DISCLAIMED: (10/01/10)

Characters: Cloud/Yuffie, Godo, OCs galore for plot purposes, eventually all of AVALANCHE
Rating: M – for mature stuff, like violence, sensuality, and language.
Warning: Since I've decided to put a lovely little recap in here, it's not entirely necessary to read Part I first, but really, why wouldn't you? This part will still be here when you're done and it'll make more sense;)
Summary: Cloud has accepted the ancient Wutainese quest to win Yuffie's heart and finds some surprises along the way. Will a curse none of them saw coming shake his resolve? Or will Yuffie end up making the choice for him. All games&movies compliant.

A/N: A raise of hands please if you didn't think you'd ever see Part II *raises both hands* =P Lol, so uh this was a laborious task and not because it sucks or anything – which I'm always afraid of when it comes to my work – but because I am your typical Gemini and I have a zillion different interests going on all at once and prioritizing isn't me strong suit. I had a blast writing this at the odd times when I managed to bust it out and I hope you like it too. ^_^

P.S. There are a zillion ways to translate other languages, so be kind to mine - I don't expect it to be perfect, so you shouldn't either. That said, I'm sorry to any native speakers who read this who think it's crap =P


: ЄөЦŕҐїŊģЭфΘμÐ :


~ :: Part II :: ~

The Ancient Forest chirped and hummed in the dim light of twilight. The overhang of exotic trees dimmed it further with their thick fronds, making the humid air grow cool.

A loud frog was suddenly silenced as it landed with a plop!, sliding down the eager carnivorous stem of the Venus Fly-Trap. The silent figure who was the culprit of the poor frog's demise walked by coolly, the dangerous plant now preoccupied.

Dressed in full black, a matching hood covering their head, the figure paused at the base of a large tree. It was different from the other trees, with a much wider trunk. Pulling out a short gunblade, he lifted it towards a hidden gong amidst the leafy vines. A free hand shot out in front to catch the square stone that fell seemingly from nowhere at the sound of the gong being hit.

Lowering the short gunblade, a muttered "chuujitsu" had the tree rotating on the spot, revealing a large archway previously hidden by the high ground set behind it. With a quirk of their lips, the figure disappeared into the tree's depths.



Day 11

Cloud sighed, covering it by scratching his forehead. Lifting his plate of food, he set it before Yuffie before taking her plate. "Better?"

She beamed at him from across the table and nodded happily before digging in. Shaking his head, Cloud decided he was better off ordering whatever she had in the future.

They were in Cosmo Canyon at a restaurant. When they'd arrived, Red wasn't there as it was his day for scouting the border. The boat ride and ensuing chocobo ride took several days of hard traveling so they decided to relax for the night and wait for him to return in the morning with the package needed to continue their journey.

After they finished eating, Yuffie was strangely bouncy despite their long day of traveling, so Cloud took her for a walk. Light on her feet, she hopped from large rock to large rock along the edges of the city. Cloud's eyes continually strayed towards her bare legs, both of their cloaks left in their room in the desert climate.

As she hummed, his thoughts strayed back to when they met. He realized this wasn't their first 'date'. Of course the first one had been initiated rather forcefully by her, so he hadn't considered it a date at the time. Despite being completely shocked when she kissed his cheek, he'd felt warm at the unexpected gesture. She was entirely too young for him at the time and he was already confused enough by his feelings for Tifa and Zack's memories of his feelings for Aerith to take her seriously though. He was simply the first person to show her any kindness – even his coldly given kind – at the time.

Now he had no such confusion. He'd been having lunch with Yuffie for a long time, every month like clockwork. It'd been awkward at first, after having her see him breakdown at Tifa and Reeve's wedding like that. But it was a testament to how much she'd matured that she didn't rub his face in it, or call him names. Well, the latter part at least without any real scorn.

He'd been able to come out of his misery enough to realize the 'baby' of their little resistance group was making light of the situation in an attempt to cheer him up. It was something they'd all taken turns at with Yuffie throughout their trials, but with very little success. Only Cloud could, for some reason.

After his little realization at the wedding, he'd been annoyingly stubborn in responding to Yuffie. This caused her to turn it back onto herself, saying he didn't trust her and he ended up agreeing to go find some dessert away from the wedding just to calm her down. It was during pie that she convinced him to meet her for lunch in a month. And then at lunch, she convinced him to meet her in another month. And another month.

