A/N: Okay, so this story is...well, I read on a SquareEnix site that Angeal, from Last Order, was the model for Cloud, but then Square Enix decided to make Angeal a character and made a 'new' Cloud. Angeal had wings...well, a wing. And the first time I ever 'met' Cloud was in Kingdom Hearst I, and he has a wing in that too...so I wrote this story...

There are a few OC, but they just help the story move along. FLAMES, REVIEWS, IDEAS WELCOME:-)

Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy VII...don't sue me, please! I'm poor!


To Grow Wings

"Growing wings isn't the hardest part; it's the flying that gets ya"

"Really, I'm just not good at anything…" Cloud muttered, watching 1st rank SOLDIER Zack duke it out with Sephiroth. By his count, this was Zack's fifth re-match…he'd lost every time. He waited for Colby, the Shinra Soldier sitting next to him, to reply. Instead, he got a slap in the back of the head.

"Come on, Spiky!" Colby moaned, shaking his head, "You're really good at a lot of stuff."

"Yeah, like what?"

"Like being able to tell when someone's about to lose, their weakness and strengths, and so forth. By the way, how's Zack doing?" Colby asked, looking back at Zack and Commander Sephiroth, and knowing who was going to win…again.

"He's going to find himself thrown across the room in a matter of seconds…" Cloud replied, not looking up from the ground he seemed so focused on.

"Why's that?"

"He just lost his stance."

"Huh?" No time for a reply from Cloud, though, for Sephiroth, once again, had found a way to best Zack and sent him flying across the room.

"Watch where you're aiming!" yelled Commander Iah Ling, the only SOLDIER to even stand a chance against Sephiroth. Last time the two of them had fought…well, there was no winner, and both Iah and Sephiroth couldn't move for a week afterward. The battle had gone one for three days.

"Sorry, Iah…" Zack whined, struggling to get up on his feet again. "I demand a rematch!" Sephiroth groaned.

"No," he said, "I've beaten you five…"

"Six…" Cloud corrected.

"Six times. You're just going to lose again."

"I am not!" Zack said, grinning.

"Give it a rest, Zacky!" Lei Tien, Iah's little sister, said. She was known for giving everyone pet names. Zack shrugged and grabbed Sephiroth's wrist, much to the Commander's disgust.

"Who dares face the infamous Sephy-san? The destroyer of worlds, disrupter of peace, and bringer of anything unpleasant!" Zack offered, holding up Sephiroth's hand as if he were the winner of a boxing match.

"Things unpleasant? Like Hojo?" Colby vouched. There was spread laughter throughout the room.

"Not funny…" Sephiroth retorted.

"No one? Is no one brave enough to face SOLDIER's own One Winged Angel?" Zack continued.

"Since when was I the One Winged…" Sephiroth started.

"I'll face him." Everyone looked around to see who'd spoken up. To most of their surprise, it was Cloud.

"Shadow? Ya sure?" Lei Tien asked, shocked.

"Anyone who could stand a chance?" Sephiroth asked.

"What, you scared I'll win, Commander?" Cloud mocked. He had no idea where that came from.

"A Shinra Grunt of your status? I bet you don't last five minutes."

"Five minutes, huh? How much ya goin' ta wager?"

"How about my life?"

"Too drastic, Commander. I'd hate to try and explain to Hojo why his prized SOLDIER killed himself," Cloud shrugged. "But you can take kitchen duty off my hands. I hate cleaning. 'Specially after you slobs."

"Fine. You last more than five minutes, and I'll pick up kitchen duty for the rest of your stay at the base."

"Deal," Cloud grinned. Iah Ling and Zack took two steps back. Cloud never smiled.

"Well, choose your weapon," Sephiroth said.

"Don't got one. Let's go. Who's keeping time?" Cloud said, squaring off.

"I am…" another SOLDIER, by the name of Jericho, offered. "Go."

Sephiroth laughed and ran forward, sword ready to impale anything in its area of reach. He'd moved so fast that he'd expected to catch Cloud off-guard. To his surprise, Cloud was gone by the time he'd begun to charge.

