Prompt: A dream or reality? In under 7500 words write a scenario in which a character cannot tell if what they are experiencing is real or not. This can either be a good thing or a bad thing.

Disclaimer: I do not own, nor do I even think I own, FF-7 and its compilations, or any characters within them, in any way, shape, or form. I'm just…borrowing them for awhile…:P Yeah… I like the sound of that~


Endlessly soaring through the vast void that his subconscious had taken flight, Cloud was in the peaceful clutches of a deep sleep that had overtaken him. While the ability to think seemed lost to him, Cloud was pretty sure nothing could break the spell he was under, and he had a feeling he didn't care either way. The stress had melted away, his soul cleansed by the presence he felt swim through his very being. A dreamless sleep he had no intention of ever coming back from.

The fates had other plans it seemed, though. A sound so faint, like the soft fall of a single raindrop in a pool of water, that it couldn't possibly wake even the dead, cut through Cloud's subconscious like a hot knife to butter. His eyes snapping open, Cloud was met with silence. Getting accustomed to the light shining through the window, he laid there listening, thinking.

'Strange…' Cloud thought after awhile, sitting up from the bed and removing the covers, 'I don't…remember falling asleep here.' Of course, he had a hard time remembering much of anything. Looking around the room, the silence still bearing down like a lead weight, Cloud stood up and stretched. When his eyes locked in on the mirror across the room, the glow of mako stared right back. Only noticing that he had no shirt on, he had no time to dwell on the memories that crept back in his thoughts, before a noise sounded downstairs.

Standing still, Cloud focused his enhanced hearing towards the source of the noise, waiting to see if it would come again or if he was just hearing things. When the noise came back, but louder this time, Cloud reached for the sword near the night stand and headed out the door into the hallway. After having exhausted all the options of who or what might be downstairs, Cloud came to the conclusion that there was someone there that shouldn't be. It was too early, Tifa wouldn't have opened the bar yet, and Denzel and Marlene would still be in bed.

Narrowing his eyes, he slowly and silently walked down the hallway and stairs. As the sounds grew more loudly and pronounced, Cloud was able to tell someone was in the kitchen area, rummaging through the fridge. Whoever it was, was about to have a rude awaking.

Entering the kitchen, Cloud looked to see a man bent inside the open fridge, humming a strangely familiar hymn that he couldn't quite place as to the why. The man, unknowing of the danger behind him, continued his reckless search for food as Cloud studied him. There was something off about the man that seemed oblivious to the world around him, shaking to a tune that only he seemed to hear, as he placed food item after food item on the counter next to him; something hauntingly familiar.

Walking slowly towards him, sword at the ready, Cloud demanded softly, "what are you doing here?"

The man, who had stuck himself in the fridge again, jumped, cursing as his head hit the top. Rubbing his head, the man turned around to see who was behind him, and seeing who it was, smiled broadly. "Oh hey Cloud," the man said cheerfully, "just got back. I would have called earlier, but..." the man tried to finish, but shot his hands up in the air as Cloud drew the sword to his throat. "Whoa, easy there babe."

Cloud's eyes were wide as they searched the man's face that resembled that of Zack Fair. He couldn't believe what he was seeing, not even as it stood in front of his face. Who he had often believed was the light to his darkness; Zack Fair should not have been standing here. Memories of those years flooded through Cloud's mind like a damn bursting open. He wouldn't believe it, it was impossible.

"You know…" the man said, fighting back a grin, "it's kind of hard to take you seriously with your shirt off. It's giving me ideas." He raised his eyebrows suggestively.

Giving the man no warning, Cloud glared at him as he swung the sword. Has he not been through enough already? Must Gaia torment him more with this wanna be has-been? Cloud was not impressed when he missed and instead tore through wood, as the man jumped out of the way. "Whoa," the man cried, "now wait just sec, Cloud!" The man looked confused, as if he had no idea what was going on, and why Cloud was attacking him. This only made Cloud even angrier, as he continued to strike out, missing every time as the man dodged every one of them.

