Still don't own. An now, the-
ShinRa Tower, Midgar
"My father is stepping down, wishing to enjoy his retirement in peace. I am going to be stepping up as president in the next few days." Rufus gave a slightly humorless smirk. "Which leaves me in need of a Vice President."
Lazard looked over at his half brother. "If that's an offer, I'm not interested."
"I had a feeling you'd say that- why not?" Rufus moved to sit next to him.
"I won't deny I thought about it, but I think I would prefer being in an advisory position- and stay in Soldier." Lazard leaned back. "Besides, Reeve Tuesti would be a better choice, people actually know and like him- and you've been thinking of picking him, anyway."
"Am I that obvious?"
"You forget, brother, I know you." Lazard gave him a look.
Rufus gave him a genuine smile at that. "That you do."
"On the topic of family though, I did some digging." Rufus blinked, unsure. "You go back a generation . . . Strife's mother and our father are cousins by blood . . . our grandfather married Mrs. Strife's aunt. He's not actually our brother."
" . . . And here I thought you were going to keep your nose out of his business." Rufus gave a small smile.
"You knew that, so why did you say he was our brother?"
"I promised I'd look out for him, when I realized I couldn't . . . I figured you'd be able too. Besides, I didn't want to be the youngest." Lazard didn't know what to make of that statement, so he just shook his head.
"Next time, trust me a little more?"
"I'll try." Rufus looked at the clock. "Time for an executive meeting . . . I wonder how well they'll take it?"
"Given that Palmer's dead and you fired Heidegger for embezzlement . . . Scarlet probably won't pull anything." Lazard sighed.
Reeve sighed, looking out the glass elevator.
"Something wrong?" Veld looked at the other man.
"Nothing, just a little tired- Mini Cait and the other two Cait Sith units decided to play tag last night."
"I'm taking it they weren't exactly quiet?"
"Mini Cait got a hold of a megaphone. It didn't end well." Reeve sighed again. "How is Felicia doing?"
"Alright, I think she's enjoying her new job." It was Veld's turn to sigh. "I'm getting too old for this."
"I don't think you're ever too old for change."
"Hmph, we'll see . . . you still haven't explained how you made that double of yours."
" . . . You mean when I changed places with it? Not long after Hewley left. I thought it would be a good idea to make myself scarce, in case things went wrong." Reeve gave a wry smile.
"You know, you've never actually said why you all came back in time. Just that you had to." Lucrecia looked at where Vincent was leaning against the wall.
" . . . Time travel was stumbled upon, or will be, roughly a decade from now. No one did anything with it at first, but the idea was something that got tossed around . . . and then things started to happen. People would lose track of time, things would disappear and reappear . . . and then people started disappearing, or remembering things that didn't happen." Vincent glanced at his gauntlet. "Cloud and Tifa had taken in some orphans, as well as looked after Barret's daughter Marlene- one of the children disappeared right before their eyes, and the other children didn't even notice. We knew someone had gone back in time, but we didn't know when or how far.
"The incidents were happening everywhere, and people began to riot in their confusion- some tried to kill Reeve. We made plans to jump back as far as we could, but there was no guarantee that we would all make it, or even make it past whoever made the changes in the first place. We went to Banora as the riots started up again, and made the jump." Vincent sighed. "There were a few more of us that tried to come back, but I guess that they disappeared or forgot what they were doing and didn't make it."
" . . ." Lucrecia got up and hugged him. "I'm glad you made it . . . and I'm glad you got me out of that crystal."
"Me too." Vincent returned the hug, catching sight of the clock. "You're going to be late." He gave her a quick kiss on the lips.
"With or without Sephiroth?"
"With, but just for dinner- after, on the other hand . . ." Lucrecia smiled. Vincent returned it, and passed her the crutch that she was using as she still tired out easily while walking.
Cloud smiled as the monster disintegrated into pixels. He'd forgotten how much he'd missed this fusion sword . . . which, now that he thought about it, still lacked an actual name.
He'd have to work on that.
"Nice work, Strife." Cloud stiffened, glancing over in surprise.
"General . . . what are you doing here?" Sephiroth moved away from the wall.
"I've been thinking about that battle with Jenova . . . there was a moment when everything became white and I heard voices arguing." Sephiroth glanced at his shoulder. "Hojo . . . Hojo called Jenova my 'mother', and I have more of her cells . . . her genetics, than any soldier or any other living being. The Planet . . . the planet wouldn't have cared about that, am I right?"
" . . . What you couldn't see was the Weapons turning into a jeweled prison for Jenova. Hojo was forcibly pulled from where he was- the lifestream rejected him- to join her." Cloud met Sephiroth's eyes. "The Goddess tried to add you as well. Genesis and Angeal resisted first . . ."
