Disclaimer: I don't own it, and no profit is being made.

A/N: I've finally done it. I've started a Final Fantasy VII Time Travel fic. It will be slash (yaoi). I'm still working out the pairing. Quite a bit of this is written, it just needs filled out and fleshed and cleaned up. Nearly all the major plot points are done, actually. It's the in-between bits that are not yet done. So let's see. Time travel. Seph/Cloud friendship to start. (Might be more, might stay this way.) Cloud in Nibelheim. I'm a trope whore. Sorry. ^.^

Time to Change

Chapter One: The Unfamiliar Past

The Cetra had spoken. He was to go back, try to prevent the Calamity from claiming the General of SOLDIER. Cloud Strife, classification: Hero, was being sent back. In time. For the sole purpose of saving Sephiroth, classification: Villain. He didn't know what to think.

Cloud had gone to relax in the peace of Aerith's church, laying on his side near the pool that once was a flower garden. He was drifting in his mind when suddenly he was in a white place, yellow and white flowers at his feet and a warmth at his back. Her voice reached his ears, sweet and serene.

"We have a proposition for you, Cloud." She paused, as if waiting for acknowledgment from the blond, but all she got was an expectant silence. "We can send you back in time. Well, your consciousness, at least. You'd go back to your teenage body. No enhancements or mako... no, that's not entirely true. Mako exposure is something you will enter ShinRa with. It has been decided that for you to be slightly enhanced would be preferable. You fell in a mako spring as a young boy. You will enter ShinRa with the purpose of getting into SOLDIER. You will work to get closer to Sephiroth. How you prevent Meteorfall and Jenova and Nibelheim burning and the Silver Demon going crazy is up to you, but to have any chance, you'll have to be SOLDIER. You will have help, but I don't know who or how many will be going back with you."

"When?" Cloud asked. He had accepted that anything the Planet and the Cetra determined was going to happen, whether he wished it or not, so why fight it. He was glad to know he wouldn't be alone, though.

"Now. Be careful, Cloud. Come see me when you get to Midgar, okay?"

Finally, he smiled. It was small, but it was real. "I will."

When he opened his eyes again, he was in Nibelheim.

"Damn," Cloud muttered to himself. He hadn't thought to ask when he'd be arriving. Apparently, it was just after he fell in the mako spring. He was five. What in Gaia's name did the Cetra think they were doing? He knew he had no choice but to deal with it. So he made plans to visit the mansion and rescue Vincent.

Obviously, he was an unobservant child.

He heard voices coming from the upper floor of the ShinRa Mansion as soon as he was through the front door. Footsteps were coming towards him, too. So he slipped into the first room he could find. The last time he was there, it had Dorky Faces and dust inhabiting it. This time, there was furniture and obvious use and Oh Shiva! He was so dead. So he hid. He found a corner and thanked the Planet he was as small as he was. A love seat was situated in a corner near a bookshelf, an armchair across from it. He dove behind it as he heard the footsteps making their way down the stairs, and sighed in relief. Scooting himself deeper into the shadowed corner, he froze when he encountered not a wall, but a body. A warm, breathing body. Attached to the hand that was now covering his mouth. Wary blue eyes, shining with the glow of mako, looked over his shoulder and collided with green. The pupils were oblong, but still rounded. There was no taint of Jenova-induced insanity in them. Silver eyebrows arched over them, but there was no cruel smirk twisting the lips below. Silver hair drifted over shoulders, down the chest. Silver bangs just brushing sharp cheekbones. Cloud was not ready for this younger version of his idol-turned-enemy. He couldn't make a sound, though, for fear of being found and turned over to Hojo. His fear of that madman made his breathing labored even as he flinched away from the teen behind him. The teen who was gesturing him to calm down and be silent. He stilled as footsteps and voices entered the room, obviously searching for something.

Sephiroth pulled the small child to him as the scientists came in. He hadn't used this hiding spot since he was roughly the age of the child in his arms, so was fairly certain he was safe from discovery. He wondered what such a young boy was doing in this den of monsters and how he was going to get him out. There were windows, of course, that he could sneak the child out of, but that required this floor of the building to be clear. Otherwise, the windows were too loud to open unnoticed. He studied the little person he held, from the blond spikes all the way to the too big pants and scuffed boots. But what struck him were the child's eyes. Blue as the sky in the summer over the mountains, glowing with the hint of mako; but this wasn't one of his father's experiments. No, this child came from outside, and Sephiroth wanted answers. So he waited until the scientists left. It wasn't like the didn't know he'd return eventually. He just escaped to get some time alone, and the Professor allowed it as an experiment. When all was quiet, he turned the child to face him.

