This is the story that I said Memory was a sort of Prequel too. It's a Time Travel fic that revolves around both Cloud and Genesis being sent back in time. This is YAOI so be warned.
Cloud Strife and Genesis Rhapsodos stood side by side, hand in hand. Cloud leaned his head on Genesis's chest as the man placed his chin on the top of Cloud's head. They had decided to stop fighting. It had been almost a constant battle for the past 5 years. At first, the monsters just seemed slightly stronger, slightly more vicious and slightly more numerous.
Then Aerith had shown herself again. The planet was infected with Jenova's taint. Aerith was in a portion of the Lifestream that had been quarantined off from the rest, but the fact remained, after everything, the planet was dying.
A cough across the room snapped Cloud's thoughts back to the present. Reno lay across from them, dying. He had done well to survive as long as he had, but this was it, there was no other side, not any longer. Aerith had confirmed over a year ago that the Lifestream was collapsing in on itself and was simply destroying souls rather than absorbing them. Zack had been one of the first to go. The 3 in this cave, this final sanctuary, were the last souls left on Gaia, living or dead.
Even Aerith was just a hollow shell anymore, a memory of what she used to be. Her visage had become tainted and it was obvious that she had become infected when she had last appeared. Her face had been twisted almost beyond recognition, eyes red with slit pupils, dress showing signs of decay.
The light left Reno's eyes as they heard the scraping noises, indicating that a pack of monsters was getting closer to their sanctuary. There was nowhere to run, no hope for the human race and they were just tired.
"I love you." Genesis said, looking into Cloud's eyes.
"I love you, too." Cloud said, leaning in, claiming one last kiss from the man's lips. At least they would die together, that was better than many of their former companions had.
As the monsters descended, Cloud could feel himself being consumed as everything turned to black.
Cloud heard a humming noise in his ears. He was curious, because he was certain that he wasn't supposed to feel anything after the world ended. As he became more aware, he realized someone was still with him. Genesis, his heart fluttered and he forced his eyes open to confirm. He looked down to see Genesis still unconscious, but holding his hand. How were they still alive?
"You're not alive, at least not physically anymore." A feminine voice said to him. Cloud's head whipped around at the noise, taking it the dark grey expanse around him. When he found the voice, he saw a woman standing with long golden hair and a pure white gown.
"Minerva." Cloud whispered, recognizing Genesis's goddess. She had been absent for some time now.
"I managed to save your souls before the Lifestream disposed of them. I was fearful I was too late. Dealing with time isn't easy, even for a Goddess." Her tone sounded apologetic in nature.
At this moment Genesis started to stir.
"Time?" Cloud asked her.
"I knew humanity and the planet was doomed, so I sought of a way to stop things. The laws governing time are ancient and not easily tampered with. I had intended to get to you before you died, but your consciousness is still intact, and that is all I require." Minerva explained.
"What's going on?" Genesis asked, a bit confused and groggy.
"I am giving you a second chance, my child, all of humanity." Minerva said. "I don't have much time to explain, so I'll be brief. I have found a way to manipulate the flow of time, here at its end, to send you back to when you can stop this all from happening. Kill the scientist, save your friends and contain the calamity."
"Contain her how?" Cloud asked.
"If you send her to a world where there is no life, she can do no harm." Minerva explained. "I can't help you anymore than that. I've really done too much, as it is. The last gift I've managed are tools to help you succeed. I won't know you in the past any better than when we first met, no one will. Remember what is at stake, if you fail, you won't get another chance" Minerva's voice left them as she faded from view.
Cloud felt a tug and in a whirlwind he was separated from Genesis, he screamed the man's name, but it was no uses as everything went from grey to black.
Genesis sat up, almost hyperventilating. His mind was running a mile a minute as he took in his surroundings. He was in a rather nice, plush bed, a feeling he hadn't known for years. The covers slipped off him as he brought his hand to his face, calming himself. He barely remembered Minerva's words to him and then scattered out of his bed looking for a calendar, his phone, anything that would tell him the date.
