Premonitions: Uncut

BY : Hippo_and_Friends_with_Benefits
Category: Final Fantasy VII > General
Dragon prints: 2213
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII, and I am not making any money of of this writing.

Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII, and I am not making any money of of this writing.

Chapter 1: You're Getting Old

KALM

AUGUST 19, 0016

Cloud Strife gazed into the bathroom mirror. It was his thirtieth birthday, but he was in no mood to celebrate. He was not where he had wanted to be at thirty, but, then again, he had no idea where he would be at thirty, anyway. He had no idea where he wanted to be, either, for that matter.

He had saved the planet from Meteor nearly nine years ago, in 0008, but he certainly did not do so by himself. In any case, it was almost a distant memory. As far as he knew, there were no tenth anniversary celebrations being planned for 0018. Then came the Geostigma Crisis of 0009. Cloud himself was infected, and, to this day, he felt like more of an accidental tourist than a hero. Finally, there was the Omega Crisis of 0010, which he did not significantly take part in. Perhaps he was hoping for more adventures, but none were coming along.

His mother had wanted him to get married, but he had mixed emotions about the idea. He was not getting any younger, but he needed to find a woman who suited him in order to settle down, and, for a long time, no woman he encountered suited him. The only person Cloud could see himself spending the rest of his life with was Tifa. And Tifa had married somebody else. It broke Cloud's heart when that happened. He did, indeed, have feelings for her, but he never told her. Now, he was too late, and he would regret his silence for the rest of his life.

Sometimes, Cloud wondered if he had the misfortune of being one of those poor individuals that peaked just a little too early in life. Everybody knows somebody like that. He's the star quarterback, she's the cheer captain. His shirt flaunts his muscles, her jeans flatter her butt. He has the coolest car, she has the hottest car. All the girls want to date him, all the guys want to date her. Then all of those classmates meet up with one of them at the ten year reunion and have only one question to ask: "What the hell happened to you?!" Considering this, Cloud looked into the mirror, at the muscles that seemed to be sagging, and the grays slowly creeping into his spikes.

"What the hell happened to you?" he said aloud.

Just then, a knock sounded the bathroom door.

"Yo!" shouted Barret. "There's people waiting for you! You can't be takin' a dump all day!"

Cloud sighed. He really just wanted to be home, but Barret had made the effort to throw him a party.

"I'm coming," he said.

He had no idea that he was about to get the greatest birthday gift of all, previously denied to every other human being: a second chance to spend his life with Tifa.

How it would come to pass would amaze anyone beyond their wildest imagination.

THE STREETS OF EDGE

Denzel wandered through the streets. It was a typical summer night. Now seventeen years old, he felt more confident to wander the streets of Edge alone. He been warned multiple times by multiple people not to do so, but it seemed like that, no matter how well he took care of himself, bad things would always happen to him. So he ceased to care.

He was not in the best of moods. He had asked out Marlene, only to be shot down for the third time. Much of Denzel's life was unhappy, whether it was his parents being killed or his inability to find a stable relationship.

Denzel had a one-room apartment near the edge of town. He never stayed in, though. He found the place boring, and the street life more exciting. He was presently on Penn Street, known as the world's prostitution hub. Denzel had come here to get lucky. He was scouting the alleyways, where the merchandise often dwelled. He was a minor, but nobody checked his age; they were only interested in money.

He paused. Denzel could have sworn he heard footsteps behind him. He turned around to see no one behind his position. Figuring it was only his imagination, he continued on. He was actually quite disappointed. He was hoping it was one of the ladies. He easily shrugged it off; they would be around here, somewhere.

Denzel heard the footsteps again. He turned around to see the same results. He then felt himself shiver.

Is someone following me? he thought.

Suddenly, he was no longer interested in getting laid. He was now interested in getting home safely, before anything happened to him. He quickly began to move faster for the mouth of the alley.

As he made his way, he began to hear the footsteps again. This time, he ignored them, or at least he tried to. He tried to ignore them as they grew louder and faster. Denzel did not care. He only wanted to get home safely. And then, he felt two hands push him to the ground.

He hit the ground hard. He had no time to absorb the pain. Quickly, he turned over to see a strange woman standing over him. She appeared to be in her mid-twenties, with red eyes and long hair of the same color. Her clothing and even her nails were red.

