Reality was a bitter, bitter thing. Reality also seemed to have that painful slap of irony to it as well. He had come to know both well in the last seven years of his life, where the careful goals of a child shaped that of a man trying to cope. The sharp sting of reality was never one he was good at handling either… he usually ran from it if it was too painful.
For instance, he vaguely remembered a time when he proposed himself an SOLDIER and lived his life as a lie to hide just how much of a failure he was. He set out do that one thing, he had faltured at the exams and been rejected two years in a row. In his escape, he forsaked a friend that was one of the sole reasons he got so far in the SOLDIER recruitment program at all. He had failed to keep his own identity to hide his shame of failure from the other children back home, those he considered important to him.
There was also that time he nearly killed a friend while she was innocently praying. His mind and will had been weak, flushed with lies to hide himself from. Somehow, he had resisted, but he had been too much a failure to sweep her out of the way of the falling blade anyway. He had tried so hard too, cried in a manner he had not before… because she had been close to him, someone he trusted and loved as family.
His life was a mess as he worked through it in his mind. He had sacraficed everything to protect the futures of his friends, his allies, and people he didn’t even know… because he had to be the one to stop Sephiroth. It wasn’t for the glory, but it was for those precious futures that still existed or had yet to come into being, and protect them well he did. He played his cards on the side of the planet, not once… but twice.
Even if he faltered momentarily, he was out for protecting futures that were not his own. Usually, he left his own future behind him to stand guard over those he considered more important. He took in the orphans of Geostigma to give them a future that would be otherwise denied, and he had come to enjoy the company of each and every child he took in. They were special, and they had a lifetime before them to develop into good people because… everyone was inheritantly good if given the chance.
He had even done so well as to work passed his problems and anxiety and guilt too. Forgivenness within himself he had found, and he had finally come back to being the man that he had left behind in living a hollow existance thart revolved around waiting to die. He smiled more, he laughed more, he was back to joking with his friends, he did a few things he enjoyed…
But then it all came back to haunt him. Not only did he have to deal with Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo anymore, but he had to throw Sephiroth and Jenova on top of that. The number of enemies were growing no matter the number of times he killed and protected the planet, but he never felt hopeless. He would fight to protect the futures that had yet to come into being and those flowing as they were now. It was as he believed was right, good, and just.
He was not a bitter man. He couldn’t claim to allowing anything to really bother him unless he was depressed, which was happening more and more lately. He may have been depressed, but he was not bitter… not until this moment in time.
Cloud squinted at the label on the bottle in his hand, turning it over in his hands. He couldn’t focus long enough to get the letters to stop being blurry, and he admitted that this was a first time experience. He frankly felt like a pathetic man sitting behind a bar drinking from a bottle covered in stitches and taking the time to concern himself with his petty problems that meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. He knew he was being petty and pathetic too, but he needed his moment of it and this was it.
His other hand lifted, and he squinted again at the little bottle in his hand. The writing was smaller, but he somehow managed to disearn the bolded writing. “Hmmm… don’t take with alcohol…” he murmured then looked at the bottle in his other hand, shrugging and tossing the pill bottle aside as he lifted the dark liquid to his lips and took a large sip of it. “Not like… it will kill me. Nope, planet will break me before it allows me to die…”
There was a vaguely bitter undertone to his voice, but he simply washed it away with another swig of alcohol. He couldn’t even remember – or care – what he was drinking, but he thought that it was rum, maybe brandy. It burned on the way down, so it was at least powerful, and he was well on his way to being drunk enough to enter the boundary of unconsciousness for normal people… but he was just plain feeling drunk.
He hated himself for this, for doing this, for reducing himself to sneaking down in the middle of the night to force alcohol into his system as part of his final resistance against the idea in his head. He nearly dropped the bottle over the sheet around his waist, but he was somehow still coordinated enough to snatch it up before anything spilled over.
He could see his reflection across from him on the cabinate that some more exotic drinks were kept. He could see how his eyes glowed faintly from mako, and he could see the dark lines of stitches against his paler skin. He lifted his bottle as if in toast. “Still a failure,” he muttered out and let his head fall against the line of wood that separated the glasses in cabinates. His back was aching, but he didn’t want to move at all, so he didn’t bother to.
Relaxing more on the floor of the bar, he simply stared at the glow of his eyes. The curse of the planet had tainted him thanks to a mad scientists, and it was a mark that he would forever carry. And even doing all that he had for the planet, he still go absolutely no break either. Was it even worth it?
Of course it was, he repremended himself harshly, slapping the bottle down against his thigh where a line of stitches lay and a sharp jab of pain was his punishment for such a thought. It was worth the futures that he was protecting, all the futures but his own. There was no future for him as every goal he had ever made for himself was wasted, tossed aside carelessly because it didn’t matter to the planet, the Lifestream, and probably not to any of the souls that inhabited Her. As long as he did his job, there would be no problems, but he would never have anything that he wanted for himself, never, not in a million years.
