#190 – Love Conquers All

Cloud: “You. That’s what matters the most. You stuck by me. You kept your promise.”

Originally Published: 9/24/06 . 50 pages

Synopsis
Can Zack finally get through to Cloud and get him back to normal? Meanwhile, Barret and Cid are still on the search for Bugenhagen.

Ramble Milestones
-Cloud gets his memory back.

The last ten rambles were meticulously planned out. First order of business: getting Cloud’s brain back together once and for all. I can’t tell you how sick I was of him being out of it all the time. I also enjoy the subplots, especially the one with Lloyd and Hojo. The title comes from the Vanessa Williams song “Love Is”: Love conquers all/it changes everything.

They say it’s a river, that circles the earth

A beam of light shining to the edge of the universe

Love conquers all

Love changes everything

They say it’s a blessing

They say it’s a gift

They say it’s a miracle and I believe that it is

Love conquers all

but it’s a mystery

–“Love Is”, Vanessa Williams

(we begin at the therapy center. tifa and richter enter. richter has cloud by the arm and tifa is pushing baby duke in a stroller)

Richter: “I’m getting rather tired of dragging him to this therapy every day!”

Cloud: “……I see colors!”

Tifa: “Come on, Richter. It’s helping him!”

Richter: “Is it really?”

(koudelka comes over to them)

Koudelka: “Good morning.”

Tifa: “Hi, Koudelka!”

Koudelka: *looks at the baby* “He’s so alert for his age.”

Richter: “He has to be alert! Vampires could attack at any moment!”

Tifa: “Here’s Cloud!” *pats him on the shoulder*

Cloud: “Who’s Cloud?”

Koudelka: “Great. Let’s go, Cloud.”

Cloud: “I think I lost my feet.”

(koudelka leads him away. tifa sighs sadly and richter shakes his head)

Richter: “This isn’t helping. If anything he’s getting worse!”

Tifa: *shakes head* “I refuse to believe that.”

(at that moment zack comes running in. he’s out of breath)

Zack: “Sorry! I’m late. I had surgery early this morning. Did I miss him? Oh – good morning.”

Tifa: *smiles* “Hi, Zack. Yeah, he just went in.”

Zack: “I’ll wait then.” *crouches down and looks at the baby* “Hi there, little guy! And how are you doing?”

Tifa: “He’s been just great as usual. Doesn’t give me any trouble.”

Richter: “That’s because he’s a Belmont! And the only thing a Belmont troubles is vampires!”

Zack: *stands back up and looks at tifa* “Any improvement in Cloud?”

Tifa: “Well…”

Richter: “No! And I think this therapy is starting to be a waste of time.”

(then glenn, riddel, jack and cecilia come walking over)

Tifa: “Well maybe Cloud’s just an extra difficult case! I bet the others are showing some progress!”

Jack: “Not really.”

Glenn: “No.”

Cecilia: “I think the circus stuff is getting a little out of hand. I came home one day and found a tiger in the house and three rings drawn on the floor.”

Riddel: “Serge doesn’t even blink anymore.”

Tifa: “Oh dear.”

Richter: “See! No one is showing any signs of improvement! And for what they charge, they all should be cured by now!”

Glenn: “I must agree. We really don’t know how much longer we’re going to keep this up.”

Jack: “Same here. I mean we moved here just to help Rudy. But…we can’t stay here forever. Our rent is outrageous!”

Zack: “Well these kind of things take time! You can’t heal mental wounds like you can heal physical ones!”

Richter: “That may be true, but enough is enough! We cannot stand to spend more money for nothing. I say we give it a few more sessions. If we still see no results, we go elsewhere!”

(everyone but tifa and zack heartily agree with that. they all walk outside except for tifa and zack.)

Tifa: *sad sigh* “I just don’t want to give up on Cloud.”

Zack: “I know. I don’t either.”

Tifa: “But what are we going to do? I guess Richter does have a point, but…”

Zack: “I know. Trust me, Tifa. I know.”

(they walk outside together. meanwhile, yuri has been hiding in a doorway and heard the whole conversation. he runs over to where koudelka is standing behind the two way mirror watching the rpg main character group)

Yuri: “Koudelka! I’ve got bad news!”

Koudelka: “Thanks for finally showing up for your group, Yuri.”

Yuri: “This is important! I just heard all our clients say that if they don’t see some improvement in their friends soon, they’re gonna pull them outta here!”

Koudelka: “This is bad.” *pause* “I guess maybe we should really step up and try to help them more.”

Yuri: “Yeah, but, if we cure them we’ll wind up losing money anyway!”

Koudelka: “Nah… I think they’ll still need years of follow up therapy.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, alucard and dante are sitting at the kitchen table in the condo. they’re looking over some papers…)

Dante: “Well the new dancers are working out. Plus I was able to get Chris his old job back.”

Alucard: “I didn’t realize the profits on this place were so high.”

Dante: “Al! Come on! How many times a week do you come to the club?”

Alucard: “I know! But that’s quite a lot of money!”

Dante: “Yup. And it’s all ours.” *looks at alucard* “Thanks again for going in on this with me, baby.”

Alucard: “I’ve told you I don’t need any thanks. It feels good to have something to do besides take care of dad.”

Dante: “Well. True.”

Alucard: “Besides…I love you.”

Dante: “I love you too, babe.”

(he leans over and kisses alucard just as lloyd comes downstairs)

Lloyd: “Ew! Gross, Dante! Stop grossing everybody out!”

Dante: “Just seeing your face grosses me out, Lloyd.”

Lloyd: “It’s Vergil, you asswipe! And guess what? I had sex!”

Dante: “I told you a million times, Lloyd. Having sex with yourself doesn’t count. That’s called masturbating. And I feel bad for your hand. I’m surprised it hasn’t tried to chop itself off by now.”

Lloyd: “Screw you, Dante! That’s not what I mean! I had cyber sex with a  guy I met online!”

Dante: “I am never touching the computer again.”

Lloyd: “He sounds really hot! I’m gonna meet up with him in a few days!”

Dante: “Cyber sex, Lloyd? That’s even more pathetic than I thought.”

Lloyd: “F**k you! And my name is Vergil, jackbutt!” *stomps off*

Dante: *calls after him* “Still sticking with jackbutt, huh? Next time why don’t you try something that might actually insult me?”

Alucard: “I wonder how long that’s been going on…” *pales* “I’ve been using that computer.”

Dante: “Don’t worry. We’ll get a new one.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, at the ramble room, red is sitting there looking depressed. barret and cid look puzzled)

Cid: “@#$@#%^!#&@!$%?”

Barret: “I don’t know why dis here dragonfly be upset! Maybe dat new brand a’ cat food ain’t agreein’ wit him!”

Red: “…………You both deserve to die.”

Cid: “@#$@#%#$^@#&$*##@%!”

Barret: *snaps* “Damn! You right, Cid! We still ain’t found ant farm’s grandpa yet! Maybe dat be why he so sad!”

Red: “Obviously. I’ve been depressed about it for months. And I am not an ant farm.”

Cid: “@#$@%#@$^@$&^#$%!”

Barret: “Yeah! We did promise to find him! And we gonna find him! Les go!”

(they run out. red sighs sadly)

Red: “Grandpa is doomed.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, back to the therapy center, koudelka and yuri are in the room with their patients and they both look rather frazzled, as if they’ve been trying to get some kind of reaction for hours but have failed miserably. there are all kinds of random stuff lying around the room)

Yuri: “Let’s try banging the pots again!”

Koudelka: “No. They don’t work and it hurts my head.”

Yuri: “Why don’t you help, Squall!?”

Squall: “Whatever… You’re supposed to be the expert, not me.”

Yuri: “But you spend a lot of time with these freaks!”

Squall: “I hate my girlfriend.”

Koudelka: “This is pointless! Nothing is working! I feel like I could chop my arm off right in front of them and they wouldn’t even blink.”

Rudy: “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!” *grabs his arm*

Koudelka and Yuri: *stare in shock*

Rudy: *jumps up and starts running around* “My arm!!! My arm!!! My arm!!!” *stops* “Wait. My arm’s fine.”

Koudelka: “Holy $#%^&*@ #$%^.”

Yuri: *in shock* “My thoughts exactly.”

Rudy: “What’s going on?! What am I doing here?”

Koudelka: “Relax, Rudy. We’re your therapists.”

Rudy: “Therapists?”

Yuri: “Jack and Cecilia brought you here.”

Rudy: “Jack? And Cecilia?” *eyes narrow* “What about the mouse?”

Koudelka: “Uh… I don’t know anything about a mouse.”

Yuri: “You haven’t talked in years! I thought there was no hope for you!”