For awhile, Cloud and the man went all over the place, Cloud slicing, the man dodging. That all stopped short when Cloud slipped on something, sword flying out of his hand. Not about to hand in the towel, Cloud started using his fists and feet, forcing the man to go into the offensive. That was a bad move on his part, for the man quickly held him into submission. "What the hell Cloud," the man yelled, "what's gotten into you!" Cloud only answered by struggling to free his hands so he could strike. This wasn't Zack, it couldn't be. At least that's what he tried to keep telling himself; even as he knew only one infused with Mako could hold the strength that he held. "Calm down," the man whispered soothingly, "it's alright."

Cloud, breathing heavily from both the exertion from the fight and the emotions that swam through his head, slowly stopped struggling as they stayed like that for awhile. He sat there, as the man tried to clam him down, wondering how. How was this was even possible. It felt too much like a dream, and yet here it was. Right here, trying to calm him down, from what probably looked like a mental breakdown on his part. "Zack," Cloud asked softly.

"Yeah. That's me," Zack whispered, kissing the back of his head, "you…you gonna be alright?" Still shocked at what was happening, Cloud could hear the hidden message clearly. 'You arn't going to try and kill me if I let you go will you?' Nodding in affirmation, Cloud felt Zack pick him up off the floor, and lead him to the table to sit him down. Leaving him alone to go back into the kitchen, Zack went about getting things to drink and eat, watching him with the corner f his eye. Cloud wasn't seeing it though, to content at staring at the patterns on the table, trying to sort out what was going on.

A few minutes later, Zack came back, setting food and morning coffee on the table in front of them. Sitting across from Cloud, Zack looked down at his plate, before looking at back at him, "you going to tell me what that was all about?"

Snapping out of his thoughts, Cloud looked back at Zack, face expressionless as he studied his face. "You're supposed to be dead," Cloud said flatly. The pained look that ghosted over Zack's eyes, pulled at Cloud's heart strings, causing him to look away in shame.

"Do you…" Zack managed to whisper, "do you want me dead?" The pain that came out of those words, only matched the look Cloud had seen in his eyes.

"Of course I don't," Cloud whispered, unable to look up at the man.

"Then," Zack said, "what's wrong? Was it a nightmare? You know you can tell me anything."

Looking up slowly, Cloud saw only concern in Zack's eyes now, the pained look all but gone. It did little to sate his worries, though. He didn't have the answer to his question, memories of what happened recently all but a vague pile of fog that he couldn't waft through. "Maybe..." he whispered finally. It's not like it wasn't to far from the truth, as the memory of Zack's death was always fresh in his mind after he had remembered who he was, was enough to give him nightmares since. The walls in the room suddenly felt like they were caving in on him and it was becoming harder to breath. Getting up, Cloud headed for the door. "I...I need some air."

He almost made it to the door, when he heard coughing from behind him. Risking a look back, he saw to his amazement, a sly grin on Zack's face. When Cloud looked questionably back at him, Zack only tugged on his shirt, "might be a good idea to put something on. Wouldn't want the ladies swooning over ya." Suddenly remembering he had no shirt on, he went up stairs without a word, Zack's laughter following him.

Once outside, Cloud was suddenly bombarded with a sense of foreboding and unease. Edge was unlike anything he had ever seen. People rushed to and fro, foliage growing off the buildings, while the bustle and tussle of the city vibrated with life. Not really knowing where his feet were taking him, Cloud walked on in simple amazement. He had never seen anyone in Edge genuinely smile, but several people were showing him otherwise. It was like he had stepped into a whole different world. One in which he started to feel strangely out of place of.

"Cloud," someone shouted through the noise of the city. Turning his attention towards where it came, he found himself looking at another familiar face. Tifa Lockhart was waving for him to follow her, a strange sort of look on her face. Deciding he had no better place to go, he obliged her, running up to her as she stared off towards wherever it is she had plans on going. In silence they walked toward some goal, soon learning it was the Seventh Heaven.

