Disclaimer - I don't own Final Fantasy VII or its characters.
The Dream is Fulfilled
Cloud's steps almost echoed in the air as he approached the Banora tree next to the Rhapsodos' mansion, the exact place where he stood and witnessed Moon's miserable transformation.
His gloved hand slowly touched the marble-like tree bark and he could easily felt the warm glowing Lifestreams running inside the strange white tree. Sapphire blue eyes looked up at the fruits hang in the thin fragile-like branches. The young blond reached up and carefully took a Dumbapple off the branch, as if it was made of glass.
He brought the blue and white apple closer to his face, inhaling the sweet scent of the mysterious fruit, but when he was about to bite down, he heard a weary and familiar voice behind him asked.
Does it taste good?
Cloud whirled around as the village and mansion dissolved into a green broken landscape, the Banora tree next to him now had several cracks, next to the tree was him, or rather his future self, sitting on a broken chair like a lifeless wax doll, at his left on the ground was a dead Angeal clone, probably died of degradation judging by the white stone-like face, and on his right is Moon, who looked like he was in a deep sleep. The future Zack stood in front of the comatose blond, looking surprised by the voice as he does, but he kindly replied a genuine yes to the auburn hair man.
The "Gift of the Goddess"? Moon asked weakly.
The raven hair man lifted the bitten Dumbapple in his hand up and expected for a second before he replied it with a question. This apple is?
Moon lightly shook his head, Cloud could feel the strength of the man is slowly leaving him, as he forced his eyes opened and said in ragged breath. Angeal... The dream had been fulfilled.
'Moon...' Cloud spoke the name softly as the man drew out his last breath and the vision fade away. He slowly walked towards the spot where the auburn hair man is and tried to picture him there again. 'What is your dream really? Isn't becoming the Hero was your dream?'
The blond is confused, he couldn't understand what Moon meant by saying that his dream was fulfilled when he didn't become a hero. He just sat there and died...
Before he could think about it more thoughtfully, a soft shuffling caught his attention. He looked up to see a wolf with silver fur and golden eyes staring at him intensely. If wasn't because of the color of its fur, which is similar to Nibel wolves, and those eyes seemed to hold the same sadness and loneliness as he does, he would have thought it was only a simple wild lone wolf.
The silver wolf stared at him for another minute before it turned around, gesturing his head like telling him to come with it, and walked away, only to stop a few steps to look back at him, like making sure he was following it.
Cloud, seeing he had nothing to lose, quickly tucked the apple into one of the extra pocket of his harness and walked after the silver fur creature. They walked through dozen of thick bushes and normal green trees until they reached the entrance of a large cave. Why do you bring me here? The blond thought as he looked around and spotted a wooden sign, warning any wanderers that the cave is dangerous.
When he turned back, the wolf was gone. He looked back at the entrance of the cave and saw two golden eyes staring at him before they vanished into thin air. The blond hair swordsman took a few steps towards the cave and stared at the spot where the eyes had vanished for moment. The wind blew gently behind him, almost like someone was slowly pushing him into the cave. Suddenly everything became kind of hazy in his mind, as his body moved on its own and walked into the dark cavern.
He walked and walked, passed endless turns and wooden bridges, going deeper and deeper into the darkness. It was only when he stepped into large underground void filled with glowing crystals that the haze that covered his mind started to lift off.
What the hell? Cloud thought weakly as he shook his head lightly, still feeling a little lightheaded, and pressed himself against the closest stone. Taking in steady breath, Cloud felt the pain in his body and mind is slowly dissipating.
When he was about to stand up, he noticed something strange on the stone he was pressed against, running his hand over green moss covering it. After he got half of the moss off the rock, he could make out some words carved on it.
'"When the war of the beasts brings about the world's end."' The blond let out a surprised gasp at what he just reads. This is Loveless! So this is the stone plate that Moon mentioned.