Koudelka: “Must have been when I said that thing about cutting my arm off…”

Rudy: *grabs arm* “Hey! Knock it off!”

Koudelka: “Did something happen to your arm?”

Rudy: “Yeah it did! It got cut off! Not a good memory, okay?”

Koudelka: “Okay, geez.” *mutters* “What an ass.”

Yuri: “Well look! We got one acting kinda normal again! This is great news! Maybe we can get the rest of these brain dead freaks to snap out of it!”

Rudy: “What?!”

Koudelka: *mutters* “Yuri…can you lay off on calling them brain dead freaks while two of them can talk?”

Yuri: “Oh. Sorry.”

Koudelka: “But otherwise you’re right. This is great progress. It seems like Rudy was affected by a traumatic event that happened to him. The others are probably similar.”

Yuri: “I always thought if anything knocked him out of it it would be something about the circus.”

Rudy: “What? What about the circus?”

Koudelka: “Yeah…what’s with the circus?”

Rudy: *shrugs* “I don’t know. I just like the circus.” *grins* “Are we gonna go to the circus? Can we go? Can we?”

Koudelka: *turns to yuri and mouths* “Told you they’d need follow-up therapy.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(not much later, jack, cecilia, glenn, riddel, rinoa, zack, tifa and richter, who’s holding duke, have arrived to pick up their friends…)

Richter: “I saw a movie the other day called ‘Ghost Busters’. It was about a group of men who went around and battled ghosts. I thought it was an entertaining movie but I thought that it would have been better if the ghosts were vampires. Maybe they should make a movie about the Belmont’s fighting vampires! That would be enthralling!”

Tifa: “Honey, not right now.”

Richter: “Are you still thinking about Cloud?”

Tifa: “I just think that they’re on the right track with him.”

Richter: “Tifa, I’m not saying we should no longer seek help for Cloud. I just think we should seek it somewhere else.”

Zack: *sad sigh*

(then squall comes walking over)

Rinoa: “Hi, Squall! How was therapy today?”

Squall: “Whatever…it was nice that someone else finally talked instead of me.”

Everyone: “…………………………” *blink blink* “Wait, WHAT?”

Zack: “Who talked?!”

Squall: “I don’t know…the guy obsessed with the circus.”

Jack and Cecilia: “Rudy?!”

(sure enough koudelka then comes walking over with rudy)

Cecilia: “Rudy?”

Rudy: “That’s me!”

Jack: “Rudy! You’re talking!” *to koudelka* “What happened?”

Koudelka: “We found his trigger. Apparently he doesn’t like when people talk about cutting their arm off.”

Rudy: *twitch* “Stop it!”

Koudelka: “He’s going to need extensive follow-up therapy.”

Cecilia: “We’ll do whatever it takes! I’m just so glad the old Rudy’s back!” *hugs him*

Rudy: “Do you still have that mouse?”

Zack: “See! There’s hope yet!”

Tifa: “See, Richter! You can never give up hope!”

Richter: “Hmm…maybe I was wrong.”

Glenn: “Perhaps we were wrong to doubt you.”

Riddel: “We must continue to bring Serge here for treatment!”

Koudelka: “Well, you can all collect your friends and we’ll see you back here tomorrow.”

Tifa: “Definitely!”

(everyone gets their friends and they start to head out)

Cecilia: “Oh, Rudy! I’m so glad you’re you again!”

Jack: “It’s great to have ya back, Rudy!”

Rudy: “Are we going to the circus? And do you still have that mouse?”

(everyone’s gone. koudelka looks at yuri)

Yuri: “Phew. We avoided that one.”

Koudelka: “And how. Now we’ve just got to work on getting the other ones to snap out of it. Now let’s go check on the old guys.”

(they start walking towards the back)

Yuri: “That Rudy guy was even stranger when he was talking! What’s with the circus?! And why’d he keep asking about that mouse?”

Koudelka: “Well, just because he’s talking again doesn’t mean he’s cured. That boy is seriously messed up.”

Yuri: “Oh yeah? How so?”

Koudelka: “You think *you’re* sexually dysfunctional? Well, you ain’t got nothin’ on that guy.”

Yuri: “I am not sexually dysfunctional!”

Koudelka: *gives him a look* “Yeah you are.”

(they go in the back. radius is sitting on the couch watching the price is right and bugenhagen is floating around looking dazed as usual)

Bugenhagen: “Ho ho ho! Everything’s swirling!”

Koudelka: “What kind of medication is he *on* anyway?”

Yuri: “I don’t know, but whatever it is the side effects are hilarious!”

Radius: “Dammit! That plinko game is rigged! Rigged I tell you!” *waves cane at tv angrily* “When are you going to take me out to get me new vitamins?”

Yuri: “We’ll get around to it.”

Radius: “You’re just out to steal my money!”

Yuri: “And how!”

Koudelka: “Yuri!”

Yuri: “What? Who has he got to talk to besides us? That crazy old guy who keeps floating into the wall?”

Bugenhagen: *hitting wall* “Swirling and swirling…”

Koudelka: “I guess we should go back to the Disco-Center, but it just smelled so damn bad the last time we were there.”

Yuri: “They have to have fixed that by now.”

Koudelka: “You think?”

Yuri: “Well…then again maybe not.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(Back at the ramble room, tifa and elena are sitting there with their kids. tifa is holding duke and lily is staring at him like he’s an alien or something. richter sits at the table reading some vampire hunting magazine)

Elena: “See, Lily? It’s another baby! Isn’t he cute?”

Lily: “Baba?”

Tifa: “It’s amazing how much they grow in ten months.”

Elena: “I know. The time flies. I think it’s good that they’re so close in age. They’ll be able to play together when they get older.”

Tifa: “Wouldn’t it be funny if they grew up and got married?”

(they laugh about it. richter puts his magazine down)

Richter: “That’s a splendid idea! Let’s arrange it right now!”

Tifa: *blink blink* “Richter, I was kidding.”

Richter: “I think it’s a splendid idea! Arranged marriages are the best kind of marriages! And with Lily’s breeding I’m sure she’ll be able to have fine Belmont sons!”

Elena: “What?!”

Tifa: “Richter, we are not arranging a marriage for our son.”

Richter: “You started it!”

Tifa: “I was joking! You need to spend more time with people your own age!”

(zack and reeve walk in)

Elena: “Hi, Zack!”

Zack: “Hi, Elena! How’s Lily?”

Elena: “Well she’s talking a little and walking a little, so I would have to say good!”

Zack: “That’s great to hear!”

Elena: “What are you two up to?”

Reeve: “Not much. Just going for a walk.”

Tifa: “Richter! Why don’t you go with them? You like walking.”

Richter: “Of course I do! I like to keep fit!”

Zack: “You’re welcome to join us.”

Richter: “I believe I will. I’ll be back soon, darling!”

(reeve, zack and richter leave)

Tifa: “I love him dearly, but he hangs around with those old men way too much.”

Elena: “Some of the things he says are a little…”

Tifa: “I know. But, then again, no man is perfect.”

Elena: “That’s true. I mean look at Rufus. Mr. Jingles has his own credit card.”

Tifa: “How is that even possible?”

Elena: “I guess when you’re rich enough…”

Tifa: “I guess.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(and so zack, richter and reeve start out on their walk)

Reeve: “So you were telling me about the trigger theory…”

Zack: “Right. Well, basically what happened with me and what happened with Rudy is that both our memories were triggered by words. In my case it was something I read. It was something I had said to Cloud, and once I saw it there on paper it all came flooding back to me. In Rudy’s case, it was something someone said around him about losing an arm. He had lost his arm and I guess it was that experience that caused him to regress.”

Richter: “Franswa likes to pretend he forgets things, but a slap upside the head usually cures that!”

Reeve: “Uh huh. Well, that is interesting, Zack. I bet that’s made you think about Cloud.”

Zack: “Oh yeah. I’ve been running over everything in my mind that might have affected him that way. I’ve tried a few, but so far there hasn’t been any reaction.”

Reeve: “Cloud has had lots of traumatic things happen to him.”

Richter: “We’ve all lived through trauma! But that doesn’t mean we should lose our minds over it!”

Zack: “Richter… Tifa was telling me that you got possessed by some kind of demon at some point?”

Richter: “Oh… That… Well…uh…oh, look! It’s Franswa! Hi there, son!”

Franswa: “Uh, hi, dad.”

Richter: “I don’t believe you’ve met Dr. Zack, Franswa! He helps out with Cloud. Doctor, this is my older son Franswa.”

Zack: “Nice to meet you.”

Franswa: “Hi. Dad, can you take a look at this brochure for the culinary institute? They have financial aid programs and—“

Richter: “Franswa, how many times have I told you no?!”

