A.N:/ Wow, I haven't been on here for a while. Haven't written a story for a long while either, but the long drag of University seems to take over so I'm sure a lot of you can relate.
Anywho, I've had this story whizzing around in my head for a good few months and occasionally I put pen to paper (as it were) to try and write it. So I thought I'd share it with you all. I hope you enjoy it and hopefully I will be consistently updating it due to myself finishing Uni in a couple of weeks!
Also, in regards to the title of the story I will admit it is taken from Flo and the Machine's same titled song. Only due to the fact I wrote the majority of this chapter and the plan to the story to this song and it just seemed to stick.
Never Let Me Go
Yuffie Kisaragi was lying on her back as she stared up at the dark night sky with its sparkling stars. The flames of the fire next to her were warm and comforting and the crackle of the burning wood was the only sound within the canyon. She let out a long moan and rolled onto her front as she looked to the magnificent red beast next to her. "Hurry it up Red." She cried. Despite that name holding no significance to Nanaki anymore, the young ninja was unable to shake off the nickname, which by now after several years she had become accustomed to.
She watched as the guardian of Cosmo Canyon stared at the large purple bluish orb in front him. Yuffie had discovered the materia deep within a forest within Wutai, however the actual resting place the materia had been at was unknown. As Yuffie hadn't taken the time to question the young traveller she'd pickpocketed. She'd taken a minute or so, to let the person discover they'd been robbed before they sighed and shouted at Yuffie that the materia was worthless.
At the time Yuffie had thought the traveller had simply said that with the hope she'd return it. However after attempting to use it and with no results she'd realised the traveller was actually speaking the truth, so had decided upon selling or trading it. But after stopping off at many materia stores, each and every shop owner had said the materia was worthless and unless she could prove otherwise then she'd get nothing for it.
So her brand new adventure had begun and by the looks of it had abruptly ended already when Nanaki shook his head. "Nothing? Zilch? No glimmer of hope?" She cried out pleadingly as she sat upright.
The red furred beast stared at her and listened to her pleas, wondering if she somehow thought he could magically change the materia's activity simply by changing his mind. "I'm afraid not Yuffie." Nanaki replied with a swish of his flaming tail. "It seems like it's almost deactivated itself."
He watched the ninja's pout develop as she absorbed her words and then sudden he saw the light switched on within the ninja's mind and her smirk instantly returned. "So how do we it un-deactivate it?" She asked, her eyes narrowing as she plotted.
Nanaki stared at the heir of Wutai, wondering how this girl, who was now twenty three but had not truly aged mentally since Nanaki had met her in the forest near Junon all those years ago, would ever run a country. "How to activate it, you mean?" He asked with a narrowing of his eyes. The girl eagerly nodded and he sighed in defeat. "I suppose a large amount of magic may." He answered, he cocked his head to the side as he stared at the materia. There was no glow to it like normal materia and its blank state would send a shiver down Nanaki's spine every time he glanced at the magic. However he knew telling the girl to forget about the materia would be useless. He looked back to the ninja as she stared off into the distance, her eyes glazed over deep in thought. "However!" He interrupted her, realising what the damage his previous words may cause. "It does not mean you should be going near any natural mako springs or the old reactors, it's far too dangerous."
The ninja slumped backwards and fell onto the floor, staring back up at the night sky. She let out a long sigh and grumbled to herself. She folded her arms across her chest and slowly drummed her fingers on her bare arms. "Large amounts of mako hum…?" She questioned aloud.
She ignored her friend's warning tone and sat upright. Nanaki's eyes bored into her dark eyes and she pushed her slightly longer than usual hair out of her eyes. Briefly remembering next time she was near Edge she'd have to drop by and get Tifa to cut her hair, as it was hardly good for a great ninja like her to be running around with messy hair.
With a click of her fingers and from her last though a sudden idea struck her and she glanced to the red furred beast next to her who still had a slight glare on his face. "What about Cloudy, think he could use it?" She asked, picking up the orb and tossing it into the air before catching it.
"Perhaps." Nanaki answered, standing up and stretching out his back. "However I doubt he'll want to be bothered by this." He shook his head when he realised his words made no difference to the young woman.