Cloud was about to brush off the remaining moss covering the rest of the tablet and finish the act, but he told himself that there are still a lot of unanswered questions in his mind that needed to be answer. Such as why a wolf or a spirit of some kind knows this secret cave, why bringing him here and what secrets could this place holds?
Well, I won't have my answers by standing here and doing nothing. Cloud thought as he got up and looked around him, trying to find a hint of some kind to which direction he should go to, because every tunnels and passages seemed the same.
The blond cursed in his mind as he walked down a small stone stairs. It was when he reached the bottom of the stairs that he caught the running shadow figure of the wolf in the tunnel at his left side, he quickly ran after it.
After a small turn, he entered another section of the underground maze, which was covered with moss and some small plants. Another stone tablet of Loveless stood next to him and he ran his hand over the top, to read the letters engraved on it. "Loveless Act Five".
Looking over the stone plaque containing the future of Gaia, he spotted a large metal gate with the image of a goddess painted on it and a large pedestal had the same goddess with seven holes in a star-like pattern, six of them had an orange materia inserted in, only the hole on the top was left empty.
Cloud ran his fingers lightly on the hollow space and suddenly felt certain familiar warmth in him. He quickly tugged out his broken necklace and found the orb shining in a faint orange glow. The blond stared at it and the pedestal for a moment before he carefully placed the cracked orb into the empty space. A loud clink sounded in the cave and the ground under his feet shook as the large gate before him slowly unlocked itself and revealed a bright pathway to him. The boy took a deep breath before he walked into the new passageway.
The swordsman could feel the Lifestreams flew passed him from each steps he took, it was almost like he is walking inside the Planet's bloodstream than on its outer shell. When he entered a chamber-like cave, his eyes widen in shock at what stood in front of him, a large tree holding a gigantic red Materia and at the base of the root was the statue of a goddess holding an orb with her two hands.
Cloud... The blond snapped out of his trance at the sound of the familiar voice and the feeling of the presence of the owner of the voice.
He opened and closed his mouth quickly, not wanting to get his hopes up that the man he loved was here. Don't hope, don't wish, you'll only hurt yourself in the end. A small voice whispered in his mind.
The blond hair swordsman was about to back away, but when he did, a loud heartbeat echoed in the cavern and the red orb shone brightly, almost like the sun, forcing the blond to cover his eyes from the sudden brightness as a powerful wave of Lifestreams swept passed him.
Cloud didn't open his eyes until he felt the planet's bloodstreams are back to normal and no longer swirling around like a tornado, but he quickly wished he didn't open when he saw something, or rather someone, familiar floating at the base of the giant tree, that had no longer the red Materia.
It was a jet black phoenix with a red aura surrounding it. The orange red orbs of the creature looked into the sapphire blue deeply, like it was reading everything inside the swordsman's mind, before they closed themselves and the black wings wrapped around the flying creature.
Just like the first time he had ever seen Moon transformed back into his human form, the black feathers dissipated and showed the auburn hair man that the winged creature truly is. Cloud stared at the man in crimson coat, not knowing if he was dreaming or it is real.
'Cloud.' The man spoke in the same melodious voice that had kept him company in his dream.
The blond was about to run towards the auburn hair man and hug him, but he caught himself when he noticed something strange about the man. The left eye was not blue azure like the other one. It was ruby red like blood!
No... Not another illusion... Cloud thought as he shook his head in disbelieve and stepped back, while Moon look-alike slowly advanced fowards, looking confused and concerned?
'What's wrong Cloud?' The illusion asked worriedly.
Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. The blond clamped his hands over his ears, muffling the voice of the replica of Moon. He could feel his heart beating faster and it was getting hard to breath, it was like he was inside a buried casket. Each heartbeat is hurting him!
Cloud? The man spoke into his mind.
'SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!' Cloud screamed as he turned and ran.
