Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy or any part of the series... or anything that is not mine for that matter.
Author's Note: Wah! The final chapter is here! *sad* well, this story must end, and whether you believe it or not, writing this chapter was very sad for me. I really enjoyed writing this story, but all stories have endings. And new ones will begin. :)
This chapter is really how I intended it to end, and I can only hope that you guys will like it. :)
A loud, shrill cry was heard in the halls of Tear's Point, almost shaking the whole structure where the big battle ensued. And all the friends that were left fighting the endless numbers of monsters could think of were the images of Squall, Cloud, and Rinoa in trouble.
Irvine was struggling with a large, lizard-type monster with his empty shotgun when he heard the loud roar.
He pushed the monster away from him and quickly turned his attention to the darkened halls beyond.
"No..." Selphie, who left the robot and fought by Irvine's side, clasped her hands together in a silent prayer she hoped will be answered.
More monsters were pouring in, and most were stronger than the previous. The young group were getting weaker, as they made the most out of their hopeless situation, fighting despite being outnumbered.
Seifer just impaled another tiger-like monster with his gunblade before fiercely standing and walked his way unto the next one.
Paine turned to him as she more weakly sliced off a giant, green colored mosquito. "We're going to fall back! It's pointless to keep fighting!"
Seifer smirked, brushing off the other SeeD's worries. "I can take them."
Tidus and Zack were fighting another giant Ochu side by side, with Yuna constantly healing her friends from a distant safety... and getting weaker. She fell on her knees, barely feeling the strength of magic that kept her going all those time.
"Yuna!" Rikku cried at her fallen cousin, too perturbed to notice a giant, flying red monster approaching her machina to an attack.
Tidus, holding his sea-blue blade to guard himself from Ochu's deadly tentacles, turned to Yuna. "No! Argh-!"
Then, he noticed Rikku's machina in danger.
"AAAAHH!" the young Al Bhed screamed as she held her arms in front of her for protection. But swiftly, before she could experience a taste of the monster's wrath, she was pushed out from the machina by an injured blonde, and together they fell to the hard floor.
Rikku slowly removed her arms from her head and turned to her savior. And gasped.
The blonde SeeD turned to Rikku, her eyes slightly wincing from pain. "Rikku... are you... okay?" she weakly said before clasping her still injured side, groaning.
Rikku, in panic, immediately sat up and rested Quistis' head on her lap. She then felt her pockets and realized that she had ran out of potions.
Suddenly, from the distance, slowly filling the hole Rikku's machina caused hours ago was a large shadow of an approaching huge Estharian ship. Quistis raised her head slightly for a good view of it, as did Rikku who followed her gaze. Then, two smaller airships came to view, following the bigger one in a fast pace. Inside of them were hundreds of well-trained soldiers from Esthar, waiting for their President's command who was leading the main aircraft.
Laguna let out an encouraging smile, which he knew was not seen by the brave, fighting youths inside the dangerous Tear's Point. Carefully, he pressed a button on the main pilot's board.
"Ready to attack for back-up." He said on a nano-microphone almost invisible to the naked eye, delivering the message to the three airships where rescue depended.
He heard a roar. It wasn't coming form the back of his head, it was real. Only he couldn't see where it was coming from because he couldn't open his eyes. He was too weak to lift them open. He knew it was something from the dangerous realm he was in; at Tear's Point. And this thought alarmed him.
Another angry groan vibrated in the halls of the building, and into his ears. From the back of his lids, he could make out sparks of light coming in different colors. Something was definitely going on and he needed to move. He flinched his arm slightly to test his forebearance to pain, and instantly realized that he was aching all over. He groaned against his throat and willed himself to turn on his back. Slowly, he opened his eyes and turned his head to his side. He squinted. There was barely anything he could see but light. All light coming in streams of different colors, sparking on and off like thousands of flickering bulbs.
Then, a howl of a female voice.
"Terra..." He muttered weakly, remembering how they were in danger before he passed out from Kefka's powerful blow, leaving Terra alone with the insane clown. He had to help her. He had to save her.
Cloud forced his body to stand up, with all the strength he could squeeze out of him. With his one hand, he carried his giant sword, and immediately assisted it with his other. He limped to the light's direction.
