Final Fantasy VII: 25 Years After the Fact Chapter 1


By The Ionic Butterfly

Cloud Strife sat at the breakfast table still clad in his pajamas. He was reading the front page of the "Neo-Midgar Daily" while Tifa was begging him to put on a shirt because it was too cold. His hair had not been combed yet it looked hardly different from its normal messy condition. His eldest son Tomas was quietly eating his breakfast while smiling at his father.

It was Tomas' face on the front page of the paper. "In His Father's Footsteps," the headline read. It told the story of how a few days before, Tomas had saved a small boy and three kittens from a fire. He was being called a hero by the article.

Cloud was reading it when suddenly cloth fell over his eyes. "Put that on before you catch your death of cold!" Tifa said stiffly. Cloud muttered something under his breath about Tifa getting up on the wrong side of the bed and obliged.

"Proud of you, son," Cloud said to Tomas. Tomas beamed and pushed his glasses up on his nose. A stubborn lock of brown hair fell from his neatly combed ponytail into his blue eyes. He tried to blow it out of his face. "How's it feel to be a hero?" Cloud asked.

"Dad, I'm not really a hero. They blew that story all out of proportion. I passed a house and heard a boy screaming. Since I saw smoke, I climbed in through a window and grabbed him. The little sadistic boy had the cats tied up in a bag. I pulled him out and bam! People call me hero. I actually think he was trying to burn the cats alive and that's how the fire started."

Cloud smirked and shook his head. Tifa stuck her head in the hallway leading towards the bedrooms. "Amadeus Strife! Get in here and get your breakfast!" she hollered. She sat down at the table and sighed. "You really ought to talk to him about staying up so late at night," she said to Cloud. Grey streaks had set into her extremely long brown hair shortly after giving birth to Amadeus, and since having children she had started to wear looser t-shirts and jeans.

"He's your son," Cloud retorted as his younger son Amadeus walked into the kitchen.

"What have I done now?" he asked as he walked to his mother. He kissed her cheek as he did every morning and quietly said, "Morning, Mother," into her ear. His silver-white hair hung evenly down to his shoulders, but unlike Tomas' stayed out of his bright deep-set emerald eyes.

Tifa smiled for the first time that morning and poured Deus a glass of juice. "I want you to quit staying up so late at night," she said sweetly.

"I don't stay up that late. I get plenty of sleep," he replied. He saw the front of the paper as Cloud turned the page. "You've got to be kidding me. A hero?"

"That's right. A hero," Cloud said, lowering the paper to look at Deus. The look on Cloud's face warned him not to tease any further.

Deus pushed his tongue in the side of his mouth and looked to his brother. "Congratulations," he said.

"Oh, right. Like you mean that," Tomas quipped back.

Cloud looked to Tomas sternly. Tomas sighed and muttered a thank you to Deus.

Deus grinned at his brother, and Tifa kicked him under the table. He let out a small "Ow!" and then heard the mail fall onto the floor above thier heads. "Aeris' invite is supposed to be here today!" he said excitedly, and jumped up from the table to rush upstairs.

"He's right. I'm not a hero," Tomas said sadly. He had already known it, but it hurt to hear someone actually agree.

"Did he say that?" Tifa asked.

"Mom, he never says anything, he just implies it. And he gets away with it," Tomas said.

"Maybe you're imagining it," she said.

"Honey, would you quit it! Quit covering for him. You know darn well what Tomas is saying is true," Cloud said.

"Well Tomas, you used to do the same thing to Aeris," Tifa said truthfully. "What goes around comes around. But sugar, you are a hero. You've always been a hero in your father's heart and in mine."

Tomas grinned shyly and fiddled with his glasses again.

Deus walked back into the kitchen smiling. He handed Cloud the mail while holding one piece in his hand. He had already read it twice and was working on a third time. "Southern Temple College is proud to invite the Strife family to the opening night of the first production of the classic play 'Loveless' in 25 years. The play stars Ms. Aeris Lockheart-Strife and Mr. Lucas Neko who will be making their stage debuts," he read. "Then it goes on to tell times and stuff," he said.

Cloud sighed. While Deus had been looking forward to receiving the invite, Cloud had been dreading it. He and Tifa had worked hard to be able to send Aeris to college and she was spending that money by studying the art of acting. He didn't want to believe it when she had called him from school and told him she wanted to act on the stage at the Gold Saucer. He was still trying to rebel against it. But with that invite...

Tifa had been more accepting of it. While she felt Aeris could do more, she knew it was what Aeris wanted and hoped it was just a phase as so many things with Aeris was.

Tomas, who had always played the game of sibling rivalry with Aeris, would go to watch his sister for honor and support, but acted as if he really didn't care what she did with her life as long as she wasn't harming herself or others.

Amadeus knew his family didn't like him. Tifa was only covering since she knew there was no love for him. Only Aeris cared for him. When she had left over a year before for college, his life had turned lonely. Any chance he had to see her he looked forward to. Her acting debut was sure to make him that much prouder of her.

"You're still going, right Father?" Deus asked as he finally laid the invitation down on the table.

"Yes, we're still going," Cloud answered, emphasizing the word "we're."

Deus chose not to bring up the arguement he had been in with his father before over whether or not he would go to the play regardless of the rest of the family's attendance. He shoved some toast into his mouth.

"How long do we have to stay?" Tomas asked.

"Not sure just yet. Probably the weekend," Cloud answered.

Deus looked crestfallen. "That's all?" he groaned.

Tifa looked at the clock on the wall. "Boys, it's about time for you to get going. You're going to be late for your classes," she said.


"Here's the mail, Mayor Wallace," Janie, the secretary, said as she laid the mail on Barret's desk.

Barret turned around in his swivel chair and winked at the young Janie. "You did sort it, didn't ya?" he asked.

"Yes sir. Only the things that looked important are there," she said, smiling sweetly, not minding the old mayor's flirtations.

Barret picked up the small pile of mail deemed important. "Bill... tax exemption plea... Damn I gotta talk to that girl about importance. This is gettin' outta control... Hey hey hey, what's this?" he said, finding a beige envelope addressed to "Mr. Uncle Mayor Barret Wallace." A smile crossed his lips as he recognized the handwriting.

He ripped into the invitation and read it. He thought for a minute, then pressed a button on his intercom system. "Yes, Mayor Wallace?" Janie asked through it.

"Get in here, will ya?" he asked.

Janie was there in a few moments, pen and paper in hand. "What can I do, sir?" she asked.

He handed her the invitation and let her read it. "Clear my scheldule and make it happen, Janie," he said.

"Yes, sir."

"And if you stop with the 'yes, sir' sh*t, you can try to make reservations for yourself and your new lil boyfriend courtesy of the mayor's office," he added.

She grinned wildly. "Yes, si... s...." she stammered for a way to make up for it.

Barret laughed. Janie was determined though. "Yes, studly Mr. Mayor," she finally spat out and winked leaving the office.

Barret laughed shaking his head, wondering how little Aeris was doing at college.


"Yet he held them off so that they could not take over Cosmo Canyon. And that is the story of the great and courageous Seto," Nanaki finished with pride. He looked up at the stars and watched them twinkle.

"Tell us another story!" one child cried out. "Yes, another! Tell us about the evil Sephiroth!" another child chimed.

Nanaki chuckled a bit, and looked at the children gathered with him around the fire. "That's enough to fill your minds for one night. Go home and go to sleep. Maybe I'll tell another truth tomorrow night."

"Truth?" one girl asked.

"Yes, truth. They are not stories. They are truths. Now all of you, go home," he replied.

The kids groaned but stood and slowly began to make their ways home. Nanaki enjoyed teaching the young kids of their forefathers' pasts. He inched closer to the fire reflecting on the tale he had just told and closed his eyes. He let out a small yelp when something tapped him on the back.

