Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VII belongs to Square Enix. All I own here is myself and the plentiful, crack-y ideas swimming around in my brain. What follows is the result of my morbid curiosity in wondering what could happen should the above be thrown into a metaphorical blender together and set on fire.
A few warnings: There is, as with all my stories, a full summary and an explanation of the origins of this story on my profile page, should you be curious. I also need to say that this starts off rather angsty, but I promise it won't stay that way for long. The rating is for language because I have way too much fun swearing, though I'll try to tone it down. I'm not intending this to be a romance fic, though there WILL be a LOT of fluff. Also, even though this is a self insert, I don't really feel comfortable writing in first person much, so it'll be in third person instead. And yes, there is already a sequel. So you should probably get to reading now, huh? Enjoy! :)
Chapter 1: Be Careful What You Wish For…
As much as she tried to fight it, the tears slid down her cheeks as she flipped the phone closed. An unexpected giggle fought its way past the lump in her throat, but it quickly turned into a strangled sob as her eyes fell on the PS2 lying on the shelf and the game on top of it. These past few weeks it had been one of her only sources of comfort; the only place she felt wanted or needed; the only thing keeping her sane. "I can't believe how pathetic this is," she muttered bitterly, wiping at the tears that continued to fall. She turned away, unable to take the sight any longer as she felt a sudden surge of anger override the aching emptiness that had been a constant companion recently, though she couldn't begin to say what she was angry at. Who even cared anymore? The anger faded quickly though, replaced by the all-too-familiar sense of nothing, and then an abrupt craving for movement. The need to move, the feeling that not doing so would kill her, was so strong that she ran out the door without even bothering to put on shoes or her jacket.
She kept her gaze firmly on the ground while she passed the myriad doors on her hall before she finally made it to the stairs. In her haste, she stumbled and almost fell, but quickly caught herself on the railing and ran on, ignoring the call behind her as someone spotted her. Panicked, she dashed out the front doors, ignoring the storm that raged around her, soaking her to the bone in a matter of seconds, and the freezing wind that made her teeth chatter. She stamped down the rational screaming in her head that warned her not to run through the dark woods barefoot, alone, in the middle of a freak storm and made her way along the nature trail that wound behind the cluster of off-campus housing toward the small creek almost a mile and a half away. The distance passed in a haze, much to her frustration, and she soon heard the familiar rush of water. Her eyes widened slightly in surprise as water lapped at her toes when she stepped on the little bridge and realized that it must have rained much harder while she was on the phone than she'd thought. The usually shallow creek was now so swollen that it could almost pass as a small river. The swifter-than-normal currents rushed over the aged wood of the bridge, making the footing unsteady. Undeterred, she leaned on the rickety railing and stared moodily into the swirling waters below as she replayed the conversation that had driven her out here in the first place. Hot tears stung her eyes and mingled with the rain drops as they slid down her cheeks. Clenching her fists, she only then realized that she still held her phone.
It was just too much then. Too much pressure, too much expectation, too much failure, not enough hope. As if it were the source of her desolation, she drew back her arm and flung the small silver phone as far as she could into the darkness. The wet plop as it fell into the water brought less relief than she had hoped for, and she sighed, the last of her hopes sinking into the darkness like her phone. "I'm… not strong enough for this…" she whispered, her voice soft and defeated. "It would be easier for them if I weren't around to constantly disappoint them… it's not like I'm needed for anything useful…" The storm seemed to swell now, drowning out her quiet words as she looked up towards the rolling clouds above. "Maybe it would be better if I just… disappeared…"
There was a brilliant flash and a deafening boom from above, and in slow motion she saw the burning branch fall away from the tree and towards the little bridge where she stood. And then the darkness crowded in.
