Hello, and welcome to In The Presence Of Love. I want to offer an apology, if you're a regular reader of mine you'll know that I'm supossed to be working on my other story titled Throwing Punches, I'm sorry its taken me so long to update it, I hit a snag while writing the 4th chapter. But I'm almost finished with it now, so it shouldn't be long before its posted. Thank-you for your patience.

Author's Note: This story take place just before the end of Advent Children and could be a sort of prologue my other story, Rebirth. When I started writing this, that was not my intention. If you would like to look at it as a prologue, then I guess its a prologue.

Disclaimer:I do not own FFVII.

P.S. - I apologize for any spelling errors that may occur, the sites spell check doesn't seem to be working at the moment. If you find any, please be sure to tell me so I can fix them. Please, however, refrain from pointing out grammatical errors, I know I have horrible grammar. :)


In The Presence Of Love

The explosion had rocked more than just the Shera, more than the city or the world, it had rocked me, usually so strong and steadfast, right down to the core. I had never been more shaken in my life, not at the loss of my mother, or losing my father and my entire hometown in a single night...no, losing Cloud would be much worse.

I stare down through the glass of the main deck of the Shera, my face practically pressed against the window pane, searching the charred and burning rubble of the surrounding buildings for any sign of life, any indication that he might have survived.

Nothing...

Cid moves the airship closer, blowing away the smoke and subduing any remaining flames. I search frantically, my eyes darting from side to side, my heart racing faster and faster with every passing second.

Then finally, as if by some divine miracle, he's there, gazing up at the Shera, and leaning heavily against the core blade of the First Tsurugi in the middle a ring made from the rest of the blades, his face caked in dirt and blood. There is no sign of Sephiroth, the demonic one-winged angel or the Remnants. The bridge erupts in loud cheering, but the excitement and the celebration seem not to reach me. Even from this height, I can see Cloud's chest heaving, his lungs begging for air, his eyes closing slightly as his strength slowly fades away.

"Cid! Get in closer, Spikey ain't lookin' so hot!" calls Barret to Cid from across the bridge. As Cid adjusts the coordinates, Barret glances over at me, understanding filling his usually seemingly cold black eyes.

"He's goin' be fine, Teef. He'll be on board an' fixed up in no time." He says quietly, such a contrast to his normally booming voice.

I nod my head, and turn my attention back to the blue-eyed mercenary below me.

When Cid finally manages to land the enormous airship, and once the gangway is lowered I rush out toward him, my fear and worry almost uncontainable. As I approach him he tries to stand up straight and walk toward me, but he fails, and instead falls to his knees.

"Cloud!" I practically scream as he falls hard to the ground.

I fall to my knees next to him, and laying his head in my lap, I begin to wipe away the dirt and blood from his face.

"Cloud, can you hear me?!" I yell, leaning in closer to him.

"Tifa..." He murmurs, lifting his head and opening his eyes slowly.

"Cloud, what's wrong? Where are you hurt?"

"Tifa...I..." That's all he can manage before his head falls back and his eyes close once again.

"Damn it, Cloud, stay with me!" I hiss, shaking him. "Barret! Help me get him to the ship!" I yell, my voice devoid of fear and panic, instead taking on a commanding tone...one I've heard Cloud use so many times before...

It's only a matter of minutes before Cloud is taken to the medical bay and dosed with numerous Potion, but the usually life-saving substance seems to have little to no effect. The stab wound on his shoulder and bullet hole continue to bleed profusely despite our efforts, and I can almost see Cloud's life fading away before my eyes.

"Take him to the church..."echoes an oddly familiar voice inside my head.

"What good would that do? He needs a doctor, not a God."I reply almost maliciously, trying to keep my focus on holding pressure against the gun shot wound, and trying to ignore the blood roiling up between my fingers.

"Take him to the church...I'm waiting for him..." comes the voice again. But who's voice is it?

Suddenly, the realization hits me, hard enough to leave me feeling suddenly breathless.

Aerith...

I turn my attention to Barret, who is leaning against the far wall, watching me anxiously.

"Barret, tell Cid to head to Sector 5, we're going to her church."

Barret nods with a small throaty grunt than retreats from the room, motioning for Yuffie, Vincent and Nanaki to follow. They walk out one by one, but only after giving one last glance to me and Cloud, each of their faces holding a different level of worry.

The flight to Sector 5 is a short one, and once Cid finds a decent place to land, we waste no time in getting Cloud off the Shera and into the church.

We're greeted by a large group of cheering people, and most, if not all of them, are still afflicted with Geostigma. But their cheering ceases when they see Cloud's still form being carried in Barret's barrel-like arms. Denzel and Marlene are among the on-lookers, their expressions collected and somber, as they watch us proceed to the water's edge.

"Barret, let me take him."

Barret says nothing as he gently lowers Cloud down, and helps me swing one of his limp arms over my shoulders. I grab hold of his forearm, and wrapping my other arm around his waist, I carry him forward into the pool.

