one passing night

the evening is spread out against the sky

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- 006 || eternity stares back.
+ What I Am +
hisdreamsmyfate wrote in onepassingnight
Is it dark? Are you still awake? Where are you? Is this a dream?

All of these thoughts and more would flutter through your mind, caught on the thin wire between consciousness, and being trapped within the confines of your own imagination. In time, it slowly dissapates, burning away as the universe reveals itself. You might find yourself standing on a tall, icly pillar, gazing at the stars that seem forever locked in twilight. Or perhaps you're deeper, nearly drowning in a pool of water that seems to have an almost green tinge, wouldn't you agree? and just barely managing to float to the surface. Planets are out of line, the clouds are tricoloured and thick, but no matter what.

The stars remain.

This land is open, free. Shattered. There are absolutely no restrictions here, and the asteroids have already grasped the concept. They shift and crumble before you, just before drifting into the great abyss. You might see those you know, wandering the stars - some with a confused stagger, and others with defined purpose.

Look down.

One of the asteroids is misshapen.

And there is the faint outline of a man resting upon it, sitting as if in meditation.

The will of this world guides you towards it.

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At first, Cloud thinks he's back in Bugenhagen's observatory. It's the same forever of stars with the planets drifting through the eternal night, no up or down to trust except where his feet are standing to prove otherwise. He sees the asteroids and there's a single sliver of cold down his spine, remembering another not so long ago and the way it had filled the entire sky. But no, that's past. He's here. And as he looks around, trying to orient himself in the spinning world that's threatening to make him motion sick if he pays too much attention he sees:


(ooc. as if I could resist an opening like that)

Cloud Strife.

For you, the landscaping is even more unsteady than usual. Your footing will cause even the sturdiest boulders to crumble, the sky blacker than it ever should be. It's a cold, haunting land of desolation, and it just continues to give way the deeper you move inward.

Nearly impossible to navigate, you would eventually find yourself in a new area anyway - a cliff, overlooking the outskirts of the still-bustling city of Midgar (with one sector graciously leveled, mind you). The wind is unforgiving, the faint outline of a man standing on its peak.

A familiar man, though the timelines are that skewed. He doesn't realize this yet.

He's not even a memory to you.

It's a struggle to get anywhere and Cloud's cheeks and the fingers of his gloves are streaked with dirt, a fine dusting of the powdered earth that falls apart under him in his hair too. But he doesn't slow down and he doesn't stop, chin tucked, unnatural blue eyes narrowed as he slowly, steadily makes his way forward no matter how many times the ground gives way or shifts under him. Zack's ahead. He's dragged his mako fevered body across rocks and dead bodies before to reach his friend. This - this is nothing and there's a streak of a younger him in the set of his jaw and the stubborn slant of his pale eyebrows.

He doesn't notice Midgar beyond. Not yet. All he sees is that peak where so much of his world ended and the man at it's summit and he remembers, heart tightening and tearing and thumping too loud in his chest, in his ears. Zack.

Determined he may be but he still finds himself hesitating before that last climb and his voice comes out as dusty as the earth falling apart around him.


He doesn't move, doesn't breathe from his perch upon the wastelands. The now-paled, now-bloodied SOLDIER simply stares out into the distance, head turned from Cloud and black hair lightly flowing in the wind. The most amount of life you'll get, mister ex-SOLDIER sir.

Why should he respond? What has Cloud done for him? He didn't even exist for a long while and that shouldn't earn the other's respect. Zack Fair's legacy was just as ruined at the sword in the ground, the sunflowers molded and wilted in the dirt. Blood drips steadily down to the rotted plants, landing upon them but disappearing almost immediately. It's a slow trickle at first, but then the crimson begins gushing out.

Maybe you'll trip and get it on your face again.

Maybe that would be enough to remind you.

No, the silence is enough.

He stands at the foot of that rise and it seems as if there's an eternity between where he is and where Zack stands. Zack. His friend, his hero, his role model. His savior. And - for far too long, his forgotten ghost, haunting around inside his head with all the other voices that had rattled there. Something about being ignored, about not being heard - it strikes him close to home and he's hit again with the emptiness of realizing he'd forgotten the man that had saved him.