He finally found his old PHS in his leather coat and flipped it open. March 17, 0092 flashed across his screen. It was one week before the incident in the VR room that had triggered his Degradation. Cloud was either still in Nibelheim or was a recently arrived Cadet. His heart panged at the thought of the man who had been his constant companion for the last 5 years. If Cloud wasn't here, he would find him the first chance to go retrieve him. He couldn't do this on his own.
As his mind cleared, he heard a knock on his door. "Genesis, I know you're in there." Came a loud clear voice. Angeal! His mind screamed at him. He didn't even know how to act like his old self anymore. Not that he wanted too, the cocky arrogant man he had once been was long gone. Angeal would see right through him, especially if he started crying and pulled him into a hug, which is what he was most likely to do. He had forgotten just how much he'd missed his old friend.
"Genesis, if you don't come out soon, I'm coming in." Angeal threatened.
"I-"Genesis tried to reply, "I'm not feeling well." Genesis finally managed to get out.
"Genesis, I swear." Angeal said, and he could hear his door opening, damnit he forgot that the man had a keycard.
Angeal sighed, walking through the apartment to Genesis's bedroom, "You really need to come up with a better-" He stopped abruptly when he saw Genesis sitting on the floor, staring up at him.
"What happened?" Angeal said, realizing something was actually wrong with his friend.
Genesis couldn't speak and instead reached out for Angeal's hand, pulling the man down into a bone crushing hug. Tears formed in his eyes as he held the man.
"Genesis, you're scaring me, what's wrong." Angeal said, not sure what to do, Genesis was always loud, cocky and composed. Nothing ever seemed to affect him. Now he was quiet and an emotional wreck.
"I-" Genesis tried to speak again, but the words were stolen from his throat. "I missed you." was all he could manage.
"Missed me? How could you miss me? You just saw me last night at dinner." Angeal asked, now more confused than ever.
Genesis closed his eyes tightly. Angeal was smart, Angeal knew that there was something wrong. Would it hurt to tell him? Minerva had implied to do whatever it took. Part of him thought he should ask Cloud, but the other part argued that he might need Angeal to help him find Cloud. Mind made up, he started to speak again.
Voice trembling, he began to tell Angeal his story. "I missed you, because it's been near 15 years since I've seen you."
"Genesis," Angeal said with a laugh, pulling out of the man's grip and standing. "I should have known, come on, I don't think Lazard is going to tolerate us being late. He feels he's got something to prove. He really will assign you to the cadets."
"I-" Genesis started again, Angeal thought he was joking to get out of a meeting? He supposed it was something his past self would have done. "I'm serious, Angeal. I'm not lying, I swear, not about something like this."
"Genesis." Angeal said, a bit of doubt in his voice. "That's a bit hard to believe."
"The world was dying- no it had died, Minerva, she sent us back here at the last moment." Genesis tried to continue on with his story.
"Minerva? Did you fall asleep reading Loveless again?" Angeal said, reaching over and picking the book up, handing it to his friend.
"Damnit" Genesis said, taking the book from Angeal's hand and throwing it across the room. The back of the book hit the wall and a few pages flew out. "What do I have to do to get you to believe me? I can't do this, I can't be him, not again."
Angeal's eyes went wide. "Genesis." He almost whispered the man's name. Genesis would never ever treat his copy of Loveless like that. The man cherished the book like it was his child. This wasn't some joke he was playing. "What happened to you?"
"A lot, most I am hoping to prevent. But I need your help, you know more about the cadets then I do. There was a man, Cloud Strife, you never got to meet him, but-" Genesis had to stop for a moment thinking of his lover. "He would either have just entered or just be entering the program now. He was sent back with me and I have to find him. He's from Nibelhiem, spiky blonde hair and deep blue eyes. "
"A cadet? I'm not sure, but I can check the records." Angeal said, taking in the man before him. He realized with his last statement that he believed Genesis's words. His stomach twisted and he really took in the man before him. He held himself completely different, he seemed more broken and worn. Genesis had always been confident, if not overly so.