After three months, she brought up their next meeting as if it was their set routine, only asking where they should meet. She never brought up Tifa or Reeve, sticking to safe subjects like the rest of their group and royal princess business. And since he found he actually enjoyed seeing her and hearing her abrupt sardonic retellings of "trying to be a lady", he shrugged telling her he'd give her a call when he knew where he'd be.

The look of absolute surprise at his easy acceptance followed quickly by the most genuine smile he'd ever seen on her was well worth it. He'd realized during the month that followed that he'd had a small crush on her and resolutely pushed it away in favor of keeping his monthly lunch partner. He'd almost decided to tell her they wouldn't continue when they next met but she'd been completely relaxed and so normal that he'd forgotten about it.

During their continuing lunches, he grew more and more relaxed in her company and found himself trusting her enough to open up. He spoke quietly of his time with Zack and she asked questions, curious as always. It was then that he found out she'd known Zack too, after a fashion. He found it bizarre that his friend from so long ago would have gone on treasure hunt after treasure hunt for a little Wutai girl he didn't even know. Most likely was just humoring her, but still.

He felt oddly connected to her after that. They'd trade stories of their dealings with Shinra. He'd found out that during her time working for the WRO, she'd had to work with Reno a few times, seeing as Rufus still attracted a lot of attention despite being a dead man but still the number one contributing donor for the WRO finances.

Listening to her stories of how she put the "turkey" in his place several times over, he felt better about her ability to handle other men. It wasn't until now that he realized why that had bothered him at all. Now, after deciding for sure he wanted to do this obligatory quest for any warrior seeking the future Empress's hand, he knew it would bother him a lot if Reno, or any guy, even looked at her wrong. Again, it was his irrational side talking, but then Yuffie still hadn't spoken of or told him anything concrete about how she felt about him. Besides maiming or killing anything male that looked her way, Cloud didn't know how else to keep her to himself.

Yuffie had slowed in her light prancing above him, allowing him to reach her side just as she tipped sideways, her leg going out to try and regain her balance. He caught her as she fell, setting her easily on her feet next to him.

"You okay?"

She snorted. "Don't make me laugh, Cloud. You're just lucky I didn't do the aerial kickstand I planned and ended up knocking you in the head."

He took that as a yes.

They continued walking side by side. Cloud caught her hand and felt her tense, but she didn't pull away. He decided to calm her down a bit.

"You know the entire quest, right?"

She tilted her head, but didn't look at him. Slowly, she nodded.

"Where to after the Ancient forest?"

"Nibelheim." She looked at him then, warily. "I know you might not—"

He shook his head, cutting her off. "Yuff, I made you a promise." He glanced sideways at her. "I'll deal."

Rolling her eyes, she smirked slightly. "Right, because you're sooo good at doing that."

Taking it for the joke that it was, he smirked and pulled her to him, lifting an arm around her head to hold her while he messed up her hair. She laughed and squirmed out of his hold. "Cloud!"

He allowed her to get away, only to pull her back to face him with a gentle yank. Out of breath from laughing, she draped herself rather inelegantly against his chest, but he didn't mind. As he gazed down at her fondly, her smile stayed. Only her eyes widening slightly and her pounding heart showed she was aware of how close they were.

As his eyes roved her face, her fingers slowly curled around the front of the thick fabric of his duster. His eyes zeroed in on her lip as she bit it, a nervous habit of hers he'd noted over the years. When he lowered his head, she released it, her lips parting ever so slightly. Her eyelids fluttered shut when his lips settled over hers and she leaned up into him.

Kissing her was amazing. He honestly didn't know why they hadn't started doing this sooner when her mouth was pressed to his, her body curled against his just so. Her kisses were like her, energizing, straightforward, slightly vulnerable with a hint of that fleeting softness. They left him wanting more of her, almost too much so far that he'd needed to think of highly disturbing things to calm himself down afterward.

His hands had clenched at her waist briefly, before he broke the kiss. Their breathing was accelerated and Yuffie had her half-lidded gaze on his mouth.

His voice husky, he asked, "You want to go back to the room?"

Without hesitation, she nodded. Kissing the top of her head, he kept an arm around her waist as he turned them back towards town.



