Summary: Cloud finds himself back when he just failed the SOLDIER exam. Sephiroth finds himself with a new secretary. Oh dear.

Note: This story will be told in short chapters. After reading forthright's Clutter (check it out btw if you're interested in Inuyasha, it's wonderful), I wanted to try something similar. I'm not going to be doing the whole 100-word per chapter thing, as I'm definitely not at the skill level to effectively tell a story with so few words yet, haha. Instead, I've decided to do one scene per chapter. So no, this will definitely not be an epic long story on the level of imushi's Green Dreams or Sinnatious' The Fifth Act. Sigh, if only I was that good.

Anyway, enjoy!

ch1: cloud falls through the rabbit-hole

Lately, he had been having the same dream over and over.

Not that he's remembered what the dreams had been about, but the feeling when he woke up, that wispy touch of urgency and determination leaving him as whatever disjointed remnants of a plotline left his mind when reality entered, it was always the same feeling. He would try to grasp at the story, feeling like if he just closed his eyes again and thought about it a bit harder, he might just touch it and everything might just come back to him. But nothing. Just that nagging feeling, coiling to the bottom of his stomach, hidden but still there, promising him that there was something left for him to do...

Cloud didn't think too much of it; he knew there were times that his grasp of reality was a tad... delicate. Not to say he was insane (though he wasn't denying either), but there would be times he would see a flash of silver out of the corner of his eye and immediately twitch towards the direction as if he would find the blade of a sword of a certain distinctive man right there behind him. Sometimes, when people asked for his name or age, he would almost blurt out the wrong number or name, catching the offending phrase at the tip of the tongue just as he remembered he was Cloud, not anyone else, just Cloud. He still had flashes of memory of living in a tank of mako, never really alive but never really dead. But he never told anyone about it, and just went on.

And then, one day, he woke up in the cold silver and wood structure of a bunk bed.

Immediately, his eyes swept the place when he realized he wasn't in the same bed that he had lied in the night before, looking for possible weapons, escape routes, wondering why the room seemed so oddly familiar-maybe this was yet another dream of his?-when he realized there was someone calling his name.

"Cloud? Hey man. Are you awake?"

Looking to his right, he suddenly noticed the boy standing there, waiting. There was a look of shame, concern, and utter discomfort on his face as he looked at everything but Cloud's face. It was obvious the boy wanted to be anywhere but there. But... who was he? And how did he know him?

Cloud stayed silent and waited. In situations like this, where he didn't have any information, usually this was the best tactic. People assumed what they wanted to hear and on lucky, rare occasions, would fill in the blanks. In fact, the boy didn't even look like he wanted to hear Cloud's response, just that he wanted to escape as soon as possible.

"Look, um, I'm sorry about yesterday. About everything. Especially, yeah," he made a vague gesture towards Cloud's head, "your hair. Here-it's some money to compensate for a good decent haircut."

Hair? As if that wasn't the most random thing... What about his hair?

At Cloud's lack of response, the boy continued to talk. "Also, it's real unfortunate that you didn't get in. I mean, you can always try next year? Right? Just aim for that; I'm sure you'll get into SOLDIER next year. Yeah, maybe I'll see you around."

Without a look back, the boy immediately left Cloud alone in the room. Well, as if that hadn't been the oddest apology... and for what? Hair? No, there was definitely something else in that speech that Cloud had just missed.

Cloud crossed his legs and looked at the wall opposite him thoughtfully as he went over the words.


Did the boy just say SOLDIER?