"Up here, Sir," Cloud said, dropping from the rafters and drop-kicking Sephiroth in the shoulder. Sephiroth grabbed his foot and flung him at the wall. Cloud did a handstand that defied physics and then rebounded, getting cheers from the bystanders. Sephiroth countered with a long arc motion with his sword. Cloud had to back flip to avoid getting his nose cut off. He landed on his feet and tried to attack the Commander from behind. His efforts were for the worse, for Sephiroth whipped around with amazing speed and caught his shoulder with the tip of Masume. He forced himself to hide his pain as he jumped back.

Why am I so tired? I've only been hit once… Cloud thought. Then he remembered what Zack had said about Sephiroth's weapon. Every hit felt like twenty strikes with a whip. The sword could be said to have the ability to suck the energy from anything it struck. He looked up to see Sephiroth smiling. He knew it'd only been a couple minutes. Think! What can I do that will catch him off guard?! He only had one idea. He ran forward, charging like a mad man.

It worked. Sephiroth wasn't expecting that. Cloud was able to get a few good hits in before having to retreat again. Hurry up, time… Cloud jumped to attack again but suddenly found himself slammed face first into the ground. He began to move but felt something cool and sharp on the back of his neck.

"I win, you lose…" laughed Sephiroth, "I warned you, didn't I, Cloud?" No reply came from the young Shinra soldier. He was thinking.

"What time is it? Jericho?" Sephiroth smiled. "It's over."

"No it's not!" Cloud yelled, grabbing Masume with his hand and ripping it from Sephiroth's grip. Sephiroth fell back, searching for his sword as Cloud stood up and charged him with new found strength. His strikes could have broken the bones of any normal human. Sephiroth only tried to dodge them until one of the attacks drew blood. Then he stopped playing around. Still not regaining his sword, he used his second best weapon.

Cloud charged Sephiroth again, suddenly thinking maybe he could win. He'd never even thought he'd make it this far and still be alive. But then, at least for him, time stopped.

"Cheat!" Zack yelled, "We never said Materia was allowed!"

"You never said it wasn't, either," Sephiroth replied, laughing. Cloud just hung in mid air, frozen by a Time spell.

"Commander, let him go!" Iah yelled suddenly. Sephiroth looked at her and rolled his eyes.

"Fine. Ruin the fun, why don't you?" he replied, letting Cloud fall to the ground and holding him there with Gravity spell. Cloud struggled to break free of the spell, though it was like trying to move a ton of concrete from of his back. Sephiroth looked back at Jericho.

"Time?" he asked. The old SOLDIER smiled.

"Fifteen minutes," he replied, laughing. Sephiroth's face dropped to a look of awe.

"One for each year his is old," Lei Tien stated, smiling. "Hail Shadow!"

"Hail Shadow!" Zack, Iah, Colby, and a few others chanted. From where he lay, though, Cloud felt overwhelming defeat. And his arm hurt, dreadful pain spreading through his body. He should have never expected to win. Sephiroth released the spell's hold on him, allowing him to stand up. His glowing blue eyes made contact with Sephiroth's green. To his surprise, words slipped from his mouth. Word even he didn't understand.

"Estuns interius, ira vehementi?" Sephiroth stared at him, not understanding. But, with that, Cloud fled the room.

What he left behind was a group of shocked SOLDIERs and Colby.

"What did he say?" Zack asked anyone in the room.

"Sounded like he was speakin' Ancient…" Jericho answered. "Meanin' I ain't got a clue what he said."

"That was Ancient all right…" Lei Tien said.

"Burning inside with violent anger…" Iah muttered.

"Say again?" Zack asked.

"He said 'Burning inside with violent anger…'" Iah repeated. "But I don't know why…"

"Impossible!" Sephiroth yelled. Colby jumped about three feet into the air.

"What's impossible?" he asked.

"Cloud can't read emotions!" Sephiroth ranted. Everyone in the room was mystified, and no one knew what to say.


"Where did that come from?" Cloud muttered, walking slowly back to the room he shared with Zack and Sephiroth. His armed throbbed but he ignored it. He also noticed that his hand had a long gash where he'd grabbed Masume and flung it away. "It's not natural just to spit out a slur of gibberish, is it?"

"Depends on what you say, boy." Cloud stopped dead as the hair on his neck stood up straight.

