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The Fifth Act, Chapter 38 + Epilogue

Title: The Fifth Act

Rating:
T for violence.

Summary: FFVII Time-travel. Gen. Cloud has an accident with a Time Materia.

Author's Note:  So we finally reach the end!  This chapter is really long, longest yet by far, which normally says to me that I haven’t been brutal enough with my editing machete yet, but I did say it would be out today, and god knows I can agonise over endings way too much so I'm just crossing my fingers and hitting 'post'.  Besides, I think I'm going cross-eyed.  Hope it does not disappoint.
 

I also want to take this opportunity to give a big thanks to all the readers and commenters. There was so many awesome threads in the comments, from firedraygon97 ’s cracky comics, to daemoninwhite’s completely unrelated sailormoonFFVII crossover, teekoness’s one-shot spinoff, lunarfirefox 's drawings and heaps and heaps of great recs and discussion.  Seriously, you guys made this fic really worthwhile, I cannot express my appreciation for such a great audience enough, I want to thank you all by name but I think I'm already running up against LJ's post limit.

On with the final chapter!  Thank you for reading!


Previous Chapter  

 

 

__________________

The Fifth Act
Chapter 38


__________________

 

Cloud slowly became aware of the low murmur of voices nearby. It was confusing. Who was talking? Was this the Lifestream? It didn’t feel like the Lifestream – he should know, he’d gone swimming through it more than once. He frowned, fingers twitching, and a low groan built in his throat. Everything hurt.

 

The voices suddenly hushed. There was movement, then - “He’s waking up!”

 

“I’ll go get the others.” Footsteps thudded past.

 

Cloud forced his eyes open, and immediately wished he hadn’t. He shut them again with a hiss.

 

More movement, and the rustle of fabric. “Try again. I’ve shut the curtains.”

 

Cautiously, he cracked open an eyelid. The light didn’t burn straight to the back of his skull this time. He rolled his head to the side towards the voice. It was Genesis, sitting on the bed next to his with his arms crossed, looking very displeased.  

 

“What…?” he whispered, throat scratchy and raw. The Inn at Nibelheim? What happened to the Reactor? And wasn’t he supposed to be dead? Aeris couldn’t have possibly interfered this time! 

 

“You,” Genesis declared, “Have a lot of explaining to do.”

 

Zack bounded back into the room. “Angeal’s still sleeping, but the others will be here in a minute.” He plopped down on the chair next to Cloud’s bed. “Morning, sunshine, how are you feeling?”

 

He felt, rather appropriately, like he’d been run through by Sephiroth. And shot by Vincent. “How…?”

 

Zack fidgeted, looking away. “You wouldn’t stop. Genesis had to cast a Sleep spell on you at the last minute.”

 

“I didn’t expect it to have any effect, honestly,” the Commander grumbled. “It was reflex.”

 

Cloud gingerly raised a hand to touch his bare arm. He’d forgotten. He’d given Kunsel Ribbon. Was that why Jenova had so much stronger an effect on him? No, not entirely. He couldn’t blame Ribbon’s absence.

 

“Zack,” he whispered, stomach churning at the memory. “In the Reactor, I-”

 

Zack grinned and rolled his shoulders. “I’m fine, see? Don’t worry about it! You weren’t yourself. And besides, you stopped when it counted, right?” 

 

“Not all of us were so lucky,” a new voice drawled from the doorway.

 

Cloud knew who it was without even looking – would have known even if he hadn’t said anything. “Sephiroth.” His fingers clutched the blankets, and he struggled to sit up, gasping with the effort. 

 

“Whoa, take it easy!” Zack helped him rest against the headboard. “We couldn’t heal you up all the way. Genesis nearly passed out trying to save you.” 

 

“It wasn’t the healing that was the problem,” the Commander huffed. “It was all the ice and fire and sleep spells before that.”

 

“Your fault, for using materia like it was the end of the world,” Sephiroth drawled.

 

Cloud tactfully didn’t point out that it very nearly could have been the end of the world.

 

“I could handle it now,” Genesis grumbled. 

 

Sephiroth sent him a stern look as he entered the room to stand with them. The lucid part of him – the part that wasn’t in frantic denial – noticed that he was careful to keep his distance. “No more materia. Not for another twelve hours at least. I don’t need all of us bedridden.”

 

That made Cloud pay closer attention to his fellow SOLDIERs. Genesis had a slightly ashen look to his complexion – the sort that came from materia exhaustion specifically. Zack looked rather worn too. Sephiroth didn’t seem quite as tired, but looking closely, Cloud could see the edge of white bandages peeking out from underneath his coat. And he was missing his left shoulder pauldron, too.

 

Sephiroth’s lips quirked, apparently having noticed his inspection. “You were already mid-swing when Genesis knocked you out, so I did not escape entirely unscathed. Do you care to try again?”

 

Cloud shot him a glare. “Don’t push your luck,” he growled. He wished dearly for First Tsurugi, but a furtive look around the room revealed it sitting in the far corner, well out of reach, with Vincent carefully situated between them. Cloud hadn’t even seen Vincent arrive.

 

Relax,” Sephiroth ordered. “I’m not eager to continue our fight just yet. And you’re in no state to even try.”

 

“I’d rather you didn’t continue it at all,” Genesis commented irritably. “I can only cast FullCure so many times in one day.”

 

“I’m afraid that’s up to Cloud.”

 

The other SOLDIERs turned their focus on him. He looked away, teeth clenched. Truthfully, if it weren’t for his injuries, he might have been out of bed and attacking already, weapon or not.

 

“Come on, Cloud,” Zack begged. “The future sounded really bad, but it went differently this time! Sephiroth’s still sane and everything!”

 

His head whipped back around as he stared at his fellow SOLDIER with wide eyes. “You know?”

 

Cloud suddenly wished he’d just jumped into the Reactor core.  See them try and revive him then. This was not a conversation he wanted to have right now. Or ever.

 

“I told them,” Sephiroth confirmed. “Though it was up to Sergeant Kunsel to fill us in on the particulars.”

 

“Kunsel?” He hadn’t noticed his arrival, either – the SOLDIER Second had been loitering by the doorway, quietly watching proceedings. At his attention, he waved. He still looked pale, and resting more of his weight against the doorframe than strictly necessary, but it was good to see the Second in one piece and coherent. He’d been worried after Hojo’s dire predictions. “What happened to you?”

 

“Made it out thanks to you, but mako addiction got the better of me. I was out of it for a while, but I came around in Midgar a few days ago under the care of Zack’s lovely girlfriend.” Zack grinned at the mention of Aeris. “I was hoping I could make it back before anything happened, but I only got here a few hours ago.” He sighed. “If I’d been just a bit faster… well, as it was, I had to call in a lot of favours to make it here this quick.”

 

Cloud felt a wave of relief, followed quickly by dread. “What did you tell them?”

 

“Jenova, Meteor, ShinRa. Just the big stuff,” Kunsel assured him.

 

“Things you should have told us from the beginning.” Vincent’s deep voice cleaved through the conversation for the first time.

 

Cloud glowered at the bedsheets. “You wouldn’t have believed me.” He wouldn’t have taken the risk, either, at what Sephiroth or Genesis or one of the others might have done with the knowledge. If there were a materia capable of erasing people’s memories, he would have given his sword arm for it right then.

 

“We should have guessed, regardless,” Genesis grumbled. “Your PHS was a complete giveaway.”

 

“Who would have thought time travel, though?” Zack protested. “There was always another explanation. We just couldn’t make it all fit together! Like how he got the treatments, or what happened to his friends and family.” He paused. Cloud didn’t like the look of brewing excitement on his face. “Wait… that thing with Spike’s Ma… Spike’s you!”

 

He sounded entirely too gleeful. Cloud glared at him. “Don’t you dare tell them!”

 

“Aww, but Cloud-!”

 

Genesis looked absurdly pleased by the revelation for some reason. He probably didn’t want to know.

 

“Leave the kid alone, Zack,” Kunsel warned. “Apparently I owe him big. Besides, what are they supposed to do if they know? And who wants to hear about all the horrible things that could be waiting for them in the future?”

 

Zack pouted. “Yeah, okay, I see your point. But jeez, Cloud, isn’t it kind of tough? I mean, that’s your Ma.”

 

“I know, Zack.” He fought to keep his voice level. “But she’s alive this time. That’s all that matters.” He’d come to terms with his mother’s death, and no matter how Jenova had torn at old wounds that wouldn’t change.

 

“Ah yes. Sergeant Kunsel mentioned the burning village. It explains why you hate Sephiroth so much, at least,” Genesis mused.

 

“It justifies nothing,” Sephiroth dismissed. “I deserve the benefit of the doubt. I have not even laid eyes upon Ms Strife, much less had the opportunity to murder her.”


“But you weren’t exactly putting up a good front for sanity, you know, burning down the mansion like that,” Zack pointed out. “No wonder Cloud jumped to conclusions.” He paused. “Why did you burn down the mansion?”

 

“I wanted to destroy the research,” was the simple reply. “It was disgusting and needed to be purged from this planet.”

 

“But what about the scientists and guards?” Zack asked cautiously.


Sephiroth didn’t appear bothered by the question. “I let them go and made it clear I never wanted to see them ever again before I started the fire.” At Genesis’s and Zack’s uncomfortable silence, he raised an eyebrow. “Did you think I had killed them?”

