Zack's Final Mission

Chapter 20: Zack: Second Chance

I remember that day as if it had just been yesterday. Every time I look back I can still see every single detail as if I was there right now.

When me and Cloud entered that altar place three years ago and I saw her praying, she looked like an angel with such pure beauty and innocence that when I saw Sephiroth coming down from the sky, getting closer to her, the rage I felt was as powerful as I had never felt before. Take away my life if you want to, but not her.

The worst part of it was when I looked and Cloud was no longer beside me but walking toward Aerith, sword in his hands. At first I thought he was waiting to block Sephiroth but when I realized he wanted to strike Aerith my blood started burning inside me and to this day I still don't know how I was able to get so fast to his side. I should have known Cloud's instable state of mind and I should have predicted Sephiroth wasn't going to fight us both without planning something evil. The coward had to use Cloud's mind again to get what he wanted. But he wouldn't succeed this time because this time, I was there. I knew what he wanted to prove, he wanted to show us he could control Cloud like a puppet. To mess with his mind at his will and confuse him. But Cloud was not that weak and that was Sephiroth's mistake, to have underestimated him.

I heard the loud sound of metal clashing; yellow sparkles flew when the three blades met. I pushed Cloud strongly aside taking the buster sword from him at the same time I took out the sword I had behind my back. I held them both on each hand and interlocked Sephiroth's masamune between my two blades in a cross. He smirked, I growled in fury when we stood face to face. I noticed Sephiroth's long sword had a string of blood dripping on its edge and I wanted to see if she was alright but the slightest second I took my eyes away from his could be fatal.

"Take her away from here Cloud." I shouted at my friend sitting down against the altar's coral wall. He seemed confused of what was happening but that was no time to ask questions. I felt him take Aerith in his arms, carrying her away from where we stood. I don't think I realized the panic I felt knowing that she might have been hurt at that time.

"Zack…" I heard her whisper.

"Wait for me Aerith." I told her. I was sure she'd be alright.

"Do you think you're ready to fight me?" Sephiroth loosened the pressure he was making against my swords retrieving his. His smugness irritated me. We circled slowly around the small surface of the altar, gazes locked.

"Don't think too much of yourself Sephiroth." I retorted. "Arrogant SOLDIERS are in fact weak."

"We'll check if it's true." He dashed and the buster sword's surface held his attack. The strength he was using was something abnormal but nothing I couldn't handle. Our swords flashed, scratching metal against metal when he started striking successively, hit after hit rapidly against my buster sword. He would pay for that too. I got free from his attacks and jumped back and out of the small altar. He followed me but this time I was quicker. The buster sword blocked him while my other one went right when he had to pull back his masamune to prevent the blade from reaching his skin.

"Why did you kill her?" I snapped, pulling him back strongly, the three blades got free with a slithering noise. I went for the attack again, the buster sword hitting his heavily. "My sister didn't deserve to die!" I angrily shouted, my eyes were burning.

"She got in my way." He replied smirking. I was furious by that time and dashed forward following him. He jumped and hovered in the air, I jumped back behind him and the metal sparkles began once again. I used both swords with all the strength I could gather. Just seeing his face was fuel enough for me to keep going. I didn't feel tired at all.

"You will pay Sephiroth!" I shouted while forming a ball of fire in my hand. I was relieved I had equipped some materia Cloud gave me before. I crossed the swords in front of me and sent the fireball flying in his direction. He flew away from it but it followed him until he had to slash it in two with his long sword. The double fireballs he had created surrounded him and went straight at his body which blasted in a ball of smoke. He was far from finished though. As soon as my feet reached the ground I ran toward him. I jumped up in his direction but he came out the cloud of smoke already about to hit me with his shoulder. The pain pierced my stomach like a thousand knives would and sent me flying down until I reached the lifestream lake under us.

I was falling deeper into the coldness, surrounded by the green light river. But I certainly wasn't going to give up. I saw her face then, smiling at me, giving me hope. I had to go back, for her. I heard souls whispering around me.

"Sorry, this isn't my time yet."

I straightened up and grinned. This was it. I rushed out of that green river fast into the air, he wasn't expecting to see me that soon. His eyes widened and I finally impaled him by the shoulder with the small sword. His blood spattered on me. We parted and he reached for the ground. I didn't let go. I ran to him but despite the pain he was probably feeling he lifted his sword to block mine. I dashed once again and once again our blades locked and that was when my buster sword went flying in the air behind me and out of my sight. Damn, I remember thinking. But I still had the other one in my hand.

