one passing night

the evening is spread out against the sky


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001 || dream a dream of me.
//Don't Forget//
hisdreamsmyfate wrote in onepassingnight
[Some dreams have some fluidity. They remain constant, with an overlaying theme - much like a storybook of the consciousness. Others can be sporadic, having no meaning, and easily shifting from one thing to the next. They can be serious, or strange. They can be hopeful, or heartbreaking.

Or... they could be Zack's dreams.

As it is, a deep, dark violet night sky floods the area. You might see quite a bit of snow, as if walking up a steep mountain, with the ice wind blowing through your hair. And right at the cliff's edge stands a man wielding a long, sturdy sword, resting safely upon his back. The weight doesn't seem to bother him in the least - if anything, he's accustomed to it by now, both hands on his hips as glowing, bright blue eyes stare off to the distance.

What could be he thinking about?]

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[the snow under his boots is a bit new. Edge doesn't get much snow and what little it does turns into a nasty combination of slush and ice too quickly. And it's gray, clogged with soot and ash and - who knows what else before it even touches the city itself. But this snow is clear, clean and it reminds him of childhood, a strange, bitter sweet reminder. It's no problem for him to walk through though. You can take the boy out of the mountains but it seems you can never take the mountains out of the boy.

The wind ruffles his hair and he narrows his own vaguely glowing blue eyes against it for a minute, inhaling the sharp smell and pulling it deep into his lungs.

it's been a while...

Except he's not sure which 'while' his mind is referring to. The mako in his system keeps him warm, despite the sleeveless, partially unbuttoned black shirt. He's going somewhere, he just hasn't figured out where yet and, for the moment, that doesn't bother him. When he rounds the corner though, sees the familiar silhouette he's seen so many times before, it stops him in his tracks and catches his heart in his throat. The name slips out of him in a almost whispered stumble, more for himself than expecting a response.]


Z-zack?

[He turns without a beat, hearing that familiar, quiet voice.

For him, it hasn't been long at all... but wasn't Cloud back at the camp? He looks confused for a minute - especially at his friend's sudden wardrobe change, just before he calls out to the blonde in the distance.]


Cloud! What're you doin' out here, soldier?

[Using the Lieutenant rank just for show, he grins, waving the other over.]

[it's so... normal that Cloud finds himself responding automatically to Zack's call and putting one heavy boot in front of the other in that direction. He jerks to a stop when he realizes what he's doing though. But this isn't - he isn't -

Zack's dead.

It hits him like a hammer blow and his brows come down against it. He can make sense of the snow and the mountain and even the fact that he's walking. Obviously he's got a delivery of some sort - no package - or just finished a delivery - why is he going uphill then? - and had to walk because Fenrir's no good in deep snow - but...

Zack?

He really is losing his mind.

...

Tifa's going to be pissed.

Doggedly, he shakes his head but the spiky headed apparition stays put and looks just as solid as ever.

He wants to see Zack again. Of course he does! There are days he'd give almost anything to be able to see that smile or hear that voice or - Planet help him, even put up with a hair ruffle - but he's not sure he wants to go back to being crazy just to do it.

... He's not sure it isn't worth going crazy to do...]

[Cloud's hesitation is... worrying. Enough that the smile drops off his face and he looks his friend over, turning around all the way to better face him.

Something... wasn't right. He looked as though he'd seen a ghost.]


Cloud?

[His tone is quieter now - concerned.]

Hey... you okay? You don't look too good, buddy.

[it's so ridiculously Zack. Every move, every shift in his voice - little things he'd forgotten over the years that are so obvious to his memory now. It's - there's no way this is real. And yet - it's Zack. As if he'd never died, never given up his life for what Cloud could only assume had been a pretty disappointing follow through since then.

The guilt hits hard but the sheer shock he's still in is enough to mute it. It takes second place to the fact that there's a dead man standing in front of him.

A dead man that's expecting an answer from the worried look Zack is starting to give him.

It pulls Cloud a bit back to himself and he shakes his head again, a slow move, as if it would clear voices that aren't there anymore out of his head. He doesn't want to worry his friend.]


I - Zack. What are you doing here?

What... are you talkin' about?

[Now he's *really* confused - did Cloud forget about their mission already? Busting up AVALANCHE heads? Saving prisoners? Ring any bells there?]

If you mean out here, I said I'd be nearby. You're not gettin' that old, Cloud. Your memory's just fine!

[Maybe he's sick from the old. In which case, he would need to bring the other back to camp and see if any of the other infantry could do something.]