"Oh, I'm so sorry, Nanaki, but I forgot my mother gave me this to give to you," one of the older boys said as he pulled a letter from his jacket.

Nanaki took a minute to calm himself since the boy had given him quite a scare. He looked at the envelope to see it was from Southern Temple College, and addressed to Red XIII. He smelled Aeris' scent from the letter.

"Would you mind opening it for me, please?"

The boy obliged, and laid the open invitation on the ground before Nanaki. "Your father sounds as brave as you, Nanaki," he said before running off. The comment caught him off guard, but he smiled inwardly and then read the invite.

"I expect a great big hug after the play!" Aeris had scribbled at the bottom.

Nanaki looked back up at the stars. "And that you shall get."


Shera, Marlene, and Marlene's husband Patrick all three received invitations just out of formality. Aeris knew they would not be able to attend because of the testings of a new prototype rocketship. The three had sent plenty of gil to Tifa for her to buy flowers for Aeris though.


"Gin," Cait Sith said, putting his cards down.

Reeve glared at the stuffed cat and mog, regretting the decision to make him a near free-thinking robot. "You're cheating," he claimed.

"I learn only from you, Mr. Prezzie," the Cait Sith said grinning.

"Well, at least you learn from the best then."

"That's a matter of opinion."

Reeve rolled his eyes, deciding to find out if Cait Sith had a 'smart-ass chip' implanted. "Put the cards up."

"But you lost. I don't have to take orders from the loser," Cait Sith said. He handed the cards to Reeve. "Care to play some dice?"

"No!" Reeve answered seriously. Cait Sith began to laugh. He sighed and shook his head. He had to remember that Cait Sith did have his mind after all and that somehow he was still controlling him. "No, Cait Sith. I need to see if those new reports on the particle concentration theory have actually found anything."

"Do you really believe that they are anything other than a waste of taxpayers' gil?" Cait Sith asked.

Before Reeve realized it, he answered, "Not really." He looked to Cait Sith before he realized that it had asked his the same question on his mind. Of course, it WAS his mind. He walked to his computer desk where he had placed a stack of papers and a few pieces of mail. As Reeve opened a folder and began looking at the classified information, Cait Sith grabbed the mail and began shuffling.

"I think you might want to take a look at this," Cait Sith said seriously.

Reeve's mind, dead serious with the thought of particle concentration, looked to Cait Sith with alarm. The cat/mog handed him an envelope. His mind didn't catch on when he read the letter was from Southern Temple College. "But they don't even know about the theory of particle concentration down there," he said tearing into the letter.

Cait Sith watched knowing exactly what the letter was. "Oh," Reeve said when he realized what it was. "Geez, you could have told me and spared me the heart attack!" He smiled as he read the invitation.

"Can I go?" Cait Sith asked.

"I don't think Aeris would let me in without you," Reeve answered smiling, wishing he had gotten married and had a daughter.


"Yes, I know that.... Look, it's nothing personal! Wutai is NOT a tourist attraction. Unless you were born here, you cannot have your wedding and honeymoon here... Well, I'm sorry if it's all your fiance has ever dreamed of... I'm not about to jeopardize everything I've accomplished just to make two people I don't know happy for a week... I wish you both the best but you cannot be married here. Have a nice day," Yuffie said into the phone and hung up promptly.

She sighed. There was no way that she could be linient towards anyone with the rules. It wasn't her fault that the man's fiance had chosen the wrong place for a wedding. She laid back down onto her mat and closed her eyes. A knock came at the door.

She sat back up quickly jumping up on her feet. She walked to the door and opened it. No one was there. She looked down and saw a small bouquet of flowers in a vase. She smiled and picked them up, sniffing them. Her mind swam with the thought of a single man as she turned around.

She jumped when she bumped into someone. She punched him in the gut out of reflex, and the man doubled over and took a few steps back. Yuffie laughed and shut the door when she realized who it was. She put her vase on a small table and sat down beside the man who had fell to the floor.

"I didn't hit you that hard. Come on, I thought you were a man," Yuffie laughed.

Ryouji looked up at her with a hint of malice in his eyes. "You seemed pretty sure I was last night," he muttered. He sucked in a deep breath as Yuffie's face turned red.

"You shouldn't sneak up on me like that! You know better," Yuffie said, suddenly not worried about him anymore. She stood up and walked into another room. "What do you want anyway?"

Ryouji grunted and climbed to his feet following her. "I just wanted to see you. Is that too much to ask?"

Yuffie looked at him. "You really want an answer to that?" She wondered how much longer he'd keep away from her.

"Yuf...I...Aw, hell," he said before rushing to her side and encircling her with his arms for a long deep kiss. As he pulled away, he pulled something from his pocket. "I just wanted to bring you your mail," he said, placing it in her hands and leaving.

"Ryouji, wait!!!" Yuffie called. He turned around long enough to to smile and wave at her before running off.

She sighed and sat down on her floor looking through the mail. She recognized Lucas' handwriting on the letter addressed to her. As she opened and read the invitation, she shook her head. Lucas had carefully printed at the bottom, "Dear Master Kisaragi, I know this isn't what you planned on me doing, but it is fun and very eye-opening. Please try to attend. Miss Lockheart-Strife also asked me to send her love. Love, Your Lucas."

Acting? In a play? Lucas? She had let him go to college in attempt to find what he really wanted to do with his life. She had faith in the gods that he would be guided to do what he needed to do. But with his nature, was acting the best path for him to be on?

She stared at the two tickets and wondered what Ryouji would be doing on that night.


Aeris took a deep breath and looked deep into Lucas' dark green eyes. He stared back into hers and licked his lips. "I love you," he whispered.

"Don't go. Stay here. Please don't leave me because I'm so scared you'll never come back," she pleaded with great emotion in her voice.

Lucas leaned in closer to her, tightening his arms around her. "I don't want to," he said, swallowing. As he looked into her eyes and moved his mouth closer to hers, he saw she was beginning to smile which sent him into giggles.

Aeris rolled her eyes and pushed him away as he began apologizing and laughing at the same time. "Lucas! I swear!" she said, grinning and folding her arms. She shrugged when the director Benito came onto the stage and gave her a frown. "It wasn't me that time," she said smiling.

"Lucaz, Lucaz, Lucaz.....Where iz your consentraysiown? What iz zee problim?" Benito asked. It was the third time they had tried to do the scene they had saved for the last to rehearse. For some reason, it came down to the same point before Aeris or Lucas messed up: the actual kissing. "Tell me what iz zee problim."

Lucas shook his head. "I just.... She's my best friend, Benito! Do you know how hard it is to kiss your best friend?" he asked grinning.

"When you have a best friend lookin' like her, I zee no problim."

Aeris laughed. "You don't know her that well then," Lucas retorted.

"Fine. Zen git it out of your systim. Kizz her now so you will not git nervouz again," Benito said.

Aeris closed her eyes and pursed her lips out which sent Lucas into another fit of laughter.

"Zis iz a very zerious zene. You two are being very zilly, and I zink zat zere is anozer reazon behind zis madness," Benito said.

Lucas calmed himself. "Benito, this is weird for me, okay? I've never kissed a girl before in my life, and I'm absolutely paralyzed by the thought," he honestly admitted quietly so that the spectators could not hear.

Aeris heard though, and looked surprised by the confession. Lucas avoided her gaze.

"Zare it iz. Zat iz zee problim. But zink Lucaz. Zink. Look at Aeriz. Iz she not beautiful? Many studentz would pay much gil to be in your shoez. Now I want you two to calm yourzelves, and zink about your roles. I need zis scene to go right just zis once, and zen it will need no more rehearzal until the actual play, becauze I trust my two starz. I want you to imagine you do love her Lucaz, and very deeply. And Aeriz, you love him just zee zame. And he iz leaving for a cold dark war from which you are certain he will not return... Take a moment to set into ze roles. Now I'm going to zit back down offstage and you two begin when you are ready," Benito coached.