The first thing she noticed was something warm and tingling surrounding her, and then a muffled sort of silence that told her she was somewhere small and dark. She sighed, not sure where she was or how she'd gotten there, and simply content to stay there and forget whatever it was that waited in the back of her mind, ready to pounce and remind her why she didn't want to open her eyes. In the end, however, it was something else entirely that shattered her moment of peace. It started out as a gentle pulling on her skin, but it quickly grew into a forceful tug that sent her sailing past her comfort zone and out into someplace that was entirely too bright. She blinked, her eyes adjusting slowly to the sudden daylight. When she finally opened them and looked around, she found herself staring into a pair of beady, enraged serpentine eyes that were accompanied by a pair of vicious looking fangs. Her scream was cut off as whatever force responsible for bringing her there released its hold on her and gravity took over. The free-fall was briefly slowed as the snake-like creature before her lashed out, a fang grazing her side and knocking her a few feet sideways. At that point, she couldn't focus enough past the burning and the wind rushing in her ears to care that she was only a few dozen feet away from a messy landing. The blackness took over her senses just as she felt something warm and soft collide with her injured side before she stopped feeling anything at all.
"Yuffie, you stupid brat! What the hell kinda shit did you pull this time?!" shouted the irate pilot as he landed with the bleeding… whatever it was. "What kinda fucked up materia you tryin' to stick us with this time?!" Yuffie, just as confused and irritated as Cid, blasted the Zolom hissing at them with a round of fire spells before rounding on the airship captain.
"Don't blame this on me, you crazy old man! That was the summon that was born when YOUR Bahamut materia mastered the other day! If it's fucked up, it's your fault!" the ninja snapped back, tired and sore. Thankfully, Tifa arrived then on a green chocobo, with a blue and a black trailing behind her on tethers.
"What's the matter?" she asked, quickly taking note of the sparks flying dangerously between the pilot and the ninja. The two grumbled as they swung themselves onto their chocobos, Cid being careful with the summon in his arms.
"Yuffie made somethin' weird," he said, the same time Yuffie shouted, "Cid's blaming me for his screwed up summon!"
Tifa glanced between her two friends and peered curiously at the unconscious lump Cid still held. "That doesn't look like any summon I've ever seen," she pointed out as she nudged her chocobo into motion and pointed it in the direction of WRO Headquarters. "Besides the fact that summons never stay after an enemy is defeated, I also don't think they can be harmed, and that one is definitely bleeding. Let's hurry back to Headquarters. We can make sure it's alright, and then find out just what exactly it is," she suggested in a tone that left no room for further arguments. Yuffie grumbled as she pulled an energy bar and a canteen of tea out of her pack and began munching on them as they moved steadily away from the swamplands.
"You mean you don't even know what it is, and you brought it here?" Reeve asked worriedly as the strange summon was deposited on a bed in the infirmary. As soon as they had service again, Tifa had called Reeve and asked him to have first aid ready, while Yuffie called Vincent and asked him to hurry over to headquarters with Red, in hopes of shedding some light on Cid's summon-gone-wrong. Cid had been cajoled into calling Cloud and Barret and asking them to meet them at the WRO and bring anything that might have useful information. There was a small crowd gathered by the time the trio plus summon arrived, at which point Cid had shouted at them to form a path and get some anti-venom ready. At Reeve's protests, however, he spun around, waving his bloodied hand in the man's face.
"No, I don't know what exactly it is, but it's bleedin' just like you or me. Maybe you should try to stop that before you worry about what ta call it," he snapped, pointing at the wound that was turning reddish green at the edges and was still oozing blood that had already seeped onto the bed sheets. Tifa took charge as Reeve's mouth gaped like a fish and began pouring disinfectant over the wound, making the form on the bed twitch. Cid held its arms and shoulders down, and Yuffie its legs while Tifa quickly cleaned out the wound and cast a Cure spell on it before finally injecting a syringe full of the antidote into its arm. There was a tense silence as the group looked warily from each other, to Cid, to the would-be-summon lying on the bed. Its breathing had settled down, and now it appeared to be sleeping peacefully.
Reeve passed the three tired caretakers revitalizing drinks and sandwiches as the group moved into the next room to discuss their new find. They left the connecting door open, and Cid was mildly irritated to see a few weapons shifted closer, though his rational side agreed with that idea. "So, what happened?" Surprisingly, it was Vincent who first voiced the question on everyone's mind. Cid glanced over at Yuffie, telling her to talk, with a glare warning her against throwing all the blame on him. Yuffie was too tired to do anymore yelling, however, and pulled out the glowing red materia that had started all of this.
"So, wait, that Bahamut materia Cid mastered that last mission made that?" Barret repeated, cutting Yuffie off. She nodded, passing him the baby summon materia.