He must go as well.
He is of Calamity.
No. He is OURS.
Very well, we shall spare him.
"Then I owe you all my freedom." Sephiroth was confused as Cloud shook his head.
"No, General, you don't owe us anything. Just . . . don't waste your chance."
" . . . Thank you, Strife."
"Tell me you're joking." Genesis looked up from his book, Angeal failed miserably at hiding his amusement.
"No, Zack's going to ask Aerith to marry him today."
"He's . . . kind of young, isn't he?" Genesis blinked.
"I said that, he just muttered something about not wasting any more years and shot out of here to meet her." Angeal gave him a wry smile. "He asked her mother's permission, apparently."
"At least some of your honor talks seem to have stuck." Genesis smirked, recovering. "You nominated him for first, didn't you?"
"Yes . . . he's lucky the Vice President was one of the ones who also has that 'awareness' or whatever."
" . . . Goddess save us . . ." Genesis suddenly froze in horror, making Angeal tense.
"What if he reproduces?" Angeal couldn't think of a thing to say, so he just threw a pillow at his red-haired friend.
"This is beautiful." Mama Strife smiled at the Villa Cloud had purchased in Costa Del Sol.
"At least he picked a better name this time, 'Wolf's Den' sounds much better than 'Villa Cloud'." Tifa stretched as she finished unloading yet another box. "Then again, we didn't exactly have a whole lot of time to come up with a better name, and it stuck . . ."
"And it's warm here." Mrs. Strife smiled. "So, Cloud and you were . . . married?" She looked at Tifa.
" . . . Last time, it took years to get all the records sorted out so people could start get marriage licenses and certificates, especially in Edge. After Meteor, a lot of people didn't want to waste time, so they just started living together, even if they had previously been married to someone else." Tifa shrugged. "Cloud and I started living together, and well, we had some . . . issues."
"Nibelheim burning, plus five years of experimentation and then almost a year of thinking he was someone else only to be proven wrong would do that." Mama Strife agreed, laughing at Tifa's look. "I've been looking after Lucrecia, remember- I had Vincent get some books on psychology, especially in regards to Trauma. It wasn't hard to realize all of you had some elements of PTSD." And that wasn't something that got cured right away- it took years, and included various degrees of relapses and difficulties, and not everyone ever recovered from it.
"Yeah, well, there was that, and we sort of adopted several kids . . ."
"You slept together then?"
"Sometimes- things just kept happening, and Cloud was often gone on deliveries or missions . . . it wasn't exactly a stable relationship."
"Did you two date anyone else?"
"A few times, we always ended up back together, though." A couple of them had been good people, too, but things never worked out and that wasn't mentioning the couple of times the people they'd dated had actually been out to kill them or get revenge for Avalanche's actions or ShinRa's destruction. (The worst had been Reeve's stalker, though.)
They could probably write several books on everything that had happened to them. Not that they hadn't gotten some downtime in between incidents, but still, none of them had had boring lives.
"You love him, though, don't you?"
"Then I don't see any reason why you two shouldn't be together this time. Vincent and Barret are enjoying their second chances."
" . . . We'll see," Tifa's PHS went off and she answered it without thingking, "Tifa here- what? Aerith, slow down . . . Zack did what?" Mama Strife reached out to steady Tifa as she rocked back on her heels. "You're joking! Planet, that's wonderful!"
"What is it?"
"Zack asked her to marry him! She said yes! –Does anyone else know yet?" Tifa was grinning. "You have to call Yuffie, she'd kill you if you didn't let her know yourself." Mama Strife smiled, listening to Tifa's excitement. "I'd be honored, let me know when you're going to start planning, and I'll come over."
"Almost seems like a waste, starting the construction and running all those tests, but not finishing." Myrna came up behind her husband, who was studying the reactor.
"Actually, Reeve's already gotten things figured out so it won't go to waste . . . none of the reactors will." Barret chuckled. "We're going to use windmills and solar energy." Myrna leaned against him. "We just have to remodel the existing reactors, and then, we won't be hurting the planet. I already know where some oil fields are, and we can use those as well." Barret smiled down at her. "I never planned for the reactor to be using mako for long, this way, though, the town didn't get destroyed."
"That's going to take some getting used to." Myrna smiled up at her husband. "Eleanor wants us to come to dinner, by the way."
"Then let's not keep her waiting." Barret had a sneaking suspicion that he knew why Eleanor wanted them over. He was proven right when, in the middle of the meal, Dyne stopped eating.
"I can't hold out anymore- Elle and I have some great news!"
