Title: The Edge Restoration Committee
Fandom: Kingdom Hearts
Theme: [076.] Magic
Word Count: 2,865
Summary: The next time he found him, Sephiroth was going to die.
Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing related to the Kingdom Hearts (or Final Fantasy) franchise. I’m sure it shows.
“Would you stop yelling already? Geez, Leon, let me get a word in...Yeah, well, it’s not like I’ve had all the time in the world, okay?”
Cloud’s head felt heavy and his entire body ached when he woke to Tifa pacing the bedroom he was sharing with Zack. Through his fuzzy vision, she appeared to be irritated and on her cell phone. Zack was sitting up on his own bed watching her with a bemused expression. Cloud groaned and tried to sit up as if that would make more sense of this situation but his shoulder and chest both really hurt so Cloud flopped back against his pillow again. Zack chuckled.
“Good morning, Chocobo-head. It’s about time you woke up.”
“What time is it?” Cloud mumbled.
“And you’re still in bed?”
“I was up most of the night.”
“No, Leon, you listen,” said Tifa, pacing toward the door and jabbing her finger at the air. “We had a situation, okay? Your calls aren’t so important that I’m going to put everything on hold just to chat with you.” She paused, huffed, and turned. Her face distorted from whatever Leon had just said and then she scoffed, turned her head, and pursed her lips. “Yes, I appreciate the concern but everything’s fine now. If you’d let me tell you what happened maybe you’d understand.” Tifa paused again. “Because you’re not listening, that’s why!”
“Leon called about five minutes ago,” said Zack. “They’ve been going at it ever since. From what I understand, Leon, Aerith, and everyone have been trying to call you and Tifa for two days now but since there was the Kadaj thing and the you thing Tifa only just got her phone on and charged this morning. They were worried that since Tifa wasn’t answering someone was dead, which, I guess, isn’t that unfounded, right?” Zack chuckled again; Cloud frowned.
“The me thing? What...?” Cloud allowed his mind to wander to the last thing he remembered happening and then it hit him—Sephiroth. He’d been fighting Sephiroth on the Shinra building, unleashed Omnislash, and Sephiroth had taken off before he died and left Kadaj in his place. How had he gone from there to here? Did he pass out again? He checked his left arm to make sure the Geostigma was gone and it hadn’t all been a dream; his arm was clean and unmarred. His right shoulder, however, was bandaged just where Sephiroth had stuck Masamune so it had to be real. And what was this bandage around his chest and why did it hurt so damn bad? Cloud touched a hand to the area and winced.
“Need your potion?” Zack asked. He moved to sit on the side of his bed and started rifling through a series of bottles on the table separating them. “No, not that one. Wait...here. Drink this.”
Cloud took the offered bottle and turned it to see his name printed on the side. He frowned.
“Hey, Zack...What happened?”
“Leon, would you just shut up for a sec,” said Tifa. She pulled the phone back from her mouth a little. “Hey, Cloud, how’re you feeling?”
Cloud furrowed his eyebrows and stared at the bottle. “Confused.”
“He just asked me what happened again,” said Zack.
“You don’t remember?” said Tifa. Cloud shook his head. “Zack, fill him in again while I try to get Leon to relax.”
“I’ll take Cloud over Leon any day,” said Zack, winking. “Have fun with that, Tifa.”
“Oh, shut up. No, Leon, not you.” She started pacing the room again.
“What’s going on?” Cloud asked again. Zack sighed.
“I’ll tell you again, but you gotta remember this time, okay, Spike?” Zack then went into the story of everything that had happened since Kadaj’s death and, seemingly, his own. “You were in and out yesterday, but you slept most of the day,” Zack explained. “Tifa and I have been taking turns watching over you. Denzel and Marlene keep popping in, too, all worried you’re going to die again, but we keep telling them it’s not a big concern because it’s obviously not your time. I have, however, dubbed us the Lifestream Reject Twins, so you’re going to have to deal with that.”
“And Leon was trying to reach Tifa?”
“Hell if I know what’s going on, but Tifa’s putting on a good show, isn’t she?”
“Cloud, would you please talk to Leon?” said Tifa, exasperated, and holding out the phone. “My word is apparently not good enough to believe that you are alive and well.”
Cloud frowned and stared at the phone for a long while before holding out his hand. Tifa helped him sit comfortably against the pillows and then Cloud held the phone to his ear.
“Hello?” he said.
“Cloud!” said Leon. “Oh thank...Tifa said you were dead and then she said you were alive and...”
“Yeah, that’s what Zack just told me...” said Cloud. “I don’t know. Lifestream chucked me out, too, I guess.”
“We’re the Lifestream Reject Twins!” Zack shouted at the phone.
“Was that Zack?” said Leon.
“Uh...yeah,” said Cloud. “He seems really excited that he’s not the only one in the group to have gotten kicked out of the Lifestream now.”
“Hm,” said Leon. “Well, at least I know you’re okay now. You should give Riku a call then, though. He’s been trying to reach you, too.”
“Oh...yeah. Riku. Yeah, sure, I’ll give him a call.”