"Akubi-san. Doko desu ka?" (Where are you?)

"Fort Condor, Hiroki-sama. My men could not persuade the locals to release me and I was kept another night."

An aggravated huff. "I told you not to underestimate the shinobi."

"Hai, otou-san."(Yes, father)

"Doesn't matter. I have men on her trail. The gaijin was with her?" (foreigner-outsider)

"Hai. Demo, she claims she is doing the quest for herself." (Yes. But)

"She's always been stubbornly independent. Atarashikunai. Hayaku. (This is not new. Hurry.) Finish the quest and leave the shinobi to me. The people will not accept a woman or her gaijin as ruler of Wutai."

"Hai, otou-sama." (Yes, father.)


He pressed her up against the closed door inside their room as his lips ravaged hers. Walking back amongst the stars of the clear night sky with her fingers tangled in his at her waist was sweet torture and he was glad she was so responsive when he claimed her mouth seconds within arriving at their suite.

Her hands roaming over him was too much at the moment however, causing him to lift her arms over her head and press them to the door. Instead, she made a whimpering noise and thrust her hips against his. He pressed her back against the door more firmly, breaking their kiss on a breath, his eyes closing as he savored the sensation. When she moved again, he couldn't help a pained groan. "Yuff…"

"Let me touch you."

He shook his head. "This won't last very long if you do."

That gave her pause. "Well, how long can it last?"

He exhaled on a gruff laugh. "Keep it up and we'll be lucky if it lasts more than a minute."

She blinked prettily at him, and her absolute naiveté was just too much. Releasing her arms, he elicited a short yelp from her as he lifted her around his waist and carried her to the bed. Laying her down, he kissed her long and slow. Her fingers threaded slowly into his hair, tugging and massaging. The urge to see all of her and make her his was starting to become a litany in his head as he made love to her mouth. Mine.

As his hand slid down her sides and along the top of her shorts, a scratching sounded at the door. They froze before Cloud lifted his head and they both looked at the door.

"Cloud? Yuffie?" It was Red.

Cloud cursed lowering his head to her neck. Rising, he lifted off of Yuffie and strode to the door. Opening it, he looked down to see Red sitting there. Cloud must've looked as frustrated as he felt since Red cocked his one good eye at the blond.

"You alright?"
Cloud sighed. "Fine. I thought you were on duty tonight."
"I was. My relief came out early to alert me of your arrival. Did you wish to retrieve the package now? I wasn't sure how early a start you and…Yuffie wished to have?"
Yuffie came up behind him and peered around Cloud. "Hey, Red. Gettin' a bit old to be running around this late at night, aren't ya?"
He gave her a wry look. "The term is mature, Yuffie. Something I see you haven't completely done."
She shrugged. "If you mean turned into an old fart like my pops, then no. But Leviathan knows I'm hopin' for that to kick in any day now."

Red rolled his good eye before turning to Cloud. "I have the package upstairs in the safe if you want it."
Cloud nodded. "We'll be right up." As he shut the door, he turned to Yuffie, slumping against the closed door.
She fidgeted as she watched him watch her. "Guess the mood is ruined now."
He sighed heavily and straightened. He clasped her upper arms and kissed the top of her head. "Guess so."

Feeling uncharacteristically bereft, she wrapped her arms around his waist and rested her cheek against his chest. "You'll still want to—"
"—Always." He cut her off, causing her to glance up. His gaze was serious and a little heated.
Smiling, she lowered her head to rest against his chest again. "I liked tonight."
He brushed a hand over her hair and down her back. "Me too."


A little boy of four jumped from the front porch, his uncoordinated legs causing him to stumble to his hands as he landed.
Standing, he glanced at his hands through golden brown eyes before brushing them off on his shorts.
on, Ryuu-chan! Osoi sou ja nai!" (Stop being so slow!)
He looked up and immediately runs after the slightly older girl with the same dark hair as him. "Wait, o-ne-san!"(older sister)


Day 12

"Ow! Dammit, Cloud I'm fine! Stop hovering already!"

Getting through the Ancient Forest was no easier this time through than the last. The damp humid air was a concern as Yuffie still wasn't in top health and Cloud was nervous with her around all the man-eating fly-traps.

"Then stay behind me." His tone was sharp, the heavy air making him just as irritable.