Franswa: “I’ve saved up a lot of my own money! If you just help me a little—“

Richter: “No. Now go get started on dinner.”

Franswa: “I hate you!! I hate all of you!”

(he runs off crying. zack and reeve look stunned)

Richter: “He didn’t mean he hated you as well. He meant he hated us Belmont’s as a whole.”

Zack: “Why won’t you let him go?”

Richter: “Because! He’s my son! My son can’t be a baker!”

Zack: “But he’s not your son.”

Richter: “No…not technically…he’s my brother’s son. And he happens to be a baker, but no! I raised Franswa! And I can’t have any son of mine being a cook!”

Zack: “Why? Is he talented?”

Richter: “Extremely! He prepares the most delicious meals! You must come for dinner at our house tonight!”

Zack: “Oh…uh…I don’t wanna impose…”

Richter: “Oh, one more person is nothing! He already cooks for like seven people. Besides, turning down an invite to the Belmont house is a great insult!”

Zack: “Okay, then. I’d love to come.”

Richter: “Splendid! I’ll go tell Franswa to set another place at the table!”

(he heads back towards his house. reeve and zack look at each other)

Zack: “What have I gotten myself into?”

Reeve: “Well, I was there for Thanksgiving. The company is…interesting, but the food is excellent.”

Zack: “At least it’ll give me more time with Cloud. I feel like if I keep trying I’ll eventually figure it out.”

Reeve: “It’s like a code with no key.”

Zack: “Exactly! And it’s incredibly frustrating! But I just can’t give up hope!”

Reeve: “Don’t. Because when you finally crack it, you won’t understand what took you so long.”

Zack: “Exactly.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(so later that evening zack goes over to the belmonts house with a bottle of wine and rings the bell. tifa answers it)

Tifa: “Zack! Welcome! Come in!”

Zack: *comes inside* “Thanks for inviting me.” *hands her the wine*

Tifa: “Glad you could make it. Oh, thanks!”

(she shuts the door and he follows her into the main room where the elder belmonts are all sitting.)

Tifa: “Everyone, this is Dr. Zack Mainstay. Zack, this is Trevor, Simon and Juste Belmont.”

Zack: “Hello.”

Trevor: “A doctor, eh? Are you a doctor of vampireology?”

Zack: “Uh…”

Simon: “Maybe he’s a doctor of monsterology!”

Zack: “Um…”

Juste: “He certainly is built to fight monsters!”

Zack: “Actually, I’m just a regular medical doctor.”

Belmonts: *blink blink*

Simon: “Oh.”

Trevor: “Well can you write me out a prescription then?”

Tifa: *guiding zack away* “Why don’t we go into the kitchen?”

(they go. in the kitchen franswa is cooking while zell helps. hugh is also trying to help but is mostly getting in the way. richter is standing there with baby duke asleep on his shoulder)

Richter: “Zack! Welcome to our home!”

Zack: “Thanks. This is quite a house you’ve got.”

Richter: “Of course! The Belmont estate has been passed down from generation to generation! We just move it wherever we need to go!”

Zell: “Hi, Dr. Zack!”

Zack: “Hi, Zell.”

Franswa: *shooing hugh away* “No, Hugh! I’ve got it covered!”

Hugh: “You’re just boiling water!”

Franswa: “Remember the last time I let you boil water?”

Hugh: “I don’t know how the pot exploded!”

Tifa: “Um, this is Richter’s nephew Hugh. Hugh, this is Dr. Zack Mainstay.”

Zack: “Hello.”

Hugh: “Hi. You a doctor of monsterology?”

Zack: “Is that even a real word?”

Tifa: “Anyway, Zack, have a seat. Cloud’s taking a nap right now.”

Richter: “If we got him drunk he could join as a normal person.”

Tifa: “You know we’ve decided not to do that anymore.”

Richter: “But why? He doesn’t try to hump the couch when he’s drunk.”

Tifa: “Because it’s bad for him!”

Zack: “And we are trying to preserve his brain cells here.”

Tifa: “Exactly!”

Hugh: “Fire!”

Franswa: *patting out the fire* “How is there a fire?! You were chopping celery!”

Zell: “Geez, Hugh! Reno cooks better than you!”

Hugh: *blink blink*

Zell: “That guy Reno.”

Hugh: *blink blink*

Zell: “He lives across the street.”

Hugh: *blink blink*

Zell: “Crazy red hair, tends to drink a lot.”

Hugh: *blink blink*

Zell: “He had a cooking show on TV and he made meatloaf so bad even he couldn’t eat it.”

Hugh: *blink blink*

Zell: “I kinda thought…everybody knew who he was.”

Hugh: “…No.”

Zell: “Oh.”

Franswa: “Hugh, why don’t you set the table?”

Hugh: “Is that an important job?”

Franswa: “Uh, sure! Can’t eat without plates and forks!”

Hugh: “I’ll do the best job ever!” *grabs everything he needs and runs into the dining room*

Richter: *chuckles* “He is so deluded.”

Cloud’s voice: *from upstairs* “There’s monkeys in my shoes!”

Tifa: “Well, Cloud’s awake. I better go tend to him.”

Zack: “I’ll help.”

(they start to head upstairs)

Zack: “The Belmont’s certainly are…interesting.”

Tifa: “They have their quirks, I know. But I’m happy here.”

Zack: “That’s all that matters. Any plans to marry Richter?”

Tifa: *blushes* “Not yet. But I can’t say I’m against the idea.”

(they go into cloud’s room. he sits there looking dazed out.)

Tifa: “Hi, Cloud!”

Cloud: “…………”

Tifa: *sigh* “I forgot his shoes. He’ll stare at his toes for hours otherwise. I’ll be right back.”

(she leaves. zack goes over to cloud and sits next to him on the bed)

Zack: “Hey, buddy.”

Cloud: “……………………………”

Zack: “I’m still here! And I’m not giving up till you’re better!”

Cloud: “…………………………”

Zack: “I won’t leave you ha—“

Tifa: “I’m back!”

(she walks back in and cloud is now staring at zack. zack is kind of staring back at cloud. tifa pauses in the doorway)

Zack: “…Cloud?”

Cloud: “…Za…ack?”

Zack: “Cloud?? Do you know me? Do you recognize me, Cloud?”

(but cloud just turns back and looks at his feet again. zack sighs in defeat)

Zack: “Dammit. I hate when that happens.”

Tifa: *coming over with the shoes* “I know. It’s frustrating. But at the same time it’s also kinda hopeful.”

Zack: “I know he knows me. But at the same time I don’t think he knows it.” *pauses* “That doesn’t even make any sense.”

Tifa: “Believe it or not, it does to me.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, after dinner, everyone is sitting around the table. cloud is sitting next to zack.)

Zack: “Wonderful meal, Franswa.”

Franswa: *small smile* “…Thanks.”

Zell: “Franswa’s the best! He’s gonna be famous someday!”

Trevor: “That’s right! A famous vampire hunter!”

Zell: “Uh…”

Franswa: “Grandpa one, stop it!”

Simon: “You’ll go down in history!”

Juste: “And you’ll hang in the hall of heroes!”

Franswa: “Stop it!! All of you stop it!!”

(he runs out. zell frowns and runs out after him.)

Hugh: “…I’d like to be a famous vampire hunter!”

Trevor: “No one said you could speak!”

Simon: “You couldn’t even set the table right!”

Hugh: *frowns* “…I tried my best…”

Zack: *blink blink*

Cloud: *falls off the chair*

Tifa: “Oh, Cloud!”

Zack: “It’s okay. I’ve got him.”

(he gets down on the floor and lifts cloud back on the chair)

Zack: “There you go, buddy!”

Cloud: *mutters* “…Th…anks.”

Zack: “What was that, Cloud?”

Tifa: “Did he say something?”

Richter: “It was probably something about kitties.”

Zack: “I thought he thanked me.”

Tifa: “Really?!”

Zack: *shrugs* “I don’t know. Maybe I’m hearing things.” *sigh* “Anyway, thanks for your hospitality. I really should go.”

Richter: “Already? We didn’t have dessert yet!”

Franswa’s voice: *sobbing* “I hate you!”

Tifa: “…Although it doesn’t sound like it’s coming.”

Trevor: “It better!”

Zack: “I really should be getting home. Thanks again. I’ll let myself out. Have a good night.” *to cloud* “Good night, Cloud.”

Cloud: “…Kitties.”

Richter: “I told you.”

(zack leaves the house. he stands outside and looks up at the night sky with a sigh)

Zack: “I know you’re in there somewhere, Cloud.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(a few days later in loser land, everyone is sitting around playing tiddly winks, except hojo)

Nida: “This is awesome! Just like old times!”

