Anyways, so this is my second published piece and yet another pro-Cloti story. Clearly, I'm a Cloti shipper, haha. This is set towards the end of AC where Cloud is floating in all his awesomeness, just because he's awesome. Oh, and because he almost died, but ya know. Lots of Zack and Aeris, too. There should have been more Zack and Aeris in AC, even after ACC. MORE, MORE I SAY!

Feedback would be greatly appreciated-after all, constructive criticism will help me as a writer and if you're enjoying what I write, I would love to know! It makes me feel good when others enjoy what I do.

I own nothing. Not even the Cloud plushie I so desperately want.

In the meantime, I give you:

-Helping Hands-

"Mother?"

Whisper thin fingers gently applied pressure to his forehead, a caress hardly there, yet, wholly felt by Cloud Strife all the same. His mother would always touch him this way when she feared her son was ill. Her soft palm would come to a rest along his brow line and both mother and son found comfort in the gesture.

But this couldn't be right.

His mother was dead.

Three silver haired men-no, they were almost still boys-and then...

Sephiroth.

Sephiroth had returned. Jenova's head and the three silver haired brothers. Kadaj, Yazoo and Loz. Loz had hurt Tifa-thought Tifa was dead-the kids-gone. Bahumut Sin. Edge in peril-so much destruction-again. And then...

Then Kadaj was Sephiroth, but once again, Cloud was able to defeat the one-winged angel, or at least, the form that Jenova had presented to him. He was able to overcome the nightmare. Again. But...Loz and Yazoo... He had turned his back-thought it was over. There was a gunshot...He had fought back with primal determination- Lights, a horrific bang... and then- nothing.

Cloud was vaguely aware of being semi-present-he felt warmth and light, but there was no air, and no movement but his own shallow breathing and the delicate hand which withdrew from his face.

Was he dead?

No-he had filled this same space before. She was here with him.

"Again? Why does everyone keep calling me their mother lately?"

Her sweet, ethereal voice was laced with quiet amusement and filled the space around him. He strived to hold onto his consciousness which was the only thing holding her presence to him. But he couldn't open his eyes, couldn't see her.

He wasn't sure if he could handle seeing her and, more than anything, he was afraid she would disappear.

"I guess they must be fond of you."

Right then and there, if only for just a moment, Cloud hoped he was dead. If he became one with the Lifestream, he would be joining them. Zack's voice pulled Cloud out of himself as he became more aware of his body; his body which seemed to be floating, as if it were in limbo.

"This one's a little too big to adopt."

Hearing their banter left him with such longing, but even as he began to contemplate death, something in his consciousness shifted, as if he were present in two places at once and it was this space where his consciousness didn't, nor the rest of him, belong. His entity was in conflict with itself; his mind had found a certain comfort in their presence of nothing, yet, his mind also seemed to be leaving him, as if it was pulling him back to what was an actual reality. All throughout his body he felt a tingling, as if it was uncomfortable and unable to adjust to the nothingness he was presently occupying. Still he kept his eyes shut. He didn't want to know where he was-didn't want to risk losing them before his eyes again.

"Tough luck, friend. Looks like you don't have a place here."

Even as Zack's words reached his ears, Cloud felt a tug. He could hear hushed voices but couldn't discern anything; they were too muffled, as if they were in the next room. His eyes seemed to be glued shut as he felt himself being lifted, but as his mind became pleasurably blank, he felt his body come to an abrupt and jerky stop.

"Cloud?"