In a very mature fashion, she allowed him to pass her before mocking his words silently to his back. Her gesture was cut off as she stumbled sideways, coming down awkwardly on her ankle. "Ow!"

Cloud turned with a frown to see her bent at the waist clutching her ankle. "What is it?"

She winced. "My ankle. I think I twisted it." Cloud came over and knelt down before her to inspect it. She used his shoulder to hold herself up. "Don't touch it!"

He grimaced, but listened. Instead, his hand hovered over her sore appendage, chanting the words for the Cure spell.

Yuffie felt the immediate relief and relaxed. She tensed up again when Cloud glanced up at her. "Better?"

Biting her lip, she hedged a bit. "I think so. Maybe you should just carry me until we're sure."

Cloud gave her a flat look, which she returned with large innocent eyes. He straightened, letting her foot drop. She stumbled, grabbing his arm for support, noting that her ankle did indeed feel perfect. However, she wasn't about to let Cloud know that. Not after snapping at her like that while hovering around her like a damn helicopter for an hour.

So she fake winced and gripped his upper arm tighter, a small trill of awareness going through her at the amount of muscle beneath her fingers. "Cloud, you don't want me to risk further injury do you? And if I ride on your back, then I'll still be doing as you so kindly asked by staying behind you." She fluttered her eyelashes prettily, causing his eyes to narrow, even as his lips quirked.

Sighing, he turned, presenting his back to her. Squatting, he ignored the fact that she used both legs just fine to jump up onto his back, catching her under the thighs to settle her more firmly as he stood. Her arms surrounded his neck as she pressed her cheek to the side of his head.

"Don't worry, I'll buy you some greens when we get back to town." Amusement laced her voice heavily.

"Not if you're fed to one of these plants before we get there, you aren't."

They continued to bicker good-naturedly throughout the forest, avoiding the larger man-traps and surprises. When they reached a significantly different looking tree, they paused.

"This it?"

Yuffie slipped from his back and he noted she did so without any wincing as she stepped around him looking straight up the trunk of the large tree. "Try the password." She accompanied the words with pulling her shuriken from her back.

Cloud did the same with his sword before muttering the password. "Chuujitsu." The trunk of the tree rumbled as it slowly rotated, revealing a dark opening.

"Loyalty." Cloud glanced at Yuffie as she stared at the opening.

When she turned to say something to him, he cut her off.

"—Don't ask me to leave you and turn back. I will go where you go and live where you live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God."

She blinked at him, tilting her head. He shrugged.

"Guy in my unit back at Shinra was super-religious. Quoted scripture non-stop." He met her gaze evenly then. "It fits."

The amount of devotion in his gaze was a bit much to take and she turned away. "Er, I was just going to say can you turn on your flashlight. I don't need another Vincent popping out of the dark at me."

Running his gaze over her once more, he clicked on his light and stepped towards the opening. Yuffie followed closely behind. She wanted to cast fire but she wanted her weapon more. This forest always gave her the creeps. One meter in, the opening started to close behind them.

She grabbed a hold of Cloud's arm as the area went dark and was glad for it. As the trunk thunked into place, the ground disappeared beneath their feet. With a shout, they both plummeted straight down.

Concern for each other had them keeping their weapons above their heads. Cloud grasped around for her before finding purchase and yanking her to his side. The tunnel they were falling through abruptly opened into a cavernous space, dimly lit from a hole somewhere else in the ceiling.

They both landed on bended knee. Cloud slowly rose, looking over his shoulder as Yuffie did the same. Putting her shuriken on her back, she cast fire sending small flames to the corners of the cave.

Both of their eyes widened at the sight before them. Revealed was a wide-open area, filled with rich grassy plains and wildflowers. Yuffie stepped forward, looking up. Her eyes were awed at the seemingly beautiful blue sky, interspersed with white fluffy clouds. Butterflies and birds fluttered by in the light breeze, whipping dandelions around.


Cloud stepped forward as well, his gaze just as wide as he took in the spectacle. They were underground. None of this should be here.

"Is it…real?"

Cloud slowly shook his head. "I don't know." He reached out a hand to catch a full-grown butterfly as it landed in his palm. "Feels real."

Yuffie knelt in the grass and picked a flower. Her eyes lit as it came easily, its texture and feel normal. Lifting it to her nose, she breathed in the tulip's scent. It smelled fresh. And…something else.