Heidegger: “Gya haa haa! I was thinner then!”

Scarlet: “Soon nobody else is going to be able to fit on the couch with you.”

Seymour: “By then his smell will probably kill people.”

Kuja: “It’s already killing me. Are we almost done with this stupid game?”

(then hojo comes in, frowning)

Hojo: “Dammit! I can’t believe they moved that meeting!”

Scarlet: “You mean meeting or court date?”

Hojo: “I mean meeting!”

Scarlet: “Because I say meeting when I usually mean court date.”

Hojo: “It’s the meeting for my amateur video perverts club! And I can’t miss it!”

Nida: “So what? You have no life, you old creep!”

Hojo: “I was supposed to meet up with my online boyfriend then!”

Kuja: “Online boyfriend?”

Hojo: “Yes! I’ve been having ‘cyber sex’.”

Kuja: “I wish you were doing that with me. Then I wouldn’t have to touch you.”

Scarlet: “And how old is this ‘boyfriend’?”

Hojo: “I don’t know, but I assume he’s young!”

Seymour: “Why?”

Hojo: “His spelling is atrocious!” *sigh* “I guess I’ll just have to reschedule.”

Kuja: “Can we have cyber sex from now on?”

Hojo: “No. You refuse to even use a computer.”

Kuja: “I’ll chip my nails.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, barret and cid are talking outside the ramble room.)

Barret: “Yo! We’ve been searching high n’ low for dat there thing’s grandpa and we ain’t found sh*t!”

Cid: “@#$#@%!&*#%^&#$!”

Barret: “Damn, right! Where could dat old man be at?”

Cid: “………………”

Barret: “Damn, foo! You good for nothin’! Les’ go to the park again. Them fine ass girls joggin’ there anyway.”

(they head out. lark walks by)

Lark: “Hi, guys!”

Barret: “You seen skittles’ grandpa?”

Lark: “Bugenhagen? No.”

Cid: “@%@!%&@*&*@#$^&!”

Barret: “Right, Cid! Later, girl! We outtie!”

(they go. then red comes over from where he had been standing with a sad sigh)

Lark: “They’re not giving up, are they.”

Red: “No. And they’re using up their remaining brain cells in the process.”

Lark: “Well…maybe you should do some searching yourself, instead of sitting around here moping about it.”

Red: *blink blink* “You’re right. Sitting here being depressed isn’t going to help find grandpa! I’ll have to get out there myself! Thanks, Lark!”

(he runs off and she looks shocked.)

Lark: “Wow. I actually motivated him. I thought I sounded like a total bitch!”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, at the therapy center, koudelka and yuri are in the room with their patients. squall and rudy sit on one side of the room, and serge and cloud are on the other. koudelka and yuri are focusing on serge and cloud and totally ignoring the other two. squall looks even more bored than usual.)

Rudy: “And the mouse can talk. How many mice do you know that can do that?”

Squall: “Whatever. I don’t care. Shut up.”

Rudy: “I bet you can’t name 5!”

Squall: “Leave me alone.”

Koudelka: “Rudy, shut up about the damn mouse already.”

Rudy: “But he’s *amazing*.”

Koudelka: “Shut up!”

Yuri: “I’m telling you, it’s better that they stay this way.”

Koudelka: “Shut up, Yuri. Argh! Breaking Rudy seems effortless now! I can’t even get Serge to blink!”

Yuri: “Maybe he’s dead.”

Koudelka: “Now that we got one of them talking again, we’re even more expected to make these guys act normal again!”

Rudy: “And that mouse is *really* soft.”

Koudelka: “Well…somewhat normal anyway.”

Squall: “Can I go to the bathroom?”

Koudelka: “You don’t have to go to the bathroom. You just wanna get away from Rudy.”

Rudy: “I wish I was in the circus.”

Squall: “So?”

Koudelka: “You sit there and you try to remember your childhood like you’re supposed to!”

Squall: “I don’t want to!”

Koudelka: “Well suck it up!”

Yuri: “Koudelka?”

Koudelka: “What?!”

Yuri: “Geez! You don’t have to be a bitch about it!”

Koudelka: *deep breath* “Fine. What is it, Yuri?”

Yuri: “I think we should take a break.”

Koudelka: “Best idea you ever had. Put some music on for them.”

Squall: “Oh god no.”

Koudelka:: “Do what I told you, Squall!”

Yuri: *looking at tapes* “Disney favorites or the whale mating calls?”

Koudelka: *blink blink* “Whale mating calls?”

Yuri: “What? I just picked them up last week at a garage sale. Two for ten cents.”

Koudelka: “You are sick. Just put in the Disney one and let’s go.”

(so yuri shoves the tape in the deck and turns it on. ‘a whole new world’ from aladdin comes on, and they head for the door. just as koudelka grabs the doorknob, someone starts sobbing.)

Koudelka: “Yuri. You are such a girl.”

Yuri: “Why?”

Koudelka: *turns and looks at him* “Oh.”

Yuri: “You thought I was crying at this song?”

Koudelka: “I wouldn’t put it past you.”

Yuri: “Well I’m not!”

Koudelka: “Well who is crying then?”

(they look and who’s crying? serge! he’s actually sobbing hysterically. yuri and koudelka drop their jaws in shock)

Koudelka: “What. The. F**k.”

Yuri: “What, did he fall off a magic carpet or something?”

Serge: “Where am I? What world is this? Am I alive here? Am I dead? Is that skeleton guy here? He’s scary. He’s gonna eat me. And then I’ll be dead in both worlds! Both worlds! He’s a skeleton clown. Skeleton clown! Who does that?! That’s scary. That’s just not right.”

Yuri: *mutters* “Something’s just not right all right.”

Koudelka: “I guess the song being about worlds triggered something.”

Yuri: “Triggered the crazy you mean.”

Koudelka: “I don’t believe this. Both times it was just a total accident.”

Yuri: “Yeah, but the paying customers don’t know that.”

Squall: “Whatever… You’re both stupid.”

Koudelka: “Squall…don’t make me say it again.”

Squall: “You can’t make me do anything!”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(and so cecilia, jack, riddel, glenn, zack, richter and tifa are all waiting outside for their friends about an hour or so later…)

Tifa: “So how has Rudy been adjusting?”

Cecilia: “Well…”

Jack: “Good.”

Everybody: “……………”

Tifa: “…Okay…”

(koudelka then comes walking over)

Koudelka: “I have good news for one of you.”

Zack: “Cloud?!”

Riddel: “Serge?”

Koudelka: “Yup. Serge. We cracked him. He’s talking now. Well, crying mostly. If I were you I’d just try and keep him in one world.”

Glenn: “This is excellent news!”

Riddel: “Can we see him?”

Koudelka: “Of course.”

(riddel, glenn, jack and cecilia all follow koudelka into the back. tifa, zack and richter stay where they are. tifa is frowning, but zack really looks upset)

Tifa: “Oh…”

Zack: “There goes that momentary happiness.”

Tifa: “He’s the only one left.”

Richter: “It could be impossible.”

Tifa: “Richter…”

Richter: “I know you want to stay hopeful, but that’s really something you should prepare yourselves for. Some things are impossible.”

Zack: “…That may be true. But I’ll never give up on Cloud. And I’m going to use everything I’ve got to try and help him.” *turns to tifa* “Do you mind if he comes and stays with me for awhile?”

Tifa: “Uh…no.”

Zack: “I’ve got some overdue vacation I’ve been meaning to use anyway.”

Tifa: “Sure. Of course you can.”

Richter: “…I hate to ask this question, but…what if it’s all for nothing?”

Zack: “It can’t be. I know he’s in there. I just know it.”

Tifa: “Zack…if anyone can help Cloud…I think you can.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(so zack takes cloud home. bria meets him at the door)

Bria: “Do you need help?”

Zack: “No, I’ve got him. Come on, Cloud.” *leads him inside*

Cloud: “………Sleepy tired!”

Zack: “Okay, you can take a nap. Let’s just get you upstairs.”

(zack takes cloud into one of the bedrooms and puts him down on the bed. cloud closes his eyes and goes right to sleep. zack leaves the room with a sigh and joins bria in the kitchen. she’s pouring tea)

Bria: “Want some tea?”

Zack: “Thanks.”

(he sits at the table and she joins him with mugs of tea for both of them)

Bria: “So what are your plans?”

Zack: “I don’t know. I don’t really have a plan. All I know is that before I take him back to that center again I want to try for myself.”

Bria: “You don’t think they can do it? They did help the others.”

Zack: “I know. But they’ve been trying everything I had already suggested with no results. Maybe he’s not affected by the same kind of thing. Maybe it’s something more personal.”

Bria: *raises eyebrow* “Like a person?”