He doesn't care if he might get lost in the endless underground maze. All he needed now is to get as far away as he can from that man, that replica, that copy, that fake Moon. Running and turning around many passages and tunnels, but he knew that he was slowly ascending, which meant that he will be back at the surface soon.
Cloud! The only problem is that the illusion is pursing him and it won't shut up!
It was only when he finally reached outside and into the thick forest that the voice grew fainter, but he didn't slow down, afraid that if he did the replica will catch up and torture him with the voice and the face of the man he loved. He kept on running, but after running a few more minutes, he tripped and fell onto the ground, tired and tears pouring out of his eyes. Cloud curled into a tight ball as he sobbed and cried silently.
When he heard a small shuffling sound among the bushes, Cloud tried to make himself as small as possible as the sound became louder and closer, but the one emerged from the bushes was the wolf that had guided him into the deep maze.
'What do you want? Go away!' The blond spat at the silver furred creature angrily.
The wolf made no sign of leaving, this made Cloud even angrier. 'Are you sent by Gaia?' It made no response.
'Damn it Gaia! Leave me alone already!' Cloud screamed as he wiped away the tears on his cheeks with the back of his hand, closing his eyes. 'You had already tore away half of my soul and heart when Moon died, what else do you want from me? Is it not enough that I lost him and bear this guilt for five fucking long years!? Why can't you leave me alone already? Why? Why? Why?'
We didn't want to hurt you. The blond looked up to see his future self standing in front of him like an angel with the silver wolf next to him. The blond hair man knelt down and placed his hand over the unruly hair in a comforting gesture. We just wanted to free you from this... Curse of mine...
'Curse?' Cloud repeated.
It isn't an illusion. Moon did come back to life. The one you saw is Moon. The future Cloud said in soft tone.
'You are lying, he can't be Moon. Gaia doesn't have the power to bring back the dead.' Cloud replied in a more calm voice.
Not if Gaia used the Goddess Materia created by her and the Ancients' powers. And with a few helps from us. The blond hair man replied. Look, this is my last gift to you. Before I join the Lifestreams forever.
'I... I don't understand...' Cloud whispered like a frighten child.
When Moon died that day. Gaia was able to preserve the body of Genesis and kept it inside the Lifestreams, but Moon's soul was scattered into pieces from JENOVA's attack. The future Cloud started to explain. Usually, when a soul entered the Lifestreams, it will merge with it and it will never become one being again. Gaia summoned me and my friends to look for the missing pieces while she kept the found pieces together and from rejoining the Lifestreams.
'What's the difference? Moon is as good as dead. What you are talking about is impossible.' The young blond whispered weakly. 'You can't reassemble a soul.'
The older blond clasped the younger boy's shoulder and said in a serious tone. Cloud, listen to me. What we did would have been impossible if it weren't for your letters.
'What? What do you mean my letters?' Cloud asked, still not believing a single word that the man said, as he hid his face in his hands.
Moon had accepted his fate when he had given his life to save you. His soul, even though shattered into pieces, is ready to join the Lifestreams without any regret or fear. Gaia had tried to keep it together, but they kept slipping out of her grasps. We thought that Moon would never be whole again and you'll have to bear my curse, of failing to save someone closed to you. The older blond spoke softly, with a small hint of sadness in his voice. But when you sent those letters into the Lifestreams, his soul had stopped breaking and reassembled by itself.
The future Cloud put his hands on the shoulders of the younger blond as he said. Don't you see it Cloud? Moon's soul was trying to reach for yours. He was searching for you. You are the reason why we were, why he was, able to bring him...
'Stop... Please... Stop...' Cloud begged in a small voice. 'Please... Stop giving me any more hope...'
Cloud. The older blond said in a more desperate tone. Why can't you see it? This isn't an illusion. He is back. For you.
'Don't. Don't say that.' Cloud whispered in low almost threatening tone. 'I have spent five years, dreaming, hoping and searching for him. I know he is no longer alive. That man I saw isn't Moon. I know that, I could feel something was missing in him. Am I right?'