Lucas took a deep breath and looked at Aeris. "We have to get serious now," he said. Aeris nodded and put her arms around him.

After a few moments, Aeris opened her eyes to look deeply into Lucas'. A new look glazed over his eyes. She knew the scene was going to happen when he touched her face with the back of his hand. "I love you," he said quietly.

"Don't go. Stay here. Please don't leave me because I'm so scared if you go you'll never come back," she pleaded again.

Lucas shook his head slightly as he said, "I don't want to go." He moved in closer to her face. "I love you so much," he added in a choked voice staring straight into her eyes before lowering his lips to hers.

The shock of the feeling rushed through Aeris' body. She hadn't expected to enjoy kissing him. He was caressing her face with his thumb as he kissed her, and she couldn't help but to tighten her grip on his shoulder. She nearly forgot she was supposed to start crying. Yet how was she supposed to conjure up something to make her cry during a feeling much more wonderful than she had ever felt? Lucas was right. It was strange kissing your best friend. She was enjoying this more that she should be...

Aeris' problem solved themselves when Lucas pulled away slowly and she opened her eyes to see he was crying. He wasn't supposed to be crying yet! His tears looked so real and the look on his face seemed so full of pain... Her eyes welled up instantly as her hand reached up to wipe his tears.

"You can't go!" she cried out.

"Hush and stop fighting," he said.

"I'll wait for you always...," she said.

"This feels like a fading dream, you know? It's just a fading dream," he cried.

"Even if you never come back, I'll wait for you always. And I'll love you as long as eternity will let me. "

Lucas just looked at her as they both kept crying. "I love you so much," he finally repeated, and buried his head into her shoulder. "It's just a fading dream," he kept mumbling over and over, letting sadness wash completely over him and giving into the the tears fully.

Aeris held him close, feeling his body shaking with each sob, and feeling her heart wretch each time his body shook. She realized suddenly the act was over, and he wasn't crying in his role anymore.

"Beautiful! Wonzerful! Marvelous!" Benito was applauding from his seat. He stood and raced onto the stage.

"I can't stop, Aeris," Lucas said still crying.

"I know, I'll cover," Aeris said.

"Zat waz wonzerful!" Benito said. Then he locked eyes with Aeris. She shook her head. He looked at Lucas and nodded with understanding. "You two go back to zee drezzing roomz and take a rest."

"Come on, Lucas," Aeris whispered to him as she led him backstage.

Once in his dressing room, Lucas sat down on a couch and placed his head in his hands. "I'm sorry, Aeris. I can't... I really have to get this out now that I've started...," he said in a choked voice.

Aeris sat down beside him and placed an arm around him. "Then get it out. But let me help you through it," she said. Lucas looked up at her with a blotchy red face and buried his head back into her shoulder. Dear Ancients, what was he thinking of to make him cry so hard?

Lucas' body trembled as he tried to gain control of himself. Aeris held him close and kissed his head in a soothing manner in hopes of calming him down. After a few minutes passed, his tears and sobs began to slow. Aeris sensed this and took advantage. "Talk about hamming it up, Lucas! Ever hear of overacting?" she chided quietly.

Lucas had to let out a small laugh. He sat up slowly and pressed his palms into his eyes. He sighed deeply, glad it was over with. Aeris handed him a tissue and smiled.

"Don't ever think of what you thought of to make you cry again!" she said.

"I wasn't thinking," Lucas answered, then cleared his throat. "Think Benito liked it though?" he asked looking at her finally.

"Yeah, I really think he did. But are you okay now? You had me really worried," Aeris replied.

"Oh sure. I'm fine. Thanks me out there," he said.

A knock came at the door. "Lucaz?" Benito called.

"Come in, Director," he answered.

Benito entered still smiling. "You two must hold that very essenze for zee play! Zat waz wonzerful!"

Aeris beamed and Lucas grinned. "You must learn to calm down quickly though, Lucaz. You will only have a few moments to calm down and change your costume," Benito warned. Lucas nodded in reply. "Now. We are done with you two for today. Go and have zome fun," Benito said. "Ozer cast memberz are not az gifted az you two," he grumbled.

When Benito left, Lucas looked to his watch. "Lunch?" he asked Aeris.

She nodded. "And don't do that on opening night!" she said with a quick sigh, causing Lucas to grin. If only she knew...


Aeris awoke when a ray of sunlight hit her squarely in the eyes. Two weeks had past since the day she kissed Lucas, and the memory shone in her mind almost as bright as the sun in her eyes. She felt her stomach knot up as she realized it was opening day.

All her life she had tried so many things, but acting really set into her style. Her father couldn't understand, but it had always been her dream to act in the Gold Saucer. Now that she was away from her father, she could pursue her acting dream. Yet she was as nervous as a long-tailed mog in a room full of rocking chairs.

She threw her blankets back and put her feet on her grey plush floor. She shared her apartment with a girl named Janica. Aeris could hear Janica awake and moving in another room. She stood and walked to her closet, searching for some clothes. A pair of black jeans, a pink sweater, and her sneakers would do nicely.

She pulled on her clothes and looked in a mirror. A near clone of her mother stared back. Many people said that her body frame and face looked exactly like her mother's. But she had her father's blue eyes. She kept her long brown hair pulled back in a ponytail which she purposely spiked at the ends to resemble her father's. She fixed her hair and looked in the mirror, turning this way and that until she was satisfied. Once she saw a hint of the woman she often dreamed of, she smiled at herself and tried to forget about the play.

The doorbell rang, and Aeris was walking out of her bedroom as Janica, dressed in all black as usual, answered the door. She folded her arms and grinned as she saw her brother Amadeus standing there looking dumbfounded at Janica.

"I'm sorry, I was looking for my sister's apartment...," he stammered stopping when he saw Aeris. A giant smile crossed his lips as he pushed past Janica to be the first in his family to hug Aeris. "Aeris!" he yelled out.

She smiled back at her twelve year old brother and hugged him as he nearly leaped into her arms. "Geez, Deus, I'm happy to see you too!" she laughed. She saw her mother walk in next with Tomas and Cloud right behind her.

She hugged each family member hello and noticed how much taller both Tomas and Deus had gotten over the three months it had been since she had seen them. Tifa set to looking around her apartment after they had been introduced to Janica.

"Any of you hungry? I was cooking breakfast," Janica said. Tomas and Cloud were commanded by their stomachs to follow her to the kitchen.

"Well, um, Mom? Did you get to the hotel okay?" Aeris asked.

"Hmm? Oh yes, sweetie, we did. So this is where you live," Tifa said, looking at the books on the shelves.

Aeris sighed and looked to Deus. She felt so distant from her family ever since she started college.

Deus rolled his eyes at his mother's vague replies. "We got to fly here in the President's Airship One. That was really neat," he said.

"So Reeve came?" Aeris asked smiling.

"Yes, he and Cait Sith are back at the hotel. He said to send his love because he couldn't come here with us, but he'll be there tonight. Are you nervous?" Deus asked.

Aeris nodded with wide eyes. "Oh, Daddy!" she called remembering something suddenly. She went to the kitchen. "Uncle Barret got here yesterday. He's in room 298 at the hotel. He wanted you to call him when you got here," she said.

Cloud smiled at her. "Thanks, I'll do that."

Janica looked to Aeris and shook her head grinning.

"Told ya," Aeris said, refering to the weirdness of her family.


Bonnalee nuzzled her head against Lucas' chin, then licked his face in efforts to wake him. "Meow," she called softly. Lucas stirred, only to push the cat from his chest. Bonnalee jumped right back up. She hissed when Lucas lifted his head to look at her.