Zack: *looking down at his mug* “…He calls me by my name, Bria. I’m the only one he does that with.”

Bria: “Well then. Maybe you’re the key.”

Zack: “Right. I’ve been thinking about that. Especially since it was a conversation with him that triggered my memory. I thought maybe there was a chance.”

Bria: “Well it’s good you brought him here then. Because anything is worth a shot.”

Zack: “That’s what I told myself.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, back at the condo, dante and alucard are watching tv when lloyd comes stomping down the stairs)

Lloyd: “DAMMIT!”

Dante: “………………”

Lloyd: “Aren’t you gonna ask me what’s wrong?”

Dante: “No.”

Lloyd: “You’re a jackass, Dante! And my online boyfriend had to change our meeting to next week.”

Dante: “Wow, Lloyd. You can scare off someone who can’t even see you? That’s amazingly sad.”

Lloyd: “Screw you! He had a good reason! And my name is *Vergil*!”

Dante: “I’m sure he did have a good reason. He can’t make it because you made him up.”

Lloyd: “F**K YOU! I did not make him up!”

Dante: “Uh huh. Sure you didn’t.”

Lloyd: “Just wait, Dante! When he comes here next week you’re gonna be in total shock!”

Dante: “Go back to your room and cry yourself to sleep.”

Lloyd: “Go to hell!” *stomps out*

Alucard: “You really think he made him up?”

Dante: “Would it surprise you if he did?”

Alucard: “……No.”

Dante: “Exactly.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, outside, vincent and auron are taking a walk)

Auron: “So, how have you been? We haven’t talked much lately.”

Vincent: “I’ve been good.”

Auron: “You sound happy.”

Vincent: “I really have no complaints.”

Auron: “Has he been spending a lot of time with you?”

Vincent: “Some.”

Auron: “You’ll never walk away, will you.”

Vincent: “You already know the answer to that.”

Auron: “I must admit, in all the time I’ve been around you I can never figure out why.”

Vincent: “What are you talking about?”

Auron: “Why you love him.”

Vincent: *small smile* “That’s always the mystery, isn’t it.”

Auron: “I’m sorry?”

Vincent: “It’s not something that can ever be explained. An outsider can’t possibly see things the same way. To you, he seems only mean and callous. How could I possibly love that, you wonder. But that’s not what I see. And even I must admit that love is not always easy. But nothing is. And besides, love conquers all.”

Auron: “A cliché.”

Vincent: “Perhaps. But one I believe in.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, at the disco-center…franswa and nemesis are at their registers. franswa looks totally bored. the smoke alarm is going off. lloyd stands nearby checking the shelves)

Franswa: “I hate working here.”

Hugh: *runs over with part of his hair on fire* “It’s out of control! It’s the devil! The devil, Franswa! He’s trying to push his way out through the floor!”

Franswa: “Your hair’s on fire.”

Hugh: “What?! Oh my god!” *runs off*

Nemesis: *is knitting* “STARS!”

Franswa: “You said it.”

Nightmare: *walks by carrying boxes* “Nightmare is bored! Why won’t boss man let Nightmare play his music in the store? Nightmare thinks it will attract more customers!”

Lloyd: “Because Rufus said showtunes are gay, you homo!”

Nightmare: “WHAT DID YOU CALL NIGHTMARE!?”

Lloyd: “Uh, it wasn’t me. It was this…uh…Rufus brand talking spatula!” *drops it on the floor and steps on it* “Damn spatula! Be nicer!”

Box: “……Rufus Shinra is not responsible for any toxic chemicals that may leak from this talking spatula!”

Lloyd: *steps on it again* “Shut up!”

(the smoke alarm finally stops)

Hugh’s voice: “Franswa! I think all that holy water finally made the devil retreat.”

Franswa: *totally bored* “Uh huh.”

(the doors to the store open and barret and cid enter.)

Barret: “Yo! Why we gotta come to some Shinra store?! I don’t think light bulb’s grandpa gonna be in here shoppin’ for Rufus brand crap!”

Cid: “@#%#@$^#&@%#$@%!”

Barret: “Well hurry yo’ ass up about it!”

(they go deeper into the store. then the doors open again and koudelka, yuri and radius enter.)

Koudelka: “Go get your vitamins. We’ll stay here.”

(so radius wanders off into the store. yuri and koudelka stay near the entrance. yuri sniffs the air)

Yuri: “Smells like burning…plastic. And cloth.”

Koudelka: “It always smells like burning something in here.”

Yuri: “So now we’re not gonna see that Cloud guy back for awhile, huh.”

Koudelka: “No. Dr. Zack said he was going to try and work with him for awhile. They prepaid, so I’m not really worried about it.”

Yuri: “Do you think he’ll be able to help him?”

Koudelka: “I don’t know. Considering our successes were pretty much accidents, he’s got as good a chance as anybody else.”

(then cid and barret start towards the door. cid spots koudelka and smiles)

Barret: “I told you his ass won’t be in this dump! And it stinks in here! Les go!”

Cid: *walks over to koudelka*

Barret: “Dammit, Cid!”

Cid: “@#$#$^&@%#@$%*#$^@!”

Koudelka: “Oh. You again.”

Cid: “#$%!@%^*&W^%@^&?”

Koudelka: “No.”

Cid: “@#%!@$%^@#&*@#%&*#$?”

Koudelka: “No.”

Cid: “@$%@^*%@&*@!^&*#$&*#&@$^^@^**$#@^&@?”

Koudelka: “Still no.”

Cid: “#$%#^@&@*#$%&*#$^&?!”

Koudelka: “Look. You won’t be seeing me again unless you need therapy.”

Cid: *thinks a moment* “……………@#$@^&*$%#$%&*@!”

Koudelka: “A depressed friend? Really?” *looks at barret* “He doesn’t look very depressed.”

Barret: “Yo, he ain’t talkin’ ‘bout me!”

Cid: “@#$@%#^$@#^@&@*@^&$!”

Koudelka: “Fine. Bring him by next week then.”

Radius: *comes over with vitamins* “I bought extra! In case you ingrates don’t take me back here for another two months!”

Yuri: “Put a sock in it, grandpa.”

Koudelka: “Let’s go.”

Cid: “@#$@%^#&@&@!”

(koudelka, yuri and radius leave. cid is all smiles)

Barret: “Yo! What you doin’ hitting on her? She don’t like yo’ ass!”

Cid: “@#^@#&*$$#%^*!”

Barret: “Yo, whateva! And who be dis here depressed friend yo’ talkin’ ‘bout?”

Cid: “!@#$%!!”

Barret: “Oh. Well that do make pretty good sense.”

(they leave. franswa sighs)

Franswa: “There go our only customers for the day.”

Nemesis: *tries on the hat he’s been knitting* “STARS!”

Nightmare: “If anyone’s gay it’s Nemesis!”

Nemesis: “STARS!!”

Nightmare: “Nightmare saw the way you looked at him in the company shower!”

Franswa: “I have got to get out of here.”

Hugh: *looks triumphant* “I have done it! The family would be proud! I used all the holy water, but it was worth it! Aren’t you proud of me, cousin?”

(franswa goes to open his mouth, but the fire alarm goes off again)

Franswa: “Uh…”

Hugh: *chin trembles* “No!! No!! But I used all the holy water! How could it possibly be!?” *runs off*

Lloyd: *takes a spatula off the shelf and crushes it*

Franswa: “…What are you doing?”

Lloyd: “It said I was fat!”

Franswa: “That’s not one of the things it says.”

Lloyd: “I know what it said!”

Franswa: *shakes his head and mutters* “I’ve gotta find something else.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(and so zack is at home with cloud. cloud is sitting on the bed looking dazed as usual. zack is before him, pacing)

Zack: “Okay, Cloud. I’m not sure what made you like this, but I’m gonna sure as hell try and pull you out of this. So first I’m gonna tell you the story of what happened when we went to Nibelheim. Maybe that will ring some bells.”

(so he goes into a very elaborate telling of the story, and even acts out most of the parts. it goes on for some time. then…)

Zack: “And then we woke up in a lab, but that’s another story.”

Cloud: “……………….” *blink blink*

Zack: *defeated sigh* “Nothing, huh?” *brightens* “Okay! Well I guess I’ll tell you about what happened in the lab.”

(so he continues with the story and his very animated telling of it. Cloud watches in silence. then…)

Zack: “And I got shot…” *pretends to get shot and falls to the floor* “And I passed out. And when I woke up, you were gone.” *props himself up on his elbow* “Cloud? Anything?”

Cloud: “…Where did the kitty go?”

Zack: *sigh* “I guess not.”

(he gets up. bria comes in the room)

Bria: “How’s it going?”