The ground shook then. Both of them lifted their heads as a beautiful, willowy blond appeared several feet away. The ground rippled as she whirled to a stop facing them. She was naked, but for a vee of cloth over her nether parts, her long full hair covering her breasts. Her eyes were such a light blue they were almost completely white. Her expression was serene but blank.

Then she gestured. Towards Cloud.

Yuffie glanced at him to see he'd froze. His feet looked rooted in place. Looking back at the woman, Yuffie gave her an annoyed look. What the hell, she thought. This chick wasn't trying to entice Cloud, was she? Because that was sooo not cool. Just as Yuffie took a step towards her, a beautiful soprano started to sing. Yuffie thought it was coming from the woman but it seemed to echo all around them. Cloud still wasn't moving and it was starting to worry her.

"Cloud. The package."

A gust of wind rustled her hair then and she pushed it back as she looked at the woman. Both her arms lifted and a pedestal much like the others they'd seen before, appeared before her. Lowering her hands, the woman watched Cloud and waited.

Annoyed when he continued to stare at the woman unmoving, Yuffie walked over to stand in front of him. She frowned up at him. "Cloud? Snap out of it, Romeo." She snapped her fingers in his face.

Blinking, Cloud spoke. "I can't look away."
Yuffie snorted. "Diggin' your grave deeper, bud."
"Yuffie." His sharp tone caught her attention then. "I. Can't. Look. Away."
Her brow furrowed in confusion. She lifted up on her tiptoes to try and reach his eye level. She wasn't quite tall enough and jumped a little. It was enough and she caught his eye, which he seemed to latch onto. He held her gaze and she saw his relief and desperation. Concerned, she softened her tone. "What is it?"

He shook his head and gripped her arms, lowering his head. "It's all I could do to not move."
Her eyebrow lifted. "Really?"
He nodded. "I recall fighting something like her before, but never this powerful."
Turning to look over her shoulder, Yuffie considered the man-stealing ho. Her voice was thoughtful. "Maybe you need the infusing of the stone to resist her."
"She was compelling me to come place the stone on there, so I don't know."
Yuffie snorted. "More like she'll eat you alive if you get close enough." She glanced at his arm. "Do you have your Ribbon?"
Feeling his upper arm, he found it bare. "It must've broke."
Yuffie sighed heavily. "Well, that's why. Here, take mine."
Cloud shook his head, staying her hand on her own status accessory. "You'll need it."
She huffed, even though inside she was all tingly that he cared. "Fine. If you're goin' to be all noble and crap, give me the package and I'll put it on the podium." His head was shaking as she said it. "Well, what do you think we should do then, Lover Boy? Stare at her until we explode?"

His jaw worked for a moment before he huffed. "Fine. But I'm going with you." Before she could protest, he turned them around so his back faced the strange woman. He pulled out the package and gave it to her before taking his weapon in hand. Nodding at Yuffie. Her protests died in her throat as she realized he was placing his trust in her to watch for danger. Her face set, she nodded back. Using the package, she placed it against Cloud's chest to push him backward as she started forward, one step at time. She could tell he was tense at not being able to see the danger, but his gaze on her was steady.

They were a few feet away and she paused. She tried to step to his side, but he pressed a hand to her stomach to stop her. Frowning, he said, "What are you doing?"

Yuffie nodded to the creepy chick. "She's right there. Keep hold of me if you want, but I'll be damned if you get any closer without being able to see her attack." He did just that as she crept forward, turning to his side to accommodate his grip on her. Yuffie for her part, never stopped looking at the strange woman, whose gaze was unwavering on Cloud.

As soon as she set the package on the podium though, the woman's eerie-ass eyes moved to her. Freezing, Yuffie hardly dared to breathe. However, she still could if she wanted to. So ever so slowly, she stepped backward, gripping her Conformer tightly. When she was closer to Cloud, she was yanked back in front of him rather abruptly. Looking up at his stone-set face, her immediate protest at being manhandled died in her throat.

"Ready for this?" His low voice startled her. She nodded mutely. Still holding her gaze, he spoke the magic word. "Chuujitsu."

Yuffie's head turned as the stone exploded in light, rising up in a blaze of shimmering translucent violet. Characters formed and she watched as the representation of her people's language appeared.