Walking in, Cloud looked around, noticing only a few people sitting in the stalls here and there. One table in particular, seemed to be the life of the party, as what looked like Reno and Yuffie seemed to be at it in a game of poker, a few people egging them on. Tifa lead him to the bar, walking behind it, "you look like you could use a drink." He couldn't disagree with her, this morning had been somewhat worthy of such a thing.

As he sat down, he wondered how he would ask what he wanted to ask without sounding insane, when he heard the strange hymn he had head from before. Looking over the counter, he noticed that the hymn came from Tifa, as she fixed him his usual. About to ask her about it, she set the drink in front of him, giving him a somber look. "Zack told me what happened this morning Cloud," Tifa said, "do you…want to talk about it?"

Looking off towards the side, Cloud found himself at a loss. If Tifa knew that Zack was alive and well, then maybe he was going insane. Again he found himself unable to say much of anything, things still not making sense. Zack. The city. Heck, even that strange hymn he kept hearing. Something didn't feel right, and try as he may, he couldn't figure out what. Turning back towards her, Cloud was about to answer her, when a loud shout rang across the room.

"You little shit," Reno yelled, "that's grounds for cheating!"

"Oh suck it up grandma," Yuffie said smugly, smacking the table, other hand waving for him to hand her something "and start paying up. Unless of course you want to..." She finished mysteriously with a smirk, but Reno caught the drift, if his suddenly pale and furious face was anything to go by.

"Fine," he stated curtly, digging in his pockets for gil, "damn brat…wasting my time."

"Yeah, and a good portion of your paycheck too," Yuffie said without a care in the world, as she counted the money, "cry me a river Ponytail."

Laughing a little at the scene, 'at least some things made sense', Cloud couldn't help feel Tifa's gaze on him, wanting to talk to him. Looking towards her, she said, "what happened today Cloud. Zack's worried about you. Heck, after hearing him talk about it, I'm even worried. Why did you say that?"

Shame suddenly filtered through him at those words, but what did she expect him to do? He had no idea what was reality and what was fiction anymore, and the more he tried to understand, the less he found himself wanting to just not care. Go with the flow. Yet…this nagging sensation in the back of his skull made him keep questioning. He had done that all morning into the afternoon, as he walked around, not really going anywhere. Searching for an answer. "I… I don't really know, Tifa" Cloud whispered, "everything feels so surreal, as if I just walked into a dream, and Zack…well…" he finished lamely.

"You attacked him, thinking he was dead…this is cause for some concern Cloud," Tifa said to him slowly, "is there something going on between you two I should know about? You two didn't have an argument did you?"

"Huh…" Cloud said confusedly, "no…it's just…" he finished lamely again. He couldn't bring himself to mention what he knew. The memories that contradicted everything he had seen so far today. Cloud had no intention of worrying anyone any further, though, and he was sure that bringing them up would only cause more problems then he needed. Looking towards her, he managed a small smile, "it's nothing Tifa. It was just a nightmare. That's all."

As if on cue, Reno and Yuffie sat down on each side of him, and ordered their drinks. Completely void of the quarrel that they showed before, they laughed and started talking about everything and anything. Cloud was content to sit there and listen, and glad that they both left him alone. There was a team of talkers he had no want to engage with. He could go back and talk to Zack later, but now he was going relax and let everything seep in. Still, as Cloud listened to Reno, Yuffie, and even Tifa, when she was brought into their conversation, he couldn't help but feel something was missing from it entirely.

As the afternoon dragged on to late in the evening, several people he knew came and went. Vincent and Red came in like a quite storm, there but not there, yet you still knew they were around. Neither said much or asked him anything, which brought a little bit of ease to Cloud. Rude, Tseng, and Elena came, but only for awhile, as they soon left with Reno in toe. Reeve and with Cait Sith, entertained Marlene and Denzel with the robot's funny antic's, and Cid swore up a storm as he kicked out several idiots drunk off their butts, the bars very own bouncer. Even Barret, who hardly was seen most of the time because of his job, came around, asking him if everything was okay, that he had seen Zack while passing. Telling him he was, the older man had dropped it, content with the answer as he ordered his drink.

