So I started writing this a while ago when I got really bored (we're talking a year here) and was on an obsessive Squall/Cloud high. I like to play around with characters in already created situations because otherwise I tend to just completely burn out really quickly, so I figured I'd kind of mash worlds together here. We're in Gaia, it's mainly based upon the world of FFVII but with some FFVIII components mixed in. The Ultimecia debacle happened a while ago, stuff happened. Now we're in Meteorfall time. Since this is yaoi, no real mentions of Rinoa. If you're not all that interested I suggest not reading it, so there we go. If you do think it's kind of cool and end up reading it, a review would be decent and might give me a kick up the arse to attempt writing more.

This seems particularly like the first part of the game even in the dialogue but don't worry, that'll change once things start rolling.

Cloud had no idea why he was here. The old him never would have had the guts to come out and do this mission, not that he would even know that himself. Just moments before he had wondered about this, he'd jumped off the roof of a train and onto the platform below. Ah, that's it. He remembered now. It was all about the money.

Just days before he'd been hired to do some work with the local terrorist organisation, AVELANCHE. Well, they actually called themselves 'Eco-warriors', but that was none of his concern really. They had offered him a decent amount of money and a place to stay, so he was hardly going to say no. However, he was a bit bitter that someone else would be infringing on that payment. He wasn't the only one who'd been hired.

Some angsty little SeeD. He'd jumped off the roof just after Cloud had, putting the gunblade he was holding back in its sheath once he'd checked there were no threats. A gunblade. Such a pretentious weapon, no one used them because they were just so tedious and hard to master; anyone who tried usually got a broken wrist. That was enough to deter them. Still, he had heard SeeDs were a bit funny in the head. This one seemed incredibly introverted, they had barely spoken two words to each other. That was probably better than the rest of them though. He had to admit that, despite his general opinion of the mercenaries, he was at least a little bit jealous of just how much this man got paid.

He sighed and looked around the empty platform. It seemed that the others had already set off ahead of them. That was gratitude for you. He refrained from taking the enormous weapon off his back, he knew he'd have quick enough reactions to reach it easily if there was a threat.

He glanced at the SeeD, "Come on. We don't have time to stand around here." He didn't wait for an answer, setting off into the reactor instead. He could hear the footsteps behind him though, so he was obviously being listened to. That was good, at least he knew who was in charge.

He met up with three of the resistance members once they had gone inside. Who knew why they were all stood together, the leader was always completely adamant about nobody standing too close in case they were discovered. Cloud knew this was probably a bit extreme, but also didn't particularly care.

"You're a SOLDIER, aren't you?" The lone female of the group stepped forward, looking at Cloud and cocking her head curiously. She didn't seem to know how to act around him. He barely even reacted, if he had he just would have rolled his eyes. He sure as hell wasn't a SOLDIER any more, and he obviously wouldn't be hanging around them if he was. Luckily one of the men with her stepped in for him once the silence began to get awkward. Cloud recognised him, his name was Biggs if he remembered correctly.

"Leave it, Jessie. He used to be a SOLDIER, but not any more. He's one of us now, right?" He frowned a little bit, looking at Cloud more closely, "Didn't catch your name, though, Ex-SOLDIER... care to dish it out?"

Cloud sighed, he had no choice but to reply to this one, "...Cloud Strife." He didn't like having to announce his name for anyone who asked, it made him feel like he was back in the army. He heard a slight snort from behind him. He didn't see what was so amusing.

"And that's Squall behind you, right?" The man he presumed to be Biggs carried on talking, despite the fact that Cloud was in no mood to have a conversation. He just shrugged.

"Probably." Biggs looked a little bit less amicable now, but still tried to have some sort of introductory conversation with him just so that they wouldn't all fall into awkward silence.

"Cloud, eh? I'm..." Cloud cut him off right then and there, he had no reason to listen to all of this. He held up his hand, watching as the man's words died in his throat.