"Five more minutes," he begged. A quick nip on his wrist told him no. "All right, all right," he muttered, yawning loudly. Bonnalee jumped to the floor and sat watching him as he sat up and stretched, yawning some more.

Lucas looked back at the cat. "Go make some coffee," he tried. "How many times have I told you not to wake me without making coffee?"

Bonnalee jumped back onto the mat and began to rub herself against him, purring loudly. "Oh yeah, that's right. Make up for it," he laughed as he scratched her head. "Tonight's my big night, Bonnalee. Think mother will come?"

The cat just purred in response. Lucas finally stood up and rolled the mat up, placing it under his bed. The bed was a nice touch to his apartment, but he was too used to mats since he grew up in Wutai. He placed his blankets neatly on the foot of his bed and headed into the kitchen to make some coffee. The sight at the kitchen table caught him by surprise.

"Master Kisaragi!" he exclaimed, bowing his head immeadiately to her, and smiling broadly. He rose back up after a few moments. "You came!"

"Well of course I did. I couldn't miss this for anything," Yuffie answered, standing to hug him.

"Wait a moment, how did you get in here? The door was locked," Lucas said. He lived alone in his apartment. No one else had a key but him.

"I have my ways," she grinned.

He cocked his head to the side and grinned at her. "Well, how are you, mother?" he asked quietly when they were seated.

"Doing quite well. I'm anxious to see the play though. I've wanted to see it ever since I heard about it, but the last time it was playing the near end of the world kinda kept me from it," she answered.

Lucas heard the toilet in his bathroom flush and he raised an eyebrow. "You brought him with you, did you?" he teased.

"Don't start young man," she said sternly.

Lucas grinned as Ryouji came into the kitchen. They both bowed their heads to each other in greeting. Lucas kept his stare on Ryouji.

"Are we going to play this game again, Lucas?" Ryouji asked grinning back finally. Even though it was kept very secret from the people of Wutai, Ryouji was the closest thing to a husband Yuffie would ever have and the closest thing to a father Lucas would ever have. As Lucas got older though, they became more of friends than father and son. Lucas often teased him and Yuffie about the secrets they kept.

"Nah, I guess not. I'm glad you came," Lucas said, standing up to hug Ryouji. He suddenly realized he was in his pajamas and had not even combed his hair. He looked down at his clothes and to Yuffie.

"I love the fashion statement," she commented.

"Be right back," Lucas said smiling and heading back to his room.


Aeris sat in her dressing room. She as more anxious than nervous at the moment. A silver-mirrored music box was open playing the song written for the woman she was name for, Aeris Gainsborough. The music was calming her as she stared blankly at her reflection in the mirror. She hummed along softly and caked on a little more make-up.

A timid knock at her door woke her from her reveries. "Yes?" she called.

Lucas peeped his head in. "May I?" he asked.

Aeris nodded and Lucas entered. She saw him and nearly laughed. "No make-up cracks, please..." he begged.

" No, never," she giggled. His make-up made him slightly resemble a clown. His blush was too dark and his lipstick way too red.

Lucas shook his head and tugged at his collar. "How did they stand to wear these things?" he asked.

"I don't think they did. I think that the costume-maker wanted to see how girlie he could make the men look," Aeris said grinning.

He grinned back. "Funny. I just came to see if you could calm me down some. I'm nervous if you couldn't tell."

"I'm not sure that I'm nervous. But sit down and close your eyes. Listen to the music," she suggested.

Lucas pulled a chair up beside her and sat down. He closed his eyes and found enough peace within the music to meditate, which calmed his fluttering stomach greatly. "Aeris?"


"I hope everything goes wonderful tonight," he said.

"Don't we all."

"No, I mean...," he stopped, scaring himself with what he almost admitted.


He sighed quickly to cover. "Nothing. I'm just being too pesimistic, I guess."

"Well quit it! We're gonna do great," Aeris said, smiling at him. She took his hand in hers and patted it reassuringly.

He looked down startled at their hands, then relaxed. He turned his hand to grip hers gently. Nope, it wasn't going to be a problem bringing his tears up tonight. His heart was wide open.

As if reading his mind, Aeris asked, "What do you think about to make you cry so hard?" she asked.

"Tell you later," he said.


Lucas sighed then grinned. "Sure thing, but I'm warning you now. My definition of later may be somewhat different than yours," he chuckled. He was feeling better, the play nearly forgotten.

Aeris rolled her eyes when a knock came at her door. "Yeah?" she called.

Janica, dressed in a long black dress, peeped her head in. She was the prompter and narrator. "Five minutes to show time. Lucas, you're needed in the wings," she said. She saw their hands together. "Wait a minute, what are you two up to? she asked grinning with wide eyes.

Aeris' jaw dropped and she threw a powder puff at Janica. It hit Janica's black dress, leaving a big white spot.

"Aeris!" Janica screamed and Lucas and Aeris giggled. Aeris immeadiately got a tissue and helped Janica get the powder off. "Sleep with you eyes open tonight, girlfriend," Janica warned and left with a grin.

"Well, I guess this it," Lucas said.

"Break a leg," Aeris said, and smiled reassuringly at him.

"Thanks, you too," he muttered and left the room.

Aeris sighed as the door shut and turned back to her mirror. "This is gonna be awesome," she said to herself as she smiled.


"This is gonna be awesome," Deus said from his seat in the second row. His family and friends surrounded him. He had enjoyed talking with his sister and seeing her college all day, but he really wanted her to show Cloud what she was about. The moment Cloud realized that Aeris wasn't going to be who he wanted her be would be priceless to Deus.

"I'm gonna laugh when she gets stage fright," Tomas said, fiddling with his tie on the suit he was forced to wear.

"Tomas!" Cloud and Tifa said together.

"What? If she chokes, I will laugh," he said.

"You do and it's your ass. I don't care if you are sixteen, you're still my son and you will behave," Cloud warned quietly in his son's ear.

Tomas' eyes went wide and he shut up for a few seconds. "This is going to be so boring," he muttered.

"How can it be? Tomas, this play is a classic!" Tifa said.

Tomas folded his arms and slouched in his chair. "I want to go back home."

"You are so ungrateful. How many of your science fairs did she go to without ever complaining?" Deus asked.

"Shut up, Amadeus," Tomas muttered with his eyes closed.

"Both of you cool it. Right now," Tifa warned.

Deus didn't let his brother get to him and turned his attention back to the heavy black curtain pulled over the stage.

Tomas sulked in his own misery, wanting to be anywhere but there. He loved his sister, sure, but this sort of cultural event really grated on his nerves. And a play about love and war? Two subjects he really hated... Love, in his mind, was only a myth. War was senseless and stupid. The whole play was going to be a sham.

Cloud was anxious to get it over with too. He feared Aeris would choke onstage, and he didn't want to see his little girl get embarrassed. It was unnerving him inside. He remembered his short-lived acting career the night Cait Sith had stolen the keystone from him. It had been fun though. Even though he prayed this acting was a phase, he crossed his fingers where no one could see for her success.

Tifa wanted to yank her two sons up and take them by the ear to the hallway and teach them how to behave in public. The stares of the people seated around them was beginning to get on her nerves. She knew she would have a stern talking with them later. She blew a stubborn silver strand of hair from her eyes and folded her arms.

Suddenly the lights in the auditorium began to dim to black and a loud click was heard as a white spotlight appeared on the stage. A girl with long honey blonde hair dressed in a long black dress walked from one of the stages wings to the spotlight. She waited for the hush to fall over the crowd completely before speaking.

"Welcome everyone to Southern Temple College's premiere performance of 'Loveless.' Last seen on the stage of the Gold Saucer nearly twenty-five years ago, this play stars Miss Aeris Lockheart-Strife as Maria and Mister Lucas Neko as Draco. For everyone's enjoyment and the thespians' comfort, we ask that you refrain from talking, using flash photography, and moving during the play. We are very excited to have each and every one of you here. So without further ado, we proudly give to you, 'Loveless.'"