"What?" Myrna perked up as Dyne and Eleanor held hands.
"We're going to be parents!" Myrna squealed, all but tackling Eleanor in glee.
"Way to go man!" Barret slapped Dyne on his back.
"Boy or Girl? Do you know yet?" Myrna demanded. "When is it due?"
"Eleanor asked for it to be a surprise, actually. The doctor figures she's about 3 months along already, so about six months or so?"
"How on earth did you not notice for 3 months? One or two I could understand." Barret winced, he remembered how this conversation went the last time.
"I've been so busy lately, and you know how sometimes stress effects-"
"SO, we were hoping you would be this one's godparents." Dyne interrupted before the conversation veered off into womanly matters. Myrna promptly squealed again, hugging Eleanore with an enthusiastic 'Yes!'.
"We'd be honored, man." Barret grinned.
"What's got you in a good mood?" Cid looked at the royal pain in the neck who had tackled hugged him from nowhere.
He had agreed to fly ShinRa's new ambassador to Wutai, better known as Felicia, and had ended up staying a few days for some well deserved R&R. Most of Avalanche had retreated to either here or Cosmo Canyon after Jenova was removed from the planet, searching for political sanctuary.
"Don't you check your messages?" Yuffie huffed in annoyance. "Aerith's marrying Zax the puppy, and Barret says Marlene's going to be born soon."
"Oh, that is good news." He didn't even bother correcting her pronunciation of Zack's name. It was how the Wutaian people seemed to pronounce it anyway, and was sort of amusing.
(Same way it was amusing to hear their pronunciation of 'Cloud', 'Kurado', though he was pretty sure Yuffie started that in retaliation of Cloud misspelling her name all the time- though they all did it, cause his spelling was what stuck.)
"And Genesis sent me a message to let me know that he nominated Cloud for first class." Yuffie added.
"First class for real, huh? Guess things didn't turn out to horribly this time afterall."
"Yeah, nothing actually went to plan." Yuffie didn't wince at the reminder that she had failed spectacularly at stopping the war from happening- and had technically made it go on for longer. "Nanaki's got some ritual in Cosmo Canyon, but he'll be heading to Costa soon."
"Yeah . . . Deneh's going into some sort of Stasis, right?"
"Maybe. Nanaki's technically already done this, and it does directly tap into the planet, so it might not be too long before Deneh's out." Cid suddenly had a bad feeling, and a glance at Yuffie confirmed it.
"Oh, I think you know what, old timer, but since you're mental faculties seemed to have degraded recently to not being able to take a hint- you need to ask Shera out!"
"For the love of- did Reeve or Mama Strife get you in on this?"
"You like her and it's obvious she likes you- she can't form a coherent sentence and she turns bright red- heck, you two were all lovey-dovey last time once you got your head out of your ass, so I don't see the hang up!"
"It's none of your damned business, brat!"
"It's the White Rose of Wutai's job to make sure her friends are happy! And we all know Shera makes you happy in your own cranky way!"
"Just drop it!" Cid tried to leave the room- only to have to start running when the very persistent princess started to chase after him.
"Hell no, I know your balls didn't drop off, so you're not getting out of this! You have to ask her out, at least!" Felicia and Godo watched the two run past, both having no clue on how to arrange their expressions.
"My daughter . . . is trying to act as a matchmaker?"
"I think so . . . your majesty." The two ran through the hall behind them, still yelling at each other, this time with more expletives.
" . . . I need to talk to her about diplomacy again." Godo decided.
"Set someone else up!" Cid's shout came a few seconds before the pilot almost ran into them, though except for a quick pause to bow, he didn't slow down.
"I'm still trying to figure out how to get my dad out of the country to meet her!" Yuffie retorted, still on his heels.
"What?" Godo stared after his daughter.
Nanaki quietly studied himself in the mirror, and then let out a soft sigh. It was so odd, having both eyes open, and not having the tattoo of the numeral XIII on his shoulder. Deneh came up behind him.
"I think I understand why you're so loyal to those humans." Deneh tilted her head. "They're not perfect, they don't always listen . . . but once they think of you as their packmate, they don't let anyone hurt you if they can help it."
"We can put off the ritual, you know . . . Humans don't last long, compared to us." Roughly ten years from now, Reeve's hair would be graying, Cid's knees would ache so bad he could no longer run and jump, Barret's arm wouldn't be able to handle the strain of firing large bursts, and Tifa's punches would start losing more and more of their strength.
Grandpa Bugenhagen would have died by then, and Deneh, for all her cat-like nature, really did care about the old man.
" . . . I would like that, very much." Deneh rubbed her head against his shoulder and neck.