"Don't bother, I don't care what any of your names are. Once this job's over, I'm getting outta this place." Everyone looked a bit awkward after that. Some small part of himself felt ashamed for being so mean, but it was probably easier this way. He wasn't going to be here for long, there was no point in getting all cosy with some random strangers who he happened to work with for a few days.

While they all stood there in the sudden silence, the heavy-set, muscular leader of AVELANCHE suddenly ran over. Cloud assumed he had been getting things ready, it was the easiest way to explain away his absence after they'd departed from the train. This was the only man whose name he actually remembered. Barret Wallace. He was black-skinned and looked to be in his mid thirties, clad in just a dirty brown vest with some green trousers. He wore large brown boots too, the ends of the trousers tucked into them scruffily. From what Cloud could tell he couldn't really afford anything less shabby. He had several metal bands around his waist, although it was unclear what they were for as they certainly weren't connected to the trousers to hold them up so he could say goodbye to the notion that it was some kind of belt. The same metal bands, although smaller, were also attached to his left wrist, with several indents in for storing materia. He didn't seem to have any, though. The other arm was not an arm at all, but had a complicated machine gun mounted into it. The attachments were assumedly interchangeable. There was a tattoo visible on his left shoulder, although in the current lighting it was difficult to tell what it depicted. He had some marks on his face as well, but instead of tattoos his cheek was adorned with three scars. For a moment Cloud wondered where he had managed to get them, but there wasn't much point in asking. He wasn't quite that curious.

"The hell you all doin'!" Barret seemed to be quite angry, although it was understandable. He obviously had wanted them to make better use of their time, instead of standing around and socialising. Cloud would have been happy to oblige. "You should know by now, I told you a thousand times! Never move in a group!" He shook his head, looking quite stressed, "C'mon. We'll meet further in." He ran off back the way he'd come, the others starting to follow. They stayed a little while though, going in smaller groups so they would still have some protection.

Cloud noticed he'd been left with Squall. While this other man looked to be fairly normal SeeD material the word on the street was that he was apparently a hero. There had been some kind of threat that he'd stopped in its tracks about four years ago. Cloud hadn't heard anything about it, although truth be told those years were kind of fuzzy. He had probably been out on some important mission for the company. Yeah, that was right...

He kept giving Squall quick glances as they walked. The man was probably around a year younger than him, perhaps the same age if he took into consideration that he wasn't really the best judge of this sort of thing. The bomber jacket he was wearing was quite distinctive, black leather with a fur lined collar. There was a low-cut shirt underneath it, white and fairly thin, presumably so that he didn't get too warm under that jacket. Hanging around his neck was a silver chain, the pendant attached to it seeming to have some lion-esque features. His legs were covered by long, black leather trousers. Cloud felt it was a bit overkill that they were held up by three interconnecting red belts that hung carelessly off his waist. There were more belts around one of his thighs, which also seemed excessive. His hands and feet were covered by leather gloves and boots respectively, the same colour as his jacket and trousers. He seemed to really like leather. His hair was dark brown, the ends just about reaching his shoulders. Cloud spotted a ring on one of his fingers, it seemed similar to the pendant. The same wild, feline features. He felt that he had perhaps been watching him for too long now so looked away quickly. He needed to focus on the mission and some mercenary was going to have no part in distracting him from it.

After a few minutes of silent walking they all met Barret once more. Strangely enough he seemed to deem it safe to stay in a group for the time being. The muscular man looked around at all of them, checking that everyone had got there. His eyes met each person's in turn, finally settling on Cloud.

"Yo!" Cloud looked up when Barret suddenly spoke, "This your first time in a reactor?"

"No." What kind of stupid question was that? This man obviously knew that Cloud was an ex-SOLDIER, First Class at that. It didn't take much to find out, all he had to do was check the hue of the uniform he was wearing. The uniform he still hadn't wanted to take off... "I did work for Shinra, y'know. First Class." Barret seemed to ignore most of what he said though, apparently he just felt like explaining things.