 

“What were we supposed to think?” Zack defended. “The place was a furnace!”

 

Cloud was still reeling from the revelation that the mansion had been destroyed. He’d thought about it plenty of times – after they’d liberated Vincent back in his original timeline, he’d toyed with his Fire materia for a good ten minutes before leaving to follow the others. Something always stopped him. It was like the opposite of a holy place, something so steeped in his personal history, something so magnificently terrible about it that he never really believed it could be destroyed.

 

“The building was old. It burned well.” Sephiroth looked rather satisfied at the memory.

 

“Then you went to the Reactor,” he murmured, still trying to reconstruct everything that had happened. “Just like last time.”

 

“Apparently. But you didn’t even stop to ask what my intentions were,” Sephiroth replied.

 

“I didn’t need to. You said yourself – you were going to show me the ending,” he snapped, fists clenching in the blanket.

 

“And was that a problem? I thought it rather poetic.”

 

“You would,” Genesis scoffed, then turned to Cloud. "This man has no understanding of Literature. Do you know what he told me?  That he intended to slay the Goddess.  And then he proceeds to accuse me of having a hero complex and ego problems." 

 

“Are you denying it?” Sephiroth sounded amused.

 

“You know,” Zack interjected, “I don’t know that much about Loveless, but I always thought the Goddess was the girl. You know, the one left behind, waiting for the hero.”

 

“That’s the version playing in Sector 4 at the moment,” Kunsel agreed.

 

It was as though the world had turned upside down. He’d misunderstood from the very beginning – blinded by the events gone past. All along, Sephiroth had done a better job fighting Jenova than he had? Had intended on destroying her from the very beginning? 

 

And for some reason, instead of focusing on that, they were discussing Loveless?

 

"You have all entirely misinterpreted it," Genesis declared.  "You’re forgetting the most important element. The 'Gift of the Goddess'.  An all-consuming destruction, or an all-healing salvation."  He glanced at Cloud from the corner of his eyes.  “The conclusion depends entirely upon that, and that alone.”

 

A heavy silence hung over them at those words. Sephiroth looked thoughtful. Zack looked confused. And who knew what Kunsel or Vincent were feeling.

 

Then Sephiroth dismissed, “An ill-defined concept. In Cloud’s eyes, my destruction would be a form of salvation.”

 

Cloud flushed. He’d been thinking along those exact lines.

 

“That said,” the General continued, “I never imagined you to be so committed to the ‘salvation’ of the planet that you would so eagerly sacrifice yourself.”

 

He stilled. “It was necessary,” he ground out, silently hoping they’d leave it at that. Let them think that was all it was. A desperate charge in which he risked everything to take out his opponent.

 

He’d never been so lucky, though. “I don’t believe that’s correct,” Vincent spoke up, voice barely loud enough to stir the air but able to command the attention of everyone in the room none-the-less. “You were capable of blocking or dodging that attack. You could have struck again before any of us had the chance to react.” His crimson gaze lingered on him, cold and assessing. “So then the question is, why didn’t you?”

 

The silence following that question grew choking.

 

“Cloud?” Kunsel sounded worried.

 

He took a deep breath. It rattled uncomfortably in his chest, and the pain in his side freshened at the movement. “Because,” he said, “That was the way it had to be.”

 

It took a long moment for his statement to sink in.

 

“I don’t believe it,” Genesis eventually murmured. “Angeal was right. You are suicidal.”

 

Zack leapt to his feet. “Cloud! You can’t be serious! A murder-suicide?”

 

“It was the only way to be sure it never happened again,” he repeated, not looking up from the bedspread. He desperately wanted to crawl under the covers and hide.

 

Zack shook his head.  "No way. I don't get it!  Jenova was destroyed, right?  Even if you thought Sephiroth could still be a risk, why try to kill yourself?"

 

How could he explain it?  They would never understand. 

 

In that split second, he’d wondered what he’d do after he destroyed Sephiroth.

 

His first thought had been to destroy ShinRa. Destroy the company that had drained the Planet, dropped the Plate on Sector 7, and made Sephiroth possible in the first place. Destroy the man who left his mother in Nibelheim to die.

 

Except… once he’d been freed of Jenova’s influence, he’d realised how familiar that line of thinking was.

When he found out the truth of his origins...
 

...The first thing Sephiroth had done when he'd returned from the Lifestream was the assassination of President ShinRa.

 

He started to hate ShinRa.

 

Revenge on ShinRa hadn’t been enough. He turned his resentful eyes towards the Planet, and constructed fanciful notions that it was to be destroyed and made anew – that it was his birthright.

 

Then after a while, he started to hate everything

 

He’d felt sick to the core. How sure could he be that in exacting revenge on ShinRa, in saving the Planet, that he wouldn't create a calamity just as bad?  That he wouldn't become something worse than Sephiroth?


Even now, he wasn't sure if he trusted himself with that kind of power. Jenova had been able to control him so easily. All it had taken was that one hook of bitter resentment that he couldn’t have the same friends or family in this world, coupled with that simmering anger at the discovery of his heritage, and Jenova had been able to wheedle her way in, more thoroughly even than when he’d little more than a blank slate, desperately searching for the truth of his identity.

 

Just because Jenova was gone didn’t mean the bitterness had gone away. How much would it take? How close was he to the edge?

 

If he became the next Sephiroth, would anybody be able to stop him?

 

Sephiroth appeared to sense his line of thinking.  He crossed his arms and fixed him with a steely green glare.  “I’ll make you a deal, Cloud. You promise to kill me should I go insane, and I’ll do the same for you.”

 

The words snapped him out of his introspection, and he glowered at the General. “You can’t. I can beat you.”

 

“Then I will simply have to elicit help,” he replied, with a raised eyebrow towards the rest of the room’s occupants.

 

Zack nodded encouragingly. “That’s right! We wouldn’t let you do anything bad. If Genesis and Vincent and Kunsel and me worked together, we could tackle either of you, no problem!”

 

…That was true, wasn’t it? In the Northern Crater, Avalanche had been with him. For that particular version of Sephiroth – the strongest one – he hadn’t fought alone.

 

It was overwhelming. He’d dismissed them all, subconsciously – they weren’t his friends, from his timeline. They were people he had to save, not people to rely on. He’d been so stuck on the absence of Tifa and Avalanche, on Vincent’s distrust, on all the sacrifices he had to make and secrets he had to keep that he’d failed to notice the new allies around him. Which now apparently included his once mortal enemy.

 

"I don't understand," he murmured.  "How did it all change?  I didn't do anything in the end." 

 

He hadn't killed Hojo.  Hadn't killed Jenova.  Hadn't stopped the Wutai War.  Hadn't even managed to kill Sephiroth.  Hadn't done a single thing he'd set out to when he decided to change the future.


"You cured me," Genesis reminded him primly.  "Apparently otherwise I would have turned on ShinRa."


"I must confess that it may have had an impact on my own conduct," Sephiroth acknowledged.  "When you and Angeal went missing, I might not have handled the company's treachery as well without Genesis on hand." 

 

The Commander smirked, and tucked a stray strand of hair behind his ear. “So the great General Sephiroth does care.”

 

“I merely meant that your obsession with Loveless was sufficiently amusing to distract me.”

 

That was the difference?

 

Impossible. All that time, all those failures, all that struggling… and he’d already changed fate with that one, thoughtless act of compassion? That one stab of sympathy he felt for a fellow test subject in Wutai? 

 

He gasped, folding in on himself. Genesis and Zack were by his side in a moment. “Cloud, what’s wrong? Did you reopen your wounds?” His friend – alive, whole, and untouched by Hojo – patted his back gingerly.

 

“Do you need another FullCure? Vincent may be able to cast it,” Genesis offered.

 

He shook his head. The pain from his half-healed wounds didn’t even register. The room at the Inn suddenly felt overcrowded. Five SOLDIERs and a former Turk. None of whom would have been here otherwise. 

 

Dare he believe? Dare he trust?

 

“That was it?” he repeated hoarsely. “Just because Genesis didn’t betray ShinRa, you didn’t go crazy?”

 

Sephiroth frowned. “Perhaps not entirely.” He inclined his head towards Vincent.  "Were I not aware of a human mother, also, I might not have been so inclined to listen to reason."

 

Such small changes.

 

He gave Sephiroth a dubious look.  "You really don't have any notions of godhood?  No 'right to the Planet'?" he pressed.


"Why would he?" Zack asked.  "He's as human as the rest of us."


Sephiroth, however, met his gaze evenly.  He knew what Cloud was talking about.  "I won't deny that in the library... even in the Reactor, the thought crossed my mind."  He cast a glance towards Genesis.  "More than Gods... We were monsters.”

 

Genesis gripped his shoulder.

 

He folded his arms.  “But you know, Cloud, at that last moment, when you were speared with my sword and I truly thought the end had come... I have never felt so human before in my life.” He frowned, almost talking to himself. “I truly believed I would die. In that instant, I felt mortal for the very first time.”

 

He’d seen the look before, he recalled. The first time in the Reactor, when Cloud had thrown him into the core. Then in the Northern Crater, when they faced off amidst the whirling Lifestream. In the ruins of Midgar, for just an instant, when Cloud had struck with Omnislash.

 

It was good enough.  That public admission, more than anything else, convinced him.

