I have been working on this fic since... God... I have no idea. oO I'm still only on the first bit and I have been wondering if I should finish it or not.
I started writing it quite a while before Advent Children came out and now it IS all out and what-not, I've wondered if I should ever post it, 'cause I might get people all "Booo. Sux. Not accurateeeee! BOOO" or "U COPIED" even though I ain't. Plus there is always the issue of CloudXAeris fans and whatnot. That and Anti-shippers flaming the hell out of me for my coupling choices. (Which aren't TOO obvious. ;) lol! )
So, to be honest, posting this feels like a big step for me. x.x
(I'll shove the title up if I decide to finish it/when I think of one.)
Let me know if you think I should continue or not. And, one more thing... Its quite old now, so bear with it. And perhaps I should shove a rating on it, but I dunno what rating to use. PG for now maybe?
No flaming please, just good clean c+c.
- Melty Cat
It had been very hard for the gang since Aeris' death. It had come as quite a shock to all, especially the three that saw it first hand. Cloud Strife, Cid Highwind and Tifa Lockheart had been walking around in a daze, almost suffering from a type of shell-shock. Tifa, when ever she could get a moment to herself, tended to break down... Cid, being the type of person he was, was taking it in his own unique way and chose silence as his form of grieving. Cloud, however, seemed to be taking it the worst and was taking it out on the local 'Wildlife', utter rage being his grieving choice.
"Its one of those moments that changes your world. One part of your life ends and another begins. You are never quite ready for it and you are almost filled with hate and resent when it happens." - Cloud Strife.
But that was all back then when it all went down. Since then, unknown to most, Cloud had been visiting the spot where she died and had somehow managed to contact her spirit there. They had engaged in many deep conversations, many being about Cloud's regret and how much he was hurting inside knowing he could never see her again. Aeris' spirit knew how he felt, he didn't have to tell her, but it was all for the good of the planet and she knew it was the right thing to do. Cloud, deep down, knew it too.
It was time to move on and also to leave the area. Cloud returned to say his 'last goodbye' to her and left with Cid and Tifa, heading to the Icicle Inn and beyond.
"Its one of those moments that changes your world. One part of your life ends and another begins. You are never quite ready for it and you are filled with a warm glow and a feeling of hope when it happens." - Aeris Gainsborough.
A few years had past since Aeris had died. Many things were different. No more ShinRa, no more reactors and even no more Sephiroth. Meteor was no longer a threat, it had been dispatched good and proper. But, although those threats were gone, there were many others that were not. A new threat had emerged that went by the name of 'F.O.S'... 'Followers of Sephiroth', a large terrorist group who had been underground for many years, just long enough to form worldwide group hideouts and a large member base. The group believed Sephiroth was the only thing right in the world and believed that if they destroyed humanity then Sephiroth would reward them by returning to them if enough injustice was in the world. It was, of course, only the fanatical drivelling of a bunch of mislead sheep.
The group were still all friends, but had been forced to split up into groups all over the world, attempting to remove the 'F.O.S' threat and protect humanity. In one group was Barret Wallace, Tifa Lockheart and Vincent Valentine, in the other was Red XIII, Yuffie Kisaragi and a very different, mog-less, Cait Sith. Cloud Strife and Cid Highwind formed the last group. The pair were amazing fighters and complimented each other in battle perfectly creating a very powerful team.
Cloud was having a very hard time. He kept on having a strange feeling sweep over him about Aeris and felt compelled to head to where she died. He wasn't sure what it was all about, but there was one thing for certain... it was freaking Cid out.
"Had that feelin' again, huh", quizzed Cid who was sat on a fallen branch.
Cloud nodded and continued to sort and equip his materia.
"Heh. Your a fuckin' weirdo, you are, you know that?"
Cid pulled a cig from the packet that he still kept under the strap of his goggles and proceeded to light it, take a puff and laugh to himself.
"I don't understand what is happening", explain Cloud suddenly. He didn't tend to speak all that often, let alone about his feelings and it almost made Cid leap off the branch he was sat on in fright.
