Fan Fic: The Fifth Act

The Fifth Act is Final Fantasy VII Peggy Sue fic, which brilliantly defies the ‘formula’ set by Final Fantasy VII Peggy Sue fics.

After being returned to the past through an accident with a time travel material, Cloud is not placed into his old body but thrown whole back into the past. With the realization that he could prevent a lot of tragedy, he sets off to kill Sephiroth. Being Cloud what he actually planned and what he ends up doing are separate things and ends up saving people anyways.

Expanded Universe oneshots available here

Also available on Ao3.

This work contains examples of:

  • Accidentally Broke the MacGuffin: Cloud accidentally breaks the extra vials carrying the spring water when he fought the Grand Horn with Zack, losing Genesis's chance to cure Angeal's degeneration quickly.
    • The entire plot is kicked off by Cloud accidentally breaking a mastered Time materia.
  • Advantage Ball: Cloud consistently has the advantage over the characters due to having a decade of experience and better equipment. Although he loses this when he gives the Ribbon to Kunsel.
  • An Aesop: By reaching out to others, you can help others change whether you intended to or not.
    • Vengeance isn't worth dedicating your life and dreams towards.
  • And Then What?: A recurring problem of Cloud is that people are constantly questioning what his goals are past killing of Sephiroth and what will he do if he succeeds.
  • Appeal to Consequences: Cloud tries to convince Lord Godo that it would be a very bad idea to continue fighting Shinra, explaining that their plan to unleash monsters will not work, if they surrender now they could get better terms and time to regroup.
  • Ascended Fanboy: When Cloud was younger he was a fan of Sephiroth and wanted to join SOLDIER. He finds it deeply ironic that he's strong enough to join SOLDIER and later gets promoted to First Class when he doesn't care about it anymore.
    • In the Extended Universe, his younger self does get to join SOLDIER.
  • Asshole Victim: Hojo is shot to death, mourned by no one. It was extremely easy to cover up his death.
  • A World Half Full: Midgar and the Planet by the end of the story. Yes Shinra still controls the world and is draining the Lifestream. But the terrible tragedy and huge death tolls from Meteor, Geostigma and Deepground never happened, Midgar isn't as bad as Cloud remembers it, Wutai retains a large amount of its autonomy and there's plenty of high ranking employees willing to change Shinra. As Aerith says "The Planet's stronger than you think"
  • Bad Dreams: Sephiroth starts getting nightmares of Cloud's memories in the original timeline. Due to their S-cells, they evolve to Sephiroth seeing Cloud's recent memories in his sleep.
  • Bad Future: Averted, Cloud had no desire to travel back because after all the tragedies the future was not that bad. He decided to change the past after he realized he could prevent the tragedies and traumas.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: Hollander kidnaps Cloud to experiment on him under the guise of helping Angeal. After chapter or so, he's killed offscreen and Hojo takes Cloud for his own experiments.
    • Despite Cloud's goal throughout the story to kill Sephiroth, Cloud turns out to be the Final Boss.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Being experimented on by Hojo, unbalanced by the truth of his origins and seeing Sephiroth burn down the Shinra Mansion allows Jenova to possess Cloud in Nibelheim
  • Berserk Button: Don't call Cloud a puppet and don't threaten his friends.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When Kunsel is too exhausted to kill the last Nibelian wolf, Angeal swoops in and finishes it off
    • Just as he is about to kill Zack, Aeris contacts Cloud through the Lifestream and breaks Jenova's hold on him.
    • Genesis saves Cloud and Sephiroth's lives when he reflexively casts a Sleep spell on Cloud.
  • Big Good: Minerva (the personification of the Planet) makes a brief appearance. The Extended Universe implies that Cloud's time travel was arranged by the Planet.
  • Book Ends: The beginning of Cloud's journey starts with him saving Genesis when the latter's chronic pain interrupts their fight, curing him from a painful deterioration and a horrific downward spiral. It ends with Genesis interrupting Cloud's fight with Sephiroth, saving both their lives and preventing Cloud's self-destruction.
  • A Boy and His X: Young!Cloud and the Angeal chimera. The Angeal chimera was given to Young!Cloud by Angeal to protect him and Kunsel on their way to Midgar.
  • Butterfly of Doom: A lot of Cloud's unintentional acts make major waves, such as curing Genesis as a result he never defects Sephiroth never goes crazy, Angeal defects instead and Cloud gets possessed by Jenova.
  • Brains and Brawn: Zack is the brawn while Kunsel is the brain.
  • Break the Cutie: Zack sees the dark underbelly of ShinRa when his beloved mentor disappears and both of his best friends go missing. See Good News, Bad News for specifics.
  • Brick Joke: In a Shout-Out to Crisis Core, Yuffie discovers Cloud's number and sends him spam mail about finding treasure in various improbably dangerous places. Except for a mention by Tseng, Yuffie's messages are generally ignored. Then at the very end Cloud reads Yuffie's messages and has to go rescue her from the Northern Crater.
  • The Bus Came Back: Little Cloud and Vincent join the party both bearing important information about Cloud and Nibelheim.
  • Call Back:
    • You're not WEAPON or Calamity, right? You're just a nobody. Can a nobody talk to the Planet?: At first, Aeris says this to Cloud when the Planet warned Aeris about him and how he seemed to know more about Cetra abilities than she did. Later, Aeris uses it to remind Cloud that he can't talk to the Planet. Which means the voice that Cloud is hearing is not the Planet, but Jenova.
  • Call Forward
  • Can't Take Anything With You: Subverted, Cloud had all his equipment with him, including his PHS.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Sephiroth, especially when Cloud was trying to kill him in the penultimate chapter.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Once in the past, Cloud tries to call Tifa for the the call not to connect. It turns out its because the number doesn't exist yet.
