one passing night

the evening is spread out against the sky


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[The Never-Ending Story] - [Act 3]
badbulletshield wrote in onepassingnight
[ooc: Because I'm indecisive, two separate dreams to choose from! He's skipped back about ten years for both.]



[ The moon is full and bright in the starry night sky above - and the smaller, ill-shapen vampires' moon beside it for once does not dominate the atmosphere with its eerie red glow. All is calm and quiet, away from the expansive manor in the distance (no lights shining in the windows), away from the ruins of pre-Armageddon civilization that dot the countryside, here, still. All except for the slow, steady swish and crunch of footsteps through the tall grass as Abel approaches the thin grove of trees where he's certain he last saw someone moving. Apart from the strange, white uniform he wears, he looks much the same as ever - though his hair is loose about his shoulders, and his glasses and rosaries are nowhere to be seen.

He is also spattered with blood from head to toe, dark red staining his tattered outfit and torn gloves. Underneath, however, he looks dirty and unkempt, but wholly unharmed. ]


Please. Don't be afraid. [ --he says, his voice flat and serious but oddly gentle just the same, as his sharp, blue eyes catch another flicker of movement in the darkness. ]

I'm not here to harm you.





[ It's a beautiful Spring afternoon in the garden. There are bright green leaves stuck in his hair and great big muddy pawprints on his clean, white coat as Abel wanders the statuary-punctuated paths that wind through this lush, flowering land. Tiny petals and white wisps of cotton scatter on a pleasant breeze that follows him into the narrow corridor of a well kept hedge maze, just before he breaks the unbearably pleasant spell of the day by raising his voice in a shout-- ]

Here, boy! Come out, come out, wherever you are-- Oh!

[ He turns back from peering curiously (hopefully) into the maze to see someone else has entered the courtyard - and from where he stands, they appear to be wearing the newly familiar uniform of fellow clergy. As a new inductee to the priesthood, he makes his best effort to look friendly as he flags them down with a wildly waving arm. ]

E-Excuse me! I seem to have lost Miss Caterina's shepherd. Have you seen him? He's about this big - and, uh, all white, though he may have gotten into the mud, today, too.

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dream A - hello - I'm here to make your next meeting with Cloud, either Cloud, entirely confusing :D

timeskip Cloud backward to sixteen and the night of Nibelheim's burning

[he was... dying.

Yeah.

He was pretty sure this was dying.

The gaping wound that started in his chest and went all the way through to his back was pumping blood pretty fast and it hurt like - it hurt worse than almost anything.

He'd done it though. He'd beat Sephiroth. Killed him.

Wasn't that supposed to mean something?

Except his chest felt hollow and he thought Sephiroth had stabbed out his heart when he'd run him through. He couldn't seem to feel much of anything. Nothing. And he felt guilty for not being able to hang on to the anger or the tears. Somebody tonight should be angry and cry.

He just... he just wanted...

Tifa

Zack


He needed to find them... be with them... and they could make him feel again one last time before he died. If he could be with them...

everything would be all right.

And so he dragged himself on his elbows through the fallen bracken and didn't even notice it was a forest and dirt and rotting leaves instead of steel and concrete and long fallow dust...]


Zack...

Tifa.

[ The scent of fresh blood all but assails him as he steps further in amidst the ancient trees, and Abel's tiny first brush with optimism is summarily quashed. He doesn't know what he'd expected, that any mere human could have escaped the descendants of Returners he'd... Disposed of, moments before. That his first attempt at redeeming more than a hundred years of hatred and wanton destruction would go so well.

At any rate, he can't simply walk away from this, now, as he would so easily have, before. Something is still moving in the brush, and even if there's nothing he can do (useless), that's compassion, isn't it?

He wants to be compassionate.

Sympathetic.

Human.

Even down in the muck and dirt, that shock of blond hair is hard to miss, and Abel weaves through the trees toward him, confusion unsettling his facade of calm.

You won't accomplish much, like that. --he thinks, but manages not to say, knowing that it sounds too harsh, too much like his old self. He needs to be like her, now, and he's not above blindly copying the example of his memory. ]


...Let me help you.

[he's only moving forward incrementally but he's moving forward. Everything he is is focused on that. One inch, even a single inch, is getting him closer to where he wants to be. He's got no illusions. He knows he's dying. And he's okay with that.

Just -

He wants to die with them. When someone... when someone finds them - he wants them to be found together.

He wants to be near them when he goes. His closest friend and the girl he's secretly loved almost as long as he can remember.

Maybe... maybe he should have told her that. Except he never made it into SOLDIER and what good was a confession from someone like him?

But... maybe it's okay now. Maybe it doesn't matter so much, now that they're dying.

The voice takes a moment to register. Not because he doesn't hear it but because he's so focused on getting that next inch that his mind takes a moment to click over to anything else. When it does, he blinks past the sweat in his eyes and lifts his face, blue eyes huge and still full of tonight's horror and the loss of everything he cherishes. The pain blurred his sight and a small noise of protest that he's too proud to call a whimper escapes. When it cracks out of him in a dying whisper he can't even tell if it's a question or a plea.]


...help?

[ His lips twist into a frown that is his first attempt at sympathy, to date, and he drops into a crouch by the struggling child. He's young, younger than Abel can ever remember being, and he's almost certainly going to die. ]

There's not much that I can do for your wounds. [ And that's being generous. Abel had always been better at deconstructing than patching up. He'd never listened to the lectures as she tended his injuries. ] But I will try.