"Maybe you won't understand until the right time? Time 'n' place and all that", shrugged Cid.
"Thats rather deep for you isn't it?"
"Whats that supposed to mean?! I'll have you know I think deeply on most occasions!"
"How come you've never said anything like that before then?"
"I choose to keep it to myself. I don't want to waste my precious knowledge on people who don't even get why they have to breathe! Fuck yeah, I'm a regular store house of deep thought!"
He flipped his cig in his mouth a bit and lifted one of his feet upwards and placed it onto the branch.
Knee in air, Cid looked up to the sky. It was dark and cloudy.
"Fuck, no stars", he quietly moaned to himself.
Cloud spoke yet again, this time causing Cid to fall backwards off the branch and land smack on his butt.
"You know what it feels like?"
Cursing profusely, Cid sat back on the branch.
"What, what feels like?"
"These weird feelings I've been having..."
Feeling that Cid was not taking him seriously, Cloud drew his knees in towards his chest and hugged them.
"Well c'mon then, spill! You can't just ask that an' not finish," complained Cid removing the now burnt out cigarette from his mouth, throwing it irritably to the ground and stamping on it as if it were some bug.
Not knowing exactly what sort of mood Cid was in, Cloud glanced at his face to make sure his words were not going to fall on deaf ears. His face was not showing any sarcastic intent, it seemed Cid was genuinely interested and in a way, concerned.
"Are you gonna spill, or am I gonna have to prize it outta ya?"
"It feels like Aeris is going to come back to me."
"Its almost as if she is calling me to the place where she died so she is not all alone when she comes back."
Cid was stunned. He didn't know exactly how to take it. He didn't know if there was any truth in what Cloud was feeling, or if the pressure had finally gotten to him making him crack up and believe he was feeling something he was not.
"Why you anyway?"
Cloud looked up and blinked.
Cid scratched at his head, once again feeling like he was being a 'dad'. He did seem to take the role of group father at times, having to put them straight, comfort them or explain things to them.
"Well, why you? Why do you think Aeris would pick you and not someone else? Me, Red XIII or maybe Tifa, a girl... ya know. Girls feel safe when they have another girl with em to talk to etc."
Cloud smiled ever so slightly.
"Because, she trusts me."
"Well, whoop-de-doo! Ain't you the special one", exclaimed Cid flailing his arms around in the air before slapping them back down again to his knees, "She trusted everybody as far as I was aware!"
"Yeah, but she trusted me the most..."
Cid raised an eyebrow and let out a loud 'Hmph' sound.
"I'm just as trustworthy as you are, pokey!"
Cloud smiled at him.
"Almost seems as if you are jealous, Mr. Highwind."
"Well, to tell you the truth", he scratched at his neck, "I am."
There was a deafening silence as the two men stared at each other. Cloud was still smirking at him and Cid seemed to be slowly turning a rather reddish colour.
"Well... er, that is. Why should you get all the fun!?"
Erupting in laughter, Cloud put his head between his knees and sat upright again.
The pilot didn't know what was so funny and stood up scratching at his head.
There was no reply, just a slight pause and then more laughter, to which Cid decided that he didn't like it and smacked Cloud across his head.
"fuckin', bog brush..."
Across the ocean, Yuffie was busy cooking herself some tea. She had made herself a nice little fire and had even gone fishing and caught 2 very large, tasty looking fish. She poked them with a small pointy stick to make sure that they were cooking properly and smiled to herself. She wished Cloud could have seen her, he would have been so proud, well... At least she thought he would be.
Red XIII, along with Cait Sith (perched on his head), came bounding back from a small wooded area.
"Coast is clear... oohhhh FISH!"
Yuffie slapped their noses as they both reached for the sizzling meals.
"You can get off those", she scolded, "They are for me!"
Red shook his head then gave her the evil eye.
"Ever heard of sharing?"
"Yeah", replied Cait clutching his stomach, "I'm famished!"
