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Life in the Lifestream

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"Cloud? Cloud?" came a worried voice. It sounded very familiar.

"Mother?" Cloud asked drowsily. Laughter sounded in the distance.

"I can understand you calling Aerith mother, but me? Seriously?" the voice asked with a chuckle. "I must find out what your mother's voice sounds like if you can possibly mistake me for her… old friend."

"Zack?" Cloud asked, furrowing his brow in confusion.

Another chuckle. "Now that's more like it."

Cloud slowly opened his eyes and found Zack leaning over him, starting down at him with a warm smile. "What happened?"

"How would we know? You tell us."

Cloud furrowed his brow as he sat up, holding his aching head, trying to remember. "I… I died."

"Well obviously," came a deep, sarcastic voice from behind him. Sephiroth?

Cloud jumped to his feet and grabbed for his sword, which he found to be missing.

"Take it easy," Zack chuckled, "there's no need for that here."

"Huh?" Cloud asked, thoroughly confused. Last time he checked, Sephiroth was still the enemy.

"Here, in the Lifestream, there is really no choosing," Aerith explained. "We all have to live with each other so we all must learn to get along."

"But…"

"You just have to let it go," said Zack, placing a supportive hand on Cloud's shoulder. "Revenge is impossible to get here, we're already dead."

"Brother!" came another familiar voice. Two arms suddenly wrapped tightly around him from behind and a head came to rest on his shoulder. "We're together at last!"

A dopey laugh sounded and another set of arms were thrown around him from the right. "Finally! We can play together now!"

"Kadaj? Loz?" Cloud asked as he looked at their silver hair. Yet another set of arms wrapped around him, silently this time. "Yazoo?"

"Everyone's here Cloud," Zack said, smiling as though this was something wonderful. What was wrong with him?

Cloud looked around and saw Genesis, Angeal and Sephiroth all sitting around a table playing cards; they seemed to be getting along exceeding well.

"My friend, the fates are cruel. There are no dreams, no honor remains," Genesis quoted as he laid his cards down. Sephiroth growled and picked up Loveless from where it sat beside Genesis's cards, hitting the red-head over the head with it. Angeal laughed heartily.

"We don't always get along," Angeal said as he stood and walked over to shake Cloud's hand. "Some things will never change. But at least it's not over mistakes of the past." As he approached, he pulled the three Remnants, who were still clinging to Cloud off. They all frowned at him and pouted.

Cloud watched in shock over Angeal's shoulder as Genesis unsteadily stood, holding his head, and in on swift move tackled Sephroith.

Genesis snatched the book out of Sephiroth's hands and began beating him over the head with it. "You always did say that I beat Loveless into you head!"

Genesis clones began to come out of seemingly nowhere to aide in the attack. Sephiroth looked to Kadaj, Loz and Yazoo, "what are you just standing there for, take care of these clones!"

"But brother is here," Kadaj whined, hugging Cloud again. Cloud stood frozen, having a difficult time taking in the current events.

"You're useless," Sephiroth told him. Kadaj growled at the insult and sprinted over to prove his worth, closely followed by Loz and Yazoo.

"It doesn't matter," Genesis said as he struggled with Sephiroth over the book, "I've got more clones than you!"

"Hey, we're not clones!" Loz yelled at him. "We're Remnants!"

"And mine are smarter!" Genesis said through gritted teeth as he yanked the book from Sephiroth's grasp.

"This is… bizarre," Cloud commented. Zack and Angeal laughed.

"This is everyday life for us," said Zack, throwing an arm around his young friend's shoulder.

Cloud shook his head. "How do you…"

"You just get used to it," Zack and Angeal said in unison.

"So, Cloud, how have you been?" Zack asked.

Cloud pulled his attention away from the fight to look at Zack. "Fine."

Zack chuckled, "wanna elaborate on that?"

"I…" he began. Kadaj tugged on Cloud's sleeve. He looked from Kadaj to where the fight had been taking place; it seemed to have been resolved, though Genesis and Sephiroth were still giving each other death glares as they dusted themselves off.

"Do you wanna play 'Moogle, Moogle, Chocobo!' with us??" Kadaj asked earnestly, a childish sparkle in his eye.

Before Cloud had a chance to answer him, and honestly, he wasn't even sure how to respond to that, a Genesis clone ran up to him and handed him a piece of paper. As he unfolded the neatly folded piece of paper, he thought he heard the Genesis clone giggle. The piece of paper read, "Do you like Zack? Check yes or no."

 

Cloud sucked in a deep breath, suddenly back where he had died. Vincent, Barret, Yuffie, Red XIII, and Cait Sith were all standing around him, staring down at him with worried expressions. Tifa was by his side, kneeling over him.

"Cloud? Are you ok?" Tifa asked, worried, noting his frightened expression.

"Tifa, I can never die," he said seriously, grabbing her by the arms.

"Wha- why?" Tifa asked, confused. She had never seen Cloud so freaked out before.

"It's just too weird in the Lifestream!"