Hello everyone, welcome to Afterlife. I'm of course taking my inspiration from the song of the same name by Avenged Sevenfold. I love them, despite how dark some of their lyrics can be, and this was the first song I heard by them. Yeah, I started listening to them a bit late, but better late than never, right?

Author's Note: This story starts off just before the ending of Advent Children, and right after the explosion cause by Loz and Yazoo. Cloud is dead, and Aerith is there to greet him on the other side. I switched up the story line of Advent Children for this one, and made my own little scenerio for what happens to Cloud. I'm allowed to do that, it's fanfiction.

Disclaimer: This will the same usual, boring thing. I do not own Final Fantasy, blah blah blah.

finalflash1992, this one's for you.


"I don't belong here; I've got to move on dear. Escape from this afterlife, 'cause this time I'm right to move on and on, far away from here. I've got nothing against you and surely, I'll miss you. This place full of peace and light and I hope you might take me back inside when the time is right." - Afterlife, from Avenged Sevenfold


Afterlife

Chapter I

I'm falling.

Falling into a deep, dark and unfathomable abyss...at least, I think I'm falling. I can feel no air moving around me, but there is an unmistakable feeling of weightlessness. There are no sounds surrounding me either, the only sound I can hear is the last frantic beats of my rapidly fading heart. Nevertheless, there is pain, excruciating and unbearable pain throughout my entire body.

I must be dying.

Fear crashes over me like a tidal wave with that realization. It isn't a fear of death itself, the fear is of the finality of death. This is it, there's no going back from here. I'll never see Tifa again, I'll never be able to explain to her why I left…I'll never be able to tell her that I love her. Never…

Suddenly, darkness turns to light, bright, white and consuming. The pain drains away, my heart stops beating. It takes a moment for my eyes to adjust, and once they do, I can fully take in my surroundings. It's almost like a dream. I'm standing in a field of flowers, one that seems to stretch endlessly in each direction.

I'm not alone, standing not far from me is a lone women. She's facing away from me and wearing a soft pink dress, her dark brown hair falling in a neat plait down her back.

Aerith…

I begin to walk forward slowly, careful not to trample too many of the flowers underfoot. She turns around at the sound of my footsteps, her long brown hair swinging behind her. She smiles at me lightly, but doesn't look very happy to see me.

"Hello, Cloud." she says quietly.

"Where am I?" I ask franticly, ignoring her greeting.

"The Promised Land." she replies, a faint smile teasing at her lips.

"So…this is the end?" I ask, trying to keep panic from my voice.

"No." she answers kindly. "You are dead, do not be mistaken, but you've been given a choice. When Sephiroth killed you, he also killed the part of himself that resided inside you. Your soul is clean now, free of his stain. You can choose to go on to the other side, to the Lifestream and to Paradise, or you can go back to the mortal world…to Tifa."

My eyes widen at her last words, I'm unable to contain my surprise. Aerith simply laughs. It is a high and pealing sound, one that seems to fill up the empty space around us.

"You've always loved her. And you were never good at hiding it, because for a man who tries to keep his true feelings to himself, you seem to wear your heart on your sleeve an awful lot, Cloud."

Silence falls between us, weighing heavy on the peaceful surroundings. I let my eyes wander; I'm unable to look at Aerith, unable to have her kind eyes meet mine.

"I can't stay here, Aerith." I say finally. "I don't belong here. I have to leave."

"Are you sure that's what you want?" she asks quietly.

"Yes." I reply, finally finding the resolve to look her in the eyes. "I want to go back, I need to make things right, I need to tell Tifa everything…that I love her."

"Then go to her." she replies, smiling. "Your destinies are intertwined. You belong with her, and she with you. But be warned, there is darkness beyond this place of peace and light. It will not be easy getting back."

"What's beyond the light?" I ask, my tone solemn.

"Your personal demons, your fears. Your worst nightmares lie behind this veil of light. Are you ready to enter the darkness, and the greatest fight of your life?"

"Yes." I answer immediately. "I'll do anything to make it back."

She stares at me for a moment, scrutinizing me, a wide smile spreading across her face.

"Then why are you still standing here?" she asks, grinning.

Smiling lightly, I turn away from her. I draw in a few measured breaths, and roll my shoulders.

"Aerith?" I ask, keeping my back turned to her. "Will I ever see you again? Will I return here?"

"Yes, but when the time is right."

I nod my head slightly, a wide smile spreading across my face. I draw in a few measured breaths, and roll my shoulders several times, loosening the muscles.

"I'll miss you, Aerith." I say, my voice barely audible.

"You don't have to, Cloud. I'm always with you. Now go, I'll open the way for you."

At her final word, I take off running, fast, furious, and at full tilt, with nothing in front of me but the endless expanse of white. Then, suddenly, a small, black dot appears on the horizon. I increase my speed, running faster than I ever have before; there is no pain, no fatigue to slow me.

I soon realize another set of feet pounding along next to mine. I look down to see a large, gray wolf running with me, his powerful muscles roiling with every graceful stride. There's something oddly familiar about him, the way his fur sticks up in every direction, his shocking blue eyes, eyes like mine…

"Zack?" I ask quietly, my voice even despite my running.

My question is answered with a series of short growls, a sound imitating laughter. I smile down at my old friend, glad to have his company.

The black hole is becoming bigger by the second, and is now only a few hundred feet ahead of us, deep and starkly contrasted against the white horizon. Anyone else would have slowed down, taken their time to enter this black void, but not me. Because for me, happiness lies beyond the barrier. I increase my speed even more, now practically flying over the flower-ridden landscape. The distance between the portal and I closes rapidly, a hundred feet, fifty feet, twenty feet…

With a final burst of speed, and an encouraging yelp from Zack, I jump through the portal and into the darkness.


Ah, cliffhangers, don't you love them? Yeah, neither do I.
Anyway, chapter 2 should be up soon enough. I hope everyone liked this little teaser of a chapter. Please review!

~CLOUDxTIFAforever