More and more as the day dragged on, helping Tifa run the bar, Cloud found himself caring less about the confusion he felt about everything that was happening. Everything started to make more sense as everyone around him talked, talked about things he had no recollection of before they said it, but as soon as it uttered out of their lips, it was like a piece of the puzzle was put back into place. Ready to leave as night started creeping into Edge, Cloud was willing to go and find Zack, and talk to him. There was still something he couldn't get over, the feeling that something was missing. He was sure the answer would present itself there.

Walking into the twilight Edge, Cloud was surprised to find people, honest people, still up and about. Kids were running everywhere, light sticks in their hands, laughing. People setting up stalls and fireworks, the kinds he'd see at festivals and the like. It was like some kind of celebration was about to take place, and Cloud hadn't the foggiest what that could be. Not that he really cared at the moment. Finding Zack was more important.

Even though he knew he wasn't to blame, Cloud still felt the need to apologize to him.

As night finally fell, Cloud had already searched the entire city for him, having not found him at the house. Zack was nowhere to be seen. Finding himself in one of the parks, Cloud walked to one of the benches, sitting down in defeat. He was, even as he searched for him, still trying to get over the fact that Zack was here. That he was alive and well. Cloud couldn't process it soon enough.

The night air sent chills down his spine, but the sudden shower of fireworks in the night sky calmed him down considerably. Taking a few moments to gaze up at the brilliant display, he thought on what he would say to Zack when he saw him again. Should he tell him everything? Or should he just accept that maybe, just maybe, he didn't need to say anything about them at all? He only half wondered if it would make a difference either way. 'I guess…' Cloud thought to himself as he got up to leave, 'I guess it would be best to wait for him at the house.'

About to turn and head back home, Cloud saw a figure sitting on the nearby playground slide, looking at the fireworks. It was to hard to see who it was, but as light flashed through the sky, Zack's face lit up, somberly gazing into the night sky. Taking a deep breath in and letting it out slowly, Cloud walked up to the slide, and climbed up to where Zack sat. Sitting next to him, Cloud gazed up at the night sky for awhile, watching the lights with him; letting the moment sink in.

"Cloud," Zack whispered, still looking towards the night sky, "I know…our lives haven't always been filled with the greatest ray of sunshine, what, with SOLDIER and everything that came from it, but, never once have I regretted anything. Even now."

Looking towards the ground, Cloud was, again, at a loss for words. Things started making more sense; memories he never even knew he had suddenly coming back into focus, pushing aside the other memories like yesterdays garbage. "I know," he whispered back.

"You mean everything to me Cloud," Zack continued, "I'd go to the Life Stream and back for you." Looking away from the fireworks, Zack gazed towards Cloud, a smile forming, "When you pointed your sword at me, at first I thought you were mad at me for being late back home again." Dropping his gaze towards the ground, Zack continued in a whisper, "yet, when you attacked me, the look in your eyes said it was much worse then that. To find out it was because you thought I was dead, worried me. If there's something wrong, you'd tell me about it wouldn't you Cloud?"

Again for what was probably the third time all day, he felt shame rise in his chest at those words. How he could even imagine that the light of his world could ever extinguish, Cloud would never know. It was then that he could care less about the nagging feeling he had had all day, he would just accept the fact that everything was a confused mess right now. If his jumbled memories were anything to go by, this wouldn't be the first time something like this happened.

Looking back towards Zack, Cloud said slowly, "It was nothing more then a nightmare where everything went wrong, Zack. Finding myself suddenly back in a world where everything seemed right, was too much of a shock I guess." Even as he said those words with clarity, a ringing somewhere in his mind found them to be highly disturbing; as if his subconscious knew something was wrong, but hadn't the guts to come out and say what it was outright. His heart was telling him not to care, though.