"I took it on this one hoping it would get stronger, but when I used it, there was a flash, and then that fell. The Zolom bit it on the way down, Cid caught it, I killed the Zolom, we brought it back here. End of story."
Barret passed the red orb on for inspection from Cloud and Red XIII before it passed to Vincent, then Reeve. None noticed anything that stood out about the glowing sphere; it looked like any other summon materia.
"She," came a soft growl from the door. The group turned to look at Cid as he glared at all of them in turn. "Stop callin' her an 'it'. It's obvious she ain't a summon. That's a person in there." Standing, he walked back toward the sick-room, but a voice behind him stopped him at the door.
"Why are you suddenly so protective of someone you know nothing about?" Cid bristled at the hostile and accusatory tone in Cloud's voice and turned angrily.
"Because I remember when you people would accept just anyone who stumbled across your path as a friend, family even. Even someone as screwed up and crazy as me. I don't like y'all bein' so suspicious. It ain't right, not from you."
"You're saying we have no right to be suspicious of someone who just fell from the sky?" Cloud asked, his blue eyes cold. Cid stiffened at the insinuation, but refused to back down.
"That's not what I'm sayin' at all, but you know as well as me that if Jenova does find a way to come back, it ain't gonna be in no summon materia!"
Vincent decided to speak up. "Then what else has the power to disrupt a summon like that?"
Cid rounded his icy glare on the ex-Turk's fiery one. "I don't know, all right!" he admitted, coloring slightly. "But whatever she is and however she got here, she got here through my materia!"
"So, what, you think that makes her your daughter or somethin'?" Barret asked roughly. Cid was silent for a moment.
"Somethin' like that, maybe," he answered, slightly uncomfortable as he realized it himself. "And if you got a problem with that then you know exactly where you can shove it." Turning once more, he stalked into the sick room, jerking the curtain around the bed and disappearing from sight of his friends' mixture of angry, confused, and surprised faces. Yuffie was among the pair of confused faces as Cid's words sparked something inside her.
"It might have been his materia… but I was the one who cast the spell. I was the one who summoned her…" She turned to face the surprised and curious expressions now watching her. "I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing, but I'm still responsible, same as Cid. If his materia created her because of my spell, and that makes her like his daughter, then I'm ok with that making her something like a little sister…" the young ninja stammered, cheeks turning pink as she hurried into the adjoining room and slipped behind the curtain to join Cid at his post. He looked up from his chair by the bed, his eyes narrowed in surprise and suspicion. Before he could ask, Yuffie gave him her best I'll-do-what-I-want-and-you-can't-stop-me look and put her hands on her hips. "Don't think you get to keep her all to yourself just because she popped out of your materia," she scolded the older man. "I'm the one who summoned her, and that means she's just as much mine as she is yours." She gave a confident nod and flopped into the chair next to Cid's.
Once he'd regained the ability to speak past his surprise, he chuckled, shaking his head. "Fine by me," he muttered, unable to keep the tiny smile off his face.
In most cases, the momentary shift between unconsciousness and natural sleep is a celebrated thing, as it indicates the body has healed enough to wake soon. Cid wondered why the nurse expected this to be a normal case as the woman scurried away from the girl screaming on the bed. He also wondered if normal summons had nightmares, too.
The first thing she noticed upon waking was the smoke that floated gently through the room. 'Ah… maybe that's why...?' The second thing she became aware of were the tears still trailing down her cheeks, and she dropped an arm over her eyes, embarrassed. She'd been having lucid nightmares for years, and while she could never remember exactly what happened in them, the taste of terror and tears stayed with her long after she opened her eyes.
Cid shifted as the girl woke, feeling uncomfortable. "Nurse yelled at me 'bout smokin' in the sick bay," he said quietly, not wanting to startle her or wake Yuffie. "Said ya might be allergic to the smoke or somethin'." He peered curiously at her as she sniffed and shook her head without moving her arm away from her face.
"That's… not it…" she assured him softly.
Cid nodded and snuffed out his cigarette. "I know." At this the girl peeked out from under her arm curiously. "You talk in your sleep," he told her, almost guiltily, and she sighed and nodded, covering her face again for a moment before wiping her eyes and sitting up.
"Um…" she began tentatively, looking around. "Where… am I?"