Like the past four times, bright rays of light shot out from the rotating spectacle straight into Cloud. He jerked and gritted his teeth as his form was engulfed in light. Shimmering rivulets shone through his veins, infusing him with power and light. He staggered under the force of it, but Yuffie caught him. She quickly decided he weighed a ton and she was too slight to hold him.

That was the moment creepy bitch decided to attack. Yuffie's eyes widened as the light of a spell filled her vision. Instinctively, she dropped to the ground, taking Cloud with her. Rolling him to his back, she leapt to her feet and grabbed up her weapon, crouching over the shaking warrior.

Her jaw gaped as the beautiful, albeit creepy murdering whore, had transformed into what Yuffie suspected was the chick's true form. Her beautiful ice-blonde locks were now green and writhing all around her head. Her eyes were stark and matched her hair, the pupils vertical slits. Her veins were black and showing through her sickly pale skin. On closer examination, Yuffie realized her hair was actually comprised of snakes.

Muttering the words, Yuffie cast Big Guard around Cloud and herself before Snake Chick could send another spell. Cloud was recovering and sitting up when her spell did come and Yuffie shoved him back down out of the way. She was hit with the full blast but only felt the familiar tingle that came with a nulled attack. It must've been a status-altering spell, she thought. That bitch.

Lifting a hand, Yuffie sent an Ice3 spell her way before quickly handing Cloud his sword. He sat up and they both stood as the Snake Chick was encased in several layers of ice. She roared as the ice exploded outward and threw a spell directly at Yuffie. It was moving too fast for her to think, but Cloud stepped in front of it, blocking the brunt of it with his sword.

However, with little time to accomplish the maneuver, Cloud looked at Snake Chick and was caught. And the bitch knew it. With a rather ugly smirk, the woman thing lifted a hand and blew on it. It send a gust of toxic powder over them, affecting Cloud profoundly while Yuffie, not at all.

At least, she didn't think so. While Cloud shook his head and rubbed his eyes as his skin started to flush, Yuffie realized she was standing in a puddle. Or what she thought was a puddle. Turning, she saw that water was not so slowly filling the cavern. She couldn't see its source.

Looking back at Cloud, she had a half-second to duck out of the way of his attack. She tucked into a ball and rolled back out of the way of his sword as it slashed at her waist. Rolling into a crouch she blinked at Cloud. "Cloud, wha—?" But he was still coming at her, swinging away.

Quickly she back flipped a few feet away, giving her time to raise her Conformer to block his downward slash. She caught a glimpse of his eyes then and they were glazed in confusion and rage. Evil Chick took that moment to attack and more dust settled over them. Cloud's eyelids drooped and his strength slackened. Yuffie watched horrified as his arms dropped and his sword felt to the ground as he slumped over her, asleep. She shrank down under his deadweight and realized the water had reached their knees.

Panicked, she noted she could now hear it gurgling and sloshing as the cavern quickly filled. She didn't even know if it was an illusion or real. Shifting Cloud to the side, she saw the woman smirking. Narrowing her eyes in determination, Yuffie shifted Cloud up and started dragging him to the side. It was slow-going, but the Snake Chick seemed content to watch them struggle.

Which was good, since Yuffie needed to get him to high ground. However, after a few moments, she looked up and around and realized they weren't getting any closer to the walls of the cavern. The water was up to her waist but with Cloud on his knees, his head and shoulders were barely above that. Checking her materia, she realized none of it would work. She needed a Summon.

Searching the ground, she found Cloud's sword a few feet away. Carefully shifting Cloud to the side, she reached for it. It was a true test of will to yank the heavy thing close enough while holding up its owner. As soon as she could lift it, she slid it into his back holster and went for the materia.

Quickly in succession, she cast Heal on Cloud and then called forth Typhoon. Gripping Cloud, she held him aloft as they disappeared into the shadows. He was slowly waking as they floated above, Typhoon releasing his horrid Sneeze Attack and blasting away the fast rising water.

Cloud was startled into awareness as he realized they were airborne. His attention was caught by Yuffie as she yanked the Ribbon from her arm. "What are you doing?"

