The wandering soul knows no rest.

Cloud always heard that people who had near death experiences and came back say their lives flashed before their eyes. He should have known he'd be different; he was pumped full of stuff that wasn't natural. When did anything ever go right for him?

When Cloud's life ended, it happened in haze of sparkling green.

There is no hate, only joy

For you are beloved by the goddess

Hero of the dawn, Healer of worlds

He lay on something soft, confused. Hadn't he died? Why was he quoting Loveless in the back of his mind? He couldn't help a small smile steal across his face, not even bothering to open his eyes yet. He felt too heavy and comfortable to think of moving.

The book, called Loveless, had been a complete impulse buy. He'd been at a small shop in Kalm. He'd almost passed it up at first, the words completely worn from the binding.

He'd grabbed it up and after flipping through it bought it on a whim. He had quickly come to enjoy the book, it helped that whoever had owned the book before him had written in the margins. Neat script flowed throughout the entire book and even the end had annotations. Actually the previous owner had written his own ending and it was heart wrenching.

Every time he'd read Loveless, Cloud had wanted to embrace the person before and let him know he wasn't alone and let him know that the book helped him also. He wished he could just meet the person.

"C'mon Spikey! Just open up for me."

Cloud jerked up, head smacking into the person above him, although he vaguely registered no pain. His eyes locked onto clear blue.

"Zack….what?" Cloud allowed his eyes to trace over his friend's face, Gaia, had he missed him!

Zack grinned brightly, running a hand through his hair, "You died Cloudy-boy…. It's up to you if you stay that way though."

"Zack? What do you mean, stay that way?" Unknowingly he tilted his head in a way resembling a puppy.

Zack plopped down across from him, crossing his legs in front of him, face uncharacteristically tense and forlorn.

"Seph's not here, Cloud."

Cloud froze in shock. That wasn't possible! He'd killed Sephiroth, he'd killed the remnants. Where else would he be? Surely he'd be here in the life stream, back to his old self….the Sephiroth they were friends with?

"The planet decided that his crimes were too great to allow him rest in the life stream. She…eradicated him….he's gone Spike."

Cloud stared at Zack's sorrowful face in shock, that…. "No! That's not fair! Zack! He deserves to be here! It wasn't his fault that Jenova took over, you know that!"

He was shocked when arms closed around him in a hug, "That's why I'm here and why I was sent to meet you. You have a choice Spike. You can stay here in the life stream with us, or…" Zack trailed off, and Cloud's interest was piqued.

"Or what?"

"You can go back Cloud. The planet has offered to send you back to when you joined as a Cadet so you have a chance to change things. Make them better if you want because it is your decision Cloud. No one can make it for you."

Cloud allowed his eyes to focus on his friend as he thought about it. It wasn't right that Sephiroth wasn't here; death should have been his escape. He was glad that the Planet believed in him again, but could he do it.

Could he, Cloud Strife, become a Cadet and somehow fix the things that went wrong? Keep Sephiroth from losing his mind? Keep Angeal with Zack. He doubted it. But, maybe… Just maybe…

To spare the sands, the seas, the skies

I offer thee this silent sacrifice

Author's Note: So eventually this will be Genesis/Cloud. Because of this I'm going to play around with the time line a bit. The age of new recruits into the SOLDIER program is now 16. As I won't feel like an utter creep then. LOL

Hope you Enjoyed it? The italicized parts are from Loveless.

Beta'd by the beautiful TheLadyBlackDove200 here on ff. If you like Buffy fanfiction scoot on over and check out her stuff.

Edited again on 3/24/2012