Title: Pieces of Us
Word count: 2832
Synopsis: After the defeat of Organization XIII there are still many hearts left to mend. Cloud found his way back to Radiant Garden and now he is setting off to find his memories and the person who appears in them, oblivious to the chain of events he will start.
Rating: PG-13 for occasional violence
Pairings: There is only one official pairing in this story and it's mainly one-sided, the pairing is Tifa/Cloud. There's a ton of other pairings if you squint or read into it.
Spoiler-waring! This fanfic contains spoilers for Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 days, major spoilers for Kingdom Hearts 2 and maybe spoilers for Birth By Sleep (I haven't played it yet but I've seen enough of the trailers to know what's gonna happen. Square should put a spoilertag on those...)
Chapter One: Forgotten memories
Cloud put a couple of scrolls, pencils and other stuff he deemed important into a bag he threw across his shoulders recklessly. He had been working on a plan for a couple of months and it had kept him entertained. The others had been worried for him, he could tell. After he disappeared in middle of a battle with Sephiroth, Tifa had turned Hollow Bastion upside down to find him. She had been beside herself and when he one day just appeared at the marketplace she had almost cried her eyes out. She meant well, Cloud never doubted that but he couldn't help but getting irritated when everything he did had to pass by her first. Aerith had told him to be nice and Cloud wouldn't have thought much more of it had it not been for the serious expression on the otherwise serene face of his friend.
While he had been away Tifa had done more than just worrying about him and searching for him, she had put up a pub that quickly became popular amongst the citizens in Hollow Bastion and it had kept her mind busy when her worrying became too much.
Cloud gave his small room one last look to see if there was anything he was forgetting. He hadn't told anyone about the things he had been up to, he didn't expect anyone to understand. If anything they'd probably think he finally lost what little sanity he had left and gone absolutely crazy, but for him this was about as real as it would ever get. He had always felt that he was missing a huge chunk of his life. He felt that there was a void, almost like someone had reached into his brain and removed something important, vital to his existence. He was right and the scary part was that everyone here was probably missing a lot of memories. Maybe he was the only one actually missing his memories which was why he had had put his plan in motion.
"Cloud! Are you eating lunch today?" Tifa yelled from the kitchen below his room. The smell of Tifa's own stew penetrated through the wooden floor. Her stews cleansed the soul what with all the spices she put in them.
"Um, I'll take some to go!"
He heard her mumble something but he was busy hurrying down the stairs to actually pay attention to what it was she was saying. He put his bag behind some shoes by the door before he walked down the narrow corridor into the kitchen.
"You going somewhere?" She took out a lunchbox and filled it with rice and stew when she heard him lean against the doorway, she made sure it was properly sealed so that it wouldn't sparse everywhere.
"Uh, yeah. Cid wants some stuff so he asked me to go and get it for him." He wasn't the one to lie unless he found it necessary and he didn't think he'd have the time to explain so he chose the easy way out. Besides for all Cid knew he had asked Cloud to get stuff just that he might have done so while drunk.
"Huh," That was all Tifa said before she handed him the lunchbox. Whether she knew he was lying or not, Cloud would not be able to tell. Not now at least. She would probably wait for the right time to explode and then confront him. Either that or she wasn't in the mood to argue right now.
"It smells good. Thanks." Cloud hurried to the hallway and put the lunchbox into the bag. He said a quick goodbye before he closed the door behind him and sighed. He was serving a greater purpose. Lying was all he could do until he could tell the truth. That's what he chose to believe.
He had found someone while he was gone or rather he had seen someone and there had been a flash of memories run before his eyes and his chest had been warm. When Sora had come by Hollow Bastion he had never really thought about other worlds. Sure, he had been in Olympus Coliseum when darkness threatened to consume him but he had never been beyond the battle arena. There were other worlds out there. Other worlds in which Cloud could find him. He had that person's name on the tip of his tongue. If he just thought about it a little harder he would remember but seemingly he never thought about it hard enough to figure it out.
As soon as he passed by Merlin's house he ran. He hurried towards the remains of the laboratory in the outskirts of town. He was scared that Yuffie was roaming around and if she saw him sneaking around she would bug him until he spilled every last of his beans. He wouldn't mind telling Yuffie actually. She would give him the benefit of doubt but the problem was that she wouldn't be able keep it a secret and before he knew it all of Hollow Bastion would be aware of his plans.