Yuffie's face lit up instantly and she leapt to her feet with such a grace that only a ninja like herself could achieve. "Thanks Red!" Yuffie leant forwards and threw her arms around Nanaki's neck before giving him a soft squeeze. She instantly turned round and headed towards the long staircase and disappearing from Nanaki's view with the materia firmly in her hand.
"No problem…?" Nanaki answered aloud. He shook his head once more, thankful that the obsessed materia hunter had now left him in peace, but couldn't help but think he'd just handed the problem onto his friends in Edge.
In the five years since Sephiroth's last attack, Edge had grown significantly. Its borders had constantly grown with each and every new building. However, a few people had had fears that this city would simply become another Midgar and a giant plate would soon be built. Fortunately this never happened. The statue in honour of the people who died during the meteor strike, that had been destroyed by a summon five years ago had been rebuilt and stood in the centre of the city.
Edge had become the centre of the world more or less, but despite this, Yuffie couldn't help but hate the place. The constant bustle of people who would shove her out of their way and would make Yuffie cry out she was in fact the heir to Wutai and should treat her better! The sound of the cars and trucks would drive her insane like someone had set a constant annoying song on repeat and Yuffie had no way of turning it off. Why both Tifa and Cloud had decided this is where they would live was ridiculous and Yuffie could understand why the blond man would agree to make deliveries all the way to Rocket town, simply to just leave this place.
Eventually Yuffie had made her way to a familiar bar only to find the closed sign flipped over in the glass door. With a slight grumble to herself she pulled her backpack off of her shoulders and rummaged through it. After finding the desired keys she quickly unlocked the door and walked inside before closing it behind her with a chime from the bell hanging above her. The bar was unchanged mostly, the black worktop still gleamed and there were a few more table and chairs than Yuffie could recall. The ceiling had finally been finished and the endless amount of pipes had been hidden from view. There were still photos hanging along the walls, no doubt photos Cloud had taken during some of his deliveries. There was now a small folding door that hid the upstairs from patrons but it was currently wide open.
There was a familiar sound of footsteps and Yuffie spun round as she saw the brunette bar maid. Her eyebrows were furrowed as she stared at the door then at Yuffie. "I thought I'd locked that." She spoke aloud, clutching the cup of coffee in her hands.
"Oh yes, is super nice to see you too Tifa." Yuffie called out, pocketing her keys before walking towards the bar. She hopped up onto one of the bar stools that she could remember claiming were too high once and dropped her backpack besides her. "And yes it was locked. I took the time to make some spare keys to this place." She answered with a smile as she patted the keys in her pocket. Tifa raised an eyebrow and then simply shook her head.
Tifa didn't answer, knowing there was no point. She set her cup down on the marble surface and hastily tied up her long dark hair that was almost the same length as it had been several years ago. Other than that Tifa had barely changed over the last five years, her smile could still charm anyone and everyone and her pale skin was still perfect. Her once bruised knuckled were normal once more, suggesting that the older woman no longer seemed to practise her martial arts as much any more.
"What brings you here then Yuffie?" Tifa asked as she looked at the younger woman's pale dirt smudged face. The ninja's hair was much longer than Tifa remembered when she last saw her and was no longer in Yuffie's characteristic black haired bob but had now grown past her shoulders. It was hard to accept that this young woman was no longer a teenage Yuffie, but the woman's personality had not matured at all since Tifa met Yuffie.
"I'm after grouchy Cloudy." Yuffie replied matter-of-factly. The young woman pointed at a bottle of beer behind the bar. Tifa shook her head, not bothering to explain it wasn't even midday yet and instead filled a glass with water before pushing it to Yuffie. Yuffie stared at the glass before her and then snatched it up hastily and drained its contents in one large gulp.
"He isn't here." Tifa answered, remembering she heard the roar of Cloud's bike leave early this morning. "I think he's out hunting with Vincent, near the chocobo farm."
She watched the girl's pout suddenly change to one of glee at the sound of a certain ex-Turk's name. Tifa couldn't hide her smile as the ninja sat upright.