He squinted again at the huge amount of light emitting from the two struggling figures that were finally appearing the closer he dared to get. He was searching for Terra, his eyes shifting from one figure to the other. He couldn't make out which one was Terra and which was the enemy.
"Damn!" He hissed. "Terra!" He called anxiously. "Terra, where are you!"
Finally, a thin, unfamiliar figure sprang out form the light and roughly landed on the ground. It looked completely strange; alien even. Though Cloud recognized it's body as female, only with large claws, and equally large feet with long, thick spikes flowing down from its head. Her dangerous eyes were in dark purple, and were focused on the opponent in front of her. She stood up as quickly as she fell. The slightly confused Cloud turned to the other side, surprised to see the weakening Kefka struggling to keep himself standing.
The blond SOLDIER stepped back from the clown and narrowed his eyes. If he is Kefka, then...
The alien figure turned to him, and her eyes widened. "Cloud?"
He recognized that voice. Somehow, he knew it belonged to Terra, but he could never be sure. Cautiously holding his sword up between him and Kefka, he turned her. "Yeah." He replied to her confirmation. "Terra? Is that you?"
She nodded. "Yes Cloud, it's me. I-I know you've never seen me before like this but... this is my Esper self."
Cloud looked at her hesitantly before turning back at the coughing Kefka. "And... you did all this?"
"Yes." Terra answered. "But it wasn't enough. He's too hard to take down."
"Heh heh heh heh..." Kekfa laughed, still weakly bended to his knees. Then, he let out a louder laugh as he straightened up and faced the ceiling. He looked at the enemies, smirking.
"I have thrice the power you have, dear. THRICE." He held out three fingers to emphasize his point. "You can never, ever kill me. EVER. This is not going to end with me dying." Angrily, he stretched out his hand and a ball of red light was beginning to form again in it. "I. WILL. NOT. LET YOU. DEFEAT ME!"
The ball shot out from his hand, faster than a bullet firing out from a gun. But the two youths swiftly jumped out from their place to one side and narrowly avoided the attack.
Kefka began heaving on his knees again, gathering his energy for his next move. He may be nearly invincible, but Terra was able to tire him enough. Cloud shielded himself and Terra weakly with his Buster sword from whatever move Kefka was planning on that he thought he'd better anticipate anytime, or regret it later.
A sharp pain shot to his rib and he groaned, grabbing the spot with his free hand. Terra looked at him worriedly. "Cloud? Are you-"
"I'm fine." He cut her gently. He turned to her. "Terra, what's the most powerful attack you got?"
Terra narrowed her eyes. "I guess I have Meltdown. But it takes time to make."
Cloud nodded. "Okay. Can you manage to attack Kefka with that? I'll distract him. Wait for my signal, and attack him. Okay?"
"Cloud, what are you planni-"
"Okay?" Cloud repeated. "Terra, I need you to trust me on this."
The Esper stared at him thoughtfully. Then finally, she nodded meekly. "Okay."
Cloud stood up, suppressing another groan or making any sound from his throat that might make Terra suspect he was in pain. He inhaled a shallow breath, gentle with his painful rib, and dragged his sword on his side, and in front of Kefka.
Terra could only watch him anxiously.
The clown lifted his head to the blond. "What do you want now?"
Cloud lifted his sword over his shoulder in a fighting stance.
Kefka snorted. "Is that so?"
Cloud did not waste any time and dashed forward Kefka, swinging his sword to the clown, who easily dodged it. Kefka shot two smaller ice spells on Cloud, who was able to avoid both. He then jumped from his spot and was about to strike Kefka when floating rocks began flying to him. Cloud smacked them away from him with his Buster sword and landed on his feet, distant from Kefka. The clown mage glided towards him and shot smaller fire spells like small, powerful bullets, which were easily deflected by Cloud, aided by his mako senses. He then jumped high enough to get himself behind Kefka and attempted to strike him with his sword. But Kefka was faster and he flew away from it. Cloud pursued him.
Unbeknownst to Kefka, he fell to Cloud's plan and was far, far away from Terra. In fact, too far for him to sense the Esper's preparation of her most powerful elemental spell. Gathering in a growing, orange ball of gleaming light were fires coming from her hands. She made a quick glance at Kefka, afraid that her Meltdown might hit Cloud too. But she agreed she would trust him. If only he knew how powerful that spell was.
