifa's expression changed suddenly. Aeris stopped and calmed down.

"So what are we going to do? " Vincent asked.

"I suggest we start looking for clues tomorrow. " Cloud answered. He then stood up and walked towards his room. Aeris and Tifa too went back to their room and left the others stunned with what that was going on.

Cloud was up all night. He just couldn't sleep. He was still thinking about Aeris and Tifa. He doubt whether his actions were right. He couldn't bear to hurt any of their hearts, again.

Suddenly he heard a voice.

"Come, puppet, come to me. "

He shook his head. But he still heard those voices.

"Come, puppet, are you afraid? "

Cloud shook his head again. He muttered something.

"No, I am not afraid of you. "

"Then, come. Challenge me. Come to the top of the Shinra building, alone."

Cloud didn't know what he was doing. He was like... manipulated. He went to the storeroom, took out his battle equipment, and put it on.

Cloud was ready. He was ready to meet Sephiroth again, alone. Sephiroth came back to challenge him. He had to face it, himself. He found a pen and a piece of paper and then wrote something on it. Then he left the 7th Heaven for his ultimate battle.

"Where the hell did Cloud put those materia? " Yuffie thought.

Yuffie was sneaking around the 7th heaven late at night. She just couldn't find where Cloud put all his materia. She just kept looking.

"This is the only room I haven't checked yet. " She whispered to herself.

She turned the knob of the door. It was locked. Damn it! She should have known. She pulled a hairpin out of her pocket and started picking the lock. 

"Bingo! "

She managed to pick the lock. She slowly opened the door and entered the room. She switched on her flash light and shone around.

"Wow..."

She took a look around the room. There were battle equipment everywhere. But the thing that caught her eyes was nothing other than the materia, neatly arranged in order on the shelves. She felt like she just entered a gold mine.

"Where did Cloud put that Knights of the Round materia? "

She ransacked through some of the crates. Suddenly, she heard footsteps. She panicked. She closed the door and hid at a dark corner. She hoped the person wouldn't come in.

Someone opened the door. She expected the person to start checking around after finding out that the lock was broken. But she just saw Cloud came in, grabbed some equipment and went out. She was relieved for a moment.

She got up and ransacked the spot that Cloud took his equipment. She found a red glowing materia.

"Wow! A level 1 Knights of the Round materia! Cloud must have took the mastered one. "

Yuffie was so pleased to have the materia in her hands, but suddenly her expression changed.

"Why would Cloud got up so late at night to get his equipment? "

Yuffie sensed something-fishy going on. She followed Cloud. She saw him writing a note and then left the house. There is a wark of a chocobo. Yuffie read the note Cloud wrote.

To all my friends,

By time you read this note I am already on top of the Shinra building fighting Sephiroth. Don't worry about me. I will settle this once and for all.

Cloud

Yuffie's face turned white instantly, she thought of chasing Cloud but she was too late. Cloud had gone too far on his chocobo. With lightning speed, she took the note and woke everyone up.

Cloud was walking down the streets of Midgar. He parked his chocobo not far outside the slums. He hadn't confronted any monsters yet. Probably the monsters were too scared of him or there were no monsters left. But all this didn't bother him. All he could think of is defeating Sephiroth. That is all he thought about.

Now the Shinra Building was just in front of him. It was severely destroyed by meteor. There were no more galss windows and there was mould everywhere. It looked like a huge tombstone.

Cloud entered the building. It was quiet, in fact, too quiet. He took a look at the elevator. Surprisingly, it was still working. He examined it and found out it was repaired. The person up there not only summoned him, he even made it easy for him to confront him.

Cloud entered the elevator and pressed the button to the highest floor. The elevator shook violently at first, but then started moving upwards. He was on his way to his ultimate battle.

"What? Did'cha say dat Cloud go to dat Shinra building all by himself? " Barret exclaimed.

"It's true! I saw Cloud went out riding a chocobo! He must have gone to confront Sephiroth all by himself! " Yuffie said.