At first she'd thought Yuffie's infatuation with Vincent had been a childish crush, but now at twenty three it definitely was no longer a crush. However all of Yuffie's advances on Vincent were unsuccessful. Tifa wasn't sure whether Vincent's oblivious nature to her 'advances' was due to Vincent simply not realising Yuffie was flirting with him, the significant age gap or that Vincent clearly wasn't interested. But nevertheless Tifa couldn't bring herself to tell Yuffie that she was chasing something that she would never be able to catch, like a dog chasing cars. But no doubt the ninja wouldn't believe her anyway.
"What do you want him for?" Tifa asked curiously. It wasn't often that Yuffie asked for help off of 'Chocobo head' but when she did it was always for the same reason. So when Yuffie pulled out a small purple materia, Tifa did not bat an eyelash. "And who did you 'borrow' this off, this time?" Tifa asked with a smile, remembering the countless times Yuffie would return with materia she had 'borrowed'.
"I did not steal this off of anyone, if that is what you're implying!" Yuffie answered with her eyes shut and her head turned away from Tifa in mock hurt. There were more footsteps coming from behind Tifa and Yuffie leant on her stool to see a familiar teen. "Good morning Denzel!" She cried, causing the messy haired boy to stare at Yuffie and wave once before disappearing upstairs. "Everyone's happy to see me aren't they." Yuffie mumbled causing Tifa to laugh.
"I'm sorry Yuffie, carry on." Tifa walked around the bar and set about taking the chairs down from the tables.
"I am merely researching this materia for an uneducated traveller." Yuffie answered with a smile. Tifa gave a disbelieving sigh as she carried on with her task. "But, it does nothing and is useless, so I thought who better to ask than Cloud, who's also good at doing nothing and is currently, useless." Yuffie added with a smile as she rolled the materia in her hand.
Tifa shot her a warning glare before making her way back round the bar. "Like I said, Cloud isn't here. But you're welcome to wait."
There was something strangely satisfying about defeating countless monsters in the middle of the grasslands Cloud had decided, like he was breaking the norm of driving along roads each and every day. The stench of the nearby marshes hung heavy in the air, mixed with the smell of the monsters that roamed the area and the smell of gunpowder.
He looked to Vincent who was stood a little further off. The ex-Turk was stood on a small rock foundation and shooting at the monsters that stood the furthest away, as if to test his aim. Cloud glanced around once, expecting there to be some more monsters hanging around but it appeared they had all fled from the fields and headed back to the marshes.
He sheathed his heavy sword onto his back and wiped his forehead with his bare arm. "I think that's it Vincent." He called out as Vincent elegantly back flipped off of the rocks. Vincent grunted in agreement and holstered his weapon on his hip. The chocobo farm stood a bit in the distance and Cloud slowly began to make his way back to the farm with Vincent besides him.
When the old farmer had enquired if Cloud would be willing to help him rid of the monsters that were getting too close to the farm, the swordsman had been more than willing and booked an entire day off from deliveries to do so. He'd then asked if Vincent wanted to lend a hand and the enigmatic man too had been willing.
Cloud couldn't help but admit that the thrill of fight was something that he missed, as bad as it sounded. There had been a time when all he wanted was a normal life but now that he'd been blessed with that, he felt like he was missing something. Like he was simply waiting for Sephiroth to appear. It had been five years since the once general had reappeared and Cloud had fought him within the ruined Midgar.
"Has that satisfied a craving?" Cloud turned to Vincent, surprised the man had actually spoken. Cloud was about to say he wasn't sure what the man was talking about, before remembering Vincent had been an excellent Turk and no doubt could almost read Cloud like a book.
"I suppose." Cloud replied, not bothering to avoid the question. The blond had taken up a job as an on-off mercenary, what with his delivery service not being as popular now people were travelling more themselves.
"What have you been doing, Vincent?" He asked out of curiosity. The man kept himself to himself and it was on odd occasions Cloud would see the ex-Turk. But everyone had taken it upon themselves to make sure Vincent didn't lock himself away in his coffin once again. Vincent had barely changed in all the years. His red cape was still set about his shoulders and Vincent seemed unfazed that the material was starting to thin more than before, his pointed gold boots that normally shone were edged in mud from the fighting and his leather ensemble was starting to wear and had gone from its once gleaming black to a faded grey. His long dark hair still covered most of his face and had been cut poorly, mostly from the man doing it himself.
