Disclaimer: This fiction is used without permission for the purpose of entertainment only and is not meant for sale or profit. All original characters are the creation of the author.

Warning: YAOI, Sephiroth/Cloud..... eventually.

ALTER QUIES
Chapter 05: trauma the truths...

"Where do you think you're goin'?"

"Out of the way, Barret." Cloud couldn't help but to glare very hard at his friend, or his ex-friend. If it weren't on their friendship's account, he would have already hurt him... or anyone. He had suppressed everything for too long and they were not going to hold any longer... not much longer.

"You sly bastard... you've gone much too far for my liking. And who told you that you could use my name?"

Cloud hissed angrily, he really had no mood to deal with this.

"What? Angry? So, 're you going burn Canyon Cosmo this time and go killing everyone again?"

"It's none of your business," warned Cloud. "Get out of my way, before I am going to hurt you."

"Oh! How kind of you to warn me, and I'd be afraid huh?" Barret growled, "Listen, I don't care a damn about you, or Red's theory, so I am.....!!!"

Without waiting for him to finish his sentence, Cloud had abruptly sent a punch to his abdomen. Barret gasped in wordless sound as he slowly dropped to his knees on the ground, crashing tightly on it. There were nervous gasps as witnesses began to crowd away the so-called dangerous man, when a familiar voiced out among the crowd.

"Barret?!"

All this time, Aeris had been wandering the village and she came out of the Materia shop when she heard noises outside. She had not expecting to see such situation, and by the time, she kneeled down to Barret's side, Barret's pain had gone beyond that he could barely register any of her words. She checked his body, fortunately it would not give any more damage to the body than a serious bruise.

( They can't be trusted. And Aeris is dead! )

Expressionlessly, Cloud regarded the fallen man and the flower girl coldly. "And why should I care a damn about you when everything is a lie?"

Expectedly, the people who had enclosed the area immediately retreated and disappeared as Cloud made his way out of the village. There was no one dared to protest or stands in his way. When he went past the gate, the gatekeeper could only stand as far as he could and nervously watched the blond-haired man disappeared deep into the Ancient Forest.

** ***** **

Cloud wasn't paying any attention to where he was going. All he knew was that he wanted to be as far away from population as possible. Any breasts or monsters blocking at his way would be easily defeated even without his Ultima Sword. He did not care how many of these creatures would come, as long as he angered out all his frustration. However, they weren't even above his average challenge eventually enraged him.

( They can't be trusted. )

( No one is to be trusted. )

He thought it was some tricks set by Sephiroth and Jenova, there was no way the video Bugenhagen showed was real. After all he had suffered, fought and won, was this all he got in return?

A fake reality?

Maybe if he kills Sephiroth again, everything would be back to normal?

'Normal'. He saw himself killing and dismembered Tifa's remains into something so unrecognizable, so horrible, so inhuman; AND he was so delighted, so satisfied!

All were not real!

Cloud growled aloud in another frustration and snapped off a branch that blocked his way. He was so frustrated, that he failed to notice the sudden of the air. That he failed to see the sudden stillness in the usually lively forest. That he failed to recognize the familiar sickening sensations until it spoke to him.

"Indeed... humans cannot be trusted."

Cloud startled immediately and held his head up only to find a little girl, standing a few meters away from him. She was small, with bare, skinny legs under a white dress and messy hair hung beyond her shoulders. It was her hair that abnormally the most as they seemed to glow transparently. She was almost like every ordinary girl in Canyon Cosmo, but the look of ancient coldness in her horrifying dark eyes, betrayed all. Her smile sent nothing but shivers of fear.

He took a few moments before finding his voice again.

"Jenova."

Hearing her name, she grinned in delight. "My child... look at how much you have grown. I could sense... myself... in you, child."

"What do you want?" Cloud eyed at her warily.

"What do I want?" she inquired amusingly. "I want to be with you again, my lovable child. As every mother wishes to be with her son! Now, you are back... you look so much... different than before! You have changed... of course for the better."

He hissed, "What the hell are you talking?"

"I am talking about how long you have been away from me." Her childish voice dropped and saddened. "You were always there besides me in past... I was so lonely... I had missed those days badly... but now, it is over. Now, you are back. It's over...."