 

There was still a chance.  Something else might set Sephiroth off.  But now... Cloud thought, for the first time, it might be worth the risk.

 

And with everyone else around… maybe he could take a risk on himself, too.

 

 

…………………………..

 

 

That evening found Cloud walking down the hallway in the Inn towards the other room, hand pressed against the wall for some extra support. Mako worked quickly - it would probably take over a week to finish healing those injuries without the aid of materia, but he could at least stand and walk short distances without reopening the bullet wound in his leg or the hole Masamune had left in his side.

 

It had been a stressful afternoon, filled with endless questions about the ‘future’ and repeated demands for promises that he wouldn’t kill either himself or Sephiroth without permission. Finally, however, he had a chance to slip out of the room. Kunsel had gone to visit the Strife household to offer his thanks, and Sephiroth had gone to talk to the Mayor about the mansion.

 

He paused in the corridor.  “You were right. You don’t need to worry. I won’t try to kill him again.”

 

Vincent stepped into view behind him, seeming to melt from the shadows. “It isn’t only Sephiroth I’m concerned about.”

 

“I’m not going to kill myself, either. I never wanted to die.”

 

“Yet you still intended to.”

 

“Would you prefer I locked myself in a coffin for thirty years?” He turned to face the former Turk directly. “What would you have done, if you lost control to Chaos?” It was an answer he already knew, but one of the many things he’d never share.

 

“…It appears you knew me quite well in your future.”

 

Cloud sighed, and continued slowly down the hallway. “Yeah.”

 

Vincent didn’t have a response. Cloud hadn’t expected one.

 

“Where are you going now?”

 

“Just to the next room.” He didn’t extrapolate beyond that. Vincent shadowed him, somehow making the unnaturally sedate pace seem perfectly normal.

 

He paused outside the entrance, staring down at the line of warm light peeking out from underneath the door. He could hear voices on the other side. Zack and Genesis, probably. “Hey. You should take Sephiroth to go see his real mother.”

 

“You think it wise?”

 

Cloud shrugged. It couldn’t hurt. Just a little more insurance. Anything to keep Sephiroth firmly grounded on the side of humanity. “He never found out the truth in my time,” he murmured. A lot like him in that respect.

 

Vincent inclined his head, and Cloud twisted the handle.

 

The room was a perfect mirror image of the one he’d come from – three beds lined up against the wall, a sink in one corner, and old, faded paintings hanging on the walls. The warm light from the lamps shaded everything an off orange that gave him a headache, instead of creating the ‘cosy’ feel the owner had been after. Genesis and Zack were sitting by the bedside next to the far wall, and looked up as he entered. 

 

“Hey!” Zack greeted.

 

Genesis frowned. “You’re not supposed to be up and about yet.” He rolled a materia between his fingers. “Don’t make me cast Sleep on you again.”

 

Cloud really needed to get Ribbon back from Kunsel soon. Genesis was enjoying his newfound vulnerability to status materia far too much.

 

He moved over to stand near the bed. Angeal looked up at him tiredly – propped against the headboard. He didn’t look well, and was swathed in bandages. “Strife.” His gaze wandered towards Vincent next, and took on a wary expression.

 

Zack hastily introduced, “Vincent, this is my mentor, Angeal. Angeal, this is Vincent. He’s an ex-Turk.” Apparently figuring it would earn character points, he added, “He killed Hojo.”

 

Vincent made no motion that could be construed as a greeting, but Angeal relaxed and nodded all the same.

 

“How is he?” Cloud asked Genesis in a low voice. Not that it mattered. In a room full of SOLDIERs, everyone could hear him easily.

 

The auburn-haired Commander pressed his lips together in a thin line, casting a glance at his bed-ridden friend. “With degradation, there is little materia can do.”

 

“Don’t worry about me. I’ve come to terms with it,” Angeal said tiredly, eyes closed as his head rested against the pillow tucked behind him.

 

Genesis scowled. “Come to terms with it? Given up, you mean!”

 

“You can’t give up, Angeal. There’s meant to be a cure, right?” Zack threw him a desperate glance. 

 

Genesis must have told them. Cloud remained impassive. Aeris should be safe from ShinRa now that Hojo was gone, but he’d rather not take chances. Instead, he muttered, “I wanted to say sorry.”

 

Angeal shook his head. “Genesis and Zack explained it. You weren’t yourself. I thought something was off when I confronted you.” He broke into a wry grin. “I deserved it, anyway.”

 

“Angeal!” Zack began to protest, but his teacher held up a hand for silence.

 

"Genesis, Zack, could we have a moment?"


Genesis looked reluctant to leave them without a chaperone. Understandable. It had been Cloud who’d put Angeal into his current condition in the first place. The wounds weren’t life threatening for a normal SOLDIER, but with such an advanced state of degradation, they could become a real problem.

 

“I don’t have my sword, if that’s what you’re worried about,” Cloud offered.

 

Genesis glared at him, then back at Angeal. “I can see that perfectly well.”

 

“He just doesn’t like being left out,” Zack confided, then winced as Genesis gripped him by the back of his neck like a misbehaving puppy. “Ow! Genesis!”

 

“Call us when you’re done,” he huffed, and dragged Zack from the room with him. After a moment, Vincent drifted out as well.

 

“And no listening at the door!” Angeal called out after them.

 

Cloud sat down on the bed next to Angeal’s, gaze focused somewhere on the opposite wall.

 

“Now that you’re awake, they’re focusing all their worry on me.” He shifted in place with a slight grimace. “I wouldn’t mind too much if you were to pass out in the hallway when you’re done,” he joked.

 

Cloud stared at him. “You’re not angry?”

 

The grey-haired Commander sighed. “I should be the one asking that question.”

 

A minute dragged by in uncomfortable silence. Honestly, after dealing with Hojo, Cloud had entirely forgotten about Hollander and his initial abduction. In fact, compared to the past few months, his time in Banora seemed like a holiday in Costa de Sol. Eventually, he shrugged. He probably didn’t have it in him to forgive Angeal, but he could ignore it. He’d managed to declare a truce with the Turks, after all, and they dropped the Plate on Sector 7.

 

"I didn't tell them.  About your S-cells, I mean,” Angeal said.


"It doesn't matter," he muttered.  "Sephiroth knows now."

 

“I guess he does.” A beat. “So, time travel, huh?”

 

Cloud shrugged again.

 

Angeal stared at him thoughtfully for a long moment. It was strange seeing the man like this – old, tired, hair grey, face wrinkled, and confined to a bed. He didn’t look like one of ShinRa’s top SOLDIERs. If it weren’t for the subtly glowing eyes or the white feathers poking out from under the sheets, he could have been mistaken for somebody’s grandfather. 

 

“You’ve probably been given quite the interrogation already, but can I ask just one more question?”

 

He nodded.

 

Angeal looked off into the distance – through a window that showed only the inky darkness of Nibelheim’s night. “I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, as you’d probably guess. My legacy. What I should do.” He touched the bandages wrapped around his chest with a rueful smile. “I know my body well enough to know I don’t have a lot of time left. I don’t think Genesis and Zack understand how little.” He sighed, and turned back to him. “I guess I’m just beating around the bush. Strife… is this how I die?”

 

He knew it would only be a matter of time before somebody asked him that question.

 

Cloud looked down at his hand. Before Kunsel had left earlier, he’d quietly pressed a vial of clear liquid into his grasp. He’d glanced at the Second, but as always, the helmet hid his expression.

 

“No,” he said shortly. “This isn’t how you die.”

 

It was the small actions that made the biggest differences.

 

Wordlessly, he thrust the vial out at Angeal. He stared at it blankly, until comprehension dawned on him. “But… you’ve been in confinement the past six months!”

 

“Don’t ask questions I won’t answer.” He stood and headed to the door. Angeal would probably want the privacy.

 

“Strife!”

 

He paused, fingers resting on the handle.

 

“…Thanks. Not just for the cure. But for helping Genesis, and Sephiroth, and Zack.”

 

“It’s really nothing,” he murmured. “I’m not even the one you should be thanking.”

 

“I think you’re selling yourself short. Maybe you didn’t kill Hojo or Jenova, from what I hear, but if it weren’t for you, neither would have anyone else.” He gave him a considering look. “…You’ve been fighting alone for a long time, haven’t you? All by yourself.”

 

Almost anyone who looked at Angeal would see nothing but brawn, but he was shrewd in his own way. He understood people, the same way Zack and Aeris did.

 

“…Yeah. But not anymore.”

 

 

…………………………..

 

 

Things progressed quickly after Angeal had been cured. Tseng had done his job well - careful revealing of misdirected funds to the Science Department, Hojo's role in Hollander's murder, and the professor's lies about the 'Promised Land' had angered the President enough to avoid too much of a fuss when he found out about Hojo's death.  He was a savvy businessman, even as he grew older - he was not so stupid as to risk the desertion of all of his top SOLDIERs, especially when the damage had already been done.  Thus several days after the incident at the Reactor, Lazard had called and politely asked when they would be back so he could organise the mission roster. Not long after that, the Turks flew in on helicopter to pick over the burnt out remains of the mansion, a new, unfamiliar doctor was promoted to head of the Science Department, Kunsel’s ‘death’ was treated as a computer glitch, and the whole affair was quietly swept under the rug, with the proviso that so long as they pretended nothing had changed, ShinRa was willing to pretend too.