"Well, then... Go catch your own! I caught these myself and I'm not going to just hand them over", she replied sticking her tongue out at the pair.
"Aw, no fair", moaned Cait, ears drooping.
"Yes, fair! I worked to get my dinner, so you work for yours!"
"We did", frowned Red, "We went off to battle any monsters that were lurking in the woods so you could sleep tonight!"
"And did you fight any?"
"Well, erm... no."
"Well then! No fish!"
Red groaned a slight 'Fair enough' and went off to catch his own, while Cait fell off Red's head in a dramitic pose.
Yuffie, raising an eye brow, poked at the fish again.
"Aw, c'mon! Please gimmie some", cried Cait in a rather fake manner.
A sly grin passed Yuffie's lips as she leaned forwards.
"Well, I suppose I could give you one of these..."
"If you give me your Master-Summon materia!"
Yuffie beamed proudly.
"Ok, ok, ok!"
Cait handed it over and Yuffie snatched it off him glaring at the beautiful red orb intently.
"Well...? My fish?"
"Oh! Y-yeah... take it", replied a now distracted Yuffie.
"Huzzah", cheered Cait grabbing the fish and ramming it all into his mouth in one go.
His eyes nearly popped out his head.
"OH! BE CAREFUL! ITS HOT!", exaclaimed Yuffie realising what the silly cat did.
The following afternoon, Cloud and Cid had arrived at Bone Village. The excavators were still there and were still finding strange things under the earth. One of the excavators asked the two if they wanted to buy some of the stuff they had found and was met by a frown from Cid and a shaking head from Cloud.
To get to where Aeris had died, they would have to go through the sleeping forest. It was a good job Cloud had still got the lunar harp on him. He had been tempted in the past to sell it, as a man had offered him ten thousand gil for the object.
Taking a deep breath, Cid and Cloud entered the forest. The sun was shining through the trees and forest creatures shuffled through the leaves and twigs. A few insects hovered in the air, their rear ends glowing like stars. The place had changed since they had visited before, but it still brought back the bad memories. Cid had to stop for a moment, the memories were a bit much, even for him.
Cloud walked up to him and placed a hand on his back, as he was doubled over breathing heavily.
"Lets just get the fuck out of here..."
Cloud couldn't agree more, so the two ran as fast as they could and finally reached the other side of the forest.
Seeing the city in the distance, they both swallowed loudly. It was a beautiful place, but they only saw it as a place of evil.
"DAMMIT", cried Cloud punching at a near by shrub, "Why!?"
Cid decided to follow suit and began to strangle a small sapling, but to no avail.
One of them needed to get a grip, as flying off the hook in such a manner was really not going to do them any good. So, Cid, seeing he was getting no where in his attempted sapling strangulation, took a deep breath and tried his best to calm Cloud down.
"I don't get why. I mean... I do! But, WHHHYYYY?!"
"Get a grip, man... DAMMIT!"
Cid gave him a good thwack across the face, to which Cloud responded by sniffing. Now, walking in silence, they headed into the city.
Getting closer to the exact spot, Cloud had one of those feelings sweep over him and had to stop suddenly for fear of keeling over. Cid had to agree that he had felt something, but it was only faint.
"C'MON", hollered Cloud as he bombed down the path.
Cid shouted a useless 'WAIT UP!' and then proceeded to follow him, biting his lip nervously.
He wasn't used to nerves. Nothing made HIM nervous, it was his nature. He was the strong type emotionally, always had been and always would be... or so everyone thought. Even though the city was very cold, the pilot found himself sweating. What if Cloud's feelings were correct? What happened if Aeris really came back? It all seemed so much to take in that he decided that doubt was a much better option. It didn't leave him shaking in his boots like the option of truth did. Yet, he didn't know why it made him shake. He didn't know why he was sweating, or even why his mouth felt as dry as it did, why his stomach was doing flip-flops, or even why his heart was missing beats every so often. Maybe he was just worried for Cloud's benefit... Yeah, sure.