"Who are you," the strange woman demanded.

"That's not your business," Denzel replied. He immediately regretted his remark, given the fact she had just overpowered him.

"Denzel!" the woman exclaimed.

Denzel jumped, giving away his identity. Oh, shit.

"I am Bestla," said the woman.

"Nice to meet you," Denzel said, sarcastically. "You know, a handshake would have been more appropriate. I'm a whore-seeking low-life and even I know that!"

"You weren't always," Bestla said. "I know you were a sweet, kind, seven-year-old boy once. Then your parents were killed when Sector Seven was destroyed."

"How do you know about that?" he asked.

"I know a lot of things," Bestla replied. "My parents were killed, too. Not too long after yours. I still miss them terribly, by the way."

"What do you want from me?" Denzel inquired.

"Where is Cloud?" she replied. "That's all I want. His whereabouts."

"I don't know," Denzel replied. "I haven't seen him in a while. He's gotten on with his life, but that's all I know."

"Where is Tifa?" Bestla asked next.

"I don't know either," Denzel replied. "The last I heard, she got married to some business mogul." That was the truth. Tifa had a wedding so big there were helicopters full of reporters hovering above the castle she had gotten married at. The guest list included celebrities left and right; Cloud was missing and did not attend.

Then, Bestla asked her final question. "Do you know the location of any of the three pieces of the Chronus Wand?"

"I've only heard of the Chronus Wand," Denzel replied. "And it's a myth. Shinra was advanced, but not advanced enough to build such a device."

Bestla sighed. "It seems you're of no use to me."

And then, it hit Denzel's mind. He knew her name sounded familiar.

"Wait a minute!" he announced. "I know who you are! You're-"

Before he could finish, she pulled a gun out and shot Denzel in the forehead. He promptly fell to the ground, dead.

Bestla gazed at the body.

"Don't worry," she said to it. "I have other leads to Cloud and Tifa. They'll pay for what they did. And then, the real fun will start."

SOMEWHERE ELSE...

The mood was different in Kalm. At least in a medium-sized dining room that was usually empty except for that day. Barret was there, but Cloud, who was seated at the head of the table, did not recognize anyone else. Most of these people were co-workers Barret had gathered. Cloud did not have too many friends.

It was Cloud's birthday. And for the first time in his life, he regretted it. He had helped saved the world, which was extraordinary, but was still disappointed in himself. In the personal sense, he felt as if he had accomplished little.

"So how old are you?" asked Nara, one of Barret's younger co-workers.

"I'm thirty," muttered Cloud.

"Wow" she replied. "I never would have guessed. I was going to say twenty-two, my age!"

Nara was seated next to Cloud. Barret did this on purpose; he was hoping they would hit it off. Nara seemed interested, but Cloud, of course, did not.

"So you just turned thirty and it's been nearly a decade since you saved the world," Nara continued. "What have you been up to since then, anyway?"

"Not much," Cloud replied.

"Not much?!" Barret exclaimed. "Don't forget about the geostigma incident!"

"And what about the Omega incident?" added Nara.

"I was barely involved in that," Cloud replied. "But the real hero of that one would probably creep you out."

Nara decided it was time to change the subject. "Have you ever been to Costa del Sol?" she asked him.

"I have," Cloud answered, "when we were chasing Sephiroth."

Damn! thought Nara. Try something a little more random!

"Ever play the lottery?" asked Nara.

"Once," laughed Barret.

FLASHBACK...

"What are you numbers again?" asked Barret, gazing into the TV.

"4-1-3," replied Cloud."

"Shhh!" whispered Biggs. "They're drawing!"

"We have a one!" shouted the announcer.

"Dammit!" muttered Barret.

"We have an eight!" the announcer continued.

"Don't care anymore," grunted Barret.

"And finally, a seven!"

"I'll be damned," observed Barret. "Next time, try betting 6-6-6!"

…END FLASHBACK

"It didn't turn out too well," Barret continued.

Nara realized she could not get a pleasant response out of Cloud no matter what she asked. So she gave up.

Of course, Cloud had a lot on his mind. Mainly, he was thinking about his greatest regret. The one thing he never should have let go. The one mistake that would haunt him for the rest of his life.