"P-professor H-hojo…" Cloud stammered. Great! I do NOT want to deal with this!

"Do you always talk to yourself?" the Professor asked. Cloud knew that Hojo had some idea of who he was. He was always hanging around Zack and the other 1st class SOLDOERs, so Hojo had probably seen him a few times at least.

"Just thinking aloud, Sir."

"Of course. Well, answer this then, what did you say?"

"Nothing, Sir. Gibberish, that's it."

"What did you say?" Hojo repeated.

"Estuns interius, ira vehementi…" Cloud answered.

"WHAT?!" Cloud didn't stick around to answer. He just ran.


"You told Hojo?!" Zack exclaimed. It was after dinner, and Sephiroth still wasn't back from the kitchen. Zack and the other SOLDIERs had encouraged everyone to have seconds and thirds. Hey, tonight wasn't chicken, and Sephy-san was cleaning up, so, dig in!

"Yes…" Cloud moaned, voice muffled by his pillow.

"Why did you tell Hojo?" Zack asked, flabbergasted.

"You told Hojo?!" Sephiroth said, coming in.

"I GET IT ALREADY! I MESSED UP! NOW STOP REPEATING EACH OTHER!" Cloud yelled.

"If I were you, I'd high tail it to Wutai…." Sephiroth said, "And they hate SOLDIERs…"

"I'm not a SOLDIER."

"Fooled me," Zack assured. Cloud looked up at Zack for a moment before concealing his head in his pillow once more.

"I see why they call you Shadow…" Sephiroth muttered, sitting on his bed. While Cloud and Zack shared a bunk bed, Sephiroth was lucky enough to get his own bed, though it was shoved against the wall so there would be some room to walk. Zack sat on the lower bunk bed, sighing.

"Not to change the subject, but how was doing dishes, Sephy-san?" Zack asked.

"I told you not to call me that," Sephiroth grumbled, twitching slightly.

"Just answer the question."

"It was torture."

"It's not that bad," Cloud said, grinning, "Just get used to it, too. 'Cause I plan to be here awhile…"

"God help me…" Sephiroth moaned. Zack and Cloud looked at each other before laughing out loud.


Cloud sat in the infirmary a week after fighting Sephiroth, getting a check up on his shoulder and hand. Jericho, who was in charge of the place, was looking at Cloud's hand while talking.

"You did really well against him, ya know?" Jericho said. He was about 40 years old and had more grey hair than he needed for his age. Of course, making sure all the SOLDIERs around here stayed healthy was enough to drive anyone insane. Plus, Jericho was one of the only people Cloud knew who didn't look down of Shinra Soldiers as being the worst of the worst. That was one of the reasons Cloud had a high respect for him.

"Yeah, but I coulda done better…" Cloud stated quietly.

"If you do any better than that, Cloud, we might not have a SOLDIER Commander anymore," Jericho laughed. "You've made some stunning progress in the time you've been here."

"How do you know?" Cloud asked.

"Well, I watch and listen, just like you do. I can't fight anymore, as you know, but I still know what a good fighter looks like," the old SOLDIER replied. "Plus, this is the first time you've ever been to the infirmary." Cloud nodded, wincing as Jericho re-bandaged his hand.

"It'll take a while to heal…" Jericho said when he noticed Cloud was watching his hand gingerly. "It's a deep cut."

"And my shoulder?"

"Less time than the hand, but still more time then you want."

"Oh…"

"I'm surprised that you're still up and walking. Most people can't move for a week after fighting Sephiroth. He cheats, you know. Using Masume is cheating, seeing as it has a Life-Steal spell on it."

"It does? That explains why you feel like dying after getting hit once, huh?" Cloud mused.

"Yep. Hate to feel what it would be like if he actually impaled you with that thing," Jericho shivered. "Well, you can go now, but take it easy, alright?" Cloud nodded and was about to leave when two people, a scientist and a SOLDIER, walked in.

"AHA! There you are," said the SOLDIER. He was tall, with spiky black and grey hair that looked like it hadn't been brushed in years. His left eye was covered by an eye patch and he had a mustache and gotte.

"Huh?" Cloud asked, thinking he was in trouble. Jericho groaned.

