*Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not own these characters. They belong to Square Enix

*A/N: Hello friends! Here is another addition to my line of stories that revolve around Zack Fair's death in Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core! This is definitely not my best and is in much need of some improvement, but I am too focused on writing my Reno story. XD But I really wanted to put another story up, so I guess this one will have to be fixed later! Unless of course you guys think it is good, then I will keep it But I am gonna need some major convincing ;) I love you all! Thank you for reading. Please review it will make my heart go pitter-patter! XD

Cloud's darkest hour

Darkness. Cloud was surrounded by it. It smothered him, making him feel claustrophobic. He couldn't think straight, and he couldn't feel his body. He floated around, helplessly searching for a way to free himself. For a while now, he had been seeing flashes of light, but they would disappear before he could get his thoughts gathered enough to do something about them.
Suddenly he heard something. It sounded like a voice. It was extremely muffled, but the tone was familiar. Cloud searched for the source of the sound. There! It was coming from a thin line of white light. He scrambled towards it, the best he could. Twice the blondie caught himself forgetting what it was he was doing. But each time, that voice helped him refocus.

Finally, he reached that light. Cloud was sucked back into consciousness so fast, that it made his head spin at a nauseating speed. The voice was clear now. He could make out words. It took his mako-poisoned brain a few seconds to realize that it was Zack. What had happened to them? The last memory that Cloud had was of him lying on cold, metal steps, only inches from Zack's unconscious form. Cloud remembered that he had been stabbed by Sephiroth. But here he was, perfectly fine. Ok maybe not perfectly fine. There was definitely something wrong with him. But at least he wasn't dead. Or was he?
Cloud slowly became more aware of his surroundings. They were...moving.
A sudden jolt here and there would cause his head to bounce. We must be in a car of some sort, he thought. He tried to open his eyes, but they were extremely heavy, almost like they were super-glued shut. The blondie focused on moving different parts of his body, getting extremely frustrated when all he could do was twitch a finger.

Zack continued to talk; his warm laugh would have made Cloud smile if he could move the muscles in his face. Cloud needed to wake up! He had so many questions for Zack! What the hell is wrong with my body? He concentrated really hard on making a fist and was relieved when he got all of his fingers to move. Sure it was a tiny twitch, but hey, it was better than before. So he continued to concentrate on his hand, while listening to the comforting sound of his best friend's voice.

He didn't know how long they had been driving, but by the time they stopped, Cloud had successfully moved all his fingers and toes. Zack had continued talking the whole way. Cloud wished he could answer him! He felt himself being carried out and away from the car, which was now speeding away. He was placed gently on the ground. Cloud could feel Zack's eyes on his face and focused all his energy on opening his eyes. He successfully opened them, but not a lot. Cloud heard Zack chuckle before he grabbed Cloud's hair and have him an affectionate shake of his head. Cloud slowly lifted his head up, but he saw that Zack had begun to walk away. No! Wait! Where was he going? How could Zack leave me here? Cloud raised his hand up in a silent plea, wishing for Zack to stay. He tried to call Zack back, but his voice wouldn't work. Suddenly, Cloud got this sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. It made his stomach clench painfully and made his head feel dizzy. A voice in his head screamed "go after him!" With a sudden wave of strength Cloud opened his eyes all the way and slowly moved his legs to a useful position. His desperation was making it easier to move. He made his first attempt to stand, gripping the rock behind him with weak hands. He had a moment of excitement as he lifted his body, but it didn't last long. Cloud slipped and landed on his side, exhausted. His breathing was fast and shallow. He closed his eyes and cried silently in frustration.
Cloud didn't know how long he had been crawling for, but it must have been awhile. The sky had darkened and as he stared up at it, he knew it was going to rain. The blondie looked back over his shoulder and sighed. He hadn't gotten very far. His body had left a jagged trail in the dirt. His lungs were burning and his body shook from exhaustion. He still had that sickening feeling in his stomach and as the time passed he grew more and more uneasy.

Cloud had just begun to crawl again after a short break when he heard noises that made his blood run cold. Gunshots. They were coming from straight ahead...exactly where Zack had gone. Cloud stared dumbly at the mountain of rock ahead, half wishing he could see what was behind it and half hoping he wouldn't have to. He started crawling again, this time a little faster. His whole body felt like it was on fire. Must be all my nerve endings trying to remember how to work. The gunshots continued to go off and he quickly became more and more panicked. Where was Zack? Was he okay?
He pushed his weak body to its limit and continued to crawl. Suddenly, he heard a different noise: Zack screaming in pain. Cloud's breathing stopped, his heart stopping as well. No. He can't be dying. Zack can't die! He's too strong. Too full of life. Water dripped down Cloud's face. At first he thought he was crying, but his body still hadn't woken up enough for that. No, it was just the rain, the sky's way of crying for him.

