Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy VII. I make no money off this. Hell, I don't even own the beginning of this.

A/N: This is all due to x-YaoiWolf-x. You see, she began this project, a series of mini-drabbles based on shuffled playlists. I don't explain well. Read her story. It's called 'It's an FFVII Advent Shuffle 2011!'. This is the very last song of chapter seventeen. I will post that here, then continue on from there. Posted with her permission. ^.^

Take Me Back - Story of the Year - 4:07

"Are you sure, Cloud?" She asked him for the third time since he'd come here. "Do you really want to do this?" Cloud sighed and resisted the urge to turn and try to speak to her face to face instead of back to back the way they were now.

"Of course I am, Aerith," He answered. "I think this will work." He heard her echo his earlier sigh but he could tell she was going to allow it. He felt her shrug against his back and he nodded assurance to what was about to happen. "Take me back, Aerith."

"Alright, Cloud," She told him. "Just remember, you're not the only one being sent back with all your memories."

He nodded. He already knew this. Sephiroth would go back, too. Hopefully, he wasn't about to do something incredibly stupid. "Thank you, Aerith." He breathed and there was suddenly nothing but darkness.

Sephiroth, Genesis, Angeal and Zack were all out in the Midgar Wastes. The Firsts needed to let off steam, and Angeal had brought Zack along for training. Sephiroth didn't care, so long as the others stayed out of his way. He was working through memories of being used, being a puppet to an alien and a mad scientist. He was having a hard time dealing, however. And the others noticed, watching him plow through any monster he saw.

"What do you think's got into him?" Zack asked the older Firsts.

"Dreams of the morrow hath the shattered soul," was Genesis' reply. A reply that caused the silver-haired man to stop and stare at him momentarily. Then silver hair went flying as the head snapped around.

He felt something. Sephiroth knew that feeling, he could sense those eyes on him. He sharply turned his head, eyes seeking out the cliffs overlooking the Wastes. He thought he saw an outline of the Buster Sword there, but it faded and his view was of nothing more than the cliffs, jagged against the sky. But as he turned back to his friends, he caught a glimmer of movement, a shimmer of gold and silver. He automatically stepped into an attack stance, Masamune over his right shoulder. His companions stepped back, twisting to see what caught the man's attention, but they could see nothing. Nevertheless, the general sprinted forward, blade high and ready to strike.

From the shadows of the cliffs, on the same level as the Firsts and Second, a black and blond blur shot towards them. A black and silver blur met it halfway, sparks flying as steel met steel. A flurry of blows on the ground and in the air landed the two, blades locked together, mere feet from the Red Commander. He was shocked (although he'd never show it) when his friend looked at the stranger, a genuine smile curving his lips.

"Good to see you, Cloud."

"Wish I could say the same, Sephiroth," the blond replied, his soft voice not as amused as the Silver General's. The redhead wondered what the connection was between these two, for there was definitely a connection of some sort. But, as far as he knew, Sephiroth deigned to speak to only three people outside of ShinRa activity requirements, and all three were already with him when this blond stranger appeared.

"Doesn't it satisfy you to have someone at your level again? To put effort into your fight and feel alive?" the taller man was saying, his head tilted just slightly, seven foot long sword still locked against a mechanical looking Buster shaped sword.

The stranger –Cloud, was it?– stared into green eyes, face serious as death. "Are you crazy?" he inquired, causing Zackary to laugh, only to abruptly cease as he saw that nobody else was at all amused.

"I am not," Genesis' long time friend replied, a softening of his features accompanying his words.

"Good. But remember, I'm keeping an eye on you, and I will kill you if I have to."

Genesis, Angeal and Zack all gaped, and even more so when Sephiroth nodded in agreement and murmured that he expected no less. Then the two were off again, swords flashing and limit breaks sweeping out at each other. Genesis was in a state of shock as Masamune pierced the blond through only to be yanked out by said blond and the fight resuming. He couldn't hear the taunts being tossed back and forth, nor could he really even see the moves that were being used, the two going faster than the red clad man had ever seen.

"That was amazing!" Zack exclaimed, bouncing around like the puppy he was called. The two fighters had only just ended their spar, and the kid was already all over them. But he stilled, as did the other two Firsts when Sephiroth chuckled. Even the blond stared at him, but for the reason that he'd never heard the man laugh without a tinge of madness and cruelty to it.