The ex-Turk looked to Cloud, his red eyes narrowed slightly as if to say 'Are we having this conversation?'. "W.R.O keeps me busy" Vincent added as he looked back towards the farm. As soon as he finished speaking a small tune began to increase in sound before Vincent swiftly dug into one of his hip pockets to snatch out a phone and flip it open.
Cloud held back a laugh when he heard a boisterous familiar voice of a certain ninja. The blond could remember a time when the dark haired man never owned a phone, then when everyone forced one upon him Vincent had always been careful to never answer a call from Yuffie. Clearly times had changed.
The blonde gazed off into the distance, running his fingers through his spiked hair and tugged at the knots as he waited patiently for Vincent who hadn't seemed to have said anything yet. The phone snapped shut with a click and Vincent turned to Cloud. "Yuffie is expecting you at the bar." He spoke quietly as he pocketed his phone.
Cloud shrugged once. "She can wait." Cloud smirked, sure he'd seen Vincent do the same.
The bell above the door to the Seventh Heaven chimed and Yuffie spun round as she watched Cloud walk in followed by her favourite ex-Turk. "Don't worry; take as long as you want. Isn't like I'm aging or anything!" Yuffie snapped as she watched Cloud walk behind the bar.
The blond frowned to himself and spun round to face the young woman. "I have a job." Cloud replied with one eyebrow raised, he stood for a second as if waiting for Yuffie's reply before heading upstairs, knowing full well the only thing the young woman did was travel across the world and occasionally help out the W.R.O. Tifa gave out a small laugh before she offered Vincent a drink, as Yuffie launched into a talk with or rather, at, Vincent about her mysterious materia.
It wasn't long till Cloud came down the stairs in a familiar red shirt that Tifa had brought him for his birthday with an attempt to inject some colour into his wardrobe. She held out a glass of water to him that he took with a smile, their fingers touching for a second before Tifa turned away.
"Are you ready now then? Or have you got to run off to play hero again?" Yuffie asked angrily with her arms folded across her chest. Cloud dropped into a chair next to a table a bit away from the forever hyperactive ninja and Vincent. Yuffie leapt off of her stool to sit across from Cloud, after Vincent provided no help in discovering what the materia actually did. "I found this…" She began, rolling the materia in the palm of her hand.
Tifa walked towards the table gently pushing a plate of pasta in front of the blonde who took the fork from her. She smiled brightly at him before walking toward the bar and into the back rooms. Cloud watched as she disappeared, watching the sway of her glossy long dark hair against her pale skin. He'd mentioned once that he loved her long dark hair; it had been more of something like he'd spoken his thoughts aloud, but since then Tifa had grown her hair once again.
Yuffie's laugh brought him out of his thoughts and he turned to look at her. Her eyebrows were wagging suggestively and her lips were stained red with a pasta sauce that she'd almost gobbled up whilst Cloud had been distracted. He let out a snarl before snatching the materia out of her hand. "Shut up." He silenced her as he stared at the purple orb.
"You know, you guys are getting old now. Tifa's twenty-seven, what are you? Thirty, thirty-two?" Yuffie laughed as she finished the blonde's food off.
"Twenty-eight." Cloud answered firmly, glaring at the young woman to be quiet. "Where did you find this?" Cloud asked, trying to change the subject.
Yuffie gave out a loud sigh and made to snatch the materia back. "That's not important. I just want you to tell me what it does!" She dropped back into the chair in a huff.
"It's worthless, isn't it Cloud?" Tifa called out. Cloud had barely noticed her return into the bar. She was leaning against the bar top with her long hair over one shoulder. She gave him a long hard stare and Cloud frowned once before looking back to the materia. As he rolled it in his palm it reminded him of a horrific materia that he'd once handed over to the infamous Sephiroth and had practically helped the man try to destroy the world. However there was no glow within the orb, like it was devoid of any magic. But he couldn't shake off the feeling like this was a dangerous piece of materia. Something that cause a lot of damage in the wrong pair of hands.
With a glance at Yuffie he instantly understood that Tifa must have realised this too and knew something this dangerous shouldn't be left in Yuffie's care. "Yes." He answered with a nod.
"Fine…" Yuffie sighed, her hand outstretched waiting for her materia.