 

Elaborate cover-ups, Cloud reflected bitterly, were ShinRa’s true speciality.

 

Now, two weeks later, he walked through the Sector 5 slums, eyes carefully directed at the ground. His latest stint in the mako tanks still had them glowing, as bright as one of the SOLDIERs from Deep Ground – it would be a while before his system adjusted and they reverted to their normal luminescence.

 

It felt strange to be back in Midgar. Trapped in Hojo’s lab, he’d almost resigned himself to losing another four years. And to fly back in an airship, instead of going by foot, bike, boat, or whatever ride they managed to hitch – that had been strange, too. It had taken Zack months to drag them back to Midgar, hunted by ShinRa. The possibility of taking an airship back and returning to work for the company was not a thought he’d ever entertained.

 

Cloud hadn't really wanted to return - it had been bad enough working for the company again the first time.  Angeal and Vincent had been reluctant, too.  But the others had argued persuasively that it would be easier to change ShinRa from the inside instead of running amok blowing up Reactors. 

 

It was just awkward, working at ShinRa now that he knew. He wasn't sure how to react around Lazard or Rufus or the President anymore.  He'd considered using his relation to exert some influence on the company, but Cloud wasn't cut out for that kind of politics.  He'd prefer if nobody knew of the link at all - it would make things easier on his younger self in the long run, too.

 

His life was far too complicated. He missed having normal problems.

 

There was the church. Still a fixture in the slums, scarcely changed, no matter what time he wound up in. Cloud slowed his pace, approaching with a quiet reverence, footsteps growing softer so as not to disturb the peace. He stopped outside and took a deep breath. Even out here, he could smell them. The flowers.

 

He needed to see her with his own eyes. To make sure it wasn’t his imagination. To make sure she was still alive.

 

He pushed open the heavy doors. The hinges squeaked loudly, announcing his arrival. And there she was, wearing her white sundress, pink ribbon in her hair, kneeling among the white and yellow flowers.

 

Not just the flowers, he realised after a moment. A small pond, too. Only a quarter of the size of the one he remembered, but the sight still sent shivers of familiarity down his spine. Odd – now he was getting for nostalgic for things he remembered from the future instead of the past.

 

“Mr Nobody!” Aeris greeted, voice echoing sweetly off the stone walls. “I was hoping you’d come visit.”

 

He headed down the aisle towards her, stopping a short distance away. She didn’t wait for him to say anything – probably knew he wouldn’t. He’d be content to stand and stare at the scene all day. “Zack came here as soon as you got back from Nibelheim,” she said. “I was really happy for him. I’m glad his teacher’s okay.”

 

“Thanks to you,” he murmured.

 

“Not just me. Everyone worked together.” She clasped her hands in her lap and searched him with bright green eyes. “And what about you, Mr Nobody? Are you okay now?”

 

He looked off to the side, not able to meet her eyes. “…I don’t know. Maybe.”

 

She gave him a considering look at that, but didn’t press. 

 

Cloud shifted awkwardly in place. He’d come to see her, but now that he was here, didn’t know what to say. “…That was your voice I heard, wasn’t it? In the Reactor.”

 

She nodded. “It was just a minute,” she confided. “For just one minute, I could tap into the Lifestream. I learned, when trying to summon the water.”

 

I’ve become a lot stronger since we last met.

 

“Does that mean you can hear it, now?” he asked. “The cries of the Planet?” He recalled Nanaki talking about it when the WEAPONs first rose. That was one concern always lingering in the back of his mind – that even though the most immediate threat of Jenova and Meteor might have been eliminated, that also meant the longer-term threat wouldn’t be neutralised.

 

She hummed a little, and told him, “You shouldn’t worry so much. The Planet’s stronger than you think.” She selected a flower and carefully broke the stem, adding it to the growing pile next to her.

 

He remembered enormous tendrils of Lifestream bursting from the surface, streaming through the sky, rising to meet Meteor. “Yeah. I guess it is.”

 

“So why such a sad face?” she prodded.

 

He shook his head. “How can you not be scared? Knowing what I did.”

 

She tilted her head to the side. “What do you mean?”

 

“I… I nearly killed him,” he confessed. “Zack. And not just him. I could have become Jenova’s vessel.” The words tumbled out of his mouth. “If it weren’t for you-”

 

She turned sombre. “All I did was give you a nudge. I couldn’t have done anything, if you decided not to listen.”

 

“But how did you- I’m not a Cetra.”

 

“Silly.” She gave him a soft smile. “Just because you can’t hear the Planet, doesn’t mean the Planet can’t hear you. You were calling to her with all your might.”

 

Unbelievable. “Still…Thanks,” he mumbled.

 

“It was really nothing,” she promised. “I’m just glad you’re still with us. Zack would have missed you. I would have, too.”

 

The sentiment left him off-balance. Odin, did everybody know what he’d done?

 

“Don’t worry. Zack didn’t tell me.” She plucked another flower, arranging it in a tidy bundle with the others.

 

That wasn’t much of a relief, considering. “I thought you couldn’t read minds,” he accused.

 

“Of course I can’t. But I can tell what you’re thinking anyway. It’s written all over your face.”

 

And his friends always complained he wasn’t expressive.

 

"You're not thinking of disappearing, though, are you?" she asked softly.

 

Cloud hunched his shoulders.  "I tried, actually.  But I barely made it out of Midgar before Genesis and Sephiroth appeared to drag me back."  He scowled.  Now that he'd learned how to use their connection, Sephiroth had been putting S-cells to good use in tracking him down.  Probably had him on some kind of suicide watch still.

 

“Good,” she said. “I don’t blame you for what happened, and neither does Zack. It’s what you do with your future that counts.” She gathered up the flowers and brought them over to a quaint-looking wagon. At his curious look, she beamed. “Do you like my flower wagon? Zack made it for me.”

 

He noticed two others in the corner of the church – one looked like it would fall apart in a slight breeze, and the other reminded him of one of Scarlet’s machines. This one had delicate trimming, was painted white, and had large, ornamental wheels. Third time lucky, he guessed. “It’s nice.” What happened to the basket, though? Was this another change?  “You know, you could even sell them above Plate, now. You don’t have to hide from ShinRa anymore. Hojo’s gone.”

 

The brightness of her smile left him off-balance. “I hadn’t thought of that. It would be wonderful if everybody could enjoy them.”

 

“And Zack promised to show you the sky sometime, right? You can go with him, now.”

 

Her eyes widened at that, and she turned to look at him in surprise. “He told you?”

 

Embarrassed, Cloud didn’t answer. But Aeris looked so pleased at the thought, he didn’t think she needed one.

 

Zack would keep his promise this time. It still seemed unreal to him. Abruptly, he let out a huff of a laugh and sat on the nearest pew.  

 

“Something funny, Mr Nobody?” Aeris teased gently.

 

Cloud rubbed his neck. “Not really. I just…” He didn’t know how to explain it. “I never thought everything would turn out so well.” Everything kept going wrong – getting the ending he wanted had seemed impossible at times. 

 

“I think you did, or you wouldn’t have worked so hard. You just have to start believing in it.”

 

They were strangers in this time, but she still knew him so well. “You’re right, again,” he admitted.

 

She gave him a cheeky grin. “Of course I am. You think too much, Mr Nobody. Where would you be without me and Zack to take care of you?”

 

The words should have stung – because he had lost them both once, so violently – but now they filled him with comfort. Because they were going to be around now, weren’t they? Younger than he was this time, and their relationship was different, but they were still here.

 

He'd finally grown comfortable with the idea that he could start a new life here in place of his old one. Of course, that didn't mean he wouldn't continue to do small things to improve the lives of his former friends.  He could do something about the incident in Corel that led to Barrett losing his arm and Marlene losing her parents.  Make sure Nanaki stayed safe in Cosmo Canyon. Support Reeve with his plans, try to find some way to prevent Rufus becoming so ruthless, and make sure Shalua and Shelke didn’t run afoul of Deep Ground or Avalanche.

 

He also had to keep an eye on his 'nephew', who'd signed up to cadet training despite the uncertain future of the SOLDIER program.  Why, he didn't know.  Cloud officially didn't understand himself anymore.  The timeline had apparently diverged too much.

 

“I think I’m in trouble if I need a pair of teenagers looking out for me,” was all he said.

 

Aeris giggled. “So, what happens next?’ she asked brightly. 

 

“Next?” He stared at the flowers, their petals quivering faintly in the breeze wafting in through the half-open door. “I don’t know.” It was strange not to know, now. But it was a relief, too. It meant things really had begun to change. He stood, and started to head for the door. There were still things left to do. “Isn’t the rest up to the Planet?”

 

 

…………………………….

 

 

EPILOGUE

 

 

Cloud was heading to the Equipment Room when he was practically accosted by a blur of red in the hallway. “Genesis?”

 

“Where have you been?” he demanded.

 

He shrugged out of his grip. “Just visiting a friend in the slums.”

 

The Commander eyed him suspiciously, but seeing as he’d returned in one piece, seemed to forgive him. Angeal followed him up the hallway, and rolled his eyes behind his friend’s back. He was back to his normal self, though there were a few more wrinkles lining his face than before, and some grey streaks still lingering in his hair.