It's a little late, maybe you're not gettin' enough sleep. I'll walk you back if y'want?

[no. He hasn't been getting enough sleep but that's not the point. His eyes narrow and pale brows come down.]

I'm twenty three.

[he's not sure why it comes out. It's certainly not the most relevant fact in this entire confusing situation. And twenty three isn't exactly old enough to start losing your memory either. Maybe he fastens on it for just those reasons.

Until he realizes how stupid the comment is and there's a third shake of his head and he lifts a hand to rub at it but when he opens his eyes again, Zack's still there.

He's not even sure why he's fighting seeing Zack again. It's not as if it's a bad thing. The sigh is silent but his shoulders sink the smallest bit and the vulnerability moves into his face.]


Walk me back where?

[A long, long silence. Stunned silence, mind you. His brain isn't quite catching up to those three words you just said to him.

'I'm twenty three'.

'I'm twenty three.'

He was barely older than Cloud. He knew that, he *knew*. There was no way...!]


Cloud.

...could you repeat that.

[Because he needs confirmation it wasn't just a trick of the cold on his mind. Because he wants to be sure Cloud is *fifteen* like he had been this morning, and a few months ago. Because there was no way Cloud was older than him in the matter of a few hours.]

BWAHH@!! surprise Seph icon!

[somehow Zack being unsure helps. It doesn't make sense but knowing he's not the only one that thinks this is - not normal helps.

He's spent far too long being the only one sharing his own reality. He doesn't trust it anymore when he's the only one that sees something differently.

So his brows come down and he takes those last few steps, wind tugging at the straps on his clothing.]


I said 'walk me back where?'.

ZACK IS GIVING A SUSPICIOUS LOOK AT HIM I SWEAR ;;

Not that - I heard that.

[He's stern, and a little concerned right now, though the latter bleeds more in his tone than the former.]

You said you were twenty-three years old, Cloud.

don't trust him Zack! he's just waiting to snap and go octaslash on you!

[that's right. Zack's been gone... years. Sometimes it feels like just days and he's not sure that the passage of time is making it easier. Not when he has so little to show for being a sad excuse for a legacy.]

Hm. I am twenty three. Just this month.

b-but he's my biffle. ;;

[Cloud, you're really good at causing these shocked silences, you know that, right?

You actually got Zack to shut up.

Damn.]

no! he's a BAD biffle! he sets things on fire. At least when Cloud snaps he just - drools on you

[that's - wow. Even as confused and awkward and what the hell is going on as the entire situation is - Cloud's fully aware of how amazing it is when Zack actually goes silent. It takes a lot of his own lost feeling out of him and his hand shifts. Like he's going to shake Zack's shoulder or pat him there or maybe do something else denoting friendship and support.

Instead it ends up being a poke to the shoulder and he's a little surprised when his finger doesn't go through. It's a strong enough poke though to really be real. It still seems utterly incongruous when Cloud's the one asking:]


Zack? You okay?

Or steals my life. B[[[[

[He jumps a little at the contact, quickly shaking his head with a nervous laugh. It betrays everything he's feeling and he barely even notices.

Cloud is suddenly an adult. He was... dreaming. He had to be.]


Y-yeah, okay, you're... comin' back to camp.

[Because... Cloud's delirious. That's it. He wasn't feeling well and Zack had to take care of him until he was.

He walks forward, one hand on his friend's shoulder and trying to guide them both back down the mountain.]

soooo - he took the whole 'living legacy' thing a bit too literally... maybe. Just a little.

[Cloud stays put and it's a testament to the mako he's lived with so long that Zack's hand on his shoulder doesn't even shift him on his feet when his friend tries to herd him back down the path. Something's going on here that's stranger than a dead best friend coming back into his life and Cloud's staying put until he figures it out. Why would his age surprise Zack so much? Unless - he thought he'd only just died. Or -

the realization hits him like a dolphin blow to the stomach and all the color slips out of his face. Dumb founded he stares at his friend, horrified by the thought that - ]


Zack - how old do you think I am?

>8[[[[[ YOU STOLE MY WOMAN.

[He stops, turns again, and places both hands on his friend's shoulders gently. Glowing blue eyes lock onto the other man's, and when he speaks... his voice is calm, but much too serious for someone like him.]

Cloud, you're fifteen. You're part of ShinRa's militia, in the infantry, but you're trainin' to be a SOLDIER.

You don't remember any of this?

... ... ... uh... she's really cute?

[he remembers it - finally. But he also remembers that it was years ago and a different lifetime. Or two or three. Steady he looks back at his friend's eyes.

