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Memory of its Own
By Scifiroots
Content: Shonen-ai, somewhat angst-y, AU after-game, strange… I’m not sure where the idea came from.
Characters: Cloud, Zack, Sephiroth
Disclaimers apply: Plot be mine, but sadly the characters are not.
This is for dina-san, in thank you for supporting me with all my FFVII fics and also an early thank you for a pic I’m getting. >^,,^< Arigatou! How is this for a Zack-inclusion fic? o.O
August 5, 2002

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
You grew up way too fast and now there's nothing to believe
And reruns all become our history
A tired song keeps playing on a tired radio
And I won't tell no one your name
I won't tell em' your name

I think about you all the time
But I don't need the same
It's lonely where you are come back down
And I won't tell em your name

~ “Name” ~ Goo Goo Dolls
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~


“Hurry up or we won’t make it!”

Clouds overhead and a clap of thunder; looking up he saw a streak of lightning lighten the darkening sky.

Laughter from up ahead, “Are you coming?”

He shook his head and started to jog, brushing aside the foliage in his path. He couldn’t remember why they were in the forest, what the purpose was, nor could he recall how they had gotten here.

“It’s up ahead!”

The first drops of wetness escaped through the canopy of leaves. One hit his bare shoulder and slid down the contour of a muscle, giving him shivers.

Muffled voice now, “Hurry up!”

“Where are we going?” he finally spoke.

Thunder covered his voice quickly and the rain started to come more frequently.

“You’ll be soaked!” he was warned.

“Where…?”

Then he broke through a group of saplings and could see the little cottage. What was this doing here? Pleasant laughter came from just inside the open door and he could see a shadow in the form of a body slip inside.

It began to pour as he stepped over the threshold and peered around the interior. Immediately to his left was a doorway leading into a quaint kitchen; ahead was a staircase; and to his right was an opening to what seemed to be a small den. A tall bookshelf stood against one wall with a desk and chair beside it. A couch and two, comfortable armchairs were arranged before a small, stone fireplace. Flames were licking hungrily within and casting a warm glow, the only extra lighting in the small space.

“Where are you?” he called, double-checking that the door was locked. He stared up the staircase, listening for any signals of sounds above him. There was nothing, however. It was as if he were alone. Feeling confused, he stepped into the kitchen, searching…

The small door next to the stove lead to a pantry stocked with food. Everything was fresh, all the surfaces clean, but it didn’t seem like anyone was living here, or had for a very long time. He crossed to the den, but found nothing than his earlier observations. Peering past the staircase when he reentered the hall, he could spot a small bathroom with only a sink, toilet, and shower stall. Sapphire eyes turned their gaze upwards again and his hand rested on the railing as he ascended.

The hallway was small and short and only three doors lined its walls. At one end was a window, at the other a mirror. He caught his reflection in the mirror, for the first time truly aware that he was wearing a uniform matching his friend’s – SOLDIER’s. Feeling slightly disoriented, he looked away and moved to the first door.

Beneath his hand the knob turned soundlessly and he poked his head in. Outside was darkening, making the room desperately gloomy and hard to see. His fingers found a light switch and flipped it… but nothing happened. A bulky form of a queen-sized bed and a dresser were all he could make out.

Onto the next door, but this latch was stuck, the door warped. Pressing his shoulder against it and shoving, he forced it in and looked around. A small lamp glowed from a corner, sparing some light on its contents. Another bed, same size, with elegant silk coverings. Above the headboard a portrait of a young boy was framed. So familiar, but he couldn’t place who it was at the moment. On a chair beside the vanity a long coat folded and set down. No one was here.

Lastly was another bathroom, larger than the one downstairs, with an old-fashioned tub instead of a shower. One wall was completely mirrored, the edges gilded in gold. His reflection wavered, as if on water, but he felt nothing but the natural hard coldness when he touched its surface.

“Are you there?”

