Author's Notes: Sorry again for the lateness... I've been bogged down a bit with things and school and... basically, I'm kind of stressed out. So hopefully, I won't torment Sephiroth - or my faithful readers - too much longer...

The last chapters before 13 were already pre-written, if you are all confused. No... I'm not a super-human speedy plot machine. This was actually something I wrote that I was holding onto since I started the game... in any event... much plot clarification here. Basically, a guideline for those of you who are confused. (Short) chapter 18 is here. This is also the last chapter of this half in the fanfic. ^_^ but fear not! There is more in "Fear Not".



Cold was like mirrors that revealed what in your heart you would never want to see. It was like a painting that reflected each sin and moral desecration one commited, a thing of shame and intrigue one would wish to keep hidden from the world forever.

Sephiroth's sanity decayed rapidly during that hour when he hid like a wild beast in the forest, watching the children, and listening to their conversations. Hikaru the coward, the evil spirit of a man gone insane by shadow and greed, never showed his face again... but he knew that eventually, he would return.

He served some purpose for the man. Otherwise, why would he abandon him here for safe-keeping with a bunch of children who couldn't cause a scratch? Yet showing himself to them seemed suddenly a terrifying, forbidden idea. The moment he attempted to cross the threshold of bushes onto the open sand, he panicked and turned, never to consider breaking the unspoken taboo again.

Time passed more slowly when one is insane... it doesn't seem to pass quickly enough. With his own blood, drawn by the sharp end of a branch, he painted his arm in tribal, bizarre designs, and pretended with a childish perspective that he was a savage who would go in at night and murder the children.

Their world was not his world. He stained its purity and its very air, for his presence embodied everything wrong and grotesque. His frayed mind was proof enough...

And ever the thought of Ansem crossed his mind, the rage would bubble, broil, and outright churn like an apocalypse. Each time, it would pass quickly... but the next would always last longer, burn stronger. It left him exhausted and all the more deranged.

Hikaru would know his rage... and this moment, he wouldn't let him escape... his death would last for every moment of Ansem's suffering. Surely Ansem suffered. But only thoughts that he was safe... was at peace, kept the silver-haired man surpass the breaking point.

Oh, how cold a mirror can be...

* * * * *

Dion turned his back on the door.

For whatever reason, he realized that with the coming of the planes that flew overhead and the receding shadows and the coming of men with their machines, there was nothing he could do about the door, or Sephiroth and the other man who fell through it.

It was gone now. He looked over his shoulder. Empty air stood where the door once occupied space. No trace or figure gave any indication it was ever there. Then he turned his back on it, tears spilling down his cheeks for no reason.

He hoped to One God that Sephiroth found his love... somehow, their spirits may find each other...

For now, he had his own to worry about.

Axel met him as he began to turn into a back-alley. He didn't know why he was being so ridiculous... he supposed he thought he was going to walk all the way back to Vax. My brother... I had to go, but I'm coming back...

"Kid... hey, kid? What happened to Sephiroth?" Axel turned him around, and was alarmed to meet a pair of mismatched colored eyes.

"He's gone!! Now can you please just let me go and find my brother!?" Tears spilled down his cheeks again, except this time he wasn't angry. He was desperate.

"We've got him," Axel told him, frowning gently. Then he stepped to one side. "I was just going to tell you. Him and the kids are all safe... it was a hell of a time to get them out of there, but... I managed it--"

Dion pushed past him, looking around, wiping his eyes clear. It wouldn't do to meet his brother crying like a girl. He turned his accusing, needy eyes to Axel, his very being screaming where!?

Axel motioned for him to follow. The man moved quickly... that was a good thing, as Dion wanted to get to his brother as quickly as possible. They passed through a sea of green and gray splotches before his eyes. He ignored it, for his eyes sought the gaze that would match his own like a backwards mirror.

He was jostled into a vehicle. The shadows were thickly draped, hiding the standing form in the distance. Then he heard a voice.

"He told me you were alive. I almost didn't believe him."

Vax was standing up, grinning near the back front of the cab of the vehicle. His hands were knitted behind the back of his head, a large grin on his face and it seemed to Dion years since he had ever felt this complete with that smile. He moved toward him, and attacked him with his weight, his arms going around his chest. His brother rewarded him with a soft curse and a soft grunt, hugging him around his neck possessively.

His laugh felt like music. It shook them both, and he started to laugh as well until they were both crying, sitting on the floor, one crushed against the other, their cheeks pressed together as they struggled to catch their breath.

"I sent Axel to get you."

"I know."

"I said if they didn't," Dion replied with a little giggle, "I'd torment them and be really annoying and pester them for stupid stuff like ice cream."

"And steal everyone's left shoe," Vax supplied helpfully, his hands locked around the small of Dion's back.

They closed their eyes and sprawled out on the rough-hewn cot. It was the most comfortable thing Dion had ever slept on, felt soft to his weary, exhausted body. He tipped his chin up at his brother, and was surprised to see him blushing. With a stupid expression of dawning realization, he quickly removed himself from his brother's body.

That's right... he still doesn't know...

"Sorry," he mumbled, sitting on the edge of the cot near him.

"Don't apologize."

"For what?"

"For whatever it is you're saying sorry for. If anything, I should be the one to apologize... I didn't mean to yell at you. I had no right to judge you... and we were sitting ducks besides. If you hadn't sent Axel, we probably would have died. The safehouse thing wasn't working anymore and the shadow walkers would've killed us dead," Vax explained, sitting up and turning to look at him. His clothes were fresh and new, donated by the militia. He rubbed his wrist before he continued, smiling. "Enough about me! I wanna hear all about you. Tell me, what did *you* do?"

"I didn't do anything," Dion admitted. "But your gift... I had to give it to someone."


The boy flushed, cleared his throat and clarified. "It was the gem you caught out of the sky. It was somebody's spirit. A man found me, said he was looking for someone important to him... but it wasn't until later that he found out I had it. Before then, I thought he was just an ass... but--"

"It was a person?"

"Yeah... that would explain how it got past the anti-magic field thing... or maybe the field generator got damaged somehow. I don't think it has."

"No. I was told by a soldier that it's still on... but it's kind of obvious that it's useless to have it on.. they're considering turning it off so the Magi from the South can come up here and help us."

Dion reached over to clasp his brother's hand. I want to tell you something. "What are we going to do now...?"

"I don't know... I want the fighting to stop. I want us to be safe again... and maybe mom will be turned back to normal."

It's really important. "Yeah..."

"What's wrong?" Vax rubbed his thumb over his knuckles. His eyes noted the shiver that rolled through his brother's body and for a minute, he thought maybe his brother had caught a cold. "Are you sick?"

The boy leaned toward him. Their hands switched places, and Dion held his hand. Their fingers locked, and he pulled his brother toward him as he slid his thigh over to press his. "I don't know. I missed you, that's all... listen..." He swallowed, grew pale... "I have to tell you something..."

Is it wrong to love you this much?

Vax's eyes never left his face. He followed wherever his brother's eyes went, but always returned to see the mixture of confusion and emotion alternate in the soft minute movements of his mouth. Then he pressed close, and kissed the soft mouth, once on the corner, and once more with more care fully. Dion didn't even gasp. His breath was choked off momentarily, but he breathed again. Deeply.

"What is it, brother?" Vax said quietly, as he leaned his head against his shoulder with a small smile.

Have you dreamed of me, sweet, vague and wonderful dreams? Dreams where you didn't want to wake up?


I've been dreaming

of you.