"Thank you." Genesis said and the words were so pure and honest that Angeal truly was startled. What had happened to his friend?
"You stay here, I'll tell Lazard you're sick. After the meeting, I'll search the database for Cloud Strife and find out if he's at Shinra or not." Angeal said, he still couldn't wrap his mind completely around what Genesis had told him, but finding a cadet wasn't too abnormal.
"Just, Angeal, please don't say anything, at least not until we find Cloud." Genesis asked his friend.
"Alright." Angeal said softly, "I really should go or they will be sending someone else after us soon. Will you be alright?"
"I'll be fine. With what the last 5 years have been like, occupying myself in my old apartment will be easy." Genesis admitted. Angeal wanted to ask him so much, but he didn't think he could handle the answers the man would give at the moment.
With that Angeal turned and left.
Angeal was usually dutiful and attentive in meetings. It had mostly been about the status on the war in Wutai, Scarlet going on about some new weapons design and Lazard insisting that there should be a bigger SOLDIER presence, if they wanted the war to end anytime soon. Today however, he just couldn't focus. His mind kept wandering back to what Genesis had told him.
The only person who questioned him on whether or not Genesis was sick had been Sephiroth, who was nearly as used to the man's tactics as Angeal was. This time Angeal could honestly assure him that something was wrong with their friend. He couldn't tell him that it was one of two things, he was either Genesis from the future or the man had finally lost his mind. He supposed this mysterious Cloud Strife would be the answer to which one was true.
When it was over, he simply stood and left the room. Usually he would stay a moment and make sure there was no further need of himself, but today he had other things to do and most just assumed he was going to check on Genesis.
He slipped back up to his room and logged on to the company employee database. It would have looked suspicious for Genesis to start sifting through Cadet records, his opinion of them well know, but Angeal liked to keep an eye out on them. He momentary wondered who was crazier as he typed in Cloud's name, Genesis for his story or Angeal for believing it.
As he hit enter, his blood ran cold. In front of him was the profile of a cadet accepted just a week ago. Genesis's description was correct, even down to the man's home town. Either this was an elaborate prank Genesis was pulling or he had been telling the truth. Some of the last threads of doubt were slipping from his mind. Decision made, he jotted down some information and left his room.
He strode across the Shinra complex, making his way to the cadet dorms. This Cloud Strife person hadn't officially started training yet, so the dorms would be the best place to find him.
As he got closer, he heard a bit of a scuffle.
"Strife! Get your ass back in those barracks, you don't clearance for damn near anything in this building yet." He heard one of the 3rds assigned to the cadet dorms yell.
"I told you. Go get Commander Rhapsodos, he'll explain it to you, otherwise, I'm going to knock you out and go find him anyway. I don't really care which." He heard a young male voice say, the odd thing that struck Angeal was that the voice was calm and cool.
"Are you trying to get yourself kicked out before you even begin? I have half a mind to actually go get the man so he can show you how little he cares for cadets and their attitudes. I guarantee you won't be here when he gets done." The 3rd yelled back at the man.
Angeal finally turned the corner and saw the confrontation. The 3rd class, who he didn't recognize, was red in the face, at least as much as he could see with the man's helmet. He looked about ready to snap. The man he assumed to be Cloud however was standing there, arms crossed, with an impatient look on his face.
"It's alright." Angeal said, placing a hand on the 3rd.
"Commander Hewely, sir." The 3rd saluted. "This cadet here seems to think he has some kind of business with Commander Rhapsodos." The 3rd laughed a bit.
"That's because he does, I've actually been sent down here to retrieve him." Angeal said, giving the man a smile.
The reaction was immediate, the man paled and started to sputter- "But! But! I- oh no" he said, burying his hands in his head. Cloud for his part just gave Angeal a calculating look.
"It's alright, you had no way to know, I won't tell him and I doubt cadet Strife here will either." Angeal said, glancing over at the man.
"I really don't care, can we go now?" Cloud looked up at Angeal. Angeal almost did a double take, he could have swore he saw a bit of Mako shine in the man's eye.