"No! He can't! Sephiroth is too powerful. He is no match for him! " Aeris cried out.

"We got to go help him! It's his only chance! " Tifa continued.

"But how? Cloud got the only chocobo and it's impossible for us to catch up with him in time! " Red XIII said.

Everyone looked at each other. They have to reach Cloud fast, before something happened to him. There must be something they could do.

"If only I have my highwind here instead of leaving it with Shera in rocket town... "

Cid muttered but was cut off by a rumbling sound on top of them. Everyone ran out of the house. There was an enormous airship hovering ontop of the 7th Heaven. It was the Highwind! It's a miracle!

After a short while everyone saw the Highwind, they saw Shera coming out of the highwind shouting.

"I am sorry captain! But the tiny bronco just....." Shera shouted against the loud engine roar of the highwind.

"Nevermind Shera! You came at the right time! Throw down the ladder! We are coming aboard!" Cid shouted and Shera nodded. She ran into the deck to get the rope ladder.

"Damn....why is she here only when I desperately needed her?"

Cid muttered to himself while looking at Shera descending the ladder. He looked as the others quickly climbed up the ladder. It was a miracle she showed up. Again, she showed up at the right time.

Chapter 10

The elevator door opened. Cloud walked out of it and looked around. Yep, he was on the top of the Shinra building. He saw Sephiroth standing not far from him, smirking.

"You have come. " Sephiroth said with a grin on his face.

"I come to settle this once and for all. " Cloud replied.

"So let's just finished it. " Sephiroth said. He immediately pulled out his sword and charged towards Cloud.

Cloud pulled out his sword too; there were thunderous clangs and flashes of light. Cloud knew what he was doing now. His mind was clearer than before. He skillfully blocked Sephiroth's slashes and attacks whenever possible. But he was still no match for Sephiroth. Sephiroth easily dodged all Cloud's attack and sometimes almost knocked Cloud off his feet with his blows. Sephiroth is on the winning side. He was toying Cloud, sometimes frightening him with fake blows and blocked Cloud's attack as it was a warm up. He still hadn't shown his true strength yet.

Cloud started to exhaust. He knew he couldn't win if the whole battle goes on like this. But he was ready for this. He knew how he could defeat Sephiroth. He leapt backwards and pulled out a fire red materia, he muttered something in his mouth.

"Ultimate..... "

But before he could finish casting, Sephiroth jumped with full speed and appeared in front of Cloud. He attacked him with a powerful blow that knocked him off the ground. The Knights of the Round materia flew off from him hand and landed far, far away. Cloud stared with horror as he saw the materia not his hand. Cloud at first thought he could defeat Sephiroth with that spell. But now Cloud's chance of winning is really slim.

Cloud got up again and brought up his sword. He slashed at Sephiroth again and again but all his efforts seemed to be useless. Sephiroth could either block or dodge every blow Cloud gave him. He was just too powerful for Cloud.

Sephiroth counter attacked Cloud with a really strong blow. Cloud flew backwards and crashed onto the floor in terrible pain. Cloud couldn't fight anymore. He tried to cast cure on himself but it was useless. He had exhausted himself badly.

"Let's end this. " Sephiroth walked towards Cloud. He rose up his sword and was ready to give Cloud a killing blow.

"Highwind! "

An enormous airship was seen on top of Sephiroth and Cloud. The two of them didn't notice it coming. Cloud quickly crawled backwards while a barrage of missiles blasted at Sephiroth. Sephiroth was knock off the ground by that strong blow. All the other members of the Avalanche jumped off the plane and joined the fight. Aeris quickly cast fullcure on Cloud while the others attacked Sephiroth with their most powerful attacks.

The whole situation changed when all of them appeared at once. Nine on one. Sephiroth was now standing on the losing side. But the evil grin on his mouth grew larger.

"Do you think I am not ready for this? I had earlier expected something like this to happen. Now all of you must die! Jenova Change! " Sephiroth shouted.

