Disclaimer

The characters are not mine… But this fiction belongs to me!!! My fic, my mistakes… (cause I know I make few, so I apologise). Please don't hesitate and write me your comments! Oh, and before I forgot : this fiction may contain yaoi stuff, so do not flame, you have been warned!!! Now enjoy!

Htress

htress@jenovaproject.com

Second chance

- Aaaaargh!!!

Cloud retrieved his sword from Sephiroth, the fatal blow running through his enemy and Sephiroth fell backward, already paralysed by his oncoming death. A violent shiver shook him once more, the madness that had taken over him fading away and he realised it was finally over. He heard a painful cry and a glimpse of gold appeared above him. Cloud.

- Cloud… you… did it… Th-thank you… I'm… finally free…

He could feel a weight upon him, a vague whirl of broken cries, from the only person yet alive who would mourn him. The only person that made him feel alive, for a too short period of time. Cloud was the only person to love him despite all the atrocities JENOVA forced him to do.

His sight blackened, the pain going away, Sephiroth's spirit was commending to return to the planet. With what was left in him, he grabbed Cloud's shoulder and managed to crack a smile.

- Love you… Good… Bye… C… l… o… u… d…

Sephiroth made a muffled sound as the green glow in his eyes faded away. His body stiffened a last time and he died.

******

- NOOOO!!! Sephiroth… no…

Cid, Red XIII and Vincent startled and looked at themselves, they obviously heard the same thing… Though they had doubted that Sephiroth and Cloud were once bond, but not that bond. And they realised how much it cost for their leader to end this threat.

Cloud strapped the Masamune on his back, cradling his lover's body in his arms. His vision blurred by tears, exhausted from the raging battle, he staggered toward the exit. Red ran toward him, followed by Vincent and Cid. The ex-Turk liberated Cloud from it's burden. He understood too well what Cloud was feeling right now, the loss of the loved one…

- You want to bury him? He asked in concern.

The blond trembled and nodded. Vincent regretted his question when he heard Cloud began to cry again, crushing on the floor.

- Oh God!!! I-I killed him…

An earthquake urged them to get out of the cave. Cid grabbed the shattered Cloud and ran to the Highwind, Red and Vincent behind him.

******

Pain. Heartbreaking pain. Why did he feel pain anyway? There's not supposed to have any in the Lifestream… Sephiroth's spirit materialised and he looked above him, in the Highwind. A blond boy was curled on his side, crying his heart out…

He watched Holy destroy Meteor… He cursed himself.  If only he could have been stronger to resist to JENOVA's call… If only… But why was he suffering? Wasn't he dead?

- Cetras! Anybody… why seeing Cloud broken is tearing me apart? Why can I feel this sharp prick piercing my very soul?

- Sephiroth?

A young woman appeared, surrounded by a white glow. Her brown hair and pink dress floated with the waves of the Lifestream.

- Who… are you?

The woman looked embarrassed.

- You don't remember? I'm Aerith, the Cetra you killed in the City of Ancient…

Sephiroth lowered his head, ashamed.

- I know I killed many people… Aerith… but I can't remember any details, like if I lost parts of my memory… I'm really sorry if… I killed you… I didn't mean…

- Yes, I know, she said him with a smile, You have been separated from JENOVA when Cloud killed you, and she kept all the memory of the acts she commanded to you, that's why you don't remember.

- I see… But, Sephiroth's voice became hoarser, why am I suffering that much?

- You say you actually feel pain? It is rather unusual… Let me see through your soul…

She disappeared in a flash, and a white glow surrounded Sephiroth. A rush of feelings submerged him as he revived his childhood in Hojo's hands, his Mako poisoning, the Wutai war, his first meeting with Zack, a boat trip when he took care of a blond seasick trooper… Then it was blank.

There was something amiss, and Aerith was forced to admit it. There was a great emptiness in this soul, like if he had only witnessed his life without being able to truly live it. But beside that emptiness was a fierce flame which burned deep within him, locked away by a mysterious force… JENOVA… had locked up…

Aerith summoned the Cetra council.

******

Meanwhile, on the Highwind, Barret caught Cloud at midfall. The boy was dangerously pale, weary and seemed ready to burst into tears again. Since Vincent related what they saw in the crater, and after Cloud told them about his relation with Sephiroth while they were in SOLDIER, the gang was trying to support their leader.

