Note: I don't own FF7. I have a deep heartfelt love for this game though. There it is, the sweet smell of nostalgia.
"Gaia, why am I here?" asked Cloud, staring down at a brunette child who held the Lifestream in her eyes.
"Promise not to shout?" asked Gaia, tilting her head cutely. "No one knows you're here, not Zack, Aeris, Tifa, Vincent, Yuffie, Baret, Cid, Red or Reeve. You stand before me, Cloud Strife, by yourself. The same thing as when your other lives end. The odd thing is you ask the same questoin each time. You do know the quote; insanity is doing the same thing expecting a different result."
"That quote cannot be applied to everything Gaia. If dancers do not practice the same move again and again how do they get better? Same with any other craft," Cloud replied, crossing his arms.
Gaia threw back her head and laguhed. Her amusement seemed to puzzle Cloud greatly.
"You've come a long way from what you once were. Will you tell me your name now, Bard?" asked Gaia.
Cloud was nolong Cloud, but a slender blond young man dressed in old age traveler's clothes. The clothes were from the day when magic was wilf and mages and warriors wandered the Planet. He held in his arms a guitar or lute.
"Perhaps after another lifetime," he teased, struming a hoard. "You say insanity is to the do the same thing expecting a different end, but you ask me this every lifetime."
"Because I know eentually I shall get an answer to my question," Gaia replied.
"We can catch up later Gaia. Why hae you called me here?" asked the Bard.
"The story ended wrong. Genesis, Angeal, Sephiroth and Zack were supposed to be my heroes. I never foresaw Jenova and the destruction she wrought," asnwered Gaia, clenching her fists.
"Ah, Genesis, he has the potential to be great. He had all the essentials and was even in the general shape, morally. He just needed a tiny bit of refining," laughed the Bard.
"That's true," Gaia agreed. "I chose him especially because of his soul. It's rather worn, but filled with loyalty, tenacity and wit. He's lovely to see, but I believe you -"
"Can make him soar," finished the Bard. "That's true, I love his soul. It's rare to see one of the Valkyrie nowadays. They've almost all entered eternal sleep. Alright Gaia, I agree, but what part shall you have me play this time? Hero? Warrior?"
"Neither. Heal the world Bard! Save me people, give them hope. There are some who have never felt the warmness of the sun, the lift of a breeze or seen those lights you shine down to guide travelers at night." Gaia turned away, tears streaming down here face.
"Because I want somebody to come save me," replied Tifa, dreamily.
Cloud blinked and shook his head. He remembered this day, but this lifetime he would not make this promise. He was not a hero. Not this time.
"I'm sorry Tifa, but I'm not sure I can do that for you," replied Cloud. Tifa's head snapped around to stare at him in shock. It seemed she wasn't used to boys refusing her when she gave them her attention.
"I can't do that because it would be unfair. You need to be able to stand on your own, I can't hold you hand. Sometimes, there are no heros and you can't keep waiting for one. Sometimes it's just you and you have to save yourself," Cloud shrugged, lifetimes flashing before his eyes.
"How it is unfair?" Tifa cried angrily. "What if I needed help?"
"If you needed help I would help you What you're asking for isn't help Tifa. Yo're asking me to be your knight-in-shining armor. To gihgt your battles and I won't do that. It might seem like I'm helping, but really I'm not. I'm preventing you from growing," Cloud stared deep into Tifa's eyes. He frowned when he saw tears begin to form.
"Fancy words from you, outcast!" snapped Tifa, jumping off the roof and walking back towards the town and her house.
"I'm not hero or warrior, I simply provide you light so that you may see where you step,"whispered Cloud. He turned and picked up his guitar, strumming a chord. The stars shone brighter, helping Tifa find her way home. "I'm a Bard, nothing more."
Off to Midgar
Cloud remembered doing this the first time, he'd entered the cadet program at 13 years old. This time, he wasn't going to join Shinra. This time he would do as Gaia asked and help those in the slums.
"Cloud, are you sure that's all you need to bring?" asked Mother, staring at his meager messenger bag, not even fully stuffed.
"Yeah mom, this is all I need," Cloud replied, though he actually everything, but a sink into his bag. "I'll send a letter as soon as possible."
He walked out of town, determined to finish the battle with Jenova and rest for a few decades. He was so sleepy and he missed the Lifestream. He walked to the nearest port and caught a boat to Midgar. It took a few days and he didn't even bother faking sea sickness.
"Hey boyo! What are you thinking of going to Midgar for? Thinking of joining Shinra and tryng for Soldier? Gonna be a hero?" asked one of the sailors. Cloud turned and blinked, he could feel the mako and lifestream pumping in the man before him.
"Nope," answered Cloud, "I'm not a hero."
The sailor laughed sadly, gripping the rail tightly.
"That's good kid because it seems like all the heros are cursed to die in battle. They're not made to live in the peace they fought for."
"Perhaps," Cloud replied easily. "But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try to live in it. Live in peace. People use their children and loved ones for reasons why they do things all the time. Why not for use them for as a reason to live in peace as well?"
The sailor looked to the sunset, something he felt blessed to see everyday and a few tears slipped from his eyes.
"That's a good one, kid," he replied, his Soldier eyes glowing like stars.