"But I'll look into it." Cloud added, closing his palm around the materia and placing it into his combat trousers pockets. Yuffie stared at him, her mouth open slightly.
"What? No!" She cried. "I found it!" She tried to reach across the table to grab one of Cloud's hands and then somehow force him to hand her the materia back.
"Correction; you stole it." Vincent called from behind. Cloud smirked at the ninja as she turned to glare at Vincent, as Tifa laughed at Vincent's sudden sense of humour. The ex-Turk swiftly got to his feet and made towards the door. "Reeve is expecting me." He said quietly before walking out the bar as Cloud and Tifa called out a good bye.
Yuffie tore her gaze from the glass door to Cloud, her eyes narrowed in anger like she was unable to decide whether to go after Vincent or get her precious materia back. "Fine, but don't you lose it Chocobo head!" She snarled. She jumped out of her seat and snatched up her bag before running after Vincent.
Cloud turned to Tifa who was gazing at the glass door, a slight smile on her face. "Could you tell it was powerful?" Cloud asked her, digging into his pocket to pull the small ball out. Tifa turned to him and made her way to where Yuffie had been previously sitting.
"It just doesn't feel…right." Tifa replied. She took the orb out of his hands and slowly examined it. Cloud watched as her deep dark eyes took in the materia before she looked back to him and handed it back. "Like, the black materia." Cloud nodded in agreement. He could still remember as he stood within the northern crater and handed Sephiroth the materia despite everyone's pleas. Even though it was almost several years ago he still hated himself for what had happened. If only he'd been stronger and hadn't given in to Jenova maybe so many people wouldn't have died. Maybe Aerith would still be alive.
The screech of Tifa's chair against the floor brought Cloud out of his thoughts. "If that materia is bad news, I guess it wouldn't be good in Yuffie's hands." Tifa said with a smile. "It doesn't seem to be working though."
Cloud gave her a small smile, knowing the ninja would somehow be able to accidentally wreak havoc. "I'll look into it; maybe hide it somewhere where she won't find it." Cloud replied.
"That'll be hard!" Tifa said with a laugh.
Cloud hummed in agreement. "Maybe in Midgar somewhere, or in Aerith's church." Cloud began. The thought of the church made him yearn to go, not able to remember the last time he went. "Maybe I'll go now." He shrugged on his harness as Tifa watched him.
"Don't be long." Tifa smiled at him as Cloud stood in the doorway. She had that beautiful smile of hers as she looked at him and it made Cloud feel like he'd never be anything compared to the strong and beautiful Tifa Lockheart. With a nod he tore himself away from her and made his way to his bike.
The smell of the flowers was as strong as ever and the small pool at the furthest end of the church was still there. Flowers had sprouted up through gaps in the floor boards and had started to climb up along some of the stone columns. Zack's sword that stood behind the pool even had some flowers starting to grow around it too. The blade on his back seemed to suddenly weigh more, as if to remind him this was his weapon now, not the buster sword that was in front of him. Cloud carefully made his way towards Zack's sword. He couldn't bring himself to say it was once his, it was Zack's. He carefully removed the flowers that were growing up the blade and scolded himself for not coming so often. The blade could do with some cleaning but was fine.
"You're as bad as Zack." A gentle voice called. Cloud froze as if he'd been paralyzed. There was a soft melodious laugh behind him and he slowly spun round. In the middle of the church with her hands behind her back stood the flower girl Cloud had met all those years ago. The minute he looked at her face he was struck with a flashback, remembering the girl on her knees with a smile as she prayed for the entire planet, then a descending Sephiroth who then struck the girl cleanly through her stomach. With a blink of his eyes his vision cleared and he stared at the pink clad woman who was smiling at him. Cloud couldn't help but give a small sarcastic laugh at the thought of Zack, the black haired soldier would never be as bad as him. "I had to tell him to keep off of the flowers." Aerith laughed.
Cloud stared down at his feet, not realising he'd stood on any of Aerith's beautiful white and yellow flowers. He looked back to the young woman, realising it had been five years since he'd seen an apparition of his two deceased friends.
"How are you, Cloud?" She called out.
"I'm fine." Cloud managed to say, as he slowly walked towards the flower girl.
"And everyone else?"