"Why me?"

"Why not Sephiroth, you meant to ask."

Cloud glared at her. "Don't read my mind."

She giggled childishly, "Why... I didn't realize after a year, you still missed him...."

"...Missed?"

A laugh. "Oh yes. Oh yes. How can I forget... you are NOT 'him', yet... you ARE 'him'. How ionic that she uses... knowing the risks she would have. Such suicide and foolish acts that bring so much favors to me! But..."

Her eyes turned back to him, and all of a sudden, he felt so naked.

"Why trust humans? After all they did to you....

"I know... because I have been watching you since you have arrived. I saw how they treated you, my child. You shouldn't... be here.

"But you are still here, because of her meddling."

She paused and looked at Cloud. "Hm? You don't understand?" Giggled again. "I'm surprised... she haven't tell you anything.... Another foolish act.

"No... I am not reading your mind... they just send to me willingly. Your thoughts, your emotions... and your memories.... Yes, your memories are... very interesting.

"So interesting that I wishes to rake your mind upside down now!"

Cloud remained unmoved, but glared at her.

"Don't be. Don't be afraid me... I'm your mother. The one who could love you wholly...." She held her hand, and before he knew it, her short arm stretched elastically long and was already just a few inches away from his face.

"I can be the mother you always wanted...."

Cloud winced as memories threatened to surface and shook it away. This was not the time.

"Don't bury it away... you are free from it now....

"Come... come with me...I need you. You need me. WE need each other...."

Then... she no longer was speaking.

Comeeeeeee....

All sounds faded to a distant babble as Cloud struggled to stay awake and focus. However, it was useless under her mental assault... it was much subtle... a soft, coaxing voice that he couldn't make out or ignore.... and as if her last words triggered something, all of a sudden he felt a wave of dizziness, threatening him to drown into the bottomless nauseous abyss of delirium.

You know I loveeeeeee you....

They were not much about words, but rather about thoughts. Give up humanity and she would open the path of great powers, dominions... and God. Thoughts that had come whispering more sinister and seductive promises... and threatens.

Threaten? He felt threatened? Why? What was it that gave her something to threaten him this badly?

It was a small part he did not understand....

( But you have underestimated me, Jenova. )

WHAT?

If he were any younger, he knew he would not stand a chance, even to the weakest manipulative assault from her. He would have already jumped at the offer, probably without hesitation, or resistance. It would have been so easy....

Jenova screeched when Cloud had twisted her hand and tore it apart. She retreated slightly and grabbed her damaged bloody arm as she hissed angrily at Cloud.

YOU! How dare you...!!

As Cloud tossed her severed hand casually to the ground, he slowly smiled but his eyes was glowing with a cool, intense stare of concentration. Like the stare of a hunter watching for the slightest sign of weakness in its prey. Glint of excitement seemed to be also in his eyes as he made his way to her and warmed up his muscles.

"The timing is perfect... let's test what I have learnt from Tifa so far... shall we?"

You will regret....

"No, I won't. You are all the 'punch bag' I needed."

...?

"I'm surprised. Thought you could read my mind...?"

......

"Then let me tell you, Jenova." Immediately after he finished his sentence, he wasted no time as he burst into speed and connected his full force on the innocent looking girl. Came quickly his second fist, but were unfortunately blocked and recovered in time to counter his attack back. His reflexives were working even faster than the wheels in his mind, before she could deliver her offensive, Cloud sprung away but continued to work his way on her.

"Because I am frustrated and bored, and you are the one able to let out my anger."

He smirked as he mentally voted a point for himself when she thought she had evaded him by protecting with her arms but instead got burnt immensely. One new skill he learnt from Tifa, that was to make use of the materias slotted in his armor and cast it to his hand. That way, even the enemies had dodged his attacks, damages from magic could replace the disadvantage; it was killing two birds with one stone.

He finished casting Fire3 and withdrawn. Using his body weight to send her flying into the trees, several trees fell upon her landing. She gasped, as Cloud did not give her time to recover from the previous threat, in fact her opponent hardly allowed her to get back and counter attacked.