"Gibbs! Move, I can't see!" came a woman's voice from behind the SOLDIER. Cloud was surprised to see a Shinra Scientist jumping up and down behind the tall man, as if trying to see over his shoulder but not being tall enough to do so. She had long, straight brown hair that had been pulled sloppily up into a pony tail, though the band she was using to hold her hair back looked about ready to break. Her clothes consisted of a white lab coat, blue jeans and a red long sleeved shirt, and tennis shoes; not what you'd think a scientist would wear.

"Commander Gibbs? Mrs. Dega?" Jericho asked, laughing.

"Ex-Commander…" Gibbs, the SOLDIER, muttered, "Woulda been a Commander if that runt Sephiroth hadn't stepped in."

"Runt? Gibbs, we've gone over this. Sephiroth is taller than you," Dega corrected as she stopped jumping.

"Uh, not meaning to be rude, but…who are you people?" Cloud asked.

"Huh? Oh, sorry. Never introduced myself ta ya, midget."

"Gibbs! Be nice," Dega scolded, punching Gibbs in the shoulder.

"OW! Jericho, my shoulder hurts. Is that normal?" Gibbs asked. Jericho grinned.

"Due to the fact that Dega is your wife, yes, that's normal…" he replied. Cloud stared at them in awe.

"What? Somethin' on my face?" Gibbs questioned.

"Oh, I get it. We don't look like the normal people to get married, do we?" Dega mused, smiling politely. Cloud nodded. He just didn't see the two of them as a couple. It just didn't make sense to him, but he didn't say anything.

"Why did you come looking for Cloud anyway?" Jericho asked, changing the subject.

"Cloud? Yer name's Cloud? Cloud what?" Gibbs asked.

"Strife, Sir."

"Hm, fits," Gibbs muttered.

"Huh?"

"Yer the kid who beat Sephiroth, right?"

"No Sir, he beat me…" Cloud replied, wishing the SOLDIER hadn't brought it up.

"Not how I heard it," Gibbs stated, in an I'm-right-your-wrong kind of tone.

"How'd you hear it?" Jericho asked. "And Cloud, you did win, by the way."

"No I didn't, he pinned me to the floor with a gravity spell."

"And your still alive?!" Dega asked, shocked.

"Last time I checked…" Cloud replied slowly. Gibbs roared with laughter.

"That crazed scientist and blocks-for-brains President have really lost it. I bet they're scared of you, kid. No wonder yer not a SOLDIER. They wouldn't want any competition for their beloved Commander, now would they?" Gibbs ranted, grinning. Sephiroth walked in during his ranting, and immediately glared at him.

"Gibbs…what a…pleasure it is to see you again," he said coldly. Gibbs stopped laughing.

"Twiggy! How've you been?" he countered, grinning like a mad man.

"Here they go again…" Dega muttered, sitting down on the bed next to Cloud.

"What'cha doin' here, Stick boy? Come to wreck the day?"

"I came to check on Cloud, but it seems you've already drove him to insanity."

"I'm fine, actually…" Cloud pointed out, but he was pretty sure he was being ignored by everyone except Dega and Jericho.

"Check on the kid? Oh, you mean to apologize, right Leaf for Brains?" Gibbs mused.

"Apologize for what?" Sephiroth countered.

"Woundin' 'im, Bark Butt."

"Wounding him? It was a fight, a duel. One must know he will get hurt before stepping into the ring, or else he'll end up dead! Cloud knew the risks, so I have nothing to apologize for."

"You keep talkin' like that, and I'll start callin' ya Hojo….Hojo."

"I'm not that insane maniac!"

"You're being redundant."

"It would be ironic if Hojo walked in right now…" Dega mused, following the argument between her husband and Sephiroth with her eyes, a grin planted on her face. Finally, she stood up and, in a voice that didn't seem to fit such a petit scientist, ordered:

"Gibbs, act you age! Sephiroth, act you intelligence!" Both men stopped fighting and stared at her, looking guilty. Gibbs made eye contact with Cloud, who was watching him. Only what seemed like a minute afterwards, Gibbs tore his eyes away, looking at the wall.