"NOW!" Cloud yelled, avoiding another shard of ice from Kefka.
"Cloud! Get away!"
Terra shut her eyes and hesitantly let go of her fireball. Cloud, realizing that the spell was as fast as light, quickly jumped out of his spot, leaving the vulnerable Kefka at the mercy of Terra's magic. Then, it exploded, a tall and wide one with an impossibly powerful impact. Cloud felt himself thrown several meters away, hitting a far wall before he finally slumped unto the ground, unconscious.
Nothing of the enemy was left at the aftermath, but the crystal dusts of what were once his body infused with magical powers of an Esper. If that was what Espers became after they die, nobody knew except those who witnessed it. But one thing was sure; it was Kefka's end, and his invincibility was proven horribly wrong.
A tired Terra with no energy left by her Esper self was dragging her own body to the unconscious Cloud's side. Until the end of the battle, despite his weak state, he was still loyally holding his sword. Terra, who was slowly transforming back to her normal, human self, inhaled for air before falling on her knees and finally dropping herself beside Cloud. Her eyes were closed, as were his, and their hands were almost touching, as if they were reaching for each other.
Pain. There was nothing but endless pain.
Hojo made another struggling pull and dragged himself forward, towards the exit and away from Hyne knows what monster. A fit version of himself would go back and capture the monster for his own experiments. But that would be too impossible at his hopeless state, and the creature's frightening power the damned SeeD was able to possess. It, whatever it was, pulled Hojo and Ultemecia, his creation, down with a strong magnetic force into a massive red hole underneath them. And beyond the ground was a void with nothing but burning hot flames, occupied by the beast's lower half which threw brutal, traumatizing punches at the mutated scientist and Ultemecia.
It was worse than hell.
After what seemed like forever, he was thrown out mercilessly back on the ground, still miraculously alive. But Ultemecia was not fortunate. Not a single flinch of life was found on her perished body. Another failure.
Hojo pulled himself again and screaming in combined pain and agony. He could feel his crushed bones inside his body piercing his own flesh like tiny knives and torturing him slowly. He might as well concede and leave himself to die inside Tear's Point, but he was not one to give up. No. Not after all he had done for his lifetime's work, he had to live and move on.
He was almost there.
And then, there was a gleam of light. Finally a stream of light.
He relaxed his broken arm and rested in the ground in relief that he could finally see a light of hope from his excruciating escape, and to the main doors of Tear's Point.
He began crawling again while wailing desperately. He was almost there, he could finally see it. He could almost taste it.
"Long time no see, Hojo."
Hojo froze at the sound of a strangely familiar voice, a voice he had not heard for ages.
Sounds of footsteps were heard, getting louder as they got nearer to him. Then, a pair of black booths stopped in front of his pained eyes.
"Remember me?" Laguna asked, as a way of reminding Hojo of the horrors he contributed during the great war at Esthar.
Clicking sounds of the same Esthar guns that killed the hundreds monstrosities of Tear's Point were pointed at their own creator.
She seemed lifeless in his arms. But no, she couldn't be lifeless. She-
Squall shut his eyes tightly from the hurtful sight of a comatosed Rinoa. He opened his eyes again and gave her a helpless stare. He lifted Rinoa slightly, and rested his forehead against hers before he slid his head down and pressed his cheek on hers. He then whispered her name in a hopeful tone that she would hear it and finally open her eyes.
Behind him was the trinkling sound of chains from Anima's bounds. She was idly waiting for her master's next command.
The master, finally recognizing his aeon's presence, lifted himself slightly from Rinoa. "I have no more orders for you."
Anima growled softly, but still loudly.
Squall turned to look at the giant. "I know. You've helped me alot here." He replied, as if he understood her growl. "But..."
He turned to Rinoa again, and remained like that for another moment. He slide his arm under her legs, and placed his other one on her back. Then, he effortlessly lifted her up as he gracefully stood. He could still remember the first time he carried her like that in his arms; she was angry at him as she wore that violent stare that matched his.
He needed, more than anything, to bring that kind of life back into her.
"Anima..." He said. "I have to bring Rinoa back. I don't know how, but I'll bring her back. And as for you..." He turned his head over his shoulder. "you're free. I'm setting you free."
Anima made another gentle growl that sounded almost like a whimper. It made Squall's lips curve slightly upward.