A roar was heard. From a human sized being, Sephiroth changed into a huge monster at least twenty feet tall. It has claws which its fingernails are even larger than Cloud's sword, a body that towered high over the highwind and the ugliest face nobody had ever seen.

"Now where did that came from? " Cid asked.

The monster's huge claw came down and knocked everyone off their feet instantly. It roared so loud that it almost made everyone deaf. The monster struck again. Again everyone was hit by the huge claw and was severely injured. Now everyone started casting cure and defensive spells on each other just to stay alive a little longer. Chance of winning was slim. The monster was too strong. They didn't even have a chance to attack.

Soon all the members of the party except Cloud were unconscious. Cloud looked at them in horror. He picked up his sword and ran for cover. But everything he did was useless. The monster's claw could easily destroy even the strongest metal. He was in deep trouble. Cloud dodged another of the monster's attack by an inch.

"How I hope I still have my Knights of the Round materia. " Cloud wished when he dodged another attack.

Suddenly he saw something red in color glowing in Yuffie's pocket. It was the same glow of a Knights of the Round materia. Cloud lunged forward to Yuffie's unconscious body and pulled the materia out of her pocket.

"Ultimate End!!! "

Cloud then disappeared and everything went black. Instantly thirteen knight in shining armor came out attacking the monster constantly. The monster cried out loudly in pain but the knights show no mercy. After the last knight slashed the monster with its big sword, Cloud appeared again. But now the monster was not moving. Slowly it transformed into Sephiroth.

"It's.....It's not possible.....how could I be defeated?! " Sephiroth asked himself.

"Sephiroth, prepare to die!!!!! " Cloud shouted and brought up his sword. Cloud was ready to attack Sephiroth with a killing blow. His sword will slash Sephiroth into two in any moment.

Suddenly Cloud stopped. He couldn't move. He tried with all his might to move but he couldn't. He just couldn't move. Sephiroth was holding a green materia in his hand. It was a time materia. Sephiroth just casted stop on Cloud. Sephiroth walked towards Cloud and took Cloud's sword out from his hands.

"Couldn't believe that you lost to me just because of a simple spell huh? " Sephiroth said.

"Now let me make you suffer. " Sephiroth continued.

Sephiroth brought up his sword. He walked towards Tifa and Aeris that was still unconscious.

"Shall I kill the ancient, or your childhood friend? " He said evilly.

Cloud stared at him in horror. He couldn't even speak. All he could do is watch.

"Let's see, who did you like more, the ancient or the childhood friend? " Sephiroth said.

Beads of sweat were now all over Cloud. He just couldn't bear to see one of them die.

"Choose Cloud, choose. " Sephiroth continued.

Cloud couldn't. He couldn't let any of them die. He loved them both equally and can't bear to see any of them die.

"Since you can't choose, I will choose. " Sephiroth finished and walked towards Tifa.

"Prepare to suffer. " Sephiroth said and raised his sword. He was going to kill Tifa the same way as he killed Aeris.

"No!!!!!!! " Cloud shouted. He could move! The spell was gone! Cloud dashed towards Sephiroth but Sephiroth's sword went down.

There was a moment of silence. Sephiroth's sword went through something. Tifa was unharmed but Cloud.....Sephiroth's sword ran through Cloud instead of Tifa.

"Looked like I killed you instead. " Sephiroth said evilly and let go his sword. He started laughing like a madman and his laughter grew louder and louder every second. Cloud couldn't fell the pain; he felt his life seeping away slowly. He saved Tifa. He saved her life in exchange of his. He didn't regret it.

"Never underestimate your opponent..." Cloud struggled to speak.

 "Until... he is totally defeated. "

Cloud said softly. He immediately pulled the sword out of his body and took a strong grip on it. He charged towards Sephiroth like a madman. He used the sword to slash Sephiroth again and again. Sephiroth had no sword to defend himself, he could not block any of his blows. He could only receive them, again and again. Cloud didn't stop slashing Sephiroth. He just kept on slashing and slashing, even more times than he encountered a year ago in the lifestream of the northern crater. He had no second thoughts, he only thought of killing Sephiroth, that's all he thought about.

