This was another short that I'm actually rather fond of, mostly as it's written in first person and it isn't something I write often.
This one is also set some time after the movie and is also in Cloud's POV.
"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them". – Twelfth Night Act II, Scene V, William Shakespeare.
"I wouldn't be who I was if it wasn't for you!" Tifa smiled brightly at me as she playfully punched my arm. I touched the bare skin where her gloved fist had struck and slowly ran my own gloved hand up and down. I'm sure Tifa doesn't realise how much strength she puts into her playful punches sometimes. She smirked before turning back around and busying herself.
I'm not sure how we got to the conversation we're at now, but I'm pretty sure we were thinking about how much things might have been different if something hadn't happened.
I lean back into the wooden chair and rock on the two back legs, waiting for Tifa's slightly angered tone, where she would tell me not to do something like this in front of the kids. But she's too busy getting the kids ready for school to notice; then again I'm not exactly looking for attention anyways.
"Will you be here later?" Denzel suddenly asks. I turn and look at the scruffy haired boy, his bangs are starting to fall into his eyes and some strands of hair are already past his jaw. There's a look of uncertainty in his eyes as he stares back at me and it breaks open the guilt inside of me, like a dam breaking down under the pressure of a river.
"Of course." There's a small narrowing of his eyes, like he's testing my answer but it quickly disappears and is replaced with his bright smile. He nods once more before Tifa grips onto his shoulder and ushers him out.
"Be back soon!" She waves at me once before she takes Marlene's hand in her own and leaves to walk the two kids to their school.
It's going to take some time to get the kids trust back, maybe even Tifa's I know it. Actually, it'll be a while to get everyone's trust back. For some reason it feels like they expect me to pack my bags and leave, that the idea of me living out a normal life seems absurd. I'm not sure what they expect me to do, maybe go and live in the wilderness killing off any monsters I see? The idea makes me snort with laughter out loud, making me thankful that Tifa isn't here to see that, can't let her think I'm starting to lose my sanity as well!
Maybe it does seem a little strange that after everything, I'm just going to be living out the rest of my life delivering packages and helping out at a bar. Maybe they expect me to take up some position at W.R.O like the...defence...erm...manager. The idea makes me shiver, taking up a place of authority and being the head of some army. No, from what I know Generals of armies don't have a great track record.
What if...I had gotten into SOLDIER? What if I got to a place of authority, what if I'd made First Class? How would have things differed? Would I been able to save Zack? Could I have prevented Nibelheim burning down?
No point thinking like that Strife.
Stop living in the past, right?
The bar is dramatically quiet but I can still hear every single noise outside. If someone dropped a pin in this building I'd hear it! I'd agreed to have a day off from working to spend it with Tifa and help her out with the bar, but as of yet she's not given me any, duties.
I think Tifa's starting to trust me again, I mean, I don't actually deserve any kind of...kindness! Barret also managed to confirm that suspicion for me after he threatened me never to leave Tifa again and if I do I shouldn't ever drag my Spiky ass anywhere near her or anyone else for that matter.
The door chimes open but I don't need to lift my head to see who it is. I already automatically know who the soft and light footsteps belong to by now. "You okay?" I finally turn to see Tifa's pale face. Her hands are on her hips and she's twisting her body slightly as she stares down at me.
"Yeah." She raises a single eyebrow like she doesn't believe me for a second. "Just thinking." That seems like a good enough answer.
"Oh?" She moved behind me and starts collecting the plates the kids had left after breakfast.
"How things might have been different." There's no point lying to Tifa, she's some kind of human lie detector now, most likely because she has to put up with Marlene and Denzel's white lies and on top of that there's Yuffie too.
"Maybe things might have been different." Tifa calls out. I frown at her answer, I definitely didn't expect that answer especially from her. I twist round to face her as she tests the water running from the faucet with her finger. She's the positive one, she the one who can hold everyone together with a single smile, I'm the one who's the pessimist. "But there's no point thinking like that." And with that extra answer the world balance is restored, the strong Tifa is still before me.
She looks back at me with her glistening dark eyes. "You're you and that's all that matters!" She laughs once before flicking the water on her finger at me before collecting the pile of plates left on the table. "Now, if you're finished thinking, do you mind helping getting the bar ready?"