"CREEPY!" he said, shivering. "Vince woulda liked ya….Creepy eyed squirt…"

"My eyes aren't creepy, they're normal," Cloud said, looking confused. Dega got up and knelt in front of Cloud, staring into his eyes. Cloud stared back, confused.

"You want Gibbs to shave his mustache and gotte because they make him look stupid? And you think of Sephiroth as a son?" Cloud inquired.

"What?!" Sephiroth and Jericho yelped.

"You think my mustache makes me look stupid?!" Gibbs cried, sounding hurt.

"Now how did you know that?" Dega asked calmly.

"You just told me, ma'am."

"Cloud, Dega didn't say anything…." Jericho stated. Sephiroth felt jealousy weighing in on his brain.

"What are you jealous for? I'm the lowest of the low!" Cloud shouted at Sephiroth, standing up. He grabbed his helmet and stormed out of the room.

"There he goes again, reading emotions…" Sephiroth groaned.

"Not emotions, Sephiroth…" Dega corrected. "Minds."

"Just like you, Turnkey," Gibbs stated. "Just like you."


"Sephy-san told me ya read minds, Shadow," Zack said. He, Cloud, Iah Ling, and Lei Tien were playing poker. Sephiroth was doing dishes in the next room.

"I can not," Cloud countered, looking at his cards and trying not to make eye contact with anyone.

"Well, I think you can," Zack said, "That's why you always beat me at Chess."

"Zack, you suck at Chess," Iah muttered.

"Your point?" Zack mused.

"You can't prove that Cloud can read minds by him beating you in Chess."

"So how can we prove it?"

"I don't want you to prove it!" Cloud retorted.

"Tell us what everyone's cards are, Cloud," Iah stated.

"No way! I've got a good hand!" Zack stated.

"You have a two, a nine, a jack, an ace and...a joker? Lei Tien, you didn't get the jokers out of the deck," Cloud said.

"How the crap did you do that?"

"You told me what cards you had."

"Did not."

"Did too!"

"What does Lei have?" Iah asked.

"Full house. Three fours and two fives."

"I suppose she told you too?"

"Yup…"

"And me?"

"Royal Flush…I fold," Cloud stated. Zack and Lei Tien did the same.

"It's official, Cloud can read minds…." Lei said.

"No no no! I can't!" Cloud muttered. "Sephiroth, shut up."

"I didn't say anything," Sephiroth stated, sitting down next to Iah Ling. Cloud slammed his head on the table.

"My life sucks," Cloud moaned.

"What he say?" Zack asked.

"That you remind him of a girl…"

"WHAT?!"

"Run, Sephy-san, Run…" Lei Tien said, laughing.

"No thanks, I'll pass…" yawned Sephiroth.

"Chocobo," Zack muttered.

"Flirt," replied Sephiroth.

"Am not!"

"Actually, you are. Isn't Aries your fourth girlfriend this month?"

"No, she ain't. She's been my girlfriend for two month you idiot."

"So who was the Junon girl you were talking too?" Sephiroth asked.

"Oh, I asked him to give her a letter for me, my bad," Iah said.

"And the girl in Gongaga you were flirting with?" Lei asked, grinning.

"I wasn't flirting!"

"You kissed her cheek!" Lei Tien continued.

"That was my mom!" Iah just about chocked on her pop when he said that. Sephiroth ran from the room. He came back five minutes later, red in the face from embracement, and a short of breath from laughing so hard. Cloud fell from his seat, laughing until he just about passed out.

"That'll make my mom laugh when I see her again. You all thought she was my girlfriend…" laughed Zack. "She's taken, ya know."

"Who is?" Hojo asked, coming in.

"Here he comes to kill us all…" Cloud whispered out of the side of his mouth. Sephiroth snorted.

"What'cha want?" Iah asked.

"I need to borrow Sephiroth for a minute. Is he busy?" Hojo asked. Cloud looked over at Sephiroth.

"Make him go away…" Cloud thought Sephiroth muttered.

"Why?" Cloud asked.

"Who are you?! This is my head!"

"Wha…? I-it's me, Cloud!"

"Cloud? Make him go away, would you?"

"Who?"

"Hojo…Please?"

Cloud snapped out of it and looked at Hojo.

"He can't, he's busy."