Sephiroth finally fell onto the floor. His body was covered with blood. Cloud looked at his body for a moment, then he crashed onto the floor and became unconscious. There was a smile on his face. He succeeded, in defeating Sephiroth, again.

Tifa woke up with a terrible headache. The first thing she saw is Cloud lying next to her. Not far away was Sephiroth's body lying there. Tifa crawled toward Sephiroth. She checked her pulse. Nothing. Sephiroth was dead.

"Cloud, wake up Cloud! Sephiroth is dead. We did it! " Tifa said while shaking Cloud. But Cloud didn't respond.

"Cloud! Did you hear me? Cloud! Wake up! Please! Don't frighten me! " Tifa said again but still no respond from Cloud.

She grabbed Cloud's hand, her face turned white immediately. His hands were cold. She put her finger on his nose to check his breath. There was no breath. Tifa heard someone approaching her, she turned her head and saw Aeris standing behind her.

"Tifa, What happened to Cloud? " Aeris asked nervously.

Tifa didn't answered. She bit her lower lips and sniffed. Aeris got more anxious and she asked Tifa the same question again. Tears flowed down from Tifa cheek and then she let them flow uncontrollably.

"Cloud's...........Cloud's gone. " Tifa said softly.

Aeris was stunned for a moment. She didn't thought that something like this would happen. She just stood there for a moment, and then she fell on her she knees and past out.

On this day, Cloud Strife was presumed... death.

Chapter 11

It was a fine day in Kalm. But the atmosphere in the 7th Heaven was terrible. Everyone was there but they were all very quiet. Something's missing. Their cocky leader Cloud Strife was missing. And he will be, forever.

Aeris was sitting in front of the window, her eyes were red, and obviously she had been crying for the past few days. She looked really depressed.

"Cloud…where are you now?" Aeris whispered softly to herself.

Suddenly she felt a hand comforting her on her shoulder. She turned her head and saw Tifa. Her eyes were red too. She must have been crying lately too.

"Looks like both of us lost the all ones we loved, right?" Tifa started.

Tifa was right, Aeris thought. She had lost all her family and friends in the destruction of Nibelherm. The only person that she grew up with was Cloud. But now he was gone too. Although she still had the Avalanche with her, but that wasn't enough. She needed someone that grew up with her to care about her. Now she really lost all her past.

"So what are you going to do?" Aeris asked.

"I don't know. But I have to go on with my life, so I guess I will have to live on with this inn and the others. What about you?" Tifa replied.

"I thought about it. This place had too many painful memories. I thought of going back to the icicle inn to learn more about the ancients." Aeris said.

"That is a good idea too. So when are you leaving?" Tifa asked.

"Tomorrow." Aeris replied.

Aeris was standing on the deck of the highwind. She had left Kalm in the highwind that morning. She wanted to continue her journey to the icicle inn, somewhere that she could live in peace and quiet, and somewhere that she could forget about all that had happened. She looked at the blue skies, there were some Clouds floating peaceful beyond the horizon.

"Aeris."

Aeris turned her head. She saw Tifa coming from behind her.

"The clouds. They are beautiful aren't they?" Aeris said.

"They are indeed. But they really reminded me of someone else." Tifa replied.

"It's Cloud isn't it?" Aeris asked.

Tifa nodded.

"I really miss him. But he will never be back. I guess I better go back down. Yuffie is having her airsick again." Tifa said and walked back into the highwind.

Aeris followed her. But then she turned her head and had a last look at those clouds.

"Cloud, I will miss you, always."

The End

Something from da Author:

So...did you like it? This was actually an improved version of the actual fic on FF8source. I am currently working on a sequel and if you would to read it, visit http://www.geocities.com/stormguy71/ to know what happened then!

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