The Planet's Song
Cloud paced back and forth in the small cell, hands running along the wall as he circled it. Looking for something, anything that might be a way to escape. A loose screw for a panel, a thin spot in the wall, a paint chip, something! He scanned the walls for the fourteenth, no fifteenth, time, looking and failing to find anything of help.
"Cloud, you're making me dizzy," Aeris joked weakly, staring at the ceiling on the nearby bed. Cloud stopped his pacing and sighed.
"Sorry, it's just…dammit, I'm a SOLDIER, I was trained for situations like this! There has to be a way out." He looked at the bed and dropped to his knees. Aeris turned over onto her side and watched he felt around the metal sides of the small construct. Cloud then dug his fingers into the small area between the mattress and the metal frame, trying to maybe find a hold to pull it out.
"Cloud, it's Shin-Ra, they wouldn't have left us a way out," Aeris said sadly. Cloud frowned. He knew she was right, but the sitting still was killing him. Shin-Ra's executives were probably up in the boardroom now, deciding what to do with them. Aeris of course, she was guaranteed life, but mostly certainly not freedom. The rest of them, Tifa, Barret, him, they were just rebels. Expendable. Shin-Ra could execute them and make a wonderful example out of them to the other smaller rebel groups.
"There has to be something," he replied, refusing to sit on his hands while Shin-Ra decided when and how to kill them. "Get up." Aeris sat up and Cloud looked down at the mattress. "Maybe…" He grabbed the white cotton folds and ripped it open. Cloud cursed. It was a foam mattress. Not a single spring or wood or metal framing piece, just a lump of overly malleable yellow-orange sponge material. He could theoretically rip it to pieces, but it's not like he could do anything with it, except maybe cushion his fists if he wanted to punch his way to safety. That was the worst idea he'd ever had, and what depressed him more was that it was the only way out they had.
"Damn," he groaned, turning and sitting with his back to the bed. Aeris lay back down and turned her head to face Cloud's spiky blond locks.
"What are we going to do?" she asked. Cloud scowled.
"I don't know." He hated feeling helpless like this. The walls were smooth metal, silver, grey and white, the bed was nothing but metal and foam and the door was sealed electronically with the lock on the outside. There was nothing.
"They won't kill us, I think," Aeris said softly. "I mean, you guys are AVALANCHE, they'll probably want to question you about other rebel groups, right?"
"If they wanted to question us, they'd be doing it now." Cloud shook his head. "Relax you're an Ancient. You're not going to die, just the rest of us."
"Oh good, now I can nap easily," Aeris muttered as she rolled her eyes at him. "Besides, they'll probably just kill me anyway, I'm of no help to them."
"What do you mean?" Cloud turned his head to watch her with one ocean-blue eye.
"You heard the President, he thinks I can lead them to the Promised Land," Aeris replied. "I'm not even sure where it is myself." Cloud thought for a moment. Promised Land…
"I've thought of a wonderful idea Mother…let's go to the Promised Land."
"Aeris…what is the Promised Land?" he asked, pushing away the fragmented memory. Aeris sighed and turned her head back to the ceiling.
"I'm not sure myself," she said. "I just know what the legends say."
"The Promised Land is supposed to be a place of eternal peace and joy, where even the most outlandish and impossible dream can come true. The Planet sings songs of it sometimes. The Ancients spent their entire lives searching for it…" Aeris trailed off. "But I'm only half-Ancient. The Planet sings for me but not all the time, and I have no idea where the Promised Land could be."
"The Planet sings to you?" Cloud asked. Aeris sat up and leaned against the wall, pulling her legs up to her chest.
"Mm-hm," she nodded, smiling softly. "Not always, but often."
"What does it sing?"
"It doesn't work that way Cloud," Aeris said. "It's not in words you could understand. I don't even understand them entirely."
"Well what do they sound like?" Cloud asked. Aeris looked down at him and closed her eyes. Cloud waited as she took in a few breaths, and her lips parted slightly. He had to lean in to hear her.
"Koudanshi..bijo…aijou eta-naru…Koudanshi..bijo…orera dearou fudan aijou…"
Aeris kept singing softly, her eyes closed and her face set in an expression of utter serenity. Cloud stood up and quietly sat down on the bed beside her, staring in awe of the beauty of the unknown language coming from her lips. Aeris finished a few moments later, and opened her eyes. She noticed Cloud staring and blushed.
"What's it mean?" Cloud asked.