I don't answer and push myself out of the seat to head into adjoining room.
Tifa's sure hit the nail on the head. I'm not me at all! The words sound completely stupid I know, maybe that's why I'm not saying it out loud. But honestly I'm not me. I know how stupid I sound, but in truth, I think Cloud Strife died seven years ago. Because since then I've only ever lived how Hojo intended.
The thought of the man's name makes my skin crawl and for a second as I walk into the bar I want to smash my fist through the door, thinking that the black haired scrawny man was in front of me.
He wanted to make a Sephiroth clone and even though he dubbed me a failure, out of all of his experiments which one is still standing and which one surpassed his original plan of making a clone? In a way I was a failure but at the same time I'm his greatest achievement.
I try to distract myself, my thoughts are clearly going to drag me down into a spiral of guilt and depression. I start to lift the chairs off of the tables and place them back down on the floor, in an attempt to help Tifa get ready for opening at lunch.
I wouldn't be who I was if it weren't for you! Tifa's voice rings in my ears. Yeah, maybe she would never have had to go through all of this if she never met me, if she had never found me in Midgar those years ago.
I should be saying the same thing to Hojo. He made me into what I am now and I can never change that.
"Cloud?" I turn and look at Tifa standing in the doorway. Her arms are folded across her chest as she leans against the frame. The sunlight shines through the window behind her, giving her an ethereal glow. "Something wrong?"
I place the stool in my hands onto the floor, turning away from her. I want to cry out that I'm fine, but lying to Tifa always would hurt her. Plus, according to Yuffie when I was all 'depressed' she said I gave off some negative atmosphere. Which of course is stupid, but if it's that noticeable...
"Still thinking." I sigh. I move to the next table and continue moving the stools.
"What about?" There's a commanding tone to her voice like she's ordering me and I turn to face her. She's barely moved, but her lips have formed a more thin line. I know how much she hates me being like this, I even hate myself, but one thought leads to another...
I sigh once more. How the hell was I going to explain myself without sounding like a sulking teen? "How much Hojo's experiment was a, success."
Her face softens and she finally moves. I've never wanted anyone's sympathy, I don't want any 'it must have been so hard for you'. "Cloud..." She pauses. I'm not even sure what she's going to say, it's not like she can relate.
"What happened to you was terrible..."
Terrible? Was that it? Even I knew that, but everything was a bit more than just terrible. "It's not just that." I interrupt her and I see she's clearly taken aback. "Everything I've been able to do, is just because of him." I wouldn't have been able to save everyone. "I wouldn't have been able to stop Sephiroth."
"Well that's a lie." Her voice has hardened again and I actually look up at her. Her eyebrows are furrowed slightly as she stares at me. "Are you telling me that, if you hadn't gone through those experiments with Hojo, you would have just sat around and let the planet die?" There's a small laugh to her voice and eventually her smile takes over.
"No I was just-"
"So you made your own choice then, that you were going to stop Sephiroth and save the planet right?"
I guess I did. I guess Tifa's right. But at the time when I decided to do that, I did believe I was some ex-SOLDIER first class and hadn't been experimented on for five years.
"What happened to you and Zack was horrible, I know I can never understand or relate to that." She pauses once more, snapping me out of my thoughts. "But the Cloud Strife I know already decided he was going to be a hero before that happened."
"We were kids-" I began. We were just kids. What kids didn't want to be heroes?
"You stopped Sephiroth before you had mako or Jenova cells inside of you." She placed her hand on my chest and it caught me off guard. The moment I shuddered at the touch she pulled her hand away. I half smiled sympathetically at her and she returned it. "You stopped Sephiroth in Nibelheim when you were sixteen."
Tifa was right, I had stopped him then. "So don't tell me you wouldn't have been able to stop him." There's a smile on her face once more. "You decided you were going to be a hero that day and no amount of Jenova cells or mako has ever changed that." She moves backwards and smiles. "Cloud Strife you were born for greatness, not at one point was it ever thrust upon you."
As I'm not the most imaginative person that I used to be, I'm open to suggestions, so if there's anything you'd like to read or something (providing I actually like the idea -no offence) leave a comment and I'll see what I can do.