He sneaked in quietly into the Postern, hoping that he wouldn't attract the attention of lurking Heartless. He was armed and all but lately there had been a lot of self-exploding Heartless and an explosion could easily be heard all the way back home. To add to it all the enemy system was still working and he didn't feel like being thrown up into the air. Cloud pulled out one of the scrolls and sighed. He had never been good with maps so he didn't quite get why he had bothered getting a map in the first place. He looked at the map and then back up. He would have to make a couple of turns to get to Ansem's study and with his luck he would probably get lost.
The hallways were cold and unfriendly. It was hard to imagine that there had been people here every day, working and researching and yet they never took the time to leave something personal behind. Not even a plant. Not that it would still be here had there been a plant. Cloud shook his head in disbelief. Here he was, sneaking around like a criminal of sorts and thinking about interior design.
The door into Ansem's study had been smashed in and Cloud moved some of the ruble aside to jump over the rest. The office was tidy although a bit dusty. There was a frame with a picture on the wall and he could only assume that it portrayed Ansem. Cloud lost no more time on decorations. He hurried over to the desk and began to search for anything of importance. He needed to know how to open up loopholes to other worlds. He had seen the members of the Organization creating loopholes and he figured they had learned to do so with something Ansem had invented. He refused to believe that being a Nobody gave you the ability to travel through space and time by will alone. There had to be some science behind it all.
He sat back and looked at the charts on the walls. There was one about human hearts, another one about darkness and another one about…connection between the worlds? He got up and tried to decipher the text on the chart as he got closer. It wasn't like any handwriting he had ever seen. All he could see were arrows drawn everywhere. He pulled out one of the scrolls and a pencil. Who knew if he might need this later? He made a carbon copy out of it and then put the scroll back into his bag.
There was nothing to find on the desk so he proceeded to the bookshelves. He turned all the books inside-out, flipping them around to see if anything would fly out of them. He was on the brink of giving up when a small piece of paper fell out and landed by his feet. He picked it up and unfolded it.
Cloud turned around and stood face to face with the big painting of Ansem on the wall. He shrugged and pulled up the painting to turn it around. There was nothing on the wall. Except for the fact that there was a secret passage way to the computer room but his computer skills were next to non-existent so he didn't even think about going in there. He looked at the painting and found nothing that stuck out. As he sighed again he accidentally lost his grip on the painting as he tried to put it back up again. There was a small metallic sound and Cloud looked down to the ground and saw a small blue stone lay before him. He picked it up, gave it a quick glance and then put it into his pocket. It would make a great piece of jewelry. Maybe it was a Mythril stone or something.
There had to be something else, something that would say something about traveling between worlds. He walked out of the room with the map in hand. There were two more rooms down the hallway. He wasn't sure if the rooms were offices or something else but he would sure find out. Or so he thought. When he got there he could only find one door that led to nothing more than a cleaning shed filled with dust. The other door was nowhere to be found. He began knocking on the wall to see if maybe the door had been hidden to keep intruders from finding long lost secrets when suddenly his arm disappeared into the wall.
Cloud stared at his arm in disbelief. He pulled back out to see that he was okay and then he tried knocking on the wall again. This was certainly unexpected. This could be the loophole he was searching for. Sure, he hadn't found a way to make one himself but if this loophole-business really was based on will then maybe anyone could do it?
He took a deep breath and leaped into the wall hoping that he wouldn't bounce back with a broken nose. He didn't. He disappeared into the wall and when he opened his eyes again, which was before he thought of taking a breath, he found himself under transparent blue water. He looked up and swam towards the light above his head. He coughed as he got to the surface and looked around in complete awe.
Where the hell was he?
There were gray clouds up in the sky and there was a heavy smell of fish coming from the harbor where a big ship lay anchor. Cloud swam toward land as quickly as he could. He sat down on the beach and gave his surroundings another look. There was no way that he was still in that laboratory. Not unless the laboratory was built above, or under, a village by the sea. There was a small and mad chuckle that threatened to escape him but the sudden sound of a gunshot stopped him. He looked over at the harbor from where the gunshot came and there he saw a bunch of men cheering and screaming loudly.