"They're fine too." He paused for a second and looked straight at the young woman. "Why are you here, Aerith?" Cloud asked, trying his best not being rude, but purely wanting to know why she was here. Was she here for good?
"Still the chatterbox as always." Aerith says with a smile, as she leant forwards to gently touch one of her flowers. "Maybe it's the water that keeps them growing." She mused aloud as she admired the church. With a sudden sigh and a roll of her eyes she looked up at Cloud. "I'm here to see how you are."
Cloud continued to stare at her, unable to believe she was here. It had taken him a while to get used to her appearing now and again five years ago. But she was here once more. His mouth felt dry and his throat sore, he had so much to apologise for but he couldn't seem to string a sentence together.
Aerith suddenly spun round, a frown on her face as she looked to Cloud. Her vivid green eyes danced over his form before slowing looking back to his face. "What's in your pocket Cloud?" She began, her eyes were narrowed and it reminded Cloud of times when the young woman would suddenly go angry. Like the time when Cloud had led them into the mansion in Nibelheim and she desperately didn't want to go in. "Something isn't right…"
Cloud frowned back, instantly patting down his trousers before feeling the small bump of the materia that he'd completely forgotten about since arriving at the church. He dug into his pocket and showed Aerith the purple orb. "Yuffie found it."
Aerith walked closer towards him, her footsteps making no sounds. Cloud watched as her frown softened. She hadn't changed at all, her long hair was still braided and tied with the pink ribbon that Zack had brought her. Her green eyes sparkled brightly, not tainted with mako, purely natural. "That's very powerful materia." Aerith mused.
"Like the black materia?" Cloud asked.
"Or the white materia." Aerith replied, her hand gently touching the back of her hair. Cloud felt his worry decrease slightly, like knowing this materia might not be as terrible as he'd somehow decided. "Do you know what kind it is?" She asked, her hands going behind her back as she held them together and gently leaned forwards. She raised an eyebrow as she waited for an answer, like a teacher to a student. Cloud simply shook his head. "Time." She answered with a smile and a laugh, like she expected Cloud to know.
"Time?" Cloud repeated, looking down at the purple orb. Aerith's eyes are glazed over as she gazed behind Cloud, like she was listening to someone talking. Her eyes moved back to Cloud's mako ones and fixed with them.
The smile on her face seemed to fade but the corners of her mouth twitched a little at an attempted smile. "It's very old, almost as old as the black and white materia, but it was forgotten." She said quietly.
"What does it do, exactly?" Cloud asked, wondering if it does the same as his own time materia he has.
Aerith shrugged. "It's very strong, it could reverse time, maybe even go forwards. Or maybe cast a very strong haste spell!" She laughed and winked at him, her smile returning. "Imagine if Yuffie had that kind of haste on her!" She gave a short laugh that Cloud had forgotten and it made him smile as he watched her.
He final found his voice as he watched her laugh and smile to herself. "We all you miss you, Aerith." Cloud said quietly, causing Aerith to stop laughing at him and look at him. She had a faint smile on her face. Cloud wanted to reach forwards and take her hand but decided against it as he wondered if he would actually be able to touch her. "If I could do anything, you know I'd go back and stop him from… you know." Cloud added, unable to finish the sentence.
Aerith cocked her head to the side and gently placed her hand on his bare arm and gave it a squeeze. "Maybe you should give it more thought." She chuckled causing Cloud to frown. What was she talking about?
He frowned as he thought over her words. Why would she suggest he go back at a different time if he could? "Do you know what this materia does, Aerith?" He asked, his suspicion rising, wondering if the ancient actually knew the materia's true purpose.
Suddenly Aerith took a step away from him, her hands snapping to her ears as if she was trying to block some noise. Her eyes were closed tight and Cloud leant forwards to look into her face, quietly repeating her name before placing his free hand on her arm. She gasped suddenly and moved her hands from her ears and glanced up at Cloud.
"Aerith, do you know what it does?" Cloud repeated.
She shook her head once more and Cloud watched as her eyes started to well up. He wondered what he'd done wrong and watched her. "It can't be destroyed." She began. Aerith took his hand and clasped it tightly. "Please, hide it from the world and forget about it." She pleaded desperately.