  • Central Theme: Redemption
  • Chekhov's Gun: Cloud's ribbon (which grants immunity to status effects), which enabled Cloud's time travel it was overwhelmed by the mastered broken Time materia. He gives it to Kunsel when they're both captured by Hojo to help Kunsel escape. When Cloud gets possessed by Jenova, the loss of his ribbon loses him his Advantage Ball and Genesis is able to stop him
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Little Cloud and Vincent
  • Chekhov's Skill: Genesis always tries to cast status effects on Cloud, only for them to never work. Once Cloud gets possessed by Jenova, Genesis's reflexive casting stopped Cloud without them having to kill him.
  • Combat Pragmatist: When Genesis took Sephiroth to meet Cloud for the first time, Sephiroth tries to introduce himself and Cloud springs immediately to attack him to not give him an opening.
  • Confusion Fu: Part of the reason for First Tsurugi being a fusion sword. By splitting and recombining his sword, Cloud can take opponents off guard, exploit minute weaknesses and keep his battle style unpredictable.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Zack is extremely fortunate that he went outside and went below Plate when he was musing over his failure to find out what happened to Cloud and Kunsel. Because he literally bumps into Young Cloud who went to Midgar to find Cloud and treat the Mako-overdosed Kunsel.
  • Cutting the Knot: Since a lot of events center around Sephiroth, Cloud tries to kill Sephiroth to prevent them from happening.
    If he was going to change things, there was a person who needed to die.
    • At the end when both Cloud and Sephiroth are paralyzed by Jenova, Genesis shows up and impatiently fires off a few Fires, roasting Jenova.
    "Honestly. I'm not sure what I missed, but it wasn't even a moving target."
  • Cynical Mentor: Cloud to Kunsel and Zack
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory: Genesis reflexively cast status spells on Cloud, even though he does know it doesn't affect Cloud. Inverted when they have to fight a Jenova-possessed Cloud, Genesis casts a Sleep spell on Cloud and non-lethally takes him down because Cloud lost his immunity.
    • A tragic example, when Cloud and Sephiroth's rematch goes horribly wrong Sephiroth defends himself by attacking. While Cloud manages to hold back in time, Angeal who was intervening ends up taking the blow and gets horribly wounded.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: Vincent tells Sephiroth that he sincerely has faith in Sephiroth and that he won't go mad as Cloud fears. Since this comes after the revelation that none of friends trust him, this doesn't do much to comfort him.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Hojo. He's the only character to figure out on his own that Cloud is from the future. With his only clue being Cloud's S cells
  • Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: When Cloud wakes up after being freed from Jenova's possession and Hojo's experiments the light of day gives him a splitting headache.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone has their moments, but particularly Genesis.
  • Death Seeker: Cloud is interpreted by Tseng and Angeal that he desires to kill Sephiroth so Sephiroth could kill him, as Cloud is too strong to be killed by anything or anyone else.
  • Dented Iron: Genesis stops his first fight with Cloud because he was in too much pain from his degeneration wound
  • Demonic Possession: when Cloud gets possessed by Jenova.
  • Demoted to Extra: Most of Cloud's comrades in the original game (except ironically the optional characters Yuffie and Vincent) get nothing more than cameos. Justified in that it's years before FFVII; most of the characters are too young or have (so far) no beef with Shinra.
  • Determinator: See Offscreen Moment of Awesome.
    • Both Clouds really. It's genetic.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Cloud tends to make hasty decisions without any good plans. He shows up on the Wutai Front but didn't bother to check if Sephiroth was even there, he tries to bribe terrorists but without an advocate he goes nowhere, he joins Shinra but has no plan to get at Hojo, etc etc.
    • Yuffie, who randomly wanders into dangerous situations and continuously insults and steals the materia of powerful Shinra SOLIDERS. It's a good thing everyone is so indulgent with her.
  • Disguised in Drag: In an expanded universe story, Cloud has to infiltrate Don Corneo's scheme with Genesis, Cissnei and Luxiere
  • Dismotivation: Kunsel initially didn't try for First Class as he has a comfortable position teaching (and gathering information) and thought he was overshadowed by people such as Zack. It isn't until Cloud starts encouraging him and teaching him materia does Kunsel decide to aim for First Class.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: Young Cloud had the same personality of the elder Cloud when he was the same age. While he's just as determined as his uncle, he's a lot more cheerful and expressive as he doesn't have the Dark and Troubled Past. His inferiority complex hasn't grown to the severity of his uncle's due to "Uncle" Cloud had due the latter's encouragement and the fact he did got in SOLDIER. Since he idolizes Genesis instead of Sephiroth, he's aiming to become a Magic Knight and is well-read due to becoming a fan of the Loveless play to the point that he can quote it from memory.
    • According to Genesis and Zack the only thing that Cloud and young Cloud have in common is their looks and their name.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: When Cloud takes the Soldier qualification, he thought Kunsel was taking it easy on him only to find out he exhausted the poor guy.
  • Dramatic Irony: In the original Final Fantasy VII, Cloud was basically seen as a loser when the truth came out and Hojo didn't even recognize Cloud, even though he experimented on him for years. Hojo of this timelime thinks Cloud is his most perfect creation and scolded the other Hojo for not recognizing his own success.
    • Cloud is working to kill Sephiroth to prevent the tragedies and deaths of his original timeline when the latter succumbed to madness. It's due to Cloud's interference that Sephiroth never goes insane becomes a more kinder and heroic figure.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Cloud refuses to see that Sephiroth has changed and not become the monster he was. He also refuses to answer the question of what will he do if he succeeds.