“I heard you fought Sephiroth but he got away.”
“Yeah...but it wasn’t my fault this time.”
“Yeah, I heard that, too. You’ll get next time.”
Cloud yawned. “I’m gonna try.”
Leon chuckled. “You sound tired so I’ll let you go and get back to business here. Just remember to give Riku that call.”
“Okay. Good talking to you.”
“Glad to hear you’re alive.”
“Hm...” said Cloud. “Good night.”
Leon snorted. “Talk to you later.”
Cloud snapped Tifa’s phone shut, dropped it on the table, and slid back into a laying position on the bed. He yawned again and Zack sighed.
“He’s going to sleep again now and forget everything we just told him.”
“No, I’m not,” said Cloud. “I’m just tired. Someone wake me later. Leon says I have to call Riku.”
Zack snorted but Tifa sat on the bed by him and stroked his hair as his eyelids fluttered shut. “Okay, honey. We will,” he heard her softly reply as he fell back into sleep.
Tifa woke Cloud in the early afternoon with a bland lunch and the news his phone was nowhere to be found. Both Zack and Tifa were relieved Cloud recollected the phone call with Leon this morning and his talk with Zack about what had happened since Kadaj’s passing. Then he was left alone with Zack while Tifa went to attend to the bar. That was when he started to fume.
It was probably because all Cloud could do was just sit around, thinking, and talking to Zack that it started to crawl under his skin so much. Sephiroth was a bastard. Cloud was sick and tired of having to sit around every time after they met thinking that he’d get him next time. Next time just wasn’t good enough anymore and he’d been so close. The circumstances this time just weren’t fair. Sephiroth was just using Kadaj as a shield and now Cloud had to find him again wherever he may be hiding. Cloud didn’t have the faintest idea of where to start looking, either. Eventually it just worked out that Sephiroth came to him most of the time, but Cloud wasn’t willing to wait for that. This needed to end. He had had enough.
It didn’t help he was bedridden. Even though he tried to focus on a conversation with Zack, his thoughts kept drifting back to Sephiroth. Cloud tried to get out of bed and move around to at least distract him from himself, but Zack followed him around while he searched for his missing cell phone like he was an invalid. He tired quickly and resigned himself to bed, more irritated than he’d been before.
“I guess you won’t be able to make it to the Forgotten City tomorrow,” Zack said as he helped Cloud back into bed.
“What about the Forgotten City tomorrow?” Cloud snapped.
“Nothing. Just Reno and Rude came by yesterday and said they were going out to the Forgotten City tomorrow to try and find that materia Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo were using. Rufus Shinra wants it collected and stored somewhere safe before anyone else can get to it as the first step of rebuilding Edge. Reno thought you and I might want to go along.”
Cloud snorted. “What the hell would make Reno think I would want to do anything for Rufus Shinra?”
“I think Reno assumed you’d rather get your hands on it before Shinra, actually.”
“What?” said Cloud, laughing. “Like steal it for myself? I’m not Yuffie.”
Zack frowned. “What does Yuffie have to do with anything?”
Cloud shook his head. “Nothing. Never mind. So Reno wanted me to go along and keep the materia safe for Shinra or something?”
“That’s what he was not so subtly getting at,” said Zack, snickering. “You know how Reno is.”
“They were planning on going today, but since you were still in bed yesterday Rude suggested waiting another day so you might have a chance to go along.”
Cloud considered for a moment and then nodded. “Yeah, okay. I’ll go.”
“Are you sure? You’re not doing so well just moving around the room.”
“I’ll be all right. As long as I’m not going in there to fight Sephiroth or anything. The sooner I get out of this bed and stop thinking about everything the better.”
Zack nodded in understanding. “Yeah, okay. I’ll tell Tifa myself so you don’t have to deal with her wrath over it later.”
“I appreciate that.”
Cloud borrowed Tifa’s phone in the evening to call Riku and let him know everything that had transpired here in the past few days. It was as he told the entire story that Cloud realized just how crazy it all sounded, and after they hung up, Cloud fell right back into sleep. He woke the next morning to Zack moving around the room and dressing. He pulled his pillow over his head and moaned.
“If you want to go out to the Forgotten City today, you better get dressed,” said Zack. “Reno and Rude just called to say they were on their way over.”
Cloud tossed the pillow off his head and onto the floor. In pain, he pulled his body to a seated position, but in the best interest of Zack not hovering over him, pretended to be fine as he got to his feet and stretched.
“I’m getting a shower,” said Cloud. “Tell Reno he’s just going to have to wait on my ass.”
Zack laughed. “Okay. How’re you feeling today?”
“Better. I’m still sore, but other than that...”
“That’s really good. Go shower, then. I’ll let Reno know.”
Cloud stepped out of the room and headed for the bathroom. Once showered and dressed, Cloud found Zack with Reno and Rude down in the bar. Reno was checking his watch every few seconds and huffing. Cloud rolled his eyes as he approached.
“Take a little longer next time,” Reno snapped.