 

He tossed a small device at him – Cloud caught it on reflex, and stared at it in confusion.  “My PHS?” He’d wondered what had happened to it, but assumed it had been lost for good. “Where’s it been?”

 

“Reeve Tuesti,” he explained. “You need to help the Planet, correct? Future technology seems a good way to start. I brought it to him to reverse-engineer.”

 

“Without asking me first?” he grumbled, mostly for the sake of it.

 

“I figured you didn’t need it,” he dismissed. “Aside from that one call from Vincent, the only other messages you received were spam. You may want to look into blocking that.”

 

Cloud’s eyes widened, and he flipped open his PHS, frantically paging through message after message, each one worse than the last. “You haven’t been answering it?!”

 

Genesis looked puzzled. “Of course not. It was obviously a hoax. It grew increasingly absurd. Escaping from a flock of death gazes into a behemoth’s den? Getting lost in the wastes and winding up at Modeoheim? Who would believe that?” 

 

He reached the most recent message, swore, and snapped the PHS shut. “Tell Lazard I’m going to be gone for a couple of days. I have to go rescue someone in the Northern Crater.”

 

“The Northern Crater?” Angeal raised his eyebrows. “How on earth did anybody wind up there?” The alive part went unspoken.

 

Cloud threw his hands up in the air and headed for the elevator. “I wish I knew.”

 

Forget saving Zack, or Aeris, or Genesis, or Angeal. Keeping Yuffie alive was quickly becoming his most difficult mission. And he still didn’t know how she’d gotten his PHS number in this timeline.

 

 



 


Comments

( 157 comments — Leave a comment )
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croix_souillees
May. 16th, 2010 11:38 am (UTC)
*screams, topples over, dies*

EDIT: FIRST.

Edited at 2010-05-16 11:39 am (UTC)
croix_souillees
May. 16th, 2010 11:39 am (UTC)
*flails at endlessly, then flails some more* .... fff.
kaorismash
May. 16th, 2010 12:24 pm (UTC)
OMG LAST CHAPTER *GOES TO THE START OF HOARDS*
(Anonymous)
May. 16th, 2010 12:52 pm (UTC)
:)
AHHH!!! The Last Chapter!!! O.O *flails*

There was all the reveal-y stuff, but Zack... he made me laugh. He’s so slow xD (“Wait… that thing with Spike’s Ma… Spike’s you!”)

And then this: (Genesis looked absurdly pleased by the revelation for some reason. He probably didn’t want to know.)… Something tells me Genesis remembered Spike’s fanboying AHAHAH! Evil laughter says it all >_>

The banter between the group was humorous, too. The fact that it went from discussing the future and end of the world to… Loveless… Genesis was really on to a winner when he discovered that play! Poor iddle Cloud!

Poor iddle /suicidal/ Cloud! Sephiroth, ever the tactful one… (“I’ll make you a deal, Cloud. You promise to kill me should I go insane, and I’ll do the same for you.”) Made me laugh.

And who knew Genesis was so important?

Cloud didn’t really do much to change the future in his opinion, and yet it all turned out dandy! The irony must be… /maiming/ him xD

- - -

Genesis getting all happy that his material work on Cloud now? I can imagine him chuckling maniacally, status effect after status effect >_> xD

AND ANGEAL IS CURED! That little aside was kinda bittersweet… Angeal does kinda understand… he kinda always did.


- - -

And Aeris

By the way- Genesis using Sephy as a tracking device when Cloud decides to try and do a runner? GENIUS!!

- - -

Oh Yuffie… Yuffie, Yuffie, Yuffie. Sometimes words aren’t enough xD

- - -

You, dear writer, are a genius! :D

I know this review contains things that you already know, but meh.

I must say, thank you for this- I loved every second!! And the happy ending was so happy! That’s so nice! It’s not often that I read a FFVII back to the past fic where it ends up happy QQ

So heres some points to you that I loved throughout the fic!

- For Genesis and Angeal- Not making Genesis an ass!! So many people make him so mean, and one dimensional, and yet you’ve given him a character! So many people make Angeal out to be a saint, yet you’ve avoided that trap in a believable way!

- Showing the gravity of Clouds feelings, other than determinism to change things. You’ve shown him reacting to events accordingly, and I really enjoyed that!

- You’ve given Sephiroth character… while having him stay in character. ‘Nuff said.

- The inclusion of Kunsel, poor boy is often neglected by the fandom, yet he was so sweet in Crisis Core!

- And as for the story in general? It had originality, something that’s kinda hard for the genre, it had plot twists that made me flail for a good couple of minutes before I could continue reading, and it also had a feel good ending!

YAY!

So anyways, long review is long, but I wanna say thanks! You kept me hooked throughout… to think, I’d never have found this if it weren’t for Lizeth (sp?) on dA! I also found your page on FF.net and will be checking round for any other fics you do!

And lastly- I’ll be recommending you in the Genesis awards… once nominations open up for this year xD

Have an awesome week!



sinnatious
May. 16th, 2010 01:36 pm (UTC)
Re: :)
Thanks for such a long review! And for all of your previous comments too. I have some hardcore warm fuzzies now. *_*

I am kind of shocked that the ending wound up so happy too! Glad you liked it. And that you liked everyone's characterisations, too. Everyone has their own perceptions of the characters, so making it work can be tricky! Especially Kunsel. I think throughout the course of this fic I made myself into a Kunsel fangirl with all the research into him. He does need more love.

Re: Genesis awards - Oh wow, thank you. That's an honour.

I will have an awesome week! Although I might be at a loss with my newfound free time. XD You have an awesome week too.
Re: :) - demon_vampirate - May. 17th, 2010 02:28 am (UTC) - Expand
:) Re: :) - (Anonymous) - May. 17th, 2010 05:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
May. 16th, 2010 01:21 pm (UTC)
The last chapter? D:

But... What will I do with my life NOW?
sinnatious
May. 16th, 2010 01:39 pm (UTC)
I have no idea! I'm having the same problem! We'll need to get some hobbies or something.
(Anonymous)
May. 16th, 2010 01:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks for great story!!!
I'm only the fifth to comment? Wow, I've never been so high up before! (usually I'm the 30th or so. When I comment at all, which is rare. [g])

Thank you!!! This was a GREAT story! :)

I'm still curious as to HOW Cloud got that last vial to Angeal... do love the S-radar, too (hello, Cloud? Can you hear me now?).

Love how I can imagine a mini-background for Lazard -- ok, when will you all be done being AWOL? Next Tuesday? Great, your next mission will be at 10 a.m., please don't be late.... [LOL]

And wow, Yuffie -- who would've guessed the extent of her secret ninja spying skills? [hee, hee] Lucky Genesis didn't delete all of her messages. :) She should be ok with the *mastered* fire materia she's still holding. Hope Cloud remembers to get his ribbon back before dealing with random monsters out there.

Lovely, lovely. Happy, happy dance it's done (but sad, too! Selfishly still want more, wahhhh!!! Maybe a sequel?). THANK you, too, for posting on FF.net. Once up, I'll be able to read it as a whole in one go.

Hugs and congrats on finishing the saga! Awesome work.
sinnatious
May. 16th, 2010 01:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading!
I honestly can't tell most of you anons apart so~ ^_^

Cloud got the vial for Angeal's cure from Kunsel, who brought it from Aeris (she was looking after him when they all left on their rescue mission, remember?) Ha ha, S-radar, that's a good name for it.

No sequel, but happy you liked it that much. Thanks!
(Anonymous)
May. 16th, 2010 01:48 pm (UTC)
LMSDMGEIIGNFF Last chapter!!!! Noes, the ride's over already... :(((


“I wanted to destroy the research,” was the simple reply. “It was disgusting and needed to be purged from this planet.”

...

“The building was old. It burned well.” Sephiroth looked rather satisfied at the memory.


These are both cute and terrifying, if only because Sephiroth's ah, extremeness, has been aimed somewhere less harmful. It's interesting to see the almost-normality of Sephiroth and still have it in-character.

“I didn’t need to. You said yourself – you were going to show me the ending,” he snapped, fists clenching in the blanket.

“And was that a problem? I thought it rather poetic.”


LOL Sephiroth, you and your poor choice of words and poetic timing... Leave the literary flourishes to Genesis, okay? Less crazy-sounding.

"It's up to the Planet now..." Perfect last line and callback, all in one.

Cloud officially didn't understand himself anymore. AHAHAHAHA what's new, Cloud? *hug*

There's more I wanted to point out, but I might use up what little space LJ gives to comments.

Broader points:

- I love the banter and the relationships you've given these wacky mutant kids, and that you've kept it consistent and so very much in-character for them.

- What happened to the mini-horsybird Angeal-clone? Did it die? :(

- Cloud still learns the AC moral lesson! Not alone, not anymore, doesn't have to take it all upon himself, forgiving others and yourself is okay... Nice touch! And no one innocent had to die this time around!

- It's a pity that Cloud will never get to see Original-Timeline people again, but it's wonderful to know that he can make a better life and a brighter future here, and that he's willing to try.

- Genesis's recovery indirectly saving them all! At last, he has become a hero, just like he always wanted :3 Does he know that Mini-Cloud hero-worships him?