  • The Dreaded: SOLDIERs to regular people. A farm woman who was previously friendly to Cloud, clams up in terror when she sees his glowing eyes.
  • Dreaming of Times Gone By: Sephiroth gets dreams of the original timeline
  • Drives Like Crazy: According to a few of the one shots, the other Soldier Firsts have come to have a healthy respect for the way that Cloud handles his motorcycle.
  • Downer Ending: In an Omake, where Cloud was sent earlier into the timeline he successfully killed Sephiroth with Genesis and Angeal hunting Cloud down to avenge him even if it meant their lives.
  • Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help: Despite Genesis initiating a fight with Cloud when he tried to find Sephiroth, Cloud willing gives Genesis a vial of Aerith's spring water when he sees Genesis suffer from degeneration. Genesis is so moved that Cloud saved his life that he gets Sephiroth to come to Wutai.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Cloud had to lose his friends and home, join the organization he worked against, work with his worst enemy, get betrayed by an ally, experimented on by Hojo and possessed by Jenova before he finally reaches his.
  • Dysfunction Junction: The First Class SOLDIERS. Cloud is actively plotting Hojo and Sephiroth's deaths, Angeal is dying of a terminal illness, Sephiroth is disconnected from people and trying to get the approval of someone who despises him. It's telling that the resentful Drama Queen that is Genesis is the most stable one of the bunch.
  • Easily Forgiven: Besides Hojo, everything involved in Cloud's capture and Cloud's attempt to murder Sephiroth is pretty much treated as water under the bridge. The moral of the story is forgiveness so it's to be expected.
  • Emotionally Tongue Tied: When Sephiroth tries to apologize to Cloud, he's at a loss what to do because he never had to apologize for anything.
  • Ensemble Cast: The focus of the story gets split between Cloud, Genesis, Angeal, Sephiroth, Zack, Kunsel and young Cloud.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: When Angeal finds out that Cloud is a Sephiroth clone due to his large number of S-Cells, he concludes that Cloud's desire to kill Sephiroth was a journey for self-identity and to prove himself better than the original. He couldn't be more wrong.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: In the bad end Omake, Genesis and Angeal decide to spent the remainder of lives hunting Cloud down to avenge Sephiroth's death.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Sephiroth can be so insensitive that Heidegger can think he's thoughtless.
  • Expanded Universe: Has a whole bunch of other fics, some written by the author, some not. There is artwork as well.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Angeal betrays Cloud to Hollinder and Hojo out of desperation for a cure. He comes to regret it eventually, and turns Face again shortly before the cure is found.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: in an Omake Kunsel hides Cloud from Sephiroth by dressing him up as a Second Class and making out with him. It works very well as homosexuality is common in the all-male SOLDIER.
  • Fanboy: See Hero-Worshipper.
  • Find the Cure: When he learns of Angeal's degradation from Genesis, Cloud promptly tries to have Aeris recreate the spring water. She finally does so in the climax and has Kunsel deliver it to Cloud to give to Angeal when Kunsel goes to Nibelheim.
  • First Name Basis: Cloud gives Zack his full name, which confused Genesis, Sephiroth and Angeal who only knew him as Strife and didn't realize they were the same man. Cloud is furious when Sephiroth starts calling him by his given name. Genesis was jealous that Zack knew the name of his savior before he did.
  • Fix Fic: For Crisis Core.
  • For Want of a Nail: Cloud's presence and action cause a tidal wave of effects, such as Genesis becoming the Hero of Wutai instead of Sephiroth since he didn't have his degradation holding him back.
    • Wutai retains its independence with Cloud convincing them to surrender on their own terms and implied to have a more successful recursion.
    • Because Kunsel was already investigating Cloud's disappearance, he takes the Nibelheim mission instead of Zack.
    • Genesis never defects but Angeal does.
    • As Lazard tries getting Cloud's support, he never gets the chance to support Hollander's experiments.
  • Foreshadowing: a Nibelheim local comments that Mayor Lockhart doesn't like Cloud because he's afraid "he'll leave a trail of bastards" Guess what Cloud's father did?
    • Ms Strife freaks out at sight of Cloud and tries to shoot him because his "brother"note  and his family did something horrible to her and she doesn't want them to take her son. There is a good reason to why she freaked out.
    • At one point Cloud muses on how to destroy Jenova, remembering that she's vulnerable to mundane means and that a few good Fires should finish her off. Genesis does exactly that, firing off a bunch of Firagas and burning Jenova to ash.
  • Friendless Background: When Cloud arrives to Midgar, he has no allies and no friends since he left them behind in the past timeline.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: While Genesis, Angeal and Zack like Sephiroth, they don't trust him, at all. Angeal and Genesis kept their terminal illness a secret out of shame and resentment. Genesis and Zack initially keep Sephiroth out of their investigation of Cloud's disappearance in fear Sephiroth would turn on them as he is loyal to ShinRa and Cloud's disappearance is a company cover-up. Sephiroth himself notes how no one trusts him.
  • From Bad to Worse: Angeal sells Cloud out to Hollinder in hopes of finding a cure, only for Hollinder to reveal he has no intentions of finding a cure and wants to experiment to find out how Cloud's version of the SOLDIER formula. Hollinder is killed, only for Hojo to take Cloud instead.
  • Future Badass: Cloud, odd variant where the badass is the protagonist. This is for good and for bad, good in that he now surpasses Sephiroth bad in that Jenova and Hojo now find him the superior model.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Game mechanics are fully justified and explained within story. When Cloud compares his materia to Zack's materia, he explains since Cloud found his in the wild it tends to be more cost-heavy with more power. While Zack's Shinra man-made materia are very limited and simple but easier to use.
