By Lena ban Obsidian


It was a matter of muscle memory. The brain was just another muscle, right? A weird one, complex one, different one, but just a muscle, another part of the body. Happened to be the most interesting one (unless you were having sex, in which case the brain suddenly lost much of its charm in comparison to certain alluring curves and junctions of body and places for causing or receiving penetration).

So why did he feel like there were things dragging on his mind, thin as spidersilk and just as tenacious?

It was almost a year.

He hated that he would never remember...exactly...when it had happened. That made him...hurt.

He hated that he could only remember, for the most part, /where/ it had happened. He could find The Cliff, but he couldn't find the place he'd been lying, or the place he'd crawled to; just remember them, if he remembered those things at all, in brief flashes of pain so bright it made him blind with tears and breathless.

It wasn't as though anything special was going to happen this year-- god, he hoped not-- except possibly an attempt to get drunk. But thanks to Mako and the fact that he and Tifa were not, currently, on speaking terms, the likelihood of him buying a bunch of alcohol was slim.

He'd...yelled at Tifa. Felt guilty for it.

But she'd...been. The.

She'd tried to.

She hadn't understood. About Zack. She hadn't gotten that it wasn't like Cloud was avoiding her. She hadn't...she should have and she hadn't. If anyone on the entire Planet was going to realize what he was going through, shouldn't it have been her? Shouldn't she have known better than to tell him that he should have company right now?

He couldn't take company right now.

He needed.

It was the memories, though. He one to be there. At least for a little bit. So he could think things out. And he couldn't say it in so many words to Tifa because when he was talking, his emotions would get in the way, start wrapping around him until he was blinded by them. When that, sense was the last thing coming out of his mouth.

But it went like this in his mind.

This time was...weird. It was rainy all the time this time of year. Sunny days felt...wrong. Rainy days felt...worse.

There was a certain song that had been hummed nearby his bedside when he'd been nursed back to health that, now, inexplicably, nearly made him break down in tears. Thinking about it nearly did it to him. Smelling the fress grass right on the edge of Midgar, where there had once been a city, where there was that weird tang of the edge between the World and ShinRa's city....that scent made his heart race in fear.

So close.

Those were words he remembered vividly here; unsure if he'd heard them, spoken them, thought them. There were...too many things, and not enough ways to control his reactions. And he didn't want people's comfort, so the solution was to try to keep people away until he understood himself better.

All he had to do was remember, in that case; go over his memories carefully and remember the details, the tiny ones; and the unpleasant sensations and the feelings that he associated with what had happened.

His fingers had a tendency to wander over the place on his shirt where, directly beneath, there rested a scar that should have, would have, been fatal. He felt as though each memory had a trailing thread, as he sat there, head bowed, hands clasped together, thinking hard. Each memory had a tail-end that he was trying to grab onto.

Some he could catch, but the important ones...the ones that would drive him crazy for the rest of hie life...every time he reached, they seemed to disappear like spiderwebs that shatter.

"...Zack..." he bit his lip and held himself, thinking of that song-- it was a sweet song, a lullaby-- and how he'd awakened for the first time, hearing it.

He'd brought flowers; he was gripping them too tightly now, but he couldn't let himself stop thinking about it now. Maybe once upon a time, he'd had the luxury of being weak. But now he needed to be strong (because none of the others were left anymore to do it for him).

"I...don't think I told you yet what happened after we left Midgar, I'll start from there and keep talking, okay?" His hand was shaking on the flowers. "...I know you're probably tired of listening to me talk, but you need to know. Okay?"

Maybe it was crazy.

...maybe he didn't care.

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