"Did'ja know the planet's full of Mako energy?" Yes, he did. He didn't need this reaffirmed, "People here use it every single day, makes things so easy for everyone." Barret frowned, folding his arms, "But it's also the life blood of the planet. Doesn't stop Shinra from suckin' the blood out with these goddamn machines, though." Cloud rolled his eyes, he didn't need basic science explained to him with a layer of anti-Shinra crap. He'd been to school, and had no real opinion on the company any more. Neither were useful to him.

"I'm not here for a lecture." He sighed, running his hands through his spikes before carrying on, "Let's just hurry up and do this." He knew they probably had a time frame, and he'd prefer to stick to it so that he didn't get killed. The others could do what they wanted, but he wanted to get paid. Barret didn't seem to take too kindly to this though.

"You're comin' with me from now on, and nunna your bitchin'." Oh dear. It was apparent that he had managed to get on this man's bad side. He heard a slight chuckle from Squall, and that annoyed him. Surely he must share the sentiment? He could have spoken up. He sighed as Barret dragged him off, he was obviously being separated from the group. Weirdly enough Squall followed them. After some thought Cloud supposed that made sense, that way the groups were split in half. They were the three who would end up being in combat after all, the other three were just setting everything up to be easier for them.

As they traversed through the reactor, Cloud couldn't help but get this constant sense of deja vu. While he said that he'd been in reactors now he was becoming more and more aware of the fact that he couldn't really remember any of those times. Except... everything seemed so familiar. It had caused him to answer quickly earlier without really thinking it through.

After getting through a few different rounds of security with the help of the other group, they ended up in an elevator. Squall had gone over and pressed one of the buttons, at which point the elevator had begun to slowly start moving. Cloud hoped it wouldn't be quite this slow on the way back.

"All these reactors'll slowly drain out all the life, so slow people don't notice. Once they're done, that'll be that." Oh great. Barret was giving him some more basic science with anti-government propaganda sprinkled in for good measure.

"It's not my problem." Perhaps that was a bit harsh, but this was way too much lecturing when he just wanted to get a fairly simple mission done so he could get himself some cash. The job description hadn't involved getting his ear talked off.

"The planet's dyin', Cloud! Don'tcha even care?" Barret seemed appalled that the ex-SOLDIER didn't even seem to care about the state of their planet. Even the SeeD looked a bit shocked.

"You know what I care about?" He may as well stay consistent, even if he didn't like the sound of their entire earth crumbling underneath them, "Finishing this job before all the security ends up right on top of us. Can't do shit if you're dead, right?" He watched as Barret turned away, shaking with fury. His fists were clenched, he actually looked as if he might strike out at something. Or someone. Cloud stood his ground, despite the fact that he would have quite liked to step back just slightly. He felt some space between them would have been a nice thing to have. Eventually Barret looked back over his shoulder, by which point the elevator was slowing to a stop. The doors opened with a ping and Cloud just left quickly so they were in a less contained area. The lack of space had been making him a bit claustrophobic, and worrying about Barret getting violent had done nothing for his nerves. He had been hiding it quite well though, this phobia wasn't something he wanted to advertise to everyone.

They continued further into the reactor, quickly dealing with any guards that came their way. They had to do some climbing to get down to the reactor core but that didn't slow them down much. Cloud was definitely well trained enough to get down all of the ladders as quickly as he could and Squall seemed to manage it about the same. Barret was just used to doing this, he supposed, since the man managed to keep up with them easily despite his bulkier frame. Cloud mainly let himself go into auto-pilot as they made their way there, since there wasn't anything that he found particularly challenging.

"Cloud." He looked up, blinking when Barret began to talk to him again, "Set the bomb. It's time to blow this place to the ground." He frowned, he was sure that wasn't in his job description. He figured that the leader would be in charge of doing something like that.

"Shouldn't you do it?" His eyes narrowed slightly, he didn't appreciate having this sprung on him. Not that he cared either way, he just would have appreciated some warning. Or the SeeD could have done it...