All in all, thank you so much for sharing this story with us, and hope to see more of your work in the fandom!
demon_vampirate
May. 17th, 2010 02:25 am (UTC)
Haha, silly you, worrying about overtaking the comment character limit. I've done it multiple times by now, including on this chapter, further down.
(no subject) - sinnatious - May. 17th, 2010 09:26 am (UTC) - Expand
mickeytheblue
May. 16th, 2010 01:52 pm (UTC)
Awwww... The Final Chapter! (It took me a while to start reading. I was too afraid of the outcome)

I'm so glad that everything turned out well for everyone. (It didn't look like it would turn out well in the last chapter. I got crazy thinking of possible endings, and they were all tragedies >___< )

I'm so glad that Cloud's alright and is able to fit in this new timeline and is not being all suicidal now :D And Hurray for not-insane Sephiroth!

I just love how Cloud thinks that he was not able to change anything like kill hojo and jenova, but then the fact that he saved Genesis already changed the future for the better. (Yay for Genesis!!)

Anyways, I just like to thank you for this fic. (And thanks for FINISHING it too, all the other WIP fics I read before were abandoned TT___TT ) It's just so filled with awesomeness. And the way you portray the characters is just spot on! It's practically canon! XD

Congratulations on finishing The Fifth Act! It was an awesome adventure! :D
sinnatious
May. 17th, 2010 09:32 am (UTC)
Hee, one thing I probably shouldn't say about my writing is that you should fear bad endings more when things are going well, as opposed to poorly. Like, if Cloud had actually killed Jenova without interference and triumphed and had everything go according to plan... then someone innocent almost certainly would have died. Some kind of law of conservation of melodrama. Still! I'm surprised people could be surprised by a happy ending, as that's normally the cliche.

You're welcome, thank you for all of your comments thoughout! It was fun.
(no subject) - mickeytheblue - May. 17th, 2010 10:49 am (UTC) - Expand
fateofshadow
May. 16th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
*wibbles*

What am I going to do with my life NOW?

I can't even describe how awesome this story is, all my blathering from previous chapters wittles down to 'EPIC'. Do you have any other FFVII stories in the works or do you want to give the fandom a break? I'd read anything you've written at this stage- to the ends of the earth! *giggles*
sinnatious
May. 17th, 2010 09:38 am (UTC)
I have a FFVII one shot I want to write, but no idea when that'll come out, I'm taking it easy for a while I think. ;) Not done with this fandom yet, though - god, all I have to do is watch ACC again and the plot bunnies spring forth like mushrooms.

Thank you for all of your comments! I didn't always get around to replying, but I appreciated them all.
(Anonymous)
May. 16th, 2010 03:00 pm (UTC)
It's DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE~! It's the last chapter!!

I've been with this story from day 2, I have to tell you, and I'm so excited now that it's done!!! And despite your being worried about this chapter being too long, it was perfectly fine, and it being the last chapter and all, everybody's happy at the extended length before you go away.

I think your epilogue is so perfect, with Yuffie ending up in the Northern Crater and Cloud's friends thinking it was spam, and, and, and...

On the one hand I want to hear a lot more, on the other hand I'm so totally impressed at an FFVII timetravel fic being finished that I don't know what to say.

Congrats~!
sinnatious
May. 17th, 2010 10:38 am (UTC)
Thank you! Yes, best to go out with a nice long one. Thanks for sticking with it, and I'm glad you liked it. ^_^ And hey, better we end here than having the story outstay its welcome? ;)
reighost
May. 16th, 2010 04:21 pm (UTC)
OH MY GOD! I loved the ending it was brilliant! Go Yuffie! Cloud finally relaxing into his old life, Sephiroth being used as a tracking/homing device when it comes to cloud, Genesis keeping watch on cloud...

askhfoqwehtfqeahgluisywhbkehfalihfkash!

Just so you know you have a fan in me forever!
sinnatious
May. 17th, 2010 11:05 am (UTC)
<3 You've been commenting so diligently throughout, and I haven't always managed to reply, so I want to take this opportunity to say thanks for reading. And it's always a huge relief when people like the ending. You only get to do one of those per fic!
eve_tenshi
May. 16th, 2010 04:33 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty sure that no words I could think of could express how amazing your writing is, but I'll make an effort to try anyway. First of all, the fact that the story actually made its way to an ending is epic, when it comes to a time travel fic. Second of all, the fact that the entire story up until this point was very realistic and mindful of canon timelines and character relationships is something that I'm incredibly grateful for. And lastly, I just have to say Gen/Cloud is so cute! X3

I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't found this fic until today (I've been lurking for a while now...), and there was a gigantic paper due tomorrow that I hadn't finished yet, I'd definitely opt to pull an all-nighter trying to read this fic in one go, and just accept a bad grade on the paper :) It's just that interesting. But now I have no idea what to fill this void in my life with...
sinnatious
May. 17th, 2010 11:08 am (UTC)
Gen/Cloud IS cute! The pairing has begun to pop up more in the fandom, I hope it takes off.

I suppose there is no better time to delurk than on the last chapter. ;) Thanks for reading, and glad you liked it.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - May. 17th, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
ixtey
May. 16th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)
I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU SIN JKADHKLSD AND I TOTALLY TAKE BACK CALLING YOU THE QUEEN OF TRAGEDY FICS, I TOTALLY DO. well at least until the next tragedy fic comes rollin' round

I... I will never look at FFVII time-travelling fics the same way again. In fact, I will never look at all FFVII fic the same way again. If there is some kind of formula to making fics so awesome and epic and fan-fucking-tastic you have just fucking nailed it with this story of ultimate win. Really, I am serious about this. You have managed to appeal to practically everybody in the FFVII fandom. You've even managed to have yaoi fangirls rave about all the blatant gay subtext and not so slash-inclined people thank you for the lack of gayness in the same chapter. I have no idea how you have managed to do that. Just so much awesome.

I-I-I'm just so ridiculously glad that everything has turned out SO WELL. I could probably quote 182740923 lines here and add a paragraph or two of additional raving for every single quoted line, but the comment prolly won't fit, then. Just. OH GOSH SEEING CLOUD SUCCEED IN CHANGING STUFF AROUND AND FINALLY BEING HAPPY AND AT PEACE WITH THE WORLD. AND ALL THE SEXY GOOD GUYS ARE ACTUALLY ALIVE! THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN THE ENDING OF THE WHOLE FFVII COMPILATION IF SQUEENIX WEREN'T A COUPLE OF AWESOMELY SADISTIC BASTARDS BENT ON MANIPULATING FANGIRLS' WEAK HEARTS INTO BUYING ANOTHER GAME JUST FOR THE CHANCE OF A HAPPY ENDING (which we will obviously not get).

And oh dear god so much happiness for me and my slash goggles! I do believe my sister and I managed to pin-point several sentences and squee at all the awesome gayness in them. We were all "yep, this will be the basis for this pairing" while nodding our heads. I'm pretty sure Nanaki lives in Cosmo Canyon and not Cosmos Canyon, though.


Awesome writing. Epic writing. Marvelous writing. You are my hero.
(Anonymous)
May. 16th, 2010 06:03 pm (UTC)
haha, word. way to say it--i worship ur epic writing =D, every element in this story was woven together so expertly, and i love the Loveless framework for the story; the play worked well in complementing the story's themes and characters themselves.

bravo!
(no subject) - firedraygon97 - May. 16th, 2010 07:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sinnatious - May. 17th, 2010 11:18 am (UTC) - Expand
swyrel
May. 16th, 2010 05:04 pm (UTC)
OMG You totally beat me! I started rereading a couple of days ago, and I thought I would be finished before you posted again. I'm only on Chapter 24 though.

Comment will be left when I'm done! I'm not reading this chapter until I'm done w/ the rest. lol
swyrel
May. 18th, 2010 11:30 pm (UTC)
First reaction after reading this: NOOOO IT CAN'T BE OVER! Second reaction was lol'ing so hard at Yuffie. Go get her Cloud! And take Genesis along w/ you. <3 The tracking of Yuffie and keeping her safe over the next couple of years would make for an awesome spin off of this fic.

'Cloud suddenly wished he’d just jumped into the Reactor core. See them try and revive him then.'

Geeze...he's just being stubborn for the hell of it now, isn't he?

'Genesis looked absurdly pleased by the revelation for some reason. He probably didn’t want to know.'

I get the feeling that Genesis is so happy b/c he now knows it's Chibi!Cloud following him everywhere instead of Sephiroth and he's finally got that little part of his that was jealous of Sephiroth taken care of. And no, Cloud, you so don't want to know. It would just exasperate you.

I love the ending, but I kind of figured this would be the ending when Cloud talked about how he would've ended the Fifth Act of Loveless.

Sephiroth and Genesis tracking Cloud down. lol That's hilarious. And Sephiroth having him on suicide watch and then Genesis finding Cloud as soon as he gets back and demanding where he was. Man, Cloud is going to have a lot of watchdogs, isn't he? Speaking of that, where is the clone? Did Chibi keep him as a pet?

See, if Sephiroth does have Cloud on suicide watch, then Genesis so has to go w/ him to track down Yuffie. They would never let him go alone.