    • Since Cloud's Ribbon is a very rare item, the rest of the cast have no idea how Cloud is resisting status effects.
  • Go Look at the Distraction: When Vincent turns out to useless as an ally due to him not wanting to kill an innocent Sephiroth, Cloud tells him how to find Lucretia's cave so Cloud could ditch him.
  • Good News, Bad News: Zack is ecstatic when he finally gets the announcement for his promotion to First Class. It is quickly soured when Kunsel is declared dead in a ''footnote.
  • Green Eyes combined with Hellish Pupils: Cloud gains green slitted eyes when possessed by Jenova.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Genesis is resentful that Sephiroth is more stronger and more adored despite of Genesis' hard work. While he never truly gets over it, Genesis does overcome it.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: When everyone sees Cloud's they assume that he's a SOLDIER despite him never being part of Shinra.
  • Gotta Kill Them All: Cloud intends to kill Hojo, Jenova and Sephiroth in that order.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: In an expanded universe story, Cloud gets trapped in one with Sephiroth. Later, Genesis and Kunsel join too.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Genesis thinks the scouts who reported Cloud's presence are morons since Cloud is not hiding in the least, is too blond to be from Wutai and is openly camping.
  • Half Truth: Cloud tells people that he used to run a delivery service before he came to Midgar and his motorbike got trashed.
  • Have We Met Yet?: Played with, Cloud knows Genesis and of his hidden degeneration but never personally met him before
  • He Knows Too Much: Kunsel is given to Hojo to experiment on when he sticks his nose to deep in Cloud's disappearance and found a lead in Nibelheim.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Cloud wants to stop Sephiroth from getting possessed by Jenova and causing many tragedies, he ends up getting possessed by Jenova himself. Played further straight in the Bad End Omake where Genesis and Angeal dedicate their final days hunting Cloud down for killing Sephiroth.
  • Head Butting Heroes: While Cloud is nominally on the same side as they are, he and the First Classes do not get along.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Averted Kunsel's helmet saves his life when it deflects a bullet while he's escaping Hojo.
  • Hero-Worshipper: Cloud's younger self towards Genesis, due to Future!Cloud's meddling. When Genesis finds out Cloud and his "nephew" are the same person, he thinks its hilarious. Also, Kunsel quite admires Cloud and treats him as if the latter was his mentor, even when he outranked him (until, of course, the latter got promoted).
  • Heroic Bastard: Cloud turns out be President Shinra's illegitimate son
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Cloud doesn't think to highly of himself after all what happened
  • Homeless Hero: When Cloud gets to Midgar, he's homeless due to the fact that all his allies are gone and had no money to buy a place to stay. He ends sleeping in Aerith's church and this is rectified when he's recruited for Shinra.
  • Honor Before Reason: Lord Kisaragi was willing to fight and lose badly to ShinRa than cowardly surrender. Subverted as Cloud convinces him to surrender to give time for his resources to recover and for the Resistance to regroup.
    • Angeal holds his honor more important above thing else only for him to abandon it when he was dying.
  • Hourglass Plot: Cloud is initially a humble nobody hoping to stop several tragedies. Genesis is forever stuck in Sephiroth's shadow and resentful of it. Sephiroth is the pride of ShinRa, arrogant with it being justified because no one could beat him. Cloud is proven to be the stronger man and becomes ShinRa's top SOLDIER despite his hatred of the company if it means he gets to kill Sephiroth and gets a lot of attention both positive and negative. Genesis becomes a hero in his own right as Hero of Wutai and becomes appreciative of his life and his friends when he came close to losing them. Sephiroth realizes for the first time what it means to be someone's shadow and wanting to reach someone's level of strength but being unable to and is able to empathize with Genesis. Cloud deliberately attempts to isolate himself while Genesis and Sephiroth attempt to include him. Cloud falls into madness when revealed the truth of his origins while Genesis and Sephiroth remain sane and stop him.
  • Humble Hero: Cloud doesn't let his fame or his skills get to his head and tries to avoid the spotlight whenever possible.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Sephiroth wants to befriend Cloud, who can surpass him in strength. Too bad the latter hates his guts.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Genesis wants to surpass Sephiroth. He ends up more famous than Sephiroth as he becomes the Hero of Wutai due to never defecting.
  • I Hate Past Me: Averted, Cloud is actually very supportive of his past self and convinces the latter to stay in Nibelheim to the avoid the mess that is SOLDIER.
  • I Thought Everyone Could Do That: Cloud thought he was rather average in Soldier strength and speed since his only basis for comparison was Sephiroth and Zack and sent most of his career training to catch up. During the SOLDIER exam, he is surprised that he's actually unique even among SOLDIER. Later, he finds out that he actually surpasses Sephiroth in strength.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Implied, as when Cloud's mother meets him, she accidentally verifies Cloud's cover story of being his biological father's brother as he strongly looks like his father. Cloud's biological father being President Shinra.
  • I Owe You My Life: Genesis is torn between his desire to help Cloud, to find more of the spring water to give to Angeal and to protect his friends from Cloud.
  • I'm Not Hungry: Cloud eats very little when he gets invited to a diner by Tseng, who is making his recruitment pinch to get him to join ShinRa.
  • In Spite of a Nail: In spite of Genesis's attack on ShinRa not happening, due to a bunch of Hollander's experiments escaping Zack still falls through the roof of Aerith's church.
  • Indy Ploy: Deconstructed as Cloud's biggest problem that he never plans ahead and makes things up as he goes. Which leads a lot of his earlier actions biting him in the ass.
  • Ineffectual Loner: Cloud tries to keep his distance from everyone so no one would get attached to him, but they won't leave him alone.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Sephiroth has a habit of accidentally pushing Cloud's Berserk Buttons by echoing his future self.
