Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VII characters and names are the property of Square Enix. This story is written purely for entertainment and not profit.
Come Death and Destruction,Dearest I Remain
``They that have pow`r to hurt and will do none``
'...The summer`s flow`r is to the summer sweet,
Though to itself it only live and die,
But if that flow`r with base infection meet,
The basest weed outbraves his dignity
For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds,
Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.
The chilling wind swept by without care or thought for the people who hugged themselves' tighter at its passing, shivering against its sharp and subtle sting. It blew around the street lamps and corners of the metropolis, blowing about stray litter of paper, wrappers and cans mixed in with more natural elements; leaves decayed in the autumn frost, floating to the asphalt in spiralling motions. A small pile of the leaves took flight, swirling gently and then sharply as the wind "waxed and waned", blowing through the city of Nibelheim until they reached a dilapidated building in an "active" district.
The building was a school, worse for wear but still faring better than most in the area; it didn't really resemble a school anyway, with faded, crumbling roan brick walls and few windows, the present ones boarded up or covered by rusting metal bars. It had a large front entrance with heavy green double doors, above it the words "L. Jenova Crescent Public High School". It was tall and large to say the least, three storeys, with an overgrown expanse of grass for grounds, riddled with small hills and broad weeping willow trees. The back opened to a cracked parking lot with few cars, empty at this time, and numerous steps led up to the four door back entrance. It was to these steps that the small flurry of leaves came to rest, fluttering to a stop upon the open page of a lengthy paperback, spread wide in the lap of a student.
Cloud blinked in surprise as the curled brown plants drifted before his eyes, and he shook the book to clear it of the mess, restarting their journey. He rubbed his tired azure eyes and shut the book, sighing. Once again, he presumed as he glanced at the darkening sky, he had read far too long and lost track of time—school had been let out ages ago. Of course, only he, Cloud Strife, could be the one to remain of his own free will at his pathetic excuse for a school on a Friday for the purpose of reading. He shook his head in distaste, cramming the book into his worn faux leather sea-bag and slinging it over a narrow shoulder before descending the many steps, preparing for the journey home.
He would have to catch the tram instead of the bus—the next one wouldn't come till dark at this hour, and Cloud didn't want to be outside when it became dark. No, that was when all the "colourful characters" of his neighbourhood would begin emerging, and a meeting with them for someone like him would never end well. Cloud wanted to be safe at home by the time they came out, safe in his small apartment with his perverted but secretly worrying roommate Reno Sinclair, finishing off the night's homework before turning in. It was his regular routine, and although the tedious nature did disturb Cloud sometimes, he knew it would be necessary until he got his own job and earned enough to rent an apartment or something of the sort in a better area.
"Barrenville Nibelheim" was one of the nastiest districts in the city, its nickname derived from the often barren, empty streets. Business was never conducted outside unless it was hostage or package exchange, or you were a newbie dealer working behind the backs of your former gang. Cloud considered himself lucky-most of the student population in his school were in gangs—even Reno was in a gang; the "Turks", one of the dirtiest operating yet inwardly "friendly" gangs around. Being involved with the mob helped kids pick up more than a few bucks, which were desperately needed. The only reason why Cloud didn't have to worry about income problems was his father, who still sent child-support checks in his name even after the death of Cloud's mother.
Cloud's mother, a beautiful, feminine woman with curly chocolate hair and sparkling green eyes, had died two years before of breast-cancer, when Cloud was just fourteen. Two years before that she had divorced from Cloud's father, Heath Verdot, after he had had an affair with one of his co-workers—one of his male co-workers, who had given Verdot the boost up in the ranks of the company during their relationship enough for him to ditch his wife and child with no worries except the child-support, which he paid constantly and willingly. In his gloating, Verdot had decided that all the checks he sent would be in the boy's name so that Cloud's mother would not be able to use it without Cloud's approval. Of course, his mom was a lovely, honest woman who would never do such a thing to her only son, but Verdot had wanted to insult her in every way he could, for reasons unknown, although Cloud suspected it was to hide his feelings of guilt and unhappiness for throwing away his family for fortune. The woman had never done anything hurtful to Verdot, and had never been with anyone but him either. Verdot just tried to make her feel low about herself to better himself. That plan never worked.
