Desertion

The two of us sat in the back of an old rusted truck. I had my back pressed against the part of the truck with the barred window that led to the driver's compartment. A familiar person with gold colored hair that was spiked up and looked like a bunch of chocobo feathers leaned against me. He was only twenty one years old, though he looked much younger. I myself had black hair that was spiked back with only a small section of it falling forward into my face. I was twenty three years old. Four years of our life were taken away by Shin-Ra, twisted and distorted, then injected full of mako. All we felt for those four years was pain, intense agonizing pain and then yet another year was spent on the run from the very corporation that we once worked for.

My eyes trailed down to look at the mess of blonde spikes leaning against my chest. I reached out my hand and ruffled his hair. He gave an unconscious moan and his eyes fluttered open. For a split second I caught a glimpse of blue, like the vast sky or the infinite ocean. But this sign of life only lasted for a moment, and then he went back to the still, lifeless, shell of a person I'd known for the past year.

I moved my hand from his spiky hair and wrapped it around his waist, pulling his head closer to mine so that I could whisper in his ear. "Don't worry Cloud, we're gonna get out of this alive… both of us are. " He gave a small groan, and I nodded, letting him rest against me again. "Go ahead and get some sleep. Don't worry, I'll be here when you wake up," but I didn't need to tell him that, because he was already fast asleep, snoring softly. I gave a faint, almost non-existent smile.

Of course, I couldn't fall asleep myself. It was my job to watch out for danger, to keep my comatose friend safe from harm. The muscles of my legs pleaded to be stretched. After being still for such a long time, my right foot was starting to grow numb, so I gently heaved Cloud off of me and leaned him against the wall of the truck, where I was just sitting. Then I stood up, allowing my muscles the much needed exercise. I did a few squats, but was interrupted when I caught a flash, one that could only come from light gleaming off metal. I looked up and my heart skipped a beat. Right in front of me was a ShinRa helicopter. Then I heard a bullet being fired, and I grabbed the Buster Sword and held it in front of me to block, but then it occurred to me that they wouldn't be aiming for the Ex-SOLDIER first class, who could defend himself without trouble. No, they would most likely aim for the comatose infantryman.

With one fluid motion, I stuck the Buster Sword into the steel bed of the truck in front of Cloud, hoping that would save him. I let out the breath I didn't know I was holding when the bullet clanged against the sword. I faintly heard the driver of the truck cursing at us and telling us to be careful, but I replied, telling him to stop the truck. Quickly, I sheathed the sword and picked up Cloud, throwing him over my shoulder like a sack of. Then I jumped out of the truck, and instead of walking toward the cliffs where I knew thousands of infantrymen were waiting, I walked around to the passenger's seat door of the truck.

I opened the door and carefully sat Cloud in the seat. I looked up at the driver. "Please, take care of him," I said, and he nodded. Then I looked down at Cloud for a minute before I turned away, thinking that this may be the last time I would see him again. I started walking away but the truck driver called me.

"Hey! What am I supposed to do with him!" he shouted. I looked up, the helicopter was still in the sky. I was sure it was ready to fire as soon as I let my guard down, but nonetheless I chanced walking back to the truck. When I was in, I grabbed a newspaper from the dashboard and found a pen. I wrote down the first address that came to mind, Aerith's.

I handed him the scrawled piece of paper and said, "This is the safest place I know of. When you get there, ask for someone named Aerith. Tell her Zack Fair sent you." He nodded, and again I couldn't help but take one last look at my friend "Goodbye…" I whispered sadly before running in the other direction.

As soon as I was far enough away, I saw the truck start up and head in the direction of Midgar. When I turned back I saw hordes of infantrymen in front of me. It was a helicopter that fired the first shot. Then the bloody fight began. . .

When I first cracked my eyes open I couldn't see anything. Then random shapes started to appear, a little foggy, but easily made out. Everything was green. Black was closing in from the sides of my vision, threatening to overtake the green. I made out one shape, blurry as it was, that was very familiar to me, Zack.

He bent down next to me and whispered a single word in my ear. I couldn't make it out, but I knew that something bad was happening. Zack turned away from me and took off, running at full SOLDIER speed. I managed to reach a hand out to him. Zack! Don't go! I kept reaching toward him as if I could grab him and drag him back here. But it was no use, he was gone and the world seemed empty and cold now.

Could it be possible that he got tired of dragging me around everywhere and decided to leave? I refused to believe that, to let the words that I knew were true sink in, but still that little voice of doubt in the back of my head kept whispering, "HE ABANDONED YOU, DESERTED YOU, HE DOESN'T WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH YOU NO-"

No! That can't be true, after all we've been through, after he-

HE WHAT? TOOK CARE OF YOU, FED YOU, AND LOOKED AFTER YOU? WHY DO YOU THINK HE WAS DOING THAT? YOU'RE A MAKO POWERED SUPERHUMAN, HE WAS JUST HOPING THAT YOU WOULD GET BETTER SO YOU COULD BE OF USE TO HIM, BUT NOW IT APPEARS YOU'RE A LOST CAU- Don't say it, don't say that I'm a lost cause, and that he left me because of it!

BUT DON'T YOU SEE? THAT'S EXACTLY WHY HE LEFT YOU. YOU'RE A USELESS, PATHETIC, AND WORTHLESS SOUL. WHO WOULD WANT THAT FOR A FRIEND For once, I didn't have an answer to give There was no use denying it, Zack deserted me; he left me. A single tear fell as I came to grips with this fact. Then I just closed my eyes and everything went black.

A/N: Hello, people! Chapter one of Freedom is redone, revised, and ready for reviews! This chapter turned out to be a great improvement over the previous one and makes much more sense now. I'm planning on changing a lot of things, but for the sake of the people who haven't read my old fic, I won't tell you what changed. Oh! Thank you Chibipinkbunny for being such a sweetheart and beta reading this for me! ^.^ and again, this fic is inspired by Chibipinkbunny's In the Shadow of Freedom and Jaydee Gray's Reduced to Specimens.

The Characters, World, and everything else in this story belong to Square Enix