He should just accept his fate as what it had been handed to him. He would be lucky if he managed to get things together enough before he died to possibly get himself a wife, if he really really tried hard. He could even own his own home if he wanted to, and he had a business, but there would never be another generation that stemmed from him. He should have taken the sign with his mother being crushed in a building and he impaled and tossed aside as a sign that his so-called ‘genes’ – or whatever the hell Hojo called them – would stop dead at him and never move forward.
Maybe he had done something to anger the planet to warrant this punishment? He couldn’t think of anything, but then again… he wasn’t thinking that much about anything right about now save for filtering thoughts around passed the alcohol in his system. He must have done something because he simply couldn’t have this bad of luck all the time without some sort of divine intervention. Every goal… failed at. The planet he fought so hard to protect had foresaken him.
“Spank me harder, Cetra… missed a spot a little to the left,” he shot at the reflection lazily staring back at him. He regretted the words because he would never lump Aeris in with such words; she was his friend and had meant the best for him. It was the other ones, no… it was the Lifestream. “Watched my family die, forgot my life, entered a coma, de-godded some crack-whiz and stopped Your alien bitch problem… I want my money back from this ride.”
He took another long sip from the bottle in his hand and cast his eyes over to some flash of movement and found that furry little beast creature that Tifa owned. He hissed and waved a hand, and the furball skittered away from him quickly. Almost satisfied with himself, he swirled the liquid in the bottle.
“You keep hurting, and I’ll keep taking it… is that how it works? As long as it’s me and not my friends, I guess I have to only accept it, right? Yeah… that’s probably it. I accept everything You throw at me given time, and I never ask for anything,” he said and closed his eyes so the glow was blacked from his vision. “And now I’ve asked, and You’ve denied me the one thing that I’ve wanted. Just one thing, and You won’t let me have it…”
Fatherhood was beyond his reach. It left a bitter taste in his mouth, that or it was the threatened pile and alcohol coming up for vengence. It was something he had to accept, and he would given time because he always did accept… but it didn’t mean he had to be happy about it one bit. It was far from something he could touch now, and he knew his drunken brain was making up a nice list of his options that didn’t really make sense to him even when he tried to think clearly about it.
“You just don’t want me to get distracted, do You? I’m not allowed to love anyone because it’s a distraction from what You want me to do. I have to stop them again, and maybe then… maybe I’ll get a pat on the head until the next time,” he said and coughed a little. That medication he took wasn’t sitting so well with him. “I mine as well stop trying.”
He thought his options were really simple right about now: 1) stay with Zahna, 2) have a go with Tifa 3) refuse them both and free them from the misery that came with him. He rather liked the look of number three as it sort of had that ‘I am bachelor’ feel to it, but he wouldn’t be doing it for himself. Nope, he would be freeing both women from obligation towards him, and he could move back to the church and live out his life by a blackpool of Jenova’s will.
Hey… maybe that was a good option? He could stay around there and make sure that she couldn’t get to it and beat her into the floor boards and finish that job off. But wait, he had to shot her off the planet, didn’t he? He’d blast her off, alright, in pieces… He chuckled morbidly at the thought of parts in space, and it had to be like some horrible sci-fi movie from his childhood.
Opening his eyes when a weight settled on his lap, Cloud looked down to find that they furry beast had come back and was now making a bed out of his sheet-covered crotch. He nearly shooed the beast away from him, but he instead let his hand touch the soft fur. He found himself staring at the furball and the furball staring back, even as he lifted his hand away. He quirked an eyebrow when the beast rubbed against his hand and began to purr at him.
“No way, beast boy… I’m not loving you,” he snapped, but he felt helpless as the orange lump settled in on his lap and just purred at him. He raised a hand and stroked his fingers over the soft fur of the furball’s head. He noted how large his hand was in comparision, and it would be so easy to just snap the little beast’s neck and toss the body in the trash… or down a garberator. “Get off me,” he snapped.
The cat didn’t move, and his jaw worked as he stared at it. There were little needle claws needing on his thigh, and he found himself the hapless recipent of kitty love, something he was not used to. His shoulders slumped down, and he found himself gently petting the beast, taking what comfort he could with the presence on his lap. “Maybe we should date? You can’t take back, and you can claw me if I get out of line?” He just received purring and needing for his question.
Taking a sip from the now three-quarter empty bottle, Cloud hiccuped gently and allowed himself to take a moment to hate himself and wallow in self-pity at the same time. He was drunk. He was out of it. He was on drugs. He had a cat on his lap. Life didn’t get any worse than this point, but the morning would be better because he will have accepted his fate in so many aspects of his life and just stop being selfish.
He had to be the hero, and heroes didn’t have problems.
Lifting his bottle, he stared at his image again in toast. “For the future of everyone else… till death do us part… or I stop being a drunk loser.”
He shook his head and hiccuped again, wrinkling his nose a little. “What’s that smell?” He looked down at that purring furball and nudged the beast. “You stick… you’re not sleeping with me, mister. You’re on the couch… just as I should be.” He yawned and leaned his head back against the counter, wishing the morning would come so he could pick up and move on without complaint, without reason, without anything but title.
Heroes didn’t have problems.