The book in his hands was light, and he ran his thumb over the side of the paper and listening to the sound that it produced and feel of it against his calloused fingertip. The doctor had just left him alone in peace after asking him how he had managed to rip some of his stitches, and it was a minor nagging he had just tuned out on.
His liking for doctors extended about as far getting chewed on by flan. He knew exactly how he had ripped them; he had let himself return to the bed from sitting up too quickly and landed hard on his elbows. He wasn’t to say that though, since the old doctor simply stitched him back up with recommendations of staying in bed, and when he hadn’t answered to confirm he wouldn’t move, the man as simply laced his IVs with more powerful drugs to discourage his movements. It was another reason he hated doctors; they were sneaky and had weird chemicals to make him do things he didn’t want to do. He supposed that he was just grateful for the materia curing spell that set his stitches and eased his pain more as well as healing him up a bit more.
As it was, Cloud was stuck propped up on pillow with a body that felt numb and his muscles were bearly flex for him even upon command. He had obviously been given some sort of powerful muscle relaxant to keep him from moving, and really, it was only his fingers, toes and mind that still worked decently.
However, without an active body and little pain to distract him, his active mind had nothing better to do than dwell on things. There were many things to think about, too much to remind himself of, and he could do nothing but allow those thoughts to flood his mind and take him over.
Kadaj… The young man had changed. He had seen the change when Kadaj had first laid eyes on Jenova on that beach, gradual at first but now… His eyes flicked down to the bandages covering his body, and he knew in his own mind that the Kadaj he had put his hope into – the one he had allowed to survive – had been buried. Jenova had managed to work herself into a position of power and now had a firm grip on Kadaj… and it appeared Loz too.
He had to wonder if he could get them both back from Jenova and not have to destroy them both. His state of injury was a clear indication that he only had this one chance to make a surprise attack and finish them all off. Removing Kadaj and Loz would take them away from being instruments to stand in front of Jenova and send her off the planet, where she needed to be. He couldn’t kill her as it would do no good to just be rid of her in that way, unless all of her cells were destroyed. To destroy her…
…he would have to destroy Kadaj, Sephiroth for certain. If he still had Jenova cells, he would have to destroy his as well along with anyone else in the world that had not yet been cured by Aeris’ magic… magic that he would have to confirm being missing now.
Then there was Sephiroth. The man was still around and doing whatever it was that he was currently doing. He couldn’t help but feel that having the child General was like a beacon for the insane fraction to just sniff around for. It was like having a ticking time bomb wandering from room to room in a house that had women and children, and he knew well that Sephiroth would kill anyone in his warpath if the man was on one.
Of course, he didn’t trust the child General either, which made him uncomfortable. He was one to trust easily, but he just… couldn’t allow himself that, not yet. The one time he had laid his eyes on the boy, there was an uneasy feeling in his mind that he could be digging his own grave by allowing Sephiroth – any Sephiroth – to live to rape, pillage and burn again. What guarantee did he have that this one wouldn’t go insane like the last one? He didn’t have one, and it cast a shadow of doubt over his mind.
To be rid of Jenova, he would have to be rid of Sephiroth as they were both connected. Sephiroth’s cells that were of Jenova would keep her here on this planet even if they shot her off into space. There were be elements of her here, meaning she could track them and come back, which was unacceptable given how many times she had come back.
Shooting one angry space alien up into the sky was one thing… but jamming all of her little children in the same place was pushing it. They wouldn’t go quietly, and they wouldn’t go without a fight. It was a dangerous situation every time that he looked at it, and he couldn’t risk revealing the fact he was still alive too early or he didn’t doubt that Kadaj or Jenova would come to finish the job. He couldn’t die yet; he wasn’t ready nor willing.
For now, those problems seemed a long way from his mind if he pushed them. He had to recover to deal with the problems beyond the walls of the 7th Heaven, but there were so many issues in his for elements within it that were much more daunting for him. He could count them on his fingers if he could muster the energy to actually raise his hands.
Really it came down to three names in his own mind. The tangled web was just getting worse since he had woken up, and he almost wished he still lay happily in a coma healing up. Sitting in this bed barely able to shift his legs or move his arms thanks to drug and injuries was not his idea of fun, and he was already going strange with the desire to move… or at least open a goddamn window to let in some fresh air.
…hm, his crankiness made him use language like Cid did. He shook his head at the thought and stared out the window. Shera, get me some goddamn tea! Amused for that single moment, he laid his head back against the headboard. If he talked like that to Zahna or Tifa, he would surely get a hard slap to the back of his head and an order to get it himself.
The simple thought of those two names made him groan and clench his eyes shut. Maybe he should just tell Rufus to come upstairs and shoot him in the face? He winced at the thought and the feeling that there was a chance that Rufus would do it.
What had he really done to warrant the coldness? A couple of months back, he and Rufus had been talking on civil terms about Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo. Rufus had sent out Reno and Rude to gather information, and he had tried to keep in close contact. That seemed to have gone out the window with the cure of Geostigma and the rebuilding of the ShinRa empire again when it had seemed like they were coming to a relative uneasy truce.
With the Jenova problem and the attack on ShinRa, he couldn’t help but feel like Rufus was avoiding the problem since it involved talking to him again. He didn’t want to think that way, even if he knew for a fact that the world settled on his shoulders as the hero… he still liked to have allies from time to time to ease the load. He had no problem with those he trusted, and while he would not trust Rufus with anything weapon-like, he respected the man. How could he not respect a man who survived as much as he had and still insisted on rebuilding a company?
