Title: There and Back Again
Summary: Cloud, defeated by something so, incredibly simple, is given a choice; Either go back in time, or return to a dying world. He's chosen the obvious one of course, and with optimistic feelings, he returns to the past to fix things that shouldn't have happened in the first place.
Warning: Time Travel, Slash, maybe some OOC characters?
A/N: Hi, hello, hey! To those previously subscribed to me, I've deleted everything and changed my name, sorry if you liked any of those stories. They truly weren't going anywhere (and I doubt you remember them in the first place, haha) To those who are new, Hi! I'm Executortionist, and I'm jumping on the time travel bandwagon for FFVII! Wow, how cliched, but whatever, I enjoy it,, and I hope you do too!
So yeah, I need a beta! If you're interested in betaing for this story just message me or leave a review, I'd be happy to have you on my team. In fact, I want two betas! Please? I just want this to be extra good and I want to fix my writing and I just want people to really like this, because I plan on finishing it, and I need people to kick my ass into gear. It would be good if any Beta that's willing to help has skype, please? I also want to make friends, and I hope the two betas I collect will be willing to jump on skype with me as a group and discuss things. Skype is just so much easier than messaging back and fourth here.
So hehe, I don't own anything! Only my own writing, yo!
"I'm only here because
I want to twist the structure of my average day
We feel nothing so jump into the fog"
-The Wombats "Jump into the Fog"
It was quiet.
In fact, it was so quiet, that Cloud could most certainly hear the rustling of his own clothes in some non-existent wind.
He supposed the lifestream had always been like that.
Thinking back on his situation and how he even got to the flower covered fields of Aerith's domain in the lifestream, he realized he had really, really died by something completely silly; he had starved to death.
After the remnants, everyone had really kicked their planet-saving thoughts into action. Everyone had done their best; heck, even Rufus Shinra and the Turks had helped out with some of the more financially difficult plans. In the end though, it hadn't been enough. They'd been too late to save their home, and as a result people quickly started dying off as the planet came up with new diseases and harsher weather.
Food had become scarce after the first few hurricanes and earthquakes. It was around that time that Tifa and the children had died from a caved in building. It was also around that time that Cloud stopped talking to people.
If only he had been faster, stronger, and maybe more determined, he could have saved them. Now though, all that was left was a crumpled bar and bloody, mangled bodies.
And so, it was a few months after this that Cloud had died. Despite all of the things that had been injected into his body at the hands of Hojo, he still needed nutrition. That had been his ultimate downfall, and how here he was, standing among the field of yellow and white flowers of the lifestream.
Cloud could feel how wrong his presence was there. He had been initially upset when Zack and Aerith had rejected him from the lifestream almost five years ago, but he understood it, and in fact, he'd finally accepted it. He just wondered what would happen to him now, with his body being dead and the planet almost diminished into nothing.
He turned when he felt the warm presence of his friends, and he could feel his heart starting to hurt as he looked at both Zack and Aerith, happy together at last. They looked so right together, and Cloud was suddenly glad that he only felt that Aerith was like a sister now. Before, when his memories had been messed up with Zack's, he had actually thought he had been in love with her. How wrong he was. Aerith must have thought he'd been pathetic back then.
Turning his eyes away from the pair, he suddenly felt a feminine but strong hand on the upper part of his sleeved arm. Turning his head just slightly, his eye widened when he saw Tifa, smiling the sweet smile she had always given him. She was another sister to him, though he knew she had always wanted more. "Tifa."
Tifa's smile brightened just slightly as she looked in front of him. Wondering what had caught her attention, he was startled to find Aerith and Zack right in front of him now. A heavy hand was clapped down on his shoulder, and he felt a little used smile rise on his face. Trust Zack to be friendly.
"Cloud! I had hoped we'd never see you here again! Man, this really sucks." Looking at Zack as he felt Tifa drop her hand and stand beside him, he was almost surprised at the sadness he saw in his old friend's eyes. Zack was sad that he had died. Zack… quite clearly felt it was his fault. It wasn't. He didn't know why Zack blamed himself for so many things.
Feeling a funny feeling rise in his chest, Cloud let his smile grow. "You really don't like me that much, huh?" It was clear to everyone that Cloud was joking, and Tifa almost looked shocked that he was like that. Zack just laughed and brought the smaller man into his arms, ruffling his hair in affection.
"Naw Spike, I could never hate you!" and suddenly, a weight had been lifted from Cloud's shoulder with that simple statement. As soon as Zack stepped away from him, everything was quiet again, and Cloud just now realized how grim Aerith looked. Tifa and Zack must have realized it too, because suddenly the silence was heavy.