"Cloud, allow me to introduce you. Genesis Rhapsodos, Angeal Hewley and Zackary Fair, this is Cloud Strife."

"A pleasure to meet you," Cloud murmured softly, his eyes never leaving the youngest of the group.

It appeared that whatever hostility there existed between the silver-haired man and the blond man was gone now, and the loss of that level of tension was a relief. The two stayed on opposite sides of the group as they made their way to Midgar, but blue eyes rarely left the General or the Puppy, and jade eyes never left the new addition. Both still had their swords out, even as they neared the gates into the city. Finally, Genesis had had enough. He stopped and flung a fira at Sephiroth and another at Cloud. Both dodged quickly enough, but he had their attention now.

"Look, I don't give a shit what kind of history you two have, but do you really need your swords out?"

Both reluctantly put them away, Cloud pulling a blade off his sword to the astonishment of the others, before sliding both into his harness. He had made it so he had a blade accessible to each hand.

"Your paranoia is showing, Cloud," Sephiroth goaded the blond, who declined to respond. "I would offer you my apartment to stay in, if you have no other yet," the general continued. That got a response.

"No! Gaia, could you see us sharing living space? No, I'll stay in the slums, thank you. Far from you and far from Hojo," the blond said, shuddering at the last.

Sephiroth got a queer look on his face, then. Something that was odd in itself, as he usually kept his expression under strict control. Cloud was no good at reading expressions, or even recognizing emotion. But Genesis and Angeal both understood; Sephiroth was jealous!

Zack, oblivious to the danger he was coming very close to, looked at Sephiroth curiously. "Sir, why is your face all screwed up like that?" And even with the murderous glare now being directed the young SOLDIER's way, Cloud laughed. Well, it was more of a quiet chuckle, but the green eyed man stared at him in a complete reversal from when he himself had laughed.

Sephiroth's ire wasn't forgotten, however. He faced his blond rival and nearly demanded that the man come home with him, and he wasn't going to go stay with her and besides, Cloud's mako eyes would give her mother reason to forbid his presence anywhere near her. Unfortunately for Cloud, he was right. So the only warrior who was an actual match for The Great General Sephiroth had to acquiesce. It was either that, or find a dirty, bug infested hotel in the slums. He wasn't even sure he actually had any gil, and Sephiroth certainly wouldn't lend him any just to go against the general's wishes.

"Fine. But I have to leave soon. I have some unfinished business back home."

A silver eyebrow arched questioningly, vaguely recalling that the boy was from Nibelheim and Jenova was there, so it would be in his best interests not to accompany him. "Is there anyone you trust to take with you?" he queried.

Cloud thought for a moment before shaking his head. Tseng and his Turks were too loyal to Rufus. Aerith wouldn't be able to go even if she did remember, which he was doubting. It would be too suspicious to all but the Demon of Wutai if he requested Zack, which would be nixed by Angeal, anyway. And he didn't know Angeal and Genesis at all, so it was going to be just him.

"What are you up against there?" Sephiroth pressed.

"Wolves, dragons, dorky faces... I think the most dangerous will be Lost Number, though. The rest will be easy."

"Genesis will go with you."

"I'm not babysitting your friends, Sephiroth."

"I'm not asking you to, Cloud."

"Hey!" Genesis interjected. "I do not require babysitting!"

"Then why does he need to go?" Cloud demanded, completely ignoring the furious redhead. The two dark heads were bouncing back and forth, watching the two fair men go at it.

"He's degrading. He needs what you will find there to survive, Cloud! Isn't that what you do? Help people?" Sephiroth sneered, ignoring the shocked look on his friends' faces.

"Fine. I'll take him, and he can go through the reports. Then I'm torching the place. I'm removing all traces of Hojo's activities there, do you understand?"

The silver man nodded, leading the others through the city and back to ShinRa towers. This was going to be one hell of a second chance.

A/N: Wow. That was a lot more than I expected to write. More info, and with the possibility of more story. It is complete for now, but leaving it open ended like this leaves me the ability to continue with it at a later date if I so choose. Not sure I actually like how this turned out, honestly. I was going to leave it at the first horizontal line, but then the rest just appeared. It was like magic. Perhaps Dark Magicks were involved... Let me know what you think, yeah?

18 December 2011

Word Count: 1770