"Doing what?" Hojo sputtered. Cloud looked over at Sephiroth again, who was now smirking.

"Doing dishes…" Cloud started.

"He's got chores to do…" Zack put in.

"We have training in a couple minutes…" Lei vouched.

"He's takin' me on a date!" Iah yelled. Silence filled the room. Cloud looked from Sephiroth to Iah and back again.

"Really?"

"She's joking, I think…"

"Can she not be joking…Dang! You didn't hear that…tell anyone and your…"

"I get it!" Cloud looked at Iah, gesturing toward the door with his head. Sephiroth stood up, followed by Iah Ling.

"Yes, sorry to foil…I mean, avoid…I mean, leave so soon, but we must be off," Sephiroth said. Iah came over and took his arm. Cloud and the others could tell she was trying either not to laugh or not to vomit. One of the two.

"Out of the way, please," Iah struggled to say. With that, they left the room. Hojo followed after, turning down the opposite hallway.

Four minutes later, Iah and Sephiroth came back in. They were greeted by a chorus of laughter.

"Why did I say that? I need soap!" Iah screeched.

"You need soap? Even acting like you were my girlfriend made me sick! I hate to know what it would be like if you really were my girlfriend!"

"The day I am your girlfriend is the day the Meteor falls again and I impale myself on the toothpick you call a sword!"

"Toothpick?! At least mine aren't steak knives."

"Their Crescent Blades, you imbecile!"

"Ohh…The lovers are fighting…" Zack said. Lei Tien and Cloud grinned.

"We are not!" Iah Ling and Sephiroth said.

"Stop repeating what I say!" Sephiroth retorted.

"Repeating?! I said it first!" Iah replied. Cloud smiled to himself, watching the fight continue. In the end, Lei Tien and Zack had both been needed to stop Iah from charging Sephiroth. They drug her out of the room and towards the bunk rooms while Sephiroth went to the library. Cloud looked around the empty room, admitting to himself that reading minds could be useful, seeing as he now had blackmail on his Commander. With that, he got up and went to bed.


The next day it was raining, meaning everyone had to stay inside. That made most of the SOLDIERs very antsy, which made them prone to pull pranks on each other or the Shinra Soldiers forced to be with him. Two of those people where Cloud and Colby.

"You read the Commander's mind? No way!" Colby replied, grinning. Cloud nodded. He was telling his friend all about what had happened the night before. To his surprise, Colby had believed him.

"That's so cool!" laughed Colby. Cloud shrugged, watching the rain fall outside the window.

"Where were you last night, Colby?"

"Midgar. Had to deliver something for Zack to his girlfriend."

"Aries?"

"Yeah. She's really somethin', you know?" Colby said, smiling, "She gave me a flower, too!" To prove he wasn't lying, Colby held up the small, pink flower for Cloud to see.

"Where'd she find a flower in Midgar?" Cloud asked, staring at the flower to see if it was real.

"She grows 'um. It's really cool. One second, you'll be in the Sector 5 slums, the next; you're in some kind of magical world. She some how got sunlight to filter through!"

"Amazing. I've heard Midgar is the closest thing to a floating city you can get, so I bet it's really dark."

"Dark doesn't even begin to cover it…" Colby said.

"So, I guess a flower girl in Midgar is a once in a lifetime thing, right?" Cloud mused.

"You gots that right. Hope you get to meet her one day, Cloud. You'd like her, me thinks…" Colby said.

"Yeah, she'd be a nice friend by the sound of it," Cloud agreed.

"So what 'cha want to do today?" Colby asked. Before Cloud could reply, a group of SOLDIERs came up to them and pushed Cloud to the ground, forcing him to land on his bad shoulder.

"Cloud!" Colby yelled, but before he could do anything, one of the SOLDIERs punched him across the face, causing him to fly back and hit the wall.

"COLBY!"

"Thank God for helmets…"

"Looky here, it the SOLDIER that never was," The leader of the group laughed. Cloud cringed, trying to get up.

"You're not goin' anywhere, Grunt. You're where you belong, bowing to those better than you…" the leader continued. He kicked out, causing Cloud to block him with his hand. Fortunately, he was able to block the kick. Unfortunately, he blocked it with the hand that was still healing. Searing pain flew through his body, causing Cloud to scream.