"It can't be translated into the common tongue, at least not in a way that would make sense. It also doesn't have an end or a beginning, it just goes on forever and you listen when you like. The song isn't like a human song with lyrics and instruments, it's deeper than that. It's just a…a feeling. It's a song of emotion."
"Beauty, peace, joy, love. All the good things," Aeris said softly, smiling. "The words I sung were just words, they can't compare. The real song, the true song of the Planet…it's so far beyond that, what I sung sounds horrible by comparison. I wish you could hear it yourself. It's so lovely…" Aeris' expression turned idyllic again, and Cloud couldn't help but smile at the joy on her face despite the present situation.
"I'm sorry," he muttered, lowering his head. Aeris turned to him. "I'm sorry I got you mixed up in this."
"You didn't, Shin-Ra came after me long before we met," Aeris said.
"But they only caught you when you helped us try and defend Sector Seven," Cloud insisted. "It's my fault you got locked up here."
"No it's not," Aeris said sharply. "Don't feel like that. Sooner or later they'll have to come get us and we can escape then." Cloud's face lit up.
"I hadn't thought of that," he admitted, lifting his head. Yeah…if they jumped the guard, maybe that would do it…
"So we just have to wait," Aeris nodded, shuffling a little closer to him on the bed. The two sat in silence for a minute, listening to the dull stillness of the cell.
"You said you want me to hear the Planet's Song…can you hear the song in the Promised Land?" Cloud asked. Aeris opened her eyes and nodded. "Then we'll go there."
"What?" Aeris laughed.
"You want me to hear the song, I want you to find the Promised Land," Cloud explained. "So one day we'll just have to go there." Inwardly he wondered where this was coming from. He wasn't some shiftless dreamer or one to entertain fantasies. All the same, the thought that Aeris wanted him to hear that lovely music. He wasn't going to let her down.
"Cloud, you're being silly."
"Am I? The Promised Land has to be out there somewhere, so when we escape, we'll go and find it. I'll find it and I'll take you there myself."
"You think so?"
"I will." Cloud nodded, sure of his vow now. "One day, I'll find the Promised Land, and we'll go there together. And I'll listen to the song with you."
"Really?" Aeris looked up at him, and Cloud stared down at the glittering emeralds.
"Yeah…you're the last Ancient they said, so if I want to hear the song, I guess I'm stuck with you for finding a way," he said, shrugging. Aeris rolled her eyes, and Cloud looked forward, taking a breath. He felt something soft brush his cheek, and he turned his head down to see Aeris leaning her head on his shoulder.
"Thank you," she murmured. Cloud blushed and turned away. "You don't know what it's like…being the last Ancient…feeling so alone…"
"I don't," Cloud said. "But even if I can't feel the way you do, I can try and make you not feel that way. I'm…we're here for you," he corrected, his face getting redder. Aeris didn't reply, and Cloud noticed her breathing even out. Craning his head to look at her face, he noticed she had fallen asleep leaning against him.
Deciding against waking her when she looked peaceful, Cloud leaned back and slowly shifted them out of the uncomfortable position. Turning, he lay back on the bed, Aeris beside him with her head on his shoulder. She whimpered slightly as he tried to get up, and put a hand on his chest. Cloud looked down at her sleeping face and sighed, leaning his head back and staring at the ceiling as the flower girl slept against him.
Sleep claimed him too a few minutes later.
- - - - - - - - - - -
The motorcycle purred softly as he drove through the endless field of beautiful gold and white flowers. The wind rushed through his hair as he turned down the road, until he reached the spot. Slowing to a stop, he swung his leg over and watched as she came down the hill towards him.
"I thought I was the one who was supposed to lead you here," he said, smiling.
"At least we're here together, like you said," she replied. "Come on." She held out her hand, and he took it and let her lead him up the hill. At the crest, she stopped and let him look out over the endless expanse of flowers and beautiful crystal-clear rivers and lush, towering trees. Turning to him, she took his other hand.
"Listen," she instructed, closing her eyes. He closed his eyes in turn and listened. She was right – words couldn't describe the utter beauty of the song. The notes…tones…words? There wasn't a word for it, but they wrapped around him, surrounding him in a cocoon of happiness and love. He felt a small tear slide down his cheek and opened his eyes to see her singing the words again.
"Koudanshi..bijo…aijou eta-naru…Koudanshi..bijo…orera dearou fudan aijou…"
"You were right…" he whispered as she finished and opened her eyes.
"You did...like you said; even the most impossible dreams come true here."
The words Aeris sung were not entirely random, they were Japanese, and while I'm sure the translation is off since I'm not so fluent, the translations do make a bit of sense, if you know what they mean.