"Yes, follow me, cadet." Angeal said. Turing to head back to the man building, Cloud for his part just stepped around the horrified 3rd and followed Angeal.
Once they were alone on the Elevator heading back to the SOLDIER floor, Cloud finally spoke. "He told you, didn't he?" Cloud was still looking straight forward.
"About the time travel? Yes, though I admit it's a bit hard to believe." Angeal said, glancing down at Cloud.
"Doesn't surprise me." Cloud said with a sigh, "That he told you, that is. You were his best friend before everything happened. It's true, however."
Angeal just shook his head, half expecting to wake up from a strange dream. "It's all a bit much to take in. Especially knowing I died some 15 years before you came back."
"He told you how you died?" Cloud looked up at the man in shock and with his wide eyes, Angeal confirmed there was definitely Mako in them.
"No," Angeal said, shaking his head, "And I don't think I want to know, but he did say it had been 15 years since had seen me, I assumed."
"Oh," Cloud settled back down a bit. The elevator dinged and the door slid open to the floor Angeal, Genesis and Sephiroth shared.
Angeal stepped out and Cloud followed. He had a million questions, but wasn't sure he wanted the answers to them. He stepped up to Genesis's door and opened it.
"Genesis, I have your ca-" Before he could finish, Cloud pushed past him and Genesis had leapt from the couch. They met half way across the room, arms flung around each other. Angeal stepped in and shut the door.
"Gaia, Cloud." Genesis whispered. "What are we going to do?"
"We can enjoy the fact we aren't dead and worry about everything else later." Cloud said, looking up into Genesis's face.
Angeal was a bit startled when Genesis leaned in and kissed Cloud. The kiss what whole heartedly returned. Angeal wasn't a modest man, but he blushed as he turned away from the scene, the fact that he was involved with this man was something Genesis had kept from him.
"We're being rude." Cloud said when their lips parted.
"Angeal won't mind, well, maybe he will, but he'll get over it." Genesis said, not wanting to let Cloud go.
"How much did you tell him?" Cloud asked, the unasked question was 'and how much more do you want too?'
"Only the basics, I assume." Angeal said, risking a glance back around.
Genesis nodded, "I didn't want to say too much, not without you here." He looked back down to Cloud.
"Well, we weren't exactly told not to tell anyone, in fact, we were told to do whatever it takes." Cloud said.
"Do you want to bring in anyone else?" Genesis asked him.
Cloud glanced at Angeal with a slightly pained expression on his face. "No," He shook his head. "The only other person here at Shinra I would trust doesn't even know I exist yet."
A look of understanding crossed Genesis face, Zack had just barely began his tutelage under Angeal and, depending on how things went, would never be the friend Cloud remembered.
"What about Sephiroth?" Angeal asked, Cloud may not know him, but he was Genesis and Angeal's friend.
A look of utter hatred flashed on Cloud's face and a firm "No" left his mouth. Angeal was slightly taken aback by the malice in his voice.
"Cloud, it's not a bad idea," Genesis said calmly. "You didn't know him before, if he finds out the truth, away from her influence, and with out-" Genesis closed his eyes. "Without being goaded, we could save him as well."
"I'll think about it, but, I'm sorry, I just can't possibly think he'd be worth saving." Cloud shook his head. "But if he doesn't go insane, then that solves a lot of our problems."
"Exactly." Genesis pointed out. At this point Angeal was lost. "Now we have a lot to explain."
"I think I need to sit down." Angeal said, moving to one of Genesis's chairs. For their part, Genesis and Cloud sat next to each other on the couch.
Genesis glanced at Cloud before starting his story. "A lot of this is painful, but we should be able to fix things now, now that we know the truth." He started. Cloud held his hand. "You know I was adopted." Genesis said, stating a fact.
"Yes." Angeal nodded
"Well, I'm not sure how to say this, but not too far from the future here, I discovered why. I had been a failed experiment conducted by the science department, specifically by doctor Hollander. I was dying, he made me promises of a cure and I believed him. I didn't have a choice. The experiment left my body and mind unstable. He never intended to cure me though, he only wanted revenge on Hojo." Genesis said, the memories were painful, but they were old.