His black glove was soaked up in his own blood from holding the wound and yet he kept smirking.

"You're sick." I said pointing my sword at him letting him know I could still fight him.

"I hope you know…" He started saying. "I was just warming up." The next thing I know he was in front of me, eyes glazing with fire. I heard skin ripping and a striking pain hit my abdomen on the left. He circled in the air to cut me again but I blocked holding the sword with both my hands. I gritted my teeth to hold the pain I wouldn't show weakness although it was hurting. With the strain I was doing I felt warm blood pouring out from where he had cut me. I wedged his attacks; they were strong like no one I ever fought with. Genesis was child-play compared to Sephiroth. He got stronger from the last time but then again, it wouldn't be Sephiroth if he wasn't as strong. My blade tore his cheek's skin in a tiny slim red cut.

A blue light appeared from his hand sending me flying backwards in the air. My back fell hard on the ground and I saw him take fast long steps in my direction, he lifted his sword high above his head, smiling. When he started pulling it down to cut me in two something else reached his masamune's end before me. Cloud was standing in front of me, the buster sword crossed paths between us both and Sephiroth. He pulled his sword back in a dragging sound and Sephiroth took two steps back. I rose to my feet and stood side by side with Cloud, our swords held toward him. Two heroes sure would be enough to take him down.

"Where have I seen this before?" Sephiroth let out a dry laugh. "Two wannabe heroes wanting to fight me. This is getting interesting."

We dashed, Cloud and I, our silver blades met his single one. Cloud ran and I jumped, Sephiroth lifted in the air and we followed tangling in one mix of blades slashing sending sparkles of metal everywhere. How could he be so quick blocking our attacks? But surely he couldn't keep doing it forever. Me and Cloud were unstoppable. Sephiroth's feet finally touched the ground and he kneeled, holding onto his sword stuck to the ground. Blood rushed down his arm dripping onto the floor by his fingers.

We stopped a few steps away from him and that was when I looked at Cloud. His face was serious, his eyes focused on Sephiroth glaring, I could tell he had something in his mind.

"I'm sorry." He said to me at last.

"For what?"

"Aerith…" He said. "I couldn't control myself. I almost—"

"She's alright isn't she?" I asked. He nodded. "That's all it matters. Cloud… let's end this." I needed to see her. But the blank stare in his eyes was still there. Sephiroth stood up looking at us; he laughed and with the back of his hand cleaned the string of blood rushing out from the corner of his mouth. Cloud glared and tightened the buster sword between his hands. We ran forward and when Sephiroth lifted again in the air we followed. Blades collided but pain hit me in the air making me lose my strength. I fell down on the altar's floor.

When I sat up Cloud lifted his arm to the side and slightly looked back at me, warning me to stay there. I knew then Cloud needed to prove Sephiroth something this time. I nodded understanding, this was something he had to do alone and I would give him the chance. He gripped the buster sword and rushed toward him. He attacked slicing his skin, when he went for it again in the blink of an eye, Sephiroth blocked but it didn't stop Cloud, he turned on his feet and slashed once again but this time it was crucial, Sephiroth coughed blood from his mouth, Cloud slashed him again and the 1st rank SOLDIER dropped to his knees. Cloud stopped in front of him.

"Where's your arrogance now?" Cloud asked looking down at him.

"It isn't over yet." As soon as Sephiroth said that, his masamune ripped through Cloud's chest until its silver edge came out from his back. I gasped on the floor. It couldn't be… Cloud's hand twitched when Sephiroth smirked.

"Where… have I seen… this before…?" Cloud asked in between gulps for air. His hands were shaking in pain and yet he smiled back at Sephiroth. "You will control me, no more." Cloud lifted the buster sword with both hands and it impaled through Sephiroth's chest. I can still remember the look in his face. Eyes were open wide in shock, lips slightly parted. The blank stare in his eyes revealed his life slowly slipping away. The buster sword slid down from Cloud's hand and fell next to him onto the floor. Cloud stumbled back sliding the masamune out of his body until he fell down on his knees in front of Sephiroth.

I stood up and my muscles felt sore, I was hurting all over but I could walk. I reached for Cloud and placed his arm around my shoulder helping him to walk. He moaned in pain.