"Aerith?" Cloud began. She smiled once before slowly she began to fade from view, as if a gentle wind had taken her away. Cloud stared at where the ancient had been before him only seconds ago, where his outstretched gloved hand that she'd been holding was in front of him before he slowly pulled it back to his side.
What had she meant by he should give something more thought, when he'd said he'd go back to save her? The idea of going through time and finding an unaware Sephiroth before attacking him and killing the man so none of the terrible things that ever occurred would have happened sounded suddenly appealing. Or standing besides Aerith as she prayed and guarding her before Sephiroth came. Or even helping Zack on the cliffs near Midgar. Then both Zack and Aerith would be alive…
Cloud shook his head, Aerith's words making him feel insane with his delusional thoughts. He pocketed the materia, deciding he should discuss with everyone else what he should do with the materia. He started to make his way towards the church's exit, when suddenly he could feel the ground beneath him shake, the entire walls of the church began to shudder and the water behind him began to ripple.
There was a sudden horrendous shriek that made Cloud instantly reach for his sword. He gripped the hilt with both hands and waited patiently. When suddenly the heavy wooden doors were smashed open and thrown across the church causing Cloud to duck to ensure he wasn't hit.
Standing in the doorway was a ferocious looking monster that reminded Cloud very much of the monsters he'd seen that had been hidden within the Nibelheim mako reactor. Humans that had been forced into high amounts of mako. It stood at well over eight feet tall and its hands were like talons that flexed every so often. It's legs were long and wide that crushed into the floorboards beneath it. It's shoulders were broad that ended in spikes that jutted out and with spikes that ran from the top of its head and all the way down it's back. It gave a ferocious roar when it spotted Cloud and ran forward suddenly, crushing through the floorboards as it did so. It heaved it's muscular arm back and Cloud raised his blade ready to block the attack. It's hand struck the broad side of his sword but the strike was still enough to send him hurtling backwards.
Cloud quickly forced himself upwards as the monster ran at him again swinging its arms wildly. Its large green eyes sparkled with mako and Cloud noticed the slit like pupils making him wonder if this was one of Hojo's horrific experiments that had gone horrible wrong, or maybe even right, and had been wandering the ruins of Midgar all these years.
Cloud flipped out the way as the monster stood in the middle of the church. Cloud had made his way towards the exit, hoping the creature would follow him and not to cause any more damage to the spiritual place. When the monster didn't follow Cloud could only watch in horror as the monster suddenly summoned a burst of fire magic that instantly torched Aerith's flowers and towards Zack's sword. The wooden floor lit too and all the pews as well, everything was being burnt at such a rate that nothing could be saved.
Cloud stood quietly, his mouth hanging open in shock as the only things left of his two friends were being perished. Cloud was too in shock to notice the monster suddenly run at him at such a force that he was sent hurtling backwards and into the rubble behind him. He let out a strangled cry when he felt something snap within him and struggled to roll out of the way of the monsters sudden attack. He could feel his anger begin to grow and grow and could feel something burning at his hip, but banished all pain away. He snatched up his sword and ran forwards with gritted teeth, he swung his sword once, slashing at the monster's arm as it let out a horrific cry before hastily drawing one of his smaller swords and burying it deep into the monster chest.
The monster stumbled backwards and Cloud finally groaned in pain. The intense heat at his hip began to grow and he dug into his pocket and pulled out the purple materia that was now glowing brightly. He glanced at collapsed monster and then to the crumbling church and wanted to scream and shout. They'd been snatched from him, his connection to his two friends gone. He wondered for a moment if the materia had brought the monster to Aerith's church and he snarled, ready to throw the materia away. He glanced down at the ball only to watch it melt through his glove and into his palm. He let out a short cry as it felt like he'd thrown his hand into fire. He snatched his glove off and stared at the purple mark on his palm.
All of a sudden it felt like the fire spread through his body and was torturing him, like someone had just injected mako into his system. The pain grew and grew and suddenly the world began to spin and he had to spread his legs to keep his balance. His vision started to darken and he stumbled to his knees.
With a final glance at the burning church before he lost his consciousness, he could only think of how he'd failed Zack and had never lived up to be the great hero's living legacy and wondered what the dark haired man would have done differently if he was still alive.