"Cloud… you still don't belong here." Cloud's eyes widened, but he'd known. Hearing it from Aerith just solidified his suspicion. "I'm sorry."
Lowering his eye from her, Cloud shrugged. He knew it. He knew it would bad. "What now? I can't be sent back… please don't send me back there." Lifting his head, he finally let the situation actually hit. Cloud's shoulders were shaking and he felt his eyes burn. He didn't want to cry in front of these people. He had to be strong, for them.
"C'mon Aerith, there's gotta be something we could do! Anything would be better than sending him back to that… the planet is dying anyway. Within a few years Cloud would just be back here again!" Zack vehemently felt that he needed to do something for Cloud. His friend had been through so much, and he needed some good in his life. Cloud needed something amazing; something to outshine everything bad that had ever happened in his life.
Aerith looked hesitantly between the three people in her company. There was something she could do, but she didn't know how well it would go over with Cloud and Tifa. Would Tifa let Cloud out of her grasp once again?
Aerith agreed with Zack though, they couldn't send Cloud back to the place where he had previously been. Finally, she let her gave settle on Cloud with a strange determination welling up inside her. "There is…something. Cloud, how do you feel about time travel?" Aerith gave a kind smile when she heard his slight intake of breath. She knew that would get his attention.
It was at this time that Tifa spoke up for the first time. "You want to send Cloud to the past?!" Tifa had picked up what Aerith had been saying quickly. "That's not possible! What if it turns out exactly the same as here? Cloud…" She wouldn't let Cloud be hurt like that, she just couldn't. She'd seen the effects of Aerith's and Zack's deaths on him, and he didn't need that again. He shouldn't have to kill Sephiroth and the remnants all over again either. Cloud shouldn't have to relive anything.
Tifa was about to continue protesting when Cloud held up a hand, silencing her. "Tifa, that would be good. I'd be able to save everyone." Cloud had a light in his eyes, he could feel the anticipation already, knowing he'd be able to change so much if he went back. He'd be able to save Zack the grief of killing his own mentor. Heck, he'd be able to save that very same mentor, and maybe even Genesis too.
Though, he barely remembered them. The only things he knew about Zack's mentor were his name, and some little things. Zack had told them about him when he'd been mako poisoned. Cloud remembered Genesis very faintly though, barely remembering the red clad commander as he degraded and fought with Zack. He'd been so awe stricken at his movements back then. They'd been so graceful; it had almost looked like a dance!
Zack chuckled at the glazed look in Cloud's eyes. It was clear that this would be a good choice. Zack was glad that Cloud's experienced in life hadn't effected him too badly. If it had been him, he'd have been an emotional wreck by now. "Don't worry Tifa, Cloud's strong. So, Aerith! It's clear Cloudy-boy here wants to do it, so when do we start?!" Zack was also excited for this. Who cared if his existent ended, he'd still technically be alive anyway, and he really, desperately wanted to help Cloud.
Cloud seemed to be knocked out of his thoughts by Aerith's little giggle. "I'd like to do it now. What do we have to do? And… well, can I keep my sword?" First Tsurugi was his baby, even more so than his motorcycle. Heck, if he failed the SOLDIER exam he could always become a mechanic or some sort of weapon designer for ShinRa. He wouldn't mind that, and he'd no doubt still get to hang out with Zack. He couldn't remember ShinRa having many weapon designers, and he'd need to actively associate with the others to get to know their weapon type and what would suit them.
Aerith brushed a strand of hair behind her ear as she turned to her right, where no one was standing and kneeled down, picking a white flower gently. Zack had laughed at Cloud's sword comment, and he sincerely hoped he'd be able to see it. He'd only seen it once before, and that was during his last fight with Sephiroth. When Aerith was standing again, she gave the flower to Cloud, and Tifa quietly watched on with tears in her eyes. She wouldn't be able to stop Cloud if he wanted this. It made her sad, but it was a reality she would have to accept.
Taking the flower with two fingers, Cloud scrutinized it and then looked towads Aerith. "What…?"
Aerith waved her hand at him, "Just close your eyes and think of your cadet days. The flower will do the rest." Giving Cloud an apologetic look, she continued, "I can't give you your sword, I'm sorry. Physical things can't be transported. Really, it's just your mind going back while your existence here ends permanently." She hoped Cloud wouldn't be angry with her.
Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, Cloud nodded and turned to Tifa, giving her a quick hug and a sad goodbye, before smiling his widest at the other two. He'd definitely see those two again, he knew he would.
With that, Cloud closed his eyes and though his hardest back to when he was a cadet, before the SOLDIER exams. He knew it would be hard, but he could do it. He would have to.