In some ways, he was happy that Tifa had found Rufus, and he was certain that if he wasn’t in the picture, they would be very close… a good match. As it was, he was still in the picture, and Tifa was still very much in love with him. It was difficult to compare a liking attraction to downright infatuating love, and those appeared to be the two weights set right now. Even with his own chips on the proverbial table, he couldn’t deny that Rufus and Tifa did sort of look good together…
…doesn’t help that I would look goddamn better. Better in a dress, better with a sword, better with a goddamn gun and a better kisser! Goddamn it…okay, maybe not good with a gun…
He needed more sleep and the axe the word ‘goddamn’ from his brain. He couldn’t tell if his crankiness was because of lack of sleep, pain, or the inability to get up and move around. It was actually probably a combination of the three, and it frustrated him, especially now that he was once again heavily ladened with medication (apparently his dosage was enough to kill a adult chocobo but just made him complacent).
Cloud opened his eyes and looked to the window, staring out at the nearby buildings. He would save the world… because he had to protect the lives of those that he cared for, to give them futures. Like Denzel, who had been denied such a thing for too long, and he would be proud to see Denzel become a man and fend for himself in the world and lead a normal life. The boy had been through too much to not see the life of adulthood. He wanted to assure such futures, and, when he was well… he would.
His orphans would make him proud; they already had, even if he didn’t show it. The fact he was surrogate father to close to twenty of them, most notably Marlene and Denzel, made him wanting to see those children have a future. Hell, he secretly gave them delivery jobs around town and paid them well for it, just to make them feel like they were contributing and holding their own in Midgar where sometimes jobs were hard to find.
But he had to wonder… would he ever get the chance to raise his own? It had been a fact that had come up in his mind the day previous when he had spoken with Tifa, and he couldn’t help but be pleased with how she was so excited to be a mother someday. He was sure she would, but his own future as a true parent remained a heavy gray slate of question in his own mind.
He had wanted three things in his life: 1) to be a SOLDIER 2) be a hero like Sephiroth 3) settle in and raise a family.
So far, he had become a hero, but not like Sephiroth.. like his own person. He supposed that was better, but he couldn’t help but feel like a minor failure in that regard. He never made it to SOLDIER, having utterly failed in that regard and unable to make it up anymore too, which was depressing. And… he had not settled down yet and there was no family in the works either… he supposed the times were much too dangerous to be thinking of a family, as children were not the shiniest example of hero productivity… and he wouldn’t want his son or daughter to live in fear.
Still, he entertained the thought, nonetheless. He was twenty-three years old. He had saved the world twice. He was the most powerful man to have ever lived. He had mastered snowboarding, dressed and passed as a woman, took down the largest electrical monopoly on the planet, aligned himself with the voices of the planet. He had done everything that any man could want to do, but he had little show for it in the way of a personal life. For him… it almost felt right to settle in and start to make a home and a private life for himself.
Actually, he was kind of pathetic in that regard. He had just started to date a few months back, which was pretty damn pathetic. And now he knew that the chances of Zahna bearing children was so low, it was depressing, though he was desperate not to show. He could never look to science or medicine either, not with all that had been done to him all those years age. The thought of it made his stomach churn painfully… that or it was the fact he wanted food, but he was pretty sure it was the thought of science.
He cared about her nonetheless. Even if his feelings for Tifa were out in the open to her, he couldn’t stop the fact that he did care deeply for Zahna as well. Their relationship had been an explosive start to a love life he didn’t know he was capable of, and it assured him that he was ready to handle the difficulties of a relationship most of the time. She was a beautiful woman, and she did care for him a lot. She was not only his lover but his friend as well, and he wanted to see her happy and interacting with people… even if he was a semi-bad example of that.
Yet, there was Tifa too. They had been friends since their childhood, and he had known her since he was conscious enough to realize another being could exist outside of his mother’s arms. They hadn’t always been around each other in childhood, but living in such a small village like Nibelheim, it was hard not to get to know someone that lived next door.
He had had such a big crush on her by the time he was eleven years old, but she never seemed interested in him, especially not in that way. He had found Sephiroth then, a way to drown out his utter feelings of failure in that he would never get close enough to Tifa, and then… he had gone away without even realizing that his childhood sweetheart had been pining after him. Fate was very mean, if such a thing existed.
She knew him though. She saw things that he could never put into words, pulled him through when the going had gotten tough, and remained that solid wall to lean himself on when he didn’t think he could go on. There were some things that could never leave a friendship, and their trials together were just a few. She waited, and he stood aloof in a corner wallowing in his failures… but waited she did, even when he allowed his first smile in two years appear on his face at the pool in Aeris’ church. How long had she been waiting for that?
He was finally… learning how to smile again.
But that didn’t change the fact he was in love with two women. Where was Zack when he needed the guy to slap him on the head and tell him how to solve his women problems? This was probably something he would need to solve on his own, alone. Did he stay with the woman who had captured his heart in less time than some battles he’d face, or did he move over to his childhood sweetheart?
It was a question that gave him a headache, and he decided that he really had done enough thinking for one day at the moment. If he was lucky, someone would come around to bother him.