This carnation of Jenova was not anything too tough, but she was not weak as well. He knew he was using almost all his strength to defeat her, he knew it was not necessary to do so and he knew it was somewhat reckless. A tiny prickling feeling he had sensed and knew Sephiroth and the group was not far from him. After Jenova, he had them to handle.

It was as if he did not care at all.

He pinned Jenova to a tree and senselessly sending fists to her. The tree shook violently and cracked as if responding to every of his forces applied. The tree itself would have broke and fell if it was any longer.

THAT'S IT!!

Her scream pieced his mind but he heeded nothing and constantly punching his strength to her. All of a sudden, Jenova's body melted and Cloud's fist plunged in impact with the tree's strong bark.

"What the...?!"

The liquid of what was left of Jenova, poisoning everything it touched as it spilled down the tree. The tree immediately darkened with her acid blood. He frowned, no doubt it was her blood; he could sense her cells.

( There was something slightly... strange about it.... )

Cloud forced to calm the adrenaline in him that threatened to overwhelm him. Instead he concentrated at the liquid for a long moment, then hesitantly reached out to touch it.

He hastily snatched his hand back and absently wiped it on his pants. His disorientation look was replaced with disbelief and dread when suddenly he recalled something. It seemed that that half-forgotten memory had triggered a lock to his questions and everything seemed to now fell into place for Cloud.

Back then, it didn't seem to be very important and he did not take it seriously. Now, everything came back so suddenly that he realized how important it was. This was probably the key to everything.

He turned around and looked blankly at the silver, muscular man standing a few yards away. He wasn't sure exactly what he was looking for, as preposterous as it might sound, but the longer he watched Sephiroth, the more convinced Cloud was right on that newly awakened memory.

Looks like I had been too optimistic about your arrival, son. And do not think you can get this away, for I will return!

Cloud took a deep, shuddering breath.

Until her presence was totally gone, he relaxed and dropped to the ground. He leaned on a tree heavily. He came to realize that he relied too much on his sword that he was now so exhausted even for that ten minutes fight. He silently swore that he would learn hand-to-hand combat once he got himself out of this situation.

However, today was exceptional... at least he had his frustration out. Besides, the workout seemed to had cleaned off an imaginary haze in his head, he was able to think more clearly and calmly. It was as if the previous days, shadows were clouding his thoughts and his rational, that it made him greatly uneasy.

Cloud eyed over the group standing a few distances beside him. The company was now obviously confused but Sephiroth was the first to recover.

While Cloud said nothing about his approach, Sephiroth lowered his eyes and stared at him coldly. They held their stares for a few moments, before Cloud finally heaved a sigh and looked away dully.

"I remembered..." he murmured. "Some time ago, not so long, Nanaki once told me how vast and irregular this universe behaves. It is so unpredictable that even Cetras cannot explain the unexpected, example... this."

Sephiroth remained unmoved.

While the group behind him caught his words, they looked at RedXIII questionably and the breast could only shake his head. "I told you? But I have a good memory and I do believe we have not meet before, lest to tell you about this knowledge."

The blond remained very silent for a long moment before he stood up slowly.

"Of course you have not meet me before." Raking his hair with his hand, he sighed. "Well then, shall we be going? Bugenhagen should be worry about us by now."

"W-what?"

Cloud vaguely waved his hand and said, "Hey, don't worry. I think I'm not the old Cloud Strife you know, so I'm not going to kill anyone of you."

"You think?!"

He shrugged, "My assumptions isn't correct all the time, but at least I wouldn't go around and kill everyone."

Cid snarled, "W-wait a minute! You are going back the village?"

"Then? Where am I supposed to go? To Jenova?"

Cid's jaw dropped and looked at Cloud speechlessly.

"Just kiddin', I'd rather be dead than to be in her arms." He shrugged again. "Besides, are we going to camp here all day if you don't let me go through? And if I might add, I am in a more disadvantage situation than to you. I do not have my sword, and I already have you guys AND Great Sephiroth ready to kill me. I'll lose anyway."