"Genesis." Angeal whispered
"I'm not done, just hear me out," Genesis said,
"I can tell him if you like, I know the story well enough." Cloud said, squeezing the man's hand.
"No, he has a right to hear it from me." Genesis said.
"Hear what?" Angeal said, it felt like a ball of lead was forming in his stomach.
"The name of the project was project G and involved injecting a woman with dormant Jenova cells, then taking those cells and injecting them into a fetus. I thought it had been named after myself, but I was wrong." Genesis looked away. "It was named after the woman they injected the cells into, Gillian."
"My mother?" Angeal said, a look of shock on his face.
"Yes, she had been Doctor Hollanders' secretary at the time. Later, when she had her own child, parts of the experiment were passed on to you as well." Genesis finished that portion of the story.
"Is that how I died?" The words were past Angeal's lips before he even knew it.
"Yes, you ended up degrading as well and we didn't find the cure in time." Genesis told him, he wasn't about to let him know he'd died at Zack's hands. A roundabout suicide.
"Am I dying now? Are you?" Angeal asked.
"You won't show signs for almost another 6 months to a year and, since I know how to cure it now, you should be fine. I had, on the other hand, at this point already begun the early stages. I think when Minerva sent us back, she wiped the degradation from my system." Genesis said, looking at Cloud.
He just nodded, "She left me with my enhancements as well." That explained the Mako eyes then.
"What about Sephiroth? What happened to him?" Angeal asked, concern in his voice.
"That's the next part of the story." Genesis acknowledged. "The Jenova project had two parts, Project G directed by Dr Hollander, which I've described, and a project directed by Professor Hojo, project S."
"Sephiroth?" Angeal asked.
"Yes, his experiment involved the use of active Jenova cells. Sephiroth's body was able to absorb them better and so he never degraded, but it had another side effect." Genesis said, shaking his head. "By the time he found out, I was convinced in my madness that we were all monsters. I told him the truth in the worst possible way, in the reactor in Nibelheim, when he was surrounded by the evidence of Hojo's experiments. He readily believed me and the active Jenova cells made him susceptible to her influence."
"He destroyed the town, he destroyed everything." Cloud said, the memory still flaring up the anger in his heart. "I was only an infantry man at the time, Z-" Cloud started, then stopped. "The other SOLDIER I was with at the time fought him and was nearly killed when I entered the reactor." Cloud said, closing his eyes. "I still can't remember much, but I know somehow Sephiroth didn't survive and I did along with the other SOLDIER, only barely. Hojo found us, infuriated that his greatest creation was destroyed. He experimented on us for over 4 years. Eventually the SOLDIER I was with broke us out, I was so sick of Mako poisoning and the experiments that I was less than worthless. He died trying to protect me. When I was coherent again, I believed that I had been the 1st Class SOLDIER had the enhancements to back it up. "
"That's why you hate him?" Angeal asked quietly. The story was impossible, but at the same time, the truth in the voice. The last of his doubt swept away.
"That's the beginning of why I hate him." Cloud said, the malice still in his voice. "5 years later Sephiroth was resurrected. He tried to destroy everything and, really, in the end got his wish. Many more died and he in his madness called down Meteor, an ancient magic. We stopped him, but at a great cost."
"You two fought Sephiroth again?" Angeal asked.
"No." Genesis shook his head. "That was Cloud and his friends. I was elsewhere."
"Sephiroth didn't know how to stay dead." Cloud said with bitterness in his voice. "I don't know at this point how many times I've defeated him. It seemed, the more the world crumbled, the easier it was for him to return."
"You're here to keep this from happening?" Angeal looked between the two. At this point, the idea that Cloud could defeat Sephiroth was the most believable thing Angeal had heard.
"Yes," Genesis started. "We have to kill Hojo and Hollander, contain Jenova and I would prefer if we saved Sephiroth."