Cloud began crawling again, ignoring any pain or exhaustion that his body seemed determined to make him feel. The ground became muddy and wet. If the situation wasn't so desperate, he would have been thankful. The mud made it easier for Cloud to slide towards his friend.
A few minutes had passed before Cloud heard more gunshots. Wait. Did that mean that he wasn't dying? If they were still shooting at him, that meant he was okay, right? Cloud felt the flame of hope spark deep within him. He used that flame to get him to where he needed to go. Before he knew it, he was at the mountain of rock. As he finally passed it, Cloud looked ahead and froze. The flicker of hope was gone as quickly as it had appeared.
ShinRa infantrymen lay everywhere, their blood mixing with rain
and dirt to create maroon colored mud. Guns and helmets lay strewn about. As his gaze wandered over the battlefield before him, Cloud felt that sickening feeling in his stomach again. There. He could see Zack. Tears immediately formed in Cloud's eyes. Zack looked...dead. Cloud made his way over to Zack's body, not caring when he dragged himself through Zack's blood. When he got close enough, Cloud could see that Zack was still breathing, but barely. Every breath was strained and laced with pain.

"Zack..." Cloud's voice was scratchy and weak from the lack of use.

Zack took in a pained breath, his eyes unfocused and still. For a second, Cloud thought he was already too far gone. But then, Zack turned his eyes to Cloud. The electric blue glow had almost completely vanished from those eyes, proving that the puppy didn't have much time left.

"For the...both of us..." he paused to take in a pained, short gasp.

"Both...of us?" Cloud didn't want him to stop talking. He needed Zack to stay with him.

"Your gonna..."

"Your gonna...?" Cloud helped him.

The blondie watched as Zack slowly brought a shaky arm to Cloud's head, gripping the baby hairs on his neck. Cloud knew he was trying to give him one of those famous head shakes, but Zack's arm gave out, dragging Cloud's head with it. His forehead landed gently on Zack's chest. Cloud whimpered when he felt how sticky and warm it was.

"Live." Zack paused once again.

Cloud could actually feel Zack's shaky breath this time, which made it a whole lot worse.

"You'll be...my living legacy."

His hand let go of Cloud's hair and he thankfully pulled away from Zack, not wanting to feel all those holes in his chest again. However, that sticky warmness stuck to the blondie. He could see that his bangs had been tainted red. He looked down into Zack's smiling face. That's so like him. Even though Zack has got to be in so much pain right now, he still smiles.
Zack turned his head and looked at his sword, which was lying in a huge puddle of his blood. Cloud didn't know how Zack did it, but Zack managed to drag that huge Buster sword towards Cloud.

"My honor...my dreams...they're yours now."

Cloud took the hilt of the sword from Zack's hand, his eyes widening in shock when the fallen soldier gave it a surprisingly strong shove for his current condition. Cloud couldn't miss the intensity and seriousness in his voice as Zack said those words and looked at Cloud, those eyes burning like usual, briefly maintaining the familiar mako-enhanced glow. But, soon, Cloud could see that he had now completely drained his reserves of energy, and the electric blue faded to an even duller blue than before. Zack's arm made a small splash as it fell back down to his side.

"I'm...your living...legacy." Cloud said it like a fact, soaking up Zack's words. Then, he watched as his best friend, his true hero, gave him one last smile and closed his eyes forever.
For a moment, Cloud forgot how to breathe. When he remembered how, he had this horrible feeling in his chest. It felt like his heart was being ripped in two. And it hurt, bad. He gave two, short gasps before he couldn't hold it in anymore. He raised his face to the sky and screamed, not caring if someone heard. All his memories of his time with Zack flashed before his eyes. He continued to sob as he re-lived the happiest times of his life. Because that's what Zack brought me. Happiness. He also brought me friendship, kindness and trust. He was truly my best friend, in every sense of the word.
Finally, the rain stopped, as well as Cloud's tears. He looked down at Zack again; the rays from the sun were making his face glow.

"Thank you."

Cloud could never thank him enough. His time with Zack would always be the happiest times of his life. Everything Zack had taught Cloud would stick with him until the day Cloud died.

"I won't forget."

How could he? Zach was one of a kind and unique in every way. Cloud slowly stood up, forgetting that he was unable to do that just moments before. As he looked down at Zack, his goodbye got caught in his throat. He had never been good at farewells. This was the toughest one he had ever had to say. But, Zack was still smiling, which made Cloud's eyes fill up once again. No, Zack wouldn't want him to cry anymore. He took a deep breath before, finally, letting go.

"Good night." He turned to leave. "Zack."

With that simple goodbye, Cloud turned and left his best friend forever. After walking for a short while, he paused to rest and looked up at the sky, which was now clearing up. Wait. Something was moving. Cloud peered upward and tried to get a better look. Was that a...feather? He watched it slowly float towards him. When it was within his reach, he grabbed it. Yes. It was a feather. It was long and white with...a familiar black at the base. Shocked, Cloud stared at it for a moment before looking up at the sky. He swore he could hear Zack's playful laugh.

Embrace your dreams. And, no matter what happens, protect your SOLDIER honor.