Zack: “Not good so far. I told him the story of what happened to us in Nibelheim up until we got separated. He was quiet for the whole thing, but there hasn’t been any changes.”

Bria: “Oh. I’m sorry.”

Zack: “It’s okay. I wasn’t expecting that to be it anyway. It would be too easy.”

Bria: “What’s your next plan?”

Zack: “Well…I guess I could go into some personal stuff… I hope that wasn’t what freaked him out though. And there’s also the stories Tifa told me. I have those too.”

Bria: “Well hopefully something will register and it’ll all pop back into place.”

Zack: “Here’s to hoping.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, red is wandering around an empty planetarium)

Red: *calling* “Grandfather?! Grandfather?!” *sad sigh* “Where could he be?”

Worker: *coming over* “Uh, excuse me, uh……………………………………….sir. But this area is closed for renovations.”

Red: “I’m looking for my grandfather, have you seen him? He’s short and he likes to float in the air. He has white hair and he likes to laugh like Santa Claus.”

(the guy looks confused a moment, but then he leans closer, and holds out ten bucks)

Worker: “…Will you take ten for a bag?”

Red: “I’m not on drugs, you ignoramus!”

Worker: *blink blink* “Really?”

Red: “Never mind!” *stalks away* “I’ll never find grandfather!”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(a week later at the therapy center, koudelka and yuri are in the room with their remaining patients – squall, rudy and serge. squall sits there looking bored, rudy is chattering away and serge is crying.)

Yuri: “I miss the old days.”

Koudelka: “I feel like I should just run a daycare at this point.”

Yuri: “Is it worth the money? Is it really?”

Koudelka: “You know…I really have to think about that one.”

Serge: *sobbing* “I woke up to the skeleton clown leaning over my bed this morning! I tried to attack him but he ran away screaming about how he was my friend! My friend! I don’t have any friends!”

Koudelka: *mutters* “This from a guy who’s followed around by like 50 people.”

Rudy: “Clowns? I love clowns! They have clowns at the circus! Clowns are funny!”

Squall: “I’d rather be playing catch with my dad right now. Which means I’d rather be dead.”

Yuri: “You ever hear anything about that guy Cloud?”

Koudelka: “No. I’m assuming there’s been no change. I’m pretty sure we would have seen him back here by now if there was.”

Yuri: “Then we could add him to our even more loony bin.”

Koudelka: “Yeah. Speaking of that, have fun.” *starts to walk away*

Yuri: *grabs her arm* “Hey! Where are you going?!”

Koudelka: “To the villains group.”

Yuri: “You can’t leave me with them!”

Koudelka: “I sure as hell can! This is your group anyway. Besides, you always wanted them to talk.”

Serge: *sobbing* “And there’s this scary guy who I swear is going to molest me! He says he’s a magician named Sneff, but I don’t believe him!”

Rudy: “Magic?! I bet they have that at the circus!”

Squall: “Kill me. Now.”

Yuri: “I take it back!”

Koudelka: “Sorry! Have fun!” *leaves*

Yuri: “Damn you, Koudelka!!!”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, in loser land, hojo is getting all spiffed up for his date)

Hojo: *spraying cologne all over himself*

Nida: “Would you knock it off? You’re stinkin’ up the place!”

Kuja: “It already smells awful in here all the time.”

Heidegger: “Probably because of the skunk! Gya haa haa!”

Stinky: *snorts*

Scarlet: “More like all your farting, fat ass.”

Heidegger: “That too! Gya haa haa!”

Seymour: “And all those chemicals from the lab don’t help either.”

Hojo: “Oh, please! Less than half of those are toxic!”

Scarlet: “I just want you to know if you get arrested no one’s coming to bail you out.”

Hojo: “I understand. I’m fairly sure it would be my third strike anyway.”

Kuja: “Don’t worry. I’ll still spend your money while you’re in prison.”

Hojo: “I have a feeling this meeting is going to go very well.” *shoves candy in his pocket*

Seymour: “Where does this poor unsuspecting kid live anyway?”

Hojo: “That’s the best part! Right in the condos next door!”

Everyone: *blink blink*

Scarlet: “Really? I don’t remember seeing any kids.”

Hojo: “Well he says he lives with his abusive brother. So this should be easy.”

Nida: “You’re an awful person!”

Hojo: “Yes, I am awfully clever. Well! I’m off! Be sure and answer the door when I’m gone!”

(he leaves.)

Nida: “I didn’t mean he was clever! I meant he was awful! As in horrible!”

Scarlet: “At least everyone I proposition is legal. Well, most of the time. Some of those teenagers look really old.”

Heidegger: “Gya haa haa! So do you!”

Scarlet: “Shut up, Heidegger!”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, over at zack’s house, zack is sitting in the kitchen looking depressed when bria comes in)

Bria: “Hey.”

Zack: “…Hi.”

Bria: “Zack, you’re being too hard on yourself.”

Zack: “………Nothing’s working. It’s been a complete failure.”

Bria: “No it hasn’t! You knew this was going to be hard when you started this!”

Zack: “…………………”

Bria: “The best thing to do is to keep talking to Cloud. You’ve been saying so all week! Why give up now?”

Zack: “I’m not giving up.” *sigh* “I guess I’ll get back upstairs.”

Bria: “Okay. I’m having a friend over, but we’ll stay out of your way.”

Zack: *gets up* “That’s fine.”

(he goes upstairs. then the doorbell rings. bria goes and gets the door. it’s reeve and lily)

Bria: “Hi, Reeve! Come on in!” *gasp* “Is this Lily?”

Reeve: “Yeah. I wasn’t planning on bringing her, but I needed to baby-sit. Hope you don’t mind.”

Bria: “Not at all! I can’t believe I’ve gone this long without seeing her! Hi, sweetie!”

Lily: *giggles*

Bria: “Can I hold her?”

Reeve: “Of course!”

(he hands lily to bria and shuts the door behind him. they go into the living room and sit down. lily is babbling to bria in baby talk)

Bria: “She is adorable.”

Reeve: “She’s definitely not a shy one.”

Bria: “How old is she?”

Reeve: “She was ten months on the tenth.”

Bria: “Oh my gosh. Time does fly. Zack’s told me a lot about her. She’s so beautiful.”

Reeve: “She has good genes. I.E, not mine.”

Bria: “Oh stop it. So how have you been?”

Reeve: “Great. Really great actually. How about you?”

Bria: “I’ve been good…”

Reeve: “Are you seeing anyone?”

Bria: “No…but it’s fine. I don’t really have time for that anyway. Not with the whole thing with Zack and Cloud…it’s draining me a bit.”

Reeve: “That’s not going well I guess.”

Bria: “Not really. He’s been here a week and Cloud is still the same. Zack’s been saying over and over how he knew it would be hard, but deep down I think he thought he’d be able to do it by now.”

Reeve: “I see.”

Bria: “He just has such a strong bond with Cloud…it really hurts Zack to see him like this.”

Reeve: “I understand.”

Bria: “He’s been spending hours and hours with Cloud just talking to him. He barely eats and he barely sleeps. I’ve tried to convince him to take some breaks, but he won’t. He just gets more frustrated. So now I just encourage him to continue. I mean…something has to happen eventually, right?”

Reeve: “…That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(upstairs, sometime later, zack is kneeling before cloud and he looks desperate)

Zack: “Cloud…I don’t know what else to say to you! I’ve been talking to you for a week straight about every stupid little thing I remember! And it’s not working. You haven’t even called me by my name this whole time. Don’t you remember me at all, Cloud? Zack! I’m Zack! Zack!” *grabs cloud by the shoulders* “Zack!! I’m Zack!! Do you remember, Cloud? Zack! My name is Zack!”

Cloud: *blink blink* “Puppies?”

Zack: “Argh!”

(he releases cloud and walks away, slamming the door behind him. he goes into the hallway and starts pacing back and forth, looking very upset. he finally stands still for a moment and seems to have an idea. he starts to head down the hall just as bria comes towards him)

Bria: “Zack? Is everything okay?”

Zack: “Yes. Sorry. I know you have your guest here. I’m sorry.”

Bria: “It’s okay, Reeve just left. He had his daughter with him, and she needed to take a nap.”

Zack: “Reeve was here?”

Bria: *hesitantly* “Zack…maybe you should take a break for awhile. I’m sure Cloud is tired too…”

Zack: “How would I even be able to tell?! He barely even says anything anymore! He just stares at me all the time! That’s why I need to get him drunk.” *starts down the hall again*

Bria: *going after him* “Zack! You told me you and Tifa both agreed not to do that anymore!”

Zack: “I don’t have a choice, Bria!”

Bria: “What are you talking about?!” *quickens her pace and grabs his arm* “Zack! I know you’re frustrated! I know you thought you’d be able to help Cloud by now! But sometimes you can’t save everybody!”