Slowly Zack looked from the ground towards him, holding his gaze for the longest time, the fireworks reflecting in his eyes. When a smile slowly formed on his face, Zack held Cloud to his chest, resting his chin on his head. Cloud found himself melting, for lack of a better word, in that embrace. All the worries, the nagging feeling in his gut, seemed to go away, as Zack hummed that eerily familiar hymn, the feeling of deep sleep clawing its way back in his mind.

As suddenly as he came to accept what he was seeing was reality, the sound of a falling raindrop into water ripped through his subconscious again like a thousand needles; only this time, it was accompanied by the sent of flowers. Eyes snapping open wide, Cloud lifted his head from Zack's chest; mind suddenly clearer then it had ever been. 'Flowers…' Cloud thought, his face paling at the realization of what the strange sound meant.

"Cloud," Zack said, concern etched over his face, "what's wrong?"

Getting up, Cloud jumped off the slide, looking back up to see Zack looking at him weirdly. He held that gaze long and hard, even as Zack joined on the ground. When he realized Zack was about speak, reaching for him, he cut through firmly, "Zack. Where's Aerith?"

The hand stopped dead in its tracks, falling to the side uselessly. Confusion so uncharacteristic of Zack, formed on his face at the mention of her name, "who?"

"You know. Girl in pink cloths, wearing the pink ribbon you gave her, has a presence that could calm an entire army. Aerith," Cloud said simply. He found himself mentally cursing that he had forgotten someone just as equally important to him as Zack was. Cloud would never let himself live it down. All the talk he had heard all day, the nagging feeling he kept getting, not one person even mentioned her. Not once was she included in the lives the others so openly talked about. It was as if she didn't even exist at all, but he would not let himself be fooled by it any longer.

"I…" Zack whispered, pain suddenly apparent on his face, as he clutched his head, "I…I don't…." When shadows seeped from the ground underneath him, Zack fell to his knees, rocking his head back and forth, and repeating "I don't."

"Zack," Cloud exclaimed as he rushed to his aide, grabbing his shoulders, "Look at me. Zack!"

Going rigid in Cloud's hands, Zack stopped rocking his head, "Cloud…" he managed to whisper, looking up into his eyes. What Cloud saw tore his heart to shreds. No life could be seen in eyes that were once a vibrant blue, dulled like death had come and gone. Yet life there seemed to still be within him, as he pushed Cloud away, the shadows spreading over his body like wildfire. "Run…" he managed again, falling on his hands, "…the church."

Cloud sat there in disbelief, as the shadows consumed Zack before his very eyes, dispersing into the air. It was like watching him die all over again. Yet, as another rain drop in the puddle sounded in his mind, he knew he had no time to mourn. In the night sky, as the last fireworks burst into flames, the surrounding stars succumbing to the darkness that sprouted from fading fire. Standing up quickly, Cloud ran, letting his feet guide him down the right path towards the church.

It was suddenly like everyone in the city was converging on him as he ran past street after street towards his goal. Floods of people surrounded him on every side, neither stopping nor making it easy for him to pass. As if in slow motion, trudging past them, Cloud could see the looks in their eyes. The same, lifeless look that Zack held before the shadows consumed him. Everywhere he turned he heard that same eerie hymn, a convoluted twist of it that sounded like the buzzing of a thousand flies. This all made him lose his sense of direction, floundering to find his way to the church.

The sound of a rain drop in the puddle sounded again, bringing the sent of flowers in its wake, this time with a sense of words being spoken but unheard. Suddenly life came back in forward motion, and Cloud saw to his ever increasing urgency the shadows slowly seeping into the city, consuming everything in its wake. At the sound of another raindrop, Cloud pushed his way onwards past the lifeless people.

Finally breaking free of the teeming masses, he ran past the hollow streets of Edge towards the crumbling lost city of Midgar, the shadows slowly following him from behind.