- Barret…, he said faintly

- Hush, spike, ya need rest. Hey! Nanaki! C'm here!

The cat stepped behind him, waving his flaming tail.

- What is the matter?

- Cast sleepel on Cloud, foo's tired but won't go sleep…

- Alright.

Cloud's eyelids fluttered shut and his body went limp under the spell's effect. Barret put him on his shoulder and transported him to his bed. He was about to leave for the command centre when he heard Tifa yell.

- Everyone!!! Quick, come here! It's Aerith!!!

******

- I'm glad to see all of you… I don't have a lot of time, so I'll make it quick; the Cetra council will revive Sephiroth.

- WHAT???

They all started to talk furiously, but Aerith imposed silence.

- Calm down, all of you. His soul is suffering in the Lifestream. The real threat was JENOVA, and Cloud annihilated her by eliminating Sephiroth. Don't blame him. I came to warn you that you'll have to look after him, because he will not be totally healed, and he will need help, at least for a while.

Vincent stepped forward as Aerith began to vanish.

- How can a being suffers in the Lifestream?

- When a life haven't been fulfill. Usually, the stream take care of those souls by rebirth them… but Sephiroth… is different… goodbye…

Yuffie turned green as the Highwind made a swift turn and started to descend rather quickly. Cid's voice came out of the intercom.

- Everyone hang on something, we're going down! I'll try to land as softly as I can… Lost what?!? Damn, ?$/$?*?&&*&(?"/

A rumble send them rolling on the deck while the plane crashed.

******

They managed to reach Kalm Inn after the crash, some among them still cold out. The plane was a loss, but everybody was alive.

- Urgh…

- Looks like Aerith was right, he's alive…, Red stated, Vincent, try Cure on him.

- Why should we Cure him? He's nothing more than a murderer…

- Tifa, Vincent interrupted her, He's been given a second chance… And besides, Aerith told you, it was JENOVA.

- Why are you so $&?% concerned about him, anyway?

- Cid, he is Lucrecia's son… I owe her that. I couldn't protect him then, but I can now, please understand…

He put a hand above Sephiroth, and a dim green glow surrounded him, healing  the remnant of Cloud's Omnislash. But the spell wasn't strong enough to mend his broken bones. Vincent wrapped his chest tightly so he shouldn't hurt himself too much. Cid helped him while Tifa was looking over Cloud and Yuffie.

- Vincent, Cloud is awakening…

- Mmm… Tifa? What happened… how did I get there?

- The Highwind crashed while you were under sleepel…

Cloud's eyes went bleary and he turned to face the wall. Why didn't they leave me… He plunged his face within his pillow as burning tears started to roll down on his cheeks. Tifa sighed.

- Cloud, Aerith also came to revive Sephiroth.

The blond pounced off his bed and grabbed Tifa by the shoulders, asking her if this was a dream.

- Open your eyes, silly, and look over there, she added bitterly.

He walked toward Vincent who let him only sat on his bed. Cloud was shaking slightly as he touched that tender cheek, now warm with new life. Vincent warned him about his condition, telling him that Sephiroth should be recovering for some weeks.

- You just have to go get some food, I'll watch over those two.

Cid and Tifa nodded, and they left for the dinning room with Cloud.

******

A slight slit of green appeared under his eyelashes, making the dark haired man smile above him. He lifted his hand and touched the ivory face, smiling in return.

- You still babysitting me? You seem happy, though… is Hojo dead?, he joked.

Vincent reared back, visibly shocked, but answered his question anyway, nodding. Sephiroth's eyes widened.

- What? He's really… owww!

Vincent pinned him on the bed, while he gripped with a painful coughing fit. Sephiroth didn't struggle, and after few minutes he calmed down, just to stare again in those unusual red eyes. He was about to ask something else, but Vincent put a finger on his lips.

- I'll answer your question when you'll be better. For now, all you need to know is that you are sane and safe. Aerith came to explain why you were returning and no one here will harm you. Now rest. Cloud won't be happy if he finds you more hurt than you were yesterday…

Sephiroth blushed when he heard his name, and he figured out Cloud had finally told their story. Vincent smiled down at him, covering him to the neck. Sephiroth let his thoughts go for a moment and fell asleep.

******

- It's definitely a wonder how fast you can recover, stated Vincent, and how you can survive with such a weight clinging on you neck all day long… he added, pointing Cloud

The boy snuggled closer, pouting at Vincent.