There was a long suffocating silence between the two blond before the future Cloud said truthfully. Some pieces of Moon's soul had merge with the Lifestreams, we can no longer retrieve them. Gaia had used other pieces to complete the missing parts of Moon's.
'Then he is as good as dead. Thank you for telling me.' Cloud said sarcastically and let out a bitter laugh.
The older blond was about to say something to comfort the heart-broken boy, but before he could utter a word, he felt someone's hand pressing against his shoulder. Looking away from his past self, the future Cloud met the blue cobalt eyes of his old friend Zack.
Let him have some time alone, Spiky. He needs right now. The raven spiky hair man told him.
The older blond didn't want to leave his counterpart in state like this, but he reluctantly let go, knowing that his friend was right and forcing the truth onto his younger self won't help him, only deepening the wound further. He stood up and turned to the silver wolf, saying. Come on Fenrir. We're leaving.
The three spirits vanished into thin air, leaving the confused and lost swordsman alone in the cold night air.
Moon... Cloud unconsciously called out in his mind before his eyelids fell over his dull sapphire eyes.
Hana ha kaze ni yureodoru youni
Ame ha daichi wo uroosu youni
Kono sekai ha yorisoiai ikiteru noni
Naze hito ha kizutsukeau no
Naze wakare ha otozureru no
Cloud woke up from his deep slumber after three or four hours. He slowly rose to his feet and listened to his surrounding carefully, like a monster could attack him at any moment, but there is nothing, only the little creaking sound of the bugs.
I should go back now. Kadaj is probably asking them to do search party by now. The blond thought as he looked at the still starry sky. When he was about to take a step, he felt a presence behind him. Please, don't be him.
He turned around to face the man he had tried to escape from in the underground maze who now stood a few steps away from him. His eyes locked with the replica's as he asked in threatening tone: 'Why are you following me?'
'Cloud...' Moon's counterpart reached out for him, which caused Cloud to take a step back. The copy, seeing the boy's reaction, stopped advancing and instead took a few steps back. 'You called out to me...'
'I... I didn't call you...' The blond quickly lied as he mentally cursed himself for his recklessness of saying Moon's name in his mind before he fell asleep. 'And even if I did... You don't need to come...'
'I... I made a promise with you...' The copy replied as he clutched his head like he was having a headache or something. 'I said... No I whispered in your mind... That I'll always be there when you need me and... When you call out my name...'
'No...' Cloud whispered as he shook his head and his left hand reached to the place where his heart is. His heartbeats are getting faster just like when he was in the cave and his lungs are having troubles to take the air he was breathing in. 'No... You didn't...'
That's a promise between me and Moon... No one else had the right to know about that... Cloud thought as the pain in his chest doubled, it was like he was burning from the inside.
'Cloud?' Moon's replica took a few steps towards him, concerned written all over his features.
Kimi ga tooku ni ittemo mada
Itsumo kono kokoro mannaka
Ano yasahii egao de umetsukusareta mama
Dakishimeta kimi no KAKERA ni
Itami kanjitemo mada tsunagaru kara
Shiniteru yo mata aeru to
I'm waiting for your love
'Stay away from me!' Cloud shouted when the man was about to touch him and quickly stumbled a few steps back.
'I just want to help you.' The counterpart said softly.
'The only way you can help is to stay away from me...' The blond breathed out, his heart is hurting him painfully, before his legs started to buckle and his vision became hazy. Then he felt himself fell forward, but before he hit the ground, the copy caught him and wrapped his arms around him, just like Moon did when they were inside the secret laboratory.
Remembering that warm feeling that those arms emanated, Cloud lashed out and hit the auburn hair man's shoulder feebly, wanting the pain in his chest and the memories playing in his mind to stop, as he chocked out: 'Let go... Let go of me...'
'No.' The copy of Moon replied as he pulled him closer, so close that Cloud could hear the steady beating of the man's heart. 'I won't let go...'