To say the group was shock, it was an understatement. The way Cloud Strife suddenly was acting oh-so-friendly to them and seeing him in a way they would not even imagine he would be, the sun was going to set at the east! It was as if a spirit had possessed Cloud Strife's body. He must be up to something. On the other hand, what he had said was making a lot of senses, so they couldn't say anything.

RedXIII blinked his shock out and tilted his head. "He's quite right, though."

Yuffie shook her head while stammering her words, "S-so... you've remembered?"

"No." Cloud began walking and said plainly, "In the first place, there wasn't a thing to forget."

** ***** **

Bugenhagen was amused when he saw the company returned unscathed and all the anger in Cloud Strife seemed to have dispersed. In fact, he was more willing to return back than getting away like before. Meanwhile, the group was obviously showing uncertainly towards their hated enemy.

If things were to be continued, they might discover some unfound theories that never before mention in history. Now that they were back in his room again....

"So you are saying, 'I' had gone mad three years ago and started killing the people in Nibelheim. Two years later, 'I' reappeared and summoned the Meteor." Cloud stated.

( How surprisingly calm he is.... ) Bugenhagen shook off his thoughts and nodded, "Generally."

The blond frowned thoughtfully ( ...Instead of eight years, it was just three years.... Instead of Sephiroth, it was I... Cloud Strife. )

"There's a few things I do not understand." Cloud asked, "How... or rather, why did I go insane that time?"

That prompted everyone's attention. They looked around with no slight idea for his questions. However, Cloud did not miss the strange exchange between Sephiroth and Zack.

Bugenhagen shook his head. "No one knew exactly what had happened to you."

Cloud nodded slowly. ( Another mystery still not yet solved, nevertheless there is still something going on between.... No, THEY must have known. )

"Then, I guess you better explain for yourself, for we wish to know what is going on. If you don't mind."

The blond glanced up to find everyone's suspicious stare at him. He breathed slightly and crossed his arms. "Not that I'm blaming you all for thinking that.... Anyway, I know it may sounds weird for everyone, but for my story, it was not I that went insanity."

Cloud paused for a while and continued, "It was Sephiroth."

Zack blinked. "Yeah, it's weird and I don't understand."

The silver-haired man said nothing about it.

Barret groaned, "I can't believe I am sitting and listening to his lies here...."

"Barret...." said Aeris.

Cloud turned solemnly. "In MY story," he pointed to Sephiroth. "He discovered some things about Jenova and went insane during the incident of Nibelheim. It was Sephiroth who burned Nibelheim. It was Sephiroth was tried to become God and nearly destroyed the world. Basically, everything is the same... except what you know about me, is what I know about Sephiroth in my story. Hmm... how do I explain this... Sephiroth hate me, because of what 'I' did. On the other hand, I hate Sephiroth, because of what 'he' did... I think."

"Hold! Hold on!" shouted Cid and held out his hand. "You're makin' no sense!"

Vincent seemed to have caught his message and said quietly, "You were saying as if you came from another world."

"I think I am."

"You what?!" cried Cid and Barret.

"You are talking about the Parallel Planes, are you not?" asked the elderly, with a hint of amusement and curiosity.

Cloud nodded. "'Parallel Universes' or 'Parallel Worlds', they're the same."

"...Parallel worlds?" the silver-haired man raising an eyebrow at Bugenhagen.

"The parallel world notion." Bugenhagen explained, "It is like a Planet separated from Planet because it's moving around a different time branch or it's been pumped through some weird little dimensional interface. It is Planet, except for some minor changes. For your information, there could be a few parallel universes. For example, you may be an intelligent person in this world, but in another parallel world, you can be the world's dumbest person. In the second parallel world, you may be the ruler of the world and the list of possibility goes on."

He paused to find a few puzzled frowns and tried to simplify his theory. "What I am trying to say is the hypothesis being that the world we perceive is only one aspect of it. In a very realistic sense, there is the physical world, there is the mental world, there is the emotional world, and they are different layers of reality that we experience every day and they're all run together."

"And I just take this further, saying that there are more layers, that there is more distinction between them, and that moving from one to another is a more traumatic event."

Barret grumbled, "Can explain in simple words?"

Cloud turned to Barret, "What he means is, there are many worlds running under different dimensions. And to cross these worlds, is something almost impossible."