"I've always know that Jenova was the reason for his madness, but it's still a hard idea for me to accept. The only thing he didn't take away from me is you. I suppose meeting the man before he went insane might be a start." Cloud admitted.
"Do you have a plan?" Angeal asked.
"Not really, we were about as surprised as you are that we were sent back. We haven't had much of a chance to do anything, except explaining things to you." Genesis explained.
"We also have to do something about the use of Mako energy. Even if we stop everything else, that will eventually kill the planet." Cloud pointed out.
"Yes, but the others are more immediate threats. If we manage to do everything else and still maintain a presence in the company, then we might be able to do things with a minimum amount of bloodshed. Simply blowing up reactors like your friends isn't the way to go about it." Genesis pointed out.
"You blew up reactors?" Angeal asked, looking to Cloud.
"Long story." Cloud said. "But Genesis is right, doing things from within might be best. Though I'm not sure if it's the best for me to stay with the company. I wouldn't have much weight unless I was in SOLDIER and I can't join without rising to many questions about why I'm already enhanced."
"We can deal with them, we plan on killing Hollander and Hojo anyway, people already know I know you, I can make you my apprentice. I'll claim I met you on a mission or something. We can figure out something with your enhancements. I don't care, you're not leaving me alone here." Genesis said, the last part had a bit of possessiveness to it.
"Alright." Cloud conceded. "And it might be a good way to get me close to Hojo, though I don't know how I would be able to kill him and remain with the company."
"We'll figure something out." Genesis insisted.
"I don't know how I feel about just killing them." Angeal finally spoke up.
"I can understand your reluctance. And I'm sure I can find Hollander's research papers again to prove to you what he's done. Trust me, if they were left alive, they would continue to experiment. The Goddess herself asked for their deaths." Genesis told his old friend.
"Still, Hollander has taken care of us since we were children." Angeal said, though it helped him realize the truth of Genesis's words. Why would a top Shinra Scientist play doctor to a couple of small town children?
"The man never had our needs in mind, trust me." Genesis almost growled. "Though I won't ask you to assist. Only that you don't stop us."
"I-" Angeal started. "I won't stand in your way. I think seeing the research notes will help me understand. At this point I believe you, but concrete proof would be helpful."
"I understand." Genesis said. "Asking you to believe our story was a lot, but I didn't know what else to do."
"It's ok, and I'm glad you told me. It's just, how do I look some of these people in the face?" Angeal asked.
"We'll figure things out. I promise. We won't let the world fall again, we can't." Genesis said "This is a remarkable gift we've been given and I plan on letting everyone, who possibly can, benefit."
"I should be going soon," Angeal said, looking at the clock. "I almost forgot, I'm supposed to be meeting Zack." Cloud flinched at the name.
"Go meet your student, Cloud and I have a bit to discuss, come back here for dinner and we'll let you know what we've figured out." Genesis tried to sound reassuring.
Cloud had gone silent and Angeal started to piece things together. "The one you said who didn't know you yet, the SOLDIER who was with you at Nibelheim, it was Zack, wasn't it?"
Angeal almost regretted asking the question when Cloud's features twisted with sorrow. "Yes." he said with a heavy voice. "How did you figure it out?"
"You seemed pretty adamant about not sharing his name and you almost slipped earlier. Then with your reaction when I said his name, I took a guess." Angeal said, looking away.
"I'll save him, I promise, even if we aren't friends this time around." Cloud said, looking up at Angeal.
"I believe you will, but I wouldn't worry about not being his friend, if you even try a little bit, I imagine he'll accept you easily." Angeal tried to reassure the blonde.
"That is the way Zack is, I suppose." Cloud said with a sad smile. His thoughts on Zack wandered as Angeal said goodbye and shut the door quietly.
"What are we going to do?" Cloud said, leaning over into Genesis.
"Save the planet, this time for good." Genesis said, holding Cloud tight.
Since she's caught up with Serendipity my beta has graciously offered to go back over this story as well. Thank fenhuang.
Please leave a review- DHT