The blond struggled weakly for a few more minutes before he gave up. For some strange reason, the burning had ceased growing, but he could still feel the pain in his heart, a pain that he had long buried away.
He pressed his forehead against the replica's chest, exactly where the heart is, as he asked in a weak voice: 'Why won't you let me go?'
'I let you go once, I don't intent to make that mistake again and hurt you...' The auburn hair man replied calmly.
I love you, I trust you
Kimi no kodoku wo wakete hoshii
I love you, I trust you
Hikari demo yami demo futari dakara shinjiaeru no
'It doesn't matter to me anymore. It'll hurt, but I'll survive.' Cloud replied in a low monotonous voice. 'Why can't you just let me go? Like you said you did it once, why can't you do it again? How hard can it be?'
Cloud felt Moon's counterpart tighten his hold on him slightly before he replied: 'When I pushed you away that day and joined the Lifestreams, I lost myself. I lost my humanity.'
Blue sapphire eyes widen in surprise as the man continued: 'Because you are my only reason of still existing as... A human being, not as a monster...'
These words... Cloud gently pulled away slightly, he put his hands over the man's face, tracing each curved and detail of the replica's features, trying to find what he had missed. The gloved hand carefully pulled back the long bangs that covered the red eye.
Deep sapphire eyes looked into the ruby red and azure blue ones. It was then he noticed the glow inside the stranger's eyes. The azure blue one was exactly like Moon just like he remembered, the glow of mako and of the strong soul; the bloody red one had the same glow as the other one, but there is something else in it, something familiar.
'Genesis...' Cloud whispered softly when he remembered where he had seen that familiar glow. It was the exact same glow of loneliness and sadness he had seen inside the crimson Commander's eyes, the man who had saved him twice and who he had failed to save five years ago.
The blond opened his mouth, wanting to apologize for letting the man died and to ask for forgiveness, but no voice came out. Before he could find his voice, the auburn hair man suddenly leaned down and gently pressed his lips against his. Even though it was just a small light contact, but Cloud could feel every single feeling that Genesis' and Moon's soul were revealing to him in this simple touch.
Sekai no hate wo dare ga mita no
Tabi no owari wo dare ga tsugeru no
Ima ha kotae ga mienakute nagai yoru demo
Shinjita michi wo susunde hoshii
Sono saki ni hikari ga matsu kara
Also, he felt the pain in his chest was fading away and was replaced by the warm sensation that he got when Genesis had first kissed him, it healed and filled him with infinite warmth, melting away the icy frost that had encased his heart. Cloud closed his eyes and deepens their kiss, savoring the man's taste.
It was after what seemed like an eternity did Cloud felt the warm lips pulled back. The blond looked up at the man who had given everything he had and received nothing in return, wondering if he was still dreaming.
'Sorry for keeping you waiting so long.' The auburn hair man apologized as he planted another small kiss on his lips before he buried his face in the unruly blond hair, inhaling the sweet scent of the Savior of the world.
'Idiot.' Cloud whispered as a single tear ran down his cheek, but it was a tear of joy, not of sorrow.
Suddenly a snow flake fell out of no where and rested on the auburn hair man's shoulder, the blond pulled away slightly and looked up to see more white spots coming down. Is it snowing? But Banora never snows before. Then he noticed that the snow flakes that are falling around them had a certain unusual green taint on them.
Cloud turned around to see his future self, future Zack and the silver wolf, Fenrir, standing a few feet from them, their smile as bright as the aura surrounding them. The blond hair boy's smile mimicked the one of his older self as he said: 'Thank you, for everything.'
Kimi ga oshietekureta uta ha
Ima mo kono kokoro no mannaka
Ano yasashii koe to tomoni hiibiteiru
Afureru kimochi no shizuku ga
Atatakaku hoho tsutau
Tsuyoku naru ne shinjiteru yo tsunagatteru to
I'm always by your side
Everyone deserved redemption. The former Champion replied before he looked up at the slowly brightening sky. Looks like it's almost time for the magic moment.