There are so many more things I want to talk about, but I can't think of them right now. They'll hit me when I read again. <3

Wonderful, wonderful story! One of the best I've ever read! And now that it's over, Sin, I must ask 'what next?' lol <3
(no subject) - sinnatious - May. 19th, 2010 12:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
swedishpimp
May. 16th, 2010 05:52 pm (UTC)
Last Chapter?
Last Chapter? D: Nuuuuu! I don't want it to end!!! *flail* This is almost as bad as when Zack died....... Oh god now I thought of that!
Also, I absolutely adore your portrayal of Areis/Aerith :3
But I don't want the story to end! D:
(Anonymous)
May. 16th, 2010 05:59 pm (UTC)
*happy siiiiigh* what a satisfying read. the open ending is fun and full of possibilities. love it. nice to see yuffie making an appearance again, albeit indirectly. cloud's adventures seem neverending, but that makes things entertaining for us!

thanks for this wonderful fic, truly. definitely rereading this sometime again.
yukitsukihana
May. 16th, 2010 06:20 pm (UTC)
EEEEE IT'S OVER!
HAPPY ENDING, YAAAY!

is true, Cloud. the smallest changes really do make the biggest differences :3

heehee, S-radar. that's totally what it is now, y'know.

and ahaha, was wondering what happened to Yuffie XD; oh dear. looks like saving her really is a full-time job.

and I wonder if Cloud ever got his Ribbon back...
probably. Genesis would take advantage of it far too many times if he didn't ^^;

He’d be content to stand and stare at the scene all that.
perhaps all day. instead of all that?

...I saw another typo, but totally can't find it again D:


again, IT'S OVER.
WHAT NOW? D:
sinnatious
May. 17th, 2010 11:21 am (UTC)
Ahahaha, I was fixing typos even after posting! But I didn't see that one, thank you, fixed now. There actually weren't as many as I expected. \o/ Thanks for reading!
darkicedragon
May. 16th, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC)
Eeeeee! This has left me in such a puddle of happy goo. :3

After all the work that Cloud's put into this, and thinking he'd failed continually, he finds out that he'd already changed the future. :3

And heh, Spike is following after his new hero.

*snickers at Cloud being peeved off at Sephiroth knowing how to keep track of him now*

And Yuffie! XD

This is such a wonderful fic. :)
phamalama
May. 16th, 2010 07:36 pm (UTC)
I can't believe I it's been only a year... and you finally finished a ffvii timetravel fic! Reading a chapter every week has become part of my routine... what will I do now?! Anyways, congrats on finally finishing it. How many words are in it anyways? Will you end up crossposting it to another site where we could download a the whole complete story?

I'm glad the fic ended with a happy ending. With the PHS message from Yuffie, you showed that the ffvii genre will live on after it is over. And by saving Genesis, you've acomplished the butterfly effect~ I hope that you'll write in other genres too like Supernatural or Lost. I love all the fics that you've written to date! Keep up the good work!
sinnatious
May. 17th, 2010 11:30 am (UTC)
I actually started posting back in November, but I would have only started writing the fic four or five months before that at the most, so it really has been less than a year! Crazy, considering it's probably my second-longest fic ever. Not sure exactly how many words it has all up. I've finally started cross-posting it to ffnet, so once it's all uploaded there that'll be one way to check. From memory the chapters averaged out to around 4000 words each, so it's probably in the ballpark of about 150,000 words.

Not much chance of ever writing in Supernatural or Lost, sorry, but I hope you enjoy any other FFVII fics I tackle in the future. Thanks for your comments!
firedraygon97
May. 16th, 2010 07:47 pm (UTC)
Hahahahahah, oh man, this is SO much better than what I kept thinking you'd do! I was expecting some kind of tragedy, but this happy ending is so nice!

Things that left me grinning:

1. Genesis being pleased after finding out that little!Cloud is really Cloud. XDD You DO have a chance, go for it, Genesis! Sephiroth's not the only hero around to win Cloud-points this time, haha.

2. Ribbon-less Cloud getting hit by a sleep spell. Again, always love it when game details come into a fic. Cloud should've checked his equips beforehand!! And someone should buy Genesis a Max Ether. XP

3. Vincent's CV can now include 'killed Hojo' as a character point. :O AVALANCHE would hire him on the spot, haha. Speaking of Vincent, that Cloud would feel like he'd be stabbed by Masamune and shot by Death Penalty (though I guess it wouldn't really be DP since Vincent shouldn't have it yet) is all kinds of awesome. Thanks for keeping Vincent's mad shooting skills on display!

4. Kunsel's 'death' as a 'computer glitch'. :D Poor guy, hopefully he can get back his pay during those few months he was away...

5. Cloud put on a suicide-watch list. Vincent's probably called in a Turk favour to have him on 24h surveillance. And whenever Cloud's off monitor, they page Sephiroth. XDDD

6. Cloud officially not understanding himself anymore. Haha, Cloud doesn't remember his fanboy days. They've been lost/suppressed after all that mako.

7. Aeris' comment about being there for Cloud. ;__;

8. Yuffie!!! Hahaha, thanks for bringing her back. Her 'spam' messages are great. Ending on a light note is fun. ^^

I'm sad to see this fic finished, but it was an awesome ride the whole way through. Congrats, haha. I'm looking forward to more FF fic from you~ ♥ Keep up the wonderful work!!

And fufufu, I have an interesting idea for a crack-comic...stay tooned? Right now I'm gonna go buy a bike.
demon_vampirate
May. 17th, 2010 02:19 am (UTC)
I love your comments, they make me happy~

Wait, 'bike' as in motorcycle bike? Ohhh man, if so, I am so jealous...

You're amazing, I'll miss seeing your stuff on all the chapters~
(no subject) - firedraygon97 - May. 17th, 2010 07:46 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - demon_vampirate - May. 17th, 2010 12:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ixtey - May. 17th, 2010 07:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firedraygon97 - May. 17th, 2010 07:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sinnatious - May. 17th, 2010 11:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firedraygon97 - May. 17th, 2010 07:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sinnatious - May. 17th, 2010 11:55 am (UTC) - Expand
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aori_tsuki
May. 16th, 2010 07:51 pm (UTC)
asjakdH I LOVE YOU. Seriously, this is my favorite FFVII fic out there -- scratch that, my favorite universe out there (and all time). Everything turned out nicely, and you portrayed Cloud so well with his realizations. Oh Cloud, you're such a dork when it comes to you friends. ♥ ♥

And the last bit? Ahahaha, only Yuffie can find a way to go to the Northern Crater and be alive by the time Cloud gets there.

Great work hon. I'm glad you finished this and though my Sundays will be lonely with this, it was a great run ♥ You deserve your well-earned break :Db
sinnatious
May. 17th, 2010 11:58 am (UTC)
Oh wow, that's very generous praise, thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much, and thank you for all of your comments!

Cloud is a dork, but we wouldn't have him any other way. ♥
kiriana
May. 16th, 2010 08:37 pm (UTC)
I've been following this fic for so long that it's hard to believe it's over.

Suuuuch a great story and you've really fleshed out the characters.

I love the way you wrapped everything up and I'm so happy that Cloud got friends out of it. XD
sinnatious
May. 17th, 2010 11:59 am (UTC)
♥ Thank you!
kysna
May. 16th, 2010 11:14 pm (UTC)
I just finished reading this and I miss this story already!

You've tortured all your fans with their own imaginations of Cloud and Sephiroth dying together (...Why did I just imagine a RomeoXJuliet scene? Curse you slash goggles D:<) and then you give us a happy ending?! I... I don't know whether I should be happy or angry!

-five seconds later- ... I can just imagine small Yuffie going, "YOU! You're finally here-- I mean, I'm going to steal the treasure before you! Mwahahaha!"

Thank you so much for this fanfic <3 You've really made my day today.
sinnatious
May. 17th, 2010 12:02 pm (UTC)
YES, THAT IS EXACTLY HOW YUFFIE WOULD REACT. XD It's Cloud's fault, really. The longer you leave Yuffie alone, the deeper into trouble she will get.

You're welcome, thanks for reading!
laleira_granite
May. 17th, 2010 12:19 am (UTC)
Augh. I don't even know what to say.

I can't believe it's over! ... Happy ending is yay. Everything awesome.

Struck dumb.

Will re-read sometime.

TTFN
sinnatious
May. 17th, 2010 12:03 pm (UTC)
Heh. ^_^ Thanks for all of your comments. ♥
demon_vampirate
May. 17th, 2010 02:11 am (UTC)
Haaaaa~ longest comment yet, I'm sorry.
Okay, I need to get this out of my system now: OMG LAST CHAPTER NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO~
*cry*

Okay. Now I'll read.

Genesis. *snerk* Snarky bastard.
WORD ASSOCIATION TIME! *brick'd*
YAY ANGEAL'S OKAY~! (god dammit my hearts aren't working I can't heart you to death)

He felt, rather appropriately, like he’d been run through by Sephiroth. And shot by Vincent. “How…?”
Zack fidgeted, looking away. “You wouldn’t stop. Genesis had to cast a Sleep spell on you at the last minute.”
“I didn’t expect it to have any effect, honestly,” the Commander grumbled. “It was reflex.”

heehee~
Silly Genesis. Without Ribbon, he's harmless completely not-immune to any status materia.
ohwait you just explained that sorry. ._.

Cloud tactfully didn’t point out that it very nearly could have been the end of the world.
Cloud? Tactful? THAT is the end of the world.