  • Internal Reformist: Cloud joins ShinRa because it will get him closer to Hojo, Jenova and Sephiroth on ShinRa's dime without him incurring the wrath of the Turks.
    • Cloud remains in ShinRa post climax because he is convinced by the others that it would be more effective and less bloody to change it from the inside.
  • Internal Reveal: Cloud finally tells Kunsel that he is from the future before helping the latter escape from Hojo.
  • Irony: Cloud finally becomes SOLDIER like he wanted, but he no longer cares for that dream.
    • In the Final Fantasy VII, Cloud was obsessed with Sephiroth: first to be acknowledged and later to be his enemy while Sephiroth didn't really care for him. Now, Sephiroth wants Cloud to be his friend and/or rival while Cloud wants nothing to do with him.
  • Ironic Echo: Better to ask forgiveness than permission. Angeal first says this when he and Genesis trick Cloud into talking to Sephiroth so Sephrioth could apologize to him. Then he finds out that Cloud's body could hold the answer for a cure, Angeal says it when he agrees to kidnap Cloud for experimentation.
  • It's Personal: Cloud's stated reason to why he needs to meet Sephiroth, people are surprised that it's personal
  • Just Between You and Me: Hojo tells Cloud of his plans and of Cloud's true parentage, but to be fair to Hojo there was no way for Cloud to break out.
  • Kill It with Fire: How Genesis destroys Jenova.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Cloud
  • Knowledge Broker: Kunsel in Crisis Core was a well informed and vaguely gossipy Mr. Exposition. The Fifth Act upgrades to him having a vast information network, being everyone's go to guy for information and in the Omakes, being better informed than the Turks. Results in a Crowning Moment of Funny during a one shot when Kunsel, during a "Groundhog Day" Loop is convinced by Cloud to put every bit of info that he's ever gathered on their version of the internet. Results in the Turks trying to kill him, among other things.
  • Koan: Genesis's quoting of Loveless are this and are often relevant to the situation.
  • Last Name Basis: Cloud introduced himself as Strife to Genesis and Sephiroth. To the point they were surprised to learn from Zack that his name is Cloud.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Cloud's fighting strategies consists of running at an enemy and attacking it though his strength makes up for it.
  • Let The Past Burn: Sephiroth burns down the ShinRa mansion to destroy the notes and evidence of the experiment and to make peace with his past. Cloud gravely misinterprets the situation.
  • Lightning Bruiser: All of the SOLDIER Firsts qualify but Cloud takes the cake. When he's not weighed down by his massive sword, he's easily faster than even Sephiroth.
  • Light Hearted Rematch: Invoked by Sephiroth, who takes Cloud to the Midgar wastes in hopes of apologizing to Cloud for the puppet insult and for a fight they've both been itching for. It ends badly and Angeal gets seriously injured while trying to break up the fight.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Sephiroth has no idea that Angeal is dying and that Genesis was dying. Angeal has no idea that Cloud and Genesis know a cure for his condition and working on re-engineering it. If he had, he probably wouldn't sold out Cloud.
  • Lonely at the Top: Sephiroth, as the top SOLIDER didn't have anyone to sympathize with or challenge himself. Which is why when Cloud shows up, Sephiroth desperately wants him as a rival.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Hojo reveals to Cloud that President Shinra was his biological father and he, Lazard and Rufus Shinra are half-brothers.
  • Mama Bear: Cloud's mother tried to shoot Cloud, thinking he was trying to take her son away.
  • Minor Insult Meltdown: Cloud attacks Sephiroth for calling him a puppet, to be fair to Cloud he wasn't completely over his trauma with the past Sephiroth.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: In-Universe example, a Midgar Zolom was far away from it's swamp habitat and in the the rocky plains. Justified in that the environments have been in flux for years and the Zolom was hunting.
  • Missing Steps Plan: Cloud's plan consists of 1. ????? 2. Murder Sephiroth/Jenova/Hojo 3. ??????
  • Moment Killer
  • Moving the Goalposts: Cloud refuses to help Lazard because he knows that Lazard will never give him what he wants and will give some arbitrary reason to why he wouldn't give.
  • Moral Myopia: Cloud's desire to kill Sephiroth to prevent the tragedies he causes could be seen as heroic if wasn't for the fact that Sephiroth at that point didn't commit any of his future crimes. Due to Cloud's intervention, Sephiroth never defects or goes mad and instead attempts to befriend Cloud numerous times despite the latter's hostility and open desire to kill him. Cloud even loses Vincent as an ally due to the fact the latter is understandingly hesitant to kill someone who hasn't done anything wrong.
  • More Than Mind Control: How Jenova is able to possess Cloud; by taking advantage of his shock from the revelations of his origins, disgust of Shinra and self-loathing and sense of superiority, she makes him open for Reunion.
  • Mundane Luxury: Electric fans are considered a luxury from Cloud's original time due the fact electricity is scarce and only used for the most important things in Edge.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Cloud tries to kill Sephiroth several times, and he fails. He would have killed Lord Godo for refusing to surrender, if Yuffie hadn't stole his Fire materia.
  • Murder-Suicide: Cloud tries to kill Sephiroth after he is freed of Jenova's possession so Sephiroth would kill him because Cloud had the horrifying revelation that he was on the path to becoming worse than Sephiroth
  • Must Make Amends: Angeal tries to help younger Cloud, Kunsel and the others to make up for his betrayal of Cloud.
