Welcome to Rebirth!!!
Summery: Sephiroth is dead, the Geostigma is cured...now the only thing left to do is mend is a broken heart. My own ending to Advent Children.
Author's Note: This story starts just after Cloud is shot by Yazoo and continues through the ending and then continues into mine. I really love the way this turned out, and it has to be my favorite and most successful one-shot. Please enjoy and leave a review if you like it!
Disclaimer: I own nothing, but I really wish I did.
Rebirth (Cloud's POV)
White light, surrounding and consuming…confusing but clearer than anything I've ever seen…not at all how I would have imagined my death…
As I hang over the void between life and death I try to remember how I came to be here, and soon the memories begin to return to me, but they're just flashes, broken and brief.
My mind quickly cycles through these memories, the defeat of Sephiroth…Kadaj being absorbed into the Lifestream…the bullet from Yazoo's gun ripping through my chest…the explosion.
The sudden touch of a hand on my forehead breaks my train of thought and I focus my attention on someone's soft spoken and incomprehensible words.
I open my eyes slowly, only to find myself floating in a pool of water surrounded by children.
I stand up quickly and look around, trying to take in my surroundings. I'm standing in the pool of water inside of Aerith's church enclosed by people who are still afflicted with Geostigma.
A small girl standing next to me in the water catches my attention and when out eyes meet she smile lightly.
"It's like she said, 'Wait here and Cloud will come back.'" she says. I can only stare at her, completely dumbfounded and unable to respond…who is 'she'? But before I can ask her a quiet and familiar voice calls to me.
"Welcome back." the quiet greeting causes me to turn my gaze to the other side of the pool, where my friends are gathered at the edge of the pool, watching me expectantly. I scan over the small group and as my gaze falls on them, they nod in turn. Finally my eyes come to rest in the middle of them, where a women with long raven hair and fiery red-brown eyes is standing, but my attention in diverted from her as Nanaki moves to the front of the group, his flame tipped tail swaying gently behind him.
"There are still children with the stigma." He says, looking at me.
"Yeah." I nod my head and walk toward the edge of the pool. Tifa moves aside and crouches down next to Denzel, who was standing behind her.
"Hey, let's get you fixed up." she says quietly as I reach out my hand to Denzel.
"Come on, I'm here." Denzel hesitates, and its only after Tifa's reassures him that he finally walks forward allows me to lift into the water.
After I set him down in the middle of the pool I scoop up some of the cool, crystal clear water and lift it above his head. I let it drip down onto him slowly, and the second the water makes contact, his Geostigma begins to disappear.
The curing of his Geostigma is almost like a baptism, ridding him of his affliction, maybe even sins, giving him another chance to live…it is his rebirth.
When the last drop of water falls from my hands Denzel drops his gaze to the surface of the water, and seeing that the stain of the stigma no longer mars his forehead, he looks up to me excitedly.
Soon the whole crowd is cheering and jumping into the water, splashing and laughing as they too are cured.
I lift my gaze and begin to scan over crowd, trying to take in every small miracle taking place around me, but I soon find myself distracted by a women crouched down in front of two small children by the main doorway.
The sight of her causes my breath to catch in my throat and for a few moments all I can do is stare at her, completely dumbfounded.
As I watch her she stands up and begins to walk towards the door, where a man dressed in SOLDIER attire is leaning casually against the doorframe, his arms crossed over his chest.
When Aerith reaches the doorway she turns around and looks back at me, a gentle smile on her lips.
The sight of them together…together and happy, helps me to finally realize that no matter what I've done to them, what I've come to blame myself for…it doesn't matter, it never did matter…they never blamed me…not once.
"You see? Everything's…alright." says Aerith, her voice reverberating inside my head. With that she turns away, and after a final parting wave from Zack they walk away and disappear into a blinding white light.
As they depart a strange feeling of clarity crashes over me, like all of my guilt has been washed away in a matter of seconds, and in those few seconds my whole life and frame of mind has changed. I realize that everything is alright, it always has been, and that I was just too consumed by my guilt to realize it.
"I know." I say inwardly. "I'm not alone, not anymore." As the realization settles in, I can't help but smile as the peaceful clarity descends over me, resounding throughout my entire body, and suddenly, almost unwillingly, my gaze is torn from the doorway only to fall upon the raven haired women standing in the midst of my friends.
Throughout my life she has always been there, the one and only constant force keeping me from being completely consumed by the darkness in my soul, always breaking through its barriers like some unstoppable ray of sunlight. She's my best friend…and the women I love and cherish more deeply than anything else on the planet…
She's standing in the middle of the small group with Denzel and Marlene next to her. When our eyes meet I feel as though I'm seeing her for the first time, and I find myself unable to move, or even think. I can only stare at her, completely and utterly entranced by her stunning beauty.
The sunlight streaming in from the collapsing roof seems to cast an angelic halo of light around her and suddenly every suppressed emotion, every ignored feeling of love I've had for her seems to resurface, burning hotter than ever before. It feels as though some dormant part of me has been awakened, like every wall around my heart has fallen away.
I begin to walk toward her slowly, still lost in her wonderful beauty, a beauty I seem to be rediscovering. When I reach the water's edge I climb out quickly, and, soaking wet and dripping, I stand directly in front of Tifa, my eyes still focused on her intently.
A feeling of awkwardness and insecurity falls over me almost immediately. I'm so unsure of what to say or do, and for a few moments I can only stare at her, unable to move under her soft and tender gaze.