Bugenhagen then nodded, greatly appreciating. "In some books, they believed none should known of one another's existence. The worlds are parallel, are somewhat connected and would interrupt each other's flows greatly if such event occurs."

"...So, if Cloud Strife and you are speaking the truth -- I mean, IF -- then, his appearance here is interrupting the Planet's flow?" Cid asked.

"Yes. However, the theory has not yet proven, we can never be certain about it."

"Will it damage the planet?" Aeris asked.

The elderly shrugged his shoulder, "I'm sorry child, but I can't really help much. This, have never happened in the written history. With the Planet's silence I would require more time to solve this puzzle. We do not know why he is even here and how he is here."

"But!" Yuffie cried out, "How do we know for sure, he's speakin' the truth? I mean, you'd said it, it is impossible for such things to happen."

"Besides, how do we know you are from another world?" asked Cid.

"Parallel world," Cloud corrected. "There's a difference between 'another world' and 'parallel world'. That crisis from the sky came from another world in the very same universe of yours, while I am originated from this planet but of a parallel universe. Otherwise, it is an accurate assessment."

"Fine, I got your point. So, your proof?"

The young man blinked and merely shrugged. "Other than believing my words, I guess there's nothing I can proved I am not from this universe."

"How convenient...."

Bugenhagen thought for a while and suggested, "Actually we can get him to Midgar to extract his memories to see whether he's lying or not. Didn't Rufus mention that experiment is a success?"

Cloud raised his eyebrow, "Extract my... memories?"

"Yes. ShinRa have been working on that quite some time... don't you know? Or rather, in your world."

"Probably the technologies aren't as advance as compared to here."

"Is it? Pretty fascinating...." laughed Bugenhagen.

Barret rolled his eyes exhaustingly and muttered, "I can't believe we are getting cozy with him...."

"Hey, it isn't a bad thing," Zack grinned. "It's better to have more friends than enemies."

"How typical of you, Zack. How can you trust him so easily?!"

The dark-haired SOLIDER blinked, "I don't know. I just trust him, maybe it's the SOLDIER's uniform thing?"

The dark-haired SOLIDER was totally oblivious to Cloud as he flinched at his last sentence and stared at Zack thoughtfully. It was not long when he heard Barret's mumblings and in the blond's mind, something was decided.

"Anyway," Bugenhagen suddenly said. "It's pretty late, why don't you all go grab some food and have a good rest. All questions or anything, we can discuss it tomorrow."

Cloud glanced towards the windows and found the sun had indeed set and the night was slowly overtaking the world. It was strange to find the same sunset while everything around him was not the same. He heaved a sigh and relaxed against the couch.

It had been really a very long day.

** ***** **

"Yeah, I'm sorry things have to go this way. But don't worry, he's really under our control though he may looks a bit carefree. No, I mean he won't go around attacking people. He's really alright." Zack struggled to explain, "Besides, it's only for tonight."

The shopkeeper shrugged nervously, slightly unbelieving his words but if it was his and the general's words, he guessed he could trust them. He then nodded absent-mindedly.

"Y-yeah, no problem. As long as he's staying quietly, its s-should be fine... I think."

Zack sighed and looked back at Sephiroth, "I guess now left the problem of used to it or not, otherwise they should be fine."

The silver-haired nodded. It wasn't easy for the commoners to trust Cloud like they did, but of course, it was expected. They were just ordinary people with ordinary lives; they were untrained and helpless against skilled soldiers. Completely different from them, with skills and weapons they could defend themselves. How could they stand a chance when there was such dangerous guy wandering around the village so openly?

They made a slight nod to the owner before exiting the last shop. Now that everyone was vaguely aware of Cloud's condition, there should not be any panic caused in the village. However, the tension was already there.

( Things have been going very strange and opposite, anyway. )

"Where's Cloud?" Zack suddenly asked.

Sephiroth shrugged and started glancing around when they heard Yuffie's coming.

"Actually he just headed for the Highwind."

Eyebrows raised. "Highwind?"

"Yeah," Yuffie nodded and jerked her finger to a particular shop. "Came out from that shop with a bag of something and headed straight to the Highwind."