"You're going to be ok, Cloud." I told him so he wouldn't give up on me. "Let's get out of here." Sephiroth was dead. Cloud had finished him off, at last. The planet would no longer be in danger. As we walked past him, I glanced at his body one last time and couldn't help remembering him from the time he was sane. How could you have let that happen Sephiroth?

When I finally got to see Aerith, she had her arms crossed on her chest and her back was slightly curved like she was holding onto some kind of heavy burden keeping her down. I noticed then, her eyes were puffy red from crying and she had a long thin cut along the side of her neck. Tifa had her arm around her shoulders protectively and I was glad our friends had been there with her.

We got in Cid's airship and helped lay Cloud down in one of the cabins the airship had. Aerith cast him a healing spell and Tifa helped her bandage him. He had been hurt badly, especially due to Sephiroth's last attempt on killing him. But he was going to make it. I was so proud of him.

It was night time by then and we didn't know where to go so everyone decided we should spend the night in the airship and decide that in the morning. When I found her in the darkest hour she was on the deck looking out the huge glass windows. The lights were all out and if I hadn't seen her silhouette contrasting with the outside lights in front of the windows I would never have found her. Everything was silent when I approached her. I wondered what was going on.

"Hey…" I called. It was the first quality time we got together after we had found her. She slightly turned her head but kept looking out the window. "Is something wrong?" I mean… wasn't she happy to see me?

"I don't know what I can possibly tell you to let you see how sorry I am." She said, still not turning to look at me.

"What do you mean? What are you sorry for?" I honestly was confused.

"I had no idea you'd be coming after me… I told Cloud what I was going to do; I didn't expect you to come find me." This time she turned her head, her eyes glittered with tears. "But I should have known."

"What are you talking about?" I asked in disbelief.

"Haven't you realized yet I put all of you in danger? Sephiroth could have killed you, he could have killed Cloud! All of them! Because of me!"

"But he didn't… And I wasn't going to leave you all alone, you know I would never do that." I told her but her lips trembled. I got near her and held her hands in mine.

"But I feel so bad… All I wanted was to stop Meteor, I didn't know Sephiroth would be there, I didn't want to put all your lives at risk."

"Aerith… how can you say something like that when you were the one saving us all?" I asked her. Looking at her small figure in front of me I wondered how could have such delicate person had all that responsibility on her shoulders? And she did it by herself. She had stopped Meteor. "The least we could do compared to what you did was getting rid of Sephiroth." I ran my fingers gently along the red cut mark she had on her neck and it made my heart ache, just knowing what it represented.


"We should be thanking you actually." I really wanted to make her feel better. I couldn't stand to see her cry. I cleaned her tears with my fingers and pulled her closer to me. Her lips felt so warm on mine that time, they still do. It felt so comforting to me to be kissing her. It meant the nightmare was finally over and we could move on with our lives.

When I parted from the kiss and sat on one knee in front of her, holding her left hand in mine, you should have seen the look on her eyes. The green emerald beams widened in surprise, her cheeks turned a slight soft pink bringing color to her smooth silky skin and her lips curved into the most beautiful smile I had ever seen anyone give me. Her eyes shimmered by the moonlight, making my heart race inside my chest.

"Marry me…" I didn't want to ask her because I loved her so much it didn't make sense to me asking her to marry me, I was almost pleading.

"Yes…" She whispered and giggled placing both hands around my face as she kissed me eagerly. "Of course I will!"

Needless to say where we got married. When we got back to Midgar, the word on Sephiroth being killed had been spread already. But no one tried to find the responsible for it although everyone already knew who it was. It was better that way, they wouldn't dare crossing our paths.

The church had been decorated with pink and white flowers which name I don't recall although Aerith keeps telling me. She knows every kind by heart. That summer day was warm and bright. My flower girl from the slums was dressed in a strapless white satin gown when I saw her walking slowly down the aisle. I felt so nervous Cloud had to knock me on my back so I would get a grip on myself.

Now we have our house on the fields near Gongaga. Blue shutters, walls painted white and a red roof. It has a huge garden at the back where she spends most of her free time taking care of her flowers. She loves being outside now that she is free from the Midgar plate.