ELSEWHERE...

"I don't believe it," muttered Tifa into the mirror. "Another gray hair. At twenty-nine."

"It's not the end of the world," Bo replied from the bedroom.

"I know," Tifa insisted as she plucked the eyesore from her scalp, "I just can't believe it."

Bo was Tifa's husband. They had been married for two years now. Bo was the CEO of a successful solar power company in Edge. Tifa, meanwhile, had returned to her old role as a bar hostess.

"By the way," continued Bo, "how did the test turn out?"

Tifa closed her eyes. It was one of her least favorite subjects to talk about.

"Negative," she replied sadly. "Yet again."

Bo sighed. "A whole year. We've been trying for a whole year."

"Maybe we should see a doctor," Tifa suggested.

"You don't want to have one the natural way?" asked Bo.

"Maybe we can't," said Tifa, giving Bo a sincere look.

"Why are you so adamant about having kids all of a sudden, anyway?" asked Bo.

"I'm not getting any younger," she answered. "I'm pushing thirty."

Tifa had always wanted children. Even when she was fiercely clobbering enemies with her fists, she still whished for motherhood the most. Of course, Bo had not been the man who she originally wanted as the father of her children.

There were times, here and there, that she would fantasize about what life would have been like had she married Cloud instead. She wondered what their children would look like. But that could no longer happen. Cloud had never asked her to be more than a friend. Of course, she had failed to tell him how she felt. She didn't want to ruin their friendship, but now their friendship seemed more or less ruined anyway. He did not attend her wedding. They had not spoken in a very long time, either.

I should have told him, Tifa realized. If only I could go back in time.

But that was certainly out of the question. She was with Bo, now, and life was what it was.

"You won't be able to go out with your friends anymore," Bo warned, continuing the discussion.

"They're your friends, not mine," Tifa replied.

"Talk to them," Bo insisted. "Go shopping with their wives."

"They still wouldn't be mine."

"You'll lose your figure," Bo warned.

"That's really sad when you have more invested in your figure than the next generation," Tifa stated. "I certainly don't."

"We'll talk about it later," Bo replied as he glanced at his cell phone. "We're running late."

"No we're not," Tifa replied. "Your friends don't even show up at the bar until an hour after we arrive."

"Someone has to be there first," Bo insisted.

Tifa, meanwhile, plucked another gray hair. She decided not to let it get to her. Everything else was fine; nobody could tell her age anyway. She was dressed in a black tank top, boots, and a pair of jeans that quite flattered her posterior. It was, of course, for Bo.

Just then, the doorbell rang. Bo had retreated to the hallway bathroom, presumably to make use of the facilities. Sighing, Tifa decided to go downstairs and answer the door.

Bo, meanwhile, had other things on his mind.

She's thinking about Cloud again, he thought to himself as he washed his hands. I knew she wasn't over him. But he's miles away. They don't even talk anymore. He's out of the picture, and she's mine now. He should have fished while they were biting. It would take a time machine to change everything.

When Bo left the bathroom, he descended the stairs to an odd sight. There were three police officers in the foyer. Rollers were visible through the windows. Tifa had tears streaming down her face.

"Denzel's dead," she informed her husband.

"The little boy you used to look after?" asked Bo, as gently as he could.

"Yes," Tifa sniffed. "He was only seventeen years old."

"What happened?"

"He was shot," Tifa replied. "In an alley in cold blood. They need me to identify him."

Bo sighed to himself. He had barely known the kid, and he certainly did not like him.

The night was ruined.

"They know who did it, though," Tifa continued sadly. "It was Bestla."

"Bestla?" asked Bo. Then, after a brief pause, he remembered. "Oh, that Bestla."

She turned to her husband, wrapped her arms around him, and rested her head on her chest.

"This was a warning," Tifa said in a trembling voice. "She's going to take her revenge. Cloud and I are next!"

MEANWHILE....

"Oh yes!  Ohhhh yeeesssss!" howled Nara as Barret continued to hammer into her.

They were in the bathroom, with Nara looking into the mirror as Barret continued to thrust.

"Fuck yeah," he muttered.

Sometimes a failed setup does pay off.



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