She gestured for him to lift his arm. "Take it. You can't finish her without it."
She shook her head, cutting him off. "We can't leave the way we came in." She spoke briskly as she tied the Ribbon around his upper arm. "I'll search the cave for a way out while you handle her. And I'm sure if she puts me to sleep, you'll have a better time carrying me, then me lugging your heavy ass around." Cloud still made to protest but she wouldn't let him. "It makes sense, Cloud. I'm quicker and I can dodge her dumbass spells better. Just concentrate on handing her her ass." With a cocky smirk, they disappeared as Typhoon finished its attack and returned to the ground.

Yuffie took off immediately and after watching her disappear into shadows, Cloud turned and cast Scan.

HP: 306,001/350,000
MP: 999,999/999,999
Weaknesses: Slow, Dark, Stop, Poison, Paralyze, Aero

Narrowing his eyes, Cloud cast Haste and renewed his Big Guard before launching a full out attack. Energized at the fact she no longer paralyzed him with a look, he attacked her from all sides, aware of Yuffie along the perimeter and wanting to keep the woman's attention away from the shadows.

Meanwhile, Yuffie managed to escape the center area and was feeling along the walls. She cursed as she wanted to cast fire but that would call attention to her. She didn't know why, but she had a desperate feeling they'd need a quick getaway once Snake Chick was toast. She couldn't quell a cry of relief as she found a loose boulder propped up under a small hole. Hopping up to it, she peered into the opening and found it opened up into a rocky tunnel. Elated at her success, she turned to call to Cloud.

"Cloud!" But as soon as she said it, music filled the cavern, a beautiful song echoing along the walls. Yuffie swayed before shaking herself. But it was no use. She slumped to her knee as she lost consciousness.



He was staring at the sky. The vast blue covered in puffy white clouds was still so different from the blue of the ocean surrounding their island. He didn't know why he was fascinated by the colors or their different hues. He was too young to wonder about them. All he knew was they swirled and mixed everywhere he went.

Crows dotted the horizon and he frowned. His nanny said those were bad omens.

"Ryuu!" His head turned to see his sister waiting at the bottom of the hill. She had her tiny fists resting on her hips and she looked angry. But then she looked like that more often than not so it was a comfort. "Papa wants us back home. Are you staring at the clouds again?"

Happily, he ran, half-skipping down to her. "There's crows. Lena says that's a bad almond."

She rolled her eyes at him. "It's bad 'omen', baka. And there's always crows. We better go inside though before they peck your eyes out." She made her voice scary at the end and lifted her hands above her head into claws.

Ryuu screeched and ran, his sister laughing as she chased him back to the house.

Hearing an echoing shout, the hooded figure turned abruptly. Narrowing his eyes, he realized it came from the cavern below. Lifting a hand he flashed with a pulsing energy not his own. At least not yet.

Knowing the illusions they suffered from, he sent the energy back the way he came, deciding to give his unsuspecting pursuers the real thing. As he heard the ensuing vibrations from the distant rush of water, he turned away with mirthless laugh.



Cloud heard Yuffie's shout, but he couldn't see her. Distracted, he took a lightning spell to the chest with an 'oof!' Fighting through the sizzling pain, he cast scan and found Siren was one good summon from being toast. It had to be why the singing started. It did not affect him, but Yuffie was not immune any longer.

Casting Tornado on her, he turned away and searched the cavern for Yuffie. His heart nearly stopped as he saw her slumped over against one wall. It did stop when he saw the rush of water burst from a hole directly above her. Leaping towards her, he lifted her into his arms and jumped away from the spigot.

Siren was positively flashing with anger then, the kind that comes from desperation and the need to survive. Cloud knew she'd go for Yuffie as soon as he saw her and summoned Hades right as she launched a lightning spell at them. It was the work of milliseconds as they disappeared and the spell hit where they were once standing.

As the spectacle of Hades and his melting pot of status ailments went off below, Cloud tried to revive Yuffie. Casting Heal, he watched as she slowly woke.

Fluttering her lashes, she looked up at him. "C-Cloud?"
"We have to get out of here." He refused to relax or show his relief until they were out of the cave. "Let me see your bracer." She frowned slightly but complied. Cloud pulled the Sleep materia from his weapon and junctioned it to her armlet, coupled with added effect. "She should be finished off with this attack, but I'm not taking chances. We need to get out of here."