He eventually caught up with Cloud who was kneeling down, peering into the body of water sobbing his eyes out.
"WHAT IS IT AERIS!? TELL ME SWEETHEART!"
Cloud? Using a term of endearment? It felt so wrong to Cid's ears and mind that he shuddered as he ran to his side and peered into the water himself, even though he doubted anything would happen.
There was a bout of silence that followed his words. No wind, no birds, nothing. Not even the sound of breathing.
Biting his lip once more and sighing, Cid looked at the sky angrily. Such severe dissapointment filled Cloud's head causing him to shout loudly in between his tears.
"OH GOD TELL ME WHY YOU ARE NOT HERE!"
Cloud put his head in his hands and sat back onto his behind with a thud. Cid placed a caring hand on his shoulder and gently eased him away.
"C'mon, buddy. This is not doing you any..."
Something stopped him mid sentence. He blinked as a light appeared under the water. It was only faint and he had to squint to see it. Cloud still had his head in his hands sobbing his poor heart out and hadn't noticed it at all. Leaning forwards more, Cid peered into the water, his heart beating fast. Was this... for real?
"OH MY HOLY SHIT", he thought, nearly throwing up in surprise.
A hand reached out of the water, bathed in a beautiful iridescent light. Pushing Cloud aside, Cid grabbed the hand tightly and pulled with all his might. Who ever it was, they came flying out of the water as Cid fell backwards. Many splutters filled the air and Cloud, who was busy picking himself up of the ground, blinked in alarm.
The figure was totally naked and her brownish hair was clinging to her wet form.
"I don't believe it...", cried Cloud, "Its really... you?"
Cid sat up and removed his muddy boots out from under the sodden figure. The figure looked up, straight into Cid's face.
He couldn't believe what he was seeing. Those beautiful green eyes existed once more, that angelic face was once again staring up at him. Yes, it was her. Aeris was back. He began to well up and flung his arms around her, forgetting about her naked and sodden state. She laughed happily as the pilot squished her half to death.
"Where is Cloud", she asked as Cid released his grip.
"He is right...", he looked around, but couldn't see the blonde anywhere, "Well, he was here a minute ago!"
He stood up and looked around, only to find Cloud out cold on the floor.
"Would ya believe it! The fuckin' fuck fainted!"
Aeris giggled. She was sure glad to hear the pilot again, even if he had a mouth more filthy than the ShinRa toilets. So, Cid set about trying to revive the silly man while Aeris just sat there watching his efforts. She was shivering, but really didn't notice how cold she was until she looked down at her naked state.
"Oh my goodness..."
Cid's head turned sharply at her exclamation, half expecting some hideous monster to be there, or Sephiroth back to kill her again.
Aeris looked at him straight in the eyes with a worried frown.
He couldn't help but smile at her innocence as she blushed a furious red colour and attempted to use her hair to cover up.
"Here", he smiled walking over to her and handing her his jacket.
She took it and shivered again. It was so cold that everyones breath was highly visible and by now her nose had started to turn red and run. Cid took off one of his gloves and reached out his hand to touch her face and arms.
"God damn it, Aeris! You are going to get pneumonia if you aren't careful! We gotta get you warm and fast!"
He looked at Cloud who was still unconscious on the ground.
"That is when skippy here wakes his ass up!"
He booted him a couple of times, but failed to wake him up.
"Ah, leave him", said Aeris shivering, "He'll wake up... soon... ATCHOO!"
"Better get you sorted quick", he exclaimed scratching at his head, "C'mon, lets go further up there a bit so we are away from the water."
He pointed to a small grassy clearing a tiny bit further past the lake. Nodding, Aeris tried to walk while covering herself with his jacket.
The sun had just started to go down, as they had been traveling for most of the day and the temperature was dropping by the minute. Cid knew he had to warm her up and so set about trying to find firewood, while Aeris tried to snuggle deeper into his jacket. It smelled of cigarette smoke and it started to sting her eyes, but she didn't care.