As Janica left the stage, the curtains began to move to the sides. Six men were seated around a table while one man paced behind the man wearing a crown. Lucas as Draco, the pacing man, waited until the curtains were fully drawn before speaking.

{The play begins here. Anything within brackets is set cues, and anything written in parenthesis will be either Aeris' or Lucas' real thoughts.}

"It's true then. We're at war," Draco said, stopping his pacing near the king.

"It was a mutual agreement," Edgar, the king of the West, said, turning to face Draco. "With you on our side, we can't possibly lose."

"Your highness, with all due respect, please don't be so gullible," Draco said, sitting down in his chair to the right of the king.

"He's right, King Edgar," spoke Lothar, one of the king's highest generals. "We make a good small army. All the soldiers are dedicated to the cause and are very well trained. We're well equipped for our purposes. But my lord, against the army of the East?"

"Lothar, hold your tongue!" chirped the Chancellor.

"No, Chancellor, the young general is right. Yet even though the chances of us winning are scarce, we must put up the best fight possible. If we don't, then our own pride has been defeated too," Edgar retorted.

"This land is where I was born and raised by the ways of the East. I love this land and have been willing to lay down my life for it at any time. I want to grow old here and die here like my father. I want to raise my children here. I'm not about to stand by and watch it taken from me. Now Lothar, if you and your troops want to hand this land to Prince Ralse and his greedy Easterners on a silver platter, you just keep thinking that way. Edgar, if you want your daughter Maria living in that kind of enviroment, you believe what Lothar says. But they will only get this land over my dead body!" Draco proclaimed before storming offstage.

"But didn't he just tell me not to be so gullible?" the king asked, scratching his head.

A silence fell for a moment. "I'll talk with him, my lord. We'll map out the battle plans with Lothar and present them to you for approval by sunrise," a man named Colt said.

Edgar thought for a moment. "Chancellor, see that a message gets sent to Ralse. Make sure he knows he takes my lands over my dead body too," he said.

"My lord! Is that really a wise desicion?" the Chancellor squealed back.

"You heard me. My dead body," the king repeated.

{The stage darkens, and one can vaguely see actors and stagehands changing sets. After a few moments, the lights brighten. Draco, Colt, and Lothar are standing beside a map on a wall covered with red x's and black lines. Maria is seated in a chair with her head fallen to the side as she peacefully sleeps.}

Draco yawned and nodded while Colt was repeating the entire tactical plan for the first attacks and defense lines. It was very early in the morning. "And that's about all we can do tonight. I think taking the initiative and striking first is the best way to go though. Right now, we should just go to bed. Edgar won't expect a report until sunrise. We have a few hours to sleep," Colt said.

Lothar shook his head. "I don't want to see this place under the control of Ralse," he said.

"I wouldn't be fighting this war if I did," Colt said.

Draco wasn't paying attention to the men anymore. He was smiling and gathering the sleeping Maria into his arms. He kissed her forehead. "I'm putting her to bed and then retiring to my own," he said quietly to the others.

Lothar and Colt nod to Draco as they leave the room, slamming the door behind them. Draco winced as Maria awoke suddenly. "Where....Where am I?" she asked, wiping her eyes with the palms of her hands.

"In my arms," Draco said, laughing softly.

"But what am I doing here?" she asked.

"We've made the plans. I was carrying you to bed."

"You'll be leaving again, won't you?" she said as he put her on her feet.

"Maria...," he started.

She shook her head, a look of pain on her face. "Good night," she said, and ran from the room.

"Maria!" he hollered after her to no avail. He lowered his head. "I'm only doing this for you, my love," he said.

{The lights dim and another set change occurs. The lights brighten and Maria is dressed in a nightgown pacing her room. It is still early that morning. There is a dresser and a canopy bed with the curtain drawn so the audience cannot see the bed. A knock comes at her door.}

Maria stopped her pacing and looked at the door. After a second knock, she sighed loudly and answered it.

Draco stood in the door. "May I?" he asked, gesturing to be let inside the room.

Maria stood aside to let him in and shut the door behind him. "How many times are you going to leave before you finally stay?"

"Maria, listen to me. This is the last time I leave like this. I promise. I'll marry you when I get back from this war," Draco said.

"WAR!? It's WAR!?" Maria exclaimed. She was suddenly very concerned and holding onto Draco's arms.

"Maria....I wasn't supposed to tell you that. Yes, it's war," he said, hugging her close.

"But...You always lead the troops into battle, and with it being war... Draco you can't leave me now!" she sobbed.

"I can't not leave! If Ralse were to win and I had done nothing to stop him, I'd be a coward. We wouldn't be together because you know as well as I that he wants you for his wife! He'd kill me and force you to marry him. If I don't leave to fight, it's almost like I am saying that future is okay for you to live. Trust me, Maria. I'm planning on winning this war. I'll come back, we can get married, and raise a family...," he said, starting to smile as he spoke the last words.

Maria was smiling and blushing. "Do you promise?"

"If you'll believe me, and promise me you won't fret too much, I'll give you my solemn promise," he said, touching her face to reassure her.

"I'll fret, but not too much," she promised.

"I give you my word then. I'll come back, and we'll start a family. It'll be okay," he said. "But for right now, I want you to get in that bed and go to sleep."

Maria nodded and pulled away from him. She turned and went to her bed.

{Maria is now out of sight of the audience, hidden by the bed's curtain.}

Draco headed to the door. "Good night my dearest Maria," he said, blowing her a kiss.

Maria didn't answer, but held out her hand.

{The audience can see her arm and hand.}

Draco smiled and stepped forward to take her hand. He kissed the back of it gently. His eyes widened in surprise as she jerked him to the bed {and out of view}.

Maria giggled.

{The lights dim again and another set change occurs. The lights brighten to show the room with the map on the wall again. The seven men were gathered around the wall pointing and explaining their tactics. Maria has joined them, standing near Draco and listening intently.}

"The preemptive attack on the mountain range is the best idea so far," Lothar said.

"So how soon do we move out?" Edgar asked.

"Sunset, your highness," Colt answered.

"Father, you're going too?" Maria squealed.

"I can't send my men into a battle I wouldn't face myself," Edgar said.

"And you're leaving by sunset!?" she asked.

The Chancellor looked at her. "My lady, this is no place for women," he said gently.

"I'll tell you what to do, all right? Last time I checked, I was the one with the higher rank!" she yelled back.

Draco placed his hand on her shoulder. "Hush, my love. Anger is only going to make it worse. The cards have been played and we must do what we must do."

"Draco...Father... I'll be left here alone!" Maria said.

"You'll have me," the Chancellor said.

Maria shook her head. "But I don't love you!"

Draco stifled a laugh at the look on the Chancellor's face.

"But I look after you as if you were my own child," he said coolly.

Maria hugged Draco and he looked to the Chancellor. "You had best take care of her as if she were while we're away," he said.

The Chancellor nodded. "I will try my best. But you know the young Maria's spirit...," he started.

"Your Highness, with your permission, we'd like to leave and make ready the troops," one of the other men said.

Edgar nodded. Four men including Colt and Lothar left the room.

"And Your Highness, with your permission, I'd like to marry your daughter when we return," Draco said smiling.

"YOU...YOU'D WHAT?" the Chancellor yelled.

"I'd like to take what was given to me a long time ago when I saved her from those six zombones," Draco said, staring at the Chancellor.

"Then so be it. I'd be proud to have you inherit the West's lands and father my grandchildren," Edgar said, smiling at Draco and his daughter.

"You'd both better return to me. I mean it, too!" Maria said, smiling.

"Best of luck to you both," the Chancellor said.