It was only his enhanced hearing and speed that made him able to dodge the bullet that fired at him from out of the dark corners of the streets. Facing his attacker, he was greeted with Vincent, Red behind him. "You've made a brilliant show Cloud," the man said monotonously, "but it ends here." Growling, Red jumped from behind Vincent towards him, as the man himself fired at Cloud again. Dodging their assaults, Cloud became aware of the same lifeless-ness in each of their eyes. There was no soul left in them that he could see, and the raindrop in the puddle assured him this was the case.

Facing them both, Cloud looked at those who he used to call allies, "I don't want to fight you, but I will if I must." He didn't know why he said that, as they continued their assault on him, vaguely aware of how close the carnivorous shadows were. Maybe it was just a last ditch effort at finding the real Vincent and Red. Cloud would never know as he took them down one by one.

Not wasting time, he continued on, only to be stopped yet again by Tseng and Elena. They said not a word, eyes that same soulless husk, as they charged at him. Cloud never gave a thought more as he hacked them down, like lambs at slaughter, moving on, the shadows coming ever closer. Past Barret and Cid, Reno and Rude, Yuffie and Reeve, Cloud cut them down, each time losing a piece of his own soul.

Reaching his destination, the guards of the slum church appeared out of the shadows of its doorway. Tifa, Marlene, and Denzel stationed themselves in front of its entryway, barring passage to within. Gripping his sword, he swore at whatever monster that made him have to kill the innocent, as he charged forward, no mercy evident on his face or mindset any longer.

The only reassurance that he was doing the right thing was what he had come to realize was Aerith, guiding him towards where he needed to go. Not sparing a glance at the fallen, he slowly walked through the vaulted doors that led inside the church.

As the door shut behind him, he stepped further inside, looking everywhere, the same eerie hymn sounding throughout the area, as he got closer to the middle of the church. It sounded haunting and beautiful at the same time, and much different from before; as if this singer knew the hymn by heart, singing it with the passion and grace it deserved.

The sound of his boots hitting the ground was the only other noise that accompanied the hymn, as he reached the sanctuary. Eyes immediately trained to what was in front of him, Cloud saw within its center, the source of the hauntingly beautiful hymn; a woman in pink, sitting among a garden of radiant flowers, tending to them like a mother would its child. Eerily familiar, yet deceptive in its innocence, Cloud was no fool. Narrowing his eyes at the scene, he quickened his pace as he got nearer, stopping on the outer edge of the garden, sword drawn. Pointing the sword towards the woman's back, he asked clearly, leaving no room for any more games, "who are you?"

Silence greeted him in answer, as the hymn stopped, and the woman stilled her hands looking up. Tilting her head, hair falling over her shoulder, her eyes shadow cast, Cloud felt as if she was staring into his soul. "How," was all that uttered from her lips, something in the voice sending chills down his spine.

Face empty of any emotion, he simply said, "Aerith."

Turning her face towards the front, she got up slowly, her back still in front of him "Ah, the Cetra. I should have known." Hands clasped behind her back, "no matter. All will be as it should be soon enough."

Again, Cloud found himself asking the same question, this time with more force, "who are you?"

Tilting laughter answered him, as the woman in front of him lifted a hand to her face. Looking over her shoulder, a smirk was planted firmly on her lips. "Why tell you when I can just show you?"

As the last word was uttered, her eyes glowed white as the whole sanctuary cracked at the seams, reality breaking as shattered pieces disintegrated into nothing. Her whole body turned to face him, floating upwards, her hands outstretched, and her entire form changing before his eyes; a white sheen exuding from her, near blinding him with its brilliance. The hymn from before now sung in a chorus of a million souls, as her true self emerged. Flowing white hair, and gown to match, eyes closed in a peaceful sleep, she was the most hauntingly beautiful woman he had ever seen.