“Don’t even start with me,” said Cloud. “I saw you blow up Midgar Highway on me.”
“Looks like someone’s feeling better today,” said Tifa.
“Hey, that was his idea!” Reno pointed at Rude. “And how were we supposed to know it was going to go off on you, okay? We were going for the Sephiroth triplets!”
“And I just happened to be an unfortunate casualty, right? You knew I was with them!”
“Who cares? It looked cool, right?”
Cloud stared. “Why did I ever sleep with you?”
“Probably for the same reason you keep bringing it up!”
“Now, boys,” said Zack, chuckling. “Let’s just play nice, okay?”
“I will if he will,” said Reno.
“Oh, that’s very mature,” said Cloud.
“Do Cloud and Reno hate each other?” Marlene asked Tifa over by the bar. Tifa patted her head.
“Let’s just go, okay?” said Reno.
“Are you sure you feel up to it, Cloud?” Tifa asked as Reno, Rude, and Zack got to their feet. Cloud looked back and nodded.
“Yeah, I’m okay. I don’t know if I can handle the ride out there on my own, though.”
“It is kind of far,” said Tifa.
“You can ride with me,” said Zack. He headed toward the garage. “Don’t worry, Tifa. I’ll take good care of him.”
Cloud and Tifa looked at each other for a moment. She smiled; he shrugged.
“Guess I’m riding with Zack.” Cloud gave Tifa a hug and kissed the top of Marlene’s head. Then he headed out to the garage.
It was a long day out in the Forgotten City. Still too tired to properly ride, Cloud clung to Zack’s back on the way from and back to Edge. Thankfully they found the materia early on at the base without too much arguing or strenuous searching and after a short spat, Rude was elected most trustworthy to personally transport the box of materia back to Edge. By the time they got back to Tifa’s and the materia was safely stashed away from Rufus Shinra, Cloud was ready to collapse back into bed, thankful to be rid of Reno. He had a short dinner and retired upstairs early.
Reno just refused to leave Cloud alone. He came by again the next day. Since Kadaj and Bahamut had destroyed a good part of Edge—and Edge was under construction to begin with—Rufus Shinra put Reno and Rude in charge of a project devoted to rebuilding the monument, collecting volunteers, and finishing construction of the city. Then there was that small problem of fixing and rebuilding the Midgar Highway after the state it was previously in addition to what Reno and Rude had done to it. Cloud could do nothing but stare at Reno when he broke the news.
There they were—in his and Zack’s room—and Reno was sitting on his bed telling him something Cloud was sure he was mishearing. Rude and Tifa watched them from the doorway; Zack sat perched on his own bed.
“I’ll help,” said Zack.
“I knew we could count on you, Fair,” said Reno.
“Well it’s not like I’ve got much to do around here, anyway. And at least my efforts would be put to good use, right?”
“That’s the spirit! How about you, Cloud? Can we count on you?”
Cloud stared. “Not interested.” By the doorway, Tifa snorted.
“Oh, come on!” said Reno. “I knew you were going to say that, but think about it again, okay? It’s not like it’s a real Shinra project or anything. Nothing’s going to hurt the planet. There’s other teams working on alternate energy sources and everything. Rude and I just in charge of construction. And it’s gonna benefit those kids that live here, too. It’s going to benefit everyone who lives here. All we want to do is rebuild our home and we could really use your help.”
“No,” said Cloud. “Absolutely not. No way am I joining the Edge Restoration Committee.”
“Edge Restoration Committee...” said Reno. “You know, that doesn’t sound half bad.”
“Uh uh. No way. I’m not signing up for this. I will not touch a hammer, I will not drywall, and I’ll be damned if I’m going anywhere near a can of paint, okay? I’m not doing it. I’m not. No six a.m. wake up calls for me. No.”
Tifa snorted into her hand again. “Maybe you can pass out lunches to the volunteers,” Tifa said through laughter into her hand.
“Hey, that’s a good idea, too!” said Reno, turning around to look at Rude. “You guys really have this thought out. Doesn’t this sound great?”
“Do whatever you want, but I’m not going to be a part of it,” said Cloud.
“Oh come on, Strife,” said Reno, exasperated, turning back to look at Cloud. “You’re way more on top of this than me or Rude are and we could really use your help with this project. Rufus just put us in charge of this and we have no idea what we’re doing.”
“I’ll give you my friend’s number,” said Cloud. “I’m sure he’ll be able to help you out.”
“Is this about Leon?” said Zack, jerking his thumb toward Cloud. Tifa bent over into peals of laughter again.
“C’mon, Cloud,” said Tifa. “Say yes and demand your own office or something.”
“I don’t know if we can work that out,” said Reno, “but we could use someone good with tools.”
“I hope you die from lack of oxygen,” Cloud said, looking at Tifa. She was clinging to the wall for support in between laughs. He glanced back to Reno. “I have nothing but bad references for you so no.”
Despite protests Cloud spent the next five days healing and on the budding project that was the Edge Restoration. The next time he found him, Sephiroth was going to die.
(Prompt Table) for previous installments. 76/100 Complete.