The Second Incarnation Part 19
In Pursuit of Madness
By Shelly Ichishita
Cloud sat silently on the damp grass in front of Cid's house. He buffed his blade with a soft rag; the repetitive action helped clear his mind. Ten minutes had passed before he set the gleaming metal aside. Images and voices flickered and flared behind his closed eyelids. His mother's eyes, Zack's cheerful laugh, Aeris' footsteps as she ran towards the city of the Ancients. One scene stood out from the others; the Princess Guard poised over Tifa's head. Cloud drew his knees up to his chest. He had been helpless to stop Ellie, just like he couldn't stop Sephiroth from destroying Nibelheim and killing his mother. Just like he couldn't help Zack or Aeris.
I was wrong, Cloud told himself. I was wrong to think that I could change my life. No one that cared about him was safe. He didn't want to be alone anymore, but he had to leave for his friends' sake. Oh, he desperately wanted to stay, but he knew that he would do anything to avoid the hollow feeling that the deaths of his mom, Zack and Aeris had created in his chest. That's when he decided to go after Hojo and Ellie, alone. His plan lifted his spirits and he thought about staying another day, but if he didn't go now he might never leave.
Cid walked out of the house and after glancing around furtively; proceeded to light up a cigarette. Cloud hoped that Cid hadn't seen him but the grizzled pilot made his way over to the patch of grass where Cloud sat. Cid bent down. "Feeling better?" he asked between quick puffs.
"Yeah." Cloud stood and brushed the seat of his pants off. "How's Shera doing?"
"Shera's doing great. She's up and about now, that's why I had to sneak out here to take a smoke." Cid exhaled. "Ah, pure heaven. You want a puff?"
"No thanks." Cloud sheathed his sword and slung his pack over his left shoulder.
Cid leaned against the house and assessed his friend. He ground the burnt out cigarette beneath his heel. "You mind telling me where you're off to?"
"Yes, I do." Cloud gazed at the retreating sun. He spoke without facing Cid, "could you say goodbye to the guys for me?"
"Because I'm dangerous to be around! That's why." Cloud couldn't believe that Cid even had to ask.
Cid straightened his back. "Are you being controlled again?"
Cloud exhaled deeply. "No, but I am a danger to everyone I come near. Hojo is determined to get me as a test subject, Ellie wants to kill me and they'll use all of you to get to me."
"Cloud, sometimes you are such an egotistical asshole it amazes me."
Cloud spun around in shock. That had been the last thing he expected Cid to say. "What was that?"
"I said you're an egotistical asshole. Didn't you ever think that maybe Hojo would come after Aeris or Lucretia? Or that maybe Ellie would try to kill Tifa again?"
Cloud shook his head. "When I leave you'll all be safe. I'm the last viable source of Jenova cells; most of the Jenova cells Lucretia received were injected into Sephiroth before she gave birth. Hojo obviously has a supply of Certa cells, how else could he have created Ellie? And Ellie only tried to kill Tifa to hurt me. Once I'm gone you can all go back to your lives."
Cid flicked open his lighter and lit another cigarette. "What if you're wrong? What happens then?"
"I'm not wrong." Cloud started walking out of Rocket town.
Cid ran into the house, slamming the door behind him. He had an idea of where Cloud was going and he wasn't going to let him go alone.
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