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Until and Beyond

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Disclaimer: I don’t own anything. Short, sweet and to the point.

It’s been far too long since I’ve last written anything. This is my second attempt to jump start my writing mojo. Hope this one goes over better, for both of us.

Until and Beyond

Chapter One:

Time passed differently in the Life Stream. What were days and years to the living were more immeasurable and tended to fade on by for those whose lives had long since passed; like a hazy afterglow, the world below them felt the hands of time while they remained untouched and unburdened by what had been left behind.

Most found peace with their merge into the depths of Gaia’s Life Stream. Most found contentment and drifted along with all that had come before them to help Gaia grow and learn from their countless lives.

Very few held on to what was and shunned any attempts to bring them into the tranquility that was offered to the dead. And of these few, one man could always be found watching, scrutinizing away at the living world—no, always looking oh-so-carefully at one person in particular.

At first, Aerith had assumed that perhaps it was only the anger of his death at the hands of that person that drove him to take up such a dedicated study; that being killed by a remnant and a failed one at that had clawed its way under his skin and irritated and irked him beyond compare. The ex-flower girl had taken it upon herself to observe the fallen General to be sure that no harm befell her friends. It was in these observations of hers that Aerith came to discover the truth. She’d shared her concerns and growing awareness with Zack who had encouraged her to do what she thought was best.

Aerith crept closer to the manifested area that she’d some time ago dubbed “Sephiroth’s Spot for Cloudy Gazing,” nervously fidgeting with her dress between her fingers. Zack had helped with the title, of course. It was an area that the defeated silverette had bent to his will, creating for himself a haven that looked so very like her run down church that she knew he’d made it in the image of hers. She had no delusions of course; Aerith had no doubt that from the stained glass windows to the small pond where her flowers had once grown were there only in a desperate longing to be closer to another that wasn’t her or anyone here.

And there, by the edge of the water, was the silver haired man’s form, bent over ever so slightly; looking down with that same concentrated look he always wore when watching Cloud. To Aerith, it almost seemed as if the world had shrunk for the man to contain only her blonde friend. He was always so focused on the task, absorbed in it.

Sephiroth didn’t turn towards the approaching brunette, didn’t acknowledge her at all. He just continued his watching, muttering under his breath as he was want to do in this little niche he’d made for himself within the Life Stream’s ever-changing tides. Coming upon him, Aerith could make out the words that slipped past his lips.

“You will always be mine, Cloud, beyond my dying breath, possessing my soul; you are mine and mine alone.”

Before, she knew that those words would have rattled her with thoughts of the ex-General going crazed and slaughtering any who stood in his way of his goal. Now, now was different. She saw what she hadn’t before; what she doubted anyone had really seen before. Aerith knew for a fact that Zack had been unaware until she’d pointed it all out to him plain as day.

Standing beside the broken war hero, the Cetra couldn’t help but feel guilty for never having noticed it before. With all the running around trying to stop him from destroying the world, you’d have thought that at least one of their group would have noticed something. Or Zack, Angeal or Genesis. For all that they were his “friends” in life; they too had missed this longing.

“Sephiroth?” she began hesitantly. She didn’t want to startle him violently out of his reverie. For a moment, she thought she’d have to call again, but his sharp acid hued eyes slowly fixed on her. Aerith gave a cautious smile; it wasn’t always apparent on how Sephiroth would take to interruptions. When he seemed fine, she continued.

“How is Cloud today?”

Sephiroth’s eyes stayed on hers though he tilted his head slightly in thought.

“Still sad, then?” Aerith said sweetly. Those cat-slit eyes narrowed at her for a brief moment and the Cetra girl had to take a deep breath to steel herself for what she was about to do and the repercussions that they’d all have to face because of it.

“Do you want to help him, Sephiroth?”

At the question, Aerith saw a flash of confusion, hope and something else flicker in the depth of those frozen eyes. She decided then and there that she was going to do this, consequences be damned.

“We can help him, you and I. If you want to,” she said as she calmly stepped closer to Sephiroth’s side. “So, do you want to?” Aerith rested her hand on his shoulder, feeling the tense muscles beneath.

“Yes,” whispered Sephiroth so softly that Aerith almost missed it.

“Then go to sleep, Sephiroth, and when you wake up, help him.” And help yourself. She left the last part unsaid. For happiness and less suffering for her friends, she would do this. Aerith watched as the silver haired man mimicked Cloud and lay down on one of the wooden pews, sleep quickly taking hold.

_________________________

Sephiroth had only meant to close his eyes for a minute; he grew restless if he couldn’t watch Cloud. It was when he opened them that he knew something was definitely off. Firstly, the pew that he had conjured up wasn’t nearly this comfortable and certainly didn’t have blankets of all things. Secondly, and more importantly, wherever he was didn’t have the same insubstantial feel that the Life Stream gave off. It was more solid, more real.

That’s when his eyes snapped open and he found himself staring at a white ceiling. Not just any white ceiling—the white ceiling from his Shinra apartment.

Just then, there was a loud bang from another room and footsteps towards the closed door.

“Seph? What the hell are you still doing in bed?” Zack’s bubbly head popped through the now cracked door.

“Open the door the rest of the way, Pup,” Angeal asked not unkindly.

And into this room that he hadn’t been in before he’d shut his eyes strode Angeal, Genesis and Zack without a care in the world.

What exactly had that Cetra girl done?