Disclaimer: I do not own the characters, items, places, etc. mentioned below
Both Genesis and Zack chose to sit in their arm chairs. Though they could have done busy work, all that they seemed to have the energy for was waiting for either their lovers' arrivals or the awakening of their youngest. Little had they known this morning that fate would make fools of them, offering them the real completeness they had been lacking. Now they knew the reason for the day's title of April fools.
Nightmares haunted the sleeping boy. He tossed and turned, too restless to stay asleep for much longer. When his eyes opened, he faced unfamiliar settings of a dark living room that was empty of all other life. Where was he? What happened? Slowly, the memories of the sable-haired youth trickled back to him. Alertness cleared out any leftover exhaustion, and Cloud found himself searching the room for an exit. Who knew when another opportunity for escape would come around? If he was lucky he might even make it back to Junon, and if he was only gone for a few months, maybe he would be able to run into Vincent. Fueled by this new found hope, Cloud got up from the sofa he had been resting on, moving toward the door. Cloud did not notice as the blanket that had been draped over him became tangled. As a result, his foot caught, nearly sending him headfirst into an armchair.
The commotion seemed to cause a reaction deeper in the apartment. There was rustling and a thump, but before whatever was in that back room could escape, Cloud made it to the front door and flung it open as fast as he could. Escape was the only thought occupying his mind, so when he ran straight into a wall of muscles, Cloud tried to jump back. He might have succeeded had it not been for the arms wrapped around his body. Just when Cloud was about to peer up at the giant who gripped him, a large bang of the bedroom door hitting a wall caused him to divert his attention. With only the ability to turn his head so far Cloud could only catch a glimpse of three bodies rushing towards him and the stranger.
He was lifted and placed in front of the sofa, surrounded by four men only one of which he recognized as Zack. Besides the youth Zack, there was an auburn-haired man with sky-blue eyes who was thin, sickly pale, and appeared to be in his early twenties; another slightly older sable-haired man with bluish grey eyes who was burly, and sickly pale; and, a similarly aged man with long flowing locks of silver hair and deep piercing eyes of pale green. As each man made eye contact with the blonde boy, they found their breathing halted and a bond forming. The sense of a complete bond sent a feeling of extreme contentment through the connection to all soul mates. Cloud who had no idea what was going on felt the sudden emotional override and met it with confusion and slight fear. The bonds' completeness had caused the auburn-haired and older sable-haired men to collapse and start rapidly healing from degradation, giving the blond an open escape path as the other two men directed their attention to the collapsed.
Cloud, not understanding any of the happenings that were taking place, ran as fast as he could. The door was out of the way so Cloud took his next best option and charged at a window to the side of the sofa. It was only while falling that Cloud rethought his action plan; who jumps from what looked like a penthouse suite? Too late, he met with the ground rolling to direct the pressure of landing from shattering his legs. Taking a quick count of his body to make sure it was okay to move, Cloud sprinted to a gate and climbed his way out. Talk about a shocking experience, it was not fun being virtually naked and receiving the shock treatment while trying to run for your life.
To escape the tortuous pain his body was experiencing from his dangerous escapade, Cloud left his body on autopilot and found solace in his mind where he could hear the voice of his mother telling him of other times and of how he could have the planet. Mother was so kind; she kept him safe; she guided him; she promised him a future; she was all he had. At this moment, mother was talking about his older brothers and how she would soon meet for a reunion. Not knowing what to think, Cloud took the cue from the tone of Mother's voice and smiled.
Meanwhile, outside of Cloud's head, Cloud's body found itself in a darker place, overcrowded people giving the boy's condition no attention. Trudging forward, Cloud became aware after colliding with a girl. The girl was slightly taller than him and had her burnet hair in a giant braid reaching to her waist. She seemed overly focused on picking up a few flowers that had fallen from her basket, and Cloud felt very bad for running into someone so he reached down to help. When he reached out the last flower to give to her, the girls aquamarine eyes traveled up the boy's body before looking into the boy's eyes. The slightly serious expression on her face was replace by a small smile and a bright giggle that seemed to calm Cloud down. Confused at the girl's reaction to him, Cloud looked down at himself and finally noticed his naked disposition. A crimson flush found its place on the blonde's face, and he began to stutter and scramble to cover himself with his hands. He forgot that he still had the flower in his hand and the girl began laughing even louder at the adorable scene before her. Realizing this, Cloud tried to give the flower back to the girl.
"Hahahahahahahahaha…. You can…keep that …flower!"
It took a bit before she could collect herself, but once she did, she grabbed Cloud by the arm not occupied with the flower basket, and guided him back to a shady looking building.
"My name's Aerith. I was on my way to deliver these flowers to my regular customer's at Seventh Heaven when we bumped into each other. I think they would enjoy meeting you and hearing about what just happened, maybe we could even get you some clothes…That is if you aren't trying to be an exhibitionist?"
Cloud shook his head in denial as the blush deepened. Soon, he found himself guided inside the bar and was seated in a chair close to a corner where he could hide from prying eyes while he waited for the girl to come back from talking with the barmaid who had begun moving to the back of the establishment, toward a door. Aerith kept the attention of the older woman until the barmaid took the flowers and laughed as she turned to glance at Cloud. The light seemed to seep from her eyes as recognition took its place. Signaling for Cloud to hurry over to the back with her and Aerith, the barmaid rushed into the dimmer back and let the door close shut. Cloud took his time walking over to Aerith, careful to keep himself covered as best he could.
"…What's going on?"
"I don't know. Tifa was going to just bring out a spare outfit when she saw you….. I think she might want you to meet someone else who lives here."
The two entered the back of Seventh Heaven and were met with several shocked faces. The most notable for Cloud was Vincent. Quick to recover from shock, Vincent took initiative. With a sigh, he addressed the group.
"…Tifa, get Cloud clothes. Then we all need to have a long talk…."
Well, till next time! I am so happy to have completed this chapter earlier than last time. If I have time this week, I might even update more than once this week! Since we have had a brief meeting with everyone this update, I promise that next time there will be more interaction, and Cloud will be found. The question is by who?