{The lights dim yet again. As the set changes, Janica's voice is heard coming from offstage.}

"The day passed on, the Westerners preparing for the first attacks on the East. Maria tries to remain in good spirits as she follows her father and Draco around helping make preparations. Yet on the West side, another army is making preparations for a preemptive attack too."

{The lights brighten and the background shows a mountain range. Soldiers are bustling about the tents onstage, griping softly and laughing and clanging things together. One man is dressed in a deep brown cape with finer clothes than the other soldiers. Another man stops beside this man.}

"Prince Ralse, the Westerners are mobilizing. We have word from an inside source that they are planning a preemptive attack here in the mountain range by sunset," the man said.

Ralse smiled. "Make sure our inside source is paid generously. And tell these men to get ready for battle. If all goes well, this may be the shortest war in history!" he said beginning to laugh.

"Yes. Well, our source is beginning to get a little paranoid. He's asked that we guarantee his protection," the man said.

"That weenie. Very well, see to it, General," Ralse said.

"Yes, milord, it will be done," the General replied and began to walk away.

"And General?" Ralse called.

"Yes, milord?"

"Make sure Maria is unhurt. If someone lets one hair slip out of place on her beautiful head, I would hope the gods would have mercy on that man's soul for I surely won't."

"Certainly, Sir Ralse. What if we find Draco?" the General said.

"Kill Draco. I want him to die the most dishonorable death possible. And if you come across Edgar, bring him to me alive. To think of the fact that fool would give Maria to Draco instead of me... That's the REAL reason we are going to war to take their lands. It's the only way Maria will be mine," Ralse said.

"And the beauty is that they don't know that," the General said, smirking.

Ralse thought for a minute. "Let them mobilize first. Then send out the giant behemoths followed by the chocobo riders. Let them know the true power of the East. Let them know that Ralse, Prince of the Eastern lands, does not play that game," he said, trying out a phrase he had heard from the younger soldier ranks.

The General gave Ralse a weird look. "Your Highness, with all due respect, that really scared me. You might not want to try that again." He walked off as Ralse folded his arms grinning.

"Well, I tried...," Ralse said.

{The lights fade. Set changes occur and the background resembles the grey stone wall of a castle as it did before. Maria and Draco are once again in her room. They are standing close to one another, holding onto the other's arms.}

Draco raised his hand to touch Maria's cheek. "I love you," he said quietly.

"Don't go. Stay here. Please don't leave me because I'm so scared if you go you'll never come back," Maria pleaded.

Draco shook his head slightly as he said, "All of a sudden, I don't want to go." He moved in closer to her face. "I love you so much," he said just loud enough to be heard. (Aeris and Lucas' hearts were both pounding. Aeris really felt as if he were saying those words to her... She saw his eyes were already glistening. Lucas fought back his trembling when he thought it was showing how much he wanted the kiss.) Draco lowered his head to kiss her gently and sweetly. He raised his hand to the back of her neck to gently touch her there. Maria gave off a small moan. (Aeris surprised herself and wondered if Lucas had heard that. Lucas had heard it, and his heart skipped a beat. He nearly forgot he had to pull away and finish the scene.)

Draco pulled away slowly, tears rolling down his cheeks.

"You can't go!" she cried out.

"Hush and stop fighting," he said.

"I'll wait for you always...," she said.

"This feels like a fading dream, you know? It's just a fading dream," he said looking away from her face.

"Even if you never come back, I'll wait for you always. And I'll love you as long as eternity will let me."

They both kept crying. "I love you so much," he finally repeated, and buried his head into her shoulder. "It's just a fading dream," he kept repeating.

{The lights....duh...fade. Soldiers for the West are now seen, lined up in the mountain range and ready to attack. They are dressed in purple. In the back lines, Edgar and Lothar are seen on chocobos. Colt and Draco are no where to be seen. }

"Draco didn't want to stay behind, Your Highness," Lothar said.

"I know that. But someone had to look after Colt. It is really unfortunate that he broke his arm. Who knew that chocobo was going to go nuts and attack him?" Edgar said.

"True, Your Highness. The men await your word for a charging attack," Lothar said.

Edgar sighed. "This feels like the calm before a storm..."

Suddenly a loud roar was heard, followed by five others. Edgar and Lothar's eyes widened as giant behemoths appear.

{The behemoths are really big puppets, so don't go thinking someone actually tamed behemoths and put them onstage! The chocobos are real, but not the behemoths.}

"Attack!" Edgar cried through his fear. The soldiers ran forward toward the behemoths, screaming and yelling with their swords raised. The two chocobos were warking with surprise, but ready to attack too.

The behemoths swung their mighty arms, knocking down soldiers left and right.. Their heymaker was hardly a match for the puny little swords. One golden one broke through to Edgar as one behemoth fell. Lothar did his best to protect his king but was brushed aside. Edgar's chocobo backed up slowly as the behemoth moved toward it.

{This continues until Edgar atop the chocobo and the Gold Behemoth walk offstage.}

Edgar screamed.

"YOUR HIGHNESS!" Lothar screamed.

{The lights dim once again. Set changes, and when the lights brighten again, Draco is with Colt around a campfire. Both men are quiet looking into the cardboard fire. After a few moments, Colt speaks.}

"I'm sorry I kept you behind," Colt said.

"Don't worry about it. I'm really not ready to fight just yet. Maria's goodbye was pretty tearful. It hurt so damn bad," Draco said.

"How do you think the attack went?"

"I have no idea. I just... Listen! Did you hear that?" Draco said, standing suddenly.

"What? I didn't...Wait...Sounds like... Roaring?" Colt asked.

"Behemoths!" Draco said with rising anger in his voice.

"Behemoths? In this part of the world? They only live in the East... OH DEAR ME!" Colt exclaimed.

"How dare they resort to such tactics! We have to go! The East must have tried the same thing we did!" Draco said.

"Draco, you go. My fighting arm is useless since it's broken. Go and fight well enough for us both!" Colt said.

Draco nodded, gathered his sword and ran off.

"Godspeed, my friend," Colt said. "You'll need it."

{The lights darken. They brighten to show Edgar on his knees in front of Ralse, forceably shoved there with his hands bound behind his back. The General is also there, and the gold behemoth.}

"Ho ho ho, what have we here? A fallen king?" Ralse laughed.

"Go to Hades, Ralse," Edgar spat.

"Your kingdom will soon fall into my hands. Your lands, your castle, and your MARIA will be mine," Ralse said in return.

"NEVER!" Edgar cried out.

"If you want to live, then you'll give me her hand willingly. If you refuse, you die now!" Ralse snarled.

"Then kill me!" Edgar yelled back.

Ralse drew his sword and swiftly obliged, running it straight through his heart.

Edgar clutched at his wound. "Draco...will save her from your slimy grip..." he stammered before falling over dead.

Ralse laughed. "And this Draco is dead by now!" He turned to his General. "Get a couple of men together and hop on some chocobos. Make sure Draco is dead. I want no one to touch Edgar's body. I want it to rot right here."

"Yes, milord," the General said, running off to do his bidding.

"Maria will be mine!" Ralse said, walking to his tent, making sure to walk right over Edgar's dead body as he did. "Edgar did say I'd have his lands over his dead body."

{The lights dim and then brightens again to show Draco on center stage alone. Janica's voice is heard first from offstage.}

"The West and East were waging war. Draco, the West's greatest hero, thinks of his love, Maria. Is she safe? Is she waiting? " the narrator said as Draco looks around holding a bloodstained sword.

Draco looked to his left rather suddenly and loud angry warks of chocobos were heard. Before he could even raise his sword, three Eastern men {including the General} on chocobos were charging at him. They quickly ran him over and Draco fell. The men kept riding on.

{Draco lies very still on the ground. It's almost as if he's dead... After a long moment, he stands shakily and places his hand over his heart.}

"Oh Maria... Oh Maria...Please, hear my voice! How I long to be with you!" he said weakly, obviously fighting to get the words out. He fell to his knees, and then facedown on the ground.