- I still can't believe you were babysitting him when he was young…

- You two seem so happy together… But where will you go when Sephiroth'll be better?

- We were thinking about going to a small village south to Rocket Town… Katailu. President Shin-Ra once gave me a mansion there, but I never had the time to visit…, Sephiroth explained, And you? You won't go back to sleep in that coffin I hope!

Vincent turned red as he was wondering what he was going to tell him. Then he heard Cloud say Rocket Town and he nearly fell off his chair.

- Come on, Vince! I'm not blind, you know… or deaf for that matter. You're just melting when he's around. And, he playfully added, you should have gagged him cause he sure is a screamer…

- Wh-When did you…

- Oh, every time you two were at it, of course… In the Highwind, in the Inns… I even caught you in the Chocobos stable one time, but I left when the fun began, though, I'm not a pervert! He chuckled back, You two are cute together…

- Oh! Vinny has a date!!! Sephiroth exclaimed, So, tell me who's the lucky one?

Vincent just stared at the two lovers cuddled on the bed, then blurted out Cid's name. Sephiroth grinned before adding something about the girls and Barret that send them rolling on the floor with laughter.

******

Katailu was in the middle of the forest south to Rocket Town. And Sephiroth's place was near the lake, meaning that they were partially isolated from the rest of the village. But the house was truly a sight ; it just looked like it was a part of the forest as well. They arrived at noon, escorted by Vincent and Cid. Cloud and Sephiroth entered the house and made a quick tour.

- Mmm… we'll have to do some house cleaning for sure, said Cloud, There's dust everywhere…

- Then let's go get some cleaning supplies… The shop is still open, gil is not a problem and the sooner we'll finish, the better.

He leaned over to steal a kiss from Cloud before going to town to do some shopping. Broom, cleaning stuff along food, clothes and many other things you usually find in a house ended up on the chocobo's back, and even if the house wasn't that far, they were grateful to have them.

Useless to say that they cleaned the house for the next hours until the night fell. Anyway, the house was shining when they had a late dinner. After this, they slumped down on the large bed of the master's chamber to catch some sleep. Sephiroth wrapped his arms around Cloud.

- Tomorrow will be a long day, Cloud…

- Mmmm?

- The Cetra council will free what JENOVA locked up in my mind. I already told you, I do not remember anything of my past, I only know some facts… without being able to feel them… You will have to help me, Cloud… Will you?

- Sure, I'll always be there for you…

The embrace tighten, and Sephiroth felt a swift kiss brushing his cheek. They quickly fell asleep, worn out by a tiring day.

******

Morning sun had come, tickling Cloud's eyes to open. He found himself warmly snuggled into Sephiroth's arms. He looked up, seeing that he was already awake.

- Are you ready, Cloud? He asked.

Cloud blinked in confusion.

- What for?

Sephiroth didn't answer. A bright flash appeared and Aerith suddenly stood before them. A familiar sensation invaded Cloud's body as his spirit was thrown in the Lifestream. A child was holding his hand. A scared little boy with silver hair and deep green eyes.

- Cloud, he heard Aerith spoke, you'll have to guide him as we are going to free is true nature. He'll have to live again some important moment in his life. Cloud, he chose you to help him to go through this. Whenever he'll be too scared, tired or lost, he'll come back to you, in his infant form. Help him to find his true self.

With that she vanished, leaving them in what was looked like a lab.

******

He could hear a kid wailing. The kind of cries that goes right to the heart. Then he realised it was him, his own voice ringing through the lab. Screaming in pain and terrified, he ran for the door, but two strong arms grabbed him and slapped him hard across the face. He landed on the floor, blood dripping from his exploded lip.

- Stop bawling you stupid child! I'm not finished with you yet, we still have a lot of test to do!

While the little Sephiroth could only continue to cry, Hojo pulled him by the collar and hooked him up in a tank. The child struggled and screamed in pure terror as he was shut inside and began to be surrounded by a green substance. And then he saw him. His babysitter, Vincent. The only one that wasn't putting him into test or hurting him with a needle… He was angry. Hojo slapped him, as he did with Sephiroth few minutes ago… but Vincent didn't fall on the floor. He was strong and he wasn't crying… And just then Sephiroth felt like he was drowning and everything became black.