"Walker amongst dreams," a powerful echoing voice vibrated in his skull, "I stand as one of two; Daughters of the Grand Seal that binds reality and the realms beyond." The surroundings only accented her claim, as the universe showed itself in full glory. Galaxies, shooting stars, the planets, and even time itself seemed to bask in her presence.

Cloud looked upon her in disgust, "one of two? Daughters? You haven't answered the question!"

"Mortals call me Minerva, Goddess of Order," the voice answered back, "Sister to that of Jenova, Goddess of Chaos." The voice taking on a crueler tone continued "a war was waged between the two of us. Who would gain the honor of our father, consuming the worlds in our wake in contest."

Having gotten all the answer he needed, rage filled Cloud's heart as he readied his sword for an attack. Here was someone who played at being god; toying with everything and anyone she could get her slimy hands on, destroying life in the process all for her own games. How many times has he seen people like that? How many has he put down with his blade? Too many to count for in his life, and he was sick of it. "So you want to play games witch," Cloud yelled, as he charged forward, "then let's play!"

Her eyes opened, as his blade drew near her, a force slamming him yards away. Getting up shakingly, pain caused him to fall to his knees. Breathing heavily, blood flowing freely out his wound, Cloud could only keep himself from fading into unconsciousness.

"Foolish mortal," Minerva said coolly, "what can you hope to achieve by striking at those who call themselves gods. You who have helped me in my quest for domination at the death of my foolish sister, was my gift of eternal happiness not suited to you? Humans. Such selfish wretches."

He couldn't believe what he was hearing, what he was inferring. That everyone was just a pawn in some stupid children's game. Sadistic children. The memories of his friends, his mother, Aerith, and most certainly Zack, Cloud began trembling with a fury unlike he had ever felt before. The sound of a raindrop in the puddle sounded through his mind, giving him a sense of clarity, and the strength of all of Gaia behind him. Green tendrils formed around his body, his eyes glowing an unearthly green, as he stood up sword in hand.

Glaring at the witch that caused him and all of Gaia misery, "let me make this as clear to you as I did your sister," he hissed, the green tendrils surrounding him, "don't fuck with Gaia!" Charging forth, with the power of the Life Stream behind him, he bore down her with everything Gaia had to offer, before she even had the chance to react.

The screams of a thousand souls, breaking the deathly tune that could only be rightly called the Hymn of Minerva, sounded as he struck her, tearing reality at its seam again, as she fell to the might of the Life Stream. Yet, as she fell, so did Cloud, as he fell into silent darkness. The sound of a raindrop in the puddle, giving him comfort as time seemed to rewind and the clocks ticked away.

'Meet you on the other side.'


Cloud's eyes snapped open, taking in the surroundings from where he lay. He found himself in the room of his house in Nibelheim, the moon shining through his open window by his bedside. His mind raced with all that he went through, and he wondered how he was still here, and why was he in his hometown. Tossing the blanket off him, Cloud got up, and headed slowly towards the mirror across the room.

The image that greeted him was nothing like he was expecting. The boy he used to be before everything had started looked back at him in confusion. It was if time had reset itself. That, or Cloud was finally going nuts. If he had to decided, the best option would be clear. 'But how…' Cloud thought mid sentence until he noticed something different. Something he never had at this age. In his eyes the faint glow of Mako shined back at him, tauntingly. Not as bright as it used to be, but it was still there, visible if he looked hard enough.

A strange noise from outside interrupted his line of thinking. Jumping on his bed, he looked out the window, searching for the source of the noise, but it seemed so was everyone else. The whole town seemed to look up to the night sky at the same time. Sounds of awe and cheerful chatting began at the sight of the meteor shower that streaked the night sky time and time again. Everyone save Cloud. Somewhere within the shooting stars he had seen her eyes gazing back at him. Minerva, the 'Goddess' of Order.

A smirk formed slowly on his face, as he took in his situation and everything it meant. He was given a second chance to put things to right. A second chance to save those he cared for. And he would do it too. Do it all.

This Cloud swore to himself, as he laid in bed, waiting for the dawn that would start his new journey into absolution.