'Yep.' The younger blond looked up with a wide smile. The two other men gave them questioning looks.
After a few minutes, the first ray of the sun washed through the sky, revealing a view that will be mark deep inside anyone's mind. The light reflecting on the snow flakes created by the Lifestreams made them looked like tiny stars and the rising sun was like the core of a galaxy.
Cloud looked away from the magnificent view and asked his future self: 'Did you made all this?'
Consider it as a parting gift. The older blond replied with a mysterious smile. It's time for us to follow our separate paths.
'Thank you.' The young blond said as the crimson coated man placed his hands over his shoulders.
No, thank you. The future Cloud said as the Lifestreams surround him and his two companions. Goodbye Cloud.
Bye-Bye Little Spiky! The future Zack said with a goofy smile before they disappeared.
I'm not little, thank you! Cloud shouted angrily in his mind as he mentally kicked himself for not punching the raven hair man when he had the chance. Oh well, I'll just have to put the rain check on the present Zack.
The auburn hair man chuckled lightly, blue sapphire eyes turned to him questionably. What are you laughing at?
'You didn't change much, not like me.' The man replied with a hint of sadness.
I love you, I trust you
Kimi no tame ni nagasu namida ga
I love you, I trust you
Ai wo oshietekureta donna ni kimi ga michi ni mayottemo
Soba ni iru yo
'Should I continue to call you Moon or should I call you by your real name?' Cloud asked, changing the subject.
This brought a small smile back on the man's face as he replied: 'I like the name you had given me.'
The blond smile widen as he took out the Dumbapple inside the pocket of his harness and asked: 'What was your dream? I thought that becoming the hero is your dream.'
'It was, but before that, I had another one.' Moon replied as Cloud took a small bite from the sweet fruit. Which is? 'I want to share an apple with the greatest hero of all.'
After Moon had finished his sentence, Cloud pressed his sticky sweet lips against the man's, nibbling the lower lip, asking for entrance. When the mouth opened, he pushed some of the fruit into his lover's mouth and he only pulled away when he could no longer taste the fruit's sweetness, but Moon's.
'I guess your dream is granted.' Cloud whispered in husky voice.
I love you, I trust you
Kimi no kodoku wo wakete hoshii
I love you, I trust you
Hikari demo yami demo
I love you, I trust you
Kanashimi demo yorokobi demo
I love you, I trust you
Kimi no subete wo mamoritai
Then both Ex-SOLDIERs' enhanced hearing caught the shouts of Cloud's name. The blond turned his head towards the direction of the shouting and smiled, he could almost picture the faces that his friends will make when they'll see Moon with him.
I still have a wish that isn't granted yet. Moon suddenly whispered in his mind, causing him to raise an eyebrow in question. Will you let me walk side by side with you in this pathway towards the unknown future, whether in pain or in happiness?
Cloud blinked in confusion before he caught on with the meaning of these words. Without answering the question, he dropped the bitten apple on the ground and pulled Moon by the hand, running towards the shouts and laughing as they ran.
'I'll take that as "yes".' Moon said as he laughed with the young swordsman.
'Of course it's a yes!' Cloud replied in between his laugh.
If they had their wings materialized on their back, they would have seen their single wing on their shoulders are slowly turning from black ash to white snow. They are finally freed from the endless cycle of pain and grief.
Donna ni kimi ga machi ni mayottemo
Soba ni iru yo futari dakara shinjiaeru no
Author's note - I hope all of you had enjoyed reading "The Endless Cycle" and I hope that those who like this story of Cloud/Genesis pairing will look forward to my next story!
The song I used in this chapter is called "Trust you" by Yuna Ito, the ending of Gundam 00 season 2.
THANK YOU EVERYONE WHO READ, REVIEW AND LIKE THIS STORY!