(zack pauses where he is and bows his head. bria comes around to face him and finds that he’s crying)

Bria: “……Oh, Zack. I’m sorry.”

Zack: “………………I………I just need to talk to Cloud.”

Bria: “…I know.” *pause* “Look. Take a break. Please. Just go lie down for a little while. You’ll feel better.”

(zack just nods silently and goes back upstairs)

Bria: *sigh* “I hope Cloud recovers soon…I don’t know how much more of this Zack can take.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, over at the condos, lloyd is all dressed up and pacing around nervously. dante stands nearby enjoying a popsicle. alucard is taking a brand new computer out of the box.)

Dante: “Look at Lloyd nervous about his fake date.”

Lloyd: “Screw your ass, Dante! Call me by my real name! And my date isn’t fake!”

Dante: “Fine. Then he’s invisible.”

Lloyd: “Shut the hell up! He’s not invisible! He’s just late!”

(then the doorbell rings. dante and alucard look at the door in surprise)

Alucard: “…Uh…”

Lloyd: “See! I told you!”

Dante: “It’s probably just Sephiroth begging for someone to hang out with him again.”

Lloyd: “Nuh-uh! It’s my totally hot boyfriend!”

(and he answers the door. and everybody stares in shock. because standing there is hojo, his hands full of candy.)

Hojo: “Uh, hello. Is Vergil at home?”

Lloyd: “I’m…Vergil.”

Hojo: *blink blink* “You are?”

Lloyd: “You’re…Alexander?”

Hojo: “Um, yes.”

Both: “……………”

Lloyd: “You don’t look anything like your picture.”

Hojo: “Well, that photo wasn’t really recent. Or of me.”

Lloyd: “Oh.”

Hojo: “I expected someone…quite different then you.”

Lloyd: “What do you mean?!”

Hojo: “Well, I expected someone…younger.”

Lloyd: “What?! Why??”

Hojo: “Well…you can’t really spell. Or use capital letters.”

Lloyd: “Yes I do!”

Hojo: “You never used the letter ‘F’ in anything either. Ever.”

Lloyd: “Well that button pissed me off so I broke if off the keyboard!”

Alucard: *mutters* “I’m really glad we bought this new computer.”

Hojo: “I see.”

Both: “…………………”

Lloyd: “Well…do you wanna have sex?”

Hojo: “……………No. I don’t think so.”

Lloyd: “What?! But you’re a hideous internet pervert!”

Hojo: “True. But you’re not my type.”

Lloyd: “What?! How am I not your type?!”

Hojo: “Don’t IM me anymore.”

(he leaves. lloyd stands there looking totally shocked. dante chuckles)

Dante: “Wow, Lloyd! You got rejected by some child molester you met on the internet! I don’t think there’s anything in your sad life that’s possibly worse than that.” *pause* “Well, you are you. I’m sure you’ll think of something.”

Lloyd: *bursts into tears* “F**K YOU, DANTE!”

(he runs upstairs. dante chuckles and goes over to alucard)

Dante: “That was awesome. It’s for times like that that I keep him around.”

Lloyd’s voice: *loud sobbing from upstairs*

Alucard: “He sounds a little upset.”

Dante: “Whatever. He’ll get over it.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, outside the video game therapy center, cid and barret have red on a leash and are trying to drag him inside)

Cid: “@#$@%&#*%#$^&!”

Red: “No. All the times I said I wanted help this wasn’t what I meant.”

Barret: “Yo! C’mon, asswipe! You’s always complain’ you so depressed!”

Red: “Now you’re just cursing at me.”

(they go inside. neither koudelka nor yuri is anywhere to be seen.)

Cid: “#$!@#%@%@#%&? @#$#$@^%@^@&@&#!”

Barret: “I dun know, foo! I look like some damn psychic?”

Koudelka: *walking over* “Huh? Someone call for a psychic?” *pause* “Oh. It’s you guys.”

Cid: “@#%@#$^@#^&*#$%&#$&*!” *points to red*

Koudelka: “That’s your friend? What is it?”

Red: “Please don’t demean me.”

Koudelka: “Sorry. I’ve just never seen anything like you before.”

Red: “You’re not alone on that.”

Barret: “Dis here hermit crab be depressed and sh*t!”

Koudelka: “And why is that? He’s forced to hang around you two?”

Red: “Finally! Someone sees it like it is! But it’s also because of my grandfather.”

Koudelka: “Your grandfather?”

Red: “He’s on lots of medication, and no one seems to know what happened to him. He wandered off months ago and I haven’t been able to find him.”

Koudelka: “Oh, I’m sorry.”

Red: “Grandfather loves the planet. We would often take strolls together talking about the beauty of the planet. Well, he would float.”

Koudelka: “…Float?”

Red: “And I miss his cheerful laughter.” *sigh* “Just like Santa Claus.”

Koudelka: *sweat drops* “Uh…”

(just at that moment, yuri comes over with radius and bugenhagen.)

Yuri: “Hey, Koudelka! This isn’t a kennel! Why do I have to take them for a walk? They don’t have to poop outside!”

Koudelka: “Yuri!”

Red: *blink blink* “Grandfather?!”

Bugenhagen: “Ho ho ho! Nanaki! Your fur is hot pink!”

Barret: “Yo! There his grandpa be at! We found ‘im, Cid!”

Cid: “@#$@^@^$&*$%^!”

Barret: “We knew he was here all along!”

Red: “…Sure you did.” *runs over to him* “Grandfather, I’m going to take you back to Cosmo Canyon and we can sit around the Cosmo Candle together!”

Yuri: “That sounds gay.” *koudelka nudges him* “Ow!”

Bugenhagen: “Ho ho ho! I’m wearing an adult diaper!”

Cid: *grins suggestively at koudelka: “@#$@$%@#^@&#*#^#%?”

Koudelka: “Go away.”

(red, bugenhagen, cid and barret leave. cid looks crushed.)

Radius: “Boogey’s gone too? Now I’m all by myself!”

Yuri: “Well that idea’s totally dead now.”

Koudelka: “Well, we’ve still got the one guy.”

Radius: *hangs head* “They really don’t want me.”

Koudelka: “And we’ll think of something else. We always do.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, at the belmont house, richter sits on the couch playing with the baby as tifa hangs up the phone with a sad sigh)

Tifa: “Still no improvement in Cloud.”

Richter: “I didn’t think so.”

Tifa: “Bria said Zack’s been working with him day and night but there’s still been no improvement.” *frowns* “Poor Zack. He’s probably wearing himself out.”

Richter: “Did you speak with him?”

Tifa: “No. Bria said he’s finally resting.” *sits next to richter and puts her head on his shoulder* “Oh, Richter. I’m scared. What if Cloud really does stay like this forever?”

Richter: “Are you losing faith, Tifa?”

Tifa: “…………”

Richter: *lifts up her chin and looks at her* “Now, Tifa. The strong, fiery woman I fell in love with would never lose faith in someone she loves.”

Tifa: *small smile*

?????: “Plus she’s got huge knockers!”

(they turn around and frown at simon, who is very, very slowly walking in their direction)

Richter: “Grandpa two!”

Simon: “What! She does! It’s a damn compliment!”

Richter: “How long have you been standing there?”

Simon: “Standing? I’m walking! I’ve been here this whole time!”

Richter: *shakes head and mutters* “They’re even too old for me sometimes…”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(meanwhile, back to zack’s house, he’s sitting on the floor next to the door in the room where cloud is staying. cloud is sitting on the bed, looking as dazed as ever. zack has a cordless phone in his hand. he dials and puts it to his ear)

Yuri’s voice: “Video Game Character Therapy Center, this is Yuri.”

Zack: “Hi, Yuri. This is Dr. Zack Mainstay.”

Yuri’s voice: “Oh, the doctor. Right. You have Cloud, right? Any luck?”

Zack: “No… That’s actually why I was calling.”

Yuri’s voice: “Bringing him back? To tell you the truth we kinda miss him. The rest of the group is just way too talkative.”

Zack: “No, I’m…not giving up…not just yet. I just…I thought maybe you had some ideas for me? Considering you’ve had some success…”

Yuri’s voice: *snort* “Man, Koudelka is gonna hate me for telling you this, but to tell you the truth it’s pretty much just all trial and error. We just kinda lucked out.”

Zack: “…Lucked…out?”

Yuri’s voice: “Yup.” *pause* “Well, we’re also professionals at this so I’m sure that didn’t hurt either, you know.”

Zack: “…………So there’s nothing in particular you think I should try?”

Yuri’s voice: “I don’t know. Try everything.”