"Who are you?"

Blue eyes blinked up at him, face as expressionless as his own. "Cloud. You?"

"Sephiroth. What are you doing here?"

"I didn't think..." the boy trailed off, eyes unfocussed for a brief moment. "I thought it was empty. I was here to find something."

The silver haired teen thought pause between some and thing was odd, but the child didn't let him ask.

"How old are you?" the young voice asked.


"Oh. I'm five. Do you live here?"

"Yes. Where do you live?"

"In the village. Nibelheim. It's just down the road from here."

"How did you get mako?"

"Fell in a spring."

The two lapsed into silence, blue eyes studying him as green eyes warily returned the perusal. He didn't know how to read this child. His father was easy after fifteen years, as were the assistants. The only other person he knew that he couldn't read was the Turk assigned to guard his father. Cloud reminded him an awful lot of that man, actually.

Gaia damn Hojo! Cloud thought to himself. Why were they not in Midgar already? Was Sephiroth really raised here this long, or was this another change the Cetra made to give him an opportunity to meet the man he was to save? He couldn't give away knowing too much, like the teen's name for instance, but Sephiroth's stunted social upbringing would come in Cloud's favor this time. As he studied the older boy briefly, he considered what he could and could not give away now. Perhaps, if he were friends with Sephiroth before joining SOLDIER, before the man became The Famous General Sephiroth, he could maneuver better later.


"Hmm?" the teen replied.

Cloud considered this before asking, vaguely remembering how he had no friends as a child, and how lonely it was; how damaging it could be to a young psyche. "Will you be my friend?" he asked, looking up and into those eyes that haunted him in his past. He watched with faint amusement as they blinked, years of reading Vincent allowing him to see the astonishment in the young man before him.

"I... yes. I would like that."

Cloud smiled slightly up at the taller boy, settling against the wall to Sephiroth's right. "Can you come out and visit me sometimes? Or do you have to stay hidden in here?"

Sephiroth took his time replying, and Cloud could only imagine what was going on in that head of his. "I can try, but I've never made it to the village before. Only up towards the reactor and into the mountains."

"Oh." Cloud didn't know what else to say to that. Knowing Hojo, the boy was watched at all times anyway.

"Let's get you out of here before they come back and find you, alright Cloud?" Sephiroth asked, quietly gesturing to the windows. Cloud nodded and followed the teen, a surprised squawk issuing from him when the teen picked him up and jumped out the window with him. Cloud was even more surprised when the older boy walked him back to the village and watched from the outskirts until Cloud entered his home, waving to Sephiroth as he closed the door behind him.

Over the course of the next four and a half months, Sephiroth came out at least once a week, and Cloud snuck in just as often. When Cloud was inside, they would lowly converse about their lives and, when Sephiroth learned that Cloud wanted to learn how to fight, he began teaching his friend about materia and swords. When Sephiroth snuck out, he showed him the exercises and kata he had been talking about. A steady friendship developed between the two, something both were in desperate need of.

When he was alone, Cloud thought over this new development. As a child the first time, he didn't know Sephiroth was even in the town. The mansion was, after all, ShinRa property and scary to boot. Sephiroth told him, the second time he snuck out, that the Turk bodyguard caught him and only allowed it because he was of the opinion that Sephiroth needed to learn social skills. Cloud inwardly snorted at that. He was about as social as the future general. But it worked for them. They confided to each other, although Cloud never told him of their shared past. He wasn't crazy, and didn't want to appear to be. It shocked him that he was saddened when, nearly five months after their friendship began, Sephiroth told him that his father was moving them to Midgar. Cloud had heard all about Hojo, although the details of the experiments were withheld. He didn't know how to tell the older boy not to believe the man, so he just occasionally offered platitudes along the lines of 'Don't believe everything you're told'.

But when Sephiroth told him they were leaving the mansion by the end of the week, so that would be their last training session, Cloud was very nearly heartbroken. His new childhood was made so much better because this one man –this person who had the capability of destroying the world– was his friend. He couldn't fathom it, but those were the facts. The only thing that helped was that he knew, once the mansion was empty, he could rescue Vincent. That, and he could tell that the future general was just as upset by the news.

End Note: I know. Cheesy. Let me know your thoughts on it. Thanks!

15 Dec 2011

Chapter Word Count: 1929