"Cloud! Hold on, mate!" It was Colby again, yelling to Cloud through his mind.

"I-I'm ok…It doesn't hurt…" Another SOLDIER kicked Cloud again. Cloud tried to get up again but the leader put his foot on his neck and slammed Cloud to the floor.

"Break it up!" someone yelled.

"Lei!"

"C-Cloud! Are you alright?!" Lei Tien broke through the line of SOLDIERs, causing most of them to disperse to get away. The leader wasn't quick enough, so Lei round kicked him in the gut to get him off Cloud. She helped him up gingerly, hoping he wasn't injured too seriously.

"A-are you ok?" she asked.

"I'm fine, ma'am…" Cloud replied. Colby walked over, holding the side of his face with one hand and his helmet with the other.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, I'm fine…" Cloud said, walking past her. Truth was he was both hurt physically and mentally.


"I'm worthless…I can't even save myself…" he thought, walking down the hallway toward his room. He walked past Hojo, who saw him bleeding.

"You! Shinra Soldier!" Hojo called, "Go to the Infirmary!"

"I don't take orders from the mentally insane…" Cloud replied.

"That little brat! How dare he talk to me that way!?" Cloud heard Hojo sputter in his mind.

"I can talk to you anyway I want…" he muttered, holding his shoulder and walking away from an astonished Hojo.


"You guys seen Spiky?" Zack asked, sitting down at the table. Iah didn't look up from her book. Colby, who was taking a nap on the table, shrugged. Sephiroth shrugged as well. Lei was the only one who spoke up.

"Did you check the Infirmary?" she asked.

"Yup," Zack replied.

"How about yer guys' room?" Colby yawned.

"Nope, haven't checked there. I'll be right back…" Zack got up and left.

He was back no more than five minutes later. And he didn't look happy.

"What's up?" Iah asked, looking up from her book. (Finally)

"Cloud's gone…" Zack said, throwing a piece of paper on the table. "I found that on his helmet. His stuff's all packed, but he ain't there…" Iah, Lei, Sephiroth, and Colby looked at the piece of paper. There was only one word on it.

"Sorry…" read Sephiroth.

"Sorry?" Lei asked. Zack shrugged.

"That's not the whole letter…" Colby stated. Iah nodded, putting her hand on the letter. It began to glow. The glow died down, reviling more writing. It read:

Dear anyone.

I know now the meaning of 'worthlessness'. I never should have been born. I'm sorry.

With no other reason to live,

Cloud Strife.

"What does that mean?" Colby asked, wide awake. Before anyone could answer, Gibbs and Dega ran into the room. Actually, Gibbs slid past the room and into the wall and Dega ran in.

"Why is Cloud on the roof?!" Dega asked.

"What?!" the four SOLDIERs and one Shinra Soldier yelled.

"I'm fine, don't worry about me!" Gibbs stated from the hallway.


"The rain's gone now…" Cloud muttered, staring down at the ground, more than five stories away. He sighed and leaned back against the wall of the building, wrapping his arms around his legs. Why was he hesitating?


Zack and the others ran up the stairs, trying to get to the roof in the fastest way possible. Zack was in front, and Gibbs was way in the back.

"I hate running!" Gibbs retorted.

"Get over it!" Iah yelled, taking the lead. They'd made it to the roof.

"CLOUD!" Lei yelled. Sephiroth caught sight of him, standing on the edge of the highest place within an twenty mile radius. It was a long way down.

"What are you doing?!" Sephiroth ordered. Cloud stood up with a jolt, looking at them with sullen eyes.

"You shouldn't have come…" he muttered.

"Well, we're here now. Don't move! We'll come to get you," Dega said in her best motherly tone.

"I don't want you to get me…" Cloud replied, wincing.

"Have you lost your mind, boy?!" Gibbs screeched. Cloud smiled, but there was no feeling behind it. Just a hollow look coming from someone who swore he shouldn't exist.

"Cloud, don't do this!" Lei Tien pleaded.

"I shouldn't exist. I'm worthless…"

"Don't say that! You're not!" Zack said, clenching his fists.

"You're words mean nothing now…" Cloud muttered, turning away from them.