He spun around, heart pounding. Where was he? He’d heard his voice but…

“I told you to hurry, you’ll miss it!”

Miss what? His feet took him downstairs quickly, almost stumbling in his haste. There! The kitchen held the shadowed form.

“I was…” he started, but then stopped when he caught gently glowing hazel eyes watching out the window spattered with rivulets of water.

“Here,” the other whispered, one arm extending an index finger pointing towards the trees lining the small clearing.

He approached the window, looking out to see the leaves rustle in the wind. Lightening reflected off his face and lighted the house briefly, and the surroundings. Someone was coming, he felt it. That was why they were here, right? He thought he remembered… but it was gone in an instant.

“Do you see, Spike?”

His lips parted, amazed when the man slipped out of the shadowy grasp of the trees. Long, pale hair clung to a bare torso and bangs were wetted down against an angular face. For a moment glowing jade found the window where he stood and he wanted to draw back, but waited. The gaze passed, and the man started towards the cabin, the door.

“Do you remember, Spike?”

He regained focus and turned his head, eyes searching for the face somehow lost in darkness with the rest of his friend’s body. Why wouldn’t he step forward a bit? He couldn’t see clearly enough, only the glowing eyes. Eyes of SOLDIER, eyes he didn’t have.

The question was repeated quieter and he shook his head dazedly, “What? Remember what?”

The door opened with a drawn-out creak and the man from outside stepped in, water pooling at his heavy boots as the rain dripped off of him. When blue eyes returned to question his friend, he couldn’t find him anymore. Confused, he turned around, looking desperately, but no one else was there.

“Why are you here?” Simple inquiry, not at all harsh, just curious.

He met the green gaze with confusion of his own, not understanding again. He was supposed to be here because of this man but… Why was he alone with him? That had never been right. Where was the third?

“I don’t remember…”

“Don’t remember what?”

One boot was slid off, the other followed. The man began to wring out his hair, eyes never breaking from the other person in the kitchen.

He blinked, unsure. “What?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

He watched as the pale-haired man started up the stairs, as if completely forgetting his other company. Behind him a trail of wet puddles were left. Cautiously he followed, stepping where the other’s feet had stepped, breathing very calm, very slow. “Do you remember?” Remember what? He didn’t know what he was supposed to remember.

All of the doors were shut again. The first room was still empty, trying the second, it opened with ease, now. Candles decorated the vanity, the bedside table, even the floor. When had that happened? The lamp was gone. The pale-haired man was underneath the silk covers, looking peaceful, asleep.

How had he fallen asleep so fast?

“He came late.” Back again, then. He turned to peer up at the hazel-eyes not focusing on him but beyond, into the room, over the bed, towards the painting… The portrait was different, older, much, much more familiar. Himself.

“Why?” he whispered.

“Don’t you remember?”

Frustrated he turned and demanded, “What? What am I supposed to remember?”

He thought he saw a small smile on those lips as the other drew back, disappearing into the hallway. The body on the bed shifted and he spared a glance, startled to find jade eyes opened and looking at him curiously.

“Why are you here?”

Dryly, he returned, “Don’t you remember?”

The humor was lost on his speaking companion.

Shaking his head, he left the room, moving towards the end of the hallway, the last door. The bedroom doors slammed shut, making him jump. Nervously he looked back at them, but nothing stirred. His hand reached for the bathroom door. Inside were more candles; the tub was full of water and soap bubbles, smelling of mint and lavender.

His reflection was different. He frowned, leaning in towards the mirror. Why were his eyes glowing? His clothes were worn, dirty; there was a larger sword strapped to his back – it wasn’t his. It was someone else’s. How had he gotten it? He touched his face, realizing that mud and dried blood covered one side.

“Do you remember?”

In the mirror he spotted his friend, perfectly clear this time. His uniform pressed and clean, hair as neat and it could be, eyes bright and lips slightly parted, awaiting the moment to speak again. He looked away from the mirror, but he couldn’t find the room’s other occupant. Then again, the reflection was still there.