Poor Seph, he's all nervous. I don't blame him.
OHNOES EVERYBODY LOOKS LIKE CRAP! ;_;

He wished dearly for First Tsurugi, but a furtive look around the room revealed it sitting in the far corner, well out of reach, with Vincent carefully situated between them. Cloud hadn’t even seen Vincent arrive.
BOUNDLESS WISDOM.
And psh. Of course he didn't see him arrive. Vincent is a VAMPIRENINJA.

“I’d rather you didn’t continue it at all,” Genesis commented irritably. “I can only cast FullCure so many times in one day.”
Yes, Genesis, as you've already proven. Snarky bastard.

Oh poor Cloud-- STOP BEING SO DAMNED ANGSTY, NOBODY EXPLODED UPON HEARING WHAT HAPPENED.
*huggles imaginary Cloud plushie* (I'm still sore over not finding one at Anime Boston.)

askfhkasjhkhfjkjdkff *flail*
I heart Vincent's voice~

“Your PHS was a complete giveaway.”
Snarky. Bastard.

Genesis looked absurdly pleased by the revelation for some reason. He probably didn’t want to know.
Um...? I do!
Damn slash goggles, I need my contacts... *imagining Genesis plotting wonderful terrible things*
OHHHH WAIT A MINUTE. Little!Cloud was a Genesis fan, that's right. That's why he's smirking. Click.
Because now that he thinks Cloud's a fan, he can have his way with him and not worry about being accused of rape.
...I need to stop.

“It justifies nothing,” Sephiroth dismissed. “I deserve the benefit of the doubt. I have not even laid eyes upon Ms Strife, much less had the opportunity to murder her.”
Sweet Shiva, Sephiroth, stop defending your other self. He didn't deserve defense and you don't need it.
Also, terrible choice of words-- the opportunity to murder her. Urgh. So much for being such a great orator.

XD I love Zack's attempt at logic. That always backfires.

“The building was old. It burned well.” Sephiroth looked rather satisfied at the memory.
Haha, I can just picture that-- smug smirk and all.

“And was that a problem? I thought it rather poetic.”
“You would,” Genesis scoffed, then turned to Cloud. "This man has no understanding of Literature. Do you know what he told me? That he intended to slay the Goddess. And then he proceeds to accuse me of having a hero complex and ego problems."
“Are you denying it?” Sephiroth sounded amused.

Snarky bastard. (I love that Sephiroth feeds it right back to him, though... oh shit I am just like him!)

And for some reason, instead of focusing on that, they were discussing Loveless?
Well, duh, Cloud, nobody else understands the significance. And apparently YOU don't understand the play's significance.

Haha Sephiroth is telepathic. Poor Cloud. I would be burning were I in his place.

“I don’t believe it,” Genesis eventually murmured. “Angeal was right. You are suicidal.”
SNARKY BASTARD SHUT UP I LOVE YOU.
Also, that aside, I KNEW IT!! ahem.

Sephiroth appeared to sense his line of thinking. He crossed his arms and fixed him with a steely green glare. “I’ll make you a deal, Cloud. You promise to kill me should I go insane, and I’ll do the same for you.”
I love Sephiroth.
demon_vampirate
May. 17th, 2010 02:12 am (UTC)
Here's the rest of that 8129 characters... -_-;;
I also love that suddenly, nobody seems to have a problem with the concept of killing their best friends, though they certainly seemed to when the decision was imminent. Probably to make Cloud feel better.
sheesh, "when the decision was imminent"? Did I really just write that?

The Commander smirked, and tucked a stray strand of hair behind his ear. “So the great General Sephiroth does care.”
SNARKY BASTARD, SHUT UP. I STILL LOVE YOU.

Of course that was the difference, Cloud, positive things make just as much of a ripple, if not more, than all that negative shit ever does.

I NEED TO HUG CLOUD NOW. THANK YOU SO MUCH. GRRR.
Seriously, I just felt that tightness in my chest when he crumpled. You've made me cry befopre, dammit, I'm not letting you do it again!
*sniffle* dammit.

POKER FACE, GENESIS.

...and repeated demands for promises that he wouldn’t kill either himself or Sephiroth without permission.
That is so odd-- "without permission." It's just weird.

“Would you prefer I locked myself in a coffin for thirty years?”
Snarky rubs off on people, it would seem.

Vincent shadowed him, somehow making the unnaturally sedate pace seem perfectly normal.
Because Vincent is epic, and infinitely graceful. (And boundlessly wise.)

Aaaaangeeeeeeaaaalll... *sniffle*
I hate you for making me cry. I swore I wouldn't.

Psh, Zack is a misbehaving puppy. A very lovable, misbehaving puppy.

ASKLJDFJKSHDFHKJHKJHKKFFFFFFF AERIS IS A GODDESS. THE GODDESS. THAT IS IT.
ow... I just broke open my sunburn flailing...

Psh, Angeal's a big teddy bear. (heart)

Tseng is amazing. (heart)

Tch, of course. ShinRa is expert at cover-ups.

But the others had argued persuasively that it would be easier to change ShinRa from the inside instead of running amok blowing up Reactors.
...even though that way would probably be infinitely more fun.

I need to hug my best friend now. She's our Aeris. (And apparently I'm alternately Sephiroth... and Cloud... and sometimes Zack. *shrug*)

I TELL YOU, AERIS IS THE GODDESS.

“But how did you- I’m not a Cetra.”
That sounded completely wrong in my mind the first time I read it-- not like he interrupted a question with a reason, but with an accusatory statement. It was funny though ~_~;;

The sentiment left him off-balance. Odin, did everybody know what he’d done?
Yes. Because Angeal was (rightly) paranoid and the Turks probably knew from that, and so on.

That wasn’t much of a relief, considering. “I thought you couldn’t read minds,” he accused.
“Of course I can’t. But I can tell what you’re thinking anyway. It’s written all over your face.”
And his friends always complained he wasn’t expressive.

Heehee~ I giggled at this. Particularly considering I had this conversation, almost exactly, with our Aeris yesterday.
(See, we were acting out the last scene of Hamlet for a project, and I was Hamlet. And our Laertes told me that I should be that expressive in everyday life. And then 'Aeris' and her girlfriend [my other best friend] laughed at her.)

“I think I’m in trouble if I need a pair of teenagers looking out for me,” was all he said.
Ha, I've been there too, Cloud-- except they were younger. And I lost them both.

OMG!! The Silver Trio can now be the Silver and Gold-- er-- Quartet!! Yay~~

“Where have you been?” he demanded.
Snarky paranoid bastard.

I like his grey streaks. They're kinda cute.

Psh, Genesis, Yuffie manages.

Ha~ their plan backfired!! IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT, GENESIS!!

I love the ending. I really do. I just-- hate that it's the end.
Expect me to be fanfic-ing this verse. I'm a huge fan. (You know this.)
And also expect half of them to be slash based. If I ever get around to typing them, they'll be posted with you (or something mentioning "Fifth Act") in the tags.

Other thing I hate: WE NEVER FOUND OUT HOW SEPHIROTH WOULD END IT!!!!! AAAUUUUGH!!
Re: failure -_-;; - demon_vampirate - May. 17th, 2010 11:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
May. 17th, 2010 04:02 am (UTC)
I could have sworn...
I really could have sworn that I left a message here earlier...weird.

Ah well, I was in a bit of a hurry then anyway.

Hmm, with that ending I can't tell if there's going to be a sequel or not. I'm guessing not, but I'd be basically alright either way. Although, I would also very much like to see what happened to the people in the old timeline as well.

Question: The Stigma--wasn't it caused by Sephiroth's cells entering the lifestream? I know they have a cure for it now, but wouldn't the stigma return when Cloud and/or Sephiroth died.

WILL they die? I mean of old age and all. I doubt Vincent can (I guess he's already dead, but I digress).

Also, what about the rest of his friends from the old timestream? I mean, yeah he can try and save Barret's arm and Marlene's parents, and try to keep Yuffie alive (how the heck did she survive the first time?!)

Most importantly, what about Tifa and little Cloud? I mean, will Tifa ever meet Barret? I doubt it. And Cid? Obviously his space exploration will receive a lot more funding, but what about the relationships between the old party members? Would Cloud seek them out or not? I mean, I could see him doing either (if only to make sure they survived).

I guess I'd just really like to see exactly where all of this really lead.

Would Sephiroth finally get that stick out of his butt and get a girlfriend...or will he just be forever cursed? I could see him and Cloud swearing off girls just so that their "curse" wouldn't be passed on.

I was kind of hoping to see a little of what their relationship would be like in the future too. I mean, would they just settle down into the roles of rivals? Or would they actually become friends? Would they banter back and fourth, or just talk with their swords? Or a little of both?

Would anyone ever find out about Clouds relation to Shin-ra (which btw is STILL brilliant!)? Would little Cloud grow up to be a good soldier?

Would they be able to change Shin-ra? I mean, with the corruption going on, it wouldn't be easy.

Oh, and by the way, you said something about Vincent returning...to be a Turk again?! Woah, didn't see that one happening...

Okay, I've rambled enough. ^^; Fabulous story.

(Anonymous)
May. 17th, 2010 04:02 am (UTC)
Re: I could have sworn...
*sigh* I forgot to sign it again, didn't I? *is too used to Deviantart*

Sorry, this is Obi-
Re: I could have sworn... - sinnatious - May. 17th, 2010 12:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
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