Barret didn't take too kindly to being questioned, however lightly, "Jus' do it! In the meantime, I'll watch to make sure you don't pull nothin'. Can't trust you Shinra types." It was obvious he wasn't trusted. Ex-SOLDIER, and all that. It was understandable and he begrudgingly accepted it.

"Fine, I'll do it." He grabbed the bomb and began to move to set it at the reactor core.

A sudden pain flared up in his brain. Flashes of another reactor came and went spasmodically, words he couldn't quite make out echoing in his mind. It was as if something was trying to remind him, perhaps even warn him of something. It stopped just as abruptly as it had started. He opened his eyes, not having realised until now that they had been screwed up tightly. His hands were clutching his head, and he was on his knees a few feet away from the core he had to strap the bomb to. He slowly relaxed his hands, starting to get up. He glanced around, but didn't meet anyone's eyes, feeling embarrassed about the fact that they had witnessed whatever had just taken place.

"What's up?" He wished he knew. Barret was watching him, hiding any concern he may have had. Cloud just shook his head, noticing that Squall or whatever his name was staring at him as well. He really wished they wouldn't, he had just had a momentary lapse. He thought so, anyway. It seemed reasonable.

"Nothing, sorry." He frowned inwardly, not quite knowing why he'd just apologised. He had no reason to and it was rather unlike him. He shook his head and set the bomb, backing away from the reactor core once he'd finished. A blaring alarm had just started up at an almost deafening volume, red lights flashing all around them. It caught him by surprise, causing him to shield his eyes slightly to stop all the intrusive, dazzling lights from blinding him.

"Heads up, they're comin' this way!" Barret yelled. He'd turned while the others were getting acclimatised to the lights causing bright spots to burst out behind their eyes and seen an enormous, six legged robo-guard advancing towards them. While they'd been occupied he had fired a few warning shots at it, gesturing for the others to turn and fight. Squall was ready a few seconds ahead of the blonde, getting his gunblade ready for battle. Cloud soon joined them, pulling his sword off his back. He knew his help would probably be needed, this robot looked particularly vicious. Its design was reminiscent of a scorpion, the stinger its live counterpart would normally have replaced by a large, rather nasty looking drill. It had two rail-guns mounted on either side of the main 'body', and even the mechanised talons holding it up seemed razor sharp. A safety hazard indeed. Well, that was what it was designed for.

Cloud checked the strip of metal wrapped around his wrist, perusing his rather meagre selection of materia for something that might help. He knew he could just hack the scorpion into pieces with his sword, but if any of these could get the job done faster that would be a great help. He eventually settled on trying out Bolt, hoping that it might mess up the electronics in the guard robot. The crackle of lightning that hit it did seem to work, but not quite as effectively as he'd hoped. He supposed it was silly to think that one blast of electricity would have been enough to bring it down, so he kept trying that between sword slashes. He made sure to not get in the way of any stray bullets or swipes from the gunblade, more for his own safety than ruining their chances. This would still have been fairly easy on his own and he felt that he could probably have dealt with the fight himself if it weren't for the fact that they had been ambushed.

After a few minutes they managed to bring the guard scorpion down, at which point Cloud looked around at the other two.

"C'mon, let's get outta here." He tried to keep his cool, even if he knew they only had around ten minutes to safely get all the way back past the entrance and make sure the others had joined them. Barret nodded and went ahead, leaving Squall and the blonde to rush after him. They met up with the others on the way back, although Jessie managed to get her leg caught in one of the larger grates about half way through. Cloud had pulled her out on the way past, making sure not to let her leg catch on it and cause a serious injury. They wouldn't make it out if that happened, not without leaving her behind. Even if he didn't care for these people he wasn't going to be responsible for a death.

As they all sprinted away from the reactor together, it emitted a wide ring of fire from its base as it exploded magnificently. The combustion and flamed looked spectacular in the night sky, visible even a few miles away from Midgar. The damage to the surrounding area was catastrophic, but the moment of destruction had been simply amazing to behold.