Title: Strange Fate
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Disclaimer: No ownership implied, no profit gained. This is a fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Cloud, Priscilla
Summary: Cloud recalls an old promise.
Fate was strange, Cloud decided as he drank a second cup of hot chocolate and looked into the apologetic eyes of the young woman he'd never quite forgotten.
"I gave it to a friend," he said. His turn to apologize. "I'm sorry. I think it - she - probably saved my life at least once."
"Is your friend using her?" Priscilla asked.
"Sometimes." Cloud wasn't sure if he was lying or not.
"Good. That's the important thing, right?" Priscilla stood, wobbling a bit as she headed back towards the stove. "I can make anything. Are you hungry?"
"I'm fine -" Cloud was on his feet a second later, steadying her as she reached for the counter. "It's been ten years. When did you get sick?"
"Everyone else got geostigma," Priscilla explained, leaning against Cloud for a moment too long. But he didn't let go. He could remember. "I... I got sick from the water. Who knew the pollution was so bad?"
"Maybe in Edge," Cloud commented without really thinking. "There are doctors who might..."
Priscilla shook her head and pulled away to turn off the front burner of the stove from where it had rested on the lowest setting.
"It's too late for that," she explained softly. "I have... just a few months left. I'm too weak to make a trip."
Cloud glanced at the floor. It needed to be swept, but he understood that Priscilla was barely able to take care of herself, much less the house. And the water she'd loved had cursed her.
"Pack what you need," Cloud said a minute later as he heard the sink. Priscilla turned quickly, unsteady.
"Pack what you need," Cloud repeated. "You can come with me."
"We were going to get married, right?"
There was silence as Priscilla looked away, focused on her dishes.
Cloud kicked at cracker crumbs, wondering just why he'd chosen to deliver that exact package at just the right moment to turn around and bump into the young-woman whose name had always nagged at his memories, never quite there until he saw her again.
And then he realized that her silence was not refusal. She was crying.
"I'd forgotten," she said as she brought the dish towel up to dab at her eyes. "I think I held out for you until I was twelve. When I first started to get sick. Then I didn't think I'd ever be a bride."
Yet again he'd managed to fail someone. But for once, he could change things. Or at least drag reality towards a happier ending.
"What about that woman?" Priscilla frowned. "You didn't marry her?"
"No," Cloud replied. He peeled off his gloves and reached to take the dishtowel from her. He didn't know why. She didn't need to finish the dishes. She'd never see them again. "Why don't you go and pack a few things. I'll finish this."
In his mind, he could already imagine the commotion that would occur when he arrived home. His phone was at his side, but calling would ruin the surprise.
He poked at the dishes a bit once Priscilla had headed off towards her room, her hands leaving a damp trail along the walls as she reached out to steady herself.
Fate was strange - especially when he'd been paid hansomely to deliver a package of flower seeds from an unknown sender to an old woman who had just moved from Gongaga. And certainly not expecting packages. From anyone.
He was going to make everyone smile.
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!