"Cloud, don't you dare…" Iah started. She never finished. Cloud turned back to look at them and smiled again, tears streaming from the fifteen-year-old's eyes.

"Goodbye…" he said, pushing off the top of the building and beginning his descent.


"Tseng, drive faster would you?" Rufus moaned. He was beginning to fall asleep, the trip was taking so long. They were spoused to be in Junon by tomorrow. "Don't make me get Reno to drive."

"I wanna drive!" Reno grinned, prodding Tseng in the neck. Tseng slammed on the brakes.

"Hey!" Rude yelled, waking up from his nap.

"What's the hold up?" Rufus asked, rubbing the place on his head where it had hit the dashboard.

"Someone just jumped from the top of the SOLDIER base…" Tseng said, unbuckling his seat belt and exiting the car. The others did the same. Rufus, Reno, Tseng, and Rude stood motionless as they saw a tiny figure plummet from the top of the building.

"What is going on?!" Reno said in awe.


"CLOUD!" someone screamed, but Cloud was too far down to tell who it was. The wind covered up most sounds, rushing past his ears as he plunged towards the ground.

I don't want to die… he thought suddenly. That almost made him laugh. He should have thought about that before he'd jumped. Then he heard it.

"CLOUD! No!" It was Lei Tien. She was crying.

"He was my friend. I though he was great! Didn't he know that?!" Colby too,

"I thought of him as a little brother…" Iah Ling was crying out.

"I'm not going to let him die!" Zack's anger about letting him jump was getting the better of him.

"Why?" Sephiroth's hollow voice rang in his head. The thoughts of his friends resonated throughout his head. Suddenly, a surge of power went through him. He didn't know what was going on, but suddenly, he stopped falling. There was a bright flash of green light that followed. Squinting, he looked to his left and just about died.

A wing?!


Rufus and his Turks shielded their eyes. When the light cleared, they were amazed.

"Si-Sir…h-he's flying…" Tseng stammered. Silence followed before Rufus replied.

"Not a word to anyone…" he said.

"Yes sir!" the Turks replied. With that, the group continued on to Junon, not sure of what they'd seen.


Cloud navigated back towards the roof, wing beating rhythmically. There was only one black, bat like wing, but it seemed to do the trick. He landed, looking at the tear-streaked faces of his friends. They stared back at him.

"C-C-Cloud?!" Lei stammered, running up to him and giving him a hug. The others joined in, happy to see their friend alive. Even Gibbs and Dega joined in. Sephiroth, on the other hand, stayed out. He watched them with astonishment, Cloud's one wing in his sights.

"Look!" Colby said, poking Cloud's wing, "He's a bat!"

"More like a blind bat on steroids," Gibbs pointed out.

"You mean a vampire, right?" Dega checked.

"It's the opposite of Sephiroth's…" Iah said. Everyone got quiet and looked at her, even Sephiroth.

"What?" Zack asked. His hand was firmly placed on Cloud's shoulder, preventing him from going anywhere.

"One wing, on his left side. A demon wing," Iah stated, "Sephiroth has one wing, an angel wing on his right side."

Cloud looked at the wing extending from his shoulder. Then he looked at Sephiroth.

"That's creepy…" he said. The people on the roof burst out laughing as the rain began to fall again.

"Let's get inside, shall we?" Dega asked. Zack dragged Cloud by his wing into the base, followed by Colby, Iah Ling, Lei Tien, Dega, and Gibbs. Sephiroth stayed on the roof, looking at the darkened sky.

There was a weird feeling that was welling up inside him. He didn't understand it. It was like he felt threatened by Cloud.

Sephiroth burst out laughing. Cloud? A threat? With the ability to kill him, the greatest SOLDIER of all time? Yeah right!

With that, he followed his friends back into the base.


Far away, in the Lifestream, a being known as the Watcher smiled behind his hood. Standing up and walking toward a room full of hourglasses, he laughed. It was a surprisingly young laugh, for the man did not seem young in appearence. He picked out a black hourglass and walked back to his desk. Turning over the glass, he nodded.

"It has begun."


Cloud's actually speaking Latin here, and they're part of the song lyrics for "One Winged Angel"

A/N: Thank you!