"Paper Flowers" by Fenrir

Inspired by Evanesence's "Imaginary"
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII, Squeenix, or Evanesence.

Paper Flowers

Ever since my memory began, I could hear the voices of the Planet. After my mother died, I was the only person left on the world who could hear them. Eons ago, when the Planet was filled with the Cetra, the voices filled each of their minds, but since there were so many of them, the burden was spread out amongst them. As their numbers dwindled, the voices grew in number and loudness. I am the only one. As more people die and join the Lifestream, each of their voices flows through me. I don't know where my mother died, but I know the exact moment she did. At that moment, the small trickle of voices in the back of my mind turned into a torrent. I nearly went mad trying to block them out.

Of course I did eventually learn to block the majority of that flood out, allowing only a small portion through. But by that time, the damage had been done. The other children had marked me as different and strange. Being continually chased by Shinra wasn't a big help on their opinion, but falling to one's knees screaming to the voices to, 'shut up for once!' in the middle of the playground cemented their judgment. None of them ever accepted me after that. So I lived alone, in a world of the voices, myself, and Elmyra, who was kind enough to take me in, even when everyone else claimed I was cursed or possessed.

I think I was twelve when I first found the church. I had been running from one of the rape gangs that were rampant in the slums of Midgar then. It was always a rundown place. No one had any faith anymore. Not when each day was filled with the struggle for bare survival and the never-ending hatred for Shinra. When I first opened the door to the church, I stopped to study each detail of the building. I didn't notice it then, but the voices dimmed as soon as I crossed the threshold of the building. The pews sat undisturbed, covered in grime and time's memory. The wooden floor creaked with it age, and each of my steps sent up a flurry of dust. The vaulted ceiling caused those steps to echo and I had a feeling of solitude that I found no where else.

Imagine my surprise when I spied a small frail flower peeking from the cracked floorboards at the front of the church. I ran up to the blossom and kneeled beside it. Taking in its sense, a calmness poured through me and it was then that I realized that there, holding that flower, the voices couldn't get through. I couldn't hear them, even if I tried.

As the years went by, the church became my place of refuge. A refuge from the voices, Shinra, Elmyra's worry, and the rape gangs that grew even more popular in my teen years. I tended to that small blossom and watched as one gradually became two and on from there. I loved those flowers and that church.

The day Cloud fell through the roof of my church is a day I can never forget. His sweet face was so confused at first, and his hair looked ridiculous covered in my precious flower petals. I think I might have fallen in love with him then. He looked so much like Zach.

He was the first person I had seen in several days. The Planet was sensing danger for itself, and had been trying even harder to get through to me, to let me know of the danger. I guess the Planet either didn't know I couldn't help or knew that I would meet Cloud and begin my journey to help save it from Shinra and Hojo.

That was also the last day I saw the church. Shinra had found my church.

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Once our journey began, I felt myself drawn closer and closer to Cloud. He was so lost and confused inside himself. I don't think he realized how lost. We put so much pressure on him. Looking to him to be the leader. Even as we added new members, no one argued with the choice of leader. Of course, no one else was suited, but I hate that we put him up to so much.

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As I get closer and closer to the north, to the City of the Ancients, the voices of the Planet and my ancestors grows louder and louder. After the fiasco at the Temple of the Ancients, I knew where I had to go. I can't risk the others' lives, even though I know they will follow me. Someone must carry on should I fail.

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Inside the City, at the Altar, I pray. I pray for the safety of the Planet from Jenova, the menace from the sky. The alien who is inside the body of Sephiroth and controlling his every moment. I hear Cloud behind me, but barely. The voices fill my head and this one time I welcome them with open arms and use them in my prayer. I only feel a sharp pain in my abdomen, and everything flashes white. I feel Cloud catch me as I fall. Lying there in his arms, I can only welcome death and hope my prayers were enough. Death is a place without the ever present voices. A place of solitude.

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A/N: Yeah, weird. The things my mind comes up with.