"That shop...?" Zack stared at the shop she was pointing and blinked, while the other man remained indifferent. He rubbed against the back of his head and wondered. "Shopping for new clothes, perhaps?"

Sephiroth rolled his eyes.

** ***** **

The cloudless night sky greeted him, and his eyes welcomed the calming sight of the sky. Never before had it seemed so calm and peaceful, yet so alien at the same time. It was the sky of another world, and though it was so much like his own world, it wasn't, and looking at the twinkling stars made him realized that fact. He wouldn't be going home, no matter how much he wanted to.

Away from the heavens, the peaceful world was enshrouded in the splendor of the dark night. Creatures of the night, owls and crickets of such, sounded throughout the vicinity, adding to the natural setting with their calls. Their sounds were far more calming than the most silent silence, and Cloud stepped further into the winds, allowing the night to surround him entirely.

He wondered why upon discovering that barely noticeable different cells from Jenova would bring up something he thought he had forgotten? Of all things, it somehow had triggered Nanaki's words.

Of course it was the one from his world.

That time, the group was having their first reunion gathering at Cosmo Canyon after a few months from that fearful day. Things were pretty settled down and Tifa thought it would better to meet up everyone again and it got everyone rather excited.

Cloud inwardly smiled at the memories. The unexpected appearance of the Turks had surprised everyone, especially Barret, and it had made the scene havoc. However, what really surprised everyone was that when everyone was about to return back their rooms, they actually saw Barret and Reno -- both drunk -- dropping dead on the table together.

Both parties completely had no idea about it the next day.

[ FLASH ]

"Alternate reality?"

Nanaki nodded. "Yeah, I am still working on it. It seems that the provided concepts are too limited to be proven and some people do not truly believe it."

It seemed Yuffie was quite interested in the topic, but Cloud did not care and lie his back on the ground, watching the stars blinking in and out. Everything was so peaceful. Every unwelcome thought left him, every trouble drifted away like water down a river until it was too distant to be recognized. As he enjoyed deeper into the temporary high, the harmless intoxication of natural peace that he could barely focus on their conversation.

Yuffie said, "You know, Wutai also had this legend. My grandma used to tell this to me, she said that if you ever gone into the inner world of the world, you are able to find a gate that could take you to another world."

"'Inner world of the world'?"

"Is it the Lifestream?"

"Sounds possible... but Cloud and I been into the Lifestream, and nothing happened." Tifa shrugged.

The red beast tilted his head thoughtfully. "Maybe being in the Lifestream is still not enough? Maybe... it needs some sort of requirements to enable us to see the gate? Who knows, that time the Lifestream was not in its usual behavior especially with Sephiroth, Jenova and Hojo's meddling."

"You seemed to think a lot."

Nanaki chuckled softly. "Actually it was my grandpa who wanted this solved this theory, I'm just merely trying to continue his work. Besides, I'm interested in for myself."

"So... what have you found out about?"

"Not much. It's a lot harder than you think."

[ FLASH ]

His train of thoughts stopped as he began to sense a new presence. He straightened up, tilting his head and stared at the silver-haired man dully.

"What do you want?"

"Rufus wants to meet you," the other man's reply.

Cloud's eyes closed for a moment and said, "To... extract my memories, huh?"

Sephiroth gave him a mere stare. "Partly."

Cloud shrugged and stared at his new outfit instead. Dominantly white collar and sleeveless shirt with violet-color strip wove near it edges, and two silver-gilt belts would jangle slightly as he moved, hung loosely around his black jeans. He still wore his wristbands. The new outfit looked nice on him, but as the same time, he looked strange.

It wasn't uncomfortable. In fact the material was soft and suitable for people like him who was constantly fighting. He was just... unused to it.

[ FLASH ]

( Zack.... )

Cloud used all his energy to crawl next to the motionless Zack. It was impossible, right? Zack was a SOLIDER, second rank to where the Great Sephiroth was. He couldn't just die here, after all they promised. Words came out from his mouth were so unfamiliar and sore, his voice did not sound exactly like it was used to be. As if he had not been talking for many, many years, he wondered would he still remember the language? However, at this moment, he cared not. He continued to call out his friend's name.