Cloud had openly given all the money of his checks to his mother after cashing them, but they hadn't been enough to pay for treatment. The sickness spread. Eventually, she quit her job at a daycare, and then she quit any usual activity. Cloud had tried desperately to carry on with a regular life through out it all, constantly checking in with his mother, hoping for a miracle against all odds. One day when he returned from school, eager to show his mother the small medal he had gotten for his art, Cloud found his mother lying still in bed, pulse silent, not stirring to his desperate calls. His mother had died in her sleep—of course, that was what Cloud assumed. He never found out for sure from any doctors or anyone. He was grown then, and even if fourteen years wasn't an adult, he was still a child raised in a hard life. He had lived in the same tiny home from the moment he was born, and Cloud was well accustomed to his surname. He could have been childish, hoping that she was just sleeping and that she would be fine if he just called an ambulance and had her brought to the hospital. In fact, that was actually what he had tried to do, at first.
"Hello? This is Nibelheim South General Hospital. I'm Fatima, how may I help you?"
Cloud listened to the sound of the other woman on the phone, hearing her rhythmic breathing through the scratchy line as he stared at the young woman—his mother—sprawled limply across the mattress in their bedroom. Over her frail body was a navy blue ragged blanket, one with his mother's face and his own sewn in, surrounded by several flowers of various sizes. Cloud's mom had been an adept seamstress. She still clutched a small chocobo teddy to her chest, a teddy that had been her first gift to him, his own name stitched onto the scarf around its neck, determining its name. He continued to stare even as the operator became confused and curious, hearing his breathing. Irregular breathing. Cloud was beginning to hyperventilate.
"Hello? Hello, are you okay? Do you need an ambulance? Do you need help? Hel—"
Cloud opened his mouth...
...And screamed. He screamed a raw, terrible sound of anguish and destroyed wishes, a sound of a person drowning in misery, their life boat now sunk in a sea of their terrors as it collapsed beneath lost will. He screamed, clutching the phone for dear life as he fell to his knees then scrambled back, away, out of the room and into the corner of the dirty, small kitchenette, refusing to accept the scene before him. He could hear the woman shouting at him through the device, asking him to stop and explain, but he didn't care. He just wanted somebody to know, to hear the sound of his voice, to realize the depth of his loss, even if they didn't really care and would forget about it probably during their next coffee break. Cloud just wanted somebody to be there until he stopped, even if he couldn't see them. Even if her concern was only temporary because it was so frightening to listen to a shriek this emotional, it didn't matter. Cloud just wanted somebody to care...
...Even if it was just for a moment.
When Cloud had finished he had hung up, shed a few tears, then packed his meagre belongings and dragged his mother's body to the backyard. He worked well into the night, digging with his mother's spade and shovel, upturning the small garden which had died without her touch. He had wrapped her body with the blanket and placed 'Cloud' in her grasp before rolling her into the semi-deep hole and covering her body with the dry mulch. Then he wandered back inside, taking anything useful and placing it in his knapsack or his mothers' laundry bag before cleaning himself off and laying down to sleep. No one ever came to check whether or not his call had been something serious or otherwise. It had come from Barrenville. Death was too common there for investigation, and cries of the innocent were natural elements.
Cloud had left at the end of the month's rent, sending a false, forged letter to the landlord, moving into a cheaper shared apartment, renting from a woman who didn't mind young teens living on their own. Things were handled differently in Barrenville. The law did nothing for the people, so they didn't bother with the law; if you didn't like something, or wanted something done, you took care of it with your own two hands. Any contracts were held in "honour" upon your life. You minded your own business then most would mind theirs, except for the ones who wanted to cause trouble. You learned to steer clear of them though.