“What’s going on?

“You should get cleaned up. You don’t want to look like that in front of him.” A smile, the upturn of those lips.

He remained confused but his body was moving on its own again, removing the sword from his back, stripping off both shirt and pants. He was wearing no boots, socks, underwear… His hand touched the water of the tub, suddenly fascinated by the bubbles. One leg moved itself in and then the other followed. He sank down, sitting still for a while, watching the way the lightening danced tiny rainbows along the bubbles and how the candles flickered now and then.

“Lean back.”

He obeyed, sighing softly. His eyes widened in surprise, however, when he felt another body behind his, a smooth, well-muscled chest supporting him from behind. Tanned arms wrapped about him and one hand stroked his arm comfortingly.

“What are you doing?” he whispered softly.

There was no answer, but the hand moved, retreating beneath the surface and then returning with a wet cloth. He shivered as it was guided along his arms, his chest and stomach, his legs. Without thinking about it he snuggled back, leaning into the warm comfort, letting his control slip. The arms wrapped about him again, holding him firmly but gently. He felt a cheek resting against his hair and one of his blonde spikes flattened down to tease his face. He smiled slightly, tiredly, but felt content, happy. There was something very right about all of this.

“Why won’t you remember?”

“Hmm…?” He tried to rouse himself, eyes slowly taking focus on the porcelain of the tub’s sides.

Lips brushed against the tip of his ear. “You have to remember,” the voice quietly pleaded.

He didn’t understand.

“What would I have to remember? This is right… this moment, we’re here. I know this moment.”

“Please remember,” the voice whispered again, now sounding in his other ear as the arms about him shifted, began to turn his body around…

Tan hands rested on his shoulders, holding him up as they faced each other, but he could only see those hazel eyes, glowing, again. He waited, feeling uncertain with the sudden quiet from nature’s forces outside and the way the candlelight was skittering away from their place in the tub.

“You have to remember…” It happened, then, the resume of the storm, the lightning, long and bright, revealing a different view of the man before him.

The face was so sad, hazel eyes tired, glow fading as he waited and waited. Slowly his eyes trailed down, looking at the red specks on the man’s lips, red trailing from the side of his mouth. Horror mounting, his sapphire gazed went further, suddenly landing on the gaping hole in the center of the once perfect chest. He almost screamed, but a hand covered his mouth, those eyes begging, begging for something…

What did he have to remember? His mind raced, his eyes going back to the gory hole where tattered flesh surrounding the well of blood. The red was falling into the water, changing its color, dying his skin. What did he have to remember? But he didn’t want to! He didn’t want to remember that…

“Please!” Harshly whispered.

He didn’t want to recall the storm, the night, the gun shot, all heard through a blurred mind. Too confused then, too confused now. No, it had never happened… Another plead, those eyes, so tired, waiting. He had to… he had to remember, because he couldn’t go otherwise, and he was hurting him. He couldn’t do that, couldn’t let himself hurt his friend like that. Not after everything that had happened…

He felt the tears on his face even as the man smiled at him gratefully, sorrowfully, and withdrew his hand.

“Remember…”

“I do…” he whispered softly, struggling against tears. “I-I’m sorry… I remember, Zack… I…”

“Shh.”

His body was restoring itself, skin closing, cleaning, complete. The eyes show brightly again, the kind glint back again. He leaned in, gently touching lips to lips, a brush of a kiss, touch of a butterfly’s wing.

“It’s okay… thank you…”

His eyes closed as he felt the small condensed breeze in front of him and he reached his hand out, searching, but found only the bathtub. Sapphire orbs reopened and he stared at his hand. Gone, he was gone.

“What is it?”

The other voice, the other person. He didn’t turn his head, too sad at losing the warmth of the man who had been sitting before him naught but a few minutes before. A hand rested on his back, just a gentle, just as kind.