  • Multiple Endings: Due to Loveless' unfinished nature, the play has many different endings. The tragic endings, the heroes Jumping Off the Slippery Slope or failing to save the world. The Bittersweet Endings, the heroes succeed but their bond breaks apart or some of them die. The happy endings, the heroes succeed with all of them surviving and hooking with their Love Interest, who would either a normal girl or the Goddess they made the promise to.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Angeal is horrified when he realizes that Hollinder has no interest in curing him but he doomed Cloud to experimentation for nothing.
  • My Future Self and Me: Cloud meets and befriends his younger self. Since the Older Cloud is doing all the time changing, he tells Younger Cloud to stay out of Shinra.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Due to his S-cells, Cloud can sense where Sephiroth and uses it to avoid him. Once Sephiroth's S-cells awaken, he uses his to track Cloud down.
  • Nephewism: Inverted, Cloud poses as an uncle to his younger "nephew," Cloud Stife.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: Subverted, Cloud meets his younger self when visiting Nibelheim and acts as an older brother figure.
  • Newspaper Dating: Cloud realizes he's in the past when he finds out the newspaper of Shinra declaring war on Wutai only being a week old.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Sephiroth finally gets Cloud to give him the rematch he wanted. The rematch results in Angeal getting seriously when he had to break up the match.
  • No Backwards Compatibility In The Future: Downplayed as the past Shinra is too decadent in energy which nearly overwhelms Cloud's more power efficient cell phone.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Cloud's decision to stop the Midgar Zolom instead of running away from it gets him sent back in the past.
    • Sephiroth attempting to apologize to Cloud ends up getting Angeal horribly wounded and causes Angeal to find out that his degeneration has reached a terminal stage.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Genesis uses his most powerful and intense spell on his Fire Materia to destroy the immobile Jenova while Cloud and Sephiroth were distracted.
  • No Such Thing as H.R.: Zigzagged for ShinRa, they tolerate Cloud's open and constant threats to kill Sephiroth. But they force Cloud to take a vacation when he works too many hours without stop to avoid Cloud overworking himself.
  • Noodle Incident: Yuffie's Treasure Princess adventures. Taken Up to Eleven when she somehow ends up in the Northern Crater.
  • No Sell: Cloud's immunity to status effects is seen as this.
  • No Social Skills: Cloud
  • Not So Above It All: One of the omakes has Cloud and Sephiroth trapped in a time loop. Sephiroth takes the opportunity to cause as much havoc as he can (burning down Shinra HQ, quitting SOLIDER etc) and enjoys it immensely.
  • Nom de Mom: "Strife" turns out to be Cloud's mother's surname since she never got married. This becomes important when the time-traveling Cloud poses as his younger self's paternal uncle, his surname goes unnoticed until Genesis pulls the thread and realizes that Cloud has the wrong surname for a supposed uncle.
  • Not So Different: Cloud is not that different from Sephiroth, to the point that Jenova was able to possess him.
    In that split second, he'd wondered what he'd do after he killed Sephiroth.
    His first thought had been to destroy ShinRa. Destroy the company that had drained the Planet, dropped the Plate on Sector 7, and made Sephiroth possible in the first place. Destroy the man who left his mother in Nibelheim to die.
    Except… once he'd been freed of Jenova's influence, he'd realised how familiar that line of thinking was.
    When he found out the truth of his origins…
    ...The first thing Sephiroth had done when he'd returned from the Lifestream was assassinate President ShinRa.
    He started to hate ShinRa.
    Revenge on ShinRa hadn't been enough. He turned his resentful eyes towards the Planet, and constructed fanciful notions that it was to be destroyed and made anew – that it was his birthright.
    Then after a while, he started to hate everything.
    • Also, to Lazard. Both are half-brothers, abandoned by Shinra and had to work their way to the top
  • Not What It Looks Like: Cloud misinterprets Sephiroth's burning of Shinra mansion as a sign that he was falling into evil.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Zack and Kunsel are prone to this.
  • Odd Friendship: Genesis views the friendship between the cheerful and loud Zack and the dour and quiet Cloud as one.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Young Cloud's trek to Midgar from Nibelheim with an Angeal beast and the unconscious Kunsel.
  • Oh, Crap: Cloud's reaction the man who kills Hollinder turns out to be Hojo.
    • Genesis' reaction to Cloud dominating Sephiroth in the rematch as he didn't internalize how strong Cloud really was.
  • Omake: Several, some funny and some not.
  • One Degree of Separation
  • One Steve Limit: Initial assumption of both Cloud Stifes, Cloud goes along with it and says it a popular name in the family. Zack differentiates the two by calling the younger Cloud "Mini" or "Spike"
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Sephiroth realizes that Genesis is completely serious about needing him in Wutai when he speaks an entire conversation without speaking in LOVELESS quotes.
    • Angeal throws away his honor and backstabs Cloud when it became clear that he was dying and time was running out.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Zack does this when Turk helicopters accidentally shot at him.
  • Panacea: Aerith's spring water as it can cure Angeal and Genesis's degeneration.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: When Tseng invites Cloud to breakfast for an impromptu interview, Tseng ordered himself a large, deluxe breakfast and eats slowly. This way Tseng will have control of the conversation and can take as much time as he want because Cloud will be seen as extremely rude otherwise. Tseng tried to take it further by purchasing Cloud many he wanted on the menu but Cloud deliberately only orders toast.
  • Peggy Sue: Cloud becomes one after he breaks a Time materia. Oddly enough as Hojo explains he didn't travel to the past, he created a new timeline
  • Poor Communication Kills: Sephiroth why didn't you explain to Cloud why you burned down the Shinra mansion instead of cryptically quoting Loveless?
    • If Genesis and Cloud told Angeal that there was a cure in the making maybe Cloud won't ended up kidnapped.
  • Power Degeneration: The degeneration of Genesis and Angeal's SOLDIER treatments are major plot points. The degeneration is extremely painful, slow and thought to have no cure until Cloud showed up.