Cloud had never even thought of living with Verdot, opting to continue picking up his checks from the bank and living on his own than be with the man. School was easy to handle—no one ever was bothered to call his mom about school events or fundraisers, and his information was easily remedied with a paid phone call from "mom". Cloud never gave them a reason to call home, not like they would do anything even if he was found to be living alone. It was the norm, judging by the amount of teenage neighbours he had. The school reused his old information even when he entered high school, so there was no problem there either. Plus, Heath paid all school fees.
It was one of the better lifestyles of a Crescent student. Cloud just needed to find a part-time job and he could start saving for his escape from the slums. If only there weren't so few.
He found himself walking past the closed down recreational centre and he increased his guard. He was no fool. The place crawled with the "type" he tried to avoid. Cloud could see his reflection in the mirror, knew the size of his slim body. His form was svelte, his face slender and pale, pretty yet male, a true androgynous appearance. His muscles were slight and despite having some skill in self-defence, Cloud knew he would be hard pressed to beat a single built man let alone four or five, the size of their usual packs. He turned into an alley, a short cut he usually took, safer than the regular roads.
Cloud heard loud, jeering laughter ahead and came to a stand still. He narrowed his eyes and clutched his bag tighter, hearing the voices growing louder and increasing in quantity. It was a hefty group, at least a dozen, of older men judging by their deep voices. Cloud looked frantically for someplace to hide. He couldn't be seen, couldn't give them the chance to even think about playing with him. He saw a smaller side alley up ahead to his left and dashed quietly into it, pressing his body further in and against the wall as the raucous men strolled past. His eyes widened as he saw what they carried. Guns, obviously, but also knives, pry-bars, and thick baseball bats. Most of the items dripped with blood, and the same went for their clothing.
"Well, we won't be seeing that asses' face gain for a time, eh Faye?" One man called, laughing with the others, "Fucking prick wouldn't give up! Did you see how many times I had to beat him with this? This thing's fucking iron! I mean, shittin' Hell, I hit him across his damn head!"
"I got him with my knife!"
"Fuck, he got me with his! Right in my fucking shoulder!"
"Bastard shot at me so many fucking times—would've hit if his arm hadn't been knocked so many fuckin' times too!"
Their voices swelled for a time as they continued on about their latest fight before they finally exited the alleyway. Cloud hesitated, wanting to make sure it was truly clear before he emerged. A few minutes later he crept into the open, checking around before continuing. He sighed. Another street brawl. Or mugging, rather. He wondered who it would be this time-hopefully no one he knew. Who would be stupid enough to challenge a gang of such size anyway? Not even Reno was that idiotic, and he was a cocky bastard for sure. Perhaps it hadn't been a challenge? More like a sneak attack...
Cloud froze as he heard a moan to his left. He turned, knees bent, hands fisted in case of an attack. There was a large, filthy dumpster, covered with black coated grime, but empty for the most part. And beside it was a blood covered, beaten individual with a mane of black hair that was beautiful even as it was tainted by blood and sweat, and pale skin covered in a tattered suit. Lastly was the blood red, fading eyes that squinted against the pain as the person struggled to hold on. Cloud could only stare for a moment as he faced him, stunned. Then he uttered the name, incredulous and horrified.
Author's Note: Yay, prologue is finished! I hate writing these sometimes-they're just so boring and I find it hard to be creative. My prologues for any writing are used to usually just state the situations of the characters and usually introduce the main ones, and just unload a heap of information onto the reader. I didn't even get everything done! So, as a summary—Cloud lives all alone with Reno as his roommate, and he's not in a gang and gets money from his father, Verdot, and he has just found Vincent beaten up beside a dumpster on his way home. Still haven't included all the characters or any real plot yet and ... I have a question? If I were to make this into a three way, who would be the third? Vincent, Cloud and...Who? Please review and put the answer in as a little footnote, with a short explanation as to why; the following characters are off limits, though; Zack, Verdot (just in case any of you get any ideas), Reno, Genesis, Yuffie and Aerith (yes, there can be girls in a threesome). It's not because I don't like the characters, but because of the roles they play. I just might add the third into this fic, as part of the story, or if you actually want to read something else of my writing style I'll make a few drabbles or one shots.