“Did you remember?”

Not trusting his voice, he nodded shortly.

Hands guided him up. “You had to, you know.”

A towel wrapped about him and he felt his body lifted. He was carried down the small hall, listening to the storm outside shake the walls of the little home. What was this place? So familiar, but he didn’t recall its importance before this night.

He was set down on the bed and automatically he uncurled and lay spread across the top sheets, staring at the ceiling, trying to remember the other fact, now. What was this place? There had been another reason for coming here.

A hand gently touched his face and he trailed his gaze up the arm, into the jade eyes watching him thoughtfully.

“Wake up.”

What?

Before he could vocalize the question the image was blurring, fading away like a dying flame in a breeze. Smoke images were all that remained as his vision cleared and refocused on a bare white ceiling, bathed with midmorning sunlight.

He felt the weight of an arm draped across his chest and heard the smooth breathing of the person beside him. He didn’t need to look to know who it was, his mind was not so clouded in this waking world. His thoughts floated to the goodbye in the tub, the wound that had forced him to remember, to acknowledge what he had always known but couldn’t really accept. He sighed, closing his eyes again.

But that place had been so familiar. What was that place? That cabin? What was its meaning?

The body beside him shifted slightly, muscles tensing then relaxing, coming out of sleep, of dreams. “Cloud?”

He turned his head, “Do you remember a cottage? It was… completely secluded.”

“By Gongaga, you mean?” The blonde nodded, beginning to recall the details. “Zack would get his parents to have it all ready for our visits, we’d stay there a few days, the three of us. Did you forget?”

For a few moments he was silent, staring at a non-descript point above his lover’s head, memories falling back into their correct places. “I think I did…” he murmured, remembering the last farewell, the kiss to his lips before the body disappeared from him. No longer a part of him in that way, no more pretending to be him

“Are you all right?” A concerned touch on his cheek, but he smiled reassuringly.

“It’s okay, now, I was only confused.” He wrapped his arms about the former SOLDIER and pressed a kiss against his collarbone, feeling tired again, ready for sleep this time, not dreams.

“It’s ten o’clock.”

“It doesn’t matter,” she said sleepily, already starting to drift off.

“No, I suppose it doesn’t…”

His mind slipped into the sweet oblivion, only briefly glimpsing the waving figure of someone once well known. ‘Bye, have fun you two!’

He smiled.

~ * ~ * OWARI * ~ * ~


*blinks* What was that?
Shay: I dunno. *looks around* Hey, who stuck out that idea?
And no one volunteers…. I’m surprised.
Cloud: What was that?
;;^^ I dunno.
Cloud: Why am I always stuck with weird dreams?
Zack: Why was I all ghoulish? O_o
I thought you made a cute ghost. ^_^ Sans the nasty bullet hole, tho’.
Zack: … -_-
Cloud: *sniffles and huggles Zack* I dun wan’im to die~!
*sweatdrops* Neither did I and I’m sure it’s the same for dina-san, but, well, Zack is just sort of already dead in the game… and, well, this is just a strange AU after-game fic.
Sephiroth: …
Zack: *points* Now why is he alive and I’m dead?
*scratches head* Anou… dina-san likes SephCloud? It worked better? Vincent just didn’t fit in this fic.
Sephiroth: *glares at Cloud* You’re with Vincent?
Cloud: A-anou…
*sweatdrops* Think I started something bad here…. *whistles innocently and starts to sneak off*
Zack: hey! Get back here! *chases after*
Yipes!


[About the title – Memory of its Own. Well, I realized when titling this it was memories… then I remember “omoide” – “memory” in Japanese… And, well, this doesn’t necessarily fit in my “Code: O.M.O.I.D.E.” series, it might, though, if I work on thinking where it fits… but to the point! O_O;; Wow I get off track. Uh, I went with English title for this one, because otherwise I would have ended up with “omoide” somehow and I’m not ready to tie it in with that series yet.]