"You don't want to leave yet?" asked Squall, in a monotone voice. He turned back to Rinoa. "If that's the case then maybe you should know something. From here on, it will all be about her. Everything will be about her; future battles, missions, trials, victory, happiness... life itself. It will all be for her. And I will live them all for her." He paused and let another moment pass as he examined her with lonely eyes. "She's what keeps me going now. And I'll never stop until I can hear her voice again and she can hear mine when I tell her I'm sorry."
Squall shut his eyes again before slowly lifting Rinoa closer to him. Flashes of memories passed by before his covered eyes; the moment he failed to protect her from Ultemecia that brought her to that lifeless state, the time he shut her cold the day before, the day he brought her to Balamb Garden and told her everything, the afternoon she bought the ring he was wearing now and ended up sitting beside him by the fireplace in her house, the awkward time she wiped his cut clean at their usual place inside the library, and the Christmas night when they slid their rings on each other's finger and kissed for the first time.
He felt his eyes fought tears back. "I'm sorry..." He murmured what his heart screamed.
After another moment, he pulled himself away from Rinoa, turned his eyes ahead of him and inhaled deeply.
"So, which is it for you?" He addressed to the aeon before he began walking forward.
Anima let out another roar, as if calling for her master back. Squall halted from his steps and turned around, revealing to his aeon his tired, vulnerable self. Anima stared at him with it's glowing, blue eye, and slowly began to vanish, with a bright white orb steadily forming on her chest as she did. Then, letting out one last growl, Anima finally disappeared before Squall's watchful eyes.
The floating white orb she left began to fly to Squall's direction, until it hovered over Rinoa's chest. Gently and slowly, it touched the unconscious one and its light spread all over her.
Squall watched her in anticipation and hoping that the light did her good.
Then, there was a gasp for air from Rinoa. And finally, she opened her eyes.
Squall's eyes widened and a smile finally stretched across his cheeks. "Rinoa?"
Rinoa blinked a few times and looked at Squall. She held her brown gaze with his blue ones and parted her lips. "Squall?"
Squall's smile went wider and brought her closer to him, almost embracing her. "Rinoa..." he whispered in relief through her hair.
Rinoa slipped her arms around his neck and hugged him closer. "Squall, I'm so glad you're alright!"
He let out a chuckle. Even after recovering from a comatose he wasn't even sure she'd wake up from, she as still overly worried about him.
Rinoa pulled herself from him and cupped his face with her soft hands. She met his smiling eyes and smiled back at him. A drop of suppressed tear of what she took as happiness trickled down his cheek and she gently brushed it away.
She giggled. "It's okay now." said Rinoa comfortingly. She turned to look around her and the mess that was left of Hojo's laboratory. "I think it's over now."
Squall nodded. "Yeah. It's over now."
Rinoa turned her attention back at Squall when she suddenly noticed something past behind him. She narrowed her eyes, and an alarmed Squall noticed them.
"What? What is it?" He asked worriedly as he turned around.
"What is that?"
Hovering a few meters rom the ground was a small red crystal, shaped like a fang. Cautiously and gently, Squall placed Rinoa down on the ground and let her stood there away from the crystal. Warily, he approached it, and immediately felt the aura leaking out of it. It was his aeon, Anima.
"She's waiting for me to take her back." Squall said.
"Who?" asked a curious Rinoa.
Squall turned to Rinoa. "It's my aeon, Anima. I set her free, but she chose to help me by bringing you back." He smiled at her before looking back at the crystal. "Now she's telling me to take her back."
Rinoa nodded, smiling. "Maybe because she had no one else, and maybe she needed you. Maybe you really should take her back."
Squall nodded. "Yeah. Maybe."
He touched the crystal and it began to glow so brightly. Then, like the white orb that brought Rinoa back to life, it flew to his direction and touched his chest before it gently penetrated into him. After taking it's time to build itself inside him, Squall felt the contentment of his aeon, as she finally became a part of him for the rest of his life, forever serving him.
Cloud moved slightly on his spot, and winced when he felt his still, painful rib. He blinked his eyes a few times and finally opened them, before realizing that he was in a brightly lit, medium-sized blue room, and a running engine can be heard in the background. He turned his head to his size, and felt the soft, fluffy cushion beneath him.
"Huh..." he grunted.