When his eyes opened, he saw Vincent over him, obviously worried. He was running, with him scooped in his arms. Sephiroth was feeling faint and heavy. His little arms were limp and all he could do was whimpering softly. Vincent stopped abruptly, dropping the child as something hit him.

- Sephiroth…

Sephiroth never saw Vincent again.

******

The lab disappeared, leaving Sephiroth and Cloud into the flow of the Lifestream. Cloud, who was only able to witness until then, came closer and put a hand on Sephiroth's shoulder.

- I never saw him again… Cloud, I think… I think of Vincent like I think of what a father is. I loved him, then, and I understand now why I grew so bitter. He missed me. I wanted to be like him, strong and cold, never flinch…

Cloud watched the little Sephiroth cry silently. His childhood could be described by two words : painful and lonely. The blond held the child for a while, humming a soft lullaby until he calmed down. The next step was the Wutai War, where Sephiroth's conscience had been shattered, the first internal struggle the soon-to-be General had after a bloodshed that sent thousand of human being to death. Sephiroth was a broken man, disgusted by the thought of war, longing for peace. He suffered from loneliness and the uninterrupted testing of Professor Hojo… leaving him with the bitter taste of being used. The next few years of his life had been empty, until he met a certain seasick blond boy.

******

He walked on the deck, savouring the sea wind blow through his silver hair. Another fruitless trip to Junon. The third in two months, only to go check some useless defence barriers now that the war was over. He looked above him at the sky, sighing at the stars as if he was blaming them for his fate. He was so lost in his mind that he didn't hear the footsteps behind him, he only noticed when the trooper bumped into him. Sephiroth turned to see a mess of spiky hair crawling on the deck to the railing. He came closer, instinctively rubbing the blond's back as he heaved.

- Seasick?

The blond sat against he railing and nodded, his eyes closed to keep himself from throwing up again. Sephiroth sat down in front of him, still looking at the stars.

- Gods…

The General lowered his gaze. The blond's eyes were open wide in horror and was struggling to get on his feet.

- I-I'm sorry, sir… N-never do it again…

Sephiroth got up, wondering why the trooper was so afraid of him. 'Might as well be from the Draven unit… Poor boy, way too young to face him…' he thought, remembering the name of the Draven unit leader. The boy covered his head with his arms, curling into a ball.

- I swear… D-don't beat me… I'll never do it again!

Somehow feeling weird, Sephiroth pulled him up and told him that he'll never hurt him. A promise that he intended to keep. Suddenly a bright flash cut the scene away.

******

Sephiroth was clinging to Cloud, refusing to let go. Aerith appeared again, surrounded by other people standing around the two of them.

- Cloud… You gave enough strength to Sephiroth so he could be able to retrieve his lost memories. Your time here is over. Sephiroth must face alone what remains to be seen.

Cloud started to feel dizzy and began to fade away.

- No! Don't leave me alone…, Sephiroth protested

- Am not… Be strong, and come back, I'll wait for you…

The little child turned to the Cetra council, waiting for his final ordeal. As they vanished, he heard Aerith's voice.

- Don't forget who you are…

******

Fire, blood, pain… he saw himself spreading it like a disease. He saw how deeply he hurt Cloud by killing so many innocent people, including his mother. He manipulated him, fooled him… Cloud… kill Cloud… he could still hear it whisper.

It was so dark inside of him, like if he had no soul, no heart. What was going on? Where was he? Sephiroth knew he had a heart, though, why was he so heartless, then? In all that bloodshed, where was he? What was he doing? He felt restrained. Opening his eyes, he found himself in some sort of energy cell.

- Let me go

- You're mine, child

- Mother, let me go!

He suddenly felt stiff, witnessing his lost, his soul locked away from his body.

- JENOVA! LET ME GO!

A demented laugh answered him as he saw his Masamune cut through Aerith's chest.

******

- No! I don't want to! JENOVA, let me go!

- Seph! Seph! Snap out of it!!!

Sephiroth woke up with a start, trying to slip away from Cloud's arms. The blond tighten his embrace.

- It's gonna be alright… You're back. Calm down and look around. We're back home.

The man turned abruptly, fearing to see JENOVA again, instead he faced his spiky-blond lover. Then something Cloud never expected to see happened; Sephiroth pulled him close and started to sob. Cloud just stroked his hair gently, receiving this torrent of guilt and regrets, trying to soothe him until he fell asleep again. He turned to Tifa, Barret and Cid.

