All right, I've got the next chapter of Providence about halfway finished, but… well, I don't feel happy with it. Anyone want to beta that one?

That aside, I've had the weirdest desire to write this for days. Probably because I just watched a LOTR marathon with some friends, and I'm still on a major FFVII kick. Figured I might as well post, since it's getting written anyway.


Cloud stumbled slightly, more in surprise than anything else, as he was yanked from the familiar surroundings of green hills to the blank white of the in-between place that Aerith and Zack occasionally tugged him to.

Neither of them had done it for over a century, though, and that they were now was… worrying. It tended to be an emergency-use-only tactic.


Aerith this time, then. Zack tended to come when Cloud needed him, as opposed to the Planet needing Cloud.

"You're… not happy."

No, Cloud supposed he wasn't. He hadn't been happy in a long time, but he'd been edging closer to depression since… the last great threat to the Planet had killed Vincent. The utter destruction of Vincent's body did what nothing else had, freeing Chaos and killing Vincent and his other beasts.

Nanaki was old, now, long since taken over as Cosmo Canyon's elder, and less than half a century from the end of his expected lifespan.


Zack too? Cloud wondered.

"We might have a way for you… to finally get some peace. Or at least a place where the people don't die of old age, where you could have friends that will live as long as you, barring injury."

"What about…" because Cloud was, first and foremost, a WEAPON of Gaia.

"Chaos will protect the planet, especially now that… he's not confined to a mortal's body."

Cloud nodded slightly, wondering what the catch was.

"You can keep most of your weapons," Aerith assured. "Just not Master Summon materia. The Valar—the guardians of the world we would send you to—will only allow one summon to cross to their world."

"I was thinking Phoenix," Zack piped in. "That way you can link it with that Final Attack you never use, just in case."

Cloud considered.

"And we may have gotten permission to send that chocobo you like so much with you…"

Cloud blinked. He had actually been out with his gold—Aurin—when he'd been yanked into the in-between.

"And maybe we modified him just a little."

Cloud frowned.

"Yeah, you know… tied his life to yours. And made him kinda… indestructible, and a little stronger so he can carry you and your Fusion Blade. And smarter, so he can carry out more complex commands."

Before he could even think of asking why, Zack continued.

"I mean, we already did that, so even if you'd rather stay on Gaia, he's yours for life, now. You need a companion, even if it is just a super-smart gold chocobo."

Cloud closed his eyes, grateful, but something else had caught his attention. "There are other immortals where you would send me?"

"Yes," Aerith's gentle voice again, "They are… well, they're called the Eldar—or Elves. They can be killed, much more easily than you. But… they won't die of age, so you wouldn't have to watch them age and die like… like everyone in this world."

"Their world is currently in danger," she continued, "but the Valar are certain they can handle it on their own. You wouldn't need to get involved."

Cloud huffed, shaking his head, a slight quirk of his lips saying what he thought of that.

"You wouldn't!" Zack again, protestingly. "You can if you want to, but you don't have to."

Cloud paused, another question flitting across his mind.

"And… we'll always be there for you, if you really need us."

He closed his eyes again, dipping his head in acquiescence.

A warm sensation, like a familiar hug, and the white faded away, leaving him and his chocobo somewhere very different than they'd been moments before.