And he has to fight the urge to smile. Zack's so serious about this. And he really is worried. And it's not funny. It's just - something in him, for no logical reason, finally relaxes. ]


Zack -

[before it occurs to him that it might be kinder to just play along with this, he's pointing. To his own mako infused blue eyes.]

Do I look fifteen?

AND THEN SHE DIED WHILE YOU JUST WENT HURRDURRR WHAT. >8''''(

[Normally, he could tell if someone like Cloud was joking around. The tone of voice was obvious, his demeanor was relaxed... but no, something was different this time around. Those clothes were unfamiliar, his voice held a deeper edge to it, and the fact that he was almost as tall as Zack now...

This wasn't a joke.]


Cloud... I...

What happened to you?

... :'{ excuse us... Cloud's going to go emo in a corner now...

[it's easier this way. They're dealing with a weird situation not...

not Zack being dead.

Cloud can handle dealing with weird situations. And if Zack remembers him as a fifteen year old... then the answer was:

A shrug.]


I grew up, Zack.

[but kind of more importantly than that - his head ducks, just a little and he peers into Zack's eyes.]

And you don't remember that. What's the last thing you do remember?

... >: okay maybe that was harsh. *SNUGS*

[He can't believe this. Cloud's standing right in front of him and he can't believe what he's seeing. How... was this possible? How? If he went back to camp, would his Cloud still be there, or would he just... vanish? And what did this new Cloud know?

So many questions. So many questions and none of them were getting answers.]


You... were right at camp. I talked to you a few hours, about SOLDIER. About your hometown and what we were going to do when we got back to HQ.

Are you...

Really from the future?

[It seemed like a lifetime ago. Or two or three lifetimes. Sitting while Zack listened to his childish dreams of becoming a SOLDIER. He'd been convinced it was the only thing that would make his strong enough, important enough, to notice.

Maybe he still felt that way sometimes. Looking for that impossible to find dream that would finally make him enough.

At the moment though, Zack's question made him feel a little awkward. One of them was obviously out of their set time and since in his time, Zack was...

yeah. Cloud was the one that was unstuck in time. He just couldn't remember how. Had he gotten hit with an effect or a materia that he'd never heard of before? This time he didn't realize it in time to stop himself as he rubbed the back of his neck. With a shrug, he said:]


I - guess so? I'm sure not fifteen anymore at least. Zack - where are we?

C'MERE YOU I'M SORRY. ;A;

[It was a bizarre situation all around, and even though Zack's dealt with pretty much everything at this point, a *time-gap* between the two of them was about one of the most unexpected and strange things he'd ever encounter. So forgive him, Cloud, if he can't quite find the words to say, at first.]

...Modeoheim - where we met before, remember? [Or he hopes Cloud still remembers. It's been so many years...

He gestures a finger out, to a pathway not too far out. One that led to Genesis' old base.]


Right over there.

bwwwwwwaaaaaah \o/ biffle!

Yeah...

[he remembers. He'd had no idea at the time just how much that single meeting would change his life. Meeting Zack though - it was still one of the best things that has ever happened to him. Even before the mako and the madness, Zack had opened his eyes to what a real SOLDIER was like. He'd cared about a nobody like Cloud, called him a friend, made him feel important and remembered and - and like, somehow, he mattered.

And he was still humbled and honored that a man like that called him 'friend'.]


I remember.

[hoping, trying to make things easier, trying to remember to joke the way Zack so often did to ease the tension, he dryly added:]

And Gongaga really is a backwater place.


YES LET ME HOLD YOU IN MY ARMS.

[That? Does help quite a bit. And a genuine, good-ol' Zack-grin breaks out, wrapping an arm around his friend's shoulders and pulling him close.]

Yeah right! Still better than Nibelheim, kid. Way better.

[Of course, he hasn't actually been to Nibelheim yet but it had to be lamer than Gongaga. It had to!

He won't say that, obviously. Home is home is home, and everyone's home was special in some way.]

cries on shoulder - gets snot on you

[the familiar side hug has Cloud's lips actually curling at the edges. Gaia... it had been forever since he'd gotten one of those and the memory of them doesn't do the warm feeling the move gives him justice. He still grunts and rolls his eyes though - some things are just expected. He doesn't struggle to get out of the hold though, which is telling in and of itself.

A fake town or an utterly ruined one? It would be hard to say which one was better. No. That wasn't true. At least Gongaga had still been real. Though Cloud thought it would have broken Zack's heart to see what had become of it - and his parents. Secrets from the future he'd never share.]


At least in Nibelheim you don't get attacked by frogs.

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