If the pilot was surprised by her question, he didn't show it. "The infirmary of the WRO Headquarters," he answered, then elaborated when she didn't look any less confused. "That's the World Regenesis Organization. We're in the mountains just west of Junon." Recognition lit up in her eyes, followed by shock.
"No way…" came a quiet whisper. Cid's eyes narrowed in mild worry at this unforeseen reaction.
"What's the matter?"
"Aha… Nothing much, just disrupting an inter-planetary balance, apparently," came the unexpected reply. Despite his better sense, Cid was more intrigued than concerned.
The girl was starting to look frantic as she ran a hand through her hair. "This world is only supposed to exist inside a game… I have to be dreaming… maybe that branch hit me and I'm lying in a coma in some hospital… yeah… that's gotta be it… this is just… just a dream…"
Cid watched as she muttered to herself, the potential impacts of those words running through his head. Somehow, he didn't think she was lying, though whether she was really from an entirely different world or if popping out of a summon materia had jumbled her brain and made her think that was the case, he honestly couldn't say. "So, you remember how you got here?" he asked, deciding to play along and find out which was true. The girl looked confused for a moment, then thoughtful.
"Back… home… I was standing on a bridge over this little creek. There was a storm, and I think… lightning hit a tree above me... I remember seeing a branch falling toward me and then it was like I was floating someplace warm and dark… I got pulled out by… something…and then there was… a snake thing… I think it bit me… and that's all I remember before waking up just now…" she recalled slowly, trying and failing to figure out how it was possible she was in her favorite fictional world if she weren't in a coma. 'I don't feel like I'm in a coma… Then again, I've never been in a coma before, so I'm not even sure what that feels like… there was that one time last week I tried to sleep myself into a coma, but that didn't work… maybe I died when that branch fell and this is Heaven. It wouldn't be such a bad afterlife, aside from getting bitten by giant snakes… Zoloms?... But I still feel alive… I don't think you're supposed to feel alive after you're dead, though…Maybe…' Her rambling thoughts were interrupted as Cid spoke.
"Well, I don't know 'bout other worlds, but you sure gave us a scare when you popped outta that summon materia instead a' Bahamut. That Midgar Zolom wasn't too happy 'bout that either. Bit ya as ya fell. Then we carried ya back here and treated ya," he explained. The girl's face scrunched up in a mixture of surprise and confusion.
"Wait… I got summoned instead of Bahamut?" she repeated, her expression turning thoughtful. 'Is that supposed to be some sort of twisted joke?' she wondered, chills running down her arms, yet doubting that was the case. As far as she knew, God didn't just pull someone out of one world and toss them into another as a joke. Unless the world was really like it was in the Dark Hunter books she read, and it was some other pantheon's god playing tricks on humans again. Either way, she was pretty sure that god or God, they had better things to do than mess with her head. Which led right back to the coma theory.
Cid, oblivious to her inner musings, continued. "Yup. Surprised all of us, too. Really has Cloud and some a' the others freaked out. Which reminds me. Never introduced myself. Cid Highwind, captain of the WRO Air Fleet. This weird lookin' kid's Yuffie Kisaragi. She's our, well… our Yuffie, I guess. Not sure she has an official job title…"
Upon hearing her name, Yuffie stirred, stretching and yawning widely. "You left out 'Most Awesome Ninja Ever, the Single White Rose of Wutai'," she added, rubbing her eyes sleepily. Then she remembered the whole point of an introduction and blinked, looking in surprise at the girl blinking back at her from the bed. "You're awake!" she cried, bouncing up excitedly. "How do you feel? Alright?" the girl on the bed nodded slowly, taken slightly aback by the sudden burst of energy in the young ninja before her. "Good." Yuffie smiled and nodded, then rounded on Cid. "And did you really just call me weird looking? I am not! Take it back!" Cid ignored her and lit up another cigarette, rolling his eyes.
"I'm…" At the small voice behind her Yuffie turned back to the bed, and Cid looked back down. The girl blushed slightly, suddenly self-conscious. After a few moments, though, she found her voice again. "I'm Mara."
A/N: In author-ly celebration of this story reaching its second story arc, the entire first arc is getting revised! :D Because, really, I should have edited this ages ago… Also being added, chapter trivia! All I really remember about writing this chapter is that it was written while I was also writing Almost. That was over three years ago! Weird.