Slowly, he lifted himself and sat on his bed. It was a narrow one, with solid metal frame attached to the room's metal wall. And not too far across his bed was another one, where Terra was lying down, sleeping peacefully.
Cloud carefully slid his legs on the edge of his bed and gazed at her softly a bit longer. She looked almost like how he first saw her at Shinra for after many, many years. Her clothes were ripped though, and he had to borrow her with one his own shirts. But now, her clothes dirtied by the previous battle with Kefka were replaced with a cotton, white gown worn around her thin frame. She was cleaned up too, from scratches and blisters, as if no battle had happened before he woke up again.
Which made him wonder.
The blond SOLDIER looked down on himself, and realized that he too was wearing a white shirt, with white pants, matching Terra's gown. He lifted his shirt, and found bandages wrapped around his rib, especially at the spot where it hurt the most. Cloud pulled his shirt down back, stood up and approached Terra silently. And when he finally reached her, he brushed her curly, emerald hair away from her face.
"Terra..." He murmured softly. "Someone helped us."
"Damn right someone did." A deep voice said.
Cloud turned to him with narrowed eyes. Then, when he finally recognized his visitor, he smiled.
"Squall." He acknowledged.
The brunette nodded at him. He was also wearing the same white clothes Cloud was wearing. Only that, he didn't look much injured as he was. He looked scratchless, except the scar between his eyes that Cloud gave him during the years of their heated rivalry. The blond one smirked, and Squall gave him a confused look.
But before he could ask anything, Cloud spoke. "We're in Ragnarok now, are we?"
Squall shook his head. "We're in an Esthar ship that belongs to the President."
"You mean your father."
Squall scoffed and turned his head away. "Whatever." He looked back at Cloud. "He flew here for back-up with more Esthar soldiers. And that's how he found us."
Cloud smirked and looked around the blue room. "Honestly, it's a pretty neat ship."
Squall slipped his hands inside his pockets and sluggishly walked beside Cloud as he examined the room as well. "Odine designed this whole airship."
Cloud nodded impressively. "Nice."
Then, after giving the room one last look, he turned his eyes back at Terra. She was still deep in her slumber, despite the noise he and Squall were making.
Squall followed and took a look at the sleeping Esper as well. "She'll be alright. She was checked-up and all by the medical team, and found nothing wrong with her. She's just sleeping." He assured the blond.
Cloud closed his eyes momentarily before opening them again and smiled. "I know."
Squall placed his hand encouragingly at Cloud and began walking away from him. Before he reached the door, Cloud called to him.
The brunette stopped from his tracks and turned to the restless Cloud. It was evident in his timid eyes and uneasy motions of his hands that he wanted to say something, but he couldn't get himself to. Cloud was almost fidgeting on his spot as he looked at Squall, forcing words to free themselves from his mouth, but Squall knew better. He already knew what Cloud wanted to say.
He tipped his head from his former rival meaningfully. "You're welcome." He said.
Cloud nodded stiffly before waving his hand to Squall, as if showing him that he exactly got what he meant. "Yeah."
Squall waved his own hand dismissively before stepping outside the door leaving Cloud and his girlfriend/childhood best friend/whatever in peace, into the halls of the giant airship, and headed to his own room.
Rinoa's head snapped up from the small round window by her bed to the sound of the sliding door. There entered her roommate in white clothes that matched her own gown. She smiled dearly at him.
"Hey." he greeted.
Rinoa giggled. "Hey." she replied.
Squall smiled back at her and walked towards her bed. Without making Rinoa scoot, he found his spot with ease and sat behind her, extending his legs and trapping her between them. Then, as Rinoa watched him in confusion, he slid his arms around her waist and held her there. Rinoa blushed when he lightly buried his chin on her neck.
"Squall, what are you doing?" Rinoa whispered nervously.
But Squall didn't answer. Slowly, he closed his eyes before he inhaled deeply and enjoyed the scent of Rinoa by his side. He had never been this close to her, and he never really had appreciated the experience of knowing that someone was there for him until he had Rinoa. He embraced her more tightly and shuffled himself against her, taking in the feeling of her warmth and safety in his arms that were his comfort.
Rinoa smiled too and held his arms gently as she leaned closer back to him. She closed her eyes as well and rested on Squall's lean chest, wishing that their peaceful moment would last longer than forever. And if there was such a thing, it would be nothing but wonderful.