"Take us to the brothel, yar!" said one man with a wooden leg and raggedy clothes. The other men howled in agreement as the man ahead of the bunch simply walked down the harbor until they all disappeared into the city.
Yar? Cloud got up onto his feet and dusted his pants off. Judging by the clothing of the men, the look of the city and the look of the ship, Cloud would say that he was in a…pirate-world. Either that or he had really knocked himself out trying to run into a wall. For now, he had decided to play along with his brain. He had heard of a world where a Beast ruled over a castle, he had heard of a world where the trees and plants in the forest were ten times bigger than usual but never about a world with pirates. He wasn't even sure he believed in the first two worlds.
The streets were eerily quiet but it helped finding the one brothel in town since that's where all the noise came from. He figured that with so much people inside he would go by unnoticed. He didn't think that being clean and being platinum-blond would attract attention. The noise subsided slightly when he entered but the loud voices came back again as soon as everyone had eyed him at least once. Cloud wasn't sure what he was doing there. Who should he be looking for? Who should he turn to for answers? He figured that once he learned how to make loopholes he'd just go through every world he'd be able to think of to find this person he was looking for but now he wasn't sure of what to do.
Cloud flopped down on an empty seat by the entrance and rubbed his eyes. The saltwater in the sea made his eyes feel heavy and his clothes were still wet. A loud pop made him jump and he looked up quickly to look at a female-pirate who was staring right at him.
"You look lost,"
Cloud didn't quite bother to look like he was interested in starting a conversation. The woman had a crimson red bandana on her head, large golden earrings and she looked like a pirate. She was chewing gum and she blew another bubble and let it pop. Her hair was brownish and locks of it hung down to frame her surprisingly pretty face.
"Not much of a talker, are ya?"
She leaned in closer and lowered her voice, "You're not one of 'em cloak-guys, are you?"
Cloak-guys? It didn't take Cloud long to add two and two together. He was wearing dark clothing and he wasn't from around here so it wasn't so weird that she thought that he might be a member of the Organization. But he'd have to be careful. He didn't want to have a mob chase him out of this world just because there had been a misunderstanding.
"What if I was?"
"Cheeky." She half-grinned and rested her head onto her hands, "Listen, I'm in need of some gold so whatever it is you're here for I can help."
"You're losing your time. I'm no Organization-member," Cloud sighed. It's not like he could ask her to find the person he was looking for just by saying Oh yeah, by the way, do you know where this guy in my fading memories is?
"Well if you have gold I can still help." She held out her hand and waited for Cloud to shake it, "I'm Cissnei."
"Cloud." He was seriously hoping now that all of this was a consequence of running into that wall. After months of planning he still didn't know what he was doing. For some reason he actually thought that everything would come to him in the order he had planned. It was like he hadn't learned anything! Now he was in over his head, if he now was in a different world, that is.
Cloud was so busy mentally kicking himself that he didn't notice the change in the woman's face until he heard a small gasp. She leaned in again and said in a whisper, "Sephiroth," She then sat back to inspect Cloud's expression. The look of shock was clearly the reaction she had been expecting and she clapped her hands in glee.
"Yes! I'll be getting my gold anyway!" She said it quietly so that the others wouldn't hear.
"How do you know that name?" Cloud demanded. He forgot all about different worlds, loopholes and whatnot. No one dared to mention that name to him, not even as a joke. Was all of this another mind-game Sephiroth was playing on him? Had he even returned to Hollow Bastion after his battle with Sephiroth? What if the last couple of months had been nothing but hallucinations? It almost felt like his gut was turning upside-down as another horrible thing occurred to him. What if those memories were a part of that mind-game? What if the person he thought he was looking for didn't exist?
"Go to the rampart by midnight if you want the answers." She said, looking very serious, "You might not be one of 'em cloak-guys but they sure have business with you." She stood up and left, leaving Cloud to ponder about what that meant. The Organization was behind this? What business they did have with him? They had never crossed ways. Sure, he had spoken to the Keyblade-wielder on occasion but that couldn't be reason enough for them to want to meddle with him, could it?