"...Z-Zack... Mi...."

( Midgar is just beyond! Zack! )

Dark clouds were forming, and soon, as Cloud tried to wake his only friend up, it let go. Pouring and attempting to wash away every tear and blood... but the tears and blood seemed to can't stop flowing out on the soil.

It would never stop...

"...ack... Z-Zack...."

They still had many things to do! They were still young! Mercenaries! He had said that time: they were going for everything. The boring stuffs, the dangerous stuffs, anything for money! With Zack's excellence skills, they could be rich easily. They!

So, Cloud. What are YOU gonna do?

( Please...!! )

He? Do? He was not going to do anything! As long they were together, he didn't mind doing any job! Even he was to work for Zack! He owned him his life!

We're friends, right?

"Don't... die... Zack.... You've just... saved...."

He was... his only friend....

( PLEASE!!! )

"S-should... be.... Z-Zack, should have...."

He could feel his mind shattering apart slowly and he could not think anymore. The pain in his heart was pulling everything down. Reality was so cruel and cold. Zack was not going to respond anymore. Not ever again. He was gone forever. And, he was alone, again. He lowered his head until he touched something cold and hard.

Bluster Sword.

[ FLASH ]

When Zack had mentioned about his attire that evening, he realized his long dead friend had been living well and alive in this dimension. Which means, he did not need that attire anymore. Somewhere in his heart, his uniform... Zack's uniform was something to represent his friend's existence.

That time, he used to think he was living in Zack's life because he did not want to admit Zack was dead. After all, if it were not for Zack, he would have been long dead. He owned Zack, and Zack did not deserve that kind of death.

( You know what, Zack? I should be the one to die... instead of you. )

Even if it meant creating a lie.

However, Sephiroth destroyed his illusory world. He wanted to give up the world when the truth had overwhelmed him. If not for Tifa's help, he would have left to wither in Lifestream and he would not realized that Zack had always wanted him to be alive.

He did not want to forget Zack, which was why he had continued to wear his uniform even after the Sephiroth's incident.

Thinking back at Bugenhagen's document, here, Zack was alive because Sephiroth was there. Even he was seriously injured, but he still had enough strength left to save Zack and escaped from Hojo's clutches. Aeris was not even dead... Sephiroth made it just in time to prevent her from slipping away into the Lifestream.

He then wondered: Would things be better if it was Cloud who went insane instead of Sephiroth?

Of course it would be better. This parallel world was a very good example and he understood why things would have been better with the silver-hair man. In the very beginning, Sephiroth was someone with both physically and mentally trained to survive in such circumstances. That famous general had gone through wars and won them with frightening strength and skills.

But he? Who was he? He was just another ordinary trooper that served not even directed under Sephiroth himself. That time, it was only pure coincidence that ShinRa wanted someone from Nibelhiem to act as a backup, in case they had some problems with the tour guide.

He shook his head slightly and concentrated in reality. He glanced at Sephiroth without turning to him and wondered what he was thinking. In this long awkward silence, the general had no intention to leave this place, just staring somewhere. He wondered why he remained here when he was the one who tried to destroy the world... well, not exactly him. The other Cloud from this world.

However, he still had every reason to hate Cloud. On the other hand, he still hated Sephiroth, but it was not as much as before. That Sephiroth was already dead for a year and this Sephiroth was not exactly the same as the one he had faced before. It was completely different.

Perhaps Sephiroth would feel like this when he was not insane.

Cloud broke the silence at last. "There's something I wanted to ask... how did Rufus survived?"

It was the least question Sephiroth would have expected, noticing from the looks of his, Cloud thought.

"You mean he is dead in your world?"

"Sort of. From what I heard from Reeve, he died in his office when Diamond WEAPON blasted that level down." Cloud explained calmly.

Sephiroth frowned deeply before answering. "Tseng gave up his life protecting the President."

"Tseng? I see...." Cloud trailed off and when he saw the look on Sephiroth, he continued. "Well, you see, Tseng did die. But he died a bit early in the Ancient Temple while trying to revive the Black materia."

"...You mean, I killed him?"