[ Are there even any cities around here, anymore? Where can he run to, with a dying Terran? His mind races, but it's brief, all dead ends. The truth is, he already expects it's useless -- but he moves to lift the boy out of the dirt, anyway, because he can think of nothing else to do. He moves him only as gingerly as he can around such a severe injury as he's sustained, but his grip is steely, unyielding. ]

Abel's really going to be working for that compassion badge tonight

[the quiet sound escapes Cloud despite his determination to be strong, soft and hurt and more than a little lost. Unless the guy has a Cure on him, Cloud's pretty sure there's nothing that can be done for his wounds. That gaping, tearing, burning and cold spot in the middle of his sticky, ruined chest...

he's already passed worrying about getting better though. Maybe he was past that even before the white demon of nightmares ran him through the first time and lifted him off his feet on the length of that forever sword -

and that's when the white hair leaning over him registers and this time the sound's a growl when it snarls out of his torn throat. It might only be a puppy's growl by this point but it's still there and he twists against the steel grip even if it rips things inside of his chest that he knows he would need later if he was planning on living. The blood chokes out with the words as he struggles.]


Bastard - why won't you stay dead?

[ That snarl doesn't seem to faze him; for all he knows it's merely a response to the pain -- which must be enormous, for a human, he imagines.

But his grip still falters, just the same, and he retreats no more than a step. (There's nothing dangerous about this dying boy.) Why won't you stay dead?

He shouldn't be surprised, but he is. (Has it even been that long?) He doesn't remember this young man's face, sees no resemblance to anyone he might once have known (time immeasurable having blurred his memories considerably, however, he is not the most reliable), but it's obvious he is still hated.

The weight of his inability to alter the scars he's left on this world is crushing. ]


I'm here for a reason. Will you let me help you or not?

poor Abel - let me make it worse

[the retreat surprises him, even as blurry with the pain as he is and it finally jars him enough to realize he's not in the mako reactor anymore. Eyes wide with a new fear, he turns his head from where he's crumpled, trying to see anything familiar. He must be - must be in the woods outside of Nibelheim but - ]

Tifa? Zack-

[his torn gloves, soaked through with his own blood, scrabble at the decaying leaves on the ground, finding dirt instead of concrete. It's wrong. It's all wrong! His voice comes out ragged, right on the edge of panic.]

Where are they? What did you do with them!?

I haven't found anyone else.

[ At least not alive. The gory scene he's left in his wake is also a silent one, though the only lives he has taken tonight were those of other monsters, murderers he'd caught in the act. Belatedly, regrettably.

If there are more bodies he's yet to find, he won't be surprised, but he has no intention of causing any more death, tonight, himself. Still with calm indifference, from behind a ragged, silver fringe of hair he shakes his head slowly. ]
And I'm not here to harm you. [ Maybe if he says it enough, it will get through somehow. ]

[his eyes rise and for all they don't have any mako glow to them - yet - there's no mistaking that, one day, those eyes will be dangerous. Today however the spirit behind that blue isn't matched by the body and the glare only lasts until the pain is too strong and has him curling into himself, arms tucking over the gaping wound in his chest that goes all the way through to his torn soul. The anger did give him clarity though - at least for a moment.

He doesn't recognize the white haired man.

Not Sephiroth.

But so close it's scary. Or would be if he had anything left to be scared for.

... Zack... Tifa... His voice comes out small and lost.]


Who... who are you?

My name is Abel.

[ A thing of myth in his own world, now, this seems suitable enough an introduction. If he is to remake himself, perhaps it isn't right to cling to the past so -- but it's the past that pushes him onward, if not forward, now.

He rises to his feet, again, the soft crunch of grass and leaves beneath his dirtied white boots loud in the darkness. The look in his own eyes (a far icier blue, but unerringly human) as sincere as it is searching. ]


I am here to protect you. To protect all human beings. [ And again, only a touch softer than before, ] Let me help you.

[Cloud made a soft little noise and it might have been a bitter laugh if he'd still had enough air in his lungs for it.

The guy was a little late.

Everyone was already dead.

It seemed, even in his sorry state, kind of a rude thing to say though and Cloud knew his mom would be disappointed in him if he was cruel just before he died.

oh...god...

mom...

The lump in his throat made it almost too hard to talk and he swallowed hard against it. Grimacing in what was supposed to be a smile, he managed to look up at the pale man in front of him.]


Think it's a little late to help me... but I've - there's - Tifa... and Zack. They're back at the reactor. He's... he hurt them. And I - I think Tifa's... I think she's...

[his head sank and he didn't know whether he wanted to scream or cry. Dead. She's dead.

He couldn't say it]


They're hurt really bad...

[ Reactor? The word sticks in his mind, indecipherable in this context. There isn't much out in this empty countryside to confuse for something so grand as that sounds, and Abel begins to worry that this boy is speaking nonsense as he bleeds out, helpless, on the forest floor. ]

...Did you come from the manor? [ If that was the case, there was no chance his friends were still alive; the blood on Abel's uniform is still fresh, and there are no signs of life in his wake.

...But if the boy had come from the other direction, were there more killers out there, waiting in the dark? Something unpleasantly pleased at the prospect rose in the back of his mind, ever hopeful for further carnage. ]


There is no one else here.

[his vision was fading and his mind felt like it was packed with cotton. But he couldn't give up yet. Zack and Tifa were counting on him. He had to make sure they had help. Trying to clear his head, he shook it, blond hair dusting in the dirt as he slumped, trying hard to stay conscious long enough to get the information out.]

No. Past the manor. Up the trail. Very top.

[where the world comes to an end...]

They're near the stairs. I couldn't - I couldn't -

[it might have been a cough or it might have been tears but it was a bubbling sound and he finally slumped forward onto the ground and curled into a ball.]

all I've got left... couldn't - save them... maybe... maybe still can...



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