Advent Children. Probably directly before it.
Cloud shares his side, then Zack speaks from beyond his grave.
Cloud's only happiness seems to be in his dreams.
Additional ANs: The two short poems used in the story are
mine. The last line Zack says is most of a quote from “The Princess Bride”. The title came from "Just A Dream" by Nelly.
928 words on love that doesn’t stop at the grave.
voice startled me out of the darkness of my thoughts. I looked up to see him
smiling at me from a few feet away in a meadow full of pale flowers and
sunshine. My jaw
dropped, inevitably, as my restless feet carried me swiftly to his side.
expression grew concerned. “What’s wrong, Cloud?” I
shook my head to push it all from my mind and to cement myself in the now of
things. “It’s nothing. I’ve missed you.” He
laughed heartily. “Oh, have you? Perhaps I should make up for that.” Leaning
in, he pressed his lips against mine gently, lightly, like he was afraid I
would fall all to pieces. It was
I that drew him closer, I that slanted my head and persuaded him to deepen and
lengthen our kiss. As an inevitable consequence of that decision, our clothing
fell away piece by piece as we sought to connect in the most basic way. He had
my naked, slighter form pressed between his strong body and the bed of
fragrant, soft grasses before I even caught my breath. “Ah,
Cloud, I’ve missed you, too," he murmured, dropping light kisses on my jawline.
“Every hour of every day, I missed you. I
shivered under his attentions. “Well then stop missing me and be with me,” I
commanded him softly, as if it were all that easy, as if the distance between
our souls was so easily bridged. He
gave me that familiar goofy smile. “Impatient, much?” I
embraced him fully with my arms, dragging his head down into the grasses but
allowing myself to catch the scent of sunshine and laughter with a hint of
ginger and an underlying current of pure Zack.
“I missed you so much,” I whispered in his ear. “I
know.” He sighed. “I know. But you have to miss me for a bit longer, Cloudy.”
Cloud: I sat
straight up in bed, gasping and suddenly wide awake. A thin sheen of sweat
clung damply to my chest as I tried to regulate my breathing and calm my
heartbeat to a more normal rate and location –the way it was currently pounding
in my throat was uncomfortable and disconcerting. I had
dreamed it up. It had all been a damn dream. But I
could feel his hands on me. I could smell the grass, the flowers, and him. I turned my head and caught a whiff
of sunshine and ginger. My hands quickly moved to capture the silent tears
before they became a silent flood or worse. I
cursed my mind under my breath. After so many years, my brain still conjured up
fantasies in which my lover hadn’t really died. But I
had been there when he died. I could clearly remember the way he hugged me once
last time, the way his blood felt on my skin as he bled, the way his voice
sounded as he spoke to me as he lay dying. I could still remember the feeling
of loss and utter hopelessness when he had died there. I could still remember
just how worthless I felt, since I
had been nothing but a burden that day. Yet my
mind persisted in tormenting me with these dreams. “Zack,”
I whispered, as though he could hear me, as though he were beside me in this
all-too-empty bed. “Why did you have to leave me all alone?” All
alone but for those damned dreams. It was
no wonder I woke up wishing for a man long-dead to hold me.
Just a dream inside my head that I wasn’t alone in this empty bed, that you were right beside me, that through it all you would hide me and hold me tenderly to you, your precious treasure forever true. But it was all just a dream…
couldn’t I just let him go? Why couldn’t I just let my memory become just that
and allow him to move on? I’d
asked myself these questions countless times since I’d discovered a way to slip
into his dreams. I’d finally decided that I
couldn’t let him go, not without
finally finding the guts to tell him I loved him. But each time I went to him
in his dreams with that intention, my desire to hold him and love him
overwhelmed me and I couldn’t seem to form the words in a way he could hear and
understand. So I’d
go back into those dreams, from now until eternity or as long as it took me to
work up the courage to tell him how much he meant to me. But as
I him cry when he woke up, I had to wonder how I could be so damn selfish. That
was, until I heard him ask the empty room, “Zack, why did you have to leave me
all alone?” That
was when I understood the reason why he cried: not for remembering me, but for only seeing me in his dreams. To me,
that meant I couldn’t stop visiting him, even after I finally confessed to him.
I couldn’t leave him alone in his sleep, not after seeing how waking into the cold reality affected
all, death can’t stop true love. It can only delay it for a bit.
I can’t be just a memory any more than you can let me because true love never dies: it’s just delayed for a time. So when eternity comes to meet you, I’ll be here to greet you. Until then, know I love you, my precious treasure forever true.