"I thought I completely lost you." Squall murmured painfully to her ears, brushing his face against her soft, ebony hair.
Rinoa rubbed his arm comfortingly. "But I'm here now, right? And we did it. We all made it out safely."
Squall nodded slightly. He opened his eyes and gazed at his arm in Rinoa's hand. "Rinoa, I'm sorry."
Rinoa giggled melodically. "For what?"
"For everything." Squall's soothing voice said apologetically. "And yesterday, on my car. I was jus-"
But before he could finish, Rinoa turned around and held his cheek in her free hand. She met his steel blue eyes and that was enough to make him pause. She smiled at him, that same one he would always kill to see. "There's nothing to be sorry about, okay?" Rinoa rubbed his cheek with her smooth, soft palm. "I had my faults too, I should have spent more time with you. But in the end, you forgave me for it too, right?"
Squall's lips began to curve upwards.
"So don't say sorry anymore. To me, every mistake you make is still a part of you. And that's why..." She flicked his nose with her fingers ever so gently that it only slightly tickled him. "that's why I love you."
Squall's smile grew wider and rested his forehead against hers and held the moment there for another while.
"I can't believe I actually met you." said Squall.
Rinoa giggled. "Is this the part when you'll kiss me?"
"Well, I would've. But you already made it awkward."
Rinoa pouted. "Oh. Bummer."
Squall didn't waste any more moment and leaned closer to meet her soft lips with his dryer ones. It didn't catch her off guard, and eagerly responded to his gentle, stolen kiss. As soon as she held out her other hand to his other cheek, he pulled away and examined her warmly with his half-lidded eyes. She did too, while smiling at him lovingly, letting him know that she was with him and always will. Then, slowly and carefully this time, he pulled her closer again and closed the gap with a deeper kiss, to which she was not prepared for, but accepted wholeheartedly.
And they never had to say sorry again.
There was nothing too special about the aftermath of Hojo's downfall, the death of Kefka, and the discovery of what used to be monster-infested Tear's Point. Well, except that Sections A and B were finally getting along, Rufus Shinra was slowly losing his credibility as the company's President, and the two former rivals' true identities were ultimately revealed to the whole student body of Deling High. Though just the more personal side of their prince-like identities, as they chose to keep the other half of their lives working as mercernaries a secret. And the same went with all the other friends who joined them in the big fight.
Yuna agreed to teach Squall how to control his aeon, and how Anima would not be only useful with battles, but also with other simple day-to-day things as an informat and seeing the future by contacting other spirits and aeons.
"You can talk to people who are already dead too." She enthusiastically added. Squall only shuddered.
"Uh, no thank you?"
And he hoped he would never have to do that part.
Rikku, Paine and Tidus on the other hand were the ones who helped the two sections to make ammends easier, acting like balancing agents to get the one to talk to the other. Paine tried her best as Tidus and Rikku did excellent jobs on their parts.
Quistis and Seifer were finally together after he made it to SeeD, which he, of course, only did for Quistis' sake. The so-called courtship rather went quite oddly, when it happened that night during the Seifer's SeeD graduation party. Quistis angrily stormed out of the ballroom hall after another uneasy argument with newly appointed SeeD. Seifer quickly ran after her, but she was too fast for him to catch up.
"Thank you so much for ruining the night!" She shouted at him. "I don't even know why you still invited me he-"
"SHUT UP!" He snapped at her after he finally stopped on his tracks. "Just shut up and tell me you love me!"
Though the endless arguing and fighting were still there, it was obvious that they were meant for each other, especially when Seifer always bought her favorite flowers and ginger muffins to soften her heart.
Irvine and Selphie were same as always. Though they spent alot of time lately at Rikku's while the three perky girls, Selphie, Rikku and Yuffie, play with Al Bhed machinas after school. Irvine was behind Selphie, never leaving her, as always.
Zell, who once loathed section B's Reno and Rude, became the partner's third best friend. They often called themselves with the lamest names like "The Awesomest Gang", or "The Baby Cryers", or "RaZoR"... but at the end of the day, their group was as solid as gold, and their friendship was as clear as crystal.