He remembers now!

- but that doesn't make up for forgetting then. And it doesn't make up for living the life now that Zack should have instead. It never should have been Zack on that rise dying.

He's got the SOLDIER eyes at least. His eyesight is sharp enough to see the blood and the dead flowers and the rust on the sword. If the world was right, none of that would be there.

"Zack!" If he's supposed to leave, it's too bad. He's not going. And his pale brows come down as he starts the struggle up the incline. The blood coats his boots, slicks his gloves when he has to hitch forward to catch himself and pull himself upward. He's forgotten. He's made a mess of his future that was supposed to be something Zack could be proud of. He's failed to keep the woman he knows the man above him loves safe and his guilt is layered when it comes to green, teasing eyed Aerith. But he's not going to give up and he's not going to leave Zack alone in a world like this. If his friend doesn't want him anymore than so be it. But he'll take his stand there if the world is crumbling. He can't do much, he never could. But he can stubbornly refuse to give up.

A wing sprouts. A wing grows.

And a wing is enough to wrap around Cloud, aiming to keep the other suspended in the air while the SOLDIER finally turns around slowly, lifeless eyes now turned towards his friend and locking onto blues. But there's a sadness there, and concern for the one who'd forgotten him so long ago.

Time be damned, he wants him to remember.

Cloud is Cloud. Not a former First Class. Not someone he wasn't.

The words threaten to come forward, bloodied mouth opening in speech but more blood simply gushes forward. It stains his shirt, riddled with bullet holes and dead flesh. It's the most amount of color on a face completely devoid of the pallor of life. Even though he doesn't verbally speak, the words come through to his friend anyway.

Wake up.

His frown deepens, his hands coming up to rest against the other's shoulders firmly.

Wake up, Cloud. Who are you?

He'd trust Zack with his life, his future, anything. But the wing has him jerking back, blue eyes flaring wide, hands coming up defensively. Wings and SOLDIER and never, ever a good thing. He flinches as the feathers close around him, eyes narrowing at the touch, but he doesn't resist, don't flail or try to fight that grip. It scrambles him inside though, seeing Zack with an enemy wing and when Zack opens his mouth and blood pours out, something inside Cloud starts screaming. Because -

no. no. no no no. God dammit no! Not again.

- and for just a moment, Cloud's world tips on edge again in the face of those lifeless, dead eyes and he's sixteen inside a body he doesn't recognize, surrounded by a world that's too loud and bright and sharp and overwhelming. And the one thing that's made sense inside his muddled, feverish brain, the one thing he has left in a world where sound cuts and starlight is so bright it hurts is dying, dying, dead. His fault. All his fault. Because he's weak. He's weak, he's always weak and he's no good for anything. Zack was. Zack was - He can't do this. He can't. Cloud can't. Zack could have but Zack's dead and he's only Cloud and he can't - he can't.

Zack could.

Someone like Zack could.

A SOLDIER First could.

Cloud's not good enough. Cloud's not strong enough. Cloud's a failure.

Cloud should be the dead one on the hill. A SOLDIER First should be the one walking away.

I'll be your living legacy.

I'll live the life you were meant to.

I'll be you. Because Cloud shouldn't still be alive and Zack should. And if he can't be Cloud because Cloud's not strong enough to survive this, he'll be someone else. Someone like a SOLDIER First. He'll live the life Zack wanted to.

We'll be mercenaries

I'll be SOLDIER tough. No one will ever hurt what I love ever, ever again.

He's gasping by the time it finishes running through him. Thoughts he'd had without even thinking them. Spindly salvation to a shattering, feverish mind too scared to face things as himself. A promise. He'd made a promise. Dead hands in torn gloves close on his skin, on the disease burning under his skin on one side but it's not that pain that has the tears blurring his eyes and his throat as raw as if he'd been screaming all this time when he's truly been silent.

"Cloud," it comes out raw and ashamed. There's no triumphant or pride in that name. He'd fought so hard to find his way back to himself - and it hadn't mattered in the end. He's an incomplete Zack - but he's an even worse Cloud. "I'm Cloud."

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