I finally had the courage to go talk to my parents and I brought Aerith with me. They were so happy when they met her that they couldn't stop asking me what kind of spell I put on her. They can be so inconvenient at times I had almost forgotten. They already knew what had happened to Cissnei though… When they saw me they wouldn't believe I was really there. It was sad to watch but Aerith was there and she helped a lot. I wanted them to be at the wedding but they are so old now, it would be hard getting them to Midgar. I guess I have to say I wasn't ready to see them after so long has passed but I have to get used to it. They have changed so much physically.

As for our friends, Tifa and Cloud returned to Midgar where they keep a delivery agency. Aerith says it won't be long until they finally get together as a couple and I can really see that happening. Barret lives there too with his daughter Marlene. Vincent and Cid are travelling around in his airship; they send us postcards from time to time telling us of their adventures. I really don't know how Vincent puts up with that old man, but I guess he has always had a patient personality. Red returned to his village in Cosmo Canyon and Yuffie… well I suppose she got back to Wutai and was made leader of the materia hunters' group. I sometimes get her e-mails asking if I want to buy any of the treasures she finds buried around the planet. Yeah right… as if I would like to buy any of that junk!

Sometimes me and Aerith go to the coast side of our continent to see the Ocean. When Aerith's feet touched the sea water for the first time she just fell in love with the clear blue of its color and the freshness of its feel. She looked back at me with a huge smile on her face, her hair waving in the wind. Where she is happy, that's where I want her to be. Now, nothing can keep us apart, we are bonded forever in this beautiful world she helped saving.

It had been three full years…

When she sat next to me on our couch tonight, she seemed worried about something. I placed my arm around her shoulders and pulled her against me.

"What's wrong?" I asked curiously.

"Zack… how do you feel about kids?"

"Well, what do you mean? They're cute…?" I laughed nervously.

"Yes but I mean… you know… having children."

"Still not following…" Like, wow.

"If you would like to have our own children! You know, like a son or a daughter!" She sighed and I'm pretty sure I petrified because she just stared at me expectantly for what seemed like… ten minutes? One hour? How long have I been sitting alone on the couch?

"Are you ready to give me an answer yet?" Her voice was kind but the wariness was still spread across her features when she sat back next to me.

"A- Are you trying to tell me something?" I was finally able to ask but... was that my voice? Because I kind of shrieked.

"I suppose… I am." She looked away. "What I'm trying to tell you is… you're going to be a dad."

Are you kidding me? The news strike me like thunder. A dad. The word rang in my head. Would I be ready to be one? Now that I think about it... I feel that I am. Heck, of course I am!

"Really?" I grinned snapping back to reality. "Are you sure?"

"Pretty much sure." She nodded looking back at me to see my reaction. I lifted her up in the air in my arms with excitement but put her down quickly realizing that I had to be careful. I apologized and placed one hand gently on her belly. I cannot believe I am going to be a father. Wait until Cloud hears about this! He's going to flip.

"If it's a girl we'll call her Jasmina! What do you think?" When she crinkled her nose and shook her head at my suggestion I realized that wouldn't be an option.

"I like Cissnei." She said and it made me serious. I liked that name too.

"Cissnei is perfect." I told her and lifted her chin with my fingers so I could kiss her lips. I held her in my arms overwhelmed by this feeling of protectiveness.

Life gave me a second chance to live and I couldn't be thankful enough.

My final mission was over but I just realized I had another one just starting.

SOLDIER 1st class Zack Fair, is out.

The end

Mint's Final Note: I can't believe this is over! I know this was not a very long fanfic but I wanted to focus mostly on some parts of the game and what I think should have happened if Zack was there. I really hope people liked my story and I can't be enough thankful for all the support! Thank you so much for the reviews everyone! Xanti, oodball167, who is translating it to Spanish and reviewed my every chapter, Prexistence, for all the help you gave me through it and all the reviews you are great my friend, ZakuReno and cyathula, for reviewing every time I updated, Angelgirl651, xTincampi, ann, Vane-Elric, also Kairi-loves-Sushi, Prince of Pride, Dragi, GirlsLikeeBoys, writer, floutistvivi, xEpIcxXxfAiLx, XDarkZeroX. I hope I didn't left anyone out! But if I did I thank you all the same! You have been great! Also, thank you all the people faving and putting my story on alert! I hope you all liked the ending; I wasn't so sure about the baby part afraid it would be too fluffy and I like tragedies a lot.

Anyway, thank you everyone! I'll see you around.