Tifa, who realized that she had alot of similarities with Quistis, became the blonde's best friend. While Quistis was the smartest of them all (even smarter than Squall will ever be), Tifa could perfectly understand things with her heart. As Quistis provided her with logical reasons, Tifa provided her with emotional answers, especially now that she needed them with Seifer. Tifa became her confidante, while Quistis became the other girl's common sense.
Zack Fair, the quirky SOLDIER, stayed with his best buddy at Shinra as they tried to get it back on its feet. The company was put into question after the discovery of Hojo and his horrible experiments, as well as Shinra's mission to rescue him and keep him safely under their watchful security. But Cloud, to Terra's insistence, decided to stay and help his father regain the company's good reputation. And with the support of the Estharian government, the one that captured the same scientist who made Shinra so infamous, he was doing quite well with it. Zack and Cloud became Shinra's representatives, escorted by their three mentors, as they defend the company in courts, media, press conferences and the like. And as a sign of gratitude, Cloud searched for a way for Zack's girlfriend Aerith to stay with them in the city and fixed her long-awaited scholarship (which Cloud was able to make Rufus Shinra grant for her) to join them at Deling High.
Terra, the Esper that started it all, was planning on leaving.
"But, where will you go?" Cloud asked hesitantly. Though a part of him didn't want to know the answer, a stronger part of him needed to know.
"I don't know." Terra said. "I'm tired of having myself protected, when I am the dangerous one. I have to leave because I want to protect people from myself." She said meaningfully.
"But... Terra, I..." Cloud paused and frustratingly searched for hopeful words. "Don't leave me. Please. Not again."
Terra sighed, as she turned to Cloud with sympathetic eyes. "I'm sorry, Cloud. I'm just... I'm worried. For everyone. For you. What if there's another Kefka out there who wanted my powers? Or maybe another Hojo? They'll come after me, and they'll know I'm here." Terra sighed again, deeply. "I just... I just think I'm the trouble here."
"But you're not, Terra." Cloud replied.
"You're only saying that."
Cloud shook his head. "If you leave right now, I'll search for you again. But this time, I'm not giving up until I find you. And in the end, I'll just take you back here, right in this same place." He walked closer to her. "So it will really do me a great favor if you stay here... by me... right where I know you're safe."
Terra smiled helplessly as she turned to the door and back to him. "But in the end, Cloud, you won't be safe with me."
"I'm trained to fight, Terra. All my life." He replied. "And I've gone through all of it for you, and only you." He held out his hand and reached for Terra's smaller one. "So, whatever you're so worried right now, whatever is inside you that's making you leave, I'll fight it with you, if that's what it takes to make you stay. We'll fight it together, and I swear to you, no one will get hurt. Besides, it's a long mile better than thinking you're in danger somewhere, even if you're not."
Those words, hearing them straight from his lips, were enough to convince her to stay, safely under Cloud's care.
The alley was empty, with only the rustling sound of papers filling the already drowning air. The moon was already rising, replacing the sun with its borrowed dimmed light.
The empty alley was perfectly reserved for them. They picked the perfect place and the perfect time for the perfect enemy with with a different, but unlikely reason; reasoning with them.
Cloud and Squall had their backs close to each other as they face three motorbikers of around their age, all of them sharing a distinctive silver hair color that reflected under the moonlight. They were sneering at the two, both of whom they trapped at the middle of the alley, surrounded by their large, black motorcycles.
"Yo Yazoo," The one with a short, spiky hair called, referring to the one with a long, straight hair. "can I take the scar-faced one? He's kinda getting into my nerves."
"Do what you will, Loz." Replied Yazoo. "Just don't go crying in the end"
"You can have the shorter one, then." Said the third one with shoulder-length hair.
"You're one to talk." Cloud calmly said.
The short one growled.
"I thought they were with you." Squall, who was holding his gunblade in his right hand, told Cloud.
"Would look like it at first. They all look like Sephiroth." Cloud replied, gesturing his heavy Buster sword with one hand at the trio.
"Hey! Don't point that thing on me!" cried Loz.
Squall looked at him. He thought well of Cloud for once, for not having that particular baby in his circle or acquaintances. But he chose to say nothing. Instead, he swung his weapon over his shoulder and rested it there, preparing himself for something obvious.
"Ready?" He asked Cloud.
And he nodded.
Then, like a lightning in the middle of a stormy night, they dashed towards the gang, and a new brawl began.