Yuffie looked around and saw water flooding through the hole she found with some dismay. "That was our exit." Cloud's gaze followed hers.
"Can you expand it?"
She frowned. "What?"
"Make it bigger. That water can't have always been there or it would have been running since we got here. It has to run out eventually."
"Yeah, but we might end up drowning before that happens."
"We'll drown anyway if we don't do something."
The spell was ending. Yuffie sighed. "Alright, I'll try."

As they returned to the ground, Yuffie leapt away towards the hole. Cloud braced himself as Siren still stood. Then she stumbled and fell to her knee. Cloud didn't trust it and continued to watch her. Her piercing song started up again, only this time it reached painful heights. Acute pain exploded in his ears as Cloud fell to his knee. Across the cavern, Yuffie did the same, crying out as she covered her ears. "Cloud!"

Anguish echoed through him at her cry and in desperation, he lifted his sword. With a roar, he charged the fading woman. Slashing downward, he watched with relief as she finally disappeared in red light. Silence reigned supreme for a moment. Yuffie's ears popped as she uncovered her ears and rose. She watched Cloud rise and turn to face her. She met his eyes across the cavern for one long moment.

Sound abruptly returned and the rushing water reminded her of her task. Breaking their gaze, Yuffie turned to their escape turned water spigot. Taking a deep breath, she cast earth. The cavern started to shake as she watched the hole widen. Water rushed in faster. Rocks started to rain down around her. She lost her concentration completely as she was hit from the side and thrown to the ground. Cloud covered her as she tried to regain her breath.

"Cloud, what—?"
"We need to get out of here. Now."
"Well, that was what I was trying to do!"
"And nearly got flattened by a rock." His tone was flat, not showing just how scared he'd been at the fact. "Can you slow the waterflow?"
She frowned and mentally sorted through her bank of materia. "I can try."

He lifted off of her and helped her rise. She turned to the widened spigot and lifted her hands, casting Slow. The waterfall slowed to a crawl. Yuffie sweated under the force and the concentration it took to keep it active.

"You got it?" Cloud stood right behind her.
She grunted an affirmative. She felt his arms wrap around her middle then, a second before he leaped to the hole. Using one hand, he found purchase on the wall above it and hung them there, his feet bracing their weight against the wet stone.
She nodded.

Tightening his hold on her, he swung them down into the outpouring. They clung to the slippery sides of the opening, forcing themselves through one step at a time. Yuffie's lungs were burning as they exited the hole and found the more level ground of the tunnel. Scrambling as she felt the spell wearing off, she searched for the surface. She slipped out of Cloud's grasp then, but it was blessing as her hands shot out and into a pocket of air.

Lunging for it, she found a small alcove near the ceiling of the tunnel that the water couldn't reach as it emptied into the cavern below. As her head broke the surface, she took in great gulps of air before turning to search for Cloud. It was dark in the tunnel and she couldn't see anything though.

Gripping the stone nearby, she plunged back into the rushing water and sought Cloud with a searching hand. After a minute of absolutely nothing, she choked on a sob. Cloud, do not do this to me, she though panicked. Just when she was about to surface for air, something grabbed her. Their grip firmed and she yanked on it, pulling it with her out of the rushing water.

Cloud fell against the high rock with her as she collapsed, gasping and, to her immense embarrassment, sobbing. She never cried. Not since Aerith died and before that not since her mother passed away. She always felt stupid and weak with tears running down her face. What would Cloud think of her?

To hide her humiliation, she hit him. He was still taking deep gulps of air, his biceps flexing as he slowly lifted himself upright. He tilted his head towards her as she punctuated her statement with her fist.

"Don't do that! Don't you ever leave me like that, Cloud! I mean it. I can't—I can't—it's not—you can't—" She threw herself into his arms then.

He gave a grunt as she dislodged some water still in his chest. Shaking, he wrapped his arms around her trembling form. He couldn't speak at the moment, but he felt the same desperation as her. Thanking their luck, he simply held her tight as they waited for the water to pass.



A/N: Let me know if you're looking forward to more ;) Oh and don't forget to check out my brand new trailer for Part II if you haven't already - the link is at the top of my user profile.

EDIT: Thanks to Music Lover Always for their tersely worded help with some of the Japanese translation. I did warn you all I'm not perfect, but I am eager to learn.