I move closer to her, so close that our bodies are pressed together. In the past, having her this close would have made me feel so vulnerable, so exposed, but now…now that I'm free of my guilt and pressing darkness, having her this close…feels so right…so natural…
She suddenly throws her arms around my neck and begins to cry softly into my shoulder, and after a few uncertain moments I wrap my arms around her and hold her tightly against me.
When she calms down she pulls away from me, but we remain locked in our embrace, our faces mere inches apart. Our eyes lock again as her tears continue to fall and a sob escapes her every few seconds.
"Don't leave me again, Cloud…please…I can't…" Her voice breaks as she begins to cry even harder. It's difficult for me to see her like this, and to know that it was me who did this to her…it's unbearable.
She buries her face into my shoulder again and leans against me heavily. I hold her even tighter, for now it's all I can do.
"Tifa…I'm sorry…I'm so sorry…" I repeat those words over and over again, quietly whispering them in her ear.
"You left…without a good-bye…an explanation…" she manages to gasp between sobs, the words are nothing more than a whisper, uttered into my ear.
"I know." I whisper back. "I should have said good-bye, I should have let you in…but I thought it would be better…easier, to just leave. I was wrong."
As she continues to cry I want nothing more than to ask her to stop, to reassure her that I have no intention of leaving her again, but I have no right in asking her to stop. I deserve to stand here, holding her as she falls apart because of me, to hear her pained sobs, to feel the uncomfortable dampness of my shirt under the almost constant flow of her tears.
Tears she doesn't deserve to be shedding. Someone so perfect, so angelic as Tifa should never have to cry…should never have to experience such pain, such heartache, especially over someone as unworthy as me.
"Tifa…please stop crying…I'm not going anywhere, I promise."
I release my hold from around her waist and she unweaves her arms from around my neck, letting them fall heavily down to her sides. She keeps her eyes diverted from mine and instead keeps them focused on my chest. I gently lift her chin up with my index finger and her eyes meet mine somewhat reluctantly.
"You're…you're staying?" She asks quietly.
"I can't hurt you anymore…"
"So you're staying because of a guilty conscience?" she asks coldly as she turns and walks a few steps away from me, crossing her arms tightly over her chest.
"I'm staying because…because I love you."
Those last three words seems to pierce through the crushing silence that has fallen over the church, and I suddenly realize that everyone gathered in the church has been watching mine and Tifa's every move with bated breath.
I sigh deeply and walk forward slowly, stopping just a few feet behind Tifa.
"Tifa…my whole life has changed in the last few hours…what ever guilt and darkness haunted me…it's gone now, but their pressing weight has been replaced by a new burden…"
I give the room a sweeping glance; everyone is staring at us, their faces full of anticipation. I tear my eyes away from them, and, trying my best to ignore them, I take a few more steps forward and stand directly behind Tifa.
"I've hurt you." I say to her quietly. "Nothing I can say or do could ever change that. But…I don't want to hurt you anymore…I want to come home, Tifa…I want to start over with you by my side. You have every reason to hate me…"
"I can't hate you…" she says quickly.
"I can't hate you." She says again, turning to me. "I've tried. I've tried to stop loving you, tried to get over you, but in the end I find myself loving you even more…" Her voice breaks and tears well up in her eyes, threatening to fall. "That's the only thing I could ever hate about you, Cloud, you make me love you. I want nothing more than to be with you, but I'm afraid…"
She drops her gaze to the ground and breathes in deeply.
"I'm afraid that once everything is back to normal, and we're happy…that you'll leave again."
I lay a hand on her waist and pull her against me and run the fingers of my free hand through her hair, coming to rest on the back of her neck.
"I'm not leaving again, Tifa. I'm not strong enough to stay away from you anymore…"
"You sound so sure…" she says, laughing lightly.
I can't help but laugh a little myself, and I place my hand on her cheek, bringing her face closer to mine, close enough that my lips gently brush against hers.
"I've never been more sure of anything in my entire life, Tifa." I whisper softly. "Give me this chance to make things right…give me this chance to make you happy…please, Tifa…I love you so much…"
"I love you too, Cloud."
I close my eyes, breathe in deeply and let a smile dance across my face, allowing myself to revel in those words. When I open my eyes again I see her staring at me expectantly, her red-brown eyes blazing.
Before I can realize what's happening the gap between our lips begins to close slowly. As our lips meet, the connection sends a shockwave throughout my entire body, setting every one of my nerves aflame.
Never have I tasted anything so sweet or felt anything as soft as her lips. I close my eyes and let the kiss grow in passion and intensity, my lips never leaving hers until every last ounce of air is used and I'm forced to breathe.
The bond breaks, leaving us both gasping for air. After a moment, Tifa lays her head against, I wrap my arms around her waist and rest my chin on top of her head, simply enjoying out newly confessed love…
Suddenly, crazed cheering and applause breaks out around us, harshly jerking us back to reality. I had forgotten we were being watched, and a wave of embarrassment crashes over me.
Tifa's lifts her head and looks out over the crowd, her gaze finally coming to rest on our friends, who are all cheering and clapping wildly.
"Come on, Cloud, kiss her again!" screams Yuffie at the top of her lungs.
Tifa looks up at me, her tear-streaked face red with embarrassment. She smiles as my lips find hers again and I wrap my arms around the small of her back and lift her up, slowly revolving on the spot.
The world seems to slow, and the cheers from the onlookers slowly fades away, leaving only Tifa and I alone. As the continues I feel as though a brilliant light begins to fill my soul, leaving me feeling ready to face whatever my future, whatever our future together, may bring, because her has given me a chance to live again…her love is my rebirth.
What'd you think? Be sure to leave a review and tell me, because like I said its my favorite, and maybe its your's now as well.