Once at its center, I release Cloud and let him float on the water's surface. The water laps at the sides of his face, washing away any dirt and grime that had once been there. The blood washes away as well, but the water does not become murky or fill with the crimson color, it remains clear and pure, as if nothing could ever taint it.

Feeling my heart soar with hope, I scoop some of the water and let it fall from my hands over Cloud's shoulder, and watch with a great sense of awe as the wound there dissipates, seemingly into thin air. I repeat the process with the bullet hole, tears escaping me as that wound disappears as well.

But even fully healed, he doesn't wake, he remains lying there, motionless...lifeless. No, I refuse to accept the latter, he was still breathing when we arrived...he can't be dead, not him.

I lean in closer, my face mere inches from his.

"Cloud, I know you can hear me." I say quietly, gently brushing aside some of his hair. "You need to wake up, you can't die...not here...not today...do you hear me, Cloud? Not today..."

No response...

Sobbing slightly, I straighten up, turn, and exit the water, taking my place amongst the members of AVALANCHE. My pain and worry mount with every passing second that he doesn't wake, and I can feel myself becoming numb, making me unable to move, unable to even think...there's nothing more to do...it's up to him now...

The crowd gathers in even closer to the water, they watch Cloud with bated breath, hoping that their hero will rise again. I can see their faces, their expressions, changing from ones of expectancy, to worry, and then finally to grief when Cloud just continues to simply float unmoving on the water's calm, and glassy surface.

"Aerith...I know you're here...I know you can hear me." I say quietly inside my head. "Please...help him find his way back to us...back to me. He can't be gone...not yet...not when I have so much to tell. Please, Aerith, I love him...I love him so much..."

In all my life, I've never really believed in anything higher than the Lifestream, never had a reason to. And even now, when I stand to lose the one thing in this world that matters most to me, the man who's source of all my happiness...of all my pain...she's the only one that I can think to call upon. Maybe its because we became so close before she died, more than friends, more like sisters...but maybe its because she knows what its like to love someone so fully, so irrevocably...that's its hard to even comprehend what it would be like to life without them...

I tear my eyes away Cloud for no more than a few moments, trying to distract myself. My gaze falls on Yuffie, who's fighting to hold back tears. She's shaking slightly, and leaning heavily against Vincent, who's arm is wrapped around her waist tightly. Vincent's face, however, betrays nothing, no emotion, no insight into what he might be thinking. He just stares blankly toward the water, waiting and watching like everyone else, his eyes darting down to Yuffie every few seconds. Despite my own pain, I can't but to smile at them lightly. Something is passing between them as their locked in that simple yet passionate embrace, its a new and young love, just about to blossom.

Barret's and Cid's expressions are the same, anger underlying in their worry. Anger for what Cloud has done to me, worry for what would happen to me if he died. Barret's knows what its like to lose the one you love...knows that heartache...and Cid, Cid would never want to lose Shera.

Lastly, I glance down at Denzel and Marlene, who moved to stand beside me soon after I retreated from the water. The emotions I find plastered across their young features should have surprised me, would have surprised anyone else who didn't know them the way I do. Instead of sadness and uncertainty, emotions that any other child would be enduring now, assurance, and even expectancy rule in their place.

I wish I had their confidence...

After another moment, I return my gaze to Cloud. I study everything about him, memorize every line of his face, every spike of his gravity-defying hair...I memorize how peaceful he looks now, there on the brink of life and death...

I can remember every reason why I fell in love with him, which is every reason why I would die right along with him. His eyes, the way he smiles, his stubborness, his reckless heroic tendencies...the stupid way he rubs his neck when he's nervous...these are things that I couldn't live without, even if we never became more than friends...

There are reasons I should hate him too, for leaving me, for broken promises...but to even hold his mistakes against him seems to me slightly unfair, besides, the good outweighs the bad.

"Cloud...please live...just live." I say inwardly. "Even if we never become anything more than we are now...I need you here, with me or without me...just knowing your alive would be enough...please Cloud, I need you...I love you..."

It's after that last prayer, that last cry for help, that he finally moves. He stands up quickly, turning rapidly from side to side, his eyes scanning across the vast crowd. Even though he doesn't look at me, even though his attention is paid to the children that now encircling him, I tilt my head back slightly, gazing at the pale blue sky, a single tear running down my cheek.

"Thank-you." I say quietly.

I guess that, in the presence of love, miracles can happen.


So, what did you think? I kind of pulled this one out of thin air, I actually got the idea for it from a small pillow that's sitting on one of the shelves in my computer room, the front of it says "In the presence of love, miracles can happen." It's interesting how one sentence can spark a 2000+ word story, don't you think? Anyway, I'm going to try and revert my attention back to Throwing Punches, I really want to finish it. Also, I'm re-writing the ending of Chasing The Moon and I'm working on a new one-shor based off of Paramore's song The Only Exception.

Please be sure to review, and maybe check out my other work.

~CLOUDxTIFAforever