Cloud shook his head slightly. "Not you. It's Sephiroth from my world... it would also be the Cloud from your world, if such have happened."

"You know Zack has complete trust in you," Sephiroth said. "Surprisingly."

"Sounds exactly like him," The blond nodded as he caught a familiar dark figure walking the gate to greet two strangers. He watched the two strangers with a strange interest while Zack seemed to be doing the explaining. Those strangers... they were wearing a long black coat-like-uniform and carried weapons with them. They were similar to the ShinRa soldiers, and he wondered was it another department like the Turks?

"Who are they?" Cloud asked Sephiroth while gesturing to them.

Sephiroth walked to him and looked at them for a while. He narrowed his eyes slightly. "They are from EX, a new organization formed a few months ago after Jenova's reappearance."

"Oh... EX.... What do they do? Like ShinRa?"

The silver-haired man shook his head. "Their organization is small compared to ShinRa, but I can't deny their group are growing... at an abnormal speed. They mainly focus on protecting the villages and towns from Jenova's attacks, and thus earned their current reputation in such a short time. Looks like they know something had happened here...."

"You don't look like you approve their existence."

Sephiroth cast him a cold stare. "They have an incredible accuracy for their information on Jenova, particularly. I don't know how they have those sources of information before Jenova's creatures could strike a place, but it is suspicious enough. They might even know you are here."

Cloud registered this new information into his head and continued to observe the strangers. Sephiroth straightened up and began to head out, which Cloud made no knowledge of. Finally the two strangers were ready to leave. They bowed respectably to Zack and turned to leave Cosmo Canyon immediately. As they went past Highwind, Cloud watched. They suddenly looked up the ship and to him.

( ...Yeah, they know I'm here alright. )

Their stares stayed for a few moments before resuming on their path and disappeared into the dark canyon.

"You know...." Sephiroth suddenly said as he stood just at the doorway. "I think we should put aside our prejudgment against each other for the moment. For everyone's sake."

Cloud blinked and turned to stared at Sephiroth surprisingly. Had he heard what he had just heard from the Great Sephiroth? To actually heard from him and had him to approach Cloud first to make a peace agreement, was something he never would imagine even with a sane Sephiroth. Or was it this world's Sephiroth was completely different from his world's? It wasn't impossible, considered this was parallel universe.

Perhaps it would be the same reason he was not insane by Jenova's influence... but how did it happen to fall on Cloud instead? He still did not know.

"Sure. I have no problem with that," Cloud said with a shrug.

( Well, I could ask him... or Zack about this anytime later. They are the ones who had directly deal with my counter part... like I did. )

END.Chapter05
To Be Continue_

A/N: Forgot to say this, last chapter, during re-told of Sephiroth's story, it was mentioned that Cloud had literally chopped down poor young Tifa.... *looks away* Sorry to fans of Tifa, I do not hate her that much, but her death is pretty essential... though the reasons would not be reveal until MUCH later. Hmm... am I making too much suspension?? Oh well, one hint: "The more you gain, the more you will lose". OK, go figure yourself. *whistles* Besides, it would be inappropriate to have her when this story is shounen-ai!!!

Yeah, yeah. Cloud have a new attire. XD Like I said, Cloud still pretty haunted by his past, wearing that dark-haired SOLIDER's uniform reminded him so much his death. In fact, I will be also concentrating a lot on Cloud's untold past. ^^ Don't worry, Sephiroth's scenes will be increasing (though slowly) as the story progress, mainly because he's Sephiroth. In another words, I hate OOC stuffs!!!

Finally, special thanks to those still supporting this story *bowing gratefully*: RavensHaelo(grammer... I still fixing that hahaha... *flees*), Dee-whY-Cee-aRe(thanks ^_^), Ayu58, Winged(I'm glad you like it), Chihiro(hahaa, you are stressing me! Nevertheless, I will try my very best to make my story live up to your expectations) and Duchess of Darkness('Cloud-demonlish-ness' sounds pretty cool. Hahaha. But you probably won't expecting more of it until VERY MUCH LATER; this story is more about giving Sephiroth a second chance. Opps, plots leaking out!). Thanks everyone.