Scarlett glared at the desk in front of her. She didn't like what the preliminary suggested plans for her department were, but she was grateful she was still head of department, and only a small fraction of her funding had been removed.
Tuesti and Veld entered, and not too long so did Hollander and Raleigh, who were acting as temporary heads of the science department, with Sephiroth, Hewley and Rhapsodos just behind. Deusericus and the new President entered last.
"I'm glad all of you could make it. As you know, I'd like to clean up some of my father's more questionable uses of resources, which I feel have been dragging this company down. I apologize right now, but we're going to have to reschedule our discussions of budgets for the time being, at least until the business and turk departments have finished with their audits. We've discovered a few areas of concern already, and until we've gotten a handle on things, we're going to stick with the current amounts." Rufus stood at the head of the table. "Also, as you're aware, we still lack a permanent head of the Science department, I have finally found a suitable candidate to clean up Professor Hojo's . . . findings." Scarlett scowled as Hollander straightened, clearly eager. "Professors, you are both quite knowledgeable, and I am grateful that you both stepped up, but do to the fact that until recently, you both worked under Professor Hojo, and Science has many of my father's more questionable uses of resources, I cannot place either of you as head, especially with the ongoing investigation." Scarlett smirked this time, as Hollander began to protest.
"Sir, you must be joking." Hollander started, only to be cut off by Raleigh.
"May I ask who you've picked?"
"The scientist in question has been doing her own investigation into Hojo's works for quite some time, and once worked for the company before taking a leave of absence . . ." Rufus walked to the door, and opened it, revealing a very beautiful woman walking with a crutch. "Allow me to present Dr. Lucrecia Crescent."
Scarlett didn't hear Hollander's startled exclamation, mainly because she made a startled exclamation of her own. "Dr. Crescent? The same Dr. Crescent that wrote the paper on making mako crystals for use in machines?"
"Well, yes, that was my thesis."
"You also wrote one of the best theories about how the lifestream affects the planet and its inhabitants." Raleigh looked just as surprised. "I wrote my own thesis with the help of that paper."
"Really? You must let me read that sometime." Dr. Crescent smiled as she took a seat near Reeve Tuesti.
"I don't mean to sound rude, but shouldn't you be older by now?" Hollander demanded. "I heard you were dead."
"Yes, well, Hojo tried to kill me, and I had an accident with a mako crystal- a side effect of both being that I seem to have stopped aging for a bit."
"Now, if we could leave your questions for a little later, I believe we have a meeting to get through." Rufus took charge in the silence that followed as the others tried to figure out that statement.
Rude sighed as he watched Kunsel shift in his sleep. Rufus had brought him back to ShinRa, even transforming a former Storeroom on the Turk floor into a hospital room so Kunsel could be guarded by the Turks. He couldn't believe he had forgotten that Kunsel had been Zack's friend the last time. Unfortunately, the man wasn't getting any better, still caught between two timelines in his own head and unable to pick one.
Aerith might be able to help, though . . . or Dr. Crescent could help figure out how to stabilize him.
"Hey Partner, you gotta come check this out, yo!" Reno stuck his head in. "Tuesti's Secretary is beating up Gun in hand to hand!"
It wasn't quite right, but they had time to straighten things out . . . and maybe Elena would soon join them as a Turk, and he'd get to hear Reno teasing her again.
"You know, You're getting kind of predictable." Cloud joined Vincent on the top of the tower.
"I could say the same to you." Vincent retorted drily.
" . . . Nothing really went as planned."
"We did some things that we hadn't planned on, as well." Vincent sighed. "But we made it . . . the Calamity is off this planet, and soon will burn in the sun. She won't be able to manipulate the lifestream, and Sephiroth won't be able to manipulate her and the lifestream."
"She'll burn . . . along with Hojo." Cloud added with a smirk, which Vincent copied.
"Third time's the charm. I think I enjoyed it more this time." Vincent stared at where he was positive the sun actually was. The two lapsed into silence for a moment. "What are you and Tifa going to do?"
"Well, I'm thinking of asking her to marry me." Cloud noted Vincent's look. "If things hadn't gotten so messed up in the last time line, I would have asked her before . . ." Cloud winced a little, and Vincent nodded.
"I think I might ask after Zack and Aerith are married . . . when are you going to ask Lucrecia?"
"We're still working everything out . . . especially since we have to consider Sephiroth's opinion." Vincent leaned back a little more. "On that subject, though, I feel I have to warn you- Cid called from Wutai."
" . . . This doesn't have anything to do with that fanatic Leviathan cult that almost killed me the last time, does it?"