- See? Nothing to worry about. He's just a little shocked. He's been talking in his sleep for the past two days, it's good to see that he can wake up. I guess he will be ok, if I give him time to adjust…

- We just wanted to see if you were ok…

- Tifa, Barret interrupted, leave'em be. I think I would have done the same thing for Dyne… in sort'a way. But if you're in any trouble…

- Thanks, Barret… for coming and understanding. I owe you two so much.

Cloud watched Tifa and Barret go and walked toward Cid, who was holding a small package.

- Vincent said that this is the only book he couldn't start… And wanted Sephiroth to have it.

- Wonder what it can be…

******

(Few days later)

Cloud read for the twentieth time the page. For the twentieth time he shook his head. In the kitchen, Sephiroth was talking on the phone with Vincent.

- Vincent? Vincent? Cid? Vincent just what? Oh my… I think we will come today for diner. I'll explain.

Cloud finally tore his gaze off the book and looked at Sephiroth.

- How did he take it?

- Err… I heard him say 'what?' and then it made 'thud'… Cid told me he fainted, Sephiroth answered playing nervously with his fingers.

- I can understand it, myself I can't believe it… I guess we're going to Rocket Town?

- Right away.

They saddled the gold chocobos, Millo and Arche and headed for Rocket Town. Cid was making some tea for Vincent, who meanwhile recovered from the initial shock. But he haven't still tell Cid, who was so by upset, knowing that few things could send his mate so off-balance. When they heard their guest knock on the door, Cid just growled to come in and poured tea into two more cups.

- Now would you please tell me what the f&?% you told Vincent? Even he don't want to talk…

- See for yourself…, Sephiroth said, showing him an old book.

After several minutes, Cid stopped reading, looked at Vincent, then at Sephiroth and lit up a cigarette. After few more lines, he just fell off his chair, laughing like crazy. Vincent stared at him, then took the book laying on the floor and began to read, following the markers.

I know it was not right… but how I love him! I knew… that he wouldn't do this to me if he was sober… He was so depressed. Somehow it didn't surprised me to find him at the bar. It helped, though. I phoned the professor to inform him that I haven't found the Turk. I didn't wanted Hojo knowing Vincent so drunk he couldn't even stand. It might just have upset him and the last thing I want to witness is a fight between those two. I guess it was all my fault… I said I didn't love him, even if it was not true, just to protect him from Hojo… Hojo… He has changed so much, he's becoming cooler and distant every day. Sometimes I even heard him talk to himself and laugh like crazy. It's starting to scare me. On the other hand, Vincent is so much more concerned and sweet with me… That is why I decided to go on with him tonight. I feel like I owe him this… Besides, he was so drunk, I don't think he will recall anything by the morning. Hopefully Hojo will never know this, hopefully…

……………

I just came back from the lab… I can't believe this… I'm expecting… I must do something to cover it up… Hojo must never discover that Vincent is the father! And Vincent… he don't remember. I wish he'll never know, it might break him… or worse. I must figure out a way to drag Hojo out of the lab tonight… Maybe if I steal his glasses…

Vincent couldn't read more. He couldn't, because he was out cold on the floor. Cid was on his side by the second he hit the floor.

- Damn… Maybe we should give him some time. We'll talk about it tomorrow. Gimme a second, I'll put him to bed and we'll go out for diner.

- You'll leave him alone? Cloud asked

- Well, when he'll wake up, I just don't want to be here. He will shut down into his thoughts or either go back to sleep. Very boring stuff. I'll go watch over his mood when we'll come back.

And so they left for the restaurant. Few hours later, they returned to find out Vincent waiting in the kitchen. He literally threw himself on Sephiroth, saying how much he was sorry for being absent of his life.

- You tried, father… it's the only thing that counts…

- I wish I could have done more… And don't call me 'father'… Vincent will do.

Cid and Cloud thought that it was the perfect moment for a loooong walk around Rocket Town.

- Hey, Spike, should I call you step daughter or step son?

- Who would believe that… a whole family of guys together…

Well, looks like Sephiroth is not the only one granted a second chance…

End

(or it is?)

Author's note:

A lot of sequels will follow this fic. Maybe something big will happen, and also few moments in the life of those heroes will be written. And let's just say that many adventures are to come. Next chapter: Knocking on heaven's doors.