Zack: *mutters* “Try everything… Okay, well…thanks.”

Yuri’s voice: “No problem. If you wanna bring him back in, you don’t have to call first. Just show up.”

Zack: “Okay, bye.”

(he hangs up and gets to his feet. he looks angry. he looks at the phone and then at cloud, looking increasingly upset. then he throws the phone to the floor in disgust)

Zack: “How can he say that?! Try everything!? Like it’s that simple! Like I haven’t already been doing that! Like I haven’t been spending every waking moment doing whatever I thought could help you?!” *kicks the wall* “Try everything…that’s easy for him to say!!” *sighs and leans his head against the wall*

Cloud: “……Zack…?”

Zack: *sigh* “Now you say it.”

(he straightens up and turns to look at cloud, expecting to see the same vacant look in his eyes. but zack immediately freezes. because cloud is staring back at him with a confused look)

Cloud: “Zack…?”

Zack: *hesitantly* “…Cloud…?”

Cloud: “Zack…am I dead?”

Zack: “Cloud…oh my god…you’re—you—no. No! You’re not dead!”

Cloud: “I’m not…?” *looks at his hands* “But…you were shot. They shot you at point blank range right in front of me.”

Zack: *smiling* “I guess it’s just more proof that miracles can happen.”

Cloud: *looks around* “Where am I then?”

(zack walks over to cloud and takes him by the shoulders)

Zack: “Cloud! You—you’re really back! You remember me!”

Cloud: “Of course I do.”

Zack: “What did I say?! What made you remember?”

Cloud: “I don’t know…” *scratches the back of his head* “It was weird… I felt like I was just totally out of it, you know. Like I was lost in my head. And then I heard something that I had heard before. And I remembered you and me in that truck on our way to Midgar. And then…I don’t know…everything snapped back into place.”

Zack: “I don’t know what I said!”

Cloud: *standing* “Zack, where am I?”

Zack: “My house! I took you here to try and help you. Cloud, you—you have no idea what we all went through to try and help you! Especially me and Tifa!”

Cloud: “Tifa…” *smiles* “That doesn’t surprise me. She was always a good friend.”

Zack: “Cloud!” *hugs him* “I can’t believe you’re back! You don’t know how long I’ve waited for this! For days I just did everything I could…”

Cloud: *hugs back* “That doesn’t surprise me either. …I’m just surprised to see you alive.”

Both: *look at each other*

Cloud: “I can hardly believe you’re really here.”

Zack: “I just basically said the same thing, you dork. Stop copying me.”

Cloud: “You haven’t changed much.”

Zack: “Well, I’m a doctor now.”

Cloud: “Mercenary thing didn’t work out for you?”

Zack: “Eh. I never got that far.”

Cloud: “So…what happened to you? How are you here?”

Zack: “It’s a long story. And believe it or not for the longest time I didn’t even remember our time together. None of it. Shinra…SOLDIER…nothing.”

Cloud: “Well what happened?”

Zack: “I…I just kinda remembered our conversation on the truck.” *pause* “Geez. Was that really that important a conversation?”

Cloud: “Sure it was. You were saving my life.”

Zack: “Hey…what did you expect? I’d never leaving you hanging like that.”

Cloud: *smirks* “That sounds familiar too.”

Zack: “Oh yeah? Let’s see if this is familiar…”

(and with that he leans in and he and cloud kiss deeply…)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(sometime later, bria comes over to the room and walks in without knocking)

Bria: “Hey, Zack, I –-OMG! Zack!”

(zack and cloud are in bed, under the covers, but it’s still quite obvious what they’re up to)

Zack: “Bria!”

Cloud: “Bria?” *blink blink* “Your sister?”

Zack: “Uh, yeah.”

Bria: *blink blink* “Cloud…he’s back?”

Zack: “Do you think we’d be doing this otherwise?”

Bria: “I hope not.”

Cloud: “Uh…nice to meet you. Zack’s told me a lot about you too.”

Bria: “Heh…same here. Um, I’ll go now. Whenever you’re, uh, done. I’ll be downstairs.”

(she exits the room, still looking a bit shocked. she heads back down the steps and shakes her head a bit, smiling)

Bria: “Men.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(at the ramble room later that day, everyone is gathered, but no one seems to know why. except tifa. she is all smiles)

Sephiroth: “Why am I standing here when I could be doing something constructive?”

Tifa: “You’ll see! It’s what we’ve all been waiting years for!”

Sephiroth: “No…Rufus is still alive.”

Rufus: “Hey! Shut up!”

Barret: “Yo, c’mon girl! Tell us what dis be about!”

Tifa: “Nope! It’s a surprise!”

Red: *smiling* “Today is a good day. I found my grandfather, and he’s back at Cosmo Canyon where he belongs.”

Cid: “@#@#$!@%^!#$^%&@.” *frowns*

Barret: “Yo, foo! You gotta give up on dat bitch! How many times I gotta tell ya she don’t like yo’ ass!?”

Lark: “Hmm…well since Tifa is so excited it can only mean one thing.”

Shell: “Richter proposed?”

Ashley: “I don’t see a ring on her finger.”

Shell: “Eh. If it doesn’t involve jewelry, what’s the point.”

Reno: “I have a feeling that whatever it is deserves a party!”

Irvine: “Totally!”

Sephiroth: “You idiots just want to throw a party.”

Reno: “Of course we do! We always wanna throw a party!”

Irvine: “The fridge is already pretty stocked with booze.”

Reno: “Then all we gotta do is throw some tunes on and we’ve got it! Instant party!”

Sephiroth: “Oh please.”

Vincent: “You always seem to enjoy yourself at parties, my angel.”

Sephiroth: “That’s only because I like making fun of other people.”

Seifer: “How long are we going to have to wait?!”

Yuffie: “I just saw a car pull up!”

Tifa: “They’re here!”

Irvine: “I hope it’s strippers!”

Zell: “I don’t think Tifa would be excited about strippers.”

Irvine: “She might secretly be bisexual.”

Zell: “Uh…I don’t think so, Irvine.”

Irvine: “Stop ruining my fantasies, Zell.”

(then the door opens, and zack, bria and cloud enter, all smiles)

Cloud: “Hi, everyone!”

Everyone: “……………………”

Sephiroth: “Whoo, Cloud’s drunk. Big surprise.”

Cloud: “I’m not drunk.”

Everyone: “…He’s not?!”

Tifa: “Cloud!” *runs and hugs him* “You’re finally back to normal!”

Cloud: “Hi, Tifa. Thanks for everything.”

Tifa: “It was nothing.”

Barret: “Yo, Cloud! You mean you got yo’ spiky head all sorted out? For good this time!?”

Cloud: “Yeah.”

Cid: “@#%@%@#$^&*#^!”

Cloud: “Thanks, Cid!”

Yuffie: “Cloud! While you were messed up I became a materia inspector! So I need to see your materia.”

Cloud: “I’m not a moron anymore, Yuffie.”

Yuffie: “It was worth a shot.”

Red: “Cloud, it’s good to see you back to normal.”

Cloud: “Thanks, Red.”

Red: “Another person who calls me by my name. This is indeed a wonderful day.”

Vincent: “Cloud…hello. Welcome back.”

Cloud: “Thanks, Vincent!”

Sephiroth: “Oh great. So you’re not an idiot anymore? This is what I waited around for? This is the worst surprise ever!”

Cloud: “Sorry to disappoint you, Sephiroth.”

Lark: “Cloud! This is great news! I’m glad you’re finally back to your old self!”

Ashley: “Do you remember everything?”

Cloud: “Well, yeah. I mean most of the stuff that happened when I was out of it is kinda fuzzy. Did I used to watch the Teletubbies a lot or something?”

Tifa: “That’s not important now! What’s important now is you’re back!”

Reno: “This is a great excuse for a party! The ‘I don’t have to waste my booze getting Cloud drunk anymore because Cloud’s back to normal’ party! Hit it, Irvine!”

(music is turned on and everyone quickly gets into party mode. zack throws his arm around cloud and gets him in a bit of a playful headlock)

Zack: “Well, kid – how does it feel? You’ve got tons of friends and all your memories back. What more could a guy ask for?”

Cloud: “You. That’s what matters the most. You stuck by me. You kept your promise.”

Zack: “I didn’t do anything you wouldn’t do.”

(they kiss. meanwhile, sephiroth and vincent are watching nearby)

Sephiroth: “Ew! Gross! This is just great, Vincent! My arch-nemesis has a brain again! It should have been impossible! He was a hopeless case! He used to walk into walls – repeatedly! Now suddenly Zack spends some time with him and he’s all fine again? How could that even happen?!”

Vincent: *smiles* “It’s simple, angel. Love conquers all.”

THE END

 

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