"No. Yuffie wants to set up her father with your mother." Cloud managed to choke on air at that. "I didn't ask, and Cid started in on how he was apparently being harassed into asking Shera out on a date and courting her the proper, meaning wutaian, way. Apparently, the news that Zack and Aerith are engaged prompted Yuffie into trying to match people up."
" . . . She's bored, isn't she."
"She's already gotten all the materia she had last time, plus a few others." Vincent glanced back at the city below. "So I imagine so."
"Well, life's definitely not going to be boring . . ." Cloud sighed.
"It hasn't been boring since you got me out of that coffin the first time."
"What's wrong?" Cloud noticed Vincent had stiffened a little.
" . . . When you were fighting Jenova . . . you . . . changed a little."
"Yeah, Weiss was there to keep me from losing my mind to Jenova, he taped into Omega to give me an edge."
"Do you think you could tap into that power again?"
"No, Weiss was the link . . . why do you ask?"
"Chaos wants a chance to fight Omega again."
" . . . Shouldn't Chaos remember how it went the last time?"
" . . . the goddess might have erased his memories so that he wouldn't try to get out of returning to our prison." Vincent hadn't thought about it before. "Or perhaps he was the wrong part of the lifestream." The two lapsed into silence again, watching the changed world go by.
Dear God . . . all the mini plotlines that ran through this story and especially in my drafts . . . You have no idea how close this was to being a story that I almost didn't finish because of all the mini plotlines I wanted to include. Not to mention all the easter eggs that I added just for the fun of it (Like Reeve's Inspire abilities- go read the Wiki for more info).
You'll notice the characters allude to some events that happened prior to them coming back in time- in my mind, they continued having adventures, together and separate, up until they had to come back. Some of these might become oneshots.
Speaking of One shots, there are several in conjunction with this story already posted, the titles are: Team Mom, Compromised, Wolves and Dogs, Opening Up, A Day in Nibelheim, A forgotten Treasure, and then there's PHS Messaging, which is technically a collection of one shots.
Strife family tree- yeah, this came about because I noticed that the mansion in Nibelheim was called the ShinRa mansion, not the ShinRa's company mansion, and that NIBELHEIM, not Midgar, had one of the oldest (if not the oldest) reactors. In my head, that translated into President Shinra actually being from Nibelheim, and that old mansion belonged to his family, though once he left for Midgar, he just used it for company purposes- and given that the president is easily in his sixties by the time of FFVII, it's not to far fetched that no one but the really old knew that bit of information- then Nibelheim got destroyed, so the only one who knew was the President, and then he got axed.
Like I said, this my head, it's a weird place, and this sounded better to me than Cloud as another illegitimate kid of that jerk.
Yuffie's match up of Godo and Mama Strife was actually a random plot idea inspired by someone asking if I was planning on any unusual pairings, despite me saying that this wasn't a pairing fic multiple times. It was the only unusual pairing I could think of that could have any basis in this universe I've written, basis being that Yuffie treats Mama Strife like a second mother and thinks it's totally reasonable to set her up with Godo. (You'll notice, the only other pairings mentioned are cannon and not the real focus- I couldn't even write Zack proposing cause it just felt off, if I can ever stomach it, I will write the proposal as a oneshot.)
Now, to clarify something- I didn't have them destroy Jenova because destroying Jenova on the planet would put Jenova into the lifestream, and Jenova's stubborn enough to use that to her advantage. I even made a point of having Chaos saying that getting rid of Jenova wouldn't be as easy as destroying her.
(Please remember, that killing Sephiroth didn't stop him from coming back by using jenova cells and tainted lifestream.) The weapons sealed her (and Hojo, because last time he managed to come back and summon Omega) into a nice jeweled prison and the Ultimate weapon then took them out into space (instead of Cid's rocket, which was my original plan that fell through) and is currently heading as fast as it can towards the sun.
The reason they were fighting Jenova was to make sure that the goddess/lifestream had enough time to build enough power to capture her.
The only reason Sephiroth didn't join Hojo and Jenova was because everyone, even Cloud, told the planet 'no way, he's staying with us'.
Everything else should be explained, but I had a couple reviews asking for clarification on this point, so it got an author's note as well.
There will be a short sequel up in about a month or two- I'm going to stick with posting oneshots for a while as school resumes, as well as post a couple things in other fandoms to test the water. The sequel won't be posted until I've gotten it all written out, which is why it might take a month or two.
Hope you've all enjoyed this fic (and my attempt at time travel). Thank you to all who've reviewed (especially those who've reviewed each chapter), favorited, and/or followed!
I'd write you all, but that'd be over 400 hundred names total.