  • Power of Friendship: It's not Cloud's intentional changes that alter the timeline, it's by unintentionally reaching out to others and giving them a challenge to struggle against.
  • Power Perversion Potential: In an Omake, Zack wonders if Cloud and Sephiroth ever had sex, would their S-cells allow them to feel each other for positive feedback.
  • Pragmatic Hero: When Vincent tries to convince Cloud not to kill Sephiroth, he is only convinced to save him for last to spare him the trouble of dealing with Hojo and Jenova. Other when Cloud fights, he strikes quickly to not give his enemies a chance to react.
  • Precrime Arrest: A underlying theme of the fic is whether is moral to kill someone that is innocent of his future atrocities.
    Sephiroth: I should be getting the benefit of the doubt here, I never met your mother
  • Pretty Little Headshots: How Vincent killed Hojo. Lampshaded by Genesis how quick and clean it was.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: While Cloud is helpful and generous to others, he grows more embittered and frustrated as his journey continues. He gets blinded by his hatred of Sephiroth, frustrated at his glacial progress in tracking down Jenova and Hojo and increasingly aware of his own power. He becomes mentally unbalanced after he is tortured and experimented on and finds out that President Shinra is his father. His mental instability combined with his previous frustration and knowledge of the truth allows him to easily get possessed by Jenova.
  • Pyrrhic Villainy: Sure, he succeeds in kidnapping Cloud and sold him out to Hollander in order to find a cure. He then finds out that Hollander has no intention of curing him and fully intends to experiment on Cloud to find out what made Cloud superior. Then Hollander is killed and Cloud kidnapped again with no cure to show for it. He betrayed Cloud's and his friends' trust, is now a fugitive and has completely betrayed his ideals.
  • Pyro Maniac: Genesis likes his Fire materia too much. Depending on how you count the Extended Universe, Sephiroth seems to have picked this up.
  • Quit Your Whining: Kunsel tells Zack off for complaining about Angeal's strictness when he gets one-on-one training with on the best soldiers while getting tips from Cloud on the side, who Kunsel wants to be his mentor.
  • Rank Up: Cloud is promoted to Second-Class after a few months. Zack gets his promotion as of canon but Cloud and Kunsel are promoted to First-Class when they were believed to be dead when Hojo captures them.
  • Recruiting the Criminal: Shin-Ra recruits Cloud because they don't want anyone that could fight Sephiroth to a standstill to be on the other side.
  • Redemption Earns Life: Angeal
  • Reflexive Response: Genesis's spamming of status effects. It's useless against Cloud most of the time, but he does it anyways. Ends up saving Sephiroth's life when he casts a sleep spell on Cloud.
  • Relatively Flimsy Excuse: Cloud poses as his own paternal uncle, which backfires on him when people realize that Strife is his mother's family name. So Cloud can't be Cloud Strife.
  • Revealing Injury: Genesis's injury helps Cloud realize who he is.
  • Revenge: Part of Cloud's motivation.
  • The Rival: Sephiroth views Cloud as one, the only one that could match him in power and skill.
  • Running Gag: When the SOLDIERS First-Class see the younger Cloud, their first reaction is wonder if Cloud shrunk.
  • Royal Brat: The eight-year old Yuffie.
  • Save This Person, Save the World: Kill Sephiroth and the numerous tragedies caused by him never happen.
    • Genesis ends up being a true example of this. Cloud saving him from a horrible terminal illness prevents him from jumping into the deep end and prevents the downward spiral of Sephiroth and SOLDIER.
  • Screw Destiny: What Cloud attempts and eventually succeeds at.
  • Secretly Dying: Angeal, Genesis before Cloud heals him.
  • Secret Secret Keeper: Cloud and Genesis are the only ones that knew that Angeal was dying and there is a cure for his condition.
  • Seeking Sanctuary: When first arriving at Midgar, Cloud take refuge in the church forgetting that Aeris and Zack are still alive and occupying the church.
  • Self-Made Man: Lazard's backstory. He rose from the slums to being Director of Solider.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Cloud fully intended to kill Sephiroth, even after Sephiroth freed him from Jenova's influence and destroyed the remains of the project, even if he had to lose his own life in the process.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Cloud tries to set things right by killing Sephiroth but his actual turning point was when he cured Genesis. This sets up the domino effect of the story.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Oh Cloud....
  • Show Within a Show: The LOVELESS play serves as this.
  • Situational Sexuality: In the Omake, homosexuality is common enough in Shinra that Sephiroth is only bothered that Kunsel and the disguised Cloud are making out in the Equipment Room.
  • Slash Fic: Some of the AU Omakes, but not the fic itself.
  • Spanner in the Works: Yuffie accidentally saves her father's life by taking Cloud's materia, which prevented Cloud from assassinating him and forcing Cloud to work a diplomatic solution.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Genesis Zack, Aerith, Kunsel, Angeal
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Literally, the author chose to call Aerith Aeris.
  • Spotting the Thread: Kunsel immediately spot holes in Cloud's identity when he meets the younger Cloud when he finds out that Strife is their mother's name, when Cloud is supposed to be his paternal uncle.
  • Sticky Fingers: Yuffie's kleptomania saved her father from Cloud. She later swipes Genesis's materia in a Omake.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Cloud and Kunsel's fate when they are captured by Hojo.
  • Suicide by Cop: Cloud didn't plan to survive killing Sephiroth
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Young Cloud is noted that if he gelled his hair down and wore a suit that he would have looked liked Rufus Shinra, his half-brother.
  • Superior Successor: Cloud turns out to be one to Sephiroth.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: Cloud goes with a villager's assumption that he's a relative of the timeline's Cloud Strife. He later goes with Zack's assumption that he's a washed-up mercenary.