Cid eventually returned clutching a few small logs under his arms and dropped them on the ground in front of the still half naked Aeris. He hadn't really noticed until that moment and attempted to avert his eyes while blushing ever so slightly. Aeris noticed and smiled inwardly.
"Its ok", she said, "It can't be helped..."
Nodding, he set about stacking the logs and smiling nervously at her, trying to keep his eyes directly at face level. He took out a match and lit the fire sending a warm and toasty glow around the area. Aeris shivered more and began to sneeze again. Her skin wasn't like Cid remembered it. Because of how cold she was, it had a very faint blue tinge and was covered in goosebumps.
"C'mere", he said softly, hutching closer to her shivering form and putting his arms tightly around her.
He pulled the jacket on tighter and began to rub his hands up and down her back. She didn't exactly know what he was doing and, in a way, felt weird about it.
He knew what she was going to ask, so he decided to beat her to it.
"I'm trying to get all that pretty red blood o' yours flowin', you daft nit."
She giggled ever so faintly at how uneasy she had just been and felt silly and somewhat guilty for even thinking bad of his actions.
The two huddled close in front of the fire and it seemed to be doing the trick. Aeris was much warmer and that glow in her cheeks that Cid remembered began to return. He was pleased with himself and started to hum a tune while watching the flames. Aeris felt rather soothed by this and unknowingly rested her head on his chest. He was doing it again. Being the fatherly figure.
"Papa-Highwind", he thought, "Doesn't seem to fit if ya ask me."
He continued humming his little tune and Aeris started to join in. Their voices echoed through the clearing in perfect harmony, a sweet sounding melody that was highly pleasing to the ear. Sighing, Aeris snuggled closer enjoying the warmth and fell to sleep in the arms of the suddenly silent and satisfied pilot. He peered down at her face and smiled to himself. How peaceful and beautiful she looked amazed him and this time her heart was still beating when he saw it. He curled his arms tighter around her and began to hum again, but ever so quietly.
By the lake, Cloud was stirring. He opened his eyes to see that it was dark. He shook his confused head and blinked a couple of times to focus his eyes.
He suddenly remembered what had happened and twisted his head from left to right to try to find Aeris and Cid. He then saw a glow coming from the clearing and stumbled to his feet. When he got to where they were, he was greeted by the sight of Aeris sleeping in Cid's arms.
"CID!? WHAT THE F..."
He was interrupted by a 'shh' and then more quiet humming.
Cloud frowned at Cid. He didn't like how close they were. He started to wonder what on earth had happened while he was out.
"She's sleeping", chirped Cid to the tune of what he had been humming for the last half an hour, "We don't want to wake her... do we?"
Cloud realized that there was no harm done at all and Cid's actions were all for a genuine reason. He peered at Aeris and smiled, his heart almost leaping out his mouth.
"You wouldn't happen to have any extra clothes around would you, pokey", quizzed Cid quietly, "Only, she is still very fuckin' cold and we really need to get something for her to put on."
Cloud shook his head, still intently staring at the sleeping beauty in Cid's arms.
"I can always go into Bone Village tomorrow morning and ask them if they have spares for us", he replied.
Cid shook his head, then lifted Aeris' head up with his hand as it was slowly sliding down his body to a rather awkward spot.
"Tomorrows no good! Its gonna drop colder than this tonight! We need em now!"
Cloud nodded and stood up.
"I'll go now then."
"Nah, let me go", said Cid sitting up a bit.
"You can't! You'll wake her up!"
"Hm.. yeah, good point. Fuck! Just don't get killed or anything, ya hear? We just got one back, so we don't need to have another gone!"
Cloud smiled and nodded. He was so excited about her being alive again that he let out a sharp laugh and nearly woke her up.
"Fuck! DAMN MAN", whispered Cid furiously, "Get yer butt movin' b'fore I ram my spear up it!"
Cloud covered his mouth to stifle the giggles and triumphantly ran off, leaving Cid cradling the sleeping Aeris. Cid seemed just a little too happy about it.