{The curtain closes. Janica speaks.}

"That concludes Act I of the play. Act II will be presented shortly."

Tomas looked at Deus. "He better not be dead!" he whispered harshly.

Deus sat quietly with his mouth slightly open. "Momma? Draco doesn't die, does he?" he asked Tifa.

"I don't know sweetie," she said as she dabbed her eyes dry with a handkerchief Cloud had given her.

The audience sat whispering quietly about the play so far until Janica walked back on stage.

"We now begin Act II. Two months have passed. The forces of the West fell, and Maria's castle was taken. Prince Ralse, of the East, took her hand by force. But she never stopped yearning for Draco."

{Janica exits the stage as the curtains spread to show Maria seated at a desk, scribbling on a piece of paper. Ralse and the Chancellor are talking across the room from her to each other.}

"What is she writing over there, Chancellor?" Ralse asked. "She seems as if she is really deep in thought."

"She told me a poem before she called me a nasty name and telling me to bugger off," the Chancellor said.

"Try talking to her. You're the only one she will talk to. Find out what she is writing and try to get her to let you read what she wrote. If not, take it from her forceably. I don't care anymore. She's to be my bride and she won't even talk with me! Try to convince her to join me for supper tonight," Ralse said, storming off.

The Chancellor sighed. He walked to the desk and sat down across from Maria. She didn't look up, she only kept scribbling. "My lady," he tried.

"Don't talk to me, you creep. I'm busy."

"Care to share your little poem?"

"Never. Go away, traitor, you're ruining my concentration."

"Don't call me traitor. I only did what I did to protect you." The Chancellor ran his hands through his hair in frustration.

"That's what you tell yourself...," Maria said in a singsong voice.

"Maria, you'd have been killed! I didn't want your father to die, nor Draco! I couldn't save them. By being a spy, I could save you!"

"Save it for your gods," Maria muttered.

The Chancellor sighed. "I don't even know what to do with you, Maria," he said.

"Doesn't it even phase you? You let them die! You sent them to their deaths! I hate you! I hate Ralse! I hate just about everything now!" Maria yelled, scribbling onto her paper furiously and then throwing the quill across the room.

"But even though you hate it, you must accept it. Maria, please. Try to have supper with Ralse tonight. Your engagement party is tomorrow night and you two must be on speaking terms," the Chancellor said.

Maria folded the paper up and put it in her pocket. She stood. "It's so hard to pretend I don't care that my fiance is dead. I can't do it. And knowing Ralse is responsible for it..."

"Ralse IS your fiance."

"DRACO is my fiance. And it's kind of human nature to hate someone who has taken something from you. But I'll go to that stupid supper tonight. I've just learned some news that depends upon me being taken care of by Ralse. Now if you'll excuse me," Maria said, making her way out of the room. The paper that she had written the poem on fell from her pocket.

The Chancellor picked up the paper after she left. He slowly opened it and read it to himself. He shook his head and sighed loudly.

{The lights darken. After set change, the lights brighten to show a long dining table with Maria seated at one end and Ralse at the other. Ralse is eating as Maria pokes her fork around her plate.}

"Maria, my lovely, how was your day?" Ralse asked.

"It went well, milord," she answered, shocking Ralse.

"You spoke to me! Does this mean you'll put your hatred for me aside?" Ralse asked.

Maria looked up at him. "I'm trying. But how bad would you hate the man that killed me?"

"Good point. But I didn't kill Draco. The General did. I had him hanged for you. There were strict orders that Draco be left alive," Ralse lied.

Maria stayed quiet.

"You know, I saw you working very hard on a poem today. And the Chancellor found it lying on the floor... How about I call him in here to read it aloud? I'm sure with your intelligence it's very beautiful," Ralse said, ringing a bell to call the Chancellor in.

Maria's eyes went wide as she dropped her fork. "NO!" she yelled.

"Now now, milady, there's no reason to be modest!" Ralse said as the Chancellor entered.

"But milord!" she cried out.

"Read it," Ralse told his friend.

The Chancellor gave Maria an apologetic smile before he began. "Oh my hero, so far away now, will I ever see your smile? Love goes away, like night into day, it's just a fading dream... I'm the darkness, you're the stars. Our love is brighter than the sun. For eternity, for me there can be, only you, my chosen one... Must I forget you? Our solemn promise? Will autumn take the place of spring? What shall I do? I'm lost without you. Speak to me once more! We must part now. My life goes on. But my heart won't give you up. Ere I walk away, let me hear you say, I meant as much to you... So gently, you touched my heart. I will be forever yours. Come what may, I won't age a day. I'll wait for you always."

"You still think he's alive, don't you?" Ralse snarled.

Maria was crying. "My heart seems to think so, yes!"

"Tomorrow night, you will attend the party. You will dance with me. You will act as if you love me. I tire of these games with you. I have tried to let you come about it in your own way, but I can wait no longer. I will use force, Maria," Ralse snarled. He stormed out of the room.

Maria looked to the Chancellor. "Will you still protect me now? Tell me! Will you or are you truly a traitor?"

"Milady... There's not much I can do... But I will try... But you must try, too. Just try to act along with him. Try to accept it as the rest of the West is doing," the Chancellor said, leaving her alone.

"But I still love Draco...," Maria said, alone in the dining room. She lowered her head to her hands and cried.

{The lights darken. A set change brings a ballroom complete with a string quartet and dancing merrymakers to the stage. Ralse and the Chancellor are here too. The wall of the castle can be seen. A balcony is seen and Maria is there atop it alone. The quartet inside is only acting as if they are playing.}

"I know you're out there, Draco. I swear I'll wait. You swore to me you'd come back and we'd start a family. Don't you dare back out of that solemn promise...," Maria said into the night.

{The Chancellor leaves Ralse's side and heads toward the balcony.}

"Prince Ralse is looking for a dance partner. Leave the past behind! Our kingdom is adopting the spirit of the East...!" the Chancellor said to Maria.

Maria slowly followed him into the ballroom, dressed in a white dress with a brown ribbon symbolizing the East in her hair. She walked to Ralse's side and tries her best to smile. She bows her head to him, and he noticed her efforts to change.

Ralse took Maria's hand and began to dance.

{The string quartet really starts playing.}

Maria was trying to enjoy herself. She noticed the Chancellor slip out of the room. While this puzzled her, she kept dancing. He was grinning widely at her when he returned to the room. She was deeply perplexed when he gave her a thumbs up. She kept dancing.

Suddenly the music stopped. "THE SURVIVORS OF THE WEST ATTACK!" a loud shout came as soldiers dressed in purple invaded the ballroom. They began to attack the dancers and guards.

Ralse stepped away from Maria. "Impossible! ATTACK!" he cried as his own soldiers came in and began to fight back.

The Chancellor made his way to Maria and pressed the handle of a knife into her hand. "You may need this in case I can't do my job of taking care of you."

Maria looked at him and nodded, wanting to join the Westerners. "Colt!" she yelled as she recognized one man. "Lothar!" she yelled as she recognized another. If there were here... Could Draco... Her heart leaped.

Ralse made his way back to Maria and grabbed her arm. "Let's get out of here!" he said.

"WAIT!" a voice yelled, followed by a wark. Draco, atop a chocobo, runs right over Ralse, knocking him clear away from Maria. Draco jumps off his chocobo and looks at Maria smiling. "Maria..."

"Draco, I've waited for so long. I knew you'd come." Maria said, smiling back with tears of joy in her eyes.

Ralse stood back up. "Maria will finally have to become my queen!" he yelled.

Draco ignored Ralse, staring right at Maria. "For the rest of my life I'll keep you near..."