  • Sword and Sorcerer: The three top SOLIDERs (not including Cloud) form a Sword, Sorcerer and Fighter combo. Sephiroth is unmatched in swordsmanship, Angeal is the best barehanded fighter and Genesis spams Fires and Status materia like it's going out of style.
  • Taking You with Me/ Mutual Kill: Cloud tries this on Sephiroth, to make sure "all" of Jenova's cells are destroyed.
  • Talking Is a Free Action
  • Tap on the Head: Tap nothing, Cloud had to be beaten on the head before Angeal could knock him out. It took him four times and a powerful sedative to knock him.
  • This Explains So Much: Cloud finally realizes why his village treated him and his mom so badly when he finds out that President Shinra is his father. While Cloud is not the only bastard, he's the most hated due to the strong Anti-Shinra sentiment.
  • The Stoic: Cloud to everyone else. To the point Zack thinks its a big deal when Cloud smiles more than once a week.
  • Team Mom: Genesis who ironically also shares the role of the Only Sane Man with Angeal.
  • Tempting Fate
  • There Are No Therapists: Played With Everyone recognizes and knows that Cloud has a massive amount of psych issues and some suggest that he seek help but Cloud's reticence and unwillingness to accept help means people just let him be.
  • Think Nothing of It: Cloud cures Genesis's degeneration without thinking of gaining anything from it.
  • Title Drop: Genesis brings up the Fifth Act of the LOVELESS play, which is the lost ending to the story and how it varies from happy endings to tragedies. The way that various characters say it should have ended actually reflects their character arcs: Genesis, for example, used to prefer the tragic endings but after his brush with death and gaining a new lease on life, he is beginning to like the happier ending.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Genesis is a much more pleasant and easy going individual when he is cured of his degeneration and gains a new lease on life. He becomes more appreciative and concerned for his friends and less resentful of Sephiroth.
    • When Cloud comes in and quickly surpasses him, Sephiroth becomes more humble and empathetic when he is in someone else's shadow for once. He realizes how badly he treated Genesis and Angeal and how he took them for granted. He tries to be more tactful when one of his comments drove Cloud into a murderous rage.
  • Treachery Cover Up: The Turks cover up Hollinder and Hojo's betrayal and why Cloud and Kunsel disappeared for months.
  • Trigger: See Berserk Button above.
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: the Jenova-possessed Cloud versus a sane Sephiroth
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Cloud to his father, President Shinra (and by extension, Rufus and Lazard).
    • It's noted that Cloud would look exactly like Rufus Shinra if he gelled his hair down and wore a suit.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Yuffie is one, as Cloud finds out to his annoyance. Yuffie described her father, Lord Kisaragi, as cowardly and peace-loving when the actual man is stubborn and very honor-bound.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: Averted with Hojo. Cloud feels outright giddy and happy when Hojo is killed.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: Cloud is asked many times if killing Sephiroth would be worth ruining his own life or worse.
  • We Can Rule Together: Jenova attempts this with Cloud when she successfully possesses him.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: There is no mention of Ms Strife's reaction when her young son leaves the village with a comatose stranger and travels cross-country to find his paternal uncle that he barely knows and she doesn't like.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Cloud is called out on attempting to kill Sephiroth when the latter never did the crimes his past self committed and for attempting a murder-suicide.
  • What Year Is This?: Cloud didn't realize what year was it until he reached Midgar.
  • Wham Episode: When Cloud is kidnapped by Hojo, who reveals to him not only that the experimentation with Time Materia has been going on longer than he knows (and he basically confirmed the theory that new timelines are created each time), but that he is, in fact, the son of President Shinra. Big whammy, indeed.
  • When He Smiles: Noted In-Universe by Zack when Cloud does.
  • Whole Plot Reference
  • Wutai: Where Genesis initially meets Cloud. Then Genesis tells Sephiroth to come over.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Cloud
  • Worf Had the Flu: In initial introduction, Genesis manages to keep up Cloud before he ends up crippled by his degeneration wound flaring up.
    • Cloud manages to get ambushed and knocked out by Angeal. What helped is that Cloud was unaware that something was wrong and the honorable Angeal is the last person one would expect a betrayal.
    • Angeal could little to stop the Jenova-possessed Cloud as he was without a weapon and reached the terminal stages of degeneration and was severely weakened.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: Genesis had one before it is healed by Cloud's gift of the healing spring water. Angeal receives when Sephiroth accidentally wounds him when Angeal tries to break up his spar with Cloud.
  • Workaholic: Cloud takes as many missions as he can get to save himself a lot of money and avoid having to socialize with others. He hadn't taken a vacation until he was forced to and the Human Resources of SOLDIER actually demand that he cut down the number of missions so he won't work himself to death.
  • Worthy Opponent: Sephiroth thinks of Cloud as one.
  • The Worf Effect: Sephiroth is outmatched by the more experienced Cloud.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Cloud believes that he's doing the right thing by planning to kill Sephiroth to prevent the tragedies the man causes. Not remotely realizing until the very end of the story that the Power of Friendship and his kindness toward Genesis has done far more in changing the timeline and he's on his way to becoming someone worse than Sephiroth.
  • You Are Not Alone: The Aesop of the story
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Cloud attempts to kill Sephiroth in Wutai. He fails.
  • You Will Be Spared: A variant in that Cloud spares Sephiroth only to not have to deal with Jenova or Hojo replacing him
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Angeal and it causes him to grow desperate.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle
  • You Shall Not Pass: Cloud pulls one to to allow Kunsel to escape Hojo's clutches. He even references back to Zack's Last Stand.