"It's a DUEL!" Ralse cried out, drawing his sword. {Sorry, no Ultros... or Locke...or Setzer... or whoever else was in your party when you played the game.}

Draco finally looked to Ralse and drew his own sword. "To the death."

"Indeed. I left you to my General once, I'll finish the job myself this time. Just the way I finished Edgar," Ralse said.

Draco let out a primal scream as he lunged with his sword towards Ralse. A powerful swordfight took place between them, forcing each other to move in circles and dance around the stage in a violent nature. With one mighty swing, Draco finally knocked the sword from Ralse's hands. Ralse fell to his knees with Draco's sword's blade pressed to his throat.

As Draco hesitated, Ralse slowly reached to his belt to pull out a concealed dagger.

"Draco! Look out!" Lothar cried out.

"Huh?" Draco asked as he looked to Lothar.

Ralse took his cue, and stabbed Draco in the chest. Draco dropped his sword, clutching his chest. He fell to his knees looking down at his chest.

"NOOO!" Maria cried, running to his side.

Ralse stood up and backed away to watch Draco die. He had a look of cruel contentment on his face.

Draco reached up to touch Maria's face. "I'm so sorry my love..." he cried, he face clenching in pain.

"Don't be... I forgive you... I love you so much, for now and always," Maria cried back.

"Goodbye, my heart," Draco said, and fell lifelessly onto the floor.

Maria kissed his forehead and wiped her eyes. She stood up with a look of complete anger on her face. She walked to Ralse. "I will never love you. You will never rule the West. When Draco's child which I now carry emerges from my body, that child will rule the West. Too bad you won't be around to see it," she said cruelly as she planted the knife hidden in her hand deep within Ralse's heart.

Ralse looked dumbfounded, then died quickly.

"I am the Queen of the West! The West will reign again! Colt, Lothar, see to it that my lands are returned to me!" Maria said, kneeling back down beside Draco.

"Yes, Your Highness!" Lothar and Colt said at the same time.

{Everyone exits the stage, leaving the dead Draco and Maria onstage.}

"Just call me loveless...," she said.

{The curtains close. The End of Loveless.}


After a long moment of shock, the audience began to clap. The curtains opened back up to show the main stars standing in the front line holding hands, while the rest of the cast stood behind them in another line holding hands. They all took their bow together as the audience applauded and gave them a standing ovation.

"Wonzerful!" Benito was somewhere calling out.

Aeris looked at Lucas with a wild grin on her face. He smiled back, high on the applause. "They like us! They really, really like us!" he laughed to her.

Deus ran up to the stage to give Aeris three dozen red roses all tied together with red ribbons. She smiled and blew her brother a kiss as she took the flowers and stood back up to wave at the audience. Finally the curtains closed again, and the applause began to die down.


As the other actors began to shuffle offstage to get back into their street clothes so they could attend the cast party set up at the banquet hall, Aeris sat down in the middle of the stage. She was still smiling. People from the play and stagehands walked by telling her what a great job she did.

Lucas walked up to her and looked down at her. "Aeris? What are you doing?"

"Taking it all in. That was so amazing," she said.

"Yeah, it was pretty overwhelming. It was so fun too, hearing the audience's reactions to things...," he said.

Aeris looked around and saw that the stage was nearly empty. She held her hand up to Lucas. He tried to hoist her up, but she yanked on his hand bringing him down beside her.

Lucas let out a, "Whoa!" of surprise but laughed and sat down beside her.

"Now tell me," Aeris said.

"Tell you what?" he asked, hugging his knees to his body and resting his chin on his knees.

"What made you hurt so bad to cry like that," Aeris said.

Lucas closed his eyes. "I was just getting really caught up in it, Aeris."

"You thought it was real?" she asked quietly.

He blinked. How could she understand that?

"Did you mean the words you said to me?" she asked, biting her lips.

Lucas lost his breath. The time had come to admit his deep-set crush on her, but he couldn't bring himself to say yes. Yet somehow, she was acting as if she knew.

"You're not gonna answer, huh?" she asked. She moved a little closer to him.

"Aeris... I...," he couldn't say anymore. He closed his eyes tight. When he felt her cool hand against his cheek, he kept them shut, fearing he was dreaming.

"Lucas," she said. Her voice came from a place much closer than he expected and his eyes flew open just in time to see her placing her lips on his. He didn't fight the kiss at all, giving in to it rather quickly. His arms loosened from his knees to wrap around her.

She kept her hand on his face as she pulled away. Staring into his eyes, she said, "Now I've shown you how I feel. Please tell me you feel the same."

Lucas nodded. He closed his eyes and let out the words that had been trapped inside for a long time. "Aeris, I care about you so damn much. Not just as a friend. As more than a friend. I want to be closer to you than just friends."

She planted a kiss on his nose. "Me too."

They grinned at each other for a few moments, taking in the moment. When it got uncomfortable, Lucas let go of her. "We better get changed and get to that party." He stood and helped her stand too.

She smiled and wrapped her arms around him once more to kiss him.

"Aeris! Dear Ancients you were wonderful!" Aeris heard Deus saying. She and Lucas quickly separated, and she saw her family and Yuffie and Ryouji on the stage. Behind them was Reeve and Cait Sith, Barret, and Nanaki.

She didn't think they had seen them kissing. Then she saw the wide-eyed grins from Ryouji and Yuffie, aimed at Lucas. She turned to her own parents. Tifa was still wiping her eyes with the handkerchief. Cloud was glaring at her in what she knew was anger.

Deus hugged her tightly. "Aeris you were perfect!"

"Thanks, Deus. I really appreciate it," she said, smiling, ignoring her father.

"Aeris, don't ever do that to me again," Tomas said hugging her. Aeris nearly laughed as she realized those were tear streaks down his face. "You did great," he whispered.

Her mother hugged her next. She was too busy sobbing to congratulate her.

Aeris turned to her father. Cloud's eyes seemed to be glowing, and Aeris wondering if it ws time for another of his treatments to get rid of the leftover Mako poisoning. He hugged her. "Good job, darling," he said. "I'm proud of you. I honestly am."

When everyone else seemed to be congratulating Lucas, Cloud grabbed Aeris' arm. "I thought you and him were just friends."

"We were until a few moments ago," Aeris said.

"Aeris, I've never been against you going out with anyone, but I really don't want you dating him."

"Why?" Aeris asked.

"I have my reasons. I just want you to back away while you can," Cloud said.

"Daddy... I really care about him. Sorry but I do," she said, folding her arms.

Deus was suddenly at her side. "What's the matter?" he asked.

"Nothing," Cloud said, walking away.

Aeris looked at Deus. "You look cute in a suit," she said, making him blush.

"Yeah, he does," Janica said, joining them.

Deus looked at her with wide eyes. "What? You're just too cute kid!" she laughed. "And oh, by the way Aeris? I saw that..."

Aeris laughed as Yuffie and Ryouji gave her hugs of congratulations. She picked up her roses from the stage floor and looked at Lucas. "I think we have a party to go to."

Lucas smiled at her. "Oh Maria, do we ever."

She looked at her father once more, and took Lucas' hand and headed for the dressing rooms.

To be continued...


Well? Okay, I know it's a pretty mushy fanfic so far. I had to do it because I always wanted to see "Loveless" while playing FFVII yet I'll be darned if I never got to.

The next chapter will take place the same night and next day after the play. It's probably going to be called, "The Truth About Lucas." It will show why Lucas is special and just why Cloud doesn't want Aeris dating him. The theory of partical concentration will be revealed, as well as the Turks' new mission.

If you bear with me until chapter 3 where I will finally bring in a villain, I promise the story won't be complete mush. (I'm using a sort-of-kinda Chrono Trigger crossover to bring in the villain, by the way...) My address is still and I still honestly love criticism. I'd love to hear what you have to say. Thanks again! {^_^}


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